Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Monday's Message ~ Statement #1

“You are worth it.”  -Author Unknown
“Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer serves you, grows you, or makes you happy.  If you aren’t being treated with love and respect, check your price tag.  Maybe you’ve marked yourself down.  It’s YOU who tells people what your worth is.  Get off the clearance rack and get behind the glass where they keep the valuables.”  -Author Unknown
Statement #1, “I have a life-threatening problem that once had me.”
I now take charge of my life and my disease.  I accept the responsibility.
+ Karen’s Perspective +
        At the end of this week, we will be welcoming in a new year.  We say goodbye to 2016 and usher in 2017….we will have 12 new months, or 365 days, 8,760 hours, 525,600 minutes or 31,536,000 seconds.  Each moment is filled with infinite possibility.
        Resolutions, decisions, choices are traditionally set to begin on January 1.  A fresh start, open book, tabula rasa (blank slate), new beginnings can start at any moment of any day.  Sure, it is fun to start at a beginning, but anytime is a great time for a new beginning.
        For those still drinking, take Statement #1 and immerse yourself into the Women for Sobriety Program.  Open the Program Booklet and dive into each page, answer the questions that Jean Kirkpatrick asks with complete honesty.  If you are not sure how to answer, pause, an answer usually appears when we least expect it to.  I recall relating quite well to what Jean spoke of in the Program booklet; to avoid problems and especially to produce a personality that I liked better.
        The New Year can also be a great time to refresh coping skills, to reflect on the past year and acknowledge the growth that we have achieved and identify areas where we need to pay more attention.  If we haven’t already done so, the New Year can be planned out with goals to strive for.  Even the smallest of goals will make a difference.
What will your tomorrow hold?  You decide.  You are worth it!
  Hugzzz, Karen
+  Member Insights  +
Hi 4C Women,
        Truly believing you are worth it can sometimes seem impossible.  How can you be worth anything when you feel like nothing?  I am here to say that it is absolutely possible to turn that negative definition we have of ourselves into a definition of self-love and self-worth.
        I realized that my drinking was consistently fueled by my feelings of worthlessness.  Jean talked a lot about that and how our self-talk needed to be one of love and knowing that we were in charge of our lives, including how we viewed ourselves.  I’ve shared this many times that my daily mantra was as I looked in the mirror – “You’re stupid, fat and ugly.”  Ugly was my spirit.  I would have laughed in your face if you said there would be a time when I looked in the mirror and said “I love you.”  Yet that is what happened as I started to take charge of my life through sobriety, believed I was worth it and learned to feel the love that others had for me.
        It all starts with a sincere desire for a new life, a life each of us is deserving of and yearning for.  Accepting Statement 1 is powerful and what drew me to WFS.  It didn’t say you are a terrible person, forever an absolute mess and you need to keep reminding yourself daily of the disaster you have made of your life.  It said that I had a problem that once had me.  I am in charge of my life, my mind and I accept the responsibility.  No continually putting myself down for what I could not change but a guide to living a positive, loving life with coping skills to face the challenges.  I firmly believe and understand that without the coping skills and positive support of WFS, I would be a woman who wasn’t drinking but inside a woman who would still be scared to face life without the “inside” changes WFS has given me.
        So I end with Karen’s wonderful question and message:  What will your tomorrow hold?  You decide.  You are worth it!  -WFS Member
© WFS Inc. * Women for Sobriety, Inc., PO Box 618, Quakertown PA 18951
Email: contact@womenforsobriety.org  *  Ph: 215-536-8026  *  Fax: 215-538-9026
Daily Inspirations on Twitter: @WFS4C  *  Check out the WFS Blog: http://wfsorg.blogspot.com
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Sunday, December 25, 2016

12 Days of Sober Christmas ~ Day 12: Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! 

      Peace, Love, Hope, and Joy to all!  Christmas day has arrived and my heart is filled with gratitude and love.  One of the many blessings in my life is the Women for Sobriety “New Life” Program.  Learning and exploring the 13 Statements on my own can be tedious at times, but working the Statements with all of you is just amazing.  As I read over the holiday online message posts and replies, they touch me deeply and remind me how much our members give back to one another in support and caring.  Another blessing to be truly thankful for is our devoted group moderators and chat leaders who spend countless hours volunteering their time and sharing experiences and encouraging our hopes and dreams for a new life that is free of addictions.  A special place in my heart, however, is reserved for the WFS office…all the dedicated and hardworking staff and volunteers who make sure all the phone calls and emails are answered with lots of care and compassion.  They are a vital link to the organization and I am ever thankful for all the encouragement they give to new members to learn more about the program and to join the nearest face-to-face meeting and online forum community for additional support.
      I want to wish all of you a sober, blessed day today…one that is filled with love, gratitude, and compassion for yourself and for others in your life.  I also want to share with you my thoughts on the “New Life” Program.  I hope it will add strength and encouragement to your day.
Love, “Mrs. Claus”

º         º          º          º          º 

My name is … and I’m a competent woman.  Saying a positive statement about ourselves – out loud – is where the transformation begins for a new life.  And Women for Sobriety’s Statement #5, “I am what I think” is a great place to start because it is the very heart and soul of this “New Life” Program. 

So how do I bring the heart and soul of this program into my own life?  Where do I begin?  Well, the founder of our program, Dr. Jean Kirkpatrick, worked the whole thing out for us by creating the 13 Statements of Acceptance and putting them in a format she calls the “LEVELS OF RECOVERY”. 

Level 1 is where you begin by accepting the reality that you have a life-threatening, physical disorder known as alcoholism and to take control of this problem you need to stop drinking.  Statement #1 says it very clearly, “I have a life-threatening problem that once had me.”  I now take charge of my life and my disease.  I accept the responsibility.  In the Mission Statement for the organization, it says that to become a member of Women for Sobriety requires a sincere desire for an abstinent new life.  It begins with SOBRIETY and stopping the substance abuse and then you move into recovery and start making those internal changes that will jump-start your new life. 

Level 2 is all about replacing those negative thoughts with positive ones, putting guilt behind us, and practicing new ways of viewing and solving problems.  Okay – that is A LOT to do!  Thank goodness Jean didn’t tell us we need to accomplish this in 6-8 weeks!  Personally, it is easier for me to catch someone else saying mean and nasty things about themselves than it is to catch my own negative put-downs going through my mind. 

One of the best suggestions Jean made to all of us is to start listening very closely to our inner thoughts, as well as what we say verbally about ourselves.  Writing all this down in a journal is the start of becoming AWARE of what’s going on in our head.  Once I become aware of the problem areas than I can start implementing those important changes that are necessary to re-build my self-esteem and confidence so I can tackle any situation that enters my life. 

And that leads us to Level 3 – creating and practicing a new self-image – we are now at the heart and soul of the program. 

I’d like to summarize this level with a quote by Jean, “To change our circumstances in life we must change ourselves.  And this happens when we find a formula to follow.  The formula of the “New Life” Program is to know that our mind controls our world.  Our entire character is determined by and is formed by the thoughts we permit and place in our minds.  We create the world in which we live by the thoughts we have.  We must train our minds to work for us and not against us.” 

Those are some very enlightening words to ponder.  I have many choices and decisions to make in my new life.  The first is to stop the substance abuse and the second (which is just as important) is what thoughts I will allow in my minds.  While I create and practice my new self-image, I will start using these new attitudes to enforce new behavior patterns. 

That is what Level 4 is all about:  Happiness – Enthusiasm – the Freedom to Choose an ordinary life or a GREAT life.  But, hold on a minute – what if you’re saying to yourself…how can I have happiness in my life when I can’t even stand looking at myself in the mirror?  How can I possibly get excited about buying an onion at the grocery store when I can barely drag myself out of bed in the morning to face another day? 

That’s why Jean put Level 2 and 3 before this one.  We need to create a positive attitude that will boost our self-esteem so we can look in the mirror – with eyes wide open – and say out loud:  “I am a Beautiful, Capable, Competent, Caring, and Compassionate Woman.  This is what I am and I shall know it always.” 

Level 5 – Improving relationships as a result of our new feelings about ourselves.  This level deals with the “LOVE” Statements:  #7 “Love can change the course of my world,” and #10 “All love given returns.” 

Many years ago, when I was reading over the WFS Collection of Sobering Thoughts booklets, I was surprised that Jean wrote so few articles on the “Love” Statements.  When she became aware of this as well, she said it was a subject that she and many other women alcoholics have some level of difficulty with. 

For myself, I totally believe that love does change the course of my world and all love given does return in many ways because love has been an integral part of my life since the moment I came into this world.  I am so grateful to have parents and siblings that love and care for one another and to have a marriage built on love and faith.  I believe whole-heartedly that love is the main source of my strength and enthusiasm to live my life. 

Of course, my life isn’t always filled with sunshine and roses; however, I can assure you that when I experience the difficult and painful times, I choose NOT to stop and take pictures of it.  Meaning that I don’t dwell on the bad times by keeping a mental picture of it for the rest of my life. 

Make room in your heart and your mind for love – to receive love is a precious moment not to be pushed aside.  In fact, I encourage you to take lots of mental pictures when love comes along in your life – those are the moments that will help you get through the tough times. 

Level 6 – Recognizing life’s priorities:  Emotional and Spiritual Growth, plus Self-Responsibility. 

I’ll start with the ‘self-responsibility’ part of this level.  Statement #13, “I am responsible for myself and for my actions.”  Many of us can have a love/hate relationship with this statement.  On one hand, it’s great to be able to admit to others that you were responsible for a great idea and that you followed through with the project and it was a huge success.  On the other hand, it is very hard to admit when you do not follow through with something you said you’d be responsible for and, in turn, it has a negative effect on others who were relying on you.  Admitting you were irresponsible in a situation and saying it won’t happen again doesn’t always leave you off the hook.  Your future actions will determine that outcome. 

If my goal is to achieve emotional growth and maturity, I will need to make a sincere conscious effort to work at becoming responsible for myself and the actions I take.  Jean sums it up by saying that the entire object of this “New Life” Program is to come to this point:  to the maturity of accepting ourselves and being responsible FOR ourselves and ALL that we do. 

To accomplish emotional and spiritual growth in our lives, Jean says it is a learning process of figuring out who we are, exploring ourselves, and what we need to change.  To quote Jean, “The object of our living is to find the best of ourselves and when we do that, we experience emotional growth.  Our spiritual life is best tended to in periods of meditation.  It is the time in which we examine ourselves carefully in an effort to cast out pettiness, jealousy, anger, or guilt so that our spirit, our soul, is at peace.”  She goes on to say that the way each of us defines and goes about achieving emotional and spiritual growth is individual and extremely personal.  It may be very different for each of us.  There is no one way.  Well, all I can say is AMEN to that! 

I am grateful for the fact that we have all these opportunities available to us to learn a variety of new ways of thinking and living our lives so that we can make the proper choices to create the new life we always wanted. ø  [From 2002]
© WFS Inc. * Women for Sobriety, Inc., PO Box 618, Quakertown PA 18951
Email: contact@womenforsobriety.org  *  Ph: 215-536-8026  *  Fax: 215-538-9026
Daily Inspirations on Twitter: @WFS4C  *  Check out the WFS Blog: http://wfsorg.blogspot.com
When you shop at smile.amazon.com, Amazon donates to Women for Sobriety.
PayPal Giving Fund: 100% of your donation reaches WFS and contributes to our mission. 

DONATE NOW ~ Your Donations Help Support WFS’s Services ~ Thank you!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

12 Days of Sober Christmas ~ Day 11: Christmas Eve Poem

© WFS Inc. * Women for Sobriety, Inc., PO Box 618, Quakertown PA 18951
Email: contact@womenforsobriety.org  *  Ph: 215-536-8026 *  Fax: 215-538-9026
Daily Inspirations on Twitter: @WFS4C  *  Check out the WFS Blog: http://wfsorg.blogspot.com
DONATE NOW ~ Your Donations Help Support WFS’s Services ~ Thank you!

Friday, December 23, 2016

12 Days of Sober Christmas ~ Day 10: A Christmas Recipe

      Over the years, I’ve written many articles about what I’ve done during the holidays to stay sober and sane.  While I was thinking of what to write this year, I discovered I couldn’t really come up with anything new.  What I do have is a basic recipe, one that I follow each year, with a few tweaks here and there, depending on where I’m at.  Sort of like a favorite old recipe that we can change to suit our taste.  It reminds me of my old Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.  I bought it in 1973 when I first learned how to cook.  It is splattered and torn and many pages are missing.  You can tell which are my favorite pages - many of them stick together!  Well, the bottom line is that these recipes work and are dear to my heart.
      The key ingredient to a happy holiday season is DON’T DRINK.  Sounds so simple and, on some level, it IS.  Find your tools that support this and just don’t drink.  My mentor and friend, Lilac, who recently passed away, offered me two great pieces of advice when I first got sober.  Advice #1 - Don’t drink even if your ass falls off.  And since I don’t have to worry about that happening, I’m safe.  The other more serious piece and the one that worked every time was advice #2 - Think the drink all the way through.  This single piece of advice was the one that saved me every Friday night, my trigger night.  I’d think so romantically about that first beautiful glass of red wine.  In my imagination it glowed, and I’d think of how good it would feel going down, awarding me instant relaxation.  Before I got this advice, I’d stop here and reach for the wine bottle, a Pavlovian response.  However, after hearing this advice, I’d keep it going, thinking about the various stages I’d predictably go through, ending up on the bathroom floor, covered in vomit, sweat, shame and the bath mat.  Not so romantic after all!
      The other ingredient, and one that also packed a punch, was learning how to say NO and to SIMPLIFY.  Each year this looked different depending on where I was mentally and emotionally.  The key was to trust were I was at and use that as a starting point.  I had to make sure I was doing the work so I could trust my emotional state.  Once there, I could decide what I wanted to do.  Some years I decorated like crazy and went to lots of parties.  Some years I did not decorate at all and stayed home.  The constant thread though was being aware of how I felt and doing what I needed to do.
      This was hard to learn because I discovered that not everyone appreciated this.  I was expected to do what was always done.  I am out of favor with certain family members for not attending the annual dinner at a local restaurant.  They think I don’t come because I don’t like them and judge them.  The real reason is they are all actively drinking/drugging and I am very uncomfortable in this environment.  You’d think I could just white knuckle it and go for the day but I’ve decided that after many years of “trying” that I just did not want to.  I told them I couldn’t come because I’m honoring my recovery, but they don’t understand.  To be honest, it’s a relief not to have to be around that any longer.  This was a process and one that I had to learn and be able to be comfortable with my decision.
      I’ve created new traditions, ones that honor the new me.  I’ve changed so much since that first sober Christmas and each year I’ve added/subtracted “traditions”.  One of the most enduring and endearing changes I’ve made is going to a Saturday matinee of the Nutcracker with my husband.  It is so joyful to see all the children dressed up and excited.  We splurge on good seats, wear our fancy outfits and then go out for an early dinner.  In the beginning, he was a good sport and just came along, but now he’s grown to love it as well and it’s something we really look forward to.
      Another tradition is I’ve stopped giving/receiving gifts with the exception of a few close friends.  This took so much pressure off me, financially and emotionally.  Again, my request to do this was initially met with resistance and judgment but now it’s normal and I think we are all a bit relieved.
      I do love to give and send cards so I keep this tradition.  I also like to bring out certain items that make me happy.  I have the cheesiest fiber optic Christmas tree, one I bought as a sort of joke about ten years ago and it has become one of my most favorite pieces.  It gives me so much joy!  I also have many lovely ornaments from years of Christmas exchanges on the old WFS/AOL message board and I always bring those out.
      I also make sure to do the basics:   get plenty of rest, eat right, exercise and continue my daily practice of prayer and meditation.  I know time is short, but I MAKE THE TIME.  I get up earlier or do them in between during the day; the key is to do these things.  It’s the foundation on which I build my day.  I do it daily all year long; why would I not do it now, during one of the more stressful times?  It keeps me sane.
      So there you have it.  The basics.  A good recipe for success.  It’s simple and it works.

To sum it up:
¦ Don’t drink no matter what.
¦ Use your tools to keep yourself healthy on all levels –mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually.
¦ Simplify!
¦ Learn how to say no.
¦ Create new traditions for yourself.
¦ Know what you want and don’t be afraid to express it.
¦ Be grateful for your New Life.

      That last one, gratitude, is the biggest gift you can give yourself.  Indulge yourself!  Happy Holidays!  Onward!  ”dask”
[Reprint from December 2011, Sobering Thoughts Newsletter.]
© WFS Inc. * Women for Sobriety, Inc., PO Box 618, Quakertown PA 18951
Email: contact@womenforsobriety.org  *  Ph: 215-536-8026 *  Fax: 215-538-9026
Daily Inspirations on Twitter: @WFS4C  *  Check out the WFS Blog: http://wfsorg.blogspot.com
When you shop at smile.amazon.com, Amazon donates to Women for Sobriety.
PayPal Giving Fund: 100% of your donation reaches WFS and contributes to our mission.

DONATE NOW ~ Your Donations Help Support WFS’s Services ~ Thank you!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

12 Days of Sober Christmas ~ Day 9: Help for the Holidays

…for the Holidays

    Do holidays often give you the desire to drink?  Whether you want to celebrate or drink out of frustration, many special occasions have similar triggers.
    The word holiday is defined as a day set aside by law or custom, usually in commemoration of some event.  I consider holidays to include not only Christmas and the 4th of July but also such events as birthdays and weddings.
    The following are my best tips for maintaining your sobriety during those first few difficult years. 
The Biggest Tip
    The biggest tip I can give you is to focus on yourself and your recovery.  That may sound overly simple but it works!  Read inspiring books, go to more meetings, give yourself treats such as getting a massage or buying something special.  Talk to sober friends about the upcoming event you are worried about.  Knowing that people are supporting you is comforting.
    When you are paying attention to yourself and working on your recovery, you are less likely to be influenced by external circumstances.  If someone inadvertently hands you a glass of champagne on New Year’s Eve, it is less likely you will be caught off guard.  This will make it easier for you to firmly say “no thank you.”
    If you are feeling especially vulnerable, don’t underestimate the value of advance planning.  Picture the worst scenario and how you would handle it.  Avoid situations that trigger you.  Buy and bring something non-alcoholic that you like to drink. 
Keep It Simple!
    Do only what gives you pleasure and what time reasonably allows.  This is a good opportunity to recognize your needs and practice setting boundaries.  For example, stress and overwhelm are my biggest triggers for wanting to drink.  I dislike cooking so I’ve given up on giving dinner parties and baking 5 different kinds of cookies.  I don’t barbecue my 4th of July meat anymore; I buy it already grilled at the local market.
    I’ve learned to say no to some invitations.  Try to avoid too much explaining or feeling guilty.  Whatever it takes for you to keep your sobriety has to be your main priority!
Decrease the Number of Gifts You Give
    This was very difficult for me because I felt obligated to get the right thing for everyone.  I don’t enjoy shopping in stores so now I buy most of my gifts on-line.  To save time, I buy gifts throughout the year when I happen to see something that is just right for someone.  This strategy also keeps me from experiencing a financial pinch at the end of the year.
    Gradually, over the years, I have downgraded the number of gifts I give, and you know what?!  The people I exchange gifts with experience the same sense of relief I do.  I also make it clear to them that they don’t have to reciprocate if they don’t feel like it.
Start Your Own Traditions
    Instead of giving gifts to cousins, we donate to our favorite charity and send a little announcement to them telling them about it.  They do the same and we get to learn about different organizations that help people and animals.  It feels good to help others who are less fortunate than we are.
    Sometimes the artist in me wants to make handmade cards and I get great enjoyment out of playing with paint and paper.  But I don’t like to cook, so Santa gets store bought cookies now!  My family loves to laugh.  We give gag gifts to each other just for the humor.  That seems to be more important to them than the serious gifts now!
    On my birthday, this year, I convinced my family not to buy me gifts.  Instead I went shopping for a new coffee table and I got what I really wanted!
Beware Of Family Fuses
    Families can bring out the best and the worst in each of us.  If you feel strong enough to not engage in reactive behavior, then get together with them.  If not, then be honest with yourself and maybe postpone or change your plans.  There’s nothing wrong with taking care of yourself during a challenging period in your sobriety.
    I used to disappear during cocktail hour to do my journal or have a cup of tea.  At a certain stage in my sobriety, I just couldn’t be around people who were drinking when I wanted to join them. 
Don’t Give Up Your Healthy Habits
    I used to give up my exercise class during the holidays because I “didn’t have time.”  Wrong choice!  I got stressed and irritable.  Now I always make room for exercise and find other things to eliminate.
    Overindulging in food and sweets may seem like a righteous choice if you can’t drink, but beware of the “hangover” you will experience.  Low blood sugar may make your craving for a drink even stronger.  If you have to overeat, choose food over sugar if possible.
    My early morning coffee and journal time before everyone else gets up is very important to me.  It lets me review what happened the day before, figure out what I need to work on, appreciate special moments and experience new insights as I write.  This is a must for me to maintain my sanity amidst busy days.
    Meditation is extremely helpful for me to release held tension, become calmer, and accept what is.  I must admit that it is more difficult for me to embrace sitting on the pillow than writing in my journal.  I tend to be much more of a “doer.”  But when I feel too much tension building up, I do sit because I know I will feel much better when I am through. 
A Personal, Inspiring Story
    On the morning of my 9th sober Thanksgiving, my family was walking our dog in the park and my husband suggested we each think of 3 things we were thankful for (not including our family-that was a given!).
    I thought of my health and was thankful that I could attend Jazzercise classes.  My Jazzercise teacher was no longer able to teach due to an unusual health problem she was experiencing.  I thought of my job and how I was thankful that I could work at home.  Then I wracked my brain, trying to think of a third.  What else was important in my life?  Then it came to me, I was thankful that it was Thanksgiving and I wasn’t thinking about wanting a drink.  Wow, and I really wasn’t thinking about it at all!
    I can remember when my addictive self tried to convince me that having just a few drinks at Christmas once a year couldn’t hurt.  Fortunately, I refused to listen as I knew that those few drinks would jumpstart the addictive monster machine inside me.
    During my first few sober holidays, I was resentful of those who could drink--it wasn’t fair!  Whether it’s beer on the 4th of July or champagne on New Year’s Eve, you’ll just have to trust me that these triggers lose their intensity over time.  Eventually, you will experience what I did, realizing that I no longer desire alcohol on a holiday!
You Can Learn to Enjoy Holidays
    Holidays are a time to appreciate what you have, to reconnect with family and friends, to affirm your spiritual roots, and to enjoy some time off for yourself (another definition of holiday is a day set aside for leisure and recreation!).
    Go to church if it inspires you, take a long walk on the beach, find something to laugh about.  These are the things you must search for in order to feel fulfilled without the need for alcohol.
Words of Support
    Be proud of what you’ve already accomplished!  You can get through the next holiday too.  With time and preparation, it becomes just one more day without a drink.
    All of the ideas I have shared with you help me to reduce stress and maintain my sobriety during holidays.  I hope that these tips help you too!  I know you can do it!  ~Jeannie L. – California~
© WFS Inc. * Women for Sobriety, Inc., PO Box 618, Quakertown PA 18951
Email: contact@womenforsobriety.org  *  Ph: 215-536-8026  *  Fax: 215-538-9026
Daily Inspirations on Twitter: @WFS4C  *  Check out the WFS Blog: http://wfsorg.blogspot.com
When you shop at smile.amazon.com, Amazon donates to Women for Sobriety.
PayPal Giving Fund: 100% of your donation reaches WFS and contributes to our mission.

DONATE NOW ~ Your Donations Help Support WFS’s Services ~ Thank you!