11 years ago today, I made one of THEE best, arguably the best, decisions of my life. It wasn’t easy, I’ve tried to do it at least 100 times. No kidding. I had attempted this so many times in my life I thought it would never happen. But I kept at it. And one day it stuck! Today is my 11 years of not smoking a cigarette! Let me take you back to this time in my life. I’m currently playing the music of year 2009 to take me back while I write this.
I was in my mid-twenties, living my big city life in my favorite place in the whole world and my heart, New York City. I was really trying to figure out my next step in life. Money was tight and somehow I was able to keep such a costly habit of smoking. I lived in Brooklyn but worked in Manhattan. The cost of cigarettes at the time ranged from $10.50 in Brooklyn to at least $15.00 in Manhattan. At the time I smoked “Camel’s Crush”, the allure was having the option between non-menthol and menthol. During the day, or when I didn’t have an alcoholic beverage, I wanted non-menthol. During my day drinking, cocktail hours, and partying I would only want a menthol.
I remember my routine like it was yesterday. I would wake up, and it was a toss-up between brushing my teeth first or lighting a cigarette, I know it’s gross yet it’s the truth. This Gross addiction had gross habits to match. After my morning cig and coffee, or my morning cig and tea, or my morning cig and a green juice. I would get dressed and ready for the next move in the day. It could be walking, going to work, going running, going drinking, going shopping, going downstairs for all I cared THE NEXT cigarette was ready with my matching blue lighter in the back pocket. EVERYTHING was tied to my cigarette. I knew it was unhealthy, I knew it was an expensive habit (so expensive that my Granny surprised me with a care package to help me out while also wishing I would quit), and I knew it was costing me my life…I knew it was stupid. However, I was always ready and eager to smoke. I always anticipated the next cigarette.
When people met me they were always surprised when I pulled out a cigarette. I was a dancer, I did yoga, I ran regularly, I always talked people’s ear off about the benefits of green algae and wheatgrass (blue-green algae was the hottest thing on the market 10+ years ago), and sometimes I did this while holding a cocktail and cigarette in hand. Thinking back, it’s kind of hilarious that I thought so little of this addiction. Did I mention that I helped organize green festivals in Chicago, IL during my college years? People would yell at me for being part of the pollution in the world. I always got flack for smoking and still didn’t kick the habit.
It wasn’t until I had a job that I HATED. I hated it for a million and one reasons but the top three were:
- Not enough pay. It was THE WORSE paying job ever.
- I didn’t like my co-workers. They were rude and management never discussed this toxic working environment.
- AGAIN I DIDN’T MAKE ANY MONEY.
I needed to quit but I didn’t have any interviews lined up. It was such a stressful time. I didn’t know what to do next, so I called my Granny. She was so dear and my best friend, I miss her dearly. I called her hoping that she could give me clarity and permission to do what I wanted to do. I wanted to quit. When I told her what I was experiencing from this job, she told me to quit saying, “You don’t have to deal with that shit.” The next day, I quit. Actually it was my first and last no call no show. Later that day, I saw three cigarettes left remaining in my pack. I checked my emergency stashES-I had more than one- and none were there. I knew what I had to do. I was sick of everything. The job, the smoking, and paying to basically to get cancer, COPD, emphysema, and premature wrinkles. I was sick of the guy I was dating. I was just so tired. Nothing made sense but to let go of it allllll. And I did just that. I quit my job, stopped seeing the guy I was dating (he was also a smoker), and most of all I quit smoking.
My Granny’s wish had finally come true. In the care package, she sent me months prior to me quitting, there were two cartons of cigarettes, a letter, AND a box of Nicorette gum for the time I would be ready to quit. Of course, I smoked all of the cigs, I kept the letter, and luckily I was smart enough to hold onto the Nicorette box. I chewed the gum every time I had the urge to smoke. I don’t believe that those were the instructions but I didn’t care. I needed to treat my urges with the gum as I did with the cigarettes. It took me one week to quit. One week and I was done, I hated being around cigarettes, and I was free. During the time of my quitting, I did stop drinking any kind of juice, tea, wine & spirits, coffee (or any kind of caffeine). I ate alllll kinds of vegan food that I wanted, so grateful to be in NY where everything was plentiful. I even separated myself from “friends” or anyone who didn’t support the new shift in my life. That wasn’t a hard decision as I’ve always believed in choosing to do what makes you happy even if you do it alone. But I wasn’t alone. I had the great support of my Granny and family, my new non-smoker acquaintances, and a busy and fun job working as a bottle server in a hot Manhattan night club while pursuing my yoga certification during the day. AND I met a hot guy who loved health, fitness, and running marathons. Life was great!! It may have taken years to get to that point but it was all worth it. Each time I tried to quit I was only getting closer to someday becoming a nonsmoker. By acknowledging that there were unhealthy habits and relationships in my life I was able, in time, to address and eradicate those elements from my life. Each day, each decision and every moment mattered. I took it day by day with a desire to be healthier and better in mind. I didn’t know this at the time but it was the beginning of creating a new habit for myself. Each year I would sit and reflect, look around, and see what was working and what wasn’t working. How did I feel? Was it healthy? Were the people in my life good for me? It was a self-love self-awareness check-in. And thankfully, my Granny’s unconditional love, taught me to continue to pour love into myself during a journey of change, transition, and challenges. Because of her I now know that loving yourself and trusting yourself is the greatest gift you can give…to yourself in pursuing your highest potential. I didn’t apologize for changing my habits, my mind, job, or my friends. I learned patience in my journey of overcoming an addiction. I loved myself to have a wellthy state of mind. And little did I know at this time, she taught me to do this.
Changing your life, making a decision, and having desire can be scary. It can be overwhelming, and it can be daunting. Just know that you got this, trust yourself, trust the journey, and take it day by day. Because one day, you’ll look back, as I’m doing today…and be so grateful for the first last step you’ve taken towards being a healthier you. Your love starts now. How will you show up for yourself today? Think simple. A series of small simple steps usually leads to large and grand successes. Much love to you <3