Gin and Beer It Social Distancing Virtual Run/Walk

Hi everyone!

Like everyone else, I’ve been feeling very lost given the current situation and have been trying to think of something that I can focus on that will also do even the tiniest bit of good. I’ve written and spoke on the podcast on numerous occasions about how for the past 8 years running has been my therapy. It clears my head in the darkest of times and gives me a sense of purpose. In other times of hardship, this would be the perfect time to get everyone together for a race. Unfortunately, we can’t do that – but fortunately we can get together in a way that actually includes everyone, regardless of where they are from or whether they want to run.

So.. with that… I now introduce…

The Gin and Beer It Social Distancing Virtual Run/Walk !!!!

Here is how it will work:

Between now and Sunday, April 5th, you will be able to enter the event here.

All you need to do to enter is to make a donation of any amount to any charity of your choice, and upload a photo as proof. Alternatively, you can do any coronavirus-related good deed, i.e. buying gift cards to a local business to help them during this time, or dropping off groceries for someone in isolation.

You will be able to enter as a runner, walker, or mover. I want everyone to be able to participate in this event, and I do not want to exclude those who are not runners or who are living in a place that has advised against running outdoors. Movers are anyone who is doing any form of exercise, whether that is dancing, indoor cycling, or weight training. Once you choose your participant type, you will have the option to enter into an array of challenges (i.e. Most Miles Logged, Most Hours Logged, Most Consecutive Days).

From Monday, March 30th to Sunday, April 12th, the event will begin! You will be emailed details on how to upload your workouts. Regular posts will be made every day tracking everyone’s progress and seeing if you are head-to-head with any other participants. There will be prizes, but these are TBD as we find a way to accommodate participants all over the world, as well as the ever-changing limitations of COVID-19.

So…. let’s get moving! Please enter using the form here, and please please please share wherever you can! The only way to get everyone involved is by word of mouth! Throughout the course of the event week, please share photos on your social media with #GinAndBeerItVirtualWorkout so that everyone can see how everyone is choosing to move. In a time where we all have to be away from each other, let’s get together virtually and move our bodies to prove we are stronger together.

The Quarantine Diaries

How are you?

I’m struggling. I feel like I’ve been writing this in my head for the past four days, but things have changed so drastically every single day that what was in my head and my heart a few days ago is already massively outdated.

Personally, I feel miles behind the positivity and optimism that I am seeing on social media. I have nothing but admiration for the people who have already used the pain to create good, whether that be through volunteering or expressing themselves creatively online. I’m not there yet – but I want to be and I’m going to try.

My boyfriend and I were walking around in what is already a post-apocalyptic south London yesterday and thinking about what these next few weeks were going to be like before this all unfolded. We were going to spend this weekend welcoming Harry’s parents home from there trip to Barbados and celebrating Mother’s Day with his mum. Next weekend, we were going to go to Madrid to get some sun and celebrate the end of the project I’ve been working on for the past 9 months. In less than two months, we were meant to fly to America for a two week holiday to Chicago, New York, and Walt Disney World that we’d been saving for for nearly a year. By all accounts, the next few months were meant to be the beginning of what was going to be a really incredible year.

In reality, we have both been working from home for nearly a week. I’m required to work from home for at least four weeks… and whispers are saying it could be 12 or more. Our trip to Madrid is cancelled, and we can only feel fortunate. We were able to get refunded in travel vouchers, whereas so many others have not been so lucky. We have spent the entire afternoon debating whether we should stay in London or flee to Harry’s parents’ home. After 40 tube stations in London were closed this morning, it is abundantly clear that a military enforced lockdown is imminent. I spent last week stressing that our hard earned trip to Disney World would be cancelled. Now, my fantasies of taking Harry to The Happiest Place on Earth are a distant memory. All I can think about now is that I have absolutely no idea when I will see my family in America again. I am not included in the travel ban as I am a U.S. citizen, but flights are dwindling and I have even read reports that Heathrow is in danger of closing. I visited my doctor yesterday, and she told me the next time I am due for an appointment the office might be permanently closed.

My suffering is an absolute blip on the radar of humanity compared to others. One of my friends had to cancel his wedding yesterday. Another one of my friends has been in lockdown in Hong Kong for two months, only getting to leave her flat once a week for groceries. I am lucky to work for a company with paid sick leave that is able to maintain a semblance of our operations during this time. Numerous friends and family members have no source of income for the foreseeable future. I find myself in a constant state of fear. I am afraid for myself, I’m afraid for everyone else. I’m afraid of how long it will go on. I’m afraid of the mental health implications. I’m afraid of how things will continue to get worse, I’m afraid of what things will look like when this is over.

In spite of it all, I can see the good. Family members that I don’t speak to regularly have downloaded WhatsApp to check in on me. Colleagues with a historically stiff upper lip are softening and expressing concern. I’m not the beam of positive light that I’d like to be right now, but I’m taking baby steps. I start Roaccutane treatment for acne tomorrow, and if all the doomsday predictions are correct, that means by the time we are let out of the house my skin will be positively glowing!

I hope wherever you are in the world, you’re doing okay. Thank you for taking the time to read this, and if you feel like you are struggling, just know that you are not alone! I hope that with time we will all adjust to this new normal and become stronger as a result. I am inspired by the positivity and altruism of those around me (not physically around me because… social distancing), but I think we are all going to have good and bad days in this, so try not to beat yourself up if you’ve got the blues or the mean reds.

Sending love to you all…

 

Why Do We Always Put Love On Top?

I spent my entire single early 20s resenting the value that our society places on being in a long term relationship and, ultimately, getting married. I come from a family of couples who met when they were teenagers and against all odds have stayed married for decades. Growing up I always felt, especially as a girl, that the greatest achievement in my family’s eyes would be getting married and having kids. This is through no fault of anyone in my family. Nobody has ever put pressure on me to have a partner, and my mother is also the single most career driven woman and person that I know. However, when you grow up surrounded by people that were with their ‘person’ by the time they were 20, it gives you the impression that this is how life should be.

I was single for nearly all of college and largely for the first half of my twenties. Like many other single, overdramatic twenty-something women, during this period I believed I’d be single forever and ultimately die alone. Would I be a failure because I never became a wife? I was convinced that despite achieving my dream of moving to London to work in finance at the age of 21, without a boyfriend no one viewed me as a success story. I felt myself resenting my friends and peers who were in long term relationships, and rejecting the idea that just because they’d made the (questionable) decision to snog the same person for the most free years of their life, that they were more successful or settled than me.

Then, as is always the case with life, I got thrown a curveball in the form of a goofy and gorgeous boy from Lincolnshire. As soon as I knew that things between us were serious and real, I felt an internal shift. For as much as I resented all the happy couples and their OTT anniversary posts on Instagram when I was single, once I was in a committed relationship myself I resented the people who (like single me) begrudged me the ability to celebrate the fact that I’d actually found a boy who wasn’t a complete shit-dick. Finding a boy who will even text you back in 2018 London was a massive feat, and I wanted to be able to celebrate us without feeling like I was placing more weight on my romantic achievements than my career and personal achievements.

This entire experience was extremely enlightening for me, and it gave me one massive, eye opening takeaway. We SHOULD celebrate our relationships. Finding love is extremely difficult and often heartbreaking, so if we are lucky enough to come across it, even temporarily, that is absolutely something to celebrate. Where society gets it wrong is putting so much emphasis on celebrating romantic love. I have known my best friend Zoë since the day she was born, and we have been inseparable for nearly 25 years since. I have maintained for years that Zoë is my life’s greatest love story and always will be. The odds of staying friends with someone for a quarter century in this day and age is about as likely as the odds of finding a boy in London who doesn’t ghost you after 3 dates, and yet there isn’t a day on the calendar dedicated to roses, chocolate, and female friendships (except for Galentine’s Day… but that is less a holiday and more a recent internet fad).

So, let’s stop judging each other for whatever form of love we choose to celebrate. Love, whether it is romantic love or friendship love or the kind you have for your sister when she surprises you with Starbucks, is fucking hard to come by and even harder to hold onto. Frankly, I think it is a good thing that society puts so much weight on it. At the end of the day, our careers will ebb and flow, but what will matter is how much we were able to love those around us. But if you are single and frustrated and resentful of all the loved up people around you, just remember that romantic love is not the only love worth celebrating… and if you want you can even celebrate it by snogging everyone in sight.

 

Leaving Home to Go Home

“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” -Miriam Adeney

I recently went home to Chicago for the holidays. It was as magical as it always is, and I returned to London in the first week of January feeling utterly full both in heart and in waistline. Leaving the people and the city I love so much never gets any easier with each visit home, but it has become drastically different. The first two years or so after moving to London, I’m less than proud to say every time I came back to London from Chicago I physically hated London. I hated the Tube, I hated the people, I hated the way the coffee tasted and how there was no one to look after me when I was sick. I would spend weeks despising this city and country and vowing to move back to the United States as soon as I had the chance.

After a few weeks of getting back into my routine and spending time with my U.K. friends, I’d inevitably get over it. I’d realise that moving home would mean no more going to the pub or getting the train to Paris or drinking Pimms from a can in the sun. Summer would come and I would never feel homesick unless I FaceTimed my parents and they were having a barbecue with my grandparents or going to a baseball game. This cycle went on relatively endlessly, and before I knew it I was celebrating three years in London and halfway to being a British citizen. This year, however, was different.

Like most other things in my last, I blame most of this on boys, or in this case, one boy. Now that Harry and I live together, for as much as it destroys my ‘hopelessly jaded’ brand, I am ridiculously happy. Returning to reality this January wasn’t difficult because I happen to really like my reality. I have a wonderful flat with a garden, a boyfriend who will binge You on Netflix with me and run out to the store when we’re out of bananas, and a job that isn’t always a dream, but affords me the ability to be here, living the rest of this wonderful life. So yes, for the first time, coming back to London was easy. It was leaving home that is still, and will always be, so goddamn excruciating.

I love my life in Chicago. I love harsh winters and brutal summers and pizza and the White Sox and most importantly I love the friends and family without which Chicago would just be a beer soaked, sports crazed shell of a home. And don’t get me wrong, I know exactly how fortunate I am that my biggest burden is being so in love with two different places and the people in them at once. I will never stop being grateful for that, but it is agony. For every memory that I am making in Europe, for every moment spent watching the Queen go by in a carriage at Royal Ascot or visiting pubs older than my entire country in Kent, I am missing my little sister’s first day of middle school or my cousin’s graduation party. How am I supposed to enjoy what I have here when for every memorable experience I have, there are five that I am missing out on at home? It’s a predicament that can never be solved, but it is also one that will never stop aching no matter how happy I am. It is just as much a blessing as it is a heartbreaking curse.

The only prescription I’ve managed to give myself to deal with this cross to bear is cripplingly cliche: living in the moment. I am in London now, making memories every day that most people wouldn’t dream of making in their lifetime. Sometimes, I’m even lucky enough to make those memories with my family when they are able to visit me. I am so lucky to be living this life, and it would be a poor expression of gratitude for me to spend the precious moments here lamenting whether I should be somewhere else. I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, and I wouldn’t be here without the love and support of everyone back at home.

At my dad’s 50th birthday dinner, which happened to be in London with several of my friends, we all went around the table and said what we thought our idea of heaven was. My best friend Elizabeth, who is also an American ex-pat, said her idea of heaven would be all of the people she loves living on the same street. This was quite possibly one of the most beautiful things I had ever heard because it completely captured my own sentiment. I don’t know if I believe in heaven and even if it does exist I’m skeptical I’d get an invite, but if it does exist I hope that I love on a street block with every person I hold dear to me, with a pub on one side of the street and a Connie’s Pizza on the other.