Let’s take a joyride!

Happy day to you celebrating Easter and Passover — and births and birthdays!

Easter with my great-niece Kinsley!

There is a lot of joy in our Women on Fire community so today we’re going to celebrate a sampling of it.

At a tea in Naples earlier this year, Woman on Fire Julie Shepardson of Oviedo, Florida inspired us all with her theme “Year of the Joyride!”  Love that, Julie, and hope you don’t mind me borrowing for today;-)

Happy birthday, Woman on Fire Mandy Pratt of Boise, Idaho with the double blessing of your special day falling on Easter.

Happy birthday on your big day this weekend to wonderful Carolyn Ellis of Toronto, Canada. To dear Nancy Neal of Greenville, South Carolina. And, love to my own mother (Women on Fire member #00001!) Mary Lue Phillips, of Huntsville, Alabama who celebrates being eternally young on Monday!

Big congratulations to Amy Laine and her husband James of Columbus, Ohio on the birth of their daughter Ava Louise this past week.

Amy attended a Women on Fire tea in Columbus last fall and learned a few days later she was having a baby girl.  She sent me an email I will always cherish, rejoicing that her growing baby was coming into the world surrounded by “women who will make her feel powerful!”

And, it was a year ago, that many of you commented on “Hello, Baby Girl,” the SPARK! I wrote when my first great-niece Kinsley, was born prematurely to Ryan and Sarah Ausley of Nashville. Even though Kinsley had great care, it was a harrowing time for all of us.

What a joyous difference a year makes!

Here is Kinsley at Christmas. She’s healthy, strong and growing beautifully. And, she has already developed a taste for pearls.

And, here is Kinsley today as she celebrates her first birthday on Easter with all of our family.

Kinsley with mom and dad Sarah and Ryan Ausley.

Kinsley waiting for cake on her first birthday.

I know many of you are celebrating all kinds of wonderful events and milestones. Please share the joy in your life in the comments section belowso we can all take a joyride together!

Wishing you a delightful week ahead ~


P.S. The cake finally came. It was the first time Kinsley ever ate chocolate, and from the looks of it probably not the last!!

Kinsley reflecting on the joy of chocolate!

Hello, baby girl!

Have you ever been caught in a whirlwind of a week where life changed – and you changed with it?

Maybe someone died; maybe someone was born?  Maybe you lost your job; were in an accident; or inherited a big sum of money you hadn’t expected?

A week ago, I left my home thinking I was only  going to Huntsville, Alabama to celebrate my mother’s 77th birthday.

But a life-changing surprise happened while I was there!  And, it catapulted me to look at life in a very new way and I want to share it with you.

It all started when my youngest sister Susan became a grandmother. (My little sister!) That made my mother a great-grandmother and me a great aunt!

Kinsley Grace Ausley was so very welcomed into our world, but she was not expected to show up on Monday, April 11.

The OB-GYN Travel Agency had scheduled her to arrive around May 15.  So April 11 was a wee bit early for all her systems to be operating at full speed, and her immediate, first stop was the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

I will never again take lightly the words: “we are just hoping for a healthy baby.”   To see a beautiful new baby struggle to breathe is beyond sobering.

Each day since Kinsley’s birth I’ve eagerly awaited – and have been blessed  with — reports of improvement.  Yet, my heart aches thinking of those of you who’ve told me about your stillborn, premature or sick babies and what you’ve gone through.

The fragility of life never seemed more poignant to me than Kinsley’s this past week in the NICU at Baptist Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee.

My niece Sarah Ausley in the NICU holding her new daughter Kinsley for the first time.

After a few days on oxygen, a feeding tube and special healing lights for jaundice, our Kinsley (who fortunately weighed seven pounds at birth) is well on her way to the bouncing baby girl she is meant to be.

Kinsley, 5 days old, stylin’ with her shades in the NICU under healing lights…definitely on her way to becoming a Woman on Fire!

And, in honor of this first baby girl born into my family in 22 years, I’d like to share with you my letter to her:

Dearest Kinsley ~

I am so deeply honored to be your great aunt.

You have been born into a family of strong, loving, capable, beautiful, smart women who are thrilled you are here.

I am told that more than half of your generation will live to be 100 years old (and without the aches and pains of people living to 100 today!)  How great is that?

My dream is that you will live your life turning cartwheels over all the things you are passionate about!

I wish for you to celebrate – and be celebrated for — your unique gifts, strengths and talents so that you will never doubt your purpose on this Earth.

May you to be surrounded by, loved and cheered on by your family and your friends — and make sure to do the same for them.

I hope in your most difficult moments you will ask for help and see that it is a sign of strength, not weakness, to reach out.

Oh, and this is big: Let your light shine!!

You will never be “too big for your britches.” (That’s an old-fashioned term when people tried to keep others from living their potential full out! Can you believe that?)

Remember that you are always perfect just as you are.

Embrace your beauty, your body, your mind and your ability to make a difference in the world.  You have made an enormous difference in mine already.  I feel both a sense of urgency and a renewed passion for my life and work with our Women on Fire community (of which you are now the youngest member!)

I saw your vibrant, fighting spirit from birth. I know you will carry on and join the force-field of women, in particular, who will truly change and create a more loving, gentle, inspiring world.  I predict that will happen in your lifetime.

I love you with all my heart,

Aunt Debbie

P.S.  In case no one has told you yet, your wonderful Daddy is a professional chef and your phenomenal Mommy is a dental hygienist.  You will surely  grow up eating the yummiest meals and having the healthiest, whitest teeth!

For all of you Women on Fire, thank you for sharing this powerful moment in my family’s life. If you would like to say hello to Kinsley and share any words of wisdom, I would love it. Just head down to the comments section of this blog. I will ask Kinsley’s parents Sarah and Ryan to read your words to her!