Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Disconnected From Being Too Connected

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

So I responded...


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



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

Disconnected By Being Connected

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

Face-to-Face 

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

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

The Takeaway 

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

A Very Dark Winter Ahead of Us

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

The Predicted "Dark Winter"

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

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

Coffee Is Life 

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

Stop the 'Whining'

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

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

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

No Absolute Truth = Division  

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

The Red Zoned Communities 

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Unpopular Opinion: Ditch the AA Meetings

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

High Bottoms and Low Bottoms

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

Trading Off Addictions 

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

My Reasonings For My 90 Day Hiatuses 

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

The Grim Reality

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

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

You ARE Powerful!

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

Disassociate With Friends & Family

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

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

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

Ok, I'm done here.

Enjoy the beautiful weekend ahead of us! 

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

Wednesday, October 07, 2020

Bottled Up Emotions: Casting All Your Cares

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

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

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

This came up. 


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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 03, 2020

Process of Elimination: A Personal Journey to Healing

What a long year for all of us. As we approach the fall season, we're also may be facing another lockdown here in New York, thanks to a couple of communities who made that possible. But it's much more than playing the "blame game" because thousands congregated in a venue without masks or social distancing (whatever you believe)---it's about control, it's about the elections, it's about corruption. So we citizens have to take the short end of the stick (closing our businesses, losing our homes, apartments and jobs) and just hope for the best. As our anxiety starts rising once again, so does our alcohol intake. Well, for some of us---it's incorrect to say "our" or "we" when some people have self control. I'm just going to start off by saying "me" and "I" with this one.

"I" found out the hard way why my heart rate was out of control. I found out why I was up all night, wondering why I couldn't sleep. I found out why I wasn't as productive or motivated to do much of anything. My culprit was the one thing I relied on at night to keep me calm: wine. And listen---I'm not a big drinker to start with. (I used to be.) I only go as far as two glasses with dinner. TWO glasses. You're probably thinking, "Oh it's all in your head--wine relaxes you." Well, over the years, I've been experiencing tachycardia (a rapid heart rate) which is a sensitivity to alcohol. Not all people are sensitive to it, but if you are prone to anxiety or if your chemistry makeup is sensitive when your blood vessels are dilated (which alcohol does, even just one drink) then you'll realize most of your issues stems from that nightly wine, beer or cocktail with dinner.

Let me just put this out there. I did not quit. I am trying an elimination experiment. So from the days of Monday through Friday, I refrain from drinking anything that has alcohol in it. What I found is, my usual morning 130 beats per minute heart rate turned into a 65 bpm. My 4am bedtime turned into an 11pm bedtime, with zero interruptions....well maybe to pee once or twice during the night because I'm a bit of a 'seasoned' creature. I started exercising again---just walking. I started cooking on a daily basis---enough for us and if we have some leftover, we share it with our neighbors or freeze it. I started doing more projects for work and it's been so much fun! I also started playing my guitar which I haven't done in almost a year. Most importantly, my prayer time has increased---not only mornings, but I have a nightly ritual to spend time with God. I grab my tea and head upstairs into my little prayer room, light some candles, put on ambient music and just meditate. 

I cannot tell you what a difference this made. I look forward to the mornings, instead of fearing it. I also look forward to going to bed at night, instead of fearing that I'll have insomnia. I look forward to every second of the day. My depression----what depression? (Knock on wood.) It feels like God literally grabbed my hand and pulled me out of a dark and very deep pit. I have a group of friends who support me in my new journey to become healthier, as they are too, even virtually supporting me. 

My grief over my parents has turned more about being content and at peace with where they are right now. They're at peace, so I'm at peace. Do I still have my moments? Of course. But I no longer stay there and entertain the grief session that can last for hours. I more or less reminisce about the good times, and forget about how and where they passed.

I've always been consistent with making my bed when I wake up and cleaning my home every single day, some more than others, some less than others. But now, I'm finding if I make everything around me beautiful, then I feel beautiful. It relieves my stressors to have everything around me look clean, neat, beautiful and comfy. Even just buying a nice throw rug for the living room made the place feel different. Sometimes changing up things in your house can affect your mood and wellbeing. I don't know much about feng shui, but I know that when the room is set up in a certain way, it does feel more open---much more breathable. 

With the buzz of another lockdown being threatened, I wanted to make my home my favorite place in the world. I want to be able to say, "I wouldn't want to be anywhere else." And lately, even with mourning my old childhood home that I had to give up---it took a good while to feel "at home" in my new place. And now, I'm in love with my new home. Someone asked me an interesting question interesting question the other day. They asked, "If you had your choice, and money was not an option, would you pick your old home all renovated and suited up to your needs? Or would you stay in your new place?" Of course I said both. But she said, "No. One home...one choice...which one?" And without thinking, I said, "My new place. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else." I finally completely fell in love with my new home, and I don't mourn over my old place anymore. I think it happened when I went to visit my old home two weeks ago. I walked around the property, looked inside the living room and saw where we would have Christmas parties, family events, or just lazy days watching Lifetime movies with my mama. Even with these sentimental memories that came flooding into my mind, I left it all there, because they were no longer there. The 'soul' of the house had left when the last heir left. I can't explain it, but going there gave me some sort of closure. It was as if the house gave its blessing for me to move on. I know that sounds strange, but if you have ever had to leave a home unwillingly before, especially due to an emotional attachment, there's a lot of heart in there---a lot of tears, laughter, pain and joy that was held in that big vessel. It's hard to just pick up and go. 

But I digress. Whenever I have my wine time, my mind seems to live in the past. It focuses on the memories, the 'what ifs' and the 'shoulda-coulda-woulda' scenarios. But now, with eliminating my 'wine time,' I am more in the present moment. I was planning to just leave my wine time for a Saturday night or a Sunday dinner sort of treat, but I'm loving this phase of my life so much, that I don't even want to feel that way again. And maybe I have to train my mind and be comfortable and content with who I am, and where I am in the here 'n now, before I can treat myself to a glass or two of wine. I have to heal before indulging. Without complete healing, the wine will hold me back, as it was doing. You know, people back in the day used to drink wine for celebrations only. It was for "happy events" ---not for grieving and going through pandemics, being completely and utterly terrified---it only amplifies what you feel. Alcohol hones in on the existing emotions. So before you pick up a drink, how are you feeling? Are you stressed? Are you sad? Are you worried? If you are, those emotions will amplify after the alcohol wears off. So for the two hours of that nice buzz and feeling so relaxed, afterwards, it gave me 24 hours of insomnia and panic attacks. I'm not willing to go back, until I am completely healed. The next time I pick up a glass of wine will be when I am completely healed and ready and celebrating something amazing. 

So long to my Chardonnay. Until next time...

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

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