Musings + Essays

The Start Line.

By: Jen Shoop

During the Olympics, I read an interview with a coach who said: “I respect the athlete most of all at the start line.” That is, “showing up,” ambitiously putting yourself out there time after time, merits as much respect as audacious results do.

I was thinking of this the other day when my friend Grace, who recently relocated her life to Charleston, wrote on Instagram: “If you are thinking of taking a big chance, or making a big change in your life, but stepping out of your comfort zone scares you…DO IT! A wise person once told me that fear is the only thing that gets smaller as you get closer to it. Run towards the fear.”

I have found that it has become increasingly difficult to make big changes in my life as I get older. I am more entrenched in routines, carry more responsibilities, and have been on this earth long enough to be circumspect about the lure of “ease” in any pursuit. It is harrowing to begin again, to resume the posture of the novitiate, to abandon what’s comfortable. But I sit here and implore myself not to let my age and episodic curmudgeonliness stymie my aspirations.

I have so many friends on the starting blocks right now — awaiting first or second or third babies, starting new careers, easing back into the working world after maternity leave, leaving hometowns, returning to hometowns, contemplating career moves, enduring IVF —

And I just want to say that if you are among them, and waking up in sweats, or throttling yourself through all of the possible permutations of failure ahead, or wondering if you shouldn’t pack up your running shoes —

I respect you, the athlete at the start line.



+Another lesson from the sports world.

+This post simultaneously reminds me of this F. Scott Fitzgerald quote — which I have just learned to be an apocryphal attribution?!: “It’s never too late to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.’

+It also reminded me of this quote from Teddy Roosevelt: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming…”

+And on that note: the critics are never quite as loud as you think they are.

+The difference between critics and cynics.

+Things must end to begin again.

Shopping Break.

+J’adore this gingham top. I like underneath a pair of overalls (#applepickingvibes) or tucked into my new trousers.

+This $22 lumbar pillow is amazing.

+If you’re looking for fall-appropriate nap dress-like pieces: consider this Anthro, or check out this new-to-me brand, Neve and Noor: I love this dress and this one, both of which would look amazing with clogs.

+Those Neve and Noor dresses would also be chic picks for an early fall wedding, but more options here.

+These gingham hair clips are too cute for a little lady.

+Chic food storage (love for snacks on the go — colors are so good). More chic food storage picks here.

+Hunter finally released a good milk pink color boot for little ones! This color was so hard to find — I remember searching high and low for it for mini when she was younger. (Look for less with these $22 pairs in great matte pastel colors.)

+Love this corduroy ballcap for Mr. Magpie.

+I am swooning over these personalized wreath sashes!!! Must buy one for my holiday wreath this year!

+If you’re looking to frame something, I am loving this gilded bamboo style from Framebridge! Would be perfect around some Audubon bird prints or vintage botanicals.

+Ultra-chic sweater — very Parisienne. More great sweaters here.

+Speaking of sweaters, I did buy this chic cardigan and it arrived and it totally consumed me — way too enormous/oversized. The collar was bigger than my head! Wah. I think I may have to downgrade to something a bit more demure in proportion, like this or this.

+Dog bowl goals.

+An easy every day mini.

+I’m not normally a beige person, but I super love the details on this rug.

+I have never used a devotional before, but I just ordered this one with a goal of reading each morning before getting up. A new morning ritual.

+Speaking of prayer, I still turn to this book of novenas when I have a particular intention in mind.

+This scalloped green baby mat…swoon!!! I would have been all over this!

+Oo this sleeveless turtleneck sweater tunic!

+I have found super simple block typeface stationery extremely helpful over the years for condolences, more serious/professional/formal thank you notes, etc. This one is classic.

+More great affordable personalized stationery options.

+I think I have to buy this needlepoint pillow for my children.

+A perfect tall boot for fall, miraculously on sale.

+S&L-inspired bistro bench for $160.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *.

4 thoughts on “The Start Line.

  1. Me too, Sarah! I almost always read TFM while I eat breakfast.

    Jen, I can’t wait to hear how you like your new devotional! I’m in the middle of “Awaken” by Priscilla Shirer and it’s not quite hitting the spot. So I may pick up the one you bought! However…yesterday’s bible verse total jumped off the page at me: She did what she could. (Mark 14.8 NIV). Wow. And then this little pearl of wisdom from Priscilla, “Don’t do nothing just because you can’t do everything.” I realize this is not groundbreaking advice, but it’s what I need to hear right now. In other words, get to the starting line! Lately, I’ve felt stuck and a bit unmoored. I’m not in the blocks, I’m still roaming the infield or hiding in the stands. So your thoughts and the devotional, both on the same day, were food for thought. But…back to my original point – hoping you’ll let us know if you like yours, I’ll be in the market for a new one in about 50 days 🙂

    1. Hi Stephanie! First, thank you so much for your readership and generous note. I love the idea of my Magpies reading me first thing in the morning. Thank you for inviting me into your day!

      Second, I absolutely love this line of thinking and the quotes you shared. I completely relate and have occasionally been feeling debilitated (?) or stuck when overwhelmed by all that’s in front of me, even in trivial matters like outfitting our new home while juggling a thousand other things, but also in meatier matters, including working through various kinks in professional and personal relationships. I have a tendency to wear those things very heavily, and it’s such a lovely reminder to “do what I can” and understand that it might not be EVERYTHING I wish it could be at the moment. Thank you.

      I did share some early thoughts on the devotional in this post —

      But I am really only a few days in so will update you when I’m further along. I certainly liked it enough to buy it for my sister and have been sticking with it. The format is really helpful for me.


  2. I find that one of my morning rituals has become checking your blog as I drink my first cup of tea… your musings and questions always provoke me to deeper thought and I value this contemplative start to the day! Thank you.

Previous Article

Next Article