Just when I needed help most…

A couple of weeks ago I looked at my schedule for the rest of 2013 and couldn’t imagine how I was going to fit it all in.  Plus, I was so tired if you saw me you’d say, “yup, you look pretty bad and wiped out.”

*This week’s Pinspiration*

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Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage- Check out the latest from www.womenonfire.com about vulnerabilty

That’s when I called in a Women on Fire sister to my rescue — Janette Barber!  (You’ll see this phenomenal woman below in the happy blue glasses.)

“Help,” I yelped. “I don’t think I can make it into New York City to lead our beloved holiday tea. Even though I want to so much.”

Women on Fire Tea in New York City led by Janette holding brand-new copies of our Women on Fire book! Front row: Shannon McCaffery, Teri Goetz, Janette Barber, Darlene Wade. Second row: Meredith Schoenberger, Karen Panish, Stephanie Dalfonzo, Jaclyn Reilly, Daren Stinson. Back row: Ellen Wingard, Holly Getty, Eva Tenuto, Julie Bovey, Colleen Pero, Sheryl Snyder, Susan Perry. (Photos by Benjamin  Philabaum)

Making new friends at the tea — Sheryl Snyder and Shannon McCaffery

Women on Fire spiced up the holidays at the tea with Colleen Pero, Karen Panish, Holly Getty, Janette Barber and Ellen Wingard.

And when I put out the distress signal, how did Janette respond?

“Yes.  I am happy to. And I’m honored and grateful that you know that I mean it when I said I wanted to help.  I’m also glad to see you taking care of yourself because you are under such stress.”

Now that is an amazing friend and exactly what I’ve come to rely on inside our community. And it was true, Janette took one look at me a few weeks earlier and offered to do anything I needed.

So Janette led the tea for me, and already I’ve heard back so much positive and exciting feedback about what an amazing experience it was!

I tell you all of this because I wonder how often are you offered help? When you are, do you take it seriously? Do you accept it?

This is an area I have so much trouble with myself. But I am so often rewarded by such love and support when I do that I’m finally learning to let go of “doing it all” and let in the help that’s right here for me.

In asking someone for help, I often worry about burdening them.  And here in her loving email written after she filled in for me at the tea, my dear Janette released me of all guilt when she wrote:

“I can’t tell you how wonderful it feels to me to know that you trust me enough to know that you can ask. It means the world to me.”

No, Janette, you mean the world to me.

Thank you for being a part of this amazing sisterhood!

Whose help are you going to accept this week? 🙂

Just a quickie! ;-)

Hope you won’t mind me popping in quickly to just say hi.

I’m in New York City with Rob celebrating my birthday and am squeezing out every single second in this fabulous city!

We’ve gone to the theater twice (saw performances of “Motown” and “Book of Mormon”; loved them both and recommend to you); had lunch at my new favorite restaurant Marea (author Toni Morrison sat by us!)

And we’ve walked, walked, walked including past my favorite Big Booty Bakery! Every time I see this sign I crack up, and Rob just happened to be there with his camera – ahem.

Women on Fire personal style consultant Holly Getty is headed over to pick me up in a few minutes — to go buy new bras from her special source. After our Women on Fire “Get Your Summer On” cleanse success, I lost 8 pounds and am now in need of new ones. (Sorry about the TMI!)

(More soon on how our fabulous group of Women on Fire, led by holistic health coach Amy Marzluff,did after our 21-day cleanse.  We can’t wait to share with you some of our favorite yummy, luscious, healthy recipes!)

Before I go, thank you to all the wonderful women who attended last Friday’s Women on Fire tea in New York City.

The tea kicked off my birthday weekend. And, just when I think a tea party can’t get any more inspiring, it does.  We had soooo much fun!  (We celebrated Kelley Black’s birthday, too! And, talented singer-songwriter Jaclyn Reilly gave us a little concert:-))

Photo by Rob Berkley

Women on Fire tea participants: Front row: Mary Ann Reilly, Jaclyn Reilly, Susan Perry, Teresa Goetz; back row: Meredith Schoenberger, Debbie Palocin, Darlene Wade, Holly Getty, Jan Nolte, me!, Lexi Baltazar, Kelley Black, Michelle Tenzyk and Shannon McCaffery. Missing from photo: Jenifer Madson and Pier Boutin.

Happy official summer to each of you! Thank you for reading The Spark! and being a part of this amazing community and for sharing Women on Fire with the fabulous women you love.

See YOU soon at a Women on Fire event!  I’ll be back next week … a year older and maybe even a week wiser:-)

7 ways Women on Fire can help you

Happy continuing summer!

I’ve sprinkled in a few summer flowers for you from Martha’s Vineyard that my amazing photographer husband Rob Berkley took last week. Hope you like!

It’s your obligation to do what you love because that’s what you are gifted at. Nature doesn’t fool around. When she designs you to do something, she makes you love it. And, to achieve our dreams, we need each other. ~ Barbara Sher

I recently interviewed Barbara Sher, the charming, effervescent coach and best-selling author who wrote personal development classics you may have read such as Wishcraft and It’s Only Too Late If I Don’t Start Now.

At 76, she is a hoot, filled with fun, passion and plain-spoken wisdom!

In a wide-ranging discussion from her home in Toulouse, France, we talked about living your dreams – everything from how to find your passion to what you need in order to achieve the success you want.

And, most important of all – how important we are to each other to make our dreams come true. Here is Barbara’s recipe for reaching our dreams:

You know the secret to success – plain and simple – is a bunch of people who want to see you make it. That’s the secret.

So, how do we find those people who want to help us make it?

First of all, by becoming a supporter of others’ dreams that you are inspired by. Women on Fire are legendary for supporting each other’s dreams and successes!

Sometimes finding those interested in our dreams is a lot like dating when you’re  in search of your dream-come-true relationship.  When you find it, you know it!  It feels easy and right (at least in the beginning;-)

And, like dating, if you are chasing down people and expecting them to like you,  your product, service or idea, it probably feels hard and difficult.  Critical, unresponsive or disinterested people are “just not that into you” and are not the people who want to see you make it!

So, what works?

If you consistently hone and share your passion, you will attract and grow your “bunch of people,” as Barbara would say, and they will help lift you up and expand your dreams.

I started Women on Fire in 2003 as a warm, inviting community for women to express their passions, interests and dreams – and to increase your chances of receiving support and finding “your people.”  It began with a handful of men and women at a single event and today we are more than 3,000!

One of the greatest joys of my life is each and every day, multiple times a day, I see the exchange of support of women in this community. You are awesome!

For those of you who are new – and there are hundreds of you – here are ways to join in and be connected with Women on Fire as a way to find your “bunch of people who want to see you make it!”

Many of the details are listed each week in the Calendar section:

  1. Women on Fire teas — even if you don’t live in a city offering one, consider treating yourself to one in a city you’d like to visit; it’s a great way to meet women, celebrate what you are “on fire” about or receive support and receive support for your dreams or if you are in a transition.
  2. Retreats — each year there is an annual gathering of Women on Fire from across the country. Many valuable friendships are made and reestablished at the retreats and this year’s will be Oct. 26-27 in Chicago.
  3. The Spark! — in your hands right now; weekly, free inspiration, strategies and support. Hope you will pass along to any fabulous woman in your life who could use a boost, a hug and to know she’s not alone.
  4. Books To Live By — each month I share a book and author whose work will help to propel your life forward; if you are receiving The Spark! you will be receiving Books To Live By at the beginning of each month.
  5. Coaching groups — At Women on Fire, we have two coaching groups available. One is virtual. You Can Do Anything is a year-long group led by Women on Fire marketing and communications director Jamie Eslinger.  The other is an in-person group in Columbus, Ohio. Life, Ignited is led by Women on Fire’s National Chair Jan Allen. Please be in touch with either Jan@womenonfire.org or Jamie@womenonfire.org if you are interested in these groups when there are openings.
  6. Facebook group — there is a private group with daily discussions, requests, news that you are invited to participate in. Simply make the request and you will be granted entry!
  7. Membership — for $1 a day you are welcome to join our monthly membership program and receive special CD interviews (with inspiring notable women such as Barbara Sher, Barbara Corcoran, Vanessa Williams, Tory Johnson.) A monthly coaching Video Live Chat with me and much, much more! All of the details are here.
  8. And, a very big welcome this week to our newest monthly members: Mary Blohm, Sugar Grove, IL; Darlene Wade of Brooklyn, NY; Susan Burhans, Old Saybrook, CT; Diane Denard-Leiter, Doylestown, PA; Kelly Hurley, Thornton, CO; and Sheryl Childs, Mackinaw City, MI.

So these are a few of the ways to begin to build support for your dreams and goals — and to share in the inspiring dreams of other women.


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 gifts are waiting for you?

One of the many reasons I get so excited about you attending a Women on Fire event is because I know you will walk away feeling “on fire” about your life.

And, how do I know this???

Women tell me all the time that they stay “on fire” for days, weeks, months afterward. And, then they tell me all the wonderful things that were “sparked” in their lives because they felt inspired and supported!

The joy and energy of fabulous women connecting with each other and sharing their hearts and their dreams and what they need to move forward (yes, it is OK to ask for help!) creates a magical experience.

After all these years, and countless Women on Fire gatherings, even I learn something new and walk away inspired after every single event.

Come with me inside the tea we held in New York City last week.

Women on Fire Tea in New York City — Janina Serden Sebesky, Holly Getty, Sophfronia Scott, Jen Madson, Maureen Wheeler, Lauren Possee, Terri Cole, Dawn Halkuff, Lara Licharowicz, Jodi Graber, Debbie Phillips, Wendy Lagstein, Ines Altemose, Ellen Wingard and Colleen Pero.

I want to give you a little flavor of the wisdom, the learning, the inspiration and the caring that takes place at a Women on Fire event.

Sophfronia Scott, founder of Done For You Writing, shared the lessons from a book I’d never heard of called The Traveler’s Gift: Seven Decisions that Determine Personal Success.

The premise of this spiritual parable is that there are so many good things waiting to be delivered to us, but do we cut them off before they have a chance to arrive?

We all took a big, deep breath … and listened deeply as Sophfronia shared her plans to claim all that is waiting for her.  She inspired us to remember we all have gifts within reach …just waiting for us, too!

Leadership consultant Ellen Wingard told us of her recent travels to South Africa and an inspiring quote by Wendell Berry to describe where we sometimes find ourselves in life: “to be joyful, though you have considered all the facts.”  We all laughed knowingly.

Wendy Lagstein, the Smile Director of a dental firm, had us in tears with what she was “on fire” about.

She told us of the Woman on Fire in her life — her daughter Farra who recently joined Wendy to run a 5K race.  Enchanted that Wendy is a Woman on Fire, Farra claimed she is, too, and shared with Wendy a very long list of what she’s on fire about in her 7-year-old life!

Wendy Lagstein with our youngest Woman on Fire, 7-year-old Farra!

And, these snippets are but a fraction of the gifts offered, passions shared, friends made, plans propelled forward at a Women on Fire event.

Have you thought about the gifts waiting for you? They are your dreams and desires that may seem out of reach.  What if they are only a hand away?

You are so welcome to share your thoughts about them on the Debbie Phillips blog.

In the meantime, I hope if you live anywhere close to upcoming Women on Fire teas in Cheboygan, Michigan; Santa Fe, New Mexico; Columbus, Ohio; or New York City, you’ll check out the calendar section below and register to attend.

You deserve the boost of moving closer to the life you dream of!

Or, as Woman on Fire Janina Serden Sebesky reminds us:“To keep a lamp burning, we have to put oil in it.” ~ Mother Teresa

The last time you filled up?

Hello from snowy Alpena, Michigan! I’m about to hop on a plane to Naples, Florida after three days here speaking at four events to more than 250 phenomenal women “on fire” (and quite a few men, too:-)

I am leaving this city on the shores of exquisite Lake Huron with my heart full and, in a moment, you’ll see why my tummy is full, too!

But first…

I am wondering how you are? As the long winter turns toward spring, are you in need of a renewal?

If you were with us in Alpena these past few days, you are likely full of fire and ready to take on the world. And, if you weren’t, I want to share why my visit to Alpena has left me feeling renewed and filled with joy and how you might benefit, too.

It all started when Women on Fire Book Co-Author Mary Ellen Jones saw the need in her community for women to be inspired and re-energized. (You know MEJ from her terrific chapter “Finding Love Way Past 40” in the Women on Fire book.  A former television producer, she moved from the shiny hills of Hollywood to the rolling hills of a farm near Alpena to be with her beloved “gentleman farmer.” Or, as she puts it, “I went from the stage door to the barn door!”)

For nearly a year, MEJ and many caring others worked to organize RENEW, an event to connect fabulous women to each other to renew their hearts, minds and spirits.  She invited me to be the keynote speaker.

(You won’t believe the hilarious thing that MEJ did to surprise me when she introduced me to the wonderfully enthusiastic crowd at RENEW. She told them about my sweet tooth and my rule that I refuse to eat a dessert bigger than my head. Check out what happened in this video!)

What I hadn’t counted in Alpena was how I would be the one renewed these past few days and here’s why:

* Surrounded in nature — mountains of snow, gusts of fresh air and the tastiest, freezing cold water from the tap — awakened my senses and made me feel alive.

* Family-style meals with long-time and brand-new friends and pets Bootsie and Sammy filled my heart and made me feel so at home. (Thank you, MEJ, Rich Mills, Nan Katzenberger, Christine Wagner and Jamie Eslinger.)

* Dedicated and enthusiastic Women on Fire  — Julia McLemore, Lisa Davis Cooper, Kim Dettmer, Anne Thurston, Mary Lou Peters, Beth Kloesener, Debra Collins, Lori Tomlinson — drove long distances through ice and snow to attend RENEW.  It was so great to see them and I felt very loved and supported.

* The warmth of the people of Alpena.  Everywhere we went people welcomed us — and even showered us with gifts!

* The hope and enthusiasm from the many, many men and women — from ages 12-88 — at the events where I spoke, to live their dreams and be their best, lifted me up.

So, here I was half-way across the country “working” and I was the one filled up as though I just took a vacation!  Thank you, Woman on Fire extraordinaire Mary Ellen Jones and to each and every person in Alpena who shared a hug, a hope, a dream with me.

What is it you need to do today for you to feel renewed, loved and supported? Please pop down to the comments section and share with us.  We really want to hear.

Here is a fun little video our talented Jamie Eslinger captured of our Alpena experience. I hope it inspires you to find your own renewal.
(Hint: the video also reveals the reason why my tummy is full!)

WARNING: There are images of a woman in her pajamas!

Love and hugs,