Quitting Smoking One Day at a Time...

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Still Sick...I feel like S*&%!

I am not much of a complainer but I feel awful! I missed Open House tonite and am behind on grading due to feeling so bad. I have a major headache and sinus issues! At least my boss told me I could stay home. I wish I had a mom today! I am also in a funky depressed kinda mood and I don't really know why. I thought my mood would go away after I took a nap but I still feel like hell! Every now and then I have a day where I wish I would have stayed in bed. Today is one of them!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Feeling Under the Weather...Allergies SUCK!

I have been feeling really under the weather the last week or so. The weather out here changed from mid-temperature where you could wear pants to super hot and humid! I feel like I am in the south or back east. I feel awful and need to get some rest but my body is really achy and my nose is either totally congested or dried up from the allergy medication. I guess I will survive for Open House which is tomorrow night at my school. Today I really wish I was married so I had someone to take care of me and feed me chicken soup. For whatever reason a menthol cigarette has sounded really good today but I just tell my head, "thanks for the suggestion" and keep on doing what I need to do. Thank God for blogging and Chantix!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

You Never Know What You Will End Up Doing In Life...

If you would have asked me when I was 20 what I would be doing when I was 40, I would have told you I would have been dead. I am not being sarcastic or looking for sympathy when I say that...I am really just telling the truth. As many of you know, I never really thought I was going to make it past 21 or 22 and lived my life like a rock star so to speak...until I hit the bottom and I managed to get cleaned up. Even after cleaning up, I have continued to do stuff like smoke cigarettes even thought I knew the consequences and continue to eat badly. In the last year, I decided to work on some of that stuff and have seen great results just by being willing or at least a little bit willing to do some things differently and not think that I know it all. Does this mean I totally have it together? Not even close! I am more willing to change than I ever have been who knows what the future holds for me.

Anyway, as I was told every week by this one professor that I took classes from last year was "You never really know what you will end up doing in life so live it like there is some sort of purpose and try to learn as much as you can." This guy Dr. Foster used to tell us that he never in the world thought he would be teaching people about art (or how to get some common sense but that is a whole other blog!) He used to tell us that he was just was willing to take advantage of whatever opportunities that arose when he was offered an opportunity to grow and he learned stuff he needed to retire early and create his own business and help people at the same time. He basically told us that most people never go for what they want and sit around thinking that opportunities are going to come to them, not the other way around! He bluntly told us a few times to get off our asses and make something happen if that was what we wanted and quit putting everything in life before ourselves. He was like, "How can you be a good teacher if you are so stressed out you can't function?" or "How are you supposed to be able to give anything to kids if you treat yourself like you should be last?" I had to really think about that. Many people in caretaker positions, like teachers and moms are usually so busy doing stuff for others that they do not really take care of themselves and a lot of times they they can't figure out why they are so tired or burned out. I spent a year out of my life drawing pictures because Dr. F said it would bring down the stress levels and would be like meditation. I never could draw and had no real desire to learn and at first I really thought he was completely insane! He is one of those types of individuals that you either love him or ya hate him, there is no in between! I wasn't really sure what to think I just figured that drawing would be better than writing YET another paper which is why I didn't want to go back to school and take classes or get another degree. Besides, I realized that it didn't matter what I wanted at that point I really needed the salary points to move up on the pay scale. I had been teaching for a lot of years and was still at one of the lowest places you could be on the salary scale! In that year, I really heard a lot of truths sitting there drawing pictures...stuff like why it was important to invest in 403B's, have an emergency fund and how to write off all these expenses on my tax return! I also learned how much money I had lost by not going back to school sooner and just by avoiding taking classes I was making a lot of people happy because I was going to do the same job whether I took classes or not. He used to tell us that if I didn't care how much money I made, why should the school? (When you are a teacher your salary is directly linked to how much education you have and how many years you have worked) Anyway, this guy made us think about the reality of the situation and it was one one the best things that happened to me. It made me get off my ass so to speak and think about the future and be willing to go for what I wanted in life. I mean, truthfully the only person who cared if I got a raise was me....so it was up to me to go back and take the classes I needed to take...tired or not.

Speaking about going for things, I recently applied for a couple of summer fellowships and was accepted for one through a historical institute and will be studying at Harvard University in Boston this summer. I am actually still amazed about the whole thing. I applied never thinking I would be going but figured what the hell, the most that can happen is I am denied. I filled out the on-line application and sent it off. I never really thought that I would be accepted because anything that has to do with studying at an Ivy League school with their professors is super competitive! I just went online, applied and figured nothing would really come of it. Amazingly enough, I was accepted and I am going to study with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. who has done all of this amazing research about genetic lineage and "has been the host and co-producer of
African American Lives and African American Lives 2 in which the lineage of notable African Americans is traced using genealogical resources and DNA testing." (Wikipedia oneline) I saw the series on PBS and was simply blown away! I am really interested in the new technology used in genealogical research so it really is a great opportunity. If anyone out there knows anything about what to do in Boston, let me know.


Almost six Months off smoking....Smoking Update!

I just thought I would post quickly and let people who read this that I am coming up on six months of being smoke free! I never thought that I would be able to function without Nicotine for even a day but amazingly enough, the days have turned into months! Even when I think about smoking it is just a thought that passes in and then out of my head pretty quickly. I owe my success to taking Chantix, support which consisted of blogging with others who are doing the same thing and going to a program where I was forced to look at the habit part of my smoking and start doing things differently. (I actually only went to the program originally to get my Nicotine patches and then the Chantix for the insurence co-pay price) This process has really changed my life. I hope everyone is doing well and even if a person slips and smokes or goes back to cigarettes/other Nicotine delivery devices, they will give it another shot. I quit MANY times (not for very long either) before I wanted to be a non-smoker more than I wanted that cigarette.

I keep blogging about smoking and my time away from cigarettes just because I have encountered so many cool people and feel that its really important to remember where I came from. One day my brain will tell me to smoke when something stressful happens and I want to have it firmly engraved in my head all the reasons I do not want to go back to smoking. Besides, one day someone may look up Chantix and read this blog and I want it to be as hopeful as the first blogs I read when I was considering using the drug. Speaking of Chantix, I am almost tapered off of it completely and should be by the time I hit my six month mark.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Trip Up Tuesday

Ok, here I am...no trimmer but it is Tuesday so here goes:


  • Too much to say right now. I have made the decision to call Jenny Craig as my lifestyle is really too hetic to cook/prepare all meals for myself. If I want to really want to be in control, I need to give the control to someone else. I need someone to prepare meals for me at least until the end of the semester, which is in June. Between looking for work, working extra hours tutoring etc. I simply do not have the time, energy or desire to cook for myself. Hopefully by being honest about it and formulating a plan for getting low fat meals will help me with my wieght loss goals.


  • I really have chilled on eating out as much as usual and the fast food has come off the menu as a mainstay. I have only eaten at a fast food restaurnat about once or twice a week which is a MAJOR improvement for me! I must say the fact that they feed me twice a week at the group home is an improvement over driving through the drive through. I still need to work on portion control. I also did buy food and have been bringing my lunch to work every day for about two weeks now. I only get to eat what I pack so it has been good.


  • Does walking from the car into the shopping center count? I have been getting no real exercise but my goal is to get a pedmeter thingy. I have a watch that measures a bunch of stuff like calories burned, steps taken etc. and its still in the box so I would say its time to take it out and read the directions so I can use it.


  • Go back to Jenny. (I have lost weight there before) Analyize lifestyle triggers and map out of plan of what I want to accomplish. My goal is to make an appointment for Friday and begin the program Sunday.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

FYI....162 Days since I quit Nicotine 172 Quitting with Chantix

I only count the days I stopped smoking cigarettes. I don't count the ten days that I still smoked cigarettes. That is a lot of money saved and lots of health risks that are hopefully improving.


Hey there all...
I have been super busy looking for another job! I have faxed out over 30 resumes and cover letters and am following up by mail. I am also tutoring twice a week so my time is really limited! I sat sat down and wrote for the fun of it last night when I posted and it was really cool! Stuff came to me that I have not thought about in years!

Anyway, as far as fitness, I took my beautiful Siamese cat Yoda to the vet. She kind of has an eating disorder! She is a HUGE almost 20 lb cat that freaks out if food is not in her bowl. I met a really sweet guy who is a vet in one of my smoking classes and her recommended a special diet for her. She gets to eat and the food is super low-fat/calorie. I am in the process of doing 50/50 split between this food and her old "low calorie" food until I can more her to that food completely. He told me that when you restrict an older cats food too much they can have system failure so he wants her to try and lose weight this method first. When I took her in, the vet was super sweet. He told me that Yoda was going to be fine and he would work with me to help her lose the weight so she would be more healthy. I was really sad when he told me he was smoking again.

I really did not think this guy would be telling me he picked up the habit again. I mean, he was like the model ex-smoker from the class! I offered to meet him at the class (as we can all pop back in when we are feeling weak) and I showed up but he didn't. I was feeling kind of week and was stressed so smoking was kind of sounding good on some level. I guess it was good that I went! The topic of the class was "Smoking and Stress" and it was taught by a sub and not the instructor I am used to. The topic made me realize that I was dealing with stress not so much the desire to smoke. Then I saw all the new people, some with freshly applied nicotine patchs on! I remembered the feeling of wanting to jump out of my own skin and it brought me right back to the beginning of this journey! I do not want to begin the quitting process again and I definitely do not want to revisit the "Kicking nicotine" part of this whole ordeal. It is way easier to stay quit than to quit again!

Anyway, as for my fitness goals, I am going to call Jenny Craig this week. I have done better in terms of eating but I am going to need a bit of help when it comes to eating the right amount of calories and fat. I mean if the cat can be on a weight loss program, so can I! I gotta go so I can take a shower and mail out those resumes. Hopefully I will get a job by the end of this semester.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Eight Random Things About Me...

I got tagged by Mamaflo so here goes:

1.) My spoken English is WAY different than my written English! When speaking, I use a lot of figurative language, street slang and way too many cuss words! I am working on changing that as I have an extensive vocabulary and should be able to come up with more appropriate words besides cuss words to describe something. My friends who know me in real life were surprised that "I sound so well educated" when I write. For me, writing is a totally different type of communication. I communicate in a much more informal manner when "kicking it with the homies!" I only use business English in my personal life in business or when making a formal presentation.

2.) I have a super weird bond with the east coast, particularly New York City. I wanted to go to New York ever since I was a little kid. The first time I went there, it was like I was home from the minute I got off the plane. It was almost like I had lived there in another life. I could navigate through the city like I had been there before and never really felt life a tourist! For about five years, I got to travel to New York City frequently. I used to work with a friend of mine who was an exotic dancer. She passed away a few years ago and I am still not over it. She used to make sure all of her tour dates to New York were when I could go. I have some of the best memories of my life going on the road with her. It was an adventure to say the least! One year I got to go to New York for every season...winter, spring, summer and fall! I am definitely an "East Coaster" at heart and most people do not think I grew up in Los Angeles.

3.) I have been clean and sober off of drugs and alcohol since 1987. My life almost took a totally different direction to say the least! Just because I got clean and sober does not mean I became a saint. I still behaved and thought like a street punk with a bad attitude for many years and had some hard lessons to learn about life even after I gave up drugs and alcohol. Every now and again, I slip into that street punk with a bad attitude persona.

4.) I am a firm believer in Karma and following your hunches. I have seen miracles happen in my own life and other people's lives by trying to do the right thing. I have also been really blessed by learning to follow my hunches. It sounds crazy but I have been really blessed with almost a sixth sense. A quick example was when a friend that I was supposed to go to an AA meeting with called me and told me to meet her and another friend and go flying in a private plane. I got the worst feeling on the way to the airport and circled it twice and then left to go to the AA meeting I was originally supposed to go to. When I got home, there was major news coverage of a plane crash into the Malibu ocean. I knew almost instantly that it was THE plane my friend was in and it was! Fortunately she survived but had major medical problems because she broke her back and suffered from extensive hypothermia. The other person that we knew did not survive that crash.

5.) I love teaching but do not see myself doing it forever. I think I will be doing something dealing with education but its all really fuzzy. I do know that what I do in the future will help change people's lives on a bigger scale but I am still not really sure what the ultimate goal is yet. I am sure that I will know when its the right time.

6.) I have attention deficit disorder! I have had it since I was a little kid but I used to have the hyperactive component with it so what a joy I was to raise as a child! Even as an adult when too much is going on at one time, it is really hard for me to focus!

7.) I HATE to clean! I am really intelligent about a lot of things but organizing things and cleaning them makes me TOTALLY overwhelmed! Once it is done, I am really good at keeping it up unless my life is totally busy! I color code EVERYTHING that is important so I can remember where things are. I think the organizational issues are from the ADD and I really have had to really work at developing compensitory skills so I could figure out where the hell thing are when I put something down and am not focusing on it.

8.) I only got a college education because I was really blessed with a variety of people in my life who pushed me in that direction; even when I screwed up! I am pretty bright but I was far from a model student. I was kicked out of four middle schools and graduated a year late from a continuation high school after being expelled from the traditional high school I was at. I ditched school at least three times a week, went to school high every day and was missing huge gaps in my education. I don't know how many brain cells died bufrom all of the drinking and drugging but I do know that I had to work WAY harder than most people to get through the same classes! I think it was because I got to take easy classes like consumer math instead of college required math. Hell, I didn't even know the X was not used for multiplication until I got to the college remediation courses that I needed to take because my math skills were about on a fifth grade level! I still don't think numbers and letters should be mixed in a math problem!

9.) In fact, I still am not a big math fan unless it has to do with money! For a mathematical idiot, I am really good at understanding finance and business.


Monday, April 14, 2008


Hey all...
I am still determined to join Trim Up Tuesday but my life has been super busy! Its that time of year for us teachers! I have been grading papers, looking for a new job (I faxed out like 15 resumes and cover letters yesterday and still need to follow up by mail) and I started tutoring at a boys group home last week. It is so sad to see kids that are 17 years old and cannot barely read. It really breaks my heart. I work with a couple of kids that are all tattooed up that can't even read at a third grade level. I originally took the job because I am planning to take the summer off and want to save up some extra cash to attend a special program but from my first day there, I realized that these kids really need me! They are in a group home and its pretty much the last stop on the block for them! Hopefully, they will be able to change their lives through this program. Most people think I am crazy, but as a teacher I really like working with the population no one wants to deal with. I mean, kids that are intelligent and doing honors work usually have supportive parents to make sure they do what they need to do. Truthfully, the motivated kids are going to make it no matter what teacher they have. I have been recruited to teach honors and people don't get it at all when I tell them I'm not really interested. Hopefully, I will find a job that is a good match for me.

I have definitely have been checking into everyone's blog and will let you know how my job search is going. I am still smoke free. Speaking of smoking, they guy who hired me to work at this facility is a TOTAL smoker! Damn, he leaves and I can smell the stale smoke when he gets back and he smokes A LOT! Think I should tell him about Chantix? He is also a recovered drug addict/alcoholic like me so I know he is not totally opposed to quitting things. Anyway, I need to go but I love reading about all your guys adventures from quitting smoking to cleaning the closets! That is the one thing I love about blogging on here....I have come to love reading about things that I never thought I would be interested in because my fellow quitters are living life and doing stuff like cleaning their closets with no smoke break in between! Besides, after working where I have been working....I am really grateful to be able to read and write. Working with these kids has given me a HUGE dose of gratitude. Gotta run or I will be late for tutoring.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

161 days on Chantix; 151 days quit! Amazing stuff!

Hi all....
Ok, I just read Maggie's Blog and felt I should log in my quit days. This has been a huge milestone for me. It has been 151 days off of cigarettes and 161 days on Chantix. From what I have estimated, I have been off cigarettes and nicotine for a little over five months! I am still taking the one Chantix pill a day and am going to move down to 1/2 a pill a about a week or so. My doctor approved me for the full six months on Chantix since I was a 30 year smoker. (I started when I was 12 for those of you wondering how old I am....hey it was the 70's and everybody was smoked something!) Hell, I even remember my mom walking through the grocery store smoking cigarettes and there were ashtrays at the end of every aisle! Go figure how things change!

I am glad I finally woke up and decided to take the plunge into the world of being a non-smoker. I got clean and sober from drugs and alcohol but still stubbornly held onto my right to kill myself slowly. I am gearing up mentally to change my sedentary lifestyle and poor eating habits. I have changed my deadline to be where I want to be in terms of diet/exercise until April 15th. For now, I can only deal with small changes and detoxing off fast food except for once a week. I feel really optimistic about resetting a new lifestyle goal so I will be able to map it out just like I did with quitting smoking. I sat through a couple quit smoking classes before I REALLY knew I wanted it and had a plan of what I had to do to get it.

Hope everyone is good in quit land.

Its finally over...at least the presentation part! I miss you guys!

Hi all...

I was out of town (well more like out of the Los Angeles County) presenting at a conference in Pamona. It was a really long process preparing but it was really rewarding to present my research and lesson plan to fellow educators. My presentation was titled "The Common Person of the Civil Rights Movement...the Unsung Heros." The presentation went really well and all I have left to do is finish viewing the video I did and decide where to edit it. The video is of oral histories I did. The video is due to the editors next month and then I am finally done! This project has been one hell of a major undertaking but definitely worth it. For those of you who don't know I am an English teacher turned historian but what I really want to focus on is creating something to do with educational videos/seminars that are more like reality TV where students and/or teachers engage in meaningful challenges and learn ALA America's Next Top Model, Biggest Loser, Top Design, Wife Swap, Nanny 911. I say give people a hand's on learning experience and see what happens. That is the vision we will see what happnes! Believe it or not, I also teach health and before I quit smoking, I would walk into class after just smoking and teach about the evils of cigarettes! Go figure! You do not have to practice good health to teach about it.

I miss posting and am determined to post my Trim Up Tuesday (that is a whole other sad story that I will save for later! Lets just say I am not any trimmer yet but I have been WAY more conscious of what I am putting in my mouth! Even if I put it in anyway, I think about it and how many calories I am consuming! I have been trying to respond to everyone's blogs and make the rounds but I will get it together and post about all of the stuff that is going on with me.....life is crazy but I am not smoking! I did consider it the other day and realized it was just a thought and it disappeared as soon as fast as it came! I miss you guys!! Dr. Howell, it was great to see you stop by my blog. I can't wait to catch up on all those good health articles from your site. I have been kinda busy and haven't been able to read much latley. I am hoping to see one on the potential health effects of cell phones. I am dying to know if they are really all that bad for your health since I gave up my land line like two years ago.



Thursday, April 3, 2008

Trim Up Tuesday (I Know its Thursday) and Other Stuff...

Hi all,
Since I threw my back out there has been no exercise except for stretching the muscles in my neck and back. I have really improved my eating though. I have eaten NO fast food this week and only drank ONE soda....a Coke. My I need to detox off the fast food so I actually went to the store, bought bread, lunchmeat, lean cusine entries and fruits and veggies and have been making my lunch for four days in a row!

I am presenting at a historical conference this weekend and it has been a challenge to get it all together! I did oral history interviews with people who lived through and participated in the Civil Rights Movement. Tomorrow is the anniversery of Dr. Martin Luther King's assination and many of the present day leaders are braodcasting from Memphis at the museum that I saw last summer. One of the National Civil Righs assiocations has made the hotel and the hotel room made into an exhibit. The room and the hotel look EXACTLY as it did the day he died. It was one of the most errie things I have ever seen. Doing this project has really made me appreciate all of the changes that the people who contributed to the movement brought about. The trip I went on last summer was really a life changing experience and one of the factors that made me really WANT to quit smoking. I mean, I met all these people were willing to give up their lives to fight for change and I was busy throwing mine away!It made me think that some people would die to live one more day and I was killing myself slowly by engaging in bad lifestyle choices.

Although I feel honored that I was able to attend that trip and present my research and project to others; lets just say making and editing a documentry is REALLY hard work! If I would have know it was going to be this hard I probably NEVER in my right mind would have signed up to go! I need to work non-stop for the next two days to get my presentation together and then I just have to finish editing the interviews and transcribe them! After that and finishing my thank-you letters, I will be done! I will post after this weekend unless they happen to have internet access at the conference.