Kay Raypholtz, one of the Village Reporter’s own writers, is taking her writing to another level and discovering that dreams really do come true at any age. Raypholtz, 55, a native of Montpelier who now resides in Pioneer and better known to some by her maiden name of Shatzer, was recently published in a collection of inspirational stories for women. The book titled Women on Fire: 21 Inspiring Women Share Their Life Secrets (and Save You Years of Struggle!) Volume 2 is compiled by nationally known life coach and Montpelier native Debbie Phillips.
Debbie Phillips was once the babysitter of Kay and her brothers. Kay says she had lost touch with Debbie but decided to look her up on Facebook one day. When she found her page, she learned about the Women on Fire and inquired about the retreats. Since then, Kay has been attending Debbie Phillip’s Women on Fire retreats for the past several years in Chicago, Columbus, and Naples, Florida. The retreats are about women supporting women. Debbie, a life and executive coach, speaker, author, and film producer, started the Women on Fire organization in 2003 as a way to connect and inspire women.
The retreats offer women a time to listen to inspirational speakers while also providing small group opportunities to connect on a more personal level. During these small group sessions of about six women, participants are asked to discuss personal topics such as what they are most proud of, what they struggle with, personal goals, and what they are on fire about. Kay says it is a time of sharing and listening.
Women of all ages, races, and religious beliefs attend these events. The main criteria is that these women have a desire to lift up other women. Kay has heard famous speakers including Stedman Graham, known as Oprah Winfrey’s boyfriend, while at a Women on Fire retreat in Chicago.
So what does a Women on Fire retreat have in common with Kay’s love of writing? Kay began writing long before she began attending these retreats. In fact, Kay’s love of writing is rooted in her childhood. She credits her second grade teacher, who kept all her stories, for inspiring her. In 2004, her college instructor provided an opportunity for extra credit through journaling. This instructor encouraged her to someday write a book.
Fast forward to October 2011. At the Women on Fire retreat, Kay approached Debbie about her upcoming book, a compilation of inspirational stories for women. Kay shared with Debbie that she would be very interested in sharing her story in the book.
Stories were limited to 3,000 words in a “Chicken Soup for the Soul” type of format. Kay’s story entitled “Life Along the Borderline” confronts her daughter’s mental illness. The story covers mainly her daughter’s teen years and Kay’s perspective as a mother. This is something that Kay always wanted to write about. “I sat down and wrote an emotional 3000 words in three hours.”
When Kay received word that her story had been accepted to be included in the book, she says, “I’m not a crier, but I literally sobbed. My dream was coming true.”
Last April, Kay along with 17 of the 21 authors in the book, were able to gather in New York City for a day. After a professional make-up session, Kay was filmed for inclusion in the trailer for the book. The trailer can be viewed at the Women on Fire website: www.womenonfire.com. Kay says this was a wonderful opportunity to meet the other authors. In December 2013, the book was published.
At this year’s Women on Fire retreat held in Naples, Florida February 28-March 1, Kay had the opportunity to share with other women the name of her story and a brief synopsis of it. She says the entire The Women on Fire retreat in Naples, Florida was “fabulous.” The retreat included a book signing as well as a private gathering for all the authors at Debbie’s Naples home.
Besides writing for the Village Reporter and her Women on Fire story, Kay is a full-time student working towards her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from the Defiance College. She will graduate in May and looks forward to working as a social worker and having more time to write. Although she has no book signings scheduled at this time, she definitely plans to focus on this when school is completed. Kay, who retains the rights to her story, has dreams to someday develop the chapter from Women on Fire into her own book.
Kay is inspired. “I am looking forward to the future and where life will take me.” Her spouse Mike, a pastor, is supportive and encouraging in her writing journey. The book has been read and endorsed by multiple authors including Judy Blume who read the entire book. With a smile and a sense of gratitude, Kay affirms, “Knowing that Judy Blume, read my story, wow.”
Kay feels very blessed. “At my age of fifty-five, my dreams are coming true-I’m getting my Bachelor’s degree, I’m going to be a social worker, I’m published in a book, and I’ve traveled to New York City. It’s happening.”