Women for Sobriety, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping women overcome Substance Use Disorders. Founded in 1975, it was the first national self-help recovery program for women. The WFS New Life Program helps women achieve sobriety and sustain ongoing recovery. This blog is being preserved as an archive, as new posts are now being made on our main website, womenforsobriety.org.
we argue for our limitations, we get to keep them.”-Evelyn Waugh
as your car runs more smoothly and requires less energy to go faster and
farther when the wheels are in perfect alignment, you perform better when your
thoughts, feelings and emotions, goals and values are in balance.”-Brian Tracy
the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.”-Eleanor Roosevelt
In the past it was easy to fight for
perceived limitations, it was predictable and comfortable while responsibility
felt overwhelming and filled with uncertainty.Alcohol accelerated negative self-talk and created a dangerous scaffold
of knee jerk excuses and blame.Over
time isolation became the norm, relationships became emotionally painful, and
living became almost too much to bear.
Sobriety and Statement #13 in action
provide a course for continuing recovery and feelings of contentment.Our founder, Jean Kirkpatrick, PhD, put
Statement #13 into action even before writing the WFS New Life Program.With the acceptance and realization of what
she was doing was not working, Jean devised a plan that would.Examining her thoughts, Jean identified and
organized her thinking.Letting go of
limitations and discovering and encouraging her strengths; Women for Sobriety
In practicing Statement #13, it is
possible to experience trust, release blame and respond with ever increasing
ability.In our Program
Booklet on page 34, “Through the New
Life Program, we learn we are competent women, trusting our ability to make
decisions.It teaches us how to be in
charge of our minds, our thoughts and our lives.”
·Do you have a blame or excuses tape that runs through your mind?
·How you do interrupt and eliminate any self-defeating tape?
·What does responsibility feel like before and after your New
Hi 4C Women,
I started laughing out loud when Karen
asked if we have a blame or excuses tape that runs through our mind.Years ago, it would have taken an oversized
truck to haul those blame/excuses tapes out to examine.While there are life situations that can stop
us in our tracks and tackle years of hard personal growth work, in the end we
are responsible for our reactions and responses by taking these situations and
making them life lessons for change and retrospection.I guess you could say it is learning from our
mistakes and making healthier choices.For
me, that is what Statement 13 represents when it says that I am responsible for
myself and for my actions.Sober, I can
no longer blame others for my actions/reactions.I have to say it was easier to blame others
in the past.It was a habit I had
developed and it took a lot of going through, not around, my choices/thoughts
to take charge of my life.I was
terrified when I went through my divorce and without having a choice to ignore
it, I actually began to feel more and more empowered as I decided what I needed
and how I had to stand on my own.Not
everything went the way I had thought it would, yet I was no longer feeling defeated,
punished or the victim.This process
took time, lots of it, yet I knew I was in a much better place and moving in
the right direction by making my own decisions, learning to trust myself and
Nancy Cross, a dear friend of WFS who
passed away, once wrote in a message that we need to understand the difference
between controlling and being in control.When you find yourself wanting to control others, ask yourself what do
you want and then how can you get it?By
focusing on how you can get what you want, rather than on how others can give
it to you, you assume a much more active role in determining what you get from
life.This represents the blame/victim
mode to me.While blaming and being the
victim, I tried to get others to help me and not in a positive way.I believe in compassion and supporting those
who need our encouragement.I am talking
about manipulating others so I didn’t have to do the work of Statement 13.It took time to fully understand and practice
this Statement and I will tell you, I am grateful that I kept on trying even in
the darkest of times.Thank you, WFS,
for the guidance of the Statements and especially #13.
The only real time we
have is “NOW”.Often we bring the past
to the present.Together we will explore
ways of tending to our visitations of the past that can move us in the
direction of healing.With compassionate
honest communication, giving attention to the tenderness of our heart can heal
a multitude of self-negating patterns.
was certified in 1979 as a massage therapist and has made health and well-being
her personal commitment and life’s purpose.She is a group facilitator with many years of experience in body wisdom,
stress modification, and the healing powers of love.Her new passion is participating in theater,
promoting social change, and addressing issues involving domestic violence,
alcoholism, drug abuse, economic injustice, and environmental justice..O has provided presentations and workshops
for various organizations and has appeared on radio and TV talk shows.
This workshop is an optional Friday afternoon add-on;
a small additional fee applies.
would say to always follow your dream.And dream big because my whole career, including any of the things that
I’ve accomplished, I never thought in a million years that I would be here.So it proves that once you believe in
yourself, and you put your mind to something, you can do it.”-Simone Biles
difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed
at.It matters that you don’t just give
you want in life, other people are going to want it too.Believe in yourself enough to accept the idea
that you have an equal right to it.”-Diane Sawyer
Not believing in oneself knows no
boundaries; from an Olympic athlete, community leader to a reflection in the
mirror, anyone can become discouraged or distressed by feelings of lack or
inadequacy.Substance abuse demolishes
the ability to feel able or competent, further decreasing self-worth and
Statement #12 in action increases
self-belief.In our Program
Booklet, Jean writes, “Each of us is unique and has something very special
to give.Claiming and accepting our own
competence is a vital aspect of our New Life.”Answering the questions on page 32, “Can you identify your strengths?Are you aware of moments throughout your life
when you were competent?” offer insight into increasing competence.
Balancing a checkbook to solving a complex
equation to winning an Olympic medal; are each born from asserting it is
possible.Starting with smaller actions
such as making the bed or doing yoga every morning, it is possible to continue
to build feelings of believing in the self and knowing it always.
Hi 4C Women,
I read that self-esteem is the reputation
we have with ourselves that includes self-respect, self-love and self-worth and
a measure of how much we like and approve of our self-concept.It contains a wide variety of beliefs and
images.Healthy self-esteem does not
prevent us from having doubts or feeling occasionally inadequate.It permits us to view ourselves and the world
around us realistically and to make wise choices in our lives.
I use to do a lot of negative self-talk,
always apologizing even when there wasn’t a reason to, seeking approval from
others because I didn’t like myself, rejecting compliments and feeling so
inadequate.There were those who
believed in my abilities long before I did.Drinking quieted the voice in my head that kept telling me these people
would soon realize I was a fraud.Fortunately,
sobriety helped me build compassion for myself, forgiving my self-doubts and
the willingness to continue challenging the inner critic when he appears to
knock down my confidence with old messages that are not my truth today.
So, I think to myself, what do I have to
give to life?Where does my competency
show in this world?How would you answer
List 5 things you admire about yourself.Hopefully this will be easier to answer after
completing the questions above.
planning is basic to recovery.Relapse
is a process, not an isolated event.It
is more than a return to drinking, it’s a return to negative addictive
thinking, feeling, and behavior.Participants
will receive handouts that will include an article by WFS founder, Dr. Jean Kirkpatrick,
called “Understanding Relapse,” and there will be a role-playing segment so
that participants can get involved in responding to events or other triggers.
Sue has long-term sobriety from alcohol and other drugs since
1996.She has been the Certified
Moderator for the Champaign, IL, WFS group for several years.Many women know Zeecha as the auctioneer from
the WFS Conference and her welcoming and friendly self.WFS has been the only program she has ever
used. She credits Jean Kirkpatrick as
Christine has been 4C woman since July of 2015 and is also
a stage-trained actress and former SAG member.She will be leading the role-playing segment of this workshop.
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.