Friday, July 03, 2020

FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real

There's a lot to be said about be afraid--about having a constant fear gnawing at you day after day. Fear literally shrinks your mind...it also shrinks your entire world. I know it shrunk mine for a very long time, and it still manages to keep it there ever since this pandemic took center stage. People who normally didn't suffer with debilitating fear are now experiencing it for the first time ever. This world is full of illness, rage, injustice and grief. For a while, I sunk back into my small world---into that fearful corner of anxiety and hypochondria. I had to stop thinking that every little tickle in my throat was the corona virus and that each sniffle would bring me closer to a ventilator. Back in the day (like last year) I would've just blown it off, popped a Claritin and be done with it. Today, I question every sensation in my body, monitoring it like a prison guard. My heart would start racing, but there was nobody to really help me. I couldn't just go to a doctor or check into the ER. No. Those places are now out of the question. I had to literally face my fear head on. At the brink of going insane, I finally gave it all to God. Each morning's racing heart was met with a prayer before my feet hit the ground. Enough is enough. When it seemed as though nothing would help, I just kept saying under my breath, "I trust you...I trust you.

Being Brave in the Midst of the Storm

Remember what happened to Peter in Matthew 8?

The storm was barreling down on them, and Peter asked, “Lord, is it You?” Peter asked. “If it is, tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” Jesus said.

So Peter got out of the boat. He walked on the water toward Jesus. - Matthew 14:28-29

When Peter looked at the wind and waves, he began to doubt if Jesus was more powerful than the storm that surrounded him (Matthew 14:31).

He cried out, “Lord! Save me!” Right away Jesus reached out His hand and caught him. “Your faith is so small!” He said. “Why did you doubt Me?” - Matthew 14:30-31

When Peter looked at the wind and waves, he began to doubt if Jesus was more powerful than the storm that surrounded him (Matthew 14:31).

Do you know what the Bible says about doubt? “People who doubt are like waves of the sea. The wind blows and tosses them around.” (James 1:6) What an interesting word picture! Peter’s doubt literally caused him to be tossed around in the wind and waves. He began to sink. We look at the scary situation around us. We doubt whether God actually has power over that situation, or if He cares enough to help us. We may stop doing what God wants us to do. Or we may be overwhelmed with fear. You know the kind of fear I’m talking about---the kind that makes you feel like there’s a whirlwind in the pit of your stomach. But here is the truth: Lots of situations are too big or too scary for you to handle, but nothing is too big for Jesus. Don’t focus on the situation you are in. Focus on the One who has power over every situation. He WANTS to do what is best for you, and He is ABLE to do what is best for you. Focusing on that truth should give you peace. That truth should give you the confidence to step out of your boat and do what it is He wants you to do without any fear.---read more like this.

Each morning after, the first thing I did was look to Jesus. I thanked Him for another day. Every morning after that, my anxiety lessened little by little. My fear lessened as well. I still have a lot of work ahead of me, but I 'stepped out of the boat' at least, I 'walked on water' and if I sink, it's because doubt starts filling my mind again, but if I keep my eyes on Jesus, I won't sink. If you keep your faith strong and don't let it sink, you will see you can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens you.

FEAR is a liar. FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real. The devil is a liar. He's just waiting for you to sink into the water. It's funny how many people are a little shy to admit that they are Christians or that they pray to Jesus. They think they'll be seen as a "holy roller" or that they're one of those judgmental bigots holding signs demeaning other people. The fact is, your relationship with God is your own. People--those who worship God but their behavior shows differently are lost or hurting. Some even have a warped view on what God is. God is LOVE. God doesn't represent hatred or insults. He represents YOU. We are all "sinners" and we all fall short sometimes. That's OKAY. That's the perfect time to go to God and talk with Him. Did you know that fear is spoken about 365 times in the Bible? So each day, for an entire year, you can read something that'll help you with your fear. It's one of the most talked about things in the Bible.

False Evidence Appearing Real

Have you ever noticed a time when you had anxiety about something you had to do or somewhere you had to go? You thought the worse case scenario and it may have filled your mind with doubt. But when you went through it in fear, you realized that none of those things that you were thinking about actually happened. We seem to forget them when everything pans out. Especially for agoraphobic people like myself, I will drum up a scenario like, "But what if I break down," "But what if I get stuck in traffic," "But what if I pass out in the middle of the grocery store?" Those "what ifs" will drive you into a smaller world, as it did for myself. It's okay to make a plan. So for instance, if I break down on the road somewhere, I have a phone plus a service my car has where you push a button and an operator comes on to assist you. If I get stuck in traffic (and hopefully I'm in the slow lane) I can simply pull over, do some breathing exercises or call someone. If I pass out in the grocery store (which never happened to me)---then someone would definitely help me, I'm sure. If I rationalize my irrational fears, it makes me braver, like, "I can do this!"

Fear is a Normal Fight or Flight Response

Without a doubt, I still get those late night panic attacks where I sometimes call my sister for help. She then puts my mind at ease and I start thinking, "Why am I so out of control?" But it's okay. Sometimes it happens and it's good to have a trusted person to be available when they can. And when nobody is there to help, talk to God about it. Go in another room and just pray as if you were talking to a trusted friend. This is what's been keeping me sane lately. Now, when I wake up in the morning, my heart isn't racing as much as it usually does. I can get all my work done, make coffee and enjoy my mornings again. Fear will ruin your life if you don't get a grip on it.

Yes it's normal to "fear" the virus.
Yes it's normal to "fear" our world being so incredibly different.
Yes it's normal to "fear" not being able to see our friends and family again.
Yes it's normal to "fear" unemployment and the collapse of our economy.

But guess who is stronger than all of those scenarios above? The earth recycles events and even plagues. In 1918, they were plagued with the Spanish Flu. (Which has now become politically incorrect to say these days.) There were earthquakes, locusts, tornadoes, tsunamis and wars. We have been through much of it, maybe not in our lifetime, but this world has seen it all. Is it a sign of Jesus coming back? Nobody truly knows the day nor hour. But it's good to be ready and excited for it, nonetheless.

All of it is so very frightening. So I've come to the conclusion that we should never fear death. Yep--I said it. It's such a primitive and natural fear, isn't it? So how do you overcome fearing death? By believing that God is there to take you when you leave this world. Faith will let you overcome that fear. But faith is like a muscle, you have to keep at it for it to become stronger. You can't just say, "Well, I believe in God, so...." It's gotta be more than that. I do believe that we are living the end times, but that's neither here nor there. We are all going to perish one way or another, some day or another, so we might as well face it fearlessly, and keep our eyes on Jesus. Walk on the water and don't fall---have 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!

Thursday, July 02, 2020

Understanding People With Anxiety Disorder

Sometimes things aren't what they appear to be. Most of the time, nobody knows a person well enough to understand exactly what's going on with them. For instance, when I talk about my struggle with anxiety disorder, I always get the same answer, especially from therapists: "But you don't strike me as someone who would have anxiety or panic attacks." They would mention my personality and how "happy" I seem to be. I'm genuinely a very happy person---I'd rather be happy, but when I get these panic attacks, it can leave me totally exasperated for a day or two. My personality becomes introverted---I almost want to say, silent. At that point, I'm living inside of my head. The only thing I can contribute these remarks, when people say I don't "look the part" is that I come from a very friendly, intelligent and extremely talkative family. I'm Italian, whaddya' gonna do? We're animated, funny, loving, caring, and we love to laugh. I grew up with three amazing, beautiful sisters. When we're all together, especially in a restaurant, sometimes we're asked to 'tone it down.' I was hysterical on my 40th birthday. It was one of the best birthdays of my life. We knew the owner of the restaurant, and he came up to us and said, "The bar area said that this table is having way too much fun," as they heard roars of laughter from our family.

Growing up, I started developing anxiety at the age sixteen. Sometimes I would cry right in the middle of the living room, and my mom would come running in saying, "Don't cry, don't cry mama!" It's not that she didn't want me to feel emotions, but it made her cry to see me cry. My dad did the same thing. So I tried not expressing my feelings so outwardly anymore, because I didn't want other people to cry or feel bad. When I started working, I was in an environment where everyone had to "smile when you talk" and "make the customer know you're smiling through the phone." Sure, no problem. I went to so many seminars and business trips to tell me how to behave, how to talk, and how to sell sell sell! They also trained me on what not to say, which is sometimes more important. I actually really loved it.

One morning, I had to attend an important department meeting in one of the smaller conference rooms of our company. I had to give a presentation---my first presentation ever! As everyone was listing off their numbers for the month, I sat there, watching their lips move, but I couldn't hear them. I could feel my heart pounding in my throat, and the palms of my hands were drenched. (Good to flip through papers I thought---didn't have to do the ol' lickaroony trick.) As my turn approached, I walked up to the front of the room---"the stage" if you will, and went up to my point board with all of my numbers. Behind me, they had a coffee station set up with a water cooler. Five minute into my spiel, the water cooler bubbled up making a less than pleasant sound. Everyone's eyes widened, so I had to think fast...and I then said, "Excuse me, lunch isn't sitting well today." Everyone was hysterically laughing and became instant "friends." It lightened up the room so much, that I was no longer uncomfortable---as if I knew every single person. They had a sense of humor. They needed something to make them laugh. Let's face it, nobody wanted to be there. My anxiety disappeared. And so, my presentation (besides the water cooler bubble) went better than I had expected. It was then I realized, that people are drawn to people who can make them laugh, or at least smile. I know that's the case for me. If you can make me laugh, I'm your friend forever. My mom always said, "If you marry someone who can make you laugh, it'll last forever."  And I did.

There's also something called, "smiling depression." Now, I can't tell you that this is my case, because I don't suffer with depression so much as I do with anxiety. My anxiety can tire me out, where I do become depressed, but it's extremely short-lived. Some people are so incredibly depressed---clinically depressed---where their only defense in hiding their sadness is by smiling. One good example are comedians. Most have a deep sadness from within, and in order to survive, they make other people laugh. I used to work for comedians, filming and editing their one hour segment into a two minute preview, which was quite challenging, because you have to pick out the best parts. I've seen so many of these people outside the comedy club, and their personalities were the total opposite of what they appeared to be on stage. Sadly, some of them committed suicide. Look at Robin Williams. Would you ever, in a million years, think he would ever take his own life? He suffered in silence. Most of us do. Some of us are told to not cry, or 'shake it off,' and we are supposed to make people laugh and smile, not drag them down into a pit of depression. Who wants that? But also, who wants to fake it?

So I embraced all aspects of 'me'---the sad, the melancholy, the moody and the happy-go-lucky Deb. I'm okay with who I am, every facet of my being. I'm not okay with how I can sometimes lash out in anger, or become cranky because I'm having an anxiety-ridden day. Many people who suffer with anxiety can seem 'touchy.' (My advice: let it go.) Sometimes, we'll snap at you with a snide remark, or challenge you in an argument about something less than significant, because we have to let off a little steam. This is why I bought a 40 lb punching bag. In case that happens, I just go in the other room and punch it out. We all have our moments, and when you can find a friend or partner in life who loves you for you, accepts all particles of your existence, then you know they're a keeper. This is not to say you should mistreat anyone. I'm saying, sometimes we get moody, and sometimes we say things we can regret later on. I think that's just the humanness in us. Whenever I get in one of my salty moods, Madelene usually tries to make me laugh, and it always works.

My point to this long-winded post, is to never judge anyone for their struggles. Try to understand behavioral flaws, especially if it's a friend or loved one. Sometimes, our actions do not match how we are feeling on the inside. The best thing someone can say to me is, "Hey Deb, what can do for you? Are you okay?" I usually don't need anything, just a calming voice full of understanding and patience. You're gonna need a ton of it with people like us. That's not a bad thing, it's just how we are wired.

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, June 26, 2020

The World's On Fire--Isn't Life Hard Enough?


We just went through three months of pure anxiety-ridden hell of a pandemic, and people are just at each other's throats. For me, I'm used to anxiety, and I'm learning how to accept it, feel it, and let it pass... But those who have never experienced panic attacks or anxiety, are now feeling it for the first time due to the virus. Many of us have hidden "health anxiety" -- aka, hypochondria. Those who have it don't feel comfortable admitting they have it, only because they're seen as "germaphobes" and get mocked due to their excessive cleanliness or avoidance of catching germs by shaking hands or sipping out of the same cup. Now? It's become the norm to not shake hands or sip out of anybody's cup. This is good for us hypochondriacs. For some people like myself, this world is going to be a much pleasant place to live in, 'germ-wise'---because it's now acceptable to pass up a handshake or hug or kiss from somebody we don't want touching us. I'm not saying that to be rude---I'm only saying that because that's how I always was. I'm not much of a hugger, nor do I want to shake anyone's hands. I remember my better half took me to one of her Christmas parties, and a hundred people shook my hand as we were introduced. I cannot tell you how long I scrubbed my hands with rubbing alcohol before my skin practically slid off. But that's just me, and now, I'm learning, it's not just me. It's almost everyone.

Getting back to people being at each other's throats---people are fighting over whether or not to wear a mask. Listen, I get it. You don't believe in science, or you do believe in science, and you wanna tackle mask-less shoppers as they walk around seemingly free around the aisles. Stop attacking people for not wearing masks! Start shuffling away from them instead if you're that concerned. For me--I wear my mask at all times inside a store. I can't breathe because my anxiety 'tells me' I can't breathe, but my oxygen levels are perfect...yes I have an oximeter that I check all the time. Regardless, it can make you feel almost claustrophobic in a way. If you have COPD or asthma---then don't wear one. My thoughts on this are very liberal. We have our 6 ft distance rule and we also have the ability to take ourselves away from a threatening situation. Stop attacking people! It's not worth it.  If you're that freaked out (as I am) then stay home and get your groceries delivered. Pretty simple.

All sorts of arguments have been going on besides the pandemic, like these protests for George Floyd. The racism is off the charts---but for every race. Yes, I said every race. White people against black people, and black people against white people. I recently read a post where this one black woman was asked to wear a mask before she put her items up on the counter inside a grocery store. The cashier was nervous and didn't want to help her without having a mask on. I totally understand this. Just put your mask on and let the lady check you out so you can be on your way. But the black lady insisted that the "white cashier" didn't want to check her out just because she was black.

Stop.

People are using the race card in order to justify whatever it is someone else is complaining about. Yes, there is racism---no doubt, but this incident has zero to do with skin color! I don't engage in any debate online, and I certainly don't like to chitchat about this kind of ordeal with friends, because it's such a slippery slope. We're all so fearful of this recent pandemic that we are still going through, and we're also extra combative due to what happened to George Floyd. And no doubt, everyone is outraged about what happened to that poor man. But there are many opinions about the protest---more opinions about destroying property and hurting other people's businesses who actually have the same opinion as the people attacking them. It just doesn't make sense to me.

Regardless of all that has happened, how do you feel? When sitting at home and entertaining the thoughts inside your mind---what plays out? Does it feel angry? Scared? Happy? Comforted? It's like everyone has an axe to grind with somebody. Everyone needs to be 'outraged' over something---anything. I've seen it in my own community. Situations and conflicts that have nothing to do with race, color or creed, are now being included in the mix. This has divided us as a nation. Statues, monuments and business brands are being removed due to the nature of that time period. Listen, I don't care if you call Aunt Jemima, "Becky Smith"----it's not worth fighting with other people about it. If they want to tear down statues and monuments, how about we let our government remove them and ship them off to appropriate museums so that we don't lose the history of it? Let the Dixie Chicks call themselves, "The Chicks," ---nobody is going to be happy regardless. Feminists will complain about the word "chicks" and then they'll be reduced to "The Female Band." Fine.

I don't care. I really don't. This life is so temporary and I don't want to waste time arguing with people---especially friends about things that are just not important, as human relations are. How about we start treating one another with love and respect, no matter what your views are? What about people who threaten to delete you off from their social media accounts just because you voted for Trump? What about those who will "unfriend" you if you have an entirely different opinion than they do?

What a shame!

What a time to live in---I mean, you have quite the characters running for office, civil unrest, murder hornets, a plague that swept through and now we have a huge dust storm -- oh -- and let's not forget the UFOs the Navy caught on camera. It's like, what else can 2020 throw at us? Some say Jesus will be appearing on a cloud. Let's hope so! This world has seen its worst---or has it? I mean think back years and years ago... We had many plagues, including the Spanish Flu that killed many people. We've had dust storms, UFOs, wars, terrorism, earthquakes and tsunamis. Even during those times, people claimed that Jesus was coming back. "Oh, He's gonna be returning soon!" Let's be reminded that nobody knows the day nor hour. Last week, I had a dream about angels with trumpets blowing from each corner of the sky, and they were also screaming, "WAKE UP! WAKE UP!" Didn't people in Biblical times have these sort of dreams? So who knows. Do you think it's the end times? Or is it another cycle in our earthly existence?

Regardless of what it is---stop fighting!

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

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Social Media Wars and Your Mental Health

In most cases, people who are unsure of themselves usually possess one or two traits: being introverted and quiet, or on the flip side, they're angry, combative and will argue with you until you say that they're right. This ego-driven behavior is usually a deep-seated ax to grind. You usually see this on Facebook debates over politics or on a news' thread. I see people who don't even know the full story or those who weren't even at the scene of what happened argue as if they knew everything. To be right is part of the ego's mission. It can't be wrong, or the ego simply dies. Nobody wants to look vulnerable and throw in the towel on a good debate, especially when there are quite a few onlookers. To them, it's like losing the 'schoolyard fight' at 3pm. Let's not forget the internet name calling trolls. They'll blurt out some of the most ridiculous things, between insults or using the straw man argument. For me, I've been down that road and occasionally I'll find myself in some sort of debate, not entertaining it to the degree that they want.  Usually, when I see thread going downhill, I turn on my notifications for that thread and watch the ship sink like the Titanic. It usually does.

Panic Mode

Do you know how much unneeded stress goes into arguing with someone, especially with strangers? It actually raises your heart rate, your blood pressure and puts in a much more stronger argument for the next poor soul who disagrees with you. I've learned that with politics, religion or something that happened on the news---we all have our views and opinions, none which could be proven 100%. So why are we fighting with one another over it? Can't we just speculate and question it all? I do believe that the mainstream media is meant to put a division between all of us. It's meant to conjure up the worst emotions, and inevitably cause us to be at odds with each other. On top of that, the misinformation on everything we see is ridiculous. Back and forth with "facts" from the CDC (who to me is a crock of sh*t) --- wear a mask, don't wear a mask, the virus lives on counters, the virus doesn't live on counters---which is it? Aren't they a bunch of scientists and virologists? Why can't they figure any of this out? "Oh it still is unknown at the time."

Don't Take The Bait

You also have those "button pushers"---you know the type---they'll plop a very proactive post onto Facebook and then wait for the hungry fish to attack the bait. Again, just turn on your notifications and watch the shitshow, if that's what you want to do. Don't engage. It's not worth it. It affects every single cell in your body. When you get angry, your physiology completely changes. Anger tenses up your muscles, and inside your brain, the neurotransmitter chemicals known as, "catecholamines" are released, causing you to experience a burst of energy lasting up to several minutes or more. It urges you to take action, and at the same time, your heart rate and blood pressure sky rockets. The adrenaline rush can cause someone with anxiety disorder to feel panicked for more than a day or so. You go into "fight or flight" mode, which is actually a primitive response. I've noticed for myself, I stopped the "fight" mode and now I go into flight mode. I either block the person off, don't respond, or completely go silent, because my system can no longer take the anxiety that goes into the fight mode. It seriously affects my nervous system and health in so many ways.

Why It's Not Worth The Fight 


Personally speaking, after you have been through the ringer, one trauma after another, you're going to find yourself needing the drama to fulfill whatever it is that's lacking. For instance, after losing both my parents, as well as my childhood home, I no longer entertained anyone who wanted to argue with me. And if an argument was inevitable, I would sometimes mouth off, then go into hiding, sometimes with my own loved ones. The worst thing you can do when you are emotionally wounded, is to fight with a loved one, because deep inside, you truly don't want to. It's external chaos that acts like the initial bait between you and who you are arguing with. Let them take the bait and be happy with it. Let it go. Through my own experience, the bitter arguments after the trauma left me with sleepless nights, with my heart racing out of control. I thought, this couldn't be from a simple argument! And of course, the hypochondriac that I am had to check it out. I'm pretty well acquainted with my cardiologist, and he's pretty well acquainted with my healthy heart right now. It's my mind that needed fixing---still does. When you suffer with anxiety disorder, one incident can leave your emotions feeling the same way for weeks, because your adrenaline is still percolating. The brain of someone with anxiety disorder doesn't know how to turn it off, this is why people who suffer from panic attacks should NOT argue, or engage in unnecessary bickering online.

How Do You Fix It? 

I can only give you my personal experience, and that's solely relying on God, and asking the Holy Spirit to live within you, so that you will find yourself hesitating to engage in something that's unhealthy for you. And it's not by your own doing---it's the Spirit convicting you, changing you, taking out the old stony heart and replacing it with a new heart with new and right desires.  (That's part of a scripture actually.) Like anything, if you don't practice it daily, it will lose its "muscle." You need to be consistent and acknowledging that the Spirit is there to help you make better decisions. Sometimes, if I lose my awareness, I lose the Spirit. It's not too long until I find myself in a combative argument, or having a severe panic attack from pent up anger from God only knows. I'm not telling you to sit in a room for five hours and pray, I'm saying to pray when you can, (even if it's in your head) -- anywhere you can, and then acknowledge that the Spirit is living within you. Ask the Spirit to reside inside your heart. But remember, the Spirit cannot live in a vessel that's too 'messy'---not saying that you have to be perfect, but get rid of the negativity, anger, bitterness and make room for more forgiveness, understanding and love. So clean some stuff out, and make room for the Spirit. Then, watch what happens.

"And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart." --Ezekiel 36:26

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, June 15, 2020

Agree to Disagree

Lola loving her beef marrow bone.
Whether you like it or not, your fight is not my fight. You can't force people to be on "your side" or have the same opinion or beliefs as you. For instance, a vegan friend of mine claimed that I must not really love my dog that much since I eat meat. Listen, I totally respect your stance on not eating meat, whether it's for your health or for saving animals, but since the beginning of time, we were put on earth to eat vegetables and meat. The same friend put her dog on a vegan diet, which I disagree with---but I never told her I disagreed with it because it's none of my business. Dogs are omnivores. These kinds of different point of views can bring a strain on the friendship if one is trying to convert you over to the other side. Even little 'digs' here and there are uncalled for. It's like me saying that if you don't pray to the same God I do, then I refuse to be friends with you, or I'm constantly gonna bring it up so you'll finally give in, or give up on our friendship.

Even politically speaking, friendships are being torn every single day now. This entire pandemic has taken a toll on all of us to some degree, mentally and physically. We've worked so hard on flattening the curve here in New York, and we finally did it---or so we think we did. We social distanced for three whole months, many 'sheltered in place' and all of us, are ready to go out and live our lives again. Sadly, after businesses have shut down for good, and some people even lost their homes, I couldn't imagine another plague wreaking havoc on us....and that plague is: rage. Everyone agrees that the tragic death of George Floyd needed justice--no doubt. So, the protests began, some peacefully, some not. During the height of the pandemic, thousands upon thousands gathered together in every city and in every state to show their outrage. They also made sure to destroy businesses, some to which belonged to black store owners. Not only did they destroy businesses, but they also went into residential neighborhoods and burglarized what they thought were "privileged white folks." Both cops and civilians were killed, because of rage---because of flat out racism.

Julie Powell wrote a powerful piece on her thoughts regarding dismantling monuments to remove historical events.

"These solutions are clearly absurd because history cannot be re-written. It’s fact. Subject to interpretation? Certainly. But it’s fact nonetheless. And it is for this reason that destruction of confederate monuments are futile. Regardless of our own personal sympathies, the Confederacy, the Civil War, and slavery are just as much a part of our cultural heritage as the American Revolution, the good as well as the bad, and these are facts we must confront. 

This requires redefining what a monument is. Some argue the only purpose of a monument is to commemorate the dead. But in my view, monuments have manifold purposes, from highlighting the nauseating evils humans are capable of, to sparking a conversation about important political events. Nazi concentration camps do not still stand in Germany because Germans want to promote Nazi virtues. They stand as reminders of the evils that occurred because of Nazi ideas. 

The most common objections to the preservation of Confederate monuments is that the alleged “purpose” of many of these monuments was to promote white supremacy. But by that logic, perhaps we should seriously reconsider the Lincoln Memorial, since it was erected, not to celebrate the eradication of slavery (something Lincoln himself never fully achieved), but to promote nationalism. 

And the notion that Confederate Monuments celebrate white supremacy hardly aligns with modern day sentiments. Having lived in Georgia for 18 years, neither I nor anyone I know — whether they be black or white — has ever considered confederate monuments to promote white supremacy. Rather, these monuments are part of a cultural heritage honoring ancestors who died for a cause they believed was right. And while we may not agree with their decision — I readily admit that southern states were wrong to secede — this only adds to the gravity and importance of preserving these monuments: so that we do not make a similar mistake. 

Perhaps the best place for Confederate monuments is not in the middle of the public square; perhaps they ought to be placed inside the Met or a newly-constructed American equivalent to Momento Park (a Hungarian park containing statues of Communist leaders). But in any case, Confederate statues certainly do not belong inside a dumpster outside the UNC campus while Americans applaud themselves for somehow “paying the debt” for their ancestral sins."----read more here

Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it. So by removing these monuments, flags and other artifacts of our history, is removing what truly happened, so that it will never happen again. The good and the evil.  As I was reading the news, they had also stated that they were removing the movie, Gone With the Wind. This classic movie has been taken off HBO Max following calls for it to be removed from the US streaming service. HBO Max said the 1939 film was "a product of its time" and depicted "ethnic and racial prejudices" that "were wrong then and are wrong today." What next---The Color Purple? Rosewood? When you erase history, you are erasing the minds of our future generation who may need to be reminded of what's wrong and right.

Another question in regards to this topic: for every black person who is Christian, Baptist or other, should we remove the scriptures in the Bible about slavery? Or maybe we should leave them there to learn from it?

So, let's talk about my vegan friend again---the one who told me I must not love my dog enough, since I like to eat meat. She believes that it's okay to destroy businesses and riot, while protesting. "It will have a greater impact so that it won't happen again," she said. See, I believe in a protest, but here's where my dilemma lies:

  • I don't believe in the possible deaths of thousands by giving justice for those who have died in the hands of officers. Innocent people who also agree with you are dying due to the spread of COVID. 
  • I don't believe in destroying businesses and the livelihoods of others, just because you want to go out and protest. 
  • I believe in peaceful protests that can generate positive solutions. 
  • Just because there are a few bad cops does not mean that all cops are bad. The same goes for those who riot and destroy property--they do not represent all who are peacefully protesting. 
  • If you are protesting in a crowd, you may be infecting others with COVID. How does this make sense at all? 

There are a lot of conspiracy theorists who truly believe that what we're seeing in the media and in our own world is a product of population control. Some explain that the officer who knelt on George Floyd was a "crisis actor." So basically it's all about "stirring up the world" and making them go out by the THOUSANDS so they can kill off more people. That's what you're doing whether it's a conspiracy theory or not. You're participating in killing off thousands if you're a part of the huge crowds protesting in the middle of a pandemic. And whether or not you think COVID is real or some kind of "hoax" --- well then that's up to you. Nobody knows anything at this point, but common sense goes a long way.

And lastly, some comforting words from the Bible to help you sleep at night. If you have anxiety over  what's been going on in our world, trust in God and know that prayer can move mountains!

1. Deuteronomy 31:8 (NIV) The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

2. Joshua 1:9 (NIV) Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

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

4. John 14:27 (NLT) I am leaving you with a gift - peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

I heard the crowds chanting, "I can't breathe! I can't breathe!" I'm afraid that many protesters are going to be chanting that up in the ICUs if this pandemic is in fact, not a hoax.

Whether you agree with me or not, that's OKAY. It's okay to agree to disagree sometimes.

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

Tuesday, June 09, 2020

COVID Mania: Party Like It's 2019

We've all had it. We're done. We're sick and tired of being cooped up and told to stay home because the virus will make us sick or possibly kill us. We're missing family, friends, work, shopping, dining, haircuts, manicures, pedicures---everything we used to do before March of this year.  I remember this one night back in late February on a Wednesday eating dinner at the bar of my favorite restaurant. Madelene works late on Wednesdays, so instead of eating by myself, or waiting to eat at 10pm with her, I would occasionally take myself out, sit at the bar and have some sort of seafood with a glass of wine. I knew the owners and workers, so there were people I could chat with, as well as whoever strolled in. We were all watching the news on their big screen TV. They were talking about Wuhan, and how this new virus called, "corona" was killing so many people. It hadn't come to our area as of yet, so we were all like, "Wow, I feel bad for them," in between spaghetti bites. Little did we know, that it would be the last time we all would see one another. Two weeks later, my favorite place closed up (hopefully temporarily.) I never thought this sort of thing would happen here. We also said that back on 9-11 too.

Three months into this fiasco, I realized my own workflow had slowed down. The only reason why I haven't written as much is because I'm the one needing help with my own mental health. As much as I love helping other people, this new "anxiety" is something I've never dealt with before. Between insomnia, myoclonic seizures (which subsided for a good while) as well as a racing heart with palpitations have sky rocketed, to where it can leave me absolutely exasperated. The recovery time for my panic attacks take a couple of days, sometimes more. I've used every resource available, from Telehealth therapy, meditation, vitamins, homeopathic remedies and even exercise---all of those are great, no doubt, but nothing works better than pushing through the fear. For instance, this morning I woke up with a fast heart rate that usually makes my heart skip beats. That means I'm in for the day. No outings---not even to venture to sit outside on my own porch. Nothing. It leaves me debilitated until it goes away. But here's the thing: don't wait for it to go away. I'm learning this now. Don't wait till your heart rate is back to "what you expect it to be." Sometimes, we need to do things in fear, and not when it's "okay" in our minds.

I'm learning that it's important to stop the dialogue in our minds. I was reading a book called, "Untethered Soul" by Michael Singer. He explains that the process of getting rid of the anxiety is to stop listening to your "roommate in your mind"---the one that tells you, "Eh, maybe I shouldn't go out because I'll have a panic attack." Stop listening to that voice. Eckhart Tolle also wrote a book called, "The Power of Now," where he explains that you are the "Being" and your mind is its own entity. When your mind chatters, let your "Being" look at it, and once it's being observed, the 'chatter' stops instantly. It works, but you have to keep practicing it. As soon as your mind says, "Oh you better not call Stacy, she may be upset with you," or "Don't drive down that road, you may get caught in traffic," -- look at your mind (in your mind) -- and it stops. Acknowledge the chatter and then turn it around and intentionally say something of gratitude to replace the negative thought.

Another thing you have to do is limit your dose of watching the news. The news media are all fear mongers. They want to instill fear and divide our country. They need ratings, which brings in the big bucks. Half the things they have threatened us with, like looters and rioters rampaging our businesses and homes, did not come to pass thank God. They show you only the negative things, without showing you the beautiful highlights of this fiasco, like the black man hugging the white cop, or how people were helping one another, by bringing the elderly a supply of food and toiletries during this pandemic. I also had to remove myself from any political talk. I found myself in a debate with a friend who disagreed with my opinion. I don't believe you have to destroy other people's property while protesting, while she had another view. And well, a friendship was broken. The division was made.

For the first time, we have seen the lowest cases of COVID-19, which is wonderful! We managed to put it at bay by staying at home and practicing good hygiene and wearing our masks. But some people disagree with that. I understand you want to go out and see people and live your life---but we did well with pushing this virus aside. But now, what I don't understand is---why can't we congregate at a church, but protesters are allowed to congregate by the thousands in every street and in every city? It doesn't make sense to me. Why can't I attend a friend's funeral, but I can join the hundreds that protested in my own town? If the cases don't go up in two weeks, I'm calling it out for what it is: government control. Maybe everyone was right. Maybe it was all about control---or a "beta test" to see how well we listen and "behave?" I'm not much for conspiracy theories, but things just don't make sense to me. When I look on my Facebook feed, I see family and friends back together, swimming in the same pools and having big barbecues. It warms my heart to see this. But is it safe? There are businesses that have closed down for good due to the three months of not being in business and today, out of all days is opening day for New York. For who? Who's opening up? Those lucky enough to have had enough of a savings to maintain their existence? What about our mom and pop stores who had to shut their doors for good? But I guess congregating in a huge protest that consists of thousands of people are okay. That's not risky.

Between my frustration of not knowing the truth, or being confused over what's ok and what's not ok, to where a mask or to not wear a mask, I'm sick of it. And so are you...you have to be. Some people have completely given up on the "shelter in place--where your mask" --- and they have gone rogue and are living like it's the summer of 2019. I think I'm gonna throw caution to the wind, throw away this fear, and say, "I'm done!" Throw in the towel and mask, and be with my family and friends. But for now, I'll wait out the  two weeks. After that, I'm living my life as I always did. I will respect other people's space and wear a mask in a store, but I'm done declining invites from my family and friends, in fear that I'll get sick. I'm getting sick in the head by staying in. I don't know what's worse---to have COVID or to be suicidal. Maybe that's another tactic of "process of elimination" and population control. God help us.

Pray! Pray! Pray!

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, May 21, 2020

Your Mental Health During the Pandemic

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

The COVID Reaper

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

Future: Unemployed & Homeless

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

Domestic Disputes & Divorces

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

Isolation

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The Pandemic Outrage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fear of what?

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, February 28, 2020

Choosing Life Through Repentance

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

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

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

I'm not the same. Thank God.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com
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