I'm home and recovering from the incredible beauty and color and NOISE of Las Vegas. I'll be back, posting my tales of cross country travel and how you can't take me anywhere. And how I poured my lemon drop martini straight down the front of my shirt while groovin' to the Blue Man Group. For now, please enjoy this incredible post by my gorgeous and talented friend Belinda of Ninja Poodles. I thought long and hard about posting this - if you know me, I'm kind of uncomfortable tooting my own horn. Ultimately, though, I decided that she wrote it and wanted it said, so, there you go.
I'm honored to have been asked to fill in here while Carmen's busy in Vegas, and I'll just tell you right up front that this post is going to make her squirmy, because she's not so big on the whole ego thing, but it needs to be said, and this is the perfect place for it, so here I go!
Last week, I got to see Carmen again in New Jersey. I hadn't seen her in person since BlogHer last year in Chicago, and I was totally unprepared for how much more she had changed physically since that time, when she was already sporting quite a transformation that was darned impressive, and caused me to really pay attention to her ELFF blog. She hasn't published any new pictures of herself since that time, and I'm here to tell you, she looks different. See for yourself. It took me all of a full second to recognize her when she walked into the hotel's hospitality room, and WOW. Just because she will never say it herself, and because I want her readers to understand, let me just tell you what I saw.
This is not just a woman who's lost a lot of weight. Oh, no. This is a woman who has rolled back the clock on her life and health, and it's amazing to see. As I'm still in the infancy of what I know will be at least a year-long weight-loss process (and life-long maintenance thereafter), it's both inspiring and humbling to see what's possible on the other side. Carmen is not just "slim." She's visibly STRONG, with glowing skin, shiny hair, bright eyes, a straight, tall posture and carriage, and abundant, obvious energy. OK, so that last sentence sounded a little like I was describing a Labrador retriever puppy--sue me, I'm a dog person. It's still all true.
I won't lie. My first thought was, "Wow, I am going to look GREAT this time next year!" Because, you know, I'm always thinking of the me me ME angle, apparently. Then, as I spent time with Carmen, just chatting about our lives and laughing and decompressing after our flights, it hit me. "Oh, crap. She works HARD at this. She's not just slim, she's FIT. And THAT is what the huge difference is. CRAP."
You see, despite the fact that I know, intellectually, that this is the case, Carmen's fitness forced me to acknowledge the fact that just cutting calories and dropping pounds isn't going to achieve everything I want for myself. I'm going to have to, dag-nab and consarn it, ex-er-cise. UGH. I'm still not excited about it, but having seen what can happen? I'm a little less resistant. I'd like to roll back my odometer, too. I can't see ever taking it to the level that Carmen has--I'll be more of a 2-mile-a-day ski-walker (I call them my "dork poles," and they keep me from falling over while I walk, thankyouverymuch) than a marathon-running NINJA, which is apparently what Carmen is, but then I don't have the demands on me that she does. My one single child, so far, does not require me to have ninja skills. I'm guessing that the suspicion that your mom could likely incapacitate a Navy Seal with her bare hands is an effective deterrent to misbehavior.
And that brings us to "the thing with the kids." Oh, my, the children. I'm still grieving (maybe I always will be, in some small way) the loss of my own childbearing ability since my hysterectomy. And to be fair, it was disease that took that away from me, not the hysterectomy, but the surgery gave the whole thing a grim, heavy, echoing finality. Many of my blogging friends are the parents of anywhere from two to seven children, and the emotion I feel about their great good fortune in that regard is an ever-present companion--an aching, palpable, slightly envious admiration and sorrow at what I'm missing in not having several of my precious daughter. Because, again, everyone else's life is all about me, right? Sure. Heavens, I am tiresome.
But here is where I (finally--I know!) get to my point about Carmen, which is that, as a person, she is gracious. It's a gift, really. I don't know if she always had it, or if it's something that has been refined over a rich, full life, but the thing about the gift of grace is this: It's not just a gift that a person has, it's a gift they give to others. By all that's logical, I should be insanely jealous of Carmen--I mean, come on--she's got so much of what I want for myself, what I wish I had, and some of what I can never have. But I don't feel that way, and that is her gift to me. She is so gracious and kind, so self-effacing and funny, that I'm left simply feeling happy for her and encouraged by her. I wanted to take this opportunity to thank her for that, and to share my impressions with her readers. If you ever have the opportunity to spend time with Carmen, take it. You won't be sorry. She's a little weird about having her picture taken, and I'm sure she didn't really mean those threatening things she said to me when she made me delete the ones where she appeared to be doing some sort of ritual chicken-dance. I mean, she wouldn't actually break my arm, right? Ha, ha! Right? Man, I wish I still had those pictures.
Oh, and also? Carmen has the magical ability to make cookies appear out of nowhere. MAGIC COOKIES.