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2012

There are a LOT of brand new EXers on the site recently.  To all of them, welcome!  And congratulations on making the smartest decision you have ever made for yourself! 

Before I came to EX, I thought I knew everything I needed to know about smoking, nicotine, addiction and quitting.  But I quickly realized how little I understood about what it would take to quit smoking FOREVER.

Here is a blog I posted a while back.  Please take it to heart.  As they say, the program works if you work the program...

I came to this site because I wanted to quit smoking. I recognized that many of the people here had already done the thing that I wanted to do. So I read what they told me to read. I did the tracking exercises. I went to the other sites that were recommended. I was a STUDENT and I learned how I could stop being a nicotine addict.

It was like a lightbulb went off the day that I GOT it.

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.

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.

No, I'm not an Elder. I'm not an EXpert.  I only have a few months under my belt.  But I have more than that. I have the knowledge, the understanding, the thinking, the confidence 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. Thank you, EXers!!! You have literally saved my life.

Okay, EXers!!!  Here are my January layovers.  Who lives in or near these cities and wants to have dinner or a drink?  I'm buying.  Photos WILL be posted on EX!    Jojo, please reserve the night of Friday, January 25th, because I'm taking you out on the town, Girl!  Anyone else in the Philly area?  Or in any of these cities?  C'mon, don't be shy.  I don't bite.  AND I DON'T SMOKE!  Woohoo!

Jan.2: Jackson Hole, WY (arriving at 1pm)

Jan. 5: Sacramento, CA (arriving at 3pm)

Jan. 8: Seattle, WA (arriving 11am)

Jan. 9: Houston, TX (will be in Houston for 27 hours; 6am on the 9th until 9am on the 10th!)

Jan.12: Orlando, FL (arriving 6pm)

Jan.14: Portland, OR (arriving 3pm)

Jan.18: Seattle (arriving 11am)

Jan.19: Houston, TX (will be in Houston for 27 hours; 6am on the 19th until 9am on the 20th)

Jan.22: Portland, OR (arriving at 2:30pm)

Jan.25: Philadelphia, PA  (arriving at 3pm)

Jan.27: Orlando, FL (arriving at 7:30pm, but time for a late dinner or an early brunch before I leave at 10am on the 28th)

Jan.30: Dallas/Ft. Worth (arriving at 2:30pm)

Cowboys for everyone!  (You should see Scheidl's cowboy, but she left the train too early.  Anyone want Schneidl's cowboy?  He looks very nice...)  heeheehee

Wow.  What a day!  I've worked Christmas Day flights for the past seven years, but today was the best ever.  If I can't be with my family on Christmas, then I am grateful to have such wonderful passengers to spend the day with!

The people who fly during holiday seasons are not frequent flyers.  They sometimes haven't flown in years.  They don't know that peanuts, pillows and meals are things of the past.  They bring bottles of liquor, large tubes of toothpaste, scissors, corkscrews, big jars of night cream in their carry-on baggage.  And they don't understand why the TSA takes it away from them.  By the time they get on the plane, they are frazzled, hungry and sometimes very angry.  It's falls to the flight attendants to take good care of them and make them feel better.  And, on holidays?  It can be tough, because passengers are ALSO dealing with family issues and money issues and...

That's why, once I get over the not being with family thing (and you EXers know I had a hard time with that this past Thanksgiving!), I love being a flight attendant who gives a crap about how people FEEL on my flights! 

Today was CRAZY. 

5am: Portland, OR, to Denver.  Sit in Denver airport for almost four hours until next flight. (Um...unpaid hours) 

Then Denver to Orlando:  Delayed an hour.  FULL of children  (as are all flights to Mickey Mouse's home) who had not slept last night, were now sugared up, and had painful plugged ears during take-off and descent.  Lots of crying!  Also, a radar warning alarm went off during this flight (unbeknownst to passengers) indicating a problem with the radar system.  Not good.  Landed okay in Orlando. 

Orlando to Washington, DC was delayed while mechanics worked on radar system.  Finally took off with crabby passengers at about 8pm.  I declared all drinks free due to our delay and to Christmas spirit (pun completely intended).  Challenged my crew to get a smile out of any crabby passenger, with a bottle of wine to the flight attendant who turned the most people's attitudes around. 

Then...a medical emergency.  Passenger who couldn't breathe.  No doctors on board.  We administered oxygen, had the cockpit call for paramedics to meet plane upon arrival in Washington, DC.  Landed about 10pm and had to hold passengers onboard for 15 minutes, awaiting paramedics.  This is no big deal.  I deal with medical emergencies onboard all the time. But this was Christmas night and these passengers wanted to GO HOME.  I hated holding them onboard after we landed, but that is standard protocol and it's not up to me to circumvent it!  Finally, everyone was allowed to leave.  INCLUDING ME!!

I arrived at my DC condo, which is not my REAL home, but I still love Northern Virginia!  I looked at the clock and I realized that I had just a few minutes to jump on EX and wish you all a Very Merry Christmas.  Now...it's taken me quite a while to write this, so by the time this posts, it's well after midnight and Christmas is over. 

Deep sigh.  I know a lot of women here are sad tonight.  We wish we were younger.  We wish we'd made better choices.  We wish our children were young again and didn't know what fallible humans we really are.  We wish we'd planned better for our future.  We wish that Christmas was just like it used to be when a pretty tree, lots of presents and a family together made everything perfect, even if only for a day.  AND...we wished we'd never started smoking.  Smoking defined us for a long time. 

But time marches on.  And things change.  WE change.  Thank goodness that we have the strength to change  Some people never do.  HERE?  We make new friends.  Sometimes...Forever Friends.  (xxxooo to mine!)

But YOU and I are CHANGING. We have made an incredible choice to overcome nicotine.  It isn't easy and it often isn't fun (although you might change your mind if you attend our next online party, heeheehee).  All of us here at EX have "tools" to help you succeed.  Please take advantage of them, Newbies.  Success is a victory hard-won.  Give us credit for knowing how to quit smoking and please please please follow the advice the Elders and EXperts give you. 

If someone told that you could make a million dollars, GUARANTEED, if you followed their advice...you would do it, right? 

... Is a million dollars worth MORE to you than living a longer life?

More than knowing you have been strong enough to beat your nicotine addiction? 

More than feeling incredibly proud of yourself as you make it through another day without cigarettes? 

More than knowing that your family is so proud of you while they see you finally taking the steps to be a non-smoker?

More than being able to take deeper breaths of fresh air and not coughing like crazy every morning when you wake up?

I would be astonished if any person could read the above, and still say that they would rather smoke than have these wonderful, loving things in their lives.

This blog is too long!  Ooops.  Sorry.  I hope a lot of you here read it and comment...

I love EX.  It saved my life.  I will do anything I can to pass that gift on... 

SkyGirl

Back to Portland! Woot woot!

Posted by SkyGirl Dec 23, 2012

Ok. So I sit around from Dec 2-17, waiting for an assignment from the Crew Desk.  I never get one. 

Then I'm off duty from Dec 18-22, so I fly out to Portland and spend some time on the Coast with my Beloved at our home in Cape Meares, OR.  We had a wonderful early Christmas.  I flew back to DC where I'm based.

I FINALLY got a flight assignment just now .  Guess where?  DC to San Fran to...PORTLAND! 

Yes, I'm arriving midnight on Dec 23 with an unheard of 30-hour layover in Portland OR, and flying out at 6am on Christmas morning (Portland to Denver to Orlando to Wash DC...long day on Christmas!  Yay for holiday pay!!!)

So, I kissed my Beloved goodbye at the PDX curb this morning, and he's driving back in from the coast tonight and we'll be spending all of Christmas Eve Day and night together in Portland.  I didn't think I'd see him again until February!

I love my job.  I love that I don't smoke anymore.  Day 88.

I know, I know...  

"Day 87???  Seriously, WHY is this person even here anymore?" 

"I've been fighting to get through Day 6, and this person is crying about Day EIGHTY-SEVEN??"

I'm NOT crying.  But I am still here on EX.  And I'm still here because the EXperts have taught us well.  They KNOW what they are talking about. 

Yes, the nicotine is out of your body in about three days.  Yes, the changes in brain function that were caused by nicotine take about another 21 days to right themselves.   And then...you go into No Man's Land.  (For information about NML, go to the page of jonescarp aka dale and check out his blog on No Man's Land.  Actually...Dale, could you please put a link in the comments of this blog?  Thanks. xxoo)

Dale (and other EXperts) know that it takes about an additional one hundred days after the first 30 to find your "new normal".  Your "new normal" is a life in which you don't smoke and, in fact, you rarely think about smoking and certainly don't think of yourself as a smoker anymore.  Your "new normal" means that what was probably UNTHINKABLE to you prior to beating your nicotine addiction  is now the way you live your life.

So take a look at your calendar for 2013.  Yes, take one day at a time.  Sometimes, in the beginning, it's just one hour at a time.  But go ahead and mark that date on your calendar.  130 Days from the date you quit.

I quit on Sept 27, 2012.  I'm wandering around in No Man's Land right now.  I'm doing great and I'm proud of myself.  BUT...every once in a while, a crave hits.  And hits BIG.  You have to be aware of this possibility in NML.  If you are not aware and ready for it, you might say "Oh, heck, I can smoke just ONE now."

No.  You can't.  Nicotine addiction is always ready to take over your brain again, even with just one cigarette.  I know this from personal experience.  I quit smoking when I was 30.  I was a non-smoker for 23 years.  During those years, I couldn't even imagine smoking a cigarette.  But my sister came to visit and, while having some wine, she offered, I took it. BAM!  Immediately addicted again.

So...is it hard to quit?  Not if you have done the recommended reading, done the exercises, make the commitment and stick close to the blogs. Not if you think of quitting as "freedom" instead of "sacrifice".

(And, btw, mark Feb 4 on your calendars.  I'll come walking out of No Man's Land on that day.  Woohoo!  There WILL be a party!)

My forever friend...you are my hero!!! xo

It's JOYEUXENCORE!!!!

Isn't she a beautiful lady, inside AND out???

Newbies, please listen to joyeux when she speaks.  Tomorrow, she is at 48 days.  She has a great, solid-as-steel Quit goin' on...because she won't smoke, NO MATTER WHAT.  And this lady is one of the biggest cheerleaders you'll ever find to help you through the rough spots.

I just love this person.  XXXOOO to joyeuxencore!!

Oh, my dear, dear, dear EXers!!  As you know, I was supposed to host the EXmas Party & Virtual Gift Exchange yesterday.  As some of you know, I'm currently out on Cape Meares, OR, which is a small unincorporated vacation community on the Oregon coast.  For the past 2 days, we have had torrential rains and flooding in some areas.  Yesterday, our internet went out completely.  I got in the car with the intention of driving into the nearest town (Tillamook) and finding an internet connection there.  But the road that goes inland from Cape Meares is a narrow 2-lane road, with the Tillamook Bay on one side and sheer cliffs and ravines on the other.  The road was flooded in some places, but I managed to get several miles.   But as is common here in periods of very wet weather, the road was blocked by a rock side.  The road was completely blocked by mud, rocks and trees that had washed down one of the ravines.  I couldn't do anything but turn around and go home.  I was frantic, as I had promised Owl that I would hostess this party.  The county trucks cleared the slide enough this morning for one-lane traffic.  So I am now in Tillamook where I found internet access in a pancake house.

I feel so terrible.  As soon as I got online I came here to blog.  I can see that I have 9 things in my Inbox, but I didn't want to open anything until I had come here to apologize.  I'm really hoping that somebody picked up the ball and started the party...

:-(   :-(   :-(   :-(   :-(     (But I didn't smoke over it!  Day 86)

xxxooo,  (please forgive me; I did TRY!)

Sky Girl

image

After sitting around for 15 days, waiting for the Crew Desk to give me an assignment, which they never did, I am FINALLY released from duty until December 23.  So I'm heading to my other home in Cape Meares, Oregon, to have an early Christmas with my Beloved, Jeff.  Woohoo!!!!  A smoke-free Christmas!  Double Woohoo!!!

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Don't forget to let me know if you'd like to participate in the Virtual Gift Exchange at our online Christmas Party on December 20th.

EVERYONE on EX is invited, including folks who has just arrived here on this site! In fact, maybe especially the Newbies, because one of our online parties is a GREAT way to get to know each other and to build a support network. And supporting each other is one of the most important components of a successful Quit!

If you want to participate, all you have to do is let me know by responding to this blog. I will put your name into the hat and when I pull out names later today, I will private-message you each individually to let you know to whom you will be giving a "gift".

Then pick out a picture of your gift. Just type "image of (whatever)" into a google search to find pictures of toasters, fruitcakes, golden unicorns...whatever you want to give as a gift.  (Nobody'd better give me a toaster!!)

If you need to learn how to post the picture, go to Shawn's page. She has posted some very easy-to-follow instructions on her page. (There are a several "shawn"s registered here on EX, but if you go to the "Members" tab, then do a search for "Shawn", she's the pretty blonde wearing a Santa hat in a picture frame.)

But if you don't want to participate in the virtual gift exchange, please stop by the party anyway!! Owlfeather is unfortunately not going to be in town to host the wild rumpus, so she has asked me to do the honors. Just stop by my blog on December 20 and join in the festivities!

So...who's in?

xxxooo,

Sky Girl

Today is the day that I will be pulling names out of the hat for our Christmas Virtual Gift Exchange Party!!

I KNOW there a lot of you out there who want to both give and receive, right?

Please just respond to the blog with a comment telling me that you'd like to participate.

If you don't know how to post pictures, please go to Shawn's page.  She has posted a very easy-to-understand series of instructions on how to post pictures on a blog.

By the end of today, I'll will have private-messaged every person that says they'd like to participate, giving them the name of the person to whom they will be giving a virtual Christmas gift.  Then all you have to do is find a picture of the PERFECT gift for that person, along with some pictures of food (because, hey, this is a POTLUCK party)!

The party will be held on December 20th and Owlfeather has asked me to host in her absence, which I am VERY excited to do.  So, on December 20th, just go looking for my party blog and jump right in for some Christmas cheer and non-smoking companionship. 

And if you've never been to an online, virtual party before??  Oh, boy, are you gonna have some FUN!

So comment here and tell me if you want to party with us!  Of course you do.  Then watch your Inbox...

Happy Holidays, everyone!

xxxooo,

Sky Girl

I'm feeling particularly blue today. 

I haven't gotten a flight assignment in nine days.  That's NINE days of having to sit around my house, being on Ready-Reserve, just waiting for the Crew Desk to call.  I don't do life on the ground very well when it lasts this long.

I'm just staring out at my patio, which was my personal smoking haven.  When I quit, I broke it all down and put it away.  No rocking chair, no table, no lamp, no magazine rack, no nothing out there anymore.  It's a barren block of cement.  I can't imagine ever enjoying being out on the patio ever again. 

However, at this moment, I CAN imagine going out there to have a cigarette.  No, no, I'm not going to.  But I'm sort of daydreaming about it...  And it bothers me that it actually sounds kinda good.   My Quit is iron-clad.  I won't do it.  I know that for certain. 

But I kinda want to.

Okay, so I'm wandering around out here in No Man's Land tonight.  This is what it looks like:

Notice all the footprints?  There sure are a lot of us EXers in No Man's Land.  And some of us seem to be struggling a little the last few days.   Anyway, so I walked over that sand dune and LOOK what I found:

 

Now, maybe it's just ME...but that sure looks like a party waiting to happen, doesn't it?  A pool, lounge chairs, a warm breeze and lots of EXers!

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I've been gone from EX for just three days and when I started reading all the new blogs last night, there were a lot of new folks I didn't recognize.  I wanted so much to go back and comment on all the blogs of Newbies to give them encouragement. 

But blogs get buried SO quickly here and by the time I'd gone back about eight pages worth of blogs and STILL not reached older blogs I'd read before I had to leave...well, I knew that it was unrealistic to try to comment on all the Newbie's blogs.

While reading the wonderful blogs of Newbies, I got to thinking about my own blogs when I was a Newbie.  And how I remembered seeing those folks that were up to Day 50 ,60, 70?  Well, they had it MADE, right?

They must have been CHARMED to get that far, right?  They must have ALWAYS had the confidence to quit pretty easily, right?  People who have been quit for THAT long?  They couldn't POSSIBLY have EVER felt the way a Newbie truly feels, right?  HAH...

Here is a reprint of a blog I posted when I was first here on EX, just last September.  I didn't print the "Comments" section, but if you like, you can go back and read all the comments people made if you go to my Blog History and check out pages 11-12.  Some of the folks who commented are some of my best friends now.  And so you see, dear Newbies, we DO understand how you feel when you first get here.  And we DO want to know you and support you and love you...  Welcome, Newbies!!!

"Okay, I must preface this blog by saying I know this is probably an unwarranted feeling, but I guess if you feel something then this is probably a very safe place to talk about it. I am coming up on my quit date; just five days from now. And I know I have posted blogs that talk about how I am SOOOO prepared for it and planning how to handle it. But, in reality, I'm worried. I'm nervous. I don't know HOW I'm going to feel on that first day. I've read everything that you've all recommended. I'm seriously preparing (see previous posts), but here's what I'm actually feeling: You guys all seem to know each other so well and for so long. You guys all seem like such good friends. You share addresses of people who need special help (which is SO amazing that you have developed such relationships!). You all seem to know so much about each other. And I feel like an outsider and almost like an intruder. Like the new kid holding a lunch tray in the cafeteria who walks up and says, "Can I sit with you?" NOBODY HERE IS MAKING ME FEEL LIKE THAT. Everyone here is being SO welcoming and wonderful! It's ME who is worried about pushing my needy self into a place where all the good friends here might be saying, "Oh shheeesh, it's that Fly Girl again...and she hasn't even QUIT yet!" I had NO idea that I was so insecure until I got to a point in my life where I needed some real serious ongoing support for something I haven't been able to master in my life... Is this making sense to any of you "veterans" or should I just make an appointment with a therapist?????"

   
SkyGirl

I'm back on EX...

Posted by SkyGirl Dec 6, 2012

My daughter, Hayley, will be fine.  It was a very tense few days while she was kept in the Infectious Disease wing and was being administered huge doses of broad spectrum antibiotics while the laboratory tried to figure out why the "gram negative" bacteria had shown up in some of her blood cultures, but not in ALL of them.

She had been brought into the ER by her best friend last Sunday night, thinking she had a violent case of the flu.  She didn't ask to have me called until the blood cultures started showing up with a potentially-fatal bacteria.  She told me she KNEW I would come immediately, and she didn't want to "inconvenience" me.  WHY do children never understand, until they have children of their own, that a parent will lay down their LIFE for their child????

Her condition was worrisome enough that the nurses immediately offered to bring a cot into the room so I could stay with her 24/7, which I did.  The nurses were amazing.  And for the first time in about a decade (since Hayley is almost 29) my darling independent daughter did not resist my mother-tigerness nor my advocacy with the doctors. 

I was told by my middle son's fiancee, Jennifer, who is a physician at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, that if Hayley was not treated in the ICU, it was a good sign.  Hayley was never admitted to the ICU, but rather into a "step-down unit", so I was breathing easier right away.  However, despite the fact that Hayley's condition did not seem to be deteriorating, as would have been expected if the gram negative bacteria had gotten a strong foothold in her system, the blood cultures continued to breed conflicting results, sometimes between blood draws that had been taken within just FIFTEEN minutes of each other.

The lab ruled out the possiblity of contamination, but still could not explain the varied levels of bacteria in her blood nor the fact that she did not continue to sicken.

(Personally, I knew she was going to be okay when she roused herself enough to ask me to brush her hair and put it in a ponytail.  When she asked if there was a Wendy's anywhere nearby, I obliged her request and started planning to bring her home to her apartment!)

The Department Head of the Infectious Disease Department (he looked a bit like God to us...) came into her room this morning.  He told us that, although he can't explain the presence of the "gram negative" bacteria in about half of all those blood samples they took during the last few days, he was "encouraged" enough by her improved condition to let her go home today with her promise that she would continue antibiotics for another week and would PROMISE to be readmitted if the latest blood cultures came back positive for the gram negative bacteria. Of course, she promised.  She would have promised ANYTHING to be released.  I felt less confident in this decision, but I'm her mom.  Of course I would worry more, right? 

This was heavenly news to her: she is the Communications Director for the Michigan Suburbs Alliance and has been heavily involved in trying to get the Regional Transit Authority bill passed in the Michigan House of Representatives.  Being held in the hospital with needles pumping her full of antibiotics while this important vote went on in the Michigan House of Reps today was KILLING her. 

I got her settled in her apartment late this afternoon.  She seems well, but weak.  Her friends came and insisted they would take care of her, so I flew back to DC tonight because I am on Reserve tomorrow and needed to be back in DC.

I know all of my wonderful friends here were thinking of me and worrying and I am so gratified that you all care that much!  I care so much in the same way for all of you...  (I only wanted to smoke ONCE during all this.  It was a BIG urge, but...hey, I don't smoke anymore.  Today is Day 71.  Wow.)

I love you guys.  I do.  I DO.  Thank you SO much for caring...

Sky

SkyGirl

Need prayers...

Posted by SkyGirl Dec 4, 2012

I've just found out that my 28 year-old daughter, Hayley, is being admitted to the hospital in Detroit with a very serious blood infection called "gram-negative".  I googled it and now I'm really scared for my baby girl.

I'm not a very religious person, but please pray for her.  I've dropped everything and am flying immediately to Detroit.  I should be able to get to her by about 7pm tonight.  I'll try to keep you guys posted, but I may not be on the computer much in the next couple of days.

BUT....when I finally got to my hotel room and could get online and logged on and saw all that I've missed in the last 18 hours?  Well, I actually sort of forgot that I WAS going to talk about how I realized I had just arrived in a hotel that I LOVED for its smoker-friendliness.  I wanted a cigarette.  Not really.  I just sort of had a sensory flashback that sounded, smelled, tasted good.  I was never in danger.  I never will put a cigarette in my mouth again.  BUT...I keep having to deal with these previous smoking locations at all these various hotels.  I can handle it.  I know what I want my life to be now.  But that doesn't mean those sensory "hits" are easy...

I love EX.  I do.  I WILL give back.  And I hope it is worth as much as I am GETTING  from EX...  

SkyGirl

Day 65: A New Leaf?

Posted by SkyGirl Dec 1, 2012

Okay.  I DO need to lose this weight.

So I'm listening to my Beloved's parents, who are advocating a plant-based diet.  At their behest, I read "The China Study" and it seems to offer a really healthy way of eating, with weight loss as a bonus.

So I employed my learning here at EX regarding "changing my thinking" in order to view a plant-based diet as a positive change, as a new opportunity for health, as a wonderful new way of living that will help me be healthier and lose weight.

I got to my layover hotel room tonight with a lunchbox containing a homemade White Bean & Tomato Salad,  Spring Green Salad, almonds, olives, bananas and a few other non-meat snacks.

So, I'm unpacking all my healthy food and putting it all on ice when I glance out the hotel window...

An IN 'n OUT BURGER just across the parking lot.  With a sign flashing "Sky...sky...sky...we have a juicy cheeseburger just waiting for you...."  Ok, maybe not that last part, but... 

This ain't gonna be easy.