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2013

Wow.  I guess most of you know I've not been flying much for the last few months.  But the big Clock of Reprieve has ticked itself out.  I'm out of sick days and every other possible excuse I could file in order to stay on the ground.  So...I bid a schedule for December.  And darned if I didn't GET it!!!

DALE....get ready, my dear.  I got an entire month of long layovers in San Diego.  There is no escaping me now, you old goat!  LOL.

I will be buying a multiple trip pass on the Coaster.  I have SEVEN opportunities to hang out with Hoggie.  Oh...and with you, too, of course, my dear (but only if you take me for a hand-sized chili relleno at your relative's incredible restaurant again, eh????)

Better yet, let's spend the day after Christmas together here in San Diego.  I will pick you up at the train station and take you for an unforgettable Dec 26 meal in Little Italy (with NO walking!)

I'm buying. Sheesh.  How can you say no??? 

THE ONLY THING THAT WOULD IMPROVE THIS MONTH IS IF SOME NEW EXER LETS ME KNOW THAT THEY ARE NEAR SAN DIEGO AND WOULD LIKE TO GET TOGETHER FOR BRUNCH, LUNCH, COCKTAILS, DINNER...  REALLY...I MEAN THIS.  DALE AND I ARE (sort of) GOOD COMPANY; I'LL BUY THE PITCHERS OF MARGs.  They won't be as good as Pir8Fan (our dear Tommy) makes them, but hey, I said I'm buying, right???  LOL.  Heck, I'm so starved for EX fun...I'll even buy DINNER.

Listen, the only thing that could make any of these layovers of mine better would be to have a new EXer come forward and want to hang out with us in either San Diego (my layover) or in Oceanside (Dale's town).  PLEASE...if you are an EXer anywhere in this area, contact me.  I WILL make this happen.  If you worry that it might not be an okay way to spend a meal/evening...well, just contact any EX who has met me in one of my layover cities for dinner or happy hour.  For heavens' sake.. ask me for EX references if you are concerned.  I completely understand your concern.  And I completely DON'T understand you not letting us get together to talk about how to quit...and more importantly, how to learn to enjoy life without cigarettes.

Dale...I am waiting to hear from you...  Apple pie???

xxxooo,   Sky

SkyGirl

I talked to Lee...

Posted by SkyGirl Nov 19, 2013

You guys...I talked to Lee today on Facebook.  It's been so long since I've talked to him that I can't even remember the name he used here on EX.  But he was such an AMAZING friend to so many of us here on EX that I know many of you will remember him.  He's the fisherman from Austin, TX.

He gave up a great Quit and has only been back to touch base with us once since then.  And when he contacted me tonight through FB, I was SO happy.  He still wants to quit.  But I guess I talked about it too much, because he finally said "You are preaching..."  Yikes.

I don't preach.  But I just wanted to let those of you know who remember and care about Lee that he's still around.  He still wants to quit.  (This is probably a good guess, but I'm sure he'd RATHER catch an amazing fish, but...hey....priorities, right?)

I miss that guy so much.  He was such a great person to have here with us on EX. 

xxxooo to my old friend, Lee,

Sky

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

Let me guess what you are thinking...  Miserable withdrawal?  Endless cravings?  Curling up in a dismal ball on your bed?  Feeling horrible?  Pacing anxiously?  Wringing your hands?  Snapping at everyone who crosses your path?  AGONIZING?

Am I close?  Are these the images you are seeing in your head?  Hmm...  Okay.  Now, read.

Here are two ways to quit:

Method #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.

Method #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.  Use your brain to make the decision to quit, to commit to that decision and to honor your commitment every single day.

Then, if it helps you, use NRT to take the edge off during your early Quit.  An NRT 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.

XXXOOO,   Sky

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 Birds...you get the idea, right? 

The second list is "Things I will Put into My Mouth INSTEAD of Cigarettes".  These are oral substitutes.  Think of 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

I've been seeing several of our newest members relapse early on in their Quit. 

It's vital that new Quitters prepare themselves properly in order to be successful.  We aren't just blowing smoke (pun intended) when we tell you that educating yourself about nicotine addiction will be your best weapon against cravings and will really help you prevent a relapse.  That's why new EXers are given links to some of the best quit-smoking resources with instructions to read, read and then read some more!

Nicotine is a drug addiction, just like any other drug addiction.  So you will have some kind of withdrawal symptoms.  Maybe sooner, maybe later, maybe mild, maybe strong, and many symptoms may not even seem to be related to nicotine withdrawal.  Knowing what to expect when you quit is very, very important.

But many Quitters forget that your family and friends should also know what to expect when you quit, how you might behave and how they can be most helpful to you during this time.

So here is a letter that we re-publish every few months.  Print it out and give it to your family and friends.  It has helped many, many Quitters get the understanding and support that we need during the early weeks of our Quits.

Dear______,

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:

      
  • 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.
  •   
  • Don't try to argue with me when I start to rationalize...silence is a more powerful message.
  •   
  • Avoid the topic of cigarettes (because I'm trying to get them off my mind), unless I bring it up first.
  •   
  • Do the best you can to act as if everything is normal. The more "normal" you act, the faster I will get there.
  •   
  • 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.
  •   
  • 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.
  •   
  • 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).
  •   
  • 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.
  •   
  • 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 better...it 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, _______

   

I hope this helps some of you to build a support network in real life, as well as the wonderful support that we all give each other here on EX!

SkyGirl

Kelly! ONE YEAR today!!

Posted by SkyGirl Nov 6, 2013

Loving congratulations to kshields59!!!!  Today is her ONE YEAR anniversary!

Did you think we didn't remember,Kelly??  You are one of those wonderful people here who quietly support everyone else.  You may not be here everyday.  But you are part of the BACKBONE of this site!  Kelly, if you ever think that your contributions aren't noticed or that your presence isn't important...you are mistaken.  Really mistaken.  You are one of the people that I always look for when I log in.  It isn't always the sparkling stars who make a difference.  It's solid, loving, supportive people like you that keep this site rolling!

I love knowing you are always here, somewhere.

Congratulations on your ONE YEAR benchmark!! 

XXXXOOOOO,  Sky

Tomorrow, on November 5, Joyeuxencore, hits her ONE YEAR mark! 

I know her as Teddy (because she is my friend in real life and because her real name is Theda), but I know many of you think of her as "Joy"  And what a PERFECT way to think of her.

It's hard to believe she's only been here on EX for one year, because of all the encouragement, wisdom and love (yes, definitely LOVE) that she brings here to all of us! 

What an incredible positive atmosphere Teddy creates here on EX just by being herself.  She makes sure to pass on the practical stuff (like links to Allen Carr), but she also makes sure to be the emotional rock that everyone knows they can lean on when they need an extra loving dose of "You CAN do this"!

I was reading some of Teddy's first blogs this afternoon because I wanted to find some quotes to compare the way Teddy felt when she first got here to EX to how she is such a strong Quitter today.  I couldn't have found a greater way to demonstrate to all of our new EXers how much can change in just one year!!

Here are some quotes from Teddy's earliest blogs:

"I feel absolutely terrified to be without cigarettes.Terrified. Like I am going crazy already".

"I would rather smoke than anything else. It's good to actually type that so I can witness the insanity going on between my ears."

"So incredible to have this support. I would not have made it 4 days otherwise.  Of that I am sure".

"I'm unbearably excited to be in my 9th smokefree day, however, the truth is I feel horrible physically...STILL: my joints ache, my legs have shooting pains at night my heart races when I can't sleep...I get extremely uncomfortable when the cravings hit like I'm going to scale skyscrapers like spiderman with my bare hands!".

THIS IS OUR JOYEUXENCORE????  Yes, it is.  Or rather, it WAS. 

I posted these quotes from her old blogs because I know that the most important thing in the world to her is to have a postive impact on people...to make a DIFFERENCE in someone's life.

Teddy, you have NO idea how much of a difference you have made here on EX in just one year.  Yes, there are the folks that have quit for several years and they have invaluable advice for all of us.  You and I both respect and admire those EXers.  We are so grateful to know them and to benefit from their wisdom.

But...there are Newbies here every single day who look for someone who will "get" them.  Someone who has been where they are and has made it to where they want to be. Someone who is still close enough to where they are right now to still understand the fear and the uncertainty.  That's YOU, Teddy.

Yes, indeed, you may sound like someone who has never had a moment's doubt about quitting.The confidence and wisdom and caring you exude in your comments is incredibly solid!  Yet, I often tease you about being all flowers,crystals,rainbows and cute puppies.  (yeah, sorry, the whole yin/yang thing we laugh about, kiddo!)

So I think your greatest gift here on your ONE YEAR anniversary is to allow folks to know that even someone as wonderful as you started out (just like the rest of us) at a place of fear and uncertainty. 

And that YOU are a shining example of how someone can be unsure, be scared, be anxious, be angry, be scared...and still beat their nicotine addiction.

The best part is how you give back, Teddy.  When I grow up, I want to be just like you!  Happy ONE YEAR anniversary and welcome to the 6% Club.  I love the heck out of you.

xxxxxxxxxxoooooooo to my BFF,     Sky

EX adopts Jordan!

One year ago today, on November 1, 2012, Jordan was officially adopted by the EX Community! 

And here she is, one full year later, still going strong!  Jordan has become one of the most knowledgeable, encouraging, positive, loving forces here on EX.  I'm so proud to be her friend.

Congratulations, Jordan.  Well done, my friend, well done!

XXXXXXXXXOOOOOOOO,  Sky