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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.  (The word "forearmed" is 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), crossword puzzles, 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 Birds...you 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.  Never DWELL on a craving.  Just open up your Quit Kit!

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!

 xxxooo,  Sky

SkyGirl

Dinner with Brenda M!!

Posted by SkyGirl Jun 25, 2013

Dear Brenda M,

I'm glad you love your new job in Indiana.  I hate that you don't live here in DC anymore.

I'm glad that you had a business trip to DC so we could have dinner tonight.  I hate that I had only this one night off to hang out with you.

I'm glad that we ate incredibly delicious burgers and huge plates of crispy french fries.  I hate that we ate incredibly delicious burgers and huge plates of crispy french fries.

You rock my face off, Brenda M!!  Getting together with you is ALWAYS a blast!  You are the very first EXer I ever got together with in person!  We were Newbies when we first met, weren't we?  Oh, just look at us now, eh???

XXXXXOOOOO,    Sky

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P.S.  I don't understand why I can't make my pictures (that I've uploaded to photobucket as usual) post as real pictures instead of just links.  It used to work.  I haven't changed anything.  Teddy, you turned a couple of my links of pictures with Dale into real pictures in your comment the other day.  How did you do that?  I was a picture monster for a while.  Now I can't do it at all!  Aaaargh.  I won't smoke over it.

(And I got to meet Hoggie, too!!!)

I caught the Coaster commuter train in San Diego and rode an hour north up to the city of Oceanside, CA, where our guru Dale (jonescarp aka Dale) lives.  I wandered out to the curb of the parking lot.  I was worried I might not be able to pick him out.  Silly me.  He drove up in his white Toyota pickup truck and was wearing that visor with the wild fur on top and that yellow t-shirt with the duct-taped smiley face, BOTH of which we've all seen on his profile page. How could I have EVER thought I wouldn't know him immediately upon sight??  ;-)

Big hugs and huge smiles!  I jumped in the truck and told him I was STARVING.  He was also starving, so we immediately headed to the Mexican restaurant he had already told me about when we made our plans.  The place he picked was great.  And our food and service was great.  I'm sure it had NOTHING to do with the fact that the restaurant was owned and operated by some of his relatives-by-marriage and that they were SO happy to see him (the owner/cook came out to see him and chat with us).  And, Dale, you were so right; those chili rellenos WERE as big as your hand!  Yum.  While we waited for our food, we agreed that we had to take pictures of the plates when they arrived.  But we forgot.  We remembered AFTER we ate everything.  So one of my pics included here is of Dale's empty plate...

From the restaurant we drove over to Dales's house.  I had been being very pushy about meeting Hoggie.  I WANTED A PHOTO OP WITH THE LOVE HOG!  Dale was sort of shy (so cute!) about showing me his place.  It's "kind of messy" he said.  I told him, "Look, Dale.  I am the mother of FIVE children.  There is not a mess in the world that can scare me.  I NEED to meet Hoggie!"  So Dale caved. And I was so glad he did!

His place is small and it is a design-miracle!  I have never seen such an efficient living space in my life!.  His place is (what seems to me, anyway) high in the hills with a lot of open valley space behind the house.  Dale is a general contractor and CARPenter.  (Holy cow, I had always thought his name had something to do with FISH!  Ooops.)  He showed me how everything in his home worked.  The storage spaces are clever and unexpected.  The kitchen set-up is versatile.  All the electronics (tv, computer, recording studio, video recorder, etc., are ingeniously connected. 

And the BEST thing?  Hoggie's set up.  That cat has it MADE, folks.  There is a swinging cat door at about shoulder-level, that leads out to a series of chicken wire-enclosed pathways leading to various places such as a cat bed that gets the sun, a litter box area, a cat-house area.  (Hoggie can't be an outdoor cat roaming free because of the coyotes in Dale's neighborhood, but this cat has the next-best arrangement to free-range!)  Pics to be included.

Dale played his guitar and sang two beautiful original songs for me.  His voice is so much deeper and richer than we can hear when he posts a video on EX!

Hoggie came out from under the bed and settled in his own personal desk-drawer "bed" next to Dale while Dale sang.  I got to scratch Hoggie and get the Hoggie/Sky photo op I'd been waiting all day for!!!  ;-)

I met his dad and his step-mom.  Excellent people and most welcoming!

From his house, we drove to a great park where Dale used to play games as a kid and now he and his friend Steve perform just for fun and to entertain the park guests.  There was a fiesta quinceaneras going on. At first we thought it was an outdoor wedding, but the young woman's dress was bright red/metallic gold and she looked waaay too young to be a bride!

We drove up to the highest point where we could see the bike path where his friend Steve was injured in that horrible bike accident last fall.  Remember THAT?  Steve is doing great now, but when Dale showed me the decline and subsequent incline of that very narrow bike trail, with the cement wall on one side and the deadly jutting rocks/cement drop off on the other side...well, I'm astounded that Steve survived a fall down those rocks at all!

From there, we drove through the Oceanside airport and just happened to be there at the right time to see all the tourist skydivers come dropping down into the desert area around the airport.  (I told Dale that I've done a LOT of things in and around airplanes in my life...but jumping out of one is never going to happen!  I'm not scared.  I'm just smart.)

Then we went to the beach.  Oh. My. Bob. (Shout out to dear Jordan for that whole "Bob" substitution thing!! xxxooo) 

Okay, you guys, we need to re-think the whole Orlando/DisneyWorld super-expensive Mickey Mouse plans for our next EX get-together!!! 

The beach in Oceanside is gorgeous, the rental cottages along the beach are cute and inexpensive (especially in February; these little orange cottages in my pictures will house 3-4 people each at only $500 for a WEEK.  Do the math.  And there was SO much to do in Oceanside. (Let's talk more about this later, but let's not assume Orlando HAS to be the place, please?)

Dale and I spent a lot of time at the beach and he showed me a lot of cool stuff.  You can CAMP on the beach!  Tents everywhere!

We ended up having ice cream cones and hanging out talking until it was time for me to take the train back down to San Diego.

It was an excellent adventure.  Truly.

Ok, now I'm going to try to include pictures.  I've been having trouble with this lately.  Not sure why.  If the pictures/links don't post, just enjoy this blog.  I'll figure it out eventually.

xxxooo,   Sky

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Because of my job, I can not be a constant presence here on EX.  But I want SO much to be a postive influence and to make a difference in the lives of new Quitters! 

When I first found EX (which was a completely random Google miracle), I wasn't even sure I wanted to quit yet.

And yet, here I am, a successful Quitter. 

Why?  Because when I came to EX, I could see that the mentors (EXperts and Elders) were people who had already achieved what I wanted to achieve:  these people were ex-smokers and I was still a smoker.  They had something to share.  I should listen.

I accepted that.  And I DID listen.

I read what they told me to read (even if it seemed stupid and simplistic; oh, how my ego had to eat some humble pie when what I read made ALL the difference in the world in my Quit!). 

I did the tracking exercises offered here on EX.   I learned that, even though I smugly thought I already understood my triggers (phone, car, coffee...duh), I had one MAJOR trigger that I had never before understood.  (Yeah, this is a carrot; contact me if you want to know what it was!  But only because it will help you believe that there are unconscious triggers that long-time smokers don't know about themselves!)

I did the separation exercises offered here on EX.  Yes, I felt stupid and (I'm embarassed to admit it) superior when doing these exercises.  But, holy crap.  I cannot tell you how scary it was to walk out of my door on a trip to the grocery store having left my pack of cigarettes behind on the dining room table on purpose.  And how incredibly empowering it felt to make that trip to the grocery store and back again without lighting up...and not dying for want of a cigarette.

Here's the thing, folks.  You don't have to come here with the absolute confidence that you want to quit and that you can quit. 

You DO have to come here ready to listen, read, take advice and do the work.  And you DO have to be ready to say to yourself (after smoking that last cigarette) that you WANT this.  That you have now made this decision to quit forever.  That you are no longer TRYING, ATTEMPTING, HOPING...  That you will do whatever it takes to continue to never smoke again.  That you know you can do this because your addiction to nicotine is no stronger nor harder to beat that anyone else who has ever come here to EX and been successful.  (Hate to say it this way, but...you're not special.  Nicotine is a equal opportunity addiction.)

I WAS going to just type an introduction and then repost my blog called "Skygirl = Broken Record"...but I guess I got carried away.  I think you should probably go read that blog of mine anyway, especially if you are just starting to educate yourself about what nicotine addiction does to your brain.  But maybe that's just my ego telling me that I have valuable info to share...????   Hmmm...I did quit....   ;-)

And speaking of valuable information:  go to whyquit.com and read the article in the upper left corner of the home page called, "Nicotine Addiction 101".   Wow.  Unbelievable.

xxxooo,  Sky  (btw, off to a long layover in San Diego on 6/22.  Any EXers around???  I'm buying!)

SkyGirl

EXers in Seattle?

Posted by SkyGirl Jun 12, 2013

I am sitting in a hotel room in downtown Seattle right now.  

The sun is shining.  The air outside is crisp and perfect.

I'm within 6 blocks walking distance of Pike Place Market.  

It's only 2pm here and I don't leave for the airport until 8:30pm

Any EXers live near downtown Seattle?

Meet me for an early dinner?  Or just a stroll through the Market?  A ride up the Space Needle?  Visit to the Chihuly glass exhibition?  Heck, a Duck ride?????

I KNOW I've seen EXers' profiles that say "Seattle"...   Please come out of the woodwork?

xxxooo,    Sky

SkyGirl

A Simple Truth

Posted by SkyGirl Jun 11, 2013

Those people who refuse to allow any nicotine back into their bloodstream have 100% odds of remaining nicotine-free.

Can it get any more simple than THAT? 

xxxooo,  Sky

Could someone please post the link to "The Easy Way to Stop Smoking" by Allen Carr to the blogs of newcomers "mommylovebone" and "abbysmom".  Thanks!!!!

xxxooo,   Sky

SkyGirl

A Smart Turkey

Posted by SkyGirl Jun 10, 2013

Quick!  Tell me what comes to mind when I say the words, "cold turkey".

Let me guess.  Miserable withdrawal.  Endless cravings.  Curling up in a dismal ball on your bed.  Feeling horrible.  Pacing anxiously.  Am I close?

Here are two ways to quit:

1) You decide to quit.  You get rid of your cigarettes.  You gut it out.  You spend your time FEELING all the effects and symptoms of the nicotine leaving your system.  You feel out of control.  You don't know what to do.  You don't think you can make it through...because all you are doing is FEELING...without understanding it.

2)  You decide to quit.  You educate yourself.  You read about nicotine addiction and how nicotine usage has hijacked your brain receptors and your dopamine pathways.  You learn exactly why your brain has told you that you LIKE and NEED smoking.  You start to understand what will happen to your brain and your body when you quit.  And you prepare for those emotions and physical symptoms by planning how to handle them when they occur.  You get a support system of friends, family and EX in place. THEN you get rid of your cigarettes.  And when urges to smoke hit you, you are able to step outside of them emotionally and see them for what they are...making them much easier to deal with.

Gee.  One of these methods is cold turkey.  The other is smart turkey.  Not hard to tell the difference, is it?

Oh, what about nicotine replacement therapies?  They have their place.  But only if you understand that there is no commercial NRT in the entire world that will do your quitting FOR you.

Your BRAIN is the biggest, best nicotine replacement therapy available to you.  (And, it's free!!)  Use your brain to make the decision to quit, to commit to that decision and to honor that decision every day.

Then, if it helps you, use NRT to take the edge off during your early Quit.  Anything that you use temporarily to help you quit smoking forever is great.  Just don't substitute one way of using nicotine for another!

Smart turkeys are more likely to join that small percentage of forever quitters.  Be a smart turkey.  Gobble, gobble.

SkyGirl

Bite a Lemon!!!!!!!!

Posted by SkyGirl Jun 4, 2013

There are two times to bite a lemon:

1) At the time a craving FIRST begins.  There is no better crave buster than biting into a whole lemon, peel and all.  The taste of that fresh sour lemon juice running over your tongue and into your mouth is a sensation that will immediately remove all thoughts of smoking from your mind. 

2) When you have allowed a craving to build to the point when you may be considering giving in. See explanation in #1 above.

Follow the link to see MY own personal lemon after the first time I bit it.  ;-)

I absolutely LOVE to see all the new people joining EX and blogging about their first few days of their Quit.  There is SO much strength and help to be found here on EX!  I wish I had the time today to write on every single Newbies' blogs.  But I'm off to the Friendly Skies again in a couple of hours.

So, here's a repost of a recent blog of mine.  It might help some of our newer Quitters keep a perspective on their cravings during these first few days...

I love everyone and I hope to blog when I get wherever it is that I'm going today (I forget...)  :-)

xxxooo,   Sky

https://excommunity.becomeanex.org/blogs/SkyGirl-blog/2013/03/07/skygirl-broken-record