Friday, June 24, 2016

Pain is Inevitable. Suffering is Optional

Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves - regret for the past and fear of the future.             ― Fulton Oursler

It's amazing how time flies. It only seems like yesterday when I was a little girl lying on the grass looking up at the sky with my older sisters without a care in the world. We never left the poolside in the summertime. My mom would come out with a huge tray of iced tea and sandwiches after a long morning of swimming and playing. My dad would normally get home from work at around 3 o'clock in the afternoon. His big black van would swoop around the corner, and park nearby the pool area. He'd make a few snarky comments like, "Youz' have the life, you know dat?" He would chuckle and poke fun at us for a while, and then he'd go straight into the house and nap until around 6ish because of his long day working over at the fish market in NYC, to only have to wake up at 2am to do it all over again. We had so many friends come in and out of our home, countless parties and dinners with extended family -- it kinda seems like a dream now. Things were different back then. Or maybe, things are just what they're supposed to be, because I'm an adult looking back in on my past.

I honestly can't say that I've regretted anything in my past -- unless it's things like words I should've never let pass through my lips from time to time, but overall, no action was completely regretted. (Maybe a few wine-filled nights, but that's without saying...) I'd like to think that I have a good head on my shoulders. I understand life much more after I hit the ripe young age of 40. It's funny how blind you can be as a child growing up. You truly do not know your parents, as well as your siblings sometimes. Relationships are complicated. Many things are left unsaid and/or never revealed, only leaving you in a state of blissful ignorance. And it is bliss, or would've been bliss if we didn't find out "this" or "that". We wanted our world to be perfect. And most of the time, our parents hide their darkest secrets in order to save us from the trauma they were experiencing themselves. So with that, some things left unsaid can be a good thing in retrospect. Hindsight is 20/20.

Death is inevitable for all of us...I guess. My greatest fear as a child was losing my parents. And watching Dad suffer so terribly...so horrifically...so tragically, until his last breath was unfathomable. I honestly didn't get to recover long enough before Mom was diagnosed with cancer. So not only was I still mourning for the past, but I was fearing for the future. I was fearing watching my mom go through the same phases as Dad. Hey, everybody goes through it, right? In my mind: No! "It wasn't supposed to happen like this! It wasn't supposed to be so hard! It wasn't supposed to be..." And so I broke down and took the rest of the painkillers that were prescribed to me for my back pain. It wasn't enough to kill me, but enough to wonder if the alcohol combined with it would. And so, I found myself in the ER getting my stomach pumped and got the ol' "stern-tough-love" lecture by one of the doctors who wanted to throw me into a psyche ward. But since this was a questionable occurrence, as I told him I had forgotten how much medication I had taken before having that 2nd glass of wine (5th) -- then he decided it was an "accidental overdose".

That was my wakeup call. I mean -- nobody truly wants to kill themselves. Studies have shown that suicide survivors say one thing before they think they're dying. "I don't wanna die!" For me, it was a cry for help. This was only two years ago. I remember the first therapist I saw after this incident. Till this day, she's still hearing my stories and helping me in significant ways. I found other ways of coping and managing my fears. I even sought out for books that really changed my view about life and death and things we fear the most. I've read, The Power of Now, and The New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle and Dying to be Me, by Anita Moorjani. These books were complete life changers. The more I read from enlightened spiritual teachers, the more I began to realize and understand how so very fragile we are as human beings. I understood how much stronger the spirit is though. And as controversial as "life after death" can be -- I know that without a doubt, there is life on the other side. None of these authors and spiritual teachers persuaded me from my own faith in Christianity. They only increased it. Anita Moorjani began to help me personally, to which I am so grateful for. I believe our encounter wasn't a coincidence either. We met on not so friendly terms when I questioned her beliefs, as well as her empathy towards "bad people" -- like terrorists. From there, I learned one thing: hurt people hurt. It's the cycle of the human condition. And whether we like it or not, there will always be "good" and "bad" perceived in our minds, when in fact, it's all supposed to 'be'.

I began to calm down. My reactions toward things that would upset me lessened and I became somewhat mellow -- unlike my anxiety-ridden self. My outward circumstances would no longer rattle my cage. It was only up to me of how I was going to handle it or react to it. In the same breath, I will say this: I cannot be around negative or fearful people as much. That was what I was trying to get rid of in the first place. So when someone comes along and displays all of those fears and emotions I once had -- it automatically kicks in my retro-thinking (as I call it) and stirs it back up again.  Thing is -- when someone is extremely negative, they cannot hear you. They will listen (if you get a word in edgewise) to only respond. That's why I tend to shut down or disappear if I'm around too many people or someone who is negative. For me it's like sensory overload. My system can't take it so I emotionally as well as physically shut down for a day or two to recover. I understand people have problems, as we all do, but wouldn't it be nice if we could share our problems instead of invoke fear and intimidation towards someone who is only there to help us or stand by us?

It was interesting to learn what a "pain-body" was.  I never heard of this term before until I read Eckhart Tolle's books. A pain-body leaves behind an energy form of emotional pain. It comes together with other energy forms from other instances, and so after some years you have a “pain-body,” an energy entity consisting of old emotion. It lives in human beings, and it is the emotional aspect of egoic consciousness. I guess psychics and mediums would call it a "dark energy" if they met someone with a dense pain-body -- but it's more or less our own consciousness drawing it up -- our old past wounds, or an unforgiving past. And it is dark. It'll haunt our present if we don't deal with it 'now'.  If you deal with it now, then you are yielding and not resisting. Because as the saying goes, whatever we resist, persists. If we keep fighting off the past or pushing away something that needs to be dealt with, it'll take on a much larger "pain-body", or "dark energy". Have you ever felt a negative vibe from somebody, whether you knew them or not? And the energy feels so thick that you just feel the need to run far far away from them? Or have you ever experienced somebody who only talks about negative things, or belittles and insults you? Those types of people carry a heavy pain-body. Their own emotional struggle will cause the "misery loves company" effect. Their own pain-body wants you to energize them. It wants you to relate to them. It wants you to feel what they are feeling.

But I digress.

After watching my mother go through months and months of chemo and radiation, I truly thought the worst. And it wasn't too long afterwards when we heard the doctors say, "Well, the radiation worked! She's cancer-free!"

Cancer-free. Cancer-free!

That's all that rang through my mind. That's all I could hear. That's all I needed. I soon found out that being "cancer-free" doesn't come without a hefty price. She now has to deal with the horrific side effects of the radiation which causes a great loss of blood. Mom's in and out of the hospital getting one transfusion after another. She doesn't do the things she loves anymore. She no longer can cook, or do menial tasks around the house. It takes all her strength to even leave her bedroom. Strange, because she was more mobile and functional when she had the cancer. So once I catch my mind wondering if she'll make it out of this 'cancer-free' stage, I quickly catch myself and focus on what's needed to be done right 'now'. But if someone comes along and starts rambling off "predictions" -- especially grim ones, I try to tune them out. And if they proverbially rape my ear with their own fears and negative thinking, then I need a "time out" and hide out for a while. I know how life works and I know that we are all going to die. But to even go as far as tomorrow makes me cringe -- for any of us. They say that anxiety is fear of the future and depression is focusing more on the past. Why are we choosing to live in any of these illusionary states? The past and future is unseen, only witnessed by the mind's eye. Any one of us could go at any given time. Don't bank your health on tomorrow when fate predicts a car accident today.

Getting back to when I was a young girl lying on the grass with my older sisters -- it's all about that young girl still. I guess the young girl inside me still wants to hold onto her childhood, or a sense of it: the security of having our loved ones always be there, the familiarity, the unconditional love, the connection and the sense of safety and security, even if you're the one taking care of everybody else. It's having them there that sets the stage of being a child again. Someone once told me a long time ago, that we only become adults once both our parents are gone. I had to let that sink in. But it makes sense. By holding on too tightly to our mortal parents, we are also holding onto a part of ourselves -- the part that's the child. The child screams, "Noooooo," while the adult comforts whatever's left of the person inside. Don't get me wrong, I would love to spend one day in my past, laughing and joking with dad and spending time with the family like we used to, but the reality of it is: people die, people change, people get ill and people are people. Nothing lasts forever and that in itself has to be accepted. If denied, then we suffer. Again, whatever we resist, persists, which equals to suffering.

We choose our joys and sorrows long before we experience them. ~~Khalil Gibran

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, June 17, 2016

Homophobic, Heterophobic -- Let's Call the Whole Thing Off!

This week has been really strange. I came across quite a few Christians who showed their distaste for people of the LGBT community this week for whatever reason. They explained that it was "wrong" for two people of the same gender to be together because their bible told them so. They were surprised that I was Christian and yet still married (to which they don't consider it a marriage) to a woman. It's funny because these people were incredibly nice -- they just didn't agree with the lifestyle. Even when they said it was "wrong" -- they have been programmed to believe it was "wrong". And that's OK. But there's a fine line between having strong beliefs and hurting others with faith-based assumptions about a lifestyle that's not factual. And by the way, it doesn't help the situation by stating that you have a gay friend or that your sister or brother is gay. It's the same thing as saying, "My best friend is black," when being called out a racist.

I believe in the Bible, but the Bible is not "factual" according to its followers. Baffled? Why do so many Christians have different beliefs about "this" or "that" -- and yet they read the same book? I'm OK with someone saying, "Well, I believe that this scripture to be true," while I read the same scripture in a whole different light. Many people refuse to read the entire story -- the main gist of a historical event that (may have) taken place and just take one scripture, one line out of 'the movie' so to speak and use it to hurt others with. For instance, many Christians who are against the LGBT community will tell the story of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Basically, God says that He's going to destroy cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, if two angels cannot find any good people within the towns. Once the angels arrive, a kind man named Lot invites these angels into his home and entertains them. This angers the cities' men, and the men rallied outside of Lot's home, wishing to do "perverse actions" to these male angels. Moments later, the two cities are destroyed by fiery rain. Many anti-gay Christian ministers use this passage to say that this is an example of God’s wrath against homosexuality -- as if the men of Sodom were all gay, and all trying to "be gay with" these male angels. Historians and sociologists tell us that gang rape was a very common form of brutal humiliation of the subjects, in the ancient Western world. The Sodomite men did not come to Lot’s house to have monogamous, committed, loving relationships with the male angels residing there. They came to rape these angels. Also, MULTIPLE parts of the Bible (Luke 10: 10-13; Isaiah 19: 13-14; Jeremiah 23: 14; Ezekiel 16: 49; Zephaniah 2: 8-11) tell us that God despised the greed and their wickedness toward outsiders as their sin, not that fact that men wanted to “have sex” with men. The story of Sodom and Gomorrah was about rape and humiliation -- not a loving relationship between two people of the same gender.

 Leviticus 11, verse 7 forbids consuming pork because “though it has a split hoof completely divided, [the pig] does not chew the cud.”
Another quick rundown on the examples of how Christians take these scriptures is this: oftentimes, they will reference to Leviticus which has nothing to do with Christians. If it did have something to do with Christians, then we would not be able to eat shellfish, wear clothing of different fabrics, shave beards, have tattoos or sit next to a woman who is menstruating. These are Jewish laws that no longer apply to Christians. In Galatians, it clearly states that the Old Law was abolished once Jesus died on the cross.

No one will ever be saved by “obeying the law” — as it says in the scriptures... 

Galatians 2:15-16 —You and I are Jews by birth, not “sinners” like the gentiles. And yet we Jewish Christians know that we became right with God, not by doing what the law commands, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we have believed in Jesus Christ, 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.

This passage is not to say, "Oh go out and hurt and kill people," -- it's saying that we are all imperfect and will never be sinless, which is why Jesus offered his life for us. If we don't believe that He has paid the price in full, then what do we believe in? It's like mocking his entire sacrifice and saying, "Well, I don't think it paid the entire price, I still think we need to be perfect."

Do you know what Jesus said the greatest commandment of all was? "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it -- thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."

There are many people who are afraid that their freedom of religion will be taken away. There are discriminative laws that do protect religious freedom to some extent. But the thing is -- if people who are religious use their "freedom" to discriminate against people they "believe" are sinners, then that's not fair. For instance -- your belief is not a fact. Your faith in Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism are all faith-based and non-factual belief systems. Skin color, sexual orientation, sexual identity and nationality are factual instances to which people are discriminated against. Religion is basically like some fairytale that people believe in and the FACT is -- not everyone is religious or holds the same beliefs. So what then?

As non-factual as I believe religion is -- my life relies on my faith in God. I know it's not factual for some people, but for me, I have witnessed God's work in my life. I have seen God. I have heard God. So for me -- it is factual. But I would never discriminate against someone else due to my faith. In fact, that's not what "my religion" teaches me -- that's not what "my God" teaches me. He teaches me to love everyone and to treat everyone as I were to treat myself. When I read the Bible and look at the scriptures in Corinthians and Romans that speak about homosexuality -- it is speaking solely upon the promiscuity of mankind -- not just homosexuals. As it says in Romans describing their orgies, "they burned with lust" -- this indicates that this was not a loving nature, but an animalistic type of passion between people who do not love one another. I read the passages and take it as "reckless sex" -- and of course, reckless sex is always a dangerous thing to tamper with, mind, body and soul.

There's another assumption made about the LGBT community which really gets to me. Some people feel that if you are gay, lesbian or transgender, then that means that you were either sexually abused to had great trauma in your childhood. When I think about my childhood, I think about unconditional love and the feeling of being safe. I was never abused nor do I remember any "trauma" when I was little. I know many heterosexuals who have been sexually abused when they were little who still remained straight. The whole assumption is quite pointless and ignorant on so many levels. And to give out statistics on it is just wrong because there are tons of gays and lesbians who haven't even come out of the closet yet. You cannot give a true statistic on the rate of abuse on gay and lesbian people compared to those who are straight.

So now that I have told you some of my beliefs on what the Bible and God says to me, there's something else that riles up this pot of hatred between the LGBT community and people who are Christian.

As a gay Christian, I do notice a lot of intolerance by the LGBT community towards Christian people. They're angry because they don't want other people telling them how to live and rightfully so. They usually resort to knee-jerk reactions, like threatening the lives of those who are against them or mocking them in general, especially protesting against their rights. I do believe that there are sincere Christians who are worried about our afterlife. That's OK -- then pray for us. But there are Christians who are very harsh and using the Bible for their very own hatred. And in turn, many of the LGBT community will strike back because their ego is hurt. I used to be one of those people.

I use the word "homophobic" when someone attacks me viciously. There's a psychological undertone of fear. Ignorance is based out of fear in most cases. We fear that our society is going to crap. We fear that our children will grow up to be gay. We fear that 'the gays' will take away our freedom of religion. And maybe, we fear that our own homosexual tendencies may rise up to the surface. What then? There is a Christian woman I know through social media who is against the LGBT community. She bravely admitted that at one point in her life, she had lesbian tendencies and strong feelings toward other women, but struggled to fight them off. She is now married to a wonderful man who is also Christian. It brings me back to the whole "I became a nun because I was a lesbian" type of scenario. Whether you "choose" to be in a gay or straight relationship, there is no choice on your true sexual orientation. So when a straight person asks me, "Did you choose to be a lesbian?" I always ask, "Did you choose to be straight?" My other question to her would be: do you genuinely love your husband as a man should be loved? Or are you just playing a role that you feel God wants you to play? I tried that years ago. I was engaged to a man once. But I didn't want to rip him off of the love that he truly deserved. I would have loved him, but not the type of love that a marriage should have.

In conclusion, the ego itself is tied up in everything: religion, race, gender, career, social status, vanity and wealth (materialistic gain). All of those are wrapped up into their identity. If religion is their primary focus in life, then if you offend "their religion", (if you offend "my religion", "my God", "my faith"), then you are indeed offending my ego. Activists of any kind are wrapped up in ego-based agendas, which can lead to the most explosive debates and protests. Religious people (not spiritual faith-filled people) will get offended because their identity is being persecuted. It's not so much about their religion anymore -- it's about their entire character and identity. When you let go of the ego -- then your true self comes up to the surface accepting everyone of any race, creed or gender.

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, June 14, 2016

Promote What You Love Instead of Bashing What You Hate


The other day, I was asked if I could do a write up about the Orlando shooting. I mean, seriously -- what can I say? What can I possibly add to such a tragic ending of 50 lives? Nobody's going to feel better just by one of my posts. It's not going to make the family members of the deceased feel any better. Everyone on social media are writing about it. A select few said that they had heavy hearts, and rightfully so. But most are seeking out an opportunity to hop onto their huge ego-filled soapbox, all lit up in neon lights and hooked up to the biggest amplifiers on earth.

  • Pro-gun
  • Anti-gun
  • Pro-Trump
  • Anti-Trump
  • Pro-LGBT
  • Antigay Christians
  • The Gay Agenda
  • Pro-Muslim
  • Anti-Muslim
  • Conspiracy theories

Stop.

You know what it's about? It's about every single one of these beautiful souls that we lost. You can click on the name to see their profiles.

Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 | Stanley Almodovar III, 23 | Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 | Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 | Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 | Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 | Luis S. Vielma, 22 |Kimberly Morris, 37 |Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 | Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 | Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 | Anthony Luis Laureano Disla, 25 | Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 | Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 | Martin Benitez Torres, 33 | Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 | Amanda Alvear, 25 | Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 | Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26 Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 | Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 | Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 | Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 Cory James Connell, 21 Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 | Luis Daniel Conde, 39 Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 Juan Chavez Martinez, 25 | Jerald Arthur Wright, 31 | Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 |Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 | Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24 | Jean Carlos Nieves Rodriguez, 27 | Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33 | Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49 | Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24 | Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 | Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28 | Frank Hernandez Escalante, 27 | Paul Terrell Henry, 41 |Antonio Davon Brown, 29 | Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24 | Akyra Monet Murray, 18 | Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25

Nothing can ever bring these people back. None of your politics matter. Nobody's politics matter. I spent the last couple of days home with my wife. At one point, I was reading through all the posts people were carelessly writing up on Facebook. They were trying so hard to invoke a reaction -- they wanted to create an argument --and they knew what they were doing. They weren't being passionate about their "politics" -- their oversized egos were all shouting, "Hey! Look at me! Look at me!" We should have been looking toward the families of the deceased and praying for them.

I guess for me personally, I get this sort of numb feeling when such horrible things in the world take place. I remember feeling a strange void or perhaps some type of detachment on 9/11. And then it hit me. I just cried my eyes out and couldn't stop. I withdrew a little and became a bit of a recluse. I found myself doing that over the weekend and I am still in that phase somewhat. And it's not that I'm fearful of stepping out into the world, but I'm fearful of hearing about other people's views and their takes on gun control or what Trump can or can't do or how religion destroys people ---enough.

I need silence.



Last night, Madelene had the news on at around 11pm. I said, "Please...turn it off." I had the biggest lump in my throat. I couldn't sleep. I tossed and turned all night. I finally ended up getting physically sick over it. I know it's not healthy to be such an emotional sponge -- but it's always been a bit of a downfall of mine. I find it so senseless that people are arguing over gun control and LGBT issues right now. I find it disheartening that good friends are ending their years of friendship over some stupid comment they posted up onto social media. 

Everyone's offended.

And if all you're doing is bashing what you hate and not promoting what you love -- then your argument is moot. You have just stooped to lowest form of humanity. If your presidential candidate or political argument (whichever side) isn't good enough to promote, then something must be 'off', or you're not that confident in your own argument. Regardless of the cause -- you are invoking a reaction from your friends and family online, to which you'd probably never do in public or face-to-face.

Do what you need to do in order to show your passion for politics from whichever side. But wouldn't be nice to show people what and who we love instead of what and who we hate? This will be the last post I write about my thoughts on Orlando, and the people online who make it about themselves.

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, June 07, 2016

Dealing With Toxic People

The one thing I've noticed, especially as of late, is that people seem to thrive off of negativity. They can say that their thoughts and actions are justified, but they stir things up, wreak havoc or just throw themselves in a pit of depression. I was one of them. I stayed in my depression for long periods of time. But the one thing I noticed was that my negative energy only fed off of others alike who were also negative. I couldn't get much from the positive people because their frequency was much different. But in the same aspect, because of their higher frequency, they sometimes pulled me out from that dark pit. So in turn, I learned another thing: it's nobody's responsibility to save you. Nobody is obligated to help you in any way. One day, I just decided that I was no longer going to torture myself. I mean, granted -- I still get anxiety from time to time, which leads me in a very exhausted depressive state, but I pull myself out of it quickly now. I try to be very careful and selective with who I spend my time with. The negative energy some people put out there can be absorbed very quickly. I can't chance it.  It's just too exhausting because most of the time, these people actually enjoy staying there. I do believe that happiness and sadness is a choice.

If you have someone in your circle of friends or a family member you are very close with who tends to be negative, or talks about doom 'n gloom or controversial type of topics, remember that they are trying to get a reaction out of you. Remember, misery loves company. Especially if someone knows your weak spots and all the right buttons to push, they'll manipulate you to feel what they're feeling. They need to relate -- they need to feed off from another negative energy, (if they can find it.) It's as if they want to energize your depression and deepest fear just to be on the same level as you, or to have you need them in some way. The ego loves this. People want to feel needed, that's a given, and it's completely a normal process of our human nature. But when the desire to feel needed becomes codependent or perhaps, dysfunctional, it's time to pull back and see it for what it is. There are times when you're having one of those vulnerable and weak moments, that the negative person comes barreling in at the 'right' time.

The other day a friend of mine called me an "empath". I truly didn't even know what it meant. I looked it up and it reads: "Empaths are highly sensitive, finely tuned instruments when it comes to emotions. They feel everything, sometimes to an extreme, and are less apt to intellectualize feelings. Intuition is the filter through which they experience the world." I guess I'm kinda like a sponge in a way. Whenever someone is depressed, angry or just negative in general, it definitely has a huge effect on me. You can read more about it here and see if you could relate. One of the things that it said was that empaths love their alone time -- to which I do so much! It reads, "Empaths need alone time As super-responders, being around people can drain an empath so they periodically need alone time to recharge their batteries. Even a brief escape prevents emotionally overload. Empaths like to take their own cars when they go places so they can leave when they please."  If anyone reading this knows me personally, I'm sure they're nodding their heads in agreement to this description.

Have you ever been at a very crowded place, say dinner with family and friends or at someone's house where it was jammed packed full of people talking 'n gabbing and having a good time? What were your feelings (if you weren't pounding down the fruit punch)? Did you feel overwhelmed? Did you look for the nearest exit? Were you holding your car keys or mentally planning your great escape? That's me all. the. time. And it's not like I do appreciate being invited to special events or big parties, but it drains the living life out of me. For the next couple of days, I either immerse myself in my work or just keep people at bay for a while. I especially get overwhelmed if someone is talking to me and never letting me say one word, nor letting me out of their grip. It's like they're raping my ear. I can't take it and I feel like screaming. Then again, there are times when I'm overloaded on coffee where I can become quite the Chatty Cathy. So there's that. I'm not perfect either. But I always try to let the person respond and I try to never dominate the conversation.

And then you have good ol' social media. Isn't it interesting to see your own friends reveal their true nature right before your eyes? It's kind of strange, because most people wouldn't say half the things they say in person as they do on the web. I find these people to be complete cowards, only because they aren't brave enough to say what they say to whoever's face they are mocking. While I was online responding to a friend's post regarding a transgender girl's involvement in the girl's track and field, I came across this other woman who is also friends with my buddy. We have very different views, but my friend and I always discuss things with respect. But once I saw this comment, I was kinda wondering if this same woman would have the courage to actually say that in public, or to someone who was transgender. Karen Gavin-Edwards responded to my friends post and said, "And for the record "she" came in 3rd & 5th....Beaten by REAL GIRLS....f*ckin' LOSER!!" It's like -- where does that anger come from? Why are you so upset over this? And how does this affect your life at all? I don't understand that kind of cruelty and negativity. Do people actually think that their comments are private? I understand having a strong opinion against this topic, but to go above and beyond the call of cruelty is just so toxic. I'm really disappointed in people these days. For someone who works for the NYPD, (as listed as her employer on Facebook) -- this scares me a lot. We already have enough problems with our officers being bigoted and racist. Hopefully the more you expose these people, the less they'll be likely to post such hatred so publicly. But even if they don't post the bigotry publicly, they'll secretly have this hatred in their hearts. God forbid she has to pull over someone who is from the LGBT community. Would she give them more of a punishment? Probably so, but I don't like to assume.

T
The negativity, especially on Facebook has gotten so toxic, that now friends are de-friending each other over politics. Listen -- you vote for Sanders, you're a "communist". If you vote for Hillary, then you're a "murderer" and if you vote for Trump, then you're a "racist". So who wins? And for those people who are publicly displaying their candidate of choice on their Facebook walls -- do you truly think that they're trying to inspire or provoke a reaction? Most people want to provoke a reaction. From the many Trump supporters that I have encountered, most of them are racist. I'm gonna put it out there right now. But not all! My wife, who is Latina AND gay is a Trump supporter. So there's that. As I witnessed the riots, most of them come from the left because they are so outraged that most of America seems to be siding with someone who is invoking violence and bigotry. "Seems to be" -- who knows? This year -- I am not involving myself with politics. In fact, I'm not voting. I know, I know -- people died for our right to vote, but I also have a right not to vote. I don't want any part of politics because it's become such a vile and toxic waste of time and conversations with other people. It tears people apart. It doesn't bring people together anymore as it did years ago. And even then, there were still fights over the left and right.

When people discuss politics and religion, especially debating about it -- this is all ego driven. It no longer becomes a belief about "this" or "that". It becomes their identity. So if you insult a candidate, or say you insult their god in some way, then you are directly insulting them. In fact, the mental illness, "paranoia" is a huge element of very own our ego. The ego has to be right, but the ego is also a fear-driven self-preservated beast driven by personal agenda only.

An excerpt from Eckhart Tolle's book, A New Earth says, "The collective ego of tribes, nations, and religious organizations also frequently contain a strong element of paranoia: us against the evil others. It is the cause of much human suffering. The Spanish Inquisition, the persecution and burning of heretics and "witches," the relations between nations leading up to the First and Second World Wars, Communism throughout its history, the "cold War," McCarthyism in America in the 1950's, prolonged violent conflict in the Middle East are all painful episodes in human history dominated by extreme collective paranoia. The more unconscious individuals, groups, or nations are, the more likely it is that egoic pathology will assume the form of physical violence."

Those are examples on a much larger scale. But think about how the ego works when we are dealing with other people with different opinions and lifestyles that we may disagree with. It no longer becomes about the presumed "right" or "wrong" -- it now becomes a personal matter. And then, it'll manifest into some form of paranoia. "I need to get them before they get me." And that's how these political arguments on Facebook are. The ego always needs to be right. But what if we put aside our ego? What if we truly believed in God and realized that politics as well as "religion" is all a worldly thing that ultimately separates us as humans? Nobody can do that because they can't get out of their own way.

I guess it's safe to say that I'll be taking a much needed break from my personal Facebook page. I don't find anyone to be vile or toxic on social media platforms such as SnapChat or Twitter.  I don't understand why the first rule of conversation in public is "no politics, no religion" -- but the first thing that springs up on Facebook is exactly that. And sometimes, you just need a break.

How do you deal or respond to negative people in your life?

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, May 26, 2016

The Best Way to Avoid Disappointment

What may feel important to you may be on the back burner for me. I don't waste my time trying to store my nuts for the future when "now" is all I have. I may not be here tomorrow. I have other thing to worry about, like "now". I can only do my best. I have just enough for each day that comes. There's a story in the Bible talking about manna. Manna is basically, just having enough, or spiritual nourishment for some. But it originally came from the story of when the Israelites had just come out of Egypt. They were in the desert when the Lord said to them, "I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days."

So Moses said, "You will know that it was the Lord when he gives you meat to eat in the evening and all the bread you want in the morning, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we? You are not grumbling against us, but against the Lord."

When they saw the food available to them the next morning, they were told to take as much as they need, to take just enough for each person they have in the tent. The Israelites did as they were told. Some gathered much, some little. Everyone gathered as much as they needed. Then Moses said to them, "No one is to keep any of it until morning." however, some of them paid no attention to Moses. They kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell.

The point of the story is that God gives us what we need -- not what we necessarily desire or want. And of course, God does give us the desires of our hearts, but in His will. A friend of mine had asked me what "abundance" was the other day. For many people, it means affluence or wealth. But it comes to God giving you an abundance in life -- wealth has little to zero to do with it. When God gives you an "abundant" life -- He gives you a life full of joy and inner peace (not as the world gives) but a constant joy that is only supplied by Him. So whether you're in a grave circumstance or going through trials, you can still be at peace with everything around you. That's "true" peace -- true "abundance". And it's very hard to obtain and maintain for that matter. But staying close to God is what keeps me in check. I'm not wealthy, but I feel grateful for what I have...and they're not materialistic things, therefore, I am wealthy. When people solely focus on materialistic or monetary value, they instantly lose peace. I'm not saying just forget about making money and "wish" for it to just magically appear, but to focus your entire life trying to acquire wealth is meaningless. When you try to acquire wealth without heart and find that it never seems to come readily available, you'll start to become envious of those who do have wealth.

A while ago, I chose to let a lot of things go. I decided that it was none of my business what other people thought of me. It's out of my control. I learned a valuable lesson through some hard times. People who hurt you are hurting more than you. Forgive them. I learned that we're all spiritual creatures walking around oblivious to the fact that we're all somehow connected whether we like or dislike each other. I also understand that life is precious as well as vulnerable. Life can diminish at any given second. We choose our joy and grief much sooner than they even arrive. Our minds trick us into thinking that we can't live without "this" or we can't live without "him/her" -- when in reality, we are all we truly have. But in the same breath, God is our comforter. Without trusting God, we become fearful of the future, fearful of losing our loved ones, fearful of life itself. Each day I try to renew my trust in God, because let's face it -- it's hard trusting a Source that's not visible to the human eye. Some people would call me stupid for relying on faith, or to even trust in something that scientifically doesn't exist. But this is what keeps me going. I have seen. I have experienced God for myself. But who would believe me?

Why would God talk to me? I'm a sinner. I don't go to church, I sometimes drink too much and at times, say the wrong things regretfully. I'm not perfect. There are times when I feel like giving up. But in my time of weakness is when God works His strength in me. Every single time I slip down that road of discouragement, He somehow lifts me back up and dusts me off. I try to help the people I love to the best of my ability. I try to help people I don't even know. Sometimes, when you give your all, it can be completely exhausting. And that's OK. That's when God comes in and gives you "manna" -- strength to make it for just that day. There are some days I'm walking around with zero sleep, and this unexplainable energy zaps right through me as if I slept a full eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. But it's all because of my faith. And through my faith, it becomes my reality.

Another thing I have learned over the past few years is that with high expectations come great disappointments. (And maybe not for some.) But for the vast majority, it's a common theme. Think about this: let's say you're wealthy for a great portion of your life. You've acquired a beautiful home, fancy cars, designer clothing, jewelry, etc., etc., etc... Then one day, you lose your high paying job, your house forecloses, your cars get repossessed and basically everything just slips right out from under your feet. You've now lost everything. What happens next? You won't settle for less, but now you're living in the most miserable situation, because you keep thinking about the past -- about the "once upon a time". You're bitter, angry, resentful...disappointed.

What about vanity? Beauty doesn't last forever, neither does youth. If you solely rely on your good looks, also rely on the fact that those good looks are slowly aging. I was once told, never marry a beautiful woman (although I did...nice save, huh?) -- but to marry someone who will make you laugh and someone who can hold a conversation. Beauty fades. Sex fades. What's left after 50 years of marriage? Friendship, right? But those who are only after looks, youth and wealth will find themselves disappointed eventually. Even the wealthiest people aren't 100% happy.

Here are some great quotes from Ecclesiastes:

"Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don't have. Just dreaming about nice things in meaningless; it's like chasing the wind."

"I have observed something else in this world of ours. The fastest runner doesn't always win the race, and the strongest warrior doesn't always win the battle. The wise are often poor, and the skillful are not necessarily wealthy. And those who are educated don't always lead successful lives. It is all decided by chance, by being at the right place at the right time. People can never predict when hard times might come. Like fish in a net or birds in a snare, people are often caught by sudden tragedy."

"Those who love money will never have enough. How absurd to think that wealth brings true happiness. The more you have, the more people come to help you spend it. So what is the advantage of wealth--except perhaps to watch it run through your fingers?"

"Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat well, drink a good glass of wine, and enjoy their work---whatever they do under the sun---for however long God lets them live. And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life---that is indeed a gift from God. People who do this rarely look with sorrow on the past, for God has given them reasons for joy."

Once you stop caring about what other people think of you -- your entire life will change. What other people think of us is none of our business. If someone is to judge us -- let them. That's their issue, not ours. If we're happy with who we are, and what we do, and how we live -- nothing, and I mean nothing else in this world will matter. When people try to control you, or hurt you, remember one thing: hurt people hurt. Hurt people cannot stand to see other people not hurting. Even if they seem to be a good person, it doesn't matter because misery loves company. They fill your head up with negative things, hoping that their "disease" will be contagious enough for you to feel their pain. You can do one or two things with toxic people: you can avoid them at all costs, or you can pray for a hedge or protection when they start rambling off about meaningless things. Try to remain peaceful. And sometimes, silence is your best weapon.

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, May 24, 2016

Oh, Was I Being Rude?

Have you ever ran into someone who was just incredibly cranky or rude to you, and you're just like, "What did I do to you?" I'm usually good when it comes to figuring out people who have had a bad day, who may just take it out on the next person who crosses their path. A couple of months ago I had to go into the hospital due to my myoclonic seizures that were getting worse as my sleep deprivation continued. They really couldn't do anything for me, so the nurse who was helping me was very short and rude when asking me questions -- as if my ailment wasn't anything of concern. Like, okay, whatever. As she was snapping at me with each question, I recognized her. She was the nurse who helped my mother a while back. She was so incredibly warm and polite with mom. I said to her, "Oh, I know you! You helped my mother and she always speaks so highly of you. Thank you for being such an amazing nurse to her while she was sick."

And then tears began to fall down her cheeks.

She hugged me and said, "You have no idea how much I needed to hear that today. My husband left me, I have no cable or electricity, and I feel like I'm at my wit's end." My entire stay was filled with the most amazing bedside manners I have ever witnessed before in my life. When I left, she gave me a huge bear hug and again, said thank you to me.

Yesterday was a really bad day for me. I hadn't slept the night before and I was feel really down. I get those kinda days from time to time and luckily, I am able to manage them better, but sometimes I can get short or cranky at any given moment. (Poor Madelene.) There were a lot of things on my mind that I just couldn't shake. I haven't been like this in a long time, so something was up -- was it hormonal, was it the full moon -- I had no clue what it was. I found myself snapping at Madelene when she came into the kitchen while I was broiling fish. I thought she was right behind me and instantly jerked up and burned my hand on the oven (blaming her of course when it was my own damn fault). I was about to play a little game of grit ball with her.

"I wasn't even near you!" she said, backing away slowly.

I placed dinner on the table and left with my glass of wine to retire into the bedroom like a big crybaby. I seriously had no idea what just happened. I was angry. I was sad. I was all over the place with my emotions. I didn't want to admit that I was having a bad day. I just wanted to stew in my own misery making her think that it was her fault. But it wasn't...

It didn't end there. This morning I was finally sick of the rotting carcass under the crawl space in our home. The first day wasn't so bad. The second and third -- I truly believe someone stuffed a human body underneath there, because now the entire house smells like rotting flesh. We have an account with Terminix, so I gave them a call to see if they could come and remove this dead critter...or human remains. The first customer service rep named Anthony said, "Uhhh, okay, hold on and let me set that up for you." And then I heard someone else get on the line, "Hi, this is Sue, how can I help you?" And I just froze. "Sue? Where's Anthony the rep I just spoke to?" She had no clue what I was talking about. So I had to tell my story over again. She said, "Fine, I can set that up to you, please hold."

"Hello, this is Jacklyn, how can I help you?"

5...4...3...2...1

"I WANT TO SPEAK TO A MANAGER RIGHT NOW!!!"

This rep was so incredibly professional and patient with me that she got everything and beyond scheduled out for me, including a free service that they offered. I apologized to her for my outburst and told her, "It's nice to get a representative who actually loves her job, so thank you." She laughed and said she understood and continued to process my order. She totally knew why I was upset beyond other things that were lurking in my lil' noggin.

But my point of this is -- you never know what someone else may be going through. That rude waitress may have just signed divorce papers from the love of her life. The bank teller that was short with you may have found out she was being laid off that afternoon. The barista at Starbucks who made you the worst latte in the world may have just recently lost a parent. You never know. I'm not saying to be a walking mat or to excuse extremely bad behavior, but sometimes we need to just realize what it is and just give more love to whoever needs it. And while it doesn't seem fair to be nice to someone who isn't being so nice to you, it'll not only feel better to rise above the chaotic emotional outbursts, but God will see what you did as well.

Thing is, we all have bad days. Especially when we don't want to talk about something that's bothering us, it may come out a different way, most likely offensively. So next time someone is incredibly rude to you without a reason, just try being extra nice to them...or you could just run for your life.

Don't take anything personally.

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!