Musings + Essays


By: Jen Shoop

I’ve asked you in the past — how do you gain a sense of perspective in a situation that is spiraling or stressful? I love the rubric of asking myself how long the situation will matter: Will this matter in a day? A week? A year? More recently, I have also found it helpful to take a minute to imagine myself explaining the situation to a friend. What would I emphasize or de-emphasize? At what point would I contextualize the matter in relation to my friend’s life and goings-on?

There is a specific scenario I have in mind that predicates this point: a few years ago, I bored my friend to sleep by detailing the ins and outs of the preschool application process one evening over wine. I cringe when I think back on it. It was new terrain for me, I was going through it alone (no close friends were enrolling their children at that time!), and I was determined to make the right decision and so I was being vulnerable, but still. I should have known better than to drone on about it to a girlfriend who was struggling to have children herself, and who might think sending a two-year-old to a private pre-school in Manhattan was borderline insane to begin with. A few years later, she made a comment in passing that let me know I had indeed gone off the deep end. It was a good lesson, and one I have learned in other permutations dozens of other times over the past few years. These experiences of over-sharing and over-self-indulgence have on the one hand made me much more sensitive to cue-taking and on the other hand — for better or worse — left me a bit more withholding as a general proposition. But mainly, they have established markers that help me “drive within the lines” in the sense that I now have a better sense for when I am exhausting a topic, and I more intuitively visualize the relationship between whatever is weighing on my heart and whatever is weighing on theirs. I know better when to pull on the reins.

And so I find that imagining a conversation with a friend on a given topic helps me resituate myself. I don’t do this to undermine my own feelings, or to downplay whatever is on my mind at a given point — but more to float above for a few minutes, to perch somewhere outside my meandering knot of thoughts.

I have leaned on this prompt a fair amount lately, as I work through the stresses of finding a home, leaving New York, setting up in the DC area. Somehow, imagining myself talking through whatever is draining me on a particular day inevitably reminds me of the fantastic opportunity we have in front of us, and I find myself saying (in imagined exchange with a friend): “But it’s all leading to the right place. We’ll get through it.”

What about you? How do you find a perch above an emotional fracas?


+Recently-found perspective on losing the New York I know.

+Our decision to move back to D.C.

+This spring, in the long shadow of COVID, has particularly resonant meaning.

+On choosing English as a major — so many interesting comments on this one.

Shopping Break.

+This popular $60 swimsuit is back in a fun red color!

+I feel like a lot of us are into this dress shape for summer — works with bump!

+Adorable blockprint cosmetics bags at a fantastic price.

+Great longline sportsbras — have been hearing such good things about this brand!

+This pendant light is just so good — note the dimensions! Big enough to work in a formal dining room.

+Outnet has a surprisingly good cache of discounted Zimmermann pieces, like this pretty lilac top.

+I have several expecting mom friends who swore by this loose-fit sweatshirt during pregnancy, but totally works sans bump too! Love it in the stripe!

+Cute summer trousers. Imagining wearing these over a swimsuit or with high heels and white silk blouse!

+Hello! These croc-effect slides are SO chic for the price!

+A great crib at a great price. Just love this look.

+Totally and utterly in love with these gorgeous blouses from new-to-me label Andion. This is just TOO cute!

+Loretta Caponi vibes for less.

+WOW — gorgeous grass-cloth wrapped furniture custom made for a reasonable price.

+In case you want to refresh your bathroom decor

+Should have mentioned these adorable hats in my roundup of amazing H&M new arrivals.

+Lele Sadoughi facemasks in simple colors are on sale.

+Festive ALC dress on sale — cute wedding guest situation! More wedding guest options here (trying to keep this updated!).

+How great are these bib and bento box sets for littles?!

+Fun little chairs.

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2 thoughts on “Perching.

  1. A very wise professor I once had used to say “this is just a moment”. It’s so helpful to remember that life is made up of so many of them – and I’m going to add your questions to this mantra! (Currently, should I buy a double umbrella stroller to take to the beach? I know this won’t matter in a year!)

    1. I love that, Kristin — “this is just a moment.” Another Magpie made a somewhat similar comment on a post about NYC that has been on my mind since she shared it — “New York existed long before me, and will exist long after me, too.” Sometimes it’s good to see yourself as the tiny speck you are in the enormous sweep of history/time.


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