Enjoying the Shade.

By: Jen Shoop
"Plants and animals don’t fight the winter; they don’t pretend it’s not happening and attempt to carry on living the same lives they lived in the summer. They prepare. They adapt." - Kate May

*Image via.

My husband has been hardening off the seedlings he nurtured under grow lights in our basement, preparing them for transplantation in soil. The first few days, he’d place them outside under the shade of our covered patio each morning, bringing them in later in the day. Slowly, he increased the duration of these outdoor sessions from a few hours to an entire day, and then he began exposing them to direct sunlight, too. The idea is that you are acclimating the tender seedlings to the occasionally harsh conditions of the natural world, hence “hardening them off.”

Awhile ago, I read an essay where a woman shared that, during her menstrual cycle, she “takes care of herself as though she is sick,” not always because of the physical symptoms but also because of the hormonal, emotional ones. She puts herself to bed early, takes long rests, moves slowly. When I first read this, I was slightly put off by the pathologization of a very natural part of the female experience, but I haven’t been able to brush off the concept. Sometimes I feel that there are no sound, natural-seeming analogies, or models, for self-care, and here is one with obvious, literal applications. Take care of yourself as though you are sick. I think of it often, and not just as it pertains to the use case she presented. My husband’s ministrations to those seedlings — the way he sheltered them when they needed to be, and let them out in the sunshine when they could stand it, honoring their tolerances — also resonates.

This past week, I was out of sorts. I sat down at my desk a few days into my funk and decided that instead of railing against or ignoring the way I was feeling, I would accommodate it, and I would do so by “taking care of myself as though I was sick,” and by placing myself in the shade.

In her book Wintering, Kate May wrote:

“Plants and animals don’t fight the winter; they don’t pretend it’s not happening and attempt to carry on living the same lives they lived in the summer. They prepare. They adapt.”

-Kate May

I, too, was preparing and adapting. I wrote at the top of my planner for the week:


Every time I’d sit at my desk, I’d see those words in my small blocky handwriting, and I’d relax a little bit. I am a disciplined person, but I consciously let myself off the hook in different ways these past few days. I took a really long walk with my dog when I should have been sitting at my desk. Mornings are my most productive time for writing, but I forfeited the opportunity in favor of quiet time alone. I sat with my kids while they colored, and I resisted the urge to tidy or tackle a to-do. I put myself to bed at 9 p.m., if not earlier, multiple nights in a row. I went for a run and wasn’t feeling it, so I stopped and walked the last mile. I took long showers. I moved slowly.

I normally find these accommodations excruciating, small admissions of failure. This week, though, I put up an umbrella marked WINTERING / WELLNESS and enjoyed the shade. I’ll be ready for the sun next week.


+This is really a permutation — a more physically-oriented one — of “giving yourself a soft landing when you need it.”


+More on the concept of wintering.

+On “withdrawing” during early motherhood.

Shopping Break.

+Saks is running an insane private sale on some designers I rarely see marked down, including Oscar de la Renta, CO, Chloe, and more, but apparently you can only access it if you are an email subscriber? Check your inboxes and/or try the code SAKSALE. All my top picks here.

+P.S.A. that my new scalloped towels are currently 25% off with code CALM.

+Blair Eadie just launched the punchiest collab with Tuckernuck! Adore this bold caftan and these statement earrings.

+Saw this Celine bag and immediately emailed it to my husband after telling him “I don’t need a birthday gift this year.”

+Hoping this promo will still be live this morning — but picasso tiles, 50% off! They are interchangeable with Magnatiles in case you’re worried about mixing brands. We have sets of both that work great together. My kids still LOVE these and play with them all the time.

+Sofia Richie vibes.

+This sandal is actually perfect.

+Into these cute little swim skirts.

+Doen is also running a little sale at the moment. I LOVE this dress and this one is $149!

+Your daughter needs these goggles.

+Luli and Me just does the sweetest pieces for littles. I adore this one!

+This embroidered dress is a front-runner for a special event I have at the end of the summer. I love yellow!

+Pretty lilac mugs.

+A great-looking pair of comfortable trousers.

+Currently lusting after a Rue de Verneuil tote. Also love this tan striped variation.

+An unexpected, FABULOUS dress for a bride.

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5 thoughts on “Enjoying the Shade.

  1. This is my third of fourth nudge to check out the book Wintering, I love the concept. I don’t see a woman tending to herself during menstruation as pathologizing a natural part of being female; I see our Patriarchal culture as pathological. It’s our culture that insists women’s needs (physical, emotional, and otherwise) should be invisible. It’s our (toxic) culture that insists we are productivity machines vs. animals who need rest, as all animals do. I once read that men’s hormones cycles are daily (like the sun) and women’s are monthly (like the moon). So the fact that our world is set up for us to do the same thing five days a week every single weekday of the month naturally benefits males, as so much in a patriarchy does.

  2. I am obsessed with the “Wintering” book. It has moved me in ways I can’t explain but at 68 I feel myself changed. Drop whatever you’re reading and buy this book. Maybe hold off and read it in the Fall to prepare yourself for Winter, as nature does!

    1. I’m so glad to hear this. Love books that redirect this way! I’ve read chunks of it and read her second book, “Enchantment,” but you’re making me want to listen to “Wintering” in its entirety. Thank you!


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