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All People > Dancingthrulife_6.4.13 > Dancingthrulife_6.4.13 Blog > 2019 > May

~~Don't live the same day for 75 years and call it a life.~~  Robin S. Sharma


It's safe, isn't it, to stay in what you know.  Your work schedule, dinner with family, maybe a vacation every now and then.  Routine is comforting and we feel in control of our lives.  


Yet.....did you know that if we stop learning, we start dying?  Maybe that is due in part to our smoking because heaven knows that is where we are comfortable.  Maybe it's partly due to the fear of starting something new.  Something different.  Maybe we've been 'burned' in the past and have retreated into the safety of our comfortably boring daily routine.  When routine makes you live automatically instead of actively, life kinda leaves you behind.


Quitting screams "Danger!! Danger!!".  How do we live without that first smoke in the morning?  How do we stay in routine when our whole routine circled around our next cigarette?  What do we do when we lose control of our habits?


I started by giving up.  Oh, my gosh, I was soooooo tired of starting and stopping my quits.  I was tired of centering my whole life around cigarettes....smoking them and then trying to not smoke them.  So I gave up.  I laid down and said, "Addiction, do your worst.  I'm not going to play anymore."  I didn't see it as 'surrendering' to my quit at the time.  I saw it as giving up fighting my addiction.  I was ready for it to actually materialize and kill me because I didn't want to do this anymore.


Of course, the worst never came.  Not when I was lying in bed, craving a cigarette to the point I was crying.  Ultimately, I fell asleep and forgot that crave.  Not when I was stressed to the point of physically tensing up and wanting to scream.  I learned deep breathing really did help with stress so I turned to that.  Not when I woke in the morning wanting that first cigarette....I chose to wake up late so that I had to get the kids off to school and me off to work.  I didn't have time to remember I wanted to smoke.


I turned to yoga, I turned to deep breathing, I turned to exploring who I was.  It was a gradual process but one I took an interest in.  My giving up morphed into recovery and I didn't even see it coming.  And asking addiction to do its worst?  The worst never came.  I didn't go crazy, I didn't die, I didn't even make a fool out of myself as I learned to deal with my emotions.  Instead.....the best of my life began.  And now every day is something new or different or delightful.  Even in bad days, there is good as well.  And I'm so grateful each and every day that I quit...that I am who I am....that life itself loves me.


I am not living the same day anymore.  I continue to change, to grow, to learn.  You can't do that fully when you smoke because smoking will always pull you back.  


Call it giving up.  Call it surrendering.  Call it quitting.  Whatever you need to call it to stop the cycle of addiction from killing you.  Life truly is waiting for yourself to live it.

~~Forgive yourself for not having the foresight to know what now seems so obvious in hindsight.~~  Judy Belmont


The packaging on cigarettes has always warned us of possible consequences.  I remember reading the 'warning' as a teenager.  Of course I didn't understand all the probable repercussions of smoking back then.  Teenagers are invincible, right?  And as I got older and the consequences of smoking were more prominent as tobacco companies were being sued, I began to better understand the dangers of smoking.


But I still smoked.  For years.  And most of us did.  It wasn't because we wanted to tempt fate.  We weren't thumbing our noses at COPD.  We didn't dare cancer to come get us.  We were addicted.


That is it.  Simply and truly.  We were addicted.  And addiction addles the brain.  We cannot think rationally and fully about consequences because our brains were wired to only think of that next cigarette.  Now I'm not excusing our behaviors.  I'm not trying to justify or rationalize our behaviors.


But I am trying to put it in perspective.


We do not deserve death because we smoked.  We should not suffer silently because we 'did it to ourselves'.  We should not accept illness as our punishment. 


Unintended consequences.  Unintentional.  We did not smoke to get COPD.  We did not smoke to be diagnosed with cancer.  We did not mean to become ill.  So while we take responsibility for these illnesses, we also have to remember that addiction itself altered our brain chemistry in such a way that the consequences of our actions were lost in the overwhelming need for nicotine. 


It's time to forgive ourselves....not for not knowing, because we all did in a superficial way....for getting caught up in the sickness of addiction.  It's time to forgive ourselves for putting our health and the health of our loved ones at risk.  It's time to heal our hearts, our spirits, our souls.  It's time to walk away from regrets, from guilt, from sorrow for what we did.


We deal with the consequences each and every day.  Labored breathing.  Weakened bodies.  Fear of illness.  But we can deal with those consequences better if we leave the negative remnants of smoking behind us.  We did what we did.  But we face tomorrow with courage...with strength...with hope.  


For OldBones-Larry, for Thomas3.20.2010, for jonescarp.aka.dale.Jan_2007 and for all of us who are dealing with health issues due to smoking.....I hope you have forgiveness yourself for being less than perfect.  I hope you know that you DO NOT deserve your diagnosis.  I hope you know that you are prayed for daily and loved beyond measure.  And I hope you know that you are  not in this alone.  We will walk with you, we will hear you, and we will hold your hand through all of this.  We don't know what tomorrow brings but we do know that it won't involve addiction any longer.


Check Yourself

Posted by Dancingthrulife_6.4.13 May 18, 2019

~~Check  yourself.  Sometimes you are the toxic person.  Sometimes you are the mean, negative person you're looking to push away.  Sometimes the problem is you.  And that doesn't make you less worthy.  Keep on growing.  Keep on checking yourself.  Keep on motivating yourself.  Mistakes are opportunities.  Look at them, own them, grow from them and move on.  Do better, be better.  You're human.  It's okay.~~  Vin (The Winds Journal)


I like this quote.  It reminds me to check myself and be aware of where my heart is at.  Am I trying to understand another person or am I so frustrated that I'm being mean?  And I don't mean 'mean' in a blatant, obvious way because I'm not like that.  But I can insist on pushing my point home, I can decide the other person is simply know, that kind of mean.


Sometimes I find that I'm not the one being mean.  The other person is in their own toxic moment and I can step away feeling ok about myself.  But I always try to check myself first just to make sure I'm centered and balanced.


Quitting smoking can bring out the worst in us.  Most of us never really wanted to quit to begin with (addiction talking, by the way).  But the resentment, the resistance, the opposition to our quits can turn us into people we don't even recognize.  And once we do, we run back to smoking with relief.....a reason to quit on our quits. 


One way to keep that precious quit is to understand that mistakes are opportunities for growth.  Were you mean?  Figure out why, apologize, and move on with greater knowledge.  Are you toxic to be around?  Again, figure out why.  Decide you don't like your thoughts, behaviors, ideas....and do better.  Be better. Being human is natural, being toxic is optional.  You don't have to be that way.  And you don't have to smoke to 'unbe' that way.  


We're human.  We make mistakes.  We can be the problem.  We can be negative, toxic, mean.  It's ok.  Whether or not others forgive you or not, it's ok.  Because as long as you learn from your long as you own them, grow from will do better and be better.


Don't allow addiction to talk you out of your quit.  Don't allow bad behavior to be the reason you go back to smoking.  Because it will do  it to you time and time again if you allow it to.  Check yourself.  Learn.  Grow.  Forgive.  Move on.  That's what being human is all about

~~I didn't even know I was addicted until I tried to stop.~~  Unknown


Finding your quit difficult?  Finding yourself stressed, anxious?  Finding it difficult to get through your day without crying, getting angry?  Feeling tired? 


All parts of the thing called "addiction".  Addiction isn't over when you quit smoking, you know.  In fact, quitting brings your addiction out full force.  And it doesn't fight pretty.  It will lie to you, get you to doubt yourself AND everyone else, and beat your body down, your mind down, and your spirit down.


You need to know this.  You need to truly understand that addiction is a battle you can't have to surrender to.  Battling only makes addiction stronger.  Surrendering lets it go.


Even if you don't battle your addiction, saying things like "I feel like I'm missing my best friend" is nurturing it.  Thinking that you would rather smoke than be so angry all the time is nurturing it.  Believing that your pain is so great you need to get away from it is nurturing it.  Turning away from the freedom you have had for 30+ days is nurturing it.  "Slipping" is nurturing it.


As much as you need to understand addiction, you also need to recognize that when you nurture it, it also grows.  When you are resentful of your quit, it grows.  When you hate the discomfort of your quit, it grows.


Surrendering to your addiction weakens it.  That doesn't mean you smoke, it means you understand that you can't EVER smoke because one will never be enough.  It doesn't mean that you try maybe in a month or two, it means that your quit needs to be nurtured each and every moment.  It doesn't mean that you go back to smoking, it means that you look forward to a life without smoking.  We will always be addicted, we just refuse to feed it anymore.


And nurturing our addiction needs to stop.  We have not lost our best friend, we lost a killer.  We do not need to smoke to manage stress, we need to manage stress.  Stop babying your addiction and start babying and nurturing your quit.  It will keep you alive.


I often say that we can't believe everything we think.  Because our brains search for what they are used to....and in addiction, they are used to nicotine.  We need to rewire it.  That takes time, effort, and intelligence.  Choose wisely the thoughts you invest in.  It could be the difference between life and death. 

~~Fitness isn't a punishment; it's a blessing.  Nutrition isn't restrictive; it's healing.  Health isn't a one-size-fits-all thing and may not look the same for everyone, but it is something worth fighting for.~~  Festini Fitness


~~Exercise is a celebration of what you can do, not a punishment for what you ate.~~  Unknown


Why is it, do you think, that when we deprive ourselves of something we want....even if it's not good for us...we see it as a punishment.  We resent that we 'have to' exercise for our hearts.  We hate that we can't have that slab of chocolate cake for dessert.  We move grudgingly into better health, missing that after dinner drink, that first morning cigarette, that extra bread with dinner.


Addiction, whether it's to nicotine or food or alcohol or street drugs or pharmaceuticals, makes our brains feel so good that when we take the addiction out of our lives, we feel deprived.  Cheated.  Resentful. 


But in reality?  Your body needs to be free of addiction so that you can call it home for a long, long time.  It needs to be rid of chemicals that kill it's needs to be free from those chemicals that make it sluggish and unresponsive.  It needs to breathe cleanly.  It needs to be light enough to move you through 24 hours every single day for the rest of your life.


And when you take good care of yourself?  Your body moves better, breathes better, recovers better, is happier, is healthier, is....finally....being allowed to do what it is made to do.  Keep you alive.


Quitting smoking?  What a joy!!  What a celebration of life!!  It's a marvelous, wondrous, miraculous gift you are giving yourself   It's something to look forward to.  It's something to get excited about.  It's something to be happy about.  You are giving yourself a chance to live a better life. 


I can't tell you to not be resentful.  I can't tell you to not be angry or depressed about your quit.  It's your choice to go into your quit anyway you want to.  But I can say with 100% certainty that you are doing a great thing for yourself!!  I can say with 100% certainty that your body needs you to quit so it can live.  I can say with 100% certainty that you will never regret quitting.  In fact, you will thank yourself for the rest of your life  

~~I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone, it's not.  The worst thing in life is to end up with people that make you feel all alone.~~  Robin Williams


It's not just Mother's Day.  It can be a birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas.  Holidays mean family....and sometimes dysfunction, thoughtlessness, unkindness...emotional pain.  Oh, my goodness it can hurt so much to think you aren't worthy of their time or their love.  When you know there must be something wrong with you because those who are supposed to love you unconditionally find nothing but fault in who you are.


Of course you are going to feel it and of course it is a devastating, debilitating pain that simply cuts us down and leaves us breathless.  And while normally we get on with our lives, its the holidays that bring reminders that we aren't good enough, that we are flawed somehow, and our family whom we would move the world for has once again dismissed us.


We used to smoke through the least I did.  It was a self-fulfilling prophesy in a way.  I was punishing myself because I wasn't 'good enough' to fit in with my family. 


But then something shifted when I quit smoking.  Part of my quit involved learning to love flaws and faults as well as my talents and skills.  I learned how valuable I was as just me and I learned to like who I was.  In fact, I liked myself so much I refused to feel worthless anymore.  I started speaking up for myself and that included saying things like, "That was harsh.  I would never talk to you that way and I don't like it when you talk to me that way" or "I know you wouldn't call me to thank me for the Mother's Day gift but I wanted to make sure you got it.  It makes me feel good to treat you well."


I can't change how people treat me....that is a reflection of who they are.  But I can change how I respond, I can change how I think about what they say or do, and I can let them know how I feel about how they treat me.  Some now treat me better.  Some leave me totally alone.  And some have smiled and said, "What took you so long, Sheri?  You have come into your own."


No one will ever be able to make me smoke.  No one will ever make me feel worthless.  They can still hurt my feelings, of course, but I will tell them so and then I will love myself better again. 


To Nancy and Colleen and Annette and all those lovely people who are hurting today, I am so sorry for your pain.  I get it.  I hate it for you.  And you do not deserve it at all.  You truly deserve all the good and the light and the beauty that this world has to give.  Maybe this is why you are so good and compassionate and empathic and gentle with others...because you know what it's like to feel less than. 


My heart goes out to you.  I know you won't smoke but I hope you also won't punish yourself by not shopping or not treating yourself kindly or by not allowing yourself love.  You deserve it all.  You really, really do. 


I Hesitated

Posted by Dancingthrulife_6.4.13 May 9, 2019

~~Make up your mind to act decidedly and take the consequences.  No good is ever done in this world by hesitation.~~  Thomas Huxley


So I was reading blogs like I enjoy doing and someone was stressed while wanting to quit smoking.  Of course, being the wonderful ex community it is, several lovely people jumped right in to welcome the new Exer and offer support.


I hesitated.  I didn't mean to.  I am good at making people feel welcome 99% of the time.  I have experience, I know what I'm doing, and I love doing it.  But I hesitated.  What if.....


  • what if I sounded indifferent
  • what if I sounded self-righteous
  • what if I sounded like judgmental


I am human....excruciatingly human.  When someone jabs me with their idea of me over and over again, it hurts.  It leads me not to wonder if they are right....I know they are not....but it leads me to wonder if others are seeing me that way to.  Because social media doesn't show faces....because social media isn't conducive to good communication...because we often don't know how we appear to others.  


This is me at my worst.  Self-doubting.  I'm also tired, overworked, and busy so I know I'm not thinking as clearly as I should.  


But I know this is a quit smoking site....the BEST in the business!!  And that's what we should focus on.  Since I am hesitant right now, I believe it's time to take a break, rejuvenate, and not stir up anything but happy thoughts and contented quits


To that new Exer who is stressed, may you learn how to take one step at a time into a world filled with self-love and glorious peace.  To the other new quitters who face their own self-doubts and fears, quitting is the opposite of all those negative emotions.  Keep your face to the sun and its warmth will remind you that you can, in fact, quit.  


And to the elders who keep the site filled with magic, God smiles at you and nods His head in approval.  You give with love.  Thank you  

~~Every story has an end.~~  Unknown


A few months ago, I agreed to write a post about Donna and tell you all her story.  I couldn't do it.  The words weren't there and they wouldn't come so I just put it off.  The words still aren't quite there but I do understand the importance of what she wanted to say so please forgive me if this is a bit disjointed or confusing.


Donna was one of those smokers who liked to smoke.  We used to smoke together back when I also smoked.  I quit and she didn't want to hear why or how or how I felt being a non-smoker.  She teased me about being a "Debbie Downer" when she would light up around me.  Eventually she didn't smoke when I was around but was not thinking about quitting, she just said she didn't want to give me a chance to change her mind.


I don't think I could have changed her mind.  Smoking is an individual choice...or maybe not a choice, I don't really know the name for it.  Anyway, she told her kids she enjoyed smoking and didn't want to quit.  She told her grandchildren they shouldn't smoke or they would end up looking as old as she did.  She told her doctor she wasn't interested in medicines or patches or treatment for her 'addiction'.


About two months before she died, she came to me to discuss something.  She was tearful and angry and lost.  She said her son told her that he was mad at her because she chose smoking over them.  He said that she knew smoking could kill her and she chose to risk death over quitting to be with her family.  And rather than deny it or explain it, she looked at me and asked, "Did I do that?"


I could have talked about addiction or dependencies or neurotransmitters or any of the other things that smoking is linked to.  It's often my way of staying away from emotion while helping them find their answers.  But this was Donna.  My dear friend.   I pointed out the numerous ways she showed her children she loved them.  Because I truly know she did.  And then she said something unexpected and stunning.  "Sheri, I don't know why you always point out the good in stuff, but just stop.  This isn't anything good and you know it."


Smoking killed her.  And it killed her even before she took her last breath.  Because she lost hope, she had tons of regrets, and she retreated even more into herself....just as she did when she smoked.


She asked me to come her and write a post about her.  About her children thinking she chose smoking over them.  About her dying.  About how her love of smoking finally took everything from her.  And so I am writing that post.  And I am not being positive, am not pointing out the good stuff, and not trying to teach any lessons here.  I am just telling you about what she wanted people to know.


And she wanted people to know that her love of smoking took everything away from her...even her life.  She left a hole in the universe that no one can fill.  One less light.  One less heart.  A tremendous amount of grief and suffering for those she left behind.  


Every story has an end.  She didn't get to chose her ending.  And that, I think, is the saddest part of all.

~~But here's the rub of addiction.  By its nature, people afflicted are unable to do what, from the outside, appears to be a simple solution-don't drink.  Don't use drugs.  In exchange for that one small sacrifice, you will be given a gift that other terminally ill people would give anything for:  Life.~~  David Sheff


So the kids are bickering once again and the washer is on it's last leg.  Your boss wonders what you've been doing all day as that report he needs is late.  Your spouse is angry because you forgot to pay the electric bill and now you have an additional fee.  Ahhh….to grab a cup of coffee, go out on the back deck, and just relax after that first puff of your cigarette.  There's nothing like it.  It relaxes you.  It makes you feel like you can handle your boss and your spouse and your kids and the washing machine yet another day.


That's addiction.  That 'ahhhh' moment.  That "I can handle things now" mentality.  That, my smoking friends, is addiction.  You weren't really that upset at the kids.  You really weren't that upset at your boss.  You totally get why your spouse is upset.  If you had really thought about it....all of us have stress and we deal with it.  But you couldn't.  Not because it was above your skill level.  It's because you are addicted to a substance that dictates how you feel, how you react, how you behave.  


You may disagree with me.  You may say that you truly like smoking, it's not just an 'addiction'.  So let's talk about that.  Is it you like isolating yourself from others in order to smoke?  Because I doubt you are going to light up in that restaurant you took your family to.  I doubt you light up in your home so your family breathes in those chemicals.  You isolate, most likely.  Ok, so you are now ready to smoke.  Do you like lighting that paper stick filled with chemicals?  You are actually starting a fire and sucking in the smoke.  Is that pleasurable?  I never found it to be so but maybe you do.  And then, as you inhale....yes.  You probably definitely like the feeling that hits your brain!!  Nicotine releases those 'feel good' neurotransmitters that give your brain extremely pleasurable sensations.  That is most likely what you enjoy.  That is what addiction is.  A chemical solution to life.  You escape.  You ignore.  You numb yourself.


But you never get to live.  You never know how strong you are.  You never know how wise you are.  You never know how much you can love.  Addiction stops everything but getting that next hit of nicotine.  And then it lies and says you can now 'handle' life.  Until you need that next puff...and there is always a need for that next puff.


The reality of addiction is different than what addiction allows you to see.  Addiction is killing you.  Not just physically...but yes, it can physically kill.  It also kills others.  Your smoke affects other human beings.  Therefore, when you smoke, you are choosing to infect others.  Addiction also dries your skin, yellows it as well.  It makes you and your clothes and your smoking area smell hideous.  It makes your family sad and worried for you.  It burns your furniture, the interior of your car, the people around you when you're not careful.  It pollutes the world.  It makes you view life with a defensiveness....a unease....because you know someone will say "I wish you'd stop smoking.".


So when you say you like smoking, you are fooling yourself.  You are addicted to smoking.  There is nothing to like about it.  And one day you will come to that same conclusion.  Maybe when you are tired of the expense of smoking.  Maybe when someone you love gets through to you.  Maybe when you hear the doctor say "It's cancer".  Or maybe you will continue to say you like smoking up until your last day on earth.  No one, not even me, will try to convince you otherwise.  Because it's your choice.  It's your decision.  It's your life.


I used to be you.  I know the power of addiction.  I know.  But I also know the power of me.  Of recovery.  Of life.  And I chose that side.  Giving up cigarettes was not at tough as living the life of addiction.  The worry of illness, the isolation from family, the 'just one more'.  Over and over and over again.


Your choice.  Your decision.  

~~She made broken look beautiful and strong look invincible.  She walked with the universe on her shoulders and made it look like a pair of wings.~~  Unknown


I had a new case at the visitation center yesterday.  A mom who got her children removed from her care.  As we talked, she cried often and finally said, "I'm nothing without my kids.  I don't know what to do."  She truly was, at that moment, broken.  I got her talking about some of the things she did as a mom.  She liked to do arts and crafts with her children and she loved to read them bedtime stories.  We talked about ways she still could be a mom and she loved the idea of creating her own story books for her kids that she would bring to visitation and read to them.  She also decided to create "Treasures from Mom" boxes for them and fill them with notes, letters, little gifts that made her think of them and them give them the boxes when she got the children returned to her care.  She was still heartbroken, but she now had some focus and goals to keep her occupied so she didn't just return to an empty house and sit there.


I've heard so often "I'm nothing without smoking".  I've heard "I like smoking".  And I've even heard "I'm not going to stop smoking".  Your choice.  Your decision.  And I guess I want you to know today that while you are allowed that choice, the world truly is, at this moment, broken.  Your decision to smoke is taking beauty from the universe.  Because addiction stops you from being the best you can be...from being who you really are down deep.  Maybe your breathtaking artwork will go unfinished....maybe your compassionate heart will not reach out to someone in need....maybe your garden will go unattended....maybe your house will never be completely renovated.  Because you have to stop and smoke.  Because that one cigarette will lead to another and time will stop for another 10 or fifteen minutes 10 or 20 times a day.  And every time you go to light 'just one more', you feel slightly guilty and attempt to bury that guilt with the pleasurable addiction that is slowly killing your body.  The cycle of addiction doesn't slow down or even remains steady.  It will increase because that 'one more' will never be enough.


You are so much more without smoking!!  You can't know that because you've never been there of course, but that's why I've stayed here.  That's why most elders are here.  To tell you what it's like on the other side.  To help you get there.  To give you hope that you can get there.  And I really, really want you to know that you can.  Decide not to let yourself down anymore.  Give yourself the gentle nudge, the guidance, the love that you give others in your life.  Stop thinking it's hard and start thinking it's worth it.  Stop battling yourself and start loving yourself.  You ARE worth it.  You ARE strong enough.  You CAN do it.  


That mom had a very good visit with her children.  She left the center with her head up.  She wasn't through her tough times yet and there are definite struggles ahead....but she has a plan, she has support, and she has a goal.  That's what it takes to get through tough times.  


Don't give up on yourself, please.  Get through this tough time and bring your true light into the world.  It's waiting for you.