Sweet memories and a side-splitting performance

For those of you who are new to The Spark!, today is both an update and to shine the light on a Woman on Fire who is blazing brightly.

*This week’s Pinspiration*

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How well do you walk through the fire- womenonfire.com

I am in Huntsville, Alabama this weekend to attend a celebration of life service for my brother Steve and his wife Gaby. Married for 32 years, they died only weeks apart – on September 11 and November 9.

The compliment most often said about my brother during his life and after was “Steve would give you the shirt off of his back.”  And, indeed, he would.  In fact, more than a decade ago he gave Gaby one of his kidneys and prolonged her life and their life together.

While extremely difficult to have two people in our family die so close together, when I reach into my heart of hearts I am grateful they are together again – free from their illnesses and pain.

In this deeply sad time for all of us and especially for Steve and Gaby’s daughters who are in their 20s, it’s also been a precious time of coming together in a new configuration of family.  In the face of losing our first sibling, new family bonds have been formed and strengthened.

It’s been my saving grace to live in our Women on Fire community at this tender time in my life, and I am so grateful to you for your oceans of support.

Thank you.

Last week I had the comforting pleasure of being with Women on Fire members in New York City and Columbus.

In New York, I was utterly dazzled by the performance of one of our long-time members.  Sarah Elizabeth Greer wrote and starred in her own hilarious show – Bio-Hazard: A Relative Comedy.

I joined Women on Fire Holly GettyJanina Sebesky and Janette Barber to laugh the night away.  It was an honor and profound joy to see Sarah achieve her dream and! And to meet her mother Connie Greer and Sue Donor.

Sarah’s determination to transform her pain into radiant joy is extraordinary.

You’ll be seeing and hearing much more from Sarah when she shares her story of adoption in our upcoming book – Women on Fire: 21 Inspiring Women Share Their Life Secrets (and Save You Years of Struggle!), Vol. 2.

You’ll also recognize Sarah in our new book trailer.  Guaranteed, in her few seconds  in the video, she’ll put a smile on your face and maybe even make you laugh out loud!

And, in Columbus last week, Women on Fire members gathered at my favorite restaurant LaChatelaine (you know I love anything Paris-inspired!). We caught up with each other and discussed ideas for honoring our beloved Jane Juergens.

Through generosity that is so typical of Women on Fire, we will create a scholarship for a deserving woman (or several) to help her make it through the transition from one career or job to the one she truly wants (just as Jane successfully transitioned from a corporate job to her own company with the support of her Women on Fire sisters).

There will be a nomination and application process to select the recipients.

If you’d like to be part of a small committee to meet (can be virtual) to craft the details for the scholarship, please email me.

In next week’s SPARK!, we’ll feature tips and strategies to get a good night’s sleep (although after Thursday’s turkey fest, falling asleep may not be an issue at all!).

My wonderful, brilliant friend Belleruth Naparstek (she who launched the entire industry of guided imagery recordings) is offering us her special report on how to achieve restful sleep and get more zzzzzz’s in your life. Each day more information is coming to light about how very essential sleep is to our physical and emotional well being. Belleruth’s report couldn’t come at a better time.

So stay awake to get that!  And I’ll see you then.

After Steve and Gaby’s service, I’ll be back home on Martha’s Vineyard to have Thanksgiving with my husband Rob and close friends.   I am oh-so-ever grateful for all I have in this world – which includes wonderful you.

Have a beautiful, abundant Thanksgiving.

Courage To Grieve, Part 2

I am grieving. The impact of three deaths in six weeks – my brother, my long-time yoga teacher and friend, and our beloved Women on Fire member Jane – has left me exhausted and sad.

Your wonderful notes, gifts and words of support during this time have meant the world to me. Thank you.

*This Week’s Pinspiration*

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So, when my husband cheerily asked me what I was going to write about today, I drew a blank.  Nothing. Was. Coming.

And, I wanted to bop him on the head for even bugging me about it.

That’s how it is sometimes during grief.  I am not myself.  I’d never bop my husband on the head for being supportive! Except clearly when I’m grieving.

And to make things even harder, I can’t easily grab on – to plans, to thoughts, to what to do next.  Slights or perceived injustices that normally escape my attention can pierce my heart.

Having survived heartbreak from losing loved ones in the past, I know my current condition is temporary.  Yet I want these feelings to be gone now and my “normal” self to return.

If you, too, are experiencing the effects from losing someone you love or are expecting to lose, you know the struggle.  Sleepless nights, loss of concentration and perspective, fear, anxiety, physical and emotional exhaustion.

I want to think my way through – to make sense of the losses — but I can’t. And I know the only way around this sadness is to feel my way through it. Lean into my grief, which means to scream, cry, sob, whimper, whatever I need to do to express this hurt.  And, I want to dedicate myself to tripling my self-care.

It’s not even one day at a time for the grieving soul. It’s one moment at a time.

The French philosopher La Rochefoucauld said, “Neither the sun nor death can be looked at with a steady eye.”

Last week I took note of what gave me relief when I glanced away from death and stopped ruminating.  Even if relief only lasted a minute, an hour, or an evening, it was enough to keep me moving and let me know I will get through this. Grief has no timetable. It takes as long as it takes.

Here are seven things I want to share that brought me comfort. If you’re grieving, my wish for you is to find what might bring you some relief, too. So, here’s my list:

Thank you for the fun, sweet Chloe!

* Playing with an adorable, cuddly, giggling, 9-month-old baby girl for an entire evening.

* Lunch with a friend whose mother is dying. From our touching time together, she crafted this beautiful video.  If you have someone terminally ill in your life, make sure they know what their life meant to you. It will be your greatest final gift.

* Joining the Women on Fire Fall Cleanse group – having the support of holistic health coach Amy Marzluff and Women on Fire members to eat healthy and take care of myself is extra powerful and helpful during this tender time.

* Reading a short, inspiring, uplifting book.  Stay tuned for this month’s Book To Live By. I loved this book so much I’ve chosen it as our November selection.

Homemade pumpkin cookies 🙂

* Baking pumpkin cookies (recipe when you click!) from scratch. As a little girl, I loved to bake more than anything. Even though I’m on the cleanse and not currently eating sweets, it gave me so much joy to bake cookies and give them away!

* A two-hour nap, a walk and a romantic dinner with my husband (the same husband I had the audacity to want to bop today!) at our favorite restaurant the night before I started the cleanse.

* Cleaning out my closet! Clutter bogs me down and makes me even more tired when I’m grieving.  So I took to my closet and am happy to report two boxes full of gently used clothing, purses and jewelry are headed to Dress For Success in Columbus, Ohio.

(Thank you to Women on Fire book co-author Marilyn Brown for introducing me to this wonderful organization, which recycles clothes for women in need.)

* And, you.  You give me comfort by being here week after week. Thank you for walking through life together.  I cannot imagine it without you.  The way you are with me. The care and support you give to each other is truly inspiring.

Now, that is something I can grab on to.

Have a wonderful week and I’ll see you back here next Sunday!

With love to Jane

As you know by now, our beloved Woman on Fire member Jane Juergens of Columbus, Ohio died last week after she was brutally attacked by 16-year-old boy while jogging in a park.

I welcome the many members of her family and community who joined us in the past week because of Jane.

Today was her funeral.  Many Women on Fire attended, with remarks delivered by Jan Allen and a special dance performance by Jessika Ferm. You can read Jan’s beautiful and heart-felt eulogy here.

Knowing Jane as I did, she would have been so touched — and because she was so focused on others — I believe she would have been surprised by the tremendous outpouring of love for her.

During a candlelight vigil last week, hosted by Jane’s son Andy at the park where she was killed, Women on Fire from every corner of this country and from as far away as Africa and New Zealand celebrated her online.

Thank you, Women on Fire! And thank you, Kay Raypholtz who created exquisite collages from our candlelight tribute.

Jane was the very epitome of a Woman on Fire — a woman who listened, cared, cheered you on, and worked to be the best person she could be in this world. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Thank you, Jane, for living a life worth every single accolade you’ve received. We will move forward, honoring your memory, remembering your joy, and emulating your courage, spunk and spirit.

I’m thinking about all of you, those of you who knew Jane, and those who didn’t but who have been touched by our loss. The support this community has shown in this past week has been extraordinary, and you make me so very proud to be a part of it.

Thank you, too, for the way you’ve rallied around Jane’s family and each other. There is nothing more beautiful — even in this overwhelming sadness — to see than what the power of love and support can create in our lives.

I’d like to close by sharing with you a happy time from Jane’s Women on Fire coaching group from last year — and a quote by Fred Rogers.

Women on Fire members spent 2012 working together to further their dreams and goals in Jan Allen’s Life, Ignited coaching group. Pictured from left: Nicole Lovett, Mary Jo Hudson, Jan Allen, Keena Smith, Jane Juergens and Laura Tiberi.

If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.” ~
Fred Rogers

Thank you, dear Jane for leaving so many memories of your wonderful, sweet self with each and every one of us. Rest in peace, my friend. We will cherish you always.

Until next week …

Take extra good care of yourself.


In memory of Jane Juergens

We cherish each woman in our Women on Fire community so much so that the loss of even one of us affects us all.

Last night one of our beloved members Jane Juergens of Columbus, Ohio was killed tragically. She was in a park — most likely out for a run — and she was stabbed to death by a 16-year-old assailant.

Those of us who knew her well are devastated. She has been a loving, caring, uplifting presence at our retreats and teas, on our members’ Live Chats, and in Jan Allen’s Women on Fire coaching group Life, Ignited.

Photo by Heather Stone

Bright and shining Jane at a Women on Fire event pictured here with Jen Madson

And ignite her life, she did. Jane served as inspiration to us for her bold and courageous move in the past year to leave a solid, steady job to follow her dream and open her own human resources firm.

Photo by Heather Stone

With Jane at last year’s Women on Fire Retreat in Chicago

I had just been with Jane in Columbus on September 26 at a Women on Fire tea at the Cambridge House and several of you were there as well. That night, she was joyful and happy and so proud of the changes that she’d made and the success she was enjoying. She lit up the entire room that night!

Photo by Heather Stone

Having fun in Chicago in 2012, Jane is second from the left.

While Jane was friends with so many, I want to especially send love and wrap my arms around the Women on Fire in her coaching group led by Jan — Laura Tiberi, Mary Jo Hudson, Keena Smith and Nicole Lovett. These women lovingly nurtured and cheered each other on and I can’t imagine how hard it is to lose a member of your precious group.

Photo by Heather Stone

Jane with some her Women on Fire sisters is at the top of the picture

Personally, Jane was a radiant spirit in my life. Always coming from her heart. Living her best intentions. She recently went out of her way to re-connect me to Pam Smith Lucas, the daughter of my father’s best friend, whom I hadn’t seen since I was a child.

That’s just how she was. There to help. There to encourage. There to make life better for everyone.

Photo by Heather Stone

Jane getting a Women on Fire book signed for one of her friends

Ironically, last night, as Jane was no doubt fighting for her life, I received a note from a dear friend comforting me on the recent death of my brother. In part, she wrote:

It’s hard to comprehend when life takes unforeseen turns. Life always hangs on this very fragile string, which can just snap at any moment. It’s precious, so very precious and I am so sorry about your loss.

Those are now my words to you, as I light a candle in honor of our darling Jane.

On behalf of our entire community, we send our love and prayers to Jane’s immediate family, which includes her mother and two sons.

Please know in the coming weeks and months we will find ways to celebrate and honor Jane and to keep her beautiful spirit alive — and you all will be a part of that.

You are invited to share anything you’d like to say about Jane here.

Photo by Heather Stone

With love to you, dear Jane, forever and always.

May you rest in peace ~


Shine your lights, Women on Fire!

I firmly believe when you see another woman on her path, you can be inspired to know what is possible for you.

And for our Women on Fire members highlighted today, I hope you will feel us cheering you on for your work and dedication to follow your dreams!

First up, we shine the light on a collection of women. They are the 21 co-authors of Vol. 2 of our book Women on Fire: 21 More Inspiring Women Share Their Life Secrets (and Save You Years of Struggle!) 

Women on Fire Book co-authors gathering in New York City — Front row: Mary Kay Purdy, Susan Kruger, Marilyn Brown, me!, Tricia Simpson, Leah Hamilton, Marge Snyder. Back row: Heike Vogel, Maria Verroye, Sophfronia Scott, Lisa Arundale, Linda Neff, Kacy Cook, Kim Davis, Beth Bryce, Laurel Hodory, Jenifer Madson, Kay Raypholtz, Carrie Saba, Sarah Elizabeth Greer, Michelle Whittaker and Meredith Schoenberger. Co-authors missing from the photo were Jan Allen, Nicole Friedler Brisson and Mary Carran Webster. (Photo by Rob Berkley)

Together with publisher Sophfronia Scott, editor Kacy Cook, communications and marketing manager Meredith Schoenberger, we all met recently in New York City to share a day of inspiration, connection and personal stories.


Our co-authors have all written their transformative chapters of struggle and triumph — and they all did it by our deadline.  (What an accomplishment:-) The book will be published this summer and I promise you are going to be inspired!

Dyana on her Sunday shift at the 9/11 memorial

For Dyana Robenalt of Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey, life has now come full circle.

After witnessing the collapse of the World Trade Center towers from the rooftop of her Manhattan office building,  she abandoned her executive sales position with UPS.  And she went to work to rebuild her spirit.

She moved to the Poconos and developed her gardening skills and expertise. She now manages the gardens of large estates through the Estate and Enhancement Division at Statile & Todd in Far Hills, New Jersey.

And to prove how healing it is to give back, today Dyana volunteers at the new 9/11 memorial.

If you visit the memorial, she’s happy to help you or provide information and you can reach her dyanarobenalt@gmail.com.

Personal style consultant Holly Getty of New York City, was featured on New York’s WPIX-TV morning show for her styling expertise. She led a segment on denim that WOWed the producers and audience!

How fabulous is this illustration above of Holly? Another example of an amazing Women on Fire collaboration as it was a gift to Holly from Lara Licharowicz of New York City created by the talented Rosemary Fanti of Chicago.

Siiri Morley (in the green top and necklace) during her recent visit to Haiti

Siiri Morley of Boston was recently in Haiti launching a new pilot program for the company she founded to provide jobs for refugee women and that Women on Fire champions — Prosperity Candle.

Many of you met Siiri at our retreat in Chicago last fall, and she has tirelessly worked to promote Properity Candle, which was recently featured on NBC’s Today Show!

Congratulations, too, to Woman on Fire Dana Frost of Chicago for becoming a powerful supporter of Prosperity Candle with her own unique brand of candle scent.  “Share the light, Change a Life” is Properity Candle’s motto and Siiri and Dana are doing just that!

Phoebe Lapine dazzling television hosts with her healthy, easy cooking style

Private chef and cookbook author Phoebe Lapine of New York City is receiving a ton of buzz — and deservedly so! — for her celebrated food blog Feed Me Phoebe.

Even if you don’t like to cook, the pictures alone make it an enticing read!

Phoebe marked the first anniversary of her blog with a segment on New York City’s CBS affiliate’s “Cooking on The Couch.” Check out the clip and recipe for Phoebe’s yummy Fusilli with Asparagus-Radish Leaf Pesto here!

Christina Haag with the adorable Danny Pino in Law & Order: SVU

Christina Haag of New York City appeared on NBC’s Law & Order: SVU when she starred in “Girl Dishonored” on April 24. She portrayed the Dean of Students in this riveting episode, so set your DVRs because it’s sure to replay soon!

Nicole Lovett of Columbus, Ohio has signed on to help coach the parents in the popular show Six Little McGhee’s on Oprah’s OWN Network.

Not only is Nicole making her national television debut, but she’s doing it while she’s 7 1/2 months pregnant!  She is expecting a little girl soon.

Nicole was a member last year of Jan Allen’s Women on Fire coaching group. In 2012, Nicole also was Women on Fire’s  Theo Scott Scholar in honor of the late sister of Sophfronia Scott.

Congratulations to another Women on Fire member in Jan Allen’s group — Jane Juergens of Columbus.

Jane recently married her extensive experience in human resources with the need for companies to implement and optimize cloud-based HR systems — and launched her own  company — PeopleGen.

Jane has a passion for helping others tap into their true potential and we are thrilled to see PeopleGen take life and we look forward to watching it grow!

Wendy Taucher of New York City and Martha’s Vineyard, has debuted her latest opera “Impresario Now! 90% Theater, 90% Musicale, Very Mozart Most of the Time.”

Talented Wendy co-wrote, directed and choreographed the entire show!  Her company — Wendy Taucher Dance Opera Theater — will be presenting the show from May 3-18, 2013 at the Laurie Beechman Theatre on 407 W. 42nd St.  You can buy tickets here!

Congratulations to each of you for moving your dreams forward. You are an inspiration!  Sharing your gifts with the world full-out as you are doing WILL change the world.

We love hearing what you’re up to so please tell us so we can shine the light on YOU in an upcoming SPARK!

Believing in you and all that you bring to the world ~