Women for Sobriety, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping women overcome alcohol and drug addictions. It is, in fact, the first national self-help recovery program for women. The WFS New Life Program helps women achieve sobriety and sustain ongoing recovery. WFS has been providing services since July 1975. This blog has been created to share news, events, and encouragement to those interested in the organization and the program.
is power, but enthusiasm pulls the switch.”Ivern Ball
the things about you that make you different and unique.”-Karen Kain
“If you act enthusiastic, you become
enthusiastic—and it spreads like wildfire!”-Mary Kay Ash
#11, “Enthusiasm is my daily exercise.”
I treasure the moments of my New
“Enthusiasm?You’ve got to be kidding!” I stammered.Feeling nothing even remotely close to
enthusiasm, I was busy focusing on just staying sober.Enthusiasm?Well, maybe later.Reading the
Statements each morning and anything else I could on addiction, the hours
ticked away ensconced in the WFS Forum, and like a sponge, absorbing as much as
In hindsight, I did have enthusiasm, I just didn’t recognize
it.Every little thing having to do
with sobriety and recovery was so different and I was drawn like a moth to a
flame to learn more.Clear minded and
newly open to ideas and suggestions, this new energy was pushing me further
into this New Life and it felt, well, it felt comfortable.This was something new!
In our Program
Booklet, Jean asks “have you ever known a person who can make shopping for
an onion a rich experience?”While
initially I argued with this question; (…seriously who would do that? an onion?
really Jean?) it is a treasure to see someone be so in tune with the moment and
enthusiastically choose an onion.Yet
the ultimate treasure is when I experience these moments… onion or not
·What does enthusiasm feel like in your New Life?
Hi 4C Women,
I relate to Karen’s comments about the lack of feeling
enthusiasm in early sobriety.I felt
irritated and scared but also determined.As I learned and practiced healthier coping skills, I began to feel
enthusiastic about my future.My goal
that first year was to learn, grow and become a moderator.I wanted other women to experience the joy of
having a New Life of freedom, choice and empowerment.When I first met Jean Kirkpatrick, I didn’t
think I had a problem and asked her if she thought I did.She looked at me and said, “If you have to
ask, you do!”I knew in my heart she was
right and that became very clear when I quit drinking.I hated coming home as that is where I did
most of my drinking.At the time there
was no Forum and I had to practice by putting the WFS Statements into action on
my own.By the end of the year, I was
very enthusiastic about starting a meeting.Twenty-nine years later, I am just as enthusiastic about being a
moderator.It is my reward.It also built up my confidence in so many
other areas.I went through a divorce
that took 4 years, bought my first car, home and moved to Alabama to be near my
daughter and granddaughter.I am blessed
to witness the women in my group take on new adventures and sharing it with
others.It gives me such great joy to be
a part of their personal growth.
Where are you on your enthusiasm journey?Have you taken a risk to try something
totally out of your comfort zone or something you’ve been thinking about for a
while?What was the outcome?And remember enthusiasm can be experienced in
moments such as a beautiful sunset, the sound of birds chirping early in the
morning, the first flower sprouting up, the color of leaves turning to
beautiful shades of gold, red and yellow in the Fall, a child skipping
delightfully in a puddle, a pet giving you the most awesome greeting, a new job
that will use the gifts and talents you possess, the list goes on.I sometimes refer to it as the pursuit of
enthusiasm, much like the pursuit of happiness.We create it, we observe it and we rejoice in
the uplifting feeling.
Exercise as a form of
self-care can be a powerful and effective tool in our recovery toolboxes. For
many women who are in recovery from substance use disorders, negative feelings
about their bodies have contributed to low self-esteem, stress, and using
chemicals to cope with those feelings. Letting go of body shame and building up
a healthy body image in its place can help us “create a new self that will
provide us with a happy sobriety” (Jean Kirkpatrick, PhD). In this workshop, we
will discuss the psychological as well as physical benefits of exercise and
develop strategies to help us accept and love the bodies we live in every day.
We will put these ideas into practice by learning some basic, gentle belly
dancing steps and experiencing the joy of dancing together. No previous dancing
experience is required and all bodies and all physical abilities are welcome! If
you like,feel free to bring a colorful scarf to tie around your waist,
a belly dancing hip scarf, a flowing skirt, or fun jingly jewelry.
Rebecca has been a WFS member since 2014 and was thrilled
to become a Certified Moderator in October 2017. Regularly attending
face-to-face WFS meetings and using the 13 Acceptance Statements of the New
Life Program have been central to her long-term recovery. This fall, she is
returning to school to become a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor in
Minnesota. Rebecca has enjoyed many kinds of dancing as a hobby since middle
school. She studied and taught Middle-Eastern dance at the Cassandra School and
performed with Cassandra Shore’s Jawaahir Dance Company in Minneapolis,
be fully seen by somebody, then, and be loved anyhow—this is a human offering
that can border on miraculous.”-Elizabeth Gilbert
great hope is to laugh as much as I cry; to get my work done and try to love
somebody and have the courage to accept the love in return.”-Maya Angelou
be deeply loved, means a willingness to cut yourself wide open, exposing your
vulnerabilities …hopes, hurts, fears and flaws.Hiding behind the highlight reel of who you are, is the real you and
that person is just as worthy of love.There
is nothing more terrifying or fulfilling, that complete love, it’s worth the
risk…reach for it.”-Jaeda DeWalt
Sobriety and Statement #10 in action are
essential to accepting and feeling love in my New Life.In the past, I accepted the love I felt I
deserved, which was often unhealthy and abusive.I was drawn to drama, uncertainty and often
lived on the edge.Over time, this
created a cycle of emotional pain which I attempted to soothe with alcohol.This ever-temporary solution evolved into
deep feelings of desperation, shame and loneliness.
The WFS Statements encourage a shift in
thinking, and the action part of Statement #10 “I am learning to know that I am
loved” is empowering and life-changing when applied daily.Recalling my first glimpses of sobriety, I
felt welcomed into WFS even though I felt I didn’t deserve this level of
acceptance.There were no hoops to jump
through, no lectures or admonishments, just open arms and understanding.This rekindled hope, and a new cycle of
healing had begun.
The “Love” Statements can be difficult to
practice, yet the results can move mountains.In our WFS Program
Booklet under Statement #10, a beautiful quote from Nancy Cross states “All
recovery roads lead to the ability to love and be loved!”Nancy, who was a long-time member of WFS,
felt love in her New Life and from this life-changing love, created our WFS
Online Forum.Nancy devoted her time,
talents, and secured funding to make sure this aspect of WFS remained available
to all women.Love does make the world
go around and around and around…..
Hi 4C Women,
One of my favorite updates to the
Statements is this one - I am learning to know that I am loved.I especially appreciate the various forms of
how love is given and received as written in the updated Program Booklet.For so long I felt unlovable, disconnected
because I was not in what I thought was the real definition of love - a
couple.Just to see in writing the many
ways love can be expressed means the world to me.I do experience love from friends, family and
any adorable animal I encounter.Because
of my allergy to animal dander, I am sadly required to be pet-deprived without
wanting to be.Whenever I get a chance
to give and receive love from another person’s pet, I do it.Hand washing is a must afterwards but so
worth the love given and received.
I believe my biggest obstacle in receiving
love was that I didn’t love myself.I
often silently say these words after “I am learning to know that I am loved,” –
“and it begins with loving myself.” I
was my own worst critic and it took a long time to see myself in a loving
light.That change created a pathway to
accept and believe that others loved me.I learned that while I did not love my actions or behavior when I drank,
those were the end result of my choice of coping skills and not my identity.Learning healthy coping skills created the
beginning of self-love, self-acceptance, and self-worth.
Here is an
excerpt from 40 lessons learned along the way for finding strength in hard
must love yourself too.One of the most
painful things in life is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too
much and forgetting that you are special too.When was the last time someone told you that they loved you just the way
you are, and that what you think and how you feel matters?When was the last time someone told you that
you did a good job, or took you someplace, simply because they know you feel
happy when you’re there?When was the
last time that ‘someone’ was YOU?Something to think about.
the moment we took our first breath of life as an infant, up to this very day,
we each have been influenced by our individual experiences. The joys and
heartache that we have experienced shape us. The challenges we endure create
depth. Our individual experiences create growth that, understood, will uniquely
move each of us forward.
many don’t welcome the power of movement within their own life stories.
of us have an innate ability to identify all of the difficulty we’ve
experienced within our lifetime, but we are challenged to pinpoint how
difficulty offers the opportunity to move us forward. Perhaps this is why we
get ‘stuck,’ why we have trouble letting go of the past and can’t recognize our
truth is, movement forward is the consequence of personal effort.
this workshop your active beginning to create movement forward!
will discuss how welcoming the past, present, and future experiences into
our lives with a renewed perspective can impact their outcome.
our willingness to relentlessly participate with our life experiences
offers greater insight into their multitude of layers.
revisit some of our individual experiences that have created positive
and insights with a little fun role-playing
to renew your mind and create movement forward!
(‘D’) is an enthusiast for life with a passion to inspire, offer hope, ignite
bravery and become a catalyst for women to live with greater intention. Founder
and “The Practice of Living as We Intend” podcast, ‘D’ shares insight, personal
stories and experiences that offer empowering practices to refine how we
‘think, do and become.’ Dannielle has a unique background; spanning the
boardroom where she was the Creative Director for a global aviation company, to
an entrepreneurial role at her farm, where she enjoyed practicing agriculture.
Now residing in Chicago, her passions include travel with her husband, nature,
her dog Miss Sofia and all things creative.
expect something good to happen to you no matter what occurred yesterday.Realize the past no longer holds you captive.It can only continue to hurt you if you hold
on to it.Let the past go.A simply abundant world awaits.”-Sarah Ban Breathnach
are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it.”-Rick Warren
there’s a beginning and an end, you know?It’s true that you can’t reclaim what you had, but you can lock it up
behind you.Start fresh.”-Alexandra Bracken, The Darkest Minds
Trying to smother feelings of regret, I
unknowingly cut myself off from living or experiencing life.Replaying past events over in my mind,
longing for different consequences and angrily blaming others, I attempted an
escape through alcohol.Yet try as I
might, I simply was unable to escape from myself.It was a painful way to exist.
The results of living Statement #9 in
action feel incredibly freeing and uplifting.This Statement drew me right into the Women for Sobriety Program.Statement #9 feels nurturing and validating
each time I read it.To me, it says you
have felt pain and it may have hurt deeply, yet you are stronger than what
happened and can move forward and not be defined by it.
Statement #9 is also a reminder to embrace
the beauty of the moment.Over the
weekend while driving, my husband and I witnessed an incredible sunset.Bands of rain were cascading down beside the
fiery, setting orb, casting a crayon box full of colors across massive cloud
formations.The area was vast and
without a tree line, so we enjoyed this full display for miles, and it was
spectacular!I tried to capture this
beauty with some photos, but none would catch the stunning magnificence, so I
stopped clinging to the fleeting beauty and experienced the moment.
Hi 4C Women,
The past was my constant companion for a
very long time.It held me captive from
living in the present.It blinded me to
the amazing possibilities of a New Life.
What’s incredulous is that while I was
living in the past, I could only recall the good times, never the struggles or
self-doubts.I obviously had self-doubts
about my ability to handle situations, make decisions and trust my instincts
but I ignored all of that.Letting go of
the past meant an honest reality check of the truth - the whole picture of what
was wonderful and what was not.Those
rose-colored glasses were becoming crimson red glasses.
When I finally ventured into the present
by reflecting and working through the grief and pain of the past, I
finally understood that I had to take charge of my life.The past looked “perfect” because I was so
miserable in the present.I took
emotional abuse and believed it to be the truth.Rather than becoming empowered, I shrank and
hid.How could I come from a position of
power if I wasn’t my own advocate, my own best friend?It was easier, or so I thought, to live in
the supposedly perfect past than to begin healing, finding my voice, make very
difficult decisions and discover how it felt to be in the present, aware of my
choices, responses, reactions.
The biggest challenge I faced in all of
this was to forgive.I had to forgive
those who hurt me and that meant myself as well.I realized I was hurting myself
unnecessarily.One thing I learned about
forgiveness is that it doesn’t mean reconciliation or acceptance of
mean-spirited people.It means I can
live in peace, heal from the pain, become a survivor and not a victim.Living in the present also meant being aware
of what my needs were, and are, and how to express them.I forgave myself for dwelling and living in
the past for way too long, for not being strong enough to stand up for myself
and to work through all of the pain I numbed with alcohol.It was not enough for me to just forget
it, I had to heal from it.This
is why I cringe when I hear people say, just get over it.That kind of letting go for me is not healing
work.It is temporary and in the past,
was a trigger when the pain returned.I
called healing work the path to freedom and to this day, I still see it that
I encourage you to think about what is
holding you hostage, how you can work through and heal from that pain or grief
and what are your current needs.Can you
express them with calmness and if they are not met, find another way to achieve
them?Peeling away the layers of pain
while giving up my numbing agent (alcohol) was extremely difficult for me.Through perseverance, I was able to
experience the joy of freedom and empowerment.Letting go of the past is the key to peace, contentment and the ability
to handle the next challenge from a position of power and strength of mind.And trust me, there will always be
opportunities to use the tools of letting go.
of transition are strenuous, but I love them.They are an opportunity to purge, rethink priorities, and be intentional
about new habits.We can make our new
normal any way we want.”-Kristin Armstrong
key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your
life is ever all balanced.It’s a
conscious decision to choose your priorities every day.”-Elisabeth Hasselbeck
In our WFS February “Reflections
for Growth” Booklet, Jean Kirkpatrick, Ph.D. writes “It was a severe
adjustment for me—the change from a life of drinking to one of sobriety.It meant an adjustment to a different pace of
life; it meant changing the people in my life from heavy-drinkers to social or
non-drinkers; it meant adjustment to my new self, one who had to adjust to
handling tension, insecurity and sometimes fear.Adjustments—a lifetime of challenge to us
all.Today I will adjust to the
adjustments.”From these insightful
words, Jean understood the need to create a different set of priorities in her
In early sobriety, remaining sober took
the highest priority, but everything felt so off and it was a struggle to think
of anything else other than drinking.Trying
to untangle my thoughts and readjust to a new sober life, I often asked myself,
“Will this take me closer to or further away from sobriety?”As the months went on, I thought less and
less of alcohol and more about who I was and where I was going.Growth, whether emotional or spiritual, began
to ebb and flow much like in waves.In
retrospect, this was the beginning of actively practicing Statement #8.
The WFS Statements in action enable the
identification of priorities, and Jean became very adept in prioritizing not
only her days, but her life.Setting
targets over a year out or even 5 or 10 years away, Jean orchestrated her life
beginning with her priorities.A clear
path began to emerge, and through her efforts, Women for Sobriety went from a
simple thought, to our well-loved recovery program!
·What are the top ten priorities in your life right now?
Hi 4C Women,
What’s so refreshing about the WFS program
is the freedom to choose our individual spiritual path.While WFS is not a faith-based program, my
personal spiritual journey has been one of renewed faith.I appreciate the freedom within the program
to walk the path that supports my sobriety.Each of us can choose our own individual path without judgment just as
we grow at our own pace in our emotional healing.The past 6 weeks our pastor’s message has
been “Letting Go.”I felt as though I
was in a WFS meeting when he talked about letting go of the past, to forgive
ourselves, to let go of toxic people, to honor ourselves and set boundaries.
Today the message was about Lent and
adding positive growth to our lives that will enhance it, nurture it and help
us become more loving, compassionate people.He said that Lent is not about punishing ourselves for being human.I was so glad to hear that because that inner
critic, who likes to visit me every once in a while, was starting to whisper
his negative words in my ear about what I need to do to be more acceptable.When the pastor said we reach a point in our lives
when we say to ourselves, Time’s Up, I thought of the decision I made to quit
drinking.Time was up of trying to
please everyone, saying yes when I wanted to say no, not loving myself, not
setting healthy boundaries.I needed to
have authentic meaning in my life, hope and a purpose that would make my life
count to me.I wanted to prove myself
worthy to others because I didn’t believe it myself.Time was up for that kind of thinking.And this message came just in time to swipe
that inner critic off my shoulder.
question posed to us:
·What do you give pieces of your heart to?
·Do you give pieces because it’s expected, to persuade others
that you are worthy to bolster your self-esteem, to feel important or impress
others, a distraction to escape from working on your emotional well-being or
because you genuinely love those you are giving pieces of your heart to?
·That’s when Karen’s question comes into play:Do your top ten priorities fit within the
pieces of your heart that you give away?