Musings + Essays

Light + Color.

By: Jen Shoop

I have been thinking a lot about a partridge pair of thoughts —

“It is easy to be heavy: hard to be light,”


“Making everything black and white is easier — but lazier — than looking at the world in multiple ways.”

I am trying to situate my thinking between these two aspirational tent poles when I am approaching relationships and especially when considering the decisions and burdens of others. Both mindsets require exertion and, well, mindfulness. I do not always (in fact, rarely) live these out instinctually, and so I am learning to tell myself, when I am in the throes of a knee-jerk reaction, whether my feelings are hurt or I find myself shouldering a burden that is not mine to carry — “Hey, let me think on this for a minute and give myself and others the grace to process this.” Sometimes when I am fretting over something specific — an interaction with someone else, a failing on my end, some issue that is not mine to worry about or beyond my ken — Mr. Magpie encourages me to listen to a mindfulness podcast. (He uses the Calm app and I have Headspace.) The chief benefit of this exercise is creating some blank space between my immediate, meteoric-speed emotions and a more rational perch. In this headspace, I am able to visualize my thoughts and anxieties as discrete bubbles that I can either slick away or pause to consider with more care. Some of those bubbles are damned determined to stick around, and so I need to bat them away or put them in their place or just accept their condition of semi-permanence for the time being.

I think sometimes I rush to solve things too quickly. No one likes to live in a state of disequilibrium, with emotions or thoughts ill-sorted and half-worked-through, and I think this is why it is easy (though unfair) to paint things in black and white. Complexities resolve into turgid and unforgiving categories. So-and-so was wrong; I was right. It is better to be this way than that way. Etc. But I think I am learning that one key to living with more light than heaviness, and more color than the severity of a black-and-white, is recognizing that neither mindset is automatic and that I must move with measure and careful thought. It sounds contradictory: slow down and work through the things in order to be lighter? But yes. It’s one of those up-front investments, long-term pay-offs. If I’m sweeping things out of my way or steeling myself to not think about certain things or unthinkingly absorbing heavinesses, I will just end up in a leaden knot.

I realize this post is vague on details, and intentionally so. The prompt for me today, which may be provocative to you, too, is: How can I slow down and work to release any negative energies I am carrying around?


+Related: what energy are you putting out there on a daily basis?

+The first quote above came from a wise Magpie reader in response to this prompt. So many great quotes in the comments!

+On “doing English.”

+On New York City as “a matter of mood.” (What isn’t a matter of mood?!)

+On pessimism.

+Not everything that weighs you down is yours to carry.

+On seeing my parents the first time after being separated from them for over a year during COVID.

Shopping Break.

+It’s weird to get excited about children’s bowls and spoons, but this set has been incredible. I bought them on something of a lark two years ago and we use them almost daily. The bowls are the perfect size for a child’s portion (cereal, pasta, etc) or a little snack (grapes, popcorn, etc), and they can be microwaved. I also find them great for crafts/activities/sensory play (like when they are playing with water or soap foam), and the spoons are perfect for both science experiments (stirring things, dumping things) and eating yogurt, soup, etc.

+I got a bunch of questions about the materials I used for a winter sensory play setup on shared on Instastory and linked exact items we used here!

+Oo this coat, YES. Reminds me of the styles from Shrimps and Saks Potts but maybe a tiny bit more wearable/less over the top? Target has a lookalike style, too! I would go for the brown – sophisticated-looking in that color. And Ted Baker has a similar style that is sort of in the middle, price-wise.

+Hard to see in the pictures, but this cute $102 mini dress has black bows down the front and j’adore!!! Would look so great with opaque tights or maybe these trending semi-sheer ones and some fun shoes.

+A great price on some classic French enamel cutlery.

+There must have been a bunch of returns processed recently because I found tartan nap dresses in stock in some sizes!

+If you are new here, or missed my 230 references to these last year (haven’t mentioned them in a minute), these $23 leggings are the best sub for Lululemon Aligns. I love love them. They don’t hold up as well as Aligns but are very comfortable and flattering, and for $23…!

+Do I have any Princetonians out there? This sweatshirt set in the orange tiger/navy combo would be a cute subtle way to get your little ones on board with a future there :). Also cute for those of us non-Princetonians!

+These earrings are in my cart. SO GOOD. Like the pricepoint.

+Adorable shawl collar sweater for a little man — currently only $20!

+Ooo OOO I really love this pale pink coatigan to throw on over any old thing.

+!!! This Tonies set with a bundle of Disney stories is on sale for only $89 right now (usually $159). I already bought this for mini’s birthday. A lot of positive reviews on this screen-free storytelling tool that children can use on their own. If you’re still hoping to find a big statement gift for a little one, this is a great option.

+Speaking of toys, discovered this toy leaf blower via Emily Hertz and I think micro needs this! He loves imitating his Dad. He’s set for Christmas but I think I will buy and hold onto this for his birthday in May.

+You know how I feel about turtlenecks…this is a good one.

+Thinking ahead to spring

+This sherpa duffel coat for a little one is on sale, and I’m swooning over this plaid style.

+Fab chunky turtleneck to throw on over leggings or jeans.

+Chic toy storage option if you want to keep toys accessible in a family room/living space — love that it has a lid!

+LOVE the collar and shape of this little fleece zip-up. This $40 option also looks chic in the ivory on ivory option.

+For those of you lucky snowbirds getting away somewhere warm this winter: I can’t stop thinking about this gingham swimsuit! So, so cute!

+Adorable toile dress. Love the long sleeves – so unexpected. Could work for a spring affair.

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2 thoughts on “Light + Color.

  1. Interesting! I have the curse/blessing of seeing all sides of situations, lots of shades of gray. I used to wrestle with it, thinking it made me seem wishy-washy, not solid in my beliefs. But as I’ve aged, it’s served me well in my work and home life by enabling me to smooth out the edges for others and extend grace. The flip side is that seeing (and feeling!) all the layers can complicate things and weigh heavily at times, limiting my ability to land quickly and stand firmly in a position. A work in progress, I suppose!
    Hope your quarantine is in the rear view mirror and you can enjoy the season fully soon! xo H

    1. Hi Heidi! This makes complete sense — I guess we’re all trying to find a middle ground / balance on this spectrum!


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