Honoring our many “fathers”

Happy Father’s Day to all men celebrating their very first Father’s Day – or their 20th or their 50th!

Many of us have lost our fathers — or don’t have a relationship with a Dad that calls for celebration — so today can be mixed with longing and sadness.

On this Father’s Day, I am thinking about the men in our lives who’ve cheered us on and made us better women.  Even if you’re not sure, or don’t feel supported by men, I invite you to think back over your life to men who’ve been kind, helpful, inspiring or empowering.  Men who’ve helped you along on your path.

The last photo I ever took of my Dad solo. He died a few weeks later during surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm. I was greatly influenced by his integrity, work ethic, and positive attitude and then blessed further to inherit his gene for very few gray hairs!

My father died nine years ago at 72 and was a lifelong source of inspiration and positive regard who never, ever limited my possibilities.  He was a self-made man whose example of hanging in there through one hard time after another still informs my life each and every day when I face my own challenges.

He always encouraged me to stay positive, dream big, and be all that I could be in the world.

“If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing well” was his mantra!

I marvel at his vision for me, because he didn’t have that kind of support from his parents nor did he have the financial means to make a big vision an easy accomplishment.

So, on this Father’s Day, I want honor the men in my life and yours who have been there for us.

*This week’s Pinspiration*

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[pinit]Celebrating the Men in our lives over at debbiephillips.com- Women On Fire

Maybe it was a fun uncle who taught you how to eat peanut butter from a jar with a spoon! Or, an older brother who helped you with your homework.  Or a boss who respected your opinions and competence – and helped you to build your self-confidence.

Which male friend, brother, father, son, uncle, nephew, teacher, boss, neighbor, godfather, grandfather – helped to “father” you to become the amazing woman you are today?

To explore, consider answering each one of these 10 questions with the name of at least one man in your life who:

  1. Helped you to expand your thinking and competence?
  2. Believed in you?
  3. Inspired you to believe in yourself?
  4. Showed you how worthy you are?
  5. Was kind and caring?
  6. Made you laugh yourself silly?
  7. Comforted you through tough times?
  8. Instilled in you values you’re proud of?
  9. Taught you life or professional skills?
  10. Made a difference in your life?

After completing this list, you might ask yourself:

What did I learn from this exercise?

Is there anything that surprised me?

Is there a “father” I’d like to thank for his part in who I am today?

In completing it myself, I was surprised by the large number of men I’ve felt support from – and some I hadn’t thought about in a long time but their influence remains!

And, finally, I’d like to honor the dozens of men who read The Spark! each week.

When I started this weekly newsletter nearly four years ago for women, I assumed only women would be interested.  Au contraire!

Nearly every week I receive feedback from at least one of our male readers – and it is almost always heartfelt and encouraging.

So, I asked some of our men to share their thoughts about being part of the Women on Fire community.

The first is from my dear friend Father Edward Beck of Pelham, New York, who you may see on CNN where he covers faith and religion:

“In my life, community is a necessary asset. With Women on Fire, Debbie has given life to a community of women who support — and yes, love one another, even if, at times, from afar. I’m jealous.

“As a man who reads The Spark, I’m encouraged to incorporate some of the wonderful gifts of women into a man’s world that sometimes can seem less than empowering. Thanks for reminding us men how it’s supposed to be done.”

And this from Bob Campana, a businessman and entrepreneur from Lorain, Ohio:

“The advice and inspiration shared via The Spark! charges my batteries every time I read it.  We share a common goal in aspiring to achieve our potential and the Women on Fire newsletter offers us that little something special to move us closer.  I wish there was a Men on Fire newsletter, but I am thrilled to have the opportunity to be inspired by your newsletter.”

And, from reader Dan Mulhern, the former First Gentleman of Michigan, who is now an award-winning professor teaching leadership at the University of California at Berkeley.

He has been a champion of Women on Fire from the beginning.  Dan is one of those angels standing over us whispering ‘grow, grow, grow.’  And, always is wanting to help us along our path, including recently introducing Maria Shriver to Women on Fire.  “Two great women doing great things need to know each other,” he wrote in making the introduction.

Thank you to the men who have fathered us.  Thank you, Edward, Bob and Dan – and all of the men we join forces with in making this a better world.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and hope you will share them on our blog.

Have a wonderful week. I’m off to New York City where I will see many of you at the Women on Fire tea at Lady Mendl’s Tea Parlour next Friday. Yay!

“Live bold” and see what happens!

Such a sweet and bittersweet day today. Father’s Day.

Bittersweet for those of us whose fathers have died or from whom we are estranged.  Since my precious Dad’s death in 2004, I notice I still turn on my heels any time I stumble upon the “Father’s Day card” display.

It hurts that he’s gone even though I can always feel him “up there” helping me!

This was the last photo I ever took of my father, only weeks before his sudden death, playing with my nephew Tyler. My entrepreneurial Dad turned this box into a toy and stuck his grandson in it for much merry-making!

But it is sweet to celebrate all those wonderful Dads out there today and I know so many extraordinary ones.

And, to see all of the lovely tributes to Dads, living or not, on Facebook.

One in particular — written by Women in Fire member Kay Raypholtz of Pioneer, Ohio — I wanted to share with you for its love and honesty.

To capture the full picture — not a sugar-coating — of a loved one who has died is a powerful way to learn and truly honor them.  Kay has done that beautifully with Life on the Edge: Tribute to my Father.

We also have several Father’s Day birthdays today: Kitty Munger and Jody Poth, both of Columbus, Ohio; and Maureen Hanlon Wheeler, of Burlington, Vermont.  If yours is also today, please forgive me and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

OK, so here we go …

The day Misty gave me my cherished “LIVE BOLD” t-shirt!

The picture above is a favorite of mine, taken last fall in Austin, Texas with Woman on Fire Misty Gibbs.  I love meeting Women on Fire wherever I go!

Misty has enjoyed success locally in Texas with her Empower Lounge.  And, she has been feverishly working on a concept and funding for a national Empower Lounge that would expand online support for women everywhere.

She is my kind of woman!  She is determined to make it happen and continuously works away on this enormous project.

Years ago when I attended Ohio State University, its famous, feisty football coach Woody Hayes repeatedly reminded us students: “nothing that comes easy is worth a dime” — or “worth a damn,” depending on his audience!

I know so many of you are stepping up and working toward your dreams, too — and it’s a lot of work.  And, it’s not easy.

That’s why we’re here together.  To remind each other to be bold … to keep going … to take steps that are powerful, out-of-the-ordinary, maybe even a little crazy!

As our friend Stedman Graham told us when he spoke at our Women on Fire Retreat a couple of years ago: “you are not in the 98% of the people getting up, going to work, coming home, watching TV, going to bed. You are in the 2% making a difference in the world and sometimes you gotta be bold!”

And, it was Goethe who said: “Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.”

So how do we be bold?  What does it mean to live boldly?

Here are 5 strategies you might use to find your way to being more bold:

1) Ask yourself what you wish you had the nerve to do even though it feels too big. Then, get a plan together and some support — and do it!

2) Pretend you are an actress and imagine how she would play you in all your fullness and success.

3) Who is the wisest person you know? Invite him or her to lunch and ask for help, advice and counsel.

4) Take risks. Loosen up about making mistakes. (As long as it doesn’t put your family in major jeopardy.) Learn from your mistakes and you’ll move further faster.

5) Make an unconventional move. When I began my coaching practice in 1995, I worked with all of my clients in person. Thomas Leonard, the founder of CoachU and modern-day coaching, told me “you can never have a sustainable business if you coach everyone in person.”

I thought he was nuts. I was scared, but I decided to test it. I lost one client. I gained many more and built a super successful, thriving practice coaching over the telephone and it sustained me for years. At the time, a bold and unconventional move that paid off!

So, I hope you are inspired to try something bold this week.  And, I hope you will let me know how it works out for you!

Wishing you a week of bold steps ~