Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Perception

How fun is change really?

The hardest part is always discovering that you need to change because THAT place is usually the most painful. I say usually because at the point you realize that you need to change, but do not move in that direction, brings about a sort of slow agony. The insanity of running around in circles living a life you know you aren't happy with, and that knowledge in and of itself brings the unhappiness (thanx Eve! You just couldn't leave the fruit alone!!! HA!). People don't change when they are perfectly happy. I found that out with smoking. For years I had smoked and knew that I had to quit. I had tried quite a number of times always to find myself back to smoking. I would always say, "I'm just not ready to quit.... I like smoking." Which to some degree was true, or I would have quit for good. But no, the slow agony began and eventually gained momentum. First it was the smell that I started to hate. I started noticing that people would look at me funny when they smelled the smoke on me. Then I had a doctor ask me how long I had been smoking without me telling him that I was a smoker. "How did you know?" I asked. "I can tell by your blotchy skin. Cigarettes mess up oxygen flow and circulation." Wow.... THAT was painful! You'd think with how vain I am that I would have quit then and there, and I think I tried, but nope.... on I went with this nasty habit that was s-l-o-w-l-y becoming something I didn't want to want to do anymore. I had a family member who was diagnosed with C.O.P.D. and was STILL smoking. I remember thinking, "You are going to die if you don't quit. You would rather smoke and die than quit and live?" But the realization hit me that I was taking the exact same option. Just because I hadn't been diagnosed with a disease, didn't mean that I didn't have it or was going to have it. I finally realized that I couldn't expect to live this way and be happy. I mean, can one really expect to smoke and live a full life? Even if you live to a ripe old age, is that life going to be lived with respirators and nebulizers and oxygen tanks and expensive medicines that you're too sick to earn money for? The reality was, I could not imagine doing this for the rest of my life. I finally came to a point where I decided I "was over it". Then, amazingly, I was.
My ex-sister-in-law told me an unbelievable story many years ago about accepting Jesus Christ as her Savior and quitting smoking instantaneously. She told me, "God just took it from me." Now, I gotta say, I thought she was out of her gourd (she thought the same of me, I'm sure... gotta love the 'ex' status. hahaha), "no one quits smoking like that." I did. It was years later, but I quit smoking like that. It was easy and painless and pretty instantaneous. And this is where my blog title comes into play because I realized how fun change in my life could be. The freedom of just living without wondering where the money's going to come from for the next pack of cigarettes. While exercising one day I discovered that I was smiling. It hit me that while I was breathing hard, I was breathing strong. I was not breathing hard from lack of breath. It never hit me before that there would be a different feeling to breathing hard because you're short of breath versus breathing hard with strong breath. That sudden feeling of health overtook me with a happiness that I just cannot put into words. I was enjoying my exercise and REALLY enjoying not smoking.

Every other time that I had quit smoking was so hard! What made this time so different? It really was all in my head. Who says that quitting smoking is hard? I say that it is only as hard as you believe it is. If you think you will gain weight when you quit smoking, you will. I did. All the past times that I quit smoking I gained weight. The final time I quit, I lost weight. If you think that you will suffer without the cigarettes, you will. I did. Every time I had quit in the past was agony. I would count the days that I hadn't smoked and would cheer. The last time I quit counting after day 22 when my husband asked me why I was counting. The brilliance of that question blows me away to this day. If you're done, why give it even that much thought? People who don't drink alcohol, don't think about how many days they haven't drank alcohol. People who don't WANT to drink alcohol think about it all the time. It's the difference between something you just don't do or something you don't want to want to do. So when the rare occurrence of a craving reared its head, I would always respond with a laugh and say, "Oh My God... I don't do that anymore." And I would move on and forget about it. This particular change is not only a fundamental change that I have made in my life, it's been the "funnest" and most mental change I have made yet. This is the change that showed me perception is everything.

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