My friend Elana has the very good idea that February 1st should be considered the official start of the new year. I’m into it, which means that this past month has really just been practice. So as we enter 2021, I’m hopeful that things will start trending for the better: friends and family slowly getting vaccinated, winter inching steadily toward spring, and our our government becoming a bit more functional.
And despite the glimmers of light at the end of the tunnel, it’s still a long tunnel. Maybe that’s why I’ve been thinking a lot about joy lately, and wanting to pile as much as possible of it into the days. If there’s ever been a time to double down on the things and people that give you joy and energy, now is it.
Here’s some of what is giving me joy right now:
A newsletter I look forward to each week: Every week, the single most forwarded thing in my gmail is Aminatou Sow‘s newsletter, which she accurately describes as, “the best of the best in your inbox, each week.” I’m in awe of her many-layered insights on culture, and her links invariably lead me down welcome rabbitholes, like this Alexis Coe post about what Ron Chernow glossed over/got wrong in Hamilton.
A dream collab for a wonderful cause: I’ve been an East Fork devotee for many moons, and continue to be impressed by their sharp, authentic brand voice and why-would-I-use-anything-else pottery. Their Everyday Bowls make me happy every time I use them — which is literally every day, and sometimes more than once! Now they’ve teamed up with Samin Nosrat, author of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat and seemingly the loveliest person in the universe, to produce Pinto, a gorgeous limited edition glaze. I just got a Mug in Pinto and it’s a dreamy, rich pinky-brown shade that I love even more in person. Plus 10% of the sales of the collaboration are going to Oakland’s Acta Non Verba: Youth Urban Farm Project. Use code MOLLIECHEN for 10% off your order.
An anthology for right now: I didn’t know what to expect when I picked up Black Futures, the stunning new anthology from Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham. I’ve followed and admired them both separately and their joint project — created to address the question, “What does it mean to be Black and alive right now?” — is stunning, wide-ranging, thought-provoking, all of the things. I love their invitation to explore out of order, with a device nearby so you can discover new voices, artists, and perspectives. It’s a book everyone should own, and not just to sit on a coffee table.
Sweatshirts that don’t make me feel like I gave up: Between the cold temps and the fact that anything I wear inevitably gets smeared with yogurt, I’ve been living in sweatshirts. Thankfully, I just picked up this cropped number from Mate, a Cali cool line that is focused on non-toxic, organic, and more sustainable clothing. I love their shapes and colors, and will be stocking up on more comfy-but-cute staples soon (also intrigued by their new activewear line!).
Fancy-pants sheets: The other night I was zoom-ing with two dear friends who both have impeccable taste (hi Nan, hi Susan) and somehow we got on the subject of important pandemic upgrades, including linen sheets. They sold me, and I impulse bought a set from Parachute. They felt like an absurd indulgence but I can tell you that every time I get in bed I wiggle my toes and stretch out luxuriously, as if I were in a fancy hotel room.
Embracing the slow lane: I used to be a fast reader, but these days I get through books 15 pages at a time. While it puts a lot of pressure on the books I choose, I am finding that I savor them more. I just finished James McBride’s Deacon King King, a chaotic and wonderful novel set in 1960s Brooklyn, filled with indelible characters with names like “Hot Sausage” and “The Elephant.” I’m also in love with Braiding Sweetgrass, a collection of essays by Robin Wall Kimmerer. As a plant ecologist and enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Kimmerer provides a beautiful and visceral lens on the world. I’ve been dipping in and out of the book and it’s been a calming, grounding escape — and makes me doubly committed to starting a garden with Lilly this spring.
Monthly deliveries of empathy: I recently connected with Brittany Murlas, the founder of Little Feminist, a startup aimed at bringing kids diverse books. I love the mission and the product: We have a subscription for Lilly and every month we receive a new book, along with a helpful reading guide and fun activity. The latest arrival, My Footprints, addresses some of the many ways we can feel “other” and is also just a beautiful story about a girl playing with her parents in the snow. They also have their own line of books, including We are Little Feminists: Families, which recently won a huge American Library Association award.
Better fitting masks: With the new virus variants, Rob and I are rethinking our mask strategy. While I still like Baggu’s fabric masks, we are now wearing KN95 masks whenever we are going to be inside for more than a few minutes (i.e. grocery shopping) and I’ve switched to evolvetogether’s three-ply medical masks for out-and-about wear. They are FDA registered and very similar to a regular medical mask but seem to fit better and have a softer inner layer (hypoallergenic and latex-free). Plus, honestly I like the dark green and the fact that they comes with a mask keeper.
Truly delightful diapers: Since May, I’ve been consulting on brand and marketing with Coterie, an incredible startup that’s built the best-performing diaper on the market. We’ve been using them for nine months and in that same time Finn hasn’t had a single diaper rash. I’m winding down the project and a) can’t imagine using another diaper (they’re the most absorbent, fastest wicking, and ridiculously soft) and b) can’t wait to see where the brand goes from here. Feel free to use code COTERIEMOLLIE for $20 off your first order $75+.
Finally, since tomorrow is the official first day of 2021, here are some of my non-resolutions: Reclaim cooking as something that makes me happy versus just another chore; take the kids to the playground in the evenings, early sunset and cold weather be damned; and fall asleep to books, not Twitter or Instagram.