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2014

Here it is again.  I never remember the exact source because it's been reprinted so many times in so many places.  But it's a gem.  Use it.  It's one of those "tools" we are always promising you.  It WORKS.

   
   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, _______
   
  This letter has made a real difference in many of our Quits.  I hope it helps some of you new folks!
   
  xxxooo,   Sky
SkyGirl

Let's talk about SABOTAGE.

Posted by SkyGirl Sep 30, 2014

Many people who come to EX to quit smoking are living with other smokers.  

And many times, those smokers don't intend to quit (at least not now) but they seem entirely supportive of our decision.  They declare their pride in our decision.  They announce that they will do anything to help us succeed.  They ask us what they can do to help us.  They agree to smoke elsewhere.  They say they will remove all their cigarettes and lighters from the spaces we share with them.  They hug us and pat us on the back and seem genuinely pleased that we have made this commitment to improve our lives.

And they really, truly, absolutely DO mean it.   Honest, they do.

Then they sabotage us.  How?

Sometimes they do it by the things they SAY.  They say things that plant doubt in our own minds.  They say things that undermine our confidence.  They say things that imply that smoking isn't really so bad after all.  They say things that basically open the doors to the possibility of failure.  

Examples:  

"You've smoked all these years with no health problems, thank goodness".  

"You can always try again next week if you decide now is not the right time".  

"I'm sure you'll be stronger at this than you were when you tried to give up sugar last year".  

"Don't worry if you decide to smoke; lots of people can't quit the first few times they try".

Sometimes they sabotage us by the the things they DO.  

Examples:

They hover over us.  They ask over and over again how we are feeling, are we craving, are we going to make it?  

They stop smoking outside after the first few days.  

They start leaving their cigarettes around us.  

They even OFFER cigarettes to us on the pretense of helping us check our resolve. 

They shake their heads at how miserable we seem and suggest that quitting might not be worth this misery.

They do the "just in case" thing to us.  (In fact, I was inspired to write this very blog because the husband of one of our newest Quitters, despite his wholehearted support, just left a pack of cigarettes on the porch for her when he left this morning!  Why?  "Just in case")

Why, oh, WHY do our beloved smokers do this?  Often, they don't even realize that they are sabotaging us.   Usually, they are completely unconscious of what they are doing.  They honestly mean well and they truly believe they are helping us.  They don't do it to be cruel.  They don't do it because they want to see us fail.  

  So why DO our loved ones unconsciously sabotage us?  Sometimes, they just can't stand seeing how miserable we are during the first few days and will do anything to relieve  our "suffering".  But more often, it is because when we quit, it puts a spotlight on the fact that they are still smoking.  They often feel we are judging them.  They feel guilty because they know they should also quit.  If we keep on smoking, then that makes us their partner in crime and they don't have to feel solely responsible for the fact that they still smoke.  It dilutes their own sense of responsiblility for smoking.  They do it because it helps them feel not so bad about themselves.  It's not a flaw in them.  It's just human nature.
   
  So, how do we handle our beloved smokers who just aren't doing what we need them to do?  As I've always said in my blogs,   EDUCATION and PREPARATION.  Just as much as we need to educate ourselves and make proper preparations for our Quit before our actual Quit Date arrives, we need to help our loved ones understand what we are doing and what will happen and how they will be affected.  Most importantly, we must let them know, in no uncertain terms, exactly what we will need from them.  There is a letter that has been reprinted here on EX (and on other stop-smoking sites) many times under several different titles.  I don't have the link, but I will go post another blog immediately after this one that contains the exact wording of this letter.  It is an open letter to our loved ones, both smokers and non-smokers and many have found it made the real difference in the support they received from their loved ones.  Print this letter out if you are just starting your Quit and give it to all those around you.  Also, watch for the well-meaning sabotages that may come your way.  Recognizing them is half the battle.  
   
  Now...as for those cigarettes that your beloved smoker leaves out for you "just in case"?  Destroy them.  Now.  Immediately.  I know, I know...most of us would feel like that is such a waste of money!  Save them, right?  Give them back to him?  After all, SOMEONE should use them, right?  Nope.  Not right.  
   
  Get rid of them.  Run them under water.  Stomp on the pack.  Do whatever you need to do to render them unsmokeable.  Is your Quit worth $6 to you?  Of course, it is.  When you look back on this day, you will wonder how you ever considered that $6 was worth the risk of giving up your Quit!  (A wise Giulia once said to me "It would only be a waste of money if you continued to smoke."  Thanks, G, for being so smart!) And if your beloved smoker, who left you this dubious gift, is upset at the "waste", simply remind him not to leave any cigarettes around you!
   
  (Now go look for the "Letter to Loved Ones" blog, coming up next...)
   
  xxxooo,   Sky
SkyGirl

Sky Girl = Broken Record

Posted by SkyGirl Sep 27, 2014

Yes, yes, I know I've reposted this a couple of times already, but it's my two-year anniversary (which I completely forgot until Kathy reminded me!) so I can post anything I want to today!  So there! :)  :)  :)  :)  :)

SKY GIRL = BROKEN RECORD  (originally posted a long time ago...

   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 
   

Hey, guys!  Another smoke-free month under our belts with the end of September fast approaching!  I hope all those new quitters and those about to begin their journey (hi, Andrea!!) take heart when you see that there are lots of us here who started EXACTLY where you guys are right now.  And that we are all standing strong here, leading perfectly wonderful (in truth, BETTER) lives than we did as smokers.  We miss NOTHING about smoking.  You can get to this place, too!  Just stick with EXers.  When you want to lean on a cigarette for emotional support lean on us here instead.  It works!  We promise to be here for you day or night!

Also...I'll be in San Diego by 2pm today until 6 am tomorrow.  Dale, my dear, are you available?  I was thinking perhaps a quick trip to Oceanside for some chilie rellenos might be in order for dinner?????  Do we have any other EXers in San Diego area these days?

And...tomorrow, I have a nice long day in Jackson Hole.  Any EXers around there?

Don't be shy!!!!  I'll check back when I get to SAN, okey doke?

xxxooo,   Sky

SkyGirl

Just checking in...

Posted by SkyGirl Sep 21, 2014

Hi, Everyone!  Just checking in with you all in between flights.  I'll be sitting in Houston between flights for about three hours later today if anyone finds themself at the Houston airport with nothing to do.  Hah!  And I was wondering if we have any EXers in Las Vegas anymore?  I have two more layovers there this month and I'd much rather have lunch or dinner with an EX rather than a one-armed bandit!

To Strudel and Nanawendy:  I have TONS of pictures from our visit and I've put them up on Photobucket.com.  When I get a moment to breathe, I'll do a blog and post them here.  (You two looked ravishing with those Christmas hats on in Tuesday Morning!)

Well, so much for relaxing...the other crew members are waving at me to hurry up.  And, darn it, I had a good story to tell you guys about a smoking incident at a hotel.  It'll have to wait til next blog.

Special "hi" to Ellen (elvan), too.  I am going to find some time to write you a long letter; I need some advice.

xxxooo,   Sky

SkyGirl

The Five "D"s

Posted by SkyGirl Sep 17, 2014

Hi, all!  The Crew Desk has been flying me to death for the last two weeks and I haven't found a moment to blog at all!  But I have been formulating this post in my mind for a while.  Here it is.

THE FIVE "D"s

DETERMINE:  Determine what's going on in your head.  Are you bored? Upset? Sad? (This part of The Five "D"s is similar to "HALT".)  WHY am I thinking that smoking right now is a good idea? What do I think will be improved if I choose to smoke right now?

DELAY:  Delay your response to your craving by making yourself take the time to actually imagine the ramifications of picking up a cigarette right now.  Don't light up right NOW.  Take a little time to consider the whole idea of lighting up at this point.  How many days of freedom will you be giving up?  How will you feel about yourself after you smoke right now?  Just a few minutes of delaying can be the difference between keeping your Quit or throwing away your Quit.  (And, by the way, nobody "loses" their Quit.  No, indeed.  Example: You don't go out to walk your dog and, while you are bending down to pick up your dog's mess, your Quit just turns left and meanders off down the wrong street!  You don't go to the grocery store and, while you are checking out the price of cauliflower, your Quit just wanders away down the canned soup aisle!  Quits don't get "lost"; they get thrown away because you didn't use the tools you have been taught/given that would help you keep your Quit intact during rough moments.)

DISTRACT:  Distract yourself from the sensation of a craving by doing something else for at least ten (10) minutes.  Do ANYTHING that will make your brain think about something other than the craving.  (This doesn't have to be calculus, for heaven's sake!  My favorite distraction was to bite into whole lemons.  My second favorite distraction was to clean my toilets.  No, I don't like cleaning toilets.  I HATE cleaning toilets.  But the smell of the toilet bowl cleaner and the act of scrubbing/flushing was enough to get me through a bad crave.  Find your own favorite distraction.)

DISTANCE:  Distance yourself from temptation.  Remove yourself from your current situation.  At the least, CHANGE your current situation if you can't physically leave the scene of the craving.  (Now, the obvious thing is to NOT HAVE ANY CIGARETTES where you can get your paws on them.  And I'm always surprised at the number of EXers who keep a pack around "just in case".  In case WHAT? But that's an entirely different blog, I guess. Back to how to distance yourself from temptation...  Temptation comes in a lot of different forms for different people.  All you need to know in order to successfully distance yourself is to be able to recognize the danger signs in your thinking.  If you can do that, then you can either RUN AWAY ((that's figuratively for most of us! Hah!)) or immediately FLIP YOUR THINKING around so that you are at least emotionally distancing yourself from the idea of smoking.) 

DECIDE:  Make a conscious decision about what you are going to do.  Am I willing to take on the consequences that smoking right now will create?  Am I being honest with myself about how I will actually FEEL after I smoke right now?  Is smoking right now more important to me that the pride I feel about my x days of freedom? Am I willing to give up all that I have accomplished and gone through to get to where I am today?  (This is the Moment Of Truth in a craving.  You must THINK hard.  You must DECIDE if this is the action you really want to take.  Don't let the nicotine addiction make this decision for you!)

Copy and print out The Five "D"s. Keep it with you in your purse, wallet or pocket.  When you have a craving, take it out and work your way down these five steps.  Make yourself imagine what happens AFTER you give in to this craving.  Don't live in this moment of intense craving.  There are lots of ways to live through this moment of intense craving. It won't be easy, but you can do it.  And think how proud of yourself you will be tomorrow when you look back on today and know that you took personal responsibility for keeping your Quit!  (Especially since you can blog about it and gets lots of cool, encouraging, loving comments!!!) Congratulations!

xxxooo,    Sky