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2017

 

We all know that smoking cigarettes leaves nasty, dangerous residue in our lungs.  But watching a simplistic test like this will definitely reinforce what we already know about smoking.  It can't be illustrated any more simply, can it?

Here's the link:   Be Aware - Wat blijft er achter in je longen na het roken... 

And all of a sudden,  EX5-Virginia Beach was over.  We had barely gotten started!  When the Old Lady Caravan arrived on Thursday, May 18th, the weekend stretched long and luxuriously ahead of us.  But just a little more than 72 hours later, we were hugging and making plans for next year.  We all stayed at the hotel breakfast until 10am when they closed it up.  Then there were hugs, pictures, promises and off we all went on our separate ways.  

 

But still together.  Always together.  Held together by a bond that you can't understand until you've experienced it...

 

 

Patty and Donna.  In the left background, Pops and jojo hug while Nancy watches.  In the way-back, from left: Sharon, Shawn, Chris and Pat.

Donna and me (Sky) acting like we don't realize we are about to spend the entire day together in the Old Lady Caravan!

Patty and me (Gee, I don't very wide-awake for getting ready to drive The Old Lady Caravan for almost ten hours!). Three Old Ladies in the background: Nancy, jojo and Ellen.

Laura, Pops, Sky, Tommy, Kathy

Pops, Sky, Tommy (Nice photobomb, Laura!!!)

Sharon, Sky, Pat

Tommy and Kathy in a grave discussion about something important...?

Nancy, getting ready to roll...

The room was cleared out and Tommy, Shawn and Tommy were saying their last goodbyes.  (Little did Shawn know then that she'd end up staying an extra night (flight delays) and having a sleepover with Jackie!)

 

And a good, amazing, never-to-be-forgotten time was had by all...  Goodbye EX5!

On Sunday night, there were still 17 of us staying overnight.  So somebody organized a group trip to Murphy's Irish Pub for dinner.  Most people walked the two blocks, but the Old Lady Caravan drove for anyone who needed a lift.  Somehow, we ended up with more people in our group than Murphy's had prepared for, so there was some scrambling of chairs and squeezing folks in.  But it all worked out and we had a final semi-official gathering on Sunday night.  Here are a few pictures:

From left: Sharon, Donna, Jackie, Rick, Sue and Pat

We were all running around, trying to get some last photos of everyone.  Here's Jackie, snapping away!  (With jojo in the foreground.)

From left: Sharon, Donna, Jackie. (Grumpy old man in background)

Rick and Laura

Two GORGEOUS smiling women from the Old Lady Caravan: Nancy and Ellen.  (Sue and Pat in background)

Patty and jojo

Tommy and Patty

Shawn (with half of jojo on one side and half of Mary Ellen on the other side)

Handsome Tommy!

One last shot...the food was all eaten and we had to start thinking about tomorrow's travel plans.  That explains the long faces...

 

A good time was had by all!

One of the highlights of EX5 in Virginia Beach was driving over to Norfolk, VA, to enjoy a dinner cruise on The Star of Norfolk.  Thank you, Kathy, for organizing that.  I only regret not getting video of Jackie and Pops dancing!  Here are a few photos of us stuffing our faces.

From left: Mark Admin, jojo, Brenda M and Rick

From left: Mary Ellen and Sue (Rick's family friend and wife, respectively)

From left, Laura, Donna, Ellen

Nancy has such a gorgeous smile, doesn't she?

From left: Pat, Megan Admin and Laura

Tommy and Pattycake

Our Super-Star(fish), Kathy (Strudel!)

From left: Tommy, Patty, Kathy and Chris (Kathy's sister)

From left: Chris, Pops, Jackie, Jennifer

Jojo and Brenda M at the table, Sharon and Ellen in the buffet line

From left: Jim, Mark Admin, jojo, Brenda M and Rick (Sharon in the back)

From left: jojo, Brenda M and Rick

From left: Sue, Shawn and Jim

 

A GOOD TIME WAS HAD BY ALL!  Thanks again, Kathy, for making this trip so special!

One big thing is missing from my blog about the EX5 Brunch...does anyone have their postcard with the "Story of the Starfish"?   That was the MOST important thing about that entire EX5 Brunch and we need to highlight it!

 

I can't find mine!!!! Kathy, if you have any extras, please mail me one. (I'll give you my mailing address if you have one to send.).

 

If anyone still can find that amazing postcard that Kathy had printed of the Starfish story, PLEASE take a closeup picture and post it here on this blog in a BIG BOLD PHOTO.

 

Because it was that story about about the little boy making a difference, even if it was only to ONE particular starfish, that got that whole Brunch started on the amazing theme of helping each other as EXers, ON A ONE-TO-ONE basis.

 

That wonderful short story reminded us that you don't have to be a STAR here on EX to make a difference.   Everyone doesn't have to love the hell out of you here on EX.  You don't have to be an EX celebrity.   You don't have to be creative or fancy or clever or loud or funny. You MATTER if you just say one thing to one person who needs to hear what you have to say.  You can find someone you connect with during your Quit and you can be a quiet hero to that person.

 

If you say the right thing at the right time, if you can be at the right place to comment when someone needs support or love, if you can listen when someone needs to spill out their heart, if you can just BE for someone in pain, if you can help someone understand their confusion or doubt, then you have made a difference for that one person.  

 

And that one person may not ever pick up a cigarette again because they remember YOU and what you said, what you did, your words and how you held them, virtually, in your arms when they most needed it.

 

If I can know that I helped even just one person beat their nicotine addiction and I know that I made a difference to that one person's life?  Wow.

 

xxxooo,  Sky

First, let me explain that our Saturday morning meetings at EX Get-Togethers are referred to as "Brunch".  Sometimes, the venue won't allow us to serve food, so it's really more of a "Non-Brunch".  But it's always Saturday morning and there is always an agenda that includes "The Reading of the Blogs and Comments".  First time attendees read one of their first ever blogs out loud to the group.  It's usually an epiphany for the reader of how far they've come and often ends in tears of emotion.  (That's why the Brunch was originally called "The Tear Fest"!   Previous attendees read one or more of the comments they've made on other people's blogs that have really made a difference to that blogger.  Not so many tears, but lots of wisdom, gratitude, knowing nodding of heads and even some laughter.  It's a wonderful tradition we have established.  And every single attendee gets a Paper Plate Award.  They are meant to be sometimes meaningful, sometimes teasing, always fun and given in a spirit of the loving EX bonds between us.   I wish I'd taken pictures of everyone's Paper Plate Award, so if you have pictures of anyone's Paper Plate Award, please post it in the comments below.  

Thank you to Kathy (Strudel) for her hard work and her wonderful "Story of the Starfish"-themed Brunch.  She worked so hard and is so creative!  Here is her agenda for this year's Brunch.

Jojo, at her first-ever EX Get-Together.  Her Paper Plate Award was the "It's About Darn Time You Came" Award.  Behind jojo (from left) is Jennifer, Shawn and Rick (notice Rick on the phone; it's a recurring theme.  Love you, Rick!)

Jim was happier than he looks in this pic.  Needed more coffee, I guess.  In the background (from left) Mark Admin, Brenda M, Ellen (Elvan) and Pops at the far right.

The hard-working IT team of (from left) Laura (Michwoman) and Pattycake and Tommy (Pir8fan).  I think we called these folks the Audio Visual Geeks back in the 60's/70's, didn't we?   Laura and Patty made sure that the Skyping with Giulia and Dale went smoothly.  Tommy gave moral support!

Our Skype Celebrities!  Giulia on the left and Dale on the right.  At one point, Dale's eyes were closed and he wasn't answering us when we spoke to him...we thought we'd bored him to sleep!  Turns out the screen was just frozen.  It's my dream to get Dale to one of our EX Get-Togethers.  And to get Giulia back again to another one (she was at EX3 in Nashville).

Laura (Michwoman) reading her comments during "The Reading of the Blogs and Comments".  Others in the picture (from left) Jackie, Megan Admin, Pat, Nancy (wearing Tommy's hat), Tommy.  That's the back of Jim's (Freeneasy) head.

(From left) Ellen (elvan), Donna (DJ), Jackie, Nancy (wearing Pops' hat this time; she's a hat-stealer!), and Pat at the far right.  I can't fathom why no one was smiling.  I suspect it was because I took the photo during a first-time attendee tearfully reading their first blog out loud.  I guarantee you it sure wasn't because we weren't having a great time!

Pop's getting his Paper Plate Award.  He was still a few days out, but I gave him his key to The 6% Club anyway. (Over Pop's shoulder: Megan Admin and Pat)

Sharon (Shashort) receiving her Paper Plate Award for entering the The 6% Club a few days earlier.  Her key was not attached to the paper plate like Pops' key was; Sharon's key came on a string of pearls to wear around her neck!  I LOVE this picture of Sharon!  (New avatar, Sharon??)

And here's Pat receiving her 6% Club Paper Plate Award.  She had, like Sharon, attained the one-year status that gets you into The 6% Club just a few days prior to EX5.  It's hard to see in this picture, but Pat's key came on a gold braid keychain with a glittery lime green and aqua keytag that said "6%" (except that we didn't notice the wrong side was turned to the camera when we took the pic.  Oops).  Again, I'm thinking this should be Pat's new avatar, maybe?  (A smiling Megan Admin in the back).

Jim's (Freeneasy) Paper Plate Award was the "You Light Up Our Lives" Award.  Those are strings of tiny colored lights on his plate.  Just look at his grin!  Jim, you are so adorable!  See you next year, for sure, right?

(From left) Jennifer with her "925 Miles" Paper Plate Award, given because she came the furthest to attend EX5.  I think she'd say it was definitely worth the trip.  Shawn with her "What a Soft Heart" Paper Plate Award.  There is a small, very soft, furry kitty glued to her plate.  Maybe if you zoom in, you can make it out.  Rick with his Paper Plate Award.  I had to admit to the group, when giving out this last paper plate, I had run out of stickers, gimmicks and clever ideas...but one sticker that said "CRAZY!" caught my eye.  Somehow it seemed appropriate for dear Rick.  So I gave him the "You Are Crazy & We All Love You" Paper Plate Award, loaded with all the leftover stickers and plastic stuff I had left.  Forgive me, Rick.  I promise you a better Paper Plate Award next year, ok?

Here's the aftermath of creating the Paper Plate Awards.  The hotel housekeeper was truly confused.  I sent her away.

Because the hotel wouldn't allow us to serve food at the Brunch, everyone received two sparkly starfish sugar cookies on their way out the door.  I broke mine, but took a picture anyway.

Here are some better pictures of the starfish cookies.

Lastly, this is the logo on this year's t-shirts.  This is the proof sent by the embroiderer, but the actual shirts were a dark beige and the final thread color was a little less aqua, more blue.  Sand and Ocean Water color-theme, get it?

 

These Brunches are my favorite part of EX Get-Togethers.  I can't wait for EX6.  xxxooo,  Sky