08 February 2010

To Be a Quitter...

I began smoking the weekend I turned 16. Good grief, how stupid could I have been? It's the usual thing--peer acceptance. I wasn't pressured into it, for some reason, I just thought it would be a cool thing to do. To this day, I still remember absolutely hating it when my dad would light up a cigarette in the car while we were going somewhere. It stunk horribly. And of course, I remember the Great American Smokeout days each November where everyone would get these stickers which read, "Kiss me. I don't smoke!" But that was never a thought in my mind when I decided to pick up the habit. I did tell my dad about it; he told me I needed to quit and offered to quit himself, but I didn't do it and neither did he. (He had quit once for about two years, but started up again around the time our house burned down when I was in high school.) I got in trouble a couple of times when my parents found evidence of my nasty secret, but I didn't let that stop me, either. 

I quit in June of 1999 and I don't remember having one problem quitting or staying smoke-free. I stayed that way until the summer of 2005 when I was coming to the realization that my marriage was failing. It wasn't a big deal at first, but it didn't take me long to end up right back where I'd been when I quit six years previously. And now, it's coming up on 5 years that I've been smoking again. I quit in August for about 6 weeks. It wasn't easy, at first, of course, but it wasn't all that hard either. I should never have given in to the craving. It's really disheartening to realize how much power I've let those little tubes of tobacco have over me. I realize that I have allowed myself to be brainwashed into thinking that I need the smoke, that I want the smoke, that I enjoy inhaling the smoke. And it almost seems that I'm powerless to stop. I read a book which talks about how there are more people addicted to nicotine and tobacco products than to heroin and while there are free programs to help people kick the heroin habit, there's not much free help to quit smoking. Many insurance programs won't even cover smoking cessation medications like Chantix. 

I realize that I'm afraid to face the cravings. I am afraid that I won't be able to handle it and somehow it seems like not even trying would be better than trying and failing...again. I wrote out a list of 20 reasons for me to quit smoking--and they're all great reasons, but I still equivocate and, well, just wimp out. The thing is, though, I don't want to be controlled by a 3 inch long tube of chemical laced nicotine. I don't want to end up with lung cancer or emphysema. I don't want to be an old lady dragging around an oxygen tank, too weak to play with her grandkids. I'm tired of being embarrassed or afraid to walk up to the man I'm in love with and kiss him because of my nasty cigarette breath or stinky hair. I don't want it, and yet, I continue to stop at the convenience store and pay $5 a pack to kill myself 3 inches at a time. 

So? What do I do? I visited BecomeAnEX.org today and signed up for their free tips and program on how to quit. The thing is, I've done it before, so I know I can do it again. I also know that I will never again be able to give into the thought of, "Just one...Just one cigarette won't hurt. You won't like it, so you don't have to keep doing it." I know I'm strong enough to do this. I just have to believe it. I'm going to try the program through BecomeAnEx. And I'm going to believe that it will work. My quit date is set for April 8, 2010. It seems like a long way out, even for me, but that's the date the program suggested for me, based on my answers to its questions. And hey, if I feel ready to do it before then, I can go for it. But for now, I'm going to follow the program. I'm starting to keep track of all my cigarettes in a log on the website and learn what my triggers are. Then I'll start to teach myself how to break the habits that I'm in. 

I'm going to work on my own, too, using the Law of Attraction and visualize myself as a non-smoker--imagine how good it will feel when I can ignore the cravings and not give in. 

So...that's it. My quit date is April 8, 2010. Two months away. I can do this. I will. For my sons, for my family and friends...for me.

31 January 2010

conspiracy theories

As I indicated in a previous entry, I recently (within the past couple of months) viewed both Zeitgeist movies. I was introduced to several theories in the movies that one might call conspiracy theories, depending, of course, on one's perspective.

I will admit that I viewed with derision a gentleman who used to speak at a local governmental venue on a regular basis; his speeches usually centered on the attacks on September 11, 2001 and how those attacks were engineered by our United States government. Now, my own opinions on the subject are far less certain. My confidence in our government has long been wavering and I am now far more convinced than ever before that my vote does not go anywhere or mean anything.

Another subject of the Zeitgeist movies is the monetary system and the Federal Reserve. I remember feeling for a long time that "money" exists mostly in computers--and for some reason, that particular feeling made it seem to me that this thing we call "money" was nothing more than a game at which rich people excel and that "not-rich" people have no choice but to play. As I spoke with my dad not long after viewing the movies, he told me something I had never heard before: that one of the conspiracy theories for John F. Kennedy's assassination involved him being murdered because of his efforts to end the Federal Reserve. (My not hearing that particular theory previously is not remarkable, as I've not lent much credence to those kinds of theories previously in my life.)

I've been asked a couple of times since I've viewed the movies and commented on them to friends if I listen to Alex Jones. Honestly, I'd never heard of the man until December 2009, around the time I first viewed the Zeitgeist movies. I've listened to pieces of a couple of his radio broadcasts and I don't really care to listen at all anymore. It is entirely possible that he has some valid points and some useful information, but I don't care at all for his delivery.

At any rate, as I've also indicated in a previous entry, I've been reading some books which I probably wouldn't have encountered otherwise, because, truly, my reading tastes often fell to fiction and fantasy or management and self-improvement type books. As a result of the Zeitgeist movies and a couple of books I've read, I find myself more and more convinced that we, the general public, are fed information that we are supposed to believe and regurgitate. Many people have a dim view of education: that students are taught rote memorization for the most part and when asked to analyze and offer opinions, receive grades based on how well their analysis and opinions match those of their teachers and professors. Please understand, I'm not trying to belittle teachers and educators. I know that there is much to do with little money and many expectations to be met--but expectations of government in order to receive more money. How is it, though, that so many of us seem to believe that we are being fed so much tripe, and that there must be more going on but not much ever seems to change?

Are we really all so complacent? Why do we enjoy watching reality television so much? Why do we enjoy inane and ridiculous situation comedies? There are many "Why?" questions and many answers. And very few of us can throw stones, as it were. I know I've heard people say that they enjoy the brainless fare of television, movies, and video games because of the stress of their jobs and their lives.

Are we truly just working to maintain the status quo of a select few? Are we really just supporting the government in their efforts to maintain the monetary system? Are we being convinced that must see tv is a blessing that we must take advantage of in order to relax so that we remain blind to what is going on around us and how we are being manipulated? I don't know. There are no easy answers. But I do resolve to keep an open mind and not discount things or people simply because they do not fit with the worldview I've developed over the last 33 years.

surprises, and then again, not so much

I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in September 2005. It was not a great year. The diagnosis was a good thing, though. It actually explained quite a few things.

I had been diagnosed with depression a couple of times previously and had taken anti-depressants on those occasions, but only for a few weeks each time. I'd believe everything was fine and stop taking the medication on my own without ever seeing a doctor or psychologist about it again. Issues like this apparently run in my family, but I was one of those who believed that all one had to do was think her way into happiness and out of depression and everything would be fine.

When I finally made an appointment to see my doctor about my dawning belief that I had bipolar disorder, things had gotten pretty bad. At the appointment, the doctor came in and asked why I was there. I told him, mumbling and not at all confident or proud of myself, "I'm afraid I have bipolar disorder." His answer? "I actually diagnosed you with bipolar disorder about 6 months ago. I knew that if you didn't bring it up first, you wouldn't listen to me." Sucked for me, huh? Although, I knew then, and I still believe now, that he was right.

I was on medication for bipolar disorder for almost 4 years. I stopped taking it in May 2009, this time, with the help and support of a psychiatrist. My sleep has suffered as a result, because the medication I was taking made me very sleepy, but I am getting used to being a very light sleeper again. I'm willing to go back on the medication if I need it, but so far, I think I've been doing well. Not to say that I'm cured--I definitely have my off days.

I'm not certain where I am going with this post tonight. I just feel as though I needed to review it all. There is more to say; but I think I need to sleep on this for now.

29 January 2010

awake inside my head

thoughts tumbling and roiling inside my head
unsure where they come from or how long they intend to stay
Jimi Hendrix said, "Manic depression, it's a frustrating mess."
frustrating when the day is so wonderful--when life is so blessed--
and believing and knowing that i am response-able, that i have the ability to choose...
not liking the down-swings; knowing they are finite does not help.
hearing the incredible sounds of my beautiful children and knowing they are a part of me and i of them; knowing that love is intangible but still real.
hearing the sounds of one who loves me, who, in the words of Ingrid Michaelson takes me as i am
recounting again and again the people whom i love and who love me in return, even when i don't feel i deserve it; the things i have for which i am grateful.
i am on a path to the pinnacle and can see but a few steps in front of me at a time
and i keep walking because i do not wish to give in to fear
if i could only know the final destination
but, then, my eyes fixed on the end, i
would miss all that is around me

the words are in my head
are you listening

28 January 2010

Death, Taxes, and Change

Well, I'm sure you probably get the reference from the today's blog title: Most of us have heard the Benjamin Franklin quote, or at least its ending: "...nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."

Change is another thing of which we can be certain; will we or nil we, life changes all about us. There seem to be so many who sit and whine about the changes they see, as if somehow their dislike of the change will keep it from occurring. Unfortunately, life doesn't seem to work that way. In my work, there have been some major changes lately, including the implementation of some new software that, while it is troubling in the present, as we all get used to it and work out the quirks, will result in a lessening of effort and workload--and definitely save a few trees. But, there are those among us who simply can't stand to give up writing their reports with pen and paper, and so, stand firm in their dislike.

I've long thought of myself as a positive person. As with anyone, I've had my days where I've been anything but positive. In the long run, though, I've realized (again and again) that looking at things optimistically works much better for me. I've really tried to start instilling that same type of attitude in both of my sons, encouraging them to think positively and believe in their hearts that they are capable of whatever they attempt, because I believe that belief is half of the battle. If I think I can't, well, then, usually I can't. It's been rather interesting to me to see all this...well, I'll call it confirmation--of my belief in a positive attitude. The workshop that Andy and I attended last Saturday seemed very much to reinforce that. I can't say that I really know much about the metaphysical and I don't know if the Universe really operates through the Law of Attraction. But, I do know that even if I can't just attract the things I want into my life simply by thinking about them, I certainly will never be worse off if I can remain positive and grateful and appreciative about all that which is already present in my existence. And there is always so much to be grateful for and appreciative of. One of the suggestions in the workshop was to write a gratitude/appreciation list each day of at least 10 things. Andy Dooley mentioned that sometimes we tend to write the same things over and over each day, so he suggested that we choose a different letter of the alphabet for each day. On the way home, Andy and I went even further, talking about body parts, household appliances, people, etc. As I've done this, I've tried to not only name the thing or idea I appreciate or am grateful for, but also include a reason why I appreciate it or am grateful for it. It's been interesting and I feel that it's a worthwhile practice. After all, I'm certainly not going to be able to attract any new "good" stuff into my life if I'm not grateful for what I already have.

Something else that has changed recently for me has resulted from a couple of movies that I watched within the last couple of months. The Zeitgeist Movie and Zeitgeist: Addendum (both available for free online) are very intriguing and give an open-minded person quite a bit to think about and consider. If you haven't seen them and you consider yourself religious, you might want to consider watching Addendum first and then The Zeitgeist Movie. Those two movies confirmed some things I've felt for some time and introduced me to some new thoughts and ideas. Some of these thoughts and ideas, I'll admit, are difficult to come to terms with, but ultimately, they have challenged me to challenge my own thoughts and preconceived notions. I would highly encourage you to watch them, especially if you are in any way disillusioned by recent "current events," including the financial crisis and anything in the political arena. Give yourself plenty of time, as each movie is about 2 hours long. If you do give these movies a look, please let me know what you think.

Through watching the movies and viewing the related websites for The Zeitgeist Movement and The Venus Project, I've also begun working my way through a reading list recommended by Jacque Fresco. The list includes over 50 books and DVDs, so it will take me some time to get through. The first books I ordered included short stories by Mark Twain (specifically Letters from the Earth and The Mysterious Stranger); Why People Believe Weird Things by Michael Shermer; The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan; The Best That Money Can't Buy by Jacque Fresco; and The Tyranny of Words by Stuart Chase. I was about halfway through the Tyranny of Words when my car was broken into this past Sunday and unfortunately, that book was in my purse which was stolen. It's very interesting, however, and introduced me to the topic of general semantics. I'm almost finished with Michael Shermer's Why People Believe Weird Things and though I'll admit I have to break out a dictionary every now and then during my reading, it, too, is a very interesting book. The author does not seem to be out to bash those who "believe in weird things," in fact, he often remarks in the pages of the book that the subjects to which he refers are very smart and likable people. Instead, he lays out a framework to explain why we all are capable of believing some pretty strange things and explains how we can analyze claims and beliefs for veracity and possibility.

I'm not a scientific kind of person in most cases. I think sciences are fascinating subjects, but I know that I have a history of thinking a lot more with my heart than with my head. Critical thinking is not something that comes easily to me. But, I will keep trying.

Death is coming. That is certain. No matter how uncomfortable the idea of it is to me, some day it will arrive. I am living the remainder of my life so that when death shows up for me, I will be happy and grateful for a life filled with love, happiness, and serving others. Taxes, unfortunately, are coming, too. But perhaps if enough of us humans being come around to the possibilities of a resource based society and get rid of this monetary system, taxes will be a thing of the past. Change. Our universe, our planet, every living creature on this rock hurtling in orbit around our sun has been changing for millenia. I appreciate our ability to change and adapt.

27 January 2010

Names and Identities

So, perhaps I should explain the name thing. I'm referencing the name of my blog and the URL for my blog. My name is Sara Elizabeth and as a child, much of my family referred to me as SaraBeth. As a child, I will admit I didn't care too much for that name, but as I grew older, it became a reminder of how much my family cares for me and so, I grew to love hearing people say, "SaraBeth!" I knew a woman once, much older than me who died several years ago, and her name was also Sara Elizabeth. She, was known as Sally, though. Mrs. Sally told me that she didn't like being called SaraBeth, because the old Texans who said the name slurred it so that it came out more like "SirBeth."

When I began working as a dispatcher at the age of 18, some of the folks I worked with began calling me "SaraBee". I still like that, too.

Well, then, that brings me to the SaraRedHawk. That's a fairly new identity for me, still. Last summer, my parents, my younger sister, and my two sons were taking trip to San Marcos to go tubing on the river. On the trip down, my oldest son, Reece, pointed out a red tailed hawk to his Nonnie. My mother than began to tell a story of an incident that occurred when she was pregnant with me: Shortly before I was due to arrive, she was headed to Burnet to the hospital for an x-ray to see how I was growing. (Yes, apparently they did x-ray pregnant women back then. Perhaps that explains what's wrong with me!) At any rate, while on the road, a red-tailed hawk flew out right in front of her, so close to the truck that it made her duck her head, and it just flew right up the windshield and out of sight. The x-ray taken at the hospital shortly afterward showed me in a frog-like position and sucking my thumb. My mom felt very comforted and happy and has since believed that the red-tailed hawk is her totem animal. Months after that, she and my dad were looking through artwork painted by a Native American artist for a painting of a red-tailed hawk, but all they found were eagles. She asked the artist for any such paintings and told him the story. He told her that if we were a Native American family, my name would have been "Sara Red Hawk." I thought that was a pretty neat story and I, too, have long been fascinated by red-tailed hawks.

There's one other new "identity" I have for myself. Last Saturday, Andy and I attended a Spiritual BreakTHROUGH workshop by Andy Dooley in Fort Worth. It was the first such experience for me and though it still seems just a bit strange, it was a really good workshop. At any rate, one of the activities was to develop a new identity for oneself, in order to try to keep the things we're trying to attract into our lives in mind and in order to try to fall away from the stuff that doesn't work anymore. So, I finally, and perhaps somewhat facetiously, chose "Sara, Queen of the Universe!"

As I am sitting here typing all of this and thinking about it, I have realized how many different names and identities I have. I suppose it's the same for us all. We have our family identities: father, mother, sister, brother, son, daughter, aunt, uncle, etc. We have our work identities: employee, employer, boss, subordinate, colleague...And there are so many others. I guess the trick is figuring out which identity (or identities) serve us and our goals the best and trying to weed out the rest.

It's been an awesome day. Andy's got the grill going and is about to put the steaks on. (The next identity I'll have is dishwasher!) Life is such an awesome adventure.

26 January 2010

Fits and Starts

I'm a newbie here. I used to keep an online journal/blog on another site that I kept up with on a very regular basis and it was a really good thing for me. But, then, I fell out of the habit. I have enjoyed writing for a long time; as with other things, though, I've had fits and starts over the years.

I find, however, that when I am writing SOMETHING on a fairly regular basis, I somehow feel better. Makes no sense, probably, but that's me sometimes. And, so, I will begin yet again and make a concerted effort to keep up the habit. Most of what I write here will probably be more in the nature of a journal than anything else and it may interest absolutely no one. That's okay with me. I'm not really doing this for anyone's approval, just my own sanity.

Well, how to introduce myself? I am a native Texas, living still in the same general area where I was born and raised. I have been divorced for almost a year now and separated for several months prior to the divorce. I have two wonderful sons and I try to be a wonderful mother, though I know I fall far short of the bar on many occasions. I am in a wonderful and amazing relationship; a relationship I am very grateful for, a relationship which is better than anything I could have ever hoped for. I have worked in public safety communications for pretty much my entire adult life and it has been and continues to be a wild journey. This seems somehow inadequate. Perhaps subsequent blog entries will help both myself and anyone who reads this to know me a bit better. Of course, if you have questions, you are more than welcome to ask me, though I hope you will understand if I choose to decline answering.

I suppose I'd better end this for now. I've made a start and that was my only intent for tonight.
Perhaps the rest of the night and tomorrow will bring me insights for my next post.