The most wasted of all days is one without laughter – E.E. Cummings

Category: The Struggle Is Real

My Reaction to Greek Yogurt

greek-yogurtIt’s no secret that I don’t like yogurt. I’ve never had an affinity for swallowing anything with the consistency of snot. . . . even if there are chunks of fruit in it; especially if there are chunks of fruit in it. It’s just not my thing.

Unfortunately for me, yogurt is like the number one diet food that everyone claims fills them up in the morning and “really is so good”. For years, all I’ve heard from starving women everywhere is that yogurt is their go-to when trying to loose the lbs: high in protein, a little bit sweet and just right for breakfast. (For the record, you yogurt aficionados aren’t fooling anyone. The only person you are talking into liking yogurt more than eggs and bacon is yourself. The only way yogurt out-tastes real breakfast food is if you’ve never actually had real breakfast food.)

So you can imagine my (the girl whose middle name is technically ‘diet’) dismay every time I hear someone recommend yogurt or see it appear on my ‘recommended foods’ sheet for an upcoming battle of the bulge: it’s not pretty. In fact, my reaction is usually similar to the reaction of children everywhere that find out that Santa isn’t real – there are a lot of tears and confusion and crushed spirits.

Several years ago, I heard that there may be an answer for us yogurt haters out there and it was the Greeks that were helping us out. That’s right, Greek yogurt burst onto the scene in an apparent revolution of the yogurt industry. Sidenote: it’s funny to me that there even had to be a revolution because you all LOVED yogurt as it was, right? Why reinvent the wheel? Why? Because that wheel tastes like a bad cold, that’s why.

Anyway, Greek yogurt became the go-to snack of healthy-wannabes everywhere; it was healthier than regular yogurt (gasp!) and higher in protein (how?!) and better tasting (what the. . . impossible!). Everyone jumped on the bandwagon and started peddling Greek yogurt like Peeps at Easter.

My pure distaste for yogurt kept me out of the Greek game for several years – I didn’t even want to date the mildly better-looking cousin of that guy: from a totally different country but the bottom line was that they were still family and DNA can’t be changed that much.

Last week, well, I got brave. In the middle of my latest round of lies to myself about how I really do enjoy healthy food, I caved. I bought Greek yogurt. I’d like to blame my hunger for my momentary lapse in zeal and judgment while cruising the dairy section of Costco but I think I really just caved into peer pressure; “It has a totally different texture,” they said. “It really tastes much better,” they said. They lied.

I’m here to tell you that Greek yogurt is no better than its slime-ridden counterpart. In fact, the only difference that I noticed was a slight inclination to say “Opa” after each bite. The texture was bad, the taste was not improved. I had been duped – and in bulk, Costco-size, no less.

Why the tirade about Greek yogurt? Well, first I’d like to drive home the point that I hate yogurt. Second, I’d like to make a plea for honesty:

I don’t deal well with sugar-coating things, unless of course those things are donuts or other baked goods. I’d rather hear the truth of the matter when it comes to, well, anything. Yogurt is a good place to start because I don’t feel like it’s asking too much:

When someone asks how you like yogurt, it would just be better for all of us if the answer went something like this: “It is not very good. BUT I’ve found that it’s what I have to eat for breakfast to loose weight.” We know you aren’t eating yogurt because you want to and that there is some hidden agenda behind your willingness to swallow snot in the wee hours of the morning.

I’ll make you a deal – if you’ll just tell the truth, we can be friends. I don’t trust anyone that says they love yogurt because it means one of two things: they are either a liar or they haven’t eaten enough ice cream in their lives; either way, I question your judgment and I will never buy anything you are selling.

Example number two would be exercise. If someone says, “Hey, you’re a runner? Do you love it?” The appropriate response would be “No, it hurts like heck but I’m trying to drop a dress size,” rather than “I just feel so free and clear-minded when I run seven miles.” Lies. There are maybe 100 people on Earth that actually love running and they all have some form of Olympic hardware to back them up. Anyone else making that claim is just not telling the truth. You can love how you feel after you run but not during.

My point is this: when things are difficult or gross or weird, can’t we just fess up to the fact that they are? It doesn’t mean that you can’t eat yogurt (or wet bread) or run or do weird things if you have a reason for doing them; I’d just respect you a lot more for admitting it. In fact, I think respect points would likely double – I admire people that run even though it’s hard, more so even than those that do it with ease.

On that note, I’ve got an entire 96 pack of Greek yogurts to get through because I don’t believe in food going to waste, even terrible tasting food. So if you need me, I’ll be sitting in an aura of pride and simultaneous disgust for the next three weeks.

Continue Reading

Kiss Your Mom Right on the Mouth

It’s the American day of the Mother. . . similar to the Chinese year of the dog except that ours happens annually and thankfully, mine involves very few animals of the furry nature. “So when you say similar to the Chinese. . .???” Give me a break. It was an analogy that I hadn’t fully fleshed out before typing so let’s just move on.

As I perused the major social media outlets today, I noticed a few things: first, people are really grateful for their moms. I mean really grateful. I liked that because I like moms. I was particularly impressed by the notes of adoration that some moms will never see because they still write and mail letters and have no idea what an Instagram even is. That said, if you are wondering why your kids forgot about you today, know that they didn’t; they simply forgot to tell you about the sonnet that they wrote about you for their 900 closest friends.

These online notes of respect and love lead me to my first blogosphere million dollar idea: Hall-book. (I thought about Face-mark but it had kind of a creepy ring to it. No? Anyway, the name is a work in progress.) Every holiday when you write something amazing about your mom or your dad on some social media outlet, you’ll automatically be given the option to turn your sentiments into a greeting card that is mailed to them. That way, you still look like a decent human being for sending props to the parentals online but also make sure they actually see it by sending a version of it by snail mail. I would charge $2 per card, $2.50 if I include the embarrassing picture of you and your mom on the inner tube, floating the river. I pretty much just put traditional greeting cards out of business, y’all.

The other common thread that ran through my feeds today is that everyone has a mother in some form or another. Everyone. There are some people that at times I have been positive didn’t have a mother because they, themselves, don’t seem to have a soul (which is what mothers genetically pass on. It’s true, I checked.). But, even many of them proved me wrong with photographic evidence on this very day. I was shocked and confused and driven straight to my Funkels (that’s “fake (rich) uncles” for those of you that hate mash-ups), Ben and Jerry. It felt really similar to the day Michael Jackson died – I felt betrayed and confused. So way to go, mean people, even you have access to the most sacred of all sacreds – the mom – whether I think you deserve it or not is apparently irrelevant.

I love the idea that moms come in all forms, not just the “carried you for nine months and felt the most excruciating pain of my life” kind; I read a lot of tributes today to friends, aunts, neighbors, sisters and even co-workers that were positive “motherly” influences on people’s lives. Stop and think about that for a minute and how incredible that is: without any biological connection whatsoever, with no inferred sense of responsibility, there are people who go out of their way to treat others as if they were their own child. Mind. Blown. Kind of restores your faith in humanity a bit, no? It did mine. (And if it didn’t yours, you may want to do a quick self-eval to make sure you aren’t one of those soul-less bozos I talk about up there ^^^.)

After reading all of these fantastic notes of praise and heart-felt thanks, I started reflecting on my own life and some of the people that have been “moms” to me at different times or different places in my days: a co-worker who always made me feel like I was important, that knew when I was struggling and provided chocolate to get through it and sent me texts of love and support when big things happened in my life – she was my “work” mom; a friend who is constantly there for the little things and the big things in my life, who helps me move on Saturday mornings, who loves my kids as if they were her flesh and blood – she is my “supportive” mom; a neighbor who by random acts of service and kindness and humor has pulled me out of dark places (even though she didn’t know I was in them) with laughter and love and has quickly become a dear friend and basically my twin in every sense of the word – she is my “it will all be ok” mom. None of these women are related to me by blood (although I’d claim them as sisters in a heartbeat) but have provided some of the most valuable lessons of friendship and service that I’ve ever known. They have gone out of their way to make sure that I’m going to make it and that has changed me for good.

Of course, this post wouldn’t be complete without my very public, very sure-she-won’t-read-this-unless- prompted-to, ode to my own mother, Mama Jan. (This is always the part when I need a virtual Kleenex. Anyone? Anyone?). See, I’m a lucky ducky in that not only did my mom lay claim to the title of Mom to me 30-ish years ago, she fulfilled her duty every day since then. I’d be hard-pressed to find someone that was more loving, giving or serving than she is. I could go on for pages but because I have limited finger strength, I’ll just tell you the best part about my mom. Fair deal?

My mom has an uncanny knack for doing all of the small things that make a person feel loved – the notes in the lunch box (even when you are 25 and shouldn’t still be having your mom pack your lunch), the calls on random holidays, the remembering your doctor appointments, the checking on your friends, the bringing your kids a treat EVERY time she comes to visit, kinds of things that leave you feeling a little better than before you interacted with her. She shows up when she says she will (I’m not just talking about being punctual although she is that too and that is my second most favorite trait) and even when she isn’t supposed to be there, she’s there, and just showing up is half the battle most days. Mom, “I love ya more than my luggage.”

The challenge: look around your life and think about one time that someone played “mom” to you; think about the sacrifice that it took for them to give up extra time or money or talent just to get you through. If you can think of even one of these people, you are blessed. I really believe that. Once you’ve found them, give them a late Mother’s Day (proverbial if it’s awkward) kiss right on the mouth; let them know what they’ve done for you and how much you appreciate it. You may just be the “mom” that they are looking for today.

Continue Reading

Welcome to the Big Show

New beginnings can be so refreshing – except when it means coming up with a bunch of new content for a new blog hosted on a new site for your new career; then it can seem a bit overwhelming, but just a smidge.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for the chance to kick things off with a bang – and by that I, of course, mean writing about what you can expect from me on this blog. That ought to be fun for all of us, no? I’m building content people, not bucking for a Nobel Prize. I promise things will get more entertaining from here.

The irony of calling this blog “The Struggle is Real” is not lost on me at this point (nor should it be lost on you; if you read my bio in any length, you are probably wondering what someone with my background could struggle with on a daily basis.). As each day passes though and I sit here in suburbia, I realize more and more that the struggle IS real – the struggle for understanding, for courage, for strength. The struggle is real to raise children, to be married and to keep up with the Jonses. The struggle is real to watch the news and worry about the world we live in, to see war, to see evil and not only have to explain it to our children but try to make sense of it to ourselves. Every day we are all struggling with the nuances of life while simultaneously attempting to be grateful for what we have and, if you’re like me at all, just to be grateful that things aren’t worse.

So what’s the answer? Mine is simple: to laugh. Sometimes, the only way to get through the day is to find humor in the horrible. I’m not saying that this blog will be a place to make light of war or the serious state of things. No, no. That won’t happen here. What I am hoping is to be able to discuss things that may take your mind off of the seriousness of life, even for a minute. If it isn’t amusing in some form, you won’t find it here. Here’s a little more about me (the stuff you can’t write in a professional bio) that will give you some perspective for upcoming blogs:

I’m a wife and a mom, full-time. Discussion on diapers and bowel movements and feeding times and naps are not out of my realm. You will likely see reference to one of these topics on occasion.

I’m a professional. . . despite my love for t-shirts and drawstring pants. I worked in Corporate America for a decade before becoming a full-time house manager. I know what it’s like to work for the man, to work for a woman who pretended to be a man and to own my own business. I have opinions on women in the work place (actual issues that exist and made-up complaints that continue to mask as issues in the news as well – there are more than you think), generation X, education, hiring, resumes and pay raises. I have big opinions on work and earning your keep in life so you’ll see a lot of that as well; it won’t be politically correct (I’m sure) so if you need some of my material for corporate training, contact me and I’ll send you a more professional version.

I’m chubby. I always have been. Here’s the ironic thing: I’ve always been an athlete, a hard worker, a vegetable eater. I don’t have high cholesterol, high blood pressure or hygiene issues. I’ve basically broken every “chubby girl” stereotype that exists, as have so many of the larger-than-life ladies out there. Naturally, I have opinions about exercise and food (both of which you can read in my book “Peas are Gross” and will also likely spill over into the content found here.) My membership in the chubby clubby also allows me some opinions on sex-ism, bigotry and racism, but few (if any) of the situations involving these topics are remotely funny so you’ll likely not find my commentary here.

I’m a pop-culture junkie. If it happens on E News, I generally know about it and have an opinion. I love supermarket magazines (the only ones of which I find remotely credible are People and US Weekly, although I usually have to give props to the other paper-based gossip mags for their creativity – where do they come up with this stuff?!?) I love to talk about how much I despise rich people with no talent, mostly because I secretly want to be them or at least be their bank account. So, in natural order, you’ll see some Kardashian jokes here as well as my opinion on other “news” that could only qualify as “news” in America. People are dying of hunger and we want to know who got arrested, people. It’s a weird culture, eh?

I’m a Mormon. Is this the part where you stop reading because you think my husband is forcing me and my sister wives to earn our keep my starting a blog? My braids and I are offended. Don’t worry – I’m a mainstream Mormon which means a couple of important things: no sister wives and I wear pants whenever I feel like it.

Seriously though, I mention the Mormon thing for a couple of reasons: first, I’m committing to this being a clean blog. You won’t find explicit content or even swearing on this blog. Just like my book, this will be a safe-haven with content that you can share with your mother and teenage daughter without being embarrassed. I hate giving a reading recommendation and having to issue a warning along with it: “Be prepared, there is some rough language.” I’m a firm believer that you can be funny without being crass or crude.

If there is ever material here that leads you to question the above statement, I need to know. Like any good blog, here is my disclaimer for you commenters: I reserve the right to pull down any comments or commentary that defaces my blog. If you want to get nasty and use foul language, move along to a Yahoo! forum. Opinions are always welcome, even ones that differ from my own (although to be fair, that rarely happens. Jokes, jokes.) but cruelty and foul language won’t be tolerated. (Can you tell now that I’m a mom? Seriously. I am not above sending you to your room to think about what you’ve done.)

Secondarily, being a Mormon should tell you about the things that I value: family, God, faith. Those are the priorities in my home. I also believe in work, having an opinion, standing up for yourself, being educated and being open-minded. I have electricity, which means I watch television. I have a college degree, which means I know how to read. I’ve owned a marketing business, which means I know the pressures of working and managing a family. My opinions don’t come from the dark ages and will hopefully shed some light on the fact that Utah is a pretty educated and opinionated place to be. Fair enough?

Here we go. Welcome to the blog. May you find laughter and sharable material here. May you be more creative than me and turn some of my more witty quotes into Pinterest-worthy memes. May we talk about all of the awkward moments in life and learn to laugh at ourselves a little more.

Keep on keepin’ on,
Carlee

Continue Reading