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I am seeing a lot of new people joining us here on EX.  I love it! 

In these newly-arrived folks, I see determination, I see positivity, I see dedication, I see energy! 

I also see worry, fear, hope, anxiety.  This is ALL very normal. 

I am printing a link to an old blog of mine.  I'm hoping it will help our Newbies see that it doesn't take extraordinary strength to successfully quit cigarettes forever. 

It only takes three things: 

1) The DECISION to quit smoking

2)  The COMMITMENT to that decision

3)  HONORING that commitment every single moment of every single day



Posted by SkyGirl May 28, 2013

I just got a call from the Crew Desk.  I'm being sent on an open-ended assignment to Frankfurt, Germany. 

What does "open-ended" mean, you ask?  It's exactly what it sounds like: the Crew Desk has NO idea what they intend to do with me once I arrive in FRA. 

No matter how many times I've gotten an assignment like this in the past, it is still a bit unsettling to be sent to a foreign country with no hotel, no crew, no next assignment. 

But, whatcha gonna do?  So I'll just check the weather in Frankfurt, pack accordingly, download last night's episode of "The Bachelorette" and get on the plane tonight for the 7 1/2 hour flight. 

C'est la vie.  I would say that in German, but I don't know German.  Actually, I don't know French, either.  So I'll just say, "That's life!

See you all in few days, I guess!

xxxooo,  Sky

Last Saturday, I had a layover in Vancouver, BC.  I took the Sky Train (how appropriate, right?) into downtown.  Kari (freedom38) met me at the train station.  Lots of hugs!  It was like we'd known each other forever!

She took me to a brewpub called "Steamworks" where we enjoyed some beer and stuffed mushrooms while I showed her all the Vegas pictures on my iPad.

Then we had dinner. Interesting food trivia:  In Vancouver, all burgers must, by law, be cooked to "well-done" unless the meat is ground on site.  So, because I like my burgers to be still mooing when served to me, I ordered fish.

We were having a great time...but the best was yet to come.  Kari had brought a small brown paper bag.  She reached in and pulled out...NANAIMO BARS!!

For those of you who don't know what a nanaimo bar is, please go back and read a blog posted by freedom38 on December 1, 2012 entitled "What I'm having for breakfast..."

Kari is SO funny!  She couldn't resist and had already eaten one of the bars.  So she wrote on the paper bag, "Sky, I'm sorry"  Aaahahahaha!  We each ate one and I was in heaven.  Seriously, guys, these bars are worth making a special trip to Canada for.

She walked me back to the train station and let me keep all the rest of the nanaimo bars. THANK YOU, KARI!!

And the best part?  We didn't have to even think about smoking!  Yay!

Now, I've spent a couple of hours trying to get the photos of our meeting posted in this blog and I just seem to have lost my photo-posting ability today.  But I want to go ahead and post this now.  I'll keep trying to add the photos...  Maybe I can at least post links to the photos on Photobucket.

The first time I saw this, it was posted by Maggie.  It bears reposting on a regular basis for our Newbies...








I am about to try and change my life for the better. I am going to quit smoking. I just wanted to write this letter to you so you know what to expect for the next couple of weeks, since the process of withdrawal can be very challenging for me, and for those around me. (Most people do not realize it, but nicotine addiction is literally one of the hardest drugs to kick, even harder than heroin).




Everyone reacts to the withdrawal symptoms differently, but in general, during the first two weeks (Hell Week and Heck Week), don't expect much from me. I will most likely not be my normal self. All of my attention will literally be taken up with fighting the physical and mental urges to smoke. I may cry, I may yell, I may ignore you. Worst of all, I may say very hurtful things to you, but I want you to know that this is the nicotine talking, not my heart. I WILL apologize afterwards, once the poison has left my body and my mind has cleared, but for the moment, please, PLEASE remember that I love you, and let it roll off your back.




You need to know that when a smoker quits, the body and the mind will try almost anything to trick the user into taking another puff. I may rationalize that "now is not a good time". I may question the worth of my existence. I may talk about feeling a sense of emptiness and loss. My body may develop aches and pains. I may not be able to sleep. I may act like the pain I am experiencing is all your fault.




But be aware that I am doing this for ME, not for you. In this one important way, I have to be selfish, so that I cannot give the nicotine a reason to put the blame on anyone else. So you must not feel responsible for my discomfort and depression. Even if you feel you can't stand to see me this way, whatever you do, do NOT tell me it's OK to smoke, just to stop the pain. You have to be strong when I am weak, so do not agree with any "junkie thinking" I may come up with.




Here are 10 things you CAN do to help:




1)  Be there when I need a hug, but don't be hurt when I push you away.  If I tell you to leave me alone, give me space, but don't go too far...I need to know you are near no matter what the nicotine says.




2)  Don't try to argue with me when I start to rationalize...silence is a more powerful message. 




3)  Avoid the topic of cigarettes (because I'm trying to get them off my mind), unless I bring it up first; 




4)  Do the best you can to act as if everything is normal. The more "normal" you act, the faster I will get there.




5)  Consciously avoid putting me into situations where I will be in the presence of smokers. This may mean avoiding favorite restaurants or bars, or hanging out with certain friends for awhile.




6)  Consciously avoid letting me get into stressful situations...if something stressful can be put off for a couple of weeks, please try to do so. If not, please try to cushion me.




7)  Help me avoid "trigger" situations...places or activities where I usually light up. (For example, don't plan long road trips for the next couple of weeks if I usually smoke in the car).




8)  Just keep telling me it will get better, that the emptiness and pain will fade, that you love me, and that this effort is worth it. 




9)  Tell me I am strong. Tell me you are proud of me. But also, tell me you will be there no matter what I say or do.




I just wanted to prepare you because the first two weeks are usually the worst, but be aware that it doesn't suddenly get will be a gradual process. Also, please be aware that, while I am doing this quit for me, you and those around me will benefit as well. I will be free from the shackles of needing to know where the closest cigarette store is. I will be free of the smell and stains. I will be free of an early death. And I will be free to spend more quality time with those I love.




Thank you in advance for being strong enough to love me, and help me through this.




Love, ____




Do not be hesitant to print this out and give it to your family and friends.  It could make all the difference in your success.  I believe this to be true.  NEVER EVER hesitate to ask for help.  And always feel free to contact me directly.  Sky Girl = [email address removed].  I MEAN this.




xxxooo, Sky


Edited by Mark to remove contact information. Please only share contact information via private messages with trusted members.











Apparently, it CAN!!!

As if Vegas wasn't enough wonderfulness, I am about to have another amazing face-to-face tomorrow!

Tomorrow, after I arrive at YVR and get checked into my layover hotel,  I'll be taking the Sky Train (now, seriously, how appropriate is THAT?? lol) into downtown Vancouver.  And when I get off at the Waterfront Station, who will be waiting there for me?

FREEDOM38, that's who!!!!!   I'm soooo excited that I can't get to sleep.   Kari is very special to me.   We came to EX about the same time.  And we all know how close we get to the people who begin this journey with us.

Got my camera.  Got my Kleenex.  Stand by for a full report, with pictures, tomorrow night!!


Vegas in a Nutshell

Posted by SkyGirl May 23, 2013

What a dumb blog title. There is NO WAY to put the Vegas trip into a nutshell. However, the Crew Desk has been working me to the bone, starting just five hours after I arrived back in DC from our wonderful time in Vegas. I'm grabbing a few more hours sleep before my alarm goes off at 3am AGAIN. So I don't have time to post my full blog about Vegas just yet. But Strudel and Sarah have both posted wonderful blogs that really capture the emotion and joy of the entire weekend. I have about 100 great photos to post to Photobucket, which I will try to do on my layover tomorrow night I can't recall just now where my first layover is on this trip, but the second layover on this trip is Vancouver.

My dear friend, Freedom 38, did you hear me???? I said VANCOUVER!!!!! I will private message you times and places, etc. No excuses. If you don't make this happen, I will tell everyone on EX that you don't love me. HAH!

Anyway, watch for my big Vegas blog and my pics on Photobucket when Misty does the album for you all!

Oh, and here's me and my BFF Teddy (joyeuxencore), along with Tommy (Pir8fan), Stacie (Stac) and Cindy (Determined in Dakotas) on the first night (Thursday) before most of the others arrived. And, no, Tommy and I didn't not wear twin pink shirts on purpose! But it looks cool, doesn't it?? LOL

xxxooo, Sky

photo SDC10130_zpsdd2451e2.jpg

Got back from Vegas at midnight on Monday.  The Crew Desk had an assignment waiting for me at 5am.  After only 3 hours sleep, I've been to Chicago, Newark, Chicago again, Orlando, and DC.  I suppose I don't need to tell anyone that 12 hours sleep in Newark with a flight crew is not as fun as four days in Vegas with EXers, right?  Got home to DC at 7pm tonight and hoped for a good night's sleep...but it was not to be.  Got a call from the Crew Desk 20 minutes ago (1:30am) for a trip assignment out of DCA (Reagan National Airport) in just four hours.  Arrrgh.  So into the shower, a quick re-pack, and on the road to DCA in a few minutes... 

Since I have gotten back from the AMAZING time in Vegas with EXers, I haven't had time to post a real blog with pictures, etc.  But I just have to take a moment to say that it was absolutely wonderful to meet and hang out with the friends I have met here.  It SO solidifies my commitment to be an EXsmoker forever and ever and ever.  I do have so many incredible pictures to post.  And, hopefully, the Crew Desk will give me a day off after this trip to sort through them and get some pics up on our EX Photobucket site. 

In the EVERYONE who is quitting, Newbies or Oldbies:  Stay strong.  Be proud of what you are doing for yourself.  No one has ever regretted quitting.  If someone like me can quit, then ANYONE can quit...with self-education about nicotine and the support from all of us here who KNOW that it can be done.

Coming to this site and getting involved has been the best thing I have ever done for my own health and my future.  Please reach out to me or to any other EXer if you are lurking, watching, thinking and aren't sure that you can do this.  Because you CAN.  And we will help you every uncertain step of your way.



Preparing for your Quit...

Posted by SkyGirl May 6, 2013

Many people decide to quit cigarettes on the spur of the moment.  They may have been thinking that they WANT to quit for a long time, but the actual moment is a knee-jerk response to smoking too much the night before or some other trigger that makes them toss the pack in the trash and declare, "That's it.  I'm done with cigarettes!".  And then they feel really good about it...until the first craving hits them and they can't figure out how to get through it.  So they say, "Ohhhh, this is TOO hard.  I can't do it!".  And then they smoke.

They did not PREPARE for their Quit.  And as Miguel de Cervantes said, "Forewarned, forearmed; to be prepared is half the victory.  (Good old Miguel wrote "Don Quixote"  Here's a pic of him.  Isn't he cute? 

And he wasn't just a pretty face!  He was right about this. 

Forewarned?  It means gather knowledge about your enemy (nicotine), it means learn all that you can about addiction, about quitting, about what works and what doesn't work. It means listen to the folks who have already quit successfully here on EX and take their advice seriously.  Do the reading.  Do the Tracking and Separation exercises here on EX.  Understand your addiction BEFORE you attempt to quit.

Forearmed?  It means spending time thinking about, and choosing, how you will handle cravings.  These are the weapons with which you will be forearmed (a fancy way of saying "armed beforehand", get it?)  To do this, I suggest you start with two separate lists. 

The first list is "Things I will DO when I am Craving".  This should be small simple tasks or activities, such as take out the trash, play solitaire, start a load of laundry, do 15 jumping jacks, trim your toenails, go yell at the people who work for you (ok, maybe not THAT), a crossword puzzle book, write a real postcard to someone, rearrange your desk, call your mother, take the dog for an extra walk, clean out your kitchen junk drawer, play Angry get the idea, right? 

The second list is "Things I will Put into My Mouth INSTEAD of Cigarettes".  (No,no, don't go there, please.)  These are oral substitutes.  Flavors and textures that will distract your senses from a craving, and keep your mouth busy until the craving passes.  The obvious things are gum, hard candies and mints.  But think outside the box, too.  Other items on this list could be licorice sticks, whole cloves, olives, flakes of red pepper, Cheerios (one at a time, like a baby does), teeny cubes of cheese, a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar on your tongue, pistachios, butter rum Lifesavers, swigs of bottled water, a Tootsie Roll Pop, sticks of fresh zucchini, cherry tomatoes, a spoonful of peanut butter...have I got you thinking?

Now, assemble your "weapons" against the cravings.  Buy or find the items on these lists that will allow you to put these ideas into actual practice when a craving hits.  Find a suitable totebag or box.  This is your "Quit Kit"  (Yes, I know some of this sounds juvenile but, guess what?  Dying from nicotine is serious and you need an arsenal to beat your addiction.)  Don't forget to include your two lists in your Kit.  During the first days of your Quit, and for as long as necessary, keep your Quit Kit near you.  And utilize it when the urge to smoke hits you.  When a craving comes over you, you can just, oh, say, grab a handful of breadsticks and go run around the block while you munch on them.  Or how about crack open a can of coconut water and go paint your fingernails?  Or eat six black olives while dancing around the coffee table, humming ABBA songs?

Finally, don't forget the most super-secret effective Crave Buster EVER:  Bite into a whole lemon, peel and all.  Nothing will kill a crave faster.  I promise.

The point is this, folks; IF you prepare properly for your Quit, you are more likely to succeed.  Don't just sit there and feel reeeeaallly bad when a crave comes over you!  Take ACTION until the crave ebbs away.

"Forewarned, forearmed; to be prepared is half the victory".  It works.  And if I can quit, YOU can quit, too!

(getting down off my soapbox)   xxxooo,  Sky


April is OVER!

Posted by SkyGirl May 2, 2013

April is over and it appears that I have survived the most demanding, screwed-up, exhausting month of flying that I have EVER had.

I'm technically still flying my April schedule because I'm still on my trip that began on April 30.  I'm bringing the red-eye back to DC from San Diego arriving at 6am tomorrow.  Then I have four whole days off!!!!  I plan to sleep for the entire 96 hours.  Okay, maybe just 95; I have to go buy a new stock of pantyhose.  (See how exciting my life is?)

For fun, I kept track of my cravings this month. I had two. Just two in the whole month.  Obviously, cigarettes came to mind more than that, mostly when I passed by a smoker or came to EX.  But ACTUAL times of  wanting to smoke?  Just twice.  And both times, it was instinctive and easy to just shrug it off.

So hang in there, Newbies.  It gets easier and easier and easier.  We promise.

Now, on to Las Vegas!