January Book to Live By

How to Know a Person  by David Brooks

To kick off the New Year, The Spark is featuring Debbie’s favorite book of 2023 for the Book to Live By!

The one skill that lies at the heart of any healthy person or society is the ability to see someone else deeply and make them feel seen, valued, heard, and understood. Sadly, most humans don’t do this well. People feel invisible and misunderstood. In How to Know a Person, Brooks draws from the fields of psychology, neuroscience, theater, philosophy, history, and education to help readers do better, posing questions that are essential for all of us to become more understanding and considerate toward others, and to find the joy that comes from being seen.

This book is a valuable tool for your relationship arsenal. It is available today on Amazon.

November Book to Live By

How to Talk to Kids About Anything by Robyn Silverman, PhD

The first step to connecting deeply with our kids is being able to communicate, empathize, and answer their biggest queries, but sometimes we just don’t know what to say. One of our beloved Women on Fire members, Dr. Robyn Silverman, an award-winning parenting expert (regularly seen on The Today Show, CBS Morning Show, and Good Morning America), as well as the host of How to Talk to Kids About Anything parenting podcast, provides strategies and scripts in her new book so you’re prepared for life’s most challenging conversations. Congrats, Robyn! Grab your copy today: https://parenting.drrobynsilverman.com/book

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!

Love,

Debbie Signature

 

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:

jealous

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

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

October’s Book To Live By

Juggling work and relationships is challenging enough without trying to find time for personal goals.

Our true longings and creativity often struggle to rise to the top. And life’s simple pleasures may be almost completely forgotten.

How can we break free of these smothering tendencies and create a life filled with meaning and pleasure?

Help is on the way!

For our October Book To Live By, I am so pleased to recommend:

The Wild Woman’s Way: Unlock Your Full Potential for Pleasure, Power, and Fulfillment by Michaela Boehm 

Michaela Boehm, a life counselor trained in psychology and the yogic arts, believes the key lies in listening to your body. Her many years of giving workshops and private sessions lay the groundwork for the teachings in this practical and powerful guide.

In Wild Woman’s Way, Michaela shares simple exercises and rituals using the senses, touch and physical movements. They will help you to break unhealthy patterns and create deeper relationships with partners, your own body, and even with life.

Michaela’s profound stories and strategies will help you to reconnect with your own sensuality, strength and awareness.

The audiobook is also lovely. Michaela’s calming voice carries her wisdom, warmth and caring straight to your heart.

Are you ready to get wild?

The Wild Woman’s Way is available from Amazon: https://amzn.to/2A6L1xv

Love,

Debbie Signature

The hidden magic in your struggles

You may be new to Women on Fire or you may have been a part of this ever-expanding circle for years.

I am super happy and excited to start off 2015 with you!

Women on Fire exists to celebrate or discover what you’re “on fire” about, and to provide inspiration, strategies and support to bring you more of what you want into your life.

The Spark! is your home for ideas, inspiration, and strategies — and to feel cherished and supported.  Because you are!

(In addition, our monthly membership was created to super-size your experience here. See the P.S. below for a special surprise for you if you’re not yet an official member.)

Today our topic focuses on how to turn what’s been a big challenge in your life into one of your greatest gifts to the world.  Your real gifts – your true purpose — are often hidden in shame or embarrassment or fear of being found out.

The irony is that it is often our pain that shapes us and makes us so very special – and can help us to help change life for others.

Take these women, for example:

Oprah is famous for sharing her great struggles (poverty, teen pregnancy, unstable home life, sexual abuse) and for transforming her turmoil into the fuel that propelled her career to greatness and beyond anyone’s imagination.

And it is true, too, for a dynamic and inspiring woman I interviewed last week — ABC News correspondent Mara Schiavocampo. You may have seen her on Good Morning America or in her last job at MSNBC.

Mara has written Thinspired, a brand-new book about her success in standing up to a nearly life-long food addiction battle to lose 90 pounds.  Even if you don’t have weight to lose, you will be empowered in whatever struggle you might face by how Mara persevered to overcome her demons and become the very best version of herself.

Her life’s great challenge with weight has now become her gift to the world.

Mara’s bingeing and food addiction was at least partially set into motion by a well-intentioned relative who insisted on monitoring and regularly weighing in Mara when she was a little girl.

To confuse matters, when this precious little girl lost weight at her weekly weigh-ins, her reward was a sweet treat such as ice cream!

In our interview, Mara shared how ashamed she was for her eating habits – and also her joy at the freedom of now saying the truth of her life.  And while her book has just been published, I believe she will help, inspire and influence many more people by revealing her greatest challenge than she ever would have in keeping silent even though she has a high-profile job on network television.

So, how is it for you? How can you turn your greatest challenges into your great strengths, as Oprah and Mara have done? Here are some questions to consider:

  • Are you aware of the secrets you keep hidden?
  • Have you overcome, worked through, healed from your challenges?
  • If you told your story, who might benefit?
  • If you die with your story inside of you, is that OK with you?
  • What potential is locked inside of you, hiding, waiting for you to welcome it into the world?

To get clear about your obstacles, past and present, write down all of the challenges that have shaped your life. Then, make a plan to bring them positively into your life.  What do you have to lose? My guess is you have everything to gain.

Have a fantastic week ahead and I am so thrilled to be on this road with you to living your most fulfilled and inspired life!

Love,

Debbie Signature

P.S. If you’re not yet an official member of Women on Fire, you are invited to join our monthly membership program where you’ll receive the interview with Mara Schiavocampo in your February membership package.

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January’s Book To Live By

This month’s Books To Live By selection is the perfect read to help kick start your personal and professional success in the new year.

From author, speaker and master Eastern philosophy teacher Deepak Chopra comes one of the most timeless spiritual guides to success.

Our January selection is….

The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A Practical Guide to the Fulfillment of Your Dreams by Deepak Chopra.

Whether you have been following Chopra for years or are brand new to his teachings, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success is a must-read if you are looking to cultivate abundance of all kinds in your life.

This book is truly a spiritual masterpiece, composed of tips and strategies to help you accept the present, let go of what can’t be controlled, and invite more success into your everyday life. Chopra guides you to identify and discard fear-based thought patterns and outlines more positive and effective ways to think things through.

Chopra’s guidance is simple and profound yet intimate and universal all at once. This book is nothing short of life changing, and I want to thank our featured guest in this month’s Women on Fire membership interview, Terri Cole, for the wonderful suggestion.

Here’s to your success in 2015!

With lots of love~

Debbie Signature

P.S. Speaking of kick-starting your success in 2015, did you know that registration for our annual Women on Fire retreat is officially open? I can’t think of a better way to invest in yourself and in your dreams this year. Spend an entire weekend reconnecting with your passion and reigniting your spark and leave with an action plan to make your big dream come true. 🙂 Seats are going fast, so be sure to register today!

Inspiration from Ms. O to Start Your Week

Hello from Miami and American Airlines Arena!

The weather was overcast and rainy, but that did not stop Ms. Oprah Winfreyfrom bringing the sunshine to nearly 10,000 women (and quite a few men) last weekend on the Miami leg of her The Life You Want tour.

I was fortunate enough to go, and I am thrilled to share some of the wisdom and inspiration from Oprah and her “trailblazers” — Deepak Chopra, Rob Bell, Elizabeth Gilbert and Iyanla Vanzant.

Several Women on Fire have attended the tour when it was in earlier cities, and you can read what they took away during Oprah’s live event on the blog.

Gayle King, Oprah’s best friend as well as editor of O Magazine and co-host of CBSThis Morning, shared her gracious presence all weekend.

She and I had a nice little chat about …what else? Women on Fire!  She truly is a fireball and I know many of you love her too.

Oprah got the show rolling with her brand of inspiration and wisdom, first sharing her personal story of her life and then introducing her special guests.

The energy and excitement — and the party that Oprah and her team created — will stay for a long time to come!

Here are some of the highlights from the speakers I thought you might enjoy.

From world renowed author and spiritual leader Dr. Deepak Chopra:

  • You cannot connect with spirit if you let the voices of the world drown you out.
  • See the world as a reflection of your inner state and shift from fear to love.
  • Multi-tasking is the only thing that gets worse with practice. If you’re fully present, you’ll have all the time to do what you need to do.
  • When your intention is aligned with your purpose there is flow.

He told the audience he meditates for two hours every single day. He led a brief meditation that was heavenly.

He answered an audience member’s question: What if you fall asleep during meditation?

“If you fall asleep while meditating, it means you need more sleep. The body is wonderful in that way!”

I know many of you have done the Oprah and Deepak 21-day Meditation Challenge.I highly recommend it as a way to learn meditation, which we all know has incredible physical and emotional benefits to stay calm and focused. (And you don’t have to make it a two-hour commitment!)

From best-selling author Elizabeth Gilbert, who wrote Eat, Pray, Love about her midlife journey to discover herself:

  • ‘I’m leaving’ were the two most dangerous words I ever said.
  • Don’t do what I did, do what I asked. What is my place in the world?
  • Some people we must love from a safe distance.
  •  We can be the heroes of our own lives. We just need to BEGIN!!
  •  What have you come here to do with your choices?
  •  If you want to have real transformation, it is never painless or easy.
  •  It’s better to live your destiny imperfectly, than to live someone else’s perfectly!

From pastor and best-selling author of Love Wins Rob Bell:

  • May you embrace this miraculous nature of life. It all matters.
  • Every point of the universe is actually the center of the universe.
  • We often rush through the very things that have the most power to transform us.
  • Do you believe in miracles? That’s not the question. It’s all a miracle, isn’t it?
  • You can say YES to this moment and experience a joy that cannot be put into words.

From the indomitable author and speaker Iyanla Vanzant, host of OWN Network’s show Fix My Life!:

  • Life always tell you the truth …your job is to recognize it and accept it
  • Courage is the strength to do something before you’re forced to.
  • When you’re birthing something, you need someone to hold your hand. But be careful what you grab onto.
  • The life you want is on the other side of the labor pains it takes to birth it. Don’t get stuck in the pain.
  • How not to be drained helping others? I don’t help anyone. Help is the tool of the ego. When you’re focused on “helping,” when they succeed, they forget you; if they fail , you beat yourself up.
  • You get to choose who you are in relationship to other people.

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And from the amazing Ms. Oprah herself:

  • You can only help people to the capacity they can accept your help.
  • Spend no time messing in other people’s territory. You have no power there. Your kids. Your husband. Your friends. You can only control your own territory!
  • Your purpose has already happened. The question is: are you living it and being it on purpose?
  • You become — not what you want — but what you believe.
  • Life sends you a message in a whisper; then a pebble when it’s a problem; then a brick when it’s a crisis and a brick wall when it’s a disaster!
  • It’s not about fame. It’s about stepping into the call of your life and the expression that is uniquely you. When you leave this Earth, you want to have blown it out, the highest, purest expression of yourself!

There are still two more live Oprah weekends with tickets available in Seattle and San Jose.  If you get the opportunity to go, one thing I know for sure: if you are a Woman on Fire, you will be inspired!

Wishing you a beautiful and successful Oprah-kind-of week ~

Love,

Debbie Signature

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Service for Jane Juergens

The funeral for Women on Fire member Jane Juergens was held today in Westerville, Ohio. The following remarks were made by Jan Allen during the service.

It was evident on Wednesday night, at the candlelight vigil, how many circles of love Jane Juergens occupied. First and foremost, her family – Andy’s words so eloquent, powerful, uplifting – funny and serious, just like Jane. Her lifelong friends. The people she came to know through her sons. The Westerville community. Her friends from dance and Pilates.

The people she knew professionally, who had become more than colleagues in and around the workplace.  And women she came to know through Women on Fire, the organization founded and led by my best friend, Debbie Phillips, of which Jane was such an integral part.  Women on Fire exists to support women to live their dreams.

That is where I first began to know Jane.  Then, she reached out to join my 2012 coaching group called Life, Ignited.  We connected immediately – a quality that Jane brought to every interaction – and she diligently began to work on her dream of having her own HR consultancy, and becoming a coach herself.

In our very first conversation, she got very clear about where she wanted to go and how and then moved with deliberation and speed to prepare.  Andy described her the other night as fearless.

I can’t recall how many times I said to myself, after hearing all that Jane had done in the last month to grow, learn, get certified, prepare to create new products and to launch her business, “wow, this woman has courage.”  And she was also saucy and so funny – we laughed out loud through half of that first, long coaching conversation.

One of our organizing tasks at the beginning of the group was to choose our personal “themes” for the year – something to guide each of our paths and help us focus.  A great exercise developed by my friend Debbie, a theme gives you an easy way to make decisions about where to invest your time and energy.

So I fully expected Jane’s theme to be about building her new business.  As she had said in a note to me and I quote her here: “I want to make the world a better place one manager at a time. I feel very fortunate and would like to help bring out the best in others.”

But she surprised me completely in this email about her choice:

I worked on my theme for over a month and had trouble making it truly resonate.  Last Wednesday morning I abandoned it altogether and replaced it with “inspire and be inspired.” In my Pilates class that same evening, Julie Wilkes, my instructor, friend and motivational guru announced that she had launched her first app – the “happy life app.” It has four tabs and the first one is “inspire me.” I knew at that moment that I’d made the perfect theme choice and I’ve been blessed by many opportunities to give and receive inspiration in the last few days.”

This, too, was pure Jane.  Choosing as her theme who she was  – so inspiring with her high-voltage smile, her always open arms, her unrelenting optimism, and always, always, her care and concern for the other – and pushing to be even more of that.

She definitely inspired us in life.  One of the notes that Debbie received after Jane’s death was from Brigid McClain who attended our Women on Fire Tea just a month ago, here in Columbus.  She and Jane had never met but sat next to each other that evening.

Dear Debbie,

I read this last night right after you posted it and I am still sick to my stomach…I felt so privileged to sit between Jane and Kacy at the tea. Their smiles were like sitting between two 150-watt bulbs! I had not met Jane before and we immediately connected. She was so upbeat and supportive when I told her snippets of my story. She told me one of the wonderful things about working for herself was now being able to take walks and run during the day and she felt so blessed…

As you mentioned, she also told me she was so incredibly happy at this point. Even though she was so busy she found time to call my daughter and give her ideas on how to find a business mentor. She just spoke with her last Friday evening! My daughter is so upset…I just can’t quit thinking about her boys. I hope they realize how proud she was of them and how happy she was at this point in her life…it is devastating and a senseless loss of someone so dedicated to bringing out the best someone has to offer…

And this from Debbie:

Jane was the very epitome of a Woman on Fire.  She was a charter member of our organization — she was member #00025 — and quickly became a role model for other women and a rising star because she arrived possessing those special qualities we cherish — she cheered on and supported others in their dreams; she never stopped learning and growing; she was brave and bold; she was loving and caring; and she went for her dreams!

Her influence in our worldwide community was strong enough that while we held a candlelight vigil here in Columbus last week, her light shone brightly across the Internet. Her Women on Fire sisters across the country and from as far away as New Zealand and Africa posted on Facebook tributes to her and photos of their own candlelight vigils in honor of her. It was a magnificent show of love for our Jane.

Jane will be remembered forever for her bright, shining light … an original Woman on Fire.

But it is evident from all the notes, Facebook posts and conversations, that Jane is also inspiring us – friends and strangers alike – even in death.  I know I have found myself in this last week, choosing those opportunities to “be with” those I love and care about, instead of just getting my next task done. As sad as I feel, I appreciate the world more, and the small precious moments of each day.  That’s because of you, Jane and who you remind us to be.

The last time I saw her was the Friday before last Sunday, at an early morning breakfast event I was co-hosting, with our guest speaker, a biophysicist from Wake Forest, here to talk about energy medicine.

As our mutual friend Jessika Ferm, who also attended, said to me in the last few days, Jane was radiant that day and indeed, she lit up this room as she lit up every room into which she walked. And she proudly gave me her new business card for her business PeopleGen, with the beautiful tagline “Bringing your talent to light.”

It is so tempting to dwell on Jane’s death, and the manner of it.  But to do that would be to dishonor her.  She died once; we should not have her dying over and over in our minds.  That would be a distraction from remembering her in life and the real lessons she taught us, among them:

  • Love your family and hold them close, very close.  Matt and Andy, she loved you dearly and spoke of you often, as she did her mom and dad.
  • Love and adore your friends and help them and be helped by them, as she was by her best friends Barbara and Marc, and so many others in her circles of love.
  • Live every day to the fullest.
  • Never stop growing.
  • Never stop moving, literally and figuratively, and never, ever stop dancing.
  • Inspire and be inspired.

Jane, we will never forget you.

In memory of Jane Juergens

We cherish each woman in our Women on Fire community so much so that the loss of even one of us affects us all.

Last night one of our beloved members Jane Juergens of Columbus, Ohio was killed tragically. She was in a park — most likely out for a run — and she was stabbed to death by a 16-year-old assailant.

Those of us who knew her well are devastated. She has been a loving, caring, uplifting presence at our retreats and teas, on our members’ Live Chats, and in Jan Allen’s Women on Fire coaching group Life, Ignited.

Photo by Heather Stone

Bright and shining Jane at a Women on Fire event pictured here with Jen Madson

And ignite her life, she did. Jane served as inspiration to us for her bold and courageous move in the past year to leave a solid, steady job to follow her dream and open her own human resources firm.

Photo by Heather Stone

With Jane at last year’s Women on Fire Retreat in Chicago

I had just been with Jane in Columbus on September 26 at a Women on Fire tea at the Cambridge House and several of you were there as well. That night, she was joyful and happy and so proud of the changes that she’d made and the success she was enjoying. She lit up the entire room that night!

Photo by Heather Stone

Having fun in Chicago in 2012, Jane is second from the left.

While Jane was friends with so many, I want to especially send love and wrap my arms around the Women on Fire in her coaching group led by Jan — Laura Tiberi, Mary Jo Hudson, Keena Smith and Nicole Lovett. These women lovingly nurtured and cheered each other on and I can’t imagine how hard it is to lose a member of your precious group.

Photo by Heather Stone

Jane with some her Women on Fire sisters is at the top of the picture

Personally, Jane was a radiant spirit in my life. Always coming from her heart. Living her best intentions. She recently went out of her way to re-connect me to Pam Smith Lucas, the daughter of my father’s best friend, whom I hadn’t seen since I was a child.

That’s just how she was. There to help. There to encourage. There to make life better for everyone.

Photo by Heather Stone

Jane getting a Women on Fire book signed for one of her friends

Ironically, last night, as Jane was no doubt fighting for her life, I received a note from a dear friend comforting me on the recent death of my brother. In part, she wrote:

It’s hard to comprehend when life takes unforeseen turns. Life always hangs on this very fragile string, which can just snap at any moment. It’s precious, so very precious and I am so sorry about your loss.

Those are now my words to you, as I light a candle in honor of our darling Jane.

On behalf of our entire community, we send our love and prayers to Jane’s immediate family, which includes her mother and two sons.

Please know in the coming weeks and months we will find ways to celebrate and honor Jane and to keep her beautiful spirit alive — and you all will be a part of that.

You are invited to share anything you’d like to say about Jane here.

Photo by Heather Stone

With love to you, dear Jane, forever and always.

May you rest in peace ~