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Thomas3.20.2010 Blog

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Drop the Rope!

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Jun 20, 2019

I learned this phrase from Al-Anon by several sources. It means that when you're in a tug-of-war with somebody else or even yourself you have the right and choice to just drop the rope and walk away!!!

I find that very helpful for Nicotine Recovery as well. It doesn't mean that I give up! It means I choose not to engage with my Nicotine thoughts. I have better things to do with my brain. 

Hopefully somebody else will find this simple idea useful as well!



You're This Close!

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Jun 20, 2019

You are simply this minute away from Success! Every minute you keep from smoking you are finding your Recovery. So if this is Day One - Congratulations. If this is Day 100 Congratulations!. You have succeeded in giving your mind, body, spirit another chance to break Free from Addiction. Keep up the Great Job and watch those Days add up to weeks, Months, and yes, even Years! You will get so much more than you can imagine - you'll grow and mature in ways you can't believe. It will be hard but everything worth doing really is hard - but it is also simple: Not One Puff Ever!

Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. – Thomas Edison

Image result for Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. – Thomas Edison




Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Jun 12, 2019

I went to the Hospital for an exacerbation that turned out to be pneumonia and from there to the Mental Hospital for a Major Depressive Disorder. I haven't seen my home or grandkids in weeks. Nor have I been able to work. 


Next question, just how much lung capacity will I permanently lose this time?


Only time will tell. This gets old and yet decline upon decline is my new normal. If you recall the last bout was in March and I never really recovered from that one when this little gift in humility came along.


I do not smoke. I haven't smoked for over 9 Years but I will continue to suffer from multiple chronic progressive diseases that are smoking related. Fact.


My recommendation to you - breathe, run if you can, exercise (just about everybody can find exercise that will work for you, eat healthy unprocessed foods, take your meds and most important of all - pray to whatever higher power you know lives in your soul. 


But nothing, and I mean nothing at all, will help you live quality - let alone quantity of life unless you quit smoking! Do it for you, Do it for your Family. Do it for your Higher Power. Just do it - Whatever it takes - Today!




Mindful Recovery

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 May 18, 2019

Mindfulness has been around for centuries but lately you hear of it in any number of applications from chronic pain to work habits. Mindfulness is simply put, paying attention without judgment. You don't have to stop what you're doing to mindfully do it. Pay Attention Here's an article about mindfulness and it's success in breaking through the habits associated with smoking: What do you have to lose? Pay attention, honor your decisions, learn new Smoke-Free habits. You can do this!



We Are Family!

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 May 6, 2019

If you've just been here over the last month, you may not know who I am. But I know each of you - you are part of our beautiful Family of EXers! We are incredibly diverse and inclusive. We love you already for making one of the toughest and most rewarding decisions of your life and we're here in the ebb and flow of attention to spread the word of freedom from addiction and the amazing road of Recovery - Self-Discovery and sharing our deepest Selves with the Community. I have often said over these last 9 Years smoke-free that you folks here know me better than my best 3D Family and Friends. It's true. There's a soul searching reality about recovery. 


We often speak of Grief which is a huge part of Recovery and the part we wish we could run from or skip over the most. But please remember that the last step of Grief is Acceptance - of God, of Life, of Ourselves. When we get there we embrace all that is good and right about living. 


Do you think I'm being too rosy? Then you don't yet know me. I have great bouts of depression and anxiety. I'm sailing along and out of nowhere fall off this giant abyss into a deep black cavern! But I don't relinquish my responsibility to smoke-free Life! I go on baby step by step and sometimes crawl by crawl back into the light always protecting my Recovery because there is one Law for us here - The Law of Addiction!

"Administration of a drug to an addict will cause
re-establishment of chemical dependence
upon the addictive substance."

This single truth is what we share. It gives us the ability to find ourselves in the Freedom from Addiction because in the midst of our grief we live and breathe:





I know it may be hard to believe that it's that simple but ask any Elder (with more than 365 days smoke-free) and you will find a thousand different ways of saying the same thing!


We so much desire for you to know this feeling of belonging whether Life is easy or hard, simple or complex, shallow or deep, ...whatever terms Life has for us we belong - you belong! Make yourself at home! Don't be afraid to tell us the good, the bad, and the ugly because we're here for you through all of it. You are - We are - Family!




Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Apr 13, 2019

Bad news - I have a tumor

Good news - the tumor isn't malignant

Bad news - I still have headaches which is why they did the ct-scan that found the tumor

More bad news - the headaches are caused by degeneration in my spine caused by years of steroids

Good news- I am getting physical therapy and other supports in place to help me with adls

Bad news - I missed a dangerous number of days of work in March

Good news - I got my FMLA to cover my absences

More good news - I got the promotion I've been working for

Life is a rollercoaster whether we smoke or not. If I were thinking addictively, I could use all of these ups and downs to keep smoking or even to relapse but I won't -

- I don't do that any more! I will just fasten my seatbelt because this sure is a bumpy ride!

Image result for roller coaster gif

We all have a choice - not what happens to us but what we respond to. I respond with hope for a good minute (a good day is too long!) My head aches but I'm officially a CAE3! That's a very big deal!

Good and bad things can live side by side - you get to choose what's more important.

Smoking isn't a part of the equation!

When the compelling thoughts of addiction pound away at you day and night - it's easy in that moment to give in. That's why you prepare for those moments and make it hard for yourself. Once you've given in, you find out that now it's harder to not give in! The thoughts of why it's OK are still in your head. "Now is not the time." "I'm just too stressed out right now." "There's too much going on in my life right now." Maybe tomorrow - or next week- or next Month - or.....never! The door is open for doubts, second guessing, excuses to sneak in. Next time it will be even harder!


But a successful recovery journey has to stop the cycle of quit-relapse-give in-give up-rebuild-quit-relapse...

We have to make up our minds that Now is the only time that counts - right now! Every now until we have days, and then weeks, and then yes, Months - even Years - a forever quit going! No excuses, no exceptions, no room to wiggle out. "I will not smoke for any reason no matter what!" I respect myself enough to honor my final decision to enter and stay unconditionally in recovery! 


It's hard but each moment you go back to your promise, each day that you meet, each week under  your belt, each Month and Year becomes easier. If you give in you still have the hard part in front of you and there is never  a better time than right now! 


That's where mindfulness comes in - all those right nows of keeping your sacred promise make a true recovery full of discipline and of relief, of effort and of accomplishment, of grief and of pride and self-respect!


"I kept my promise to myself! I deserve self-care! I accomplished something very challenging! Me- I did that - I am doing that because I love and respect my Life!"


Whether you have one minute - or one decade - celebrate your recovery - your accomplishment! Keep moving forward minute by minute and never, ever give in or give up!

The only way out is through!


MRI and other News

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Mar 27, 2019

Yesterday was a big day for me.

I had my first MRI on my brain tumor but I also had my first day with my portable oxygen concentrator. I worked a full shift with no heavy tanks and no regulators that broke. I can't tell you how much of a relief it is to pick up my 4 lb poc and go! 

MRIs are not fun but they are doable. I have the ability to bring myself to another space in my mind and the noise was barely noticed. Before I knew it - it was over.

Today I go back to exercise, back to AlAnon and I will remember Leonard Nimoy's 88th Birthday! It's bound to be a great day! 

Remembering Leonard Nimoy On His 88th Birthday | TREKNEWS.NET 

When you quit smoking you create a new lifestyle. My Family, my Friends, my Self Care are all activities I put aside for Sickerettes. Now I have time for all of it!


Image result for inogen one g3



Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Mar 24, 2019

Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.

– George Bernard Shaw

Brain Tumor

- enough to scare the bejeepers out of ya! And it almost did! I got the news on Monday and Tuesday I called in sick. There was a huge blizzard that day. And that squirrel cage ran away with me. I was seriously considering make it quick - why drag it out?

 But I thought I'd call my psychiatrist first. You know how Tommy refers to lifelines? He's not joking! Well, the psychiatrist wasn't in because of the blizzard so my call was redirected to the mental hospital and the intake therapist gave me no choice - she sent the police to do a wellness check. Cops show up - handcuff me because I was "detained" and said I was on a 72 hour psych hold - no choice.

Come to find out that the brain tumor may or may not be benign - only an MRI can tell for sure. Also go figure, the headaches weren't caused by the tumor - most likely - just stress. If the tumor is benign it can easily be removed because it's in the meningus of the brain. I know, sounds like meningitus, right? And they are related - just not in my case. I have a meningeoma. So think of meningus as a membrane of the brain - a coating. These tumors are often slow growing and 90% of them are benign. The point is nobody knows what the heck kind of tumor I have yet. 

So I'm glad I stopped and thought just long enough to reach out for help instead of jumping to conclusions.


It reminded me of when I was contemplating smoking cessation. I jumped to the conclusion that I would be in withdrawal for the rest of my life. I thought I would always wish for a Sickerette and have to deny myself the "pleasure" of smoking. I wondered if life without nicotine would be worth living. I jumped to conclusions. 


When I got to BecomeanEX I found out that folks who had just quit felt much like I did and that the folks who had a little time under their belt - say 3-4 Months felt quite different. People who had Years of Recovery didn't even seem to miss smoking at all! So I asked myself "what can I do differently to help me get to the 3-4 Month mark? It seems like an eternity to a newbie. But then I had smoked for 20 Years so in comparison - it's a sure miracle that we can heal so much in 4 months. 


There's a big difference between "not smoking" and nicotine recovery. When I was not smoking I felt victimized, deprived, martyred, I gave myself permission to feel sorry for myself.  But my last and forever quit I got more information and realized that I am releasing a damaging past behavior so that I can embrace a healthy new behavior. Like a monkey swinging on the tree branches - he lets go of the branch he has in order to grab the branch in front of him. Years of practice have shown him that it's safe to do. 


Now we all have this secret power inside of us - the power to decide who I wish to be today. Not yesterday - not tomorrow - just for today. Just for today I will live with the uncertainty of my tumor. Just for today you can live without a sickerette. Let the uncertainty be - acknowledge it but don't let it rule you. None of us can change one iota of our past. None of us are really certain of our futures, after all! Each day we make the adjustments of acceptance that makes this day liveable. 

We can choose to struggle against the cards that are dealt to us - whine and feel victimized by life, even give in to despair and thro the cards back on the table, or we can embrace with gratitude that which we have to work with and make the most out of us - just for Today! That's doable.

When you enter recovery from nicotine, give yourself permission to make the best out of this day - today. Stack those days and you will be looking back on a true accomplishment you can be proud of. 


When I was in the hospital, I was asked what I would tell a friend in need. My response is if you don't like where you are sometimes you just need to wait a while and the Lord shows you bit by bit His purpose. Meantime just make the best of the crumbiest day you have. Carpe Diem. Take control. You don't have to believe every thought that comes into your head and you have to own your feelings but you don't have to wallow there.


Image result for let it go so you can grow



I've been having a headache since Friday. Saturday I was diagnosed with a tension headache and given an injection of anti- inflammatory and some muscle relaxant pills. They helped a little for a little while. But today my headache was as bad or worse than it was Saturday so I went to urgent care again - who sent me to the ER.


After a cat scan the Dr came in and told me that I had a non-malignant brain tumor - thus the headaches. So now I have another diagnosis to deal with. Lucky guy! Anyway I will be following up with a Drs appointment with my regular Dr so he can set up an MRI. We'll take it from there. 


When you get a lemon - make lemonade! All is in God's hands and I trust Him to do good and bless my journey - no matter how this turns out! I intend to celebrate each day and live it to the best extent my health allows!


So glad I don''t smoke!



Stress Vacation

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Mar 7, 2019

Whether you have been in Recovery for years, just getting started or still preparing mindfulness is a way to get in touch with the thoughts rattling around in your head and give yourself a chance to focus on what you decide is important to  you rather than being swept away by the tsunami of "to do's" and worries. 


Here's an example: 

Yesterday I started a new exercise class. All day I found myself worrying about various silly things such as "will I fit in?" "will it take up too much of my time?" "will I become sick because of exercise?" Then I would take a minute of mindfulness and rather than living in my worries pile I chose to focus on this moment right now.

When it came time for exercise class, I was there on time, focused on the class, and engaged. When it was over I was "good tired" but knew I hadn't overdone it!


Which would you rather do - live in your worry pile or be there for this moment fully focused and engaged? When you practice mindfulness those smoking thoughts do get acknowledged- denial is not going to work - but you choose what you want to focus on - work, play, friends, family, fun. It takes practice but there's really nothing more to it than stopping your racing thoughts enough to ask yourself "what am I thinking?" and "what do I choose to think about?" 

It's empowering and refreshing - a mini vaca in your day that you can take as many times as you like until before you know it you are living there!


Image result for mindfulness


I'm Possible!

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Mar 2, 2019

July 17, 2017 I was in declining health and debating whether to go on SSD and watch Judge Judy all day or try to get another completely different kind of job. Completely lost, I went to a Career Counselor, Rachel, who studied my resume and then had what I thought was a very crazy idea - "You can work for Comcast!" Say what???? I don't even know what the blinky light tower is called or how to install my own TV Cable. This is nuts! You've got the wrong person.


Then I studied Comcast website and found out that one of their core values is diversity and inclusion. Guess what unknowingly was the first line of my resume? Well, now, that got my attention! But was it true or just a line? I have never worked for a corporation before  - let alone one of the biggest, most hated corporations in the world! So being the daring person that I have always been I took the test. I thought - no way- even the local school district wouldn't hire me. But the very next day I got the call.


I had huge doubts from the beginning. I walked into a room full of millenials - I was 59 at the time and thought - oh boy, am I in over my head! I had one of the hardest, most unpredictable interviews I've ever had. All my prep answers went out the window and I got real. What's to lose, right? Shock, they hired me! Then I faced 8 very intense weeks of training. While the millenials played on their cell phones, I studied like mad - still wondering if I could make it. My computer skills were very weak and my long suit is customer service.


Some years ago, somebody told me that learning to bowl is easier if you've never done it wrong! Good point! So I barely graduated and was filled with self-doubt telling myself that at least I'm getting good training in Customer Service Rep if nothing else. I asked very dumb questions like what's the difference between a modem and a router because honestly I didn't know. Who knew that internet travels on radio waves? My kids, of course!


Long story short I just got my 3rd promotion and raise with a score of Highly Effective! My secret is I remember what it was like to have no idea what a cloud is or Gig or HDMI. I don't expect my customers to know either. That's not their job - it's mine! So I keep it easy, simple, and amazing - like magic. Because that's what it has always been to me!


The lesson? We learned how to not smoke dozens of times but we never learned how to recover!  Open your mind to a new way of looking at this magical process of reclaiming yourself! It's not the same ol' toss the bowling ball in the general direction of the pins. It's precise - how is your posture? How do you hold the ball? What kind of stride do you have? When do you let go? Where are your eyes focused?


Put all that "I tried!" behind you! This is definitely doable - recovery not just another quit! That's your job! Keep it simple - smoking is not an option, and amazing because you are amazing and that's what you are getting back! And heck, if this old man can become highly effective in a building full of millenials you can recover! You're worth it! 



When Times Get Tough

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Mar 1, 2019

...And, Yes, they will!

Come here and use your LifeLines! Yell, cuss (in a way that passes Admin), scream - even in caps, cry, whine, whatever it takes! Just do not beg, borrow, steal, or purchase a Sickerette! 

Necessity is the Mother of invention. You'll find a hundred, maybe even a thousand other ways to get through! You may pace, or knit, or clean, or climb into bed and sleep it off, or run, or, or, or .... but you will honor your decision to not smoke for any "reason", i.e. excuse!

I hear the excuses already - my cat died, I lost my job, I can't pay my rent, my mom and/or dad and/or children are sick - You see, there is nothing whatsoever that is going on in your Life that doesn't happen to nonsmokers and EX-smokers which means - not a good enough excuse!

Guess what? When you slam that door behind you, lock it with a key and throw the key away it's easier! The crazy mind games get bored and just stop! The addiction comes to terms with the fact that you mean absolute business and all kinds of possibilities for living a wonderful Life open up!

So it's up to you - easy or difficult? It's all in your Quititude!

I chose easier! You can, too!


Image result for easier


Reclaim Yourself!

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Feb 28, 2019

I didn't intend to give myself away to addiction. It started so small - just an experiment to keep up with my then girlfriend. I liked her so much - but not the smell so I thought I'd go with the saying "if you can't beat them, join them!"  I'm so glad we don't say that any more! It's just plain dumb! Be yourself - hang onto yourself! You're the only you on the planet and that's Special! 

So the first thing I gave up on were my Values - prior, I had been against smoking! Then I gave up on my honesty - "If nobody knows, it doesn't count!" Soon I gave up on my - Self! I chose to become a smoker and kept smoking for the next 20 - yes, two zero - Years - long after the girl was history! 

Do I regret it? I don't believe in regret - it keeps you trapped in the past. But I faced my Fear and quit. Thank You, Lord! Because quitting is not just quitting it is Recovery - it's not about what you lose - it's all about what you gain - your true, Self - your integrity! The unique YOU that you were meant to be! 

I got my honesty back and then my values and then my Self! I have become each day of this beautiful Recovery Journey more and  more of the ME that doesn't sacrifice his heart, mind, soul, and body to Addiction!

I continue to grow into the Best Thomas I can become! Why do you suppose they say, "Become an EX!" it means become the Real God given YOU! IT's worth every blood, sweat and tears - LIFE!