Musings + Essays

Weekend Vibes: On Looking Closely.

By: Jen Shoop
Poets and gardeners train themselves to "look closely," but it is more a mode of being than a function of trade. So: how might I live this out today in the realms that matter to me?

*Image via.

My Latest Snag: Early Summer Fitness Finds.

I picked up a few fitness finds for early summer this week: this fitness dress (more sizes and colors here), which I intend to wear on morning walks / active days; this tank and skirt (guess I’m in my lilac era), and these running shorts. Shopbop also surprised me by sending me my first pair of On sneakers and I can’t wait to try them — I know many of you are big fans of this brand.

P.S. These $12 running tanks are still my favorite. They are a really soft, almost brushed material and I like the loose fit. Come in great colors!

This Week’s Bestsellers.

best blog bestsellers


Weekend Musings: On “Close Looking.”

I’m currently listening to Wild and Precious: A Celebration of Mary Oliver, which is part biography, part oral history, part poetry recitation, largely narrated by the appealingly raspy-voiced Sophia Bush. About a dozen of you emailed me about this book (thank you!), as I write a lot about Mary Oliver. She exemplified so many of the virtues and ways of being to which I aspire — care, attentiveness, naturalism, discipline in her writing, humility. At one point in the audiobook, the celebrity chef Samin Nosrat (and fellow Mary Oliver devotee) identifies herself as a gardener and observes the parallels between poetry-writing and gardening. She describes going into the garden each morning “to look,” studying the way the light hits different parts of her yard, how things are growing, the minute but miraculous changes 24 hours can yield. She notes that poets, like gardeners, spend their time “looking.” Later, the poet Ross Gay — a poet and gardener himself — comments that all gardeners know that you can do everything “right” and still your garden may yield nothing. He doesn’t draw the line here between writing and gardening but I was struck all the same by the parallel. Sometimes you can be in a good headspace, putting pen to paper, filled to the brim with thought — and yet the tilled soil bears nothing. And so you learn to be patient, and humble, and wait.

Today, I am reflecting on these insights. What does it mean “to look closely”? Poets and gardeners train themselves to “look closely,” but it is more a mode of being than a function of trade. So: how might I live this out today in the realms that matter to me? I am thinking personally about “looking closely” in matters of parenting, marriage, writing, my home environment. Taking a minute to verbalize something that has impressed or touched me in one of these realms is a good start. Last night, I really stopped and studied the plants my husband has been hardening off, and I told him how much I admired his attentiveness to their well-being. He was standing at the Weber kettle, grilling a ribeye and some asparagus, and we both stooped over to look at the different seedlings, and to talk about the devotion they had required of him. It felt good and right to look in this way — to see my husband, to praise his efforts, to observe the fruit they had yielded.

How might I look closely today?

Shopping Break.

+Keep saying I’m not a shorts gal but finding exceptions to the rule. These Kule shorts are in my cart. So cute! Kind of want to pair them with the matching top so many of you ordered for a little spring set with my Gucci rubber sandals.

+Speaking of stripes, love everything about this yellow-and-white striped tee — especially the contrasting collar.

+I raved about both these Spanx pants (SERIOUSLY, so good – take your true size) and this ultra-plush-soft sweatshirt a few weeks ago (I have in olive green and love to pair with pink), and the Spanx team reached out to offer us 10% off orders with code SHOOPXSPANX!

+Obsessed with these dining chairs.

+Love this pitcher — looks handmade but under $30.

+This dress is so understated chic.

+Have been seeing lots of longer-length shorts — anyone taken the fashion plunge yet? These are less-expensive way to try the look. I would pair with a polished tee and polished sandals.

+The rave reviews are legit: this Tory Burch suit (I bought in the lavender scarf print) is ultra-flattering. A good amount of coverage in the rear. Love the new tile print one!

+This Zara jumpsuit is SO chic. Very Isabel Marant. Pair with dressy sneakers or flat, unfussy sandals.

+Girls’ bike shorts in cute colors/patterns for $5.

+The current “It” sandal.

+SERIOUSLY fun patterned pants.

+Hunter Bell is running a sale, and I’m deeply tempted by this 50% off style.

+The pattern on this La Double J dress is…wowwwww.

+Cherry print Tevas!

+Neon sneaks. So fun!

+Lake has a really cute new cover up out.

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6 thoughts on “Weekend Vibes: On Looking Closely.

  1. I know you’ve talked about your summers in Colorado. Traveling to Utah for the first time with family in June and would love any shopping reccs for the out-west summer lifestyle.

  2. A few weeks back you shared a link for a Vornado fan, which sent me down a fan rabbit hole. I purchased the mini classic version in vintage white for my nightstand and how it has improved my sleep. On the low setting it provides the just the right amount of white noise and perfect amount of air circulation that mimics a breeze from a window. Love the aesthetic as well. Thank you for introducing me to this brand!

    1. Oh Anne, I am SO happy. Honestly, that utility buy has been so helpful for us, too. In one of our NYC apartments, we had really ineffective air conditioning units (there was no central AC in the old art deco building) and we relied on this fan SO HEAVILY. It’s since come in handy for countless other situations, including shooing away mosquitoes/bugs while eating outdoors!


    1. Hi Kim! They are SO good, a really lightweight material that adds no bulk to frame, BUT I had to return my pair because they just did not fit my body properly. I’m 5’0 and petite and the waist came up too high and the legs fell in a weird drapey way that didn’t look like the way it should have. They were also really long, and I would have had to have them hemmed. Not a huge deal as I have lots of things hemmed/tailored but between the strange fit up top (maybe too high-rise for me) and the length, they just did not work. I think the proportions were just wrong for me. I would recommended for taller Magpies!


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