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Giulia's Blog

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(This is a response I wrote on one of Thomas' blogs back in 2016.  Thought it might be a good stand-alone blog.)


Quitting takes guts and gumption. If you can't face the hard truth about your addiction, and your specific relationship with it, it's likely you'll continue to relapse time and again.  And if you can't take some constructive critical behavior analysis, if you're that fragile, how do you expect to overcome this addiction?  The Elders are not here to beat relapsers up.  That serves no purpose and most relapsers do enough of that themselves.  But we do want quitters to stand up for themselves (against their addiction) and also be able to stand alone, without us.  That takes unvarnished Truth.  We want to make them stronger, not weaker.  What we're attempting to do is to teach relapsers to recognize that an excuse is simply a need cloaked in a lie.  And sometimes, especially with serial quitters, that analysis needs to be particularly blunt.


To my mind it's the behavioral aspect of quitting that's the most difficult to overcome.  Part of our education is self-analysis.  Quitting is about learning to get over ourselves in order to get on with ourselves.  Behavior modification takes work and one needs to be open-minded and able to receive constructive criticism.  It’s not for the faint of heart.


Your success is our success.  We want you to be the Champ of your quit.  And to do that you have to pull up your britches, stick out your chest and say YES I CAN!


Personal Responsibility

Posted by Giulia Champion Jan 21, 2019

At some point in our lives and some point in our quits we have to take responsibility.  Whether it is past actions that we may not be proud of, or present actions that we can't get a'hold of and are not proud of.  We have to recognize that we are responsible for SOME things in our lives.  We can't blame EVERYTHING on everybody else and every stress and all our past history - all the time.  


Because if we DO, we will never get over ourselves.  We will never move on to the next stage of our personal psychological and most important of all - spiritual journeys. 


I'm gonna be 70 years old in July.  I continue to learn things every day.  Not only about my quitting journey but about my life journey.   But I was brought up with the teaching of personal responsibility. 


And as part of that personal responsibility I took responsibility for my quit.  I think that's what the current generation calls "owning it?"  


OWN YOUR QUIT.   Be responsible for your actions in the process.  Don't allow the every-ready excuses to undermine your resolve, your commitment, your hope and your dream for freedom.


Take responsibility for your choice to be smoke-free. I think when you do that you will have better success in becoming and remaining so.  


I offer this with so much love and hope you cannot know.


Envy Thoughts

Posted by Giulia Champion Dec 20, 2018

I think we're all a little bit envious of those who (can) still smoke after we've made the choice not to.  UNTIL we get to a certain point in our quits and truly grasp a) that it actually tastes and smells AWFUL;  b) really understand and BELIEVE the truth of what continued smoking will do to us, and c) come to the reality (usually after many failed attempts) that it doesn't change anything, make anything better, solve any problems, nor give us any succor after all.  All it does is keep us addicted to itself. 


And when we do get to that glorious point of understanding with our emotional bones, we have attained the opposite perspective.  (It's not the intellectual part of our brains that is the catalyst for change, it's the emotional part - MOO)   We don't envy, rather we pity the smokers who can't quit.  Not only do we not want to be like them, we  actually become afraid of being like them, and we want to encourage them to see the light of this addiction.  We're glad as heck we're free and never want to go back to that "envy period" of our journeys.


It's only in the beginning of our quits that we're envious of those who CAN still smoke (when we CAN'T).  As if  they're "allowed" to smoke when we aren't.  Really?  We CHOSE to not smoke, because we know better!  We don't have to give it up.  Nobody has a gun to ours heads.  Except our own better self who really knows better. It's that positive, life enforcing essence that tickles us, badgers us, pushes us, encourages us, love us enough to transform us.  Well, unless it's a diagnosis of COPD or lung caner or....  Then that choice becomes more of a non-choice.  SO DON'T WAIT THAT LONG!


But when we embrace that choice, agree to it, accept it, the "can't"- and that accompanying feeling of being denied some imagined pleasure - morphs into "I don't really need to."  Which then morphs - with time - into "I don't want to."  For envy is - on a biblical scale one of the 7 deadly sins.  And whether you're a Christian or not, envy makes us feel spiritually pretty needy and crummy and all that "I wish I were," "I wish I could have" which downgrades into feeling sorry for ourselves,  that we're not good enough, not capable enough, which is so depleting and denying and depressing.


But time away from our smoking selves is what changes the addict-mind thinking of our journeys.  Time give us the needed perspective and enables us the distance from our former smoking selves to become the masters - as opposed to the slaves of our addiction.  But it's not just time - it's how we use that time for further education and reinforcement of our choice.  Many have gone back to another Day One (instead of a Day Won), because they didn't keep paying attention to their quit.  Didn't keep reinforcing it by staying connected to a quit community, or continuing education on the subject.  I think to be ultimately successful (for the majority of us), we need to stay engaged in our quit journeys.  In whatever way each individual finds that participation.


When you stop envying smokers, you have reached a new understanding.  It's a beautiful one.  Wait for it.  May it happen for you soon.


(Thanks Dale for the brain spurring:  Love (d) To Smoke? )


Make Quitting Your Passion

Posted by Giulia Champion Nov 19, 2018

What do you love to do? What subject do you read everything you can get your eyeballs on? What motivates and engages your avid attention? What makes you curious and question and seek to find answers? It could be cooking - new recipes - or new crafting techniques, parenting, or it could be sports, or politics, or technological inventions... Whatever it is that you spend time and energy and thought and attention on - that’s the kind of focus and attention and curiosity that will help you overcome this addiction.


You need to become fascinated with quitting. It needs to become your focus in life. (MOO - my opinion only) Not forever, just until you “get there.” And what I mean by “get there” is - until you get to the point where you’re not suffering over the choice, that decision you’ve made; where every thought isn’t about how you want a cigarette; where you don’t even consider smoking in your life any more. That’s called Freedom. That’s what all smokers who want to quit wish to experience. And I think in order to do so, becoming fascinated with the subject, isn’t a bad thing.


So become fascinated with quitting. And become fascinated with your own personal journey in regards to it. It’s a deep inner self-looking journey. There is so much discovery and thus so much potential for growth. But that kind of “inner looking” takes courage. And hard truth. I hope you have or gain that in this process.


It’s when we understand the emotional excuses we make, that we can overcome those excuses and thence overcome this addiction.


I hope all who are new at this journey discover the fascination with the process and make it your passion. As one who is passionate about the Freedom we attain from quitting - I want YOU to have what I feel. It’s amazing.


Never give up.

There was a guy in a truck next to me in the Walmart parking lot this afternoon.  When I was taking the 5 quart bottle of engine oil I'd purchased out of my cart (buggy for you southerners) into my car I slightly hit it against his truck.  I hadn't really noticed his truck at all, just that there was something next to me.  After placing it in my car, I turned back to see if there was anybody in the vehicle.  And there was, (window open, smoking in the driver's seat) so I just said "Sorry."  He acknowledged it and said it was an old beat-up truck and it didn't matter, just as long as I was ok.  I said it was only a soft plastic jug, so it probably didn't do any damage.  He again said something to the effect that it wasn't a problem, it was an old truck and reiterated as long as I was ok.   I found that really curious.  "As long as I was ok."  Am still left to try to understand that.


I noticed he was smoking a cigarette.  Had a couple of teeth missing.  I pondered whether to ask him if he ever wanted to quit.  I thought - what the hell, what have I got to lose.  I'm always afraid to ask "have you ever wanted to quit smoking?"   to strangers.  As a former smoker I know how I would immediately SHUT OFF and go into protective mode when anyone mentioned quitting.  But I've still got some of these EX cards left and just took the chance.


And I asked him "You ever want to quit smoking?"  He immediately  said he wished he could quit.  He has COPD.  Had conquered - I THINK he said - the drinking addiction.  Said he picked up drinking and cigarettes in the service.  This was his last thing to overcome.  I asked him if he had internet.  He said he did.  I said, "I want to give you something."  And I went into my car and found one last EX card.  I wrote my name on it.  I said, "This is a great quit site.  It's helped a lot of people.  I smoked for 35 years a pack and a half a day.  You CAN quit.  Just check it out if you want.  And that's my name on the site.  If you do show up, just give me a shout."  He took it and thanks me.


I was so elated and excited to find what seemed to be an open receptor there.  And I couldn't shut up.  I turned back and said, "You know, I still love the smell of a cigarette."  I was trying to tell him, I GET IT!  And I said "You know, it's so hard, because you don't want to turn somebody off, you can't MAKE them make the decision, it has to come from them, but I'm so afraid of saying anything because it makes people defensive,..."  and he said something to the affect that his step son? or somebody - who has some kind of a problem, when you try to tell him what to do he just shuts off...  so he "got that."  He thanked me several times.  I drove away feeling good in my heart.  That I had at least tried.  And who knows - maybe a seed was planted for a future harvesting period.


The whole point of this story is - don't be afraid to ask people if they've ever wanted to quit smoking.  And don't be afraid to offer them this website as a way out.  It  could be just the thing they need to hear at that time in their lives to move them forward in that process.  We never know.


EXProductManager   Megan - Those old cards are really uninteresting (as you all know).  I'm really looking forward to the new batch.  And yes, I'd certainly be willing to purchase them as an individual.  The WOW card is what has stuck in my mind as the most potent of the new graphic designs.  Meanwhile, can we get more of the old ones?

To smoke? To give in to that weakest part of you?


Or to stay strong, get through this one day and awaken with another day of Freedom under your belt?


You can do this quitting thing.  Really you can.  You can say NO, to this silly Saturday urge.  You can chase away this monster by saying YES to that best part of you.


You don’t have to fail at this.  You just have to get through today.




What It's Like To Be Free

Posted by Giulia Champion Oct 17, 2018

We all have a common denominator - addiction to cigarettes (or chaw or vaping) - although I suspect there will be web sites created just for the vapers of the world in the future and that’s a sad thought.  And we often talk about the journey to Freedom. But I thought I’d just yammer a bit on what it’s like to be free of this addiction. Or at least FEEL free of it from my 12 year perspective.


It’s not thinking about a cigarette all day long. That’s the beginning part of this Freedom journey.

The craving and back-and-forth dialogue in our heads:  “I want, I shouldn’t, I can, I can’t, I wish, I mustn’t, I need, I can overcome the need, it doesn’t matter, it does matter, I can’t make it, I can make it, I will make it, no I won’t”... yadda yadda yadda. That is without a doubt the worst part of this journey.  Because we haven’t really yet made up our minds and agreed to actually do this quitting thing. Because when you make up your mind, the yadda yadda tends to shut up a whole lot! (Unless you’ve finally “gotten it” after that last relapse which is after the last relapse when you said emphatically to yourself once more -  “I will never go through this again, this is my FOREVER QUIT” - and here you are again... what have you gotten?"   What is different THIS time with your emphatic "this is my forever quit?"  Seriously.  God how many times in the past 10 years on this site have I heard that.  It makes my heart ache.  And let me tell you, those of us who have been there, seen it ALL, we KNOW the kind of attitude it takes to do this thing.)  


But if you can survive that initial part of the journey, you move on to the next stage. Which is not thinking about a cigarette every day. Not constantly going through that back and forth dialogue in your head. It’s when you’ve agreed to the journey and settled into that agreement, that willingness. There’s still this “thing,” this awareness, this constant background psychological churning and noise in your head, but it’s in the background, not the foreground. It’s a discomfort, for sure, but not an all-encompassing one. It’s one you can swim through without feeling like you’re drowning.


Then the next part of the journey is not thinking about a cigarette every other day or every third day, but it IS being surprised by the thought of cigarette. Or more specifically a craving. “Wow, where did THAT come from after all this time?” It’s in the forgetting about thinking about cigarettes that we become surprised by the thought of a cigarette. And that surprise thought is a barometer of how far we’ve come. For in the beginning we tend to think about cigarettes more than less.


And then as the journey progresses even farther, we keep moving forward and those surprise cravings, thoughts about cigarettes, become a part of our smoke-free history. Though they may provoke a blip on our emotional craving radar screen, they are quickly moved into the past. We view them in a totally different way. They aren’t threatening.  We understand them, we know they will pop up now and then in triggered or non triggered situations - they just will do that.  And we know, through experience - how to deal with them.  Our quit kit, which we've developed and altered and maintained, is something we keep close at hand.  Because we are cigarette addicts.  Ya know?!


To me at this stage I consider blips on my radar - Freedom. It’s not perfect in that I never have an urge to smoke.  But I don’t want a cigarette 99.9% of the time. Once in a while I’ll experience a desire for one, but that’s ok. Why shouldn’t I? I smoked for over 35 years!  Doesn’t mean I have to act on the desire.


Perhaps as an addict, my Freedom is not in never experiencing cravings, but in understanding that such a desire will come, and that it will ebb and flow. And it’s okay. But I don’t need to be it’s slave any more. An occasional want is not the same as a desperate everyday need as in the beginning of the journey. Thank God the journey changes as we continue to hold on, persevere and go through it.


What’s your experience of Freedom from this addiction? And if you haven’t yet overcome it - what’s your “concept” of freedom from this addiction? As a newbie? I think my “concept” was in never wanting a cigarette again. My reality of freedom is different. It’s in not thinking about smoking every day. And it’s, when that seeming “need” arises - knowing that that need will pass by the time I walk to the kitchen from the bathroom.


Why Elders are Elders

Posted by Giulia Champion Aug 16, 2018

You listening, newbies? The majority of Elder's here (those with a one year quit or more) who are still active (I can't speak for the ones who don't participate on a daily basis), never stop seeking and gaining knowledge about this addiction. Whether it’s knowledge about the tools to overcome cravings, or information about COPD, or about how nicotine works on our brains and ways to combat it. They read every link proffered. I think we Elders gobble it up. Why? I suspect for a number of reasons.


It keeps us emotionally and intellectually involved and active in our quits. It’s part of our quit maintenance and helps keep our quits secure. I also think many Elders have an ongoing curiosity about this addiction and their relationship to it. Speaking for myself, even though I quit over 12 years ago, I still find the topic interesting, and I pass on whatever new information I learn.


In line with that last thought - it helps all of us disseminate the greatest and latest knowledge about smoking and quitting to the newly initiated on this journey. For we have come to understand that knowledge is the key to success.

So the Elder's here, I would say on the whole (correct me if I'm wrong my fellow Elders), keep up the study of this addiction. They keep up their homework, so to speak by doing so. I think that with this addiction, (with any addiction) you really do need to stay actively attentive and participate in your abstinence from it and education about it.  Because the psychological “pull” of your emotional pleasure source comes on strong in emotionally needy times. Not just in your first week or month, but throughout your quitting journey.


When you understand that aspect of the process and accept it, when you understand the seductive nature of excuses and refuse them, when you’re willing to submit yourself to the fire of this rite of passage, you will find the Freedom of which we speak. But it really all stems from the education we get through reading. And the total ‘no-matter-what’ commitment we make.


And a PS - it’s not just Elders here who do this kind of in-depth study. It’s the new members who “get it.” Those who do their homework and sound like Elders in their responses. You can hear them. You know who they are. They don’t just spout the words of wisdom that came before them, they speak in their own quit language. And it’s a language stemming from their own personal knowledge and experience.  And we Elders can tell, right from the get-go many times whether a quitter will make it or not just in the language and approach they use.


When you “get it,” it really doesn’t matter at which stage you are. Elder, younger, newbie, oldbie - when you “get it” - you’re on your way to the cure for the desire for a cigarette. And that’s what we all want, right?!


Part of what got me here

Posted by Giulia Champion Aug 2, 2018

I found this old content of mine back from 2008 that I put up here two years after I quit (on another site), and thought wow, there's a lot of good advice here. And it's buried way back in my blogs.  Perhaps it should be brought back up.   These people taught me how to get to where I am now with a 12 year quit.  Need I say anything else?  Except perhaps - read the blogs of the Elders here.  There's a lot of educating going on there in their blogs.  If you want to know how it's done, how to do it, read it from those who have the years of successful experience at it.  That's what I did.


WISE WORDS (that helped me when I first quit) 


Waiting for the Right Time?

Posted by Giulia Champion Jun 16, 2018

Sitting on the fence?


You know you should quit.  Right?  You’re no dummy.  And you may have tried, kinda, sorta, not too seriously in the past.  You may have made it a couple of days or weeks or even a couple of months.  And you may have done that several times over the course of several years.  Only to return to your comfortable smoking self.  But then - here you are on this web site reading this blog.  Why?


Because you KNOW that smoking is destroying your health.  Because you’re not stupid.  Because perhaps you are starting to feel the consequences of smoking after 5 or 20 or 40 years.  You’re starting to cough more.  You can’t quite catch your breath after exercise the way you used to.  You’re starting to have more incidents of bronchitis in the winter, or....


What all quitters fear is that fateful diagnosis:  LUNG CANCER. What you don’t understand is that a diagnosis of COPD, or emphysema, heart disease or any other of the smoking related diseases are just as life debilitating. Let alone you probably haven’t been educated about the secondary non life threatening, but still not-so-much-fun diseases, like Periodontal disease.  Are your teeth shaky in your gums?  Having more extractions?  Well, smoking contributes greatly to gum disease.  They don’t talk about that when they talk about why we all should quit smoking.  What about sight problems.  Macular degeneration.  The longer you smoke the higher your risk of macular degeneration.  Never heard of it?  Look it up.  It won’t kill you, but your quality of life will definitely suffer if you can no longer see.


What ARE you waiting for?  That particular diagnosis that tells you you waited too long?


Quit NOW, before it's "after the fact."  You will NOT be invulnerable to the effects of smoking.  Believe it.  It’s true.  You know that.  That’s why you’re here. Right?


You really can’t afford to wait until it’s after the fact.  The right time is NOW!


Make Quitting a Priority

Posted by Giulia Champion Mar 3, 2018

Many people know they SHOULD quit but make only a half-assed attempt at it.  Nobody WANTS to quit.  They WANT to be free of the addiction, the desire to smoke, but that's different from wanting to quit.  I didn't want to have to "give up" smoking, I just wanted to be free of the NEED to smoke.  I wanted to be in control of it, not the reverse.  When one does the reading on here you learn that you simply CAN'T be in control of it.  It owns you.  There is no such things as a “now and then” smoker.  It’s all or nothing with us.


The casual half-assed attempter is never gonna make it.  As we long-term quitters keep saying over and over: this takes commitment. Total commitment.  A “no matter what” agreement to abstain.  It must become a priority in your life. Focused attention on the goal is a DAILY necessity.  Most of us with quit longevity spent time every day on a support site during the initial stages of our quits.  You can't be casual about it.  You may want to quit or you may not, I didn't, but that doesn't matter (though it helps).  If you set a goal and if you expend the necessary energy and time, study and perseverance, you WILL achieve it.


As an actress I have studied sense memory.  It can enable you to feel an emotion from the past.  So I really "get" that part of the addiction. I’ve occasionally used sense memory to re-connect to strong emotions in my life in order to replay them for a character I’m portraying.  There are many things that can trigger sense memory.  Perhaps one of the strongest is scent.  You’ll smell the perfume your mother wore and she comes alive again.  (Or a cigarette.)   Music is another strong one - a song will bring back incredible memories.  For those who reach for a cigarette during stressful times - stress has become a sense memory.


One of Uta Hagen's acting exercises was to take an object and spend time with it, give it an imaginary history, imbue it with a connection.  Could be something as simple as a glass.  When you sit there with that glass and imagine that it came from your great great grandmother (let say), or you won it at a carnival with your boyfriend the day you broke up, or it was the last glass your mother had in her hand.... Spend just 10 minutes making up a story about that glass, and every time you see it, it will now have a new value to you, a new meaning.  It's no longer just a glass.  It’s become important.  And the way you hold and touch it will be different. Same is true with smoking and the same is true with your quit.


The casual, the spur-of-the-moment quitter needs to understand that they must spend time with their quits. The more time one spends educating themselves - discovering, reading, learning -   not only about the addiction but about themselves in relation to it, the more precious and important the goal becomes. And the more important the goal becomes, the more likely one is to push through those nasty cravings.


So make quitting a priority and spend time with it.  You’ll truly understand it’s value when you do.  And when you have it, nourish it, cherish it like it's the most precious gift of your life.  Because without it, your quality of life will eventually be compromised.


(some of this is a re-working of previous material)

First we crawled. Then we learned to walk. We learned how to read and write. We learned how to ride a bike and sometimes fell off. And we learned from that falling off. Some of us learned how to drive, and swim, be good at a sport, or learned how to play an instrument. All those activities were acquired skills. To my mind quitting is no different.


What are the steps necessary in becoming a Champion Quitter? Well, think about the steps necessary for learning any skill.


Step 1: Education

If you’re thrown into a pool without knowing how to swim, you may manage to hysterically flail your way to the edge, but you’re likely never to go near water again. So it’s wise to start out in the shallow end and learn how to paddle first.

Same is true with quitting. The first thing prescribed is the necessity for education. We need to educate ourselves about the addiction - understand what happens to our brains when we smoke. We need to learn about our particular relationship to the addiction - study when, where and why we smoke - determine our triggers. And we need to come to a healthy understanding of our excuses. When we learn that putting "just one" cigarette in our mouth will inevitably lead to relapse, for example, we’ve learned that we need to adhere to the NOPE (Not One Puff Ever) tenet.

Step 2: Attitude.

Attitude plays an enormous role in the quitting process. It can help us or hurt us and the right mind set can make the difference between success and failure. One doesn’t even have to WANT to quit smoking. (Though it helps!)  But “right thinking” carries us longer and further down that smoke-free track and helps to ease the discomfort.  So does humor. We need to find the right hooks to keep us motivated, positive and excited.  That’s some of our required homework.

Step 3: Preparation and Planning

Part of our education centers around planning for the journey ahead. You don’t tromp off into the wilderness without a map, a water bottle and a good pair of shoes.  Same is true for quitting.  We must prepare for the pitfalls and triggers to come.  We need to understand our patterns and our emotional connection to cigarettes.  We have conditioned ourselves to be their slave, and we need to learn to de-condition by modifying our behaviors  - for a while - and altering our thoughts and closely held beliefs.  Quitting requires an open mind and a willingness to change.  It also requires a well-stocked quit kit of things to do instead, techniques for re-focusing, and items of positive reinforcement.


Step 4: Commitment and Perseverance

Without a one hundred percent commitment, a “no-matter-what” commitment, any success achieved will be short lived. Quitting takes a great deal of energy.  And when the energy flags, which it will, commitment will keep us on the track. Commitment is the parent of perseverance.  If one is committed, one will persevere.  Acceptance is an offspring.  When one commits fully to the journey, one accepts all that the journey encompasses. The good, the bad, the nasty, the sad, the ugly.  We will become very vulnerable.  But through acceptance we will learn that it’s ok to love ourselves, despite ourselves.  For what are we really doing but listening to that best part of us.


Step 4: Maintenance

Many is the quitter who returns to the slavery of this addiction because they didn’t maintain their quit.  They stopped paying attention and forgot the things they’d learned.   Didn't remember that “just one,” means a hundred and one. Didn’t remember what Day One feels like. They forgot their vulnerability to the addiction, and forgot that any reason to light up is simply an excuse born of the addicted mind.


If you have a car you change it’s oil. Top off it’s fluids. If you don’t, your car won’t last too long. Same is true with a quit. It doesn’t take a great deal of maintenance. Come back to this web site once a month or every other month. Six times a year isn’t too demanding. Read some blogs, rummage around Best of EX, offer a bit of support. It reconnects your brain to your quit. Reminds you of what you’ve been through, and reinforces the reasons you took the journey to begin with.

Today is my 12th year quit anniversary. I believe it is so because I studied hard, committed fully, accepted my choice to remain smoke free and I continue to perform necessary maintenance by staying connected to this wonderful site with all you beautiful, loving amazing supporters. I know without a doubt that support is what made this quit stick.


Thank you, family, for taking the journey with me. It just gets better and better.  


, Giulia


I Met a Champ Today!

Posted by Giulia Champion Jan 21, 2018

Eat your heart out kids!  Guess who I got to visit with today?  Sassy!  Aka Sharon.  Aka shashort  She and her husband, Bill, rolled up to our front door around 2 pm today on their way back from Pigeon Forge to Indianapolis (only about an extra 7 hours out of their way!)  and we just spent the most delightful four hours or so together.  What a hoot and a half.  But much too brief.  She is everything I thought she'd be and more (if that's possible!).  She even walked upstairs (in that darn "boot" she still has to wear) to take a look at our "ugly room."  A big old room that houses paraphernalia from all the shows my husband and I have been in plus things from our childhood, his old toy cars, old comic books, etc., a pair of hippie jeans of mine from the 60's (did I ever have a waist that small?)  


We had lunch and just talked and talked, about... well, everything.  About our lives, about today's 'youth,' about people on this site who have relapsed and whom we hope will come back into the fold.  The guys told of their own quit experiences.  Both got over theirs easy peasy.  (Nya nya nya nya nya!)  Bill joked about the fact that HE didn't need nor get a special 'vacation'' when HE quit.  Referring to our EX reunions.  Laugh out loud time.  He's got the greatest sense of humor.  Interestingly in talking about the "youth" of today, and how lacking they are in discipline and all that goes along with that, it kept reminding Sharon and me of this site and what we continue to say over and over again.  And the discipline necessary with which to approach and maintain a quit.  Your precepts in life go hand and hand with those of your quit.  If you have them to begin with, it makes it easier.  If you don't, then you sure as heck will learn them through the quitting process.  Because quitting WILL give those precepts. 


If you want to know what you need to do and be during your struggles with quitting, one of the Elders here to pay attention to is Sharon.  She's been through hell and back and maintained her quit DESPITE it.  She is one of the Champions on this site.  (And she's not alone in this.)  Strive to be like her, and you can't go wrong.


Before they left I made sure that we got some pictures together.  To tell you how comfortable I felt in their company, I said to Bill after he had taken a couple of shots with my camera "You're worthless!"  More mirth, more laughter, more pictures.  Here are a few.....  (The ones he took on his cell phone were much better, by the way!)  


This meeting will linger long in my heart.  Thank you Sharon and Bill for going way out of your way to grace us with your presence.  It makes my heart sing and will continue to do so until the next, (I hope) visit.


(PS - I got permission to put my blog out first!  'Cause she's not home yet.  Hers is coming about her entire trip.  Wait for it......!  And no, we didn't take any picture of the easy peasy guys.  They don't deserve pictures!  lol)





Quit For Life Info

Posted by Giulia Champion Jan 17, 2018

I was just looking at November SAG-AFTRA Health Plan Newsletter and there was an article about the free Quit for Life Program  I wanted to learn more specifically about the NRT's they offer, because many on here have inquired as to how to get free NRTs.  Thought I would just pass on what I was told when I called them.


The program is offered in 26 states only.  First, you must join/enroll in the Counselling Service/program to receive free NRTs.  You are assigned a quit coach and will have a phone conversation with them once every other week for several months.  They also do check-back/follow up emails at 3, 6, 9 month and at one-year.  Can't imagine how talking with a counselor ever OTHER week can help a whole lot.  (Though the literature states:  "you can call their toll free support line and talk to a quit coach 24/7.")  Heck, just hang out here in the EX support community.  You'll be able to communicate with a whole bunch of quit coaches 24/7.  And these people have actually gone through the process themselves unlike many "accredited" quit coaches.


The NRT that you receive and the (amount) length of time they are provided varies from state to state.  For example in TN they offer two weeks of patches.  In Mississippi it's the gum.  If you're receiving medicaid, that also can change your qualification status.  


I asked if they had an on-line support community and was told they did not.  Which is a real pity.  In my experience a support group can make all the difference between a successful quit and a failure.  People who just go to that site, for example, and have never been introduced to EX are at a distinct disadvantage.  (Although having since read the literature, it states:  "You'll get access to a private, online community where you can...... join in discussions with others in the program." So I'm not sure which is really true.  The literature also says they have 25,000 active members.  Would be interesting to know how many active members EX has in comparison and what quantifiers are used to determine "active" status by both sites.: i.e. how many times a week/month/year does one have to sign in to the site to be considered such.) 


This support community (to my mind) is the best support community out there.  And the site has the affiliation with the Mayo Clinic which ain't too shabby!  The Quit for Life program is a collaboration between the American Cancer Society and Optum.  (Optum seems to be a health management company employed by corporations to try to lessen health care costs, from what I can gather.)   Interestingly they say:  "Participants who have not used tobacco in the last 30 days are considered to have quit."  Which no doubt ups their statistical success rates.  As most of us with experienced long-term quits know - 30 days does not a quit make.  


Anyway, just wanted to pass on what I learned today.  A long-term quitter is an actively engaged quitter.


New Year - New Resolution

Posted by Giulia Champion Jan 4, 2018

How many of us have made New Years resolutions that ultimately went nowhere?   Why were some of us successful and others not so?


I think the answer lies in a variety of reasons. But this isn’t just about New Year’s resolutions. It’s about the quitting resolution itself.


1. Education

If you’re a New Years quitter and haven’t really given much thought to what the journey is going to entail - you’re likely to not make much headway.  If you’re going for a trip in the wilderness first you need to understand what the trip is all about and where it will take you.  You need a map. (We can give it to you.)  Then you need to learn how to stay safe during the journey.


2. Preparation

With the education you’ve gotten and the map in hand, you then need to understand what’s necessary for a safe trip.  So you read about the terrain (relapse traps), the temperature variances for the clothing you might need (i.e. mood swings); how to protect yourself against wild animals if necessary (what you’ll do in the case of cravings); where to find your water sources (support) and you make sure you carry enough water with you, etc.  You don’t just park your car and walk into the forest for a camping trip without a map and the camping equipment necessary.   At least I hope you don’t. (I’m talking about camping in the wild, here, not just camping in some safe designated campground. The quitting campground is definitely not safe.)


3. Commitment

If you have a fear of quitting because you’ve tried in the past and you know how difficult and unpleasant the trip is, get over it.  If you want to take the journey into the brush to capture that one incredible sunrise with that magnificent animal drinking from the pool - you simply have to go there.  The sunrise is worth the unpleasantness.  Those photographers that head out for National Geographic to capture the amazing unique splendor of God’s creations - they sit there in incredible discomfort for hours and days and months just to get that one shot. There is no time limit for them on the commitment they make for the joy of achieving that.  You don’t know the joy yet.  Trust that the freedom we speak of will be worth taking the time for the photo op and that there will be joy at the end of the journey.  But also understand that without that kind of commitment, you are not likely to achieve that photo of yourself smoke free.


4. Acceptance and the Agreement

If you think there’s going to be some magic potion (NRT) or mind trick (hypnosis) or substitute (e-cig) that will make all cravings go away - think again.  NRTs lessen cravings.  They don’t remove them.  The Allen Carr book is a tool that helps us think in a different way.  But it won’t, ultimately, take away that next craving.  What that book does is simply give us a new way of looking at and thinking about our addiction.  It’s especially useful in the beginning of our quits when everything is new and exciting.  When we get past that stage, then we move into the next and most difficult phase,

which is quit maintenance.  And this is the time we need to truly accept and agree with the choice we made.


This is the time to remember why we chose the journey to begin with. The time to reflect on the benefits we’ve gained. The time to truly accept but most importantly - agree to the choice we made to quit. Agreeing to the choice is easy in the beginning.  Much harder after months of struggle.  And quitting for the long term takes a different playbook.


5. Stamina & Maintenance

In order to free ourselves from this addiction for the long run - that “Forever” quit that people refer to here - we must have stamina and perseverance, but most importantly we must practice maintenance. Quitting is a large investment emotionally and behaviorally. To go through the slings and arrows of cravings, to finally get to the other side and not maintain vigilance is - well stupid. You invest in a car, you get oil changes, right?


There will come a time in your quit (if you hang in long enough) when you really don’t think about smoking much any more. And so you drift away from the site and the continuing education and the support, and you forget all about where you came from and the cost of your quit. And the day or the odd occasion arises when a friend offers a cigarette, and that thought of “just one” occurs, and you have that “just one,” (because you’ve forgotten you simply can’t have just one) and then you’re back to smoking as much as you always have until you return for another day one. And it could be YEARS of smoking before that happens.


I truly believe that relapse for a long-term quitter would not happen if quitters maintained their quits. Obviously this is not always the case. But oft enough it is.

How do you maintain a quit? It’s oh so easy. Just stay connected to your smoking roots by continuing education. It could be just staying connected here on BecomeAnEx.  By reading the struggles of those going through the initial stages and being reminded of what you went through.  Or by offering support here or in your community.  Or discovering new methods of lessening cravings or overcoming this addiction by new scientific learning.  It all comes down to staying connected.


Stay aware. Stay mindful of your journey to freedom. Otherwise you might forget the cost and preciousness of it all and take it for granted. And that just might be your ticket back to another day one.

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