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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If you had no fear, what is possible for you?

A huge Women on Fire welcome to hundreds of new readers who’ve joined the Spark! after I met you at the Thirty-One Gifts national conferences.

In the past two weeks, I spoke to thousands of women at arenas in Denver and Columbus, Ohio about how to create and build a strong, loving, supportive community that serves you throughout your life, similar to what we have at Women on Fire.

My dream has always been to provide as many women as possible with inspiration, strategies and support so we can all have our dreams.

Photos at Thirty-One Gifts conferences in Denver and Columbus by Meredith Schoenberger

Speaking to large groups is one of the best ways to share what you’ve learned in order to benefit many others.

But for me to present in front of large groups, I had to overcome one major obstacle:  a phobia to speak in public!

Some of you will find that hard to believe — and my mother, in particular, because I spoke my first word at five months and according to those who love me, I’ve never stopped talking!

Years ago as a press secretary, I spoke on behalf of public officials and could easily and fluidly speak in public.  Then suddenly, out of nowhere, a fear blanketed me, causing me to panic to talk with more than a handful of people at a time.

(I always wondered and thought it curious that my phobia started around the time I went from talking for others to standing on my own and speaking my own beliefs?)

I want to tell you how I overcame this debilitating phobia in case you face any similar kind of fear that prevents you from sharing your gifts with the world and living life full out.

But first I want to introduce you to the dynamic, inspiring woman who founded Thirty-One Gifts.  Cindy Monroe is a role model for us all in following her own dreams — to design beautiful, useful bags, totes and purses and provide women the opportunity to sell them and own their own businesses.

She started her dream in her basement in Chattanooga, Tennessee only 10 years ago, as a 29-year-old mom of two little kids.

Today, Thirty-One Gifts, now headquartered in Columbus, is the 17th largest direct-selling company in the world!

You will be hearing much more about Cindy, and directly from her in the future, when I interview her this fall for the Women on Fire monthly membership program.

Before I share how I overcame my fear to talk to thousands in an arena, I want to answer the number one question I was asked these past weeks.

How does it feel to walk on stage and go before thousands of women!?


Standing back stage in the darkness, preparing to slip through the curtain, I could feel the enorous energy from the massive crowd pulse up through my feet and into my body. The energy and music simply carried me on to the stage.

The minute I stepped into the bank of lights, I was riveted by the warmth and excitement from the audience. As Alicia Keys would say: I had my feet on the ground and my head in the clouds once I heard our theme song Girl On Fire being played. It was exhiliarating!

I could literally sense thousands of women’s good will and eagerness to listen and learn. A good thing to always remember: your audience wants you to succeed!

Grateful to have Women on Fire Andrea Dowding, Brit Eaton and Tandi Musuraca in the audience cheering me on!

And, no one was more surprised about my being comfortable on stage than me!

Only a few years ago, my mind would go blank if I had to speak to more than a few people. And, that led me to worry I would pass out …or worse, throw up. (It never happened, by the way, but it sure felt like it could.)

So, how did I overcome this fear and stand on stage before thousands?

Here are five key factors that helped me to go from fearful to fearless:

1) Having a purpose bigger and more powerful than your fear — I feel so passionate about Women on Fire and the community that we have created that my strong desire to help other women led me to burst through my fear.

Given the choice of caving in to my fear and forgoing my dream to share Women on Fire with thousands or facing my fear and working through it, I knew my choice!

The thought of women not having the encouragement and sisterhood they deserve —  because I was too scared to stand in front of them — was way worse for me than my fear.

Women on Fire book 2 co-author Carrie Saba spoke of this, too, in her chapter on  overcoming her fear of heights.  It was more important to be a role model and enjoy family activities with her daughters than to give in to her phobia of heights.

(Wait until you hear what Carrie did to overcome her fear! You can read all about it in her chapter “Scaling New Heights.”)

2) Practice, practice, practice – A few years ago, in the throes of my worst fears, my talented husband Rob Berkley hatched a plan for me. He took dozens of little yellow Post-Its, drew smiling faces on each one, and stuck them all over our 10-foot sliding glass doors.

They became my “audience!”  I gave my talks over and over to the happy, sticky Post-It people. I did this until what I had to say became a natural extension of who I was!

Whatever might scare you is often vanquished when you practice in a safe environment the behavior you wish to have instead.

3) Seeking professional help – To calm my nerves for one particular speech, I engaged a professional therapist who works with energy.

It was a remarkable and brief experience over the phone. The result was that I could  imagine the entire stage filled with generations of my ancestors with their hands on my shoulders in support.  After that, almost magically, I was never again afraid to speak to a crowd — even thousands.

If you are interested in this work, I am happy to share Dr. Dale Schusterman’s information and his work with Family Constellation therapy.

There are several forms of Emotional Freedom Techniques, often referred to as EFT, to explore to help remove blocks and fears. I highly recommend! There is no need to suffer.

4) Inch by inch – After learning to speak comfortably in front of a dozen people, I branched to 20. Then I spoke to 40, 80, 100, 250 and 350.  While speaking to thousands is only slightly different, because of the complexities and technical aspects of the stage, speaking in an arena for me now felt like a natural progression — with just a few more people;-)

We talk here often about taking one, small step at a time — over and over — to get to your dream. And that’s what happened for me. Over a decade, I approached public speaking from super scaredy-pants to absolutely loving it!

Celebrating back stage afterward in Columbus with my Women on Fire sisters whose love and support were invaluable: Brit Eaton, my best friend Jan Allen, me!, Kacy Cook, Tandi Musuraca and Andrea Dowding

5) Surrounding yourself with whatever support you need – The love, support and belief in me from my Women on Fire sister made the ultimate difference in being able to speak with ease, comfort and joy!

I simply put out a call for support on our private Women on Fire members’ page and instantaneously I was held up, encouraged and cheered on.  I could not have done it without my sisters.  I would not have wanted to do it without my sisters!  Thank you all so much for being there for me.

With you at my back, I knew I could fly!

Now that I’ve no longer allowed fear to control my life to publicly speak, I can’t even begin to tell you how many wonderful things have come to me.  Perhaps you are here and part of this amazing circle now because of you met me at a speaking engagement!

My hope for you is simple.  If you have any fear in your life right now that holds you back from having your dream, just know there isn’t anything together we can’t solve. Step-by-step. Strategy-by-strategy.

If you have an inspiring story like Carrie Saba’s about overcoming a fear, please share on below in the comments so we can all learn from you and celebrate your success.

Thank you for being part of this amazing, fearless community!

Much love,

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What dolphins taught me about fear

Do you like to snorkel?  Swim in the ocean?  Bob in the waves?

Even though my Cancer zodiac sign proclaims me a “water baby,” I get terribly nervous and scared swimming in the ocean.

While other people surf waves and stand up to the sea, I pathetically cling close to shore, bathing suit bottom filled with sand. My teeth chatter uncontrollably; my breath gets lost.

I just know I’m about to be sucked out into the middle of the ocean on a riptide or eaten by a school of starving fish.

Couple all that with the requirement to wear a bathing suit in public …  and well, ocean swimming is just not an experience I live for.

Until a couple of weeks ago when …

I was on vacation in Mexico with my husband Rob in Cancun.  We jumped into the dreamy blue Caribbean Sea — and I swam without an ounce of fear.  In the ocean.  Where I couldn’t touch bottom. With hundreds of fish fluttering about – and even  TOUCHING me!!

My newly acquired bravery in the water was due entirely to my two, fun-loving and inspiring companions…

I went swimming in the ocean with dolphins!  Friendly, fun, rubbery-to-touch dolphins.

And I wasn’t scared.  At all.

I had always wanted to swim with dolphins. It’s been on my bucket list for years.

So I’ve been thinking a lot about what made my typically terrified reaction so completely different in Cancun?

And is it something we can all apply to our lives when fear creeps in?

During my dolphin adventure, everything I had previously feared was still there – powerful saltwater current, fish brushing up against me, cold water taking my breath away.

The only thing different? There were dolphins.

I felt safe with my ocean buddies.  They were eager and curious.  Love and joy  emanated from them. Their energy told me I was OK.

A trainer in the water nearby taught us how to safely pet them, shake their hands, even kiss them!  We learned signals to call to them.

Instant love.

And fun. Of the 40 species of dolphins, they all love to play! There is even a young dolphin at Sea World in Orlando who invented a water bubble game that other adult dolphins have now adopted.

Dolphins, as I’m sure you know, are well-known for their complex communication system.  Like human fingerprints, each dolphin’s whistle is unique.

To actually experience how they team up and gently calibrate matching their speed (up to 20 miles an hour) to jointly pull me through the water above was astounding.

Rob loved playing with them, too!

There are more than 100 programs in the world that offer dolphin swims.  Many believe dolphins save people from drowning, aid fishermen in finding schools of fish, and, most amazingly, assist both children and adults in coping with cancer, depression, and physical disabilities.

There doesn’t appear to be any research that proves these things to be true. And there is much controversy about human and dolphin interactions.

What I know is that I learned something very valuable that day in the Caribbean Sea.

The next time fear stands in my way, I’ll remember what my dolphin friends showed me.

I need only to join forces for safety and fun, learn a few skills, give kisses, dip and dive, splash about — and go for it!

Fearless in the ocean with my dolphin pals pushing me from behind!

Have an amazing week. And be sure to share any dolphin adventures you’ve enjoyed on our blog.  I’d love to hear!

*This week’s Spark PINspiration*  

Pin to Pass on the Love!

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Adios, Fear! Time to send it packing.

Hello again from Lake Austin Spa Resort.

While enjoying my stay, I also led a group of wonderful women on fire like you through the key components of vanquishing fear, including what it is and why we have it.  I will explain a little more in this video.


Guess what? We all fear something. Moving through fear is the most important way to conquer it. So, check out one simple strategy on how you, too, can approach your fear head on and send it packing.

1.  F.E.A.R. has been described as “Fantasized Experiences Appearing Real” — that’s because fear is a fantasy of what “could” happen if you speak in public, make a mistake, or go it alone without a spouse or partner — just three of fears I often hear about from women.

2. Try to think about the worst case scenario of your fantasized fear. What is the worst possible result you fear? Meditate on what could happen and imagine all the terrible outcomes that pop into your head.

3. Then, place a realistic percentage on that worst case scenario happening.  Is it 2% or 20% that you may fall off the stage when speaking in public?  Now, put a strategy in place to help you through your fear based on the percentage of it really happening.

4. Plan what action you’d take should your worst fear happen.  Often, the grip of fear is lessened when you know what you’d do and you see the chances are (most often) quite slim of disaster striking.

Stay tuned, there are even more healthy and helpful tips to come from our adventurous spa week!

If you would like to find out more about Sophfronia Scott’s book that I mentioned in the video — How The Fierce Face Fear — or to order your own copy, please click here.