If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know I launched a new interview series over there a few days ago in which I text questions to some women of substance I admire and share some of their responses. My first “side text” was with Alex Steele of Handpicked. You might remember her name from my musing in this blog post, in which she graciously shared her perspective on how difficult parenting can be, whether you have one child or seven. (She has four!). You can swipe through some of her beautiful, occasionally surprising responses (she’s not a handbag girl! and Plymouth Rock comes up — I love a girl grounded in history!) in this carousel post on Instagram.
One of the Q+As really stopped me in my tracks. I asked her:
“When people seek your advice, what are they usually asking for?”
Her first response: “Communication in relationships. I’m from a big family so I talk to a lot of people, a lot, and hard conversations aren’t something I shy away from.”
What a beautiful thing to be known and sought-after for. I absolutely lean on communication doulas for tricky relationships in my life — my mother immediately springs to mind, but also my friend Jaci. Any time I’m unsure how to approach something sensitive, I know I can seek their earnest, considerate counsel.
After I read Alex’s response, I realized how much this inquiry reveals about the respondent in the span of a couple of words. Curious, I polled my Instagram Magpies with the same question, and so many of the responses reflected back exactly what I’ve come to know intuitively about this community: here, in the comments section and on the other end of the screen, live true women of substance.
A sampling of responses as to what people seek Magpies out for:
“A soft landing for hard emotions.”
“Parenting advice. Not an expert, just calm/level-headed.”
“Caring for a child with Down Syndrome, or for their family/friend who just received a diagnosis.”
The most common response, though, were permutations of this reply, which left me in a wobbly, the-world-is-after-all-full-of-good-people state of mind:
“Confirmation of their own intuition. Most people just want to be heard.”
These answers reflect the deep empathy of our little Magpie community.
I’m curious, today — what do people seek you out for?
(By the way, you can answer with a lighter touch, too — had lots of responses with things like “children’s fashion!” and “grammar!” that reminded me of our Magpie axiom: a woman contains multitudes. Don’t shy away from answering that you’re the one people seek for the best restaurant recommendations, the funniest comebacks, etc. I have friends that fill all of those needs for me, too.)
+Interesting to think about how well your answer to this question lines up with what you want to be known for.
+Another opportunity to share who you are with the Magpie community. I absolutely live for your answers to these. Whenever I publish one of these icebreakers, I sit at the kitchen counter with Mr. Magpie and we read our favorite answers to each other. (Shout out to the gal who drank gasoline by accident — I still think about you and that story at least once a month. And you shared it years ago.) Sometimes your answers trickle in weeks and months after initial posting and I read and try to respond to each and every one no matter when you post!
+What does good advice look like anyway?
+On being a soft landing.
+Writing, fishing, and the Roaring Fork. (Aspen is my happy place. We go back there this summer. I am already anticipating its feels, sounds, smells. I wrote more about my childhood summers in Colorado here.)
If you want more Magpie, you can subscribe to my Magpie Email Digest for a weekly roundup of top essays, musings, conversations, and finds.
+A lot of you talked about wearing comfortable/stretchy pants on travel days. Several of you specifically called out Uniqlo’s Elastic Waist pants (ed note: updated this post with correct link once Magpies confirmed), but I’ve also been eyeing these ribbed kick flare Donnis, and my girlfriend Jaci (mentioned above, and a bone fida jetsetter and travel writer) loves the sets from Vuori.
+Can’t mention Uniqlo without tossing in this reminder: these are the best $15 tees on the market. They have a surprising thickness and polish to them — you’d never believe they’re $15. I take my true size but if in question, size up one size.
+My Veronica Beard top coat arrived and — gasp. She’s perfect. I feel like a million bucks in her. I’ve had a few requests for look for less options. A few choices, at different price-points: around $600, under $400, and under $100. The Karen Millen (under $400, originally $620) is a great buy. I’ve not purchased something from her in awhile, but I had this pink summer sundress I bought from her in the boutique in Georgetown when I was maybe 24 that I wore for over a decade and just donated last summer! Her coat is the most similar to my VB with the length/military detailing, and it’s 100% wool.
+Speaking of white wool: WOWZA THIS WHITE WOOL MAXI. Style in spades.
+Your comments on my travel post led me to buy one of these portable chargers for my upcoming flight. I had one for my old phone but forgot how handy this is on travel days — not having to seek out a plug is incredible. I also think this is the final nudge I needed to buy a pair of Bose noise-canceling headphones. I’ve been wanting a pair forever. Will also be handy for writing — I basically need a sensory deprivation chamber when I’m in a deep flow. I will say a Magpie ( in response to the travel tips post) wrote that she uses an inexpensive pair and they work just fine. This pair is currently 50% off, bringing it down to under $50.
+The cutest helmets for children. Great add-on gift if you’re buying your little one a new scooter or bike for Christmas. Re: scooters — get the one with the light up wheels. I don’t know what it is about the light-up wheels that delight children so much. Absolutely worth the $10 upcharge. Re: bikes. Order now. I remember we ran into shipping issues with some of the cooler brands when we ordered last year. The Micro scooters are available everywhere it seems, but the bikes can be trickier.
+Target already has its holiday decor locked and loaded. I always find a few new decor pieces from them each year. This year, I love these trees in the marble and ceramic. Would be pretty for a tablescape or nestled among other decor on a mantle/bookshelf. And how cute is this little card holder to display your holiday card bounty instead of in the unceremonious stack I usually keep them in? Also worth a look: this rattan tree collar and this scalloped tree skirt.
+Can’t mention Christmas trees without my annual plug for the Krinner Tree Stand. This WILL enable you to avoid the yearly argument you get into with your spouse while trying to erect the tree. Trust me and about 2,000 Magpie readers on this.
+Real talk: I texted my sisters last week and said, “if you can’t tell your sisters, who can you tell…?” and then decided to pay this info forward to you all, too, my internet sisterhood! But if you ever feel a UTI coming on, start taking these cranberry extract / D Mannose supplements. I am usually very circumspect about these kinds of remedies but this legitimately, legitimately works. I actually first heard about it from food blogger Caroline Chambers (so random) and I’m so glad she mentioned it in passing?! Another real talk thing: I will now never travel without Afrin. I keep this in full stock at home but didn’t pack it for my trip out west, caught a cold, and was absolutely in excruciating pain with the pressure in the cabin on my clogged ears on the return flight. I sweated through all my clothes and think I broke a few bones in Mr. Magpie’s hand. Never going to be without it again. This REALLY unclogs/unblocks everything. Note you can only use for three days.
+These Skims tees are on my shopping list. Have heard they’re great for layering.