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Denver, anyone?

Posted by SkyGirl Jun 27, 2017

Hey, I arrive in Denver about midnight tomorrow (Tuesday).  I layover for the entire day on Wednesday in Denver before flying out to Vegas at 6:45 pm, and then the red-eye to DC, arriving at 6am.


Are there any EXers in Denver that would like to meet for a late brunch, lunch or an early dinner?  I LOVE meeting new Quitters in person!  I'll be in a hotel near DEN.  If you are interested (EX photo op!), message me here on EX.


xxxooo, Sky

Good morning, EXers!  I'm just checking in today to see how everyone is doing.  The title of this blog describes my life since EX5.  I'm getting about 5 hours of sleep a night and flying three or even four flights a day.  There has hardly been time to brush my teeth, much less write a blog!  Summertime is always a crazy time for the airlines.  Just wanted to say "hello, I'm still alive and hope to spend more time here soon."


Wow, shortest blog I've ever written.


xxxooo, Sky


If you don't HAVE any...

Posted by SkyGirl Jun 19, 2017

I had a sort of epiphany. 

I DO sincerely believe that any person who truly wants to quit will have a huge advantage when they begin their Quit if they understand EXACTLY how nicotine affects the brain. When you have learned how nicotine actually PHYSICALLY alters the way that your brain receptors work (which makes you falsely believe that you "enjoy" smoking) you will have a whole new way of seeing smoking.

If you have any doubts about how the chemical nicotine gets into your brain and makes you believe that you love smoking, please go to and read the article at the top left side of the page called "Nicotine Addiction 101". It should rock your thinking.

But...didn't I say something about an epiphany...?

Yes, I did.  It wasn't recently.  It was the day I realized that I could could live a perfectly happy life without smoking.  Now, maybe it doesn't qualify as a real epiphany...because it's a concept that you might already know as "N.O.P.E", which means "Not One Puff Ever". Perhaps the so-called epiphany (Gosh, I love that word!!!) is more about HOW you go about living "not one puff ever".

Here's how: Get rid of ALL your cigarettes. And I mean every single cigarette that you might be able to access during a craving. Do not have any cigarettes in your house, your car, your office, your pocket, your kitchen drawer, your purse, your tote bag. Do not keep ANY "emergency" cigarettes "just in case". Just in case WHAT? In case you change your mind? In case it gets too difficult? In case you have a really strong craving? In case you feel stressed?

If there are NO cigarettes available to you, you won't smoke.


At least, you won't smoke UNLESS you get in a car, drive to a store, ask for cigarettes, pay for cigarettes, open the pack, put one in your mouth, find a lighter, ignite the cigarette and then inhale the smoke.

That last sentence does not describe a "slip".  A "slip" is an ACCIDENT.  It's something that happens TO you.  You "slip" on a patch of ice.  You "slip" when the floor is still wet.  Your car "slips" when the road is icy.   You  "slip" when something is beyond your control.


Many people here on EX talk about "slipping".  But was smoking a cigarette something that happened TO you?  Something beyond your control or your responsibility?  No, it was not.


I realize that people here on EX will continue to use the word "slip" to describe a lost Quit.  But please make sure that you understand that you are actually describing a conscious decision to acquire some nicotine and put it into your body.


So I guess what I'm saying is this: if you don't HAVE a cigarette, you can't smoke one.

I speak from experience. I know full well that, during the first few weeks of my Quit, if I'd been able to find a cigarette in my coat pocket or the bottom of my purse, get one from a nearby friend or from a pack I kept "just in case", I probably would have smoked it.


But I didn't...because when I thought I couldn't last another minute without a cigarette, I DID last without a cigarette.  Because I made sure that cigarettes were unavailable to me.

It's so important to get rid of all cigarettes, ashtrays and lighters when you quit.  If you don't, you are leaving the door open to smoking again.  


Close that door.


xxxooo,   Sky



Posted by SkyGirl Jun 12, 2017

I was writing a comment on someone's blog today and the concept of hindsight came to mind.


The definition of hindsight is "recognition of the realities, possibilities, or requirements of a situation, event, decision etc., after its occurrence".  The key word here is "AFTER".  We only TRULY understood what we were doing to ourselves AFTER we had done it.


It's pretty ironic to realize that every single person here on EX who has a successful Quit also has 20/20 hindsight.


 Why didn't we accept the knowledge of what we were doing to ourselves when we picked up our first cigarette?


 Where was all that realization of the damage we were causing to our brains and our bodies when we started to smoke years ago?


Why didn't we see that strangling cough as we inhaled for the first time as a harbinger of the health problems to come?


Who knows...


So the best thing that we EXers can do now, since we have only hindsight for ourselves, is to try to help other smokers develop some foresight.


The definition of "foresight" is "1) care or provision for the future; provident care; prudence. 2) knowledge or insight gained by or as by looking forward; a view of the future".


If we can help just one person stop smoking before they cause irreversible damage to themselves, then we are doing good work here on EX.  (And THAT, my friends, was the theme of EX5: "The Starfish Story".  Thank you, @Strudel!)


In closing, here is some Food for Thought:  Here's an excerpt from the famous book "The Remains of the Day" by Kazuo Ishiguro:


"Rather, it was as though one had available a never-ending number of days, months, years in which to sort out the vagaries of one's relationship with Miss Kenton; an infinite number of further opportunities in which to remedy the effect of this or that misunderstanding. There was surely nothing to indicate at the time that such evidently small incidents would render whole dreams forever irredeemable."


Did you read it?  Now read it again, but replace the words "Miss Kenton" and "misunderstanding" with these words: "cigarettes" and "illness".  


Makes you think, doesn't it?  Let's continue to use our hindsight to help smokers develop foresight and save themselves.


xxxooo,  Sky

Just a few quick (but VITAL) reminders for anyone who is struggling with their Quit...


You know your life will improve without your nicotine addiction.


You know that you'll love having that extra money that you used to spend on cigarettes.


You know that all the people who love you will be so proud and happy that you have quit smoking.


You know that you will be getting back all that time that you used to spend away from whatever event was going on while you were going off to smoke.


You know that educating yourself about nicotine addiction will help insure your success.


You know that the words "try", "attempt", "hope" don't belong in your thinking anymore.


You know that, from the first minute you post a blog here on EX, that we will rush to welcome you, support you and help you find the ways that best help you to find your Forever Quit.


So, bring on your nicotine addiction, Newbies and Lurkers!  Because we can show you how WE quit and how YOU can also quit forever.


Smoking sucks.  (Even if you still think you love it.  Which you don't.  Ask us; we will tell you why your brain is telling you that you love smoking and need it to stay calm and beat the daily stresses in your life.  We will direct you to articles about how nicotine addiction hijacks your brain...)


"Loving" and  "Needing" cigarettes can be a thing of the past.  It's important to know that.  You CAN go on to a life without cigarettes.  I know this because I did it.  All the Elders here on EX have also done it, along with all the other Quitters in various stages of quitting.


And we aren't missing a damn thing.  I never believed that could be true.  Until I quit.


You CAN feel that way, too.  Because YOUR addiction to nicotine is no stronger nor harder to beat than OUR addiction was.   (Now, go back and read that last sentence again and let it sink in...)  


If we can quit cigarettes that, at one time, we thought that we "needed" in order to survive, we can help you to find your Quit.


Lean on us here at EX.


xxxooo,  Sky

That's the big question most of us had when we were on the cusp of quitting.  Smoking DEFINED us.  


The world was divided into two categories: Smokers and Non-smokers.  And we were about to jump the fence to the other side...  We didn't know who we would BE without cigarettes in our lives.   It's who we ARE, right?


Smoking was something we did every day, every few hours, sometimes every hour.  Heck, sometimes we just sat and chainsmoked mindlessly, without really even thinking about it...other than to worry about the dwindling number of cigarettes in our pack.


Smoking was something we planned our schedule around: When is my break?  How long is this meeting going to last? Do I have enough cigarettes to last me until I get out of work?  Do I have enough time to step out in back to smoke before the pasta is done?  I'll light up as soon as I drop off the kids.  Sound familiar?


And when we tried to imagine a life without cigarettes, we really couldn't.  Life would be empty.  Life wouldn't have any breaks to relax.  Life would require our attention every single minute of the day with no respite.  Life wouldn't have any "rewards" for handling the hard parts of our lives...  It sounded to us like life without smoke breaks would just suck....  I'll ask again:  Sound familiar?


Honestly, we could not envision WHO we would be if we didn't smoke anymore.  We felt a sense of loss and emptiness.  We thought, "But who AM I if I don't smoke" and "I can't imagine myself as a non-smoker".


And then we QUIT. 


Those first three days completely sucked as our bodies became free of the chemical nicotine.  And those first couple of weeks we thought about cigarettes a lot (okay, ALL THE TIME).  Life during those days was about making it through another minute, another hour, another day, another night without smoking.  We spent all our time using the tools in that Toolbox.  I know I bit a lot of lemons during those days.  


Here's how it happened for ME:


Everyone kept telling me it would get easier every day.  I didn't feel like it was getting easier.  But it WAS getting easier, despite my perceptions.  Slowly, I realized that I wasn't pacing around my hotel rooms like a caged animal.  I wasn't asking the front desk people where the smoking area was.  I was able to go a few hours without thinking about a cigarette.  I could drive without missing a cigarette between my fingers and tapping that ash out the cracked window. 


I counted each and every day like they were pearls on a necklace.  I came here to EX every single day to say how many days I had under my belt.  I blogged every single day about how I felt; if it was a bad day, a not-so-bad-day, a bad day, a pull-my-hair-out day.  And I got feedback.  Other Quitters commented and messaged me.  I received encouragement and suggestions to help.   I made friends.  I gave encouragement to others.  I persevered.


And, lo and behold, it DID get easier.  And I found out who I was without cigarettes.  I found my NEW NORMAL.  It took a while, but I wear my new normal with joy now.  It's comfortable now.   In fact, non-smoking IS my normal now.   I LIKE who I am without cigarettes.  And I wonder how I EVER thought that I "needed" cigarettes in my life.  I could NOT imagine that I would ever feel that way.  


And it will get easier for YOU, too.  Hang in there.  You will also find your own NEW NORMAL.  It will take a while before you feel like your new normal fits you comfortably.  But you will find out who you are without cigarettes in your mouth all the time.


And you will LOVE that person.  We promise.


xxxooo,  Sky

You know how we are always talking about having the "tools" to help us when we are quitting? We talk about using our "tools" to make it through a craving. We talk about using the "tools" we've been given to protect our Quit. Let's talk about these tools.

It would be great if you could walk into a hardware store and say, "I'd like to buy some Quit Smoking tools, please." You can't. But if you's what you'd walk out of the store with:

1) Education: This would be articles, books, websites where you can learn about nicotine addiction. The tool of Education will be key in helping you learn that you CAN quit smoking and never smoke again. You will use this tool before you quit to get yourself ready and keep using it after you quit to keep you strong. This tool gives you knowledge and helps you benefit from the experience of others. Example: "The Easy Way to Stop Smoking" by Allen Carr and (my personal favorite) "Nicotine Addiction 101" on

2) Distractions: You should have plenty of suggestions and ideas from other people here on EX about ways to distract yourself if you need ways to redirect your brain when you can't seem to stop thinking about smoking or when a craving hits you. There are two types of distractions: Activities that will distract your hands/thoughts (examples: scrub your toilet, weed your garden, redo your nail polish, organize your tackle box, dance for an entire ABBA song, browse around on eBay, etc.) and Flavors/tastes that will surprise (or shock!) your tastebuds and sense of smell (examples: a spoonful of peanut butter, a drop of Tabasco, a shake of cocoa powder, blue cheese crumbles, a squirt of pancake syrup, a whiff of curry powder, Fruit Loops one at a time, Red-Hot candies, etc.) Make a physical list, written or typed, and keep it with you at all times.

3) Human Support: Online (like EX) or in person (family, co-workers, friends) can be some of the best tools you have during the first few weeks of your Quit. Obviously, it doesn't help to lean on someone who still smokes. Never-Ever Smokers can't understand what you are going through, BUT they can be your biggest face-to-face cheerleaders. Don't forget to educate Never-Evers before your Quit Date, using the "Letter to My Loved Ones". You can find this letter here on EX by doing a search for it. Many quitters have said it made a world of difference in the way their friends and family were able to understand and support them. EX is, of course, an invaluable support tool. I don't think I need to elaborate on why EX is so amazing, do I?

4) Common Sense: Your tool box should be chock full of common sense. Your common sense will tell you about things to do, things not to do, things that will help you, things that will hurt you, things to stay close to, things to stay away from. This tool is different from the knowledge you got from Education (#1 above) because it requires you to be creative and think for yourself within the details of your own life. It's that little angel/devil on your shoulder thing, right? Oh, wait. That's called "Conscience". Well, that's a good tool, too. But be careful of Conscience because that can cause a very UNhelpful thing called "guilt", which has NO PLACE in the tool box.

5) A Bottle of Water and A Big Yellow Lemon in a Baggie: Okay, okay, these both actually fall under Distractions (#2 above). But they are SO basic (the water) and SO effective (the lemon) that I felt they deserved the separate category of "Honorable Mention Tools". If you feel like you are losing control at any time during your Quit, take a big slug of water from the bottle. It's easy, it's available and it takes no great thought. Sometimes a few big swallows of water is all it takes to get you back on track. Or...take a deep breath and bite into that lemon, peel and all. It is not pleasurable. But it is a Hall of Fame Crave Buster. You will NOT want a cigarette after biting that lemon. I promise. (The baggie is so you can carry it with you. I got some very odd looks when I took out my lemon and bit it in airports! But...I don't smoke anymore, do I?)

6) Patience: Quitting doesn't happen in a day or a week or even a few weeks. As Youngatheart (Nancy) has said many times "Quitting is not an event; it's a journey.". It doesn't happen all at once and the road can be rocky, at times. Sometimes, all the best tools in your Tool Box aren't doing the trick. That's when you need this tool : PATIENCE. Thomas recently posted a blog about riding out cravings, experiencing the feelings, acknowledging the difficulty, not trying to fight it, and waiting for the urge to ebb away like a wave. It was a brilliant blog; go read it. Sometimes, you just have to be PATIENT.

So, Quitters, go check your toolboxes! Are you missing any of these tools? And if you have counted "Willpower" as a tool, forget it. Pitch it out. It won't help you find a Fovever Quit and it's not a real tool at all! Instead of "Willpower", use Education.

xxxooo, Sky