Hanging with the Big O!

It’s official.  Summer’s over.

No matter how many years you’ve been out of school, doesn’t it feel like you should have new shoes, clothes, a fresh notebook, and a pep talk to start anew? 🙂

*This week’s Women on Fire Pinspiration*

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Get a fresh start this Fall with Women on Fire. Get Inspiration, Strategies, and Support in your inbox and mailbox all year long! www.womenonfire.com

I’d love to hear how you are starting off your fall. And, I hope you had a great holiday weekend. We spent ours hosting a wedding!

Photo by Rob Berkley

Our wonderful friend and colleague (of course, a Woman on Fire!) Regina Blos married her sweetheart Romildo in our living room.

There was lots of extra excitement and joy here on Martha’s Vineyard — and  Wilber wore his finest for the occasion. (Even though it looks like he had a little too much Champagne!)

Photo by Rob Berkley

These last few days of summer also were some of my best days of the year and I’m eager to share with you all I learned.

Woman on Fire Jodi Salata invited me to attend two tapings last week of Oprah’s Life Class with Dr. Brené Brown at Harpo Studios in Chicago.

On the set with Brené and Oprah

(If you aren’t yet familiar with Brené, be sure to check out one of her TED talks, especially the video on vulnerability that has been viewed by nearly 11 million people. Her newest book Daring Greatly also was named our Book To Live By in July.)

After the tapings, Jodi’s incredible sister-in-law and my sweet friend Sheri Salata, the president of Oprah Winfrey Network and Oprah’s Harpo Productions, made sure that we were invited to meet with Oprah and Brené informally in Oprah’s “living room” (complete with a roaring fireplace!)

On our way to Oprah’s “living room” inside Harpo studios in Chicago

Not only were the Life Classes with Brene filled with great inspiration and strategies to live your best life but to be behind-the-scenes at Oprah’s, to be in her surroundings, and to watch her work and have fun were as equally rewarding!

Because there is so much to tell you, I have decided to write a three-part series My Visit To Oprah’s, which will start tomorrow.

On the first day of the series, I’ll share what it was like to meet Oprah 27 years ago when she was promoting the national launch of her talk show and hardly anyone had ever heard of her — and what it was like to meet up with her today.

Has she changed? I’ll tell you tomorrow!

On Day 2, you’ll meet Brene Brown and I’ll share what I learned from her and what she was like to meet in person.

Definitely two Women on Fire!

She’s famous for her academic research that proves “vulnerability is absolutely essential to whole-hearted living. ” And, she packed her lessons during Life Class with brilliant nuggets such as this:

“You can’t do anything brave if you’re wearing the strait-jacket of what will people think.”

On the third and final day of the series, I’ll tell you what the people, offices and atmosphere were like at Harpo. And I’m happy to answer any of your questions about the Oprah experience.  Already I’ve received a number of questions so feel free to email me yours.

Here’s a preview of answers to questions so far:

No, I didn’t cry or surprisingly even feel nervous when I met Oprah. Yes, we talked about The Butler (the #1 movie in the country for the third week in a row.) You won’t believe which scene she re-enacted for me!

Mostly though, I can’t wait for you to see the Life Classes shows with Oprah and Brene for yourself.  They were uplifting and ones that every Woman on Fire will learn and gain valuable insight from.

They are scheduled to air on OWN Network on September 22 and 29.  And there are special Women on Fire appearances that you won’t want to miss! 😉

So, I hope you will treat yourself to whatever inspires you to start fresh as we head into September.  What do you want to accomplish between now and December 31?

Have you taken a look at your goals lately?  Maybe now is a good time to celebrate them, or update them, or decide the next steps for them.

We’re here to support you!  And, as Oprah would say, “how will you live your best life?”

See you tomorrow and happy, happy end-of-summer!

Links That Light Us Up

11th Edition

Hello, Woman on Fire!

What a week it’s been for our Women on Fire® team. (If we haven’t told you, we work together virtually with teammates in Los Angeles, Huntsville, Alabama, Columbus, Ohio, York, Pennsylvania, Phoenix and on Martha’s Vineyard.)

While we worked away this week on some very exciting events and plans for you this fall and next year, Debbie was in Chicago on Monday hanging out with Oprah and Dr. Brene Brown!! (Yes, she was:-) …and you’ll hear all about it on Sunday in The SPARK!)

In the meantime, give yourself a quick break and check out this week’s inspiring links that we think you’re gonna love:

Best Fur Ball- Have you met Lil Bub yet? If not, we’re happy to introduce you. Not only is he the cutest cat (other than Debbie’s  Wilber, of course) but he’s raised over $60,000 for animal charities. Talk about a cat worth his Fancy Feast!

The Many Faces of Lil Bub via lilbub.comLilBub.com

Best News For Book Lovers- Calling all J.D. Salinger fans…word on the street is that two of his unpublished manuscripts are set for release in 2014. Also, this new movie might peak your interest.

The Catcher In The Rye by JD Salinger

Best Breakfast- What’s better than coffee and pancakes for breakfast? How about coffee-flavored pancakes? Jenna from Eat Live Run whipped up these delicious beauties, and we think you might want to too! (Jenna’s book is amazing too. Check it out here.)

Coffee Pancakes from Eat Live RunEatLiveRun.com

Best Discussion- Did you change your name when you got married? Would you change your name? Do you wish you never had changed your name? Check out this thoughtful piece in The New York Times by Pamela Paul on the topic of changing your name.

The Problem That Has Two Names by Pamela Paul- image via Jeanne DetallanteJeanne Detallante

Best Housewarming Gifts- Know somebody who has just moved in? Or are you looking for something fun for your home? Buzzfeed curated a great list of  17 creative housewarming gifts that people actually want.

Best Housewarming Gifts Via Buzzfeed- image via Taylor Crafts HandmadeTaylorCraftsEngraved

Best Look Book- In celebration of Vogue’s September issue, editor-in-chief Anna Wintour debuted in her first “voguestagram.” Also, if you haven’t watched the documentary The September Issue about what it takes to publish Vogue’s biggest issue of the year, we highly recommend. If you remember Ms. Wintour only as the subject of the book and movie The Devil Wears Prada, you’re in for a surprise!

Anna Wintour in her first Voguestagram via @voguemagazine@voguemagazine @taylorjewell

Best Documentary- We are on a total clothes kick with the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week around the corner and no one has documented fashion more powerfully than The New York Times’s 84-year-old, bicycle-riding photographer Bill Cunningham. One of the most celebrated fashion photographers in the world, his story is deeply heartfelt and highly entertaining. (Maybe he’ll photograph our very own talented fashion designer Nellie Partow, and her upcoming Fashion Week debut!)

Bill Cunningham New York

Best Interview- We are on Dr. Brené Brown overload and LOVING it!!! Hop on the train with this amazing article she’s featured in in The Huffington Post about the importance of authenticity. Read it, share it, practice it 🙂  We are doing our best to!

Brené Brown Interview via Huffington Post image via Origin MagazineOrigin Magazine


The Women on Fire Team

p.s. Did you see last week’s links?

July Book of the Month


This month’s Books To Live By choice highlights our July theme — Following Your Dreams!

Women on Fire’s July 2013 choice is:

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms The Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead by Brené Brown

Many of you are already familiar with Brené Brown from her insightful TED talks on vulnerability and shame, or her recent appearance on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday.

But for those of you who are hearing about her for the first time, Brené is a powerful writer and speaker with sharp insight and wit. She is the author of  six books.

Daring Greatly is her latest and my new personal favorite of hers.  In it, she helps us to understand and recognize the power of vulnerability, and how true whole-hearted living is derived from worthiness.

Brené walks you through her own journey of opening up and maps out easy to follow strategies for how to let your guard down. She helps you come to realize that only through breaking down our barriers are we able to soar above our expectations and allow ourselves to be worthy of the success we desire.

So it’s easy to see why she’s a Woman on Fire, right!? I was so enthralled after reading this that I couldn’t wait to share with you.

I urge you to consider ordering  Daring Greatly and any of her other titles— or two of each to share with another woman in your life.  Acting on her powerful messages is a sure way to move toward the dreams in your life!

I’ll let Brené have the final word:

What we know matters, but who we are matters more. Being rather than knowing requires showing up and letting ourselves be seen. It requires us to dare greatly, to be vulnerable.”

Enjoy and as always, let me know if you’ve read and what you think!

The secret ingredient

I am on my way to California to attend a women’s conference that I will tell you all about next week.

Before I go, I want to show you a picture that delights me — of radiant smiles after a Women on Fire tea party.  Thank you, Renata Ramsini, for capturing the women at last week’s tea in Columbus led by Jan Allen. Today, I’ll tell you the secret ingredient that makes these gatherings so very wonderful and powerful.

Women on Fire Tea last week in Columbus — Front row: Erin Brewer, Kris Myers, Jan Allen, Mary Kay Purdy, Nanci Larsen, Phoebe Lapine. Second row: Jane Juergens, Lisa Everson, Sara Diehl, Laura Benton, Julie Quackenbush, Jessika Ferm, Mary Duafala, Pam Allen, Roxanne Crocco, Michele Hoyle, Julia McLemore.

Women tell me all the time they are surprised by what happens at a tea and how connected they often feel.

Maybe they’ve said something out loud they’ve never voiced before.  Or, maybe they sat next to someone they’d never met, but shared so much in common that they were sure I sat them next to each other on purpose!

What I know for sure is when women get the chance to connect in a safe and inspiring environment, magic happens.

How often does that happen in your life?  How often do you connect with people who make you feel good to be alive?

When we can vulnerably and authentically share what is on our minds and in our hearts, we feel connected. And, when we feel connected, we feel worthy of our dreams.

Radio talk show host Janette Barber, who has attended at least a million Women on Fire teas in New York City, frequently says, “the tea party always works.”

What she means is that no matter the city and no matter the women who attend, being able to be ourselves, to share what is authentic and vulnerable, and to feel connected “always works!”

Research shows that when we experience feelings of connection and belonging, it gives purpose and meaning to our lives.  So, that’s why I think there are big smiles and much happiness after a Women on Fire gathering!

Some of you may know the work of researcher and story-teller Brene Brown.  (She is both brilliant and adorable, I might add!)

If not, I hope you will take some time to check out her inspiring talk at TEDx.

She and her research suggest that “to let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen … to love with our whole hearts even though there is no guarantee … to practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror … to feel this vulnerable means I am alive.

“When we work from this place, we stop screaming and start listening and we are kinder and gentler to the people around us and we are kinder and gentler to ourselves.”

This is why I love our teas and every single occasion where Women on Fire connect and we so often share what is vulnerable.

Dr. Brown inspires us further that “vulnerability is the birthplace of joy, of love, of belonging, of creativity, of faith and so it becomes very problematic when, as a culture, we lose our capacity to be vulnerable.”

Even though it may feel scary to tell another person our heart’s deepest longings, our fears, our insecurities, doing so is the very thing that will connect us and allow others to support us.

It is why I always encourage you to reach out and gather support before you embark on your journey.

And, vulnerability is the secret ingredient of why you feel so very good inside when you have shared your heart safely with someone who receives you.

Talk to you next week from sunny San Diego!

Have a wonderful week and let me know how you’re doing ~