Dropdown menu

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Uni and Friendship

I've recently begun experimenting with trying things I'm afraid of. Not dumb stuff, like going a hundred miles an hour, but reasonable things a conservative person like myself might try in attempt to stretch my comfort zone. Sometimes it works out brilliantly. Other times, not so much.

I'm a squeamish person. I do not do blood or bodily fluids, which is my husband's parenting role in our marriage. Part of my squeamishness involves food. I do not like uncooked meat. I'm so terrified of food poisoning that I'll only eat my meat well-done. Medium well is what I consider a daring adventure. So sushi is really outside my realm of comfort.

However, a few years ago, I began experimenting with sushi. I started with California rolls, and then one day, I asked my friend Camy, who is a sushi expert, to introduce me to the good stuff. So she did. I became a huge fan of unagi. Since then, whenever I go for sushi, I make a point to try something new. Which is easy since I don't go for sushi very often.

The other night, I had a girls night with my BFF. She and I have sushi on occasion, and we take turns getting something new. I decided to try uni.

Here's what you need to know about uni. I learned this from Camy because she has a book called Only Uni. Uni is sea urchin gonads. Let that rattle around in your brain for a while, combined with my squeamishness, and understand why I would be hesitant to try uni.

So there I was, staring down the sushi menu, knowing that what I wanted was unagi, but feeling guilty that I really should try something new. I checked the uni box. My BFF said she'd never had it either. Yay! An adventure for the both of us.

My mistake was eating the unagi first. Because as I ate all my yummy favorites, the uni stared at me, taunting me in its orange glory. "Taste me," it said. But my BFF said, "wow, that looks kinda weird, doesn't it?" Boy, and how!

We were paying for those two pieces of uni, so by George, I was going to try it. No wimpy little tastes for me. I popped part of it in, and took a bite. Then I wanted to die. I gagged it down, then thought that maybe wasabi would make it taste better. For the record, wasabi only makes things that taste good taste better. It makes nasty stuff worse. My second, and last, bite fought me the entire way down. My body rebelled at the hideousness I was forcing it to consume. I grabbed my (thankfully cold) cup of tea and chugged. Those nasty sea urchin gonads fell like a weight to the bottom of my stomach. I wished I still had some unagi to get the nasty taste out of my mouth.

When I finally drank enough tea (half a pot or so) to be able to speak, I told my BFF that it was the worst food experience of my life. But maybe she should try it. She told me she believed me, since she'd never seen me drink so much tea so fast. Being the brave soul that she is, she took a tiny piece of the remaining uni and tried it. I think she might have wished that she hadn't. She also had to drink a lot of tea, and even when we were eating our dessert some time later, I think she could still feel pieces of sea urchin clawing at her stomach. I know I did.

The moral of the story, besides "uni is the nastiest thing I've ever eaten," is that I'm glad I tried it. There, I said it. Because every time I go out for sushi, I'm going to see uni on the menu and I'm going to have a good laugh. I'm always going to remember how my BFF bravely tried a piece too, because she wanted to make me feel better, and because she wanted to be brave, and maybe because she's just a little bit nuts. But that's why I love her. Uni will always remind me of her. And Camy Tang, who told me what it was to begin with. The adventure of friendship is being willing to do something a little outside your comfort zone, and if it works, you can celebrate it. If it fails, you have someone to laugh about it with when it's over.

So go out, grab a friend, and do something outside your comfort zone. You don't have to eat sea urchin gonads. In fact, I recommend you avoid it. But find something you've been curious about, or maybe are a bit afraid of, and try!


Monday, March 25, 2013

Using the blessing to take the sting out of the cost

At this moment, hubby and I are cringing at some of our bills. For the first time in twenty years, I owe taxes. Added to that, our dog needed some expensive care- routine, but because of his age, he needed some extra things that made it cost more money. On top of that, we had to have some work around our house done. We could have put off the dog and the house, but I was afraid that if we waited, there'd be more problems that would cost more.

All in all, we've had to tighten our belts significantly this month. I've cringed as I've had to write the checks, cringed even more when we had a few weird bills come up that we weren't expecting, and had a general bad attitude about money and spending it.

Then I had a reality check.

We owe the IRS because we made more money than we've ever made. In fact, we made more money than we'd ever thought we could. I planned for that, yet it wasn't enough. Because I had to know where we went wrong, I checked a few things. Not only did we make more money, I actually spent less money on my business, so we had fewer deductions. In addition, we refinanced our mortgage, so we lost deductions there. In essence, we owe money because I worked so hard to save money this year.

Thanks to Obamacare, we had more medical expenses than we've ever had, but because of our income, we couldn't deduct any of it. I knew we wouldn't be able to deduct our expenses this year, and while I am a little bitter at how much out of pocket we spent, I can't help but be grateful that we could pay for all of it. My daughter needed special therapy not covered by the insurance. I wasn't sure where the money would come from, but after refinancing our mortgage, we were able to easily pay for it.

Last year, we paid off our car, paid down a significant amount of debt, paid for our kids to be in all the activities they wanted, never went without a basic need or had to decide which need was really a want, and did a lot of fun things as a family.

We're planning on visiting our eldest daughter for her military graduation this summer. A family vacation. Hubby was upset at how much it is going to cost. But then I broke it down for him. We can afford to take a family vacation! It wasn't many years ago that we couldn't afford to go camping for a weekend, let along fly to Washington DC for a week as a family.

It stinks that we have to pay taxes, but as I look back on the year, and I look to the things we get to do, I find the blessings so overwhelming, that I'm feeling a little better about having to hold off on a purchase I really wanted so I can write a check to the IRS. The fact of the matter is, if I had to write the check right now, despite the mortgage payment I have to make in a week, I could do it and not have to do without.

We've been really blessed this year. And I'm trying to keep that in mind and not be focused on the bitterness of the unfairness of having an avalanche of expenses coming at us all at once. With every bill that comes because insurance covers less and less, I am thankful that we have insurance, and that our family is healthy. I'm paying my taxes and am grateful that I can. Just a few years ago, this tax bill would have crippled us financially.  I look at my home, and I am grateful that I have a home. I'm especially grateful that our house payment is quite a bit less than it was, even though our new mortgage holder has been horrible to work with. I'm grateful we have good-paying jobs.

Where it all leaves me is here- the more I count the blessings, the less I am bothered by the cost. When I look at the seeming dark moments of today, I remember the darker moments of the past, and I am so grateful for where we are now. I can't begin to express how overwhelmingly grateful I feel for the wonderful things in my life. I sit here and say over and over, "thank you God," knowing it is not enough to express this overflowing gratitude in my life, yet I can't find any other words. I pray that if things in my life become dark again, I will remember the power of gratitude.

In the midst of your trials, what have you found to be grateful for?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Is Rob Bell really my enemy?

Some of my friends may be convinced I'm going to hell for saying this. But as I see the new flurry over Rob Bell, a controversial pastor who has now endorsed gay marriage, I find myself in a weird place. It bothers me less that Rob Bell has come out in favor of gay marriage than do people's responses to it. I am appalled at the mean, hateful posts people are putting out there because of his opinion. Okay, I get it. He's a popular teacher who's written a lot of books. Our church used to watch a lot of his videos. Then he started saying things people thought were controversial, and now people treat him like he's a tool of the devil.

I should confess that I haven't read his books. I have a couple I've been meaning to read, but that's the story of half the books I own. I've watched some of his Nooma videos. I've read articles about him and I've heard people ripping him to shreds over his opinions. Many of those people haven't read his books either.

Why do we feel like we're experts on the spirituality of a man we don't know?

More importantly, why do we feel it's our right to lash out in angry judgment because we don't agree with what he's said? Why are our responses full of hate?

I think I would respect the people who disagree with Rob Bell more if they said, "Whoa. Rob, I love you man, but I think you're wrong on this one, and here's why." Why don't we do that- to Rob- and to anyone else who challenges our tightly held theological beliefs?

Regardless of whether or not his position is right, Rob is a child of God whose sins Jesus died for just as much as anyone else's. Some people may be in shock over this, but Jesus died for Republicans and Democrats alike. He even died for those who don't affiliate themselves with a political party. He died for people we don't agree with. He died for people we don't like. He died for the people who are mean to us.

I even believe that Jesus had the audacity to die for Rob Bell. He loves Rob. He loves Rob when he's wrong. He loves Rob when he's right. Someday, when Jesus and Rob sit face to face, they're probably going to talk about those things. As much as I want to say I know how that conversation will go, I don't. None of us do.

But here's the conversation I will be a part of, and how I imagine it going:

Him: "Danica, you messed up on a lot of things."
Me: "Yes, Lord, I know."
Him: "When I said X, did you really think I meant Y?"
Me: "Uh... sorry?"
Him: "I forgive you."
Me: "Thanks."
Him: "Now let's talk about what you did right."
Me: "Sweet."
Him: "Thanks for loving the least of my children."
Me: "Uh... you're welcome? Who were they?"

The trouble is, I don't know who "they" are. I have a really hard time loving my enemies. I have a hard time thinking charitably toward people I consider crackheads (the bad kind, of course). I am not always nice to people I should be nice to. I call people bad names in traffic. I yell at my kids. I snap at people when I'm tired or stressed or irritated. I say mean things mostly without intending to, but sometimes I'm just being mean. So I know I don't always do it right. I probably mess up more than I succeed.

That said, I try really hard not to publicly tear someone down. As a Christian, it's not my job to post a million blogs about the people I think are going to hell. Nor is it my job to let the world know who I think is sinning. There's enough sin in my own life, thanks. If you love the sinner but hate the sin, I don't think it means attacking that person- verbally, Tweetally, or otherwise.

If you posted something bad about Rob Bell, please know this isn't personally directed at you. I saw at least 50+ posts that made my heart hurt. I know you're trying to spread the truth the best you can. But I implore you, please take a moment to ask God to share his love for Rob with you. Maybe you aren't posting mean things about Rob. Maybe your hot button is one of the other many controversial issues floating out there. Will you think about how your words can reflect love instead of hate?

Rob Bell is not my enemy. People who attack Rob Bell are not my enemy. My enemy is hate. And as much as it makes my heart hurt to see the hate floating around cyberspace, I'm trying to do my very best to respond in love.

Will you join me?


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Confessions of a codependent doggie mama

[caption id="attachment_4222" align="alignleft" width="300"]How can I work without my dog? How can I work without my dog?[/caption]

There I said it. I am a codependent doggie mama. I love my doggie, probably more than I should, and it probably meets conditions of more psychological dysfunction than mere codependency. But we won't discuss that. After all, that's why I pay a therapist. ;)

My dog is having his teeth cleaned today. But since going to the vet, groomer, or anything else that involves me dropping him off and leaving him is SO traumatic, I scheduled it all into one big fun spa day. Well, if spa days involve going under anesthesia and getting an IV. Anyway, he's getting the works- teeth cleaning, immunizations, exam, bloodwork, grooming... pretty much anything a healthy 13 year old dog needs to have done. I should be getting back a new dog.

But while he's gone, I miss him. The space next to me is empty, and it makes me sad. Every once and a while, I forget where he is, so I get up and go looking for him. After searching my house, my yard, and an instant of panic, I remembered. I seriously do not know how I will survive when he dies. But he's healthy, so even though he's 13, I have lots of time, right?!

I decided to look up codependency, since I can't focus on anything but my missing dog. I didn't like those quizzes, because talk more about HUMAN relationships, and mine is all about my dog. So here's my own quiz. Take it and see if you have a codependent relationship with your pet.

1. You're eating dinner and your pet wants your attention. Do you:
a.) Feed it some of your dinner.
b.) Ignore it.
c.) Try really hard to ignore it since that's what Cesar says to do, but explain to your pet that it's for his own good, and you'll feed him just as soon as you're done. Then rush through dinner so you can feed your pet.

2. You buy your pet's treats at:
a.) A specialty pet store that allows my pet to come in and pick his own treats. Nothing but the best for my pet.
b.) What treats? Pets don't need treats
c.) Wherever I happen to be that has something I think my pet might like

3. When you die, you've made provisions for your pet. They are:

a.) I'm leaving everything to my pet, of course. My trustee will take good care of my pet when I die.
b.) Are you freaking kidding me?
c.) I'm not sure my pet can live without me. My pet will be euthanized and buried with me.

4. When you are not with your pet, you feel:

a.) What kind of crazy person isn't with their pet 24/7?
b.) I'm sure my pet is fine. I'm fine.
c.) Alone and depressed, longing for our reunion.

5. If your pet predeceases you, you will:

a.) Have it cryogenically frozen to bring back when technology allows.b.) Where's the shovel?
c.) Have its ashes turned into a diamond that I will make into a ring so beloved is always with me.

6. You consult your pet on decisions:

a.) I have no opinion that my pet did not give me.
b.) Pets can't make decisions.
c.) When I need the vote to swing my way. My pet shares all of my opinions.

7. How much money do you spend on your pet?

a.) Everything I own belongs to my pet.
b.) Only what I have to.
c.) I make sure my pet gets the best without going overboard.

8. What do you feed your pet?

a.) Homemade food.
b.) Whatever's on sale.
c.) What my vet recommends.

9. Where does your pet sleep?

a.) In a specially designed pet co-sleeper.
b.) Its kennel.
c.) With me.

10. My pet is...

a.) My entire universe.b.) a pet.
c.) A good portion of my universe, but sometimes I let other things slip in, like my family.

Scoring the test:

If you scored mostly A, then you're crazier than me. Get help right away! If you scored mostly B, you don't deserve to own a pet. Take it back, and get something easier on your emotions, like a rock. Unless your pet is a rock. Then, good for you! If you scored mostly C, well, all C's, then hey, we got the same score! I see no real problem here.

(Please note, this test is for fun. If you suspect that you or a loved one may have a problem with your relationship with your pet, you should seek professional help, not the blog of a lady missing her dog.)