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No Good Time To Quit

This is the story of how I quit smoking… in diary form.

Quit Day #2

Evil cigarettes will never rule my life again! No longer will I chug down the street, puffing great, white billows of foul-smelling smoke behind me. Inhaling slow death, just inviting my worst fears to become reality. It felt bad to be so wrong. Defining myself by a losing label: Stinky Smoker.

My life was a smoke-opera, trapped in the membership of addiction and denial; pretending that it’s okay to pollute the world with our smoke, our stink, our garbage—and actually paying big bucks for the privilege to eventually block our airways with chemicals specifically designed to kill us slowly—all with our permission.

Oh my god, how stupid am I? Searching for a “final” smoke — that rewarding feeling of aaaaaaahhhhhhhhh.

When compared to the noxious, evil, putrid, long-term cage of death, I hope it’s not too late for me and my loved ones. I was blinded by that smoky bliss for so long, restricted from certain people and places, but I didn’t care where I was, as long as I could smoke. I used it as a wall to shield those I loved best from getting too close to me and my smoky atmosphere. How neglectful and selfish was I to invite the killer into my home to live amongst my family?

Cigarettes sucked in my hard-earned money and pretended to help me with my work — promising me the illusion of inspiration that was really just procrastination; promising relaxation in exchange for the stress smoke was causing in my life; offering social relations with like-minded addicts; delivering pleasure in the midst of learning to hate myself for my dirty habit. Breathe in that smooth, smoky taste and lose your appetite for that which is healthy and wholesome.

Quit Day #65

I am definitely losing my mind over this, and it makes me think that getting off the drug is like going ON a drug — and a powerful one at that. I feel as if my whole life is gradually turning upside-down, and all sorts of strange things are falling out of pockets I never knew I had!!!

It’s scary, exhilarating, and sickening all at the same time. But the most important thing has been the lesson I’ve learned about the addiction I’ve been suffering from since before my birth. It’s sooooo bad, it feels like a horrible crime. I hear about all the smoking related illnesses, and I wonder how anyone can continue to let this horror rage on—this senseless, reeking death sold in neat little boxes of 20 cigarettes.

I’m appalled that I was ever a smoker, and I still can’t understand why it took the pleadings of my ten-year-old son to wake me up.

I know I have to stop beating myself up over my FORMER addiction and begin living in such a way that this crime cannot be perpetuated through another generation. It’s bad enough that we’re killing our kids with too much junk food — at least we could clean up the air for them, right?

I feel the strongest need to get the message across to those of us who are still locked within the grips of this deadly menace. I used to be a walking smoke-stack, and I will spend the rest of my life making it up to the people who’s lives I’ve polluted.

Quit Day #74

$550.38 and 19 days, 19 hours of your life saved!

Time Smoke-Free: 78 days, 2 hours, 39 seconds

Cigarettes NOT smoked: 2733

Lifetime Saved: 20 days, 21 hours

Money Saved: $580.12

What is saved and what is spent?

Ever day of life that goes by becomes a memory. There are no guarantees that any time or any money will be saved; but at least it will go somewhere else, and not to the tobacco industry. Besides, nobody knows how long they will live. Or how quickly they will die. Or how much money they are actually saving.

What would I do with 20 extra days anyway? Go on a luxurious vacation? Pig out on sweets? Smoke cigarettes and get wasted? That wasn’t even fun; it was a habit, it was madness. Yet it’s still the first thing that comes to mind.

No, I think my last 20 days should be spent surrounded by people I love; doing something productive for those who don’t have to cut their time on this earth short. I would spend those last hours speaking to every child I could find; telling them not to squander time or take the days for granted. Because even when those days are bad, they are better than the alternative.


Well, the jury’s still out on that one. But as long as I’m alive and able to create and experience and love, then I pledge to live each day to its fullest potential. I will feel each emotion deeply and try not to fear the (real and imagined) implications. I will trust that God really does have a plan for me, knowing that it’s my job to carry it out without worrying about what’s going to happen next. And I promise to hold out my hand to the next person who needs help in getting through all of these, our last days on earth. Don’t save them—spend them wisely!

Quit Day #105

No sugar tonight in my coffee, no sugar tonight in my tea

So, today is the fifth day of my sugar-abstinence plan. I have not intentionally eaten sugar or candy since Monday, and I am feeling so much better. Halloween really did a number on me this year. It’s like the Quit has turned me into this big sugar junkie; which I think may be even worse than smoking!

My teeth were hurting from all the Reese’s Cups and candy corn; the inside of my mouth was raw and blistery—which can’t be good. Besides that, I had gained 8 pounds! That’s 8 pounds, even though I run 6 to 10 miles a day and have been doing workouts at Curves. I was really starting to scare myself there. I tend to get a little obsessed when it comes to sweets.

So, I’ve relegated sugar to the same status as smokes. Can’t do ‘em. No smokes; no sugar. The sugar program has been especially challenging, because it’s constantly around me. And now my husband has begun making fudge as a business venture! It’s like the walls of my home are dripping with chocolate lately. Everywhere I turn, I see little bags of colorful candy Runts—those Runts are insidious! And I’m not going to eat them. Not even one. Because one will lead to two, and two will lead to twenty, and then it’s on to Snickers bars and M&M’s (hopefully peanut). No…. So, I don’t need nicotine, and I don’t need sugar, and I already stopped drinking alcohol.

Hmmmmmm, what do I eliminate next….. better yet, WHAT DO I ADD?

Quit Day #116

No Good Time to Smoke

If you wait for the “perfect” time to quit smoking, it will never come. NEVER. So, you have to look at it in another way: the perfect time to quit is NOW.

I had months to psych myself up for my quit, which was set for my son’s 10th birthday. When the big day came, however, I was apprehensive and full of reasons why I couldn’t do it YET. But looking into his big, brown eyes—so full of trust and hope—how could I NOT follow through on my promise?

That was 116 days ago, and I haven’t looked back. I don’t ever want to smoke again. Now the motto is:

There is NO good time to smoke!

Smoking will not alleviate my stress or make me feel better about anything. In fact, it will only make matters worse.

Like anything you’ve been doing for a long time, the habit is hard to break. But not only is it possible, it will FREE you in ways you never imagined.


It’s more than 12 years later, and I’m still smoke-free!

©️Jill Cueni-Cohen

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Every Bully Needs a Victim

5F7CFCF6-6EA6-4049-8F12-363F795BDFD4I firmly believe that bullying is the reason today’s society has fallen into a perverted pit of despair.

People are too wimpy to stand up for themselves. After eight years of placating terrorists throughout the Obama administration, an entire generation has learned how to be victimized…. and like it.

As a result, it looks like the bullies now run the world.

I used to think that placating my own bullies would somehow make them realize that they were being terribly unfair. But what they learned instead was that I could be bullied.

And when the bullying got to be too much for me to handle, I simply stopped dealing with them.

So, now that the bullies have been shut out of my life, I refuse to let anyone treat me like that again. And after all these years, I have learned to finally stand up for myself.

Every bully needs a victim.

We should all refuse to be another bully’s victim!

©️Jill Cueni-Cohen



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Black Lies Matter

President Trump is not racist, and neither are his supporters! Unfortunately, the media and certain politicians and celebrities are so desperate to make the public think otherwise that they will believe, embrace and spread made-up tales of pretend lynchings and fake attacks by MAGA hat-wearing maniacs.

“Bogus police reports cause real harm – they do harm to every legitimate victim who is need of support by police and investigators, as well as the citizens of this city,” Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson told reporters Thursday morning, after “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett sent himself threatening letters and staged a fake “lynching” on himself—complete with bleach and a rope around his neck.

“I just wish that the families of gun violence in this city got this much attention, because that’s who really deserves the amount of attention that we’ve given this particular incident,” Superintendent Johnson pointed out.

Smollett, 36, has now been charged with a felony disorderly conduct for filing a false police report.

However, the man’s intent was to further today’s false narrative that Trump supporters are dangerous racists with a propensity for violence. Doesn’t that qualify as a hate crime?

The LGBT activist now claims that the reason he staged this fake attack was because he thought it would lead to him getting paid more for his role on the TV show, but this logic seems implausible.

It’s more likely that he was attempting to help his friend, presidential hopeful Kamala Harris, to pass the Justice for Victims of Lynching Act, which “criminalizes lynching for the first time in American history,” according to Senator Harris’ website.

The motion was passed on Feb. 14th. Senator Cory Booker and Senator Tim Scott supported the legislation, because, according to Booker, “Lynching is not a relic of a painful past—it is a present and pernicious evil that we still have yet to confront.”

But Smollet’s fake “lynching” only succeeded in calling attention to the fact that such legislation is really more of a “race-baiting” technique, meant to foment hatred and division between Americans.

Let’s look at the timeline: Smollet’s fake attack was staged just two weeks prior to the bill being passed, and both Harris and Booker publicly called it a “modern-day lynching” at the time.

“The vicious attack on actor Jussie Smollett was an attempted modern-day lynching. I’m glad he’s safe. To those in Congress who don’t feel the urgency to pass our Anti-Lynching bill designating lynching as a federal hate crime– I urge you to pay attention,” Booker said on Twitter on January 29th.

Harris also tweeted, “@JussieSmollett is one of the kindest, most gentle human beings I know. I’m praying for his quick recovery.

This was an attempted modern day lynching. No one should have to fear for their life because of their sexuality or color of their skin. We must confront this hate.”

The hate these people want to confront comes from themselves.

Trump supporters love America and just want to see this great country emerge from the corrupt Swamp that has been created by the ruthless, greedy politicians who have been running this apparent “show” we call US politics.

©️Jill Cueni-Cohen

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Why does this society value animal life over humans?

There are increasing legal protections put in place for the life and well-being of animals, including endangered species… as well as dogs and cats.

The federal Born-Alive Infants Protection Act of 2002 says that when a child is born alive, including having a beating heart, he or she is a legal person and has a right to lifesaving medical care.

Unfortunately, several states have removed this protection for the most vulnerable, innocent Americans among us.

I love animals, but my respect for humanity far surpasses that love. The thought of killing babies at any point in development is abhorrent to me—an adopted child who started my life in an unplanned pregnancy—but to kill a child who just survived an abortion is unthinkable!

I’ve been told by friends and family that I will be unable to change the hearts and minds of those who see abortion as an acceptable choice—even a right—because there is value only in living people.

These people claim that the costs and hardships of bringing certain people into the world outweighs any good that might come from their existence.

They prefer to choose certain death after the choice has been made to have sex. They choose a violent end in the womb for their own child instead of accepting the challenge this new life would present.

I know so many people who were almost aborted, and not one of them is sad that their mom chose life instead. In fact, such people are often more cherished when it becomes apparent that they might have been killed for no damn good reason.

60 million Americans are missing from today’s society.

But some people would rather focus on saving turtles and protecting puppies.

Where is compassion for the baby humans? I believe that there is enough love in this world for EVERYONE. Every individual life matters.

©️Jill Cueni-Cohen

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Pretty With a Purpose

As a journalist, I’ve been offered the opportunity to do a lot of bizarre things in pursuit of a story. The scariest thing I’ve ever done was jump out of an airplane; the weirdest thing I was ever asked to do (which I declined) was to participate in a celebrity cow-milking contest; and the best was when I was took a press trip to the lovely Caribbean island of St. Lucia.

One of my most enlightening opportunities came when I was asked to participate in the judging of a mock interview for beauty pageant contestants in 2005.

Although I expected superficial answers, I thought the chance to interview beauty queens about their aspirations and beliefs would be fun, so I accepted.

Beautiful, smiling young women in evening gowns sauntered past the panel of judges, their titles proudly displayed across their chests: Miss Pennsylvania, Miss Indiana, Miss West Virginia and their Miss Teen counterparts.

The television anchorwoman on my left had a critical eye for style and confided that she had done pageants herself, while the male hairdresser to my right critiqued the way contestants wore their hair. But all I saw were gorgeous girls headed towards a bright future — even if they don’t win the Miss USA™ or Miss Teen USA™ title.

I had to really dig to find something critical to say to them about the way they looked, because to my untrained eye, they all looked amazing.

My expertise is in the words. So, I listened to them smoothly answer questions on everything from the war in Iraq to what they thought about stay-at-home moms, and I was impressed; not just with the answers they gave and the strong beliefs they held, but with the way the girls presented themselves while the judges fired loaded questions at them — poised, conversational, and competitive.

And they were human. Miss Indiana talked about her plans to become a veterinarian, and Miss West Virginia, who began her career as the youngest licensed insurance agent in West Virginia when she was 18, spoke of her belief that women can be good moms while pursuing their professional goals.

“I want people to know that I am not just another pretty face,” stated Miss Pennsylvania, Brenda Brabham of Philadelphia, who was 24 years old at the time of this interview. She added, “The two primary contributions that pageants make for today’s women are the encouragement of confidence and strength. One must be confident in themselves, both physically and mentally, in order to compete in front of a panel of judges. It takes a strong woman who truly believes in herself to continue on despite others’ perceptions of her.”

“The assumption is that these are leggy, long-haired women with no desire to do anything but be a trophy piece, and it’s nothing like that,” said Linda Andreassi, former Miss Pennsylvania USA™ 1994. “These girls are more three-dimensional than anyone would expect.”

Linda said she disapproves of child pageants, but she credits her participation in high school pageantry with having helped land her current position as the public relations director of Seneca Valley School District in Butler, PA. “Seventy people applied for that job, and being in pageants definitely gave me an edge. Because if you can stand there and take those questions being fired at you [during a pageant], you can do a job interview after college with no problem,” she explained.

“I interviewed in front of nine board members and the superintendent, and I was like bring it on. It’s easier for me to handle than the average person.”

Linda has been involved in all phases of pageantry — from judging to coordinating — and co-owns a consulting company called Pageant Management with her sister, Tina Veon. The company gives girls a competitive edge by helping them hone their skills with mock interviews like the one I participated in.

“I was very shy and introverted, and pageants bring you out of that,” says Linda, noting that it also teaches girls to be a gracious losers.

“I tell people that if you can wear a swimsuit and heels on-stage, you can do anything.”

© Jill Cueni-Cohen