What Advice Do People Seek You Out For?

By: Jen Shoop

Image via Nina Blanc, whose pieces are SO special and reasonably-priced. I feel like she’s so under the radar!

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.”

“Approval, forgiveness.”

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.

Shopping Break.

+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.

+This $160 LBD is beyond adorable — the bow in the back! Love the idea of pairing with patterned tights.

+My cashmere wide leg knit pants arrived and are SO dreamy, and actually flattering — they have a high waist that cuts a chic silhouette. Get the look for less with these.

+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.

+Our sons need these sweaters immediately. Also love these henley tees for everyday wear — my son has them in a fleet of colors.

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18 thoughts on “What Advice Do People Seek You Out For?

  1. Apparently the other moms in playgroup listen to the way I talk to my son in order to mirror it. I’ve never felt so flattered as when one of the older volunteers who runs the group told me that, and that she always encouraged others to look at how I communicate with my kid. I’m sort of the “kid communication” mom, they come to me for prepping their kids for hard things (medical procedures! Siblings! Travel!), and I share all the best books we’ve read and the social stories I’ve made for my son, which is a therapy tool that I think is great for toddler parents, creating a little booklet with real photos from their world. We’ve used them for EEGs, the eye doctor, the dentist, and visiting Grandma & Grandpa overseas. I’ve made a beautiful board book to prep my 22 month old for his baby sister’s arrival, with photos of his family and my belly and the hospital and his aunty taking care of him overnight, his daddy bringing him to the hospital to visit and us bringing his baby sister home after. I made a little handpainted routine chart with sliding toggles to help with bedtime transitions. I love sharing what works for us and coaching my friends, all of whom are good moms!! My parents were very far from “gentle” parents and I’m honored that I seem to successfully be creating the calm confidence I always wanted for my children, at least most of the time.

    Before motherhood, I was the one people came to for career coaching, salary negotiations, and professional capsule wardrobe advice. We had a real pay disparity between men and women at the small startup I worked for in Texas, and I personally gave advice/wrote emails/created presentations for about half the salary negotiations OR getting better jobs elsewhere, and was the center of the whisper network dealing with addressing unprofessional conduct, at about 24 years old. I’d come from a big corporation before and so had very strong ideas about the fairness and HR considerations that we ought to have, and I’m proud of how I shaped that company before I left. I’m not sure our dudebro upper management ever realized my role in that, but they had me running my own department at all of 26. I was determined to pull other women up with me. I don’t see myself returning to work for another 5 years while my kids are little, but I was always proud of my place there. I can feel my posture shift when I talk about those days.

    1. Kelly! You should be so proud of these aptitudes — people see them in you and seek you out for them. There’s a tether between the two: you clearly have a high EQ and a good understanding as to how to change your communication style to meet the needs of the other party (whether the other party is a toddler or dudebro management). I love the idea of “social stories” to help little ones through transition points / stressful moments. I wish I’d known about the concept when Emory was first starting to patch, when her baby brother arrived, when we moved apartments, when we left NYC. Would have been a really helpful tool. Thanks for sharing that with the group!


  2. As someone that gets fairly frequent UTIs, I am so grateful you shared that tip! I recently ended up at urgent care on a Friday night at 5:45pm with my two children in tow. I will keep those supplements on hand for such occasions in the future.

    1. UGH! The logistics of scheduling and getting to/from the doctor as a mother is no joke! So glad I mentioned. Hope you have success!!


  3. so glad my accidental gasoline (okay, used motor oil) imbibing story persists (insert melting face) ha! oh, high school.

  4. I think the advice I dispense most often is “this is a book I have read and think you will enjoy.” But I suspect this is mostly unsolicited rather than sought after 🙂 I can’t help myself!

    Thanks for the cranberry supplement tip!!

    1. Love my friends who are constantly texting me book recs!! It’s so welcome. I feel so special when something they’ve read brought me to mind. And, of course, one of my most treasured pastimes is talking books with fellow book lovers.


  5. Jen – Thank you for another lovely post. I bought the Uniqlo tees on your recommendation and love them. Have you tried any of their long sleeve tees?

    1. Yay! So glad. I haven’t yet tried any of their LS options, but I might test some and those stretchy pants a few Magpies rec’d for travel days…! Intrigued! Will report back if I do.


      1. PS – Marsha below said she’d ordered some of the Uniqlo turtlenecks. Going to see what she thinks after testing!! Hoping she’ll share with the class!

  6. Jen,
    I love to read your daily posts to experience the way you express yourself. You take the English language and polish it up a bit, elevating the experience. Plus you have something to say. I’m “older” so some of the talk about children and parents makes me weepy. My kiddos are grown and my parents are gone. But my spirit is young and my grandchilren are delightful. So I’ll keep reading. Given the fact that I’m 72, I probably can’t wear a bare,bow backed LBD. I’m 5’6, 127 pounds and would love a LBD that might be more age appropriate. Do you have any ideas.(prce point under $450.00) BTW, I visited the uniglo site and ordered some of their turtlenecks for layering. I’ll let you know how they work out.

    1. Hi Marsha! Thank you so, so much for the incredibly sweet note. I am deeply flattered, and your encouragement means more to me than you know! Thank you for your readership.

      Will definitely scope out some LBDs that might be more up your alley — will answer in an upcoming Ask Magpie! Stay tuned! Thank you, Marsha!


      1. PS – Would you mind sharing your thoughts on the Uniqlo turtlenecks when you try? A few of us are curious about the Uniqlo longsleeved options. Thank you SO much in advance for your intel!!


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