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Monday Thoughts 1.16.23

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Hi 4C Women,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We look forward to you joining us.

Please note- WFS requires attendance at a volunteer orientation within 3 months of joining a team for new volunteers.
The next one is February 7th at 8:30 pm Eastern: Link to register

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Monday Thoughts 10.17.22

women for sobriety decorative image problem

“Being challenged in life is inevitable, being defeated is optional.”

Roger Crawford

“Learn from the stories of people who faced challenges you haven’t yet experienced.”

Joanna Barsh

“Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It’s not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it’s a day you’ve had everything to do and you’ve done it.”

Margaret Thatcher

#4 Problems bother me only to the degree I permit.

I now better understand my problems.

I do not permit problems to overwhelm me.

Don’t do that! Don’t even try. Why bother?

These were just a few responses my mind went to when facing a problem before my New Life. This led to an increase in problems that I either ignored or blamed on someone else. Denial of my problems was another tactic, yet it took time and awareness to grasp and understand this. Sobriety and Statement #4 in action allow for continued growth and feelings of accomplishment.

In our WFS Program booklet, it states, “The value of this Statement is in learning that we can control our reactions.” This is a powerful response for it places trust within ourselves which is usually absent in active addiction. One of the first places I saw this being modeled was in our WFS Online Forum. Here I found women learning to grow through their experiences, all the while sharing their joys and their sorrows yet continuing to invest in their New Life. This in turn helped me to realize I could do the same.

The first way I put action into Statement #4 was to create a sobriety plan to prevent relapse. Listing five different actions that I could take before turning to alcohol has kept me sober and focused on recovery. Additionally, two of the actions needed to include others, such as calling or texting a 4C sister or getting together with a friend. Journaling and physical activity such as walking or sitting in nature were added along with reading our WFS Program booklet (Number One on the list!) Using this basic framework for maintaining sobriety, we can focus on identifying a problem, creating an action plan, and moving forward. Now I have rephrased those sentences to “Give it a try! I can do it! I am worth it!” This week, identify people in your life who model empowering problem-solving behaviors. What can you learn from them? How can you apply that to areas of your life?



Hi 4C Women,

Creating a plan for times when we are triggered, indecisive, fearful, or disappointed is key to being in charge of our responses/reactions. As I mentioned last Monday, I was so disappointed that my plans to travel home had to be canceled, yet WFS taught me to work through those feelings and have a follow-up plan. That’s exactly what I did.  I was able to put Plan B into the hopeful possibility of traveling in the Spring. If I didn’t, the cancellation would continue to be a problem that kept me in those negative feelings when there is a solution. I am a big proponent of acknowledging all my feelings. However, if they are hurting my well-being, I let them visit but not unpack their bags for a long stay.

I found that in the past I worried about everything, those everyday things so when a real issue appeared that needed a plan, input from those I trusted, and various solutions, I remained stuck. I didn’t trust my instincts and was so afraid of failure that I pretended the issue didn’t exist and went back to the comfort of worrying about everything and accomplishing nothing! It’s wonderful now to have the energy and coping tools to work on the concerns that need my attention. If I make a wrong decision, I have learned to look at it as a life lesson that I can add to my coping toolbox.

Just as I felt fear, I learned to feel confident. I also changed my thought process from what is the worst that could happen to what is the best that could happen. Just changing that one word changed my attitude which changed the way I approached an issue.

Below is a combination of questions I found on Statement #4 regarding concerns/issues that need attention. I found that in looking back at my previous answers to these questions, I have added new coping tools and lessons and areas that still need change. I like to date these types of questions so when I do them again, I can see what growth I have made and where I need to perhaps focus my attention in the present.

1.    What are the consequences of NOT changing this situation or behavior? Sometimes issues get resolved on their own yet if it is affecting our well-being in recovery, knowing the consequences will be a guide in deciding what to do or not do.

2.    How have things resolved themselves in the past? I always looked to my failures as proof that I wasn’t capable of making positive decisions. Now I include my successes as well, otherwise, it would be disrespectful to any growth I have worked hard to attain.

3.    What do I feel I have at stake in this situation? Is it the loss of a relationship, the embarrassment of speaking your voice (I related a lot to this question in the past), or the fear there will be no resolution? The answers will hopefully give you insight as to what matters most, and what you are willing to risk for your well-being, and your recovery.

4.    What’s within my control?

5.    What benefit am I getting out of keeping things the same way? (My previous answer was an eye-opener as I never thought of any benefit I was getting).

6.    Who else can help? Who is part of your support system?

7.    What’s the worse best that could happen?

8.    Do I care more than the other person in this situation? If I do, why?

9.    Do I need to review my boundaries or create boundaries that I can adhere to?  This is the follow-up to question 8 to protect your recovery and well-being.

Bonded in not letting everyday problems overwhelm you and learning to work through issues that need your attention, Dee

Virginia Tech is recruiting adults in recovery from addiction, including alcohol, for a long-term online study to learn about diverse recovery pathways. Participants in this research study (IRB# 21-697) will complete 4 surveys per year over 3 years and will be compensated for their time (up to $1,280 over 3 years). Help us help others (Phone: 540-315-0205 | Email: [email protected])!

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Monday Thoughts 7.18.22

women for sobriety journal writing image

“Anxiety happens when you think you have to figure out everything all at once. Breathe. You’re strong. You got this. Take it day by day.”
Karen Salmansohn

“Sometimes when you’re overwhelmed by a situation—when you’re in the darkest of darkness—that’s when your priorities are reordered.”
Phoebe Snow

“In any situation, you have the right, power, and ability to choose your experience.”
Iyanla Vanzant

#4 Problems bother me only to the degree I permit.

I now better understand my problems. 

I do not permit problems to overwhelm me.

Sobriety and Statement #4 in action foster presence and shifting perspectives while encouraging growth. Before New Life, it was normal to try to evade problems or simply ignore them. This only intensified feelings of anxiety and increased alcohol tenfold. Our founder, Jean Kirkpatrick, Ph.D., states it quite well in our WFS Program booklet when she remarks, “Denial became my biggest problem.”

Active addiction changes the way our brains work, and as we begin to understand our problems with a sober mind, it can feel overwhelming, which is completely normal. One of the ways that Jean practiced Statement #4 was to list her problems first, then go back and prioritize them. Focusing on what needs attention first can help direct our energy and lay a foundation for greater balance.
It is important to remember that NO ONE can solve everything all at once. Solving problems is a bit like eating an elephant; one bite at a time. I find it helpful to break down tasks and start with the most challenging first. If I delay, excuses come to mind, and my apprehension increases. This leads to feeling overwhelmed and an accumulation of the freeze/flight/fight response.

Here are four ways to help move through problems:
1. Identify the issue: Be honest. Is it within your ability to manage? Women can oftentimes take on problems that we do not own. Here, boundaries can be a great help.

2. List and prioritize: Have a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly list. For instance, each year, I schedule a mammogram and have dedicated August for this uncomfortable yet vital test. A daily list might include important phone calls or emails, again, doing the most uncomfortable first. For larger issues such as creating or improving a credit score, a timeframe is helpful which can lessen anxiety.

3. Try your options: Maybe there are multiple options for a specific issue, but it can be easy to feel paralyzed with choices. Try something. If you do not succeed the first time, you will have learned what doesn’t work and you tried. Accept success and failure as a part of life’s journey and keep going.

4. Reflect on how far you have come: We have solved many problems already. You learned to walk, tie shoes, and tell time. Same with sobriety and recovery, while you may have many firsts happening, you are also cementing new ways to face challenges. Acknowledge how hard you have worked and embrace gratitude. You are a 4C woman!


Hi 4C Women,
I am so grateful that Karen pointed out how difficult it is in early sobriety to handle authentic issues and problems. I was a worrier so rather than work on solving problems, I kept wringing my hands and solved nothing. In a way, that worked for me. To go deeper and be responsible for my decisions was pretty scary. I had no confidence in my ability to make decisions which started in my teenage years. In reflection, I realized that even as I grew older, I clung to the negative comments made to me and ignored the encouraging ones. It was as though it was my job to validate the negative. I no longer do that!

I have learned to accept the fear of making decisions, learn from my mistakes and enjoy my successes all while building my confidence in problem-solving. In my first year, this was probably one of the most challenging Statements to practice as I wanted to run, numb, and hide from problems. I knew I needed to build my confidence and the only way to do that was just that – do it! I was a bit anxious yet using the techniques Karen shared, was so helpful. After all, if the creator/ founder of WFS could find a way on her own to work through problems and share it with all of us, who was I not to give it a try. Since my divorce 28 years ago, I have made MAJOR decisions that changed the course of my life. Decisions that I never would have made if I didn’t have a clear mind, a fabulous recovery program as a guide, and taking the time and willingness to grow my confidence.

Here are some questions that might be helpful in your decision-making:

What are the consequences of NOT changing this situation or behavior?
What do I feel I have at stake in this situation?
What am I willing to let go of?
What benefit am I getting out of keeping things the same way?
Do I need to review the boundaries I have set and whether or not I am adhering to them?
Have I reached out to my support system for input, comfort, and understanding?
Do I care more than the other person in this situation? If I do, why?

That last question was a light bulb moment for me. I was working so hard at trying to support this person and realized that I cared more, put in more time and energy and nothing was changing except I felt unappreciated and then resentful. Those are my triggers. So back to boundary setting and following through.

Bonded in building problem-solving, and decision-making confidence, Dee

women for sobriety on-demand conference

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Monday Thoughts 4.18.22

women for sobriety decorative image problem

“There’s no such thing as running away from the problem.  They’re very patient and will wait a lifetime for you.”

Darnell Lamont Walker

“If you choose to not deal with an issue, then you give up your right of control over the issue and it will select the path of least resistance.”

Susan Del Gatto

“The important thing about a problem is not the solution, but the strength we gain in finding a solution.”


#4 Problems bother me only to the degree I permit.

I now better understand my problems. 

I do not permit problems to overwhelm me.

In our WFS Program booklet our founder, Jean Kirkpatrick, Ph.D. writes “My running away helped me to deny my problem. Denial became my biggest problem.” I can relate very well to these words; denial was a well-worn ploy that created even bigger problems than what lay ahead. Then everything was compounded by my drinking, which was simply another form of denial.

Sobriety and Statement #4 in action offer a pathway to first recognize, accept and move through problems. No matter the size of an issue, being able to recognize a problem as a problem is essential to discovering solutions. Once it is in view, options are available. Obviously, there is no one size fits all solution but there are many ways to overcome instead of being overwhelmed. Avoidance of alcohol never fixed anything and only served to further complicate everything.

This week, take a few minutes each morning to reflect on any issues that may be in front of you. Instead of seeking out an immediate solution, sit with it for a few minutes and allow options to come to mind. If something feels incredibly large, reach out and express any unease. Simply sharing what the problem is with a close friend can create a sturdy foundation and you may have a cheerleader to encourage you along.


Hi 4C Women,

Learning to problem-solve supports decision-making when there is a true concern. The key is to know the difference between an ordinary problem and a real issue that needs resolution. I agree with Karen that sometimes taking a few minutes to reflect rather than expecting an immediate solution is a wonderful route to take. Sharing it with a trusted friend can bring about a whole different perspective when a fresh set of ears listens.

I have had many concerns over the years and while I sometimes felt incompetent to make a sound decision, I also learned that I could make a mistake and survive, even learn from it, could reach out for input, be successful, and most importantly, build my confidence in problem-solving. I learned that focusing on ordinary, everyday problems, was just really distracting me from handling the real concerns in my life. In the beginning, I only saw the mistakes I made. Learning a lesson from mistakes – no way! I tended to punish myself which hurt my self-esteem even more and put into question any possibility of trusting my instincts or learning better problem-solving skills. Feeling overwhelmed led to numbing those thoughts. Numbing led to disappointment, discouragement, and again, self-punishment. What a profound difference in learning the lesson! Wow, I actually started trusting myself, seeking help from those who supported me, and building a toolbox of coping skills that provided me a path to becoming a 4C woman. I was certainly learning how to not let problems overwhelm me so I could focus on the real concerns. That gave me time and energy for tackling what needed my attention.

Who would or do you turn to for input?

What’s a lesson you have learned from a mistake and a success?

If your concern is about a relationship, what would you gain from resolving that conflict in a healthy, compassionate, and honest manner? Conflict is about having a problem to solve. That’s important to remember as we come to relationships with our own histories and values. I learned a lot about myself in working on conflict in relationships. I gained a sense of worthiness that before was not even a word in my vocabulary. I began to know what I needed, what I deserved, and what was a deal-breaker in dissolving or maintaining a relationship. That was powerful information. I actually put a value on myself! What is the value you put on yourself (deserve, need)?

Finally, the fear of presenting my ideas in problem-solving kept me stuck until I found my voice, spoke my voice, and felt the empowerment of doing so. And, again, I survived, thrived, and learned more lessons than if I had kept my fear in expressing my thoughts. Are you ready to learn? Give It a try as Karen suggested in reflecting, reaching out, and doing what feels right for you and your values.

Bonded in letting go of everyday problems, focusing on concerns, and learning invaluable lessons along the way, Dee

While we hope to see you in person in Portland … Early Registration savings of $50 is available until 4/22 …

Please note that on-demand registration is now open and only $25.



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Monday Thoughts 1.17.22

hand holding seedling

Monday Thoughts

“Walls turned sideways are bridges.”  ~~Angela Davis

“Fear builds its phantoms which are more fearsome than reality itself.”  ~~Jawaharlal Nehru

“Success is sometimes the outcome of a whole string of failures.”  ~~Vincent Van Gogh

#4 Problems bother me only to the degree I permit.

I now better understand my problems.

I do not permit problems to overwhelm me.

 Sober life tends to move through different stages much like the seasons. From the increasing daylight of spring and new life into summer days full of energy and brightness. Followed by fall, unfurling itself to where we are right now, wrapped up in a slower pace of hibernation and stillness, we can be reminded of how Statement #4 in action goes through the very same process.

Active addiction makes it impossible to reap a harvest of growth and blossoming relationships.  It can remove any sense of connection while digging a deep hole of loneliness.  Imbalance sets in like overgrown weeds and chokes off new seedlings.  Life and love cannot flourish without nourishment.

Sobriety and Statement #4 in action create a garden full of hope, resilience, and growth. Beautiful tall blooms of optimism, opportunity, and overcoming stand tall while layers of peace, love, and patience fill in underneath.  Covering the ground level, a vast curtain of contentment and connection fills in any bare spots, bringing a sense of balance and ease into view.  It is a garden of you, growing and evolving with the changing seasons.  What will you plant today for your future harvest?



Dear 4C Women,

I love every word of Karen’s message.  I could visualize the seasons, the garden and finally, the hope experienced in recovery.  My drinking mostly hurt the relationship I had with myself.  I made unhealthy choices and everything – I mean everything – was a problem.  I could not discern the difference between a problem and a genuine concern that needed my attention. I lacked problem-solving skills and decision-making abilities.  Because I saw everything as a problem, I was constantly overwhelmed.  Learning to understand authentic concerns was such a gift in teaching me those skills of problem-solving that drinking took away.

As I began to think clearly, I also learned to seek input, to be vulnerable, and yet know that the final decision was mine to make.  Mistakes were made yet learning was taking place.  I realized how much time I wasted on non-issues and how much more energy and time I had to tackle the real concerns facing me.  I also realized that I was using everyday problems to stop me from facing the important decisions to be made.  I was fearful of making more mistakes.  A big lesson for me was that mistakes were just that – a learning curve for the next time and that success was possible.  In fact, I probably learned a lot more by being open, willing, and vulnerable, to accept mistakes and keep moving forward.

Jean Kirkpatrick had such a clear understanding of women’s roles when she created this program back in 1975.  She understood the societal expectations of women and how that created overwhelming pressure for women who sought relief by drinking or using substances.  There was a double standard and not much support but lots of judgment.  We were expected to be the best in everything, take care of all relationships, put others before ourselves and not complain.  That certainly created a lot of overwhelming pressure.  Jean knew this and it guided her to write this empowering WFS program.  Of course, pressures still exist as women’s roles expanded.  Fortunately, through WFS, I have seen women learn to value themselves, speak their voice, practice self-care, learn coping skills that include problem-solving and decision making.  The most important thing is that there is support given and received.  We share our journey, women strong, compassionate and caring.

Bonded in planting our future harvest of hope, resilience, and supporting each other along the way, Dee


Do you have a particular interest or expertise that you can share with the WFS community during our 2022 Annual Conference?

WFS is planning for our in-person conference and seeking workshop presenters for the event.  The conference theme of “Bloom” opens up a very wide range of potential workshop topics related to recovery and emotional and spiritual growth.

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

Proposals for workshop topics are due January 31st, 2022.

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Monday Thoughts 10/18/2021

“I encourage people to remember that “no” is a complete sentence.”  ~~Gavin de Becker

“To be aggressive is to decide for others. To be assertive is to decide for yourself. And to trust that there is enough, that you are enough.”  ~~Edith Eva Eger

“Assertiveness is not what you do, it’s who you are!”  ~~Shakti Gawain

#4 Problems bother me only to the degree I permit.

I now better understand my problems.

I do not permit problems to overwhelm me.

Standing in strength is just one of the many incredible benefits of sobriety and recovery. In the past there was a time when I either cowered down in fear or aggressively lashed out. There was no in-between. Both were fear responses to problems and neither worked to solve anything. Usually, the situation worsened and left me searching for ways to then escape (alcohol). Yet sobriety and Statement #4 in action enabled a shift from fear, to understanding and a middle ground.

In our WFS Reflections for Growth it states “Children very rarely have many choices. Their lives are dictated by those who raise them. Because we all grow up in an atmosphere of being told what we should do, it is often difficult for us to assert ourselves later in life. Assertiveness needs practice. This is something I will learn and practice. I will assert myself and do this.”  Just as we learn how to live in sobriety, we learn how to stand in our strength.

Here are five ways to incorporate assertive communication into your life by Elizabeth Scott, PhD:

“1. Be Factual About What You Don’t Like

When approaching someone about a behavior you’d like to see changed, stick to factual descriptions of what they’ve done, rather than using negative labels or words that convey judgments. For example:

Situation: Your friend, who habitually runs late, has shown up 20 minutes late for a lunch date.
Inappropriate (aggressive) response: “You’re so rude! You’re always late.”
Assertive communication: “We were supposed to meet at 11:30, but now it’s 11:50.”

Don’t assume you know what the other person’s motives are, especially if you think they’re negative. In this situation, don’t assume that your friend deliberately arrived late because they didn’t want to come or because they value their own time more than yours.

2. Don’t Judge or Exaggerate

Being factual about what you don’t like in someone’s behavior, without overdramatizing or judging, is an important start. The same is true for describing the effects of their behavior. Don’t exaggerate, label, or judge; just describe:

Inappropriate response: “Now, lunch is ruined.”
Assertive communication: “Now, I have less time to spend at lunch because I still need to be back to work by 1:00.”

Body language and tone of voice matter in assertive communication. Let yours reflect your confidence: Stand up straight, maintain eye contact, and relax. Use a firm but pleasant tone.

3. Use “I” Messages

When you start a sentence with “You…”, it comes off as a judgment or an attack and puts people on the defensive. If you start with “I,” the focus is more on how you are feeling and how you are affected by their behavior.

Also, it shows more ownership of your reactions and less blame. This helps minimize defensiveness in the other person, model the act of taking responsibility, and move you both toward positive change.5 For example:

You Message: “You need to stop that!”
I Message: “I’d like it if you’d stop that.”

When in a discussion, don’t forget to listen and ask questions. It’s important to understand the other person’s point of view.

4. Put It All Together

Here’s a great formula that puts it all together:

“When you [their behavior], I feel [your feelings].”

When used with factual statements, rather than judgments or labels, this formula provides a direct, non-attacking, more responsible way of letting people know how their behavior affects you. For example: “When you yell, I feel attacked.”

5. List behavior, results, and feelings.

A more advanced variation of this formula includes the results of their behavior (again, put into factual terms), and looks like this:

“When you [their behavior], then [results of their behavior], and I feel [how you feel].”

For example: “When you arrive late, I have to wait, and I feel frustrated.”

Or, “When you tell the kids they can do something that I’ve already forbidden, some of my authority as a parent is taken away, and I feel undermined.”

Try to think win-win: See if you can find a compromise or a way for you both to get your needs met. In the case of the always-late friend, maybe a different meeting place would help them be on time. Or you can choose to make plans only at times when your schedule is more open and their lateness won’t cause you as much stress.”

This week, look for opportunities to practice assertive communication. It can feel uncomfortable at first yet over time these actions build on themselves and cement Statement #4 in our New Life.



Hi 4C Women,

I almost wanted to respond to this scenario about the habitually late friend that I assertively left the restaurant, gave an assertive and respectful note to the server to give my habitually late friend and hoped she learned that everyone’s time is valuable.  However, I can see that some lessons in approaching others and being assertive needs more detailed guidance and definitely practice.

My granddaughter is habitually late so the specific scenario in assertiveness about lateness touched home and I thought about how I have handled “Amber time” over the years.  I started giving her earlier times but unfortunately that didn’t work.  One Thanksgiving, after waiting for an extraordinary length of time, we just decided to go ahead and eat rather than let everything go cold, especially since she wasn’t bringing anything except her adorable presence to the table and my daughter and I were exhausted from cooking both the night before and the day of Thanksgiving.

Well, that didn’t work out well at all.  Hurt feelings and a not so thankful day.  This message will provide a better way, I am hoping, to future Thanksgivings and gatherings I have never been aggressive yet I have also not been assertive until lately.  Something about aging and setting boundaries has taken hold and I am grateful.  I have always been one to watch my words as I know they are powerful.  Words can hurt or heal and the delivery of them has power as well (point #2).

I believe assertiveness is about respect for each other.  While I consider myself a good listener, it is clear that I need to practice listening first in certain situations before I jump to judgment and then use the “I” message with facts and feelings as suggested.

Think about the last time you were assertive.  Were you pleased with the results?  Is there something you might have done differently after learning the 5 ways shared above.  We are fortunate to be able to continue learning ways to create positive communication in our New Life.

Bonded in empowering assertiveness, Dee

Sister Skills
Don’t forget to join the New Life Program Connection – Women For Sobriety Facebook group for support right on your newsfeed. You will also have access to free live presentations like this!
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Monday Thoughts 7/19/2021

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

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

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

#4 Problems bother me only to the degree I permit.

I now better understand my problems.

I do not permit problems to overwhelm me.

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

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

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



Hi 4C Women,

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

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

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

She described that being overwhelmed involved beliefs such as:

1. Other people’s needs come above my own

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

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

4. I don’t deserve better

5. I can’t cope

6. Things have to be done in a certain way

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

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

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

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


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

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

For WFS Certified Facilitators Only

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Monday Thoughts 4/19/2021

“Change your perception of things and you will change your reality.”  ~~Anonymous

“We can’t choose the filters that others choose when they look at us.”  ~~Anonymous

“What screws us up most in life is the picture in our head of how it is supposed to be.”  ~~Anonymous

#4 Problems bother me only to the degree I permit.

I now better understand my problems.

I do not permit problems to overwhelm me.

Perception can be such an illusion; some problems can appear one way, yet can be seen completely different in another.  Sobriety and recovery can have that same perception or filter on it.  Before New Life, sobriety was something dreadful and felt impossible, but on the other side, recovery can feel as natural as breathing.  Problems can be affected by perception as well, and Statement #4 in action helps to identify, experience and move through problems we face.

In the past, alcohol or drugs were band-aids used to cover pain, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual.  Today, using empowering techniques, problems gain understanding and can be moved through with new found clarity and purpose.  Changing perspective is one technique that can have shift outcomes or conclusions. Here are some ways to help modify perspective by Lyssa deHart, author and Executive and Whole Life Coach:

1. Other people’s opinion of you is none of your business:

Once you let go of other people’s opinions, you can focus on your own opinions.  This helps you to align you with your values.

2. Look at the impact:

How many times have you worried about something and it never happened?  Like a line from a Tom Petty song “I’m so tired of being tired.  As sure as night will follow day, most things I worry about never happen anyway.”

3. Seek a win/win solution:

It takes a willingness to suspend our own perspective long enough to listen to what someone else is saying.  As we listen, if we can open our minds and listen to understand, we build trust.  Once we have a deeper understanding of what is motivating the other person’s position, we can look at our own deeper motivations.

4. Narrow your focus to what matters most:

Let’s say life gives you an energy pie every day.  Here’s the deal though, you only ever get one pie a day.  How will you slice your pie?  When our attention is focused everywhere, we can get stuck in overwhelm.  Your ability to choose the best course of action can get mired in all the information that you need to make a decision.  By narrowing your focus to the top 2 or 3 things that are important, you give yourself space to breathe and decide.

Where can you shift a perspective in your life?





Hi 4C Women,

A few years ago, Karen shared that sometimes she uses the word “change” in place of the word “problems.”  That has stayed with me.  WFS is all about change – the change in thoughts that lead to a change in our actions/behaviors.  At one time, problems bothered me to the point that it became a habit.  I’ve heard that in order to give up a habit, it needs to be replaced with another one – a healthier one, of course!  Slowly, by changing my immediate response to anything that felt like a huge problem (which was just about everything), I began to recognize the difference between a problem and a concern.

Just exchanging that one word helped me to identify an issue that needed resolving and a non-issue (ordinary, everyday problems) that I could release from my immediate negative response and mindset.  That sure left a lot of time and energy into learning problem-solving techniques to issues that were of utmost importance to me.   There was a time when I feared sharing my concerns with others.  Would they be judgmental, think my solution was ridiculous?  That fear was one I held close to my heart – the fear of rejection.  Slowly, as point 1 suggests, I had to value myself enough, my willingness to take risks in decision-making and while asking for input, understand that the decision is just that – MY decision, my consequences, my learning process.

What I appreciate about WFS is that part of the guidelines is to listen, give input if you have had a similar experience that has been resolved successfully in your life and to leave judgment and advice out of it.  That was part of my healing in facing the fear of rejection.  I felt safe to share, to know I was being heard and that caring, compassionate input was waiting for me.

One last thing I learned about myself.  I can handle those ordinary everyday problems yet if there are 3-4 in one brief period of time, I feel anxious and worried.  How can I do this all on my own?  Sometimes I can’t.  I learned to ask for help.  I learned that it’s okay to feel this way and not to start feeling badly about those feelings as they are temporary.  Just acknowledging that helps so much.

I shared this once before and I’d like to do so again as it helps me make that distinction between worry and concern:

  • 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

Bonded in learning that decision-making is working through concerns and problems bother us only to the degree we permit, Dee

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Contact Jenn @ [email protected]
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Monday Thoughts 1/18/2021

“You are allowed to be both a Masterpiece and a Work in Progress simultaneously.”  ~~Unknown

“I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.”  ~~Rosa Parks

“You can’t calm the storm, so stop trying.  What you can do is calm yourself.  The storm will pass.”  ~~Timber Hawkeye

#4 Problems bother me only to the degree I permit.

I now better understand my problems.

I do not permit problems to overwhelm me.

Statement #4 in daily action encourages trust, effort and understanding.  Before sobriety and New Life, escapism was a go-to response. Drinking or using at a problem created more problems and solved nothing.  Like a fearful child hiding under the bed, it was a repeated option. Yet today, thanks in part to our WFS Statements and the many strong 4C women who embrace recovery and live fully, overwhelming fear does not hold up to the WFS Statements in action.

Understanding that there are options in managing difficulties in life creates feelings of courage, strength, and resiliency.  Obviously, some problems are easier to manage than others, yet at their core each issue comes with an opportunity to grow in mind, body, and spirit.  The feelings of accomplishment when overcoming something that once paralyzed is almost indescribable and lays the foundation for further realization and motivation.

The WFS Online Forum and F2F groups (currently online due to COVID-19) offer extraordinary support when facing a challenge or problem.  Learning about different techniques to solve problems can uplift and encourage.  In my opinion, 4C women are the best cheerleaders! From decision making skills to setting new goals, there is much to learn, practice and apply.  This week take time to reflect on how far you have come and how you manage difficulties with a sober, clear mind.   Is there an area that you need assistance in?  Where do you do well?  Share your insights or detail in a journal.  Below is the “IDEAL” (Identify, Define, Explore, Act, Learn) technique for moving through a problem:

    1. Identify: What is the problem?  Who does it belong to?  Women can at times, take on issues that belong to someone else.
    2. Define: Define the cause. There may be layers to get to root cause. Uncover.
    3. Explore:  Explore possible strategies and options.  Discuss for input
    4. Act:  Put in the effort, try, not everything attempted will lead to a solution.  Time can be a factor as well.
    5. Look and Learn:  Did it work?  What did you learn?  Begin the process again if needed.



Hi 4C Women,

The IDEAL techniques are such an extraordinary tool in practicing Statement #4.  As this is the celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, I was imagining all the problems and priorities he had to set to pursue a peaceful way to racial justice.  I worked on the MLK, Jr. committee in Teaneck, NJ, and also created a few programs on racial understanding while I worked at the YWCA.  It opened up a whole new way of seeking solutions to problems and learning how to set priorities in the process.  Karen said it so well – “Understanding that there are options in managing difficulties in life creates feelings of courage, strength, and resiliency.”  What a powerful image of being open to explore options, to make mistakes, learn another “option” and grow in our courage, strength and resiliency.

I have been facilitating WFS meetings since 1989 and I must say that in the beginning, I took on other people’s issues, working hard at solving their problems.  I realized soon enough I was using it as a distraction from solving and setting my own priorities.  I am grateful that I also learned the huge difference from supporting, encouraging and sharing insights from my life experience and actually trying to solve another person’s problems.  In learning this big lesson, I also understood that I was taking away the opportunity for any woman to learn by exploring her personal options and in the process, gain emotional and personal growth.  Again, it goes back to the powerful message Karen shared of each woman creating hew own courage, strength and resiliency.

I was thinking of a recent problem I had and #2 was calling my name.  It involved my ex-husband.  The problem could be solved with patience but it also meant communicating effectively.  The old feelings of being controlled, ignored and feeling ignorant came back full force.  I thought of a few solutions and if they didn’t work out, I had another plan or two.  It is amazing how much that calmed me down and the feeling of empowerment was growing.  Sadly, we don’t communicate and that is something I worked on over the past 27 years of my divorce and 27 years of marriage.  Wow, 54 years of working on communication.  That’s a lot of work.

I am no longer in fear yet I also couldn’t deny old feelings coming back.  Just acknowledging those fears, gave me pause and I told myself I am no longer that weak, fearful woman.  Heck, I almost broke out in Helen Reddy’s song, “I am Woman, Hear me roar!  I share this because I hope every woman reading this message knows and realizes that while the process of problem solving and setting priorities takes time, it is absolutely possible.  Using the IDEAL technique is a wonderful way to do it.

Bonded in problem-solving, setting priorities and being empowered in your personal growth, Dee

Be sure to read the WFS Winter Newsletter

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Monday Thoughts 10/19/2020

“A problem well stated is a problem half solved.”  ~~John Dewey

“I can be changed by what happens to me, but I refuse to be reduced by it.”  ~~Maya Angelou

“If you choose to not deal with an issue, then you give up your right of control over the issue and it will select the path of least resistance.”  ~~Susan Del Gatto

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

Sobriety and Statement #4 in action fuel determination and decrease worry.  In our WFS Reflections for Growth booklet our founder, Jean Kirkpatrick writes “Worry is the antithesis of overcoming.  We worry when the conditions overwhelm us.  Overcoming is when we overwhelm the problem.”

The beginning of problem solving in my New Life came in early sobriety.  Right away my focus was on staying sober every day and I did not take on anything large.  The WFS Online Forum connected and introduced me to women who were taking charge of their life and problems. The input from veteran WFS sisters was invaluable and life changing. Soon I was practicing new tools and beginning to feel capable. Like a sponge I soaked up information that would help cement my progress and instill balance.

Here are a few tools and techniques to aid in problem solving gleaned from competent women:

1.      Define the problem.   What is the core issue?  Is there more than one issue?  Choose one to focus.

2.      Whose problem is it?  Does this issue truly belong to you?

3.      Apply the SMART technique to the problem.  Smart is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Action/Attainable, Realistic and Timely/Time frame.

4.      Evaluate results.  Did your action/inaction solve the issue?

5.      Journal the problem.  Sometimes just writing it down gets it out of our head to where we can think clearer or with fresh perspective.

6.      You are not alone.  Chances are you are not the first person to experience this issue.  Reach out, talk about the issue with someone you trust.

7.      Listen for feedback. While some people may tend to try to solve a problem for us, is there a solution that you have not tried yet? Listen to feedback or different perspectives.

8.      Shelve an issue but add a deadline.  Maybe you do not have all the information needed yet to solve the issue.  Hold off but stay mindful that you will return to it.

9.      5 Why’s. This technique aids in identifying root causes.

10.   Release shame blame or guilt.  None of these will help solve a problem and can stand in the way of moving through it.

11.   Reframe the story.  You are the author of your mind and your story. You can edit and reframe how you tell an experience/story.  Look for the helpers.

12.    Embrace gray areas/alter expectations.  Instead of strict black and white thinking, embrace gray areas and alter expectations for increased balance.

13.   Consider additional support.  Some issues or problems can be difficult to maneuver alone.  Consider professional support and/or therapy to move through the problem when feeling stuck or unable to solve.

What other tools do you use to problem solve?



Hi 4C Women,

So many fabulous tips on problem solving.  The 5 whys intrigued me as I sometimes get lost in the problem/issue that the core root is not obvious to me.  Identifying the core root helps me take responsibility for my actions and also in creating needed changes in my thoughts/actions.  One of my whys in respect to my current situation would be why I am continually frustrated with a certain family member.  The first why would be I have not set firm boundaries. The second why would be not wanting to hurt that person when they are in a vulnerable place.  The third why is I feel inadequate in providing guidance that will be heard.  The fourth why is in some way I feel responsible. The fifth why is I’m angry at myself for not setting those firm boundaries in the beginning.  This leads me to my core issue – I feel responsible (guilty) and yet it is out of my control.  So, while I recognize the problem really isn’t mine, it affects my life greatly.  A very challenging situation yet there are 12 other phenomenal tips to work with from Karen’s message.  It’s ironic and so appropriate for me that tip #10 follows the 5 Whys as that tip reflects the guilt I am feeling. Tip #10 is a good reminder that guilt does nothing to help me move forward.

It’s been said that there is a payback when we continue to hold on to a situation or person that hurts us.  I think that is another important consideration when it comes to problem solving.  I often ask myself what benefit am I getting out of keeping things the same way.  My answer is usually fear of destroying the relationship or making the wrong decision.  That leads to the question of what would be the consequence of such an outcome.  How important is the relationship that continually holding back a hurt becomes acceptable?  How would discussing a problem authentically and respectfully be so harmful that it would end the relationship?  Yes, problems bother me only to the degree I permit which begs the question, just how much am I permitting?  How do I create a balance so the fear becomes less and I become the author of my story going forward?  Much to figure out and that is the beauty of the WFS program.  It asks us to be honest with ourselves, to uncover our fears and discover the power within us that makes us what we’ve always been – 4C women capable of making positive changes, reducing our fears, learning from our mistakes and standing strong in our own power!

Bonded in healing and helping each other in problem solving, Dee