Having my blog on LBT for so long (before Blogger), I've probably crossed paths with a lot more people than we do here on Blogger (for shorter periods...they certainly come and go on LBT...a shout out to my die-hard followers...you know I love you bunches!)...probably thousands of mainly newbie Banders, most of whom rarely/never blogged, but were just like we all were when we started...reading everything they could, and asking lots of questions. I think one reason many of us continue to blog, is that at some point, we move from just getting support to seeing that we're giving it too. Sharing what I was going through, started to help others...yes, even when I was screwing things up royally (let's face it, if a rule needed to be 'tested', I was your gal...if something weird could happen...me). As my journey went on, I felt a need to 'pay-it-forward' and tried to give support and help wherever I could, as I know you have. Most of you have now blogged long enough that your story has touched someone else...whether you know it or not, trust me, it has...and the longer you blog, the more you'll hear it. I've been lucky enough to hear that in emails from others and it still always chokes me up (I still can't believe how many people have read my blog from beginning to end...heck, I wouldn't even do that!), but it's a whole other thing to hear that in person. You see, other than my Judi (if you don't know it already THANK YOU again for your blog my love...a lifeline when I Googled 'Lap-Band Pittsburgh'), who is one of my LB idols (OK, and I did once meet a LB'ed nurse at my PCP's office), I've never even met another LBer before in real life...unbelievable, huh?! I've corresponded, left comments for, even Skyped, and have received e-mails from probably thousands of LBers at this point, but two encounters, that's it in person.
So not only did I get to hear that this weekend (which brought me to tears a few times), but more importantly, I got to say it as well...and even more importantly, I witnessed it all around me over and over...and it was an amazing thing to watch. I found myself at the Meet and Greet event thanking/telling others how their blog had helped me...even in maintenance, I still find help, even in newbie's blogs (and if I missed telling that to a few of you, consider yourself thanked!). You know, it isn't always easy to put yourself out there and do this...it's one thing to say to someone you've never met...'Oh, I love your blog!'...or 'Your blog is so fun!' or 'entertaining!' But it's a whole other thing to make yourself vunerable enough to say 'I stalked your blog from the beginning and it helped me'...'so much with my journey',...or 'to get back on track'...or 'to get another fill' etc... That was the amazing part...that room on Friday, was full of acceptance and love and everyone was comfortable enough to put themselves out there and do just that.
I came to this event, especially wanting to thank Catherine. She got banded just a few days before I started my first blog and my first pre-op PCP visit....ages before I had a Blogger account or knew I could comment anonymously on Blogger (you know how tech challenged I am)...I stalked her blog for years and it helped me so very much...so I was really happy she decided to come...because she saw she was still making a difference HERE and when I saw her blog, all I could think was...shame on me for not telling her all this before, and begging her to come (how could she even think she had 'nothing new to offer after almost 3 year banded'...Whaaaaat?!).
I found myself sitting next to Kristin, and as Catherine walked in late, Kristin was brought to tears telling us how much Catherine's blog had done to help her to finally get back on track and how she'd now lost 50 lbs. (and how she'd read her blog...twice!)....of course we all encouraged her to tell Catherine, which she was planning to do, but was worried about the tears. We all got up, and I waited and watched and you know what...it was the 'ugly cry' that I was doing too as she finally got to meet her...and I'm so glad they got that moment...for me, it was the essence of the event and my favorite photos (I hope you think so too Kristin and Catherine!).
The lesson in this is that we need to tell each other these things more often, and this weekend gave us all an opportunity to do just that. I've made it a new priority to tell people what I've learned or how they've helped me (instead of my 'Great post!' comments...OK, at least not all the time LOL...I've learned that part of paying-it-forward is also paying-it-backward and saying thanks along the way...am I talking in circles yet?...OK, this all made sense in my head...I know, I know...blonde moments).
Yes, I got my moment later with Catherine, and yes, I felt like a totally star-struck fan telling her just how long I'd been stalking/reading her blog, how her approach to the Band had given me hope and help because I wanted to use the same approach (choices people...you CAN still love good food), and how even her life/BF issues (love the adorable Steve) have been paralleling my DD's and had given me help in talking to her about it. I really loved finally being able to say 'thank you' in person (that's just another gift you gave me Catherine!).
The very lovely Justine who came all the way across the pond, me, and Catherine.
This weekend gave me the opportunity to make those personal connections, so that I've not only made great friendships, but I'm better able to both give and get the support we all continue to need.
Oh, and of course, there was more Friday night antics as a group of us went to see a late comedy show at 'Second City'...here's a few of the group (I don't think I've introduced the beautiful Amey, bottom left, yet). Thanks so much Steph (sorry you weren't in the pic) for setting this up!
More fun coming...bwahaha...
*NOTE: No more thank you's here please (love you Lisa)...I'm the one saying thank you this time!