Musings + Essays

Underrated Traits.

By: Jen Shoop

I’m currently making my way through a popular beach read People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry, and there was a great throwaway line by one of the characters about how “an easy laugh is one of the world’s most underrated qualities.” I immediately thought of my girlfriend Elizabeth, who was just that way, with laughter always close at hand. It was one of the many ways in which she made you feel at ease in her company. Her quick laugh was a gesture of her warmth, receptivity, generosity, and open-mindedness. I specifically recall the kind of surprised and delighted chuckle she’d issue when I’d say something out of character, or snarky; her laughter in those moments was shorthand for reassurance: “It’s OK to say something out of character. Just be you, and I’ll meet you wherever you are and love you for it.” I have been thinking a lot about her after moving back to the D.C. area, where I grew up and where we attended the same all-girls prep school. She had so many underrated traits, easy laughter among them, and one of my girlfriends summarized these qualities poignantly in a comment on one of my posts a few years back:

“Her gift was her attention — she never rushed you through a story, always laughed at the right places, and had an uncanny intuition about what was important to you.”

(This is a far better portrait of the woman than I have ever painted.) The attentiveness she is describing strikes me as another vastly underrated trait. It wasn’t just that Elizabeth was a great listener, which she was. It was that she was an active, percipient listener who had the emotional intelligence, expressed through well-timed giggles and knowing looks, to make me feel as though she was complicit in whatever emotional gambit had taken hold of my teenage mind. My God, she was a gem — just beautiful in every way. Missing her today.

What are some other underrated traits you value in loved ones? Let’s shine a light on those today.


+I saw an interesting graphic a few weeks ago that said something like: “It’s a fallacy to think that grief shrinks over time. We just grow around it.” Strangely, I feel reassured by the sentiment.

+On the uses of sorrow.

+On writing, and remembering, to staunch the loss of a loved one.

+On observing the loss of my aunt at a young age. Still think a lot about my grandmother’s empty social diary.

+Something a bit brighter: when was the last time you felt really happy? Loved the comments on this post!

Shopping Break.

+I’ve observed a few fellow bloggers use a faux wedding band while traveling — check out the options from Adina’s Jewels! This one is simple and elegant, and how major is this one?!

+How great is this inexpensive velvet jewelry box?

+This top comes in such great colors (under $100).

+I’m always on the lookout for non-wicker/non-straw laundry hampers after a reader asked for one a few months ago and I realized how difficult they are to find. This one is chic, this shagreen one is glam, and I adore this one, which I have in blue in micro’s room and which my mom also now bought and loves on my recommendation. She actually mentioned to me the other day out of the blue: “I don’t know why, but it brings me joy.” I know what she means — it’s sleek, streamlined, and stylish. I love the nearly upholstered finish, and it comes in great colors! Plus, you can easily remove the laundry liner bag to carry to the laundry room. I found a very similar style available for $15 at Target!

+All my laundry gear.

+This new Kule tote is beyond adorable. I feel like I want it just to style it on micro’s bookshelves! TOO CUTE with some toys sticking out…but also, just so cute to carry.

+I know some of us are having smocking fatigue, but this cherry red style is…*chef’s kiss.*. (Imagine with the Kule tote!)

+Speaking of La Ligne, a lot of the La Ligne sweaters I mentioned in this post are a part of the Anniversary Sale, which is now open to everyone!

+Peony placemats for an outdoor dinner.

+I seriously considered buying Mr. Magpie this Hermes x Apple watch for Father’s Day, but was too worried because a watch is a commitment and I couldn’t tell if he’d be down with going digital in that regard. I LOVE the look.

+A crisp fall bubble for a little girl. More fall finds for littles here.

+Check out this adorable striped funnel neck sweatshirt for a little lady!

+Look at this repositionable wallpaper! Would be so fun against the back of a shelving area, or in a closet, or in a nursery!

+Super love this elegant and va-va-voom white dress.

+Chic denim silhouette (and color) for fall. Love with a striped tee.

+OK some seriously chic and fun statement jewelry here. I love this heart necklace and this heart bracelet.

+More reasonably-priced statement jewelry here, and some pretty delicate jewelry here.

+Wicker changing table organizers. (Also like these acrylic/gold ones for changing table top organization.)

+Inexpensive bins for basement toy storage in a pinch. I am really struggling to figure out how to organize all the children’s toys and gear in our new home — I think I need some bigger (i.e., furniture and cart) solutions, but, in the meantime, these are handy for keeping different types of toys separate, and would also be good in the large closet we have upstairs for keeping bulky stuff we don’t need out all the time in categories. As an example, I have a collection of Christmas books and toys for the children that I want to stow away for winter!

+More great toy storage options here and great bins/baskets by size here.

+This $128 top is amazing. A good Zoom option with the interesting collar/sleeves.

+More statement tops here.

+I didn’t realize they made Rothy’s in little girl sizes. How cute for school in the mustard yellow!

+My children have been very into playing with shaving cream at bath time. I just spray a bunch (of the cheap, foaming kind, like Barbosol) on the wall and they go to town “painting” and the like. I just discovered this colored bath foam and I think they are going to lose their minds.

+Bow shouldered tank in $55! Love it in the black.

+So sad these lobster swim trunks (currently on sale!) sold out in micro’s size. Meep! Too cute.

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4 thoughts on “Underrated Traits.

  1. Love this musing on your friend E. Attentiveness is definitely one of the top qualities I value in friends, and strive for AS a friend. Being a good listener, a true listener, is a cherished quality in my mind!

    Those Hermès Apple Watches are so cool and might even sway me towards an Apple Watch! I’ve resisted digital watches to date, but wow, they’re chic. Though I would still prefer a classic Hermès or Cartier tank watch, if given the choice. Haha!


    1. Totally agree – I have been trying lately to ask more questions and talk less when in conversation with friends, to focus on listening rather than offering up my own views or reflections. Elizabeth was so, so good at that…

      Agree on the Hermes apple watch! SO chic!!! I’m even partly swayed…


  2. Having read your sweet words regarding your dear lost friend Elizabeth, I have come to imagine her through your eloquent words. To me she was/is an angel who came into your life (and many others) to teach all of the things you admired, miss and loved about her. She continues to be a part of your life and you continue to acknowledge her impact on you through your kind words. Her time on earth was short, but impactful to all who knew her. She was a blessing to you. Lucky you to have encountered that special relationship. You are blessed! (Hope I wasn’t too imposing here with my thoughts)

    FYI: I never, NEVER ever travel with my good jewelry. One, I almost lost it all on a disastrous trip. Two, it’s too easily lost or stolen. Three: I would be devastated if I couldn’t pass some of my most “precious” pieces down to my children and/or grandchildren.

    1. Hi Cynthia — Oh I love this. She really is an angel. Thank you for sharing this perspective :). I love sharing her with you all. She was one of a kind, cut from a different (holy!) cloth.


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