Two weeks and counting, and I’m chuffed.

I stopped smoking two weeks ago. I’m feeling pretty good about my progress.

I didn’t tell anyone for the first week. I didn’t want the pressure of expectations. I didn’t want to try and fail publicly again. Not advertising again seemed prudent.

I did some other things differently too.

I didn’t make sure to quit first thing on a Monday morning. I didn’t make sure I smoked all the cigarettes I had on hand before I stopped. I didn’t throw away my lighters and other implements of fire. I followed that bit of advice during a previous attempt. Trying to light a candle with the stove burner is a tricky business.

I also didn’t white-knuckle it through a day and a half before deciding smoking was an underrated pastime that made me look cool. Lauren Bacall-like, if Lauren hated doing her hair and mostly worse sweats.

I’m going with nicotine replacement this time. I suppose, technically speaking, I haven’t quit quite yet. I’m still getting nicotine. Eight weeks until I’m patch free and I cut the last of the chains.  

So far, things are going well. Two weeks of essentially not smoking is a personal best. I haven’t gone that long without a smoke since I was twenty-one and that includes my pregnancy.

I quit for a variety of reasons.

I quit because it was time. Never underestimate the importance of timing. Some of the books I’ve read and talks of listened to discount timing. They say things like, “just do it.” They suggest that no one is ever ready and the right time is now.

Smoking is not the only habit I’ve had to quit. I think timing is important indeed.

I wish I could say I quit for my health. I wish I could say it was my lungs that made me give up the demon weed. The truth, however, is that vanity turned the tide. I was tired of stained fingers, bad breath, and yellow teeth. The recent emergence of smoker’s lines on my upper lip was the last straw. In a theoretical sense. The actual last straw was still some months down the road.

It’s not totally vanity. There’s a small bit of health in there. I have a diagnostic mammogram coming up. The six-month checkup post-radiation. If it turns out the breast cancer is back, I’d like to be cigarette-free.

I likely don’t have a recurrence. I have a bad feeling about the whole thing but I’m pretty sure everyone who gets a cancer diagnosis has bad feelings about follow-up testing.

I’d wear perfume to the test to celebrate my smoke-free status but it’s banned in the hospital. It’s a scent-free zone. No matter. I douse myself liberally when I’m home now, content I’m wafting Britney Spears’ Fantasy, not the dirty ashtray smell I used to share.

I read several books before stopping and they’ve been helpful, Allen Carr’s Easyway* especially. The information and tips help reinforce my commitment, help when the pacing and racing thoughts seem too much, when I wonder if one puff would be so bad?

Just one, wafer-thin mint.

But that’s the road to ruin. I’ve quit that way before. The best way to not quit smoking is to smoke. I thought I’d try something different this time.

*Allen Carr’s Easy Way for Women to Quit Smoking. Allen Carr. Sirius Publishing, London. 2009

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