Posted on Leave a comment

Monday Thoughts 4/12/2021

“Happiness is a direction, not a place.”  ~~Sydney J Harris

“It is not about how much we have but how much we enjoy that makes happiness.”  ~~Charles Spurgeon

“Learn to value yourself, which means, fight for your happiness.”  ~~Ayn Rand


#3 Happiness is a habit I am developing.

Happiness is created not waited for.


Last week, I reached a milestone that initially felt impossible; 14 years of sobriety.  This is a testament to the many changes that I continue to make, both large and small and everything in between.  It is through the WFS New Life Program that connections are made and cherished, continuing clarity grows and most importantly, adaptability takes center stage.  Statement #3 is critical to creating, adapting and maintaining sobriety and recovery.

In our WFS Program booklet, our founder, Jean Kirkpatrick, Ph. D, writes, “For many years, I was convinced that some people were just naturally happy and others were not.  And most of the time, I was not happy, I was too deep into feeling sorry for myself, waiting for the time when everything in my life would miraculously change, and then instant happiness would follow.  Happiness never came to me until I learned that the secret of making it for myself, of finding an inner glow that somehow made all other things right.” This is an empowering shift that helps create the happiness we desire.

Instant happiness cannot be made without awareness or effort.  Much like making instant oatmeal or mashed potatoes, there is a process that takes place beforehand.  Seeds must be planted, grown and gathered.  Ingredients are then collected and blended.  Packaging, delivery and stocking take place before you purchase and then finally you can add hot water to create a seemingly instant meal.  Happiness falls into the same process.  Just like Jean, it is up to each individual to create their own recipe, live the process and cultivate their happiness.  What will you create today?

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C women,

First, let me wish Karen congratulations on 14 years of sobriety.  Her writings continue to inspire me and I am grateful for her sharing this beautiful gift with all of us.

Creating happiness this past year has been difficult for many of us and yet perhaps needed more than ever before to counteract our isolation, loneliness and loss that comes in diverse forms.  I have learned over the years to create my own happiness so it was a bit surprising that I didn’t have more resiliency in keeping happiness alive and well during the pandemic.  I often think of Jean’s words that we wait for the big moments of life – graduations, weddings, reunions – to define our happiness.  Those are the high points of life.  We must create the others (happiness) out of the threads of everyday ordinary living.  Perhaps this is where the struggle has been this past year – the major change in our everyday ordinary living.

There seems to be nothing ordinary about it in reflection on how our everyday lives use to be.  I have heard the words boring, lonely and frustrating over and over again.  I’ve said those words myself.  What helps me the most is that we are going through this together.  In the past, I felt as though expressing my sadness and pretending I was okay, even faking happiness, was what was expected of me.  Now we are a collective group of women, experiencing similar feelings and the support has been absolutely amazing.  It is a powerful gift to be standing together, helping those who need it most and bringing to light one of the most empowering gifts of WFS – HOPE.

After each meeting, phone call, text or email, I am filled with the hope of the bond we share, being understood and accepted in my lowest moments, acknowledged in my triumphs and overcoming adversity.  In fact, those moments of comfort lead to joyful feelings that I might not have had without the women in WFS.

This hope I have reminds me to keep searching for new ways of creating happiness including something old in perhaps a new way.   I love dancing but my back and knees don’t exactly cooperate yet it doesn’t mean I have to stop trying to do some form of dancing that brings me great joy.

I have also learned that forgiveness of myself and others leaves a lot more room in my head for creative ideas as well as energy better spent for discovering my personal happiness tools.

Years ago, Oprah had a page in her magazine called, “Something to Think About.”  As you can guess, I still have several of those pages.  Here’s one on Happiness that I’d like to share:

All of us yearn for a life filled with joy.  In the quest for happiness, though, we often overlook the good that’s right in front of us.  Try to pause, even for a moment, and ponder the joy that already exists in your life.  You just might see it’s everywhere you look.  Find a quiet spot to sit and consider the following ideas.

  1. What gives you the greatest joy – and when was the last time you felt that joy?  Starting now, how can you incorporate what pleases you most into your daily life?
  2. Each day for a week, make a list of the things that bring you delight.  At the end of the week, hang the list on a mirror to remind you of all that’s positive in your life.
  3. How much joy you experience is connected to how open you are to receiving it.  Do you believe you are worthy of it?  How might the way you see yourself be robbing you of  happiness?
  4. Who in your life brings you the most contentment?  Are you depending more on your spouse, partner, friends, family to bring you satisfaction than you are on yourself?

The last question was the most challenging for me in the beginning of my sobriety.  It took a long time to start understanding that my total dependence on others to make me happy was a heavy burden I placed on them.  Now I see them as adding to my life and I am truly grateful for their love, compassion and acceptance of who I am.  That’s one of my greatest joys.

Bonded in developing our happiness tool box, Dee


Perks of Conference Registration

Perk: WFS would like as many women as possible to attend the Conference, so this virtual conference is SUPER affordable! There are three rates for registration — access to the Conference sessions/activities are the same, no matter what rate you choose:  $75 – $50 – $25. (The $75 Benefactress Rate helps fund scholarships and $25 of it is tax-deductible for US residents.)

Perk: If you’re one of the first 400 women to register, you’ll receive a clear, plastic WFS “I’m Possible” Toolkit full of recovery essentials. Not only will the WFS Program Booklet be in the kit, but so will a special Limited Edition WFS Statement Card Set, a travel-sized journal, & a worry stone with the I’m Possible! logo on it. You’ll also be ready for your next trip, as this plastic tote meets TSA guidelines for travel-sized toiletries. Win-win-win!

Perk: Conference Registration will allow women to utilize the REPLAY feature. The keynote speakers will be recorded, as will most breakout sessions. The recordings will be available for viewing during the two weeks following conference 24/7 (through June 27).  You’ll be able to view the sessions you wished you had time to go to, at your convenience in that two week timeframe. With 18 Breakout Sessions to choose from, the Replay feature is a wonderful way to attend more of the interesting topics that will be presented over the course of the conference weekend.

Perk:  Icebreaker activities! This year, WFS volunteers have put together a fantastic pre-conference week of activities. Registered conference attendees will be able to meet other WFS sisters in a casual setting before the live formal sessions begin. The Icebreakers are ‘meet & greets’ with fun topics. The schedule for the icebreakers is available on the conference page – just click on “Pre-Conference Activities Begin June 6” in the Agenda section.

Register Now

Posted on Leave a comment

What I’ve Learned from Eight Months of (WE)covery

It has been 8 months since WFS started its diversity, equity, and inclusion (D.E.I.) group and wow have I learned a lot! I decided to start the group after some serious reflection following my How Intersectional is Your Feminism? blog post. I felt a real sense of urgency that day and I knew I didn’t want to lose that momentum. I have learned in my recovery that the best way to keep myself accountable is to get others involved, so I decided to start a group (#12).

Through much thought, consideration, and discussion, I decided to start a hybrid group that would be part support group, part organizational development group, with WFS Vice President Veena Iyer. We would introduce D.E.I.-related topics and women would have a chance to discuss them and reflect on how they affect us personally for most of the meeting (#8). Then in the last 10-15 minutes, we would “zoom out” and see how we could apply the topic to WFS as a whole, using the information to help us reach – and speak to the needs of – a more diverse group of women (#12). After our first meeting or two, we even had a name: (WE)covery: Exploring Equity.

I have learned that I have a lot to unlearn.

We have explored some pretty difficult topics, such as how being a “white ally” can be tricky and why there is such a disconnect about how people of color and white folks think about race. We have learned about white fragility and the pervasive roots of white supremacy in our culture. We’ve talked about how the drug war has unfairly targeted people of color and created a new basis for legal discrimination and how racial bias creates health disparities as early as birth. It seems that for every topic we cover, five more potential topics emerge!

I have learned that it is about me.

It has been comfortable – well, maybe not always comfortable – to learn about the historic foundations and systems of oppression in our culture. I could look objectively at these systems which predated me and were certainly outside of my immediate control, reassuring myself that I was raised not to see color and to treat everyone equally. I was, as author Layla Saad says, “one of the good ones.” How silly that I thought that I could grow up in a society with these pervasive systems of oppression and escape without any personal biases! But having developed implicit bias doesn’t make me “bad,” it makes me human.

(WE)covery has challenged me to go deeper, to really dig in and see how these things have affected my experience of the world. It has challenged me to step out of complacency and into action, identifying ways to do whatever I can to fight oppression, however small (#13). In going deeper and learning more, I’ve also discovered that while the disadvantages are always greater for the marginalized groups, being in dominant groups has downfalls, too. By embracing the fierce individualism that comes with whiteness, we also go through a dehumanization process and lose connection to our communities. My mom really (accidentally) hit the nail on the proverbial head when I was a kid and asked her about our heritage. Her response: “We’re just good ol’ American mutts, Adrienne.”

I have learned that this work is messy.

Really messy! Boy, have we had some blowouts, and I have definitely encountered some serious learning curve. This is such a challenging topic for so many, and the drop-in format brings an extra layer of complexity that we didn’t anticipate well. As with life, we have had to make course corrections, posting more introductory content in our (WE)covery forum and creating a separate Zoom link so people couldn’t accidentally stumble into the middle of a charged conversation. We’ve also had some really good process-related topics such as calling in vs calling out and how to have better political conversations which have helped us developed our discussion skills.

And of course, I am beyond grateful for our co-facilitator, Veena, who helps me debrief and supports me when I feel challenged by the AFGOs (Another Fabulous Growth Opportunity).

I have learned that it goes deeper than outreach.

Of course, the simplest answer to the question of how to make our program more diverse is to increase outreach, and to do more targeted outreach to underrepresented populations and include things like a variety of skin tones and personality types on marketing materials. But we’re gaining insight into the fact that it needs to go deeper than that. The phrase “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (D.E.I.) lends a lot of information here. Improving outreach can get you to diversity, which is really about getting a wide range of people showing up. That’s the first step. Then comes inclusion. When these diverse folks show up, they are greeted, welcomed, and included in the group. A great second step. And the deeper goal is the third step, equity, which is make sure that everyone is feeling fully seen, celebrated, and their needs are being addressed as fully as possible.

Now, our core program – the 13 Acceptance Statements, Levels of Recovery, and other WFS tools – appears that it should work equally well for everyone, and the consensus in the appears to be that this is true. And we have started to identify some way that our services and literature might be enhanced to address the needs of a more diverse group of women more fully. For example, it has come up a few times that addiction is even more heavily stigmatized in a lot of Asian cultures than it is in the US, especially for women. It is a complete cultural taboo to even mention it, much less seek support from friends and family. So in parts of our literature that talk about building a support network, we may want to simply acknowledge that this may be more difficult in such cultures and give additional strategies for those women. So the idea is not to change the core program itself, but to enhance the tools offered to meet a wider set of needs.

What the WFS organization is doing.

The WFS Board of Directors has made a strong commitment to ensuring that the New Life Program is accessible to and celebratory of all women. As most of you know, we have been engaged in developing a strategic plan since last summer, and the finalized plan is scheduled to be shared later this month. The board took careful steps to ensure that D.E.I. objectives are woven throughout the plan. They also put their money where their mouth is, dedicating a portion of this year’s budget to providing much-requested training to our volunteer leaders and group facilitators on this topic. The live, interactive Zoom training will be the first of its kind for WFS and will serve as a pilot for future empowerment opportunities.

Honoring our legacy.

I like to think that if Jean Kirkpatrick were still around today, she would be embracing this work to ensure that her life-saving New Life Program remains relevant, helpful, and empowering to all women in recovery from problematic substance use. I believe that the internal work I do to challenge my subconscious biases is a part of my spiritual growth in recovery (Statement 8). And I know that I am so proud to work for an organization that shows such a commitment to operate within its core values – to reach all women with competence and compassion!

Much Love,
Adrienne Miller
President/CEO
Women for Sobriety, Inc.

 

You are invite to join us!

(WE)covery: Exploring Equity
1st & 3rd Sunday of each month, 12:00-1:30 pm US/Eastern
2nd & 4th Thursdays, 3:00-4:30 pm US/Eastern
Must be logged in to WFS Online to join – registration is always free!

Posted on Leave a comment

Monday Thoughts 4/5/2021

“Feelings or emotions are the universal language and are to be honored.  They are the authentic expression of who you are at your deepest place.”  ~~Judith Wright

“You don’t have to be a positive person all the time.  It’s perfectly okay to feel sad, angry, annoyed, frustrated, scared and anxious.  Having feelings doesn’t make you a negative person.  It makes you human.”  ~~Lori Deschene

“I need to see my own beauty and to continue to be reminded that I am enough, that I am worthy of love without effort, that I am beautiful, that the texture of my hair and that the shape of my curves, the size of my lips, the color of my skin, and the feelings that I have are all worthy and okay.”  ~~Tracee Ellis Ross


#2 Negative thoughts destroy only myself.

My first conscious sober act is to reduce negativity in my life.


Have you ever watched a toddler express themselves?  One moment they can jump at the chance to try something new or be absolutely wide open in varying degrees of delight or distress.  Kids are swept up in the moment; living in the present without regard to how they are perceived.  Little ones have not learned how to emotionally regulate themselves or disconnect from their feelings. Somewhere along the lines of learning and growing, we can learn short cuts to experiencing this natural process.

Addiction is an attempt to escape this progress.  Instead of experiencing and moving through thoughts or emotions, alcohol or drugs in effect, put a barrier in front of this development. This can lead to an excess of negativity. For instance, instead of feelings of wonder or curiosity, we can react with an overabundance of worry or dread to something different.  In our WFS Program booklet it states “Negative thoughts can cripple our spirit and paralyze thinking.  They often come from feelings of inadequacy.  We invite bitterness into our lives when we think negatively of ourselves.”  Here is where Statement #2 in action aides us in creating and then maintaining balance.

Challenging negative thoughts begins with awareness of them.  In sobriety, our mind is clearer and we have access to our thought process.  Here are 4 tips in managing negative thoughts:

  1. Examine your thoughts: Slow down and examine what you are thinking.  It is natural to feel overwhelmed by thoughts when you first start to acknowledge them.
  2. Identify patterns:  Write down your thoughts.  Are some of your thoughts repetitious?  Look for patterns.
  3. Challenge usefulness of negative thoughts: If your thoughts are telling you that you are not worthy, challenge that thought by asking how that thought helps you.
  4. Add affirmations:  Counter negative thoughts by affirming something positive about yourself.  If you are unable to do _______and your thoughts say you are useless, counter it by affirming that you have the ability to learn, practice and then achieve your goal.

 

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

I am a firm believer that words are powerful.  They can hurt and they can heal.  I think back to a meeting I had with my guidance counselor as a high school junior.  She looked straight at me and told me I was not college material.  What I heard and internalized is that I was stupid.  I took the commercial course in my senior year and because of my strength in shorthand and typing, I got one of the highest scores in my application to work in Washington, D.C.  Even though I was proud of my accomplishments, I truly never felt completely confident and thought any minute they would see I was a fraud as I saw myself.

Sadly, negative thoughts permeated my life.   When I started working at the YWCA in NJ as a secretary, I never dreamed I would eventually be promoted to the Director of the Women’s Center Dept.  I was still waiting for them to realize they made a mistake, waiting for the director to call me in to her office as the counselor did in high school and tell me I wasn’t leadership material.  In fact, after one year I got my first negative review being told I was a maintenance person, nothing new established.

I remember going to my first WFS conference that year and feeling so defeated.  Well, that conference was a life changer.  It finally sunk in that I had the choice to change my thinking or continue devaluing myself.  By the end of the next year, I created 17 new programs and brought WFS to the YW.  Initially, Statement #2 asked us to “remove” negativity from our lives.

I am so appreciative of the new wording in asking us to “reduce” negativity.  For me, reducing seemed natural and in line with WFS philosophy that I would not deny my feelings but work through them.  The second quote Karen shared with us speaks to my heart because feelings are just that and what I have always loved about WFS is the ability to acknowledge and express our feelings authentically.  There were days when I was always looking for the other shoe to drop because I felt I didn’t deserve anything good in my life and the consequence would be a negative outcome which I truly believed I deserved.  There was no being in the moment, enjoying a positive experience.  In reflection, I realize that I missed a lot of wonderful moments due to my negative thoughts.

I finally began to bask in the positive moments.  What I realized is that I still had strong negative thoughts about me, my worthiness and that was when I understood the process of reducing negative thoughts.  If I were to learn how to love myself, those negative thoughts about my being had to be exchanged with positive, life affirming words.  Karen’s questions 3 and 4 are exactly what is needed to start the process of self-love from negative, self-devaluing words to uplifting, empowering words.  And while negative thoughts destroy our well-being, it can also harm relationships, friendships and our ability to set boundaries.  Loving ourselves, promoting our well-being can heal ourselves and our relationships.

What empowering words are you using to define yourself?

What is in your tool box to reduce the negative thoughts either about yourself or life in general?

Are you ready for a negative reduction and an increased positive buildup?

Bonded in making positive thoughts the habit you are developing, Dee


June 11-13, 2021

The WFS Virtual Conference 2021 will feature three Keynote Speakers this year, as well as 18 different presentations over the course of the weekend! Six WFS Zoom meetings are scheduled! Saturday is not only filled with presentations, but also the WFS Auction will be held as a virtual silent auction! Later Saturday evening we’ll Say YES! to WFS with a paddle raise fundraiser as well as some fun lead by the WFS online facilitators. This year there will be Ice Breaker activities the week before Conference as well. Hope to see you there!

Agenda (not including Icebreakers) – all times US/Eastern:

Friday, June 11
7:30-9:30 pm Opening Ceremony & Keynote Speaker Rebecca Ray
9:15-10:15 pm WFS meeting

Saturday, June 12
8:30-9:30 am WFS meeting
10:00-11:30 am Breakout Sessions I –choose from 1 of 4 presentations!
12-1 pm Keynote Speaker Mary Beth O’Connor
1:30-3 pm Breakout Sessions II Choose from 1 of 4 presentations!
3:30-4:30 pm WFS meeting
5:00-6:00 pm WFS Auction!
6:00-7:30 pm Celebrate the Possibilities! Fun-Fundraising-Entertainment
10-11:00 pm WFS meeting

Sunday, June 13
8:30-9:30 am WFS meeting
10-11:30 am Breakout Sessions III –choose 1 of 5 presentations!
12-1 pm Keynote Speaker Ester Nicholson
1:30-3 pm Breakout Sessions IV — choose 1 of 5 presentations!
4:00-5:00 pm Closing Ceremony
5:30-6:30 pm WFS meeting

Register Now