Love in the Time of Corona

For me, watching coupling trends or items of the like are of interest to me. I mean, real trends, not gossip. For example, China reported a record-high number for divorce filings in March, after their nation exited lockdown. This was timely and interesting to me as I found the report just as we entered sheltering-in-place protocols in Texas. I have always held the adage, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” as a universal truth, particularly given my own personalities and needs for time alone. For me, this applies to the kids, too! Albeit, in smaller amounts or time increments. So, I have held the opposite to be true as well. Too much time results in somebody getting on someone else’s nerves, and the pandemic protocols begged the questions: Why? Can I prevent reaching the breaking the point? Will I still want to after the smoke has cleared?

What is it about closeness, and specifically lots of time spent together in close quarters, that is so damn hard. I started to look for answers before the proverbial shoe dropped so I could arm myself. My mom is widow, so this was one reason I did ask her. I was fortunate enough to have a friend who is older and married. He and his wife have been married for 50 years and are both retired. He takes a dance class with me. He does this without his wife, who is really a lovely person. I reached out via facebook and he responded enthusiastically.

Basically, he said when it is just the two of you, you hyper-focus on the things you don’t like about a person. The trick is to tick off the things you do like as well. Make it a mental exercise. Also, you have got to do something that is yours. For us, we both love the Y. She swims while I dance. We have mutual friends there but may not see them together all of the time.

Ahh! I felt like I could help keep the scales balanced. Any time a light was cast on a what I considered to be a personality flaw, I would say, “but he is/also does _____”. No problem, right?

When I tell you the scales were broke, busted, and I was disgusted in a matter of days, please know I mean it. Things like the way he slept or breathed while he slept had really started to be all I could focus on. Like, how is he even sleep already? But about 10 days in, I realized that I was the only one who was feeling like this. Why? My husband got to leave the house. His business is essential and he got to leave the house-daily. While I was inside with an invisible teenager (except when the meals were ready) and a super-attached primary school child with diverse needs (hint all of her needs required physical contact at all times with –in her mind).

So, before I filed for divorce, I reached out to the teenager and told her she needed to step up and entertain her sis more so I can have some alone time so I do not commit homicide. I hinted that I might start with her. This special time , which I have come to call Quarantine Squared, is a little quarantine within the bigger overall quarantine, and it made huge difference. Everyone in our family has called a Q2 time-out. The concept was then explained to the husband and I told him where I needed him to step, too.

Immediately, some pressure was released. In addition, we both tried to find some ways to do couple things. The following are things that you can try, even now, as many are still living pretty restricted lives, as we are.

  • Talk about what we miss from our former lives and how it makes us feel. Restricted movement patterns/freedom, loss in finances, or even loved ones to this illness are all things that may need a compassionate ear. This alone helped us a lot. As racial inequities have been highlighted and exacerbated (especially in my day job) talking about it really helped!
  • Relive fond memories and day-dream about when this is over…
  • Enlisting a friend to be a sounding board for the usually harmless vetting that needs to happen at times. I know I have a married friend and we serve on each other’s personal board of directors in this capacity. We don’t belittle the spouse or divulge personal or sensitive details. It is just girl talk about if I find one more unmatched sock… NOTE: Take care if this person is family! Will vetting change their view of your spouse if you stay together?
  • Use the time together to get to know each other better. Hands down, this was my favorite thing. We have been married ten years and I have learned quite a bit about him during this time. Little things about his family, pre-us memories, small things, big things. It certainly explained some things and I ended up with an even deeper connection and appreciation for him and his perspective on things. I also taught him a thing or two about me! LOL!
  • If these don’t help, please don’t hesitate to try teletherapy. Sadly, I have witnessed some marriages end during this time, and likely there were pre-existing issues or resentments. Either way, the help of a professional can help give you the tools to resolve them or at least get to a healthy place emotionally so that there is no baggage in a new relationship going forward.

Every relationship a person had was likely tested in a variety of ways during the sheltering in place. For me and my husband, we are no longer in the strictest phases and have survived not just in tact, but better off, relationship-wise. It was not a breeze. Nerves were stepped stomped breakdanced on. But the single most important thing I learned was a true gem I gleaned from an article I read. In a marriage, or partnership, you must play to each other’s strengths. Me whining about doing more housework or juggling the little’s school and therapy demands is not likely going to change. But I am also not going to lug 100 lbs. back and forth as we move boxes for my mom (I could but it is infinitely easier for my husband), worry about all the vehicles, security and other things that have fallen into his realm of duties. These delineations are not all based on conformity to stereotypical gender roles either. They are where our strengths lie. He is physically stronger. He carries the heavy stuff. He is a carpenter and builds homes. He fixes stuff. I am a former elementary educator. I do the school stuff. We promised each other that we would be a helper and partner to the other. Sometimes, it is not equal, but it is equitable. I do the things that help him do the things he is good at and vice versa. He does this unwaveringly and without complaint. I learned that this is my biggest struggle and I have a new perspective on our partnership. And, things have never been better.

What are ways that you relationships have or are weathering the storm of the pandemic? Please drop a tip, comment, or question!

Healthy Snacks for Thriving Students

Whether your kids are going back to school this fall or taking virtual classes at home, one thing that won’t change is their endless need for after school snacks. Parents, like me, have been fighting a variety of battles of wills during the sheltering at home. Many I have talked to have admitted that nutrition and food choice battles were some of the ones most frequently dodged or exchanged for a little ease and peace and quiet.

This ferocity of the battle can be amped if there are other factors, like not great habits by adults or household influencers, or like in the case of the Little one, diverse abilities that can affect sensory processing or sheer willpower. My girl, as I have said, has Trisomy 21 and that girl is stubborn. I have had not had to “Mommy Dearest” her, but I have learned the hard way that I have not set a great example and while I have cleaned up my act to the tune of 25 pounds lost since April, she is not as easily influenced by my choices. It has been tough and often she repeats her desire for chicken “luggets”, “fench fies”, and soda for HOURS. No exaggeration. Eventually, she takes the food I offer out of sheer hunger. Often, I have to feed her a few bites to get her to try it. Almost at a 100% rate, she will eat what was handed to her, report she liked it, and we do battle again the next meal. It does not carry over, at least not yet.

I have basically tried to fix her dinner meals. If I can get some consistency here, I plan to tackle lunches as she is at work with me right now for virtual school. She will go back in two weeks (GAH! PLEASE!) and then I will gladly leave it to school lunches and peer pressure. She had really started to eat better at the beginning of the year and then WHAMMO! The pandemic brought a lot of her progress to a sudden halt.

As adults have put on a few pounds during this time, it is time to tighten up for ourselves and for kids. After all, they do as they SEE and not what you SAY. Keeping this in mind as well as the fact that the parents control supply lines, you can help your child get back or track or start to develop the kind of eating habits that well serves them well throughout their lives.

For me, my girl, who is a grazer by nature, is content to eat the same snacks. She likes fruit sauces (I make them), and smoothies (I make these too!) and baked veggie chips, yogurt, some fruits. I try to her snacks pretty unprocessed but am having no luck shifting items from the snack list to meals. So, we are all, in this together!

So how do you get your children to eat healthy snacks?

Studies show that children need to be offered a new food anywhere from 10 to 15 times before they will readily eat it – and enjoy it.

That means that it may take awhile!

But consistently offering healthy snacks, fruit, vegetables, and whole foods will pay off.

Instead of allowing your kids to choose their own snack from the pantry, plan to set out the healthy snack that you want them to eat each day after school.

Whether that means putting berries in a bowl, slicing an apple or celery sticks with a side of peanut butter, or preparing a healthy snack – put the snack on the counter in the same place each day.

If your child doesn’t want the healthy snack, that’s okay. He or she will survive without a snack.

Eventually (maybe it will take 10 – 15 times!!!), after understanding that the presented snack is consistently the only option, he or she will most likely come around and start munching!

Here are 5 easy snack ideas that kids can help prepare as well as enjoy!

  1. Baked Sweet Potato Crisps- slice (mandolin or spiralizer), season, and bake!
  2. Yogurt Parfaits – provide fruit, granola without added sugars (or make your own), and yogurt. Kids can do their own layers–may not be pretty but it may help the kids try their own creations.
  3. Humus Dip with dippers – Cutting the tahini is an easy way to lighten up humus, which is really just pureed beans. You can experiment with chickpeas, black beans, edamame and a variety of seasonings, add veggies or crackers and BOOM!
  4. Ants on a log – A Classic! Cream cheese, peanut butter, and raisins or any other dried fruit can be a fun way to tweak this classic to your child’s tastes.
  5. Peanut Butter Fruit Dip – a little peanut butter mixed with Greek yogurt can be used as a dip for fruits or even veggie or crackers! Lots of possibilities

If you have favorite healthy snacks that your kids love or tips and tricks to help encourage to try new foods, please drop a comment!

It’s Hard Out Here – Pimping or Not (Part 2)

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

Let’s resume our conversation.

Last time, I used an all-too-common example, a lost job. A lost job, no matter the why, is an opportunity for new enterprises — a new business, a trip, time off to spend with family and friends, continued education, and more. Training our minds to look at adverse or undesired situations in this way is the trick.

Well, here comes a bit of bad news–I cannot tell you how to do for you. Only you should train your brain. This makes sense. Think of how folks refer to cults and organizations, or even relationships that seem to rely on a sort of brainwashing to control the other person. No one says, “Sign me up for that. I do not want to be in control of my own mind”. This is really just a scenario where one person forfeits their power, for a plethora of reasons, and the power person then trains their brain for them, usually to their benefit. Pavlov’s Dog, plain and simple.

Difficult situations are going to happen despite intentions, preparations, or purity of heart. Knowing this is inevitable, we can be confident that on large and small scales, we will have ample opportunity to practice our brain training.

You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it

Margaret Thatcher

When Disaster Strikes

It is healthy, and quite necessary, to grieve the loss or change that feels like loss. But it’s also important to take responsibility for every stage of our lives and take a proactive approach to every situation. Only then, can we find meaning in our lives and minimize uncertainty. Taking the responsibility with acknowledgement is where we hold on to the power to choose our next steps.

Luckily, the hard task of introspection is not the only way to find meaning in difficult times.
When hardships come, it’s easy to over-think the situation. However, focusing at least part of your time to giving to others helps putting life in perspective.

Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth

Muhammad Ali

When you give away your time and energy to help others, you create a connection with others. Life is no longer something that happens to you. Instead, it becomes a network, which you can influence in a positive way. When disasters strike, it is very easy to get wrapped up in fixing whatever you need to fix. When we hyper-focus on our selves, we forget about the connectivity we have with others. Service brings perspective.

Finally, difficulties are part of life. Trying to avoid them is not only futile, but it also prevents you from focusing your energy in purposeful, selfless work when appropriate. Therefore, if difficulties cannot be avoided, you should face them with patience and compassion to yourself and others, including strangers.

Every situation leaves a mark on you. That means something. It means you’re growing, building your own path of self-acceptance and compassion. You have the power to take control of your life by reflecting non-judgmentally, accepting each situation as an opportunity, and working with and for others.

Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others

Booker T. Washington

It’s Hard Out Here – Pimping or Not (Part 1)

Photo by Engin Akyurt on

Life Lessons: Learning How to Find Meaning in Rough Times

In times like these, hopelessness is increasingly becoming a common feeling. There are tragedies on the news every day and in our lives frequently. The economy. Riots. Pandemics. Discord every where we turn. On top of that, our daily lives can bring challenges and negativity as well.

Every person faces these situations differently, though. For some, comfort is to be found in religion and spirituality; others turn to meditation or therapy. And still others, unfortunately, adopt unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as drinking, drugs, and other risk-taking behaviors to manage their grief, anguish, frustration, or hopelessness.

However, a shift in how we look at hard times can also help in adopting more positive coping mechanisms.

Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.

Khalil Gibran

One good way to reinterpret hardships is to find meaning in them.

And how can you do this?    


In the face of a negative event, sit back and ask yourself how you can make the event meaningful.

For example, let’s say you were fired or let go from your job, a distressing situation that can leave you feeling afraid, angry, and ashamed. Particularly if you have a family, debt, or live in an uncertain economy where your opportunities to find a new job are slim to none.

Consider asking yourself questions such as:

  • Did I really like that job? In many cases, we’re stuck in a job that no longer makes us fulfilled, but we are too scared to quit.
  • Is this situation freeing my time for better opportunities? A job you no longer enjoyed could have been a roadblock in your professional development.
  • What did I learn from that experience? The skills you learned at that job can be a jumping board to find better opportunities.
  • What went wrong? In this case, be honest with yourself — why were you fired? Address the causes non-judgmentally.
  • Are there any areas for growth? Regardless of what caused the negative situation, think of how you can use the experience to grow.

By asking yourself these kinds of open-ended questions, you don’t only give meaning to a negative situation. You’re also taking back control of it. And you take control of it by re-framing negative situations as opportunities to grow and thrive in unexplored areas.

It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which, more than anything else, will affect its successful outcome.

William James

That is a lot to swallow and possibly the furthest thought from your mind. Especially right in the moment. But the retraining of the mind is possible. It all starts with practice.

This was not my instinctual reaction either. But being frustrated was not yielding the growth, results, or progress I sought either. Then, reading something in a psychology book opened my mind up to possibilities of positive thinking and cognitive behavioral protocols. Long, BORING story short: your mind is powerful and can be trained. Who better than to train your brain than you?

Next time, I will share a different way to extract a lesson from hard or difficult times. For now, start a journal and track your thought patterns or reactions to negative situations. The power of change is in your hands.

Talking to Our Kids About Freedom

I really wanted to write a thoughtful post about teaching kids about aspects and perceptions of freedom. But Black Moms are already all-too-familiar with “The Talk”. In my experience, it has always been delivered to me from the perspective of what I “couldn’t do” or where I “couldn’t go”. I delivered to my eldest daughter the same way and it has served her well to this point (she will be 20 years old in January). And she gets it. My little one, who will be 8 in September, does not process “can’t” and “don’t” AT ALL. So for the past year or so, have been trying to speak to her in terms of what she can do. I do not know that she has learned all that much, but I certainly have.

She naturally exists in a place in her mind where she can do and experience all things. She does not perceive any limitations that she or, with the help of one of the adults here in the house, cannot overcome. She is freedom personified. As this facet of her perception unfolded, I realized that she intuitively does the right thing. She strives to match the freedom in her mind to her environment. She speaks freely, eats, sleeps, plays freely, and this is just her expectation. We tend to call it naivety or innocence but it is so much more than that. She is aware that others are experiencing the same environment differently. But guess what? She does not understand why and she certainly does not care. She is living her best free life.

I am linking to an article here that I will unpack next week in the Mommy Mondays post. Happy Reading! Let me know what you think or want to talk about!

7 Ways to Teach Your Kids about Freedom

July: The Freedom Series

Since June, I’ve thought about the notion of freedom in earnest. In the wake of all that is going on regarding systemic racism, police brutality, and health inequities, freedom just feels… absent; more of a lofty goal than a reality.

For this reason, each week I’ll explore an adjective of freedom. This week I’m focusing on the thought that freedom starts in the mind. My enslaved ancestors were still free to daydream. They were free in spirit. In their mind, they aspired to transcend the physical limitations of their environment. Had this not been true, today could look a lot different.

I posit that names like Idlebird and Freeman were not just about enslavement. They represented a state of mind…a free state of mind. A place that is sacred because autonomy, agency, and promise dwell there. That place is magical and cannot be taken away from any person.

Questions to consider this week abound. A few I’m contemplating are:

  • Are there circumstances that are limiting my growth?
  • Am I shackled to a toxic relationship?
  • What thought patterns are preventing me from liberating my loved ones and myself?

I’m acutely aware that as a Black woman my perception of freedom has always been colored by my people’s history. It’s limited by circumstances such as political, economic, or even this pandemic, all of which are beyond my control. The very acknowledgment that I cannot do what I want, when I want is, to me, there antithesis to being free. But yet, when I close my eyes and dare to seek the comfort of my mind, of solitude, of connectedness, it is when I feel the most free.

TSC 1: What does it mean to be a sister?

What is sisterhood? IMG_5161

My younger sister and I would most likely not be friends if we were not sisters born 19 months apart to the same parents. Don’t get me wrong; she’s funny, intelligent, a good dancer, and I love her, but our circles don’t overlap. When I think of our personalities, interests, and things of the like we are more opposite than mirrors of each other; we do have some shared tastes, probably a result of living in the same household. Admittedly, I have not always been the best big sister to her but I love her unconditionally. If someone else did something to cause her grief, distress, or harm, she’d have no greater defender.

“I don’t believe an accident of birth makes people sisters or brothers. It makes them siblings, gives them mutuality of parentage. Sisterhood and brotherhood is a condition people have to work at.” Maya Angelou

This sisterhood–as a condition–is where it is at!  We all feel this way about some real down-ass women that we are not related to at all. After nearly 4 decades of sibling-hood AND sisterhood with my little sister — a point of blissful agreement — we cheerfully recognize that we both have sisters other than each other. The bonds we have with each other are solid and true, as are the bonds that we have formed with other sisters. There are blessed gatherings or events were a few or many of these sisters from other misters get to mix. These good times are special and the good times amplified because our sisterhood has been amplified.

Lessons have been learned–some hard, some easy. My sister and I are better sisters to each other because of our sisterhood with other sisters. Sisterhood-true sisterhood-squeezes out pettiness, jealousy, and put-downs. It’s just not what we do.

This is the essence of sisterhood to me. That unconditional care and support that we give each other in the face of what the world dishes out.  Now, check it. Sisterhood is spelled with the letters S-I-S, not C-I-S. This is so nice that it worked out this way. I must embrace all that display, hone, and represent the infinitesimal expressions of the divine feminine self. So much beauty to behold, admire, and emulate. YASS!

I think about the state of sisterhood because of the pair of sisters above, my daughters. They have 11 years between them and soon, Big Sister will be in college. I want their relationship of mutual love and as much respect a 6 year old can muster to grow and not diminish when proximity does.

This little DIY blog is a place where all sisters and lovers of sisters can meet, share, shout-out, and be welcomed. Thank you for growing my sisterhood. I look forward to getting to know you