Dressing Up to Stay In

I feel a certain degree of guilt constantly writing about coronavirus. We are all living it and watching it excessively on the news, so I’m guessing the last thing anyone wants to do is travel to the Gin and Beer It corner of the internet and inundate their brains with even more ‘corona content.’

However, being the host of a ‘lifestyle’ podcast and blog (I still haven’t decide if that term is too wanky for me or not), at some point I have to face the reality that this is currently life for all of us. For me personally, dwelling on the past that once was makes me feel sad, and the future feels far too uncertain. So – I’m left with now. The present. This super fucking bizarre ‘unprecedented’ time that has resulted in me having absolutely bonkers dreams because my brain has seemingly decided that reality is currently too strange for my normal suite of dreams.

Fancy Afternoon Tea at Home

Recently, I have started coming up with creative ways to take the things that I used to love doing outside of my home, and was looking forward to this year before they were all cancelled, and bring them home. Two weeks ago, my boyfriend and I had a fancy afternoon tea. We dressed up in our Royal Ascot garb (my boyfriend kept his top hat on just long enough for me to get it on Insta) and had a proper English afternoon tea with scones, finger sandwiches, and Victoria sponge cake. Cute? Yes. Delightful? Yes. Completely over the top? Absolutely. As cringe as it might have been to some people, and as sad as it might sound, I looked forward to that afternoon tea for an entire week. It gave me something to aspire to, and in the process I learned how to make homemade scones. Last weekend, we hosted a household luau. I ordered us cheap leis off Amazon and we had a Hawaiian themed barbecue, completely with Hawaiian macaroni salad and Mai Tais. It was a particularly hot day in London, and it felt quite exotic to play luau music and sip from a tiki mug.

Luau at Home

This might all sound horrible to you, and I get it. At the core of all of my cringe-y quarantine theme days, I’m just looking for escapism. I’m looking for anything that might make me forget, even briefly, that we are in this situation. So, if you are struggling with lockdown as I know so many of us are, I strongly recommend finding your own way to escape. If you love football, in the U.K. we can now exercise outside as much as we want. Go play! If you miss going out with the girls, have a Zoom disco where you all get dressed up, drink yourselves silly, and dance to the same tunes. I promise you, it only feels silly for the first 30 seconds, and then it actually just feels really nice and fun.

Have you found creative ways to pass the time at home? Please comment below to share, especially if you have ideas for how I can embarrass my boyfriend further!

Expressing Myself Through Fashion During Quarantine

If there is one extremely first-world and trivial struggle that I have encountered as a result of #COVID19, it is finding a way to express myself through fashion as a person who A.) loves to show off outfits out in public and on social media and B.) hates anything relating to ‘leisure-wear.’ Don’t get me wrong, I love a pair of trackies and a baggy jumper, but they have a time and a place, and in general if I’m not sick or hungover I’m not interested. After four weeks, I am now absolutely desperate to get dolled up and put on a pair of heels, so much so that I am contemplating doing it just to go to my living room, or perhaps for my next Zoom call.

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The Bahamas, 2003

As you can see, fashion has always been an important part of my personality. For as long as I can remember, I have used clothes, jewelry, shoes, hairstyles, purses, etc. as a way of expressing who I am and whatever phase I might be going through at the minute. As I have grown older and become financially independent, my affinity for all things fashion has only grown. So, you can imagine my sheer horror in March when it became clear that we all needed to start staying indoors as a matter of life or death.

Paris, 2020

This horror was amplified when I realised that I had only just invested in my first pair of Jimmy Choo’s, a gorgeous pair of ballet pink pumps that will now not see the light of day until further notice. I buy clothes to wear, not collect dust, and the idea of spending every single day in old marathon finisher shirts and leggings with holes in them makes me feel dead inside. I find myself spending hours of my newly found ‘free-time’ at home perusing Silk Fred, TopShop, ASOS, and every other website I could think of. My wishlist on each of these website is astromical, but the risk to my bank account and more importantly to delivery drivers forced to deliver non-essentials has kept me from actually purchasing anything.

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London, 2020

So, how do I cope with my primal need to express myself through fashion when I’ll ultimately be all dressed up with nowhere to go, AND my chosen form of therapy (retail) is largely unavailable? I’ve been thinking about this for awhile, and I finally had an epiphany. While I love fashion and clothes, and I also will never turn down an outfit related compliment, I’ve realised over the course of quarantine that my love for fashion does not actually come from a need to be seen or complimented. While obviously in an ideal world I prefer to get dressed up AND go out (I am a restless extrovert, after all), when forced to stay inside I’ve found that wearing clothes and makeup that make me feel inspired help to make me feel more like me. Truthfully, this makes a lot of sense. I have a small handful of followers on Instagram, and I can count on one hand the number of times in my life I’ve been complimented in public on my fashion choices. If external validation was really my motivator for looking my best, I don’t think I’d have much motivation at all.

This is probably the least earth-shattering thing that you’ve read whilst in quarantine, but I think it’s important because, in a way, I finally feel like I might actually gain something from this miserable time. My self-imposed embargo on ordering clothes online means that I can actually take time to slow down and appreciate the clothes that I already have. I might actually finally have time to create new outfits from my existing wardrobe and refresh my wardrobe without spending a penny! Additionally, dressing up for no one but myself is a helpful way of distinguishing one day from the next and maintaining my confidence and self-expression in an otherwise extremely BLAH phase of my life.

So, if you are also someone who gets an immense about of joy from buying, styling, and wearing clothes, I implore you to not let quarantine get you down. Of course, I will be and am spending most of my days in leggings and t-shirts (and if you are someone who is relishing in the chance to pack away your work attire until further notice, I totally understand)… but where you feel inspired to put some effort in, DO! As soon as I am back in my flat in London, I plan on putting on my Jimmy Choo’s and a cute pair of jeans and strutting all over my flat (thank goodness we live on the ground floor). Royal Ascot, one of my favorite fashionable events of the British summertime, has been cancelled and will likely be held behind closed doors. I already plan on hosting some sort of Royal Ascot themed barbecue and wearing the dress I had (obviously) already picked out. If we all flex our creative muscles, we can find ways to dress up and stay in. Everything might be different now, but not everything has to go away. There will always be a way to Vogue.

London, 2020

What Running Has Taught Me About Life

“I think I get used to, even addicted to, the feelings associated with the end of a long training run. I love feeling empty, clean, worn out, starving, and sweat-purged. I love the good ache of muscles that have done me proud. I love the way a cold beer tastes later that afternoon. I love the way my body feels light and sinewy.” -Kristin Armstrong

When I finished my final training run of this year’s marathon season, I immediately burst into tears. My first attempt at the ‘Big 20 Miler’ was two weeks prior, and it had gone horrifically. The fact that I was training for my fifth marathon meant nothing to the Marathon Gods. I felt exhausted, achy, dehydrated, and unmotivated. When I finally managed to complete twenty disjointed and uninspired miles, I didn’t even have the energy to cry.

Two weeks later it seemed to all turn around. I kept looking down at my GPS watch and thinking, ‘There is absolutely no way that I can continue to hold this pace for 20 miles. It just won’t happen.’ Somehow, the miles kept slipping away. Eight miles turned into fifteen and every time I thought my pace was slipping, the wind seemed to pick up and the fog in my brain quickly cleared. When I looked down for the final time I had completed the run in under three hours… so I stopped running and started sobbing.

I cried because I didn’t think that I was capable of running like that anymore. I cried because I knew the next time I would run that distance would be in Berlin with my family. But mostly, I cried because, finally, I could remember why I run. I run because to me, running is life. Running is challenging and beautiful and painful and rewarding. Some days it’s an accomplishment to get out there at all, and some days I wish could move in slow motion. Every marathon, every 5k, every 6AM run around the park has taught me a different lesson that I have carried through every other aspect of my life.

For better or for worse, nothing lasts forever

The most beautiful lesson that running has ever taught me is that for better or for worse, nothing lasts forever. In the darkest days of my worst breakup, there were moments where I felt physically suffocated. It was a period of my life where one moment I would be fine, and the next I would feel like the wind had been knocked out of me. It felt like all the color had been drained from my world, and the rest of my life would be bleak shades of black and gray. These feelings were not dissimilar to the darkest period of my toughest marathon. When I hit The Wall, suddenly all of the oxygen had been sucked from Earth. The lights were on, but no one was home. Somehow, through the support of loved ones in the crowd and sheer determination, I kept putting one foot in front of the other, and I survived. I do not speak with hyperbole when I say that overcoming challenges as a runner has countlessly saved my life as a human being. Every time my heart is broken or my spirit seems lost, I remind myself that if I could break through The Wall, I will see the other side of this pain, and when I do I will be stronger.

As runners, we each make a deal with the Devil that in order for pain to be overcome, it must be felt. No runner is immune to pain, and anyone who tells you otherwise is probably trying to sell you something. There are no gels or hydration packs that will stop your legs from feeling heavy in the last miles of a marathon, just like there are no quick fixes or miracle pills that will save you from a bad day at work or a fight with your best friend. For the most part, runners know that the only way to the other side of the tunnel is to run through it, so we lean into the pain. We sit back into it, breathe it in, let it wash over us. And then, just as quickly as it began to hurt, it seems to wash away. I try my best every day to remember this when life itself starts to hurt. I can’t choose when I feel pain, but I can choose to sit back and breathe it in. Just like my hardest races, it won’t last forever.

Of course, the most wonderful things in life and running don’t last forever either. Sunset runs on Lake Michigan, half marathons with my dad, the moment of victory when a heavy marathon medal is placed around my neck – all of these come to an end eventually. Friends move to a different city, favorite coffee shops close their doors – the world will always keep turning in its own wonderful, agonizing way. Because running is often so challenging, the moments of true Runners High serve as a reminder to savor the good moments as long as I possibly can. Just like the painful ones, they are only temporary. In running just as much as life, the good and the bad work together harmoniously and at the finish line I’m left with one feeling: gratitude. I am so grateful for the good runs, the tough runs, the runs where I have the entire path to myself, and the runs where I get to stop midway and hug my mom. I know with certainty that my toughest runs are still ahead of me, but as long as I keep lacing up my shoes, the best is yet to come.