An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

If anyone mentions cheese pizza I may just have to take up violence

Oh, Florida.


Yesterday morning life hit us like a searing laser of Utah sun at 4:30 AM when Coco began howling wildly to be let out of her crate. We were still high from the smell of salt and sea, our bellies still full of fried everything, our minds still as calm as the line of the horizon over the ocean, so it was a bit of a jolt. An unwelcome jolt. A knife to the eye. A kick in the shin. And before I retrieved that dog from her crate I said aloud something Leta had cried out as I put her to bed the night before: “Why can’t every day be Florida?”

Turns out there was nothing wrong with Coco, and she didn’t even have to empty her bladder. In fact, I think she was expecting some sort of celebration to be waiting for her on the outside of her crate. Her bat mitzvah, perhaps. Where were the balloons? The finger food? The Journey cover band? On and off the bed she jumped, her wet snout in and out of our ears. I let her outside to release her energy, but she stood outside and barked at the door. This went on for two hours. And just as she was about to settle down Leta woke up. OF COURSE LETA WOKE UP. You saw that coming before I even said it, didn’t you? It is a special rule of logic that only applies to parents: if a) you have a child then b) that kid will wake up just as you are falling back to sleep unless c) they are staying with Grandmommy. And if c) is true then you will have stuffed that kid with coffee and chocolate right up until you said, “Be good! See you tomorrow!” Because d) it’s the only way to get back at your mother for introducing your kid to Barney.

This morning Coco slept in until 6:00 AM, except when Jon let her out of her crate she was covered in diarrhea. He could smell it, but because Jon cannot see without the aid of an astro telescope, he did not notice her tracking it through our bedroom, down the hallway where we discovered poo all over the wall, and out the back door. I followed her outside where she hunched over, grimaced, and puked for over 20 minutes. I then spent the next hour bathing her while Jon cleaned up the crate and the fragrant, candied path through our bedroom. When Leta woke up and saw the handful of wet spots where Jon had scrubbed the floor with Nature’s Miracle, she put both arms on her hips, glared disappointedly down the hallway and asked, “Did that dog pee a lot of times?”

I said, no, that’s not pee, but she ignored me, counted each wet spot and informed me, “Eleven. She peed eleven times.” Thank, you, Leta for gathering such detailed data, although I’m not going to be impressed until you’ve shown me some charts.

Jon is currently in bed with a sinus infection (yes, I know, neti pot, he uses one routinely, we think there is a bigger problem), and it’s taken me a few days to catch up with everything that needs to be done when a family returns from a long vacation. Things like having to walk around the pile of laundry, all the energy burned from having to step over the suitcase that still needs to be unpacked. My friend, Cami, took care of our house, fed Lou, and watered all of my plants while we were away, and she said yesterday that the first time she walked into our house it looked like a bulldozer had dumped a landfill in our living room. And I was all, Cami, we were lucky to make it out of the house without killing each other, and even then we almost missed our plane. So if you’re surprised that I would leave my house in such a condition then you can’t be upset when I tell you to suck it.

Yesterday was also the first day of a 21-day diet cleanse that I’ve decided to do that prohibits me from eating any sugar, gluten, caffeine, alcohol, or animal products. It’s the same cleanse that Oprah did, and when I read about how it was making her feel I became intrigued, bought the book that inspired it, Quantum Wellness, and decided immediately it was exactly what I needed in my life. I’ve been meaning to make some major changes in my life, especially since the recent chaos is only going to get more chaotic, and this book outlines some ideas as to how to take charge of the change I want to make.

I’m posting about it here because I think I’ll have more motivation to stick to the cleanse if I post about it publicly, and I plan to say a few words about how I’m feeling every day just to help anyone else who wants to eventually try it. I was certain that giving up caffeine would be the hardest part about this change, but the only thing I craved yesterday was cheese and a bite of Leta’s Cocoa Krispies. And even this morning the espresso machine did not tempt me. I’m also thinking that after the 21-day period is over that I may continue to abstain from meat, for many reasons, the main one being that I can no longer justify the barbaric treatment of those animals just so that I can have a hamburger. It’s as if I’ve finally been hit over the head hard enough, and I’m ready to change my life, from what I eat to how I react to Coco being covered in poop to breathing through the fact that yet again we’ve been jolted awake to a mess.

I want to be a better wife, a more conscious and present mother, a more loyal friend, and a better listener. I’d like to handle my anxiety better. I also want to be more organized because I’m tired and fed up with not being able to find anything. Many times that anything is my head. And starting yesterday I feel like I’m on my way to making every day Florida.

Here goes.

  • ashleyd

    you can send me your “meat is murder. tasty, tasty murder” shirt then!! haha!

    at the young age of 25 i have have to get a colonoscopy… i’ve heard a lot of people eating “clean” after the procedure. i think i’m going to see how that goes. i don’t know how i’m going to get around eating the dead animals i love so much though.

  • Beautiful pic … you should frame that one. When you’re stressed out you can look at it and think Florida. Wow, I hope I come back from my vacation that refreshed and goal oriented!

  • valentine214

    I always enjoy reading your blog but thank you for this post – I feel like you have summed up my life at the moment.

    My husband and I are searching for humanely raised meat (because I love me some meat) and we’ve found a dairy farm who raises their cows only on grass paddocks, and when the time comes for the cows to “meet their maker” she sings to the cows, thanks them for their service, tells them how honorable they have been and will be, how they will nourish people and continue their service, etc. Yeah it’s a little wacky and unconventional but it sure beats the way Mickey-D-land does it. Now I just need to find chickens, etc.

    I am looking forward to reading Quantum Wellness, energy stuff is amazing to me. I’d heard of another book called “The Secret Life of Plants” which is supposed to be pretty awesome too.

    Be well.

  • If along the way you ever need more motivation to stick with vegetarianism I recommend reading ‘Eat to Live’ by Dr. Joel Fuhrman! Will definitely keep you feeling good about your decision and on track.

    Good luck with the cleanse and all of that change 🙂

  • DesignGirl

    Glad you enjoyed Florida. Next to maybe, oh, I don’t know … the BAHAMAS? I can’t think of any other place I’d rather live. I forget how lucky I am to have Florida right outside my front door (and INSIDE too, I guess)!

    Not that I’m trying to rub it in, but as soon as hubbie gets home from work (5pm) our “daily cleanse” will be to drop our 25′ boat in the water, about 3 miles from home, and take a nice little evening cruise on Tampa Bay. Ah, the sparking (hopefully UNcontaminated) water, the setting sun, and a bottle of wine/beer … doesn’t get much better.

  • Everyday can’t be Florida without a big huge steak to throw on the grill. Can’t believe you’d give up meat and denounce your southern upbringing like that. j/k!

  • I am interested to see how your journey goes with the cleansing diet. I read about this and I’m not sure I could give up my cocktail when I need it after a shitty day. I look forward to reading about this!

  • woooooooot! good on you girl. i’ll send you some recipes.

    now about this make “every day like florida” thing.

    i’m a bit confused because every time i go to florida i think of pteradactyl-sized mosquitoes, tap-water direct from a fetid rotting swamp, olive garden restaurants as far as the eye can see.

    i really gotta check out YOUR florida because it sounds way better than mine.

  • Kristine

    Wow, thanks for this awesomely inspirational post.

    The past five months have been absolute hell for me. The stress of a bad job gone worse, losing my grandfather a week after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, my cousin’s wife having a severe stroke at 36 (oh yea she was in great health) and then my dad getting laid off at 63, having a really difficult time finding another one – those are just some of the “major” things that have turned me into a roly poly of an emotional eater.

    I work out 4 days a week and play tennis 2x a week but the minute I have downtime, my mind plays these horrible games with me and next thing I know I’ve eaten the entire pantry.

    Seriously, I am not happy with myself and am thinking about this detox/cleanse thing. I will use your experiences as both motivation and an intervention between me and the next bag of chips or another cocktail.

    Looking forward to embarking on this journey with you. Hang tough – you have an incredible network of support surrounding you.

    PS – Leta is a trip. I used to be a nanny for twin girls and the things these kids would say or come up with, I would laugh for hours. I still throw out some of the “sayings” they came up with. Kids are the greatest gifts!

  • Sorry about the poo…that’s a bummer. I’m hesitant to get a dog because of all the work. Poop and barking in particular.

    And good for you on your 21-day cleanse! You’re ahead of me on that and I eat a high percentage of raw (living) foods. You’ll probably find as you move forward that the need for meat decreases. Anyway, I’m not here to preach but wishing all the best. I’ll be interested in your progress.

  • AD_22

    After Jims post on Friday and your post today; I’ve also decided to make a change. I will no longer read this post during lunch break. The diarrhea, vomit and potty talk makes it difficult to enjoy a soup and sandwich.

    I still love you dooce.

  • m

    Good luck with that diet. I hope your careful about it though because severe changes in diet, when you are medicines, can be tricky. Also, I can’t help but think that Oprah has had a “life changing” diet or whatnot about every 21 days and it always amazes me the number women that are willing to follow her.

  • I haven’t even read the blog yet, I just wanted to say that the picture of the water is fantabulous! And I really need a vacation but this might have to do, sigh. This is all. Off to read the blog now.

  • Karina

    THE CHICKENS!!!!!!


    Good luck on the cleanse Heather. Remember, baby steps, eh?

  • Maria

    I’ve always found the idea of a “cleanse” somewhat silly, especially when it involves liquid diets or colonics (not saying Oprah’s cleanse does), because a normal healthy body “cleanses” itself. I second what someone said above about Michael Pollen’s sage advice:

    “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

    Plus, red wine is good for you!

  • Janice

    Good luck with your diet. I think I would lock out one thing at a time. I did gluten and dairy (diagnosed Celiac in 11/06) within a week. WHOOOAAAA! Anyway, there is a great store on the west side Against the Grain. You might find that helpful.

  • I can’t wait for the post with the cleanse update!

  • Anonymous

    If you figure out how to handle your anxiety better could you teach my Dad? Because he’s driving me nuts.

    Oh and the messy house? Just call me to house sit. I told a woman yesterday after she declared her house a disaster area that she was welcome to come visit me. I’m tired of having some 10 year old brat come over to my house and announce to parents, “Dad it is so messy up here!” “Doesn’t your mother do anything?” What kind of person lives like that? Oh the ones without fun blogs to read, life experiences worth reading about, and children without personality.

    As for dieting? I gave up. I’ve been 165 lbs since I was 16. I could hike 21 miles (3 miles straight up 11,000 ft mtn) that fat, I had 3 children without getting fatter, I’ve eaten chocolate everyday without getting fatter and I’ve eaten oatmeal everyday without losing a pound (that last one makes your poo yellow like baby crap). My body says, “forget it, you’re 165 period.” The interesting thing is that at 16 I was a size 16, now I’m a size 12. I think the department stores are playing to women’s vanity.

  • i’m really excited that you’re doing the cleanse because i’m too big of a chicken (and have too small a bladder) to do it myself. i tried atkins once but after eight hours i was getting dizzy from lack of carbs. finally i ate some chocolate and never looked back.

  • I like the idea of clearing out your mind and becoming more organized around the house and as a person. I always feel better after I renew myself through combing through my house and looking for things that need to go. The same could be said for the mind.
    -Inventing Matilda

  • I, too, plan on trying the cleanse. I have to wait a couple of weeks, though, because I have quite a few drinking engagements coming up! I feel for you on the poopy mess too. BTDT!

  • Dawn

    Good luck with the cleanse :). I recently stopped eating meat and cut waaay down on processed foods and refined sugar and carbs and have never felt better! (Never been much of an alcohol or caffeine drinker, so no problem there..)

  • Stephanie

    I’m not going to jump on the “yay cleanse” bandwagon because I know from experience that it’s never about the food. I guess just think I’d whether you are trying to avoid something else that’s going on in your emotional life by focusing on food. When you’re struggling with anxiety and feeling out of control, sometimes it’s tempting focus on the things that seem easy to control to avoid the emotions that seem so unworkable. Destin was a geographical cure to all those anxieties but going vegan isn’t going to make them go away.

    Your body needs things for a reason and I just worry that you’re setting up your metabolism for a fall. I guess I’d just contemplate whether your OCD has started to gaze at your dinner plate.

    That being said, ugh diarrhea! So sorry! Maybe it was all the shit eating?

  • I can not wait to see how this cleanse goes for you. 21 days is a long time. Not saying you can’t do it, but I tried the Master Cleanse and by day 5 I put my fiancée in a choke hold until he agreed to take me to California Pizza Kitchen and feed me!

  • Diz

    I, too, am thinking more and more about changing (I find that the closer I get to thirty, the more it’s happening). After reading Skinny Bitch this weekend, I’m thinking it’s time to give up the meat. What’s another big change, after paying off credit cards, decluttering my bedroom, and getting promoted? This year is only half over, so I may as well really get crazy.

    Good luck with the cleanse. Looking forward to hearing your progress.

  • Oh My GOD! The dog poop! I can’t imagine a worse way to return to reality. But how cool that you attacked the problem without losing it completely. I don’t know that I would have.

    As for the cleanse, you had me until it said no caffeine… I don’t know… I want to be healthier, but why do they always make you say no to the caffeine? Could it be an 85% cleanse?

  • Christina

    Good luck on your cleanse. I am doing something similiar but long term (the first 21 days are harsh though, after that you can slowly add back in one thing each week…first thing back for me will be caffeine!).

    Glad you had a great vacation, welcome back!

  • Holy cats! I am doing something similar to this diet myself. Let me tell you, after week 1 you start to feel GOOD and have more energy.

    Unless you go all feral on a little Debbie like I did. One day 2 (or some really inappropriately-early-in-the-diet day).

    Good luck!

  • Debra

    In case there was even a second of self-doubt, it needs to be said:

    You are one super awesome human being!

    You’ve given me a much needed boot of inspiration today. Thank you!

  • jen

    I did a similar cleanse a few weeks ago and discovered a few food sensitivities. I’m doing a lot better now. And, in all honesty, it was really good to see someone who appears to have it all write that last paragraph. I’m not alone in feeling that way.

  • H

    I am very curious about the cleanse! Going to start reading it myself!!! The one thing that will be hard is my damn coffee!!!

    Glad Florida was fun!!

  • Amy

    I’ve been a vegetarian – or pescatarian, rather – for 6 years. I did it for health reasons, but now I do it for pretty much every reason there is to be veg. And, not that you need to worry about this Miss Long and Lean, but you’ll never be fat if you’re a vegetarian. How can you? You become conscious of everything you put in your mouth… even when you goof now and then and hoover that pint of Ben & Jerry’s.

  • kate

    that photo is so startled me when i opened the page.

  • Cat

    I’ve been SOOOO tempted to try a cleanse for a long time, now. But I just can’t quite commit to it. I will be very interested to hear how yours goes! Good luck!

  • VinnyGirl

    It’s my friend’s blog. She has celiacs disease.

    P.S. Oprah isn’t all that.

  • Semi-longterm reader, first-time poster. Sorry to hear about Coco, it’s always bad to wake up to a sick dog. My Siberian Husky, Shuuji, had a urinary tract infection just over two months ago, and hearing him howl when trying to pee probably makes the top 5 “Largest Feelings of Sympathy”-situations in my life.

    In other news, good luck on the cleanse! I’ve been wanting to do something similar for a long time now, but seeing how I’m underweight, the sudden lack of calories would send my body into systematic shock.

  • I LOVE LOVE LOVE that you are going to try going Veg! I have been on and off for years, and whenever I stray, I read a book or watch a video of how the animals are treated and I’m right back where I started! If you need some (rather slow but EXCELLENT and information filled) reading, pick this up:

    at the bookstore… Very eye opening. Good luck! It is definitely harder for some people than others…

  • mackley q greene

    “I’d like to handle my anxiety better.”

    You may actually be on to something by trying a quasi-elimination diet. I had major anxiety problems about 6 years ago which led to an elimination diet phase (you get rid of all common allergens, then add them back in one by one to see if anything bothers you) and wound up cutting out casein and gluten entirely. Got tested for celiac, which I am not, but those proteins do bother me. (A handy way to tell is if your heart rate increases by more than 5 beats per minute after you eat a certain food — your immune system may be reacting to it.)

    Unfortunately, I don’t have the link handy any more, but I did find research that indicated these proteins can even cross the blood-brain barrier and might make anxiety worse, beyond the immune-system involvement.

    Whatever their true effect, because I was eating whole wheat and dairy 2 or 3 times a day, I had to endure a racing heartbeat for hours afterward. I had to make sure to eat dinner at least 3 hours before bedtime or I had major insomnia. Food sensitivities (secondary allergies) can be really hard on you; the constant inflammatory response is hell. I also got sick more often — got bronchitis like clockwork every winter for years.

    I still dream of eating cheese (no lie!) but would never go back to it. It’s not the perfect answer, of course (I take naturopath-prescribed herbals for anxiety and depression also), but I am much happier and less anxious no matter what happens.

  • 1. I grew up in Florida but have been living in NYC for the past 7 years. I was home for 8 days the week before you went and spent my time on the Gulf of Mexico, as well (which is also where I will be having my wedding on Nov. 8th), and for the first time since I left home, I dreaded coming back to Manhattan. I forgot how peaceful my cells feel when I can walk barefoot pretty much anywhere without worrying about contracting hepatitis or stepping on a used condom.

    2. Good luck on the cleanse. I tried one a couple of months ago and made it about 12 hours. Pathetic.

    3. I applaud the fact that you are even considering giving up meat. I became a vegetarian at 14 years old for the exact same reason you mentioned and have now been meat free for 16 years. I hope you like it as much as I do.

  • Caffeine is easy to give up, just wait until around day eight when you would sacrifice your dog for few potato chips or some grilled cheese sandwich.

    A great treat, thinly sliced potatoes with some olive oil, salt and pepper roasted in the oven for about ten minutes. Served with tahini on the side for dipping. Mmm mmm good.

    Good Luck! It is tough some days but you have never felt better. And there is nothing quite like a retox after a good detox.

  • I picked up a copy of Quantum Wellness last week. I decided to coincide the start of it with our vaca in Lake Tahoe. We arrived Sunday night, so I’m on day 2. Glad to hear you’re doing better with the caffeine part. I’m a Diet Coke addict and even though yesterday was fine, today – oooooh, boy, I really want to drink away the pain. Totally defeating the whole purpose. So I’m all hopped up on mega-Advil and praying that the beautiful setting will help negate my current misery. Jury’s still out on that one.

    I’m also trying to get a handle on my life. I just feel like I could be doing it better. I’m also reading Marilu Henner’s newest book “Wear Your Life Well.” I’m just into the second chapter, but it is jam-packed with really good stuff. I’m finding it more useful than Quantum Wellness.

    Good luck with this. I’ll be checking in to see how your experience is comparing with my own.

  • J9

    My fiance and I tried the cleanse about two months ago. We made it 8 days. The siren song of pizza and wine was too beautiful to ignore. It did break my caffine addiction so at least there’s that.

  • Gabrielle

    I think this post may have been the blow to the head that I was waiting for to start making some much-needed changes to my life (I mean that in the most complimentary way possible). So much of what you wrote really resonated with me – especially about being more present and handling anxiety better. In the past month and a half, three members of my family have passed away and my husband and I moved into our first house. My father-in-law is having major (potentially life-threatening) surgery this week, which is causing untold stress for my husband (and me). Work is overwhelming and I’m having unpleasant health issues of my own (think Charlotte in the Sex & the City movie). For some reason this post (and the amazing picture that accompanies it) made me feel a little calmer today, just when I really needed it. Thank you for being my moment of Zen.

  • I’m so glad you open comments occasionally so I can chatter back at you, otherwise I would remain a silent reader.

    Happy you had a wonderful vacation and since we recently got back from our own holiday I know exactly what you mean about walking around the piles of laundry. We spent some time in the Rockies so had the joys of altitude sickness, who knew Wisconsin was so low below sea level.

    I’m continually amazed at watching Leta develop and feel like she’s a distant niece I get to watch grow from afar.

    Looking forward to your cleanse review although not sure I’ll ever have the guts to give one a go.

  • Best of luck with that cleanse, Heather! I’ve found Spring/early Summer can be a great time for that kind of thing, but I’ve never tried it while parenting. I’m timid that way, I suppose. I did quit coffee in March, though, and had some awful psychological side-effects, so if you find yourself suddenly thinking you must be losing your mind, consider the possibility that it’s actually part of the detox process, and try to give yourself extra breathing room and trust that you will get through it, because you totally will.

    This is a great time of year to go vegetarian, too — so many fresh veggies available! I’m lovin’ it!

  • Oh and pizza, cheese pizza, meat pizza, bring on the pizza, I feel strong today.

  • if you’re gonna go veg, morning star chickn and steak strips are the best. they have a more meaty texture and taste than most products. and they fry in about 2 minutes.

  • I too have been thinking about the quantum wellness but really too chicken because I don’t have anyone to do it with me, gosh how lame does that sound!

    Good to see you back!

  • My New Year’s Resolution was to “get organized” in every aspect of my life – and I mean EVERY. From the laundry and cooking to the financial stuff to my health to making regular one on one time for my daughter. I’m sick of not being able to find stuff too and that includes time for myself and that hot black top I could swear I washed last week. So far this year I’ve organized a cutlery drawer and sorted out my insurance. I think I need to get cracking and this just may be the inspiration I need. Thankyou.

  • Yea! for giving up meat. I gave it up for lent once (and I am not even Catholic) and I never missed it. I just eat better things.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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