Nothing happens unless first a dream

I just arrived home from New York City where I celebrated with a number of you at a Women on Fire Tea and appeared on Janette Barber’s radio show on Sirius XM.

The trip was filled with many delicious surprises.
Women on Fire Tea in New York City on Friday — Front row: Lara Licharowicz, Jolie Solomon, Renee Schmidt; second row: Darlene Wade, Ann Graham, Janette Barber, Mary Ann Donatelli-Reilly, Holly Getty, Ellen Wingard, Debbie Phillips, Jenifer Madson, Kim Anderson, Sandra Carlson, Heike Vogel, Janina Sebesky and Muffy Vrana (Photos by Rob Berkley)

My birthday is June 25 so my husband came along to New York and treated me to an early birthday dinner with friends and a spa afternoon with Woman on Fire Holly Getty!

And, Woman on Fire Sarah Elizabeth Greer hosted an extraordinary brunch complete with a handsome bassist playing some of my favorite tunes.

So sliding into my actual birthday (a day I share with Woman on Fire Sandra Carlson!) I already feel very loved and blessed!

I love having the same birthday as Sandra Carlson of Washington, DC. Happy birthday to us on June 25! Do you share a birthday with anyone you know?

During my many discussions in New York, we talked a lot about going for our dreams.  And, one of you asked me: how do I even figure out my dreams?

Great question!

So before we talk about that today …

I want to welcome many of you who are here for the very first time.

Quite a few of you found us when you heard Janette Barber interviewing me on her radio show about the power of Women on Fire — women supporting and cheering each other to go for our dreams.

On the air with the fabulous Janette Barber, talking about the inspiration, strategies and support that make Women on Fire such an uplifting community!

As the American writer, editor and poet Carl Sandburg said: “Nothing happens unless first a dream.”

Fascinating to consider, isn’t it?

Here are some of the questions I’ve personally used and asked of many coaching clients over the years to help them figure out dreams worth pursuing.

Answer with as much candor as you can and this is also a good exercise to journal:

1) Who do you enjoy helping and what problems can you solve for them?

2) What wrong in the world do you want to make right?

3) When you were a child or teen-ager, what did you dream of doing?

4) What do people come to you for?

5) If money or making a living were not a consideration, what would you do with your precious life?

Your answers to one or more of these questions will give you clues to dreams you may want to follow. Your answers also can unearth long-held dreams that you’ve forgotten.

In my own life, my answer to Question #1 led me to my dream that eventually became Women on Fire!

The people I wanted to help were my women coaching clients.  Successful in many ways, they were often isolated and feeling alone in their struggles.

My dream was to connect them in a fun and inspiring way so they could have the experience of being surrounded and empowered by other women cheering on their successes.

It was started out with a handful of women at a tea party — and voila nearly a decade later we are more than 3,000 women strong!

Cheering each other on — here I am at last week’s tea party in New York City with Janina Sebesky, Mary Ann Donatelli-Reilly and Janette Barber — amazing, supportive Women on Fire.

Indeed, nothing happens unless first a dream!

May your life be filled with inspiring dreams and the inspiration, strategies and support to pursue them.

405 Steps

I’m in Washington, DC where I am visiting my dear and ailing mother-in-law MOTUS.

(Rob and I decided that a distinguished mother who lives near the White House, home to POTUS and FLOTUS, deserves an elevated status. So, we named her MOTUS and she loves it!)

MOTUS is now surrounded with the love and comfort and care of Capital Caring, an amazing team of Hospice professionals.

She and I both seem to feel happiest and most at peace when we sit quietly and simply hold hands.

Sometimes we’re silent and tears fall.  And, sometimes we reminisce about any number of things — her marvelous lamb stew, her “snazzy” red Saab, the students she loved teaching at Vassar, how at home she always felt during her many visits to Morocco.

Sad as it is for Rob and me to realize her days on earth are closing in, (which is true for all of us!) it is such an honor to walk these last steps with her.

And, what I want to share with you today is an awareness I had in the midst of my busy, go-go-go life and caring for a dying parent.

As you know, my 2012 theme is daily self-care.

(Total side-track here, but I just have to tell you this.  I love hearing your annual themes.  The most recent ones that came to my attention are Jenifer Madson’s  “Live, Love and Serve Like There’s No Tomorrow” and Laurie Forster’s “Go Where The Magic Happens.”  Great ones, Jen and Laurie! I would love to hear yours too,  just pop it into the comments section on the Debbie Phillips Blog)

Anyway, it’s been much more of a struggle to fit in at least 30 minutes of care for myself a day than I’d ever imagined.  And, with all that is going on, there is no better theme for me this year than self-care.

As part of holding myself accountable, I note in my journal every day what I do for self-care.  Now that I’m paying attention, I shudder to think how many days in the past I’ve not been mindful of  reducing my stress.

But that is changing this year as I focus on improving what is so vitally important to us all — time and care for ourselves!

“Stress has become the ‘bad boy’ of modern culture,” according to Maryanna Klatt, Ph.D.  an Associate Professor in the College of Medicine at Ohio State University.

“We need our stress response in order to respond to threats that are bad,” she says. “The problem is when that response is activated all the time.”

Yup.  I got it, Dr. Klatt.

So, I’ve found a de-stressor that not only helps me to create mindfulness, but has inspired me in other ways, too.

Close to our home in Naples, Florida is a boardwalk with a beam in the center that is probably 8 to 10 inches off the ground.   As part of my self-care, I often take a 40-60 minute walk and the boardwalk is part of the route.

Imagine a young gymnast (then add 40 years to her!) taking to the balance beam!

Just like life, in the 405 steps it takes to walk this balance beam, there always seems to be upsets, surprises, disappointments and occasionally … a triumph.

Sometimes a cart of golfers comes along and their distraction knocks me off the beam. Once a man blew me a kiss and made me smile. Some of the boards are narrow, slippery with moss, or rough.

And,  sometimes something magical happens…

The other day I waited to hop on the beam until I saw no one else coming or going on the boardwalk.

I had never walked the 405 steps without falling off at least twice.

I was determined this time and concentrated with all my might to stay on the beam.  More than once, I almost lost my footing.

But on this day, one foot in front of the other, I made all 405 steps!!

At step 405, I jumped off the beam and did the happy dance with Adele. (Well, Adele on my iPod!)

Through my earbuds, I was stunned to hear clapping and cheering.  I looked back to see four white-haired women, none younger than 80, doing their own happy dance and celebrating my accomplishment.

They shouted their praise: “you go, girl” … “great balance!” … “we were behind you all the way!!”

We were behind you all the way.

And, that’s what I think of all of us.

We are behind each other all the way.

So, you go, girl.  Have a great week and if you’ve set a theme for yourself this year, go live it likes there’s no tomorrow!


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!