Cessation

This posting is self congratulatory.  Also hoping maybe a little helpful to someone out there.

One year ago (and seven days) my husband and I quit smoking cigarettes. We both smoked for decades. Both in our fifties. You can figure out the math.

I was only being a supportive friend to my husband. He said he didn’t want to smoke on this certain day. We were in Mumbai and flying back to Delhi.

I said, “I won’t either.”

And we didn’t smoke that day.

There is some irony here. When we landed in Delhi it was the first day of the country’s “bad air quality” season. Could hardly even see the signs outside the airport. The next day the newspaper reported that breathing this air was akin to smoking forty-five cigarettes. A gas chamber of sorts.

The other thing was that it was a sudden quit. Not planned. So that meant we still had a bunch of cigarette packs. That was bothering me. I don’t like to waste. But we didn’t smoke them and eventually gave them away.

We uploaded a free app on our phones. It’s called Smoke Free. I’d recommend it to anyone who is in process of quitting. Obviously, the smoker needs to make the decision to quit but the app provides constant and positive reinforcement. Shows how much money is saved. How health is improving each day. How many cigarettes NOT smoked. How many life days regained. How much time not spent smoking. That one is insane to think about because they mean actual time you were smoking. Mine is up to 25 days.

It has places to post triggers, cravings, set goals, badges, etc.

For those of you who don’t know. Smoking is powerfully addicting. Terrible.

Crowds of people wouldn’t be milling about the entrances of office buildings, restaurants or bars if it wasn’t.

We have been in many filthy international airport smoking rooms because not smoking during a layover was unthinkable. There is one lounge where you had to lean your face into this machine to light your cigarette. Similar to a car lighter. Looked like you were kissing a big silver machine. That many had previously kissed. Gross.

Of course, the duty free shop at the airport is where we would buy our cartons of cigarettes.

Weather would never be a deterrent.  Puffing away in all sorts of weather and every season.

Would have a cigarette outside airport before picking up bags at the luggage carousel.

Always ensured you didn’t run out of them. Or even ran low.

Nor’easter heading your way? Stock up on milk, bread and cigarettes.

I was pretty good about usually keeping the cigarettes at home when not traveling. If I was out and about during the day I didn’t bring them with me. We also didn’t smoke in the house or in our cars.

Here is the surprising thing. It was easier than I thought it would be.

Way easier. My husband agrees. I stated that we would only do it “cold turkey” and not vape or substitute something else. Because I thought that would make it more difficult.

I am not saying it’s easy. Cravings do occur. I sometimes missed it. But it truly was easier than I thought. You just distract yourself. I personally did a ton of walking. Outside in the polluted air. 🙂

I do believe anyone can quit. It is so liberating. No longer being held hostage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Caper

I ask a lot of questions. I’m a curious sort. Especially now that I am older and no longer care if my questions are deemed silly.

Ran into the grocery the other day for capers. I asked the guy who was stocking the shelves where I could locate them. He got up and showed me where they were in the next aisle. He went back to work.

I realized then that I really didn’t know what a caper is and I wanted to know. I was spending nearly $5.00 USD on a small bottle of it.

Sure, I could have left.

I turned around and went back to the man.

I said, “Hey.”

He replied, “Hey.”

I continued, “What exactly is a caper?”

He looks at me and says, “I really don’t know.”

Gets up off his stool.

I say, “No bother. It’s okay.”

He says, “No, now you have me curious.”

I ask, “You going to google it?” Lol.

There is a young female employee. He asks her.

She says, “I don’t know but my mother uses them in her German meals.”

So she googles it.

A caper is a small edible flower bud. Comes from a bush native to Mediterranean region.

 

 

Driving

I heard a terrible story that happened years ago in my home state. A horrible warning for all those who eat while driving. Or would consider eating while driving.

A woman was eating an ice cream cone while driving. The scoop of ice cream fell down on her chest. She looked down. Like anyone would who spills something on themself.

That distraction caused a car accident that left the woman paralyzed for the rest of her life.

Be careful, everyone.

 

 

 

 

 

Another One

Another obituary I thought was nicely done.

Back in September a friend of my husband’s family died in Connecticut. So I had a look at the write up. It listed the activities of an accomplished, active and hardworking woman.

It stated that the burial was private and there would be no calling hours.

Last line was this.

Audrey would rather you take a friend to lunch or reach out and perform some act of kindness.

I thought that was just lovely.

Inspiration

Last month I came across the obituary of a fellow from a nearby town. He was sixty-four years old and it appeared he died from cancer. I did not know him. But when I was reading the notes of on-line condolences I started wishing I did.

I was inspired by a total stranger who passed away. Because of the things other people said about him. See below for some of those messages of sympathy. The poem is also beautiful.

“Steve and Liz were dear and wonderful neighbors for so many years on the corner of Bay and Governor Bradford Rd…we were all so blessed to have them next door. Mr. Perry, as my kids used to call him, was forever trimming the rose bushes that bloomed on their property. One day, my then eight year old daughter leaned out of the upstairs window and called to Steve as he pruned the rose bushes,

“Mr. Perry,” she asked, “Why are you always smiling and so happy?”

“Because you’re my neighbor, “ he answered with a grin.

That was Steve Perry. One of the nicest people I’ve ever known.”

“My heart is so heavy for your loss. He was such a wonderful man to so many that his leaving will be felt for a very long time but his memory will always remain in the good works and love he left behind. Prayers and sympathy to his parents and siblings, to the kids whom I watched grow up under his wing and to Liz who always made his eyes twinkle.”

“I always enjoyed time spent with Steve away from work, whether it was playing softball for TFC, blue fishing on Barrington Beach, or sledding with the kids at the cemetery. He was just a good guy with a bright and engaging smile.”

“Steve was a wonderful man who cared deeply for the needy and homeless. When we decided to form our ministry he named it Breadlines from the picture his parents displayed in his home when he was a child “The Christ of The Breadline.” Now your request for contributions in his memory continue his wishes to care for those in need. God bless you Steve from all the Breadline volunteers. We will remember you always.”

I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze,
and starts for the blue ocean.
She is an object of beauty and strength,
and I stand and watch her until she hangs like a speck of white cloud
just where the sea and sky come down to mingle with each other.
Then someone at my side says: “There! She’s gone!”
Gone where? Gone from my sight – that is all.
She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side,
and just as able to bear her load of living freight
to the place of her destination.
Her diminished size is in me, and not in her.

And just at the moment
when someone at my side says: “There! She’s gone!”
there are other eyes that are watching for her coming;
and other voices ready to take up the glad shout:
“There she comes!”

“My heart is broken. All my love goes out to my Perry family… Steve was simply the best!”

“I knew Steve as a colleague, neighbor, friend and fellow adult leader of a Boy Scout troop. As the Scouts, say he was always helpful, friendly, curious, and kind. Steve’s gift of empathy was one of the things I admired most in him. He and Liz have raised a wonderful family.”

When I finished reading all of the comments I sat and thought. About a lot of things.

A life well-lived. How Steve sounded so special. Loved his family. Was a kind man. Liked to smile. Good-humored. Engaged. Cared about his community and friends. Fed the hungry. Enjoyed the outdoors. Was a good neighbor. Had empathy.

I pondered all of these things. Then I thought, “Well, why can’t we all be like Steve?”

Is it that difficult to smile? To be kind to others? To volunteer? To spend time with our families? To be engaged? To laugh? To enjoy nature? To be a good friend?

No, none of it is difficult. It’s quite easy. We just need to be mindful.

Steve left us all with a gift.

Inspiration.

 

The Jacket

When I became pregnant with our second child I was so thrilled. Just as thrilled as I was with the first.

Hard to believe it was twenty years ago.

While pregnancy brings about many things the first on my list was prenatal visits. So an appointment was made with the ob/gyn group down the road from our home.

On one of the first prenatal visits I checked in at front desk. Soon I was escorted to an examining room in the back. I am handed a disposable paper covering for the bottom half of my body. You have to know when it comes to me disrobing in an exam room I take it very seriously. It’s like a game of twenty questions. The nurse normally gets pelted with my inquiries.

Usually goes something like this.

“All of my clothes? Just the top? Bra? Panties? Socks? Headband? Watch? Earrings? Wait! Does a paper gown open to the front or back?? Flimsy disposable paper sheet covering the lap?”

I quickly followed the instructions. Took off clothes and placed the neatly folded clothes on the chair. No one dilly dallies around in those exam rooms. Because anyone could open the door at any moment and catch you partially clad. Or exposed. Doesn’t matter that the doctor and/or nurse is going to soon see every little bit of you.

While waiting for the doctor I sit on the table and get caught up with the celebrity news in the latest “People” magazine. I am making a lot of noise because every time I move an inch the paper liner on the examining table crinkles up, rustles and makes a racket.

I soon realize that I cannot concentrate on the magazine. Or anything else. Because the heater must have been broken. It was absolutely freezing in the room.

The doctor poked his head in and saw that I was turning blue. Okay, that’s an exaggeration but he did get that I was cold. He appeared upset at this.

Said, “Hold on a minute.”

He leaves the room. Two seconds later he returns with his jacket. It was waist length and black leather. He takes it and wraps it around my shoulders.

So, there I am. Sitting on the examining table with nothing on except a black leather biker jacket.

Feeling uncomfortable and awkward. Like I was about to star in a S&M photo shoot.

I honestly didn’t know that to think. Was it kind? Unprofessional? Creepy? Chivalrous? Inappropriate?

I was surprised and didn’t know how to react. This was not in the rule book I learned over the years or in my memory bank. I left feeling confused.

See, him inserting his gloved fingers into my vagina for a pelvic exam was okay and appropriate. I knew that would happen and signed up for that. But putting that black leather jacket on my body was not in the pre-approved script.

Did not go home and tell my husband. Or my friends.

Just filed it away in the old gray matter under the indexed tab, “Confused.”

I wouldn’t be the first to file that. Women can experience all sorts of confusion. We are taught to be nice. Think the best of folks. So we question is the boy/man being kind or pushing a boundary? Manipulating or thoughtful? Purposeful touch or an accidental brushing? Surely, he didn’t mean that? Did I somehow lead him to this? Allow this? And on and on.

I did eventually share this anecdote at a party with a couple of lady friends. Not in the vein of my being wounded, scarred or anything. Just adding to a conversation topic that might have included “Bizarre behavior” or “You can’t make this stuff up!” Or maybe even, “Wait, get this! I have an even better one for you!”  Maybe even, “Proceed with caution.”

My husband hears me recounting the experience and looks at me like I have more stories than Walt Disney and says, “What??? That never happened.”

I replied, “Oh, yes, it most definitely happened. I was there.”

The reason I never shared this with him was because, in my mind, it sounded crazy and embarrassing.

I didn’t do anything wrong. Yet I couldn’t rightly say that the doctor did anything wrong either.

I would also later share with my ladies’ bookclub. Again, using it as fodder for interesting, bizarro conversation. Certainly not portraying me as a victimized woman.

It’s not something I really shared with anyone else.

I was a grown woman nearing her thirty-fourth year. Not physically hurt in ANY way. Just want that to be crystal clear. Yet, I still walked out of that office feeling like it was a bit surreal. Embarrassed and confused. Not feeling quite as clean as I was when I arrived. Thinking how on earth did that weird scenario happen. Could I have prevented the cow hide from being draped over my shoulders? Who’d believe that story?

Imagine then how a young girl might feel if someone abused power and violated a different boundary. Hurt her. Who would believe her? Against the word of a possibly upstanding young man? What would she be put through if she actually told her story? Character assassination? Shame? Embarrassment? Confusion? Guilt?

63.3% of sexual assault cases are not reported in the United States. Think about that for a minute. That’s something to really ponder. We don’t even need to wonder why. We know why. And since the thinking caps are on consider this also. One in three girls/women will experience some type of sexual violence in their lifetime. In the United States of America. So take a good look around your neighborhood, classroom, place of employment and home. Then count to three.

My last couple of postings have a recurring theme (girls and women) with some type of vulnerability as the common denominator.

The mindset of our society needs to change. The old, abhorrent way is no longer acceptable.

We certainly don’t need to worry about boys/men and possible false reporting. The boys (if they are white) will be just fine. The percentage of that happening is quite low. Something like 2%.

While actual sexual violence perpetrated against women is disgustingly high. 

Wait. Tell me again. Who do we need to worry about?

How’s this novel idea, though? Instead of worrying about our girls why don’t we focus on properly educating our boys. About boundaries, respect, language and objectification. It will be a struggle since every outlet we (men and women) are exposed to these days seems to support the objectification of women.

Maybe we could make America great again.

My original intention was to keep this short and sweet but it morphed into something else.

I’m glad it did.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Only Girls

I was recently talking to one of my daughters who is away at university. She mentioned an upcoming party.

So, of course, I don’t stop being a Mom just because she’s away. Feeling like I have to get all of my last minute warnings in- just in case I should expire in the next few hours and the opportunity is lost.

I say, “I know you don’t party but if you did… you remember the rule, right?”

The guessing game begins. Because there are about a million rules we teach our girls. I’ve been doing it for years. Hammering these points home. Over and over again. We do it because we want to protect them. We want them to protect themselves.

She says, “Stay in a group?”

“No, not that one. But yes, please, stay in a group.”

“Watch my drink? Always keep it with me?”, she asks.

I respond, “No, that’s not it. Yes, yes, of course! Watch your drink and keep it with you always!”

It’s not just me. Parents are giving these same warnings to their daughters all over the U.S. I remember reading an article years ago about Christie Brinkley (former wife of Billy Joel) telling her daughter Alexa Ray (who was at or beginning university) to watch her drink so no one puts anything in it. 

My daughter questions, “Don’t walk home at night by myself?”

“Not that! But yes, please do not walk home at night by yourself!”

I just can’t help myself. 

Finally, we “I” get to the point.

“If you drink do not get behind the wheel. Call an Uber.”

She’s like, “Of course, Mom.”

Those are just a few examples of what I have actually shared with my daughters. Over and over again. There are a ton more. As we are all well aware.

The interesting thing is that we only share these warnings with our girls. There is no need to tell these things to our boys.

Why is that?

Okay, maybe just the one, “If you drink do not get behind the wheel. Call an Uber.”

So sad.

I am hoping for change.