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!

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 ~

The secrets to making it happen!

Thank you for your notes and comments after I wrote last week about the importance of writing a goodbye letter when you leave a job.

Some of you asked whether the same process can be applied to a relationship break-up, or to walk away from toxic people, or for other transitions such as graduating from college or finding yourself in an empty nest.

Yes, yes and yes!

Just tailor the prompt questions to the situation you choose to release.  And, congratulations to all of you who wrote your goodbye letters. (And to the many who sent me yours, I loved reading them!!)

You should find it easier now to move on — and toward new dreams or goals you really want.

With Carmencita Whonder at the launch in New York City of her exquisite, fashion-forward, plus-size clothing line Of Whonder.

Speaking of moving toward what you really want, I want to introduce you to a Woman on Fire member who launched her inspired dream of what she really wanted last week — after only 14 months from vision to reality.  And, all while she was working a full-time job as a lobbyist!

I could not be prouder for Carmencita Whonder of Washington, DC who really rocked it in New York City last Wednesday when she unveiled at a preview party her plus-size line of luxury ready-to-wear clothing.

In honor of her family’s name and Jamaican heritage, she named her company Of Whonder.   She grew up in “a culture that truly celebrates women’s bodies, shapely bodies, the most feminine silhouettes.”

Carmencita noticed a need, an underserved market for the majority of women in this country:  62% of women wear size 14 or larger.

With Carmencita on stage in the background, note her stylish designs for sizes 12-24.

Purchasing top-of-the-line jewelry, handbags and shoes is no problem for plus-size women, yet it is nearly impossible to buy exquisitely designed, luxurious, contemporary clothing that fits well in larger sizes.

Carmencita is out to change all that!  And how did she make it happen?

Here are her secrets that you can use to launch your dream, too.

1)  Vision.  She experienced a need. She took seriously what she noticed was lacking in her own life, and she talked with lots of other women who saw the need, too.

In Carmencita’s own words, here is how she developed Of Whonder from dream to reality:

I was very clear about my vision and got clearer and clearer about it  the more I worked on it.  It was a process and the more I learned, the more I honed my vision. 

2) Goals and next steps.

I created a plan and a goal and set out to achieve it.   It was no easy task, but I just took one day at a time and got my family and friends on board to help (including Woman on Fire style consultant and fabric expert Holly Getty) and hired freelance consultants from the fashion industry to help me get closer and closer to my goal.

3) Persistent action.

I persistently took action every day.  One thing that I learned in this process and a quality I have really come to respect about myself is my ability to stay positive and nimble.  Things were always changing and many challenges arose.  Knowing that I can’t always control what others do, I focused on how to respond positively to roadblocks, setbacks, and I prayed daily.

This is just the beginning for Carmencita and her dream to serve and inspire the lives of so many women.

Her clothes will be available next month through her website.

And, you will be able to tell Oprah that you heard about this amazing Woman on Fire here first!  (How perfect that Of Whonder and Ms. Winfrey share the same initials! 🙂

What about your own dreams?  What is missing in your life?  How might you transform that into your own dream? Know that you can always share your hopes and plans and receive support in the comment section below.


Super goal winners

While the rest of the country is snacking on Doritos and watching the Super Bowl, I’m propped up in my bed with furry Wilber stretched alongside me.  I’d much rather talk to you than watch football.

Honestly, I do not even know how the game is played.  And that is probably shameful given that I attended The Ohio State University during the years of football’s famous coach Woody Hayes and two-time Heisman winner Archie Griffin.

I am much more excited that my colleague Daren Stinson, who loves the Ravens, is over-the-moon they’re in the Super Bowl. And I’m thrilled there are several Women on Fire in the stands in New Orleans, including Women on Fire Book 2 co-author Kim Davis.

Woman on Fire Kim Davis is in the house … at the Super Bowl!

But, for me, the only way I can relate to the excitement people have for sports is to equate it with how crazy happy I feel when Women on Fire set their goals for the dreams they so want — and it all comes true!

So, congratulations to the Super Bowl winner and all their fans, and here are a few Women on Fire members who are my personal Super Goal winners:

Kira Karmazin and I celebrating her big success in going for her dream

Kira Karmazin of Atlanta and I enjoyed a long and luxurious lunch in Naples, Florida this weekend.  I could have talked forever to this inspiring apparel-industry executive, who while working a full-time job and raising daughter Grace, created and launched her dream-come-true clothing line.

Her fashion-forward, exquisite yoga wear company KiraGrace was recently featured by Hoda and Kathie Lee on NBC’s Today Show!

Emily Neal of Nashville set a big goal to spend a semester abroad during her sophomore year at Vanderbilt University — and voila, she’s is now in Copenhagen! Check out her exciting adventures — attending Denmark’s Fashion Week —  in her new blog.

Nothing will stop this powerful threesome– Laurel Hodory, Amy Marzluff and Carrie Saba

Carrie Saba, Amy Marzluff and Laurel Hodory, from Columbus, Ohio — all three amazing coaches and teachers — took a weekend getaway and winter hike to create their own Vision Day experience and set their dreams.  I can only imagine what we’ll see from each of them this year. Carrie and Laurel are  co-authors in Women on Fire Book 2 and you’ll be able to read their empowering stories later this year.

As a little girl, Nellie Partow of New York City sketched designs in her notebook and dreamed of being a fashion designer.   Today, with a dozen collections to her credit, she was recently nominated for the fashion industry’s Rising Star Award.  And now Vogue Magazine is recognizing her supreme talent. Way to go for your dreams, Nellie!

Carmencita Whonder of Washington, DC is set to announce her years-in-the-making business — Of Whonder — a line of plus-size yoga wear. Stay tuned when details are revealed in New York City on February 13!

Congratulations to Ellen Wingard of Chilmark, Massachusetts, who this week becomes the chair of the board of World Pulse.  An author and transformational leader, Ellen has nearly 30 years of experience in leadership coaching.

Those of you who met her at the recent Women on Fire Retreat in Chicago will remember her powerful presence and goal to advance and promote the social and economic empowerment of women in the world.  She is well on her way!

Congratulations to each of you.  It is a joy to watch you set your goals and dreams and go for it!

If you have milestones in your dreams to share, please keep me posted on how your goals are transforming your life.


Welcome to She’s a Woman on Fire!

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

Becky Adams

San Diego, California

WOF member: #00094

Member since March 2012

1. Please tell us about YOU, your family, your work, what you are “on fire” about, etc.
I am a mother, wife, friend, sister, daughter, step-mother, business owner, writer, skier, quilter, organizer, expert stain remover and home improvement project lover.

As a kid growing up on a farm in Ontario, Canada, I was excited to move to a city and spread my wings. That desire transported me to Montana, Colorado, and then San Diego, where I’ve lived for the last 20+ years.

Three years ago I married Tom Adams and am still in awe every day of the wonderful life we have together.  We were childhood friends who reconnected after over 25 years of being apart and living completely separate lives on opposite ends of the continent.

I have a 13-year-old daughter and two college-age step-sons. Together, Tom and I own and operate Flourish Press, a boutique publishing, consulting and marketing support services company, created specifically to help people and businesses thrive. 

I’m on fire about sharing my strategies for being an effective co-parent.  I share custody of my daughter with my former husband, and I’ve discovered and created effective ways to make the job a lot easier. As a result, I am in the process of writing a book on the subject of being a co-parent. 

2. How did you originally connect to Women on Fire?
Tom and I did a Vision Day with Debbie Phillips and Rob Berkley a few years ago.  That was my first introduction to Debbie and the WOF community.  I subscribed right away to The Spark! and started reading about this refreshing group of women who were committed to supporting each other, and thought… that’s too good to be true!

Then, when the opportunity came along last year to participate in the WOF Paris trip, I thought it was a perfect chance to do something special for myself (as a 50th birthday gift), and hopefully meet some wonderful women.  That trip was a life-changing experience for me and now I’m hooked.  I’ve invited my sisters, Mary Lou and Lori, to be involved and so now I share WOF with them as well.  I’m here to stay as a WOF!

3. Your favorite part of the day is when _________?
My husband, daughter and I sit down for dinner.  We always raise a glass and toast the day and then talk about what happened.  We give a collective sigh if the day’s been a tough one and then figure out how to make it better.  Or, we celebrate the good things that happened.  But it’s always okay because we are all there together. 

4. The last book you read that you would recommend to other WOF?
I recently read The Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte.  It gave great insight into how to think about our lives differently and make decisions based on what will best feed our souls.  The best tip I got from the book was, rather than continue to ask myself “what do I want to do?”, instead, ask “how do I want to feel?”  Then let the answer guide my decisions about everything from self-care to my life’s work.  It is a powerful book!

5. What is your proudest accomplishment in the past 12 months?
My decision to write a book on being an effective co-parent, and putting a plan in place to get underway with the writing process.  I’m very excited and can’t wait to dig in further!

6. If you had an unexpected free day (a “found” day), how would you spend it?
I would go to a yoga class in the morning; spend the afternoon writing (my book is in process), get a massage in the late afternoon, and then have dinner with my two favorite people – my husband and daughter. 

7. Your favorite city in the world?
This is an easy answer for me – Paris!  I’ve had TWO great trips to Paris.

The first was with my husband Tom, before we were married.  It was our first official trip together.  It didn’t take long for us to realize just how romantic Paris is! It was like we were under a magic spell the entire time we were there. We were completely smitten with each other before we arrived, but by the end, we’d sealed the deal on being together forever!

The second trip was with Women on Fire in April 2012.  The trip was an amazing time of connecting with wonderful women – whom I will now consider sisters for the rest of my life.  For five days we talked and walked and explored and cooked and laughed and cried and cheered each other on.  It filled a gap in my life I didn’t even know was there.

8. Name another Women on Fire who has inspired you, and why?
Jan Allen.  I had the honor of being “matched” with Jan at the WOF retreat in Chicago last October.  I got a chance to have a little one-on-one time with her and to also sit in on her TEDx presentation.  She is so accomplished, and yet so down-to-earth and wise… I came away VERY inspired by her. Thanks, Jan!

9. If you had the opportunity to teach a child one strategy that would help to guide her life, what would that be?
I would teach her is to be the best version of herself that she can possibly be. I would encourage her to bring the best of herself to everything she does and everyone she interacts with, and to maintain a high standard for her own behavior.  And I would teach her to understand who she is and stick by that.

10. What is something that we might be surprised to learn about you?
I hate electronics.  I run a company that is web and technology focused, and yet I can’t stand figuring out how electronic things work.  And passwords drive me completely batty.  Normally calm and collected… dealing with passwords (and we have millions of them for our clients) can cause me to come completely unglued! 

11. Name three women who have influenced your life, and what you’ve learned from each.
Audrey Kinzer:  I worked with Audrey early in my career.  She was nearly 20 years older than me.  She had a grace and serenity I admired and she had a very logical approach to addressing problems.  Years later, whenever I found myself in a work situation where I didn’t know what to do I would ask myself ‘what would Audrey do?’  From Audrey I learned the value of being diplomatic.

My Mom, Nancy Turnbull: My mom is always quietly there.  She checks in on me and our entire family; provides a place to rest when things are tough, and is there to celebrate when things go well.  From my mom I learned the value of being a stable, loving presence.

My WOF Paris sisters: This group of women came along at the perfect time in my life.  They helped me to see clearly past my own blind spots, and encouraged me to move ahead with my dream of writing a book.  Being with them, I learned that having a supportive group of friends is a necessity, not an option.

12.  Who cheers you on?

My biggest cheerleader is my husband.  He’s very inspiring and supportive!  And my amazing circle of WOF Paris sisters – Lisa Arundale, Doni Belau, Kim Davis, Jill Dulitsky, Jamie Eslinger, Angela Ittu, Susan Kruger, Tandi Musuraca, Debbie Phillips and Michelle Whittaker.  With their support, I feel like I can move mountains. 

13. What is your favorite “pig-out” food? 

I have a sweet tooth, so my “go-to” treat would be Hershey’s kisses.   But when I want a significant snack… something I’m going to sit and chow down, without restraint… that would have to be tortilla chips.  Living in San Diego, we get an amazing array of fresh tortilla chips.  So that’s what I get if I want to engage in some seriously mindless eating.   

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

Grateful:  I have had the opportunity to do and experience many things in my life. I’ve had extraordinary screw ups and moments of grace; times of heartache and times of pure joy. When I add it all up, I can’t think of one person in the world that I would trade places with. I’m very grateful to have lived the life I have.  

Fast:  Whew!  Oh my goodness, life is going by so quickly!  I need to make every day count!


More about Becky Adams …
Becky’s gift is her ability to create comfortable spaces and events.   She’s a process and organizational whiz who loves to organize parties, activities, work – anything that can be improved by putting a system in place so it flows well.As a lover of fabric, paper, textures and patterns, she enjoys sewing, quilting and all things creative.

Her perspective after managing a family law firm – and the daily experience of being a co-parent with her former husband to their teenage daughter – inspired her upcoming tips-and-strategies book about being an effective co-parent.  Publication is scheduled for later this year.

Her theme for 2013 is Focus and Leadership.

You are welcome to say hello to her at Becky@flourishpress.com.

~ Debbie Phillips


Stay tuned for the next She’s A Woman on Fire!  As senior writer, Becky Adams will now officially take over and bring you the stories of members in our Women on Fire community.

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!


One strategy for your big dreams!

Nearly two decades ago, my brilliant friend and (of course!) a Woman on Fire Patricia Wynn Brown suggested a book she was sure I would love.

Reading it changed my life.  And I think it could change yours, too.

The book was my first taste of Anne Lamott’s funny and perceptive writing, and the beginning of my love affair with her words and wisdom. And, here’s the passage in her book that blew my mind and rewired my thinking:

“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was 10 years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day.

“We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead.

“Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my  brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy.  Just take it bird by bird.'”

And, that’s how Bird By Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life came to crack open my fear and resistence to take on the “big stuff.”

Before that, I would see BIG dreams and desires looming in front of me without the direction of how to fly from Point A to Point Z.  How could I get to what I really, truly wanted in my life?

And there it was, tucked into Anne Lamott’s book, the secret.   “Bird by bird” — one small, doable step after another.

All these years later, rarely a week goes by that I don’t remind myself of a daunting task toward my big dreams, by saying out loud or silently mouthing “bird by bird.”  I always know I can do it, if I take it “bird by bird.” 🙂

I’d love to hear if that resonates for you? Or, a simple strategy for how you approach an enormous dream or huge project?

I was reminded again last week of how important it is to have strategies like this for our big dreams when the co-authors of the next Women on Fire book were announced.  (If you missed it, you can read who was selected here. And if you know any of them, please feel to reach out and cheer her on!)

Each one of our co-authors is about to tackle something big:  she will reveal a personal life story and struggle and what she did to reach success, overcome an issue or accommodate her challenge into her life.

It’s one thing to tell your life story and personal struggles to a friend, it’s another to share it publicly in a book.  Our co-authors are courageous women! Revealing can be so frightening even though the rewards are tremendous.

Every single one of our co-authors is up for the challenge.  She knows in sharing she will lighten the load for another women or give comfort and direction to someone facing a similar struggle.

With Sophfronia Scott, our publisher, Kacy Cook, our editor and me, there are 24 of us in this big dream.

Together, we will fly — and we’ll take it “bird by bird.”

Photos by Rob Berkley in Naples, FL

Have a spectacular week.  And, I’ll see you mid-week for a special new feature we are launching to share more of who the women in this community are!

Announcing our co-authors!

Sophfronia Scott and I were thrilled a couple of months ago to reveal plans for Women on Fire Book 2!

And, today, Sophfronia, our publisher, and Kacy Cook, our editor, and I are ecstatic to announce the names of the co-authors who have been selected to write our second book.

Our first book — Women on Fire: 20 Inspiring Women Share Their Life Secrets (and Save You Years of Struggle!) won the 2010 Indie Excellence Award for best compilation book in the country! And, I am tremendously grateful to the wonderful co-authors of that book for helping to make it such a success.

And, there’s no doubt in my mind that our next book will be equally engaging and powerful and provide you the inspiring stories you’ve come to love and learn from.

Before I reveal the co-authors who have been chosen, I want to thank … YOU!

We were overwhelmed by your interest and response. Many of you submitted proposals to be part of the book, passed along our invitation to friends and family, expressed interest to participate in future books, and cheered us on by telling us how eager you are for another WOF book!

Thank you so much.

In fact, there were so many worthy co-authors under consideration that WOF Book 3 is no longer just a gleam in our eyes. 🙂

We appreciate you coming along on this next book adventure with us — and I look forward to the day you will hold our newest offering in your hands and celebrate with us!

Please join me in congratulating our newest co-authors:

Jan Allen, Columbus, OH

Lisa Arundale, Boca Grande, FL

Marilyn Brown, Columbus, OH

Kim Davis, Fort Washington, MD

Nicole Friedler Brisson, Edgartown, MA

Sarah Elizabeth Greer, New York, NY

Leah Hamilton, Chicago, IL

Laurel Hodory, Columbus, OH

Beth Kloesener, Saginaw, MI

Susan Kruger, Lake Orion, MI

Jenifer Madson, Erie, CO

Linda Neff, Shorewood, WI

Mary Kay Purdy, Columbus, OH

Kay Raypholtz, Pioneer, OH

Carrie Saba, Westerville, OH

Tricia Simpson, Dublin, OH

Marge Snyder, Greenville, SC

Maria Verroye, Driftwood, TX

Heike Vogel, New York, NY

Mary Carran Webster, Chagrin Falls, OH

Michelle Whittaker, Arlington, VA

We look forward to sharing highlights as the book evolves. Thank you again for your awesome support and enthusiasm!

Here we go!

Did you have a good holiday?  Are you wishing for another few days off?  Me, too. Yet, I’m very excited to dive into this year!

My husband Rob and I “worked” — as we always do over the holiday break — to create a plan for a great year ahead.  And, if you don’t have a plan yet for your amazing year, it’s not too late.

I put “work” in quotes, because it isn’t really work when you transform your dreams into reality.  It just takes time and patience and some guidance.

My theme for 2013. (Ooops, no spell-check with that orange Magic Marker!)

We invented Vision Day, a strategic planning day for your work and life, 15 years ago, and it has been the foundation of our success year-after-year no matter what bumps in the road we hit along the way.

I hope you won’t get tired of me telling you how essential it is for you to have a plan! If you don’t, life just takes it course and you end up feeling one year melts into another and you’re not sure what you’ve accomplished.

Each year, Rob conducts my Vision Day; I conduct his; and then together we create a plan and theme for us as a couple.  (You can imagine it’s a little more lively when we’re both in charge during the couple’s Vision Day;-)

Because you mean the world to me and my work is to help you put your gifts and talents into the world, I’d love to bring you inside for a peek at my Vision Day.  And outline some easy, simple steps so you can set up your own terrific year.

(Women on Fire monthly members, you have detailed instructions for your Great Start 2013 in your January CD package.)

First, it’s important to take stock and celebrate what you accomplished — or even lived through and survived — last year.

Next, it’s time to think about what you really want in this year ahead and write it down as goals.  Even if it seems out-of-reach now.  You have 365 days to move toward it!  Be sure to write down a list of people you can call on to support you in your efforts.

Finally, create an overall theme to inspire and guide you with your biggest dreams.

So, this year, my Vision Day results were a bit of a surprise to me.  When I allowed myself the luxury to really dream and think about things I deeply want in my life, I discovered some BIG goals.

A few of them raised fear.  And then I asked myself: if not now, when?

I was even afraid that my theme, which came to me out of the blue and felt so perfect — “The Year of Magnificent Accomplishments” — would seem too grandiose.

And then I remembered Marianne Williamson’s letter from many years ago to a struggling Oprah:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”

Marianne to the rescue at the perfect moment!

Rob and I then made a step-by-step plan for me to get where I want to go … and you can do that, too.  Here is where you can return each week for support and encouragement!

One of my gigantic goals is launching Women on Fire Media and publish at least one and maybe two books this year!

I have been wanting to do this for years — and after our last successful book — as a way for women to share their voices, inspiration and strategies with the world and in service of all women who need them.

Another big goal is to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Women on Fire with style and fun next October.  It’s unbelievable to me that our very first Women on Fire gathering at the Cherry Lane Theater in New York City was 10 years ago already!

Were you there? 🙂 I remember how excited I was as the room filled with 77 attendees and I watched how people shared what they were “on fire” about with such joy and enthusiasm. And 10 years later, we are thousands of women strong!

I was afraid then, too.  And I received so much support that my dream was serving a valuable need that I just kept going. And planned each new year. And here we are together!

There are more big goals to share with you as the year unfolds and I look forward to hearing all about yours.

I’d love you to know that Rob (with help from Wilber!) came up with a great theme to guide his year too.

When you have a moment, please let me know your progress in the comments section below.


Video: Women on Fire sparkle in 2012!

Ready to say good-bye to 2012? And HELLO to a clean slate, brand-new, sparkly year?!

Before the calendar officially flips to 2013, I want to thank you for being a part of this phenomenal circle of fabulous women.

You and your big heart and desires for a better life keep me inspired and motivated every single day of the year!

Congratulations for your courage — day in and day out — to step up and transform your life.  And, for all the inspiration, strategies and support you share and exchange with your Women on Fire sisters.

I hope you will enjoy today’s SPARK! — a brief video review of our community in 2012.  You know how important I believe it is to celebrate and honor your year as a way to prepare for the new one.

Thank you to Jamie Eslinger for creating this video and for setting it to original music by the very talented singer/songwriter Meghan LaRoqueI hope you see yourself in it!

Savor a happy, relaxing, fun holiday over the next few days and …

I look forward to seeing you back here a week from now with a whole, new exciting year of plans for Women on Fire!

The discoveries of a young Woman on Fire


As a woman, I grew up being encouraged to “blend in.” Into one another, into the background, into myself.

Since childhood, I’ve walked the fine line that exists between having confidence in my own success, yet being modest enough to hide my achievements. It’s exhausting, and even that’s an understatement.

Meredith Schoenberger speaking during the recent Women on Fire event in Chicago with Debbie Phillips (Photos by Heather Stone)

And, then I attended the Women on Fire Retreat, 33 floors above ground in the W Hotel’s Altitude Room overlooking Chicago, in the warm embrace of the WOF community, and for the first time that line to share my light disappeared.

That weekend in Chicago was a life-changing experience that overwhelms me with love when I think about it.

I’ve never been in such a supportive and accepting environment before.

I walked into this situation knowing maybe a couple of people, and I walked out with a whole lady gang, who are rooting for me to overcome and succeed.

It has left me close to speechless (a rare occurrence, my friends and family would tell you!), and every time I let my mind return to the memories of the retreat, I can’t help but smile.

Being only 23, and having the privilege of sharing an entire weekend with the largest collection of successful women I’ve ever encountered at one time, has me convinced that I’m doing something right.

I couldn’t tell you what that “something” is just yet, but I can tell you that I’m not as worried as I once was about trying to figure it out.

I was one of the youngest women to attend the WOF Retreat and I know that my age had an impact on the types of questions I asked and answers I sought.

I’m at a point in my life where the abundance of choices seems superficial; the competition amongst women feels toxic; and more than 90% of the time I feel completely lost, but am too anxious to admit it.

In my experience, women my age often seem more concerned about last night’s episode of Honey Boo-Boo and what “so and so” wore to her wedding than talking about their proudest moments and what their goals are for the coming year.

Very often, I’ve felt out of place when surrounded by my peers, and have been put-down one too many times for trying to offer encouragement and give unconditional love.

But at the WOF Retreat, I felt that I belonged.  I told Debbie that I knew I was meant to be there in that moment.

The Retreat, with women of all ages, was the first opportunity I’ve had where I was encouraged to celebrate myself in the company of other woman.

It was the first time that I felt I could be proud of who I am and how far I had come without the backlash of judgment or jealousy.

It also gave me permission to gush over the accomplishments of other women, and express the unconditional support that had been silenced in the past.

The Retreat provided women with the tools, the space and the love that it takes to tap into your most authentic self. And once you tap into who that woman is, you become one step closer to leading the life you have always wanted to live.

So, from this day forward, I’m taking a vow to no longer blend-in to the box labeled “female.”

I’m going to fight for my big dreams; I’m going to push forward in my next steps; and you better believe that I will always credit the WOF community for helping me to realize that I should.

The youngest attendees at the Women on Fire Retreat: Emily Neal, Elle Celeste and Meredith Schoenberger with Debbie Phillips (who is not so young!)

A Cleveland, Ohio native, Meredith Schoenberger majored in creative writing at Miami University.  She currently works as a talent coordinator for a music management company, and lives in Los Angeles.

Although not fully convinced that the West Coast is best, she has her sights set on New York City in the near future. She’s passionate about helping young women prepare for the real world and is currently on her way to making that dream happen.