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 -
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!
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...
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!!!)
"…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