Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Good Vibrations

For some people, expressing themselves is pretty easy. For others, it might be the hardest thing to do. A writer has to be vulnerable enough in order to grab the reader's attention. If the writing is somewhat surfaced, without any depth whatsoever -- (unless it's about technology or gaming types of genres) then you'll most likely lose your readers. People are looking for a commonality with other people. Most people who read my blog are very quiet about their own lives, so they jump onto my blog and realize that their life isn't so messy after all. There aren't a lot of people who have the courage to say, "Hey, I suffer from anxiety and depression," or "Hey, I love God but my life doesn't reflect a perfect Christian so much." Nobody's perfect. We're human and we all make mistakes. "Quiet people" don't want to be seen as "crazy" if they talk about mental health, and in most cases, they don't want to be seen as a "hypocrite" if they're talking about their faith in God. And that's totally understandable. You wanna 'walk the walk' and not just 'talk the talk'.

But...we're all human.

Think about this: if you went to an AA meeting and the director had never touched a drop of alcohol in their life, but they were giving you guidance on how to be clean and sober -- would you take them seriously? It's the same with mental health and Christianity. (Those are the two topics I talk about the most on this blog.) I talk about anxiety and depression because I have it. I also talk about what works for me the best. Maybe it'll help people out there struggling like myself -- even if it's just one person. I talk about my faith in God, although I live an imperfect life. Would you rather hear it from some wealthy pastor sitting in a $10 million dollar megachurch? Or would you rather hear it from someone struggling with finances and yet still praising God as well as someone admitting that they still struggle with sin and yet still reaching out to God? I truly believe that God uses the unexpected person in order to reach out to certain people. Many people are turned off by wealthy pastors in fancy suits who are happy-go-lucky preachers that travel the world because most people cannot relate to that lifestyle.

There are many people quick to judge others according to what they see from an outsider's point of view. I recently witnessed someone badmouthing three of their closest friends within a matter of ten minutes. It was so harsh, so incredibly insensitive and brutal that I just remained quiet. I then realized that all of the things that were being said about these people were all of the things that this one person had gone through. I know I referenced this quote in a previous post but here it is again: what we hate in others is usually what we hate about ourselves. When we speak poorly about another person, it's our own ego trying to make ourselves look better. Projection is very real. It's a defense mechanism that narcissists use that involves condemning others for their own emotions, traits, reactions and behaviors. A narcissist projects without being provoked. Although the narcissist may project their positive attributes onto you (mirror image), most of the time they are scraping the mud off themselves and smearing it onto you. Everything they say precisely describes them, but it's so incredibly twisted that it'll leave you asking yourself the question, "Am I the narcissist?"

We're all made up of energy. Everything around us is made up of vibrations. Remember in science class learning about atoms and how we're all made up of atoms? Atoms are in a constant state of motion. Sound is vibration. Our own thoughts are vibration. So whatever you think about -- your mind manifests it and then sends it out as either negative or positive. Just like that old saying, you can't have a positive life with a negative mind -- your thoughts become your words in most cases. What kind of vibration are you sending out into the world, into the universe?

Now with that being said, I will tell you something very personal about me. (Ah the writer in me is jumping back into the pool of vulnerability again!) When I get depressed, all of my thoughts are usually negative. I try to stay away from people during this time because my thoughts usually turn into words. Being around someone who is pumping out negative vibrations is very contagious. It's very real -- it's physics!  It's not just "in your head" -- but they're vibrations that can affect another person made up of vibrations as well. It's like staying with negative people for a full weekend and then coming home feeling completely drained. Why is that? Why do you think you feel completely exasperated? In turn, the same holds true for positive people. You come back home from a wonderful weekend with them feeling very happy. Although my depressive episodes are short-lived, they are very hard to deal with. So through my own experience of feeling those negative vibrations, I can pick it up in somebody else very quickly. It's very difficult for me to be around a person who is constantly negative and speaking badly about other people. I can't do it -- it totally drains the life out of me. Don't let just anyone in your space -- choose wisely.
(1 John 4:20) "If anyone makes the statement: 'I love God,' and yet is hating his brother, he is a liar. For he who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot be loving God, whom he has not seen…" 
(Matthew 7:1-5) "Stop judging that YOU may not be judged; for with what judgment YOU are judging, YOU will be judged; and with the measure that YOU are measuring out, they will measure out to YOU. Why, then, do you look at the straw in your brother's eye, but do not consider the rafter in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Allow me to extract the straw from your eye'; when, look! a rafter is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First extract the rafter from your own eye, and then you will see clearly how to extract the straw from your brother's eye."
For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Happiness Interrupted

A few minutes after the alarm went off, the sound of four tiny long-clawed paws scurried over to the front door. Lola needed to go outside. It also reminded me that I needed to get her nails cut. The cold air actually felt good. It probably woke me up from the tiny traces of carbon monoxide that somehow seeped in while I was in a deep slumber. Who knows. I don't trust those carbon monoxide detectors anyway, especially when my poorly zoned furnace chimney sits right besides my bedroom window. Nevertheless, the coffee would surely keep me awake for the long haul of the day. Black with a touch of organic maple syrup and a dash of cinnamon -- and my morning is seemingly brighter. I've always dreamt of this life -- this sort of regiment where I make the day's call -- not some mean boss in her fancy office with smiling photos of her family tree plastered every which way. My old structured life felt like a prison. All my creativity was tossed to the side, unless there was a bit of time during the weekend to indulge. There never was. The only vitamin D I absorbed was from the glow of a standard florescent cubicle overhead light -- the kind that made your eyes see double from time to time. I wasn't only stuck living inside a cubicle 8-12 hrs a day, but I was tied up in a curly black cord hooked up from my head to my phone. These days, I have all the freedom in the world: no office, no cubicle, no wires attached to me -- just unadulterated flexibility.

But I got transferred to a new prison: my mind.


First let me just explain that the "writer's life" seems to get a bad rap. We're seen as drifters, or perhaps "unemployed" -- but we're more or less artists (or starving ones). When we work, we get paid. When we don't, we suffer greatly. And sadly, some writers don't get paid at all. Aside from writing, I do freelance video promos for local companies as well as kickstarter foundations to help upcoming actors or authors get funded in starting a new project. Sometimes a simple, (ha, a "simple") project can last anywhere from 3 hours to a 12 hour stretch. Most times, I break it up into two days if there's any sort of wiggle room. Usually, it's a big "I need this yesterday" type of gig -- and I'm okay with that.  And yet I still get a lot of people saying, "It must be nice."

It is.

Sometimes.

Like I said before, I've always dreamt of this life -- a life where I can make my own hours, do the groceries, clean and cook before my wife gets home and have a seemingly "normal" life. But there were things about this type of life I didn't consider: solitude, self-disclipline, a fully stocked liquor cabinet. You get my drift.  It doesn't matter how many video conference calls I'm apart of or if I'm submerged in a long project -- it definitely gets lonely. I miss the chaos of a busy office, where employees would slack off in the midst of all that crazy busyness and chitchat about whatever. For the love of God -- I miss that goddamn water cooler. No amount of technology can replace the physical presence of someone -- that human connection -- face-to-face interaction. As we head into a world that needs less office space and more work-at-home employees due to a cost effective corporate world, some of us may suffer a great deal mentally. And at the same time, there are people incredibly depressed because they feel "stuck" in an office, sometimes not seeing a blink of daylight due to their long hours.

The grass is always greener.

Okay, let's take it a step further: relationships and marriages. There are people out there who are envious over their friends' relationships or marriages. Again with the "Oh it must be nice." But have you taken the time to peek inside their tiny keyholes to realize that all of those big smiling faces you see over on Facebook was one. huge. facade? And granted, while they may be the 'happier than a clam' type of families laughing and giggling after a long game of monopoly -- the majority of family life is pretty much routine, unless you've mastered life itself. In fact, life itself is pretty much routine for most of us.

But we're never happy.

We're constantly searching for that instant gratification type of happiness. The scary thing about instant gratification type of happiness is: it goes away. Then what's left? A pile of bullshit. Depression. Dread. "Whoa is me" dramatic scenes over a bottle of cheap wine. (Ok, that's my story.) But seriously, I've learned (not mastered) that the way to have a stable conscious mentality about the influxes -- the constant ups and downs of life is to have a constant joy.

How Deb! Tell me how!
(Dramatic enough?) 

I can only tell you what works for me when I see myself snowballing into the pit of a depressive episode. Keep in mind that I suffer from anxiety and depression (mostly anxiety) -- so I am speaking from experience and not some idiot who thinks she knows it all. I don't. I'm still trying to figure it all out just like anybody else. But if my experiences and techniques can help someone else -- even just one person -- then my raw (and possibly embarrassing) honesty was worth dishing out on this public platform.

So hear me out if you wish -- my beliefs are strong.

I believe in God. There is a God. This life wasn't meant to spend all your time tiptoeing through the tulips with a glass of chardonnay 24/7 (although I fantasize about that a lot) -- it's meant to kick us in the ass. It's meant to see how strong we really are in this world, until it decides to spit us back out into the Universe, or as I call, "heaven" or "hell". Every single one of us has a cross to bear. And some crosses may look mighty easy to other people, when in fact if they were to take that desired cross, they'd be crying the blues begging God to return their old crosses back. And for those of you who don't know what "the cross" signifies -- it's basically your life -- your "issues" and it symbolizes the cross that Jesus had to carry. To share in Jesus' suffering. So overall: your personal suffering -- your "personal cross to bear".

Quick story to show my point...

A young man was at the end of his rope. Seeing no way out, he dropped to his knees in prayer. "Lord, I can't go on," he said. "I have too heavy of a cross to bear." The Lord replied, "My son, if you can't bear its weight, just place your cross inside this room. Then, open that other door and pick out any cross you wish." The man was filled with relief. "Thank you, Lord," he sighed, and he did as he was told. Upon entering the other door, he saw many crosses, some so large the tops were not visible. Then, he spotted a tiny cross leaning against a far wall. "I'd like that one, Lord," he whispered. And the Lord replied, "My son, that is the cross you just brought in."

I'm still sidetracking here, so bear with me.

You may look at me and say, "Humph, she's got it made staying at home doing freelance work and being married to an amazing woman."  And yeah, I do feel pretty lucky if my mind is in a good place. But step inside my mind when I'm suffering a depressive episode. Feel the dread, the sadness, the self-deprecation monologue that goes through my mind from time to time. Come inside my bedroom as I'm suffering from an anxiety attack, breathing in and out of a paper bag because I'm hyperventilating. Come watch me get hauled out by an ambulance because I think I'm having a heart attack with my heart pumping out over 200 beats per minute. Come stay with me in the ER for over 8 hrs of testing to only find out that the results are not only perfect --in fact, they are better than the doctor's numbers. Watch me get frustrated when the doctor says, "Wow, your blood pressure, cholesterol and EKG look better than mine," and then give me this look that says, "It's all in your head."

It is all in my head.

But it is very real, just as depression is. Psychosomatic physical pain is real. It sounds mentally induced, which it is -- but it is a disorder of the proper functioning of our mental vs. physical pain.

Have you ever heard of the "broken heart syndrome?"


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

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

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

And ONTO my point:

It took me to get to the ripe age of 40 (okay, 41) to realize that life is going to throw us quite a few curve balls. Life is also going to hand us a great deal of joy too. But in the midst of all of the suffering and happiness -- we need to have a constant joy. I've learned that if we appreciate the present moment, or "the now" -- we can learn to adapt to whatever comes flying our way. It's to understand that the past and the future are all illusions. I know, they were real to you and for me, but the past is gone. It magically disappeared -- but our minds dredge it back up again. The past equals depression. The future equals anxiety. Everyone wants to know what their future holds because they have so much anxiety about it, or anxiously awaiting to hear the "good" news. You won't ever hear a psychic telling a bad fortune about someone's future because they'll risk their future business. Would you go back to a psychic who told you that you were gonna die in two years? No.


If I am conscious enough (and this is gonna sound strange) -- I can get out of my head. I can actually enjoy every bit of presence I'm in. As soon as my mind starts giving me that one way conversation that everything's gonna go to shit --I "LOOK" at my mind -- I catch it talking. When I do that, my mind freaks out and STOPS. I learned this through Eckhart Tolle's teachings. There are two forces within us: our Being (our soul) and our mind. Our mind is our worst enemy. That's why you sometimes hear the phrase, "battlefield of the mind" -- there are a few titles with that name too to certain books and songs. When you practice "catching" your mind yapping on 'n on -- you can stop the madness that stems from your anxiety and depression. Practice!!! But when I don't practice enough, I lose it and then I let the anxiety and depression sink back in again. It's a vicious circle. Buy the book, "The Power of Now" -- this book pretty much saved my life. I saw the world much differently and I'm still trying to keep this a constant practice. If you're Christian -- don't worry. It talks a lot about Jesus' teachings as well as the teachings of Buddhism. There's no "set" religious theme here. It's about you and your mind. Because "you" are your soul -- not your physical mind.

I discovered simple joys in life. I remember last year when I first read that book and walking out into zero degree weather in a beautiful winter wonderland with my dog. The sun hit my face and instantly warmed me up. There were crystalized prisms of rainbows within the snowy path we were walking on. The silence was beautiful -- enough to catch me off guard when a hawk came flying down so close, that we were able to see the full length of his wingspan. I think, perhaps it was the most beautiful moment I've ever seen. It may seem mundane or silly, but I took in that very moment and that moment, I will never forget. I also remember my father saying, "If I ever come back to visit you -- I'll come back as a hawk." So for me, it was a visitation from my dad. But you can have these unforgettable moments because you are consciously aware of "the now" and the present time. Mundane things become beautiful -- almost euphoric. Things like, the sound of coffee pouring, catching a beautiful sunrise, your dog staring at you lovingly -- and you think -- this is so beautiful! When you're immersed in your mind, in your head -- those little things disappear. You think about what you coulda' had and what you shoulda' had. You overthink your future and "what if" this doesn't happen or "what if" that happens? You fill your entire time up with anxiety-provoking thoughts. Your mind won the battle.


I want to point out another thing: nothing in this world is going to satisfy you completely. A relationship does not make you complete. A job shouldn't define who you are. Your physical appearance is so minuscule to the "bigger picture" that only God can see. Your purpose in life is not to have the perfect job, the perfect mate, the perfect body the perfect whatever you think is "perfect" -- because the reality is: we are supposed to find the perfections in all of the imperfections of this world. Your world is what you make it: it can be ugly or it can be beautiful. It's your choice if you are conscious enough to realize that our mind can set forth physical transformations in us as well as around us. And hey -- I'm still trying to get to that euphoric sense of enlightenment, but it takes a whole lotta' practice. At least I know that when I do practice this type of mindset -- things around me are beautiful, EVEN IF I am sitting in the ER for 8 hrs with a "fake" heart attack. The struggles are what makes us appreciate life more, even the mundane and seemingly boring events of life.

If your anxiety and/or depression comes from the judgments of other people, just remember that when people criticize you, it's mostly due to a psychological projection of how they see themselves. There's a saying that goes, "We hate in others of what we see in ourselves sometimes." So to rid of their guilt of whatever flaw they think they have, they'll pin it on you instead. (These are some cases.) Why would someone want to criticize you if they are happy with themselves? Wouldn't they want to edify and lift your spirits up? When I'm happy, I want everyone around me happy too. And sometimes, when I'm feeling like a miserable piece of crap -- sometimes misery loves company. Think about it. When people hurt one another, it's a huge sign that they are miserable themselves. Nothing "good" can come out of a person who only holds misery and dread. If they are not happy with themselves, they will not be happy for you. It's psychology 101. But there's a slippery slope with that -- you can have a "people pleaser" who will treat you like gold and "yes" you to death because they're so desperately trying to seek approval from anyone. That's different, yet it's still coming from a negative place of self-deprecation.

I'm not a psychologist, nor pretend to be one. I'm a patient who has a lot of experience in dealing with this type of stuff from the other side of the couch.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us--they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation. And this expectation will not disappoint us. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. --Romans 5:3-5

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

Friday, January 08, 2016

When Your Love Tank is on "E"

There are many books out there about relationships and heartache, 'how-to-be-happy' and 'beat-the-blues' type of self-help literature -- enough to blow your mind, but none seem to ever stick once you put the book down. It's like learning about a new diet. You read about it, go down the list of what foods to eat and which ones not to eat, and then a month later, the practice of this particular diet goes right down the drain. It's unrealistic. As humans, we create a pattern -- a habit -- a ritualistic type of behavior and persona for ourselves. Some say it's genetic, while others say it's not. Like a father who hits his kids just because his father did it to him as a child. Wouldn't he want to give his child the life he wished for himself? But, it's a pattern ingrained in the impressionable mind of a child. "This is OK to do." And as he grows up, he becomes what he thought was "good". He or she ends up doing the same thing to their child, and so the pattern continues and never changes.


Everything we do now has been 'set' from our past. Whatever people do to you is because of something that triggered from their past, no matter how long ago or how recently -- it instills this sense of mistrust. It's not all about you. So if someone cheated on me, I may think that you'll do the exact same thing. I might even obsess over it until I'm proven "right" (because my ego always wants to be right) or, when I'm sadly proven wrong. Strange that I would say, "sadly wrong" -- because that should be a good thing since you weren't cheating on me. But the thing is, relationships go downhill once someone is proven to be loyal. The person who is loyal is now upset that you've insulted their integrity and faithfulness. The process is exhausting to the person being accused. Stranger fact is -- even when one person finds out the other cheated and was "right" about it -- the relationship may get better. The acceptance of bad behavior in relationships seem to cater to that hurt little child inside -- like, "This is OK to do," or perhaps a self-sabatoging type of inner core that stems from childhood. Even sadder is, "I deserve this anyway." It's a lack of love for yourself. If you truly love yourself -- love the inner chid inside -- you would protect them with all your heart. "Nobody's ever gonna hurt you again!" You wouldn't tolerate it, because you love that child so much and they "DESERVE" better, don't they?

But that person will probably never change. It's a pattern of their behavior that's been ingrained since childhood. You can't change something so drastically imbedded in somebody's personality and mind. It doesn't happen overnight because you can't remove the past memories that still linger. So if it happened back then, it can surely happen now. And so, many remain bitter to the thought of "what if", which is sometimes the most dangerous concept to live by. I'm guilty of it myself. "What if" triggers my anxiety and panic attacks -- and as much as I try to remove it out of my mind, it somehow creeps back in. So, I'm not trying to rid of my anxiety, more than I am trying to cope with my anxiety. I realize that it will not change. I need to have better coping skills.

We go into relationships thinking the best possible (hopeful) thoughts about the other person because we get so caught up in the excitement. Both people put on their best "personality wardrobe" -- and sometimes, they layer up so much, that you won't be able to see what lies beneath it all. It could be months or years until you discover what they're really wearing on their back before it's too late, or even after you've married them in some cases.

"This isn't the person I fell in love with."

It's because that one person changed their personality for you just to get the relationship started.  Their "best foot" isn't the damaged little child screaming and crying -- it isn't the victim having the pathetic pity party for one -- it's the confident loving individual who showed you their best side -- who showed you every possible reason to be with them for the rest of your life. (For the rest of your life!!!) And it worked. I even want to say, they have officially "catfished" you in real life. You can be catfished in so many various ways. Stop getting disappointed when your girlfriend or boyfriend of three months has suddenly stopped being that caring and attentive person they showed you they were -- be grateful it happened sooner than later, because you might have found out 2, 3, 4 or 10 years down the road. Most people don't like themselves no less love themselves. So how are they supposed to like or love you? Their own deep-seated misery will eventually creep up to the surface showing you exactly who you chose as a mate.

Ask yourself these questions:
  • Do you like yourself?
  • Do you love yourself?
  • Do you want to protect yourself? (Not insinuating to build high walls.)
  • Have you been hurt in the past and have finally realized that the person(s) who did that to you are totally separate from those you choose into your life today?
  • Do you feel like you deserve the best?  
If you said yes to three or more, Then you're probably ready to start a new relationship. If not, then the same patterns will continue. The maximum 'set out months' of dating will come to a screeching halt as it always 'seem' to do because you haven't made a conscious choice to love yourself. Many times it's dating someone for a few months, to only break up and then make up again. That's a whole other can-o-beans, but it's a vicious cycle, a "pattern" that sometimes cannot be changed. Some people will not change. Some people refuse to change because they need to be in control. They need to know what you're doing at every waking second. They lack trust and question every single thing you do under the sun. When the exhaustion sets in, the unhealthy relationship will either morph into an unhealthier relationship, or just move on to create a new unhealthy relationship.

As I stated above, that I don't believe people's inner core can really change, I do think that they can cope with the cards they've been dealt with. Just like my anxiety. I know it won't magically disappear, but if I learn to better cope with it and adapt to different techniques of helping myself, then it does get better. Because what's the definition of insanity? It's doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. If we learn to change our reaction and response to certain things and situations, then maybe we can cope with who we are and love ourselves more. So in terms of relationships, coping with your own self-love will help you be able to love somebody else. When you're love tank is empty, there's nothing left to give but your raw emptiness.

Are you running on "E"?

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

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Social Slip Ups & Mental Hiccups

There's always a little truth behind "just kidding". It's almost as if someone were to test you over and over again, but ended it with a "jk" or made it out to seem outrageously ridiculous. But the pattern still remains -- the constant joking around and tampering with "what if" -- what if you were to respond the way they wanted you to? Then it no longer becomes a joke. Or perhaps they're just getting it all out there to plant a seed in your mind, this way later on, you might think about what was said? I'm a big joker myself, but I draw the line with sexual innuendos or things that may offend the person a great deal. A "just kidding" doesn't suffice with stuff like that.

Cultural Etiquette.

I'll never forget my friend "Joseph" (we'll go with pseudo names for now) who had a few friends over his house. It was in the middle of February and we had just finished having a snowstorm. Since the roads were all plowed, we made a trip over to his house to join him and his partner for dinner. A few other friends showed up to join us as well. As we were all sitting at the table after dinner talking, one of our female friends was discussing her opinion about multicultural relationships and how they never work out. She's Puerto Rican and speaks Spanish fluently. She's also single. She refuses to date anyone out of her culture which is fine -- that's a personal preference. I totally respect that. Meanwhile, Joseph is Irish and his partner is Asian. My partner is Puerto Rican and I'm Italian -- or "just white" to some people. So we sort of remained quiet as she went on telling us how interracial relationships are a huge "no" for her. She said, "Well, for me it's even hard to be friends with someone who is white. I mean, if I say I'm gonna throw a chancla at her, -- I expect you to know what that means and not ask me every time I reference to something in Spanish. It's just annoying."

Funny, but nobody laughed. They smiled, shook their heads and looked down at their wine glasses. It was such an awkward moment, that I could actually hear what everyone was thinking...and it wasn't nice. Finally, Joseph said, "Welcome to America honey. We speak English here." And even though his partner speaks Japanese fluently and my partner speaks Spanish (not so well) -- nobody was offended. They knew where his little outburst was coming from. He really didn't think that -- but it just came out. He was offended that some girl in his own home who just ate his homemade dinner didn't care for "gringos" as she would refer to white people as. To some people it's a bad term and for others, it's not. It's in that gray area -- but still could be taken as an insult. I decided to join Joseph in his awkwardness and asked our friend, "Then why did you come for dinner? Most of us are white and only speak English."  She then started in with, "Oh -- I didn't mean it that way -- don't be so sensitive -- you know what I mean," and on and on. But it did mean something. She's annoyed with white people who cannot speak Spanish. And I get it -- I think we should have a bilingual country, but the fact is -- we don't. (Not fully anyway.) It's sad because I used to hang out with her a lot, until she said that. And I know that she may have been referring more toward dating than with friendships -- but she did say that she thinks it's hard to be friends with someone who can't speak the language. So, I keep her at arm's length because I always have that in the back of my head for some reason. But hey, I now know what chancla means, and if one goes flying at my head, I'll know who it's from.

So the "just kidding" part in that story was in the form of, "Well, I didn't mean anything by it."

But you said it.

Girl Code.

When you're close friends with someone, especially two female friends, there are unspoken rules. I guess you can call it "friendship etiquette" -- but nonetheless, they are "rules" in my opinion. I'll never forget when my partner and I had broken up 16 years ago. We were separating for a little while and needed to get both our heads clear. One of my closest friends checked up on me. Back then it was AOL instant messenger. There wasn't any phone texting or Facebook to be had (ah the good ol' days) so it was just instant messenger and email. So this huge message box appeared on my computer screen as I was working. "Hey, you ok?" And I explained how sad I was, but doing ~ok~ overall," and her next response was, "Since you broke up with her, do you mind if I ask her out?" I sat there for a moment thinking, "What?!?!?!" There was no "just kidding" or anything to indicate that she was joking around, until she 'heard' my silence. I truly did not know how to respond to something amazingly offensive and hurtful as that. Then she said, "JK!!!" --No. That doesn't work in this case. You don't go there. You never go there. No wonder she's still single.

There are times when I say off-kilter things, but for the life of me, I cannot understand why certain people say the most offensive things to the people they claim to care about.

Gossip Kills Three

For me, there are certain people who I know I can trust with all my heart, to where I wouldn't hesitate to tell them my deepest darkest secrets. I can be 'me' around them, not having to think twice about what they're thinking about me in return. And then there are people who are in my life who have no filter whatsoever -- the kind that's like a loose canon who tells everything about everyone else. Those types of people are the ones I hesitate to be around the most. Because think about it: if they're talking badly about somebody else, then they're probably talking badly about you to that somebody else.

And what does gossip do?

Gossip kills three: the one who says it, the one who listens, and the subject of the gossip. If they gossip about someone else--then you're probably next or you've already been spoken about.

That's actually a rule taken out of Judaism. There's no doubt that people are going to have to speak about others in order to tell a story. The big difference is: how do they tell it? Do they slander others in the process or do they keep a somewhat neutral ground while explaining it? I try not to be judgmental in a any way, but sometimes you have to shut people out in order to live a peaceful life. It doesn't mean you have to hurt them in any sort of way or talk badly about them -- you just need to remove yourself from their life or at least, keep them at arm's length. As soon as I feel like you're one of these gossipy hens with no social cues whatsoever -- the type that blabs on and on about other people, especially people I am friends with or associate with, then I disassociate with you. For me, it's a huge red flag for drama. I don't like keeping secrets about what so-and-so thinks of someone else who is within the immediate circle. It's just not my bag.


I believe wholeheartedly in well thought-out social cues. I believe some things should be unsaid or left alone. I trust my gut feelings most of the time, and I also give the benefit of the doubt in most cases. If your behavior is ruining your friendships and relationships with people, then it's time to evaluate "why". When you start complaining about everyone in your life, then maybe it's time to look at yourself and question, "Is it me...?" The way you make someone feel around you is sometimes more important than words. Do you listen just to respond? Did you put your iPhone away while having dinner with your friend or spouse? Or did you keep on texting the person who you'd rather be with instead? Did you ask someone why they gained so much weight -- as if they didn't know already? We're all human and sometimes we have a subconscious agenda and reason for our madness. We say things that upset people and sometimes, we say hurtful things for certain reasons that are unknown to that person being proverbially shot at. And that's what some people do: they're taking a shot at a loved one for various reasons. Most stem from our own insecurities and others just stem from plain ol' stupidity and lack of social cues. I don't know which is worse.

Thoughts?

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

Friday, January 01, 2016

This is Why New Year's Resolutions Are the Worst (Warning: Very Revealing Inside Look Into My Own Madness)

If we're all striving to be a better person than we were yesterday, then what if yesterday was one of our best days? All of these redundant cliches, platitudes and inspirational quotes told by other people tend to make you feel all warm and fuzzy, but isn't it just a temporary fix to just say, "You're life is messed up, so just get your shit together." Due to my line of work, I network with a bunch of online marketing entrepreneurs, life coaches and seminar gurus -- the kind where you'll most likely never see them having a bad day -- kinda like my chihuahua -- all piss 'n vinegar and revvin' to go to new and exciting places. Words like, "journey", "goals", "achievement" and "success" are all used in order to make you feel as though you don't have those right now, so by listening to people rattle off these highly motivating words will somehow make you wanna jump right out of your chair and do something BIG.

But it's not that easy.

Then New Year's Eve hits and everybody becomes a philosopher with high hopes, dreams and aspirations for the upcoming year. Even making resolutions has been canned these days. Some people call it, "intentions" -- and I like it much better! I was speaking to an online entrepreneur and she was suggesting that the word "resolution" comes with a lot of pressure. So, if we say "intention" -- at least our intentions are to become better at whatever we want to improve at. We all want to get better, right? But is it realistic, especially when aiming at a very high goal?

For instance, if you say you want to lose 30 lbs in the upcoming new year, and one month later, you only see 10 lbs chopped off, you sort of feel discouraged and then perhaps fall back into your old routine. But if you think on a long-term scale of how long it took to gain the 30 lbs, then maybe it'll help you realize that as much time as it takes to gain weight, will actually take the same, if not more time to lose the weight. Nobody has patience.

Some people swear up and down that they're going to work from home or start up a new business of their own. But what does that require? It requires time to develop the money and time to maintain the patience of waiting over a year to only have made an income to support the overhead or stability of keeping a home-based office. A lot of inspiring entrepreneurs make it seem easy when it's actually not. I was fortunate enough to have had a partner help me while going through all the rough patches of trying to make money at home. But it took 10 years and even after those 10 long years, the money wasn't as good as it was sitting in a cubical from 8am to 8pm. But I will say one thing: I have quality of life and the time to do the things I love to do. For me, that's worth more than any dollar can buy me. So it depends on how much patience and how much willpower you have to wait out those low income lulls and aggravation in order to see the fruits of your labor.

I'm gonna put myself out there, but it's the same with mental health. I suffer from anxiety and depression really bad. Some days are good, and some days I feel like the weight of the world is crushing my very soul. Most days are good -- but that's only because I got help. I'll never forget September of 2014. It's still an incredible lucid imagery in my mind. I was at the darkest time in my entire life. I couldn't stop crying. I couldn't go out because I was too afraid to walk out of the door knowing how unstable my emotions were, as well as how unstable the world was. I didn't want to see anyone, I didn't like anybody and most of all, I didn't like myself. I was suffering so terribly with depression, that eventually, the suicidal thoughts came creeping in. And if you know me or knew me on a personal level, you'd think of me as  "bubbly" or "funny" -- always smiling or trying to do something for someone else. I was a "people pleaser" and I felt that I needed to do that in order for people to be nice to me. I was terrified of conflict or someone hurting me. My view of the world and the people around me were so distorted that I actually thought every single person on this earth, including my own family hated me.

I wanted to die.

The mind is very powerful. You wouldn't believe how many lies you can conjure up in that little ol' noggin of yours. I call it "the devil" -- because he's the biggest liar of all. But when we listen to "the devil" -- we start believing a distorted view of the world and how we need "justice" -- or even how we should feel "entitled" and so, we hold grudges, we become bitter and stew in our own misery. And there you have it: a pity party for one. So with my last bit of hope, I picked up the phone and dialed a suicide hotline. I thought that maybe someone would have a tiny bit of compassion for what I was going through. I wanted to know if there were still some genuine people out there in the world -- even if it was a suicide hotline operator. I mean -- I get it -- they're trained to help you to live for the next 2 minutes and the next 2 minutes after that one, and so on... I wanted to hear good things from someone who has never met me before. I didn't want to hear, "Oh snap out of it," or "You're crazy for thinking that!" And I was.

I was directed to this wonderful psychologist who invited me over to her office to talk. I walked into her office with a lot of doubt that she could ever possibly help me. But I was there...alive. I've been through a gazillion therapists and psychiatrists who never thought anything was wrong with me. That should be a good thing, right? They just wanted to throw me kickback pills -- a bandaid for all my troubles, but it only made me worse. They didn't see the Deb who cried for days on end or the Deb who would flip out in a rage because a tiny thing in her life didn't go her way. They didn't see me throw a whole chicken off the deck....along with a crockpot and a few other dinners as well. (It's actually a comical story to be told.) I never hurt anyone physically, but my reactions could sometimes scare the shit out of myself. I was a hot mess. And sure, I can blame it on still grieving for my dad who suffered so terribly from cancer -- a horrible nightmare that I can't get out of my head. How can such a strong man die on us? I don't get it. Life was vulnerable and everything around me was just unstable.

I needed help.

Walking into Terri's office was the best thing I did in my life. Her office was warm and inviting. Her presence was genuine, sincere and caring. Sometimes, I would tell her a traumatic event in my life to only look up and see a tear streaming down her own face. My trust began to build up from there and each time I left her office, I felt as though I could take on the world for that week. And as I got better, I could take on the world for another 2 weeks. I still go to her because my life is always in need of those psychological tuneups. And as she reiterates to me with each email, "Call me if you need me," -- it's not the "call me anytime" type of bullshit that someone will spew off to you. She always takes time out of her day to sit and talk to me even if I'm having one of those 'cray-cray'-moments. She even came to my home once because I felt like I couldn't leave the house. That's incredibly rare.

So my point of this long write up is -- screw the "New Year's resolutions" -- I made a resolution the moment I walked into Terri's office. I wanted to better myself, my mind, my heart and with each session, my battles decreased and I became more aware of my surroundings, especially my reactions to negative situations. I stopped feeding the devil's fire with explosive reactions. I learned that everyone in this world suffers from something -- whether it's mental anguish, emotional turmoil or grief -- we all connect in a world of suffering. It sounds terrible, but that's the glue that binds all of us as "one" -- to share in the suffering. And now I get why they say, "To share in the suffering of Christ" -- to learn that we need to suffer from time to time in order to appreciate the tranquil moments of life. We need to go through the pain of life in order to make us stronger and to have more endurance to go through another round of chaos. Life isn't always going to be peaceful. Life is going to be full of things we don't want. But what if we can view life as a swinging pendulum that goes back and forth to the good and to the bad and back to the good again?

I get a lot of people asking me, "Deb, why are you so incredibly open with this personal stuff?"

Because maybe someone will relate to what I've been through and what I still go through. Because the fact is: every single person has their own "crazy" -- and when they try to hide it long enough, it'll eventually come to a head in whatever form. I'm open about this because I want my feelings to be fluid -- not trapped inside this vessel I travel in -- but pouring outwardly disposing of these toxic energies. I think that's the whole point of therapy as well. I think every single person on this earth who breathes in air should see a therapist. We live in a scary time and there is nothing wrong with admitting that you need help in some area of your life -- or perhaps all areas of your life. It makes you more human -- more approachable and even more likable, because we'll both look at each other and nod, saying, "Yes, I can definitely relate." And how beautiful is that? The realization that we are all connected and have an infinite amount of love for one another on a cosmic level; on a spiritual level? We may not like one another in this third dimensional crazy world we live in -- but underneath all of that surfaced 3-D illusion, there is love.

And that's our foundation.

Throw those resolutions out the door and work on you every single chance you get. And if you fail, remember that there is no such thing as failure. There's only more chances to get it right the next time around.

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

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

From Soup to 'Nuts'

It's strange how some things may appear as one way, when actually it's the total opposite. Speaking on a lesser scale -- I can offer you a cupcake and you'll say "no" when in fact, it's the one thing you've been craving all week. "No" can be a self-discipline type of mechanism that we use in order to better ourselves in some way. Even the word "love" can be a self-discipline type of mechanism. For instance, two people can be totally in love, but the relationship itself is very unhealthy for whatever reason. Sometimes, the words, "I hate you" is screamed out, when in fact the words, "I love you" still remains deep in the heart. I remember an ex of mine screamed out, "I hate you!!!" I was so shocked -- so hurt beyond words, that I could barely even respond. A few days later, I had to ask, "You hate me?" The words kept repeating themselves inside my mind. "I HATE YOU!" That's all I could think or hear during the days after those words were said. I couldn't shake it. So when I asked her, "Do you really hate me?" She said in a very low tone, "No Deb. I don't hate you. In fact, it's the very opposite." I didn't get it until years later of course. It still hurt, even after knowing she still loved me. But my point is: we sometimes save ourselves from ourselves by proclaiming the opposite. We know that "this" is bad for us, so we proclaim our feelings to match the circumstances. You can love someone with all your heart and yet the relationship still remains very unhealthy. So by saying, "I hate you" (as dramatic as that sounds) -- those words will definitely push the other person away. Sometimes, people think it's the only way. I mean -- who wants to be with someone who hates them?

Here's another example of proclaiming the exact opposite of what you want:

"I don't want to live anymore."
"I just want to die."
"I want to kill myself."
"I wish I was dead."

All of the above statements are to be taken very seriously. But sometimes, it's just a cry for help. Most times, those words -- those phrases actually say, "I WANNA LIVE!" I'm even guilty of using these phrases myself when I'm in a deep depression. When you have depression and you're in the midst of a dark depressive episode -- you're not fully living. It's' like a heavy fog that never seems to lift. The person may think, "Well, if I'm going to live like this, then I don't want to live at all." But yet -- the person desires to live -- to live a life that's more fulfilling. That's the wish -- it's not death -- it's life that's being wished for. Many people don't understand this type of thinking, especially if they've never experienced clinical depression before. Even when the words, "I don't wanna live" are muttered out, that can be taken very seriously by a professional or someone who really doesn't know you well enough. That could be good or bad depending on your level of depression. If the depression is so bad that those words are actually borderline truth, then not taking it seriously can jeopardize your very own life. But how do you really know? That's the seriousness of it. But many people will just rattle off these phrases in order to try and scream out, "I WANT A BETTER LIFE! I WANT TO LIVE!" But the words aren't heard -- the only thing that is being heard is: "I wanna die." 

"But I wanna live..."

Some things we deem to be true are actually the exact opposite or not as they appear to be, as well as drastic changes that happen without major realizations of it.

Death is another word for eternal life.
The end is always the start of a new beginning of something else.
The color white is every color of the rainbow.
Someone's sunset is somebody else's sunrise.
Babies are born into this world, while other lives are dying out of it.
Sickness turns into health, and health turns right back into sickness. (Think about that.)
Parents and children eventually swap caregiving roles.
There's a fine line between love and hate.
There can't be sound without silence.
There can't be objects without space.
There can't be lightness without darkness.

I think many of us need to take an intuitive approach to how we handle people and certain situations. For instance, I learned that when people are hurting on the inside, they tend to project their negative feelings and hurt those around them. I had a "friend" on Facebook write something a bit offensive toward women, but somehow, I read right through his cry for help. I'm going to share his post anonymously. We'll call him, "Ed".

Ed: "I had a weird moment earlier in the week when I realized that I've been divorced longer than I was married. That's some weird stuff. I know something about this nonsense that I'm gonna share with you. Women are smarter than men. Women can flip a switch in their heads, and you don't exist any more. You become persona non grata. You don't exist, and you never did. Men can't do that. Men become alcoholics and drug addicts and suicide victims because they obsess over women. If I were to sum up the difference between men and women, I'd tell you that women march into family court like they're on some mission, like it's a hostage situation, and they're freeing themselves from some imaginary "situation." Men slink into family court knowing that they've broken something that they can't possibly fix. You can't fix something when you don't exist. It's as simple as that."

From what you just read, (especially if you're a woman) -- did you find yourself becoming defensive? Did you take Ed's post to mean, "women are absolutely heartless creatures", or did you look into it deeper and realize how hurt this man is? The ego will twist this post into a 'me-me-me' type of scenario and lash out with offensive comments back -- which inevitably happened. I commented and just said, "I'm sorry. That's all." --- That's what he was looking for -- someone to just say, "Yanno -- this really sucks and I'm sorry you're going through this," not -- "That's not true! That's rude and inconsiderate and I'm offended!" He wasn't looking for an argument. Maybe subconsciously he was, but more so, his pain was writing that post. He was actually implying that he loves women so much that his vulnerability makes him feel hostage to women -- not women in general per se. Read into someone's words next time you feel offended.

Some things mean the exact opposite.

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, December 18, 2015

My First Love

It's easy to say, "I'm Christian" and easier to talk the talk, but how much harder is it to actually walk the walk? We're all human and I truly believe that we are all connected on such a cosmic level that we don't even realize that even if we seem to fall out of that "Christian box", or {standard way of worshipping God} that nothing can ever separate us from God. But what if we get too sidetracked to the point of not receiving the gifts of God in the 'here and now'? I have learned so much this year in regards to how God works in my life. I noticed that I pray more when I'm struggling with something. I prayed endlessly hearing about my mother's cancer diagnosis. I prayed each time she went through radiation, chemo and all of those grueling operations and procedures to make it all better somehow. I prayed and prayed and prayed. I never prayed so much in my life. When I finally received an answered prayer that Mom was now cancer-free, I thanked God immediately. And then somehow along the way, I forgot to pray. I got 'busy' -- there were things to do, people to see and work to be done. There were many problems that "I" could fix on my own...so I thought.

And then I needed God again.

On the night before my surgery, I started getting a horrible panic attack. My breathing became shallow and my heart rate sounded more like the motor of a Harley Davidson. I grabbed a paper bag so I could breathe into it. That usually helps for whatever reason. And then it hit me: PRAY. I shut the door behind me, lit a few candles and prayed my heart out until tears started streaming down my cheeks. I prayed for God to take my fear and anxiety away and to remind me that my eternal life was much more important than my earthly one. I meditated for quite a bit. I then felt as if someone was pouring water over my head, and onto my shoulders and then into my heart. I felt God. My heartbeat slowed down and I became so calm, that I felt this euphoric sense of awareness. He was with me. I wasn't scared anymore. That night, for the first time in months -- I slept for 8 full hours before I had to wake up and drive off to the hospital. My fear had left and I was actually excited to have this surgery done.

For me, when worldly things distract me, I sometimes forget my first love: God. I forget that He is always here anytime I need help or comfort with anything.  During and after my surgery, I had quite a few complications that put me right back into the hospital a few days later. At one point, I seriously thought I was dying as they carried me out from a ct scan and onto a mobile bed from convulsing and having irregular heartbeats. I had to stay overnight to check for numerous things -- from surgical infections and for heart problems as well as blood clots and pulmonary embolisms. Good God I was a hot mess! And in the midst of all the chaos and fear, I saw God once again.

If God brings you to it, He'll get you through it. And He did.

After all those things had subsided and I was back home convalescing, I learned many things. Thank God for what happened because I would have never realized all that was going on. For starters, I now know that I should never look to people for comfort -- to never rely on people who truly don't care and love you as much as God does. It taught me to never expect anything from anyone because it will only lead to disappointment. Aside from my wife, I became more of a "possible nuisance" to the people closest to my heart without asking them to lift a single finger. Not a simple phone call of "Hey, how are you feeling," or even a visit to see if I needed anything. I didn't want anything. It was far from a pity party -- it was more of a realization. It was as if I had a tooth pulled. "No biggie. She'll get through this." 

And of course I did.

But that's not the point.

Not only was this hysterectomy physically draining and painful for me, but the emotional aspects of having this done meant that my dreams of ever holding a biological child again would never happen for me. But God reassured me that my life here on earth is more than just having a child -- it's more about helping other people and becoming closer with those who appreciate me in their lives, as well as taking me seriously. It's about creating a desired family, to whom I connect with emotionally, spiritually -- not necessarily by blood relation. I think many people hold this false illusion of connectedness with their biological family due to more of an obligation, as opposed to a genuine desire to be in their company. No wonder so many people get depressed during the holidays -- they're expecting the best out of people who don't have their best interest in mind.

The mind can be convinced, but the heart must be won. ~Simon Sinek

And that's just it: no one has ever won my heart over. No one has ever proved their genuineness to me. Why should they? They have their own crosses to bear and lives to live. I get that. But in times of difficulties and possible life-threatening situations, you'd think, or perhaps you'd like your closest klan there to be with you or at least, to have them ask, "Hey, you OK?" I guess it hurts knowing that fact, and at the same time it's a relief to have discovered it as well. No one is guaranteed a lifetime warranty of friendship, love and family. No one is obligated to check up on you or help you in your time of need. If you don't do things from the heart, then it's just all meaningless or done with a strange ulterior motive. And who wants that?

Sometimes letting go can be the most liberating thing you can do. For this reason, I'm closer to God than ever before.

I will never forget my first love again.

“Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” (Revelation 2:4).

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!