I made the life-saving choice to quit, but man I could use a smoke break

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Photo: Evgeniy Kleymenov/EyeEm/Getty Images

It’s been 10 years since I quit smoking. I didn’t stop because I wanted to, but because my fiancé quit smoking and asked for my support in the form of solidarity. I agreed to quit but after finishing my last cigarette, I couldn’t sleep. Desperate for a hit of nicotine, I took a walk around the block. I saw a half-smoked cigarette on the sidewalk, picked it up, brought it home, snipped off the tip of the filter and took two long drags. That was the end of 15 years of nicotine dependence.

Though I no longer call myself a bona fide smoker, I won’t call myself a nonsmoker either. I still smoke occasionally — on my first night on vacation in a new destination, or in social situations that make me feel insecure, for example — but I’m not really a smoker because I don’t get a kick from it like I used to. I don’t crave nicotine, and I no longer go to bed hating myself for finishing two packs when I told myself I’d only have one. Now, even on days when I’ve given myself a smoking hall pass, I never light more than three sticks in any given 24-hour period. I don’t get excited the way I used to when I would anticipate my first cigarette of the day, and I usually feel icky by the time I’ve smoked a third of a stick. I’m now a social smoker — that person that real smokers look at as an interloper, and nonsmokers judge as wimpy. …

This Is Us

Society is on pause, but my compulsion to keep hustling won’t quit

A woman in white jeans and a yellow sweater sitting on the bed in a yoga pose in front of a laptop and a cup of coffee.
A woman in white jeans and a yellow sweater sitting on the bed in a yoga pose in front of a laptop and a cup of coffee.
Fiordaliso/Getty Images

I’m thinking of paying three grand for an online hypnotherapist training course. “Sucker!” My husband says. But he doesn’t get it. See, I believe in the power of “visualization with intent.”

Once I complete the course, I will get a diploma that will allow me to become a professional hypnotherapist. I will become the best hypnotherapist in all the land. I will make a decent living — maybe even become rich — helping people by telling them, “Your eyelids are getting heavy. You are getting sleepier and sleepier. …

Can bloggers write for an audience and still be authentic?

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Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

After reading a post on my travel blog, a friend remarked, “Your writing is so formal, very proper, very business-like”. I wasn’t sure if this was a compliment or a jab — I was leaning towards jab — but I knew what she meant and I had to agree with her.

I am a professional writer, so when I write, I feel like I’m performing for a large, intelligent and serious-minded audience who will be flashing score cards to let me know how well I’ve done. “Keep them entertained” is my topmost priority. …

Belligerence has long been my M.O. for dealing with the fact that way too many things in life are beyond my control. But I’m starting to realise that being a badass might not be working for me anymore.

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Photo by Matheus Ferrero on Unsplash

Browsing through old family albums, I came across photos of myself as a seven-year-old. In most of them I am scowling. I have my hand on my hip and I’m staring intently at the camera with fierce brows, the top left corner of my lip raised in what looks like the beginning of a hoodlum’s snarl. If a kid with that face came up to me today, I’d probably kick it. …

Learn how to hold your reader’s attention for a long time

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Photo by Jelleke Vanooteghem on Unsplash

Content is everywhere. An infinite amount of text on screens and pages fight for our attention. That’s why good sentences are more important now than ever. A good sentence is the reason a reader will give their attention to one piece of writing over another. Once the reader’s attention has been harnessed, the good sentence then becomes the lubricant that moves them along to the next good sentence, then on to the next, until the reader reaches the story’s satisfactory conclusion.

I’ve been writing professionally for more than two decades and have had thousands of articles published, but every new assignment continues to present me with the same challenge — how to deliver ideas (sometimes incredibly boring ideas, sometimes flimsy, legless ideas, and sometimes a dense and messy jumble of facts hoping to become ideas) to intelligent readers in the most captivating way possible. …

Your inner child can be your best ally.

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Last Sunday, over brunch with friends, the discussion turned to the pros and cons of psychoanalysis and therapy, and the topic of the inner child came up. A few people in the party mocked the idea, and one proclaimed that the inner child was “something immature people use as an excuse to not grow up”. As I walked home after the meal, I found myself wondering about the inner child’s bad rep, and why the term, when it is used, is so often used facetiously or negatively.

As self-help jargon becomes a part of our everyday language, the term “inner child” has evolved to represent some sort of mischievous but victimized, psychic imp. As a concept it’s been parodied in Hollywood films such as “Big” and “Drop Dead Fred”, and by characters such as Dr. Evil’s Mini-Me in “Austin Powers”. For many people, the inner child is pseudo-scientific myth. Or worse, hocus-pocus, something best kept in the same box as imaginary friends, fairies, mermaids, unicorns and Santa Claus. Something to pull out to “get-on-the-level” with real kids when you’re in their company perhaps, but otherwise a bit of a self-help joke. …

I’m committed to writing, creatively, but I’ve had to be honest with myself about what this means.

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Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash

I’m a freelance journalist and copywriter who also writes short fiction and creative nonfiction, but today, I feel like I really suck at writing. Yeah, I used “really”, and anyone who’s serious about writing knows that intensifiers are confirmation that you suck. Today, I’m thinking, Why the f*ck am I even writing? What’s the point of it?

A week ago, I thought I was doing pretty ok. (Yes, another intensifier, at this point, I don’t give a hoot). An article I wrote on Medium got 6.6K views and earned me $252.8. I completed a short story, and was particularly proud of the ending, which took a few months to work itself out. Two long-form features I had written were published in well-circulated glossies. I wrote brand content for a small jewelry company and felt like I had spun straw into gold. …

Redirect your hyperactive libido towards creating a more successful and fulfilling life.

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Image by Jonny Lindner from Pixabay

If you’ve ever regretfully cheated on your partner, or if you’ve been accused of inappropriate behaviour, or worse, sexual harassment at work, or if you waste more time than you’d like surfing porn, then your sex drive could be doing you more harm than good. Your need for kicks feels out of control. You’ve attended Sex Addicts Anonymous meetings. You’ve tried reigning in your lustiness, but to no avail. If you deny yourself erotic rewards, you become angry, irritable, and discontent. You turn into a werewolf and you feel like you might explode. You’ve become aware of this, and have come to terms with the fact that your concupiscence is part of who you are. But what will you do with all that pent up frustration and restlessness? The good news is that your bane can also be your blessing. …

If you want to open the floodgate of creativity, loosen up, and be a little less industrious.

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Photo by Ana Lisa from Pexels

I’m a freelance journalist and copywriter whose job is to sift through information, then package and present fact-based copy in ways that best suit my clients’ intended purposes. My biggest kicks, however, I get from writing short stories, dreaming up worlds and characters, and imagining how they feel, and what they’ll do and say next.

I had a collection of short fiction and had three stories published between 2007 and 2010, but from 2011 to 2013, I found myself paralyzed by writer’s block. At this time, I was producing at least four paid magazine features per week and working on one or two copywriting projects per month, which I always completed and delivered like clockwork. …

My mind told me I was hallucinating, but my instincts told me I’d glimpsed the other side

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Photo: Agnieszka Adamowska/EyeEm/Getty Images

Is there life after death?

It’s a question that’s been on our minds for thousands of years. My husband comes down on the side of skepticism — he believes that our consciousness ends as soon as our hearts stop beating. He says that when you die, it’s “lights out.”

There was a time that I would have agreed. As a teen, I rejected the heaven-and-hell paradigm of my Catholic parents, and the ideas of reincarnation imparted by my Taoist grandparents. …


Michele Koh Morollo

Journo | Copywriter | Short Fiction Author | www.michelekohmorollo.com | New Book: Without:Stories of lack and longing

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