I see !!!! Icey

The first time I was asked, “what is different about you since you quit smoking?”  I was asked this question during an interview for a documentary on using mindfulness to relieve oneself of addiction.  My first thought was, “I am a nicer person.” Being interviewed by a professional interviewer type person, that answer was so not going to be enough. I continued on with, “i am able and willing to see other people better or clearer even.  i am more aware of how others might be feeling or what they could be thinking.” Stay Tuned on July 4th. link available July5th

I can see that the way others react or act is not a reflection on me.  maybe they just stubbed their toe 2 minutes before seeing me and it still stings the way i interact with other people is what matters.

So,

I quit smoking.  I have done it using a mindfulness app I ‘accidentally stumbled upon’.  I knew I had to/wanted to/needed to quit. I was in a fog wondering  how to go about it.  then One thing happened that led to another. that thing appeared to lead to another thing which led to another then another and another.  Today I am smoke free and grateful.

I feel as though I have somehow moved from using Mindfulness practice to quit smoking to  Mindful Living.

This was not My Plan.

My Plan was to use Mindfulness in an attempt to better control the ever powerful anxiety I experience.  I needed to get a handle on this monster and pills were no longer a viable solution.  I needed something better.  Apparently I was ready for something better.

Enter MINDFULNESS.  I should add the word Again to that last sentence.  I had my 1st introduction to mindfulness 28 years ago.  second exposure 15 years ago.  I now see that these experiences have prepared me for where I am right now.  Right Now! Right Here! Not worrying about a future that might never happen.  Not dwelling on a past I cannot change.

not the worst place to be!!

Changes…. not in any particular order and not a compete list.  Keep in mind these are not changes I planned. I did not sit down one night and make a list of things I wanted to change in me.  To be honest, i did not know i needed to change.  want to change?  Not even a little.

The only change I desired was to no longer smoke

to be smoke free.

  • i no longer have the need to get everything done right now.    for example : i want to finish writing this post. i am not going to die if i save it and finish it later.  last year or even last month, “ineedtodoit! doitnow! cantwait! mustgetitdonenow! nomtterwht.”  just a tad anxiety provoking from inside.  no outside trigger needed.
  • i smile more.  not because life is so freakin awesome and I have no reason not to smile but because if i smile, maybe someone who is lucky enough to see me smile will smile. then someone else might smile and then someone else….
  • i am calmer. inconveniences and other people’s stupid behavior that would have once throw me into fits of panic/anger/depression/disappointment affect me in a different way.  i am able to take a tad bit o time and breathe.  This breathing thing is not new to me.  People in my life have been suggesting it forever and a day.  Regular, consistant mindfulness practice got me to remember to breathe when I need to.
  • I am nicer.  i already talked about that.  I have always been a relatively nice person, but now I am even nicer and to more people.
  • i sleep better. not longer, Better. I wake up earlier, yet less tired. more refreshed
  • life is the same.  pleasant and unpleasant things are always going to happen. That is Life. That is not going to change, But…. i can change. I deal with life’s obstacles in a new way.  i am capable of dealing with the life stuff in a way that i was never capable of before.
  • i stopped biting my nails while I quit smoking  – it took me awhile to even notice my nails were growing.
  • i eat slower and enjoy what I eat.  quitting smoking definitely makes things taste better, but i enjoy that better taste more.  Food was always just something I ate so I didn’t fall down.  Now I take the time to savor every bite. I’ve begun experimenting with a variety of new recipes as well.
  • I am more capable of thinking before i speak.  I have always either talked too much or not at all.  Now when a thought flies into my brain I am able to stop, breathe, give myself a chance to decide if this thought needs to exit through my mouth or do I let it go.
  • I feel feelings.  this is a direct result of the mindfulness app I used to quit smoking.  The app suggested instead of fighting the cigarette cravings, i might try to really feel them.  Truly feeling the craving and seeing it for what it truly is. Watching it leave without my having to smoke, made my mind stronger, made the next craving a bit easier to deal with. Doing this over and over again helped me form a new healthy habit.  I am now applying this same technique to feelings.
  • I am able to feel what is going on in my body quicker.  i am a diehard jaw clencher. I always have been. Today I am able to notice my clenched jaw quicker than ever before.  Once I am able to identify that I am clenching my jaw, I am able to take steps to stop it.  My jaw, teeth,dentist, and head are grateful.
  • i worry less and Care more

Now, how to end this.  Do I even have to end this?  Do I want this to end?  The answer is so simple.  No.  I am on a new journey and I choose not to end it too soon.  I finally truly and completely believe that I am Going to be okay. No, wait, I AM OKAY!!!!

To summarize.  I exposed myself to mindfulness practice in an effort to relieve self of debilitating anxiety. An App that uses mindfulness to help relieve oneself of unwanted habits found me.  My desire to quit and the repetition of that App not only relieved me of my habit, it opened me up to a whole new way of thinking and feeling and living.

 

 

 

21 days to freedom

Recently I have been doing a lot of work with mindfulness. I figure if it can help me with other areas of my life, why not with smoking.
I “accidentally” stumbled across an App that uses mindfulness as a way to quit….

My first attempt at quitting, I used an unconventional method. I did very well for 6 months. I had no defense against stress and smoked. The second time, Patches did nothing to help me. I do not chew gum and the thought of a lozenge sickens me. I do not need or want another med.
Everything I have seen in this app so far makes complete sense.  I learned right away that nicotine leaves your system rather quickly. So nicotine replacement makes no sense.  Why not just decrease the number of cigarettes you smoke day by day. This is possible with help. Other methods do not teach me about the habit of smoking and how to rid myself of it.

On day 1 I kept track of how many times I smoked and found it to be a lot lower than expected. I have done a lot in the last few years to decrease the amount I smoke and apparently it was working. Now to rid myself of them completely.
In just one day of using this App, I have already learned things about myself and smoking. I always thought I smoked because I was addicted to them and it was a habit. The first time I smoked mind fully, I realized it gives the illusion of calming me.

I do not want to suffocate to death. That is my future if I do not quit. I believe using mindfulness to stop is my best option.  Not only am I learning how to use mindfulness to quit, I have incredible online support via this App.

I tried hard to meet todays (day 2) goal of mindfully smoking every cigarette. I found this to be a bit difficult at times. I would start my cigarette concentrating on the cigarette, then notice I had moved into autopilot. I would then as non judgmentally as I could, bring my focus back to the actual cigarette.

On Day 3. I started the day like all others. With a coffee and a cigarette. This time I also brought my phone with me so I could see what was in store for me today. After debating with myself, I put my cigarette out so I could follow along with the body scan exercise. I found it to be difficult to focus on the scan knowing that I had a cigarette a few inches from me waiting to be smoked.
Having the rest of my first cigarette of the day waiting for me definitely affected my ability to concentrate on the exercise.  I will do things different next time.

 

I learned If I have to make a phone call I smoke. I learned I can crave a cigarette within minutes of just having smoked one. I crave a cigarette before I finish dinner. The RAIN exercise will come in very handy in these situations as well.

I picked a quit date as suggested. 3 weeks from when I started using this App. At first I thought 3 weeks wasn’t going to be long enough for me. I had doubts that I would be ready. Now I am thinking it may be too long.

Yesterday I used the RAIN exercise a lot. I went from 10 cigarettes to 7. The number of cigarettes I am technically allowed is at 13.
I did get a suggestion that I only smoke 6 today. That freaked me out a bit. Only 6? How will that be possible?

Todays goal is to use RAIN each time I crave a cigarette. So far RAIN has been helpful. So if I use RAIN every time I crave a cigarette and it works as well as it has, then technically I should not smoke at all today. That is when I started thinking too much again. If I don’t use RAIN when I crave a smoke, I do not meet todays goal and I fail. If I do use RAIN all day and I am successful then I won’t smoke. I want to smoke. I still get to smoke. I get 6 today.
I don’t want to use RAIN and smoke anyway. That will scream “it doesn’t work” at my addiction. So do I use RAIN each time I crave and let it fail so I can smoke or do I not use RAIN every time and not meet todays goal?

I wrote, “Now I wonder. Am I thinking too much or am I just more aware of things?”

online response “Not thinking too much. This is what happens when we start to wake up to our lives.”

I am having trouble distinguishing between craving a cigarette and thinking it is time for one. For example when I first woke up I thought it was time for a cigarette. I wasn’t craving one.  I just thought I was supposed to smoke one. Instead of smoking I chose to access the App and see what was up for today. I used the RAIN exercise even though I was still not feeling a craving. I did not smoke. 10 minutes later I felt a craving so I used RAIN again. I still did not smoke.

DESTROYING the habit.

A trigger hit me and hit me hard.. I had cigarette and lighter in hand. I stopped.  I took some breaths, focused on feeling, easily recognized that I wanted a smoke, accepted it as well.

I put the lighter and cigarette down and proceeded to go back inside. I did not smoke.

About 45 minutes later, the phone rang. I grabbed it and immediately walked to the door to go outside and smoke. Obviously on autopilot. I stopped. This is the habit they have mentioned.  This is a trigger for me.
I could see the last cigarette I didn’t smoke and my lighter waiting for me outside.
I walked away from the door.
I do not need to smoke while on the phone.
I finished my conversation without a smoke.

For those who do not understand, This a Big Deal!!!!

I spent time on my deck without smoking just to try to start breaking the connection that outside/deck equals smoke. It worked out well as I spent my time listening to a pebble meditation that I “accidentally” came across.

I need to take the word perfection and all variations of the word out of my vocabulary.  This is called mindfulness PRACTICE, NOT PERFECTION.

I have done just that. My original quit date was 11/13 now it is 11/5. But if I meet todays goal, which was yesterdays goal and the goal the day before that, I should remain smoke free today. Being smoke free today is not my goal. Using RAIN whenever a craving comes up is. If using RAIN is successful, I should not smoke.

Do I really need an anticipated date to quit? The first one seemed too soon at first. Then it seemed too far away, so I changed it.  No where does it say I have to smoke until my quit day.  Although my mind/addiction/habit is telling me what great idea that would be.

The program I used to quit was a 21 day program.  You had 21 days to decrease the number of cigarettes you smoked.  You had 21 days to learn how to successfully get through cravings that WILL happen.  I quit in 7 days, but I continued to follow the program to the end. It has been 5 weeks since my last cigarette.  It has not been easy.  At times it has been very hard.  As long as I remember that this can be done and that I am doing it, I will succeed.  Odd, I can set up the App to help me remember….

This Can Be Done!!!!

last butt

My last butt

An Unexpected Path

Hello Folks.  I have been bad.  “Wicked, wicked bad”

roadblock2My plan/path/road was to take the blogging201 course.  I think I completed day 1 maybe day 2.  I encountered a roadblock in the form of physical illness.  Actually there had been a couple of illness crap things going on with me.  While I took the time to care for myself, my blog and many other things were put on the back burner. At times, I have had this blog pop up in my brain, but until today I was unmotivated to write.

“What’s been going on you ask?”

“Shhhh, Don’t tell anyone But, One thing happened which led to another thing then another and another. The result being I started writing elsewhere.    And now I am here.”

“Where is here?”

“On my couch, writing this.”

“Seriously????”

“Yes, seriously.”

laughingfreeI am taking part in a research study that involves using a mindfulness App to help people quit smoking.  When this opportunity arose, I went with it.  Part of the process of quitting is writing down your experiences with this App.  Writing ovah there led to motivation to write ovah here.  Hmmmm. Sharing my experience with mindfulness would not be a bad purpose for this blog. I am still looking for one of those.

A year ago I had an experience that felt almost life changing. I will warn you it is a bit long if you choose to read it.  Looking back, I can see that the experience gave me the opportunity to be more aware of what was going on with me.  To be present. To be in the moment.  Not worrying about something in my future that might never happen.  Not ruminating over something I did or did not do in the past. My soul focus was on whether I could get from the couch to the bathroom without help. I was forced to look at right now and nothing else. I was forced to focus on my body and what I could or could not do. This experience was the start of a journey I did not expect to be on.  This experience led me to My Mindfulness Adventure.

This new awareness led me to a new therapist.  He shall now be known as Dennis.  Dennis led me to a true introduction to what mindfulness is and what it can do.  Learning about it and practicing a bit led me to talk about it.  Talking about it led to a friend sharing a link with me.  That link led me to TheMindfulnessSummit.  I am presently calling this summit my crash course in Mindfulness.  From it I am learning exactly what I need to learn to continue my exploration of Mindfulness.  I am becoming aware (there’s that word again) of how practicing mindfulness can make a difference in my life.  My eyes are opening to the possibilities of what practicing mindfulness can do for anyone who gives it a chance.

roadblockfreedomFor instance, I did not know it could help prevent a relapse of depression.  There are things called Mindful parenting. Mindfulness for business. It can be used to help deal with pain.  I did not know there was such a thing as mindful eating.  Which is a tad odd as I recently made a decision to lose some weight.  I was actually losing weight by using mindful eating techniques that I didn’t even know existed.  The extent of my experience with mindfulness consisted of using it to deal with an anxiety thing.

Back to the MindfulnessSummit.  One of the lectures I listened to led me to a local Mindfulness Center that I did not know existed.  That centers website led me to ask questions about becoming part of a research study. That study was being conducted to see how successful a particular App was at using mindfulness to help people quit smoking.  Odd, I have been thinking a lot about how much I really need to make a final attempt at quitting.  Patches, gum, medication, lozenges – none of that appealed to me.   This appealed to me.  Is all of this one rather large coincidence?  It doesn’t matter as it all came together to lead me where I need to be.  quitsmoking

The first time I quit smoking was a bit unconventional.  The last should be as well.            .

I Really can turn it around

I did it.  I want to shout off the mountain top, “I FREAKIN’ DID IT!!!!”

I will try to make a long story short.

An unexpected not so good thing happened today.  This thing led to what I would describe as an even worse thing, but not devastatingly bad.  Manageable bad.  My hands shook while attempting to use the rarely used cell phone,

First call was AAA.  I just used these guys last Saturday so I am a pro with them.  Despite quivering fingers, I did well with their phone system.  The next call was to my therapists office.  Easy one. Well it became easy after the first number I dialed was a wrong number. Just say hello and ask for his extension here.  No need to deal with a computer.  You know, low tech, they have people.  People you can actually talk to and get to know. 

In my mind’s eye my 1st message to Dennis was panicked.  I could not remember my cell # , and rambled on about how “with my old therapist I had not missed an appointment and here it is Day 3 with you and I cancel…. WTF”

I stopped.

I put my phone down

I took a big sip of water.

I took a deep breath.

I called my therapists office back and left my cell phone number with them.  I then took another good deep long full breath and drank some more water.  The phone rang and it was Dennis.  I don’t think I’ve mentioned him yet.  He has the best voice. I thought my Doctor had a good voice when it came to helping people calm down, but Dennis’s is even better.  Hearing his voice and easily rescheduling my appointment continued the calmness I had started to feel.

Instead of feeding the all too well-known anxiety and anger, I took a few more breathes.  I realized this was the perfect opportunity to take a suggestion of my new therapist.  I did something Dennis mentioned.  Listen to how your body feels.  Feel the feelings.  It doesn’t just happen right away, but eventually I am able to let these feelings go.  The first time I tried it with Roy, I thought “yeah, right, just let it go, so simple yet so wicked hard”  But I have been practicing this with less important life crap.  When I really needed it to, It worked.  Surprised even me.

I had the calm time I needed to realize, “there is not a darn thing I can do to fix this situation.  I will miss my appointment no matter what I do.  It is so out of my control.  I can either focus on the bad of the situation or try to find some good.  I thought it would be fun to try to find some good in this life crap.  So I chose that.

I spent some of my time chatting with the Veterinary Tech I had just spoken to.  I laid down on the green grass and felt the warm breeze.  I drank some water.  I thought, “I should come back and steal some of their lilacs.”  Eventually I met D.J. and Rich.  Turns out Rich knows my husband, knew exactly who I was talking about when I mentioned  ‘the beagles guy’, and did everything in his power to take care of me.  And take care of me he did.  My car will be ready today by 5.

I am a firm believer in everything happens for a reason.  Part of the fun is figuring out why things happen?  It’s not often that I am able to figure it out, but when I do, it can make me smile.

Maybe my pleasant attitude and conversation turned D.J.’s day around. Maybe my expression of appreciation to Rich, on GM’s Appreciation Day I might add, made him rethink quitting his job, leaving his wife, and moving to Alaska.  Maybe someone who was passing by, saw me lying in grass, and it made them think “yes, I need to relax too.”

I forgot the point of why I started writing.  I will end with, despite having a lifetime of mental health issues, I am okay today.  I am not great. I am not perfect. It can be a struggle, but I can be okay.

I just realized my goal today was to answer this question, “If there was one thing you could tell people about your experience with mental illness, either in a family member, friend, or yourself, what would it be?”  Thank you Shirley’s Heaven.

Every day I get a reminder to feel gratitude.  Today I am grateful that I took the extra time to make myself look presentable.  I was expecting a simple trip to therapy, not running into the whole Chevy dealership.

I am going to go watch my humming birds.

he attacked my husband’s bright yellow and red shirt, so we gave him 2 brand new feeders. now we have 2 birds and boy do they fight.