Thursday, July 28, 2016

Time to Put the Pen Down

As I sit here and write, I'm contemplating even continuing my writing. If it wasn't bad enough, while posting a previous article onto my Facebook account, they had rejected it, stating that it would not show up on my readers' feeds, and will still be posted onto my page. So basically, if you're reader of mine and a 'fan' on Facebook, you would have to literally hop onto my page in order to see the article and link. I was frustrated, because I didn't do anything out of the Facebook guidelines that would have had me censored. I don't use profanity, promote alcohol nor do I use sexually explicit content or photos. So then, why censor me? It was just another hurdle to jump, in regards to my writing career altogether. I've been facing a lot of challenges, to which made me think about other options in life. What can I do besides writing? What would be my ultimate passion, rather than jot down my deepest thoughts, personal views as well as help those who suffer from anxiety, depression as well as discrimination? I can still write my heart out, but it's going to be difficult to send out to the masses if they don't know I've written anything. So there's that.

I'm just here. On a blog. On a Facebook post that is being hidden from those who truly need to read it.

And perhaps it's not downright failure in a sense, but rather another obstacle to try and figure out another way to perfect my craft. Have you ever done something you loved so much, in hopes that one day it would of at least helped someone who came across your craft? Then someone else who does something similar to what you're doing comes along and just blows you away. You look at their work from every angle (disappointed) and ask, "Why not me?" You start to notice the typos and all of the sentences that need to be rephrased and think, "Why not ME?" And then you look at the audience who is making this writer fat in the pockets. Then it dawns on you -- what people love most is divisiveness. I remember a while back, I had written some controversial posts which brought in the masses. I stopped doing that because it wasn't doing anything productive other than provoke anger and unnecessary bickering. It divided people even more. I didn't want that any longer.

So I'm here. On a blog. On a Facebook post that is being hidden from those who truly need to read it.

I may just take a much needed break from writing for now. Bear with me as I face some difficult hurdles.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

What Happens to Our Faith When We Lose Someone We Love?

Many times I've thought about this. I've heard some people cry out, "Why did God let this happen?" And sometimes, there are those who completely lose faith in God because someone they love had passed away. Death is inevitable. Losing loved ones is inevitable. We know these facts to be true, so why do some of us get so incredibly angry once they lose their loved ones? If your faith in whatever religion you practice is strong, then why can't you comprehend that all life goes -- and in most faiths -- go to God?

Today is July 21rst. On this day, four years ago, I lost my father at 12:21 in the afternoon. He lost his battle with cancer. For some strange reason, most of our relatives die on the 21rst, and on the 21rst minute. And for some odd reason, I always see the number, 12:21, or 1221, as those who see 11:11 all the time on the clock.

My father was sent to hospice one week before he passed away. The thing is -- it happened so suddenly -- he declined really quickly after he had taken a hard fall which left him with a broken hip. After that, it was just spiraled downhill from there. I remember him saying to me, "Deb, all I want is another ten years!" And all he had was another week left. My family and I all trekked up to hospice every single day. On day seven, on July 21, 2012, I decided to take a "mental health day". My wife was home with me. I asked her to take the day off with me -- I don't know why, but now looking back, I do. I had grabbed a cup of coffee and sat outside on the deck with Madelene. Something strange happened though. I felt different. I felt a wave of calmness. And at 12:21, this moth with a descending angel on it appeared right on my coffee table outside, right next to my mug.

Funny, I seemed to have strengthen my faith due to losing my dad. I've had so many signs and dreams  that cannot be explained. It rejuvenated my faith to a much higher level. It was like, I knew that I knew that I knew...that something out there, someone out there, a God, a deity, a higher power was definitely evident and willing to show proof. Not many people get proof of a god or their own faith. Some people lose hope and turn to atheism, hoping to get questions answered, hoping to find themselves, and most of all, find God again.

When Dad left us, there was an unspeakable and indescribable sense of peace that overcame us. We were all able to sit down during dinner and talk about Dad in positive ways. It's not like we wanted him to leave us -- but we wanted the suffering to end. We couldn't bear it any longer. All of us, tired and exhausted from being "on call" for another trip to the hospital in the middle of the night, or taking turns sitting with him while he zoned out on all those pain meds that made him into a zombie. Most of our suffering was during the time of his suffering. So when his suffering ended, it almost felt like our suffering lessened, but now with the remaining loss, the remaining void of our father and my mother's husband. And as I've said before, the silence around here is almost deafening. His prominent energy, loud laughter, and his powerful personality is all a memory now.

If you've ever dealt with watching a loved one suffer with a disease, especially the big "C", it's just excruciating to endure. It truly puts your faith on the line. Many prayers go unanswered, but in reality, they were answered. We feel ignored by God or somehow, ripped off. During times of desperation during our grief, we sometimes want to reach out to psychic mediums and find out if they're okay -- as if we could possibly do something about it. We wander over into other faith systems and see what their beliefs are like. We then seem to close off "religion" or "God" a little, because sometimes, it angers us that we have to go through this heartbreaking time in our life. No one's immune to death or immune to losing someone through death.

For me, I delved back into my faith because I noticed the miracles. Be open to the little "hellos" and the subtle signs of God speaking volumes to you. It may not come in the form of a voice, a letter, an email or other types of "black and white" messages. You have to be open to seeing the possibilities of the afterlife. I became more aware and conscious. I started to wake up and when I did, I saw all the blessings of life and death.

Jesus said, "There are many rooms in my Father's home, and I am going to prepare a place for you. If this were not so, I would tell you plainly." --John 14:2

"We know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down--when we die and leave these bodies--we will have a home in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long for the day when we will put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will not be spirits without bodies, but we will put on new heavenly bodies. Our dying bodies make us groan and sigh, but it's not that we want to die and have no bodies at all. We want to slip into our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by everlasting life. God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit. So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. That is why we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident and we would rather be away from these bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord." --2 Corinthians 5:1-8

Planting a tree for Dad.
A couple of weeks ago, a friend had stated that it was going to be her mother's 4th year in heaven in a couple of days. The dates of our lost loves ones are hard to deal with. But if you can think of it in a positive way and do something constructively positive, like planting a tree in their name, or perhaps celebrating their everlasting life through cooking a nice meal -- then that day alone will feel "special" and not so dreadful. Be open to signs and hellos from your loved ones, especially on their day of passing. Let it strengthen your faith or see beyond this third dimensional world. This veil between life and the spiritual world is so incredibly thin, that we need to be open and receptive to actually feel their presence with us. Because they're right here, all the time, at any given time.

Have faith.

And may all of us rest in peace. Our minds are overloaded, overwhelmed and saddened by losses of our loved ones. They're at rest and we're not. Think about that for a second. They're actually telling us to "rest in peace" while their souls are free and painless. We suffer so terribly. Let them see us conquer this dreadful world. And let them also see us appreciate this beautiful world. There is good and bad, depending on how our minds perceive it.

Never lose faith.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Friday, July 08, 2016

The World's Gone Mad

The world has completely divided, separating into groups who are against other groups. Political, religious, racial -- we're all at odds with one another. I am opening up my eyes to one thing: just because one bad egg in a particular group goes haywire, doesn't mean all of them are bad.  For instance, I had a moment of insanity yesterday afternoon when one Trump supporter insulted me. I almost had a knee-jerk reaction to detest the entire group. But then, a few of my friends who are Trump supporters took the time out to explain their views to me, which were far from hateful. Then I saw one of my friends on Periscope. He's a black man in his mid 30's or so who was speaking about what happened to Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. He stated that all blacks and all whites should separate and live in their own societies. He was angry. He also said that the reason why most black people are poor and live in the ghetto with drug and alcohol addictions is because of white people. He said to me, "I bet you have a nice house and a car, right?" He assumed it was only because I was white. He blamed white people for "making" black people alcoholics. He said that white people pushed alcohol on them, leaving no accountability for the person drinking. As I kept listening to him, more and more people were commenting about his views on white people. He said, "All white people are racists -- you can't tell me otherwise." So I told him, "I'm white and I have no ill feelings toward you, or anyone else who's black." He then said, "Oh yeah? I bet your parents wouldn't let you date a black man...?" So I just told him it would be hard since I'm a lesbian. (Trying to lighten up the mood, but he wasn't having it.) I just left it at that. But the fact is, I wasn't allowed to date black guys when I was younger. I didn't understand it either, and I can only contribute it to the old fashioned Italian mindset...ignorance...lack of exposure...handed down views...and so on. I wonder why I never accepted the mindset as I was brought up with it. But he was way too angry to even talk to.

My friend, now former due to his anger toward white people, is angry and rightfully so I guess. Why are there some cops who shoot black people? Why are there some citizens who kill cops? And the people they are all shooting may not even be the opposition. We're labeling them as a "whole" and not getting facts. We're furious and taking it out on anyone who seems to be apart of the group we're against.

Why are we so against...?

The hardest division for me is that some (not all) Christians are against me being apart of their faith because I'm gay. I even heard one person say to me, "Either call yourself a lesbian and lose the Christian part, or be a Christian and stop being a lesbian." What a simple solution! I was pushed away, shunned and even reprimanded by my own church who said it was a "dead end road". Not all Christians treated me like that though. I was welcomed by many who accepted me. I even met Christian pastors and Lutheran priests who were also gay. I am incredibly thankful that my bad experiences with just a few Christians didn't make me "hate" the entire group. And I say "hate" because that's what we do when we feel oppressed. We feel resentful. We want justice and we start acting upon our initial fear and bitterness. When you act on fear and bitterness, it's "hatred".

Not all cops are racists. Not all cops are trigger happy. The same applies: not all black people have guns or cause violence. Not all black people are drug addicts. But we assume the stereotypical traits of a particular group. Just as you have with Trump supporters: not all supporters are racist and uneducated. Many at these rallies seem to hold that trait, especially in my local town, Sugarloaf, NY.  There's a really great Mexican restaurant named, The Cancun Inn owned by the nicest people. They inevitably got run over by the Trump train. A lady named Esther Levy and her friend, Alvin Goldstein said they got kicked out of the eatery because Esther was wearing a Trump hat and a Trump pin. But as it turns out, stories are being told that the couple had one too many drinks and started badgering the staff, saying that their ancestors came here legally and demanded proof of their citizenship. They were definitely invoking a reaction, especially wearing the Trump gear. You can't tell me that it shouldn't matter. If you know how hurt and offended Mexicans are by Trump's views, then you should also know that you're also going to get less than desirable service if you're doing something intentionally to hurt somebody. It's just common sense. As I stated before, not all Trump supporters are out to start a fight. Unfortunately, these people were.

Yesterday, they found a black man hanging from a tree in Piedmont Park in Atlanta, GA. The police department stated that it was consistent with a suicide, but still have yet to do a full autopsy. They said there were no signs of a struggle or foul play. Some people said that the Ku Klux Klan were seen passing around flyers that day. Many do not believe this man's death was a suicide. And honestly, I don't even believe it. I mean, on one hand, I can definitely see someone getting so frustrated over the racial wars that've been going on and just decided he didn't want to be apart of that world any longer. But you can't just leave it at that! There's so much anger on both sides. Black people are angry, white people are angry -- everyone seems to be angered by all this. Nobody's going to believe the police that it was just a suicide. Nobody. Even if it's consistent with a suicide, INVESTIGATE more.

There is a past that's not being forgiven. There's also a past that some people aren't letting go of, whether you are white, black, gay, Christian or Jewish. There are many black people who simply cannot let go and forgive the past of what their ancestors went through. At the same time, there are many white people who refuse to let go of racism, i.e.: KKK, southern white supremacists, political racists, etc. And because of this tragic history of ours, we continue to live in the past and not the present. We're making things worse and worse. Our egos are getting bigger and bigger. The anger we're holding onto will only manifest in a much larger capacity. It's almost as if we're moving backwards in society. The progression we've made has gone down the drain. The hidden resentment and anger has reared its ugly head. We're now seeing the true colors -- the true opinions, the true intentions and feelings towards certain groups.

It was really disheartening to see that anti-semitism still exists in the town that I grew up in. Kiyras Joel is a small Hasidic section of Monroe, NY. It used to be small, but now they have expanded and continuing to do so. They wanted to annex 500+ acres and expand their community within the town of Monroe. The citizens of Monroe are outraged, only because of the unethical ways they have obtained their land and water supply. Many are on Medicaid and welfare while maintaining high paying jobs in NYC that's supposedly not accounted for. Kiryas Joel is, at least on paper, the poorest community in the entire United States.  The incomes are not reported and section 8 is prominent in this community. The amount of corruption in this seemingly "small" community has the people of Monroe ready for war. Even though their anger is justified by the dishonesty of some citizens in Kiyras Joel, there are "some" people of Monroe who are so angry, that they are pouring out anti-semitism all over social media. I wrote an article about Kiyras Joel here. It speaks about my own experience dealing with this community. From observations alone, and by working for the local telephone company, they would provide me with a social security number in order to open up a new account. Most of the social security numbers were from a deceased loved one or a very young child. They used a dead person’s identity or a child’s, in order to open up an account.  I wasn’t going to say, ‘all of them’ do this, because that would be wrong. Many of the residents of Kiryas Joel were found on fraudulent assistance from the government or using somebody else's identity from Medicare or Medicaid to get a discount. So the bulk weren't all "disabled" or "poor" --- they were using fake identification cards to get a lower cost. The village of Kiyras Joel also paid off Gov. Cuomo under the table in order to buy more land that wasn't agreed upon by the neighboring towns. And so, the war begun. For a few of our Monroe residents, it was no longer about the corruption. The anger intensified so much so, that it became more bout anti-semitism than it did about the illegal business they were doing. Is anti-semitism a legit and rational response to the corruption of this community?

My point of this is: just because a few bad eggs have ruined the reputation for whichever group, you cannot place blame on all of them. Just like my black friend on Periscope -- he blamed ME for his oppression. He blamed ME for the alcoholism in his community. He blamed ME for his family and friends living in section 8. He blamed...me. I'm on his side, but yet he doesn't believe me. Why should he? I'm white. So now, in his mind, all white people are racists. He mentioned that I was never oppressed. I'm a white Christian lesbian. I have been with my wife for 22 years. It was only in 2008 that we were "allowed' to marry each other. And while I admit that it's not like being black and driving in a white neighborhood and getting pulled over, I also know that I always give the benefit of the doubt for all people: cops, blacks, criminals, white people, Hasidic Jews -- anyone who seems to be getting the backlash for their own people. It's not fair. I will never put a label on you just because you belong to a particular group. I will never assume "you're one of them", or that you hate me because "I'm one of them".

Shouldn't we all be one?

In a perfect world...in a perfect world.



For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

When You Love Yourself, You're Able to Love Others the Same

"Is your god better than my god?"
Losing a friend is strange, isn't it? I've lost a couple. I guess you can say it ended due to a conflict of interest for the most part. Some of my friendships ended on some sort of strange political view, to which I decided to just end it altogether. The thing is, friends and family members really shouldn't discuss anything political. On a religious note, if you share the same faith -- fine. But there are people who just can't "share" -- they have to use their bullhorn and blast you out of the park with their "GOD" and how you should worship who they worship.

No. It doesn't work that way.

Many of my friends are usually Christian heterosexuals who feel the need to tell me that I'm going to hell for being married to my wife of 22 years. And of course, I'm confident enough in my own faith to believe otherwise. If you'd like to read about my theology -- click here. Trust me, it's not some "gay agenda" I'm trying to sell you. It's just my faith. But like my friends who worship another God -- we respect each other's beliefs. We don't call each other sinners. It's so strange because one would think two totally different people of faith would be of more conflict, but it's not. Christians are fighting with Christians more than they do than those who reject their god. It's not that I'm weak in my faith in God, but it shows that my faith and confidence in my God is much stronger than petty fights with someone else's ego.

And there's that word again: ego.

The ego needs to be right all the time. It needs to have you agree with them. And if it fails to do so, then the ego goes into fight mode. It's impossible to argue with someone with an extremely large ego. It's not even about the topic at hand anymore -- it's about them and their faith and that if their faith is wrong, then they basically lose. (Or lose it.)

So one day, since my highly religious friend continues to pray for me because she's convinced that my destiny is in a fiery lake of hell, I then decided to end the friendship altogether. It was too much maintenance and too much "explaining" to do. There were too many bible verses that were going to be tossed around like a volleyball. I mean, come on, let's face it -- it's totally pointless if you're not going to use scriptures to uplift someone. People are getting way too comfortable reading off scriptures and using it to bash other people with, or to make them feel bad about themselves. This is so wrong. The only thing they're doing is scaring them away from God.

Your faith, my faith, anyone's faith is not science-based. (No I am not going into atheism here, bear with me.) Our faith is of a spiritual nature which nobody can prove. Nobody. And although I have had quite a few spiritual experiences which cannot be explained or proven, this is why my faith is so strong. I know for myself that God is here, and that God does accept me 'as is' and doesn't think I'm a filthy heathen as all of His followers seem to think. He knows my heart and He understands why people do the things they do.

When you threaten someone's faith system that has been instilled for many years, even maybe since childhood, you threaten their ego. You threaten the one thing that has held them together. You also "may" be threatening their own true sexual orientation or identity. So there's that. A topic for another time. When someone is confident in their arguments, there isn't any name calling, nor is there any desire to continue the debate, because debates happen when two unconfident people are trying to seek out the truth. I don't argue anymore because for me, I already know. But I'm not going to push my religion -- eh that word irks me -- my faith upon other people and make them feel uncomfortable. It's my own personal journey. If you want me to share it, then I would gladly do so. But I wouldn't share it in hopes it knocks some sense in ya. That's not how I do things.

Let me sidetrack for a sec...

When my dad got diagnosed with cancer back in 2010, we were all so terrified to lose him. I guess for all of us, losing a parent is most terrifying. When he passed over, my world was muted. It's like walking into a busy fairground filled with people laughing and having fun, and then all of the sudden, the sound disappears. It's the only way I can explain what I mean. Someone muted my world. His voice would fill a room (or two or three) and his presence alone was always noticed. His spirit, his lively being, was so bright, that you couldn't ignore it. His wheezy laughter is gone, his loud jokes are now evaporated into nothingness. It's so silent around here. Even his personal belongings, trucks and bulldozers and heavy equipment, one by one vanished. The property looks empty (cleaner) but empty.

He rarely spoke about God, even though he was brought up in a Catholic household. Both my parents raised me to be Catholic. I went through the motions of communion, confirmation, Catholic night school -- you name it. But dad rarely shared his feelings about God, until he got sick. He knew that my wife and I were believers and asked us to pray over him one day. He held my hand and stared at me like a little boy, scared and shaken from the excruciating pain. The sicker he got, the more questions he asked. Then one day, Madelene's mother came over with her husband, both who are apart of the church. They took my father in a private room and asked if he accepted Jesus as his Savior. He accepted and repented of his sins. That's huge for someone to do when they're new Christians. After that day, it was as if he was a different person. He didn't fuss over the small things anymore. My mom even noticed it. And so, I never question where my dad is right now. In fact, I see him in my dreams and he helps me with many things. We have conversations in the dream. The number that I constantly see is 12:21 on the clock, whether day or night. It was the same time he went to be with God. I've been seeing that number a lot lately, especially when I'm going through a rough time. I truly believe his spirit is around me, as well as in heaven.

So my point of this story is this: my dad came to me in a dream (whether you believe this or not), and explained why he was the "tough guy who didn't need God" all his life. He said that his ego couldn't get out of its own way. His ego led him to appear tough, strong, resilient, but he stated that inside, he was just a scared little boy hoping to scare off the bad guys. He wanted to protect his family, and so he puffed up his chest and pretended to be bigger than he was. And he was a big guy! It all made sense now. He had to play that role in order to make us feel safe. But he didn't have to do that in retrospect. All he had to do was accept himself as is, but at that point, his ego was large enough to crush mountains. And so he continued on as the 'scary big guy on top of the mountain'. And we loved him anyway.

The ego hides the 'little boy' or 'little girl' that's deep inside. The ego tries to protect the vulnerability, the humanness of one's being. It's also a survival mechanism that many use in order to navigate around this scary world. Even those who live in downtrodden urban areas use their ego as a safeguard against other large egomaniacs. It never ends and continues to thrive off one another, making itself larger than the other. When it comes down to politics, especially for those who are oppressed, the outrage by many communities will also have their egos puffing out their chests in order to become heard and seen by all. We don't have any candidates who we can safely stand behind without getting backlash for our support. Think about it: each side loathes the other tremendously -- more than any other election in history. It's gotten so bad, that people have done lost their minds. Friendships are ending and so is our entire sense of respect for one another.

Whenever you hear me talk about politics, it's never one sided nor is it ever clear on who I am supporting. In fact, I rarely ever participate in political conversations, unless I see someone hurting another person due to religious views. The non-scientitifc side of politics seems to override anything logical. And while I rely on my "non-scientific faith" -- I also don't use it to beat someone to a bloody pulp with. Religion is a 'bad' word in my opinion. Spiritual faith should not hurt! What are we doing to one another? Why can't people accept others who don't necessarily fit their view of "God"? Why can't they just live their life and let others live theirs? They can't, because their ego is blinding them. Most homophobic people are scared that other people's lifestyles will impact the way their children live or persuade them to live an ungodly life. Perhaps they'll become one of those "dirty, filthy heathens". I've been called so many horrible names by our Christian community, and yet I still stand strong, being a Christian and relying on my faith and my God to get me through.

In politics, each side of the coin is corrupt. Why lose friendships and family members over such nonsense? How large is your own ego? Can you safely sit down with someone of the opposite political party or someone who doesn't believe in your god? How much strength would it take to fully accept someone for who they are and what they stand for? How much strength would it take to just love people as they are? But first, you have to love yourself. Maybe that's the issue we should all be discussing.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Myoclonus, Sleep Starts, Sleep Jerks, Hypnic Jerks: Silently Suffering

Back in May, I believe I wrote about the same issue that I've been dealing with. I wish I could say it's insomnia, but it's not. I live a very strange lifestyle now. (No, not the type you're thinking...) But strange in the terms of off-schedule, not the norm, whatever you wanna call it type of 'strange'. I'm very open about my anxiety disorder, and that can sometimes be quite debilitating. Many people who don't understand anxiety brush it off and just tell ya to "get over it" and "face your fears" -- blah blah blah. And while that holds up to be very true, and in fact, I face at least one fear a day, it still comes on like a beast, and sometimes unexpectedly. My "beast" happens to find me at night while I'm all comfy in my bed about to fall asleep. There is absolutely nothing brewing in my little noggin other than listening to the beautiful sounds of crickets and frogs from the window left open besides me. I can't tell you how incredibly peaceful our bedroom is. It's clean, it smells like lavender, and I have an awesome dog to snuggle with....and wife. (Had to add her in there.)

So picture this: you're about to fall asleep. Your eyes are closed, your body's relaxed, and you're already dozing off. Before you can get to that 'sleep stage', your body starts jerking violently and your breathing completely stops. You can't breathe in or out -- it. just. stops. So now your arms are flailing trying to signal your spouse that you need help! This lasts for a good ten seconds. And sometimes, those ten seconds don't have enough breath in you, so you begin to black out from a lack of oxygen. After your episode ends, you're out of breath, sitting on the edge of the bed with a huge migraine and your heart going up to 200 bpms. The migraine is also due to a lack of oxygen. After a while, you start getting sleepy again, so you try going back to sleep. But it happens every. single. time. you. try. It gets to the point where you just stand up, walk yourself over to the living room and watch TV. But you're so incredibly tired!!! You just wanna sleep. It's not insomnia. It's like the devil choking you for shits & giggles.

"Maybe it's sleep apnea?"

No. I have been to a couple of sleep studies already, two pulmonologists, and three neurologists. They all wanted to throw me Klonopin and call it a day.  They all diagnosed me with myoclonus. It's another word for, "I really don't know why your body is doing that" type of diagnosis. They also said it can be anxiety and left it at that. This has nothing to do with anxiety. After last night, I can completely tell that something is definitely wrong with my wiring. I mean, that's a given, but this is to a whole new level. So now, my wife is trying to get an appointment with an endocrinologist (a hormonal specialist) to see if they could help. It never ends. This has been happening every single night for the past couple of years. I have had them on and off for seven years though. But it wasn't a big enough deal -- they were just "sleep jerks" or "sleep starts". I can deal with that. My usual night involves at least 5-7 episodes, until I am totally worn out at around 5am. So I go to sleep at 5am and wake up at 11am. I'm grateful that I can work anytime and anywhere, but I LOVE getting up early in the morning, making coffee and having breakfast with my wife, commuting two feet to the office and starting work.

The night won't let me sleep.

As of late, I've been slipping into our living room to bunk out there from time to time, but they still come on like the devil. My mother and father in law gave us holy anointing oil and prayed over me while we were all on vacation last May. It helped to some degree. Every 'remedy' helps to some degree and then BAM -- it's back to the torture chamber. I sage my house, I pray over each room, I meditate and try to connect with God on a daily basis, which helps me emotionally. So whether or not I'll have this for the rest of my life -- my faith is still my #1 go-to.

I'm not well at all. I also know that things can be so much worse. But how do you explain to your family and friends who rely on you, "I just can't make it today," or tell them that you have to cancel out on plans or stay in because you were up the entire night? Sometimes I'm functioning on 4-5 days of zero sleep. I'm delusional and punch-drunk. I can't even think. This has affected my life so greatly that it even came down to suicidal thoughts from time to time. I rattle off things like, "I wish God would just take me this time," or I'll mutter out, "I'm too tired to live!" I don't want to be too tired. I've also put on more weight because being up all night long, I get hungry because I'm not sleeping. My hormones are probably a huge contributor to this as well. When someone says, "Well just exercise," and you look at them with your overly-medicated gaze thinking, "Are you nuts?" The Lorazepam doesn't work anymore. At this point, it's either upping the dosage or weaning off like I was supposed to do.

So there's that.

Good news is: I don't have epilepsy, nor do I have anything neurologically wrong with me. ...So what's wrong with me? I've had countless nights searching Google for people who have the same symptoms and wow -- so many people experience what I do, but like myself, they can't get the answers to help themselves. It's frustrating to say the least. I'm crying as I type this right now because people don't realize how much this can affect your life. At the risk of sounding like some crazy nutcase -- I need help. So I'm writing this post openly in hopes that people who Google the words, "insomnia", "sleep disorder", "myoclonus" and "sleep jerks" may have some kind of solution or can relate to it. Please send me a message over on my Facebook account or on the sidebar, there's a message option that goes straight into my personal email.

I've tried everything in case it was anxiety. I got a pedicure and massage the other day, went to get my hair done, I meditated and made the bedroom my sanctuary. I used lavender oils and soft music to relax me and stayed off my phone a couple of hours before turning in. Nothing -- nothing helped! I did elimination diets, I tried losing weight, I tried exercising, I tried everything you can possibly think that was a healthy start to ending these episodes. And...nothing. I even tried magnesium at night in the form of Natural Calm. That helped to some degree -- it mostly helped with muscle pain, to which I still use. It does have a calming effect and I love it -- but it doesn't help with these episodes.

This is not one of my usual posts. I'm usually trying to help other people. This time, I'm asking for other people to help me. I'm not a big fan of "me me me" posts, but I'm desperate. If you or someone you know experiences what I do, please email me or find me on my Facebook page. Please.
And thank you.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Pain is Inevitable. Suffering is Optional

Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves - regret for the past and fear of the future.             ― Fulton Oursler

It's amazing how time flies. It only seems like yesterday when I was a little girl lying on the grass looking up at the sky with my older sisters without a care in the world. We never left the poolside in the summertime. My mom would come out with a huge tray of iced tea and sandwiches after a long morning of swimming and playing. My dad would normally get home from work at around 3 o'clock in the afternoon. His big black van would swoop around the corner, and park nearby the pool area. He'd make a few snarky comments like, "Youz' have the life, you know dat?" He would chuckle and poke fun at us for a while, and then he'd go straight into the house and nap until around 6ish because of his long day working over at the fish market in NYC, to only have to wake up at 2am to do it all over again. We had so many friends come in and out of our home, countless parties and dinners with extended family -- it kinda seems like a dream now. Things were different back then. Or maybe, things are just what they're supposed to be, because I'm an adult looking back in on my past.

I honestly can't say that I've regretted anything in my past -- unless it's things like words I should've never let pass through my lips from time to time, but overall, no action was completely regretted. (Maybe a few wine-filled nights, but that's without saying...) I'd like to think that I have a good head on my shoulders. I understand life much more after I hit the ripe young age of 40. It's funny how blind you can be as a child growing up. You truly do not know your parents, as well as your siblings sometimes. Relationships are complicated. Many things are left unsaid and/or never revealed, only leaving you in a state of blissful ignorance. And it is bliss, or would've been bliss if we didn't find out "this" or "that". We wanted our world to be perfect. And most of the time, our parents hide their darkest secrets in order to save us from the trauma they were experiencing themselves. So with that, some things left unsaid can be a good thing in retrospect. Hindsight is 20/20.

Death is inevitable for all of us...I guess. My greatest fear as a child was losing my parents. And watching Dad suffer so terribly...so horrifically...so tragically, until his last breath was unfathomable. I honestly didn't get to recover long enough before Mom was diagnosed with cancer. So not only was I still mourning for the past, but I was fearing for the future. I was fearing watching my mom go through the same phases as Dad. Hey, everybody goes through it, right? In my mind: No! "It wasn't supposed to happen like this! It wasn't supposed to be so hard! It wasn't supposed to be..." And so I broke down and took the rest of the painkillers that were prescribed to me for my back pain. It wasn't enough to kill me, but enough to wonder if the alcohol combined with it would. And so, I found myself in the ER getting my stomach pumped and got the ol' "stern-tough-love" lecture by one of the doctors who wanted to throw me into a psyche ward. But since this was a questionable occurrence, as I told him I had forgotten how much medication I had taken before having that 2nd glass of wine (5th) -- then he decided it was an "accidental overdose".

That was my wakeup call. I mean -- nobody truly wants to kill themselves. Studies have shown that suicide survivors say one thing before they think they're dying. "I don't wanna die!" For me, it was a cry for help. This was only two years ago. I remember the first therapist I saw after this incident. Till this day, she's still hearing my stories and helping me in significant ways. I found other ways of coping and managing my fears. I even sought out for books that really changed my view about life and death and things we fear the most. I've read, The Power of Now, and The New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle and Dying to be Me, by Anita Moorjani. These books were complete life changers. The more I read from enlightened spiritual teachers, the more I began to realize and understand how so very fragile we are as human beings. I understood how much stronger the spirit is though. And as controversial as "life after death" can be -- I know that without a doubt, there is life on the other side. None of these authors and spiritual teachers persuaded me from my own faith in Christianity. They only increased it. Anita Moorjani began to help me personally, to which I am so grateful for. I believe our encounter wasn't a coincidence either. We met on not so friendly terms when I questioned her beliefs, as well as her empathy towards "bad people" -- like terrorists. From there, I learned one thing: hurt people hurt. It's the cycle of the human condition. And whether we like it or not, there will always be "good" and "bad" perceived in our minds, when in fact, it's all supposed to 'be'.

I began to calm down. My reactions toward things that would upset me lessened and I became somewhat mellow -- unlike my anxiety-ridden self. My outward circumstances would no longer rattle my cage. It was only up to me of how I was going to handle it or react to it. In the same breath, I will say this: I cannot be around negative or fearful people as much. That was what I was trying to get rid of in the first place. So when someone comes along and displays all of those fears and emotions I once had -- it automatically kicks in my retro-thinking (as I call it) and stirs it back up again.  Thing is -- when someone is extremely negative, they cannot hear you. They will listen (if you get a word in edgewise) to only respond. That's why I tend to shut down or disappear if I'm around too many people or someone who is negative. For me it's like sensory overload. My system can't take it so I emotionally as well as physically shut down for a day or two to recover. I understand people have problems, as we all do, but wouldn't it be nice if we could share our problems instead of invoke fear and intimidation towards someone who is only there to help us or stand by us?

It was interesting to learn what a "pain-body" was.  I never heard of this term before until I read Eckhart Tolle's books. A pain-body leaves behind an energy form of emotional pain. It comes together with other energy forms from other instances, and so after some years you have a “pain-body,” an energy entity consisting of old emotion. It lives in human beings, and it is the emotional aspect of egoic consciousness. I guess psychics and mediums would call it a "dark energy" if they met someone with a dense pain-body -- but it's more or less our own consciousness drawing it up -- our old past wounds, or an unforgiving past. And it is dark. It'll haunt our present if we don't deal with it 'now'.  If you deal with it now, then you are yielding and not resisting. Because as the saying goes, whatever we resist, persists. If we keep fighting off the past or pushing away something that needs to be dealt with, it'll take on a much larger "pain-body", or "dark energy". Have you ever felt a negative vibe from somebody, whether you knew them or not? And the energy feels so thick that you just feel the need to run far far away from them? Or have you ever experienced somebody who only talks about negative things, or belittles and insults you? Those types of people carry a heavy pain-body. Their own emotional struggle will cause the "misery loves company" effect. Their own pain-body wants you to energize them. It wants you to relate to them. It wants you to feel what they are feeling.

But I digress.

After watching my mother go through months and months of chemo and radiation, I truly thought the worst. And it wasn't too long afterwards when we heard the doctors say, "Well, the radiation worked! She's cancer-free!"

Cancer-free. Cancer-free!

That's all that rang through my mind. That's all I could hear. That's all I needed. I soon found out that being "cancer-free" doesn't come without a hefty price. She now has to deal with the horrific side effects of the radiation which causes a great loss of blood. Mom's in and out of the hospital getting one transfusion after another. She doesn't do the things she loves anymore. She no longer can cook, or do menial tasks around the house. It takes all her strength to even leave her bedroom. Strange, because she was more mobile and functional when she had the cancer. So once I catch my mind wondering if she'll make it out of this 'cancer-free' stage, I quickly catch myself and focus on what's needed to be done right 'now'. But if someone comes along and starts rambling off "predictions" -- especially grim ones, I try to tune them out. And if they proverbially rape my ear with their own fears and negative thinking, then I need a "time out" and hide out for a while. I know how life works and I know that we are all going to die. But to even go as far as tomorrow makes me cringe -- for any of us. They say that anxiety is fear of the future and depression is focusing more on the past. Why are we choosing to live in any of these illusionary states? The past and future is unseen, only witnessed by the mind's eye. Any one of us could go at any given time. Don't bank your health on tomorrow when fate predicts a car accident today.

Getting back to when I was a young girl lying on the grass with my older sisters -- it's all about that young girl still. I guess the young girl inside me still wants to hold onto her childhood, or a sense of it: the security of having our loved ones always be there, the familiarity, the unconditional love, the connection and the sense of safety and security, even if you're the one taking care of everybody else. It's having them there that sets the stage of being a child again. Someone once told me a long time ago, that we only become adults once both our parents are gone. I had to let that sink in. But it makes sense. By holding on too tightly to our mortal parents, we are also holding onto a part of ourselves -- the part that's the child. The child screams, "Noooooo," while the adult comforts whatever's left of the person inside. Don't get me wrong, I would love to spend one day in my past, laughing and joking with dad and spending time with the family like we used to, but the reality of it is: people die, people change, people get ill and people are people. Nothing lasts forever and that in itself has to be accepted. If denied, then we suffer. Again, whatever we resist, persists, which equals to suffering.

We choose our joys and sorrows long before we experience them. ~~Khalil Gibran

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Homophobic, Heterophobic -- Let's Call the Whole Thing Off!

This week has been really strange. I came across quite a few Christians who showed their distaste for people of the LGBT community this week for whatever reason. They explained that it was "wrong" for two people of the same gender to be together because their bible told them so. They were surprised that I was Christian and yet still married (to which they don't consider it a marriage) to a woman. It's funny because these people were incredibly nice -- they just didn't agree with the lifestyle. Even when they said it was "wrong" -- they have been programmed to believe it was "wrong". And that's OK. But there's a fine line between having strong beliefs and hurting others with faith-based assumptions about a lifestyle that's not factual. And by the way, it doesn't help the situation by stating that you have a gay friend or that your sister or brother is gay. It's the same thing as saying, "My best friend is black," when being called out a racist.

I believe in the Bible, but the Bible is not "factual" according to its followers. Baffled? Why do so many Christians have different beliefs about "this" or "that" -- and yet they read the same book? I'm OK with someone saying, "Well, I believe that this scripture to be true," while I read the same scripture in a whole different light. Many people refuse to read the entire story -- the main gist of a historical event that (may have) taken place and just take one scripture, one line out of 'the movie' so to speak and use it to hurt others with. For instance, many Christians who are against the LGBT community will tell the story of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Basically, God says that He's going to destroy cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, if two angels cannot find any good people within the towns. Once the angels arrive, a kind man named Lot invites these angels into his home and entertains them. This angers the cities' men, and the men rallied outside of Lot's home, wishing to do "perverse actions" to these male angels. Moments later, the two cities are destroyed by fiery rain. Many anti-gay Christian ministers use this passage to say that this is an example of God’s wrath against homosexuality -- as if the men of Sodom were all gay, and all trying to "be gay with" these male angels. Historians and sociologists tell us that gang rape was a very common form of brutal humiliation of the subjects, in the ancient Western world. The Sodomite men did not come to Lot’s house to have monogamous, committed, loving relationships with the male angels residing there. They came to rape these angels. Also, MULTIPLE parts of the Bible (Luke 10: 10-13; Isaiah 19: 13-14; Jeremiah 23: 14; Ezekiel 16: 49; Zephaniah 2: 8-11) tell us that God despised the greed and their wickedness toward outsiders as their sin, not that fact that men wanted to “have sex” with men. The story of Sodom and Gomorrah was about rape and humiliation -- not a loving relationship between two people of the same gender.

 Leviticus 11, verse 7 forbids consuming pork because “though it has a split hoof completely divided, [the pig] does not chew the cud.”
Another quick rundown on the examples of how Christians take these scriptures is this: oftentimes, they will reference to Leviticus which has nothing to do with Christians. If it did have something to do with Christians, then we would not be able to eat shellfish, wear clothing of different fabrics, shave beards, have tattoos or sit next to a woman who is menstruating. These are Jewish laws that no longer apply to Christians. In Galatians, it clearly states that the Old Law was abolished once Jesus died on the cross.

No one will ever be saved by “obeying the law” — as it says in the scriptures... 

Galatians 2:15-16 —You and I are Jews by birth, not “sinners” like the gentiles. And yet we Jewish Christians know that we became right with God, not by doing what the law commands, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be accepted by God because of our faith in Christ - and not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be saved by obeying the law.

This passage is not to say, "Oh go out and hurt and kill people," -- it's saying that we are all imperfect and will never be sinless, which is why Jesus offered his life for us. If we don't believe that He has paid the price in full, then what do we believe in? It's like mocking his entire sacrifice and saying, "Well, I don't think it paid the entire price, I still think we need to be perfect."

Do you know what Jesus said the greatest commandment of all was? "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it -- thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."

There are many people who are afraid that their freedom of religion will be taken away. There are discriminative laws that do protect religious freedom to some extent. But the thing is -- if people who are religious use their "freedom" to discriminate against people they "believe" are sinners, then that's not fair. For instance -- your belief is not a fact. Your faith in Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism are all faith-based and non-factual belief systems. Skin color, sexual orientation, sexual identity and nationality are factual instances to which people are discriminated against. Religion is basically like some fairytale that people believe in and the FACT is -- not everyone is religious or holds the same beliefs. So what then?

As non-factual as I believe religion is -- my life relies on my faith in God. I know it's not factual for some people, but for me, I have witnessed God's work in my life. I have seen God. I have heard God. So for me -- it is factual. But I would never discriminate against someone else due to my faith. In fact, that's not what "my religion" teaches me -- that's not what "my God" teaches me. He teaches me to love everyone and to treat everyone as I were to treat myself. When I read the Bible and look at the scriptures in Corinthians and Romans that speak about homosexuality -- it is speaking solely upon the promiscuity of mankind -- not just homosexuals. As it says in Romans describing their orgies, "they burned with lust" -- this indicates that this was not a loving nature, but an animalistic type of passion between people who do not love one another. I read the passages and take it as "reckless sex" -- and of course, reckless sex is always a dangerous thing to tamper with, mind, body and soul.

There's another assumption made about the LGBT community which really gets to me. Some people feel that if you are gay, lesbian or transgender, then that means that you were either sexually abused to had great trauma in your childhood. When I think about my childhood, I think about unconditional love and the feeling of being safe. I was never abused nor do I remember any "trauma" when I was little. I know many heterosexuals who have been sexually abused when they were little who still remained straight. The whole assumption is quite pointless and ignorant on so many levels. And to give out statistics on it is just wrong because there are tons of gays and lesbians who haven't even come out of the closet yet. You cannot give a true statistic on the rate of abuse on gay and lesbian people compared to those who are straight.

So now that I have told you some of my beliefs on what the Bible and God says to me, there's something else that riles up this pot of hatred between the LGBT community and people who are Christian.

As a gay Christian, I do notice a lot of intolerance by the LGBT community towards Christian people. They're angry because they don't want other people telling them how to live and rightfully so. They usually resort to knee-jerk reactions, like threatening the lives of those who are against them or mocking them in general, especially protesting against their rights. I do believe that there are sincere Christians who are worried about our afterlife. That's OK -- then pray for us. But there are Christians who are very harsh and using the Bible for their very own hatred. And in turn, many of the LGBT community will strike back because their ego is hurt. I used to be one of those people.

I use the word "homophobic" when someone attacks me viciously. There's a psychological undertone of fear. Ignorance is based out of fear in most cases. We fear that our society is going to crap. We fear that our children will grow up to be gay. We fear that 'the gays' will take away our freedom of religion. And maybe, we fear that our own homosexual tendencies may rise up to the surface. What then? There is a Christian woman I know through social media who is against the LGBT community. She bravely admitted that at one point in her life, she had lesbian tendencies and strong feelings toward other women, but struggled to fight them off. She is now married to a wonderful man who is also Christian. It brings me back to the whole "I became a nun because I was a lesbian" type of scenario. Whether you "choose" to be in a gay or straight relationship, there is no choice on your true sexual orientation. So when a straight person asks me, "Did you choose to be a lesbian?" I always ask, "Did you choose to be straight?" My other question to her would be: do you genuinely love your husband as a man should be loved? Or are you just playing a role that you feel God wants you to play? I tried that years ago. I was engaged to a man once. But I didn't want to rip him off of the love that he truly deserved. I would have loved him, but not the type of love that a marriage should have.

In conclusion, the ego itself is tied up in everything: religion, race, gender, career, social status, vanity and wealth (materialistic gain). All of those are wrapped up into their identity. If religion is their primary focus in life, then if you offend "their religion", (if you offend "my religion", "my God", "my faith"), then you are indeed offending my ego. Activists of any kind are wrapped up in ego-based agendas, which can lead to the most explosive debates and protests. Religious people (not spiritual faith-filled people) will get offended because their identity is being persecuted. It's not so much about their religion anymore -- it's about their entire character and identity. When you let go of the ego -- then your true self comes up to the surface accepting everyone of any race, creed or gender.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!