How To Quit Smoking Today

No Smoking Sign

I quit smoking on January 8, 2001. I smoked for 31 years. I am going to tell you how I did it so that it might encourage or inspire you to quit too. Sometime in December of 2000 a co-worker asked me if I wanted to make a New Year’s resolution to quit smoking. I said yes, I’m ready to try to quit again.

He picked January 8th as the quit date. It was the Monday after the first of the year. I bought a box of patches. I also had two people in the office who encouraged me to quit.

On the morning of January 8th, I put a patch on my arm and went to work. My fellow quitter continued to smoke and did not make any attempt to quit. As far as I know, he still smokes. I just stuck with it. In the office, my two friends kept encouraging me and congratulating me on how well I was doing. After two months, I decided that I could stop wearing the patch.

I’m not sure how I knew that. I just thought that I was ready. I saved the last one and carried it around with me wherever I went. Just in case. I never used it and eventually stopped carrying it around.

I am so glad that I finally quit smoking.  I always thought that even if I could quit, I would always want a cigarette. That has never been true. I have no desire for a cigarette at all.

Every once in a while (once a year?) I think about it and it passes in a few seconds. I am around smokers all the time and it doesn’t bother me. I wish I had never smoked that first cigarette. You don’t need cigarettes and they don’t do anything good for you.

Smoking is just a terrible addiction and you don’t really understand that until you quit. If I can quit smoking, you can too. I smoked constantly. I never went anywhere without my cigarettes. They ruled my life.

At one time, some people thought that going “cold turkey” was better than using a nicotine substitute to quit. I just suspected that or sensed that from some people. They thought that you were somehow a better person if you quit “cold turkey” and less of a person if you used a substitute. That’s a bunch of nonsense anyway. It is perfectly acceptable to get help to break your addiction. Six months after you quit, it won’t matter anyway.

I started smoking in 1969 when I was 16 years old in high school. I had very bad acne in my teenage years and thought that if I smoked I would eat less candy. That was pretty stupid logic, but I was a teenager. I didn’t inhale the smoke when I first started, but eventually someone taught me how. I still remember where I was when I learned that. Also, when I first started inhaling, I got dizzy from the smoke. I guess I thought that was a good thing at the time. My school actually had a smoking area in the parking lot where you could go and smoke. I remember being dizzy for the beginning of my first class after lunch.

My first attempt at quitting came when I was in my twenties. My father always encouraged me to quit. He read about a Dr. Funk in Philadelphia who had been to China and brought back a form of acupuncture to help people quit smoking. A group of us, including my father who didn’t smoke cigarettes, went to the hospital in Philadelphia. We listened to a short lecture and then had a surgical clip placed on our ear. It lightly pinched for a second while going on, but all in all it was relatively painless. For me, it was quite amazing. Wearing that clip just killed my desire for a cigarette. I did not want to smoke anymore.

I wish I could have left it on forever, but I went back to the hospital to have it taken off after a week. That was the prescribed amount of time to wear it. Supposedly, the nicotine addiction was broken after a week and the device was no longer useful. The first time I ended up quitting for a couple of weeks. This stop smoking technique was soon offered at other hospitals. I tried this method two more times over the years. It was always a good way to kick start a quitting program. I knew that I wouldn’t want a cigarette for the week that it was in my ear. The rest was up to me.

I tried cold turkey a few times too. Merriam-Webster defines “cold turkey” as the abrupt complete cessation of the use of an addictive drug. Once I quit for three months and I thought I had my smoking addiction beat. I really felt bad smoking again after quitting for three months.

I chewed Nicorette gum for a while too at some point. I don’t remember how long I was on that. It was probably at least a month.

When I finally quit for good using the patch, I also took Wellbutrin for the first week. I talked to my doctor and he wrote me a prescription. I was a little crazy on Wellbutrin and stopped taking it after a week. It made me paranoid and I would occasionally shout things out for no apparent reason. That wasn’t good and I stopped taking it.

I was a little angry at the fact that I had to pay so much for the patches. I figured that I had paid so much in cigarette taxes over the years that the patches should be subsidized by the government or the tobacco companies. No such luck. The Marlboro Man wasn’t going to help me quit. I’m glad I invested in the patches though. I have saved a lot of money over the past eight years. At $4.00 per pack, 365 days a year times 8 years, I saved $11,680. I smoked more than a pack a day though usually, so I saved even more.

Some friends of mine have used Chantix to quit recently. I have never used it, but they recommend it. It’s worth looking into.

A recent story in the New York Times says that most people attempt to quit 8 to 10 times before they are successful and that 21% of the U.S. population still smokes. That is way too many. If you have tried to quit before and failed, it is worth it to try again.  Do it today. Right now. You don’t want to be the last smoker in America do you?

Decide which nicotine replacement method you want to try and get a supply of them. Find a friend or co-worker and ask them to support you. Throw those cigarettes in the garbage where they belong. Let’s put the cigarette makers out of business due to lack of interest in their evil product.

I didn’t know that my last attempt to quit was going to be successful. I just knew that I wanted to quit because it was so bad for my health. Keep trying. You can do it.

Christmas Memories

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree 2008The Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center this year (2008) is from my hometown of Hamilton, New Jersey.  My father was a friend of Bill Varanyak, whose family donated the tree, and I know Bill too. My son works right down the street from where the tree stood for 77 years. I must have driven past this tree a few thousand times. You can read a story about the tree and the Varanyak family here in a Daily News article.

The photo of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree above was taken by my friend Jody Marchin. Double-click on the photo for a larger view.

The Times of Trenton has a nice article too, but it no longer has a picture of the tree. When the tree is taken down after Christmas, it will be used to help build a Habitat for Humanity home. Scientific American has a nice story about that and a picture of the tree lit up by its 30,000 LED lights.

I’m listening to a John Denver CD, “Christmas in Concert” to get me in the Christmas spirit. It was originally recorded live at the D.A.R (Daughters of the American Revolution) Constitution Hall in Washington, DC on December 19th and 20th, 1996. I listen to it every Christmas. The World Children’s Choir sings with John on some of the selections including “Jingle Bells” and “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer.” The National Symphony Orchestra accompanies John on this CD too. “Please, Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas)” and the story of “Alfie, The Christmas Tree” are two other interesting tracks. John talks with the choir and the audience and tells a few stories during the concert. It is a great live album. Does anyone besides me still say “album?” The CD that I bought years ago contains a booklet written by Joseph F. Laredo that gives some background on the concert and each song that is played. Add this CD to your collection of Christmas music.

My favorite song on the CD and one of my favorite Christmas songs, period, is “A Baby Just Like You.” The song was inspired by comments that Frank Sinatra made to John after Frank became a grandfather. It was written about John’s son Zachary. I have always loved this song.

A Baby Just Like You by John Denver and Joe Henry

The season is upon us now
A time for gifts and giving
And as the year draws to its close
I think about my living

The Christmas time when I was young
The magic and the wonder
But colors dull and candles dim
And dark my standing under

Oh little angel , shining light
You’ve set my soul to dreaming
You’ve given back my joy in life
And filled me with new meaning

A saviour King was born that day
A baby just like you
And as the Magi came with gifts
I come with my gift too

That peace on earth fills up your time
And brotherhood surrounds you
That you may know the warmth of love
And wrap it all around you

It’s just a wish, a dream I’m told
From days when I was young
Merry Christmas little Zachary, Merry Christmas everyone
Merry Christmas little Zachary, Merry Christmas everyone

Taking the Train to Philadelphia

When I was in elementary school, my grandmother and grandfather used to take me, my brother and my cousin on the train to Wanamaker’s department store in Philadelphia. My grandfather would pick us up at school and take us to the Pennsylvania Railroad station in Trenton, New Jersey. My grandmother worked for the railroad and sold tickets at the station. As soon as she finished work, we would hop on the train. I have always loved riding on trains, perhaps because of this Christmas tradition.

We would go to the Wanamaker store as soon as we arrived in Philadelphia. It was always beautifully decorated for Christmas. My grandmother would go Christmas shopping and my grandfather would take us to the toy department. We were told that if we ever got lost, to come back to the giant eagle near the entrance to the store.

There was a monorail train, called the Rocket Express, that ran around the ceiling in Wanamakers and if you were a little kid, you could ride in it. That was always a lot of fun. The monorail is now at the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia.  When my grandmother was done shopping, we would go out to eat at a nice restaurant in Philadelphia and then take the train home again. My sisters and girl cousins would have their own trip to Philadelphia on another day.

Grandma Dunham’s Gift Package

One Christmas, I couldn’t think of what to give my grandmother who was 80 years old or so at the time. I decided to get her a bunch of different “treats” that she wouldn’t normally buy for herself. I basically went to the supermarket and created my own gift basket for her. There was candy, fruit, crackers, a jar of jelly, nuts, etc. I packed it all in an ordinary box with tissue paper and wrapped it up. We always opened our presents on Christmas Eve at my parents house. When my grandmother opened her present, she was delighted. She acted like an eight year old getting a new favorite toy. She was almost as giddy as Scrooge on Christmas morning after the three spirits had visited. Just seeing the happy look on her face was priceless. She told me that when she was a small child growing up in Stoke-On-Trent in England, she would get a single apple or piece of fruit for Christmas. That was it. I continued to give her a box of treats every Christmas as long as she lived. She always loved what I got her.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to All

Tell People What you Want

It’s all over the news. A lot of people are being laid off and losing their jobs. But there are still plenty of people working and it won’t do any good to focus on the negative stories anyway. Tim Allen’s character in the movie Galaxy Quest is always saying, “Never give up. Never surrender.” I like that motto.

Clint Eastwood’s character in the movie Heartbreak Ridge said, “Improvise and overcome.” He was leading a Marine Corps recon unit. It seemed to work for them and they were being shot at. Bing Crosby used to sing, “You’ve got to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative.” It can’t hurt.

I know what it is like to not have the money to pay the rent or mortgage. I know that it is not always easy, but you might be surprised how quickly people want to help you if you just ask. Some problems are more difficult than others. But it never hurts to ask. If you are looking for a job, tell everyone you know. Everyone, at one time or another, has been job hunting. I should also add here, email everyone you know. Ask them to tell their friends you are looking for a job. Be as specific as you can about what you are looking for.

Being as specific as you can with your description is best, but having a couple of alternatives won’t hurt either. If you know what you want, you can target companies that have those kinds of jobs. You might even know what company you want to work for. If so, you can ask people you know if they know anyone who works there. You should also ask them to ask their friends if they know anyone who works there.

I attended a class at Mercer County Community College many years ago. I met a man in the class and we started talking. He asked me what I did for a living and I told him I was looking for a job. He worked for Merrill Lynch and they had a huge office complex nearby. I gave him my phone number and he said someone would call me soon.

Within the next couple of days a woman called me. She was very nice and asked me what kind of job I was looking for. I didn’t know and I couldn’t tell her. “Anything” is what I answered. That was the wrong answer. She had no idea what to do with me after I said that and the conversation ended.  I should have had some idea of what kind of job I wanted and I could have gotten an interview. Be ready to answer that question and tell the person what you want.

A lot of people don’t know what they want, so they end up with what they get.

In one of my top ten favorite movies, “As Good As It Gets”, Greg Kinnear tells Jack Nicholson how lucky he is because he knows what he wants. Nicholson wants Helen Hunt and is miserable because she won’t talk to him. Kinnear inspires Nicholson to go over to her house right away and tell her how he feels.

A few years ago I attended a Christmas party at the home of a friend of mine. I was standing around in the living room with some food and a drink. I introduced myself to another man who was in the room. He recognized my last name and asked me if I had a brother named Howard. I said yes, I did. He said that he used to work with him and he asked me how my brother was doing. For a minute, I thought of saying he’s fine and letting it go at that. The truth though was that he was looking for a job.

I decided to go for the truth. I told him that my brother was looking for a job. He immediately gave me his business card and phone number and said to have my brother call him. He thought that he could get my brother a job where he worked in the solar energy business. My brother ended up contacting him and was working again in just a few weeks. He stayed at that job for five years or so. If I hadn’t said something, he  would not have found his way to that job.

My wife Mary Lynn and I used to go to a bar called Ernie’s when we lived in Hamilton Square, New Jersey. We liked to go there on Friday nights for a few hours. There was one gentleman who I used to see there a lot and speak to fairly frequently. I knew him for about six months when I overheard a conversation he was having with someone else. He said that he was looking for a job and had been for quite some time. I waited for a pause in the conversation and interrupted. I asked him what type of job he was looking for.

I told him that the company I worked for was always looking for new people to install and repair phone lines. This was back in the day when everyone was getting a second phone line for their modem. He said that he would be interested in that. The next day, I contacted the human resources department. I knew everyone in the department and they liked me. They were always going through resumes and trying to recruit people. They WANTED recommendations from employees. My friend got the job and I think he enjoyed it for at least a few years. The point is though, that I knew him for six months and only found out that he was looking for a job when I overheard a conversation. If he had been sitting on the other side of the bar, he might still be out of work! My hearing isn’t that good.

I was walking down the street a number of years ago, unemployed and wondering what exactly I was going to do next. I was less than one half mile from my house. I happened to notice a man installing cable TV service while I was walking past a house. I walked over to him, introduced myself, and started asking him about the cable TV business. He was very happy to answer my questions and said if I was interested, he would give me a call the next day. I said yes. Go ahead and give me a call. The next day, he called me and arranged to pick me up and take me with him while he worked. I learned enough to know that I would like to try it. He was a sub-contractor and I went to work as his helper for a few weeks.

I still remember climbing my first telephone pole with Bernie. He was laughing his head off because I would not let go of the ladder and cable strand to work with both hands. It was in the middle of a snow storm too, on South Broad Street in Groveville, New Jersey. You just can’t work on a pole like that using only one hand. Bernie was an excellent teacher who had infinite patience with me. I’m really not that mechanical. Ask my brother. I eventually let go, finished the job, and survived. I eventually went on to get my own truck and equipment and work alone. I only stayed in the cable TV business for a year, but the point is that I asked questions and let Bernie know that I was looking for a job.

After I graduated from high school, I sat on the couch for a month watching TV. One day my mother asked me if I was going to look for a job. So, the next day I went looking for a job. I wanted to work for the local electric and gas company and be a serviceman that repairs appliances. I am not sure why I picked that. While I was in high school I wanted to pitch for the Oakland Athletics. I gave up on that too soon and switched to the repairman scenario. I think it seemed like a good steady job at the time.

I took the bus into town and went into the Public Service Electric & Gas Co. office. I filled out an application and took a test a few days later. The only problem was that I was at the commercial office, not one of the electric or gas offices. They didn’t have any repairman jobs. I started out as a building attendant and became a meter reader after that. I didn’t ask the right questions when I first applied. I suppose I could have left as soon as I discovered I was in the wrong place, but I didn’t. I was young.

In ninth grade I didn’t dance at the school dances because I was too afraid to ask any of the girls to dance. I didn’t really know how to dance anyway or at least I didn’t think I knew how to dance. I never really tried so how could I know for sure? If I had tried, I bet I could have danced well enough to get by. Most of the boys, myself included, leaned against the bleachers and acted like we didn’t really want to dance. We did.

Do you want to dance? Go out there and ask someone.

The New York Times Obituary Page

I enjoy reading the obituaries in the New York Times. I check them almost every day. It is amazing to me some of the interesting things people have done and the lives they have lived. Reading the New York Times obits is like taking a history lesson. Some of the people I have heard of and some I have not.  The stories below are from recent obituaries in the Times. Go to the New York Times website for the complete obituary.

Dennis Yost, lead singer for a group called the Classics IV died December 7th. I didn’t recognize the name, maybe you don’t either, but I bet that if I told you he sang the song “Spooky” in the late 1960’s and early ’70’s, the tune would pop into your head. He also sang “Stormy” and “Traces of Love.” I remember parts of all three songs.

Elmer Valentine died December 3rd. In 1964 he started a famous rock and roll club called Whiskey a Go Go in West Hollywood. I have heard of the club, but not of him. All kinds of famous groups from the sixties played there. The “go-go girl” in a cage suspended from the ceiling was started at his club, by accident. One of his grade school teachers said that he would go to the electric chair someday. That fits right in with my previous post “Can Kindergarten Scar You For Life.” Jim Morrison and The Doors were the house band for a while. Interestingly enough, the next obit in the Times is for Jim Morrison’s father.

George S. Morrison died on November 17th. He was a Navy Admiral and the father of Jim Morrison of The Doors.  He commanded United States naval forces during the GuIf of Tonkin incident off the coast of Vietnam. This event led to Congress giving President Lyndon Baines Johnson the power to escalate the war without actually asking for a declaration of war from Congress. I think it is interesting that both father and son are mentioned on the same day on the same obituary page. Jim Morrison died in 1971.

Henry Molaison died on December 4th.  He had a brain operaton in 1953 when he was 28 to correct a seizure disorder. After the operation, he was no longer able to form new memories. Every time he did something it seemed like he was doing it for the first time. He could only remember something for about 20 seconds. Doctors and scientists who studied him paved the way for later studies of memory disorders. His brain was preserved for future study.

Nina Foch died on December 5th. She was an actress who played the pharoah’s daughter in the 1956 movie, “The Ten Commandments.” She was also in Spartucus, Scaramouche, An American in Paris and many other movies. At one time, she was married to James Lipton of “Inside The Actors Studio” on Bravo.

Beverly Garland died December 5th. She played Fred McMurray’s second wife on “My Three Sons.” That was a show my family always watched when I was growing up in the 1960’s. She also played Bing Crosby’s wife on “The Bing Crosby Show.”

Sunny von Bulow died on December 6th. She was in a coma for almost 28 years. Her second husband, Claus von Bulow, was tried and convicted and then tried again and acquitted of her murder. Her first husband, Prince von Auersperg, whom she divorced, was in a car accident in 1983. The crash put him in a coma until he died in 1992. That is an interesting coincidence.

Forrest Ackerman, who is known as the “biggest fan” of science fiction and horror stories, died on December 4th. He thought of the term “sci-fi” while driving in his car and a radio announcer said “hi-fi.”  At one time his science fiction collection had 40,000 books. Robert Englund, who played Freddy Krueger, called him the Hugh Hefner of horror.

Dorothy Sterling died December 1st. In 1954 she wrote the childrens book “Freedom Train” about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad. She used the New York Public Library to research “Freedom Train” and other books she wrote about black history.

Paul Benedict died December 1st. He played Harry Bentley on the television show The Jeffersons.

Dorothea Rabkin died on November 25th. She collected American folk art, including whirlygigs, figural sculptures, quilts, baskets and dolls. She collected them with her husband by searching flea markets and secondhand stores. “Uncle Sam Riding a Bicycle” is one of their most famous whirlygigs. Some of their collection is exhibited at the American Folk Art Museum in New York City.

Odetta died December 2. She was a well known folk music artist who sang blues and ballads that influenced Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and others. In 1963 she marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and sang for President John F. Kennedy.

Oliver Selfridge died recently in Boston. He graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology when he was only 19 years old. He was well known in the field of artificial intelligence in computers.

Bill Drake died recently in Los Angeles. He transformed radio programming in the 1960’s by changing the way “disc jockeys” worked. He created a format that played more records, had less commercials and had “Boss Jock” DJ’s that talked less.

Doris Dungey died recently in Columbus, Ohio. She blogged about the collapse of the mortgage industry under the name Tanta. The blog was called “Calculated Risk” and was started in 2005 by Bill McBride. He thought that the housing market was peaking and he posted information about that. Tanta commented on the blog and corrected some of his work. Eventually, she was made a partner in the blog.

Richard Fortman died recently in Springfield, Illinois. He was an international authority on the game of Checkers. At one time, he was one of the top players in the world. He could play 100 games at a time.

Cecil Underwood died recently in Charleston, West Virginia. He was a high school teacher who was the youngest Governor of West Virginia and the oldest. He was elected in 1956 and 1996.

William Gibson died recently in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. He was a playwright who wrote “The Miracle Worker.” It is the story of Helen Keller and her teacher Anne Sullivan. The 1962 film starred Patty Duke as Helen Keller and Anne Bancroft as Anne Sullivan.

Betty James died recently in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She came up with the name “Slinky” for the toy that her husband invented. When her husband left for Bolivia in 1960, Betty took over the company and ran it for many years. Over 300 million Slinkys have been sold. It is the official state toy of Pennsylvania.

There you have it. These are a few of the obits appearing in the New York Times recently. Of course, not everyone gets to have their obituary in the Times. I know I haven’t done anything yet to make the Times when I kick the bucket. What about you?

I would love to hear your comments about this post.

Can Kindergarten Scar You For Life?

Hamilton Square SchoolCan one stupid incident in kindergarten scar you for life? Can it hold you back from doing certain things for years, until you are finally able to overcome your fear? Yes. It can.

I still remember being in kindergarten at Hamilton Square School. It was 1958. Fifty years ago. I can still see the teacher in front of the class. I will call her Mrs. L. instead of using her real name. I was sitting far to her right in the first row. She asked the class a question and I was eager to answer. I stood up, waved my arm wildly in the air so that she would see me and yelled, “Hey Mrs. L., hey Mrs. L.” She turned and looked at me and admonished me for saying “hey.” I can’t recall exactly what she said, but the whole class laughed at me and I sat down embarrassed and dejected.

It took me 23 years to get over that. I don’t think that she meant to “scar me for life”, but I’m also sure she didn’t realize how much she hurt me either. Whenever I think back to how I became afraid to speak in front of a group, this is where it leads me.

Except for the antics of one young boy who didn’t want to leave his mother at the beginning of the year, this incident is all I remember from my first year of school. In fourth grade my class put on a play about Christopher Columbus. My best friend played Columbus and I was in charge of pulling the curtain. I did not want to be on the stage facing an audience and having to recite lines.

In fifth grade one day, my teacher asked me to go to the front of the class. He then began grilling me with questions about what I was going to do on my summer vacation. That was just torture to be in front of the class like that. I was enormously relieved to be able to sit down again.

I don’t recall every incident in middle school and high school where I had to give a report in front of the class, but I do know that I dreaded every single one. Dreaded. I would worry about it constantly from the time the assignment was given, until it was over and somehow I survived. I was involved in all of the class plays, but behind the scenes working the lights. I knew the actors on stage and I admired them and respected them just for getting up there. I dropped out of a college Sociology course after the first class, when I learned I was going to have to give a presentation to pass the course.

It’s interesting to me, writing about this, and remembering that I played organized baseball from the time I was 9 until I was 18. I pitched in Little League, Babe Ruth League and Senior Babe Ruth. When you are the pitcher, everyone is watching you and you are the center of attention. That never bothered me. In fact, I liked it. I was very confident when I was pitching, even when I wasn’t pitching well. I just never connected pitching with speaking in front of a class or being on stage in a class play.

In 1980 I participated in a three day workshop in New York City called RelationShop. I have already written about some of that in a previous story, “Thanks For Having The Courage To Be Here.” In the workshop there are two co-leaders and several assistants who help them. They run microphones, hand out name tags, keep the room clean and make sure the chairs are lined up straight. I volunteered to assist at several workshops.

At the end of the workshop, the assistants are invited onto the stage to be recognized. Now, you don’t have to give a speech. You don’t even have to say anything, I don’t think. You could probably just smile and wave if you wanted. Of course, on the last night, just before this is supposed to happen, I am freaking out. I did not want to have to go onto that stage. No way. Fortunately, some of the other assistants supported me. I explained the situation and how panicked I was to Carla. She supported me by holding my hand and walking onto the stage with me as the other assistants followed. Carla was a Montessori school teacher at the time. I might have even been first in the line on stage.

Larry, one of the co-leaders of the workshop, was standing a few feet away. I remember starting out by saying something about how terrified I was just to be in front of so many people. I think there might have been 70 people in the room. I can’t remember exactly what I said, but I ended up talking for 20 minutes!   Someone said it was the longest “thank you” speech that anyone in RelationShop had ever given. I remember that the audience was very supportive of me too. Once I admitted that I was scared to death, I just kept going. I got a big round of applause from everyone at the end. It was a really big deal for me. At the end of 20 minutes, I wasn’t afraid anymore.

I think that was the day I finally graduated from kindergarten. I was 28 years old. A week later, I went to a Retrospective for the workshop in New York City. It’s an opportunity for graduates of the workshop to get back together and introduce their friends and family to RelationShop. One of the participants who heard me give my 20 minute talk, asked me if I would come to Rockefeller University, where he worked, to give a talk about the workshop. It took me a minute or two, but I said yes. I went there a few weeks later and spoke for quite a while to a group of approximately 100 people about the workshop. I didn’t have any fear or anxiety. It was quite amazing to me that I could do that.

In the years since, I have been able to speak up at meetings and events with out any fear. It is truly one less thing to worry about. I’ve read that fear of public speaking is the number one fear that some people have. Jerry Seinfeld even made a joke that some people would rather be the dead body in the casket than give the eulogy at a funeral. I don’t know about that.

If it is such a big fear, why don’t schools try and identify kids who have it and help them? The younger the better. I would have been a much better student if I wasn’t glossophobic all through school. I don’t recall ever hearing the word glossopobia until recently. The name comes from Greek, glossa, meaning tongue and phobos, meaning fear or dread. There is even a website called, “” where you can read more about it.

I went to my first Toastmasters meeting recently. Steve Pavlina has written some stories about Toastmasters on his blog. Those articles got me interested. Then, a few months ago, I found out through a story in the newspaper, that a good friend of mine belonged to a local Toastmasters group. For some reason he never mentioned it. That is kind of ironic when you think about it.

Toastmasters International helps people become more competent and comfortable in front of an audience. I really enjoyed my first meeting. It lasted about two hours. Everyone was very nice and I really felt comfortable. I will be going back next week to give my “Ice Breaker” speech.

I would love to hear your comments about this topic and about this post.

The building in the picture at the top of this post is where I went to kindergarten. It was called Hamilton Square school at the time. It has been the Board of Education building for at least 25 years, maybe more. It’s hard to see in the picture, but over the doorway it says, “Knowledge Comes, But Wisdom Lingers.” There are also four icons below the saying. They are an open book, a candle in a candle holder, a lamp that looks like if you rubbed it a genie would come out and a globe. My kindergarten class picture was taken in front of these doors. I still have the picture.

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