COLUMN – Out with the old – habits

Anne DeGrace looks at how people can improve themselves for 2018

My mother used to say that she raised us kids with a cigarette in one hand and Dr. Spock in the other. Presumably that left her third hand for the baby, with maybe a fourth to keep whichever toddler was running amok in check.

My mother was awesome. Multitalented as well as multi-armed, she raised the five of us to be good people—and to be non-smokers. You could say we dodged that bullet.

Raising a passel of kids in the 40s and 50s meant that you couldn’t Google “incessant crying” at 3 a.m., so Spock’s iconic manual Baby and Child Care was my mum’s go-to resource. If not actually in one of her many hands, it was always within reach.

The ubiquitous cigarette is a little harder to explain in this day and age, now that tobacco smokers are considered pariahs in many circles and smoking has largely fallen out of fashion, at least in this country.

But during my mother’s child-rearing years, “nine out of ten doctors smoked Camels.” Such innocent days, they were. And yet my mother, when she passed away, had lost her battle with lung cancer.

Now, it’s 2018. We know that smoking is bad for us. We also know that there are a million reasons why people start, and while seductive advertising probably isn’t one of them—that photograph of a diseased lung on your package is a case in point—there is no shortage of factors that cause someone to take that first puff, and the next, and the next.

The Nelson Library aims to help folks who want to butt out, and who would like to stay that way. We’ve invited Lorriann Smith from QuitNow BC (a program of the BC Lung Association) to offer an evening of tips and resources for the tobacco-addicted on Tuesday, January 16 at 7 p.m.

If you are one of those nine Camel-smoking sawbones, and you are still with us, you, especially, are invited. So is everybody else. The evening is free, and there are no judgments. You won’t even be asked to make a commitment, even though the evening takes place during National Non-Smoking Week in Canada, and the day before “Weedless Wednesday” (not that kind of weed; it’s the annual cold-turkey day in the middle of National Non-Smoking Week). But if you want to quit, the tools and encouragement will be there.

Those of us who don’t smoke might feel a little smug during this week, but take a step back and you’ll likely see a habit or two of your own you’d like to change in this time-of-resolutions. Dietary habits—junk food, sugar, overindulgence; most of us will raise a guilty hand. Too much couch-time? Not enough physical activity? If there’s a habit you’d like to buck or a change you’d like to embrace, the library likely has a book about it.

One Hundred Questions and Answers About How to Quit Smoking by Charles Herrick, MD, offers a deeper understanding of how the addiction actually works on your brain, body, and emotions.

The DVD Lifelong Health: Achieving Optimum Well-being at Any Age just might be the pep-talk you’re looking for. Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care is still in print; so is Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People (now updated for the digital age), because unlike smoking, relationship-building never goes out of fashion.

That’s the beauty of the New Year. It’s a fresh start, in which everything is possible. I will be a better person. I will be healthier/happier/kinder/smarter. I will learn things, and though I may fail, I will try.

It’s the least we can ask of ourselves, for the brightest we can be in 2018.

Anne DeGrace is the Adult Services Coordinator at the Nelson Public Library. Check This Out runs every other week.

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