making a toolbox

Subconscious use cue extinguishment

making a toolbox

Joined: January 7th, 2009, 7:39 pm

April 25th, 2003, 10:15 pm #1

so i was sitting out on a pier last night with two of my closest friends. it was a little chilly, a little late, and the conversation was a little deep. for me it was the perfect time for a cigarette. the crave was in my body and the crazy thoughts were in my head.

and then the strangest thing happened - i used what i've learned in the past 12 days. i watched my girlfriend pull a cigarette out of her pack and i reminded myself that she wasn't smoking because it was a perfect thing to do in a perfect moment, but because she was reaching the end of a nicotine cycle and her body was demanding more. i watched her and i reminded myself that she wasn't smoking because she wanted to, but because she had to. this wasn't an ideal moment that she was getting to fulfill and i wasn't (just one of the crazies in my brain); this was chemical dependency. i didn't smoke, the crave passed, and i can breathe easy today. =)

so i was wondering - what are some of the tools you use when you get triggered? i want my tool box to be full. i want to have the best possible defense against the first puff that i never want to take.
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:59 pm

April 25th, 2003, 10:29 pm #2

Hi Stacey, when I first quit I literally used to tell myself that I would not smoke TODAY.

... and if I wanted to keep my quit then I should Never Take Another Puff.

Also, there is a thread somewhere where Joel likens smoking to playing Russian Roulette. So I would threaten myself ... that if I went back to smoking, I may as well just buy a gun and shoot myself in the head. I know this sounds crazy but it worked for me.

And I sang a lot. At the top of my lungs.

It should be interesting to see everyone's responses. Thanks for the thought provoking post.

yqs, Janet :)
One Year Five Months
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:59 pm

April 25th, 2003, 10:40 pm #3

Hi Splat,
This is toooo weird. On my way into work this morning I was thinking of posting the same question. I love your breakdown of what was actually happening and I am surely going to use it should the need arise. Thanks.

My self talk or tool when I get a crave or trigger and it sort of irritates me is I think:
OK, to get from that place, - active nic addict to there - comfortable non smoker(!) I have to go through this and it will not last forever! Just be patient.

Actually I am finding it gets better every day!

Freegirl,
2 weeks, 4 days and 12 hours of freedom
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Joined: January 7th, 2009, 7:24 pm

April 25th, 2003, 10:41 pm #4

** I'm attaching my response - posted to the wrong spot**


What a great post - thank you - I'm going to be stealing your tools :)

I have been using your same technique a lot lately - really looking at the smoker and reinforcing for myself that "she wasn't smoking because it was a perfect thing to do in a perfect moment" but that it is an endless chain of smoking...

Another nudge that helps me is to think of my age - my family - growing old healthy. I picture myself in 20 years as a smoker - then in 20 years as a nonsmoker. Nonsmoking maia is way more desirable.

thanks again - best, maia - 25 days, 13 hours, 19 minutes and 25 seconds smoke free.
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:58 pm

April 25th, 2003, 11:08 pm #5

Splat, you did great last night! Recognizing smoking for what it is -- a drug addiction -- instead of romanticizing it is a huge step. Good for you!

This is a great topic. Here are some of the items in my tool kit that has developed over time.

- The Joel Mantra: Never Take Another Puff

- Reading Freedom posts. I would sometimes say over and over to myself: "They promised it will get better. They promised it will get easier." (By the way, "they" were telling the truth!)

- Reading my reasons to quit list which detailed the physical and emotional toll my addiction had exacted over the years.

- Reviewing my gratitude list which is an ever-growing document of all the good things not smoking is bringing to my life. Actually just added to this the other day. Was listening to my smoking husband's breathing and realizing that mine never sounds wheezy anymore.

- I'm fortunate to be involved in the Al-anon program so those 12 steps are an integral part of my recovery.

- Thinking about how Kim signs her posts: way too educated to ever take another puff!

Keep up the good work!
Parker - 10.5 months
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Joined: January 7th, 2009, 7:24 pm

April 25th, 2003, 11:29 pm #6

Good Post.

One of the thing I did after reading some of the articles on fanticizing about just one was to calculate how many I smoked in a year. I made a sign that says 1 Puff = 9,125 cigs/yr and posted it at eye level in my office. Every time I start to get that Just One thinking I keep reminding myself that just one will really mean I want the other 9,124 I used to smoke annually.

Another thing I do on a daily basis is update my calendar, which is visible as I sit at my desk, with the money saved and the cigs not smoked. Now showing $ 530 and cigs not smoked at 1,325. I think the latter stat is the one that has the most impact now.

These are a couple of the tools I use along with the regular reading at the site.

Dwayne - into day 54
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:59 pm

April 25th, 2003, 11:30 pm #7

Hi Splat,

I like your post, and the way that you recognised that your friend wasn't having 'the perfect smoke in the perfect moment'. That was a huge myth that had to be crushed in my addict psyche. I always glamorised smoking. There were many "perfect" moments which I used to believe entailed "perfect" smokes. Yeah, whatever.

My toolbox is getting fortified all the time thanks to Freedom & the wisdom from my fellow Freedomites.

As it just so happens though, and very unfortunately, one of the main tools that I've used came from a friend of mine. His name was Eddie and for the last few months I have been walking his dog because he was unable to walk him any more due to emphysema. He was very sick and it was painful to watch him struggle for air. Eddie was on oxygen, 24/7 at the end. He also had heart disease, and as he explained to me last week, the heart disease was what was going to do him in, even though the inability to breath was most obvious.

Well, Eddie died on Wednesday night. His heart finally just stopped. He was right, he knew that was how he'd go. And though I knew that he would die soon, I didn't really think it would happen just yet.

Anyway, he told me many times in the last couple of months that my quitting was a great source of joy for him. He liked to say that maybe his suffering was not all in vain. Every day I would walk over in the morning to get the dog and Eddie would ask if I was still off of "them". I'd say yeah, and he'd just nod in satisfaction. He quit smoking last year, because of being on the oxygen. He knew he already had heart disease when he found out about the emphysema, but he had never been able to quit.

He asked me how I quit, and I told him about Freedom and WhyQuit. I told him about going to Joel's workshop and how pretty much all he'd said had stuck with me. I told him about the Palmolive bottle demonstration (he thought that was an acurate depiction, by the way). I told him how when I knew I was really going to do it cold turkey this time, I called Joel and how he called me right back & how he e-mailed the info about this site. I told him about the "72 hours"... He listened eagerly, and then wisfully said, "I would've liked to have known about something like that when I was your age."

Eddie was a good friend. It was very difficult to watch him struggle for his air and for his dignity.

That, in combination with all that I have been learning at Freedom, has been one of my strongest tools. Now, I suppose his memory will be one of the tools that I will carry, along with the memory of my stepfather who also died of smoking-related heart disease. And then of course, there's my mother who was just in the hospital a few months ago with respiratory failure due to acute asthma, who has resumed smoking and is not doing too well...

The list could go on and on. There are some really good posts & threads from here that are in my toolbox too. Ultimately, it's an intrinsic thing. An internal shift in consciousness, if you will. For me I had to "become" a non-smoker as an identity of sorts. So much of my own sense of identity had been wrapped up in being a smoker, that I needed to go through a pretty radical internal shift in order to see myself as a non-smoker. And the only way that I could accomplish that initially was by way of a cold turkey quit backed up by a ton of tangible support and equally as much education. In other words... Freedom and WhyQuit.

Keep up the great quit you've got going!

your quit friend,

LornaMc
2m3w12h...
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Joined: January 7th, 2009, 7:40 pm

April 26th, 2003, 12:53 am #8

Motivation:
Probably the best motivation I had was in one of Joels articles - can't remember which one, though , but I remembered the content and thats more important, right? Anyways it was about emphysema(sp?) and it basically was saying to Take a really deep breath and hold it...take another really deep breath WITHOUT letting the first one go, then try to sip in another deep breath WITHOUT letting the other breaths go....This is was emphysema feels like.... This really was a helpful tool for me. I totally don't wanna breathe like that, so when I have a crave, I do this breathing exercise - kinda helps put it in perspective for me.
GREAT IDEA FOR A POST!,
YQS,
MegBunny
Last edited by MegBunny(Bronzed) on April 14th, 2009, 12:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: December 19th, 2008, 12:14 am

April 26th, 2003, 1:57 am #9

Hi Splat. One of my tools was knowing that no matter how hard it got I wanted to be a non-smoker more than I wanted to give in to the urges. You are doing great. You defeated a big trigger and next time it will be easier. Sheila
Five months, three days, 5 hours, 57 minutes and 0 seconds. 2159 cigarettes not smoked, saving $377.81. Life saved: 1 week, 11 hours, 55 minutes.
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:58 pm

April 26th, 2003, 12:23 pm #10

Hi there Splat! I do not believe I welcomed you into Freedom so, most hearty welcome to you! Wow, all these awesome people have brought up some great ideas for a "toolbox"! I would like to add:

Never, ever forget what smoking was TRULY like in the last days of your active addiction because that is EXACTLY how it will be if you go back.

There are no "ahhhhhhh" cigarettes for us anymore. All newbies note- if you haven't done so already, write down all the reasons you have chosen to not allow nicotine into your body NOW- note that Parker has refered to this already, and she is almost GOLD....she has been there, done that....gotta love Parker! This is soooo important because at stressful or celebratory or just plain old regular trigger times we may distort in our junky thinking how wonderful smoking was- its not...it never was...its dirty, health and soul robbing. Its important not to forget the truth. Write it down!

Valerie
3 Months, 3 Weeks, 3 Days.....and I took the time to write my history with nicotine addiction down...and very glad I did!
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

April 26th, 2003, 7:28 pm #11

Hello Splat:
I was out of town most of yesterday and didn't have a chance to get to this post, but our members brought up a number of ideas and concepts that I would have suggested. LornaMc's story of Eddie is a powerful motivator to reinforce just how important the effort is for every person who is quitting smoking is making. It is truly a life and death struggle in the early days of a quit.
As time goes on though, it is no longer a life and death struggle but rather the ex-smoker is preserving his or her health and saving his or her life by basically just not smoking and overall not being consumed by the effort. Not smoking will just become a way of life. Not smoking will become a habit. It will come to the point where you will see people light up and all you will feel will be a sense of pity or you will almost look at the behavior with a sense of detachment, almost not understanding how they could be doing that.
Until that point though, really watch people smoke and with the time you used to waste smoking along side of them, focus your thoughts on the real implications and problems that are being faced by these people. I will attach a few links below to go a little deeper into this visualization technique.
Being tempted watching others smoke
Another slant on how to watch people smoke
Feel how smoking effects your lungs (the post MegBunny was referring to)
Two other posts that Eddie's story above made me think of:

I can't quit or I won't quit
The Isolation of a Widowed Smoker
Watch these people on nice days outside enjoying those cigarettes. Then realize that if the weather is subzero, or sizzling or a torrential downpour or any other inclement condition, they are still going to be out there. Also realize that if their personal condition changes, like if they were not able to smoke through their mouth anymore (see I smoke because I like the flavor) they would still be smoking. See smoking for all it is and you will have the tools necessary to stay committed to never take another puff!
Joel
Last edited by Joel on April 14th, 2009, 1:02 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:59 pm

April 26th, 2003, 8:05 pm #12

That's a terrific post, Stacey

And of course you've got some terrific response to it from some wise and insightful members, to add to your own acute insight

Let me start off by reinforcing something Joel just said. "Not smoking will just become a way of life ". What he means, of course, is that it will become a natural part of your way of life, instinctive, automatic. I always describe it as being like remembering to look both ways for vehicles before you cross the road. We have so many long-term quitters here at Freedom who will all confirm to you that this is where you will get to.

But in the meantime, that toolbox you've started to fill will come ion might useful. The Palmolive bottle demonstration (which I have witnessed at Joel's clinic) is mind-blowing. Once you've seen that, the image will just jump into your head the moment you see someone smoking.

Knowing and seeing someone suffering from smoking-related disease is probably the most powerful shock to your sytem to hold you back from that fatal one puff. It's not something I would wish on anyone, but if you can bear to do it I would suggest you go to your local hospital and visit some people in their cancer wards.

I have always believed in maintaining two Quit Lists. There is the long one you keep adding to as you come to appreciate all the new benefits of having quit, and that gets as long as your arm. It's great to read through avery couple of weeks, because it's a good tool for reinforcing your motivation.

But I also like having a "Critical List" which contains no more than four or five reasons to quit, any one of which would be enough on its own to make you quit, and stay quit. The point of this is that you can memorize it, and call it up in your mind at a difficult moment and recite it out loud to yourself. It's best if each line starts with the key word, and then if you can make an acronym out of it, so much the better.

My Critical List is :

Control - I am now in control of my own life
Appreciation - I now appreciate so many things more, like food, wlaks in the country, relaxing with my family
Self-esteem - I no longer despise myself for being unable to stop doing something I really know I should stop doing

Health - My whole body and mind are healthier than at any time in my life

.... and the whole things reminds me of the CASH I'm saving So every time I had a bad moment, I used to think CASH, and recite to myself (sometimes out loud) "Control, A , Self-esteem, Health" and I found that helped a lot. You know, Stacey, I haven't had to do that for nearly two years now, and although I instantly remembered the word "CASH" I just had to struggle to remember what tha "A" stood for

You're doing great, Stacey. Never stop thinking about your quit, until you don't have to any more.

Marty
Two years, four months, three weeks, five days. 15782 cigarettes not smoked, saving £3,621.87. Life saved: 7 weeks, 5 days
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:59 pm

April 26th, 2003, 9:30 pm #13

Hi Splat and I enjoyed reading every post. I have not welcomed you to FREEDOM before and you have come to the right place. I am approaching 6 months of quit and still check in and read. That is very important. I think it is dangerous to get so comfortable with a quit that you quit reinforcing by reading. The mantra never take another puff needs to be engraved in the brain. I also have engraved the saying..this trigger will pass. One thing that keeps me going is the picture of Kim's incision from having her lung removed. I almost never think of a cigarettes anymore, but when I do, this whole list comes to mind. Birky 5mths 1 wk + You can do this!!!!!
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Joined: December 19th, 2008, 12:03 am

April 26th, 2003, 10:59 pm #14

Hi Splat!! I really liked your post and I am glad that you saw smoking for what it really is! I have all sorts of things in my toolbox.
1. the knowledge that for me there is no such thing as one cigarette. ( this is huge: especially when the thought of just one seemed almost unbearable) The One Puff Files this is a sad read and I know that I would be no exception!!
2. looking at my exsmoking life as a way to be a better person. I really felt like a hypocrit a lot of the time especially around children. I hated them seeing me smoke! It was embarrassing.
3. When I felt sorry for myself Or that I was somehow depriving myself of something pleasurable ( ha!) I would and still do visit NONI!! She did not die in vain. Have you met Noni?
4. I had little tricks with myself during the first month or so!! I would go to the gym and when thoughts of smoking came up I would say to myself " ATHLETES DON"T SMOKE" Ha Ha!! I do feel like an athlete now! Positive or self talk worked for me. When I really had a bad urge I would say NICOTINE in a funny voice. After all everything I was going through was a direct result of me inhaling nicotine. I would look at it and say " all this for nicotine" It was powerful. Well now that I sound nuts I will move on .
5. Taking it one day at a time! Moment by moment if need be.
6. BELIEVING that things would get better. It was promised and promised to me by the oldbies and I hung on to those words constantly. And they were right. It wasn't immediate but it was true.
7. FREEDOM SITE where you can come and read and share your feelings. Even when a computer is not near you the knowledge that there are people like us makes all the difference.
8. Finally NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF!!
Take care of yourself and thanks for your post. I see you have a lot of good feedback. Lornamacs post made me cry! Keep up the great stats !! YQF Lena 4+
Last edited by Lena (SILVER) on April 14th, 2009, 1:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: December 19th, 2008, 12:08 am

April 28th, 2003, 6:39 am #15

My addition to the tool-box is the knowledge i gained after reading about
the blood sugar level. I hardly think of smoking now after two months and
it always helps me when i think about the sugar level.

Vipin
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Joined: January 7th, 2009, 7:39 pm

April 30th, 2003, 10:46 pm #16

hi all.

i just wanted to post a thank you to each of you who responded to my post.
individually, each of you gave me something. your honesty, experience, and encouragement is truly inspiring. together, you've become a great tool that i think i will always be able to use.

already i am grateful to be an ex-smoker. while i might have been able to stop smoking on my own, i am so glad that i didn't try. you guys and this site give me so much more than not picking up a cigarette one day at a time. you give me gratitude, peace of mind, and the smile that is currently on my face.

thank you. you've changed my life for the better.

warmest wishes,
splat
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

May 1st, 2003, 3:14 am #17

I'm with Parker, Splat, you've done an amazing job of transforming a "wanting" mind into a tool of observation, reason, logic and honesty. I doubt we'll find a more powerful tool for that toolbox of yours than what you've given it - a motivated and educated mind that demands honesty. In my mind it isn't a question of not having what it takes but more a matter of losing what we already have.
It may have been the "perfect" recipe for relapse (a little chilly, a little late and conversation a bit too deep) but nicotine's two-hour chemical half-life is pretty much the same for your girlfriend as it is for every other nicotine addict on earth, including the hundreds of thousands who at this very second think they are smoking because the telephone just rang or because the telephone didn't ring, because they're bored or because they're not bored and in the company of many many friends, because they're hungry or because they just finished a nice big meal, because they just awoke or because it's time for bed, because they're about to walk into a store or because they're just walking out of another, because they're getting into the car or getting out, because they're happy or sad, have one cigarette left or a full pack, or think they're smoking because they are at a specific location, a certain time of day or even around that special person who also happens to be chemically dependent upon mandatory regular nicotine feedings til death - or recovery - do they part!
In fact, unless we accelerated metabolizing our body's nicotine reserves by sensing stress, consuming large quantities of vitamin C or drinking alcohol, all the other romantic feeding times were simply "early" at best
Education is something that it's pretty darn hard to lose, Splat. What I'd like to see in that toolbox is a way for Splat to keep his core motivations and day #1 reasons for seeking freedom as vibrant and alive on day 31 and 44 as they were on day 13!
Should the excitement and newness of this temporary journey of adjustment begin to wane - creating fertile ground for junkie thinking - what tool will pull from your box to refresh, revive and renew it, Splat? What good is swimming half way across an amazing river to paradise (to the waiting arms of a comfortable "you") before turning back to face dependency, decay, and disease?
This isn't a hard journey but it does require patience and sustained motivation. Which tool will we reach for should we sense "junkie thinking" beginning to infect our recovery? I say, fill our box with honest memories of what life as a daily nicotine smoker was like, with why we wanted our freedom so badly back on day #1, and with every honest realizations (like your "feeding time" realization on the pier) that we can possibly grab hold of during recovery.
Thanks for the thread, Splat! In the end there will always be only one rule - no nicotine - Never Take Another Puff! John
Last edited by John (Gold) on April 14th, 2009, 1:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: December 19th, 2008, 12:06 am

February 17th, 2006, 7:33 am #18

My Critical List is :

Control - I am now in control of my own life
Appreciation - I now appreciate so many things more, like food, wlaks in the country, relaxing with my family
Self-esteem - I no longer despise myself for being unable to stop doing something I really know I should stop doing

Health - My whole body and mind are healthier than at any time in my life

.... and the whole things reminds me of the CASH I'm saving So every time I had a bad moment, I used to think CASH, and recite to myself (sometimes out loud) "Control, A , Self-esteem, Health" and I found that helped a lot.
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

February 17th, 2006, 8:34 am #19

HI, I'm still a beginner, so really have no right to be giving advice...but still, there are three things that I hang onto and use everytime a trigger nags me.
first is the smoker's Vow. Boy.....that one really hits home.
second is remembering about the sugar imbalance. ..learning to control that really was the biggest help I can imagine
and third is something I read here someplace. Someone said to wear a thick rubber band on your wrist and when a trigger hits,just snap it lightly while you remind yourself that you don't smoke anymore....something about the snap and the reminder at the same time seems to stop that trigger cold.
annie a newbie at one week,and twenty seven minutes...but planning for sure to NTAP
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Joined: April 4th, 2005, 7:00 am

May 2nd, 2006, 8:44 am #20

"I watched my girlfriend pull a cigarette out of her pack and I reminded myself that she wasn't smoking because it was a perfect thing to do in a perfect moment, but because she was reaching the end of a nicotine cycle and her body was demanding more. I watched her and I reminded myself that she wasn't smoking because she wanted to, but because she had to."
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

November 27th, 2006, 10:52 pm #21

An absolute Gem of a post.

"....i reminded myself that she wasn't smoking because it was a perfect thing to do in a perfect moment, but because she was reaching the end of a nicotine cycle and her body was demanding more. i watched her and i reminded myself that she wasn't smoking because she wanted to, but because she had to. this wasn't an ideal moment that she was getting to fulfill and i wasn't (just one of the crazies in my brain); this was chemical dependency. i didn't smoke, the crave passed, and i can breathe easy today. =)"
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

November 15th, 2007, 10:02 pm #22

Read, READ and read some more.
Develop your very own 'toolbox' of recovery skills & adjustment tools early and often.
They will become more valuable the longer you own them.

This is a good one to do a little exploring - use the First button and keep on going back to here.
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:58 pm

August 23rd, 2008, 8:33 am #23

i watched her and i reminded myself that she wasn't smoking because she wanted to, but because she had to. this wasn't an ideal moment that she was getting to fulfill and i wasn't (just one of the crazies in my brain); this was chemical dependency. i didn't smoke, the crave passed, and i can breathe easy today. =)
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

October 24th, 2008, 5:48 am #24

So I have to bring this to the top because after almost 3 months nicotene free I am/was having a rough time with this today. I don't know why. My new sweater makes me look fat- That could be it? The weather is getting colder?? It's dark earlier??? Who knows but this reading has helped me and I am off to the treadmill to vent a bit! Thanks for listening .
christine
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Joined: January 18th, 2009, 6:57 am

October 14th, 2010, 5:06 pm #25

After referring to this post in a newer members string I dropped in to read it again.  Always a favorite gem from the archives.  You can find this one and many more by looking through the Library found here:


Read, READ and read some more.
Develop your very own 'toolbox' of recovery skills & adjustment tools early and often.
They will become more valuable the longer you own them.

This is a good one to do a little exploring - use the navigation arrows to begin at the beginning and keep on reading until you get back to here.

Joe J free 2103 days and still finding time to 'sharpen the saw'
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