Friday, October 30, 2009

Money Get Back

What helps to keep me from not smoking is pondering all the positive aspects of life without cigarettes. I smell better, for one, both as far as my own body aroma and my ability to detect other fragrances is concerned. Food has more taste and I find that I get by with far less Tabasco sauce. I don't wake up in the morning hacking and coughing. I don't get one side of my face wet and cold when I drive in bad weather because there is no need to roll down a window for smoke to escape. I don't have to stand out in the rain at work sucking on a cig. I generally feel better with fewer headaches, sore throats, stuffed sinuses, etc, etc, etc.

I also don't have to spend money on cigarettes...and it's adding up....big time.

This habit cost me around $10 a day. I guess that's not much as far as addictions go. I know crack addicts that go through hundreds every day. Still, ten bucks is ten bucks.

$70 a week - that's a night out at a decent restaurant and a tank of gas. $280 a month - that's a car payment or the utility bills. $3360 a year - a pretty nice vacation. Over the years I've pissed away a great deal of money for cigarettes. It's time I stopped giving my hard earned cash to the tobacco industry.

Keep your hands off my stack, R.J. Reynolds.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

On a Roll

I'm on my tenth day of not smoking. That's pretty good for me because the last several attempts at quitting, all I was able to manage was a couple of days...maybe three.

Do I think about smoking?

Hell yeah.

But I'm able to choose not to smoke and feel all right about it. It's been a very long time since I have been able to do that.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

One Week!

Seven days. No cigarettes. Not one. Not even a puff.

That may seem like no big deal to a lot of people and I know that I've pretty much devoted the whole week to yammering about not smoking...but this is a huge thing for me. I've been trying to quit for years. Usually I could do it for about 3 days before relapsing, with all the resulting frustration and guilt along with the bonus of an increase in the amount I smoked. It was a vicious cycle that I could not figure a way out of, and it was killing me.

Something clicked this time. I don't know what or how, but something is different about this attempt. Oh...there are still the urges, the temptations, the self-rationalizations; but it doesn't seem to have any power over me any more. At long last, I feel like I have control.

And....if I can control this....I can control other things about my body as well.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Adding Up

I really like the quitmeter thingie that is on the top of my blog here. I've always believed that if you don't have some way of tracking a goal, you may as well call it wishful thinking. The meter is an ongoing reminder of progress...real progress...especially for those times when it doesn't seem that I'm making any difference at all.

I look up at that quitmeter this morning, my sixth since my latest attempt to quit smoking. I'm facing the trial of going through the weekend. I'm facing increasingly intrusive thoughts of rationalizing smoking again. I get worried. Then I study on the meter. Nearly $50 saved. Well, that's good, but it's not like I'm impoverished and those nicotine patches and cinnamon toothpicks cost money too.

200 plus cigarettes not smoked.

Whoa. That's a carton. I went through a carton in five days? Two hundred cigarettes. Two hundred butts. Somewhere around a thousand times I inhaled smoke into my lungs. When did I become such a heavy smoker? Why did I let it go on for so long?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Here Come De Judge

I finally get a chance to use my abilities, expertise, and talent to the fullest at my job today. There is to be a chili cook-off in my department and I'm to be one of the judges. This might be a good thing because I love chili. It also might be a bad thing because I love chili....and my standards are pretty high. Kansans seem to have an aversion to spicy foods. For instance; what they call flaming hot salsa here in Kansas, they use in Texas to rub on a baby's gums to soothe them when they are teething.

I've also noticed that the chili in this neck of the woods seems to be very heavy on beans and light on the beef. That's not necessarily bad. I actually prefer my chili con frijoles. I'm not smoking today, so my senses will be sharper than usual and there won't be any unfortunate lighter accidents as I perform my judiciary duties.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Tell Me Lies.... Tell Me Sweet Little Lies

Okay. I've completed three days without smoking. I've saved around $30 that I would have normally spent on cigarettes, which about covers the cost of nicotine patches for a week. My teeth are clean and my breath is nicely scented thanks to all the cinnamon toothpicks I've been chomping on. I can actually smell things again and can take a deep breath without feeling like my lungs are going to seize up on me. My smoker's cough is fading. I have more O2 in my blood and have a bit more energy during the day.

This is a dangerous time for me.

It's dangerous because all the immediate ill effects of smoking are fading and I only have memories of what I liked about smoking. This is the point when I start talking to myself and...when the addict voice lies.

and oh the lies I can lie to myself

"Go ahead and have one. You don't have to completely stop. If you just have one or two cigarettes a day, that will make it easier to quit. Well, (insert name of friend) smokes and they are perfectly healthy. You can smoke tomorrow because it will be a stressful day. Smoking keeps you from overeating."

and on, and on, and on.....with the always lurking whisper from that addict voice inside of me; "no one will ever know"

I've discovered that in this stage of the quitting process, I can find a lot of excuses to relapse. Everything from being stressed to being bored, they all sound good. The only way I've figured how to fight against those sweet little lies is to mentally shout "YOU LIE!" every time they pop up in my brain's self dialogue.

It's working for me so far.

I may start having to yell it out loud if my inner liar gets more persistent. That should make for interesting times at work.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


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This is what I put in my mouth three or four dozen times a day rather than a lit cigarette. It actually works pretty well for those especially tough times; like driving, talking to people who are smoking or smell like smoke, after a meal, watching TV, being on the computer, reading, sitting, standing,....come to think of it...just being awake. Hot little cinnamon toothpicks seem to do the trick and allows me to get past that momentary urge to light up a cig; and, really, the urge only lasts for a second or two.

I have a two tube a day habit now.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Counting Flowers on the Wall

The hard part, the really hard part about giving up cigarettes, is not so much giving up the cigarettes as giving up everything you've always done with cigarettes....or at least getting use to doing them without smoking.

Take mornings for instance. I'd always start my morning off with coffee and a few smokes. Now, I just have my coffee and stare dumbly into space while my right hand makes automatic movements to grab a non-existent pack and lighter. I drink coffee, I want a cigarette. I don't drink coffee, I want a cigarette even more. I want one if I check my email. I want one when I write on my blog. I want one if I read the paper. I want one when I turn on the TV. Thank goodness Captain Kangaroo is no longer on the air in the morning.

This is what makes giving up this particular addiction so difficult. If you've smoked for years, cigarettes become entrenched in virtually every aspect of your life. Take the cigarettes away and you're left with a lot of holes in your day and each and every one of them is a pit to fall back into relapsing. The real work in recovery is filling those holes...quickly. Leave them there for long and they will refill themselves with what use to be there. That is a fact that I've learned from the experience of several prior attempts.

Now, don't tell my I've nothing to do.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Boss Day I know that I often complain about my workload and the supervisor that gives it to me but, in actuality, I'm quite fond of both my job and my boss. My boss is pretty demanding. She expects a very high level of performance and, though it irritates me at times, it has made me excel in my profession. She also is probably one of the hardest working individuals in the agency where I am employed. My little domain of responsibility is puny compared to what she has to keep track of. I try to keep that in mind when I feel overwhelmed with my job. My boss has never demanded that others work harder than herself.

So happy boss day, Lisa. You don't even know about this blog so you'll never know that a primary reason I stay in your department is because I believe it's the best in the agency... and that's largely due to you.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Parable

I was with my wife this morning doing a bit of shopping at the local Walmart. I know, Wally World is not the socially/politically correct place to go; but I'm a working stiff who can't afford Whole Food Nation or the Gap. So, if you think I'm a bad liberal for shopping there, bite me.

Anyway...whilst I was wheeling out my cart of stuff to the parking lot and grumbling why coffee was over eight freaking bucks a can, I noticed a couple of young girls fighting over a balloon. Their mother was stashing bags of groceries in her car and the girls were really starting to go at each other.

"Lemme hold it!"

"No! It's mine!"

"But I wanna hold it too!"


Mom turned to the girls with that look of soul shriveling fury that only a mother who has reached her limits can generate. Without saying a word, she reached over, grabbed the balloon, and let it go. The girls just stood there with their mouths open watching it drift away as the mom ordered both of them into the car.

There's a moral there, but I'll let you figure it out yourself.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

It's What I Do

I have a lot of people ask me what I do for a living. It's really hard to talk much about my job, mainly because there is a lot of confidentiality involved. No...I'm not a secret agent or brothel madam; I just deal with people and the things I deal with are rather personal. What I can say is that I try and help others. The video below is probably the best way I can describe a typical work day without giving any details of what I do during the day. I go from place to place and attempt to keep bad things from happening to complete strangers. Most of the time, like the guy in the video, I'm perceived as something of an asshole by those who don't understand what I'm doing and why and that I probably saved them from disaster.

It's what I do.

...and I wouldn't do anything else

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

I Love Coffee

I really do. I've been drinking coffee for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid, I'd mix it up with creamer and sugar and always thought it was a great treat. Now...before you go off on my parents for letting me do this, keep in mind that it's probably a much better option than soda pop. Plus the caffeine most likely tamed my ADD tendencies without the need for the amphetamine pills they throw at every kid these days who show the slightest hint of being energetic.

Later on, I rejected the cream and sugar to take my coffee straight up black. I loved the flavor. I loved the smell. Even in the Navy, where the coffee was usually strong enough to take the paint off a bulkhead, I drank it by the gallon. Wherever I have lived, the one appliance that I considered a necessity of life was a coffee pot. If I was broke, I bought coffee over fact...there were times I used coffee to kill hunger because I didn't have any food.

I love coffee. I've tried to limit my consumption by drinking tea once in awhile. I like tea, but it just doesn't do quite what I need. I've tried de-caff but it tastes terrible and my brain isn't fooled one little bit, usually giving me a grand headache until I deliver the real stuff.

Coffee rules my day.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Just What is it that I Really Want?

From the time we are born, we all want things. At first, it's pretty simple. You want to be warm. You want to be fed. You want to be dry. Not much but I think it's the start of a life-long path of confusing what we want most with what we want at the moment. In the beginning, it's all the same. Later on in gets complicated.

Try an experiment sometime. Ask a kid what they want to be when he or she grows up. You'll hear some lofty goals and enthusiastic passion that you won't find in many adults. Now, take that same kid to a candy store and ask what they want.

Different answer.

Instant gratification. It's not necessarily a bad thing. Biologically, it's a good survival instinct. Those that take advantage of opportunities when they come across them tend to have a better chance at surviving. Not so great a thing when what you want at the moment interferes with what you want the most. Eating lots of food when it might be a long time before the next meal..good. Eating lots of food because there is lots of food...not good.

This is a problem that I deal with almost every day. The decision as to whether I want something now or maintain what I want the most; which may take a very long time to obtain, if ever. Success is the continuation toward a goal with the knowledge of what must be traded in day to day desire. Do I want a piece of pie or do I want to have a flat belly? Do I want to watch my favorite television show or do I want to be physically fit? Do I want a cigarette or do I want to have a healthy life?

What do I want the most?