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Trust the Universe

I often want to share about how wonderful sobriety is, but that can feel overwhelming because there are so many experiences I could discuss. I’ve decided to share about trusting the universe and what happens when you do.
I stopped drinking on July 2, 2016. My first half year of sobriety was simply focused on not drinking, studying the Women for Sobriety (WFS) Statements and beginning to feel stable without alcohol. By the following spring, I began to get antsy. I knew that my life could be so much better, but how would I even start to make changes? I pondered on that, attempting to discover my purpose. Then, early one morning during my daily routine, I wrote in my journal “I am ready for my change.”
That afternoon, I learned that my teaching contract would only be half-time for the following year due to low student enrollment. My first reaction ~ well it was some colorful language! Then I acknowledged, “This is exactly what you just asked for.”  My superintendent offered to help find me a full-time position in another school district, but I knew something else was out there for me.
By mid-summer I was offered a new job in a completely different field, one where I would be able to apply my teaching expertise. After just two short months, I felt overwhelmed and asked myself,  “What have I done? How can this be my purpose when I feel so unhappy?” Yet, I decided to stick with it for one year and give it my all. I learned as much as I could in the field and always tried to go the extra mile.  Life can be ordinary or it can be great and I was going to do a great job!
Within a year, I found myself applying for another job that someone had suggested. I had only worked in the field for a short time and had almost none of the required qualifications. But when I walked into the interview, I recognized people who had seen my efforts and knew that I had put my whole heart into my work. I felt like  crying tears of joy! I was offered the position and thought, “Yes! This is my dream job!”
Nothing is what I would have imagined ~ but my dream job is a perfect fit! I have a vision for what I am doing and I am becoming an expert. This is the coolest thing – I’m still in disbelief – but my new job is so fulfilling! I write a newspaper column related to my work and it’s published in eight papers. Why? Simply because I told them I wanted to!
Here is what I’ve discovered. I am not afraid of my passion anymore! I don’t try to dull my enthusiasm for fear of being ‘too much.’ I’m not afraid to use my voice to advocate for what I believe in my heart is right. Women for Sobriety has taught me so much about compassion and love, and that allows me to connect with people in ways that I wouldn’t have known before I stopped drinking.
I can feel my power inside. I harness that power, along with self-belief and courage, to tackle unimaginable challenges. I have confidence and I trust myself now. I am what I think, and I think positive thoughts throughout my day. I believe this is true because I have experienced it. The more amazing you believe you are, the more others will see it, too!
It’s all a work in progress. Every morning I wake up and tear off yesterday’s page on my Audubon calendar. I ponder my newest feathered friend before my journaling, meditation and setting of priorities begin. I know that the time I spend each morning is an investment in my future. There’s no question that I will do this routine each day for the rest of my life. I can’t imagine going back to my drinking days! Drinking was a closed circuit loop; sobriety is a wide open field. “The sky’s the limit!” This is what I was told when I accepted this job, and I now push myself to reach for it! For me, that’s fulfillment.   
Running9bear
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Monday Thoughts 4/29/2019

Monday Thoughts

“If you’ve done the very best you can, worrying won’t make it any better.” ~~Walt Disney

“Worry is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere.” ~~Erma Bombeck

“Stop worrying about what can go wrong and get excited about what can go right.” ~~Anonymous


Statement #5
I am what I think.
I am a capable, competent, caring, compassionate woman.


Worry is one of those things that just about everyone can relate to. Sure, we joke about it, complain about it, but worry can steal joy, balance and contentment. Sobriety and the continued practice of Statement #5 encourages the release of worry while embracing mindfulness. Here are Five Steps to Worry Less by Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

“Five Steps to Worry Less

There really is no way to cure worrying, but we can learn to get better and better at recognizing it and gently guiding ourselves back to a sense of perspective and what matters.

  1. Soften your understanding of worry: The utility of worry is to try and anticipate and avoid any potential dangers and to keep us safe. It’s the brain trying to protect us and so worrying certainly has its place and time. But often times worrying only serves to ramp up our nervous system and kick us into an unbalanced place that only leads to more worrying. The brain has good intentions, but it leads us down a destructive vicious cycle.
  2. Allow and accept the feeling of fear:  Worrying usually arouses the feeling of fear or anxiety. In this mindful step, we’re simply acknowledging that this feeling is here. Calling it out. We want to do the opposite of resist it, because what we resist, persists. So instead we practice allowing it to be as it is. Here you are just saying to yourself, ‘allowing, allowing, allowing.’
  3. Feel into worry with kindness:  Now we have the opportunity to deepen our awareness and investigate the feeling. Here you may choose to put your hand on your heart or wherever you feel the sensation in the body. This is one way of signaling to the brain a sense of love or kindness to the feeling, which may shift it all by itself. The brain also has to map the sensation of the touch which is inversely correlated with mental rumination, turning the volume down on negative thinking.

    Try this simple practice:
    -As you feel into worry you might ask, ‘What does this feeling believe?’ Does it believe you are unlovable, unworthy, or perhaps that if you allow it to be, it will consume you?
    -Ask the question, what does this feeling need right now? Does it need to feel cared for, to feel secure, to feel a sense of belonging?
    -Whatever the answer, see if you can plant these as seeds in yourself. For example, you can plant the seeds of intention saying, ‘May I feel safe and secure, may I be free from this fear, may I feel a sense of belonging.’ Make this personal to whatever your needs are.

  4. Expand your awareness out to include all people:  Whatever the worrying is about, it’s important      you know you’re not alone. Feeling vulnerable is part of the human condition and millions of people  struggle with the same source of vulnerability that you experience. But when we’re feeling vulnerable  with anxiety, it oftentimes is all about us. We need to also impersonalize the experience and get outside  of ourselves. You can do this by imagining all the other people who struggle worrying and wish them all  the same intentions that you just wished yourself.For example: May we all feel a sense of safety and security, May we all be free from the fear that keeps us stuck in a perpetual cycle of worry, May we all feel that sense of belonging, etc…
  5. Repeat steps one through four as often as necessary:  If you notice, steps one through four spell the acronym SAFE so you can easily remember what it is and what it’s for. As you intentionally practice this over and over again, in time you will notice that you start to become less reactive to the worried mind, more compassionate with yourself as it arises, and even have perspective that this worrying is part of the human condition and you are not alone.

When we’re able to turn the volume down on worrying in our lives, what will be there instead? For many people, it a sense of spaciousness, ease and joy.”

Hugzzz
Karen


Hi 4C Women,

It is difficult to accept that we are 4C women when continuously stuck in a worrying, negative frame of mind. The exercises to mindfulness are a phenomenal way to create balance and defeat or lessen (depending on the circumstances at the moment) the negative thoughts that question our personal definition of ourselves as capable, competent, caring and compassionate women.

I love the quotes, especially the last one. It seems common practice to ask what is the worst that could happen rather than what is the best that could happen. I’ve had a few situations in the past couple of years that have played into my fears. I recognize the negative thoughts piercing their way into my positive attitude and, as Dr. Goldstein suggests, I have learned to accept them rather than fight them. They lose a lot of power with acceptance. It doesn’t mean the worry or fear is forever eliminated. For me, it means it doesn’t take up permanent residence in my head and life. Sometimes it just stays in the background while I seek support and encouragement. Other times, it runs back with a fury. It is then that I am reminded, I am a 4C women and not alone. It makes such a huge difference to have that love, caring and kindness to lighten the load at the most challenging times. Just speaking it out loud and knowing I am heard without judgment, is the best support I could ask for. I also know these fearful or negative feelings/thoughts are not forever even when it may feel that way at the moment. Many times when I reflect on my life and how I somehow made it through without the insight I have gained and the friends I have made through WFS, I just know that I am deeply grateful for having built this strong foundation. I mean, why would I want to struggle alone, denying my feelings because I believed it was a weakness without a solution (grin and bear it type of attitude). Oh, no, I’ll accept every coping tool, every piece of loving, non-judgmental support WFS has to offer.

I absolutely love the mantra that can be used personally to calm the worry, release the fear and support our 4C identity.

Bonded in knowing we are 4C women with fabulous WFS coping tools and support,
A beautiful 4C woman

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Monday Thoughts 1/28/2019

Monday Thoughts

“You have power over your mind—not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” ~~Marcus Aurelius

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” ~~Hans Hofman

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


Statement #5
I am what I think.
I am a capable, competent, caring, compassionate woman.


Advertising is a big, big industry, and there’s a reason Superbowl commercials cost 5 million for thirty seconds; they get our attention. Reaching millions of people, ads for alcohol come with fancy horses or supposedly ‘interesting’ men. The ads urge us to find our beach, insinuating that glamour and fun can be ours if we only drink this or that. Today, women everywhere are tuning out ads and tuning into their own minds, making decisions based on need instead of snappy jingles or perceptions of lack.

Sobriety and Statement #5 in action encourage self-reflection. By focusing on where thoughts originate from; ‘is this a core belief’ or ‘am I being sold something” helps to differentiate empowering thoughts from slick advertising and slight of hand deceptions. Challenging our thoughts creates distance from impulse and can cement goals or intentions.

From our Program booklet, “Our day is programmed from the start by our thoughts. If we have a difficult morning and think that everything is going wrong, we can become unreceptive to positive thoughts.” This practice of awareness will enable the mind to not be hijacked by unhealthy thoughts, including disruptive advertising.

How do you mind your mind? Which tools are most effective?

Hugzzz
Karen


Hi 4C Women,

I have had many positive experiences this week which have led me to reflect on how I think about myself deep down inside, not what I hope to project to the outside world. This has been quite challenging as I am in a place of uncertainty about my daughter. My heart is either breaking or wondering how I can help, using my life experience, which with families can be a challenge all on its own.

I encountered a woman at the grocery store who helped get a product off a high shelf for me. I am 5’1″ and she was just as tall . We had a lengthy conversation that was powerful, compassionate and openly sharing our situations. It was uplifting and I felt that we helped each other in meaningful ways.

The next experience was at a silver/gold buyer’s store. I was feeling quite sentimental about the sale and he shared a story that helped me accept my feelings rather than feeling silly. He said he learned a big lesson while at a buyer/seller convention. A young woman standing in line in front of him put a gold necklace with diamonds in it. The buyer picked it up, looked at it, slammed it down and said it was fake. Did she have anything else? She didn’t and as she turned around, he heard her say, “My mother gave that to me.” He learned at that very moment that there are memories behind most pieces of jewelry/heirlooms and it’s not easy to part with them so the need must be great to do so. He learned to be compassionate. He also said how blessed my daughter was to have me for her mom as his mom was a heroin addict and sadly never got help. Why he shared that I am not sure but it brought me back to Statement 5 and how WFS changed my life, the way I think about myself because I was fortunately willing to change. At church today, the pastor leaned back and said my name would be mentioned during service. I had no idea why. Each week a mission of program is lifted up for special recognition. As the staff member was making the announcements, she said that the program being lifted up this week is Women for Sobriety and there was our website logo big and bold on the screen. She then thanked me for my leadership and how grateful they were that this program was available for women in our community. As she later prayed for the congregation, she mentioned WFS again and to be sure to contact me if anyone needed help or knew someone who needed help. Got a sweet card from a WFS member back in NJ on how women in their 70’s approach happiness. The fact that she took the time to photocopy and send it to me with a handwritten note meant so much to me.

These experiences have helped me to believe that I am a 4C woman even at a low point in my life. I am grateful and hope that each of you will take the time to reflect on the changes you have made or are making to know your contribution to those you love, who love you and even strangers who sense you are a safe place/person to share. I hope that as you reflect on this Statement, that you will carry positive interactions/moments with you and remind yourself that no matter how difficult life may be at times, how we think about ourselves is crucial to our recovery. I also hope that each of us recognizes how blessed we are to have the foundation of the WFS Program to guide us, nurture us and keep us moving forward.

Bonded in being 4C women,
Dee

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Monday Thoughts 10/29/18

Monday Thoughts

“We are what we believe we are.” ~~C.S. Lewis

“Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life, because you become what you believe.” ~~Oprah Winfrey

“Believe in your dreams. They were given to you for a reason.” ~~Katrina Mayer


Statement #5
  I am what I think.
I am a capable, competent, caring, compassionate woman.


Art is very inspiring to me; my older sister is an accomplished artist. I recall being mesmerized by her drawings and felt that she possessed some kind of magic. No matter what I did, my drawings paled in comparison and often felt inadequate.

Sobriety and the continual practice of Statement #5 have enabled me to learn to believe in myself. Instead of trying to become a version of my sister, I am developing as an artist, finding my own style and feeling the freedom that comes from being who I am. It is invigorating and the learning process has become joyful.

Over the weekend, I participated in an art show and felt capable of standing in my strength. While still new in the art world, I am able to believe in my abilities. Through the WFS New Life Program and fellow sisters, becoming who I am no longer feels scary. I am a capable, competent, caring, compassionate and creative woman!

Hugzzz
Karen


Hi 4C Women,

Know your strengths…and focus on them. Remember that what we focus on in our mind is what we give power to. To be empowered is to make ourselves stronger, more confident. It is part of learning to love ourselves, to believe we are capable, competent, caring and compassionate women.

If you had to define yourself in 10 words or more, what would your list look like? Would it be uplifting or judgmental? Would it be encouraging or defeating? Would it be a mixture of praise and judgment?  Would it be difficult to compliment yourself, to list your accomplishments, including healthy relationships? If so, do you know why this is so difficult? Do you think your lists would be similar if you asked a trusted friend to make such a list of your characteristics/personality traits?

It’s important to be compassionate with ourselves as much as we are for others. We need to practice self-care while we are caring for others. While we praise others for their capabilities, we need to praise ourselves. As we share compliments with others on their competency to handle situations/people, we need to recognize our own competency. It’s almost like the golden rule in reverse – treat yourself as you would treat others, especially those you care about.

Last year we did an exercise for Statement #5. This might help in creating your list of 10 words or more:

I am capable of:
I am competent in:
I am caring about:
I am compassionate about:

I hope you will share your list or the answers to these questions with others. Perhaps even ask if they could add anything to it. I believe it will be worth the risk.

Bonded in being 4C Women,
4C WFS Member