Quitting Smoking: Day 1

UCLA-SmokeFree-HeaderIts October 1st. I have vowed to myself to become a non-smoker starting today. After spending the last week really being conscious of my smoking, reducing how much I smoked each day, feeling the nicotine cravings, feeling the agitation in my mind as it feels it habitual blanket wearing away, I believe that I am ready to do this. Sure, there is some anxiety about it, a little bit of uncertainty in my decision and in my ability, but overall, its exciting.

I have bought gum in large quantities. I do believe my jaw will be cramping before the first week is up, but that is still better than the alternative. Smoking is a nasty, nasty habit.

As I was falling asleep last night, I was trying to get my head into the right framework to begin this new journey today. I wanted to get down to the core of my nicotine addiction thought processes. The weird thing is that all I could find was the belief that smoking has got to be the most disgusting, useless habit I’ve ever encountered. This is not a new thought. I’ve had it for quite some time and have continued with the habit anyway. ??? How does that happen?

Ok. I know how that happens. It is addiction. Knowing you really don’t want anything to do with the thing you are addicted to and doing it anyway. During this past week, there were times when I would be smoking a cigarette and decide to put it out because I didn’t want it only to catch the partial cigarette in the ashtray out of the corner of my eye minutes later and feel compelled to light it up. Stupid.

Today, I am going to have the mantra of “I am a non-smoker, I am a non-smoker, I am a non-smoker” to see if that helps me make it through the cravings a little bit easier. If nothing else, perhaps it will help me change the mental programming. Either way, today is the first day of being a non-smoker. I’m looking forward to being able to say its been a week, a month, a year of being a non-smoker, but right now, I’m looking forward to be able to say tomorrow that I have 1 day as a non-smoker and working on the second day. Deep breaths, here we go!!

Focusing on the Positive, A-Z; Day 26: Zoetic

zoeticZoetic

pertaining to or relating to life

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This word only shows up in medical or veterinarian dictionaries, but I was desperate for a word for the final post in this series. The ending letters in the alphabet have proven to be difficult one to find a descriptive positive word for! When I looked up the definition for this word at thefreedictionary.com, I found the definition quite fitting. Ok. I sometimes think a little differently than most, and make connections that don’t always make sense to others but do to me. It just is. For this word, zoetic, I found the definitions of pertaining to life and relating to life a little poetic… :-)

I’m honestly at a loss this morning as to what to write about the word zoetic. I’m a bit scatter brained this morning. Its day one of quitting smoking and I’m having a hard time making it past the thinking of a cigarette to forming intelligent thought (or opinions) about this word. My morning ritual has been altered and I’m feeling it along with the nicotine cravings that are both physical and mental. But this honestly is the wrong post to be chatting about that in.

Maybe it’s not really such an off topic topic. It relates to my life. It pertains to life. It’s just not what I want to right about here.

I have enjoyed this whole FotP series. I’ve learned a few new words along the way and it has caused me to stop and look a little closer at different aspects of my life from a different perspective. Maybe I’ll figure out a new series to write about that helps provide that for me. Self improvement seems to be my theme these days. We shall see what I come up with because I am certain that I am going to miss this.

Life is about living, experiencing all there is to experience, learning about different things and, I think, most importantly, learning as much about yourself and how that relates to the life you are in. It’s about connection. Laughing. Finding what fuels your soul. Its way too easy to get stuck in the negatives, but that only diminishes the amount of living you do in your life. Ok. That’s not necessarily true. Sometimes it is the getting stuck in the negatives that fuels one to pick up their skirts and run with all they have toward a more positive path. Negativity isn’t hard to find and the positive should be even easier to find. Make the decision to find the positive in all that you do or that comes into your life. What your life is really depends on you. Its taken me most of my lifetime to figure out that simple truth. Today, I will find the positive in the challenges that may arise and chase down the positive with the optimism and enthusiasm of a child. Wanna come?

Countdown to Quitting Smoking; Last day

cravings-yikesWell, tomorrow’s the day. I started taking stock of how the last week has gone with the slow progression of decreasing the amount of cigarettes I smoke. It has definitely been a bit of a roller coaster. I’ve gone back and forth in my thought processes, my belief that I can do this. Every time I have run into doubt, I have done my best to tell myself, repeatedly, that I can do this. I’ll make it.

Observing my nicotine level withdrawals has been quite the experience, as well. I think one thing that this week may have given me is the ability to be able to monitor my feelings, mentally and physically, without complete abstinence. I think this may be useful in getting through the next week, as I go through complete nicotine withdrawal…we shall see. I’m being hopeful.

I had 5 cigarettes, yesterday. Three would have been better, but is not how it went. At one point yesterday, I let go of monitoring my smoking and found that I quickly fell back into the old smoking habit. I had three cigarettes about an hour apart. Ok. Not a full three cigarettes. About 3 or 4 puffs into the third cigarette, I realized I had been smoking just because and put it out, asking myself why I was smoking when I didn’t really want it. Stupid mental habit is the only reason I could come up with. Honestly, I think this may be more difficult to change than going through the withdrawals will be. Withdrawals are straight forward. Mental habit is much more sneaky, and more demanding, I think.

I’m excited about tomorrow. It is the first day on the path to remaining nicotine free. Yes, I still have some anxiety over it, but I am feeling even more confident in my ability to do this. I’m really excited to get through the withdrawals, both physical and mental, and become a full-fledged non-smoker. Yeah, it makes me smile to think about it. Let’s do this thing!!

Focusing on the Positive, A-Z; Day 25: Young

youngYoung (adjective)

1

a :  being in the first or an early stage of life, growth, or development

b :  junior 1a

c :  of an early, tender, or desirable age for use as food or drink <fresh young lamb> <a young wine>

2
:  having little experience
3
a :  recently come into being :  new <a young publishing company>

b :  youthful 5

4
:  of, relating to, or having the characteristics of youth or a young person <young at heart>
5
capitalized :  representing a new or rejuvenated especially political group or movement

Young…its a state of mind to me. Yes, there are the young, those of earlier age, but when I think of young as applied to a person, I think of someone who has not forgotten what it is like to think about, experience, and enjoy life with the open-minded inhibition of a child. I admire these people. No matter what they have experienced in life, they are capable of keeping the responsibilities of being an adult from corrupting their world view. Fun is all about them, they strive to include it in all that they do, and it shows in their faces and posture.

I have always wanted to be this type of person, and I believe I was, to some extent. When I got clean in 2005, started to learn what responsibility looked and felt like, I started to lose some of that young-ness. I didn’t know how to balance being a responsible adult with staying young. Then, when we lost everything when the economy crashed at the end of 2008 and moved into our first RV, life demanded a higher level of responsibility. This event, and the 5+ years since then, also changed me a lot. I was devastated. This is where the left foot, right foot, repeat began for me. I lost what it meant to just be, period.

It wasn’t until around 2 or so years ago that I started to realize that I was no longer fun. I wasn’t having fun. I had narrowed my vision to see only what was needed to keep moving forward and stay alive. I made the mistake of not including staying young in the mix for what was needed for the forward progression. I’m working on it.  I still haven’t figured out the balance between being responsible and staying young, but I’m trying to make myself just stop and remember what staying young feels like and incorporating it into my life, again.

My camera helps me do that, some. When I’m out with my camera, I am removed from the daily responsibilities, looking at the world around me with open eyes and an open mind. I’m remembering what the excitement of finding a flower that has just barely started to open for the first time feels like, the thrill of having a bunny show up in some place I find unexpected…I’m taking the time to smell the roses.

This blog is helping with this, as well. It gives me the chance to hear where I’m at, mentally, because I don’t always know. Part of the beginning of left foot, right foot, repeat was putting aside my emotions. I am having to get back in touch with them in a more intimate way. I am finding the pieces of the map that lead me to the path back to the parts of me that I miss.

Another thing I have started doing is listening to comedy. It can be really hard to find comedy that makes me laugh like a child. I know that part of that is because I’m still in the healing process, but another part of it is the fact that there are a lot of comedians out there now that have a sense of humor that doesn’t tickle my funny bone. It’s not that they are bad comedians, it’s just that their humor and mine don’t mesh. I’m determined in my desire to find my young, again, though, so I continue to search to find the comedy that brings the giggles and belly laughs that take away the stresses that come along, if even for just that moment. It is said that laughter is the best medicine and I am doing whatever I can to bring more of it into my life.

Countdown to Quitting Smoking: 2 days left…

PanhandlingYesterday was crazy. I had a cigarette in the morning, blogged, went to work. I didn’t smoke for most of the day. That is, until around mid-afternoon, when I was crawling out of my skin, ready to eat people…lol. This is really difficult and I am not sure if it was the nicotine cravings that were agitating me so much or the mental habit of smoking. I think this would be at least a little bit easier if my husband didn’t still want cigarettes around despite having a vape pen. Knowing there is a cigarette available and it is all up to me to not smoke it is more challenging than if there weren’t any cigarettes around at all. I know this is probably just me trying to find an excuse for why I’m having a hard time, but I also know it is harder to walk away from something addictive if it is staring you right in the face. In the end, though, it is about will power and making a decision despite any uncomfortable feelings, mental or physical. By the end of the day, I had had 5 cigarettes (4 and a half, actually), so I am in line with my original plan. Sigh

It doesn’t help that I am stressed about money. Payday is a little too far away this time and I am certain I do not have enough gas in the van for the cleans I need to get to between now and the 2nd or 3rd. Tomorrow, we are doing a clean for a new client of the guy I’m working through. He selected Lance and I for this clean because he wants the best possible impression to be made. How flattering is that?! This adds to the stress, though, because I do not have all of the cleaning supplies I need to provide my best clean. The things I am the most worried about are oven cleaner and magic erasers, and the gas to get to the job. Since it is now officially fall, rain is the daily forecast, which means not being able to paint curbs to supplement the income and fill in cleaning supplies as needed. So, what did we do to try to fix the situation? Panhandled. It’s not something I’m proud of but a girl has to do what a girl has to do to make ends meet. Unfortunately, the $7 we collected panhandling isn’t going to cover the need. One thing that did come out of standing on the end of an off ramp hoping for the best is it gave me some time to do a mental self-check.

As I was standing there with my sign (This is my plan B), I could feel myself going through nicotine withdrawals. I felt a little shaky, my heart was racing, and I had absolutely no focus at all. Oh look! The mountain is beautiful, look at that old car going by on the freeway, I really need this to work, should I be smiling or just standing here? The mind noise was almost deafening.

Anyway, today and tomorrow are it. I’m hoping my panic doesn’t kick into high gear tomorrow. Its hard enough quitting smoking without my mind throwing in more anxious fodder. Deep breaths, I can do this, I want to do this, I am going to do this….no matter what!

Focusing on the Positive, A-Z; Day 24: Xylography

xylography tree

X is an insane letter to try to do a FotP post with. I have learned the meaning of so many different X words this morning just trying to find one that could apply to this series. To top off the frustration I was having, Merriam-Webster.com is going to start charging for the use of the site. Right now, you can sign up for your 14 day free trial. I am less than happy about this. Anyway, xylograhpy is the closest I could get. This is going to be more of an informative post, but learning is a positive thing so…well, here we go. ;-)

Xylography (noun)

the art of engraving on wood, or of printing from such engravings.

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This is really a very interesting topic. Well, to me it is, which isn’t surprising since I love to learn new things. Due to time restrictions this morning, this is going to be pretty brief, though I am sure I will probably spend more time later today finding out more about the art of xylography.

Xylography is the oldest known relief print making technique. (about education) It originated in China and later caught on in Europe sometime around the late 14th century. (Encyclopedia Britannica) A piece of wood,usually a block of wood, has a picture or whatever carved into a flat surface of the wood. If it is going to be used for printing, the picture must be carved in reverse and in the negative format with the parts that are wanted to transfer the in being the raised parts. Simple, right? Well, not so  much, in my opinion. It takes skill, and patience, and the ability to see things in the reverse or negative format. Anyway, the end result is something similar to the picture above.

I have to admit that I find this art to be amazing. Sure, the prints that can be made from these finished works of art are cool, but I honestly love the carvings themselves. Many of the ones I saw on Google Images are quite intricate and beautiful. There are some artist that are adapting the art for their own style. One artist pictured was making a print of the cut part of a stump. What he was peeling back was intriguing.

As much as I love learning, I love creativity. I am a creative soul myself so I find new (to me) forms of creative expression quite captivating. As I was looking at the different images, my mind began to search for ways that I may be able to accomplish this form of art myself. It’s not that I want to turn that into a career or even a hobby. I would just like to try it myself. I’m a hands on person and feel that one of the best ways to understand something fully is through experience. Isn’t that part of what life is about? Experiencing as many things as possible in one short lifetime?

Countdown to Quitting Smoking: 3 more days…or perhaps not

kicking habitI did really good yesterday. I only had 5 cigarettes. By the end of the day I was really feeling the nicotine deficiency but I’m doing my best to just breathe through it and not take any victims. This is not to say that I haven’t wanted to take victims because absolutely everyone seems to be extremely annoying or arguementative right now, but I know it is not them but me.

This morning is the hardest so far. I usually smoke while I drink my coffee and write blog posts so I am really coming up against the habit pretty intensely. I could take a few drags off a cigarette to help ease the intensity but I really don’t want to. I know I said my stop date is the 1st, but I really don’t want to smoke anymore. That said, I am going to be gentle with myself and allow the occasional drag or two to help with the cravings over the next few days. Maybe I’ll just take puffs off of my husband’s vape pen instead.

I feel a little nutso right now. Anxious. I can feel the part of my brain the goes into survival mode wanting to kick in. Its really hard to not let it. Panic is a very powerful emotion but it is just that: an emotion. Perhaps that will be my mantra today. Its just an emotion, its just an emotion, its just an emotion…_____ (<insert loud screaming here). :-)

Focusing on the Positive, A-Z; Day 23: Wisdom, Wonder, Worthy…

wisdom

 

I chose three words today because, after going to Merriam-Webster for their full definitions, I couldn’t choose between the three. Maybe it is because we are nearing the end of the alphabet, this series, and I want to do a little extra. Or maybe each word ‘spoke’ to me. Whatever the reason, wisdom, wonder, and worthy are the positive words I have chosen for today. I hope you enjoy the post!!

Wisdom (noun)

: knowledge that is gained by having many experiences in life

: the natural ability to understand things that most other people cannot understand

: knowledge of what is proper or reasonable : good sense or judgment

1

a :  accumulated philosophic or scientific learning :  knowledge

b :  ability to discern inner qualities and relationships :  insight

c :  good sense :  judgment

d :  generally accepted belief <challenges what has become accepted wisdom among many historians — Robert Darnton>

2
:  a wise attitude, belief, or course of action
3
:  the teachings of the ancient wise men
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Wisdom is something I have always wanted, a word I wanted to be applied to me. When I was younger, I always believed that wisdom wasn’t something attainable until you were in the last years of your life, and then only if you had spent your life acquiring knowledge through organized learning methods (school) and had the guidance of someone that already possessed wisdom. I have no idea where I came up with this belief, but it was there just the same. I’m so grateful that isn’t the case.

Wisdom comes from experience. I have oodles of experience in different areas, but I don’t think that experience is the only thing needed for wisdom. I believe that wisdom needs to have the ability to apply what one has learned from their experiences. What good would the experience be otherwise? Perhaps that is just my own perception but it makes sense to me so I am going to stick with the belief until it is shown to be otherwise.

Wisdom is something we all have, by definition, because we all have experiences. Unless we are in a coma, there is no way for us not to have experiences that then give us wisdom. I believe we are all sages in our own right. Your knowledge my be different than mine but it doesn’t make it any less valuable.

wonderWonder (noun)

: something or someone that is very surprising, beautiful, amazing, etc.

: a feeling caused by seeing something that is very surprising, beautiful, amazing, etc.

: something that is surprising or hard to believe

1

a :  a cause of astonishment or admiration :  marvel <it’s awonder you weren’t killed> <the pyramid is a wonder to behold>

b :  miracle

2
:  the quality of exciting amazed admiration
3
a :  rapt attention or astonishment at something awesomely mysterious or new to one’s experience

b :  a feeling of doubt or uncertainty

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I think we should all remember what it is like to be a little kid full of wonder. Wonder keeps us wanting to know more and cherishing each new thing we learn. When we stop looking at the world around us with wonder then I believe we stop truly seeing it for all that it is, and how incredibly sad that is. The world is an amazing place. Life is amazing. Sure there are the parts that don’t feel or look so great and amazing, but, even in that, there are things to be amazed by. A flower isn’t just a flower, beautiful to look at and often times wonderful to smell. It’s a life force and an important part of our whole biosphere. I challenge you to look at the world with eyes of wonder today, if even for a little while. It will change the way you look at everything else. Well, at least it does for me.

worthyWorthy (adjective)

: good and deserving respect, praise, or attention

: having enough good qualities to be considered important, useful, etc.

1

a :  having worth or value :  estimable <a worthy cause>

b :  honorable, meritorious <worthy candidates>

2
:  having sufficient worth or importance <worthy to be remembered
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I am a firm believer that we are all worthy of being considered worthy, in our own way. Just because someone can’t see your worth does not mean you are not worthy. It means they can’t see it based on their perception of what being worthy is. I don’t like the fact that the definition uses words like deserving, enough good, sufficient. I understand why they are used, but it just doesn’t sit right with me. In my own perception of things, the use of those words/terms separates people into groups of us and them. In so doing, it implies there are those that don’t possess worth. Perhaps I am being a bit extreme in my perceptions. Maybe this is my own issues coming to the surface through my fingers. I believe it should be a goal to find the worth in everyone we met, whatever their worth looks like. That may sound and be a bit idealistic, but I’m going to keep going with it. I challenge you to find worth is someone that you have a negative opinion of today. I think you just may be surprised at what you find.

Sitting in the Dark…

angel-sitting-in-dark-tattoo-designI’m sitting here in the dark after a long day. I haven’t gotten to sit alone in the dark for a long time. Its something I like to do from time to time. Its time to myself, though it isn’t really. My thoughts are hanging out with me. The dark takes away their shyness. Or perhaps it is just the still silence that brings them to a more noticeable position. At any rate, they are here and it is comforting.

I have to admit that my mind is the most comfortable place for me. Sure, there are the thoughts that circle around for attention that I find less than desirable and moderately uncomfortable but this doesn’t change the cotton soft feel of being alone with my thoughts. It is a great time for reflection, a time to see the progress I’ve made in areas that I have been working on and to acknowledge what still needs to be tended to. Its safe. The only judgement that happens when I sit in the dark is from me and, when its dark, I seem to be more capable of either graciously accepting the judgements or gently handing the judgement out. I’m not sure which it is.

The exact same scenario in the light has a different effect. I think the light provides too vivid a spot light. There are no shadows in which to hide. When I sit outside in the darkness, without the company of the energies of any of my family members distracting me from spending time with myself, I find inner peace. I fully relax. Sure, my mind is going but there is no tension to it. I can lovingly look at myself, flaws and all, and not feel…inadequate. I am perfect in these moments. Strong. Capable. Gentle. Loving. Accepting.

Maybe that is really what is going on here in the dark. I allow myself to be content and accept me just as I am. Does that sound weird? Corny? I don’t know. At the moment, I don’t think I really care if it does. I’m ok right now. Or maybe I’m more ok with not being ok right now, because I’m not. Not really.

I mean, I’m ok. I’m making it through my day-to-day life without having to feel like there are amends to be made or that there are people I will never be comfortable around because of some silly mistake I made. Despite there still being money issues, I am working hard to change that and seeing some progress. I’m doing the left foot, right foot shuffle…and its not very soul rewarding. But, on the other hand, I’m not ok. My marriage is going through something and it is leaving me wondering where it is going if anywhere. I feel stuck in the perpetual pursuit of finding calm inside of this chaotic life of mine. I’m tired of the struggle. Its lonely feeling like you’re the only one that cares about you, even when you know that isn’t true. I don’t know how to change it and that bothers me.

I’ve come to realize I write a lot about the soul. There have been times when I have worried if this makes some people think that this is a christian blog or something. It’s not that at all. I have my own belief system which doesn’t have a book or hymns. I am in touch with the center of myself, the world of energy around me, and that seems to be working out just fine for me. Well, that is, until I try to explain it to someone with some religious convictions.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not knocking what works for someone else. If being a christian, following the word of God, works for you, brings you peace and joy, then, by all means, stick with that. I am happy for you. You have found something that so many are looking for. I just wish that more people would have the same feeling when they come upon the fact that I am not connected to any orthodox religion. I have had way too many people say that I should, need to, must be saved due to my lack of religious affections. It hurts my feelings. I don’t need saving in that respect. I’m not lost. I’m not hovering in a corner waiting for a sign that there is more. I’m making the best of what is in front of me, the pleasures that saunter through my life and either stay or move on.

But I don’t really want to get into a huge theological debate or rant. I have had many of those, most of them enjoyable, and this is not the right time for me. Right now, I just want to let my mind do what it needs to do and allow my fingers to write it down for me to see. So why am I writing on here? It felt right. It was what I was drawn to do tonight in the midst of hanging out in the dark with my thoughts.

There are times when I am falling asleep and the thoughts haven’t quite settled down, yet, when I think I want to hop online, go straight to this blog, and vomit everything that is going on in my life that I am less than content with. Just say screw it and let it flow. I don’t think that’s appropriate though. No one really wants to hear about my problems because, though some of them seem like big problems, they are only so because they are mine. I am intimate with them, having feelings involved in them, have plans or the beginning of plans to deal with them. To someone else, my problems may seem trivial. Maybe not. It doesn’t really matter. I guess I’m just too inhibited to throw all of my shit pile on the fire in front of the world.

I have dreams. Big dreams. Ideas. Things I want so desperately to become real but am uncertain about how to make that happen or feel too buried in what is in front of me to do anything about them except dream them. I don’t want to be one of those people who looks back on their life from their death-bed with regrets about what they could have, should have, done that they didn’t. I know I’m only 43 years old and have lots of life to live, yet, but, sometimes, it feel like life is just slipping through my oil-drenched fingers. It’s not that I haven’t started on figuring out how to make some of those dreams come true, because I have. I’ve even made some of my dreams come true. What gets me is that, in my pursuit of a dream, I seem to always end up in a place that feels like my current life is too much in conflict with the dream I’m wanting to make real for it to be a possibility. I know that shouldn’t stop me, but often times, it does. The hill looks too steep to climb, the trolls are blocking the path, and I can’t seem to get this damn shackle of poverty off my ankle. I know that allowing that one thought to stop me from moving forward, from suiting up, climbing the hill, battling the trolls, achieving the dream is me defeating myself. Yet, I put the dream back in the box and don’t look at it again for quite some time, if ever. I know, I know. Fall down a thousand times, get up one thousand and one. I’m working on it.

Anyway, I’m feeling sleepy now. Thank you for allowing me to introduce you to my thoughts in the dark. Oh! And by the way, for anyone following my quitting smoking progress: I only smoked 5 cigarettes today. :-)

Countdown to Quitting Smoking: 4 days left…

So, apparently, there is a part of me that goes into panic when I start the quitting smoking process. Over the last few days, any time that a cigarette has crossed my mind, whether I am feeling the craving for one or not, the thought becomes an obsession. Yesterday, I smoked 7 cigarettes, plus a few puffs off an eighth one. I’m moderately disappointed about those few puffs, and that I smoked the most number of cigarettes in the allotment for the day. I’m trying to not beat myself up too much about it, though. It is where I am at at the present moment as I make this life altering change.

Life altering, you ask? I do believe the term applies here. I am removing a habit that has been a part of my life for 30 years ( O.O ). Though I walked into this process with complete confidence in my ability to accomplish my goal, and I still have that most of the time, I think I believed that I had put all of the necessary ‘tools’ in my backpack to make it through the challenge with minimal discomfort. Yeah, I’m good at deluding myself sometimes.

How any of me believed this could even remotely have any part of ease to it, I have no idea. Perhaps it was the blinder I needed to really commit to this process. I’ve tried so many times and failed. I believe this is my 9th attempt. I hate saying attempt because it feels as if that is pre-planning failure.

Part of me wants to just skip this pre-quitting ration portion of my plan and just walk away from the cigarettes all together, right now, but then I feel the panic rising. There is a very real part of me that wants to hold onto this one thing that has been a part of my life for so long. It is one of the only constants I have had.

Yes, I do hear how ridiculous that sounds. It doesn’t change the feeling, though. I guess it’s a good thing I have given myself this week of rationing. Even if I screw up on the amount of cigarettes I have for the day, it is causing me to really look at smoking, why I smoke, how I feel about quitting – the good and the panic. Though it doesn’t feel like I can do this today, I think this week is going to show me just how capable I am of succeeding.

Again, wish me luck!!!