Legend has it that my Native blood is descended from the "Stone Boat" people, a race of aquatic Folks who transformed themselves into humans in order to aid Native peoples who were sick and needed their medicine.
Is it any wonder then that I spend almost everyday in a bathing suit? We even chose the place we live for its proximity to the Ocean, and our Community features a descent sized swimming pool and hot tub.
When I moved here last Fall my health had been failing for some time. 45 years of smoking and a life spent on the road had taken its toll, I had COPD and severe digestive problems that turned into Colitis.
I had also packed on more than 40 extra pounds from the lifestyle of extreme activity followed by periods of no activity while continually eating like it was my last meal. All You Can Eat Buffets were our favored dining experience while on the road.
On my 55th Birthday I decided I had just had enough and undertook addressing the issues that now threatened to end or curtail my life.
The first thing I decided to do was quit smoking, but I had already tried every cure known to man, I had been patched, pilled and hypnotized all at great expense and nothing worked.
I would invariably gain weight and then eventually started smoking again with the mental consequence that now I was Overweight and Smoking, not a good way to be living life.
I was tired of being a Social Pariah, exiled to "Smokers Island" and I never realised how this all effected me until I decided to quit for good.
I had heard of electronic cigarettes and was intrigued, they sounded like they could work for me. I waited until my Husband was out of town on a business trip, (in case my hair burst into flames, as it was wont to do when I had quit in the past), and I had a friend go with me to a Vaping store to see what it was all about.
Here was a habit I could adopt that was actually more pleasurable than smoking, without the terrible connotations that smoking analogs, (cigarettes), had. I would no longer are an outcast, I would no longer stink like an ashtray.
I was lucky, I happened on a Vapor Store owned and run by Women (Exhale Vapors) who understood my situation and helped me select the products that would assure me the best chance of success. As I left the store I left cigarettes behind for good and opened up a new life for myself at the same moment.
Because my quitting was relatively painless, it gave me time to concentrate on being healthier through diet and exercise. I began working out every other day doing water aerobics in the pool and taking daily walks with my new found Puppy.
My clothes all needed to be deep cleaned and eventually I discarded them all since there was no real way to rid them with the hint of smoke that clung to them. Also, since vaping did not cause cravings like quitting smoking had in the past, I actually lost weight and needed a new wardrobe anyway, an unexpected pleasant consequence.
As I progressed I realized that this was something I had to share with other women in my situation. How often can you tell other women something that will change their life for the better? They can get rid of a deadly habit, lose weight and not lose their mind, and open up a whole world where you no longer feel like a "Bad Person".
Let's face it, if you still smoke at our age, people treat you different. You treat yourself differently. You feel bad about yourself on some level every time you light up a cigarette, no matter how defensive you portray yourself to be.
You feel bad around your family, its awkward to excuse yourself from Family gatherings to step outside and smoke. You don't want to influence your Children and Grandchildren to become smokers themselves.
Is vaping bad for you and does it represent just another bad habit? It probably is, though one thousand times less than cigarettes. For chronic smokers such as oursleves who have never been able to shake it after 45 or more years it represents a compromise we can live with. It actaully is something we can enjoy and feel good about ourselves for doing.
At some point we can cut nicotine levels to nothing and still enjoy a good vape, or leave the habit behind altogether. I don't see that happening to myself, after all, I think I know a bit about myself after 55 years, one thing being I am helpless in the face of Nicotine, it has been in my system for 45 years. But at least I have got rid of all the other chemicals and carcinogens that were sure to kill me and cut my life short.
I'm not hurting anyone and I am enjoying being able to breath, exercise, smell and taste life again. I don't stink. My teeth are white. I have lost 25 pounds in three months.
I have made new friends who reach out to me from their lives to share their brave stories of battling a habit we picked up innocently as children that ruined so many lives and now was coming for US. That has been the best part of quitting, a sort of Sisterhood borne of women who have been there and back and lived to tell each other about it.
This has been the greatest gift of all. I thank God for you each and every day and eagerly look forward to hearing from you all. Sisters. Survivors. Saviors. Together there isn't anything we cannot do and hopefully it will involve fun, since so much about our lives has been dead serious.
Live On Ladies, Live On.
Update July 11, 2013: Check out my new Store at The Vapor Lady Lounge Store