What I wish someone would have told me…

Last week I returned to my alma mater The Ohio State University to lead the 3rd annual Women on Fire Day there with 100 young women.

The idea of such a day – where experienced women share wisdom and strategies with younger women — came from the students themselves.

It truly is one of the most rewarding and inspirational days of my year.

Here I am with this year’s panelists of wise women sharing their knowledge: Jordan Davis, Amy Marzluff, Cindy Monroe and Dr. Gladys Gibbs

My keynote talk this time was “What I Wish Someone Would Have Told Me In College.”

The incredible team who made our Women on Fire day possible: Meredith Schoenberger, Yvonne Dulaney, Ashley Sinram, Tracy Stuck, Molly Pierano, Chelsea Burrell and Neha Patel (Photo by Eve Esch)

I can imagine that you have some powerful thoughts on this subject as well. Here are a few that I shared with OSU students. Did you wish for any of these yourself?

I wish someone would have told me early on that:

You are the CEO of your life

No matter what you do for a living or your position – whether you are married, widowed, divorced or single and whether you work, stay at home with kids or both — you are in charge of your life.

You are responsible for creating your own destiny.

I was in my mid-30s before I learned and accepted that I am the CEO of my life. When I did, a peace and calm came over me.

I realized I wasn’t a victim of circumstances.  If I wasn’t happy or didn’t like something, I had the power to change it!

Your heart will get broken but you will survive

My early boyfriend heartbreaks and girlfriend betrayals were utterly devastating but nothing like the grief from loss of loved ones and divorce that I later experienced over the years.

Sometimes it felt I would die right along with the loss that had occurred. Eventually, I learned that I could survive from loss — and even thrive.

And often loss or heartbreak meant not the ending of something but the beginning of something new – and even even sometimes something better.

Who you are in this world – and what you stand for — is way more important than the way you look

Countless times I held myself back because I thought I was too fat or didn’t look right or didn’t have the right clothes.

What a waste of energy! It is truly my only regret in life.

I was in my late 30s before I owned who I was in the world and embraced my qualities and why I was here:  to help people express their gifts, strengths and talents.

The more I focused on who I was and how I could help others, the less it mattered how I looked or dressed or whether someone liked me or not.

One of my favorite quotes on this subject came from actress Rashida Jones who said:

You can’t really invest in your looks as your only thing because it’s a depreciating asset. It’s like putting money into a stock that is going down. Invest in your brain, invest in your talent; those things can appreciate and they get better as you get older.”

Find and surround yourself with the greatest people you can to work with and learn from

Pay attention to the quality of people you associate yourself with.

Small-minded people talk about other people; big vision people talk about making the world a better place. Hang with big vision people.

Don’t ever think that someone is too big for you to meet or get to know or even work for.  Somebody has to take those jobs in the White House, including being the President!

Don’t ever compare yourself to anyone else

Unhappy people compare themselves to others. Happy people compare themselves to the goals they’ve set for themselves.

Comparing yourself is always a losing battle. Always someone wealthier, smarter, prettier, more accomplished and with better behaved children!

Stay in your own lane and stay focused on your own goals and dreams.

Do not ever let anyone hijack your dreams

When I was a little girl, I poured over National Geographic magazines and dreamed of going to Antarctica.

As an adult, I decided to make my dream come true.  I saved and studied and planned for my trip to Antarctica.

And, here’s the response I received from most people:  “Why go there? Wouldn’t you rather go to Australia? Why would you pay to be cold?”

This is my dream! I told them.  Go focus on your dreams!

Your job is to stay true to your dreams.

Your dreams are nobody’s business but yours. Never let anyone take them away!

So as you look back to the time you were 18-22, and venturing out into the world to make a difference, what do you wish someone would have told you?

Share your comments below. I’d love to hear!


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She’s a Woman on Fire! Meet Cari Vollmer

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… – See more at: https://www.debbiephillips.com/2014/01/22/shes-a-woman-on-fire-meet-carmencita-whonder/#sthash.d0qbe5aG.dpuf
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… – See more at: https://www.debbiephillips.com/2014/01/22/shes-a-woman-on-fire-meet-carmencita-whonder/#sthash.d0qbe5aG.dpuf
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… – See more at: https://www.debbiephillips.com/2014/01/22/shes-a-woman-on-fire-meet-carmencita-whonder/#sthash.d0qbe5aG.dpuf

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…


Cari Vollmer

Minneapolis, Minn.

WOF member: #00110

Member since:  March 11, 2012

Please tell us about YOU, your family and your work. What you are “on fire” about? 

My husband, Pete, and I are business owners, and we’re passionate about what we do. Right now we’re talking about how to make this chapter of our life our most intentional so far, including implementing a daily practice where we start the day together to set our intentions and keep our vision alive. We both feel the power in finally putting our marriage, our dreams and ourselves first. We’re excited.

We are a blended family, which means I’ve had children in my life from the day we got married almost 25 years ago. This fall will be the first time we’ll have an “empty nest.” Pete and I are looking forward to this new time, while of course still enjoying our girls so much. My stepdaughter Meghann, a veterinarian, is married and has a little boy, Jackson, who calls me either CC or Grandma, both of which I respond to with enthusiasm!

Another big focus right now is holding an intentional and loving space for our other daughter, Kasie, as she graduates from high school and starts her new life as a college student and athlete. I know every mother who has gone through this transition understands what this means — the emotional roller-coaster of joy and fears. all of it. We’re oh so proud of Kasie and her many accomplishments, including earning a full-ride athletic scholarship to a college where she will also get to pursue her passion for wildlife biology.

Last fall I finally accepted the fact that my life — our lives — were changing, and it wasn’t helping to hold it at arm’s length. Interestingly enough, as soon as I affirmed the transition, I started getting a lot of clarity regarding my next steps as a woman and businesswoman. I knew deep down that this is my time to claim my dreams in an even bigger and bolder way.

How did you originally connect to Women on Fire?  

I originally heard about Women on Fire through my friend Laurie Forster. Laurie and I were in the same mastermind group, and she nudged me to get to know her coach, Debbie Phillips. I started following Debbie and Women on Fire on Facebook, and it wasn’t long before I was a complete FAN! I’m so happy I listened to that nudge Laurie gave me!

What’s your favorite component of the Women on Fire membership program?

In this order: (1) Debbie and her intentional and loving leadership, (2) the sisterhood, and (3) retreats, monthly calls and interview CDs.

What is your favorite part of the day?

I have a few different favorite parts to my day.  I love both when I’m the only one home, and I can feel what I need to feel and hear what I need to hear. I love that quiet space. And I love when the rest of my family is home and how crazy it can get with them and our two dogs, a terrier mix named Choxie and a golden retriever named Finnegan, and our cat, Isabelle.

What is the last book you read that you would recommend to other Women on Fire? 

A few years ago a client told me about The Power of Awareness by Neville Goddard. I bought it immediately and proceeded to highlight many passages. I return to it over and over and over again.

Name one thing you’re proudest of.

I’m proudest of taking the journey to know who I am. I now feel everything stems from that understanding, and I’m so much more comfortable in the world as a result. I also trust my intuition now more than ever. It’s not always easy to do so because there’s so much noise in the world. I suppose that’s why I like my house when it’s quiet. I like to feel what I’m feeling, and if I get too busy I can’t do that.

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

When people first meet me, they are always surprised by how tall I am — 6-foot-3! It might also be surprising to know that I was adopted.

If you had an unexpected free day, how would you spend it?    

That would totally depend on my mood in that moment. I might like to go for a long walk — either by myself or with a friend — buy some flowers for my office and kitchen, meet friends for lunch or dinner, get a massage, and either try a new recipe for dinner or find a new restaurant in the city.

What is your favorite city in the world?

I haven’t visited nearly enough to know for sure, but right now I’d say Minneapolis, Chicago and New York, in no particular order.

Share a special Women on Fire moment or experience.

There have been so many! This year at the Women on Fire Retreat in Naples I had a big aha moment when I heard the panel discussing the importance of having sponsors — other people who take an active interest in your success and open doors for you. I’ve had many mentors and some of them have been sponsor-like. But when I heard Tandi Musuraca talking about sponsors, I realized that I could be asking for sponsors to show up in my life. And a few already have! I loved that moment! Thank you again, Tandi!

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

Well, I LOVE my Women on Fire cleanse sisters. (I wonder if they realize that this is what I call them!) Last year I participated in the first Women on Fire 21-day cleanse. I was so nervous! I didn’t know if I could possibly do the full 21 days. But Debbie and Amy Marzluff offered such amazing support and guidance as well as the connection to the other women who participated. I did it and I loved it!

What’s your big dream?

My dreams are to live my happiest and healthiest life, surrounded by people I love and who love me. I want to be true to myself, and to continue making a positive impact in the world. This year, I’ve committed to specializing in one particular aspect of all those that I’ve offered to clients over the years and that is to share my Identify Your Brilliance work with as many souls as possible. I really can’t think of better work than helping others discover who they are.

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

I have to list three, but they’re all connected. 🙂

  • Know who you are.
  • Trust your instincts.
  • Value who you are.

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

My mom, Kay, was a businesswoman and ran our family restaurant for 20 years. She was the toughest boss I ever had. She taught me a lot about how to have a great work ethic and take care of customers, and how NOT to put up with bad behavior. She was gracious and had a deep inner strength. When I was looking for my first job after moving to Minneapolis, she gave me the best job-hunting advice I’ve ever heard: Make them feel like they couldn’t possibly live without you. I took her advice and was hired on the spot! I lost her 15 years ago, and I miss her every day. She was great.

My friend Beth is one of the best women I know. She’s taught me a lot about love, trusting my instincts, having good boundaries, and how to handle difficult situations. I’ve always loved the sparkle in her eyes and how easily she laughs.

Debbie Phillips came into my life at a time when I was feeling a bit disenchanted by the coaching and Internet marketing world. Deep down, I could sense a lack of authenticity, even when some of my coaches and teachers were preaching it. Very often, something felt off to me; things weren’t adding up. I’ve always been so grateful to Laurie Forster for introducing me to Debbie because I think she’s such a great model for having a true open-armed, authentic, loving embrace, and she’s taught me over and over again that when you’re aligned with love great things happen. I believe WOF has helped me be much more comfortable with who I am.

Who cheers you on?

I’m blessed to have many people who cheer me on — friends, colleagues, clients, my husband, and my daughters. One time, when I was nervous about speaking to a roomful of people, Kasie sent me a text message that said, “You’ll do great. You’re Cari Vollmer!” I loved that so much and deeply appreciated her cheerleading. I will treasure those words forever!

What is your favorite “pig out” food? 

Oh, my! Lately, it’s been a scoop of Häagen-Dazs Sea Salt Caramel Gelato. Good thing I’m starting that cleanse again soon!

What song is on your iPod right now?

Happy by Pharrell Williams, and then a mish-mash of many of my daughter’s songs. She keeps me current, but please don’t ask me for performer or song names. I’m not good at retaining that info.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve ever faced and how did you overcome it?

Without question my mom’s illness and passing was my biggest challenge. I went through that period before I had really dug deep into my own being, so going through that left me feeling very lost and without any sense of direction; however, it was also the beginning of the life I have today. It’s sometimes hard to consider that time as a blessing, but what rose from it certainly has been.

What are your go-to self-care strategies?

Quiet time. Deep breathing. A clean house. Fresh flowers. Clear space. Massages. Heart-to-heart conversations with great friends.

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

Blessed and awake.

More about Cari …

Cari Vollmer, founder of PassionIntoProfit.com, helps businesswomen worldwide create their sweet lives and purpose-filled businesses by helping them awaken, identify and honor their brilliance so they can infuse their lives and businesses with the best of who they really are. She fiercely supports women in trusting their gut instincts, while helping them create purposeful and strategic plans for business growth and living well.

You are welcome to say hello to her at Cari@passionintoprofit.com.


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

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Just a quickie! ;-)

Hope you won’t mind me popping in quickly to just say hi.

I’m in New York City with Rob celebrating my birthday and am squeezing out every single second in this fabulous city!

We’ve gone to the theater twice (saw performances of “Motown” and “Book of Mormon”; loved them both and recommend to you); had lunch at my new favorite restaurant Marea (author Toni Morrison sat by us!)

And we’ve walked, walked, walked including past my favorite Big Booty Bakery! Every time I see this sign I crack up, and Rob just happened to be there with his camera – ahem.

Women on Fire personal style consultant Holly Getty is headed over to pick me up in a few minutes — to go buy new bras from her special source. After our Women on Fire “Get Your Summer On” cleanse success, I lost 8 pounds and am now in need of new ones. (Sorry about the TMI!)

(More soon on how our fabulous group of Women on Fire, led by holistic health coach Amy Marzluff,did after our 21-day cleanse.  We can’t wait to share with you some of our favorite yummy, luscious, healthy recipes!)

Before I go, thank you to all the wonderful women who attended last Friday’s Women on Fire tea in New York City.

The tea kicked off my birthday weekend. And, just when I think a tea party can’t get any more inspiring, it does.  We had soooo much fun!  (We celebrated Kelley Black’s birthday, too! And, talented singer-songwriter Jaclyn Reilly gave us a little concert:-))

Photo by Rob Berkley

Women on Fire tea participants: Front row: Mary Ann Reilly, Jaclyn Reilly, Susan Perry, Teresa Goetz; back row: Meredith Schoenberger, Debbie Palocin, Darlene Wade, Holly Getty, Jan Nolte, me!, Lexi Baltazar, Kelley Black, Michelle Tenzyk and Shannon McCaffery. Missing from photo: Jenifer Madson and Pier Boutin.

Happy official summer to each of you! Thank you for reading The Spark! and being a part of this amazing community and for sharing Women on Fire with the fabulous women you love.

See YOU soon at a Women on Fire event!  I’ll be back next week … a year older and maybe even a week wiser:-)

Check Out Whose Lights Are Shining

It’s my favorite time of the month.  I get to share what a number of you are up to!

But before I do, I want to congratulate all the Women on Fire members participating in member Amy Marzluff’s Get Your Summer On 21-day cleanse.

What a great way to get ready for summer by becoming healthier. I am part of the group and the support of my Women on Fire sisters working toward a similar goal is both comforting and motivating. We’ll let you know how we all do in a future Spark! 

I also am wondering …

Are you a Judy Blume fan? Were you captivated as a young girl by Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret or later one of her adult novels Wifey or Summer Sisters?

Women on Fire members will receive my personal interview with this beloved and inspiring author in your July CD membership packet. (If you’re not yet a monthly member, you can register now and you, too, will receive Judy’s refreshing wisdom and inspiration.)

She has been a wonderful supporter of Women on Fire and this week she  launches her first movie, based on her book Tiger Eyes, in theaters on June 7.

Well, here we go … in to the world of Women on Fire!

Sophfronia Scott at Harvard

Sophfronia Scott of Sandy Hook, Connecticut celebrated her 25th college reunion at Harvard University this past week. (Doesn’t she look fabulous in that hat?!)

In addition to being highlighted as a published author, she attended the 362nd Harvard graduation ceremony where Oprah gave the commencement address.

I know a number of you tuned in (where we had the thrill of seeing Sophfronia on Live Stream often during Oprah’s talk!).  If you missed Oprah’s speech, I highly recommend it and you can see it here.

Sophronia signing copies of her novel  All I Need To Get By at the Harvard Coop

Oprah shared many gems with the audience including “there is no such thing as failure. Failure is just life trying to move us in another direction.”

A view of Tandi Phillips Musuraca’s new style blog ~ File Me Under Fabulous

Tandi Phillips Musuraca of Columbus, Ohio has launched her own style and personal shopper blog called File Me Under Fabulous. Many of you may know Tandi from our 2012 trip to Paris or from last fall’s retreat in Chicago where she effortlessly coordinated our fabulous event.

She is always so stylish, and I encourage you to follow her blog for the latest in styles and trends and you will see her embrace her passion full force!

The beautiful Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Massachusetts

Want a spa getaway and an experience that will touch your heart and set you on your path?
Ellyn Spragins, of Pennington, New Jersey, the celebrated author of the inspiring book series Letters To My Younger Self, will host a special retreat in October 2013 at the exquisite luxury spa Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Massachusetts.
Ellyn is designing the four-day, three-night retreat especially for busy entrepreneurial women.  You can learn more here.
Isabel Draughton of Columbus, Ohio graduated from Ohio Dominican University with a degree in Business Administration.  Isabel co-founded VizX Design Studios LLC, which is a leading outdoor living and home improvement 3D design company.

Isabel cut her college career short when she became pregnant many years ago, but always knew she would return. Her children gave her the inspiration to finish, and now she’s accomplished her dream!  Congratulations, Isabel!

Tracy with her business partner Eddie Pauline

Tracy Stuck of Columbus recently celebrated a large-scale project she conceptualized and launched. With her business partner Eddie Pauline, she started the Buckeye Leadership Fellows program at The Ohio State University this past fall, and had the great pleasure of graduating its first set of students.

I love when I see women inspiring and igniting the generations to come. Bravo, Tracy!

Jenn Bassett has recently launched her own marketing consulting business and is making a cross-country move from Oregon to Key West in the next couple  of months.  Check out Bassett Professional Consulting Services here.

The second children’s book from Karen Philippin Kilpatrick

Karen Philippin Kilpatrick of Parkland, Florida, has published her second children’s book!  Ella’s Toys is a part of the Pumpkinheads Series, and follows her first book, Carmin Cares, that won a Mom’s Choice Award Gold.
Karen spoke of her dream to write children’s books at her first Women On Fire tea in Naples, Florida two years ago and it is thrilling to see her dream come to life!
Suzanne Beachy of Columbus, has been recently published in Pyschology Today. The article about the the danger of therapists establishing a diagnosis prematurely can be found here.  Equally as engaging, here is another piece of Suzanne’s work here.
Cheryl Paulsen and Rosemary Nickel “bumped” into each other!
What are the chances of this happening?!
Cheryl Paulsen of Saratoga Springs, New York and Rosemary Nickel of Tampa had never met but recognized each other as Women on Fire when they bumped into each other in Orlando, Florida.
And, so they went to lunch! How fun is that?
Congratulations to each one of you moving toward your dreams. Keep sending us your news so we can shine the light on you!

*This week’s Spark PINspiration*  

Pin to Pass on the Love!

Find your light and learn how to SHINE- womenonfire and debbiephillips.com