Today I am incredibly proud of a brave friend, Nancy, who quit smoking tobacco 1000 days ago! That’s an impressive milestone, especially since tobacco is considered a more clinically complex addiction than any other! Nancy has defeated her “5-Headed Dragon!” Remembering her brave fight and celebrating her victory reminds me that one person’s achievement can send ripples into the pond of this universe and help others to change their lives, too!

Nancy’s winning doesn’t preclude others winning at all! In fact I believe that it increases the likelihood that others will win. Winning a game of tic-tac-toe means that someone has lost. Baseball, Bingo, Basketball, and nearly every other “game” require others to lose in order for a victor to be crowned. This “game” is a different game indeed. In pursuits such as this, there are no losers (except those who choose not to play.)

tic-tac-toe play to win

May others on a challenging journey toward positive change, be encouraged by Nancy’s achievement. Let’s cultivate a healthy sort of yearning (not to be confused with jealousy or envy) for our own success!

Whatever positive change you are trying to make in your life, please play the game. And play the game with others, so we can all win!

Congratulations, Nancy!





So Thankful!

While I’m grateful for a few days to relax a bit, as I think about thanking, I remain deeply grateful that my work gives me opportunities to serve brave and hopeful people. I hope that you and yours enjoy Thanksgiving in a way that brings you joy.

season holds promise



Pick a Pic!

Here are a few quotes that caught my eye (ear?) this week. Maybe one or more of them make sense to you, too. If so, print it out and post it somewhere you will see it often. (I always suggest the refrigerator door, because I have never misplaced my refrigerator.)

they say you cant

One is a photo, one is an abstract, and one is a graphic, so they are different visually. But I guess if I look at all three quotes, there is a theme: Do it!

choose direction

Thanks for taking time to read and think about these things. And thank you most of all for taking good care of you!



Get Support, Be Support

The Great American SmokeOut began 43 years ago in hopes of raising awareness of tobacco’s negative health consequences and the numerous ways a person might choose to break up that complicated relationship. Each year since then, the third Thursday in November has been designated as the day when smokers are challenged to declare a “mini-quit” and try to abstain from smoking for just one day.

If you’re a smoker, love a smoker, work with a smoker, or live with a smoker, let’s celebrate the Great American SmokeOut by getting the support of others and being support for others who are trying to break away from tobacco’s hellish grip.

Compared to illicit drugs or excessive alcohol use, tobacco tends to be more…

  • Accessible – It’s legal and available in LOTS of forms in LOTS of stores.
  • Acceptable – Tobacco’s stigma (while considerable) isn’t as great as the stigma of staggering down Main Street or being found in a gutter with a needle in one’s arm.
  • Affordable – As expensive as tobacco is, if we consider the cost of “a day’s worth,” tobacco is often cheaper.
  • Addictable – Because nicotine can be delivered very quickly to the brain, each puff may make a tiny ‘impression’ on the smoker’s brain. A smoker may puff hundreds of times in a single day and make hundreds of tiny impressions! Furthermore, those impressions get associated with the coffee cup, steering wheel, telephone, familiar face, or familiar place in ways that make those triggers really ‘stick’ in a smoker’s brain. Subsequently those behaviors, faces, and places become cues, telling  the smoker to want a cigarette.
  • Absolutely more LETHAL! -Tobacco kills more Americans each year than homicide, suicide, drugs (legal and illegal), alcohol, motor vehicle accidents, and HIV/AIDS combined!


This is tough stuff and getting support and being support can make ALL the difference! People trying to quit – even for just the day – are brave folks. Compassionate support is a real game-changer. So let’s get support and be support! We deserve to be free friends, and together we can be!

Day One 1

Check out this link to see how to compassionately support a quitter!





Color Your World

This photograph by my friend Joshua Lord has mystified me since I first saw it. As I share it today, I think perhaps it’s calling us to color our world with our own unique light. We ought to see ourselves regularly as agents of change in this world, with light to share.

To be clear, I think the photograph is stunning, especially in black and white. I don’t need to change Joshua’s photograph one bit. But I deeply believe that we need to change our world and furthermore I believe – I know in my bones – that we can. 

What color, light, love, compassion do you have to share today? Please go and be what this world needs today. Share your brilliance and watch what happens all around you! And perhaps with our focus upon the needs of others and our unique light, we will find ourselves somehow less aware of our worries or fears. Make it so, agents of change, make the world more beaYOUtiful!

Joshua Lord fall color



Me or Method?

Everybody falls short, falls off the wagon, fumbles, stumbles, slips up, gives up, or gives in. It happens…to everyone!

Disclaimer: I don’t believe in jinxes or I wouldn’t be writing this. 

We’re human and every human has the experience of failing. (There, I said it – the “f” word.) What happens after we fail is not the same for every human. Some of us, compound the failure by making an assumption that can reduce our chances of future success. We blame ourselves. Blaming is neither fair nor necessary in many cases. Self-blame can be toxic and may erode our resolve, leaving us stuck and feeling hopeless.

To be clear, I’m not saying that we’re not responsible for what happens or doesn’t happen. But there is a difference between being responsible and being to blame. Maybe the reason that we didn’t reach a goal or accomplish a task is because the plan wasn’t adequate.  Maybe some of our failures are due to design flaws* rather than personal insufficiency. Perhaps our plan had some ‘banana peels’ in it. I think looking at ways to redesign the plan might help keep us from beating ourselves up.


When an attempt (to lose weight, stop smoking, exercise more) doesn’t yield the results we hoped for, blaming self can lead to hopelessness. Don’t assume the blame – adjust the plan. Make the change you need to make in the plan or method you’re using and try again. Resist the temptation to blame and you’ might be able to stay in the game long enough to win it!


*B J Fogg, PhD has much to say about designing behavior. Check out his TEDx Maui talk: “Tiny surprises for happiness and health”



A Favorite Time

There’s much that I love about this time of year and in particular, this weekend. Yes, an “extra hour” sounds like such a gift (even if it’s just the same hour we gave up earlier this year.) And even if this “extra hour” isn’t really free time, the idea having more time certainly appeals to us all.


I smile and grab a scarf as the air grows cold

The leaves begin to shift from green to red and gold

We reach for brush and canvas, this beauty to hold

Or will a camera do justice to colors so bold?fall-foliage-3705550_1920.jpgPerhaps I should just breathe it all in

Forgive me if I do and grin,

And save it away, remember within,

For a day when I lack a woods to walk in.fall-foliage-3736055_1920.jpgIf given the gift of an extra hour, I might just spend it walking in nature. This weekend remember to change your clock and take a walk!




The Child that We Once Were

Here are some excerpts from one of my favorite authors – Paulo Coelho. He just published ‘The Child Within Us.’ A few phrases stood out as I read it. 


We must listen to the child that we once were, and who still lives within us.

girl lays in flowers

This child understands about magic instants.

We can muffle his sobbing, but we can’t hush his voice.

child with paint on hands face.jpg


Let’s allow the child within us to take the reins of our existence a little. This child says that one day is different from another.

Let’s make the child feel loved again. Let’s please this child – even if it means acting in a way that we’re not used to, even if it seems foolish in the eyes of others.

boys play water.jpg

If we listen to the child we bear in our soul, our eyes will shine once more. If we don’t lose contact with this child, we won’t lose contact with life.

I think Paulo is inviting us to play and truly live!

Two Most Important Days?

If a quote makes you feel like moving in a positive direction, I don’t really care who said it – post it – stick it to the fridge – put it where you can see it and it can motivate you. I like this one and I’m not sure why. needs-3007308_1920 - Copy

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born

and the day you find out why.” – Anonymous*

If understanding the purpose of your entire life seems daunting, let’s just keep it in the day. How about finding purpose in this day – this moment? Make today matter. Have a beaYOUtiful day!

*Note: I’ve seen this quote attributed to Mark Twain, and it always makes me wonder which of his characters in a story might have said it. I was pretty sure that Twain himself wouldn’t have held such a belief.

When looking further into the quote, I was pleased to find this article, written by folks who taker their Mark Twain very seriously. I still don’t know for certain who to attribute the quote to, but I’m pretty sure I know who didn’t say it.

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

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