Sailing Solo.

By: Jen Shoop

*Image via.

Earlier this week, I came across a somewhat depressing set of infographics on who we spend our time with over the course of our lives, or rather — how little time we actually have with the people we love. Not one to dwell on the negative, I saw this as a provocation to make more space for my relationships. Sometimes I am flying through my day and feel I barely have time to shoot off a quick text, or take a few minutes for a call. I am determined to correct that oversight and carve out more time for not only the quick catch-ups and “just thinking of you’s” but for lunch dates and travel and “I’m going to get my nails done, want to come?”

One profound and more positive takeaway from the data was that time alone steadily increases as we age. I consider this a positive, because — though we may not be able to control how many hours we have with our loved ones — we can work to build a strong relationship with ourselves. This brings to mind the theme we continue to return to as a Magpie community: the notion of becoming an expert in yourself — befriending yourself. I now see that this is not only an act of grace but also of thriving survival. We have, God willing, a long time to be in a relationship with ourselves. May we make it a loving and kind one — one in which we laugh at ourselves, marvel at ourselves, push ourselves to do better when we fall short, and afford ourselves soft landings when we need them.

Last summer, we visited with Mr. Magpie’s cousin and her husband at Deep Creek Lake. They are adventurous sailors and entrepreneurs who run incredible expeditions on their fleet of vessels out of Ushuaia, the Southern-most jumping off point to Antartica. Over dinner one night, Fede told us about a solo trip he took across the Atlantic Ocean. I was astounded that he’d spent such a sustained period of time entirely alone, without phone or television or internet, entirely responsible for his well-being and that of the vessel he was captaining. When I asked about what it was like, he shrugged: “You get to know yourself really well.” The shrug signaled that earning this self-knowledge — though perhaps challenging to come by — was a good and necessary thing. A rite of passage.

I think about Fede sailing across the globe when I am in moments of self-doubt, or when I am sitting in strain and disappointment with myself. As with any relationship, you will not always be in perfect harmony with yourself — and that’s OK. You will not always do the right thing — and that’s also OK. You will not always like the version of yourself you see reflected in your interactions with others — and that’s OK, too. Because you do have a long string of tomorrows in which you can make a change, and find your better angel, and learn to feel at home in yourself. You are going to be sailing for a very long while: you must take the long view. No feelings are final and no turbulence permanent — but you will still be sitting with yourself when the sun rises tomorrow morning and sets in the evening, and it is worth it to get comfortable with the company.


+Molisano Midnights.

+Writing, fishing and the Roaring Fork.

+How do you spend time alone?

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Shopping Break.

This post may contain affiliate linksIf you make a purchase through the links below, I may receive compensation.

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+I was just reading about this “perfecting fluid” from YonKa — has a blurring effect on skin. Want to try as a primer this holiday season…

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4 thoughts on “Sailing Solo.

  1. Well, I had occasion to laugh at myself recently. But I admit my first impulse was to be disappointed!! I took my girls to a bookstore last week after school to pick up a few presents and an advent calendar. We were on a mission to beat the worst of rush hour on the way home, so when we all agreed on an advent calendar, I didn’t look at it too closely. The next morning when we opened the first flap, I realized the one we chose was in Spanish! Ha. This was when the wave of self-reproach hit me. But I really tried to pull it together so as to not ruin it for them (who were actually excited at the novelty of it, especially my first grader who’s learning Spanish at school). I do hablo español un poco myself, and the scripture verses are listed in the flaps, so if I get stumped translating we can just look it up. But oh my. It was definitely hard at first to laugh at myself!

    1. I’m so glad you were able to push through and find the humor in that! Actually kind of cute / special. Something they might remember years from now in a charming way!!


  2. Your content continues to be a source of JOY and seems on point for my own life. I know I am learning more about myself in my current position, perhaps profession. As an employee of my Alma Mater for uni (undergrad) I am reminded daily of my 18-21year old self and who I became in grad school and the past 10 years. I do pray I remain healthy and well and as you put it, God willing have a long time here on Earth. Thank you for your content in validating how I feel! You spark JOY! And I love the product recommendations!! Chic, elegant, classic, and sophisticated.

    1. Hi Michelle! Thank you SO much for the incredibly kind note. It really meant a lot to me today — more than you know! I’m so glad my writings have been resonating with you. I love the idea that you’re back in your old “stomping ground” seeing yourself with fresh eyes. Beautiful!


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