I like to treat myself. My Moma says a little too much but I work hard and I’m a relatively decent person so why shouldn’t I? This week has been especially hectic with tons of meetings and a heavier than usual workload. I needed a treat. Before I started this journey to lose a big chunk of my body, treating myself would typically have ended with a sweet treat somewhere. If I was getting a pedicure, I’d have The Picnic Cafe’s raw sugar crusted cranberry muffins. A facial, Gigi’s wedding cake cupcakes with just the right amount of almond flavoring would be calling my name. A massage, a cookie or assorted bag full from Bread and Company. A new outfit, heck I’d earned a slice of the Cheesecake Factory’s Dulche de Leche cheesecake just for having expended more calories wrangling my body in and out of ill-fitting clothes.

Today, I called Valentina, a woman who fled her homeland in search of her American dream. My sisters and I call her the skin whisperer and her skin is evidence of that, no wrinkles, no fine lines, just perfection. After examining my skin, she said in her thick Romanian accent, “today, we do hard facial”. I agreed, having absolutely no idea what she meant but knowing she was the expert. I didn’t care. I was wearing a bathrobe cocooned in warm blankets with a steam machine blowing on my face, the most relaxing way I know to spend a late Friday afternoon.

Today’s facial was a right of passage, much to my chagrin. I have now entered the stage of life where facials are no longer about relaxation and pampering but a desperate attempt to stop the aging process. In a nut shell, “hard facial” as Valentina called it means having the top few layers of skin burnt off with a substance that, while it smells like key lime pie, is more closely related to pouring gasoline on your skin and then lighting a match. Or blow torch. It was that bad.

As the acid peel continued to set my face ablaze, I went to my happy place and dreamed of the wedding cake cupcake I’d get when I left. The moist almond flavored cake covered in a mound of icing dotted with shiny white sprinkles. Yes, I had just eaten lunch, a delicious piece of salmon with a side salad and was full but this was a cupcake and there is always room for a pretty little cupcake.

The burning sensation soon ended and we moved on to the pampering part of the facial, praise the Lord. Thinking of cupcakes can only take your mind off pain for so long. When the facial ended, I hugged Valentina and thanked her for her efforts to preserve my youth with the facial she must have learned from Stalin or Hitler then headed to get my sweet treat.

Once in the car, almost simultaneously, an angel and the devil set down, one on my left shoulder and one on my right beginning their game of tug-o-war. Get the cupcake. Don’t get the cupcake. You deserve the cupcake. You deserve to be thin. It will taste so good. It won’t taste THAT good. Get it. Don’t get it. You’re not hungry. So what you’re not hungry, there’s always room for cupcakes.

As I approached the traffic light turning red, wishing the warring factions in my head would just shut up, I saw Gigi’s brightly colored sign showcasing their scrumptious morsels. I glanced in the window to see my usual after facial delight, my mouth slightly beginning to water. Then, the light changed and I drove past. Whew, that was a close one.

Psalms 34:8 O taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man that trusteth in him.