Making a mess

Making a mess

Ten years ago, something bad happened and I lost most of my closest friendships. I’m forever shocked that I survived the year that followed, and as a person whose body typically reminds me of residual trauma before I bother to look at the calendar, I’ve been apprehensive about living through the anniversary of all of it.

Weirdly, though, thinking back on everything that happened in the context of what’s happening now, I see it as proof that I can live through most things. That year of my life was truly unlivable, and the one after it wasn’t much better. I hated myself and questioned all of my life choices—the bad ones, naturally, but also the ones that looked good on paper. I believed my life was irredeemably bad and, worse, that I deserved it. It was a long time before I recovered from this mindset in any meaningful way. For years, it dictated who I let into my life and how I let them treat me.

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4 lessons in creativity from Julia Child

4 lessons in creativity from Julia Child

I’ve been in a massive COVID slump lately. While my mood has been up and down since March, I’ve recently found it very hard to remain hopeful for more than an hour at a time. I think it’s finally sinking in just how much longer we’re going to be living this way, and I’ve begun thinking more about the longterm impact this is going to have on my life. For much of quarantine, I’ve been able to deny that this whole thing is in any way traumatizing to me, personally. None of my friends or family members have died of COVID-19, I haven’t lost my job, and for the most part I am very good at being alone.

But knowing that my life, or what I thought was my life, won’t exist for another year or so has implications for the future, and it’s been really hard to shake myself from the idea of finality–that this is the thing that will definitively decide which doors are still open to me, and which are closed. Bleak, right? And aside from not being great for my mental health, that sort of fatalistic thinking serves no actual purpose. If I decide I no longer have options, then what? Do I just give up, accept defeat? Stop trying at anything? Lie down on the floor and scream until there’s an effective vaccine? (This option sounds the best, to be honest.)

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Episode 9: Running a Creative Small Business with Jennifer Wiese

Episode 9: Running a Creative Small Business with Jennifer Wiese

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Overview

Today I’m chatting with Jennifer Wiese, founder of Workroom Social, about running a creative small business, authenticity, and the value of hobbies.

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In memory of my cousin, Matt Dore

In memory of my cousin, Matt Dore

My cousin Matt passed away unexpectedly this past week at the age of 26. I’m very much still processing this. The funeral was yesterday, and I was able to say a few words about who Matt was and what made my relationship with him special. Matt was a talented musician and writer who used art to process the things he saw happening in the world, as well as his own experiences. He was unlike anyone else I’ve ever met and likely will ever meet. It’s a devastating loss for our family, in particular Matt’s adoring parents Peg and Steve and his younger brother Michael. I feel fortunate to have had the chance to spend the past few days reflecting on the important role Matt played in my life, and how those of us who loved him can keep his legacy alive. The text below is the result of this reflection.

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Episode 7: Creative Tranquility with Kimberly Wilson

Episode 7: Creative Tranquility with Kimberly Wilson

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Overview

Today I’m chatting with psychotherapist and entrepreneur Kimberly Wilson about her journey as a multipassionate entrepreneur, getting things done while preserving your energy, and making space in your life for regular creative play.

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New Year’s Resolutions 2020

New Year’s Resolutions 2020

I’ve spent the past few days thinking about what I’d like to accomplish in the coming year. A conversation yesterday with Kimberly Wilson, soon to be turned into a new podcast episode, helped me solidify my thinking about the coming year and finally put pen to paper on the following:

1. Do a writing residency/workshop

Over Thanksgiving, my artist Aunt Amy told me about a fellowship she’s planning to apply for at an artist colony near where she and my Uncle Paul live–AND that they also offer similar programs for writers. I’ve been wanting to do something like this for a while–and have long been promising and failing to visit Amy and Paul–so this summer I’ll be doing both by attending a memoir writing workshop.

2. Run a new marathon

I took 2019 more or less off from running after completing the New York Marathon in 2018. It wasn’t intentional; I signed up for a number of races and then ended up being too sick or injured to complete them.

My original goal was to run Chicago in 2020, but after failing to get a bib in the lottery, I’ve decided to run Detroit instead. The race is half in Canada–you have to run with your passport and talk to Border Patrol mid-run. Just the kind of weird shit I’m into, and it’s a flat course! (Props to my mom for telling me about this race!)

3. Publish 12 podcast interviews

I’m deliberately setting this goal low so that it’s achievable. I currently have two episodes recorded to publish by the end of January, along with a third in the works. My goal between now and January 1 is to start emailing the people I reached out to over the summer about interviews so I can get them on my recording calendar for Q1. I finally have energy again after a rough autumn, so I want to make the most of it before I hit another low period (ahem, February, peak SAD season).

4. Publish 20 blog posts

I started to write 24 blog posts–two per month–but something gripped in my chest that told me not to overdo it. Truly, writing five blog posts would be an accomplishment compared with this year. This goal feels like the perfect intersection of manageable and stretchy.

5. Have one essay published

I’m deliberately setting this goal to be super tiny and yet it’s the one that terrifies me the most, possibly because it’s the least within my control. I need this to be the year that I finally start writing and pitching essays (likely creative non-fiction but maybe some more straightforward stuff as well). I have a lengthy list of publications to pitch, so my hope is that one of them will be a home for something I produce in 2020.

6. Live as my alter ego

My alter ego, Élodie Clyde, is American but with the energy of the French Olympic logo:

As I wrote in a recent Instagram post:

I went to an event a few weeks ago where we created alter egos and then went out to a bar in character as them. Since that night I’ve spent so much time thinking about mine. How differently she would navigate relationships, creative practices, finances, her social life. How much less she’d care about what other people think, how she’d never take responsibility for anyone else’s feelings, how much cleaner her apartment would be, how much more comfortable she’d be with other things being messy. The books she’d read, the movies she’d watch, the eyeliner she’d wear. Her insouciance, her last-minute trips abroad, her hours-long dinner parties. A bigger life, but never suffocating.

This is what I’m using to guide my decisions in 2020.

Episode 6: Discovering New Creative Pursuits with Shama Hussain

Episode 6: Discovering New Creative Pursuits with Shama Hussain

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Overview

Today I’m chatting with illustrator Shama Hussain about inspiration, her creative process, and discovering new creative pursuits as an adult.

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Episode 5: Creativity as a Mental Health Practice with Theodora Blanchfield

Episode 5: Creativity as a Mental Health Practice with Theodora Blanchfield

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Overview

Today I’m chatting with writer Theodora Blanchfield about the role creative work has played in her mental health journey. In this candid conversation, Theodora shares what caring for her mental health has meant for her in the aftermath of her mother’s death from cancer and while she’s navigated other challenges including career changes and breakups.

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