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SkyGirl Blog

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This is a long blog.  I hope that, when you are done reading it, you will believe that you CAN quit smoking. (Because you CAN, and if you don't believe that---please post a simple blog here on this site.   And we'll talk about how you feel.

 

Look at the picture I've posted as the banner on this blog...  It's a key.  Sitting on a keyboard. 

 

Can the key to quitting smoking actually be found through a KEYBOARD?

 

Yes, it can.  Set your skepticism aside and please listen to me for a minute.  Or two.

 

You may have come seriously looking for an online stop-smoking site.  

 

You may have stumbled into this site randomly while thinking you want to quit at some time in the foreseeable future.

 

You might just be a smoker who went down a rabbit hole without any real commitment to the idea of quitting.

 

Or...you might just want to see what kind of sheep think that following other sheep actually makes anyone stop smoking.

 

I am not a sheep.  I have never thought of myself as being someone who puts their trust in "programs", whether it be to  eat healthier, feel more positive, exercise more regularly, read books, raise better children, find a more rewarding job, learn to forgive, be more assertive...oh, sheesh, I could go on forever because there is ALWAYS a group for SOMETHING to help you improve your life, right?

 

But when I found EX, I found something I NEVER expected.  I completely realize that I'm starting to sound like an infomercial...  So please hang in here with me!

 

I did go looking for an online way to quit smoking.  I just wanted to see what was out there.  I clicked on a site called becomeanex.org.  It's easier to call it "EX" so that is what I (and many others) call it now.

 

I came to EX because I wanted to see what I would feel if I thought seriously about quitting smoking. Not for just a while. FOREVER. I wasn't sure I was ready. I wasn't sure I had what it would take... I wasn't even sure that I did WANT to quit.

 

Being a smoker was part of my identity.  It was who I WAS.  My life was arranged around when I could smoke, where I could smoke, how many cigarettes I had left, where I could buy another pack...(I KNOW this sounds familiar to many of you!). I didn't WANT to admit it to myself, but it was true.  My life revolved around smoking.  I made choices about how and where I would spend my time based on my smoking.


But I came to EX and I read blogs.  I introduced myself to the EX community as someone who wasn't really sure they wanted to be on this website...because I didn't know for sure that I wanted to quit.  I thought I really loved smoking and that I got benefits from smoking; calmness, relaxation, stress-relief, comfort.  Yup,  I really thought that smoking helped me cope with the stuff in my life.  So I completely get you if you feel that way now as you are reading this.

 

BUT...and here was the game-changer  (for me AND for anyone new who is just reading this):

 

I opened my mind... I LISTENED. I did not judge (which was hard because, as smokers, we really think that we are smarter and cooler than everyone else).  I made an effort to read what was recommended by successful Quitters, even if I thought it sounded stupid and elementary.  I got involved with the people on EX.  I blogged here on EX and I made connections with other members; the Newbies like me, the halfway-to-success Quitters, the "Woohoo, I feel successful now!" Quitters and the longtime solid Quitters.  There was something to learn from every single person I met here on EX.  And when I disagreed, it was completely okay to say that.  Because one of the most important things that we say here is "Take what you need and leave the rest".  There is no perfect, magic, absolute way to quit that works for everyone.  Each person's journey to Freedom from nicotine is made up of the various things they find here on EX that work for them.

 

I accepted the possibility that I COULD quit smoking  and eventually be really happy about it and not miss my cigarettes.  I connected with people whose blogs resonated with me.  And I figured out MY key for success.  And I was never alone here.

 

And here is the most important thing about quitting smoking that I never understood or accepted before...

 

NICOTINE IS A DRUG ADDICTION.  It is a drug that takes over, and physically changes, the neural pathways and dopamine receptors in your brain.  It's an addiction as strong as heroin.  And that's PROVEN by science.  Go to a website called "whyquit.com" and look for a link to an article called "Nicotine Addiction 101".  It's on the left side of the homepage and has a little twirling yellow cube next to it.  It's not a quick easy read, but if you put the time into reading it, you will be astounded at the way nicotine can take over the way your brain thinks.

 

It's not a "bad habit".  It's an addiction. But you can beat it, like so many of us EXers here on this site did.  

 

In short, here's how I won my battle with nicotine:

 

I recognized that many of the people here on EX had already achieved the exact thing that I wanted to achieve.  My desire was to happily livie a life without nicotine.

 

So I read what they told me to read. I read Allen Carr's book ("The Easy Way to Stop Smoking").  It's not "easy" to quit...but this short book will teach you how to stop looking at quitting as "losing" something, "giving up" something, "sacrificing" something, "doing without" something.  It will help you turn your thinking around so that you see quitting as FREEDOM from smoking.

 

I did the Tracking and the Delaying exercises. I went to the other sites that were recommended. I was seriously skeptical and unsure about it, but I DID all the things that all these successful EXers told me to do.

 

And I set a date. A Quit Date. A day that I would do whatever it took to start living my life without being a slave to my nicotine addiction.

 

I was a STUDENT and I learned how I could stop being a nicotine addict. I spent a LOT of time here on EX and got to know people and accepted the support and friendship they were so happy to give to me.

 

It was like a lightbulb went on in my head on the day that I GOT it. Poof!

 

I understood COMMITMENT instead of "trying", "attempting", "hoping".

 

I understood taking PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY instead of wishing for "luck", and blaming "stress", "weakness" or "being around smokers".

 

I understood seeing quitting as FREEDOM instead of seeing it as "sacrifice", "giving up", "suffering through" or "losing" something.

 

I understood that the feeling of so-called "enjoyment" and "need" was no more than my physical addiction calling out to me...and that I didn't have to listen to it!

 

When I quit, it wasn't "EASY". Sorry, Allen Carr, it wasn't. But I had a whole new way of thinking about it and that made it easiER.

 

I've been here for a while now. I have almost five years of freedom from nicotine. I still can't belive it's been that long when I see it in writing.  But, to all the new people who have just found this site, don't you think, for ONE minute, that I have forgotten what it feels like to be addicted and to find my way out of that addiction with the help of other EXers who helped me to educate myself about addiction and who supported me through ALL ups and downs and doubts and anger and fear about what life would be like without nicotine.  No successful Quitter ever forgets.  That's why we stay here to help other people who come to EX.

 

Yes, I have freedom from cigarettes now.  But I have more than that. I have the knowledge, the understanding, the thinking, the confidence and the TOOLS to know that I will never ever smoke again.

 

And I have all that because I LISTENED to the people here and I FOLLOWED their advice.

 

So, to all the new folks here, know this:  Your addiction to nicotine is no stronger nor harder to beat than our addiction was. You CAN quit. If we could do it, so can YOU.

 

Leave all your assumptions at the door. Be a student here on EX. You won't ever regret it. We promise.

 

XXXOOO, Sky.   (Sorry for any typos; feeling sleep-deprived after flying for three days...)

Dear Cigarettes,

You were the worst boyfriend I ever had. All my friends told me you were bad for me, but I thought I needed you.
You were clingy and nasty. I couldn't go ANYWHERE without you. You always smelled bad and people could certainly tell when I'd been with you.
When we were together, my priorities were all messed up; if you weren't welcome somewhere, then I didn't go there. You even made me stop doing things I loved to do, like hike, bicycle and exercise.
When I broke up with you, it was very hard because I thought I still loved you. But the longer we are apart, the more I know that dumping you was the best decision of my life. So don't even THINK that we could ever get back together.
And stay away from my friends, too, you lying jerk!

Goodbye forever,

SkyGirl

 

Newbies!  Listen up!  And BELIEVE that quitting is NOT impossible if you understand how nicotine addiction works... 

 

Here are some basic truths.  So pay attention.  For a few minutes, just set your beliefs about smoking aside. And hear this.

 

1) Smoking a cigarette does NOT calm you down, ease your stress, make you happier or more able to cope. All thatsmoking a cigarette does is increase the level of nicotine in your body, which holds off the effects of withdrawal that started when you finished your last cigarette.

 

2) You do not enjoy smoking. What you are enjoying is NOT feeling a low level of nicotine in your body.


3) Educating yourself about nicotine addiction gives you a HUGE advantage in successfully quitting.


4) The way you THINK about quitting is absolutely KEY.
It is important that you banish the concepts of "trying", "attempting", "hoping it works", "wish me good luck".
It is important that you read enough about quitting until your thinking does a complete 180 degree turn from "giving up something", "sacrificing something I love", "doing without", "getting through this" into "FREEDOM".
Freedom from what? From a life that is ruled by an addiction, freedom to enjoy better health, freedom from guilt and shame, freedom from worrying when and where you can have your next cigarette, freedom from the panic when you realize you are out of cigarettes, freedom from smelling like an ashtray, freedom from hiding and making excuses.
(And don't forget to think about all the free time you will gain, the money you will save, and the self-esteem that will rocket upwards when you quit.)
So get that thinking flipped around so you are ready to quit successfully!


5) You CAN quit. Your addiction is no stronger and no harder to beat than anyone else's. If we can quit, then you can quit. We can ALL quit.


6) Yes, the first few days of quitting are not very pleasant. In fact, they suck. Completely suck.
But if you prepare in advance for how to handle those first days, you will make the whole process go a lot easier for yourself.

 

7) Listen to the advice of those who have already achieved what you came here to achieve.

Then FOLLOW that advice. Don't just read it in the blogs and think, "hmm, yeah, that sounds good".
You must actually do the things that have been PROVEN to help make you a successful quitter.


8) Be HAPPY. This is one of the best decisions you will ever make for yourself. Be excited to do this. And be VERY, VERY proud of yourself. We are. And we will be here to help you all the way...


xxxooo, Sky

SkyGirl

You Can Get Through Day 3!

Posted by SkyGirl Aug 2, 2017

Day 3 is the hardest day in your first week.


This is the day that the last of the drug nicotine is leaving your body.

 

Nicotine's half-life is about two hours and it takes about 72 hours before all of it is out of your system.


Your brain realizes that this is happening. Your brain starts to scream louder than on Day 1 and Day 2. Your brain will yell at you: "Give me nicotine! You know I love it! You know we NEED it to be okay!!"


This is GOOD. When your brain is screaming at you, it is very hard to see that this is a good thing. The louder your brain screams "We are almost out of nicotine!! We MUST have nicotine!!", the more evidence you have that that you are about to be nicotine-free.  And that IS good.  


After Day 3, the physical withdrawal from the chemical nicotine is over. But the brain takes a much longer time for the receptors to heal and return to a pre-nicotine condition.  And so the healing begins.


But your brain receptors and neural pathways have memory.  Your brain will continue to hound you: "Where is that nicotine we love so much? You'll feel so much better if we get some nicotine! C'mon, c'mon...it won't hurt to have one".


How your journey goes from now on is up to you.


You will get a million suggestions and tons of advice on how to keep your Quit.


Take what resonates with you. And leave the rest.


There is no perfect way to quit. There is no magic formula. Do what works for YOU.


There is only one inviolate rule: Do not put any nicotine into your body.


As long as you follow that rule, you are victorious over the nicotine.


It's simple, right? But it's not "easy". Sorry, Allen Carr, but it is NOT easy. But it is easiER if you understand what is happening in your brain when you stop feeding it nicotine.


Today, you are an ex-smoker. You can be an ex-smoker tomorrow. And everyday thereafter.


And that makes you victorious. Congratulations!!!


xxxooo, Sky

I want the waist that my avatar has.  Just sayin'

 

Sky

SkyGirl

Why we say "N.O.P.E."

Posted by SkyGirl Jul 31, 2017

Why do we say "Not One Puff Ever"?

 

At first, it sure sounds like a code-phrase for WILLPOWER, doesn't it? But that's not what it means to us.

"Willpower" is not what it takes to be a successful Quitter. In fact, people who just try to "gut it through" (and "hope it works") are most likely to fail.

 

The mantra "NOPE" is used because we understand three basic principles:

 

(1) Nicotine is true chemical addiction,. It uses the same dopamine reward pathways in our brains as as does an addiction to alcohol, cocaine or heroin.

 

(2) Once we are addicted to nicotine, we cannot "cure" or "kill" an addiction but only ARREST it.

 

(3) Even after we have successfully arrested our nicotine addiction, taking JUST ONE PUFF of nicotine will create a high probability of becoming a smoker again. This is true regardless of how long we have maintained a successful Quit.

 

From these three principles comes The Law of Addiction, which states,

 

"Administration of a drug to an addict will cause re-establishment of chemical dependence upon the addictive substance."

 

And that, my friends, boils down to "If you take a puff, you're prolly gonna end up smoking again".

 

(I know this to be absolutely true, because I gave up a 23-year Quit by smoking just one bummed cigarette "to see if I still liked it". That's called "overconfidence". Do not ever develop that. I immediately began smoking full-time again for four more years. I could have avoided that so easily if I'd understood that nicotine is not a "bad habit"; it's an addiction that can be jump-started with one bad choice...)

 

And so we say: NOT ONE PUFF EVER. (N.O.P.E.)

Get it? Got it! Good!

xxxooo, Sky   (see the site "whyquit.com" for more information on addiction)

SkyGirl

Take a Deep Breath...

Posted by SkyGirl Jul 1, 2017

I'm sure glad June is over!  I finished up the last of five 3-day trips, back-to-back, with a transcontinental red-eye that arrived in DC at 5:58am.  I flew 15 days in a row.  I went to my condo to sleep for a few hours, then back to the airport to catch a flight home to  the Oregon Coast.  I have SIX DAYS OFF!!!!

 

Flying over the Cascade Range as we approached the Portland airport, we got a nice view of Mt Hood, which is the fourth highest peak in the range.  I took the picture below.

 

 

Every time I see Mt. Hood, I am reminded of the majesty of this earth of ours.  And of the feeling of breathing in cold, crispy, fresh mountain air.  And even though the only air available to me at that time is icky recirculated airplane air, I take a deep, deep breath.  I fill up my lungs, taking as much air in as I can.  I hold my breath for a few seconds, then I slowly blow it out.  And it feels so good to be able to do that!

 

Before I quit smoking, I couldn't have taken a "deep" breath, much less a "deep,deep" breath.  And when I tried, it always ended with me coughing.  And, demented as it may be, the coughing reminded me that I couldn't wait to land so I could smoke.  

 

But things are different now.  I quit smoking four years ago.  I gave my lungs a second chance.  They are healing every day.  Now, when we drive up Mt. Hood, I can take in huge breaths of cold, fresh air.  

 

They are wonderful cleansing breaths that give me a sense of calm, that help me to relax, and remind me that my stresses are mostly small ones, self-created and will eventually resolve themselves.

 

But, wait, aren't those the things that I used to insist that smoking did for me?  Make me calm?  Relax me?  Solve my problems?  These are the lies of addiction that we tell ourselves.  

 

And you have the power to change that for yourself and improve your life.   You CAN quit.  It isn't easy at first.  It requires some preparation, some reading, some thinking adjustments.  The improvements in the beginning of your Quit are so small at first that you may not notice them.  But every single day, every hour, every minute that you are not smoking, you are healing your body and your brain.

 

So take a deep cleansing breath.  And be proud of yourself for taking control of an ugly addiction to USED to have control of YOU.

 

You can do this.  Yes, I'm talking to YOU.

 

xxxooo, Sky

SkyGirl

Denver, anyone?

Posted by SkyGirl Jun 27, 2017

Hey, I arrive in Denver about midnight tomorrow (Tuesday).  I layover for the entire day on Wednesday in Denver before flying out to Vegas at 6:45 pm, and then the red-eye to DC, arriving at 6am.

 

Are there any EXers in Denver that would like to meet for a late brunch, lunch or an early dinner?  I LOVE meeting new Quitters in person!  I'll be in a hotel near DEN.  If you are interested (EX photo op!), message me here on EX.

 

xxxooo, Sky

Good morning, EXers!  I'm just checking in today to see how everyone is doing.  The title of this blog describes my life since EX5.  I'm getting about 5 hours of sleep a night and flying three or even four flights a day.  There has hardly been time to brush my teeth, much less write a blog!  Summertime is always a crazy time for the airlines.  Just wanted to say "hello, I'm still alive and hope to spend more time here soon."

 

Wow, shortest blog I've ever written.

 

xxxooo, Sky

SkyGirl

If you don't HAVE any...

Posted by SkyGirl Jun 19, 2017

I had a sort of epiphany. 


I DO sincerely believe that any person who truly wants to quit will have a huge advantage when they begin their Quit if they understand EXACTLY how nicotine affects the brain. When you have learned how nicotine actually PHYSICALLY alters the way that your brain receptors work (which makes you falsely believe that you "enjoy" smoking) you will have a whole new way of seeing smoking.


If you have any doubts about how the chemical nicotine gets into your brain and makes you believe that you love smoking, please go to whyquit.com and read the article at the top left side of the page called "Nicotine Addiction 101". It should rock your thinking.


But...didn't I say something about an epiphany...?


Yes, I did.  It wasn't recently.  It was the day I realized that I could could live a perfectly happy life without smoking.  Now, maybe it doesn't qualify as a real epiphany...because it's a concept that you might already know as "N.O.P.E", which means "Not One Puff Ever". Perhaps the so-called epiphany (Gosh, I love that word!!!) is more about HOW you go about living "not one puff ever".


Here's how: Get rid of ALL your cigarettes. And I mean every single cigarette that you might be able to access during a craving. Do not have any cigarettes in your house, your car, your office, your pocket, your kitchen drawer, your purse, your tote bag. Do not keep ANY "emergency" cigarettes "just in case". Just in case WHAT? In case you change your mind? In case it gets too difficult? In case you have a really strong craving? In case you feel stressed?


If there are NO cigarettes available to you, you won't smoke.

 

At least, you won't smoke UNLESS you get in a car, drive to a store, ask for cigarettes, pay for cigarettes, open the pack, put one in your mouth, find a lighter, ignite the cigarette and then inhale the smoke.


That last sentence does not describe a "slip".  A "slip" is an ACCIDENT.  It's something that happens TO you.  You "slip" on a patch of ice.  You "slip" when the floor is still wet.  Your car "slips" when the road is icy.   You  "slip" when something is beyond your control.

 

Many people here on EX talk about "slipping".  But was smoking a cigarette something that happened TO you?  Something beyond your control or your responsibility?  No, it was not.

 

I realize that people here on EX will continue to use the word "slip" to describe a lost Quit.  But please make sure that you understand that you are actually describing a conscious decision to acquire some nicotine and put it into your body.

 

So I guess what I'm saying is this: if you don't HAVE a cigarette, you can't smoke one.


I speak from experience. I know full well that, during the first few weeks of my Quit, if I'd been able to find a cigarette in my coat pocket or the bottom of my purse, get one from a nearby friend or from a pack I kept "just in case", I probably would have smoked it.

 

But I didn't...because when I thought I couldn't last another minute without a cigarette, I DID last without a cigarette.  Because I made sure that cigarettes were unavailable to me.


It's so important to get rid of all cigarettes, ashtrays and lighters when you quit.  If you don't, you are leaving the door open to smoking again.  

 

Close that door.

 

xxxooo,   Sky

SkyGirl

Hindsight

Posted by SkyGirl Jun 12, 2017

I was writing a comment on someone's blog today and the concept of hindsight came to mind.

 

The definition of hindsight is "recognition of the realities, possibilities, or requirements of a situation, event, decision etc., after its occurrence".  The key word here is "AFTER".  We only TRULY understood what we were doing to ourselves AFTER we had done it.

 

It's pretty ironic to realize that every single person here on EX who has a successful Quit also has 20/20 hindsight.

 

 Why didn't we accept the knowledge of what we were doing to ourselves when we picked up our first cigarette?

 

 Where was all that realization of the damage we were causing to our brains and our bodies when we started to smoke years ago?

 

Why didn't we see that strangling cough as we inhaled for the first time as a harbinger of the health problems to come?

 

Who knows...

 

So the best thing that we EXers can do now, since we have only hindsight for ourselves, is to try to help other smokers develop some foresight.

 

The definition of "foresight" is "1) care or provision for the future; provident care; prudence. 2) knowledge or insight gained by or as by looking forward; a view of the future".

 

If we can help just one person stop smoking before they cause irreversible damage to themselves, then we are doing good work here on EX.  (And THAT, my friends, was the theme of EX5: "The Starfish Story".  Thank you, @Strudel!)

 

In closing, here is some Food for Thought:  Here's an excerpt from the famous book "The Remains of the Day" by Kazuo Ishiguro:

 

"Rather, it was as though one had available a never-ending number of days, months, years in which to sort out the vagaries of one's relationship with Miss Kenton; an infinite number of further opportunities in which to remedy the effect of this or that misunderstanding. There was surely nothing to indicate at the time that such evidently small incidents would render whole dreams forever irredeemable."

 

Did you read it?  Now read it again, but replace the words "Miss Kenton" and "misunderstanding" with these words: "cigarettes" and "illness".  

 

Makes you think, doesn't it?  Let's continue to use our hindsight to help smokers develop foresight and save themselves.

 

xxxooo,  Sky

Just a few quick (but VITAL) reminders for anyone who is struggling with their Quit...

 

You know your life will improve without your nicotine addiction.

 

You know that you'll love having that extra money that you used to spend on cigarettes.

 

You know that all the people who love you will be so proud and happy that you have quit smoking.

 

You know that you will be getting back all that time that you used to spend away from whatever event was going on while you were going off to smoke.

 

You know that educating yourself about nicotine addiction will help insure your success.

 

You know that the words "try", "attempt", "hope" don't belong in your thinking anymore.

 

You know that, from the first minute you post a blog here on EX, that we will rush to welcome you, support you and help you find the ways that best help you to find your Forever Quit.

 

So, bring on your nicotine addiction, Newbies and Lurkers!  Because we can show you how WE quit and how YOU can also quit forever.

 

Smoking sucks.  (Even if you still think you love it.  Which you don't.  Ask us; we will tell you why your brain is telling you that you love smoking and need it to stay calm and beat the daily stresses in your life.  We will direct you to articles about how nicotine addiction hijacks your brain...)

 

"Loving" and  "Needing" cigarettes can be a thing of the past.  It's important to know that.  You CAN go on to a life without cigarettes.  I know this because I did it.  All the Elders here on EX have also done it, along with all the other Quitters in various stages of quitting.

 

And we aren't missing a damn thing.  I never believed that could be true.  Until I quit.

 

You CAN feel that way, too.  Because YOUR addiction to nicotine is no stronger nor harder to beat than OUR addiction was.   (Now, go back and read that last sentence again and let it sink in...)  

 

If we can quit cigarettes that, at one time, we thought that we "needed" in order to survive, we can help you to find your Quit.

 

Lean on us here at EX.

 

xxxooo,  Sky

That's the big question most of us had when we were on the cusp of quitting.  Smoking DEFINED us.  

 

The world was divided into two categories: Smokers and Non-smokers.  And we were about to jump the fence to the other side...  We didn't know who we would BE without cigarettes in our lives.   It's who we ARE, right?

 

Smoking was something we did every day, every few hours, sometimes every hour.  Heck, sometimes we just sat and chainsmoked mindlessly, without really even thinking about it...other than to worry about the dwindling number of cigarettes in our pack.

 

Smoking was something we planned our schedule around: When is my break?  How long is this meeting going to last? Do I have enough cigarettes to last me until I get out of work?  Do I have enough time to step out in back to smoke before the pasta is done?  I'll light up as soon as I drop off the kids.  Sound familiar?

 

And when we tried to imagine a life without cigarettes, we really couldn't.  Life would be empty.  Life wouldn't have any breaks to relax.  Life would require our attention every single minute of the day with no respite.  Life wouldn't have any "rewards" for handling the hard parts of our lives...  It sounded to us like life without smoke breaks would just suck....  I'll ask again:  Sound familiar?

 

Honestly, we could not envision WHO we would be if we didn't smoke anymore.  We felt a sense of loss and emptiness.  We thought, "But who AM I if I don't smoke" and "I can't imagine myself as a non-smoker".

 

And then we QUIT. 

 

Those first three days completely sucked as our bodies became free of the chemical nicotine.  And those first couple of weeks we thought about cigarettes a lot (okay, ALL THE TIME).  Life during those days was about making it through another minute, another hour, another day, another night without smoking.  We spent all our time using the tools in that Toolbox.  I know I bit a lot of lemons during those days.  

 

Here's how it happened for ME:

 

Everyone kept telling me it would get easier every day.  I didn't feel like it was getting easier.  But it WAS getting easier, despite my perceptions.  Slowly, I realized that I wasn't pacing around my hotel rooms like a caged animal.  I wasn't asking the front desk people where the smoking area was.  I was able to go a few hours without thinking about a cigarette.  I could drive without missing a cigarette between my fingers and tapping that ash out the cracked window. 

 

I counted each and every day like they were pearls on a necklace.  I came here to EX every single day to say how many days I had under my belt.  I blogged every single day about how I felt; if it was a bad day, a not-so-bad-day, a bad day, a pull-my-hair-out day.  And I got feedback.  Other Quitters commented and messaged me.  I received encouragement and suggestions to help.   I made friends.  I gave encouragement to others.  I persevered.

 

And, lo and behold, it DID get easier.  And I found out who I was without cigarettes.  I found my NEW NORMAL.  It took a while, but I wear my new normal with joy now.  It's comfortable now.   In fact, non-smoking IS my normal now.   I LIKE who I am without cigarettes.  And I wonder how I EVER thought that I "needed" cigarettes in my life.  I could NOT imagine that I would ever feel that way.  

 

And it will get easier for YOU, too.  Hang in there.  You will also find your own NEW NORMAL.  It will take a while before you feel like your new normal fits you comfortably.  But you will find out who you are without cigarettes in your mouth all the time.

 

And you will LOVE that person.  We promise.

 

xxxooo,  Sky


You know how we are always talking about having the "tools" to help us when we are quitting? We talk about using our "tools" to make it through a craving. We talk about using the "tools" we've been given to protect our Quit. Let's talk about these tools.

It would be great if you could walk into a hardware store and say, "I'd like to buy some Quit Smoking tools, please." You can't. But if you COULD...here's what you'd walk out of the store with:


1) Education: This would be articles, books, websites where you can learn about nicotine addiction. The tool of Education will be key in helping you learn that you CAN quit smoking and never smoke again. You will use this tool before you quit to get yourself ready and keep using it after you quit to keep you strong. This tool gives you knowledge and helps you benefit from the experience of others. Example: "The Easy Way to Stop Smoking" by Allen Carr and (my personal favorite) "Nicotine Addiction 101" on whyquit.com

2) Distractions: You should have plenty of suggestions and ideas from other people here on EX about ways to distract yourself if you need ways to redirect your brain when you can't seem to stop thinking about smoking or when a craving hits you. There are two types of distractions: Activities that will distract your hands/thoughts (examples: scrub your toilet, weed your garden, redo your nail polish, organize your tackle box, dance for an entire ABBA song, browse around on eBay, etc.) and Flavors/tastes that will surprise (or shock!) your tastebuds and sense of smell (examples: a spoonful of peanut butter, a drop of Tabasco, a shake of cocoa powder, blue cheese crumbles, a squirt of pancake syrup, a whiff of curry powder, Fruit Loops one at a time, Red-Hot candies, etc.) Make a physical list, written or typed, and keep it with you at all times.

3) Human Support: Online (like EX) or in person (family, co-workers, friends) can be some of the best tools you have during the first few weeks of your Quit. Obviously, it doesn't help to lean on someone who still smokes. Never-Ever Smokers can't understand what you are going through, BUT they can be your biggest face-to-face cheerleaders. Don't forget to educate Never-Evers before your Quit Date, using the "Letter to My Loved Ones". You can find this letter here on EX by doing a search for it. Many quitters have said it made a world of difference in the way their friends and family were able to understand and support them. EX is, of course, an invaluable support tool. I don't think I need to elaborate on why EX is so amazing, do I?

4) Common Sense: Your tool box should be chock full of common sense. Your common sense will tell you about things to do, things not to do, things that will help you, things that will hurt you, things to stay close to, things to stay away from. This tool is different from the knowledge you got from Education (#1 above) because it requires you to be creative and think for yourself within the details of your own life. It's that little angel/devil on your shoulder thing, right? Oh, wait. That's called "Conscience". Well, that's a good tool, too. But be careful of Conscience because that can cause a very UNhelpful thing called "guilt", which has NO PLACE in the tool box.

5) A Bottle of Water and A Big Yellow Lemon in a Baggie: Okay, okay, these both actually fall under Distractions (#2 above). But they are SO basic (the water) and SO effective (the lemon) that I felt they deserved the separate category of "Honorable Mention Tools". If you feel like you are losing control at any time during your Quit, take a big slug of water from the bottle. It's easy, it's available and it takes no great thought. Sometimes a few big swallows of water is all it takes to get you back on track. Or...take a deep breath and bite into that lemon, peel and all. It is not pleasurable. But it is a Hall of Fame Crave Buster. You will NOT want a cigarette after biting that lemon. I promise. (The baggie is so you can carry it with you. I got some very odd looks when I took out my lemon and bit it in airports! But...I don't smoke anymore, do I?)

6) Patience: Quitting doesn't happen in a day or a week or even a few weeks. As Youngatheart (Nancy) has said many times "Quitting is not an event; it's a journey.". It doesn't happen all at once and the road can be rocky, at times. Sometimes, all the best tools in your Tool Box aren't doing the trick. That's when you need this tool : PATIENCE. Thomas recently posted a blog about riding out cravings, experiencing the feelings, acknowledging the difficulty, not trying to fight it, and waiting for the urge to ebb away like a wave. It was a brilliant blog; go read it. Sometimes, you just have to be PATIENT.

So, Quitters, go check your toolboxes! Are you missing any of these tools? And if you have counted "Willpower" as a tool, forget it. Pitch it out. It won't help you find a Fovever Quit and it's not a real tool at all! Instead of "Willpower", use Education.

xxxooo, Sky

 

We all know that smoking cigarettes leaves nasty, dangerous residue in our lungs.  But watching a simplistic test like this will definitely reinforce what we already know about smoking.  It can't be illustrated any more simply, can it?

Here's the link:   Be Aware - Wat blijft er achter in je longen na het roken...