She’s A Woman On Fire! Meet Mandy Pratt

Welcome back to our ongoing series to introduce you to each other!

She’s a Woman on Fire! member and we want you to know her. Please say hello to…


Mandy Pratt

Boise, Idaho

Women on Fire Member: #00023

Please tell us about you, your family, your work, where you’re from, what you are “on fire” about.

I feel very blessed to live in beautiful Boise, Idaho near my wonderful family.  I am a proud Auntie of three nieces and three nephews who play a very important role in my life.

Eighteen years ago, I met my best friend, Mike Ryan, who has worked with me on the personal development journey, and who has played a key role in my life. This year we launched our Life Coaching School called “Results In Coaching.”

It’s a dream come true for both of us to be doing this business full-time together.

How did you originally discover Women on Fire?  

In 2003 I had a sales job with well-known financial expert, and Debbie Phillips was one of my leads. I called Debbie up and developed a friendship with her. How can you not love Debbie? When I left that job, she was the one contact I took with me.

Less than a week later, I became one of her personal coaching clients. Best decision I ever made.

Your favorite part of the day?

When I get to do what I love: coaching and spending time with close friends and family.

The last book you read that you would recommend to other Women on Fire?

I recently read Woman on Fire Jenifer Madson’s book “Living The Promises” and was very touched and inspired. Jenifer knows how to have empathy for someone who is in a dark place, and then knows how to convey the wisdom and strength to inspire someone to move through it.

Wonderful for daily meditation, or when you ever you need a quick shot of sanity and strength.

What is your proudest accomplishment in the past 12 months? 

Despite having some health setbacks, I’ve stayed consistently focused and determined to successfully launch our life coaching school. There was a lot of work to do, but I knew the outcome would be worth it. I’m most proud of influencing myself to stay the course!

Name another Woman on Fire who has inspired you, and why? 

Sophfronia Scott. After hearing about the heart-breaking tragedy at Sandy Hook, I felt the spiritual strength of Sophfronia. Her words of love, compassion, and healing kept me in a healthier place, especially when she lost someone so close to her. She inspired me to focus on what I could do to help versus dwell on the sadness.

If you had the opportunity to teach a child one strategy that would help to guide her life, what would that be?

SELF-WORTH.  Especially for a young girl, I’d teach her to have self-worth of who she is, and to cherish her own personal gifts and talents. For her to know she is worthy of love, romance, and success. For her to have the wisdom and courage to easily walk away from a job, a man, or any scenario that doesn’t respect who she is, and what she has to offer.

What is something that we might be surprised to learn about you? 

I’ve always been drawn to the Chinese culture. I studied Mandarin Chinese in college, and was going to travel abroad to Beijing, but took a job with Tony Robbins instead. It was a good choice, and I still plan to go!

Name women who have influenced your life, and what you’ve learned from each.

My mother, LaVina Pratt, has not only been the most fun loving mom a daughter could ask for, she also is the person who first influenced me to really work on myself as a young woman. She had me reading self-help books in 7th grade, and she would quiz me on the information I learned.

For my high school graduation, she bought me a ticket to a Tony Robbins seminar and life was never the same again. I knew that helping people the way I saw Tony do for others was going to be my passion and career for life!

My coach and friend, Debbie Phillips, came into my life during a very difficult time; I was very lost, confused, and full of self-doubt. I remember how comforting her soft, strong voice on the other end of the phone was for me. Debbie helped me to start taking care of myself in a way that I had never done before.

My best girlfriend, Jodi Coochise. Jodi was my college roommate at Gonzaga University.  When Jodi was 27 years old she tragically lost the love of her life, her husband Kris, during a rockslide hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Being there for Jodi, and witnessing her strength and grace through such a tragic heartbreak has inspired me to know what we truly are capable of growing through. She is my hero.

Eighteen years ago I was blessed to be in the room with my sister when she gave birth to someone who would change my life forever. My niece Savannah helped me realize how important it is for me to walk my talk because it truly does affect those I care most about.

What is your favorite “pig-out” food? 

FRENCH FRIES!! I gave them up for Lent one year, and will not do that again — way too hard.  Maybe it’s because I’m an Idaho potato girl!

What is your favorite self-care strategy?
It is going to sound so simple, but my favorite self-care strategy is sleep. I give myself nine hours of sleep each night, and I’ve forgiven my body for needing more sleep than most people I know.

Giving myself the permission to take a nap if I need, going to bed early, or sleeping later has made all the difference in my mood and overall self-esteem. I love my sleep and I protect it!

What is the biggest challenge you’ve ever faced and how did you overcome it?
Breaking up with someone I was still very much in love with, but I knew it was not the right match for me. The only way I was able to overcome it was with the help and strength of my relationship coach and close friends.

I had a TEAM to cheer me on, and shoulders to cry on when I felt sad. There is no way I would have done it alone.

That experience taught me to have even more empathy and compassion for women who are in unhealthy relationships. I admit, before this happened, I didn’t understand why a woman would stay in a relationship that obviously wasn’t what she deserved.

Now that I’ve gone through it myself I understand her conflict and pain. I understand what keeps her stuck, because it kept me stuck too. Now if I come across a woman who is clearly struggling in an unhealthy relationship, I offer her compassion, patience, and love.

Judging her, shaming her, and pressuring her only keeps her stuck. This is a message I am personally very passionate about sharing with other women.

Are you a dog or cat person?
Growing up we always had dogs. I am a huge puppy person, because I love their playfulness and unconditional love. Three years ago that changed because I picked up the most beautiful kitty I’ve ever seen. I was at the Humane Society, and there she was — Beebop.

I immediately laughed, and thought to myself, “If I said the word Beebop everyday it would be impossible to not be happy.” It took six months to build trust with Beebop; at first she slept under my bed and only came out when she was hungry.

Today she is my coaching pal. She is snuggled by my feet right now as a type. There is definitely something to be said about the bond with cats, because unlike dogs you have to earn it.

What is the most powerful strategy you learned from working with Tony Robbins?
There is a saying in Tony’s leadership academy — “Physiology First!” And that is something radically different about Tony’s events. He has a very intense focus on moving your body, clapping, dancing, jumping, and even massaging!  Motion = Emotion.

Whenever I receive a coaching questionnaire from a client who feels depressed, I support them in making sure they increase their exercise and how much they move on a daily basis.

I truly believe people are happier, not only if they exercise more, but by simply changing their lifestyle to include MOVING on a consistent basis.

When you reflect on your life so far, what is the first word or two that comes to your mind?

Magically blessed. I definitely know we are not alone. I’ve been wonderfully guided to meet the most perfect person, or read the words I needed, or hear the song that spoke to me at the right moment.

I am very grateful, and thank you for reading this interview. I hope to meet each and every one of you soon! Let’s go out and change the world one Woman On Fire at a time!


More about Mandy Pratt, known as “The Coaches’ Coach”

Mandy has been coaching clients of all ages and backgrounds, personally and professionally, for more than ten years.

She coaches both men and women on everything from starting and growing their own business, achieving their financial goals, overcoming limiting beliefs, reaching their fitness goals and building supportive and passionate relationships.

She received much of her professional training by working directly with numerous high-profile and pioneering trainers in the motivational and self-development industries.  Mandy defines coaching as helping people get the results they want, which they were unable to accomplish on their own.

Today Mandy is focusing on training others to become successful life coaches through her school called “Results In Coaching.”

Visit her site at

~ Compiled by Women on Fire Senior Writer Becky Adams

One thing we must NOT be

I just returned from the inspiring Women in the World Summit in New York City, hosted by Tina Brown of Newsweek and The Daily Beast.

Some of the most dynamic global advocates for women spoke – from Hillary Clinton and Oprah to Angelina Jolie and Dr. Mamphela Ramphele, who may soon campaign to become the president of South Africa.

I was very honored to represent Women on Fire as one of the 2,500 attendees from around the globe.

During the two days, there was so much presented to digest about the condition of women — our rights, our health, our education and our future.

So, my personal goal was to return from the conference with at least one concrete step or strategy that could improve your life, mine and other women’s as well.

Thanks to hearing so many courageous women tell their stories at the Summit, I found what we must do — or rather, what we must not do.

What these women who survived being raped, beaten, starved, kidnapped, abused, marginalized, shot at, married off at age 11, sent to orphanages, denied education and more had in common was this:

They did not view themselves as victims. Ever.

They found a thread of hope and clung to it.

(See orphan-turned-ballerina Michaela DePrince)

They turned their pain into advocacy.

(See Pakistani girls’ education advocate and Angelina Jolie’s hero Malala Yousafzai)

They transformed their seemingly impossible dreams into reality.

(See humanitarian and Oprah’s hero Dr. Tererai Trent)

And in doing so, they are alive and well and telling their stories and advocating for women who are still under the most adverse and sub-human conditions.

It is disheartening in this 21st century that so many women and girls continue to be owned and traded like cattle, defiled, denied education and physically and emotionally abused – and worse, if that’s even possible to imagine.

I hope you have a chance to watch Michaela’s, Malala’s and Tererai’s video stories and be inspired by how they transformed their extreme adversities into an ocean of hope for all of us.

To wild applause, Hillary Clinton reinforced what nearly all speakers said:

“Women are not victims. We are agents of change and drivers of progress.”

My beloved Women On Fire, we must band together and create the changes so necessary for the world.

(And, thank you to so many of you reading this who are working so hard to help women move forward.)

“A thousand spider webs can tie up the fiercest lion” has always been one of my favorite African proverbs.

We must make sure we are not holding ourselves back from sharing our gifts with the world because we feel or act as though we are victims — on any front.

When I became a coach nearly two decades ago, a therapist friend of mine shared with me the five behaviors that characterize people acting as victims:

  • They blame.
  • They avoid.
  • They whine.
  • They label negatively others or the situation.
  • They are sarcastic.

I shudder to think of the times I play a victim.  I really prefer to think I don’t, but that would not be true.

I blame when things don’t go my way; I whine when I think I’ve been treated unfairly; I label negatively and plot revenge (even though I don’t act on it) when I think someone has mistreated someone I love or care about.

What became so clear last week is that none of my being a victim will ever change anything for the better.

What I must do is re-dedicate my energy to stand tall and brave, alongside my fierce sisters in this country and around the world, who courageously stand up to outdated traditions that limit women, who are peacemakers in face of violence, and who rise above deplorable conditions to achieve better lives for themselves and others.

The least I can do is to not play a victim in my own daily, privileged life.

Thank you all for being a part of this amazing circle of incredible women working toward your own dreams and goals.  I cherish each one of you and what we are able to do together in the world.

P.S. To see the powerful sessions on video from the Women in the World Summit, please go here.

*This week’s Spark PINspiration*  

                   Pin to Pass on the Love!

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April Book Of The Month

This month’s Book To Live By features a book that highlights our April theme — Your Health and Wellbeing.

Women on Fire’s April 2013 choice

Good Medicine: A Return to Common Sense (Amazon link) by Carol L. Roberts M.D. is our selection.

Dr. Roberts is an intregrative medicine physican — and she is my personal doctor.

She started her career as an ear, nose and throat surgeon for a decade, followed by another seven years in emergency medicine.

By then, she realized that no one was teaching people how to take care of themselves, so that became her mission!

Do you know which health practices you need to take care of yourself?

After nearly 20 years in a holistic practice, Dr. Roberts has put all of her wisdom and know-how in a book for you to easily understand and enjoy.

I urge you to consider picking up a copy — or two to share with a loved one — so you can learn the latest in what you need to be your healthiest.

I hope you find Good Medicine: A Return to Common Sense as helpful as I have.  Wishing your happiest, healthiest life!

What’s your story?

Happy Easter. Happy Passover. Happy Birthday!

Twice the celebration today for Lori!

Today is my younger sister Lori’s birthday.  And because it fell on Easter, she ended up with birthday cupcakes, presents AND a giant, chocolate Peter The Rabbit.

We had a wonderful weekend of “sister adventures” including going to the spa where Lori relaxed in her first Watsu with amazingly skilled Woman on Fire Tamara Caggiano.

Lounging at the Golden Door Spa in Naples, Florida

Many of you met Lori in our first Women on Fire book.

She wrote a chapter about how after 18 years of dating she met, fell in love, and married the man of her dreams — and how she coped with becoming a widow.

She was still in her 40s and a newlywed when Tom was diagnosed with Stage 4 head and neck cancer.  He died a month after their second wedding anniversary.

“Writing my story was beneficial to organize my feelings. It was the beginning of understanding the process of grieving and how to grieve,” she reflected this weekend, five years after writing her chapter.

“I worried if I wrote the truth — how I was struggling; how empty I felt; and about the anger and hurt — people would view me as weak and vulnerable. But it turned out to be quite the opposite.”

Lori’s courage to tell her story as she was going through it reminded me of the power we unleash as Women on Fire when we share our true selves — and the enormous potential benefit for others.

I was recently touched reading this thought-provoking sentence: “can you imagine if you had two paragraphs of truth written from a great-grandparent about their life?”

We feel energized and alive when we hear the truth; we feel cheated when we don’t.

“To share my story with others actually made me stronger and connect with more people,” Lori said.

“Many people thanked me for sharing it and a few said it made them look at their own relationships (with husbands, partners, boyfriends) differently. It made me feel good to know telling my story made a difference.

“If it helped one person, it was worth telling it versus being safe and keeping it inside,” she said.

Looking back now, six years after Tom’s death, Lori realizes what a long process to heal.

“Telling the story is what got the ball rolling — the beginning of the healing process — and now these many years later, I feel I am finally at the end of the process.

“I can now see my story, beginning to end.  And, the end is where I truly have started to live and feel again.”

Earlier this month, Lori took a final step in her life with Tom when she spread his ashes in Peru at Macchu Picchu, a destination that they had planned for their 5th wedding anniversary.

Lori at Macchu Picchu 

“I look forward to being in a relationship again. I can honestly say ‘I’m ready!'”

How is it for you?  Have you considered writing a chapter or a full memoir of your life?  How might it benefit your family and friends — or even a complete stranger?

Do you tell the truth about your life to those you love and care about so they can learn from your mistakes and successes?

The reluctance to share that I hear most often — and an excuse I’ve used myself:

I can’t tell my story. If I told it, it would hurt _____________ .

To that, one of my all-time favorite writers Anne Lamott says, “you own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should’ve behaved better.”

This summer you will be able to read a whole new set of Women on Fire stories. Our 21 co-authors of the next Women on Fire book are hard at work crafting their own life stories to share with you.

I have read a few of the completed ones, and I must tell you I have laughed, cried, learned and been uplifted by each one!

I know you will be, too.

Recent gathering in Columbus with a few of the co-authors of Women on Fire Book 2. You’ll be able to read their empowering, courageous stories this summer!

I hope you will continue to share your true self with other women, in particular. It is the single, greatest resource we have to give each other.

Thank you for being in our powerful circle of fabulous women!

Wishing you the safety and courage to tell your own powerful story ~

*This week’s Spark PINspiration*  

Pin to Pass on the Love!


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How strong are your friendship circles?

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” ~ C.S. Lewis

Friendship has been our theme this month.

How are you doing when it comes to building a small inner circle of close friends and a larger extended set of friends?  The two are essential to the foundation of your support system.

I just returned from a week in New York City and Columbus, Ohio.  In both cities, I met with many Women on Fire friends at teas and get-togethers and celebrated the 20th wedding anniversary of my best friend Jan Allen and her husband Curt Steiner.

Women on Fire Tea at Lady Mendl’s in New York City — Front row: Sophfronia Scott, Michelle Mahana, Wendy DeSimone, Wendy Lagstein, Jill Dulitsky. Back row: Janette Barber, Shannon McCaffery, Lara Licharowicz, Holly Getty, Joan Wallace, Debbie Phillips, Lisa Clair, Janina Sebesky, Amy Newmark, Colleen Pero, Sarah Birdsong and Trudy Dujardin.

If you have attended a Women on Fire Tea, you know how powerful these small groups can be and how it feels to be heard and understood without judgment or advice.  You are uplifted!

Having a small, close circle of friends you trust who understand what you are going through — happy or sad — is key to your emotional stability and good health.  And, building a larger group of friends for connections and enjoyment further strengthens your support system.

My long-time mentor and therapist Dr. Norman Shub of Columbus calls friendship “the secret life sustainer.”

He spoke at Jan and Curt’s anniversary gathering of nearly 200 friends last weekend.

Jan, Curt and I at their gathering last weekend. They honored their 20th wedding anniversary by celebrating their large circle of friends! (Photo by Renata Ramsini)

“Friendship is not a trade; it’s a gift,” Norman said. “Friendship requires investment so each person feels cared about.”

Acknowledging that many people don’t feel they have time to invest in others to build an emotional connection, Norman said, “Sometimes you have to put your friends first. Loving them has to be the most important thing. When they need you, you have to be there. Love grows by making another person important.”

He said that 40% of people now celebrate holidays with friends rather than family.  So nurturing your friendships and learning the skills to be a good friend become all the more important.

I have always admired that from the very beginning of their relationship and marriage Jan and Curt valued their individual “best friendships” as well as developed a huge, extended group of friends.

It was inspiring that while we all didn’t know each other at the anniversary party, we all knew Jan and Curt! And, from them, many of us became friends, too, expanding each of our friendship circles.

Women on Fire Tea in Columbus at The Cambridge House. Front row: Julia McLemore, Debbie Phillips, Emily Christian, Brigid McClain, Jan Allen, Carolyn Hut, Tricia Simpson. Back row: Laurel Hodory, Caileigh Hughes, Laura Tiberi, Michelle Galligan, Michelle Vander Stouw, Kitty Munger, Eve Esch, Mary Kay Purdy, Kacy Cook, Sophfronia Scott, Cathryn Loucas.

What is the status of your friendships? How vibrant is your inner circle? Who will you choose to make important in your life now?

Please join Jan and me on the Women on Fire members’ LIVE CHAT this Tuesday.  We’ll be talking about building your friendship circles and many other aspects of friendship.

And, a big welcome to all you who have joined The Spark! this week. We love that you are here!

Wishing you inspired and loving friendship circles ~

Introducing  *This week’s Spark PINspiration*  

                   Pin to Pass on the Love!












Is It Luck?

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you!

This special March holiday always reminds me of lucky charms, leprechauns and four-leaf clovers — and, of course, the luck o’ the Irish.

But with all due respect to my Irish heritage, I don’t believe luck rules my life at all.

You wouldn’t know that though from the number of “magical” lucky objects I keep!

When I was a little girl, I would lie on the ground for hours searching for four-leaf clovers. Thinking that if I found one, my life would be forever “lucky.” (I never found one, but I never stopped believing that some day I would!)

Even today, I carry a lucky charm in my wallet — a facsimile of a $1,000,000 bill; it was the single thing I asked for from my Dad’s wallet after he died.

The imitation bill is the most precious item in my purse. It keeps me close to my Dad and reminds me of the possibility I might see a $1,000,000 windfall some day!

But I don’t believe my wishes and dreams, successes and achievements — or yours — are simply random.  That they are only luck.

No, I believe the positive, uplifting, I-can-do-anything feeling that I get from walking around with that $1,000,000 bill in my pocket is what will make my dreams come true.

Yesterday a friend was talking to me about his friend who won the lottery — twice!  He kept referring to it as “dumb luck.”  I don’t think so.

I believe, and studies show, that people make their own good or bad fortunes.  Those who carry lucky charms and expect good things to happen are actually “luckier.”  They set themselves up to receive their dreams.

How are you setting up yourself to believe what you want is possible? Do you believe you are in charge of your own good fortune? I’d love to hear.

And, I would love to share with you a handful of women in our community whose dreams and goals are coming true — and I am sure each would tell you there is no such thing as “dumb luck” in making it happen!

They are all on their paths to fulfill their purposes, dreams and goals, as I know you are, too.

I know you will enjoy learning about them:

Trudy Dujardin of Norwalk, CT and her team at Dujardin Design recently completed a full-scale renovation on one of Nantucket Island’s beloved hideaways, the Union Street Inn.  The inn is consistently rated as the “best boutique hotel on the Cape and Islands.” (You will hear from Trudy in May when she is featured on our membership CD talking about creating your own healthy, sacred space!)

Our Women on Fire intern, Emily Neal of Greenville, SC and a sophomore at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, continues her semester abroad and her travels through Europe. Her latest blog post on Paris particularly touched our hearts and we thought it would speak to yours as well.

Jenifer Madson of Erie, CO enjoyed a super successful re-release of her book, published by Conari Press, called  “Living the Promises.”  It’s a must-read, daily inspiration book to add to your list!

We also congratulate Beth Kloesener of Saginaw, MI on her exciting new role as the Director of  Career Services for Northwood University. She has been working on landing this position for the past year and couldn’t be more excited to live her true purpose, which is to help students find theirs.

Kris Carlson of San Francisco, has been invited to speak at the TEDx Greenbrook School event on April 11. Kris, with her late husband Richard Carlson, is the genius and an author behind the “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” book series.We couldn’t be more excited for her huge opportunity and we look forward to getting to watch the talk on video.

Have a wonderful week ahead and I’ll see many of you at the teas this week in New York City and Columbus, Ohio!

Believing in you and all that you bring to the world ~

She’s a Woman On Fire! Meet Sophfronia Scott

Welcome back to our ongoing series to introduce you to each other!

She’s a Woman on Fire! member and we want you to know her. Please say hello to…

Sophfronia Scott

Sandy Hook, Connecticut

WOF member: #00040

Member since:  October 2011

Please tell us about YOU, your family, your work, what you are “on fire” about, etc

Many of our members know me as the publisher of Women on Fire Media, an imprint Debbie Phillips created with the vision of producing a whole series of Women on Fire books as well as future media by and inspired by Women on Fire.

It’s been wonderful to have this focus on the industry side with projects I love while I also pursue my own creative writing. I’m on fire about my writing because I’ve put it off for so long, allowing it to play second fiddle to the business I have coaching entrepreneurs to write and publish books.

I’m studying for a dual masters degree (in creative writing, fiction and nonfiction) at the Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier. This past year my short stories and essays have appeared in Sleet MagazineNewYorkTimes.comNuméro CinqMid-American ReviewO, The Oprah MagazineGently Read Literature, and are upcoming in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Writers and the Saranac Review.

My husband, Darryl Gregory, is a middle school band director as well as a talented singer-songwriter. We are both grateful to have our joyous son Tain, age 8 and a half.

How did you originally connect to Women on Fire?  

I used to be in a large mastermind group and one of our meetings featured mentors who worked with us in smaller groups. Rob Berkley, Debbie’s amazing husband, was one of those mentors. We only spoke for a few minutes but I felt this connection with him, as though we were long-lost family. He went home and told Debbie about me and she invited me to a Women on Fire tea party in April 2009.

The last book you read that you would recommend to other Women on Fire?

Right now I’m absolutely enthralled by the book I won in the drawing at the Women on Fire members’ LIVE CHAT in January: Inspired & Unstoppable: Wildly Succeeding in Your Life’s Work! by Tama Kieves. This has been my journey these past two years, to be inspired and unstoppable, and I feel as though Tama understands all the secret whisperings of my heart.

She knows inspiration requires work, but she also knows a certain amount of that work includes taking a break and making room for the magic to come in. Finding that combination has always been difficult for me because I’m all about working hard, but Tama is making me more confident in trusting my intuition.

What is your proudest accomplishment in the past 12 months? 

Completing the draft of my second novel, The Affairs of Midnight.

If you had an unexpected free day (a “found” day), how would you spend it?    

I would spend it reading, in meditation, and writing letters to friends. Last year I spent six months in an amazing correspondence where I wrote to a friend 2-3 times a month. Some of those letters inspired stories and essays I wrote later because the conversations we were having concerning creativity and spirituality were just that deep and rewarding. I’m still discovering more as I consider those conversations over and over again. There are days when I think I’d really benefit from spending time in a convent or a monastery.

Name another Women on Fire who has inspired you, and why?

M.E. Jones of Harrisville, Michigan, a co-author in the first Women on Fire book, because she wasn’t afraid to leave behind a life others told her she should be grateful to have. She boldly went after the life—and love—she really wanted.

If you had the opportunity to teach a child one strategy that would help to guide her life, what would that be?

I would guide a child, as I’m hopefully doing with my son, towards having a spiritual life. Most children, I believe, are already connected to source. They just need to have someone confirming for them what they feel is real and they can rely on that connection when life goes awry.

What is something that we might be surprised to learn about you?

When I was about 13, I became a certified “Beatlemaniac” even though the band no longer existed and Beatlemania was long gone. I soaked up so much of their history I sometimes forget I know it. Today, for instance, I walked through a room where I heard a man say, “Hello! Goodbye! Wasn’t that a song?” Without hesitation I said, “Yes, by the Beatles, the Magical Mystery Tour album, 1967” and kept on walking.

Name three women who have influenced your life, and what you’ve learned from each.

Wanda. When I met her she was in her 70s and I had just turned 30. She oversaw the garden behind the building where my husband and I bought our first apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. I’d been waiting to learn how to garden my whole life and she was sorely in need of a willing assistant. She taught me everything from how to make compost to planting bulbs to pruning bushes. Every time I put my hands in the earth I think of Wanda.

Earline, my cousin. She’s about 30 years my senior and we met as adults after my father died. She lives in California and once, when I visited her there, I asked her why she lived so far away. She said, “Oh, honey, I moved out here in 1965 after my husband shot me.” She took her children, left an abusive relationship and got as far away as she could. Earline taught me that strength and bravery run in our bloodlines. If she could do what she did, I can do anything.

Pastor Kathleen Adams-Shepherd, our rector at Trinity Episcopal Church. She’s my shining example of faith in action as she brings all of herself—her intelligence, her heart, her strength—to bear as she guides our community. She’s also a tremendous writer and creates smart, inspirational sermons meant to help us practice faith in our everyday lives. If I were a spiritual leader, I’d want to be like Pastor Kathie.

 Who cheers you on?

Darryl, Tain, and Debbie Phillips!

 When you reflect on your life so far, what is the first word or two that comes to your mind?

“Love” and “Fear.” The pivotal moments of my life have all involved a confrontation of one or the other or both together. The lessons I’ve learned have been pretty much the same: the more I love, the less I fear. And the less I fear, the more I love.

More about Sophfronia ScottWhen Sophfronia published her first novel, All I Need To Get By, with St. Martin’s Press in 2004, one prominent reviewer referred to her as potentially “one of the best writers of her generation.”

Online you can read Sophfronia’s short story, “The Night Viera Kissed Her,” in the Fall 2012 issue of and an essay about her father, “White Shirts,” in the September 2012 issue of

She blogs at
Compiled by Women on Fire Senior Writer Becky Adams


Coming up in a future She’s A Woman on Fire! …

Who in our community felt excluded from being able to buy sophisticated, contemporary, well-fitting clothes in a plus-size? And 14 months later, while working a full-time job, launched a brand-new clothing line “for the majority of women” who wear sizes 12-24?  We’ll share the life and dreams of this inspiring Woman on Fire member in our next edition of She’s A Woman on Fire!

Not yet a monthly member? You are welcome to join our inspiring membership program and keep inspiration, strategies and support by your side all month long.  For information and to register, go here!

Lean in…With Support!

The cat just looked at me as though I’m from Mars.

Wilber eats dinner every single day at 5PM. On the dot. When I served him his evening meal on this first day of daylight savings time, he was utterly confused.

To him, it was still 4PM. He walked away without even a lick of his Fancy Feast!

How’re you adjusting to the time change? Hope you’re easing into it better than Wilber😉

I just returned from New York City where I met with a number of Women on Fire, which is always so uplifting. I love hearing about your hopes and dreams, challenges and struggles, and sharing what is easier to do together than alone.

Lucky me in the middle of this Women on Fire sandwich with style consultant Holly Getty and finanical expert Manisha Thakor, who was featured in last month’s Women on Fire membership CD package. (Photo by Meredith Schoenberger)

While in New York, I also attended a conversation with Gloria Steinem and women who created Makers, the inspired stories of women trailblazers.

(I invite you to check it outWarning: once you go down the slippery slope of watching and reading about these fascinating women, you can’t stop! My favorite so far is Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run in the Boston Marathon. You can’t believe what happened.)

Gloria Steinem, who is 78,  in the center of conversation about the 50-year history of the Women’s Movement with producers and subjects in the “Makers” series.

Nearly everywhere I went last week, including in the conversation with Gloria, people were talking about two women in the national news: Marissa Mayer and Sheryl Sandberg.

Marissa Mayer, the chief executive officer at Yahoo, made headlines when she  announced her company would end the worker-friendly practice of telecommuting.

Her reasoning is that it is bad for a collaborative company to have so many employees losing out on interacting and participating in experiences “that are only possible in our offices.”

I see her point. Still, if a male CEO (other than Microsoft’s Bill Gates or Apple’s Tim Cook) banned telecommuting, I doubt it would have been news.

Then there is Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook. She has a big week ahead: she is on 60 Minutes, on the cover of Time Magazine (with the sexist perpetuating headline ‘Don’t Hate Her Because She’s Successful’) and on Tuesday her new book is released.

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead explores what is keeping women from rising to the highest echelons of power.

“We hold ourselves back, in ways big and small, by lacking self-confidence, by not raising our hands, and by pulling back when we should be leaning in,” she proclaims.

This 43-year-old working mother of two small children believes that women underestimate their abilities and “lean back and sit on the sidelines.” She herself admits to times of fear and holding back, and urges women to “lean in.”

Critics accuse her of making women feel as though failing to get ahead and achieve at the same rate as men is their fault. Others attack her because she is a billionnaire and don’t believe her advice resonates with the average woman.

I am eagerly awaiting my copy of the book.  But after reading pre-publication excerpts and interviews, I whole-heartedly support her.

“The time is long overdue to encourage more women to dream the possible dream and encourage more men to support women in the workforce and in the home,” she says.

Well, that is for sure.

Check out this brief video of what she hopes the book will inspire and tell me what you think? You also might watch her famous 2010 TEDx talk  about why women are not making it to the top anywhere in the world.

In her ideal scenario, “I believe this world would be a better place if half of our companies and half our countries are run by women and half our homes are run by men.”

When I think of leaning in, I also think how easy it is to tip over.

So, I also applaud Sheryl Sandberg for creating a foundation for Lean In Circles to support “a program for professional women that encourages them to review social-science research, share stories, receive instruction on career development, and “lean in” to (as opposed to opt out of) their careers.”

I can certainly buy that, too.

At Women on Fire, we’ve been doing just that for 10 years.  We’ve leaned in, listened, supported, shared information, resources and opportunities, and cheered each other on. We know how it works for you to have your dreams. Now it’s time to spread it to the world!

For a decade Women on Fire have shared and cheered each other on in circles of support. Pictured at a New York City gathering last Friday: Janina Sebesky, Holly Getty, Elle Celeste, me! Miriam Posner, Shannon McCaffery and Meredith Schoenberger.

Marissa Mayer and Sheryl Sandberg are blazing trails by igniting conversations that need to take place about women in the workplace.

Billionnaire or no, it takes a lot of guts to stand up and be criticized for leaning in to speak their truth.

Maybe one of them might even become powerful enough to ban Daylight Savings Time. 😉


Announcing Newest Member of Women On Fire

©Rob Berkley
Meredith Schoenberger joins Women on Fire as Communications and Marketing Manager

Meredith Schoenberger of Los Angeles has joined the Women on Fire team as Communications and Marketing Manager.

Many of you met Meredith at the Women on Fire Retreat in Chicago last fall where she was our social media reporter. I’m thrilled she is joining us full-time.

Meredith’s talent, enthusiasm for women’s success and knowledge of the digital world are a perfect fit for our goals to reach more and more women with inspiration, strategies and support.

She will play a key role in helping me to expand Women on Fire’s national presence.

Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, and a graduate of Miami University of Ohio, Meredith has spent the last two years in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles. She helped to guide and monitor social media campaigns and digital marketing initiatives. She also had been a dedicated and long-time volunteer for Planned Parenthood and The Girl Scouts.

“I’m really looking forward to helping Women on Fire to continue to grow and serve more women. It’s such a special and tremendous community of women who are connected and cheering each other on to live lives they dream of,” Meredith said. “I’m eager and excited to combine my strong social media marketing background with my love for helping women.”

She will also update and help to expand Women on Fire’s extensive membership program using online and social media tools.

“It’s truly a gift to be able to enrich the lives of women every day,” Meredith said. “I was involved with Women on Fire before getting this position and used to think the only thing better than being a part of Women on Fire would be to work with Women on Fire. My dream has come true!”

Meredith joins a team that includes:

* Dianne Phillips, member care director

* Daren Stinson, executive assistant

* Sebastian Kaupert, designer

* Costas Peppas and Amber Miller, web services

* Sophfronia Scott, book publisher

* Kacy Cook, book and membership package editor

* Jan Allen, senior advisor

* Becky Adams, senior writer

* Rob Berkley

Please join me in wishing Meredith great joy and success in her new role.  Please say hello to her at

Thank you all for your love and support!  We are dedicated to delivering a world of inspiration, strategies and support — for your own success!


March Book Of The Month

This month’s Book To Live By choice features our March theme on Your Friendships.

Women on Fire’s March 2013 choice

She Matters: A Life in Friendships (Amazon link) by Susanna Sonnenberg.

The author illuminates the friendships that have influenced, nourished, inspired, and haunted her—and sometimes torn her apart. Each has its own lessons that Sonnenberg seeks to understand.

This powerful book is testimony to the emotional significance of the intense bonds between women, whether shattered, shaky, or unbreakable.

Her fearlessly observed portraits of friendships will inspire you to consider the complexities of your own relationships.

Most memorable to me was the author describing what drew her close to a particular friend:  “She marked what mattered between friends … she showed me how simple: you witness and love, and you feel loved.”

If you are an official Women on Fire member, you will soon receive the CD package of my interview with Jan Allen, my own best friend.

With my best friend Jan Allen, left, during the recent Women on Fire Retreat in Chicago. What have your own close friendships meant to you in your life?

In it, we personally discuss our friendship ups-and-downs and the strategies that have kept us strong for three decades.

You’ll even learn what I did that really bugged Jan until the day she was honest and brave enough to tell me!

And, in the After Interview, you’ll meet two fabulous Women on Fire – Janina Sebesky and Kitt Moran – and learn how they transformed their own 30-year best friendship into a musical called “CHICK SOUP!”

Thank you to writer and actress Christina Haag, author of Come To The Edge: A Love Story, for originally introducing me to this month’s book selection.

(I learn all the great things I know from other Women on Fire!)

If you get a chance to read She Matters: A Life in Friendships, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

And, I hope you will share insights about your own life-long friendships in the comments section here.