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Cathy’s Cross

We all have our crosses to bear and I’ve borne mine in silence for too many years. To a select few, I’ve spoken of the depression that has afflicted me for so long and how it has affected not only the way I live but the way others close to me have had to learn to deal with me in my depressive state. It has been the burden on my back— the weight that has pulled me down into a hole out of which many times I chose not to climb. 

But slowly, by allowing myself to be led into the light to experience a positive mindset as a result of forming habits that have proved beneficial, I was able to slowly climb out of the dark hole that had been so familiar and almost comfortable, leaving my cross behind as my determination became stronger. 

Please allow me to share my story in a new blogging platform where I reflect on how I was able to use uplifting ideas, positive quotes, and popular expressions to help me out of the hole that tried to bury me. Take this journey with me. Maybe you can find some solace in whatever it is that has also kept you underground. You don’t have to stay there!

Instead,  use your burdens— your cross— in a way that will help you climb out of that hole. Carry your cross above your head in a stance of triumph. We can get through this depression together. 

Visit my new blog website for inspiration at www.cathyscross.wordpress.com

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Blog Reset

Recently, I came to the realization that I no longer want to continue my marriage blog. It’s been quite some time since I wrote a blog post that actually has something to do with me being a newlywed. My last few posts have been about my parents, my struggles with endometriosis, and my fur baby Roxie. While the ideas for these posts came to me as a newlywed, their contents have nothing to do with the topic of navigating a new marriage. 

When I became engaged, I knew I was going to end my bachelorette blog, and I did that with great satisfaction. My very last bachelorette post was a reflection of my wedding day, complete with pictures that captured—in my opinion—the most perfect day. After I was married, one of my cousins and my sister encouraged me to start a blog about being a newlywed. That made sense and was completely logical, not to mention a fun idea.

Although I liked some of the posts I had written through this new lens, I later struggled with finding new things to write about that I was willing to share. There are some things that happen within a marriage that others—much less strangers—don’t need to know about. I found myself holding back because I didn’t want to reveal certain aspects of my private life with Dan despite the possibility that they could have been great posts. And while it can be argued that it’s justifiable to include anything I do as a married woman in a marriage blog, it doesn’t really show consistency. Is this a blog about the memory of my parents? What about how I’m dealing with endometriosis? Or is it about the new addition of a puppy? I was all over the place!

What I have learned recently is that if one were to create a blog, one needs to understand what niche the blog would fall under. That’s how you find your audience. The audience for my bachelorette blog was unmistakable: single women in their 20s, 30s and 40s who were perhaps tired of dating or who wished to be married. Who is my audience for my marriage blog? Yes, newlyweds mostly but really all married women. But don’t I alienate some of my audience when I start going on about endometriosis and my puppy? Perhaps not, because my endometriosis can be someone else’s diabetes and my puppy can be another couple’s first child. But each week, I stress myself out in trying to think of something to write about my new marriage that will resonate with my readers. And each week, I find myself once again disappointed in myself for not coming up with a fresh idea that I am willing to share. The question then becomes: Why am I doing this to myself?

It has taken me several months to realize that my heart hasn’t been in this marriage blog. I will no longer put any more pressure on myself to think of something to write about that concerns being a newlywed. When a topic powerful enough comes along and nags me to share it with my audience, I will most certainly follow that muse and transform that idea into words. Until then, I’m working on creating a new blogging platform where I will discuss ideas that have resonated with me, helping me to keep a positive perspective on life despite my depression. It’s all about my desire to keep a positive mindset to achieve my own form of happiness.

Again, I will continue writing about my marriage when an idea is compelling enough, but I will not expend any more energy in putting that kind of burden on myself. I am actually excited about my new blog idea because I truly believe that not only can it help others who may struggle with depression, but it will also help me keep an attitude of optimism, which will undoubtedly help me in other areas of my life. Let’s see what happens! 

Does this resonate with you? Please leave a comment about your own struggles with your creative works! I’d love to hear from you!

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A Posthumous Lesson from My Father

Unlike my Mother’s Day post over a month ago, which emanated from me like words and phrases desperate to come out, I struggled with writing a post for Father’s Day. I know I wanted to pay tribute to my father but everything I started to write about him just did not seem to grab me or even motivate me enough to finish. I believe that my writer’s block was a result of my feeling the pressure of having a post ready in time for Father’s Day. And once I took the deadline off the table, I was able to write something that was finally worth my father’s memory. 

My father was a quiet man whose tranquil disposition was unlike any other man’s I had ever known. I now know that my father was an introvert—someone who preferred to keep company with himself and was always ready to go home from a family function long before anyone else was ready to. (In that respect, I am very much like my father for I struggled with my need to seek solitude during social events long before I even knew I was an introvert.) My father also had a thoughtful and pensive way about him—always thinking about the reasons why people behaved the ways in which they did.

I was always so proud of my father. He was handsome, hilarious (our very own introverted comedian with a dry sense of humor!), a good cook and had (what I thought was) such a cool job. Dad was a New York City cab driver and it delighted me to think of all the interesting people who must have entered his cab on a consistent basis. However, it wasn’t until I learned– well into my adulthood– that my father had been more than just a cab driver. He had owned not one, but two medallions (permits issued by a government agency to operate a taxicab), one of which he leased out. Not only did he work for no one other than himself but he also maintained a passive income from the medallion he leased out. My respect for the man, and the pride I felt for him being my father grew exponentially when I truly understood the significance of what that meant.

Born and raised in Haiti with minimal education, he migrated to the United States and, with very limited English, was able to find a way to earn money on his own terms. If a small, quiet man from Haiti could migrate to another country, and without mastering the language, successfully provide for his family, then, being his daughter, what can I possibly achieve for myself? Yes, of course, both my parents worked together in financial and emotional support of one another as they partnered together in raising us and sending us to very good schools. However the question still remains: with immigrant parents working so hard to elevate their situations despite their limitations as immigrants, what greatness can I accomplish for myself?

I remember one day, years after my sister and I graduated from college and we were working but not really making a whole lot of money, my father expressed to us that he felt that if someone was born– and went to school– in America, then they should be more financially abundant. I have to admit that was the only time I had ever felt insulted and offended by my father. And I only felt that way because deep down inside of me, I quietly agreed with him. It wasn’t until some years after he passed away that I was able to acknowledge the power of his statement.

My father knew and understood that there were countless opportunities afforded to everyone in America. My sister and I were born, raised and educated in America, yet we were only surviving in our chosen industries and not thriving. It made me realize how important it is to look to our elders to really appreciate how much they managed to achieve in a world that did not have all of the technological opportunities we have today. But more significant is the fact that many immigrants had to leave all that they knew behind, learn a new language and culture and a new way of being while facing discrimination and being overlooked for the basic necessities we take for granted today. If my father was able to forge his way in America to leave a legacy for his children, then how dare I not strive to better myself in a greater way? If his experience has taught me anything, it is that I can and must thrive. And I will– in his honor.

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A Mother’s Love

This year, Mother’s Day is weighing heavily on my mind and in my heart. There is so much to say but it’s not my intention to make this a dismal or over-emotional post. Yet what I had to say kept invading my thoughts, pestering me until I finally wrote it all down in words. 

MY FRIEND. I would first like to dedicate this post to a dear friend of mine whose mother passed away just a few days ago.  To have this happen just before Mother’s Day must be heart wrenching. As my friend recounted the story of what happened, I desperately held my tears back in an attempt to remain strong for her. I didn’t need to be the one between the two of us to break down. And then I thought, why am I even crying right now? Yes, I met my friend’s mother on several occasions but I never really spoke with her. Then I understood that it was my sadness for my friend and what she must be going through that prompted those unwanted tears. She was hurting and so therefore, I was too. With love and support from her friends and family, including her own son, this Mother’s Day will be not be spent in sadness, but in gratitude for what she had and continues to have.

MY MOTHER. For the last few days, I have been reflecting on what it means that my mother is still with us in this world. Or is she? Is she simply an empty vessel in a nursing home bed, lost to whatever it is that has replaced her consciousness as a result of this ugly disease called Alzheimer’s? Or is she still somewhere in there, holding on to memories of the good times we shared with her, not wanting to let go because that’s all she has in her life now? I miss my mother terribly and I wish I could have just one day when she is lucid because I want to tell her so badly about Dan and Roxie and to tell her about my writing and my students. I know in my heart she would be so pleased and so proud. I just want to share with her again. 

MYSELF. Lastly,  I think about my own flirtations with motherhood each time I embrace my puppy Roxie. Each time we lock eyes and I seem to be the center of her world makes me feel just a little like what I think a mother must feel with her own offspring.  I am in no way implying that caring for a dog is the same as caring for human life. But having and loving Roxie put a sort of selfless love in my heart that makes me feel like I am a better human being because of it. I call her my little baby and I truly feel like she is. She needs my protection, my nurturing and my love and I am so happy to be the one to provide all of that for her.

I would like to end this post with a loving recognition to those who have lost their mothers and those who never knew their mothers. I would especially like to acknowledge all mothers, not discounting stepmothers, childless mothers, mother figures, and mothers of fur babies. They truly deserve recognition on a daily basis. Life would never be complete without these people in our lives.  💖

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A Hopeful Milestone

Okay, so I haven’t had any more really interesting stories to come out of my meal preparations for my endo diet, which is why I have been silent for some time. But I have been eating at least one meal from the book on a daily basis and am now proudly incorporating some of the ingredients into my own concoctions. I am now understanding how some of the ingredients work to reduce the amount of inflammation that occurs in my body as a result of the endometriosis that has plagued me for so long. Last month was a huge milestone in terms of the pain that usually keeps me bedridden. Besides the slight discomfort that I continually experience, I was fine! The bloating that was a regular nuisance was not even an issue; I was able to stand up straight when I walked; and I wasn’t bedridden! I was so excited!! There was finally hope!! But it wasn’t just the food that I changed that aided in this milestone. It was also my relationship with food as well as all the other things I feed my mouth.

FOOD: As mentioned earlier, I continue to incorporate at least one endo meal in my daily diet and add some key ingredients in my other meals. But I have to admit that I have been slacking. There are some meals that Dan is not so fond of so I try not to make them as often. Sometimes I feel like I don’t want to burden him with my endo mission, especially if the food does not agree with him. My sister has suggested that perhaps he and I cook our own meals for a month so that I can focus completely on the endo diet book that I am following. That’s not a bad idea–why have I not approached him with this idea yet?  🤪

DRINK: I’m not a heavy drinker but I do enjoy an occasional shot of Café Patron or Goldschlager (or Anisette or Amaretto or Blackberry Brandy 🤩) while I prepare my dinner. But all of these liqueurs are very sweet and therefore work against what I’m trying to do for myself. According to endometriosisnews.com, “[s]ugar causes the body to release more of an inflammatory chemical called prostaglandin 2 and actually blocks the anti-inflammatory ones! Inflammation, especially chronic inflammation, causes heightened pain, which is, of course, something we want to reduce.” So while I’ve been eating more foods with anti-inflammatory ingredients, the sugar that I have been inhaling from my drinks and snacks and candy have been cancelling it out! In the last few weeks, I have cut down on my alcohol intake, so, as an experiment, I have decided to make April my dry month! I guess I should cut down on my snacking too… 😕

SNACKS. Though I know my snacks should involve food with natural sugar like fruits, there’s something inside of me that refuses to come to terms with that! I buy fruit only to have it spoil in the fridge. And it’s not like I have anything against fruit. I love apples and pears. Why not consume those as snacks? I only have bananas if they are in my morning shake; and I’ll only include blueberries if there are no more bananas. But if someone offered me a blueberry pie or banana flavored pudding or strawberry candy, I’d have it in a second! I can’t get enough of sugar! However, I am glad to report that for the last few weeks, I have consumed less sugar than I do on any given occasion. I am very aware of my addiction and I’m trying ever so slowly to keep my desires at bay when I am faced with the candy section at the pharmacy or supermarket. 😶

VITAMINS and MINERALS: I did a quick search for what kinds of vitamins and minerals I should be taking as someone who suffers with endometriosis. In my research, I found that primrose oil and magnesium should help block inflammation and endometriosis pain respectively. I have been taking those daily for about a month now. Turmeric should also help with inflammation; while I have it in powdered form in my cabinet, I will also be purchasing it in pill form. If I am not getting enough of the anti-inflammatory ingredients from my food, then it is up to me to invest in supplements that will help with my condition.

EXERCISE: Many years ago, I came to understand how important daily exercise is for the body. It’s the reason why I was able to survive so many months with an undetected collapsed lung. While I continue to exercise daily, these days I’ve added something extra to my morning routine. I have the privilege of spending quality time every morning for about 20 to 25 minutes with my puppy Roxie. These are short walks but yes, I do consider that time every morning to be a part of my daily exercise routine. And when Dan can’t, I walk her at various times during the day and evening. But is my routine really enough? Perhaps I should start looking into exercises that are targeted specifically to women who are suffering with endometriosis. Is there such a thing? I’ll let you know in about a month…

So there you have it. My first milestone has lead me to rethink everything that I need to do to continue to feel better. I’ve never had to think so much about my food intake before and for that, I suppose I have been privileged. But this new approach to my health is a little daunting but also rewarding. I’ll definitely keep you posted with how I am doing in the coming weeks. Stay tuned! More milestones to come!  🙃

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The Fish Pie That Wasn’t

Immediately after my half-hour workout during a late November evening, I step into the kitchen to start prepping for the Golden Hour Fish Pie, my next endo meal from the endometriosis diet book I had purchased about a month before. The onions, leeks, celery and cauliflower are already diced and chopped. The carrots are boiling on the stove. The garlic powder, sea salt, black pepper, parsley and tarragon are already measured and separated in small bowls. And although the recipe calls for one pound of skinless cod filets, I try to make do with the cod steak with bone I had accidentally purchased. No big deal.

I remove the steak from the packaging and leave the packaging on the counter, placing the steak on a white cutting board. As I begin to cut through it, my eye happens to fall on something left in the package. It looks like a broken piece of cooked angel hair pasta—a very small, very thin curly piece. Probably a small piece from the cod itself that manages to break itself away from the fish. I don’t pay any mind to it. I resume the cutting of the cod steak. In my mind, I tell myself that next time, I will not make the mistake of buying the wrong kind of fish because I’m growing tired of cutting. As I check on the carrots that are boiling on the stove, I happen to glance over at the packaging yet again. The small string of cooked angel hair pasta has moved. How? I move my eyes closer to it. Yoooo!!!! It’s still moving!!!! 😨

That’s not some piece of the fish left over…it’s a damn worm!!!! 😖 My stomach turns; I’m suddenly really grossed out. Should I throw the fish away? No! I just bought it. It’s not like it’s been sitting in my fridge creating nasty worms! Besides, it’s only one little worm and I have already started preparing the meal. The fish will be cooked, so won’t all of the germs from the worm be killed in the hot oven? Yes, I do admit that I immediately make that decision to use the cod anyway. Judge me how you will—I am not throwing this expensive fish in the garbage over one tiny worm! Instead, I throw the packaging away with a quickness, as if that will erase the image of the moving worm from my mind. After rigorously cleaning off the counter in disgust, I continue the food preparation in my stubborn determination to see this endo meal through.

At this point, I carefully inspect the cod steak, making sure there are no other critters hiding in its crevices. After I am satisfied with the results of my inspection, I resume to cutting the steak until it’s all in pieces. I pour the onions, leeks and celery into the hot pan and sauté them for five minutes. Just as I’m about to transfer the cod steak into the pan, I detect something else. Against the white cutting board, it is very apparent that I am not just imagining things.  Another worm?! REALLY?? WHY?? HOW?? Ugh! 🤢 🤮This, I cannot ignore! What do I do? I’ve already started the meal and I need the fish to complete it! I need help with this! I call in my reinforcement: Dan.

He steps into the kitchen, his eyes studying the chopped-up fish. I show him my discovery. He extends his arm out and pushes me away, as if protecting me from any harm this tiny little worm could cause. He takes the cutting board, opens the lid to the trash can and without saying a word, dumps all of the fish into the can! Okay! I guess that solves that problem. As Dan removes the trash bag to throw it away in the building’s trash compactor, I am left with a sense of humorous defeat and a ridiculous notion that something mysterious is out to sabotage my healthy diet attempt. Again, I desperately disinfect my food prep area– as well as the cutting board– in an effort to clean away the memory of what has just happened before I continue. I shake off my disappointment in my realization that I still need to finish this meal with something.

I search the refrigerator for something to replace the fish with. Look, it’s called Golden Hour Fish Pie but all that I have left that’s not frozen is some ground chicken. It’ll have to do! I take the raw ground chicken and pour it onto the sautéed vegetables. I finish following the complex recipe (complete with using a food processor to create a sauce with the broth formed from the sautéed mixture and chicken) until I am able to pour the entire concoction into a baking dish, topping it off with the boiled carrots that are now all mashed up. Not having a clue what the combination will taste like because I have never made such a pie, I hope for the best as I place the baking dish into the oven.

Twenty five minutes later, the sweet aroma coming from the kitchen fills the apartment. I am so curious about how this dish has turned out. I remove it from the oven when it is time and marvel at how bright the mashed carrots are on top of the pie mixture. I dig into it with a large serving spoon and pour a serving for Dan and myself on separate plates. What I bite into is a surprisingly delicious mixture of spices, vegetables and ground chicken. As there are several different ingredients in this medley, I cannot tell which ingredient is the dominant flavor. And being someone who is not yet a master at writing about the taste of savory foods, I’m afraid my description of this meal is rather lacking. But both Dan and I are pleasantly surprised at the successful outcome of the last minute replacement of a major ingredient. Not exactly sure what this pie is supposed to taste like with fish but at this point, I really don’t care. My dinner is not ruined! Golden Hour Fish Chicken Pie: another outstanding endo dish! 😋🤤

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Why Didn’t I Just Ask?

It was a late Sunday afternoon in November and I had spent the day frustratingly grading plagiarized responses to a comprehension question I assigned to my 7th graders the week before. I was supposed to start cooking the first dish from the endometriosis diet book I purchased a few weeks before but phone calls to parents seemed to take precedence. By the time I was done with just one class set, it was 5 o’clock in the afternoon and I had not even started to think about dinner, let alone the Moroccan Turkey and Sweet Potato Breakfast Bake, the first dish in the endo plan. According to the book, I had to cook this on Sunday and have it for breakfast for the next four days. Okay! I was finally (though a bit hesitantly) ready to start.

Working so hard to get my students to understand what to do only to find that they had plagiarized left me feeling despondent. I made the mistake of starting to prepare for the meal before elevating my mood. I gathered all the spices together first because that part seemed the easiest. I had my ground turkey defrosted and ready to go. The collard greens seemed to be a lot but they were ready too. I had to chop an onion and an apple, which was no problem. But when it came to chopping the sweet potato, that’s when my emotions started to run away with me. Trying to force the blade of the knife through the sweet potato took a bit of effort. At times, I was afraid that I was going to hurt myself. I looked at the time and noticed that I had already been preparing the meal for almost an hour but the book said the prep time was supposed to be only 10 minutes. What was I doing wrong?!

I looked over at Dan, who was enjoying a program on TV. Did he not realize that I had been in the kitchen for an hour already and that I was not yet done? Why didn’t he offer to help me? Could he not see that I was having a hard time with the sweet potatoes? An irrational anger swept over me as I transferred my frustration with my students and my feelings of exasperation over the food prep onto an innocent husband who was giving me the space to do what I needed for a healthier me. The longer I spent cutting the unbelievably stubborn potatoes, the angrier I grew and the more I felt like crying. All sorts of thoughts ran through my head. If Dan truly cared about me, he’d ask me if he could help. He’d ask me if I was all right in the kitchen. He’d ask me what I was up to. Something!

“What are you doing in there, little girl?” he cheerily asked me at some point. I don’t even remember how I responded to that but it made me realize how silly I was in allowing myself to be wrapped up in all of these emotions I could have squashed if only I had voiced them. Though I knew I was overreacting, I somehow could not let go of the feelings. I had finally finished chopping the sweet potatoes, mixed all the ingredients according to the recipe, poured the mixture into the baking dish and carefully placed it in the oven for 45 minutes. The entire process took over two hours, with the time approaching 8:30pm!

With my lower back irritating me due to the length of time I was on my feet, I sat on the couch to finally relax. By this time, Dan had already retreated to the bedroom and I was still feeling emotional so I didn’t join him. Instead, I played a few games on my cell phone to help myself unwind. Noticing that I had been quiet all evening, Dan came into the living room and asked me if I was alright. I couldn’t keep the tears from falling. I wept and told him that I had been upset because he didn’t ask me if I needed any help during the entire time I was preparing the meal. He did indeed feel terrible and told me, “I would’ve helped you if you asked!” And I knew he would have, so why didn’t I ask? I realized that I had wanted him to ask me on his own. I wanted him to see on his own that I may have needed help and for him to offer it without my having to say anything. To me, that was what a caring husband was supposed to do. But a wife should understand who her husband is. Dan will not always see on his own when I am in distress, but he will always help me if I ask for it. I learned a valuable lesson because of the endo diet, specifically the Moroccan Turkey and Sweet Potato Breakfast Bake, which I now simply refer to as the turkey bake.

So how did the dish turn out? OH. MY. GOODNESS. It was absolutely delicious! With natural sweetness from the sweet potatoes, apples and raisins mixing perfectly with the texture of the ground turkey and the richness of the the spices, a delightful combination of flavor exploded in my mouth with every bite. If all of the recipes in the book were this delectable, I was going to enjoy making myself healthier for the next few weeks. Yes, the process was a long one and was exacerbated by my already bitter feelings about my students, but I was excited and more determined than ever.

(Oh! How did I handle my students’ plagiarized paragraphs, you ask? I didn’t! I decided not to grade them at all and I simply replaced the assignment with another one I knew they could not plagiarize! Done!)

The savory and satisfying Moroccan Turkey and Sweet Potato Breakfast Bake.

Stay tuned for my next story revolving around my undertaking of this new endo diet!

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How I’m Taking Back My Health

When my medical insurance refused to cover a new medication that would dramatically help to relieve my ongoing symptoms from endometriosis, the doctor’s office filled out all the necessary paperwork needed for me to get the medication for free for an entire year. To say I was thankful and relieved didn’t come close to what I truly felt. I could finally go to work during my periods! I could stand upright and actually walk from one room to the next without having to remain in a bent over position. I didn’t have to be confined to my bed, suffering with a swollen belly, a sore abdomen and pain in my lungs each time I took in a deep breath. It was amazing to finally experience some normalcy with my monthly cycle!

But my year of the free medication was over and, for some reason, none of my doctors wished to even prescribe the medication to me again! Talking to the doctors, calling my healthcare provider, and speaking directly to the company that makes the medication were all so frustrating, discouraging and ineffective. I grew angrier by the minute, realizing that in my case, having medical insurance meant absolutely nothing. Because the medication was new and so expensive, my medical insurance didn’t want to have anything to do with it, despite the fact that when I was on it, my condition improved. In fact, it truly dramatically improved my daily activities and my quality of life!

That’s when I decided to take matters into my own hands.

There had to be a way I could naturally combat this affliction that has been tormenting me for so many years. Did I want to be on a medication for the rest of my life for a condition that could possibly be treated with a healthier diet? I started my research. What foods should I stay away from? Which vitamins could help relieve my symptoms? I then searched for books that were geared towards incorporating a healthier lifestyle through diet for the treatment of endometriosis. I found several books on Amazon but only one stood out to me based on customers’ reviews.

I ordered The 4-Week Endometriosis Diet Plan by Katie Edmonds, NTC. The book explains what endometriosis is and its connection to nutrition. It includes over 70 recipes that are rich in vegetables, healing spices, healthy fats, and wild, pastured, or grass-fed meats. I was so excited to start off on a journey where I focused on my food with an intention to not just satisfy my hunger, but to quiet the affliction that had recently taken a turn for the worse. Perhaps it was a blessing that my insurance wouldn’t accept the medication. I never much paid attention to some of the foods I ate because I never considered it an issue. But learning about how some of the foods recommended in the book are meant to help heal and nurture the body had me believing in the power of making healthier decisions.

Here, I will be chronicling my healthy eating journey and the way it makes me feel. I’ll be observing Dan’s level of patience with my new venture and how it is also affecting him. And with the support of my twin sister, I vow to make this my success story. Using my blog to record my experience through this will certainly hold me accountable.

I think this is a big and important step for me in taking charge of my symptoms and my overall health. I am so excited to be sharing my journey and my results with you!

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Roxie’s First Holiday

Roxie with her new best friend, Lamb Chop

Any new thing introduced into the normalcy of life takes a certain amount of adjustment. We’ve had to adjust to Roxie’s presence just as much as she has had to adjust to her new living environment and the two humans who now feed and play with her. And oh yes, the discipline. Her playful bites that actually really hurt, the chewing on shoes despite our protests, and the accidental bladder and bowel releases in the apartment are what we had to contend with during the past three weeks that Roxie has been with us. But in the middle of the inevitable chaos, there has been the charm of watching her just being herself.

We thought we’d have to fight to keep her away from the Christmas tree but she has maintained her distance for the most part. We thought the water from the base of the tree would be a problem for her, but she’s aimed for it only a couple of times and all we had to do was redirect her attention. And I thought it would be so easy to throw some adorable doggie clothes on her (i.e. a Santa hat and scarf) for her very own fashion shoot, but she absolutely refuses to keep any clothes on! (I did manage to take a few cute pictures before she shook the hat off of her head.)

Nevertheless, this holiday was made extra memorable and special because of Roxie’s presence in our lives. Coming into the New Year with her has given us such a warm and delightful perception of what it means to be a family. I feel that she has truly been our blessing.

Follow Roxie on Instagram: loving.roxie

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Loving Roxie

Meet Roxie Jean Tighe!

Dan and I stepped out of the car in Newark, Delaware. I introduced myself to the breeder while Dan recorded a short Facebook live video announcing our arrival. We made small talk before the breeder led us inside of his house where we heard the adorable sound of tiny paws before a pack of miniature schnauzers welcomed us with their cute little whimpering cries. That’s when I spotted our little one among all the other minis running around and tripping over each other. Despite my long time belief that no matter how well you cleaned an animal, it was always dirty, I held Roxie close to my body when Dan handed her to me. And all the feelings— the love, the anticipation, the excitement— it all felt perfectly right. She was ours and we were going to take her home.

The breeder showed us how to hold her where she would not squirm or resist. I held her for quite some time before putting her back down. She immediately got lost amid the little bodies prancing excitedly around the room. But as I was talking to the breeder, Roxie ever so sweetly came back to my feet and nudged me on my left leg. Did the sweet little thing know that I was her fur mama? My heart was filled! I picked her up and exclaimed to her how much I loved her.

We took a few pictures with her, and the breeder gave us some information about her vaccinations, her food and other necessities. As we prepared to take her home, I placed her on my lap and there she stayed for the entire ride, as sweet and obedient as one can possibly imagine. For all she knew, she was going for an interesting adventure out in a moving box and she would be back with her schnauzer mates in just a few short moments. But that would not be the case. She was coming home to complete a family. Roxie Jean Tighe was coming home to be loved by us.

Follow Roxie on Instagram as she settles in with her new family! @loving.roxie

♥️♥️♥️

Settling comfortably in her crate, her safe space.
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A Puppy for the Holidays!!

I may never know what it’s like to have a baby grow inside my belly. But right now I know what it’s like to have love grow inside my heart. I’m fascinated by the feelings I have for this tiny being. It’s amazing how much I want to hold the little creature and pour all of my love into her. How is it that pregnant women are able to cope with having to wait nine whole months to finally meet their little creations when two months of waiting for my fur baby seems like an eternity to me?

From the moment Dan and I saw her picture two months ago, I knew that she was ours. I remember my exact words: “She’s perfect.”  I fell in love with her when I saw her tiny body hanging limp inside the hand of the breeder. She is a precious miniature schnauzer whose black and white coat has gone from magnificently smooth to adorably shaggy. Every couple of weeks, Dan requests a picture from the breeder and those pictures have made us ever more excited about her upcoming arrival. We’ve searched through lists of dog names on Google for the perfect name to match our little one and have dwindled it down to these possible names: Lulu, Gypsie, and Roxie. Though we haven’t officially chosen a name yet, Roxie is the name I’ve decided to call her in the interim as an alternative to referring to her as simply “the dog”.

Yes,  Dan and I have been counting the days until we get to meet our little Roxie on the 12th of this month—-now less than 7 days away. Every day we imagine what our new life with her will be like: hard work, a lot of walks, sleepless nights, days of training her, and so much more. I’m looking forward to every second of it. And it truly warms my heart to see Dan’s excitement in his taking charge of all the supplies we’ll need for little Roxie: a huge bag of dog food and some canned food, a collar and a leash, food and water bowls, bright colored toys, a crate, a soft bed, and the list goes on. But also in his excitement lies what Dan describes as a “free-floating anxiety that I can’t attach to anything” specific. This restlessness has kept him awake at night as we get closer to her arrival date. Perhaps what Dan is experiencing is an anxiety that an expectant father might feel. 

But despite the jitters, we are both unbelievably excited about little Roxie completing our family in time for the holidays. I’m looking forward to her curiosity about the Christmas tree and dressing her up in a doggie Santa hat. I’m looking forward to learning how to train her and simply basking in the individual that we will come to love.  This is the perfect ending to a year that saw a lot of fear, seclusion and grief.  We all started the year with a hope that 2020 will be a memorable one and now Dan and I are ending it with a truly great gift that will surely make our holiday a momentous occasion. 

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A New Addition for the Holiday?

For a very long time now, Dan has consistently expressed his interest in having a dog. And for just as long, I have maintained my deepest disapproval of the idea. For those of you who followed my bachelorette blog, you will know that I was very opposed to having a dog when Dan and I were dating (www.thereluctantbachelorette.com/the-irony-that-is-cooper/). In my mind, Dan wanting a dog was akin to me wanting a child. They both require time, commitment, work, money, discipline, patience, and so much more. And as childish as it may sound, I felt that if I could not have my child, then Dan was not getting a dog. It almost sounds like a punishment against him but it was just the way my mind made sense of the whole situation at the time.

After we got married, every so often, Dan continued to mention the idea of us getting a dog. Still dealing with the pain of being unable to have my own child, I always shot the idea down. I had considered adoption and Dan and I even went to a few seminars to learn more about the adoption process but the thought of adoption never felt right for us. As a writer, I tried very hard to put into words why adoption was something I no longer wanted to consider, yet the words never came. So when having my own child was not possible and adoption was off the table, I mourned silently and alone.

It was hard for me to talk about it with Dan because, for as long as I have known him, his heart was never really into having children anyway. His heart had always been into loving and taking care of a dog. Bringing a dog into our lives would be just like bringing a baby into our lives in the sense that it would need constant attention, protection, and love. I just wasn’t ready for that if it was not going to be a baby.

Very, very slowly, I softened on the idea. And I was very aware of it while it was happening. I softened a bit each time I saw a dog and its owner walking around the neighborhood. I softened a bit more when I befriended an adorable dog named Reed who couldn’t decide whether he should listen to his owner commanding him to “stay” or come greet me. I even softened some more each time I saw a cute puppy or dog expressing some sort of disdain for me through its persistent bark. I loved asking the same question to those dogs: “What’s the matter? Why are you so mad?”

Then, one day, a friend of mine expressed how happy she was that she and her boyfriend adopted a pair of cats. She looked forward to staying at home just to bond with them and according to her, she couldn’t be happier with her life. Instantly I felt that I wanted that same happiness. That was the exact moment I went from being softened to actually melting. I wanted a pet. If it was just me, I would get another cat because I have always admired their independence, beauty, and grace. But this was something for Dan and me. I wanted us to have something that we could love and take care of together.

And then I did it. I finally told Dan that I was emotionally ready to have a dog.

(To be continued…)

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Unsolicited

I was in the elevator at work one morning with several fellow teachers. One of the teachers just happened to be pregnant with her first child. Another older teacher in the elevator felt the need to tell this pregnant woman that she had to make sure she didn’t neglect her husband when the baby came. The pregnant teacher didn’t ask for this piece of advice; nor did she ever suggest that she was looking for such advice. It may seem innocent enough and the older woman was most likely offering something she felt would be useful but it wasn’t her business! What is it about some people who feel that just because they know a little bit about you they can just come out and say things that are completely inappropriate, insensitive and not of their concern?


When I was engaged, my sister and I were having lunch with a couple of friends. These were not very close friends as we only see them about once a year. But why did one of them feel the need to ask me if I planned on having kids? Again, the question may seem innocent enough but starting a family, as I have come to understand it, is a very private conversation between the people in the relationship. If I had brought it up in conversation, well then that would have been different; the topic would have been open for discussion. But the fact that this was an emotional subject matter for me, I didn’t know how to answer it without it prompting any more painful questions about it. My sister came to the rescue and jokingly said, “She plans on having 12 babies!” And that did it! They continued on with the joke and I quietly listened and smiled until the joke wore itself out and the question was forgotten.


And yes, I have been guilty of the same transgression. Several years ago, one of my close friends had just gotten married to a beautiful woman of another race. Every time I saw my friend, I’d ask him when he and his new wife were going to have a baby. It was my curiosity about what the baby would look like that had me ask the question every time. I didn’t know that they had been trying for months and were so far unsuccessful. I know how painful it is to try to get pregnant, only to end up disappointed. And to have people constantly ask you about it when it is not even their business can very well worsen the pain. I was being very insensitive about something very private and personal that this person and his wife were going through. I only became aware of my thoughtlessness much later when I was going through my own experiences of people unintentionally being tactless.


Just recently, I went to visit my primary care physician for my yearly checkup and to discuss other concerns. Upon noticing that I had gained about seven pounds, she felt it was funny to call me a fatty, insinuating that I was so happy with my new husband that I let myself go. First of all, assuming my weight change is a result of my newly acquired status was extremely offensive to me. Secondly, I know I’m not fat, yet it still didn’t feel very good to hear that word coming from my own doctor to make light of my unwanted weight gain. Why did she think that was okay? I had to remind her that the complications with my medication for endometriosis was the reason why I gained weight despite my daily exercise routine. She seemed sympathetic, however her comment stayed with me.


Covid has caused a sharp decline in social gatherings for most people, including Dan and myself. I am slightly grateful for that. As newlyweds, I think we are susceptible to the personal questions people would feel compelled to bombard us with just because of the expectations society places on newlyweds. And for some reason, people feel that it is okay to ask these questions. One can argue that I may have opened myself up to these questions by writing about my reproductive hardships, my marriage to Dan and about my life with him in my blog. If it’s my blog one wishes to discuss, I have no problems with talking about its content. But I find that most people who are thoughtless don’t even know I have a blog.


By no means am I implying that only married people usually face such callousness. There’s the single girl who gets asked why she doesn’t have a boyfriend yet. The heavy set girl with a medical condition that gets snickered at because she can’t lose weight. The single man who is asked why he has not yet settled down. The childless single woman who is constantly being reminded of her biological clock. The sister of the bride who is asked when it will be her turn to walk down the aisle. The engaged couple who is politely harassed by concerned family and friends about setting a wedding date. When was the last time you might have innocently pressed into someone’s wounds, adding insult to injury?


Let’s try to be a little more sensitive to the issues people may privately be dealing with. Let’s think about how our questions and comments may affect the recipient before we open our mouths. Let’s wait until the topic is first put on the table by the person in question before assuming it is up for discussion. Let’s choose to be considerate of others.

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4 Lessons from the First Year of Marriage

Dan and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary last month with a romantic dinner at a French restaurant in Brooklyn Heights. Just like the day of our wedding, everything was perfect. The food was exquisite, the wine was sweet like my taste buds prefer and the dessert made me forget all about my caloric budget. We exchanged gifts and marveled at what an eventful first year we had together. Our anniversary really got me thinking about all the things we learned about ourselves and each other within only a year’s time. And that’s when I started to think about the lessons I’ve learned about relationships and marriage. I share them with you here.

  1. Couples who work out together stay together. I’m so glad I found someone who is as into fitness as I am. We work out together all the time. Well, not really together.  Every time I’m working out in the living room, he works out in the bedroom. Well, that doesn’t really happen much… anymore. I still work out every day but sometimes he isn’t even able to work out at all…  Hmmm…leisure walking is a workout, right? It is! Yay! Then that’s what we do every morning together—well, not since school started again…   😜
  1. Get used to doing some things yourself so you won’t be such a nag. If your husband has the habit of turning on all the lights in the house even though the sun is shining brightly inside, you don’t have to say anything. Or say your husband decides that he, for some reason, needs ALL of the lights in the apartment on just to get himself a glass of water from the fridge and then retreats back into the bedroom without turning off any of the lights.  What will nagging solve? Simply turn off the lights yourself when he’s left the room, no matter how often this occurs. And if your wife has the habit of leaving her laptop, her purse, her books, her papers, her headphones and her chargers on the living room couch when all you want to do is lay down to enjoy a good book, you don’t have to say anything. No! Just move them all somewhere she wouldn’t like them to be placed (like the floor {I have a thing about putting my belongings on the floor}) and forget about it. She’ll think twice next time about being so inconsiderate! Guaranteed!   👍🏽
This pasta fork was the instrument I used to secretly gain access to one of my favorite snacks!
  1. You alone are responsible for controlling your temptations. I’m not quite sure if my addiction to peanut butter is particularly odd. If there’s no peanut butter in the apartment, I am quite fine and I don’t crave it. But once it enters my home, it becomes my obsession! Upon my request, Dan was kind enough to hide the jar of peanut butter in an effort to help keep me from feeling the guilt I’d have once I’ve started inhaling its contents. And I’m not talking about having it with a cracker or with jelly on bread—why waste my time on that? No, this has gone into the territory of ingesting one-third of a 48 ounce jar literally in one sitting with a spoon, as if it’s ice-cream! When I discovered that the jar was hidden in the cupboard way beyond my reach, like a mischievous child sneaking snacks when she knows she’d be in trouble for it, I developed a strategy to easily get to it without having to use a chair. Whenever Dan was not around, I would use a pasta fork to tactically open the cupboard and then carefully reach it inside to gently push the jar out, quickly catching it as it falls out. I perfected this technique until one day… it wasn’t so perfect. I didn’t know what happened! I must have pushed the full jar too hard or too quickly towards me and before I could catch it, it fell directly onto the bridge of my nose! (Just think about how heavy a full jar of PB is!) I dramatically threw the pasta fork down and desperately caressed my nose as if that would help diminish the excruciating pain that I was in.  I frantically ran from the kitchen to find the closest mirror to investigate the damage, half expecting my nose to swell as quickly as it would in a cartoon. To my surprise, my face looked fine but the pain was unbelievable! It should not have been Dan’s responsibility to help me suppress my temptation. He did what I asked him to but once I found it, I should have either told him about my knowledge of it or controlled my temptation. I learned my lesson!! Thank goodness he wasn’t around to witness the pathetic scene!  😜 
  1. Doing things for each other shows how much you care.  It’s not unusual to find peanut butter on the cabinet doors after Dan has finished putting his usual ingredients into his morning smoothie. Yes it bothers me to find this (why is the peanut butter all over his hands to begin with?) but that’s not why I wipe it away for him. It’s clear that he had every intention to take care of it, but of course his mind is focused on way more important things (like consuming his peanut buttery morning beverage), so he simply forgets- I would too!  Wiping the peanut butter off the cabinets makes me as happy as Mrs. Cleaver herself because I am doing it for him, not because I find it absolutely disgusting (after all, PB is delicious, as I’ve alluded to in my previous paragraph). And he- he does some wonderful things for me too. There was one particular evening when I was so exhausted that I couldn’t bother with my usual bedtime routine of washing my face and brushing my teeth. As I said goodnight to Dan, he asked me if I brushed my teeth. I told him I was too drained. The man got out of bed, went into the bathroom, and took it upon himself to put toothpaste on my toothbrush and waited until I got out of bed to brush my teeth. He didn’t do it because my breath was so stale by the end of that day (nope, not the minty freshness that is my breath). He did it because he cares about my oral hygiene. You see how thoughtful he is?  💕

In all seriousness, aside from our peculiar obsession with peanut butter, I’ve learned that there is a lot of compromise that occurs in a marriage and sometimes you might feel there’s more give than take. But if you fail to look at some of the trivial situations with humor, then those small compromises may later result in resentful feelings about your spouse and the relationship. We really do make it a habit to talk frequently about the things that bother us and we don’t ever go to bed angry. In fact, Dan likes to make me laugh as I attempt to fall asleep by shuffling the blanket over me until it becomes so annoying that I have to yell at him in order for him to stop. Or he likes to place his hand under my pillow, pushing it up in small rapid motions until I’m forced to say something. My laughter is not a result of my annoyance in the least. No, he’s making bedtime fun and that’s what I respond to.  😄

Anyway, if you have a significant other, I hope this post has added some insight into different ways you, too, can make your relationship as smooth and argue-free (well, most of the time, anyway) as my marriage is with Dan. ❤️

During our anniversary dinner
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Summer of Covid, part 2

During the last week of July, when Dan and I realized half the summer was over and we had not done anything notable, Dan suggested we go away for a few days. I agreed that we needed a getaway, and I was desperate to get over my current anxiety (Summer of Covid, part 1), so I was all for it. He booked a hotel for us to stay in Boston for a couple of nights and we were set to visit a museum and take a “Ghosts and Gravestones” walking tour. We were finally doing something!

But on the morning of our trip, Dan dejectedly told me that he was not feeling well enough to go (he was still experiencing symptoms of fatigue and muscle weakness from having Covid). It wasn’t until then that I realized just how much I had been looking forward to our excursion. As I packed my bags the night before our pending road trip, I envisioned us relaxing by the pool. Now, that vision was quickly slipping away. There would be no fun and interesting photos taken during any tour. And it saddened me to know that the summer dress I had packed  for a night out on the town would not be worn– nor would any other outfit for that matter. Dan knew I was disappointed, and with a pained expression in his eyes, he genuinely apologized. While I understood that he had no control over his symptoms, I was still heartbroken inside.

I think Dan was trying to keep a positive outlook when he said, “Thank goodness you’re a homebody.” Yes, I’ve always been more inclined to enjoy my time at home than attend any particular event but I didn’t see it that way when he said it. I felt that statement was completely irrelevant and that it negated my excitement for a necessary getaway. I had been indoors for the first part of the summer, overcoming a most surprising case of social anxiety. I was finally ready to experience the fresh, warm air, feel the hot sun on my skin and enjoy a different setting with my husband. So no, it wasn’t a good thing that I was a homebody. 

I quickly felt an urgency to leave the apartment.  I didn’t want to be home thinking about the trip that didn’t happen; that was just too depressing. Not only was I too upset to just stay home, I suddenly felt claustrophobic, trapped in a space I didn’t know I was starting to resent. Being in the darkened apartment all summer was causing a restlessness inside me, bringing me down with lethargy and a desire to do nothing all day but sit in front of the TV or play mind-numbing games on my cell phone. I was angry for not having pushed myself out of the slump that defined my overall summer disposition. I had no idea what it was actually doing to me until I was faced with the reality and the understanding that I needed to get out.

In an effort to make it up to me, Dan did take me out that evening to a local restaurant where we enjoyed our meals outdoors. It was so lovely to be outside beyond my neighborhood and it reaffirmed my feeling ready to be among people again. I believe it also helped Dan conquer his symptoms of fatigue– if only for a little while until his symptoms would hit him again.

Around the second week of August, Dan had a few days where he was feeling pretty good, so we decided to give it another shot. We drove down to Boston, and spent a couple of nights in a hotel downtown. The following week, we spent two days and one night at a beach club in Oakdale, LI, and spent a day and night out in the Hamptons. Between participating in a couple of amusing and engrossing walking tours, pleasant visits with friends, and relishing the appetizing meals at outdoor restaurants, we still found plenty of time to relax so that Dan would not feel too fatigued. 

Upon reflection, a thought came to mind. Only a few weeks before, I was feeling apprehensive about being in the same space with others after testing positive with the coronavirus, so my feelings of disappointment for not going away– and finally being able to enjoy myself once we did get away– were actually very good signs that my anxiety was over! We’ve since had picnics at the park and enjoyed a few  afternoons at Rockaway Beach. These were not major excursions, but they were so much better than staying indoors, watching the summer pass us by. Yes, I was truly grateful for the little that we had done together. 

Fun times at the park.
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Summer of Covid, part 1

During the last week of July, it suddenly dawned on me that the summer was halfway over and Dan and I had not done anything significant! Every day was spent indoors. I worked on my novel and took some online writing and book publishing classes. Dan worked almost every day preparing for Back2Levittown, his weekly Friday night show on Facebook live; we were both being very productive. But between Dan’s chronic fatigue due to Covid and my anxiety about going outside, we had not done one memorable thing.  

Yes, anxiety. Let me explain.

A week after Dan had tested positive for Covid back in June, my second test came back positive as well. But mine might as well have been a false positive because I didn’t have any symptoms whatsoever. I continued exercising every day with no feelings of fatigue and I never developed any type of fever. I maintained a positive attitude throughout, feeling that I wouldn’t develop any symptoms and that I had somehow beat the virus. Someone from the NYC Test and Trace Corps called me every day to check on my symptoms but my answers were always the same: I felt absolutely fine!

I did quarantine myself for the mandatory two weeks. Most of that time, Dan was away, quarantining himself at a Covid facility, so I was all alone. When I needed them, my sister was sweet enough to bring me groceries and she left them at the door so that we would not be in contact.  

When I was first told that I tested positive for Covid, I was upset that now I was a part of that statistic. I quickly got over that when day after day, I continued to feel good. However, when Dan came back and my quarantine was over, I wasn’t moved at all to finally go outside and experience the summer air in all of its glory. Instead, I felt nervous about going out. This was strange to me because the entire time beforehand, I was certain that I could not and would not be affected by this thing. But now, my thoughts about it became irrational. 

I felt that I might contaminate others just by being in their presence—mask and all. I had self-quarantined for two weeks so I knew I could no longer be contagious; but the thought was still there. I also felt that no matter how responsible I was with a mask and gloves, I would somehow contract the virus again. In my irrational mind, the world outside was a germ infested Petri dish and we were the bacteria unable to resist our attraction to one another. I didn’t want to take a chance in the laundry room in the basement of my building; the thought of going down there somehow frightened me. I also avoided supermarkets altogether. In fact, I was quite content to stay home if it meant that I would not be in contact with anyone. The only time I felt comfortable leaving my apartment was during my morning walks to the park with Dan, which continued as soon as my quarantine was over. Our early morning walks are the perfect opportunity to get some fresh air and exercise without running into so many people. 

As July came to an end, I suddenly realized that the summer was passing us by with nothing to show for it. I saw the second half of the summer going in the same momentum and slowly started warming to the idea of finally getting over my anxiety. I didn’t want the summer to just be the summer of Covid. I wanted to experience more. There was no way that we were the only ones missing out on a memorable summer because of this virus. And I’m sure there were plenty of people doing enjoyable and exciting activities while remaining safe. Why weren’t we a part of that crowd?

I had to remind myself that Dan and I were quite fortunate. There were so many people who spent this summer in hospital beds perhaps not even awake or aware of their unfortunate situation. I thought of the people whose very lives were lost as a result of this horrifying virus. I thought about the loved ones of those who sadly succumbed to this thing. What about their summer plans? Covid ruined a lot of plans and a lot of lives and realizing how fortunate Dan and I are as two people who tested positive, I was ready to make something more of my summer. With that resolve, my anxiety had finally gone away; and the following week, Dan and I were going away ourselves…

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How Corona Invaded Our Marriage

After being painstakingly careful over the last few months regarding where we went, what we brought into our home, and wearing masks and gloves, Dan somehow contracted the coronavirus. Before going in for a routine medical procedure, Dan’s doctor told him he had to take the COVID-19 test. That was on Monday, June 15. On Tuesday, he received the phone call from his doctor with the unfortunate news. But what WASN’T unfortunate was the fact that he didn’t exhibit any of the life-threatening symptoms that we have come to know the disease can cause. There were two symptoms Dan had: extreme fatigue and muscle weakness. We were both thankful that his symptoms weren’t worse.

But now that we knew he tested positive, the question was whether I had it too. So, off to the nearest hospital I went, that very afternoon in order to be tested. And what an unpleasant experience it was! A long swab was inserted into each nostril, deep into the nasal cavity. I squealed in discomfort as the nurse performed the five-second test that had me on my tiptoes, as if that would somehow prevent the swab from going deeper into my nasal area. Approximately 20 hours later, I received the news that I had tested negative for the coronavirus. A part of me was relieved. But I have to admit, another, larger part of me was disappointed. Let me explain.

Both Dan and I were feeling fine, with the exception of Dan’s extreme fatigue. If I had tested positive with no symptoms, then the easy solution would be for us to remain quarantined together for two weeks.

But because I tested negative, Dan was extremely concerned about infecting me with it. I have a preexisting lung condition that made contracting the virus a very scary threat. 

He strongly suggested I go stay with my sister while he quarantined himself in our apartment. But who’s to say my sister didn’t have it herself? She isn’t as fortunate as Dan and I are. Being teachers, we continue receiving our paychecks while working from home. My sister, on the other hand, has to go into work daily, and is in contact with a number of people who may be unknowingly spreading the disease, even while taking the necessary precautions.

As a result, Dan stayed in our bedroom while I continued to do my remote teaching in the living room. We were still about two weeks from the last day of school so I was a bit on edge with the grading of final assessments and revisions and attending staff meetings. But because Dan quarantined himself in the bedroom, he wanted me to cook his food and leave it on a small table outside the bedroom door. I was dumbfounded when I received a text with his order of eggs with salami and toast, butter and coffee. What was happening? Why was I suddenly his waitress? He was physically fine!!! It wasn’t like he was bedridden!! And I had already been exposed to him, so what difference did it make? I sent him a polite reply regarding the amount of pressure I was under with work and asked if we could just switch rooms while he made himself breakfast. His next text pretty much told me that if I would not respect the fact that he was quarantined, then I needed to go to my sister’s place. It was on!!! In the middle of my session with my students, I furiously closed my laptop and started packing my things to leave, out of anger more so than circumstance. As I gathered my clothing and other necessities, Dan stepped into the kitchen to pack some food for me. I said nothing to him. He held the door open for me, and as I exited, he told me he loved me. My response? “Bye.”

I was livid!! I walked out of the apartment building, a bag lady of sorts, with my laptop in its own special case, a tote bag overflowing with my clothes and necessities and the heavy plastic shopping bag Dan filled with salad, fruit, a package of ground turkey and other groceries. I arrived at my sister’s, feeling guilty for barging in on her private space and feeling saddened that Dan and I had argued. A few hours away from Dan and a lonely night in my old bedroom helped me to gain a better perspective of what transpired that afternoon. Although I held on to my belief that if Dan was going to infect me, it would have happened already, I did start to see and understand his mindset.

The man was freaking out. He had just tested positive for a virus that has killed hundreds of thousands of people already- I’m sure there was an incredible amount of anxiety that came with news like that. And because he was not experiencing life-threatening symptoms, I considered him fine. But what I didn’t take into account was the fact that he wasn’t feeling 100% and that’s what mattered. I was afraid that just because he tested positive, he would start believing that he had symptoms, much like a hypochondriac. Whether he imagined the symptoms or not, his extreme fatigue was very real to him and I was discounting his feelings just because he wasn’t on his deathbed. He tried to make me see that as his wife, I should have shown more concern for him and his new situation.

He, in turn, failed to understand that I was no safer at my sister’s place than I was at our apartment. What if I would have remained negative but by going to my sister’s I contracted the virus? Or worse! What if I tested a false negative and then inadvertently infected my sister?! It was irresponsible of him to insist I go to my sister’s and it was even more irresponsible of me to take that chance just because I still had the key to my old apartment. And I also wanted him to understand that his food request felt quite demeaning and inconsiderate at a time when I told him about the tension I was under due to work. Perhaps seeing him walking around seemingly fine moments before he received the news clouded my judgement of the situation, where I simply did not take his diagnosis very seriously. Needless to say, neither one of us let go of what we believed was right.

The very next day, I sent a text to Dan, telling him that I was coming back home, and he did not fight me on it. I stepped off of the elevator to find taped to the door a “welcome home” drawing. I smiled, pulling out my phone to take a picture of it before unlocking the door to go in. We stayed apart. He was by the bedroom door and I was still in the foyer. He sighed before saying, “I’m sorry for the way I behaved.”

“Dan,” I said as I closed my eyes, “I’m so sorry too.” That would have been the moment we hugged it out, but there was no hugging allowed at this time.

The next few days, I was happy to prepare some of his food and place it outside the bedroom door. I gladly slept on the couch in the living room because that meant I could watch TV “in bed”. We marked paths in the apartment where we each would take in order to avoid each other. Whenever he stepped out of the bedroom, we both wore our masks. Each time I collected his dirty dishes, I put on gloves and a mask. By the end of the week, he decided that he was going to stay at a nearby hotel that had become a Covid-19 facility where people who tested positive with very few symptoms could quarantine themselves. And on Saturday afternoon, with his bags packed and his trusted guitar, he left for the facility, where he would stay for the next nine days. I was grateful to him for leaving the comfort of his home just to make sure that I stayed safe.

While quarantining at home since March gave us the opportunity to become closer because we were spending so much time together, one phone call with news of a result caused a temporary rift in our relationship. And it wasn’t just the diagnosis. It was our own beliefs and personalities that allowed the coronavirus to invade our marriage. We both acted impulsively, not giving much thought to the fact that I potentially put myself in danger by going over to my sister’s. When we gave ourselves time to think and consider the situation, we were able to come together to create a solution that worked for the both of us. I think we both came away from this experience understanding that remaining calm in any given situation is key to handling anything that threatens to invade our marriage.

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The Importance of Spousal Support

I’ve always been the type of person who prefers to stay home on any given occasion—a homebody. So, when this new directive to stay home was put upon us as a way to minimize the spread of COVID-19, I was quite fine with it. In fact, I believed it would not be a problem for me. But something changed a couple of weeks ago. 

For those of you who do not know, I am a high school English teacher with five classes of students. When remote learning began almost 4 weeks ago, I would wake up when it was still dark outside to prepare my lessons. Then, for approximately 6 hours straight I would “teach” and grade assignments, not giving myself a proper break or rest period between my classes.  On some days, there were phone and video conferences to attend. By the end of the “school day”, I was mentally exhausted, my eyes were strained, and I found myself always feeling irritable. That was only after 2 weeks of remote teaching! 

It wasn’t until the third week that I realized I was terribly depressed. Every day was all about my lessons, interacting with my students, and grading their work. I stopped communicating with Dan and I stopped taking care of myself, as my weekly hair and nail care regimen fell to the wayside. I stayed in my pajamas all day and ate junk food on a consistent basis. And when I noticed I had gained a little weight despite my daily exercise, I started to feel extremely sorry for myself.

A supportive phone call from my cousins and sister helped me put things in perspective and they gave me very useful tips that I used to balance my workday. But the ongoing support from my husband, I believe, prevented me from having a nervous breakdown. I was doing so much for work, trying to “get ahead” of the never-ending flood of work that teachers are known to have. And now, it felt like I had even more work just to ensure that students did not “disappear” during class. Also feeling overwhelmed with making sure all of my students understood the material I was giving them and finding new ways to convey that information to them, I was doing way too much and Dan saw that. If it wasn’t for his quiet support, I really believe I would have started down a dark path of self-destruction. 

Because Dan does not have a schedule like mine, he promptly started taking care of things around the apartment so that I didn’t have any more to do. He made the bed, prepared our lunch, went to the supermarket, made sure I stayed hydrated and continually reminded me to take breaks and move around once in a while. Even on days when food did not interest me, he made sure I ate a little something. And I was very aware of his support. He never made me feel ridiculous for doing too much, understanding that my way of teaching is very different from his. It wasn’t a discussion, I didn’t tell him to do these things; he just knew to do them. 

After a particularly hard day one afternoon, I told him that I usually watch Disney movies when I’m feeling low. So, he declared that every day from now on, we’ll watch a different Disney movie to unwind, which was a fun addition to our daily routine.

And perhaps once or twice a week, at Dan’s request, I venture outside the apartment to go for a walk with him. I do prefer to stay inside and not bother with the gloves and the mask and the washing of the hands when coming back inside. But I know that it is important to get some fresh air. And I do always feel somehow refreshed on our return.

The past few weeks, more than any other time, I came to learn and understand the power and importance of spousal support. I believe my depression would have worsened within the past couple of weeks if it had not been for the way Dan chose to help me through it. Of course, the feelings of being overwhelmed have not completely disappeared and every once in a while, my situation has me feeling a little distressed. What I do then is think about how fortunate I am that I have my health, my family and friends, and that I am still able to work and get paid during this challenging time. And most of all, I’m thankful for a loving, understanding and supportive partner.

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Love in the Time of Corona

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The coronavirus has undoubtedly planted fear and anxiety into so many people that it’s hard not to bring it up in daily conversation. It has become our greatest enemy, a modern day plague that kicked people into a reality we’ve only read about in fiction or watched in high budget apocalyptic-type films. 

I know of two types of people in this unprecedented time: the people who are overly and somewhat comically anxious, and then the people who feel and believe that as long as we take care of ourselves and maintain a reasonable social distance, we’ll be fine. I’m the latter. But my loving husband Dan—okay, so I know three types of people—is very concerned for our wellbeing. He had heedfully requested I wear a mask to the public school where I work, and is constantly reminding me to wash my hands, especially the moment I get home. He’s keeping himself updated with the news and continues to remind me that, “the coronavirus is a real thing, Cathy.” He’s also mentioned my pre-existing lung condition as a possible health factor. Out of his deep concern for me last weekend he firmly demanded that I not even go in to work on Monday (that was before we got the news that schools would be closed until mid April).

Dan has also considerately taken several trips to Costco and other supermarkets to secure the essentials we’ll need in the forthcoming weeks because “we just don’t know what will happen.” Our freezer and refrigerator are fully stocked with all the proteins and vegetables we’ll need in the coming weeks. Thanks to my sweet and thoughtful husband, our pantry has gotten quite impressive with food staples we know will never spoil.

Dan’s concern for our well being has also humorously resulted in the purchase of more bananas than we can actually consume before they start to over-ripen. “So we’ll just throw it out!” That was his response when I complained about the unused half banana in the fridge he ignored in order to eat a fresh banana in perfect condition.

“Dan!” I replied. “Telling me to throw away a half a banana is like cursing at me!” 

Well, at least he found my hyperbole funny. (Note: I did use some of the over-ripened  bananas the other day to make banana cookies with oats and walnuts, which we thoroughly enjoyed together on the couch as we snuggled like two little lovebirds to watch Netflix.) 

The difference in which Dan and I have reacted to this pandemic was actually made apparent when Dan came home one day this week from the supermarket with a few necessities and a bag of Baked in Brooklyn pita chips. I looked at the bag of chips and, in extreme disappointment said, “What happened to Stacy’s pita chips?” 

“They don’t sell it at Keyfood,” he quickly answered. 

“Yes they do!” I exclaimed. “Dan, that’s where I always buy Stacy’s pita chips!”

He looked at me in disbelief, as if to question why I had the audacity to be picky about chips in the midst of this worldwide uneasiness. 

“Are we really discussing this right now?” he asked.

I quickly realized how childish my concern was but I couldn’t imagine having to consume the dry pita chips that would have to be eaten with hummus in order to find any enjoyment in them rather than the ones that my taste buds crave.

Then he said something to me that was profound. He said, “Cathy, I just want to keep my family safe.” That’s right. This newly married couple that is us does indeed constitute a family and all he wanted to do was to provide it with food and safety. That was comforting. That was love.

So, I let it go. Maybe this was a good thing: I really could use a break from the ingestion of so much junk food anyway. Then, Dan did something that proves that true love in the time of COVID-19 does exist! After work the next day, he stopped by at a supermarket and bought us, among other things, not one, but three bags of Stacy’s pita chips!! 🥰 My hero!!!

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All was right with my world again!

 

I understand that these are trying times and that people’s fear of this deadly virus is real and valid. I’m not trying to minimize the seriousness of this issue. I only wish to provide a bit of humor in its midst. And if you don’t find humor in my little attempt, then at least I tried. And once this blows over, because I truly believe we will get through this with positive results, we can all find something to laugh about in the spike of pregnancies that statistically will occur as is the case in times of crises such as this. 

So let’s do the best we can to not panic and know that we are all doing what we can to help ourselves and each other through this scary pandemic. Reach out to long time friends you’ve lost touch with. Call your loved ones to check in on them. Use FaceTime or some other type of video chat to visually connect with the people you wish you could visit. This is our current reality. And these may be the best ways for us to shower each other with love in the time of corona.