Every day is a clean slate. Every morning that you open your eyes you have the freedom, no the RIGHT, to be whoever you want to be, no matter what that means. I’m not saying we should each wake up and change our names, leave our partners and live in a new country ever day— I mean that sounds exhausting and really expensive. No, I’m saying every day is a new chance to change SOMETHING, do SOMETHING, be SOMETHING—Anything you want.
This place or phase or stage or chapter in my life is all about a clean slate. I’m starting over from scratch. Everything in my life is changing, I look in the mirror and don’t even recognize who I am anymore. As scary as that sounds, I’m past the shock and tremor place of starting over. Instead I’m just fascinated to meet me!
One of the major changes I made in my life pertains to my health. There a lot of things I could’ve changed here: my weight, my drinking, my lack of moving, but what I decided to tackle was smoking.
I am proud to say that I haven’t had a cigarette since August of 2015. I do not consider myself a non-smoker and I probably never will. Cigarettes are the hardest thing to quit (at least to cigarette smokers)—some say worst then heroin. It takes a complete reframing of your mind especially if smoking has been a part of you for more than half your life like it was for me.
I was a smoker since I was 15 years old (I tried it even earlier but I bought my first pack at 15 and so that is my starting age). I spent the first half of my thirties hating the habit. I complained about the smell and bitched about the price. By 36 I considered myself a “professional quitter.” I tried the patch – gave me a rash. I tried the nicotine gum – all this did was teach me how to hate gum. I tried the lozenges – really dangerous for those who love alcohol (like yours truly) since you’re not supposed to swallow the liquid from the lozenge, so basically you look like a baseball player at the bar spitting in a napkin every 5 minutes—Tre sexy, no? I tried vaping- can we all just be honest and call this smoking. All vaping does is help non-smokers quit second-hand smoking; which we all appreciate but does nothing for the nicotine addict itself. None the less nothing worked.
Then I realized my dilemma. Cigarettes had been in my life since I was a teenager- a preteen really. Every major decision, trauma, emotion, celebration and loss I handled with a cigarette. You don’t realize how important your teenage years are in forming the base of who you will become. My first heart break- cigarette. My first love- cigarette. My first experience with the devil—cigarette. My first graduation—cigarette. I didn’t need to quit smoking—I needed to quit how I lived my life.
I had to retrain brain. It was and still is a psychological cleansing. For the first few months I disengaged from my social life. Work made that easy—long hours and travel make it impossible to have a social life anyway. I was also lucky because my pho-husband decided he’d stop with me, which was HUGE since we live together. We never used the word quit. Still don’t.
We each went about it differently. He went cold turkey with a side of silent suffering. Since I can’t do anything quietly I need a different approach. I decided I needed a tool, something to keep me focused beyond knowing that “smoking is killing you.” Since we are in the technology era I went where all awesome tools are now located, the Google App store. I ended up finding an awesome App that was made by scientists called, “Smoke Free”
The app is actually an ongoing experiment to track the smoking cessation (quitting) process. There are many cool Apps to help you quit but this one worked for me because I’m an A-type personality plus a super nerd.
The App gives you daily statistics on your health; how your body is changing without nicotine. It tracks how much money you’ve saved and how many craving you have and when. It also has a daily journal section for you to post how your feeling. The App gives homework assignments (I LOVED THIS) that were little projects to help you figure out WHY you are a smoker and WHY you are struggling to quit. It also gave fun and silly Gifs every morning to congratulate you for another smoke free day.
This is what had me hooked! It wasn’t just an App lecturing you about the dangers of smoking- instead it’s a psychological and sociological approach to understanding your habit in order to help you quit. It helped me! Understanding why I felt the way I did and knowing what my brain was going through helped me manage my cravings. Plus, the little reward systems – silly Gifs and money saver counter—made me feel like I was “winning.” See why this great for A-type personality folks (AKA perfectionists)!
Now that it is April 2016 and my one-year smoke free is approaching—I look at myself in the mirror and not only do I not recognize myself, I couldn’t be more proud. I have more changes to go through- really big ones at that. Recognizing this accomplishment makes me feel a little less scared of every other change my life is about to make. All of them psychologically driven.
I am reframing my life- my habits- my reactions- myself.
This is just one big step of many.
I’d love to hear what huge life changes you’ve made and what tools or motivation helped you get there!