She’s A Woman on Fire! Introducing…

She’s a Woman on Fire! member and we want you to know her.  Please say hello to…

Rosi Amador

Rosi Amador

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Women on Fire Member: #00209

Member since: September 2013

Please tell us about YOU, your family and your work.

I’m originally from Puerto Rico. My parents were New Yorican (that’s a New Yorker of Puerto Rican descent) and Argentine performers who instilled in me their love of music and the spoken word. They raised me bilingually and biculturally.

My nuclear family consists of my husband Brian Amador and 19-year old twin daughters, Alisa and Sonia. Brian is a composer and Spanish guitarist, as well as a bilingual voice actor.

Alisa is now a sophomore at Bates College, where she is majoring in gender studies and minoring in dance. She also tours as singer-songwriter. Sonia is a creative artist with a passion for textiles, fashion, miniature sculpture and collage. Her specialty is creating unique, amazing crocheted wearables.

For 31 years, my husband and I have recorded albums and toured nationally and internationally with the Latin band we co-founded, Sol y Canto (;, a socially conscious Latin roots music ensemble that joyfully performs for adult, children and family audiences.

In 2010, I launched Amador Bilingual Voiceovers (, and I’m now a successful full-time English/Spanish voice actor. I spend most of my days recording commercials, documentaries, children’s audio books and educational narrations from my private studio in Cambridge, Mass., as do Brian and, when they’re available, our daughters.

From my private broadcast-quality home studio and sometimes when I’m on the road, I record in both my native Spanish and English, using my voice to inspire, motivate, educate and inform the exponentially growing global Hispanic market and the general market.

My clients include PBS, Mattress Firm, OXFAM, Disney, L’Oreal, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Comcast, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston Children’s Hospital, the Lonely Planet, Expedia, and the Smithsonian.

What are you “on fire” about?

After many years of trying to make a sustainable living as a creative, I have created a diverse career that allows me to use my natural gifts through both spoken word and song and that affords me the opportunity to travel, rest and play with those I love.

I can honestly say that now, at the age of 56, I am finally approaching the fullness of my power and my fullest potential! This career has also provided me with the opportunity to shape my desired work/life balance and model for my daughters what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur who is in charge of her life.

How did you originally connect to Women on Fire?

I met Debbie in the 1990s when Brian and I performed in a small musical venue in Martha’s Vineyard. We were seated at the same table and she had no idea we were about to perform. We became friends instantly and stayed in touch.

She even brought her godchildren to see us perform once in Ohio, and she has always been incredibly supportive and helpful from day one. Brian and I were lucky enough to do a couples’ Vision Day with Debbie and her incredible Rob in 2007, and I discovered my superpowers big time!

What one thing are you the most proud of?

My tenacity in claiming my voice and power as an adult! By choosing love and connection, I overcame childhood traumas, educated myself and went about creating and identifying the circles of support I’ve needed so that I could then also help my family and career to thrive.

I chose to live very differently from how I was raised, which took a great deal of courage and self-belief that I didn’t think possible. I have finally created a sustainable life that revolves around meaningful work that allows me to prioritize my physical and spiritual well-being, including connection, rest and play with those I love.

What is your big dream?

The big dreams that I am passionately achieving: to continue singing for fun and performing my cherished Latin music and to become the premier English/Spanish bilingual voiceover service provider worldwide — a business which, with ease and flow, contributes mightily to my financial, personal, and spiritual abundance; and which, with ease, joy and play, enables me to use my multitude of gifts to amplify my values and improve the human condition worldwide.

As a child, what did you want to grow up to be?  

A singer.

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

I believe that putting yourself in someone else’s shoes — empathy — allows you to feel compassion and naturally gives way to kindness toward others and even yourself, which is often a lot harder. When we give, we get so much more back. This is something that I know to be true.

Where do you find inspiration?

I am a self-proclaimed inspiration sponge and TED Talk junkie; however, my most powerful inspiration comes mostly from other women. Apart from our own Debbie, whom I consider a cherished life mentor, I have learned so much from Kristine Oller, a superb coach for creatives, and my voiceover colleague, Amy Snively, the founder of a yearly voiceover gathering with a generous mission. In addition, I consider Brené Brown and Oprah to be role models in living an authentic life.

All these women have provided guidance that has been fundamental to the way I live my life and run my businesses.

On a day-to-day basis, I am also deeply grateful for the inspiration and camaraderie provided by my voiceover colleagues all over the country. I created a Mastermind group three years ago with eight outstanding, seasoned voice talents with whom I’m honored to be in a support group.

An incredibly powerful source of reciprocal inspiration comes to me from my “accountabilibuddy” Liz De Nesnera, also a female bilingual voice talent. We meet via FaceTime several times a week to build more accountability into our businesses and to encourage one another to live joyful, sustainable lives.

Finally, my daughters inspire me! They are not yet 20 yet they are so wise, kind and giving. Performing with my daughter Alisa and watching her bloom as a singer-songwriter is one of my greatest joys, and watching Sonia create amazing artistic wearable crafts and come into her own is another.

Name a woman who has influenced your life and tell what you learned from her.

I have not one but two very close beautiful women friends in my life who are in their 80s and are a huge source of support and inspiration. I speak with my beloved Marie Jo Miera and Sondra Sperber regularly by phone, Skype or in person when possible, even though neither of them lives nearby.

They’re both creative, strong, spiritual women who are fully engaged in their personal development, showering love on their families and friends and powerfully using their creativity and love to make the world a better place.

These two women came into my life after I lost my mother, and they model for me how to live a positive life, always learning, appreciating life, looking for joy and inspiration outside as well as within.

No matter what obstacles present themselves, Jo and Sondra always find a way to overcome it with grace and wisdom and luckily for me, they share all this with me on a regular basis. I feel so blessed to have my personal “wisdom council” and to be the object of their profound love.

When you reflect on your life so far, what comes to your mind?

Through my 40s, I struggled with self-image. I worked hard to get off the dieting cycle of my adolescence and college years. As an on-stage performer, I always felt the pressure to look “great,” a.k.a., “thin.”

I was lucky to find a local therapist who specializes in body dysmorphia. With my wonderful husband’s blessing, I worked with her for nearly three years when I could scarcely afford it and was able to find self-compassion and befriend myself once again.

This changed my life and is what I modeled for my daughters. In tandem with this, it took me years to recover from being a workaholic and finally come to see that a more balanced life, where physical and emotional well-being, rest and play are prioritized.

Finally, I am so grateful to have been blessed with an incredible life partner in my husband, Brian, as he’s a wildly supportive business partner and loving husband and father.

Who cheers you on?

My “wisdom council” — Jo and Sondra, mentioned above, and my daughters, Sonia and Alisa. One of my daughters gave me a gratitude journal and recommended that I journal daily, like her! They both help me look and feel great when I dress up by offering their opinions.

And of course, I’m also cheered on by my closest girlfriends, my Women on Fire sisters, and my loving and supportive husband, Brian. People tell me my optimism and positive energy are infectious. That brings me incredible joy! I believe it’s because I surround myself with positive people; therefore, I attract them and boldly reach out any time to create connection.

How do you cheer on others?

I love cheering others on. It’s one of my superpowers! I’m great at helping my friends look at their lives objectively, to figure out what the priorities are and how to shave away at the negative energy and activities that impede any forward motion.

In my studio and office, I continually have interns and assistants and enjoy mentoring them immensely. They always give more than 100 percent during their time with me, and I have remained friends with so many of them because they know I believe in them and their gifts.

The biggest area in which I cheer others on is my voiceover colleague circles. Little did I know when I walked into a voiceover career — one that by its very contemporary definition requires that you spend many solitary hours in front of a microphone in a home studio — what an amazingly supportive community exists among colleagues! By attending a voiceover conference and meeting in person, Brian and I instantly became part of a whole new supportive family.

I consider it my responsibility and honor to pay it forward as often as I can, sharing what others have generously shared with me. For this reason I’ve created several voiceover colleague support groups both in person and online via video conferences.

In addition, I frequently organize and/or host gatherings, particularly of women, and I ask them to talk about what they’re on fire about (sound familiar?). I ask them to share any obstacles and ask for support. I am also part of a Latina women’s group that meets several times a year in the Boston area, and typically host that community gathering once a year.


I couldn’t live without… my sweet husband’s extraordinary gourmet cooking, walks with my doggie, time with my twin daughters and my two peaceful weeks each year on Martha’s Vineyard, which I jealously guard.

I’m picky when it comes to…. how I spend my time and give away my life energy. In my personal and professional lives I look for positive people who value and inspire me.

My favorite component of the Women on Fire monthly membership is… Debbie’s presence and the programs she’s created for us, from the monthly live chat master classes and monthly interviews to the support and love offered by our private Facebook page, where we can safely be vulnerable, sharing our losses and triumphs, receiving and offering genuine support.

Favorite go-to self-care strategy… my daily meditation + journaling ritual.

I dream of visiting… New Zealand, Portugal, Brazil, The Canary Islands. I can’t wait to return to France, Spain and hopefully Switzerland next summer, to sing and visit with friends!

I’m getting better at… asking for what I’m worth. After many years, I have learned to actually turn down clients who pay me less than I’m worth.

I still need to work on… time-management strategies that permit me to be more proactive in my business and not feel as tied to my abundant work email.

I’m always up for… an evening of listening to live music I love, from Latin to jazz and world music, or work by an innovative singer-songwriter.

I’m still afraid of… the fact that Brian and I got an extremely late start on saving for retirement. We’ll be working for a long while so we plan to continue focusing on health and wellness so that we can be happy, productive and inspiring into our 80s and 90s!

I could spend hours… watching TED Talks. So inspiring!

I believe in… love, kindness, generosity, compassion, empathy and boundaries to maintain my sanity.

The best thing I ever did was… to seek out a wonderful therapist. She helped me to rebuild and love my life!

More about Rosi Amador…

In 1981, she fulfilled her parents’ dream to do what they could not. She earned a college degree from Bryn Mawr College. You can learn more and be in touch with Rosi at

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She’s A Woman on Fire! Introducing…

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…


Andrea Dowding

Dresden, Ohio

Women on Fire Member: #00004

Member since November 2011

Please tell us about YOU, your family and your work.

My husband, Dave, and I are empty nesters for the first time in our 19 years of marriage and our collective 44 years of raising kids … his, hers and ours! August marked was the first time in 27 years that I didn’t have to fill out the never-ending and dreaded “back to school” forms and fees. We are loving finding our new normal.

I am an executive director of sales field learning and development at Thirty-One Gifts, the 28th largest direct selling company in the world. I work with an amazing CEO, Cindy Monroe, and an amazing staff that celebrates and supports a sales field of over 90,000 women.

What are you “on fire” about? 

Taking back my health, one walk-run, one bike ride, and one lap in the pool at a time. I am a four-year survivor of carcinoid cancer, and 2015 is the first year that I have been surgery- and treatment-free. I believe that every woman — no matter her size, shape or circumstance — can begin to reclaim her heath!

I am launching a closed Facebook group called Powerful … Not Perfect to encourage women to journey with me, just as they are, starting right where they are. It is such a relief to show up willing rather than to stay behind waiting.

How did you originally connect to Women on Fire?  

Rob Berkley! Rob was my amazing executive coach, and I met Debbie during Vision Days, first in Naples, Florida, and then in Martha’s Vineyard for a group Vision Day. Debbie and I talked one morning over breakfast at the Harbor View Hotel in Martha’s Vineyard, and she shared her incredible vision for Women on Fire.

I knew instantly that this was the kind of support and community so many women needed and would benefit from. After I received my executive coaching certification, I worked with Debbie and offered Women on Fire teas and the first Women on Fire  coaching groups in the Columbus, Ohio, area.

What one thing are you the most proud of?

In August, I rode in Pelotonia — the bike tour that raises funds for cancer research at the Ohio State University — and am happy to say I crushed every goal, riding 50 miles in four hours or less, with only one stop, and raising $4,000.

In April, I didn’t even own a bike in April, and I was scared to put my goal out there publicly. I wasn’t sure that I had it in me to do it. It felt good to start from ground zero with my training and then to meet or beat every goal.

I highly recommend setting a big — maybe even scary — goal. It moves you forward to another place. 

What is your big dream?

I think my dream is now unfolding, four years into my journey back from being so sick. My dream manifested into helping women (especially those over age 50) try new adventures, maybe for the first time working to take back their health and possibly their life!

Along the way, there has been lots of fun, lots of encouragement, lots of laughter and much celebration! It doesn’t have to be perfect to be powerful!

As a child, what did you want to grow up to be?

A doctor or a writer. That ambition may have merely manifested in a different way than I imagined. I love to see healing occur and hear the stories that come from the journey toward wholeness and full potential.

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

Be adventurous and explore with curiosity and confidence, fully embracing and owning your journey along the way. We have a hand-carved mirror in our home that says it this way, “Go out for adventure and come home for love.”

Where do you find inspiration?

In the stories and success of others.

What is your favorite time-management strategy?

I have learned to manage my energy rather than my time, and it has made all the difference.

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

Amy Marzluff is someone I greatly admire. She is wonderfully talented at her craft and continually meets women right where they are and lifts them. She has a passion and a drive to help women in their health journey, but does it in such a way that makes them feel safe, educated and empowered with new information and always, always celebrated.

Amy is a lifelong learner, which I admire, and generous in heart and spirit in sharing her expertise and wisdom. I love her dearly.

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

My divorce and the events that led up to it. I wrote about it in the first Women on Fire book. I had so much work to do on myself to recover and heal. I had to silence the negative voices and find my own, which was really tricky with young children and all the stress that came with a corporate job as a single mother.

I really had to learn to do things on my own terms, which wasn’t easy, and I wasn’t always successful at it. The biggest lessons learned were to celebrate my strengths, admit my mistakes, be quick to forgive myself and others, and be open to any repair work that needed to happen along the way.

Who cheers you on?

My husband, my children and my family and a handful of friends. I am very grateful and blessed to have a wonderful community within my close circle of family and friends.

What is your favorite inspirational quote?

It is from a speech called “The Man in the Arena” by Teddy Roosevelt, which hung in my father’s office until he died. Now it hangs in mine.

     “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”


I always have room for…

kids and grandkids!

I’m picky when it comes to…

hanging pictures.

My favorite component of the Women on Fire membership is…

hearing other women’s stories.

My favorite go-to self-care strategy…

silence in nature.

I dream of visiting…

Greece and Italy.

I can’t wait to return to…

Hilton Head and New York.

I’m getting better at…

saying yes to me first.

I still need to work on…

putting big dreams in the forefront.

I would love to have lunch with…

my mom, all of my daughters, and my sisters and their daughters. What fun!! I can hear the laughter now!

I’m always up for…

a bike ride.

I have a soft spot for…

teenagers and young women starting their careers. I think in that order (smile).

I have no sympathy for…

self pity.

The top three songs on my iPod right now are…

I could spend hours…


I believe in…

new beginnings.

I never forget to celebrate…

a goal or dream realized! I love to celebrate that journey!

I don’t leave the house without…

my confidence and compassion.

I never developed a taste for…


I’m always on the lookout for…

a new, wonderful, BIG idea.

My biggest pet peeve is…

the phrases “I am so jealous” and “you are so lucky.”

The best thing I ever did…

was giving birth and being a mother to my incredible children

More about Andrea Dowding …

In addition to her work with Thirty-One Gifts, Andrea is a leader in the innovative field of executive and life coaching. She specializes in coaching and supporting professional women and top leaders in the $34 billion industry of U.S. Direct Sales.

She is an accomplished keynote speaker and workshop facilitator, whose insights and life strategies were highlighted in the chapter she wrote for Women on Fire, Vol. 1.

Andrea formerly served as the vice president of sales and executive director of product innovation for The Longaberger Company as it grew to be a billion-dollar direct-selling business. She developed and oversaw the new product lines and was co-inventor on 27 products that received U.S. patents.

Andrea resides in Dresden, Ohio, with her husband and one of their six daughters.

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Getting Stuff Done!

My husband Rob Berkley, in addition to be one of the best coaches on the planet, is an amazing photographer.  (I’m embarassingly biased, I know, but he does have a few fans other than his wife!)

To welcome our hundreds of new Spark! readers this week, I asked him to share some of his latest summer photos with you. I hope you’ll be as inspired by his work as I am.

I think a lot about Rob when I struggle to fit it all in and get things done.

How is it possible, for example, with a full time-and-a-half job he has time to pursue and master his love of photography? (The half-time part of the job being my Honey-Do list for him!)

In the 15 years that we’ve been together, I’ve come to realize his magic:

He treats his time and energy as precious resources.

Do you?

I know I don’t.  And, it’s something I strive to improve upon.  For Women on Fire to pursue and live our dreams, I believe one of several keys to success is cultivating respect for our time and energy.

First, we have to be clear on what we want. Then, we have to determine the steps and take action to get what we want, and that entails honoring and organizing our time and energy in ways similar to Rob.

For example:

  • Rob rarely watches television
  • He starts his morning with practices that launch him into a powerful day (he journals, stretches, meditates, feeds the kitty, brews and delivers me a cup of coffee, possibly his most important job of the day! 😉
  • He rigorously notes and keeps a list of tolerations (the little and big things we tend to put up with that can annoy, frustrate and trip you up) and he works diligently to remove them from his environment
  • He masters his tools and uses time-saving technology such as Evernote and his iPhone timer to keep himself on track
  • He kindly says no to people and things he doesn’t want to do
  • He rarely procrastinates in making a decision and so the “no’s” don’t stack up and eat away at his energy
  • He works from home, proclaims a stop to his day, and rarely emails or texts after 6PM
  • Before he leaves the office, he makes a plan for the next day.

And then he takes a 30-minute daily walk with his camera. So he not only gets exercise but he practices a craft he’s loved since he was 11 years old.

After his walks, he excitedly brings home his photographic bounty.

And that, my sweet woman on fire, is the cherry on top of his time-management sundae!

 My wish is for you to adopt time-saving strategies to streamline your life and work so you can spend more time doing what you love and dream of!

This is a topic we will be discussing in our monthly membership program throughout the fall.

Have a wonderful week! I will be taking a break until September 8 for a little rest and relaxation.

Thank you for being you, and I so appreciate your role in our ever-expanding, powerful circle of fabulous women!


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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!


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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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Here we go!

Did you have a good holiday?  Are you wishing for another few days off?  Me, too. Yet, I’m very excited to dive into this year!

My husband Rob and I “worked” — as we always do over the holiday break — to create a plan for a great year ahead.  And, if you don’t have a plan yet for your amazing year, it’s not too late.

I put “work” in quotes, because it isn’t really work when you transform your dreams into reality.  It just takes time and patience and some guidance.

My theme for 2013. (Ooops, no spell-check with that orange Magic Marker!)

We invented Vision Day, a strategic planning day for your work and life, 15 years ago, and it has been the foundation of our success year-after-year no matter what bumps in the road we hit along the way.

I hope you won’t get tired of me telling you how essential it is for you to have a plan! If you don’t, life just takes it course and you end up feeling one year melts into another and you’re not sure what you’ve accomplished.

Each year, Rob conducts my Vision Day; I conduct his; and then together we create a plan and theme for us as a couple.  (You can imagine it’s a little more lively when we’re both in charge during the couple’s Vision Day;-)

Because you mean the world to me and my work is to help you put your gifts and talents into the world, I’d love to bring you inside for a peek at my Vision Day.  And outline some easy, simple steps so you can set up your own terrific year.

(Women on Fire monthly members, you have detailed instructions for your Great Start 2013 in your January CD package.)

First, it’s important to take stock and celebrate what you accomplished — or even lived through and survived — last year.

Next, it’s time to think about what you really want in this year ahead and write it down as goals.  Even if it seems out-of-reach now.  You have 365 days to move toward it!  Be sure to write down a list of people you can call on to support you in your efforts.

Finally, create an overall theme to inspire and guide you with your biggest dreams.

So, this year, my Vision Day results were a bit of a surprise to me.  When I allowed myself the luxury to really dream and think about things I deeply want in my life, I discovered some BIG goals.

A few of them raised fear.  And then I asked myself: if not now, when?

I was even afraid that my theme, which came to me out of the blue and felt so perfect — “The Year of Magnificent Accomplishments” — would seem too grandiose.

And then I remembered Marianne Williamson’s letter from many years ago to a struggling Oprah:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”

Marianne to the rescue at the perfect moment!

Rob and I then made a step-by-step plan for me to get where I want to go … and you can do that, too.  Here is where you can return each week for support and encouragement!

One of my gigantic goals is launching Women on Fire Media and publish at least one and maybe two books this year!

I have been wanting to do this for years — and after our last successful book — as a way for women to share their voices, inspiration and strategies with the world and in service of all women who need them.

Another big goal is to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Women on Fire with style and fun next October.  It’s unbelievable to me that our very first Women on Fire gathering at the Cherry Lane Theater in New York City was 10 years ago already!

Were you there? 🙂 I remember how excited I was as the room filled with 77 attendees and I watched how people shared what they were “on fire” about with such joy and enthusiasm. And 10 years later, we are thousands of women strong!

I was afraid then, too.  And I received so much support that my dream was serving a valuable need that I just kept going. And planned each new year. And here we are together!

There are more big goals to share with you as the year unfolds and I look forward to hearing all about yours.

I’d love you to know that Rob (with help from Wilber!) came up with a great theme to guide his year too.

When you have a moment, please let me know your progress in the comments section below.


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!

Facing a tough time?

What do you do when you are facing a crisis or major disruption in your life?   Do you retreat?  Plow forward?  Freeze in your tracks?

Before I found my stride, I reacted this past month with a bit of each.

As you know, Rob and I have been sorting out how to best care for and support his ailing mother (affectionately called MOTUS because she lives near the President in Washington, DC and we desperately needed a little humor!)

In one month, MOTUS transitioned from independent living in an assisted living apartment to 24/7 nursing home care and two hospital stays.  We want to be with her as much as possible and she needs us to.

Add to the mix, we are entrepreneurs with flexibility and freedom yet great responsibility and dedication to the people we serve, and we live hundreds of miles away from her.

In the end, one of the strategies above – retreat, plow ahead or freeze — is working best of all and I’d love to share with you which one and why.

But first …

I am writing to you from Naples, Florida.  More than a decade ago, Rob and I created a detailed vision for the lifestyle we wanted most.

In turning our vision into reality, we chose to live in our geographic homes — on Martha’s Vineyard for most of the year and Naples, Florida for the winter months.  So now is the time of the year when we make our “Great Migration” south.

Having grown up in snowy Ohio, I am still in awe that holiday decorations and palm trees co-exist!

Even though we have it down pretty well, our annual migration to Florida involves moving not only our car, clothes, and computers but our much-loved, 17-pound cat Wilber!

Wilber, tucked under the seat, has flown so often that he receives frequent flyer points as a card-carrying member of JetPaws!

So, as the situation and needs of MOTUS and the demands of our work and life and move to Florida collided, we set these goals and a strategy for best getting through this period in all our lives.

First, our goals for MOTUS:

1)   To feel and know she is loved

2)   Safe

3)   Comfortable

4)   Dignified

Then, for ourselves:

1)  Continuous forward motion

2) Increased self-care in this time of stress and crisis

That’s right, moving forward with our regular plans, even though they had to be changed frequently, has turned out to be our best strategy to help MOTUS and for us to feel a semblance of normalcy in the midst a difficult and often sad time.

Steady forward progress proved the wisest strategy for us even though flights, meetings and appointments have had to be cancelled and rescheduled.  Rob and I also took alternating turns in Washington caring for her and cleaning out her apartment so we saw less of each other.

Still, we are farther ahead and more at peace by proceeding as best as possible with our regular plans than if we would have retreated, frozen in our tracks or given up everything to tend to her this past month.

And, believe me, there have been moments when I felt frozen or thought I should stop everything and move to DC.

As of this moment, MOTUS is holding steady and is well cared for and loved in her nursing home community.

Rob and I are home together in Naples. Wilber is sunning himself on our screened-in porch, endearingly called “the catatarium.”

On a moment’s notice, we are prepared to return to Washington.

Our strategy has allowed us to have a stable base of operations with everything in place to take care of both her and us while we live through this temporary phase of her and our lives.

I hope if you are facing a similar situation or worse, you can take the time to find the strategy that will help you make it through.  And, that you have all the love and support you need.

Giving each other support is one of the reasons I started Women on Fire.  And, I am so deeply grateful for all the loving concern from so many of you in the past weeks!  Thank you.

Wishing you a wonderful week filled with lots of love,

Where, where and why?

Thank you for your tremendous and overwhelming response to the news that Jan Allen is joining our Women on Fire team.  This expansion allows us to offer and test models of even greater support to women everywhere by making Ohio a model state.

We’re deeply touched by your interest in our revolution of women joining forces to support each other to succeed.  And, we are thrilled you are here!

Women on Fire group Vision Day in Naples, Florida: Barb Zion, Margie Warrell, Debbie Phillips, Jamie Eslinger, Jessika Ferm, Tricia Simpson, Angela Ittu

A few hours ago, I hugged goodbye the phenomenal women from as far away as California, Ohio, Massachusetts and Virginia who attended our first-ever Women on Fire group Vision Day retreat in Naples, Florida.

Each woman worked on her plans and next steps to steer her life toward her big vision.  I loved spending the weekend in the presence of such courageous, awe-inspiring Women on Fire determined to accomplish her biggest dreams!

They crafted their plans while renewing their spirits, and I think you are going to be dazzled in the near future to see some of their results.

There are many components to living the life you dream of and I want to include you in on one that we touched on over the weekend.  How would you answer these questions?

Where were you born?  Where do you live now?  And, why?

It’s thought-provoking to consider that where you live could lead to a more fulfilling life.

Do you live in your geographic home?

For instance, I was born in Bryan, Ohio and I love my home state with all of my heart.  But I truly feel alive on the East Coast and especially after I settled on Martha’s Vineyard in 2001.  I was in my geographic home.

In my 15 years as a coach, I have seen people thrive and succeed to greater degrees when they live in their geographic home where they feel their best and most inspired.

If you know in your heart you’re not living in the right location but aren’t sure where that is, check out this free online survey.  Find Your Spot may show you locations that fit your criteria for the perfect place for you!

You know I love hearing from you.  So please feel free to share below.  If you are totally jazzed with where you live, please tell us where and why.  Or, if you need to find your geographic home and were inspired to take the quiz, I’d love to hear your results and whether they surprised you.

In the meantime, have a great week and I am sending you huge wishes to live your biggest dreams — in the location of your choice!

What to do about the Big O?

Sorry, if I got you excited about something other than what you might have hoped for from today’s headline.  😉

Not the big O herself — Oprah.  Or the Cosmopolitan Magazine “big O” either!

The Big O I’m talking about is the one that can knock you off the path toward your goals and dreams — or at least put a damper on your day — OVERWHELM.

I receive more emails from Women on Fire about this issue than any other topic.

We all have too, too much to do.

When our cups runneth over, and fear takes charge, a panicky overwhelm sets in.

In fact, this morning when I feared I wouldn’t be able to finish all I need to do today, anxiety and overwhelm struck me and I froze in my tracks…until I did the technique I’m going to show you.

But first…

Last week, I had the delightful experience of joining best-selling author Marci Shimoff on Woman on Fire Bonnie Marcus’s farewell radio program Head Over Heels.

During the interview, which you can listen to in its entirety here (look for the AudioAcrobat link under my photo), Marci shared an exercise for bringing more love into your life.

The exercise was developed by the Institute of HeartMath, a non-profit organization dedicated to lowering stress and building our resilience.  I have followed HeartMath’s work and incorporated it into my coaching practice for years.

Marci recommends this breathing exercise to build and to open to love.

But, I’ve used this surprisingly simple exercise successfully for years when I feel scared with overwhelm.  It works for both!

Here’s how I do it.  Feel free to try it.

Recipe to Vanquish Your Overwhelm

1)   Place your hand over your heart

2)   Close your eyes

3)   Inhale and exhale

4)   See and imagine your breath coming from your heart

5)   With each breath, you can say comforting words to yourself such as “I’m OK,” “I will be fine,” “everything important will get done.”

6)   Continue for a few minutes or until you feel ready to stop

7)  Experience the feeling of peace and calm

(Please let me know how this works for you in the comments section below.)

On the recording, Marci, whose latest book is Love For No Reason, does a beautiful job walking you through this exercise.

Have a great week, free and clear of any overwhelm!

Here’s to you staying connected, inspired and motivated!

Much love,


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