Musings + Essays

Sending Out.

By: Jen Shoop

Today, I am reprinting a modestly edited musing from the archives that many Magpies have written to me about over the years. For many of us, the message has served as a bracing morning tonic. I drink in the words and feel my spine straighten: be mindful, I tell myself. “Live care-ingly,” Mary Oliver whispers. What are you sending out today?


The other day, I came across these lines in the devotional:

“Whether consciously or subconsciously, we are always sending out something–whether that be rays of kindness, ripples of impatience, or riptides of frustration. The way we carry ourselves, the nature of our responses to others, and the way we speak, think, and act are all emitting something.”

I found myself flipping back to that passage: a chord struck. Mr. Magpie and I often interrupt ourselves while mid-conversation to interject: “Little rabbits have big ears.” It’s shorthand for “let’s pause here and pick up later, when children are out of earshot.” Sometimes this is because we’re puzzling over the behavior of people in our lives and don’t want to cast a long shadow, or we’re commenting on how drop off/pick up went and don’t want a child to feel criticized or “talked about,” or glibly visiting any manner of subjects we don’t want them repeating to their entire classrooms. We are aware in those moments of the way parenthood plunged us into the lifelong responsibility of modeling good. And it’s not just the words we say, either: my children absorb everything. My body language, my pace, my mood, my level of distraction. There have been times in the last few years where I have been upset or sad or frustrated and my children have pressed their bodies against mine, laying their heads on my shoulder, and I know — with the pique of heartache — that they are reading my movements and attempting to console me. In the middle of our move to D.C., I found my bristling nervous energy rubbing off on my children (mini was waking early — 5 a.m.! — and mini-tantrums erupted frequently) and our terrier, Tilly, who was nippy and agitated. Sometimes this is how it must be, or at least that’s what I told myself while beleaguered with logistics and stress. I cannot completely conceal my emotions. I cannot protect my children from everything I feel. I am not a robot! But after reflecting on those words from my devotional, I thought: “What am I sending out on a normal day?” What picture do my children have of me? What picture do I want them to have? How can inch closer to the version I want?

I want this to be a part of my new morning conversation with myself. And not just as a parent. Sometimes I find myself nearly pawing the ground with impatience when I am waiting in a long check-out line at the grocery store. What vibe am I sending out then? Not the version of myself to which I aspire, to be sure. How can I be more mindful of my posture, my body language, my openness to the beautiful happenstances that can transpire when interacting with other parents at drop-off, while passing neighbors on evening walks with Tilly, when stretching alongside other runners in Rock Creek Park? What energy am I putting out into the world? What do I want it to be?


+Praise for a “normal day.”

+More inspiration from this devotional here.


+And how prayer got me through catching COVID.

Shopping Break.

+Shopbop sent me a big bag of beauty products to try, and I was especially excited by this Trish McEvoy mascara. If you’ve been following for awhile, you know a) mascara is my favorite beauty product, and b) I hate tubing mascaras. Will this be the one that changes my mind? A mom at my children’s school has the most amazing lashes and I once stopped to ask her what she uses: this was her secret. I’m game to try! (I’ll share more of my reviews from this delivery, but I have to say I was also very excited about this ginormous Stoney Clover pouch they sent? It’s HUGE and a really good quality. I’m such a freak about pouches! Never enough!)

+Ordered this top. I love little statement blouses like this to tuck into jeans for everyday wear. Also eyeing this for date night/dressier wear. The color is so good and will go with anything/everything. I’m imagining with leather-effect wide-legs for some reason. Love.

+Cutest lamp, and a fab runner on sale for $119 (originally $358).

+Cute little gift for a two year old. Just ordered to give a little one! I love that brand — beautiful, well-designed toys. More of my go-to gifts for little ones here.

+Veronica Beard has some great snags in its sale section right now. I love these platforms in the merlot color for fall/Thanksgiving festivities. So good! And this paisley top is somehow $119? J. Crew price for incredible quality. Finally — this jacket situation?! My mind is blown. In my cart, itching to click “purchase.”

+A bunch of you loved these Nike casual sneaks I featured the other day. I wanted to mention that I totally lived in their Daybreaks last year and have still been getting a ton of wear out of them, even now that they’re a little worse for the wear (white shoes with white suede trim are hard to keep tidy). Nike knows a thing or two about making a comfortable sneaker. I have also been wearing these Onitsukas a lot — they are SO cool, IMO — but they aren’t (yet?) that comfortable? I find the upper digs into my ankle and I’m curious how long they’ll take to break in. I also discovered this brand which has a Veja vibe but is less ubiquitious / more under-the-radar than Veja.

+Oooo these statement earrings for holiday…!

+This dress is 70% off and I have no reason to buy it but it is SO GORGEOUS. Love the color, the pleating, the delicate straps. Just a kiss of the Gwyneth-winning-her-Oscar dress.

+This has to be my all-time favorite bedtime book for children. I’ve now given it to at least six families. I might as well just keep a stock of them in my gift cubby! More favorite bedtime books for kids here.

+It’s strep szn (wah!). My pediatrician had a chat with my children: “keep your hands out of your mouths, please!” and advised them to wash their hands before lunch/snack. I bought this bulk set of keychain-style sanitizers to clip onto their lunches and backpacks.

+These sherpa loafers are beyond cute.

+More artifacts from our move to D.C.: an inaugural round of utility buys for our then-new home. We still love all of these items!

+Cute cord top for under $50.

+Just the most handsome coat ever. More great outerwear here.

+Couldn’t resist buying this footie for a friend’s baby! The pattern. I bundled it with a Jellycat stuffie.

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10 thoughts on “Sending Out.

  1. Your grocery store comment made me think of the book The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry. One of the practices he suggests is actually selecting the longest line at the grocery store, and the way he expanded on the idea really stuck with me. I think it’s a book you might enjoy 🙂

  2. “Ripples of impatience” and “riptides of frustration” — I feel like these describe me to a T right now. (yikes)

    I so appreciate your thoughts on this, Jen. I have seen this with my daughter too (nearly 4 y.o.) — children are SO perceptive, they always have their radars tuned in! (except when you want them to do something, haha). We have had a lot going on recently and I KNOW she senses my frustration/agitation/restlessness, and lately I’ve been seeing more dysregulation in her. Which makes sense — because I myself have been dysregulated! Conversely, I do see that when I feel steadier, she feels more regulated as well.

    You are so right in saying that we cannot completely conceal our emotions or protect them entirely from how we feel. This might be a bold statement, but I think it’s probably even a disservice to try to do that — because they WILL and DO have unpleasant/negative emotions, now and throughout life. One thing I’ve tried to be more intentional with is verbalizing when I have an unpleasant emotion — whether frustration or sadness or anger — and verbalizing and modeling what I am doing about it, like taking deep breaths or 10 jumping jacks or whatever. While I am really, really trying to send out more positive energy, it’s not possible or realistic to always have positive emotions, and I don’t want her to fear negative emotions either. I’ve been trying to label and normalize them and show her how we can problem solve/work through a negative emotion as well.

    I’ll be thinking of that quote today. Thank you for prompting this reflection!

    1. So relate to this, Mia! These little ones are absolute sponges — mirrors! The move here really reaffirmed that for me. Thanks for sharing your approach to this issue in modeling “problem solving” our ways through negative emotions. I know sometimes my daughter has yelled: “I don’t WANT to take a deep breath” when I am sitting next to her, trying to work through a moment of ENORMOUS emotions, and it’s dawned on me that this might be because I never show myself “taking a deep breath.” Reasonable!


  3. Such a good question to start each day! I know for a fact that I frequently radiate frustrated/impatient/resentful energy. I’ve gotten better at recognizing this in the moment, and controlling at least the yelling part, but I’m sure my children (and everyone else!) can still pick up those negative vibes. In fact, my 4yo recently asked me why I had an angry voice…and I wasn’t even angry! So, lots of work to do here. Especially for us moms. Motherhood can be a “constant provocation” as I just read somewhere.

    1. You and me both, Stephanie!! My almost 4 year old asked me this very same question too, just this morning, when we were trying to get out the door for school drop-off. Still trying to problem solve how to make that time of the day go more smoothly…

      But yes, “constant provocation” — exactly. Our emotions are all tied up into everything we do as parents, for better or for worse.

    2. Hi Stephanie! Thank you for your candor in sharing this — right there with you. Lots of work for me, too. It’s funny this post went live today, as I woke up to a text from our nanny saying she would be out sick and my day immediately inverted itself on its head. I went from looking forward to a leisurely pace this morning (as mini is out of school for a teacher training day) to frantically trying to rearrange my morning, check on my husband’s schedule, postpone a coffee date, think through activities for my children, and find a back-up sitter for this evening’s planned date night. The morning was so chaotic as a result! A few times, I had to pause and think about my post earlier today and right myself. I mean, really! What’s the big deal? Just go with the flow, Jen! It was helpful to return to this baseline question.


  4. I recently discovered your blog and it’s quickly become my favorite way to start my day. Your writing is so honest, thoughtful and always sparks an insight or new reflection for me. And…your shopping pics are fabulous! Thanks for putting this out into the world. It’s the best kind of treat!

    1. Wow – thank you so much for the incredibly kind note! Happy to have you here and so glad these posts are resonating with you. Thank you, Kathleen!


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