Sara Elise has made a name for herself as a multi-hypenate creative who is dedicated to living a fruitful life filled with pleasure. Describing herself as a “pleasure doula,” she lives this life with the help of holistic wellness, BDSM kink play, and by prioritizing the search for joy. These concepts, specifically, the idea of living abundantly, are the thesis of her recently released self-help book, A Recipe For More.
Long before she wrote it, she lived a life filled with pressure. Elise started out as an investment banker after business school, doing what was suggested by her parents as a path to what many consider to be success. However, the world of investment banking brought her nothing but stress.
“I realized how wildly unhappy and unfulfilled I was,” she says. “That just made me question everything and think about why I had never considered happiness or fulfillment before, and why many of us don’t consider happiness or fulfillment — or even beyond happiness, why I hadn’t considered wholeness or fulfillment before.”
The things she questioned included the industry she worked in that has historically been oppressive to marginalized communities, the overall nonstop productivity forced upon her by capitalism, and her interests outside of work altogether. Thus began her slow journey into seeking out a new way to live. She left behind her investment banking career and started to lean into the idea of exploring her interests in the culinary, hospitality, and wellness spaces.
“That launched me into the creation of my catering company. And then in my catering company, I just began to dive even deeper into not just food, but holistic wellness and thinking about how every aspect of what we consume influences our lives. So it kind of just became a natural progression for me,” says Elise.
After her career pivot, she started sharing more of her experiences and thought processes with others regarding the importance of doing life differently. In addition to a growing love of holistic wellness, she also opened up about her autism diagnosis and queerness. Soon enough, many people in her circle asked to “pick her brain” about these topics and many others could relate. She found herself offering what she refers to as “wellness coaching” to help guide people in holistic healing so that they can feel better in their lives. Through her work, Elise offers clients more hands-on, solution-based, supportive approaches. She does wellness coaching sessions with clients who often find her from various speaking engagements or through her website and social media presence.
One of the biggest aspects of her work is helping fellow queer people working through their identities and relationship to themselves, which can be difficult for anyone but especially those whose very existence is at odds with dominant culture. “As a member of the LGBTQIA2S+ community, wellness coaching has been a meaningful offering that I’ve been able to provide for folks looking to integrate all aspects of their identity into their life. The foundational structure of my coaching is based in holistic wellness and supporting people in living a full and free life, which is hard to do when you feel like you’re stifling different aspects of who you are.”
The purpose of Sara Elise’s work with her clients, and A Recipe For More, is to give everyone the tools to live their lives with their own vision of joy in mind, all while prioritizing rest. She points out that under cis-hetero patriarchy, the life path set out of 40+ hour work weeks, heterosexual nuclear families, depending on western medicine, and simply living just to get by does not work for everyone. If this path doesn’t work, thinking of other ways to experience life, including connection and community, is a valuable option. One way to do this is by having closer relationships with friends.
At the end of the book, Elise hosts a roundtable with some of her closest friends. The topic of discussion is queer friendship. Queerness is not just about who you engage with romantically, but also about operating outside of cis-hetero rules to gain richer connections with others. Friends are often seen as less important than blood family or romantic relationships by dominant society, but the author and her friends discuss how everyone can change this by making deeper bonds with their friend groups.
“I think my friends and I were able to get to that place very naturally because of the types of foundations that we’ve been building together, which are based on showing up and supporting each other, consistently committing to each other, shared experiences and radical honesty. Another one would be communicating through conflict,” she says. “But I think the effortless communication of just being able to send a photo or a sound or a little gift without having to say much is because we’ve put so much effort into building a foundation that feels really secure.”
When asked what Sara Elise hopes are for herself and the future of other Black, Indigenous, queer folks, she says it’s all about going about every day differently, choosing ease.
“My biggest hope is that we can all create the lives that we want for ourselves that are filled with rest and pleasure and joy and connection without having to always prove ourselves,” says Elise. “I think that’s the ultimate freedom when we can have those things and that type of fulfillment without always feeling like we have to do something outside of ourselves to get there.”
When asked what she does that brings her joy, Elise mentions her Substack newsletter, where she can create and produce labor on her own terms without having to worry about turning a profit to live, and perusing the city of New York. She immerses herself in both things these days, particularly the latter at this time of year.
“I always just love the change of season, this spring to summer shift in New York. ‘Cause I am a New York super fan, so I’ve just really been enjoying being out and walking around the streets of Brooklyn and going to the parks and walking around the city, ” she says. “It’s just like seeing all the trees moving and all the flowers and folks being out and celebrating. There was a dance party at the park by my house yesterday. I love seeing the city come alive again, as it always does this time of year. It’s always very inspiring for me. Brings me a lot of joy.”