Monday, September 30, 2019

Fear Is a Liar

Anxiety is a tricky animal, and comes in all species, whether it's through headaches, chest pain, rapid heart rate or hyperventilation, etc. It can come on suddenly, or in a torturous gradual incline. No matter what the symptom is, many people can develop what's called "health anxiety" (the non-PC term is hypochondria.) Some may develop agoraphobia---an avoidance of places like big supermarkets, crowds, or in some extreme cases, to even step foot out of their own home. If you think about what anxiety is, it's pretty silly, isn't it? I mean, what are we 'fearing?' What are we so afraid of? It literally doesn't make sense at all. And maybe I've watched too many court shows, but as Judge Judy would say, "If it doesn't make sense, then it's a LIE."

Fear Is a liar.

Zach Williams wrote a song called, "Fear Is a Liar." If you can't view the video below, please click here to view this on Youtube.


"Fear, he is a liar. He will take your breath, stop you in your steps. Fear he is a liar. He will rob your rest, steal your happiness. Cast your fear in the fire 'cause fear....he is a liar."

Why do we keep believing these lies? Everything we conjure up in our minds such as, "I'm gonna die of a heart attack," or when you're standing in a long line at the supermarket and think, "I'm gonna pass out if I don't get out of here!" Thing is, the things we think that will happen to us, usually don't. It's not to say to ignore health issues, but if you suffer with anxiety, to remember that fact, as well as to determine ways to know that you are safe. People like us, we have a frig'd up 'fight or flight' adrenaline rush, so we freak out as if things are actually happen, and there's nothing happening.

So if you have anxiety, especially health anxiety or agoraphobia, here are some things that have really helped me bring reality into the situation.

Think You're Having a Heart Attack? 

If you are having chest pain and think you need to go to the ER, wait for a moment. Determine if it really is a heart attack first. An EMT explained to me that if you move your arms around, or twist your body around, where it recreates the pain in your chest, then it is muscle/skeletal only. It is not of any concern. Take some ibuprofen. Some people suffer from what's called "costochondritis" which is a really painful and scary symptom to have. Costochondritis is an inflammation of the cartilage in the rib cage. The condition usually affects the cartilage where the upper ribs attach to the breastbone, or sternum, an area known as the costosternal joint or costosternal junction. Chest pain caused by costochondritis can range from mild to severe. There's also what's called "referred pain." This pain that stems from your chest, collar bone or shoulder can radiate down your arms, and if it happens to be the left arm, just know that the pain you are feeling is muscle skeletal. But if it is a dull, heavy pain in the middle of your chest that does not go away with movement or any method you use, then seek out medical attention. I know women can get different and subtle symptoms, like heartburn and a pain in the middle of the back or sore arms, but these things are so fleeting and rare, that it can mess with your head. If you're that concerned, have a full work up done, and when they tell you that your heart is strong and healthy, then know that your heartburn is from the burrito you had last night and the pain in your back is from being slumped over your computer for 8+ hours.

Are You Afraid to Get Out of the House or Go Shopping at the Grocery Store? 
This advice was given to me by a seminar speaker regarding anxiety. Where do you think the most "dangerous" place to be is? What place will hide the fact that you need medical attention if you can reach out for it? ...Your own home. Now, I'm not trying to freak people out about staying home alone, but it's a fact that you are much safer out there in the world than you are in your own home. If you are in the grocery store and need medical attention, people will call for help in an instant. If you're in traffic and need help, pull over. You have people all around you. So, we should adapt to this mindset that it's much safer in a grocery store than it is at home. This is what helped me when I had a case of agoraphobia. Another helpful thing was CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.) I was taught to drive down my road and back home again. If nothing bad happened, then drive a little further. Go to the gas station and get a few dollars worth of gas just to challenge yourself. Play some of your favorite music while you're driving too. Always know, you can always turn around and go back. Keep telling yourself that. Visualize yourself succeeding and enjoying your time out there in the world. Even if you're like me, work from home and a bit of a homebody, you won't have fear to make it out to the store if you need to. You won't decline innovations to parties because you feel "unsafe." It changed my life.

Advice From Someone Who Also Still Suffers With Anxiety is the Best Advice

Why? Because it comes from a genuine empathetic heart. It comes from trial and error. It comes from someone who can truly understand what you're going through, instead of flipping through some psychology text book. It's like an AA director who never touched alcohol in their life. They can't understand as well as somebody who has been there. I've gotten so much advice regarding my anxiety and how to cope with the symptoms. I remember being rushed to the ER, and after the tests were completed, my nurse said to me, "I get them all the time too. Even though focusing on your breathing and trying to ground yourself is all well and fine, try distraction too. Start cooking or doing one of your hobbies you enjoy. Make yourself busy so that your mind forgets the negative chatter." It truly works most of the time, but when the panic attack is really bad, I have to sit and start grounding myself, using meditative soothing music or guided meditations from a Youtube video. Nonetheless, distraction is another great way to forget about the lies going on in your mind.

My Go-To Remedy: GOD

When I wake up with a heart rate of 150 bpm and I can't seem to catch a breath, I turn to God. I talk to Him about everything. Prayer and meditation has been a great tool to beat the agony of anxiety, depression and especially grief. Studies show that those who had faith in God were more likely to recover from losing a loved one than those who had little to no faith. The same goes with anxiety. As soon as I start praying, maybe saying a few biblical passages aloud, the atmosphere changes. When it seems like it's not working, don't give up. That's what the devil wants you to do. "Oh it's not working so I'm gonna just skip this step." Don't. Give it another chance. Calm your mind, take a deep breath and if all you can say is, "JESUS"---all of the heavens can hear you. I truly believe this. And there are going to be times when you just don't have it in you to pray, that's when the Holy Spirit intercedes. In Romans 8:26, it states, "And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words."

How beautiful is that?

Keep in mind that God sees our suffering, and He will help you if you have faith---if you *believe* it even before you pray for it. Don't think our God isn't a God of testing. He will test your faith, so be ready for it.

"Be truly glad! There is wonderful joy ahead, even though it is necessary for you to endure many trials for a while. These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold---and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold. So if your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world." ---1 Peter 1:6-7

I also want to thank some of my new readers for reaching out and letting me know how much my articles have helped them. This is why I write. I want you to know that you're not alone. If you ever need to reach out, please do not hesitate to contact me. My contact form is on the right side of this blog. I also can be reached at any of my social media sites: Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

I hope you feel better. Let's make today a GOOD day!

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, September 27, 2019

God's Timing is Always Perfect

Going through any major life change can be daunting. Whether you've recently been through a breakup or divorce, have recently gotten married, or maybe a loved one just passed away, you may be experiencing the pangs of transitioning. Even if you lost your job or moved from one home to another, all of this affects our mental health and the ability to function one way or another. All of these things are considered "big life events." It affects your entire life: your atmosphere, the way you look at life, a possible change in the people around you, and even changes to in own health. I remember discussing the "7 year itch" with my mother a few years back. It wasn't just for relationships. Every 7 years, we change. Our bodies change. Our allergies change. Even our taste buds change, which is why we start loving one food as opposed to another type of food we used to enjoy. Think back 7 years ago. What was different in your life? What did you eat back then that you wouldn't eat today? Or who was in your life 7 years ago that isn't present in your life right now? There's a growth transition in the 7 year mark that makes us who we are today. So if you have gotten past the already known "7 year itch" with your spouse, then you should be okay. (We hope.)  Sometimes, a couple goes through a phase where their goals and direction in life changes. They no longer want the same things in life they used to dream of. One person may be left with the same dream, while the other person has a new outlook on life. And so, they may grow apart if there is no compromise. If they're not honest enough and fail to communicate, it'll come out in some way or another.

Looking Back 7 Years 

If you ask me where my mindset was 7 years ago, my wife and I were helping my mom after she lost her husband of almost 60 years. I was afraid for her health since she was so exhausted from hospital trips, caring for dad and overall caregiving fatigue and eventually, grief. She never cried in front of us, but sometimes I'd knock on her door to give her breakfast in bed, and she'd be lying down watching the morning news with a pile of Kleenex on her bed. I'd clean up her tissues and give her coffee. Lola would jump onto her bed and lay next to her, as if she knew something wasn't right. Mom would always say, "Ever have one of those mornings when you feel depressed?" I would tell her that it's healthy to grieve and of course you're going to feel depressed for some time. She shook her head, as if in denial of her own grief, perhaps to protect herself emotionally and then say, "No, I just feel depressed." And I'd say, "Okay ma, whatever I can do," and passed her the bacon and eggs breakfast the way Dad used to make it. She loved that kind of breakfast more than eating dinner. She loved having bacon and eggs for dinner sometimes. Typical New Yorker. It usually cheered her up, and then moments later, I would get a call in my office, "That was the best breakfast ever, Debbie! Thank you so much!" And I could hear the increase of happiness in her voice. That was 7 years ago. She was my life. Even during the day, when I felt she was in her dark bedroom for way too long, I'd slip in with my dog Lola who she loved so much, and say, "Hey, I need some sun, wanna go to the park with us?" And she'd smile and would take a minute to decide, then slowly would say, "Okay!" We'd go to the park and sit next to the ponds to watch Lola chase the geese around. When we found out Mom had cancer, my entire life came to a halt. I was having anticipatory grief while grieving over my father. It was too much. That was my "7 year transition."

I honestly never thought I'd see a life without both my parents in it. I never thought for one second that I would see my mother suffer, or even die for that matter. She was my 'go-to' therapist, my early bird dinner date, my best friend, my comforter, my martini with extra olives teammate. We would go to the bar to have dinner and drinks, and they'd even set up a footstool in order to get her onto the bar stool. It was so cute. All the bartenders loved her. Some of the older gentlemen did too. She kept calling this one man, "Norm" all the time, when in fact his name was Bruce. He was okay with it though. We would laugh until we cried. She would tell me stories of her past, and even if I heard it a million and one times, I wanted to hear it again. I never said, "Ma, you already told me this!" Because I really didn't know if she was forgetting, or if she just wanted to reminisce again. Any of it was okay by me. Sometimes, I'd ask her to repeat a story, just so it would stimulate her long-term memory---and she was overjoyed whenever you asked her about her childhood living in Brooklyn, NY. She loved talking about herself and her past, and besides, if you have ever listened to an elderly person talk about the 'good ol' days' ---trust me, it's much better than hearing a millennial talk about theirs.


What Happens Inside the Cocoon? 

A transitional period can be very exciting, traumatic, and sad all at the same time.  It depends on what it is. For me, my transitional period can only be described as a complete metamorphosis. Much like the caterpillar cocooning for its final transition, it may look like nothing is going on, but big changes are happening inside. Special cells that were present in the larva are now growing rapidly. But if you were to remove the caterpillar before this huge transitional period, it would fall out and die. So the pressing and waiting needs to happen before God can present a new life---a new chapter. For the two years following my mom's passing, I was that cocoon, praying for God to remove me from this situation, to take away my loneliness and isolation. In my "prayer and answer" book, He gave me a message that said, "Just endure a little while longer." His timing is always perfect, but my patience however was not. This period of time, I dedicated to God. I would spend two or more hours praying and meditating, studying the Bible and memorizing passages from Psalms, as well as learning more about Jesus and all of His promises. If it wasn't for this transitional period of isolation, I wouldn't be here right now. I used to be sick all the time with bronchitis and asthma, taking tons of stimulants like albuterol inhalers, steroids and nebulizers. Even my voice shut down when I got that sick---(I think many people were thankful for that part.) And today, He has blessed me with health, to the point where I never need my inhaler or need to grab the nebulizer because I'm wheezing up a storm. It's as if He took my asthma away. He gave me new lungs. I give Him all the credit.

Would you want to be where you were 7 years ago? Or are you grateful for where you are right now? Each stage of life isn't going to be perfect. But it's learning to thank God in the midst of chaos. It's learning to praise Him in the storms. I always say, I'm not where I wanna be, but thank God I'm not where I used to be. And it doesn't mean that I still don't wish my parents were back here with me, it just means the agony and pain that my family and I suffered is leveling out somewhat. The waves of grief come and go, and that's a normal process of grief in itself. As humans, we are never going to have the "perfect life." It's accepting all of the imperfections that come with life. It's testing your strength and endurance to push through the fog---praying for the mighty inner strength of God to help you through it all.

Are You Dependent Enough?

Independence is somewhat a negative word when it comes to relying on God. God wants you to be solely dependent on Him. And that's what I did. I trusted in God and in my heart, I knew He would take care of everything in His own timing. I never in a million years thought that I could've purchased a home here in New York. It just wasn't possible from the homes I've seen. We were looking at places near Maryland and even flirting with moving to the south due to the cost. But God saw it differently. Everything is possible with God. He made a way to fulfill not only my request, but my mom's request. She always said, "Debbie, please buy a townhouse where you don't have to worry about living up on this mountain in the winter." And a townhome I prayed for. I had doubts, but I believed God would place me in a much better situation....and He did. And even though I still may have a leg and arm stuck in my cocoon, my transitional period is almost here. It's okay if it takes more time than you expected.

"For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay." --Habakkuk 2:3

"But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." --Isaiah 40:31

"Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!" --Psalm 27:14

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end." --Ecclesiastes 3:11

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

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Matters of the Heart

It's always good to wake up with sunshine, a hot cup of coffee and a ton of hope after a rough patch. I've been experiencing increased anxiety lately, which was discouraging. I couldn't understand why in the world I would have a heart rate of 195 bpm. This started about 6 weeks ago. My heart would spin out of control and I was so confused. We had so much excitement with buying our new home, moving and settling in. The place is perfect for what I need it for. No more lawn care, no more getting stranded up on that mountain for days because plows couldn't even bust through the 5 ft snowdrifts. So why in the world would I be scared or anxious? I should be overjoyed and calmer than a clam here. It just didn't make sense. So in my little anxiety-ridden noggin, my first thoughts went to "It has to be something physically wrong with me." I had the case of "health anxiety"---another term for hypochondria. Guess they're getting a little more sensitive and PC about certain labels. It is what it is.

Is It Anxiety Or Something Physical? 

After a million and one tests---I mean, ever single test imaginable to rule out heart issues, hypothyroidism and menopause, I was left with educated guesses by all 5 of my doctors. Yep, you read that correctly. What I want to share with you is very personal. Since my anxiety has quadrupled this past few months, there are days when I literally cannot drive---wait let's get honest---should not drive. My heart rate has gotten to the point where I have passed out twice on two separate occasions. It was concerning for my doctors, so a while ago, they sent me to the ER to get my head checked (in various ways.) Clean bill of health, thank you God. But the days when it gets really bad for me, I have what's called a mental health peer. I have a gentleman who comes over to either talk with me if I'm having a crisis, or he will drive me to doctor appointments, therapy appointments and even sit and wait for me while I'm in the ER (if I have to go.) It's a free service that the state pays for in order to help those who are suffering with any debilitating condition. Anxiety is a "condition" just as any other disability.

Yesterday afternoon, after my peer dropped me off after a doctor's follow up, I came home feeling really down. And what I realized was, I haven't really cried since I moved here. I haven't prayed as dedicated as I used to. I haven't purged my feelings at all. I thought that if I did, maybe my wife would think I was unhappy here---which is totally not the case. So I remained calm, thinking that's how I should be. If I lose control over my emotions, then my heart rate will sky rocket and I'll be a mess. That was my mistake.

Cry It Out!

When I got home, I grabbed some cold water and Kleenex and had a good cry. I let it all out. It was cathartic. I prayed and prayed, while tears were streaming down my cheek. "Why am I so anxious? Why can't I live my life like I wanted to?" All these questions that I was asking God had an answer. Minutes after my long crying session, my heart rate went from 140 down to 80....and after that, finally back down to my normal resting rate which is always 70 bpm. I was literally stumped. This is what it takes to make me less anxious? I guess it's true when they say if you bottle up your emotions, it'll resurface in some way or another.

Why was I crying?

My therapist sat me down and said, "This entire move has triggered your bereavement. It's a natural process and huge adjustment." And when I thought back to last night, while picking up a beautiful picture we had hanging up in the old house, I started to get a lump in my throat, thinking, "I've stared at this picture while having breakfast every morning before work in my childhood home." I fought the tears, but they were really tough to hold back. So is there a link between my old house and the new house---meaning, am I "homesick?" Of course those "memories" on Facebook pop up, showing my house with the million dollar view. I never got sick of looking at it. It always had a different look to it with each hour---how the sun set on the mountains, or how the lake glistened in the midday sun, and it was truly amazing to see a storm rolling through the valleys beneath me. But I have to remember I was very sad there. It was where both mom and dad suffered the end of their lives there. Every stone, brick, piece of wood that held a room together had mom's face on it. Even the sight of the outside and grill had dad's smile on it. He always loved to grill and hang outside with us. Every corner of that house pulled on my heart so strong that I could no longer take it. This is why I moved.

My point: CRY it OUT. LET it OUT. Do not hold onto bottled up emotions. It's so unhealthy. I had no clue that's what I was doing. Crying also releases hormones that make us feel bad, which is why some people say, "Oh I had a good cry and feel better now." There's a science to it. As I sit here in the early hours on a Thursday morning, I am enjoying a huge cup of coffee and not feeling any of the negative effects. I went off it for a couple of days due to my rapid heart rate, and ended up with a huge migraine.

Unsolicited Advice

Having some sort of mental health issue like anxiety or depression, it can be frustrating when someone you love gives you advice. "You need the right medication," or "It's just anxiety, stop it!" These are things you should never say to someone who has anxiety. Yes, we know it's anxiety, but you can't go playing doctor with people who are suffering. I don't believe in antidepressants. It not only puts on weight for many people, but it numbs your empathetic part of your brain---making you less sensitive to the world. I don't want to walk around like a zombie not feeling every emotion. I don't want to 'turn off' my empathy or hesitate when someone else needs help. I'm not saying all people do that, but sometimes, these medications make you less aware, less sensitive--which is basically the whole point. I believe in natural remedies, therapy, CBT and CBD oils. I believe in natural remedies like oregano oils and magnesium to help regulate my anxiety symptoms. But if I'm having a panic attack, and rightfully so because I've been uprooted from my childhood home into a new surrounding, give me some slack. Don't tell me "You need to do this." or "You need to do that," unless it's natural or advice coming from a genuine heart. Some people get sick and tired of hearing about someone's anxiety. "Ugh, she had a panic attack again, she needs meds!" Now, I just don't tell anyone about my anxiety (except for you guys) and my doctors who help me. Sometimes unsolicited advice can be more harmful than a slap in the face.

When It Feels Like God Isn't Listening

When you feel hopeless, like nothing in the world is going to help anymore, remember that God is right there with you. I cried my eyes out, telling God, "I just give up! Please just take me home. I don't want to live this way." I felt Him all around me. I cried harder, as my heart rate slowed down. Then moments later, someone sent me this photo.

I have to keep in mind that God is in control. Whether or not it's my time to go, He is the one to decide. It's something we really shouldn't be afraid of if we have faith. He also put on a song with lyrics that said, "God isn't done with you," and then more tears came pouring out. As some of you know, I have a ton of notebooks that have my prayers on it, as well as all of God's answers on it. I plan on turning into a book soon. The answers are unlike anything I've experienced before. Throughout this entire process, He has been there for me. I prayed for what I have right now. He has given me something better, and I guess that comes with a little struggle---some growing pains---some patience and a lot of tears. But the tears don't mean that I'm sad about what I have, they're only shedding past emotions and heartfelt love for the blessings He gave me in the past. And now, it's a new chapter with new blessings. I can do all things through Christ---and I have to keep reminding myself. He's the great physician, He's my father, my friend, my Savior. So when fear straight up lies to you, just say, "Not today, Satan...not today." Resist the devil upon his onset and he will flee. New level, new devil. We are always going to experience some sort of conflict with any chapter of our lives. Life isn't perfect, or meant to be joy-joy-joy 24/7, or we wouldn't need God. And the struggles we face only make us stronger.

"We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us---they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectations of salvation."---Romans 5:3-4

"Trust me in your times of trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory." ---Psalm 50:15

"God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear, even if the earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!" ---Psalm 46:1-3

If you ever find yourself in a crisis and need to reach out, send me a message. I will send you resources that can truly help when you have no one else to turn to. Depending on where you live, some of these serves are absolutely free.

Please be kind to people, because you truly never know what they may be going through. Don't mock them for having anxiety or say that "it's all in your head," because that's hurtful. We already know it's our minds that are making us struggle. It's like telling someone, "Hey, you should lose weight,"---don't you think they already know that? It's redundant and unnecessary. Saying things people already know leads me to believe that the person saying it has ill intentions. I don't go for the 'tough love' tactic when somebody is truly hurting. I'm finding there's little to no compassion in this world. And when you do find someone who is just as compassionate as you are, hold onto them and thank God for bringing them into your life.

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

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Is Having Faith in God Simply a 'Placebo Effect?'

Yesterday, I was reading up on an article that was explaining that our minds are these powerful tools to use for positive and negative. It's kind of like the internet, you can either use it for good or for bad, that's up to you. You'd think that our minds would protect us, rather than hurt us. So why would our minds give us anxiety? Well, we also have our primal minds, where it thinks that we are in danger, when in fact there is none. So our 'fight or flight' response kicks in, as if a tiger's chasing us, and BAM---anxiety. It's also what we say to ourselves, tell ourselves, think about certain things and situations that can create either peace or chaos. Our minds create phobias, and it can create a phobia of a certain place where you once experienced anxiety, so it'll pull the avoidance tactic. Agoraphobia can be debilitating for some. For me personally, I suffer with it on and off. Some weeks I'm all over the place, while other times, I'm a bit of a shut-in.

Sometimes when I'm in the midst of a panic attack, not even the 4,7,8 breathing technique works. I try to "ground myself," and to no avail, my heart still pounds relentlessly. With having been checked out by every doctor and cardiologist, the final result is anxiety disorder. God shouldn't be the last resort, but unfortunately, many Christians use God as a last resort when they're desperate or sick. But why not use Him when we're also feeling well? Back to the article I read, it was explaining that praying to God or having faith in whatever religion you practice can bring a euphoric sense of peace into your mind. They were basically saying, that if it gives you comfort, then keep doing it. But see, my faith is a type of faith where 'I know that I know that I know' type of faith. Even if someone practices it just for the "placebo effect"---then they are unintentionally inviting God into their lives. There's gonna be a sense of hope that overwhelms them, and when God truly answers them, it'll not only be faith, but a knowledge that there is a God.

As you know, I've been having a hard time adjusting to my new home. I wake up with a pounding heart that makes me feel like hiding under the covers or running to the doctor's! But this morning, I just said, "Not today, Satan!" And then all of these positive thoughts came flooding through my mind, as if some kind of gate opened up. I woke up, showered up, worked on my editing and advertising and then poured myself a big ol' cup of coffee. Coffee is always a 'no no' for people with anxiety, but I just can't give that part of my life up. I'd rather drink coffee than wine. That's how much I love it. Anyway, once these positive thoughts came flooding through, everything around me kind of looked different---in a good way. It's so hard to stay positive when your mind is fighting you not to be---giving you false alarms of danger. It's absolutely maddening. But what I've learned lately is that YOU are in control. I had a hard time grasping that concept when I couldn't control my response to anxiety the other day. So I prayed. It took some time, but things started to shift. I then played worship music throughout my home and the entire atmosphere shifted in a positive way. I guess if this really was a placebo effect, then I'd rather worship God and risk being wrong, than risk not believing, and then being wrong. Eternity is a long time to be wrong.

This life is so temporary. Our homes here on earth are temporary, until we go to our real home. What got me to come to terms with losing my ancestral home was that everything is temporary. Everything. And the next home will also be a temporary situation. Time goes by fast, flying at the speed of light. We once see our kids as babies and in the blink of an eye, they're taller than us, smarter than us, faster than us... Where did the time go? It was just yesterday when I was sitting with my mom having coffee and talking about everything. And now, she's home with the Lord---something I could never wrap my mind around. It was one of those "God forbid" type of thoughts. But God doesn't forbid death. It's all apart of life. I used to get upset whenever someone would say, "Oh God forbid," and I'd say, "God doesn't forbid that." They'd just give me a blank stare like, "Shut. up."

Getting back to faith----faith is a solely a belief system. So if you go in believing that it's just merely a belief, keep praying and trying the "placebo effect" and watch what happens. You're inviting God into your life. It would be interesting to see someone try this, because God will definitely show up in some way or another. It would no longer be just a "belief system." It'll become more of a knowledge that God is very real---more real than the traffic you're stuck in, more real than the tree outside on your yard, more real than the stars and the moon, and much closer to you than your very own breath. I never push my beliefs on anyone, I can only share. I can elaborate more here on my blog, because it's not a personal email to you. You can simply "X" out if these articles make you uncomfortable. You chose to hop on yourself. So welcome! And thank you.

What makes "religion" frustrating are some of Jesus' followers. Not everyone is going to believe the exact same thing as you. It gets confusing when there are certain sects broken up into branches. Like Catholicism is kind of like Lutheranism. Not sure why they're apart really. Christianity coincides with most Pentecostalism, Mormonism, Baptist, and others alike. They are all trinity-based, with slight differential aspects of their faith. These are all "religions." Do you know why Jesus was so persecuted? Because He went against "religious people."  All you need is a personal relationship with God---not a "religion." Religion is what tears people apart, and in some cases, it kills more than heals. Jesus came to take away the rules of the book, and base everything according to your heart. I'm not saying to throw your bibles out---I'm just saying that Jesus came to pay the price for all of our iniquities, so that we can live. In Galatians, it clearly states that if there was a law to obey, then there was no need for Jesus to die up on the cross for us. That doesn't mean go around doing evil things and killing people, praying for forgiveness every night, but once the Holy Spirit is in you---you become a new person. You'll feel it---and it's by no efforts of your own. Never get discouraged when "religious" people judge and ridicule you for the person you are, or even for what you did in the past. Not one person is free from sin. I was judged by a couple in my church who always sat in the first pew, raising their hands and dancing to worship music, all the while being on their fourth marriage. It's like, just stay in your lane. Don't you trust God enough to fix me if you think I need a little fixin'? If someone judges you and tries to "correct" your life, or tells you that you're not good enough, then they don't have enough faith in God, because that's not something Jesus would do to someone. There's a fine line that gets crossed between "righteous judgement" and pure criticism. Some people will want to help you in your journey. You can choose to listen, accept it, or simply ask God for what is meant for you. I think faith in a very personal thing. I don't think Jesus expects all of us to be alike, so there has to be some level of individualism with it.

Oddly enough, after I write one of these types of articles, I always get someone that says, "Maybe a little less Jesus and more on the topic of anxiety." Then I wouldn't be the authentic Deb I would hope to be. I want to be completely honest in where I get most of my help. You know, Jesus hung out with many sinners who weren't "fit" in the eyes of religious people. I was recently judged by my Christian friends for being friends with someone who is Pagan. Listen, if it doesn't affect your own faith and doesn't steer you away from God, then why would spending time with someone of another religion be bad? I'll tell you one thing--my Pagan friend has been the most caring, generous, good hearted person I've ever met. She used to come over when my mom was alive and we would all cook together. My mom loved her. My mom even said to her out of the blue, "Maria, I love you!" And Maria started crying, and then said that she has never met someone else's mother who has ever told her that.  If you cast a person out because they believe differently than you, then how is that being Christian-like? It can be frustrating trying to look into Christianity, when some of the followers put this great expectation of perfection on top of your head. Jesus just says, "Come as you are." Even when you feel you have sinned or did something wrong, just go to Him with ZERO guilt, ask Him for forgiveness or just talk to Him. He's not the monster most Christians make Him out to be. He is the most powerful, above all creation, which is why YOU have that power too, if you have the Spirit within you.

And now, God has called it upon my heart to give you an opportunity to reconnect with God.

If you say this prayer, you will become a new person, and you will feel it. Others will even notice something 'different' about you.

"God, I'm sorry for my sins. Right now, I turn from my sins and ask you to forgive me. Thank you for sending Jesus Christ to die on the cross for my sins. Jesus, I ask you to come into my life and be my Lord, Savior, and Friend. Thank you for forgiving me and giving me eternal life. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen." 

If you said this prayer, keep close to God, find a spirit-filled church if you'd like (helps with fellowship) and always know you're never alone. And remember, church can always be in your very own home.

Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. --Isaiah 41:10

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

I dare you to delve into your faith, into your Bible, into a new world that'll change your life forever. I also would love to hear a praise report if you found comfort in seeking God out before medication. I'm not saying medication is bad, but sometimes, faith or what some people would call the "placebo effect" is far greater than any pill.

If you're reading this and not feeling well, I pray that you find peace that transcends all understanding, and perfect health from head to toe. And of course, it all starts in our heads. Let Him heal everything. I'm choosing faith.

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

Monday, September 16, 2019

Adjusting to a 'New Normal'

It was a week of unpacking, sorting, loading up closets and cabinets and hanging up photos and decorative mirrors this week. We had the entire week off to just unwind and get used to our new home. When it came down to the wire and my movers were ready to rock 'n roll, my anxiety kicked in and it hasn't really stopped to tell you the truth. A few days before the move, my heart would race out of control. I knew what it was and thought, well once I get into the new place, I'll be fine. But every single morning, I wake up with a pounding heart, to where I have to wait till noon to enjoy my coffee. Not giving that up for anything! I'm learning more about anxiety and how it can linger, even though you may feel calm. The cortisol response and the 'fight or flight' response can still be lingering in your system after something traumatic. Leaving my ancestral home was kind of traumatic, although I was happy to get out of there due to the circumstances. It just felt like I was grieving all over again. I'm starting to get used to the home, and it's definitely starting to look more like home to me.

There are pros and cons with everything. Since I have fibromyalgia and chronic pain, it can be hard to do certain things, like walk my dog down the road. Some days I can walk a mile or two, while other days, I can't even walk down the stairs without yelping. About a month before we bought our townhome, we were told by my real estate lawyer about all of the rules of this community. I was excited that right outside my door, I have a little patch of lawn, plus a courtyard to walk Lola in. But when I moved in, I was told that I could only walk Lola on the outskirts of the complex, which has hills and some steps. Some days, it's no big deal, while other days, I need Madelene to take the dog out. It depends. It's especially hard on me in inclement weather since I have asthma and chronic bronchitis. This is going to be a difficult hurdle to overcome. One day I had to take Lola out while being in excruciating pain, and once I got to the destination, I wasn't quite sure I could make it back to the building. After forcing myself, I was in pain for two entire days afterwards. It's not all the time---just when I have flareups. This would've actually have been a deal breaker if I had known that this was a strict rule regarding where to walk our dogs. I'm actually very stressed out about it and not quite sure what to do.

A lot of people misunderstand people who have chronic pain. They see us mostly on our good days, walking or exercising, and then on our bad days, we're bed-ridden and helpless. We're not "lazy" and we are not using our pain as an excuse to get out of anything. There are so many of us with "invisible disabilities." Whether you suffer with chronic pain, anxiety, depression, PTSD---it's disheartening to think people will doubt your suffering just because they haven't gone through similar trials. It's not fun and sometimes, it's quite debilitating. Most of us do our best to live healthy and normal lives.  If you're one of the sufferers of an invisible illness, it's all you can do to shower up, clean the house and make dinner. If all you did was shower up---then you accomplished a lot. Give yourself a break and try not to absorb the judgments of other people who really don't understand. For years I have taken ibuprofen to lessen the pain, but in the process, it burned a hole in my stomach. I can't take the heavy duty pain meds because it gives me a horrible reaction. It makes my breathing really shallow, to where my heart rate is like 30 bpm. They tried giving me pain meds in the hospital, and ended up giving me CPR. The only thing I can take is Tylenol. And even with that, I have to be careful of my liver. Some days, I numb the pain with a cocktail, but it doesn't last long unfortunately.

I have a stationary bike that I use to exercise in my home. It feels better on my joints and helps me with my anxiety. I never thought exercising would help with anxiety since it makes your heart rate speed up, but after you're done, your heart rate and blood pressure go down dramatically. As long as my exercise is in my home or in a building--I'm okay. But if it requires to literally travel down roads, I'm afraid that my pain will stop me right in my tracks and I'll have no way of walking back. So right now, I'm relying on my workout machines at home and trying to get these achey legs moving so I can walk further without the excruciating pain.

Other than that, I have been working mainly on my editing projects and advertising, but because I was away for quite a bit, the workload has lightened up, unfortunately. Once clients don't get a quick response, they go to another editor or blogger who advertises for them. Today is my first day back, so when I opened up my email, I had like a dozen as opposed to 100 in my inbox. No bueno! So bear with me as I get acclimated and more adjusted in my new place. We are working on the home office so I have a place to officially work. Right now, I'm typing from my dining room. My work area is very important, always has been. I'll be broadcasting more too in the near future. I just gotta get my bearings here. I mean, it's not like I moved to another state, so I'm not sure why it has taken me so long. But in the meantime, I am gradually working my way back to a new normal.

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

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Making Sense of It All

Thinking back on everything that's transpired in my life just within the past few years, I'm not sure if I could've handle everything all at once. Last night, I was praying and I got this message that if it wasn't in God's timing, that it would've been all just too much to wrap my mind around. Like if someone said to me, "Hey Deb, not only will your mom die from cancer, but you're going to be moving out of your ancestral home too." I don't think I would be emotionally ready to absorb all of that at once, which is why I always trust God's timing---even if it feels like He's taking longer than you'd like. It's important to trust every step of the journey. Sometimes, people pray for things and it never gets answered. They ask, "Why doesn't God answer my prayers?" Maybe God didn't answer your prayer because something bad would happen. Maybe it was to protect you, so instead of fulfilling your prayer request, He gave you something better. It's hard to see the better option when your mind is fixated on what you wanted in the first place. Thank Him in the storms. Thank Him for unanswered prayers---it may have saved your life. I just think about the people who were late for work on September 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center. Or what about someone who came down with the flu who was home sick whining and moaning that they couldn't make it into work? "Why did I have to get the flu?" Maybe the flu was a better option than what was in store on that dreaded morning.

I don't believe in coincidences. I also believe that you meet people for specific reasons. You either learn from them, or they aid you in some way during an important period in your life, and some stay with you throughout life, which are the rare ones in my opinion. Maybe I'm strange, but I also believe that you meet human angels who help and guide you through life. I remember when my sister and I worked for this medical firm in New Jersey years ago. We would carpool together. On this one road leading up to the highway, an older man with a beige hat, a button down shirt and tan slacks would always be right near the stop light. He'd smile and wave, and then walk away. He did this every single morning. We loved it because he was such a cute little old man who was so incredibly happy---it made us happy as we made our way into work. He never missed a morning. It gave us a smile before entering the building. I asked my friend who also commuted on the same road at the same time.

"Do you ever see that cute little old man by the stop sign at 8:30am? He's always there waving!"
"No."

She saw nothing. She didn't see anyone near that light. Maybe coincidence?

There's also something to be said about misunderstood people. Whenever I get a "bad report" about a person, or told to "stay away from that person," I never listen. I want to be the one to find out for myself and not through other people's mouths. I remember working for the phone company, and the manager and I got along so well, that we'd meet up on the weekends to play racquetball, or to have dinner with her family over at her beautiful home. I got a lot of, "How can you be friends with someone who is so mean?" I always kinda give this look around the room, shrugging--- "Who are you talking about?" As soon as they tell me the name, I'm like, "She's the nicest person I've met around here!" I never saw what they saw. As a matter of fact, in my honest opinion, I think a lot of people prefer to be around fake people---people that smile, who are super friendly and "yes" them to death---phonies. For me, I prefer real people who tell it like it is, even if it makes me uncomfortable. I want the type of person who tells me the truth instead of sugarcoating it---a no B.S. kind of friend. I'm not talking about a friend who is going to insult you and tear you down---big difference. I'm speaking about friends who may be a bit abrasive, but a softy at heart. Someone who is not afraid to give a little 'tough love' once in a while.

A friend once told me that she believed that we do things for other people only because we want them to do the same thing back for us. But I asked her, "Don't you get disappointed a lot of the time?" She said, "Always. That's how you know someone is genuine." I disagreed. I think you should give without expectations. Without the expectation, there is zero disappointment. Some people give in different ways. Never expect a return favor, never expect the same treatment, but it's always good to give the benefit of the doubt with everyone you come across. In the Bible, it clearly states that if you lend money to someone, to make it as if it were a gift. You may never see that money ever again. So when I lend, it's purely giving. If I get it back, beautiful. If not, then God needed me to help that person out regardless. No loss.

This world is much different than it used to be. Years ago, people did things for one another, helped them out without asking for money or used their front door to contact them instead of texting them. I remember sitting at dinner with my family and someone would knock on the door. It wasn't an inconvenience. My mom opened the door and let whoever in, along with an extra plate and silverware. When you set your mind that "it's just inconvenient"---then it becomes just that. But when you let people in and share with you, it becomes a beautiful connection in the bigger scheme of things. My dad would plow people out of their driveways with his huge backhoe for free. We lived on a huge mountain that never got plowed. He would crush the ice with his machine, salt and sand and even pulled our neighbors out of ditches. He never asked for a cent. This is what you do for neighbors and friends. You help them when they're in need. But today, that's unheard of really. Everyone wants to help someone for money. I mean, yes it's important to pay your plow services and landscapers, but I'm talking about just a person down the road who decided to help you out. That's just a beautiful thing that you hardly get to see today.

I sometimes wish I could live one week in the 70's or 80's, with no cell phones, no internet, no impersonal texts about whatever and live like we used to. Things were simpler. We saw people in person, we called them up on our rotary telephones and actually had meaningful conversations. We even shared phone lines, if you're old enough to remember party lined phones back in the day. We sent food over to our friends if they were sick. We invited everyone over when we had big BBQs on the 4th of July---the entire neighborhood was invited. We took pride in making people feel at home. That's how I was brought up. I will never conform to this world, ever. And although you never want to "expect" that from people, it's nice when it does happen. And usually, it's another old schooler who understands the meaning of connection---much different and opposite of "networking." It's the difference between a friendship and an acquaintance.

And with that being said, I'm actually still on "staycation" with Madelene. We're about to make some chicken soup and appetizers and enjoy the company of our family. On a dark and rainy day, it's nice to curl up with family and friends with some chicken soup for the soul.

AND, with THAT being said, my cooking blog will start rocking and rolling soon with new recipes. I'm also going to be live streaming my cooking shows sooner than later. I'm sorry I've been absent for quite some time. This move took every bit of energy out of me. But it's getting better! It's starting to look like home.

Enjoy your day...be kind.

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, September 04, 2019

Letting Go

It was like ripping out a permanent fixture on the wall that's been there since the 70's. That's how I felt when I said goodbye to my ancestral home for the very last time. Bittersweet, only due to the memories that home held so dearly. It also held dark memories of death and illness...unrelenting grief.  A million tears were shed in that house over the course of ten years between both parents passing away, not too far behind the other. Although there are more good memories in that home, the heaviness of the past ten years of watching both parents succumb to their illness weighs out much, much more. Much more. Even conversations about my mom's fear of taking the chemo: "Will my hair fall out?" And if it does, I'll shave my head too. I always promised her that. For whatever reason, she still kept her dark auburn hair and always looked so beautiful. But I really would've done that for her. But those are the types of conversations had, daunting and all too surreal.

The uprooting from one home to another has been a huge transition for me to say the least. I was super excited about being in a community, rather than up on a mountain where I felt like the only one living there. Strange, because my heart fluttered and sped up each morning I woke up in my new home. I couldn't understand why though. This is where I've been dreaming to live---so why is my heart pounding so fast? My subconscious held a deep loving place for my family home, so cutting ties with it completely was almost like grieving for my parents again. It is actually a grieving process to go through, from what my therapist had told me. I learned some other coping skills that have helped me, but the most important thing I found to relieve a transitional period is to think positive things----not entertain the 'what ifs.' So I started doing that, and ever since my mind is being trained to choose the positive outlook, I've been waking up every morning, making coffee and breakfast with Madelene like I used to. I no longer stay up till 4am stressing about where I'm going to live or reliving my mom's death all over again. That house reminded me every waking moment. I sleep better, because this new home is about to make new memories. A clean slate; a new start. 

In certain ways, this new start has revived my relationship with my wife. We laugh more, I cook more, and always make sure her drink is chilled by the time she comes home. And even though we are still in the midst of unpacking, it's starting to look more like home to me. Maybe that's why my heart has calmed down. We made our mark, by giving it a new coat of paint, new hardwood floors, and now it looks cozier with all of our furniture in it. Sometimes people don't adjust well to new homes because they didn't leave their "mark" --- they haven't given their unique signature, leaving the home to feel like somebody else's house. You kind of feel like a visitor in your own home. That's an uncomfortable feeling. And that's how I felt my first few nights. Like, "Where are we?" 

My friends and family have already come to visit me, more relatives on their way too! My sisters blessed this home by their presence, and their support of all of us losing our childhood home. I know it must've been hard for them to visit me while living in our old home. That was their home too. The heaviness felt as they walked in after months of avoiding it felt like another wave of grief to them. Understandably so. And when I recently had all three of my siblings over, they seemed happier and looked so much more at ease. I truly believe your environment can dictate how you feel. It's nice to remember mom and dad, but to be reminded forcefully by being in a home that sheltered them since the 60's can leave you drained and grieving again. That's how I felt for the past two years. 

This new chapter in my life is going to be about healing and reinventing myself, rejuvenating my soul and practicing self-love so that my love tank will be full enough to love those around me. I had nothing to offer anyone while living in our old house. I was emotionally depleted, and sometimes I even felt defeated if I let it get to that point. I have no reminders of the past here. Of course I have small tokens of mom, like an old antique mirror and a few of her statues she left in the house. But I'm speaking of the vessel that held all of us as a family once. Each area has a memory, every corner has a story to tell, some good, some not so good. One thing I can say is that my family stuck together in good times as well as bad times. We didn't have to stick it out, but we chose to. 

So please bear with me as I process this huge change in my life. I promise I'll be talking about something else sooner than later, but for now, that's what's on my mind lately. That's what's in my heart for now. Just reminiscing and being grateful for this huge blessing. The letting go process can definitely be difficult, but it's also necessary in order to move forward. 

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!

When You Feel Mistreated and Betrayed

For the most part, I can safely say that most of us like to be thought of as a "good person," or somebody to be respected in wha...