She’s a Woman on Fire! Meet Allison Barry

Say hello to…

Allison Barry- Woman on Fire

Allison Barry

Boston, Massachusetts

Member number: #00009

Member since: October 13, 2011

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

I recently turned 50, and I feel that I’m starting a whole second life. I grew up in Orchard Park, New York, a suburb of Buffalo. I am the oldest of three, and aunt to six nieces and nephews ranging in age from four to 23. They bring so much joy and energy to all of our family gatherings.

My family is about to grow, but more about that in a minute. I have enjoyed a long career in the world of enterprise software, which has provided me with the means to travel and to buy a house on Cape Cod—perfect for those family gatherings.

I am on fire about the adventure that awaits me, as I am now engaged! I have never been married, and I am experiencing the dream of a lifetime with this engagement, the gaining of step-daughters and my moving in with someone.

I had faith that the day would come when I could say, “He was worth the wait!”—and that day is here with Kevin. This brilliant, fun-loving man has brought so much joy and passion to my world. Now I can’t imagine my life without him.

How did you originally connect to Women on Fire?

Years ago, a former co-worker and friend, Laurie Forster, introduced me to Holly Getty. (They’re both Women on Fire.) Holly gave me a coaching session with Debbie Phillips as a thank-you, and the rest is history! I was living in New Jersey at the time, so I have been a frequent, enthusiastic participant of the teas in New York City. I’ve attended the annual retreats, including the very first one in Columbus, Ohio, and teas in Boston, too!

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

I love the chats when I can make them and certainly the interviews. But one of my favorites is the weekly Spark! Every Sunday, I look forward to the words of wisdom, updates and thoughts from Debbie.

What is your favorite part of the day?

My favorite part of the day is now the end of the workday, when I transition into fiancée and enjoy a date night or a simple dinner at home.

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

I just read the first two books of Ken Follett’s Century trilogy. I love long, involved novels that weave together historical fact with human triumph and tragedy.

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

The relationships in my life—my friends and family and now a fiancé!

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

I played rugby in college.

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

If alone, I would ease into the day, go for a brisk walk or do some Pilates, followed by lunch at a favorite spot and then some shopping. All that fun would be followed by dinner out with my date. I might throw in a movie, too.

What is your favorite city in the world?


Your favorite “pig-out” food?

Tortilla chips and guacamole.

Name the top three songs on your iPod right now?

For Good” from the soundtrack of Wicked,Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke, and “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.

Share a special Women on Fire moment or experience.

There are so many, but one that stands out was my first Women on Fire tea at Lady Mendl’s in New York. I was amazed at the immediate connections I made with these women. It felt like they’d been my friends for years. I had the great fortune of sitting next to the late, lovely and vivacious Jacqueline Pimentel, who left an enduring impression on me.

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

Oh, there are so many! My good friend Holly Getty continues to inspire me with her grace, compassion and strength. She cheered me through the ups and downs of dating and so many other things. She is a great listener and friend who lights up every room she enters.

What’s your big dream?

I feel that my big dream is coming true, which is sharing my life with someone I love, who loves me equally in return. I am gaining three daughters, and I look forward to the chaos, adventures and perhaps even grandparenting that will come as a result.

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

Make time to invest in friends who listen and encourage.

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

My mom showed me how to be socially graceful and compassionate and what a loving, supportive marriage should be.

My friend Julie has been a best friend since the first day of seventh grade. She taught me how to be a good friend and how to face adversity with grace and humor.

My friend and former boss Colleen taught me selling skills and how to be a successful woman in a man’s world.

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

I think one of my biggest challenges was getting out of my own way to find love. When I was in my early 40s, I was stuck. I was going out on dates, but I was not attracting the right men—or any men at all, for that matter. I sought help through coaching and therapy and got myself on a much more positive path. Then, I was finally able to get the relationship I wanted.

What was the biggest surprise you’ve had in your life?

My 50th birthday last September held the biggest surprise of my life. After weeks of helping to care for my aunt who was in and out of the hospital, I was looking forward to being home and having a quiet birthday dinner with Kevin. We had talked about our future a few months before, but a lot had happened in August and September, so our future was not on my mind.

As I left his house in Hartford that Saturday morning to visit my aunt one more time, he confirmed that he could meet me in Boston that night for dinner. I was home in time to shower and get “girly” for my date. He arrived, changed, made us drinks, and said we had time for me to open my birthday gift before our reservation. We sat in the living room where a small gift bag was waiting.

As I opened the perfect little square box, he got down on one knee and proposed! I was shocked and said YES through tears as quickly as I could! I remember thinking, “This is the moment I’ve been waiting for, and it’s as great as I thought it would be!”

As if that weren’t enough, he whisked me off to my favorite restaurant in Boston, where a group of friends and family were waiting to surprise me for my birthday. Well, I had a bigger surprise for them! It was a perfect night that still makes me smile from ear to ear.

Allison Barry and her fiancé- Woman on Fire

The picture above is of Kevin and me from that night. So much love and joy! I couldn’t smile any bigger!

Who cheers you on?

I am so blessed to have a fiancé and a circle of friends and family that cheer me on. I also have cheerleaders at work who provide moral support and encouraging words when challenges arise.

What is your go-to self-care strategy?

A workout and a massage.

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

Fortunate and Fun

More about Allison Barry…

Allison has a long history in the computer software industry, having worked in that field since she graduated from Union College in Schenectady, New York. She manages a sales team that does product presentations and demonstrations—her favorite part of the job and what keeps her in the business. Allison wrote a chapter about an important phase of her work life for Women on Fire, Volume 1, titled “Stepping Off of the Corporate Ladder.”

Inspired by a family trip to Europe when she was 14, Allison loves to travel and is usually planning her next trip. She also loves skiing, especially with her fiancé, Kevin. She currently lives in Boston with her kitty, Bonnie, but will soon relocate to Hartford, Connecticut, for love!

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

Valentine’s Day? How about drive-by kindness?

It’s the week of Valentine’s Day!

*This week’s Pinspiration*

*Pin this to share the love*

Love is not just a feeling but a set of actions- womenonfire

If you’re dreading February 14, sad because you don’t have a romantic partner – or you want to shake things up from the usual candy, card, flowers, dinner — today’s  SPARK! is for you.

But first …

According to Wikipedia, Valentine’s Day was first associated with romantic love in the High Middle Ages when the tradition of courtly love flouris


In 18th-century England, it evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as “valentines“).

Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards.

And that brings us to today – to create a modern Valentine’s Day for everyone to partake in!

To me, Valentine’s Day is simply a reminder to show your love in some way and to as many people as you want.  A romantic interest is not required.  February 14 becomes then like the chime on your cell phone.

Ding, ding, who is it I want to surprise in some beautiful and unexpected way to show them how much I care?

In our household, “valentines” also have given way to what my husband Rob and I call “drive-by kindnesses.” They aren’t limited to February 14.  In fact, every day can be Valentine’s Day!

15 ways to practice drive-by kindnes- womenonfires

Here are some drive-by kindnesses I’ve recently witnessed:

  • Leaving waiter a tip — and a $25 gift card
  • Leaving waitress a tip — and a lottery ticket
  • Leaving waitress a tip — and a special silver coin (worth $50!)
  • Traveler paying for airline maintenance crew’s breakfast in Dunkin’ Donuts line
  • Mother in a coffee shop handing over diapers to a stranger — another mother she noticed was caught up short with her baby
  • Friend providing one month’s rent to one of her colleagues through an anonymous giving program
  • Neighbor handing out bottles of water (and cookies) to thirsty lawn crews, UPS and FedEx delivery drivers
  • A Woman on Fire member paying the tuition for another woman to attend the upcoming retreat!

The list is inspiringly endless. I know you, too, have witnessed and been the provider of these random acts of love.

Being the recipient of drive-by kindnesses can have a transformative effect, as I’ve experienced, including one just this morning!

  • Sunburst Café owner and friend Jerome Tocio (whose very wonderful wife Theresa is a Women on Fire member) sent me a note: “Thought of you this morning when I was grinding the Almond Joy coffee.”  Along with his card? A bag of my very favorite, freshly ground Almond Joy coffee! (See photo above:-)
  • A gorgeous bouquet of pink peonies handed to me while I was browsing in a florist shop, courtesy of an unidentified somebody!
  • My goddaughter Julia leaving me little surprise treats in the kitchen after I’d been working in my office all day.
  • The heart-melting cards, notes, posts and emails I receive daily telling me what Women on Fire means to you.
  • My 79-year-old mother’s happy, encouraging notes. (She texts!)
  • The incredibly generous friend whose oil painting I’d long admired, packed it up in her car, brought it to our home, and helped us place it on the perfect  wall.
  • Our elderly neighbor arriving at our door, a freshly baked pineapple upside-down cake in her hands — for us.

These drive-by kindnesses throughout the year fill my heart fuller and wider than a million Valentine’s Day presents.

In our most recent Women on Fire membership interview, well-known psychotherapist Dr. Norman Shub reminds us what romance is truly about:

“Love in you grows by making the other person important. It’s the investment in the other that intensifies your feelings. Unfortunately, in our world, we are trained to think, “Am I getting what I want?”

“We’re not trained to be the best partner (and friend) we can be. Love is not just a feeling; it’s also a way of acting.”


So this single day of celebrating love — February 14 — must not become a day where some people are left to feel less than or left out of – or worse, a day that is obligatory and boring.

Instead, Valentine’s Day — and any other day — can become your own special day to give the unexpected love and joy of a drive-by kindness! Who in your life will you make important by giving such a gift to?

Drive-by kindnesses also don’t have to even cost time or money. Consider this from my dear friend, author Marianne Williamson:

“If everyone took one minute daily to close their eyes and silently bless every other living thing, love and light would sanctify the world.”

May your week be filled with love and light,

Debbie Signature

Not only on Valentine’s Day!

We love you all year long!

I hope you can feel the heart and soul of Women on Fire on Valentine’s Day this week — and every single day of the year.

We bring you inspiration, strategies and support, yet above all, Women on Fire is about love.  Love for our dreams and our passions; love of cheering each other on; and love for making a difference in the world and in our family’s lives.

Women on Fire Tea in Naples, Florida last Friday. Lots of love and energy from us to you! Front row: Marie LaBrosse, Tamara Caggiano, Debbie Phillips, Lisa Umberger Arundale, Donna Kim-Brand. Second row: Janet Glancy, Amy Leigh Mercree, Mary Wiggins, Barb Zion, Jan Allen, Jenifer Madson, Kitt Moran, Jamie Eslinger, Plus Hall and Julie Shepardson. (Rob Berkley Photo)

Still, a girl needs her flowers and chocolate and a kiss so I hope no matter whether you have a honey or not, you will give and receive lotsa lovin’ and have a Happy Valentine’s Day on Tuesday!

Right now, I’m watching the Grammy Awards and you will not believe this.

Last night I “discovered” Adele.

Of course, the rest of the universe has been buying her songs and helping her to break music records held by the Beatles for oh, 4o years or so!

Still, until the other night I had no clue of this 23-year-old’s enormous talent and presence (Pathetic, I know…I must get out more!)

A friend suggested that I watch Adele’s recent DVD, so Saturday night I slipped it into my computer and stayed up way past my bedtime in awe of Adele performing at her dream-come-true Royal Albert Hall in London.

Like a two-fisted drinker, I watched her mesmerizing performance on my computer, while on my iPad, I googled information about her life.

What a Woman on Fire.  The daughter of a single, teen-age mother, Adele has an astonishing ability to connect and make us feel through her songs of heartbreak and redemption.

Mostly though, I love the way she totally puts herself out there — every bit of herself in service of her music, her songwriting, her life.

And, when there was criticism about her weight (you’ve got to be kidding me that that kind of thing still goes on?) she let it roll off her back and responded, “I make music for the ears. Not the eyes.”

At the moment, Adele has swept the Grammys. Good for her!

And, good for each one of you who is stepping up and out in the world no matter your background, your circumstances — no matter what.  You won’t be stopped!

I love this picture below from last Friday’s tea because it was the first time I met Woman on Fire Kitt Moran in person.  She and her music partner Janina Sebesky, a long-time Woman on Fire, are collaborating to take their musical play CHICK SOUP to New York City and to the theater district of Broadway.

What strikes me daily about women in our community is that no matter the ups and downs, we stand strong together.  We put it out there.  Janina or Kitt, best friends for more than 40 years, are taking their dream all the way.  Just like Adele.

What do you love, love, love?

Before I take one more breath, you know what I love, love, love?


I love you for coming here week after week, sharing your heart, your struggles, your experience, your talent, your dreams.

Women on Fire is a community filled with such warmth, connection and caring that if we were to have our own official holiday it would be Valentine’s Day!

Celebrating love with cupcakes sent from newlyweds Maritza Parra and Jeff Herring!

I love when you tell me about living your heart’s highest calling; working toward and achieving your dreams; or being lifted up by one another.

Here’s a peek inside my world of Women on Fire this past week. I want to share with you some of the love:

Maritza Parra and Jeff Herring got married.  (And sent cupcakes to celebrate!)

* Mary Ellen Jones is joyfully and successfully engaged in orchestrating a  transformative Women’s Event (and a Women on Fire Tea!) in Alpena, Michigan. (I’ll be the keynote speaker at the main event and I cannot wait to meet all of you who are attending.)

* Andrea Dowding and Jerry Browning, along with Jan Allen, connected another group of fabulous, inspiring women to each other at a Women on Fire Tea in Columbus, Ohio.

* Janette Barber is being talked about on Facebook and Sirius/XM to host her own radio show when her boss Rosie O’Donnell leaves in June for Oprah’s network OWN. Please click on the Facebook link to lend support!

* Janina Serden Sebesky’s beloved musical CHICK SOUP has nearly sold out a 1,000-plus-seat venue in North Port, Florida.

* Sitting in a Parisian restaurant, Holly Getty wrote of the deep gratification she feels when she helps Women on Fire to create their authentic style.

* Women on Fire Book Co-Author Laurie Forster’s first shipment of wine from her exclusive Wine Coach Club arrived on our doorstep!  A dream-come-true for our former software sales executive who followed her passion and has become sought-after speaker and celebrated wine educator.

*  Author and coach Margie Warrell, of McLean, Virginia, completed a treatment of her proposed, inspiring television show about freeing people from their deepest fears.

* Dawn Greenfield, owner of YogaBorn in Manchester, Connecticut, is achieving her dream to reach families of Traumatic Brain Injury to share the profound benefits that yoga can have on TBI survivors.

Anne Thurston of Boyne City, Michigan published E-males, a book about her “lively search for love,” and she’s looking for someone to help her with distribution. She also reports she’s having fun writing a newspaper column.  And, she concluded her email to me with this:

“I succeeded in finding a second love. A wonderful man who like me cannot believe what has happened to our lives. We feel 16.”

He is 85.  She’s about to turn 88.

See what I mean about how I love, love, love Women on Fire?

And, finally…

Before you go, I know there are so many more of you “on fire” and in love with aspects of your life, too.  Please pop down to the comments section and let us know what it is you love, love, love!

Women on Fire Marketing Director Jamie Eslinger and I reminding you of the power of love and connection we share as you reach for your dreams and support each other’s!

Happy Valentine’s Day with lots of love ~