Thriving on routine

Do you sometimes struggle to stay consistent?  To keep focused and stay the course?  I sure do.

With distractions at every turn, I am much more comfortable going with the flow and inviting — and even chasing after — something new and different!

I equate routine with being bored and that scares the daylights out of me! But I’ve come to realize I need a fair amount of regular, consistent activity — a routine — to get things done.

I am settled back on Martha’s Vineyard after a winter in Florida and travels these past weeks to Paris, New York and Columbus.  I’m out of my routine and in search of the right footing to accomplish the many dreams I have.

In my first hour home, I slipped into our backyard to see if our 10-year-old rock sculpture had kept her balance through the winter. Yup, she sure did!

And, after five months away, our Wilber immediately crawled back into his hammock (courtesy of Woman on Fire Holly Getty!) and resumed his own routine on Martha’s Vineyard.

It made me laugh to consider that even inanimate objects and animals stay the course better than I do sometimes!

Woman on Fire Sophfronia Scott and I were recently talking about another kind of routine — the struggles of the “sandwich generation” — men and women simultaneously caring for kids and elderly parents or relatives.

She recommended the book of a friend of hers Elizabeth Cohen called The Family on Beartown Road.

In it, Elizabeth describes having a baby at age 40 and taking in her 80-year-old father with dementia to live with her and her husband.  Well, he was her husband — until the baby turned one and he decided it was all too much for him and he left.

At that point, the only routine the author could count on for herself was a slice of time when Grandpa and the baby were asleep, and she would write her awarenesses of the two ends of life’s spectrum and her heartbreak.

“I am discovering that babies and old men have a lot in common. Both thrive on routine,” she wrote.

It was her own routine of writing that resulted in her inspiring and insightful book. I took note.

And, it was her routine of writing 15 minutes a day that led author Martha Beck, whose hands were immobilized by an auto-immune disorder, to a major accomplishment.

Undaunted, she rubberbanded her fingers together, stuck a pencil between them, and routinely wrote until she finished her award-winning book Expecting Adam: A True Story of Birth, Rebirth and Everyday Magic.

I took note.

And, I have decided there is nothing boring about consistent, forward motion that eventually gets you to your goal, your dream, your success.

As skeletons are to our bodies, routines — consistent, regular, ongoing actions and practices — are the backbones to our success.

Now, I can hardly wait for Monday morning. Back to the routines I know work for me!

I’d love to hear what routines work for you?

And, before I go, congratulations to Woman on Fire Julie Quackenbush of Columbus, Ohio for winning the gorgeous KiraGrace yoga jacket, courtesy of Kira Karmazin. Julie looks sharp in it at a Michael McDonald Concert!

Thank you for being a part of this amazing, supportive and caring community.

I judged too quickly…

Have you ever made up your mind about something or someone and then found out you were wrong?  Well, I almost made a terrible mistake by doing that.

Many of you are fans of the life coach Martha Beck or at least know of her.  Some of you are even Martha Beck-trained coaches.

Martha is a columnist for O Magazine, holds three degrees from Harvard, and is a best-selling author of several books and a sought-after speaker.  For years I skimmed her writings and didn’t feel a connection to her as a woman or as a coach.

Honestly, sadly, embarrassingly, I know now that I mostly dismissed what she had to offer.  I am not sure why.

Debbie Phillips with Martha Beck
Martha Beck is a totally captivating speaker and a very dear soul who is a true Woman on Fire!

Then, last fall I had the great fortune to meet her in person, not once but twice, including a private lunch with her, and I received the full impact of this extraordinary woman.  I totally fell in love with her, with who she is (very funny and authentic!), what she has to say (smart and practical), and how she uplifts those around her (with warmth and caring)!

I listened to her share with such love and humor her life struggles and hard-won triumphs.  If Martha can cope with three kids under age five and debilitating, chronic pain in her hands to spend 15 minutes a day for a year typing with a pencil wedged between her fingers to write a best-selling book, I have no excuses!  She’s full of that kind of inspiration.

And, strategies, too, such as my favorite piece of Martha wisdom: “Never put off until tomorrow what you can cancel today!”

I now love Martha so much that I am going to Scottsdale this week to attend a workshop she and one of her talented coaches (and a Woman on Fire!) Susan Hyatt are hosting.

Debbie Phillips with Martha Beck
Martha signed a copy of her best-selling book “Steering by Starlight” when I met her for the second time last fall at The Ladies Who Launch event in New York City.

What I learned from all of this is to slow down and make sure I fully take in what someone has to offer.  Turns out Martha is a beacon of Women on Fire-ness, and had I not opened my eyes a little wider when I did, I would have missed out on knowing someone truly extraordinary.  In this instance, someone I eagerly want to share with our Women on Fire community.

Have you ever misjudged someone as I feel I did Martha?  What happened? What would you have lost or did you lose out on?  I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments below.



Book Review: Good Girls Don’t Get Fat

I don’t have to tell you what a terrible obsession and struggle most of us have in accepting our own beautiful bodies.

We grew up with — and continue to be bombarded by — so many harmful messages.  I’m sure you can remember a time (or many) when you were told or became aware of or compared yourself in some way that you didn’t quite measure up to the ideal body, weight, shape or size.

Here I am with Dr. Robyn Silverman at a recent Women on Fire Tea Party where we celebrated the publication of her important new book. (Shannon McCaffery Photo)

Today I look at pictures of myself when I was in my 20s and 30s and I am stunned how slim and trim I was.  I remember feeling and believing I was fat.  I know many of you can relate.

Thanks to a recent plethora of books addressing weight and body image issues we can now help to change for the girls in our lives the anguish and pain so many of us have endured with feeling “fat,” “ugly” and “less than.”

Whether you are a mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, teacher, neighbor, babysitter, you have the power,  strategies and resources now to help build a girl’s self-esteem and strengthen her beliefs about her beautiful, powerful, amazing body.

It should be no surprise that one of our own Women on Fire — Dr. Robyn Silverman — is the author of the book I am recommending as the #1 most useful and practical book (and I have read them ALL) on this subject.


I know you will find this book a tremendous resource.  I also know that it is not only girls and women who are affected by these negative messages (check out Dr. Silverman’s insight on Body Bullying) and this book can help our boys, too.

For more information and to order Good Girls Don’t Get Fat, go to Amazon or to

Now that Daylight Savings Time has given you an extra hour this week, have a great one.

I’m off to New York City to attend the Ladies Who Launch event “Dream It! Launch It! Live It!” as the guest of Founder Victoria Colligan.  Tuesday I’m having lunch with Oprah Magazine columnist Martha Beck.  I’ll also attend events with Woman on Fire and World Pulse Founder Jensine Larsen.

Jamie Eslinger is traveling with me and we’ll keep you posted on anything we learn this week that will help you to live your own dreams and a richer, more inspired life!

As always, we would love to hear your thoughts. Please let us know in the comments section below.

Much love,