Sneak peek inside a Women on Fire Tea Party!

I am still on a high after last Friday’s Women on Fire Tea in Naples, Florida.

What a joy to meet all the women who came from far and wide to listen deeply to what each other is  “on fire” about; to confide innermost fears, desires and dreams; and to cheer each other on.

The fabulous Women on Fire Tea Party participants in Naples, Florida

After leading these events for nearly seven years, this particular tea also touched my heart  because it was the first one my mother Mary Lue Phillips had ever attended.  (She loved the women and the experience so much that afterward she wondered how she can attend every single tea from here on!)

My mother Mary Lue Phillips and Woman on Fire Karen Kilpatrick

I’d love to introduce my mother to you and take you inside for a private view of the opening circle at the tea in Naples …

Video Here

Having my mother there also brought awareness to the incredible gifts that flow through us from our mothers.  No matter your history, your status or your relationship with your mother, do you know which gifts you possess from her?

It is both freeing and empowering to recognize and honor them.  I thank my mother for her compassion and positive spirit, her warmth, her love of people and her sense of humor! She is a funny one (as many of you remarked after watching her eat a Limpopo last summer!) and I am so grateful to receive those gifts from her.

Two Women on Fire at the tea whose strength, generosity, creativity and wisdom greatly influence my own life — Anne Gallagher and my mother Mary Lue Phillips.

Please pop on down to the comments section below to share what is special about your mother that you are the lucky recipient of!

Have a wonderful week and stay tuned for some very exciting new happenings at Women on Fire to bring you even more inspiration, strategies and support!



Women On Fire® names National Program Chair

Each day, I receive emails about the tremendous difference Women on Fire support has made in your lives.

In the past week alone, I heard from one of our members that she finished her novel and another informed me her lifestyle show has been “green-lit” by Oprah’s new network OWN.  Both women attributed her success to the inspiration, strategies and support from her Women on Fire sisters.

I want you to know we are building even more systems of support for you.

Today, I am announcing the appointment of Jan Allen as Women on Fire’s National Chair of the Each One Reach One Program. The program will launch nationally with an intense focus on Ohio as a model state that embraces and supports women to live the lives they dream of.

Jan Allen

Jan, who lives in Columbus, Ohio, is a talented business strategist, change agent and organizational expert — and she’s been my best friend for 25 years.

We have supported each other through every twist and turn of our careers and life — and we will continue to share our combined knowledge, success strategies (and our mistakes, too!) — with you and all Women on Fire.

In her new position, Jan will help to lead some very exciting plans and programs that we have in the works. There are more than 2,000 women nationwide  involved already in our organization.  Our first goal is to reach and connect 5,000 women in Ohio to each other so they have the inspiration, strategies and support to make their dreams realities.  After that, our plan is to connect at least 1,000 women or more in every state and country.

Here’s a little more about Jan and why I feel Women On Fire is so fortunate to have her talent and support:

She was one of the first women to hold a top position in state government, as Deputy Chief of Staff to former Ohio Governor Richard F. Celeste. She has also led executive teams, most recently in Ohio Governor Ted Strickland’s Administration and prior to that as a business owner and principal of three successful entrepreneurial enterprises. In addition to her vast experience, she is trained as a lawyer, executive coach and therapist.

Shortly after I became a coach in 1995, virtually an unheard-of profession back then, Jan and I together launched a very successful women’s group in Columbus. Some of you were even in that group!  That year-long experience of women supporting women through inspiration and strategies served as a forerunner for what is today Women on Fire.

Welcome, Jan!

Now, here’s where you come in:

Imagine the world if each one of us would reach out to just one other woman to give her the support she needs to succeed?

As part of the Each One Reach One program, if you know of one other fabulous woman who may be struggling and could benefit from Women on Fire inspiration, please encourage her to subscribe today to our free, weekly newsletter The Spark!

No matter where you live, if you are or know of a woman in Ohio who can reach many women, please email Jan at

Additionally, I am pleased to announce Andrea Dowding, who has led Ohio coaching groups and tea parties since 2008, will be Women on Fire’s Ohio Training Leader to build a cadre of talented coaches and facilitators who can lead and connect women in powerful, in-person settings.  Please let me know if you want to shine as a leader of women in your community and would be interested in learning more.

Finally, before I sign off, please mark your calendar. I am thrilled to announce Women on Fire Day will be held in Columbus, Ohio on September 23, 2011. It will be the first stop on our new and exciting Women On Fire National Tour. Stay tuned, more dates and cities will be announced soon!

My dream is for you to have your dream.


I judged too quickly…

Have you ever made up your mind about something or someone and then found out you were wrong?  Well, I almost made a terrible mistake by doing that.

Many of you are fans of the life coach Martha Beck or at least know of her.  Some of you are even Martha Beck-trained coaches.

Martha is a columnist for O Magazine, holds three degrees from Harvard, and is a best-selling author of several books and a sought-after speaker.  For years I skimmed her writings and didn’t feel a connection to her as a woman or as a coach.

Honestly, sadly, embarrassingly, I know now that I mostly dismissed what she had to offer.  I am not sure why.

Debbie Phillips with Martha Beck
Martha Beck is a totally captivating speaker and a very dear soul who is a true Woman on Fire!

Then, last fall I had the great fortune to meet her in person, not once but twice, including a private lunch with her, and I received the full impact of this extraordinary woman.  I totally fell in love with her, with who she is (very funny and authentic!), what she has to say (smart and practical), and how she uplifts those around her (with warmth and caring)!

I listened to her share with such love and humor her life struggles and hard-won triumphs.  If Martha can cope with three kids under age five and debilitating, chronic pain in her hands to spend 15 minutes a day for a year typing with a pencil wedged between her fingers to write a best-selling book, I have no excuses!  She’s full of that kind of inspiration.

And, strategies, too, such as my favorite piece of Martha wisdom: “Never put off until tomorrow what you can cancel today!”

I now love Martha so much that I am going to Scottsdale this week to attend a workshop she and one of her talented coaches (and a Woman on Fire!) Susan Hyatt are hosting.

Debbie Phillips with Martha Beck
Martha signed a copy of her best-selling book “Steering by Starlight” when I met her for the second time last fall at The Ladies Who Launch event in New York City.

What I learned from all of this is to slow down and make sure I fully take in what someone has to offer.  Turns out Martha is a beacon of Women on Fire-ness, and had I not opened my eyes a little wider when I did, I would have missed out on knowing someone truly extraordinary.  In this instance, someone I eagerly want to share with our Women on Fire community.

Have you ever misjudged someone as I feel I did Martha?  What happened? What would you have lost or did you lose out on?  I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments below.



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,


Sign up for spark


Fun Video: Women on Fire Recap 2010

Hello to you and to 2011!

Here’s a quick look back on 2010.  These video snippets are but a fraction of the fun we had at Women on Fire in 2010. Especially check out the wisdom of Janette Barber and Stedman Graham!

I hope you see yourself in this video. You are the reason I personally enjoyed a phenomenally inspiring and exciting year!

Super talent Jamie Eslinger, Women on Fire’s marketing and communications director, created this video. She and I had so much fun going to the beach in Naples, Florida to film the last scene in it.

Of course, I could have talked for an hour instead of a minute.  I have so much to say to you about living your life full out!  Your gifts, strengths and talents shared are changing the world.

Enjoy the video and feel free to comment on anything you want to say about your experience with Women on Fire.  I love, love, love hearing from you!

Congratulations for everything you’ve accomplished, created, achieved – and survived! – in 2010.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being a part of our Women on Fire community. You are – and we are together — changing the way women connect with each other and feel supported to stay strong on our paths to succeed.

Lots of new plans, programs and events ahead in 2011 to inspire your extraordinary life!

With love and excitement for all your possibilities ~


What would happen if you married your passions?

I’ve just returned from a fabulous time in New York City and Columbus, Ohio.

I’ve been on the road for the past two weeks to attend Women on Fire tea parties. And, while in Columbus, I talked about 5 Powerful Ways to Kick Off  2011 on NPR’s All Sides With Ann Fisher (you can listen to the interview here.)   I also co-led with my best friend Jan Allen a transition session for members of outgoing Ohio Governor Ted Strictland’s senior staff.

All that meeting and talking about how to express your life’s potential reminded me of how powerful and inspiring it is when we combine — or marry — our passions, interests and skills.

Today I’m going to introduce you to a woman I’ve personally wanted to meet for a long time who has done just that.  She combined her various interests in a surprising way and founded one of the country’s leading ice cream companies!

But first…

My new “do” courtesy of celebrity hair stylist Jacob Neal

I’ve been so busy traveling that I hadn’t scheduled time for a haircut. So, I was running around like a shaggy dog when I remembered my former stylist in New York City Jacob Neal now operates a gorgeous salon in Columbus.

It was fabulous to reconnect with him and in no time at all he whipped up my great new short haircut.  I felt ready to take on the world!

Then, the coolest thing happened.  I went to see Women on Fire book co-author Patricia Wynn Brown perform at TedxWomen in Columbus.  (Tedx, by the way, was brought to Columbus by two terrific, inspiring women you should know, if you don’t — Ruth Milligan and Nancy Kramer.)

While attending, I met up with a woman I’ve been dying to meet who has inspired me for years: Jeni Britton Bauer, founder of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams!

How fun to finally meet rock star ice cream entrepreneur Jeni Britton Bauer at TedxWomen in Columbus!

As much as I would go to the end of the earth to eat her ice creams — with unusual combinations of flavors you might not associate with ice cream such as Salty Caramel, Wildberry Lavender, Thai Chili, Cocoa Zin, Riesling Pear, Goat Cheese with Roasted Cherries — it is her story that intrigues me.

She grew up enthralled with the tastes and smells of the herbs and flowers in her grandmother’s extensive gardens.  At college she majored in art and worked in a French patisserie.  And, at age 22 she married her passions for flavors, textures, smells and the creativity of art and food and applied it to ice cream!

“At our company, all roads lead to ice cream,” she told women in Columbus.  “The memory associated with flavor is very strong. Flavor takes you to a feeling and a memory.”  Her ice cream, created from local ingredients, and more flavorful than sweet became Jeni’s vehicle to deliver pleasure!

Woman on Fire Jan Orosz first told me about Jeni’s Elderberry and Ohio Sweet Cream ice cream. Jeni brought it and two other ice creams as a treat for TedxColumbus attendees. YUM!

Jeni went on to describe her life as an entrepreneur, saying that she views herself first as a mother with two small children and then as a customer advocate.  Her office includes not only a desk and chair but a kitchen with a stove and refrigerator where she and a colleague test until perfection each and every flavor of ice cream.

Success is starting to come fast for Jeni with a new book about to hit the market and new cities and markets clamoring for her special ice creams.

Still “every single day we wake up fighting for our lives,”  she said, adding that the joy, however, supercedes the terrifying roller coaster that is often the life of a business owner.

When you think about your own life, what passions have you combined to create something new, exciting or rewarding?

And, if you’re working to figure out your next steps in your life, like Jeni, which of your talents, passions and interests could you combine to create your next great thing?

I’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to share in the comments section below.

Until next week, take extra good care of yourself.

And, if you’re anywhere near Jeni’s Ice Cream, please treat yourself to a scoop of Banana Caramel Cashew or Raspberry Mascarpone or Cayenne Chocolate — and know you’re also celebrating the success of a woman’s courage to pursue her passions!

Much love,


Who cheers you on?

It’s unusually chilly and dreary here today on Martha’s Vineyard. A sharp contrast to the warmth and heat I’ve enjoyed these past 10 days traveling and meeting so many Women on Fire!

In New York City on Friday, we packed our beloved Lady Mendl’s Tea Parlour once again with a full house of fabulous women.


Women On Fire Tea Party New York City -- Front row: Colleen Pero, Shawn Tesser, Sallie Glickman, Sarah Elizabeth Greer, Dr. Robyn Silverman, Debbie Phillips, June Zeringue, Shannon McCaffery, Janina Serden Sebeskey, Janette Barber. Back row: Laurena Brittain, Jenifer Madson, Sora Vernikoff, Bridget Ford Hughes, Paula Alekson, Holly Getty. (Missing: Heike Vogel and Colette Foster-Franck)

For half the women who attended, it was her first tea party.


Debbie Phillips with Shawn Tesser, producer of Bravo's "Inside The Actor's Studio," who attended her first Women on Fire tea party

Each participant shares what she is “on fire” about, where she is in her life right now, and what she needs for support.

As each woman at the tea party spoke, she had the rapt attention of the other 15 women listening to her. After saying what she was on fire about – or not, she was cheered on by the rest of us for her success, her struggle, her dreams.

Women often tell me Women on Fire tea parties and coaching groups are one of the few places where they connect with other women and genuinely feel heard, supported and motivated to take next steps.

Who cheers you on in your life?


Bridget Hughes toasts Robyn Silverman's new book "Good Girls Don't Get Fat" -- How Weight Loss Obsession Is Messing Up Our Girls And How We Can Help Them Thrive Despite It

Think about it. You work so hard to do your best…in all your many, many roles. No matter what your dream is, who helps you up when you trip? Whispers “go, go, go” as you figure it out? Applauds you when you make it? Celebrates you when you’ve achieved it?

Life is too tough not to have many hands at your back.

That’s one way Women on Fire make a difference in each others’ lives. We want you to succeed.


Congratulations to Dr. Robyn Silverman for achieving a long-held dream to publish her book. Thank you to her publisher Harlequin for gifting a book to each tea party attendee!

You’ve heard me say a hundred times: “a rising tide lifts all boats.” When you’re supported, you succeed. And, when you support another woman with her dreams, you are carried that much higher.

I’d love to hear who and what you rely on on a regular basis for inspiration and support? If you don’t have that in your life right now, I strongly urge you to find a place where you do!

With love,


PS The next Women on Fire event in New York City is 4-7PM Friday, December 3.  It is our first-time ever, special Mother-Daughter Tea Party.  It is expected to sell out asap.  If you are considering attending, please register TODAY at :

You go, girl!

Not sure who said it, but I love this quote:

“If you don’t travel, it’s like reading one page of a book.”

I am back home on Martha’s Vineyard after nearly two weeks on the road  (and two inspiring Women on Fire Tea Parties!) in New York City and Columbus, Ohio.  After being on the go, I feel so enriched from the Women on Fire I met and talked with.

Here are the phenomenal women who shared their aspirations at the tea party in Columbus hosted by Andrea Dowding and Jerry Browning:

Receiving support from fabulous women can move you forward!

I love to travel and I know many of you do, too.

These are five of my favorite strategies I use to get the most out of my business trips:

  • When I can, I stay with friends in the cities where I’m working because it gives me a sense of family and allows me to catch up with people I love. (Thank you for hosting me Holly Getty in NYC and Nancy Kramer in Columbus!)
  • I seek out what I can’t find anywhere else (on this trip Jeni’s for ice cream and the Polarity Center for bodywork in Columbus and the YELO napping/reflexology station for relaxation and Lee’s Art Shop for unique cards and gifts in NYC.)
  • I double my self-care and schedule manicures, pedicures, haircuts, massages and other treatments in between my meetings and events to bolster my energy and ease any weariness.
  • I pack a travel candle (I like The Naked Bee® beeswax brand because it’s small and burns so nicely) and bring along an inspirational book such as Marianne Williamson’s prayer book Illuminata.
  • And, my favorite strategy of all is that I meet as many Women on Fire as I can.  It energizes me to meet you in person and to hear what you are “on fire” about! It also gives me ideas about who I might connect with whom.

In New York, for instance, I met chef and entrepreneur Elizabeth Ann Foster who is launching MacHealthy’s, a soon-to-be franchise with a twist — healthy fast food!  I can’t wait to introduce her especially to the many Women on Fire moms who are frustrated to find quick and healthy eating options.

In Columbus, I met up with Kacy Cook, who has published three books in the past year, including an acclaimed children’s novel Nuts.  A brilliant writer and editor, Kacy is in her mid-50s as she experiences this astounding and exciting success.  (It is never too late to turn your long-held dreams into reality!)

There were many more Women on Fire I loved meeting these past two weeks, and I returned home energized, inspired and with many new ideas.

For those of you who travel:

  • What do you do to get the most out of your travel?
  • How do you take care of yourself when you are on the road?
  • What activities leave you feeling the most energized and inspired?

Please share on the blog with the hundreds of women who read The Spark! each week and would love to hear from you.

I wish you an absolutely terrific week ~



PS  More snapshots from the Women on Fire Tea Party in Columbus!

Bobbie Celeste and Jerry Browning

Jenn Bajec, Susan Rosenberg and Connie Hieatt