Blue Hills and an Impromptu Personal Challenge

This morning in the parking lot of the Blue Hills Reservation I pulled out my phone to text a friend and ended up setting up a stopwatch after I hit send. What was originally supposed to be a relaxing morning hike turned into a personal challenge.

I’m a goal oriented person and 23 hours to the moment I started that stopwatch I had what I hoped was my last cigarette. I’ve been trying to quit off and on for the past 3 years. This is my 4th round of being on Chantix. The first time I went on Chantix was so I’d be able to stretch whatever cash I had the longest. I quit just before I left for Alpha Farm in Oregon. Seven miles away from the nearest store and car-less I kept smoke free. Until I started living on a volunteer bus where I lived with several other smokers in tight quarters. Before I knew it I was back to chain smoking.

I tried to quit on Chantix again when I went to live and work at Mack’s Apples. Turns out the best thing to do aside from eating ice cream after a long day of hard manual labor is to have a beer and a cigarette. Well, a couple beers, and many cigarettes. I quit quitting.

After a brief visit to my hometown to get my life a bit in order I left to go South earlier this year. Attempting to quit while working at a Hostel in New Orleans was a shitty idea. I stopped taking the meds again but restarted while living on the Ranch in Austin, Texas. I was doing okay until I stopped taking my pills in the middle of a Rainbow Gathering where I was drinking heavily. This was a bad idea. Chantix is known for it’s horrible side effects and drinking or stopping the pills suddenly exacerbates this. I left the gathering and was so anxiety ridden that I had to stop and spend the last of my money on a seedy motel room. It’s very rare that I see the insides of one. I intended to hook up Netflix to distract myself but the wifi didn’t reach the room and I was forced to entertain myself with the ending of the last Twilight movie instead. I was not a happy camper.

The next morning I set off to decompress in North Carolina and now I’m here in southeastern Massachusetts, again. I digress. Once back in Mass I switched tactics. I tried Nicotine Gum but surprise, I just never used it. So I switched to the pills one last time and I guess 4th, 5th times a charm. I lost count.

I started a serving position at a local restaurant so some extra physical activity is highly in order cause I’m eating like shit. Though my current schedule makes it hard to eat dinner at a decent time it does leave me a lot of time during the day so today became the day I stopped making excuses about doing things alone and got my ass over to Blue Hills. Funny how I can LITERALLY TRAVEL THE WORLD ALONE but the minute I get back to familiar territory I refuse to do anything without a friend or two. This is also something I’m working on changing.

And  back to the stopwatch. What was I writing about? I started the timer and let it run until I had hiked up the red trail, the shortest path up the hill and stopped it when I could touch the stones of the observation tower. I’ve decided to time my progress every week so that I can see physical evidence of my lungs improving and maybe inspire a couple of others in the process. This week it took me 20:25. I moved fairly quickly as my legs are strong but had to stop a couple of times to gather my breath. I hope to be able to hike up that hill without becoming short of breath in a couple of months. And then I hope to be back to exploring and climbing a mountain far away from here.

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