I’m Volunteering.  Gulp.

Blog Post created by SkyGirl on 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?  )