Musings + Essays

May: Month of Good Vibrations.

By: Jen Shoop

I have always had a special devotion to the month of May. It draws me back to those cocoon-like final weeks of elementary school, when we’d run on the asphalt without coats, and pass afternoons cleaning out our desks and attending awards ceremonies, and summer lay just ahead, a soft landing. May is also the month of Mary in the Catholic Church, and processing along Massachusetts Avenue into the cool echo of Annunciation Church as an eight or nine year old, encircled by tiny angelic voices singing “Salve Regina,” bearing fistful-sized posies to deposit at Mary’s feet, is a cornerstone memory for me. Of what? I do not know. Something holy, something inherited, something both paraliturgical and divine. To Mary, too, I hold a special devotion, just like my mother. I have said many a low Mass with her, forging my way through and around the toughest times. Our hope in sorrow and in woe, Salve Regina. (Amen!)

In popular culture, for facile reasons, January is the appointed time to start over. A new year, a new leaf. But May is my optimal time for renewal. I am already primed with memory and promise, and summer stands like an invitation just around the corner. I feel that way this year in particular, stirring against my own stagnation. I have been letting small things get to me. I have spent too much time at my desk. I have not been running in months. I find myself too often predisposed to judgment.

And so I declared to Mr. Magpie last week: “May is going to be our month of good vibrations.” What I meant was this: I recently came across a quote that read, “Offer a vibration that matches your desire rather than what-is.” This May, I intend to send out for what I want, not what I have slouched into being. What this means, in particular:

+More time outside. Specifically, I have identified a few local hikes I want to take, mainly along the Potomac River. I’ll be starting with Scott’s Run Nature Preserve which — with any luck — I will have completed by the time you read this. As Mary Oliver says: “When I among the trees…I am so distant from the hope of myself, in which I have goodness, and discernment, and never hurry through the world but walk slowly, and bow often.”

+More education. I have just signed up for my first class — a one-morning seminar — since graduate school. It is a writing workshop hosted by the Smithsonian and I find myself excited and a bit nervous, if only because I have never done anything like it before. (“Will I be forced to read my work aloud?” she wonders tremulously.) A Magpie reader sent this opportunity my way — thank you! I have also snagged tickets for an experimental theater production and a tour of the Kreeger Museum in NW D.C., which I’ve not been to in a long while. I’ve also been signing up for the newsletters of various other cultural institutions in the hopes of attending a lecture or two, possibly with my parents, followed by good wine. Comme il faut.

+More reading. Self-explanatory. But I want this to be practical, too — “more reading” can also be accomplished in short gulps, i.e., sitting to read an essay, like this excellent one on motherhood as a hero’s journey that I shared on Instagram to much emotional response from my Magpies. (It is courageous, earnest writing. Much applause for Jessi Klein.) It can also mean going down a rabbit hole online. I recently spent a lot of time reading obscure academic pages about the Celtic goddess of transformation, Etain. More on that later. But: let me follow my curiosity wherever it leads me in the wideness of language.

+More exercise. I have a set an attainable goal: run or cycle 2x a week. I am also entertaining the thought of hiring a personal trainer to set me up with a regimen for calisthenics and mild weight-lifting. This may be “phase II” stuff, but I hope to at least put in the time to identify some leads.

+More grace. I need to give people more grace. I have been finding myself flustered by trivial things — lack of punctuality, lack of response, etc. I don’t ever say anything about it, but the inward heave is neither pleasant nor productive. I want to practice the same mindfulness I attempt when I cannot sleep: I acknowledge the anxieties/thoughts and then imagine myself slicking them away, as though bubbles. I need to dismiss these irritations that truly do not matter. They are nothings. They do not deserve my emotional bandwidth. Dispense!

Would you care to join me?


+More memories born in May.

+What are you sending out into the world?


+On assuming the posture of the novitiate.

+The loft born of experience.

+On practicing self-compassion.

Shopping Break.

+Absolutely adore this dress.

+This day cream is my favorite. LOVE the way it feels, love the brightening effect, love the mild scent, love the consistency. Le best.

+A perfect gold hoop for everyday wear.

+An equally chic alternative to Hermes Orans.

+This J. Crew Factory dress is adorable!

+This silk maxi is outside my comfort zone but SO chic for an unusual evening wedding guest look.

+Jacadi makes the absolute sweetest, most classic dresses for little ones.

+Intrigued by this “Roma Heirloom Tomato” candle. I really love Tocca’s “Tuscany” candle for summer, which also boasts the scent of “vine-ripened tomatoes.”

+Still love this mirror.

+Are you into the trending poplin striped pajama shorts set (but for daytime!) trend popularized by Faithfull? You can get the look for less with this $30 Amazon set.

+SWOONING over this maxi.

+This $88 bag is absolutely adorable.

+Intrigued by this book after several of you recommended it.

+Love this chic $148 braided sandal for summer. For something a bit louder, try these.

Leave A Reply

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

9 thoughts on “May: Month of Good Vibrations.

  1. I love this post. Good for you for taking the plunge on your writing class, exercise, etc. I love how you view May as the season of renewal! This is how I’ve always felt about September — the start of the academic year, yes, and also the New Year time in the Jewish faith. It has always felt more like the new year to me than January does!


    1. Thank you! That’s so interesting – I can see September as another site ripe for renewal. A new school year, a new season, a new weather pattern, a new year in your religious faith, etc. Love it.


  2. I am with you, Jen! This May will bring two new beginnings in my life, and I feel like I am on the cusp of something bigger than myself. On Sunday, I will be received into the Catholic Church, and at the end of the month, I will move from DC–my first post grad adulthood home–to Chicago. It feels especially meaningful that these milestones will occur during the month of Mary, as my devotion to her has guided me on this path of growth in faith and in life as a young adult. Mary has accompanied me through the joys and the growing pains of finding self and meaning in my early twenties, and it is because of this that at 25, I feel gratitude and anticipation as I close out an important chapter, and an openness to the unknown as I begin a new season in a new place.

    PS- A great article on celebrating Mary in May, shared with me by a friend:

    1. I love this for you, Hayden! Big moves! Exciting!

      Thank you for sharing the article —


    1. Another vote for Great Circle – I finished it about two weeks ago and have been thinking about it ever since!

    2. …that, and another heavy endorsement for Sea Wife. The reflections on family, nature, and, especially, poetry, make for great reading, layered on top of a slow suspenseful story.

Previous Article

Next Article

Discover more from Magpie by Jen Shoop

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading