This has always been one of my favorite articles. It is the only article that I have written that we use at Freedom that breaks one of our own rules and courtesies. I wrote it long before I was at Freedom and just felt that in honor and memory of the woman who inspired the letter I could not alter its original content. I felt in some way I had to be true to her memory.
The reason that the article is one of my favorites though is that it illustrates many important issues. It shows the life threatening impact of smoking, the fact that anyone can quit smoking, covers the topic of utilizing personal motivations in order to sustain a quit, and shows that it is never too late to gain major benefits by quitting, even if a person may be in an irreversible terminal state.
But there is another important story in the article that I have never commented on before but is very pertinent to our board. It is about the two woman in the clinic who were constantly gabbing with each other.
Every now and then when I am running live clinics I will notice that two or sometimes three class members end up having side conversations during the clinic. Sometimes I am covering a topic of great significance, or others clinic participants are sharing insights that are really very important. You can tell that when individuals are talking to each other that they are missing the concepts that are being shared by me or the other class members speaking in the time they are chatting. If the people are in the back of the room and very quiet it usually poses minimal problems for others, although at times it is obviously very distracting. There is no doubt though that the individuals involved are missing concepts that they would have benefited from hearing.
The two women in the story above missed a bulk of what went on in that clinic and I think that all who read the above story realized that they had missed a lot that particular session. They definitely were not getting the full value of what the clinic had to offer.
There are times where a similar situation occurs at Freedom. Where two or three new people start to get involved in ongoing dialogues, sometimes talking about smoking and other times expanding the conversations into other areas. This usually occurs between newer members who really haven't realized what the real value of our board is. Our board value is not being a support group where new quitters can socialize and learn all about other new quitters. It is an educational site in which people who are quitting smoking can learn valuable insights to treating nicotine addiction and to learn from longer-term successful quitters how life can go on after quitting.
In all honesty, almost any other Internet based support site on smoking cessation is better at meeting people and having more laid back and relaxing conversations. We are set up to always maintain an educational focus and in many ways, it takes more effort to actively engage in more meaningful and thought provoking posts that really help all who are reading here to secure their quits.
Many may think that the background chatter in a live clinic poses more of a problem than the same kind of socialization being done on the board. After all, being that the words are written if a person is chatting at one moment in one string, he or she can go back and see all that has happened in other string as time permits. The problem is the more new members see this kind of background chatter, the more likely they too are going to get involved in it and spend less time reading the great variety of informational posts we have at Freedom. We don't want people spending any more time at Freedom than necessary and we don't want people having to siphon through background clutter having a harder time finding quality information that really will help them to stay motivated to not smoke.
All new members should read the Buddy Systems
post. and the string A Warning about quit journals
. Both discuss the problems of buddying up with other members or how spending an inordinate amount of time plowing through journals of relatively recent quitters with dozens or hundreds of entries is not the best use of a new readers time or a good utilization of the resoures we actually have here at Freedom.
Again, the most valuable utilization of your time at Freedom is from learning all that you can about why you smoked, why you wanted to stop, how to stop and then--most important of all--how to stay off. The way to accomplish this is by reading and learning all you can from our articles and from the posts of our longer-term successful quitter that offer insights of people who for a significant amount of time now have proven that they can get through life's trials and tribulations with their quits intact from having finally having learned that to stay smoke free is as simple as sticking to a personal commitment to never take another puff!