Things Must End to Begin Again.

By: Jen Shoop

I came across these words the other day:

things must end to begin again

Useful words in a moment of transition, and a Mary Oliver-like nudge to attend to the patterns of nature when in doubt. Whether you are starting a new job, ending a relationship, moving, retiring, putting your out-of-home career on hold to look after children (or vice versa), many of us are stepping through a lintel, from one room to the next. Writing that sentence makes me realize that though I think a lot about transitions (like, a lot a lot) and how I can design my life to ease my way through them, I don’t often think of them in terms of endings and beginnings anymore. Bearing witness to the unyielding chain of firsts and lasts in my two young children has made me more attentive to change as a continuous condition rather than a staccato string of doors opening and closing. Life is more fluid than that. Even abrupt changes, understood a couple of months out, seem more like legato symphonic gestures than sharp drum beats. Besides, my children leave me prone to optimism for the unexpected future. As an example: I miss the newborn days, but how deliciously and unexpectedly satisfying to sustain a full 24 minutes of conversation with my curious and creative four-year-old on the way to school every other morning? How curious to think that I made that tiny human, that she is forever a part of me, but that she is also a force unto herself, with sharp observations and a passion for the color blue and an earnest sweetness I have never witnessed — never, not ever! — in a fellow human before. On Saturday, she plucked one prized M&M from a sweaty palmful of five to give to her whimpering, pilfering younger brother. I know myself well enough to realize I would not have shared an M&M with any of my siblings at that age, when treats are sparing and esteemed. All to say: my children remind me that the future can be a beautifully bright surprise. The apparition of each new stage is not so much a door closing as a movement between rooms.

Mid-writing this little musing, I came across a quote from an entrepreneur with several young children who was asked how and when she decided to have children in the context of her straining career. She replied: “I have found that every new day is more complicated than the last. Today is the least complicated day. Don’t put your life on hold for easier times — they likely won’t come.” On the one hand, I agree profoundly with the premise that there is no “perfect” time to have children, and that it is a risky and often losing proposition to “put your life on hold” for some imagined future state. (Let it be noted, however, that I am so firmly in the camp of “a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush” that Mr. Magpie teases me about my overuse of the phrase. I am, in other words, a cautious tearaway and will often jump on an opportunity for fear that no future one will materialize.) On the other hand, I don’t agree that life must be an inexorable sink into complication. I feel as though the last two years have represented an ironing-out in many ways for me — professionally, creatively, and certainly as a family unit. I feel much more oriented and stable than I did in my 20s and early 30s and especially as a brand new mom. Learning to own my parenting style and relax into my experience with motherhood has simplified — decluttered — things tremendously for me.

A few years ago, a Magpie advised me to make a decision, and then go boldly into it. These words have proven a north star when I am feeling queasy about change. I let myself linger for a minute on the past, I permit myself to fret for a minute about the unknowns of the future, and then I remind myself to go boldly and remain receptive to the possibility of great surprise.


+ICYMI: we are moving to D.C.

+But I will miss New York. I have nothing but gratitude for our time here.

+How I feel about my hometown.

+I learned the intense way back in my mid-20s that moves can be highly stressful. Taking care of myself this go around.

+The sense of an ending.

Shopping Break.

+This maxi dress is right up my alley and comes in three great prints. Definitely hits all of my standards for highly-worn at-home dresses.

+On that note: SZ Blockprints caftans restocked! I think I slightly prefer the length of that Kitty style but I also have the Jaipur style, which is a great beach coverup.

+Similar vibe: this dress sold out during the Shopbop sale but is back in a few sizes!

+Love this Matouk print.

+WOW, this rug!

+I think I mentioned in my post on Hill’s imminent second birthday that we would like to buy him a piggy bank — mini has one that she has loved depositing coins into forever. I’m torn between these Scandi-cute styles in elephant and pig and this silver-plated race-car shaped one.

+I need this pearl clutch.

+I’m imagining a cheerful lawn party with these.

+My backyard furniture post was prescient — fingers crossed, will soon be in the market for my own sets!

+The happiest little date night top (under $100).

+I’ve mentioned these a few times, but I feel like these linen pants would be so easy to wear with espadrilles, sneakers, or Hermes Oran sandals and a white tank for a no-brainer, comfortable, weekend look.

+A new crop of gorgeous printed Agua Benditas, including this bird-motif maxi (swoon) and this tile-effect swimsuit (the turtles!)

+This platter is just calling out for a whole-roasted fish to present!

+The Daphne Wilde look for less. (The D.W. is on my wishlist for this spring!)

+Seriously cute $129 shoes.

+Amazing ceramic garden markers.

+These tortoise shades are not for the faint of heart but VERY on-trend.

+I literally cannot stop wanting to buy every blue-and-white shirtdress I lay eyes on. This one is SO good!

+This sunhat is absolutely gorgeous. (Your little one can twin!)

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13 thoughts on “Things Must End to Begin Again.

  1. Yes yes yes!! I often try to remind myself – you might be surprised! It might be easier than you think! I worry about things like… the last day of preschool or a long trip with the kids and I always assume it will be the worst… but often it’s not at all what I expected! I need to be more open to the unknown and live with a little less dread… alternately things I think will be wonderful sometimes flop! Oh boy is it hard to be an anticipator.

    1. Hi Emily – Same boat, my friend! I like the mantra of “staying open to surprise” that you’re suggesting here!!


  2. I just moved to a new city and have been nervous about stepping into this next chapter. This post was exactly what I needed to hear! Thankful for your words of wisdom, here’s to going boldly into whatever comes next! xx

    1. Hi Erin! I’m so glad this reached you at the right time. Change is so hard. You are so brave! You got this!


  3. This was exactly what I needed to read today, as we are newly entering into a big big (exciting) life change. Looking forward to re-reading these words. XO

    1. So glad to hear that, and congratulations to you on your new life stage! Go boldly!


  4. One of the things I love about motherhood is that no two days are ever the same. Even when you feel like they are (or you’re in rut) the reality is that those little people are constantly evolving, growing, learning. ❤️ This is true even with my adult children!
    I applaud the idea of going boldly into change!! It’s a more constructive mindset, I think, and one I’ve embraced many times. That being said, it’s healthy to allow some sadness over change or loss. Praying you are kind to yourself during this transition! Xo H

    1. Thanks, Heidi! This is SO true: “no two days are ever the same.” They really are always changing!


  5. “ How curious to think that I made that tiny human, that she is forever a part of me, but that she is also a force unto herself…”

    That’s so beautiful, Jen. And also exactly how I feel about my strong-willed and sassy 3 year old daughter! You have a gift for capturing these complex sentiments, the emotional tug of war of motherhood, into words.

    Those Talbots sandals remind me so much of Margaux’s slide sandals from a few summers ago, which I have in a different color. But they are sadly discontinued! They now have them in an ankle strap style but I much prefer the ease of slides. Love the texture of these Talbots ones. Would love your thoughts on the quality! Thank you!

    1. Thank you, Mia! So flattered the words resonated with you…

      In general, I am impressed with the quality of the items I own from Talbots. I would put above J. Crew and Loft in terms of quality, probably shy of a Tory Burch or Shoshanna. I own a couple of their shoes (specifically boots, which I think they do really well) and they’ve lasted multiple seasons with quite a bit of wear.


    2. Jen, thank you for the quality review on the Talbots sandals! I appreciate how you describe it as in between this and that — very helpful!

      I did end up ordering it — can’t wait to see how it looks in person!

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