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In Memoriam with Hope

Posted by Giulia Champion May 30, 2016

Memorial Day is typically the day we honor those who have died in service to our Country.  Those who have given their lives so that we might continue to be free.
I have several relatives and friends  who have served in our armed forces, in the trenches of the Korean war on up to the present.  And I am grateful for their service and their sacrifice.
But this particular blog is not so much a salute to them as it is a remembrance of those who lost their lives due to this addiction.  They were in the trenches of it.  And those trenches are just as ugly.  The death, however, wasn’t as quick.
My husband quit smoking the day he was on the phone with his best friend (the best man at our wedding)  who told him he had lung cancer.  His name was Kiel Martin.  You may know him from Hill Street Blues (if you’re old enough).  For my husband, there was no problem quitting.  That solidified it for him instantly.  Kiel changed my husband’s life and perhaps added years to it.  Kiel died of lung cancer about 3 months after that phone call.  He was a smoker.
The man who brought me to this site so many years ago back in 2008 (Ray Steele aka/Manofsteele) is no longer with us.  I give thanks for him for his encouragement of my quit and for his wisdom.  It is because of him that I am on this site.
Many of us come to this quitting place much too late.  When the effects of our smoking have finally impacted our everyday lives.  When the “should have” has turned into the  “must.”  Don’t wait until the “must” is my advice.  
I honor those who have quit and those who try.  And I grieve for those who are no longer with us because they didn’t know or couldn’t or wouldn’t or waited that one inhale too long.  And I dedicate my 112,308 unsmoked cigarettes to them all.
Here are the people I know who have passed on from this site.  If you’re a new member, it might help you to read their blogs  That’s the legacy they leave after all - for all of us.
ManOfSteel (Ray)
Courage (Fannie)
TheOldGoat (Joan)

With hope for all.



Brain Garden

Posted by Giulia Champion May 22, 2016

Stumbled upon this.  Thought it right up our Quit Alley!   Prune out the craving thoughts, strengthen the positive reinforcements.  Re-focus, rebuild, rejuvenate, rejoice!     ~G~


Your Brain Has A "Delete" Button

—Here's How To Use It


This is the fascinating way that your brain makes space to build new and stronger connections so you can learn more.

[Photo:   NICHD/P. Basser]  
       Judah Pollack and Olivia Fox Cabane       05.11.16   

There’s an old saying in neuroscience: neurons that fire together wire together. This means the more you run a neuro-circuit in your brain, the stronger that circuit becomes. This is why, to quote another old saw, practice makes perfect. The more you practice piano, or speaking a language, or juggling, the stronger those circuits get.

     The ability to learn is about more than building and strengthening neural connections.    

For years this has been the focus for learning new things. But as it turns out, the ability to learn is about more than building and strengthening neural connections. Even more important is our ability to break down the old ones. It's called "synaptic pruning." Here’s how it works.


Your Brain Is Like A Garden


Imagine your brain is a garden, except instead of growing flowers, fruits, and vegetables, you grow synaptic connections between neurons. These are the connections that neurotransmitters like dopamine, seratonin, and others travel across.


"Glial cells" are the gardeners of your brain—they act to speed up signals between certain neurons. But other glial cells are the waste removers, pulling up weeds, killing pests, raking up dead leaves. Your brain’s pruning gardeners are called "microglial cells." They prune your synaptic connections. The question is, how do they know which ones to prune?


Researchers are just starting to unravel this mystery, but what they do know is the synaptic connections that get used less get marked by a protein, C1q (as well as others). When the microglial cells detect that mark, they bond to the protein and destroy—or prune—the synapse.


This is how your brain makes the physical space for you to build new and stronger connections so you can learn more.


Why Sleep Matters


Have you ever felt like your brain is full? Maybe when starting a new job, or deep in a project. You’re not sleeping enough, even though you're constantly taking in new information. Well, in a way, your brain actually is full.


When you learn lots of new things, your brain builds connections, but they’re inefficient, ad hoc connections. Your brain needs to prune a lot of those connections away and build more streamlined, efficient pathways. It does that when we sleep.


Your brain cleans itself out when you sleep—your brain cells shrinking by up to 60% to create space for your glial gardeners to come in take away the waste and prune the synapses.


Have you ever woken up from a good night’s rest and been able to think clearly and quickly? That’s because all the pruning and pathway-efficiency that took place overnight has left you with lots of room to take in and synthesize new information—in other words, to learn.

     Thinking with a sleep-deprived brain is like hacking your way through a dense jungle with a machete. Its overgrown, slow going, exhausting.     

This is the same reason naps are so beneficial to your cognitive abilities. A 10- or 20-minute nap gives your microglial gardeners the chance to come in, clear away some unused connections, and leave space to grow new ones.


Thinking with a sleep-deprived brain is like hacking your way through a dense jungle with a machete. It's overgrown, slow-going, exhausting. The paths overlap, and light can’t get through. Thinking on a well-rested brain is like wandering happily through Central Park; the paths are clear and connect to one another at distinct spots, the trees are in place, you can see far ahead of you. It’s invigorating.


Be Mindful Of What You’re Mindful Of


And in fact, you actually have some control over what your brain decides to delete while you sleep. It's the synaptic connections you don’t use that get marked for recycling. The ones you do use are the ones that get watered and oxygenated. So be mindful of what you’re thinking about.


If you spend too much time reading theories about the end of Game of Thrones and very little on your job, guess which synapses are going to get marked for recycling?


If you’re in a fight with someone at work and devote your time to thinking about how to get even with them, and not about that big project, you're going to wind up a synaptic superstar at revenge plots but a poor innovator.


To take advantage of your brain’s natural gardening system, simply think about the things that are important to you. Your gardeners will strengthen those connections and prune the ones that you care about less. It's how you help the garden of your brain flower.




Vegas Skyping!!!

Posted by Giulia Champion May 14, 2016

Just finished skyping with the EX-4 Reunionees in Vegas and Dale (Jonescarp) and Laura (Michwoman). 

Kathy (Strudel) had an idea to adapt  Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" and altered a few of the lyrics to fit EX.  Dale worked it up on his guitar and added some lyrics of his own and we all sang it together!  Mark (our Admin) video taped it and I'm sure he'll providie a link when he can.  It was just NIFTY!

Several people shared personal stories and words of wisdom from their quitting experience.  They are all happily  having as great a time as always. 

Here are the altered lyrics we all sang:


Be-Come An Ex

When it began, I was just young and stupid
Never dreamed I would smoke so long
I was its slave, it was my daily master
You helped me grow this quit so strong


Hands, touching hands
Reaching out, touching me, touching you

Be-Come An EX
Freedom never seemed so good
I’d be inclined
To believe it never would
But now I

Look at my friends and it don't seem so lonely
I filled it up with great support
And when I crave
I’ll let it roll off my shoulders
How can I fail when I've got you


One, touching one
Reaching out, touching me, touching you

Be-Come An EX
Freedom never seemed so good
I’d be inclined
To believe it never would

Be-Come An EX
Freedom never seemed so good
I’d be inclined
To believe it never would



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