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Back to School Juice Cleanse and Other Ill-Timed Bad Decisions

Sometimes I make bad decisions, particularly when the stakes are high. Like say, deciding to do my first juice cleanse on the week that–A: the kids go back to school; B: I’m planning and hosting a friend’s baby shower; C: the house is nowhere near back in shape after a summer away (2 of 3 suitcases unpacked). I think I was in one of those Richard Simmons gung-ho “We’re going to be the BEST versions of ourselves when we get home!” modes when I ordered the cleanse from a hotel room in Louisville on the way home. Also, it was the morning after I danced with the pasta and bread gods in a glorious end-of-summer Carbohydrate Celebration. Whatever the case, I found a Groupon coupon and felt really empowered to click “order” on a juice cleanse that promised to leave me feeling “unhindered” and “glowing” after a pasta night that left me all hindered and dull. “YES!” I thought. “Unhindered! Glowing! Detoxified! Energized! YES, YES! That’s what I want. 3 days of juices and nothing else? No problem, I LOVE juice.” For the record, you don’t know how bad I currently want to smack that little optimistic bitch of a past self in her bread-stuffed face.

Let’s start with the fact that it’s 5:00 in the morning and I’m up writing because my head hurts so bad, I couldn’t sleep. Well, that and the dog was walking around my bedroom in the dark and from the sound of her toenails on the wood floors, she was either pacing for water or auditioning for Riverdance–equally important, so I got up to help her and pop some Ibuprofen which I’m sure isn’t in the allowed substances of a proper juice cleanse, but neither is the half pound burger I plan on eating later today, so whatever.

If you haven’t guessed yet, here’s the punchline: I’m hungry, and I’m not very nice–which leaves Brett in a very vulnerable position. And it all started when the refrigerated box arrived.

“What’s that?” he asked as I removed each juice and shoved a heap of weird condiments aside in our already disorganized refrigerator to make room for my beautiful display of colorful juice bottles–a section that now rendered my fridge more organized than it’s ever been.

I took his question as a dig, naturally.

“You know, that cleanse,” I muttered under my breath, lining up my bottles a little more intently so he’d see I was far too busy in important work to discuss this further.

“That what?” he asked.

Aw hell naw. The make-me-repeat-it game. I know this one.

“I told you about this last week,” I answered before I launched in a healthier-than-thou explanation of my intentions. After of which he smiled and walked away which–given a good ten minutes to create a fake conversation in my head of words that followed–I fully equated with laughing and telling me I’m ridiculous and won’t make the three days.

“I’ll prove you wrong!,” I yelled in the conversation-that-never-happened in my head. “I’m going to feel so good! You’re going to go crawling to that online juice store!”

Apparently, the hungrier you are the more irrational these silly arguments get because last night Brett overheard me ask Lainey what she wanted in her lunch today and he chimed in, “I know what she wants. She wants a snake sandwich, right Binks?”–the same joke he’s been saying since she was two and uttered her first “I’m hungry” except sometimes “snake” gets switched out for “alligator” or “raccoon” and also it’s not usually said in front of a wife who’s Googled how a few sips of chicken broth might affect the efficiency of a juice cleanse because she’s that hungry. After Lainey graciously smiled at her dad and walked away, I snapped.

“She’s too old for that joke, Brett. Did you see her smile? She’s trying to be nice. She’s in FOURTH GRADE. She’s over it.”

I know, I know, a real gem of a supportive wife, right? Listen, I was hungry. Also, I have a thing about repeated dumb jokes after years of my childhood family doctor looking at my sore throat, pulling his prescription pad out and saying every. damn. time: “Well, I can do one of two things–give you some meds for that or take you out back and shoot you.” And he’d slap his knee and guffaw while I awkward laughed and wondered–even at the ripe ole age of 9–when I’d summon the courage to gently inform him it’s not funny anymore because he had used it up on, like, the 6 sore throats before that one.

The fact is, I timed this very poorly. Which I have a record of. Especially during stressful weeks. And to prove that, I’m going to present to you a small list of ill-timed bad decisions I’ve made during weeks when the important life-altering to-do list was heavy, and time to do those things was scarce.

1. Line up all of the girls’ dolls and clean the marker stains off their faces with acetone–of course, when their room is trashed and our laundry pile alert level is at VERY HIGH. Priorities: dolls deserve clean faces too. (*note: don’t use acetone unless you plan on also removing painted on freckles and fake blush).
2. Alphabetically organize my spices.
3. Spend 20 minutes designing and ordering personalized bookplates for my kids’ books even though they never leave the house and “this book belongs to” is pretty obvious when you pick it up off their bedroom floor.
4. Sew buttons on that one shirt I’m never going to wear anyways.
5. Clean the soot stains off all my glass candle holders.
6. Start painting a room with no intentions of finishing it.
7. Go through all my nail polish bottles to throw out any that have dried up.
8. Check all my rugs for stray yarn and clip accordingly.
9. Overhaul the catch-all shelf above the washer and dryer, but like, only half way. Like take everything off the shelves and leave it on the floor and then don’t come back to put it all away.
10. Create a new hobby like home brewing or bonsai tree collecting and research it extensively.

The answer is yes. Yes, these are escapes. Yes, I’m too smart not to recognize that there is no easy way out of the hard mundane work of life and that there is nothing that will make you feel better except doing the work–not even things that promise to unhinder and make you glow. You cannot escape good, satisfying hard work by cleaning marker off dolls’ faces or drinking pressed celery for three days. You have to answer the e-mails, do the laundry, wash the dishes, unpack the suitcase, put the running shoes on, get out the door, face the resistance, do the hard things, accept that the good things in life cannot come without the hard work to get there and that that’s what makes them good. It takes time and patience and a lot of self acceptance. The “Best Versions of Ourselves” do not glisten in an oasis of tomorrow but in the glittering opportunities this present day holds. And it probably doesn’t involve snapping at your husband for an attempt to make his kid laugh.

I’m not too hungry to tell Brett I’m sorry and that I know our kid will love rolling her eyes when we ask her where she wants to go to dinner for her thirtieth birthday someday, and her dad says “I know–how about the Snake Buffet?” Now that I think of it, I hope he never stops using that joke. I love it.

As for the juice cleanse, I’m still in it to win it–maybe now just to prove to myself and my husband that I can finish this off. But I am perfectly open to a “valiant effort” badge when I quite possibly give in for, at the very least, a handful of Pirate Booty come witching hour tonight. The good hard work of today awaits.


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  1. Your honesty, and hilarity, make me so happy!

  2. This was just what I needed to read this morning, Kelle. I am currently on mat leave with my daughter who will be starting daycare in two weeks when I go back to work. I have been able to distract myself from this (somewhat) because we are moving house …5 days before I head back to work. You know, just to keep things interesting.
    As I sit here surrounded by a mountain of laundry, partially-filled moving boxes, and just general unholy mess (why clean when we’re moving so soon anyway?!) I appreciate this reminder that things need to get done and bigger, scarier and more stressful things do not disappear just because I choose to sit on my couch rather than address all that needs to be done. As always, thanks for your candour and your humour. I’m off to pack!

    • Sister, we can do it together! As you pack and clean and get things done today, think of us doing it together! Like a secret club. We’re going to do it!

  3. Best of luck to you with that cleanse, my friend. As always, thanks for your beautiful words. I’ve got some hard things that need done… Things that can’t be avoided by cleaning or painting or doll-face touching up, and I needed to hear your spot-on thoughts!!! I raise my juice glass to yours! ***clink*** Cheers to time, patience, and self acceptance.

  4. As someone who has suffered through a stupid cleanse (never again), I feel your pain and your hangriness :). Love this post- can totally relate in so many ways!! :)

  5. Hahaha, this was so funny and so true!! I am a pro at starting new projects when I should be completing other things!!

    And Brett’s dad-joke reminds me of a “joke” my mom told me nearly every day of school from about 3rd-12th grade (and still every now and then) – I’d be heading out the door and she’d always holler “Don’t beat anybody up!”

    And thank you, because now you’ve motivated me to actually get going on organizing my gradebooks!

  6. Love this. I too have had to make those ‘sorry i was an asshole’ apologies. There’s a shirt at thuglife shirts . com that reads ‘sorry for what i said when i was hungry’ and i may need to get it, just to cover my bases in the future. My sister is the queen of finding one ridiculous project to focus on when there are a million other things to do – but i’ll be damned if that junk drawer isn’t perfectly organized! nevermind the sticky countertops. The two of you may be soul sisters. good luck with the rest of the cleanse! you may be ready for a snake sandwich by the end…

  7. Starting back to school is kicking my butt this time around to say the least! We just moved at the start of the summer and I am still drowning in unopened boxes (Look how I say we just moved like it was yesterday instead of almost 3 months ago!! HA!) Anyways, thanks for the mental break and laugh! I appreciate it! TGIF!!!!!

  8. I just wanna say I feel ya on the doing the little things that don’t matter to avoid the hard things that can change your life. I’m working through that right now. I hope you have a truly productive day! You can do it! Juice and all.

    And the snake sandwich thing? My daddy used to do that with me and my sister. We would roll our eyes and laugh. He does it with his grandkids and great-grandkids now. It’s one of the favorite things about my daddy that I love to this day. He will make you laugh or else be so corny you can’t help but laugh. His favorite thing to do with us was stop the old station wagon on the way to the dump right beside some ripe road kill. “Whatdaya say, girls? How about some possum stew for supper!” We’d be gagging and screaming through our clinched fingers, trying not to suffocate while he would laugh and slowly roll off down the road. It’s something we will always love about Daddy. Lainey will love telling that story about her daddy. Love it!

  9. OMG! I tried this once after starting a new job where every minute away from my desk was tracked. BAAAAADDD idea!!! 😂😂😂

  10. My husband does these cleanses for 21 days! 😨He says the first three days are the hardest, with brain for and irritability but after a week clarity, and glow and health. I always think he’s crazy but you can do it! For him, it resets his eating habits and jumpstarts weight loss but he’s difficult to be around that first few days. None the less, your humor is still in tact and your humility. When the work load of life gets us down, the instinct is flight. So much more satisfying to fight though and see the fruition of that hard work.

  11. Kelle – great post. I completely relate and am in a melancholic funk of my own since returning from the Northwoods for the summer. Clinging to our fantasy summers through procrastination is necessary – I spent an entire day in bed, pining for loon calls and slapping water against the dock.. And as for the diet cleanses (I’m in the midst of one of my own), it’s our masochistic way of putting ourselves “first” as we face the bold harsh realities in life, proving to ourselves we can do anything, then wondering what in the fresh hell were we thinking? But rather than shipping off my sweet daughter to kindergarten, I’m dropping her off at college soon. We can do it! Onward!

  12. Have you ever thought of starting an advice column? Your writing is so honest yet positive and reassuring, and I want your take on my parenting struggles!

  13. Loved this!!!! Thanks for being so real and honest. :)

  14. Stephanie says:

    I totally get it! I am the queen of distraction right now. I’m almost 38 weeks pregnant and we close on a new house in less than two weeks, so with these huge life events looming, what am I doing? Not packing. Not washing baby clothes. Not buying the new car seat we need. I am refinishing furniture! Yes–sanding, painting, sealing–all of that good stuff. And not even for the nursery, since we don’t know the gender of our expected newborn. I keep telling myself I’ve got to face up to it all! And then I just laugh and keep painting. I expect reality to hit this weekend full-force, but luckily my dresser will at least be cute! Thanks for your post and helping me feel not so alone in my insanity right now!

    • YES. I’m almost 38 weeks pregnant and I always refinish furniture when I should be doing other things! I love it! :)

  15. CatheRine says:

    You’ve got to write while hungry more often. #9 on you’re list had me laughing so hard I woke my son up out of sleep! Thank you for the laughs! We’ve all been there!

  16. I really needed this “get your tush off couch!” wake up call. Thank you and today will be productive!

  17. Over the past weeks I read your blog from beginning (skipped a bit in the middle) to the current post. Can I just say you have three of the most gorgeous kids I’ve ever seen?! And, I love your reality, your openness, your love, your entertaining, decorating, crafts. I love it all. I especially love Nella because I also have a special needs child, except mine is 20 – adopted from Romania at age 15 months along with a Fetal Alcohol Diagnosis. And it’s been the hardest 20 years of my (63-year) life. I love her with all my heart, but it’s been hard and still is hard. Medication rocks, that’s all I can say – for her and now for me. Love you, Kelle, and all your kids, and look forward to upcoming posts.

  18. Hilariously real and raw. So fun to read. This also confirms I never want to do a juice cleanse. Thanks for the meaningful insight! Ha!

  19. Omg Kelle! This post is totally relatable! I know so many instances in my life when some words just escape from my mouth when I’m hungry. This post is really fun to read!

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