A fire and rain-y night

Two weeks ago we had a Nor’easter here on Martha’s Vineyard.

The winds and rain slapped and shook our home until I was certain the shaker shingles would fall off.

Inside, I was baking a coconut cake for a dear friend’s birthday celebration and feared a power outage could leave the cake half-baked.  I was sure Trudy’s 90th birthday party would be cancelled, anyway.

As so often is the case, none of my worries came true.

The winds continued to howl, but our home stayed intact, the power stayed on and Trudy stepped through the dark and rain into the party on the arm of her dashing son to the wild cheers of dozens of family and friends!

What a perfectly fitting tribute that a Nor’easter arrived on Trudy’s big birthday because she is all energy and power!

I’ve told you in the past about Trudy Taylor, one of the many wise and brilliant women I’m so fortunate to have in my life.

Wise counsel always from my dear friend Trudy Taylor (Photos by Rob Berkley)

I hope you, too, have the wit, wisdom and support of a woman who has lived decades beyond you.  Please tell us about her here.

At the party, organized by Trudy’s extraordinary daughter Kate and son Livingston, love was shared and love was given to honor the matriarch of one of the world’s most famous musical families.

One of her five kids is James Taylor.

The warmth, excitement and joy inside where the birthday festivities unfolded gave no clue to the pounding rain outside.  All focus was on the tiny woman with the very big personality surrounded by the fiery candlelight from the “parade of cakes.”

And, after the cake surprise, Trudy shared her life’s wisdom with the crowd:

“Be sure to do what you love.”

“Follow your dreams… the dreams you had when you were young.”

“Don’t put off doing what you want to do.”

All this from a woman who left home at 16 to attend a music conservatory; sang in halls and churches throughout New England; raised five children born within six years of each other; faced the deaths of a young sister and then later her beloved son Alex; got divorced; pursued art as a painter and master gardener; and traveled the world including off-the-beaten path trips to China.

My favorite Trudy moment at the party came when Livingston took the microphone.

First, he sang to his mother.

Then he shared this:

“When I was a little boy about 6, I told my mother I wanted to build a swimming pool.” He said he then watched for that look on her face that would suggest it was an outrageous, ridiculous idea.

But it didn’t come.

“Where would you like to build the pool?” his mother asked, and then she helped him figure out the best place to put it.

For this, Livingston, today a popular, accomplished musician, author and college professor, would always grateful to his mother.  Her willingness to allow him to explore whatever interested him set up a lifelong learning and belief that he could do anything he put his mind to.

Throughout her children’s growing up years, Trudy remembers being criticized for allowing them to express themselves creatively.

“People were always saying to me ‘how can you let them do that?’ and ‘why don’t you stop them?’

“And, I would respond:  ‘because then they wouldn’t be who they are.’”

May you always be who you are in this world.  In this week of Thanksgiving, it is a gift to know that you can be you!

I’ll see you back here next week to celebrate what several Women on Fire are up to and to cheer them on.

Bye for now from Trudy and me! ~ Love, Debbie



You can do anything in a year!

Rob and I are listening to James Taylor’s holiday CD while we scramble to wrap Christmas presents and clean out closets, cupboards and bookshelves.

I always love to start the New Year as uncluttered as possible!

My best go-to book on this subject is Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui by Karen Kingston, who assures us “you can sort out your life by sorting out your junk.”

And, this past year, I have been greatly inspired by a woman who certainly isn’t dealing with clutter when it comes to extra clothes, shoes and frivolous items.

Last January my colleague Jamie Eslinger and I playfully — and powerfully — launched into 2011!

For the past 352 days, Woman on Fire Jamie Eslinger hasn’t bought any of those things!

As many of you know, Jamie and I work together at Women on Fire.  We were at Lake Austin Spa Resort in Texas working (really!) more than a year ago when Jamie was struck by the power of our Women on Fire Aspiration: “I invest in myself and in my potential.”

She noticed that the price of massages and facials at Lake Austin Spa were the prices she’d been paying for a dress or shoes.  And, it hit her.

What if she gave up buying clothes, shoes and frivolous purchases for one entire year and invested her resources instead in her mind, body, heart and soul?

Here is Jamie on video on Day 3 of her 365-day promise to herself to take that leap.

As she roars toward the finish line in 13 days, our Jamie has an amazing story to tell about all the new discoveries and incredible surprises she’s had while not buying clothes!

In a snowstorm in Alpena, Michigan, Jamie attended a Women on Fire Tea. Because she wasn’t buying, she made her rainboots work in the snow and Woman on Fire Mary Ellen Jones gave her a coat. Somehow, whatever she needed always appeared!

I’ll let her tell all about her year herself at The Promise 365 where you can read her daily journal.

What I will share is that after one year of not shopping, she is now healthier, happier, thinner, fitter, more peaceful, grateful and confident than when she started on January 1, 2011.

Jamie is a wonderful reminder of the great power that with inspiration, strategies and support – and she made sure she had all three when she embarked upon The Promise 365 — you can do anything in one year!

Sisterhood of the Traveling Dress — Jamie was stuck once without proper clothes to wear to a wedding and had to borrow a dress from her friend Sara.  Turned out it was a dress Jamie had lent Sara years before!

Already Jamie has inspired a legion of others including professional photographer Josie Donatelli, who is rocking the world with her inspiring new blog Changing It Now about her own day-by-day journey to return to being fit and healthy.

If you would welcome the inspiration, strategies and support to take on your own inspiring challenge in 2012, Jamie is leading a virtual coaching group for 10 Women on Fire starting January 16.

The cost is $397 a month but if you are a Women on Fire member, your cost is only $97 a month! (If you have not yet signed up for membership, you are most welcome to here and you will be eligible to receive the amazing discount!)

I’m so excited about the possibilities of change over this next year that I’m joining Jamie’s group, too.

My goal is to increase my self-care and I’m determined in my crazy, busy schedule to do that in 2012.  I’ll keep a daily diary that I will share with you.

Please share what exciting thing you’d love to promise yourself this year in the comments below and then join Jamie and me to make it happen!