Musings + Essays

The Magpie Diary: June 23, 2024.

By: Jen Shoop

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I have a strange personal mantra that I’ve never disclosed to anyone before because I know how it sounds: wrong-footed, insouciant. Frankly, it runs against one of my core tenets for living: that everything is the most important thing, and that how you do anything is how you do everything.

But — I have my reasons. Hear me out:

Multiple times a week, I tell myself: “This won’t matter.” It could be when I’m ironing out convoluted logistics for the children, attempting to work through a problem with a customer service representative, running late. My site is down. I said the wrong thing. I forgot to call someone back. I missed the memo about free dress at school. Etc. I am so determined to be on-the-ball all the time that minor slippages like these can send me into a tailspin. I find that my stress operates on a binary scale: it’s on or off, with virtually no gradations between. Whether its source is trivial (“oops! forgot the cupcakes at home!”) or not-so-trivial (waiting on lab results), stress moves through my body the exact same way: I feel nauseous, and winded, and as though I’m vibrating out of my body.

So any time I feel my stress level skyrocketing over something ostensibly small, I tell myself: “This won’t matter.” It’s a lie, honestly, because these things do matter to me, and I always get them done, see them through, make the apology, feel badly. But! It’s like wrapping the angst inside a cushion, dampening its fury. I tell myself: this won’t matter because I know that in a few days, a week, a month, my present agony will be nearly forgotten. I remember when we were buying our house, I was colossally stressed out. I was convinced that something was going to go wrong. Moving (especially between states) is like threading a zig-zagging needle: a chain of related, high-stakes maneuvers that must happen just so, or the dominos fall, and in a big way. You might lose your earnest money payment! You might forfeit the moving truck you’d paid for in full! You might have to pay two rents at once! You might have to switch brokers, or start the search again, or change your parameters! In the midst of the move, I called my sister and she said: “Oh, Jen. I know. But trust me: you’ll get it done, and you’ll be sitting in your beautiful new home, and you’ll completely forget about all of this.” She was right, of course (I just had to google “earnest money” because I wasn’t sure I had the language down), but her saying it then was also a gift in and of itself. This won’t matter, she was saying. I’m giving you permission to de-classify this as an emergency.

The language (“this won’t matter”) is not quite right, or needs to be sharpened — but it’s pithy and quick and exactly what I have been telling myself every few days for years and years now. It takes the sting out of the bee, you know?

Related, this week, I came across the quote: “it’s not necessary to react to everything you notice.” It’s become a helpful antecedent to my “this won’t matter” mantra. Before I even let myself twist into a posture of stress, I try to remind myself: “I don’t need to react to this.” (Or, not yet.) Small examples abound: I notice a truck blocking me into my parking spot; we are running late to school; my appointment was canceled without any notification. Instead of flinging myself headfirst into frenetic problem-solving and catastrophizing (“if I can’t find the truck driver to move the truck, I’ll be late to my appointment, and I couldn’t get an appointment for months…!”), I am teaching myself to anodyze with: “I don’t need to react to this yet. This is data.” If things do in fact go sideways, I then lean on “this won’t matter” to resituate.

Curious if you have any similar mantras that help you through life’s minor stressors?

Also this week…

+Above: Mr. Magpie and I attended a “white party” where we wore (mostly) white! We had such a fun time getting dolled up and enjoying cocktails with our friends. It had been a minute since I’d gotten truly decked out for a special occasion, and I loved every minute of it. I had my hair blown out for the occasion (my favorite indulgence) by Glamsquad. (Reminder: $20 off for new users with code JenniferS and $15 off for repeat users with code JenniferS15.)

+Our first blue crabs of the season, in honor of Father’s Day! Mr. Magpie and his dad drive all the way out to Calvert County to get them from a place called Mel’s that sells crabs out of a truck in a liquor store parking lot — exactly as it should be.

+I made my first lattice-top pie for Father’s Day and it turned out so well, if I don’t say so myself. I used Stella Parks’ recipe. She writes great recipes, with just the right amount of precise detail.

+On their first day of summer break, we surprised the kids with new books and Lego sets. These 3-in-1 creator lego sets are just amazing — such a good price, but come with three different instruction sets to build three different (intricate!) designs with the same pieces. My son made all three back-to-back and then re-built the first one again. He also carried the pterodactyl design around everywhere this weekend (seen below). Mini did the same with her parrot!

+The best summer candle. It smells dreamy — like cut grass, water, sunshine, tomatoes? My home smells like The Hamptons! This would make a great gift, by the way. How gorgeous is the packaging?

+Top: new beauty/skincare I’ve been testing (my early review is that I’m extremely impressed with the Remedy dark spot treatment! I’ve had one spot on my left cheek that just won’t leave and it’s really lightened up after several applications of the Remedy), and bottom: new skincare I love. Dr. Diamond’s Metacine sent me their skincare duo a month ago and I was thrilled to try after hearing Courtney Grow rave about it. I’ve been using daily (a.m. and p.m.) for a month and am very impressed. It really helps with skin firmness. It is pricey. I have been able to replace all of my other serums / tinctures I used to use, though, with the exception of my vitamin c serum, which I still use on top. I mentioned this on Instagram and a reader asked how long I estimate the product will last. I checked and my bottle is still pretty full a month in (I tried to take a pic of its level below), so would estimate it lasts maybe 4-6 months? If you’re on the fence about both, I would personally recommend the plasma. I notice an immediate change in my skin after applying. Pores shrink and my skin feels tighter (not in a bad way — not like, itchy tight, more like sucked in?).

+It was a week of pre-birthday pampering. My mom and I visited the brand new Four Seasons Spa in Georgetown and I had a divine 90 minute hot stone massage. I am always surprised by how good it feels to have my forearms and feet massaged. Pre-massage, I anticipate relief in my back, but it’s those smaller, heavily used parts of my body that need it the most. I also was in heaven when the therapist worked on my legs. Running every other morning for over two months has left me ultra-sore. Earlier in the week, I had my hair cut and colored by Ismail at George Salon, also at the Four Seasons. He is the best. I went closer to my original brunette coloring than I’ve gone in years, and I love it!

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+On Wednesday, we took in the Alison Krauss/Robert Plant concert at Wolf Trap. They were incredible — both such talented vocalists — and Plant is a ham on stage. He is so fun to watch! We packed a delightful spread: charcuterie, anchovies with salsa verde on bread, a pasta dish with arugula, olives, and pecorino romano that’s meant to be served at room temp (Landon made the pasta from scratch — rolled it out and everything!), and absinthe-marinated melon topped with prosciutto. Our friends packed French 75s and wine. It was such a beautiful and happy night. Mr. Magpie has been saying “life is good” a lot lately as we move through our summer, and he looked over at me at Wolf Trap and said: “L.I.G.!” Our new acronym for the season. (Below: perfect picnicking cups from Match South, and my favorite picnic blanket from Weezie.)

+Picnic leftovers for lunch. Delicious.

+Bardelia sent us a sampler of their zero-proof offerings: non-alcoholic beer, spritzes, and sparkling jalapeno and blood orange drinks. I’m so glad to have these on hand to offer to guests who don’t drink, and to enjoy myself! The FIL had a few of the NA beers while enjoying crabs with us on Sunday! Bardelia offered us 15% off sitewide with code JENSHOOP15. They have such an interesting variety of mixers, zero-proof cocktails, N/A beers, etc. When I shared the photo below, a few Magpies asked about the coasters and I realized I haven’t mentioned them in awhile. These are from Proper Table, and their entire site is 25% off right now! The coasters are acrylic and wipe clean but come in the cutest / chicest patterns. They also make placemats — we use these daily. Great for messy everyday family life!

+The usual morning chaos. I know we’ll get into a rhythm with the camps and swim practices and all.the.things, but Monday caught me off guard! I had been relishing the “school is out!” feeling without thinking much about all the minute details that go into getting the kids off to a new camp, new routine, etc. I did go into this week knowing the kids might be out of snyc with themselves. I’ve noticed the past few years that my children tend to be out of sorts, whiney, clingy when we transition to and from the school year. They are creatures of habit, and their worlds are so narrow that these abrupt changes can shake the foundations! I was reminded of this after the first day of camp. We went straight to the pool for swim lessons, and my son — usually my cool cucumber — had an epic meltdown. It got to the point that another dad (whom I did not know) had to pick him up out of the water and hand him to me, dripping wet. Oh, it was a scene! But I knew, even as the clouds were forming, that this was all about the transition. Once I had wrangled him into my arms, he pressed his face into my neck and hugged me tightly. I knew he’d just needed reassurance. He’s just turned five! These changes loom large. Trying to go easy and give them (and myself) a lot of grace…

+Last but not least: below: signs you have a little boy at home. You must stop the dryer to remove the rocks that are clanging around the tub, having fallen out of his pockets. Our lives become mosaics of the people we love.


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24 thoughts on “The Magpie Diary: June 23, 2024.

  1. Had an old advisor that always asked when stress and panic started to creep up was, “in the end, does this really matter?” It was almost always a no, but also really helped us focus when the answer was yes!

  2. Thanks for sharing Jen. I’m not sure I have a regular mantra but I do try to habitually center myself, and both mantras you shared felt like a helpful voicing of how to become centered. Especially “it’s not necessary to react…” It’s so easy for me to compulsively engage with whatever – and such a relief to remember that I don’t have to.

    1. 100% — the relief of thinking “oh wait, I’m not required to exert anything here…yet, at least!”


  3. My mom, sister, and I often find ourselves quoting Fred Armisen spoofing Joy Behar on SNL- he/she says “so WHAT? who CARES?” is this very specific way and it’s always a good reminder to just let some stuff gooooo!

  4. I like the similar but slightly softer mantra “I won’t remember this 2 weeks from now.” Helps, as you say, take the sting out of the bee 🙂

  5. We are opposites! I remind myself that, usually, good enough is good enough. Of course there are exceptions but I need to pull myself back from perfectionist tendencies so I have learned when 100% is necessary vs when I can back off. On another note, would you mind sharing a bit more locale info about the crab guy? I’m local (also go to George’s!)and would love a trusted vendor. Thanks!!

  6. Love when unknown angel people cross our paths at just the right time. I’m glad that man was there to help with your son when you needed it most. I was recently in a busy checkout line picking up some grocery items for a dinner party that night. I was cringing inside with worry because the clock was ticking and I had to be back home in time for an important conference call. Debating if I should just return the items and leave knowing I probably wouldn’t have time to come back. When all of a sudden this kind woman in front of me turned around out of the blue and said please go before me you have lesser items.

  7. A manta that has helped me when it feels like something big and stressful or disappointing interrupts the day:

    “Was it a bad day, or was it a bad 10 minutes that you milked all day?”

    Feel like I saw it on tumblr ages ago, and I was surprised by how much I love the tough-love tone of it, like I’m telling myself (or, better, giving myself permission) to buck up and move on and not let it ruin the rest of my day.

    1. Right?! So sweet. One Magpie wrote that she saved all (or most of) the rocks and coins and little treasures her son brought home in a little jar. He’s nine now and she loves the reminder of those earlier years!


  8. Thank you, I really needed this today. I am going to add “I don’t need to react to this yet” to my arsenal. Another mantra I love – “I am not on that committee.” 🙂

    Thanks for sharing, it’s so helpful to know I’m not the only one who struggles this way!

    1. Yes! So happy this resonated. I was with a few girlfriends over the weekend and we talked a lot about this mantra — “I don’t necessarily need to react to what I observe.” Incredible how often it cropped up!!


  9. Lovely read this morning. My manta for those stressful times is “life is messy”. It helps me remember that life isn’t supposed to be perfect and that the challenges are all part of the beauty.

    1. Amen. I think about that a lot, too, in a small way: when my house feels untidy, the kitchen counter is strewn with miscellany, there are still spoons at the breakfast table. I am such a neatnik that sometimes this can make me go batty, but I find myself saying: “Life is messy. These are the signs of a well-loved, well-used home.” It does make me feel calmer almost immediately.

      On a grander scale, your comment also reminded me that the point of life is not to feel nothing. You’re living and you’re going to feel things! So let it happen!

      Thanks for sharing that!


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