Part of the Saturday morning get-together (which has become a staple in these EX reunions) was something new that was added. In the past there was the “reading of the blogs,” where our wonderful leaders picked out an early blog from each member at the reunion and had them read it out loud (if comfortable doing so). It’s a very emotional experience - for all. Because we ALL have been there in that early, tough, emotionally fragile, whiny stage of a quit. It takes guts to read your old words in those beginning moments of the striving to Freedom. But then 'guts' it what it takes to quit. And we are all on the same team, so the tears are flowing as the person reads of their experience. It’s a bit of a rite of passage for a new reunion participant. And it’s rather indescribable until you’ve done it yourself - a truly communing time of warriors in a shared battle. Now, because the size of the reunions has so increased (happily!) only those who have never been to a reunion read their blog.
This year, because Kathy’s theme was “Message in a Bottle,” we were asked to write down a phrase, or words that someone said that stuck with us (‘best advice’) which helped solidify our quit and keep us on track during the journey. Or we could write about what EX meant to us. Many did both. After writing them, the slips of paper were then passed out randomly and each person read one. I asked to collect them after so that I could type them up and share them with the community at large. Here they are in all their glory. As you can read, EX means a whole lot to a whole whole lot of us. If you’re new - come to the next reunion if you're able. Experience the hugs first hand! Cyber hugs are great, but first hand is.. pretty special.
Utmost thanks to Kathy and Laura who did the work to set this all up. And how wonderful it was for me on my second experience to meet those I hadn’t met before and re-acquaint with those for a second time of soul nourishment.
These reunion experiences reinforce our quits. And leave us with many happy memories.
======================= NOTES IN THE BOTTLE ===========================
“The most valuable advice I received was to prepare yourself for your quit. Read the links the Elders send and prepare for the weak times the NML times. Most of all reach out to the Elders they are all there to support you and to help you with your quit. I still need them now! NOPE They taught me that too!” (Barb - Barb102)
“One thing I learned from EX is humility. I lost a ton of quits to 'just one.' I always thought I must be smarter than a cigarette. Every time, it was going to be different, I was going to be different, but it never was. Once I learned that I was, in fact, not smarter than a cigarette, I was able to be successful.” (Brenda - Brenda)
“EX for me:
My safe place for human connection.
One comment: 'I quit smoking for me'
‘Vaping is just smoking with a battery’ - Dale to me.” (Daniela - Daniela-3-11-2016)
“Don’t try, do. This was written before my time in EX, but it’s the best advice I’ve seen. Also, NOPE - I’ve used that mantra for almost five years now and tomorrow I hit 1,600 days! (Donna Murray - djmurray_12-31-14)
“Persevere. You are not alone. You can do this.” (Donna Marie - DonnaMarie
“When I had not been on EX for very long and I was seriously unsure of myself, someone reached out to me and kept telling me that she knew this was my ‘forever quit.’ I believe it was NewfoundJoy but I am not sure. Her belief in me actually convinced me that she knew something that I did not. She talked about how she struggled when she first ‘quit.’ She used to drive to the shopping center and buy one cigarette from someone in the parking lot - because she was not buying packs - she considered herself ‘quit.’ One day, she bought some very expensive steaks to take home for dinner. She got stuck in a traffic jam on the way home and she noticed a driver next to her - smoking. She considered offering him a steak for a smoke. She quit for real that day.” (Ellen - elvan )
“There are so many pieces of advice that have been given by so many amazing people on EX, it’s hard to pick just one. But the two that stick out in my mind are: ‘Take what you need and leave the rest,’ (which is such good advice that isn’t taken often enough) and ‘Get over yourself.’ (Which I need to do OFTEN!) Both of which I learned from Diane Joy (indingrl.01.06.2011 ).
As to what this site means to me - Well, I’ve been a part of it since it’s inception, practically, so that should kind of tell you what it means to me. It’s a gathering place of the vulnerable and brave where we all tread a common ground and share an awakening of our best selves and a growing into that Best that we can be.
It’s a place of acceptance and shared experience. And it’s actually a very safe space because of that. Because we’re all on the same team, even if our support approaches are different. It is the difference - and the acceptance of that difference that - makes all the difference.
EX is a heartful place full of wisdom and humor, encouragement, empathy, good advice, and sometimes a little slap upside the head!” (Giulia - Giulia)
“Froguelady froguelady_quit_3-16-11 - 'I will not smoke for today and that is how we become nonsmokers, one day at a time. Take care of you first. NOPE counts for No in some cases.'
Giulia - 'Each time you do something as a nonsmoker that you have never done before you just get stronger ‘When nothing is certain - EVERYTHING is possible!’ And depending upon how you view that statement, the possibilities for good things happening are limitless. ( Visit her web page)” (Jackie - Jackie)
“Somewhere around my day 100, I was struggling because people were relapsing all around me. Started doubting my ability to quit. Shawn and Tommy realized that I was having a hard time and came to my rescue. They gave me very simple advice - ‘Don’t compare myself to anyone else. I am the only one that can throw it all away.’ That day was a turning point in my quit. Even though I still had craves, urges and struggled at time, I knew in my heart that I would never smoke again.” (Jennifer Jennifer-Quit-05-01-14)
“Being a member of the ex community means so much to me. I owe my quit to the support of all the members who came before me, who came the same time as myself and those who came after me. The support I’ve received from the members has been my saving grace. It was always nice to know that someone had been there before you and they had a world of great advice to share. So I took what I needed and used it for my personal quit. And that was by far my overall experience with the community.” (Jojo - jojo_2-24-11)
“The most effective advice I got on EX was to say ‘I don’t do that any more’ out loud whenever a craving hit. You don’t see me on the site any more because it has done it’s job for me! It is still my rock & my family! Love you all!” (Laura - Michwoman
“Best advice I ever got was to take whatever you need and leave the rest. I added to that by saying ‘Someone will always take your leftovers.’ EX community = extended family to me. I learn from newbies and Elders. EX helps me remain accountable - & I want to be here for those coming in just as the Elders were for me! I love you all!” (Missy - Mandolinrain)
“1. I learned, changed my way of thinking ‘go to’ mantras/mottos ‘make commitment and honor that commitment no matter what.’ ‘Don’t romanticize that cig.’
2. Community Spirit, Trusted Friends. Was able to speak from my heart, got advice & comments of support.
3. I strengthened, became empowered, supported others, reinforcing my own quit.
4. Took that change and used it to succeed in other areas of my life, to grow, to be happier/healthier.
Quitting being the hardest thing to do in my life, made me believe I could do so much more.” (Patty - Patty-cake)
“The message I most remember was when I was at about 60 days and really grinding it out. I believe it was HWC’s (hwc's post. It stuck with me 10 years later. It read ‘Stay with your quit, it takes time for the brain to recalibrate from the loss of nicotine. This simple message really gave me strength.” (Rick - Rick_M)
“My big go to was NOPE one day at a time. Smoking is not required to deal with life on life’s terms. Big eye opener was learning about not making excuses.” (Sharon - shashort)
“Per Dale - ‘If you’re quitting smoking and you are still smoking - you’re doing it wrong! (Sudie - Sootie)
“I am tired of nicotine dictating my life. That is not really living. I thank God for all of you. ou are truly family. This is not a mere support group. It is a family connected by pure and honest love. (Stacie - Stac2)
“Best advice - Stay Positive - I heard it from so many people who had such a huge impact on my quit - Sudie, Tommy, Giulia, Rick - along with James the happy quitter!” (Kathy - Strudel)
“The best advice I got at EX was a compilation of many bits of advice. In the early days Dale & Peggy ignored me because I was a little negative. But Sootie and so many others read and responded to my blogs and I came to understand that the fantastic people of this community cared about me and my quit!” Smokers do not get to smoke, they have to smoke! ‘I would rather be a quitter that sometimes wants to smoke, than a smoker that always wants to quit.’” (Tommy - pir8fan)
“Piece of advice
- take one second at a time
-take one minute at a time
-take one hour at a time
-take one day at a time
EX means to me - Friendships that will last forever! Support, encouragement, love & friend!” (Valerie - Valerie30)