Sunday, February 08, 2009

Mary's View on Kicking the Habit


A 72 degree Sunday! This is an old photo of walking weather. That's what we did today. Wonderful.

Tomorrow I will celebrate four weeks of smoke-free living. I feel real good, but when I thought the going was easy there came a twist. Listen up, all you smokers and non-smokers out there.

Someone told me day 21 would be the toughest. Why so? I have no idea, but I remember day 21 and it wasn’t a grand day, by any means. Another person told me getting passed the first month and a half is the key to success. Well, I’ll be dipped. I’m not there yet.

Weeks one, two, and three were smooth sailing. I floated from one day to the next in a euphoric/honeymoon state of mind – just me and my happy, smokeless self. Ah, to breathe deeply and quietly without sounding like an old purring cat, to drag the 500 pound trash receptacle up the driveway with breath to spare at the top, and to laugh hard without coughing was such an immediate, noticeable, and good change. I do believe my skin looks a little brighter and my teeth are a little whiter.

I was not a heavy smoker, so I can’t imagine how difficult it is for multiple packers to quit! However, an addiction is an addiction. Week four has been hellish and I’m still dealing with it. The honeymoon is over. Nicotine gum saves me as I slowly wean myself off the nagging drug ahead of schedule.

So, as I sit here foot-tapping to Cheryl Crow and Eddie Money, I must vent. You may click your back button if you haven't already.

Perhaps I became very tired of being happy with my delighted self, tired of staying occupied with life outside of planning my next cigarette break, and began to let every...little...damned...thing on earth irritate the sh-t out of me. For example:

Those freaking damned ants are crawling around in the bathroom again. They appear out of nowhere.

Someone in authority at work asked me to serve on a college-wide “Smoke-Free” committee. Is that nailing someone who is vulnerable and has more than enough to do already? That was very evil.

A simple photography software update I installed on Friday caused the program to hang up and hiccup. Hence, I wanted to scream. I have no patience for that and wanted to drag on a cigarette so badly. Computers can't run fast enough for me anymore.

Everything and everyone at work brings out my best sarcasm and cynicism. I threw a stack of paper last week and cracked my mouse. I hated that mouse anyway.

Habitual triggers continue to torment me. I still reach into my right pocket for a cigarette and lighter but less often than I did four weeks ago.

Facebook continues to eat away at my spare time and I’m very annoyed about it. How could I forget allegiance to my blog?

During the first three weeks of withdrawal, I lost one pound. It’s not supposed to be that way. My, oh my, how quickly things changed. I gained five pounds in five days last week. You read that right. I’m almost speechless about it and sheepishly admit that eating two breakfasts and two lunches one day had much to do with it. The potato chips and Snickers bar I ate in the privacy of my office every afternoon wasn’t necessary, really. I can list every edible item in my refrigerator and pantry right now. I have loads of baby carrots but prefer salty crackers or Hershey Kisses. Yesterday I almost bit into a chunk of Zick Dough and later, at a restaurant, I was the one still cleaning my plate while the server had cleaned the rest of the table. No take-home box for me!

Today, I am fueling up on unsalted peanuts and water. I will lose those damned five and at least five more pounds between my neck and hips in three short months.
And, dear readers, I will remain smoke-free because I want to.

Life goes on in the back yard and this week, I chewed that nicotine gum double time.


It was irritating to play hide and seek with Tufted Titmouse. (What a goofy name.)


And also with Carolina Wren.


Why won’t Titmice sit for photos like the finches do? Huh?


Female Cardinals play games, too. She teased me unmercifully. After about thirty shots...I smiled.

Another constant tease,


Those nuts looked scrumptious to me. (No I didn't.)


Week five will be better, I think. A short blogging break sounds good. I'll be back when I settle down or lose a few pounds, whichever comes first.


dmmgmfm said...

Oh honey, I know you can and will do it! Things will get better and easier and soon your computer will run fast enough and you won't be frustrated with everything in life.

Susan Gets Native said...

*said very quietly and politely*

We love you Mare. It's gonna be okay.

; )

jason said...

Congratulations, Mary! Not on success; on perseverance. Success is abstract when it comes to quitting; many quitters pick up old habits rather easily. What counts is staying in the race. You inspire me by facing the challenge even if it's difficult.

And your photos are as magical as ever! I struggle with the titmice, cardinals and chickadees as well, so I feel your frustration...

Mel said...

Hola Mary,
Hang in there, you will make it ;)

p.s. You might get a visitor earlier than expected... (mystery...)

jane augenstein said...

Great pictures Mary. Love the one with the seed in it's mouth.

Hey, it's the time of year for cabin fever or whatever; I have been pretty much eating everything I can get my hands on (grrrrr) ......and I'm not trying to quit smoking! I just have the
can't-get-outside-hee-bee-jeebies (is that a word?) Spring will be here soon and things will be better. You hang in there, you will make it!! Keep hunting the birds with you camera and keep posting the gorgeous pictures!

Betsy Banks Adams said...

Oh Mary, I'm so proud of you!!! You are in control of YOU now--and not allowing the cigarettes to control you. Hooray!!! It's never easy--and probably never will be. BUT--just don't let yourself EVER take that first drag...
You've won the battle --and now you need to win the war!!!!

Hang in there. You are doing great.
P.S. Love your birdies!!!

Unknown said...

Sometimes breaks are just what we need. I have not blogged or been on facebook all weekend. To many other things needed my attention.
Mary a friend of mine quit smoking through hypnosis. She says it worked very well. Just thought I would throw it out there for you to consider.


You're gonna get there Mary. Be proud of yourself.

TR Ryan said...

May I suggest a good clean shot of tequila? I have a frigid bottle of Siberian vodka tucked away for emergencies - it might just do the trick.

I put my FB use on a timer and still fail every time. I have random thoughts of deleting my account -- and then I discover someone or something absolutely priceless and I am sucked back in.

Keep up the good work Mary. I am so proud of you. Chew, chew away. Throw as many things across the room as you can. It will all get better soon. But just in case - I'll be packing heavy for W.V. Gulp, gulp.

Kim said...

Keep it up Mary!! I will be soon joining you and have to do it before April 1st when they raise the cig tax yet again.

I am wincing hearing your withdrawl stories though. I am not looking forward to them in the least.

As always, great pictures and keep it up with the non smoking!!!

Beth said...

Oh Mary, be good to yourself. And I know what you mean about that zick dough, it does smell good. Good luck with the resolve and I'm sending you warm thoughts and good wishes.

Julie Zickefoose said...

Ohhh--who knew that there'd be a nasty surprise waiting around the corner? I'm so sorry. To make you feel better: I have been eating everything in the cabinet lately and I have no kicking-the-habit excuse. My monkey: late-night raisin bran, only the highest-carb cereal you could find. I know exactly what you mean about the baby carrots--yawwwn.

AND I feel a rumble in Blogland, too, as I and others struggle to get re-engaged with our blogs. Facebook is such fun, so immediate, so hilarious at times, but it is a sneaky timesink. The Time Goblin!

Think of TR and his Facebook timer! How funny is that? And the fact that he's on a 36-hour flight to SE Asia but still finds the time to cheer you on and up. Too bad online friends aren't chewy and delicious as well as being satisfying, huh?

Angie said...

You hang in there, woman!! I'm over here in TN rooting for you---just think, you could be dealing with dog poop and pee all over the house, dog screaming when you step out of its 'zone', wondering if dog is dying every time you run to the store...on and on and on. *sigh* We WILL get through this stuff, Mary, but we may play hell doing it!! :D

beckie said...

Well at last! I've been waiting for you to say it isn't all roses. Not because I want you to fail! I so want you to succeed!! I knew that monkey would come back to haunt you. It did me, enough to really question my desire. But ine day soon you will wake up and it will get a wiff of stale cig smaoke and you will almost get sick. Then you realize you've made it. Hang on because I know you really want to. You are doing great-just a little while longer-stay the course.

Just don't do what did. About 6 mos. down the road I was cleaning and found an old half pack. I though one won't hurt. One did hurt,,long story short, with in a week I was back to my regular quota. Si, I am rooting for you! I want you to do what I could not.

NatureWoman said...

Phew, Mary, you'll do it, I know you will. Sorry, I couldn't help but LOL when you said you almost ate some Zick dough.
And you continue to take the best birdie photos. Simply amazing.

Anonymous said...

Mary, I'm not trying to quit smoking and I have been eating like there is no tomorrow! The winter always seems to do it to me, but this winter really seems bad. My mom said peppermints really helped her when she quit and I've heard other people say the same. It might help with the food cravings as well. As for the frustration at work, I know how you feel. I wonder if that has something to do with the winter weather as well. As for the ants, try putting lime (the white powder kind) down outside around your house. Use a pretty thick line. Someone recommended it to me and I haven't had any since! Apparently, they don't like to cross it.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I love the picture of the Licker Sisters on their walk. It reminded me that this view of Luna is what I see most on our walks. Not the pretty side exactly but (tee hee) the end that is ususally available on a walk.

I can't imagine the pain you are going through with stopping your smoking. I am so proud of you and your efforts. It will all be worth it at the end. If it is any solace to you I have gained 15 pounds this winter and I can't blame not smoking for it. UGH... I am on the way to losing it though. No more cookies, candy and 3-hour Happy 'Hours'. tee hee.. Hang in there Mary. You can do it. Just try to leave the wallpaper on the wall. You will be happy.

Dog_geek said...

Hang in there, Mary! Do what you gotta do! We're all rooting for you!

KGMom said...

Wow--Mary--you've got the WHOLE gang here cheering and rooting for you.

As for your "I have loads of baby carrots but prefer salty crackers or Hershey Kisses"--me too, and I never had a smoking habit to kick.

Now if you REALLY want to get mad--get angry at the tobacco companies who sneakily and stealthily cranked up the nicotine levels in cigarettes at the same time they were saying--oh, we don't want young people to smoke. Bull sh*t--they are the worst, manipulative SOBs on the planet.

So, you hang in there--don't go back. 'Cause if you go back, it's the tobacco companies who will benefit. And you don't want that!

Tina said...

...actions speak volumns about who we are..the sm fact you shot 30+ pics to finally get "the picture" of that female cardinal is in itself a glancing reflection of the great strength you possess...and the smile you felt at the end said it so. You might feel you have less patience now..but believe me anyone who produces a blog with such wonderful photos and words that continue to paint more visions..has eons of will power, determination to see your end result and the desire to reach those goals..and of course you will also feel that smile again!

NCmountainwoman said...

You go right ahead and rant, Mary. We'll be here.

At least your feeders are attracting some great birds. I can't imagine the added frustration if you had last year's avian dregs.

Am I missing too much fun by not having a Face Book page?

Heidi said...

Oh wow Mary! With the exception of your cardinal, I saw and photographed all your western counterparts yesterday :) Perhaps I can consider the lesser goldfinch like the cardinal?

And just so you know... I get all rage-filled at times and throw stuff and I'm not quitting smoking! So you're already better than I am :)

Keep it up! You can do it! You can deal with the pounds later :) Spring will help with that.

Cheryl said...

Mary.... well up anything you enjoy is soooo difficult. You are allowed to be grumpy....its hell.....but hang on in there.....your health is so important.
My mother and father were both heavy smokers but managed to give up over twenty years ago now. They both have heart conditions due to smoking though.......

Sending you heaps of positive thoughts....

Love your birds......especially the female cardinal....

Cicero Sings said...

Oh good for you. Hang in there. I'm so glad I never started to smoke ... I'm sure I would have had the dickin's of time quiting ... little will power here!

I had ants last summer. Whiz up sugar with some borax ... it may take a week or two but they will pack it back to their hill and slowly, slowly they will come back no more. I felt evil but ants and I can not live in the same house.

Maybe I don't have enough "friends" on Facebook but I'm not that enamoured with Facebook. Good thing as blogging takes up FAR too much time! An addiction itself in my mind ... one I toy with quitting every now and again ...

Jeff Gyr said...

Hey Mary--

For what it's worth, let me add my voice to the choir of encouragement.

Keep on pushing forward!


Rose said...

Been there, done that, felt that...and will have to go through it all again:(

Mary, you can vent all you want to us;we understand and sympathize and--sorry if you didn't intend this--laugh at all your ranting. I think you reached one of those humps that are hard to get over. Once you do, I'm sure it will get easier again. Keep hanging in there!

Corey said...

Gonna go a COMPLETELY different direction with my words here. Why has no one else mentioned your ants???

It's cool, I got this. Go to Lowe's and buy a product called Terro. The ants have met their match.

JeanMac said...

Mary, I feel you have it made after the first 24 hours.Yeah for you - when I quit, I thought I'd die when I went the first hour without my enemy - after 24 hours, I pompously told people, "I am a non-smoker" - it helped.Cheers to you!!!Love Jean

Kathie Brown said...

Mary, keep up the good work! I'm so proud of you! I hope to see your smoke free face in WV. Then I'll give you a congratulatory hug and race you to the birding van! That little chickadee looks like it is flirting with you! Thanks for updating us on your progress! You know, I heard that black licorice helps curb the craving also. I can't speak from experience though. You'll have to try that one out for yourself!

RuthieJ said...

Hey Mare,
I will say "Ditto" to all the encouraging comments that everyone has already said to you, but what I really want to say is you have every right to be irritable and what's up with those dickheads at your workplace anyway? Don't they already know how much you have on your plate? Just tell 'em to "Kiss off!" It's time to take care of Mary, dammit! And then once the weather gets nice and you lose that 5 lbs and aren't craving those smokes anymore, then you can go back to being "nice Mary."
Dang, I wish you weren't so far away.....
{{Hugs}} from Minnesota

(if this comment is too profane, feel free to delete it--I'll understand)

Mary said...

Ya'll blow me away with you sensitivity. Thank you again!

And Ruthie, sometimes PROFANITY is the only way to go. I love you for it.

Anonymous said...

Mary, we are somehow in sync! On the same day you posted this, I drafted (but didn't publish) a crabby post of my many current pet peeves. I was so irked by everything! I wish I had a good reason to be irked, just my natural crankitude, I guess. I'm glad you had the cojones to post your feelings, and I'm gladder that you're hanging in there with not smoking. Not easy, but you can do it!

Anonymous said...

Mary, Congrats! FB seems to be taking much of my time also! At least I get to chat with you from time to time!

Heather said...

Hang in there Mary. We're all here, rooting for you. Take a breath, break things when you need to, and don't worry about the pounds... one thing at a time. And by the way, the Zick dough don't taste so bad. I had a little nibble this weekend, just because I was curious. I decided to make my very fist batch ever during a weekend of 50+-degree temps, which was silly, because our feeders hardly got hit at all, let alone any birds showing interest in a new food source. SOMEBODY in my yard had to eat some, so it might as well have been the cook! Take care!

Larry said...

It took me months to get used to the feeling of not having a cigarette.Fear not-you'll be hacking that old tobacco out of you lungs soon.-Great photos Mary!

Diane AZ said...

When I quit smoking (30 years ago), my coworkers and family said they liked me better when I was a smoker. Oh well, I guess I was a little cranky for a while. You ended up with a lovely picture of the female cardinal, she was worth the effort!

J.G. said...

C.S. quit cold turkey in 2006 and was ever so cranky for weeks. BUT it was worth it. He is so much healthier and happier now. You can do it!!!

Annie in Austin said...

The only smoke I ever got was secondhand, so can only say good luck at sticking to your plan, Mary. When my dad and uncle quit they substituted toothpick-chewing for smoking. Please go for the carrot sticks instead.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Vickie said...

Mary, how priceless and honest! Your humor will get you through it with a little crunching and gnashing for good measure. I started laughing with the snickers, carrots and zick dough but I felt every flinch and irritation.
Onward! You will love the smoke-free life.

I loved those pesky birds you photographed, especially the purple finch! And guess we've all had a bit of a facebook time warp. Love the timer idea but I'm hasn't worked for anything else!

A New England Life said...


I hope you're enjoying your time away. I've been taking some breaks myself from blogging lately and it feels good.

Nice shots! My fave is the female cardinal. I've tried to get up close to her but she won't have it. And those darned chickadee's .. it's like chasing a fly on caffeine! lol! Sit still, will ya?

All my best on your smoke free journey : )

Dawn Fine said...

Howdee Mary♥
Happy Valentines Day♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Balisha said...

Happy Valentine's Day, Mary.

Q said...

Dear Mry,
Are you counting birds for the Backyard Bird count?
Happy Valentine's Day!

Wendy said...

You can grump all you want! You are entitled. I am just so happy you are sticking with the no smoking. It must be hard. I find it hard to give up chocolate, so usually don't!
Loved your pics and your sense of humour.
Lots of hugs,

Unknown said...

I commend your efforts. And yes, Facebook is a rabbit hole. You log in, and then 2 hours later you wonder what happened. Somebody told me I'll never get those hours back. But isn't that the case with every hour we spend anywhere???

Naturegirl said...

Mary: Love coming by for my dose of humor.Butts in your first photo!LOL
Your my kind of gal..Snickers and Hershey kisses!! Yah man!!
Seriously good for you for kicking the habit! The photos of the birds are wonderful as always! smiles and hugs

Rurality said...

Congrats on sticking with it! I still get the urge every now and then, even after 12 years, but the good new is, it's now easy to laugh about and it's easily forgotten.

Donna said...

Hang in there Mary, I know you can do it.


Delilah and Mary said...

Hang in there you can do it. My mom quit 11 years ago she did it cold turkey. My was smokey one day all those years ago and said "why am I killing myself for" and after that she stopped quiting. I adopted a new Boston today his name is Albert(we call him Albee) I posted pictures. Getting over Max's death was hard but we managed to move on. Stay on the wagon you will be a lot healthier and happier for it