Tuesday, January 15, 2019

5 Side Effects of CBD Oil You May Not Know About

After I stopped drinking, I thought it would be nice to try other natural remedies to relax, like essential oils, especially CBD oils and hemp extracts. I wanted to try something that wouldn't get me high, but somehow have a calming affect on me. I went out and purchased, Charlotte's Web Hemp Extract. There are three stages of the oil: low, medium and advanced.  I tried two weeks on each level. I first found it relaxing. If I was experiencing a panic attack, it would calm me down and let me go back to 'normal' ---whatever normal is. So, I started using it every single day for two whole weeks. After two weeks, I stepped up to level two, and it helped again. After that, I went up to the advanced, and this is where I started to find out a few things about this oil and what it was actually doing to my body.

1. Lethargy

I didn't know what was happening to me. I couldn't get out of bed. I was dragging my feet all over the place. Coffee didn't even hit the spot anymore. I felt like a zombie---or on the brink of coming down with the flu---but it was just fatigue. I wouldn't have thought it was the oil.  I tried to convince myself that it wasn't, and that it was just my body fighting something off. Well, I skipped it one day and wow ---I was alive again!  I'm not sure if the oil tinkers with sugar levels and puts people into hypoglycemia, but this is something to be concerned with. When taken daily, I even experienced episodes of passing out. No bueno!

2. Throat Irritation

If you're like me, anxiety-stricken to where your throat feels like it's closing up sometimes, you're not going to like the feeling of this oil. As soon as you place one dropper under your tongue, you have to then swallow it, usually followed by a glass of water. Level 1 and 2 always hit me the hardest. Level 3, not so much because it was at its purest. It feels like you're literally swallowing a pricker bush. Sometimes, I would have to drink up to two full glasses of water to get rid of the feeling. The company even explained that this sensation was harmless, but when you have anxiety, and this oil is scratching your throat and leaving it irritated all day, it'll grind on your last nerve eventually.

3. Red Eyes (the stoner look)

Yep, I guess it's not a surprise that cannabis would give you the stoner look. My eyes were always tired looking and bloodshot. At first, I thought something was seriously wrong with my liver. I couldn't tell if my eyes were red or if they had a yellow tinge to them. But they were just red and the whites of my eyes were incredibly dim. So when I put on makeup, I had glassy red eyes that stood out really bad.

4. Dry Mouth

Again, it's no big deal until you're trying to go to sleep and choking on your own saliva. I thought maybe I was dehydrated, which was making me drink ton of water, but it was the hemp. Keep in mind, if you're already on certain medications that give you this dry mouth effect, you may want to skip the oil if it bothers you this much.

5. Depression and Suicidal Thoughts

This would have to go hand in hand with the lethargy aspect of it all, but even worse. I had crying spells out of nowhere and mood swings that were something awful. I didn't want to leave the house at all. As soon as I finished work, I'd climb right back into my PJs and turn on Netflix. I didn't cook all that much, nor did I live stream my cooking shows. Something was off. I didn't feel well. I felt a sense of doom---a dread that was so heavy, like seeing life through a foggy window. But when I stopped the oil, the next day I was "awake" and happy again. I spoke to a few other friends who have taken this on a daily basis, all saying something very similar.

Keep in mind that they have to do more studies on CBD oils and hemp extracts. It's not regulated by the FDA, and for all you know, they can be adding fillers and other stuff we may not know about. It's a billion dollar industry that's cashing in by the second. They have pharmacies and health stores stocking up on this stuff. Amazon has them by the dozens with just one hit of the purchase button. Think: this is a good business to get into. But how pure is it? Why doesn't the FDA regulate it? So for now, I'm sticking with my other essential oils that have proven to be true blue, like my oregano oil mixed in with Vitamin D3.

Please do your research before buying CBD oil. I did like it at first, until it started to really turn into something I didn't expect it to. Keep in mind, these side effects were all through my experience alone, with a few exceptions of my friends having to experience this for themselves. I went to the most reputable, to various other brands which all had similar reactions, or just no reaction at all. Sometimes, I just chucked it up to a placebo effect. You do not feel anything once you ingest one dropper. You may feel 'back to normal' --- but it does not help with joint pain nor does it help with any sort of pain---period. At least for me it didn't. Without the THC, the CBD is just the "club soda" to your vodka.

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

Saturday, January 12, 2019

It's OK, Just Don't Stay There Too Long

"Another day," I thought, as I slowly crawled out of bed to make my way over to the coffee pot. Madelene left earlier than usual for work, and all I had was the sound of my chihuahua snoring as I dragged my feet across the kitchen floor. My mom always yelled at grandma for dragging her feet around, and then later down the road it was me saying, "Ma, pick up your feet when you walk," until I eventually became my mother. I stared outside the kitchen window waiting for my coffee to brew. I could see that the pool was finally covered and the surrounding landscape was nicely trimmed for next summer...if there is a next summer here. At this point, we're just biding our time, until something 'speaks' to us--maybe a smaller house, a townhome, or even an apartment. I just want to downsize and live comfortably. This old house is too big for us. I will definitely miss the big backyard with the gorgeous views, all the barbecues and dinners outside, bonfires late at night with our friends, and early mornings having my coffee out on the terrace overlooking the lake and mountains. It is magical here, but it'll be magical for another family who can fill the house with love and laughter. But unfortunately, if and when we do leave, the new owners will most likely tear this old house down, to only build one of those cookie-cutter mansions in place of ours, being that there's a million dollar view to wake up too. That would kind of kill my heart, but I have to remember that this home, this time, this world is all very temporary. Holding onto materialistic things is just meaningless. We truly never own anything. I sometimes wonder if leaving this house would be another grieving process for me.

Change is good. I've always embraced change. I lived in a couple of different places, and always made it happen. But when my parents both became sick, we returned to my ancestral home to be with them. The only change that I had a hard time with was how to live without my mother. Although I loved my dad very much, it was somehow easier with my father, only because my mind was distracted by helping my mother and her grief of becoming a widow. We grieved together, so it made it "easier." We had one another, we helped each other, which made things a little less painful. Although I took care of mom---cooked for her, made her breakfast and dinner because she hated lunch and took her to the park for some sunshine, as well as doctor visits, to tell you the truth, I don't know who took care of who. While watching my mom increasingly becoming sicker, my anxiety spiked up to where I would have a full blown panic attack out of nowhere. Unfortunately, some of these episodes were in front of mom, and even though I tried to hide it by masking it, or leaving the room---mothers know. You can't hide that kind of stuff. One afternoon while mom was having a really challenging day, I started clearing my throat a lot (a sign that I'm hiding a panic attack.) Mom automatically knew, and slowly walked over and tried to rub my shoulders with her weak and frail hands. I took her hands into mine and chuckled a little, "Ma, who's taking care of who?" And she said, "I'm always gonna take care of my baby." She was the most selfless person I've ever known. There were times when I was having anticipatory grief, crying up in my bedroom. I didn't know that she could hear me, and I also didn't know I was making any sounds, as I tried to stifle the sobbing. I wouldn't sleep for days, sometimes five nights in a row. I'd hear my mom at the bottom of the stairwell calling my name at 4am, "Deb?" It was the only time I got to sleep for an hour or two. But I spent it with her most of the time, and sometimes, one of my sisters had to come over, because she was experiencing panic attacks after the doctor told her she had three months to live. How do you even wrap your mind around news like that?  I can't even imagine. I always wonder, did she pray to God for that life sentence to go away? Did she plead with God at night? What did she do when she was all alone with only her thoughts and a box of tissues?

I tried cleaning out her room, to only finding myself weeping into one of her sweaters she didn't have time to wash. I had my sisters walk into her bedroom to grab something of hers and to go through her belongings or to just to sit and reflect, but it was usually a quick walkthrough with tears streaming down their cheeks. When I leave this house, it's a question of: do I drop everything and leave with only my belongings? Do I let the new people clean everything out for me---touch mom's clothes and belongings, or do I gain the courage to go through her closet and give her stuff to charity? I know 'the right thing to do,' but sometimes, it's harder than it sounds. Both options are hard. I'm left with old photos of the past, her comfy oversized sweaters and capris she used to wear. In the back of the closet holds beautiful suits and dresses from the days she worked at Calvin Klein and Tahari. She was a little fashionista. Her makeup she wore everyday still lays on her bathroom vanity, along with a box of tangled up costume jewelry and a can of Aqua Net she used for the last time. Her shampoos are half full, sitting on the shelves of her shower wall. On her bed lies a pile of clothing I tried to sort out and a box of tissues she used for the last time. Mom's pocketbook sat in the middle of the bed along with her wallet, credit cards and driver's license. She hadn't driven in almost a decade. The trash can next to her nightstand still has the tissues she used to cry in, blow her nose or to clean up the spills of her water since her hands shook uncontrollably. Maybe it's a mixture of both of our tissues. A few days after she died, I went into her room and laid down her side of the bed, hugging her pillow as I cried my eyes out. I fell asleep for the first time in five whole days. When I woke up, I noticed she had the first book I wrote laying on her nightstand with a rosary on it. She didn't have a bible, but the book had so many of my favorite scriptures in it. She wasn't an avid reader, but maybe she scrolled through it to read the biblical passages---I can only wonder. The rosary on top of the book was how I knew she was praying.

The coffee pot beeped at me, as if it were saying, "Snap out of it!" I poured my coffee and made myself a couple of eggs over avocado slices. Then I came over to the counter to write what was on my mind this morning. Time to grab my dog and take a brisk walk around the pond. It's OK to think about these kinds of things---to think bout your deceased loved one and even details of your shared past, but just don't stay there too long.

Have a good Saturday!

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

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

The Illusionary Perfect Relationship

Relationships are tricky. Regardless of what anybody tells you, relationships take work. All that 'magical-butterflies-in-your-stomach' kind of passion eventually fades away, and before you know it, you're going to see the real person--the person they've been hiding for quite some time. The "real person" may even be better than you've imagined....or not. But here's the thing: it's taking two individual people from two entirely different backgrounds and lives, and then meshing them together. You do not "become one"--you become two people sharing their lives together. Once you start believing that you "become one," somehow, perhaps someone, will try and control the situation if that "one life" seems to change or becomes 'different' in some way. With that being said, those two people may change views and beliefs, and sometimes, those views and beliefs become entirely different than yours. Maybe their desired living destination has changed and they want to move somewhere tropical, and the other person prefers a colder climate. It's been proven that the "seven year itch" it realistic as it comes. That's because every seven years, our body chemistry changes. Our taste for food changes, even our allergies change. So you can imagine, your entire outlook on how relationships "should be" changes. But here's the question that needs to be asked: what's the glue that holds you two together?

If the answer is your children only, then you're going to end up resenting one another when the kids are out of the house and the divorce papers finally arrive. My mother always told me, if you can laugh with someone---I mean belly laugh type of laugh, then that person is a keeper. If you can laugh at the craziness of life, and what you two have been through, then you've got it all. Many couples' "glue" is their faith in God. It's hard to find someone with the same faith these days. There are so many people turning over to agnosticism or atheism---which is fine---free will, right? But for me, having the same faith as my partner is the most important thing. You two can edify and uplift one another, pray together, and if someone's faith starts fading out due to a loss or a heartbreak of some sort, your partner's encouragement is enough to kickstart your faith back up again. That's our glue. It's held us together in the darkest of times. Another great thing my mom told me was to make sure your other half loves you more than you love them. And it's not to say that you want to be lackluster in the relationship or marriage, but you want to know without a doubt in your mind, that the person you love, loves you just as much. You should never be someone's second choice. If there was a person that was picked before you, but you ended up 2nd place, leave. Runner up will never satisfy that person.

My favorite quote from Dream for an Insomniac is, “Anything less than mad, passionate, extraordinary love is a waste of time. There are too many mediocre things in life to deal with and love shouldn't be one of them.”

After 20+ years, "mad" and "passionate' can definitely have its own interpretation. Let's get real: relationships require patience and understanding. But remember, if someone says that they never argue or fight, then either something is wrong or they're flat-out lying. A healthy argument here and there is actually a good thing. As they say, making up is the best part! Forgiveness is huge. And when you two come to the realization that you cannot be without one another, then you know that this is a lifer. Even separations can be healthy. It'll either make or break you. A long time ago, my wife and I had separated for over a year, and it made the both of us realize how much we couldn't live without one another. I would go out with my friends to a restaurant and think, "Oh wow, she would love this!" Or I'd see something in a mall and think, "This would look terrific on her!" When you truly love someone, you always want them there with you, experiencing everything with you, as well as having some balanced alone time too.

Love is not just a feeling. It's so much more than that. Love is an action. To love someone is to show them---to prove to them---to make it clear that you are caring for them (in whatever way you do.) Love is cooking for them. Love is working hard to make a life together. Love is taking care of each other in sickness and in health. Love is compromising. Love is intimacy---doesn't all have to be sexual, but it does require human touch: snuggling up watching a movie, holding hands, long talks over coffee, massaging their back after a long stressful day, drawing a bath for them or randomly saying "I love you" for no other reason than making sure he/she knows. The "perfect relationship" isn't out there. It's finding the imperfections of your partner beautiful, which creates the perfect bond.

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

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Hurt People Hurt People

Have you ever just thought to yourself, "I just wanna run away," without a clear destination in mind? Sometimes, without even a particular cause or reason? Or, perhaps you were just done with people---sick and tired of being taken advantage of, or how people disappoint you all the time...blah blah blah. Yeah, me too. But when I dig deeper---like really dig for the answers of why I'm so "sick and tired"---it usually all points out to me. If you see a pattern of you pushing everyone else away, it may not be them so much, as it is with the fact that maybe, your inability to forgive humanness as well as giving no margin error, or to actually change your response and attitude towards a particular situation. We have to love the imperfections of our imperfect friends and family----and our imperfect selves as well. We have to also first and foremost, love ourselves first before even attempting to love anybody else. Let's face it, we all have our bag of issues, but we also need to accept that other people have them as well.

We want to be treated right, treated fairy and respected. That's a given. But what happens when one of the people in your life is having a really crappy day? Maybe they lost a loved one, maybe they lost their job or they're going through a terrible divorce or breakup. Their "bad behavior" in your eyes may just be their way of grieving. Maybe they're a little more forgetful because they're lost in their own thoughts---lost in their own pain. Maybe they don't ask how you're doing because their pain overrides the happiness you may be displaying, or pretending to display. If you're showing more strength and joy, then maybe that's why they're coming to you with all of their problems, or not asking, "Hey, how are you?" In therapy sessions, it's customary to avoid asking the psychologist "how are you" only because they are there to help you. They have more strength, knowledge, and capability (so they display.) But they're human too. I don't care how unprofessional it is---I always ask my therapist(s) how they're doing. They chuckle at first, but after a while, they appreciate it.

I feel like I've pushed away a few people in my life due to my own issues. Mostly, I don't want to become a burden to anyone. Secondly, and selfishly, my own grief had turned my attitude towards things into a more bitter response than I had hoped for. Maybe I called you out on something you've done, which in the bigger scheme of things, was really no big deal at all, and should've been left alone. Or maybe I was disappointed by something you didn't even realize you had done, or hadn't done. It's true that hurt people hurt people, and if I've hurt you through my own hurt, then I am truly sorry.

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

Friday, December 28, 2018

The Art of Being Disingenuous

As we were driving back home from our friend's 40th birthday party, Madelene asked me if I noticed all of the bickering our friend and her husband were doing in the kitchen. At one point, their argument became so heated that he had to step out for a drive. He didn't return home for about an hour. Sometimes, I can be so naive to these things. I rarely take notice when there's a lot going on in one place. It's all I can do to just listen to just one conversation.

"She's not happy." Madelene said.
"I don't know, I rarely get myself involved or ask anything personal." I said.
"You don't need to--it's so evident," she said, as she looked toward our friend in the backseat for confirmation.
"She has to be happy--I mean, look at the house he has provided for her. He just got her a new car too! Did you see that huge rock on her finger?"

Why would someone stay with their spouse if there is more unhappiness than anything else? If it's all about the money and provisions, then how sad is that? I would seriously live in a tent with someone I love with all my heart, rather than live with someone who disrespects me, cheats on me or treats me poorly who happens to be rich. Money has never caught my eye. A person's heart and sincerity---a person's dignity and willingness to make a life with me catches my eye. Is it disingenuous for a woman to stay with her husband just because he provides a "good life" for her, even though it's a loveless marriage? I know quite a few wealthy people who think that money "should" be able to buy love. "Well, I'm a good provider, therefore, I'm a great catch."


A good catch is someone who comes back home at the end of the day, kisses you softly, and then asks, "How was your day?"

A good catch is someone who has cleaned the house, cooked a healthy meal for you and the family and when you return from home, she kisses you softly and asks, "How was your day?"

A good catch is someone who holds your hand while watching a movie. It's affection--human contact--unconditional love--it's being silly together.

A good catch is someone who will hold you during the night when you feel anxious or worried so that you can fall asleep.

A good catch is someone who shares the same faith as you do, edifying your own beliefs, bringing you closer to God.

A good catch is someone who respects you and treats you as they would themselves.

A good catch is someone who would take care of you while you're sick, cover you with a warm blanket, make you homemade chicken soup, or just a simple cup of tea. It's about the effort.

A good catch will understand when there comes a time in your relationship or marriage when one gets sick and unable to be that ~fiery tiger~ at night, and decides to let you rest---someone who will wait for you. For sickness and in health.

A good catch will make you laugh so that you can forget about your problems.

A good catch is loyal, respectful, honest and willing to go the extra mile to see a smile on your face.

Anything other than that, is disingenuous.

On another note, couple of months ago, Madelene and I started to go to a new church in our area. I was excited to be apart of a new group and maybe meet other people of the same faith. I wanted to somehow get involved in the church, maybe volunteer my time or become part of the music section since I've been playing guitar for 34 years now. As we kept going back each Sunday, I noticed there was something missing. I kept stating how the church was a bit 'lackluster'---they had no umph! It definitely wasn't a spirit-filled church in my opinion.

Then, each time the pastors stepped up for their individual sermons, each one had a common tone---a tone that set off this feeling of insincerity---like someone 'trying to hard.' There was no zeal--no passion for what they were speaking about. There was no anointing. You know when you're in church and you get those 'feel good goose bumps' all over? There was none of that whatsoever. Even the church members looked like a bunch of zombies, bored out of their minds. Then one Sunday, a young man in his mid-twenties stepped up and his entire sermon was all about him. He wasn't trying to praise God or teach us something about the Bible---he was trying his best to win us over. He wasn't preaching the Word of God--he was trying to make a name for himself only. And that's the gist I got out of that church and I never returned. It was a self-serving, disingenuous church.

Years ago, we attended a church that absolutely took our breath away. Each time we left the church, we came back with a new understanding of our faith, and even a new message that God had for us. After each praise of worship, there was crying and weeping of joy---the Holy Spirit filled up the entire church, affecting everyone in its path, including us! I have never felt such a spirit-filled environment before. Each time the pastors got up to speak, they weren't speaking for themselves---they weren't speaking to just hear themselves talk. These pastors were there to bring the presence of God, and to welcome the Holy Spirit as well as to teach everyone what the message of the day was. God always has a message for you when you walk into a place of worship. If you do not get a message, it's one or two reasons---maybe you're blocking it yourself and not open enough to hear it, or maybe the pastor isn't being sincere enough, only ministering to make a name for himself. You can feel it. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, that church closed down and moved farther away. This weekend, we are attending a new church and hoping for the best.

What about people? Friends, family, coworkers, strangers---anyone.

Every morning, I pray for discernment. I pray that God will let me know the motives of people. I can pick up disingenuous people pretty quickly. But sometimes, when I give too much of the benefit of the doubt, I can be easily fooled. Thing is, we're all human and we make mistakes sometimes. As it says in the Father's prayer----"...forgive us for our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us"---we should forgive one another for our humanness. But what if someone's "humanness" gets in the way of the friendship itself, by being manipulative or intentionally using someone to get whatever benefit they are seeking? It's easier to walk away from a coworker or stranger, but how easy is it to put on the brakes with a friend or relative who may be using you? It's not easy at all. In fact, calling someone out on their ill intentioned motives may put them in a self-defense 'backing a tiger in the corner' type of reaction.

Again, as I said in my previous post, I have a lot of people thinking that I'm some sort of millionaire. I'm a free-lance blogger, author and editor. I work mainly off my advertisers who pay me. I don't make a huge bundle, but I pay my bills and I'm happy with what I have. I even have enough time to clean the house and cook a healthy homemade dinner for my wife. She deserves it since she works her butt off all day long, dealing with uptight, mean rich people. More often than not, we'll have friends who simply use us for something. How do we know? It eventually rears its ugly head when we see the person doing the same or more for another friend. A friendship should be an equal give and take. When one feels exhausted over the efforts they have to do in order to maintain a level of 'happiness' for that friend, then something is out of balance. Whether it's due to money or just being a slave for someone without the return offer of helping out in some way, then it becomes a question of: why are you really our friend? Everything in the world needs balance, whether in friendships or marriages. Balance is everything. If you decide to keep that balance more in your favor, you risk the friendship entirely. I had a friend who would only call and ask me to do something with her, only because her plans fell through. I was her last resort. I remember when she hit the last straw with me. My mother had just passed away and she said, "Let me come over and help you a little." I was thrilled! Usually, she was always coming over because I was making a spectacular dinner, as she drank my good wine. But this time, when she called and offered this, I remember I was lying in bed with tear tracks down my cheeks from crying nonstop. I asked her, "Would you make me that soup you always make?" Immediately after I asked her this, she said, "Oh, I forgot! I have plans! Sorry" That was the last straw. She wanted to come here to eat, drink and use us as her own personal B&B, as she used to call my home.

I asked another friend of mine, "Is it me? I just keep losing friends all the time. Am I asking too much?" And she said, "No Deb, you do too much and you're attracting the leeches of society." With that being said, I am in no way expecting a gift for a gift. I give without expectations, but I can pin out a person who is only in the friendship to get something out of it. I love cooking and entertaining for my friends and telling them, "Please just bring yourselves," and I genuinely mean that. But sometimes, it's nice when a friend comes over or surprises you with an unexpected gift from the heart----not a monetary gift, but something they can provide for you, like good advice, a friendly ear, or perhaps even help you cook. I've also been known to be "the therapist." I've had quite a few friends lay on my sofa talking for hours on end about their lives, never once asking how I was doing. If by chance, I got a word in edgewise, their eyes would dart around the room like a child who was completely and utterly bored. So I did an experiment with a friend the last time she was here. I wanted to see how long she would go on talking about her problems, her significant other, as well as her cockamamie stories---four hours later, I was still sitting in my recliner listening to inappropriate sexual stories that no one needed to hear or visualize. I knew right then, I needed to make a change.

People don't have to use you for money. Some people will treat you like a damn therapist, leaving you completely exasperated. Emotional vampires who literally rape your ear can be more toxic for you than someone who uses you for money. I think this is part of the reason why I don't do "peopling" well. Although, I do believe in not expecting much in people because let's face it, we'll always be disappointed, there's another side of me that believes that there are good-hearted and good-intentioned souls out there who truly want a balanced friendship. Friendships shouldn't be that complicated. It's only when you come across a disingenuous person that you'll experience the tip of the scale, favoring their side consistently. I pretty much do everything on my own. My wife and I are a team. I buy the groceries, I cook for my wife, I cook for myself, I clean the house, I pay the bills and I have never once asked for help. If I give or if I invite you to my home for dinner and a place to stay, I do it without the expectation of getting something back. I don't use people. I give from the heart---always. Thinking back, besides my in laws and my sister---there's not anyone I can think of who offered to come here and cook for me, or take care of me when I wasn't feel well. I don't have friends like that. I have fair-weather friends who are only there to reap the benefits. So if you're wondering why I sometimes go into the "recluse" mode, this would be a good explanation. I don't trust people. Most are, well...disingenuous.

For once, I'd love to prove myself wrong on this one.

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

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Intense Grief During the Holidays

The edginess creeped in as the holidays approached. I tried my best to put on a happy face and enjoy 'the living,' as suggested, but I kept seeing flickers of past Christmases when Mom and Dad were still alive. It's not only Christmas that does it, but New Year's Eve too. It was a huge event for us, even till the very end. I started to shut the door more, closing people out, curling up into a ball to try and not feel as much, but anxiety crept in, as well as the intense pain of my grief. Am I depressed? Am I lonely? Am I scared? I don't even know what I feel right now. I delved into my work, to only find myself gasping for air and noticing how empty and cold the house was. It wasn't too long until I finally realized how long it's been since I even left the house. I made all types of excuses, like "Why should I? It's too cold. It's too crowded. I have nothing to purchase." I don't feel like bothering with people. I'm not sure if I would call it agoraphobia so much. I think I'm going through a small bout of depression. I just don't like anything 'out there' anymore. I can go, but I'm not even interested.

Maybe I don't trust people anymore. I have had way too many "friends" take advantage of me. For whatever reason, everybody and their mother thinks I'm some sort of millionaire. They're always waiting for some kind of handout. The 'me me me' people have been pushed away, as I slowly climb back into my safe cocoon. Life is much different since mom died. My best conversations was with my mom. We'd talk for hours and every night, we'd have dinner together. It got tough at the end, watching her decline and suffer with this horrendous beast of an illness. I always felt this overwhelming sense of guilt when she was ill. If I wanted to just go out to dinner for a couple of hours with my partner, somehow, in the back of my mind, I felt I would get in trouble for leaving Mom alone, even though the restaurant was right down the street. I never wanted to leave her alone and tried my best not to. Even when I used to go to the local farm markets with my dog, I'd bring Mom so she could get a little sunshine, even if she sat inside the car with the door open, while smoking her e-cigarette.

We weren't living at all. Soon enough it became an issue of, 'how much more pain medication does she need' instead of hoping for the tumor to shrink. No more good reports of remission, just a terminal sentence...a painful waiting period of 'what if'---more like, 'when.'  I went into anticipatory grief, trying to muffle the sounds of my own dreadful sobbing. But Mom caught me crying and knew why I was so sad. I didn't want to scare her with news she already knew. How will I live without my best friend? What will I do now? How can I manage or cope? I'm a big girl now, but but but... I still need my mama.

I was watching this weird apocalyptic movie where this woman was dying in her dilapidated cabin. Her daughter was taking care of her, hoping she would somehow make it through. But her mom said, "Live your life. I'm dying so that you can live." I started to feel that lump in my throat, trying not to cry. And then a few days later, another movie said the same thing: "I'm dying so you can live." And a day after that, I heard a sermon talking about Jesus, saying, "I died so that you could live." I know what it means, but I'm not "living" yet, Mom. I'm trying my hardest to work with this new life---this "new normal" or whatever they call it. When does it get easier? I honestly think she was the only person in the world who truly knew me inside and out. Now what?

Many times I think to myself, "Will I die from a broken heart?" And as I was tying this, a mama bird came right up to a branch near my office window with a big piece of food--maybe a worm or some kind of slug to bring back for her babies back. Then it landed right onto my balcony and stared right into my window. It was like my mom giving me some sort of sign or a "hello."  Last night, while I was sleeping, I felt someone's breath on my ear and say something---but I couldn't make out what it was, but I felt the air on my ear and how it tickled. I woke up and kept saying, "What? What?" So then, I decided to make a bathroom run, and right when I got to the corner of my bedroom, my guitar strummed a tune by itself. Yes, you can reread that sentence. I stopped right in my tracks and just stared at it. Earlier, I was playing a song I wrote for my mother. It was powerful. Somehow, that guitar played itself at 4am.

Coincidences? Who knows.

Even as God stripped away my desire to drink alcohol (which I prayed for)---my sleep has definitely improved. But now, with the anxiety and grief creeping back in, I could sure use a drink. It's been three months since I stopped drinking like a fish. My sleep has improved, but my anxiety has remained. But then I get a reminder...

"I am leaving you with a gift---peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn't the peace the world gives. So don't be troubled or afraid." --John 14:27

I'd like to think that I'm that somebody who would go out on a limb to help anyone who needs it. I will feed you, give you a place to stay and even give you my own clothes if you need---but as soon as I need someone or something, as soon as I reach out for help, there's nobody there for me. I'm not looking for any sympathy, and I'm not having a pity party for one here, I'm just stating facts. I'm all alone in this. I can feel my body shutting down somewhat. My heart races out of control, palpitations jolting me out of a deep sleep like a hot kernel, and days when I feel like I just can't go on. And all I can hear is the silence of the mountains around me, and the chaos within my own head, crying, screaming for help.

Bear with me as I try and get through this crinkle in life. Therapists say that grief has no time limits or rules, but I don't want to lose myself either. I'm just feeling a whole lotta sadness right now. I feel extremely lonely, yet I'm not pressing to be around anyone either. Hopefully, I will wake up from this dense fog and finally see the sunshine that's been beating down on me this whole time. In the meantime, I'm here. I'm still alive. Somewhat.

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

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Has Social Media Turned Us Into Narcissists?

The truth is, nobody cares. Nobody cares about how many selfies you post up onto your social media. Nobody cares about how you went to the grocery store to find someone on a 20 items or less aisle who had 40 items in his cart. Nobody cares that you got engaged. Nobody cares about how many "likes" and "comments" you get. But they do care about how many "likes" and "comments" they get. Social media has turned people into self-absorbed narcissists. I've never seen a status message or tweet that asked, "How are all my friends doing?" And honestly? I get so tired of people calling me up without the greeting of, "Hey, how are you? Is this a good time to talk?" I get, "Ugh, guess what happened to me today," or "Did you hear about Gary's wife?" I never get, "Hey Deb, how are you?" Never. Periodically, I'll have a friend over and 99.9% of the conversation is all about their lives. If I say one thing about my life, they're scanning around the room bored to tears, until I ask, "So tell me about this person you met?" And the chatterbox will go on and on with a big ol' smile on their face. This is how people communicate now. They only listen so they can respond.

Another downfall of social media is that everyone now has ADD. They cannot read or write past 280 characters. Books have become a thing of the past, and if the book is more than 30 pages long (even digital) they're just not interested. Nobody wants to read, nobody wants to take 'in' or absorb information, they just want to vomit all over social media about their lives and their struggles. Get a therapist. That's what they're there for. I totally understand if someone wants to show photos and videos of their vacation or trip around the world. But overall, when we finally do meet in person---when we finally have a conversation face-to-face, it seems like people have lost all ability to communicate in person. It's almost an extension of social media. "Me, me, me, and more of me." No wonder children are socially awkward these days. They only communicate via text or and if they do something interactive with one another, it's usually through a video game they're both playing at separate locations. Kids don't come over to play ATARI anymore. I remember playing a 2 player ATARI game and then going out sleigh riding afterwards while mom kept hot cocoa waiting for us when we came home.

What does your camera roll look like? 
But I digress, let's get back to the real narcissists. Selfies. We've seen them, we've cringed over a few, and we've also seen the 'every post and emotion' selfies plastered onto somebody's wall. Between the duck face, the bathroom selfies, the aerial shot selfie, where a 300 lb woman could look 100 lbs, as well as the 'head tuck so you don't see my double chin shot.' Society has become obsessed with looking a certain way on social media. Even middle aged women are flaunting what they still got, hoping a little photoshop or filter will fix 'this' or 'that.'  In real life, there are no filters. There's no dubbing out the moles or blemishes. It's just beautiful you as you are, and if people want to judge that, they better take a real hard look in the mirror, because nobody's perfect. Studies have found that people who take multiple selfies, who have a camera roll full of proofs have a form of a mental disorder. You can read more about it here...

I was criticized for this pic. 
We have to start loving ourselves more----not the social media kinda love, but the love where you embrace every single aspect of yourself. Somebody once asked me why I posted a selfie of myself without makeup on. And I said, "Well, if you typically come over after 8pm on a Wednesday night, this is what I'm probably gonna look like." Be real. Be you. And of course, we all like to put our best foot forward and look nice for the camera, but it's so refreshing to see somebody post up pics or videos of themselves, in their natural habitat. (Insert monkey sounds here.) It's all good.

The truth is: beauty fades, wrinkles set in, (unless you have a good surgeon) and pounds add on depending on the person. We would all love to hold onto the edge of the fountain of youth, but maybe we should be holding onto the fact that God loves us as is and we need to be surrounded by people who also love us, 'as is.' There's no such thing as perfection. On social media, perfection is everywhere, but we can't bring those filters to the grocery store. I saw an old friend for lunch last year through Facebook. I scrolled through her photos and wondered how she managed to look so fricken young after all these years! I was so impressed. When we met, it was an entire different story. She forgot to bring the filters with her, but she still looked so amazingly beautiful anyway! Why are people doing this? If I look like crap, I just throw a pair of huge sunglasses on and that's that. If you judge me, that's on you.

                                                         But first, let me take a selfie!  

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

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Dealing With Holiday Sadness

When I pray, you answer me, you encourage me by giving me the strength I need.--Philippians  138:3
The silence was deafening. As I was looking around the living room, everything reminded me of my mom---the original mahogany dining room table, where we once ate dinner together as a family when I was younger, the lamp fixtures mom had picked out when she was around my age, and the beautiful tiled floors that they kept when they moved into this home back in the 1960's. I see mom's face in everything. When I came back into this home to care for both my parents, somehow the thought of losing them wasn't an option. I was in complete denial about death itself---at least for us---that only happened to other people. But, we are "other people." We are not immune to death. Both Madelene and I refurnished the home with our own updated version and style, so that my parents would be more comfortable. We put up a new entertainment area for them---a spot where my mom forbade a television set because she wanted the main living room to be for conversation only. She was pleasantly surprised how it opened up the beautiful living area. It was now "lived in" and not seen as "the un-lived living room." My dad and I would watch the Yankees game together. He used to always stay in his man cave---the den we had where he watched all of his programs. Now he could do it with us and relax on his new recliners comfortably. We held small Super Bowl parties, eating chicken wings and sharing a few drinks together. Dad and I would meet up in that living room and talk about the anxiety he was experiencing due to his illness. We never have such meaningful conversations before. I got to know him for the first time in my life.

Even looking out of the big floor-to-ceiling windows, overlooking the nearby lake and mountains, I can see Dad still sitting there, daydreaming as he stared out into the beautiful view. I can see 4th of July parties being held, and my mom bringing out huge trays of king crab legs and lobster tails, while my dad barbecued steaks, burgers and hot dogs. Everyone ate like kings. As I look over toward the small kitchen that my mom and grandmother used to cook in, I can still see mom sitting on a barstool frying up jumbo shrimp and yellow tail for the big Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes during Christmas Eve wearing her red sequenced sweater. Over on the counter would be chips and dips with plastic wine Chinet glasses stacked up, along with the large sturdy plastic plates. Christmas music would be blaring from every room. The house was beautifully decorated with lights and tinsel, and the tree perfectly was always perfectly set with lights of various colors. Mom always had this beautiful angel star that turned her head back and forth as if she was overseeing the entire room.

Walking into the little kitchen, I can see the pool area, where mom would make sandwiches and open up the window right from the kitchen so she could serve all of us as we swam and sunbathed all afternoon. The entire property is all mom and dad. BBQ's every Saturday, even if it was snowing. So many summer nights spent out on the patio having coffee and cake, while mom and dad smoked their cigarettes talking about the good old times.

And now, all I have are the good old times, as I replay them over and over in my head.

These memories aren't always positive ones. As I stare down the hallway, I can see mom and dad's room. I remember mom calling me, "Deb! Can you come inside please? Dad wants a kiss." As I walked in holding back tears, I stood near Dad's bed, where his body was shutting down from this awful disease. I kissed his forehead and said, "I love you, Dad," and with our lifelong humor we shared together, I whispered in his ear, "This is gonna cost you...I'm gonna pickpocket you on the way out." He gave a silent laugh---it was literally his last laugh of his life. I watched mom holding his hand, lying down on the bed with him sobbing. My sisters and I all surrounded him, hoping somehow, some way, a miracle would happen.

As I turn my head, I can see the bar area, where mom stood by brick wall divider as she held her arms out and said, "Come here, Debbie." We hugged so tightly, as if it was the last time I would ever see her. As she held onto me, she said, "I love you, Debbie." I replied, "I love you too, Mom," in almost a question-like response, as if to say, "What's wrong---why are you doing this?" I mean, I loved that my mom was hugging me and telling me she loved me, but it was close to midnight when she called me to come downstairs to do this. She then said, "I'm so worried about you." I tried to lighten up the mood and said, "I'm worried about me too!" And we both laughed. Then she looked at me, holding back tears and then said, "Call an ambulance." It was our very last hug. I look at that spot every single day as I make my way into the kitchen area.

As I turn my head toward the other side of the room, I can see weeks after this special moment my mother and I had together, watching myself as if I was having an outer body experience, throwing everything against the wall and crying hysterically---mourning---grieving---pleading with God to make it stop. I saw myself standing by the fireplace, scared and shaking because it was 10 below zero and I was all alone in a power outage in the dark. The fear, the dread, the anxiety, the pain, the grief had all taken the place of all the happiness and love once held in this beautiful home. I now have painful memories.

Christmas trees were put up only because Mom and Dad loved them so much. I can't seem to do that anymore. This old house, as beautiful as it is, with so many wonderful memories has become a torture chamber for me. As time goes on, there are more good times than not, but the loneliness, the emptiness of this home is literally killing me. We had planned on moving out before the winter of this year, but for whatever reason which I can't understand, we are still here. I'm dying inside, praying every morning for God to give me inner strength to get me through this. It's a big house for only two people. We are literally killing ourselves just to keep up with everything this house has to offer. Three living rooms, five bedrooms, two kitchens, four bathrooms and we need a new roof and siding. An old oil burner that's conking out every so often. Each maintenance call comes with a hefty fee. We have someone filling in an enormous pothole that literally turned into a large pond in our front driveway. We cannot receive packages from UPS anymore because they cannot get through the pond area. They now walk on the side of it now, realizing we are struggling to fix this.

All I can do right now is take care of myself. I pray daily. I stopped drinking. I am eating cleaner. I am sleeping again and trying to keep myself in a good state of mind, but it's tough. I never hear from my family anymore. It's like one day I had a big family and the next---gone. Nobody comes and visits me or even calls to say, "Hey, how you doing?" Nobody. It hurts. But I refuse to hold pity parties for myself because this isn't where it ends. God has seen me through the worst of times, and He is still guiding me to keep pressing on. I refuse to give up, even if I die trying.

Never give up. No matter how hard the holidays may haunt you---God has a plan for you. Trust Him.

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

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

What Do You See in the Mirror?

Truthfully, who can say that they're happy all the time? It's impossible living in this world and being blissful 24/7---but I do believe we can make our situations a little better. I've heard everything from, "I wish I was thinner," "I wish I had more money," "I wish I could get a better job," "I wish my spouse would change"---I wish I wish I wish. Start with the basics: what do you have? What are you grateful for. Just start there for a moment. Each morning while I pray and meditate, I list off at least five things that I'm grateful for, and then it turns out to be more than ten. I'm grateful for my health, my restful night's sleep, the food on my table, the roof over my head, even running water---some people have no water! I spoke to a friend who had undergone weight loss surgery. She lost a total of 150 lbs. And while this was to better her health, body, mind and soul, somehow, she was still unhappy. She thought, "Well, if I was thinner I'd be much healthier and happier." But what happened was, the extra skin from being overweight was loose and had to be tucked into her pants. She was uncomfortable, and she was ashamed of what she looked like. She even complained about looking twenty years older. During a conversation we had, she said,"I wasn't this unhappy when I was bigger!" She still doesn't want to look at herself in the mirror or wear something that reveals her arms or legs. I know beautiful women who are a size two who think they're fat and ugly. They look in the mirror and see something totally different than what other people see.

When will we ever be happy with ourselves? It's a proven fact that when somebody hates the way they look or feel, it will show outwardly in terms of their behavior. Oddly enough, there's a study which shows that most women who are unhappy with themselves are usually those who are desirably thinner who have symmetrical facial features, which society deems as beautiful.  But they don't see this. They internalize their misery, sometimes bringing forth a bitter attitude, or a false sense of pride---appearing to be confident when in fact, they're more insecure than the plus size woman at the end of the bar laughing with her friends. Every woman becomes a threat to this "perfect woman" and every partner she has will feel the wrath of her jealousy.

Coming to terms with loving yourself is one of the most beautiful features someone can have. Confidence is sexy. And I'm not speaking about being arrogant and conceited---I'm talking about being confident enough to laugh at yourself, to make others laugh, to enjoy life without jealousy, without anger, without the chip on your shoulder. I know someone very close to me who is such a beautiful woman. Her insecurities run deep, and with that, her tortured soul seems to torture those who either don't agree with her, look at her the wrong way, or perhaps, find her on a day when she's just not in a good mood. You always have to walk on eggshells around her. Trying to contact her is like a box of chocolates.... you can finish the rest of that sentence. But if you look deeper, you'll start to understand some of the madness. They'll never ask, "Hey, how are you," with true sincerity. They'll proverbially vomit all of their life's happenings and success stories on you. The agony that one goes through when they obsess over their looks, especially if they're hitting a certain age, is just frightening. Embrace yourself, because looks will fade after time and we all have to make peace with our new selves after some time.

But why not make peace with who we are and how we look now? If God made us so perfectly, then why don't we believe that? Some of the features we dislike about ourselves may be the one feature that someone falls in love with. There's this beautiful young mix-raced woman, named Natasha Culzac, who was extremely insecure about her freckles. She was also insecure growing up and even tried to bleach out her freckles, which ultimately made her a famous supermodel. Check out her video. If you have trouble viewing the video below, click here.

Let me even take it a step further. I know that many people who are so self-conscious about their weight are fearful about health ramifications, and rightfully so. Being overweight or obese can lead to diabetes, heart problems and joint issues. But even if you're seemingly "fit"---you also. may get diabetes, heart problems and joint issues. See, nothing guarantees perfect health in this life. I remember while growing up, my dad's friends would look at him in disgust saying, "Charlie! You gotta lose that weight, you're not gonna make it to 50." He made it to 50, 60, 70 and 75---the life expectancy of an average man. And while they meant well, because let's face it, 400 lbs is pretty big---my dad outlived everyone who told him to lose weight. Weird fact? They were younger than him! And don't get me wrong, my dad had health issues due to smoking, which ultimately led to cancer. But he didn't die because of his weight. My uncle who was 30 years old ate nothing but vegetables and lean meats. He wouldn't touch my mother's delicious Italian food, in fear that it would be high in cholesterol (which he was right.) But he died of a heart attack at the age of 30. My point is: nothing---nothing guarantees perfect health. Why are we obsessing over how other people live their lives. Some people who are overweight seem to have genetic components. People who disagree with this and say, "Well, they're in the same household so they eat the same junk," have never looked into the bigger picture. There was a show about lost loved ones. And this one girl wanted to meet her siblings. They never met before, because her biological mother gave her up at birth because she was too young to have a child. Long story short: the entire family all held the same shape and size. They also lived across the country from one another. Many people are just predestined to be overweight. Yes they can lose the weight, but at a much difficult attempt, which is why so many end up gaining it back to their original shape. But it all depends. Each person is different.

But why obsess?

Why can't we learn to like what we see in the mirror? I honestly never wanted to be anybody else. I was always happy with 'me'---flaws and all---extra cushion, even if it meant plus size. I just wanted to be able to be active, feel good and admiringly, fit into a nice pair of jeans without them being "mom jeans." I'd rather wear elastic if that happens. But I can laugh at it, and not fall into a pit of depression because I gained an extra 5-10 lbs. I've chosen to eat healthier because I like the benefits of a low carb diet, which makes your skin look healthier and also sets your gut health into full gear. Your gut health is all about your immunity. I just want to feel good "today." Let's start there. I want to avoid the flu, stomach issues, GERD, inflammation---so I eat certain things so that I can feel good "today." What I desire most in life is to be around good people who make me laugh. I want to help others if I can and make a difference in this world. I know that if God loves me, then that is all that matters. If God made me perfectly, then I should be grateful for my health and the ability to make it to the age of 44. I want to leave something behind when I go back home to God. I want to leave something that will outlast my life. This is why I write. This is why I broadcast. This is also why I leave my recipes behind. Those recipes and all of the cooking I've done throughout my life brought friends and family together. Isn't that what life's all about? Togetherness? Laughter? Food? Fun? Experiencing all of your passions in life? Making your work your passion? Because let's face it---if you love what you do for a living, it no longer becomes "work."

Why judge other people?

There's a whole other type of insecurity that runs rampant in our society, and that's the ability to have a high profile career or be someone of importance. Some people are judged for working their tails off at a grocery store, or custodial work and some even judged for being a stay-at-home mom or housewife. Unless you are lying on the sofa eating Bon Bons all day, then that's a whole other can-o-beans. The typical housewife or stay-at-home mom does more labor intensive work than the average customer service rep or sales associate. Many new mothers actually shorten their maternity leave to go back to work due to the intensity of being home with their newborns. You can even Google that fact! I've seen it with my own eyes.

The other day I was talking to my friend on FaceTime as she watched me cook my chicken soup----which is a three hour extravaganza. She was making comments like, "Why are you doing all that?" "Why do you have to blend the vegetable together?" "Why are you chopping all of that?" I laughed and said, "I know, right? I should get paid for this!" So she looked up what a housewife income should be and it said, $143,000.00! Although I work from home writing and editing, I am also a proud housewife and love to shop for groceries, prepare healthy meals for my other half and bring friends and family over for delicious dinners. I think it's important that someone in the home is the 'domestic goddess' so to speak---the one that's more nurturing and can whip up an elegant dinner at the last minute, while she folds your clothes. I love the traditional roles of a household and have a passion for it. So when somebody judges me, I always wonder about their level of inner peace. I remember someone said to me at a Christmas party, "So when are you getting a real job?" I just looked at them and asked, "Did that make you feel better about yourself?" Miserable people love throwing psychological projections on those who 'seem' to be happier. I'm not happy all the time, but I have to say, I am very content with who I am, what I do and who I love. I feel very blessed for that alone. I was miserable working for IBM in a beautiful office doing accounting and making more money. It sucked the life-force out of me. Many people can do it, but that kind of job wasn't for me. So I decided to do what's best for me.

Never let anybody discourage you or judge you. Never let somebody's own unhappiness destroy your inner peace. The Bible says that the devil comes to steal, kill and destroy, and he will use miserable people to try and make you feel bad about yourself. Hurt people hurt. We need to be around more people who uplift and edify us---not tear us down. And remember---whoever is trying to bring you down is already below you. They're just trying to pull you into their own misery. Ah, misery loves company as they say. Pray for them. Don't even respond to their psychological projection. Smile and walk away. Keep in mind that God made you PERFECTLY and your lot in this life is purposeful. There are times when many of us wonder if we even have a purpose. I have. Even if you're unsure, know that God has a plan for you, plans for a future and a hope. You're not here to just take up space, but I have learned this: life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage. The devil wants you to shrink back and become a recluse; fearful and timid. Every morning I pray to become courageous---to overcome the anxiety and fear---to even become dangerously courageous. Sometimes I'm doing all I can do make that happen, while other times, I feel a little weaker than other days---and that's OK. Pray pray pray. The more you pray the stronger you become, because God gives us the strength to overcome those spiritual battles.

Love yourself. 
Embrace yourself.
Be grateful for YOU.
Share yourself with the world! 

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