Quit Smoking with the WordPress Support Group

Daily Foglifter:  The average smoker takes five years and seven attempts to quit smoking.

Today is the first day of the rest of my life–as a non-smoker.  Last week, I was puttering around in the WordPress forums and came across the thread, “Who wants to quit smoking with me.”  I hovered my mouse arrow over the title, contemplating the question.  Do I want to quit?  Yes.  Do I need to quit?  YesAm I ready to quit? Yes Can I commit to quit?  Um…yeah, maybe, no, yes.  I clicked it.

It was mideavalmaiden, a blogging friend, and she was being reasonable.  We can commit to “cut back in the near future.”  It didn’t sound so bad.  It was more of a plan to plan to quit smoking.  I agreed.


The thread took on a life of its own, with dribblingpensioner, agringa, harrythehandyman, laavventura, and marcialoyd making the commitment.  Suddenly there was a contract and a badge to display on our blogs, declaring to the WORLD we were quitting the infernal cancer sticks, fags, cigs, smokes, or whatever other name there is for that blissful, stress-reducing, perfect-with-a-cup-of-coffee-or-a-long-drive-or-after-a-meal item, otherwise known as the cigarette.  And the near future was Monday, exactly one week away.  I had a mild panic attack.

Of course I had to go through with it.  I’d look like an idiot, otherwise.  Or a wimp.  I can’t have that.  So now it’s Sunday night and I’m starting to rethink the whole idea.  So what if I’m a wimp?  Sticks and stones and all of that.  So what if I can’t laugh, talk, or vacuum without hacking up a lung? I just won’t do those things.  So what i f I can’t sing along with the radio without my voice cracking?  I can’t sing worth a crap anyway so it’s better if I don’t do it at all.  So what if I end up talking through a tube in my esophagus?  That’s a wicked awesome way to freak out the kiddies.  So what if I die by drowning in my own lungs?  I can’t think of a rationalization for that one.  Death by drowning would freakin’ suck in any form.

Of course I’m going to do it.  It’s a disgusting habit that makes my breath and clothes stink and my body ill.  It’s expensive.  It’s unattractive.  And it gives me wrinkles.  It will be difficult but I know that, with a little help from my friends, I can do it.

To give you an idea how wonderful this support group is, take a look at this contract written up by the always funny and wise Harry the Handyman:

Stop smoking self help group.

A contract between member’s of wordpress.

As from Monday the 9th of May 2011 at 11.00 am, we all intend to try and stop smoking.

We will report daily to all member’s on the progress we have made and how we feel.

We will also report if we had to call the police because we nearly killed some-one.

If any other member would like to join the group you will be welcome, please send each member a £20 joining fee. ($32.98)

If we all fail to stop smoking, we will all meet and kill midaevalmaiden for starting us on this path of torture.

Any member who fail’s to stop smoking will impose a 2 week blog ban on themselve’s.

Good luck to all, see you in the clinic for nervous tension therapy.

If you’re interested in the group’s progress, wish to join, or simply offer your support, click on the “My Pledge Stop Smoking Badge” in the sidebar, courtesy of midaevalmaiden, the mastermind behind this horrible wonderful idea.

“Oscar Wilde: ‘Do you mind if I smoke?’

Sarah Bernhardt: ‘I don’t care if you burn’”



photo of miraj sitar

Image via Wikipedia

Daily Foglifter:  Listening to music assists in pain management, reduces blood pressure, soothes migraines, boosts immunity, enhances intelligence and memory, increases productivity, and promotes relaxation.  Source

A few weeks ago, I received a gift from a reader named Jeff.  After reading my Autism entry, he e-mailed me asking if he could send a relaxation CD to play for my son.  Music is an effective method of relaxation, particularly for those with Autism.  Never one to pass up free stuff, I agreed. 

I will confess that I was a little worried.  When I hear the term, “relaxation music”,  I think of sitars and chanting.  Neither of these things relax me, as I can’t relax when being creeped out.  I had a massage once with some very disturbing demonic chanting.  Completely counter-productive.  When the CD arrived, my apprehension grew when the blurb on the back of the CD case read, “the ideal tempo and rhythm for creative inspiration, massage, yoga, scenic drives, or just winding down.”  At least it didn’t mention meditation.  I don’t have anything against any of these things, I just don’t understand the particular soundtrack people use to do them.

It took a while for me to actually play it.  I usually tune the DIRECTV to my favorite music station (Channel 832, Adult Alternative) or listen to my Playlist on the computer.  I play CDs in the car and since I’m always running late, I never remembered to grab the CD off the desk.

I was feeling really guilty about not listening to it.  Jeff wasn’t pushy.  In fact, he never once contacted me and said, “Why haven’t you mentioned my CD?” or “Have you listened to it yet?”  Of course, that made me feel more guilty.  I immediately put it in my car for the next trip.  And it sat in the CD changer for a week, unheard.

Then, on a day when the kids were being particularly loud and irritable, I remembered the CD.  If it could calm down my rowdy bunch until we got home, that would be high praise indeed.  I turned it on, hoping for the best, preparing for the worst, and was pleasantly surprised.  Not a sitar, singing bowl, gong, or chanter anywhere.  Just a guitar and a piano, playing pleasant relaxing music.    It was playing for a couple of minutes before I noticed the kids had gone silent.  Seriously, not a peep.

I drove for another five minutes when the 12-year-old asked, “What is this music?”

I answered, “It’s instrumental.  It’s nice, isn’t it?”

He said, “It’s making me sleepy.” The other three kids agreed.

DING DING DING!  We have a winner!

This is now my “go-to” CD when the kids are getting rowdy.  They immediately calm down.  They may talk, but it’s in a quieter voice.  I use it sparingly, in fear they’ll acclimate to it, but it still works every time I turn it on. For them and for me.

The CD is  “Escapes” by Jeff Gold.  You can buy or download “Escapes” and more music by Jeff Gold by going to

http://jeffgold.bandcamp.com/album/escapes-music-for-relaxing or


When you enter the code “momfog” in the shopping cart you will receive a 20% discount.  A free download is included with the purchase of a CD. 

“Almost all children respond to music. Music is an open-sesame, and if you can use it carefully and appropriately, you can reach into that child’s potential for development.”  ~Dr. Clive Robbins

Nordoff-Robbins uses music therapy to help over 100 handicapped children learn and to relate and communicate with others.

Sun, Sun Go Away


Daily Foglifter: Australian researchers have found that bad moods make people less gullible, more critical and also boost memory.

Apocalypse Thunder via Dimitri c and http://stockx.chng

I woke this morning to utter darkness and a heavy thunderstorm.  It set a tone.  A tone that was furthered by some disappointing news from a friend.  The battle she has been fighting appeared to be coming to an end, but dense thunderclouds have obscured the glowing horizon, yet again.  She’s tired.  She’s sad.  Worse, she’s discouraged.    My heart breaks for her and her family.

There are days when all I can see is what’s wrong with the world.  Today is one of them.  People are dying in Japan, Libya, and in plane crashes and a so-called pastor is getting press for being a hateful, Satanic idiot and Charlie Sheen is getting a standing ovation in Chicago for being a jackass and the best candidate for “The Next Celebrity to be Found Dead in a Hotel Room Of An Apparent Drug Overdose” Award.  It’s disgusting.

The weather today has been perfect for this kind of mood.  Cold, windy, gray, with a constant mist.  It was appropriate.  But now the sun is shining and it’s cramping my style.  I’m in the mood to brood.  I spend most of my life looking on the bright side of things and it’s exhausting.  Sometimes I want to sulk, put on some maudlin music or a depressing movie and have a glorious pity party.  The sunny weather is not conducive to this.  My only consolation is the distant thunder I hear, perhaps the herald of more stormy weather.

Just for today, please sun, go away.  Tomorrow, I’ll welcome you with open arms.  By then, I’ll have gotten the gloom and doom out my system and be again my positive, find humor and good in everything, self again.   The calm after the storm.

“Be still sad heart and cease repining, behind the clouds the sun is shining; thy fate is the common fate of all; into each life some rain must fall-some days must be dark and dreary.”
—      Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Julie, Julia, and Me

Cover of "Julie & Julia"
Cover of Julie & Julia
Daily Foglifter: It takes about 21 pounds of whole milk to make 1 pound of butter.
I’m watching Julie & Julia and it is quite possibly one of my favorite movies.  Meryl Streep is absolutely fantastic as Julia Child!  I have to admit though, right now,  it’s making me very uncomfortable.  It just got to the part where Julie has a fight with her husband over her obsession with her blog.  He complains about her obsession with her readers.  He gets mad at her because she constantly refers to him as a “saint” in her blog and then yells at her not to write about their fight.  Then comes this exchange:

I mean, what’s gonna happen when you’re no longer the center of the universe?
Julie: That’s just great.  I am finally totally engaged in something.  Okay, maybe I’m being a little narcissistic.
Eric: A little? On a scale of 10?
Julie: Okay, a 9.3. But what do you think a blog is?  It’s me, me, me day after day.
Then there were words like “totally,” “self-absorbed,” and “person” used together in a sentence that is completely unrelated to me in any way.
On that note, I’m going to go do something for someone else.  If at all possible, something that is uncomfortable, inconvenient, and possibly painful.
“Is there anything better than butter? Think it over, any time you taste something that’s delicious beyond imagining and you say ‘what’s in this?’ the answer is always going to be butter. The day there is a meteorite rushing toward Earth and we have thirty days to live, I am going to spend it eating butter. Here is my final word on the subject, you can never have too much butter.”
– Julie Powell, Julie & Julie
My first “unself-absorbed” action, while being extremely low-effort on my part, is to help out a friend by asking a small favor of you.
There is a young lady who suffers from a chronic illness and does so with grace, faith, and humor.  She writes a very interesting blog called “The Abundant Life.”  She needs your vote.  If you follow the link http://forblogs.blogspot.com/ you will see a Vote for the Blog of the Month box.  It would be great if you would vote for “The Abundant Life.”  Thanks so much!
The link to the actual blog is http://theabundantlifeblog.com/

A Child’s Wish

You can learn a lot from a child’s essay…

I have a dream that everyone will be happy in this world.  Nobody would have disabilities.  Nobody would have hunger problems.  So nobody would have any problem on the planet.  My true wish would be that this planet would be happy.

This is an essay written by my son, Mikey.  It’s a lovely sentiment and I’m proud that my son is able to think enough about others to envision such a world.  A funny thing about this essay, though.  That second sentence is not one I would expect to find in an essay by a 10-year-old boy.  Hunger, yes, but disabilities?  Well, my 10-year-old is special.  He knows all about disabilities.  Mikey has autism.

Mikey was diagnosed with autism when he was three years old.  I had seen the signs–loss of acquired language, a refusal to walk barefoot on carpet, clinging to DVD cases as if his life depended on them, repetitive hand movements.  Oddly enough, the suggestion of autism didn’t come from my pediatrician, it came from a women’s magazine in an article sandwiched between health and beauty tips and 30 recipes for 30-minute dinners.  I remember reading it aloud to my mother-in-law in her car as we were driving down Highway 17 while Mikey stared out the window, laughing at nothing.  I could tell she wasn’t surprised.  She had suspected something was wrong for a while.  Moms are different.  I didn’t want to see it, even though it was painfully obvious.  If I ignored it, it might go away.  That article prompted me to make an appointment with a pediatric neurologist.

The visit was a nightmare.  I was sitting in a waiting room reading the posters on the wall boasting the creative geniuses that were most likely autistic–Vincent Van Gogh, Ludwig van Beethoven, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.  Was this list supposed to make me feel better?  A penniless, insane painter who cut off part of his own ear and died by suicide at age 37?  Two brilliant composers known for their violent mood swings or inability to function like normal people?  Beethoven was an angry, intolerant man who suffered from depression his entire life.  And Mozart was a sickly, dissolute genius who died at the age of 35.  I was not encouraged.

It got worse when the doctor came in.  The first thing she did was get right in Mikey’s face and try to make him look her in the eye.  Then she handed him this spiky toy that vibrated like crazy and when he immediately dropped it, thrust it into his hands again.  Mikey was in agony.  I told myself that she was trying to get honest reactions out of him.  When she held him tight against her and started rocking him violently back and forth, I felt the hair on the back of my neck rise.  The final straw came when she grabbed him by the ankles and hung him upside down.  He freaked and I jumped up and grabbed him and started rubbing his back with as much pressure as I could muster, as it was one of the few kinds of physical touches he could endure.  At the time, I didn’t know that this was yet another sign of his autism.  It wouldn’t be the long before I realized the “quirks” I noticed in his interactions with people all pointed to the same baffling disorder.

The doctor didn’t say anything for at least 5 minutes.  She sat scribbling away on Mikey’s chart while I tried to calm him down.  When she finally finished writing, she had the nerve to get in Mikey’s face and say, in a stern voice, “We don’t scream like that.  You have to calm down or I’m going to make you sit at the table I have in the corner over there.”  I was livid.  I didn’t care that it worked and Mikey got very quiet and very still.  All I could think of was his terrified little face while he was hanging upside down.  How dare she reprimand my son when it was her fault he was upset in the first place!  My anger didn’t last long once she started to speak.  I was too shocked.

She apologized for putting Mikey through the “examination.”  Examination, I thought.  Yeah, right.  Then she explained that normal functioning children enjoy hanging upside down and have no problem holding on to vibrating spiky balls.  It was a baby’s toy, after all, and Mikey is hardly a baby.  I conceded the point, albeit grudgingly.  The she started throwing words around like autism spectrum disorder, sensory processing disorder, echolalia, hyper/hypo-responsiveness, stimming, and idiosyncratic language. Now I was just scared.  By this time, Mikey had made his way to the little table in the corner to look at the DVD case (yet again) that he had brought with him.  I looked at him and he held it up for me to see.  I smiled.  He didn’t.

When I looked back at the doctor she was headlong into a list of tests that would have to be run on my baby.  EEG, EKG, MRI, CAT scan, Genetic testing (i.e. blood work) and a hearing test (finally one that didn’t involve hooking my baby up to wires and electrodes or poking him with a needle).  The hearing test is mandatory as a lot of symptoms of autism coincide with deafness, but we both knew Mikey could hear just fine.  I would also have to fill out a bunch of questionnaires and see speech and occupational therapists.   Because of his age, he would be getting these services in the public school system, which had a special autism class.  He was barely three, for God’s sake, and he would be going to school.   I was also told to put him on a regimen of high dosage vitamins, including fish oil.  The child already had a particular gift for vomiting if anything remotely displeasing to him got near his lips (another symptom).  The next thing I know, I have a stack of copied handouts, a list of phone numbers, a laundry list of prescriptions, and a piece of paper that said “Autism spectrum disorder” in exactly that color ink, and I’m leading Mikey out the door.

I strapped him in his car seat and handed him his DVD.  He looked out the window and smiled.  Not at me.  At nothing.  I broke down in tears.

That was almost 8 years ago.  I don’t think about that day very often because Mikey has done well.  He’s on the high-functioning end of the autism spectrum and early intervention (speech, sensory, and occupational therapy) worked wonders.  Fortunately, in the early years, all the pain and worry about the disorder rests in the hands of the parents.  Small children are more accepting of others and less aware of their own “quirks.”  Unfortunately, it can’t last.

Now, as Mikey gets older he’s beginning to understand that he’s not like everyone else.  There have been heart-breaking conversations about girls and marriage.  Exclusion from an advanced learning class, not because he wasn’t smart enough, but because he couldn’t pass the “creativity” section.  Apologies for “melting down” when he was eliminated from a spelling bee.  The pain of autism is no longer mine alone.

And now the essay.  Maybe I’m reading too much into it.  He’s smart and very observant.  Maybe he’s talking about a severely handicapped child he knows in school.  I want that to be true, but all I can think about is Nobody will have disabilities….this planet would be happy.

A child’s wish. MY child’s wish.

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away.”   ~Henry David Thoreau 1817-1862

writers' week

The Psychology of Me (According to Reliable Internet Sources)

Daily Foglifter:  The Capgras delusion is a rare disorder in which a person holds a delusional belief that an acquaintance, usually a spouse or other close family member, has been replaced by an identical looking impostor.

provided by Wikipedia

I started the day off doing a favor for a complete stranger.  I took a Brain Lateralization Test and then answered some questions about algebra.  Sounds interesting, doesn’t it?  Well, it was!  I LOVE taking tests about my brain, personality, or addictions.  As messed up as I feel, I find it comforting to know that there’s an actual name for what’s wrong with me.  It’s almost as good as finding out there’s nothing wrong with me.  So, after I completed this test and helped someone finish a research project and quite possibly graduate, I looked for more psychological tests to take.   I got some VERY interesting results.

Brain Lateralization Test (Took 2 different ones to make sure) Right Brain ( 42%, 44&)  Left Brain (54%, 56%)

“Left brainers” are orderly, articulate, and literal.  They can understand directions or anything logical or explicit.  They have trouble comprehending emotions and abstract concepts.  They doubt anything that is not stated or proven.

Orderly?  Understanding directions?  Um, not so much.

“Right brainers” are visual and intuitive.  They lack attention to detail and directness.  They communicate poorly.  They are usually artistic.

My brain is fairly balanced.  I’d like to think I have the best of both sides.  I wonder which side of the brain is responsible for egotism?

The I.Q. Test Score: 145

As a “left brainer” I’m supposed to doubt anything not proven, but I’m going with the intuitive, “right brainer” side of me and running with this one.  I. Am. A. Genius.

The Eating Disorder Test Probable

Well, crap.  If I have an eating disorder, why couldn’t it be one that makes me skinny?

Schizophrenia Screening Test

The questions on this were really freaky and I thought I should skip it.  To make sure I wasn’t being ridiculous, I consulted the garden gnome who lives under the refrigerator.  She agreed, so no results for this one.

The Big Five Personality Test Dominant: Intellect/Openness.  Weakest Category: Conscientiousness

On one hand, I’m pleased.  I’m smart (genius, remember?) and I like to try new things.  On the other, it’s not a good thing for a mother of five to be described as someone who cannot be relied upon.  Suddenly I feel like being more left brained.  What a crock.  Anyone know which side of the brain is responsible for selective reasoning?

The Self-Esteem Test Strength:  “Shoulds”  Weakness: Rigidity

Apparently, I need to morally justify every single decision I make which, in turn, has put my life in a rut because I’m afraid of failing.  Does that make me a bad person?  Should I try something new?  What if I try something and I’m not any good at it?  What if I find the thing I like to do and I’m good at, and it’s something deplorable or harmful or goes against my religious values?  Help me!  Please!

"The Thinker"

The Enneagram Test Dominant Personality:  The Thinker

“Official definition”:  The intense, intellectual type, who often excels beyond all others, but can also recluse into anonymity.  O-kay.  That’s me, I guess.  I spend all day alone and I doubt my name is known in wide circles.  I spend all day INTENSELY doing laundry and watching Spongebob Squarepants, but I definitely do it in an intellectual way (i.e. while wearing glasses.)

The Pen Name Test

In keeping with the anonymity angle, I wanted to know what pen names would be suitable if and when I write my magnum opus.  I got the following, based on genre of work:

  • Michelle Erickson Romance Novel Pseudonym
  • Michelle Randall  Sci-Fi moniker
  • E.M. Rosemont  Children’s Book Author

There was no option for melodramatic hack “women’s fiction” author.  Any suggestions?

The Aura Color Test Brown

Figures.  I knew I couldn’t possibly have a light pink or blue one.  It had to be brown.  Here are the highlights of a brown aura:  practical, male energies, emphasizing body, denying spirit, and feeling worthless.  It seems that massive intelligence combined with a compulsion to overeat and morally justify everything I do, while being very practical, is also not very confidence boosting.  Hmmm.  I am such a loser.

Internet Addiction High Normal Range

One more point and I would have fallen in the “Need to reassess how you spend your time” category.  Thank goodness I have better things to do than, say, take arbitrary and highly dubious psychological tests and share results in a blog or something.

~A wonderful discovery, psychoanalysis. Makes quite simple people feel they’re complex.

S.N. Behrman

I’m Thinking of Growing a Beard…

Yesterday started off great.  The kids got to the bus stop on time.  I had showered and actually put on real clothes by 9:00 am, instead of the usual 1:30 pm.  By 10:00, I was in my car on the way to drop off the little one with a friend for the day.  I was shampooing carpets and she would have been in the way and scared of the noise.  I was also going to have lunch with my daughter at school.  It was looking to be a great day.  A day to myself (even if it was to clean) and the weather was gorgeous.  I felt better than I had in days.

I flipped down the vanity mirror to put on some lip gloss.  And then I saw it–the most horrific, mind-blowing monstrosity I’d ever seen.  I had a 1/2-inch long BLACK hair protruding from underneath my chin.  I was growing a beard.

I screamed.  It was disgusting.  How long had it been there?  Had anyone seen it?  Would there be others?  Would I have to start shaving?  What if another one grew and it was (gulp) gray?  I grabbed it between my fingernails and yanked the sucker out of there.  Then I examined my upper lip, my chin, my neck, my nose, and my ears for any sign of another one.  There was nothing.  Yet.

I suddenly felt old and disgusting and the day wasn’t so bright and cheery anymore.  An errant hair had ruined my day.

Did I mention my birthday is coming up in two weeks?  Ay caramba.