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Why I'm Sick Of Getting Long-distance Relationship Advice During Coronavirus Isolation

4 Min Read
Lifestyle

And just like that, the United Kingdom was added to the travel ban due to the Coronavirus. "Could this year get any worse?" I mumbled over Skype trying to not let the tears fall as my husband watched my living room TV through the computer screen.

President Trump was discussing the new restrictions regarding the pandemic. My British husband, who has been waiting on his green card for the last 20 months, and I have struggled with our long-distance relationship and the frustrations that come along with it. (You can get inside scoop in my book "Female. Likes Cheese. Comes with Dog: Stories about Divorce, Dating & Saying "I Do.") An eight-hour time change from Los Angeles to England, scheduling skype dates, flying back and forth to see one another, and the costs that come along with it have been taxing, to say the least. But now being forced to not see each other at all for the foreseeable future? The thought of light at the end of the tunnel suddenly became a dark wet hole I felt trapped in.

I know I'm not the only one out there in a long-distance relationship during this COVID-19 quarantine, but am I the only one fed up about the advice that others have been giving me on how to handle it? How about you try a sexy date night on facetime? Or how about you each buy a plant and watch it grow together? How about no.

Am I the only one fed up about the advice that others have been giving me on how to handle it?

That's like me telling you, "How about you paint the walls and watch it dry?" Here's a thought: How about you and your significant other just be. Remember being in a long-distance romance back in college? It was exciting! They'd come to town and you'd get to show them off to your housemates and at parties Then you'd have the melodramatic goodbye. Nothing was more romantic than that rollercoaster of young love.

But this, this is no fun adulting. From what I've experienced, and all I can offer is don't force yourself or your partner to have these "lists" of things to do, just because you have more free time on your hands. Being present and being quiet is enough. Even if that means sitting on skype for two hours doing nothing while they're in the background. Our minds are already overwhelmed with so many what-ifs, there is no need to stress out our relationship in the process. It is okay to admit to yourselves that this is a shitty situation. The "Positive Pams" of the world are the ones that concern me. Always positive. Always okay. Always happy and smiling.

How about you try a sexy date night on facetime?

What are you covering up? What are you hiding? We are going through so many ups and downs that putting on an "everything's alright" attitude is only fooling yourself in the long run. It's okay to access those emotions and let your guard down, especially to the one that cares about you the most. There's no stage. No show to put on. Know that it's okay to admit to each other there is nothing wrong with having fears about the current situation. My husband and I have accepted that we have no idea when or where we will see each other again, but what does keep us going and what never changes is how important we are to each other and how important our marriage is to each other.

Your friends may be coupled up with their "person" while you sit alone in your apartment. Unfortunately, most of them will not understand your personal struggle of being without your person — sad, but true. There have been countless times I've been texting with friends and they ask the same questions over and over again, and I've given the same answers.

It is okay to admit to yourselves that this is a shitty situation.

Sometimes I wonder if they have even heard me in the past. Those who aren't in long-distance relationships don't know what it's like to go to bed without a kiss goodnight each night or, hell, even go to bed after an argument. I would love to just be able to argue over him playing too many video games during the quarantine and not paying enough attention to me or who is going to clean the bathroom this week.

Let's face it, most people are focused on themselves and their own problems, not yours. But you know who does understand? Your person. I know my husband and I will be stronger when we are together permanently because we have gone through this dire situation and learned about perseverance in one another. I believe those of you out there going through a long-distance relationship whether it's 20 miles, a few states, or entire oceans away know that love is love no matter where you are. Who knew we would be tested in such a way in our relationships? So, write the lists together if you want, or don't. Put makeup on for a "date" or don't. But, most importantly, just let yourselves be.

5 Min Read
People

Judge Tanya Acker On Overcoming Racial Barriers And Her Rise To The Top


You may recognize Judge, Tanya Acker, from her political and legal commentary on different networks and shows like Good Morning America, The Talk, Wendy Williams, CNN Reports or The Insider. Acker is more than an experienced commentator. She is also a Judge on the fifth season of Emmy nominated CBS show, Hot Bench.

The show, created by Judge Judy, is a new take on the court genre. Alongside Acker, are two other judges: Patricia DiMango and Michael Corriero. Together the three-panel judges take viewers inside the courtroom and into their chambers. “I feel like my responsibility on the show is, to be honest, fair, [and] to try and give people a just and equitable result," Acker says. She is accomplished, honest and especially passionate about her career. In fact, Acker likes the fact that she is able to help people solve problems. “I think that efficient ways of solving disputes are really at the core of modern life.

“We are a very diverse community [with] different values, backgrounds [and] beliefs. It's inevitable that we're going to find ourselves in some conflicts. I enjoy being a part of a process where you can help resolve the conflicts and diffuse them," she explains.

Acker's career has been built around key moments and professional experiences in her life. Particularly, her time working right after college impacted the type of legal work she takes on now.

Shaping Her Career

Acker didn't foresee doing this kind of work on television when she was in college at either Howard University or Yale Law. “I was really open in college about what would happen next," Acker comments. “In fact, I deliberately chose a major (English) that wouldn't lock me into anything [because] I wanted to keep all of my options open." Her inevitable success on the show and throughout her career is an example of that. In fact, after graduating from Yale, Acker served as a judicial law clerk to Judge Dorothy Nelson who sits on the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

It was not only her first job out of law school but also one of the formative experiences of her professional life. “[Judge Nelson is] certainly, if not my most important professional influence," Acker says. “She is really the living embodiment of justice, fairness, and believes in being faithful to the letter and the spirit of the law," she exclaims. “She delivers it all with a lot of love." Judge Nelson is still on the bench and is continuing to work through her Foundation: The Western Justice Center in Pasadena, California, where Acker serves on the board. The foundation helps people seeking alternative ways of resolving their disputes instead of going to court.

"I enjoy being a part of a process where you can help resolve the conflicts and diffuse them," she explains.

“It was important to her to try and create platforms for people to resolve conflict outside of court because court takes a long time," Acker explains. “I'm proud to be a part of that work and to sit on that board."

After her clerkship, she was awarded a Bristow Fellowship and continued building her career. Outside of the fellowship, Acker's legal work incorporated a broad variety of matters from civil litigation, constitutional cases, business counseling, and advising. One of her most memorable moments was representing a group of homeless people against the city. “They were being fought for vagrancy and our defense was, they had no place to go," she shares.

As part of her pro bono work, Acker was awarded the ACLU's First Amendment Award for her success with the case. Though, she has a hard time choosing from one of many memorable moments on Hot Bench. Acker does share a few of the things that matter to her. “Our show is really drawn from a cross-section of courtrooms across America and the chance to engage with such a diverse group of people really means a lot to me," she discusses.

How Did Acker Become A Judge?

In addition to Judge Nelson, Judge Judy is certainly among her top professional influences. “I think it's incredible [and] I feel very lucky that my professional career has been bookended by these incredible judges," she acclaims. “I've really learned a lot from Judy about this job, doing this kind of job on television." Before Acker was selected for Hot Bench, she hadn't been a judge. It was Judge Judy who recommended that she get some experience. Acker briefly comments on her first experience as a temporary judge on a volunteer basis in traffic court. “I was happy to be able to have the chance to kind of get a feel for it before we started doing the show," she comments. “Judy is a wonderful, kind, generous person [and] she's taught me quite a lot. I feel lucky."

Judge Acker in white pantsuit with her dog. Photo Courtesy of Annie Shak.

Acker's Time Away From Home

Outside of Hot Bench, Acker took recent trips to Haiti and Alabama. They were memorable and meaningful.

Haiti, in particular, was the first trip she excitedly talks about. She did some work there in an orphanage as part of LOVE Takes Root, an organization that is driven to help children around the world whether it's basic aid or education. “Haiti has a special place in my heart," she began. “As a person who's descended from enslaved people, I have a lot of honor and reverence for a country that threw off the shackles of slavery."

She was intrigued by the history of Haiti. Especially regarding the communities, corrupt government and natural disasters. “They really had to endure a lot, but I tell you this when I was there, I saw people who were more elegant, dignified, gracious and generous as any group of people I've ever met anywhere in the world," she goes on. “I think it left me with was a strong sense of how you can be graceful and elegant under fire." Acker is optimistic about the country's overall growth and success.

“[Judge Nelson is] certainly, if not my most important professional influence," Acker says. “She is really the living embodiment of justice, fairness, and believes in being faithful to the letter and the spirit of the law."

“There are certainly times when people treated me differently or made assumptions about me because I was a black woman," Acker says. “I've got it much better, but that doesn't mean it's perfect...it certainly isn't, but you just have to keep it moving."

Her other trip was different in more ways than one. She traveled there for the first time with her mother as part of a get out to vote effort, that Alabama's First black House Minority Leader, Anthony Daniels was organizing. “It was incredible to take that trip with her [and] I've got to tell you, the South of today is not the South of my mother's upbringing," she explains. Originally from Mississippi, Acker's mother hasn't been back in the South since 1952. “Every place has a ways to go, but it was a really exciting trip [and] it was nice for me to connect with that part of the country and that part of my history."

Overcoming Racial Barriers

As a black woman, Acker has certainly faced challenges based on her race and gender. But it doesn't define who she is or what she can accomplish. “There are certainly times when people treated me differently or made assumptions about me because I was a black woman," she says. “There's no sort of barrier that someone would attempt to impose upon me that they didn't attempt to impose on my mother, grandmother or great-grandmother." In a space where disparity is sometimes apparent, she recognizes that there is no barrier someone would try to impose on her that they didn't attempt to impose on her mother or grandmothers. “I've got it much better, but that doesn't mean it's perfect...it certainly isn't, but you just have to keep it moving," Acker states. The conversation continues truthfully and seriously. Acker shares what it can be like for black women, specifically. “I think we're underestimated and we can be disrespected, whereas other folks are allowed the freedom to enjoy a full range of emotions and feelings," she articulates.

At times black women are often restricted from expressing themselves. “If someone wants to make an assumption or jump to a conclusion about me because of my race or gender, that's on them, but their assumptions aren't going to define me," Acker declares. “If something makes me angry or happy I will express that and if someone wants to caricature me, that's their pigeonholing; that's not my problem." A lifelong lesson she learned and shared is to not let other people define who you are. It is one of three bits of wisdom.

Three Pieces Of Advice From Judge Acker

The Power Of Self-awareness

“It's really important that you have a really firm sense of what you want to do and be, and how you're moving in the world because when people try to sway you, judge you or steer you off course you've got to have some basis for getting back on track."

Know Your Support System

“Have a strong community of people who you trust, love and who love you," she advises. “But also learn to love and trust yourself because sometimes it's your own voice that can provide you the most comfort or solace in something."

Learn From Your Experiences

“Trust yourself. Take care of yourself. Don't be too hard on yourself. Be honest with yourself.

“There are times when it's not enough to say this is who I am. Take it or leave it. Sometimes we've got things that we need to work on, change or improve upon," she concludes.

Acker stands out not only because of her accomplishments, but the way she views certain aspects of her life. These days, she's comfortable accepting what makes her different. “I think there's a time when you're younger when conformity feels comfortable, [but] I'm comfortable these days not conforming," she laughs. She enjoys being a decision maker and helping people work through it on Hot Bench.

This article was originally published May 15, 2019.