“I came to New York on a bus in 1987 with an L.L. Bean bag and no money,” said Dorinda Medley, the flashy entrepreneur who has run a cashmere company, created an exercise regimen and most notably, achieved reality television stardom with Bravo’s “Real Housewives of New York City.” She left the show, after six seasons, in 2020.
This month, she can add author to her list of accomplishments with “Make It Nice,” a memoir that chronicles her upbringing in the Berkshires, marriage and motherhood in New York and London, and her return to the region of her childhood to renovate Blue Stone Manor, an estate in Great Barrington, Mass.
Ms. Medley, 56, lives alone on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Her daughter Hannah, 27, also lives in Manhattan.
EARLY, SLOW START I believe in sleep. It’s important for letting your body heal. I wake up naturally around 6 a.m. Morning is a holy spiritual time for me. Whatever questions I have are when resolutions come. It’s when I’m at my best. I’m not a good night thinker. I get scared or overwhelmed. The minute I’m on my phone it disconnects me from that thinking, so I try and disconnect from my devices, which I don’t sleep with. I drink a glass of warm water with lemon. I like to slowly activate my digestive system. I roll out my yoga mat and do stretches.
CARBS, FRESH AIR I throw on casual clothes and I go to Eli’s on 87th Street and Lexington for a coffee with milk and a croissant with tons of jam. I don’t eat any of that stuff during the week. I’m working out and on Nutrisystem. I sit at the window and talk to the girl at the cash register. I know the cast of characters in my neighborhood. Then I enter the park at 86th Street and walk the reservoir twice. This is a New Yorker’s playground. No one from Jersey is walking the park at 7:30.
STOP THE WORLD Back home I shower and dress for church. I take a cab to the Church of the Blessed Sacrament on West 71st Street and make the Mass at 10:30. I like routine. I grew up going to church, it reminds me of my childhood. Some meditate, for me it’s a place to stop the world. It makes me feel I’m part of something positive. I always feel there’s a message in the main reading for me. Afterward I light a candle with my friend James. I do one for my parents and one for Hannah. Then we grab a coffee at Épicerie Boulud near Lincoln Center and talk about our lives.
SAUCY IN SOHO I touch base with Hannah around 1. She’s usually with her boyfriend who works really hard during the week, so they’re together on the weekends. I let her know she can join me if she wants. If she doesn’t bite I call my best friend, Mona. She’s up for anything and says yes before I finish saying, “Do you want to go —” We venture downtown to SoHo. I’m a member of SoHo House and it’s one of the few places to get a traditional British brunch with all the foods I miss from my days living in London. They have HP sauce, that’s like a brown steak sauce which you can put on anything, sausage and eggs, baked beans, carved roast beef, scones and clotted cream. SoHo is a mishmash of people and everyone is so alive. It reminds me that the city is coming back.
TREASURE HUNTS I love Restoration Hardware on Ninth Avenue, it’s like a pretend world I’m going to someday live in. I always stop by Cloak & Dagger. I love to find a treasure — a vintage Chanel belt or a Pappagallo purse. I love finding wacky things because I’m a little wacky. If I don’t go shopping I might work in a museum visit at the Met or MoMA. My favorite right now: the Mignone Halls of Gems at the American Museum of History. By 5 or 5:30 I drop off Mona and go back home to nest and putter around. Covid made me incredibly anxious about the unknown. I learned to lean into it and accept the day to day.
GOOD FORTUNE I order Chinese: sesame noodles and chicken and broccoli with cashews and brown rice. You know Sunday is over when you break open that fortune cookie. I often get the one that says, ‘You’ll be favored in good places.’ It’s optimistic. I like to be favored. And I like to be in good places.
INSPIRATION I don’t have a TV in any room except my bedroom. It’s my friend on Sunday night. I just watched “The Cook of Castamar” on Netflix, which I loved. I love to cook. The show makes an analogy: cooking with good ingredients for a good meal means a good life. I’m at a point where I’m planning a good meal for myself. It’s not the mistakes that matter but how you transform out of them.
Sunday Routine readers can follow Dorinda Medley on Instagram or Twitter at @dorindamedley.