California Dreamin’

An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” ~ Benjamin Franklin 

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Hello from Los Angeles!

One of our Women on Fire aspirations is that we dedicate ourselves to learn new things as we move toward our vision, goals, and dreams.

I’ve been in California this week to attend a television training in Hollywood.

Each year, I allocate a set amount of money for my education to learn new skills or brush up on my old ones.

So this has been one of my “education weeks.” (Although I’m always learning something every single day from the Women on Fire in my life! 😉

How about you?

To keep yourself fresh, updated and moving forward toward your dream, do you know what you need or want to learn? Do you have a plan and a budget for your learning?

If not, I hope you’ll consider adding an education plan into your own life — and see what happens for you!

Angela Ittu, Lillian Jensen, Christa Eagleton, Beth Rose, Cristiana Simpson, Debbie Phillips, and Becky Adams

The best part of my California trip, however, was to spend an evening with a few of our West Coast monthly members at the elegant and chic Hollywood hotel – The Redbury.

It’s always my dream-come-true when you meet each other or reconnect to each other at these kinds of gatherings!

There is something so special about the connection and energy when you meet another Woman on Fire in person.

Shannon McCaffery described it best when she said Women on Fire gatherings are “like coming home.”

In California, we laughed, we got teary a few times, and we laughed some more. We relished our time – and our journeys in life together.

What was particularly inspiring is that a number of women were meeting each other for the first time – but you would never have known it!  When like-hearted women meet up, there is magic.

(Photo by Beth Rose)

Along the way, I hope to see you in person!

If you know of another Woman on Fire near you, I hope you’ll consider reaching out to her this week. And make a date to see her in person!

You never know what could happen.  It’s highly likely though that you’ll learn something new – and be uplifted in the process!

Have a great week. And, I will see Women on Fire monthly members in Columbus, Ohio on Thursday!


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She’s A Woman on Fire! Meet Deirdre (Dee) Martin

Welcome back to our ongoing series to introduce you to each other.  She’s a Woman on Fire! member and we want you to know her.  Please say hello to…


Deirdre (Dee) Martin

Plainfield, New Jersey

WOF member: #00158

Member since: January 7, 2013

Please tell us about YOU, your family and your work. What you are “on fire” about?

My family and I love to LAUGH! We have a weekly family prayer call when we all dial in to a conference line from all over the country. I am laughing as I type this because we do everything but pray on that call! We are a close-knit family, and that weekly call just helps us all to stay in touch with one another. Straight COMEDY for one full hour!

Currently, I am the executive assistant to the director of public affairs and safety in Plainfield, New Jersey. I also am the founder and CEO of Assisting Virtually, LLC. In both positions, I provide administrative support for those called to serve others. My paternal grandparents were small-business entrepreneurs and I always knew I would be too. I am ON FIRE about having a growing business while working full time.

How did you originally connect to Women on Fire?

Woman on Fire member Gail Forest introduced me to Women on Fire. She received an email about a Women on Fire Tea in New York City and encouraged me to join. I enjoyed the Facebook page for about a year and then became a member.

What’s your favorite component of the Women on Fire membership?

I love the connection that Debbie Phillips has with each member. I never expected her to have the incredible interaction that she has with us! I love it!

What is your favorite part of the day?

I am a morning girl! I love getting up before the world wakes up and making it HAPPEN before 6 a.m.!

What is the last book you read that you would recommend to other Women on Fire?

It’s actually a Woman on Fire Book Club book that I continuously read: Fairy Tale Interrupted: A Memoir of Life, Love, and Loss by RoseMarie Terenzio. This book reminds me DAILY how important the job of an executive assistant/virtual assistant really is!

What is the one thing you’re most proud of?

I’ve known my calling as an executive assistant/virtual assistant since I was 14 years old. I am proud that I have taken this gift of administration and turned it into a growing business while working a full-time job.

If you had an unexpected free day, how would you spend it?

More than likely, I would spend it hanging out with friends and family or catching up on much needed rest at home. My place is my true sanctuary, and I love spending time at home.

What is your favorite city in the world?

Plainfield, New Jersey. I work here. I live here. I shop here. I love it here!

Share a special Women on Fire moment or experience.

I attended my first Women on Fire event in June 2014 in New York City. The game changed for me that day because of the enthusiasm in the room. My Facebook post the next day was “Watch out, World! Yesterday changed the game… Now I REALLY feel like I can do anything!”

Name another Woman on Fire who has inspired you, and tell why.

Meredith Schoenberger! Her energy is amazing! She’s the SPARK that all Women on Fire need. I feel her energy in every single piece of correspondence that she sends to us.

What’s your big dream?

I would love be the executive assistant to someone “famous.” My other big dream is to expand Assisting Virtually by owning a virtual office space/business center. My virtual office space would offer virtual assistant services, have a prestigious address and offer all the necessary amenities for a professional meeting atmosphere.

If you had the opportunity to teach a child one strategy that would help to guide her life, what would that be?

It would be to follow her passion. Don’t follow money. If you live out your passion, the money will come. I am a living witness to that.

What is something that we might be surprised to learn about you?

I really don’t like taking pictures! LOL!

Name three women who have influenced your life, and what you’ve learned from each.

My paternal grandmother, Lottie Barber Geter: She was the first small-business entrepreneur I knew. She taught me the importance of customer service and knowing your client to determine their needs.

My mother, Phyllis Crews Martin: We found out she was terminally ill when I was 10 years old. She was a champion, and from her I learned how to keep going no matter what.

Geri Schwartz, the first person to hire me as an administrative assistant: She gave me a typing test and said, “OK, you did horrible on that test, but I’ve got a good feeling about you.” I told her, “If you hire me, I promise I won’t let you down.” She did. And I didn’t let her down.

Who cheers you on?

My village: April, Gail, Aretha, Cheryl, Jennie, Andrea, Denise, Charlinda, Alicia, Kim, Lisa, Portia, Rob, Misty, Stephanie, Tammy, Leonard, Pop, Melissa, Dave, Gloria, Gwen, Robbie, Darria.

What is your favorite “pig-out” food?

Lays potato chips and dip.

What are the top three songs on your iPod right now?

Roar”by Katy Perry, “You and I (Nobody in the World)” by John Legend, and “Happy” by Pharrell Williams.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve ever faced? How did you overcome it?

After years of working in the insurance industry, I began my faith journey when I took a $35,000 pay cut and started working for the church. Six months later, the pastor of the church resigned, and we were without a pastor/administrator for a year. I handled all of the day-to-day activities of the church, including being the director of the day care center in the lower level of the church.

I was instrumental in hiring the new pastor, and within a year, he began notifying various church board members that he intended to fire me. I knew a week prior to being terminated that I would be fired. I was devastated. I had given up my corporate job just to be fired from a CHURCH??!!!

I wanted to quit, but I knew deep down inside that I wasn’t supposed to. I met with my own pastor, and he said, “You aren’t the first to be fired and you won’t be the last. Keep going.” So I did. I went to work every day, quietly preparing the church for my termination. I made sure everything was organized for the next person without saying a word to anyone.

Finally, the day came. I put on a RED DRESS, a spring scarf and matching pumps, and off to work I went. Hey, if I was getting fired, I needed at least to be CUTE! I was called into the pastor’s study and sitting there were a deacon, a trustee and my aunt, who served on the trustee board. The conversation was painful, mostly because it was happening in front of the people I admired the most in my life.

I cleaned off my desk, and in my haste, I accidently took the mail for that day. I beat myself up and became completely embarrassed over what happened. My friend invited me over for lunch, and while I was there, her assistant called and said that she needed time off. My friend hired me as her temporary assistant and I started work on MONDAY.

When I went to pack my bag for work, there was the mail that I had accidentally taken from the church. In it, there was a letter saying that the president of the local seminary was looking for an executive assistant. I got the job and my healing began. My ego was damaged, my heart was broken and I would cry while typing most of his letters.

But every day, the president of the seminary would say to me, “I’m not sure what it took for you to get here, but you’re doing a fantastic job, and I’m happy you are here.” I am grateful that I went to work at such a place of healing. Six months later, a pastor I had previously worked for, faxed over an offer letter to work at his new church that included a $35,000 increase. Just BELIEVE.

What is your go-to self-care strategy?

The power of the PURPLE PEN! On my monthly calendar, I write my self-care activities on the calendar in purple ink! If I look at the calendar and there is no purple all week, I know it’s time to stop and do something special for myself. I love spa days with my friends!

When you reflect on your life so far, what is the first word or two that comes to your mind?

Real grateful!

More about Deirdre (Dee) Martin…

Deirdre Martin is the CEO of Assisting Virtually, LLC, a company that specializes in executive administrative support for churches, ministries and nonprofit organizations throughout the United States. Born in Gastonia, North Carolina, Dee relocated to New Jersey in 1986 in search of employment and to be near her close-knit family.
You are welcome to say hello to her at
She’s A Woman On Fire! feature is compiled by senior writer Becky Adams.

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She’s a Woman on Fire! Meet Cari Vollmer

Welcome back to our ongoing series to introduce you to each other.  She’s a Woman on Fire! member and we want you to know her.  Please say hello to… – See more at:
Welcome back to our ongoing series to introduce you to each other.  She’s a Woman on Fire! member and we want you to know her.  Please say hello to… – See more at:
Welcome back to our ongoing series to introduce you to each other.  She’s a Woman on Fire! member and we want you to know her.  Please say hello to… – See more at:

Welcome back to our ongoing series to introduce you to each other. She’s A Woman on Fire! member and we want you to know her. Please say hello to…


Cari Vollmer

Minneapolis, Minn.

WOF member: #00110

Member since:  March 11, 2012

Please tell us about YOU, your family and your work. What you are “on fire” about? 

My husband, Pete, and I are business owners, and we’re passionate about what we do. Right now we’re talking about how to make this chapter of our life our most intentional so far, including implementing a daily practice where we start the day together to set our intentions and keep our vision alive. We both feel the power in finally putting our marriage, our dreams and ourselves first. We’re excited.

We are a blended family, which means I’ve had children in my life from the day we got married almost 25 years ago. This fall will be the first time we’ll have an “empty nest.” Pete and I are looking forward to this new time, while of course still enjoying our girls so much. My stepdaughter Meghann, a veterinarian, is married and has a little boy, Jackson, who calls me either CC or Grandma, both of which I respond to with enthusiasm!

Another big focus right now is holding an intentional and loving space for our other daughter, Kasie, as she graduates from high school and starts her new life as a college student and athlete. I know every mother who has gone through this transition understands what this means — the emotional roller-coaster of joy and fears. all of it. We’re oh so proud of Kasie and her many accomplishments, including earning a full-ride athletic scholarship to a college where she will also get to pursue her passion for wildlife biology.

Last fall I finally accepted the fact that my life — our lives — were changing, and it wasn’t helping to hold it at arm’s length. Interestingly enough, as soon as I affirmed the transition, I started getting a lot of clarity regarding my next steps as a woman and businesswoman. I knew deep down that this is my time to claim my dreams in an even bigger and bolder way.

How did you originally connect to Women on Fire?  

I originally heard about Women on Fire through my friend Laurie Forster. Laurie and I were in the same mastermind group, and she nudged me to get to know her coach, Debbie Phillips. I started following Debbie and Women on Fire on Facebook, and it wasn’t long before I was a complete FAN! I’m so happy I listened to that nudge Laurie gave me!

What’s your favorite component of the Women on Fire membership program?

In this order: (1) Debbie and her intentional and loving leadership, (2) the sisterhood, and (3) retreats, monthly calls and interview CDs.

What is your favorite part of the day?

I have a few different favorite parts to my day.  I love both when I’m the only one home, and I can feel what I need to feel and hear what I need to hear. I love that quiet space. And I love when the rest of my family is home and how crazy it can get with them and our two dogs, a terrier mix named Choxie and a golden retriever named Finnegan, and our cat, Isabelle.

What is the last book you read that you would recommend to other Women on Fire? 

A few years ago a client told me about The Power of Awareness by Neville Goddard. I bought it immediately and proceeded to highlight many passages. I return to it over and over and over again.

Name one thing you’re proudest of.

I’m proudest of taking the journey to know who I am. I now feel everything stems from that understanding, and I’m so much more comfortable in the world as a result. I also trust my intuition now more than ever. It’s not always easy to do so because there’s so much noise in the world. I suppose that’s why I like my house when it’s quiet. I like to feel what I’m feeling, and if I get too busy I can’t do that.

What is something that we might be surprised to learn about you?

When people first meet me, they are always surprised by how tall I am — 6-foot-3! It might also be surprising to know that I was adopted.

If you had an unexpected free day, how would you spend it?    

That would totally depend on my mood in that moment. I might like to go for a long walk — either by myself or with a friend — buy some flowers for my office and kitchen, meet friends for lunch or dinner, get a massage, and either try a new recipe for dinner or find a new restaurant in the city.

What is your favorite city in the world?

I haven’t visited nearly enough to know for sure, but right now I’d say Minneapolis, Chicago and New York, in no particular order.

Share a special Women on Fire moment or experience.

There have been so many! This year at the Women on Fire Retreat in Naples I had a big aha moment when I heard the panel discussing the importance of having sponsors — other people who take an active interest in your success and open doors for you. I’ve had many mentors and some of them have been sponsor-like. But when I heard Tandi Musuraca talking about sponsors, I realized that I could be asking for sponsors to show up in my life. And a few already have! I loved that moment! Thank you again, Tandi!

Name another Woman on Fire who has inspired you and tell why?

Well, I LOVE my Women on Fire cleanse sisters. (I wonder if they realize that this is what I call them!) Last year I participated in the first Women on Fire 21-day cleanse. I was so nervous! I didn’t know if I could possibly do the full 21 days. But Debbie and Amy Marzluff offered such amazing support and guidance as well as the connection to the other women who participated. I did it and I loved it!

What’s your big dream?

My dreams are to live my happiest and healthiest life, surrounded by people I love and who love me. I want to be true to myself, and to continue making a positive impact in the world. This year, I’ve committed to specializing in one particular aspect of all those that I’ve offered to clients over the years and that is to share my Identify Your Brilliance work with as many souls as possible. I really can’t think of better work than helping others discover who they are.

If you had the opportunity to teach a child one strategy that would help to guide her life, what would that be?

I have to list three, but they’re all connected. 🙂

  • Know who you are.
  • Trust your instincts.
  • Value who you are.

Name three women who have influenced your life and what you’ve learned from each.

My mom, Kay, was a businesswoman and ran our family restaurant for 20 years. She was the toughest boss I ever had. She taught me a lot about how to have a great work ethic and take care of customers, and how NOT to put up with bad behavior. She was gracious and had a deep inner strength. When I was looking for my first job after moving to Minneapolis, she gave me the best job-hunting advice I’ve ever heard: Make them feel like they couldn’t possibly live without you. I took her advice and was hired on the spot! I lost her 15 years ago, and I miss her every day. She was great.

My friend Beth is one of the best women I know. She’s taught me a lot about love, trusting my instincts, having good boundaries, and how to handle difficult situations. I’ve always loved the sparkle in her eyes and how easily she laughs.

Debbie Phillips came into my life at a time when I was feeling a bit disenchanted by the coaching and Internet marketing world. Deep down, I could sense a lack of authenticity, even when some of my coaches and teachers were preaching it. Very often, something felt off to me; things weren’t adding up. I’ve always been so grateful to Laurie Forster for introducing me to Debbie because I think she’s such a great model for having a true open-armed, authentic, loving embrace, and she’s taught me over and over again that when you’re aligned with love great things happen. I believe WOF has helped me be much more comfortable with who I am.

Who cheers you on?

I’m blessed to have many people who cheer me on — friends, colleagues, clients, my husband, and my daughters. One time, when I was nervous about speaking to a roomful of people, Kasie sent me a text message that said, “You’ll do great. You’re Cari Vollmer!” I loved that so much and deeply appreciated her cheerleading. I will treasure those words forever!

What is your favorite “pig out” food? 

Oh, my! Lately, it’s been a scoop of Häagen-Dazs Sea Salt Caramel Gelato. Good thing I’m starting that cleanse again soon!

What song is on your iPod right now?

Happy by Pharrell Williams, and then a mish-mash of many of my daughter’s songs. She keeps me current, but please don’t ask me for performer or song names. I’m not good at retaining that info.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve ever faced and how did you overcome it?

Without question my mom’s illness and passing was my biggest challenge. I went through that period before I had really dug deep into my own being, so going through that left me feeling very lost and without any sense of direction; however, it was also the beginning of the life I have today. It’s sometimes hard to consider that time as a blessing, but what rose from it certainly has been.

What are your go-to self-care strategies?

Quiet time. Deep breathing. A clean house. Fresh flowers. Clear space. Massages. Heart-to-heart conversations with great friends.

When you reflect on your life so far, what are the first word or two that come to mind?

Blessed and awake.

More about Cari …

Cari Vollmer, founder of, helps businesswomen worldwide create their sweet lives and purpose-filled businesses by helping them awaken, identify and honor their brilliance so they can infuse their lives and businesses with the best of who they really are. She fiercely supports women in trusting their gut instincts, while helping them create purposeful and strategic plans for business growth and living well.

You are welcome to say hello to her at


She’s A Woman On Fire! is compiled by senior writer Becky Adams.

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Just when your journey seems impossible…

Thank you for my wonderful birthday wishes last week. I felt very loved and cared about!


And my birthday dream came true. Rob bought me a new hammock! Then he sneaked up on me in the backyard and caught me in action lounging. 😉

The best part of my birthday week though had nothing to do with my birthday.  My best gift last week was learning that the wishes and dreams of several Women on Fire had come true!

Every single day I hear from women who are struggling yet moving forward.  Struggling to discover their passion. Struggling to achieve dreams that seem out-of-reach. Struggling to stay brave and strong until they succeed.

The good news last week from Women on Fire members Mary Landberg, Michelle Tenzyk and Eva Tenuto is that no matter the obstacles on your journey, you can make your dreams happen.

They are role models who started out at ground zero — with only a thought, an idea, a dream — and now it’s real.

If you haven’t met them yet, let me introduce you!

The book I took with me to the hammock is Mary Landberg’s new Enduring Love — Inspiring Stories of Love and Wisdom at The End of Life.

Mary is a hospice nurse and photographer who took pictures of families holding hands, often on the final day of their loved one’s life.

These powerful photos are accompanied by the family’s beautiful and tender stories.

When Mary first came to Women on Fire a little over a year ago, her book was on the drawing board. She sacrificed and went out on a limb financially. She balanced her hospice shifts with getting the book done and did most of the planning and marketing herself. She created a fundraising campaign.

She took in love and support here to keep her going — and she kept going.

I’m sure there were plenty of scary moments. But she never gave up — and the miracle happened.

Now, with her book published, she is on her way to an even bigger dream.  Her ultimate passion is to speak to groups “to ease the fear of death, define the purpose of life as shared with me by the dying, and inspire people to live fully while they are alive!”

Finishing her book led to this:

Mary’s caption for this photo: “This is what I am meant to do.”

Yes, it is, beautiful Mary. Thank you for bringing your gifts to the world.

Next on the dream-to-come-true circuit is Michelle Tenzyk.  Here is a photo of us at a Women on Fire gathering in New York a couple of weeks ago.

At the Women on Fire retreat in Naples last winter, Michelle, a long-time corporate executive who now owns her own business, imagined starting a movement to help corporate women.

Last week, she launched The Truth Behind Our Titles (tm) and her first event — an evening in New York City on October 1 to support corporate women to find strength, resilience and hope in their lives.

She’s been cheered on by many Women on Fire sisters and has enlisted the collaboration of Kelley Black, a charter Women on Fire member, co-author in the first Women on Fire book and former corporate executive who will be one of the event’s guest speakers.

If you are struggling in a corporate environment and wish for more support, understanding and a path, grab your seat now to Michelle’s inspiring event.

Way to go, Michelle!

And, then we have Eva Tenuto, the founder and executive director of the nonprofit TMI Project. Double good news for Eva!

Here is a video of her doing the very thing she empowers others to do — to tell the truth of their lives.

Ever grateful, Eva says, “I get to witness all of these people tell their truth, release their shame, and become more of who they are.”

Producing “living room shows” since she was 5, Eva today creates forums for many who would not have a voice at all — incarcerated boys, imprisoned women, people with mental illness. Her own struggle with clinical depression and her journey in recovery from addiction and mental illness is often the subject of her own talks.

Good news #1: Eva’s local YWCA selected the TMI Project as the 2014 Organization of the Year!

Eva Tenuto gets married! (Photo by Emily Tenuto)

Good news #2: This past weekend Eva married her long-time girlfriend Julie in a beautiful ceremony in New York. Best wishes to the newlyweds. You are so deserving of your many dreams coming true, Eva!

There are many more of you whose dreams are blossoming. Please feel free to share on the blog your good news.  It is the best way we can inspire each other to know what is possible! A rising tide lifts all boats…

OK, back to the hammock for me. How are you spending your upcoming holiday week? Have a sparkly one!


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