Solace in Solitude

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For many people, being alone carries negative connotations.  We fear silence with no one sitting next to us as a depressing thing.  Conversations with our closest friends and confidants are amazing and much needed, and tonight I spent over an hour on the phone with my best friend talking about everything under the sun.  I enjoyed every moment of it.  Yet I was just as happy to end the conversation and spend time with myself.  I did not fear the moment when we hung up the phone and I was left with my own head to keep me company, for I have also become my best friend.

My childrens’ father and I share time with them on a week on/week off basis.  There are definitely moments during my *off* week where I miss the sound of them running through the house, their voices shouting “mommy” when they need something or wish to show me their latest creation, or even just to say “I love you mommy”.  I do miss it, immensely.  There is a transition period after I drop them off with their father where I come back to my empty house and sit down in the silence and think “what the hell do I do now?”, feeling like a piece of me has been left with them.  But those moments of silence give way to the days that follow where I am reminded that I am an individual person, separate from my children, and separate from everything around me.

I am an extrovert in many ways.  I thrive on the connections I make with those who I hold dear to me and even those who I may not know so deeply and just connect with in passing.  I enjoy talking with people and conversing and finding things in common and especially those moments that make you say “oh my! You too?” that make you realize you’re not alone in your seemingly crazy ways.  But at the same time, I thrive just as much on the time that I spend by myself.  I have also become my own best friend and have learned that spending time in company with my own self is just as good for my soul as spending time with the people I love the most.

Right now I’m sitting on my porch.  The sun is beginning to set behind my moms house at the back of the property, behind the trees that we planted when I was just a child, behind the field that used to flourish with corn each year for as long as I can remember.   I’m enjoying a refreshing, cold beer as my ipod plays on shuffle in the background.  And no neighbors complain about the noise, no one to tell me to turn it down.  I could go out in my yard and dance in whatever manner I feel.  These are the times where I truly connect with myself and discover all the things that continue to mold and shape me into the person I am.

When you are alone there is no one there to judge you, no one there to tell you that your ideas are wrong, no one to tell you that your singing is awful, that your dance moves leave much to be desired.  No one there to judge you except for yourself.  And it is in these times that judgment ceases to exist because I have learned in these moments of solitude that judgment is what keeps us from connecting.  So in essence, spending time with myself provides me with exactly what I need to be the friend and companion to those around me.  For when I spend time with myself, without judgment of who *I* am, I learn to be more accepting of others. In those times of solitude I learn to connect more with  myself.

I have heard it said that giving oneself time to be “single” is one of the wisest choices that one can make.  With no romantic partnerships, and having time to be with the self gives you the opportunity to really know yourself in a deep way that can not be had when you are connected to antoher person.  Sometimes it takes time to actually be in that “self” before you realize how true those words are,but I understand it more than I ever could have had I read she same words before the time was right for me to see them.   But truth be told, in my humble opinion, I have come to see what many people never have the opportunity to learn.  Being with yourself is not a bad thing.

When a relationship ends, no matter whether it is a deeply intimate relationship, a casual acquaintance, or a friend with benefits (which is a term that I have come to abhor because it never exists in the way that it labels itself as), each person takes away from the situation a plethora of wisdom.  At the time of ending, each participant has their own views of how it was, how it should have been, what went wrong, what should have been said, done, etc.. The list goes on and on.  And in those moments after it ends each person has the choice in how they will proceed.  Emotions run rampant and we search for answers as to why things have ended up as they have.  We grasp to hold on to what held meaning in that connection.  We look for guidance in how we should proceed.  And it is in those moments where we reach and grasp and search that are the most profound. 

I am guilty of it myself.  I have walked through the end of such deep connection with fear, anger, resentment and disappointment for what never came to fruition.  But I have also come out of the other side of it with a knowledge and grace that could never have come to me if it weren’t for those moments of searching.

And this is where the self comes in.  YOU have everything you need inside of you.  Whether your loss be in the form of a friend, an acquaintance, a home, a job, it doesn’t matter.  Loss is loss and it is always an opportunity to dig down deep within yourself and learn from.  But the important piece is that you spend that time with yourself and learn what YOU need to take from it.  The operative word being “YOU”.  Because in the end it is always “YOU”. You are who and what you need.  Everything that nourishes your soul lies in YOU.

The way you see things, the way you perceive every situation, it is all inside of you and the only way you can really get to know all the wisdom that will guide you to your true path lies inside of YOU.

Namaste.

A decade later

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I am deeply and clearly aware of how lucky I am. As each year goes by, I’m brought another inch or so closer to being at eye-level with these beautifully brilliant human beings that continue to prove to me that life is, indeed, perfect beyond measure.

These amazingly healthy children who just ten short years ago I thought I might never even have the chance to hold in my arms, who could easily have required serious healthcare throughout their entire lives, and who could have succumbed to their extreme premature entrance into this earth and never even came home from the hospital.

Every day, every moment, I look into their eyes and know that I was blessed with a miracle. In their short lives, they have had to deal with more loss than I did in the first 30 years of my life. While I am aware that I have played a huge part in raising them, I can not take even half the credit for the amazing people my children have become, for they have actually been raising me.

Their way-too-early entrance into life, their fragile, tiny little exposed bodies needed pieces of me that I never knew existed before becoming their mother. But they chose me. Their souls knew that not only did they need what I would provide to them, but I would need them just as much if not more.

When my grandmother left this world so tragically, everything around me went dark, yet I needed to continue to be their mother. To teach them to handle even the worst of circumstances. I had to process those circumstances with them, and it was in that processing that they helped me. While I have not told them the truth of how my grandmother was beaten to death in her bedroom, the same bedroom that they sneak into with me in the middle of the night, I have cried, screamed and fallen apart WITH them. I allowed them to cry right with me and encouraged them, always, to talk about what they feel. And I have also made it clear that it is all a part of life. That these things will happen, everyone, including their own mother, will leave this earth at some point too. People are not immortal. I have taught them that they should live with a deep appreciation for being alive, for being so lucky to have so many awesome, wonderful people around them who love and care for them, that they should always be grateful. And no matter how upset they may get (especially with each other, and with me) they should always resolve their conflicts and remember how important these people are. Nothing is worth holding a grudge over.

When my father died three short months after my grandmother, it didn’t become any easier to continue to keep my head above water. Everything I had known my whole life was quickly leaving me, and the PTSD still rears its ugly head once in a while. But here are these amazing, sweet, caring little five year old boys who would wrap their arms around me and wipe my tears and tell me that everything would be ok.

“Mommy, are you sad? You miss Gammy and Pap Pap?”

“Yes, sweetie, I do.”

“I miss them too.”

And they held ME up.

And they have continued to do so in ways that they have yet to realize. These fiercely strong, independent little boys are not afraid to be who they are. They do not fear anything. They may have their moments of excissive energy, and sometimes they don’t listen to me and I yell and they get mad, BUT they express themselves so freely without fear. They are so accepting of all the different people they come in contact with, and they are so loving and caring and respectful and kind and generous and I can say without hesitation that they have guided me to become the same. It is these two ten-year-old-boys who have touched my soul in the most profound ways and it is because of them that I continue to heal the broken pieces of my spirit. It is because of them that no matter what life throws at me, or chooses not to give to me, I continue to wake up every day with a heart full of gratitude for having them. I am better for having them in my life, and some day they will make an even bigger impact on the world with their genuinely beautiful souls.

Call me crazy, but I know when my grandmother and my father left this earth, very large pieces of their own souls were absorbed by my children. They would be so proud. As am I.

Gratitude in Awareness

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One of my favorite apps on my phone is a daily self awareness practice based on a book by Cheri Huber called “Transform Your Life, A Year of Awareness Practice”. As Cheri describes and explains in the Introduction, “Awareness practice is practicing living in conscious compassionate awareness rather than identifying the antics of conditioned mind as yourself.  As a child, when you were being socialized, you learned to think, feel, say and do specific things relative to circumstances.  ‘Conditioned mind’ is the endless stream of habitual thoughts that go through your head as a result of being socialized.”

 This is the first app I open in the morning, and sometimes the only one I look at before rising from my cozy bed and starting my daily routine.  Each day I am gifted with a quote and an accompanying “assignment” that helps me to practice awareness in each day.  Today was the following American Indian Proverb: “If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies in yourself”.  The assignment suggested I make a list of ten things I’m thankful for. 

I do this on a fairly regular basis, in the form of the gratitude journal I began shortly before losing my grandmother, at a time when I had a lot of amazing things going on. After her tragic exit from this earth, it was tough to pick it up again, but I did, and it helped.  When we lost my father three short months later I stopped again.  “Tough” didn’t begin to describe what a struggle it was to continue to see beauty in the world that had been crumbling down all around me. 

But eventually I found it again, and it truly does make a difference.  Many days I am tempted to do what many other people seem to do on a regular basis. Complain.  About any number of things, and occasionally I do succumb to it.  But what I’ve found with my gratitude practice is that it does, indeed, change your awareness.  I typically stick to around five things, but it’s never hard to come up with them, and I often find myself going beyond five.   Today, I may even go past ten.

In no specific order, I am thankful for.

  • The many feathers I find, and always at the times that I need to be reminded that I have some really special people watching over me from wherever they are. Not just my father or my grandmother, but many of those who were here before me.
  • My home.  The list of grievances I could throw out here is long, but it’s a home that my great, great, great (great?) grandparents built with their own hands.  I’m sure anyone living within a reasonable walking distance most likely helped too (as that is how it was back in those days).  The majority of my maternal ancestors spent time living here.  I was raised right up the hill.  The roots run deep and there are many stories and traditions that my grandmother passed down to me that I am able to pass down to my own children within the same walls.  That is priceless.
  • The humongous and most likely oldest tree in my yard.  I could never really climb it as a child.  The branches were always higher than I could reach, but it is an enormous maple, and covers a large portion of my yard in shade, with limbs that hang down all around its edges like a beach umbrella. It is currently my favorite tree.
  • My cast-iron skillets.  I have not used anything else (other than my wok) since finding these in the attic.  I’m pretty sure they are a hundred years old, quite possibly older, and I reckon they will last a hundred years more.  Quite unlike the cheap and toxic cookware of today.
  • My friends.  I have many of them.  And I can honestly say that the majority of them are more than just acquaintances.  Each of them (you!) have, and continue to!, brighten my life in many ways.  Offering companionship, support, comfort, laughter (even when I may not ask for it…especially when I don’t deserve it), and just all around positive energy.  If you are reading this, I do mean you.  Yes, YOU.  I love you all deeply and hope that you know how important you are to me, and to my children, who most of you have been blessed to also know J
  • Yes, you knew I would get to this part! My children.  They nearly died when they were born.  Less than two pounds each, I am so very lucky beyond measure to have them.  Every day they remind me of the beauty in this world.  Even when they are practically pulling out each others hair and causing me to want to yank out my own, they are the most beautiful and amazing creatures, full of love and joy (if you’re reading this, my friend, thank you, for that much needed compliment!). Although I can’t take all the credit for the people my children are and continue to become.  That goes to number seven.
  • My family.  My parents never divorced, and were more in love with each other than anyone I’ve known until the day my father died.  Both sets of grandparents remained married until separated by death (50 and more than 60 years).  I grew up spending all of my time with them, my many aunts, uncles and cousins.  I was an only child, but I didn’t need siblings.  I had the perfect childhood.  I had the love, guidance and nurturing of an entire extended family on both my mother and fathers sides to mold me into who I am today.  And it is that which I guide my own children with.  Even those who passed before me have graced me with many things (more on this in my upcoming book which you can read when it’s published).
  • Strength.  I don’t always feel like I have it, but there are times that it appears and I have no idea how.  Sometimes I wish I had more of it, but I wouldn’t really have it if I never had to struggle.
  • Struggle.  This is what creates number eight, and what makes a person humble, empathetic, non-judgmental, patient, kind, and compassionate.  One cannot possibly understand pain if they have never experienced it personally.  Sympathy is not the same as empathy.
  • Today. The reasons are endless.  We should all be thankful for today.

Day Three – Yes, there is life without screens (and social media!)

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A couple weeks ago I ran across an article shared on a Facebook page about “Screen-Free Week”, which occurs this week.  I don’t remember if it started Sunday, nor am I sure how long it runs, but as I do “Media-Free” days in my home on occasion, this intrigued me.  I figured we would do a version of this and take it as an opportunity to do a number of things.  While I didn’t sit down and make a plan, I did run through my head what I envisioned it to look like.

First, what would “Screen-Free” be for us?  I need my iPhone for a few basic, but necessary things, like my calendar, the phone (obviously), text messages (when necessary), email and my phonecamera (hey, I’m a photographer, an artist, and I have children, it doesn’t count as a “screen” in that sense).  But I also considered “Screen-Free” to mean modes of entertainment that distract us from real-life living.  It’s more than just going without looking at a screen.  For me, this time is  about being present, not only in what we are doing, but in where our intentions lie from moment to moment.

Of course the first and most obvious “screen” we would do without would be the television.  As I write this update it is Wednesday morning.  My kids came home Sunday and we spent the evening watching the current favorites, knowing that we wouldn’t be watching any more until further notice.  I gave the goal of a week, but didn’t really say whether that included the entire seven days or just the work-week.  At this point, the television hasn’t been turned on at all since we went to bed Sunday night.  And I have to say this has been the easiest part.  I don’t miss it at all.  And the boys haven’t mentioned it much.  That includes video games on the wii or playstation. We have a PS2, one of those old ones, and the first generation wii…still tons of fun, but they typically can go an entire week without playing anyway.  So that’s not missed much either.

Next, there are handheld electronics. Their iPods and one DS.  Neither of them are missing those either.  When I picked them up from their father on Sunday, Seth had his DS in his hand and I reminded him that he couldn’t play it this week, and he said “yeah, that’s fine, I’m just bringing it to your house.” and he hasn’t asked about it all week. Nor have either of them mentioned their iPods.  So far, so very good!

This brings me to my own biggest time-suck.  Social Media.  Facebook in particular.  While I can certainly survive without it (as is being proven), I really do utilize it more often than necessary during my day.  Sometimes it’s the first thing I do in the morning.  Upon waking, I’ll stretch and then do some reading while I “wake up”.  I check it periodically throughout the day.  If I’m on the computer, I love to read through my “Pages Feed” as it provides me with all the recent articles and blog posts from my favorite blogs and websites, covering the topics I find the most interest in from spirituality, buddhism, homesteading, sustainability, the environment, and so on goes the very long list.  It got real easy this winter to hang out in my office over lunch (in the warmth) and read online instead of doing something more productive, like knitting!

Not only the pages feed, but the constant stream of “what-my-friends-are-doing” is certainly a pull too.  If someone needs a hug, Facebook tells me and I can send a virtual one.  If someone just ate a great new meal, Facebook tells me that too.  What is there that I don’t know any more with Facebook to keep me up to date (by the second!) on every little thing that anyone who uses it is doing.  In fact, Facebook just sent me an email this morning, telling me that I’m missing out on so much, that there are notifications and events that I’m not seeing because it’s been so long since I’ve logged in.  I really don’t consider three days that long.  In fact, I feel like I miss out on more when I AM logged in and regularly checking Facebook.

Which brings me to what I really want to tell you about this experience.  Hopefully you’ve hung in there and continued reading 🙂

I am so much more present.  I’ve always felt pretty aware of what I’m doing, what’s going on around me and in front of me, but I really feel like I’m *doing* what I’m doing.  Not just going through the motions, or rushing to get done with anything.  For instance, I walked a couple pieces of mail down to the corner box yesterday afternoon.  Instead of checking my phone while I walked, I FELT the sun, I SMELLED the many gorgeous flowers blooming all the way down the block.  I SMELLED the air.  I SAW all the spectacular colors; the leaves coming out and contrasting against the brilliant, blue sky.  The pansies in pinks and purples adorning all the planters and window boxes in front of the residences.  It was all so beautiful and exactly what I’ve waited all winter long to enjoy.  And for those two or three short minutes, I turned it into another extra minute and enjoyed every second of it.  I let it all truly soak in.  Do we ever really do that?

I’m also sleeping better too.  Much better, as in not waking up in the middle of the night unable to get back to sleep kind of better.  And this morning?  I actually had ten minutes to sit and work on patching a pair of jeans while the boys had breakfast.  And we talked.

What else have we been filling our time with?  We’ve been reading, hiking, singing, dancing, jumping on the trampoline, playing in the yard, gardening, telling stories and all the many other things we typically fill our time with, except we’ve really been doing it without distractions.  Without thinking about all the other things going on.  We’ve just been present.  And what a present it has been.

At this time, I’m just posting it on the blog.  Maybe I’ll convince a friend to share this on my wall so that I don’t have to log in and post it 🙂 Either way, feel free to share it, your thoughts, or anything!  Feel free to join me and do your own week free of screens!  I’ll be updating more here on the blog at the end of the week.  Thanks for reading!

Times they are a-changing

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I was 19 years old before I experienced the loss of a grandparent.  Today, 18 years later, the last one remaining has left this earth (third one from the left in the back, next to my grandfather).  Granted, she really hasn’t been *with* us for quite some time, and to be honest, I haven’t spent a ton of time with her since Alzheimer’s stole what was left of her from us.  But nonetheless, when I got the call this morning, I cried……. a lot more than I thought I would.

I’m not sure why I was crying.  She wasn’t the grandmother I knew my whole life anymore.  She didn’t know me, she didn’t recognize many of us.  Any mourning I had to do for her was done after I walked away from her when I visited the home back in October, or the first Christmas my dad’s side of the family spent together where she was unable to play the piano while we all gathered around and sang together.  Or even at my fathers funeral five years ago when I’m pretty sure she didn’t completely understand what was going on then.  And last year, when my uncle passed away, I’m not quite sure she knew who he was.  Or if she did, she probably forgot mere minutes later.  All of it a reminder that her time was coming and that an era of my life was slowly fading away.

I’m pretty sure that’s where my sadness is coming from today. Don’t get me wrong, because I loved my grandmother and I will miss her, but she’s been gone for a while.  The grandmother I knew, the one who I remember spending days with researching family history, driving around the places she lived and knew as a child. The home in Abbottstown where my dad spent the first two years of his life, the country club where my grandfather caddied for a wealthy man who planned to send him to college if he committed to continuing his own golf game (par 72).  But my grandmother became pregnant with my aunt and a total of seven children later (including my father) and the only golfing he would do again would be with us.  I never got to golf with my grandfather, but I did have a day of golfing with my father, just us, and I’m pretty sure that even though I was in my 20’s he didn’t let me drive the cart.

But I digress, kind of.  The fact is, that now I am my mother and my mother is my grandmother and my children are me.  It seems like just yesterday when I was my children, sitting in the same house I am, learning how to garden from my grandparents, sitting on what is now my porch husking corn, learning a kind of living that most people don’t even know of any more.  And it makes me sad because I had a really awesome childhood and it’s because of the knowledge and living that the “old folks” did and knew of that molded me into who I am today.  And now I am in the position to give that to my children.

And some day, it will be me in the place of grandmother, watching my children and their own children make their way in this world, a world that is another generation removed from the simpler living that my grandparents knew.  And as I drove to a meeting today, death was heavy on my mind.  While I am sad, I’ve had much more experience in this the many ways of losing a loved one, and I admit that this is one that was actually welcome.  I’m still figuring out my own beliefs when it comes to spirituality, but I know that wherever my grandmother is now, she is not miserable.

Eventually we all leave this earth.  All the more reason to live every day with intention and truth.  I know it’s a huge cliché’ but life is short.  The older I get the more I realize this.

Girl(s Relaxing Detox Bath) Interrupted

As any working mother can attest to (even moreso a single working mother with twins) it’s not often that enough time presents itself in our schedules to take a bath.  Baths are an event unto themselves (much like naps), and one that should be met with care and quiet.  The majority of the time, my showers are even rushed as I’m usually yelling instructions through the door at my children, trying to keep them moving, only to find them still bundled up under the blankets when I get out.

After arriving home this evening, I found myself with all the ingredients for a perfect half hour of complete relaxation. An entire half hour of nothing but quiet, in a warm, tub full of water.  That’s all I really need for a good bath.  Anything longer and I would probably fall asleep in the tub and that wouldn’t be quite so perfect.

So, I headed upstairs, turned the water on, and went about gathering some necessities.  Lavender Essential Oil? Check! Epsom Salts? Check! (mental note: I need more epsom salts). Candle? Check! Glass of my favorite red wine? CHECK!

It was so perfect. The water was perfect.  I turned out the lights and slowly lowered my bones down into the water as it continued to fill.

Perfect….

Until I turned the water off and spent the entire time listening to the neighbors truck idling. The whole time. Next time I will know better and wait til midnight to take my relaxing bath, or else just leave my ipod playing.

Welcome to life in the so-called quiet country. I’ve had more quiet nights sleep in some of the busiest areas of Philadelphia.

Officially a NON Smoker

After a ridiculously busy fall season last year with the photography business, I decided to take a break and spend time in solitude, to allow my path to reveal itself.  The past few months have brought about tremendous change for me and many paths have opened up.  While I still am going to be shooting with my camera (and a few other things that I’m working on too!), I’ve decided to write more.  So, welcome to my head 🙂  It’s a work in progress, but no better post to begin with than the best change I’ve made thus far 🙂 Enjoy!

I was a smoker for the majority of my life.  Started when I was about 12 years old.  It wasn’t a huge habit until about five years later, mostly due to having to sneak around with it, but one that I wish I never would have picked up.  One that I would quickly understand why all the adults around me who smoked would stress it was stupid to even start.  I remember when I was a child I would constantly harass my parents to quit.  They smoked regularly, and in the house.  It never bothered me, and I never thought about second-hand smoke the way people do today, but I worried about them dying.  I wanted them to quit and I even remember one time I tossed their packs in the trashcan. Ironic how I ended up becoming such a slave to it myself.

I quit for about 3 years when I had my children.  They were born so very early and I was quite militant about what I put into my body because it would end up in their body through my breast milk.  Those little tiny bodies, earth-side three months before their due date, turned me into a pretty healthy person (I even quit eating meat for a couple years).  Didn’t really have much of a choice, but I can say that even though all the stress that I felt on that ride, I felt amazing, and conversely to what smokers like to think, I handled my anxiety much better than any nicotine fix could.

Eventually the day came when I would no longer nurse them.  They were 26 months old.  I was turning 30 and decided that a week at the beach with my best friend was the best way to celebrate (it was!), and to also wean them.  They were only nursing at night, so I figured by the time I got back they would be used to going to sleep without it.  And they were.  But I also apparently picked up a bad replacement for not breastfeeding anymore when I picked up a pack of cigarettes on the way down to the beach.

I figured I would have that week, just smoke that pack while I was there, and be done when I got home.

Anyone who does or ever has held a smoking habit knows it doesn’t work that way.  Now, I never smoked in front of my children, or in my house, and I was pretty good about being able to go a day or so without having one.  Whether it was 2 in a day or half a pack in a day, it wasn’t a good habit to have at all and like the majority of addicts in general, I knew I needed to quit.

Fast forward to sometime last year.  I quit for 14 days.  It wasn’t easy.  In fact, I think I spent every day looking forward to the day that I finally gave in and quit quitting.  That’s pretty much how every attempt at quitting went for me.

This time is different.  And I have the flu to thank for it.

Friday, January 24th, I left work at 3:00 and wouldn’t move from my couch until I went to the doctor the following Tuesday.  I had a couple cigarettes left in my pack and even though I felt completely awful and could barely move, I still pulled myself up off the couch Saturday afternoon to go outside and suffer through a couple inhales. 

Stupid. Yes.

This past Wednesday, February 26, marked one month since I last smoked a cigarette.  In addition, I quit drinking coffee two days before.  So, yes, I quit smoking and drinking coffee AT THE SAME TIME! And you know what?  It hasn’t been that hard.  And here’s why.

When I was sick, I spent an entire night trying to sleep, unable to take barely a breath in between coughing fits.  I could feel all the crap stuck in my chest, gurgling around like it does because those little hairlike things called “cilia” were too paralyzed from the cigarette smoke to sweep it all up and OUT of my body like they are supposed to do.  After two days of not smoking, I could breathe.  My cough started lightening up and I could sleep.

In addition to being able to breathe, I no longer have to wear two pairs of socks and warming inserts in every pair of shoes because my feet get too cold.  Hear that?  Within two weeks my circulation has improved THAT MUCH!  And circulation issues are nothing to fuck around with.   That feeling you get in your legs where you feel like you need to get up and go for a run or something because they just don’t want to stop moving?  That’s blood flowing the way it’s supposed to.  That’s your circulation MOVING like it’s supposed to.

What else?  I mean, not that those couple things I’ve already mentioned aren’t HUGE in and of themselves.  But within a week my skin completely changed.   I have huge pores anyway and smoking just made them even bigger and when you add in the fact that it constricts your blood vessels, it’s no wonder I had an issue with them getting clogged.  Two weeks of not smoking and I had a handful of people tell me that my complexion was smoother, I had COLOR in my cheeks and that I was “glowing”.  That was all I needed to know that there was no way I would fall back this time.  And my hair has changed immensely too!  It was thick to begin with, but it’s now twice as thick and much more shiny. 

Food tastes much better too J

This time around is definitely different.  I’m not spending any time at all thinking about when I’m going to “quit quitting” and give in to the urge, because the urge isn’t really there anymore.  I don’t crave a cigarette, or the nicotine.  What I crave is the distraction, but I’ve found plenty of other things to replace that distraction.

And once this weather gets a little warmer, I’ll be spending the majority of my time outside, running and hiking and burning off the extra calories all that food that I had no idea tasted so fucking good has put on me.