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A year of reflections

The balloons hadn’t even fully deflated after 2020’s Love Back Ball before we started planning for our 2021 event. A month later, the WHO declared a global pandemic and the course of history changed forever. A month after we filled the Stotesbury Mansion with smiles and music and friends that felt like family, we switched gears entirely. All our Giveadelphia meetings went virtual, our expectations went out the window, and we pivoted like we’ve never pivoted before. As a group who thrives on togetherness, we were suddenly isolated and, despite the wonders of technology, that was certainly challenging for all of us.

We weren’t alone there. Over the past year, the entire landscape of how we work, play, socialize, communicate, and even celebrate has been ever-changing, and we’ve learned a lot along the way. Though there were days where life under lockdown felt too quiet, too repetitive, too lonely, we adapted. Over lengthy Zoom calls we recognized that we were all going through similar feelings, and we found ways to bond virtually, eventually finding opportunities to gather outdoors and see each other from afar.

As we wrap up an entire year of life in a pandemic, the team wanted to share a few things we’ve each learned.. Some are lighthearted and some are deep but, as you read through each, we hope you feel a little less alone. We can’t wait to see you, either outside or online, at this year’s Love Back Ball.


This year has made me realize that I am horrible at down time and relaxing, which I have worked to improve over the past few months. I learned to take things as they come - day by day, if you will. We can't control the things we can't control, so it's best to make the best of each day or situation, and just take care of yourself as you need to. I also learned that sleep and exercise do indeed play an important role in my productivity and overall mental health. I also learned how to make some great little desserts!


This year, I learned that it's 100% ok to do less -- whether that's work, personal / family obligations, smaller communication with other humans -- it's always worthwhile to take a pause, especially in the conscious/subconscious processing that we have been doing for a year.


This year I learned to further appreciate the sacrifices that my mom, friends, and all other healthcare workers have made not just in 2020 but throughout their entire careers. I’ve also learned the importance of being kind to myself, and that it’s okay to celebrate small victories.


While this didn't exactly surprise me, I learned that my ability to thrive largely depends on being active. I was borderline paralyzed the first few weeks of the pandemic lockdown, constantly doom scrolling, looking at old photos, feeling sorry for myself, and binging Netflix. I slept terribly, I was in a foul mood all the time. It was not great.

It took a firm decision to get up and take walks in the morning, carve out time for at-home fitness, visit parks, and move my body for me to feel even close to myself. But I also learned how adaptable the Philly fitness community is. From outdoor classes to Zoom coaching, body weight modifications to creative uses of backpacks and towels, I was able to stay strong physically and, in doing so, fortify myself mentally. I'll never take access to a real set of weights or a high-octane workout class with IRL instruction again.


I've learned that in a constantly evolving virtual world, nothing can replace genuine in-person human interaction. I also learned how important it is to disconnect from your computer screen and allow your dog to take you on long walks.


The pandemic has truly brought to the surface the huge divide in the American public's acceptance of science. The number of those who rebuke science is mind boggling, and brings into question how our school systems have failed so many.

On a personal level, I have learned that I can adapt my active, social lifestyle to fit into the camera of my computer for Zoom calls. Caution has overtaken my normal willingness to take risks and try new things. I’m looking forward to getting back to the old me.


I have learned that staying busy and maintaining routines are important, but sometimes taking a step back to slow down and appreciate what you have in front of you, can be much more important. Everyone has their own 2020 story to tell and it's important that we value everyone's perspectives.


The number one thing that I learned during (or because of) COVID, is how busy I was. Since I was 16, I've packed my days to barely ever have breathing room, working at most 4 jobs and never less than 2. And in between, being out or exercising with friends with any free time that I had. And I loved it. I am the quintessential doer and working my brain and body in different ways throughout the week is how I felt my best. Until I realized that actually, I didn't. I was waking up to coach a 5:30AM class regularly, working my "real" job during the day, and ending my evening with hours spent across Giveadelphia and my consulting role through Matchstick Marketing. Meeting up for drinks with friends and rolling in back home anywhere between 7PM and 10PM. Okay... 11PM.

When the world closed its doors in March 2020, all of the sudden the only thing I was responsible for was my full-time job. I had two things to do - be home and go to work at home. And then all of the sudden, my body and brain crashed. I mean literally took a nose dive and somewhere at the bottom they both said "THANK GOD" and "we can rest now." I realized that so much of myself was actually in survival mode.

So after a long (long) hiatus, I assessed where I was and either reintroduced things back into my life or removed them entirely. Things were different, and they still are. The difference between want and need has never been so obvious, and I couldn't be more grateful for the maturation I have experienced because of that time.


I learned a lot about anti-racism versus being “color blind” & how skewed our American systems are. I am working on becoming a better ally.

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