In the sadness, the touches of sweetness

This is a quick hug to you from me while I’m on the run in Washington, DC.

My sweet, 80-year-old mother-in-law is back in the hospital after breaking her hip last week.

Rob and I are alternating caring for her and continuing to keep our busy lives and work going when we live hundreds of miles away from her.  Sound familiar to you in your life?

When I catch my breath, I will share some of my new awarenesses and strategies of having an aging parent at the end of life.

In the meantime, I was so deeply grateful last week to be in New York City with so many extraordinary Women on Fire.  And, I wanted to show you pictures from the two Women on Fire Holiday Teas at Lady Mendl’s, our final teas of 2011.

Women on Fire Holiday Tea in New York City (Photo by Shannon McCaffery)

I created Women on Fire teas in 2004 as a three-hour respite for busy women to meet women they might not ordinarily meet.  And, to share what they are “on fire” about – or not.

I dreamed of it to be a safe space where women could share their authentic selves and be listened to and heard.

With all that is going on in my personal life, no one needed that more than me last week!

Enjoying the Mother-Daughter tea with Kyra Nolte,  Judi Breitstein and Jaclyn Reilly (Photo by Josephine Donatelli)

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all the women who attend teas in our many cities.  Here is what a few of you had to say about your favorite thing from from the experience:

Women on Fire Mother-Daughter Tea (Photo by Josephine Donatelli)

“It is a place where I can come and just BE… be who I am at that moment.” ~ Kim Dettmer

“Meeting new women who come together with positive encouragement, acceptance and love for each other. Being able to be vulnerable and not feel judged. Getting feed back from other women and gaining from their experiences.” ~ Josie Donatelli

“The safe environment you provide to share, experience and grow among other fabulous women.” ~ Cheryl Paulsen

“The sisterhood of knowing, regardless of race, religion, cultural background, women have the similar struggles and we want/can support each other in that safe environment you provide.” ~ Sai Jimenez

“The opportunity to unplug, meet new women, and share whatever is happening that we may want encouragement for or simply for a good ear to receive.” ~ Jen Madson

I’m excited about the calendar of teas coming up next year in New York, Naples, Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati and more!

Looking so forward to seeing you at a Women on Fire event in 2012!

Have a wonderful week, and I wish you much sweetness.

What gifts are waiting for you?

One of the many reasons I get so excited about you attending a Women on Fire event is because I know you will walk away feeling “on fire” about your life.

And, how do I know this???

Women tell me all the time that they stay “on fire” for days, weeks, months afterward. And, then they tell me all the wonderful things that were “sparked” in their lives because they felt inspired and supported!

The joy and energy of fabulous women connecting with each other and sharing their hearts and their dreams and what they need to move forward (yes, it is OK to ask for help!) creates a magical experience.

After all these years, and countless Women on Fire gatherings, even I learn something new and walk away inspired after every single event.

Come with me inside the tea we held in New York City last week.

Women on Fire Tea in New York City — Janina Serden Sebesky, Holly Getty, Sophfronia Scott, Jen Madson, Maureen Wheeler, Lauren Possee, Terri Cole, Dawn Halkuff, Lara Licharowicz, Jodi Graber, Debbie Phillips, Wendy Lagstein, Ines Altemose, Ellen Wingard and Colleen Pero.

I want to give you a little flavor of the wisdom, the learning, the inspiration and the caring that takes place at a Women on Fire event.

Sophfronia Scott, founder of Done For You Writing, shared the lessons from a book I’d never heard of called The Traveler’s Gift: Seven Decisions that Determine Personal Success.

The premise of this spiritual parable is that there are so many good things waiting to be delivered to us, but do we cut them off before they have a chance to arrive?

We all took a big, deep breath … and listened deeply as Sophfronia shared her plans to claim all that is waiting for her.  She inspired us to remember we all have gifts within reach …just waiting for us, too!

Leadership consultant Ellen Wingard told us of her recent travels to South Africa and an inspiring quote by Wendell Berry to describe where we sometimes find ourselves in life: “to be joyful, though you have considered all the facts.”  We all laughed knowingly.

Wendy Lagstein, the Smile Director of a dental firm, had us in tears with what she was “on fire” about.

She told us of the Woman on Fire in her life — her daughter Farra who recently joined Wendy to run a 5K race.  Enchanted that Wendy is a Woman on Fire, Farra claimed she is, too, and shared with Wendy a very long list of what she’s on fire about in her 7-year-old life!

Wendy Lagstein with our youngest Woman on Fire, 7-year-old Farra!

And, these snippets are but a fraction of the gifts offered, passions shared, friends made, plans propelled forward at a Women on Fire event.

Have you thought about the gifts waiting for you? They are your dreams and desires that may seem out of reach.  What if they are only a hand away?

You are so welcome to share your thoughts about them on the Debbie Phillips blog.

In the meantime, I hope if you live anywhere close to upcoming Women on Fire teas in Cheboygan, Michigan; Santa Fe, New Mexico; Columbus, Ohio; or New York City, you’ll check out the calendar section below and register to attend.

You deserve the boost of moving closer to the life you dream of!

Or, as Woman on Fire Janina Serden Sebesky reminds us:“To keep a lamp burning, we have to put oil in it.” ~ Mother Teresa

Who cheers you on?

It’s unusually chilly and dreary here today on Martha’s Vineyard. A sharp contrast to the warmth and heat I’ve enjoyed these past 10 days traveling and meeting so many Women on Fire!

In New York City on Friday, we packed our beloved Lady Mendl’s Tea Parlour once again with a full house of fabulous women.


Women On Fire Tea Party New York City -- Front row: Colleen Pero, Shawn Tesser, Sallie Glickman, Sarah Elizabeth Greer, Dr. Robyn Silverman, Debbie Phillips, June Zeringue, Shannon McCaffery, Janina Serden Sebeskey, Janette Barber. Back row: Laurena Brittain, Jenifer Madson, Sora Vernikoff, Bridget Ford Hughes, Paula Alekson, Holly Getty. (Missing: Heike Vogel and Colette Foster-Franck)

For half the women who attended, it was her first tea party.


Debbie Phillips with Shawn Tesser, producer of Bravo's "Inside The Actor's Studio," who attended her first Women on Fire tea party

Each participant shares what she is “on fire” about, where she is in her life right now, and what she needs for support.

As each woman at the tea party spoke, she had the rapt attention of the other 15 women listening to her. After saying what she was on fire about – or not, she was cheered on by the rest of us for her success, her struggle, her dreams.

Women often tell me Women on Fire tea parties and coaching groups are one of the few places where they connect with other women and genuinely feel heard, supported and motivated to take next steps.

Who cheers you on in your life?


Bridget Hughes toasts Robyn Silverman's new book "Good Girls Don't Get Fat" -- How Weight Loss Obsession Is Messing Up Our Girls And How We Can Help Them Thrive Despite It

Think about it. You work so hard to do your best…in all your many, many roles. No matter what your dream is, who helps you up when you trip? Whispers “go, go, go” as you figure it out? Applauds you when you make it? Celebrates you when you’ve achieved it?

Life is too tough not to have many hands at your back.

That’s one way Women on Fire make a difference in each others’ lives. We want you to succeed.


Congratulations to Dr. Robyn Silverman for achieving a long-held dream to publish her book. Thank you to her publisher Harlequin for gifting a book to each tea party attendee!

You’ve heard me say a hundred times: “a rising tide lifts all boats.” When you’re supported, you succeed. And, when you support another woman with her dreams, you are carried that much higher.

I’d love to hear who and what you rely on on a regular basis for inspiration and support? If you don’t have that in your life right now, I strongly urge you to find a place where you do!

With love,


PS The next Women on Fire event in New York City is 4-7PM Friday, December 3.  It is our first-time ever, special Mother-Daughter Tea Party.  It is expected to sell out asap.  If you are considering attending, please register TODAY at :