Friday, December 28, 2018

The Art of Being Disingenuous

As we were driving back home from our friend's 40th birthday party, Madelene asked me if I noticed all of the bickering our friend and her husband were doing in the kitchen. At one point, their argument became so heated that he had to step out for a drive. He didn't return home for about an hour. Sometimes, I can be so naive to these things. I rarely take notice when there's a lot going on in one place. It's all I can do to just listen to just one conversation.

"She's not happy." Madelene said.
"I don't know, I rarely get myself involved or ask anything personal." I said.
"You don't need to--it's so evident," she said, as she looked toward our friend in the backseat for confirmation.
"She has to be happy--I mean, look at the house he has provided for her. He just got her a new car too! Did you see that huge rock on her finger?"

Why would someone stay with their spouse if there is more unhappiness than anything else? If it's all about the money and provisions, then how sad is that? I would seriously live in a tent with someone I love with all my heart, rather than live with someone who disrespects me, cheats on me or treats me poorly who happens to be rich. Money has never caught my eye. A person's heart and sincerity---a person's dignity and willingness to make a life with me catches my eye. Is it disingenuous for a woman to stay with her husband just because he provides a "good life" for her, even though it's a loveless marriage? I know quite a few wealthy people who think that money "should" be able to buy love. "Well, I'm a good provider, therefore, I'm a great catch."


A good catch is someone who comes back home at the end of the day, kisses you softly, and then asks, "How was your day?"

A good catch is someone who has cleaned the house, cooked a healthy meal for you and the family and when you return from home, she kisses you softly and asks, "How was your day?"

A good catch is someone who holds your hand while watching a movie. It's affection--human contact--unconditional love--it's being silly together.

A good catch is someone who will hold you during the night when you feel anxious or worried so that you can fall asleep.

A good catch is someone who shares the same faith as you do, edifying your own beliefs, bringing you closer to God.

A good catch is someone who respects you and treats you as they would themselves.

A good catch is someone who would take care of you while you're sick, cover you with a warm blanket, make you homemade chicken soup, or just a simple cup of tea. It's about the effort.

A good catch will understand when there comes a time in your relationship or marriage when one gets sick and unable to be that ~fiery tiger~ at night, and decides to let you rest---someone who will wait for you. For sickness and in health.

A good catch will make you laugh so that you can forget about your problems.

A good catch is loyal, respectful, honest and willing to go the extra mile to see a smile on your face.

Anything other than that, is disingenuous.

On another note, couple of months ago, Madelene and I started to go to a new church in our area. I was excited to be apart of a new group and maybe meet other people of the same faith. I wanted to somehow get involved in the church, maybe volunteer my time or become part of the music section since I've been playing guitar for 34 years now. As we kept going back each Sunday, I noticed there was something missing. I kept stating how the church was a bit 'lackluster'---they had no umph! It definitely wasn't a spirit-filled church in my opinion.

Then, each time the pastors stepped up for their individual sermons, each one had a common tone---a tone that set off this feeling of insincerity---like someone 'trying to hard.' There was no zeal--no passion for what they were speaking about. There was no anointing. You know when you're in church and you get those 'feel good goose bumps' all over? There was none of that whatsoever. Even the church members looked like a bunch of zombies, bored out of their minds. Then one Sunday, a young man in his mid-twenties stepped up and his entire sermon was all about him. He wasn't trying to praise God or teach us something about the Bible---he was trying his best to win us over. He wasn't preaching the Word of God--he was trying to make a name for himself only. And that's the gist I got out of that church and I never returned. It was a self-serving, disingenuous church.

Years ago, we attended a church that absolutely took our breath away. Each time we left the church, we came back with a new understanding of our faith, and even a new message that God had for us. After each praise of worship, there was crying and weeping of joy---the Holy Spirit filled up the entire church, affecting everyone in its path, including us! I have never felt such a spirit-filled environment before. Each time the pastors got up to speak, they weren't speaking for themselves---they weren't speaking to just hear themselves talk. These pastors were there to bring the presence of God, and to welcome the Holy Spirit as well as to teach everyone what the message of the day was. God always has a message for you when you walk into a place of worship. If you do not get a message, it's one or two reasons---maybe you're blocking it yourself and not open enough to hear it, or maybe the pastor isn't being sincere enough, only ministering to make a name for himself. You can feel it. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, that church closed down and moved farther away. This weekend, we are attending a new church and hoping for the best.

What about people? Friends, family, coworkers, strangers---anyone.

Every morning, I pray for discernment. I pray that God will let me know the motives of people. I can pick up disingenuous people pretty quickly. But sometimes, when I give too much of the benefit of the doubt, I can be easily fooled. Thing is, we're all human and we make mistakes sometimes. As it says in the Father's prayer----"...forgive us for our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us"---we should forgive one another for our humanness. But what if someone's "humanness" gets in the way of the friendship itself, by being manipulative or intentionally using someone to get whatever benefit they are seeking? It's easier to walk away from a coworker or stranger, but how easy is it to put on the brakes with a friend or relative who may be using you? It's not easy at all. In fact, calling someone out on their ill intentioned motives may put them in a self-defense 'backing a tiger in the corner' type of reaction.

Again, as I said in my previous post, I have a lot of people thinking that I'm some sort of millionaire. I'm a free-lance blogger, author and editor. I work mainly off my advertisers who pay me. I don't make a huge bundle, but I pay my bills and I'm happy with what I have. I even have enough time to clean the house and cook a healthy homemade dinner for my wife. She deserves it since she works her butt off all day long, dealing with uptight, mean rich people. More often than not, we'll have friends who simply use us for something. How do we know? It eventually rears its ugly head when we see the person doing the same or more for another friend. A friendship should be an equal give and take. When one feels exhausted over the efforts they have to do in order to maintain a level of 'happiness' for that friend, then something is out of balance. Whether it's due to money or just being a slave for someone without the return offer of helping out in some way, then it becomes a question of: why are you really our friend? Everything in the world needs balance, whether in friendships or marriages. Balance is everything. If you decide to keep that balance more in your favor, you risk the friendship entirely. I had a friend who would only call and ask me to do something with her, only because her plans fell through. I was her last resort. I remember when she hit the last straw with me. My mother had just passed away and she said, "Let me come over and help you a little." I was thrilled! Usually, she was always coming over because I was making a spectacular dinner, as she drank my good wine. But this time, when she called and offered this, I remember I was lying in bed with tear tracks down my cheeks from crying nonstop. I asked her, "Would you make me that soup you always make?" Immediately after I asked her this, she said, "Oh, I forgot! I have plans! Sorry" That was the last straw. She wanted to come here to eat, drink and use us as her own personal B&B, as she used to call my home.

I asked another friend of mine, "Is it me? I just keep losing friends all the time. Am I asking too much?" And she said, "No Deb, you do too much and you're attracting the leeches of society." With that being said, I am in no way expecting a gift for a gift. I give without expectations, but I can pin out a person who is only in the friendship to get something out of it. I love cooking and entertaining for my friends and telling them, "Please just bring yourselves," and I genuinely mean that. But sometimes, it's nice when a friend comes over or surprises you with an unexpected gift from the heart----not a monetary gift, but something they can provide for you, like good advice, a friendly ear, or perhaps even help you cook. I've also been known to be "the therapist." I've had quite a few friends lay on my sofa talking for hours on end about their lives, never once asking how I was doing. If by chance, I got a word in edgewise, their eyes would dart around the room like a child who was completely and utterly bored. So I did an experiment with a friend the last time she was here. I wanted to see how long she would go on talking about her problems, her significant other, as well as her cockamamie stories---four hours later, I was still sitting in my recliner listening to inappropriate sexual stories that no one needed to hear or visualize. I knew right then, I needed to make a change.

People don't have to use you for money. Some people will treat you like a damn therapist, leaving you completely exasperated. Emotional vampires who literally rape your ear can be more toxic for you than someone who uses you for money. I think this is part of the reason why I don't do "peopling" well. Although, I do believe in not expecting much in people because let's face it, we'll always be disappointed, there's another side of me that believes that there are good-hearted and good-intentioned souls out there who truly want a balanced friendship. Friendships shouldn't be that complicated. It's only when you come across a disingenuous person that you'll experience the tip of the scale, favoring their side consistently. I pretty much do everything on my own. My wife and I are a team. I buy the groceries, I cook for my wife, I cook for myself, I clean the house, I pay the bills and I have never once asked for help. If I give or if I invite you to my home for dinner and a place to stay, I do it without the expectation of getting something back. I don't use people. I give from the heart---always. Thinking back, besides my in laws and my sister---there's not anyone I can think of who offered to come here and cook for me, or take care of me when I wasn't feel well. I don't have friends like that. I have fair-weather friends who are only there to reap the benefits. So if you're wondering why I sometimes go into the "recluse" mode, this would be a good explanation. I don't trust people. Most are, well...disingenuous.

For once, I'd love to prove myself wrong on this one.

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

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Intense Grief During the Holidays

The edginess creeped in as the holidays approached. I tried my best to put on a happy face and enjoy 'the living,' as suggested, but I kept seeing flickers of past Christmases when Mom and Dad were still alive. It's not only Christmas that does it, but New Year's Eve too. It was a huge event for us, even till the very end. I started to shut the door more, closing people out, curling up into a ball to try and not feel as much, but anxiety crept in, as well as the intense pain of my grief. Am I depressed? Am I lonely? Am I scared? I don't even know what I feel right now. I delved into my work, to only find myself gasping for air and noticing how empty and cold the house was. It wasn't too long until I finally realized how long it's been since I even left the house. I made all types of excuses, like "Why should I? It's too cold. It's too crowded. I have nothing to purchase." I don't feel like bothering with people. I'm not sure if I would call it agoraphobia so much. I think I'm going through a small bout of depression. I just don't like anything 'out there' anymore. I can go, but I'm not even interested.

Maybe I don't trust people anymore. I have had way too many "friends" take advantage of me. For whatever reason, everybody and their mother thinks I'm some sort of millionaire. They're always waiting for some kind of handout. The 'me me me' people have been pushed away, as I slowly climb back into my safe cocoon. Life is much different since mom died. My best conversations was with my mom. We'd talk for hours and every night, we'd have dinner together. It got tough at the end, watching her decline and suffer with this horrendous beast of an illness. I always felt this overwhelming sense of guilt when she was ill. If I wanted to just go out to dinner for a couple of hours with my partner, somehow, in the back of my mind, I felt I would get in trouble for leaving Mom alone, even though the restaurant was right down the street. I never wanted to leave her alone and tried my best not to. Even when I used to go to the local farm markets with my dog, I'd bring Mom so she could get a little sunshine, even if she sat inside the car with the door open, while smoking her e-cigarette.

We weren't living at all. Soon enough it became an issue of, 'how much more pain medication does she need' instead of hoping for the tumor to shrink. No more good reports of remission, just a terminal sentence...a painful waiting period of 'what if'---more like, 'when.'  I went into anticipatory grief, trying to muffle the sounds of my own dreadful sobbing. But Mom caught me crying and knew why I was so sad. I didn't want to scare her with news she already knew. How will I live without my best friend? What will I do now? How can I manage or cope? I'm a big girl now, but but but... I still need my mama.

I was watching this weird apocalyptic movie where this woman was dying in her dilapidated cabin. Her daughter was taking care of her, hoping she would somehow make it through. But her mom said, "Live your life. I'm dying so that you can live." I started to feel that lump in my throat, trying not to cry. And then a few days later, another movie said the same thing: "I'm dying so you can live." And a day after that, I heard a sermon talking about Jesus, saying, "I died so that you could live." I know what it means, but I'm not "living" yet, Mom. I'm trying my hardest to work with this new life---this "new normal" or whatever they call it. When does it get easier? I honestly think she was the only person in the world who truly knew me inside and out. Now what?

Many times I think to myself, "Will I die from a broken heart?" And as I was tying this, a mama bird came right up to a branch near my office window with a big piece of food--maybe a worm or some kind of slug to bring back for her babies back. Then it landed right onto my balcony and stared right into my window. It was like my mom giving me some sort of sign or a "hello."  Last night, while I was sleeping, I felt someone's breath on my ear and say something---but I couldn't make out what it was, but I felt the air on my ear and how it tickled. I woke up and kept saying, "What? What?" So then, I decided to make a bathroom run, and right when I got to the corner of my bedroom, my guitar strummed a tune by itself. Yes, you can reread that sentence. I stopped right in my tracks and just stared at it. Earlier, I was playing a song I wrote for my mother. It was powerful. Somehow, that guitar played itself at 4am.

Coincidences? Who knows.

Even as God stripped away my desire to drink alcohol (which I prayed for)---my sleep has definitely improved. But now, with the anxiety and grief creeping back in, I could sure use a drink. It's been three months since I stopped drinking like a fish. My sleep has improved, but my anxiety has remained. But then I get a reminder...

"I am leaving you with a gift---peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn't the peace the world gives. So don't be troubled or afraid." --John 14:27

I'd like to think that I'm that somebody who would go out on a limb to help anyone who needs it. I will feed you, give you a place to stay and even give you my own clothes if you need---but as soon as I need someone or something, as soon as I reach out for help, there's nobody there for me. I'm not looking for any sympathy, and I'm not having a pity party for one here, I'm just stating facts. I'm all alone in this. I can feel my body shutting down somewhat. My heart races out of control, palpitations jolting me out of a deep sleep like a hot kernel, and days when I feel like I just can't go on. And all I can hear is the silence of the mountains around me, and the chaos within my own head, crying, screaming for help.

Bear with me as I try and get through this crinkle in life. Therapists say that grief has no time limits or rules, but I don't want to lose myself either. I'm just feeling a whole lotta sadness right now. I feel extremely lonely, yet I'm not pressing to be around anyone either. Hopefully, I will wake up from this dense fog and finally see the sunshine that's been beating down on me this whole time. In the meantime, I'm here. I'm still alive. Somewhat.

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

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Has Social Media Turned Us Into Narcissists?

The truth is, nobody cares. Nobody cares about how many selfies you post up onto your social media. Nobody cares about how you went to the grocery store to find someone on a 20 items or less aisle who had 40 items in his cart. Nobody cares that you got engaged. Nobody cares about how many "likes" and "comments" you get. But they do care about how many "likes" and "comments" they get. Social media has turned people into self-absorbed narcissists. I've never seen a status message or tweet that asked, "How are all my friends doing?" And honestly? I get so tired of people calling me up without the greeting of, "Hey, how are you? Is this a good time to talk?" I get, "Ugh, guess what happened to me today," or "Did you hear about Gary's wife?" I never get, "Hey Deb, how are you?" Never. Periodically, I'll have a friend over and 99.9% of the conversation is all about their lives. If I say one thing about my life, they're scanning around the room bored to tears, until I ask, "So tell me about this person you met?" And the chatterbox will go on and on with a big ol' smile on their face. This is how people communicate now. They only listen so they can respond.

Another downfall of social media is that everyone now has ADD. They cannot read or write past 280 characters. Books have become a thing of the past, and if the book is more than 30 pages long (even digital) they're just not interested. Nobody wants to read, nobody wants to take 'in' or absorb information, they just want to vomit all over social media about their lives and their struggles. Get a therapist. That's what they're there for. I totally understand if someone wants to show photos and videos of their vacation or trip around the world. But overall, when we finally do meet in person---when we finally have a conversation face-to-face, it seems like people have lost all ability to communicate in person. It's almost an extension of social media. "Me, me, me, and more of me." No wonder children are socially awkward these days. They only communicate via text or and if they do something interactive with one another, it's usually through a video game they're both playing at separate locations. Kids don't come over to play ATARI anymore. I remember playing a 2 player ATARI game and then going out sleigh riding afterwards while mom kept hot cocoa waiting for us when we came home.

What does your camera roll look like? 
But I digress, let's get back to the real narcissists. Selfies. We've seen them, we've cringed over a few, and we've also seen the 'every post and emotion' selfies plastered onto somebody's wall. Between the duck face, the bathroom selfies, the aerial shot selfie, where a 300 lb woman could look 100 lbs, as well as the 'head tuck so you don't see my double chin shot.' Society has become obsessed with looking a certain way on social media. Even middle aged women are flaunting what they still got, hoping a little photoshop or filter will fix 'this' or 'that.'  In real life, there are no filters. There's no dubbing out the moles or blemishes. It's just beautiful you as you are, and if people want to judge that, they better take a real hard look in the mirror, because nobody's perfect. Studies have found that people who take multiple selfies, who have a camera roll full of proofs have a form of a mental disorder. You can read more about it here...

I was criticized for this pic. 
We have to start loving ourselves more----not the social media kinda love, but the love where you embrace every single aspect of yourself. Somebody once asked me why I posted a selfie of myself without makeup on. And I said, "Well, if you typically come over after 8pm on a Wednesday night, this is what I'm probably gonna look like." Be real. Be you. And of course, we all like to put our best foot forward and look nice for the camera, but it's so refreshing to see somebody post up pics or videos of themselves, in their natural habitat. (Insert monkey sounds here.) It's all good.

The truth is: beauty fades, wrinkles set in, (unless you have a good surgeon) and pounds add on depending on the person. We would all love to hold onto the edge of the fountain of youth, but maybe we should be holding onto the fact that God loves us as is and we need to be surrounded by people who also love us, 'as is.' There's no such thing as perfection. On social media, perfection is everywhere, but we can't bring those filters to the grocery store. I saw an old friend for lunch last year through Facebook. I scrolled through her photos and wondered how she managed to look so fricken young after all these years! I was so impressed. When we met, it was an entire different story. She forgot to bring the filters with her, but she still looked so amazingly beautiful anyway! Why are people doing this? If I look like crap, I just throw a pair of huge sunglasses on and that's that. If you judge me, that's on you.

                                                         But first, let me take a selfie!  

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

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Dealing With Holiday Sadness

When I pray, you answer me, you encourage me by giving me the strength I need.--Philippians  138:3
The silence was deafening. As I was looking around the living room, everything reminded me of my mom---the original mahogany dining room table, where we once ate dinner together as a family when I was younger, the lamp fixtures mom had picked out when she was around my age, and the beautiful tiled floors that they kept when they moved into this home back in the 1960's. I see mom's face in everything. When I came back into this home to care for both my parents, somehow the thought of losing them wasn't an option. I was in complete denial about death itself---at least for us---that only happened to other people. But, we are "other people." We are not immune to death. Both Madelene and I refurnished the home with our own updated version and style, so that my parents would be more comfortable. We put up a new entertainment area for them---a spot where my mom forbade a television set because she wanted the main living room to be for conversation only. She was pleasantly surprised how it opened up the beautiful living area. It was now "lived in" and not seen as "the un-lived living room." My dad and I would watch the Yankees game together. He used to always stay in his man cave---the den we had where he watched all of his programs. Now he could do it with us and relax on his new recliners comfortably. We held small Super Bowl parties, eating chicken wings and sharing a few drinks together. Dad and I would meet up in that living room and talk about the anxiety he was experiencing due to his illness. We never have such meaningful conversations before. I got to know him for the first time in my life.

Even looking out of the big floor-to-ceiling windows, overlooking the nearby lake and mountains, I can see Dad still sitting there, daydreaming as he stared out into the beautiful view. I can see 4th of July parties being held, and my mom bringing out huge trays of king crab legs and lobster tails, while my dad barbecued steaks, burgers and hot dogs. Everyone ate like kings. As I look over toward the small kitchen that my mom and grandmother used to cook in, I can still see mom sitting on a barstool frying up jumbo shrimp and yellow tail for the big Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes during Christmas Eve wearing her red sequenced sweater. Over on the counter would be chips and dips with plastic wine Chinet glasses stacked up, along with the large sturdy plastic plates. Christmas music would be blaring from every room. The house was beautifully decorated with lights and tinsel, and the tree perfectly was always perfectly set with lights of various colors. Mom always had this beautiful angel star that turned her head back and forth as if she was overseeing the entire room.

Walking into the little kitchen, I can see the pool area, where mom would make sandwiches and open up the window right from the kitchen so she could serve all of us as we swam and sunbathed all afternoon. The entire property is all mom and dad. BBQ's every Saturday, even if it was snowing. So many summer nights spent out on the patio having coffee and cake, while mom and dad smoked their cigarettes talking about the good old times.

And now, all I have are the good old times, as I replay them over and over in my head.

These memories aren't always positive ones. As I stare down the hallway, I can see mom and dad's room. I remember mom calling me, "Deb! Can you come inside please? Dad wants a kiss." As I walked in holding back tears, I stood near Dad's bed, where his body was shutting down from this awful disease. I kissed his forehead and said, "I love you, Dad," and with our lifelong humor we shared together, I whispered in his ear, "This is gonna cost you...I'm gonna pickpocket you on the way out." He gave a silent laugh---it was literally his last laugh of his life. I watched mom holding his hand, lying down on the bed with him sobbing. My sisters and I all surrounded him, hoping somehow, some way, a miracle would happen.

As I turn my head, I can see the bar area, where mom stood by brick wall divider as she held her arms out and said, "Come here, Debbie." We hugged so tightly, as if it was the last time I would ever see her. As she held onto me, she said, "I love you, Debbie." I replied, "I love you too, Mom," in almost a question-like response, as if to say, "What's wrong---why are you doing this?" I mean, I loved that my mom was hugging me and telling me she loved me, but it was close to midnight when she called me to come downstairs to do this. She then said, "I'm so worried about you." I tried to lighten up the mood and said, "I'm worried about me too!" And we both laughed. Then she looked at me, holding back tears and then said, "Call an ambulance." It was our very last hug. I look at that spot every single day as I make my way into the kitchen area.

As I turn my head toward the other side of the room, I can see weeks after this special moment my mother and I had together, watching myself as if I was having an outer body experience, throwing everything against the wall and crying hysterically---mourning---grieving---pleading with God to make it stop. I saw myself standing by the fireplace, scared and shaking because it was 10 below zero and I was all alone in a power outage in the dark. The fear, the dread, the anxiety, the pain, the grief had all taken the place of all the happiness and love once held in this beautiful home. I now have painful memories.

Christmas trees were put up only because Mom and Dad loved them so much. I can't seem to do that anymore. This old house, as beautiful as it is, with so many wonderful memories has become a torture chamber for me. As time goes on, there are more good times than not, but the loneliness, the emptiness of this home is literally killing me. We had planned on moving out before the winter of this year, but for whatever reason which I can't understand, we are still here. I'm dying inside, praying every morning for God to give me inner strength to get me through this. It's a big house for only two people. We are literally killing ourselves just to keep up with everything this house has to offer. Three living rooms, five bedrooms, two kitchens, four bathrooms and we need a new roof and siding. An old oil burner that's conking out every so often. Each maintenance call comes with a hefty fee. We have someone filling in an enormous pothole that literally turned into a large pond in our front driveway. We cannot receive packages from UPS anymore because they cannot get through the pond area. They now walk on the side of it now, realizing we are struggling to fix this.

All I can do right now is take care of myself. I pray daily. I stopped drinking. I am eating cleaner. I am sleeping again and trying to keep myself in a good state of mind, but it's tough. I never hear from my family anymore. It's like one day I had a big family and the next---gone. Nobody comes and visits me or even calls to say, "Hey, how you doing?" Nobody. It hurts. But I refuse to hold pity parties for myself because this isn't where it ends. God has seen me through the worst of times, and He is still guiding me to keep pressing on. I refuse to give up, even if I die trying.

Never give up. No matter how hard the holidays may haunt you---God has a plan for you. Trust Him.

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

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

What Do You See in the Mirror?

Truthfully, who can say that they're happy all the time? It's impossible living in this world and being blissful 24/7---but I do believe we can make our situations a little better. I've heard everything from, "I wish I was thinner," "I wish I had more money," "I wish I could get a better job," "I wish my spouse would change"---I wish I wish I wish. Start with the basics: what do you have? What are you grateful for. Just start there for a moment. Each morning while I pray and meditate, I list off at least five things that I'm grateful for, and then it turns out to be more than ten. I'm grateful for my health, my restful night's sleep, the food on my table, the roof over my head, even running water---some people have no water! I spoke to a friend who had undergone weight loss surgery. She lost a total of 150 lbs. And while this was to better her health, body, mind and soul, somehow, she was still unhappy. She thought, "Well, if I was thinner I'd be much healthier and happier." But what happened was, the extra skin from being overweight was loose and had to be tucked into her pants. She was uncomfortable, and she was ashamed of what she looked like. She even complained about looking twenty years older. During a conversation we had, she said,"I wasn't this unhappy when I was bigger!" She still doesn't want to look at herself in the mirror or wear something that reveals her arms or legs. I know beautiful women who are a size two who think they're fat and ugly. They look in the mirror and see something totally different than what other people see.

When will we ever be happy with ourselves? It's a proven fact that when somebody hates the way they look or feel, it will show outwardly in terms of their behavior. Oddly enough, there's a study which shows that most women who are unhappy with themselves are usually those who are desirably thinner who have symmetrical facial features, which society deems as beautiful.  But they don't see this. They internalize their misery, sometimes bringing forth a bitter attitude, or a false sense of pride---appearing to be confident when in fact, they're more insecure than the plus size woman at the end of the bar laughing with her friends. Every woman becomes a threat to this "perfect woman" and every partner she has will feel the wrath of her jealousy.

Coming to terms with loving yourself is one of the most beautiful features someone can have. Confidence is sexy. And I'm not speaking about being arrogant and conceited---I'm talking about being confident enough to laugh at yourself, to make others laugh, to enjoy life without jealousy, without anger, without the chip on your shoulder. I know someone very close to me who is such a beautiful woman. Her insecurities run deep, and with that, her tortured soul seems to torture those who either don't agree with her, look at her the wrong way, or perhaps, find her on a day when she's just not in a good mood. You always have to walk on eggshells around her. Trying to contact her is like a box of chocolates.... you can finish the rest of that sentence. But if you look deeper, you'll start to understand some of the madness. They'll never ask, "Hey, how are you," with true sincerity. They'll proverbially vomit all of their life's happenings and success stories on you. The agony that one goes through when they obsess over their looks, especially if they're hitting a certain age, is just frightening. Embrace yourself, because looks will fade after time and we all have to make peace with our new selves after some time.

But why not make peace with who we are and how we look now? If God made us so perfectly, then why don't we believe that? Some of the features we dislike about ourselves may be the one feature that someone falls in love with. There's this beautiful young mix-raced woman, named Natasha Culzac, who was extremely insecure about her freckles. She was also insecure growing up and even tried to bleach out her freckles, which ultimately made her a famous supermodel. Check out her video. If you have trouble viewing the video below, click here.

Let me even take it a step further. I know that many people who are so self-conscious about their weight are fearful about health ramifications, and rightfully so. Being overweight or obese can lead to diabetes, heart problems and joint issues. But even if you're seemingly "fit"---you also. may get diabetes, heart problems and joint issues. See, nothing guarantees perfect health in this life. I remember while growing up, my dad's friends would look at him in disgust saying, "Charlie! You gotta lose that weight, you're not gonna make it to 50." He made it to 50, 60, 70 and 75---the life expectancy of an average man. And while they meant well, because let's face it, 400 lbs is pretty big---my dad outlived everyone who told him to lose weight. Weird fact? They were younger than him! And don't get me wrong, my dad had health issues due to smoking, which ultimately led to cancer. But he didn't die because of his weight. My uncle who was 30 years old ate nothing but vegetables and lean meats. He wouldn't touch my mother's delicious Italian food, in fear that it would be high in cholesterol (which he was right.) But he died of a heart attack at the age of 30. My point is: nothing---nothing guarantees perfect health. Why are we obsessing over how other people live their lives. Some people who are overweight seem to have genetic components. People who disagree with this and say, "Well, they're in the same household so they eat the same junk," have never looked into the bigger picture. There was a show about lost loved ones. And this one girl wanted to meet her siblings. They never met before, because her biological mother gave her up at birth because she was too young to have a child. Long story short: the entire family all held the same shape and size. They also lived across the country from one another. Many people are just predestined to be overweight. Yes they can lose the weight, but at a much difficult attempt, which is why so many end up gaining it back to their original shape. But it all depends. Each person is different.

But why obsess?

Why can't we learn to like what we see in the mirror? I honestly never wanted to be anybody else. I was always happy with 'me'---flaws and all---extra cushion, even if it meant plus size. I just wanted to be able to be active, feel good and admiringly, fit into a nice pair of jeans without them being "mom jeans." I'd rather wear elastic if that happens. But I can laugh at it, and not fall into a pit of depression because I gained an extra 5-10 lbs. I've chosen to eat healthier because I like the benefits of a low carb diet, which makes your skin look healthier and also sets your gut health into full gear. Your gut health is all about your immunity. I just want to feel good "today." Let's start there. I want to avoid the flu, stomach issues, GERD, inflammation---so I eat certain things so that I can feel good "today." What I desire most in life is to be around good people who make me laugh. I want to help others if I can and make a difference in this world. I know that if God loves me, then that is all that matters. If God made me perfectly, then I should be grateful for my health and the ability to make it to the age of 44. I want to leave something behind when I go back home to God. I want to leave something that will outlast my life. This is why I write. This is why I broadcast. This is also why I leave my recipes behind. Those recipes and all of the cooking I've done throughout my life brought friends and family together. Isn't that what life's all about? Togetherness? Laughter? Food? Fun? Experiencing all of your passions in life? Making your work your passion? Because let's face it---if you love what you do for a living, it no longer becomes "work."

Why judge other people?

There's a whole other type of insecurity that runs rampant in our society, and that's the ability to have a high profile career or be someone of importance. Some people are judged for working their tails off at a grocery store, or custodial work and some even judged for being a stay-at-home mom or housewife. Unless you are lying on the sofa eating Bon Bons all day, then that's a whole other can-o-beans. The typical housewife or stay-at-home mom does more labor intensive work than the average customer service rep or sales associate. Many new mothers actually shorten their maternity leave to go back to work due to the intensity of being home with their newborns. You can even Google that fact! I've seen it with my own eyes.

The other day I was talking to my friend on FaceTime as she watched me cook my chicken soup----which is a three hour extravaganza. She was making comments like, "Why are you doing all that?" "Why do you have to blend the vegetable together?" "Why are you chopping all of that?" I laughed and said, "I know, right? I should get paid for this!" So she looked up what a housewife income should be and it said, $143,000.00! Although I work from home writing and editing, I am also a proud housewife and love to shop for groceries, prepare healthy meals for my other half and bring friends and family over for delicious dinners. I think it's important that someone in the home is the 'domestic goddess' so to speak---the one that's more nurturing and can whip up an elegant dinner at the last minute, while she folds your clothes. I love the traditional roles of a household and have a passion for it. So when somebody judges me, I always wonder about their level of inner peace. I remember someone said to me at a Christmas party, "So when are you getting a real job?" I just looked at them and asked, "Did that make you feel better about yourself?" Miserable people love throwing psychological projections on those who 'seem' to be happier. I'm not happy all the time, but I have to say, I am very content with who I am, what I do and who I love. I feel very blessed for that alone. I was miserable working for IBM in a beautiful office doing accounting and making more money. It sucked the life-force out of me. Many people can do it, but that kind of job wasn't for me. So I decided to do what's best for me.

Never let anybody discourage you or judge you. Never let somebody's own unhappiness destroy your inner peace. The Bible says that the devil comes to steal, kill and destroy, and he will use miserable people to try and make you feel bad about yourself. Hurt people hurt. We need to be around more people who uplift and edify us---not tear us down. And remember---whoever is trying to bring you down is already below you. They're just trying to pull you into their own misery. Ah, misery loves company as they say. Pray for them. Don't even respond to their psychological projection. Smile and walk away. Keep in mind that God made you PERFECTLY and your lot in this life is purposeful. There are times when many of us wonder if we even have a purpose. I have. Even if you're unsure, know that God has a plan for you, plans for a future and a hope. You're not here to just take up space, but I have learned this: life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage. The devil wants you to shrink back and become a recluse; fearful and timid. Every morning I pray to become courageous---to overcome the anxiety and fear---to even become dangerously courageous. Sometimes I'm doing all I can do make that happen, while other times, I feel a little weaker than other days---and that's OK. Pray pray pray. The more you pray the stronger you become, because God gives us the strength to overcome those spiritual battles.

Love yourself. 
Embrace yourself.
Be grateful for YOU.
Share yourself with the world! 

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

Friday, November 30, 2018

Keyboard Warriors & Internet Bullies

Have you ever been insulted by someone you didn't even know on the internet? Did you ever try to correct their assessment of your character by responding to their madness? Thing is, each person on each side thinks that he or she is right. Social media has made it extremely easy to not only misconstrue communication, but to actually hurt and bully others when the other person's offended. You would think this would only happen through text, and never live streaming---but it's more common among live streamers, because once you watch someone on a regular basis, you begin to form a 'personal opinion' on them. You feel like you know the "character" on the screen---just as you would watching your favorite soap opera. People will gain their opinions, and side with whatever character they like better. And if you think for a second that you'll never run into this sort of thing while live streaming---you're wrong. Someone somehow, in some way or another is going to offend you or, they're going to say something that isn't true about you, or that you highly disagree with.

Let me explain...

I had tweeted about a racist Periscope live streamer who happens to also be sexist, talking on his broadcast about degrading white women sexually without their consent just because he thinks black women are better, and white people are trash. Now, in my opinion, when you catch a broadcast like that, you can do one or two things---you can simply "X" out of the stream or you can sit and argue with a hateful person until you get blocked by his minions. Another option would be reporting it. Usually, that doesn't work though. So one day after a highly offensive broadcast was sent off by the racist, I retweeted someone's tweet about his behavior. A fellow scoper named Ryan Miller from Parent Dome, who is an "educator" on internet safety for children responded to my retweet saying that he didn't care to see a tweet by someone who is taking all of this man's (the racist) words out of context, as well as calling him a "white apologist." I just suggested that he didn't have to respond to it. But he kept on, saying how we are all taking this man's words out of context---a man who said he basically wanted to "spread his seed" all over some white girl's face to degrade her and then go back to a black woman because they're better. This man has also threatened to kill all white people, saying that he wished he was the Las Vegas shooter so he could take a semiautomatic gun and shoot all of them down by the dozens, as he motioned with his "air gun" making "pop-pop-pop-pop" sounds. And, you support this, why?

This is what Ryan Miller supports. He was in this particular broadcast.

So I asked Ryan respectfully how did I take his words out of context. He began to explain to me that "caucasians" are OK -- but white people are indeed, racist. If you look up what "caucasian" means in the dictionary, it simply means...."a white person." I'm a white person and I am in no way racist whatsoever. So I called him out on his confusion, and as I expected, he lashed out at me, mocking me about having mental illness and also posted articles for me about getting help and medication. Now, if I was somebody who was weak-minded, or in a mental health crisis, that could have been the last straw for me. Thankfully, I'm not suicidal. I have anxiety disorder which sometimes leaves me with bouts of depression. I'm not embarrassed to admit that. My entire blog is dedicated to mental health issues and helping other people through my own struggles. But when a tiger is cornered, they usually lash out with personal insults, because they have nothing else. But what if Ryan caught someone with mental illness on a very bad day? What if that one person needed just one more insult? Just recently, there has been a suicide on Periscope due to people attacking him. Nobody is taking blame, because let's face it, mental illness alone took his life...but, to even have contributed to the cause was enough to push him over the edge. And may you RIP Brian Hayes. Back to Ryan though...on top of mocking me for having anxiety, he mentioned that I was uneducated because I had to Google the word "nihilism" since I didn't know what that word meant. Here's the thing about me: if I don't know what a word means, I'm not gonna nod my head pretending to know. I'm going to respectfully ask you what that word means. Ryan said to me, "Oh just Google it!" So I did on my broadcast and for that, he called me "uneducated." He also pointed out that I was somehow over emotional about this topic, as he almost cried in his scope, yelling about how vile and disgusting I was. For what? For pointing out the fact that he's supporting a homicidal racist and aspiring rapist? For someone who coins himself as an "educator on internet safety" --- his own rules do not apply to him.

Then the manipulative childlike 'stomp my feet till I get what I want' tactics began. He began to tell his story about how sick he was and that he's leaving Periscope because of all of the "vile and disgusting people." (Yes, me.) Let me say one thing. As someone who has lost both her parents to cancer, I know what that struggle is like. I was their caregiver. But if someone publicly insults me, calls me uneducated, and then mocks me for having anxiety---I don't care if you have cancer, AIDS, HIV, hepatitis, gonorrhea, herpes, diabetes or tuberculosis---if you start an argument with me, filled with hateful insults, while you support a bigoted sexist? Then expect me to respond. You must be strong enough to have the gumption to tackle this issue while you're yelling at the camera like a complete lunatic. People told me to just let it go...and I did for a while. Then I got an email about how I was publicly brought up in one of this recent broadcasts, to which he took down shortly afterwards. Ryan explained how "over emotional" I was while broadcasting my response as well as my rebuttals via Twitter. But if you want to see my true response to this all, face-to-face on a live stream, CLICK HERE. It's my response to Ryan's crazy rant on how I was triggered somehow. Nothing about my broadcast said "triggered" nor did it say "over-emotional." I'm just alarmed that he would support such a dangerous scoper who shouldn't even be on this platform.

Wait, what are we paying for again? 

Here's the terrifying part: Ryan Miller from Parent Dome supports racists who are aspiring rapists, yet he also supports internet safety for children?  He even has a Gofundme page dedicated for you to pay him for keeping the "awareness" of internet safety. And hey, that's up to you whether or not you want to throw your hard earned money into the pockets of someone who is cashing in on something he doesn't even support.

Some snippets of his mission statement:
"The Go Fund Me campaign is an investment into me personally in continuing my efforts on promoting Awareness, Oversight and Control tied to being safe on the internet. Currently, Parent Dome is an existing entity on the Internet with a web presence at This is where the University of information resides and the repository for the continuing updated lessons, research and content as it pertains to the Mission.

"The internet is a very powerful entry point for anyone to become a victim of negative consequences tied to a poorly thought through Text, Tweet, Photo, Video or just visiting someplace dangerous on the internet. Consequences are not just based upon what we do, say or visit, but can be a response to others actions."

He mentioned my response to his broadcast was a defamation of character. No, Ryan, it's actually based on facts (which I have all screenshot) and based on the fact that you openly admitted publicly that you support this man who is a racist and aspiring rapist. Not good for someone who is all about "internet safety."

The sad thing is, we have mutual friends who viewed this shit show, and frankly, I was kind of surprised over one person's reaction to it. She actually supports this racist too, saying, "Oh I get what he's saying." These people were to me, upstanding "citizens of Periscope" who educate people on various levels, and now I just think it's a huge show they put on just to look like some kind of good person. Maybe they are, or maybe I'm wrong. Meanwhile, their actions speak louder than their words. You will know them by their fruits.

Let me say one more thing before I go... After his latest broadcast publicly slamming me once again, I feel the need (as he does too) to address the internet bullies. We should all strive to make the internet a safer place. We should try to be respectful to those dealing with mental illness, or perhaps, not support someone who is a homicidal racist and aspiring rapist. And therein lies the problem: the people who usually preach about this kind of stuff are sometimes the worst culprits.

Be careful out there. Save your money for people who truly need it. Do not support this hypocritical cause of "internet safety," as he calls it. The only way he would get money out of me, is if he put a gofundme account for chemo or radiation treatments. Maybe he should think about focusing on his health and getting better. Maybe he should fund his medical expenses, instead of funding something he doesn't fully support. I have a lot of people who would gladly throw money into a cancer treatment gofundme. Now that's something I can stand by.

Be safe, be well.

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

Monday, November 26, 2018

Stop Relying On People and Start Trusting God

Everyone is trying to master the art of being fearless. Anxiety attacks, panic attacks, stress, tension, phobias, are all common terminologies these days. During the past year, I have learned that anxiety, based on fear, never truly goes away. It's the courage that overcomes the fear. It can completely diminish that feeling. While praying one morning, I was asking God to give me strength with something I was dealing with. I had a lot of fear and anxiety over this one particular issue. I opened up my Bible and came to this scripture: "I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources, He will give you mighty inner strength through His Holy Spirit."--Ephesians 3:16. So by His strength, your fear is unnoticeable. It's still there, but the inner strength will conquer it. I've been known to cry out, "I just wish my anxiety would go away," but that kind of thinking isn't going to do anything other than amplify it. Whatever you resist, persists. It's when you let it stay there, but you pray for "mighty inner strength from God" that makes you overcome anything you're afraid of. It works. It does take time, but it works. From being a scared agoraphobic, to a strong and courageous 'I can do anything' type of person, I can still see the fear inside, but God's strength crushes it every time. A lot of things had to be adjusted to, like drinking wine every night with dinner. It kept me awake until 4am. When you're fatigued during the day, this causes more anxiety. So I had to be conscious of what I was putting in my body. I also started eating healthier. I dabble with junk food from time to time, but I don't eat crap anymore. Done. This helped with my heartburn, which also kept me up at night. Sleepless nights are triggers for anxiety and sometimes, you have to give something up in order to get that rest that God's been trying to give you.

A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there. When my mom passed away, my anxiety began to increase at an alarming speed. I was scared of everything. I was scared to go out. I was scared to stay inside. I was just a mess. I started to get answers to my prayers, so I kept a journal writing down each prayer, and then I would write down any answers I feel that came from God Himself. I made my way out to go to grief counseling. After the session, I got in my car to go home. As I was pulling out, the radio was on a Christian station. It said, "Doing something you fear and trusting God will put you in a better position the next time around. Ask for God's strength and you can do anything in His name. When you have faith, this requires actions, because faith without actions is dead. It means you don't trust Him enough to take care of you while you are walking in fear."

As I nervously made my way out of this huge parking lot, I started driving onto the highway. I was anxious and focused on just getting home. But something weird happened. I could hear my mom's voice. I heard, "Go to our favorite restaurant right now and celebrate the fact that you conquered your fear." But with who? I never walked into a restaurant alone---and with this anxiety? Are you crazy? But my car literally drove to this restaurant that my mother and I always went to. When I walked toward the building, it was as if my inner voice was yelling out, "No! Go home! Stop this! This is still! You're walking inside there all by yourself? What will people think?" As soon as I got in, I was greeted by the owner with a hug and I sat at the bar and had an amazing dinner, reading articles from my phone. It wasn't bad at all. People were talking to me, and it was nice to see other people sitting by themselves as well. When I returned home, I sat outside on my deck because it was a beautiful night and poured a glass of wine. In the wine glass, my mother's face appeared. Strange, because someone pointed it out to me on Instagram and said, "Deb, do you see the face in the wine glass?" And oddly enough, it was my mom's face when she was in her 40's when she wore these cat eyes glasses that went dark when she went outside---I think they were photo lenses. I wouldn't have noticed this at all, if it wasn't for someone I didn't even know well pointing it out to me.

I seem to always get signs from God telling me something that I should or shouldn't be doing. And as you know, I loved my wine. I drank every single day, maybe one before dinner, and 3-4 afterwards. But even if someone thinks that's pretty moderate, it wasn't because my wine goblets are huge. My serving sizes were ridiculous. But I looked forward to my wine time and my evenings hanging out with Madelene, having a nice dinner and relaxing, until it was time to go to bed. That's when the anxiety would kick in and leave me awake till 4am. The alcohol stripped me from having any restful sleep whatsoever. While praying for rest and for my myoclonic jerks to stop---which are like little jolts and mini seizures from stress and anxiety, God gave me a realization of what I was doing to my system. He needed me to be level-headed and sober. He needed me to stop drinking.

"And it is not fit for 'kings' to guzzle wine. 'Rulers' should not crave liquor. For if they drink, they may forget their duties and be unable to give justice to those who are oppressed. Liquor is for the dying, and wine is for those in deep depression. Let them drink to forget their poverty and remember their troubles no more." ---Proverbs 31:4-7

Translating---kings and rulers meaning, God needed me to be at a higher position in life--to be more reliable and to work with clarity instead of always being in a state of fear and anxiety. And when it says that wine is for those in deep depression---yes, I was in a deep depression due to my grief as well as my anxiety, but that wasn't what God had planned for my life. For some, wine is good for those who are having a hard time. But for those meant to reach higher, He needed me to put down the wine and pick up something better. Soon after I had given up the booze, I started sleeping better. I started attending church services just to be around other people who loved God as much as I did. I started to do more things, and miraculously, my agoraphobia disappeared because with the alcohol being taken out of the equation, my anxiety and depression lessened. I started to wake up early, making coffee and breakfast as I did years ago, before my mom got sick. I started to enjoy life again. I know my mom would want that for me.

"God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear, even if earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea." ---Psalm 46:1-2

Here's the thing I've learned, especially lately. Through my grief, loneliness, solitude and state of panic and anxiety, God was always there for me. And not even through my own belief system---it was the proof of His existence---his answers and remedies that have seen me through my own inner struggles. I hate to say this, but whenever I needed anything from anyone, not one person was there. I'd hear a whole lotta' "I'll be there for you," or "Call me anytime if you need anything," and when I called, I either got a lecture on how to get my crap together, or I was completely ignored as if I didn't exist. The thing is, people will always disappoint you. I know I've disappointed people in my life. We are human. People have their own lives and stressors going on. This is why you'll eventually come to find out that the ONLY one who is there is Jesus. And you want Him to be the only one there because the things He has done for me are beyond what any human can possibly do. I'm not saying I don't appreciate what people do for me, or even their attempts to help me out in a time of need---but God is all you need when you are feeling alone, isolated and scared. He is the only one that can save you from your own mind. Our mind can be a torture chamber. We're prisoners of our own mind if we let it. But when we let the Holy Spirit control us---invite the Spirit to dwell within us---we become new Beings. We become like-minded with Christ with strength and courage to get through the toughest storms. That's why we should thank Him in the storm. When you trust that God will get you through it, you'll notice your faith strengthening and your fear lessening.

"He gives power to those who are tired and worn out; He offers strength to the weak... Those who wait on the Lord will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint." ---Isaiah 40:29-31

Whenever you're feeling scared and alone, go into a room, shut the door behind you and pray to God. Keep doing this until you start feeling His answers. I have a prayer and answer journal. I write down my prayers and I always get an answer from God through many mysterious ways. But His answers are all written down in my journal. But the only reason why I received answers was because I expected answers. Faith is hope, but strong faith is the expectation that comes along with it. Stop relying on people and start trusting God instead.

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

Growth Spurts

Yesterday, someone shared a quote with me that resonated with me so much. She said, "Just remember, trying to hurt me by bringing up my...