August’s Inner Circle Sneak Peek w/ Laurie David & Nancy Aronie

We’re back with sneak peek of what’s coming in your Women on Fire members’ care package for August.

This month we switched things up.

We went off book.

And we’re eager to see if you love it as much as we do.

Can you imagine the magic of an Academy Award-winning producer, one of the best writing coaches in the country and the founder of Women on Fire sitting down together for lunch?

Oh, to be a fly on that wall!

Well, in August, you CAN be that fly… if you want.

Now see yourself sharing in the insight and joy of these three brilliant women as they discuss and reflect upon another inspirational life, that of Peggy Freydberg, the celebrated poet who died last year at 107 years of age.

If you’re not yet part of our membership inner circle, please be our guest and listen in today for free to a clip of Debbie’s conversation with award-winning producer Laurie David and writing coach and author Nancy Aronie.

Laurie and Nancy brought Peggy’s extraordinary work to a wider audience in their new book, Poems from the Pond.

Press PLAY for a quick (2:20) audio clip of this off-the-charts inspiring lunch date.

Join these three at the table this August to discover:

  • Why your creativity has no age limit
  • How to follow your passion … even if you feel like it’s too late
  • The rare wisdom of a 107-year-old woman
  • How Nancy and Laurie joined forces to bring Peggy’s poems to the world

All that, PLUS we’ve included a choice selection of Peggy’s poems AND the mouth-watering recipes they enjoyed at lunch, all fromLaurie’s cookbook.

If you are already a member of our Women on Fire inner circle, enjoy this tasty preview of what’s already coming to you early in August!

If you aren’t yet a member and want to receive this electrifying Women on Fire exclusive, make sure to join us today!

You have until Friday, July 31. Less than 24 hours left to register in time!

This just might be our favorite interview Debbie has ever recorded, and we’ve been lucky enough to hear the whole thing.

Trust us, you don’t want to miss this. 🙂


The Women on Fire team

P.S. We’re already gearing up for September’s Live Master Class and Chat for members with Debbie on September 15 at 8:00 p.m. EST. She’s going to give you all the tips and tools you need to end your year strong.

If you’ve lost speed this summer and want to gain momentum for the fall, make sure to tune in!

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6 kinds of support that can change everything!

If you’re super busy right now, all you have to do is read the quote below and you’ll know how to make your dreams happen:

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”  Helen Keller

6 Kinds of Support That Can Change Everything-
Women on Fire (and two amazing Men on Fire!) gathered on Martha’s Vineyard a week ago for group Vision Day and supported each other’s dreams and aspirations. (Photo by Shawn Jones)

Helen Keller was right. Whatever great mountain you are attempting to scale, you can’t do it alone. Today I’ll share a few observations about going on your journey with others — and why it matters.

But first …

We have hundreds of first-time readers this week after you “liked” our Women on Fire Facebook fan page. Welcome! (If you’re a long-time reader and haven’t yet “liked” our page, we hope you will go to Facebook now!:-)

Women on Fire is a community like no other. We will cheer you on and inspire you to go for your dreams, and we’ll listen and support you when life feels hard.

So, last weekend …

It was such a magnificent two days with Women on Fire sharing and supporting each other that it was hard to say goodbye!

After everyone left, plans in hand for their futures, I sat in our living room on Martha’s Vineyard; the energy still vibrated from the weekend’s activities.

The magic of the group being together was like jet fuel to each person’s dreams lifting off.  Being together made a difference.

Women on Fire Stephanie Dalfonzo and Sheryl Snyder — making their visions and dreams happen! (Photos by Rob Berkley)

And while we always love it when you come to work with us at Vision Day, you also can create your own circle of support for taking the next steps in your life.

One way to do that is to invite several caring, trusted people to come together. Create a plan and set a time for each person to share their biggest dream and the obstacles standing in their way.

Here’s why it’s important to work in a community and the kinds of support best provided in a group:

1) Your best thinking is magnified. When you have other smart people who have your best interests at heart, asking you thoughtful questions and showing an interest in you and your desires, your potential and your success expands.

Rochelle Togo-Figa and Laura Tiberi supporting each other’s dreams and goals

2) The collective energy of a group is like an electrical jolt to your system. As one weekend participant said, “my engine had been idling and now I feel like I’m in drive!”

3) Resources. You need a bookkeeper? A book agent? A software system to run your business? Make any request for a resource in your group, and it’s likely someone will have an answer, a contact, an idea, a resource for you. And better yet most of the resources will have been vetted for you ahead of time so you have a better chance of success.

4) Comfort. Life is complex. When the going is tough and you have your “lady gang” with you, as Woman on Fire Meredith Schoenberger calls it, you will feel relief and comfort knowing you will be supported and helped along your path by many people.

Dyana Robenalt and Carole Murko motivating each other with a pinky swear!

5) Motivation. Sharing your dreams makes them real. When you say them out loud and create strategies to make them happen, you feel motivated to take the next steps. There is nothing like being accountable to others who you care for to motivate  you toward success.

Jenifer Madson, Woman on Fire member and author of numerous books, including her latest Head To Heart, said she was motivated to write her first book because she had told a group of Women on Fire she was going to do it! So she “darn well better do it.”  And she did — again and again!

6) Laughter.  I once read, “sometimes crying or laughing are the only options left, and laughing always feels better.”  When you have a team behind you to laugh with, and struggle of going it alone fades, your load will lighten. Laughing alone just doesn’t quite have the same effect.

“There is little success where there is little laughter,” said Andrew Carnegie.

Those are just a few of the many reasons to join forces with others to achieve your dreams. Plus, when you give of yourself and help others succeed with their dreams, you take your mind off of your own issues — and that can be enormously rewarding and freeing.

As you move forward, you are invited to join us for our next 10-member group Vision Day on October 10-11, 2014 on Martha’s Vineyard.  (Contact for details.)

Or, bring your own circle together. Going it alone is just too hard.

Which will it be for you?

Have a great week!


Debbie Signature

P.S. I will see monthly members on the LIVE CHAT this Tuesday night! Topic: Less Struggle, More Success: 7 Ways To Simplify Your Life.

If you’re not yet a member, no worries! You can join today and participate in our popular, monthly coaching chat.

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7 Ways To Be A Woman on Fire

I hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend!  Rob and I took it easy on Martha’s Vineyard, played with Wilber, went for walks, hung out with friends, and cooked using Rob’s new sous-vide machine. Yum!

Here is a picture from the weekend as Spring unfolds on our island and another snap from brunch at our favorite restaurant, State Road.

Because so many of you are joining the SPARK! today for the very first time, I made a short video just to say hello. We are so happy you’re here!

Today’s SPARK! centers around the core tenets of being a Woman on Fire — and strategies for you to be your best so abundance flows more easily to you.

But first …

After coaching women one-on-one for many years, and hearing how alone they often felt going through life, I started Women on Fire more than 10 years ago to bring women together.

I had been fortunate to experience first-hand with my best friend Jan Allen and other encouraging women in my life how together we could do so much more than what we could on our own.

Realizing what a powerful impact sisterhood had on me, my dream was that all women should have the inspiration, strategies and support they need for their own lives.

At the core of Women on Fire is a philosophy that we live by. And, it serves us well on the journey to our dreams and goals and in our support of others to have theirs.

Because so many of you are new — and it’s always good to have a refresher for those of us who’ve been here for a while — today we’re going to talk about the 7 Ways To Be A Woman on Fire.

*This week’s Pinspiration*

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7 ways #1

Living according to these success principles will add magic to your life. Even if you focus on only one of these strategies right now, you just may see surprising results in your life!

1) Do you cheer on the successes of other women?

When you notice another woman doing well, meeting her goals, achieving something exciting, do you praise her? Do you go out of your way to let her know she did something special?

Your authentic praise, appreciation and support can be jet fuel to someone struggling toward their dreams. (And even when it looks easy, any goal worthwhile is never easy. We all struggle!)

Sometimes we only see our progress when we hear it genuinely articulated from others. One of our Women on Fire experts Nancy Aronie reminded us of the importance of praise: “I’m a gusher. And I think it’s really important to be a gusher. We have a lot of withholding in this culture…just don’t hold back.

“We’re all kind of straving. I don’t care how succesful and how big and great your life is, it really feels nice when someone says something beautiful to you.”

And, please, never, ever respond to someone’s success, joy or achievement by saying this to them.

2) Do you invest in yourself and your potential?

Years ago a client told me that she was struggling that her company paid $1,500 a month for her coaching. She wasn’t even paying for it herself, and yet she felt unworthy for the expense to increase her potential.

She admitted that she personally spent even more each month than her coaching fee on clothes, make-up and skin treatments.

Nothing wrong with that at all, but it is important to balance investing in yourself to include training, education, experience, coaching, therapy, self-care, etc. so that you continue to grow and develop as a human being.

How are you doing with investing in yourself? By expanding your potential, you set an example and inspire your family, colleagues and friends.

3) Do you ask for help?

The single biggest struggle that I hear from both men and women is asking for help. Often, we don’t even consider “asking for help” as an option.

These are just a few reasons to ask for help: it might solve your problem quicker; it can create closer relationships when people help you; it takes a burden off your shoulders.

Reasons we don’t ask for help: it feels vulnerable; we’re not sure how or who to ask; or we don’t even consider asking.

Just for fun this week, what is your thorniest issue and who might you ask for help from?  See what happens and let us know!

4) Are you aware of your powerful impact on others?

We forget just how strong and mighty we are. A look, a word, a glance from us can either let someone know they are loved, respected and appreciated — or not.

Being very mindful of hurtful words, negative body language or disapproving, withering glances allows you to be at choice and thoughtful in expressing your powerful impact positively.

How to accept your power? Think about who it is that you may be relating negatively you and practice being clear and direct with compassion. See what happens.

5) Do you honor, recognize and appreciate those who support you?

In my office, I have an icon of four turtles, each one smaller than the previous one, stacked on top of each other. It sits there to remind me that I am always standing on someone else’s back!

Do you know on whose backs you stand? Have you thanked them?  Maybe it was a neighbor growing up who helped you stay safe; a teacher who took extra time to inspire you; or an aunt who was a role model.

In your work right now, who has made a difference for you, helped you to believe in yourself? Today’s a good time to appreciate them!

6) Do you play big?

Or do you play small? Do you shy away from taking the lead? Do you minimize your accomplishments by saying things such as “anyone can do that” or “it’s no big deal”?

As Marianne Williamson wrote so eloquently, “Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.”

The next time you are about to do something, ask yourself what would happen if you “supersized” it? What would happen if you played BIG?

7) Do you compare yourself to others?

Comparing yourself to others is one of the most damaging ways to hurt and hold yourself back.

If you compare your life to others, you will never win. And you’ll be depressed. There will always be someone smarter, wealthier, thinner, more accomplished and with more adorable children than yours!

The only way to win on this one is to compare yourself to how you are doing with your own dreams and goals. Let that be the measure.

Unhappy people compare themselves to others; happy people compare themselves to their own standards.

From here on out, as a Woman on Fire, allow yourself be that happy person! And let me know how these strategies work out for you.


Thank you for being a part of this community.  If you’re new or you’ve been meaning to join us, please check out our monthly membership program and the oodles of goodies that will come your way, in addition to the weekly SPARK!

Have a great week and I’ll see you on Facebook and back here next week.


Debbie Signature


What would you do with an entire day to yourself?

Are you often so busy and obligated that you never have a day just for yourself?  What if you were totally unscheduled?  How would your 24 hours flow and what would that do for you?

I woke up yesterday realizing that while I have a to-do list the size of California, I didn’t really have to do anything or be anywhere the entire day.

Rob was attending a retreat in the Catskills and I was home alone with Wilber.

So, I thought ‘hmmmm, what if I do only what I want all day long?’ What a concept!

*This week’s Pinspiration*

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Tell Your To-Do List to TAKE A SEAT- Women On Fire[pinit]

So, here’s my diary. And what it did for my spirit when the day was over:-)

5AM — Wilber meows and knocks my watch off the bedstand (in case there was any doubt I was still asleep;-) I feed him and decide to go back to bed and sleep until I wake up.

9:04AM — I wake up and can’t remember the last time I slept past 7AM. I think about working out and then read this on Facebook and decide to scrap that idea;-)

I stay in my pajamas.

I brew a pot of my favorite Almond Joy coffee, a gift from our beloved friends Jerome and Theresa TocioRob prefers French roast and refers to my Almond Joy as  “stinky coffee.”  It smells up the house in a way that must not be pleasing to him.  But he’s not home!  So the house now smells Heavenly to me.

11AM — Take an outdoor shower — in the rain!

11:45AM  –Went to the local Farmer’s Market and bought flowers and cupcakes

1PM — Visited our little rural post office (and was rewarded with some birthday surprises. Thanks, Mom!)

2PM –Returned home. Caught up on a stack of magazines that included everything from The Ohio State Alumni Magazine to Vanity Fair.

2:30PM — Ate last night’s leftovers, which were better than the original dinner!

4PM — Visited friends who recently remodeled this beautiful home on Martha’s Vineyard and savored the time with them.

5:30PM — Went shopping and bought gifts for a friend who’s having a baby girl any minute now!

7PM — Enjoyed dinner alone outdoors in a little French cafe on Martha’s Vineyard and people-watched! Returned home and had fun arranging a bouquet of hydrangeas.

8:30PM — Laughed through an episode of the hilarious sitcom Arrested Development on Netflix.  I’m still on Season 1 and find the wacky Bluth family totally irresistible!

I re-watched a Bruce Springsteen video where Woman on Fire Kacy Cook, wearing blue, is just over Bruce’s shoulder throughout a good portion of it starting at the 3:20 mark. So fun!

9:30PM — Indulged in a bedtime snack — and ate a cupcake.

9:45PM  Lights out. Zzzzzzz…

I woke up today feeling so content, healthy, and happy to be alive.  I believe jumping “off the treadmill” for a day and going with my flow helped me to recapture and reset my energy and spirit.

When was the last time you spent a day doing exactly what you want?

Even if you have kids, maybe you can trade time off with a friend or arrange for care so you can have a bonus day.

I was so inspired with my free day that at least once a month, I’m going to schedule myself an unscheduled day!

I’ll see you next week with our monthly feature on what Women on Fire are up to! Email with your news.

Have a sparkly good week — and enjoy the holiday!

It’s Nature’s Way

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” ~ Rachel Carson in Silent Spring

A big hug and a big welcome to you — and to our many new readers.

You are joining a circle of women who will inspire and support you to have what you dream of in your life!  How cool is that?

I hope this long weekend is giving you a chance to relax, have fun, and recharge your batteries.  We’re sure doing that here on Martha’s Vineyard.

Wilber the cat and I took a three-hour nap yesterday.

I don’t remember that ever happening for that long, and even then, I only woke up because he was snoring so loudly!

So, I’m catching up on some much needed rest and I hope you are, too.

To bring in the new season coming soon, in next week’s SPARK! we’ll discuss Breathing New Life Into Your Home for Summer.

Trudy Dujardin, an expert in eco-elegant interior design (and, of course, a Women on Fire member!) will share easy, inexpensive tips and strategies to add  new life  to your home and office for the summer.

If you haven’t already, be sure to sign up to receive Trudy’s Holistic House blog. You’ll stay inspired and motivated all year long to keep your home and environment healthy and beautiful for you and your family.

In the meantime, I thought you might enjoy what I’ve been oooohing and ahhhhing over the past couple of days.

I’ve sprinkled pictures into today’s SPARK! of the incredible natural beauty everywhere I look on Martha’s Vineyard.

My talented husband Rob Berkley took all the photos you see here with his new camera, the Fuji X100S.

Rob loves his Fuji because it is light and small yet takes images that rival the larger model cameras he has been lugging around for years.

(If you’re a photo bug or you have one in your family, this particular camera makes a great Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, birthday, any-time-of-the-year gift!)

I hope you will be as dazzled as I am by these gifts of nature.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.  We’re about to throw burgers on the grill, pour glasses of my favorite club soda with splashes of orange and cranberry juice, and stare out into our lush backyard.

And, I will keep in mind the wisdom of writer Jane Austen:  May you sit in the shade on this fine day, and look upon nature as the most perfect refreshment.

Thank you for being a part of this powerful community of amazing women, and I will see you back here next week!

What our women are “on fire” about!


Everyone is gone and I’m sitting in the quiet for a few minutes …and letting the fun of the weekend settle over me.

After Thanksgiving,  conversation continued with our family of close friends enjoying breakfast and each other’s company on Martha’s Vineyard. Clockwise from top: Ellen Wingard, Patricia Seeman, Lisa Arundale, Shannon McCaffery, Holly Getty, Robert Joerger, Rob Berkley and me! (Photo by Edward Beck)

I hope your holiday weekend was filled with love and connection. Mine sure was and I am deeply grateful for the “family” I am surrounded by even though none were my biological relatives.

I hope you, too, have in your life a circle of loved ones you can really count on and feel supported and uplifted by.

This week’s SPARK! is our monthly review of what our fabulous Women on Fire are up to. This is the place to share how you’re doing with your dreams; what is new in your life; or just an update for how things are going.

Congratulations to each one of you! It is thrilling to hear your news and to know how diligently you worked to get where you are:

Sarah Elizabeth with her mothers Connie Greer and Sue Dohner after their debut in BIO-HAZARD: A Relative Comedy in New York City.  (Photo by Holly Getty)

Sarah Elizabeth Greer of New York City launched her long-awaited, much anticipated play on Theater Row in New York City with a single performance and within days won the BEST COMEDY Award at the United Solo Festival!

Sarah writes:
“My goal was to write and perform a comedy about the hazard of being found by my biological mother, and call it BIO-HAZARD: A Relative Comedy — and then invite both of my mothers to join me onstage to help me perform it.

“So, I created a Kickstarter Campaign and with the generous help of our one and only dear Debbie and other incredible Women on Fire like the brilliant and hilarious Kacy Cook, who just happens to be one of the funniest women on the planet (and who also took a stab at editing one of the early incarnations of the play) — as well as the generosity of the extraordinarily talented Janina Sebesky and Regina Weichert, I raised $18,000 and entered my script into the International United Solo Festival, which is the largest solo festival in the world.

“There were several Women on Fire in the audience, all of whom I share such a deep connection.  My dear friend Linda Yellin (whose incredible sense of funny inspires me weekly) with her husband Randy Arthur, beautiful Holly Getty, Janina and Regina were all there to cheer us on!

“Five days later, I was informed that my play had won BEST COMEDY of the festival!”

Actress and best-selling author Christina Haag of New York City is starring in the film Half Brother, which begins shooting in December.

She is the author the beautifully written, New York Times’ best-selling book, Come To The Edge, a deeply touching memoir of her romantic relationship with the late John F. Kennedy, Jr.

You may have met Christina at a Women on Fire tea in New York. Or you may  recognize her from some of her guest starring roles on shows such as ER, Law and Order, Boston Public, Heroes, Providence, among others, and starring roles on the stage and in independent features.

Jordan Edelheit jumping for joy at her success of her TWO big dreams!

Jordan Edelheit of Columbus, Ohio attended the Women on Fire Day in Columbus last year along with 25 other Ohio State University students and a tea last Spring led by Jan Allen and was inspired to launch two dreams!

Jordan writes:
“There were two parts to my Women on Fire dream. One was my desire to work within the prison system and to help share the often untold stories of the incarcerated.

“The second was a road trip that I was planning on embarking on over the summer. The two following videos represent summaries of these very different dreams coming true!

“Here is the 90-second promo video of the TEDxMarionCorrectional event, an amazing compilation of footage from a single day’s event at the prison that was more powerful than almost anything else that I have attended.

“I was recently given the opportunity to talk about my project that I created this summer at TEDxYouth@Columbus. It turned out to be an experience that took place in seven weeks and in 8344 miles to seek out over 140 change-makers. Here is the link to my TEDx talk and my dreams coming true.”

Laurie Forster of Easton, Maryland will bring her comedy act to The City Winery in New York City on January 9, 2013.

And, you are invited!  Seats are limited and advance purchase is suggested. You also can view her videos here.

An original Woman on Fire and co-author of the Women on Fire book, Laurie is best known as The Wine Coach®. She said in a recent Women on Fire members’  interview that wine may be the vehicle but helping people to have fun in life is her real mission!


Beth Kloesener of Saginaw, Michigan will partner with Northwood University to provide career services for their adult degree and MBA students at campuses based in Michigan, Texas and Florida.

Laura Tiberi of Delaware, Ohio listened to her intuition about coming to the Women on Fire Retreat in Chicago and it was a good thing she stayed home!  Her grandson Parker Matthew was born on Oct. 28.

We missed you, Laura, but were glad you didn’t miss Parker’s birth! Congratulations to you and your family.

Dr. Robyn Silverman of Mount Freedom, New Jersey has been invited by Parenting Magazine to be a member of their 2013 “Dream Team” Expert Editorial Advisory Board.

An author, speaker, coach and educator, Dr. Robyn will be called upon by the magazine to share her expertise about parenting, child development, body image and character education.

She frequently discusses these issues as a guest expert on NBC’s Today Show.


Just in time for holiday gift-giving to the little ones in your family, Rosi Amador of Cambridge, Massachusetts and her family have narrated and composed music for two new bilingual children’s audiobooks.

Congratulations, everyone.  It is inspiring to see the dreams of women in our community coming true!

Wishing you a great week ahead and I hope you make progress on something important to you in your life this week.

I’m about to dive into a 21-day cleanse to end the year in even better shape than I began it.  I start it tomorrow with the talented, holistic health coach Amy Marzluff.

Wish me luck and feel free to comment on the Women on Fire success stories above or your own experience with a cleanse by commenting here!

What’s hot with Women on Fire!

When I started Women on Fire in 2003 I had an inkling the “rising tide” of women coming together, inspiring and supporting each other would “lift all boats.”

I just had no idea of how much fun it would be!

This past weekend many Women on Fire came to Martha’s Vineyard to enjoy an evening with RoseMarie Terenzio, author of Fairy Tale Interrupted, her best-selling book about her life as John F. Kennedy Jr.’s personal assistant and publicist.

Celebrating with the dynamic and entertaining RoseMarie Terenzio!

Rose was recently featured as a Women on Fire members’ CD interview and her touching book was our monthly Books To Live By selection.

Women on Fire who attended included:  Kacy Cook, Jamie Eslinger, Holly Getty, Anne Gallagher, Belleruth Naparstek, Jan Orosz, Elaine Pace, Pam Putney, Lisa Umberger Arundale, Suzi Schadle and Ellen Wingard.

In sharing her engaging stories of life with and after JFK Jr., Rose is a powerful example of strength and perserverance after tragedy. (Photos by Rob Berkley)

If you haven’t yet read Fairy Tale Interrupted, I highly recommend this memoir for its triumphant story of life, love and loss.

And, that brings me to another favorite moment of my month — celebrating in today’s SPARK! the recent dreams, goals, successes and accomplishments of women in our community.

I love sharing what you are “on fire” about so we can support you and cheer you on.  Please keep us posted!

Kacy Cook with the subject of her next book — Bruce Springsteen’s popular saxophone player Clarence Clemons, in a photo taken only weeks before Clarence died.

Kacy Cook, Columbus, Ohio ~ Author and editor Kacy Cook is working on the authorized biography of the Big Man himself, Clarence Clemons.

Kacy met Bruce Springsteen’s famous sideman in 1985 during the “Born in the USA” tour, and over the years developed a friendship that crossed paths when the band was on the road.

As her interests became more focused on writing, the two discussed the possibility of her writing Clarence’s biography.  The idea took root late in 2009, and Kacy began the research and interviews.

When Clarence died in June 2011, Kacy at first found it difficult to imagine continuing the work without him.  But she soon realized how important it is to finish the labor of love they began together.

About her upcoming book, yet untitled, Kacy says:

Clarence always said that his purpose in life was to bring joy and light to the world … and he certainly did that!  I want to continue to expand that legacy on his behalf.

“People who are familiar only with his work with Bruce and the E Street Band will be amazed to find out how truly big the life of the Big Man was. I am honored to have the opportunity, the gift of bringing this to others.”

Kacy edited the Women on Fire book and also will edit the upcoming Women on Fire book 2.  You can visit her at her website to stay posted.

Anne Gallagher receiving Inspiration Award for her dedication to the arts

Anne Gallagher, Martha’s Vineyard ~ After dedicating a lifetime to her passion for art, Anne has been selected as the first recipient of the Inspiration Award from the Wendy Taucher Dance Opera Theater.

From spending her allowance on her first piece of art at age 12 to 20 years of lectures at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston to her current involvement in the vibrant Featherstone Center for the Arts community on Martha’s Vineyard, Anne has not only held onto her childhood passion, but provides many opportunities for others to enjoy and appreciate art.

Dr. Elvira V. Lang, Boston ~ An interventional radiologist affiliated with Harvard, Elvira was recently featured in the New York Times’ article “When Health’s at Stake, Waiting Is Hardest Part” by Jan Hoffman.

Elvira, CEO of Hypnalgesics and author of Patient Sedation Without Medication, has studied the effects of stress on cortisol levels and teaches medical professionals how to alleviate patients’ stress through breathing exercises and letting go of unhelpful thoughts.

Lowering a patient’s stress level can quicken recovery time and keep side effects minimal as well as strengthen the doctor-patient relationship and give patients a more positive medical experience. Elvira is a pioneer in training medical professionals to provide this kind of attention to patient care.

With my beloved Anne Thurston-Brandly at an event in Alpena, Michigan in 2011 (Photo by Jamie Eslinger)

Anne Thurston-Brandly, Boyne, Michigan ~ Ever delightful, refreshing and surprising, Anne, 89, is the oldest in age and youngest of heart in our Women on Fire community!

Her news is that she will become a columnist for Women2Women Magazine — and she will be featured on the cover of the January/February 2013 issue!

A mother of four and in her 70s a mother to three grandchildren, Anne also writes a blog.  She is the author of the book E-Males to provide inspiration and encouragement to older men and women to date online.

And if you think she’s not busy enough, she also is a columnist for the Boyne (Michigan) Gazette — and recently married a younger man, Ray, 85!

Jessika with contestants in the Ms. Wheelchair America Pageant in Providence, RI
Jessika Ferm, Columbus, Ohio ~ Jessika was honored to give a keynote presentation at the Ms. Wheelchair Amerca Pageant earlier this month.

Author of The Ballroom Dance Coach, Jessika is also an executive coach who dedicates her career to helping business professional enhance their leadership skills and on-the-job effectiveness.

Congratulations to all of you — and many, many more of you in our community — for following your dreams!

And, finally …

Women on Fire weren’t the only ones eager to meet RoseMarie Terenzio when she came to Martha’s Vineyard.  Wilber was the first one to line up to get a book signed;-)

Have a fabulous week!

As summer closes in…a feast

Is your summer starting to wind down?

We live in the mecca of summer vacationers – Martha’s Vineyard.  The head count here right now is about 115,000 people when normally the population is roughly 15,000.

(It used to worry me that we could sink into the ocean in summers but I’ve been assured we won’t!)

So even though our island is bursting to the shores with visitors, in only another week or two, everyone will go home and back to school and all will become quiet again on the home front.

Until then, my husband Rob and I are soaking up these last summer days with close friends, including visiting and local Women on Fire and Vision Day guests.

Women on Fire at breakfast this weekend on Martha’s Vineyard! From left:  Jamie Eslinger, Suzi Schadle, Michelle Whittaker, me! and Lisa Umberger Arundale. (Photo by Zan Schmidt)

One of this past week’s many highlights was Women on Fire member Phoebe Lapine coming over and preparing the most elegant, delicious lunch to celebrate the summer.

Phoebe with her luscious creation!

Phoebe is based in New York City and is a cookbook author, food writer and private chef and we love her – and I love sharing her talent in our Women on Fire community!

Check out her blog at Feed Me Phoebe.

She made a Salmon Cobb Salad and we paired it with a twist on another Woman on Fire Debi Lilly’s refreshing summer drink recipe – Watermelon Mint Muddles.

Phoebe and I say cheers to the Muddle! Thank you, Debi Lilly.

I am always on the lookout for entertaining tips and food ideas that are healthy, easy, beautiful and FUN. (Phoebe certainly hit every one of those buttons with her Salmon Cobb Salad… and she even did the grocery shopping! Thank you, Phoebe.)

Phoebe preparing lunch. (Photos by Rob Berkley)

I’m pretty sure after watching Phoebe I can duplicate this gorgeous salad. And, if I can, you certainly can, too!

Here are the ingredients for Phoebe’s Salmon Cobb Salad:

Grilled wild salmon, salad greens, purple basil, hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes, avocadoes, fresh corn raw sliced off the cob, crispy bacon.

Simple and elegant — one dish shared among six guests.

In addition to Phoebe using fresh and organic ingredients, what truly made this salad outstanding was Phoebe’s yummy Creamy Dill Dressing drizzled over the greens and the salmon.

Creamy Dill Dressing (from Phoebe’s blog)
Makes about 1 cup

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill leaves
8 ounces plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 garlic clove
1 small shallot
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

In a small food processor, combine all the ingredients and pulse until finely chopped. Add 2 tablespoons water and puree until the mixture is very smooth. Depending on the consistency you like your creamy dressing, add more water to thin it out.

Summer fun with dear friends — Jamie Eslinger, Phoebe Lapine, Robert Joerger, Edward Beck, Rob and me. Hope you will visit us when you come to Martha’s Vineyard! You never know who you might meet here:-)

Watermelon Mint Muddle

Adaptation from Debi Lilly’s recipe in her book A Perfect Event: Inspired, Easy Elegance for Every Occasion

In a tall glass, fill bottom with watermelon and several sprigs of fresh mint; “muddle” together (I use a wooden spoon).

Then fill with ice; sparkling water (or sparkling wine such as Prosecco). When I use sparkling water, I add a splash of lemonade to give it even more pizzazz!


Phoebe’s masterpiece!

I look forward to seeing a number of you here on Martha’s Vineyard next Friday when RoseMarie Terenzio will read from her best-selling book Fairy Tale Interrupted.  She will discuss her life as John F. Kennedy Jr.’s personal assistant for the last five years of his life and how experiencing that and many other losses has informed her life today.

Rose was the featured interview on the Women on Fire members’ CD a few months ago. I’m so excited many of you will get to meet her as well as other Women on Fire attending!

Have a terrific week. I can’t wait to share lots of inspiring opportunities happening this fall for you!

Are you adding HAPPY to your day?

I keep finding excuses to drive by Mill Pond just so I can look at them again.

“Oh, I don’t mind running to Alley’s General Store to get you a cup of decaf, ” I tell my husband.  “The car needs gas? I’ll go right now and fill it up.”

I’m pretty motivated these days to run errands near our home on Martha’s Vineyard. Especially when I know my destinations will take me down the road, up island, and past Mill Pond, my secret slice of Heaven.

I treasure the beauty of Mill Pond in any season.

Mill Pond on Martha’s Vineyard in the fall (Photos by Rob Berkley)

But this summer, I am completely in love and under the spell of the family who’ve taken up residence at Mill Pond.

The Swan Family.

Here they are…Mr. and Mrs. Swan and their babies

Each day I plot to figure out when I will see them.

Early morning, they may not be up yet; mid-morning they may be crouched hugger mugger in the grass; afternoon they are often paddling about in Mill Pond’s inky waters; and by dusk they are never seen, surely tucked for the night somewhere on the edge of the pond?

What is it about a mama swan, a daddy swan and their half dozen babies that has captured my attention?

To be correct about it all, mama Swan is called a pen; daddy Swan is a cob;  and the babies are cygnets.

The fuzzy-wuzzy cygnets of Mill Pond

I am so enamored with them that it’s made me wonder why these creatures give me such joy.

Does the Swan Family remind me of when I was a little girl and the five of us siblings were always sandwiched between and protected by our parents – just as these baby swans are?

Is it like reality TV?  Driving by each day I get to see this feathered family live out its life as their babies grow and change.  No two views of the family are ever alike. You never know what part of the pond you’ll see them in or what formation they’ll be in.

Yet, unlike reality TV, the Swans appear to have their act together – everyone seems happy and content!

Or, maybe it’s none of that.  Maybe it just simply makes me happy to see nature at its finest – a swan family paddling about day-after-day in a spectacularly gorgeous pond.

Babies growing by leaps, the Swan Family paddling about (Photo by Regina Blos)

Over the weekend, Woman on Fire member Trudy Dujardin and I were discussing the elements of a perfect day during Vision Day.   And, we came upon the idea that to live a fulfilled life every single day it’s necessary to include something “happy-making.”

So for now, in my own perfect-day plan, that guaranteed happy-making event is surely to fetch my husband a cup of decaf. 😉

Is there something “happy making” that you do in your day? I’d love to hear about it!

Pick yourself!

I’m writing to you from my coziest chair on Martha’s Vineyard!

We just arrived here after my husband Rob and I, along with Wilber, our 17-pound cat, spent the winter in Florida.

Wilber has made the Great Migration South and then back North so often that he receives JetPaws frequent flyer points.  And, he is apparently so excited to be home that he is on my lap right now trying to take over the keyboard!

It feels great to be home and to now get ready for a number of you coming to the Vineyard in the next few months for vacation and your Vision Days!

Before I share highlights from my inspiring time with best-selling author, marketing guru and business/life strategist Seth Godin last week, I want mention a sadness within our Women on Fire community.

And, to express my deepest sorrow to at least two Women on Fire who were close friends with Mary Richardson Kennedy.

Mary was the wife of Robert Kennedy Jr. and the mom of four children, ages 11-17, who died tragically last week.  It is a horrible to hear about … let alone experience when you are friends or family of someone who takes his or her own life.

Friends and family survivors of suicide are often plagued with unrelenting  thoughts of  “Why?” and feelings of anger and guilt.

For any of you who are survivors of a loved one’s suicide and struggling, I highly recommend Alan Wolfelt’s Understanding Your Suicide Grief: 10 Essential Touchstones for Finding Hope and Healing Your Heart.

For you who were directly affected by Mary’s terrible death, on behalf of all of us, may you be surrounded with love and understanding and comfort in grieving this loss.  We are with you.

So now I have a question…

Who or what do you turn to when you need a jolt of inspiration for new ideas and learning?

I have a number of go-to people, as you know.  They range from spiritual leaders — Marianne Williamson, Deepak Chopra, Thich Nhat Hahn and Edward Beck — to thought leaders — Gloria Steinem, Warren Bennis, Barbara Sher and Seth Godin.

Some of you may know of Seth, famous for his Purple Cow theory.  To be successful, he urges us all to find ways to be REMARKABLE … like a purple cow would be!

Last week Rob and I spent the day with Seth in New York at his conference creatively titled “Pick Yourself.”

Rob has worked with Seth in the past.  And, the night before the conference we attended a very fun, private dinner with him.

Seth is such a good sport. I’ve been told by my friend Mark Henson that stroking Seth’s head is worth seven years of good luck!

Here are seven gems of wisdom I learned or heard in a fresh way by being with Seth:

1) Technology is evolving and it is destroying the Industrial Age. The new economy is about CONNECTION. What do you have to offer that a certain group of people (your tribe) will absolutely love?  Keep in mind most people won’t care what you have to offer; some will even hate it; but your tribe will not be able to get enough of it!

2) Three skills necessary to possess in the Connection Economy:  fundamental skills; understanding strategy and the big picture; being willing to get knocked down and get back up again.

3) Are you doing work you are so passionate about that you are willing to fail at it … or be arrested for it?

4) To succeed, you must dance on the edge. Ask yourself what scares you? What are you afraid of?  And, go dance on the edge of that. Because once you do, then you put your fear behind you and you make leaps forward.  Know what it is that holds you back, because it is your growth opportunity.

5) Be extreme in your dedication to yourself and your work and your organization. Travel lightly.  Carry little in your backpack in order to run faster.

6) Forget mentors. Instead find heroes and emulate them. If you need support or to learn particular skills and strategies, hire a coach.

7) Do not wait for someone to select you to do the thing you want to do. You must pick yourself!

I’d love to hear how you stay current with your own learning and inspiration!