The Family of Women - It can change your life!
The Family of Women
Sterling Women's Weekend
PLEASE READ: I have received a variety of responses to this page (positive, negative, encouraging and hostile). Please remember, this is one woman's opinion about one aspect of her life. This is something that worked for me. That does not mean that everyone who has done the Weekend or knows someone who did has had the same experience. Please continue reading this page with that in mind. Thank you.
The Family of Women (FOW) is a very special organization that grew out of and is part of the Sterling Institute of Relationship . In order to join the FOW you must take part in the Sterling Women's Weekend, which I did in August of 1994. The experience changed my life.
The purpose of the Sterling Women's Weekend is:
To engage in the process
of locating the source of your power
and discovering and dissolving the barriers
between you and manifesting that power in
your relationships and in the world.
I know... it's a mouthful, but each section can be important, depending on where you are in your life. Sometimes I find that all I can do is "engage in the process", whatever that process may be. At other times, I am more focused on locating the source of my power or, more challenging, dissolving my barriers. And then there are those really magical times when I manifest my power in my relationships.
I chose to do the Weekend when it became more important to me to do what would work in my life instead of making the same mistakes over and over and getting frustrated when I got no closer to my dreams. My best friend, Adrienne, was my Big Sister (sort of like a sponsor). She had done her Weekend in October 1992, just before we met. During the course of our friendship, I came to notice how she was making changes that brought her closer to her goals - and when she was frustrated, mad, or feeling down about herself, she didn't stay in that place for very long. Still, I resisted, saying that I would do the Weekend at some point, just not yet. Eventually through her I started to notice that I was committed to my problems and not to doing whatever it would take to have the relationships that I wanted. When I became committed to doing things differently, I decided to do the Weekend.
I was definitely nervous before going to the Weekend. I didn't feel that I knew a lot about it, only that Adrienne and other women I had met in the course of registering had seen important changes in their lives as a result of doing the Weekend. But I was willing to trust her and I know I wanted to get the goals that I had written.
One of the things that made me nervous was the hours. The Women's Weekend takes place over the course of a Saturday and Sunday and has long hours. What I discovered is that it is 48 hours packed with information and tools that showed me where I was getting in the way of having the relationships I have always wanted. And the dreams of my heart. I got a good night sleep for the nights leading up to the weekend, and as best as I could from Saturday through Sunday (it was hard given how much was running through my head by that time!) Although the hours are long, I discovered that it isn't too hard to stay awake -- the same way you stay awake for that really great date that you wish would will never end. For most of the time I found it wonderful, engaging and inspiring. You don't want to miss a moment of it! :) When wasn't it wonderful? When I had to face some of the ways I was responsible for things that had happened in my life. I still don't like taking responsibility. But, it does help me to move forward!
I was also nervous about being with so many women. How many women? Approximately 200 women at a time to be exact!! I never thought I could feel intimacy in a group so large, but after a while I began to realize how similar we all were, how connected we all could be, and slowly but surely I felt my walls come down. I felt less alone, more connected and more at peace with myself than I could ever remember.
The Weekend is all about relationship. It is as simple -- and sometimes as complicated -- as that. It is an experience. I don't mean that in the "Wow, what an experience" sense, but rather, it is something that you as a person will experience. You will be moved by it, torn by it, and even at times, possibly, infuriated by it. But you will learn so very much about yourself and the relationships in your life. The Weekend covers your relationships with men (husbands, fathers, brothers, sons, etc.), other women, your mother, your higher purpose, and, most importantly (to me, anyway), your relationship with yourself. It will show you what works and what doesn't and how to make the changes that will help. For me, I left behind a lot of negative self beliefs and came away with a feeling of hope and possibility that I have kept for over 4 years. It truly reached my core. Not that I am in high self-esteem all the time (I wish!), but rather, I have a deeper internal belief in myself that I can go back to when I need it (and women in my life to remind me that it's there!).
To participate in the Weekend you must write three (3) goals which are about areas in your life (around relationship) that you would like to change as a result of doing the Women's Weekend. These can be around any relationship. Mine were:
1) To accept my parents unconditionally for what they can and cannot give me so that I can unconditionally accept others.
2) To learn what my needs are in a relationship and learn how to appropriately ask for and have my needs met.
3) To learn what stops me with men so that I will take the risks necessary to be in a long term committed relationship.
As a result of the Weekend and these goals, I healed my relationship with my mother which had been very bad for over 4 years. Andů I was able to recognize my husband as the man of my dreams (instead of sabotaging the relationship at every turn, which was my precious pattern).
I also deepened my relationship with myself, Adrienne, and allowed in the friendship and support of women. Now I have a huge community of women in my life who are there for everything at anytime (yes, I have called them in the middle of the night - and they have called me). I know that with their love and support, all of my dreams - even the ones I have yet to discover - are possible. When I went to the Weekend I only had a few select friends and I often felt lonely in a crowded room. I didn't want people to be close to me because then I could get hurt. Sure, this is something that I still struggle with (it's a Weekend - not a lobotomy!), but now I cannot imagine my life without them.
Have you heard? The Weekend is lead by Justin Sterling. Yes, Justin. He's a man. How can a man lead a woman's weekend? Who better than a man to tell you what works with men - and what doesn't. For me, Justin's presence enabled me to deal with all the different issues that I had around men. He became every man I had ever known. I went through him, in a manner of speaking, to get to the other side and come to terms with myself and who I was and who I wanted to be in my relationships with men.
Justin works with a woman partner and she leads parts of the weekend that are not appropriate for a man. It's hard to describe what that means, but, honestly, there are places where women need to go together, and they must do this without men present.
Much is made about the fact that the details of the Weekend are confidential. The reason for this is, in part, that for each woman the experience is different. Although there are many common bonds shared by the women, the way each of us experiences the Women's Weekend is unique. If I gave a woman the details of my weekend, she would experience my weekend instead of her own. In addition, some women are willing to bare their very souls, deepest fears, and most intimate secrets in the Weekend. To create the bond that allows this to happen, it is necessary for women to be confident that all that is said in the Weekend will be held in confidence by everyone there - always.
I chose to join the Family of Women after the Weekend so that I would continue to learn how to use what I had discovered about myself. I knew before going that I was likely to join. I decided that I wasn't going to spend that much money on myself (the Weekend currently costs $600) and spend that much time only to go back to doing what didn't work before.
Joining the FOW is completely optional - and even if you do join, you are free to leave it at any time. Women will support you to be clear about your decision, but no one will ever stop you. As to enrolling other women to do the Weekend, that, too is a personal decision. Most women who join the Family of Women feel they got something very special from the Weekend and want other women in their lives to have this, too. You will never be forced to register women, but it is an important part of the FOW.
I could write forever about the gifts I have received and continue to receive from the Weekend and the Family of Women. The FOW has been a part of my life for over fours years now. With them I have had the opportunity to put my dreams out into the Universe and hold dearly the dreams of other women. What a difference it has made to own my dreams and believe not only that I deserve them - but will have them, too!
How much do I believe in the gifts of the Weekend and the FOW? I was the Big Sister for my mother and sister-in-law. And six weeks before our wedding my husband did the Men's Weekend (but that would be another page!)
There is little printed literature on the Weekend. You need to be in relationship with a graduate of the Weekend in order to learn more and register. Makes sense, doesn't it!
I hope all women find the support they need in their lives to have all of their dreams!
The world needs us to live big!!
Table of Contents (lots of other stuff here!)
The graphics on this page were designed by