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2014
  1)  Smoking a cigarette does NOT calm you down, ease your stress, make you happier or more able to cope.  All that smoking 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. 
   
  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.
   
  7)  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

About Being Afraid...

Posted by SkyGirl Feb 22, 2014

There are so many new folks here on EX!  I love getting to know them and watch them learning, reading and preparing for their Quit Date!  Today, there was a blog posted by someone who talked about being afraid to Quit.  I assured her that most of us were very scared as the reality of what it means to quit forever loomed closer and closer.  I suggested she go reach some of the earliest blogs of the Elders to see how they felt when they approached their Quit Date.  Then I got curious about my own early blogs just before I quit.  So I found it on my page and read it.  Holy cow!  I was a basket case!  So insecure.  So needy.  So AFRAID.  Thank goodness for all the wonderful people here on EX who rushed in to comment and help me!!  It's absolutely true that there are no "outsiders" here.  We welcome all new folks with open arms and we are excited to bring you into the circle of support!  We are all equal here.  

   
  Then I got the idea to reprint my blog for the Newbies to read.  It's solid evidence that you can be terrified of quitting and still be successful in your Quit.  
   
  I was SO afraid of quitting.  But I did it.  And so can you guys!  
   
  So here's my blog on the day before my Quit Date.
   
  xxxooo,  Sky
   
   
   Tomorrow is the big day... by Sky Girl   
   
   
   and, all of a sudden, I'm a split personality.  I've been so looking forward to being free. I WANT to quit so badly and I DON'T want to quit.  I'm AFRAID now.  I'm looking at this all wrong today.  I'm really fighting with myself because I KNOW I truly hate smoking, I KNOW I WANT to be free of this awful addiction.  I DO believe I'm capable of quitting. I've been preparing myself for 24 days by reading, tracking, thinking, making lists, etc.  so why, just before the big day, am I feeling like I'm losing my best friend????  I'm sitting out here on my patio, smoking like a madwoman, just because I still CAN today.  Why can't I convince myself that I shouldn't be seeing it as a matter of "can't" smoke starting tomorrow.  Up until now, I've been seeing it as being free finally.  I felt so positive about this new beginning.  But today, it feels like a sacrifice and I'm scared.  I know, I know, I know I need to get back to viewing it in a positive light.  It IS positive.  I CAN and I WILL and ill be so much better off.  But today, those words just feel like a fake front.  I thought I would be SOOOO happy today, knowing I was ready and excited for tomorrow.  Now, honestly, I just feel frightened about tomorrow.  This morning, I remembered that one of the last steps on my prep list is to throw out all my lighters.  Damn, I love my fancy little colorful lighters from Paris!  Now, how stupid is THAT?  Attached to my lighters???  And, now, I just looked at my ashtray.  It's a gorgeous vintage aqua glass ashtray that I got at an antique store.  My God, I'm even romancing my ASHTRAY.  I need some serious help today, so I can get back to all the strong positives feelings that, deep inside, I KNOW are still hiding inside my brain.  I WILL quit tomorrow.  I just need some serious pep talk right now, pleeeease?
   
  See?  So know that fear is normal and it won't stop you unless you LET it stop you!  xo, Sky
SkyGirl

About Day 3...

Posted by SkyGirl Feb 21, 2014

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 Day1 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.  While 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.

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.

Your brain has memory.  It 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 you can do it.  And 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

SkyGirl

Part 2: HGTV vs. Food Network

Posted by SkyGirl Feb 18, 2014

Ok.  To break my addiction to HGTV and free my brain from open concept, hardwood floors, granite countertops, en suite bathrooms, load-bearing walls, etc...I switched to Food Network.

Yesterday, I watched Alton Brown's show "Good Eats"  I have always like that show.  Yesterday, he taught how to make an amazing four-layer Coconut Cake, using homemade coconut extract and fresh coconut.  So what did I do?  I ran straight to the grocery store and bought everything I needed to make that cake, including the bottle of vodka needed to make the coconut extract.  (I could have ordered a cake from "Cake Boss" and it would have been less expensive than all the stuff I bought!)   My cake doesn't look like Alton Brown's, but it sure tastes good.  And since my sister and niece don't like coconut, I guess I'll have to eat the whole cake.

This morning, I watched Guy Fieri make Barbeque Pulled Pork Sandwiches.  Guess where I am right now?  Having coffee and a blueberry scone in the little cafe next to the meat market downtown.  In my grocery bag sitting next to me is a 5 lb. pork butt (I wish I had only a 5 lb. butt) and a bottle of Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce.  Yup.

This is not going well.  I think I'll switch back to HGTV.  At least when I watch House Hunters International, I can't run out and buy a house!

(I walked past a man in the meat market who absolutely REEKED of smoke.  He stopped and took of his coat and smell got even stronger!  I can't believe I thought I never smelled of smoke.  What an idiot I was!)

xxxooo,   Sky

I am watching too much HGTV.

If I hear the phrase "open concept" again, I'll go crazy.  When I'm doing my thing in the kitchen, I don't want everyone in the house to bother/watch me!  Seriously, why does someone who has been invited for dinner need to see the hostess draining the pasta?  Sheesh.

And why does eveyone hate carpet these days?  When did that happen?  When I was young, nice carpet throughout a house was a real selling point.  Nowadays, every home buyer acts like carpet carries leprosy!

And why are "popcorn" ceilings so hard to live with?  Just don't look up.

Don't even get me started on the non-negotiable need for a walk-in closet that is the size of my first post-college apartment!

Yes, indeed, I'm watching waaaay too much HGTV.  I guess I'll switch to the Food Network.

The most excellent thing is that I don't even think about smoking any more.  When I first quit, it was impossible to even imagine my life without cigarettes.  Now, smoking never even enters my mind and the "new normal" (that I didn't believe I could achieve) fits me like a glove!

Instead of worrying about smoking, I'm having trouble separating from HGTV.  All problems should be so terrible, right?  LOL

xxxooo,  Sky

SkyGirl

Three Simple Rules

Posted by SkyGirl Feb 15, 2014

1)  On your Quit Date, you MUST get rid of ALL your cigarettes, lighters, matches and ashtrays.  Check your purse, your car, your pockets, your kitchen drawer, etc.  If you cannot put your hands on a cigarette during a strong craving, obviously you can't smoke one.  The craving is likely to pass before you do anything you'll regret.

 

2)  Always be prepared.  Never find yourself in a situation where you haven't planned how you will distract yourself if a craving hits you.  And make sure you have whatever supplies you will need to accomplish that distraction.

 

3)  Cookies are part of the journey.  This is VERY important.  If you don't believe me, just ask joyeauxencore (Teddy)!   Nanaimo bars are a highly acceptable substitute for cookies.  Just ask freedom38 (Kari)!

 

xxxooo,   Sky

This letter has been reposted many times.  I'm not sure who originally wrote it.  But it can make a real difference  in your Quit when your family and friends really understand what is going on with you.

 

  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, _______
   
  One thing is sure here on EX: if you are a new member, you will be given recommended reading.  Some will be links, some will require you to go to another site, some are downloads.
   
  "I've already read all I need to know about how smoking is killing me" you may be saying.  Well, so have we.  That's some scary stuff.  But scare tactics are not an effective method.  That's not what the recommended reading is about.
   
  "I didn't come here to get homework.  I just want to know how to quit" you may be sayiing, as if we have discovered some magical secret that we can tell you.
   
  We ARE telling you how to quit:  Do the reading.  It's not exactly a magical secret, but the reading has played a HUGE part in the successful Quits of hundreds of people here on EX.  "How's that?" you may be asking.
   
  I'll bet that you, just like most of us here on EX, have had several unsuccessful quits.  And during those quits, you've used phrases like: "trying to quit", "making an attempt", "see if it works this time" and my personal favorite "Wish me good luck!"  And then you "try", but you end up smoking again.  Why is that?  Because you are still thinking of smoking as something that you are "giving up", "doing without", "sacrificing".  You fully expect to be miserable.  You can't even imagine your life without smoking.  (Neither could we.)
   
  The key is to   change the way you are thinking about quitting.  You can flip your thinking 180 degrees so that you no longer feel like quitting is "taking away" your cigarettes.  Instead, you can begin to see quitting as a release from nicotine addiction.  You see it as freedom.
   
  "Freedom from what?" you ask.  Well, for starters...freedom from smelling like a dirty ashtray, from always worrying about  if you have enough cigarettes to last until you can get to the store, from constantly scheming how and where you can have your next cigarette, from hiding your smoking from your friends or family, from spending money you need for other things, from having to locate the smoking area every place you go.  Shall I go on?  Not to mention the health benefits!
   
  So how does the reading help to flip your thinking?  The reading will teach you all about nicotine addiction and why it has such a strong grip on you.  You will learn that nicotine actually physically changes your brain receptors, which then start telling you that you enjoy smoking, that nicotine relieves stress, that you need cigarettes, that you'll miserable if you don't have nicotine.  The reading will show you that these things are not true. 
   
  And somewhere during the reading, you will go from dreading quitting to being ready to quit being a prisoner of nicotine anymore.  You will finally, really and truly, WANT to quit.  
   
  And THAT is what makes for a forever, final, successful Quit.
   
  You can do what we have already done; QUIT.  Your addiction to nicotine is no stronger, nor harder to beat, than our addiction was.  If we can do it, you can also do it.  But the self-education that will flip your thinking around is absolutely KEY to success.  
   
  So...do the reading.  Over and out.
   
  xxxooo,  Sky
   
SkyGirl

500 Days!!

Posted by SkyGirl Feb 9, 2014

I hit 500 days today!  Woo Hoo!!!

On my Day One, I saw the blogs of people who had 50 days, 100 days, 365 days, 500 days under their belts.  It seemed impossible.  Even a week seemed like forever to me.  I just couldn't wrap my head around the idea of never ever smoking again.

So I didn't.  I just decided to honor the commitment I'd made to myself on each day as it came along.  The days mounted up faster than I imagined they would.

And now, here I am at 500 days!!!  

So, to all the new Quitters, you CAN do this.  

Here's some advice for Newbies:

1)  Education is absolutely key.  Learn all you can about nicotine addiction and how it affects your brain.                              

2)  Read every single thing that is recommended to you by EXers.  It's all valuable.

3)  Prepare for your Quit before you actually quit.  You will want a list of "Things to Do When a Craving Hits".     You will also want to assemble a "Quit Kit" to keep near you.

4)  Banish the following concepts: trying, sacrificing, giving up, doing without, attempting.  Accept that "good luck" has nothing to do with a successful Quit.

5)  Think of your Quit this way:  "I have DECIDED to quit.  I am COMMITTED to my decision.  I will HONOR my commitment each and every day".

I am LOVIN' my 500 days!  Thanks to all the wonderful people here who helped me get there.  I love you!

xxxooo,  Sky

...that I'm sort of scared.  And that is not a feeling I'm familiar or comfortable with.  Auto-immune disease?  Huh?  What the...?  I've been up here in Ann Arbor for more than 7 weeks having tests at the UofM Medical Center.

Tomorrow, I go in for yet ANOTHER test...this time the disease being tested for is called "Polyarteritis Nodosa".  Google it.  And you might understand why I'm feeling scared.  The test takes all day and I have to lie still on my back for 6-8 hours to make sure that the arteries they test don't bleed out after the 3 hour test.

This sucks.  I've never been sick before in my entire life.  I'm one of those annoying people who always boasted that they never, ever get sick.  Until now.

Not being able to come to Orlando is killing me.

But wait.  No.  NO.  Get a grip, Sky!  Not being in Orlando is NOT killing me.  It feels really, really, really bad to not be able to come to Orlando and spend a wonderful weekend with both old friends and new friends.   Especially since I was in Las Vegas for the First Annual Get-together and I feel like I had a hand in the whole idea of the Tear Fest..  Can I be honest with all of you?  Here I go:  I really feel bad to see you all get together without me there...  Selfish, but I'm being painfully honest.

 

Now, it's time to be more realistic about this.  Not being there isn't "killing" me.  SMOKING was killing me.  

But it is not killing me anymore.  I quit.  And NOTHING gives me a better feeling about my future.  Even medical crap.

Oh. Wait.  The thought of going to hang out in West Palm Beach with Teddy does indeed make me feel better than anything else I can think of!  Ross, here we come!

Anyway,  I could use some cheering up...    :-(  :-(   :-(

\xxxooo,  Sky