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Monday Thoughts 11/29/2021

“Be the reason someone feels welcome, seen, heard, valued, loved and supported.”  ~~Unknown

“There can be a deep loneliness that comes from not having a family that has your back.  I hope you can find supportive people who show up for you.”  ~~Laura Mohai

“You’re not selfish for wanting the same energy and love you give.”  ~~Unknown

#10 All love given returns.

I am learning to know that I am loved.


With Thanksgiving now over, the holidays have officially started. Lights, music, and traditions are just some of the routines being set into motion, yet this time of year can also bring about conflicting emotions.  For some, feelings of lack or loneliness can deepen the divide, moving us away from love instead of towards it.

Sobriety and Statement #10 in action can instill feelings of balance through even small acts of love.  Women for Sobriety was created out of Jean Kirkpatrick’s love, and we are bonded together yet today through that love.  What a gift! Just imagine the countless lives who have been changed by Jean’s dedication and love.  If you are reading this, you are a recipient of that love.

Tomorrow is Giving Tuesday.  Please consider how you can share your love.  Pay it forward with an end of year financial contribution or start a recurring monthly donation.  You can donate in other ways too; your time and talents can be a gift of love through volunteering.  JoAnne, our new Volunteer Coordinator would LOVE to get you involved with one of the teams that need help right now. Another way to share your love is to start a WFS meeting in your area, either face to face or online. With action into Statement #10 you can ensure all love given returns!

To donate, click here.

To volunteer, email JoAnne at [email protected]org

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

Learning to know that I am loved by me is my first thought whenever I read this Statement.  It’s mostly because I didn’t have self-love so actually believing I was loved by others was a huge stretch.  It was much easier for me to give love yet believing it would be returned took a bit of acceptance.  When I was told I was loved, I silently rejected it.  I realize now that I was loved, I just didn’t love myself enough or at all to actually believe others loved me.

It always touches my heart when I think of Jean taking her struggles and creating a program that changed my life and thousands of others.  I was so unsure of how to become the woman who was lovable, confident and worthy.  It was the empowering Statements that literally changed my whole approach to recovery.    Whenever I felt stuck, one of the Statements would pop into my mind, changing the way I thought, behaved and responded to situations and triggers – and there were plenty of them.  Can you imagine turning your life around in a positive direction when you’re feeling broken, unlovable and unworthy?  Well, the New Life program did just that for me.  Of course, it took practice not to fall back to my usual immediate, unhealthy choice.  After a while, it became easier to make better choices as practicing the Statements became a habit that brought me that confidence, self-love and worthiness.  I was beginning to have actions that supported my self-acceptance.

Over the years I have heard of broken family relationships and how the holidays only seem to highlight that emptiness.  It is the loving, caring support of those who understand these feelings that help build a strong foundation of love.  Sometimes we have to create the family we needed and didn’t get.  Sometimes we reconcile and work toward healing if possible.  Either way, we can give and receive love in a nourishing way that supports our well-being, our personal growth.  We deserve it!

I love that Karen spoke about Giving Tuesday and other ways to give back to this life changing program.  It’s a big thank you to the staff, volunteers and always to Jean Kirkpatrick, our founder.  I am a true believer in giving back for a gift that is immeasurable.  It takes a lot of competent women to keep this organization moving forward.   So, whether it’s a financial donation or a volunteer opportunity, I hope you will consider how you can give back.

Bonded in giving and receiving love for the 4C woman you are, Dee


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Monday Thoughts 11/22/2021

“Forgiveness is the greatest gift you can give yourself.”  ~~Maya Angelou

“We can make ourselves miserable or we can make ourselves strong.  The amount of effort is the same.”  ~~Pema Chödrön

“In retrospect dear one, you will understand your entire life was but choices, made one after the other in the name of love, or preserving that love.  Nothing will be wrong or broken, just choices made either way, in the name of your heart.”  ~~Sarah Blondin


#9 The past is gone forever.

No longer am I victimized by the past.

I am a new woman.


How would you feel about your past if you released your judgments about it? The past is gone forever, yet the stories we attach to it can prolong emotional imbalance. What if every choice you have made, every decision or action taken was about you arriving in this very moment?  What would be different? Would you be more understanding and feel greater compassion towards yourself and others?  By reframing and redefining the past, Statement #9 helped me become a new 4C woman.

As women navigating sobriety and recovery, oftentimes we can place unrealistic expectations on ourselves.  This can in turn create a closed circle of emotional turmoil without an end in sight.  Another unhealthy practice is applying today’s knowledge/understanding to yesterday’s actions/experiences.  Neither way is an effective or helpful way to move through or manage the past.  Yet the practice of Statement #9 fosters healing and forgiveness.

Some past experiences were traumatic and needed additional resources.  Therapy and WFS connections, along with actively practicing the Statements enabled me to move through the most painful of moments.  Choosing to let go of self-punishment and guilt became easier when I redefined my inner language and reframed past situations.  Self-forgiveness became a reality, and I actually felt like a new woman.  The past no longer defines me, I define it!

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

Forgiveness – it took me a while to realize that the first person I had to forgive was myself.  I had the key to unlock the door and remove the punishment I was imposing on myself by keeping the painful part of my past alive and well in the present.  What Karen shared about releasing judgment from our behavior, decisions and actions in the past is what Statement #9 is all about.  Keeping guilt and shame at the forefront for what we cannot change hinders emotional growth and the ability to learn and change.  It holds us hostage rather than freeing us to learn from our mistakes and work on healing.  I used to fantasize about all the “what ifs” and how perfect my life could have been if I had not made all the awful choices I did.  I am grateful for Statement #9 which empowered me to learn to live in the present and no longer victimize myself.

Most of all, I understood that there is no perfect life.  No matter if I had made consistent wise choices, perfection is an impossible, even harmful goal.  I learned that I was bemoaning a past I could never change while those I held resentment/hurt/pain/regrets toward were most likely not even thinking of me with the same intensity that I was experiencing, if at all.  So much time was being wasted in focusing on the past, reliving events that only hurt me.  That is how I was victimizing myself, going over my mistakes again and again with such harsh judgment and for what?  This does not mean we ignore or downplay hurt we’ve caused.  If someone approaches me with a hurt from the past, I acknowledge it just as I would want the person I am seeking forgiveness for the hurt they caused me, to do.  I then ask them what do they need from me today to heal our relationship.  This makes them part of the solution, a way to work through hurt and be in the present.

All of this living in the painful past led me to realize that I had to find a healthier focus, a way to show by my actions, that I was learning from my past, that forgiveness began with me and then others when I felt strong enough.  Giving myself that time and understanding that forgiving may not always be a one-time decision.  I learned that when I went through my divorce.  I found myself having to forgive quite often and that’s okay because it’s what I needed to heal.

I encourage any woman who has experienced trauma to seek additional support as Karen suggested.  There is no reason for any woman to take this journey alone.  Whether it is a WFS group, online support or a professional counselor.  This is the time to build a strong support system.

When you begin considering forgiving others, please keep these points in mind:

Forgiveness is not the same as reconciliation and this is important.  Forgiveness releases you from your personal pain.  If that person is someone who is toxic, there is no need to remain in a relationship.

Forgiveness is not forgetting.  Focusing on “forgetting” a wrong might lead to denying or suppressing feelings about it which is not the same as forgiveness.  Forgiveness has taken place when you can remember the wrong that was done without feeling resentment or a desire to pursue revenge.    Denying my feelings only led me to drink to escape or numb.

Forgiveness is not condoning or excusing.  Forgiveness provides a healthy choice to protect yourself, including choosing not to reconcile.

One very positive effect from practicing Statement #9 is that as I healed, I allowed the beautiful moments from my past to come forward.  The past wasn’t all pain and my choice to be so one sided was a belief that I was flawed so badly that I didn’t deserve the happiness of those joyful memories.  Wrong!

Bonded in releasing the past, making a powerful choice to forgive yourself and when it’s right for you to forgive others and from that, building authentic, healthy relationships, including the most important one, the one you have with yourself, Dee


Hear more about Statement #9!

 

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Monday Thoughts 11/15/2021

“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

“Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still.”  ~~Chinese Proverb

“Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.”  ~~Bernice Johnson Reagon


#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.


My relationship with growth ebbs and flows but thanks in part to Statement #8, I do feel a sense of greater balance. In one instance, I feel excited for the shiny newness, or a different way of living, much like in early sobriety.  I felt so alive and open to possibility, ready to take on the world while also feeling full of wonder.

Then there are times that I can flip into frustration, knowing that there is an avenue in front of me which I can either embrace and reap the rewards or reject, (even partially) holding myself back from growth. Additionally, if I compare myself to what others are or are not doing, I end up with growing resentments instead of emotional or spiritual growth.  Finding that balance can be key to keeping healthy momentum.

When I realize that everything is in a constant state of growth or change, I am able to redirect action back towards Statement #8. Our founder, Jean Kirkpatrick, PhD, wrote in our WFS Reflections for Growth booklet, “From sunrise to sunset, the day experiences many changes.  In fact, the changes are constant, although most of us are not continually aware of them – only the drastic difference between dawn, midday, twilight and night.  This is the way it is with each of us. We are in constant change but we don’t notice it until after the fact. Today I will be aware of the changes in myself.” This week, notice day to day changes while looking for areas where you can embrace growth.

Hugzzz
Karen


Hi 4C Women,

I love the quotes and recall how I remained stuck in stagnation, not believing my life would ever change.  Statement #8 helped me realize that it was “me” who had to change if I wanted to experience emotional and spiritual growth. The beauty of WFS is that spiritual growth is a personal path.  No one is insisting that there is only one way to achieve it.  For me, it became my faith in both myself that I could do this and in my personal religious faith.  I learned that emotional growth was accepting where I was at and having the willingness to explore those feelings without numbing, running or ignoring.  That is how I changed from believing my life was stuck to learning coping skills to deal with the negative times of life and become aware of the positive ones.  It’s amazing how I began to recognize that there were positive moments once I opened my heart and mind to it.

I also realized how exhausting it was to deny myself the possibility of a more balanced life.  I had to open the door and walk through it with hope.  I am so grateful that I took that risk.  I think of how powerful words are and if I were to move forward, I had to keep the promise I made to myself.  It had to be real because I wanted my sober life to be different.  I was tired of lying to myself, breaking promises to myself and standing still so to speak.  I wanted to create a balanced life, not run to a substance that promised me nothing but pain and regret.  While I still experience pain and, yes, regrets, I work through them.  I can’t change my decisions made with the best of intentions, can’t undo mistakes but I do have the courage to learn from them and gratefully have a support team of women who will listen without judgment.  Not having that judgment is such a safe feeling.  Gaining insight helps me in my emotional growth.  Emotional and spiritual growth is not a sprint but a journey of willingness to make those inside changes.  Those changes stick.

Do you know what your priorities are?  Do they match how you spend your time?  How can you add more of what you love into your day, week, month, year?  We all have responsibilities in our daily life which may include work, volunteering, household tasks (laundry, bills, grocery shopping, cleaning), family, etc.  It’s creating balance and finding ways of putting more of what we love, enjoy, feel enthusiastic about into our daily lives and that definitely includes the priority of practicing self-care along with all of it.

A couple of years ago, I wrote about authentic priority.  I’d like to share it again as the past couple of years have certainly had an impact on our lives in general, yet alone knowing what we need today to create a balanced life.
Authentic priority is:
Consciously chosen
Gives your life purpose, direction and meaning
Gives you enthusiasm, energy and motivation
Frees you from the forces of circumstance, expectation and habit, giving you a way to stay on the course you’ve chosen
Is realistic and attainable as an unrealistic priority will lead to frustration and disappointment

I hope these points on authentic priorities guide you to uncover and create your personal priorities in your emotional and spiritual growth journey.

Most importantly, remember this is your personal path and comparing to where others are at can be self-defeating.  There is courage in accepting yourself for where you are right now, this moment.  You hold the key to unlock the door to emotional and spiritual growth.  Yes, we learn and can be inspired from others yet it is our responsibility to listen to our needs, consider input from those who have compassion for our journey and slowly start practicing those well-deserved, empowering inside changes that lead to a balanced New Life.

Bonded in creating our personal emotional and spiritual growth, Dee


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GET INVOLVED

Check out these important volunteer opportunities available now!

 

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New Meeting – Souderton, PA (Sundays)

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

Souderton, PA

Sundays at 8:00 am

Start Date: 11/7/2021

Please email [email protected] with questions and to obtain the exact location of the meeting.

Please join us in extending our gratitude to the volunteer Certified Facilitator 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 Facilitator and contact [email protected] for assistance.

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Monday Thoughts 11/8/2021

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.”  ~~A.A. Milne

“Silent gratitude isn’t very much to anyone.”  ~~Gertrude Stein

“You cannot do a kindness too soon because you never know how soon it will be too late.”  ~~Ralph Waldo Emerson

#7 Love can change the course of my world.

Caring is all-important


Before New Life, caring, or gratitude was misplaced. I had cared for and idolized alcohol, looking to it for comfort, escape and self-soothing. Yet it had the opposite effect, sending me barreling into distress, isolation, and emotional anguish. It was an exhausting way to live life.

Sobriety and Statement #7 in action redirect caring and create a bridge for love to grow and expand. Gratitude can be a launching pad for love to change course. Here is an excerpt from author Zoe Shaw from her book A Year of Self Care: 

“Make a collage of all the things for which you are grateful. You can find pictures in a magazine or on the internet, even better, take them yourself. Take a picture of your bedroom, your children, a vase of flowers, whatever exists in your environment for which you are grateful. This is like a vision board, except these things already exist in your life. Putting your gratitude into a visual form solidifies the reality of all there is to be thankful for. The more you visualize it, the easier it will be to notice more opportunities for gratefulness.”

Gratitude promotes caring and caring creates connection, which consists of love. Feeling connected eliminates the desire for escape and provides the path for self-soothing. We can validate and balance our lives through the practice of gratitude with each day being a living example of Statement #7. Love does change the course of my world!

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

Karen’s description of caring and gratitude before WFS really hit home.  I wanted to bury my pain, escape from the results of my actions, letting alcohol make my decisions.  I didn’t think I was lovable so believing that love could change the course of my world felt near impossible to me.  Sobriety and the willingness to believe Statement #7 began to change how I defined myself and became my first awareness of gratitude for my New Life.

I love the idea of creating a collage and seeing the things that already exist that I am grateful for.  It makes me realize that I have an abundant source of gratefulness and love.  Being an extremely sentimental person, I tend to hold on to things that bring loving feelings to my heart.  Whether on zoom or f2f, it would be fun to share an item or two that you feel exemplifies caring and gratitude in your life.

Here is one thing I’ve learned – the job of loving myself is just that – my responsibility.  For so long I held onto the hope that if I was lovable enough, I would no longer turn to alcohol to fill my empty love tank.   I became such a people pleaser that I truly lost any idea of who I was.  Slowly, I started to acknowledge my loving qualities thanks to this Statement and the entire WFS program.  I learned to love myself where I was at and to care about my well-being.  Jean Kirkpatrick always said this journey is not a competition, that it can be self-defeating to compare ourselves with where others are.  I was so grateful for that powerful message. It is crucial to love and care for who you are at this moment.  Nurture yourself, be your own best friend, embrace yourself with positive self-talk, reminding yourself that you are worth the hard work, that there will be ups and downs.  Most importantly, the downs are not barriers but life-lessons to learn, grow and heal.

Question to ponder and perhaps share:  Was there a time in your life when love changed the course of your world?

Bonded in gratitude for loving and caring for ourselves and others, Dee


More On Statement #7

 

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Volunteers Needed for Peer Alternatives for Addiction 2 (PAL2) Study

A research team at the Alcohol Research Group, which conducted the groundbreaking Peer Alternatives for Addiction (PAL) Study, has received federal funding for a larger and more detailed follow-up study.  We hope you will participate.  The original PAL study examined the effectiveness of several mutual-help groups, including LifeRing, SMART Recovery, Women for Sobriety, and 12-step groups, and found evidence that all groups are equally effective as recovery supports.  The investigators are now seeking volunteers to participate in their new study, which looks more closely at how these mutual-help groups work and which group works best for whom.  Results of this important study will help addiction treatment providers to make informed referrals to mutual-help groups.  They will also help people seeking peer support to make the best choices possible for their recovery pathways.

Study participants must have attended or led a Women For Sobriety meeting within the past 30 days.  Also, study participants must be 18 or older and be a U.S. resident.  Those surveyed for the original PAL study in 2015 may not participate in the current study.  Participants will receive Amazon gift certificates totaling up to $115. The study uses strict data security procedures to protect participant confidentiality.

To learn more about the study and take the online survey, please visit www.pal2study.org.

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Monday Thoughts 11/1/2021

“A garden requires patient labor and attention. Plants do not grow merely to satisfy ambitions or to fulfill good intentions. They thrive because someone expended effort on them.”  ~~Liberty Hyde Bailey

“The results you achieve will be in direct proportion to the effort you apply.”  ~~Denis Waitley

“But I have found that in the simple act of living with hope, and in the daily effort to have a positive impact in the world, the days I do have are made all the more meaningful and precious. And for that I am grateful.”  ~~Elizabeth Edwards

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

Greatness is mine by a conscious effort.


Many of the efforts before my New Life were directed towards escaping life. This fueled my alcohol use and it quickly, and easily spiraled out of control. Reflecting back, I was merely existing, numb to the outside world. Sobriety changed that and with practice of Statement #6, I am investing in life today.

Some days it can be easier to put in effort, while others more difficult. Many of us are venturing out more since the pandemic started and it feels different. We have been hidden away, unable to connect and now new routines are becoming more familiar. It has taken great effort to reach this point, so I like to remind myself of how far we have come.

Paying attention to where our attention is and making effort to be present is daily practice of Statement #6. Just like with a garden of floral beauty, if I want to have an attractive garden of balance, contentment and love, I need to apply the effort. In our WFS Program booklet it states, “Sobriety is a rewarding experience for those who invest in the moments of each day.”  Remind yourself every day that you are worth investing in!

Hugzzz
Karen


Hi 4C Women,

I love the analogy Karen shared of creating a garden of balance.  It is that balance that keeps us moving forward and creating awareness of the ability we possess to focus on the positive moments we experience.  My neighbor is keenly aware of her environment and whenever there is a magnificent sunset, she will ring my doorbell and ask me to come outside and view it.  The first time she apologized for bothering me and I assured her I was grateful for sharing the experience of the most magnificent sunset that day.  Now, she feels very comfortable ringing the doorbell when one of those sunsets appears on the horizon.  A simple gesture, a beautiful memory.  I would have missed it if not for my thoughtful neighbor.

I am also realizing that empowerment and respectful assertiveness makes my life greater.  I no longer have to hide my fear of speaking my voice by hiding it in drinking.  In fact, drinking either gave me false courage or going deeper into hiding my voice which never created real inside change, leaving me feel empty.  How many times can one apologize for their words, their behavior?  This is where the inside change makes life great.  If my past behavior or words are brought to my attention, I acknowledge it.  But that’s where it stops and a new way of communicating begins.  I ask what I can do to heal the hurt.  This creates awareness in the person as to how we can and need to work together, not continually punishing me for something I cannot change.  Through the years, I have worked diligently on expressing myself as a sober woman, not in anger but with thoughtfulness in hopes of being heard.  This is another time when pausing before responding helps me.  It’s not always easy or done as well as I hoped yet it’s a great improvement over the way I spoke when drinking.  This is the beauty of the WFS program.  While I may falter in my words or approach, I haven’t given up or gone back to hiding in an unhealthy way.

Life certainly is not ordinary, especially the past couple of years.  I believe this has helped me focus on moments that I ignored in the past.  I find myself stopping to listen to the birds chirping in my back yard and I feel a smile cross my face.  I listen more intently when people share their feelings, in awe that they trust me that much to do so.  Before WFS, I didn’t listen well at all.  I was focused on preparing my comments before a person even finished a sentence.   I am grateful for the great gift of learning through WFS.

I also believe that as I work on fine tuning my awareness of the ordinary that makes life great, I am filled with hope.  That hope gives me courage – courage to change, to heal, live in peace, even be bold at times.  How will you practice this new awareness?  What changes are you willing to make to have the hope of improved relationships, including the most important one – the one you have with yourself?

I realize, as Karen has shared about how far we have all come, especially in the past couple of years with the impact of isolation and now finding ourselves venturing out.  It is so important to remind ourselves of how hard we’ve worked and how willing we are to create this ordinary life into a fulfilling one of hope and inner change.  I encourage you to remind yourself of how extraordinary an accomplishment this is and how you are worthy and deserving to keep trying.  It is what makes you courageous,

Bonded in courage to make the ordinary great, Dee