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Monday Thoughts 7/19/2021

“No is a complete sentence.” ~~Anne Lamont

“I’m allowed to do what’s best for me even if it upsets people.” ~~Unknown

‘I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.” ~~Maya Angelou


#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 and Statement #4 provides a guide or map for growth and understanding. Before sobriety, I lived on the edge and created problems or drama to feel connected to life. In actuality, I was taking myself further away from living fully. Problems felt overwhelming no matter the size. Yet for some others, problems did not exist. Practicing Statement #4 brings feelings of ease and balance.

Learning new skillsets or tools like boundaries can have lasting impact in our New Life. It felt liberating to say no when I wanted to say no, and I began to unlearn some habits that did not reflect who I am at my core. Soon I was seeing problems from a different viewpoint and learning new coping skills, especially from the women in our WFS Online Forum and our face-to-face groups. Every day is a new chance to solve something.

While some problems are within our control, others are not. Yet we can always control our reaction to them like the above quote from Dr. Angelou. We need not be reduced but instead reinforce our beliefs in ourselves and abilities. We grow into ourselves and our New Life, after all, we are capable and competent, caring, and compassionate women!

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

I was thinking of last Monday’s Thoughts and how Karen changed the wording to be in harmony with the situation at hand. I started thinking that my change for Statement #4, in accordance with my situation last week, might be, “Family members bother me only to the degree I permit.” This lesson is one I seem to continue learning over and over again and that is, I understand my problems and have no control over other people’s actions or decisions. A difficult lesson, indeed, especially when it comes to family and the emotional history attached. The reason I find it difficult is that many times family problems do impact me. I have to live with them, tolerate them and hope their problem-solving skills get better with the infinite wisdom that I bestow upon them. I hope you are appreciating my bit of sarcasm.

I eventually learned the difference between constant worrying where nothing got solved because there wasn’t a real issue and a valid concern that needed problem solving skills and decision making. I came across a post from WFS online, dated 2009, but not who authored it. If anyone recognizes it, please let me know. Lots of good information and it reinforced how the New Life program is still as invaluable and relatable since its beginning in 1975. There are comments in the post that I’d like to share:

“In order to move out of powerlessness, you must act to understand what your problems are – the nature of them and where they come from. This gives us the power to deal with them – face them instead of being “overwhelmed.” Being overwhelmed by problems is a habit too and a self-defeating one at that. I can choose to change my beliefs if old beliefs are harming me and hindering my development.”

She described that being overwhelmed involved beliefs such as:

1. Other people’s needs come above my own

2. I will be seen as lazy and selfish if I care for myself

3. I can ignore my needs for the sake of others

4. I don’t deserve better

5. I can’t cope

6. Things have to be done in a certain way

Do you connect with any of these beliefs? Can you add to the list?

I love this comment: “None of the statements are things that can sort of be checked off a list as “done” – they are ways of existing or being – practices that help us daily to build and maintain a New Life. Today I know that I can adjust and examine unrealistic beliefs about myself that harm or hinder my progress. I have a responsibility to take care of my whole self.”

The focus of her post was on the action part of not permitting problems to overwhelm us. I had not thought of my beliefs as hindering me yet in reflection, I can say that was my way of thinking many years ago. I allowed myself to be overwhelmed because I had no boundaries on what was plain old worry and a real concern that needed my attention. I’m hoping you will give some thought to how you handle problems, can make the distinction between a worry and a real concern, if your beliefs are holding you back from taking care of your whole self and trusting others to offer input when you’re stuck even though the final decision is yours.

Bonded in understanding our problems, learning to reduce feeling overwhelmed and embracing the support and insight we gain from others, Dee


 

Finding a Path Forward: A Town Hall for CF’s

Saturday, July 24th, 2021
1:00-2:30 pm US/Eastern
(12:00 pm Central, 11:00 am Mountain, 10:00 am Pacific)

For WFS Certified Facilitators Only
READ MORE

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Monday Thoughts 7/12/2021

“Investing in yourself is the best investment you will ever make.  It will not only improve your life, it will improve the lives of all those around you.”  ~~Robin Sharma

“Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?”  ~~Unknown

“A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.”  ~~Amelia Earhart


 #3 Happiness is a habit I am developing.

Happiness is created, not waited for.


Recently, feelings of agitation have crept their way into some conversations.  Upon discussion and internal investigation, applying Statement #3 was the solution.  Holding certain expectations had led to an increase in frustration and since none of it was under my control, I could only change my response.  Wanting to be happy instead of being right allowed me to let go of that frustration and reclaim feelings of ease and balance.

Before New Life it was easy to blame other people or circumstances for my unhappiness.  Yet this removed my ability to move through whatever the situation was and brought about feelings of emptiness.   By shifting focus and releasing blame, developing healthier habits began to take center stage.  Much of it came about because of something simple, like kindness.

There are some life situations or occasions where happiness may feel difficult or impossible, much like when moving through deep grief or sudden sorrow.  At these times it is helpful to adjust Statement #3 to fit your needs.  Instead of “Happiness is a habit I am developing, I might focus on “Self-care is a habit I am developing or “Compassion is a habit.”  By tailoring this Statement to fit our needs, we are acknowledging and validating our feelings while taking important actions toward balance.

Hugzzz

Karen


Good Morning 4C Women,

I love the interchanging of words that Karen suggested for Statement #3.  Goodness knows I certainly needed them this past week.  I had to laugh when my first change in wording was, “Happiness is my family actually following through on my words of wisdom!”  Of course, reality sets in and I have to accept that this thinking might be better suited for Statement #4 (problems) or #13 (responsible for myself), so back to happiness as I choose to create it.

What I so love about WFS is its flexibility in practicing the action part of the statements.  While the first part is the belief – believing I am able and willing to develop the habit of happiness; the action part is for me to create and not wait on others or even situations to achieve those “moments” of happiness.

Jean Kirkpatrick described her awakening to knowing it was up to her to create happiness when she realized every sentence about happiness in her early recovery started with, “I’ll be happy if…”  Just as I jokingly and honestly said “I’ll be happy when…”  Think about how you approach creating happiness.  Do you find yourself consistently saying “if” and “when” or have you been able to embrace the action part of Statement #3 to I “am” creating, not waiting for?  While Jean understood that material things we saved or planned for could bring joy, a sense of achievement, I know that Jean wanted each of us to dig deeper, to go beyond the material belongings.  One of the greatest joys, achievements, for me was becoming sober, experiencing authentic happiness.  No pretending, just feeling it.

Do you recall the first time in sobriety that you found yourself giggling, laughing hard and loud, experiencing pure joyfulness and even questioning how this could be happening sober?  That’s the beginning and as we keep moving forward, it’s amazing to discover it wasn’t a fluke, that we really felt genuine happiness.  It opens us up to discovering new activities, new adventures, possibly returning to former fun activities to find out if they still bring the joy we once had and creating healthy relationships because we are being open and true to our source of happiness – ourselves!  In all the changes WFS offers to us, one of the greatest rewards is how we view ourselves.  I know with each passing day, month and year, I became happy with the woman I was becoming.  I learned the coping tools for when the negative thoughts came in – you remember Ed, my inner critic from last Monday’s message – well, without WFS, how would I have researched and discovered that I had the ability to name and tell my inner critic that he was not welcomed to lie about me anymore?  How could I search for my happiness without tips from WFS on how to start and continue on that path?

Friends absolutely add to my happiness, but they are not the sole source of it as it was in the past.  I was completely dependent on others to provide my happiness and that became quite a burden for them and a huge disappointment for me if they didn’t live up to my expectations of them.  I am so fortunate to be surrounded by supportive women in my life.  It truly adds to the happiness factor.  I also appreciate that when I am feeling sad, angry, frustrated, or overwhelmed, that it’s perfectly fine and healthy to acknowledge those feelings. In fact, expressing my feelings has helped me to understand myself a bit better as I work on the “why” of those feelings.  I do not ignore or run from them or use substances to numb and bury them. These feelings are not wrong or bad, words I do not ever use because WFS helped me realize that these feelings are an authentic reaction to life.

It’s also a huge gift knowing it’s safe to express and acknowledge ALL feelings and that in itself creates balance in my life.  It’s not all negative as I use to believe, and I am not waiting for someone else to fill the empty space of unhappiness.  That is my responsibility.  As a friend said, “I’m the captain of my ship.”  So, where I choose to go sailing in this life and how I respond to all of it is up to me.   My journey is sprinkled with the reality of life’s events/situations, and I am in a much better place to handle it as best I can.  Well, I can especially handle the happy moments!  As Jean said, “We can change our thinking, which will change our behavior.”

Bonded in creating happiness, joy in our recovery and believing that we deserve it, Dee


WFS is Hiring for a Volunteer Coordinator Position!

 

Click here if interested to apply by July 14th

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Monday Thoughts 7/5/2021

“The way you choose to think and speak about yourself (to yourself and others), IS A CHOICE!  You may have spent your whole life talking about yourself in a negative way, but that doesn’t mean you have to continue that path.”  ~~Miya Yamanouchi

“Self-stigma can be just a big a problem as the negative attitudes of others.” ~~Megan A. Arroll

“We were free of self-judgment when we were babies, and yet at some point, we developed a sensitivity that taught us to react with self-consciousness and negative self-talk.”  ~~Elaina Marie


#2 Negative thoughts destroy only myself.

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


In our WFS Program booklet it states “As women in recovery, we are learning that negative thoughts can be harmful.  We were probably ruled by negativity for long periods of time, which took the form of defensiveness and fears.”  When I first got sober, it was difficult to understand that I had or even felt fear but as my brain and body healed, glimpses of negativity began to be uncovered.

Unbeknownst to me, I had become my own worst critic. Oftentimes I made up what I thought someone else might be negatively thinking or saying and simply walloped myself. It didn’t take long to create a negative thought pattern and alcohol easily cemented this into habit.  I was self-destructing yet didn’t see or even feel it.  Sobriety and Statement #2 in action helped change that course and laid a foundation to build healthy self-talk and awareness.

This is the beauty of the WFS New Life Program.  We begin to make small changes, even with just our thoughts, and we are able to reduce negativity while embracing sobriety and recovery.  Here are 4 ways to aid in reducing negativity from Jennice Vilhauer, PhD:

1. Notice the critic.

To gain control over your inner critic you have too first be aware of it. During every conscious moment we have an inner dialogue with ourselves. Much of our thinking is so automatic and happening so rapidly that we barely notice it before we move on to the next thought. Making the conscious effort to slow down and pay more attention to your thoughts will help you notice when the critic is present. Your emotions will also cue you to the presence of the critic. Negative emotions such as doubt, guilt, shame, and worthlessness are almost always signs of the critic at work.

A good exercise to try for one week is to simply keep an inner critic log, either in a small notebook or on your phone. Every time you notice yourself being self-critical, just note two or three words about the situation—got up late, meeting with boss, fight with mom, lunch choices—and what the criticism was—I’m lazy, I’m a bad employee, I’m not a good daughter, I have no self-control. Once you are aware of the critical voice, you will be in a position to stand up to it.

2. Separate the critic from you.

The inner critic doesn’t want you to notice it. It thrives best when you mistake it for being part of your authentic self. However, you weren’t born with an inner critic. The critic is a voice that you have internalized based on outside influences and learning, such as other people’s criticism, expectations, or standards. One way to separate from the critic is to give it a name. Any name will work; to add some levity you might even try using a silly name like The Old Hag. What is important is that by separating it from your own identity, you are on your way to freeing yourself from its influence.

3. Talk back.

Talking back to your inner critic is an important part of taking away its power. Simply telling the critic you don’t want to hear what it has to say begins to give you a sense of choice in the matter. When you hear the inner critic start to speak, tell it to go away. Tell it you refuse to listen. Tell it that you know it is a liar. Tell it you are choosing instead to be kind to yourself.

4. Replace the critic.

The best way to defeat the critic is to have an even stronger ally on your side. You need to grow an inner voice that acts as your own best friend. In order to do this, you need to start noticing the good things about yourself. No matter what the inner critic has told you, you do have positive traits, although it may take you some effort to retrain yourself to see them.

Because of the way our brain works, we all have an automatic selective filtering system that will look for evidence in our environment that matches up with whatever we believe to be true about ourselves. We will then disregard other evidence to the contrary. If you are always saying to yourself, I am an idiot, you might actually do a lot of smart things, but you will still zero in on the small mistakes you make (e.g., locking your keys in the car). You will fixate on those things because they match up with what you say to yourself.

To break this automatic tendency, you have to first make the deliberate effort to say something different to yourself and then actively search for evidence that the new statement is true. When you hear your critic saying I am an idiot, talk back and tell the critic that isn’t true. Then replace the statement with something you know is true, such as, Sometimes I do smart things, and come up with as many examples as you can to support this new statement. The critic doesn’t like to be wrong. The more examples you come up with to support your alternate view, the less it will come around.

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

Years ago, Nina and I presented a workshop on The Inner Critic at the WFS conference followed by Be Your Own Best Friend the next year.   Nina always told me that we teach what we need to learn.  I must admit that each workshop we presented together became a life lesson for me.  In doing research and sharing ideas, I realized that doing these workshops became a hidden gift of learning for me.  After The Inner Critic workshop, I created a name for my inner critic and that name was and is, Ed, my ex-husband.  After way too many years of being intimidated, feeling inadequate, I feel empowered to tell him he has no power over me when negative thoughts begin to take over.  He may not be the one who said the exact negative words, but he is the last one that left an imprint on my thinking that I was unworthy, invisible, unlovable.  I jokingly ask, what is he going to do – divorce me?   I visualize him sitting on my shoulder when a negative, untruthful definition of me begins creeping in.  I recognize them as old false messages.  I will tell him to shut up and flick him off my shoulder, followed by a smile.

Through my growing up years the feeling of intimidation was quite strong and in reflection, I wonder if I chose a man to marry that would challenge those deep feelings of not good enough.  I believed messages from people in authority, my biological father or those my age who judged me.  Because I didn’t have the tools to reject these negative comments, I automatically believed them as true.  It took WFS, therapy and belief in my own capabilities to stop the negative thoughts roaring in my head.  I have come to the conclusion that thoughts unexpressed create negativity for me.  If a boundary has been crossed, a put down of my character or condescending words, I have the choice to discuss it then or when I am ready or sit in silence with the false negative definition of me starting to grow.  The situation may not be safe to express your feelings and that is when the support of WFS sisters comes into play along with positive self-talk.  Sometimes I just say “OUCH!” to the person and that is a universal word that means whatever you said or did caused me pain.  No long explanation, just ouch.

I encourage you to practice the 4 ways Karen shared to aid in overcoming negative thoughts that destroy only yourself.  Let’s face it, many people are so unaware of the hurt they cause, go on their merry way and we are left with the pain.  We are in a powerful position to change our thoughts, to practice positive self-talk, to address the person in a calm but direct manner and to have the support of 4C women in this wonderful New Life Program.

Bonded in reducing negativity and empowering our personal self-love thoughts, Dee

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Monday Thoughts 6/28/2021

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

“Never feel guilty for starting again.”~~Rupi Kaur

“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


#1 I have a life-threatening problem that once had me.

I now take charge of my life and my well-being.

I accept the responsibility.


Maybe you are completely new to sobriety, or maybe you have been trying to achieve more than a few days or weeks sober, or it is possible that you are just exploring sobriety. In any case, welcome!  Women for Sobriety is an empowering tribe of courageous women who understand and can relate to what you are thinking and feeling.  You are not alone!

Our founder, Jean Kirkpatrick, Ph.D. writes in a Collection of Sobering Thoughts (Volume 17), “When trying to quit drinking, it is extremely important for us to be around persons who feed us positive messages.  We cannot be around persons, who when learning that we’ve quit drinking say, ‘It’s just about time.’  Comments like that we don’t need.

Self-help groups are extremely valuable because the members reinforce each other’s commitment to a life of sobriety.  Why we are quitting drinking begins to have some appeal.  It may not be much, but we will be leaning in the right direction.  Another very important result of all this is that our defiance and anger lessen.  Even our fears begin to lessen and we start to have some real good feelings about ourselves.  It begins to look like we might make lasting sobriety this time.”  Sobriety and recovery?  Yes, you can!

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

What I deeply appreciate about support groups like ours is that we continue to learn from each other.  I’ve said this before, and I will keep saying it because the insight and life experience of those courageous women who walked into a WFS meeting or into a zoom room are the encouragers for others of how to work towards a New Life.  In one word, their recovery journey brings HOPE when it is needed the most.  In a world where there are struggles, uncertainty and even fear of being able to live free and supported in a sober world, we share a commonality that doesn’t need explanation.  As Karen said, it’s important to remember we are not alone, we are accepted and encouraged to keep trying.

I found my recovery path in WFS over 33 years ago.  As a facilitator, I wanted to be sure that it was a safe place for women to share, to know they would not be judged if they faltered.  Along the way, there was a lot of bonding together as well as sharing of fabulous coping tools.  I met women who empowered each other with uplifting insights and sharing positive characteristics in each other that they themselves had yet to discover.  In the end, we all learned that it was still each woman’s responsibility to take in all this incredible encouragement and support and create the New Life they yearned for and eventually believed they deserved.

What do you consider your major stumbling block in accepting responsibility?

Do you have an action plan to work towards accepting responsibility?

How are you an encouraging supporter and giving back to others what you received in your New Life?

How does HOPE show up in your world?

What responsibilities have you taken on in your recovery that has somewhat surprised and yet created confidence in your capabilities?

What coping tool has helped you the most?

What self-care/well-being actions are you taking?

Remember, it doesn’t matter why you start, it matters why you stay.

Bonded in your willingness to start being in charge of your life and well-being; bonded in playing it forward, Dee


Thanks again for a fantastic conference! We reached over 550 women and raised over $100,000 to bring the New Life Program to women in recovery. If you attended this year’s conference, please don’t forget to fill out the conference evaluation today!

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Monday Thoughts 6/21/2021

“No one is coming to save you, to give you permission, to choose you, or validate you.  This has always been your job.  You must love yourself so fiercely and fully that you have no choice but to be strong for yourself, to be yourself, and to build yourself.”  ~~Cara Leyba

“Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all.  Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach.  The world you desire can be won.  It exists…it is real…it is possible….it’s yours.”  ~~Ayn Rand

“Responsibility to yourself means refusing to let others do your thinking, talking and naming for you; it means learning to respect and use your own brains and instincts; hence grappling with hard work.”  ~~Adrienne Rich


#13 I am responsible for myself and for my actions.

I am in charge of my mind, my thoughts, and my life.


Imagine being told that the color blue is your color.  Parents, school, friends, or community reinforce this color and it is woven through every fabric of your life.  Yet something feels like it’s missing in your blue world.  You cannot put your finger on it, but you feel a sense of unfulfillment.  You drink or use to fill that void.  That doesn’t help and you shift into sobriety. You begin to practice living the Statements every day.  At first, everything feels flat but soon you are getting glimpses of beautiful purples, bright teals and vivid yellows.  Your spirit feels brighter and you choose to live in responsibility and unexpectedly, a whole rainbow unfolds.  This spectrum fills you and you shine from within.  You welcome every variation of color, including your original blue.  This is it, your life in full display as responsibility weaves a new fabric through you.

Statement #13 in action sets into motion the life we need and desire.  It is responding with our ever- growing ability and building ourselves into our own hero.  It is not easy to stand in our strength yet the freedom that arises from separating ourself from ill-fitting belief systems or institutions cements a powerful feeling of authenticity to our lives.  It bridges gaps, illuminates brilliance while forging balance.

As we begin the second week out from our WFS “I’m Possible” 2021 Annual Conference, the workshops continue to be available through the weekend.  Take a moment to watch, listen and add your thoughts to this empowering event.  Your input is welcome and most needed as our beloved organization continues to grow and evolve.

How will you color your world this week?

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

I love the analogy of being told what specific color is you and then realizing something is missing and how the rainbow of colors unfolds on your recovery path.  I can visualize walking down a road of solid blue and around the corner there is a peak of brilliant yellow, then pink, bright green and so much more.  It is an awakening of what life can be as you take responsibility for yourself and your actions.  I remember the surprise and actual joy I felt as I gained more confidence in being in charge of my mind, my thoughts and my life.  Scary at first yet the more I wandered out of my comfort zone, the more I felt empowered and strong enough to handle this new feeling of responsibility.

Life is change, growth is possible, choose wisely.  I found this quote on a calendar and it was my mantra for quite a while as I finally understood that if I wanted personal growth, I needed to choose wisely, and Statement 13 is certainly one of those empowering growth Statements.

I have a worksheet on the “change” process and one that spoke to me was “New Beginnings” – reorientation marked by new attitudes.  Oh, yes, attitudes – the kind that says I can do this!  It goes on to say that during this phase of change, individuals feel a new sense of belonging and commitment.  This is the time to let go of past behaviors and attitudes, to clarify your roles and responsibilities and to explore possibilities for the future.

I had given up on exploring or envisioning a future where I was in charge as that brought up all my fears of making mistakes, wrong decisions, rejection and just a whole bunch of negative thoughts about myself.  Yet, I felt such a pull to be the 4C woman I at first pretended to be.  So, here were the questions presented that I knew I needed to consider if I was to be the authentic 4c woman my heart ached for.

What do I need to make my vision a reality?

What progress am I making?

What support do I need?

I realized I needed to believe I could make my vision a reality.  I needed to acknowledge that no matter how small a step forward I was making, it was progress!  After all, I did not get to where I was in my actions and thoughts overnight, so I had to appreciate my commitment to trying my best, not giving up.

I needed the support of women who understood my fears and yet encouraged me to keep moving forward.  No explanations understood and accepted.  While the goal is independence, we all need to know we are interdependent.  Why walk alone when there are those who are standing beside you, in front of you leading the way and behind you to catch your back?

In one of the breakout sessions, we were told we were negotiators and I now understand that I was negotiating within myself to find ways to practice Statement 13.   I learned to change a negative thought to a positive one.  I learned to be proactive rather than reactive which changed my actions and outcome.  And one of the most important changes was that I praised myself for each new way of thinking, behaving and being in charge of my life.

Consider these additional questions:

How do you practice Statement 13?

How would you describe your vision of your New Life?

Bonded in acceptance, belonging, and supporting each other, Dee

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Monday Thoughts 6/14/21

“The tests we face in life’s journey are not to reveal our weaknesses but to help us discover our inner strengths.  We can only know how strong we are when we strive and thrive beyond the challenges we face.”  ~~Kemi Sogunle

“It was so risky and so scary, and yet at the same time, so beautiful.  Maybe the truth was, it shouldn’t be easy to be amazing.  Then everything would be.  It’s the things you fight for and struggle with before earning that have the greatest worth.  When something’s difficult to come by, you’ll do that much more to make sure it’s even harder—if not impossible to lose.”  ~~Sarah Dessen

“Take a limitation and turn it into an opportunity.  Take an opportunity and turn it into an adventure by dreaming BIG!”  ~~Jo Franz


#12 I am a competent woman, and I have much to give life.

This is what I am, and I shall know it always.


Did you feel it?

It was there, overflowing through computer screens, iphones and tablets. It was there in brightly lit rooms and quiet corners, and it was there because YOU DID IT and together, WE DID IT! You and countless other 4C women pulled off something amazing: WFS Conference 2021!   It was like Statement #12 came alive over the weekend!

Our founder, Jean Kirkpatrick, Ph.D., began with a thought….and from that thought came a recovery program designed for women.  Jean knew there was a void and sought to fill it; and WFS was born.  Years later, women continue to gather in support of each other, online, face to face and by phone or text/email.  It is that bond, that connection that envelopes us, creating a bridge to a New Life filled with freedom, possibility, growth.

From our absolutely touching Opening Ceremony to the amazing keynote speakers and connecting breakout sessions, this weekend brought women together.  We laughed, we cried, and we learned.  We felt listened to and heard.  We felt safe and secure.  We felt the untold number of volunteer hours put together from behind the scenes.  We gave our time, talents and donations.  We learned more about ourselves and who we wish to be.  We saw old friends and created new ones.  We embraced our value and worth. We felt the beauty of living a sober and clean life and we opened ourselves up to possibility.  We are competent women and we will know it always!

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

So many competent women gathered in one place.  It was amazing.  As many of you know, I have been a part of WFS for over 30 years and it is wonderful that I continue to be blessed with learning life lessons from all these phenomenal 4C women.  I am filled with such peace in the understanding and acceptance that this recovery journey is just that – a journey, not a destination.  Knowing that helps me in those unsettling times when I begin to question why my work is not done.  I am grateful for the awareness that continued growth is what life is all about.

Seasons change and so do I in adapting and creating balance with those changes.  It’s comforting to have this awareness.  Years ago, I was unwilling to change and perhaps that worked in my favor as one of the keynote speakers, Rebecca Ray, shared that we have protectors that help up fight against pain and hurt.  Those protectors worked really hard to block my hurt and it wasn’t their fault that I was fearful of change. They were doing their job.  It was however, as she shared, my responsibility to change how I coped with those hurtful feelings.   I learned that it is important to bring those protectors along the journey, to embrace with them with compassion as we take responsibility in becoming that competent woman we are and always have been.  Ignoring the pain and hurt as we mature blocks our ability to grow emotionally and spiritually.

I have always said that in our life, we are teachers and students.  It’s knowing who we are at any given time.  I can now thank my protectors as I was growing up when I didn’t have much needed coping tools.  As I said, they did their job.  As an adult, I realized I had to work through the hurt and pain to be in charge of my life, to have an emotionally healthy recovery and to show the world that I was indeed a competent woman who had much to give life.

Another speaker, Mary Beth O’Connor, shared how introducing herself as a competent woman was challenging yet after a few weeks, she found herself sitting up straight, feeling empowered.  I love the way she expressed it as a powerful identifier.

While I have always described the italicized part of each Statement as the action part, I appreciated how the first part was described as our “belief.”  So, believing you are competent as the first part of Statement 12 says, the action part is to live it as your daily truth.  I have a 3×5 index card that I carry with me.  On the front is the word STOP!  On the back are words describing who I am today, things I have accomplished and the positive changes I have made in my recovery.  They are my truth.  When the feeling of being incompetent starts to creep in or any negative thoughts about myself, I pull out my card with the truth of who I am today.   I have found it to be useful for several of the Statements.  Here are some questions to get your started on your own STOP! card:

What are 3 or more empowering words to describe yourself?

What positive changes have you made?

What is your personal affirmation?

I am competent in the way I _________________

I have accomplished __________________

What gifts, talents do I possess?

Bonded in knowing “I am possible!” – Dee


Image of a phoenix rising with the words "I'm Possible!

Post-Conference Replay Period Continues Through June 27th!

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Monday Thoughts 6/7/2021

“When you are joyful, when you say yes to life and have fun and project positivity all around you, you become a sun in the center of every constellation, and people want to be near you.”  ~~Shannon L. Alder

“Just imagine becoming the way you used to be as a very young child, before you understood the meaning of any word, before opinions took over your mind.  The real you is loving, joyful and free.  The real you is just like a flower, just like the wind, just like the ocean, just like the sun.”  ~~Don Miguel Ruiz

“If we can just let go and trust things will work out the way they’re supposed to, without trying to control the outcome, then we can begin to enjoy the moment more fully.  The joy of freedom it brings becomes more pleasurable than the experience itself.”  ~~Goldie Hawn


#11 Enthusiasm is my daily exercise.

I treasure the moments of my New Life.


One of the greatest feelings of freedom today is experiencing life with all its intricacies, simply sober.  There is something that feels absolutely refreshing about being present. It runs through the body like a current of childlike wonder, bringing a sense of vibrancy and aliveness.  Statement #11 can take us there at any moment we choose.

Alcohol or drugs negated feelings of balance and joy.  It hung like a dark cloud and cast doubt and insecurity.  It kept the colorful door of life shut and painted everything in varying degrees of gray.  Over time, fear and feelings of lack developed and any childlike enthusiasm vanished.

Yet, enthusiasm is brimming wide and expanding… especially this week! Our annual WFS Conference is upon us (our second time virtually due to covid) and each day WFS will have icebreaker activities to jump start the upcoming weekend.  It’s time to get your toolkits ready, have schedules in hand and connect with other 4C women!  We have a variety of exceptional keynote speakers and breakout sessions.  Our theme this year is “I’m Possible” so get ready for connection, fun and loads of enthusiasm!

Click here to sign up and register for this empowering WFS 2021 Conference

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

In addition to the phenomenal keynote speakers, there is a plethora of breakout sessions available at the virtual conference. I am overwhelmingly enthusiastic about the opportunities for personal growth!  After all these years, I continue to be open to change, learning new ways to cope, to embrace living an enthusiastic life and treasuring the moments.  All of this is possible because of the WFS Program.  Whenever life throws me a curve ball, of which there have been many, I go back to the Statements and am filled with needed direction and positive ways to help me work through it.  What I have learned as well is that when I make mistakes along the decision-making path, I am not a mistake.  I am student willing to learn and make different choices.  I am also surrounded by supportive women who encourage me, building me up to keep moving forward.  That support alone fills me with enthusiasm, reminding me that I am resilient and building a very useful tool box for upcoming issues/concerns.

Years ago, I had zero confidence in my choices, fearful of each mistake, feeling I was incapable of any positive outcome.  When I think back to that woman, I am in awe of how the WFS Program transformed me into a 4C woman – an extraordinary change.  Of course, that change depended on my willingness to practice the Statements.  I have always said that while the program is phenomenal, it’s only words on a piece of paper unless you are willing to put action behind the words.

The conference is an opportunity to learn, to share, to build a magnificent tool box to practice this life-changing program to be the 4C woman you’ve always been.   Be ready to blossom with enthusiasm!

Bonded in becoming enthusiastic and treasuring the moments of your New Life, Dee

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Monday Thoughts 5/31/2021

“There is always a light.  If only we’re brave enough to see it.  If only we’re brave enough to be it.”  ~~Amanda Gorman

“All recovery roads lead to the ability to love and be loved.”  ~~Nancy Cross

“Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.”  ~~Maya Angelou


#10 All love given returns.

I am learning to know that I am loved.


Last week I had a meaningful conversation with my sister over the phone. I had reached out to her after hearing some sad news about her eldest and crankiest felines.  After we hung up, I paused, took a deep breath, and reflected on our relationship over the years.  Tears welled up and feelings of gratitude overwhelmed me.  I had just felt Statement #10 running through my senses, touching both our lives.  Without sobriety and recovery, that expressive conversation would not have taken place.

Statement #10, the second of the “Love” Statements in the WFS New Life Program can feel foreign or unfamiliar.  Before sobriety, it can be easy to justify or excuse disconnection and move away from love. Alcohol or drugs become a roadblock to sending love out and swiftly curtail the return of love. Yet, at our core, love is simply who and what we are, and love takes us further into expansion.

As I hung up the phone it occurred to me that love in action; from living in sobriety and recovery to relationships coming full circle is launched and held steady with love.  What love is can look different from every angle, and as it states in our WFS Program booklet, “Love is multifaceted.  It can be shared in many ways.  We can receive love from friends, family, partners, colleagues, spouses, and even pets.  We can experience it through nature, companionship, romance or a sense of loving connection to the world.” Sometimes love looks like openness, and also boundaries.  Love can be tiny, or all encompassing.  Love takes courage, and love needs each of us to bring it to life.

In what different ways do you experience love?

Where has love taken you?

What do you need right now to experience love?

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

My sister recently sent me letters that I had written her over the years, starting in the late 60s.  Ever since my brother-in-law passed away last month, she has been clearing out stuff.  At first, I did not understand why she was returning my personal letters and yet as she will soon be turning 80, I realize that she wanted to remind me of the loving relationship we shared and honestly, it was such a blessing to read the chapters of my life in my own words.  I wrote a LOT!!!  Some were handwritten and others typewritten.  She included a small note apologizing for not recognizing my sadness as she read every one of those letters before she mailed them. Truthfully, I was lonely.  I missed my family, my friends, my co-workers, my hometown.

I had been married 3 months when my ex and I moved to AL for the first time.  No more going home in a short 2–3-hour drive, no more working in a job that I treasured.  My ex traveled a lot, so it made the isolation even harder to deal with.  We moved often and when the children came along, I sometimes felt I was a single parent.  One time I was so lonely that I put the kids in the car, nothing packed and was ready to drive 15 hours to PA to be with my family.  Fortunately, I regained my senses and we just took a short drive!

When I read those letters, I realized two pivotal changes occurred that turned my life, my loneliness around.  Changes that gave me my voice.  The first was working for the YW whose mission was and still is to eliminate racism and empower women.  If it wasn’t for the YW, I am not sure I would have discovered WFS when I did.  The empowerment I was gaining helped me to learn to love myself and acknowledge that I was worthy of self-love.

I am so grateful for WFS and the dear friends I have made and the strong support system I built and so desperately needed.    I found life changing sobriety and a passion of caring for those women I have been privileged to meet and watch their emotional and personal growth.  I can say I have embraced the knowledge of experiencing Statement #10 to its fullest.  I have given love and truly feel that I am loved.

Who is part of your support system?

Bonded in giving love and knowing that you are loved, Dee


Please donate online at https://womenforsobriety.org or you can mail a check to WFS, P.O. Box 618, Quakertown, PA  18951 with a note that the funds are for the Teddy Bear Challenge.

All donors thru June 8, 2021, will be entered into the drawing for a doll, unless otherwise noted.

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Monday Thoughts 5/24/2021

“There is always a new beginning.”

~~Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

 ~~Seneca

“You may have a fresh start any moment you choose.

 For this thing that we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down.”

~~Mary Pickford


#9 The past is gone forever.

No longer am I victimized by the past.  I am a new woman.


Sobriety and Statement #9 in action can bring about lasting change and can instill feelings of a fresh start or new beginning.  Oftentimes for women in recovery, the past can hang over us like a dark cloud, limiting our ability to enjoy a fulfilling life.  WFS and in particular, Statement #9, create a portal for a New Life that feels fulfilling and life affirming.

Connected to the past are two emotions: shame and guilt.  Both are challenging to move through yet Statement #9 in action helps to progress through them.  Yet what are they exactly?  It is easy to lump both of them together, yet they are two separate emotions.  According to Kristalyn Salters-Pedneault, PhD:  You may sometimes confuse shame with guilt, a related but different emotion.

Guilt is a feeling you get when you did something wrong, or perceived you did something wrong.

Shame is a feeling that your whole self is wrong, and it may not be related to a specific behavior or event.

When you feel guilty about the wrong thing you did, you can take steps to make up for it and put it behind you. But feeling shame or being convinced that you are the thing that’s wrong, offers no clear-cut way to “come back” to feeling more positive about yourself. That’s one difference between shame and guilt.

Guilt

Feeling remorse or responsible for something you’ve done wrong or perceived you did wrong.  Relating to a specific action like making a mistake, committing an offense, or hurting someone (intentionally or unintentionally)

Shame

Feeling that you are bad, worthy of contempt, or inadequate as a person.  Relating to our behavior or self, often in relation to other people’s opinions, not necessarily about a specific behavior or event

How Shame Happens

From the day you were born, you were learning to feel that you were okay or not okay, accepted or not accepted, in your world. Your self-esteem was shaped by your daily experiences of being praised or criticized, lovingly disciplined or punished, taken care of or neglected.

People who grow up in abusive environments can easily get the message that they are undeserving, inadequate, and inferior—in other words, that they should feel ashamed.

Over time, intense feelings of shame can take hold of a person’s self-image and create low self-esteem. Feelings of shame often stem from what other people think. The person may become super-sensitive to what feels like criticism, even if it isn’t, and may feel rejected by others. Inside, they feel painful self-contempt and worthlessness.”

This week, embrace new beginnings and examine your feelings. Identify guilt or shame that you have felt in the past or recently.

What behaviors are linked to guilt or shame?

How did you move through these difficult feelings?  What tools did you use?  Is there an area in your life that needs a bit more attention?

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

In healing from the past, I have learned that using shame or guilt as a motivator to cure addiction is an absolute myth.  I read an article online from The Clearing which addressed this and clearly stated that shaming only reinforces the intense feelings of unworthiness.  The one sentence in the article that spoke to me was, “Shame doesn’t heal addiction, it only does damage.”  For myself in early sobriety, I struggled to release the painful past of shame.  I felt I deserved to punish myself and couldn’t quite grasp the concept of no longer victimizing myself.  My life experience was filled with rejection so I obviously was flawed.  Another article I read from NICABM talks about Guilt vs Shame and how we need to learn the difference as we heal from the past.  There is helpful guilt which directs us to “learn” from hurting or harming ourselves or others.

Unhealthy guilt leads us to emphasize self-punishment over behavior change, trapping us in guilt.  I was stuck in the guilt trap and yet was determined to become a new woman in my New Life.   As I practiced releasing the past, I also had to acknowledge that there were times of acceptance, being loved but I didn’t trust it to be real or lasting in the past.  The feelings of rejection took over.  This is why I value the WFS program.  It wasn’t just about not drinking, it was about digging deep to uncover the hurt I was unnecessarily causing myself and to discover ways to love and forgive myself.  After all, I cannot change the past.  I can learn and heal from it with a lot of introspection and truth finding.  Forgiveness empowered me.  As Dr. Phil wrote in “Making peace with your past: Choosing Forgiveness: The pain of what happened is inevitable but continuing to suffer is optional.  The only person you can control is you.  By constantly reliving the pain of what happened, you are giving your power away.  You can’t change the things that happened in your life, but you can decide how you interpret and respond to them.  If you didn’t receive support when you needed it, give it to yourself now.”

All of these bits and pieces from what I have read and learned from over the years is all because of the WFS program, the supportive women I have met and choosing to heal from the past.  If pain knocks on my door, I will let it visit, giving me time to regain my power and forgiveness.  I no longer let it stay and sometimes, I don’t even open the door!  Where are you on the journey of releasing the past, healing and empowering yourself?

Bonded in releasing, healing and being empowered, Dee


 

Speaker Highlights for the WFS Virtual Conference 2021 include some familiar names: .O – Sharon Salzberg –  Dr. Rebecca Ray – Ester Nicholson – Mary Beth O’Connor.

Full Presenter Bio’s and Workshop descriptions are available now! To read more, visit:  conference.womenforsobriety.org/

Register today!

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Monday Thoughts 5/17/2021

“I’ve come to believe that each of us has a personal calling that’s as unique as a fingerprint—and that the best way to succeed is to discover what you love and then find a way to offer it to others in the form of service, working hard and also allowing the energy of the universe to lead you.”  ~~Oprah Winfrey

“The problem, often not discovered until late in life, is that when you look for things in life like love, meaning, motivation, it implies they are sitting behind a tree or under a rock.  The most successful people in life recognize that in life they create their own love, they manufacture their own meaning, they generate their own motivation.  For me, I am driven by two main philosophies, know more today about the world than I knew yesterday.  And, lessen the suffering of others.  You’d be surprised how far that gets you.”  ~~Neil de Grasse Tyson

“Always go with the choice that scares you the most, because that’s the one that is going to require the most from you.”  ~~Caroline Myss


#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.


Before New Life, there was a feeling of lack, fear and immobility that overwhelmed many aspects of my life. Yet who I am today is a direct result of choice, meaning and growth. Thanks to WFS and the 13 Acceptance Statements, I am able to enjoy a life of sobriety and recovery filled with dimension, opportunity and fulfillment.  Sobriety paired with Statement #8 in action is the core of inner growth.

Starting with the WFS Online Forum, I found my tribe.  For so long, feelings of being alone pervaded life but 4C women welcomed me with open arms and hearts.  It was so refreshing and I immediately felt connected.  Beginning to practice Statement #8 I felt unsure but decided to do the opposite of what my brain said and proceeded to walk into my fears and become unstuck.

After growing into Women for Sobriety and wanting to share the WFS Program, I thought about starting a chat meeting since I felt comfortable being online.  Yet starting a face-to-face group felt uncomfortable.  So, naturally I applied to become a F2F facilitator. Over 10 years later that decision, to look fear in the face and start a group, has been one of the most rewarding decisions.    What I absolutely love about this Statement is that it does not tell us how, where, why or when to grow, it simply encourages growth.  Forward progress, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant is still progress.  It moves us from one point to another and in the space in-between is where growth takes shape.  Oftentimes I am not even aware that growth has taken place, it simply appears as motivation, accomplishment or deeper connections.  It feels fulfilling and helps prevent relapse.  Growth is always evolving, shifting and changing and here are 4 helpful ways to engage with Statement #8:

  1. Define your own meaning:   You get to decide what meaning to give something or anything. Families, institutions, or social constructs can influence what something means to you, but you get to live with the meaning you assign something.  If it does not fit your heart and bring you balance, redefine it.
  2. Use trauma to grow:  When a dear friend of mine lost her life due to domestic violence, her brother, a policeman, began speaking in front of groups to educate about safety, options and agencies.  This helped him move through his grief, allowed him to give the trauma new meaning and he continues to help others 20 years later.  The lives this has saved is impossible to comprehend.
  3. Challenge fear:  Sometimes our fears prevent us from moving forward and growing.  Is there something that you can do this week that challenges a fear you have?  Move towards it.  (Unless it’s a grizzly bear in front of you, then of course run the opposite way!)
  4. There is no destination:  There is no end to growth, and it is different for everyone.  There is no finish line, to rush to win a race, it is a process that ebbs and flows.  Some years are filled with growth (2020 comes to mind with all the changes) while other times in life, growth is something that is felt long after it actually happens.  Enjoy the journey.

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

Such great suggestions on how to develop emotional and spiritual growth.  I honestly thought my emotional growth would be completed by the time I turned 40!  Through WFS, I learned It was just the beginning and continues to this day as I get close to turning 76 in a couple of weeks.  I remain amazed and grateful that I have been open to change.  There was a time that I tightly closed the door, sealing it shut on change due to my fear of making unforgivable mistakes, having to live in continual regret or accepting responsibility for my choices.  That was a huge obstacle for me.  I have shared this often about being the queen of the blame game.  So, if I chose to practice Statement 8, I would have to be responsible for my emotional and spiritual growth.  Thank goodness, I unlocked the sealed door and walked through it with enthusiasm that I never dreamed possible.  I found spiritual growth a bit easier for me as I chose the path of faith to support me.  The emotional growth was quite a bit more difficult, yet my perseverance kept pushing me forward.

I found a message written by Nancy Cross in February 2013 in which she wrote about why we need emotional sobriety.  Among the reasons she listed, this one hit home:  To develop the confidence, satisfaction and resilience that comes from dealing with your emotions directly and effectively, rather than self-medicating to avoid pain.

Those words helped me realize that I did learn to challenge fear, heal and grow from some traumatic events, chose my path from all those who influenced me both positive and negative and learned that emotional and spiritual growth is full of timeless, powerful self-discovery.

Are you making time to reflect and discover what you need for emotional and spiritual growth?

Bonded in uncovering, discovering and setting priorities based on your personal emotional and spiritual journey, Dee


2021 WFS Virtual Conference “I’m Possible” Toolkits are shipping TODAY!

There are only 100 of these left so be sure to register by clicking here!