Breathe in the past seven years

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life40 Comments

I quit smoking seven years ago.

Seven years.

Half of Coleman's lifetime ago.

Lucky seven.

Seven up.


I have come to love this anniversary. (Technically, it's on the 17th. I first blogged about it here, back when I was still very leery to even admit a lifetime of nicotine addiction to the general public.)

I love how the further I move away from a life of smoking, the more absurd the idea of doing it ever again becomes.

I love how after about three years, I stopped giving mean, jealous glances to people at stoplights who were in their cars, flicking their ashes out of their windows. 

Why do YOU get to keep smoking, and I don't?


I know there are people out there reading this morning who smoke and some of them have no intention of listening to me lecture about how bad it is for them. There's really nothing worse than an ex anything.

Instead, I can say this: it's one hell of a tough habit to break. 

I still remember that day back in 2006, curled up in my bed, sobbing, wondering how in God's name I was going to make it to the end of the day withough caving into the cravings.

Cheesy as this sounds, I did it. One day at a time.

I always used to say I lived my life with no regrets.

That was before I started working with a therapist. So many attitudes have shifted on this idea of regret.

And I regret being a smoker, if only for the life that I may have lost. Years I will never get back, you know?

Yes, I can breathe freely today and for that I'm grateful and proud.

I love the following line. It always reminds me, when considering addictions or things we think we've got licked or figured out, to be humble and respectful:

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

Here's to breathing. And to anyone who has a fight on their hands.


Cathy ZielskeBreathe in the past seven years

40 Comments on “Breathe in the past seven years”

  1. #2
    mary e.

    one day at a time.

    while you’re added years to your life, cathy, by kicking the habit, more importantly, you’ve added life to your years.

    definitely a milestone worth celebrating in my book!

  2. #3

    Congratulations Cathy! I quit smoking four years ago and never looked back.

    I will be around to see my kids married, meet my grandkids, run half marathons, and so many other things.

    I also found I had so much more time on my hands. So I also found new hobbies to fill the time. Loved that!!

    Here’s to everyone fighting this battle…you are strong enough to do this. One day at a time.

  3. #5

    CONGRATUATIONS!!!! So happy and PROUD of you Cathy!! Love the way you wrote this and the be kind to everyone, this is so true.

  4. #6

    Cathy, I am clapping and cheering for you right now and for your incredible accomplishment! Congratulations, you should be proud! My Mother passed away from lung cancer after an addiction that started when she was a teenager. I saw her struggle with it all my life and I know that she wanted to quit but sadly was never able to.

    Here’s to many healthy years ahead!

  5. #7

    Congratulations and be very proud of yourself! I remember my mom and I went to group hypnosis when my boys were little (20+ yrs ago). She went to quit smoking and I went to lose weight. I remember wondering the whole time if I was “under.” She’s never smoked since and I’ve still got weight issues, lol. It was still very difficult for her and I’m proud as I can be that she did it.

  6. #8

    It has been 9768 days or 26 years, 8 months, 26 days since my last cigarette. Is it sad that I know that? I’m so proud of you (and me) for being strong enough to stay smoke free. And don’t think about the years lost – think about the years gained by quitting. Love the quote.

  7. #9
    Lee Currie

    Good for you, Cathy! It really is a daily battle. Every once in a while I find myself suffering through a random craving, and it’s been close to 12 years for me! Breathe deeply my friend. Mistakes are the fertilizer for growth, right?

  8. #11

    I quit 6 years ago right when I found out that I was pregnant with my second child. I don’t miss at all anymore and I absolutely can’t stand the smell of them anymore either. Congratulations to you!!!! You go girl!!!

  9. #12

    Congratulations! Is it pathetic that I remember that I quit in November, but not the exact year anymore. It’s been about 8 years at least. It was the hardest thing that I’ve done (quitting that last time), and I haven’t even had a drag of a cigarette since then for fear that I’ll become addicted again. It is a bad habit and addiction. It’s just one part of us and our life.

  10. #13

    It has been 16 years since I quit- January 15, 1997. One of the hardest and best things I have ever done. Congrats to you, Cathy, and to all the other quitters!! SO hard to do and SO worth it!!!

  11. #16
    Susan Kopp

    I quit 6 years ago after my hubby had surgery and was forced to quit himself. I thought it mean of me to sneak into the garage for a hit off of a cigarette so 2 weeks after his surgery I quit too. I have the start of COPD and don’t really have much of an issue with day to day living that is until I want to do something strenuous and then I am sucking air. It is liveable and I am glad I stopped when I did. I tried to take a drag off of a cigarette about a year ago…..I couldn’t even completely inhale and couldn’t get the smoke out of my lungs fast enough. Not for me! Congratulations from someone to whom tobacco addiction is not a stranger and who rocked her self many times in a self hug to keep the demon away.

  12. #17
    madeline St onge

    Going to be 5 years for me in October Cathy and I miss them everyday, but will never start again
    Congratulations on the #7

  13. #18

    CONGRATULATIONS! That really is a major accomplishment.
    Love that quote. It is one that I have been trying to live by. We never know what is going on behind the scenes of what, to us may appear to be a perfect life. And we never know what private battles someone has had to fight that may cause them to think or act in a certain way. Kindness is always the best policy.

  14. #19

    OMG: That quote of T.H. Thompson sits on my desk!

    Be kind, remember everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. Be tolerant of one another. Be compassionate. Be understanding. And yet, remain firm in your convictions. They are not mutually exclusive of one another.

    AHHHH! I can’t believe you referenced it!

  15. #20

    So happy for you Cathy, we all need you to be super healthy. Who else is going to teach us about clean and simple design πŸ™‚ Congratulations!

  16. #22

    HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, Cathy, and Congratulations! I just celebrated 7 years smoke-free this past November. It was the hardest thing I’d ever done ‘just for me’ in my life, but I’m so glad I toughed it out. Doesn’t it feel great now? Here’s to many, many more 7-year anniversaries – for both of us!

  17. #23
    Kim L

    Congratulations Cathy! That is awesome. I’m rapidly approaching the one year mark myself – May 4th! Yeah!!!!

  18. #24
    Cathy Doerr

    Congratulations Cathy! I quit 13 years ago. One of the hardest things I have had to do, but so glad I did.

  19. #25

    my dad quit smoking when i was 16 (umm…. almost 17 years ago!). it was HUGE. our house changed. it showed me how strong he is, how life is valued, and more. i have given him a couple cards (5 and 10 year…) to tell him how proud i am of him.
    when i see kids smoking, i wish to warn them that it’s so hard to break habits when you get older. i’m not even old… and i’m noticing that i get stubborn about breaking bad habits. they definitely know the risk in smoking, so that is no excuse.

  20. #27

    Congrats! I am coming up on a year . . . never thought I would say that! We CAN do this! Addiction is an ugly thing!

  21. #28

    Happy and Healthy Anniversary Cathy. Congratulations on quitting. It is harder than anyone can ever imagine to quit. It took me several tries, but I also succeeded on May 12, 2002, almost 13 years ago. I so agree with Jan in thinking of the years you gained and not the time you lost.

    Be sure to celebrate your success.

  22. #33

    Congrats Cathy! My Mom was a smoker and I remember how hard it was for her to quit! It is a great accomplishment!

  23. #34

    I have “known” you for almost as long as I’ve been a Pea (13yrs!) and I am SO PROUD OF YOU. Honestly, the fact that you TRY (sometimes succeed/sometimes not = HUMAN) is gold. Pure gold.

    My ILs stopped smoking for a year after MIL’s mother passed from complications after lung cancer removal. Then they re-started and are still smoking to this day (8.5yrs later). They are the perfect example of why I never start habits that I can’t stop; because I can’t guarantee I’d be able to stop. Except for carbs and sugar. I started those. I can’t stop.

    But I digress.

    GO, YOU. πŸ™‚

  24. #35
    Ana R

    1998. That was the last time I picked up a cigarette after 23 years of smoking. The were $2.00 then. HA! So very happy to BREATHE freely and FULLY. Nothin’ like a full deep breath to remind me of what I GAINED. I also saved LOTS of money. Can’t imagine what they cost today. Whatever they cost – so not worth it. GO CATHY!!!!! Love the quote. Thanks for sharing your journey.

  25. #37

    Congratulations, Cathy! I quit 24 years ago on April Fool’s Day. There must be some reason I chose that date! It was a very difficult thing to do, but today, I am thankful that I made that decision. I would much rather be spending that $37 per carton (wow…how the price has changed!)on going to movie matinees with my husband, buying good books, or downloading new tunes. It sometimes takes awhile to get priorities straight!

  26. #38

    Congratulations, Cathy. It is hard. I never smoked but my dad did. He gave it up every year for lent. He thought it would be no big deal if he ever decided to quit for good. He decided to quit for good after watching a dear friend and colleague (active man, great tennis player) die a painful death from lung cancer much too young. He did quit for good but he said those first years were the hardest. He said at least when on a diet you get to eat. He knew he could never pick up a cigarette again. Like you, after the first years he couldn’t imagine why he’d ever started. He lived well in to his 80’s ( and did not die of lung cancer.)

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