Friday, February 05, 2021

Your Weakness & Vulnerability Is Your Strength

Once in a while, I get some people asking me, "Why do you write such personal things up on your blog and on social media?" Some people, and even some family members are embarrassed by my 'oversharing' of personal struggles with anxiety, depression and grief. I always tell them, "It's my purpose. I am here to help people feel less alone." As God once impressed on me, that I am supposed to "Do it for the One"----do it even if only one person reads what I write, as well as do it for "The One" --- God Himself. Because God is in each and every once of us. So by sharing my weaknesses, God's strength is made even that much stronger, especially for the other person seeking help. If someone lost a parent, I can share my experience and how I still cope through it. If someone suffers with anxiety attacks, I can tell them about my coping skills and hopefully assist them and prevent them going straight into crisis mode. I truly believe that's my purpose here.

It's Okay To Be Vulnerable 

Becoming more vulnerable makes you more relatable. Showing your weaknesses actually makes you stronger. Paul quotes Jesus who said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” It’s ok if we don’t have it ‘all together.’ It shows our humanness. If you prefer keeping your personal issues to yourself, then you probably have another purpose in life. That's okay. But it's also okay to relate to people and let them see the humanness in you. Some people I know are so insecure, they can't let anyone see that a day of weakness. 

I remember a heated argument I had with someone a while back. I remember them saying to me, "You need to take your meds and see a psychiatrist. Check and check. Meanwhile, this person self medicates by drinking a fifth of whiskey every night along with whatever beer to chase it down. During one of his drunken rages, he tore someone apart and never apologized to them or even considered being held accountable for his poor choices and behavior. Without judgment, I said, "There's nothing wrong with seeking professional help or taking the needed medication for whatever you're suffering with." Immediately he went into self-defense mode and said, "I don't need that!" And I reminded him that I was only speaking for myself. It was as if he had forgotten what he said to me. The psychological projection was explosive at that point. He knew he needed help. 

A Strong Person Admits Their Fears and Feelings

"Oh I could never be that open." Why? Isn't there a possibility that someone out there in the world needs your kind of help because it's exactly what they're going through right now? There's still so much stigma when it comes to mental health issues. People don't want to be seen as "crazy" or that they're having a nervous breakdown. Well, maybe if you show them your "weakness" they may see the strength in you by admitting to it---by admitting that you are human. It's like an AA director who has never touched a drink in his/her life. How could they possibly relate to the people in the AA group? They can't. They can do all the studying they want in the Big Book and read up on the Twelve Steps, but they truly can't be of genuine help if they hadn't gone through it themselves. That's why I can't stand 'textbook psychology.' I want someone who has been in the muck of it all---someone who has been there and overcome their struggles, with a few slip and falls here 'n there. That's what makes them real---that's what makes them helpful. 

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 

Paul's Thorn and God's Grace …Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me. That is why, for the sake of Christ, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Sharing your struggles not only makes you approachable, but it even enables you to reach out to those who need your kind of help. Even just sharing your story, your testimony or explain to people the struggles you've gone through will make people feel less alone and alienated. I once listened to someone's testimony and thought to myself, "I can't believe they went through the same thing I did!" I truly thought I was the only one. It gives you a feeling of oneness with those who open up and share their hardships. It's not that 'misery loves company,' but it's more about, 'I need your kind of strength right now.' Because usually, that person has either overcome it, or still trying to get through it. Both are admirable, because it's the goal of getting better, getting healthier in mind and spirit. 

So when you start to hesitate sharing a post, even as small as, "Having a bad day today," --- watch how many people say, "Me too!" Or they'll tell you about their day. You'll also want to tell them how that day turned out to be a beautiful 'tomorrow.'

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” --Psalm 30:5. 

We're Only Here For a Short While 

Get rid of the bitterness, resentments and unforgiveness. When we go back home to see Jesus, none of these trivial problems will matter anymore. Why not get along here on earth, while we're still alive? I love that quote where it says, bitterness is like drinking poison, but expecting the other person to die. The only person we hurt by not forgiving someone is ourselves. The mental anguish and inner anxiety that comes upon us when we are still fuming over what someone did, can and will affect us physically. I know for myself, when I use to harbor resentment, my heart rate would go up for a long while, until it was time to go to sleep. My stomach would be in knots and I wasn't happy. Meanwhile, the person I was angry with, had no clue I was harboring these negative feelings. So they were living their happy lives 'as is' and here I was, suffering from my own internal conflict, playing the same event over and over inside my mind. Never let anyone rent space inside your mind. 

Grief & Booze

We are going to lose people in our lives. That's just inevitable. I remember when my mom was dying of cancer, I struggled with anticipatory grief. I remember one afternoon, she heard me sobbing in the other room upstairs. I didn't know anyone could hear me. I didn't even think I was being loud. She called me and said, "Debbie, come downstairs and lay next to me." I cried even harder. I couldn't help it. She knew I was grieving over her already. I had to lie to her --- make someone up like, "Oh, it's okay, I'm just having bad pain." I wasn't. I was crying over the mere thought of losing her. Mothers know these things. 

I self-medicated. I didn't want to feel the grief. I wanted the temporary fix of feeling numb, happy, forgetting 'what was' instead of dealing with 'what is.' But once the alcohol wore off, the sadness and anxiety came creeping in like a thief in the night, stealing all my joy for the next day. So, I'd do it again that same night. It was like this torturous and vicious cycle of self-torment, just to get a few hours of numbing happiness---a faux kinda joy.  So now, I save my wine time only on one day of the week with a nice dinner, and no more than one or two drinks. I stopped "self-medicating" and now, I have eight hours of sleep under my belt most nights, and beautiful hangover-free mornings to enjoy my coffee and a beautiful sunrise. Is life prefect? Hell no! But when those problems come barreling down on me, I deal with them much differently, with less stress. When I drank a lot, my heart rate would skyrocket up to 200 bpm, especially if a problem came up. And now, no adrenaline rush---just a sober mind dealing with it in a healthier way. I'm not telling anyone not to drink---I'm suggesting to evaluate how you feel after the alcohol as worn off, and especially how you handle stressful situations while under the influence. Compare it to where you are sober. It's quite an eye-opener. 

Masking Your Pain & Anxiety 

I've been masking my pain and anxiety since I was twelve years old. Yep, I have been drinking since I was twelve, and I didn't quite stop the madness until my mid-forties. (It's never too late right?) I never knew what it was like to deal with life situations sober. I held a lot in and self-medicated my way through life, through alcohol and marijuana. After being hospitalized for marijuana at the age of sixteen -- yes, for good ol' weed -- it made my heart rate go over 200 bpm. I never touched that stuff again. I went through some traumatic events in my younger years, and tried to drown them all out by drinking it away. And now, I'm finally dealing with all of these past issues in my mid-forties. Ok, ok, ok, my late forties. But still, why did I wait so long? It took other traumatic events to make me realize, "Hey, maybe this coping mechanism isn't so healthy after all?" 

Pray It Into Existence 

Every single morning, before my feet hit the floor, I say something positive---a prayer of gratitude to God Himself. "Thank you for letting me rest and wake up this morning. Today is the day the Lord has made, I will be glad and rejoice in it!" And that alone, will usually set the tone for the day. A positive affirmation and prayer before even getting out of bed is the most powerful thing you can do to kickstart your day. You thought it, spoke it, and it will manifest. Speak it to God---not "the universe." Listen, believe what you want to believe, but praying to the universe for things to manifest is like praying to the street to bring you to your destination. Who made the street? Humans. Thank the humans who made the street, just as you would thank God for making the universe. 

No doubt, there's going to be unanswered prayers, but for good reason. If it's in God's will, it will be given. But sometimes, we go after things that are not in our best interest. If we were to get everything we wanted, we may end up in a worse-off mindset and place. God protects us and asks us to trust His will. Even Jesus asked His father to take this cup away from Him---to not go through with the dreaded and planned death of his sacrifice. Jesus was so scared, that he sweated out blood. So He knows as a human what it's like to be fearful, and to not get what you wanted. But God knows what was needed. Big difference. 

Even when you find yourself in the worst kind of emotional or physical "life storm" --- thank God for the storm, for it'll make you that much stronger. Resisting it will only cause you pain. Just say, "I trust you God," when you find yourself in the most uncomfortable or painful situation. Watch what happens. I had to learn this the hard way. By trusting Him and accepting 'what is' -- you change the atmosphere around you. You literally kick the devil right in his face. 

Don't ever feel "less than" by your weaknesses. This is the ingredient that gives you strength! 

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, January 29, 2021

Kicking Anxiety In the Face During the Pandemic

If it's not one thing, it's another, right? One problem goes away, and another one takes its place. It's life's little "bully" tugging at your backpack straps. Two steps forward, and then next thing you know, you're down on the ground struggling to get back up again. What I'm learning through my own faith, is to trust God in every situation in your life. One of my purposes here is to struggle through certain things, and find out what works best to eliminate it, or to lessen the blows at least. I try to figure out the best solution, and then to share it with others when I have either overcome it, or have gotten better coping with whatever it is. So today I want to share what helped me survive the entire year of 2020. 

My struggles actually started way before 2020, but my heightened sense of fear, as well as other ailments that followed it, like a racing heart and palpitations, which started after my mom died back in 2017. I also suffered from loneliness, because I shut many people out of my life. Who would wanna deal with someone grieving so deeply anyway? Without missing a beat (no pun) --- every morning my heart would race so incredibly fast. Sometimes it actually would hit the 200 bpm mark. That's when I couldn't take it anymore and had to be seen either by my cardiologist or be taken to the ER. And yes, I've had a cardiologist ever since I have experienced anxiety.

I thought my life would end. As a child, the worst fear of my life was to lose my mother. What would I do? Who would I laugh with? Who would I talk to? Who would totally "get me?" 

Anxiety During the Pandemic 

When the pandemic hit, every little sniffle, cough or tickle in my throat was COVID. And then one day, I finally came down with it, realizing my other worst fear came to pass: a pandemic. My mom would always make fun of me whenever we heard stories of the bird flu in other countries or when Ebola struck Africa, eventually hitting the states. My mom would tell me to get my HAZMAT suit on, or to invest in a bubble for myself. As a kid, I wouldn't dare take a sip out of anyone's glass, nor would I share anything with anyone. I don't know where this behavior came from, but I even had a special fork just for me---even if it was sterilized in the dishwasher. I couldn't use anyone else's fork. So the thought of germs, or getting sick freaked me out.

As an adult, it lessened, but I still held onto my germaphobic behaviors. When people speak about the 'man cold' ---- they're speaking about me. I even have an intercom just in case my vocal cords fail to work. When I get the flu, my vocal cords actually give out due to ending up with pleurisy and asthma attacks. So even that in itself is scary to me, especially being alone, so if I need to call for help, I have no voice. Another "phobia." 

With all that in mind, you can imagine where my little noggin took me, when the only thing the news had on was "THE CORONA VIRUS UPDATE" --- and of course, watching Gov. Cuomo's daily briefings. 

Pray Without Ceasing

For whatever reason, at night, I would wake up gasping for air, heart racing, feeling nauseous. I would try to do meditation videos on YouTube, or splash my face with cold water, but nothing helped. My last resort which should've been my first resort was to pray. It's funny how sometimes we tend to forget God when we are experiencing problems. We want to do it on our own, we want to control the situation and fix it ourselves, but realistically, and I can only speak for myself, I can do nothing apart from God. 

So I started to pray more.

I would hear certain songs, or I would read in the Bible similar messages that said, "Look up to me." And so, when I would wake up with that racing heart once again, it resonated in my mind, "Look up to me." I literally would look up, see God (visualizing Him) and automatically, my heart rate lowered. Sometimes, I'd go into the spare bedroom and talk to Him---telling Him everything that's going on in my busy little brain. I'd check my heart rate and from a 130 bpm episode, it would go down to a 77 bpm --- odd that it would always fall at 77, but it made me feel even that much calmer. 

So, my reliance on God taught me another thing in recovering from this anxiety. It taught me to also pray without ceasing. I don't pray just when I'm experiencing anxiety, but I pray even before my feet hit the floor in the morning. I thank Him for another day. I talk to Him throughout the day. I keep getting messages of "I am always with you." Again, as I said in a previous post, "Emmanuel" means, "God is with us." He never leaves us alone. We leave Him alone. So to say that I'm lonely today wouldn't be quite accurate. I am not lonely, I am eager to see my family and friends again on a regular basis again. 

Meditation Isn't Only For Spiritual Gurus

With the practice of praying without ceasing, comes meditating, even when you are feeling calm. I only meditated when I felt anxiety. Since I was suffering with anxiety attacks every single day, my adrenaline was at an all time high. So the slightest upset would bring my heart rate skyrocketing. By meditating every single day for at least 30 minutes, you develop a calmness about you, just like building a muscle---you are building up your peace. 

For instance, since I pray and meditate every single day (even when calm) -- I had an unexpected emergency here at home that would've put me in such a state of panic, that I probably would've needed the medics. But as I calmly responded to the emergency happening, I realized that my "emergency" was just a minor inconvenience. I blew things out of proportion most of the time. When I came back into my house, my heart was calm. There was no spike in my heart rate, no shortness of breath, I was just peaceful. My adrenaline didn't flood me out, nor did my thoughts turn into explosive "what ifs." This stuff really works.

Listen, I ain't no 'zen master' or spiritual guru, but this stuff really works. Whether or not you believe in this or believe in that or don't believe at all, there truly is something to this. No therapist, medication or a sip of wine could do what praying and meditating did for me. And most people think of meditation as some strange practice that you have to be bent in the shape of the pretzel chanting "ommmmmmmm" on a mountain top somewhere. Meditating can be just focusing in on your breath, and how your body feels at that moment----to be in the 'now' and even do some grounding techniques. It can be listening to a guided meditation on Youtube with some visualization techniques to get your stress levels lower. My heart rate is usually around 75-80 bpm, but when I meditate, it goes down to 55 bpm---I trust me---I'm no athlete. Sometimes it gets so low that I scare myself for being too calm. But it has improved my sleeping habits, as well as my everyday routines. 

I figured I'd share that with you, in case you're struggling with panic attacks and not knowing what to do or where to go. With practice, you'll notice that even at your most chaotic upheavals will be dealt with in a calmer way. I couldn't believe it. I still struggle with anxiety, but I am coping with it much better. Remember, courage isn't then absence of fear, but the triumph over it. And with God, all things are possible. 

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, January 13, 2021

Be At Peace With One Another, and Yourself


It's been a tragic ride this past year. The truth is, nobody knows the truth. Whether you're on the left, or on the right, or somewhere in between those thin lines of political entanglement, it's still disheartening to see our world, our government, our own people, crumble into pieces, shattered like a broken mirror, giving us painful shards of bad luck. Whether you are disappointed that our president is no longer in power, or disappointed that our Capitol got raided by protesters, they're all valid feelings. It's okay to feel what you feel. 

I read this quote from Lori Deschene that says, "You don't have to be positive all the time. It's perfectly okay to feel sad, angry, frustrated, scared and anxious. Having feelings doesn't make you a negative person. It makes you human." 

It Is All Out of Our Control

I've learned to stop internalizing circumstances outside of my being. This is something I cannot control. I can only control my reactions to it. Some would say that by not acting out in anger, is being part of the problem. I only have control over myself. I will not try to "fix the votes" or to try to "censor anyone's freedom of speech." I can only do me. How much truth do we really know to anything that's happening out there? This is where people start grasping for theories, hoping it'll be true. This is also when people start lying in order to get their way. For myself, I don't rely on anything but God. God is still on the throne and whatever people want to do with their power, or lack thereof, have a go at it, because I refuse to be apart of something that's so vile, so disgusting and evil. 

I don't mean to be vague, but I'm trying to make a point. I hear a lot of my friends saying that they're stressed out and they can't sleep or that their heart is racing all the time. Their endless hours of watching the news has made them a walking nerve. I can relate. In recent times, I learned one thing: GOD IS WITH US. "Emmanuel" also stands for, "God is with us." It’s a word written on countless Christmas cards throughout the centuries and sung in some of our most-loved carols. In Scripture, it first appears in Isaiah 7:14, which says, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign; The virgin will conceive, and give birth to a Son, and will call Him Emmanuel” (NIV). 

I can only tell you what worked for me.

Releasing the FEAR

Most of my life, I struggled with anxiety disorder. Dis-order and dis-ease ---it's all relative. Whatever you want to call it, the truth remains that anxiety and panic is based on fear. False Evidence Appearing Real. I finally got sick and tired of feeling sick and tired from the stress and anxiety. Not to say I don't get anxiety from time to time, but I sat with God for great lengths of time and learned a lot through prayer and meditating on the Word. Through words of others, as well as the Bible and even through dreams, I keep being reminded that I am not alone. Even through isolated times, when I haven't seen a soul besides my better half in weeks, I know that I am not alone. "Fear not,"---why? Because "God is with you." The thought of an isolated day (even if I have work to do) will set my panic off the night before. I was mocked a few weeks back on a duel live stream by an atheist, who told me that I'm pretending to have an imaginary friend. The "imaginary sky daddy," they call God. Well, all I can say is, eternity is a long time to risk being wrong. And my faith at this point is more of a, "I know that I know that I know," kinda faith. Nothing can shake it. Ever. 

The End Times

I talk about this a lot because I sincerely believe this with all of my heart. I kept receiving these dreams around 4am. I would hear trumpets blowing and a beautiful, androgynous angelic voice screaming out, "Wake up! Wake up!!!" And on the second "wake up" --- I heard the voice loud and clear while being awake. In Luke 21:11 it tells us, "There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven." Haven't we seen enough to know that these are huge signs from above? And whether or not this will happen one hour, weeks, months, years or decades from now, no one will ever know the hour or day. But the Bible is clear on the events itself. Way before this pandemic, and even before I lost my mom, I had given my life to Christ. I was still on the milk, but as I progressed, I have never felt so strongly about my faith as I do today. I can truly say that I am 100% ready for the end of times----this does not mean that I want to end my life. This means, that without a doubt, I am not afraid of Jesus' second coming. Many Christians are. Every knee will bow, as it says. 

Are you ready?

Suffering to Help Others

Through my own suffering, grief, anxiety and depression, I am now able to help those dealing with similar issues. Again, I still suffer from time to time, but it wasn't like it used to be. My panic attacks would send me right into the ER, fearful of death. I was scared of simple things, like being home alone, thinking, "What happens if I have a heart attack and drop dead and nobody knows for hours?" What if?? And if that happened to any of us, we should still not fear that. What's the worse thing that could happen? You enter another world where God brings you back home? My point is, I am (still) in the process of being unafraid of death itself. If I'm not afraid of death itself and know that God is with me all the time, then I won't be afraid of anything else in this world. So that in itself, keeps me calmer, more peaceful and the little things that used to annoy me have absolutely no affect on me. With that being said, I like to share my experiences to others who are having similar struggles. Our struggles are meant to help and not harm. Sometimes if I'm having an off day, those little annoyances can creep in, and that's when it's time to reel it in and pray. Don't leet the devil get a foothold.

Soul Wounds 

Our mental health has much to do with our minds, but it also has a lot to do with our souls as well. When you're hurt and you refuse to forgive anyone in your life, you end up hurting yourself and possibly others. As they say, hurt people hurt people. Through your own pain, you can end up hurting somebody else, due to the pent up resentment and bitterness.  "He heals the brokenhearted, binding up their wounds"---this scripture means that those soul wounds that you are carrying around can be lifted, if you release them. I've stopped caring about the small stuff---not to be mistaken with not undermining other people's feelings, but not sweating the small stuff. And by small stuff: engaging in any drama, or fueling somebody else's anger against another person just because things didn't go my way. I stopped caring about what people thought of me or if they judged me for spending time with so 'n so----what other people think of me and what I do is none of my business. That's on them. I accept it. 

Our world is crumbling before our very eyes. There's more division than ever before. A friend told me, "I have eliminated so many people out of my life, even my own family," due to different political views. How incredibly sad is that? And you wanna know something? Politics don't care about you. Politics doesn't love you. Your family loves you, and most of all, God loves you. What's more important than that? So while you're literally deleting people out of your life, keep in mind that we are all in this tragic movie together....together, yet alone. And maybe it doesn't have to be alone. Maybe, you can actually connect with your loved ones, be fearless and reach out to those you think may reject you. Keep politics out of your conversations and talk about what you used to chat about. Stop letting the government destroy your family. Stop letting the media crush every good thing you once known to be good. Stop letting the media and the government try to instill fear in you. 

Fear not....and you know why.

"Be at peace with one another” – Mark 9:50

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!

Saturday, December 05, 2020

Your Mental Health During the Pandemic


Don't give up, no matter how bleak it looks. You're going to have 'not so good' days, when you find yourself breaking down and throwing in the towel. That's okay. Have your moment. But afterwards, sleep it off. With the days getting shorter, especially when the early day is dreary and rainy, it can mess with your psyche. Sometimes, it feels like the entire day is nighttime, each day meshing into the next, as if it were one. It's like waking up from a nightmare that you can't shake off, but eventually, when you pour your coffee and let the hot shower wash away your anxiety, that same nightmare is almost forgettable. It's the same as having a really bad day. Shake it off with time and much needed sleep. In the morning, it usually feels different and much lighter. Last night, I found myself feeling really anxious, so I called a friend. She managed to make me laugh so much, that my panic attack subsided. She wasn't like, "Okay, now calm down,"---nope. She took my experience and turned it into laughter. She stayed on the phone with me for an entire two hours, and then afterwards, I slept like a baby. Friends like that are truly a blessing. 

Environmental Wellness

This can be anything from your living quarters to who you surround yourself with, in person or remotely. But for now, I'm going to speak about our social circles. This is my take on our response to everything that's going on: you can either survive or die. That's it. I don't mean in the physical sense---I'm talking about our mental health. You need to protect your circle of wellness. For me, I pray for a hedge of protection. Envision your protective bubble, and only let those who edify and uplift you enter your life to enter it---not to be mistaken for those who need help because they're having a crisis. I'm talking about hurt people who try to hurt other people. If you're having a bad day, that does not mean it's okay to tear someone else apart, or hold them responsible for something you did. There are so many people grieving in this world right now, between losing loved ones, and not being able to see loved ones due to the pandemic. It's bringing many to a breaking point. Don't let other people's indirect anger destroy you. It's okay to keep them out of your bubble for now. This is such a crucial time---the most important time, to only have people who are soothing for your soul. I refuse to walk on eggshells, just because someone is literally a ticking time bomb with an axe to grind. I can't afford to lose my sanity over someone else's insanity. Stay away from people who hurt more than they help. It's an unfortunate situation, especially if the person is someone you know or love. I know for myself, I cannot afford to let those toxic fumes slip into my protective bubble. I can't. 

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. --Ephesians 4:31-32


The "Brave" COVID Deniers 


I get it. There is a lot of information out there regarding the lack of hospitalizations in some 'theories'--- where the virus has mutated into a 'slight cold.' I can speak for myself when I tell you, that for me, COVID was a really bad cold with a high temperature. For others, it may not be the same case. You can choose to listen to what you want in order to feel better, but do what's comfortable for you. The fact is, we cannot control what other people do. They're gonna go out and mingle whether we are for it, or against it. Stay focused. Stick to what you can control: yourself. Decide for yourself if you want to 'shelter-in-place' or live life as you once did back in 2019. I'm not going to judge anyone for living the way they want to. For myself, I've been sheltering-in-place before it was "cool." I work from home, and love being home, and when I want to get out, I walk around the neighborhood or sit outside (weather permitting) or drive off to the park with my dog for a different atmosphere. But that's just my personal life and preferences. Before the second wave hit, my sister called me up and said she was going to drop off a bunch of books for me. We read similar books, so every once in a while, she'll refer a book to me. This time, she said she was doing a "drive-by" knowing how cautious I am with this whole virus ordeal. When I saw her pulling up, she was holding her books at her side and I just caved in and said, "If I order a pizza, will you come in and have dinner with me?" She looked totally shocked. "You mean, for me to come inside your house?" I hadn't see her in almost an entire year. She also gets tested at work, so I felt it was safe--but at this point, I needed to see my family. My heart hurt. It was one of the best nights I've had in a long while. 

With that being said, there are some people in my life who are actually upset that Madelene and I don't venture out to their location and mingle with them. Most of them are mixing in with five or more households at a time, or not being cautious enough. Someone said to me, "You're still not letting people inside your home?" ...No! If the plumber or our maintenance guy comes in, then yes. Back in the summer, I had no problem letting one of my friends in, because she's as cautious as we are. It's my preference in this strange time. It has nothing to do with "you"---it has everything to do with my sanity, whether or not the virus is real or fake or whatever your little heart believes. My home is my safe place. I can't afford to keep thinking late at night, "Is that tickle in my throat what I think it is?" I can't. 

I think all of us have let our COVID fatigue slip just a little, where we allow a little 'normalcy' back into our lives. And to be honest, that's okay. There's this hashtag on Twitter and Facebook called, #FilmYourHospital, and it shows people recording their trips to the emergency departments, just to show the public that it is completely empty. Some of it really makes you question the entire pandemic, but being that I have friends and family who work in hospitals, the info is very different. Hospitals are being overwhelmed and ICUs are filling up very quickly. To be honest, when I see my friends and family who work in hospitals trek out to restaurants, meet friends, and have people over, that to me is a sign that their hospital is doing okay. Right now, they're either at work or at home. People love a good conspiracy theory, however, make sure that conspiracy theory holds some truth to it. Otherwise, you're risking your health as well as others. I'm playing it safe, because I truly don't know what I believe. It's like asking if there was voter fraud. I. don't. know. 

Stay In Your Lane

Let people do what they want. Make sure you focus on you and your surroundings. For myself, my main concern is my relationship with God, making sure my relationship with my better half is nurturing and loving as well as keeping my home clean and cozy. I can say we're in end times because of this pandemic, but this has happened 100 years ago with the Spanish Flu. History usually repeats itself, and for whatever reason, people seem to forget that. "Well, what about all the civil unrest?" It's happened many times before, and it'll continue to happen again and again. It's human nature. No one knows the day or hour, not even the angels in heaven. That can be found in the book of Matthew. If you're a Christian preaching that it's the end times, read the verse again. Some Christians are having dreams and calling themselves prophets. Well, maybe. I don't know. Nobody knows. Our timeframe does not match heaven's. So they can definitely be dreaming about the rapture, but they haven't got a clue as to 'when.' And that's just a biblical fact. Whatever you believe---go with it. But don't tear someone else apart just because they don't believe what you believe. Stay in your lane and remember, it's okay to have a different opinion or belief. 

We're all suffering in different ways. 

May God bless you and keep 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, October 28, 2020

Disconnected From Being Too Connected

Isn't it fascinating how some people can tear you apart over on social media (keyboard warriors) but in real life, they wouldn't dare confront you? Even if I'm debating with someone online, I try to take a respectable approach, a nicer approach, because it's the adult thing to do. It's what I want to do. I want to treat you with respect, and hear you out, but also be allowed to give you my opinion as well. But what happens when you're verbally attacked and insulted for say, tweeting out an opinion? Would that same person be willing to say that face-to-face? I could not even make this up, but a woman named, Karen----go ahead and laugh it out----seemed to be upset when I replied to a tweet that said, "People recovering from COVID-19 may suffer from significant brain function impacts, with the worst cases of the infection linked to mental decline equivalent to the brain aging by 10 years, researchers warn."   

So I responded...


Karen decided to chime in, but she was missing the entire point of my tweet. 



I explained to her that she was missing my point. Maybe the caps lock caught her off guard and she assumed I was "screaming," but she took this tweet to a whole new level. I told her that I believe the virus is very real, and that we need to look at other issues, like mental health. The isolation, social distancing and lack of human contact can and will have an impact on our brains as humans. We need that interaction. I also told her I knew of a couple of people in my life who committed suicide due to this pandemic. Then it calmed down. She was explaining to me how sad she was that her mother was in a nursing home dying, and she has no way to be with her in person. That truly broke my heart. See, it's not that I don't want to wear a mask, or social distance, or comply with whatever mandates there are, what I want is to go back to 2019! A time I once complained about, also a time when we all hugged one another, never fearing the common cold or the seasonal flu. I want that back. This is why I appeared to be "screaming." I want to hug my sisters! I want to hug my friends again. I'm so sad over this, and so are many many people!  She even tried to make it political, and my response was, "I'm sorry to hear that. Me too. I suffer with anxiety & depression, and this has truly taken a toll. Even seeing friends kill themselves over this. Between the fear of COVID & isolation, it's slamming us in various ways. Politics aside, we all have to push through this somehow." I wasn't going there after we somehow managed to have a warm conversation about this heartbreaking fiasco we are all facing one way or another. 

Disconnected By Being Connected

Whether you want to admit it or not, we are all somehow more connected to the internet more than ever. Maybe you've weaned off since last spring, but most of us are now working virtually, with Zoom meetings, plus having virtual doctor visits. It is nice to see some people getting together safely, and while that's okay, I'm still not ready for that and I also have no judgment against it. It's none of my business what people do with their own lives. I've learned that doctors are more knowledgable in treating COVID more than every before, and there are much less deaths, but it still keeps me at bay for now. With all that being said, many people are relying solely on social media to "connect" with one another. Some use it as the only means to communicate. The virus somehow has become one big political fiasco. People are "unfriending" one another---(yes that word is actually in the Webster's Dictionary now,) due to political differences, among other reasons. One simple tap on the "friend" button, and you can delete that person completely out of your life, if you so choose to. Or, you can be an adult and not discuss politics, or perhaps talk to them with whatever you're upset over with your "friend." It's not that hard, but these days, especially the younger generation, it's just easier to tap the button and be gone with them. And that's the beauty of "social" media. 

Face-to-Face 

My point being, is that people are starting to live online, even if they're out 'n about, they're more attached to their devices and in tune to what others are doing or who they are spending their time with. There are more "fights" ---and vicious ones online. The keyboard warriors will strike at any moment, but they won't approach you face-to-face. It's the same kind of deal with road rage. People are brave in their cars, because they feel that somehow, that car can zoom away from the situation after they've flipped a bird or two. But when the traffic light turns red and there's nowhere to go, a very dangerous confrontation can take place, some even deadly. I'll never forget the time my ex-boyfriend picked me up to go out on a Friday evening. Some guy in a utility work car cut us off. At the age of 17, I flipped him the bird. Well, he not only stopped in the middle of the road---he maneuvered the car to where we couldn't drive past him. He took my boyfriend out of the car, literally held him by his neck with his feet not touching the ground, and luckily, our friends were right behind us---very muscular wrestling friends who scared off this angry guy. We got away with it, but what if our big 'n buff friends weren't there for us? 

How I wish we were living back in the good ol' days---the days of no cell phones, where we literally had to walk out of our houses to keep in touch with our neighbors, friends and relatives. I'm going to date myself by saying this, but I grew up in a time when we had party lines. NO, not the 'dating party lines.' Our rotary phones were all connected to our neighbors' phones too. So when they got a call, our phones would ring as well with a slight different ring to it. Sometimes, you can hear someone eavesdropping on you, which was kind of creepy. So the good ol' days weren't perfect either, but they were much simpler times. 

The Takeaway 

So before you "unfriend" or tell someone off online, ask yourself this question first: would I do this in person. Would I walk up to them and say, "I'm not your friend anymore," or would you approach a complete stranger who happens to be voting for someone different and call them a bunch of names your mama would cringe at? It doesn't take a lot to communicate. Even if you have differences with somebody, remember, we have more in common than not. It's so worth it to talk it out like civil human beings, rather than push them away or verbally attack them for an unshared opinion. Why can't we respect each other's views and beliefs, even if they aren't our own? What about telling your friend why you're "unfriending" them electronically? A good talk over a cup of coffee is much better than tapping the 'unfriend' button over something that may just be a misunderstanding. Even if things didn't get resolved, you walk away knowing you had the courage to have that conversation, as we all did back in the 70's & 80's. Ok, time to take my Geritol and call it a day. 

Be kind, rewind. 
(And if you didn't understand the above, you're too young to read my blog!) <insert laughing emoticon>

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 21, 2020

A Very Dark Winter Ahead of Us

 "Do you need a hug?" Madelene asked, before she was heading off to work. I was crying into my coffee, reading a scripture that said something along the lines of, "God can giveth and God can taketh - and to be prepared for anything God takes from you." My heart felt incredibly heavy, thinking---"How could I possibly go through another loss? Not now, not ever, please." I kept thinking about the loss of my dad, my mama, the house, to the pandemic, the isolation, my freedom, and the ability to do everyday normal things. But, then Madelene pointed something out to me. She said, "You may be interpreting that incorrectly." I didn't understand. But she explained that it may just be God removing an obstacle--or even my anxiety or something that's unpleasant in my life---hopefully the pandemic itself. Then again she asked, "Do you need a hug?" I gave her a big ol' bear hug, possibly crushing her collarbone, but it's all good. It felt good to be hugged. 

The Predicted "Dark Winter"

Back in the late spring, when we were still in the midst of the pandemic, I remember a doctor on the news said something that always stuck with me. He said, "We are going to have a very dark winter." He didn't even elaborate on it, and perhaps he didn't have to, but for some reason, it stuck. If you think about it, it gets dark earlier, and the sun rises much later now. Between the shorter days, and longer nights, combined with a predicted "bad winter"---our mental health is going to be at stake. We need to do everything possible to help ease the pain of isolation and less human interaction. Some may fall into a dark pit of depression. We need to make our homes a "productive environment"---a place that has many things to do, whether it's setting up a particular room just for art, music, reading, writing, exercising or even just for playing games. I set up each room differently. I have our spare bedroom as my prayer & meditation room. I have the upstairs office as my broadcasting and Zoom meeting room, and the downstairs dining room area is the place I actually write my articles in, because it's nice and bright in there because I'm next to a huge window. I never go into the bedroom, unless it's to go to sleep. Entertainment, and all movies watched are to be downstairs in the living room. It's not great to set up your bedroom as the "entertainment room"---especially if it's gonna get darker soon. No matter if it's pitch black at 4pm, do not go to bed! 

Some people even buy a UV-free therapy lamp to help with the affects of (SAD) seasonal affective disorder, which many people can develop when not exposed to sunlight as much. I have one myself, but I honestly cannot tell you if it helps. I didn't notice a difference, but many people swear by them. I do load up on vitamin D3 with K2. Always make sure your vitamin D3 has K2 in it, because it's healthier for your heart. I normally take 5,000 IUs daily, and will now double my dosage, but please get a blood test to determine the exact amount that you need, otherwise, it may have some adverse health risks. The best way is to spend at least 15-20 minutes outdoors, along with your vitamin D supplements. This has helped me a great deal. 

Coffee Is Life 

I'm also a HUGE advocate for coffee. Now if you're reading this and you suffer from anxiety or panic attacks, you may want to opt for the half-caff coffee, but studies have proven that people who drink coffee on a daily basis are less likely to commit suicide. Yes, it sounds extreme, but there are actual studies on this. But if your heart races after a good cup o' Joe---you may want to opt for something lesser. Whenever my heart raced, I realized the mere thought of caffeine possibly raising my heart rate gave me anxiety--not the coffee. Sometimes it's a psychosomatic. There are many times when I drink coffee, where I can literally go right to sleep. But all in all, it's my 'happy juice.' 

Stop the 'Whining'

I did however, give up my other 'happy juice'---wine. That has eliminated a lot of my issues, like insomnia, tachycardia (rapid heart rate) and depression. When I had my daily glass of wine, for some reason, my mind would regress back to the past, when my parents were alive---the 'good ol' days' --- and not that it's bad to think back on memories, but I got stuck there. Now that I have limited my wine intake to once a week, I rarely get stuck. It's helped my moods, and my general well-being. So if you find that you're depressed, crying a lot, or having bouts of mood swings, try eliminating alcohol for a couple of weeks and notice the difference. 

Whether you believe that this virus is real, fake or political---it's here and it's affecting our lives in huge ways. For me, I was starting to think that it was more political, and that they 'made up the virus' because I was being fed that info. The theory made sense, but my friend who is now in the hospital with COVID didn't make sense. Then the numbers started to rise in our area, and hospitals once again are starting to fill up. I recently shared that my friend was in the hospital in ICU battling COVID (she is home now thank God!) --- she got combative saying, "I WILL NOT LIVE IN FEAR! She probably had some kind of health issue." I calmly told her, "No, she is only 35 years old with no underlining health issues. I wasn't saying it to scare her---I was sharing the info because I was generally upset and worried. 

So what's worse they say.... "they say"--- getting COVID or being isolated and social distancing? I guess that depends on if you have an underlining condition. For myself, back in October of 2017, I almost died of the flu. My temp went as high as 104, I had to be hospitalized, being pumped up with steroids and albuterol nebulizers. I had what's called, "pleurisy" ---which is an inflammation of the lining of your lungs. The pain was so bad, that I couldn't even cry out in pain, it hurt so much. I never....ever....ever....want to experience that kind of illness again. So if the flu rocked my world, I don't want to see what COVID has to offer this fall. I had a mild case back in March---but if it hits stronger this year, I don't know what I'd do.

No Absolute Truth = Division  

How sad is it that in this day of age, we cannot get TRUTH as news, or TRUTH regarding a virus that has reached pandemic levels? We are debating---we are DEBATING whether or not the virus is real, or whether or not we should "live our lives" and "not be controlled by the government." Some feel that we are headed straight into a communistic world, while others believe that this is, indeed a virus that we need to put at bay by complying with the government. How and where do you stand on this? Or, how do you share your thoughts on this pandemic without being bashed by an opposing view? How do you say, "No thank you" to an invite, especially if it's your family and close friends? And that's something I had to do today unfortunately, because their kids hang out with many other kids, and they come back home asymptomatic, not realizing they're spreading anything. But, "they have to live their lives, it's not fair." I totally get that. But I have to protect myself in the process. 

The Red Zoned Communities 

We have a religious community nearby, where most of them are not complying with government mandates. Many are unmasked and gathering by the thousands for religious holidays and funerals. They are considered "the red zone" because they have infected much of their own community, yet they are walking into ours as well. The other day, Madelene and I went to go to the farmer's market where all the venders from different surrounding towns come to sell their produce and other goods. I went to the entrance, where they had a table of gloves you can wear. As soon as I put them on and looked up to see the venders, the residents of the religious community were saturated inside, touching the fruits and vegetables, even sniffing it---I threw my gloves out and left. Some would call that being "prejudice"---I call it, social distancing. 

As our world grows strangely dim, we are seeing more people divided more than ever. We have false information spreading like wildfire, people fighting over the simplest of things because we are all so sick and tired of being restricted. Many of us are sick and tired of being "too cautious" going out. We just want our world back as it once was....yes, the one we used to complain about. 

So this winter, what is your game plan on tackling the shorter days along with this pandemic combined with the flu? What will you do for your mental wellness that'll help you cope through these dark days? 

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!

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Unpopular Opinion: Ditch the AA Meetings

This may be an unpopular opinion, so bear with me. I'm trying to share my thoughts and experiences with you on why I disagree with the 12 step program. About 12 years ago, I attended my first AA meeting because I wanted to do a 90 day clean out. Yes, you can attend meetings if you are doing this. Will you be completely embraced by the members? From my experience---no. Also, the only requirement of AA is if you have the desire to stop drinking. I remember feeling so isolated from the group as they spoke about their stories. Many eyes shifted my way, judging or guessing what my poison was. The other unnerving experience in this was seeing faces that I recognized. That's the risk you take going to a local meeting....note taken! But in a way, it was sort of comforting to see some of my old friends in there, and even some who I used to party with. Odd, yet familiar. I was never the type of drinker where I had to wake up and chug down the good ol' 'hair of the dog' in order to get through my day. I was more or less a binge drinker at night and a weekend warrior. There was really no stopping at one. At that time, it was beer after beer along with the in between shots of vodka. Sometimes, it was a strong martini, followed by 6-8 bottles of beer on a good night. Hangovers only meant stronger coffee in the morning with extra bacon. Hangovers were never feared, only embraced with a little self-love and a few regrets. 

High Bottoms and Low Bottoms

My days at AA were knowingly temporary. That came with a few sneers from the other members, but they had to welcome me anyway. I was there to 'clean out' -- not to quit entirely. There were people there that had to go because they had gotten a DWI---no sneers at them, even though they grunted through the entire hour. As people were telling their stories one by one, it was my turn. I explained that I noticed a pattern, and I wanted to know that I was able to quit. As I was explaining how I go on a 90 day hiatus during the fall season, some rolled their eyes, while others made some strange comments. One comment darted at me was, "Well, you're a 'high bottom,' so you don't know what it's like to almost lose your life or lose someone to alcohol." As this woman assumed everything about me, I didn't even correct her because she was already on the defense about me. I didn't even know what the heck a "high bottom" was. A high bottom is someone who drinks without experiencing a DWI, rehab, losing someone through death, cirrhosis of the liver, and maybe losing their home or being completely and utterly downtrodden. That's what you would call a "low bottom." Low bottom is basically hitting rock bottom. But as it states in the Big Book---the only requirement for being in AA is to have a desire to quit. 

Trading Off Addictions 

I also noticed that this wasn't an addiction-free group. People were exchanging their booze for donuts, candy and copious amounts of coffee and cigarettes. It was one addiction or another. I'll see your diabetes for my cirrhosis, thank you very much. Another woman walked over me after a meeting, shaky and stuttering, asking me, "What do you do to take the edge off?" I told her I drink chamomile tea and try to meditate. She said, "No, I mean, do you take something to take the edge off? I pop a lot of Benadryl." One guy said during a meeting, "If I wasn't such a heavy pot smoker, I don't think I could be sober." The director of the group quickly interjected saying, "We're not supposed to be saying that in front of the group, nor replacing one addiction for another," as he unwrapped a Jolly Rancher. The entire system is broken in my opinion. It's not only broken, but it's hypocritical. Everything about it contradicts itself. AA was founded on Christian beliefs. And then as they wanted to include everyone, it states, that the twelve steps refer to a higher power or God--“as you understand him,” but during meetings and in AA literature, the mention of any particular religion is discouraged. In this way, anyone can attend without feeling pressure to join a particular religion, belief system, or church. Many churches are encouraging other faiths to join, like Unitarian---they welcome all. Although this sounds incredibly peaceful, this can be dangerous in my belief as a Christian. It's infiltrating religious beliefs, core values and lack thereof, which can alter one's ability to stay faithful to God. So they say, "Our higher power"---which to me, there is only one higher power, and that's Jesus. I will say His name loud and proud. 

My Reasonings For My 90 Day Hiatuses 

Fast forward twelve years and here I am, on my annual 90 day clean out, which means, I do not drink during the week, but only a glass or two of wine on a Sunday evening. I can exchange the day if I need to. But it's to know that I can stop at one drink---at one day. It also gives me a newfound respect for wine. Wine (or whatever your poison is) is supposed to be used for celebrating. It's supposed to be enjoyed, and not used for self-medicating. In the Bible, in Proverbs 36: 6-7 it states, "Alcohol is for people who are dying, for those who are in misery. Let them drink and forget their poverty and unhappiness." There are other translations that speak about alcohol being for those who are down 'n out----for the downtrodden and who are hopeless. So when I think about what the Bible teaches us about alcohol, Jesus drank wine---He even made water into wine---but He made it for what? Celebrations! You are supposed to drink when you are happy, when you are around others who are happy as well. So this is what I am trying to do. I don't want to grab the wine after work because I had a bad day. I don't want to grab the wine just because something didn't go right in my life. I don't want to grab the wine because I'm mourning over my mother....anymore. I want to grab the wine because I am happy with who I am, where I am and with who I'm with. 

The Grim Reality

Over the years, I noticed my body was changing, and well, as age slapped me in the face, I began to "sober up" and realize how much alcohol was not only ruining my sleep, but it exasperated my anxiety, grief and myoclonic seizures. I noticed that my hangovers weren't just hangovers, they were straight up emergencies. No more fancy bloody Marys or greasy breakfasts to ease the pain. My heart rate would reach 200 bpm easily, with my head pounding relentlessly. Then came a sickness like no other, as if I had eaten five pounds of raw ground beef in one sitting. You get my drift. When I was caring for my mom, my alcohol increased. I was having anticipatory grief. I knew mom was dying----it was the worst fear of my entire life, even as a toddler! As I made dinner, the the wine was already poured. I drank myself through the cooking process, sometimes it would take one hour, other times three hours. By the time I sat down to eat with everyone, I was three sheets to the wind. And then, I'd poured another glass....and another. I couldn't feel what I was feeling. I didn't want to show mom how scared I was to lose her. I didn't want her to know that I knew she wouldn't be here for long, so down went another glass. It was then, that I realized that I was self-medicating. 

Fast forward three years, my abuse of alcohol became a newfound respect for alcohol. And that's the key: you can't abuse alcohol. You need to respect it. If you respect it---it respects you. When you abuse it---it'll abuse you twice as hard. When my mom passed away, I needed to cope with these 'underground' feelings that needed to come up to the surface. So I started my three month hiatus---with no "one day free pass" to look forward to. This was a strict 90 day clean out. Some days were harder than others, while other days were simply observing everything I've been unaware about. My tastebuds were impeccable (which can be a bad thing mind you) --and my observation on how people behaved while they drank was an awakening for me as well. I never 'saw' this because I was also drinking along with them. After the 90 day hiatus, my wine intake was minimal. I never went past two or three. But it was on a daily basis. I said, "Well, they say three drinks a day is moderate."  Not really, when you're sleep deprived and your heart's racing from a lack of electrolytes in the early morning hours when the alcohol wears off. So now, my respect for wine means respect for myself. I save my "wine day" for when my better half and I are having a nice Sunday dinner. We both have off on Mondays and even though I only have two glasses at most, the alcohol will disrupt my sleep. So knowing that my sleep will be less that night, it's not a big deal. 

You ARE Powerful!

The first step in AA is admitting that you are powerless over the addiction. See, for me this goes against everything I believe in, and everything that a "Christian based program" should be against. Words have power, and by stating that you are powerless, gives your addiction more power over you. This is why many people don't stay with the program. We should be happy about God's strength when we are weak, as it says in the Bible: “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” The more apparent Paul’s weaknesses were, the more obvious it was that his successes came from Jesus. It says in Luke, "He gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases,"----alcoholism is known to be a "disease." And if you believe in God, you should believe that you have power and authority over the enemy---that you have the POWER against the alcohol controlling your life. You control your life. But people will go on and on about how powerless they are, and I understand the concept of what they're saying---but I can't help but think, "Where is your 'higher power' when you're speaking like this? You have power and authority, as it is written!" 

Disassociate With Friends & Family

AA focused a lot on our willingness to let go of friends who used to drink with us. I asked a question during a meeting once and said, "What if the 'friends who drank with me' are my own family?" And the director stated, "Then you need to remove yourself from that toxic environment." My family wasn't "toxic" nor were they alcoholics---they just had a few glasses of wine during occasions or a night out at a restaurant. And even if it was a daily practice, "I" should be strong enough and willing enough to know what's best for me. Just the other day, I had someone who knew I was trying to not drink during the week. He asked, "Well, does your partner drink still?" And I said, "Yeah, she drinks with her dinner and that's it." I got a lecture on how she was being selfish for doing that if she knows I'm trying to quit. See, I don't see her as being "selfish." NOT at all. First of all, she deserves that damn drink after the hours of her clients unleashing their fury out on her. Another thing is, I did NOT quit entirely. I am only trying to drink on my terms---on terms of celebrations only---not because I'm stressed or trying to ease my anxiety. There's a huge difference. Even if I was to indefinitely quit---I would not want others around me to tiptoe through the tulips to grab their vodka and tonics. STOP. And I'm not going to break ties with friends and family just because they can drink without having issues. It doesn't tempt me. My anxiety and stressors tempt me---and usually I'm tempted when I'm all by myself. So there's that.

My point is, AA is a strange little cult. I respect anyone who was able to quit using AA, who has had success working their program, but the hypocrisy and trading off one addiction or another, as well as the judgments passed while I was in there was enough for me to leave that group for good. Instead of an "Alcoholics Anonymous"---they truly need a program to get away from the AA group itself. I know this is a very unpopular opinion, but from my experience, it's a very tight judgmental club, where only certain people are included. If they think you're not "one of them"----good luck finding a sponsor. I was denied a sponsor the entire three months of my stay in AA. A nice man wanted to be my sponsor. He'd been in there for several years. He was also gay. The director actually yelled at us. "Coed sponsorships are highly discouraged in here!" I turned to her and said, "Great. We're both gay. So now what?" 

Ditch the AA. You are POWERFUL. And if you are a follower of Christ, your "higher power" is JESUS, not meshed in with anything other than the Holy Spirit. 

Ok, I'm done here.

Enjoy the beautiful weekend ahead of us! 

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 07, 2020

Bottled Up Emotions: Casting All Your Cares

My heart's been feeling heavy lately, and I'm not sure why. I mean, I can list off a ton of heartbreaking stories, but none of it is sticking out right now. I just have the 'blahs' but yet, I'm okay. Last night, I sat in my little prayer room upstairs, lit some candles and was going to just pray and tell God everything. But nothing came out of my mouth. I even tried to muster stuff up in my mind---things I wanted to get off my chest, but nothing came out. Nothing was standing out in my mind. There were all frivolous types of thoughts going on: "Make sure to prep for my virtual meeting 1pm---Did I check my bank account to see if that fraudulent charge was cleared---Will our town shutdown again---What if I get sick again---What if, what if, what if...." I kept hearing in my heart, "Tell me everything." Nothing but unimportant things were surfacing, and I felt something deep inside tugging at me---giving me interrupted sleep for the past couple of nights. I took a deep breath and just sighed out a request, "Just please talk to me instead, I can't seem to hear you lately" but I didn't hear anything. 

Early this morning, I woke up at 6:30, put the coffee on, and then made breakfast for Mad, Lola and myself. Yes, I make doggy bacon and one egg for my little fur baby. Don't judge. If I don't get up in time, Lola will climb up on me and whine right into my ear. As I was cooking their eggs, tears started falling. I don't even know why. I don't even know what I was thinking. My heart just felt so incredibly heavy. I think the gang may've gotten a few tears in their eggs this morning. Then Madelene tapped my shoulder and said, "Need a hug?" And yes. I. did. --I needed a big ol' bear hug. 

When I sat down, I shuffled through emails & social media, and then just cleared my head to start work. But something stood out. My friend posts these daily Christian devotionals up on her Facebook account. In fact, my screen locked onto it---I couldn't get out of it, because I was trying to put my phone back down and opt out of the app. 

This came up. 


Every morning, before my feet even hit the ground, I say the last scripture in Psalm 118:24, "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." Always. But my mind wasn't thinking about anything sad, it was fearing the worst again. My mind regressed back to when it was March---when we got blasted with COVID, the lockdowns, the social distancing, the masks, the "time out" --- or --- the "New York Pause." The world stopped. Not a soul to be found anywhere, other than in a park or a long line waiting for food outside of Walmart. It looked like we went straight into communism overnight. I remember feeling this heaviness---our world as we know it is simply gone....just. like. that. I mourned for what was, and really didn't know if we'd ever go back to "normal" again. The phrase, "the new normal" was bullshit to me. I'm not accepting a "new normal"---that's what you say when a loved ones passes away. That's what you say if the world is indefinitely, gone. But, is it gone? Have we lost the world? 

So when I sat down, and God said to me through that devotional, "In order to hear me, you must release all of your worries into my care." I guess I haven't been doing that. It's heartbreaking to scroll through social media posts, seeing people predicting the death of our president. "Oh he's not going to make it through the second wave of his illness, buh-bye Trump!" People are happy that our president is ill! What has happened to our world? Whatever happened to praying for someone who's sick? What about loving your enemies? What happened to our society? I was also reading tweets straight from ER doctors. One doc stood out to me, as he predicted the "crash" of Trump's second wave of his illness, but more alarmingly, the responses on his tweet were from EMTs, hospice workers as well as hospital staffers---they all said hoped for the same thing. 


Well, Mr. Grumpy Doc, he's still here and he's going to recover. Or, I hope he fully recovers, no matter if I like or dislike him. And beyond Twitter, I caught a "friend" live streaming on Facebook. Her title was, "F*** Donald Trump and F*** You For Supporting Him!"


This woman was also wishing death on the president, as you can see the hashtag, #donnyfor6ftunder. You have to have a whole lotta' hatred in your heart to wish that sort of thing. Even if the person is the worst person you've ever known, wishing death on someone is the same thing as murder in the Bible. There's good in everyone. In 1 John 3:15, it states, "Everyone who hates a brother or sister in a murderer, and you know that murderers don't have eternal life residing in them." So what this says to me, is basically, if you hate someone in your heart, you have no *life* living within you. It means that you're already dead inside. It doesn't mean that God won't forgive you---it means that you need help. You need to get that darkness out of your heart, in order to have eternal life, and a life worth living in the here and now. Only miserable and sad people will wish this sort of thing on someone. 

"Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." --Ephesians 4:31-32

We have more in common than social media portrays. But let's bring it down even locally. What about the people around you? Some have grievances towards one another. Something happened in the past that they never forgave each other for. And there's always three sides to a story: yours, theirs, and the truth. "Truth" be told, some people don't see the scenario as "you" do. Meaning, their side of the story is seen from a different perspective---not necessarily in a disagreeing manner. We all have our own personal problems and issues. On top of that, to have arguments and grievances toward one another just puts the cherry on top. 

Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. The second greatest commandment He says is like it, love your neighbor as yourself. 
--Matthew 22:36-40 

And then I had to think about my own circumstances here at home. I recently had an issue on Sunday morning. The new neighbors who I share a wall with were blasting rap music as early as 6:30 am. Normally, I love hearing people having fun, listening to music or even people having parties. It makes my heart happy to hear happiness around me. But 6:30am on a Sunday morning---your happiness is my anger. And so, I was furious. I didn't sleep well the night before, and I just couldn't understand for the life of me, why anyone would be blasting music this early. Our mirrors and picture frames were all rattling. This went on until 2pm. At one point, I punched our shared wall. I understand this is "community living," but there are exceptions, like being considerate to those around you. Common sense 101: blasting music at 6:30 am on a Sunday morning is going to make for bad neighbors. It trickled over into complaining to my friend who lives in the next building over. After a couple of days, I cooled off and realized, maybe this is how they live. Maybe this is their routine. Just because I don't understand it, doesn't mean it's not "their norm." So later today, I'll be gifting them a basket of goodies and welcoming them to our neighborhood. A little kindness goes a long way, although my friend was laughing over the way I reacted and going on and on about it. I was fuming. So not worth it, especially if you literally have to live with people, even if it's a shared wall. So, lesson learned. Technically, I have to love thy neighbor. Back in the day, that term was used in a literal sense. We only knew our neighbors, because we didn't have technology to call someone, or have much of a chance to grab our nearest donkey and visit someone. Our neighbors were the ones we had to be "family" with. Shouldn't it that way today? It's so important to make allowances for one another, forgiving each other, even if you don't understand it. Communication is so important as well. So next time my neighbor is exercising to her rap music way too early on a Sunday morning, maybe I'll walk over with a box of donuts and ask if she could lower it. (Yes, the donuts are the revenge portion of it.) 
I'm trying to release the "static" out of my system. I didn't even know I had any in me. I had an array of negative emotions, from anger, grief, fear, bitterness and sadness. I didn't release them fully. But the evidence was, that it was keeping me up at night, and kept giving me shallow thoughts. I couldn't focus on meaningful things, especially focusing on God and how to pray and meditate. So when your mind feels scrambled like an egg, before you start dropping tears into them, start releasing all of your cares to God. 

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