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Monday Thoughts 10/15/18

Monday Thoughts

“Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want, but the realization of how much you already have.” ~~Unknown

“If you look to others for fulfillment, you will never be fulfilled. If your happiness depends on money, you will never be happy with yourself. Be content with what you have, rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the world belongs to you.” ~~Lao Tzu

“Happiness is not a station you arrive at, but a manner of traveling.” ~~Margaret Lee Runbeck


Statement #3
 Happiness is a habit I am developing.
Happiness is created not waited for.


Inserting the word “contentment” into Statement #3 when happiness does not appear to fit into daily life can create a bridge to fulfillment. It can be difficult and unrealistic to feel “happy” when going through extreme feelings of loss; much like when moving through overwhelming grief or anguish. By inserting the word “contentment”, this Statement can foster stability rather than trying to achieve a by-product of something else much like through alcohol, relationships or material substances.

In the past, my feelings of happiness (as well as self-worth) were attached to being in a romantic relationship. Unable to distinguish happiness separately while unskilled at how to release myself from unhealthy relationships, I lost my identity and the ability to feel joy or contentment. With happiness attached to someone/thing outside, it was impossible to create inner joy. Feeling emotionally chained, alcohol became a quick and repetitive attempt to cut away distress. It never worked.

Embracing the empowering WFS Program and Statements, it is possible to feel contentment, even while moving through unease. Yet, when my father passed away a few years ago, the feelings of grief and sadness felt overwhelming. Surprisingly, it was the continued practice of Statement #3 that helped create a foundation of ease and contentment so that I could manage the intense emotions. Instead of diving into a deep despair, I felt strong footing underneath and moved through the feelings, content in the knowledge that I could understand the process and let go. This felt so much more comfortable and I was better able to shift towards contentment and absolute joy for his life.

Here are 4 examples for creating contentment:

  1. Gratitude Journal
    Even one entry per day can set the mind to focusing on the have’s instead of have not’s.
  2. Measure Yourself with Your Own Yardstick
    We have no idea what it took for someone to be where they are; it is unrealistic to compare ourselves to another. Be gentle and measure yourself with your own yardstick.
  3. Embrace Change
    Everything is impermanent, valuing and embracing change can lead to feelings of ease, happiness and contentment.
  4. Mindfulness
    Consciousness in activities and/or choices can bring feelings of contentment. Multi-tasking can complicate life.

Hugzzz
Karen


Hi 4C Women,

I agree with Karen that just changing a word can help us better understand and practice Statement #3 and make it work for us. I always like to add, happy “MOMENTS” are created not waited for. It is the awareness of those moments that creates the joy and memory. My foundation became peace in knowing that while there are troubling, painful times in our lives, they will not last forever. Years ago, I clung to the painful times as though there would never be an end. Perhaps it had to do with my blaming others for my circumstances and being the victim felt comfortable and kept me from accepting any responsibility for my life. If happiness happened, it was because I was drinking or it was a fluke. When I first read this Statement, I was taken aback. What do you mean, happiness is created, not waited for? Great! I not only had to work on my sobriety, now I had to create my own happiness? I am here to tell you that truer words have never been spoken. Once I let go of my victim role, I embraced change as Karen suggested above and I began to build that foundation of peace. That foundation opened the door to accepting responsibility, exploring new opportunities and especially being brutally honest with myself about the burden I had placed on others to make me happy. It also helped me move through loss, hurt and enormous pain. It was challenging yet it kept me centered and I had the support of friends and the 4C women in WFS. When I am hurt or confused, it is the knowledge that I am not alone and can express my concerns without judgment. I am so grateful because even with my foundation of peace, I need the support, input and insight from those who understand.

Over the years, I have had several exercises regarding Statement #3. Here are few questions.

What gives you the greatest joy?
When was the last time you felt that joy?
What brings a smile to your face when you think of it?
What new or different paths have you taken to create happiness?
Have you explored a new hobby or gone back to the one that you previously enjoyed?
What inspires you?
When is the last time you treated yourself?
When is the last time you played your favorite music and danced with joy?
I feel happy when_________________.

Please consider any or all of the 4 examples that Karen gave toward building your foundation of contentment, peace or joy. I hope you will find time as well to answer some of the questions I posed and perhaps share them with someone you trust, in a f2f group or online.

Bonded in developing a habit of happiness,
4C WFS Member

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Monday Thoughts 10/8/18

Monday Thoughts

“One day I looked at something in myself that I had been avoiding because it was too painful. Yet once I did, I had an unexpected surprise. Rather than self-hatred, I was flooded with compassion for myself because I realized the pain necessary to develop that coping mechanism to begin with.” ~~Marianne Williamson

“Failing well is a skill. Letting girls do it gives them critical practice coping with a negative experience. It also gives them the opportunity to develop a kind of confidence and resilience that can only be forged in times of challenge.” ~~Rachel Simmons

“I’m still coping with my trauma, but coping by trying to find different ways to heal it rather than hide it.” ~~Clementine Wamariya


Statement #2
Negative thoughts destroy only myself.
My first conscious sober act is to reduce negativity in my life.


Recently, many women have felt triggered from numerous social and political developments. From the #Me Too movement and past personal traumas to the uncertainty with LGBT and reproductive rights, there is an air of fury along with an increase of raw emotion. Across this wide range of feelings some women are flooded with fear and negativity. Thankfully, the WFS community is a safe and restorative landing place.

Oftentimes, women can feel that intense emotions are negative. Throughout my life, thoughts of rage have led to extreme emotion, which can still feel frightening.  Finding what resides under this anger has opened up healing, bringing understanding and action to light. A continued practice of Statement #2 enables a reduction in negativity.

Negative thoughts are often impulsive and can be reduced through identifying and processing. Instead of turning away from the raw feelings thoughts can bring, even slowly paced processing leads to increased feelings of ease. For instance, try logging negative thoughts into an impulse log. Here is a log with two examples:

Impulsive or Negative Thought: 

  1.  I can’t handle this, I need a drink!
  2.  I am mad at the whole world, I want to hit something!

What am I trying to express with this impulsive or negative thought?

  1.  I am afraid, I am in emotional pain, I feel useless and alone.
  2.  Issues important to me are being dismantled and I feel alone.

What will I do instead?

  1.  I can call another 4C woman, go on the WFS Forum, take a walk, or practice breathing.
  2.  I will call my Senator/public official, join a committee, learn how to run for public office

How do I feel after?

  1.  Instead of drinking, I now understand that I was feeling afraid and doubted myself and wanted to escape this intense emotion, so I called a 4C friend, we talked, laughed and I feel hopeful and very happy that I chose to call her, and she too was happy that I called. We are having lunch together next week. My mind is more at ease now.
  2.  Instead of lashing out or getting into road rage, I found a group, signed up for their emails and am looking into what I can do today. I might run for office in the future but right now I am supporting those running for office whose values echo my own and made friends with two individuals at the last gathering. I feel focused on solutions and am putting my energy into helping advance this cause.

How do you move through negative thoughts? Which way is the most effective for you?

Hugzzz
Karen


Hi 4C Women,

Love the exercise Karen has given us to process our negative thoughts. I related to her fear of experiencing rage as I have definitely felt that extreme feeling throughout my life. Understanding where that feeling originated was an eye opener. I realized that most of my rage came from feeling invisible, inadequate, rejected and powerless – feelings I carried from childhood into adulthood. And those are just a few that I have identified! I use to stay stuck in those negative feelings until I uncovered their origin.

Now when I feel those negative thoughts rushing in, I stop and focus on the core issue of where the thoughts are stemming from. I discovered that many times it is because I am not in control of the situation which means I am not in control of the outcome. Why this surprises me, surprises me! After all, I have learned a long time ago that I am only in control of myself, my actions, my decisions. So, it goes back to those initial feelings which tells me that if I were visible, heard, adequate and empowered enough, the people I love would follow my guidance and I would feel I had worth because they valued my input.

Now, just in case you’re wondering who those people are, it is my family.  I share this because while I have learned and gained insight over the years, I think my feelings are typical when it comes to family members (spouse, partner, sibling, children and extended family members).  Knowing this in advance, I am able to use positive self-talk, receive support from my friends and the WFS group, and even writing the Monday message helps me. No more running from my negative thoughts.

It’s amazing how my support system can bring me back to common sense, to what I already know deep down inside but for the moment, I lose track of it all. This is why I always emphasize that we are not alone. Reaching out, knowing there are people who relate to you, no explanations, no judgments, what a gift! And sometimes, we just want to be heard. I love being able to turn my negative thoughts around, knowing once again that I am in control of me, not anyone else and it’s my choice to set healthy boundaries as best I can. I am learning to challenge those negative thoughts rather than to be stuck in them. When I challenge, I see the core of “why” and it gives me a chance to create an action plan of how to cope, to create positive change that I am in control of and, as Karen said, focus on solutions and using my energy to advance a cause or find the path to keep creating my New Life.

Have you uncovered the origins of your negative thoughts? If so, how has this helped you turn those thoughts around?
Do you have a support system in place?

Bonded in support of each other,
4C WFS Member

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Monday Thoughts 10-1-18

Monday Thoughts

“Behind every successful woman there is a tribe of other successful women who have her back.” ~~unknown

“Tell your story. Shout it. Write it. Whisper it if you have to. But tell it. Some won’t understand it. Some will outright reject it. But many will thank you for it. And then the most magical thing will happen. One by one, voices will start whispering, ‘Me too.’ And your tribe will gather. And you will never be alone again.” ~~L.R. Knost

“We spend so much energy and breath trying to be accepted in tribes that are not in our ‘soul DNA’. Learn to walk away from a table that has no seat reserved for you. Align, go with your flow and the rhythm of synchronicity will lead you to your tribe.” ~~Malebo Sephodi


 Statement #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.


Sometimes it comes in whispers, and sometimes it comes through a megaphone, but it comes. It comes when it no longer works, it comes when it makes absolutely no sense, but it comes. Yet the tribe, the tribe awaits. Women are welcome, anytime, from anywhere. A beautiful tribe of 4C women has open hands, minds and hearts.

Taking hold of any number of strong hands from the tribe, Statement #1 begins the WFS New Life Program. We are women reaching out to one another, bonded together in overcoming. From the first month of sobriety to the toughest day spent in recovery and beyond, we support each other. We listen, we laugh, we cry, we encourage. We are one in the same, we are capable, competent, caring and compassionate. We are the tribe of 4C women.

Even before knowing the need, before the whispers or megaphones, this tribe of strong and mindful women, live life. Real life, with all the joys, the sorrows, the ups the downs and everything in between, but always ready to welcome and extend a hand and heart. Jean Kirkpatrick, PhD, created and rooted this ever-growing tribe, inviting any woman desiring a new way of life to embrace Statement #1 and live, fully. Every day, through the WFS Online Forum, Face to Face meetings, on the phone or in person, this tribe forever strengthens and connects.

“We are capable and competent, caring and compassionate, always willing to help another, bonded together in overcoming our addictions.” WFS Motto

Hugzzz
Karen


Hi 4C Women,

I love belonging to this tribe of 4C women. After 30 years, I remain enthused and grateful for the women I have met and watched grow emotionally and spiritually through the WFS program.

Statement #1 gave me hope. It was life changing to realize that I was able to take charge of my life and actually accept the responsibility! It was freeing as it changed my negative thinking from believing I was stuck without a way out to learning new coping tools for what life handed me, all the ups and downs. It was tricky at first because those up times could be triggers that I had everything under control forever. Bring on the challenges – I was ready! Well, life experience has shown me that there is always room for learning new ways of coping and to be aware of diverse triggers. I’ve learned what many of my triggers were, some new ones along the way, and created plans to handle them as best I could.

This may also be a time when you are struggling with staying sober/not using. WFS is an abstinence program yet it is also a safe place to seek input, learn more about yourself, new ways of coping with life situations/people and to make plans for whenever such a situation arises again. Trust me, there will be more situations/challenges to face yet as we continue to learn, we build up the confidence to handle them differently. The goal is for a New Life and each of us is in charge of making that happen but remember we are never alone. Take the time t o reflect on the who, what, why and where of your urges and make those plans. This is the time to uncover our wounds, begin our healing and discover all the possibilities that lay before us.

It is also important to have a strong support system where you feel safe in sharing. This is what I love about WFS. We do the best we can, no judgments, no blaming ourselves if we make a mistake. WFS encourages learning from our mistakes, no beating ourselves up as this can be a trigger for “what’s the use?” Freedom, availability, self-respect, self-love, self-worth and all those other positive self’s – that is the purpose of practicing Statement #1. We are gaining a whole New Life and that is worth it all.

Do you know what your triggers are?
What coping skills/plans have you developed?
What are the benefits of recovery? (i.e., defining boundaries, healthy relationships)
What is the most challenging part of recovery at this point in your life?
Who makes up your support system?
How has Statement #1 changed your approach to recovery?

Bonded in accepting responsibility,
4C WFS Member

 

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Monday Thoughts 9/24/18

Monday Thoughts

“Practice does not make perfect, practice makes routine and practiced routine makes a master.” ~~unknown

“You are all things. Denying, rejecting, judging, or hiding from any aspect of your total being creates pain and results in a lack of wholeness.” ~~Joy Page

“The way anything is developed is through practice practice practice practice practice practice practice practice practice and more practice. ~~Joyce Meyer


Statement #13
 I am responsible for myself and for my actions.
I am in charge of my mind, my thoughts and my life.


Oftentimes in books, movies and culture it can be implied that somehow, women are incomplete or that we need others to make ourselves whole. Who can forget the now famous line from the movie Jerry Maguire of “You complete me.”? This line of thinking can instill feelings of worthlessness, thereby creating dependency on something outside of ourselves. Feeling broken, substance abuse can easily take hold.

Statement #13, one of the Statements in Level 6, offers lifelong growth and a continuation of the WFS New Life Program. From our Beginner’s Collection, “The entire object of this ‘New Life’ Program is to come to this point; to the maturity of accepting ourselves and being responsible for ourselves and all we do. By accepting responsibility for who we are and what we do, we have broken away from unhealthy dependencies upon others to see us through life. We have become whole. We make ourselves whole.”

With sobriety and exercise of Statement #13, we can understand that we are already whole and that we have everything that we need within us. Initially this can feel frightening, but utilizing the tools that WFS provides, we are increasingly able to respond with our abilities. Additionally, Statement #13 opens the mind to growth, easing worries of making a mistake. Fear of failure evolves into doing our best and trying different options. Confidence increases and responsibility becomes second nature through the practice of our WFS New Life Program.

Hugzzz
Karen


Hi 4C Women,

I’ve been under the weather the last week after returning from the family wedding in PA. In fact, I’ve been in bed for the past 6 days. Two days ago, I fell straight forward onto my knees (darn laptop cord!) and have been in a bit of pain. More worried about my partial knee replacement than anything else. It’s been two years and I have never placed any pressure on that knee. I guess I tested that theory head on when I fell. As my mind isn’t working as well as I was hoping it would be by now, I went back over past messages and found this one from Dec. 2013 that starts off with Nancy Cross and then my response.

Nancy wrote regarding Statement #13:

A healthy recovery requires accomplishing a number of tasks, including:

*build and maintain motivation
*connect with others
*identify and develop alternative coping methods
*reduce resentment about changing
*identify, understand and cope with craving
*build a new, balanced life
*lead a life that is purposeful, meaningful and reasonably happy
*stay alert for problems and follow through all the way

Hi 4C Women,

Nancy’s list of tasks for a healthy recovery is terrific. I was thinking back to the beginning of my journey and I believe the most difficult part for me was reducing my resentment about changing. As I mentioned last week, I was not eager to change because that meant I had to be responsible for my choices and I was doing so well at the “blame” game. At least I thought I was! I didn’t realize how much energy the blame game took away from self-discovery and growth until I decided to accept responsibility for my life and for my actions. It’s difficult to recognize the time being wasted when you’re in the midst of blaming. For me, accepting change, being RESPONSIBLE for it, was the turning point in my life. I’m not sure I would have been able to tackle the rest of Nancy ‘s list if I had not been willing to change and most importantly, not feel resentful about it. At first, I thought it was silly that I had to change when everyone else’s behavior was causing me to drink. My family history, my young adult years, the choices I made as an adult were out of my control. If only the people I loved would see it my way. If only they understood that I was a product of my life so far that made me feel unlovable and worthless. I clung to that for a very long time. What I eventually learned is that what happened to me growing up was out of my control. As a child, I held no power. As an adult, I owed it to myself to get my power back – to let go of what I cannot change (the past is gone forever) and change what was within my power to do (I will no longer be victimized by the past). Letting go does not mean that what happened as a child or adult was okay, it means that you accept the challenge to take on all those tasks on Nancy ‘s list to have the life you desire, the life you deserve.  You have the power to create this “New Life.” Are you up for the challenge?  Do you know what might be your stumbling block(s) at this very moment? Are you willing to consider how you can make the necessary changes?

 Love,
4C WFS Member

As I read my response from 2013, it is amazing how much the WFS Statements gave me such guidance for change and how they are just as relevant today. I hope you are receiving, accepting and willing to be responsible for your actions and your life as you put Statement #13 into practice.

Bonded in positive change,
4C WFS Member

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Monday Thoughts 9/17/2018

Monday Thoughts

“Have a vision.  It is the ability to see the invisible.  If you can see the invisible, you can achieve the impossible.”  ~~Shiv Khera

“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 –or impossible to lose.”  ~~Sarah Dessen  Along for the Ride

“For success, attitude is equally as important as ability.”  ~~Walter Scott

__________________________________________________________________________

Statement 12
I am a competent woman and have much to give life.
This is what I am and I shall know it always.

__________________________________________________________________________

Over the last few months, numerous women have asked for me to share how I was able to quit smoking using the WFS New Life Program.  Sobriety and Statement #12 helped tremendously to achieve this goal and while WFS focuses on alcohol and/or substance abuse, I am now eight plus years smoke free thanks in part to the WFS Statements.

Around three years into my New Life, I began to think about quitting smoking.  In Goodbye Hangovers Hello Life, Jean encourages the reader to quit and lists many of the long-term effects of smoking.  While devoting less than three pages to the subject, this made a lasting impression and I began to ruminate on how to quit.

The beautiful words in Statement #12 began the process to quit smoking and encouraged me to keep going.  This Statement was saying that I was competent, even though I felt I wasn’t when it came to quitting smoking.  Already feeling somewhat competent in recovery, I began to create a plan of success to quit.

Organizing this new goal, I needed to change the way I felt about smoking.  It was a love/hate relationship.  Intellectually I knew the dangers of smoking; sadly, my mom had passed away from emphysema/ COPD at the age of 72 yet cravings helped keep my habit alive.  Through WFS, I had begun to understand the connection between thinking and creating, (Statement #5) so I started to tell myself whenever I smoked that “this cigarette tastes terrible” or “this smells awful.”  Time and time again I repeated these phrases and before long, the smokes tasted and smelled exactly as I had thought.

After six months of these repeated affirmations, I wrote out 13 benefits to quitting.  I listed one for each Statement.  Fresh smelling clothing and hair, breathing easier, and saving money were just a few of the benefits on this list.  I carried this list in my pocket, so that even while I was smoking, I could read and affirm my decision.

Purposely, I had not given myself a quit date.  A quit date would shift my focus from healthy preparation to unhealthy avoidance.  If I knew the date, I would have focused my attention on what I felt I was losing instead of compiling tools for success.   My husband decided to join me in this effort and together we began to look at a time frame.  Still avoiding a set date, but setting intention, we chose springtime, once spring arrived, we then decided in April, and then to keep the uncertainty going, we decided to quit when our last carton of cigarettes was gone.  Right then and there I became a non-smoker.

By now, I had associated the benefits of quitting with the empowering WFS Statements and I turned to these as the hours ticked by.  Knowing the first three days would be the most difficult, I kept a plastic drinking straw cut in half near me and chewed on the end whenever a craving hit hard.  Driving proved to be the most difficult, that particular association was quite strong, but using Statement #12 I proved stronger. Additionally, having a partner to discuss how I was feeling, or when a craving appeared helped a great deal as well.   We were not an easy couple to be around those first days!

As it happens, the Gulf Oil spill occurred within the first 24 hours of quitting, so each time I heard the news, I became aware of how many days it was since the oil had started to leak. (I almost felt as if the news folks were keeping track along with me!)  Soon the days turned into a week, and the weeks into a month.  Cravings came and went but it began to become easier.  Feeling better physically, I embraced what I had just accomplished.  I quit smoking cold turkey and moved through cravings and impulses using the tools that I had learned in sobriety and recovery.  Around 5 years smoke free, I joined an online support system to learn more and discovered a tool which calculates how much life has been added back because of quitting and how much money saved.  To date, I have added a year and eight months back to my life and saved over $13, 440 dollars. (that’s $26,880 with my husband!)  To celebrate our success, we bought a travel trailer with our savings.  This led to the discovery of a lovely area downstate full of fishing and spectacular sunrises.  Now, eight years later, we have sold our travel trailer and moved our home next to this beautiful river.

Life is good breathing free!

Some tips to consider:
1.       Plan ahead but try to avoid a set date.
2.       Define your relationship with smoking and change it.
3.       Identify your benefits from quitting.
4.       Quit together.  Use this Forum or try the one I use  ww.quitnet.com

Hugzzz
Karen

_____________________________________________________________________

Hi 4C Women,

Never having smoked but knew so many women who did, I began to learn what a challenge it was to quit.  And just as Karen did, others started using the 13 Statements to help them quit alcohol/drugs and smoking.  Being healthy is a worthwhile goal and I have to say Karen’s questions do apply as well to recovery.  I thought of my relationship with alcohol and what would be the benefits of sobriety.  I loved thinking about what I would gain from sobriety rather than what I was giving up.  And the end result from all of the questions, struggles and changes was this – “I am a competent woman and much to give life.  This is what I am and shall know it always.”  As you begin to see your value, think about what you tell yourself each day.  Are the words encouraging, powerful and kind?  Do you believe in your heart that you are competent, that you have much to give life?  This Statement and its meaning will set you free to achieve self-love, self-worth and self-confidence.

Bonded in competency,

4C WFS Member

 

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A Time of Change

Just as the seasons evolve, Women for Sobriety is in the midst of change.  Change can be difficult to move through but it is a key aspect of sobriety and recovery. Some of these changes may bring up feelings of unease, or discomfort, yet each change happens for the growth, betterment and future of Women for Sobriety. WFS continues to be a life-saving and life-changing self-help organization for women.

Women for Sobriety was brought into existence through change. Our founder, Jean Kirkpatrick, Ph.D. developed the WFS New Life Program with our 13 Statements to satisfy a need in her, which she then shared with the world. It took incredible courage to stand out and advocate for something different, yet with her sight set on growth, Jean jumped on the talk circuit, eagerly discussing this new way to sobriety, answered letters from women across the world and shared her wealth of knowledge. Hailed as an expert in the field on alcoholism and women, Jean went on to address Senate committees while living her changed New Life. WFS began to flourish, especially in the 90’s with the recognition of how life altering the internet would become. Change brought WFS to life.

Today, areas of change taking place within WFS are occurring in the office as well as in administration.  Many women calling the office looking for support first heard the voice of Becky, a long time WFS employee. For many, Becky was the face of Women for Sobriety and we were happy to have her working in the office. As difficult as change can be, Becky is no longer an employee of Women for Sobriety and we wish her the best in her future endeavors. Your understanding of confidentiality is needed and most welcome.

So, who is the face of Women for Sobriety now? You are! If you are a woman in recovery, if you attend WFS face-to-face meetings, if you peruse the WFS Online Forum, you are the face of WFS. If you donate your time on one of the volunteer teams, if you donate financially or support a sister who may be struggling, you are the face of WFS. If you moderate or help moderate a meeting, lead or help lead a chat or share WFS on social media you are the face of WFS.  If you are capable and competent, caring and compassionate, you are the face of WFS. We are a beautiful tribe of women, bonded together in overcoming addiction. We are the change we wish to be.

The changes continue with the hearty embrace of Level 6, which includes Statements #8 and #13. The WFS Board took responsibility for the organization and began to grow with change. For example, our Statements and Program booklet received an update with today’s language. Our website has been refreshed and redesigned, including a much-needed Meeting Finder and our annual Conference was enhanced, evidenced by the different Opening/ Closing ceremonies, the fun swag bag and our wonderfully enthusiastic Keynote speaker, Karlee Fain. The WFS Forum will be receiving an update shortly, and behind the scenes the WFS Board of Directors has been hard at work upgrading and managing the inner workings of our organization with passion, dedication with an eye towards the future. Included are the many volunteers who continue to invest financially, locally or creatively with WFS. Your time and talents are appreciated!

Filling the role of President for the last year, it became apparent that WFS needed more than just a volunteer for this role. It has been an honor to serve the WFS organization. With steady growth in place, a fair market search was done outside of WFS, while first looking internally. A number of candidates applied for this new position and one has been recently chosen. It is a pleasure to introduce you to the new WFS President Adrienne Miller!

Adrienne brings a wealth of expertise to this position. She holds a BA in Psychology with additional training in addictions counseling and is a certified Chemical Dependency Professional in the state of Washington. She has worked in the recovery field for seven years in both paid and volunteer positions, including six years as a volunteer peer facilitator (including leading a WFS group in her hometown of Seattle.) She is well versed in the New Life Philosophy and has received rave reviews on her workshops at WFS Conferences over the years. Additionally, Adrienne has ten years’ experience in office administration and has been a passionate advocate for WFS when serving on our Board of Directors prior to becoming Project Manager.

Serving as WFS Project Manager, Adrienne lovingly compiled and updated some of Dr. Kirkpatrick’s most important works for women embarking on their New Life journey in the  Beginner’s Collection Workbook which is now included in our Beginner’s Bundle. She upgraded the 2017 Conference experience with online registration and a streamlined Conference Program booklet. Adrienne has been expanding our volunteer program, empowering 4C women to take a proactive role in the organization’s growth/management while increasing and coordinating WFS outreach activities.

The new website and online Meeting Finder, another one of her projects, has decreased barriers for women everywhere to find and access face-to-face meetings and Phone Support Volunteers. Adrienne’s interpersonal skills and adaptability will aid in this period of exceptional growth for WFS. Please join me in welcoming her to this new position!

Hugzzz
Karen

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Monday Thoughts 9/10/2018

Monday Thoughts

“If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.”  ~~Frances Hodgson Burnett

“Perspective is the way we see things when we look at them from a certain distance and it allows us to appreciate their true value.”  ~~Rafael E. Pino

“It’s not only moving that creates new starting points.  Sometimes all it takes is a subtle shift in perspective, an opening of the mind, an intentional pause and reset, or a new route to start to see new options and new possibilities.”  ~~Kristin Armstrong


Statement 11
Enthusiasm is my daily exercise.
I treasure the moments of my New Life.


In our face-to-face group, I like to share how I ‘get’ to do some of those “unremarkable” things in sobriety and recovery.  In the past it was easy to overlook those small moments, but with the practice of Statement #11, it becomes easier to treasure moments that we may once have taken for granted.

A beautiful example of Statement #11 in action happened at our annual WFS Conference a few years ago.  In one of the workshops, Nancy Cross (who lovingly established the WFS Online Forum) brought a small glass or possibly marble rabbit and sent it around the circle that we were sitting in so that each woman present could hold and touch this tiny treasure. As this little rabbit went from hand to hand, Nancy shared with the group that she wanted to re-energize this little bunny and take each of us home with her.  Each of us had quickly become treasures.

Instead of dreading an activity or task, it is possible to feel content or even grateful for the experience.  Fresh perspective encourages embracing the treasures all around us, and Statement #11 leads the way. Friendships, family, experiences can become filled with awe and wonder.  This Statement can also help cement sobriety and recovery, and like all exercises, invigorates and strengthens.

Hugzzz
Karen


Hi 4C Women,

Karen’s perspective regarding Statement #11 came at just the right time for me.  In preparation for a family wedding, I was fluctuating between enthusiasm in seeing the whole family, including my son, and the thought of driving 15 hours.  Enthusiasm and a bit of dread all caught in one moment’s thoughts!  So how to stick with the enthusiastic part of gratefulness, as Karen suggested, is the question.  If there is any Statement that helps to bring focus to such a situation, it surely is Statement #11.  It guides us to consider how our thoughts have a huge impact on the outcome of a specific situation/event/interaction with people in our lives.   Do we automatically respond with dread or do we shift our focus to the possibilities of adventure, learning new skills, the joy of spontaneity or unexpected positive benefits from taking a risk, overcoming a fear by facing the unknown?

I’ve been reflecting on just that.  Thinking about my decision to quit drinking certainly did not initially bring about a feeling of enthusiasm or considering how much I would treasure the moments of my New Life.  Yet, I took that risk and wow, how much my life has changed, how I learned that fear can be faced with full force and surviving becomes thriving.  The woman who automatically said no was now saying yes and became filled with wonderful surprises, unexpected and treasured adventures and relationships.  What surprised me the most is my confidence began to take hold as I relished the feeling of enthusiasm.  There are still situations I struggle with yet I am not fearful that I will remain stuck.  It’s part of living and years ago, I finally learned and understood that life is change, growth is possible and it’s important to choose wisely.  I will make mistakes along the way yet I do know that I want more enthusiasm than dread when new situations arise and I have the tools given to me by WFS to reflect and choose wisely.

  • How do you experience enthusiasm?
  • What tools do you have to face your fears and be spontaneous, to thrive in your New Life?
  • What is the last spontaneous moment you experienced?
  • What ordinary moments do you treasure?
  • What does “being in the moment” feel like to you?

For some, creating a grateful journey keeps the focus of enthusiasm fresh and current.  Consider writing down at least 2 experiences each day for a week that highlight your gratefulness for your New Life in recovery.  Treasure these moments.

Bonded in treasuring the moments of your New Life,
4C WFS Member

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Monday Thoughts 9/3/2018

Monday Thoughts
“To be human is to be visible.”  ~~Amy Sherald
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.  We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’  Actually, who are you not to be?”  ~~Marianne Williamson
 “Love unlocks doors and opens windows that weren’t even there before.”  ~~Mignon McLaughlin

Statement 10
All love given returns.
I am learning to know that I am loved.

Statement #10, the second of the WFS “Love” Statements can be difficult to put into practice.  If we did not experience or feel love when we were young and vulnerable, we may not feel comfortable or may be wary of intimate and loving relationships.  This separation can serve as a false sense of protection while unknowingly instilling loneliness, but the desire to feel loved is what bonds us as human beings.  Instead of isolation, connection encourages love.
Here are four tips for creating connection in our lives by Lori Deschene:
1. Initiate meaningful conversations.
You can initiate this type of exchange with anyone at almost any time simply by asking about the other person, fully listening to what they have to say, and then finding common ground.  Naturally some people will stay shut down, but it’s worth the risk of feeling vulnerable to find the ones who won’t.
2. Give the gift of your presence.
Often when we converse with people, we’re not fully listening; we’re formulating our response in our heads and waiting for our turn to talk.  We’re not only doing the other person a disservice when we do this; we’re also shortchanging ourselves.  Think about the last time you really opened up to someone.  It likely required you to feel a level of comfort and trust, even if you didn’t yet know that person very well.  The act of opening up is itself an offering of love.  In recognizing this and welcoming it by fully hearing other people, we are, in fact, receiving love.
3. Open up your love valve.
Just like a heart valve prevents blood from flowing backwards, our love valve might block the flow of energy in our interactions.  This generally happens when we get too caught up in our head, thinking, analyzing and wanting more, instead of being present and allowing a natural give and take.  Come into the moment, take the pressure off the situation and avoid the urge to fill silences with chatter.  Instead, picture the interaction as something cyclical in nature, where there’s a balance of sharing and listening, giving and receiving.  When we clear the mental clutter and allow this type of flow, we are in essence, choosing to be love.
4. Change your beliefs about the world and love.
When we tell ourselves the same things over and over again, we end up creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.  It you tell yourself that people don’t care, you’ll put that energy into the world and then easily find evidence to back it up.  If you tell yourself you’ll never experience love, you’ll create barriers and then subconsciously repel it.  Tell yourself a different story.  There is a lot of love in the world, there’s plenty to go around, you deserve it and it’s coming to you every day.
What additional actions will you take today to amplify feeling loved?
Hugzzz
Karen
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Hi 4C Women,
There are so many ways to experience love.  A friend just lost her beloved pet and I thought of the unconditional love that pet gave to her for many years.  There is no doubt that she knew she was loved.  We each need love in some manner whether it is from a partner, spouse, child, sibling, friend, pet or individuals that cross our path during our lifetime.  That sense of belonging, being cherished and accepted is all a part of knowing that as we give love, we are loved.
What has been the most challenging is when I have loved and it wasn’t returned.  I questioned my value and my worthiness.  This is when I realized that some relationships are for learning.  The life lesson is that I may not be loved by that particular person yet I am lovable, I am worthy, I am enough.  Rather than feel there is something inherently wrong with me, I learned to trust my instincts, leave the situation/person and give my love where it will be received and welcomed with open arms.  Gone are the days of trying to prove myself lovable, dishonoring my integrity to be a doormat people-pleaser to literally lose myself in the process.  As we practice giving love, embrace the gift of being loved.  Be open and willing to seek, give and accept love from your heart.  It will begin to fill any empty space you have and give purpose and joy to your life.  Know that you are loved!
Bonded in giving and receiving love,
4C WFS Member
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Monday Thoughts 8/27/2018

“As you become aware of what has robbed you of the purity of an innocent mind, a clear heart and a strong body, you will be deeply served by letting go of those familiar limitations.” Debbie Ford

“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.” ~~Thich Nhat Hanh

“Often we want to go back to the familiar, go back to where we felt our life pause, but nothing is ever the same.” ~~Erica Durance


Statement #9:
The past is gone forever.
No longer am I victimized the by the past. I am a new woman.


Regret, shame, and guilt are some feelings which can link us to the past.  Before a sober New Life, these emotions ruled and directed, keeping past dramas, emotions and/or feelings pinned to the present.  Sobriety and Statement #9 in continuing action provide an opening to the present enabling feelings of contentment and satisfaction.

Understanding the need to cling to the past can open the door to the present.  This was a new concept in sobriety.  What was so important in the past that there was a continual need to bring it forward?  Carrying past emotional pain does nothing to ease life but, it is familiar.  Through WFS and the practice of the Statements, I now understand why I remained in a toxic relationship.  It was familiar, and the fear of the unknown bound me.   No matter how much I wanted to go back and fix or rearrange life, the present is the only available moment there is.

The practice of this favorite Statement encourages the release of what no longer works, even if it is familiar.  Examples of this can translate into releasing control and embracing the unknown, letting go of a toxic relationship as I had done, or practicing mindfulness.  New tools can be learned through WFS to bring the present into view, establishing a rewarding, full 4C life.

Hugzzz
Karen


Hi 4C Women,

Letting go of the fear of the unknown and wanting to rewrite history certainly kept me stuck in the past.  Each time I tried to prove myself lovable and worthy, all I got was trapped in a vicious cycle of victimization because I was working so hard at trying to be what someone else thought I “should” be.  My focus was all wrong but I was stuck in guilt that if I was smarter, prettier or worked harder in my role as wife, I would be loved in a way that I needed.  As I started practicing Statement #9, I realized an important aspect was necessary to stop the victimizing of my unfounded failings. That aspect was forgiving myself.  That act of forgiveness changed my actions, responses and attitude.  It helped me to learn that self-love and forgiveness was the key to letting go of the impossible – changing another person’s definition of what my role should be and how love and forgiveness needs to be expressed and given.  Sometimes we carry old baggage for so long that we may not recall when or why we packed our guilt and shame, and most importantly, why we continue to carry it around.

Below is a message from Nancy Cross that dates back a few years.  She was a phenomenal woman, strong supporter of WFS, certified moderator, board member, held the first online chat and wrote thousands of encouraging messages.  Sadly, Nancy passed away on August 25, 2015. In honor of her commitment and loyalty to WFS, I wanted to share her message on Statement 9 – so powerful and insightful.

“I recently had the opportunity to hear Claudia Black, PhD, speak here in Cincinnati . Claudia is a well known author and lectures on addiction and family issues.  You may have read one of her many books, “It Will Never Happen to Me: Growing up with Addiction as Youngsters, Adolescents, Adults.”  (www.claudiablack.com
 
During the second half of the lecture, she presented a visual exercise using three members of the audience.  In front of the volunteers there were numerous pieces of luggage, all shapes, colors, and sizes.  The luggage was handed out to the volunteers – some for them to hold and some for them to hang on their shoulders and arms.  Claudia then went on to explain the luggage.  There is hard-sided luggage representing people who are known for saying, “I can do it myself, I do not need help,” and the soft-sided luggage represents those who “sit on the fence or can’t make a firm decision.” 
 
There was green luggage (envy), red luggage (anger), blue luggage (sadness), and black luggage (guilt, shame, and depression).  All of the things we tend to carry with us or hang on to from our past.  When we find we have too much to carry, we look for a cart.  That cart in my case, was my addiction.  It helped me carry the load, or so I thought.  But that cart only led to other carts as I needed more and more to help with the extra baggage of guilt and shame that became overwhelming.
 
The key sentence in her presentation, for me, was, “Do you know who packed your bags?”  Wow!  So many thoughts came to mind when she said that – voices from the past of parents, other family, friends, co-workers, teachers, ex-spouse, and my own voice echoing my lack of self-confidence.  Each and every one had a hand in packing the luggage that I carried around all of those drinking years.  And was it heavy!  
 
She went on to say that each of us has a choice to continue carrying that luggage, or, to repack it as we see fit to lighten our daily load.  We can unpack all the “shoulds”, the “cant’s” and the “I wish I would haves.”  We can toss out the guilt and shame we carried for so many years.  WE have a choice!  
 
We may have added positive things to our luggage in sobriety/recovery, however,  those bags are still going to be tough to tote until we dig to the bottom layers and toss out the negatives stowed there. 
 
Consider the WFS Program a training manual on how to repack that luggage.  There are some wise lessons to be learned.  I know finding and embracing WFS helped me lighten my load and I have long since given up looking for a cart.
  
So, let me ask you – 
Do you know who packed your bags?  
Have you discovered how to lighten your load?

EnJOY, Nancy”

Bonded in healing from the past and unpacking those unnecessary bags of guilt and shame!
4C WFS Member

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Monday Thoughts 7/23/2018

flowers-in-field

“Done is better than perfect.”  -Sheryl Sandberg

“Expect problems and eat them for breakfast.”  -Alfred A Montapert

“If you can’t go straight ahead, you go around the corner.”  -Cher


Statement #4

“Problems bother me only to the degree I permit.”

I now better understand my problems.  I do not permit problems to overwhelm me.


Before sobriety and New Life, attempts at solving problems involved running away, denial and oftentimes, breaking down in tears.  I felt so inept at solving problems that a mere inkling of a problem brought intense anxiety which I tried to soothe with alcohol.  Of course, this never worked; the problem was still there plus now additionally, the hangover.

In our Program booklet, our founder, Jean Kirkpatrick, Ph.D., writes, “Learning that I didn’t have to react to everything with upsetting emotions was an important part of my recovery.”  Discovering middle ground emotions assist in developing problem solving skills which can reduce overwhelming emotions.  Overtime, these new skill sets can lead to increased feelings of balance.

Sobriety and recovery encourage problem solving.  No matter where you are on this 4C journey, a brief reflection on the first month of sobriety brings problem-solving to light. Challenging thoughts about drinking or using while embracing new tools and skills is Statement #4 in action.  From this New Life beginning, the satisfaction of remaining sober is born and can fuel decision making.  This change in direction opens up endless possibilities.

Hugzzz
Karen


Hi 4C Women,

Over the years, I have started using the word “concern” as it always makes me feel that I am in a problem-solving mode rather than just worrying about anything and everything. Statement #4 has helped me understand that worrying solves nothing although it can be the catalyst for awareness of a real issue that needs problem-solving/decision-making or wasting valuable time for something I have no control over.  I once read a definition by Dr. Edward Hallowell who wrote Worry: Hope and Help for a Common Condition.  I haven’t read the book but his definition stuck with me.  “Worry is nature’s alarm system.  It’s sort of like blood pressure.  You need some level to be alive and healthy.  It’s when the alarm goes off for no reason or the level stays too high for too long – that’s what Dr. Hallowell calls “toxic worry” – that problems arise.  When asked how do we know when our worrying has crossed the line, the answer was to look closely at the sources of our worry when it holds us back from doing what we want, from making decisions or living as fully as we’d like.  I believe those are great guidelines to help us recognize the difference between worrying and concern.

Dr. Hallowell suggests:

  1. Never worry alone:  Making contact with another person and sharing your concerns is often the best way to combat incessant worry.
  2. Get the facts:  A lot of times, worry is based on lack of information or misinformation.  Simply gathering data can help you develop a plan of action or even decide you don’t need to worry after all.  (I suggest also contacting a human being, not just the internet, with the knowledge you need.  -Dee)
  3. Make a plan of action:  By making a plan, you assume control of the situation. “Worry loves a passive victim.”  The more you put yourself in control and reduce your vulnerability, the less you’ll feel toxic worry.

The following checklist is a tool to help us understand the word power of “worry” and “concern” and how it can help us move in the direction of problem-solving.  It is from Ascent Advising website. 

When considering the differences between worry and concern, consider these distinctions:

  • Worry distracts us; Concern focuses us.
  • Worry disables planning; Concern helps us plan.
  • Worry blurs our vision; Concern clarifies our purpose.
  • Worry tends to give up; Concern perseveres.
  • Worry exaggerates; Concern pinpoints problems.
  • Worry focuses on self; Concern cares for others.

Thirty years ago, when I first discovered WFS, each one of the 13 Statements of Acceptance for a New Life dramatically changed my life and Statement #4 was definitely a huge motivator in relieving me of my “Queen of Worry” crown.  What a relief.  I hope you will consider the suggestions and definitions above and learn how to change worry into concern and how to begin making an action plan with the input of those you trust!

Bonded in not permitting problems to overwhelm us,
4C WFS member