119: A decade

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it.

~ Minnie Aumonier

Here is the slide show I mentioned yesterday.  As you can tell from the photos, my attention was captured (and captivated) by the benches in the park.  This is due, in part, to my proximity to them.  I was in the main garden portion of the arboretum, close to the visitor’s center.  This seems to be one of the more popular areas.  It’s easy to get to and it’s close to the parking lot.  The last time M and I went to Holden Arboretum this part of the park was crowded with people out looking at the fall foliage.  The further we got away from this area, the fewer people we saw.  There were fewer benches as well, all much more appreciated (I should think) because of the hike it takes to get there.

There were not too many people out and about in the main garden area on Monday.  Most of the visitors seemed to be snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, and there are better places to do that than the areas near the visitor’s center.  The benches, occupied by people during out last visit, were empty.  The only thing sitting on them now is the snow.

Ten Years

Today’s outdoor time was pretty uneventful.  The return of the cold turned yesterday’s slush and mush into ice.  I don’t want to be wrenching my back or breaking a limb so I stayed close to home.  I penguin-walked to the feeder to fill it and then hung out on the porch watching the birds.

Now that I got that commitment out of the way, here’s to another.  Cheers!  Today is the ten year anniversary (smoberversary in quitters terms) of the day I quit smoking.  It is still a good, clean quit.  Not one small cheat.  Not even a puff.  Courtesy of my quitmeter on Quitnet, here are my current stats:

  • I have been smoke-free and breathing clearly and deeply for 3,652 days.
  • I have not smoked 219,144 death sticks (cigarettes).
  • Money not spent on the death sticks:  $54,780.00.

Long time visitors to my blog know that every year I review my list called The Joys of Quitting.  I originally started the list during my first year and have been adding to it once in a while.  As I reread it today, some of those joys seems a little quaint to me.  They are still important joys, just not in the same way since they are now the foundation of my quit rather than part of the present moment of quitting.

The joys of quitting ….

.…. the smell of freshly baked bread, daffodils and other flowers, fresh air, sheets that have been dried outside in the wind and sunshine, the earth after a spring shower, scented candles and incense, perfume, buttered popcorn, a freshly peeled orange, and pine needles on a forest floor.

….. the real taste of all those foods I enjoy.

….. hiking up steep hills and climbing stairs without gasping for breath or feeling like I’m going to have a heart attack.

….. sleeping through the night without coughing, wheezing, or waking up craving a smoke.

….. it’s true what they say: Sex really is better when you don’t smoke.

….. lots of spare time to use as I like rather than as a slave to my addiction.

….. the joyous feeling of accomplishment, of knowing I made it through the last craving, of knowing that I’m winning this battle, of knowing that if I can do this, I can do ANYTHING.

….. the journey into who I am and what I am and what I wish to become.

….. learning how to express my anger right away rather than letting it build up to the ultimate explosion. Learning that tears are a river of cleansing and healing. Learning to live life by really feeling it rather than hiding behind a smokescreen.

….. digging deep and finding out that I really do have the strength to do this.

….. healthy, glowing skin and fewer wrinkles. Good hair days. A twinkle in my eyes. White teeth. No more yellow stains around my mouth and on my fingers.

….. living in the moment and appreciating the small joys of life as I take this journey one step, one moment, one hour, and one day at a time.

….. deep, deep, deep breaths which reach down into my toes and seem to go on forever.

….. the look of love and pride on the faces of my husband and sons.

…. the look of love and pride on my own face.

….. the knowledge that it DOES get better if I wait long enough.

….. the swing of my arms, the roll of my hips, and the increasing strength of my muscles and lungs as I take my daily walks.

….. the freedom to no longer worry about whether or not I stink of cigarette smoke when I go out with friends who are non-smokers.

….. the freedom to enjoy a movie, a play, a concert, or a party without worrying about and looking for a smoke break.

….. more energy and a general over-all feeling of being fully, in living color, alive and well.

….. kissing my husband and knowing I don’t taste like an ashtray.

….. training for a marathon, something I never could have done while I was smoking.

….. going on holiday and sleeping in a clean smelling non-smoking hotel room.

….. leaving behind the constant, every 15-20 minutes, craving for a cigarette and knowing that those cravings may occasionally come around as a minor urge, but they’ll never again control my life as long as I tend to my quit.

….. celebrating my One Year anniversary of freedom on January 19, 2002, which is when it finally sunk in that I am really doing this, without one cheat, puff, or slip.

….. the snow-ball effect of moving from one self-improvement project to another because now I truly know, more so than when I first wrote this, that I can do anything I set my mind to doing.

….. celebrating my Two Year anniversary of freedom on January 19, 2003, and realizing that I wasn’t counting anymore.

….. getting together with old friends and family that I haven’t seen in a while and having them comment on how healthy I look.

….. taking off the weight I gained when I first quit (27 lbs.) and taking off more weight now that I truly know I’m capable of doing whatever I set my mind to do. Quitting taught me that valuable lesson. It’ll teach you, too.

….. celebrating a third, fourth, fifth, and sixth smoberversary, and having to be reminded about each of them.

….. voting to go smoke-free in the Bogs and having it pass. It’ll be great, when we move back, to be able to go to restaurants, clubs, and bars without having to suck in someone else’s poisonous smoke. (Sabbaticalville is not smoke-free, much to my displeasure.)

….. celebrating my ninth year of being smoke-free and being astounded by the amount of money I would have spent if I’d still been smoking for all these years.

….. epiphanies.  Even this late in the game, there are things to be learned from the beginnings of this quit.

….. celebrating a whole decade of living without cigarettes.

….. taking a cross-country ski lesson and as we were heading up a hill for the third time thinking about how thankful I am that I quit smoking because I would not have been able to do this if I had continued to smoke heavily.  (And I was a heavy duty smoker.)

I used to end this with:  ‘That’s the short list.’  But it has grown so much over the years that the word short no longer applies.

Has this journey of quitting been easy? No. And I appreciate it all the more because of the effort I’ve had to make to get as far as I have. It’s also important to realize that it hasn’t always been hard, either. The joyous, positive moments far outweigh the crappy, struggling moments. I think that’s one of the keys to quitting…..counting up those joyous moments, no matter how small, and being grateful for them.

If you smoke, think about quitting.  If you quit or are in the midst of quitting, stay quit.  It might take a while but eventually you’ll get here too, and understand just how joyous life can be once you break the bonds of that addiction.

My passion for quitting isn’t just about my own quit.  My mother died less than a year and a half ago of small-cell lung cancer.  Small-cell lung cancer is a deadly, aggressive, nasty cancer.  There are two known causes:  coal mining and smoking cigarettes.  My mother was not (nor had she ever been) a coal miner.  She was, however, a smoker.