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2016

Hi, Everyone!  It's been almost two weeks since I last found time to sit down and spend some time here on EX.  Time goes by so quickly, doesn't it?  It really seems like the older I get, the faster the world spins!  I've flown every single day since 9/13!  Only two nights in my own bed in Reston, VA.  And NONE at home in Oregon with My Beloved.  I will finally have two days off in a row on October 3-4.  A whole 48 hours!

Anyway...I missed my own 4 year anniversary!.  I can't believe it!  I'd been thinking about it earlier in September but then promptly let the big day pass without a single thought of it.  

I suppose that is good, in a way.  I mean, we quit smoking so that cigarettes won't control our thoughts and actions anymore, right?  So that we can live healthier, happier lives without a nicotine addiction, true?  It's the desire of every single EXer to jettison tobacco and never worry again about when our next cigarette will be, isn't that so?

If those statements are true, then I guess the fact that tobacco occupies my thoughts so little that I would let this big anniversary pass right by me without a thought, really does mean that I've achieved complete freedom!  Yay, me!!

But I never forget that, with one small thinking error, I can become completely addicted all over again.  The brain remembers nicotine.  You can jumpstart your addiction all over again with just one puff.

How do I know, without a doubt, that this is true?  Because I did it to myself.  Here's a quick synopsis of my story:

I smoked from age 15 to age 30.  I had always said I wouldn't smoke as a grown-up.  At age 30, married with four children, I deduced that I must be a grown-up now.  So I quit, with the help of a hospital-sponsored program called "Smoke Stoppers".  It was considered a "bad habit" back then, not an addiction.  It was hard but I did it.  

I did not smoke a single cigarette for TWENTY-THREE YEARS.  Yes, I said 23 years,

  Eight years ago, my smoking sister came to visit me.  One night, as we sat on the patio, drinking wine (first red flag), I asked my sister for one puff of her cigarette "to see if I still liked it" (second red flag).  Surprise, surprise, I DID like that puff.  So I borrowed a whole cigarette (nail in the coffin of my 23-year Quit).  
   
  From that day on, I began smoking a pack a day.  23 years down the drain.  Pfffft!   Gone in a puff of smoke.  Literally.
   
  Thank goodness that I only smoked again for four years before I came to my senses and found EX.  Randomly browsing with no concrete quitting goal in mind, I came across this wonderful site that has saved me from nicotine addiction.  Well, actually, I saved myself with all the information and loving support I found here.
   
  And, here I am now.  Four years smoke-free.  Never again will I forget the power of nicotine and that an addiction can be rekindled with one puff.  I will always stay vigilant.  No cigarette will ever touch my lips for the rest of my life!
   
  xxxooo,   Sky.  (P.S.  Thank you for all the LOVELY anniversary wishes on my message board!!!)

In the first few months of your Quit, try to think of your Quit as a newborn baby.

During the first few days, you are like a brand new parent with your newborn Quit.  You are a little frightened, unsure, worried.  You think you may not be cut out for this. You panic easily.  Your Quit is tiny and helpless.  Your Quit can't make it all on its own yet.  Your Quit needs lots of attention.  You must watch carefully over your Quit.  Your Quit needs you to take good care of it.  Just like a real baby.

So spend a lot of time nurturing your Quit.  Do the things you need to do to make sure your Quit stays healthy.  Spend a lot of time helping your Quit to grow stronger.  Just as you would do for a real baby.  Feed it healthy foods.  Take it for a walk.  Cuddle and coddle it when you first bring it home with you.

You may need to cut back on your usual activities in order to take good care of your little Quit.

Stay away from the places that might harm a newborn Quit.  Don't take your sweet little Quit into bars.  Don't take your precious Quit into the homes of smokers.  You wouldn't take a real baby to these places, would you?  Of course not.

Hang around with other new parents of itty-bitty Quits for support.  Ask for the advice of older parents whose Quits are now toddlers, pre-teens, teenagers.  Listen to their advice; they've already raised good, strong Quits.

Just as in the case of a real newborn baby, your Quit will grow every day.  It will become stronger and smarter.  It will learn to stand on its own without you having to cradle it in your arms all the time.  But not right away.  Right now, give your baby Quit what it needs to thrive.

Maybe someday, as your Quit grows up, instead of constant attention, it will only need a pat on the head or a kiss on the cheek to stay strong and tall. 

It will always need loving attention from you, just like any growing child.  But as it grows up, it won't need your constant hovering devotion.  Just remember to make your Quit always knows how much you love it and how you will always be there for it, no matter how old it gets.

But until then...do all that a parent can, and should, do to protect your precious newborn Quit.

 

xxxooo,    Sky.   (This is a re-post that I first wrote and posted a few years ago)

SkyGirl

9/11

Posted by SkyGirl Sep 12, 2016

Today was the 15th anniversary of the horror of 9/11.   

At United Airlines, which is my airline, eleven flight attendants died that day, on Flights 175 and 93.

Flight 175 was flown into the second tower. 

Flight 93 crashed in Shanksville, PA, but was intended to fly into the White House.

At American Airlines, thirteen flight attendants died on Flights 11 and 77.

Flight 11 was flown into the first tower.

Flight 77 was flown into the Pentagon.

It's always a hard day for me.   And for every other flight attendant.

Those 24 innocent flight attendants died doing the same job that my flying partners and I do every time we fly.

It is always a little hard to go back to work the day after 9/11 each year.

And we are always hyper-vigilant, overly-observant and carefully suspicious on 9/12.  

And 9/13.  And 9/14. And 9/15...  And every single day of the year.

We never forget.  We never will.  But we will always fly.  We will not live in fear.

Pray for peace in the world.

xxxooo,   Sky

It seems like the change in seasons always brings lots of new people to EX. This post is a time-proven help to those Quitters who need their family and friends to better understand the process of quitting nicotine.  This letter has 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.

xxxooo,  Sky

  
     
  
    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 
   
  
     

Happy Labor Day, everyone!  Make sure to protect your Quit during those picnics and barbeques!

I'm off to Sacramento for a nice 19 hour layover today.  I love those one-leg days!  Any EXers in Sacramento?

Tomorrow, I lay over in Denver, but only for 11 hours so no time to consider meeting up with anyone.

Then, the third day is a killer: Denver to Chicago, Chicago to Orlando, Orlando to Newark and finally, Newark to  DC.  Ugh.

Just think, six cities in two & a half days...and not a single cigarette in any of them!  Freedom feels good, even after a few years.

And the payoff for that trip is that I then have eight days off to go home to Cape Meares, Oregon!   Home Sweet Home!

xxxooo,   Sky

A blog posted by robertclark yesterday talked about how he feels like his support from from family and friends has sort of dwindled from how enthusiastic they were in the beginning.  It reminded me of an old blog of mine.  Because that dwindling of enthusiastic support usually happens about the time you enter No Man's Land.  That's one of the reasons that some people give up their Quits during those days.  It's just not that "exciting" to be a Quitter after those first few weeks!  And that's why we encourage EVERYONE to really take care of their Quit, because when the "cheering" dies down can be when it get dangerous to think you've got it licked!  Thank goodness for all the great support you get here.  The cheering on never stops on EX, does it?

Sky

  

 

  
   
    
     

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It's Kind of Like a Brand-New Car!

   

July 26, 2013 by Sky Girl   Comments (10)

   

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Have you ever gotten a brand-new car?  Oh, that feeling as you drive away from the dealership!  You are excited, happy, and a tiny bit apprehensive (oh, golly, what if I scratch it?).

     

As you drive your wonderful new car around during the first few days, you are learning about it: "What does this button do?", "How do I set the clock?", "Is this the cruise control switch?".  It's all so new and different!

     

And, best of all, you are getting so much attention about your shiny, new car!  Everyone wants to talk to you about it: "It's gorgeous! I wish I had a car like that!", "Where can I get a car like that?", "You must be so happy!".

     

After you've driven it for a while, it's not so exciting as it was at first.  Everyone knows you got a new car a few weeks ago.  They are still happy for you, but it's not a hot topic anymore..."How's that new car working out? Oh, good...hey, did you hear that John got fired yesterday?

     

Pretty soon, you start noticing that your car doesn't feel so new anymore.  Maybe you spilled a soda on the seat.  Maybe you tracked some dirt on to the floor mats.  Maybe little Tiffany ate Cheetos in her car seat.  Your car needs some minor maintenance.  You can make the effort to clean up your car...or not.  It still runs fine, right?  So what if it's not quite as nice as it used to be?

     

A few months later, your car salesman sends you an email, reminding you that it's time for some regularly-scheduled maintenance.  Oh, but you are SO busy!  And the car seems to be running just fine.  You ignore the suggestion for maintenance and just keep on driving that car the way you always do.

     

Then...late one night, you find yourself driving on an unfamiliar country road.  You've driven on roads like this before so you aren't really worried.  Piece of cake.

     

But you didn't do the maintenance.  And, while your car seems fine on the surface, things underneath have eroded.  You see a big rock in the road and slam on your brakes!  The brakes FAIL!  Your car hits the rock, spins off the road into a swamp and promptly sinks. Your car is gone.  Gone.

     

And now you have to buy a new car  And start all over again with car payments, probably higher than your first car.  Will you take better care of this car?

     

Okay.  Sad story.  Now, substitute the concept of your brand-new QUIT in place of a brand-new car.

     

And, that is why we are always reminding people to PROTECT YOUR QUIT.  Take care of it, don't neglect it, do the "maintenance", especially after it is no longer new, shiny and exciting!

     

 

     

xxxooo,  Sky

    
    
     
      
             
     
    
   
  

This is what I posted on my Facebook page FOUR YEARS ago tonight.  I got support there, but not nearly the support that I got here on EX.  This site is amazing.  Thank you to everyone who helped me here, both before, during and after my Quit.  I will never smoke again.  And I want to help others feel the same!

 

Ok. I'm taking a deep breath and going public with this:  I am quitting smoking.  I have joined a wonderful organization online called, "Become an Ex", and my Quit Day has been set for September 24.  Prior to that day, I'll be tracking my cigarette smoking, establishing what my triggers are, working to separate triggers from actual smoking times, learning new behaviors and establishing supportive relationships with other people who will be quitting at the same time I quit. One of the preparation steps is to go public with your plan to quit and ask for support from everyone in your life.  Sounds easy, right?  But it's a scary thing to announce it to the world because even though I am DETERMINED to do this, there's this little voice in my ear saying to me "What if you fail?  Everyone will know you failed!" However, failure is not an option.  I smoked from the time I was 16 until I was 30.  Then I quit, by participating in a wonderful program in Ann Arbor, MI, called "Smoke Stoppers".  I quit for TWENTY-THREE YEARS.  I was as dumb as a box of rocks to ever pick up a cigarette after all those years.  I've been smoking again for almost four years, and thinking about quitting the entire time.  And today, the scales tipped;  as of this morning, I want to NOT smoke more than I want to smoke.  So, I am asking for everyone to support me.  I've done it before and I can do it again!