Anything is Possible!

With Love, Hope, and Perseverance


6 Comments

It’s Possible to Stop Smoking For Good

Image

(Original version posted November 19, 2013)

The Great American Smokeout is coming once again. On the Thursday before Thanksgiving, smokers get the opportunity to quit, knowing others are facing the same challenge. If you smoke, Thursday could be a practice run. Or it could be the day you quit for good. All those other times you tried, but didn’t make it were practice.  If you go three days without smoking, or just three waking hours, that’s practice.

I know it’s not an easy habit to break. That’s because smoking isn’t just a habit, it’s an addiction. If you do something twenty times a day, there will be many potential triggers to contend with.

Mark Twain is credited with saying that quitting smoking is easy because he did it hundreds of times.

During the 10 years I smoked, I must have tried to quit at least 20 times. Back in the late 70’s, I’d regularly quit for an hour or two. One day, I threw half a pack of cigarettes in the trash only to fish them out again two hours later. Then, after smoking one, I broke the rest in half , so next time I had to tape them back together again. They tasted awful when I got to the taped part. This is not recommended. Once, I ran what was left in the pack under the kitchen faucet. They sort of fell apart when I tried to dry them out in the oven. So eventually I went out and bought another pack.

I quit for several months until I thought I could smoke occasionally like a couple of my friends. First I started bumming off my friends, then I regressed to buying whole packs. I tried to hide my addiction from my family. When I got caught, I was ashamed, but fell back into full blown relapse.

Every effort and every relapse taught me lessons. I learned that when it came to cigarettes, I was an addict. I could not smoke occasionally. I learned I had to stay away from triggers as much as possible. I finally quit for good after I studied addiction and recovery, and after I got sick and tired of throwing away my money and gasping for breath when I climbed a flight of stairs. Smoking never did fit with my values. I loved nature. I was supposed to be promoting health. It didn’t make sense. I had to have faith that a power greater than myself could restore me to sanity.

I needed a plan.

I read everything I could get my hands on about quitting smoking. I wrote down the benefits of  quitting including how much money I would save. I made long lists of alternatives- things I would do when I wanted a cigarette, like blowing bubbles, taking a walk, looking at pictures of diseased lungs, taking a shower, screaming into a pillow- whatever it took. I made a commitment.

The first week was the hardest. I put a dollar a day in a jar for each day I was smoke free. (That’s what a pack cost back in the old days)  Over the next few months, the cravings became less intense and further apart. After 60 days I bought myself a beautiful  tapestry with my reward money and hung it on my living room wall like a trophy. After 30 years, I’m usually turned off by cigarette smoke. But every couple years, upon smelling a faint whiff of cigarette smoke, I reminisce for about half a second.

Then I shake my head with a shudder and remember how thankful I am to be smoke free.

If you smoke and want to quit, it can be done.

The American Lung Association’s Freedom from Smoking Program teaches the four Ds:

Delay

Deep Breathing

Drink Water

Do something else

The cool thing about the four D’s is you can use them to help break any habit, or addiction, as one tool set of tools in your tool box.

For more information, go to

www.cancer.org/healthy/stayawayfromtobacco/

www.lung.org/stop-smoking/

Let me know if I can help!


Leave a comment

They Come Around

IMG_0030

Young pine tree on a cloudy day, growing in sandy soil

My son told me, “You’re the only one who’s making any sense right now.”

“I’m just glad you’re listening to me,” was the response I chose.

“I know,” he said. “It only took 28 years.”

There was a whole year when my son was in his early 20’s, living in the mountains on the other side of the state, when he wouldn’t even talk to me, let alone listen. It nearly broke my heart.

Now my son is a parent. His unexpected visit from several states away came with his own relationship crisis and an opportunity- a wake up call- for change.  He’s been calling me more lately.  And that’s totally okay.

I remember a few years ago, my dad was talking about some crazy thing I did in my early 20s. “Well, I didn’t have my head screwed on right back then, Dad.” I said. Dad’s laugh was one of great relief. He was so glad I’d finally realized this and that I’d lived to tell about it.

The lesson here is that we continue to love, even from a distance, and maybe they will come around. And even if they don’t, send love anyway.

I think about some of the parents I work with who’ve lost custody of their children as a result of addiction. When their parental rights are terminated, they wonder, “What do I have to live for?”  Of course they need to live for themselves, for the hope of a better future for themselves, but sometimes they aren’t ready to hear that.  So, I tell them: Keep working on yourself. Be the best person you can be. Someday, maybe years from now, your daughter (or son) might come looking for you. You want to be ready.  They might be angry, but they also might need your strength and your wisdom.

The seeds we plant sometimes take a long time to grow and God can write straight with crooked lines when we see God’s work from a distance.

Don’t give up. Keep sending love.

cloud heart

Heart Cloud at Wrightsville Beach