HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!

Friday is my birthday and I’m turning FOUR YEARS OLD! Yay me!

HUH?

That’s right. I no longer celebrate the number of years since my birth. I now celebrate the number of years since my rebirth; the years I’ve been nicotine free.

 

I smoked 2-3 packs of cigarettes a day for over 30 years; it’s no wonder no one believed that I could quit. If I was awake, I had a cig in my mouth. Every move I made, place I went, and thought I had, was based around taking my next puff. And no matter how long or hard I sucked, I couldn’t seem to get enough.

 

It was exhausting.

People say you have to want to quit, to be successful at it. But I was pretty comfortable in my addiction, until the day I caught a bad cold and learned I had emphysema. I didn’t want to quit. I had to.

 

I decided that if I was going to war with this addiction, I needed to prepare for battle. So I did my research and armed myself.  

 

I requested information from the American Cancer Society and joined their phone counseling program. I was advised to set a quit date and chose my birthday.


Then, I told people about my plan. The guy at the store where I bought my cigs actually laughed.

I learned about visualization and how to imagine possible weak moments, so I would know what to do and could combat them when they actually happened.

 

I also learned about the voice of addiction. You know those thoughts that have you toying with the idea of smoking just one cig? The thought that says you can quit tomorrow instead? That thought is your addiction talking. Ignore it. That voice still whispers in my ear on occasion, but I silence it.

“Sorry, dude, shut up.”


I started on the medication Zyban which is taken WHILE you quit and can help reduce withdrawal symptoms.    Amazingly, my cigs started tasting mucky and I put them out sooner. 

 

The night before quitting, I cleaned the ashtrays, scoured away the smoky smells, destroyed all remaining cigarettes, and stocked my refrigerator with TONS of healthy food.

 

Some previously purchased tools included a pair of walking shoes, my first athletic bra, and an MP3 player. I awoke that first morning and reached for the cigarette on my nightstand. It wasn’t there. 

“Oh, *%&$! It’s gonna be a loooong day!” I whined.

Then I got up, laced up, and went for a walk.

This obnoxious, but well-intentioned four year old has a list of THINGS YOU DON’T WANT TO DO while you’re trying to quit smoking:

DON’T OVER-THINK IT! Don’t try to imagine the rest of your life without cigarettes, or even the rest of your week. Just take it one day at a time.    

DON’T ANTICIPATE THE WORST! I envisioned myself draped on the sofa crying desperately for one more puff, while being slammed with wave after wave of cravings.

They say that cravings last no more than 20 minutes, but I’ve never had one last longer than the time it takes to get a tasty snack or lace up my walking shoes.

 

SOMETIMES, DON’T LISTEN. I’ve been told that heroin users who try to quit using have a higher success rate than smokers do. Now WHY ON EARTH would you tell me THAT?! I’m sure it was said in the spirit of support, but that’s why we smokers don’t even try to quit. We think it will be pure torture.

I expected this:

But it never happened.

DON’T EXAGGERATE! You’re not solving the problem of world hunger or curing cancer . . . you are choosing to stop an addictive behavior.   Nothing more.   Just make up your mind, put on your big person panties, and do it. And don’t look back. Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.

DON’T UNDERESTIMATE YOURSELF! You can do ANYTHING! Be your own superhero. Afterwards, you’ll live in a healthier world that you created for yourself and you’ll be amazed at your newfound confidence.

 

So HOW AM I DOING FOUR YEARS LATER? Well, my smoking dreams have long ceased, as have my daily cravings; and my idle hands have discovered more productive activities. There are many days, and sometimes even weeks, when a cigarette never even crosses my mind. I would’ve never thought that possible.

 

There have been those of you with questions for me. Many a wrinkled, weathered face has coughed, gagged, huffed and puffed as they inquired with concern about possible weight gain. Quite familiar with this excuse, I peer through the haze and smell of the ashtray . . . and smile at the irony.

 

“Yep, I’ve gained some weight. So what. “

 

So what if I’m a bit chubbier due to my incessant new habit of popping grapes and consuming large amounts of cheese; I’ll tackle that or adjust it . . .  all in good time. At least now I’ll have the breath, the energy, and the time, to work it off and to work it out.

 

Sometimes those first few baby steps can be a bit wobbly.

But I’m standing stronger these days.

 After all, I’m a big girl now. I’m turning four.

**************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

(For information on quitting smoking, visit any of these sites, see notices in your newspaper, or call for free programs provided by your local hospital. Also available: hypnosis, acupuncture, the nicotine patch, smoking cessation programs, or support groups).

National organizations and Web sites

Guide to Quitting Smoking: AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETYwww.cancer.org/Healthy/…/GuidetoQuittingSmoking/index

QuitNet
Web site: www.quitnet.com Offers free, cutting edge services to people trying to quit tobacco

Nicotine Anonymous Toll-free number: 1-877-879-6422 (1-877-TRY-NICA)
Web site: www.nicotine-anonymous.org For free information on their 12-step program, meeting schedules, printed materials, or information on how to start a group in your area

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Office on Smoking and Health
Toll-free number: 1-800-232-4636 (1-800-CDC-INFO)
Free quit support line: 1-800-784-8669 (1-800-QUIT-NOW)
TTY: 1-800-332-8615
Web site: www.cdc.gov/tobacco Free information on smoking and health; phone hotline for people who want to quit

National Cancer Institute
Toll-free number: 1-800-422-6237 (1-800-4-CANCER) for cancer information
Toll-free tobacco quit line: 1–877–448–7848 (1–877–44U–QUIT)
Web site: www.cancer.gov
Direct tobacco Web site: www.smokefree.gov Quitting information, cessation guides, and counseling is offered, as well as state telephone-based quit programs

American Lung Association
Toll-free number: 1-800-548-8252
Web site: www.lungusa.org Printed quit materials are available, some in Spanish. Offers the tobacco cessation program “Freedom from Smoking Online” for a small fee at www.ffsonline.org

 

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Categories: Addiction, Holidays/Birthdays, Humor, Inspiration/Motivation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 44 Comments

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44 thoughts on “HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!

  1. Joanie Woody Foote

    Happy birthday, Jules, and after quitting the nasty habit….I can so relate! Bravo, my friend! XO

  2. Happy birthday, my friend! God bless and many more smoke-free years!

  3. Vince

    Amen

  4. Angey

    Bravo Julia! You are a wonderful role model for smokers everywhere! I’m going on two years in August and it was the best thing I ever did for myself. As you said, the cravings never lasted more than 5 minutes and for the first few months you just take it five minutes at a time. Every mastered craving is another step forward and more reason not to turn back. Cheers to a healthier, longer life my friend and Happy upcoming Birthday to you! 🙂

    • Thank you so much, Angey! And congrats to you on TWO YEARS! YAY YOU!!! LOL! I think I was still dreaming about cigs at the two-year mark….lol I used to have these dreams where I’d be in the car and discover with great surprise that I had a cigarette in my hand! I think it was because one of the most difficult times NOT to smoke was in the car. Four years later I still pop a TicTac in my mouth the minute I go for a drive! lol Hey, whatever works, ‘eh? ha ha! Thanks so much for your well wishes and encouragement! Love to you and cheers to us for creating our healthier lives! xoxo Julia

  5. Lynn Gardner

    Happy Birthday girl, you are an inspiration for any of us that want to quit bad habits! xoxo Lynn

  6. Lynn Gardner

    You also did a great job with the images, just perfect. 🙂

    • Thanks so much, Lynn. And thanks for noticing the images because I spend considerable time searching for just the right ones. lol I thank you for the birthday wishes and for taking the time to read my stuff and leave a great note. You’re a good friend. As far as bad habits go…I seem to be replacing one with another! ha ha! Well grapes and cheese are a much healthier addiction….and I SHOULD be able to get a handle on them….ha ha! Talk to you soon, girlfriend! xoxo Julia

  7. wow! you laid it all out girl! what an inspiring story! i’m trying to replace white wine with diet beer. and carbs with proteins and candy with . . . . vegetables. argh! as always, much love, arlynn

  8. Thanks, Arlynn! You wouldn’t believe how much I had to edit to get this story to this size! Sheesh! It started out at something like 1500 words! Yikes! I had to keep editing it down and down and down…..but this was the best I could do. It’s difficult to be sensible with our habits…especially food ones! Thanks for reading, girlfriend, and take good care! Love you back! xoxo Julia

  9. Oh, dear heart, what a HUGE accomplishment! And I’m sure your heart thanks you. Goodness, you rock. I only smoked for about 2 years, and I still crave one every once in a while. Plus, this tells me you have great self discipline and a well-developed work ethic. Thanks for sharing this about yourself. And happy birthday, as well!
    Hugs to you!
    Kathy

    • Thank so very much, Kathryn! Your words always go STRAIGHT to my healthy little heart! I don’t know about discipline….it’s probably more like stubbornness! lol I think of you often….and I wonder. Do your ears ring a lot? If so, please don’t worry….and don’t go to the doctor! It’s just me singing your praises and telling my friends about this future best selling author I’ve met! My love and good wishes to precious you and your very talented and lovely Sara. xoxo Julia

  10. saymber

    Congratulations! Smoking is a tough addiction to kick. The way I quit was using the 12 Step program from AA. Don’t miss it at all!

    • Thank you, Saymber! And congratulations to you also, on your successful quitting! Yay You! lol I love the “big blue book”, AA’s bible of sorts. I read it because my sister was an alcoholic and it helped me to understand a lot. Also, because I have an addictive personality, I saw parts of myself in that book. Everyone should read it. It has rules and words to live by. Thanks so much for reading and leaving your comments. xoxo Julia

  11. kimberly corsi

    Happy Birthday, Julia. A very great and inspirational story…,congratulations on four years of being smoke free. I too quit on my birthday, and regardless how difficult it is, the payoff is incredible. Keep up the good work!!!

    • Thank you, Kim! I didn’t realize that you also quit on your birthday! See? Great minds think alike! lol So congratulations to you as well, my friend. The payoff is definitely worth it! Take care and talk to you soon! xoxo Julia

  12. Congratulations and Happy Birthday! I agree, quitting smoking was one of the toughest things I have ever done, but one of the best gifts I gave to myself and my kids. It has been 21 years for me! Time flies! Hope you have a great birthday.

    • Thank you so much, Kim! And congratulations to you on 21 YEARS! Wow! It was a super great gift you gave to yourself and your kids…and a wonderful example of your strength. xoxo Julia

  13. This has got to be one of my favoritEST blogs of yours as you overcome not only your addictions, but give us tips to as well. Like over thinking, worrying ahead of time, anxiety for future… yup, that’s all me! Thank you for your sweet reminder!

    Pink.

    • Thank you, Pink, and you are SO welcome! I thought I’d share the tips that aren’t really mentioned in the quit smoking literature. And the American Cancer Society phone counseling gave me SO much great advice….the two tip from them that I mentioned, (visualization, and the voice of addiction), were the two that helped me the most. Thanks for reading and take good care! xo Julia

      • You’re an amazing hero. Nicotine addiction is tougher than drugs, alcohol, and other addictions COMBINED, as according to the book, “Smoke and Mirrors”. So really, you can achieve ANYTHING. You amaze me. Yup. You super hero.

      • Awwww…..that’s so sweet. Thank you so much, Pink. You’ve really given me such a smile right now. It’s funny that you said super hero, because I was just going to add something to the piece that’s been nagging at me. I left it out and can’t seem to shake the thought or the image. I think you just sealed the deal for me though! lol Thanks again for reading and being such a wonderful support and inspiration! xoxo Julia

    • Check out the addition to the blog (after the molehill…lol)….thanks for the nudge, super hero friend! xoxo Julia

  14. Mary Wloch

    Congratulations on your fourth birthday! One of your best blogs!

    • Oh gosh, Mary, thank you so much! Turning four feels great! lol And thanks for your compliment, because it seems the pieces that I question the most, turn out to be liked the best. I just can’t gauge my writing anymore! lol Thank you so much for reading and sharing a note with me. You’re the best! xo Julia

  15. Wendy Stroup

    Great blog!!! Your an excellent writer and the illustrations are fun!! Happy 4th Birthday little big girl:-D

    • Thanks so much, Wendy! I AM a little big girl! ha ha! Thanks for reading and leaving a comment….and leaving me a smile! xo Julia

  16. LOVE the Super Hero add on! LOVE! HAHAHA.. Wonder Woman! 😀

    • Pink, you’re a wonder, woman! And a Wonder Woman! lol You’ve inspired me time and time again. I don’t know if you’re on facebook, but please add me to your friends, if you are. My birthday is tomorrow. My bday gifts are the friends I’ve made this past year….my beautiful smiling lifelines. I consider you one of them. Thank you. Take care and blessings be yours, my friend. xo Julia

      • Wooo Happy Birthday Soon!!!! I’m on FaceBook but remain anonymous, but thank you soooo much for the kind thoughts! Wowee, birthday! Do you have list of special things you do on that day! Wooo!!! I will eat cake on your behalf.. HAHAHA 😀 Hugs and thank you for being the Wonderful Woman that you are!

        Pink.

  17. Pink….I’m such a doofus! Of course you know about my bday – it’s the start of this blog!….Sheesh! I’d better check myself, I must be low on brain cells! lol As far as what I’ll do tomorrow…..I’ll begin the day with a walk. Even if it’s really hot – even one lap around the apt complex where I live will suffice. I love the ritual. Then to the cemetary to visit my son’s memory brick (I’ll tell you about that sometime). Then I usually spend the day alone, but this year I have one of my bff’s coming over for girl talk and lots of laughs. She’s one of my favorite blessings! Anyways, thanks for the notes and tolerating my silliness. Take care and let’s chat again soon, girlfriend! Blogger to blogger, woman to woman, friend to friend. xoxo Julia

  18. Jeff

    Uh, oh. Meant to leave this message yesterday. Happy belated birthday and nothing harder to do than quit smoking. Congrats. Good job. You are and inspiration- And many many more happy birthdays.
    Jeff

  19. Hi, i think that i saw you visited my blog thus i came to “return the favor”.I am trying to find things to enhance my website!I suppose its ok to use some of your ideas!!

  20. great post

  21. Good day! I could have sworn I’ve been to this blog before but after reading through some of the post I realized it’s new to me. Anyways, I’m definitely glad I found it and I’ll be bookmarking and checking back frequently!

  22. Pingback: HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME! | Journey with Julia

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