vulgarweed: (nosmokinghell_by_yummycoffee)
It's been exactly two years since my last cigarette!

Still vaping, now down to 3 mg/ml nicotine, a very low dose. Hope to be down to 0 by this time next year.
vulgarweed: (nosmokinghell_by_yummycoffee)
It's been one year since I last smoked a cigarette. I can actually call myself an ex-smoker now.

Yes, I still vape, that's how I did it. Over the past year I've come down from 18 mg/ml nicotine juice down to 3, and some of the flavors I'm currently using have none at all. This stuff saves lives, FOR REAL.

It's amazing, the changes in attitudes that I've seen. I started smoking in my mid-teens, in the mid-80s, in very tobacco-friendly rural Virginia. You could smoke in the grocery store! I remember smoking sections in restaurants, on buses and airplanes, etc. Most of my friends circles in my late teens, 20s, and 30s were composed of smokers. I'd say nearly half of my older RL friends still are, in the same boat as me, trying to quit as middle age comes on and we finally start to feel the effects.

My parents always wanted me to quit, and my mom in particular got so up in my face about it that it made me double down and become less likely to quit for a while, I think. I actually told her once that I would smoke an extra cigarette for every time she brought it up!

Nagging doesn't help. Shaming doesn't help. What eventually motivated me to quit was, frankly, money. Cigarettes are so expensive in Chicago I just started hating myself for all the money I was wasting. Vape shops were everywhere, so I just looked at my last pack of cigs from the 2 cartons I'd bought in NC where they're half the price, swore I'd never pay Chicago prices again, spent two packs' worth at the local vape shop (an indie business with juice made in-house), and I never did buy cigarettes in Chicago again. My last one, on August 24, 2015, was bummed from a co-worker. Menthol. Blech.

Cigarette smoke still smells good to me, but the desire to do it myself is all but gone. I still have sensually vivid dreams about it though, and I'm told that might never stop entirely. It's OK. It can stay in my dreams.
vulgarweed: (rain_by_aurora_starwing)

I kinda feel like that's nothing - I mean, that's only a month for every decade I was a smoker.

But I also feel like it's something. Something big.
vulgarweed: (rain_by_aurora_starwing)
I just wanted to share this with the people who follow me here.

My last cigarette was on August 24th.

Because I've switched to vaping, and have a local shop that's very helpful and has a vast array of flavors to choose from, I'm not even feeling cravings. I'm still a nicotine addict, but I'm scaling down gradually - the first few bottles of juice I bought had a concentration of 18mg/ml nicotine. (This is at the high end of the middle range commonly sold). That was good for a while but actually too strong. The next batch I bought was 12 mg/ml. Currently I'm mixing it up with some that are 6 mg/ml.

I think the reason this is working for me and nothing else has is that it's a truly effective substitution. It's a pleasant experience that I can control (unlike gum or patches), it has no immediately unpleasant or dangerous side effects (unlike drugs like Chantix, which list "suicidal thoughts" as a very common known risk. Yeah no, I won't be taking that), and it reproduces and respects a lot of the ritualistic aspects of smoking - the flavor, the hand-to-mouth motion, even the 5-minutes-of-peace-and-quiet aspect when I step outside to do it at work. (I don't have to at home; my roommates don't mind it, nor do they even notice).

Basically, it's just like smoking without the tar, the smoke, the carcinogens, and the 4,000+ toxic chemicals that commercial cigarette manufacturers add. It's propylene glycol (commonly found in asthma inhalers)/vegetable glycol, plus nicotine, plus flavors. That's it. I'm partial to coffee/tobacco/vanilla flavors, plus I have some nice ginger peach, chai tea, and dragonfruit ones that pair really well with the others. There's a whole artisanal/gourmet aspect to flavor mixing in the industry - the shop I go to blends their own flavors for national wholesale and internet sales, and they're very proud of their 100+ different creations.

A little over two months in, I've noticed definite improvements in lung function. That weight on my chest in the mornings is gone. My brain feels sharper, probably because of improved oxygen flow. Someone told me at work today my skin looks healthier.

I have not noticed any downsides yet except a tendency to dry mouth. (which smoking can also cause). Drink more water, there, it's fixed.

Also, though buying the equipment is a bit of an investment at first, it pays for itself quickly especially if you live in a place with high cigarette prices/taxes like I do.
vulgarweed: (nosmokinghell_by_yummycoffee)
Tonight marks one month since the last time I smoked a cigarette.

(Those of you who know me IRL, especially if you've known me for a long time, know that this is a shocker on a global scale. I hadn't gone more than a day without since the Reagan administration.)
vulgarweed: (tree_by_aurora_starwing)
Blessed Beltane to all of you.

This Beltane is very special to me:

On Beltane Eve 1990, 25 years ago tonight, I was initiated as a Pagan and Witch into White Horse Coven of Yellow Springs, Ohio. I was 20 years old at the time.

I want to take this opportunity to say that I still believe that I chose the right religious path for me, way back then. I still identify as Wiccan/Pagan. I am still sure in my heart that I’m exactly where I belong.

I am so grateful for everyone I worked with then (some of whom are Livejournal friends right here now. :D) I am grateful for every opportunity I had to learn, and for all opportunities to learn, wherever they happen.

This is my statement tonight:

I reaffirm the same vows I made that night in front of my dearest friends, in front of my coven, in front of my ancestors, and in front of the Gods. For all the rest of my life, I desire most of all to be the best Pagan and Witch that I can be. I wish to continue learning just how deep "'an you harm none" goes (very deep indeed. It's a constant challenge to keep learning how to identify harmful behaviors and stop them, and stand up to harm when I see it, and for every action I take or decide not to take, consider how my action or inaction might harm others). I wish to continue learning how to attune with the land, and to speak for the truly voiceless. I wish to continue maneuvering myself into a position where I have more power to help others who need help. I wish to become a stronger fighter, a clearer listener, a more disciplined wordsmith, a kinder helper, a more patient caretaker, a braver traveler. I desire these things in the service of the Lord and Lady, who are the beauty of the sky and the life-force of the land.

So mote it be.

September 2017

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