Deserve?

Any of us who are trying to build a healthy relationship with food may want to give this a careful read. Similarly, those of us trying to stop smoking or other substances, can probably remember convincing ourselves that “I deserve this reward.”

I understand that seeing a slice of chocolate cheesecake as a “reward” might be easier to understand than looking forward to inhaling a couple lungs full of soot, but “reward” is in the eye of the beholder. Maybe a cardiologist or dietitian looks at cheesecake and sees high cholesterol and plaque-clogged arteries!

After a long day, a tough task, or any sort of challenge, indulging oneself in a treat or reward seems reasonable. And perhaps more than seeming reasonable, it feels good! It’s true. Life is challenging and a well-placed reward can keep us moving. But we really owe it to ourselves to reexamine what kind of reward we deserve. As for me, I am pretty confident that I never deserve a lung full of arsenic and polonium! (YIKES!) So if we still think a cigarette is a “treat,” we need to remember that we deserve better!

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Life’s journey ought to have rewards and treats and even indulgences along the way, but let’s try to be sure that the choices we make to reward ourselves are positive and health and truly serve us! A piece of fresh fruit and just a small bite of dark chocolate can make me feel like I had dessert. That’s actually a dessert I deserve (and even the dietitian would probably agree.) A quick five minute walk around the block, counting how many different kinds of birds I see or hear is a “break” that a cardiologist would be happy about.

It really is up to us, isn’t it – to decide how we choose to see things? Challenge your idea of treat, reward, and what you deserve and see if there are choices that would serve you better.

We deserve to be free!

Slip Happens!

On May 13, 1918 the United States Postal Service issued it’s very first Air Mail stamp. For 24 cents you could send a piece of mail by airplane, which was significantly faster than the “pony express.” One  batch of those famous stamps became infamous because the image of the biplane printed in blue ink inside the red frame of the stamp was upside-down! (OOPS!)

The stamp pictured a Curtis Jenny JN-4HM, a biplane modified specifically to carry mail.

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This particular mistake turned out to be very valuable – at least to some philatelists. Two of them sold for $977, 500 and $825,000 in 2007. In November of 2018, a single “inverted Jenny” sold at auction for $1,573,000.

While we don’t usually feel proud of our mistakes, the fact is that some of them can be valuable because they can teach us something. So if you’re on any sort of journey that requires behavioral change – quitting smoking, exercising more, gossiping less, saving money, losing weight  – slip ups happen. It’s a normal part of those sorts of journeys. But if we learn from the slips, they can actually be beneficial steps toward our eventual triumph. Hang in there and try again. It may be helpful to share your mistake with a trusted friend or mentor, too. That can remind us that slip-ups are fairly common and are often a part of the journey. A mistake is nothing to be ashamed of, but it would be a shame to waste the lesson each slip can teach.

#SlipHappens

 

This Moment

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Can you take a moment with you?

We’ve all experienced a moment that was deeply pleasing, deeply calming – a moment when we felt as though “all is well in the world.” Feelings like that may only last a moment before the busyness of a day intrudes and pulls us out of that beautiful moment. but wouldn’t it be nice of we could revisit that moment again and enjoy the feelings of that moment?

If we give our moment a few “handles” we can make retrieving the moment easier. Just like searching the internet, if we carefully attach tags to our memory of a moment, we may see that it becomes easier to find that memory (and the feelings attached to it) again. Our brain’s temporal lobe even uses smells to “glue” some information in place. And giving a name to that feeling/experience can be helpful, too.

 

The next time you experience one of those moments that you want to be able to find in your mind again, try this “recipe” for a lasting memory. I’ll use the serenity I find walking in the woods as my example for my moment.

  • Open eyes widely, smile and say,
    •  “This is what serenity looks like.”  
  • Close eyes, smile, take a slow deep breathe, and say,
    • “This is what serenity smells like – fresh, earthy, alive.”
  • With eyes closed, smiling, and ears focused, say,
    •  “This is what serenity sounds like – birds, a breeze, and a babbling brook.”
  • Eyes open, smiling, say,
    • “This place makes me feel safe, peaceful, and serene.” (3 feelings is good.)
  • (Optional, if applicable) Smile and hum a song that feels like it goes with the moment/place.

With all of the “glue” that’s now applied to your special moment, you may be surprised at how quickly you will be able to call up that memory and the feelings that you’ve connected to it.

#NoCopay

#NoChildproofLids

#GoodMedicine

 

Before the Ashes Were Cold

The apparently accidental fire that destroyed much of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, was devastating to countless people around the globe. Out of their sense of loss, people have tried to express themselves in prayers, songs, words, and tears.ND fire

A symbol of hope and faith that has stood for over 800 years was nearly lost forever in a few hours.

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Irreplaceable works of art and relics were lost. Hundreds of firefighters battled the blaze as the fire illuminated Paris’ sky.

News of the tragic fire immediately spread across the globe and countless eyes watched in sorrow as a truly magnificent monument of hope was transformed into billowing columns of smoke and piles of ashes.

BUT…

…before the ashes were cold, before all of the tears were shed, people around the world responded out an abundance of hope and with undaunted spirits. This symbol of hope (to people of many religious backgrounds) would not be lost. Along with the heroic efforts of those who fought the flames and ferried priceless works of art to safety, there were other heroes who decided before the fire was extinguished that hope would not be!ND front

Within 24 hours of the fire being defeated, nearly one billion dollars had been pledged to the restoration as a call to architects went out to begin designing the new spire. We have seen an immediate response to recover from this momentary setback in the history of this icon.

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Swift and sure was the response to the setback. May we all be emboldened by this story to respond to the setbacks we will no doubt experience in our lives. Let us choose hope now in the face of whatever trial we face.

Fact or Fiction: What to Know About Smoking Cessation Medications

I know that lots of folks who visit this page are on the journey to reclaim their freedom from tobacco. If that describes you, you may want to take a minute and a half and see how you do on this quick quiz.

Here’s the YouTube link:    YouTube Watch

Knowing the facts about proven methods to quit smoking will improve your chances of success. To learn more, click here.

And if you want some more support around quitting, QuittersWin offers free groups, phone coaching, and even motivational text message support. Stay in touch to stay on track!

Quitting smoking (or taking back your freedom from ANY addiction) isn’t easy, but it’s always worth it! (Because you’re worth it!) Thanks for taking good care of you.

 

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Life Without Courage

My favorite painter apparently also said wise things. This pithy quote about courage calls into question the value of life without courage. Surely this sentiment has been echoed by countless people – famous and nameless. The truth is timeless – as old as humankind.

Here’s how Vincent put it:

“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?” -Vincent van Gogh

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Letting fear rule us can be hazardous, even lethal. Perhaps you’re feeling trapped or stagnant as you think about a challenge you’re facing. Consider the brave things you’ve done in the past and give yourself credit for trying anything without a guarantee of success. Then take a breath and take that step – fight that fight – attempt that task, no matter how daunting. It is the very stuff of being human. It is the very stuff of being alive!

We deserve to be free and we will never be, until we get off of fear’s leash.

In very recent news, it seems that art experts have verified beyond a reasonable doubt that an unsigned painting acquired by Hartford’s Wadsworth Atheneum in 1957 is a “new Van Gogh!”

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When experts examined the painting, they can see a human figure painted underneath the poppies. Maybe if there’s something fearful that’s holding you back, you should take a page from Vincent’s playbook and paint over it!

Spring Forward

This weekend we’re supposed to change our clocks by an hour. “Spring forward and Fall back” is a mnemonic device that some helpful elementary school teacher probably taught you. So the title of today’s post is your public service announcement. (You’re welcome.)

I like both of those words; Spring and Forward!

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Spring is a time of year when signs of hope are easier to find than at other times of the year. Spring is also a verb – a form of movement. A Minister and blogger friend of mine taught his congregants and readers that it is impossible to spring or jump without first recoiling. That overlooked truth might be an encouragement to those of us who may be on a journey toward change. Sometimes on that journey there are episodes of relapse or back-sliding. Slip happens! (Isn’t there a bumper sticker that says that?) Perhaps the next time we encounter one of those moments of ‘downward progress’ we can try to use it as a chance to recoil before we spring forward.  

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Forward is a direction, generally seen as positive. Forward is also sometimes used to describe conduct that may be too bold, intrusive, or rude. I don’t advocate being rude and it is rarely my intention to offend anyone. However, I sometimes speak up in situations where others are silent. I recognize that bold ideas are often the ones that bear fruit. And when it comes to talking to strangers, I’m a fan of forward. 

I hope that if you’ve recently relapsed or back-slid, you might think of it as an opportunity to spring. I hope if your faced with a choice of playing ti safe or doing something forward (bold) that you will stretch forward.

Meanwhile… don’t forget to change your clocks this weekend!

 

Great Things

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” 

                                                                            -Vincent van Gogh

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The world and everything in it – every accomplishment – consists of tiny, tiny bits. Everything we can hold or touch is made of uncountable molecules – each made of atoms.

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Even the “invisible” things that we smell are the result of unthinkably small particles – bits- pieces – of something, reaching a receptor or sensor in our nasal passages.

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And certainly all of the marvels of human achievement – the pyramids, China’s great wall, the most brilliant of Beethoven’s symphonies are ‘built’ from tiny parts. Whether stones or notes, small parts combine to form everything.

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Those tiny parts work, in concert, with one another to create great things, beautiful things, marvelous things.

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If you are on a journey of change – a journey of self discovery or recovery – consider the tiniest of steps to be absolutely valid, absolutely vital, absolutely worth the effort, and absolutely worth squawking about! Celebrate those tiny steps and keep your eye on where you’re headed. You are worth the effort and and you’ll get there – one bit, one piece, one habit, one step at a time.

You deserve to be free.
#DFTYA!

 

But Keep Heart

I love this lesser known painting by Vincent van Gogh and I thought it might go well with a quote that is also attributed to him.

“The beginning is perhaps more difficult than anything else, but keep heart, it will turn out all right.”   -Vincent van Gogh

It seems like an appropriate reminder to someone working at an apple orchard or any hard worker at the beginning of a task or journey. And Vincent accurately observed that ‘just getting started’ or ‘taking that first step’ can often be the toughest part of any task.

Recognizing that, he offers us an encouragement in the final phrase of the quotation; “…but keep heart, it will turn out all right.” That reminds me of part of a letter that the apostle Paul wrote to his beloved protegee, Timothy. When Paul saw the young preacher Timothy, struggling near the beginning of his ministry, Paul sent a letter to encourage him. In chapter 6 of Paul’s “Letter to the Galatians, he encouraged Timothy and the other Galatians to “not lose heart.”

“Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season, we will reap if we don’t lose heart.”   Galatians 6:9

Doing good can be hard – especially getting started. Do it anyway and don’t lose heart! It’s going to work out (at least according to Vincent and Paul.)
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As for hearts, I actually carry a “spare” in my pocket every day. Some days I carry a couple, in case I meet someone who needs one. Whenever I hear my car keys clank against one of these red glass hearts in my pocket, I can’t help by smile. They remind me that we will reap or that things will turn out all right.

You Cannot What?!

If you have ever been taunted by expressions of doubt (either cast by others or whispered from within your own head) I hope that these quotes will help. And of course, looking at artwork by my favorite artist, is likely to bring on a generally pleasant feeling, too.

I suppose that if it is others who cause you doubt your abilities, you should simply pay them no mind. And while that’s easier said than done, the truth is that what other people think of you is really none of your business!

But when it is self-doubt, it may be helpful to explore what purpose that doubt serves. Could it be that by holding sufficient self-doubt that we are trying protect ourselves from failure? That may sound like a logical and even good goal – protect self from failure. But if that same doubt prevents you from even trying, can it be good?

Maybe the best response to doubt is a phrase taught to me by a lovely lady who I met at a church many years ago. Her advice is brilliantly simple.  “Believe your beliefs and doubt your doubts.”

Let’s agree to be careful that we aren’t letting our doubts keep us from growth or progress that we deserve and are capable of. When you hear a doubt – kick it out!

Here’s how my favorite artist put it…

If you hear a voice within you say “you cannot paint,” then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.  – Vincent van Gogh

Here’s how my favorite American wise guy put it…

“Do the thing you fear the most, and the death of fear is certain,”  – Mark Twain

Have a beaYOUtiful day, my brave friend!

Soothe or Stimulate, Music Might be the Answer

When I’m in the car – especially for a long time – at some point I’ll start thinking about junk food. My thoughts about food are not usually related to being bodily hungry, but tend to related to feelings. Negative feelings (anxiety, anger, etc.) can certainly provoke me to want to do something to soothe them. (We’ve all heard the phrase ‘comfort food,’ right?) But the most frequent food-mood for me is boredom. Maybe driving by the ‘golden arches’ puts the idea in my head, but I think that even without visual cues, my mind wanders in the direction of food often. The reason I’m sharing my personal experience is because I suspect it is similar to other people’s experience, either with eating, or smoking, or some other behavior.

Over the weekend I started using a music service and installed an app on my smartphone. (There are plenty of them and I’m not advertising for any of them.) When I get into the car, my smartphone connects to my car’s audio system and music becomes an automotive automatic! A couple settings on my phone and this new, healthy habit is now much more likely to happen.

When I choose to listen to albums that I own, I can listen to them in the order they appear on the album or in random order. Choosing random order or shuffle seems to be more effective, probably because some part of my brain starts feeling curious about what’s coming next. The busier my brain is listening to music, trying to recall lyrics, or trying to remember the video that goes with the song, the less likely my brain is to start feeling like self-soothing or self-stimulating. (Eating and smoking can do both, right?) Come to think of it, random or shuffle might be better for self-stimulation (beating boredom) and album order’s predictability may be more soothing.

I find myself marveling over and over again about how music has the power to shift my mood. I hope that you’ll take a look at how more music might be beneficial to you. And if you can find ways to habituate the use of music (sync car’s Bluetooth to your phone, keeping your earbuds in the same place as your car keys or water bottle or some other ‘always-have’ item) you’re on your way. As always, thank you for taking good care of you.

#MusicIsMedicine
#MoodMusic

Creed

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QuittersWin Core Beliefs and Group Guidelines

Everyone in the community has something to learn from everyone on the community and everyone in the community has something to teach to everyone in the community.

 

No one in the community is as strong, wise, brave, or capable as everyone in the community.

 

Out of respect for all speakers and all listeners we limit talking to one member at a time.

 

Because we understand that our human condition can lead us to hold untruths and cause our perceptions to be skewed, we make every effort to keep our minds open and honestly consider other explanations for things we think we “know.”

 

Out of this diversity of understanding, we hope to discern ultimate truth for the good of all, without need to hold unhelpful or unhealthy beliefs out of some motive of ego.

 

As each of us attains our noble goals, all of us grow stronger, wiser, and more capable.

 

In spite of our individual imperfections, diverse experiences, and individual failures, as a community we hold confidently to the certainty that freedom from addiction is possible and is, in fact, close at hand!

In That Space

I’ve rarely heard a quote more true or more powerful than Viktor Frankl’s observation (admonition) regarding stimulus and response.

“Between stimulus and response there is a space.

In that space is our power to choose our response.

In our response lies our growth and freedom.” 

In that space lies our salvation, our freedom, our power, our hope. There may be magic in that space! There’s a lot in that space! The trick, of course, is in expanding that space – expanding the moment and carefully contemplating our response. Grandma used to say “count to ten” before responding. If counting to ten is too much of a stretch, let’s try for a least a breath. Inserting a single deep breath in that space can definitely make the difference between speaking hurtful words, helpful words, healing words, or no words at all.

Every stimulus may invite a response, but some are best allowed to pass without a response. Choosing not to respond is sometimes the best response. Again, try for at least a breath in that space. Explore that space with curiosity and you will expand that space.

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#BreatheAndBelieve

 

You Season

Flu season arrives every year, evidenced by people wearing paper masks over their mouths and noses. The signs go up and people get flu shots. Nearly every year, there’s an a surge in flu cases right after Thanksgiving, attributed to the fact that people travel from different places and see different faces! It is well a documented and accepted fact that close contact with others helps spread the flu. But what else can close contact spread?

Well, along with countless diseases and medical conditions, close contact with others can also influence our outlook and attitude. So, for those of us who understand this, why not try to choose who we allow to “infect” us? And if you are a person who already has a “sunny disposition,” why not spread that sunshine with intention?

Most people agree that Vitamin C can be beneficial, but let’s not forget “Vitamin See” may also be #GoodMedicine. Let’s choose who we (Vitamin) see carefully and maybe we’ll see healthier moods and attitudes.

#beaYOUtiful

 

“Have a good day!”

There’s a phrase that we may actually hear every day – maybe several times. It’s one of those phrases that can feel pretty empty or void of real meaning. It often seems like a hollow heartless bit of language, despite its apparent benevolence. So today, let’s try to really mean those words if we say them and really make those words happen in our world. We have the choice, despite whatever struggles exist, to focus on the good, on seeing it, doing it, finding it, encouraging it, and ultimately being it!



And I think to make sure you know that I mean business, I’m gonna play THIS card!… 

Yup! The good ole “DDD” Double Dog Dare! (So you really don’t have a choice, do you?) And remember that no matter what struggles you are facing, that your focus upon the smallest positive thing, can drastically change a day’s complexion and direction!

Thanks for taking good care of you!
#DoubleDogDare

 

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