Thursday, May 21, 2020

Your Mental Health During the Pandemic

Image Credit: TZIDO SUN / Shutterstock
The other day I was watching Governor Andrew Cuomo use his new slogan, "How are you...really?" He was explaining how he was concerned with the overall mental health crisis that has risen a lot more since the pandemic. Mental health crisis lines have gone up 30% since March, and some people who have never even struggled with panic attacks or debilitating depressive episodes are experiencing this challenge for the very first time. You have to think about the life changes that we are all facing. Transitional "life changes" that affect us mostly are, death, divorce, loss of employment, moving, loss of home and financial problems.

The COVID Reaper

Many people are on social media airing out there opinions and whatnots. Some are downplaying the virus, while not having to experience the loss of a loved one to COVID-19. Most of the same types of people don't even know one person who contracted the virus. So, they start putting these strong opinionated articles, (most conspiracy theories) that the virus is a hoax, or it's not as bad as people think. Then you have someone reading their posts, thinking---"I just lost my mother to COVID and my two colleagues at the hospital died!" The virus is real---no doubt. I just wish that when people post articles like these, they would remember the people who are grieving due to this virus. It's insensitive and careless. I get it---quarantine the sick, and let the healthy go out into society again. But the tricky thing is, COVID can be contracted from somebody who isn't even showing symptoms. In fact, today there was an article about Alabama lifting the lockdown. They had recently flattened the curve and was ready to reopen the state. Now their ICUs are once again, filled at capacity because they saw a spike in COVID cases. So, you decide what's best for you to do. The people who are grieving over their lost loved ones would say four words: "I told you so."

Future: Unemployed & Homeless

As many of us are experiencing unemployment or the loss of our small business, we're also dealing with the possibility of the loss of our ability to pay for our homes, whether you rent or own. The fear of losing your home is devastating. So many thoughts can flood your mind like, "Will I be homeless? Do I have to ask relatives to take me in? Do I have to stay at a shelter? Will I be able to rent or buy a smaller home?" When the possibility of losing your home or business takes priority in your mind, you may feel as though you had something to do with the loss, or that you didn't do enough to keep your home or business. A false sense of failure may seep into your mind, and with that, depression can quickly escalate into suicidal thoughts. And that's where some people are at right now.

Domestic Disputes & Divorces

The average family wouldn't even think about the people who are struggling with their own spouse behind closed doors, especially if one is abusive. Things can be tense as it is when both spouses are home for a long period of time. I remember when my dad retired for the first time in his life, he developed an addiction to the QVC and cooking networks. All he did was max out his credit cards on crazy cooking ware that never worked and nearly burned down the house in the beginning. I'd get a call from mom, "Oh Gawd Deb, he bought another Magic Chef and now he has 22 in the pantry." I kid you not--when I moved out of that house, we literally left his Magic Chefs inside the pantry room. I giggled and shuffled back out of there. So that's on a very minimal "can't take him anymore" case. But some people are dealing with abusive partners and cannot escape at all. Some couples are divorcing, many families are splitting apart due to the rise in tensions. Don't forget about all of the parents home schooling their children. This isn't easy at all. They can barely get their mind off how to get food on the table, no less teach their kid about algebra for the first time.

Isolation

Isolation is no joke. It can literally screw with your mind and your ability to think clearly. We're social creatures, and we need human interaction. For me, since I work from home and don't mind being a little antisocial from time to time--it wasn't all that bad the first month. But I miss having my sisters and my in laws over, I miss visiting family and going to see my friends every now and then. To be forced into isolation is a whole other story. Those who are social butterflies are in complete shock right now. In fact, I'm kind of worried about one of my friends who is so used to going out every single day to see their friends--I haven't heard from her since the pandemic and she hasn't called me back. That makes me nervous. Check on your loved ones. Keep calling until they answer. Don't be a stalker--just keep trying here and there. Depression can manifest in many ways. Sometimes people do a disappearing act, or they'll lash out in anger. Other forms of depression can mean abusing drugs and alcohol. I can't emphasize enough: check on the ones that went silent! They're not okay.

Keeping Sane During the Lockdown
(There are things I do to maintain a level of sanity.)
  1. Pray and meditate. For me, prayer is the most effective way for me to start feeling better and hopeful. Prayer is letting everything go and talking to God about all of your worries, your fears and what's deep inside your heart. Prayer is also thanking Him for everything He has provided you with. Meditation is sitting in His presence, silently. Sometimes, I can feel a wave of chills (comforting tingles) that immediately give me a feeling of peace. 
  2. Music is therapeutic. When I'm having a little anxiety, I will pick up my guitar and play for an hour or two. Sometimes, I'll just light a few candles, put on my favorite music and reminisce about good times and hope for more to come very soon. 
  3. Gratitude. Every single morning, I write down at least five things that I'm grateful for. It usually ends up being more than ten. Simple things like thanking God for running water, a roof over your head, the bed you slept in---not everyone has those provisions. Thank Him for the breath in your lungs and the ability to make it through this difficult time. 
  4. Exercise. You don't have to do a triathlon to exercise. (Certainly not for me!) Even if it's rainy, I will walk 30 minutes inside my home. I have an elongated open concept living space where I can power walk at length each side. Granted, there are no hills, but it does help me mentally. When I'm feeling ok physically, I sometimes walk the hills of my neighborhood which is a good workout too. 
  5. Go outside. Even if it's for 10-15 minutes, bring yourself to get outside of the house for a little while. The sun provides a generous amount of natural vitamin D and helps to improve our mood.
  6. Cook! One of my favorite things to do is cook, as you all know. I not only do it for my food blog, but I genuinely love to cook a healthy meal for Madelene and myself. Cooking is a form of art, and if you don't know how to cook anything, just go to Youtube and follow the instructions. Just make sure you have a fire extinguisher handy! 
  7. Watch a comedy. Find something that'll make you belly laugh. I just watched the movie, "The Wrong Missy," with David Spade. Madelene heard me howling with laughter from upstairs. I try not to watch too much TV, but when I do, it has to be a comedy or a light-hearted drama. 
  8. Stay in contact with your friends and family through video chatting. I can't stress this enough. You need to be in communication with those you were in communication with before the pandemic. This helps to improve your mood because it gives you a sense of socializing---and it is in a way, but right now, it's important to stick with it. It does remove the feeling of isolation temporarily. 
  9. Read. I'm not talking about reading some bias article from social media. I'm talking about grabbing an old fashioned book that you can physically open with pages and read the entire thing. It'll take you out of your reality and into another world. You can bring the book outside or sit on your sofa with a nice cup of chai tea and relax. I will never give up reading books with pages. Kindles and digital books never did it for me. I will never convert.
  10. Stay on a routine! Go to bed at the same time if you can and make sure you get enough sleep. Sleep is one of the biggest immunity builders, so it's also important physically. But having a routine (no matter what is may be) will help with your general ability to not go completely insane. At night, before I go to bed, I light a few candles, and do deep breathing exercises with guided meditations from Youtube. I cannot tell you how much this has helped me. 

While the suggestions above can be helpful, sometimes it's just not enough. There is a number you can call if you feel depressed or having a panic attack.

Orange County Crisis Call Center (OCCC) officially opened on April 1st, 2019 and is composed of a team of experienced and highly trained professionals. The calls are answered by clinician-staffed telephone support and outreach unit that is available 24 hours a day at 1-800-832-1200 to anyone in the county in need of emotional support or crisis intervention. This is not a suicide hotline---this is a number that you can call if you are experiencing a bad panic attack or having a mental health crisis and just need somebody to talk to. You don't have to go through this alone. There are people who truly care about you.

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

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The Pandemic Outrage

This room at Wilson High School in Pasadena was converted into a flu isolation ward during the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic. (Photo courtesy of Mark Landis)
We've all entertained the possibility of something devastating to hit the U.S. soil, no less the entire world, but I had imagined it a bit differently. If someone would've asked me before March of this year, "Something is going to wreak havoc on the entire world, including the U.S.! Millions of people will die,"---I would've instantly thought maybe a nuclear war, or some sort of terrorist attack planted in each country, in each state and in each province. The thought of some virus or plague is more science fiction than anything else, but then again, we came close with the Ebola outbreak, and it's still happening in some parts of the world. There's even a section on the CDC website on what to do if there is a "zombie apocalypse." FEMA also has a page dedicated to the "zombie apocalypse" in a more light-hearted way.

In January, when I first started seeing citizen's footages over on Twitter of the new virus in Wuhan with people just falling on the streets dying, body bags by the dozen taken into trucks and people in huge trucks disinfecting the empty streets, I thought, "Wow, that would never happen here. God help these people." It's as if we think the U.S. is invincible for some reason. We're not. We're extremely vulnerable. If 9-11 hasn't taught us anything, then we have a real problem. That tragic day hit the hearts of those who lived out in the west coast and throughout the world. And we got through it. People were actually being helpful, nice to one another and there was a sense of community. But with the Corona virus, it seems like people are dividing....politically...religiously...and personally.

The fact is, nobody (especially your average civilian) truly knows anything about this virus. I don't even think our top officials know much about it. Hospital protocols keep changing daily because they seem to find new ways of protecting their patients and themselves. New information always comes up, for instance---if you've already had COVID-19, you can get reinfected....or can you? Or, if you had COVID-19, now it's known to give strokes, blood clots and heart attacks. Some "experts" say to stay away from NSAIDS, (ibuprofen) as it seems to worsen symptoms of the virus. And some experts say it's fine. Governor Andrew Cuomo said that the lockdown was only going to be two weeks. Well, two months later, we're looking at another extension, while businesses are shutting down and people are having a hard time collecting unemployment. The new update tells us that schools may not reopen in September. What will parents do? Keep homeschooling their kids? Keep sheltering in place?

Then you have your friends on social media giving their two cents. Everyone and their mother has become a virologist and scientist overnight. This is all new to us. Wearing masks in public is something we never imagined. "Oh, you're wearing your mask wrong! Don't wear a mask! Always wear a mask! Wear gloves! Don't wear gloves!" Nobody knows anything. It's all fear-based assumptions at this point. Some believe that the virus "isn't that bad," while other people are losing family members and seeing their loved ones suffer from a horrible condition. You can't even be with them in the hospital.

Do we keep the country on lockdown or do we just get out there as if nothing happened and hope for a herd immunity cure? Then you have the debate about the vaccine. Some folks believe the vaccine will be coming soon and that all will be fine. Others think it won't be anytime soon, in fact, it'll be about two years. Some religious folks feel that we are living in the end times of the Revelations in the Bible. I'm Christian as well, and feel that we are definitely close, but no one knows the hour nor day. They got through a pandemic 100 years ago, we can hopefully do it again....right? Or do we have to live with this new virus that will always be here? Will we always have to wear masks and keep a safe distance from everyone? Or will it mutate into something of a lesser scale, making it into a cold or flu-like illness (to which it is for many healthy people?)

I don't have an opinion, because there are no "secure" facts. I understand each side of the coin--whether you are for the shutdown or you're all about getting back out there and reopening your business again. Maybe I would have a stronger opinion (on each side) if my income was based on the small business that I own down the road, or if I was elderly or if I had an autoimmune disease, but I don't. I have asthma, so it does worry me, but my opinion lies somewhere in the middle with all of this.

Here's another "logic" I don't quite understand. Some people believe, that if you are healthy and want to reopen and live life again, then do it. If you are unhealthy and have a low immunity or you are elderly, then stay home. So my question is, if someone has the virus and they're not showing symptoms, then how do you know that everybody is "healthy?" But I get their point. Quarantine the sick, and let the "healthy" people out---but it's not that simple. My mind toggles around each scenario, each strong stance against this or that.

I do have a strong opinion on one thing: social media is the devil. It somehow turns people into "virologists" and "doctors," yelling and screaming their strong opinions--even public shaming others for their beliefs. People are dividing and we're becoming animalistic morons. Since literally nobody knows the facts, and I don't give a rat's ass if you're one of those conspiracy nutters---the truth is---nobody knows the truth. Is it hidden? I don't know. And guess what---neither do you. This is all new to us. We never wore masks into grocery stores or to just get gas for our cars. We never had to disinfect our steering wheels after shopping for food or stand two meters away from loved ones. So give people a break if they're doing something you don't agree with. Stop the bullshit and realize that we have so much misinformation out there---it's enough to blow our minds. We're confused and it's solely based on fear. All of our anger and public shaming on social media is based on one thing: FEAR.

Fear of what?

For some, it can be the fear of getting sick, or the fear of their loved ones, parents, grandparents and immune compromised family members getting sick.

It's also the fear of the government taking complete control. Some people fear that we are all going to be placed into FEMA camps like they did in Nazi Germany. Here's a scenario: say officials take you away from your home because you have too many people living with you, is it because they're throwing you into a FEMA camp, or is it to quarantine you into a safe facility or hospital so it'll stop the spread of the virus? Who do you trust? Many people say that history will repeat itself, and that's something I also believe in, but in this case, I also see the logic in safe quarantining.

In the beginning of this pandemic, I did have a strong opinion. I was all about the "shelter in place" for two weeks, so that the virus would go away, like we were told. But that didn't happen. For my own personal reasons, I will remain sheltered in place, just because I don't think my asthma can handle the blow, but for my seemingly health friends and family who own small businesses, I really can't give them advise, because they're losing what they worked so hard for, and also losing their homes! They can't put food on the table and at this point, everything is---UNCERTAIN, which is a scary feeling. So, should we die in fear of dying while sheltering in place? Because that's what this lockdown is doing. Or is the lockdown to save our lives, to only go out into the world to realize that our lives are now lost and homeless? If you're wealthy, you probably have nothing like that to worry about, except for a few stocks that crashed or maybe you had to sell your Bentley Continental GT Convertible. Whatever position you're in, are you completely sure that what you're going on are solely based on facts?

For now, I'm the monkey in the middle. I truly have no opinion. Also, my political views have shifted straight into the middle as well.

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

Friday, February 28, 2020

Choosing Life Through Repentance

There's really nothing you can say when somebody loses their favorite person in the world to a horrible disease. Some say, the worst kind of grief is losing a child, and others say the worst kind of grief is losing a mother or father. I say, the worst kind of grief is losing someone who had your heart, whether it be your spouse, parent, child or sibling. Even losing a close friend is absolutely devastating. Loss can be devastating to many people. Even the final loss of our childhood home was traumatic for everyone in my family. Just because I still lived there because we were caring for mom and dad doesn't mean those in my immediate family who didn't live there didn't feel the heartbreaking pain of the thought of, "I can never return there ever again." My sisters mourned over the loss of our childhood home because it symbolized our youth, our togetherness, our upbringing, our family holidays, lazy Sundays sun worshipping by the pool---all in all, it symbolized, "home." God promises us that whatever we lost in our lives, that He will give us recompense for our troubles. It's when we lose all hope in our mindset is when we stumble. We have to be prisoners of hope, to be able to be released from the prison of grief, anxiety and depression.

I haven't been blogging for quite some time. I've been focusing on my other work, like my editing and advertising, but my will to write somehow got lost with my prolonged grief. I haven't been broadcasting either, which I always enjoyed doing. I feel the urge lately, but something inside me just can't press the "go live" button just yet. So this is my first attempt to grabbing onto my "new normal" as I've been having a difficult time with my anxiety lately. The transition of moving from one home to another really startled my little noggin. And when your mind isn't right, your heart isn't right either. So needless to say, each morning I still wake up with a racing heart, but I push through it knowing that if God needs me back home, then that's what I'm gonna trust. I can't let fear guide me through life anymore. I just can't.

First thing's first: I turned to God for help. I've been studying the Bible---not the way I used to. This time, it's one chapter at a time, and most times, it's just one parable or paragraph at a time so I can absorb it and truly grasp the meaning behind a lot of the symbolism/parables in there. I've also been doing concordance studies, focusing in on my ailments and issues in life and seeing what the Bible has to say about it. This has given me so much comfort. In fact, I'm not the same person anymore.

I'm not the same. Thank God.

My 17 years of writing has come to an interesting fork in the road, (this includes my book.) I am taking down the first book I wrote called, "A Prayer Away From Healing." Again, I'm not the same person as I once was. My views and beliefs are so much different today. I've been praying to God to take out my old stony heart and to replace it with a new one, with new and right desires. I asked the Holy Spirit to fill me, so that I can be whatever God needs me to be. I had to let go of control and be who God says I am.

Now, I may lose some of my friends and possibly part of my family, but I'm doing this for me and for my relationship with God. I'm doing this for Madelene and I'm doing this for people who bought my book, or who have read my blog entries---I'm doing this so that I don't lead people down the wrong path. What I'm about to tell you may come to you as a shock, may be even insulting or it may sound like I'm trying to "fake it tillI make it," as I once thought that about this lesbian couple who tried to take us into their ministry at the age of 23---to show us a better life. I've written in various articles how I thought they were living a lie---how can people who love one another give up their "lifestyle" and say that it's a better life now? I was still on the milk back then---a baby in Christ trying to get to know Him. I was always offended or taken aback by what other Christians said about being gay or being in a lifestyle that God may deem "unnatural."

But it's not about "not being gay." It's about idolization. This goes for everyone really.

It says, "Sometimes I wish everyone were single like me—a simpler life in many ways! But celibacy is not for everyone any more than marriage is. God gives the gift of the single life to some, the gift of the married life to others. I do, though, tell the unmarried and widows that singleness might well be the best thing for them, as it has been for me. But if they can’t manage their desires and emotions, they should by all means go ahead and get married. The difficulties of marriage are preferable by far to a sexually tortured life as a single."---1 Corinthians 7:7-9

It simply states that anyone who cannot keep their "passions" and "lust" in check should definitely marry. But sometimes, when we marry and have kids---all the beautiful things we may think is right for us, could actually be separating us from God. To place anyone or anything before God is essentially making them an idol. But it's not that "strict and demanding" as it sounds. In a simplified personal version of mine: I just want to focus on God. I never felt close to God when I was living a life God didn't have planned for me. When we're not in line with God's word, then we feel like something is missing. And we can't "try" and not sin---the Holy Spirit will fill you if you ask it to come live inside of you. It's the Holy Spirit that changes us, because as humans, we cannot do it ourselves. I know I couldn't have done this without God.

It took me 27 years to get to this place. I think about the old me and cringe over some of the past stuff I've been involved in. It is soooooo much better on this side. With understanding and discernment, I can look back and press play and see it unfold before me. I can see my insecurities, my fears, my skewed thinking and most of all, my words "on paper" that may have left some people confused of where they are right now at this very moment.

The only thing that I'm repenting about is not making God #1. Even though I said God was number one, my time, my backsliding, my lack of knowledge of scripture said a lot. I'm not perfect by all means. I'm still a sinner praying without ceasing. Even if we backslide, God says to keep going---focus on Him. Don't let the devil make you feel guilty for backsliding---just keep going and BELIEVE that God will get you through any obstacle in your life.

Keep in mind, that when you let go of your control and let God inside, you're still going to have opposition---you're still going to climb up steep hills and sometimes stumble along the way, but He will pick you up, dust you off and make you new again. The challenges I had with losing my mother---the woman who truly had my heart was a fiery test I had to go through. But what actually happened after her passing was that I got so much closer to God than I can even imagine. My thoughts slowly started to change, my thinking and beliefs started to morph into a straight line and accordance to God's word. There was a day where I was just like, "I get it! I get it now!"

I keep wondering, did my mom beg God to change my heart when she got up there once she knew the truth? Or did something just 'click' once God revealed the bigger picture to me? I'm not sure what happened, but I know that I will never regret this decision. I don't have that feeling of doom anymore---the unsure feeling of "What if God says, 'Depart from me, I never knew you?'" I couldn't go through life with that over my head. This life is fleeting. In a blink of an eye, you can be gone just. like. that., and I want to be sure that I know that I know that I know, that I'm right with God.

I may lose some of my followers and readers for this decision, and that's okay. I appreciated everyone reading my articles and sharing with me. I'm not judging anyone who is living differently than I am, I'm just trying to focus on making God #1 in my life, without distractions. Trust me, being that I have a lot of "Ooooh something shiny" moments---I have to keep focused. If not, I will definitely lose myself in the process.

This took a lot to write. I didn't have to tell you my personal journey, but God keeps pushing me to do so, because so many of you have my book, and have seen my articles about my old life, and I need to be upfront and honest with you....publicly. I think this has to be the hardest post I have ever wrote, and one of the most refreshing things I ever wrote as well. Please know---nobody brainwashed me or threw me into some weird cult or "prayed my gay away." God led me up to this very moment.

For those who prayed for me in the past, while I lashed back in anger over your "judgments" ---thank you. You know who you are.

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

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

This Old House

When we finally planned to move out of our old ancestral home, I swore up and down that I would never go back for a visit. I knew what that meant for me. After cleaning out my parent's walk-in closet, tossing the suits in one pile, sweaters and shirts in a another, memories of when they wore these items just came flooding through my mind, my heart, and eventually spilled out as tears. I couldn't do it anymore. Madelene had to take over, and by the time all was said and done, we had about 30 Hefty bags of every article of clothing they had ever owned. I took this one sweater my mom wore all the time and tucked it away in my own closet. I asked my siblings numerous times to come over to rummage through their room to take a keepsake or an item of clothing, but as soon as they did, the tears fell and they quickly ran out of their room. Totally understandable. I wanted to give them a chance to take what they wanted.

We still have a lot of stuff of our own inside that house. With the winter upon us, the cold air set in, which is why we turned off the water and drained all the pipes so that they wouldn't freeze. I'm not sure why we even did that, but we wanted to respect a home that kept us warm in the winter, cool in the summer and supplied running water for all these years. Yesterday, we made our way back to this old house to pick up more dribs and drabs of our belongings, especially our Christmas decorations. As soon as I walked into the first living room, I felt the intense coldness---and it was a 55 degree day. The temperature was 30 degrees inside, with a temp of 55 on the outside. It stunk like something had died in the crawl space. As I walked further, we noticed that it was leaking water near the load bearing wall right before you walk into the main living room. Part of the first room looked like it was flooded out for some time. It used to do that when we were there, but we took care of it right when it happened. But nobody lives there anymore. Nobody is caring for a house that was once pampered until the end.

I kept walking through the house, quickly picking up my belongings, but the coldness numbed my fingers and my legs started to freeze up. I got as much as I could, and then yelled upstairs, "I gotta sit in the car, Madelene---I can't do this." She totally understood. As I sat in the car waiting, I felt this heaviness, this intense weight on my chest that wouldn't let up. I took a photo of the property and group messaged all three of my sisters, telling them how much I missed it here---how I missed all of us---a "once upon a time us." It wasn't so much the house itself, it was the people in it which made it heartbreaking to leave. Thoughts of these huge Thanksgiving dinners had with all of our relatives and friends. Christmas Eves were decked out, while dad and mom cooked up The Feast of the Seven Fishes for family and anyone who needed a place to go. Summers were the best at this house! The pool was always occupied. We would be out that early in the morning, and by noon, mom was shuffling out to the pool area in her flip flops and shorts, along with a tray of sandwiches and iced tea. I know I can't go back, and not that I want to, but leaving that house feels like I'm abandoning it in a weird way. Even if we were to stay, the house wouldn't benefit us anymore. It's way too big to heat and maintenance, and it's extremely desolate in the winters. It became dangerous to live there in the winters due to the extreme weather conditions. Not even all wheel drive could plow through that any longer. I needed a place that would make me feel safer and closer to everything.

A close friend of mine said, "Are you gonna miss that million dollar view?" And I didn't even need time to think about it. I said, "Living in a place I feel safe in is worth a billion dollars." My peace of mind is too important to stay in a house with a beautiful view. Besides, I prefer condo living anyway. I love listening to the sounds of cars, church bells, distant trains and even sirens. I prefer the sounds of the 'city'---although it's not quite the city. When I lived in the old house, sometimes I would put on "sounds of the city" on my Calm App to get me to sleep. It reminds me of when I used to spend time at my grandma's house. We woke up to the sounds of garbage trucks, kids playing outside and cars passing by. We heard the trains and the church bells---which were music to my ears. Many would prefer where I used to live: a ton of property with a gorgeous view and hardly any neighbors. All you hear are birds, crickets, and the occasional pack of coyotes at night. My favorite was listening to owls "hoot" back and forth to one another while I fell asleep with the windows open. Of course there's a peacefulness to it, but without the people to fill the home, it was no longer "home" any longer. It was time to move on.

With that being said, after yesterday's visit, I feel like I have a "sadness hangover" from everything. Thank God for coffee! As I snap out of it, and appreciate all that I do have---all that I have prayed for, my heaviness is lifting from me little by little. The holidays feel strange in this new home, but I'm trying my best!

I guess it's to be expected. I'm grateful for what I had, and also grateful for what I do have. My heart may hurt a little here 'n there, but all in all, it's not so bad here.

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

Thursday, December 05, 2019

When You Feel Mistreated and Betrayed

For the most part, I can safely say that most of us like to be thought of as a "good person," or somebody to be respected in whatever way. When you focus on the fact that somebody out there is creating some sort of smear campaign against your character, this deeply affects a certain type of person. I'll put it this way: if you have nothing to worry about, then this will most likely not affect you. The reason being is that perhaps, the people listening to the garbage already know you, and they know your character and will take things with a grain of salt. Most people look at the source of who is saying these negative things about you. If it happens to be, what I call a "gossip hen," then most will definitely overlook the inflammatory comments or accusations against you. I remember an acquaintance of mine recently told me something negative about another mutual acquaintance. My #1 rule is this: never take it as truth. Always judge for yourself. I don't listen to somebody else's story, even if it is true, because that's not "my" experience with the said individual. And even if I have a bad experience with somebody, that's my business alone. I do not believe in smear campaigns, or ruining somebody's reputation just because of one bad experience. If I don't particularly care for someone, and another person talks highly of them, I never "correct them." And that's something many people know about me.

Suicide is Not the Answer

I am writing this because I have a friend who recently tried to take her own life. She was extremely disheartened over what her closest friends had said about her. So with her permission, she let me write this post (anonymously of course) because I was where she was not too long ago for different reasons. 

My reaction to what she was upset over is pretty much summed up here:

Eventually, if you truly want to get to know somebody better, give it time. 

"You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions." ---Matthew 7:15-20 

Most of all, you can get a good glimpse of somebody's character by their words, or "loose" topics. I tend to shy away from people who are too eager to talk about something entirely inappropriate, or the ones who corner you with gossip you don't need to listen to. Those type of weak-minded people are bored. They're looking to drum up some kind of drama because they have nothing spectacular brewing in their own lives. It's also a sign of low self-esteem, so whenever this happens, just pray for them and keep them at arm's length. They need you to side with them and make them appear relevant. 

Many years ago, I lived in this sort of mess. It was so exhausting. There's a scripture that I now live by. It has helped me a great deal, because it encompasses all things that are soothing, calming and good for the soul. I don't care how other people live, or what they do or who says what about who. 

I care about this: 

"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 (yes yes yes) and enjoy their work---whatever they do under the sun---for however long God lets them live. And it is a good thing receive wealth from God and 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." ---Ecclesiastes 5:18-20

Perspective

To enjoy your life with good health is everything! Of course there are going to be some challenging times in our lives, but it's up to us to trust God and let Him work it out for you. Not too long ago, I was having a really hard time coping. It brought me to one of my lowest points. I sought out for help, and reached out to God. It was as if He lifted me out of the pit into a higher level of mental stability and health. To have experienced that kind of low made me realize how precious life really is. It also made me more aware of how many people struggle with their mental health, especially around the holidays. I knew this was a trigger for mine, but I looked around at all of God's blessings that are still with me today, and gained a new perspective. Sometimes, you have to crash and burn in order for God to build you back up. Our challenging times are the pressing times. Just like grapes that get pressed and crushed---it eventually comes out as fine wine. So never be ashamed about what you have been through or what you are experiencing right now. Just know that it does get better, and your perspective is everything. Once a negative thought slips into your mind, replace it with one of God's promises. 

Don't Drink Their Poison

Never let somebody's accusations about you make you fall into that pit of despair. Care about what God thinks of you---not what people may assume about you. Sometimes, it surprises me how much other people give a rat's tail about how others think or talk about them. Let them talk! Let the other people see the source and judge for themselves, and if the people who are listening are intelligent enough, they'll find out for themselves instead of listening to this sour grapevine. 

When you think about it---it's like, why can't everyone just be kind? Why can't people mind their own business? Why can't people shut their mouths and not cause trouble? 

Why? Because they're bored. Idle time is the devil's playground. And that's a fact.

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

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

People Are Scared of Your Grief

It's strange, I used to think it was a blessing if someone can be open and honest enough to talk about their struggles to a friend or loved one, but I'm finding that some people can't handle certain things. And that's ok! For example, if you're grieving like I am, and you talk about your lost loved one and still having a hard time coping from time to time, people tend to get scared of the intensity of your grief. It's totally understandable too. I remember when my mother was still alive, and a friend of mine had lost her mom. It was like my mind couldn't absorb the impact of what my friend was going through. I didn't know how to approach her, or how to even comfort her. I thought that maybe she needed some time alone to deal with her incredible loss. I mean, what could I have possibly done in order to help someone with the worst grief imaginable? Part of me was scared---scared of losing my own mother, and scared of facing the reality of what can happen at any day, at any hour. Sometimes death can bring out the fear of our own mortality. So now that I've lost my own beautiful mother, I'm ok writing about it, but to have it interfere with my social life, like going through a depressive phase, (because let's face it --- grief comes in waves,) or having a little bit of a mental health crisis --- that can have people fleeing the scene of your "scary grief." I'm generally a happy person who loves life, but there are times, especially these days when I'm adjusting to a new home and a new life, where I find myself disoriented from it all. I'm glad that my grief comes in waves, where it lets in the happiness of my true authentic self. Most of the time, I love joking around with everyone and laughing. I'm not a very "intense & heavy" person to be around. I love light-hearted and uncomplicated interactions. I love to enjoy my friends and have some laughs. Life's too short. But on those days when I'm sad, I have to pull away, because I don't want it to infect others who are going through a 'happy wave.' I think it's safe to say that we all have our good and bad days. We just need to know how to navigate it in the beginning, especially when the waves come more frequently than not.

A couple of weeks ago, I was praying for God to remove the intensity of my grief. I was asking Him to take this anxiety and sadness away.

And when I opened up the Bible, I turned to this passage:

"Don't be afraid, for you are deeply loved by God. Be at peace; take heart and be strong!" --Daniel 10:19

It's ok to be afraid of someone else's grief. That's our own natural defense mechanism of how some of us cope. There's no wrong or right way to cope either. But if you are going through some sort of grief, like a loss of a parent, sibling or child, then expect your friends and loved ones to be a little distant. It's not that they don't want to be around you, it's because they may be afraid to feel what you're feeling, especially if they love you...especially if they're scared of losing their own loved ones. It's like watching a movie where someone is dying of cancer, and in the end, we're all sitting around the sofa passing the Kleenex. Life can be brutal sometimes, so when you feel like you're all alone in your grief, give it time, talk to God and know that this too, shall pass. And when the fog of grief seems to lessen, then the presence of your friends and loved ones will be more visible. Don't take offense to it---it's just how life works.

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

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

For the Brokenhearted & Crushed in Spirit

Is everything ok? And of course, the answer is, "I'm fine." All of us walk around with so much emotional baggage, no matter who you are and what you've been through. If I said to you right now---think of something that breaks your heart. You're either already thinking about it, or have the mental archived file pretty handy. We've all been hurt, we've all lost someone, either through death or by breakup, and if you dig deep enough, you can still feel that initial pain. There's definitely healing with time, but time does not take away the heartbreak. God heals all wounds, but it's in our weaknesses that He is strong for us. Like being afraid to do something---it's not trying to get rid of the fear in order to do something that you're afraid of, it's having the courage to do it in fear. That's what being strong is all about.  Courage is to face something that absolutely terrifies you. God doesn't take the fear away, he gives you the strength and courage to face what you're dealing with. That mountain becomes smaller and smaller, but it's still there nonetheless. It never goes away, it just becomes smaller.

Grief 

Grief can be a scary thing to go through, especially if you're in it alone. And what I mean by that is, either you are alone physically, or you have people around you who truly do not understand what grief is like because they either haven't lost anyone of importance as of yet, or they simply just tucked away their emotions for a later date---and there will be a later date. It eventually comes out in some form or another. Holidays can become sketchy for some. Many develop new traditions, while others still go on with same traditions, mourning the loss while staring at the empty chair that was once filled.

Self-Medicating

We all try to soothe our souls by delving into something to distract us, whether it's good or bad for us. Some will find solace in a bottle, while others will find their comfort in food. Some turn to drugs, while others turn to exercise and healthy eating, to avoid whatever their loved one suffered with. Many turn to prayer and meditation for their peace of mind, while others start pushing away God, because they no longer believe that God would make them suffer this way. Some have meaningless affairs, ruining their own family unit, while others start reconciling with their family, holding onto family traditions and even making new ones. Some become bitter, developing negative thought patterns, while others become more positive, seeing the blessings in what was and what's to be. They see the bigger picture as having to be blessed by their past experiences. And while there seems to be "bad" and "good" ways to cope, none are to be judged. We're all human and handle things differently.

Unsolicited Advice 

Give people a break when they say something that's not in the handbook of "how to handle a person going through grief." There are so many people who have developed this intolerance of how other people respond to their tragic experience. "Oh, there's a reason for everything," or "He/she is in a better place now," and "Time heals all wounds." The person mourning will either blast them with their distaste or badmouth them at a later time about their 'crappy cliched advice.' But the thing is---they are truly trying to comfort you. Maybe it's a huge cliche----but they're doing their best and they mean well. Give people a break when they try to reach out to you. Their advice may not be the best advice, but they're reaching out trying to make you feel better. You gotta give them credit for that. And hey---it just may be their belief that they're in a better place and that everything happens for a reason. So what! Ever since social media has taken on 'real life'---everyone has rules now. Even if you say "thoughts and prayers" ---that has now become the big faux pas of condolences. It's redundant and overused. So what! They're simply telling you that you are IN their thoughts and IN their prayers. Who cares! Take it for what it is and be grateful.

The Essentials Needed For a Broken Heart

This is my own personal advice. For myself, I tend to think outside the box. I don't send flowers, because let's face it, those flowers will remind you of your lost loved one. When I had to take flowers and plants from people who were at my parents' funeral, it was appreciated, but every single time I looked over at the beautiful flowers and plants, my heart hurt. So what I do for other people is cook a pan of their favorite meal. If they're up to it, maybe even stay with them, and sit with them in silence if need be. If they feel like talking, I just listen. They can cry, scream, vent, or grab a hug from me. Sometimes no words need to be spoken. Run some errands for them, cook for them, make them coffee and tea---just nurture that person. Let them know without words how important their broken heart is by just being present. Flowers die. Food provides comfort and nourishment. Giving them your time and energy lets them know that there is still love in this world. It gives them hope. I'm grateful for my sister-in-law who stayed with us when my mom died. She brightened up our home with her humor, made some amazing dishes for us, and just comforted us by her mere presence. I'll take that over flowers any given day. (Thank you, Bernadette.)

It's hard not to lose hope while suffering such a huge loss in your life. But keep in mind, that God created your loved one, God has always been inside of them---inside of His creation, so all is not lost. The best comfort is going to God with all of your emotional needs. Talk to Him as if He was in the room with you listening, because He is...He is in your heart listening. Every single thought is known, every single word has been captured before it was even said.

Jesus said, "There are many rooms in my Father's home, and I am going to prepare a place for you. If this were not so, I would tell you plainly."---John 14:2

"God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted." --Matthew 5:4

"He heals the brokenhearted, binding up their wounds." ---Psalm 147:3

"The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."---Psalm 34:18

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

Thursday, October 31, 2019

All Hallow's Eve & High Emotions

At the risk of sounding like a party-pooper, I've never been a real fan of Halloween. I do however, love the foliage, and how the vibrant colors can make the darkest of days seem bright. As a writer and musician, my creativity is at its highest...and so are my emotions. I guess if you look at artists, (writers, painters, musicians, sculptors, etc.,) you'll notice that their best work is done at the highest peak of their emotional state. We feel more. We grieve more. We even sense other people's emotions, as most of us are empaths. We have an intuitive way about others, whether we tap into it or not. If you read about the origins of Halloween, (All Hallows Eve)---it's celebrated on the 31st of October however, tracing back to its roots, this holiday was really celebrated as Samhain, a time where death was celebrated. Samhain was a celebration of the death cycle of Mother Earth and the honoring of the downtime between the end and the start of a new cycle. It's also been known that the veil between the living and the deceased is at its thinnest. So if you're like me, and sensitive to spirits and their presence, you'll see, feel and hear, quite possibly even smell their presence around you. More so, it's about the death of letting go of what was, and the start of a new beginning. It all sounds very 'positive' and renewing, but if you're a Christian, you may want to steer clear from celebrating it, and instead, blessing your home with anointing oil. It all seems incredibly innocent, as people bring their children out to celebrate this holiday which was based on Pagan and Satanic customs. And hey, my mom brought me out trick-or-treating and we had lots of Halloween parties, but as I grew more into my faith, I learned more about other people's faiths as well.

And just because my friends who are Pagan or Wiccan celebrate this holiday, it doesn't mean I think badly of them---it just means we have different faiths, and that's OK. We can coexist.

Even though my faith lies in Christianity, I do believe the origins and beliefs of what All Hallow's Eve stands for. I also believe in ghosts and our deceased loved ones contacting us, whether through dreams, a familiar scent, a light touch and even audible voices. I've always been able to see and hear them. Madelene has even seen them with me in our old home. She was an older lady who roamed around aimlessly, in that typical long white gown and white hair. She was the first owner of the house. Her name was Margaret. My father and I first started seeing her in the late 90's. She was timid and would hide behind the couch as my father would grab his midnight snack. Then she would run inside my childhood bedroom (which used to be the master bedroom when it was first built.) We told my mom and Madelene about her, but they just gave us a look like, "Yeah, sure." And then one day while Madelene and I were lying outside out on the hammock, Margaret peeked outside through the screen door window. I didn't say one word. I looked over at Madelene to see her reaction, and her face turned white! She looked at me and said, "Did you see that?" Another time, she saw the same huge orb that kept floating through the upstairs living room. Many of my sightings were confirmed by her sightings. Even in my new townhome, as of late, I see a random person walking down the hallway, or passing through the dining room into the kitchen. It's as if they're in another dimension and they don't even notice that I'm there. It's not "scary" or weird, it's just someone else living their other lives somewhere else, and yet in the same spot. This morning, I took my anointing oil and blessed each threshold and window in Jesus' name. It's important to do that in order to stay protected from the not so good spirits.

Another vivid connection I had with a spirit was my 'thoought-to-be' deceased mother. As I was reading an article at 3am (which is technically the witching hour,) I heard my mom's voice, as if she was excited that she got through the veil. She said, "Deb--bie!!!" Like a high "Deb" and a low "bee"---if that makes sense. So once I heard, "Debbb---bieeeee," it didn't feel right. I knew that without a doubt, that was not her. It sounded like her, but it was not my mom. Be careful when you encounter something like this. They're called "familiar spirits." They're basically demons disguising their voice as your deceased loved ones. The point of that is---you'll be tempted to rely on their communication, rather than a conversation or prayer to God. The devil can mimic anybody he wants. He's clever and will tell you secrets that you and your loved one could only know. That's why when psychics say, "Oh, they're telling me you have their locket stashed away in your closet on the top shelf." And the other person will be like, "Wow! How did you know that! She is real!" The devil also knows this. He knows everything, even every written word of the Bible. Remember, he was a fallen angel. That's why you shouldn't ever trust psychics or mediums. Even if you hear a familiar voice, be careful. In the Bible it says to test the spirits---which basically means, ask them if they believe that Jesus is the Son of God. In fact, the only spirit you should be communicating with is the Holy Spirit. But there are times when Jesus will place a hedge of protection around you if you need to give a message to your loved one, especially through a journal or even just a prayer-like sentiment. There's a big difference between contacting the dead, and giving a message to your lost loved one.

So enjoy today---enjoy All Hallow's Eve and all of its powerful energy it brings. But remember to hold onto your faith and bless your home as well as your pets. Bless yourself in the process. If you're like me, every hair on your body will be standing straight up as you walk through this highly energetic day. Trust your intuition and pray to God to give you discernment. Ask God to reveal the motives of other people as well. You'd be surprised how intuitive you can get during these next few days.

Happy Halloween, and enjoy the candy!

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

Monday, October 28, 2019

Words Have Power, Use Them Wisely

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people." I've always loved that quote, because it's true on so many levels. To talk about great ideas, making new and exciting plans means you're setting up a positive future. The "average" mind discusses events, past tense---to live in the past is to be depressed, to live in the future can drum up anxiety. Anxiety can be good or bad, depending on how you look at it. There is anxiety that is equivalent to anticipation, and I believe that's what this quote speaks about. But whenever I hear someone talking about somebody else's business, or speaking poorly of them, I always know that in my heart my name will be next on their list of discussion. In Judaism, it clearly speaks about how gossip can kill. They say, "Evil gossip kills three: the one who says it, the one who listens, and the subject of the gossip." Eventually, if all involved are not careful, they will end up being dragged through the muck. And of course, there's always three sides of the story: yours, theirs and the truth. Everyone has their own version of the story, even if they think they're telling the truth, sometimes the events can distort as their anger increases. Have you ever had a falling out with somebody, and someone comes along and says, "Oh, 'so 'n so' is so nice," and you feel like (or you actually say)---"Well, you don't know them very well then." Right when that thought sneaks into your mind to smack down that nice comment, stop yourself. Once you correct them and let them know what they did to you, then you become the "complainer," and most likely, that person listening to you will sort of steer clear of you. There are some people known to talk crap about people all the time---it's now become their reputation---just ignore it. Judge someone for yourself, not by what other people say about them. Make your own assumption, because whatever happened between whoever is their business only.

This is not to say you can't talk about people in general---I'm only talking about defaming someone's character, or speaking badly about them. Even if the person being spoken about is unlikeable or has a bad reputation---just ignore it. Don't speak of it and don't listen to it. Judge for yourself. I always give people the benefit of the doubt, until I can't anymore. And when I can't anymore is when they've shown their true colors to me. I never go by someone else's experience. I wasn't there. I'm not going to "be careful" about 'so 'n so' and I'm not going to take what anyone says as gospel. I go according to how they treat me. That's it.

There was a girl in our circle who everyone spoke badly about. I heard all sorts of things, like how how she goes online looking for men while she's married, how she never works and that she's lazy. Some even claimed she even stole stuff from their refrigerator while she was babysitting their kid, while others slammed her for simply being overweight. One day, I finally got to know this person as a person. I took the time to get to know her and spend time with her. She not only took care of her family, but she was an amazing cook, she worked from home doing stuff like eBay and had a craft business. She was funny, creative, kind and the most giving person I ever met. I never laughed so hard with someone before. Soon enough, I knew that all the claims that were spread about her were false. Every bit of it. I saw how she lived and let me tell you---her life was one to be admired. Her family loved her more than life. Her kids, now older couldn't say enough good things about her. I saw the true person behind all the slander. She was a complete angel in my eyes...and now, she's an angel in heaven due to health complications. But I am so happy that I saw through the muck, the slander, the lies---I saw her true authenticity. She always lit up a room with her positive attitude and bubbly personality. I will never forget her. Those who spoke badly about her, now speak really highly of her. What is it about people who speak so badly about someone, and once they die, they become "such a good person?" I'll never understand.

Words have power. Use them wisely.

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

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Invisible Illnesses: Break the Stigma

When we see people, get to know people and try to gain some sort of intuitive vibe from them, we usually end up with the totally opposite of the truth. For instance, throughout my life, I have seen quite a few therapists. Almost all of them said to me, "You don't look like someone who suffers from anxiety or depression." And for the record, that's something a therapist should never say. They should know that many people carry around their burdens underneath a smiling face and a strong handshake. Many come from the corporate world, with having people skills that are taught from seminars. Some are just hiding it the best they can through their humor and warm greetings. But underneath it all, they're emotionally dying, begging for someone to just help them get out of that dreadful rut they're in. There are those who suffer with panic disorder, depression, PTSD, social anxiety and many other mental health issues that can be debilitating, especially in a social setting.

There are folks out there who have chronic illnesses, like fibromyalgia, sciatica pain, back pain, rheumatoid arthritis and many other invisible illnesses that plague us, either sometimes or most times.  It's frustrating having fibromyalgia, because sometimes I'll go walking around these ponds in my town with my dog. It's a good walk and they even have markers to let you know how many miles you walked. On a good day, I can easily do 2-3 miles. On a bad day, I can't even get out of the house. Some of my friends get confused, and I'm assuming that when I decline on the 3 mile walk, they just think that I'm lazy. I'm not. I just can't do it. Having panic disorder comes in waves as well. So if my heart rate is through the roof and I'm having an extremely difficult time breathing, there's no way I'm gonna do that walk. In colder months, my asthma flares up, and again, the invisibility of these ailments come with a price: disbelief.

This is not a post to make you feel bad for me. This is more about spreading awareness for all people with invisible illnesses, so that others know that maybe the person who pulled up in the handicap parking spot may have heart issues, or emphysema, like my dad had. He didn't get enough oxygen into his lungs to walk that far. When people judge others based on outward appearances, and the "good days" they're having being capable and able, they may want to consider the possible suffering they're going through. Just like when I told you about my therapists who assumed I didn't have "bad anxiety" because I was "put together well" (in their own words) --- that's an assumption based on their patient trying to appear OK. When I walk out of my house, I want to look OK. I don't want people feeling bad for me. Although nobody needs to know your business, sometimes you have to let them know the truth, and become a little more vulnerable, especially to a therapist. Take off the smiling theater mask, let them see you for who you are.

As for friends and strangers who see us out and about, it's frustrating because there's not enough awareness made about chronic illnesses---the invisible types that some people want to keep to themselves. I don't tell half my friends and family what I go through, some know, while others don't. I hate reaching out for help when I need it because it's embarrassing. I want to be capable and able to do anything, but sometimes, there are days when I can't do a damn thing other than hug my dog and pull the covers over my head.

I remember my mom used to say (in her own words, verbatim) --- "Oh when Debbie has a good day, boy is she amazing!"

(Ok, that just made me cry a little.)

My mom knew me inside and out. She understood all of my ailments, and we even chuckled over some of it to lighten it up. She knew how much I wanted to do, and on my good days, she was amazed. Sometimes I was even amazed. When the bad days came, instead of me being her caregiver, she became mine, or at least tried. I told her she didn't have to do anything but just be her wonderful self. She was always so giving and thoughtful. She made me feel valid, and knew how much I struggled with everything. When she became ill, my fibromyalgia flare ups got worse due to my stress and anxiety. It was like my anxiety fed off the pain and the pain fed off the anxiety. It was a vicious cycle that I couldn't break away from. I ended up having the worst insomnia for the years she was ill. I wouldn't go to sleep until 4am, leaving me to wake up later due to exhaustion. My life was on hold and I knew that each night would be a night full of seizures and chronic pain.

Cancelling events, appointments, or a lunch date would leave people feeling as though I didn't care enough about them. Declining invites also made them feel like I didn't want to have anything to do with them. That was not the case at all. And maybe I should've been more honest with them, other than saying, "I don't feel well, can we do it another time?" I thought that was good enough, but in all honesty, it does kinda sound like a crappy excuse. I know most of us don't want others knowing our business, but sometimes, when you really care for the people you are cancelling on, it's important to explain to them what's happening. With complete raw honesty: I'm not very reliable when it comes to "making plans" or keeping an appointment. I try to be, and on good days, I'll be there with a smile.

So my point of this write up is, try to understand when somebody cancels on you, or they let you down in some way. Maybe they're not feeling well and they're embarrassed to let you know. Having an invisible illness (even mental health issues) can be the one secret they don't want others to know about. There's a huge stigma on both types unfortunately. The more awareness that is made, the more understanding and knowledge that comes with accepting others as who they are, not who we think they are.

And always know, it's OKAY to not be OKAY. Just do your best every single day, and if your best is just getting up to shower, then you've accomplished a lot.

What is Invisible Illness?

An invisible illness is an umbrella term for any medical condition that isn’t easily visible to others. This includes chronic physical conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, fibromyalgia, and others — but also mental illnesses. Living with an invisible illness often leads to judgement and criticism because others believe you look fine on the outside, and therefore must be “making up” your suffering.
Unlike having a condition that’s observable, those with invisible illnesses often face a lack of social awareness and additional stigma, As a result, these individuals often face more skepticism, and are accused of being lazy or moody and in need of cheering up, going out more, calming down, or a host of other dismissive judgements.
To complicate matters, like many chronic conditions, mental illnesses tend to ebb and flow in severity — some days, weeks, and months go really well, and during others it’s difficult to work, socialize, and function, confusing those who can’t “see” why one day is good and another a challenge.----read more here. 


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

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

What's Our Purpose In Life?

Your life, your environment, your friends, your loved ones, your work and your entire world can change at the drop of a hat. Everything you know now can be taken away tomorrow. There are no lifetime guarantees on anything. Relationships and marriages fall apart, families break away from one another, people get sick---some recover while others succumb to their disease. One day you're wealthy, and the next minute, you can be standing on a long line at a food pantry hoping to find a few cans of soup for your children. It's crazy to think about all the possibilities that can happen to us. We aren't immune to anything. There've been wealthy stockbrokers -- billionaires, who have hit rock bottom. Some sought solace in a bottle while others simply fell into a deep depression over losing their spouse and family.

Goals

Years ago, I worked in the corporate world, trying to climb the ladder of success. I wanted nice things for myself, but most of all, I wanted to live a fulfilling life, going out to nice restaurants or entertaining friends with big parties at my house. I wanted to spend my money on "time spent" with loved ones. Even if it meant less clothes and holding off on buying a new TV or some other luxury, my main focus was LIFE. Life with family, life with friends, life with my partner....to live and to give. To help others or make somebody's day by helping them when they're down 'n out.

When I started working from home, it was gradually turning into something I never expected. With the advertising and link placement requests for this blog, it gave me an income that helped me realize what's most important: my sanity. My articles were mirrored off from another online magazine that made some pennies, but not as much as the advertising. My main focus on my work was always mental health, quality of life and most of all, God's help in all of this. I wanted to help people through my writing, not make a profit. But if I did make a profit, it had to be unnoticeable---a hyperlink in a word, not a huge ad blinking in my reader's faces.

Resist the Devil

The other day I received an offer from a rep from Facebook Articles. They saw my business page which has a verification blue tick on it, letting people know that I'm a legit writer (or whatever I am) and they wanted me to post 3 articles a day and pay me in advance. They offered me $3,000 a week. No, I didn't add an extra zero to that. You may think I'm silly for doing this, but because they wanted to throw a bunch of nonsense and 'buzz advertising' articles up on my page, without any of my content. I graciously declined. I know I don't have huge audience like I once did years ago. When my mom fell ill, my work suffered and my main focus was caregiving. My grief after she left the world made it even worse. I tried to write, but it was all I can do to muster up one word.

Back to the $3,000 a week offer...

I said I wasn't interested because they were taking God out of my work. They were taking my experience with anxiety disorder, and my testimony of God helping me out of the equation. See, the devil will throw a bunch of tempting offers your way---worldly offers. But if I can win souls, or inspire someone to go to God when they feel anxious or depressed, that's worth much more than $3,000 a week. And trust me, I need that money! But I need God more. The devil will always offer you money, fame, riches---whatever you want, in order to throw God out the window. I will never do that. I will never sell out. I will never not work for God. And if that means I have to suffer financially in order to help other people, then my life was worth living. I mean that with all my heart and soul---I'm not trying to make you believe, "Oh, I'm such a good person," because I'm not. I'm human. I'm a sinner. I have flaws and sometimes I can be less than desirable to be around. But the one thing the devil can never do is take me away from God, nor have me push God aside just so I can make money---a tool that is of this world.

You and I Are Not of This World

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." --Romans 12:2

I remember a very good friend of mine gave me advice about my blog and overall writing style and topics. She said, "You do a lot of this 'God stuff,'----maybe it would be a good idea to cater to everyone, instead of just Christians." I said, "I do cater to everyone, but I would never throw God out of my work." She insisted that I was missing out on "going viral" and making some big money. But it's not the money I am after. I can't tell you how many times this advice has been given to me. In fact, another friend of mine who happens to be Catholic said, "I prefer reading your articles that have less scripture in them." But the whole point of this blog and my book I published was to show you how God responded to me through scripture. He talks to us in various ways: through words of your loved ones, through a sign you read on your way to work and most of all, through the Bible.

God Uses Imperfect People

God sometimes uses the least expected people to speak to others about Him. Some people would look at my life, and immediately say, "How can she be a Christian and justify her lifestyle?" The thing is, they don't know anything about my partner and I, and most of all, all scripture written about homosexuality was in Leviticus -- the Old Testament which is the Jewish law. Once Jesus died on the cross for us, we were washed clean, or otherwise we wouldn't be able to eat crustaceans of the sea (shellfish) or wear clothing of different fabrics as well as even getting a tattoo. This man on the right who still goes by the laws of Leviticus 19:28 that states, "You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the Lord." Seems like this guy didn't read that part in Leviticus.

"For if we could be saved by keeping the law, then there was no need for Christ to die." --Galatians 2:15-21

I am a person who is in a same-sex marriage with my partner of 25 years, who also happens to love God just as much as I do. Homosexuality listed in the Bible first started in the Old Testament with Leviticus. "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination."Chapter 18 verse 22. "If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them." Chapter 20 verse 13.

I'll point out a couple of things here: first, this is being taken out of Leviticus, laws which only apply to Jews. Secondly, it speaks of only a man with a man---if you read it over, "to lie with a male as with a woman," ---this was an act of promiscuity and uncleanliness, due to the man's genitals being defiled, and then entering his wife afterwards. In the New Testament, when they do speak about homosexuality, it's about sexual immorality and promiscuity. There is a specific progression that leads to this “orgy” of anger. First, men “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (v. 18). Then they exchanged “the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator” (v. 25). Next, “God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity” (v. 24). They “exchanged the natural [sexual] function for that which is unnatural (v. 26). Therefore, the wrath of God rightly falls on them (v. 18); they are without excuse (v. 20).

In layman's terms, it's essentially stating that these people put "idols" before God---not to be confused with worshipping other gods, but to put their lusts and desires before the Lord. I mean, if you really wanna get silly with this, even watching too much TV or going on social media too much is an "idol." If it takes more time than your time with God, then it can become an idol. In Romans, they were having orgies---having sex with anyone, whether it be male or female. This was "lust"---not love. This was promiscuity and reckless sex---not two people uniting as one who love one another. These scriptures were taken out of context and used as a way to condemn those who were gay or lesbian. In Sodom and Gomorrah, the story is solely about rape and humiliation. The angels came to Lot's door and asked for his sons---not his daughters, in a way to rape and humiliate them. This had absolutely nothing to do with being in a same sex relationship or marriage. This had everything to do with unnatural ways to humiliate somebody for punishment.

But that's not why I'm imperfect. My love for another human being does not make me evil or a "heathen." God knows my heart---God knows everyone's heart. In the world's view, it's a huge contradiction for me to be Christian and to be considered "gay." Throwing labels around comforts some people, but for me, I am not "gay." I am not a "lesbian." I am ME living my life with my best friend and doing my best to help people with my testimony. Never let anyone tell you that God doesn't love you because you love somebody of the same sex. It's not that simple. There are laws to obey that deals with morality---like promiscuity, which is bad all around, but to love someone and to share your life with your life partner is not a sin.

My Last Sentiments

You're here for a reason. You not only have a purpose, but you have multiple purposes. I learned this recently through confirmations of hearing the same message over and over again. For me, I feel that my purpose here on earth was to #1, comfort my mother. I was 7 years away from her last child, meaning I was a huge "oops," --yet she still chose to have me. My mom told me this a few years ago. She and my father were having marital issues at that time, and when she found out she was pregnant, she decided to have me to save the family. I will never forget this conversation while having lunch at our favorite restaurant. It touched me, because she trusted me enough to be so open that day. She usually isn't so open about things like that. So I was here for her when I was born, and I was here for her while she was grieving over my dad, and there for her when she fell ill to cancer. That's one of my purposes here. My other purpose was to let others know that God loves them, whether they were straight, gay, bi, trans---God's love exceeds the limitations of human love. It's unconditional and never wavering. It's transforming once you let the Spirit in. Even religious people have mocked me, hurt me, tore me down because I wasn't the perfect mold they were looking for. They doomed me to hell, playing God and threatening me with the lake of fire. But remember this, when somebody judges you, they're playing God---and those a huge shoes to fill. They're making up for their own shortcomings. Everyone --- I mean everyone falls short in the glory of God. We need to love one another as the scripture commands.

The Greatest Commandment?

The great commandment and the other commandment that is spoken just under it in Matthew 22:39 and Mark 12:31 are in response to an unnamed Pharisee, who was described as a scribe, or lawyer. This scribe/lawyer was testing Jesus, trying to trick Jesus into saying something disreputable, or scandalous according to their religion. Jesus responded by saying the greatest commandment was "And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:30-31)

Just know God loves you more than anybody in this world can. You're here for a reason. You have multiple purposes in this life, whether you know this now, or you're still trying to find it. Never lose hope, because God's hand is always there when you need to be lifted out of the pit. You just have to have more faith.

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

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