Sunday, May 12, 2019

"You Can Let Go Now" - A Mother's Day Tribute

EDIT: I wrote this post for my mother almost 7 years ago. She had just lost my father. I wanted to give her a tribute and write something publicly for her. When she read it on her little laptop, she cried and hugged me. Now that she's in heaven, I wanted to finish this final post and let it be my tribute to her every Mother's Day. 

"Love as powerful as your mother's for you leaves its own have been loved so deeply...will give us some protection forever." --J.K. Rowling
There are many "best moms in the whole world", but let me tell you why my mother is the best mom. Mom didn't have it easy with me. First of all, I came along seven years after my three older siblings. She was free and clear from raising yet another baby. But I surprised her and thankfully, she accepted me. I was a breech baby -- my foot came out as my dad was driving toward the hospital while my mother was in labor. She kept quiet, not wanting to stress out my father more than he already was. The birthing was the most painful and excruciating thing my mother had ever gone through. They had to turn me around while still in the womb. The umbilical cord twisted me in ten million ways, leaving me with clicking hips and a squished nose. We both were not supposed to make it out of that birthing alive. But, we made it. She had no epidural or any pain meds to relieve her from the excruciating pain that she endured. So thank you for going through hell and back for me. You're the strongest woman I know.

Mom worked so hard, taking care of all four of us and of course, taking care of Dad too. From cleaning every single room in the house from top to bottom, to doing all of our laundry and having a new meal on the table every single night.  Since I was too young for school and too young to play with my older sisters, Mom would keep me company and play with me for hours upon hours. She was my best friend. I was never out of her sight. She took me to the grocery stores and lugged me around everywhere she went. I never had a sitter, unless she went out to dinner with my dad, to which my grandmother would then help out.

One winter day, Mom took me out to the department store to buy me new ice-skates. She was nervous because I was only around 6 years old, but I wanted to ice-skate so badly like my other friends did. We went to the large pond in the middle of our town where everyone gathered to skate and play ice hockey. I put my new skates on and hobbled over to the edge of the pond with my mother holding my hand.

"You can let go now!"
"No, you'll fall and hurt yourself -- hold my hand and I'll walk along the edge with you."
"Ma, just let go," I said, trying to do it on my own.

She let go and I glided toward the middle of the pond without falling. Even though the ice had quite a few bumps along the way, I made it through like a champ. When I returned back to where Mom was standing, she smiled and said, "I can't believe how well you skate!" When we left the pond, we went to a Polynesian restaurant and ordered a Pu Pu platter which used to be my favorite thing. I looked over at Mom and said, "This was the best day of my life!" And it was.

That's how it was like growing up with Mom -- she always supported me with anything I wanted to do, even if she had to let go a little. She always stood at the edge of the 'pond' waiting for me to return, in case I needed her. If I hit a bump or two in the ice, I'd look back at my mother and would know that without a doubt, she was right there to help and support me with whatever I was going through. Her unconditional love was the one thing I could count on in life, and it still is till this day.

She's been through so much these past few years. She also stood at the edge of the pond for my father when he was ill. She took such good care of him, letting him feel reassured that if there was a bump on that icy path, that she'd be there to hold his hand. I watched how strong she tried to remain for him, while holding his hand on the edge of his hospital bed. Dad didn't like to see anybody cry, because that meant something bad was happening.

But it was that moment, when Mom said something I thought I'd never hear come out of her mouth.

While holding Dad's hand, she said very softly, "You can let go now..."

It was then I knew that without a doubt, Mom was the strongest woman I've ever known. And even while dealing with her own health issues and extreme pain, she still managed to hold all of our hands, making sure we didn't fall or hurt ourselves.
After three long torturous years battling with cancer, I stood next to her bedside holding her hand, caressing the side of her head, hoping somehow, she would hear the next thing I would say to her. She wasn't supposed to make it through the night. It was my last time I would ever say goodbye to was my first time I ever said to my mother, "You can let go now, Ma...I love you."

She was my best friend, my superwoman. She was the most loving, most selfless and compassionate woman I know. I wish I was more like her, and maybe one day I will be.

So today I just want to say, thank you Mom for being our superwoman. Thank you for always being on the edge holding all of our hands. Thank you for all the support, encouragement and unconditional love you have given to each and every one of us. You're the real deal -- and without a doubt, the best mom in the world.

I love you. I'll always love you.

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

Friday, April 19, 2019

Great Sleep Rituals Before Bed

Sleep is important, no matter how you try to justify staying up an extra hour. While we’ve made some pretty awesome advancements in technology, and we’ve invented some killer energy drinks, it’s still no substitute for some restful sleep. It’s good for the young, for adults, and for the elderly. 
However, too many people aren’t getting enough sleep! Now, “enough” is subjective. Some people are like cats and need over 10 hours of sleep. Others can be just fine with half of that. The average is around 7-8 hours, so if you’re not getting enough sleep, do that. 
Sleep is important for your mental health. It can improve your depression, reduce your anxiety so you don’t have panic attacks so often, and it just gives you more energy. 
If you’re not getting enough sleep, your sleep rituals may be poor. Here are some ways you can unwind before bed and get a better night’s sleep. 
Don’t Be On Your Phone So Much 
If you find yourself browsing Facebook on your phone before bed, this may be keeping you up. And if you can’t sleep, browsing on your phone is even worse. The light the comes from phones, particularly blue light, can destroy melatonin, making it harder to go to bed. 
The same applies for any device that emits light. If you do your research, people want you to not be involved with screens an hour before bed. 
This is definitely a tall order in this day and age, and some people can easily unwind by watching a show on Netflix. It depends on who you are. Also, many devices have blue light filters and night modes to lessen the blow, so if you have to be on your phone, you should be aware of that. 
A Nice Bath Helps 
After a long day, soaking in the tub can loosen yourself up and help you relax. Even if you have already taken a show, a nice dip in warm bath, especially in a dimmed room with candles, can make you feel awesome. Just don’t stay in there too long. 
Do Something! 
If you find yourself in bed tossing and turning, the mistake is to just close your eyes and pray for sleep. If you can’t sleep within 20 minutes or so, get up and do an activity. Don’t do anything too energetic, but go read, do a puzzle, or do something else that is relaxing, perhaps a bit boring, and then try again once you’re tired. Click here for good ideas for kids to do before bed. 
Teas Help 
There are plenty of teas that can help you relax, like chamomile, peppermint, and CBD infused teas. These can calm your nerves, especially before bed. 
Get Hydrated
That’s right. Obviously, you shouldn’t drink a gallon of water right before bedtime, but regular hydration can make you feel better as you go to sleep. You may feel like you're dry and unable to sleep otherwise. 
White Noise 
One of my favorite sleep rituals is to listen to white noise through an app. You can listen to rain, thunder, binaural beats, the list goes on. Or you can just be old fashioned and use your fan. Either way, it can definitely help you sleep.

If you can’t get enough sleep despite all that, you may feel like you’re at your end. However, there is hope. A therapist can help find the reason for your sleepless nights and allow you to get better sleep. If you're always busy, online therapy can help you accomplish this and make for a great night’s sleep. Try online therapy today and see what a difference it makes. 

This article was written by the folks over at BetterHelp

To read Deb's articles, please visit: or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog at Deb's Cucina for some of her famous recipes!

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

My 4 Go-To Coping Skills When I'm Having a Panic Attack

It's late at night and you're scrolling through your social media feeds hoping that something will either be funny, inspiring or thought provoking. You try not looking at the time, but each time you do, 12 midnight turns into 1am, 2am, 3am, and so on. And you think to yourself, "How did I manage to do a bunch of nothing in the course of three hours?" You set your phone back down on your nightstand, hoping the sandman has made his final entrance, to only find that your mind races through the 'what ifs' for the next day ahead, and the worries about how you will manage to get everything done in such few hours of sleep. Insomnia is so common, but it's not technically "panic disorder," unless the panic attacks are keeping you up at night. What I discovered is that random panic attacks, like rapid heartbeat, palpitations or hyperventilation out of nowhere, is panic disorder. The reason why they call it a "disorder" is that you start to avoid places that you've experienced a panic attack, like supermarkets, certain places and even someone in particular. You fear another random attack, so you shy away from it all. That's the disorder. Some would call it "agoraphobia" while initiating the first label, "panic disorder." Call it what you want---it sucks. For the past month, I've been experiencing this for myself. It's scary because when I'm home alone, my heart races up to 130 bpm, palpitates even if I think about leaving the house to go to the grocery store or drive off to do something. If I plan something with friends or a trip to go visit someone, that alone will set it off---the anticipation alone will trigger one sometimes. I started to fear my morning coffee, to only fear the massive headaches that come with the withdrawal itself. I'm sure some of you are nodding your heads right now.

So there are way that have helped me tremedounrly. Mind you, I'm still learning how to cope with them. Some days are horrific, while other days are completely fine. Today is an "okay" kind of day, some heart racing but nothing too out of control. (I'll take it!)


First and foremost, my faith in God gets me through most of my struggles. It's hard sometimes because there are those days where I just can't 'hear' God. I can't see the signs for some reason. But with all the 'static' in my mind and in my heart, how are we supposed to be in tune with our Creator? Even when other religions meditate, they tell you to breathe deeply, so that your body is calm and clear. Praying while you're anxious will only set off complaints that God isn't helping. So I learned to put on some peaceful music, like "Sounds of Nature" on Pandora. They have an assortment of different instruments with the sounds of streams, birds, rainstorms and ocean sounds. As you calm down, begin to pray and while you pray, be patient to receive an answer. Be completely open to it. During my grieving period after my mother died, prayer and meditation was my only 'go-to' that relieved my deep sadness and anxiety. They did a study between believers and non-believers during their grief. The ones who believed in God were coping much better than those who did not believe. Their faith held them together, giving them hope and comfort during their time of mourning. 

Jnana Mudras 

Fold the index fingers inside root of the thumbs. Straighten fingers of each hand so that they are relaxed and slightly apart.

Redirects the energy inwards
Internalizes the mind
Calms the mind.
Reduces the distractions arising in the mind.

For me, this practice calms my heart rate down significantly. I can feel the pulse slowing down inside the two fingers touching while I am doing my deep breathing exercises. You'll notice a huge increase in your calmness. I can't say enough good things about this small little trick that somehow is another go-to of mine. I found the info on this site here.

Calming Youtube Videos

One of my favorite Youtube go-to for anxiety videos is "Spoken Affirmations for Panic Attacks, Anxiety and to Calm Down (Using the Law of Attraction.)"

If you cannot view this video, please click here.

As you begin to listen to this video, you must be in a quiet place. It doesn't matter if you have earplugs or not, just sit somewhere in a quiet environment and the music and affirmations instantly lowers your heart rate. I've been using this video for over a year now. It has become my "911" of all attacks. When I feel like it's just out of control, where I can't breathe deeply by myself, or I can't catch my breath any longer and prayer is out the window because I'm just freaking out---this video will guide you into a very peaceful state of mind. With this video, I can go to a level 10 panic attack, all the way down to a zero---to the point of feeling slightly euphoric. There are many videos out there that'll help relieve your anxiety, but none like this one in my honest opinion.

Writing / Journaling 

Well of course I'd say something so predictable like that. It's actually why I'm writing this right now. I woke up with a racing heart, grabbed my coffee and had a beautiful prayer session. Although my heart was a little jumpy, I sat down to write this out and I feel very calm for the most part. Anxiety typically doesn't go away---it's mainly coping mechanisms and being conscious of where your mind is taking you. As Eckhart Tolle says, when your mind is chitchatting up a storm, let your inner Being look at your mind. It instantly stops. It takes practice, but it does work. Focus on the here and now and even practice some grounding techniques, like counting five objects in your room, say 5 different things that you hear, that you smell, that you taste, that you feel, and go from there. Write out what you're feeling or what you're passionate about. Maybe even create a journal for self-realization. I go back into my handwritten journals, which sometimes helps my current situation. Writing is a form of release---it takes your inner deepest emotions, and purges them on paper, (or computer if you wish.) Most therapists suggest that you create a journal in your most stressful days, especially if you're grieving. There are no rules. You can address it as a letter to God, or even a letter to your loved one---anything goes. Sometimes I just write a list of things that help me, so that in the future, when it does work for me, I like to share it with everyone. I think anyone who suffers with this sort of thing should tell each other what method worked best.

Keep in mind, sometimes one or two techniques will fail you. Just keep creating more and more, until you find your go-to technique. I'm not a fan of medications, however if you need to resort to medication, please see a doctor to see what's best for you. I believe our minds are very powerful, and we already have the tools we need naturally to overcome them. Sometimes though, it takes a little more help medically, and that's OK!

I hope you found these little home remedies of mine helpful. I hope that whoever is reading this right now, feels better, feels calmer and knows that this too shall pass. I have to say that to myself too, by the way.

Best to you.

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

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Are You At the End of Your Rope?

Sometimes it can be frustrating to have unanswered prayers. Even the message behind praying for stuff is convoluted somewhat. Some Christians believe that you shouldn't pray for "stuff" and that if you do, that it's a form of idolization -- for instance, you'd rather "things" more than a relationship with God. But biblically speaking, that's just not true at all. A lot of pastors will try and say that you should ask for deeper things and to only use prayer to praise God. Well, yes---praising God and being grateful for what we have now is important. But God wants us to go to Him for everything else too. It's up to Him whether or not those 'orders' get fulfilled. If our own earthly loved ones can provide "stuff" for us, then what makes us think that God can't?

In Luke 11:9-13, it clearly states:

"And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will be given what you ask for. Keep on looking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And the door is opened to everyone who knocks. You fathers---if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! If sinful (all people) know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them who ask Him?"

What about this scripture?

"You have not because you ask not." --James 4:2

The other day I was reading a devotional, and part of it made me realize why some people feel bad for asking God to help them. Many of the messages that Christians or clergy give out, even if they say it's biblical, can be a little confusing.

Part of the devotional stated this:

"Do not seek Me primarily for what I can give you. Remember that I, the Giver, am infinitely greater than any gift I might impart to you. Though I delight in blessing My children, I am deeply grieved when My blessings become idols in their hearts. Anything can be an idol if it distracts you from Me as your First Love. When I am the ultimate Desire of your heart, you are safe from the danger of idolatry. As you wait in My Presence, enjoy the greatest gift of all: Christ in you, the hope of Glory!"

Many people rely on these devotionals because they're easy to read and it gives them a new message for the day. But sometimes, they're not so biblical as one may think. They're not word for word biblical statements. Compare the biblical scriptures I provided above to the devotional section. It doesn't match up. And if you are asking God (being a devout Christian and believer) -- that is not idolatry. It's asking your Father for help, even if it's financial. Why wouldn't God want the best for you?

But there is a bigger picture than just money...

Many people live their lives just to save and save and save more money so they can be *comfortable*, during their lifetime and especially for retirement. And of course it's okay and good to have wealth and to live comfortably---I'm not saying otherwise. But some people spend their whole life working their tailbone off, towards a goal that's only a fraction of their entire life. They miss out on 'today' and focus on that small tiny timeline of their retirement and golden years. They miss out on family, friends and just life in general. They have no concern about the afterlife---or that when it comes, it comes. But listen to this pastor named, Francis Chan who explains this so beautifully.

If you cannot see the video below, please click HERE.

There's gotta be more to this life, right? Like what's the point? Are we here to leave a mark? Are we here to help people? Are we here to just have fun and never get out of our comfort zone? Nobody---and nobody really knows their mission in life, unless they've seen their life affect millions....or perhaps, even just five people. God may have put you here for just a few people and you have no idea. We all have no idea.

A friend of mine asked me an interesting question yesterday. I always take advice from her being that she's a highly intelligent businesswoman. Her brain goes right to the business side of anything. So with my writing or other side freelance projects I have going on, she likes to give her suggestions which I appreciate.

She asked, "Why so much 'God' and serious stuff in your work? You're so funny--why not focus on that and gain popularity?"

She also made an observation about my personality. If you know me personally, I kinda have a funny sense of humor, and I'm not perfect in the least. I'm just somebody who has a great deal of faith in God due to my past experiences as well as upbringing. I can see logically how anyone can ask that question. My personality hasn't changed---if you read through my work, and every single article I have ever posted, you can see how much passion I have about topics such as mental health issues and how God has saved me from my worst tragedies. I can't leave God out because that would be a lie. My faith is my passion---it's the most important part of me---it's my core.

"Well, don't you want to make money?"

And yet, I do make money by freelancing and writing articles for other websites, like BetterHelp and non-profit organizations who want what's called "link placements" added onto my blog so they get more exposure to a a topic that's related to their services. They mostly deal with mental health or cancer fundraisers. Does it make me rich? No, but it does make me happy that I'm paying my bills by possibly helping other people out there in the world who either need to read an article about my experiences, or those who clicked on a link to get help from the sites I provide. I never wanted to be 'rich'---I mean, if I won the lottery, sure that's great and I could just throw it in the bank and call it a day, but my life has never been focused on money and I do alright.

Even God has mentioned the dangers of wealth in the Bible and how when we only focus on money, we let it become an idol.

"Then Jesus said to His disciples, 'I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to get into the Kingdom of Heaven. I say it again---it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!'" --Matthew 19:20-24

This was a story about a rich young man who had everything. He was asking Jesus about his eternal life and how he kept all of the commandments. But having faith and believing in God is much more than keeping the commandments. Faith without works is dead. And what that means is---your actions prove your loyalty. "You will know by their fruits." So the rich man said, "What else must I do?"

Jesus said, "If you want to be perfect, go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come follow me." But when the young man heard this, he went sadly away because he had many possessions.

This story isn't saying to give up all you have. It's basically saying to give freely, to help others and to put others first. Nobody has ever gone poor by giving---and that's a fact. When people place money over their own faith in God---over their own destiny in the afterlife, it only proves that there's a huge lack of faith somewhere. For me, I will never compromise this website or what I do in order to gain popularity or money. I can write freely from the heart, not being dictated by some "company" that I don't fully stand behind. The companies that support me in my writing and other social media aspects---I stand behind them firmly due to how many people they have helped as well. My sponsorships and employers are not huge "profit makers" (sponsors) so much as they are helpful to various communities who are suffering, from either cancer or mental illness. That to me is worth very second of writing.

"If you gift is to encourage others, do it! If you have money, share it generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly." Romans 12:8

One of my favorite scriptures says this:

"This should be your ambition: to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we commanded you before. As a result, people who are not Christians will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others to meet your financial needs." --1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

I want to know that when I leave this earth, I want to be sure that I left a mark, not only for myself, but to encourage others of how real God is. I want people to read my work years and years after my death and say, "Wow, this has changed my life." I have a friend from years ago I met when my book first came out. She was inside her car in the garage with the doors closed, contemplating suicide. I asked her to please just hold on and to read a few pages from my book to show her what I went through and how God had helped me. She went back inside and never thought of suicide again. Today she is happily married and living her best life. That's because God worked through me to help her understand how important she was. Even if it was to help one or two people, it was so worth it.

The Starfish Story

Once upon a time, there was an old man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach every morning before he began his work. Early one morning, he was walking along the shore after a big storm had passed and found the vast beach littered with starfish as far as the eye could see, stretching in both directions. Off in the distance, the old man noticed a small boy approaching. As the boy walked, he paused every so often and as he grew closer, the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea. 

The boy came closer still and the man called out, “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?” The young boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied.

“When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.” The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.” The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said, “It made a difference to that one!” --adapted from The Star Thrower, by Loren Eiseley (1907 – 1977)

Going back to the video above, what are you doing in the middle of your 'rope'---the LIFE portion that'll affect your eternity portion? Or are you just living for this world?

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

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Don't Cry

Even the Strongest People Cry

Throughout my entire life, I was always told, "Don't cry, baby, don't cry," by both my parents. They wanted to see me happy---they wanted to see me OK and they certainly did not want to see me fall apart. Maybe in a way, they'd take the blame and say it was all their fault somehow. Or maybe, they didn't want to cry themselves. Most of me believes that they loved me so much, that it hurt them to see me in some kind of pain, whether emotional or physical. I remember many years ago, I had to go for lasik eye surgery. I was legally blind and the surgery was risky. They made me sign all of these forms saying that it was an 80/20 chance of me going completely blind, with the exception of a cornea replacement---not in my favor of course. I said, "I'm blind anyway, just do it." When I came out of surgery, it was more intense than most would go through, because my cornea was too thin, and needed much more time to heal. I had patches on both eyes, plus plastic barriers taped on with huge black Terminator-like sunglasses they usually give to people with cataracts. As we were walking out of the clinic, my partner called my parents to let them know we were okay and that the surgery went well. When my dad asked to speak to me, Madelene said, "She can't see right now so I have to guide her to the car." I had no clue what would happen after that call. When I walked into the house, my dad was hysterically crying. We're tawkin' about MY dad---300 lb tall and strong Italian guy who could take out an army with one hand. (Well, maybe.)

"What happened! My baby! What did they do to you! What happened?" as he cried and hugged me.

I was confused. ...What did just happened?? 

When Madelene said that I couldn't see---she just meant that my eyes were covered up with all the bandages and plastic crap. She didn't mean I went blind. But this was the first time I saw my dad fall apart---I mean completely apart. I felt so bad, but at the same time, I felt so loved. He cried over me possibly going blind. This is why I believe children live longer than their parents in most cases. We can handle it better. A parent can't see their child hurt or God forbid, pass away before them. They would never make it. I also believe that's why my dad passed away first. He couldn't possibly bear seeing my mom not only suffer, but seeing her pass away and saying his final goodbyes. No. No. No. Never.

Everyone Left

There's are other types of reasons why people cannot handle seeing others suffer. Some say they're "empaths," which is partially true, but I'm guessing it tugs on their own fear of the same thing happening to them. If you've ever lost a loved one before---I mean someone who was very close to you---you probably experienced the weird phenomenon of the people in your life becoming invisible. After the funeral and all of the 'call me anytime' offers, most of those people are no longer there. Some stay, but most don't. It's actually a proven fact that this type of thing occurs and it's talked about in many grief support groups. Some people don't know how to help you. They may say the wrong things with good intentions. We may get offended by those sayings, thinking, "How can you say something like that," when in fact, it was intended to be comforting. People in general are very uncomfortable being around someone who is grieving. It's hard to watch especially if your loved one is still alive. And sometimes, it's hard to watch a loved one grieving in fear that you may cry yourself, making their sadness only worse. There's so many reasons.

Most of all, I think it's important to forgive somebody who has withdrawn from social events---and maybe even society altogether. Forgive them for not coming around as much, and commend them on whatever effort they made to just show up. We tend to get caught up in this whole, "Well I visited you last time now you have to see me," type of mindset, and honestly, it's just childish. We need to be more compassionate and forgiving---not angry because someone can't walk out of their house because they're up to their neck in grief. So many families have split apart because they didn't feel loved enough, or felt like their friends and loved ones just didn't care anymore. My rule of thumb is---if you miss someone, call them. Don't make your significant other call them---you call them. If you want to visit them, invite them. If you want them to come over, ask them. If you get a "no"---forgive them. Then ask, "Well, when?" That's fine. There should be no rules when it comes to being together, being a family or having a close relationship with your friends. It should be when everyone is OK with their own schedule. And it's OK to not feel OK and want to just stay home instead.

We're All Too Busy

We're all hurting in our own ways. We all have our unique lives that sometimes leave us "too busy" to do anything. But my thing is, nobody is too busy not to check in on a loved one. Nobody is "too busy" to pick up the phone and say, "Hey, how are you?" Nobody it sooooo busy where they risk losing ties with their friends and family. Nobody. One of my biggest pet peeves is that many people make broken promises. I'm sure there are legit reasons why a promise may be broken, and of course you should forgive them, but our society is lacking integrity. We throw out promises to get together, or to be there for someone, to only not show up. Part of this stems from the lack of real communication: real life as well as picking up the phone. We make plans through group texts or a random text that says, "Hey, wanna have dinner next week?" Then you never hear from them again. I'm a firm believer in confirmation calls. "We still on for tomorrow?" Simple. But I blame it on technology and having "receipts" that people said, "Yes, I'd love to come." But that doesn't confirm the date in my book.

Broken Promises 

During the past year, my anxiety got worse and I was trying to figure out why. I should be getting better. What was happening was stored up resentment and bitterness, but I wasn't consciously aware of it in the least. I was resentful over broken promises made by a couple of people in my life. It drove me nuts to think about the lack of integrity on their part---even as far as forgetting about it altogether. I had to come to terms with forgiving them and realizing that relying on people 100% is just not feasible anymore. If you do rely on people 100%, you will always be disappointed somehow. We live in a very different time. People tend to be more self-absorbed, "busy," and offended if you ask about why they haven't come through on a promise that was made. Everyone's offended.

My Dream

What I wouldn't do to go back as an adult to live in the 70's or 80's again. I wouldn't want to be a child (as I was back in that era) but I would love to be living my adult life during that time. Neighbors were friendly, so much so that they'd come by to visit you. Dogs roamed around freely to each other's homes and never a complaint. You didn't hear about vicious dogs or neighbors suing one another over 'your dog bit my dog,' to which had happened to me. My neighbors two German Shepherds attacked my 12 lb chihuahua while I was out walking my dog on my lawn with a leash on her. I had to send her to the vent because one of them bit her leg. $300 dollars later, they still have not paid. I decided to not pursue it just to make peace. Friends came over uninvited and it was actually OK! We didn't pretend to not hear the doorbell. Every weekend was full of family events and big BBQ's out in the yard. No weekend was spent in front of a computer, or my favorite...Netflix. We were out taking in the sunshine and loving every second of it. We had picnics, we walked more, we talked more, and now...we shut our doors off to the world and write what we're doing on Facebook. We take photos of our dinner on Instagram, instead of inviting the people who liked the post. We've become a society of exclusionists---only certain members allowed. We've weeded out our garden to a small mound of dirt with only one or two flowers we favor. We stopped loving everyone, until proven otherwise.

My advice? 
If you're worried about someone, call them.
If you miss someone, go see them.
If you think someone went missing, find them.
If you love someone, tell them.

You never know what somebody going through, unless you show up, unless you are in their lives, unless you are offering some part of you that may make them feel better...unless of course, you're "too busy."

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

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

How I Stopped Making Pain, Trauma & Grief My Identity

Years ago, I suffered from chronic pain. Some doctors called it "degenerative disc disease" while other physicians referred it to "fibromyalgia." They couldn't quite pinpoint what was wrong with me and why I was experiencing such excruciating pain. They admitted me to the hospital for a week to do some testing for autoimmune diseases and other possible diagnoses, to only come up with "myalgia." I guess it's another word for, "We don't know, but we're gonna slap a label on it." During that time, I also developed an ulcer due to all of the NSAIDS (ibuprofen) I was taking to relieve some of the pain. They also gave me Percocet, but it didn't work quite as well as the anti-inflammatories. I had no choice because my stomach would suffer. When I realized I was developing a dependency on the pills, I weaned off and tried smoking weed, which did nothing except make me high and hungry. I never understood why people used it for pain. It did absolutely nothing for the pain.

I spent countless hours online searching for support groups who had fibromyalgia and chronic pain in general. There was a word they used that I wasn't familiar with. They called themselves, "spoonies." I wasn't sure if this label was right for me, but I used it, hashtagged it, and created a pseudo identity for myself. Establishing that identity enhanced my involvement, but I also noticed my chronic pain enhanced as well---as if I'm supposed to have pain and constantly be in this group of "spoonies." It gave me a sense of belonging, since nobody around me truly understood it.

But that wasn't who I was. That wasn't my identity.

I then discovered a new identity: grief. I became apart of the support groups, the hashtags, the voice for those who also grieved---not realizing that the intense involvement somehow made my grief that much worse. See, by allowing the grief to remain is to allow the pain to occupy residency 24/7. You will never heal. I'm not saying that repressed feelings are good, but to constantly remain in the past, to remain in that pain without reaching out for the proper help to pull you out of that pit of despair can be a life or death situation.

I believe Langston Hughs said it best: Life is for the living.

Here's how I detached from those "identities."

Stop Feeding the Beast

They say that whatever you feed will grow. I was at a point in my grief where the sadness and despair was consuming every portion of my life. It also made me lose friendships and it was also destroying my marriage. In the support groups, you'll always hear, "There's no time limit on grief," but I say---give yourself a time limit. If you don't, you will lose your life---either by losing everyone around you, or worse off, your own life. Broken Heart Syndrome is real. If you keep torturing yourself with added on "reasons why to be sad"  -- your heart will never heal.  Every single night, I slept with my mother's favorite sweatshirt. It made me feel safe and comforted. What I didn't realize was it also made me incredibly sad, to where I didn't want to get out of bed. After a period of time, and acknowledgement that this wasn't a healthy step to my recovery, I folded up her shirt and put it in a closet next to a very few items I still had of hers. On my phone, I removed the picture of my mother holding me in her arms at the age of 10 years old. I thought that by having that photo as my screensaver on my phone, that it would give me comfort. It didn't. It gave me a great sense of sadness---like I just wanted to jump into the picture and be there again, when I should be wanting to be in the present moment---the now--with the people who are still alive now. I stopped keeping her photos near, put her belongings away and started to focus on everything that was important 'in the now.' The day I told my mother on her deathbed, "It's OK to let go, Ma," I finally realized that it was also OK for me to let go too.

Whatever You Resist, Persists --Carl Jung 

The physical pain that I suffered as a result of being diagnosed with fibromyalgia was somehow making me believe that this pain was my entire identity. This was my life: pain and pain management. My life revolved around different treatments, physical therapy, trying different pain meds and dealing with the side effects on a daily basis. I'm not saying the pain wasn't real or that it was all psychosomatic---but I was feeding it more and more. So finally, I spoke back to it. I know, it sounds crazy, but I literally sat up in my bed and said, "Bring it on!"  For the first time, I didn't resist the pain. I started to thank God in the midst of all my pain and suffering, and somehow, through the grace of God, my pain lessened. I became stronger and able to do more things than I ever could. There are times when I still get pain, but I remember the remedy: thanking God in the storm, because this too, shall pass. Don't give it power. I am NOT a "spoonie," and I am not a victim of pain. I am not going to label myself a grief-ridden victim of LIFE---that's what life is! We live to die and we already know this. That's why it baffles me when someone loses faith in God just because they lost a loved one. THIS is LIFE. This is why you need God even more. The bigger picture is something we could never comprehend.

Trust God & Know That Your Pain Has a Purpose

My friend Jackee always says, "You're somebody's answer!" If we don't go through trials and sorrows in our lives, how can we ever be of help to anybody else? There's this power we all get when we experience such pain and trauma. We discover new inner strengths that we never thought we had before. Through trusting God, He gives us supernatural powers to plow through our worst nightmares that unfold before our very own eyes. He carries us through the fire without smelling like smoke.

"Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything." --James 1:2-4

I always notice that each time we get a bigger snowstorm, we keep getting people with bigger plows to help us get through it. That's how God works though. With each terrible storm comes a bigger solution or (plow) ---if we allow it, if we call on them...if we call on God to work in our lives. And in due time, after withstanding so many storms, you'll eventually have your own plow so you can help everyone else who's stuck. Just have patience and hope. Without hope, there's nothing to hold onto.

Who Are You? 

My identity is not my physical pain, it's not my grief, it's not my anxiety and depression. My identity is in Christ. My identity is trusting God with everything. I'm a believer. I'm a King's kid. I'm a child of God. I am not orphaned, even though both my parents died. I have a Father. I have a best friend I can turn to at any given minute of the day. I have a comforter when I'm lying in bed scared. I have a healer when I feel sick. I am not a spoonie, I am not a victim of my circumstances...I'm a believer that all things work for the good. How would anyone know what joy truly is if they haven't experienced deep sadness? I have a purpose here. You have a purpose here. Isn't it funny, how most of us can't really say what that purpose is, but eventually, after our lives have passed, others will definitely know.  What do you want to leave behind? What message do you want to leave for your children, your grandchildren, or just people who are still on their earthly journey? When they ask who you were---what will people tell them? Who are you? You don't want to be 'that person who was always complaining about this n' that,'---you want more than just your pain and agony to define you. You want to be a conquerer.

"Since I know it is all for Christ's good, I am quite content with my weaknesses and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." --2 Corinthians 12:10

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

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Online Therapists Can Provide Ways for You to Forgive and Let Go

Some people believe that forgiveness is just a verbal confirmation of "we're okay"---"we're good," until later down the road, the offense has been brought up again by the person who was hurt. Most likely, the person who holds all the resentment and bitterness will usually regurgitate the offense over and over throughout the relationship. They truly believe they have forgiven that person, yet they keep reminding them about what they've done in the past. That's not forgiveness. Remember the saying, "forgive and forget?" The forgetting part is hard, I know---but the concept of "forgetting" is about never bringing up the one thing that hurt you to the person who begged for forgiveness. See, when we bring up the offense, that's bitterness coming out. Imagine eating something bitter. That's the face you'll make when you bring up a past offense. Think about it.

Truth is, you'll probably never forget that 'offense' or the hurt that someone else put you through, whether intentional or not. But the one thing you can do is move past it---move forward and choose to not only relieve them of this punishment you're dishing out, but also, the punishment you're giving to yourself. As that old saying goes, "Bitterness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die." Bitterness and resentment will eat at you until you are emotionally and physically ill. Truth is, I thought I had forgiven someone for a past hurt, when in fact, I was storing up a whole lotta' resentment, which came out as bitterness. "Yeah yeah, I forgave them," but my actions, my words, my demeanor said something entirely different. Until I truly forgave them, is when my heart calmed down and the anxiety lessened. It's when my sleep started to increase as well as my overall peace. I will say one thing that's an exception: you do not have to reconcile with the person who hurt you. Forgiveness doesn't mean taking them back into your life again---it simply means you have let it all go, to the point where you never think about it (this is where the forgetting part comes into play)---where you never bring it up again. That's forgiveness.

Did You Know Unforgiveness Causes Stress On the Body?

IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
Stomach ulcers
Anxiety attacks
Heart palpitations
Lower immunity (getting more colds & flus)
Muscle tension
Body aches
Back problems (we store our emotions in our spine as well as chest)
Bursts of anger
Mood swings

Through my own personal journey into truly forgiving those who have hurt me, I had to do a few things. This may not be 'your thing' --- but it helped me to let it go. You can try it in your own way and see how it works.

Creative Ways to Forgive Someone Who Has Hurt You

For me, I confessed my sins to God, because not forgiving someone is a sin in my faith. I confessed my unforgiveness and asked God for His forgiveness. I lit a candle for each person that I held resentment toward. It was a symbol of healing. I prayed for all of them, including healing for myself.  I meditated and sent positive energy into each relationship I had with each person. Remember, even though you may feel empowered by holding onto a resentment somehow, the other person may be unaware of your strong grievance toward them---they may be going on with their lives happy and joyful, while you're still home seething over it. Let it go.

Another way to forgive someone is to sit down with them and just talk about it one last time. Get it all out and tell that person how you truly feel about them. Because if you are really bothered by what they have done to you, you must still like or love this person. If you were indifferent toward them, the offense wouldn't have bothered you so much. Tell them how hurt you still are, and that you are trying to overcome this obstacle and that you love or care for them very much. It makes a huge difference.

Write a handwritten letter to them in detail, explaining how you feel and how you would like forgiveness to play a huge role in your relationship. This is sometimes easier, since writing it all out is easier. Do not email or text this since it's a bit impersonal. Handwritten letter only.

Make a list and write down everything good about that person. Make a pros and con list. Write down all of their good qualities, as well as their 'not so desired qualities' and see where you stand with that. Then make a conscious choice to really let it all go.

Take some post its and write down each 'hurt' or 'offense' that person has done to you. Go to your fireplace, or outside to your fire pit and burn each one, symbolizing that it's no longer an issue in your life.

"...forgive us for our trespasses, we we forgive those who trespass against us."----The Lord's Prayer

Talk to an a psychologist or an online certified therapist if you feel more comfortable. An online therapist provides a 24/7 chatroom as well as video and phone sessions. It's less expensive than a face-to-face traditional type of therapy. I use BetterHelp, which has been such a blessing. Talk to an online therapist and gain some positive feedback on your situation. Talk to someone about your pent up feelings of anger.  Don't be afraid to get the help you need---you're worth it. You deserve someone who can guide you and give you some qualified and trained tips on how to cope with these feelings you have.

Forgiveness is healing, not only to the one who is being forgiven, but especially for you.

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

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Advice On What to Do When You're Suffering From Anxiety, Depression & Agoraphobia

When we hear or read the words "mental health," there seems to be a stigma attached to it, regardless if you are suffering or not. Anxiety, depression, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) or even bipolar disorder, which used to be called, "manic depression"' back in the day are all common things people suffer with. We hear or read these words and then begin to think negative associations with it. Movies and TV shows may warp your definition of what mental illness can be like. Some are severe, while others are less severe--regardless, it is a struggle for many people. Back in the 70's and 80's---you rarely heard the word "anxiety" or "panic attack." The word "phobia" was commonly used, as well as "fear." If someone was agoraphobic, experiencing panic attacks on a daily basis back in the 70's and 80's where they can no longer function in life, it was known as having a "nervous breakdown." Seeing a psychiatrist was thought to be an extremely drastic move. In fact, it was looked down upon, especially in families who were fearful of getting help for their mental illness. "Don't let the neighbors find out..."  Some would actually live in silence with these conditions, sometimes taking their own lives unfortunately.

Here are some things that have helped me work through each symptom of mental illness. Just so you know, I suffer from anxiety disorder, bouts of depression and grief, as well as periods of agoraphobia.

Telehealth and Online Counseling 

This is a great avenue in treating people who suffer from anxiety and depression. For me personally, I started using BetterHelp for counseling. I have a psychiatrist I see face-to-face on a monthly basis, but I need something during the days when my psychiatrist isn't available. Online therapy is pretty simple and very effective. You and your licensed counselor have an open chat session 24/7. Your messages from your therapist will be received via email or text message, and you can be totally anonymous if you want. This type of counseling cuts out most cancellations, waiting all week for the next appointment, as well as awkward face-to-face communication. Having said that, there is an option to video chat or telephone your counselor. You just set up a time and date that's available for the both of you and link up with him or her. It is extremely interactive. I first had my doubts about doing something like this, but once I was invested, I couldn't believe how much I opened up about my feelings when I was comfortable enough. You also have the ability to switch counselors without the awkward discussion of "why." If you're feeling agoraphobic, you can talk to your counselor one on one in the comforts of your own home. I can't think of a better option for those who suffer with agoraphobia. Keep in mind, your counselor will set goals for you, like CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) to conquer your agoraphobia---so they won't let you stay there. As you progress and get better, there is a progress bar on the left of your chat session. It goes from 0%--100%. The best part is, the monthly cost is less than one therapy appointment, but the only difference is, you have access to a counselor 24/7 + video or phone chats. Technology is something!

Taking a Brisk Walk Outside or Taking Vitamin D Supplements

There's nothing like the feeling of cool air on your face while the sun is shining down on you as you walk around a park or your local neighborhood. During the winter, we tend to stay indoors more than normal, unless you're adventurous and don't mind a cold nose while running five miles a day. Some people just don't have the time (or energy.) Most of us sit in a florescent lit office or they have the ability to work from home like I do until 4ish, which is also the time the sun goes down in the winter months. A lack of sun depletes your vitamin D levels. This is also what causes SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder.) It's crucial to get outside for at least 15 minutes a day, as well as taking vitamin D supplements. I have a liquid dropper of vitamin D that I just add to my water. I take up to 2,000 IUs my endocrinologist suggested due to my vitamin D levels. Make sure you get bloodwork before you start taking massive amounts of it. The amount you need to take is on such an individual level. You may need more or you may need less than you think. It's also a fat soluble, and should be taken after a fatty meal, like avocados, fish or eggs, which are all wonderful nutrient dense foods that have a good fat content. I heard someone say, "What you ate yesterday determines how you feel today." I laughed and thought about my Ben & Jerry's binge---which mind you, is sometimes very heathy due to treating yourself once in a while! It's actually pretty healthy in terms of calcium, so we're gonna let that one slide. Once in a while, treat yourself, but remember to grab those other amazing super foods along the way. Most of your vitamins can simply be found right in your diet. Many people buy these expensive vitamins. They end up buying expensive urine, depending on the quality of the product.

Have Faith

My world came crashing down when I lost my best friend, my mother, my everything just last year. I truly thought that I would go through what's called, "broken heart syndrome." I didn't think I could live without her. A part of me feels like I died when she left this world. This is when I turned to my faith in God. There've been studies that have shown that those who relied on their faith while grieving for a lost loved one, seemed to have recovered faster than those who didn't have faith in a higher power. I took time out every morning to sit and pray---to vent it all out to God, even asking Him, "Why! Why did you take her from me?" Eventually, I started to get answers, whether it was through words from someone's mouth, a text message or something I had found in the Bible. I have a journal that has "prayers" and "answers"---and the answers usually come right away, or within that day. I guess God proved Himself to me, and so I felt less alone. But once I feel distant from God and don't pray as much, those signs and messages seem to disappear. With faith, you will find answers about certain things, as well as finding answers from within yourself. It's like a self-discovery mission--and who knows you best than the one who created you? This is how I find peace throughout my days of anxiety and depression.

My only advice to anyone who suffers with mental illness is to never keep it all inside. Tell someone, reach out, find a counselor and if it costs too much for a counselor, look into Telehealth and online counseling, which is much less than seeing a therapist face to face. BetterHelp has been so incredibly helpful in my time of need. Remember, they're all real certified counselors, and they are all human. If you do not click with one, change your counselor. That's your right.

If you want to find more articles related to mental health, please visit BetterHelp and consider looking into online counseling. It really has helped me tremendously.

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