COLUMN: Taking my own ad-'vice'

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By Shannon Brock

A very good friend of mine recently stopped smoking only to turn around and start again six months later.

“I quit for six months, so I know, if I need to, I can quit again,” she said. “I have to have a vice, Shannon.”

I love her reasoning (please, sense the sarcasm), because to me, that says, “I quit, but realized six months later, I still needed a cigarette.”

I only pester her because I love her and because I want her to be around as long as possible.

I’m still the girl who used to hide her granny’s cigarettes years ago to try to keep her from lighting up. To this day, I want to throw away the packs I see at my parents’ house — tough love — so that my dad might actually quit.

But what I really want to focus on is the last past of my friend’s statement: “I have to have a vice.”

I don’t know that we have to have vices, but I’m pretty sure all of us do.

In trying to come up with a topic for this week’s column, I stumbled upon the fact that March, though almost over, is National Caffeine Awareness Month. (Yes, it does exist. And yes, there is a website, www.caffeineawareness.org.)

I freely admit that caffeine is my vice, my frailty, my weakness. It’s probably not the only one, but it is the one of which I am most aware.

Like my friend with smoking, I’ve kicked the habit several times. The first time, I hoped to have the same result as others who sat down the pop and picked up only water — drop a few pounds and feel better in general.

Whether true or not, I convinced myself that I couldn’t tell a difference. I didn’t lose any weight, and I certainly didn’t feel better without my Mountain Dew.

There were other times in between, but I’m currently in the middle of my latest quest, only this time, I replaced one vice with an alternate version of itself.

I don’t normally celebrate Lent, but after being inspired by several friends, I decided to start slow and give up pop until Easter. And, I haven’t had what would amount to an entire carbonated beverage since making that decision.

But all of a sudden, when I had enough restraint not to reach for a Mountain Dew, I developed a taste for blended coffees. And when those proved to be too expensive, I developed a taste for sweet tea (which, I might add, I couldn’t stand the taste of before).

For a while, I was able to limit myself to one caffeinated beverage per day. And if you know me at all, that was a huge deal. But as of late, I’ve become a little loose with my limits and might squeeze in two or three. Not every day, but enough to count.

They say the first step to overcoming a problem is to admit that you have one, but I don’t necessarily agree. I’ve admitted my “addiction” to caffeine many times before.

I think the first step to tackling a problem is caring enough to put forth effort to change your ways. And up until now, I guess I just haven’t cared.

You see, I have to have a vice, readers. And, you know, I could do worse.

But I also know I could do a whole lot better, and maybe I’m starting to care enough to try.

Follow Shannon Brock at Twitter.com/ANewsSBrock.