Élodie Clyde makes a perfect Negroni. On Sunday nights, she draws a lavender-scented bath, lights some candles, and soaks until the water begins to cool, rereading The Dud Avocado or The Golden Notebook. She always has champagne in the fridge, which she serves only when warranted, and in an assortment of mismatched antique teacups. Clad in a series of caftans, she hosts hours-long dinner parties that begin with elaborate spreads from Sahadi’s and end with a range of digestifs and board games. Her closet is filled with Ulla Johnson dresses and confusing t-shirts from Parisian concept stores. Élodie cares about other people’s feelings, but just enough; she never takes responsibility for them. Her life is big, but never suffocating.
At the beginning of this month, I started Tiffany Han‘s Raise Your Hand Say Yes Inner Circle, a yearlong course in changing your life. That’s not how Tiffany frames it, really, but this is the second time I’ve done the Inner Circle and that’s the most succinct and accurate thing I can say about it. As I write this, I find myself mourning the fact that we’re already one-twelfth of the way through this cycle.
I was asked to write this list for a class I’m taking today, or a class I would be taking today but will now be watching a recording of on Sunday as I got a late invite to a(n outdoor, distanced, masked) wedding.
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.
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.)
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.
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.