Tag Archives: Women On Fire

JAMIE’S BLOG – YEAR 9 – DAY 310 :: don’t quit – 55 days to go

6 Nov


There are 55 days left of The Promise 365 and I have to say I am wrestling with the idea of what it means to quit. I don’t like to quit anything. It’s the athlete in me I guess. I woke up this morning with a slight panic in my heart knowing I had made the decision to complete my promise.

I called my best friend, Amy, and she reminded me that I had only intended to do this blog for one year. Since it has been nine she gave me permission to not think of this as quitting but rather moving forward. Then she gave me 100 points because Amy knows that I speak in sports. Somehow that made me feel better about my decision, even though they are phantom points and this blog is really not a team sport. So I am going to give myself points each night through the end of the year, for this isn’t quitting, it is the grand finale, the championship, the Superbowl of blogging!

So tonight, we begin the countdown to the grand finale, 55 more days to go!

On Night 55, I reflect on why I started this blog. It came from a promise I made to myself not to shop for an entire year. I was inspired by a stay at Lake Austin Spa Resort in Austin, Texas where I visited with Debbie Phillips of Women on Fire for a week. While being pampered with multiple massages and facials I realized something deeply profound: I had never stayed at a spa before.

Why was this? I didn’t know until I looked at the price list for my next massage and realized it was expensive, the same price as the dress I had just bought from Boston designer Cibeline. I loved clothes! I loved shoes! But what I loved, even more, was the feeling I was having covered in lavender essential oil after a Starry, Starry Night massage. I wanted more of it. 

Little did I know that was going to be the moment that changed the next nine years. I had the same feeling then that I have now… standing on the precipice of change. Then, I was making a promise to not shop for an entire year and instead invest that money in my head, heart, body and soul (and spa treatments!). Now, I am making a decision to end that first promise that led me down a path nine years long.

Two different moments, but the same feeling is inside me. Change.

When we change we draw a line in the sand between the past and the future. We throw down the gauntlet of routine and say to the universe, “Surprise me!” Instead of clinging to the past we reach out to the future.

This is me, reaching out to the future. If I have learned anything in these past nine years it is this: don’t get stuck looking back, it is better to move forward.   

I am excited about what the future will bring. But for the next 55 days I will be sharing moments of the past, the lessons I have learned from writing this blog every night. So, keep reading (don’t quit on me now!). 

Trust me!
More tomorrow.Jamie


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Day 299: that’s a wrap!

27 Oct

As our weekend is coming to a close, so is the amazing Women on Fire retreat here in Chicago.

Here’s one of my favorite photos of the day, of Tandi and I, as we soaked in a few moments of sitting still before we all leave on a jet plane in the direction of home tomorrow.

I have now emerged from our retreat and the “burrito of love” that happens when Debbie Phillips gets more than 70 women in the same room, from all over the country, together sharing their biggest dreams and heartfelt stories.

Back to reality.
And a really big storm.

These are just a few of the headlines staring back at me as I reconnect with the real world and the internet:

And, of course, the one that makes my eyes go wide as pictures of living directly on the beach dance through my head:

Sandy’s Storm Surge a Major Threat

Yup! That’s right. We’ve been in the beach house for not even THREE weeks and there is an unprecedented storm heading in our direction. I literally had to look up the definition of “storm surge” and it basically means — get out of town!

So tomorrow I fly home, and will flee home, all in the same day.
But tonight…

I am going to go to bed dreaming in my blue eye mask:

Here’s to sweet dreams and good wishes for everyone to ride out this storm and stay safe and warm.

Sweet dreams.

Day 297: may the best scent win…and I’m smelly

25 Oct

I spied with my little eye these totally fun lotions today…

It made me wonder …just what would our Founding Fathers think if they saw what we’ve done with their great experiment in democracy.

What would they think of Facebook, Twitter and other virtual election memes?

What would they think of Saturday Night Live skits that mock the election?

What would they think of “eau-lection” body lotion?

And …does it matter?
I suppose it doesn’t, really.

Everything evolves, changes, grows up, spreads wings — gets a little orange and minty.

I kind of love it. 
May the best scent win. 

P.S. For the record I am in full-on event planning mode and have not showered today! Going to take care of that soon…promise.

P.P.S. You can follow this fabulous Women on Fire event on Twitter at #wofretreat (hey, it’s a free world, you can do what you please!)

Day 83: f*ing friday :: fire it up

23 Mar

It’s F*ing Friday!
I mentioned some of my favorite F words back on Day 5 in Year 1, including: Fearless, Fabulous, Fine, Fun, Faith, Freedom, Forgiveness, to name a Few.

Last week I dove into the word Free Food. 

Today’s F*ing Friday is dedicated to the word:
Fire it up.

As in, passion.

Tonight, I led a Women on Fire Tea at Cottey College.

It was significant for me because it my first time leading a Women on Fire Tea.

But, even MORE significant is the fact that the tea was for young women at my alma mater, Cottey College.

I am so impressed with and on fire about these young women.

Tonight’s tea was dedicated to Debbie Phillips ~ the founder of Women on Fire ~ who was also leading a tea in New York City at the exact same time we gathered around our table in Nevada, Missouri.

And, I think that’s the special magic of being a Woman on Fire.
To be connected, over years, miles and a mission.
To share dreams, passions, goals, yearnings and unfounded joy.
To weep, laugh and cry.
To honor and applaud each other as we all take the next step – together.

It’s somewhat ironic to me that the room where we gathered tonight was in a building called the Women’s Leadership Center.

But, it’s no surprise that floating above, throughout the entire night, shining towards us all, was a sparkling, colorful, glowing…

May we all help each other grow wings, fire it up and fly. 

Day 41: f*ing friday :: florida (a love letter)

10 Feb

F*ing Fridays are back!
And, they will continue to occur on Friday. I mentioned some of my favorite F words back on Day 5 in Year 1, including: Fearless, Fabulous, Fine, Fun, Faith, Freedom, Forgiveness, to name a Few.

Last week I dove into the word Follow-up

Today’s F*ing Friday is dedicated to the word:

As in, a love letter to the sunshine state.

Dear Florida,

Tonight, you were on fire!

Did you feel the heat, as Women on Fire gathered in the Naples Grande for another scrumptious tea?

At one point in the evening, Debbie Phillips asked each of us to share something we love about you, dear Florida.

As I listened to all the answers, I realized there is so little I know about your wonders — the state where I live.  From swimming with Manatee, to exploring the mangroves of Ten Thousand Islands to tasting the Everglades Seafood Festival, there is still so much more to learn about your land and sea.

So far, I have fallen in love with your sugar sand beaches and bright, sunny weather.  I have even grown to love your thunderous rainstorms now and then.

But now, dear Florida, I want you to know, I am reinvigorated — fire ignited! — to take part in more of your beauty.

How does it feel to be called “Paradise?” — it’s time I find out why!


Day 24: pop goes the birthday!

24 Jan

I love birthdays.  Problem is, I forget birthdays.  
I’m sure I would forget my own if I didn’t have such wonderful people in my life to help me celebrate.

And, it is, in fact, birthday week around here (the official day is Thursday).  That means …our bags are packed for the Bahamas!  We leave in the morning!

Justin surprised me with this little trip as a way to help celebrate my birthday, and to celebrate everything that happened with The Promise 365 last year.

I love celebrations, marking time, reflecting and honoring where we have been.

And, tonight, my first birthday gift, the first marker of this 38th birth year, came in with a POP!   Debbie and Rob gave me a fun send-off with a surprise gift just after our Women on Fire Live Chat ended.

First, there was this beautifully wrapped box.
(With a bow that Debbie’s big, white, fluffy cat Wilbur loved more than anything!)

Then, I opened up a huge, rolled up scroll of paper that was protected with bubble wrap.

And, finally, I realized that THIS wasn’t your average bubble wrap …it is the BUBBLE WRAP CALENDAR! — the one I found online and pined for earlier in the month.  I was so surprised, you can see the photo is blurry from my utter excitement.

So for the rest of 2012, as each day goes by, I will POP it off my calendar.  What fun.  How special.  I. Love. It.  (you can watch a video of how it works here)

And, I love the people in my life who remember my birthday.  What a beautiful act of love, to just say, “hey, happy birthday, glad you’re on the planet.”

So it is, with this popping calendar, I finally had a POP! go off in my mind.
I love birthdays.  I love the people in my life.
Why don’t I remember their birthdays?

So, that is exactly the birthday promise I vow to make, as I blow out the candles on this 38th birthday week celebration.  There is no reason to forget a special birthday, especially with Facebook reminders and technology all around  …and now, this fun, popping calendar!

So, if I don’t already have it, send me your birthday.
We’ll celebrate and make it go Pop!

You can watch the popping video below or at this link.

Day 299: on the eve of 300

26 Oct

Today I counted up 299 days of this promise, which means, even more exciting news: tomorrow will be Day 300.

It’s hard to believe.
Well, it’s easy to believe when I look back at the day-to-day path of this process, but, still, I can hardly believe tomorrow begins the 65 day count down.

It makes me want to celebrate.

And, maybe I will, in a small and meaningful way.  Because even though I know this isn’t over until I greet 365 days, I do feel good about making this small milestone.

Isn’t it the little milestones that get us through?

Whether it’s not drinking coffee for five days straight, or just getting my body out of bed today, (even though my head feels like it’s about to fall off) or saying no to desserts at each and every meal so I can say yes to my low sugar pledge — it’s tracking these little milestones that make me feel good.

And, I know it’s that happy dance I do inside that makes me want to continue, push forward, keep going.

Last night, Debbie Phillips shared 7 Strategies for Living Your Dreams Like a Woman on Fire in her live chat.  And, one of the strategies — did you already guess it? — was, Do you celebrate your success and achievements? Do you celebrate when you’ve set a goal and accomplished something you’ve been working toward?

Tomorrow, I will celebrate Day 300.

But, today, I celebrate just getting out of bed, drinking lots of water and green tea and taking it easy with a slow pace as I clear this head cold.

Oh, and one more thing…
Today, I celebrated my favorite slippers.
They aren’t new but they are warm, cozy and comforting to my body and soul.
And, I wore them all day long.

Day 272: taking a shot

29 Sep

I’m feeling a bit under the weather today, so my new friend Carrie Saba, who met me for breakfast while I am visiting Columbus, Ohio for the fabulous Women on Fire Day (tomorrow!!!), suggested I try something new.

A shot with a chaser.
Of wheatgrass followed by an orange slice.

They say wheatgrass juice provides the nutritional equivalent of 2 and 1/2 pounds of leafy green vegetables. It is also said to:

– increase red blood cell count

– act as an anti inflammatory

– rejuvenate the body

– reduce high blood pressure

So I took a double shot!
Who knows if it helped my head cold today or my body?  But, it sure was fun to try something new.

And, I can tell you what really eased my head, heart and soul today — connecting with a new friend.  Thank you Carrie!  It was so wonderful to spend time in your sunshine.

Thank you for introducing me to a fun new place (North Market) and thank you for listening and laughing too.

As I sit here tonight typing away, on the eve of Women on Fire Day, I can’t help but wonder about all the new friendships that will spark tomorrow in the presence of open hearts, warm, wonderful, and super dynamic women.

There’s one thing I do know for sure: it’s always worth taking a shot at making new friends.

Fireworks await.

Day 242: what gives you support?

30 Aug

If you’ve followed along the course of this year, you already know that I love the work I do with Women on Fire.

Tonight was no exception.  We aired a live chat broadcast from Women on Fire Studios with Debbie Phillips discussing How to Create Endless Support for Yourself and Avoid Burnout!

Tonight, Debbie asked this question: “who gives you support?”

And I made a long list in my head.

When I was a young girl I thought support for women was basically a brazier, an over the shoulder boulder holder, otherwise known as a bra.

“Support” was never really openly talked about when I was in my formative years; as something to give out, to practice, to fine-tune, and a plan of exactly how to establish it in my own life.

Being a supportive neighbor was a clear lesson taught at home ~ specifically when we borrowed an egg from one neighbor or lent a stick of butter to another.

Being a supportive friend was an important lesson taught in school ~ namely when my third grade teacher took every single girl out of the classroom, left the boys in their desk seats, and lectured us girls in the hallway to be nice to each other, to stop forming cliques, and to only say nice things about each other.

Being a supportive citizen was taught in Girl Scouts ~ especially through community service badges.

Building my own support system was never really a challenge.
It was a given and given to me.

It was modeled in many ways, through my supportive parents, friends, community members — the kind of support that tends to grow up around you when you live in a family, a neighborhood, a school, a community for 18 years.

But, then, somewhere in the process of growing up, moving away, and bouncing up, down and around on the ladder called career, I soon learned that “SUPPORT” does not come standard with a job description.

I found that jobs change, bosses turn over, friends get transferred, neighbors move on to cheaper, brighter, more-windows-with-a-better-view-apartments or a house in the burbs.

Sometimes competition rears its ugly head.  And, sometimes, sadly, people say one thing and do another.

In absence of living in a bubble of support, I had to learn to piece together my own semblance of it through a mentor here, a co-worker there, and a morning phone call with my friend Sara on the drive to work everyday.

With cup of coffee in one hand and steering wheel in the other, my morning commute was turned into a support call.  While driving in and out of cell service zones and dropping calls all along I-90, Sara and I would question everything, review our daily dilemmas and give each other advice.

It was a daily dose of incredible support.
But, even still, I never once thought of making a plan, a real strategy of how to put an entire SYSTEM of support in my life.

And, that’s why I love working with Debbie. 
Everything she shares through Women on Fire builds inspiration, strategies and support for women.

Here are some of Debbie’s key points that she shared tonight, when it comes to giving yourself support in order to avoid burnout:

1. Make a plan for what you need to get through a stressful time. Do you need friends? Family? A therapist?

2. Dedicate yourself to eating healthy and exercising.

3. Set boundaries for yourself. How much are you overextending?

4. Feed your creativity. Creativity is a powerful antidote to burnout.

5. Learn to manage stress. You have more control on stress than you may think.

As Debbie went over this list* tonight, it occurred to me that The Promise 365 has actually helped me build an entire SUPPORT SYSTEM over the course of these 242 days.

I thank you for being a part of it, for being here with me and hope you know I am here for you too.

Here’s to 123 more days to go!


(*This list is just a sampling of what Debbie shared tonight, but it’s a great checklist.  If you want to find out more, please check out Women on Fire’s website at www.womenonfire.org)

Day 223: what if you didn’t stop?

11 Aug

Today I cried.
Not sobbing, heaving kinds of tears.  More like a deep breath with a big sigh followed by waterworks.

They gathered in the corners of my eyes while reading the last few paragraphs of this article from MORE Magazine:  Kathryn Stockett’s ‘The Help’ Turned Down 60 Times Before Becoming a Best Seller

Turned. Down. 60. Times.
That’s brutal.  That is unbelievable.  That’s some kind of miracle to keep pushing through rejection letter after rejection letter.

But, it’s not new news to me.
It sounds so familiar.

I am one lucky girl, to spend my working days around Debbie Phillips with Women on Fire.  If you ever have the chance to spend some time with Debbie, you, too, will hear what I do all the time:  “Don’t Stop Before The Miracle.”

Debbie reminds me of this Marianne Williamson saying all the time.  Don’t Stop Before The Miracle.  It could be a ground rule, or an operating principle, or even gospel, during our working days. (I actually wrote about it on Day 88)

So, this concept, you see, is not news to me. 
I know the special magic formula on NOT giving in, pushing through, keeping at it.  It is ingrained in my psyche.  It is also Debbie’s continuous support and gentle reminder of that miracle that helps me write everyday on this blog.

But I cannot imagine receiving 60 rejection letters.
I get to play it safe here in Blog-O-Land.  I can write and write and write (EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.) but I don’t have to face rejection letters.  I just push a button, and voilà!   Published.

But Kathryn Stockett, she is the real deal.  She served her time, paid her dues to the Rejection Fairy  — and in the end, showed us that we can live with rejection affection and still come out on top.  Actually MORE than on top!

In Kathryn’s own words:

In the end, I received 60 rejections for The Help. But letter number 61 was the one that accepted me. After my five years of writing and three and a half years of rejection, an agent named Susan Ramer took pity on me. What if I had given up at 15? Or 40? Or even 60? Three weeks later, Susan sold The Help to Amy Einhorn Books.

And, that question – WHAT IF – is what I hold in my heart tonight. 
WHAT IF Kathryn had given up at letter #15, or #40, or #60.  We would have all missed out on her story, on her unique characters and their charm, and ultimately her gift to the world.

Thank you Debbie, for continuously reminding me of THE MIRACLE.
Thank you Kathryn, for showing us (quite amazingly) that we can do anything we set our minds to and the miraculous power of not giving up.

And, of course, for making me cry.
Because, today, while I did cry, my tears were not of sorrow.
They were of inspiration and appreciation of how one woman made her miracle happen.

Give in to the shame of being rejected and put your manuscript—or painting, song, voice, dance moves, [insert passion here]—in the coffin that is your bedside drawer and close it for good … Or you could do what this writer did: Give in to your obsession instead.

Here’s to all of our crazy, undying, deserved obsessions hiding out in bedside drawers and tucked away in boxes.

WHAT IF they saw the light?
What miracle could they become?

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