Posted in Relationships, Writing

How I Quit a 2-Pack-a-day Habit

a lit cigarette in an ashtray
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This is a synopsis of how I quit smoking two packs of cigarettes per day after 9 years without any medical substitutes or mental health assists almost 20 years ago.

I started smoking Lucky Strike unfiltered cigarettes shortly after joining the Air Force.  My uncle had smoked the same brand–they were my favorite.  I always loved  the smell of Camel cigarettes too.   Not sure exactly what got me to start smoking but once I started I was hooked.  That is until I met my wife.  I chose not to smoke in our house, and tried to quit a couple of times after we got married in our first year.  I just couldn’t shake the habit completely but managed to reduce the amount by probably a pack.  Our first home together was in Alaska.  About a year after we married, I was stationed in Washington D.C.  I knew I wanted to quit for many reasons–one of them being the “low sperm count” attributed to smoking–I wanted to be a daddy!

My wife and I also had really deep, intellectual conversations that really made me crave time with her as much as I craved cigarettes.  So, I tried to figure out how to satisfy both cravings.  This challenge turned out to be my pathway to successful smoking cessation.

In base housing at Bolling AFB, they had mailboxes mounted to the house just outside the front door which weren’t used because they had larger mailboxes at the end of the driveway.  I decided that I would make myself smoke only half a cigarette, put it out, then deposit the unfinished cigarette in that mailbox just outside the door.  If I craved another smoke, I forced myself to go outside and finish the unsmoked half a cigarette!  Well, I’m here to tell you that the remaining half of a once smoked cigarette doesn’t smell or taste the same as a new cigarette!  With this new self-imposed requirement to satisfy my cravings it wasn’t long before I was down to half a pack a day, then 5, then 3.   Pretty soon, I was down to smoking only one cigarette per day.  I enjoyed much more time conversing with my wife and playing card games than I was wasting out on the front stoop.

I finally decided that the amount of time wasted smoking really wasn’t worth the time invested, and besides–it always made my clothes and breath stink!  From the time I began my half-cigarette smoking requirement to quitting totally was probably two months.  It’s been almost twenty years since I quit smoking cigarettes.

Do you have a unique story about how you quit smoking?  I’m always fascinated by what motivations and methods people use to quit bad habits…like chewing fingernails–I recently quit that habit too!

Cheers!

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Posted in Relationships

Thought Soup

Icon-type silhouette of an airplane. (Mainly t...
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It’s been a whirlwind week!  Since Sunday I have flown to Washington D.C. on business, landed back in Omaha and within 30 minutes received a warning citation from the police for failure to signal and a malfunctioning tail light; purchased and installed a new built-in dishwasher; worked late (past supper time) two nights; and just this evening started to drive away from the gas pump to hear a noise and realize I hadn’t replaced the nozzle!  When you meet yourself coming and going you know its time to take a break!!  Slow down a little and breathe–smell the coffee and count your blessings!

The week hasn’t been all bad though.  I enjoyed the company of a traveling mate on the Washington D.C. to Atlanta leg of my trip who recommended the book “Shadows and Streetlights” and “Warriors Rage”  I’m greatly impressed at times by some traveling companions.  You never know what you’re going to learn if you take a chance and share yourself with others.  Many times you’ll find that people just want to be left alone.  But if you stop and think about it, most flights are three hours or less (especially if you have connecting flights)…what is it going to hurt you to reach out and shake a hand and introduce yourself?  After 9/11, I became aware that I was mentally on auto-pilot regarding my commuting behaviors.  Now, if alone, I listen to news, or books on CD…if surrounded by others, I at least try to get to know a person’s name and where they’re from.

On the Atlanta to Omaha leg of my journey, I met a wonderful Radiologist named Rick with a local practice in Omaha.  A great family man with three teenage children.  We talked about every topic possible in our two hour journey.  By opening up to others, you find out you are not alone…that like others, the parenting years are a flourish of activity and logistics.

I am three fourths of the way through Stephen King‘s “Dreamcatcher” and am just enthralled by how creatively vivid his mind is.  Each time I finish a reading session, it takes a while for me to accept reality.  His writing talent pulls you in, challenges you to figure out, question, and begin making assessments about where the story is taking you.  His character development acquaints you in such a tangible way that you feel you know these people.  Why is it that we don’t live life with the same anxious intrigue and anticipation the way we “exist” when reading a good book or watching a long-awaited movie?  Is it possible we allow ourselves too much “auto-pilot” mental time?  I think that as adults we lose our wonder and excitement about living because of what value we assign to the “stuff and work of life.”

When I stopped my vehicle this evening after hearing the nozzle yank out of my fuel tank and land on the ground, I put the car in park.  I was anxious that my carelessness wasn’t going to create a fire/explosion.  I picked up the nozzle, placed it back in the pump, screwed my gas cap back on and made a “phew” gesture with my hand at my forehead just in case I was being observed, and then got back in my car.  Thinking aloud I said, “Ed, it surely is time for a vacation!”  I need to refuel my emotional/mental stores and spend some much needed time with my family–turn off “auto-pilot” and be present in the now….appreciating and soaking up the living life has to offer.

If you are reading this post, I hope all is well in your world!  I am grateful for time…without it, we would never have the chance to recover from mistakes, heal our wounds, or achieve our dreams.  Have a great weekend everyone!