She’s a Woman on Fire! Meet Linda Neff

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…

Linda Neff- She's a Woman on Fire #womenonfire

Linda Neff

Shorewood, Wisconsin (a suburb of Milwaukee)

Member: #00046
Member since:  September 30, 2011

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

I have to say, I’ve just recently become comfortable with the “what are you on fire about, or not?” question—the question Debbie Phillips so wisely and lovingly asks each of us.

I remember the first time I heard this question when attending the Women on Fire Columbus retreat.  I wanted to shrivel up in a corner.  The movie in my mind immediately started, “You’re not on fire about anything. You’re dull. Everyone else in your circle is so much more dynamic. Any answer you come up with will definitely lack substance.”

And for quite some time, I thought there was a “right” way to answer this question. So, for anyone else who may also be trying to find the right way to answer this question, here is my personal “aha” discernment.  The answer lies within my heart—it’s those things that make my heart take an extra little pitter-pat; the people or ideas that I want to wrap my heart around with an extra squeeze.  We each have our own unique hearts—so what we’re on fire about is vastly different from woman to woman—which is what makes Women on Fire such an important community.

My heart, probably from the time I was a very little girl, has been wrapped around women’s issues.  I’m on fire today about issues and work that can strengthen and bolster women.

This spring, the reflection on a piece of artwork by my 15-year-old daughter Helen definitely sparked my heart. After seeing Steve Lambert’s “Invisible” art installation, she began sharing her thoughts on how profound the work was.  She said, “You know Mom, if the ‘N’ went dark, the art would read ‘I Visible.’”  With my heart’s desire to be a voice for women, Helen’s thoughts brought an immediate realization—in order to create change in the world for women, we need to step out of the shadows and into the light with our stories. We need to Be Visible.

I am greatly humbled and immensely grateful to my employer, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, for the opportunity to bring Be Visible into the light as a story telling project.  I hope you will take a moment to listen to these five incredibly brave women as they share their intensely personal and powerful stories.

Tweet: Be Visible.  Be You. That’s your true fire!


How did you originally connect to Women on Fire?

Okay, I love this question because my path to WOF is a little zany!

Prior to turning 50, I always looked forward to birthdays.  I loved that feeling of waking up knowing it was my birthday.  The day just always felt extra special.

Somehow in the months leading up to my 50th birthday, I became uncomfortable about turning an age that had always seemed so far away.  My husband Chuck and I had talked about a 50th party in our garden for many months.  We even planted the garden that year with the party in mind.  Imagine his surprise when I told him I didn’t want a party!

I was completely clueless about how to approach this birthday with some modicum of grace, so I turned to the internet to research “How to turn 50?”  I know—crazy, right? During my research, I discovered Michele Woodward’s blog and how she had celebrated her 50th via a virtual birthday party.  The party consisted of a number of fascinating women each calling her with their wisdom on turning 50.  One of the wise virtual birthday guests was Debbie Phillips.

As Debbie was sharing her wisdom on turning 50 (which I loved!) I Googled Debbie and found her Women on Fire website.   There, I learned about a retreat scheduled for September 30, 2011 in Columbus, Ohio which was only eight hours away by car.  Based on Debbie’s voice and her great message on turning 50, I decided to go for it.  My research was complete; I registered for the WOF retreat—this was going to be my birthday present!

As the retreat grew closer I started doubting myself.  After all of my initial research, I had registered for the retreat with a little too much haste.  In reality, I didn’t really know that much about this group. Who were these women and who was this Debbie Phillips gal?

Alone in the car for the drive to Columbus, I began imagining all kinds of Stepford Wife-esque scenarios for this Women on Fire group.  I actually pulled over several times and contemplated driving back home to Milwaukee.

Keeping the car on the road for a destination that was unclear has been the single best decision I’ve made in this new decade of being in my fifties.  I am forever grateful that in my zaniness of researching how to turn 50, I found Debbie Phillips and Women on Fire.  This diverse community of women inspires me every day and encourages me to be my own best Woman on Fire!

Best. Birthday Present. Ever.

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

I carry a cowbell in my work bag!

Prior to college my parents gave me a cowbell so I could properly cheer at the Purdue football games.  (I grew up in Ohio’s version of Friday Night Lights so football reigned supreme and my parents wanted me to be prepared for Big Ten football!)  Not having a booming voice, the cowbell became my expression of exuberance and support for my Purdue Boilermakers.  After college my trusty cowbell was shelved.

During the tumultuous political times in Wisconsin that ensued following the election of Governor Scott Walker in 2010, the cowbell quickly came off the shelf.  As I attended many of the now-historical rallies that took place in our state’s capital, I used the cowbell to amplify my voice and my values about all people having a fair shot for freedom, opportunity, responsibility and cooperation—especially as it related to women and families.

Rather than re-shelving my cowbell, I now keep it close at hand as it has become a symbol of hope for many of my co-workers and friends who share a similar value system.  From time to time, when the issues around women’s equality seem insurmountable, I let the cowbell work its magic.  It has the power to instantly re-energize spirits and replace what can feel like insurmountable obstacles with hope, ideas, and a course of action.

I highly recommend the cowbell as the perfect sidekick for any WOF chic lady fighter—a term Ruth Conniff, publisher of The Progressive magazine, used to describe the Planned Parenthood women who are addressing women’s rights with powerful femininity, style and smarts!

More about Linda Neff…

Despite being born in Bad Homburg, Germany, Linda describes herself as a true-blue Midwesterner.  She grew up in Dayton, Ohio, launched her career in Chicago and now lives in Shorewood, Wisconsin with her fantastically creative husband Chuck and equally creative daughter Helen.

With the exception of one previously overweight goldfish named Waggly Tail Fins, Linda had adamantly pronounced her home as a non-pet household—no matter what.  She is now looking forward to the arrival of their first four-legged pet, Chandler, an Australian Labradoodle who was born on 10/25/13 and will become the fourth family member of this former threesome.

While she is an active blogger in her head, she occasionally posts at Voices of Pearls. You are welcome to say hello to her at

She’s A Woman on Fire! feature is compiled by senior writer Becky Adams.

Ask Debbie Anything: How do you create a no-shoes policy at home?

Have you ever wondered what the secret is to a clean house? Have you thought about making your home a no-shoes zone? Need some inspiration to make the new rule stick?


  • Why a shoeless home can save you money
  • How a no-shoes home can integrate more zen into your space
  • How to encourage guests to take off their shoes without being offensive

all in under 3 min.

Are there any strategies that you use to enforce rules in your own home?

P.S. Do you travel a lot? Does traveling stress you out? Are you looking to sail through the airport and arrive at your destination more rested and relaxed? Click here for last week’s Ask Debbie Anything.

Ask Debbie Anything: What are some quick tips to make traveling easier?

Do you travel a lot? Does traveling stress you out? Are you looking to sail through the airport and arrive at your destination more rested and relaxed?


  • The best way to arrive more rested and relaxed at your destination
  • Which airport conveniences are worth paying for
  • How to pack the right clothes for an extended trip
  • A simple solution for your power chargers

all in under 3 min.

 What tips do you have for traveling?

Resources mentioned-
Flight Aware- Flight Tracking


P.S. Do you work from your home? Are you looking to create a healthy business at home? Check out last week’s Ask Debbie Anything to find out the best ways to keep your business on track and not lose your mind.




Ask Debbie Anything: What is the best way to create a healthy work environment at home?

Do you work from home? Do you own your business or getting ready to start one? Do you want some tips on how to create a healthy work environment? Figure out how to safeguard yourself from burning out?


  • The #1 strategy to help you avoid working 24/7
  • Tips on how to stay energized within your business
  • 2 important strategies on how to create a healthy working environment within your home

under 3 min.

Do you have any tips for working at home? What have you found to be helpful and what has created setbacks?

p.s. Are you approaching a transition? Have you found yourself with an empty nest, or are anticipating your kids leaving for college? Find out the best way to alleviate anxiety and prepare yourself in last week’s Ask Debbie Anything.

Ask Debbie Anything: As a new empty nester, what’s the best way to navigate this transition?

Have you found yourself with a newly empty nest? Are your children getting ready to head off to college? Are you looking forward to reconnecting with yourself and your dreams? Want some resources on how?


*An insightful resource on approaching transitions.

*The #1 mindset that will help make your transitions easier.

*What you can do to reconnect with yourself in the midst of a transition.

all in under 3 min.

We would love to hear how you coped with sending your kids off into the real world, and how many of you have prepared for that big change.

P.S. Do you hate your job? Are you ready for a career change but unsure of when to do it? Check out our last Ask Debbie Anything for the answers!

Ask Debbie Anything: When is the best time to switch gears in your career?

Do you hate your job? Are you ready for a change? Do you know when it’s the best time to make that transition? Is there a best time? Or do you feel like you’re ready for a second career?


  • The best time to make a career change
  • Why going cold turkey is the worst thing you can do
  • How to  safely transition into a new career

all in under 3 min.

Have you recently transitioned into a new career? What strategy worked best for you?

p.s. Do you know the secret to balance? Ready to ‘have it all’? Watch last week’s Ask Debbie Anything to find out how.

Ask Debbie Anything: How do I maintain balance between work and home?

Do you feel like your struggling to make a difference at both work and home? Are you frustrated trying to juggle all of your roles at once? And looking for the secret to truly “having it all”?


  • The myth of ‘balance’ and why it’s not doing you any good.
  • A necessary mindset that will transform the way you think about ‘having it all’.
  • The #1 secret to feeling good about work and home.

all in under 3 min.

Share with your friends who might be on overload, email to your daughter who just started school, or bookmark this for when you feel like life is all out of whack. Check out some of Debbie’s tips on self care here!

Do you have any strategies that you use when approaching balance at work and home? What’s one tip that you can share?

Want to ask Debbie anything? Email your questions to meredith(at)womenonfire(dot)com.
p.s. Do you want to strengthen your relationship with your partner? Check out last week’s Ask Debbie Anything!

Ask Debbie Anything: “How do I find what my highest expression of love is?”

Do you ever wonder if you are tapping into your highest potential? Do you know what your greatest gifts are in this world? Are you ready to start putting your highest expression into practice?

Discover How To:

  • Tap into your highest expression of love
  • Find what your greatest gifts are with one simple step
  • Fine tune your passions into your purpose

In less than 3 min.

What is your highest expression of love?

Want to ask Debbie anything? Email your questions to meredith(at)womenonfire(dot)com.

P.S. Do you feel like your morning routine is driving you crazy? Learn how to start your mornings more smoothly with last week’s ‘Ask Debbie Anything’.

Ask Debbie Anything: “How can I manage the craziness of the morning, and start my day more smoothly?”

Does your morning routine drive you crazy? Is it a nightmare trying to get out of the house without feeling flustered? How do you make sure everyone is dressed, fed, and ready for the day without going nuts!?

Discover how to:

  • Create a family routine that will calm the crazy mornings
  • Inject more peace into your morning rituals
  • Carve time for yourself in the early hours
  • Alleviate the stress surrounding the rush to get out the door

In less than 3 min.

What do you do to keep your morning calm, cool, and collected?

Want to ask Debbie anything? Email your questions to meredith(at)

Ask Debbie Anything: “How do you discover what you want to do with your life?”

Do you yearn to feel more fulfilled each day, but don’t even know where to start? Are you worried that you don’t know what your passion is and how to go about finding it?

Discover How To:

  • Take stock of what you love
  • Identify your passion with 1 easy step
  • Feel more confident moving towards your dreams once you identify them

all in under 3 min.