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Monday Thoughts 2/22/21

“The beginning is always today.” ~~Mary Shelley

“The future lies ahead, calling us up, offering us a new chance to make a new choice every day, offering us the chance to go another way, to start over. The possibilities are countless. All you have to do is just dare to take them.” ~~Zøe Haslie

“Sometimes the hardest part isn’t letting go but rather learning to start over.” ~~Nicole Sobon


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


There is a feeling of freedom in practicing Statement #9, a chance for new beginnings every day. Before sobriety and New Life, each day felt heavy, much like dragging past pain or trauma along. It was easy to settle into a cycle of clinging onto to what was, while standing in the way for what would come.

What is it about the past that can feel so desirable? Is there a different outcome wanted? Is it seeing our children younger with a toothless grin? A time of less responsibility? Whether we cling to moments of joy or regret, the past is gone forever. Acknowledgement of holding onto the past is the beginning of fully living in the present.

In our booklet, “WFS Beginner’s Collection” on page 63 it states “Letting go of our past can usually happen after we work through it. Then we must let go. Letting go of our past happens when we occupy ourselves with our present and with plans for the future.” Is this easy? No. Is it worth it? Absolutely. In our (currently virtual) face-to-face group we have a saying to accompany Statement #9… “The past does not define me.” This can be used as a mantra to alter unhealthy mindsets or can link us to the present moment.

Here are 4 additional ways to put action into Statement #9:

1. Be gentle with yourself: As Maya Angelou beautifully said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better. Release regret by understanding that you did the best could with what you had at the time.”

2. Give yourself permission to talk about it: Darkness can increase unease or fear because there is a lack of clarity. Open up to someone you trust, a therapist or other 4C women.

3. Examine and embrace forgiveness: Some things, especially trauma, are difficult to forgive yet when we acknowledge that the result of forgiveness is for ourselves and not the situation or person and that our forgiveness does not erase what happened or create a relationship, it can serve as an empowering tool to increase well-being.

4. Accept that an apology may never come: What do you need to move on? If you only rely on words or actions from another, you remove your ability to manage your emotions and your future. Boundaries, assertiveness and engaging in self-care are more tools to assist in moving forward.

What other tools do you use to put action into Statement #9?

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

The 4 ways to put action into Statement #9 is to practice what Karen has shared. I so agree that in order to heal from the past, we must work through it. That is how we learn to let go. Just letting go is not the answer – it is healing that provides the ability to let go.

Be gentle with yourself: Back in 1988 when I first started practicing the WFS 13 Statements, I must say Statement #9 became my favorite. It helped me learn how to forgive myself for what I could not change and build confidence in my decision-making which reflects Maya Angelou’s wise words. I became separated in 1990 and the guilt of my past choices was overwhelming. The more I lived in guilt, regret and fear of what the future held, the more I understood that I was victimizing myself. My ex had moved on and I was stuck. While Statement #9 was and is my favorite, it took a few years to work through and heal from the past.

Talk about it: I wonder how many of us have hid our feelings, pretending everything is okay. That’s a huge burden, a trigger for me and a wall so tall that healing feels almost impossible. I love that WFS provides a safe place to share, learn and grow. If I felt I would be judged or made to feel inadequate when sharing, I would have lost the ability to heal and TRUST not only others but myself.

Embrace Forgiveness: Forgiveness of self and others I feel is the path to healing. I learned a lot about forgiveness over the years. The two things that helped me a lot is that forgiveness does not mean reconciliation. It can lead to that but it is not guaranteed or even perhaps healthy to maintain a relationship. Forgiveness means that the hurt or harm caused by another can no longer have power over you and the second thing is that you may have to forgive yourself and another person more than once! That’s quite common because those feelings from the past tend to come back to visit every now and then.

Forgiveness has helped me learn to make peace with my past. If regret or guilt comes to visit, I do not unpack those bags. When the old messages and hurt from the past starts to take center stage, I have to remind myself that those people involved usually aren’t even in my life or around anymore. Forgiveness is what you do for yourself, not for other people. When you forgive, it doesn’t mean that you approve what’s happened. Rather, it means you’re giving yourself permission to move on with your New Life.

Boundaries: Nancy Cross once asked the question that when we are living in the past, feeling extreme hurt and pain, “Who packed your bags?” I think of that when I start feeling anxious, guilty or regretful. She shared that when the baggage became too heavy, she looked for a cart to carry it and that cart was her addiction. Her old baggage was packed by voices from the past, i.e., parents, other family members, friends, co-workers, teachers, ex-spouse, her own voice echoing her lack of self-confidence.

Each of us has a choice to continue carrying that luggage or to repack it as we see fit to lighten our daily load. We can unpack all the “shoulds”, the “can’ts” and the “I wish I would haves.” We can toss out the guilt and shame we carried for so many years. WE have a choice. Now when those hurtful thoughts from the past arise, I tell myself these two things: I cannot change those painful parts of my life and I also have the choice of recalling the positive memories, images and joy from the past. This is a choice as well.

While I may feel melancholy, I also realize the gifts, the blessings, the joy in having those memories to look back on. These are boundaries I’ve created on my thoughts of the past. I choose to search for the joy and release the pain. It no longer serves a purpose other than to victimize myself. No longer will I be victimized by the past. I am a new woman.

“The past does not define me!” Just those few words can release the past, heal and no longer victimize ourselves, Dee

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Monday Thoughts 2/15/2021

“Remember that failure is an event, not a person.”  ~~Zig Ziglar

“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”  ~~Harriet Beecher Stowe

And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive.  You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over.  But one thing is certain.  When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in.  That’s what this storm’s all about.”  ~~Haruki Murakami


#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.


Sobriety and the embracing of Statement #8 have been life-changing, and it drastically simplified what my view of life was all about.  This allowed a feeling of self-worth to increase and a continuing pattern of growth to take place.  The end result feels incredibly freeing, while moving through can feel incredibly difficult.

The difficulties faced in life can be our greatest teacher.  Like the old Rolling Stones song, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you find you get what you need” feels on point; in the past I ran away from life with alcohol, yet sobriety and recovery bring fullness and growth to life.

In our WFS Program booklet It states, “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.”  In the past, alcohol directed the days but today, 4C women everywhere get to set priorities and live for today while growing into tomorrow.

Here are 4 tips to embrace growth:

  1. Own your own power: Release the blame.  It is easy to blame others yet when we let go of that blame, we can create our own circumstance which empowers ourselves.  Reframing is a great tool to practice this.
  2. Embrace/look for change:  The old adage of “nothing stays the same” is true.  Look for even the smallest of ways to embrace change.  Early in sobriety, I challenged myself by going to unfamiliar grocery stores, switching routines, moving furniture in rooms etc.  It does not have to be monumental change.  Start small and work into bigger changes or challenges.
  3. Acknowledge your fears: What are you afraid of?  Dig deep and get to the core of a fear.  Maybe you do not like or are afraid of being alone.  Where did that originate?  What can you do today to overcome that fear?  Act, even the smallest of movements forward edge us into development and growth.
  4. Change YOU, not the world:  It can feel overwhelming/impossible to change events out of our control.  The day may be filled with rain or snow, which none of us have control over but you can use an umbrella and enjoy the patter of the raindrops or dress warmly and walk outside taking in the silence of newly fallen snow.  You can change your response to create a positive or rewarding experience.

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

I wasn’t sure where to start with my comments.  As I read each of Karen’s 4 points, I thought oh, wow, that’s fabulous and I relate to that and oh, yes, I relate to that as well.  So, after I calmed my thoughts, I decided to share how I learned to work on each point.

#1 – Power/Release Blame.  Many of you have heard me over the years share how I was the “Queen of Blame” and I wore that crown each and every day.  It took away all responsibility for my choices, my responses, my willingness to change.  I was fearful of change because that meant I had to actually “change!”  While in therapy and finding WFS, I realized that if I took responsibility for my role in choices I made, I was actually becoming empowered and confident, releasing the fear of what might happen if I retired my crown.  Retiring that crown brought about such positive changes that I began wearing a 4C crown more befitting of the woman that was always there but living in fear.  What I also realized is that there were people in my life that hurt me, harmed me and played into my insecurities.  What I also learned is that as long as I allowed that to continue, there was no room for emotional or spiritual growth and I was giving away my power to them.  No more!

#2 – Embrace Change.  At one time, I hated change.  I resisted it as though it would be the end of the world once I accepted it.  As one of the members of my WFS group says, it’s not the end of the world until it’s the end of the world.  So, when I start thinking in those terms, I quietly realize that, again, I have choices.  I can choose to live in the fear of change or embrace it as Karen says, no matter how small.  I have actually learned to like change as I see it as a challenge to uncovering the fear.  A quote from Janet Jacobsen defines it so well for me. – “Fear is a great motivator.  It is designed to be compelling so that we take survival action in the form of flight, fight or freeze…OR, take THRIVAL action by facing the fear, feeling it fully, learning from it, and, therefore, freeing up all that energy for creativity and fun!”

#3 – Fear. My greatest fear was rejection which kept me from accepting responsibility and letting people hurt me because if I became assertive, they might walk away.  It was easier to silently blame others for where I was and cope by drinking.  And in some ways, it was easier.  I had to acknowledge that because taking responsibility meant I had to learn to handle rejection, even perceived rejection, to make healthier choices.  How in the world would I even live a life of emotional and spiritual growth if alcohol was making the choices?  Yes, easier to run and hide but oh my goodness, the rewards from being sober, being in charge of my life, putting my priorities in order, was incredible.  It was worth the hard work and I finally learned to love myself enough that rejection was no longer my greatest fear.

#4 – Personal Change. This is the crux of the whole Statement, the WFS program.  Change, scary and exciting all at the same time.  I sometimes reflect on the sad, fearful woman I was when drinking and I put my arms around her and tell her she is loved, lovable and worth every ounce of work she put into becoming the 4C woman she is today.  I hope you are able to do the same.  Statement #8 provides a path to healing, growing and empowering change.

What is or was your greatest fear in changing?

What lessons have you learned or are learning in facing your fears?

What are your priorities that support your well-being, your emotional and spiritual growth?

Have you learned to trust yourself in knowing that your priorities are what you need them to be right now and not what others may be telling you?

Bonded in daily creating our priorities to live a life of emotional and spiritual growth, Dee


Click here to read Promising Young Woman

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Monday Thoughts 2/8/2021

“Love yourself first, because that’s who you will be spending the rest of your life with.”  ~~Unknown

“Love yourself enough to set boundaries.  Your time and energy are precious.  You get to choose how you use it.”  ~~Anna Taylor

 “The fact that someone else loves you doesn’t rescue you from the project of loving yourself.”  ~~Sahaj Kohli


#7 Love can change the course of my world.

Caring is all-important.


The need for love is basic human yearning and as children many turned to parents for that critical life affirmation.  But what happens when we only equate love with someone else?  We lose the ability to love ourselves and satisfy our own needs. This can open the door to unhealthy dependencies and addiction. However, sobriety and Statement #7 practiced daily can create a portal for self-love to blossom so that we may comfort, protect, and develop ourselves.

Self-love is not selfish; it is akin to the old adage of “putting on your own oxygen mask first.”  Being able to care about meeting our needs reinforces that we are worthwhile and validates ourselves.  Initially, this was difficult to understand and embrace.  It felt unfamiliar and uneasy, but as I practiced the WFS Statements, I began to look at myself differently and was able to love myself.

Discovering how to love ourselves on this journey of sobriety and recovery can take many forms, from an inward circle of health consciousness to outer boundary settings and everything in-between.  This week take some time to make yourself a priority and love yourself.  Look deep and reflect where you need more self-love and take at least one action towards it.  Share your insights in a journal, group or on the WFS Online Forum, after all, you’re worth it!

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

Self-care is a major part of the path to self-love.  For many women, the guilt of our past choices leads us to neglect ourselves and overcompensate by doing way too much for others, expecting it to fill our empty love tank.  When we decide to take the path of self-care, we either feel selfish or are told we are being selfish.  For me, it became about finding balance, setting healthy boundaries which eventually led to self-respect and self-love. This was difficult at first because it felt so uncomfortable giving positive attention to myself.

I remember doing so much for my family that I felt guilty for doing anything that could be seen as taking time away from them.  I also saw myself doing the same thing when I was working and volunteering.  I was the classic example of “rejection” fear if I started practicing self-care and doing less for others in the process.  Rejection meant I was unlovable and what that finally lead to was a very unhappy, self-loathing woman who coped by drinking.  When I eventually learned to say no (which is a complete sentence), I was quite surprised that the world didn’t stop turning or at least partially collapse!  While I still struggle with balancing self-care and giving care, I know there is a foundation of self-love.

That foundation has become a sort of alarm system that starts a warning beep when the batteries are getting low.  As Statement #7 says, Love can change the course of my world, caring is all important.  Be sure you are part of that love and caring.  If it’s a challenge to do so, ask yourself if you love yourself enough to practice self-care.  If the answer is no, find ways to begin filling your love tank with positive self-talk, be compassionate with yourself as you are with others, refute those self-esteem wreckers I call the inner critic.  One way to do that is to name the inner critic and when it starts sending old, untruthful messages from the past, politely ask them to be quiet and flick them off your shoulder!

What’s your inner critic’s name and are you ready to refute the negative, false messages it is whispering in your ear?  I sometimes give the positive messages my name and just say, “Dee, you are so correct! You may stay on my shoulder and continue whispering wonderful things about who I am TODAY.”   I am including a writing that helped me tremendously on this self-love, self-caring path of recovery.  It especially helped me when I was going through my separation and divorce.  I hope you find it uplifting as well.

 

 The Most Important Relationship

By Jo Coudert

You do not need to be loved… not at the cost of yourself.

The single most important relationship which is central is the relationship with self.

It is rewarding to find someone you like but essential to like yourself.

It is quickening to recognize that someone is a decent human being but it is indispensable to view yourself that way.

It is a delight to discover people who are worthy of respect, admiration and love, but it is vital to believe yourself worthy of respect, admiration and love.

For you cannot live in someone else.

Of all the people you will ever know in a lifetime, you are the only one that you will never lose or leave.

To the question of your life, you are the answer.

To the problem of your life, you are the solution.

 

Bonded in self-care, self-love and knowing that caring is all important, Dee

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Monday Thoughts 2/1/2021

“What if the journey to being, the infinite being who you truly are, is the greatest adventure you will ever go on?”  ~~Anonymous

“Just stick to the ordinary circumstances without labeling them ordinary.  Be open to them with no desire to change them in any way.  They are, in fact, already magical and miraculous.”  ~~Francis Lucille

“Happiness is a matter of one’s most ordinary and everyday mode of consciousness being busy and lively and unconcerned with self.”  ~~Iris Murdoch


#6 Life can be ordinary or it can be great.

Greatness is mine by a conscious effort.


One of the hallmarks of addiction is the feeling of lack or never enough. At its core, this can feel overwhelmingly like I am never enough” which is untrue. This often played out in the form of drama or the desire to rush through something in order to get somewhere else.  Rarely ever content with the moment, I sought out greater distraction or mounting drama.  Alcohol was the only tool in my toolbox during this time and it never fixed anything.  However, sobriety and recovery change everything.

In our WFS Program booklet it 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.”  Statement #6 practiced daily can open the door to being present.  Experiencing the moment as it is with each of the senses bonds us to that moment and lays a foundation for feelings of fulfillment.

Today, even in the midst of a global pandemic, there are tools available to engage us in the present moment.  First, begin with the knowledge that the present moment is always here.  It is always within reach and it looks and feels different for everyone.  Here are 10 ways to connect to the present moment from Karson McGinley which was posted on Chopra.com:

1. Listening Meditation

Start where you are. Take a moment while sitting at your desk, taking a break at work, or even eating in a restaurant while your tablemate is in the bathroom. Practice experiencing each sound as it happens, without trying to judge it, label it, or push it away. If you find yourself getting irritated by the sounds around you (e.g., “I’m trying to write an article here; why won’t that dog stop barking?”), try using the sounds as a tool for mindfulness. Bind your consciousness to the sounds as an indication of what is happening during the exact moment you are in. Over time, your attitude toward the sounds around you will change from annoyances to opportunities for awareness.

2. Keep a Journal

Start your days or end your nights with an investigation into your thoughts and feelings. You may numb out on alcohol, drugs, television, or other distractions and miss the opportunity to uncover what your feelings are trying to actually tell you. Feelings do not just go away if left unacknowledged, so take a few minutes several times a week to work through what’s going on with you on the inside. Bear witness to how the emotions shift as you shine the light of awareness on them; they always pass. Mindfulness in this way means giving your emotions the attention they deserve, the way you would to a friend or family member.

3. Eye Gazing

Gaze into the eyes of your baby, a pet, or a partner who’s willing. Depending on who you share this experience with, you may find silent eye contact to be awkward at first, but consider the benefits of social connection and truly being seen. Sustained eye contact has the ability to remind you that you are not alone, that you are one with other beings, and are deeper than your external appearances. Eye contact with a baby or small child strengthens the bond you share. Locking eyes with your cat or dog taps you in to the inherent presence of animals in any situation (inspiring, indeed). And if you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror, lingering on the reflection of your own eyes can help you to experience self-compassion and self-love.

4. Object Meditation

Yes, this is a meditation that is often done during a formal practice, but how many other ways can you merge with the object of your concentration? Try sitting at your kitchen table and look at—really look—at the food on your plate. Notice the colors, the textures, and the arrangement on the plate. The idea is to concentrate on something that perhaps you never fully contemplate—a flickering candle, a small piece of artwork, or even your own hands. You don’t have to stare at it for long, just a few seconds can bring you deeper into the moment you’re in.

5. Be One with Nature

As you walk your dog, stroll to the end of your driveway to pick up the paper, or go for a run in your neighborhood, practice fully embracing the nature around you. The myriad types of trees, the colors of the flowers, the smell of the ocean, and the twinkling of the stars are all invitations to be one with the now. Take a few extra minutes here and there to really receive the healing vibrations of the earth, and you’ll feel an inner settling that will bring you back to center.

6. Switch Up Your Routine

When you become complacent in your routines, it easy to go on autopilot. If you notice yourself arriving to work without remembrance of the commute, take a different route going home and become a tourist in your own city. Want to slow down your eating habits and really savor your food? Try eating with your non-dominant hand. Have you grown attached to the same spot in your group exercise or yoga class? Move to a different part of the room and get a fresh perspective. Simple acts that shake up your routine help you to experience the newness of your familiar activities, thereby calling for an increased sense of presence.

7. Drive in Silence

Speaking of your commute, try experiencing a quiet drive, practicing mouna, or sacred silence in the car. Give yourself time to decompress from your day or allow yourself to be silent so you can take in the sights around you. When approached this way, your daily commute from here to there becomes a mindfulness act in and of itself; no time is wasted or taken for granted. If you find yourself mindlessly listening to the radio as background noise, switch it up by alternating your audiobooks, podcasts, and playlists with silent drives to slow things down and be alone with yourself.

8. Unplug from Technology

It may seem obvious, but it’s worth mentioning that the simple act of disconnecting from your devices can bring you right back to where you are. Anytime you are working on a computer, using a smart phone, watching TV, or checking social media, your attention is pulled outward, away from the moment you are in. In fact, most people feel nervous or flat out incapable of being alone with “nothing to do.”

When was the last time you sat in the waiting room at the doctor’s office without distracting yourself with some form of entertainment? What about sitting in perfect awareness during an airplane flight or a train ride? (Re)train yourself to be tech-free, at the very least for the first and last hour of the day. Better yet, unplug for an entire day every week or month. It can act like a reboot to your hard drive.

9. Create Pauses

Consider the pace of your life and work pauses into your daily rhythm. Before responding to a question, for example, pause and then answer. Before taking another bite of your meal, pause and really taste what is in your mouth. Recognize when things trigger you to become reactive and challenge yourself to pause amidst the inner conflict. Perhaps it is when a certain person tells you what to do, when you feel judged, or when things feel rushed. Try taking a pause, a purposeful moment of recalibration, and check in with the moment you’re in. A single breath in a moment of pause can create just enough space to notice your tendencies and make more mindful choices.

10. Connect to Your Senses

It only takes a moment but connecting to your senses will help you make a memory more effectively than taking a picture. When you find yourself in a moment you want to remember (e.g., you child’s first steps, a beautiful hot air balloon floating through the sky, or your first in-person view of the Grand Canyon), take the time to drop in to each of your sensory experiences.

  • What is the smell?
  • What is the temperature?
  • What is the taste of the air?
  • What are the sounds?
  • What are the colors?
  • What are the details of what you see?

When you take the time to really honor your experiences by paying attention to the details, you create mental snapshots that can last a lifetime.

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

After I read Karen’s message last night, I woke up this morning and as I glanced out the window, I saw the most beautiful sunrise colors peeking through the blinds.  As I opened the blinds more fully, I just stared in awe and understood Karen’s message of being in the moment, to pause, really see what is right in front of me.  I love all of the tools she has shared with us.  Switching up your routine is a wonderful way to be aware.

There are times when I got lost (before GPS) and marveled at places that I would have never discovered if I was on a familiar route.  Years ago, I was in the audience of the Sally Jessy Raphael show with guest, John Bradshaw, counselor and author.  He asked the audience members to write a letter in their less dominant hand to someone who caused hurt and letting them know the depths of pain caused by it.  I wrote a letter to my bio father and it was amazing how using a less dominant hand made me pause as I focused to write the words in my heart onto paper.  It was cathartic.

A few years ago, I attended a Mindfulness workshop at the WFS conference.  In fact, I attended it two years in a row!  We selected a partner and we did an exercise with our eyes closed and then the eye gazing exercise.  It was intense and brought up a lot of feelings that quite surprised me and opened up a thoughtful conversation with my partner.

I have driven to PA/NJ many years to visit family and the in-person WFS conference and tried driving in silence.  It was quite challenging and I sometimes found myself in tears from the memories of living in those states, missing my family and friends, knowing I’d be seeing them soon.  Another time, I cried because my daughter had been released from the hospital and although she was fine staying at my home and my granddaughter was close by, I hated leaving her.  I organized the most detailed plans to provide support during my absence.  Then I from sadness to anger because my ex lived only 45 minutes away and was quite uncooperative.  I realized that silence was definitely a means to opening up my feelings.  Not always comfortable but quite authentic.

The last tool in Karen’s amazing toolbox is connecting to your senses.  I am going to practice this as I feel it will create an intentional way of being in the moment.  What a powerful impact on a memory I am wanting to hold onto but never had a way such as this to utilize.

Karen’s last comment is the perfect way to end this message – When you take the time to really honor your experiences by paying attention to the details, you create mental snapshots that can last a lifetime.

Bonded through practicing these tools in creating greatness by a conscious effort, Dee