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Monday Thoughts 1.30.23

teddy bear challenge

“The most beautiful things in life are not things. They’re people and places and memories and pictures. They’re feelings and moments and smiles and laughter.”

Unknown

“Sometimes you get what you want. Other times, you get a lesson in patience, empathy, compassion, faith, perseverance, resilience, humility, trust, meaning, awareness, resistance, purpose, clarity, grief, beauty, and life. Either way, you win.”

Brianna West

“Take a little time to be amazed by something you won’t enjoy unless you consciously choose to focus on it. See the things you can’t see when you’re rushing. Hear the things you can’t hear when you’re stressing. Get so caught up in your senses that everything else seems to stop for a moment—because things don’t actually stop. So, we have to be the ones who do it.”

Lori Deschene


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

Greatness is mine by a conscious effort.


For years, one of the places on my bucket list to experience has been Greece. This past fall, thanks to WFS and the 13 Statements I stood in awe of the very first Olympic platform where past athletes had been crowned. As I took in that moment, the awareness of my own gold medal made the circle complete; sobriety and recovery were shining brightly. Statement #6 was interwoven into every moment of that special excursion.

As a part of the New Attitudes with Level 4, action into Statement #6 provides growth and expands gratefulness. 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 endless tomorrows.” Alcohol removed the ability to fully experience life but embracing moments became a new habit through sobriety.

Learning how to slow down and live life consciously takes investment and time. Some days are easier than others, but actively reminding myself helps me to slow down and savor the ordinary as well as those special moments. Even if I am washing the same bowl for the hundredth time, I have a new opportunity to experience the warmth of the water, the light popping of the soapy bubbles, or the weight of the beautiful vessel. This week, find ways to incorporate slowing down and savoring, making a cup of tea or coffee, taking a quiet bath, or the scent of the winter breeze.

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

I love the quotes Karen shared and her awareness of the gold medal she earned in recovery. It is so insightful to realize the rewards of hard work in traveling on this empowering journey. It can be difficult to visualize life as being great when starting to work on our recovery. Emotionally, there are stops and starts yet with perseverance, there is that light at the end of the tunnel. It can be dim yet it is there and will grow as we practice the WFS New Life program. I feel that Statement #6 is all about life lessons in personal growth. I learned patience when the outcome I hoped for didn’t come about. I learned gratefulness for the wonderful things that did happen.

It all goes back to the 2nd quote, “Sometimes you get what you want. Other times, you get a lesson in patience, empathy, compassion, faith, perseverance, resilience, humility, trust, meaning, awareness, resistance, purpose, clarity, grief, beauty, and life. Either way, you win.” ~~Brianna West

Just the idea of learning all those emotional strengths is amazing to me. I appreciate the ordinary when life feels chaotic, I appreciate the extraordinary moments because of the awareness I’ve gained. We get to choose how we define and experience greatness.  It can be those people that brought love and light to our lives and created fond, precious memories. As we practice this Statement, we can be the creators of such joy in our hearts and be that light for others. Most of all, it is so crucial to not judge our lives by others. Our experiences of greatness in the ordinary or greatness in the moments of joy are ours alone to define as we feel it.

I am constantly inspired by the women I have met in WFS. Against extreme challenges and roadblocks, there is that desire to keep going, to find the greatness in the ordinary, the joy in awareness.  Through the years, I have had times when I was really down and because of WFS, I acknowledged those difficult feelings rather than numb or pretend they didn’t exist. It goes the same for acknowledging joyful feelings. To have that awareness embraces the whole you, the you that is working hard and open to positive change.

May you have awareness of the ordinary being great, personal growth taking place, and life lessons being learned. Bonded, Dee


Announcing the launch of our annual Teddy Bear Challenge fundraiser!!! This is one of our largest events to raise funds to sustain the programs and services offered by Women for Sobriety, Inc.  You can help in two ways:

MAKE A DONATION! You can make your donation online here: womenforsobriety.org/donatetbc or download this form to mail in your donation.

ADOPT A BEAR! The Teddy Bear Challenge needs volunteers or groups to stuff the bears, raise awareness in the WFS community, or organize/perform a supporting activity for the event.

This is your opportunity to be creative and embrace Statement 10: “All love given returns.”

Contact [email protected] if you are interested.

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Monday Thoughts 1.23.23

women for sobriety decorative image enthusiasm

“The way you tell your story to yourself matters.”
Amy Cuddy

“Learn to differentiate between the sound of your intuition guiding you and your traumas misleading you.”
Unknown

“Being optimistic is like a muscle that gets stronger with use…You have to change the way you think in order to change the way you feel.”
Robin Roberts


#5 I am what I think.
I am a capable, competent, caring, compassionate woman.


Sobriety and Statement #5 encourages identifying, adjusting and exercising thoughts. Our founder, Jean Kirkpatrick, PhD realized the importance of managing thoughts as she developed the Women for Sobriety program. In an article Jean wrote about WFS she states, “The philosophy of the Women for Sobriety ‘New Life’ Program is that the image precedes our actions. Whatever we think, we eventually act out. If our thoughts are always negative, our actions will also be negative. If our thoughts are positive, so are our actions. One writer once said a garden of weeds cannot produce a beautiful flower. This is also true of our minds. If we have upsetting thoughts, we cannot have a serene life. We have the power of changing our way of thinking. We live in the atmosphere created by our mind and our thoughts.”

For me, Statement #5 is the glue that bridges all of the other Statements together. It is from this core that a sturdy foundation is cemented. Once I began to grasp my thinking, managing them became an important and healthy new habit. A helpful tool that I use daily is asking myself the question, “Will this line of thinking take me deeper into sobriety and recovery or further away?” Immediately I am able to assess thoughts and make changes as necessary. Oftentimes this one question helps identify anxiety and offers deeper insight.

This week, equip yourself with Statement #5 and challenge any long held belief system.  What limiting story are you telling yourself? When you identify one, switch your story to one of empowerment. For example, with a family member who is a professional artist, for years I felt not good enough creatively. Hiding in the shadows and trying to copy her style left me with deep feelings of inadequacy. Once able to identify this, I reframed my story from one of being less than to one of discovery. Today I have many creative outlets, from acrylics to writing and many things in-between and am happily content.
What will you uncover and discover this week?

Hugzzz
Karen


Hi 4C Women,

The 2nd quote Karen shared “Learn to differentiate between the sound of your intuition guiding you and your traumas misleading you” immediately spoke to me as I realized years ago that I didn’t trust my instincts at all. I made decisions based on my traumas as I truly believed they were my identity. I was damaged, unworthy and a product of my painful choices. I am beyond grateful for Jean creating this Statement as it became a goal for me to change my definition of me! I started learning from my past rather than beating myself up and making healthier choices based on the ever-changing way I saw myself. I started using positive affirmations and even today, I am learning new ones.

In the past few years, I started telling myself I can do this rather than I can’t when feeling slightly overwhelmed or an old untrue message tried to whisper in my ear how I wasn’t smart or creative enough. Just changing can’t to can helped me feel more confident and definitely becoming more 4C. It is absolutely incredible how powerful the impact of positive, affirming words can change the image of ourselves and fuel our empowered actions to follow. I also gave myself time out, a brief retreat when needed, without criticizing myself as lazy. I began to listen to my intuitions as to what my mind and body needed without judgment. Beautiful feelings that I mattered and it was my responsibility to make sure I took care of myself.

Have you ever asked yourself, “Who do I think I am?” The authentic answer to that question is a guide to what work still needs to be done and what work has been done. We are ever evolving and must be willing to seek our truth so we can change our belief in ourselves. This transformation is a process and a rewarding one. In my lifetime, I never thought I would get to the place where I cared more about how I viewed myself than what others thought of me.
Here are 4 questions I have asked over the years around Statement 5. I have 4 response sheets to these questions and since they are dated, I am so fascinated by different answers and yet some similar answers. It is such a mix and I am so glad to look back and acknowledge where I’ve grown and what personal growth stills needs work. It is that authentic look that keeps me focused and growing in my 4Cness.

1.    Capable of:
2.    Competent in:
3.    Caring about:
4.    Compassionate about:

Bonded in creating the most positive, powerful definition of ourselves by practicing Statement 5 with the strong belief in change and personal growth, Dee


WFS Online: Join (if you haven’t already) and visit often!!

The new WFS Online platform is a space to access virtual meetings, make the daily pledge, and give/receive support 24/7!

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Women for Sobriety, Inc. selects new Executive Director

Release date: Immediate
Contact: Women for Sobriety, Inc, [email protected]

 

With significant consideration given to the skills, experiences and expertise needed to successfully guide Women for Sobriety in its next phase of growth, the Board of Directors has selected Dr. Michelle Shaivitz to serve as the new Executive Director. Michelle’s former position as Vice President of the United Way, and twenty year history of nonprofit leadership, make her an exceptional individual for the role of Executive Director.

She holds an Ed.D. in Educational and Organizational Leadership from Wilmington University, and in 2022 won the Distinguished Alumni Award. This coveted award is bestowed to those who lead with
compassion and positively impact their fields. Michelle has also worked with those in recovery for many years raising funds and awareness for non-profit organizations. She is an active member of her sober community for over a decade and is passionate about helping others recover.

Michelle lives in Maryland, is a wife, mother of two remarkable young ladies, grammy to one, and a dog mom of two senior rescue pups. She is a lover of all animals, good food, great coffee, traveling, and all things recovery!

We are confident that under her leadership, the organization’s success and impact in achieving its mission and vision will continue to flourish.

Please join us in welcoming Michelle as Executive Director by making a donation and showing
your support for Women for Sobriety’s new leadership!

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Call for Presentations: WFS Virtual Conference 2023

EnJOY! the Journey
WFS Virtual Conference
June 9-11, 2023

Call for Workshop Proposals

Do you have a particular interest or expertise that you can share with the WFS
community during our 2023 Annual Conference?

WFS is seeking workshop presenters for our exciting virtual event. The conference
theme of “EnJOY! The Journey” opens up a very wide range of potential workshop
topics related to recovery and emotional and spiritual growth.

Please consider giving back to WFS by designing and presenting a workshop. We have
so many talented and knowledgeable women in our community that the possibilities are
endless for topic and content.

If you are interested in submitting a proposal please email:

[email protected] for more information.

Proposals are due February 1, 2023.

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Monday Thoughts 1.16.23

“If you avoid conflict to keep the peace you start a war within yourself.”
Cheryl Richardson

“Your fear is 100% dependent on you for its survival.”
Steve Maraboli

“When trauma has shaped you, try not to confuse who you had to become with who you can be.”
Thema Bryant Davis


#4 Problems bother me only to the degree I permit.
I now better understand my problems.
I do not permit problems to overwhelm me.


The WFS New Life Program fosters healing and growth, especially for women who have experienced emotional or physical trauma. Sobriety starts the process while Statement #4 in daily action can aid in balance and understanding. This creates sturdy building blocks for a stable and empowering recovery.

Fear often drove behaviors before my New Life while alcohol solved nothing except keep active addiction in place. As a survivor of domestic abuse, fear was woven into every fiber of my being and dictated how I responded to life. Thankfully through sobriety and the WFS Program, especially Statement #4, I have been able to heal many of those internal wounds. Of course, those painful reminders and triggers can occur at any time yet today I have new coping skills and connections that ease me through the difficulty.

As part of Level 2 Recovery, Statement #4 requires an honest examination or review of our problems. It is not possible to maneuver through challenges unless we can identify or name them. This is a great starting point and once a problem is out in the open, solutions become visible. It is important to know that patience and perseverance go hand in hand with Statement #4. Things may be difficult right now but any overwhelming feelings are not permanent and with WFS, you are never alone. You are a competent woman!

Hugzzz
Karen


Hi 4C Women,

I used this Statement quite often when I was working and had a meeting with a challenging situation and/or person. I remember standing outside the office door, taking a deep breath, and repeating Statement #4 as I opened the door. It made such a huge difference as I focused on listening and finding a solution. My whole attitude changed which changed my approach. I began to understand that my voice mattered and I needed to let go of always giving in, feeling my opinions didn’t matter and began to use Statement #4 as a source of conflict resolution and negotiation. That is when I started actively listening.

Growing up, I was fearful of conflict, and always compliant. The day I showed anger, my mom and sister thought it was hysterical. That was a very strong message to keep my mouth closed, my feelings were silly and rejection was always waiting. Not anymore. I choose my words carefully as the goal is to solve a problem. I also learned there is a huge difference between a problem and a concern that needs resolving and that may take a few tries. There is a lot to be gained in resolution as scary as it might be to address it. No matter what the outcome, it matters that YOU matter.

Holding onto the fears of rejection, being unheard and past pains will continue to hurt the one person who has control of your life and that’s you. So rather than being overwhelmed, consider the freedom you can experience in addressing conflict, letting go of what I call everyday problems that for me, encompassed hours of unnecessary time that could be used for working at resolving real, life-changing concerns.

I found some ground rules for working through conflict that I’d like to share:
No one will run away
No one will shame or blame
No one will use force, manipulation, or violence (Karen so courageously shared that experience with us in this message.  It is never okay!)
Listen respectfully
Try with all our hearts to understand each other
Speak our truths
Work together in the name of harmony and unity until we reach clarity or find a solution everyone can live with.

And lastly, this Statement clearly shows how important boundaries are in resolving problems/conflicts/concerns. Boundaries need to be ones you can follow through on.  They are your self-protection and guide to knowing your voice, your feelings are of utmost importance and value.

Bonded in speaking our truth, creating realistic boundaries, and working on healing conflicts as best we can, Dee


Planning for the WFS 2023 virtual conference is underway! Please consider sharing your talents by joining the conference planning team to make this an incredible experience for all attendees and an excellent representation of WFS! Email [email protected]org to express your interest and you will be added to the communication list for meeting notifications.

We look forward to you joining us.

Please note- WFS requires attendance at a volunteer orientation within 3 months of joining a team for new volunteers.
The next one is February 7th at 8:30 pm Eastern: Link to register https://womenforsobriety.app.neoncrm.com/event.jsp?event=127&

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Monday Thoughts 1.9.23

women for sobriety decorative image women holding hands

“The grass is always greener where you water it.”

Unknown

“Happiness is a journey, not a destination.”

Buddha

“We can’t fully appreciate a picturesque sunset if we’re wishing it would never rain again. We can’t fully enjoy a moment of true connection if we’re wishing we’d never feel alone again. We can’t fully savor a relaxing day if we’re wishing we’d never be busy again. The key to happiness is to focus less on making moments last and more on making moments count.”

Lori Deschene


#3 Happiness is a habit I am developing.

Happiness is created, not waited for.


Unaware of how to process feelings and emotions, happiness was something I was constantly chasing before sobriety and recovery. Jumping from one expectation of happiness to another left me feeling constantly letdown. I would envision a fairy tale outlook of an event, person, or situation. When reality hit, feelings of disappointment were overwhelming. Turning to alcohol for relief, easily took me away from happiness and contentment. It was exactly the opposite and life soon felt unfair, but it wasn’t.

Sobriety and Statement #3 in action offer a different and fulfilling path toward happiness. 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.” Jean learned that her happiness needed to come from within. Through her actions, Statement #3 came to life and so did her happiness.

The WFS Statements offer a new way of thinking, and Statement #3 in action can cement contentment and joy. Identifying my emotions and adjusting expectations were just a couple of ways to practice this Statement, and since we live in an ever-changing world, I remain open to learning and discovering the depths of joy. Sometimes feelings of happiness can ebb and flow, while at other times can feel more consistent. This week, acknowledge your joys and plan for future happiness. What can you do today to enlist contentment tomorrow?

Hugzzz
Karen


Hi 4C Women,

A new way of thinking is the key to practicing the WFS program. Each Statement is a guide to reflecting on our thoughts, behavior, and responses and creating awareness. Statement #3 in particular gave me such insight into how I viewed happiness. I neglected to acknowledge happy moments as though they never happened. Jean was wise in having Statement #2 (Negative thoughts) proceed Statement #3 (developing happiness). Once I understood how my negative thinking was hurting me, I began to realize that my thinking someone, anyone, everyone was responsible for my happiness, was not only a burden and hurtful to them, it was so unrealistic to think I had no role in creating it for myself.

At first, I thought this Statement meant I was to be happy all of the time which is just as unrealistic as expecting only others to make me happy. I understood as Jean expressed many times, that it is the awareness of those joyful, peaceful, contented moments that matter. I’ve previously shared that I focused too much on the painful past, not acknowledging there were joyful memories as well. Now I can reflect on the joyful past while learning how to create those happy, positive moments in the present. I also realize that people can add to my joy. I truly acknowledge and appreciate that. A burden has been lifted in knowing that I don’t have to drink to create false happiness. This Statement has given me authentic joy and beautiful moments to reflect on.

One of the things I love about the WFS program is not having to pretend. I will never forget when I was having a difficult day and someone told me to “smile” as that was what I always did. I hid my true feelings. It was as though my feelings were invalid and that led to going home and silencing my hurt. How wonderful that I can experience and express happiness along with the times I feel differently. Most importantly, I find that I am confident that my feelings will be handled with loving compassion from myself and other 4C sisters. What a gift. Now that makes me feel happy!

When was the last time you experienced authentic happiness, joy, or contentment?

In your self-care plans for 2023, have you included planning fun adventures and also being open to spontaneous ones?

Name 3 people that add to your happiness

Name 3 places that make you happy

Name 5 things that bring you joy, a smile to your face

Bonded in creating happiness and being aware of those treasured moments, Dee


Interested in volunteering with WFS? There are many ways to put your talents to use! Email [email protected]

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Monday Thoughts 1.2.23

“It is difficult to see your thoughts when you are in your thoughts.”

Yong Kang Chan

 “What starts out as an intrusive thought can turn into an overwhelming concept if we ‘feed’ it with more negative thinking.”

Eddie Capparucci

 “You’re worried about what-ifs. Well, what if you stopped worrying?”

Shannon Celebi


#2 Negative thoughts destroy only myself.

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


Sobriety and Statement #2 in practice can create a more balanced state of mind as well as a change in outlook. As a part of WFS Level 2 recovery, this Statement benefits our well-being and can aid in preventing relapse. In our WFS Program booklet, it states, “Our overcoming is in exact proportion to our becoming. Negative thoughts can destroy us in many ways. An important aspect of negative thoughts for us is that such thoughts often precede using or drinking. A state of ‘what’s the use?’ or ‘who cares?’ can initiate an attempt to escape from reality.” Awareness of negative thinking can be used as a tool for red flags in recovery.

Practicing Statement #2 brought a clarity to sobriety. Unaware of thoughts for so long while under the influence, this Statement enabled understanding and the ability to stop a negative thought pattern from developing. This was especially helpful when a trigger turned into a craving. Feeling like I was holding a STOP sign, I learned that I could challenge a negative thought instead of affirming it. It took quite a bit of patience at the beginning of my recovery journey yet has evolved into one of the most effective tools in my toolbox.

It is helpful to learn that the human mind is hard-wired to pay attention to negativity. For early humans, it was a life-or-death situation to pay attention to negative or dangerous threats. Anyone who paid more attention to danger or bad things around them actually survived longer. While the threat of a hungry bear chasing after us is almost nonexistent (yet not zero), we have a type of leftover negative bias which can make us feel that we are a negative person. We are not negative, but our thoughts can be. Statement #2 helps us reduce negativity.

Here are 4 ways to reduce negativity:

1. Awareness: It begins with awareness, for you cannot manage what you are not aware of. The more aware of your thoughts, the better you can manage them.

2. Acknowledge: Your thoughts are an early warning system and are always looking out for you. Observe the thought, without judgment.

3. Question: Does this thought take me closer to or further away from my sobriety (goals)? Is this line of thinking realistic? Does this thought or concern belong to me?

4. Learn and adjust: Thoughts are simply thoughts, not reality. Learning to manage thoughts takes practice. Imagine yourself as your own Postmaster. You deliver important things, like packages, bills, or letters but you also carry a heavy load of junk mail. Sort through the important things and let go of the junk. Adjust what to keep and shred what is no longer needed. Repeat daily.

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

I have an index card in my purse with STOP on one side and a list of positive qualities on the other. Whenever I start negatively thinking, questioning my decisions, or berating myself, I get that card out as a reminder that I need to stop, pause for a while and remember that I have worked hard to see myself in a more positive light, that I have new coping tools to work through challenges, that a mistake cannot take that away and to practice self-compassion in those moments.

Being prepared with the tools Karen provided can make that STOP sign as big or bigger than the negative thought/s. I especially appreciate tool #3. I was so used to negative thinking that I never thought about how it would impact my sobriety goal. It was natural to speak negatively about myself, to think the world was a negative place that had nothing to do with my thoughts or behavior. It was what I deserved. Until I started to understand that my negative thoughts about myself were not based on reality but on old messages programmed into an automatic response of judging and hurting my already low self-esteem even more.  It took time to acknowledge my role in some situations and take responsibility for that. However, even in doing that, I learned to curtail judgment and look to these challenges as life lessons.

As Karen said, thoughts are simply thoughts. I can sit with them with the hope of learning their meaning. Are they guideposts to taking a different direction, staying put, or speaking my voice with confidence to myself or someone else? Sometimes it takes a bit longer to recognize what’s important and what’s not and that’s okay. All of this is a process. This is where self-compassion grows. The goal is always to “reduce” negativity and build your self-worth and self-love to be the soft hug, and comfort you need in a difficult moment.

Bonded in reducing negativity, building your coping skills, and practicing self-compassion in the process, Dee