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Monday Thoughts 1.30.23

teddy bear challenge

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

Unknown

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

Brianna West

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

Lori Deschene


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

Greatness is mine by a conscious effort.


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

As a part of the New Attitudes with Level 4, action into Statement #6 provides growth and expands gratefulness. In our WFS Program booklet it states, “Although we only get a one-way ticket through life, we speed through our days as if planning to enjoy them at another time. We live as if we have endless tomorrows.” Alcohol removed the ability to fully experience life but embracing moments became a new habit through sobriety.

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

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Contact [email protected] if you are interested.

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Monday Thoughts 10.31.22

“The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all, the world needs dreamers who do.”

Sarah Ban Breathnach

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic within it.”
Goethe

“Be brave and create the life of your dreams. Dare to strive for the spectacular.”

Amy Leigh Mercree


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

Greatness is mine by a conscious effort.


Many dreams before sobriety and recovery were all about wanting the anxiety and emotional pain to end. Life did not feel ordinary at all, and forget great, life felt scary and downright unfair. Why did other people seem to have all the luck? As I drank at the imagined unfairness of it all, my brain could not begin to dream of anything but escaping the mental anguish. Sobriety and Statement #6 open a pathway to building aspirations and living a conscious life.

Dreams are important because they give an inside look at what can bring inner joy to life. A dream can be as simple as learning a new skill or visiting a long-awaited place. A dear friend always wanted to visit Disney when she was younger. As an adult, she gave that dream a deadline and took small actions toward her goal. It took time, yet she became the hero of her own story with conscious effort.

Our WFS Program booklet states “Sobriety is a rewarding experience for those who invest in the moments of each day.” Learning to invest or be consciously aware of moments can build a base for dreams to take hold. A useful tool here is visualization: forming a mental image to create a pathway toward a dream, or it can even help move through difficult feelings or situations. Imagining myself on a beach, smelling the salty air, and listening to the ebb and flow of the waves helped me move through intense cravings, plus motivated me to make that dream a reality. How will you practice Statement #6 this week?

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

As I read Karen’s thoughts, I wondered how my dreams have changed over the years. I am not sure that I dreamt a lot while drinking for fear of being disappointed. What if I put all that effort into creating a dream I visualized and I failed? Actually, failing felt familiar. I anticipated it. Over time, through the WFS Program, I realized that I learned many life lessons and coping tools in unmet dreams. I began to appreciate the ordinary – being clear-minded to recognize how peaceful life could be without the drama or fear of failing. I realized I was resilient in dealing with unmet dreams. After all, I could dream another dream and that became greatness. I sometimes would change the word dream to goal, desire, vision, or yearning. It’s amazing how they all have a similar meaning yet feel somewhat different.

What I love about the WFS program is that it is a process that gives me the opportunity to learn, and appreciate the joy I had ignored for so long. That awareness took away a lot of my fears, and disappointments, and guided me to be willing to embrace change, to learn, and to be realistic about what I needed and how to survive the outcome, even successful outcomes. Now that may seem odd but when you’re used to failing or being disappointed, it might be uncomfortable or awkward to accept and enjoy a successful outcome. So, now I survive and thrive each outcome. What a huge difference Statement #6 made in my recovery. The awareness, and acceptance that great things, big and small, do and will happen, is a life changer. While life will always present struggles, it also gives joy. I have been blessed to acknowledge the struggles and the joys. It’s made my life more balanced and prepared me to cope without using alcohol to numb, escape or pretend everything is okay. This is the progress of the process I wish for each of you.

How would you describe greatness in your life?

What is your current dream, goal, vision, desire, or yearning?

Do you have a plan/plans to work towards it?

What coping tools do you use when disappointment is the outcome?

Do you feel a balance, understanding that there will always be struggles along with joy?

Are you aware of your joy? How do you celebrate joy?

What is the greatest life lesson you have learned so far?

 

Bonded in awareness of joy, and learning coping tools as you grow and change, Dee


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Monday Thoughts 8.1.22

women for sobriety decorative image woman stretching

“When was the last time you spent a quiet moment just doing nothing—just sitting and looking at the sea, or watching the wind blowing the tree limbs, or waves rippling a pond, a flickering candle or children playing in the park?”

Ralph Marston

“It may look like I’m doing nothing, but in my head I’m quite busy.”

Anonymous

“Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.”

A.A. Milne


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

Greatness is mine by a conscious effort.


Pausing to think about it for a moment, sobriety is not doing something. Whatever that something is, the not doing of it…whether it be alcohol or another substance, is sobriety. Our founder, Jean Kirkpatrick, Ph.D. knew that there was much more to life in sobriety. Jean created WFS and our Thirteen Statements of Acceptance so that we could recover and discover. Sobriety leads the way, and Statement #6 aids in developing an expansive New Life.

For a long time, I assumed that being busy meant that I was living fully. Yet that busyness created more anxiety without really going anywhere. It felt cartoonish with my feet in a circular motion while the rest of me stood still. Alcohol became an escape, and I remained stuck, missing out on life. Our WFS Program booklet reminds us, “Although we only get a one-way ticket through life, we speed through our days as if planning to enjoy them at another time. We live as if we have an endless number of tomorrows.”

Statement #6 gives us direction to savor the stillness. Ordinary moments that once felt boring or uneventful are now in fact, filled with contentment. It feels immensely gratifying to close my eyes at night, knowing that I was a participant in the entire day. Feelings of guilt or regret dissipate as I consciously give myself permission to “do nothing” and simply be. These mini-time-outs refresh my mind and spirit, re-energizing and uplifting me to new heights. This week, carve out time to be present, connect and savor the moment.

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

I absolutely, positively love Karen’s message about being still, simply be or do nothing without feeling guilty. WOW! That is a different perspective on living the greatness of the ordinary and so much truth in it. I have to say that I thought I had to be overly busy to create greatness and if I wasn’t, the guilt would come and I would try harder. I now realize that sobriety is meant to be joyful and fulfilling, and being busy to fill up the time is not exactly creating a balance that provides those feelings. However, I understand in the beginning that being busy is very helpful. At least it was for me. After all, I was happy to have my junk drawers and closets cleaned out as I have heard from many women over the years feeling the exact same way. It felt like cleansing and release of the energy built up from resisting the desire to drink or use other substances. It helped quiet the loud thoughts in my head by having something physical to do that didn’t require a huge thought process.

Unfortunately for me, it wasn’t lasting fulfillment or contentment of being sober. It was more of a stepping stone to uncovering and discovering what greatness meant to me on an ordinary day in my ordinary life. I was actually grateful for the ordinary rather than the chaos of my drinking days. My initial thoughts were so negative as I tried to understand how to create this ordinary life into one of greatness.  I finally realized that ordinary wasn’t so bad. I began to enjoy the moments of peace but never connected it to this Statement in the way that Karen has expressed herein that life can be both ordinary and great together. Rather than separating them, I am going to combine them to know what is important to me in creating an ordinary life of greatness and how to achieve it. In other words, create a balance, freeing me from useless guilt. I encourage those who are working on gaining sobriety by being busy, to just keep doing what works for you now! This is why Karen’s thoughts resonated with me when she spoke about guilt in doing nothing as I was experiencing guilt in doing too much. I needed and was surprised by the awareness that sometimes there is also guilt in doing too much. Again, it’s all about balance and feeling alright with where ever we are at this moment. I slowly understood that I was blocking the awareness needed to create a balance. I still love organizing yet if it becomes a defense to having balance and appreciating both stillness and hard work, I need to acknowledge that. Always remember that recovery is a process that we need to embrace as we learn and grow.

This week try to be conscious of how you practice Statement #6. What are you discovering about yourself? What awareness do you have of how ordinary fits into the greatness of your life? If you discover what you need to add or remove from your day, think about how you can do that. Create a plan that works for you. You deserve greatness in this ordinary life; however, you define it!

Bonded in uncovering and discovering what greatness in the ordinary means specifically to each of you, Dee


Women for Sobriety is asking women who use the New Life Program to take our 2022 Member Survey! This survey is designed to help WFS understand your needs, experiences, and satisfaction with the New Life Program by asking these types of questions:

  • About your substance use and its impact(s) on your life
  • About your recovery and your use of the New Life Program

We want to assure you that your responses in this survey are completely anonymous, and cannot be traced back to the respondent. No personally identifiable information is captured. Additionally, your responses are combined with those of many others and summarized in a report to further protect your anonymity.

TAKE THE SURVEY

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Monday Thoughts 5.2.22

woman smiling in sunset from window life is great

“The best way to find out what we really need is to get rid of what we don’t.”

Marie Kondo

“I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things in life which are the real ones after all.”

Laura Ingalls Wilder

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

J.R.R. Tolkien


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

Greatness is mine by a conscious effort.


Statement #6 can sometimes get pushed out of the way while more focus is spent on the seemingly larger Statements like S#4 or S#7. Yet, it is the simplicity of this delightful Statement that can make my day shine like a brand-new penny or bring about comfort like a favorite worn sweatshirt. All it takes is a little “conscious effort” and daily practice.

Before sobriety and my New Life, days were filled with trying to out-do everything previous or an attempt to escape. Unaware of my thoughts, it was impossible to use conscious effort in anything. Lacking the tools to manage feelings and emotions, I bounced off everything like a pinball, blaming or lashing out at others then sliding into isolation. It felt so chaotic, and it was incredibly exhausting.

Sobriety and practicing Statement #6 paved the way to experience life from an unfamiliar perspective. Through WFS face-to-face and online meetings, I began to learn new ways to actively participate in life. Moments became meaningful, and simplicity started to become the norm. I felt contentment ease in, while chaos decreased. Additionally, I no longer felt attached to drama. Such a gratifying way to live!

Here are four ways to add mindfulness

  1. Sit in stillness each morning after reading the Statements. Give yourself an extra 5 or 10 minutes to simply enjoy being. No pressure to do, give, or make anything, simply be.
  2. Focus on being present multiple times during the day. Maybe set a timer for each hour, notice how you feel, what you are thinking or doing, and just breathe for 1 minute.
  3. Shift into gratitude. List five things that you are grateful for each day. Jot in a journal or notebook. Reread when feeling uncertainty or fear.
  4. Trust and let go. Something weighing you down? Is holding on helping? What will it take to release?

Hugzzz,

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

As I read Karen’s message, I was thinking of how much the pandemic taught me to be okay with my ordinary New Life in recovery. It’s been many years since I discovered and began to practice the 13 WFS Statements yet I am so grateful for the coping tools I have learned. The isolation was the most challenging during the pandemic as I feel such joy being “with” people. I laughed when I saw a post on social media that said going grocery shopping was now considered their social outing. That was me! I wasn’t escaping through alcohol to cope with loneliness or belittling myself for not taking better advantage of my free time. I learned how to zoom, continued writing, calling, or emailing my family and friends and women inquiring about WFS. I felt peace among the challenges. When I didn’t, when the loneliness would kick in, I reached out. I have gone back to f2f meetings every 2nd and 4th Monday of the month. This past Monday I had 4 new women attend. My heart was exploding with joy and thinking of the courage it took for each of those women to walk through the door. I actually felt nervous as I love WFS so much and hoped the women could feel that love coming through, especially the hope of having a New Life in recovery.

I also had women there who have been consistently attending, supporting and encouraging each other. They absolutely made the meeting a welcoming place for the new women, perhaps recalling their own bravery in coming to a meeting for the first time. I felt the greatness of their compassion and caring for every woman there. Talk about life being ordinary or great!

I came across a message I wrote about the great moments I had with my granddaughter when she was a teenager. She is now 25. It is amazing how I had forgotten how much I treasured those moments and am so grateful I wrote about them. Something as simple as clothes shopping or big as watching her compete in barrel racing. It is being aware, being in the moment, that helps us to understand and appreciate those fleeting moments, those enormous moments and have them bring the ordinary into greatness.

I hope you will put into practice what Karen has suggested. Writing about gratefulness can be a place to visit when we need a personal reminder of what is positive in our lives – a wonderful balance.

Bonded in creating balance as we experience the ordinary and the extraordinary, Dee


 

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS

jolene park

Jolene Park

Author of Gray Area Drinking
Functional Nutritionist, Health Coach

eboni jewel sears

Eboni Jewel Sears

Peer Recovery Support Specialist
Recovery Advocate
Ph.D. Student in Transpersonal Counseling

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Monday Thoughts 1.31.22

life is great

Monday Thoughts

“Don’t plan it all. Let life surprise you a little.”  ~~Julia Alverez

“If one has no sense of humor, one is in trouble.”  ~~Betty White

“I’m all about spontaneity.  I think it makes for greatness.”  ~~Camille Kostek


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

Greatness is mine by a conscious effort.


Laughter and spontaneity oftentimes go hand and hand. Take a moment to just reflect back on the last time you really busted out laughing; maybe you were laughing so hard you had tears running down your face or even had to pause to catch your breath.  You couldn’t script that moment any more than you could stop your giggling.  In sobriety and recovery, it is essential to be able to laugh and to embrace the moment.

Statement #6 in action encourages presence and that includes laughter.  Sobriety is not the end of joyful moments, rather it is the beginning of a New Life which includes laughter, giggles, chortles, and cackles.And where there is laughter, there is a sense of spontaneity that can bring out the child in each of us.

This week, look for and find ways to open yourself up to laughter.  Sometimes it can feel like there is so much chaos and heaviness going on in the world right now yet allowing laughter to permeate your senses can alleviate some of that weight.  This was especially helpful for me in early sobriety; watching comedies each week, if not daily allowed me to connect to my emotions and feelings.  It felt like a jump start into recovery.  Make it your mission this week to let go of rigidity, welcome laughter and make every day special!

Hugzzz

Karen

Dear 4C Women,

I had major technical issues on Wednesday night.  My smoke alarm went on for 20 minutes until I finally figured out which unit was causing the ear shattering problem and was also hurting my dog’s ears, my DIRECTV sent a message that my Genie hard drive was broken and needed to be replaced and then my landline stopped working as it was decided to turn off that breaker to see if it would stop the smoke alarm from its screeching sound.  I was not laughing.  However, I was fortunate to have the best neighbors who were there to help me.  When I reflect on that night, it would have made a great comedy of errors.  It was not an ordinary night yet it was one filled with gratitude for helpful, caring neighbors.  Shockingly, a new hard drive was delivered the next morning and my neighbor installed it with ease that afternoon.  Poor guy even tried to teach me a few tips on how to program the remote.  I have a daily calendar and the quote for that Wednesday was: Today’s Forecast: 100% FANTASTIC!  Now that made me laugh.  I needed that as I collapsed on the sofa. 

I have had women share that they felt flat when they became sober.  I feel Jean understood this feeling and created Statement #6 to give us hope and direction to experience moments of our New Life as joyful, becoming spontaneous in that joy and having awareness of its impact on our daily lives.  For me, it does not mean denying or ignoring the tough times.  It means acknowledging the great moments when they happen and relish them as treasures to be recalled when we have that flat feeling.  I actually began enjoying celebrations as a sober woman.  I was in the moment and it was one of the greatest gifts of sobriety.  I had fun, I laughed, I remembered the moments. 

Here’s what I love about spontaneity.  The word itself says it’s not planned which in the past I found myself thinking I had to plan fun.  It wasn’t a moment that happened, it was a detailed plan such as a vacation or event that was going to be fun and that’s that!  If my plan didn’t turn out to be fun, I started all that negative self-talk that I wasn’t deserving of fun.  I really screwed up and I’ll never have fun ever again in my life.  The all or nothing thinking.  Nancy Cross once wrote to focus on the end result, not the how, which is how I was living my life.  Well, as I began to practice Statement #6, I found myself laughing at small things like the kid next door who came over one Christmas and started turning on all my musical snowmen of which there are many and laughing so hard.  He also had an iPad that he selected a Michael Jackson song to play and started singing along and dancing around the room.   He showed me exactly what spontaneous meant.  I found myself laughing more often because I was learning to be in the moment.  So, think about the last time you spontaneously laughed, what actions can you take to bond yourself to living life in the now and what is “your” definition of greatness in sobriety/recovery.  I hope you will consider Karen’s suggestions and find yourself in the light of unexpected joyful laughter this week and keep practicing it. 

Bonded in learning to be in the moment and experiencing authentic joy, Dee


Dear 4C Women,
I had major technical issues on Wednesday night.  My smoke alarm went on for 20 minutes until I finally figured out which unit was causing the ear shattering problem and was also hurting my dog’s ears, my DIRECTV sent a message that my Genie hard drive was broken and needed to be replaced and then my landline stopped working and it was decided to turn off that breaker to see if it would stop the smoke alarm from its screeching sound.  I was not laughing.  However, I was fortunate to have the best neighbors who were there to help me.  When I reflect on that night, it made a great comedy of errors.  It was not an ordinary night, yet it was one filled with gratitude for helpful, caring neighbors.  Shockingly, a new hard drive was delivered the next morning and my neighbor installed it with ease that afternoon.  Poor guy even tried to teach me a few tips on how to program the remote.

I have a daily calendar and the quote for that Wednesday was: Today’s Forecast: 100% FANTASTIC!  Now that made me laugh.  I needed that as I collapsed on the sofa. 

I have had women share that they felt flat when they became sober.  I feel Jean understood this feeling and created Statement #6 to give us hope and direction to experience moments of our New Life as joyful, becoming spontaneous in that joy, and having awareness of its impact on our daily lives.  For me, it does not mean denying or ignoring the tough times.  It means acknowledging the great moments when they happen and relishing them as treasures to be recalled when we have that flat feeling.  I actually began enjoying celebrations as a sober woman.  I was in the moment and it was one of the greatest gifts of sobriety.  I had fun, I laughed, I remembered the moments. 

Here’s what I love about spontaneity.  The word itself says it’s not planned which in the past I found myself thinking I had to plan fun.  It wasn’t a moment that happened, it was a detailed plan such as a vacation or event that was going to be fun and that’s that!  If my plan didn’t turn out to be fun, I started all that negative self-talk that I wasn’t deserving of fun.  I really screwed up and I’ll never have fun ever again in my life.  The all-or-nothing thinking.  Nancy Cross once wrote that we should focus on the end result, not the how, which is how I was living my life.  Well, as I began to practice Statement #6, I found myself laughing at small things like the kid next door who came over one Christmas and started turning on all my musical snowmen of which there are many, and laughing so hard.  He also had an iPad that he selected a Michael Jackson song to play and started singing along and dancing around the room.   He showed me exactly what spontaneous meant.  I found myself laughing more often because I was learning to be in the moment.

So, think about the last time you spontaneously laughed, what actions can you take to bond yourself to living life in the now, and what is “your” definition of greatness in sobriety/recovery.  I hope you will consider Karen’s suggestions and find yourself in the light of unexpected joyful laughter this week and keep practicing it. 

Bonded in learning to be in the moment and experiencing authentic joy, Dee


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Monday Thoughts 11/1/2021

“A garden requires patient labor and attention. Plants do not grow merely to satisfy ambitions or to fulfill good intentions. They thrive because someone expended effort on them.”  ~~Liberty Hyde Bailey

“The results you achieve will be in direct proportion to the effort you apply.”  ~~Denis Waitley

“But I have found that in the simple act of living with hope, and in the daily effort to have a positive impact in the world, the days I do have are made all the more meaningful and precious. And for that I am grateful.”  ~~Elizabeth Edwards

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

Greatness is mine by a conscious effort.


Many of the efforts before my New Life were directed towards escaping life. This fueled my alcohol use and it quickly, and easily spiraled out of control. Reflecting back, I was merely existing, numb to the outside world. Sobriety changed that and with practice of Statement #6, I am investing in life today.

Some days it can be easier to put in effort, while others more difficult. Many of us are venturing out more since the pandemic started and it feels different. We have been hidden away, unable to connect and now new routines are becoming more familiar. It has taken great effort to reach this point, so I like to remind myself of how far we have come.

Paying attention to where our attention is and making effort to be present is daily practice of Statement #6. Just like with a garden of floral beauty, if I want to have an attractive garden of balance, contentment and love, I need to apply the effort. In our WFS Program booklet it states, “Sobriety is a rewarding experience for those who invest in the moments of each day.”  Remind yourself every day that you are worth investing in!

Hugzzz
Karen


Hi 4C Women,

I love the analogy Karen shared of creating a garden of balance.  It is that balance that keeps us moving forward and creating awareness of the ability we possess to focus on the positive moments we experience.  My neighbor is keenly aware of her environment and whenever there is a magnificent sunset, she will ring my doorbell and ask me to come outside and view it.  The first time she apologized for bothering me and I assured her I was grateful for sharing the experience of the most magnificent sunset that day.  Now, she feels very comfortable ringing the doorbell when one of those sunsets appears on the horizon.  A simple gesture, a beautiful memory.  I would have missed it if not for my thoughtful neighbor.

I am also realizing that empowerment and respectful assertiveness makes my life greater.  I no longer have to hide my fear of speaking my voice by hiding it in drinking.  In fact, drinking either gave me false courage or going deeper into hiding my voice which never created real inside change, leaving me feel empty.  How many times can one apologize for their words, their behavior?  This is where the inside change makes life great.  If my past behavior or words are brought to my attention, I acknowledge it.  But that’s where it stops and a new way of communicating begins.  I ask what I can do to heal the hurt.  This creates awareness in the person as to how we can and need to work together, not continually punishing me for something I cannot change.  Through the years, I have worked diligently on expressing myself as a sober woman, not in anger but with thoughtfulness in hopes of being heard.  This is another time when pausing before responding helps me.  It’s not always easy or done as well as I hoped yet it’s a great improvement over the way I spoke when drinking.  This is the beauty of the WFS program.  While I may falter in my words or approach, I haven’t given up or gone back to hiding in an unhealthy way.

Life certainly is not ordinary, especially the past couple of years.  I believe this has helped me focus on moments that I ignored in the past.  I find myself stopping to listen to the birds chirping in my back yard and I feel a smile cross my face.  I listen more intently when people share their feelings, in awe that they trust me that much to do so.  Before WFS, I didn’t listen well at all.  I was focused on preparing my comments before a person even finished a sentence.   I am grateful for the great gift of learning through WFS.

I also believe that as I work on fine tuning my awareness of the ordinary that makes life great, I am filled with hope.  That hope gives me courage – courage to change, to heal, live in peace, even be bold at times.  How will you practice this new awareness?  What changes are you willing to make to have the hope of improved relationships, including the most important one – the one you have with yourself?

I realize, as Karen has shared about how far we have all come, especially in the past couple of years with the impact of isolation and now finding ourselves venturing out.  It is so important to remind ourselves of how hard we’ve worked and how willing we are to create this ordinary life into a fulfilling one of hope and inner change.  I encourage you to remind yourself of how extraordinary an accomplishment this is and how you are worthy and deserving to keep trying.  It is what makes you courageous,

Bonded in courage to make the ordinary great, Dee

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Monday Thoughts 8/2/2021

“Life is like a coin. You can spend it any way you wish, but you only spend it once.” ~~Lillian Dickson

“Live each second without hesitation.” ~~Elton John

“When we do the best we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life or the life of another.” ~~Helen Keller


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

Greatness is mine by a conscious effort.


It is easy to get caught up in the fast-paced moments of the day, from 24-hour news cycles to binge watching favorite shows, each day can morph into an entire week and a week into a month. Before our eyes, a new year is upon us and we wonder where did all that time go? Sobriety and Statement #6 encourages us to slow down and grow in conscious awareness.

In our WFS Program booklet it states, “Sobriety is a rewarding experience for those who invest in the moments of each day.” What does that mean? How do we invest in each day? This was not hard in early sobriety; it simply felt amazing to be sober! Being able to close my eyes at night knowing I had made it through another day without drinking made every day feel special. Life felt great, yet like an iceberg, I was just touching the surface. Underneath held new discoveries and uncharted waters.

What does it mean to invest in our day? Of course, each day is different for everyone, but we have the ability to devote conscious effort into those 24 hours. I see Statement #6 as a type of Relapse Prevention. By making small conscious efforts each day, we can gain healthy returns in our lives. For instance, I begin the day by journaling one page and close the day by jotting down something I feel grateful for. Another 4C woman sets a chime to go off at the same time every hour so she slows down and takes a conscious breath, while gardening and connecting to nature works for another fabulous 4C friend. The key is to make Statement #6 fit and work for you. Find greatness in each day, even in the ordinary and everyday moments.

What will you discover in your uncharted waters?

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

I absolutely love how Karen described the beginning of her sobriety journey, feeling how great life was each day and then recognizing she was just touching the surface underneath the iceberg. What a beautiful time to reflect on, to be grateful for, when as she shared, she was just beginning to find new discoveries about life, about herself as a sober woman amid the unchartered waters. I sometimes feel that way when a new situation or challenge enters my life. How will I respond? Will I forget all that I have learned, all the changes I made by a conscious effort or will I invest wisely in my ordinary, yet fulfilling, life I have worked so hard to create? Will I seek input to keep me on track, to remind me how much I have learned? I definitely know that my life is enriched immensely by the positive support of my WFS sisters. They provide me a listening ear, compassion in times of my personal conflict or confusion. It goes back to knowing that we are not alone, that we can seek support without judgment. I use to journal quite a bit in the first years of my recovery. I am glad that I did as each time I read my written word, I can visually see and recall the major changes I made in my thinking, my responses/reactions, my ordinarily great life!

I came across this question: If they wrote a book about your life, what would the title be? The more I thought about this question, the more I realized that the title wasn’t nearly as important to me as the chapter titles. Oh, that would be such a fun and yet frightening roller coaster ride as roller coasters tend to be just that in real life.

Here’s the best thing about those chapters – they are the unchartered waters I traveled, the paths I chose and learned from, the guide to making the ordinary great by living each day clear minded, less fearful, more forgiving (especially of myself) and most of all, loving myself more each sober chapter I lived. While my sobriety was the beginning goal, my emotional and spiritual growth is what kept me going, kept me breaking through the iceberg in bits and pieces, sometimes large chunks.

How would you answer the original question as to the title of your book?

I decided to create my chapters based on my recovery rather than my whole life. I did this to see my personal growth, how WFS changed my life so drastically. If you were to choose the same way of creating your recovery book, what would you title the chapters of your life today? It doesn’t matter if you are at the very beginning of sobriety or years down the road, the gift you give yourself is that you are moving forward. Perhaps that could be the title of Chapter 1.

How do you appreciate the ordinary? (Waking up remembering the night before, being available when needed, pursuing a dream, healing relationships, creating authentic bonds – so much more!) For me, when I feel unsure, distraught, I go back to gratefulness. I like how Karen ends each day with writing in her grateful journal. There is something about seeing it in writing that is a beautiful reminder of how our ordinary life has moments of joy and when times are tough, just having that reminder can provide a sense of balance, that in this unchartered path, we have experienced greatness even in the ordinary.

Bonded is recognizing and appreciating the ordinary and greatness in our lives, Dee


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Monday Thoughts 5/3/2021

“The older I get, the more I’m conscious of ways very small things can make a change in the world.  Tiny little things, but the world is made up of tiny matters, isn’t it?”  ~~Sandra Cisneros

“Make a conscious effort to surround yourself with positive, nourishing, and uplifting people. —people who believe in you, encourage you to go after your dreams, and applaud your victories.”  ~~Jack Canfield

“If you don’t make a conscious effort to visualize who you are and what you want to become in life, then you empower other people and circumstances to shape your journey by default.  Your silence makes you reactive vs. proactive.”  ~~Shannon Alder


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

Greatness is mine by a conscious effort.


Consciousness, or mindfulness felt like some far-out mystic proposition before sobriety and New Life.  It was something that other people did or were into and I couldn’t relate to or recognize the benefits at the time.   Today, better understanding how consciousness plays an important part of sobriety/recovery, Statement #6 in action encourages us to create the lives we desire.

In our WFS Program booklet it powerfully states, “Although we only get a one-way ticket through life, we speed through our days as if planning to enjoy them at another time.  We live as if we have an endless number of tomorrows.”  Anyone who has ever watched a child, grandchild or even pet grow up can relate; those moments of unsteady toddling babies or the silly antics of a kitten or puppy seemingly disappear right before our eyes, gone in a flash and we long to return one more time.  So how do we enjoy those fleeting moments?  Mindfulness is key.

Where do we start?  If you have been sober for any length of time you have already practiced mindfulness or consciousness; any time you challenged a thought about drinking or using, you were using mindfulness.  You were aware of what your mind was thinking and took action to stay sober.  You were present in that moment and probably noticed Statement #1.  Yet Statement #6 is an extension of that; it is being present for everyday ordinary moments.  Being fully present in any given moment allows the fleeting to be experienced in ways unavailable when under the influence.  It grants us the ability to recognize the temporary, enables gratitude and creates lasting connection.  Here are four ways to help introduce or practice more mindfulness/consciousness:

  1. Slow down and pay attention to right now:  Try to take time to notice things in this often-busy world.  Use each of your senses, sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch.  For example, when you step outside, notice the coolness or warmth in the air, the fragrance of rain or freshly cut grass, listen to birds chirping, lawnmowers, feel the breeze or sunshine.
  2. Accept who you are right now:  Each of us is learning and growing.  If there is something that you do not accept or like about yourself, embrace it and know that you can grow into who you wish to be.  This moment is not the final you. Each of us is a work in progress.  You get to create and grow into yourself every day.
  3. Connect to your breath:  When things feel overwhelming, we each have a tool that can center and bring us back to the present.  Usually, we pay no attention to something so automatic, but when we pause and focus on a breath, we are slowing down and using mindfulness to create a greater feeling of balance.
  4. Look for ways to become mindful/conscious:  Utilize the WFS Online forum where you will find groups, posts and insightful responses which can jump start a mindful practice or engage in a discussion in a WFS face to face group. There are websites and apps which have excellent information much like our forum; Calm and Insight Timer are two favorite apps as well as the website mindful.org.

This week, practice mindfulness for a set moment each day and by the week’s end, reflect on how it influenced your days.  What did you notice?  How does it feel?  How does it compare to your life before sobriety and recovery?

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

This moment is not the final you!  All I can say is, thank goodness.  I love the fact that learning and growing emotionally is always a path we travel, not a destination.  I have found that as I age, I experience life in so many different ways.  I am still learning from the women in WFS meetings and I embrace that.  Recently a group member said that she chose alcohol over feelings.  While I experienced that, I had not heard it expressed in such a succinct way.

Over the years, I have heard women say that they were accused of caring more about themselves, their addiction, than their family or other relationships.  Truth is, it’s the relationship we have with ourselves that we have a hard time accepting.  So, we choose alcohol or drugs to not feel.  Not because we don’t love others, we don’t love ourselves.  At least that was the case with me.  I hid, numbed, escaped my feelings of worthlessness by using alcohol.  It worked but what a price I paid.  When I think of all the positive qualities I finally acknowledged when I became sober, I was so grateful to have been given the WFS program to discover and uncover what I would have never believed while drinking.  And so, life can be ordinary or it can be great by a conscious effort!

Here is the effort – to practice the mindfulness as Karen described, to view the ordinary as great, to pause and reflect during the day and view the moments as small pieces of treasures to keep in your memory box.

I came across a question in the New Life Diary from a while back.  It asked what new thing have I tried in the past 6 months.  Considering this past year and the isolation many of us experienced, I thought I would answer with a bit of honest humor so here goes:  I tried brand new flavors of ice cream, tried not to annoy customers in the grocery store as that became my social outlet for conversation, tried just about every fast food place in the area even though I’m not too keen on drive-throughs, tried to pretend I now enjoyed cooking, tried to motivate myself to clean out my clutter with all the time I had on my hands, tried to sign up for virtual exercise classes (thought about would be a better word to describe my actions or non-action),tried to convince myself that I would be much healthier when I made a conscious effort to eat more fruits and vegetables.

Now for the serious changes:  I reconnected with people that I had lost contact with, did a bit of soul searching as to what matters to me and it’s still the same – friendships and loving relationships – made a conscious effort to always thank those who have helped me in so many ways, learned I could speak my voice respectfully and even be heard sometimes, worked through loss in a more healing way, felt authentic joy for celebratory events, worked on practicing more self-care, forgave myself when I felt I disappointed someone or even myself, became more conscious of all that I am grateful for and not being great with technology,  let go of my technology fear and learned zoom so that I could continue to provide WFS meetings!

Yes, life can be ordinary or it can be great by a conscious effort.  What have you consciously been made aware of this year through reflection as to how life can be great? Click here to view the May Action for Happiness calendar that I feel relates to Statement #6.

Bonded in creating a life that is ordinarily great!  Dee


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Monday Thoughts 2/1/2021

“What if the journey to being, the infinite being who you truly are, is the greatest adventure you will ever go on?”  ~~Anonymous

“Just stick to the ordinary circumstances without labeling them ordinary.  Be open to them with no desire to change them in any way.  They are, in fact, already magical and miraculous.”  ~~Francis Lucille

“Happiness is a matter of one’s most ordinary and everyday mode of consciousness being busy and lively and unconcerned with self.”  ~~Iris Murdoch


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

Greatness is mine by a conscious effort.


One of the hallmarks of addiction is the feeling of lack or never enough. At its core, this can feel overwhelmingly like I am never enough” which is untrue. This often played out in the form of drama or the desire to rush through something in order to get somewhere else.  Rarely ever content with the moment, I sought out greater distraction or mounting drama.  Alcohol was the only tool in my toolbox during this time and it never fixed anything.  However, sobriety and recovery change everything.

In our WFS Program booklet it states “Although we only get a one-way ticket through life, we speed through our days as if planning to enjoy them at another time.  We live as if we have an endless number of tomorrows.”  Statement #6 practiced daily can open the door to being present.  Experiencing the moment as it is with each of the senses bonds us to that moment and lays a foundation for feelings of fulfillment.

Today, even in the midst of a global pandemic, there are tools available to engage us in the present moment.  First, begin with the knowledge that the present moment is always here.  It is always within reach and it looks and feels different for everyone.  Here are 10 ways to connect to the present moment from Karson McGinley which was posted on Chopra.com:

1. Listening Meditation

Start where you are. Take a moment while sitting at your desk, taking a break at work, or even eating in a restaurant while your tablemate is in the bathroom. Practice experiencing each sound as it happens, without trying to judge it, label it, or push it away. If you find yourself getting irritated by the sounds around you (e.g., “I’m trying to write an article here; why won’t that dog stop barking?”), try using the sounds as a tool for mindfulness. Bind your consciousness to the sounds as an indication of what is happening during the exact moment you are in. Over time, your attitude toward the sounds around you will change from annoyances to opportunities for awareness.

2. Keep a Journal

Start your days or end your nights with an investigation into your thoughts and feelings. You may numb out on alcohol, drugs, television, or other distractions and miss the opportunity to uncover what your feelings are trying to actually tell you. Feelings do not just go away if left unacknowledged, so take a few minutes several times a week to work through what’s going on with you on the inside. Bear witness to how the emotions shift as you shine the light of awareness on them; they always pass. Mindfulness in this way means giving your emotions the attention they deserve, the way you would to a friend or family member.

3. Eye Gazing

Gaze into the eyes of your baby, a pet, or a partner who’s willing. Depending on who you share this experience with, you may find silent eye contact to be awkward at first, but consider the benefits of social connection and truly being seen. Sustained eye contact has the ability to remind you that you are not alone, that you are one with other beings, and are deeper than your external appearances. Eye contact with a baby or small child strengthens the bond you share. Locking eyes with your cat or dog taps you in to the inherent presence of animals in any situation (inspiring, indeed). And if you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror, lingering on the reflection of your own eyes can help you to experience self-compassion and self-love.

4. Object Meditation

Yes, this is a meditation that is often done during a formal practice, but how many other ways can you merge with the object of your concentration? Try sitting at your kitchen table and look at—really look—at the food on your plate. Notice the colors, the textures, and the arrangement on the plate. The idea is to concentrate on something that perhaps you never fully contemplate—a flickering candle, a small piece of artwork, or even your own hands. You don’t have to stare at it for long, just a few seconds can bring you deeper into the moment you’re in.

5. Be One with Nature

As you walk your dog, stroll to the end of your driveway to pick up the paper, or go for a run in your neighborhood, practice fully embracing the nature around you. The myriad types of trees, the colors of the flowers, the smell of the ocean, and the twinkling of the stars are all invitations to be one with the now. Take a few extra minutes here and there to really receive the healing vibrations of the earth, and you’ll feel an inner settling that will bring you back to center.

6. Switch Up Your Routine

When you become complacent in your routines, it easy to go on autopilot. If you notice yourself arriving to work without remembrance of the commute, take a different route going home and become a tourist in your own city. Want to slow down your eating habits and really savor your food? Try eating with your non-dominant hand. Have you grown attached to the same spot in your group exercise or yoga class? Move to a different part of the room and get a fresh perspective. Simple acts that shake up your routine help you to experience the newness of your familiar activities, thereby calling for an increased sense of presence.

7. Drive in Silence

Speaking of your commute, try experiencing a quiet drive, practicing mouna, or sacred silence in the car. Give yourself time to decompress from your day or allow yourself to be silent so you can take in the sights around you. When approached this way, your daily commute from here to there becomes a mindfulness act in and of itself; no time is wasted or taken for granted. If you find yourself mindlessly listening to the radio as background noise, switch it up by alternating your audiobooks, podcasts, and playlists with silent drives to slow things down and be alone with yourself.

8. Unplug from Technology

It may seem obvious, but it’s worth mentioning that the simple act of disconnecting from your devices can bring you right back to where you are. Anytime you are working on a computer, using a smart phone, watching TV, or checking social media, your attention is pulled outward, away from the moment you are in. In fact, most people feel nervous or flat out incapable of being alone with “nothing to do.”

When was the last time you sat in the waiting room at the doctor’s office without distracting yourself with some form of entertainment? What about sitting in perfect awareness during an airplane flight or a train ride? (Re)train yourself to be tech-free, at the very least for the first and last hour of the day. Better yet, unplug for an entire day every week or month. It can act like a reboot to your hard drive.

9. Create Pauses

Consider the pace of your life and work pauses into your daily rhythm. Before responding to a question, for example, pause and then answer. Before taking another bite of your meal, pause and really taste what is in your mouth. Recognize when things trigger you to become reactive and challenge yourself to pause amidst the inner conflict. Perhaps it is when a certain person tells you what to do, when you feel judged, or when things feel rushed. Try taking a pause, a purposeful moment of recalibration, and check in with the moment you’re in. A single breath in a moment of pause can create just enough space to notice your tendencies and make more mindful choices.

10. Connect to Your Senses

It only takes a moment but connecting to your senses will help you make a memory more effectively than taking a picture. When you find yourself in a moment you want to remember (e.g., you child’s first steps, a beautiful hot air balloon floating through the sky, or your first in-person view of the Grand Canyon), take the time to drop in to each of your sensory experiences.

  • What is the smell?
  • What is the temperature?
  • What is the taste of the air?
  • What are the sounds?
  • What are the colors?
  • What are the details of what you see?

When you take the time to really honor your experiences by paying attention to the details, you create mental snapshots that can last a lifetime.

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

After I read Karen’s message last night, I woke up this morning and as I glanced out the window, I saw the most beautiful sunrise colors peeking through the blinds.  As I opened the blinds more fully, I just stared in awe and understood Karen’s message of being in the moment, to pause, really see what is right in front of me.  I love all of the tools she has shared with us.  Switching up your routine is a wonderful way to be aware.

There are times when I got lost (before GPS) and marveled at places that I would have never discovered if I was on a familiar route.  Years ago, I was in the audience of the Sally Jessy Raphael show with guest, John Bradshaw, counselor and author.  He asked the audience members to write a letter in their less dominant hand to someone who caused hurt and letting them know the depths of pain caused by it.  I wrote a letter to my bio father and it was amazing how using a less dominant hand made me pause as I focused to write the words in my heart onto paper.  It was cathartic.

A few years ago, I attended a Mindfulness workshop at the WFS conference.  In fact, I attended it two years in a row!  We selected a partner and we did an exercise with our eyes closed and then the eye gazing exercise.  It was intense and brought up a lot of feelings that quite surprised me and opened up a thoughtful conversation with my partner.

I have driven to PA/NJ many years to visit family and the in-person WFS conference and tried driving in silence.  It was quite challenging and I sometimes found myself in tears from the memories of living in those states, missing my family and friends, knowing I’d be seeing them soon.  Another time, I cried because my daughter had been released from the hospital and although she was fine staying at my home and my granddaughter was close by, I hated leaving her.  I organized the most detailed plans to provide support during my absence.  Then I from sadness to anger because my ex lived only 45 minutes away and was quite uncooperative.  I realized that silence was definitely a means to opening up my feelings.  Not always comfortable but quite authentic.

The last tool in Karen’s amazing toolbox is connecting to your senses.  I am going to practice this as I feel it will create an intentional way of being in the moment.  What a powerful impact on a memory I am wanting to hold onto but never had a way such as this to utilize.

Karen’s last comment is the perfect way to end this message – When you take the time to really honor your experiences by paying attention to the details, you create mental snapshots that can last a lifetime.

Bonded through practicing these tools in creating greatness by a conscious effort, Dee

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Monday Thoughts 11/2/2020

“A strong woman knows she has strength enough for the journey, but a woman of strength knows it is in the journey where she will become strong” ~ Author unknown


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

Greatness is mine by a conscious effort


Good Morning,

Karen has lost power for possibly the next few weeks due to the hurricane that came through her area.  I have been spoiled by her writing the first part of Monday Thoughts, giving me the inspiration to add my comments.  I looked through older messages and realized that I have a wealth of creative, inspiring thoughts to share.  I decided to think of it as a blast from the past, taking bits and pieces from various messages.

This exercise is one of my favorites in practicing Statement #6:

Every morning, answer these 5 questions.  This is about moving forward in leading a full life, learning to love yourself, taking risks, being responsible for your choices and the willingness to learn life lessons.  This takes perseverance, a strong desire to live an authentic life, to speak with a fearless voice, live joyously, be resilient and to have a deep caring and awareness of who you are today without judgment.

  1. Do it! Make the day count! What am I going to do today to make this day count?
  2. What can I do today to love myself?
  3. Today I dare myself to….
  4. Today I take full responsibility for….
  5. What I most need to learn today is…

These questions might be a bit challenging especially during this time.  Yet, I have heard over the years how living an ordinary life can be great compared to the chaos and drama of our drinking/using days.  To love ourselves can be the greatest gift we give ourselves, facing a fear and conquering or plain surviving it can make an ordinary day incredible, taking responsibility for being sober each day in the face of uncertainty – all of these actions create an ordinarily wonderful life.   Now that is greatness!

I would like to add on to Statement #5, I am what I think, from last week’s message.  Our group discussed the answers to all the questions and how important it was to create a plan and follow through when the time is right to counteract any negative messages trying to sneak their way in as we cope with the current pandemic.  Some have lost their jobs, have children at home that they are schooling or learning how to help with virtual learning, feeling isolated and missing their routine/structure.

One member had created a detailed action plan, yet her concern was that she has little, if any, patience and sometimes reacts impulsively, completely disregarding her well thought-out plan.  I asked if this was addressed in her action plan and it wasn’t.  I encouraged her to include it in two ways.  First, writing that she will pause and consider if her impulsive tendency will result in promoting her plan.  If it doesn’t, then pausing can be a great coping and learning tool.  Who knows, perhaps that impulse (after pausing) is the right choice for that moment and the plan can be altered to reflect that new understanding. For anyone, it’s trusting your gut instinct yet practicing the pause to give yourself a chance to reflect on what prompted the impulse. Also, include the pause when the feeling of impatience becomes overtly strong.  It took me a long time to learn patience.  There are certain situations even now that I have to stop, pause and assess my feelings and response.

I guess the two go hand in hand – impatience and impulsivity.   I imagine this big sign “STOP – PAUSE – EVALUATE” telling me that these intense feelings/reactions need my attention.  In the end, I believe that including stop, pause, evaluate in the action plan will create a non-judgmental change/choice. That’s the second part, creating a balance.  I see a huge benefit if the plan includes more flexible options than restrictive ones which might be a set up for perceived failure.  This powerful exchange prompted me to want to share how this approach can be beneficial to each of us.  If we learn to accept our impatience and impulsivity or whatever feeling we believe is blocking our efforts to move forward, then this approach of acceptance opens the door to balance.  Much depends on how we view it.  Thanks for letting me share!

When you can’t control what’s happening, challenge yourself to control the way you respond to what’s happening.  

That’s where the power is!”

 Bonded in creating a life that honors and values the New Life we are creating, Dee