Musings + Essays

Getting to Know You.

By: Jen Shoop

OK, you all know me well.  Maybe a little too well?  But below are some fun questions that I thought I’d answer that might add a little contour or color to the portrait you have of me (maybe the one who is empathic but occasionally fussy over unimportant things?) and – would you respond to all or several of them in the comments?  I want to know you, too.

Dream dinner guests (dead or alive).  Nora Ephron, Tina Fey, Gertrude Stein, Joan Didion, my sisters, and Mr. Magpie.

Pen or Pencil.  Pen, but only if with ultra-fine tip.

Go-to cocktail order.  Tom Collins with Hendricks gin.

Go-to coffee order.  Latte with oat milk, preferably from Blue Bottle.

First thing I do in the morning.  Gauge how urgently mini/micro need me and attempt to squeeze in one or two extra minutes of sleep.

Last thing I do at night.  Say a prayer and turn on the TV sleep timer.

Favorite vegetable.  Broccoli rabe.

Least favorite vegetable.  This will ruffle some feathers: asparagus.  I tolerate it.

Favorite fruit.  Mango. 

Least favorite fruit.  Orange.  Love it in cocktails, but would never sit down and peel an orange to eat.

Favorite time of day. Morning — always streaked with promise, and usually highly conducive to creativity.

Inspired by… People who can communicate an opinion without stepping on those of others.  People who are open-minded.  People who know themselves. 

Desert island book.  Circe.  It has everything: romance, motherhood, power struggles, character development, black magic, family drama, and – it is extraordinarily beautifully written. Much of it also takes place in exile, so I might relate to that tangent were I marooned on an island.

Favorite movie.  When Harry Met Sally, Sabrina (the new one with Harrison Ford – I know that’s a hot take, but it is perfect), As Good As It Gets (best script ever), Best in Show.

Biggest bugaboo.  Rudeness of any kind.

Daily uniform.  Don’t have one!  I dress for my mood.  But!  I shared my current favorites here.

Last Amazon order.  Paint, paintbrushes, and a smock so mini can paint a Halloween pumpkin, and also these barber shears because Mr. Magpie has been using my mini Revlon scissors to trim his beard.

Superpower.  I have incredible focus.  But if we’re talking a superpower I’d like – time travel.  Not so much to go back/forth in history but so that I could pop down to D.C. to see my mom whenever I’d like to without the hassle of traveling.

Mantra.  One step at a time.  When I’m frenzied: Focus on me, not on the storm.  When I’m playing the dangerous game of comparing myself to other moms: good for you, not for me (filched from Amy Poehler).  When I’m losing patience as a mother: “power through with love” (quote from a Magpie reader). With regards to everything else, the potentially apocryphal quote attributed to Michael Jordan: “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t make.” (In other words, just do the thing. Try.)

Proudest achievement. My marriage with my husband. Achievement’s not the right word, but — it’s what I’m most proud of in this life, followed immediately after by my children. On a more tangible note, I’m deeply proud of a 20 minute “Ted-talk” I gave in front of 400 people back when I was Chief Innovation Officer at a start-up non-profit focused on improving the financial wellness of low-income youth in Chicago. I was scared to death, but I worked with a speech coach to design a killer presentation. Just two days before I was set to deliver it, I suffered a tremendous personal loss and was sick with grief. I didn’t know if I’d be able to pony up the strength to give the talk I needed to give. But I walked out on that stage and nailed it. Mr. Magpie was in the audience and had a hard time keeping it together when I saw him just after — that’s how I knew I’d done a good job.

Guilty pleasure. Weekly manicures and gummy candy.

What I wish I could tell myself ten years ago. Hang on to your hat. And also: God is good.

What I wish I could tell myself twenty years ago. Travel, explore, tinker. Have faith. Also, wear a bikini as often as possible. Your body will never look this good again.

Happy place. Aspen, Colorado.

Go-to Chinese order. Dan-dan noodles and dry pepper style chicken.

Favorite quote. Far too many. But I have been returning lately to this quote from Teddy Roosevelt after hearing an excerpt of it in the Brene Brown special a couple months back:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Please, Magpies, pick one or several or all of the questions above and share your responses! I’m especially curious to hear about your mantras.

Post Scripts.

+Dream school pick-up look: this cardigan, these jeans, and these flats.

+This elegant Gucci scarf is on my wishlist for fall.

+Just bought this.

+Another great snakeskin boot option (under $200).

+It’s been a minute since I raved about my favorite joggers: these. Have been living in them at home. SO SOFT. And they have pockets — a mother’s best friend.

+Have been leaning hard into this magical tincture during this busy and exhausting time in our lives. It’s like applying an Instagram filter to your face! I’ve gotten a couple of questions about how I use this — I usually apply it on top of my tinted moisturizer to my under-eye/cheekbone area and down my nose. It brightens and softens and blurs everything.

+Perfect rehearsal dinner dress.

+Love these precious Halloween treat tags. Mini’s school does not permit sweets of any kind so my dreams of sending her in with these have been dashed. Should I just send little baggies of goldfish or pretzels!? Now I’m scared!

+Love this sweater.

+This is just the best brush. I’ve used it for myself for years and now use it for mini. It grabs all her fine little hairs and detangles like a dream. A splurge, but she’ll have it for life.

+Looking for some good Halloween books for mini. She loved Room on the Broom last year. This one? Or this one? Any suggestions?

+Love this dresser for a little boy’s room.

+The best shampoo and conditioner, in my humble opinion.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *.

71 thoughts on “Getting to Know You.

  1. New reader and catching up on all of these great posts! : )

    Dream dinner guests (dead or alive): Ina Garten, Nora Ephron, and my extended family including those that are no longer with us.

    Pen or Pencil: Pen, but needs to be ballpoint because I am left handed and smear ink often when writing quickly.

    Go-to cocktail order: Tequila gimlet or a glass of good champagne.

    Go-to coffee order: Light ice with oat milk. Always iced.

    First thing I do in the morning: Either tend to my son who has woken me up or marvel at the fact that he slept through the night and it is the alarm that is waking me up.

    Last thing I do at night: Say prayers and read a few pages from one of the several books on my nightstand.

    Favorite vegetable: Oven roasted brussel sprouts.

    Least favorite vegetable: I am with you! I am not an asparagus fan!

    Favorite fruit: Watermelon

    Least favorite fruit: Melon! There is an inside joke in our household about always avoiding the melon.

    Favorite time of day: I have become a morning person lately and I am learning to love the quiet time that comes with the start of a new day.

    Inspired by… genuine and thoughtful people, Central Park, and my son

    Desert island book: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Brideshead Revisited

    Favorite movie: When Harry Met Sally. This was also my answer in 4th grade when Mrs. Wall had us fill out our “Get to know you apple”.

    Biggest bugaboo: Airport travel inefficiencies. On a more serious note, unkindness.

    Daily uniform: Linen shirt, white jeans, and loafers when I am out and about. I have developed a habit of immediately changing into what I have dubbed my “house shorts” (grey knit pajama bottoms) when I return home from running errands. I enjoy getting dressed every morning and am not into athleisure but somehow my house shorts are here to stay.

    Last Amazon order: Furniture pads for our dining table chairs, cedar closet blocks, and vacuum storage bags!!!

    Superpower: Song lyric memorization.

    Mantra: Love you more. It is what my mom and I have said to each other since I was a child and I now say it to my son, husband, family, and friends.

    Proudest achievement: My 5-month-old son! He was born in April at the height of the pandemic and he is the greatest blessing and such a wonderful reminder that there is so much love in the world.

    Guilty pleasure: I make chocolate chip cookies on average three times a week.

    What I wish I could tell myself ten years ago: You do not have to be defined by your first job, you never have to wear low-rise anything, and you will find a boyfriend eventually I promise. Also, it won’t be easy, but it will be ok and so so worth it.

    Happy place: Whenever and wherever I am able to ski. Skiing is my favorite pastime and brings me so much joy.

    Go-to Chinese order: Spring rolls, sesame chicken, chicken and broccoli, orange chicken….if you have ever seen Two Weeks Notice, I am Sandra Bullock’s character ordering Chinese food in the beginning of the film.

    Favorite quote: The Irish Blessing that was very present in my Nana’s homes growing up.
    May the road rise to meet you,
    May the wind be always at your back,
    May the sun shine warm upon your face,
    The rains fall soft upon your fields and,
    Until we meet again,
    May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

    1. Hannah! I absolutely love these little glimpses into your life and your rich personality. I am struck by how similar we are! I loved all of this. Also, viva la house shorts! HAHA!

  2. I’ve probably been reading your blog for more than a year, and I’m late to this party… but thought it would be fun! (Thanks for linking from your more recent getting to know you post!)

    Dream dinner guests (dead or alive): My grandparents. I wish I had recorded more of their stories in writing, especially their stories of the war. My family, because my parents and brothers and their families/kids live in different parts of the world and we don’t get together often enough. I’d also love Michelle Obama, but I might be too overwhelmed to speak or eat! Ellen Degeneres, because what’s a dinner party without laughter? (but if she can’t make it, one of my brothers ALWAYS makes us laugh)

    Pen or Pencil: Pen! I used to have a Waterman fountain pen and was so sad when I lost it.

    Go-to cocktail order: I can’t drink — my body just doesn’t tolerate it or metabolize it well and it makes me feel terrible. I enjoy using wine/liqueur in cooking and baking though. I do love a mocktail of ginger ale, cranberry juice, pineapple juice, lime, and sparkling water. I once sat at a bar with my husband and asked the bartender to surprise me with a mocktail, and this is what he made — and I loved it.

    Go-to coffee order: Cafe breve, if the place has it (it has steamed half and half instead of steamed milk)

    First thing I do in the morning: Try to snooze! I have just never been a morning person.

    Last thing I do at night. Slather on Aveda foot cream and put socks on.

    Favorite vegetable: Brussels sprouts, roasted.

    Least favorite vegetable: bitter gourd (also called bitter melon)

    Favorite fruit. Mango – but they have to be mangoes from the Philippines. Period.

    Least favorite fruit: Raspberries. Something about the seeds and how they turn mushy so quickly… ?

    Favorite time of day: Late morning, after the busy-ness of the earlier part of the morning, when I get to sit down by myself with a cup of tea (loose tea, always), and actually savor it while it’s hot.

    Inspired by… people who are kind and compassionate. People who use their success/power/position to lift others up. People who advocate for and do something tangible to support and better the lives of those in vulnerable populations.

    Desert island book: Probably something fun and escapist like the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy. But that’s 3 books so it may be cheating 😉

    Favorite movie: These are so varied — Serendipity, You’ve Got Mail, Roman Holiday, Shawshank Redemption, Marley and Me

    Biggest bugaboo. Arrogance.

    Daily uniform: Jeans (Madewell high-rise denim is life-changing), sweater, sneaks (toddler mom!). But sometimes I’ll put on a sweater dress or midi dress with ankle boots in the fall/winter, or a summer dress in the warmer months.

    Last Amazon order: BabyBjorn toilet seat. Wish us luck.

    Superpower. I’ll copycat you and answer with a superpower I would like to have: to be able to speak any language. I guess the superpower I have is how I manage to fill up our tiny apartment kitchen due to various cooking projects. 😉

    Mantra: Breathe.

    Proudest achievement: Defending my dissertation and getting my PhD when my daughter was 8 months old and I was still working through postpartum depression. To this day, I’m not sure how I did it. Sheer adrenaline? Looking back though — compared to the ups and downs of parenting, the dissertation was actually not that hard!

    Guilty pleasure: I try not to feel guilty about it, but massages. I had monthly prenatal massages and it was THE best thing I invested in for that stage. I don’t get massages every month anymore, but I feel so much better when I do (I had a lot of back pain related to c-section recovery and diastasis recti).

    What I wish I could tell myself ten years ago: It will all work out. God’s timing is better than your timing.

    What I wish I could tell myself twenty years ago: Speak up. Don’t care too much about what other people think; those who matter don’t mind and those who mind don’t matter. Be proud of what your body CAN do.

    Happy place: the beach — in the Philippines. Oh, how I miss it. The ocean is ALWAYS cold in the Bay Area, in my opinion — tropical blood runs in my veins.

    Go-to Chinese order: Sauteed baby pea shoots with garlic. Steamed dumplings with chili oil.

    Favorite quote: I have a few, but this (long) one from a commencement speech by Denzel Washington some years back is currently in my iPhone notes:

    “Put your slippers away under your bed, so when you get up in the morning, you have to get on your knees to find them. And while you’re down there, start your day with prayer. Ask for wisdom. Ask for understanding. Don’t aspire to make a living, aspire to make a difference. While you’re on your knees, say thank you. Thank you for grace, thank you for mercy, thank you for understanding, thank you for wisdom, thank you for parents, thank you for love, thank you for kindness, thank you for humility, thank you for peace, thank you for prosperity. Give thanks for blessings every day. Every day. Embrace gratitude. Encourage others. It’s impossible to be grateful and hateful at the same time.”

    1. I feel compelled to add this under people who inspire me: my mother. She has been through so many challenges (cancer twice, my brother’s cancer, more surgeries than I can count with 2 hands, among others) and is the strongest, most optimistic person I know. She has unshakeable faith and is so generous with her time in helping others. Her energy puts me to shame (she went back to swimming laps and TRX — TRX!!! and international travel as soon as she was cleared after mastectomy).

    2. I love love love everything here, but can we all just stop for a minute and marvel over this achievement:

      “Defending my dissertation and getting my PhD when my daughter was 8 months old and I was still working through postpartum depression. To this day, I’m not sure how I did it. Sheer adrenaline? Looking back though — compared to the ups and downs of parenting, the dissertation was actually not that hard!”

      I am bowled over by this. I cannot imagine the strain you were under — such intensity in such a short period of time! Wow.


  3. Dream dinner guests (dead or alive). My grandfathers (who passed away) and fiancé (they never met but would have had so many interesting conversations) and Hannah Ahrendt.

    Pen or Pencil. Fountainpen – my father gifted my a personalised Montblanc fountainpen for passing the bar and I use it everyday. For notes when studing always a pencil with very fine tip (mechanical pencil).

    Go-to cocktail order. Gin Basil Smash or Kir Royal.

    Go-to coffee order. Flat White.

    First thing I do in the morning. Put on my running clothes and head out for a half an hour walk.

    Last thing I do at night. Open the window.

    Favorite vegetable. Brockoli.

    Least favorite vegetable. Brussle Sprouts.

    Favorite fruit. Strawberry – the first ones of the seasons are the unmistakable sign of summer.

    Least favorite fruit. Physalis – don’t you dare put that on my dessert for decoration.

    Favorite time of day. Early morning in summer when everything is quiet and fresh.

    Inspired by… my girlfriends who are unbelievably dedicated for what their families, equality and education.

    Desert island book. “The Royal We” and “Altes Land” (a german novel).

    Favorite movie. About Time.

    Biggest bugaboo. Tardyness and people who stop in the middle of the sidewalk without apparent reason.

    Daily uniform. For work a top and a-line skirt with ballet flats. At home jeans, a white t-shirt or knit sweatter.

    Last Amazon order. White ribbon for our wedding invitations.

    Superpower. Organization. It’s also my biggest weakness since it tends to wear me out.

    Mantra. Let it go, it’s going to be fine.

    Proudest achievement. Professionally: passing the bar. Personally: becoming the person I wanted to be when I was twenty.

    Guilty pleasure. Scrolling Instagram during breakfast that I prefer to enjoy alone.

    What I wish I could tell myself ten years ago. You have everything you need in you, you will be fine.

    What I wish I could tell myself twenty years ago. High-school will not last forever and there is so much waiting for you once you get through this.

    Happy place. Hiddensee (small Island at the baltic sea coast of Germany)

    Go-to Chinese order. Fried noodles with vegetables.

    Favorite quote. “You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed” – Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

    1. I love how so many of us wrote similar messages to ourselves ten or twenty years ago: just have faith that it will work out. Sounds like there were a lot of anxious teens and twenty-soemthings that could have used a bit of encouragement back then…


  4. How fun is this?!

    Dream dinner guests (dead or alive)- Barbra Streisand, Ruth Reichl, Fran Lebowitz, Lorrie Moore. If fictional characters are permitted, add Julia Sugarbaker.
    Pen or Pencil- Paper Mate Flair forever
    Go-to cocktail order- Ketel One, Club soda, splash of grapefruit (named “the Tallulah” by my girlfriends after my legendary Westie, Tilly Tallulah)
    Go-to coffee order- Soy flat white
    First thing I do in the morning- Cuddle the terriers
    Last thing I do at night-Turn on one of the same 5 episodes of The Office
    Favorite vegetable- Green peas
    Least favorite vegetable- Yellow squash/Zucchini
    Favorite fruit- Apples (Fuji!)
    Least favorite fruit- Strawberries
    Favorite time of day-Dusk (perfection!)
    Desert island book- The Secret History or Prep, if I need to go lighter
    Favorite movie- Quiz Show, Silence of the Lambs, Death Becomes Her (pretty depressing once I see them all listed out)
    Biggest bugaboo- Shouting on the phone in public
    Daily uniform- Currently, leggings and a baggy sweater. After this pregnancy, skinny jeans and a sweater! Not too much has changed there.
    Last Amazon order- A smorgasbord of items from every “you need this when you bring your first baby home!!” article I’ve read
    Superpower- Speed reading and gift-giving
    Mantra- “Take a deep breath.” My favorite piece of advice from my father, which he has repeated to me at least one thousand times over the years.
    Proudest achievement- I built a standing committee at my very traditional synagogue to improve treatment of and relations with interfaith families. As a child of an interfaith family and current member of an interfaith marriage, this has been a real labor of love.
    Guilty pleasure- Bad TV and extra butter
    What I wish I could tell myself ten years ago- Change your major!! You don’t have the stomach for real world politics.
    What I wish I could tell myself twenty years ago- These boys just aren’t worth it.
    Happy place- Blue Ridge, GA.
    Go-to Chinese order-Veggie fried rice
    Favorite quote-“If you live the life you love, you get the blessing from above.” – Van Morrison

  5. You have such a thoughtful readership! It was so fun to read through the comments.

    Dinner guests: my maternal grandparents, my friends from high school, Nora Ephron, Barack Obama, Ann Patchett…

    Pen or pencil: mechanical pencil

    Cocktail: greyhound in summer, Manhattan in winter

    Coffee: drip coffee with a lot of milk

    Favorite vegetable: in-season sweet corn

    Least favorite veg: carrots

    Favorite fruit: peaches

    Least favorite fruit: pineapple

    Favorite time of day: mid-day

    Inspired by: principled courage, unconditional kindness

    Desert island book: East of Eden by John Steinbeck

    Favorite movie: You’ve Got Mail, The Philadelphia Story

    Biggest bugaboo: bad manners, people who punch down

    Mantra: one thing at a time (when overwhelmed), or walk into fear (when anxious)

    Achievement: as a people pleaser, the times when I have stood up for myself and my instincts. Also, passing the bar exam.

    Guilty pleasure: buying new books in hard cover, celebrity gossip, junk food, and teen dramas (Riverdale!)

    Happy place: Kiawah Island, SC; a walk through the woods in my neighborhood park

    Chinese order: chicken lo mein and potstickers

    Quote: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” – Samuel Beckett.

    1. Ooh there are so many gems here! Love a woman who loves Steinbeck and very into the notion (phrasing) of “principled courage.” Thank you for sharing all of these.


  6. Love this! And to reiterate what others have said – so much fun to read others’ responses

    *Dream dinner guests: Anthony Bourdain, Julia Child, Alex Trebek, Katherine Hepburn

    *Pen or pencil: Pen, only a very fine-tipped gel or felt tip one though

    *Go-to cocktail order: Old fashioned, but with extra cherries (and a muddled wedge of orange, if I think the bar will be accommodating). Otherwise, a dirty vodka martini with blue cheese stuffed olives. Or an aperol spritz. Really depends on my mood.

    *Go-to coffee order: iced coffee with a touch of cream and hazelnut syrup

    *First thing I do in the morning: roll over and hit the snooze button if I can

    *Last thing I do at night: I’d like to say read, but these days it’s skimming Instagram

    *Favorite vegetable: zucchini

    *Least favorite vegetable: raw onions (cooked are fine)

    *Favorite fruit: Rainier cherries

    *Least favorite fruit: Bananas eaten raw. I like them in smoothies and in bread. Also anything where pineapple is cooked (eg. pizza, upside down cake)

    *Favorite time of day: the golden hour before and blue hour after sunset. Even if I’ve had a hard day, the beautiful colors during this time of day makes everything better

    *Desert island book: The Secret History by Donna Tartt. I reread this every couple of years.

    *Favorite movie: any James Bond movie, especially the Sean Connery and Roger Moore ones.

    *Biggest bugaboo: people without manners

    *Daily uniform: in the summer, loose caftan-y dresses. When it’s cooler, striped shirts + jeans. And always sunglasses, even when it’s cloudy out.

    *Last Amazon order: actually, also washable paint and paint brushes because I decided to suck it up and let the babe paint at home (as long as she’s outside or confined in her high chair). Also, reusable stainless steel straws, watercolor paper, and saral transfer paper (new project in the works!)

    *Superpower: Being a very very fast reader

    *Mantra: Take a step back and breathe. I tend to focus on the what-ifs and what-could-have-beens and forget to appreciate what I have now

    *Proudest achievement: My family and PhD

    *Guilty pleasure: Reading gossip websites

    *What I wish I could tell myself 10 years ago: Don’t go into academia, ha. Also, stop comparing yourself to others, really.

    *What I wish I could tell myself 20 years ago: Should’ve followed your interest in international relations and tried to find a job in that area instead of going to medical school (though in a roundabout way, I’m actually back there again – the international relations part, that is. Happily left medicine a long time ago.). And stop comparing yourself to others.

    *Happy place: Paris, France, and Porto, Portugal. Also almost any beach.

    *Go-to Chinese order: beef with broccoli

    *Favorite quote: “We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves.” -Pico Iyer

    1. These are so so good. Love all of your quotes and insights, although this in particular resonated: “stop comparing yourself to others.” Oh how much time I wasted in this comparison game when I was young.

      And this makes me want to be your friend forever: “Old fashioned, but with extra cherries (and a muddled wedge of orange, if I think the bar will be accommodating). Otherwise, a dirty vodka martini with blue cheese stuffed olives. Or an aperol spritz. Really depends on my mood.”


  7. Dream dinner guests (dead or alive): The cast of Downton Abbey, in character, on location! Ha.

    Pen or Pencil: Pen

    Go-to cocktail order: usually wine, but if I’m in the mood for an actual cocktail, either a classic margarita on the rocks with salt, or a French 75.

    Go-to coffee order: Hot water with juice of half a lemon. When I’m not pregnant, French press with coconut milk (the canned kind).

    First thing I do in the morning: Snooze my alarm…ugh.

    Last thing I do at night: Read or meditate. Just completed my Goodreads goal of 75 books in 2019!

    Favorite vegetable: Roasted sweet potatoes

    Least favorite vegetable: Probably broccoli

    Favorite fruit: Pineapple

    Least favorite fruit: Melon, all varieties, and any fruit in a fruit salad that contains melon!

    Favorite time of day: Morning, before anyone else is awake.

    Inspired by: Beauty in nature…especially water.

    Desert island book: The first book that comes to mind that I know I can re-read without getting bored is The Great Train Robbery by Michael Crichton

    Favorite movie: Tombstone is always a favorite. Also agree with the commenter who mentioned Clueless!

    Biggest bugaboo: Bad drivers

    Last Amazon order: Probably diapers

    Superpower: Baking!

    Mantra: I don’t really have one, but it should be same as yours, one step at a time, as we are getting our little girl through her cancer treatment. Although I frequently tell myself a simple “Nope!” when I catch my thoughts heading into worst-case scenario territory.

    Proudest achievement: Building a good life with my husband. Being strong for my daughter as she fights cancer. Buying a house on my own when I was still single.

    Guilty pleasure: Dessert (there is only guilt involved occasionally!)

    What I wish I could tell myself ten years ago: Enjoy being single! Freedom! Travel more, even if it means solo travel.

    What I wish I could tell myself twenty years ago: You need to plot your own course. Once school is done, there are no next steps unless you choose them.

    Happy place: Beaver Island, MI

    Go-to Chinese order: pizza 😉 I don’t think I’ve ever ordered Chinese food.

  8. Dream dinner guests (dead or alive) – Grace Kelly, Jackie Kennedy Onassis and Gwyneth Paltrow for the ultimate girl crush girls night
    Pen or Pencil – Ultra-fine pen
    Go-to cocktail order – Usually a wine gal (bubbles, rose, chardonnay or a Rhone depending on mood and season), but I LOVE a Patron margarita on the rocks, no salt
    Go-to coffee order – Iced coffee with cream and sugar or iced vanilla latte
    First thing I do in the morning – Roll over and dream about a few more minutes of sleep…
    Last thing I do at night – Turn on White noise app
    Favorite vegetable – Roasted brussels sprouts
    Least favorite vegetable – Eggplant
    Favorite fruit – Pineapple
    Least favorite fruit – Blackberries
    Favorite time of day – Pre kids – cocktail hour hands down. Now with a 2.5 year old and a 4 month old, the brief window after their bedtime and before mine is pretty glorious.
    Inspired by- People who are dedicate their lives to helping others. People who are smart, passionate and principled.
    Desert island book – The Year of Magical Thinking (Joan Didion) for mind and soul and a pile of chick lit for fun
    Favorite movies – When Harry Met Sally, The Devil Wears Prada, Top Gun, Christmas Vacation
    Biggest bugaboo – Arrogance, lack of humility, rudeness
    Daily uniform – Changes every day!
    Last Amazon order – Halloween treats and compostable straws

    1. Whoops! Got cut off…

      Superpower- Time travel

      Mantra – I have stolen yours as it resonates so deeply with me – “Focus on me, not the storm”

      Proudest achievement – My marriage and my children

      Guilty pleasure – Bravo. All day erry day.

      What I wish I could tell myself ten years ago – stop worrying so much about what other people think of you

      What I wish I could tell myself twenty years ago – Ditch any friends who give you anxiety. Friends are supposed to build you up, not break you down.

      Happy place – Sea Island, GA and Sun Valley, ID

      Go-to Chinese order. General Tso’s with white meat and extra broccoli

      Favorite quote – Can’t think of one right now of course 🙂

      This was so much fun!

  9. So fun!
    Pen or Pencil: A pilot G-2 .07 pen.

    First thing I do in the morning: Drink 32oz of ice cold lemon water and draw a bath.

    Last Amazon order: a milk frother

    Guilty pleasure: Trader Joes Super Sour Scandinavian Swimmers and all the cheese and crackers.

    Mantra: In dire times, I tell myself “One more minute.” You can do anything for a minute.

    Go-to Chinese order. Duck Duck Goat in Chicago does the best dan-dan noodles.

    Quote: Don’t underestimate every pleasant little thing, like a spoonful of brownie batter or the sound of birds in spring. And if you notice all of them then joy is what you’ve got, because a little plus a little plus a little is a lot.

    1. A. Your cold water and hot bath ritual is goals. I feel like that’s how Gwyneth must start her day, so you’re onto something.
      B. Love your mantra. Have told myself this many times, too!
      C. Where is that quote from?! Beautiful and true.

  10. Love reading everyone’s thoughts!

    Dream dinner guests (dead or alive):  my grandmother, Tom Hanks, Barack Obama, QE2, and Richard Feynman 

    Pen or Pencil:  Pen!

    Go-to cocktail order: French 75.

    Go-to coffee order:  At home- a pour over with a splash of milk. At a coffee shop- a cappuccino with oat milk. 

    First thing I do in the morning: Drink a glass of water.

    Last thing I do at night:  Turn on the headspace app.

    Favorite vegetable:  Kale

    Least favorite vegetable: Okra  

    Favorite fruit.:  Grapefruit

    Least favorite fruit:  Melons

    Favorite time of day: Morning- before anyone else is up.

    Inspired by: Authentic individuals. 

    Desert island book: Mythology by Edith Hamilton. 

    Favorite movie:  You’ve Got Mail, A League of Their Own, The Hunt for Red October

    Biggest bugaboo:  A lack of curiosity and willful ignorance.

    Daily uniform: Jeans are in heavy rotation. 

    Last Amazon order:  A book on deliberative democracy. 

    Superpower: A photographic memory. 

    Mantra: For everything there is a season. 

    Guilty pleasure: No reason to feel guilt about enjoying life’s pleasures 

    What I wish I could tell myself ten years ago: Everything will be ok.  

    Happy place: Fall in Chapel Hill. 

    Go-to Chinese order: Bao buns and scallion pancakes. 

    1. These are fantastic. Love especially the reminder that we needn’t feel guilty for small pleasures and the note that “for everything there is a season.” Perhaps my biggest learning over the past few years…


  11. So fun! I’m enjoying reading everyone’s responses!

    Dream dinner guests (dead or alive). Audrey Hepburn, my deceased grandmother, the queen.

    Pen or Pencil. Pen, Le pen is my fave!

    Go-to cocktail order. Generally never a cocktail girl I prefer a hazy New England IPA or a glass of buttery Chardonnay any day.

    Go-to coffee order. Drop coffee usually with honey and oat milk or an oat milk latte.

    First thing I do in the morning. Similar to you, depending on the time I may need to hop up to wake up my 4 year old for school or I’ll hear my two year old running down the hall way…

    Last thing I do at night. Read a bit and write in my one line a day journal.

    Favorite vegetable. zucchini

    Least favorite vegetable. Mushrooms

    Favorite fruit. raspberry

    Least favorite fruit. Banana

    Favorite time of day. Morning — I love the ease of mornings with my little boys especially when we don’t need to rush to get to school. I’ll sip my coffee while they snuggle on either side or me watching their morning Mickey Mouse. I also love getting out with them early, it feels so fun and lovely to bop around town for a few hours while they are at their happiest.

    Inspired by… Brene brown, many of my mom friends that give it their all.

    Desert island book. Jane Eyre,

    Favorite movie. Breakfast at tiffanies

    Biggest bugaboo. Rudeness of any kind and especially with drivers!

    Daily uniform. Lululemon align leggings, a loose and comfy top usually over a fitted tank and supergas or golden goose

    Last Amazon order. 30 oz hydro flask to up my water intake this pregnancy.

    Superpower. Patience and my deep love for my children. I put them first always.

    Mantra. This too shall pass

    Proudest achievement. My family, my marriage and absolutely our children. I love how devoted we are to them. It is the greatest joy of my life to just bask in the incredible love the four of us (soon to be 5) share.

    Guilty pleasure. An occasional coke.

    What I wish I could tell myself ten years ago. Be patient and don’t rush things, enjoy the moment you are in.

    What I wish I could tell myself twenty years ago. There is so much to come!

    Happy place. NYC!!

    Go-to Chinese order. Kung pao chicken

    Favorite quote. I’m blanking…

    1. So moved by this, Brooke: “Inspired by…any of my mom friends that give it their all.” So true. I am in awe of so many of my mom friends who are juggling a trillion things and making it work. xx

  12. I love this and I especially love reading all of the responses!

    +Dream dinner guests (dead or alive): the Obamas, Ina Garten, Emily Blunt & John Krasinski, & my husband (who would kill me if I met the above and he didn’t!)
    +Pen or Pencil. Pen, specifically Pilot G2 05 or Sarasa Zebra 0.5 in navy.
    +Go-to cocktail order. Hendricks gin & tonic.
    +Go-to coffee order. Does Diet Dr. Pepper count? if not, a skim latte. (Clearly I’m not a coffee person.)
    +First thing I do in the morning. Typically, wake my husband to tell him our 2 year old is awake (he’s the morning parent in our household), then brush my teeth. I have to brush my teeth very first thing!
    +Last thing I do at night. Turn my phone face-down on the nightstand so I won’t look at it if I wake up in the middle of the night.
    +Favorite vegetable. Zucchini
    +Least favorite vegetable. Celery
    +Favorite fruit. Raspberries
    +Least favorite fruit. totally agree – oranges! love the flavor but basically would never eat an orange.
    +Favorite time of day. 7:30-10pm – adult time for dinner, trash television, wine, and the occasional workout.
    +Desert island book. Little Women. I could (and probably have) read it a thousand times and still enjoy it.
    +Favorite movie. Clueless, Sleepless in Seattle.
    +Biggest bugaboo. Inconsistency.
    +Daily uniform. Skinny jeans (JBrand Maria or Frame), a floral top (Joie + Banjanan are favorites), sandals in the summer (Kaanas or TB), and Vince Blair sneakers in cooler weather. I’ve also been obsessed with Banjanan dresses as everyday wear as of late.
    +Last Amazon order. Sesame Street stickers and a Melissa & Doug magnet set for a toddler birthday party gift.
    +Superpower. Forgetting that we have sweets in the house. Our freezer is littered with pints of ice cream that have a few bites removed (my husband doesn’t get it).
    +Mantra. “Start as you intend to continue.” (especially related to parenting)
    +Proudest achievement. My two amazing children. I am estranged from my mother, and I take parenting very seriously. (Also, getting my PhD. But parenting feels harder!)
    +Guilty pleasure. Bravo reality shows (Vanderpump Rules, and many Real Housewives of…) and French wine.
    +Happy place. Charleston.
    +Go-to Chinese order. Sichuan tofu and crab rangoon.
    +Favorite quote. Enthusiasm is the mother of effort, and without it, nothing great was ever achieved. (Emerson)

    1. Hello, my fellow Hendricks-lover! So many good observations here — will be thinking of the maxim “start as you intend to continue” for a long while. And agree that the comments on this post have been nothing short of breath-taking. So many bright and inspiring women!


  13. Fun!

    Dream dinner guests (dead or alive). Michelle Obama, Hoda Kotb, Nora Ephron, my mom

    Pen or Pencil. Pen – always!

    Go-to cocktail order. Anything with champagne (bonus if it also includes something strawberry).

    Go-to coffee order. Iced coffee, year round.

    First thing I do in the morning. Similar to yours – check the monitor to see if it’s a real “I’m awake and upright” cry or “I’m just getting comfortable” rumblings — then negotiate with my husband about whose morning it is to get up with our daughter and who gets an extra 30 minutes of sleep!

    Last thing I do at night. Look at my phone – ugh, terrible. Need to break this habit!

    Favorite vegetable. Broccoli and brussel sprouts.

    Least favorite vegetable. Red onions.

    Favorite fruit. Banana + Strawberries together. Or pineapple.

    Least favorite fruit. Kiwi. Just doesn’t do it for me.

    Favorite time of day. Late afternoon. Golden hour.

    Inspired by… my mom.

    Desert island book. Too many beloved novels to chose from. So instead I’ll cop out from picking one by saying instead a photo book I made of my daughter’s first year w/ write-ups on our family highlights + her milestones. I could look at it every night and not get bored. Our wedding album would be a close second.

    Favorite movie. You’ve Got Mail, Father of the Bride, Breakfast at Tiffany’s

    Biggest bugaboo. When people cut ahead of you in line.

    Daily uniform. Leggings (jeans if I am feeling extra ambitious), a long sweater and slip on sneakers.

    Last Amazon order. A new Sandra Boynton board book for my daughter.

    Superpower. I can remember everyone’s birthday. Even the most random of people (my old boss’s daughter? Some child I babysat for in high school? You bet.)

    Mantra. “You’re gonna miss this.” I sometimes find myself guilty of rushing from one life milestone to another and feeling impatient when things aren’t happening as quickly as I’d like them too. There’s a super cheesy country song by Trace Adkins with the lines “you’re gonna miss this…you’re gonna want this back…you’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast” — whenever I feel myself itching to get to the next stage of life I quietly say to myself “You’re gonna miss this” as a reminder to enjoy this season. It runs through my head particularly often while rocking my 21-month-old daughter to sleep.

    Proudest achievement. Motherhood. And in particular my approach to motherhood. I am by nature a nervous nellie and tend to worry about everything. But by some miracle, when it comes to my daughter, I feel (most of the time!) very at peace. (My friends and I joke that it is the shock of the century that I am such a chill mom) As long as she is healthy & happy, the rest will work itself out.

    Guilty pleasure. Diet coke. Overpriced baby clothes.

    What I wish I could tell myself ten years ago. Enjoy the ride.

    What I wish I could tell myself twenty years ago. See the world while you are young! You will be one of the lucky few to meet your husband in college at the ripe old age of 19 — don’t stress about the ups and downs that come with young love — he’s the one.

    Happy place. Nantucket.

    Go-to Chinese order. Broccoli chicken, chicken fried rice, lo mein

    Favorite quote. I second what you said – Far too many. But there is one that used to be on a magnet on my fridge of my beloved studio apartment in Chelsea that spoke to my inner perfectionist during the harder days: “Life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful.”

    Oh and for Halloween books for your daughter (Halloween is my favorite holiday and coming up with all-star costumes could probably be another super power of mine!) — my daughter is loving “Duck and Goose Find a Pumpkin” (very simple but cute) and “Spooky Pookie” at the moment. Also, I personally adore “And Then Comes Halloween” – it’s so poetic and pretty (and there are two others in the series “And Then Comes Summer” and “And Then Comes Christmas”)

    1. “You’re gonna miss this.” Love.

      Also – related deeply to your self-awareness about your “chill” approach to motherhood. I tend toward the anxious side but have been startled to hear several friends and family members describe me as “a calm mom.” I’m so flattered by that! I don’t know how it happened. God gives us what we need, I suppose…


  14. Dream dinner guests (dead or alive).:

    Pen or Pencil: pen, g-pilot 07

    Go-to cocktail order: moscow mule (preferably with some sort of delectable twist!)

    Go-to coffee order: ice coffee with a little bit of whole milk. no sugar or flavoring of any kind. oat milk when i’m trying to stay off dairy.

    First thing I do in the morning: calculate the absolute latest time i can get out of bed.

    Last thing I do at night: turn on the office or friends, with subtitles, to a low volume. those shows have become my security blanket!

    Favorite vegetable: green beans or brusells

    Least favorite vegetable: squash

    Favorite fruit: raspberries

    Least favorite fruit: melon or cantaloupe. EWW.

    Favorite time of day: 8pm-10pm. When the day is done but the night is beginning (or just ending!)

    Inspired by: People who are strong in their convictions with solid reasons for being so.

    Desert island book: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Not the most high-brow literature but man do I love those boks!

    Favorite movie: You’ve Got Mail, the Holiday,

    Biggest bugaboo: Narcissism.

    Daily uniform. Don’t have one! I dress for my mood. But! I shared my current favorites here.

    Last Amazon order: a new recycling bin…boring!

    Superpower: I can synthesize different pieces of information pretty quickly, in an argument or just in life. SUPERpower though…flying. oh how fun.

    Mantra: “Work hard and be kind”
    And when I’m feeling like the world is against me, an old adage from my high school volleyball coach: “just win the next point”. Also for times of doubt, from the classic funeral Mass hit: “be not afraid; I go before you always”

    Proudest achievement: Working on a winning congressional race, in a swing district, beating an awful incumbent.

    Guilty pleasure: Reading People and Us Weekly when I get a pedicure. Such trash.

    What I wish I could tell myself ten years ago: It’s not normal to be this anxious…say something to someone. Also, you look amazing, own it.

    What I wish I could tell myself twenty years ago: I was three, ha! Give more hugs to mom and dad maybe?

    Happy place: Stone Harbor, NJ

    Go-to Chinese order. General Tso’s chicken

    Favorite quote: I also have far too many! Probably this one from Mary Oliver’s “A Year’s Risings”:

    Love yourself. Then forget it. Then, love the world.

    1. Ooh, that’s a good one from Mary Oliver, and I didn’t remember it. Thank you for sharing it here. Love all of these answers, too. Can we be friends pls.


  15. What a fun post! Absolutely live for lists like these.

    Dream dinner guests (dead or alive): Honestly way too many people so I’ll go for now with…The Obamas, Ina Garten, Michelle Kwan, Anne Shirley (fictional characters allowed right?!), and my now deceased grandparents.

    Pen or Pencil: Pens if ultra fine felt tip or calligraphy tip, pencil if freshly sharpened or the old mechanical pencils of high school!

    Go-to cocktail order: Anything with a combination of fresh citrus and a champagne floater is perfection.

    Go-to coffee order: A smooth and strong cold brew with a (very) generous amount of half and half.

    First thing I do in the morning: Decide how much longer I can sleep…

    Last thing I do at night: Read a book.

    Favorite vegetable: Broccoli.

    Least favorite vegetable: Mushrooms.

    Favorite fruit: Black raspberries and in-season peaches.

    Least favorite fruit: Honeydew.

    Favorite time of day: Nighttime, alone. Love listening to the silence, the creaks of the floor, the stillness of the air.

    Inspired by: People who can be authentic, genuine, compassionate and not take themselves too seriously.

    Desert island book: An easily rereadable beach favorite like Confessions of a Shopaholic and an old childhood favorite like Harry Potter or A Murder for her Majesty.

    Favorite movie: North by Northwest, Little Women (with June Allyson and Elizabeth Taylor, A Philadelphia Story.

    Biggest bugaboo: Ignorance.

    Daily uniform: A comfortable pair of skinny jeans and an oversized oxford button down or oversized crew neck t-shirt in a neutral.

    Last Amazon order. A new non-stick pan for eggs! (Zwilling Madura).

    Superpower: I’d love to be able to teleport.

    Mantra: Have fun — have the extra drink, stay out the extra hour with a good friend, extend the trip by an extra day. These are the things you will remember years from now.

    Proudest achievement: Listening to my gut time and time again. Staying true to what I believe in. Ridding my life of toxicity.

    Guilty pleasure: Chocolate eclairs, binging multiple seasons of a show in a weekend, extra glasses of wine just because.

    What I wish I could tell myself ten years ago: A lot is going to happen, but don’t worry there is still so much more life left.

    What I wish I could tell myself twenty years ago: Travel more, maintain connections, learn to listen to your gut.

    Happy place: Fall in New England.

    1. Love the reminder to trust my gut. I occasionally forget this while weighing too many inputs, and it’s never failed me in the past.


  16. Oh how fun this will be….
    Thanks for asking
    Dream dinner guests: You, Lauren Bacall, Audrey Hepburn, Jackie Kennedy my dear husband, some of my old lifelong friends I never see enough!
    Cocktail: Champagne please! (That’s my pseudo cocktail of choice)
    Coffee: Vanilla latte with extra foam please. Yum!
    First thing I do each morning: Go to exercise class (Sundays are church)
    Last thing I do at night: Tell my husband I love him and to have sweet dreams. Could not live with myself if he would pass in the night without it!
    Favorite Vegie: ALL of them. My favorite dinner is many vegetables on my plate. No meat!
    Fav Fruit: Blueberries (and all their good antioxidants)
    Least fav fruit: Honeydew mellon. Does anyone eat this? Double yuck! I can’t even eat fruit that has touched it!
    Fav time of day: Morning please. Something in the promise of a beautiful sunrise.
    Favorite movie: Life Is Beautiful
    Biggest buggaboo: Not saying please or thank you! Basic etiquette!!!!!
    Daily uniform: white shirt, denim, pointed flats (and I now want to add that scarf to my wrist). Loved that look!
    Last Amazon order: Rug sweeper (not electric)
    Mantra: Raising a disabled son is HARD work so I power through many long days with love. God helps me too.
    Proudest Achievement: Standing up for people who are mistreated, bullied, made fun of or ridiculed for a reason they cannot change. I have NO patience when I see someone doing that. My anger goes to 100 in a second!
    Guilty pleasure: Mocha pastry from France.
    Ten years ago: Stay strong.
    Twenty years ago: Life will not be easy, so learn how to settle in for the good and bad rides coming your way. Hang on!
    Happy place: Italy or any beach on a beautiful day ( with no humidity please)

    1. Love this!! Agree with your honeydew comment in a big way! 🙂 Any pointed flats you recommend? In the market and am all ears for recs!

      1. Lots of honeydew haters coming out of the woodwork! HA! It is almost always bland and texturally unappetizing.

    2. Cynthia — I feel like you are a celebrity commenter here on the blog and was eager to hear your responses. I am so in awe of you and the hard work and love you have put into raising a son with a disability. I truly don’t know how you do it. I bow down!


  17. Dream dinner guests (dead or alive): my family and my husband’s family.

    Pen or Pencil: Pen, uni-ball, fine tip.

    Go-to cocktail order: I don’t drink hard alcohol, but a glass of Sancerre if white, Cotes du Rhone if red

    Go-to coffee order: black coffee

    First thing I do in the morning: I wake up early so I can enjoy a cup of coffee before the rest of the house wakes up and I have to leave for work. BUT! I’m thinking of getting my coffee before I get ready so that I can sip it while tending to my toilette. I don’t take the time to do my hair or anything because… I want to get to my coffee, and I hate the process. So I’m hoping this little shift will help me take more time.

    Last thing I do at night: drift off to the soothing sounds of “Parks and Rec” ;-), or read

    Favorite vegetable: Red peppers

    Least favorite vegetable: Any kind of squash.

    Favorite time of day: early morning

    Inspired by: people who see the forest AND the trees; people who put in the work to teach their kids to be thoughtful, but also do-ers.

    Desert island book: The Thornbirds by Colleen McCollough (as my sister says, it’s a good book to read if you want to fall back in love with reading)

    Favorite movie: Miracle, White Christmas, Sgt. Bilko

    Biggest bugaboo: Drivers who tailgate

    Daily uniform: white top, black pants, booties. Every day.

    Last Amazon order: board books, Nespresso pods, a new bed pillow (that you recommended!)

    Superpower: I’m REALLY good at teaching 8th-9th graders how to write essays.

    Mantra: “There are no emergencies in education”; “it will end” (sounds depressing, but it’s a great motivator for me – the time will pass/the due date will come no matter what I do, so I might as well work toward the outcome I want)

    Proudest achievement: Making the decision to move from DC back to Maine without a job lined up, and just making it happen.

    Guilty pleasure: Not a thing! I revel in chick lit, glasses of wine, lazy days, and cookie dough on the regular

    What I wish I could tell myself ten years ago: The line from Desiderata: No doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

    What I wish I could tell myself twenty years ago: Moving to Chicago is a good thing.

    Happy place: My family’s camp (summer house) in Washington, Maine

    Go-to Chinese order: Peking Duck, preferably from Peking Gourmet in Falls Church

    Favorite quote: “Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.” – William Hutchison Murray. My dad has this quote framed in his office, and I think of it often when tasked with a difficult decision.

    1. My mother gave me a copy of the Thornbirds in high school and promised the same thing! In the midst of my teenage dismissal of everything she recommended (eye roll) it ended up unread on my bookshelf. I’m so glad you reminded me- I am pushing it to the top of my list! xx

    2. This is gorgeous:

      “Inspired by…people who see the forest AND the trees; people who put in the work to teach their kids to be thoughtful, but also do-ers.”

      Talk about mom motivation…


  18. go-to cocktail order: ketel and cranberry

    first thing i do in the morning: go on a run

    favorite vegetable: spinach

    least favorite vegetable: most of the rest of the them…haha!

    dream dinner guest: RFK. i’ve been obsessed with him since reading my parents’ old Life magazines as a kid. the trajectory of this country could have been so different if he was elected president in 1968

    favorite movie: carrie, some kind of wonderful, to catch a thief

    what i wish i could tell myself 20 years ago: don’t be scared to travel abroad alone. making up for it now.

    happy place: new york city.

    mantra: everything you need is already inside. it’s a quote from bill bowerman, former oregon coach and co-founder of nike.

    1. Absolutely love this quote from Bill Bowerman. LOVE. Will be repeating that to myself and my children for a long time to come.


  19. UGH. Jen. That dinner party—please invite me!

    Maybe it’s my West Point education, but I find few things as beautiful as Gen. Douglas McArthur’s fames address to the Corps of Cadets, “Duty, Honor, Country.” If you have ten minutes today, I highly recommend listening to the speech on YouTube.

    “Duty, Honor, Country” — those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are your rallying point to build courage when courage seems to fail, to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith, to create hope when hope becomes forlorn. […]

    The unbelievers will say they are but words, but a slogan, but a flamboyant phrase. Every pedant, every demagogue, every cynic, every hypocrite, every troublemaker, and, I am sorry to say, some others of an entirely different character, will try to downgrade them even to the extent of mockery and ridicule.

    But these are some of the things they do. They build your basic character. They mold you for your future roles as the custodians of the nation’s defense. They make you strong enough to know when you are weak, and brave enough to face yourself when you are afraid.

    They teach you to be proud and unbending in honest failure, but humble and gentle in success; not to substitute words for action; not to seek the path of comfort, but to face the stress and spur of difficulty and challenge; to learn to stand up in the storm, but to have compassion on those who fall; to master yourself before you seek to master others; to have a heart that is clean, a goal that is high; to learn to laugh, yet never forget how to weep; to reach into the future, yet never neglect the past; to be serious, yet never take yourself too seriously; to be modest so that you will remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, the meekness of true strength.

    They give you a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions, a freshness of the deep springs of life, a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity, an appetite for adventure over love of ease.

    They create in your heart the sense of wonder, the unfailing hope of what next, and the joy and inspiration of life. They teach you in this way to be an officer and a gentleman.”

  20. Love getting to know all the amazing women in your Magpie community!

    Dream dinner date: Nora Ephron is also always on my list! Along with Ann Richards, Stevie Nicks and my mom

    Favorite time of day: although I am a lifelong morning person, right now my favorite time of day is after both my children have gone to bed. It’s quiet and I sit on the couch looking out at the city lights and feel this sense of peace that they are both safely sleeping and we all survived another day!

    Mantra: As someone who wants to anticipate and/or control every possible outcome, when I need to let go I have to repeat the mantra of acceptance: “It’s gonna be what it’s gonna be.” Also, professionally, I always remember what a mentor told me when I sought her advice about feeling overwhelmed- she asks herself every morning “What ball am I going to let drop today?” essentially a reminder that I can’t do it all so I need to decide what absolutely must get done and go from there.

    Proudest achievement: sounds nebulous but my career? I have ended up in a wonderful place professionally that I never would have imagined ten years ago and I got there by equal parts taking risks that felt scary and advocating for even more responsibility once I was there. My most recent big promotion happened when I was six months pregnant with my first child, and I feel fiercely proud that I’ve managed to grow my career while growing my family.

    Daily uniform: these days it’s Lululemon align pants and define jackets over nursing tanks- looking forward to the future days where I think about wearing real clothes again!

    Desert Island book: Circe would be at the top of my list for sure, but I’d also say Gone With the Wind- has enough to keep me wanting to read again and again!

    Favorite movie: (so appreciate that the choices here are leaning more fun fluff than, say, Citizen Kane) My pick is the The Devil Wears Prada- I’ve probably seen it 20+ times

    Last Amazon order: Nursing pads (#glam), two gigantic boxes of diapers, and my 2.5 year old’s adorable Halloween costume

    Favorite quote:
    “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time” -Maya Angelou (basically how I have always navigated friendships, colleagues and my dating life until I met my husband!)

    What I wish I could tell myself ten years ago: In ten years you will have the family that you are worrying you’ll never find so stop wasting energy and just enjoy having responsibility only for yourself!

    1. Hadn’t heard that one by Angelou, but how true?! We can’t will people into being who we want them to be.

      Thanks for sharing all of these! Agree that there is a hushed kind of near-reverence that descends upon our house after the babies are asleep and the house is tidied. It’s a great time of day to put myself first for an hour or two.

  21. Dream dinner guests (dead or alive): Robin Williams, Gordon Ramsay, Oprah

    Pen or Pencil: Pen, I hate pencils!

    Go-to cocktail order: Whiskey sour with a good whiskey

    Go-to coffee order: Vanilla latte, but I prefer to make coffee at home

    First thing I do in the morning: Snooze my alarm and calculate what the latest time is that I can sleep to and still get to work on time – a truly terrible habit!

    Last thing I do at night: Have Alexa turn play “thunderstorm sounds”

    Favorite vegetable: Broccoli or Carrots (both roasted)

    Least favorite vegetable: Cauliflower

    Favorite fruit: Honeycrisp Apples

    Least favorite fruit: Tomato

    Favorite time of day: Morning — there is little I love more than waking up in comfy bed in a cool room with sunlight streaming through the windows.

    Inspired by… People who seem truly comfortable with themselves

    Desert island book: Bringing Home the Birkin. I have NO idea why I love this book as much as I do but alas.

    Favorite movie: Chef, Shawshank Redemption

    Biggest bugaboo: Rudeness, chewing with an open mouth/smacking food

    Daily uniform: Old Navy Pixie Ankle Pants, a cute blouse, gold earring, watch, rings, bracelet, flats

    Last Amazon order: This lamp for my desk at home

    Superpower: I can get my house close to spotless in about 20 minutes if really pushed, i.e. surprise guests.

    Mantra: This too shall pass, every new day brings new light.

    Proudest achievement: I was the first person in my family, extended included, to earn a college degree – so I am proud of that. I’m also proud of the people my husband and I have grown, together, to be.

    Guilty pleasure: Bi-weekly manicures

    What I wish I could tell myself ten years ago: Stop comparing yourself to others. Your body is amazing, when you look back at pictures, you’ll see a beautiful lady who is placing her hand where it is to cover up an imperfection that’s not actually there.

    Favorite quote: “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams (Henry David Thoreau), “Comparison is the thief of joy (unknown to me)

    1. These are fantastic. Had to read your bugaboo aloud to Mr. Magpie — that might be his all-time biggest pet peeve.


    1. So funny — there have been a bunch of diametrically opposed tastes when it comes to food/drink in the comments, but it seems we all can agree that honeydew is a bad fruit. Ha!

  22. Dream dinner guests (dead or alive). Julia Child, my husband’s grandparents who passed before I met him, my family
    Pen or Pencil. Pencil!!!
    Go-to cocktail order. Gin & tonic
    Go-to coffee order. Iced coffee with oat milk
    First thing I do in the morning. This is so bad, but look at my phone
    Last thing I do at night. Turn on the office to fall asleep to
    Favorite vegetable. Brussels sprouts
    Least favorite vegetable. Olives
    Favorite fruit. Blackberries
    Least favorite fruit. Honeydew melon
    Favorite time of day. Dinnertime
    Inspired by… People who persevere in times of failure
    Desert island book. A Little Life
    Favorite movie. Clueless
    Biggest bugaboo. Rudeness of any kind – agree with you on this one!
    Daily uniform. Jeans, sweater, flats or loafers
    Last Amazon order. Vitamins
    Superpower. Similar to you, I’d say apparating (like in Harry Potter); get anywhere in a second!
    Mantra. Do the things you have to do so you can do the things you want to do
    Proudest achievement. Doing a career change and successfully applying to and getting into medical school (and so far doing well there!)
    Guilty pleasure. Dramatic TV shows and salty snacks
    What I wish I could tell myself ten years ago. Don’t give up too easily
    What I wish I could tell myself twenty years ago. Be nice to your parents and sister when you’re a teenager!!
    Happy place. Virgin Gorda, BVI
    Go-to Chinese order. Kung pao chicken
    Favorite quote. “I have no idols. I admire work, dedication and competence.” Ayrton Senna

    This was fun!! Thanks, Jen!!

  23. Favorite vegetable: Broccoli
    Favorite fruit: Blueberry
    Favorite movies: Cinema Paradiso, As Good as it Gets, A Little Romance, Moonstruck
    Favorite Quotes: Finally I am coming to the conclusion that my highest ambition is to be what I already am. That I will never fulfill my obligation to surpass myself unless I first accept myself, and if I accept myself fully in the right way, I will already have surpassed myself. – Thomas Merton

    Nothing is more honorable than a grateful heart. – Seneca

    Proudest Achievement: Having loving, meaningful relationships with my husband and children.

  24. Dinner guests: my grandmother, my Uncle Harry (the smartest man I’ve ever known), Tom Brokaw, Barbara Walters, and Joan Rivers
    Pen or Pencil: Pencil, love a writing instrument that doubles as a chic hair accessory
    Fav Quote: Forward ever, backward never
    Bugaboo: Lack of manners
    Tell myself 20 years ago: Wear sunscreen each and every day
    Movies: Jaws, and any movie starring Goldie Hawn
    Guilty pleasure: Good pizza (washed down with some icy cold beer)
    Mantra: As cliche as it may sound, treat everyone the way you would want to be treated and you can never go wrong

    1. Love all of these, Betsie! Your favorite quote reminded me of this one my Dad just sent me yesterday:

      “A fool will lose tomorrow reaching back for yesterday.”

      Also, I’m with you on good pizza — one of my favorite rewards on a Friday night.


  25. Dream dinner guests (dead or alive): Winston Churchill, Condoleezza Rice, Whitney Houston.
    Pen or Pencil: Pen. Black ink only.
    Go-to cocktail order: Vodka on the rocks.
    First thing I do in the morning/Last thing I do at night: Snuggle and kiss my dog.
    Favorite time of day: Morning
    Favorite movie: First Wives Club.
    Biggest bugaboo: I have misophonia so many types of sound drive me up the wall. Biggest offender, whistling!! It literally brings me to tears I hate it so much!
    Superpower: Really good hearing which is odd because my mother, aunt and uncle are deaf.
    Proudest achievement: Treating my mom to a vacation every year.
    Guilty pleasure: Watching The Golden Girls.
    What I wish I could tell myself ten years ago: Don’t date the married guy. It isn’t going to end well.
    Happy place: The beach.

    1. Ahh, Lauren! These are incredible — especially treating your mom to a vacation each year! What a sweet gift. And, you are a badass — I’ve long wished I could be one of those women who ordered a spirit on the rocks.


  26. Talk about myself? Don’t mind if I do!

    Dream dinner guests (dead or alive): Ancestors I never got a chance to meet, including my great-grandparents, who built our family home.
    Pen or Pencil: Pen, unless I’m sketching quilt designs. Then, pencil.
    Go-to cocktail order: Old fashioned, or something bitter and amaro-heavy.
    Go-to coffee order: None. Not a coffee drinker.
    First thing I do in the morning: Look at my phone, unfortunately.
    Last thing I do at night: Read.
    Favorite vegetable: too hard! I love too many. Currently digging late-season corn, though.
    Least favorite vegetable: Fennel.
    Favorite fruit: Blueberries
    Least favorite fruit.: Honeydew melon
    Favorite time of day: Morning.
    Inspired by… reflexive, genuine, non-self serving kindness.
    Desert island book: The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. Every few years I re-read it and it feels new all over again.
    Favorite movie: The First Wives Club and Moonrise Kingdom.
    Biggest bugaboo: Being late.
    Daily uniform: In cool weather, skinny jeans, tall boots, a white collared shirt, and Patagonia vest.
    Last Amazon order: a new bra!
    Superpower: Writing thoughtful letters, always on time.
    Mantra.: The wind does not break a tree that can bend.
    Proudest achievement: Successfully launching my independent adult life after college and not relying on any parental support.
    Guilty pleasure: I feel guilty about none of my pleasures.
    What I wish I could tell myself ten years ago: Say yes.
    What I wish I could tell myself twenty years ago: Say yes.
    Happy place: the shores of a lake in the woods of southeastern Massachusetts.
    Go-to Chinese order: Vietnamese or Thai, please.
    Favorite quote: Too many to count!

    1. These are amazing! I had so much fun reading your filled-with-personality responses. This especially spoke to me: “Inspired by… reflexive, genuine, non-self serving kindness.” Wow. So with you — that is the ultimate in inspiration. And, writing thoughtful letters on time! Beautiful.

      P.S. I agree that most honeydew is horrible.

  27. How much fun is this?!

    + Dinner guests: my grandfathers, MLK Jr., President & First Lady Obama — more come to mind but I’m going to stop there for fear that I’ll go on too long. Ha!
    + Pen or Pencil: Pen — the .5 point from Muji in black.
    + Go-to cocktail order: now that the weather is cooler, a rye Manhattan. In warm weather, a gin & tonic with fancy gin (I like No. 209)
    + Go-to coffee order: latte with skim milk (I loved oat milk as well but once a bad batch gave me food poisoning, so never again!)
    + First thing I do in the morning: hit the snooze button. Endeavoring to change this!
    + Last thing I do at night: cuddle my boyfriend.
    + Favorite vegetable: Carrots
    + Least favorite vegetable: Broccoli rabe! Ha!
    + Favorite fruit: Honeycrisp apples
    + Least favorite fruit: none that I can think of!
    + Favorite time of day: Morning for sure.
    + Inspired by: young activists.
    + Desert island book: for a pick me up, You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein (absolutely hilarious). Also, Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed.
    + Favorite movie: À bout de souffle, Roma, Moonlight, The Birdcage.
    + Biggest bugaboo: definitely rudeness as well, and closed-mindedness
    + Daily uniform: tunic-length oxford, slim (but not skinny) dark or black jeans, leather loafers.
    + Last Amazon order: oven mitts, stamps, a Spanish phrasebook for my dad, and a wooden Montessori toy for my niece.
    + Superpower: I have an elephantine memory, especially for dates.
    + Mantra: “What good shall I do this day?” (Thanks, Ben Franklin) Also: “À coeur vaillant, rien d’impossible.” (first learned from Catherine Deneuve’s Proust questionnaire published in Vanity Fair)
    + Proudest achievement: staying healthy & staying alive. Literally.
    + Guilty pleasure: Haribo & fluffy books.
    + What I wish I could tell myself ten years ago: this, too, shall pass. Remember that you have an amazing support system in this life.
    + What I wish I could tell myself twenty years ago: Enjoy the ride. Stay active in your community and don’t take your friendships for granted.
    + Happy place: the Outer Cape (Cod)
    + Go-to Chinese order: dry pepper chicken (twins!) and soup dumplings
    + Favorite quote: I need to dig out the “quote journals” I kept as a teenager/college student! Off the top of my head: “Had I not created my whole world, I would certainly have died in other people’s.” — Anaïs Nin // “There are always flowers for those who want to see them.” — Henri Matisse

    This is insanely long BUT: I love that Demylee cardigan! And you influenced me to buy a pair of snakeskin boots this season; I’m so excited. 🙂 xx

    1. Ahh so many delicious nuggets here!! So funny you hate rabe! I actually just ate it last night so it’s been top of mind for me. Ha. Must read the Strayed book since you’ve given it top billing!! xx

    2. Hahaha. I don’t HATE rabe, but I never reach for/choose it. There aren’t many fruits and vegetables that I hate! 🙂 xx

  28. Dinner guest: Harry & Meghan
    Cocktail: Vodka tonic (really always order a glass of champagne/sparkling although not technically a cocktail)
    Coffee: none! Don’t drink it, just tea with a little sugar
    Book: The Royal We
    Last thing at night: turn off my kindle
    Bugaboo: liars
    Mantra: don’t have one but like the idea. Will think on it. Maybe “you can do this”.
    Amazon: hot pink long sleeve “date night” shirt for me and washable markers for my toddler
    Superpower: teleportation. More realistic, wish I knew how to speak more languages.

    1. Harry and Meghan! Would be so intriguing. Love that. Also love that you read your Kindle every night before bed. Such a great ritual.


  29. Desert island book: Eckhart Tolle’s “Power of Now” (every re-read feels brand new) or The Essential Rumi poetry (translated by Coleman Barks)

    Movie: When Harry Met Sally! 🙂

    Last Amazon order: Crib Mattress for expected baby! Next Order: Diapers!

    Mantra: Perfect timing is at work for me. And: I have arrived. I am home. (I often do this one while walking places. Which may feel ironic (ha) but is grounding.)

    Quote: “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” —Rumi

    1. YES! When Harry Met Sally = iconic and delicious at every viewing. Billy Crystal is incredible in it.

      Anyway, love everything here!!

  30. I read Brene Brown a few years ago and when I came upon that Roosevelt quote, it changed my life. I know that sounds dramatic but it truly did. It was at a time in my life when everyone was telling me what I should be doing, what I owed them, their expectations etc. and so few of them were in the arena with me. I now often think ” Are they in the arena with me?” and based on the answer, I decide how much weight to put on their opinions, requests etc. It has been so liberating.

    1. Not dramatic — it’s crazy how a well-timed quote/thought/change in perspective can dramatically impact your life. I felt that way when I read that “focus on me / not on the storm” just before going in to the hospital to have my son. It was just the crutch I needed to get through a really crazy time.

      Anyway – I’m with you. That quote is liberating.


  31. Ah, fun!
    Dinner guests: Audrey Hepburn, Oprah Winfrey, my grandmothers, George HW Bush, my dad
    Movie: You’ve Got Mail, Thomas Crowne Affair (w/ Brosnan & Russo!), It’s Complicated
    First thing in A.M. : brew coffee & 20 minutes with God (devotional and/or scripture).
    Happy place: Lake Rabun, Georgia

    1. Ooh, “It’s Complicated” is a good pick. I watch that one a lot. And 20 minutes with God in the morning — #goals.


Previous Article

Next Article