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Sharon (Shashort)

Posted by SkyGirl Oct 13, 2017

The banner photo was taken at EX5 in Virginia Beach last spring.  From left to right: Sky, Chris, jojo, Sharon, Pat, Pops and Laura (Michwoman).  Sharon is undergoing serious surgery on her hand and I would like to know if anyone has a hospital address for her and if anyone knows how long she will be in the hospital so we can send letters or flowers?  If she will be going home soon after surgery, please let us (me) know her home address so we can all send cards and flowers there while she recovers.


By the way, Sharon caught MORE water balloons than anyone else at the EX5 First Annual Water Balloon Toss.  So look out for Sharon at EX6 with her new thumb!


xxxooo,  Sky


I’m Volunteering.  Gulp.

Posted by SkyGirl Oct 13, 2017

Ok. Here goes... (gulp)

I feel SO strongly about making EX6 available and affordable to EXers in the western part of the U.S. that I am going to volunteer to head up the planning for an EX Gathering on the West Coast.  

I want Dale at an EX gathering. Dale has been such an important person in so many Quits. Yeah, he’s a cranky old guy sometimes (sorry, Dale, you know I love you!), but his heart is so big and he gives so much of his time to EX that I just can’t accept the idea that he would never ever be able to attend an EX gathering because his ankle/leg/foot keeps him from making any kind of a long journey to the East Coast (or even the Midwest). C’mon, guys, who amongst you WOULDN’T want to hang out with Dale?  So, my emphasis will be on finding a great place for us in Oceanside, CA.  Second choice would be in San Diego.  (Oceanside and San Diego are only about an hour apart by the train, which costs about $15 round-trip.). A third choice would be either in Seattle (think Pike Place Market, where they are famous for throwing big fish around. Google it) or on the Oregon Coast in Rockaway Beach, where I (supposedly) LIVE although I haven’t made it home to My Beloved since July...  The cute cow-painted bus that takes us from Portland (the airport you’d fly into) over the beautiful Coast Range mountains right to the oceanfront costs only about $20 roundtrip.

So I am OFFICIALLY volunteering (oh, I will probably SO regret this in the morning; Damn you, Sauvignon Blanc!!) to take charge of organizing a West Coast EX Gathering.  I probably should have been an event planner anyway.


Now, it might not be as wonderful as anything that Kathy/Laura have put together with a theme and decor. I can’t compete with that!  But I will do my very best to make sure that it will be affordable for any EXer who can come to the West Coast and that we will meet, form great friendships and have wonderful times together for those few days.


And I can guarantee that those who DO come to EX6.2 will have a wonderful, amazing time of making these EX friendships become REAL when we all meet face-to-face.  I’m so lucky that I have a job that allows me to meet EXers, new and old, in different cities all over the U.S.  Just read on...


I will NEVER forget how cool it felt when Teddy (joyeuxencore) came to my hotel room in West Palm Beach to pick me up to go shopping for an acceptable old-lady bathing suit (which I have NEVER worn since!) before our flight together to Las Vegas (via Houston) to EX1. We asked a random guy in a carpet-cleaning van to take a photo of us within the first hour we had EVER met each other. (I’ll try to post that photo.).


Or when jojo came to a downtown hotel in Philly where I was laying over so we could hang out together for a few hours. (I’ll try to post pics of that first meeting also.).  Or when jojo then came out, along with freedom38 (Kari), to my Oregon Coast for a few days.  My Beloved hosted them in his hotel and we all had a fantastic time together.


Meeting Giulia for the first time in Nashville will always top my list of favorites!  I have a video of her playing guitar and singing a song she wrote specifically for that EX Gathering.  Giulia is someone very, very, very special.  


I spent a fantastic weekend with Wendy (Nanawendy) and our AMAZING Kathy (Strudel) at Kathy’s home when she lived in Charlotte, NC.  We stayed up late, had a wonderful dinner out on Kathy’s screened porch, talked and talked and TALKED and teased Kathy about all her adorable chicken decor!  The next day, we made fools of ourselves trying on ridiculous reindeer headbands at Tuesday Morning (a store I’d NEVER heard of before.) Her cat even slept in my suitcase!  But I can’t find ANY of all the pictures we took of each other that weekend!!  Kathy is an amazing woman who does SO much for others, especially the special-needs children that she mentors and tutors.  I could never give of myself the way that Kathy does.  Kathy is a warm, giving, hard-working hostess, as anyone who went to EX4 (Nashville) and EX5 (Virginia Beach) knows.  


And don’t even get me started about the crazy times I’ve had in The Old Lady Caravan, driving to EX4 and EX5 with Nancy (Youngatheart), DJ (Donna), and jojo (Joanne from Philly) and Elvan (Ellen.). Nancy has hosted me for a sleepover in Baltimore before we left for Nashville.  And she has consistently offered me a sleepover when I have an early assignment out of the Baltimore airport.  She is so warm and welcoming.  Nancy’s house is a HOME.  And I love being welcomed into it.


Donna hasn’t been around a lot lately here on EX, but she is definitely the smartest, hard-working, accepting, logical, loving, down-to-earth woman I have ever met.  She speaks truth.  She knows what she talks about.  She doesn’t fake anything.  She is unafraid and proud.  Donna is beautiful.  The first time I ever saw Donna was when she was standing in the road, waving at me when I couldn’t find my way to her condo.  What a SMILE that woman has!


Ellen.  ELLEN.  I have to write a special paragraph about Ellen.  She gives me way more credit for helping her in her Quit than she should.  (But I’ve got to admit that I love it; I’m only human!). While we were both quitting, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease which is similar to the one she has.  And I’ve never gotten so much support, friendship, and LOVE from anyone.  She helped me make it through until I got a working treatment plan and found my way to my New Normal.  All during the first months she was quitting smoking!  This wonderful, caring, selfless woman could help a bonfire quit smoking!  I love her.


I’ve met up with both new EXers for the first time and with Elders I’ve talked to for years here on EX...and everyone in between.

One of my favorite meetings with an EXer was just last spring in Virginia Beach when I came late to an early, unplanned gathering of EXers in the hotel restaurant and got to FINALLY meet Sharon (Shashort)! I admire her so much; she’s gone through so much physically with losing some of her fingers in an accident and STILL kept both her Quit and her amazing positive attitude. I loved meeting Sharon and I can’t wait to see her again. 


There are SO many moments and people I could tell you about.  The smile on Pat’s face when I handed her the Paper Plate Award with her key to the 6% Club!  The crazy time at Fremont Street in Vegas at EX1.  Too many more to tell...(mainly because my battery on my iPad just told me that I only have 5% power left!)


I tell you these details of my experiences because I want to try to impart my feeling that meeting other EXers really makes a different in your Quit.  I had never heard this fact before I went to EX5, but listen to THIS:  “No EXer who has ever attended an EX Gathering has ever started smoking again”.  Wow.  Does that mean that only confirmed long-term Quitters ever come to an EX Gathering?  No, it does NOT mean that.   It means that coming to an EX Gathering and meeting the people that have supported you is incredibly impactful.  


I sure hope that hearing these experiences of mine might help you be determined to somehow make it to either EX6.1 (East Coast or Midwest) or to EX6.2 on the West Coast (to be determined).

If you are even just mildly interested in attending, (and let’s go ahead and keep calling it EX6.2), please let me know as soon as possible, along with the month that would work best for you.   I want to take a poll on the dates that would work for the most people.


I REALLY want newer Quitters to find a way to go to either EX6.1 or EX6.2.  Those of us who have successful Quits want to meet those people who are just finding EX.  We want to help support and guide them to their own Forever Quits.  Tommy (pir8fan) invented the term, “Collateral Kindness”.  It means we learn from those who came before us, and we pass it on to those who come after us.  The caring and helping and wisdom is passed along...from those people who didn’t think they could do those NEXT people who don’t think they can do it.  


And I need to say right now, from the start, that I already know that I have been assigned a Reserve schedule for April, 2018. So I absolutely cannot be the planner if you want EX6.2 to be in April. March? Yes. May? Yes. Almost any other month except April, so please take that into consideration when putting in your opinion.  Tthe weather in the San Diego/Oceanside coast is ALWAYS nice, so tell me what month works best for you when you tell me you want to attend. It doesn’t have to be in the springtime. What about when we all get our tax returns in February or March?  What about in September, after all the summer people have gone home and left the Pacific Coast to those of us who LIVE there?  The idea of a second EX Gathering is new, so let’s talk about all the possibilities.  I think it would be a good idea to plan the two EX Gatherings far enough apart that those EXers who want to attend both Gatherings could do so.  Give me your thoughts on this.


I will be checking on hotel/rental costs as soon as we settle on a particular month.  I also want potential attendees to think about sharing rooms to cut costs. Some of the best friendships we’ve seen develop on EX are when two EXers meet each other for the first time at an EX gathering! Okay, now I’m getting excited about making this happen!

And there WILL be Paper Plate Awards!  That’s my favorite part!

And, once again, I feel compelled to say that this probably won’t be as wonderfully planned out as Kathy (Strudel) andLaura (Michwoman) or Sarah Perdue have done before... But I DO guarantee that we will make it fun and affordable.


I’ll bring the balloons for the Second Annual Water Balloon Toss. Now, THAT was really fun in Virginia Beach. Beware; I video the Toss and post it on EX. So...practice?  (Go watch the videos I posted after EX5 in Virginia Beach.  They are somewhere here on EX.  (Ask Mark (Admin) to help you find them if you can’t...)

P.S. To Kathy and Laura: I stilll want to come to the East Coast EX6.1 and do Paper Plate Awards, if you’ll have me.   I will need to know the exact date of the East Coast EX6.1 no later than the 10th of the month PRIOR to the month in which you have scheduled EX6.1 to ensure that I can bid a schedule that allows me the days off that I need.  Preferably sooner.

Feeling like I should delete this entire post...but not wanting to because this is gonna be GREAT.


Let me hear asap from those who are interested.  Please send me your email address (preferably by private message here on EX or by email to  


Remember, bonfires on the beach cost NOTHING.  Sharing rooms will promote new friendships.


Meeting Dale?  Priceless...

xxxooo, Sky. (Sorry this is so long.  But I always say THAT, don’t I?  )

September 27th came and went.  


It was my fifth year anniversary as an ex-smoker.


Granted, I was up to my eyeballs in wedding details just three days before my daughter’s wedding.


Even so, I really love the fact that this anniversary came...and went...and I didn’t even notice.


It’s the first anniversary that I wasn’t hanging around on EX all day, and loving the kudos I was getting.


It is bittersweet to think that I’m so successful at beating nicotine that a milestone like FIVE YEARS could just pass me by.


But, at five years...I’m so happy to be NOT thinking about smoking at all.


Love, love, love, love to all the wonderful people who came here before me and helped me to find my Forever Quit.


We find EX, we get involved, we support each other,  and WE QUIT.  Every one has a diffferent journey.  But the one thing we ALL have found is that SUPPORT MATTERS.


So please, let us support you.


xxxooo,  Sky

Sorry I’ve been MIA for a couple of weeks!   Both weddings in September were a huge success and I survived all the Mother-of-the-Groom and Mother-of-the-Bride planning and festivities.


I promise there will be something about not smoking in this blog, but if you guys could just indulge me for a few minutes, I’d really like to show you a few photos of the two weddings.  I appreciate your patience with me being the proud Mothership!


This first picture is me with all my “babies”!   From left to right:  Whitney (41), Max (33), me (old lady; age unknown), Spencer (30), Hayley (34), Oliver (36).  And to all you young mothers and fathers here on EX, this, yes, THIS is why you want to quit.  Because your “babies” need you to still be around when they are grown-ups and have children of their own.  Do you really want to miss being a grandma or grandpa?

This is the official family picture after Max & Jennifer’s wedding.  From left to right:  Peter (Hayley’s fiancé, now hubby after last weekend), Hayley, Whitney (with three of their four children), me (still an old lady), Max, his bride Jennifer (they’ve been together for SIXTEEN YEARS, since they were just teenagers.  We are so close after all these years that I sometimes forget that she’s not one of my birth daughters.), Spencer, his wife Evelyn, Oliver.  The kids in front are Claire (8), John (10), Graham (12) and then, at the far right, Oliver’s daughter, Vivienne (Vivi, age 6).  Missing are Whitney’s husband, Ben, and their oldest daughter, Addie (13).  Addie wasn’t feeling well, so Ben took her home.

Below, Max and Jennifer after their wedding.


Okey doke, that was the FIRST wedding in September.  Now, on to the second wedding in September, in which I was Mother-of-the-Bride (which I already knew was much more expensive and complicated!  But, to be honest, it’s also much more fun when the bride is your daughter.)


It was a smaller-ish wedding, with only 90 guests.  It was held in Glen Lake, Michigan at the Homestead Resort on the edge of Lake Michigan. This specific locale information is for @Michwoman (Laura!) and my other EX friends in Michigan because they will know how beautiful the entire Sleeping Bear dunes and Leelanau Peninsula is!  Michigan is my home state; I lived there from age 12 until age A-Lot-Older.  (Crap, I just realized that I have to count my decades in Ann Arbor on TWO hands!).


Anyway, I will post a bunch of photos of Hayley and Peter’s wedding (because I’m sure you folks are all getting tired of seeing pics of people you don’t know) without a lot of explanation.  Suffice it to say that it was an amazing wedding and I am so happy to have helped Hayley and Peter plan it.  But the very BEST THING about her wedding was when Hayley told me that she wanted me to come stay with her in her room at the Lodge on the night before the wedding.  The fact that she told me that she wanted to snuggle and talk with her Momma on the last night before she became a wife meant THE WORLD to me.  


So, in no particular order, here are a few pics from Hayley & Peter’s wedding.  I know I’m sharing WAY too much on EX about these two weddings, but I’m hoping my dear EX friends will understand...




And I said there’d be something about smoking in this blog, didn’t I?  Well, I had tripped and fallen during the night before the wedding when I was setting up the centerpieces.  I smashed up my right wrist AGAIN (remember when I broke that same wrist about four years ago?  Mascara applied with a left hand ain’t pretty!). It got kind of hard to hide how much it hurt during the reception.  So I slipped outside to just take a breather and to ice my wrist with a baggie full of ice during the festivities.  And what did I happen upon?  Four guests who had taken time out to go outside and smoke.  I am not one of those EXers who still loves the smell of second-hand smoke, so I got as far away as possible from them, but I overheard their conversation.  Here are some of the things they said: “I hope they don’t cut the cake while I’m out here”, “Do you think there’s anyplace around here that I can get cigs this late at night?”, “I’m so glad there are other people here that smoke”, etc.  It made me remember the days when my addiction to smoking made life choices FOR me:  How many cigarettes did I have left?  When is the next time that I’d be in a place where I could smoke?  Do I have enough time to go outside Security, smoke a few, and then get back though Security to my next gate?  If I buy a pack, will I have enough cash to give Oliver for his lunch money tomorrow?  This list goes on and on and on... 


I cringe when I think about how I let my nicotine addiction make my choices for me.


And I love that I found EX and GOT MY LIFE BACK.


To you smokers who are brand new here on EX or have stumbled into the site by accident:  You CAN quit.  Nicotine is a strong addiction; some studies say as strong as heroin.  But look at all of us who have broken free from that damn addiction!  Now listen to this carefully and believe it:  YOUR ADDICTION TO NICOTINE IS NO STRONGER OR MORE DIFFICULT TO BEAT THAT OUR ADDICTIONS WERE.  If we have found a way out of this addiction, SO CAN YOU.  There is nothing special about us.  We have no magic formula that you don’t have.   We were not stronger or more dedicated than you are.  So, please stay here on EX.  Start to blog so we can get to know who you are.  Ask questions.  Make friends here on EX.  And know how a strong support system can make all the difference.  WE can be your support system.


xxxooo,  Sky


What My Beloved said...

Posted by SkyGirl Sep 21, 2017

You know, I was just re-reading my blog from a few minutes ago. And I'm sort of embarrassed that I made it sound so hard.


I love to make it all sound like it's extraordinarily complicated and that I'm some kind of Superwoman...but really it's not that hard!  It's just taking care of business, one task at a time.


When I get overwhelmed by life, I always remember something that My Beloved taught me early on in our relationship.

Out of the blue, he asked me (when I was moaning and crying and carrying on about something), "How do you eat an elephant?"


"Huh?" I said.


He said, "How do you eat an elephant?".


"I dunno" I said "What does THAT have to do with my problems? Why are you making a joke NOW, when I have so much to deal with??" (Actually I didn't just say that, I GROWLED it that at the poor man.)


He laughed at me. And then he took me by the shoulders and sat me down on the couch. He turned off the oven and the computer and the TV. He took my iPad and my cellphone and set them aside. He looked me in the eye and repeated for the third time, "How do you eat an elephant?".


I was so impatient and frustrated at the way he was delaying all the crap I had to take care of! "Ok, I'll humor you. HOW?" I said, in a NOT-loving voice.


And that wonderful man said these words that have carried me through multiple stressful situations where I have felt SO overwhelmed and that I had SO much on my plate and just couldn't manage it all...


My Beloved said to me, " One bite at a time, Honey, just one bite at a time..."


It gave me a whole new perspective. It taught me to conquer one obstacle or task at a time, then move on to the next one.


And THAT'S how I got through those early minutes...hours...days...weeks...months...of my Quit.




How did I ever get so lucky to find this man? (Well, that's actually a good story...for another blog)


All you really need to take from this blog is that you don't have to eat the entire elephant in one meal! Just take one bite at a time.


Don't look at the big idea of never smoking again.


Just take it one moment at a time.


The moments will soon stretch into hours and days.


And you will LOVE yourself for doing this.


We promise to help you. All you have to do is ASK for help.


xxxooo, Sky

Sounds a bit kinky, doesn't it?  Well, it's TRUE in this case!  


I have five grown children.  And TWO of them decided to get married in the SAME month.  Yeah, they waited until they were 32 and 34 to get married...and then, just HAD to do it in the same month!  Really?  Gee, thanks, my dear kids.


To make it more complicated, they both chose a month in which I've been assigned "Ready Reserve" status ALL month long!  That means that the Crew Desk can call me at ANY time of day or night, and assign me a trip out of either Dulles, Reagan or Baltimore airports with only FOUR hours notice until departure.  Not four hours to get to the airport, mind you...but four hours until TAKE-OFF.  Which translates to about 2 1/2 hours to get to the airport for safety inspections, pilot briefings and boarding.  


Needless to say, I'm going crazy! 


My son, Max, was the first wedding.  Somehow, through major wheedling, finagling and sobbing, I managed to get Labor Day weekend completely off.   So Max and his bride, Jennifer, (who have been together since 8TH GRADE!!) got married in a simple wedding in my hometown of Ann Arbor, MI.  Being the mother of the groom is pretty easy; I've managed that role before.


But, now, coming up in just 8 days, is my daughter's wedding.  Hayley is managing most of it herself, along with her groom, Peter (they've lived together for three years), but still, being mother of the bride is still a LOT of work.  I'm finding myself on the phone with the florist the minute the plane hits the runway, reviewing the caterer's emails in between flights, collecting wine bottles (that one was sort of an enjoyable task! LOL) to spray paint gold for the centerpieces, and arranging hotel rooms at the resort up north at Michigan's Sleeping Bears Dunes where the wedding is being held (See banner pic above.). I'm making lists in my hotel rooms at night, calling Hayley at 6am before I get on a plane, and sending more money via PayPal than I ever thought I would have to!


I'm going crazy.  Absolutely bananas.  I can't WAIT until this crazy month is over.  


But there are three VERY WONDERFUL things happening this month:

1)  Max and Jennifer are happily married now and in their new house.

2)  Hayley and Peter will have an amazingly relaxed wedding in the Dunes next weekend.

3)  And I will be celebrating my FIVE YEARS of freedom from nicotine on September 27th!  Go, me!


xxxooo,   Sky

I want to copy an old blog along with all the comments and post it.  How do I create a link so I can re-post the entire blog, including the thread that followed?  Please help tonight, because I'm off on another unknown journey tomorrow for three days...  THANKS!


A Confused Sky


Newark, Anyone?

Posted by SkyGirl Sep 15, 2017

Hi, Folks!  Hope no one is smoking, for heaven's sake!


I am flying the red-eye flight out of Seattle tonight (leaves at 11:45pm) to Newark.  I arrive in Newark at 7:45am and will have a Bloody Mary and fall into bed for a few hours.  But my layover in Newark is 23 hours long!  Woohoo!  I'll be at the Hyatt in Morristown.  Any EXers in Newark that want to have dinner tomorrow night? I'd LOVE to meet some new EXers!


xxxooo,  Sky


It'll Fit You Like a Glove

Posted by SkyGirl Sep 12, 2017

I am 100% FREE. It wasn't an easy thing to do. That's a bit of an understatement.


At times, I didn't believe I could do it.


At times, I still believed that a cigarette was the answer to a problem or a bad situation.


At times, I felt like quitting must be easier for everyone else than it was for me.


At times, I was absolutely convinced that MY addiction to nicotine was stronger and harder to beat than everyone else's addiction.


At times, I believed that everyone here on EX who was succeeding at quitting had some magic answer that I didn't have.

But the truth is that, while it may not be easy, it is SIMPLE: As long as you do not put any nicotine into your body, you are succeeding, regardless of how you are feeling at any given moment.

Now cling to that truth. And believe that every single day without nicotine brings you closer to your NEW NORMAL.


And, slowly but surely, that new normal will fit you like a glove. I promise.


xxxooo,  Sky


Cupcakes and 9/11

Posted by SkyGirl Sep 11, 2017

First off, I want to say thank you to Ellen for the sweet post about my birthday yesterday. And thank you for all the nice comments and pictures from all the dear people here on EX.


Because of Irma, the crew desk was working hard to keep up with airport closings and unsafe flight paths during the past few days. And they are switching up a lot of flight attendants' schedules. I was converted to Ready Reserve status for 48 hours. That means I had to be available to drive immediately to an airport to work on an altered or unscheduled flight that needed more flight attendants.


So I spent my birthday quietly at my condo, carrying my phone with me everywhere, including the bathroom and the laundry room. I had been expecting to get an assignment, so I had gotten some mini-cupcakes to take with me to share with the crew on my birthday. But the crew desk never called yesterday, so my Ready Reserve status was extended for another 24 hours (today). Again, I've received no assignment today, so I've had plenty of alone time for three whole days.


And, as happens every year since 9/11/01, I just don't feel much like celebrating my birthday. It somehow seems callous to celebrate, laugh, enjoy good wishes from my friends/family, eat cake and ice though something unspeakably horrible didn't happen the very next morning back in 2001.


Those of you who have known me for five years already know that the anniversary of 9/11 is a very hard day for all flight attendants and pilots. There are many flight attendants who never had the courage to ever fly again after 9/11. It was a long time before flight attendants didn't feel unsafe and vulnerable every single time they went to work, boarded a plane and were sealed in a metal tube that was hurtling though the air at a ground speed of over 500mph at an altitude of 36,000 ft...and, for all intents and purposes, trapped with about 150-250 people that we knew nothing about.


We learned to watch like hawks during the boarding process. We were no longer making friendly jokes as passengers boarded, because we were taught to assess each and every person as they boarded; Did they seem nervous? Did they refuse to meet our eyes? Did they look sweaty or uncomfortable? Were they wearing clothing that could conceal a weapon? Were they traveling alone? Was there anything odd or out-of-place about their behavior? What did their luggage look like and how did they handle their own luggage? We jumped at every unexpected noise. We watched every single passenger's movements during the flight. We were suspicious of people when they walked in the aisles or when they asked questions about the airplane or the pilots.


We were all trained in defense techniques. We were taught how to use the steel barrier gates that were installed to separate the passengers from the cockpit door when the pilots needed a bathroom break or have their meal trays sent in to them. We learned how to never let the cockpit door be open for more than three seconds, and to call out "Door, door, door" if the door did not close within those allotted three seconds. We learned about how to react to gunfire on an airplane, as newly-enacted federal aviation law now allowed pilots to carry guns. We learned how to use wine bottles, ice hammers and pots of hot coffee as weapons to protect ourselves, and more importantly, the cockpit door. We were told that our primary responsibility was to keep the pilots safe and to use any measures necessary to not allow the cockpit to be breached. Even at the cost of our own safety. No. Matter. What.


For a long time, flight attendants came to work in fear. Slowly, over the years, these changes became our new normal. The fear subsided, but we still assess every person on the plane with a critical eye to ascertain if they are friend or foe. We do it as you board. We do it during the safety demo. We do it during the beverage service and the meal service. We do it every time someone gets up when the seatbelt sign is on. We do it when someone spends too long in the lavatory. And whenever a passenger comes into the galley with a request, a complaint or "just to stretch", we make a judgement; "Is this real? Or is this meant to be a distraction while something is occurring at the other end of the plane? 

We are always watching, watching...


And it's become such second nature to us now that we don't think of 9/11 anymore while we do it. "Situational awareness" is a phrase we learned and we use it every day on every flight. And we are so good at it now that you won't even know that we are doing it. We may even joke a bit about it now and then. I do, sometimes. If I am the flight attendant who is standing guard at the steel gate (or the cart positioned to block access), I might say to the flight attendant who will be opening the cockpit door, "Wait, I have to get ferocious-looking before you open it!". But it's not a joke. Keeping the cockpit safe is deadly serious. 9/11 changed our jobs forever.


And each year, when September 11th comes, all flight attendants remember that day when all hell broke loose in the skies. And we remember why we do what we do, why Federal Air Marshalls do what they do, why pilots can now carry guns, why going through security checkpoints is such an awful process. But, mostly, we think about the 25 flight attendants who came to work that morning, just as we do today. They checked the safety equipment, they listened to the pilot's briefing, they made the coffee...and within hours, they were gone forever.


So, I do really enjoy getting birthday wishes and cupcakes on 9/10...but in the back of my mind, I am dreading the sadness that the next day will bring.  And thinking about the 25 flight attendants and eight pilots who never got to have another birthday with cupcakes...and how our world changed that day.


Sorry to be a downer, you guys. I really do love getting birthday wishes.



I looked at my 4-day trip that started on Saturday, 8/26.  And I saw I had a layover in San Diego! Yay!  And then I saw that the layover was a long one.  21 hours!  


So I let Dale know and we made plans to get together.  It's been a long time so I was really excited to hang out with Dale.  For the chile rellenos, I mean.  Just kidding, Dale.  (Dale takes me to his cousin's Mexican restaurant every time I visit and we LOVE his chile rellenos and refried beans..)  


But Dale tells me that the restaurant will be closed on Sunday while I'm there, so we will have fish tacos from somewhere else.  I try to muster up some excitement for fish tacos.  Which I actually love.  But not compared to Dale's cousin's chile rellenos.  Dale told me the first time that we hung out that those chile rellenos were "as big as your hand!"  They ARE (not counting your fingers, just your palm).


So I got to San Diego about 10:30 am.  I changed from my monkey suit into real people clothes.  Then I ran around the corner from the Doubletree to the nail salon that I go to there and had a gel pedicure.  I do have my priorities!  Ladies, you get that, right?


Then I rushed another few blocks to the train station and hopped on the Coaster which runs only the 40-mile stretch between San Diego and Oceanside (where Dale lives).  $11 round trip.  It's about an hour and it's such a relaxing ride.  That Coaster train just glides quietly.  (See how I'm talking up San Diego here?  See what I'm doing?  EX6!)


Dale is right there waiting when I get off the train in Oceanside and I hop in his truck.  He brought me an ice cold bottle of water.  I think that was really thoughtful!  We decided to eat first because I was starving (c'mon doesn't a good pedicure work up YOUR appetite? Lol).  


Then Dale drops THE BEST BOMB ever.  He has CHILE RELLENOS for me at his house!!!  He drove over to his cousin's restaurant the day before and got them To-Go.  This man is brilliant, I say.  Absolutely brilliant.


When we get to his house, Dale MAKES fresh guacamole for us and produces the To-Go chips and salsa from the restaurant, too.  I have to admit that I'd never seen anyone make guacamole that delicious while sitting at his desk in front of his computer!  Well, truthfully, I've never see anyone make guacamole at a desk, delicious or not.  And he has a secret ingredient...ask Dale.  Maybe he'll share his recipe.  Maybe.


While the chile rellenos and beans baked, we snacked on guac, salsa and chips and gossiped.  Such fun.  And really at no ones expense.  I promise.


After lunch, Hoggie deigned to come in his cat door.  Dale has built an amazing maze of walkways all along the back of the house.  Each walkway ends in a different cat-sized "room" which is really a viewing perch for Hoggie to relax and contemplate the Great Outdoors, complete with pillows for Hoggie's comfort.  There's even a room big enough for the covered litter box "room" with a gate that Dale opens to scoop the litter.  Truly ingenious.  I've seen it on other visits, but it never ceases to amaze me.  It's all wooden-framed and covered in chicken-wire, so that Hoggie gets the full outdoors experience without being in any danger from the coyotes that roam the hills near Dale's house (and try to eat cats. Ew.)  That's the reason Dale built it all in the first place--to protect Hoggie.  Anyway, Hoggie decided I was worth coming in for (or maybe it was just the soft bed where he wanted to nap?).  And Hoggie and I had a "moment".  And Dale took a picture.


Then we drove around Oceanside, up and down the waterfront.  We people-watched and I talked to him about EX6 and what city would be good and if I could talk him into coming if I couldn't convince everyone to vote for San Diego/Oceanside area. 


He promised that we'd get ice cream cones, but we both forgot since we were stuffed with chile rellenos.  Then it was time to drive me back to the train station.  We tried to take some selfies in the parking lot at the train station...and for two old people trying to take pictures with an iPad, we did pretty well.


A relaxing ride back down to San Diego, a walk through Little Italy where I bought a bottle of wine and a perfect avocado, some EX time and FB time,  then sleep for about 5 hours, with a van pick-up time at 5am...and off to LAX, then ORD, then MCO.  (That's San Diego to Los Angeles to Chicago to Orlando.)


Now here are the pictures:

See, it IS as big as my hand.  And that was the LITTLE one.

The homemade guacamole, the salsa (I should have taken the top off, duh), and the freshly fried (well, yesterday) tortilla chips.  SO good.

Me, posing with my chile relleno.  (Nice expression, Sky...)

Hoggie and I were having a "moment".   He's a good cat.

Dale has this crazy "Free Wi-Fi" sign just above his computer.  No, I don't know WHY.  But it's very cool!

This was one of our first attempts at a selfie.  Is it still a selfie if there's two people?  Shouldn't it be called an "us-ie"?

And this is us, laughing at ourselves trying to take selfies with an iPad.  



Thank you, Dale, for being such a fun guy to hang with!


SkyGirl = Broken Record

Posted by SkyGirl Aug 29, 2017

1) Smoking a cigarette does NOT calm you down, ease your stress, make you happier or more able to cope. All that smoking a cigarette does is increase the level of nicotine in your body, which holds off the effects of withdrawal that started when you finished your last cigarette.

2) You do not enjoy smoking. What you are enjoying is NOT feeling a low level of nicotine in your body.

3) Educating yourself about nicotine addiction gives you a HUGE advantage in successfully quitting.

4) The way you THINK about quitting is absolutely KEY.

It is important that you banish the concepts of "trying", "attempting", "hoping it works", "wish me good luck".
It is important that you read enough about quitting until your thinking does a complete 180 degree turn from "giving up something", "sacrificing something I love", "doing without", "getting through this" into "FREEDOM".
Freedom from what? From a life that is ruled by an addiction, freedom to enjoy better health, freedom from guilt and shame, freedom from worrying when and where you can have your next cigarette, freedom from the panic when you realize you are out of cigarettes, freedom from smelling like an ashtray, freedom from hiding and making excuses.
And don't forget to think about all the free time you will gain, the money you will save, and the self-esteem that will rocket upwards when you quit.  So get that thinking flipped around so you are ready to quit successfully!

5) You CAN quit. Your addiction is no stronger and no harder to beat than anyone else's. If we can quit, then you can quit. We can ALL quit.

6) Yes, the first few days of quitting are not very pleasant. In fact, they suck. Completely suck.
But if you prepare in advance for how to handle those first days, you will make the whole process go a lot easier for yourself.  Listen to the advice of those who have already achieved what you came here to achieve.
Then FOLLOW that advice. Don't just read it in the blogs and think, "hmm, yeah, that sounds good".
You must actually DO the things that have been proven to help make you a successful quitter.

7) Be HAPPY. This is one of the best decisions you will ever make for yourself. Be excited to do this. And be VERY, VERY proud of yourself. We are. And we will be here to help you all the way...




Posted by SkyGirl Aug 26, 2017

Nancy Balch Roberts shared A Fly Guy's... - Nancy Balch Roberts | Facebook 


I wish I worked for Virgin Atlantic, 


Not really...but I DO wish United made such great videos.

This is for EVERYONE who has somehow found your way to EX and is reading this now.  


(I actually posted something similar in response to a good friend's blog, but I am immodest enough to think it might make, with some additions, a good stand-alone blog.  Gotta learn to check my Inner Author, right?  Too late now, right?)


Here's my thinking tonight.  I love all of you here on EX.  ALL of you.  I am no saint, but I think my parents taught me well about caring about other people.  Please read this.


I love the Elders.  Their experience, their knowledge about what works, their dedication, their wit (and bad jokes), their warmth and caring deserves to be acknowledged.  I do so now, with gratitude.  And thank them for allowing me to stay here, as an Elder now myself, and pass on all the knowledge I have gained.  The act of passing it on is known, thanks to Elder Tommy, as "Collateral Kindness".  This site WORKS because of it.


 I love the wonderful people that I've known for years here on EX and who I consider the folks in my "graduating class" as Quitters.  I am friends now in the real world with many of you, and I plan to find more ways to be face-to-face with many of you.  Our friendships MATTER to me.  But those great friendships are NOT what keep us from smoking.  We do that for OURSELVES.  Because we have learned to value what freedom from nicotine addiction has done to improve our lives.


I love the folks that I met when I was just a few months into my Quit.  I wanted so desperately for them to succeed.  I feel Iike a big sister and a good close friend to those who quit shortly after I did.  And I have learned MUCH from those people who came after me!  That would be YOU, Ellen.  Among many others.  And if any of us have somehow missed getting to know each other...don't let that stop us from reaching out to each other NOW.  It's never, ever, too late to make that connection with someone else here on EX.  Let's break down any hesitation we both might feel, okay? 


I love the people who come here...and come here... and come here....and KEEP coming here.  Because if you care enough to KEEP coming here---then, someday, you WILL "get it" and I want to already know you and to be here to cheer you on as you cross that finish line called The Forever Quit.  Multiple quits only mean that you don't know HOW to successfully quit yet.  EX is where you will learn how.  We will help you figure it all out.


I love the Newbies. I really, really, really do. And it's sometimes very hard to single them out and get to know them because SO many people join and just post once or twice in the blogs, or in a newbie group or somewhere else on this site.   Most of them don't post much information about themselves in their profiles at first.  So we hardly know their real names, or anything personal about them, unless we ask.  And sometimes they leave or give up because we can't get to them quickly enough to create a BOND, a RELATIONSHIP, something that makes them know this is a REAL place with REAL people who give a really big damn about helping them quit smoking.  


The Newbies that give up before we can find them, make friends with them, show them that we care, teach them what we know from experience, and keep holding them in our arms until they succeed...  God, my heart breaks for those that we lose...but those are the people that actually KEEP me here on EX.  


Yes, I do come and go, and come and go, here on EX.  There are wonderful Elders here on EX who are the solid rocks of this website.  All of you know who I'm talking about.  And I would give ANYTHING to be one of those people.  But I can't be here as much as I want to right now.  My life, like many of us, requires that I work at a job that keeps me away from EX when I want so much to be here, involved all day, with all of you, and contribute to the people here in much greater ways.  Someday, I WILL be able to do that.  Until then, I will be here on EX as often as I can be, hoping to post something that catches someone's heart and makes a difference.  And loving every minute that I can help someone...


But I don't love any of you because of how you RANK on those darn Leaderboards.  I don't care about how many points or badges you have.  I don't really even understand how all the Missions and Quests work to make a person more "important" here on Ex.


I love each of you differently because of how I've gotten to KNOW you, how you and I have CONNECTED regardless of the so-called system on this site, because of the way we support each other, we laugh, we make jokes and we keep talking to each other here, day after day.  Let's go ahead and watch all those crazy points add up, like we have for the last few threads.   But let's also realize that POINTS don't really mean anything.  


Let's acknowledge that what really matters here is EACH OTHER.  We meet, we learn about each other and we CARE. 


THAT is how we quit.


And I LOVE that. 


xxxooo,   Sky

This is a long blog.  I hope that, when you are done reading it, you will believe that you CAN quit smoking. (Because you CAN, and if you don't believe that---please post a simple blog here on this site.   And we'll talk about how you feel.


Look at the picture I've posted as the banner on this blog...  It's a key.  Sitting on a keyboard. 


Can the key to quitting smoking actually be found through a KEYBOARD?


Yes, it can.  Set your skepticism aside and please listen to me for a minute.  Or two.


You may have come seriously looking for an online stop-smoking site.  


You may have stumbled into this site randomly while thinking you want to quit at some time in the foreseeable future.


You might just be a smoker who went down a rabbit hole without any real commitment to the idea of quitting. might just want to see what kind of sheep think that following other sheep actually makes anyone stop smoking.


I am not a sheep.  I have never thought of myself as being someone who puts their trust in "programs", whether it be to  eat healthier, feel more positive, exercise more regularly, read books, raise better children, find a more rewarding job, learn to forgive, be more assertive...oh, sheesh, I could go on forever because there is ALWAYS a group for SOMETHING to help you improve your life, right?


But when I found EX, I found something I NEVER expected.  I completely realize that I'm starting to sound like an infomercial...  So please hang in here with me!


I did go looking for an online way to quit smoking.  I just wanted to see what was out there.  I clicked on a site called  It's easier to call it "EX" so that is what I (and many others) call it now.


I came to EX because I wanted to see what I would feel if I thought seriously about quitting smoking. Not for just a while. FOREVER. I wasn't sure I was ready. I wasn't sure I had what it would take... I wasn't even sure that I did WANT to quit.


Being a smoker was part of my identity.  It was who I WAS.  My life was arranged around when I could smoke, where I could smoke, how many cigarettes I had left, where I could buy another pack...(I KNOW this sounds familiar to many of you!). I didn't WANT to admit it to myself, but it was true.  My life revolved around smoking.  I made choices about how and where I would spend my time based on my smoking.

But I came to EX and I read blogs.  I introduced myself to the EX community as someone who wasn't really sure they wanted to be on this website...because I didn't know for sure that I wanted to quit.  I thought I really loved smoking and that I got benefits from smoking; calmness, relaxation, stress-relief, comfort.  Yup,  I really thought that smoking helped me cope with the stuff in my life.  So I completely get you if you feel that way now as you are reading this.


BUT...and here was the game-changer  (for me AND for anyone new who is just reading this):


I opened my mind... I LISTENED. I did not judge (which was hard because, as smokers, we really think that we are smarter and cooler than everyone else).  I made an effort to read what was recommended by successful Quitters, even if I thought it sounded stupid and elementary.  I got involved with the people on EX.  I blogged here on EX and I made connections with other members; the Newbies like me, the halfway-to-success Quitters, the "Woohoo, I feel successful now!" Quitters and the longtime solid Quitters.  There was something to learn from every single person I met here on EX.  And when I disagreed, it was completely okay to say that.  Because one of the most important things that we say here is "Take what you need and leave the rest".  There is no perfect, magic, absolute way to quit that works for everyone.  Each person's journey to Freedom from nicotine is made up of the various things they find here on EX that work for them.


I accepted the possibility that I COULD quit smoking  and eventually be really happy about it and not miss my cigarettes.  I connected with people whose blogs resonated with me.  And I figured out MY key for success.  And I was never alone here.


And here is the most important thing about quitting smoking that I never understood or accepted before...


NICOTINE IS A DRUG ADDICTION.  It is a drug that takes over, and physically changes, the neural pathways and dopamine receptors in your brain.  It's an addiction as strong as heroin.  And that's PROVEN by science.  Go to a website called "" and look for a link to an article called "Nicotine Addiction 101".  It's on the left side of the homepage and has a little twirling yellow cube next to it.  It's not a quick easy read, but if you put the time into reading it, you will be astounded at the way nicotine can take over the way your brain thinks.


It's not a "bad habit".  It's an addiction. But you can beat it, like so many of us EXers here on this site did.  


In short, here's how I won my battle with nicotine:


I recognized that many of the people here on EX had already achieved the exact thing that I wanted to achieve.  My desire was to happily livie a life without nicotine.


So I read what they told me to read. I read Allen Carr's book ("The Easy Way to Stop Smoking").  It's not "easy" to quit...but this short book will teach you how to stop looking at quitting as "losing" something, "giving up" something, "sacrificing" something, "doing without" something.  It will help you turn your thinking around so that you see quitting as FREEDOM from smoking.


I did the Tracking and the Delaying exercises. I went to the other sites that were recommended. I was seriously skeptical and unsure about it, but I DID all the things that all these successful EXers told me to do.


And I set a date. A Quit Date. A day that I would do whatever it took to start living my life without being a slave to my nicotine addiction.


I was a STUDENT and I learned how I could stop being a nicotine addict. I spent a LOT of time here on EX and got to know people and accepted the support and friendship they were so happy to give to me.


It was like a lightbulb went on in my head on the day that I GOT it. Poof!


I understood COMMITMENT instead of "trying", "attempting", "hoping".


I understood taking PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY instead of wishing for "luck", and blaming "stress", "weakness" or "being around smokers".


I understood seeing quitting as FREEDOM instead of seeing it as "sacrifice", "giving up", "suffering through" or "losing" something.


I understood that the feeling of so-called "enjoyment" and "need" was no more than my physical addiction calling out to me...and that I didn't have to listen to it!


When I quit, it wasn't "EASY". Sorry, Allen Carr, it wasn't. But I had a whole new way of thinking about it and that made it easiER.


I've been here for a while now. I have almost five years of freedom from nicotine. I still can't belive it's been that long when I see it in writing.  But, to all the new people who have just found this site, don't you think, for ONE minute, that I have forgotten what it feels like to be addicted and to find my way out of that addiction with the help of other EXers who helped me to educate myself about addiction and who supported me through ALL ups and downs and doubts and anger and fear about what life would be like without nicotine.  No successful Quitter ever forgets.  That's why we stay here to help other people who come to EX.


Yes, I have freedom from cigarettes now.  But I have more than that. I have the knowledge, the understanding, the thinking, the confidence and the TOOLS to know that I will never ever smoke again.


And I have all that because I LISTENED to the people here and I FOLLOWED their advice.


So, to all the new folks here, know this:  Your addiction to nicotine is no stronger nor harder to beat than our addiction was. You CAN quit. If we could do it, so can YOU.


Leave all your assumptions at the door. Be a student here on EX. You won't ever regret it. We promise.


XXXOOO, Sky.   (Sorry for any typos; feeling sleep-deprived after flying for three days...)