Whine-free Zone

Caught myself whining again recently and even though my circumstances seemed whine-worthy at the time, it was just a few minutes later when I heard about some legitimate catastrophe. “Oops,” I thought. “There I go again.” Fortunately I had only been whining for a relatively short period of time.

I took a few slow deep breaths and thought about how grateful I was that I had a roof over my head and food in the fridge. There are plenty of people in the world without those simple human needs. I made a conscientious effort not to beat myself up for whining. Making myself feel more guilty wouldn’t help my mood or the people in the world with more serious struggles than whatever I was whining about.

I am going to try to listen more closely to my comments and to be on guard against whining. I don’t think my ears or the ears of others around me need to hear it. In fact, I think whining can be quite infectious. Listen to folks around you today and try not to be judgmental. Just be curious about whining. Notice when you hear it. When you hear someone whine, do others join in? Do others seem to try to out-gripe the griper? Doesn’t it seem to become a contest of sorts, whenever people start whining?

Is it productive?

I don’t think so.

While I extol the virtue of venting frustration, I think venting and whining might be different because of the intentions behind the behavior. When we need to vent, I think we should ask one trusted friend to set aside a couple minutes so that we can feel heard and maybe have our feelings validated. That’s healthy off-loading of negativity and even the one who heard the venting can feel good for having been a helpful set of ears.

Complaining is important to identifying a situation that ought to change and can be productive when it’s voiced to a person who has the power to fix the situation. Otherwise isn’t it just spreading negativity?

When that same complaint is tossed loudly into an environment where people haven’t been asked to be sounding boards, or lack the power to fix the situation, entire conversations become negatively charged. There is no intention of fixing anything. Whole groups of people are exposed to negativity and usually end up falling into the big vat of whine! Heck, some people don’t fall, they jump in!

And I have certainly fallen and even jumped in before.

So I think I’m going to print out a few of these and post them in places where I’ll see them throughout the day:


When all is said and done, if it’s whining (as opposed to venting or complaining) it doesn’t do any good. So let’s choose carefully.

How will you spend your time and energy – whining or winning?





We Are Not Alone

No, this post is not about extraterrestrials. That may be a conversation for another day. But in a very healthy way, most of us are better when we’re connected to others – especially others who understand our situations. And I don’t mean someone who can whine with us and be miserable with us and complain about all of the things in the world that aren’t fair with us.

I mean someone who can relate to us. Sometime I call it the “power of we.”

We can do things that I (alone) cannot.

When you connect with us, we are stronger, wiser, braver, and virtually unstoppable.

QuittersWin offers phone coaching and free text message support, because we understand that some compassionate accountability can really help us stay on the path and reach our goals.

QW Phone Text Support

And of course QuittersWin‘s most powerful format is the weekly group. There are free groups – open to all – in Athol and Gardner, MA each week. (*Locations and times below.)

Certain healthcare organizations also host weekly QuittersWin groups for their patients in Amherst, Easthampton, and Greefield, MA.

QW weekly Groups

And for folks who live elsewhere, there are social media platforms where you can connect with others on the journey and with qualified experts. Feel free to send a message via Twitter or Facebook. As soon as possible we’ll respond. Following us on Twitter and liking our Facebook page will keep you connected and make communicating easier.


And while I told you this post was NOT about extraterrestrials, I didn’t say anything about no droids!

Fuel up with the power of we and give your journey the turbo-charge you’ve been waiting for!

Thanks for taking good care of you!




*QuittersWin meets at Athol Hospital (2033 Main St. Athol, MA) Mondays at 6:00 pm

*QuittersWin meet at The People’s Place (73 City Hall Ave. Gardner, MA) Wednesdays at 7:00 pm (orientation for newbies at 6:30 pm.)



As the seasons shift before our eyes,

While the swirling clouds reveal blue skies,

And leaves turn up their undersides,

A crimson leaf on a cool breeze glides,

A fresh array of wonders await

Like delicacies upon a plate

The end of summer’s feast for the eyes,

The last – for now – of the dragon flies.

– T Judson Starkey

(photo credit Joshua Lord)


It’s a fabulous time to wander and wonder as the seasons shift and morph. Enjoy the feast or sights, scents, and sounds of the season!




Daily Disciplines

Habits don’t always “just happen!” Some habits need to be built. When it comes to building habits, I think that B J Fogg is a genius and he has a way of making the process pretty simple to understand. (Yes, I’ve written and talked about him countless times. Maybe he’s habit-forming!?) Fogg points out that Tiny habits are actually the building blocks that make up of much of our life.

Adding a new healthy habit to your day is a great way to climb out of a rut, welcome a new season, beat a case of the blues, or even get over a disappointment. Sometimes I call these healthy, hopeful, habits “daily disciplines” because – at least at first – it can take some diligence and discipline to find the right habit, find the place in your day where it fits best, and then practice the heck out of it, until it sticks.

So why not make it a #DoubleDogDare that we all start building a new healthy, hopeful habit today?! If you can’t think of a good habit to build right this minute, try one of the ideas below, but get started today! (Remember, it’s a Double Dog Dare, so you really don’t have a choice!)  Don’t beat yourself up if you miss it a few times. Be willing to move the new habit to a different time of the day if it doesn’t seem to “stick,” and keep at it. Here are a few ideas to choose from or to help you choose your own:

  • Whenever I sit down to eat, I’ll express one thing for which I’m grateful.
  • Whenever the phone rings, I’ll smile and say ‘I wonder if I can brighten this person’s day.’
  • Whenever I leave the house, I’ll bring my water bottle.
  • Whenever I finish a task at work, I’ll check my posture and take a slow, deep breath.

And whenever you do the new habit, smile, and tell yourself that you’re getting good at this! Good luck!



Kindle Kindness

I’m feeling plenty of pain, stress, and suffering in the world around me and it makes me want to respond. So I am challenging myself (and of course, you too!) to start this week with a mindset and purpose of kindling tiny flames of kindness.

I suspect that no matter what personal situations have you feeling stressed or sad or ‘in the swamp,’ every one of us can afford to share some tiny sparks of kindness this week. The world around us needs a few extra smiles, nods, thank yous, and doors help open at the local convenience store.

Your kindness kindles similar acts of kindness. So start a few fires of kindness in your little corner of the world and watch for blazes of kindness to engulf your neighborhood.

I believe it is in the fable of The Lion and The Mouse you will find the quote below:

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”  – Aesop

lion-3347437_1920 (1).png

Determined to Fly

Today I just wanted to share a few quotes and images for my brave friends who aspire to do things others sadly don’t try. Some just settle and watch while others dare to fly.


May these quotes remind you or inspire you as you strive to be more, do more, love more, try more, even fly more!

“He who leaps for the sky may fall, it’s true. But he may also fly.”

Lauren Oliver


“For those determined to fly, having no wings is just a little detail.”

Jane Lee Logan


“When you fly high, people will throw stones at you.

Don’t look down. Just fly higher so the stones won’t reach you.”

Chetan Bhagat


“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.”

Michael Althsuler


“Your wings already exist. All you have to do is fly.”


Have a beaYOUtiful day, and do what is right, even if you’re flying solo!


Master the Moment

I saw this quote recently –

“You’re not going to master the rest of your life in one day.

Just relax.

Master the day.

Then just keep doing that every day.”

I immediately liked the quote and the sentiment behind it. But after a little pondering, I thought I’d re-write it, and since no one seems to know who first wrote or said it, I am certainly free to take liberty with the phrase. Again, I love the sentiment, but sometimes the idea of mastering a whole day can be overwhelming or seem beyond reach.

As I hustled out to my car this morning, thinking about the day before me, I may have been feeling a little anxious. The week is a bit more complicated than some weeks are. I hesitated and remembered something in the house I had forgotten. Back in I went, another minute passed – another minute later than I had hoped to be. And as I approached the car a second time, I spied a sunflower out of the corner of my eye. Yesterday some of its petals were still rubbing its face. But today – at that moment – all petals were fully outstretched, welcoming or perhaps praising the sun.


Be still.


Breathe in this moment.   (grab your phone and capture the moment?)

In that moment, my mood shifted from hurried and harried to serene and grateful. I can’t know that I’ll be able to hold that state of mind/heart/soul all day. But I let the moment have me and therein mastered that moment. And now I have attempted to share the moment with you.

Be at Peace, Friend.

Forever is composed of nows.  -Emily Dickinson 

Grace for Today

Perfect is such a powerful word. It usually conjures up feelings of deep satisfaction, accomplishment, completion, and pride. It’s also – at least for some of us – a deeply troublesome word, often stirring up a profound sense of frustration, feelings of inadequacy, waves of hopelessness, and caverns of dark despair.

When one unfairly holds oneself to a standard of perfection, the pressure can be quite overwhelming and relentless. This bondage to the idea of absolute perfection enslaves conscientious people and sucks the wind from their lungs, leaving them breathless, panting, and too beaten to continue trying to accomplish some impossible task.





Just for today, let’s remember to hold self with GRACE and patience. Allow your honest, earnest, best effort to be sufficient. Your best is enough. You are enough.

Thank you!
Consider printing or otherwise saving the image above. Please share or post it somewhere so it can remind you and other folks. That’s a very kind and gracious thing to do for you and for them.


Your Power

The troubles of this world can sometimes make us little people feel powerless. And certainly there are situations that are beyond our control, but I am often surprised by how much personal power I hold. When wielded responsible and skillfully that power can change the course of a moment, and hour, or a day. And sometimes that positive power can set into motion a chain reaction or even an avalanche of good.

So today, whether you’re feeling powerless or not, please consider the power you have right now or in the next moment to use your power for the good of someone else.

Build them up.

Remind them they are worthy.

Tell them that they matter to you.

Tell them they’re magical (and powerful!)

Who knows? Shine your light and you could start a tidal wave of positive energy.


Please don’t wait until tomorrow.


The world needs your positive energy TODAY!


Don’t let your power go to waste!


Use your FORCE for good.


Have a beaYOUtiful day!

Feel or Flee?

Same four letters – two opposite directions.

When faced with a situation we can either FEEL the feelings evoked by the situation or FLEE those feelings.

As in most of life, there is not a single solution for every situation. There will be situations when allowing the feelings to flow freely could result in catastrophic outcomes. In those (hopefully) rare situations, the healthy response is to avoid the feelings – to shut them off somehow.

Most of the time though, feeling our feelings doesn’t threaten our well-being, it just evokes a lack of comfort or an absence of ease. Unpleasant feelings aren’t necessarily fun, but the truth is they won’t harm us. Avoiding the feelings, on the other hand, by repressing them, stuffing them, or drowning them with a familiar “coping” mechanism can be unhealthy, painful to self and others, and even lethal.

Avoidance of feelings fills the headlines with drama and trauma every day. When we stifle, deny, or avoid our feelings, they fester and grow in size, scope, and intensity. We can give feelings greater toxic power by avoiding them.

I speak frequently and write occasionally about the three steps I try to take when I realize that I am feeling an unpleasant emotion. I have by no means mastered this practice, but I am a masterpiece in progress. Below are the three steps, one of which I’ve already mentioned in the previous paragraph. If the situation allows, declare the three truths aloud.

  1. This feeling (name the feeling helps) has no power to harm me.

Feelings have no substance, neither mass, nor volume. They are an idea that we experience with our bodies, thoughts translated into sensations.

2. This feeling will pass.

Feelings pass or change. Feelings are temporary. And as Vincent Gardenia reminded Cher in the 1987 classic, Moonstruck, Everything is temporary!” (see the clip below and considering indulging in this great movie!)

3. This feeling is known by others. 

Most times, this truth is the most powerful for me. The moment I say, “Paul knows what it’s like to feel anxious,” I can sense the anxiety loosening or the hopelessness brightening. And while the three truths may not eliminate all unpleasant feelings, they definitely help me bear the feelings.

Feelings are in our lives for reasons – some of which we may never fully comprehend. Try leaning into the next unpleasant feeling with curiosity rather than trying to figure out how to make it go away.


As always, I thank you for taking good care of you! You’re a masterpiece in progress, and the fact that we’re even trying to progress, sets us apart from most folks who are adrift  in the sea of feelings, waiting for the next breeze. Stay in touch and stay on course.








Folks have strong feelings about storms and they  certainly seem to be a part of life, so here a few quotes about storms. Today my wish for you is the sentiment contained in the last quote. But first, take a moment to read and consider these other quotes by Paulo Coelho (and feel free to reply with your own favorite storm-related quote.)

“Heaven and Earth are meeting in a storm that, when it’s over, will leave the air purer and the leaves fertile, but before that happens, houses will be destroyed, centuries-old trees will topple, paradise will be flooded.”

“The more violent the storm, the quicker it passes.”

“I have seen many storms in my life. Most storms have caught me by surprise, so I had to learn very quickly to look further and understand that I am not capable of controlling the weather, to exercise the art of patience and to respect the fury of nature.”

And now, my favorite:

“Not all storms come to disrupt your life. Some come to clear your path.” -author unknown


About QuittersWin

About 20 years ago I observed a way to look at addiction that seemed like it might be helpful. People I served in my tobacco cessation practice often seemed overwhelmed by the idea of quitting smoking. I felt that way myself every time I tried to quit smoking. Logic led me to look at ways to break it down, or deconstruct the relationship with tobacco. Maybe if we presented it in ‘bite sized chunks’ people would feel less overwhelmed.

That’s when I saw it – a way of looking at addiction (to tobacco, originally) that gave people hope and direction! Hope – because the overwhelming, amorphous, idea of my addiction actually consists of five components. When I look at them individually, addiction seems a little less overwhelming and I have hope that I might be able to escape addiction’s hellish grip. Direction – because even if I’m not ready to take aim at the whole thing, I can still work on at least one of the five aspects. I have a clear direction and I can take at least a small step today along the path towards my freedom.  This way of looking at addiction was a game-changer!

Thousands of brave hopeful folks have used this approach and found their freedom from tobacco, typically in small groups meeting in community and corporate settings. Many years ago people started applying the BESOCHEMPS model of addiction to other substances and even to behaviors that weren’t typically considered to be addictions at the time (binge-spending, self injurious behavior, gambling, etc.) Today the BESOCHEMPS is being used to address the full spectrum of addictions.

beso orange 5

BESOCHEMPS – The Five Headed Dragon

The reason more people aren’t more successful at quitting is that nobody told us that their are five distinct aspects of our addiction that we need to address in order to get free and stay free. If we handle one or two aspects (like most people do) we will get free but we won’t stay free.
Ask yourself how many times have you tried to quit before? Did you focus mostly on the chemical addiction and perhaps the behavioral triggers, and manage to stop? After a few days, a few weeks, or a few months did you slip, cheat, or just cave in? To use the imagery of the five-headed dragon, by defeating a couple heads of the beast, you wounded your foe, but didn’t defeat it.
Fear not! This quit attempt can be different. This time you’re going to learn how to deal with all five heads of the dragon so it won’t come back and get you.

First we have to memorize the dragon’s name. Look at it again… BESOCHEMPS. The dragon’s name helps us remember each of the five heads.

The five heads are:




EMotional, and


We call the dragon BESOCHEMPS to help remember all five heads.

We all have a “dragon” if we drink to excess, use illicit drugs, smoke, gamble, etc. Even activities like going on spending binges can create a release of endorphins, which can cause a chemical dependency for some of us.
Your mission is three-fold:

1.) Can you see all five heads of your dragon?

2.) Which one (or two) of the heads are most dominant or prominent?

3.) Can you learn the tools and tricks that give you back your freedom?


beso MVelard (Illustration by Mark Velard) 

Let’s take a closer look at each of the heads:

BE havioral 

The things we do just before we use or while we are using—the triggers—become cues ti use. (Example: Pouring a cup of coffee can trigger a smoker to light another butt, not because they’re addicted to the chemical, but because the ritual or habit has become familiar.)

How you can respond: Starting today, call this kind of want a “trigger.”

• Disassociate the partnered behaviors from using before quit day so that they cease to be triggers to use. For instance, if you’re a smoke and you tend to smoke while drinking a cup of coffee, leave your coffee cup inside when you go outside to smoke. Isolating the using behavior from all pleasurable activities until quit day means that you don’t have to stop the pleasurable activities (coffee) in order to stop smoking.

(Note: Some addictions don’t lend themselves to gradual weaning and must be halted completely and immediately because of imminent danger of a single use.)

• Data collection can help you better understand your using. Try to figure out which head of the dragon is behind each desire to use.

• Doing it differently can help you avoid some triggers. Getting your morning coffee at the drive-thru window can help you avoid the familiar routines that were associated with smoking.

• When you discover that you want a cigarette because of a behavioral trigger, be delighted! Don’t despair. This want is just a trick and you don’t have to fall for it! 

SO cial 

Many social situations (the places and faces) can become triggers that make you want to use.

How you can respond: Starting today, call this kind of want a “trigger.”

• You may need to completely disconnect from some of the people you’ve been spending time with. If you’re going to try to stay in touch with them, some things will need to change. This will disrupt social patterns and you might even inspire your friend to try to quit!

• Change the place where you and your buddy meet, at least for a few weeks, to disassociate the social situations from smoking. Perhaps going out to the movies would be an easier substance-free night out to replace your dart night at the club.

• Distract yourself by doing some new healthy activities with your buddy.


Your body may have a discernible medical response to the reduction or absence of a chemical in your bloodstream or craving for a dose. This state of withdrawal can be uncomfortable, and depending upon the substance, may be relieved with medications.

How you can respond: Starting today call, this kind of want a “craving.”

• If you’re gradually weaning before quit day, delay every use. (You’ll end up skipping some of them!)

• Decrease your dependence by gradually reducing your smoking. 

• Drink water as a way to help detoxify your body and give your hands and mouth something to do.

• Deep breathing is a great way to give your brain a fresh supply of oxygen and change the way you feel.

EM otional

Intense emotional feelings or the absence of emotional stimulus (boredom) can cause urges to use. We’ve trained ourselves to use when we are stressed or want to avoid unpleasant emotional states.

How you can respond: Starting today, call this kind of want an “urge.”

• Deep breathing can help defuse these brief periods of anxiety, anger or even boredom.

• Distract yourself until these episodes pass—and make it fun! Try a crossword puzzle or handheld electronic poker game. Change radio stations, take a brisk walk or learn how to hula-hoop.

• Daily disciplines such as prayer, meditation and yoga can help you manage stressors in healthier ways.

PS ychological

To some extent, anyone who knowingly participates in a behavior that causes harm has decided to allow harm to come to him or her. For some reason, we have compulsions to either cause harm or allow harm to happen to us. Smokers (as well as overeaters, alcoholics, etc.) might ask themselves why it’s acceptable for harm to come to them.

How you can respond: Starting today, call this want a “compulsion.” • Certain daily disciplines of a spiritual and/or emotional nature can sometimes help restore a healthier sense of self-worth.

• Dig deep within yourself to find answers and strength.

While it’s not necessarily comfortable to discuss and share personal spiritual beliefs, a focus there may be a way we can hope to become “slip-proof.” Some find that when they learn to see themselves differently it becomes easier to treat themselves differently.

Good luck. This is hard work and you’re worth it. You deserve to be free!


via About QuittersWin

Pretend and Mend?

Accepting an apology that was never given frees us to move forward in peace and strength. – T Judson Starkey

Ponder upon that thought. What will happen when we pretend that a person who hurt us did apologize? Accept that apology, because whether or not it really happened it is really holding you back from peace and progress.

Extra Credit: Here’s a great Psychology Today article by Author, Psychotherapist, Interfaith Minister, Mindfulness teacher, Public speaker, Blogger Nancy Colier on why never-sorry people are that way (and how we need to move ahead anyway!)




“What you see and what you hear depends a good deal on where you are standing.”

        -C. S. Lewis (The Magician’s Nephew)

In both literal and figurative ways, ‘where you are standing’ matters. It can change what you see or hear. Here are a few images that have interesting perspectives:tree-1750784_1920.jpg

We tend to see tall verticals when we walk through the forest. Looking up (shifting perspective) can definitely change what we see!


I find value in reflecting what I (think I) heard to someone else. If I restate the idea in my own words to another person, they can help me know whether I understand the intent of what I heard. In general, sharing our thoughts with a trusted friend is always a good idea.

Two faces or one vase? Eyes and other ears can see and hear things differently.

The next line of that C. S. Lewis quote, sometimes offset from the first by a period and sometimes offset by a semi-colon, is “It also depends on what sort of person you are.” In the story, the children hear the voice of Aslan as sweet and soothing and the Magician hears the very same voice as harsh and grating. In the story, I think Lewis is trying to make the point that at least sometimes, what we hear has much to do with what’s inside us to begin with; our biases, our preconceived ideas and perceptions.

Please be sure not to hear my words as judgmental. I have no interest in labeling people as good or evil, but in acknowledging that my perceptions and my perspective can limit me if I’m not careful.

My wish for you and me is that we would sufficient courage to be willing to open our hearts and minds to appreciate other perspectives, other ideas. Other ideas won’t fix us, because there is nothing to fix. But other ideas might help facilitate change. And I hope we can agree that change is essential for our growth and well-being.


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