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2017

I looked at my 4-day trip that started on Saturday, 8/26.  And I saw I had a layover in San Diego! Yay!  And then I saw that the layover was a long one.  21 hours!  

 

So I let Dale know and we made plans to get together.  It's been a long time so I was really excited to hang out with Dale.  For the chile rellenos, I mean.  Just kidding, Dale.  (Dale takes me to his cousin's Mexican restaurant every time I visit and we LOVE his chile rellenos and refried beans..)  

 

But Dale tells me that the restaurant will be closed on Sunday while I'm there, so we will have fish tacos from somewhere else.  I try to muster up some excitement for fish tacos.  Which I actually love.  But not compared to Dale's cousin's chile rellenos.  Dale told me the first time that we hung out that those chile rellenos were "as big as your hand!"  They ARE (not counting your fingers, just your palm).

 

So I got to San Diego about 10:30 am.  I changed from my monkey suit into real people clothes.  Then I ran around the corner from the Doubletree to the nail salon that I go to there and had a gel pedicure.  I do have my priorities!  Ladies, you get that, right?

 

Then I rushed another few blocks to the train station and hopped on the Coaster which runs only the 40-mile stretch between San Diego and Oceanside (where Dale lives).  $11 round trip.  It's about an hour and it's such a relaxing ride.  That Coaster train just glides quietly.  (See how I'm talking up San Diego here?  See what I'm doing?  EX6!)

 

Dale is right there waiting when I get off the train in Oceanside and I hop in his truck.  He brought me an ice cold bottle of water.  I think that was really thoughtful!  We decided to eat first because I was starving (c'mon doesn't a good pedicure work up YOUR appetite? Lol).  

 

Then Dale drops THE BEST BOMB ever.  He has CHILE RELLENOS for me at his house!!!  He drove over to his cousin's restaurant the day before and got them To-Go.  This man is brilliant, I say.  Absolutely brilliant.

 

When we get to his house, Dale MAKES fresh guacamole for us and produces the To-Go chips and salsa from the restaurant, too.  I have to admit that I'd never seen anyone make guacamole that delicious while sitting at his desk in front of his computer!  Well, truthfully, I've never see anyone make guacamole at a desk, delicious or not.  And he has a secret ingredient...ask Dale.  Maybe he'll share his recipe.  Maybe.

 

While the chile rellenos and beans baked, we snacked on guac, salsa and chips and gossiped.  Such fun.  And really at no ones expense.  I promise.

 

After lunch, Hoggie deigned to come in his cat door.  Dale has built an amazing maze of walkways all along the back of the house.  Each walkway ends in a different cat-sized "room" which is really a viewing perch for Hoggie to relax and contemplate the Great Outdoors, complete with pillows for Hoggie's comfort.  There's even a room big enough for the covered litter box "room" with a gate that Dale opens to scoop the litter.  Truly ingenious.  I've seen it on other visits, but it never ceases to amaze me.  It's all wooden-framed and covered in chicken-wire, so that Hoggie gets the full outdoors experience without being in any danger from the coyotes that roam the hills near Dale's house (and try to eat cats. Ew.)  That's the reason Dale built it all in the first place--to protect Hoggie.  Anyway, Hoggie decided I was worth coming in for (or maybe it was just the soft bed where he wanted to nap?).  And Hoggie and I had a "moment".  And Dale took a picture.

 

Then we drove around Oceanside, up and down the waterfront.  We people-watched and I talked to him about EX6 and what city would be good and if I could talk him into coming if I couldn't convince everyone to vote for San Diego/Oceanside area. 

 

He promised that we'd get ice cream cones, but we both forgot since we were stuffed with chile rellenos.  Then it was time to drive me back to the train station.  We tried to take some selfies in the parking lot at the train station...and for two old people trying to take pictures with an iPad, we did pretty well.

 

A relaxing ride back down to San Diego, a walk through Little Italy where I bought a bottle of wine and a perfect avocado, some EX time and FB time,  then sleep for about 5 hours, with a van pick-up time at 5am...and off to LAX, then ORD, then MCO.  (That's San Diego to Los Angeles to Chicago to Orlando.)

 

Now here are the pictures:

See, it IS as big as my hand.  And that was the LITTLE one.

The homemade guacamole, the salsa (I should have taken the top off, duh), and the freshly fried (well, yesterday) tortilla chips.  SO good.

Me, posing with my chile relleno.  (Nice expression, Sky...)

Hoggie and I were having a "moment".   He's a good cat.

Dale has this crazy "Free Wi-Fi" sign just above his computer.  No, I don't know WHY.  But it's very cool!

This was one of our first attempts at a selfie.  Is it still a selfie if there's two people?  Shouldn't it be called an "us-ie"?

And this is us, laughing at ourselves trying to take selfies with an iPad.  

 

It was another VERY GOOD ADVENTURE.

Thank you, Dale, for being such a fun guy to hang with!

SkyGirl

SkyGirl = Broken Record

Posted by SkyGirl Aug 29, 2017

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

Flying....

Posted by SkyGirl Aug 26, 2017

Nancy Balch Roberts shared A Fly Guy's... - Nancy Balch Roberts | Facebook 

 

I wish I worked for Virgin Atlantic, 

 

Not really...but I DO wish United made such great videos.

This is for EVERYONE who has somehow found your way to EX and is reading this now.  

 

(I actually posted something similar in response to a good friend's blog, but I am immodest enough to think it might make, with some additions, a good stand-alone blog.  Gotta learn to check my Inner Author, right?  Too late now, right?)

 

Here's my thinking tonight.  I love all of you here on EX.  ALL of you.  I am no saint, but I think my parents taught me well about caring about other people.  Please read this.

 

I love the Elders.  Their experience, their knowledge about what works, their dedication, their wit (and bad jokes), their warmth and caring deserves to be acknowledged.  I do so now, with gratitude.  And thank them for allowing me to stay here, as an Elder now myself, and pass on all the knowledge I have gained.  The act of passing it on is known, thanks to Elder Tommy, as "Collateral Kindness".  This site WORKS because of it.

 

 I love the wonderful people that I've known for years here on EX and who I consider the folks in my "graduating class" as Quitters.  I am friends now in the real world with many of you, and I plan to find more ways to be face-to-face with many of you.  Our friendships MATTER to me.  But those great friendships are NOT what keep us from smoking.  We do that for OURSELVES.  Because we have learned to value what freedom from nicotine addiction has done to improve our lives.

 

I love the folks that I met when I was just a few months into my Quit.  I wanted so desperately for them to succeed.  I feel Iike a big sister and a good close friend to those who quit shortly after I did.  And I have learned MUCH from those people who came after me!  That would be YOU, Ellen.  Among many others.  And if any of us have somehow missed getting to know each other...don't let that stop us from reaching out to each other NOW.  It's never, ever, too late to make that connection with someone else here on EX.  Let's break down any hesitation we both might feel, okay? 

 

I love the people who come here...and come here... and come here....and KEEP coming here.  Because if you care enough to KEEP coming here---then, someday, you WILL "get it" and I want to already know you and to be here to cheer you on as you cross that finish line called The Forever Quit.  Multiple quits only mean that you don't know HOW to successfully quit yet.  EX is where you will learn how.  We will help you figure it all out.

 

I love the Newbies. I really, really, really do. And it's sometimes very hard to single them out and get to know them because SO many people join and just post once or twice in the blogs, or in a newbie group or somewhere else on this site.   Most of them don't post much information about themselves in their profiles at first.  So we hardly know their real names, or anything personal about them, unless we ask.  And sometimes they leave or give up because we can't get to them quickly enough to create a BOND, a RELATIONSHIP, something that makes them know this is a REAL place with REAL people who give a really big damn about helping them quit smoking.  

 

The Newbies that give up before we can find them, make friends with them, show them that we care, teach them what we know from experience, and keep holding them in our arms until they succeed...  God, my heart breaks for those that we lose...but those are the people that actually KEEP me here on EX.  

 

Yes, I do come and go, and come and go, here on EX.  There are wonderful Elders here on EX who are the solid rocks of this website.  All of you know who I'm talking about.  And I would give ANYTHING to be one of those people.  But I can't be here as much as I want to right now.  My life, like many of us, requires that I work at a job that keeps me away from EX when I want so much to be here, involved all day, with all of you, and contribute to the people here in much greater ways.  Someday, I WILL be able to do that.  Until then, I will be here on EX as often as I can be, hoping to post something that catches someone's heart and makes a difference.  And loving every minute that I can help someone...

 

But I don't love any of you because of how you RANK on those darn Leaderboards.  I don't care about how many points or badges you have.  I don't really even understand how all the Missions and Quests work to make a person more "important" here on Ex.

 

I love each of you differently because of how I've gotten to KNOW you, how you and I have CONNECTED regardless of the so-called system on this site, because of the way we support each other, we laugh, we make jokes and we keep talking to each other here, day after day.  Let's go ahead and watch all those crazy points add up, like we have for the last few threads.   But let's also realize that POINTS don't really mean anything.  

 

Let's acknowledge that what really matters here is EACH OTHER.  We meet, we learn about each other and we CARE. 

 

THAT is how we quit.

 

And I LOVE that. 

 

xxxooo,   Sky

This is a long blog.  I hope that, when you are done reading it, you will believe that you CAN quit smoking. (Because you CAN, and if you don't believe that---please post a simple blog here on this site.   And we'll talk about how you feel.

 

Look at the picture I've posted as the banner on this blog...  It's a key.  Sitting on a keyboard. 

 

Can the key to quitting smoking actually be found through a KEYBOARD?

 

Yes, it can.  Set your skepticism aside and please listen to me for a minute.  Or two.

 

You may have come seriously looking for an online stop-smoking site.  

 

You may have stumbled into this site randomly while thinking you want to quit at some time in the foreseeable future.

 

You might just be a smoker who went down a rabbit hole without any real commitment to the idea of quitting.

 

Or...you might just want to see what kind of sheep think that following other sheep actually makes anyone stop smoking.

 

I am not a sheep.  I have never thought of myself as being someone who puts their trust in "programs", whether it be to  eat healthier, feel more positive, exercise more regularly, read books, raise better children, find a more rewarding job, learn to forgive, be more assertive...oh, sheesh, I could go on forever because there is ALWAYS a group for SOMETHING to help you improve your life, right?

 

But when I found EX, I found something I NEVER expected.  I completely realize that I'm starting to sound like an infomercial...  So please hang in here with me!

 

I did go looking for an online way to quit smoking.  I just wanted to see what was out there.  I clicked on a site called becomeanex.org.  It's easier to call it "EX" so that is what I (and many others) call it now.

 

I came to EX because I wanted to see what I would feel if I thought seriously about quitting smoking. Not for just a while. FOREVER. I wasn't sure I was ready. I wasn't sure I had what it would take... I wasn't even sure that I did WANT to quit.

 

Being a smoker was part of my identity.  It was who I WAS.  My life was arranged around when I could smoke, where I could smoke, how many cigarettes I had left, where I could buy another pack...(I KNOW this sounds familiar to many of you!). I didn't WANT to admit it to myself, but it was true.  My life revolved around smoking.  I made choices about how and where I would spend my time based on my smoking.


But I came to EX and I read blogs.  I introduced myself to the EX community as someone who wasn't really sure they wanted to be on this website...because I didn't know for sure that I wanted to quit.  I thought I really loved smoking and that I got benefits from smoking; calmness, relaxation, stress-relief, comfort.  Yup,  I really thought that smoking helped me cope with the stuff in my life.  So I completely get you if you feel that way now as you are reading this.

 

BUT...and here was the game-changer  (for me AND for anyone new who is just reading this):

 

I opened my mind... I LISTENED. I did not judge (which was hard because, as smokers, we really think that we are smarter and cooler than everyone else).  I made an effort to read what was recommended by successful Quitters, even if I thought it sounded stupid and elementary.  I got involved with the people on EX.  I blogged here on EX and I made connections with other members; the Newbies like me, the halfway-to-success Quitters, the "Woohoo, I feel successful now!" Quitters and the longtime solid Quitters.  There was something to learn from every single person I met here on EX.  And when I disagreed, it was completely okay to say that.  Because one of the most important things that we say here is "Take what you need and leave the rest".  There is no perfect, magic, absolute way to quit that works for everyone.  Each person's journey to Freedom from nicotine is made up of the various things they find here on EX that work for them.

 

I accepted the possibility that I COULD quit smoking  and eventually be really happy about it and not miss my cigarettes.  I connected with people whose blogs resonated with me.  And I figured out MY key for success.  And I was never alone here.

 

And here is the most important thing about quitting smoking that I never understood or accepted before...

 

NICOTINE IS A DRUG ADDICTION.  It is a drug that takes over, and physically changes, the neural pathways and dopamine receptors in your brain.  It's an addiction as strong as heroin.  And that's PROVEN by science.  Go to a website called "whyquit.com" and look for a link to an article called "Nicotine Addiction 101".  It's on the left side of the homepage and has a little twirling yellow cube next to it.  It's not a quick easy read, but if you put the time into reading it, you will be astounded at the way nicotine can take over the way your brain thinks.

 

It's not a "bad habit".  It's an addiction. But you can beat it, like so many of us EXers here on this site did.  

 

In short, here's how I won my battle with nicotine:

 

I recognized that many of the people here on EX had already achieved the exact thing that I wanted to achieve.  My desire was to happily livie a life without nicotine.

 

So I read what they told me to read. I read Allen Carr's book ("The Easy Way to Stop Smoking").  It's not "easy" to quit...but this short book will teach you how to stop looking at quitting as "losing" something, "giving up" something, "sacrificing" something, "doing without" something.  It will help you turn your thinking around so that you see quitting as FREEDOM from smoking.

 

I did the Tracking and the Delaying exercises. I went to the other sites that were recommended. I was seriously skeptical and unsure about it, but I DID all the things that all these successful EXers told me to do.

 

And I set a date. A Quit Date. A day that I would do whatever it took to start living my life without being a slave to my nicotine addiction.

 

I was a STUDENT and I learned how I could stop being a nicotine addict. I spent a LOT of time here on EX and got to know people and accepted the support and friendship they were so happy to give to me.

 

It was like a lightbulb went on in my head on the day that I GOT it. Poof!

 

I understood COMMITMENT instead of "trying", "attempting", "hoping".

 

I understood taking PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY instead of wishing for "luck", and blaming "stress", "weakness" or "being around smokers".

 

I understood seeing quitting as FREEDOM instead of seeing it as "sacrifice", "giving up", "suffering through" or "losing" something.

 

I understood that the feeling of so-called "enjoyment" and "need" was no more than my physical addiction calling out to me...and that I didn't have to listen to it!

 

When I quit, it wasn't "EASY". Sorry, Allen Carr, it wasn't. But I had a whole new way of thinking about it and that made it easiER.

 

I've been here for a while now. I have almost five years of freedom from nicotine. I still can't belive it's been that long when I see it in writing.  But, to all the new people who have just found this site, don't you think, for ONE minute, that I have forgotten what it feels like to be addicted and to find my way out of that addiction with the help of other EXers who helped me to educate myself about addiction and who supported me through ALL ups and downs and doubts and anger and fear about what life would be like without nicotine.  No successful Quitter ever forgets.  That's why we stay here to help other people who come to EX.

 

Yes, I have freedom from cigarettes now.  But I have more than that. I have the knowledge, the understanding, the thinking, the confidence and the TOOLS to know that I will never ever smoke again.

 

And I have all that because I LISTENED to the people here and I FOLLOWED their advice.

 

So, to all the new folks here, know this:  Your addiction to nicotine is no stronger nor harder to beat than our addiction was. You CAN quit. If we could do it, so can YOU.

 

Leave all your assumptions at the door. Be a student here on EX. You won't ever regret it. We promise.

 

XXXOOO, Sky.   (Sorry for any typos; feeling sleep-deprived after flying for three days...)

Dear Cigarettes,

You were the worst boyfriend I ever had. All my friends told me you were bad for me, but I thought I needed you.
You were clingy and nasty. I couldn't go ANYWHERE without you. You always smelled bad and people could certainly tell when I'd been with you.
When we were together, my priorities were all messed up; if you weren't welcome somewhere, then I didn't go there. You even made me stop doing things I loved to do, like hike, bicycle and exercise.
When I broke up with you, it was very hard because I thought I still loved you. But the longer we are apart, the more I know that dumping you was the best decision of my life. So don't even THINK that we could ever get back together.
And stay away from my friends, too, you lying jerk!

Goodbye forever,

SkyGirl

 

Newbies!  Listen up!  And BELIEVE that quitting is NOT impossible if you understand how nicotine addiction works... 

 

Here are some basic truths.  So pay attention.  For a few minutes, just set your beliefs about smoking aside. And hear this.

 

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

 

7) 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.


8) 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

You Can Get Through Day 3!

Posted by SkyGirl Aug 2, 2017

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 Day 1 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. When 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.  And that IS good.  


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.  And so the healing begins.


But your brain receptors and neural pathways have memory.  Your brain 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 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

I want the waist that my avatar has.  Just sayin'

 

Sky