And I guess he was. We watched the documentary on Christmas Day 2011, and we were riveted. The subject, a very engaging and likable Australian man, Joe Cross, had created a film that showed him visiting the USA with the intention of getting his nutrients solely from fresh-squeezed juices as he traveled the country. The transformation was remarkable, and the impact he had on others, inspiring.
Steve turned to me.
"I think we should do a 30-day juice cleanse," he said.
I didn't need to think about it. I was in. I knew I could do it, not simply because we'd just witnessed Joe's successful experience, but because when I decide I'm going to do something, I do it. Come hell or high water. Plus, we weren't really fat. There was some excess poundage, though, that each of us was ready to release, but not that much. Nor were we sick. Or nearly dead.
And then I had an insanely brilliant idea. A stroke of genius.
I had an epiphany: a kind and gentle way to not have to keep the "big" birthday gift Steve had presented to me shortly before we watched the movie... a gift that I didn't really appreciate. It was an expensive gift. One I probably would benefit from having, and one that would support Steve, too. But I didn't want it. And I didn't know how to say it.
I think you need some history here. Some context.
I am a recovering perfectionist. Some days are better than others. I have all these ideas of how I want to be, ways that make me look good and hopefully will make you like me. I want to do so many things and put them on perfect "To Do" lists and maybe, if I'm lucky, one thing will actually get completed. Meanwhile, incompletions abound. Some things-- important things-- like acknowledging people for their thoughtfulness and generosity with the perfect thank you note never get started, much less sent. There's always some impediment. Meanwhile, I initiate other significantly less important things like cleaning and rearranging my costume jewelry or removing all the silverware from the kitchen drawer and meticulously cleaning the tray that holds the forks and knives and spoons for twelve, or something else equally inane. I get started and I make some headway, but things like heartfelt thank you notes expressing my appreciation and deep gratitude get buried or pushed aside and never get finished or started, awaiting my finding the "perfect card," or needing an address or that I intended to write, but first start an email and midway, I get a phone call and forget to go back to what I was doing. Meanwhile, after all these years, I still somehow have this unreasonable and unrealistic concept of just how much I can do in a day-- and still sleep... and shower... and take care of the dogs... and write thank yous and take care of dozens of details I've decided are critical to accomplish.
I rush around, too, when I head out of the house, running late for meetings or appointments or lunch with a friend, and fail to get directions to my destination before I depart.
I head in the right direction, and press speed dial.
Steve picks up.
"Honey, can you tell me how to get to--" whatever the destination is.
A few years before, he'd finally bought me a GPS, which was great-- for me and for him, since his expectation was that it would empower me to figure out directions on my own without calling him-- except that the device needed to have the address keyed in, and I was ready with the excuse that I was already driving or running late, plus the device had one of those suction cup thingies that never really adheres, and at some completely unexpected point, the device would clunk down from the windshield on my thigh. Hard. And then, while zooming on the freeway at 70 mph, hurrying to my destination, I'd root around for the cord that kept it charged and drag it back from wherever it was dangling, all the while doing my best to keep one eye on the road, with the other one trying to get the device reattached to the windshield, or keep it in my lap where I couldn't really see it, and I'd hit speed dial.
Finally, one day, the guts of the GPS navigator finally fell out, still attached to the charging cord and it didn't work anymore. I stuck it in a bag, and squeezed it on a shelf in the garage with probably hundreds of incompletions awaiting my attention.
It was ok, though. I could still call Steve and interrupt him in the middle of the day with frantic, sometimes desperate pleas for help in getting to my destination... because I was running late because I was trying to be perfect and didn't have time to do a mapquest and get directions. Perfectly imperfect.
I bet you've guessed what Steve's "big" gift was for December 25, 2011.
Right. A brand new GPS device. A pricey one. The one that consumer reviews had ranked the highest, the best, the one that could get me from here to there and there to here and near and yonder and everywhere else in between. And he'd thoughtfully and thoroughly looked at all the articles and comparisons, researching all the brands and features, and after all this analysis and choosing the very best one available, he'd ordered it. At Christmas-time. To arrive in time for my birthday. And he'd wrapped it and given it to me with such pleasure and pride. It was something I needed...
I'd opened it and feigned enthusiasm.
"Oh. Thanks. Wow."
I wasn't very grateful. Or appreciative. In truth, I was probably a little pissed. It didn't feel very romantic. Just practical. Who wants practical? I still wanted my own personal direction-finder with the touch of a button, one that allowed me to dictate the address, one with a voice I'd loved for 20 years. I did not want a replacement GPS device... no matter how much he hoped it would keep me from interrupting him at work to get me the heck out of Dodge, or wherever I was, and get me back on track, one that would sometimes stay on the phone with me for the entire drive, telling me to turn right or left or exit here or there or just keeping me company until I'd arrived.
I loved it. It worked for me. With his help, I managed to get to my destinations. And he didn't really have the time, but he was too kind to say so. So he'd had the genius idea to replace my GPS. It was an expensive one, too, so it must be a good gift, right?
"I think the GPS you got me is amazing," I lied. "But you know, now that I have my iPhone, the maps feature will get me to my destination..." (A girlfriend had showed me that I could put in an address, press "directions" and it would generate the route so I could track of my progress by following the moving dot as I progressed. I could see if I'd gone past the exit or if I needed to turn right or left or make a U-turn to get back on track. Now that was cool.)
I want to say something clever here about "driving to distraction" but I somehow can't figure out exactly how to make it fit in perfectly-- that I was driving Steve to distraction with these constant calls to figure out directions, with complete disregard for his time and work obligations-- and that I was demonstrating very unsafe "distracted driving" while in a hurry and not knowing how to get there from here, but I don't know how to make it fit.
"...so my request is that you return it and use the money instead for us to do a juice cleanse together. I think that's a fantastic idea. And for my birthday gift, it would be amazing for you to do all the grocery shopping..." -- he already had taken that duty on, anyway-- "...to buy the organic produce, and to make our juice for 30 days. That would be such a fantastic birthday gift..." and I meant it. In fact, I think it was my best birthday gift ever!
That would be extraordinary. Having a personal chef who, by the way, happens to love me, who would create delicious, nutritious fresh-squeezed organic juice concoctions for us every day for an entire month.
He said, "Okay."
It was a lot of work. Extra trips to the grocery store because we were consuming so much produce that only a couple of days' worth would fit in the refrigterator. Washing and prepping the fruits and vegetables to fit in our masticating juicer. Preparing the juice. Straining it and pouring it into bottles. And then cleaning up the juicer and the kitchen. To make enough juice for two people-- roughly 64 oz for each of us, so making a gallon a day-- takes at least an hour and a half... for me to do it perfectly would take about 3 hours, with each piece of fruit or vegetable perfectly sliced or diced...
And he never complained or tried to extricate himself from this major commitment.
This man is amazing. So thoughtful. So considerate. So generous.
And sometimes all I can do is complain or criticize or fail to express the mountains of gratitude he deserves.
And today, I'm recognizing and sharing all the incredible things he does to support me. And feeling such deep appreciation and gratitude that I met him 23 years ago, and somehow convinced him I was a catch.
It's day 3 of our quarterly 10-day juice cleanse two years later. Thanks to my choosing "Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead" and his suggesting we do a 30-day juice cleanse, we now have been guided to teach others how to walk this path. We're partners. We lead
together. And he's still preparing all our juices. Last night, he made a gallon of juice and cleaned up the kitchen in record time, just one hour!
Thank you, Steve. Thank you for all the possibilities you allow to create the reality I'm blessed to experience. And as the date approaches when I begin my commitment to stop speaking or using my voice for a year, and I have a million things to do on my "To Do" list before I embark on this adventure, I finally find the time to write you this long-overdue thank you note. I love you. I'm sorry. Please forgive me for my silence and imperfection in waiting to express my appreciation. I am honored to be sharing this juicy journey on which I'm finding great joy. I am grateful. Thank you.