Andrea Patten

Nov 182014



Know a smoker?

The American Cancer Society marks the Great American Smokeout on the third Thursday of November — only a few days away.

The idea is to support smokers in using this day to quit… or at least to make a plan to quit smoking.  Quitting — even for a day — is a step toward a healthier life.  Moments after that last cigarette, heart rate and blood pressure both drop.  Within hours?  Carbon monoxide levels normalize.

[Tweet “Quitting smoking – even for a day – is a step toward a healthier life.”]

Don’t tell me… When it comes to the smokers in your life you’ve begged, pleaded and tried to coerce, right?  You already know those things don’t work. Fear of failure often plays a role in smokers’ ambivalence about tackling one of the largest preventable causes of disease and premature death in this country.

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Once again, kindness and support may be the answer.

  • You might want to research local options for free counseling, patches or support… but remember to ask permission before sharing it with your loved one.
  • Should you loved one decide to quit offer to help “clear the air” (and any space) that might be triggering.  For example, if they think it would be helpful, you could collect ashtrays, lighter and matches from around the house.
  • Invite “your quitter” out to dinner or a movie — or to another enjoyable activity in a place that doesn’t allow smoking.
  • Be available.  Listen.  Acknowledge the effort ~ your loved one is doing something very, very difficult.
  • And ask.  “I’m proud of you for making this effort ~ is there anything I can  do to help you?”

[Tweet “I’m proud of you for making this effort ~ is there anything I can do to help?”]




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Nov 122014

Stubbed Out Cigarette

What is November 20th? It could be one of the most important days of your life — or the life of someone you love.  It could be the day you choose to join forces with others seeking to improve their health and stop smoking — even for just one day.

The American Cancer Society marks the Great American Smokeout on the third Thursday of November each year by encouraging smokers to use the date to make a plan to quit, or to plan in advance and quit smoking that day. By quitting — even for one day — smokers will be taking an important  and immediate step towards a healthier life.

Tobacco use is still one of the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the US, yet about  42 million Americans are still actively addicted.  That’s nearly 1 in 5 adults — almost 20% of our population.

As of 2010, there were also 13.2 million cigar smokers in the US, and 2.2 million who smoke tobacco in pipes — other dangerous and addictive forms of tobacco.

[Tweet “Isn’t 8 days long enough to make your plan?”]

And, in the face of more than $22 million spent on tobacco industry advertising every day, it probably won’t surprise you to learn that over 3000 people under the age of 18 smoke their first cigarettes.

As a former smoker I understand the frustration of wanting to quit and being afraid that I couldn’t.  It felt impossible and overwhelming…. until I learned there were immediate benefits.  Learning these made me feel a little more hopeful… and helped me to get through that first day.

[Tweet “Health improvement starts 20 minutes after the last cigarette.”]

Only 20 minutes after your last cigarette your heart rage and blood pressure drop.  And a mere twelve hours later? The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal. (from

Know a smoker?  Share the love.  Quitting is possible, worth it and they are, too. Besides, how else are we going to strengthen the power of example for young people trying not to start?


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Nov 042014

Feeling a little down?  Like your star hasn’t risen high enough?  What about your kids? How are you doing with the idea of letting them bump into brick walls?  It’s hard, isn’t it?

As difficult as watching those we love solve their own problems, I think it’s a whole lot easier to fall on our faces with a loving family standing by.  Who else is going to remind us that  failure is an experience — not a person?

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 Achievers are resilient.  While it may look like they’re immune from life’s bumps and bruises, they’re not.  Resilient people have simply learned how to bounce back.

Brick wall

Brick wall (Photo credit: Wikipedia)










[Tweet “Resilient people have simply learned how to bounce back better.”]

Remember, Randy Pausch and The Last Lecture?  In it he said, “The brick walls are there for a reason.  The brick walls are not there to keep us out.  The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something.  Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough.  They’re there to stop the other people.”

When faced with a brick wall we often get so focusing on solving a specific problem that we blind ourselves to other solutions.  A brick wall can represent an opportunity to step back and begin again, even better.

Sometimes a lateral move will be enough to get us around the obstacle — but we can’t stand and stare, nose pressed against it, obsessed with “what’s wrong” and expect to see something different, can we?

[Tweet “We can’t stand there, obsessed with ‘what’s wrong’ & expect to see something different.”]

Here are a few examples of people who learned how to bounce:

  • Creative genius Walt Disney was once fired because he “had no good ideas.”
  • Music legend Elvis Presley was banned for the Grand Ole Opry after only  a single performance.  He was reportedly told, “You aint’ goin’ nowhere, son.”
  • The work of legendary children’s author Dr. Seuss was initially rejected by 27 different publishers.  His work has sold more than 600 million copies.
  • Vera Wang tried for a spot on the Olympic ice skating team and a stint as a writer before becoming a world-renown  designer.

When you let your kids develop problem-solving skills you’re giving them bricks.  Will they use them to build walls or dreams?