Greetings, fellow EXmates! It's been months and months since I've been here! If you don't mind, I'll compose this blog first, then write a personal message at the bottom.
Quite some time ago, I saw a television news story about parents struggling with picky eaters. One mother was in tears as she described her frustration with trying to get her daughter to eat breakfast. For the first few years, morning after morning, Mom tried to serve oatmeal or cereal, ham or bacon or sausage, scrambled eggs or hash browns - any and all of the typical breakfast foods. Her daughter was having none of it! She squirmed and fidgeted, Mom begged and cajoled, a tantrum would erupt, and both would end up crying and exasperated.
At her wits end, Mom finally pleaded, "You have to eat breakfast, but you won't eat anything I serve. Please, tell me, what will you eat? You have to eat something!"
The daughter sheepishly answered, "Why can't I have ravioli, Mom? I like ravioli. And hot dogs, too."
It was a light-bulb breakthrough for both of them! If Suzette had no problems eating typical lunchtime foods, and enjoyed typical dinnertime entrees, then why not just serve all of these familiar foods for breakfast?!
The next morning, Mom threw some ravioli in a pot of boiling water, drained them, put them in a bowl, dolloped on some marinara, and - voila! The daughter happily ate breakfast! She ate food!
Building on this success, Mom started experimenting with whole grain pastas, organic sauces, kosher hot dogs, turkey burger patties...all sorts of healthy alternatives to traditional breakfast foods.
It worked like a charm!
Mom had to let go. She had to let go of her own childhood memories. Her own upbringing. Her own expectations. Mom was locked into the patterns of the past, and needed to unlearn and rethink the typical normal.
This story really hit home with me, because I don't much care for a traditional breakfast foods, either. First thing in the morning, I'm not all that eager to chow down on salt, or fat and grease and butter, or pork, or breads. And sugary oatmeals and cereals don't strike me as having any nutritional worth at all. So, for many years, I simply skipped breakfast.
Well, after seeing that story, I had my own "ah-ha moment". What if I deconstructed the age-old breakfast rituals, and created something new that harmonized with my likes and preferences? What if I let go of expectations and patterns, and just played to the proven strengths I already had?
So, that's what I did. My breakfasts stopped looking like "breakfast", and that's been a good thing! In the morning, I now choose a hearty soup, or vegan hummus, or veggie dogs rolled up in a whole grain wrap, or a bowl of brown rice and pinto beans. I've even had a salad for breakfast!
Here at EX, I had to learn to unlearn. To rethink. To deconstruct. To undo. To let go of the addictive patterns that kept me smoking. I had to smash up my old morning routines, and rearrange the pieces into a new lifestyle that not only didn't involve cigarettes, but also didn't agitate any of the triggers and trapdoors that would make me hunger for the act of smoking. As I was flirting with new ideas and new coping strategies, I was mindful to play to my strengths. What things did I already like? What new steps called to me? What new ideas sounded too foreign and odd?
I replaced all my smoky morning rituals with a brisk, meditative walk - no matter the weather! And after dinner at home, it was a double-feature movie night of free DVDs I checked out from the library. (These are just two of the most effective changes I made. Jigsaw puzzles and bubble baths and yoga in the living room would not have appealed to me, so I never bothered with them. I played to my strengths: outdoors, walking, fresh air, and movies.)
In my experience (very nearly 4 years worth now, by the way), one cannot give up cigarettes by simply giving up cigarettes. No, you have to give up smoking, and the lifestyle choices that enabled smoking. All the daily patterns that made smoking so easy, and all the excuses that made smoking so automatic and acceptable. And a newbie can do this by playing to the strengths they already have.
Need help doing this? Lucky you! There's a village of successful quitters here who can help you with that, every step of the way!
**** One quick note before I get on with my day: When I joined EX way back in 2014, I noticed that certain Elders would only make an appearance on the anniversary of their Quits. My newbie mind had newbie opinions about this, of course, and I never thought I'd become one of "those". Ummm, well, here I am, back again, at the lead-up to my 4-year anniversary! Never thought that this would end up being my "comfort zone", but...well, there it is. (And, to all the "anniversary visitors": I totally get it now! I apologize!) So, over the next couple of weeks, I'll post a few more blogs, track down my cherished Mentors and Elders, and I'll definitely respond to all the individual messages I've received since I walked away from JIVE. Until next time, NOT ONE PUFF EVER!