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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

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Monday Thoughts 8/4/2020

“I don’t spend time wondering what might be next.  I just focus on trying to savor every day.” ~~Trisha Yearwood

“Gratitude turns what we have into enough.” ~~Aesop

“I’ve always believed in savoring the moments.  In the end, they are the only things we’ll have.”  ~~Anna Godbersen

_______________________________________________________________

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

Greatness is mine by a conscious effort.
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 Sobriety and Statement #6 in action enable the expansion of gratitude in our New Lives.  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.”  Today, gratitude lays a foundation for balance, simplicity and can even help prevent relapse.

Statement #6 may be one of those overlooked Statements, one that may not seem like it adds anything to sobriety but with ‘conscious effort’ it can make recovery rewarding.  Before my New Life, I sped through the days; continually wanting more of everything.  That included drama and emotional turmoil.  Unaware that I was creating my own distress, I looked to blame the world.

Statement #6 encourages the savoring of life instead of speeding through. Early in my sobriety, I began to write one thing that I was grateful for that day in a journal which sits next to my bed.  Some of the things that I have jotted down over the years are electricity, WFS, friends, laughter, art supplies, books, dogs, family, breathing, and water.  The list goes on and on.  Just doing this one exercise allows my brain to be on the lookout for more ways to savor life and now I also include experiences.  Being present or conscious, makes each moment come alive. This has opened my senses to experience moments as they are happening, thereby making life really rewarding.

How will you savor life today?

Hugzzz

Karen

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Hi 4C Women,

I came across a booklet, “A Winning Attitude,” by Michelle Fairfield Poley.  She is a nationally acclaimed writer, speaker and trainer in the areas of communication and self-esteem.  As I glanced at the booklet, the first question was, “Is your attitude affecting your life?”  To answer that basic question, I thought of my attitude when drinking and my attitude as a sober 4C woman and how vastly different the answers were then and now.  I wasn’t surprised at how different the answers were yet here we are in a challenging time of isolation, uncertainty and trying to make sense of it all.  I’m not sure how each of you are facing these circumstances but keeping a positive and grateful attitude is becoming a bit challenging for me.  Yet, knowing that my outlook on life has a profound influence on the results I am experiencing daily, I need to make a conscious effort to be sure my ordinary life is great and that begins with my attitude of gratefulness.

So, the next question is, “What is attitude?”  No other word is more important to people who want to change their lives for the better.  Attitude can be defined as the filter through which an individual sees the world.  Obviously, there is work to be done for change and a choice, one that magnifies the positives in our everyday lives and diminishes the negatives.  One great tip was not to try to STOP thinking in a certain way but to START thinking in another way.  I felt such a sense of relief because this is what the New Life program has taught me.  I just needed a reminder.  So rather than focus on what I can’t do now, I will focus on what I can do, what I do have and how grateful I am for having this awareness.

In the end, I see attitude as a practice.  Just as we practice using the 13 WFS Statements to change our lives, we can practice changing our attitude on a daily basis.  Do I have an attitude that helps me or hurts me?  Am I practicing self-care knowing I deserve to do so which will promote gratefulness?

Last question:  What am I thankful for today?

Now here’s the kicker.  This booklet was published in 1992 – yes, 28 years ago!  It says to me that while time may pass, many words of wisdom remain true throughout time.  After all, Jean Kirkpatrick wrote and established WFS in 1975!  To me, it’s all about moving forward, learning different ways to live a more balanced life in diverse situations and being open to positive change.

Bonded in learning gratefulness in our ordinary, great lives, Dee

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Monday Thoughts 5/4/2020

“The more grateful I am, the more beauty I see.”  ~~Mary Davis

“I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness—it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude.”  ~~Brené Brown

“I looked around and thought about my life. I felt grateful. I noticed every detail. That is the key to time travel. You can only move if you are actually in the moment.  You have to be where you are to get to where you need to go.”  ~~Amy Poehler


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

 Greatness is mine by a conscious effort.


Some days it can feel difficult to stay focused on gratitude. Many people are feeling unbalanced and uncertain during this time of global crisis. Layers of stress have generated a diversion and have added to feelings of imbalance. While we do not know what lays before us, as 4C women we know what lays within us, and Statement #6 in action encourages conscious creation.

This Statement can be one of the most overlooked of the 13 WFS Statements, but it also can be the one that shifts past perceptions into today’s presence and tomorrow’s expansion. One of the easiest ways to practice Statement #6 is to focus on gratitude. Before my New Life, gratitude was almost non-existent, or it was given with an ulterior motive. Yet sobriety and recovery have enabled continuing conscious development.

Taking even just a few moments during the day to focus on gratitude creates new portals for presence and cements feelings of contentment. One activity that jump-started feelings of gratitude was to jot down every day, 5 things that I appreciated. It could be as simple as the beauty of a blue sky to a deep conversation with a friend. In the beginning, it felt hard to name at least five things. Overtime, my brain began to consciously seek out items to add to the list, and practicing Statement #6 became a way of life.

Statement #6 Tool:

Every day write in a notebook or journal five things/events/people/moments that you are grateful for. Reread this whenever you begin to feel a sense of imbalance or fear. You can also begin a bedtime ritual of naming a few things that you were grateful for during the day. Keep this journal next to your bed and add to it every evening. If you would like to share how you practice gratitude, email your helpful hints to [email protected].

Hugzzz

Karen

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Hi 4C Women,

I love the idea of writing a daily gratitude list and the guidance Karen gave us in acknowledging that it’s the awareness of what you feel, big or small, that fosters the feelings of gratefulness.  In the past, I would think it had to be a huge event to even be considered.  With WFS, I have learned it is what touches our hearts that makes us pause for a moment and feel the joy of a loving conversation or a single word, the beauty of nature, finding an old photo that evokes fond memories and being grateful for the simple basics in our lives that we may have taken for granted.  As we work through these challenging times, I am reminded of how trust and patience was my focus in the beginning of my sobriety journey.  I had to learn to trust my instincts, trust my choices (that was scary) and have more patience than I ever knew I could muster if I was to have a life of ordinary greatness.  Yes, ordinary greatness is having a life without constant chaos, questioning my every decision, hating myself, blaming others… the list is quite lengthy.  Ordinary greatness is being responsible for my actions, awareness of those moments of joy, forgiving myself for my past choices which spells freedom, emotional and spiritual growth for me and learning to like and love myself.  And in this uncertain time, I am reminded that life challenges are not supposed to paralyze us, they are supposed to help us discover who we are.  I am learning a lot about myself and I am surprised to discover after all these years that there is still more to learn.  I always joked that my life would be fully determined by the age of 40 – relationship, career, family.  My goodness, 40 was just the continuation of life changes, major ones!

Consider what you are learning about yourself right now.  Is there something that took you by surprise as it has me?  Has this social distancing/isolation awakened you to the idea that this might be a wonderful opportunity to expand on your New Life, finding ways to create a life full of ordinary greatness?  I am hoping you will take the time to create a gratitude list.  My hope is also that it will help in discovering the awareness of what we have rather than what we don’t have.  Perhaps you will share your list with others to give them encouragement and support.

Bonded in discovering who we are, what we are grateful for and building a life of ordinary greatness, Dee

WFS Virtual Weekend Conference

June 12-14, 2020

We are excited to offer a keynote address on Saturday, June 13, 2020, by Dr. Dawn Nickels for conference attendees. Dr. Nickels is the creator of SHE RECOVERS, currently the largest online platform dedicated to supporting women in recovery from behavioral health issues and related life challenges. The topic of the keynote address is Recovery as a Practice. In this address Dr. Nickels will discuss how women need to be supported to find and follow individualized pathways and patchworks of recovery. In this lively talk, she will explain how creating our unique sobriety practice – even if we follow a specific program – can actually help us deal more effectively with just about anything that life throws our way. Even a global pandemic.

 

Self-selection Sliding Scale:
  • $25 – Compassion Rate
  • $50 – Sustaining Rate
  • $75 – Benefactress Rate (Deductible portion: $25)
  • Scholarships also available
Attend 8 live sessions, review the other 13 later! 
  • Recorded presentations available through June 21, 2020
  • Only presenters will be recorded – your privacy is important to us!
Use any device to connect to live sessions – even a touch-tone phone! Geek Gal Squad will be on the job to assist attendees. Read our FAQs here.

Register Now

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Monday Thoughts 2/3/2020

“I feel there is something unexplored about women that only a woman can explore.”  ~~Georgia O’Keefe

“Relax wild one.  It’s not your job to be everything everyone needs.  And you don’t have to be impressive to be loved.  Stop trying so hard.  Just show up and be real with the world.  That is enough.” ~~Brooke Hampton

“We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.”  ~~Mother Teresa

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

Greatness is mine by a conscious effort.

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Being present in life opens avenues that have been difficult to reach in the past and Statement #6 can be the ignition switch to embracing those ephemeral moments.  For example, each winter, pelicans arrive and spend time on the river near our home.  The ginormous wings are amazingly silent as they fly overhead, only making a small swish as they gracefully land in the water in search of tasty minnows.  It is a breathtaking sight to behold.

Before sobriety and New Life, it would have been easy to miss the greatness in these fleeting moments.  Overcome with negativity, birds of any feather would have been a reason to complain, be agitated or simply apathetic.  Yet, practicing Statement #6 can stimulate a healthy level of consciousness.

Taking notice of the world we live in begins with our reading of the Statements each morning.  Choosing one Statement for the week with intention directs our minds to grasp everything possible in each moment.  From a pod of pelicans to giving or receiving a smile from a stranger lays a foundation to be engaged in life.

Statement #6 Tool: The last line in Statement #6 states “Savor the greatness of ordinary moments.” Take time to be present.  Try a gratitude journal in the morning or evening, or both, and make full attempts at finding greatness in something ordinary.  A dear family member derives heart-FULL pleasure from an often hard to find rye bread.  If you would like to share any tools that you use with Statement #6, please email [email protected]

Hugzzz

Karen

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Hi 4C Women,

I’ve been writing for many years and feel so grateful to be able to share what I have learned through my own life experience and from other phenomenal women who so willingly shared their life’s recovery journey.  In addition to Karen’s insightful, creative and courageous writings, was Nancy Cross.  She was a beautiful example of expressing and understanding the WFS program.

Here are some questions that Nancy posed to us:

1. What do you want to keep in your life? Let’s face it, some things are working and not everything has to be thrown out.  I consider this a powerful question when it comes to Statement #6.

2.  What do you want to change which could also be seen as “adding”? This goes back to how you answered the first question.  Knowing what you want to keep will provide knowledge for what you want to change/add to your life, creating your personal life vision.

My question would be to consider what barriers are keeping you from following through on your changes/additions?

The Seven-Ups of Life  (author unknown)

1.  Wake up – Decide to have a good day then seek out ways to make it so.

2.  Dress Up – the best way to dress up is to put on a smile.  A smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks.

3.  Shut Up – Say nice things and learn to listen.  (I would change this to Listen Up because shut up isn’t nice.)

4. Stand Up – For what you believe in.  Stand for something or you will fall for anything.

5. Look Up – To the bigger picture.  Get outside of your limited perception and consider other possibilities.

6. Reach Up – For something higher.  Stretch your mind, stretch your abilities, stretch yourself.

7. Lift Up – Focus on the positive, on what’s working and on what you want in life.

Bonded in creating our personal vision of a life filled with great moments in our everyday life, Dee

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Monday Thoughts 11/4/2019

“When we shift our perception, our experience changes.”  ~~Lindsay Wagner

“Our minds influence the key activity of the brain, which then influences everything; perception, cognition, thoughts and feelings, personal relationships, they’re all a projection of you.”  ~~Deepak Chopra

“I think the perception of peace is what distracts most people from really having it.”  ~~Joyce Meyer
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#6 Life can be ordinary or it can be great.

Greatness is mine by a conscious effort.
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In our WFS Program booklet it states, “In early sobriety, our perceptions of life begin to change.  We often go through a period of feeling not fully alive.”  If you look up the antonym of perception, you might find such words as; misunderstanding, misconception, ignorance or unconsciousness.  These words describe quite well, the living of life before sobriety.

The WFS New Life Program and Statement #6 aid in developing perceptibility and awareness.  This Statement focuses on conscious effort, which enables past or outdated judgments to shift.  It is easy to recall times before sobriety in which mountains were made from molehills, only to realize later that it was my perceived perception which increased the size of the experience.  This dissolved any ability to feel contentment.

Whether life feels ordinary or great, sobriety and recovery employ clarity and Statement #6 encourages continued effort.  This week ruminate on how your perceptions in life have changed on your recovery journey.  How has this affected who you are?   What has changed for you? What are you aware of now that you weren’t before?

Hugzzz

Karen
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Hi 4C Women,

Back in 2009, Nancy Cross asked 3 questions that were quite challenging for me at that time.  So much has happened since then and I wondered if the questions would be as difficult to answer now as they were back then.  Here they are:

1.       What do you want to keep in your life?

2.       What do you want to change?

3.       What do you want more of?

Today, my answers, my perceptions are probably similar yet I go about achieving them in a different way because I am different.  What helped was another post by Nancy in 2011 (I had 2 years to work on the 3 challenging questions) and part of her message included guidance by Janet Grace Ortigas.

1.       Explore

2.       Be more adventurous – doing something new or different once in a while

3.       Challenge yourself – doesn’t matter what it is, push yourself a little and see how it builds your self confidence

4.       Plan an adventure

5.       Do volunteer work

6.       Get a hobby – do something you love the most and follow your passion

7.       Laugh more

8.       Live in the now

What I learned from this message is that life can be ordinary and great in small bits of time and effort.  I can take a new way home and find places that I didn’t know existed; take a class in art or dance and either learn something or laugh at my efforts (#7); volunteering can be so rewarding as you give back and receive the joy of knowing you are making a difference; living in the now rather than the past is a gift you give yourself to be able to create the great and appreciate the ordinary.

Bonded in learning what creates greatness in your life and appreciating the ordinary in recovery, a 4C sister.

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Monday Thoughts 8/5/2019

Monday Thoughts

“Learn to enjoy every minute of your life. Be happy now. Don’t wait for something outside of yourself to make you happy in the future. Think how really precious is the time you have to spend, whether it’s at work, or with your family. Every minute should be enjoyed and savored.” ~~Earl Nightingale

“The art of life is to live in the present moment.” ~~Emmet Fox

“When you try to control everything, you enjoy nothing. Sometimes you just need to relax, breathe, let go and live in the moment.” Anonymous


Statement #6
Life can be ordinary or it can be great.
Greatness is mine by a conscious effort.


This quote from Jean on Statement #6 is as still profound as the first day I read it…. “Although we only get a one 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.” Oftentimes, before my New Life, I was in search of anything but the present.

One of the reasons why the present felt so uncomfortable was that I didn’t really know how to be. My mind was in constant search of something bigger, better or more interesting. Additionally, the present felt emotionally painful; my mind ruminated on the past and fueled anxiety in the future. Sobriety and recovery continue to help change this self-defeating habit.

With Statement #6 in action, I can be immersed in the now. I am quite aware of being present when doing something that makes my heart sing, such as during a face to face WFS meeting, catching a fleeting moment in nature or even while painting/drawing. It takes more effort and patience to be present when I am involved in something uncomfortable, or fearful. Gratefully, the WFS Statements, especially Statement #6, encourage the living of life. See for yourself how many times the word “Life” appears in the WFS New Life Program Acceptance Statements!

What actions can you take to bond yourself to living life in the now?

Hugzzz
Karen


Hi 4C Women,

Nancy Cross once asked what motivated you into sobriety and what inspires you to continue building a New Life in recovery? Statement #6 is a powerful reminder that no matter why we became motivated, the question to ask ourselves in the present moment, is truly what inspires us to continue our recovery journey. She continued to say that “motivation is usually short lived yet important as it makes a person want to improve from a sense of lack into a better outcome. Inspiration is very powerful because it helps a person stay focused on their desire for what they want in life.”

One thing I’ve learned is that “greatness” is a personal definition. For some, “ordinary” is greatness with all the rewards of being sober. Getting up in the morning and remembering the night before, spending the day in clarity, saying no without guilt to a request…the list is long and wonderful. For some, greatness might mean taking a risk, big or small, feeling the pure joy of the risk, living in the moment. Facing a fear can be a risk, too. It’s not always something physical such as sky diving! Speaking my voice and being heard has been risky at times yet the end result certainly filled me with empowerment beyond the imagined risk. I was afraid to express my needs, my opinion, my soul. Once I started taking that risk, I understood how life could become filled with greatness out of an ordinary self-expression.

I would encourage you to consider the question Karen asked as well as Nancy’s. I would add to think about your definition of greatness in sobriety/recovery. What risks have you taken to live in greatness, in the moment?

Bonded in knowing that greatness is yours by a conscious effort and ordinary may just be your new greatness,

a 4C sister