Loneliness and Covid-19

lifestyle, reflection, self love, Uncategorized

Me, before a socially-distanced, masked-up visit with my sister



Let’s face it, the pandemic has unravelled just about any and every social norm there was pre-March 2020. This includes but isn’t limited to attending large gatherings without a care in the world, visiting friends, entertaining overnight guests, traveling and hopping on and off flights, and more. All the things I listed are either non-existent at this point or extremely altered, so much so, that they are virtually unrecognizable from pre-pandemic times.

Our new frontier has brought many folks a deep sense of loneliness. For many of us, we can’t see our friends and family (at least how we want to), we can’t fully celebrate major life events the way we would have wanted to, and  circumstances and situations (quarantining, social distancing, etc.) have just made things very unconventional, to put it mildly — all in the name of slowing the spread of and avoiding Covid-19.

I’m going through it right there with you. My entire work life went online in an instant; my students were completely shocked and I had to put in the extra work to help them adjust and succeed, while many of them were battling ill mental health as a result of the pandemic, dealing with Covid-19 illness and deaths and other matters that caused them to feel lonely. When the pandemic started, my husband and I were in the midst of trying to start a family and boom — I was blessed with a bun in the oven. And just recently, I received a very prestigious journalism award (The Green Eye Shade!) for my work with Teaching Tolerance Magazine. Two very big things I have not been able to properly celebrate because of the pandemic. And with some of my own family and associates, there is discord on how to handle social distancing and everything else virus-related. It’s a doozy.

As I’m spending a lot of time by myself these days and as I’m very conscious about staying safe and healthy (especially with one on the way), I’m learning the best ways (for me) to cope with loneliness during the pandemic. What works for you and what works for me surely aren’t the exact same, but perhaps sharing how I cope can help you figure out how you can stay sane.

  1. I hash out my feelings. For me, this can happen in a few different ways. I love to write and many times, poetry can be my way out of a dark place. So I write and I read what I wrote. Over and over. It’s often my release or my “let me get that off my chest” outlet. Most of the time, even when I write, I talk to someone in my circle, which is comprised of family and close friends. They are the kind of people I can tell my truth to and the kind of people who will listen. I talk about my feelings and they validate them. The recognize that living in a pandemic is odd enough and that working from home while taking on scrupulous measures to stay safe and healthy while pregnant during a pandemic truly takes the cake. But there is a big difference between hashing out my feelings and feeling sorry for myself and I try my best to avoid the latter. My feelings can be messy sometimes, but I let the mess out to deal with. I don’t let it fester in my mind for too long.
  2. I validate my own feelings. Don’t worry, I’m not back-pedaling on the talking to friends and family piece I mentioned in number 1. What I’m saying is I give myself the space needed to feel lonely, isolated, sad or whatever negative emotion may be taking over me. I’m a worker bee at heart but sometimes, a day that was meant to work on my to-do list turns into a day I meditate and polish my nails. Sometimes, I give myself permission to feel blah, but only for a little while, and then focus on things that make me happy. I recognize that the blah comes and I have to figure out my own best practices to deal with the blah. I realize I can’t healthily go on if I act like the “blah” doesn’t exist.
  3. I embrace (safely) spending time with people who share similar views on the pandemic. This is an isolating time, but that doesn’t have to mean we can’t spend time with our people at all. I’m one of those people who is trying their best to be cautious and avoid potential virus-spreading situations. As of right now, I wear masks out, I don’t eat in (or outside at) restaurants, all vacation plans have been put on hold for the foreseeable future, and I do not spend time inside anyone’s home, even with a mask on, among other precautions. I have my household and now an unborn child to protect. So at this point, I embrace quality time spent with those who respect my feelings about the virus and my particular situation, being pregnant. I talk to my family on the phone all the time and when we visit in-person, we are outside with masks. My best friend and I have “car dates” where I make us smoothies or fresh fruit juice and we talk and spend (socially distanced) time together from our cars. Before I got pregnant, I did virtual happy hours on Facetime (which are surprisingly fun, I must say). Some people think I’m overreacting during this pandemic, but hey, that’s on them. Those are not really my people, and I’m okay with that. Quite a few of my family members contracted Covid-19 and some have even passed from it, so I already know what this virus is capable of.
  4. I reflect and count my blessings regularly. I find myself trying to find the bright spots of this crazy pandemic time. I need light in my life now more than ever. So I end up reflecting on all that God has done for me and mine. I was recently gifted a gratitude journal from a close friend of mine (thanks, Tanya!) and that has helped make these blessings even more explicit. Reflecting on my blessings during this particularly challenging time has helped me tremendously on some of my worst days. Reflecting on my blessings on a good day makes that good day even better. I’m thankful for being employed during this time. I’m thankful for good health in my immediate family during this time. I’m thankful for this baby I planned and I prayed for, even though living out this special time amidst a pandemic was certainly not in my plans. When I count my blessings, it really puts my temporary feelings of loneliness and isolation into perspective. Sometimes, I need to be reminded that there is a bigger picture this is all part of.


In I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou struck a chord when she said “there is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.” Our loneliness, our isolation is our story. We don’t have to shout it from the rooftop if we don’t want to, but we don’t have to leave it trapped inside of us. We don’t have to let it suffocate us.

Let it be. Be lonely. Be angry. Be sad. Be fragile. Be human during this unprecedented time.

Be human and when you’re ready, deal with yourself. You deserve it, pandemic or not.

Black Folk and ‘that ‘Rona:’ A Black Woman’s Take

lifestyle, self love

black woman red shirt


I’m writing this in the midst of the global pandemic that is the Novel Coronavirus. Many of us Black folk have simply coined it “’Rona” or “that ‘Rona.” No matter what you may call it, it’s striking people all around the country and all around the world at alarming rates. This deadly virus wreaks havoc in the body, often causing high body temperatures, a dry cough and breathing difficulties. Although it is a global pandemic and no one place or group of people has gone unscathed of its wrath, Black people are particularly at a disadvantage in the battle against this invisible enemy. In my humble opinion, Black women, regardless of location, occupation or health status, are universally working the front lines in an additional battle: keeping our villages safe and informed amidst the apathy, misinformation and marginalization that makes us overrepresented in virus cases and causalities.



We are constantly warning and informing. Our parents, aunties and grandparents have been through a whole lot, and to many of them, this is just another struggle to go down in the books. Our friends are stubborn and still holding gatherings and doing other things against the wise counsel of the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), Dr. Anthony Fauci or Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams. Our relatives may not necessarily be naysayers, but some of them may not be as phased or fearful as we are and we are very concerned. So we’re trying our best to correct their reckless behavior (i.e. not protecting themselves from the virus, going out and about like business as usual, etc.) and keep them updated on the latest developments. While other people have the privilege of watching the news and keeping up with things for their own individual consumption, many of us Black women are looking out for news about Uncle’s job with the virus outbreak, relaying information to grandma Rosie about her “sugar” and the virus and making sure our parents, partners and children are eating and living right during this extremely unsettling moment.


We have to take the lead in taking precautions. Within our own homes, we’re planning to ensure food lasts to minimize trips to the grocery store, and when we do make those trips, some of us are even managing to sanitize the groceries when we get home. We’re often setting the tone for somewhat-healthy diets in our households. In many instances, we lead the charge of cleaning and disinfecting, doing our best to keep things clean. Furthermore, we’re monitoring the comings and goings of our household in a world where staying home is the best defense against the virus. In the face of adversity, we are leading, be it up front or behind the scenes.


We carry the burden of living in the margins. For many of us, our family members are essential workers. The mental stress of their potential risks in the workplace and our own physical exposure to them presents a unique stressor. The marginalization of our own contrasts greatly with the low risks posed to others with the privilege of working from home or not working at all (but still getting paid, nonetheless). Some of our loved ones have pre-existing conditions that are barely managed (often a result of low income, limited access, etc.), and we know that those people have an increased risk of complications from the virus. We know that everyone is not socially distancing, whether it’s because they’re an essential employee or because they simply aren’t aware of the life-threatening dangers of gathering at this point in time. And to top it off, all we have to do is log in to social media to see photos of crowded outdoor spaces, parties and cookouts in which we are the overwhelming majority. In some way, Black folk are always living in the margins, but it is mentally cumbersome to expel the energy to navigate and mediate our oppressed position in wake of a global health crisis – but we must.


Black women are left holding down the fort on a normal day, but unfortunately, today the burden is extra heavy. In the near future, let’s call on our village to figure out how we can strengthen the foundation of our house of cards, so we can all be good as a collective once “that ‘Rona” passes, but for now, Black women, we must find coping strategies for our own selves to lighten the load someway, somehow, for if we crumble, the rest of the cards will come tumbling down right behind us – in the midst of a global pandemic.

You Betta Work: The Labor of Self-Love

self love, Uncategorized



Earlier this month, many celebrated Valentine’s Day. We all know all sorts of emotions can be a buzz during this time. Every year, I think about my grandma because February 14th is her heavenly birthday. Every year, I see opinions plastered all over social media about who should or shouldn’t celebrate this day, how it should be celebrated, who should pay for dinner, who shouldn’t pay for dinner, and so on and so forth. Yeah, people tend to be all over the place.

Every year, I have my own personal reflections about love and my life around this time, as well.  One of the things I try to really hone in on is this idea of self-love. Self-love has become a buzz word of sorts in recent years, but beyond the fluff and the minimization of it (i.e. get your nails done and boom, check off that self-love box), what is it really and are we really truly loving ourselves? I’m approaching the dirty t-word (thirty!), and I’m finding more and more that self-love is indeed a radical act in the words of Audre Lord, but it also takes getting our hands a little dirty in order to truly achieve. Here are just a few things I think of when I think of the “work” of self-love.

Self-love means recognizing our own toxic behaviors. Do we ever get on our own nerves? Block our own blessings? When we answer “no” to both of these questions, we’re probably lying to ourselves. In this season (and all the time, really), we should take some time to think about the things that we do to hinder ourselves. Do you struggle with doubting yourself? Perhaps you find yourself feeling jealous of those around you? Whatever you may do (knowingly or unknowingly) to make life harder on yourself can be worked on. My main toxic behavior is worrying. I worry so much, it often cripples me, robbing me of my joy and sometimes, my sanity. To put it simply: I often miss “the moment” because I’m too busy worrying about the what ifs of “what’s next.” Lately, I have been paying close attention to my bouts of worry in an attempt to identify when I’m doing too much, bringing myself back to the moment when I do. I’m also actively re-centering myself spiritually with scripture and quiet time to fend off the worrying. We need to think about what we need to do to help ourselves.

Self-love means being with ourselves sometimes. There’s nothing wrong with eating lunch alone or staying at home alone all day. The times we’re with ourselves should not make us feel sad or empty, for the most part. Alone time should feel like enough. I’ve just gotten to the point where I love being with myself. Before? I was always concerned about doing everything with friends and I looked at life as a group walk instead of an individual walk. I just could not stand the thought of being home alone for the day or even simply eating by myself. Now? I look forward to being with myself. I get excited about journaling in the quiet or simply laying on the bed with a good book. I even cherish the time I take getting dressed to go somewhere and my commute to work, where it’s just me, my thoughts and my music. If you don’t really know how to be with yourself, just throw yourself out there and do it. Spend some time at home alone doing something that relaxes you — and enjoy it. Go to your favorite store and shop (or window shop and plan for payday 😉 — and enjoy it.

Self-love means getting uncomfortable. There’s nothing wrong with stretching ourselves and getting a little uncomfortable. When we see new opportunities that require a departure from our comfort zones, maybe we should stick our neck out and at the very least, see what happens. Maybe there are things we want to try to better ourselves (healthier lifestyles, challenging intellectual work, etc.), but we don’t necessarily like big changes. I think this is the time when healthy changes should be considered, at the very least. What I’m trying to say is, we don’t know what we don’t know, and not knowing is uncomfortable. But, on the other side of discomfort could be an upgraded, leveled-up version of us, bigger, better and badder than ever. You don’t know until you try.

The one and only Toni Morrison said it best — “You are your best thing.”

We’re all busy with all kinds of work right about now, be it school, careers, starting families, healing from trauma, exploring our identities, trying to get healthy, fighting for social change — you name it. Amidst this work, let’s try to make more time for ourselves and more importantly, for the work we owe to ourselves. Our best thing.