Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween Flashback - Scary

One of my most humiliating and embarrassing memories is on my friend likes to tell.

I run into Tracee at a Church Halloween Carnival and there she is - smoking. It's a church and little kids are everywhere and she's holding hands with her 2 year old little girl and she's just standing their smoking her brains out.

It's embarrassing to think that I smoked everywhere and anywhere with no shame at all for 20 years. Smoking is pretty bad to do in front of kids.

Bizarrely, I always looked down on "secret smokers." You know who you are - the kind who was so ashamed of yourself that you hid behind buildings and lied to your kids about going out to the car 5 times every evening?

Yeah, I thought lying about smoking was worse than the smoking itself. It just seemed so deceptive and absurd to lie to your closest intimate family about who you really are.

Well, looking back I wish I had been a little more ashamed of my smoking. Perhaps if I was I wouldn't have continued doing it for so long. But, then I couldn't really quit without the Chantix and I did quit as soon as I knew about it.

Gotta forgive the self about the smoking.

What is your most embarrasing smoking memory?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Chug It, Water Not Booze

Water is my favorite response to a craving.
Oprah's fav. doc Dr. Memet and author of YOU: The Owner's Manual: An Insider's Guide to the Body that Will Make You Healthier and Younger says there are only a few things the body naturally craves.

Sex, water, food, exercise and rest. We kind of screwed that up with the smoking by making our bodies addicted to it and therefore crave it.

If you're going to replace your cravings with something - and you WILL replace it with another response - water is a great substitute.

1. It's never going to become unhealthy to drink too much of it. (Sex and food can have long-term consequences if you replace smoking with those).
2. It's usually readily available.
3. It's pretty much free right out of the tap.
4. It gives your body and brain a chance to recognize that it got something it needed and is therefore likely to turn the craving thought-loop off.
5. You've been starving your body of much-needed oxygen by smoking. Water fixes that problem by providing your body with extra oxygen.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Party On Without Tempation

I went to a Halloween Party on Saturday. I was outside, drinking beer, surrounded by smokers.

My only temptation was to tell them that they could free themselves from a nasty habit by taking Chantix.

I was not even a little tempted to bum a smoke or beg for a drag. Not even a little.

Free at last! Free At last! Thank God Almighty I'm Free At Last!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Freedom From or Freedom To

I can smoke if I want to.


Can you NOT smoke if you want to do that?

If you're a smoker you realized way too late that freedom from smoking is better than and more important than freedom to smoke.

But, you're also something of a pride-full rebel who hates to admit you totally screwed yourself and everyone around you. Yeah, that sucks. Suck it up. There are worse things than having to admit you were wrong. One worse thing is refusing to admit you were wrong and continuing to smoke.

Note to self: It's okay to be wrong sometimes. No one is right all the time. I was confused about wanting to smoke. I understand my addiction is clouding my thinking. I am willing to be wrong about having a right to smoke in order to set myself free.

Sound asinine? Well, how do you think I can smoke if I want sounds coming from a full-grown adult?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Peer Pressure

Smoking is a social creature. We start doing it when people we know do it. We use it to bond - with significant others, between generations or family members, with total strangers.

Smokers are a community of outcasts. You knew, if out of cigarettes, a fellow smoker would understand and sympathize with your desperate need to bum one.

Quitting is much easier if the whole group decides to quit smoking.

But, it's a double edged sword. Discontent is contagious. When one person loses hope negativity can easily spread through a whole social smoking group.

Understanding a beast makes it easier to tame. When one person in your group gets down on the Chantix, or has strange side effects, it's important to sympathize with them.

Compassion is great and you should share it with people who are upset, angry, and hurting. Quitting smoking is hard, with or without Chantix.

But, compassion shouldn't stand in the way of your quit. You will suffer if you continue to smoke. Emphysema, oxygen tanks, cancer, inability to exercise, asthma in your children or grandchildren may result from continued smoking.

Stay strong in your quit people. Encourage your friends and family to stay strong. When one loses hope, talk them back into hope and stregnth.

You can totally do this! I know you can!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

No Thanks, I Don't Smoke

No thanks, I don’t smoke. I can seriously, for the first-time ever, see myself saying this and not falling over laughing hysterically with a smoke in my right hand.

I feel like I’ve been set free. I feel like for the first time since I was about 13 years old those shackles have been removed. I am not chained to the idea that I must always have a pack of cigarettes with me, or that I must always have $5 on me to be able to buy some. I am totally free.

Monday, October 22, 2007

No Longer A Failure

You know what the best thing about quitting smoking is?

I don't have to feel like a failure anymore. Out of the 20 years of smoking I did, I spent the last 7 torturing myself with self-loathing and a permanent sense of failure.

Pre-kid I just assumed I was smoking until I decided to quit. But, 7 years ago I got pregnant with my first child and I went back to smoking the minute that baby was no longer using my body for a hotel. Same with Baby #2.

The terrible thing was that by that time I no longer wanted to be shackled to smoking and had started trying to quit. I would give up so frequently that I felt like a constant failure.

When you repeat messages like:

I suck. I'm a loser. I'm a failure. I hate myself. Why am I so selfish? I hate myself for this. I'm so humiliated by my failure. What is wrong with me? I'm a horrible human being. I'm such a bad example to my children. I'm a bad parent. I stink.

Well, it has a real and significant impact on your self esteem. You really start to feel like a loser and a failure becuase you are failing over and over.

When you start taking Chantix, one of the most significant things you can do for yourself, to reinforce your quit, is to stop the negative self-talk.

You're not a failure. You get to stop being a failure now.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Dirty Laundry

Where are you in your Chantix Quit?

If you really look at this picture you'll see my 18-month-old baby in the dryer. I was folding clothes and he climbed in to eat his orange.

There are lots of responses a person can have to this type of thing.

1. Laugh and take a picture. Focus on the dopamine getting to your brain. Experiencing joy in its moments and appreciating the little things in life.

2. Anger. Who the hell would let her baby climb in the dryer? Someone call CPS and report this! or Get out of that dryer! Don't you ever do that again! Bad Baby, Bad!

3. Fear and catastrophizing. Oh my God, what if the baby could do this while it's on? What if he locks himself in there?

4. Slam the dryer door shut and turn it on. That will teach you!

What's your most likely response right now?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Dopamine Raspberries

The other day my 18 month old baby learned to blow raspberries. I do it to him, he learned to do it to me. He blew raspberries on my stomach for a full 30 minutes and I laughed big belly laughs with my daughter the whole time.

That's dopamine to the brain.

The key to quitting smoking is all about the dopamine, so sayeth the scientists.

They say that's why Chantix works. Smoking no longer produces the dopamine in your brain.

But, you need dopamine. You don't just want it kinda. You absolutely must have joy in your life or you will shrink up and die. No joke.

I'm lucky, I've got two kids so there are sources of love, joy and pleasure in my life. Maybe you have a dog or cat, nieces or nephews, grandchildren, best friends, spouses or lovers that bring joy into your life. If you have none of that I'm here to tell you - go get it.

Pyschological Addiction

Many smokers find that the medication is working, but something else is holding them back, like Ginger and Jennifer over on BlogFabulous. Chantix is going to help break the addiction cycle for you - but there is a lot of emotional, mental work for you to do to finally really let go.

Jennifer, still has thinking that tells her "I deserve these special few." You have the power to change thinking. Tell yourself over and over that you "deserve to be free of the shackles of smoking." Repetition works when changing thinking. Repetition is effective.

Also, you must examine what you're still getting out of it and what you don't want to let go of. If you live alone, perhaps smoking was your company. It may sound odd, but people who live alone need company and can use smoking to fill that need. It may be breaking up the monotony of alone-living.

Pavlov Dog yourself. By that I mean, stop buying cigarrettes and force yourself to pay $5 a pack for any cigarrette you smoke. If you cheat you must give the pack away then buy more if you cheat again. Penalty.

Find a reward for yourself that isn't smoking. If you take 10 hot baths a day it won't be bad for you. If you drink a cold bottle of green tea it won't be bad for you. Taking a walk won't be bad for you. If you reward yourself with health and change your thinking you'll really be able to let go.

You're all right on track. This is the part where you realize the medication works, but you weren't only getting nicotine from smoking. You were getting friendship and understanding and company and distraction and meditation too.

You still deserve those things. You just have to find a new way to get it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Kindness To Self

Did anyone else see Oprah today? Dr. Christine Northrup was talking about how illness is often your body's way of saying "Stop treating me like crap." (my paraphrase.)

Bare with me gentlemen, her advice applies to all smokers (even if we're using the pronoun she there's an broader message so read on).

Let's start with this truth: smoking is a profoundly unkind thing to do to one's self.

A Biblical truth about Dr. Northrup's mind, body and soul health approach that applies to smoking is that it's about Putting away childish things.

Being unkind to self is not going to work anymore.

Quitting smoking is about putting away childish things.

The hopeful thing about her message is that we can actually change the outcome of our health by treating ourselves kindly and actively seeking joy.

Dr. Northrup said she wants to give us permission, as a doctor, to do the things that bring us pleasure for our health.

She recommends diet and exercise as a kindness to our bodies, meditation and sex.

Quitting smoking is about changing coping mechanisms and I encourage you all to find a way to treat yourself kindly. Ask yourself - would I want this for my child? Let's face it, we inherently believe our children deserve kindness, but if we believed we deserved kindness we wouldn't have smoked.

Don't give up the meditation. Smokers meditate. What do you think all those smokes when making difficult decisions were about? Just because you don't smoke doesn't mean you give up the meditating. It might feel unnatural or weird to sit quietly alone and breathe for 2-3 minutes without a cigarette. But, you need those minutes to clear your mind and think things through. Take them. You deserve them and they are a kindness to your self.

We totally deserve this. I do and you do too.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Want To Smoke, But Don't

Yes, I sometimes still think "I want a smoke." Then I think, "Oh no, I don't!"

I know a woman who chews nicotine gum - has for over 20 YEARS.

Perhaps it's a good thing that Chantix isn't that pleasant to take? We are, after all, addicts. We wouldn't want to trade a cig. addiction for a Chantix addiction, do we?

Carnival of All Substances

Hey Non-Smokers. Since smoking is the "gateway drug" smoking could be the first addiction you quit or the last. You may realize along the way that perhaps the alcohol is getting out of control, or the sugar, or the negativity, whatever.

Therapydoc has been so kind as to include Quit Coping in her Carnival of All Substances. Lots of great reading about addiction recovery and don't think for a minute that quitting smoking isn't addiction recovery.

Addiction Off

by Tracee Sioux

My own unscientific opinion about how Chantix works is that smoking during the first week clues in the brain that this is the addiction that needs to be turned off. I am not a doctor so I can't get more scientific than that. But, I think there has been ample evidence to suggest that when a person becomes addicted to something whether it's a drug, alcohol or cigarettes there is a brain receptor which becomes "miswired" if you will and tells your brain "you must have this to lead a happy life."

In addiction recovery, they call it addict thinking or stinking thinking. In recovery one of the things you might learn is how to will yourself into a different thought process. While your brain continues to say, "You need a cigarette," you try to change the thinking to "cigarettes are bad for me" through repetition. It's effective, but it's a painful and tiresome process. It could take literally years of determinedly praying and willing for this method to really be effective. Those years, to my recollection of being dependent on prescription anti-anxiety medication, are painful ones. In no way do they not suck. This pill, Chantix, took 2 months to change the actual thought process about my smoking addiction.

I feel completely cured of my 20 year addiction to cigarettes. I took this twice-daily pill for two months and I have no more need for cigarettes. I even went to visit my whole family for an entire week with a baby in a mini-van, usually a major trigger for me, and didn't even think about smoking. At no time did I want to kill any one of my relatives and no one wanted to kill me, at least not because I was jonesing for a smoke. Before, every time I tried to quit smoking my husband would stash one around the house to toss at me when he felt he couldn't take anymore crap without considering murder or divorce. (Total enabler.)

Considering my previous obsession and/or addiction to smoking my liberation from the habit is a miracle. Not a minor one either. The misery, crankiness, irritability of "trying to quit" for several years was terrible. Simply the fact that I couldn't stop thinking about them as something I needed, (even after quitting for nine months at a time during pregnancies) is a testament to how addicted I was. After taking Chantix for an easy two months it is as though the addiction has been turned off. Also, I noticed that my desire for other addictive substances is being effected. For instance, my desire for drinking a beer or having a glass of wine has also been greatly reduced.

The relevant piece of information for the non-smoking general public here is that an addiction might be "cured" through medication. Think of the freedom this would provide for millions of people in America and around the world. If Chantix can do this for smokers, what might a similar drug do for the alcoholic? What about the crystal-meth addict? What about people in chronic pain from illness or injuries who avoid taking addictive medications they might safely use if there were a cure for addiction?

Who doesn't know an addict? Who doesn't love an addict? Who prays that their own addict might overcome their addiction? Think of all the people who wouldn't be in prison if they had freedom from their addictions? We could save millions of tax-payer dollars by curing people of their addictions with medication like Chantix. In 2007 alone the President's Drug Control Budget called for $12.9 billion to continue the war on drugs. Think of all the families that might be saved, divorces that might be avoided, children who wouldn't be abandoned, financial ruin that might be skirted if there was a cure for other addictions. Addicts might once again become productive citizens as opposed to the criminals addictions make them become.

I'm someone who has walked the path of being addicted and using substances to pacify feelings until becoming dependent on them. I can speak from a place where I know that addictions can be overcome through Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, therapy, faith, prayer, changes in lifestyle, stress management, rehab and just plain holding on to your ass through recovery, but it's not as easy as it looks. Some people just don't have it in them to do it without medication. Many die, many go to prison, many lose their children, many lose themselves, many stay shackled to their addictions even through sobriety, all are at-risk for relapse.

Medications like Chantix could prove to be a break-through in one of the most destructive health epidemics ever experienced - addiction.

I'm not the only one who thinks so either.

"The biggest thrill is that this drug, which has already proved safe for people trying to stop smoking, is now a potential drug to fight alcohol dependence," said Selena Bartlett, a neuroscientist with the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center at the University of California, San Francisco who led the study. Details appear this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Read the whole story here.

Originally published on So Sioux Me.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

What Have I Done?

Thursday I was minding my own business and watching Grey's Anatomy, when I had a massive attack of smoker's regret.

One of the patients had tongue cancer and was at risk of losing her tongue, quite possibly to never speak again. But, at least she would have a chance to live. I wonder how one gets tongue cancer I thought. Followed by, Oh s#@&, she probably smoked for 20 years or something like, like . . . like ME.

I've never been a big fan of regret as an emotion. What a waste of time, really.

But, since having children I'm having pangs of regret. Big awful ones in which I pray deeply and emphatically - Please God, don't make me pay for this. Don't make me pay in terrible awful ways that will hurt my children and cause them heartbreak and pain. Please God, forgive me, absolve me, save me.

My smoking was connected to youth. By youth I mean the illusion of immortality. When I started smoking I was 13 freaking years old. Just a stupid rebellious child. Really I thought the odds of being 30 were kind of far out and I thought 50 was old and no one cares if they die when they're that old. Stupid, stupid, stupid. I guess I thought nothing like that would ever happen to me. Nothing like death or oldness would happen to me.

Besides, I was going to quit when I had kids. I wasn't going to be truly addicted, not like those other smokers. I'd get pregnant and never go back to it. I guess I didn't figure children would come so many years after I started smoking. And I didn't figure I would want a cigarette so bad after 9 months of not having one. I was addicted, addiction messes with the processes of the brain.

Can anyone else relate to begging God not to make you pay the consequences of smoking?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Change & 2000 Parts

Loretta writes on BlogFabulous: My main complaints are a short fuse and absent mindedness. I had to drive back home this morning because I left my work cell phone at home charging. I seem to sleep very well every other night. I am having strange and fun dreams on the sleeping nights. On the restless night, I swear I check the clock every hour.

People are creatures of habit. We live a great deal of our lives on auto-pilot. When we change something, anything, it throws us off. One change makes everything we do feel awkward.

Try this to gain a little perspective: next time you shower do things opposite of how you normally do them. If you're a top to bottom bather, wash your hair last not first. If you usually shave your face before showering, try do it after your shower. Notice how strange and awkward doing it in the wrong order makes you feel.

A shower is something we usually perform on auto-pilot. It's not even an addictive behavior, it's just something we do so efficiently that we don't have to think about it. We don't have to wash our hair before we shave our legs - we just always do it that way. When we switch it up there aren't negative or permanent consequences, but it does make it harder to make sure everything gets completed on time.

Some things you might notice by switching up your routine:
* Forgot to perform a task, like conditioning your hair or shaving your armpits. You don't normally forget, but not doing your routine threw you off and you had to reorient yourself.
* Forgot to switch up the routine. It might take you several times to conscientiously change your habits. You might do one thing different, but find half way through the shower you've gone back to auto-pilot and started doing things in order again.
* Felt "off", disoriented or distracted by the change in routine. Maybe you don't even feel "clean enough" even though you washed all 2000 parts.
* Ran late. Maybe it took you an extra 5 or 10 minutes to shower since you messed with your auto-pilot.

For many smokers, smoking was something that touched everything in your life. It's way bigger than a shower. You did it on auto-pilot and it was such a regular part of your life that you didn't conscientiously try to smoke 20 cigs a day, you just did it.

Habits are sneaky little creatures. They get under your skin and become part of you. Not doing something like smoking makes you feel off-kilter for a while. That's okay. Cut yourself some slack. Most of the things you might forget - like forgetting your phone or not locking the car doors or not packing your kids lunch - won't have long term negative consequences. Some things - like forgetting the actual kid - will have long term permanent consequences so be extra vigilant about those. But, let all the rest go for a while.

You can quit smoking. You just won't feel quite like yourself for a bit. That's okay.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Non-Smokers Are Like Toads

We have a pet, Isabella Toad, at our house right now. Last year my daughter and I caught some tadpoles and we watched them evolve into frogs. This year we found Isabella giving birth to about 50 tadpoles in a watering can. We're going to see how many make it to being toads.

It's a slow process and a fast process. If you watch it day by day, or check a tadpole several times a day there doesn't seem to be much progress. It seems to take forever and ever for the tail to shorten, for the stubs to grow into legs, for the little toes to sprout, for the head to form.

It's an exciting miracle, proof of God almost. And explanation of Darwin's Theory of Evolution in flesh and blood.

In retrospect is when it seemed to happen quickly. Once the tadpole has successfully transformed or evolved into a springy frog that's when you realize it only took a month or two for such dramatic change to happen.

That's the theory of relativity too isn't it? While it's happening it seems to take forever for you to feel better about not smoking. But, once it's over, you'll be able to think "hey that only took a couple of months."

Another applicable aspect of the tadpole to toad transformation is that you don't have to hate the tadpole to love the toad.

As someone that's transforming into a non-smoker, you don't have to decide that your smoking self was evil, horrible or worthless. You can decide that smoking is no longer serving you and you're ready to evolve into something better.

Today you might be a tadpole. But, soon (though it might feel like a slow process) you're going to be a full fledged toad.

Who knows, you may even turn into a Frog Prince?

Fit-Buff Carnival 18

New non-smokers don't want to miss the Fit-Buff Carnivals. It's information from all over the web to make your mind and body, well, fitter and buffer.

Since you quit smoking you're feeling like you can take on challenges. Get a little advice about sex or jogging or well, even quitting smoking.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Linky Loos and Maggie's Mind

Maybe you noticed the nice little blogroll in the side bar? That was made possible through the tireless legwork of one Maggie from Maggie's Mind. Maggie quit smoking with Chantix a 16 weeks ago and she's been spreading encouragement all over the blogosphere every minute since. Her data saved me a lot of leg work and time and I greatly appreciate all her comments on BlogFabulous and here as well.

She's got a great little website called Maggie's Mind. This link, Quitting Smoking Linky Loos, will hook you up with a post you will want to bookmark. It's got the low-down of tons of quitting smoking science articles, resources, websites, quit counters and lots more.

If you want a second opinion, you can always take a leisurely click over to Maggie's Mind where she too will have an encouraging word and the advice of an old Chantix sage.

You ROCK Maggie!

Rewire Your Brain

Kas stopped by BlogFabulous to share some of her concerns about taking Chantix to quit smoking. Although Ive been smoke free from this for 2 1/2 months, I wish I had never taken it. I took it for 1 month and 1 week. Go on some other discussion sites and look at the side effects that people are still having a year after quitting. I quit taking it the day I ran a red light and came to a screeching halt 6 inches from a police car. And sleepwalking outside, waking up with my house clean and not remembering it. No wonder I felt tired after sleeping for 8 hours. Not being able to put a logical sentence together. I have more shortness of breath now than I ever did as a smoker. . . . My opinion- it should never have been approved. Im waiting for the class action suit- and there will be one- I know there will.

Kas, It sounds like you're having a difficult time. If you are sleepwalking and finding it difficult to concentrate to this degree I would think a visit to your doctor is highly in order.

I don't want to make light of your concerns. I too feel more distracted and disoriented.

I think your concerns are valid. But, I think your blame is misplaced. I propose the more likely culprit for disorientation and distraction is addiction not Chantix.

Your brain missing it's usual coping strategy. If you always smoked when you drove and now you don't, your brain is miswired and you don't have anything to replace it.

Disclaimer: I'm not a doctor by any means, so don't hold me liable for my advice which is as a fellow non-smoker with some knowledge about addiction. It sounds like you're ready to sue someone - and I'd like for it to not be me.

I'm just suggesting that maybe it's not the medication - which you stopped taking 1-2 months ago. Consider that it's the lack of smoking which you did for long enough to rewire your brain. If your brain needed it to function and now it doesn't have it that could be why you're so distracted.

I started smoking when I was 13, my brain was still developing. How long did you smoke? Brains continue to make connections with habits and addictions. Being addicted to smoking - or alcohol or crystal meth or Xanex or pain killers or any substance - REWIRES the brain. That's what addiction is. The brain becomes dependent on the smoking to function. You trained your brain to need smoking to complete it's assigned tasks. You even associated deep breaths with smoking, which could be making it difficult for your body to perform even that function without smoking.

It becomes rewired like this: When we drive we smoke. When we transition from task to task we smoke. Before we sleep we smoke. When we wake up we smoke. To relax we smoke. To think we smoke. To work out a problem we smoke.

Your brain connected smoking to helping you think. So of course you're having trouble thinking without it.

The great and wonderful news is that this isn't permanent. This is a side effect of addiction recovery. It happens to every single addict. It's not an issue unique to Chantix use. You have to retrain your brain to do all the things you do without the smoking. It's hard and uncomfortable and will take a while, but it's not a permanent disorientation.

You can try to learn something new to rebuild your brain cells. You can retrain your brain in a learning activity like Kundalini Yoga for Beginners & Beyond or knitting or Seduko or Radica Brain Games or working puzzles like Shape By Shape. If you're worried about driving you might try learning a language from audio tapes like French 101 (Learn to Speak French with The Travel Linguist) while you drive to engage your brain and keep it focused.

This is going to take a while. Lowering our expectations about recovery time is necessary. You quit smoking 2 months ago. That's a very short period of time in terms of addiction recovery. A more reasonable amount of time to adjust to not smoking is one to two years. Your brain will begin to function properly again. You can help it along. Time will work wonders too.

Hang in there Kas. The good news is that you're a non-smoker and if you never go back to smoking, you only have to live through this once.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Smoking and Baby Teeth

Over at BlogFabulous sweet Tara says: I am SCARED TO DEATH. I’ve been ready, ready, ready and now that it is here I keep telling myself no, no, no….I’m not ready!!! Why can’t I remember how I have felt for the last 15 years when it comes to this day? I can’t believe what smoking does to you. I honestly feel it’s worse than an illegal drug. Its availability makes it awfully hard to quit. I am determined. I have been keeping up with the Get-Quit program and wrote my goodbye letter. That felt childish at first, but it is awesome.

What a great idea - a good-bye letter. I suppose in a lot of ways BlogFabulous and Quit Coping is a continuing good-bye letter.

Of course, you're scared Tara. Change is hard and this isn't like I think I'll try short hair instead of long hair this year. This is a change that effects how you react to and cope with life. It touches everything. It touches eating and sleeping and waking and working and resting and feeling and being.

It takes a vast amount of courage to quit smoking. Chantix will make it a different kind of hard. It's not going to be hard like it was going cold turkey or with the patch. Just focus on being grateful for the help taking Chantix has provided. But, then don't dismiss that it feels bad.

The science behind happiness says that gratefulness makes it easier for us to go through hard stuff. Gratefulness makes it easier for us to maintain happiness during and in spite of hard times.

As Robin brought up, we can decide that it is okay to feel bad. Just feel it. Understand that it's temporary and necessary. Understand that you can handle this like you lost baby teeth as a child. It hurt to wiggle, it hurt to pull it out, it didn't hurt all the time, but it was sensitive to eat with and you give up apples and corn on the cob for a while even though they're your favorite foods. Sometimes you cried when you lost one and you're scared that something terrible has happened. It's hard to believe when everyone around you tells you that it's going to be alright - that this is a good thing.

Then when it's gone your tongue goes back to the hole over and over because it's new and feels different. Then a new tooth comes to fill the hole. The new tooth is better and will last longer and will provide necessary nourishment to you. You couldn't chew steak with out it. It will allow you to go back to eating corn and apples. You never get the old tooth back. It's permanent. But, now you don't need it. It was necessary and there was no way around it. Then, when one tooth has it's new place it's time for another tooth to wiggle and annoy and fall out and you replace that one.

Quitting smoking is like having the hole in your mouth. It's function in your life is going to be replaced. It has to be a permanent change and you have all the power to decide what you're going to replace it with. Make it something that will serve you well.

You can totally do this Tara. So can All the rest of you! I join Robin in sending you a virtual Hug!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Holding On

I bought this used mini-van. I was really, really excited that it came with a clicker. I know it sounds trite, but everyone has a clicker now and I thought it was cool that I'd finally have one. It's convenient and it just seems so old fashioned to lock and unlock doors with a key.

I wrote this whole article about buying a mini-van and quitting smoking and how my identity was less Rebel than Soccer Mom at Soccer Mom Transformation Complete.

Okay, so the clicker didn't work. I tried a new battery and the light came on, but it didn't work.

In May I bought that van. Tonight in Freaking OCTOBER I stopped carrying the clicker on my key chain. I had been carrying the click on my key chain everywhere I went for the last 5 months because I wasn't ready to give up on the clicker. I was attached to the idea that it might resolve itself and work. That I would think up a solution that would make it work.

It was hard to let it go. That's just a silly clicker. Irrelevant. Meaningless.

You're attached to smoking and your identity as a smoker. Obviously, that's WAY bigger and harder. We were really, really, really attached to the idea that we could smoke and it would somehow work out for us. And it's super hard to let that go.

It's okay to let it be hard.

Right To Reinvent Self

Quitting smoking is really a total shift in Identity. With a capital "I." This, smoking, was a part of who I was. Am. I identified with I can if I want. You can't make me stop it." Pass all the rules you like and attach all the sin tax - YOU CAN'T MAKE ME STOP!!! I am a smoker! Smokers have rights! F YOU!

Okay, when we become grownups we have to let go of certain things because they become destructive to us. I know that when I try to drink alcohol like I used to I can literally be ill for DAYS now. I just don't recover like I used to and I have to be a MOM during those days. It's just not practical for me to party hard anymore.

But that doesn't mean it's easy to let go of that identity. I think quiting smoking has a lot to do with "growing up." Some people do it at 60, some 40, I did it at 33. There's a right time for everyone - but yeah an alteration in identity is a way bigger freaking deal than just breaking a nasty habit.

But, you have a right to change your mind. Everyone can reinvent themselves. Everyone and anyone can reinvent themselves every day if they want to. Look at Madonna - she does it frequently enough. She does something until it stops serving her and she decides to try something else. We can be like that.

This isn't serving me anymore. I can let go of it. It's hard but I reserve the right to reinvent self. I might try on a few different things before I settle on something that works for me. I even reserve the right to reinvent myself as many times as I need to before I die.

Once you realize smoking was an inherent part of your identity you can take steps to mourn it and let it go and open the doors to reinvention.

That's why I refer to myself as a non-smoker. It's a shift in Identity. One that I'm claiming for myself.

Get Out Of Jail Free Coupons

Jen over at BlogFabulous asked: I do think this time I will quit but I am afraid of what happens once the Chantix is over???

Something else. That's the answer. You have a lifetime to relearn new coping strategies. You don't have to be right the first time. Perfection is not required. If you handle something bad, say your sorry, move on try something else.

Try to pick good coping strategies. Drinking water, taking a grown-up time out, start knitting, deal with the real reasons why you smoked, face some of your fears, get active, think of different choices you can make. Try yoga.

Try not to do this: drink alcohol or self-medicate or over-eat to fill the void where smoking was. That will only create more problems and make you want to smoke more.

When you're feeling any of your feelings that used to be connected with smoking just think Okay, this time I'm going to choose to go for a walk. Or say, Wait, I haven't had a break all day. I'm going to take 15 minutes to do something nice for myself.

Good luck with the boyfriend quitting at the same time. Cut each other slack, lots of slack. Maybe even make some get out of jail free coupons for when one of you tries a coping strategy that backfires.

That way you can let some stuff go. Take the coupon forgive each other and say, well at least you're not smoking, but next time please try something else.

Thursday, October 4, 2007


It's almost funny that the Chantix people included recommended dosing instructions with their miracle pill.

The think about smoking is this - we did it anyway.

Take this post on Blog Fabulous, and please Robin don't think I'm picking on you in particular because you can read it into ALL smoker's here and what they say:

Robin says: My ‘research’ on withdrawal was not a good idea. :-) I tried stopping Chantix after a week of not smoking. I’m still hanging in there but am going through the absolute meltdowns we all remember from trying to quit cold turkey. I started taking the Chantix again last night and eagerly wait for some relief to kick in. After several days off Chantix I didn’t want to start with the full dose. I’m back up to just over half. Tomorrow I’ll be back on full dose. Don’t do what I did and stop taking it too soon! Chantix does more than I realized. Without the Chantix I’ve gone into full blown panic not having a smoke. It’s been 10 days without smoking so I thought I’d be OK. It was getting so easy on Chantix I thought I didn’t need it. Wrong! I even unsubscribed to this blog. I really missed the connection. It does help!

The rebellious nature of smoking can't be discounted, or it's a mistake if you do discount it. We KNEW smoking was bad for us - how could we not know? In 2005 my 3 year old knew the possible consequences.

But, somehow we all, everyone of us thought WE, specifically me and you, wouldn't get addicted. We were special. We were above the rules. We had enough self control to not let smoking take over our lives. We didn't have to follow the rules because regular rules don't apply to us.

So, this is an extremely hard thing to admit and accept and change about our selves. I'm sure all of us see the same pattern in other areas of our lives.

Who stopped taking the Chantix before the recommended time? Why?

Me - I only took it for two months and then the nausea and the eating regiment became distracting.

We don't want to do what we're told. We don't want to follow the instructions, we don't want people telling us what we can and can't do. Period.

My great big lie is to say I can do it when I go out drinking with other smokers. Realistically I take a big risk and that's how ALL my other quits failed. But, I still want to believe that I can be a social smoker. That I won't be super-hooked. That I can pick up cigarettes and put them down whenever I feel like it. I have the hardest time walking away from the idea that I can smoke sometimes. I just want it and I want it bad.

Well, we have to accept that sometimes we can't have things the way we want them. If it were easy to quit smoking without Chantix none of us would have failed at it before and I think most of us have failed at it more than once.

But, guess what? Robin and me and everyone else just gets to try again. It's not bigger or smaller than that. She's going to get back on the "quitting smoking is hard and I need all the help I can get" Chantix train and she has my full support.

It's okay to need help. You don't have to quit smoking cold turkey anymore and you don't have to have been right.

You can just try again is all. The only real failure is to stop trying.

Virtual High Five Robin. Of course you can do this. This is a big deal and you deserve all the support you can get.


Sometimes I wander around the house aimless. Mostly, they are times when I was going to be smoking, but now I'm not so I just sort of pace from room to room like I'm looking for something I lost. I'm not lost, I just don't have something else to fill that void. It's not like there was anything stressful or wrong, maybe I was just bored and so would normally break the monotony by smoking. Maybe I just needed a bread from whatever job I was doing. Maybe my brain just needed some rest. But, I don't realize I'm doing it until I've taken a couple of laps and I'm just standing there slightly confused about my mission.

Anyone else relate?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Ugly Motiviation

Could there be a more motivating photo? I found this on Why Quit.
Contrary to popular addiction psychology that says "quit for yourself," I say quit for whoever you can as long as you quit.

A Lovely Perfume

When I walk by a smoker now I feel embarrassed. I smelled like that. Ainsley's mom smelled like that. I dated people while smelling like that. I kissed my husband and my mouth smelled and tasted like that. Just embarrassing. Icky.
All new non-smokers deserve to buy an expensive perfume or cologne. Cause this is the first time anyone will be able to smell you - without the cloud of stink.
Yeah, you smell great. You smell like you, without the addiction cloud tainting your natural pheromones. You smell like Mom or Dad or Lover or Spouse or Daughter. People have memories of smells that are stronger than anything else. Often you'll hear people smell their shirts when a loved one is gone. At least now, hopefully my kids and husband and extended family won't think "me" smells like an ashtray. I hope that memory disappears from their memory of me. I'm replacing it with a lovely Victoria's Secret scent. What smell do you hope your loved ones associate with you?

Introduce Yourselves

Please tell me your smoking story. Why did you start? Why are you quitting? Is this your first try? I want to support your quit.