WFS Conference Memories 2013
2013 WFS Conference Reminiscing
June 7, 8, & 9, 2013 at DeSales University Center Valley, Pennsylvania
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Another fantastic weekend for Women for Sobriety and 4C women! We had 116 members booked in at DeSales University Campus in Center Valley, Pennsylvania from June 7, 8, & 9, 2013.
As many of you know, this weekend conference is WFS’s MAIN FUNDRAISING EVENT for the entire year… so we devote a great deal of time and resources in getting information distributed and encourage a lot of participation from the women who use our program in their recovery. There were a variety of events from Thursday through Sunday afternoon where generous donations were given in love and received with gratitude… tons of conference raffle tickets sold, the ever fun and popular Thursday T-Shirt Swap fundraiser, members donated a large amount of gently used books to raise funds at our bookstore, hand-made booklet covers were created and donated by members from California, volunteer group moderators ‘passed the hat’ at f2f meetings, women ‘rounded up’ as they paid for booklets, extra donations were added to auction totals, the coffee collection jar filled up at the dormitory, generous members donated items in quantity to raise funds, dorm room key deposits were donated back to WFS, and, last but not the least, our Saturday afternoon annual fundraising auction was held (a total of 323 items went up for bid!)…and so the GRAND TOTAL IN DONATIONS COLLECTED OVER 4 DAYS = $14,380.57.
The spirit of generosity was truly in the air and in the hearts of our members that weekend. An amazing amount of positive, empowering energy was created! Thank you to all our friends and family and 4C sisters who contributed items for the auction and the bookstore. WFS is ever so grateful for the financial and material support we continue to receive for our annual conference and auction.
Thank you to all who participated in raising much needed funds throughout the conference weekend!! See you next year! (June 6, 7, & 8, 2014 @ DeSales University) ~Becky Fenner, WFS Director
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This year’s conference was my 5th year attending and my-oh-my what a long way I have come from my first year. I was so nervous and unsure of myself that first year, and wondering if I’d really make it to the next year’s conference or the next or the next? Well, I’ve attended each year since that first one and this year I even ran my first workshop! Ironically, my workshop was about embracing joy in sobriety (and learning to ride that inner unicorn!). Those few weeks leading up to the conference were some of my most stressful and difficult and full of negative obstacles since getting sober. So I had a lot of hands on practice with how to embrace joy in my New Life, even when times were hard. (Sobriety does NOT guarantee there won’t be rough times!) However, it was my yearly sojourn to the conference that marked the end of my stress and negativity, and a positive turning point began once again. Part of it was just good timing, the other part of it was taking the time to re-focus on myself, on my journey, on my growth, and on the amazing sisters who help hold me up throughout the year.
Driving back home, I felt centered once again with my priorities back in the proper order and my gratitude swelling from my soul. The love and support and energy shared amongst all of the incredible 4C women is the most amazing medicine there is. I intend to never miss a year!! Chantel
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For me, the Conference is a time of immense freedom… self-care, friend care, and no cares. I attend some events, skipped others in favor of walk time, or massage time or most of all, talk time with new friends and old. I indulge in food goodies that I seldom eat, just because it’s fun. (I actually eat cake, for example.) Like I’m always saying, “Conference is the opposite of High School.” Everyone is just so darn nice. And silliness is not only tolerated but encouraged. Just love all of it! “Tooz” on WFS Online Forum
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This was my first WFS Conference. The experience was so stimulating and packed with energy, insight, wisdom, love, ambivalence and carbs. It is taking me time to process all of it. Processing takes time… sometimes hours, days, weeks or months. I have to “come down” and assimilate all that I experienced at the conference into my real life (which moves at a completely different pace).
The conference was a life-changing experience for me. I just don’t know how to put into words just yet. Maybe next year when I return, I will be able to verbalize my total experience. Michelle
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I was happy to have the opportunity to attend WFS’s June 2013 Conference. This organization provided me with my first successful long-term sobriety tools in my late-20s and I am so grateful having had the experience and tools provided by WFS. I wanted to meet some of the people involved with the organization so I booked a flight from Denver to Newark and what I thought was a connecting flight from Newark to Allentown. To my surprise, and lack of geographic experience, United Airlines placed me on a bus in Newark and I experienced the beautiful drive to Allentown in rush hour traffic. Arriving only a few minutes behind schedule, the taxi cab took me from the airport to DeSales University (thank goodness for iPhone’s Google Maps App).
Upon arrival, I was greeted by a couple of 4C women who helped me get checked in and oriented to my new surroundings. I appreciated the beverages and snacks that were available prior to going up to my room to get settled (and need I mention the various toiletries available for the taking). That evening, I attended the opening ceremony where I had the opportunity to meet many more 4C women who shared their positive experiences with WFS and the “New Life” Program.
The next morning, I took a 2 mile jog around the beautiful campus. To my dismay, I had accidently left the bathroom door locked so my suitemate was locked out and could not take a shower (had to borrow a friend’s). She was kind enough to let me know and I was sure not to make that mistake again. The morning was off to a good and then bad and then good again start (just like sobriety gets). In one of the workshops that I attended, a lady shared with us that both good and bad coexist in this world simultaneously and it is impossible to have either one or the other. That is so true and such a profound way to think about it. The “New Life” Program teaches us to look for the good – it does coexist, you just have to look for it if you want to be aware of it.
I had the benefit of attending a couple of workshops that day where I learned about how questions can help us get from a judger-based mentality to a learner-based mentality, just in the way we ask the questions. For example: “Am I stupid?” No. Let’s switch how this question is asked (judger). “What am I supposed to learn from this situation?” How might I ask the question better? Let’s find out the meaning of the situation by choosing to ask seeking questions (learner).
The next workshop involved having fun in sobriety and ways to think about the 13 Statements of WFS. We had the opportunity to discuss our views on the Statements, as well as a nice activity outdoors where we had to say something positive about ourselves before throwing a ball to someone else in the circle (boy was that a difficult task). I am a competent woman and able to say good things about myself that supports my competence.
I learned a lot more about the WFS organization, their board members, and the staff that keep the “New Life” Program going. I was impressed to learn that less than 5% of money raised by the organization goes to the administration (very small staff and limited overhead). However, I believe they do an incredible job getting the message and services out to women in need of recovery. I so appreciate the fundraising activities and all of the goodies I won as a result of the silent auction and the live auction – what a fun event!
On Sunday morning, the closing ceremony touched me deeply and inspired me to stay on my path of recovery. So many strong 4C women demonstrated our ability to support one another and to enjoy this New Life we have chosen.
Thank you, WFS, for the wonderful event – I wish there were more of these! Deanna ~ Denver, Colorado
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This was my 18th conference. Those who have never come can’t even come close to knowing what this experience is like. I arrived Thursday to open arms of sisters I have known for years. It is like you saw them yesterday. I met a few new women that night, too. Then I attended the opening ceremony on Friday evening, which consisted of introductions just like a WFS meeting. It is unbelievable the feelings that arise when you see someone that hasn’t been there in a year or more and to see the “newbies”. There are just no words.
Saturday was packed with workshops given by mostly members and a few professional speakers. The first workshop is for everyone and this year, once again, Rita Miller presented. This woman has a way of incorporating our Statements and philosophy into the presentation. The topic was, “I double dog dare you.” It was so powerful. She can have you laughing so hard. The best thing is she talks about supporting your sisters in sobriety. Those might not be her exact words but you get the message.
The afternoon is the auction, which is the major fundraiser for WFS. I had fun bidding on the silent items and, of course, the live auction is fun especially when a bidding war takes place. Our auctioneer, “Zeecha,” does an awesome job. She was entertaining and really helped raise the bids.
My weekend was busy. It was filled with joy, happiness and even tears. This year most of my tears came at the end. We had a beautiful closing with “O” by having groups of women based on years of sobriety light candles. For me, this was very inspirational as I saw over a dozen women with over 20 years of sobriety. The main candle was representing Jean and the stair case was the different groups. The amount of people attending the first time was large. I so admired their courage. I remember my first conference and the fear I had. A bunch of Capable, Competent, Caring and Compassionate women light candles. I don’t remember the total years but it was over 500. It just showed me that with the support of your sisters, and working the problem, anything is possible.
The conference is my way of recharging and recommitting to sobriety. I can reflect on the growth and hard work it took to get where I am at today. I love meeting new women, although I still tend to be on the shy side and uncomfortable walking up to women. The feelings that I carry home are very powerful. I know, after all these years, on Monday morning I will wake up feeling sad or depressed… sadness that the weekend is over and back to reality.
I wouldn’t miss attending the conference unless it was truly important, as this weekend means the world to me. If you can do whatever it takes to attend, then do it. You won’t be alone. You will experience something like none other.
Thank you to all my sisters who made the weekend awesome, especially to Becky for organizing everything. You truly make it all come together. Hope to see you all next year and meet a whole bunch of newbies. Your sister in sobriety, Lisa ~ Cincinnati, Ohio, “lilbear60” on WFS Online Forum
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Driving alone to and from the conference has become far less traumatic; although, there were more than a few wrong turns. I try to get in as early on Thursday as I can, to help out in any way, but mostly to unwind and get my bearings. Even better news for this year is that I helped at the registration desk on Thursday and Friday, so I got to know far more people than I would just wandering around on my own. Best news, I worked both shifts with sisters that I know. For the first time, I knew my roommate, “tankgirl”. I haven’t had a bad roommate yet. Great big surprise was having a suitemate with a sister I met a few years ago… there was a hysterical greeting in the bathroom we shared.
Okay, it rained. It wouldn’t be a conference without some rain and there was at least 3 other weather-related changes- thus the huge amount of baggage I bring with me. For the first time, I drove around the DeSales campus, which was more of an adventure than I bargained for. Did I mention that I found out about “direction depression” that a good friend told me about over 20 years ago? Anyway, I managed to muddle through with the help of sisters who were in the car with me- even when I blithely left a parking lot by the wrong exit and promptly turned in the wrong direction. Hey, it was dark and raining!
I guess I’m really trying to describe what a funny, heartwarming, welcoming and supporting experience that every conference has become. I met so many people that I’ve only known by their online names, including Karen Hamm, who religiously sends out a daily reflection to group moderators and members- even during the conference. We often use her thoughts as topics at our face-to-face meeting.
The conference is a place, and an experience, where you can be fully alive, fully yourself and you are loved for it. There is absolutely nothing else like it! If I were to go into more detail, I would have to recount every moment- and no one wants that! If you attended this year, I hope that you are planning on attending in 2014. If you were unable to attend, I strongly encourage you to be there with us next year. You will never feel as good about yourself, or as loved, as you do at the conference. You will never doubt again that sobriety is worthwhile, that you are worthwhile and that the 4C way is the way for you! Hope to see you in 2014! Love to all...toujours...Patricia “Beakimom1” ~ Phoenixville, Pennsylvania
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I have attended almost every conference since 1991. I missed only one due to job issues. In the beginning, I was anxious before and very emotional after each conference. I had to take off of work the following Monday to work out the problem each time. Anger, sadness, confusion, whatever the workshops stirred up in me. Each year got easier, besides making new friends, I was getting better, following the Statements, leading a meeting once a week (x14 years) and getting my life in a proper order. I was finding my priorities.
Being in recovery with my nursing license, on probation, having drug screens, letters by my supervisor and counselor and working and living with my same circumstances, was tough. I did it because I wanted recovery so bad. Jean’s 13 Statements, her words and her story helped so much.
Each year, I got that special bump in my recovery, different each time; however, each conference had an uplifting part too. Cedar Crest College was a good location for the conference for many years… although the townhouses were bad (except I met delightful Lori!). Showers in Cedar Crest were noisy; much quieter at DeSales… although, the early years at DeSales had real high bunk beds that we had to take apart; no nose bleeds or falls for us. But no matter what workshop one would choose, there was something learned.
I still get anxious before the conference. I have this problem leaving (the safety?) of my home and my husband (will he be there when I get back?). Once I am in my car, sometimes with Louisa and once with Mary Nuebel and Louisa, I feel free to enjoy the present I give myself EVERY year, despite my irrational fears. This year my husband said to me, as I was talking to him on the phone, “You really need this” and I said “Yes” and I do.
Thank you, Jean, Becky, Ralph, Mary and Crystal and, of course, “O”. And all the 4C women from all over the world and of all ages, who have made my life better. Ginny ~ Vermont
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I have a confession to make. I considered doing something this year that I have never done before during the WFS conference weekend- NO, not the unthinkable drink! But I did consider leaving before the Closing Ceremony, and not because I was dissatisfied or bored. To the contrary, I don’t remember a conference that I’ve enjoyed more. Everything I experienced - from “O’s” workshops and our Welcoming Ceremony on Friday, to the wonderful Saturday and Sunday sessions with Rita, Theresa, Dee, Diane, Laurie, Linda, Karen, Chantel, Priscilla, Adrienne, Suzie, Leslie, and Charlyn that I attended and/or heard about, to the zany fun of the Auction, to the ever-smiling and ever-overworked faces of Becky, Ralph, Mary and Crystal, to the better than I remembered food and snacks, to the new and “old” friends I spent time with, the wonderful DeSales staff and beautiful campus, and even to the quiet simplicity of my dorm room- everything just seemed to be nurturing me this year. I went into this conference with a mindset of truly participating and I think it paid off.
But you know how it goes- as the conference is winding down, the post-conference “afterlife” begins to intrude on our thoughts. The inescapable obligations (good and bad) of home demand our attention. We unconsciously and consciously prepare ourselves for leaving. But I’m very, very glad I stayed.
The Closing Ceremony candlelight tribute to Jean Kirkpatrick- and to all of us who follow humbly in her footsteps- was stunningly beautiful and was so masterfully orchestrated by “O”. The sharing of the candle flame with each and every woman in the room represented, in my mind, not only the power of WFS to illuminate even the darkest corners of our own mind and spirit, it was also symbolic of how the light of our individual recovery is reflected in our eyes for everyone around us to see and share. What a rush of evangelism I felt - me, who sees herself almost as an island unto herself, who is very comfortable being alone and is uncomfortable in groups- and I felt it not out of obligation but out of a desire to spread the WFS message for its own sake, because of its intrinsic value and incomparable worth, to those in recovery and to those not yet in recovery. And this zeal somehow hasn’t worn off yet.
So, I’ve decided to make a conscious effort to spread WFS in simple ways- daily if I can- even if it’s just a WFS wallet card added to a supermarket bulletin board, the reading table at the public library, the magazine rack at a doctor’s waiting room, etc. But it has occurred to me that these efforts are like drops in the ocean. With almost 9,000 women registered with the WFS online community and some 80 active WFS face-to-face groups, we 4C women should collectively be able to publicize, financially support and expand WFS beyond our wildest dreams. So, I challenge you, individually and as a group, if you see value in the WFS message and have reaped its rewards and/or agree that many, many more women can benefit from it, then offer your talents, business acumen, computer expertise, money, prayers, whatever you’ve got to give, and let’s keep this program growing and thriving! Joan ~ Moderator & Board Member for WFS
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It seems a lot longer than just a few weeks since the 2013 WFS Conference ended. The days of the conference flew by, and the re-entry into my regular work-a-day world has been loooong. I’d guess that other conference attendees can relate to that sentiment!
I traveled on Thursday to DeSales University, where the conference has been held for over a decade, with two other attendees (shout out to Jean & Jillanna!). It’s a very long drive from the Midwest to the southeastern corner of Pennsylvania; but, I do like to drive and it’s usually a pleasant-although long-drive. This year we drove through steady rain for most of the way and we arrived safely with no mishaps around 9 pm. It’s so very nice to enter the lobby of the dormitory where we stay and be greeted by other women who’ve arrived earlier. Another very nice thing about Thursday night is that there is a wonderful buffet that’s set up. Thank you, Jan “PuterDuh” and the 4C Buffet Contributors! There was a delicious lentil salad -- I wonder if the 4C cook would be willing to share the recipe? There was also a delicious fruit salad and that recipe has already been posted on the WFS online forum message board. [Editor’s note- if there is enough interest from our readers, I would be happy to pass along the recipes through our email service.]
The thought of a Friday off -- I wasn’t signed up for any of the extra workshops--is a luxurious thought for me. I looked forward to the day…conference 2013 underway!! I was one of the people at the Welcome Wagon table on Friday morning; although, it seems that most women arrive after 12 noon on Friday. I attended a WFS meeting mid-afternoon -- going to conference is my chance to attend some face-to-face meetings. A big shout-out to Susie for moderating a great meeting and having a little reminder for us to keep our own ducks in a row. The conference officially opens with the welcoming ceremony in the evening. It’s very moving to hear each woman introduce herself. Even though I was tired by the end of the opening, I chose to attend another WFS meeting – and, again, wow! I was happy I stayed for it. Joan led a terrific WFS group, using an article by Jean Kirkpatrick on Anger.
Saturday is the big day for all conference goers. There is the keynote session right after breakfast; available for all conference attendees, and then two break-out sessions that attendees get to choose one from each. For me, it seems the toughest thing is to choose which workshop to attend. The selection this year was great and made choosing only two out of 10 difficult.
Later in the afternoon, the WFS fundraising auction took place – there were both silent and live items up for bid. As many of you know, I am the auctioneer for the live auction items. It is true that I do have a knack for remembering a name or a location--maybe just not the last bid (a BIG thank you to the auction helpers!!!! xox). I have so much fun doing the auctioneering. I look for the highest bids for what are truly wonderful items. I always wish we could do more and I wish more women would jump into the bidding! Fun for me this year was that I ‘rifted’ a line from a Beastie Boys song and a few audience members recognized me trying to carry that tune. Hey, I am just doing what I can to keep things fresh and raise a few dollars for WFS! I think we (conference attendees) raised a nice sum for WFS.
Saturday evening, once again, had choices for me -- it is so hard to choose; but, choose we must! I picked the Yoga Nidra session that was led by Priscilla. It was so very, very wonderful, and did as promised – a deep relaxation before bed. A+++!
Sunday is the wrap-up for the conference. This year, the closing session for all to attend was conducted by “O”. The plan was to demonstrate how from one light (Jean Kirkpatrick’s), so many other lights got to shine. Turns out it takes a long time to light all those candles as the discussion about how we all blaze a path unfolded! The end of the conference has Becky announcing the conference raffle winners and how much was raised with the auction. The closing finale was a huge circle of 4C women, holding hands, and reciting the WFS motto! I try not to say “Good bye” but rather “See you next year!”
Basically, I’ve recapped the main events of the WFS conference as it unfolded for me. However, what makes that weekend event something extra-ordinary are the women who attend, the friendships that are re-affirmed or newly established and the overwhelming feeling of coming home. The WFS conference experience has been something that soothes and nourishes my soul since my very first one I attended way back in 2000. I walk into a room at the conference and simply feel accepted and cared for and right where I belong...even if I’ve walked into the wrong room! Spending my time with my WFS sisters touches me deeply. Whether I’m sharing a walk back to the dorm with dear friends, or taking an early morning walk in the rain (yes, record-breaking rainfall amount on the Friday of the conference), or having my meal with a table full of 4C women... these are the moments that make the conference for me. Particularly meaningful for me this year was that I brought a first-time conference goer and, during the opening ceremony, she gave me a shout-out. I’ve never had that experience and it left an impression on my heart. Also, I can’t say enough how terrific it is for me to meet women who are brave enough to come to the conference by themselves. I did that too, 14 years ago, so I like to say hi and get to know as many women as I can. I missed friends who weren’t able to attend, but I was glad to see all who could be there.
A huge shout-out and thank you to Becky and her terrific staff! You organize a great conference. The facilities at DeSales are outstanding and it is truly a beautiful corner of the U.S. (even in the rain). I hope to see you all at conference next year!! Sue, aka “Zeecha” on WFS Online Forum
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I attended my first WFS conference in June (as a relative newbie) and without a doubt, I believe my life is forever transformed for having attended! I describe myself as an introvert, but having decided to attend conference, I realized I would need to step outside my comfort zone in order to make connections with people. Incredibly, I met some amazing women who have travelled their own path to sobriety/recovery who gave so freely of themselves and their experiences! I didn’t have preconceived expectations about conference but I can honestly say that I have never experienced anything so powerful!!
The weekend was a tremendous opportunity to learn not only from the workshops, but, more importantly, to talk one-on-one with other women who’ve been on a similar journey. I discovered at conference just how powerful that bond is that we all share -- bonded to overcome our addiction -- and let me tell you, the love and compassion are palpable! It’s especially nice getting to know some of the women who you regularly “see” online -- putting names to faces is a treat!
I suspect it is important to note that the food was excellent; the accommodations were fine; I was only locked out of my bathroom once; the T-shirt swap was a hoot; the auction was great fun; and I can’t wait to attend next year as it is a wonderful “gift to self” to promote and maintain sobriety/recovery! Warm regards, Diane
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My love for the conference was reinforced during this, my third year. As in the past, my favorite part is interacting with my Sober Sisters. I love the walks back-and-forth between buildings (tougher this year because of the weather), joining sisters at meals, and hanging out in the lobby. I REALLY loved being part of the Registration/Welcome Table. I tried really hard to do WFS proud. (I’ve received several emails from Sisters who appreciated my efforts!!)
I love our regular WFS meetings during the conference … Friday’s meeting was fun and the one on Saturday night was particularly moving. I loved Suzie’s style (CM from California), so very gentle and respectful. I feel that our meetings characterize what Jean would have us do and be. (I listened to my WFS CDs of Jean’s meetings in route to DeSales and in the evening.) Adrienne’s “Relapse Prevention” workshop was chock-full of great ideas, and the tone was enthusiastic and respectful. The Auction was fun (what I attended of it - I was restocking the water and ice in the lobby). So, I chose well and loved all parts in which I participated.
Thanks again to Becky and the Board of Directors and the WFS staff for all of your efforts. With affection, Megg
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I Went To Conference this Year and Found a Treasure….
…and her name is “oceanfish”.
We arranged on the online message boards for her to pick me up at the Allentown airport. It was a match made in WFS heaven: we were both a little apprehensive and feeling shy, and instantly we relaxed and felt comfortable with each other. It’s amazing how strong and magical the WFS bond. She won a balloon animal-making kit at the WFS auction and made an event out of it back at the dorm that night (lots of laughs and enjoyed by all!) and left behind the remainder of the balloons and the book for someone else. When Becky and Ralph were cleaning up the lounge at the dorm on Sunday morning, I told them that “oceanfish” had left it behind on purpose. She was later happy to hear that Ralph took it to pass along to a friend who is a clown -- not sure if he meant it in the deepest sense of the word! Bonded, Bonnie
[Editor’s note: Yes, Ralph was excited to try and learn something fun to do (and it didn’t have anything to do with computers or involve any technical advice – he was thrilled!). He put 100% effort into it and bought another ‘how to’ book and a BOX FULL of balloons. I received my first ever bouquet of balloon flowers! And, yes, we do have a clown friend – ‘Stinky’ volunteers with the Lu Lu Shriners as a clown and visits kids at the hospitals…he’s trying to convince Ralph to join him and make balloons for the kids.]
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I’m back from my first WFS conference, safe at home, with the cat slumped across my legs. I’m comfortably sitting in front of my computer screen again, trying to sum up for myself how it was, what I experienced. I guess a tired old Wizard of Oz reference will have to do since I’m bone tired and slightly bummed out that it didn’t last longer. There’s no place like home, right?
I stare at a lot of computer screens, both for work and play. From my former obsession with online poker, RPG games, photo shopping, making weird videos, writing and working, my eyes are completely fried for distance vision because I mostly see the world on a glowing screen 2 feet away from me. A little bit of exaggeration, since I do teach for 6 hours a day, albeit in a darkened computer lab where the screens are bigger and I do move into the world for my walk home and on the weekends. But when I was drinking, my entire world was pretty much 14” x 10” and my ‘friends’ were usually holding swords, piloting space ships or identified by their wizard levels. When I joined WFS, I got sober in front of this very screen, crying into the keyboard many times during online chat. I’m surprised I didn’t fry the innards from the amount of water leaked onto it.
So, getting out from behind the screen and going to conference was a little like that scene in the Wizard of Oz where everything goes into color mode. And the grass was this saturated emerald green, too! I couldn’t wrap my head around the 3D nature of the experience for me, walking and talking and crying IRL (in real life, as if what I was doing before was not). Hearing the amazing women speakers and listening to women tell their stories and just breathe, like ‘O’ said, deeply feeling those breaths enter my body in the fresh country air. Especially sweet since a lot of these women are dear to my heart, WFS rock stars, the ones that helped me get sober night after night and whose words I gobble up like fresh blueberries. I was pointing and whispering, OMG, that’s ______! Where is _____ ? And, yet, several beautiful moments had nothing to do with the big issues discussed and delicious personalities. Exquisitely simple moments, like sitting with a newbie who radiated the most joyful energy I’ve ever felt and having her be everything and more than her already huge 2D online presence could ever capture. Another thing was having a woman who helped me tremendously in chat and on the message boards come up to me and say I had done something for her. And there were four of us that formed an informal group outside in the bright Saturday sunshine to share tears and laughter, surrounded by that Technicolor emerald green grass.
I will slide back into my online world, but it will never be the same. I think I’m still a better person online than in real life, because there is an undo button and a CTRL Z here on this keyboard. I know I have a lot to learn about being in my body and having the self-control needed to listen and affirm. Next year I will dance, for sure. Marie
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Conference was another wonder-filled five days on the East Coast for me this year. Last time I was there, I left my six month old daughter at home (2010) and this time I left my 3.5 year-old daughter and my almost 2 year-old son. I arrived as a different person. Each year of sobriety brings more growth and enhanced perspective in my New Life.
I loved the Sunday Closing with the candle session with my home girl “0” -- wherein we stood up as groups according to our year ranges of continuous sobriety. My group was enormous … 800 years of sobriety in that room alone. We are so amazing!
Sometimes I stop to wonder what life would be like without WFS. I shudder to think (let’s face it, I know) where I would be. It certainly wouldn’t involve a loving supportive network of 4C friends and, of course, my best friend, my husband. It means I wouldn’t have those darling blue-eyed blondies to come home to either. This occasional pause is one of a handful of things that keep me sober. Measuring the (continuing) growth in my New Life is another. Re-charging my 4C batteries with new and old friends all weekend at a conference that you’d be a fool to miss, is yet another.
I love the Conference. I love Becky and Ralph and their Staff for their countless selfless hours of work that it takes to run the Mother Ship (WFS Headquarters) and a smooth sailing weekend packed with friendship, fundraising, and fantastic memories for all. The Conference weekend is the best birthday gift I could ever imagine! Thank you to everyone who participated. I love all of you and look forward to seeing you again. If not before, than certainly next year. Love, Blondie
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One of the most memorable moments of my Conference weekend was what started while driving back to the dorm. Valerie (“Vlindy”) and I spotted someone having car trouble in the parking lot of the University Center Building as we were heading back to Donahue Dormitory. I rolled the window down and asked if we could help.
Sue was having a problem with getting her car into gear. It seems like it would only go in reverse. Each of us put our heads together trying to understand the problem. Val had some great ideas to try out, which we did, but to no avail. The car was not going to budge. Being the “SUPERWOMEN” that we had just heard we were, we pushed Sue’s car to the side of the lot, safely situated.
We called for help from security on the campus, which, by the way, was in our information packet in our folders -- THANK YOU so much WFS staff! It was so simple! Immediately a police car pulled up and assessed the situation. We came up with a plan together and I felt such 4Cness surrounding each of us.
The next morning, Val, Sue and I had breakfast together. We were able to just sit and experience each other, to learn about each other, and to just be. This was Sue’s first conference and I am certain that it was just as memorable for her as it was for me.
Sunday, during the closing session, “O” spread the car moment for all of us to grasp. One woman, Sue, stood in her courage, asked for help and it was given repeatedly. What an incredible lesson filled with love. I left Conference feeling renewed and revitalized.
As I busily made my way home through the airport on Sunday night, I received an email from Sue letting me know that she had made it safely home. It was a beautiful 4C weekend that I shall treasure always. Karen ~ Moderator & Board Member for WFS
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A First Conference for me, arriving Thursday evening, to a warm welcoming from 4C women and a table packed with food. It was an awesome sight for tired, hungry, lost women. The dorm experience was really fun and quite comfortable, surprisingly.
I slept like a baby! I got up early Friday morning and the breakfast had a great offering from light to hearty. I had signed up for a morning workshop with “O” on Statement #2. She was a get-going facilitator and left us uplifted and strong.
I left my afternoon open to absorb my surroundings and visit the auction tables and literature available. I was so impressed with the really beautiful auction items that were donated. After dinner, I attended a meeting for newbies to the conference, which was well attended as there were a lot of us! The welcoming ceremony was held at 7:30 that evening and it went long due to comments from all the attendees. It was emotional and inspiring and it was nice to meet our group leaders and Board Members.
Saturday, we were up and fed by a good buffet, and attended Rita Miller’s innovated program on Vulnerability. Afterwards, I signed up for Diane’s presentation on Change Your Questions, Change Your Life, and left with material to share with my home group -- what a bonus! In the afternoon, I went to Karen’s session on Statements in Action, and found a great discussion group and, again, left with material to share. I was a happy gal.
I took in a nap and time to absorb what I was here to gain after all. I’d been warned by Suzie, my home moderator and travel partner, to space my activities and I am so glad I did. I joined Suzie for her 7 pm WFS meeting, reflecting on Statement #1. It was well attended and lots of active discussion all round. We were most pleased.
Sunday was bitter-sweet, as it was just feeling like we were getting into the conference and now it was time to pack to go home! It was so meaningful to meet other newly sober women joining my journey in recovery. It is absolutely amazing to me how many women are using the WFS online chats and message boards to guide them through their recovery. I am so fortunate to have a regular face to face meeting at home; yet, we are so fortunate to have at our finger tips the online help for our sisters.
Our “O” Closing was warming and congratulatory to everyone involved. Becky and Ralph, the WFS Board Members, DeSales University and staff and to US the 4C Women who attended the 2013 conference. Jennifer ~ Santa Cruz, California
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Oh my goodness, conference memories... already it’s been almost a month gone by… hard to believe....
Getting there is half the fun! All the anticipation and planning for us on the West coast is a pretty big ordeal. Also, trying to include some historic experiences is part of the fun (a little time in Philly). By the time we arrived on Thursday night, we were ready to be there and the place was already hopping!
Loads of delicious foods and celebratory moods enveloped us into this amazingly loving space. It was breathtaking, really. This was my 2nd conference and my traveling buddy and co-moderator’s first. I knew what to expect; however, I was still taken aback at seeing familiar faces and the welcoming familiarity of our upcoming weekend.
I had attended the “O” workshops on my 1st time around, so this time I left Friday morning open… which was a good thing! I enjoyed exploring the city of Bethlehem more than I can say. Delightful shopping! Next year, I’d love to come early to do the historic tours like Bethlehem Steel, Moravian Museum and a proper Tea Room. We came back mid-day to attend afternoon face-to-face meetings. Thank you to our afternoon group moderators, Patricia and Susie!
The Opening Ceremonies are always thrilling, emotional and overwhelmingly powerful. There were so many competent women in one room! Those who came with little recovery under your belts - you are so competent - it takes so much courage to actually show up.
Sleeping in the dorm is an experience in itself – it takes you back a few years! Accommodations are certainly basic and absolutely fine! I would remember wishing I’d brought a headlight for reading in bed, my own coffee/tea cup, and an extra hand towel for a bath mat! We had a lot of rain this year; it was really beautiful unless you were from the area and seriously worried about floating away… and you still are! Oh my goodness!
Saturday was a full day of hard to choose breakout sessions. From what I heard, all were wonderful. Relapse Prevention was my favorite and I came away with many tools. A Tea Social and auction - fabulous!
Evening was calmer after a big energy day. Jennifer and I held a WFS meeting on Statement #1. It was well attended and felt very productive. The mix of newcomers to experienced was perfect. I believe everyone left feeling glad they came. I am overwhelmed by the wisdom of those who achieve lifetime sobriety/recovery online. You ladies rock! I learned their secret - Go there (WFS online forum) every day. EVERY DAY. Pick a connections group and join in/contribute. Commit to it and do it - just like Jean says... and we do.
On Sunday, I signed up for yoga but found I needed to pack instead. It was hard to leave, yet feeling totally fulfilled - a very successful conference - and it is not over just yet! The closing ceremony reminded us what a powerful group we are - the solid foundation on which we stand. A special thanks to Jean, to Becky and Ralph for being the huge heart that keeps this powerful program going. Oh yes, and finally, the sharing of it all to our members back home. I’ve been talking about it for weeks. It was such an amazing experience. Bonded together, Suzie, Moderator ~ Santa Cruz, California
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To those of you who think about going but have not done it yet, you must plan for it next year! I was amazed how many “newbies” were there - half of the attendees! For that many women to take the dive into the program and meet the many women in person they have come to know on the online message boards so early in their sobriety shows a tremendous amount of courage and commitment. I was so happy to meet you all!
It was also a huge treat for me to meet up again with my old friends who have been a part of WFS since or before the start of my own involvement in 2004. One of these sisters paid my way to the conference this year, as well as back in 2005. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to her for allowing me this beautiful experience to meet the many women who come to the conference to experience the WFS Program in action. It also gave me immense pleasure to meet Becky and Ralph all those years ago, and to get to see them once again. They work so hard and manage to do it all with huge smiling faces! Being grateful for all of this just doesn’t sound adequate. My heart is wide open and my commitment to the program is fully renewed, as is my spirit and faith in people.
I am flooded with tears of joy! Love CAN change the course of my world. Life can’t be ordinary when I am with my sisters; it can only be great! I highly recommend it!
I am going to start putting money away for next year’s conference. Please come to the conference next year! You will never want to miss another one after that! In the meantime, visit the WFS bookstore at www.wfscatalog.org, and gobble up all of the WFS books, booklets, CDs, etc. that you can. There are many short ones that are easily affordable.
For all of you that did attend the conference - please, let’s stay in touch with one another. A good way to do that would be on the WFS online forum message boards. I will make a better effort to visit there myself for sure.
I love you all! (And I’m pretty sure you love me too! Ha!) Kathleen, aka “misty” on WFS Online Forum
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I felt welcomed, as if I belonged from the moment I arrived at my very first WFS conference. The trip there was horrendous and took almost twice as long as it should have as there was a horrific weather system which brought inches of rain to the northeast; and I was driving alone. Two of my buddies were arriving at the same time as me. We hooked up and we made our way to the face-to-face meeting scheduled for 3 pm on Friday. It was awesome; there were about two dozen competent women from all over the country participating. Susie from Long Island was the Moderator of the meeting and I am fortunate enough to be able to attend her local group meetings back home. I actually have three face-to-face meetings in my vicinity on Long Island which I can attend; I ask you, who has it better than me?
Next, we made our way over to the dormitory building for our formal check-in registration. As soon as I received my nametag and room key, I began introducing myself to just about anyone I saw. I am, by nature, an outgoing person and I not only attend a weekly group meeting, but I also participate online by reading a lot and attending at least one chat per week online. I immediately began recognizing some 4C friends by their online names and making connections right away.
I am not going to go much further with the play by play action but the conference was truly a great experience. The workshops were well thought out and often expertly presented. The facility was terrific and I had no complaints about the food. The dorm room is a dorm room, not all that comfy but it served its purpose. I would recommend for everyone to try getting to at least one conference!
For me, there were two highlights to the weekend. My very favorite part of the conference was the Friday night Welcoming Gathering. Becky introduced herself and gave some tips on how the weekend would run for those of us who are first timers. She then introduced the Board of Directors and asked them each to describe, in one word, what they have experienced as far as change in their lives by being an active member of WFS. I heard about a dozen women introduce themselves before I realized everyone in the room was going to introduce themselves! Everyone, in turn, stood up and gave their name, their online screen name, where they live, how they learned about WFS and what their one word of life change has been. Many of those descriptive words follow:
* Change from judgment to curiosity * Keep Growing * Stop feeling responsible for other people’s opinions * Amazing * Spirit has found expression * Freedom * Worthy of Love * Relief * Acceptance of Responsibility * I am a Sober Woman * Focus on what I want to accomplish * No longer an imposter * Authenticity * Wisdom * Take people for who they are * Smile! * Confidence * Peace * Think before I act * Think rationally * Stop! * Positive * Hope * Balance * Not to exaggerate * Inner Tranquility * Strength * Sobriety * Live Life * Deepened Acceptance * Choices * Comfortable in my own skin * Place of calm * Not Absent but Present * Permission to Thrive (not just exist) * A great way of life * Soft * Time to Grow Up * Found Home * I Am Enough * Others loved me until I could love myself * WFS should be on every corner * Do Not be a victim * Now there is a plan and tools for the plan * We are bonded * Witness Inspired * Process (fake it till you make it) * Fun Future – not glum * I am responsible for me, myself and I * Do Not take anything personally * Do Not have expectations * I got sober with another program - I learned to live life with WFS * * Don’t have to do everything at once or now * Forgiveness * Wonderful to see how wise women are * Daily Involvement * The sky’s the limit * Accepting * Blessed * Create Space * You don’t have to endure sobriety to embrace it * Present * Lucky for WFS program * Hope * Forward * No Longer Hiding * Learned how to be uninvolved in drama * Truly Authentic Self * Acceptance at any point, any time * Given up a lot of shame * Welcomes you with a soft landing * Learning to like myself * Learned how to take care of myself * Saved My Life * Looked up to others who were happy * Changed My Thoughts * You never have to be alone again! * Daily Meditation * Don’t listen to the voice of the disease * Be Vulnerable * Applying statements/using one every day * Fix your off switch * Put down the #2 pencil and use the entire box of Crayola’s
Second fantastic section of the weekend was the Silent and Live WFS Auctions. So many women donated such lovely items. There were some great bidding wars. It was lots of fun to be there and participate in the bidding of a few items. I cannot wait for Becky’s tallies to share how much money was raised this year!
Thank you, Becky, for all you do! Thank you, Ralph, for everything you do (and I am sure it is a bit of everything). Mary and Crystal, from the office, helping to hold it all together; I thank you. And to all of the wonderful women of WFS and those that I met at conference, see you again next year or soon! Bonded, Mary, aka “markevburns” on WFS Online Forum