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Monday Thoughts 1/11/2021

“The best time for new beginnings is now.”  ~~Unknown

“If you don’t like the road you’re walking, start paving another one.”  ~~Dolly Parton

“Nothing can dim the light that shines from within.”  ~~Maya Angelou

“The best time for new beginnings is now.”  ~~Unknown

“If you don’t like the road you’re walking, start paving another one.”  ~~Dolly Parton

“Nothing can dim the light that shines from within.”  ~~Maya Angelou


#3 Happiness is habit I am developing.

Happiness is created not waited for.


Happiness today feels real and authentic thanks to the WFS New Life Program and Statement #3 in particular, yet before my New Life it felt ephemeral and unreliable.  It felt like the other shoe was about to drop at any moment, so living in fear became the norm.  Like a dazzling and beautiful butterfly, I was forever trying to catch happiness and hold it close, but it was gone even before realizing it was there.  Alcohol and drugs can have that effect.

Understanding that we create our own happiness and that it comes from within is a concept that can bring freedom, balance and contentment.  Before sobriety, it was easy to assume that things, people or alcohol (drugs) were the key to happiness but the fact is that lasting happiness originates from inside.  In our WFS Program booklet our founder, Jean Kirkpatrick, Ph.D. writes, “Happiness never came to me until I learned the secret of making it for myself, of finding an inner glow that somehow made all other things right.”  Even in the midst of uncertainty (fear), we can move through difficulty and maintain balance.

An example of keeping a sense of balance comes with my sweet, canine companion who wagged his tail into my heart just a few years into sobriety and recovery.  Recently he has been diagnosed with cancer.  While this news can be anxiety inducing, there is an underlying sense of ease.  Instead of drinking at an issue to escape it, managing and moving through emotions with a sober and clear mind allows for the moment to be experienced, even savored and expressed.  This is where the crossroads of growth and understanding meet.  So, while time may be limited, there is no limit to the amount of pure joy, happiness and love that unfolds from within.

Hugzzz

Karen


Good Morning 4C Women,

I learned a lot about myself in practicing Statement #3.  At first, I was quite reluctant to accept that I was responsible for creating my own happiness.  I learned two things from accepting this responsibility.  One, it is actually possible and two, I can experience happiness from others as long as I am in the moment of appreciating and embracing the joy they are bringing to me.

Previously, I leaned solely on others to bring me joy so I was always waiting, putting a burden on others to make me happy.  The word habit was the key to changing my thought process.  I sort of overlooked that word when I realized that most of my drinking decisions were based on habit.  A bad day at work, an argument, a disappointment, rejection, loss and an endless number of situations created the habit of responding with drinking to avoid and quiet those feelings.  So, if my habit was to expect others to make me happy, my new habit had to be for me to find what brings me happiness and develop a new habit.

As many of you know, I am a keeper of papers – lots of papers.  I found a questionnaire on happiness that I filled out back in 1993.  I always try to date my papers so I can see what personal growth I have made and learn where my current focus needs to be.  I got divorced in 1994 after 27 years of marriage so the answers from 1993 give me a lot to reflect on in 2021.  And remember, these questions were on happiness!  Unfortunately, I cannot remember where these questions came from yet I think they are just as relevant today as they were back then.

Before the questions, there was a list of 5 Foundations for Happiness:

Self-Acceptance, Personal Growth, Environmental Mastery, Positive Relationships with Others, Purpose in Life.

What do you think of these?  Any you would add?

Here are the 2 questions:

10 things that give you joy/happiness/pleasure:

Identify 20 things you’re grateful for:

I listed 17 things that gave me joy.  I am sharing this with you because if I had not dated this questionnaire, I would have never believed that I could list that many things when going through a divorce.  I had been sober for 5 years and practicing the WFS Program which is why I know I was able to list so many.  I had developed a habit of creating happiness through Statement #3.  Some of the answers are quite comical as technology has certainly advanced since 1993.  Some of my answers were foods that are microwaveable (guess there weren’t that many in 1993), answering machine, panty hose that fits, plus size clothes in petite (that goes back to the panty hose that fits).  I listed 21 things I was grateful for and those were more serious except for I don’t have to iron because of wash and wear and men with long hair.  I have no idea about why I was grateful for men with long hair but not having to iron is still something I am grateful for.

I hope you are able to answer these questions with thoughtfulness, a bit of humor and finding that you are developing a habit of creating your joy, happiness, contentment – whichever word fits you.

Bonded in developing a new, healthy, well-being habit of happiness, Dee

Be sure to read the WFS Winter Newsletter

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Monday Thoughts 1/4/2021

“Don’t ever make decisions based on fear.  Make decisions based on hope and possibility.  Make decisions based on what should happen, not what shouldn’t.  ~~Michelle Obama

“You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.”  ~~Indira Gandhi

“Negative emotions like loneliness, envy, and guilt have an important role to play in a happy life; they’re big, flashing signs that something needs to change.”  ~~Gretchen Rubin


#2 Negative thoughts destroy only myself.

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


In our WFS Program booklet for Statement #2, it reads, “Our overcoming is in the exact proportion to our becoming.  Negative thoughts can destroy us in so 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 reality.”  Moving through uncomfortable thoughts or emotions can seem overwhelming yet as the quote says, ‘overcoming is in the exact proportion to our becoming.’

This was a new and different response to practice in my New Life.  In the past, I often rallied complaints with others to try to get them “on my side” in order to validate how right I was or that I was a victim.  This did nothing to process difficult emotions, it only intensified them.  Drinking became a “faux-solution”; it numbed the mind while cementing painful emotions.  This negativity became a way of life and I felt miserable, which created an unhealthy cycle.

The WFS New Life Program and Statement #2 paired with sobriety offer a way to move through difficult emotions while creating a balanced new way of living.  While the process of moving through difficult thoughts and emotions can be different for every woman, the results of reducing this negativity can be the same.  The end result is that we invest in ourselves and create a sense of well-being that was not present before our New Life.  This week take time to visualize and carry out how you will move through challenging thoughts/emotions or feelings of imbalance.

Here are 4 tips to practice Statement #2

  1. Name and identify thoughts and emotions.  Before tackling a difficulty, it has to be named.   Guilt, shame, rage, disgust…this is the beginning of moving through them.  (see attachment)
  2. Sit with your named thoughts and emotions.  Take the time you need to process but set your intention to move through them.  Understand that some things are quick, while others, take more time.
  3. Take necessary actions.  Writing, journaling, talking with a 4C sister or practicing making boundaries can be a way to process difficult emotions.
  4. What does it look like on the other side of the challenging thought or emotion?  Look for and embrace growth.  Chances are while you go through the emotions, you will grow through the emotions.

 

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

A phrase Karen used stuck out for me – “cementing” painful thoughts/feelings.  The image that came to my mind was breaking that cement with all my might, freeing myself to feel, to work through the pain and heal.  It took me a while to be able to identify those deep-seated feelings.  The feelings wheel is such a great tool and I encourage you to utilize it to help you identify and understand the core and origin (when possible) of your feelings.

I use to call the center feeling words “surface” feelings.  They were easy to identify but digging deeper helped me to understand that my painful wounds were profoundly buried and needed to be set free.  This is how my healing work began.  Whenever I could identify the origin, I began to understand that some of these deep feelings were very old messages, sometimes from people who were no longer here or even in my life.  I kept the negative thoughts and feelings prominent in my mind as though they were brand new.  I began to question why I chose to continually hurt myself.

I may not be able to change harmful, hurtful words or actions from the past but I sure can set boundaries to protect my heart and squash those negative thoughts before they became cemented again!  If was the keeper of negative thoughts, I also held the key to release them.  As I looked at the feelings wheel, I realized that I lived in fear and sadness most of the time.  My goal was to heal from that space and move onto Happy.

Thanks to WFS, I was able to do that.  What kept me going is that my work was to “reduce” negativity in my life and that felt like a huge burden lifted off of me.  I could and did work at my own pace.  No pretending I had left negativity behind completely.  Life doesn’t work that way.  It’s a process and one I could handle a little bit at a time.   This is why I have great dislike for the phrase, “Just get over it.”  My response is “I’m working through it!”  So, that is my guidance for you – work through it, heal as you work and have a goal of freedom, happy, contentment, peaceful – whatever word authentically describes what you want and need to reduce negativity in your life!

Bonded in reducing negativity and healing as we work through the process, Dee

 

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Monday Thoughts 12/28/2020

“When you quit drinking you stop waiting.”  ~~Caroline Knapp

“Recovery is an acceptance that your life is in shambles and you have to change it.”  ~~Jamie Lee Curtis

“There are women succeeding beyond their wildest dreams because of their sobriety.”  ~~Mary Karr


#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.


This week marks the start of a brand-new year filled with dreams, hopes and possibilities.  The WFS New Life Program and the 13 WFS Statements of Acceptance can guide and support sobriety and recovery no matter if this is your first day sober or your tenth year in recovery. These Statements are the cornerstone of a continuing balanced and beautiful New Life free from alcohol or drugs.

If you are new here, welcome!  Women for Sobriety is an organization of women for women.  We encourage, connect, and believe in you.  We also affectionately call ourselves “4C” women, which stands for being “Capable, Competent, Caring and Compassionate.”  Our website is filled with information that can aid you on your journey and offer ways to connect with other women on the same path.  For an introduction to WFS and to read helpful articles written by our founder, Jean Kirkpatrick, Ph.D., click here.  If you would like information on the WFS Community including information on connecting with other women online, click here.  Remember, you are not alone.

Beginning the year with Statement #1 is an empowering way to cement your recovery and focus on continued growth.  What would you like to accomplish this year?  Leave a trauma behind?  Find a new hobby?  Learn a new language?  Connect with someone?  This week write down a set of goals for yourself and reflect on how far you have come from the previous year.  For many, 2020 has been a significantly difficult year filled with uncertainty but there were areas where your strength shown through so embrace that part of yourself.  After all, you are a strong, beautiful 4C woman!

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

Even with the ups and downs of 2020, I have seen so much resiliency among 4C women.  The old adage that it’s not that you fall down, but it’s how you get up that matters, has certainly been seen over and over again this year.  I have been privileged to witness women dealing with sometimes extreme isolation and loneliness still having the courage to seek help, to keep moving forward when standing still may seem like the only thing a woman feels able to do at any given moment.  Obtaining and maintaining sobriety can be challenging during typical times but during a time of uncertainty, loss and isolation, it certainly makes it even more challenging.  However, it is absolutely possible, yes doable, with the encouraging and supportive WFS program and the 4C women involved.  What Karen said about not being alone on this journey, this path, is why building a strong support system and sharing coping tools with each other is so crucial and invaluable.  I have found that it also reinforces my desire, my need, to remain sober.  It reminds me of how much better my New Life is and what matters the most to me.  Sometimes we take for granted that we know what matters yet I am always grateful for this push to remember to keep my core values at the forefront.

As we work towards sobriety and maintaining our recovery, it is important to know what our triggers are.  Knowing them helps us to put plans into action before the thoughts of drinking or taking drugs becomes the action.  I found a list of things that may cause or trigger slips/relapses.

  1.    Stress
  2.    Becoming overwhelmed by feelings and emotions; this can happen in therapy as well when uncovering core issues
  3.    Loss of a family member, friend, co-worker, a casual acquaintance or seeing the numbers rise this year from COVID
  4.    Marital and family problems
  5.    Feelings of loneliness, shame, guilt, anger and abandonment
  6.    People’s reactions to changes you are making in your life
  7.    Fear of change and/or living without alcohol/drugs
  8.    Celebrations
  9.    Success
  10.    Habits – automatic reaction, responding

What would you add to this list?

How would or do you cope with any of the above?

You may wonder why even bring up situations/people that may cause or trigger relapse/slips when Statement #1 clearly states we are in charge of our lives and well-being, that we had a problem that once had us.  I believe this year has made me take a deeper look at how women, including myself, are handling difficult feelings and situations.  As I said, it’s important to know what triggers you so that you have a plan, even several plans.  Nancy Cross once wrote, “You don’t recover from an addiction by stopping using.   You recover by creating a New Life where it is easier to not use.  Your addiction has given you the opportunity to change your life.  Take advantage of this opportunity and use it to improve your life.”   Think of the positives that take place when you create this New Life in recovery.  This is what I kept in mind when I first became sober.  This year, I again needed that awareness more than ever.

  1.   Remembering what you said, what you did, how you got somewhere
  2.   Waking up without a hangover or having to make excuses for your absence at work or any event
  3.   Freedom – for me, this meant I was available at a moment’s notice to drive, to listen to someone in need, to say yes to a spontaneous invitation if I chose      to
  4.   Saving money – this is huge.  Some women even decided to put the money they would have used for alcohol or drugs into a jar and then donate it to          WFS.
  5.   Reputation – repairing and rebuilding
  6.   No legal consequences
  7.   Spending time doing things that are fun, creative, rewarding, you are passionate about
  8.   Being a positive role model
  9.   Living by your values, setting healthy boundaries and learning that no is a complete sentence
  10.   Building authentic, healthy relationships
  11.   Making your own choices and trusting your instincts
  12.   Knowing your hard work has created the 4C woman you always were

What would you add to this list?

Bonded in taking charge of our lives and our well-being with intention, Dee

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Monday Thoughts 12/21/2020

“Responsibility is accepting that you are the cause and the solution of the matter.”  ~~Anonymous

“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

“A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with his freedom.” ~~Bob Dylan


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

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


In our WFS Program booklet it states “Sobriety is just the beginning.  The WFS New Life Program provides a portal for personal growth.  It shows us a new way of thinking.”  This Statement is not a one and done or something to be checked off a list; Statement #13 is designed to be used continuously throughout our New Life.  This is especially true for long term sobriety for it keeps us on the path of recovery.

In the past responsibility felt frightening since in my mind, responsible people made difficult decisions and were often reprimanded.  Through years of drinking, I felt incapable of making even the smallest of decisions and unhealthily depended on others.  This way of life shrunk my mind, my thoughts and my life.  Yet, Women for Sobriety helped me change all that.

Today I feel a sense of freedom in responsibility and no longer fear decision making since it’s how we all learn.  A favorite phrase defining responsibility is “I respond with my ability and that ability keeps evolving and growing.”  There is underlying joy and contentment in embracing my own mind, my thoughts and my life.

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

Like Karen, I had no confidence in my decision-making abilities. Statement #13 had me shaking in my fear of believing all my decisions would be wrong, that my mistakes would just validate those beliefs that I was inadequate and incapable.  This fearful negative self-talk brought to mind a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt, “You gain strength, courage and confidence in every experience in which you stop and look fear in the face.”  Ok, sign me up!  Truthfully, no was my immediate response just as drinking was my immediate response when coping with my fear of change, being in charge of my mind, my thoughts and my life.

Over the years, I have been fortunate to learn from others who have walked this path before me.  While ours paths to recovery are very unique, individual and achieved in our own time frame, the life experience, insights and shared coping tools I received from other 4C women was such a gift in uncovering and discovering how I could become responsible for myself and my actions.

Here are some of the tools I used in taking charge of my life:

Positive self-talk which for me was accepting mistakes as life lessons and surviving the outcome with that knowledge.  I’d like to add thriving because I started to learn that I could be successful in my decision-making which boosted my positive self-talk.

Reframing the situation – avoiding all or nothing thinking which led me to change what is the “worst” that could happen to what is the “best” that could happen in my decision-making.

Redefine my definition of who I am.  This was a tremendous change as I had to let go of old messages from the past that no longer served me in the present.  In fact, most of those messages were given to me by people who had their own issues that were never worked through.

Self-care and being proactive in doing that.   As women, many of us place the needs of others before our own.  Sometimes that might be necessary depending on the situation.  In the big picture, it’s about balancing what needs to be done yet keeping yourself at the top of that list so you have the energy to do whatever else is necessary at that time.

Acknowledging my fears rather than drinking them away.  This was a huge challenge because it meant I had to not only face my fears but work through them.  It helped me to be aware that in facing my fears, I had to be aware of how I responded/reacted to them.

Seeking support.  Reaching out to people who understand, accept and have life-changing coping tools to share.  Having the input, insight and support of the WFS women I have been privileged to learn from and care about, was key in putting Statement #13 into action.

In reading over the changes above, which of these do you feel you are working on or need to work on?  Please consider sharing the coping tools that have helped you up to this point.  We all learn from each other.

I encourage you to remember that we are all heroines when we walk through the doors or attend a WFS virtual meeting for the first time, when we continue to attend as we learn to take responsibility for our lives and our actions, reaching out making that first phone call to ask for help, registering online seeking and receiving the much-needed support to guide us in putting Statement #13 into action.  It’s all about community, taking charge of our lives and the freedom working this Statement brings into our lives.

Bonded in sharing and learning new ways to practice Statement #13. Dee

Over the years, as the holidays approached, I have asked women in my local group to give a gift to themselves by answering the questions in this document, put them in a decorative bag or box and give it to themselves on Christmas Day or any day they wish to celebrate themselves.  After all, we give to others all year and this gives each woman an opportunity to think of what they will give themselves in the upcoming year (self-care) and what positive changes they have made throughout the current year and acknowledging any blessings they have received.  While it’s been a challenging year, I believe we’ve learned a lot about our abilities, our resilience and what gift we deserve to give to ourselves in the upcoming year.  

 

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Monday Thoughts 12/14/2020

 

“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.”  ~~E.E. Cummings

“You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.”  ~~Eleanor Roosevelt

“Trust yourself.  Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life.  Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.”  ~~Golda Meir


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

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


Unaware of negative internal dialogue, it was inevitable to feel less than or not enough.  Add to this a laser-focused comparison to others, healthy self-esteem was not possible or even compatible. Alcohol compounded the doubt, insecurity, and fears, which led to extreme feelings of incompetence and worthlessness. Yet sobriety and Statement #12 in action lay a foundation for self-worth and ability to flourish.

Why is it easier to recognize competence in family, friends, or others, yet more difficult to embrace within ourselves?  For women in recovery, it is important to embrace this quality within ourselves.  In our WFS Program booklet it states “By releasing the baggage of self-denial about ourselves and our abilities, we can free ourselves from feelings of guilt, despair, and unworthiness.  We are competent women, capable of great accomplishment, when we nurture a belief in ourselves.  Begin each day with an unshakable belief in your own competency.  First the thought, then the reality.”

Self-imaging and affirmations are two tools which can aid in practicing Statement #12.  Self-imaging, the art of imagining who or where we would like to be, (either spoken or written in detail) along with daily affirmations can increase our acceptance of ourselves.  Here are a few examples to begin with:

  1. I am a capable, competent, caring, and compassionate woman.
  2. I am enough and I am doing my best.
  3. I love myself and my body and treat myself with compassion.
  4. I am dedicated to taking small actions each day towards my goals.

What other affirmations will you add?

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

It took quite a while to erase, even quiet down the negative self-talk I had in my head for so many years.  Comparison was my daily thought.  Drinking seemed to be the answer to quiet those negative images of who I thought I was.  Of course, that was definitely not true because the pain remained and my self-esteem remained damaged.  Gladly, through WFS, I learned that the way to becoming the 4C woman I had sadly trapped with drinking to squash those painful feelings of unworthiness, was to unravel those false perceptions I bought into.  I needed to unwrap the woman I was smothering with alcohol, to discover the woman I needed to be and could be with just changing the way I defined myself.  In other words, I needed to rethink and behave my way through to the present truth.  I realized I was trapped by old thinking, old messages that no longer held strength in the woman I was working so hard to release from the past.  I understood that my beliefs were from others who were authority figures in my growing up years or loved ones who had their own baggage they unpacked and put in my suitcases.  I also came to understand that it was me who kept those painful beliefs active and current into my adulthood.  Any traumatic or unpleasant event only proved that everyone was right about me rather than accepting and knowing that life is full of hurtful moments and joyful ones as well.  I realized I was focused only on the negative events.  Statement #12 was one of the most difficult ones for me to process.  Years of believing I was anything but incompetent seemed unnatural for me to embrace, to acknowledge both competency and having much to give life!  However, being a persistent woman and determined to keep moving forward, I began to challenge how I defined myself.  The first time our group had to list 50 positive terms to describe ourselves, I was stuck at 3 and that was a challenge all in itself.  This was a big wake-up call.  I even provided the group a list of positive characteristics to help in the process.  Eventually, with hard work and confidence, I was able to list more than 3 words!

I have a paper dated 2015, on Self-Esteem and Substance Abuse as it related to Statement #12.  There were some common characteristics of people with low self-esteem.   The top one was negative self-talk, then frequently apologizing, focusing on “perceived” flaws and weaknesses, seeking constant reassurance from others and not feeling better even with positive feedback, refusing to accept compliments or denying positive comments you get, tending to be a perfectionist who’s afraid of failure.  Fortunately, there were constructive ways to build self-esteem and I’d like to share them.

  • Make lists, rereading them often and rewriting them from time to time (the exercise I described above).  These lists can include your strengths, things you admire about yourself, i.e., healthy relationships/spirituality/emotional growth.
  • Five greatest achievements/accomplishments in your life so far.  (I took my driving test 3 times as a 16-year-old before I passed and in the past 13 years have driven to PA/NJ by myself.  Now I consider that quite an accomplishment.)
  • Things you can do to make yourself laugh.
  • Things you could do to help someone else.
  • Things that you do that make you feel good about yourself.
  • Develop a personal positive affirmation.  (This is so important.  I use to look in the mirror every morning and tell myself that I was stupid, fat and ugly.  When I think of that now, I cringe.  The first time I looked in the mirror and said that I loved me, I knew I was on my way to building my self-esteem and that is my wish for each of you.)

Bonded in knowing you are unique and loved and deserving of loving yourself, Dee


 

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Monday Thoughts 12/07/2020

“A contented heart is a calm sea in the midst of all storms.”  ~~Anonymous

“Contentment comes from many great and small acceptances in life.”  ~~Anonymous

“Comparison makes finding contentment a million times harder.”  ~~Anonymous


#11 Enthusiasm is my daily exercise.

I treasure the moments of my New Life.


Enthusiasm has been at times difficult to embrace, especially this year with changes from the pandemic.  Many things are different and routines have been disrupted. As I struggled with practicing Statement #11, I found that switching out the word enthusiasm with contentment has helped me connect and appreciate moments each day.

Obviously, this has been a difficult year for numerous people; uncertainty with finances, the inability to connect with loved ones, fear of the virus itself, and the inflammatory political spectrum has stretched our nervous system to the extreme.  Being enthusiastic feels almost impossible, yet contentment feels practical.  In our WFS Program booklet, it states “Pause at random times throughout the day and identify something to appreciate about that moment.  Learn which things make you smile and feel excited.  Reflect on your life and find things to be thankful for.”  There are numerous moments throughout the day to embrace contentment, it takes conscious awareness and effort.

Even though life feels unsteady lately, it doesn’t mean sobriety has to be unbalanced.  Recovery is the one constant in life that I have complete control over and it means the world to me.  Taking stock of who I have become and the many positive changes in my life is a baseline of stability.  So even when life feels the complete opposite of enthusiastic, I can feel contentment, even amidst chaos.  Again, from our WFS Program booklet for Statement #11, the following questions are asked:

How can you increase your enthusiasm (contentment) today?

What energizes you naturally?

How can you enjoy what you currently have?

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

I am grateful for the word “contentment” that Karen used to express enthusiasm as she feels it today.  I love decorating for the holidays yet this year I find myself fluctuating between pure joy and exhaustion just from packing up the fall decorations and dragging the winter/Christmas/holiday decorations into the house.  I know the exhaustion is a combination of age, energy and space.  As I unpacked each snowman, decorated the tree and found a spot for just one more decoration, I found myself feeling lighter and dare I say, enthusiastic!  I treasure the memory behind each decoration and soon gratefulness was flooding into my heart.  Like many of us, I am missing family and friends that I haven’t seen in person for over a year.  Many of my snowmen are gifts from family and friends who know my love for snowmen.  I mean how can you not smile back at a cute, fluffy smiling snowman!  As Jean said, enthusiastic moments are just that – moments.  It’s the awareness of them that makes them treasures.

I’m feeling that this year, perhaps more than ever, we need that awareness to lift our spirits, to treasure the joy – contentment of those precious moments.

So here are some questions I have presented in the past that I find make me dig a little bit deeper to know there are enthusiastic, joyful, content moments to treasure even in uncertain times:

What is the last spontaneous moment you experienced and treasure?

What sparks your creativity?

When we do what we are passionate about, we have total confidence in our abilities. What makes you unafraid of making a mistake? Is it your passion, enthusiasm, joy that keeps you moving forward without fear? In the past, I was riddled with fear of making a mistake so I became stagnant, not opening up to taking on a project that in my heart, I was passionate or joyful about just thinking of it.  Where does your passion or joy take you that making a mistake doesn’t hold you back?

Answering these sensory questions may be just the spark needed to discover what brings a smile to your face, where you feel most creative and how to achieve the joy of enthusiasm, meaning and living a balanced life

I love the taste of:

I love the sight of:

I love the feel of:

I love the smell of:

I love the sound of:

The answers to these questions may lead us to create and enjoy an uplifting song, cooking a meal that evokes a powerful, wonderful memory, watching snow fall or depending on where you live, a beautiful fall tree with leaves still brilliantly shining, eating your favorite snack or food.  So much we can do personally and individually to bring about enthusiasm and contentment when we explore, discover and uncover the answers to these questions.

Bonded in discovering and treasuring the moments of our New Life, Dee


 

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Monday Thoughts 11/30/2020

“Acceptance is simply love in practice.  When you love, you accept.  When you lack love, you judge.”  ~~A. Naskar

“Pause and remember—when you fight reality, you will lose every time.  Once you accept the situation for what it truly is, not what you want it to be, you are then free to move forward.”  ~~Jennifer Young

“Learn to deal with people for who they are, not who you want them to be.  Life gets a lot easier when you stop expecting apple juice from oranges.”  ~~Rigel J. Dawson
_______________________________________________________________

 #10 All love given returns.

I am learning to know that I am loved.
_______________________________________________________________

Harshly judging myself and others felt normal before my New Life, yet unaware of this routine I became oblivious to the painful effects and felt the world was against me.  Years of negative self-talk and criticism had taken a toll on daily experiences and love seemed distant or even unattainable.  I tried to fill the void with alcohol but of course it made everything worse.

Sobriety and Statement #10 in action offer the opportunity to change everything.  With the clarity from a sober, clear mind, working through the negative self-judgment paves the way for acceptance and for love to flourish.  The more I accepted myself, the more I accepted others and negativity took a back seat to compassion. For instance, in the past I tried so hard to be like those that I admired that my authentic self-became almost non-existent.  Critical of everything I did, it was easy to reject myself, people, and experiences while harder to love myself and others. Sadly, my world became smaller and smaller.

Learning to love myself and others for who they are and not who I want them to be opens the door to acceptance. Some things are easier than others to accept yet with continued practice of Statement #10, rejection can then fall away, and life can have a sense of simplicity, fullness, and balance.  The impulse to criticize or judge lessens while caring and compassion expand.  It takes a conscious daily effort, yet the results are life enhancing and especially life changing.  Just in case you have not heard it yet today, you are loved!

How will you expand love this week?

Hugzzz,
Karen


Hi 4C Women,

I believe the one of biggest attitude changes for me in the beginning of practicing the WFS Program was quieting the judgmental voice in my head.  I did not realize how much I judged myself and others until I began applying the WFS Statements in my daily life.  As a brand-new moderator/facilitator back in 1989, I read the guidelines every week to the group which included no judgmental statements or advice was to be given.  We were to share how we related to a specific concern of another member, to share how we handled that similar situation and encourage a woman to make her own decisions on how to move forward.  There is no one way to resolve issues and that is where the following the guidelines was crucial.  We were specifically directed not to judge, to not say you “should” have or why did you do that?  With these guidelines, the meeting became a safe place to share, to be authentic.  This is where we become bonded in helping one another.

Back in 2011 I gave my son, daughter, and granddaughter a questionnaire from Dr. Phil’s Self Matters Companion book from the self-concept chapter.  The questions were phrased in a positive way as the purpose of the questionnaire was to learn my strengths.  I was hesitant at first, fearing the answers, thinking they would struggle coming up with positive responses.  That thought came as a surprise to me because I have spent a lot of time on healing from my past.  Of course, I might have been more at ease asking a friend!  Family can still bring out that questioning of being forgiven, accepted, and acknowledged for the work I have done.  I even thought some of the questions were silly, such as if I were a car or an animal, what kind would I be and why?  Well, those questions were uplifting and light.  Just the right way to end the questionnaire.  Their answers taught me that all my love given has been returned and I am loved.  Perhaps you would like to give this questionnaire to a trusted friend or family member.  Make sure you date it if you do.

Bonded in giving and receiving love.  Dee

Who Do You Think I Am?

These questions are phrased in a positive way because I need to know my strengths.

 

1. Please describe something that I consistently do well:

 

2. Please name one thing you have seen me do well:

 

3. Please tell me the best thing about how I look:

 

4. In as much detail as possible, can you remember any time that I seemed to be happiest?

5. Tell me what you think my strongest traits are:

 

6. If you were going to describe my best strengths with three words, what would they be?

7. If you were in a situation in which you thought I could help you in some way, what would that situation be?

 

8. Can you tell me any aspect you respect about me?

 

9. If you had to describe me as a car, what kind of car would I be and why?

 

10. If you had to describe me as an animal, what kind of animal would I be and why?

December 1st is Giving Tuesday!

Please help WFS empower women in recovery!

 

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Monday Thoughts 11/23/2020

“Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength.  However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.”  ~~Ann Landers

“Let go of certainty.  The opposite isn’t uncertainty.  It’s openness, curiosity and a willingness to embrace paradox, rather than choose up sides.  The ultimate challenge is to accept ourselves exactly as we are, but never stop trying to learn and grow.”  ~~Tony Schwartz

“Renew, release, let go.  Yesterday’s gone.  There’s nothing you can do to bring it back.  You can’t “should’ve” done something.  You can only DO something.  Renew yourself.  Release that attachment.  Today is a new day.”  ~~Steve Maraboli
_______________________________________________________________

#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 result in freedom from guilt, freedom from regret and even freedom from shame.  Before my New Life, my past haunted me.  Wallowing in regret, I tried to use alcohol to free myself from uncomfortable feelings and reality.  Of course. alcohol only intensified the issues and took me further away from moving through my feelings.

In our WFS Program booklet it states “To loosen one’s grip on the past is not always easy.  We evaluate our past so we can learn from it.  We examine our feelings about the past so we can process and release them.  Our interest in the past is to use it as a guide for how we want to be in the moment and to prepare for the future.”  Today we can examine our past with clarity and a different perspective, all the while learning from it and formulating plans for our future.

The wonderful thing about moving through feelings from the past is that once we do, it is complete, done, over.  Either something of value is learned, or understanding, forgiveness and/or acceptance is experienced.  Some things have taken me years to move through, and other things have taken less time.  The common thread is those feelings and experiences help shape my tomorrows.  Notably, regret, guilt and shame have all but disappeared while balance, compassion and fulfillment are here to stay.

What are you ready to move through?

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

I was looking back on a message from Nancy Cross who left behind so many wonderful words of wisdom for us.  This one on Statement #9 really spoke to me and I’d like to share it with you.  Carrying old baggage can be such a heavy burden.  The baggage of envy, anger, sadness, regret, guilt, shame and so much more.  She went on to explain that when we find we have too much to carry, we look for a cart.  For her, that cart was her addiction.  The question that she posed was, “Do you know who packed your bags?”  We have a choice in sobriety to repack those bags, getting rid of the “shoulds”, the “cant’s” and “I wish I would haves.”  And while the hurtful past arises as a natural process, we have the choice to acknowledge it and let it “briefly” visit.  Then we make another choice to not be victimized by it, the action part of Statement #9.

Perhaps you can ask yourself as you reflect on the pain of the past, are you stronger for it?  Wiser?  Perhaps more compassionate towards yourself for your ability to survive and make healthier choices?  Have the lessons gained from the past created inside changes that sustain you and honor you in the present?

It’s important to date each worksheet so in 6 months (May 2021), you can reflect on the changes you made and the continued healing work to be done to release and heal from the past.  I hope you will share your answers at a meeting or with a trusted person in your life.  As you can see (I hope), I added who packed your bags from Nancy’s message.

Click here or on the image below to download a copy of Tossing Old Baggage.

Click here or on the image below to download a copy of the 6 Month Questionnaire.

I hope this Thanksgiving can be one of finding peace with your past, moving toward the joy of freedom, forgiveness of what cannot be changed and hopefully healed, Dee

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Monday Thoughts 11/16/2020

“There is comfort in acceptance.  There is unexpected growth of seedlings of life if we take the risk of opening ourselves up.”  ~~Jan Warner

“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers simple.’~~ Dr. Seuss

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity.  It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity.  If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.”  ~~Brene Brown
_______________________________________________________________

#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.
_______________________________________________________________

Recently, winds of change blew through my New Life like never before. I have experienced a multitude of emotions and experiences over the last decade plus and the tools from the WFS New Life Program continue to help move me forward. Yet this was different. This time I felt helpless, but not hopeless, thanks to practicing Statement #8.

The threat of storms is a constant in life, but today I understand so much more that what I do before those storms even appear can make all the difference. In addition to the recent hurricane, I was hospitalized for COVID. While physically alone, I was connected emotionally which enabled me to focus my thoughts and priorities. Self-imaging became my go to tool as I envisioned my body fighting back and getting stronger. I pushed myself to make even the smallest of milestones and set goals for each day. Being connected to family and friends helped me cement attitudes and acts of healing. The years of growth from living the WFS New Life Program are a critical aspect of sobriety and recovery and helped my forward progress.

Gratefully, power is restored and a sense of healthy balance is settling in after this past uncertainty. Allow me to offer a huge thank you to Dee and the WFS office for the continuation of our Monday Thoughts. We are a great team of 4C women! Also, I wish to thank all health care workers for your care, dedication and commitment. You are our heroes as our world moves through this pandemic!

This week can be an excellent time to examine growth in your life. Where have you excelled? Where do you need more attention? Does your recovery need an update? Where do you see yourself next year? 5 years? 10 years?

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,
First, I would like to say that it was a privilege to write the Monday Thoughts while Karen was recovering from COVID. I am both thankful she is back home and that she was able to create the first part of this week’s Monday message. I really missed her inspiring, uplifting words.
I am repeating a message on Statement #8 from last year. I am doing so because it’s been an emotionally draining week and I realized my priorities needed a check-up! In addition to a family matter, my dear friend’s husband of over 54 years passed away on Saturday. She lost her son to cancer 6 years ago and her 17 year-old granddaughter 4 years ago in an accident. In addition, she has been in severe chronic pain for the last 25 years. My heart is breaking for her. We’ve been friends for 54 years, working together at the Redstone Arsenal in AL. She had a surprise baby shower for me and I for her. When her son was ill, one of my priorities was to visit her family every Wednesday and continued to do so after he passed away. With COVID I have not been able to visit and I think this is why this message has struck me so deeply.

As I read over the message, I began to realize what was missing for me this past week was my “authentic” priority. As I am expecting a similar situation this week, I really need to dig deep in determining how I will handle my feelings and my priorities. If we are to practice Statement #8 to its fullest, putting our priorities in a proper order requires serious reflection and understanding of our chosen authentic priorities, not what might have been chosen for us by the expectation of others, circumstances, convenience or culture. An authentic priority gives our life purpose, direction and meaning. It allows us to grow, to move toward wholeness and fulfillment. For me, sobriety was the first choice in setting priorities which led to clarity in my thinking. Over the years, my priorities have changed as I have changed. This is why emotional and spiritual growth needs to have direction and flexibility.

We have the freedom and ability to make decisions about our lives and the direction in which we wish them to go. In other words, we can establish our own priorities. We are not limited to reacting instinctively to our surroundings; we have the power to exercise control over our lives. This is an incredible power and if we want to make the most of our lives, to realize our potential, we need to use it consciously and wisely.

What is a priority?

Simply put, a priority is something of leading importance in your life.

A priority is what you live for, what gives focus to your life.

A priority is the shaping value around which the rest of your life tends to be ordered, for better or worse.

A priority is whatever has first claim on your time, energy and resources.

A priority is something you consistently prefer to (or feel you must) do, have, worked toward, think about or spend money on.

A priority can be consciously chosen or it can be set for us by outside circumstances.

Now think about your priorities in general. Which is your number one priority? After you answer that, determine if it is an authentic priority.

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

To determine if your priority is authentic but not quite sure, answer these last 3 questions:

Time: What do I spend my time thinking about?

Money: How do I spend my money?

Energy: How do I spend my energy?

I thought about my priorities and these questions helped me so much in thinking about how I spend my time, what causes or people I support financially and where I spend most of my energy. It all goes back, for me, to what an authentic priority is and answering those questions, was a real eye opener. I hope you are able to give serious consideration to the questions and most importantly, to your answers.

What I learned this week is that sometimes a priority is set by outside circumstances. The key for me is to accept it temporarily (that’s where flexibility comes in), reset my boundaries when the timing is right, take a deep breath and remind myself that this is a process, that I have made tremendous progress over the years and acknowledge the emotional and spiritual growth I have accomplished.

Bonded is setting priorities that support your life’s purpose and meaning, Dee

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Monday Thoughts 11/9/2020

 “Don’t forget to love yourself” – Soren Kierkegaard

“Love is not just something we say or write.  Love is the face we put on, the clothes we wear, the way we walk and move…our very heart and soul.”  – Amy E. Dean from Night Light.

We are all willing to love and we agree with the premise that love can change the course of our world.  But it’s doing it that’s tough because we must reveal ourselves, we must give of ourselves and not be afraid if rejection follows.  Are we afraid to love because we might be turned away? “ – Dr. Jean Kirkpatrick, Founder of WFS


Statement #7

Love can change the course of my world

Caring becomes all important


Hi 4C Women,
Last Monday I shared how much I miss Karen’s inspiration in writing the first part of the Monday Thoughts.  I remembered that she wrote 4 volumes around the 13 WFS Statements and that I have all 4 of them!  What a gift to be able to share with you.

Sobriety has allowed me to understand that I need to love myself.  In the past, I demanded to be loved while alcohol fueled the intensity of those demands.

Sobriety is an act of loving me.  It is a gift I give to myself each day.  Jean Kirkpatrick wrote, “It is often said that we learn to love by loving, a kind of on-the-job- training.”

I was beginning to learn to love myself in early sobriety.  I was experiencing long hidden feelings, responding to myself with love.  I felt compassion beginning to rise within me and I felt glimpses of a calmness that has continued to flourish…inner peace.

Today I know that I am a loving person.  I feel that love in many, many ways and I am continuing to learn and grow.

Love begins with me.
Hugzz, Karen


Good Morning 4C Women,

When I first read this Statement so many years ago, I was reluctant to be vulnerable as the fear of rejection loomed large in my mind because I had experienced it too many times.  What I learned is what Karen so clearly states, “Love begins with me!”  I had such a narrow, limited view of love, confined strictly to romantic love.  Through WFS and therapy, I have learned that love is expansive from loving friends, pets, hobbies, adventures, nature, books, family, learning, writing, oh the list is endless.  I realized that I was surrounded by love and I began to accept it and return it with authenticity.  It was as though I suddenly was able to carry love in my heart wherever I was and it felt awesome.  Gone was the emptiness, the fear of rejection I carried like a 2-ton boulder on my shoulders.  I no longer worried if I was not accepted by everyone because I learned to accept myself right where I was at that moment.  I had to become my own best friend.  One of the greatest gifts was learning to love myself.  I felt I had found not only self-love but as a WFS facilitator, I found a safe home to express my caring and compassion for others.

  • How would you describe the relationship you have with yourself? Is it loving, accepting, growing in a caring direction?  If not, perhaps spend time seeking to uncover why and work through whatever is keeping you from the love, respect and joy you need and deserve.
  • How has learning to love yourself changed the way you define love for others
  • Are you more open to being vulnerable on your love journey, letting go of the fear of rejection, knowing you have built a strong foundation of self-love
  • What/Who is on your love list
  • How do you express caring for others
  • In a quiet moment, ask yourself what you can do to help yourself feel more compassion and love toward yourself
  • What are some of the ways you celebrate yourself?

Bonded in learning that love comes to us in diverse ways and that self-love and caring is all important, Dee