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Strudel Blog

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Update on Holly and Monet

Posted by Strudel Sep 23, 2018

I last reported that I had adopted a new cat. Her name is Monet and my other cat, Holly, took her time deciding to be nice to Monet! But - the patience Monet (and I) showed paid off!! Holly has finally decided that Monet is her pal! Here are some pictures. (Holly has not just swallowed a bowling ball! But - she is a little chubby - she came to me that way and is on a perpetual diet! Many of us can relate to that!) 

How does this tie into quitting - sticking to it and being patient pays off! You can do it! (For a while there - I didn't think Holly would ever learn to change her ways and be nice to Monet! But, it happened!) 

Congrats to all



Bird Watching! 


Holly and I have a new friend

Posted by Strudel Jul 23, 2018

As many of you know, one of my cats - my dearest Tootsie - died several week ago. I miss her so much - I still wake in the middle of the night and have that momentary feeling where you have forgotten such a sad event....and you have to that heart pain of remembering once again. I sleep on my side and she often slept on my hip - I miss that too! Mostly I miss her sweet and loving nature. What a cat! 


I have always enjoyed the company of more than one part for me - and I also like the thought of Holly having a pal when I am away. At one point several years ago, I had 2 cats and 2 dogs - I have down sized from that and now limit myself to 2! 


Since I quit smoking 8 years ago, I have lost 5 pets. Four of them were relatively older pets, close in age, when I quit smoking. The idea of losing one of them was my "what if" question when thinking about quitting smoking and then being faced with a terrible challenge. I knew that for me, the death of a dear pet would bring a deep pain and I wanted to consider ahead of time how I would handle that as a non-smoker. Each time it has happened in the years since - smoking has never occurred to me. It is so important to realize that smoking NEVER GAVE US ANYTHING! I convinced myself of that and it made such a difference when faced with the challenges life can throw at us. 


I have recently adopted Monet from a local rescue. (Please see pictures, a few of Monet and one of her with her kittens - they called them "Monet's Minis"!) She is lovely! She is considered a "dilute tortie" due to the muted colors. (It is a genetic mutation.) The rescue folks felt that her dilute colors reminded them of a muted painting by Monet - thus her name! I liked it, so I am keeping it. She was rescued in March from a shelter - but then they discovered she was pregnant. She had her 5 kittens while in a foster home and then was ready for adoption after the kittens were weaned. 


It is a work in progress, as far as Holly goes. I am taking it slow....we are up to supervised visits. There is a bit of hissing - but so far, things seems to be going well. Monet and I know that Holly will soon love her new friend! (Monet has a lovely temperament and is ignoring Holly when she is rude!) 

So - I had to share! Meet Monet......


Thank you to Missy!

Posted by Strudel Jul 1, 2018

Yesterday I received the sketch in the mail that Missy Mandolinrain had done of my dear Tootise. It is amazing - and so is she for doing such a beautiful thing for someone she has never met. I have always been truly astounded by this place and the wonderful people we meet here! It is so powerful! 


I have attached a picture of the framed (she framed it too!!) sketch she created. Plus another picture of Tootsie. (Also one my sweetie Holly who misses her "sister kitty" too.) Tootsie had a special vulnerable, soft, gentle look in her eyes and I think that Missy captured that so very well....which means she captured her spirit! 


Tootsie's ashes are now buried in my back patio garden - with a stone that says "When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure." I have many ways to hold her in my heart - including the very special gift from Missy! Thank you! 


Yesterday, my dear, sweet cat, Tootsie went to the Rainbow Bridge. (She is the one on the left in my avatar pic.) She was about 9 and was diagnosed with congestive heart failure over a year ago. She recovered, went on medication and managed to do well for quite a while. She was on many medications and they began to take their toll. Recently she began to have more and more issues and I felt that the quality of her life was just not good. The vet and I decided yesterday that it was time to let her go. She was such a special, gentle cat! I will miss her so much. I am thankful that my other cat, Holly, is here! 

Despite being very upset, it never even crossed my mind to smoke. I know, without any doubt, that smoking would give me nothing! My sadness is something I will just have to get through - I can't go around it, I can't avoid it - I will just need to move ahead. 

The poem below is one I have shared with others before...I love it. I found it when my cat, Scooter, died 6 years ago. 


Poem For Cats


And God asked the feline spirit
Are you ready to come home?
Oh, yes, quite so, replied the precious soul
And, as a cat, you know I am most able
To decide anything for myself.

Are you coming then? asked God.
Soon, replied the whiskered angel
But I must come slowly
For my human friends are troubled
For you see, they need me, quite certainly.

But don't they understand? asked God
That you'll never leave them?
That your souls are intertwined. For all eternity?
That nothing is created or destroyed?
It just is....forever and ever and ever.

Eventually they will understand,
Replied the glorious cat
For I will whisper into their hearts
That I am always with them
I just am....forever and ever and ever.


(Author unknown) 


Eight years and firing squads

Posted by Strudel Jun 12, 2018

Thank you to JACKIE1-25-15 for her very sweet blog and for the great ride on the Freedom Train. I am celebrating my 8 year anniversary today! And trust me - I celebrate each and every day!


As I started my guit on June 12, 2010, I wasn't sure about 8 hours...or 8 days! But, the support here made me believe that after 40 years, it was possible to quit! That support made the difference and to this day - I thank the folks who were here when I arrived and who gave me that support! And - as amazing as it may sound - so many of those beautiful people are STILL HERE - helping others. As I often say, that is the power of this place! 


When I was starting my quit, I heard a few people in my real life say that they had quit "years ago" - but that they still wanted a cigarette every once in a while. That alarmed and worried me - I wanted total freedom - I wanted to truly believe that smoking never gave me anything of value and that I never wanted to smoke again. That was a lofty goal! But, I really believed that unless I knew in my heart that I didn't want to smoke - eventually I might go back. The image from old movies of someone facing a firing squad and being given a "last cigarette" came into my mind. I wanted to reach a point when I would TURN DOWN that cigarette! That even when faced with that final moment - knowing that it wouldn't make a difference - I would still realize that N.O.P.E. (Not One Puff Ever) was the only way to live, or die! At first, early in my quit, as I imaginied this scenario - I couldn't picture turning down that final cigarette. I continued to work at it - I continued to unbrainwash my mind so that I would truly KNOW that smoking never gave me a darn thing. It took a while - but, it happened! 


Again - thank you to all of you who were here when I arrived in June of 2010 - and to all of you who have come here since - we all make this community what it is - and each of you make a difference in my quit! 


PS - Last Year, I mentioned my bracelet I purchased early in my quit. I just added a new bead! Also - notice the charm in the middle - a butterfly - such a perfect symbol for our FREEDOM! 

The community has voted to go on a cruise this year as our EX6.1 event. We are now ready to pick a cruise and date. Please see the POLL at - CRUISE AND DATE CHOICE  and cast your vote if you are considering attending! (Hopefully there will also be a west coast event - EX6.2. More on that in the future.) Thanks! 


Last Chance!

Posted by Strudel Nov 10, 2017

The poll to vote on the destination for EX 6.1 will be closing after tomorrow (Saturday). Please see the poll at -EX 6.1 Destination  . Please VOTE if you are considering attending the next EX gathering! 


If you don't  know about our gatherings - please check out some of my previous blogs. 


(There will also be a West Coast gathering (EX 6.2) - more info on that to come in the future from SkyGirl
Thanks also to dear pir8fan for the work he did to get us info about cruises! )




Remember to VOTE - EX 6

Posted by Strudel Nov 4, 2017

Remember to vote!!
We will soon be gathering once again as friends - made here at EX. We have been gathering since 2013. That year we met in Las Vegas. Many of us have attended every year since then – 2014 in Orlando, 2015 in Nashville, and then 2016 returning to Las Vegas. In 2017, we met in Virginia Beach, VA. These are informal gatherings of EX'ers -and the experience is amazing! 

We are hoping to get as many “new “attendees as possible this year! We have all bonded and made lifetime friends – so many of us are attending for the sixth time! However, we want to meet YOU!!! This is not only a wonderful way to meet folks from the site, put faces to avatars, thank those who have helped you along the way, have others thank you for your contributions here – it is also a perfect way to cement your quit!


We are now ready for folks to vote on a location for EX6.1. Please see the poll located at  EX 6.1 Destination  . Please ONLY VOTE if you are seriously considering attending the next EX gathering! The poll will be open for several one more week. (You are not committing to going - we just want to make sure we are getting input from folks who might actually consider coming!)


There will also be a West Coast gathering (EX 6.2) - more info on that to come in the future from SkyGirl.
Thanks also to dear pir8fan for the work he did to get us info about cruises! 




I'm back!

Posted by Strudel Sep 22, 2017

Greetings friends - I am finally back! We returned on Tuesday evening from our trip to Ireland, Wales, and England. (I had some activities on Wednesday and Thursday evenings - so I didn't get to come here.)

My sister and I had an unbelievable trip - truly a trip of a lifetime! Most of the time was spent in Ireland and since that is where our roots are - it was the most special! While standing looking out at the spectacular view of the Cliffs of Moher and listening the "Danny Boy" on my phone, I was crying - it was amazing! Then, while touring Waterford Crystal factory, the guide asked me if I had Irish ancestry and I said yes. He got a big grin on his face and said - so sincerely - "Welcome home!" Another wonderful moment! 

I will post some pictures below.....I missed you guys! Pics are - Cliffs of Moher, Chris and I at Stonehenge, Ross Castle near Killarney, and Chris and I at Ring of Kerry 


Cliffs of Moher


Heading to Ireland

Posted by Strudel Sep 6, 2017

I am leaving on a big trip on this Friday. I will return on September 19th. This is my first international trip and I am very excited! My sister, Chris, and I are going to Ireland! (Some of the EX gathering attendees have met my sister.)


Our roots are primarily Irish (confirmed with a recent DNA check - I a, 90% Irish!) and we have wanted to travel there for a long time. When our dad passed away about three years ago, we decided to save the small life insurance money we received and put it towards this adventure. So, about a year ago we began planning. 


As a smoker, I would never have considered such a trip. So - this is amazing! I will admit, I am a bit anxious (mainly about leaving my 2 fur "babies") - but, nothing like I would be feeling if faced with being on a plane for several hours as a smoker! Not to mention all the other times that not smoking would be an issue as we travelled. Freedom will make this trip extra special! 


I am sending thoughts and prayers for all all of those in the path of Irma. Actually, since I live in NC - there may be some problems here depending on the track. (Another thing to worry about while I am gone....but, I have a great pet sitter and hopefully my home will be okay.) Everyone in the path - please take care 


So, I may not be here as much as usual in the next few weeks....just wanted to let you know! I will try to send a few pics along the way! (We will be in Ireland, Wales, and then England.) Take care all! 




Seven Years!

Posted by Strudel Jun 12, 2017

Thank you to everyone who has helped me celebrate today! My quit still amazes me - and I celebrate each and every day! I attribute being successful to several things - the reading I did to prepare (Carr's book - - and, the medication I took (Welbutrin) - but, the biggest thing was the SUPPORT here!! There were people here who convinced me that this could actually be done! After 40 years of smoking - I wasn't sure and it is still such a powerful thing to me - that the words of others who have accomplished this - could mean so very much and make such a difference! You see, when I first came here, I was one of those who thought "I will give this a try...", "I will give it my best shot...". I quickly found out from listening to the wise voices here - voices from people who had walked the walk - that this wasn't about trying - this was about about doing, and that I could indeed do it!


And you know what is also amazing - many of those people are STILL here helping people! Thank you to those people and to so many others - including those who have come along in more recent times. Your journey helps me on my journey! That, as I have said before, is the beauty and power of this place! 


Many, with new quits, may feel that 7 years is beyond even imagining - I share with you some words I wrote on Day 6 -  

"I am more than half way through day 6. I can't believe it! After 40 years of smoking - I never imagined being free! I realize I have a long road ahead...but I feel confident. I must thank the folks who blog here - when I discovered this site, I really thought it was pretty hopeless to imagine quitting after so many years. Then I saw so many of your stories of success after 10, 20, 30, and yes, even 40 years! I truly believe that is what gave me courage to get past my fear and do this!
On the last day I smoked (last Saturday) I made a conscious effort to take notice of all of my feelings. So many feelings came up during the day – irritation, frustration, fear, boredom, and joy – every emotion you can imagine in a typical day. The point here is I was SMOKING during all of those feelings – it didn’t prevent me from feeling frustrated or irritated or scared, etc. I keep remembering that during the past 6 days - each challenge that pops up I remind myself that smoking didn't stop me from getting frustrated, irritated, or anything else - it didn't enhance good feelings either - I just thought it was doing all of that! I swear it truly feels like I’m in the middle of a beautiful dream!"


The dream continues!! Thank you ALL


(The attached picture is of a bracelet I bought for myself at year 3 - I add a bead each year! Please - find a special way to celebrate your quit!)


EX5 - What a weekend!

Posted by Strudel May 30, 2017

23 people gathered in Virginia Beach, VA from May 18th  until May 22nd. We had a blast! The banner picture above was taken by my sister Chris (so she is missing from it) following our dinner cruise on May 20th. That number included 18 EX'ers, 3 guests (Chris, Rick's wife Sue and their friend Mary Ellen), and 2 administrators (Mark and EXProductManager - Megan). We had a total of 27,702 days quit as of that Saturday!!! 


My sister and I drove from NC on Friday. (She lives in Denver, CO and had flown into Greensboro the day before. She quit 30 years ago and although not a member on the site - I consider her an honorary member for sure!) This was my 5th EX gathering and for Chris it was number 3! 


We arrived Friday afternoon and immediately began finding EX folks - in the lobby, outside the restuarant, and by the outdoor pool! It was truly the feeling of a family reunion, as Donna (djmurray_12-31-14) said ! Here is the poster of each EX member with their avatar - There was SkyGirl Jennifer-Quit-05-01-14 JACKIE1-25-15 Brenda_M shashort Pops Youngatheart.7.4.12 djmurray_12-31-14 freeneasy Patty-cake Strudel jojo_2-24-11 elvan Michwoman pir8fan plug66 ShawnP Rick_M andMark EXProductManager



It was a reunion in the sense that I knew many of the folks there. However, we also had 7 FIRST TIMERS! How wonderful to meet Jennifer-Quit-05-01-14 Brenda_M Pops shashort plug66  @jojo_2-24-11 and JACKIE1-25-15 - along with a new admin attendee - EXProductManager !! 


Here are a few pictures from dinner that night at the hotel's restaurant - 

elvan (What is she thinking???!!) And pir8fan with Jennifer-Quit-05-01-14 and Brenda_M


Pops with ShawnP


On after dinner, several of us listened to the Beach Music  - The Embers - down on the sand! Here are freeneasy Michwoman and Patty-cake


And - Chris and I being photobombed byjojo_2-24-11 !!




On Saturday Morning we had our "gathering". I shared the Starfish Story - which SkyGirl has already mentioned. In case you missed her blog - here is the story - 



YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE!!!  That was the idea - that we EACH make a difference here! It may feel overwhelming at times - in terms of trying to help others. However, in my opinion, helping even one person - is well worth it!! So - to those who attended - and to all of the many others here - WE EACH MAKE A DIFFERENCE! 

Here is the poster that listed just some of the things we do to make that difference - 

SkyGirl did a wonderful job on the "Reading of the Blogs" - also know as "The Tear Fest!" on Saturday - and her "Paper Plate Awards" were a big hit - as always! Check out her blogs about it -  Photos from EX5 Brunch in Virginia Beach  and -There's something missing from my EX5 Brunch photo post... 


On Saturday evening we went on the dinner cruise - great fun! Dinner was delicious and it was so cool to watch Pops and JACKIE1-25-15 dance!! 

Here we all are (except for Chris) after the cruise - 


On Sunday, after breakfast, we walked along the beach - although it was quite chilly! We did some shopping along Atlantic Blvd. also. Everyone did there own thing early in the day - but we often ran into each other as we moved around Virginia Beach! That afternoon, several of us got together at SkyGirl 's direction for the The First Annual Water Balloon Toss (at EX5 in Virginia Beach) - Check it out if you haven't already!! SO MUCH FUN!! And, notice - it says "FIRST ANNUAL....." - so expect that to happen at EX6!! 

Sunday evening the 18 or so folks who remained all went out to dinner at "Murphy's Irish Pub". As I looked around the table, I was reminded once again - what an amazing thing!!! That so many people, from so many different places and backgrounds could come together in this way! I will end with something I have shared at EX4 and EX5. It was written by Tommy (pir8fan ) as a comment to Jennifer (Jennifer-Quit-05-01-14) right before EX4. (She couldn't make it last year - so HAPPY that she was at EX5!!!)


Tommy wrote:

"…There is no way to put in words the feeling of watching the avatars come to life! It is so awesome to hug the people who have helped you reclaim your life! You meet people who seem to be your polar opposite, yet you are forever bound by the fact that you share a great accomplishment! You Quit Smoking! You took back those fleeting moments of life that you would have missed because you were off feeding your addiction when something wonderful was happening!

So many of us came to this site with no thought of how important the residents of this community would become in our lives! But, it did not take long to understand! At first we never gave a thought to actually meeting these cyber voices! But they became real people, and then real friends! And, one day you should meet the people that, in many cases, cared more about you than you did about yourself! Did someone say something that sparked your self-respect? Did someone show up for you when you thought no one was there? Did someone change your life for the better? You should meet them! They are the distributors of "Collateral Kindness"! They helped themselves while helping you! You have a bond! You should try to see them!...............Coming to one of these get-togethers will be a time that you will never forget! I promise!"  ~~ Tommy    




You can still attend EX5!

Posted by Strudel Apr 18, 2017

We have recently had someone who needed to change their plans about attending EX5. (Due to a change in her family's schedule, she can no longer attend.) She has not cancelled her hotel room yet. Since the hotel is all booked up at this point, we would like to see if anyone is interested before she cancels. (This happened with another member and working with the hotel, we were able to transfer the reservation.) 

The EX5 gathering is the weekend of May 19th - 21st in Virginia Beach, VA. If you haven't heard about it - please check out the page at EX Weekend | 2017 | Virginia Beach, VA  . (The page includes pictures from our 4 previous gatherings!)

We currently have about 20 EX'ers attending and we would love to add some more! Please let me know if you are interested in the room. She will soon need to cancel it - so this is a limited time offer! I promise - you will have a blast! 

We will soon be gathering once again as friends - made here at EX. We have been gathering since 2013. That year we met in Las Vegas. Many of us have attended every year since then – 2014 in Orlando, 2015 in Nashville, and then 2016 returning to Las Vegas!


We are hoping to get as many “new “attendees as possible this year! We have all bonded and made lifetime friends – so many of us are attending for the fifth time! However, we want to meet YOU!!! This is not only a wonderful way to meet folks from the site, put faces to avatars, thank those who have helped you along the way, have others thank you for your contributions here – it is also a perfect way to cement your quit!   


You need to begin to plan NOW! Hotels at the beach fill up fast in the spring! Please – go ahead and make your reservations. (See hotel info on group page.) You can call the hotel directly, identify yourself as from the group “Become An EX” - and you should be able to reserve a room that way. (See additional instructions on the Group site –


If you have already decided to attend – please indicate that on the group page. Thanks!

(You can also book rooms on your favorite travel site. The discount we got was merely a typical discount similar to AAA or AARP. Also – consider sharing a room – which will help with expenses! Also – certainly feel free to stay at any hotel in the Virginia Beach area.) 


If you will be flying – fly into Norfolk, VA. That is about 20 minutes from the hotel. You will then have the option of renting a car, taking a shuttle, getting Uber, or one of the folks who has a car may be able to pick you up depending on your arrival. 


Kathy and Laura (Strudel and Michwoman) – Let us know if you have questions or concerns.

Picture taken at last year's gathering in Las Vegas! You can see pictures from each of the previous gatherings at


EX4 Las Vegas!




Strudel Archived Profile

Posted by Strudel Jan 23, 2017







I live in Greensboro, North Carolina. I have 2 cats - see pics below.  I love to travel, spend time with family and friends, read, go to the YMCA, and walk. I am a retired special education teacher. I retired in 2004 and then taught part-time until 2013. Also, I enjoy volunteering for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

I quit smoking on June 12, 2010 after smoking for 40 years! I am amazed daily - still - by the glory of freedom! 


To prepare for my quit I did a lot of reading - I read blogs here, the free course at: and Carr's "Easy Way to Stop Smoking" -


List of Elders -

photo 9d169130-a5e5-49c9-ad0c-a83d8a106c15_zpsa4ddf818.jpg






Brief Description

My name is Kathy. I am a retired special education teacher. I smoked for 40 years. My Quit Date: 6/12/2010 10:30 PM



greensboro, nc


No interests in profile.


No skills in profile.