No good reason Street Art

The most common word to describe London is ‘busy’, followed shortly behind by ‘exhausting’ and ‘what the fuck am I doing with my life’. Ok that last one isn’t one word, but just go with me here. Living in London you are never still; just to get to work is a mammoth task of energy, people and exhaustion. Annual leave and cheap travel discounts mean that most people have their lives planned out for the next few months. Actually that’s not quite the whole truth, we have the lily pads planned out and us over-saturated Londoners just leapfrog between them.

It’s the most extreme form of living for the weekend, we live for milestones. Those moments of excitement, calm or celebration that give us markers in our lives. We are not kids any more, getting excited to finally reach double digits. We have to create our own markers of success. So we plan trips to Iceland to see harsh magical landscapes that our parents wouldn’t have imagined. We book the Harry Potter play 12 months out because it’s A THING that can’t be missed. We escape to somewhere warm, just to have light at the end of the tunnel that is winter – a modern day winter solstice.

Those experiences are amazing. They might even be life changing. After all once you’ve drunk ouzo on a beach in Crete it’s pretty easy to imagine you could do anything with your life. Although shortly after having that epiphany you will get into a fight with the sea, call it a fucking bastard and then throw up on your shoes. Sorry I got side-tracked a little there; fucking salty bastard.

While amazing, fun and drunkenly life changing those milestone lily pads are not life, life is what happens when you are making plans. Life is feeling incredible because you have finally figured out the changes at Bank Station (it’s my new superpower, I’m waiting for Marvel to make a movie about it). Life is feeling hopeless when friends are hurting and you can’t do a thing to help. Life is feeling so stuck in your career that you want to scream. Life is those insignificant middle bits, the bits that will never make it onto Instagram.

All those emotions. All the little frustrating, hard, sad, happy and beautiful bits of life shape you and make you who you are, who you might be and who you will be. I don’t know many people who have gone on a trip or to a festival and had such a life changing experience that it shapes their future. I do however know a lot of people for who the frustrations of life (or sometimes the joys) have been a catalyst for some of the bravest choices they will ever have to make.

Once you hit your mid-twenties the changes to who you are become more subtle.  Change happens like dominos, each one insignificant but the whole forming a pattern that you can’t help but act on. I guess the most stereotypical example in London are people who end up going home because of the weather, the commute and the expensive flats. None so huge that they can’t be overcome, but all together are enough to make you move to the other side of the world.

I think this is why I struggle so much when people ask me (often with genuine shock or confusion) why I am living in London? I mean I just love London so much, but why? How do you tell someone that you like the bits in between the lily pads, you love the brunch and wine with friends, the subtle changes in weather that can be talked about for hours, getting mocked at work for saying pants in the wrong context, the BBC shows, the monuments and famous buildings everywhere, the art that I never see, the love for the chaos, the connection, the life I have built all by myself. How do you say all that without people thinking you are mad?

So instead we talk about the lily pads. We talk about the travel, the festivals, the shows and the plans. We talk in milestones because we think that is what other people will be able to understand. Of course this is nonsense, we all have our own little lives full of joy and pain. We are all growing and changing between our life milestones. We all find it too hard to talk about and define until a catalyst make us reflect and change. And then, maybe then we can say ‘I did this for a reason’, and ‘I know who I am’. And of course, if all else fails, you can always tell the lily pad story about getting into a fist fight with the Aegean Sea.

Life is what happens to you when you are making other plans

Never forget you are amazing

Happiness has been my go-to conversation piece when drunk for about the last month. As soon as I hit that third glass of wine tipping point, whoever I’m out with gets gifted a drunken Runawaykiwi preaching about happiness – apologies to everyone caught up in the ramble. Rather than continue to piss off my friends, I thought I would write something hopefully more coherent on this little old blog of mine.

I’m not quite sure if it is social media, the stage in life I’m in (late 20’s for anyone asking) or the language of modern marketing imprinting itself on my brain; at the moment we only speak in bests and worsts. It’s no longer ok to be just simply happy, now you need to be living in a constant state of ecstasy or alternatively be a tight ball of misery in order to fit in with the crowd.

I am really happy at the moment. God writing that felt like declaring a political statement. It’s not that I am an overnight Zoella, have been promoted to CEO or am suddenly getting married; I’m just getting enough sleep, have been doing some fun London stuff, drinking a lot of coffee and have actually managed to catch up with my friends. Not earth shattering, but I’m smiling and content. And yet this happiness is quite simply not something you hear about very often. It is partially because you are sensitive to others emotions and don’t want to rub happiness in the face of someone who is struggling, but it is mostly because stressed is the new normal.

The biggest issue I have with this best/worst mentality is that it is a self-fulfilling prophesy. Think back to the last time someone asked how you were, I would put money on your reply going something along the lines of “I’m so stressed and/or tired/shattered”…and it might be have been true. The problem is the more you say it, the more you reduce your emotional rainbow down to those two negative emotions, and after a while you don’t even bother to think about how you actually feel, you automatically go straight to stressed. You begin to forget that stressed and tired are just temporary states of being, you forget that they do not identify you.

I listened to this being discussed on the Being Boss podcast and their suggestion was to add a positive twist to the end of your automatic reaction; change “I’m so stressed” to “I’m busy but loving it”. I’m not sure that works for every situation, sometimes you are just stressed to all hell. But identifying the bigger picture really can work. This week in particular it’s too reductionist to say “I’m stressed”, instead it could be “I’m so excited for Christmas and I want to get all this work finished before the break”. It’s not “I’m stressed” its “I’ve got a big project and its taking up a lot of my energy”. Or hell, it’s not “I’m stressed” it could even be “I’m great”. Turns out just like complaining about teachers and homework made you cool in high school, being stressed makes you fit in at work.

Motivational quotes on my wall

The Pinterest impact can’t be overlooked either. Now I love a motivational quote, I pin quotes most days and have them all over the walls in my room. The danger is if they stop being little nuggets of lovely and actually start making you feel bad about your life, as if you are not doing it right unless EVERYTHING IS MAGICAL ALL THE TIME.

The funny thing about happiness is that, just like all emotions, it’s on a spectrum. Happiness runs from the tiny things like that first sip of coffee, through the middle ground of planning world domination with friends over wine, right up to the highs of finally having wanderlust satisfied – or my personal highlight this year of seeing my sister marry the love of her life, a moment so happy that it was in another emotion universe entirely. With all the Pinterest-beautiful quotes floating round, I get the impression that it’s only ‘happiness’ if it falls in the top 10% of the spectrum.

You are selling your happiness so so short if you can’t bask in the tiny happy moments that dot your day. That top 10% of social media approved happiness means that apparently 90% of your life is unhappy. That’s just terrifying.

I’m not sure if this post is any better than the wine ramble, but I think what I am trying to say is that this is your life, every second of it is a moment that you won’t get back. Don’t sell yourself short by falling into stressed/tired automatic-reaction trap, or feeling like your little moments of happiness aren’t big enough to count and enjoy. Wake up and think “I get to do this, I can try again and might even find some happy today”, and if that is too hippy dippy for you just remember that today you can buy a coffee and treasure that first sip. The emotions you are feeling are delightfully temporary, the fact that you are amazing is a constant that you need to keep in your heart every day.

Christmas is going to be a hard time for a lot of you reading this, either because you are an expat away from home or you might be home with your family…but your family is a bit cray. Forget that its not THE BEST CHRISTMAS OF ALL TIME, forget for a moment that being unhappy is cool and just enjoy those little moments. Use the silly jumper, the mulled wine and a surprise ‘Merry Christmas’ from a colleague you didn’t think knew you existed to get you through.

So, after all that I have to ask…what makes you happy?



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Adore and Endure

Ok lovelies it’s time for my favourite things post. I was going to write my favourite things about Christmas in London, but its November so screw that I’M NOT JOHN LEWIS. Instead I thought I would write about something unbelievable close to my heart; my favourite things, the weirdos I surround myself with.

A lot is expected of girls these days. We have to be mothers and career driven, effortlessly sexy and comfortingly conservative, we have to have chosen both the red and blue pill in life and smile calmly while swallowing it all. But you know what? Despite it all? The girls are alright.

These beautiful freakish snowflakes that I am honoured to call my friends are being brave every day. They are struggling with made for TV movie type issues, stuff that none of us were prepped to handle. We don’t quite know how to adult yet. We fall apart, in the most explosive and sometimes entertaining ways but always find a way to put ourselves together again. The girls are gracious and humble but can swear like sailor to prove a point or just because saying fuck is fun. They are defensive and challenging and the most thoughtful friends a Runawaykiwi could have.

The girls are emotional but not weak, appreciative but not dependent and by god the girls are funny.

These favourite things of mine are always there, always ready to offer tea/gin/hugs as needed. And if that’s not enough? These girls will create an elaborate murder plot just to make you smile, and the best part is never being quite sure if they would follow through with it or not.

These girls have taken brave steps in their careers, not always the ones you would expect but the ones that are right for them. The girls value happy as much as they do drive and determination.

Friends like these are everything, they are not always right but will stand by your side as you are as wrong as wrong can be. You for sure don’t agree with everything, that would be far too boring. But the differences pail into comparison with the endless support, kindness, strength, friendly bullying, creative spark, love and laughter that are on offer.

I know when I moved to London the thought of making friends seemed like an abstract concept, after all how the hell do you make friends as an adult anyway? Well turns out you start blogging and join twitter, you find girls whose own little bit of madness fits into yours and you send them cat pictures.

Four years ago I was staying in London for my then favourite things; the food, art, culture, grey days and coffee. But now, my god my favourite things are just so much more everything, and most of the time they don’t even charge me to hang out with them.

Love you weirdos, you mean more to me than gin.

And for anyone out there thinking this level of meaningful awesome friendship is unobtainable? That new close friends just aren’t for you? Put yourself out there, find your weirdos…it will change and it will mean everything to you.

Adore and Endure

In my recent flat white post I said I was waiting for it to become legal for me to marry coffee. I got a bit of flak for this from friends who said ‘you can’t marry coffee but don’t worry you will find love soon, you just need to try harder’. Well I will have you know I am trying EXTREMELY hard to find a husband and failing with boundless energy every time.

What have I been doing I hear you ask? Well for starters I am on all the dating apps. And by all I of course mean that I have Tinder. By ‘have Tinder’ I mean that its on the fourth page of apps on my phone and I only use it when drunk with friends who need a laugh, or when watching Game of Thrones (Jon Snow #swoon). I am pretty much the master of Tinder and swipe right for any guy that has a cat in their picture (not a tiger, those tiger pics are whack) or who looks like Doctor Who (9th and 10th Doctors only). Of course when I match with these pussy loving sci-fi lookalikes I don’t talk to them, because you know…who has time for that level of intimacy?

There is also the more IRL tactic of going out to bars. Cliché I know, but some of my most memorable ‘not a date just here trying to avoid talking to anyone why has the gin not arrived yet’ times have been in bars. Its key to have your phone out at all times endlessly scrolling through the magic triptych of Instagram/Twitter/Facebook, just to ensure that no eligible bachelors actually think spontaneously talking to you is a good idea.

Social Life decision making

Since we are in the social media age it would be remiss of me to write a post about finding love in London without talking about online stalking. After you have fallen for a tiny pixelated profile picture on Twitter and chortled at their witty 140 charter repose it might be time to actively proclaim your love and favourite one of their tweets. Just be sure to choose carefully and not favourite a tweet about their childhood dog dying or something…not that any of us would do that right? Right? RIGHT????? Now that you have essentially said you love them by favouriting their non-dying childhood pet tweet it’s time to play the waiting game – after all its surely only time until they propose? Too soon to buy the wedding dress? Just be careful not to re-tweet them as well, don’t want to appear too forward now.

No post about finding love in London would be complete without mentioning the place where Londoners spend 82% of their time, the London Underground. Its a prime dating location because you get a heads-up on all their bad habits before actually speaking to them. Essentially the tube ages all 20 somethings by 40 years, so you get to see the snoring, nail clipping, Sun reading beast that the suited peice of beard sitting opposite you will turn into. Just be careful of the power of underground love, I once nodded to a guy on the central line and I’m now pregnant with his triplets.

Singles nights are ever popular amongst the un-partnered population of London, and for some inexplicable reason most seem to centred around playing ping pong. I mean, I know of many sporting activities that could be described as aphrodisiacs but ping pong is not one of them (anyone who is currently thinking of Thailand please open an incognito tab and take your dirty mind somewhere else). To ensure mating success while playing painfully forced games of ping pong just remember that guys prefer a girl who can beat them in three clean sets, anything else is just foreplay. And of course standard London dating rules apply, if a guy actually tries to be nice to you treat as highly suspicious, keep an eye on your handbag and sidle away as fast as possible.

Keep all of that in mind and you will soon be blissfully in love…are those wedding bells I hear? Oh, just someone wanting to get off the bus…