It is customary for some people to give up something during Lent.

I don’’t recall it being Lent back on March 5, 1956, but that was the day I quit smoking forever.

Back then, as a secretary, I worked among men who were free to smoke at their desks.  Women, however, were not allowed this privilege.

This was prior to the women’’s liberation movement in the 1960’s and most of us just accepted it.

I recently read a report that “tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of death and disease, even secondhand smoke.”

Reason enough to stop smoking.

That life-changing morning around 9 a.m. I left my desk to go to the ladies’ lounge to take a few quick puffs. I was preparing a monthly four-page legal-size financial statement for our parent company.  I could ill afford the time away from my desk, but the habit was strong.

As I took a few quick puffs, I thought “”this is silly,”” and put out the half-smoked cigarette and never smoked again. I gave away a half a carton of cigarettes, ashtrays and a lighter I had received as a gift. I told everyone in the office and all my close friends I was quitting.  My statement was met with derision. No one believed I could do it.

The reason I broadcast the news was, if I failed, I’’d be too embarrassed to admit it.  As time passed, I was often asked how I did it, “cold turkey.”

If you try and fail, at least those days you stick to it, it’’s good for you.

The habit was so ingrained in me that after three months when I was offered a cigarette by someone, I actually accepted it, leaned forward for a light, until a close friend grabbed it from my mouth, reminding me I had quit.

My late husband teasingly said, “”People quit one bad habit, and substitute it with another: “boasting about it.”” Not true. I only talked about it when people asked how I did it.

If you put your mind to it, you can do most anything.  Why not try it?

Even if you don’’t smoke, is there anything else you could give up in the way of self-improvement?

Worth a try. Good luck.

Just don’’t ask me to give up my email, iPad and computer.

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