May Book to Live By

“Women Who Spark After 50” by Aleta Norris

Do you find yourself lamenting your unrealized dreams? Are you experiencing burnout or boredom from a lifelong career?

Bestselling author and coach Aleta Norris knew she needed to reinvent something in her life. So, that’s exactly what she did. In this book, she asks the right questions to get you ready for an amazing second half. Through checklists and exercises, Aleta provides a roadmap to put your dream first after years of taking care of others.

Do you pinch yourself off?

In the first two decades of my varied career – as a newspaper reporter, Governor’s press secretary and television company executive – I operated in public but never really stood alone with my own desires, views and opinions.

After I became a coach in 1995, an awareness crept upon me.

If I didn’t stand up publicly for what I truly believed in, no matter how much I talked about it behind the scenes, I would never be able to fulfill my own burning desire to help enough women to live lives they dream of.

By standing in the shadows, and feeling more comfortable being the voice for someone else or staying silent about my beliefs, I had essentially pinched myself off from my big dream.

When I look back now, I kept quiet to stay safe and free of criticism. I did this even with my favorite Eleanor Roosevelt quote posted on my desk:

Do what you feel in your heart to be right — for you’ll be criticized anyway.

Today, over and over I observe the ways, big and small, women pinch themselves off from what they say they want.

So today, I invite you to look at yourself to see if any of these questions applies to you; and decide if you are closing yourself off from the abundance that is naturally flowing to you.

You may discover that you are limiting yourself without realizing it.

1) Do you put yourself and your needs last?
For instance, are your college daughter’s soccer games more important to attend than going back to college to get that degree you’ve promised yourself?

Do you put off your dreams until your husband, partner, kids get situated, graduate from school, find jobs, etc.?

Are you always there for your friends or family yet burn with resentment that you have not made progress on what you most want?

Our culture mistakenly has labeled us “selfish” when we put ourselves first. But what might happen if you didn’t put yourself last?

2) Do you feel unworthy or undeserving of your greatest dreams and desires?

I spent last week in the company of author and motivating force Esther Hicks of Abraham-Hicks, author of 10 books including Ask and It Is Given: Learning To Manifest Your Desires. Esther captured the notion of feeling “unworthy” better than anyone.

“Unworthy people are people with plenty of negative emotions and they are willing to put up with them,” she said.

We all know that you get what you believe and what you are focused on. So when your self-talk and beliefs are negative, it sets off a chain that conspires against creating your own success.

“Care more about what you feel at the earliest stage and don’t let yourself collapse toward the negative emotion,” she advises.

3) Do you march up to the line with your dream or goal and then pull back?

Fear will stop you in your tracks.

(And, just so you won’t think I’m perfect 😉 …
It took me years, step-by-step, day-in-and-day-out through every scary fear that showed up to follow my heart and to live my dream.  And it was worth every gremlin☺ )

The good news is that you are a Woman on Fire! And there is no better community in the world to surround you with the inspiration, strategies and support to keep you going and help you push through your fear.

If you are a monthly member, you have the private Facebook page where support is unparalleled! And you also have the Women on Fire fan page with more than 65,000 women to cheer you on.

Fear, and fear of failure in particular, keeps many women from even trying.

4) Do you ignore the need to invest in yourself?

Does your money trickle away and leave you with nothing to show for it?

Whether you budget $30, $300, $3,000 or $30,000 a year for your personal and professional growth, investing in yourself is key to your success.

You must expand your competency and relevancy by bolstering your skills, abilities and awarenesses throughout your life!  When was the last time you invested in yourself?  What did you do — and what was the result?

5) Do you avoid making a plan to get where you want to go?

Studies show that people who write down their goals and plans have a significantly greater chance of being successful than those who don’t.

What are you waiting for? Even a simple journal entry with your annual plan and goals will keep you focused and on track.

Knowing what you want can keep you from missing opportunities that will support your dreams.

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, you are likely pinching yourself off, holding your back from sharing your great gifts with the world.

What might happen if you became aware the very next time that you were holding yourself back – and moved forward anyway?

Here’s to your success.  I know once you’re aware of how you pinch yourself off, you can do anything!


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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!


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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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Dreams that come true!

Five days and counting until the Women on Fire retreat! Next week at this time Women on Fire from 25 states will have come together in Naples, Florida for our annual gathering.  With as strong of an online and virtual community as we have, why is important to meet in person?

*This week’s Pinspiration*

*Pin to Share the Love*

Inspiration from Women on Fire-

I’ll tell you!  But first…

Beautiful bride Lara Licharowicz (Photo by Holly Getty)

It is my joy to highlight a beloved Woman on Fire member whose dream for a partner in life came true over the weekend.  Lara Licharowicz, the enormously talented founder of The Lara Touch, married Joe Riggio on February 22 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.

How gorgeous is this of the newlywed couple after the service? There was much fun all around with several Women on Fire sisters in attendance. Best wishes to you, Lara and Joe!

Women on Fire celebrating with the bride: Holly Getty, JoAnn Gwynn, Terri Cole

Speaking of dreams that come true, getting together in person with other Women on Fire is always one of mine!  The retreat coming up this week is the fifth one we’ve held since I started Women on Fire a decade ago to bring women together to uplift each other.

And while most of the time we at Women on Fire stay connected virtually through Facebook, email and the blog, studies show there are benefits to meeting in person.  (Take note if you work in a company that is virtual!)

In the busyness of life, it’s a challenge to get a 100 women together in one place!  And it is a credit to each attendee for investing in herself to take this time for herself.

Studies show that you can build relationships virtually but it takes longer. Meeting in person inspires trust, positive emotions, and it builds relationships. There’s even proof that meeting in person is healthy! Connecting with other people in real-time, real-life releases oxytocin (the feel-good hormone). And who doesn’t need a little dose of that on occasion?

While you may not be able to join us in person this year, please know you will be with us in Naples. Please follow along on Facebook — on the Women on Fire group page —  or if you are a monthly member on the private Women on Fire page.  Also, on Twitter at #wofretreat2014

If you are headed to the retreat …

Safe travels — whether across the country or across town — and I can’t wait to give you a big hug!

Have a wonderful week, everybody ~


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Who said you can’t make a career of paper dolls?

I learn all the good stuff I know from other Women on Fire.

Lunch with wise Women on Fire — Anne Gallagher and Olga Hirschhorn

A couple of weeks ago I was having lunch with the amazing and irrepressible art maven Olga Hirschhorn.  She was bubbling over with enthusiasm about an art exhibit she’d just seen that featured elaborate clothing made of paper.

Olga is 93 and one of the wise women in my life. So I always listen to her, and mentally made note to go see what I imagined as a “paper doll” exhibit by artist Isabelle de Borchgrave.

*This week’s Pinspiration*

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Strategies to help you follow your dreams-

Of course, I kept meaning to go but life got busy. Then another Women on Fire member Debbie Cook brought the exhibit’s brochure to breakfast this weekend because she was so over-the-moon about the paper clothing.

I immediately hopped myself over the The Baker Museum in Naples, Florida and caught the exhibit on its last day.

And I’m glad I did because I so want you to see what Olga and Debbie were enthusiastic about — and now I am too.

(Of course, I know not to take pictures in a museum. But I ignored that because everyone else had their iPhones out; so yes, Mom, when everyone else jumps off the Brooklyn Bridge, I do too!)

Mostly though, I eagerly shot photos because I wanted you to see this incredible work of art.  Dozens of intricate, elaborate, historic costumes, shoes and handbags — sculpted of paper!!

But here’s really why I think you would love Isabelle de Borchgrave’s work.

In a brief video that accompanied the exhibit, the artist, 67, from Belgium described the passion she feels for her work.  It began with her first toy — a ball of paper.

Fascinated with paper, she spent her life cutting, painting, folding, molding, crimping, cropping paper.

When she became an adult, still in love with paper, she was roundly criticized that paper, paint, scissors a career did not make. And there was no way to make money from such “child’s play.”

And her comeback to all those negative Norberts who dissed career choice in paper?  “What they didn’t understand was that paper is a means of bringing dreams alive.”

And, oh, what beauty, history and dreams she has given life to!

In my euphoria of being surrounded by her work, I imagined myself wearing the exquisite paper clothing. I wanted to jump into her dresses and kimonos. I wanted to paint, cut and stencil!

I love that one woman’s dream could create a chain reaction for another woman’s  dreams.

What is the dream you want to bring alive?

Do you ever let other people step on your dreams — or do you do that yourself — because it “appears” to be impractical or impossible to make money?

As it had affected Olga and Debbie, I ended up dazzled and inspired by Isabelle de Borchgrave’s art — and empowered by how she ignored the naysayers and owned her dream.

We must take charge of our dreams. It’s the only way they can happen.

Here’s to what may seem impossible ~

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With inspiration, strategies and support, your dreams come true!

I feel so lazy today and I’m all wrapped up in my favorite, super soft Alpaca blanket. Do you have a go-to wrap or blanket to snuggle in with on an autumn afternoon? 😉

My body is lounging around but my heart and mind are still vibrating with energy and excitement from our Women on Fire teas in New York City last week.

I started these teas nine years ago as a way for women to connect in a meaningful way, to be cheered on, and receive support to live their lives and dreams.  Today’s a good day to reflect on what has transpired for some of you!

Attendees at one of last week’s Women on Fire teas in New York City. Front row: Sai Jimenez Fogarty, Lara Licharowicz, Shannon McCaffery, Tammy Gonroff, Janina Sebesky. Second row: Susan Perry, Terri Cole, Holly Getty, Meredith Schoenberger, Nancy Telliho, me, Jodi Graber, Carole Murko and Barbara Hogan.

It never matters whether it’s your first or your 15th tea! Each time your dreams and desires are celebrated and cherished — and then magic happens.

I like to think of Women on Fire teas as incubators — free from negativity and “germs” — where our hopes and dreams can grow and flourish in the loving, supportive caress of women who care.

*This week’s Pinspiration*

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Where are your big dreams going to take you today? #womenonfire

Here’s a recent sampling of three Women on Fire tea attendees and the status of her dreams:

Nancy Kramer of Columbus, Ohio told her Women on Fire sisters at a tea in Columbus in 2006 that she wished feminine products were made available in public bathrooms in the same way that toilet paper and seat covers are. Last week she turned her dream into reality by launching a national movement — — with a TEDx talk and website. You can like her Facebook page and view a 15-minute video of her speech here.  Congratulations, Nancy!

Celebrating Sai Jimenez Fogarty at last Friday’s tea!

Sai Jimenez Fogarty of Bronx, New York often shared her dream at teas that,  as a single mother, she wished to be in a relationship with a man who would be good to her son and and with whom she could create a wonderful family life. Last year Sai married Tommy who loves her 16-year-old son and they are just about to become the proud parents of Patrick, arriving any day now!  She credits her Women on Fire sisters for supporting her dreams throughout.

With Lara Licharowicz and her lucky purple ribbon that symbolizes her work on her dreams!

Lara Licharowicz of New York City came to her first Women on Fire tea a few years ago and was looking for space to launch her business The Lara Touch. She also wanted to share her life with someone special. Today, Lara, attender of many teas and our annual retreat, has a thriving practice and is celebrated for the peace and beauty of the space where she does her energy treatments and classes.

Oh, and one more piece of joyous news: Lara will marry Joe on February 22, 2014!

And, what might be in store for women who’ve just attended her very first tea …

Abby West at her first tea pictured with me, Holly Getty and Sophfronia Scott.

Abby West of New Rochelle, New York, came to her first tea last Thursday.  She recently was promoted to Executive Editor of Essence Magazine’s  Where will she be at her next tea? What dream will she have gone after and accomplished?

And Carole Murko of Stockbridge, Massachusetts who drove three hours each way and came with her friend Nancy Teliho to attend their first tea last Friday.

With Nancy Teliho and Carole Murko at their first tea!

Carole told us about her inspiring business that she’d wishes to expand into the world — Heirloom Meals. Her mission is to preserve treasured family recipes and our ancestors’ tried-and-true meals and dining traditions.

How fabulous is that? Now that she is safe inside our circle of members, what amazing things are about to happen for her?

With inspiring Feng Shui expert Tammy Gonroff!

And first-time tea attendee, Tammy Gonroff of Florida, New York.

She recently received Feng Shui training from international expert R.D. Chin and her certification. What new and wondrous adventures await her now that she is a part of Women on Fire teas?

One thing we know for sure. We can speak hopes and dreams into existence when we are surrounded with others who care and cheer us on.  Of course, just coming to a tea won’t transform your life on its own.  But why not stack the odds in your favor? 😉

No matter whether you are, as so many Women on Fire find themselves, caring simultaneously for children and for parents who’ve become ill or incapacitated, your sparks and dreams are still with you.

And so are we.  You can always come to this place — online at or in person at a retreat or tea and receive the inspiration, strategies and support you need to make your heart’s desires come true!

We are with you every step of the way!!

Please let me know what dreams you are incubating.

Key to your success?

Women on Fire held its first gathering in New York City exactly 10 years ago this month. The feeling in the room that night was magical when everyone shared what they were “on fire” about, others listened and then cheered them on.

Have you told someone –or many someones — your greatest dreams and passions, had them really listen to you, and then celebrate you? It’s the best feeling ever!

Support for your dreams and goals is as elemental to your success as sunshine is to earth’s survival.

*This week’s Pinspiration*

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Surround yourself with those that lift you higher- Women on Fire

Since that first Women on Fire gathering in 2003, thousands of women — — no matter whether we were in a tea room or a ballroom — have participated in Women on Fire events and been inspired from the love and support given and received when they share their highest hopes.

What a joy to return to my alma mater Ohio State to conduct a Women on Fire Day with juniors, seniors, staff and mentors cheering each other on.

Most recently at The Ohio State University in Columbus, nearly 100 women participated in a Women on Fire Day to learn just how good it feels — and important it is — to share your truth and dreams and receive support for it.

And the women that day were additionally supported by seasoned Women on Fire who served as panelists: Mary Kay Purdy, Gail Forest, Liz Lessner and Nancy Kramer.

A co-author in our upcoming Women on Fire book, Mary Kay Purdy shares her life lessons and encouragement with Ohio State students.

These experienced, successful and generous women told their ups and downs over their long careers. They shared from their hearts to benefit Ohio State’s young women and to inspire and support them as they embark on their own journeys in the world.

In the center, Tracy Stuck, a Women on Fire member and Ohio State’s assistant vice president for Student Life, is an amazing mentor and supporter of many young men’s and women’s careers and lives.

Where are you right now in receiving enough support to see your dreams through? Who is there for you?

And, equally important …

How are you doing in cheering on other women with their goals? Do you?

One of the reasons women tell me they often don’t share their enthusiasm for their dreams — or even speak them out loud — is because they are teased, criticized, ridiculed, met with blank stares or jealousy.

There is no light of day for dreams kept under a bushel basket!

So, how can we become better cheerleaders of our own dreams and other women’s dreams, too?

Receiving and giving support is a balance like a teeter totter.  Sometimes you give more, and other times you receive more, but the give and take of support  provides just the lift you need to make your own endeavors successful.

Here I am with Women on Fire member Gail Forest of Atlanta, a role model for Ohio State students with her down-to-earth discussion of her own success and longing for dreams to come!

So this week, make a list of what you need support for and who might be able to help you.  And, on another list, think of one woman in your life you’d like to give some support to.  It may be as simple as sending her an email, connecting or referring someone to her who could help her, giving her some praise on Facebook.

You never know what your “you go, girl” might do for her!

Which list is easier for you? 🙂 Many women (me included!) say it’s much easier to help someone else rather than to ask for support for themselves.

Awareness, it is said, is 90% of the problem solved.  So now that we are all aware of the role support plays in our success, let’s climb onto that teeter totter and create some balance of support!

A huge shout-out and my personal thanks to Ohio State student and photographer Katie Riccardella for all of the photos today! Especially the one above which captured the joy I felt during Women on Fire Day at Ohio State.  If photography is your big dream, Katie, you are already rocking it!

Have a phenomenal week.  I’ll see you later this week with our latest Book To Live By for October and a brand-new She’s A Woman on Fire! feature. I can hardly wait to share with you.