Articles from WWE Members

The Best Medicine

Joyce Foster Articles from WWE Members Comments Off on The Best Medicine

The following article was written by Dori Abbott, one of our Woman Within Eastern USA members.


Re-membering. Becoming whole. Reconnecting our souls, hearts, and minds with our bodies. This seems an impossible task for those who have been Circle of Women Paintingtraumatized by sexual or physical violation by others. And that’s a lot of women—according to UN statistics, over a billion women on this planet have experienced severe sexual and/or physical violence. Many who have experienced this violence are disconnected from their own muscles, sinews, and feelings. And while they may be vocal about destroying “rape culture,” they have lost their authentic voice—the voice that fights for their own “remembering” as women. What would the world be like if all these women could be heard? Could be made whole again by re-membering? What productivity, what beauty and magic could they; would they create if given the chance?

Charlene Smith, reporter of violent, global conflict, and rape survivor equates being raped with being under fire in a war zone. Both are an assault on the most intimate, spiritual parts of our being. Both require the same calm, the same suppressed emotion, and the same bodily disassociation. Post-traumatic stress disorder is the mind’s reaction to life-altering trauma. Do doctors and therapists understand what is truly needed—what is the best medicine? Sometimes. But not always. The usual answer is prescription medication—most likely antidepressants.

Oftentimes these psychiatric drugs don’t facilitate healing because they don’t allow the mourning and grief necessary for true, deep healing. They suppress feelings, they numb. And aren’t we already numb enough? We so badly want to forget, that all kinds of our parts go numb—our hearts, our souls, and our capacity for sheer joy. Drugging us helps society silence us, says Smith, because our words remind society of its role in our pain and the imperative for those who consider themselves “good” to act against this type of violence.

So what is the best medicine? Being respectfully heard, without judgment, without comment, and without action. This is the best medicine, and this is what the Woman Within weekends offer—the chance to be heard, believed, and validated. Sometimes drugs are necessary, sometimes therapy can be healing; but the simplest, most straightforward approach is nearly always best. Other women who listen and support. This is the power of Woman Within.

“Try” by Liz Dederer

Joyce Foster Articles from WWE Members Comments Off on “Try” by Liz Dederer

I’m going to TRY to make this one short….

There’s so much I want to say about the word, but I really want to be respectful of your time, you coming here to watch this, taking time out of your already so busy and jam-packed day, so I’m going to do my best to {TRY} to keep this short.

Do you see what I’m doing there?

I’m going on and on about how I’m TRYING to keep this short, even going so far as to say that I’ll do my best to make this short.

1) Assess::

Something funny happens when you allow the word TRY into your language. 

As soon as we say the word {TRY},
it’s like a life handed us a permission slip to not commit.

If we TRY, if we DO OUR BEST, it’s somehow all be ok.

Like we say to our kids, ‘A for effort’, “as long as you try that’s all that matters.”

Well, the reality is, that’s not all that matters.  And to be perfectly honest, sometimes your best just aint good enough

2) Undefine::

When you TRY you are DOING; you’re just questioning the outcome.

You don’t believe that your efforts will create the desired outcome (success) so you’re allowing room for failure.  

3) Maximize::

Easy.  Stop using it. 

Commit to choice.  Do or do not.  Remove the word TRY from your vocabulary and you WILL maximize your value, in life, in business and most importantly, within you!!

And that’s how you maximize your value, one word a time!!!


Tell me in the comments below what your biggest take away is!   

How are you going to infuse this ‘new’ definition of {TRY} to maximize your value in life, in business and within you?


Reposted with Permission from

Discovering The Source of Balance In My Life

Joyce Foster Articles from WWE Members Comments Off on Discovering The Source of Balance In My Life

An article by Viviane Kaneff, original published for the blog “Just Bloom – Beyond Beauty” CW_3

In June of 1996 I attended a personal growth workshop called The Woman Within Training Weekend. I went as a favor to my husband. I had never done anything like this and I felt, rather arrogantly, that I really didn’t “need” anything like this. After all I had a good life: a long, monogamous relationship with my husband, two healthy sons, a beautiful home and a loving relationship with my family and my in-laws.

I had a life many would envy, good health, financial stability and a loving family. And yet…in those quiet moments I lived in a fantasy world that bore no resemblance to my real life. And I never stopped to ask myself, ‘why?’ Why were daydreams so enticing? What was missing from my real life? Who am I really? I was fearful of the answers to those questions and what I might have to do once I faced the answers. At this point you might think I was nervous about attending this workshop. You would be wrong. I was so buried in my shell I wasn’t apprehensive at all. And then the weekend began.

In a safe and non-judgmental setting I was invited to begin an inward journey and review my life’s choices. Along the way I was supported and given many options to shape my weekend experience in the way that worked for me. I was given the opportunity to examine my life and gain a better understanding of the choices I had made and why I made them. I had the luxury to look inward with compassion. I left the weekend on a cloud, filled with excitement and joy.

This one weekend, as glorious as it was, did not transform me into a completely new woman. But it did reintroduce me to myself. Slowly, I learned to change some of the negative and positive messages from my childhood. By that I mean that some messages come from a place of good intentions: “don’t be selfish”; “you must compromise to get along with other people”. However, through my life’s filters I heard these messages in such a way that I never asked for what I wanted for fear of rejection. I never set the healthy boundaries I needed, that we all need to live harmoniously with our family and friends.

How does this relate to balance? I discovered that when I lived and interacted with family and friends from a place of wholeness, all the pieces of my life fit together with ease and grace. When I learned to place myself in the picture and honor my feelings, my desires, and my dreams, I was less angry, less depressed, less inward facing. My previous ‘perfect life’ was missing the most important piece: a fully realized and engaged me. How could I expect to balance, much less appreciate the different parts of my life when the true me, the authentic me, was missing?

Since that June weekend I have learned to value and honor myself the way I value and honor the people in my life I care about. Balance is a bit of an illusion with respect to the various aspects of our life: our family, our work, and our passions.  I no longer strive to keep everything equally balanced, but I now recognize that when I have dedicated too much time to one facet, I need to connect with the pieces that fill me and give me joy. Learning to set healthy boundaries and to respect myself with compassion has given me balance and fulfillment in ways I would not have imagined years ago.

Where are you on your life’s journey? How is your balance? Are you stuck? Do you have negative messages that influence your ability to live fully?  Do you have questions? I know there are as many answers to these questions as there are women. Since my June weekend I have staffed this training many times and witnessed many types of healing. If you would like to learn more about The Woman Within Training Weekend, you can watch a short video on our web site, For general information about the Woman Within Training Weekend, please visit

A Gathering of Elders

Joyce Foster Articles from WWE Members Comments Off on A Gathering of Elders

Shared by Phyllis Redman, from her blog, A Life Being Lived, Redman & Nadine

I spent a lot of my life looking for a place I wanted to call home, a place where people walked their lives with honor, courage and integrity as much as we flawed and wounded human beings can. From suburban ladybug  to New Mexico hippie to inner-city teacher, I morphed until, finally, 14 years ago I became part of a group called Woman Within International.  Woman Within is not a place, but it is a community, a global one with chapters in the USA, Canada, France, England, Australia and South Africa.  Maybe more.  My neighborhood is called East Coast Sage Circle, (ECSC,) which goes from Maine to Florida.   I think of us as grown-up hippies – not from any similarity to “sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll,” but from the living out of the “peace, brother” philosophy of flower children, then and now.  God, I love this community of sisters.

There are brothers too.  They’re part of the Mankind Project (MKP,) or Warriors, also a global community.  I’ll bet most of you have never known men like these.  They cry.  And express themselves.  And work hard to become better men.  They’re beautiful.

This past weekend, MKP sponsored their annual Gathering of Elders event.  For the first time they included a program, and an open invitation, to women.  I organized it. (Have a lot of pride around this, gotta say.)  Tuesday morning and I’m still aglow.  Not from what I did…from the utter sweetness of the whole event.  There were workshops for women, for men, and some for all of us together.  Saturday night there was a talent show for everyone.  Afterwards I thought, every 20-, and 30-, and 40-year-old should get a load of us!  Men and women from 50 to 84, bursting with energy, talent, creativity, laughter, and a sweet kindness toward one another that could undoubtedly save the world.  So much for aging being something to fear!

Late Sunday morning, we gathered into a huge circle and each of us spoke to what the weekend had meant to us.  A sense of gratitude permeated the room, expressed over and over…for the blessing we felt to be part of this community, to live in a reality where we could buffer each other against at least some of the more cruel and frightening realities of human experience, where we could share a sense of purpose, a devotion to making the world better, one man and one woman at a time.  Blessed to live in the relative safety of this part of the world; to have these brothers and sisters in our lives;  to be able to live with a sense of abundance, even though many of us there are struggling financially.  To have faith, in whatever way each has, and someone to hold us up when that faith falters.  To be conscious and aware of these blessings at all.

Grandmother Aggie, leader and most elder  of the Council of the 13 Indigenous Grandmothers, was our keynote speaker.  She came with her daughter Nadine.  Both Grandma Aggie and Nadine were full of laughter, passion, dedication (to saving this planet,) wisdom and faith.  During the time they sat with the women, one woman told a story of her friend’s son, who at 16, had over-dosed accidentally and was laying in a coma, with little expectation that he would ever awaken, and little hope that, if he did, he would be anything but a vegetable.  Grandma led us in prayer, Christian, Jewish, Native prayer.  Sunday night when I got home, there was a message that this young boy had not only awakened, but was aware of who and where he was!

Oh my goodness, what we can do together!

Reconnecting to Woman Within

Joyce Foster Articles from WWE Members Comments Off on Reconnecting to Woman Within

After being very involved for the first five years after my Woman Within initiation in 1997, I decided to step away mostly for practical reasons: work, change of hands creating circlefocus and rebalancing of my own needs and wants, work, physical limits. Even though I stepped back from the work, I never stepped away from what I had gained. In fact, I continued to integrate all my experiences into my life and my self. One of the reasons I enjoyed my work as a physical therapist more was because I could feel everything so much more intensely and be so much more compassionate both with myself and others.

Then about a year ago, as I was about to embark on another life passage-retirement, I recalled how pivotal Woman Within had been when navigating through another difficult transition many years ago.  I had many fears and some sadness as well as gladness about this new phase. I didn’t want to miss anything: I wanted to feel it all- the loss, the beginning of something new, the letting go, the honoring of my work life from my colleagues. I wanted to be as present as I could be in my life! 

So I asked to staff the weekend last October. I knew reconnection with the WW community of women would give me many gifts and throw light on my shadows that might keep me from moving through and forward in my life. While all the initiates are doing their work we are with them, like Innana’s helpers, and yet we are them too! Just like we can be happy and sad at once or angry and sad or happy or even fearful at the same time, we are as much there for ourselves as for the initiates. We mirror, they mirror and the container we create holds all this healing energy.

I met many new women that weekend and reconnected with many also. It was like I had never left! I hadn’t really. We are all part of many circles. I did decide after that weekend that I wanted to staff again when possible and also get involved in an e-circle or virtual circle on a more regular basis. I am finding the virtual circle with 3 other women and our fearless leader for now (Lynn Murphy) very worthwhile and deepening. I also attended the community weekend in April. That was fun and a good way to connect with more women and help add to the scholarship fund.

And yes, I retired about two weeks ago. I spent time with each patient and colleague that was important for me and experienced each moment as fully as I could. My first thought was that I didn’t want any goodbye party or gifts and then I decided to let go of that and just accept whatever came with grace and gratitude! I felt much heartfelt appreciation for my work life that I was saying goodbye to and those with whom I had shared it.

I also decided to go visit two dear friends who retired last year and see how they were stepping into this part of their Iives.  I found them involved and happy, stepping into their own new beginning. I know my life will be my own, but I’ve learned that good models are important. Yet another Woman Within gift.

By Noreen Rossi

The Roar of the Lion — By Dori Ann Abbott

Joyce Foster Articles from WWE Members Comments Off on The Roar of the Lion — By Dori Ann Abbott

               One of the hardest things about being a minister is learning to stand alongside another human as she faces sickness, tragedy or loss. My pastor and his wife saw me this week at church for the first time since I relapsed. The doctors call it relapse even though I have never been here before. As a grammarian this bothers me. Re means again; and there is no again without a first. Nonetheless, here I am with MSRR. That is Multiple Sclerosis with remitting/relapsing episodes. They found fifteen lesions on my brain. Apparently I have had this for some time, but no one realized it.

                It must have been a shock to them. The last time they saw me was at Easter when I cooked five homemade, elaborate desserts for a crowd that had dinner at their house. On Sunday I was barely able to walk; leaning heavily on my husband’s arm just to get down the aisle to communion—my body shaking with uncontrollable tremors. With visible tears in his eyes, he mentioned me in the sermon. I don’t remember any segue. It just seemed like he couldn’t help himself. With all that attention, I shook even more violently.

                I expected a call this week, or an email—some form of reaching out. Then I remembered that when my dad was dying, some of his friends and family avoided coming to see him. It made them so uncomfortable to be around sickness and death that they lost the chance to see him one last time. It takes incredible courage to face one’s own mortality—to look sickness and death in the eye and know that the odds are stacked against you and that the house always wins. To know that even if you fight bravely and well, you may lose. It likewise takes an incredible amount of courage, inner wisdom, and grace—more than most humans have—to just be there in that space with another human; to face the roar of the lion.

                This is a space where you can’t fix anything or mend it with theology or clichés. All you can do is be there, and that is something most humans have never learned to do. This is a noble and courageous act—the act of a true warrior/friend: to stand beside another so close to the roaring lion that you can feel his hot breath in your face. You can feel the droplets of saliva hit you as his mouth waters for his prey. In this moment you are forced to face your own mortality. You realize that you might be next. You could be the one who is struck down in your prime. Most humans fall short of this kind of courage. I have seen this courage in my sisters at Woman Within, and along the way in a few strange, uninitiated warriors—both male and female, both young and old; and that kind of courage and wisdom and grace is rare indeed. Like all rare things, it’s worth is priceless.

(These words were shared with us by our ECSC Community Sister, Dori Ann Abbott.   As her powerful words touch your heart, we ask you to take a moment to send Dori a healing blessing of support.)