Friday, March 27, 2015

Skinned Knees Are Easier to Fix Than Broken Hearts

What happens when everything you knew comes crashing down as one big, elaborate facade? It's like your mind completely stops -- relinquishing all thoughts, dreams and hopes of a future once planned out so thoroughly and so carefully. It can be anything sudden, like a death of a loved one or finding out that the one person you were about to marry has decided not to go through with it. Maybe you were served divorce papers. Whatever the situation is, it's all relative. They all just seem to smack you with a dose of reality that there is nothing can be untouchable. Our future is not secure. Our future is actually an illusion if you want to even take it a step further. Nothing is set in stone -- ever. Maybe that's why we get so disappointed in certain situations. I mean, I always thought my dad would live forever and that my mom would never get cancer. I just 'thought'. I also thought my life would turn out differently, at least to the point of having a general idea of where it was heading. I was completely wrong. I'm not unhappy about it, but it is very different from what I used to 'dream' about. But it was all an illusion. Remember "BFF"? "Best Friends Forever" was scribbled all over your notebooks in school and how you and your buddy would never separate. You'd make plans to have kids at the same time and to always be in one another's lives. And now, maybe a few emails per year or every other year on Facebook saying "hi" and exchanging simple pleasantries and comments about the photo you posted onto Pinterest.  What about siblings? We change. Some move across the country or across oceans to start a new life. Some are right across the street, and yet you haven't seen them in months, maybe even years.

And you know what?

That's okay.

I remember a long, long time ago having dinner at a local restaurant with an ex-girlfriend of mine. She kept asking me to move in with her, taking our relationship to the next level. I didn't answer her right away and was very scared about it. She wanted me to change a lot of things about me. I mean, they were doable, but they weren't the 'true me'. I secretly went to my psychologist and asked him about what he thought. I explained how she wanted me to change a few things about myself. He just stared at me and then said, "Tell her, 'This is me, I'm not gonna change, but I will take this to the next level with you.'" So the following night I prepared myself to give her a "yes" -- to give up a lot of what I had for her -- basically, my world. I had a lot to lose by doing this -- by making this huge mistake decision.  So we went out for dinner. We usually sat at the bar. I ordered a glass of wine and had the salmon with some veggies. I remember every single detail like it was a few hours ago. Halfway through dinner, I was excited and nervous to turn to her and say, "Yes." I thought she would be gleaming with joy, maybe even hugging me in public. But what I got was so unexpected and not what I envisioned at all.

"That's not an option now, Deb."

I stared at my plate replaying her words in my head. I could no longer eat. I took a swig of my wine, but the lump in my throat made it hard to go down. I felt my heart breaking right then and there, secretly trying to hide this traumatic event that just unfolded. I even remember thinking that I would probably never forget this moment. And I was right. My plans and dreams in my mind seemed to have floated up above me -- like swirling around in space asking, "What do we do now?' I couldn't speak. I couldn't even answer my own thoughts that were begging for answers. I didn't even ask "why" or continue that conversation. I didn't want to know. I was actually too scared to know. Did my hair look bad that night? Did I wear the right outfit? What went wrong? So, I remained silent as I drank my wine and slid my plate of dinner away from me. I believe I drank way too much wine within the last 30 minutes of that conversation and had to get a ride home. I was devastated. And of course, wine + devastation + heartbreak = bad reaction. I ended up getting "brave" that night calling and yelling at her. I was angry. I was hurt. I should have just remained silent.

But see, looking back and I guess with hindsight being 20/20, she made the right decision. I wasn't good for her. And I'm not saying that I'm not a good person or not good enough for anybody else, but I wasn't in a good place at the time or even ready to share my life with another person. Just the fact that I had to think about it for a whole week or more was enough reason to show her that I was not ready for that big step. I was not ready for a mature relationship, just because I wasn't mature enough myself to begin with. And I'm not downing myself, I'm just stating facts.

When things don't work out the way we want them to, we can either stomp our feet like big crybabies (like I did), or we can accept them and take those swirling thoughts above our heads and redirect them -- but only when they're ready to be redirected. We don't always have to have a plan or make a decision. Sometimes making no choice is better than making the wrong choice.  Life is unpredictable and so are people. Our feelings can change, our thoughts can change and so can our hearts. So my point is: never think for a moment that everything is just gonna remain 'as is' for ever. Never think that 'so & so' will always be there waiting for you. Never think your loved ones will live forever and ever. But never lose hope that everything works out for the best, or at least, to where it's supposed to be. Sometimes we don't know our purpose in life, until a huge life event changes us forever. We all have an integral part in this huge universe of ours, not just in one person's life. So when you feel that pain of rejection and you feel like your whole world has just fell apart, remember that life is so much more than 'you and that person' -- it's about experiencing love, happiness, sadness as well as pain. We can't experience happiness if we've never gone through sad times. We also cannot appreciate beautiful and carefree days if we were never stricken with pain. There has to be darkness in order for light to shine, just as there has to be silence in order for sound to be heard. They all work together.

Even through my own experiences, losing my dad or losing a partner -- these things are how our minds develop experience, knowledge and endurance. The endurance is what keeps us moving forward. It prepares us for future challenges in life. But I'm not an expert. I'm still trying to figure it all out as I travel through this winding road of life. I still make mistakes and sometimes, I even turn into a big crybaby. But I have to say that I always learn something different from my events. There's always something to be learned in those times you feel helpless. There's a quote that I love and I'm not sure who wrote it. But it says, "Sometimes I wish I were a little kid again, skinned knees are easier to fix than broken hearts."

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, March 26, 2015

Comparison is the Death of Joy

Have you ever spent time with someone who's just incredibly bitter at the world, that once you've separated from them, you kind of feel that same bitterness yourself? It definitely rubs off sometimes. There's a huge difference between someone who is going through terrible circumstances in life and someone who is just a chronic complainer of life in general. Everyone is to blame and they take no accountability for their actions whatsoever. And don't get me wrong, I'm no stranger when it comes to bitching about something or someone -- I just can't imagine doing this for no other reason than to start up a conversation about something...anything. For the most part, many people feel it's a funny thing to be bitter, especially those who twist it into a 'joking around' type of thing. And sometimes it is. But when does it come to the point when you realize that all you do is complain about other people? Or do you even notice it?

I'm friends with quite a few comedians who are in that grueling business of trying to get discovered by someone important. They're all trying to get their own show. But in the process of climbing that comedy ladder, they compare themselves to everyone else who goes up on stage. I guess that's pretty normal in any sort of entertainment business. I remember a few years ago a friend of mine was actually infuriated by the success of a mutual friend. "How the hell does she get a show and I'm still here trying to make a small room of people laugh every other night?" Both of their comedy routines were entirely different, so there was no comparison. In fact, I personally preferred my friend's comedy. She had this quick-wit-short-tempered-in-your-face type of routine, while the other girl was more of an impressionist and relied on audience participation. I will say that quite a few of her "participated audience" was a set up -- and it usually is with comics. Have you ever sat in the front of a comedy show and wondered why you were never picked on? So this girl had a plan, rather than telling a bunch of jokes on stage. People seem to love that.

Mark Twain once said that comparison was the death of joy. And how true is that? Once you compare yourself to someone else, doesn't it take the joy away from what you're doing? Even when I first started writing, I remember this girl who had a similar type of blog to mine. She got discovered by The New York Times and then became one of the best selling authors shortly after that. A big publishing house gave her a book deal and she just skyrocketed from there. I read her blog, I bought her book and thought, "Why not me?" Yep, I was once there too. I couldn't understand how someone could write 'everyday mundane happenings' about their life and then jot it all onto a blog. It was a self-serving, self-indulgent type of blog...and so was her book. She had a life like mine, but she was straight. And while I write about my own life, it's in hopes that it'll help another person reading it. I find the best writers are the ones who write about themselves, and at the same time, they help others through their own experiences. I just sat there reading her stuff thinking, "This isn't helping anyone!" Yet, people still bought her book and other novelties that went along with it for extra sales. Amazing.

“Don't always be appraising yourself, wondering if you are better or worse than other writers. 'I will not Reason and Compare,' said Blake; 'my business is to Create.' Besides, since you are like no other being ever created since the beginning of Time, you are incomparable. ” ―Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit

I slowly drifted out of the blogosphere community and started being more independent -- not reliant on the community so much and stepping into my own uniqueness with raw and uncut literature from my heart and soul.  I can't speak for everyone, but I felt something lacking as a "blogger" -- I felt like everybody was trying to compete with one another. Granted I still have my favorite bloggers who I read all the time, but for the most part, it seemed as though "blogging" itself sort of died out. I would hear things from talented bloggers like, "How did 'so & so' get a book deal?" You're talking about -- let's say a philosophical writer comparing themselves to a children's book author. You. cannot. compete. The genre is just not the same! It caters to an entirely different audience. I learned about 'targeted audiences' and writers' tips on what your readers want. And I still have trouble at times. But the one thing I did stop was comparing myself to other writers. Instead, when I see a successful writer (someone in my own genre), I like to just read and learn from them, maybe even get a few tips and go from there. It doesn't have to be a game of "whose writing is better" -- it has everything to do with what you love to do: write. So, stop the madness and be who you are without the bullshit. Otherwise you will never get to truly enjoy what you do.

To truly love what you do means to remove all of your egotistical ways and surrender as...yourself. Show them the uncut version of yourself. If you're brave enough, vent as if you were sitting at your psychologist's office. Watch how many people you help just by relating to someone who is experiencing similar life trials. "Well it's none of anybody's business..." But as writers, most of us tell all. And when we do hold back, that's when it shows -- that's when it starts lacking "ummph". In any type of career or business, whether it be entertainment, writing, art, (yes art is a career) or any sort of business -- even like in my town, there are 5 different pizzerias -- make yours stand out. Put your heart and soul into your "sauce" and make people see, feel and experience homemade uniqueness that has only been derived by you.

The other day, Madelene and I were discussing people stealing other people's music, like the issue and lawsuit against Robin Thicke's song, "Blurred Lines". We also spoke about plagiarism, in degrees that can be seen as saying the same thing but in different words, all the while giving the same meaning. Everything has been said, has been sung, has been written, but in various ways. As a guitarist myself, I find that sometimes I'll be composing a song and the melody sounds exactly like another song I've heard before. This is where we get our influences from. "Who's your biggest influence" is asked to many artists. For me, I read a lot. I have to. I'm a writer. I also listen and watch many guitarists because I want to become a better musician. There is always room for improvement. This is not to say, copy people who do the same type of work, but instead, discover new and unique ways of enhancing your own craft.

Bottom line is, whenever I see or hear someone comparing themselves to other people, no matter what it is -- I just get this feeling of a perpetual bitterness that'll probably never go away, unless they catch it on time. When you are trying to compete, whether you make it known or not, other people can 'see' your struggle. It's like watching a runner trying to pass someone on the track. You can see his or her struggle to just keep up with them, no less pass them. I used to be "that runner", struggling and sweating bullets watching people pass me by. And now, I'm running on the side of a beautiful ocean and enjoying the view. I no longer want to be behind someone feeling bitter about their success. I want to look at someone running ahead of me and congratulate them instead, maybe even pick up a little inspiration while I'm behind. That's the only way we can get ahead is learning from others who have paved the way for us.

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, March 24, 2015

The Perfect Relationship: Is There Such a Thing?

There's no rhyme or reason to any relationship. Each union has its own characteristics that make it unique. Dare I even compare them to snowflakes, but I won't. In my honest opinion, I've always felt you should choose your partner very carefully. Choose someone who will make you laugh, make you think, make you FEEL.  Choose someone who you can talk to as if they were your best friend -- because they should be your best friend. Choose someone who doesn't mind the silence in between and the chaos that strikes unexpectedly because one day when you're old and gray and no longer possess any sexual desire whatsoever, you're gonna want someone to back up the goods. Sex should be the bonus of a relationship -- not the main course. If you have both, kudos to you. You want someone that can make you laugh, someone who can hold a conversation and keep your interest. It's not going to be perfect -- no one's is. Every relationship has its storms, it's up to you whether you want to pump the dirty water out of the basement or leave it there with the remnants of that past storm, not forgetting, not forgiving. Clean that shit out. Why is the basement so important anyway? It's the foundation of what keeps your house strong; of what keeps your relationship intact.  Fix it or lose it. Or you can just let the water sit until it rots out the foundation. But atlas, it's only my opinion. If you base your partner by how he or she looks, then hopefully they'll have something else attractive when those looks fade to gray.

My friends have been together for over 20 years. I remember them dating in high school, and now they're married with kids. Till this day, they make each other laugh hysterically. They have been through deaths in the family, money problems, sicknesses, foreclosure, unemployment and even infidelity. Many couples would have gone their separate ways years ago, but these two stuck it out, worked it out and toughed it out. They remind me of what marriage is supposed to be. "Till death to us part" and "in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad." What happened to that? When you let a problem or issue in your relationship or marriage linger, there are times when the two people (or one) falls out of love. Once you fall out of love, is it possible to fall back in love with the same person? I remember when Madelene and I separated for a couple of years. It wasn't that we fell out of love, we were having major issues that were difficult to resolve. They always say, separation can either break or make you. Sometimes couples need a break, and that's okay. It's okay to experience the absence of the person who was always there. Cliché as this may sound, but absence makes the heart grow fonder, right? I always wonder what other couples' "glue" is, that keeps them with their partners. There has to be that common factor that binds them together no matter what they're going through, like some sort of understanding on a much deeper and perhaps, unexplainable level.

The perfect relationship -- is there such a thing? I know mine isn't and I know for a fact that I screw up almost on a daily basis. I either say the wrong things or do the wrong things or I don't do what I'm supposed to do. I admit, I do read articles on relationships and sometimes I sit there staring at the screen like, "What? Are you kidding me?" All these "relationship experts" seem to have it down pat - as if relationships were the easiest things to manage. The divorce rate in the U.S. says a whole other story. I always think, "Wow, their partner must be the luckiest person in the world," -- meanwhile back at the ranch, it's a complete mess. I prefer "experts" to have opinions and not base on their "facts" or "you should do this" type of advice. There are no "facts" in relationships or marriages -- only experiences and the ability to know what you don't want.  I remember back in 2006 when I walked into the local bar to meet my friend. She asked, "Where's your girlfriend?" I said, "We separated." Her eyes popped out, jaw fell on the floor and said, "Noooooo! You two are the perfect couple! You gave me hope that relationships can be perfect!" That only proves that the outer appearances of couples can be quite deceiving. People are private. I was private. I never spilled the beans about my problems at home. But what may look "perfect" to someone may be the total opposite from the person looking in from the outside. I finally realized you can have "perfect" -- only if you're willing to accept all the imperfections of what a relationship or marriage has to offer. Then, in my opinion, that is the perfect relationship.

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, March 18, 2015

Distaste by Association

There's a lot to be said about what kind of energy that goes into whatever it is you do, especially cooking. See, I love to cook, so all my heart and soul goes into whatever I'm making. Another personal touch I do is praying over my food while it cooks. I make sure I have upbeat music going on and I'm usually in a great mood. The only time I order takeout, is if I'm not feeling so hot -- whether physically or emotionally. I truly believe whatever energy you have brewing inside you will also reflect in whatever you are cooking. Again, this can be through a physical ailment or some sort of emotional distress. I'll give both examples: I once got very ill the same day I ate Pizza Hut when I was younger. Still to this day, I cannot even look at Pizza Hut's pies. They make me nauseous. And now, I never eat pizza, period. I just don't like it. On an emotional scale, I remember my partner and I had a huge blowout at home. I believe it was one of our worst arguments. I was making one of my favorite dishes -- chicken liver with sautéed onions. Yesterday, I decided to make it again because I have a slight anemia situation going on and felt very fatigued. Once I sat down to take a bite, I felt nauseous and realized that I had lost my taste for it. But then it hit me: I had a flashback of the last time I ate it.

July of 2012 was a tough month and a touch year altogether. Dad was declining fast from his long battle with cancer and I tried to do my best to cook and care for the family as much as I could. We all took turns sitting in hospice with Dad as he slept through the massive doses of morphine and oxycontin just to keep him "comfortable". God I hate that word now. He was still 'there' but not. It was only a matter of looking at the watch at that point. Two of my sisters decided to sleep over with him on a small pullout love seat in his room. I decided to go home and rest, but found myself in the kitchen preparing dinner for the next day for my exhausted family. I made a huge amount of a homemade meat gravy and lasagna. I had to use one of those large catering pans. It somehow took my mind off things, even if just for a little while. I didn't have to sit in my living room and cry. I just needed to do something...something for my family. The next day I decided to go in after 1pm to sit with Dad. But a bit after noon, I got the call that Dad was gone. I remember feeling so overwhelmed with grief and sadness. I mean, there was a touch of relief he wasn't suffering anymore, but how strange to not have Dad around anymore? My family came back to the house and we all just sat around the table in the late afternoon outside and ate the lasagna and talked about how we all felt. Sometimes it got silent and other times, one of us would breakdown into tears. I kept it in the entire time, choking myself with a huge lump in my throat. I put away my dish and never ate lasagna again.

But is it the same with everything we do? Even for writers, you can pick up their vibe, their genuineness and overall sense of enthusiasm for whatever topic. If I am not 100% honest with whatever I write or perhaps not 100% passionate about the topic, I can definitely see it reflect by the view count statistics and overall response. And isn't that true with relationships? If you're not 100% passionate about who you are with, it'll definitely reflect in some sort of way, even to outsiders. I never want to be less than passionate with anything I do in life. I don't ever want to settle for less -- or settle of mediocrity. I'm not even speaking about materialistic or financial kind of things. I'm speaking in terms of even settling for less money and doing something you love with all your heart. Time spent is worth much more than money spent. Some would say my priorities are up my wazoo, but I say my priorities are spending time with the people I love and doing things in life that I'm absolutely passionate about. The last time I was lacking passion in my life was when I was sitting in my cubical wishing my life away, wishing it was Friday or just wishing I was somewhere else in life. I never want to feel that way again, no matter how much they offer me.

It's all about energy. I find that miserable people are usually from miserable backgrounds or environments. They settle, whether they are rich or poor. Miserable people will surely make you sick with the food they make. That negative energy pours right into their 'gravy' -- trust me. You do not want to eat from someone who is angry or miserable. That goes for unhappy people -- I mean, truly unhappy people, whether unhappy about their marriage or incredibly stressed out by their own children. They say that this sort of thing happens when we eat animals that were not humanely killed. If the animal was distressed or had any sort of anxiety, that we develop that in some roundabout way by consuming the animal. There's a wealth of information about this on Google.

So the next time you're cooking up a storm for family or friends, try praying over it, or just try to be in the best of moods you can muster up and have fun while you're cooking. Even if you're just BBQing a few hot dogs -- it'll be the best hot dogs your guests ever had.

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, March 13, 2015

Dreamcatcher

I haven't smiled in a long time...
It's interesting to see how people envision "beauty" on themselves as well as others. Ever since I have been learning how to love myself, and trying the best to take care of myself without the unrealistic goals of being a size 2 or perhaps getting a little 'work' done -- I have never felt so comfortable in my own skin like I am right now. Call it the confidence of being in your 40's or...something else. Granted, I'm still a work in progress, but work in terms of being a better person or someone who can at least help somebody else. My focus in life isn't about size, looks, taking inventory of materialistic things -- that's all meaningless to me. And with the lack of focus on those particular things -- I have been taking care of 'me' for once, so that I can be of better help to someone who needs me. I've heard, "Wow, you look incredibly happy." and I think to myself, wow -- I do feel happy without having anything really 'significant' happen in my life. Without effort, I have been getting strange compliments, like -- "You're glowing -- what kind of moisturizer are you using," as well as, "You look fantastic. What did you do differently?"

Nothing.

All I did was change my inside.

Learning to let go of things I cannot change.
To the best of my ability, the only thing I attribute these compliments to is the fact that I took some time out to take care of 'me' spiritually. I tried going to talk therapy, which was nice and somewhat helpful, but no amount of therapy is gonna help this kinda 'crazy', so I discontinued it. Every day, I sat myself down and prayed and meditated. I read more than my usual dose of self-help books -- ones that I tend to think are this sort of wishy-washy non-denominational spiritual nonsense. But for once in my life, I opened my mind. I started to accept all teachings from all religions, instead of being so closed off from anything that I've been 'brainwashed' with. Don't get me wrong, I still hold strong to the trinity (Christianity), however it's in a new light and a light that has awakened me in every sense of the word, thanks to a couple of amazing authors. But the one thing I learned the most is to let go of things that I cannot change. I don't pop a fuse if things don't go my way anymore. I don't know what happened, but life has been very different lately.

I'm starting to reevaluate my entire life, beliefs and practices. Most religious teachings of any sector have similar theories and beliefs. They all kind of send the same message, but in different "religions". In my last therapy session, I remember the therapist telling me that she was listening to Joel Osteen. I was shocked because she practices Buddhism. She loved the way he spoke and how he told stories to make his point. His basic message is usually positive and gives you hope to expect everything in life. Some people cringe at his name, but it really does give you a nice boost when you need it. She then said, "I just can't listen to the end part, know what I mean? I immediately close my ears." The end part is accepting Jesus Christ as your savior. She held her ears as if holy water was going to be sprinkled upon her. (Not to say she's the devil!) But I understood what she meant, and in the same breath I thought, "Why not accept help from another 'prophet'?" This is what Jesus is anyway. He's a prophet. What harm would it be? And would Buddha (which is more than a belief system) reprimand her for doing this? Would she be betraying her "GOD" and does she think Buddha is God?

I no longer argue over religion. It's useless. You can't convince someone that an "invisible being" is real. You can't convince somebody that your god is better than theirs. And why? So, I remain confident in my own skin, in my own spirit, being diligent in finding ways to communicate better with "my god" and having the faith knowing that there is something much larger than all of us out there. Christianity and sectors alike believe that you shouldn't ever talk to spirits or entertain psychic mediums and such, yet in some passages of the Bible, it clearly states that God made people into prophets as a gift. Why is the Bible so convoluted with contradictions and discrepancies? The book we were taught to go by has messages that would scare the be-jeebus out of us. I mean, it even says that we should still own slaves. It basically tells the world that they are filthy downright sinners that aren't ever going to see the light of heaven. Written by man, inspired by God...? Whose opinion was that?

At the age of 40, I have a lot of questions.

Ok, 41.

A gift from heaven.
A couple of months ago, I was really suffering with insomnia. And when I did sleep, I would have these awful nightmares that would stick with me throughout the day. It was such a bad feeling all around. I couldn't shake it off. At times, I was even too scared to fall asleep, thinking what type of hideous nightmare would I fall into next.  One morning, I was cleaning out my office desk, throwing away unopened junk mail, files from over 3 years ago and other miscellaneous garbage. Then I saw this envelope addressed to my father. It was unopened. I'm not sure why it was in my office desk, but I sat down and took a look at what it was. Inside, was a certificate of appreciation to my dad, thanking him for his generous contribution to a Native American tribal school. Inside the package, they included a beautiful dreamcatcher with chimes and feathers on it.

"Dream catchers are often used to keep children from having nightmares and are intended to gradually dry out and fall apart as the child gets older. The belief is that the air is filled with dreams. These dreams are full of meaning and may be either good or bad. There are different versions of the dream catcher legend and how it works. Some say that good dreams pass through the hole in the center of the web while bad dreams are caught in the web. The good dreams will flow down the feathers to the person while the bad dreams dissolve in the day light. Another version says that only good dreams can filter through the net. Yet another says that good dreams are caught in the web while bad dreams flow away thorough the hole in the center. The dream catcher reminds us how important the dream world has been to people throughout time. Dreams have provided medicine men, shamans and prophets a portal to another realm. Even though today most of us tend to focus on the physiology of the dream state, we can still appreciate the power of our nightly visits to that other world."
Strange how I found this almost 3 years after Dad's passing. I sometimes see Dad in my dreams and we have only a few seconds to run up to one another and hug before our time runs out and I wake up, sometimes in a puddle of my own tears. I truly and honestly believe with all my heart, that my father was seeing how much I was struggling with my sleeping problems and then gave me this at the perfect time. I have this hanging up on my headboard. Every single night, I've been sleeping at least 6-8 hours. That's a huge feat from nothing at all, to 2-4 hours per night. Sometimes I would stay awake for 5 straight nights in a row. So, thank you Dad for sending me this 'heavenly' gift. I don't mean to sound all 'weird' -- but I don't think that this was a coincidence.

I am so grateful for Anita Moorjani, the author of Dying To Be Me. Even while she is traveling with a million and one things on her plate, she takes the time out to write to me and help me with my struggles. (So, thank you Anita!) She's a cancer survivor who had a near-death experience. It changed her entire life. It taught her that nothing in this world should be feared -- ever. And as I keep reading her book as well as listen to all of her many seminars on Youtube, I just keep reminding myself that this fear and anxiety of mine are all irrational. There is no use for it and it's been debilitating my life to the point of fearing life itself. Just by her helping me, she's showing me how to appreciate every single good thing in my life and how to make the best out of not so good circumstances. There are ways to deal with negative things in a positive way. The best part is -- I don't have to give up my faith in Jesus or feel bad about listening to another religion's theory and beliefs. I don't have to be limited any longer. I can only just open myself up to gain a better self-awareness -- a better perspective on life, death and how death is never final. It can't be. I just look up at my dreamcatcher and thank God for letting Dad send me something I needed so badly. And even if it was God sending me this dreamcatcher -- He sent it to me through my dad's name -- whether to feel a sense of comfort or to know that life as we know it never ends.

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, March 10, 2015

If You Had a Time Machine, What Decade Would You Travel to?

My mama & my Rachel who followed me everywhere.
Last Sunday morning, while talking to Madelene, I said, "Just for one day, I would love to go back to the '70's as an adult." The 'lesser' things were much more appreciated -- like the smell of the air after it rains, a long distance telephone call from your grandmother, the ability to function everyday normal life without a cell phone attached to us 24/7 and the way food used to be: clean, fresh, healthy. I want to take a drive in a 1975 station wagon over to the local butcher for our dinner and over to the mom & pop hardware store that closed down once Home Depot landed. Looking up information about something meant sifting through that huge 10 lb phone book and calling the business to inquire about whatever. There were "live" people there to answer your phone calls too. Dogs ran loose without any fear of anyone getting hurt. Friends and family genuinely remembered your birthday, instead of some high tech social networking program that reminded everyone. Families gathered around their newly colored television sets to watch their programs together.

Together.

We feel this sense of "togetherness" since we kinda know what's going on with our loved ones through social media. But if you're like me, I don't put half of the bullshit I endure on Facebook or Twitter. Granted -- I make my opinions known or perhaps the occasional whereabouts I'm frequenting, but nothing super personal. I had someone say, "Oh wow, I didn't even know you were in the hospital," while looking confused that it wasn't on Facebook. No. I no longer blab about my hospital stays and my health issues any longer. If you honestly want to know about what's going on, use the ol' tele. Sometimes I'll randomly text one of my buddies and say, "How are you despite Facebook?" And she'll laugh and not surprisingly, will tell me a lot of things I was unaware of happening in her life.

It's not that I want to go back in time, more than it is about wanting to reconnect on a genuine level with my friends, family and acquaintances. Life goes by so quickly, and in a blink of an eye, you can miss 10, 20, perhaps even 30 years and then end up saying, "Wow, we should have gotten together more often..." I get it. Life happens and everyone has their own 'thang', but wouldn't it so much better to go through life with the ones you love and cherish -- even if you haven't seen them in 'somewhat' years? I've learned that life isn't guaranteed healthy days, or days at all. Life can throw a lot of unexpected curveballs at you. "Busyness" has become the number one divider in many friends and family, and it's sad that we can't share in all of it...together. Maybe I'm being unrealistic, but you gotta admit, there are some people in your life that you miss and they're so incredibly close by to begin with. Call them. Invite them over. Connect again.

Bring the 70's back again. Put the cell phones away and talk to --- each other ----! Don't worry about what you're going to miss on Facebook. Worry about what you're going to miss while sifting through Facebook as life passes you by. And now, I must post this onto Facebook. And so, the vicious cycle never ends.

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 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!