Crossovers Vs. Chasms.

By: Jen Shoop

Over the years, I have discovered countless crossovers between my creative habits and my “real life.” For example, I love to apply design thinking to my everyday routines: how might I tinker with my schedule and rituals in order to make my day easier, more comfortable, more organized? I’ve come to perceive quotidian frictions as invitations for improvisation: if I’m always lagging at a certain time of day, or always dreading a particular set of activities or chores, I try to take the time to understand where the angst is coming from and ideate solutions. Some changes I’ve made in years past as a result of these introspections: 1) moving my children’s bath time up to before dinner; 2) implementing and calendaring an every-other-morning running routine to prevent myself from the inevitable get-into-workout-gear-but-then-keep-punting-back-the-run-until-its-five-oclock-and-too-late situation; 3) following (generally) a “one-thing-a-day” rule with my young children to stave off exhaustion and freneticism; 4) mentally conceptualizing chores as part of the architecture of my day versus “things getting in the way of life”; and 5) closing down my computer and all work/writing-related activities ten minutes before our nanny leaves so that I have time to “buffer” and toggle between creative mode and mom mode. There are others, but those have particularly impacted my happiness and overall sense of pace.

I was thinking, though, that one area in which I see much less “crossover” between my creative life and what I’ll call “the real world” is processing time. When I am writing — when I am in a flow, or caught by inspiration — I feel as though a conduit for language whose provenance I cannot discern. The writing pours out of me onto the page. Images and turns of phrase collect on the screen in front of me as though filings to a magnet. The immediacy of the experience can be intense and slightly dizzying. Of course, I know that output is itself the result of years and years of “processing” the stimuli of a very full life, and I also know I routinely go through multiple revisions that could be considered phases of “processing,” but when I am sitting at my desk, writing roundly, the mechanics feel distinctly, almost physically, precipitous. Like a sudden change in high-altitude weather.

In “the real world,” however, I have needed to unlearn, or perhaps “give up,” the sensation. Especially in my roles as a mother and entrepreneur, I have discovered that I need to give myself substantial time to process feedback, ideas, and opportunities. Otherwise, I hear about something and dive right into implementation mode with fully assessing the costs (which, in business, typically materialize in the form of time — e.g., “I could set that new widget up with no clear vision as to what will come of it, or I could spend the afternoon writing”). And in parenting, this might mean trying on a half-baked philosophy that I promptly discard — much to my child’s confusion.

My bias toward action has clearly been conditioned by a lifetime of creative writing, by the kind of seize-the-page mentality I have long cultivated there, but I have learned, these past few years in particular, that acting with urgency is not always a benefit in parenthood or business (or at least in mine). There are, of course, times where it is, but there is often enough runway to at least run a quick analysis. I know this, yet I routinely have to bat away the desire to just jump in.

These insights may be idiosyncratic to my own situation, but I’m curious today about other areas of life in which we’ve found mismatches in orientation. It is common, I think, to look for the echoes, but what about the chasms? What do those deltas teach us? (Writing out loud, I think they can remind us to stay open to nuance versus steamroll over details by replicating what we know in another realm).

Today, I’m curious if you’d be open to sharing something specific that has not “crossed over” between one of the spaces you occupy in your life — professional, parental, academic, athletic, creative, romantic, personal — and another.

What do the ellipses teach us?


+Whether you believe it or not, you are creative.

+If you’re struggling with critical feedback today, you need to read this and remember that often the wolves are less numerous than we think.

+On changing lanes in life.

+A lot of parenthood is tampering with the dials.

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Shopping Break.

+I did end up ordering these green trousers — will style when I receive! — and I had planned to order this striped cardigan but realized I have a very similar one from Toteme so swapped it out for this funky variegated wool one. I have nothing like it in my closet and feel it will go with so many fall colors!

+Urgent: if you love my Marant boots but not the price tag, these are super similar and under $100!

+Can’t stop thinking/wearing/buying chocolate brown. Now on my radar: these ultra-minis and this under-$150 dress. (More chocolate-hued finds here.)

+Grace Farris sent me a copy of this brilliant “mom calendar” that I now have tacked up in our house — it’s brilliant! It has a column for each child/member of the family for each day of the month. So (!) helpful for quickly remembering what’s going on each day of the week, and the stickers are a cute shortcut.

+These jeans were VERY popular with Magpies over the weekend, in this exact “cinema” wash, and are currently 25% off!

+Target just restocked all of its Sugar Paper gift wrap. Trust me, this is infinitely superior to whatever you can find at CVS — much thicker, better quality, and more aesthetically pleasing. I just ordered this trio of wrapping rolls because they *will* sell out closer to the holidays.

+Someone gave me one of these Corksicle mugs awhile ago and I have no idea why but I didn’t use it for a full year and now I’m using it daily for an afternoon tea break. It keeps tea so much warmer for so much longer and I like the rubber padding on the bottom?

+A pretty rectangular tart pan for fall baking with apples. (Reminds me of what you’d find in a French kitchen.)

+Toddler hunter boots, in good colors, on sale!

+I do not need another sweatshirt…I do not. But this keeps finding its way into my cart, especially while on sale…love the neckline and vintage quality!

+Drooling over these sunglasses, but still doing penance for losing designer shades in the past.

+My current front runner for Thanksgiving dinner! Can’t get enough marigold right now, but it’s also pretty in the “rhubarb” colorway.

+Speaking of Julia B., contemplating buying these woven planters for mums on our front stoop. Do we think they’ll stand up to rainy fall weather?

+My daughter has been begging me for “fuzzy socks.” A former nanny of ours gave her this one striped pair that she still squeezes her feet into despite the fact that they fit a three year old (and she’s now six). I ordered her this set of replacements.

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9 thoughts on “Crossovers Vs. Chasms.

  1. In my professional life I’m a radiologist subspecialized in breast cancer detection. When I’m on service I have to be overwhelmingly data driven and algorithmic in every decision I make based on years (decades!!) of research. Those decisions also have to be made in moments, because there is an anxious woman waiting behind the door and every moment spent in indecision feels like an eternity to her.

    In my personal life, the luxury of time and the luxury of subjectivity reign supreme. I love that in my role as a mom, wife, friend, athlete, creative, etc. that I can let my intuition guide me and I can take my time doing it. Like all moms I get 84,000 questions a day from my kids, husband, and family. The ability to say “I’ll think about it and get back to you” or “something seems off about XYZ” is a gift reserved for off-duty Jenny only. No one would tolerate me saying ‘the vibes are off’ at work even though there is a decent amount of intuition in my daily work life….it’s just a quality that can’t be flexed in the same way.

    Honestly, there are many more crossovers than chasms between my worlds, but this is what comes to mind at the prompt.

    1. This is so fascinating – I love this, Jenny. Thanks to you and Sophia for pulling back the curtain on the inner demands of a patient-facing career in medicine. I am sure this is a skill that has been honed over many years of work, interactions with patients, observing reactions, etc! Wow.


  2. Oh, I love this question. I don’t know if I have a specific answer, necessarily – but I am a resident physician. My job requires a good bit of taking charge/confidence/being the one with the answers (or knowing where to find the answers). My husband often says he has a hard time picturing me in that role – but gets glimpses of it when he hears me answer pages at home. He says I “put on my doctor voice.”
    I think I am just not so much that person in my personal life – I am more apt to sit back and let my husband be the “bigger personality” in our friendships often. But I am very comfortable in both spaces, I absolutely adore my job and love the confidence and trust that being a physician affords me. Neither is me putting on airs or faking it! I feel like I can toggle back and forth, and I feel both are “the real me,” just different iterations.

    1. Hi Sophia! This is fascinating, and I can completely see how this would be the case. We have a close friend who is just the most easy-going, affable guy — would never talk over or diminish or boss around anyone! — but he is also a sailor, and when he captains a boat, he puts on “boat voice” and toggles into authority mode. So interesting how you can cultivate certain “tones” or “facets” of yourself in specific spaces.

      Thanks for sharing this!


  3. I’ve debated those gorgeous planters too, but hesitated for same reason. The product description and photos also do not include details of the interior though they do not appear lined. Wish Pottery Barn would allow for reviews to be left. That would be so helpful with purchasing decisions.

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