Daphne

is giving herself a fresh start!



Entries
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Quit Smoking (read all 40 entries…)
Insomnia and smoking dreams

I relied on cigarettes to regulate my sleep schedule and eating habits so much that I don’t know when my body’s internal clock will ever reset itself. Fell asleep for half of the day again. Now it’s the middle of the night and I’m wired.

I think that being more diligent with myself about getting to bed on time and eating at regular intervals might alleviate the situation. Have to admit that setting a fixed schedule has seemed like too much of a pain to bother with before now.

Also, I had my first smoking dream the other night. It was so vivid! I was just puffing away on this dream cigarette when I suddenly realized, “Wait a minute… I can’t do this! I quit smoking! Nooooo!” Then I woke up freaking out that I had smoked a cigarette… until it registered that I had only been dreaming. Oddly enough, I never smoked a cigarette in a dream (that I can remember anyway) while I was a smoker in real life.



Be fluent in French (43 43 43) (read all 3 entries…)
Making plans to start on this goal

I knew a fair amount of French in high school (landed a 4 on the AP exam), but have forgotten most of what I knew over the past eight years. I really miss being able to “think in French.” I know that my vocabulary would come back quickly if I would only immerse myself again.

I am going to be taking a French class at my local community college in January… just a little over 2 months left until I start. :) I would love to spend time in France someday and I want to be prepared with the language before that day comes.



Record an original album (43 43 43)
I have been getting the songwriting bug again recently...

I have several journals full of lyrics which I have yet to set to music. I would like to turn all that creative output into something that I can share with others. Also, ever since quitting smoking, I have been feeling an intense need to be creative in order to work through my emotions. Songwriting has been a great outlet for me in the past and I think that now would be a perfect time to return to it.

Also, I will soon be returning to voice lessons—a reward which I promised myself in exchange for quitting smoking. That’s another little step toward this goal! :)



Quit Smoking (read all 40 entries…)
7 weeks today

I’ve avoided 735 cigarettes or about 37 packs. Through our combined efforts, my boyfriend and I have spared ourselves 74 packs and have saved over $480. If we were still smokers, then we would have consumed 1500 death sticks together by the end of tomorrow! That seems crazy to think about now. Yikes, so glad that we stopped!

I realized today that I don’t even think about cigarettes in the morning anymore. I still get cravings when I’m feeling emotional or when I am around other smokers, but there are no more thoughts of cigarettes when I’m starting my day!

Only one week until I get voice lessons for my reward. Can’t believe we’ve come this far.



Finish decorating and organizing my apartment (read all 14 entries…)
Bringing order to more than just the apartment

Still slowly working my way through. I figure this goal will take a couple of months to achieve completely. We’ve been keeping up with FlyLady’s missions (it helps so much that my boyfriend is getting involved with this too!), as well as working on our clutter 15 minutes at a time. I am still hovering through the babysteps and am not following a full routine yet, but I am very proud of my progress, as well as of my boyfriend’s contributions. :)

I never imagined that this goal would lead to the discovery of FlyLady… which will lead to the creation of routines… which will lead to scheduling the steps I need to take toward achieving the other goals on my list. I feel that getting my surroundings in order is going to prove to be the key to getting on track to meet my goals. Not that a clean house isn’t reward enough in and of itself. I am so excited for the day that we will wake up in a clean house that simply needs to be maintained!



Finish decorating and organizing my apartment (read all 14 entries…)
Taking babysteps :)

My boyfriend and I did an hour of Flylady’s “Crisis Cleaning” together today. We listened to her talk us through the process on iTunes and made believe that my Mom was coming over to our apartment (even though she wasn’t really) to get our energy up. It was amazing to see not only how much we could get done, but also how much we accomplish when we are working at the same time. :) Call me crazy, but I think it’s romantic to clean together! :)

I’ve been sloooowly working through the FlyLady “Beginner Babysteps.” My kitchen sink is spectacularly shiny, I’ve been getting showered and dressed (with shoes, of course) every single day, I’ve been following some of the daily missions, and the clean is slowly spreading around the apartment.

Also, we made an autumn centerpiece for the dining room last night and put out a fresh tablecloth. I love how pretty it looks every time I walk past it! :) The energy in the place keeps feeling better and better.

Tomorrow, we are going to sort through and organize the cupboards and bags that we marked with “sort me!” post-its when we were speed-cleaning today. Also, we are going to put away the piles of clean laundry that have been taking up space on the living room sofa.



Take care of my parents financially (43 43 43)
What I would ideally like to do...

In my ultimate fantasy, I am able to pay off my parents’ mortgages, as well as to buy my Dad a vacation home close to me so that he (and other family members) can visit more often. I also pay for any traveling that my folks might want to experience in their later years. I have enough to make sure that their basic living costs and any health care needs are covered. In actuality, however, it is going to take a lot of time, work, and dedication (as well as a lot of luck) to get myself to that point. In the meantime, I would be happy just to pay my parents back with interest for all the financial support that they have shown me over the years.

I would like to start on this by sending them $1000 a month. That’s aiming for a lot, but it’s still much less than what I would give them if I could.



Quit Smoking (read all 40 entries…)
Still hanging in!

Passed the 6-week mark the day before yesterday. Today is 44 days. So far, I have spared myself approximately 660 cigarettes (or 33 packs). This means that, in our combined efforts, my boyfriend (aKa my partner in quitting) and I have avoided about 66 packs of cigarettes and have saved at least 430 dollars!

Things are slowly getting easier and I am confident that I have quit for good. That said, I am still getting cravings. The difference now is that I feel more certain that I can resist the cravings, as well as more practiced at resisting. In and of itself, this sense of improved confidence assists in banishing cravings more effectively than any candy, food, or distracting activity.

In addition to working to keep cravings at bay, I have mostly been riding out the emotional coaster. I seem to be going through an existential crisis of sorts. I don’t know if quitting smoking helped to trigger this state or if giving up cigarettes and feeling lost in life just happened to coincide. Either way, I have many feelings of frustration and sadness that I am still not used to handling without having cigarettes as a crutch.

I am still frustrated at myself for having expected quitting to make me feel amazing. Don’t get me wrong—the constrast between my health prior to quitting and my well-being at this point is amazing. For example, the improvements in my lung capacity, my sense of smell, my sense of taste, and my ability to sleep at night are all remarkable. At the same time, as I expressed in my last entry, I still have all of the issues and emotional difficulties I had before I started smoking. Just as smoking did not make my problems go away, quitting did not magically turn my life around. Though that now seems like stating the obvious, I really did think that just a few weeks of no smoking would be the key to ushering in a totally new phase of my life. (And who knows, maybe it still will be and I just need to show more patience.) The last couple of weeks have been mostly about accepting the facts of where I’m at right now in this process and acknowledging that it is going to take further time and commitment to see this through.

In order to stay positive, I have been reminding myself of just how gradually my smoking habit took root in the first place! I must have spent at least six weeks bumming cigarettes occasionally before I graduated to buying a pack of my own for the first time. It definitely took much more than six weeks after that for me to build up to my average of 15 smokes a day. This puts the amount of time I have been a non-smoker for into perspective. The fact that it is going to take more time to extinguish these cravings and move on with my life doesn’t seem so discouraging when viewed in that light.

Many people have warned me that the cravings will never truly go away completely. I know that I will have to continue to be careful to avoid this trap for the rest of my life. Still, I feel like quitting smoking has been a full-time job even up until now. I also feel that being a “smoker” became a part of my identity that will never completely go away. So I am eager for the day when cigarettes will not be among the foremost thoughts on my mind!

It’s a little bit like getting over an abusive boyfriend, lol! If cigarettes were an awful ex, then I’d be to the point where I knew that the relationship was bad for me and that I couldn’t go back… but I’d still be in the phase where I couldn’t get him out of my head or get back to “life as usual” quite yet.

Just 12 more days ‘til I can reward myself with voice lessons! :) (I don’t know how I’m going to afford those yet, but I never knew how I was going to afford cigarettes either and, somehow, I always managed to come up with something. Nice to apply my resourcefulness toward getting something that will actually help me in life, rather than hold me back!)



Finish decorating and organizing my apartment (read all 14 entries…)
I *will* get a handle on this craziness!

So, I stumbled onto FlyLady.net after seeing a number of 43things users’ goals relating to her routines and wondering what it was all about. Spent a while looking over the site, then decided to sign up. I’m excited to have discovered such a helpful resource! I can tell that my life is about to change for the better. :)



get a tan (read all 3 entries…)
I really want to do this...

...mostly because it would be one of the easiest goals to knock off my list in a hurry. Also, I really enjoy the experience of tanning, bad for me as it is. I always feel relaxed and upbeat after lying in a UV bed. On top of that, I have to admit that I feel better about myself with a tan. I’ve been pale, pale, pale for over 3 years. And I’m bummed out by it.

I figure if I go regularly this time, then I can be tan by the first couple weeks of November. I’d like to get some color in time for Halloween though, so that I can feel confident in my get-up. :)



Quit Smoking (read all 40 entries…)
Scratch everything...

...that I said about feeling more alive and quitting being its own reward. I’m still sticking with it, but I hate myself as a non-smoker. I know it hasn’t been two months yet, but I feel more irritable and unhappy than I did during week one. I still have all the issues I had before I started smoking cigarettes, except now I don’t have smoking as a coping mechanism.

Previous to smoking cigarettes, at various phases in my life, I engaged in self-harming behaviors including starving myself and cutting myself. Those issues are behind me. I went to therapy when these harmful behaviors were interfering with my life. I haven’t starved myself in over 4 years and the last time I intentionally cut myself was roughly 6 years ago. But, as I’m realizing now, I never really stopped punishing myself as a way of dealing with life. Smoking, for me, is another variation on the same theme. It’s just another of the slow forms of suicide that I have attempted.

So what’s the next fix going to be? I apparently don’t know how to function without some kind of self-harming habit. Quitting smoking didn’t change that any more than stopping my previous bad habits did.

Not only do I feel like a mean, angry person without cigarettes to calm my nerves, but I also feel just as hopeless now as being addicted made me feel. I quit smoking because I wanted to feel better. I think I forgot that I also started smoking cigarettes for the very same reason—I wanted to feel better. So it’s not like I felt well to begin with. Why I expected to feel better than I did before I ever started smoking is beyond me. Pretty stupid now that I think about it.

The only reason that I am managing to stick with it is because I keep pointing out to myself how cigarettes would make the situation even worse. I already tried smoking cigarettes as a way to feel better—for years. So I now know firsthand that the overall effects of smoking will only make me feel worse. I know that the disappointment I would feel in myself for caving would only be adding to the disappointment that I already feel in myself. Life is already so awful. So why make it even more dismal by smoking? (Especially when I am already through what everyone says are the “hardest parts” of quitting.)

Nobody tells you before you quit that every last feeling you suppressed by smoking cigarettes is going to come surging back to you, mostly for the worse! Yes, a bunch of positive feelings rushed back to me at first, just like everyone said they would. Unfortunately though, I didn’t smoke to suppress positive feelings… so I don’t think there’s very many of those in need of an outlet. I hate my life. I am in pain. Without cigarettes to numb me to these facts, I have to live with them in my face every single day.

The only consolation? I get to deal with these emotions without pain in my lungs and without coughing up phlegm, without the smell of cigarettes clinging to me, and without the physical strain of smoking weighing on me. That’s the only real difference between my cigarette-smoking self and my non-smoking self. My non-smoking self deals with less physical discomfort. That’s all. Other than that, her life is no less miserable for not smoking cigarettes.

Ugh.



Take my dog to agility classes (43 43 43) (read all 6 entries…)
Advanced obedience completed!

Yesterday was our final week of advanced obedience. I can’t believe it’s been six weeks since we started! The time flew by. Between the dog’s new classes, our continuing to train him at home, and his increased number of walks and outings (the latter is thanks to our having quit smoking), I feel like my dog’s quality of life has improved so much! It makes me happy in a way I don’t know how to explain. :)

Advanced obedience has definitely improved our dog’s responsiveness to the commands that he already knew but didn’t necessarily always obey. In addition, our dog seems more attentive to us (seriously, he looks up at us more on walks now!) and responds to us more quickly than he did before. All this should be a great help with his agility training.

Last week, we worked on teaching the dog that “sit” means “sit wherever you are and no matter where I am!” For example, we ran with the dog and then suddenly asked him to sit. We also practiced asking him to sit in a range of situations, such as while walking away and with our back to the dog. We also worked on having the dog sit and stay while we threw toys and treats around him and practiced staying even when someone came running at him. I know I sound like a mom bragging about my kid… but he totally nailed it! :)

In our final class, we worked on giving more commands from a distance, with our back turned to the dog, while looking away from the dog, etc. Our dog responded really well overall, but his attention span wavered a couple of times. I also am growing increasingly ambitious about the distance that I want him to respond from, so we will keep practicing these exercises at home.

We also did some more work on “leave it” and “come” by walking around with the dog on a thirty-foot leash, tossing treats and toys for him, and then calling the dog away from the distraction. Our dog is really obedient about ignoring such items at our command. Getting him to stop sniffing the ground itself, however, is a bit of a challenge (especially when walking over areas covered in leaves and/or grass).

The highlight of the class was definitely showing our trainer how, in the weeks since coming to class, we have taught our dog to “leave it” when we place a treat on his nose. Our dog not only responded to our commands, but also surprised us by tossing the treat in the air and catching it (after being told he could eat it). He’s such a little show-off. :)

Our dog has come to love his training sessions so much. He definitely knows when it’s time for class. Last week, we almost missed class, but the dog plunked in front of me and stared me down around the time we were supposed to leave! I wondered why he was staring at me, then realized the time, my boyfriend and I grabbed his gear, and we made it to class in the nick of time.

Thankfully, our awesome trainer said that we can repeat any of the lessons that we want to for free. I think we’re going to end up re-taking every lesson, ‘cause my dog is seriously attached to her class!

Now to sign up for agility lessons too!! :)



Finish decorating and organizing my apartment (read all 14 entries…)
Next action to take

I need to go through each area of our apartment with a notebook and a pen and make a list of every task that still needs to be completed. There’s too much to do and I feel this job will keep seeming too overwhelming unless I break it down into much smaller steps.



Learn Japanese (43 43 43) (read all 5 entries…)
I found classes offered...

...at a community college not far from me. (The closest community college doesn’t offer Japanese… but meh, oh well.) Seems to be a decently broad course offering and a large department (compared to some of the other schools I found with only one Japanese teacher listed).

Winter classes don’t start until January 5th, but I’d like to submit my application before the end of next month. Need to see if obtaining Financial Aid is a possibility. I also will have to e-mail the department to make sure that the introductory class is being offered in the winter, since the only class schedule available on their website is for the current term.

Wouldn’t it be convenient if they offered the French and Japanese classes that I want on the same days? I could end up checking off not just one, but two of my goals if this all works out neatly… :)



Bellydance (43 43 43) (read all 3 entries…)
I want to get crackin' on this! :)

Looked around for more information about bellydance online. Found an awesome list of resources for more information on bellydance. I want to go through this list more carefully later, but the Middle Eastern Dance Camp in particular caught my eye! :)

Also found a couple of teachers in my area listed on Google. Classes are more affordable than I realized… One studio down the street (walking distance from home!) apparently offers a bellydance course for just $12 a class. Need to call and find out what days the class is offered, as well as call a few different places to see what styles of bellydance they teach.



Star in a major motion picture (43 43 43) (read all 3 entries…)
Not really sure what the point of this entry is...

...except that I find that it motivates me to reflect on my goals, and that I hadn’t written anything about this goal yet.

I separated this goal from my goal of becoming a working actor partially because I want to be completely honest with myself about my motivations for pursuing each. (Also because accomplishing one does not necessarily mean accomplishing the other.) I should also clarify that this goal falls under the umbrella of some of my larger aspirations, including a desire to achieve fame and movie stardom.

Some of my reasons for wanting to be an actor are seemingly at odds with my reasons for wanting to experience being a “movie star.” Like many people, I see becoming famous as a great way to take revenge on anyone who ever hurt me. (The old “I’ll show them!” mentality that so often gets in the way when I’m doing my work!) Then there’s a slew of psychological reasons why I think I want to be famous. These include a desire to compensate for the validation I feel I’m lacking and a need to “make up for” the negative experiences in my past. Not all of these motivations are the most noble, nor do they necessarily reflect the aspects of acting that originally drew me to this work. At the same time, some of my other reasons for wanting to be the star of a film are completely in line with my goals as an actor.

I could (and should) write for days on end about why I want to be an actor. For the sake of this argument though, here are just a handful of motivating factors, off the top of my head and in no particular order:

1) Acting is the only subject that I have ever felt ridiculously passionate about and is the only discipline in which I have consistently shown an ability to commit. (My mother always marveled at how I could fail to complete homework assignments while simultaneously going above and beyond expectations in order to prepare for a role. I would do this even for teachers and directors whom I hated and for shows of poor quality because I was inherently driven to give my all to any and every role, regardless of the context.)

2) Acting is the area in which my strongest talents lie.

3) I can’t imagine being happy in any other profession.

4) I feel that every experience in my life so far has prepared me to be an actor.

5) I believe I have the capacity to heal others and to inspire others through my storytelling abilities and emotional expression.

6) For whatever reason, I have always been comfortable with the idea of being a channel—of allowing a role, an energy, and/or a story to be conveyed through me.

Reasons I want to be a star (also off the top of my head and in no particular order):

1) Pure, plain old selfish desire to be “the star.” To be the center of the story, to be featured in a movie that ends up being a “vehicle” to promote me. (Not nice to have to admit, but true.)

2) Because I want every [insert f-word here] that ever abused me, raped me, picked on me, and/or treated me like [insert s-word here] to see my name in commercials and magazines and wish they’d never been such losers.

3) Because I believe myself to be someone whom others can relate to, who has been through a lot of both suffering and healing, and who has the capacity to inspire others. I’ve always shared myself rather helplessly with others because I feel so connected to other human beings, often in spite of myself! As an actor, I can guide others on their emotional journeys and serve as a projection screen to help others to find wholeness. This may all sound cheesy, but it’s what I honestly believe. Being in a major film is a way to reach a massive and widespread audience.

4) Because I know I could carry a film the way a lead actor needs to. Because I crave that level of importance and responsibility.

5) Because, ultimately, regardless of whatever I may dislike about the entire “star” system, I want the level of control over my career (not to mention the star salary) that an A-lister enjoys. Frankly, I know I would use that position sooo much more wisely and with so much more integrity than the majority of people who have ended up as film stars.

6) I want to be a positive role model. I hate watching people achieve insane levels of fame and then not use all that attention for good causes! I know I wouldn’t use the limelight selfishly.

7) The same way some people want to see the Pyramids or go bungee jumping before they kick the bucket, I simply feel drawn to this experience. Even if nothing else were to ever come of it, I would still want to have experienced playing a lead role in a film at least once in my life. Also, despite the fact that some of my other reasons to pursue this goal are based on a desire for personal glory, there is also a part of me that would shoot film after film for no pay and no recognition because it would be fun. The idea of getting to work creatively in that context sends a thrill of joy through me the same way I become giddy imagining what it would be like to work with the RSC (goal #16) or to play to a packed house on Broadway (goal #17). I can’t explain why… my feelings just tell me that these experiences are right for me.

Not sure if I have an ultimate point to make in all this. I think that, mostly, I’m trying to figure who I am as an actor (as well as in general). I’m trying to understand myself and what motivates me so that I can keep myself motivated when the going gets rough. More than that, I want to be a great actor. In my opinion, that requires doing this work for the right reasons. In order to make sure that my heart is in the right place, I have to be honest with myself about my true motives and aspirations—from the idealistic to the downright selfish.

I need to examine my real reasons for working my way up these ladders—lest I discover later that I had my ladder propped against the wrong wall! I need to let go of the desires that actually interfere with my ability to be in the moment as an actor. For example, the desire for attention and the desire for validation both hamper me greatly in both practice and performance! Somehow, I need to get over those selfish motivations so that my work doesn’t reek of bs.



Better educate myself as an actor (43 43 43) (read all 3 entries…)
Here we go

As I embark on this goal, I’m starting to realize that, in order to accomplish my desired end, I will also have to undergo a great deal of self-improvement. Accomplishing this goal requires self-discipline and commitment, especially since I am not working in the context of a school curriculum or degree program. It also requires organization and time management. Managing my time, showing self-discipline, staying organized, and applying myself even when I’m feeling frustrated and/or bored are all areas in which I often struggle.

I can address a lot of my organizational difficulties by posting my progress here regularly. Sharing my progress with others makes me feel held accountable. I will keep track of what I’m reading, the assignments I give myself, and any classes I take, as well as any other notes about my progress. In addition to keeping a general log, I think it will be helpful to me to record my personal journey throughout this process.

Today when we go to the bookstore, I will pick up a notebook or blank journal to use as my “Actor’s Journal.” That way I can keep my notes on what I’m reading, quotations that inspire me, and personal responses to different texts and exercises filed in one place for my own reference. I also have always found that keeping a journal of reading responses has enhanced my understanding of just about any book.

Posting entries here, as well as keeping a personal journal, will not only keep me on top of my studies, but also will help me in maintaining my commitment. I promise myself that I will assign “homework” to myself and will make practicing a part of my everyday life and routine. I will track the assignments I give myself through my entries here, as well as maintaining and keeping up with a list of books to read.

Between keeping up with my readings and committing to working toward emotional availability through exercises (goal #11), I might just teach myself some self-discipline along the way! With my ultimate goal of working as an actor to keep me motivated, I have an opportunity here to buckle down and prove to myself that I am disciplined enough for this profession. Disciplined enough to accomplish anything I put my mind to, for that matter!

I must confess, I have never had much faith in my own ability to follow a project through to the long term. My hope is that, in doing the work that it will take to improve myself as an actor, I will also discover my own ability to accomplish what I set out to do. Even more than being informed, feeling confident in my ability to achieve my goals is crucial to my success as an actor… and as a person.

Today’s to-do list:
-Go to the bookstore. Buy notebook/”Actor’s Journal” and a copy of Chekhov’s The Three Sisters.-
- Read up to page 71 in How to Stop Acting.
- Practice Guskin’s suggestions for “taking it off the page” with Irina’s monologue from The Three Sisters.

Current homework:
- Write a personal response (in my “Actor’s Journal”) to what I’ve read so far in Guskin’s book. (Also note any quotations I like.)
- Practice The Three Sisters monologue as suggested every day, several times a day, for at least a week.
- After the first day of practicing the monologue, read The Three Sisters.

Future to-do’s/stuff to start working on:
- Compile an initial reading list for this goal.
- Start putting together a list of movies to watch, actors and directors to research, and recordings to view/listen to, as well as plan theatre outings.
- Define the areas of study I want to cover (i.e. study of techniques, Dramatic Lit, Theatre History, etc).
- Put up an “inspiration board” where I can display quotations about acting, my thoughts in this process, and any images I come across that inspire/motivate me. :)
-Clear off the little bookshelf (or the shelves under my nightstand… wherever it ends up working) to create an area solely for acting-related materials and supplies.-
- Get a whiteboard. Put it up on my side of the bed. Keep my acting homework to-do’s and my audition calendar clearly listed each and every day. Go over the list and update the whiteboard each and every morning.
- Start a list of workshops I’d love to take, teachers I hope to experience a class with, and other educational experiences I could take on (like volunteering to teach drama to kids or working a tech gig or taking advantage of the few “ins” that I have to observe a day on set or a looping session).



Better educate myself as an actor (43 43 43) (read all 3 entries…)
Making a start

Read the first 35 pages of “How to Stop Acting” by Harold Guskin. Going to follow his suggestions for practice, as well as read another 30 or so pages tomorrow. I also want to record some of my thoughts on what I’ve read so far.

Tomorrow I get to make a purchase at the bookstore as a reward for not smoking cigarettes. Definitely going to be picking up a play. Also on the agenda for tomorrow: compile at least a rough list of everything I ought to read on the subject of acting.

I have so much to learn ahead of me…



Quit Smoking (read all 40 entries…)
Four weeks today!

Last night, we returned from visiting my boyfriend’s family. I have to admit that their reaction to our having quit was less exuberant than I had hoped. Still, it was touching to see that my boyfriend’s Dad was clearly pleased, as well as to realize how much worry has been lifted from both of his parents.

More exciting still, I met up with one of my oldest friends—someone who knew me before I even started smoking in the first place. My friend was not only pleased to learn that I quit, but also told me how impressed she is with me. I was touched to have someone who knows me so well express that she is proud of me. Sure made me feel prouder than I’ve felt in this entire process so far!

Other than those highlights, our trip was downright horrible. My boyfriend’s brothers are literally the absolute rudest people I have ever met. Their behavior was so gross and hurtful that even my boyfriend ended up an emotional wreck and we wanted to take off running to the nearest gas station for a pack of “comfort.” Instead though, we reminded ourselves that dealing with the overall effects of smoking just makes our lives harder, especially when we’re in stressful situations. Why put even more stress on our bodies and our breathing, when the situation around us is already taxing us? We focused on the fact that quitting has given us back an enjoyment of our lives and of our senses that no one can take away from us, no matter how they may treat us. :)

It’s amazing to see the turn-around in my own thinking! In difficult situations, I used to feel like a cigarette was the only thing that could make everything better. Now I feel like a cigarette is the only thing that could make everything worse! When everything else around me is going wrong, I know that the choice to be a non-smoker is still in my control. No person or problem can make me “have to” smoke by applying enough stress.

So, despite going through a lot of drama, we stayed strong. I learned that I cannot let hurtful people and bad days affect me so deeply that I end up giving up on myself. My boyfriend and I agreed that his brothers are being selfish and abusive and, as such, do not deserve to bring us down. They are certainly not worth letting ourselves smoke over! This experience also taught me that, even though I get more cravings when I am stressed out, in a weird way, being put under pressure strengthens my determination more than anything else!

Today was the four week mark. Our reward is that we each get to buy something at the bookstore. We were going to go to Borders tonight, but ended up deciding to wait until tomorrow for our shopping expedition. There are so many interesting little bookstores that we’ve yet to explore around here that we might opt for a more unique destination than our usual Borders. (Or we could sit at home and order off amazon in our underwear. That’s always fun too.) :)

This system of rewarding ourselves has been hugely helpful for me. I usually don’t indulge myself this regularly. So having new running shoes or getting to eat out is a big deal for me. Such a big deal that I would hate to ruin it by falling off the bandwagon. Every time I want a cigarette, I think about how guilty I would feel the next time I laced up my brand spanking new shoes. I feel like I wouldn’t be able to enjoy them anymore. I feel good about the ways we’ve indulged ourselves as non-smokers, but only because I also feel that we’ve earned these indulgences. If we went back to smoking, then how would I justify all the money spent so far?

In addition to making me feel obligated to keep up the quit, our system of rewards also helps me to look forward to new milestones. Why stop now when I’m halfway to getting voice lessons? I’m only a sixth of the way to considering this goal complete, and that still feels like a long way to go. I need to handle this process step by step, and celebrating each step keeps me from worrying too far ahead.

Upcoming rewards/milestones:
- Only 2 days until the 27th is here! That is the actual date on which we quit. I plan to celebrate by plastering our bedroom ceiling with glow-in-the-dark stars (à la SortAl).
- One more month until the reward I’ve been most looking forward to—going back to voice lessons! :D
- Only 5 months and 3 days until I will consider this goal complete and will get my teeth whitened!

Other rewards I’d like to add:
- Taking a dance class
- Buying more books
- A trip to Sedona, AZ (that’s a big one… would require much planning and would have to be saved for a major milestone)

I have to say though… quitting in and of itself is proving to be the greatest reward of all. I know that may sound corny, but it’s true. Aside from enjoying long walks and being outside more than ever, I’m huffing and puffing a lot less while running and after taking the stairs. I feel like I’ve walked to more new places, enjoyed more of the meals I’ve eaten, and had more spontaneous fun in the last four weeks than I’ve had in the past six months or more! My breath and oral hygiene have improved dramatically, my gums don’t bleed when I brush my teeth anymore, my skin has cleared up, and the only scent lingering on my clothing is my perfume. And, as an aside, eating all the candy I feel like without guilting myself over it is pretty darn awesome. :)

More than any of these improvements in my life, the change I am most excited about is a general feeling of being more “alive” than I’ve felt in over five years. I keep experiencing emotions, memories, and positive thoughts that take me back to being a teenager. This is odd to me, because the age I am flashing back to is years before I even started smoking! I’ve been longing to feel like my “old self” for so long now. I never expected to rediscover parts of who I once was during this process. I feel so much more full of possibility and energy than I did before. For anyone having a hard time with their quit, I hope that you will reap this same benefit soon! It is so worth quitting in order to feel this way. :)

Sorry for the ridiculous length of this entry!



Visit Sedona, Arizona (read all 3 entries…)
Arrggghhh, I want to get out of here!!

Going back to Sedona sounds like such a welcome retreat from everything right now! Just a week is all I need… just enough time to gain some perspective on my life by being away from it. I really want to figure out a way to make this one of our rewards for quitting smoking.

The last time we went to Sedona, my boyfriend and I were both smokers. It would be so rewarding to go back and sit under the stars without a cigarette, breathe in the air without a cigarette, go for a hike without needing a cigarette afterwards, etc… I feel like we probably missed out on so much last time. We were often out of breath when hiking, never properly smelled the air or tasted the food, and, of course, constantly had to interrupt our activities to take cigarette breaks. On top of all that, quitting smoking has made me feel so much more alive! Given that Sedona made us feel energized and revitalized the last time around, I can only assume that, as non-smokers, we would experience an even greater sense of being “recharged.”

There are a number of practical considerations to take into account before we could make even the most tentative plans… Time to start figuring out how to make this wish a reality.



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