Musings + Essays

New Year’s Thoughts.

By: Jen Shoop

I’ve gone back and forth on the subject of new year’s resolutions over the years. On the one hand, I’m a big believer in putting things out there, on paper, if only to clarify aspirations and translate them into actionable items. (I also think there is something to the notion of “manifesting” goals by focusing on desired outcomes, though not in all cases or circumstances.) I worked in three different start-up settings and found that one of the biggest levers for progress in the early days of any new enterprise is being disciplined around 30- and 90-day plans in particular. Anything longer in scope lacks the granularity you need to feel as though you are making material progress, especially when your work load looks so different on a day-to-day basis (i.e.,: I might be setting up SquareSpace for a simple website one day, presenting to an investor the next, and working through wireframes with a designer on the third). And without the structure of a 30 or 60 or 90 day plan to remind me of the slightly broader brushstrokes at hand — God help me! So, I do feel sitting down and putting pen to paper when it comes to goals is critical.

However —

We have all been living with tremendous stress, with plans and normalcies upended and guidelines and timelines constantly changing. It is strenuous living with so many unknowns. In this context, I am reminded of the quote: “Pressure is a choice.” Do I feel now is the best time to choose to set new goals for myself? Will they be another thing to juggle and possibly feel badly about if unmet? Is now the time to opt in?

On the flip side: we are living through tough times, but we are still living our only wild and precious lives. This is not a dress rehearsal, or an ante-room, or a holding space. I am flustered at the thought of deferring meaningful personal goals because of the pandemic and then regretting those postponements later. Maybe now is the time. I am in turn reminded of the quote: “The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now.”

Where do I go with this thought train of mismatched cars? Is there a middle ground? Something between goals and inertia?

I have tried to set themes in years past — “grace” being my favorite — and I like the gentleness of this approach. It provides a north star when thinking through situations or reflecting. However, it can only offer suffused light — not the series of path torches on which I occasionally want to lean. I think, instead, this year I will set goals and then scale them back. Instead of: “run every other day,” I’ll choose “run twice a week.” Instead of: “two books a month,” I’ll choose: “Always be in the middle of reading a book.” (Who cares about the pace? Just have a book at the ready, downloaded and inviting.) Maybe 2022 is about lowering expectations and grading on a curve.

Where do you land on the subject? Does anyone have a novel approach to resolution-writing?


+I did write resolutions last year. I did well on 3 and 4, completely fell apart on 1 and 2, and give myself middling marks on 5.

+What did you learn last year? I need to reflect on this prompt myself. Here were some learnings the last go around (in 2019). A good “learning” vintage.

+”The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” (Do you agree?)

+Remembrances of my grandad.

+To the athlete at the start line.

+How do you start your day?

Shopping Break.

+This ridiculously stunning dress is my top contender for my sister’s deferred wedding celebration, scheduled for this spring. My mom may not approve of the cutouts but gosh isn’t it gorgeous?! (More spectacular wedding guest dresses here.)

+Ordered this adorable $15 gingham bolster pillow for mini. OMG how cute?! Wish it weren’t sold out in blue or I’d buy that one for micro’s room, too! Also available in a fun oversized floor pillow size for a reading nook.

+Fun, Celine-esque crossbody in an unexpected color. Also comes in neutral colors that may be more versatile. Love how non-flashy it is — no labels — but the shape is tres chic.

+Stocked up on Hanky Panky for 40% off here in two non-hideous colors: desert rose and shng armor.

+The sherpa vest I’ve been wearing all season (generously gifted from Talbots!) just went on sale, plus an extra 40% off, bringing the price down to like $80. Great way to get the Tuckernuck look for less. I have been surprised by how much I wear this — it’s dressier than a puffer and layers nicely over knits, but not as fussy as a faux fur. I wear it on walks, throw it on over striped Kule tees and knits at home, etc. True MVP!

+Love these cheery scalloped salad plates. Come in several colors!

+So many chic Parisian women wear these Levi’s in this color. For inspo, check out Leasy in Paris.

+Adore this statement sweatshirt. I have a similar one in black I love.

+My other favorite sweatshirt: this Kule. I wear it constantly. Perfectly proportioned and a nice thin-but-not-too-thin weight.

+These shorts are a classic and come in such great colors this season.

+Just ordered a couple of these inexpensive, classic monogrammed kitchen/guest bath towels. We will be having house guests in the new year and I am finally getting around to adding some minor touches I’ve deferred for a long, long time. I also needed a few waste baskets that we’ve gone too long without — bought one of these for the upstairs!

+Coveting these unusual (and unusually chic) shades.

+Sweet necklace for us mamas.

+Have been wearing my Alo tube socks a lot while working out lately. I own in multiple colors. Nice and thick and the colors are so fabulous. I like to pull up over black leggings for a throwback Fitness Barbie vibe.

+Love this lidded bin as a way to conceal toilet paper or truly anything (trash bags! tampons! etc!) in a guest bathroom / powder bath room. Matching trash bin available.

+Banana’s collab with Harbison yielded some truly gorgeous pieces — this one could be La Ligne!

+If you have it in you, now is a great time to buy discounted Christmas/holiday gear for next year. Crate and Barrel has a ton of fabulous stuff at 50% off, including these stocking holders, this tree collar, and these glitter fronds to tuck into a tree or arrange in a vase or on a mantel.

+Not sure if we will be continuing ballet this upcoming semester for mini — I think we will try a different extracurricular (currently searching for an art class for her age — 4, almost 5 — if any locals have recs), but this under-$20 leotard/tutu combo was a must-order. She will love! Mini has owned 2 or 3 of these more expensive ones from I Love Plum over the years and they are adorable and have a nice amount of dramatic tulle to them, but Tilly (our airedale) destroyed two of them!!!

+Incredibly sad I missed out on these shoes in mini’s size.

+I feel like a Nancy Meyers protagonist should be seen wearing this $29 turtleneck.

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12 thoughts on “New Year’s Thoughts.

  1. I want to thank you for posting during the last two weeks of the year. It’s a time where most creators tend to take off but year end is busy in my industry and it’s nice to have a blog to read during my break each day. I’m going to sound cheesy but this slice/corner of the internet has a special place in my heart. Wishing you, Mr. Magpie, Mini & Micro all the best in 2022!

    1. Lauren!! Thank you so much for the sweet note. Not cheesy at all — completely made my day :). Thank you for your loyal readership! Happy new year!! Cheers to a bright 2022.


  2. Try the mussels at Chez Billy Sud in Georgetown! You’ll be a moules/mussel lover again I promise. And the frites … yum!

  3. I, too, have chosen New Year’s themes in recent years, and have returned again and again to the theme of ‘grace.’ This has proven to be a helpful guide in a number of ways — showing grace to others, to myself, speaking with grace… Even walking with grace has been a nice little mental nudge and a reminder to slow down and not rush through every moment (when possible, of course). I agree with you on the ‘suffused light’ of such a theme, though, which is perhaps why I have added a few assorted goals along the way. Reading is always on the list, as is daily gratitude. I have swapped exercise goals for intentional movement, which has proven to be a good choice as I have exercised more than in years I have set a specific exercise goal. Perhaps that is related more to time in life than any intention set at the start of the year, but it’s working so I won’t poke around too much at the mechanics.
    My favorite ‘resoultions’ in the past few years, though, were triggered by a silly conversation with dear friends one winter. Tired of quickly ‘failing’ at the resolution game, my friend somewhat jokingly announced that she was opting for ‘achievable goals’ that year, lowering the bar dramatically. Her resolution that year was to “give gin another chance” — this coming many years after an unfortunate evening in college. We all hopped on her bandwagon, and ever since then, I have set an additional resolution always to have a bottle of champagne chilling in the fridge. It paired well with that year’s theme of saying yes to joy, and it seemed light, fun, and optimistic. A few years later, this resolution is now just a house rule, and a tasty one at that.

    1. Oh my gosh, so much to love in these comment! “Give gin another chance” — ha! I like that idea for foods I’ve written off. I feel embarrassed saying this because I write like we’re huge foodies but I have not really liked moules/mussels for years now after having a bad batch. I just have not been able to get over the texture/taste of the bad ones. But I feel like I’m old enough that I need to give them a fresh try. Maybe I’ll “give moules another chance.” I like the subtext of this resolution, though: try new things. Or try things again. Just open the hatches a little. Stretch the arms. Love this!

      I also love your revision of a specific exercise goal to “intentional movement.” As soon as you wrote that I realized how much more easily that could be incorporated into my life. Like, I can imagine just going for a ten minute walk or doing a quick mat exercise or talking the long route home or whatever to tick that goal. Thanks for the thought!


  4. Finding a sweet spot with goals/resolutions is tough for sure. Last year I used the cultivate what matters planner, and I liked some aspects but overall I felt that it was overkill for a stay at home mom. This year I’ll just stick with my weekly to do list notepad. What seems most exciting and doable for me is some mashup of Mackenzie Horan’s 101 in 1001 list and Gretchen Rubin’s 22 for 2022 list. I like that there’s an opportunity for listing fun things that you actually want to do(!) alongside the more typical self-improvement style resolutions. And I like that it’s more task-oriented…I can sit down every month and pick a few items to focus on and accomplish. This feels much better than trying to have a yearlong intention to be more patient with my kids, or more mindful, or to get outside everyday, etc. Last year I was pretty successful at getting together with specific friends regularly, reading, and maintaining my workout schedule. I was not so great about spending dedicated phone-free time playing with my kids, and “make 2020-2021 family photo album” was on my monthly list for…possibly every single month and is still just barely started.

    Here’s to 2022! May it be successful, however we choose to define success!

    1. I love these thoughts — the “22 for 2022” feels like a good speed for me, too. Also, couldn’t agree more with your rallying cry: “may it be successful, however we choose to define success.” Some years it’s OK to have a modest list of goals!


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