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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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