Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN


June 2, 2014

The fight has gotten easier

CROSSVILLE — I was sitting at a table on the patio of the restaurant and my friend's pack of cigarettes was just sitting there, within easy reach. It would be so easy to reach over, grab one and light up.

I hadn't had a cigarette in months — about eight months, to be precise — and I wanted one. It had been one of those days, preceded by one of those weeks in a month that was quickly becoming one of those months. Surely one single cigarette wouldn't hurt me.

There it was, the first lie an ex-smoker tells herself.

I sometimes suffer from a distinct lack of will power, as my behavior on birthday cake day at work will prove. And I caved.

Before my friends, smokers and non-smokers alike, could react, I had the cigarette in my hand, with the lighter in the other. I lit the tiny little batch of nicotine. The flame caught and I inhaled, deeply, waiting for the rush that follows that first hit of nicotine after you've been away from it for a while.

And then I started coughing. One little puff, and this former pack-a-day smoker was coughing and hacking like I had never inhaled before. Then the nicotine did hit, and a wave of nausea washed over me.

I put the cigarette out and felt ashamed. All my months of not smoking, after the difficulty of quitting to begin with, had been lost in that one little action.

Except it wasn't.

The silver lining of this little scene was that I didn't like the cigarette. It actually did make me physically ill to take one puff. I don't want another cigarette, and that horrible memory is going to stick with me the next time I get a nicotine hankering.

This week is the one-year mark of when I made the decision that I no longer wanted to be chained to my cigarettes. I wanted to be able to leave my house, or my car, without making sure a pack was secured in my pocket or purse, along with a working lighter. I wanted to be able to save that $5 a pack cost, which I was paying every day. I wanted to be able to walk to the end of the street and not have to stop to catch my breath.

I wanted to be free of this addiction that had been with me for almost half my life.

I'm so glad I did. After I quit smoking, I rediscovered a few things about myself, like the fact I like to be active. I like having the energy to go home and ride my bike or walk my dog and not have to stop and cough up a lung. I like seeing the money that isn't being spent on a substance that would eventually kill me. I like being able to go on car rides with my friends and family who do not smoke and not having to take rest stops so that I can smoke.

It's fantastic.

I also like that, by sharing my story of quitting months ago, others were encouraged to give quitting smoking another shot.

For those who have been quit a year, you get to enjoy a reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease, which is now half that of a continuing smoker. I made it through cold and flu season without a major respiratory infection, and my smoker's cough was no more.

There's a few other benefits, as well. I didn't have to brave the freezing cold of the polar vortex this winter out on the smoker's porch. I also had to learn to deal with my stress in a more productive way. Before, I'd go have a smoke. Now, I have to deal with the source of my stress. Am I feeling overwhelmed? I'll make a list of what needs to be done, and mark those items that really need to be done first. I've written thousands of to-do lists in the last year. It's calming.

Or, I'll call up a friend and talk. I've had other friends give up smoking, as well, and they are wonderful shoulders to lean on when I'm feeling weak willed. They say only about 7 percent of people who quit smoking without support make it to the one-year mark. I would likely be among the 97 percent without the support and encouragement of my friends, families and coworkers, who weren't exactly thrilled at the idea of me quitting smoking, but are happing now that it's done.

Of course, this quitting smoking thing is a one-day-at-a-time journey. I've had others who have quit for many years share that, every now and again, they'll catch the scent of cigarette smoke wafting through the air, and the old familiar urge to smoke comes roaring back, but those incidents get fewer and fewer with each passing year.

So, I'm still an ex-smoker, taking it one day at a time and fighting some of those same battles over and over again that I fought in the first few months after I quit, but the fight has gotten a lot easier. In fact, 99.9 percent of the time, it isn't even a fight anymore. And I'm going to stay vigilant against that .1 percent that creeps up here and there.

• • •

Heather Mullinix is assistant editor of the Crossville Chronicle. Her column is published on Tuesdays. She may be reached at

Text Only
  • Tidbits: Taking a low-tech break

    Feeling increasingly strangled by my electronic leash, with phone, text messages, email, social media and a variety of other forms of communication always at my side, I took the weekend off.

    July 28, 2014

  • Stumptalk: Governing before and after mass corruption

    Laws in America were originally written simply. Every citizen could read them quickly and understand their meaning. The founders wrote the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Northwest Ordinance and the Constitution of the United States, none of which was longer than 4,500 words.

    July 28, 2014

  • We the People: The last dance

    Charlie Hayden’s last recording session with his early partner, Keith Jarrett, was in 2007.  The songs they played were mostly melancholy.  The second album coming from that session includes Weil’s “My Ship” and Porter’s “Every Time We Say Goodbye.” The dark ballad “Goodbye,” by Gordon Jenkins, was the final track.

    July 22, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Living in a pressure cooker

    The Gaza Strip, a small Palestinian territory about the size of Washington, D.C., has been in the news almost every day.  Its key location at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea has attracted a number of occupying powers over the years, and it has  been at the center of much Middle East history.

    July 22, 2014

  • Tidbits: The excitement of election day

    On March 12, 1996, there were 427,183 votes cast in the presidential primary election. Among those votes was mine, the first vote I cast in an election, just two days after my 18th birthday.

    July 21, 2014

  • Raising the minimum wage

    My first job from which FICA was withheld was a minimum wage job, seventy-five cents an hour. And yes, even then no one could live on that little money. However, I was a high schooler living at home where my father provided room and board. The job gave me pocket money to buy gasoline, to take my girlfriend out for movies and burgers, and to buy tickets for baseball games.

    July 21, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Children on the move

    The news this past week has focused on the humanitarian crisis developing on our southern border. Thousands of unaccompanied children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras seeking to escape from the violence, human trafficking and extreme poverty in their countries have been entering the United States.

    July 15, 2014

  • We the People: Memo to gun rights groups

    The recent incident in California helps us understand why we cannot rely on mental health services alone to solve the problem of gun violence.

    July 15, 2014

  • Tidbits: Make the best of your road trip

    I didn’t care for road trips when I was young. It was so confining to have to sit in the back seat, staring out the window for hour after hour, hayfield after hayfield. And when you’re a kid, time doesn’t pass like it does when you get a little older. Just the trip from Jamestown, TN, to Crossville, roughly 30 miles, felt like an eternity!

    July 14, 2014

  • Stumptalk: Biased climate agenda will cost trillions

    For anyone who has been educated in the history of science and scientific method, this whole issue of “Global Warming” or “Climate Change” is an embarrassing and painful exercise.

    July 14, 2014

Marketplace Marquee
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar
2014 Readers' Choice
Graduation 2014