Friday, August 31, 2012

We're Never Gonna Survive, Unless We Get a Little Crazy

This morning I woke up with the news of a former employee of a New Jersey Pathmark killing three people before killing himself. He was a former marine prepared with an AK-47 and an automatic handgun. How many more shootings do we have to go through in order to officially say that this world has gone mad? This incident can take place anywhere, at any time, at any given moment. I always had a preparation plan in case an ex employee or crazy customer came barging into our office. I would turn off my overhead lights of my cubical, jump down, pull the chair in and hide under the desk...that is, if he or she didn't find me first. It's happening all over: in schools, in offices, in supermarkets, in malls and even recently in NYC at the Empire State Building. The man who started shooting in NYC looked like your average everyday office employee with a suit and briefcase doing his daily routine. You. don't. know. You can't pinpoint who's gonna lose it or not - it can be anyone. And if you think you don't know anyone who is indeed "crazy" -- look deep inside yourself. What would you do in desperate situations where your survival mode was your only hope? You lost your job, your husband, wife and family and now have to face solitude....alone. Who the f*** cares anymore? More than half of the people's mindsets would most likely kill the offenders and themselves, because well, they have nothing else to live for. That was their life. Now it's gone. Poof. If you're not one of them, you're in the minority sadly these days.

What does it officially mean to "be crazy"? Do we need a certified document from the doctor to give you this label? What if the crazed person never saw a doctor? What if "crazy" was brewing within the most "normal" person you've ever known? It happens. Crazy can build up and build up until the least expected lets loose like a cannon. I can give you a trillion instances, but you can just Google that on your own. What about "crazy exes"?  I admit, I've actually been one of them myself. Especially with obsessive thought patterns, egos torn, hearts broken -- you do things you normally wouldn't do, even if it isn't harmful. It's still seen as a little 'crazy' though. We've all had our little crazy moments, whether around people or alone. I've been suicidal too many times to count. I've had incompetent psychotherapists where at one time, I had lost a very good job, my long time girlfriend and felt I had no reason to live. My therapist was being condescending and making me angry with her asinine assumptions. So, I stood up from the couch and said, "You know what --- I'm going to walk out of here and slam my car into a stone wall and end it for good."  She stared at me thinking she knew me well enough that I wouldn't. I was bluffing, but there was a definite plan to drink myself into a coma at the local bar. "Very well then," she said, nodding her head, as she crossed her arms, letting me walk out the door. She never called the 'mental health cops' after me nor even checked up on how I was feeling - just a call the next morning to ask when our next appointment would be. She knew I would answer.

What else is crazy? Do you think "crazy" is killing in order to protect someone you love? I know without a doubt in my mind, that if someone broke into my home to harm us, my gun would be aimed for their heart -- or head. No leg wound. That's petty. You come in - you're going down.  I wouldn't give a rat's ass if I went in for man slaughter. As long as my loved ones are safe, I'm happy. End of story. Some would think that type of survival mode is "crazy" --- but is it? Am I alone in thinking like this? In fact, I'll take it a bit further since it is the first full blue moon in quite a long time. I think every single person should have a gun equipped on them at all times. Think about how much less shootings there would be since the 'crazy' guy knows everyone else is armed? I firmly believe the right to bear arms and think every home should be protected by someone who knows how to shoot a gun and knows how to keep that gun in a very safe place so nobody living there gets harmed. If you don't think it's important to save your family in that way, then I personally think you're crazy. The police sometimes take a very long time for your rescue. You think ADT is going to be your savior?  Think again. Get a gun. Learn to shoot. Save your family. That's my two cents.

Or is that just cwazy tawk'...  What do you think?

Watch this video - great twist at the end if you can figure it out... How many of you can relate to this just a bit if this happened to you. It's one of those types of videos you have to watch carefully.
 
If you cannot view this video above from another mirrored site, please click here.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The New Antisocial World

This morning I woke up, rolled out of bed and made my way to grab a cup of coffee. Mad wakes up before I do, so while she is in the shower, I'll make her breakfast. We have a little routine. Afterwards, we sit, watch the news together and talk about whatever is happening or even look at stuff on the computer --together. This morning I found a little note left on the coffee maker just to let me know I was her 'everything'. Although she may have wanted a lumberjack type of breakfast, it was something my heart really needed today. We never run out of things to talk about - we're like two hens yappin' & yappin' about this-n-that. One morning, while vacationing in Provincetown, we went to the dining area of the bed & breakfast we were staying at. It was Women's Week, and needless to say the entire greenhouse-like dining room was filled with coupled up women. It was strange though, we were the only couple chitchatting and laughing. We looked around and wondered why everyone was so quiet. One couple had their breakfast in front of them, as they read the Wall Street Journal simultaneously. Most couples were on their laptops and smart phones having their breakfast as well. Not. one. peep. out of any of them. Our laughter and gossip about the night before must have disturbed the library-like atmosphere, but then one girl rose up from her table and said to her partner, "See? That's what I want! Why can't we talk like that?" She then looked at us and said, "You girls are great, I love the enthusiasm you two have. How long have you been together?"  When we said over 15 years, she dropped her jaw and thought we had just met recently. I'll never forget that morning.

Why aren't people talking anymore? Why aren't couples talking anymore? You can walk into a crowded restaurant and look at the party of five at the corner table and they'll all be texting, or at least half of them will be. Even with friendships - put the phone away. Okay, so you have an important job that requires you to have your phone most of the day. But when you're in a social setting, like dining out with family and friends, and you're texting 50% of the time, do you really think you're "good company"? Why are you "here" and not "there" where the person you're texting with is?  I don't understand why our phones hold more importance over the 'here & now'. It takes priority over the person you are spending time with. It's basically saying, "I'd much rather be with the person I'm texting with, than with you right now."  I understand taking photos and posting it up on whatever social networking you're using, but as far as constantly yappin' on your phone while you're with other people, it's annoying. Nobody wants to hear your conversation and nobody wants to be around you if you're going to be "absent" during a visit. That's basically what you're doing. You're not 'here' --- you're in a land of electronics communicating with people you'd rather be with -- plain and simple. When Madelene and I go out, (or anyone I'm with) the phone is in my pocket. If I need to, I'll snap a photo or two, send it to Twitter or Facebook --- or if someone is planning to meet us, a text or two will be sent to confirm. That's it. We've become antisocial in social settings due to social networking. I'd rather a nice little message on a post it rather than a text any given day. I miss getting a real handwritten letter rather than an email. But, that's the way of life now...sadly.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Doctor's Guesstimations

How do you control stress? How is it that some people handle it better than others? Some people lose weight, some gain. Some lose their minds, while others get stronger and much more courageous for the next set of chaotic events to come. I guess it depends on "you". I do everything in my power to relieve myself of all stressors and anxiety, like praying, meditating, enjoying my hobbies like playing guitar or writing music. Still, I'm grasping for straws and desperate for relief. I even started going to a place that provides Reiki and polarity treatments. Still, I'm grasping for anything to relieve me. Sadly, at this time, the only thing to relieve me of my pain, sadness and anxiety is alcohol. Suggestions to exercise would be wise, but it makes my heart race and subliminally tells my noggin, "Hey! You're having an anxiety attack - look at your heart rate!" And although I know the heart rate is normal - I still think, "abnormal".

Abnormal. The word sucks when you hear a doctor in the ER tell you that your EKG came out abnormal. "Well, what does that mean?" I asked, thinking I would get a clear cut answer the Monday evening. I woke up with intense chest, jaw and arm pain. I felt nauseous, got sick and then told Mad, "I gotta go to the hospital." So while getting the EKG report, the doctor said, "Well, it seems to be abnormal, which may indicate previous heart attacks, but I'm not quite sure. It may mean that you have angina...not sure about that either. Or, it could be that you need a coronary procedure where we go through the groin in cause there is clogging of the arteries....but eh, still not sure."  After numerous blood tests, it showed my blood to be 'perfect', blood pressure 102/70 which is great, and cholesterol a little under 200. I dropped 20 points from last year which is significant. He said that stress can manifest in many ways, even mimicking a heart attack, but then again, he wasn't sure. He spoke in doctor jargon which pisses me the hell off. I kept looking at Madelene in front of him asking, "What does he mean, I don't speak that language?" She is knowledgeable in that area having worked in the pharmaceutical field for many years.

Here are my thoughts. Shut the eff up with your EKG reports because they mean absolutely nothing. I don't care if you're a doctor reading this and disagreeing, but EKGs are no longer a reliable source of valid health information. They have given out so many false positives that it's just insane. And to tell a patient who comes in for a possible heart attack that the report shows they have had a few in the past was enough to almost give me one right there. My brother in law said the other day, "The medical field isn't about science, it's about 'guesstimations.'"  And as I disagreed with him because there are many scientific things about the medical field, he proved his point when this ER doctor didn't know what was wrong with me. I understand he can't go inside my heart and see what's brewing, but don't tell me "you think" --- go by the blood work and tell me, "It wasn't a heart attack tonight."  That's all. Don't scare me into another chest pain episode. To scare someone even more so while they're thinking they had a massive heart attack lacks empathy on the doctor's part in my opinion.

To beat the dead horse a bit further, I cannot tolerate doctors who 'think' they know everything about health, go on these asinine diets like the Atkins or Paleo diet or that Medifast diet that tastes like cardboard just to make a few extra bucks on the side. On Facebook, I had written about how the staff gave me a huge serving of scrambled eggs in the morning --- to a heart patient. I was puzzled and way too scared to touch it. Must have been 400 mg of cholesterol in one bite. When I stayed at a well known hospital six months ago for the same thing, the only thing I was allowed to eat was egg whites or cereal for breakfast. I was on a 'heart' diet and even if I requested eggs, they would deny me. So in the comment section on my Facebook status, a doctor wrote something along the lines about "eat the eggs" because he's big into the Paleo diet. He once told me that I could eat a pound of bacon and a three egg omelette every single day and have my cholesterol go down. I would love nothing better to enjoy that, however I don't believe in that particular diet.

Here's the thing: there are people who can go on it and succeed, but there are many people who would fail because they still incorporate pastas and whole grains into their regimen. Just as you've heard before, eggs are the perfect food. ...For who? It's perfect if you're young, heart-healthy and active with a low cholesterol reading. Perfect indeed. But for someone who has a higher cholesterol reading and blood pressure, in my ~unprofessional~ advice, don't do it, or do it in moderation. For me, I can't eat bacon and eggs every single morning because, well,  I'm Italian -- I love my pasta in moderation, which would make the entire Paleo diet fail for me and possibly leave me sitting in some hospital bed with a holter monitor wrapped around every part of me.  The only diet that every worked for me, (when I go on it) is cutting everything I eat in half and exercising. Weight Watcher's helped me a lot, but all the points and calorie counting drove me insane. So I'm trying to cut everything in half, yet eat all the things I truly love.

I have a family doctor who I truly rely on. He gives it to me straight up and doesn't sugarcoat anything. He is always right in my experience. He's never unsure about anything, which is something I look for when I look for medical attention. The problem is, there are too many incompetent doctors that love to give you the scare tactic or try to make money off selling you some new product that'll just leave you sick in the long run. I once went into a doctor's office, told him that I found a lump under my arm and he said, "Yeah that looks like cancer." You CANNOT tell a patient sitting in front of you that they have a disease that you didn't even check for. My "lump" was because I'm double jointed and the bone was (and still is) very pronounced. But, that night when I went home to wait a week for my test results, I was so panic-stricken that I could hardly do or go anywhere. When the phone rang, I jumped up and flew to answer it, hoping it would be good news. I cried every single night to wait for that possible dreaded call.  Another doctor and surgeon suggested I get my gallbladder removed just to do a process of elimination to get rid of my heartburn.

I still stand by what I said in a previous post, "If you tell me I shouldn't be doing what my doctor (with years of schooling on his chosen profession) suggested, your words will fall upon deaf ears."  Don't tell me to eat a pound of bacon when my doctor told me to limit my cholesterol intake. Don't tell me to eat nuts and strawberries to boost up my allergies while my doctor tested that I'm slightly allergic to these foods. While I appreciate the advice, but it overrides logical medical treatment. I know people mean well, but if you already know I disagree with a certain method, or I have gotten professional medical advice that I agree with (even if that person is a doctor), it will fall upon deaf ears. Not everyone is a 'fit' for a particular lifestyle change. Not everyone can keep a certain diet regiment because it goes against their entire way of living. I really believe the person has to truly want to go on a special diet or different lifestyle. Just like smoking --- the person has to want to do it, not be told to do it.

So now I'm left with reports of a shady looking EKG report and a clean bill of health from my blood work to which I have to follow up with my doctor this week. I've been through the stress tests, the echocardiograms and a ton of other monitoring rituals they have. I just don't have a coping mechanism that's perfect enough for me to stay calm, or at least deal with stress better. What do you do when you start getting chest pains and all the "silent" symptoms of a heart attack?  It could be nothing, or it could be the last few minutes of your life. I just wish medical "science" was a bit more scientific rather than being a huge guesstimation.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Letting Go

This morning after breakfast I was cleaning like a maniac. Today's supposed to be Madelene's day off, but she had to go into work to finish up a few things. As I was wiping down every single appliance and counter in the kitchen, I then went to clean the fridge. A photo of Dad and I was still hanging up, along with my grandmother who had passed away some time ago. A few were of my wife and I, and some family members, but for whatever reason, I had to take them all down. I didn't do it because I want them out of my life - I did it so I can be reminded less in order for my heart not to break each time I reach into the freezer to grab the vodka. That's a whole other story. Within time, that photo will be back up. I just need that kitchen to be 'free' of reminders right now. I had grandma up to inspire me with her cooking, and wow, major dinners came floating out of that cucina. But right now, it hurts.

I still have a few things that are unsettling, some not. I have the ring that I bought him because he was upset he lost his. It was to make him feel better somehow. In turn, years later, he bought me a ring because the ring he gave me years ago was unfortunately stolen. It was my favorite ring. I keep them both together. Another instance, and for some reason, I still have the paper shopping bag with handles that once carried the wooden box of Dad's ashes. I left it on my nightstand and never touched it again. I remember waiting in the car for Madelene outside of the funeral home after the service was done. She walked out holding a shopping bag. I thought it must have been a gift from someone. She sat down in the car and started to sob as she looked at the bag. "I have Dad."  I just looked at her like she was crazy. "What are you talking about?" She lifted the bag up and said, "Dad's coming home with us." Then it hit me, and whether or not I was blocking a major emotional outburst or not, my self-defense mechanism kicked in and I blurted out, "Well now he can't complain about my driving."  We both smiled and let out a small chuckle, but the weight of my sadness started to give me a stomach ache.

That's how Dad and my relationship was: laughter & joking around. We never drifted over into a serious discussion all that much. We were buddies - more like the two class clowns of the family. I'm very much like him in many ways. The last time I saw Dad crack a smile and let out a small laugh was three days before he passed. He was dying and we were waiting for hospice to pick him up. The entire family was gathered around him trying to comfort him every way possible. He then requested everyone to kiss him goodbye. Moments before, after hours of being with him, I had to take a small break into the other room just to breathe. I heard my name being called out. "Deb! Deb! Get in here now! Dad wants a kiss goodbye." My heart went right into my throat and I thought I was going to lose it. How can I say goodbye to someone I have known, loved and lived with for so many years? In my head I kept saying, "But I don't wanna!!! It's not his time yet!" But I had to. I walked into the dimly lit room where everyone was gathered around him. Instantly, my knee jerk reaction was to let out a joke as he side-eyed me. "This is gonna cost you - you know that, right?"  He cracked a smile and laughed, without a sound because his voice wasn't too audible. Through all of his pain, I got him to laugh. I kissed him on the forehead and said "I love you," for the very last time. Before leaving his side, I said, "Don't think I'm not gonna pickpocket you." And another chuckle plus a smile came out of him. I had to leave the room because whatever smile I had left quickly turned into sobbing tears.

Every daughter (my sisters) had a different relationship with him. Some were much more closer in terms of the father/daughter intimacy level, where it wasn't uncomfortable for them to hug & kiss him or even hold his hand.  For me, my relationship with my dad was more on the lines of being best buds with him, busting his chops and making him laugh, and vise/versa. I'm okay with that. The last year of his life we became closer as we knew what was going on. He said "I love you" all the time to all of us, even held my hand while talking to me. I remember once, I was crying over something ridiculous, and he ran over to me and gave me the biggest hug ever. He kept saying, "Please don't cry my baby, please! I hate to see you sad." I'll never forget that. It made me forget what I was crying about. All I kept thinking was, "Dad's hugging me???"  It's one of my best memories, even if that day was a miserable one.  He put away his 'tough guy' suit and was brave enough to break that 'strange' barrier we had between us. Memories like that make it so hard to let him go. Some articles I have read say that it's best to try to let your loved ones go, but for me, I feel like it's a way to try and toss them out of your life. It's logical, but it seems so cold. I don't know which is best. So right now, the photos are being put away, the bag that carried my best buddy is tucked away under somewhere safe, and his ring will be put away until I'm ready.  I'm also limiting the photos of him on this blog. But it doesn't mean I'm letting go completely.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Head & Heart

On the news, I heard the anchorman say that people live longer if they have ten or more friends. I'm assuming it had to do with more social interacting to lead healthier lifestyles. I wonder if they even mentioned a word about some of those ten friends being the toxic types of people we tend to avoid. "They" also used to say that if you can count your friends on one hand, then you were indeed, very lucky - and that it was better to have three good friends than a bunch of acquaintances or friends that were, umm, toxic. So, I guess they never really grasped on what kind of friends we should have, but I'm guessing overall, it's our socializing that makes us more complete - more opportunities - more networking.  And then we have social media where, wow, we have over 5,000 "friends". So, what does "friend" mean to the newscaster reporting this? And what does "friend" mean to you reading this right now? For me, if a friend can make me laugh, keep 'light' of things and stay within a certain hedge of boundaries, I'm in. I'm not putting stipulations and rules on a friendship, but when someone tries to complicate my life, rather than compliment it, I'm outa' there. Life's too short to deal with complicated drama-filled friends.

I know a zillion people. I'm friends with maybe seven or eight of them. Possibly nine, but not enough to assure the anchorman that my lifestyle is "healthy".  I also consider my family as my friends. My three sisters are my best friends. I also include my in-laws to be my friends. So does that make me acquire more than the necessary amount for the majority of healthy people? And of course, my little Chihuahua is my absolute best friend and psychotherapist. Do dogs count?  I also have seasonal friends - where I only see them when I travel. And that's fine because we have so much to catch up on and we always pick up where we left off. It's great. I have 'friends' in my line of work where we share ideas and brainstorm new ways to make our work better. There are so many varieties of friendships that I'm not quite sure if any of us have that BFF we had back when we were in high school. I know for myself, I don't let anyone get that close enough to become my "BFF", except for my wife of course.

Weeks before and a couple of weeks after my father's death, I distanced myself from everyone except for my family. I wanted to focus on them, help them, cook for them, do anything I can. It helped to ease the pain of the shock of Dad's absence. And now, one month later, I'm finding the delayed mourning period where I wake up at night because I heard Dad scream out, "Heyyyyyy!" I always grab Madelene's arm and she always asks me, "You heard him again, huh?" It always happens around 2:30 am, the same time he used to wake up to have his coffee. And of course, it may just be my subconscious and internal clock playing tricks on me - but at that very moment, it's very real. It's traumatizing actually. I'm not ready for that sort of thing. I need time to adjust first. So these nightmares (sorry Dad) - they're driving me nuts because after his "Heyyyyy" -- I'm up crying for another good hour. My anxiety attacks have worsened and my sleeping patterns are all screwed up. My lack of socializing lately stems from not being able to be 'good company' right now, especially for my mom. Last night my mother and sister asked me to have dinner with them. I happily agreed, but then felt a rush of sadness, and said, "No, maybe tomorrow. I'm not feeling well." I wanted to so badly, but emotionally I couldn't. I even canceled a party I was planning in September. I just don't feel ready to 'party', although I know it's something that may be healthy for me to do. But I can't.

I hope my friends don't think I'm pushing them away. I just don't have it in me right now to be good company. I'm tired and drained and my laughter has simmered down to just a smirk, but I'll be better soon, I think.... And odd as this sounds, I feel most alone when I'm surrounded by many people. And when I'm alone, I feel content and more grounded. Maybe I'll end up being some hermit on top of that big ol' hill up in the woods. Or maybe I'll crawl out on my own terms, which to me is perfectly fine to take time for myself to recover from this past year. Some may feel, "Well I'm going through the same thing too and I'm fine" -- but this is 'me' and being 'me' isn't the same as being you. People handle things differently. I know some of my friends and family are concerned that I'm not socializing as much or 'partying' as much as I should. To me, it would only shuffle me into a lost crowd full of people who really don't know me well enough to realize I 'want out'...just for now, and also, that I'll be back again, just in time to 'be me'; to be the social butterfly they once knew. So for now, I'm going to bow out gracefully, decline a few invites and take care of me for the time being, in hopes that I'm welcomed back when my head and heart are back together.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

"Be Okay"

Every morning my mom will call me and let me know what's on her agenda or if she needs me to take her somewhere. Our conversation then went into cooking of course. She said, "I want to make sausage and peppers, but..."  And I knew what that "but" was. Dad used to chop all her vegetables because her arthritis leaves her in pain even after slicing one pepper. "Mom, lemme chop the veggies and we can cook stuff together." She was very happy and reminded me how Dad used to do all of the prep work for her and I then heard her voice lower almost into a whisper. She has a hard time in supermarkets because although she hates any sort of fruits, she bought them for Dad. He loved every type of fruit out there. As she walked into the produce aisle, she felt herself starting to lose it. She then went over to buy tilapia, the kind my Dad loves. She lost it. It's extremely difficult to shop for her - it's an emotional torture event that she's trying to overcome and "be okay" with.

As our morning conversation went on, she knew what I was doing: sitting out on my deck getting some sun (and praying)...and yes, crying a bit. I do this before I start my day. Pray, meditate, relax and just 'be'. I was telling my mom about the night I had. I was up awake trying to deal with my intense anxiety attacks that left me nauseous in the bathroom half the night. She then told me she was up all night herself. I suggested she call me to come down if she is ever up and can't go to sleep. "I'll come down and watch a movie with you and we'll tire ourselves out." But she said she didn't want to 'bother' me. Not a bother. Before my mom got off the phone with me, she said, "Be okay....ok?" I just gave her a "Yeah ma... I'm okay. You be okay too, ok?"  A little giggle followed after and we both kind of felt better afterwards. We knew what we were talking about.

I had written a post a while back called, "Don't Cry". It dealt with my mom always begging me to not cry if something would happen - anything.  An excerpt from that post reads: "During my childhood years way into adulthood, I heard my mom say many of times, 'Oh don’t cry mama - don’t cry, please!' She wasn’t saying that crying was bad for me, but she just wanted me to be this happy-go-lucky type of person that wore a smile on my face 24/7. I was never taught that crying was a healthy outlet for me. I didn’t know how to deal with certain things in life. When my first boyfriend had broken it off with me, I didn’t know what to do other than sit inside my room and secretly sob, where nobody could hear me. It would upset my mom if she saw me crying. I remember when I found years ago that a girl that I had been seeing was dating other people besides myself and dealing drugs on the side as well. I had to end it. The pain I felt was so intense. I cried so hard that evening - it must have been 2am and my mom heard me. She walked inside my room and asked, 'Whassamadda?' To her, someone must have died, but it was only my heart. She didn’t say one word other than bring me out to the living room and made me hot tea with honey. She just sat there and said absolutely nothing. She just watched me sob and drink my tea. That was all I really needed from her at the time. She then went into the kitchen and sliced a potato. She placed two round little potato slices on each of my eyelids. It took the swelling away. My eyes had become little slits from crying so much. The salt blew my lids up like balloons. I’ll never forget that night." ----You can read more here

Whether she thought crying was a sign of weakness, or she was taught that sort of mindset, I truly believe that crying is a good outlet so it doesn't manifest itself into other health problems. At times, with certain people in our lives, it's hard to not show our sadness. They can just tell. Part of me feels guilty for being sad - like 'who am I to be upset over this since Mom's been with Dad for over 50 years' type of thing. As I try to dive into work and create more work for myself, I'm still left with me at the end of the day. And then that's when my anxiety attacks begin, right when I'm about to settle down for the evening. For the first time in my life, I asked my doctor if I could take an anti-anxiety pill - (antidepressant) which I'm highly against, because it's debilitating me to the point of madness. I was informed that due to the Prilosec that I need to heal my ulcer, I can't be on any anti-anxiety meds at all or I can risk a heart attack. The interaction between Prilosec and a medication like Celexa can be fatal. So, yeah -- there's my dilemma. But through my faith, I know that if God brought me to it, He'll get me through it and if all else fails, just "be me", which is the same as "being okay" in my eyes. 

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Mourning Time

Within the past several years, I'm beginning to find out how common cancer is ever since Dad was diagnosed. Either I'm more aware, or there are much more people coming out of the woodwork (and doctor's offices) with bad news. I started to learn how close cancer is --- to every single person on this earth. It's like the most common disease, yet they still have no cure. AIDS is maintained and you can actually live a life being HIV+. With cancer, you have to bide your time even if you're in remission and wait that full month of a doctor's visit to find out if you're back in the big C game. It doesn't seem fair. My father had symptoms of his disease for years before he finally decided he was going to bite the bullet and see a doctor. He was that 'old school' type --"Ah the hell with dese' doctors. What do they know?? They look for shit." He instilled this sort of mindset into my mother's thinking. We all know mom has emphysema, but she won't get checked for it, and yet she still continues to smoke. I'm very worried about her. I realize that smoking is extremely difficult to let go of, but after seeing all that Dad went through, wouldn't that be enough to put the cancer stick out?

The grieving process is strange for me because in the beginning, it was more 'shock', or perhaps numbness to it all. We expected this for a few years, but it still hit us like a ton of bricks when Dad passed away. And why wouldn't it? He was a prominent figure in our family. My problem is, I have that 'distance distortion' --- where I'm only thinking about the active father who was always working, always positive and making people laugh - not the sick father I had who periodically would threaten to kill himself because he was in agony, or the dad that begged us to hold his hand because the pain was just too much. Those memories for me right now, are just overwhelming. So I drift over to the dad I once knew more than 4 years ago, and somehow, it makes it worse. My memories are distorted each time I "forget" about the bad times, and only focus on the good times - but in a way - isn't that a bad thing? I keep reminding myself how much he was suffering so I can pull myself together and realize what a relief it must be for him to be resting in peace with God. My human nature always pulls me back a few years though. It's not fair.

One of my nieces had a different reaction to Dad's passing. She didn't know what to make of it and when she found out he was gone. She took it in, didn't cry and went about her way. While sitting next to her during Dad's service, I thought she was looking for something in her purse as she had her back slightly turned away from me. Madelene poked me and said, "Your niece is crying." When she turned around, her eyes were like little water faucets letting out every bit of sadness she's been holding in for so long. She hugged us and then sat on Madelene's lap to cry some more. It just hit her hard, or she felt she was able to let it all out...finally. The service made it 'real' --- without the service, it would have probably been still a mystery to her. My heart instantly broke again because being a child and having that awful experience of losing your poppy is just so traumatic. I don't think she'll ever forget that day. It's one that'll stick in her mind forever.

As for me, I have my moments and I also try to keep it together for my mom. At night I've been getting horrible anxiety attacks that leave me up for hours. I'm afraid to go to sleep, because once I do, I wake up with my heart pounding and my clothes drenched from night sweats - and no it's not from menopause. My poor dog must think I'm crazy. She just stares at me like, "Go back to sleep! You woke me up!"  While speaking to my therapist, he said, "Are you allowing yourself to cry?"  I thought about it for a moment, and realized I have been trying to keep it in for the sake of my mom, and for the sake of Madelene because she had lost her father not too long ago. I don't want to be her 'trigger'. I sometimes cry alone, but usually when I'm alone, I'm working - which isn't the brightest thing to do. So because I haven't really mourned 'enough', it's manifesting into nocturnal panic attacks. Usually, after a night of attacks, I'm a zombie the next day with no energy left to do anything.

My only solution was to tell the world "Eff off, I'm taking care of 'me' now", and I wish that my family would do the same, because as far as I can only guess, they're probably not mourning enough just like me. At night, I put on a Reiki channel (traditional Japanese music with other meditative sounds) and it makes me fall into a deep sleep. Before work in the morning, I grab my coffee and sit out in the sun with my dog for about twenty minutes. Not only does it give me my vitamin D for those 'happy endorphins', but I get to sit outside every morning to pray and meditate. There's something different about the element of praying outside. After a 20 minute session (and a light tan), I feel ready to take on the day. After a good cry in the shower, I'm off to help others, because I helped myself. Madelene and I booked a one week vacation to the Cape for next month, which will get me out of my element and hopefully distract me a tad. But I don't want to be 'too distracted' and bottle things up. I just want to do this for a different change of scenery and to see my old friends again. It's much needed. I truly believe everyone has their own internal 'mourning clock', some longer than others. That's okay, as long as you have happy moments to outweigh the sad ones. I pray that all of my family's hearts heal, maybe not so fast, but in the timeframe to which they allow.

A scripture that helps me know that Dad's happy once again is this one:

"We know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down--when we die and leave these bodies--we will have a home in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long for the day when we will put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will not be spirits without bodies, but we will put on new heavenly bodies. Our dying bodies make us groan and sigh, but it's not that we're fully confident, and we would rather be away from these bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord." {2 Corinthians 5:1-8}

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Pet Peeves & Pesky Pals

From the desk of Debra Pasquella:
"Do I really want to write this?"
There are a few things about me that some people find out the hard way. First, I don't like to be bombarded with 'forced in the corner' Q&A's or arrogant assumptions. I'm very easy to get along with, but if you push my buttons, you'll probably never see me again, or if you are somehow 'stuck' in my life for whatever reason -- I won't be around much. I'm not the type that tolerates an aggressive personality. If you talk over me, I'll stop what I'm saying and it'll remain within me. Continue on.. At that point, our conversation is over. I'm not fond of 'know it all' people. If you tell me I shouldn't be doing what my doctor (with years of schooling on his chosen profession) suggested, your words will fall upon deaf ears. If you snap at me, I'll leave. No argument guaranteed. If you feel I'm spending my time and money on something frivolous, like a much needed vacation, then maybe you should evaluate your own life and see what's missing. I'm not one to coddle hidden resentments due coveting my lifestyle. You made your bed and I made mine. Our lives are different and there is nothing wrong with taking care of your soul first, before trying to take care of everybody else. If people don't take care of themselves first, or at all, they become a walking time bomb.

If you gossip (bad mouth) about someone - anyone - a friend or even someone I don't know, I probably won't trust you with my own personal information. At that point, the friendship dwindles. If you give me 'read between the lines' bullshit through posting a quote or trying to say something that's related to what you're really trying to tell me -- you're probably not going to see me around your neck of the woods any longer. If you're passive aggressive with no balls to tell me what's bothering you, yet you make your spouse tell me -- I'm probably going to be absent to a lot of your functions or invites. If you tally up how many times I've gone to your place and how many times you've come to mine and then make a fuss because my home had the most tallies, I probably won't keep up with your scoreboard and will soon enough, quit the game. Visiting friends and family should not be scored or counted, the time spent together - wherever it is, should be appreciated and welcomed. Why is everything gotta be a huge fiasco? Why can't we just enjoy life and not tally up how many visits one did or didn't make?  It's silly. Life's too short for that bullshit.

If I have contributed to your cause or foundation for whatever it may be and the recipient keeps begging for more funds, I'm out, especially when there's a huge lack of appreciation. I'm not saying I want a prize for contributing, but to continually beg a friend for more money is a bit ridiculous. I get you - I see your foundation and when I have more money, maybe I'll pitch in from time to time. Don't beg. It's petty. People should be able to see what the foundation is - be presented with it - and let them make their own contributions at any given time they can. We all need money, some causes are more important than others in my opinion, so if it's not for reasons of helping patients with cancer or other types of illnesses, DO NOT put your foundation above something that can save lives. I will lose complete respect for you. I understand starving artists have it hard and yeah - it would be super cool to get a few thousand dollars to start up a new career, but when it comes to friends, it's a bit hard to swallow at times when it's shoved down your throat.

I consider myself to be a very generous person, but the untactful attempts of drilling a hole in my wallet is enough to drive me insane. Even all the complaints above I have given here are reasons why I avoid certain people. And it's sad, because sometimes these people are cosmically stuck in our lives for whatever reason...maybe karma...who knows. I guess the best thing we can do is not feed into the beast and let them know there are people who out there who will not tolerate it. And it's quite simple, disappear. That's all you have to do. You don't even have to say one word. Your absence is enough for them to realize, "Hey, maybe I did something he/she didn't feel too warm & fuzzy about." Voila - an epiphany!

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook.

Monday, August 20, 2012

End World Hunger, Not Homosexuality

Lately, I've been getting random anonymous comments on a blog post entitled, "Is Homosexuality a Perversion". It happens late at night where I get a notification of someone leaving a comment on my blog. I have a tracker that tells me where they found my website. This person in particular Googled "is homosexuality a perversion" and found my site. It's the same person because they are all from the same town in Missouri.

Anonymous writes: "You can't reconcile a Christian lifestyle and a homosexual one. Homosexuals choose to practice perversion. The confusion lies in the distinction between a good friend with whom you have an emotional bond and someone you have sex with. People are confused and perverted. I know that a lot of people accept this lifestyle in this day and age, but that does not make it right. The vast majority of Germans agreed with Adolf Hitler in the 30s, and we all know how that ended up. I'm not comparing homosexuality to Hitler, just making a point about majority beliefs. Personally, I am an agnostic and I still believe that homosexuality is a perversion, as did Sigmund Freud. I also know that you can't call yourself a Christian and also wallow in a sinful, perverted lifestyle such as homosexuality. I have read the Bible front to back, and done extensive studies of some of the books, and I can tell you that both the OT and NT state in no uncertain terms that homosexuality and sexual perversion are sins. You can't say that it's all okay because Jesus died to save me from my sins. If you think about that logic you will see how ridiculous it is." 

Nice comparison huh? I'm guessing this person has a few screws loose if they referred to Hitler in regards to a homosexuality and then tried to save themselves saying, "I'm not comparing homosexuality to Hitler" - but isn't this exactly what they're doing?  It's so amazing how people can be so narrow-minded and bigoted, especially to refer to gay and lesbians as "perverts", when there are so many heterosexuals out there that are perverts too. Promiscuity and a loving relationship are not the same. And yes, there are perverted gay people out there, but account for your team too. They're all not perfect. But I'm getting away from the point... Who in their right mind would reference Hitler in a homosexuality topic? Another comparison that really annoys me is when conservative Christians will compare gay people to pedophiles, rapists and murderers. And above all, these "conservative Christians" are all Googling topics about homosexuality. We're not evil - we're gay. Why not focus on bigger issues, like the ones listed in the Ten Commandments. And don't forget to Google a good shrimp scampi recipe, because we all know that crustaceans of the sea are all an abomination to God.

But "Anyonymous" goes on to say, "Just because you want to make excuses for your chosen lifestyle and try to pervert God's laws into your narrow interpretation, as a matter of faith it is evident that God requires us to love you as a person despite loathing your choice of lifestyle that does nothing but further separate you from Him. Ultimately, you have that "free will" that has been the bane of humanity as we all find times when the "spirit is willing but the flesh is weak". As with all, we pray for guidance for everyone and look for forgiveness for our transgressions when we truly repent. Being a Christian does not mean having to accept and condone every sort of deviancy and rolling over to those who argue for their deviancy. We will firmly stand for God's laws and resist the evil and corruption your lifestyle supports. Tough love."

If I had to "choose" a lifestyle, don't you think I would have chosen the easier path? Being gay is not a choice and has been proven that it's genetic. Your "narrow interpretation" forgot this scripture... "Jesus said, 'Stop judging others, and you will not be judged. For others will treat you as you treat them. Whatever measure you use in judging others, it will be used to measure how you are judged. And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log from your own eye; then perhaps you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.'" {Matthew 7:1-5} I guess you missed that one. And I wonder what Jesus actually said about homosexuality. Can you give me the scripture where Jesus condemns it? ...Fact is, you can't because He didn't say anything about it. Amazing, huh?

What is a sin? As far as I’m concerned, the Ten Commandments still apply.

Do not worship any other gods
Do not make any idols
Do not misuse the name of God
Keep the Sabbath holy
Honor your father & mother
Do not murder
Do not commit adultery
Do not steal
Do not lie
Do not covet

How about the seven deadly sins?

Lust
Gluttony
Greed
Sloth
Wrath
Envy
Pride

As for marine animals, you may eat whatever has both fins and scales, whether taken from fresh water or salt water. You may not, however, eat marine animals that do not have both fins and scales. (shellfish) You are to detest them, and they will always be forbidden to you. You must never eat their meat or even touch their dead bodies. I repeat, any marine animal that does not have both fins and scales is strictly forbidden to you. ~Leviticus 11:9-12
Nothing in that vast 'not to do list' involves anything that deals with homosexuality. As the Old Testament focuses on homosexuality being a sin, they also focus on many other things like eating shellfish and shaving off one's beard. The New Testament brings everything to light. Once Jesus died on the cross for us, the old law was abolished. Even in the New Testament, it states about homosexuality, but in terms of promiscuity, where people were having reckless sex and orgies, where they would get bored with man on woman intercourse and include anyone - even of the same sex. There is a huge difference between lust and love. There is a huge difference between a loving relationship between two people and random sex with anyone, anywhere.

“Accept Christians (or people of other religions) who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. For instance, one person believes it is all right to eat anything. But another believer who has a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables. Those who think it is all right to eat anything must not look down on those who won’t. And those who won’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them. Who are you to condemn God’s servants? They are responsible to the Lord, so let him tell them whether they are right or wrong. The Lord’s power will help them do as they should. In the same way, some think one day is more holy than another day, while others think every day is alike. Each person should have a personal conviction about this matter.” {Romans 14:1-5}

So, I would suggest to "Anonymous" from Missouri to do a little brushing up on the Good Book and maybe they'll see that God's forgiveness is much more than humans can ever provide us with. Jesus died on the cross for a reason: to take away the Old Law and free humanity of their sinful nature - sinful nature in terms of evil intent - to do harm - to hurt others or selfishly take what's not theirs. And if you want to argue with that topic alone, then you can read up on Galatians.

Since my wife and I are Christian, we no longer go by the Old Law as the Jewish people go by.

Look at Galatians chapter two verses 17 through 21: "But what if we seek to be made right with God through faith in Christ and then find out that we are still sinners? Has Christ led us into sin? Of course not! Rather, I make myself guilty if I rebuild the old system I already tore down. For when I tried to keep the law, I realized I could never earn God’s approval. So I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ. I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. So I live my life in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not one for those who treats the grace of God as meaningless. For if we could be saved by keeping the law, then there was no need for Christ to die."

That one sentence says it all: {“For if we could be saved by keeping the law, then there was no need for Christ to die.”}

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

"Come now, and let us reason together," says the Lord, "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool." ~Isaiah 1:18
Relying on Jesus’ sacrifice is why love between two people is not wrong. The Old Law no longer binds us.  If you don't believe in the passages above, then you truly don't believe as a Christian that Jesus died for you. It's there in black and white and it's a shame that many Christians just see the word "homosexuality" and go right into a fit about it. Even if it was "sinful" as some believe, the fact that God has stated numerous times in the Bible not to judge others simply falls deaf upon most conservative Christians' ears. And while I still remain to respect those of different beliefs, it's  another thing to be beaten up constantly with the Bible, when I rely on that book to guide my life every single step of the way. And am I perfect? Not at all. I have a lot of work ahead of me, which is why I need the Bible. I'm a sinner, but it's not because I'm gay.  Now love each other as God commanded and stop focusing on what you cannot control. End world hunger, not homosexuality.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Messy Christian

For the longest time I have hesitated to attend any type of church services. I’ve always said, “My relationship is with God and I can pray anywhere” - and I still stand by that statement, however lately I feel more of a pull - more of a need to be around more Christians, even if they disagree with my lifestyle. For one, I don’t have to say a word. I prefer Assembly of God churches, so it can be difficult for someone of the LGBT community to be “accepted” or taken seriously as a Christian. I have had so many positive experiences attending these types of churches, which makes me want to go back. What makes anyone think that their life is “cleaner” than my own? We’re all messy - we have our own little issues to deal with, but isn’t that how God made us? Or is it an intentional evil choice to be sinful? That depends I guess. What makes a divorcee with her ex-spouse still living, less sinful than the happily married homosexual sitting next to her? What makes a perceptual liar any less sinful than the man who secretly lusts after his wife’s best friend? How many honest hands would raise if asked, “Who masturbates?” Is that even a sin? What is a sin? Who interprets a sin? Why is Christianity so full of judgmental people when it clearly states in the Bible that the only judge should be God?

I’m proud to be a messy Christian. I have many issues that can be seen as “sinful”. I call myself a ‘work in progress’ - and I’m always seeking answers - always. If I stopped asking questions I wouldn’t learn anything new. So my question is: is it okay to be a hypocritical Christian? And before you answer that in your head - I mean the type of Christian who preaches, “Be quick to forgive and slow to be angry”, and then comes home to yell at his wife because she forgot to pick up his dry cleaning. His knee jerk reaction was to call her “mindless” and go on and on yelling at her like a madman. Later that night, he apologizes and just explains that he had a rough day and his temper just got out of control. Most times, he’s very pleasant to be around and occasionally goes off the handle for something silly. She forgives him. So, does this make him a “bad person” and un-Christian-like? Does he have any right to go to church with the other seemingly perfect Christians? When I walk inside a crowded church, I see a bunch of silent people, even if they are singing and dancing, praising God. The silence comes through what’s already human knowledge: sin.

Many of my friends who are of the LGBT community are either Episcopalian, Unitarian, Buddhist, Wiccan or just ‘spiritual’ and even some who are atheists. I don’t talk much about religion in front of them because my beliefs are pretty strong. I don't want to offend anyone or cause an unnecessary debate in a social setting. I accept all who accept other religions, but I don’t believe in attending a church that accepts all religions. I only pray to one God. So when Unitarians tell me that their house of worship is a place where all people of any religion can congregate, I sort of cringe inside - not being prejudice, but being loyal to my own God. I get it - I do, but it’s just my preference. Think about it though: why have all of these Catholic and Christian raised LGBT people sought out different religions or particular sectors of faith? My first thought is: they want to be accepted and not judged. I don't blame them. It's hard. They want to attend a church who welcomes them with opened arms. They don’t want to “be silent” - and that’s very tempting for any gay Christian. But in my belief, being gay isn’t a sin. Every single person sitting in a pew in a born again or an Assembly of God type of church isn’t without sin. Why would the LGBT community think otherwise? We’re all messy.

I remember having a conversation with a friend who is of the Buddhist faith tell me, “Well, pray to the universe” anytime I had a problem. In my mind, I thought, “Why am I praying to something that my God has already created?” I seem to come across a lot of that - “pray to the universe” type of suggestions and I just wonder why they are praying to something - like praying to the moon or stars. I didn't understand it. While writing my book A Prayer Away From Healing, I remember finding a scripture that answered my question about my friends ‘praying to the universe’. This is from Job 38:1-39

“Then the Lord answered Job from the whirlwind; 'Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words? Brace yourself, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them. Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much. Do you know how its dimensions were determined and who did the surveying? What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone and the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? Who defined the boundaries of the sea as it burst from the womb, and as I clothed it with clouds and thick darkness? For I locked it behind barred gates, limiting its shores. I said, ‘Thus far and no farther will you come. Here your proud waves must stop! ’Have you ever commanded the morning to appear and caused the dawn to rise in the east? Have you ever told the daylight to spread to the ends of the earth, to bring and end to the night’s wickedness? For the features of the earth take shape as the light approaches, and the dawn is robed in red. The light disturbs the haunts of the wicked and it stops the arm that is raised in violence. Have you explored the springs from which the seas come? Have you walked about and explored their depths? Do you know where the gates of death are located? Have you seen the gates of utter gloom? Do you realize the extent of the earth? Tell me about it if you know! Where does the light come from, and where does the darkness go? Can you take it to its home? Do you know how to get there? But of course you know all this! For you were born before it was all created, and you are so very experienced! Have you visited the treasuries of the snow? Have you seen where the hail is made and stored? I have reserved it for the time of trouble, for the day of battle and war. Where is the path to the origin of light? Where is the home of the east wind? Who created a channel for the torrents of rain? Who laid out the path for the lightning? Who makes the rain fall on barren land, in a desert where no one lives? Who sends the rain that satisfies the parched ground and makes the tender grass spring up? Does the rain have a father? Where does dew come from? Who is the mother of the ice? Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens? For the water turns to ice as hard as rock, and the surface of water freezes. Can you hold back the movements of the stars? Are you able to restrain the Pleiades or Orion? Can you ensure the proper sequence of the seasons or guide the constellation of the Bear with her cubs across the heavens? Do you know the laws of the universe and how God rules the earth? Can you shout to the clouds and make it rain? Can you make lightning appear and cause it to strike as you direct it? Who gives intuition and instinct? Who is wise enough to count all the clouds? Who can tilt the water jars of heaven, turning the dry dust to clumps of mud? Can you stalk prey for a lioness and satisfy the young lions’ appetites as they lie in their dens or crouch in the thicket? Who provides food for the ravens when their young cry out to God as they wander about in hunger?'”

It just reinstated the fact that if you do believe in a God, then why pray to “the universe”? Even though that sounds perhaps judgmental on my part, it’s more of a question. For a few years, I have laid off the “Christian babble” for many reasons. One main reason is that I was afraid of being called a “hypocrite” yet again. It was because of my insecurities that left me speechless and left me sharing less of my faith with others. In the bigger picture - aren’t we all hypocrites in some way or another if we are of the Christian faith? And if you say you don’t sin, I’m calling you out as a liar. We all do. Either we confess and try to do better or we just keep going around the same mountain. But still, as long as we’re progressing as human beings, trying to do our best in every area of our life and yet have the occasional hiccup if you will - then why silence our faith? I think fear motivates us to shut our mouths. We’re afraid to be judged, ridiculed...persecuted. We’re afraid to mess up because we claim to be a Christian, yet at times, our actions speak much differently. We’re afraid that people will analyze our lives more and pick it apart in tiny pieces showing you all of the gray areas. That’s why I silenced myself. And I do believe there is a devil. I believe he wants to instill fear in us so we don’t share our faith or stand up for what we believe in. They say be “Christ-like” - WWJD - What Would Jesus Do - and we know what’s best but we are not perfect. This is exactly why most people will run far away from Christianity. They think they have to be perfect when it’s the total opposite. If I was perfect, I wouldn’t need God at all.

Through scripture, you can see that God knew how imperfect we all are...

“Yes, Adam’s one sin brought condemnation upon everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness makes all people right in God’s sight and gives them life. Because one person disobeyed God, many people became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many people will be made right in God’s sight. God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful kindness became more abundant. So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful kindness rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” ~Romans 5:18-21

So basically it’s saying that the sins of the past, even back into Leviticus was washed away so that we can have right standing with God. The Old Testament tells us that eating crustaceans of the sea (shellfish), being a homosexual, a man shaving his beard and sitting on the same couch with a woman who is menstruating were all seen as an abomination. But when Jesus came to the world, He died on the cross to take away those sins. Once He died, the law was abolished. This scripture validates that.

“But what if we seek to be made right with God through faith in Christ and then find out that we are still sinners? Has Christ led us into sin? Of course not! Rather, I make myself guilty if I rebuild the old system I already tore down. For when I tried to keep the law, I realized I could never earn God’s approval. So I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ. I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. So I live my life in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not one for those who treats the grace of God as meaningless. **For if we could be saved by keeping the law, then there was no need for Christ to die.”**

That one sentence says it all: {“For if we could be saved by keeping the law, then there was no need for Christ to die.”}

Then you have this passage:

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

“For no one will ever be saved by obeying the law.” Huh. Isn’t that interesting? So then, what’s the most important commandment - the most important thing for a Christian person to do?

Then Jesus says this:

The Most Important Commandment--
“One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the discussion. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’ Jesus replied, ‘The most important commandment is this: Here, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important. Love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these.’" ~Matthew 22:34-40

From Jesus’ mouth, not mine. Straight from the Bible. How can anyone argue with this? ...And yet they do all. the. time. They bring up the acts of homosexuality written in Romans and in Corinthians, which is also interpreted as promiscuity for ALL people - heterosexual or homosexual. I know this post is quite long but I’ve been coming across many more gays and lesbians who are unsure of their faith just by what other Christians are telling them. They give them cherry picked scriptures hoping that they’ll turn from their "sinful" lifestyle as a homosexual. A homosexual who is seen as a pervert in their eyes. We have loving relationships just as heterosexuals do. We are loved by God and accepted by Him. Why can’t the people of the church accept us, just as we accept those who are sitting in those pews sinning as well? We’re all in this together - why separate the churches and sectors into “this one accepts this and that” and “that one only accepts this”? I know that there are different beliefs and faiths but what I’m trying to understand is the level of intolerance, the lack of acceptance and fellowship with God’s own people. It’s really not very “Christian-like”, but that could be seen as judgmental on my part I guess. It must be hard to be perfect, in fact, it's literally impossible. I will continue to enjoy my messy life.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com and join her on Facebook

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Volatile Relationships

A bowl of soup with someone you love is better than steak with someone you hate. ~Proverbs 15:17You don’t necessarily have to “like” the person you’re in an intimate relationship with. In fact, you might just love and hate them at the same time. I’m sure you’ve heard of the term “love/hate relationships”, and how some relationships are just overflowing with constant bickering and arguing. Your partner says white; you say black. The fact remains: you two just don’t get along and will do anything to be on the opposite sides of the fence. You just don’t see eye-to-eye. Whether it’s been like this all along, or has recently developed, you find your state of mind being more depressed and miserable while being with them, rather than being grateful and happy while being in their presence. When do we end the torture?

Usually these are on and off relationships; they break up to make up. It’s like some sick obsession with drama and sex. The combination of both extremes saps all the positive energy of whatever you had left in you. So then, what next? You two decide to break it off and cut ties. Your mind starts tracking back to all the good times you had with this particular person. You start forgetting about the negative aspects: the constant bickering, nitpicking and criticisms you endured and you begin to start the process of ‘distance distortion’---where all your thoughts are pointed to the little positives that you’ve known about the relationship – leaving out any negative ones. You cry and think about calling him/her.

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. On the very day I call to you for help, my enemies will retreat. (Enemies can symbolize the temptation and false illusions of the relationship itself.) This I know: God is on my side.” ~Psalm 56:8-9
Prayer. It’s the most powerful thing you can do when you don’t know what to do. It can be your saving grace from making that stupid mistake of calling him/her, when you know it’s only going to cause more confusion and sadness than happiness. One of you will bring up something unpleasant about the relationship while trying to have a cordial conversation and that’ll be it. Back to square one: angry and resentful. See, there are several emotions while still raw in a breakup: shock, anger, resentment, sadness and acceptance. Once you’ve reached the “acceptance level” of the breakup, you may begin to develop this thought process that it’s okay to call him/her now. What if they’re not done with their healing process? You risk the chance of an argument. Time time time. Whether or not you plan on trying to get your ex back, or if you plan on healing – time is the answer. I hated hearing that, but it’s true.

If it was in fact a volatile relationship, why do you want your ex back in the first place? I can tell you one good reason: fear. People fear that they’ll never meet the love of their life “again”. They think this was their soul mate and there’s not another person out there that’ll fit that description. Memories go back to the “beginning” of the relationship. Think about it. …Another fear is that someone else will take their place. Gladly hand over that position. People are also scared of “new people”. They want what’s familiar to them. This is another reason why people have sex with the ex. It’s familiar territory. They don’t have to go out and risk the chance of sleeping with another person only to get hurt again, or worse yet, possibly end up with more than they bargained for... This seems like the “safe route”. I really believe that’s why “yo-yo” relationships were invented. Plain and simple: fear. We want to go back to home base even if we don’t plan on staying there for very long.

“It is better to live in a desert land, than with a contentious and vexing woman” (Proverbs 21:19)
Safe is not necessarily healthy. Taking risks and being able to love someone without jealousy, rage, anger and awful bickering is the way to live a peaceful and long life. If you settle for someone who is constantly going to drive you nuts and drain your energy – get out while you’re still alive. I truly believe you can die from this whether you have a heart attack or stroke from the stress of it all. So it’s much more than just getting rid of a bad relationship - it’s more about keeping a healthy life, a healthy attitude and a healthy mindset.

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, August 14, 2012

Love Yourself First

If I make an observation, it doesn't necessarily mean it's a 'fact' -- it's merely just something I've experienced on my own with nobody else nodding their head in agreement. Maybe you'll find yourself nodding your head, and if you disagree, that's okay too. For the past several years, I have come across a few people who were very critical about other people's appearances and/or lifestyles. While everyone has a right to their opinion, I think it's safe to say that if you're single and ranting about how ugly, fat or too skinny someone is, you'll remain single. Who wants to be with someone who is overly picky about someone else's appearance? And while 'so & so' may not be the most attractive person on this planet, it's just best to keep those opinions to yourself, because someone else may find them extremely beautiful. An old friend who had been constantly on the prowl for Mr. Right once said to me after her date, "Ugh, he drinks beer and watches football. I can't date someone like that."  I was going to suggest being a lesbian, because 99% of men do just that. Ok, ok, ok, maybe some are into baseball. But, seriously? Then she went on... "And he's fat." I shrugged and said, "Well if you're not attracted to him and there wasn't any chemistry, then don't go out with him again." About a week later, I saw the guy she went out with in a local bar. He was not only adorable, but extremely in shape! He then went on to tell me that he plays football - not only watches it. For whatever reason my friend saw him as a "fat football thug" was beyond me. He was very athletic and had a swarm of women waiting to talk to him. My friend is still single.

With that story in mind I'm finding similar people like her. Those people who seem so critical over other people's appearances are the same ones who have an awful body image of their own -- whether they are thin or heavy. That saying, "If you don't love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love somebody else" is so on target. You can't possibly see others as "beautiful" if you don't see yourself that way. And who defines "beauty" anyway? If all you're after is a "hot guy" or a "hot chick" to make you feel "hot" - hopefully they'll still have some substance when they're growing old with you or you'll be bored to tears in your golden years. My mother always told me, if you can laugh with someone, you'll have a happy life with them.  And of course if they love their mother, yada yada yada... You have to love all of your partner's "imperfections", because imperfections is what makes other people so damn incredible, (and sometimes annoying), but love it all anyway. All of our idiosyncrasies is what I call "God's sense of humor", and if you can't get beyond those human nature qualities that we all possess, then in my estimation, deep inside, you'll be either single forever, or you'll end up making someone else very unhappy with all the criticisms that'll spew forth during the course of the relationship. Love yourself first. The rest will follow.  

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

What Do You Believe?

And yes, this is a real photo of my brain...

Not sure what to make of this, but I'm questioning my dreams lately. Sometimes they make sense, and other times, they just sort of linger into this fog of curiosity. There are many people who say they can interpret dreams and I even went to a psychologist who currently still does "dream therapy" - where she could analyze your subconsciousness by what you dreamt about. It's an amazing technique so I hear, but I never wanted to go that route because I'm not 100% convinced that dreams are our subconsciousness telling us messages about ourselves, or if it's our brain going haywire for a few hours just because it's on "down time".  Have you ever dreamt of something so awful that you didn't even want to repeat it?  You try and figure it all out, but nothing ever comes of it. Meaningless really. Or is it? What about dreaming about lost loved ones who have crossed over ~to the other side~ or dreams that are supposedly "intuitive" that'll save your life. Should we listen to every single dream that warns us about something or chuck it up to our tired lil' noggin?

Let me explain why I'm writing this post... Last night I saw Dad in my dreams. Maybe it was because I posted about Dad yesterday, or just had him on my mind lately. Strange, because I prayed for him to visit me in my dreams yesterday. If you had read my post from yesterday, as I was typing the part talking about being by the ocean with him, I actually heard the waves crashing. It was so real and so strange... Some people believe that you should pray or ask your loved one to wake you up after they visit you.  Well, I tried it. It finally worked. In my dream, I found myself in my Dad's 'man cave' with my dog. There he was, sitting in his chair with dark brown hair, a dark blue shirt and his work jeans smoking a cigarette. He said, "Ha, look! That dog's getting big!" I had Lola on a leash and said, "Yeah, she gained a few pounds," not realizing it was a visit - actually thinking it was an everyday normal occurrence that Dad was hanging around. Then, right in the midst of my dream, it hit me - Dad! Oh, wait! ---He looked at me and knew my 'subconscious' had awoken. I said, "Hiiiiiii!!!!!!!!!!" --Waving at him like a big ol' fool. He started laughing, nodding his head like, "Yep, this is a visit kid," and went on to consume the last drag of his cigarette. Then I woke up. I wasn't disturbed by it, nor was I overly emotional about it. It felt like the norm. It felt like another day with Dad -- nothing more, nothing less. Just Dad. The only thing different was that he had dark brown hair instead of his silver hair. Either that's how I wanted to remember him or he got his hair color from a box up in heaven.

Even when my grandmother passed away, she had come to me in my dreams a few times. Once right before her death. She was in a nursing home, not able to communicate or function any longer. Madelene and I were going to visit her on a particular Saturday, on January 21rst. That Friday night, I dreamt my grandma came to me yelling (as she usually did) saying, "Don't you dare come up here and see me like this! I won't have it!" Typical her. And typical me said, "Tough. I'm still going to visit."  The next day, my mother called me and said, "Deb? Grandma died early this morning."  Coincidence?  At her funeral, she wasn't 50 lbs with white hair. She was the voluptuous redhead that I remembered her as. Strange how they can manipulate someone to look a certain way. Creepy as it is, it was also comforting. Months after her passing, she came to me in a dream. She said, "I have a family secret to tell you."  So I sat down on the couch next to her's and said, "What? What?" She started to talk, and while she was talking, her voice went lower, and lower, and lower, until she was completely muted - but still talking. She didn't even look as though she knew I couldn't hear her - she kept on talking as if the volume was off. It was so frustrating. My mother keeps asking me to "think harder". Kind of funny, but impossible to do because you really can't bring back a dream. Or was it a dream?

When my wife's father passed away, it was very traumatic because not only was it so sudden, but he was only in his mid-fifties. I clearly remember having a very vivid dream about him. He came to me near a picket fence. (Not sure what that means.)  He held my hand and my arm with his other hand and said, "Don't worry. I'm going to take care of you two. Just let her know that." (Her being Madelene I'm presuming.) I'm not sure why he said this or what the real meaning behind it was, but in the dream after he said it, I was asking him questions which I can't remember, and he said, "I gotta go now," as I kept holding his arm now. I said, "No, wait! Don't go just yet," but he kept insisting, as if someone was calling him. He squeezed my arm and slipped right out of my grip right up into a foggy light.  I just watched and *poof* - woke up instantly. The dream was embedded in my brain for the rest of the morning. While having coffee with Madelene, I wasn't quite sure she was ready to hear my dream or even wanted to. It was still so very 'raw'. Then she started talking about him, and I decided to share my dream with her. It comforted her more than anything, which was what I was hoping for.

For years, I've always been able to hear and see ghosts. Sounds crazy, right? But as bizarre as that sounds, I'm so grateful that Madelene was with me to experience a few of my encounters. One, being an old lady who used to live in my parents' house. We were both lying on the hammock, when "she" appeared looking out at us through the screen door. I didn't say a word. Then, Madelene said, "Who was that??" In my mind I kept saying, "YES! I'm not THAT crazy!" Another time she witnessed it with me was when I kept getting visits from an old friend who died so tragically. I was getting so many visits from him that I said out of frustrations, "Why can't you just appear in normal form!!??" And all of the sudden, this huge, bright blueish and yellow orb flew into the living room, bounced off the floor and went straight up into the corner of where the ceiling meets the wall.  Again, I didn't say a word. Madelene said, "Did you see that??" And again, in my mind I said, "YES! I'm not THAT crazy!" Another time taking a mini vacation up at this bed & breakfast, we were trying to go to sleep, but my pillow was whispering. I raised my head to see if anyone else was in the hallway talking - but they were whispers. The only light illuminating the room was from a fake candle in the window, but it was still dark. I put my head back onto the pillow and heard the whispers once again. I noticed Madelene grabbing her glasses from the nightstand very slowly, and placing them on her face....in. the. dark. It was then I knew I wasn't the only one with the 'active pillow'. I even put my ear to the wall, to the floor, to the nightstand  --- nothing. The pillow? Tons of whispers. We left so quickly the next morning that the owners didn't charge us for the rest of our stay. They said, "We know...We've had many people flee from here. It was owned by the mafia years ago and there were tragic 'incidents' that had taken place."  And they were renovating the place big time, which to some believe it's like a field day for spirits.

This morning while talking to Mad about seeing my Dad in my dreams while we were having coffee, she said, "How come I don't see my dad or anyone like you do in your dreams?" I really couldn't answer that. I just assume she's not "opened" enough - or perhaps her fear of someone 'on the other side' pretending to be her loved one consumes her ability to get visits. She has never experienced anything of a supernatural occurrence other than while being with me. Last year while we were pulling tacks up from an old carpet so we could have hard wood floors, she said, "Did you hear that?"  I was on the other side of the room breaking my kneecaps trying to get everything done. I didn't hear a thing. She said a woman started giggling in her ear. "Did you get  sleep last night?" She just sneered at me, as though, oh you can have these experiences and I can't??  But I was just shocked she actually heard something on her own. When we finally moved into the house, while working on an important project I had to get done for work, I heard, "Debbie?"  No one was in the house. I just chucked it up to fatigue. But then again she called, "Debbie?" The voice raised itself, almost questioning why I wasn't answering her. And the only people who call me "Debbie" are those who have known me as a child growing up. Most call me "Deb" - so it baffled me. Not that it's a big deal, but still. I walked around the house, but she stopped calling me. The rest of the day I had such an overwhelming feeling of someone watching me.

I have so many stories about this kind of stuff, but I want to keep the word limit under a million and keep your attention somewhat. But strange how our minds work, or are they our minds? Do you believe that we manifest our own 'spiritual experiences', and do our subconscious minds try and comfort us with an image of our deceased loved one?  Or is it real? Do they really visit us in our dreams? If they do visit us in our dreams, couldn't it be an opportunity for someone to 'pretend' that they're our loved ones? That's something I'm a bit disturbed by. Would love to get your thoughts and maybe share your experiences too.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook.