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Why I Choose Hard

Everyone has her own reasons for choosing to be sober. Often the motivation is due to repercussions from a particularly devastating binge. Other times it is the culmination of a series of worsening issues affecting health, relationships, job, or all of the above.

Once you are here, doing the work and making the lifestyle changes, what is it that drives you to continue? Let’s be honest, sobriety is not all sunshine, rainbows and unicorns. It’s downright difficult. It can be soul wrenching. It changes the trajectory of our lives and our relationships. Sometimes it means saying goodbye to people and habits that are no longer good for us. Becoming sober is as much a process of mourning as it is of rebirth.

So, what is it that keeps you on your sober path? For me, more than anything, it’s seeing and feeling the light coming back into my life. I often imagine I am sealed in a pitch-black room. Each tiny shuffle I take in my sobriety represents another pinpoint of light breaking through the darkness. As I inch further in my sobriety more light begins to stream through the walls and I not only see the brightness, but I begin to feel its warmth as well. As more holes of light accumulate, they start to overlap, changing individual spots into larger openings. I begin to see beyond my murky space.

I have a few windows now to gaze out on my world. What was once a dark and lonely place is becoming brighter every day. It’s warm and inviting. Someday, there will no longer be a wall at all; I will be out in the open with no need to hide. The shame and anxiety of those days marred by poison will be long behind me and a future filled with promise and hope will be stretched out before me. For now I am staying the course, even though it’s hard and it sometimes hurts, and it can feel scary. I choose my hard because there is light and life ahead of me.  


Statement 6:  Life can be ordinary or it can be great.
Greatness is mine by a conscious effort.

Bonded, Becky
(24 days sober with WFS)

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Monday Thoughts 6/10/2019

Monday Thoughts

“I love those connections that make this big old world feel like a little village.” ~~Gina Bellman

“I am a part of all that I have met.” ~~Lord Tennyson

“Sometimes, reaching out and taking someone’s hand is the beginning of a journey. At other times, it is allowing another to take yours.” ~~Vera Nazarian


Statement #11
Enthusiasm is my daily exercise.
I treasure the moments of my New Life.


The last few days have been overflowing with love, connection and enthusiasm. Close to 150 women attended our 2019 WFS Conference, breaking our previous attendance record. The weekend was brimming with enthusiasm, from our fun and music filled Friday night Welcome Ceremony with Karlee Fain and Karen Drucker to when we gave and received hugs and said our last goodbye’s on Sunday.

Statement #11 in action is filled with connection and mindfulness, just like this past weekend. We came from a wide radius, converging together to bring enthusiasm, recovery and New Life to life. Saturday, a surprise allowed us to embrace our child-like enthusiasm and get down to really playing. The robust day was filled with workshops, auction and concluded with our new Joy of Transformation evening activity.

Countless women left on Sunday feeling recharged, re-energized and filled with enthusiasm. A heartfelt thank you to each of our passionate volunteers for making this weekend possible; WFS could not exist or be able to provide services without your dedication and effort. You bring life to this empowering organization.  If you were not able to attend this year, today is a great day to begin planning for next year! See you in 2020 in Minnesota!

What was your favorite part of the weekend? Please write to us and let us know! WFS would love to share your thoughts and experiences!

Hugzzz
Karen


Hi 4C Women,

Enthusiasm, joy, happiness and love was certainly felt this week-end at the WFS Conference. Many new faces and treasured women from the past. I enjoyed every moment and wish it could be more than a week-end. I would be hard pressed to say which moment created enthusiasm the most, which moment would be the most treasured as I felt my heart completely filled with love and especially hope for each and every woman who attended.  The openness, sharing and joy expressed in the workshops, welcoming and closing ceremonies, tears of gratefulness and caring while we chatted and ate meals together, were collectively the true expression of Statement #11.

As I think about my ordinary, everyday life back home, I realize there are many treasured moments as well. There are certainly up and downs, give and take and often I take those treasured moments for granted. I believe the conference reminded me how very blessed and fortunate I am for such an empowering program that changed my life and most of all for the women I have met, who have become my friends and walked this journey together, creating a support system most people could only dream of.

So, for those who attended the conference, I hope you take the spirit of enthusiasm home with you and share it with those women who were unable to be part of this “Hello Happiness” weekend. I encourage you to reflect on your New Life and recognize the treasured moments as you practice this amazing program.

Bonded together in treasuring the moments of your New Life,
A 4C Sister

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Monday Thoughts 5/27/2019

Monday Thoughts

Even though you may want to move forward in your life, you may have one foot on the brakes. In order to be free, we must learn how to let go. Release the hurt. Release the fear. Refuse to entertain your old pain. The energy it takes to hang onto the past is holding you back from a new life. What is it you would let go of today?” ~~Mary Manin Morrissey

“Self-acknowledgment boosts your emotional and spiritual immunity, giving you the strength you need to release the past and rise above fear, doubt, or resignation.” ~~Debbie Ford

“Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for the future.” ~~Lewis B. Smedes


Statement #9
The past is gone forever.
No longer am I victimized by the past. I am a new woman.


It easily became a habit, drinking at something that had happened that morning, last week or ten years ago. It was never a solution and quickly became a way of life. Instead of moving through uncomfortable feelings, I created more of what I was attempting to evade. Over time, this led to a seemingly endless cycle of emotional distress and attempts to escape.

The absolute beauty of Statement #9 is how life-changing it is when practiced. Old wounds can become windows into clarity, strength and wisdom. Rewriting history to create a pavement of balance encourages living life in the present and embracing what is and can be.

In our WFS Program booklet it states, “By releasing the past, the present comes alive and we can experience life with fullness and hope.” Imagine only looking in the rear-view mirror when driving. How far can you safely go without hitting curbs or running a stop sign? With occasional glances backwards, life can become filled with beautiful scenery while heading to new destinations.

Here are a few ways which can aid in releasing the past:

  • Understand you are holding on: It is impossible to let go if you do not accept that you are holding on in the first place.
  • Redefine a painful, past experience: Is it possible to look at a painful experience as a new beginning? Practice looking at the past as a bystander instead of participant.
  • Lean into the present: Notice how it feels to sit, stand, or simply be. Observe how the chair or earth is supporting you, what is it like to be present? It is not possible to be fully present and stuck in the past at the same time.

What works for you in practicing Statement #9?

Hugzzz
Karen


Hi 4C Women,

I lived in the past for many years. The past of my youth, before marriage, was always the best in my mind which I now realize was unrealistic. My marriage was a combination of love and pain but I chose to only remember the pain for a long time. The pain justified my actions and kept me stuck in both my unrealistic youth memories, wishing for the impossible – to go back. Rather than understanding that I was in charge of how I viewed the past and how it shaped me by my own choices and actions, I just kept running from the truth. While I can’t or won’t deny the pain, I will not live in it today because I cannot change the choices I made back then. I can choose to appreciate how much strength I have gained, the ability to voice my feelings, to learn what are my red flags/triggers, to stop the negative thoughts and just say, I didn’t do this or that so why stay stuck in anger and regret. I ask myself, what can I do NOW? Being able to look at the past and accept the lessons I have learned surprised me when I realized that was how I was beginning to reflect on the past. In doing so, it has helped me to make wiser choices, to respect myself and live in authenticity.

I think the most challenging parts of the past to let go of involve my family. As a mother, sister, daughter and wife, I sometimes wonder and, yes, wish I could go back and change my decisions. I feel inadequate and angry at myself for not doing better but as the saying goes, you do the best you can with what you know at that time. So, after my personal pep talk to counter those negative thoughts, I go back to the question I shared above – what can I do now? How can I put those invaluable lessons into practice?

Most of all, I need to forgive myself. As long as I am willing to learn, to make healthier choices, I cherish the ability to forgive myself as much as possible. When I struggle with it, I ask myself what would I say to friend if they came to me with guilt, shame and regrets? That answer is about self-forgiveness, to be our own best friend as we are to others.

Bonded in letting go of the past and healing for our future,
A 4C Woman

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New WFS Meeting – Laramie, WY

WFS is proud to announce the start of a new face-to-face meeting!

Laramie, WY

Mondays – 7:00 pm

Start Date: July 1, 2019

Please email 1093@womenforsobriety.org with questions and to obtain the exact location of the meeting.

Please join us in extending our gratitude to the volunteer Certified Moderator who has made the commitment to bring the New Life Program to her local community!

If you are feeling inspired to bring WFS to your local community, please review the requirements for becoming a Certified Moderator and contact the Face-to-Face Management Team for assistance.

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Organization Update – 5/24/19

Hello Happiness!

Hello Competent Women!

Just a quick check-in to let you know that we are still here, working hard to bring the New Life Program to the world. Pretty much all our time here at the office is being spent on preparing for conference, which is only 2 weeks away! The tote bags and other supplies are coming in, signage and programs sent to the printers, and a record number of women have registered.

That’s right – we are breaking the record this year! Our two biggest years have been 134 women in 2006 and 2009. As I write this, we have 142 women registered to join us in Center Valley, PA, in June. I think the hard work of the Conference Planning Workgroup has a whole lot to do with that. Please join me in thanking these generous volunteers for donating so much of their 4C energy to make this happen!

The Teddy Bear Challenge is still going strong, and all of the other boring business-end tasks are still getting accomplished. We have 3 volunteer teams meeting over Memorial Day weekend – there’s no time to rest when you are busy saving lives!

Well, that’s the last bit of my energy left from this week, but don’t worry, I am still…

Enthusiastically Yours!
Adrienne Miller
President/CEO
Women for Sobriety, Inc.

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Monday Thoughts 5/20/2019

Monday Thoughts

“You try something, it doesn’t work, and maybe people even criticize you. In a fixed mindset, you say, ‘I tried this, it’s over.’ In a growth mindset, you look for what you’ve learned.” ~~Carol S. Dweck

“If you are outgrowing who’ve you been, you are right on schedule. Keep evolving. ~~Lalah Delia

“Feeling at home with ourselves and being able to create a spirit of place that nourishes us physically, emotionally, spiritually is a goal worthy of our highest priority.” ~~Alexandra Stoddard


Statement #8
The fundamental object of life is emotional and spiritual growth.
Daily I put my life into a proper order, knowing which are the priorities


Our founder, Jean Kirkpatrick, Ph.D., understood that growth is critical to sustaining and enjoying sobriety and recovery. Without growth, life remains stagnant, unmoving. Statement #8 encourages growth in life; imagine a seed pushing through a shell to unfurl its stem and leaves. Without growth, the seed never feels the sun and simply withers.

It states in our WFS Program booklet, “Growth is an essential aspect of our recovery. It is the process of learning who we are and where to focus our efforts for personal change. Our morning meditation time, during which we read the Statements, gives us the opportunity to center ourselves and set priorities for the day.”

What actions can be taken to expand our growth? Here are a few examples that can lead towards emotional and spiritual growth:

  • Seek understanding: Even when nothing initially makes any sense, seeking and being open to understanding allows for personal growth and development.
  • Embrace independence: Instead of relying on what others think, say or do, owning thoughts, actions and purpose leads to greater depth, growth and feelings of contentment.
  • Check instant gratification at the door: Often a first impulse is to get over something ASAP. Moving through discomfort long enough to seek additional information or solution lays a foundation for emotional stability.
  • Invest in truth: Commit to stating, knowing and hearing the truth no matter how uncomfortable or stressful that truth may be, can lead to expanding strength and integrity.
  • Relationship: Connection is a key to growth; nothing grows in a vacuum. Seeing and participating in relationships to life outside of the self is connecting and an opportunity for growth and learning.

What actions have helped you practice Statement #8?

Hugzzz
Karen


Hi 4C Women,

Each of the example actions that Karen shared are great tools for change. After all, that is what WFS is all about and why I value the lessons each of the statements has given me over the years. Emotional and spiritual growth is a lifetime journey. There are situations I’ve experienced that let me know I have achieved the growth I was working towards and at other times, I realize there is more to learn. I am grateful that I can look at it that way rather than start in the negative self-talk of the past at how inadequate, ignorant or foolish I was in my decision-making. It was all or nothing thinking.

For me, spiritual growth is that quiet time I give to myself to breathe, to pause and take in the small wonders around me. It’s challenging at times to create that space and I have to say that it is one of the things I have to remind myself to do. I’ve been on my own for over 25 years and so I am use to being in charge of everything. That’s the reality. However, sometimes “everything” feels like a tornado sweeping me up and I’m wishing I could land safely in a place of peace and joy. When I start thinking like that, I know I have some work to do to create that place myself, especially since tornadoes do not gently place you anywhere!

I have this Life Balance Wheel on paper. Every once in a while, I look at it and do a self-check of how I spend my time.  It lists different areas of life with numbers to be circled that indicate your level of satisfaction – 7 being completely satisfied and 1 being completely dissatisfied. After you circle the numbers and connect them, the question asked is to imagine how your car would travel if the wheels were in this shape. In other words, do you give enough time to what matters in your life, what is in your heart, what gives you joy? This is all part of the spiritual journey. While there are certain obligations we all have to be responsible for, it is important to pay attention to the spiritual growth of our life journey. Do you have the balance in your emotional and spiritual growth that supports you as much as you deserve? If not, how can you begin to find and create that balance and satisfaction with how you spend your time?

Bonded in finding balance on our emotional and spiritual growth journey,
A 4C woman

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Trust the Universe

I often want to share about how wonderful sobriety is, but that can feel overwhelming because there are so many experiences I could discuss. I’ve decided to share about trusting the universe and what happens when you do.
I stopped drinking on July 2, 2016. My first half year of sobriety was simply focused on not drinking, studying the Women for Sobriety (WFS) Statements and beginning to feel stable without alcohol. By the following spring, I began to get antsy. I knew that my life could be so much better, but how would I even start to make changes? I pondered on that, attempting to discover my purpose. Then, early one morning during my daily routine, I wrote in my journal “I am ready for my change.”
That afternoon, I learned that my teaching contract would only be half-time for the following year due to low student enrollment. My first reaction ~ well it was some colorful language! Then I acknowledged, “This is exactly what you just asked for.”  My superintendent offered to help find me a full-time position in another school district, but I knew something else was out there for me.
By mid-summer I was offered a new job in a completely different field, one where I would be able to apply my teaching expertise. After just two short months, I felt overwhelmed and asked myself,  “What have I done? How can this be my purpose when I feel so unhappy?” Yet, I decided to stick with it for one year and give it my all. I learned as much as I could in the field and always tried to go the extra mile.  Life can be ordinary or it can be great and I was going to do a great job!
Within a year, I found myself applying for another job that someone had suggested. I had only worked in the field for a short time and had almost none of the required qualifications. But when I walked into the interview, I recognized people who had seen my efforts and knew that I had put my whole heart into my work. I felt like  crying tears of joy! I was offered the position and thought, “Yes! This is my dream job!”
Nothing is what I would have imagined ~ but my dream job is a perfect fit! I have a vision for what I am doing and I am becoming an expert. This is the coolest thing – I’m still in disbelief – but my new job is so fulfilling! I write a newspaper column related to my work and it’s published in eight papers. Why? Simply because I told them I wanted to!
Here is what I’ve discovered. I am not afraid of my passion anymore! I don’t try to dull my enthusiasm for fear of being ‘too much.’ I’m not afraid to use my voice to advocate for what I believe in my heart is right. Women for Sobriety has taught me so much about compassion and love, and that allows me to connect with people in ways that I wouldn’t have known before I stopped drinking.
I can feel my power inside. I harness that power, along with self-belief and courage, to tackle unimaginable challenges. I have confidence and I trust myself now. I am what I think, and I think positive thoughts throughout my day. I believe this is true because I have experienced it. The more amazing you believe you are, the more others will see it, too!
It’s all a work in progress. Every morning I wake up and tear off yesterday’s page on my Audubon calendar. I ponder my newest feathered friend before my journaling, meditation and setting of priorities begin. I know that the time I spend each morning is an investment in my future. There’s no question that I will do this routine each day for the rest of my life. I can’t imagine going back to my drinking days! Drinking was a closed circuit loop; sobriety is a wide open field. “The sky’s the limit!” This is what I was told when I accepted this job, and I now push myself to reach for it! For me, that’s fulfillment.   
Running9bear
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Monday Thoughts 5/13/2019

Monday Thoughts

“I feel the capacity to care is the thing which gives life its deepest significance.” ~~Pablo Casals

“My mission in life is to be kind, compassionate, caring and loving in order to find and feel the deepest joy in life.” ~~Debasish Mridha

“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.” ~~Margaret Mead


Statement #7
Love can change the course of my world.
Caring is all-important.


Before sobriety and New Life, caring was reserved for other people. Outwards, it had the appearance of caring, yet it was disguised as self-centeredness. This outlook chips away at self-worth and self-esteem. It also cements the cycle of negative feelings and a desire to escape which creates a loop of self-destruction.

Action into Statement #7 can feel frightening at first but with continued practice, it opens a whole new way to experience life; it changes our world. Instead of escaping feelings, it is a time to embrace feelings. No matter how deep-down feelings of caring are, they are there. Start small and branch out. Caring generates more caring while discarding in-authenticity.

Here are a few ways which can increase caring:

  • Write down your interests and list the people you feel an attachment to. Release things that you maybe were conditioned to care about or are told you should care about.
  • What do you have emotional responses to? What engages you? Identify what pulls at your heart. What actions can you take to cement and extend your caring?
  • Make time for experiences instead of room for things. Spending an hour on the phone with a friend can arouse feelings of care for both instead of spending cash or energy on empty items.
  • Identify and implement a healthy self-care routine. This can include encouraging self-talk, exercise, meditation, journaling.
  • Connect with others who care. The WFS Community is filled with caring women, whether online or in f2f groups.

What else can you uncover to commit action towards Statement #7?

Hugzzz
Karen


Hi 4C Women,

Powerful message from Karen on Statement #7. I especially appreciate her sharing the ways to increase caring from pretending to authentically feeling and expressing it. Drinking certainly can provide a stage for pretending you are feeling something you are not; yearning for acceptance when feeling unworthy, fueling that need for acceptance even further by pretending you aren’t in pain, feel lonely or unlovable. A dear friend recently sent me an article on happiness, joy and friendship. I loved this one quote by David Brooks, an opinion columnist: “Transparency is the fuel of friendship. We live in an age of social media. It’s very easy to create false personas and live life as a performance.  Joy is the present that life gives you as you give away your gifts.” What greater gift than learning to be authentic, find joy and share your gifts of caring with those who mean so much to you. This is the gift of sobriety/recovery as we practice Statement #7.

As I read the questions again, the one that stood out for me is what engages you, pulls at your heart? For me, it is being a moderator. To have the gift of watching women working hard at their recovery, to see the positive changes taking place week to week and their willingness to share their journey. It is nothing less than awe inspiring and truly pulls at my heart with overflowing joy. It is the gift that keeps on giving and is priceless!

Bonded together in knowing that caring is all important,
a 4C woman

 

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Organization Update – 5/10/19

Hello Competent Women!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Conference!

Supplies, auction donations, and teddy bears are pouring in! One of our office volunteer took me to BJ’s, a local warehouse store, so we could stock up on drinks, plates, and napkins for our Thursday night pizza party and of course plenty of coffee, tea, and cups for our hospitality station in Donahue Hall. We are poised to break a record this year with attendance. We have already had 126 women register – with more than a week left for all you last-minute types.

Now don’t be too last-minute! Even though we have our special Late Registration period again this year, there are certain disadvantages to using this option. The most obvious is that you will end up paying 10% more! Yikes! We may also not be able to accommodate special dietary or similar requests for late registrations, and supplies such as our great conference totes (plus goodies!) may run out. And since we are poised to overflow Donahue Hall this year, late registers will likely be sleeping in another building. This may not sound like a big deal, but I’ll warn you that the coffee pot is going to be at Donahue (native Seattlite speaking here, lol).

Joy of Transformation

Many women are curious about this year’s Joy of Transformation event on Saturday at the conference. The agenda is coming along quite nicely and we have a good mix of time for casual socializing over a family style meal, entertainment with the fabulous Karen Drucker, and a chance to get involved with a dance floor and Voice Your Joy karaoke hosted by our own PerditaX. We’ll also have an update from each of our strategic planning Management Teams, a moving video by the daughter of one of our participants (I cry every time I watch a new revision – it just keeps getting better), and our first ever Paddle Raise fundraiser.

Speaking of the Teddy Bear Challenge…

We are at almost $10,000!!! More than 70 women have donated $5, $10, $20… up to $1,500 from our biggest TBC donor! All donors (and anyone else who requests an entry) are being entered into the drawing to adopt one of our precious custom bears. WFS Online members can see the full lineup in the Everyday Living forum.

Don’t want a bear but still want to donate? We can accommodate that, too! Simply request to be excluded from the drawing when you make your donation. Alternately, winners will also have the option of donating their bear to a local domestic violence shelter for a child in need of comfort.

Boring Business Stuff

Don’t worry, because even in the midst of all this excitement, I am still making sure that the business of WFS is being conducted faithfully. We’re continuing to fill orders from our bookstore and requests for supplies from our local f2f groups in a timely manner. We are still in the process of migrating to our new contact management system, which will help us work with volunteers and donors more efficiently. We’ve also revised the registration process of the WFS Online Community to decrease the demand on our volunteer registration team and, hopefully, increase the accessibility of our life-saving program to women when they need it.

Did you know that non-profits get an extra month to file their taxes? Of course, that’s kind of a misnomer because we don’t actually file taxes, being a nonprofit. But we do have to file an annual report to the IRS summarizing our activities. It’s called a 990 and you can find our 2017 one on our Governance page. The extra month means that we get a special deal because accountants can put us off until after the main tax season ends. So of course I have been busy fetching information for our accountant so that he can get our 2018 990 done. Don’t worry, we will post the 2018 form as soon as it is ready!

 

Well that’s about it. As usual, I know there’s more, so check in next time to see what I’ll remember! I am so excited for the growth of the program that we are already seeing, and we couldn’t do it without supporters like you! Thank you for taking the time to read!

Enthusiastically Yours!
Adrienne
Women for Sobriety, Inc.

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Monday Thoughts 5/6/2019

Monday Thoughts

“Don’t ever save anything for a special occasion. Being alive is a special occasion.” ~~Author Unknown

“The moment when you first wake up in the morning is the most wonderful of the twenty-four hours. No matter how weary of dreary you may feel, you possess the certainty that during the day that lies before you, absolutely anything may happen. And the fact that it practically always doesn’t, matters not a jot. The possibility is always there. ~~Monica Baldwin

“Each day comes bearing its own gifts. Untie the ribbons.” ~~Ruth Ann Schabacker


Statement #6
Life can be ordinary or it can be great.
Greatness is mine by a conscious effort.


Our WFS Program booklet states, “Although we only get a one-way ticket through life, we speed through our days as if planning to enjoy them at another time. We live as if we have an endless number of tomorrows.” Yet, none of us have endless tomorrows which is why it’s important to live today and Statement #6 helps us accomplish this.

Living today means something different for everyone. For some, a career brings feelings of life, while for another, it may be grandchildren or connecting with nature. Each can fill the moments of life with ordinary greatness.

Before sobriety and New Life, it was easy to overlook living. Today, with the WFS Statements, the journey of recovery can be incredibly fulfilling. Every moment has the opportunity to be authentic and real. We can enjoy the ordinary, the great and everything in between.

Hugzzz
Karen


Hi 4C Women,

Do you ever find that life gets so hectic, you forget to appreciate or even acknowledge the positive changes that are taking place in your life? Whether it’s an ordinary day or one that is absolutely fantastic, sometimes we need to stop, take a breath and take it all in. I am a list maker and every time I read Statement 6, I am reminded that life is more than a list of tasks to be accomplished. While I feel good when I complete the tasks on my list, I realize I am not living in the moment of their completion. It’s a check mark and on to the next task!

Right now I am in the midst of planning my annual northern trip and there are 2 pages of tasks to be done before I leave and then a page of what to take when I leave. It has become all consuming. Last night I started feeling nauseous and spent most of the night tossing and turning. I think it was my body’s way of saying to slow down, take that deep breath.  So here is the lesson I am trying to learn – enjoy life, slow down, be aware!

Here’s a quote from Daily Affirmations for Forgiving and Moving by Dr. Tian Dayton that I absolutely love and relate to:

“When I can simplify and regulate my life so that I can really experience it as it is happening, I will have enough. I will experience my own spontaneity and creativity in the course of living my day. I am allowing myself to bloom gently. The flowers of peace and simplicity continue to grow as I find more time to nourish what is important and in need of attention in my heart.”

Bonded in appreciating the greatness and the ordinary,
A Capable, Competent, Caring, and Compassionate Woman