Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Enemy: Your Brain

Lately, I've been reading a lot of books regarding spirituality, near-death experiences and overall ways to cope with the mind's inability to shut the hell up. One of the books that I particularly enjoyed was called, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. I know, I know, I'm like a decade late on this best seller, but I feared it may have other belief systems that went against mine. I'm more open to other belief systems today, but surprisingly, they referenced a lot about Jesus in this book. The main gist is to separate yourself from your physical mind and become your "Being" -- your "soul" and observe what the mind does to you or what it conjures up. And once you witness and notice the thoughts, all thoughts seem to dissolve, as if you caught your own mind undressing. That's the best way I can describe it, because this book can be very 'wordy', the the point of dropping it and picking up The Cat in the Hat instead. I guess it's very hard to comprehend, or better yet, explain the 5th dimensional world -- to actually explain something that human beings are not supposed to know. So Eckhart Tolle's descriptions can really baffle your mind if you are not ready to take in his 'awesomeness' as I would even call it. It teaches you that all we have is "now" -- everything else such as the past and the future are all illusions. Years ago I wrote about this very topic, but not on the level to which he took it. He even throws in a dash of quantum physics in there which is just mind blowing.

Even Anita Moorjani's book, Dying To Be Me taught me a lot about the most basic fact of how loving yourself can improve your life. To love yourself -- to forgive yourself -- to accept yourself 'as is' right at this very moment is one of the most powerful things I have done for ....me. I have read a lot of articles that sort of mirrored this message back and forth, but reading it from personal accounts and also by diligent practice of my own has sort of awakened me on a whole new level. If you have already read these two books that I mentioned, you'll know that it gets a bit repetitive -- same words are used, same phrases have to be reiterated only due to the fact that there is no other words or phrase to really describe this awesome 'lifting of the veil' so to speak -- the realization that reality itself is not real at all. I won't even go into details because you're gonna think I'm a bit cooky if not already. 

So, my point is, just by reading these two books, my daily life has changed greatly. For instance, I am no longer complaining about winter. Instead, I am walking outside with my dog, taking in every sound of the birds, each crystal left in the fallen snow and especially, that deep sense of silence in the midst of a cold wintery day. There's nothing like it. I'm learning and experiencing appreciating every single little thing in my life -- even feeling my own breath, my own spirit, as well as controlling my own mind from chitchatting too much. My mind feels less complicated because I'm not thinking anymore. (Have I ever...?) But thinking in terms of, "what if" and thinking way too much about my future and causing a great deal of fear. Fear is the number one reason why people overthink and overanalyze everything. Fear keeps us from making the right choices. For instance, I used to fear eating saturated fats. Now? Saturated fats are good, so now I fear eating carbs. It's a vicious cycle. So, what Anita Moorjani taught me was to not fear it at all. I keep it in check, but I no longer avoid things out of fear. I see obsessive people in my Paleo group who are on this diet in fear of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. They eat out of fear. But what if they still ate the same foods, and yet had no fear of indulging once in a while? It doesn't matter in the bigger picture of life because we're all trying to do our best. But what if the perfectionist in us makes us stall a little? As Eckhart Tolle says, whatever you resist, persists -- then if we truly resist or (detest) a certain way of living, it just won't work as good as we thought. If we do things out of fear, we do a half ass job. Anything done with courage and confidence is done with contentment, whether we succeed or fail. It's about enjoying "now" and living in the present. 

But I'm still finding myself in certain situations listening to my mind's clutter and getting frustrated over everyday bullshit. It's not to say that I'm just gonna stop caring about my future or forgetting my past entirely, but I am going to consciously try to enjoy every passing moment, even if unpleasant -- trying to make the best of each "now" that presents itself. I'm so sick and tired of my mind reminding me that my future may not be so bright or my mind reminding me that my past is why I'm such a fuck up. The mind can be your worst enemy, filling you up with negative and obsessive thought patterns. So, I'm choosing to observe the mind as it starts to open its trap and watch it all dissolve. Once you witness the mind in action -- it automatically stops. Tolle gave a little test for us to take in the book. He says to close your eyes, make your Being (or soul) the witness to your thoughts. Wait for your mind to 'talk'. Wait for the first thought that enters your head... Do it now. 

Did it take a long time? Most people say it does. So, if you practice "observing" those thoughts, you'll be more conscious not to overload your mind with "what ifs" and negative dialogues. 

I have come to accept the fact that there is nothing I can do to change whatever it is that's in God's will. I can't take away my mom's cancer. I can't bring back my father who lost his battle with cancer. I can't fix the world. But I can change the way I view things and I can only do the best at the given moment it presents me with. Many of us lie awake at night because our minds won't shut the hell up. We stew and focus on certain events or things that are about to take place and all of those pesky "what if" scenarios. We drive ourselves insane with things that have not happened yet! And most of the time, they don't happen as our mind "predicts" it will. I guess I just came to a point in my life where I can't live this way anymore. I refuse to. If that means labeling me a "floater" in life -- then so be it. I'm sick of planning things out and then coming to a deep realization that it was all one big fucking disappointment. I'm not going to expect anything other than what the present time is giving now "NOW". Not later, not in the future...now. 

I'm about to go to my doctor's appointment and wait there for like 2 hours and enjoy every single second of it. (Sometimes you gotta lie to yourself too!) Just a little update: I'm scheduled to have a partial hysterectomy due to my dysmenorrhea. The intense pain I go through each month has ruined my quality of life since I was 12 years old. On top of that, I had to take massive amounts of NSAIDs (pain relievers/ibuprofen) that ultimately poked a few holes in my stomach lining. So, without the pain every month, I won't need the pain meds, which leaves me with a healthy stomach and well, some peace of mind knowing I won't be suffering for a week out of the month. It has prevented me from living a full life. And now, I am ready to fully live life as it should be lived: without fear. I always feared getting my period, especially if I had to go somewhere or go on vacation. I planned everything around my period. Special events weren't attended due to my pain and nobody ever believed me because this type of pain is very rare. It can get to the point of passing out or vomiting. Not a pretty scene.  So please say a prayer or send some positive energy my way. I leave in 30 minutes to get examined and set up for my little 'vacation' in the hospital. I might be slow with the writing for a while after surgery. But go out and get those books if you haven't read them yet. I really feel like it has changed my life for the better. It was actually one of the reasons I came to the decision of finally getting this hysterectomy. Time is precious and I'm sick of wasting it. 

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!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Seasons of Life

This morning, I woke up to snow, once again. It was coming down fairly hard. I grabbed my phone to check Facebook, because I have a whole lotta' soccer moms posting about all of their school closings and delays -- this meaning to me, that my Mt. Kilimanjaro of a hill that I live on top of would soon imprison me once again. I grabbed my cup of coffee and headed into my studio to look at the snow, unwind and check my email before work. Everything under the sun tried to distract me, from phone calls that couldn't wait to my little dog just wanting to jump up and snuggle on me. I instantly just dropped everything and picked up my dog instead. I grabbed a blanket, covered her up as we watched the snow together. Soon enough, the sun started to shine even while it was snowing. I felt this incredible sense of peace -- as though this was the right choice -- just to drop everything and enjoy the present time. Besides, when would I ever get to see a "sun snow shower" again?  Soon enough, the seasons will change and I'll soon be hearing the sounds of birds, crickets and tree frogs. But there is definitely something beautiful about that strange silence when it's snowing. Nothing moves. Everything seems to stand still. All of the wildlife disappears without even small traces of footprints as evidence. And if you see a black bear while the snow is still on the ground, you better run fast. No way am I playing dead to a starving mama and her cubs.

I truly believe seasons are a reflection of our ever-changing existence. During this month back in 2012, I remember practically living in the hospital while visiting my dad when he had his battle with cancer. It was a very busy time driving back and forth, all the while trying to take care of ourselves in the process. It was even more challenging when they sent him back home. At any given time, my phone would ring, sometimes even in the middle of the night. "Dad needs an ambulance!" He would get sepsis infections every other week. It was getting much more frequent as his cancer progressed. At that point, I always left a pair of jeans, shoes and a set of keys right next to my nightstand, all prepped 'just in case' I needed to shuffle back up to the ER. It was never a dull moment. I needed something -- something to hug -- something to love. When I rescued Lola in May of 2012, she rescued me each and every time I came home from the hospital. I'd sit out on my deck overlooking the mountains, have a glass of wine and cry my eyes out while hugging her. And even though I was going through that "awful season" -- I was surrounded by all this beauty and feeling the unconditional love from my pup. It buffered a lot of my tension and sadness. I truly believe that God gives us those little "buffers" to bear those hard times in our life.

And then there was pure silence in July of 2012. That strange combination of sadness and peace struck once again. Dad had lost his fight with cancer even though he held on as much as he could. The struggle was not only killing him, it was killing all of us watching him suffer so terribly. We were even concerned about our mother's wellbeing since she wasn't taking good care of herself while being the main caretaker.  She didn't want a stranger doing it and that was that. She rejected hospice's offers to help all the time. I don't know how she did it. We were getting nervous wondering if she would even make it through this bad season. The "silence" back in July of 2012 was a very solemn and peaceful time for the family. We went into what seemed like a 'resting mode' -- where we just didn't say much and took a break for the rest of the summer. Strange, because Dad had the loudest voice in the family -- you could hear him a mile away. Now, the silence was almost deafening. It was strange. It was our "new normal" and we had to adjust to this new season.

I'm beginning to realize that it's not as bad as it seems sometimes. Like, having cabin fever and bitching and moaning over it, when I should be grateful for having my family, my home, my work and even my silence. You never know what's right around the corner with each season. Even though spring may seem much better than being snowbound in the midst of a bitterly cold February, there may be a a season of chaos with that alluring springtime sunshine. So, I am choosing to enjoy this beautiful silence of winter as it's combined with the love and tranquility along with a sprinkle of anticipation of the upcoming season.

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!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Dying To Be Free

Working from home sometimes takes its toll. Most of the time, I am very busy or just very content being at home. I'd rather make my own dinner, drink my own wine and be in the comforts of my own dwelling. Don't get me wrong, we go out quite often, but not when the forecast constantly calls for snow and ice storms.  If I'm not working, I have a million hobbies, ranging from art, music and of course, reading books from different authors and genres. Since I was getting a bit frazzled by all the snow and ice that left us homebound for quite a spell, my sister Dawn suggested that I should purchase, Dying To Be Me by Anita Moorjani. I'm old fashioned -- I need to feel the pages and not bother with the migraines of staring into a tablet. Anyway, it's a story of a woman who battled with cancer and eventually, experienced a near death experience, (NDE). Dawn and I were discussing our continuous grieving process after our father had lost his battle with cancer, and how it changed from day to day. And sometimes when we don't realize that some of our actions can be part of our grieving process, it can leave us with anxiety and fear. So, when I got Anita Moorjani's book, I was hoping for a miracle. I needed something else to believe in -- something that someone experienced instead of believed. Perhaps my faith needs a little energizing.

"I had the choice to come back . . . or not. I choose to return when I realized that 'heaven' is a state, not a place." 
This is on the front cover of the book. With trying to keep in mind that this is HER experience -- not mine -- it sort of downgraded my own beliefs as a Christian. And when I say "Christian" -- I sincerely mean a "relationship with God".  See, what Anita describes is a bit different than what I believe, to what I've learned all of these years. It sort of threw me for a loop when she described all of us "as one" -- which is a nice thought -- but but but...?
"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 14:12
This is what Jesus said in the Bible. If He is going to prepare a place for me, and on top of that, promise me that it was not a lie -- then how are we "all one" with different rooms? When Anita was experiencing her NDE, she explained how she could see all of her loved ones around her physical body. She even heard her husband talking to the doctor 40 feet away down the corridor of the hospital. She saw her brother on a flight rushing to come see her before she took her last breath. She even saw her deceased father, spoke to him and even felt a "oneness" with everyone on earth and beyond.

There were no gods though. Her experience sounded like the beliefs of Catholicism when they speak of a purgatory -- kind of a place to 'get it right' or a place to reconcile your wrongs. There are no gods or anything 'spectacular' other than you're not in the heavy weight of your carnal body. So my question is: did she enter the first realm of the 5th dimension -- or was this some sort of purgatory, perhaps awaiting another life?  Her father gave her a choice to either stay in this 'state' of 'heaven' or go back to her physical body and return to life. Shouldn't God be the one to give her that option? But which god? She hesitantly chose life, but in a whole different aspect where she didn't fear anything at all once she returned. So, she lived without the "worst case scenario" and the "what ifs" -- she LIVED her life as we're supposed to live it.

I don't want to quote some of her book, in fear that I may give too much away, but I will say this: I feel a sense of relief and appreciation for what I have and for the moment I'm living right now. With my anxiety disorder and depression that all stems from a great fear of EVERYTHING -- I sort of go back to the words of her book, and the thereafter of her return and remember what she said and how she lived her life without fear. She did more things, took more risks and rose above all her fears, especially the fear of judgment of others. She lived her life the way she wanted to -- not the way people wanted her to.

With that being said, I also found some things disturbing, to which I addressed to Anita. I addressed my concerns to her about her empathy toward terrorists. She told me in a beautiful long letter she had taken the time out to write me, that she doesn't condone the act of terrorism or the hurt or pain of other living things, which is why we have prisons here. She said that through her experience on the other side, everyone's struggles and pain are understood. I said, maybe that's why the Amish forgive so readily -- a deeper level of forgiveness. But how can someone from ISIS go around decapitating people and yet have the same right as good-hearted souls and be in the same place? Maybe it's like fish trying to comprehend algebra. Maybe we just don't 'get it' here.  I always give the analogy of Jesus, Buddha and Allah sitting up on some cloud laughing and saying, "Ugh wow, you guys have it all wrong!"

One of my greatest fears is being lied to. I think it has to do more with the disappointment of holding onto an idea, dream or some sort of hope that there is something better around the corner. I guess everyone has been lied to if you think about it. Many of us believed in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. Adults did that so we would have fun and find life interesting. They watched us get excited in hopes of seeing all of our little made up 'friends'. Of course, it's kind of like religion. "If you're bad, Santa won't come!" Isn't that kinda like Christianity? If we're bad, we won't get to see God. So, we try so hard to be good here on earth and be the "good little girl or boy" that Santa, or in this case, God wants us to be so we can receive our "gifts".  What if a child refused "Santa Claus" and chose "Hanukah"? And yet, they still receive all their "gifts". So, by choosing a different path, do we still get to see the good things in the afterlife?

I guess this is the first book to not only frustrate me and challenge my beliefs, but it's the first book to make me realize that maybe different paths all lead to the same place. But that fear...that fear...the "what if" I am wrong? So thank you, Anita for not only challenging my own beliefs, but for giving me more peace of mind. I guess I'm just dying to be free from my own fears.

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!

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Are Parents the Real Bullies When it Comes to Transphobia and Homophobia?

As I'm scrolling down the hashtag of #BruceJenner on Facebook, I was anticipating an "applaud" of Bruce's bravery in possibly doing an interview with Diane Sawyer. Like always, when you scroll down into the depths of a Facebook comment cesspool, you'll find the most ignorance you've ever seen. In fact, I want to even go as far as to say that, you'll see the honest true outlook on how the world views the LGBT community. It's very scary. Comments from, "He's sick! It's not natural," to "He's a homo!" With transgenderism having little to do with who they prefer as a mate, it has everything to do with who they are regarding gender identity. Backtrack just a bit: I remember when Chick-fil-A came out with their views on homosexuality. Due to their religion, they were against gay marriage. Fine, whatever. People will still eat your questionable chicken. But what I was amazed over, were the huge amounts of people supporting them, but not just supporting their personal views (which everyone is entitled to have), but the supporters were bashing all gays and lesbians, in person while waiting on those long lines to grab their grub and on social media. It was so sad. People came out of the woodwork to demonstrate their absolute hatred towards the gay and lesbian community. It was a very Christian moment for them, I'm sure.

But back to the title of this post: Are parents the real bullies when it comes down to transphobia and homophobia? We learned that hatred is only taught. We learn from what our parents don't like, or perhaps, "hate". We learn that it's okay to call people, "homos" and "trannies". It's okay to bash them because they're not doing what God has commanded them to do. Who's God? God commanded us to love one another as we would do ourselves -- so whose God are you speaking of?

Gotta love the ignorance! This is who teaches our children to hate. 
A gentleman who goes by Matt Morgan, who studied to be a registered nurse at Austin Community College District stated, "Dude is sick..... his family needs to save him from himself. When people change their sex its a crime against nature. Its disgusting and vile and shouldnt be broadcast to the world. And it shouldnt be news."

Meanwhile, Matt has a beautiful daughter to raise. His daughter may be one of the reasons why someone kills themselves. Harsh...? Not at all. By Matt's teachings, his daughter will learn to tell other transgendered people that they're "sick" and that it's a "crime against nature". She'll state it's disgusting and vile and they should shut up about it.

You can read the entire thread over on Gawker if you click here.

His logic states this:

"Transgenders are disgusting & vile!"--Matt Morgan
"If he was meant to be a woman he would have been born that way. Science and Biology are what they are. Factual theory proven systems. When you alter those methods by means of artificial reconstruction you shit on our species. We are the only species in the history of the world who changes our sex..... SO IF I AM SICK.....please don't give me medicine."

He also stated, "I dont care whom or what he has sex with. Changing your sexual identity is wrong. There is no arguement here. Its not being a bully. It has nothing to do with sexual orientation. Changing your sexual organs out for the other sex is wrong. When he goes into the ER when he is sick.... guess what... he will be treated medically as a Man. Science always wins. He will never be a woman. No matter what he does."

In the same breath, I know that people have their own set of values and standards they live by, whether due to religion or just personal convictions, however stating something so brutal in the public eye is just bad for not only your personal life, but for your career as well. People are getting very careless online these days, especially on social media. He publicly wrote his hatred onto a public magazine called, Gawker's public Facebook page and made it known how disgusting it is to be a transgender person, all the while, having public photos of him and his family up on his account. Bad move my friend...bad move. I hope your beautiful daughter grows up to hate your views, instead of agreeing with them or better yet, being brainwashed.

I've met people like Matt Morgan. Up close and personal, he'll say, "No man, that's cool if you dig chicks or dudes or if you wanna be whatever sex. I'm cool with it."  On social media, somehow it lets out their true thoughts on it. I'm not sure why they think all their comments aren't seen by their friends and family and other people abroad, but from the brief unintelligent banter he had going on, I kind of figured it out.

So why did I single out Matt Morgan today? Because he was the one with the beautiful daughter who is demonstrating the true meaning of the type of hate we see every day in our LGBT community. We see their children growing up, cultivating the same mindset, leaving other kids to be bullied, or worse off, committing suicide. So by giving Matt as an example of extreme hatred, maybe in the name of "religion" or whatever -- hopefully he'll think twice before he opens his mouth again. I wish the best for his beautiful daughter and also hope she doesn't grow up with his demented views and hateful heart.
Deborah Brumett and her family. 

Take for instance Deborah Brumett from Brodhead, KY. She has children and grandchildren and yet publicly states such awful hatred against the transgender community. This is the reason we have so many problems in our schools today. This is the #1 reason why we have so many suicides from our transgender youth! To think that someone with their own children would spew such ugliness is just beyond me. Some people really should not reproduce.

"Yeahhh I'm so sure god would want you to cut your balls off."

It can't get any classier than that.

Well, thank you Deborah, for showing your true colors. I hope your children live a long and healthy life without bullying others for being who they are. Children usually learn hatred and bigotry from home.

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, January 29, 2015

The Broken Heart Syndrome

After the bartender poured my second glass of wine, I heard my friend Jen say, "But love doesn't fade, Deb. It just doesn't. How can he want a divorce? We were once so in love and I still love him the same way. It's impossible for his love to fade." As I kept trying to digest what she was trying to say, also trying to hold back any words that may hurt her or completely destroy her disillusioned fairytale dream of "true love lasts forever" -- I just listened. Sometimes that's all you can do. She was in complete denial. I can tell she knew. She's smart. I guess when it comes to the heart, I think it's safe to say that we can all have those dumber than a box of rocks moments and become completely naive to what's right in front of our own eyes. This man hadn't slept in her bed for over three years. He hasn't even been home 80% of the time. He stays at his mother's house in hopes that she will sign the divorce papers and move out of his house. There is no "we" there is no "us" there is no...marriage.

"Why are you choosing to stay?"

Those were the only words that I could possibly muster out -- giving her the choice of telling me why she is staying and not saying anything about the disappearance of his love. She looked at me like I was crazy and said, "Deb! A marriage lasts forever! When you love someone, you love them forever. We made a commitment! I'm staying because I want this to work out. I want my marriage back." She stared at me hoping for a response.

She then asked me, "Has your love ever died for anyone?"

"Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction." ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery
I tried explaining to her that the type of love that I now have for anybody who was once in my life intimately has now become a matter of an "I wish them well" type of love. I can honestly say I still love my ex, but sometimes in a relationship or marriage, it's like trying to place a triangle in a square hole. Sometimes two people grow apart. It doesn't mean that some level of love isn't there, but the dynamics have changed greatly. Life's directions can change for the two people involved. And sadly, sometimes one person in the relationship starts to take you out of the "growing old together" equation because they simply. don't. see. it. anymore.

"But how can you un-love somebody?" she said in a desperate attempt to try and make me see her side of her heart.

I almost wanted to cry for her. It is so painful to be in love with someone so much that it hurts, all the while that person has little to zero feelings in return. Unrequited love can bring many to their knees. It's the most painful experience anyone can ever experience in my opinion. When you love someone, so hard, so much, to the point that your heart -- your physical heart just breaks into tiny little pieces -- that is unconditional love. You can do no wrong when someone loves you like that. You can cheat, lie and betray them, and that person is still going to be your biggest fan. How fucking sad is that? How can I look this woman in her watery eyes and tell her, "Yep, love fades just like that. Sorry."

When your heart breaks, it can actually lead to Broken Heart Syndrome.

Breakdown of a Broken Heart  
Broken heart syndrome, also called stress-induced cardiomyopathy or takotsubo cardiomyopathy, can strike even if you’re healthy. (Tako tsubo, by the way, are octopus traps that resemble the pot-like shape of the stricken heart.) Women are more likely than men to experience the sudden, intense chest pain — the reaction to a surge of stress hormones — that can be caused by an emotionally stressful event. It could be the death of a loved one or even a divorce, breakup or physical separation, betrayal or romantic rejection. It could even happen after a good shock (like winning the lottery.) Broken heart syndrome may be misdiagnosed as a heart attack because the symptoms and test results are similar. In fact, tests show dramatic changes in rhythm and blood substances that are typical of a heart attack. But unlike a heart attack, there’s no evidence of blocked heart arteries in broken heart syndrome. In broken heart syndrome, a part of your heart temporarily enlarges and doesn’t pump well, while the rest of your heart functions normally or with even more forceful contractions. Researchers are just starting to learn the causes, and how to diagnose and treat it. The bad news: Broken heart syndrome can lead to severe, short-term heart muscle failure. The good news: Broken heart syndrome is usually treatable. Most people who experience it make a full recovery within weeks, and they’re at low risk for it happening again (although in rare cases in can be fatal).

I experienced this 2 1/2 years ago when my dad passed away. It happened about 6 months into my grieving period (which is normal) -- and I started getting horrible chest pains, to where my heart definitely responded to what I was experiencing. I'll never forget one morning being in my kitchen and grabbing a glass of water. I sat on the stool next to the counter trying to just wake up. I started getting these these horrific chest pains that just blew me right off my stool. I was on the floor holding my chest with these jabbing pains that wouldn't let up. When the ambulance came, they gave me a little beta tablet of nitrate to place under my tongue in order to see if I was having a real heart attack. They took my vitals and everything was just wrong. The EMT guy looked at me and asked, "Is the pain going away?" And I was relieved that it was. "Yeah, it's gone." But not relieved when he yelled into his radio, "Not good! She responded to the nitrate! It's her heart!" I had to stay in the hospital for a few days. The EMT guy who helped me was the same guy who had to bring my father out of his house for the very last time.

"I was there. I was the guy who came to get your father. You watched me carry him away. You're having grieving pains. Trust me." he said, while rubbing my arm. So now I truly knew the meaning of what it means to have a broken heart. I even remember years ago while going through a horrible breakup, my chest hurt that radiated down into my arms.  Sometimes, I'm afraid to love that hard ever again. At times, I try to distance myself from those I truly care about in fear that I'll die from sadness. Everyone survives though, right? I mean, everyone has gone through a breakup or a loss of a loved one. But how many people fully recover? How many people truly get over that one love that got away or that one person who meant the world to them who passed away? So it can happen to a familia type of love or an intimate kind. It can happen from separating in life or separating by death. Love knows no boundaries once it's taken away in whatever circumstance.

Have you ever heard someone say, "Ugh, they've ruined me for anybody else?" Don't even take that as an exaggeration. Most people truly mean it. When unreciprocated love has let someone go, that intense love the other person feels may never go away, leaving them to be loyal to you even though you two are apart. "Loyal" meaning -- nobody will be you and they'll never love someone as hard as you again. It may be a contentment "settle for" type of love, but never that passionate, can't live without you kind of love. Many times, people compare their new loves to their past loves and once they don't measure up (because they've put them high on some pedestal), the relationship ends fairly quickly.

Can you remember the love of your life? Are you still with them? And if not, do you still sort of pine over them secretly or compare them to anybody else that's in your life now?

And for the big question that my heartbroken friend asked me: has your love ever died for anyone?

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, January 28, 2015

Bell Let's Talk

Have you ever heard, "You're not alone," when you're going through problems or maybe just depressed? I just think -- wow, there must be a billion-gazillion-wazillion people roaming around the earth right now and there's not one person to go to for help, or to talk to, or maybe just to vent to. I mean, realistically, there is, but how realistic is it to call up one of your friends and say, "Ugh, I am having a hard time." Generally speaking, I just imagine the other person on the phone thinking, "Umm, yeah me too. Deal with it." So, I don't call people about my bullshit because people have enough of it of their own. Nobody's life is "easy" -- 'n I don't care if you think they do diddly squat all day -- it's not. Sometimes when you're in a larger family, especially full of women like myself, telling one person is the same as blasting it out on a megaphone in Times Square. I know a few friends who sometimes blast their sadness onto Facebook status' or tweets and I think, "You're not going to get genuine and sincere help -- you're going to get busybodies all up in your bidniz!" But, there are good people out there that will take you seriously and who will help you on social media. But what's it worth?

Maybe a life...?

Just the other day, I was having a "I-don't-have-a-purpose-in-life" day. I was feeling a bit depressed and just crawled into my own little safe cocoon with the ringer off. I thought I loved what I did for a living, but it kinda made a lefthand turn into Albuquerque, where I thought, "I have no purpose. Why am I doing this?" I went through every sort of negative thought pattern that progressed and progressed:
  • I feel ugly
  • My work is shit
  • My relationship is ending
  • I feel like a failure
  • I have no purpose
  • I'm getting old
  • I'm too old
  • Life is done
  • I want out
It was then I received a comment on my profile photo on Facebook from a friend named, JoAnne. She said, "Gorgeous lady with the biggest heart. Fabulous cook, stellar writer, advocate for gay rights...and there's plenty more. Thanks for sharing, Deb. You are our gift." I haven't heard something like that in a very long time. She basically took all of my negative thought patterns and put them in a beautiful perspective for me -- a perspective that I was blind to see. I still doubt many things on that list -- call it modesty or just call it self-loathing, I just have a hard time digesting compliments sometimes. And oddly enough, as I went through those negative feelings, her comment came just at the right time. It was just a few words that turned my negative thinking a little more positive. That's all it takes sometimes -- for you to hear your worth and what people see of you -- not what you see of yourself.

Between being snowbound at home and trying to cope with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), I started to realize why I was feeling this way. For me, it seems like everything kind of comes to a screeching halt in the winter. Life stops. Roads close...cabin fever sets in, and that's it. I also found a pattern with my depressive episodes. Right before February makes its round across the calendar, I go into a major funk. Then I think, "I have a birthday coming up on the 4th." I used to get excited about it, but not after I turned 39. That was the last year -- the "last dance" of being in my thirties. Even my 30th birthday somehow freaked me out. I was no longer "the baby" or "that kid" or "that girl". I was "the lady over there" and the person you'd call, "ma'am" while grabbing my attention. Some call being 40 "middle age" and others say, "Oh you're still a baby," while lying through their teeth. But, you're only as young as you feel, right? Eh. 

As an "adult" (an immature one), there's a stigma with people being "depressed" at my age. I remember back in the day whenever someone would go through an extreme depressive episode, they would say, "Oh didja' hear she went through a nervous breakdown?" What is that? 

They Mayo Clinic states that a nervous breakdown is this:
"The term 'nervous breakdown' is sometimes used to describe a stressful situation in which someone becomes temporarily unable to function normally in day-to-day life. It's commonly understood to occur when life's demands become physically and emotionally overwhelming. The term was frequently used in the past to cover a variety of mental disorders, but it's used less often today. Nervous breakdown isn't a medical term, however, nor does it indicate a specific mental illness. But that doesn't mean it's a normal or a healthy response to stress. A nervous breakdown may indicate an underlying mental health problem that needs attention, such as depression or anxiety. Signs of a nervous breakdown vary from person to person and depend on the underlying cause. Exactly what constitutes a nervous breakdown also varies from one culture to another. Generally, it's understood to mean that a person is no longer able to function normally.
For example, he or she may:
Call in sick to work for days or longer
Avoid social engagements and miss appointments
Have trouble following healthy patterns of eating, sleeping and hygiene
A number of other unusual or dysfunctional behaviors may be considered signs and symptoms of a nervous breakdown."

Aside from the hygiene part, I'm nodding my head, yes yes and yes. I think it's safe to say we all went through this. When my mother used to talk about nervous breakdowns when I was a kid in the late 70's (yes I'm old) -- I envisioned a woman (yes middle aged) shaking and trembling in the corner screaming her lungs out. But now, "nervous breakdown" is just like manic depression turning into bipolar disorder. Every term sort of shifts and morphs into another diagnosis. I truly believe that many psychiatric doctors and social workers can't pinpoint a diagnosis because we all have such different ailments, life situations and coping mechanisms. It's very challenging to sit there and give an exact "science" and answer and especially a label to what someone is going through. I'd call it, "life". What's so shameful about life? No one gets out alive anyway. Lame sarcasm, but true.

In all honesty, I think it's so unhealthy for people to keep all of their emotions and problems inside. Maybe I'm different, but even when I have problems at home, I talk about it with my family and friends. Without totally bashing whoever and whatever, it can be a healthy outlet. I never understood why some people who were having trouble in their marriages or having family issues would keep everything so "hush hush" as if they were the only ones who went through this sort of thing. "Well, it's none of anyone's business anyway." No, you're absolutely right. But wouldn't it be nice to relate to someone who's going through the same thing? And when does it come to the point of faking life? When do you finally stop saying, "I'm fine," when someone says, "Are you okay?" When do WE start telling the truth and relating to one another on a much deeper level? And at the same time, I am hearing "dysfunctional family" used a lot more than we're accustomed to -- that being a good thing. We all have dysfunctional families to some degree! And that's what makes us all relate. That's what makes us poke fun at the idiosyncrasies of our relatives and in-laws.

So today is the annual Bell Let's Talk awareness campaign. It's driving the national conversation to help reduce this stigma and promote awareness and understanding. Bell has committed over $67.5 million to support a wide range of mental health organizations, large and small, from coast to cost to coast. Today, for every tweet using the hashtag, #BellLetsTalk, Bell donates 5 cents more to mental health initiatives. So let's start the conversation!  Click here for more information and get on Twitter and be apart of the huge chitchat about mental illness. What do you go through? How can you help? Let someone know that they're not alone. Share some of your own experiences, if you're brave enough. Start letting the world know that it's OKAY to talk about it. You're not "crazy" or "nuts" for being depressed or from suffering with anxiety attacks. We're all in this together.

If you or someone you know feels suicidal, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You'll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area anytime 24/7.  I'm not ashamed to say that I needed them a couple of times. It helps.

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, January 23, 2015

A Thread of Hope

It was another sleepless night as I lay there awake holding my dog while she was wrapped up in a warm fleece blanket. I sometimes use her as a teddy bear when I'm feeling very emotional. She doesn't mind either, it just means more warmth for her. Any time my mother has to go in for a procedure or for a check up to see if her cancer has lessened or worsened, I get that same feeling as I did when my dad went through this ordeal. I remember coming home from a long day of sitting with Dad at the hospital. He was screaming in pain and I didn't know how else to help him other than to hold his hand. The nurses weren't quick enough to fulfill his pain medication on a time. His IV bag was empty and well, so was my patience. I went out to the nurses' station and screamed at them, letting them know that they were making my father suffer and that it was just inhumane. They all rushed in with extra IVs and bags of morphine, scared that I would've made more of a psychotic scene. When Dad nodded off to sleep, I packed up my stuff and headed back home to get some rest. It was early June of 2012 -- a beautiful day despite what transpired in that hospital. I grabbed a glass of wine and my new rescue puppy and just sat outside and cried. I cried my fucking eyes out. Lola looked up at me for the very first time noticing that her new mama had tears. I snapped this photo of her because ever since that day, Lola had become my only source of comfort in this world.

Fast forward 2 1/2 years, and now my mom has to endure all of these tests, procedures, chemo and radiation. She was finally discovering her own independence and a newfound outlook on life. Have you ever felt when things are going so great, that there always has to be something new to throw a monkey wrench into the works?  That's how it felt when we first heard that Mom's tumor was cancerous. The doctor didn't even say, "You have cancer." He said, "Well, the biopsy showed that the tumor is cancerous." I mean, I guess a lesser of a blow than "You HAVE cancer" -- but nonetheless. Our world was flipped upside down once again. It was a very long day and so, we headed back home. I took care of Mom, but she had developed a very high fever. She began to shake and shiver. The doctor suggested that I should call for an ambulance. Once again, shuffling back up to the hospital, but this time, with all of us being so incredibly distraught and stressed out over Mom's diagnosis, there began an influx family drama on top of it all. And so, I drove back home and went straight to my only source of comfort in this world.

Are my prayers being heard? 
There's really not a whole lot you can do to fix things, other than just try to do the best you can with what you have. And when it comes down to taking care of yourself while trying to take care of someone else, that can be very tricky. I'm lucky if I get 3 hours of sleep a night. I worry. I jolt out of a deep sleep, or even right before I'm falling asleep from hypnic jerks. It's caused by stress. My insomnia is through the roof, so you can imagine all the informercials I come across. I'm extremely tired during the day, barely making effort because I'm just too incredibly weak. My ability to pray has even come to a screeching halt. I don't know how to pray anymore! I don't even know what to ask for. I mean, God has already made up His mind about our fate and what's to be -- so what good would it do to pray about it? I can't change God's mind if his will is to do something that would crush my entire world. Nobody is immune to fate. Nobody. So why would my pleads be any different than anybody else's?

"Oh God, please don't take away my parents!"
"Please God, heal my mother!"
"Dear God, please take the cancer away."

I prayed for Dad too.
"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." - Matthew 7
That's what the bible says. Every unanswered prayer or a prayer that goes in the opposite direction makes me lose a little tiny bit of hope each time. My ability to trust anything in this world and beyond has declined a great deal. I don't even trust that my prayers will be answered. So how am I supposed to trust anything here on earth? I don't know if I'm being tested, but any time I pray or ask for anything -- anything -- it goes so far from my grip that it's merely impossible for whatever it is to ever happen. But maybe I'm not supposed to be "here" -- or supposed to be asking for "this" or "that" -- it's just. not. in. the. plan. And to constantly go around the same mountain again and again is just plain insanity. See, my problem is, I know that without a doubt, there is a GOD -- and I know HE is right here listening to me tappity-tap-tappin' away on my laptop right now telling the angels, "Ugh boy, we have a lot of work ahead of us."

God's "no" isn't a rejection, as much as it is a redirection. Maybe I just need a different approach, a different path, a different outlook.
"When you go through waters of great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you." - Isaiah 43-2
And so, I've come to the conclusion that this is life. You do not get 'what you want' or rub some shiny vase for your genie Jesus to come out and grant you all of your desires in life. I guess I need more patience, more understanding, more endurance, more 'storms' so I can be stronger for the next hit. Maybe God's just trying to toughen me up a little, since I always run back home to hug my dog instead. (That'll never stop though.) For now, I may take different routes to help me cope, but my understanding of God and prayer is quite different now. Sometimes, the answers are more evident in the silence after we've gone through the storm. And most of the time, it is only one set of footprints, but for a very good reason. I'm just hanging onto a thread of hope here.

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!