Honoring our many “fathers”

Happy Father’s Day to all men celebrating their very first Father’s Day – or their 20th or their 50th!

Many of us have lost our fathers — or don’t have a relationship with a Dad that calls for celebration — so today can be mixed with longing and sadness.

On this Father’s Day, I am thinking about the men in our lives who’ve cheered us on and made us better women.  Even if you’re not sure, or don’t feel supported by men, I invite you to think back over your life to men who’ve been kind, helpful, inspiring or empowering.  Men who’ve helped you along on your path.

The last photo I ever took of my Dad solo. He died a few weeks later during surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm. I was greatly influenced by his integrity, work ethic, and positive attitude and then blessed further to inherit his gene for very few gray hairs!

My father died nine years ago at 72 and was a lifelong source of inspiration and positive regard who never, ever limited my possibilities.  He was a self-made man whose example of hanging in there through one hard time after another still informs my life each and every day when I face my own challenges.

He always encouraged me to stay positive, dream big, and be all that I could be in the world.

“If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing well” was his mantra!

I marvel at his vision for me, because he didn’t have that kind of support from his parents nor did he have the financial means to make a big vision an easy accomplishment.

So, on this Father’s Day, I want honor the men in my life and yours who have been there for us.

*This week’s Pinspiration*

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[pinit]Celebrating the Men in our lives over at debbiephillips.com- Women On Fire

Maybe it was a fun uncle who taught you how to eat peanut butter from a jar with a spoon! Or, an older brother who helped you with your homework.  Or a boss who respected your opinions and competence – and helped you to build your self-confidence.

Which male friend, brother, father, son, uncle, nephew, teacher, boss, neighbor, godfather, grandfather – helped to “father” you to become the amazing woman you are today?

To explore, consider answering each one of these 10 questions with the name of at least one man in your life who:

  1. Helped you to expand your thinking and competence?
  2. Believed in you?
  3. Inspired you to believe in yourself?
  4. Showed you how worthy you are?
  5. Was kind and caring?
  6. Made you laugh yourself silly?
  7. Comforted you through tough times?
  8. Instilled in you values you’re proud of?
  9. Taught you life or professional skills?
  10. Made a difference in your life?

After completing this list, you might ask yourself:

What did I learn from this exercise?

Is there anything that surprised me?

Is there a “father” I’d like to thank for his part in who I am today?

In completing it myself, I was surprised by the large number of men I’ve felt support from – and some I hadn’t thought about in a long time but their influence remains!

And, finally, I’d like to honor the dozens of men who read The Spark! each week.

When I started this weekly newsletter nearly four years ago for women, I assumed only women would be interested.  Au contraire!

Nearly every week I receive feedback from at least one of our male readers – and it is almost always heartfelt and encouraging.

So, I asked some of our men to share their thoughts about being part of the Women on Fire community.

The first is from my dear friend Father Edward Beck of Pelham, New York, who you may see on CNN where he covers faith and religion:

“In my life, community is a necessary asset. With Women on Fire, Debbie has given life to a community of women who support — and yes, love one another, even if, at times, from afar. I’m jealous.

“As a man who reads The Spark, I’m encouraged to incorporate some of the wonderful gifts of women into a man’s world that sometimes can seem less than empowering. Thanks for reminding us men how it’s supposed to be done.”

And this from Bob Campana, a businessman and entrepreneur from Lorain, Ohio:

“The advice and inspiration shared via The Spark! charges my batteries every time I read it.  We share a common goal in aspiring to achieve our potential and the Women on Fire newsletter offers us that little something special to move us closer.  I wish there was a Men on Fire newsletter, but I am thrilled to have the opportunity to be inspired by your newsletter.”

And, from reader Dan Mulhern, the former First Gentleman of Michigan, who is now an award-winning professor teaching leadership at the University of California at Berkeley.

He has been a champion of Women on Fire from the beginning.  Dan is one of those angels standing over us whispering ‘grow, grow, grow.’  And, always is wanting to help us along our path, including recently introducing Maria Shriver to Women on Fire.  “Two great women doing great things need to know each other,” he wrote in making the introduction.

Thank you to the men who have fathered us.  Thank you, Edward, Bob and Dan – and all of the men we join forces with in making this a better world.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and hope you will share them on our blog.

Have a wonderful week. I’m off to New York City where I will see many of you at the Women on Fire tea at Lady Mendl’s Tea Parlour next Friday. Yay!