May Book to Live By

“Women Who Spark After 50” by Aleta Norris

Do you find yourself lamenting your unrealized dreams? Are you experiencing burnout or boredom from a lifelong career?

Bestselling author and coach Aleta Norris knew she needed to reinvent something in her life. So, that’s exactly what she did. In this book, she asks the right questions to get you ready for an amazing second half. Through checklists and exercises, Aleta provides a roadmap to put your dream first after years of taking care of others.

April Book to Live By

“Only Love is Real” by Brian Weiss M.D.

This beautiful book portrays two strangers, Elizabeth and Pedro, who are unaware they have been lovers throughout centuries until fate brings them together again, demonstrating how each of us has a soul mate waiting to reunite with us.

March Book to Live By

“Wild, Beautiful and Free” by Sophfronia Scott

#1 in African American Historical Fiction on Amazon

This stunning work of fiction by award-winning author and Women on Fire member, Sophfronia Scott tells the story of Jeanette, a mixed race, escaped slave as she searches for purpose, love, and her place in the Civil War-era world. An instant BEST SELLER!

February Book to Live By

“More Thank a Bag” by Cindy Monroe

Debbie’s friend, Cindy Monroe founded Thirty-One Gifts in 2003, in the basement of her Chattanooga, TN home. It grew to be one of the largest direct sales companies of the last 20 years. In “More Than a Bag” (edited by our own Kacy Cook), Cindy shares the story of her journey and gives readers front row seats to the bumps and wins that make Thirty-One Gifts a huge success!


January’s Book to Live By

“The Little Mo Effect” by Pier Boutin, M.D.

High in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, walking is key to survival. With untreated club feet, a child faces a dismal future. Despite Little Mo’s struggles to walk, his magnetic charm captivated Women on Fire member, Dr. Boutin, an orthopedic surgeon.

Bringing him to the United States for treatment changed his life – and hers.


June’s Book To Live By

Life’s lessons are those intense pieces of knowledge we gather from experience. We learn from these nuggets and deem them to be valuable wisdom that can guide us.

But have you considered that you may also be lugging around damaging lessons you need to unlearn?

A compelling new memoir by one of Women on Fire’s most beloved wise women shares how we can twist mistakes and misfortune into destructive beliefs and behaviors. We know Mary La, formerly Mary Landberg, as an author, artist, and retired hospice nurse.

Her latest book takes us through a harrowing yet heartening journey of healing. I am so proud to announce that our June Book To Live By is Mary’s brave, powerful, and incomparable story:

The Great Unlearning by Mary La

The Great Unlearning by Mary La

Each chapter is accompanied by one of Mary’s “concept portraits,” stunning fine-art photographs of herself depicting the emotional core of the story’s theme. Like her artwork, her words capture searing details on every hard-hitting page.

The book is told in three sections: Remembering, Unlearning, and Transcendence. In Remembering, Mary reveals a chaotic childhood of neglect, abuse, abandonment, and poverty that led to risky, self-defeating behavior as she sought to belong in a world that refused to see her. Even as she showed herself to be an exemplary student and athlete, Mary struggled alone to get by.

As a teen, drug and alcohol abuse blurred her moral sensibilities, and she began a pattern of saying yes when she would have been far better served by saying no. Over time, the “lessons” grew darker and more dangerous, bringing feelings of self-loathing, guilt, and shame.

In Unlearning, Mary tells how panic attacks and crippling physical pain finally led her to seek the support of 30 practitioners from every imaginable healing tradition in the world, from Western medicine to Eastern philosophy. Some startling results brought profound self-discovery.

Mary La photo

She also shares her history with a circle of wise, caring women who helped her learn to love every piece of herself.

As Mary reaches Transcendence, she is able to find the love and belonging she always craved. But these came with a deep understanding that her suffering, too, had great value. It is the key to her remarkable career as a hospice nurse.

The Great Unlearning is a beautiful book that reads like a novel as Mary writes with unflinching vulnerability and brutal honesty in revealing her long-hoarded secrets. But her account is by no means a pity party. Rather, it is a victory march, as Mary reclaims her rightful joy. In fact, she was recently married, and we send her our love and congratulations!

I’ve rarely, if ever, read such an impressive, raw, soul-baring memoir. This breathtaking journey of healing leaves us with hope and inspiration that we, too, can leave behind a traumatic past and find true peace.

I give it my highest recommendation.

With love and peace for your beautiful heart,


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May’s Book To Live By

If you are still waiting for life to return to the “normal” of yesterday, welcome to the world of tomorrow.

The headlines are disconcerting: “How to Prepare for a Future of Work in Flux.” “The Future of Work in the Digital Age.” “Work from Home Is Here to Stay.”

Technologies have been advancing for decades to allow us to work from home — or anywhere — pushed along by social and environmental issues. But the pandemic lockdown has locked the new normal into place.

How are you managing the transformation?

Maybe you have the latest ring light and the perfect backdrop, but have you updated your communication skills and professional etiquette?

Are you having difficulty getting and keeping attention in those Zoom meetings? Do you project confidence and competence while approaching clients online?

To help you get up to speed, our May Book To Live By is:

The New Hello: What to Say, What to Do in the New World of Work by Tracy Hooper


Tracy Hooper is a former TV news anchor, a professional speaker, and the founder of The Confidence Project, which teaches how to embody confidence, increase your professional presence, and advance your career.

She would seem to be a natural for navigating the new work environments.

But like so many of us, Tracy didn’t know if her business could survive the avalanche of change. She was accustomed to face-to-face counseling and in-person workshops. She, too, felt a rising panic in the rapidly shifting terrain.

Her clients inundated her with problems they had never faced before: How can I keep myself and my team from working 24/7 since we’re at home? How do we keep our company culture alive? How do I network remotely?

Tracy looks at the challenges of adapting to the new technical and personal disruptions, but also stresses that the fundamentals of connection and competence remain.

She sees a need for greater self-awareness, re-examining even such basics as our vocabulary and body language.

With compassion and honesty, Tracy Hooper shows us how to present ourselves in the new world while maintaining the old-fashioned principles of grace, civility, and leadership.

The New Hello offers practical tools, tips, and examples to guide you today and in the future.


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P.S. Because I learn nearly all I know from awesome women, finding out about this book was no exception.

My amazing friend Kelly Mooney, founder of Equipt Women, shared it with me. I serve on the advisory board of Equipt Women.

If you’re in the first 10 years of your career and searching for a lift in your professional life with a community of inspiring women, check out Equipt Women.

How to Ask for Help

Do you have a hard time asking for help?

As Women on Fire, asking for help is an essential life skill, like learning your ABCs. And let’s face it, these past couple of years have been tough. We can all use help with something.

Yet most of us admit we aren’t so great at asking for help.

Writer Agapi Stassinopoulos, who is better than anyone I know in asking for help, once shared with me her philosophy:

“It was something that my mother taught me … to simply ask people in a gracious way for whatever I might want from them. I am ruthless. I will ask for anything. I see a nice person and I ask, ‘Do you mind helping me?’ Nine times out of 10 they are very happy to help.”

The hardest part about asking for help is fear of rejection.

You have to believe you are worthy.

It might help to remember:

The Answer is YES

I put my own advice to the test on a cross-country flight after a drunken, vulgar-mouthed man plopped down in the window seat next to me.

At first, I tried to simply ignore his crudeness, swearing, and wild attempts to engage me in conversation, including calling me “baby.”

Next, I considered silently slipping a note to the flight attendant, but I stopped myself. I realized this was situation where I needed to take real action and ask for help because there would be a price to pay for not asking — a rough and uncomfortable five hours.

So, I unbuckled my seatbelt, walked to the front, and told the flight attendant about the man.
“I need your help.” I explained.

The crew sprang into action, and I was quickly moved to another seat.

I had been concerned about the man’s reaction. I didn’t want to humiliate him publicly (even though he deserved it), nor did I want to put out anyone else by changing seats. Fortunately, my request for help was handled professionally by the flight attendants. The man did make derogatory comments when I moved, but he was instructed to sit in his seat and stop speaking. Surprisingly, he complied.

Like most everything, the more you practice asking for help, the better you will become at it.

One strategy for developing the skill is to consider right now: What do you need help with? Who can you ask? How will you approach them? (Remember Agapi’s mother’s suggestion about being gracious.) If they say no, how will you react? And then who will you go to next to ask?

Please share with me a time you asked for help and received a surprise or benefits beyond what you ever expected. We all learn from each other’s courage. Happy asking!


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April’s Book To Live By

Everyone has a story.

That’s the first thing Nancy Slonim Aronie tells you. And she believes you must share it.

You are about to have a writing class from one of the most respected and revered teachers in the business. This is a woman who has spent nearly half a century helping others find the magic that comes from telling their story.

Nancy is the founder of the Chilmark Writing Workshop on Martha’s Vineyard. She has taught at Kripalu, Omega, Esalen, and Harvard. She has been a newspaper columnist and an NPR contributor.

She is also one of the great allies in my beloved Wise Women circle, and she is a long-time friend and mentor to Women on Fire.

I am so happy and honored to announce that our April Book To Live By is:

Memoir as Medicine: The Healing Power of Writing Your Messy, Imperfect, Unruly (but Gorgeously Yours) Life Story by Nancy Slonim Aronie


Nancy’s first book, Writing from the Heart, is a classic in the field. This one, hot off the presses, looks specifically at the memoir. As the title implies, Nancy believes that writing your story can be a balm — for the writer and the reader.

A big part of Nancy’s story began when her nine-month-old son, Dan, was diagnosed with diabetes. Twenty-two years later, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Nancy and her husband cared for Dan through his illness during the last 16 years of his life.

For guidance, she did lots of reading, but she never found the book she most needed to read. So she eventually wrote it, leading the way to a powerful healing. She believes with all her heart the same can happen for you, no matter the source of your pain.

A writer must do more than instruct; she must also inspire. Nancy lays out the path and processes of storytelling. She demonstrates where to look and how to listen. She helps you discover the necessary humor and humility, the gratitude and grace to enhance the telling.

She guides you on how to search out the details, telling you what to avoid and what not to avoid. There are lots of writing prompts, tips, and examples from her own writing as well as from other masters of the craft.

Nancy always supports and protects the writer to enable the courage to come through. This book gives you the capacity to trust yourself and your readers as you leave your comfort zone to do the soul work of writing.

Nancy Slonim Aronie is a pathfinder, and Memoir as Medicine will help you find your way and perhaps change your life in the process.

To learn more about Nancy and the Chilmark Writing Workshop, including a special class this fall for Women on Fire members, visit


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Lose This Word from Your Vocabulary!

One of the hallmarks of being a Woman on Fire is that we are aware of our powerful impact on others. Today, I want to shine a light on a single word that hinders conversation and, in fact, can stop it right in its tracks.

Word choice can influence meaning, especially for women who pride themselves in responding thoughtfully and caringly.

A single offending word can deflate instead of enhance someone’s life.  There is a word with the power to pull the rug out from under another’s achievement, joy, excitement, or accomplishment.

That word is:


You see it on social media and hear it frequently when sharing your good news. Here are some examples taken from Facebook:

“Going to Aruba next week!”
“I landed my dream job and I still can’t believe it.”
“Having a long-awaited-for day off!”

Using the word “jealous” — or thinking you’re being playful with “jelly” — may be intended as a compliment or teasing, but often it just knocks the person down.

When you eagerly announce something you’re proud of, excited about, or looking forward to, and someone responds, “I’m jealous,” it doesn’t feel good. It takes away from the joy.

And it goes even deeper. The person who responds with the word “jealous” is deflated, too. Using that word energetically creates a distance between desire and believing you can truly have it.

By saying you’re jealous (or envious), you set yourself up to believe good things happen to other people.  Not to you.

The truth is you deserve to have your successes and joys celebrated and supported — fully and with great enthusiasm!  No sideways responses accepted.

As Women on Fire, we work to positively impact the world by uplifting it.

So, the next time someone shares her joy or success, what will you say? Try one of these!

Good For You