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Smoking isn't there!

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Aug 31, 2014

How are you spending this moment? Smoking isn't here, either!

I'm on my way to work....



Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Aug 28, 2014

How to make commitment your Friend!

  Webster says that   become means to   begin to be something specified. Thus, BecomeanEX doesn't mean that you only join if you already have the mindset of an EX. It doesn't mean that you will be somehow zapped into EX-dom because you enrolled. It means that we enter and we begin to become. We don't have to be flawlessly anything when we get here. We only have to have a curiosity about what being an EX might mean to us individually. 
  As we read the Blogs, again and again, we see folks at all stages of Quititude. Some are searching for it, some are glimpsing it, some are testing it, some are growing with it and it with them and some own it fiercely! That can't be found in any device.
   It starts with openness toward learning more. Too often I see folks who bring their "My Way" attitudes rather than openness. If you already have the Successful way - then what are you doing here?  
    We're told to FOCUS on the positive side of quitting, to count our blessings and benefits of Smoke FREE Living. Some of us do that and we move forward with amazing smoothness, leaving others to think that they had it "easy" for some unEXplainable reason. In fact, it isn't any more difficult or complicated for one of us than for another. We are all Nicotine Addicts! But when you FOCUS on the FREEDOM of Recovery rather than on the "sacrifices" of quitting it is not only more understandable - it's more desirable. That makes it easy to maintain DETERMINATION! Focus and Determination - 2 very important ingredients of PERSEVERENCE! We can all persevere even when we think we can't.  
    Here are some ways to maximize our motivation:  
    (1) Draw inspiration from others  
    Be they certain individuals here who EXemplify Quititude or the general fact that:   
    Percentage of smokers who want to quit altogether     70%  
    Percentage of smokers who will try to quit this year     40%  
    Percentage of smokers who will succeed at quitting smoking without relapse     6%. Make up your Mind right here and now that you will be one of the 6%! There's absolutely no reason that you can't! NO EXCUSES!  
    (2) Don't think; just act  
    Thinking is vital and much of human folly happens because we don't think. We can think ourselves out of problems, around situations, into solutions - but also out of doing what we should. "I can't go on" is a thought that may be useful or it may be self-deception. If you have to keep on, then start to ignore these kinds of thoughts. When times are tough, sometimes we need to just keep on without thinking until the 'nose down to the grindstone' times have passed.  
     (3) Strengthen your Quititude by EXercising it   
     Quititude, like a muscle, gets stronger the more you use it. So remember that even when it feels tough, it will get easier. The more you EXercise your Focus and Determination, the more naturally motivated you will begin to feel.   
        (4)  Think about what you really want      
        Really think about what your Values are. Make a list of the values most important to you: life, family, love, work, fun etc. Recognize that there's no right or wrong answer - these are         your values! Then ask yourself if you are living these values. How is smoking enhancing them? Think about this -       
        Suppose I select Family as my value. In what ways does smoking help my Family Life? In what ways would quitting help me invest in my Family rather than my Sickerette?      
        (5) Never give up!      
        If your intentions are good and you keep working, something will happen - even if it's not exactly what you had planned. If you do nothing, nothing happens.      
        "Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up."      
        - Thomas A. Edison       
        Be patient with yourself! How many years was your Brain hijacked by Addiction? It will take a few comparatively short Months to recover your FREEDOM! But it can be done and we can show you how! All you have to do to get started is show up with curiosity and a willingness to learn!      





Grief and Sadness!

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Aug 23, 2014

One of my most dear friends died this week of Stage IV COPD. It isn't a surprise, of course. Mike knew he was going to die - had known it was coming for a long time now. Mike was on hospice and shared his experience with the dying process in a personal way with me. 

Mike was on a lot of morphine for the pain he suffered, Xanax for the anxiety for not being able to breathe, and on Ambien so he could get at least a few minutes of sleep a day.

He had come to grips with death some time ago. He had said his goodbyes to family and friends. He was at peace with passing on.

The true anguish came from the dying process. He lingered in unimaginable pain - unable to rest, unable to sleep, unable to care for himself in even the simplest task of taking a drink of water. Yet he managed the whole ordeal with grace and dignity. 

Mike was only 58 Years old. 

That's COPD. That's what smoking took away from him. That's what it has already taken away from me. My friend and my future. My days are numbered One day it will be my turn to wear his shoes. I can only hope I can do so with the courage and strength that my friend Mike has had. 

May he Rest In Peace! Breathe easy, Mike! You are my HERO!


At What Price?

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Aug 22, 2014

The total private and social costs of smoking amount to $40 per pack.

$33 ($1.65 per sickerette) of this total represent private losses to smokers themselves, primarily in the form of lost life expectancy.

 The other $7 is paid for by others through taxes, increased medical costs and second hand smoke effects.

As a rough approximation, smokers lose 1 minute of life expectancy for every minute spent smoking. Each pack of sickerettes costs two hours of life expectancy based on  about six minutes to smoke each sickerette.

The average smoker evidently smokes about 400 packs a year, which implies giving up 800 hours of future life expectancy, or a little more than two hours a day.

[ Info obtained from The Price of Smoking by Don Taylor and Chris Conover]

I smoked for 20 years – that’s 20 x 400= 8000 packs

8000 packs x 2 hours = 16000 hours cut off from my life

16,000 hrs is approximately 667 days or nearly 2 years I gave up of my life just to smoke!

2 Years just went up in a meaningless cloud of smoke simply to keep my addictive neurons happy!

Cost to me personally $264,000

Cost to Society $56,000

TOTAL COST of Thomas’ Addiction $320,000

I could buy a very nice house for that!

Smoking sucks!

Have you "tried your best to fight the craves and can't seem to win?" Are you sitting there scratching your head about what went wrong and feeling like you can "never win?" I'll tell you something I learned Thanks to the Elders who helped me launch the adventure of my lifetime - Smoke FREE Living! 

I came here like most of us not knowing anything about Nicotine Addiction and was told to read and I did! It really helped but there was this guy who I thought was goofy (Thank Goodness I now know that he was spot on!) His name is James and his moniker is the Happy Quitter! ....Say what? what's there to be happy about? Strong, yes! Determined, yes! Stubborn, fierce, a fighter! But happy??? As I thought about it, something really clicked and the light bulb came on! 




I had been fighting the Nico-Demon with willpower! What could be more effective than that? But I was missing the essential...The Nico-Demon is ME!!!!!


So when I was fighting myself, how could I win without losing??? And guess what, the loser had been the part that wanted to be FREE! You can't be FREE when you're fighting!!!! 

This fellow James had something - something I really, really wanted! he was not just Quit - He was Happy being Quit! 

So how do you handle the craves if you don't fight??? What do you do instead? 

There's a fellow here named Tommy who repeatedly told me to use Focus and Determination. Could I combine these 2 great pieces of advice? Think about Focus for a minute...



When you focus with determination instead of fighting with determination, the whole picture changes! I had changed my perspective! The Nico-demon became more blurry, less important and the object of my Focus increased in POWER - the POWER to WIN! And what was that very important object of my FOCUS?




FREEDOM from the Chains of Addiction! 

FREEDOM to be the ME that my Creator made me to be!

FREEDOM from pain, suffering, illness, devastation!

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize and ignore the Nico-Demon - but don't fight Him because HE IS ME! Just Focus on the Prize! Will He scream for attention? Oh yea! But when you ignore Him long enough, He loses energy - your Energy is on your Prize! And He gets weaker....and weaker...and weaker...and becomes a little bitty gnat that once in a great while bugs you but you easily have the POWER to swat Him back into His place tiny! So worthless! 









It’s little wonder why e-cigarettes’ popularity has exploded into a multi-billion industry around the world over the last few years; the promise of safe, harmless nicotine delivery without all the carcinogenic byproducts of looseleaf combustion is a hard offer to pass up. But are these devices and the nicotinated fluids they atomise really that safe? Science says it’s complicated.

E-cigarettes are quite the media darling these days — despite the banishment of conventional smokers in television spots since the 1970s — appearing in everything from Super Bowl ads to the hands of late-night talk show guests. The CDC found that e-cig usage jumped from around 10 per cent in 2010 to more than 21 per cent in 2011 among adults who already smoked conventional cigarettes. Similarly, 10 per cent of American high school seniors reported experimenting with e-cigarettes over the same period.

What exactly is an e-cigarette? US patent application No. 8,490,628 B2 defines an e-cigarette as “an electronic atomisation cigarette that functions as substitutes [sic] for quitting smoking and cigarette substitutes.” They were first invented in 2002 by a Chinese pharmacist as smoking cessation devices, and China remains the primary manufacturer of e-cigarettes globally today. The devices atomise a nicotinated propylene glycol solution, known as e-liquid, that may be doctored with additional additives, such as flavourings and colourings or variable nicotine concentrations. They can also be modified to vaporise cannabis derived products.

Smoke and Mirrors

Much of the e-cigarette’s meteoric rise has been thanks to aggressive marketing campaigns by their manufacturers, touting the health “benefits” of vaping over smoking. A 2014 survey conducted by a team of researchers from the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at UC San Francisco looked at nearly 60 e-cigarette manufacturers websites and found that more than 90 per cent of them cited e-cigs as healthier, cheaper, and cleaner than conventional cigarettes, 76 per cent of them said that e-cigs do not produce secondhand smoke, and a quarter of them even used paid doctor endorsements to drive home those points — suggesting that some e-cig companies are only paying lip service to the FDA’s stringent requirements about labelling.

What these websites fail to mention is that e-cigarettes also deliver a fraction of the nicotine that cigarettes do — roughly 20 per cent (between 0 and 35 μg of nicotine per puff) of what a regular cigarette delivers. Which means the average vaper is more likely to be huffing on these devices longer and more often than conventional cigarettes. Or simply augmenting their current cigarette regimen with e-cigs (you know, for crowded bars and restaurants where smoking a real cigarette would get you thrown out for douchebaggery). It’s the so-called “dual use effect.”

“The e-cigarettes are rapidly penetrating the market, especially with kids. they’re being heavily promoted largely by the cigarette companies that have purchased e-cigarette companies as a way to quit smoking, a way that’s safe and doesn’t pollute the air,” Dr. Stanton Glantz, director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at UCSF, told me. “What the evidence to date shows is that while a puff on an e-cigarette isn’t as dangerous as a puff on a regular cigarette, the main effect they seem to be having is to keep people smoking cigarettes,” thanks again to the dual use effect. Sneaky, sneaky.

“You don’t know what that is doing to your lungs,” Ray Casciari, director of the thoracic oncology program and the chief medical officer at the OC’s St. Joseph Hospital, told Forbes. “My experience over the past 35 years is that anything you put in the lungs has a chance of causing either lung damage or irritation.”

Another recent practical study, published this year in the journal Reproductive Toxicology, similarly found that the vapors can damage the developing lungs of America’s youth:


Bahl et al screened 41 e-cigarette refill fluids from 4 companies for cytotoxicity using 3 cell types: human pulmonary fibroblasts, human embryonic stem cells, and mouse neural stem cells. Cytotoxicity varied among products from highly toxic to low or no cytotoxicity.


The authors determined that nicotine did not cause cytotoxicity, that some products were noncytotoxic to pulmonary fibroblasts but cytotoxic to both types of stem cells, and that cytotoxicity was related to the concentration and number of flavorings used. The finding that the stem cells are more sensitive than the differentiated adult pulmonary fibroblasts cells suggests that adult lungs are probably not the most sensitive system to assess the effects of exposure to e-cigarette aerosol. These findings also raise concerns about pregnant women who use e-cigarettes or exposed to secondhand e-cigarette aerosol.


What’s Really In Your Cig?


Another recent study published in the journal Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology showed that e-cigarette performance was virtually identical to that of regular cigarettes in terms of exhaled nitric oxide rates.


Nitric oxides cause the smooth muscles in the lungs and heart to relax, which can lead to reduced lung function and increased risk of heart attack. The more NO your body retains, the worse it is for you. And bear in mind, these are studies conducted using the products of top-shelf manufacturers. There’s an entire other issue with harmful additives used by less scrupulous offshore firms that we’re not even getting into.


What we do know is in e-cigs is not reassuring. Multiple studies have found chemicals like acetaldehyde, formaldehyde, and toluene, as well as heavy metals like cadmium, nickel, and lead, in both first and second-hand vapour. Again, these were present in concentrations a magnitude lower than conventional cigarettes but at high enough levels that they could arguably fall under California’s Proposition 65 rules for mandatory labelling of their carcinogenic nature.


A recent meta-study by Dr. Priscilla Callahan-Lyon of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products examining data from 18 previous studies on e-cig vapor found that most contained at least trace amounts of the solvents used to dissolve the nicotine and flavourings. These solvents are potent lung irritants and, upon heating, can be converted to carcinogenic compounds known as carboxyls.


What’s more, since the first generation of e-cigs didn’t produce the same nicotine kick that regular smoking did, manufacturers began incorporating voltage controls allowing users to up the power and increase the device’s operating temperature — thereby increasing not just the rate of nicotine vaporisation but that of carboxyl vaporization as well. According to Maciej Goniewicz of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, using a current generation variable voltage vape on maximum can produce the same amount of formaldehyde as a regular cigarette. That’s not good.


What’s more, the atomisation process generates ultrafine particles — which can instigate the same effects seen in tobacco smoke or industrial air pollution. A 2007 study published in Environmental Health Perspectives found that the size and chemical composition of these particles can vary greatly between products. This variability has a big effect on their individual cytotoxicities, but the study did conclude that their presence in the air has a similar effect to tobacco smoke in terms of your pulmonary health. Altogether, between 20 and 27 per cent of e-cigarette vapor’s ultrafine particles make their way into the circulatory system, compared to 25 to 35 per cent for regular cigarettes. A recent report from Science News points out that these nanoparticles can trigger inflammation in the mucus membrane and have been linked to chronic diseases like asthma, stroke, heart disease, and diabetes.


We’re In Unknown Territory


Even the supposedly inert chemical substrate of e-liquid, propylene glycol, can have some pretty nasty effects on your body when heated and inhaled. Propylene glycol (PG) is a ubiquitous synthetic liquid added to a variety of foods, cosmetics, and medicines as a humidifying agent. For these functions, the FDA has rated PG as GRAS, or Generally Recognised As Safe, the agency’s general seal of approval basically.


However, none of those functions involve madly huffing hot PG into your lungs. “We have little information about what happens to propylene glycol in the air,” the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry website declares.


We do know that habitual inhalation of aerosolised PG in industrial settings can lead to issues with the central nervous system, personality and behaviour changes, and reduced spleen function. In fact, the Dow Chemical Company states that “inhalation exposure to [propylene glycol] mists should be avoided,” and the American Chemistry Council has repeatedly issued warnings about inhaling theatre fog as it may contribute to eye and respiratory infections.


“Propylene Glycol is a pulmonary irritant — it’s used for theatre fog,” Glantz told me. “And if you look on the product packaging, there’s a warning on there to avoid prolonged exposure. And there you’re not even breathing it in hot.”


Even better, when heated above a certain temperature, PG will convert to propylene oxide — a class 2B carcinogen as rated by the International Agency for Research.


We Need More Data


In response to the potential health threats that these devices may instigate, the FDA has begun asking for more research into their effects on pulmonary health. And despite the FDA’s rumblings about more strictly regulating the e-cig market, scientists simply haven’t had time understand the long-term effects of vaping on human physiology or its effectiveness as a cessation device. “Some evidence suggests that e-cigarette use may facilitate smoking cessation, but definitive data are lacking,” Callahan-Lyon recently wrote.


“Certainly, as the cigarette companies take over the e-cigarette market, there’s no incentive for them to promote e-cigarettes as an alternative to regular cigarettes because the tobacco companies make a lot more money off of cigarettes,” Glantz explained. $US83 billion dollars more annually to be precise, and that’s just in America. “The federal government and the FDA have to date been extremely flaccid in trying to deal with e-cigarettes,” Glantz told me.


The solution is fairly simple, Glantz continued, only requiring more robust market regulation:


The first and, I think, most important thing to do is that e-cigarettes be included in existing clean indoor air laws which many, many cities are already doing. I believe there are already 150 to 200 cities around the country that have already done this including major cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco.


Getting rid of the “smoke anywhere” claim and also protecting bystanders from breathing second-hand vapor, I think is very important. E-cigarettes should be subject to the exact same marketing restrictions as conventional cigarettes are — we shouldn’t have them being advertised on television or the radio. The same kind of licensing requirements places have for selling cigarettes should be applied to stores selling e-cigarettes. And they should be prohibited from making these unsubstantiated claims that e-cigarettes are good for helping people quit smoking or that they are emitting only harmless water vapor.


So in the end, we still have more questions than answers when it comes to the long-term health effects of e-cigarettes. Sure, they’re safer than conventional cigarettes — existing research bears that out — but they are far from truly “safe”. They are not “harmless”, and they do not generate “pure water vapor”, or whatever Dorf was rambling on about. At the same time, there’s an argument to be made that by even minimally reducing the harm caused by cigarettes is a positive thing.


Either way, the fact remains that e-cigs are synthetic chemical cocktails that we know precious little about. So maybe think twice before absentmindedly puffing away. 


Overcoming Fear

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Aug 19, 2014

f you have the courage to begin, you have the courage to succeed. David Viscott




Are you a bit afraid of quitting? There's nothing more natural in the World! I was afraid of the cravings, afraid of the weight gain, afraid of the mood changes, afraid of the temptation, afraid of failure, AFRAID! We live in a society that unfortunately plays on our fears for political, comercial, and personal reasons! The comercials tell you that "Quitting sucks!" The politicians, pharmaceuticals and yes, even Doctors,  tell you that it's hard to quit (but we'll be happy to sell you NRTS!) The tobacco industry lies about how safe - er their sickorettes are! Our smoking friends are glad to tell you horror stories of their unsuccessful "quits!" FEAR is an industry in our times!


Then there is BecomeanEx Community (not to be confused with BecomeanEx admin!) who tell you that it really makes no difference if you can afford NRTs and Chantix although if you do find them helpful by all means use them!  it 's not necessary to let this be a huge deprivation full of sacrifice, mood changes, and weight gain! You don't have to be miserable, grumpy, impossible to live with!


What are we "selling?" Actually nothing at all! Yet, we are not disinterested! We sincerely CARE! And we have found and are sharing SUCCESS! But it's not success that you can buy! It's FREE! We are sharing ATTITUDE! You see, we found out that when you overcome those fears, when you make that leap of faith in yourself, when you expect success, you can not only have a successful quit - YOU CAN have a Happy Quit! When I started reading here, I'll be honest, I was sceptical! Oh come on! It can't be that easy - or so I thought! But I was intrigued! I kept reading and the more I read, the more I wanted to read! What do you mean not giving up anything? Am I not giving up my best friend, my faithful and constant companion? Well, I see now that my best friend was interested in only one thing - killing me while robbing me of all my money and of my dignity and self-respect! Jeepers! With friends like that, who needs enemies???!!! 


Are you going to believe the "common wisdom" that quitting is the hardest thing you'll ever have to do?" Or are you willing to look at the possibility that quitting smoking is the very best decision you can possibly make for your health and happiness? Quitting is not an event, but a way of life - living abundantly addiction FREE! Quitting is about regaining your integrity, about returning to the real you that your Creator intends for you to be! Quitting renews your health, your self-respect, your relationships, your LIFE! Rather than the end of your "favorite vice" it is the beginning of a new way of thinking and relishing all that life has to offer!


Having quit over 4 years ago, I can assure you that I take better care of all aspects of my health today! I take much better care of my emotional health as well! I make better career and practical choices about subjects that seemingly have nothing whatsoever to do with tobacco! I navigate my relationships both social and family with more honesty and patience, with more compassion for others, with more generosity of self! Yes, I AM Happier!


Honestly, yes! There were some rough moments! There were some very challenging days! There still are some occasional temptations! That's the nature of the addictive mind! But you couldn't make me go back to smoking and give up this FREEDOM and wellbeing for anything, for any reason NO MATTER WHAT!


So consider this - make that leap! Put aside your fears! You CAN do this and you have a whole Community of sincere people here to help you! They have all been exactly where you are today! And THEY SUCCEEDED! YOU CAN TOO!


Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.

-William Shakespeare


What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?

-Vincent van Gogh



Beating the Odds!

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Aug 18, 2014

"What's wrong with the occasional cigarette as long as your lungs don't look like down town L.A.? After all, a cigarette once in a while can't be all bad - it may be a vice but it's a legal vice and it doesn't hurt anybody - at least not like alcohol or drugs! besides nobody's perfect! Look, I just smoke a pack a week! Yea, I know about Cancer and such, but surely that's people who smoked 2 or 3 packs a day for 40 or 50 years not me! Heck, I was over 30 when I started smoking and I've quit now and then just to give my body a break, so I'll be O.K. Everything in moderation ain't all that bad! "

That was me talking 4 years ago, completely confident that I had successfully dodged the silver bullet by carefully playing the odds! I would be the last person on Earth to get sick from smoking-related illness! But guess what? I was wrong! Boy, was I ever wrong! Holy Smokes!!! ( pun intended)

When I woke up that beautiful Spring morning with a fever of 102 there is absolutely no way I would have predicted the path that my life was about to take! That trip to the Emergency Room (it would have to be on a Sunday!) changed my life forever! I, Thomas, was diagnosed not just with a lung infection but with Emphysema!!! The guy who was so careful to beat the odds just lost the game of poker and there's no going back! Emphysema is chronic, permanent, and progressive! Most likely, although only Our Creator knows for sure, it will be my cause of Death! How does a young (relatively) healthy (usually) active fella like me get Emphysema, for crying out loud?

What I didn't know was way more than what I did know about Emphysema and COPD!!! Oh, I'd seen the pictures of the happy retired folks puttering around in their gardens or playing with their grandkids because they were smart enough to take Advair or Spiriva! That's about it! My Grandma who lived in another State died of Emphysema when she was in her nineties but we all have to die of something, don't we? Eventually! But heck, I was 52 and had never really been sick much at all my entire adult life! I worked 60 to 80 hours a week and never thought anything of it - hard physical labor, not a desk job!

Here are some facts that I have since learned about COPD: it is an auto-immune illness. it doesn't care if you are 20 or 80 years old! It doesn't care if you smoke 2 or 3 cigs a day or 2 or 3 packs! Just one cigarette will trigger your body's defense mechanism and there you have it! About half of the folks who have COPD don't even know it! Meanwhile the damage that they are doing to their lungs can NEVER be repaired! Your body creates all kinds of mucus in your lungs and bronchials that is a perfect breeding ground for any kind of bacteria or virus you cross paths with like pneumonia! Every time you get a lung infection a bit more irreparable damage will have been done and your condition deteriorates. Because your lungs don't work so well you can inhale fairly well, but you can't exhale so well at all. What people exhale is Carbon Dioxide - you know, poison! That CO2 stays in your system and makes your whole body in a constant state of being poisoned! Because your body wants Oxygen and not CO2 your heart overworks itself trying to get enough Oxygen to where it's needed. Eventually, the heart deforms itself from working overtime! Then you have Congestive Heart Failure! Don't forget, you're still getting those lung infections from time to time! The toxins make your limbs feel like wet spaghetti so that such things as getting dressed or washing dishes become monumental tasks! When you cross a room you huff and puff like the Big Bad Wolf! And know you can't even blow out a candle - let alone blow down a house! This is my reality! Oh you remember that part about not hurting anybody but myself? What do you suppose my Family and Loved Ones are feeling knowing that I did this to myself?

Now, do you still want that occasional cigarette? You still think it won't happen to you? Do you know that people die of smoke related illnesses in their TEENS? Check out Brian's Story at! Do you know that one single cigarette can not only trigger COPD it can cause a life-altering Stroke? Do you know that one single cigarette can change your DNA permanently setting you up for Cancer? ONE CIGARETTE! Do you believe it? I am testimonial that in this business you can't beat the Odds - the Odds can beat YOU - down! Forever! Get Smart! Be honest, at least with yourself! Smoking KILLS! Every time you light a cig you are committing the little suicide! You are spitting on the Gift of LIFE that your Creator bestowed on you! Enough is enough! Stop playing the Odds! TODAY is the Right Day to becomeanEX  and to protect your Quit - Smoke FREE for LIFE!


The Circle of Life

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Aug 15, 2014

God grant me the serenity 
to accept the things I cannot change; 
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time; 
Enjoying one moment at a time; 
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; 
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it; 
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life 
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.



It's the Circle of Life

And it moves us all

Through despair and hope

Through faith and love

Till we find our place

On the path unwinding

In the Circle

The Circle of Life




Seems like I spent half my life finding out who I am and now I find out that I will have to change that over and over!

 I used to identify myself as a Smoker – now I am a lifelong EXer! Not the same person at all!

 I work in geriatrics. Every day I see folks who were once independent have to learn to become dependent. Some of them get rather demanding in their fear of letting go! Others find a way to become very gracious. They might also be afraid – getting older is not for Sissies! – but they maintain respectful attitudes toward their care providers.

If we’re lucky enough, little by little we are stripped of what we thought we were. We no longer get to/have to work for a living. We no longer live in a house with a yard. We no longer have a houseful of stuff to identify with. Heck, if you get old enough, you may have to receive help with all of your daily living skills! And some of us will sadly, lose our minds.

That’s the circle of life! A constant stream of letting go and accepting. A constant relearning the definition of me.

I often catch myself clinging to the old me – unwilling to let go of who I was and it gets in the way of who I am becoming. Like Gollum I hover over my precious as my obsession damages me. I have to let go in order to let become that which awaits me. 



So Hot She Smoked!

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Aug 13, 2014

God, she was gorgeous. (AP)

Q: I understand that you quit smoking in the 1980s. What do you think of all the smoking restrictions in this country? Do you find them Draconian?

A: I think everybody standing outside smoking is the most ridiculous thing you could possibly imagine. Listen, if adults want to smoke, they’re going to smoke. … Smoking is what killed Bogey. I gave up smoking because I was in the theater; I was in Australia traveling with Sweet Bird of Youth. The theaters were so old. When the curtain went up, all the dust went up. I had tried to stop many times before that, and I had succeeded intermittently. I stopped in 1986.

Rest In Peace!



Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Aug 13, 2014

So I'm working 10 to 12 hour days at my Assisted Living Facility. I love my job - don't get me wrong but it is mentally taxing working with dementia residents. You have to know their needs on all levels better than they do at all times!

But what really irks me is that my coworkers take their breaks and dump their residents on me so that I have 2X the responsibility - just so they can have a smoke break! How is this fair??? Then they come back in reaking of sickerettes so bad I can't even stand near them! 

Did you know that smoking costs your employer $5816 per person who smokes? That's my raise being paid out for your vice! The highest cost for employers comes from smoke breaks!  Researchers estimate that since smokers take five breaks a day on average compared to the three breaks most workers get, employers are paying $3,077 each year for their non-working time.

The second largest source of costs comes from excess health care expenses, at $2,056 a year. Other factors that add to the increased employer costs included missed days of work and lost of productivity. Smokers miss 2.5 days more than non-smokers each year.

When you smoke you are hurting Yourself. You are hurting your Family. And you are hurting the people around you. 

TODAY is a Great Day to Live Smoke FREE!

P.S. The study was published in the June edition of Tobacco Control.

Nicotine's chemical properties are addictive. If you take that nicotine away from your body, it will miss it and you will experience physical and mental withdrawal symptoms.

These symptoms surface after three-five days of quitting smoking and linger for approximately two weeks. We list out some of these symptoms to help you prepare for these side-effects to smoking cessation. Rest assured that these symptoms, while some are unpleasant, will only be transitionary and once you're rid of them, will leave you feeling much better after quitting smoking.

Emotional withdrawal

Some of the most common symptoms are...

Depression: You may feel low, sad and hopeless. Hence it is important to surround yourself with people, preferably non smokers and friends who will support your decision to quit smoking.

Angry: Emotional upheaval can make you angry. Others may not be aware of it, but you know what's happening to your body. The age-old remedy of counting till 10 isn't such a bad idea. Stop, think, regain your calm and composure before losing your cool.

Bored: You may have noticed that when you were bored, tired or depressed you tend to smoke. Now that you are on your way to a smoke free life replace these voids with hobbies or get involved with people around you. Pay more attention to your loved ones.

Lonely: Withdrawal of smoking can make you feel lonely, impatient and irritable. If your friends are busy, take up a dance class or cooking class. It is important to expect these feelings of loneliness, so stay prepared.

Mood swing: Tempers will flare and tantrums will increase. These are not exactly PMSsymptoms. Nicotine was once your evil friend but now you have to bear with the loss of the addiction. This will throw your emotional reactions to daily happenings into a tizzy. Most quitters will need help with these mood swings. Replace the smoking placebo with something else. Invest in some great music and strong coffee, maybe?

Physical withdrawal

Nicotine obstructs the flow of oxygen and nutrients to various parts of the body. Now that you have quit smoking, your body has to hit the reverse button to detox.

Bowel discomfort: It's time to change your diet and fitness once you quit smoking. Quitting smoking can cause cramps, nausea, flatulence and constipation, therefore it is important to increase roughage and exercise your body.

Nasal and throat problems: When you stop smoking, your nose and throat will try to clear the mucous that has accumulated over the years. You may experience coughing, dry throat and mouth. Fluids are the key to clearing this process.

Increase in appetite: Craving for cigarettes can be confused with hunger cravings. The best way to stay healthy is to consume fluids and low calorie snacks.

Headaches: Lack of nicotine can lead to headaches, the way out of it is with massages, plenty of water and rest. Gently massage your temple, drink water, take a hot shower and take a deep breathe.

Lack of sleep: You may experience insomnia after you quit smoking. Take a hot shower before you hit the sack, do breathing exercises too and most importantly avoid coffee closer to bed-time.

Restlessness/lack of concentration: You feel like there is energy bursting in you, transfer this energy into something constructive. In these situations smokes would calm your nerves, but now switch off that thought and cultivate a new habit. You may feel you can't concentrate too; try listening to music or take a break from your routine life.

Weight gain: Increase in craving can lead to weight gain, especially if you indulge in unhealthy food. But don't be dejected, you can cut it out with exercise and the right diet.

Sweating and shaky hands and feet: You will feel that your hands and feet tremble. It is a passing phase that will stop. If you experience these withdrawals you know your body is simply shedding an addiction and leading you to a much healthier life.

Skin trouble: While quitting smoking is associated with healthier skin, the period of withdrawal will cause some skin trouble. Some people with sensitive skin might break out into a fresh acne case or suffer from some ulcers in the inner-cheeks, tongue and mouth. The reason is simply that your body is letting go of the toxins and levelling up.

Instead of losing motivation, after reading these withdrawal symptoms, the one thought any quitter must focus on is this: The fact that your body is changing so much when quitting, simply showcases how much it is continuously changed and affected while you still smoke. Avoid poor health and dangerous diseases - quit smoking today.


Self-Compassion doesn’t mean feeling sorry for oneself. It means understanding oneself better than ever.

If you Care for your own well-being, you already know that smoking is harmful to you. TODAY is a Great Day to become an EX!

 Self-Compassion requires being  Sensitive and vulnerable and that takes COURAGE!

 Then you have to allow a Sympathy for yourself. How can one sympathize with oneself? It’s opening up to your God created Being – that person who is beyond your thoughts, even your feelings! The Real YOU!

 Can you imagine how much Distress Tolerance that embraces? We must learn distress management skills.

 Then we’ll actually become Empathetic to ourselves. Empathy means the ability to imagine or project oneself into another person's position and experience all the sensations involved in that position.

 You’ll need that both to grieve the Smoker You you are letting go of. You’ll also need to imagine the Happy Quitter You that you will transform into. Nobody can tell you who that person is. YOU get to decide! And that takes empathy!

 And all of these challenges must be wrapped up in a Non-Judgemental bow because YOU are worthy of FREEDOM!

A BIG Order, right?

But you can achieve all of this with a certain skill set.

Pay Attention – to how you are (remember, without judgement, now!) Tracking leads to the perfect time to do this but you can do it throughout your day. It doesn’t take time – it takes awareness!

Allow your Feelings and learn little by little how to deal with them. For many Years we have smoked our feelings away and replaced them with artificial dopamine hits.

Choose your Behavior. Easier said than done but practice does make a huge difference!

Use Reasoning. Remember that saying: Don’t believe everything you think? Check your Thoughts against your Values and you will have more clarity about which thoughts you want to listen to.

Use Imagery. This will allow you to imagine what it would be like to actually BE a Happy Quitter. Let your imagination guide you. The more you use this skill the stronger it gets and the more you become that person.

Rely on your Senses. Your sense of taste, smell, even touch have been numbed by smoking. Along with your sight and hearing you can enhance your attention toward this moment.

All of these skills will help you get through the difficult physical withdrawals of the first few days and mental withdrawals that you’ll experience in the Months ahead.

YOU can do this! Many of us have! We’re here to provide you with the skills that make it possible!

Compassion is the way we can organize our thoughts. It helps to keep those addictive thoughts in their place!

It also helps us resolve depression, anxiety, and stress - all common reasons people tend to smoke.


You and I wouldn't be here if we were not contemplating some need for change - a conscious or subconscious recognition that smoking is in some way not or at least no longer enhancing our Quality of Life. My own personal reason for facing change was due to a diagnosis of COPD - a chronic, progressive incurable smoking related illness. My Hope for you is that you haven't waited until you were looking bulls-eye at your own mortality before you thought about the need to change. But even some of us who have been confronted with this reality sometimes unfortunately  don't have the skills needed to Succeed in Smoking Cessation and fail to acquire them!

I had been intermittently listening and shutting out pleas for my own change from Family, Friends and Loved Ones. I would compromise with my Addiction, quitting for Months even Years at a time but always with the understanding that I "get to" go back to my Addiction once I cleaned up my lungs and breathing issues. Just like a "dry Alcoholic,' I was a smokeless Smokeaholic! I temporarily changed my behavior but not my Mental, Social and Spiritual status. 

So what obstacles kept me from making the more fundamental life-enhancing change that I later was able to access? I believe that I wasn't able to confront my Fear of Change and tap into my Sense of Courage and of Hope!

 When I was confronted with my mortality I had to re-evaluate what living a Life that matters means! I came to the conclusion that reinspiring myself with Courage and Hope was an important aspect of facilitating my fundamental change. But how could I bring about a new perspective that stimulated the  Courage and Hope that naturally lived in me but had up to that point remained unaccessable?

Each of us as  individuals  decipher the nature of Courage and Hope based on their own unique belief system. This belief system is influenced by their religion and spirituality, ethnicity and other multicultural influences. So I can't tell you what Courage and Hope mean to you but I can show you the process that I EXperienced and hopefully illuminate how you can find your own way.


Many definitions of Courage have been presented and depending on your cultural traditions and personal spiriual beliefs some of them ring true for you. One definition that fits my belief system says, "Courage, a moral virtue, is defined by the character strengths of bravery, perseverance, authenticity, integrity, and vitality." Now when I thought about my own Addiction, I realized that Nicotine Addiction had chipped away at my bravery to face my problems head-on; my perseverence toward stress-related issues; my authenticity due to the thousands of lies I told the World but even more damaging - to myself;  my integrity since I chose daily to deny my body, mind and spirit; and my vitality that was being sucked away with every puff I took! No wonder I wasn't tapped into my God-given Courage! My Addiction robbed me of a crucial element that could lead to a path of Recovery!

 One famous psychologist (Tillich) defines Courage as “…the power of life to affirm itself in spite of this ambiguity…” Thank God! Now that I had to actually EXamine the meaning of LIFE itself and MY LIFE in particular, I was stimulated to affirm Life itself in my search for the road of Recovery!

 Courage has a revealing power via our participation and individuation - it is a motivating emotion - the concept of will toward power. Courage implies ‘self actualization’, as an expansion of one’s self. “Courage is not the absence of despair; it is rather, the capacity to move ahead in spite of despair” (May, R. 1975, p.3). Well. I can't think of too many situations more despair provoking than being told that my Quality and Quantity of Life had just been severely downgraded. Yes, I like most folks receiving a davastating diagnosis felt despair! Yet, deep within me lived the power of Life to affirm itself (my God-created Courage!) i found that, yes, I DO have the capacity to move ahead in spite of despair! I re-discovered the courage to meet the demands of work, love, and friendship. I re-defined my own personal meaning of living a Life that matters.

Courage, a mature virtue, is preceded by Compassion and Wisdom.  I learned to have Compassion for myself and others with smoking related illness and yes, for all Nicotine Addicts, as well as their Family and Friends who long for the day that the Addict discovers his/her own Recovery Path. I learned to nourish that Compassion by reading many stories of survivors and victims of Nicotine Addiction and the personal suffering that they and their families suffered. Wisdom, led by  Passion (soul of life), leads to Courage by rejecting the worldly values of wealth and power. Such discernment is based on an Integrity in knowledge and the Gift of the Holy Spirit known as Grace.I learned to nourish that Wisdom with a fundamental EXamination of Holy Scriptures and Conscience - by saying "YES, LORD! Here I am!" to the gift of Grace!

I also learned to embrace Simplicity, Patience and Compassion that the Taoist masters  outline as a moral or ethical code along with the Judeo-Christian values of Faith, Love and Hope! Mantras such as N.O.P.E., "one day at a time", "today is the most important day of my Recovery,""the future is a series of NOWS" all reflect that Simplicity that keeps me focused on the Goal of FREEDOM from Addiction. And here we are back to HOPE!


Psychologists say “Hope, optimism, and future-mindedness are a family of strengths that represent a positive stance toward the future” My own  Hope could only thrive in the face of despair as a way of coping. Despair provided that change motivator that provided me with the desire and drive to dig deep inside and to overcome.

" Hope is a concept that allows an individual movement toward a goal" (Erikson), and Hope is a way of thinking and believing that is goal directed that produces routes to desired goals with the motivation to use those routes (Snyder). Without Hope, there can be no change - why bother? Hope is both a cognition and an emotion. Having a sense of Hope is in the affective domain, and yet acting on the Hope requires motivation and a plan that is actively carried out. Sound familiar? Didn't I just say something very similar when looking at Courage? Both Courage and Hope are agents of change!

Now sometimes I possess a high degree of the affective domain of Hope [I hope I win the lottery!] but an inability to take action [I don't even buy lottery tickets!LOL!], while other times I seem to possess neither a sense of Hope nor the motivation to move forward in a Hopeful way - that was the rut I was into as an Addict for Years (both my using years and my dry years.) Only in the most despairing of times did I  access the power of choice and go through a great deal of humbling, if not outright humiliation, before I came to the Simplicity of Hope in Action! Hope is a choice and the more dire the circumstance the more likely I was to make a choice to Hope.


After reflection, I came to the conclusion that I had to know and acknowledge  my signature strengths and use those strengths in my relationships and in service of others in order  to acquire a good Life, to fulfill my meaning of Life and to embrace authentic Happiness.

I have from conception had the belief in the Christian virtues of Faith, Love, and Hope. Hope and Courage are both spiritual gifts in Christian tradition. Hope and Courage can produce endurance and encouragement for  individuals in the face of fear and despair. To conquer fear, Courage becomes an expression of Faith. Please remember that I'm speaking only of and for myself!  It is when we are most vulnerable and powerless we are given the most profound opportunities to risk believing that we are born in Love, of Love, and for Love. The Courage of Faith allows the Holy Spirit (the Comforter) to do its work: Grace brings us Hope as a manifestation of God’s most Supreme Love! I believe this and although I haven't always consciously dwelled in this First Principle to Life's meaning, it defines who I am. I have also learned much later in Life from the oriental  theme of Perseverance and Patience of  soft Courage EXpressed through Christianity as acceptance of God's Will and in the Eastern Religions as a path of least resistance.  In my mind, it is clearly shared in the Christian virtues of Faith, Love, and Hope. Hope implies waiting and stillness.  "Be still and know that I am God." (Psalms 45:10)


So how did I recover Courage and Hope? I had redefined what living a Life that matters means to me and I humbly admitted that I need help to motivate my Courage and Hope. I was searching for an optimal level of functioning for the life tasks of work, love, and friendship by use of Encouragement. I acknowledged that I needed support to motivate change and improve my behavior but also to improve myself! For the first time in my life, I surfed the internet looking for Encouragement and I came to BecomeanEX. I was literally driven by despair! When defined using the root meaning of Courage, Encouragement is, “the process of facilitating the development of a person’s inner resources and Courage toward positive movement.” Encouragement is a natural way to find Courage in times of despair.

Rogers, the famous behavior psychologist, states that there are  three critical conditions  for accepting Encouragement and facilitating change - acceptance, genuineness, and unconditional regard. I found all of these here at BecomeanEX. But I also discovered other attributes such as Patience and Hope that gave me Courage. These attributes facilitated my change by “locating” and enhancing my EXisting desire to be Hopeful that I already possessed. Obviously change does not come easy. By facilitating Hope in and of itself, the Become anEX Community  created the opportunity for  change. For that opportunity to be realized, it requires Patience and that's especially what I could find here more than with my non-smoking Family and Friends - more than anybody in my 3-D World! These are the gifts that Tommy refers to as Collateral Kindness!

I was able to set achievable  short-term (obtainable within one-year), middle-term (obtainable within five-years), and long-term (obtainable within my lifetime) goals. This activity was the beginning of “locating” what Hope resided already within me waiting to be utilized and to reclaim the bravery, perseverance, authenticity, integrity, and vitality that I had forfeited through Addiction.  I became more willful  , thus connecting me to the emerging Courage and Hope that I possessed all along!I am  bringing my  overall life ideal to progressively manageable goals! I am living that meaningful Life that matters to me!


My wife and I took off and headed to Mexico. As we descended on Mexico City I could see Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl in the background and heart soared! HOME! There’s really nothing like it! I live in one of the most beautiful places in the United States – Fort Collins, Colorado – the Choice City but I also have a home in Mexico an hour and a half south of the metropolis in Amecameca.  How wonderful to have 2 Homes. We love both of them dearly.

Having somewhere to go is Home.  Having someone to love is Family..  Having both is a Blessing

Amecameca means Family to me. My Godparents - May they rest in peace – gave me all the love my parents were incapable of. Their Family – now mine – fills my home with Love and Laughter, Blessings and Tears of Joy! When I am home in Ameca my spirit drinks the air of kindness and beauty!

In Colorado, my Wife and I do our best to bring that same flavor of bursting Love to our Children and their Wives and look forward to the day when we can share it with our Grandchildren. Every tradition, every daily practice of old blended with new adds spice to the mole.

Fort Collins and Amecameca have so much in common. They’re each a satellite of a huge metropolis. They each sit at the foothills of the most beautiful mountains in the world. They’re each known for their tourism and education. They each celebrate the past and the present and envision a sparkling future. They each have Family we dearly love!


When in Mexico we said to our loved ones, “Bags are packed and saying Goodbye for awhile! I'm going home!” You see, two beautiful homes to love! Now, I’m home in Colorado and when we looked out the plane window and saw the airport in Denver our hearts soared! HOME! There’s really nothing like it!

PS  Smoking never crossed my mind!

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