WFS Conference Memories 2012
2012 WFS Conference Reminiscing
June 8, 9, & 10, 2012 at DeSales University
Center Valley, Pennsylvania
Another fantastic weekend for Women for Sobriety and 4C women! We had 107 members booked in at DeSales University Campus in Center Valley, Pennsylvania from June 8, 9, & 10, 2012.
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 T-shirt swap fundraiser, members donated a HUGE amount of gently used books and magazines to raise funds at our bookstore, 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 (t-shirts, night lights, sobriety rocks, jewelry, acrylic pieces with our ‘W’ logo, ‘Be good to you’ fridge magnets), 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 294 items went up for bid!)…and so the GRAND TOTAL IN DONATIONS COLLECTED OVER 4 DAYS = $14,112!
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 7, 8, 9, 2013)
Becky Fenner, WFS Director
This year, I thought it was doubtful that I would make it to conference because of personal health issues and then a sick husband… it was giving me a lot of stress and upset. My travel companion, Sue, was also traveling with crutches and a wheel chair to add to the challenge (just shows that obstacles can be overcome). It was really great when I pulled into the parking lot at the dorm and knew I had made it.
My weekend started with dinner with friends, that included a nice catching up time and laughs about things that happened in previous years. The t-shirt swap came up next and that is always a hoot with women guessing which package they want or stealing a shirt that someone else got. I came home with a nice shirt with a little stuffed bear from Myrtle Beach.
Fast forward to opening ceremonies on Friday and it was good to have all the women introduce themselves and tell us something about what the “New Life” Program does/did for them. There is so much growth and understanding taking place and we came together to celebrate. It was a good day.
Saturday we got into the meat of the weekend, as many will also tell you. As always, I enjoyed Rita Miller’s morning session. I always look forward to her sessions – she is so wise and knows our program so well that she is to be commended for that. Two more sessions I attended were informative and helpful. I am always willing to learn from others in recovery and women who have gone through similar issues know better than anyone else what the trials are. A lively auction rounded out the day and our evening sessions.
Sunday is always a sad day, filled with goodbyes and promises to keep in touch and support each other during the next year. “O’s” closing session tied the weekend classes together and gave me new insights.
It was great to reconnect with “old” friends and fun to make new friends. I am so glad that circumstances allowed me get there after all my stresses at home, which was what I needed. As an aside here, Sue, my companion and co-moderator, also learned some lessons of sisterly love and caring, through all the help she received with her chair and crutches. Just shows again and again how loving and caring we women are to others’ problems. Onward to next year!
Shirley Schuy, Moderator & WFS Board Member
Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
Gratitude, You Betcha
At the conference on Friday morning, “O” suggested that we indulge in a little meditation. As I am a practitioner of Transcendental Meditation, I anticipated a pleasant, relaxing experience. I was totally unprepared for what turned out to be a profound, emotional journey, long overdue… a journey through time and space, all courtesy of focusing on my body. We began the journey with the focus on our feet.
I found myself reflecting on my right foot, specifically my hammer-toe, courtesy of years of wearing heels during my social work career. Moving upward, I remembered splitting open my right knee while leaving my daughter and her month old twin baby boys on Thanksgiving night (totally sober BTW) who are now high school seniors. Thinking about my left knee brought to mind the day at the gym 6 years ago as I stretched after a class, tearing the meniscus. It buckles now, unexpectedly, if not often.
Up to my left thigh: as a brand-new cheerleader, I painfully recalled the afternoon of my first routine at a basketball game when I performed the required split…with the wrong leg. My squad comforted what they thought was my anguish at my humiliation out on the floor, never knowing that I had torn the hamstring, and was in horrendous pain, not embarrassment. Through the years, a slight ache at night accompanies me.
A wee bit higher, I won’t go into the memories of what happened to my not-necessary-to-be-identified inside organs which cradled, nourished, grew, and then quite efficiently, expelled 3 perfectly-formed human beings. Neither can I forget the also unnamed organs somewhere inside which apparently did their own thing, necessitating a surgeon’s scalpel to resection some parts onto other parts, all of which culminated in an infection that refused to heal without the aid of a VNA ordered “vacuum-cleaner” of sorts.
Fondly, but quickly, I skipped over my less-than-perky-breasts both of which fed those afore-mentioned 3 children for many, many a month, and without so much as a murmur, have been subjected to annual smashing between huge metal machines.
I will never forget my once-so-solid right shoulder which, after years of acrobatics and exercise, didn’t handle being fallen on during a (sober) slip off my air-bed a few years ago and healed up nicely following surgery, though remains a bit on the weak side.
Okay. Confession time: l must come to my left shoulder, which a year ago, during a power outage-alcohol-fueled fall, rebelled loudly and painfully by dislocating itself from its socket…AND THEN to my utter shock, added insult to injury, literally, by doing it again 3 days later while I was merely stretching in the morning before getting out of bed.
Oh, and you’ve heard of the movie “My Left Foot”? I have “my left thumb”. It reminds me every day, all day, of the alcohol-induced precedent I set 3 years ago. Seated with a crowd of “happy” folks around a campfire one night, I rather gracefully but quietly slid out of my chair, and while trying to break my fall, I grabbed a tree trunk on my way down. Unfortunately, my thumb did not continue in the same direction as the rest of my hand, and it bent backward. It bruised up nicely and, today, I have a barely functional, permanently deformed constant reminder of that mishap.
Then “O” guided us up to our face area. I smiled as I thought of my vanity-inspired eyelid surgery 15 years ago, sliced and re-sown so the droop would disappear; it did. And thanks are due to my dentist for my white-toothed smile and for the molds and bleach he provided. He also engineered my fake right front tooth as the replacement for the one that was cracked, along with the white crown that sits atop a metal implant that replaces the molar with the cracked root that was yanked out.
No one but me notices the tiny scar under my chin that bore witness to a bit of fat being sucked out of my face with another needle…and it is only this year that I can detect the lines above my mouth returning after being chemically peeled off a while ago.
I don’t need to go into the Botox-filled needle that smoothed the wrinkles between my eyes, or the one filled with Juvederm that raised up my cheeks a year ago.
I am pleased with the tattooed eyebrows. Though it was a bit uncomfortable at the time, it is worth not having to pencil them in every day or go without. (Try shaving off your eyebrows and seeing what a strange, inexplicable, non-expression it adds to a face).
Hair that has been permed or colored forgives easily and just goes back to what it knows best, gray white, and limp.
As a result of that conference workshop, I recognized the profound respect that I have for my body, its duties, responsibilities and especially its healing powers. What a miracle is the human body. With all its flaws, I am so deeply grateful for mine.
“Joycebgood” ~ Espiritalca
That’s what it feels like to me. I’ve been to 5 conferences now and, although, each one has been different, each one has its own “flavor” and memories. They have all felt like I was “coming home”. Like a huge family reunion but with family that “gets” you. To use the words from a song in “Camelot” – for one brief shining moment, I get to be me. Totally, unadulterated, no masks, no job hat, no perceived expectations, no worries if my behind looks too big; just the genuine ME! And, my friends, that’s not even the best part. The best part is that people accept me just as I am. They don’t expect me to be any different than I am.
People always have this puzzled look on their faces when I tell them I’m going to a Women’s Conference as far away as Allentown, PA. They don’t have a clue where that is and can’t figure out why on earth I would want to travel that far to be with a bunch of women for a weekend. Coming through U.S. customs this year, the fellow was doing his best to “trip” me up. Probing and probing; trying to figure out what kind of scam I was running on him. It didn’t work because I had the answers, of course. He was especially surprised when I told him I wasn’t getting paid to go or do the workshops. Finally, I sighed and said, “Look, it’s like a 4 day pajama party. What woman do you know would want to miss an opportunity like that?” Ah…he “got it” and passed me through.
And, so, each year I eagerly wait for conference. It may only be a “brief shinning moment” but it lasts with me all year long!
Shelly Rasmussen, Chat Leader ~ “RAZZ” on WFS Online Forum
Morinville, Alberta, Canada
My 2012 Conference Experience was wonderful this year. I met old friends and new friends. I tried to make people feel welcome. This is a trip that I plan every year without fail. I wait all year for this to come and this is a weekend exclusively for me. I turn my phone off for most of the weekend. I enjoy the workshops and the different meetings. I feel like I am on a Natural high all weekend. I feel as if I am meeting a bunch of old friends. The women connection, here, for me is super strong.
I will admit that this is the second best thing to happen to me in my life. My first is having my daughter. I have such a passion for the WFS Program that I am able to plan all year, and bring some new donations for the Auction. I take great pleasure in doing this. What really helped out our local WFS group was putting $10 or $20 away each week. That way it was not a complete struggle to get the money together. Everyone who went contributed to their cost.
I will, God-willing, be there next year. Words cannot describe how I felt about the WFS Conference. Thank you, Becky, Ralph, and all of the WFS Staff for all of your hard work. I’m looking forward to next year already. Thanks ladies for being a part of my best weekend out of the year. Love you all and see you next year.
Your friend, “Catgirl”
In 2008, my first year at the WFS Conference, I stuck close to the Newbies. We’d found each other through the WFS online forum’s “Connections” message board and quickly attached ourselves at the hip during Friday morning registration. At the kick-off meeting Friday night, we poked each other and whispered, “What are you going to say?” as woman after woman recounted how many years she’d been sober. Years? We Newbies counted our sobriety in days, weeks, and sometimes months. Our turns came to speak and we spoke the truth. We were accepted and supported. Still traveling in close-knit comfort, we went to a workshop on Preventing Relapse. I wondered aloud if I could go on a bender during “special weekends” and still be a WFS member in good standing. The silence in the circle was profound; but, I remember today the kind, non-judgmental advice and care that followed. Again, I risked being vulnerable and, again, I was supported. What a concept! Maybe there was something to this 4C stuff after all.
Since 2008, I missed one Conference and attended two more as a “day student,” since I live nearby. But in 2012, I signed up to come to the Conference early, arriving on Thursday. I highly recommend coming early and spending time with everyone. The workshops are fantastic, bonding and informative, but sitting and talking all day Friday with like-minded, 4C women (including my no-longer ‘new’ Newbie friends) is irreplaceable. It’s worth the money, time and effort, just like our sobriety is so worth it. I’m even training to be a Moderator. Sign me up for 2013! And let’s get more Newbies at Conference, too. WE ARE WORTH IT!
4C hugs, Priscilla “Ruffy” Estes ~ Yardley, Pennsylvania
My most amazing conference experience was this year during introductions. This was my fifth WFS conference. Last year, I attended with just a week of sobriety after a terrible 8 week relapse. I didn’t even want to introduce myself; when I did, it was quickly with eyes down. I swore to myself and a few other folks that I’d have one solid year of abstinence in 2012, and I did.
I had not planned to say anything special; I was just going to proudly exclaim I did it! But by the time the microphone made it back to me on nearly the last row, my heart was filled with gratitude. Standing next to me were 6 women from my online forum “Connection” message board. Some I had known for 5 years, but never met face to face. One I had just spent a week sight-seeing with. All have stood with me through my struggles and shared theirs and all of us are dedicated to abstinence from drinking. My heart was filled with love, happiness, joy. It was pure joy to be sharing this moment with women I have communicated with for years and who I know from inside of their heart through their writing.
So, the microphone came to me and I introduced myself and noted that I was planning to do a jig on the chairs, but since they were the rocking kind, I decided not to. I then thanked all the women who had purchased sobriety jewelry from me over the years. I explained that when they ordered a bracelet from me, I would stay sober that night because I had an order to fill. These women were with me on those nights, in my thoughts, and in my heart.
Then women began to raise their wrists into the air and show me their bracelets…women all over the room. I was speechless. I was crying. I was overwhelmed by the visual symbolism that we are a part of each other’s recovery. WE.
Marianne Costello “Mac”
this is what i kept hearing this weekend. all love given returns. think i going thru a grow spurt. i showed up with being prepared……yep mentaly i was going to "keep it together" this year i did not wanna let anyone down. big weekness is speeking in front of all these women, had it all planned out exactly what i was gonna say and guess what? becky changed the rules!!!!!!! instant panic, you know the kind where the hands sweat instntly, turn cold as ice heart pounding outside your chest and ya know everyone cann see the pounding i just know it. and my WFS sister knew it and we worked thru it. she gave me permisson to only panic when it hits to this point (we were in back row btw) so that worked and exactly at the given point it all started agan. when it was my trun stood up (YIKES) grabbed her hand and yes i spoke and i dont think i stuttered. WOW. althuogh i do beleve lambie's hand mite be lil sore she did not let me go. friday i had some WFS sister tell me about a post i did 2 years ago??!!!! heck where did that come from i had forgotten about that, i thought that post was gone, hidden never to be heard or seen again. she told me it inspired many new women to come to this confence, i can say that touched me very deep. i had so many litebulb moments – one of the big ones was my "support" that i keep pushing away without even knowing it is what i am doing. i went thru a very bad time period last year and i dont want that ever happeing again. a sister listened to me, got to know me (she pretty much already knew me LOL) and explained if i call you what would you do, without hesitating said i would listen, as soon as those words came out i sorta went OOOOHHHHH, she knew that in my mind i can listen, love, give, and accept YOU but how different it was when i thought of myself. i have been working very hard on self care, you know self LOVE and i am denying myself this. why cant i give myself permission to support myself which means actualy posting, sharing, using a phone, calling someone from WFS and asking for there help. someone that knows me, gets me and understands me. WFS sisters are the gift i am asking for and i keep pushing it away…..i sat with my sisters, i talked (yeah me talked to them) with my sisters and i even felt what they were offering me, the support that i need, the support that i crave. i mean they were so excited with the fact that i do martial arts – my personal life no one realy seems to care. when all the new confrence women were standing up front during O and she repeated you are there gift and we were there gift……..that was kewl. my garden is growing, i am using the fertilizer, sometimes i forget to water it but what i am growing is becoming more beautiful and stronger and i am not so ashamed of my garden for the weeds look like flowers now and what once was dried up soil is now moist and easier to plant more seeds. i can see for myself the growth, it is not dried and ugly it just needed some love and attention that i must be willing to do the work. all love given returns.
Editor’s note: For all the perfectionists and English Majors reading the above comments from Rainbow: take a deep breath and exhale [repeat as necessary]… and get over the urge to email me to complain about the grammar and spelling. And, I’m taking my own advice to heart because I started making corrections and stopped. Please do not pass judgment on Rainbow because of her writing skills, or I on my editing decisions. We are imperfectly perfect…each embracing one another over the years and accepting who we are at that very moment in time, knowing we have so much more to learn and to understand. “All love given returns.” ~Becky Fenner