Faire Attention.

By: Jen Shoop

The other day, I came across this quote you’ve probably seen before:

“Pay attention to who you’re with when you feel your best.”

What I like about the quote is that it invites introspection about my interactions and dynamics with others, and it often unveils the unremarked grace and beauty of the people I love the most. For example, when I am with my sisters, I actually feel funny. I believe myself to be more of an earnest, wide-eyed, tender-hearted kind of person in my interactions with others, but when I am with my sisters, we laugh at ridiculous jokes in a reckless, delirious kind of way, and it feels delicious to be unguardedly silly. I love the way they make me feel — welcome, as if I can do no wrong, un-judged. It is a testament to their big hearts.

And then, of course, there’s Mr. Magpie. People often ask how we could possibly have built a business together — “we’d kill each other!” is the common retort from couples who discover this about us. But I am never more empowered or validated than when in his company. There is a great quote in the film “As Good As It Gets” — “You make me want to be a better man,” Jack Nicholson’s character tells Helen Hunt’s character. Mr. Magpie is that way: he gets the best out of me. He makes me feel like a better version of myself. And at the same time, he embraces the whole me, including the part of me he sent into embarrassing hysterics in the formal dining room at the Inn at Perry Cabin, and the part of me who cried at the Thanksgiving table, and the part of me who is a sore loser at Scrabble. He has seen it all — and a woman contains multitudes! — and he still makes me feel like a million bucks on a regular basis. Reflecting on this makes me realize what a forgiving and open-minded person he is, and reminds me of an element of his personality that I found appealing when we first met: he embraces the unique. Here is a guy who was in a marching band and played varsity baseball and can sail a boat (like, properly, by virtue of lessons and excursions – and it’s complicated!) and had a pet tarantula and studied electrical engineering (which I still know next to nothing about) and did not pledge a fraternity and had a fan club in high school and enjoyed illustration so much as a boy that he designed (and can still draw) a specific cartoonish character that was “his guy.” And he was excellent and self-assured in all of these pursuits. Here is a guy who lost his mind with admiration when he discovered that Lizzo is a professionally-trained flutist. Here is a guy who tells me: “Don’t hold her back!” when my daughter expresses interest in electric guitar and monster trucks and begs me to wear a Nirvana t-shirt and blast Black Sabbath on the way to school. In short, here is a guy who lets people be their whole selves and embraces the multitude within.

But what I don’t like about the quote is the unclear off-screen implication that if we don’t like how we feel around certain people, we can…? What? Cut them out? Avoid them? Change how we behave around them? Ask them to change? What is at the other end of that equation?

I ask this because, on the one hand, I applaud the mentality that I should surround myself with people that fill my cup. On the other hand, I feel that it is impractical and ungenerous for me to operate according to that exclusive principle. There are going to be relationships in life that are difficult, and that ruffle feathers, and that require exertion and reflection and sometimes outside help. And I must stay in these relationships for any number of reasons: work, family, geography (i.e., neighbors), school. Frankly, sometimes challenging relationships are self-edifying, or simply a reminder that I am needed.

So maybe the quote is best taken as a reminder to proactively carve out time with the people who make us feel whole, and to thank them for their embrace, than it is an auditing tool.

What do you think?


+On getting over failed friendships.

+It is nice to be needed.

+On building friendships through motherhood.

+Female friendships and the things that matter.

Shopping Break.

+Timeless unisex Ray Ban shades, 40% off. I love these on men — Mr. Magpie has a pair!

+Have you tried these power peels? They are SO good. I’ve been using them for years. For some reason they are currently marked down on Amazon. Start with the 10-pack and see what you think. I love using these just before getting ready for a night out — I get out of the shower, cleanse my face, and apply one of these and immediately feel like my skin is renewed. (If I have more time, I’ll do a mask instead.) In more recent years, I’ve tended to use these similar resurfacing pads instead, but I found using them even a few times a week was irritating my skin after awhile, and so I’ve laid off those and instead just use the M61 power peels now and then, when I need a boost.

+Love the dimensions of this affordable knit sweater, in the perfect mauvey pink!

+Such a romantic little winter getaway dress.

+These look like a great way to up my bath routine.

+This fun blouse was just marked down, as was this Ulla. More fabulous tops here.

+Adorable scalloped stationery for all those Christmas thank you notes! More options for hcildren here, and options for you here.

+Guys. I thought I bought so much wrapping paper this year and was so on the ball and thankfully I spent a few nights wrapping well in advance of Christmas and discovered — no, in fact, I did not. I went to multiple Targets in search of extra and mine were totally sold out! Like, barren shelves! What on earth!? Going to see if there are any holiday gift wrap sales after Christmas and stock up for next year (will this chic set from Joy Creative be discounted, I wonder?!). In the meantime, I love this gingham gift wrap set to keep on hand! I’m determined to keep a well-stocked supply now that I have the space!

+ACNE beanie lookalike for $10. (OG here, or go middle-of-the-road with this similar Ganni.)

+More chic cold weather accessories here, and a rainbow of gorgeous puffers here.

+Finally, Bala weights are no longer back-ordered everywhere. You can order and have them arrive tomorrow! Perfect for a new year new fitness regimen.

+New workout gear always helps motivate me when getting started in a new fitness regimen. These are some of my favorite running tops — now available in some fun new stripes/colors.

+Hilarious that I wrote this post about how good it felt to clip back into my running routine because then an 18-day quarantine put the kibosh on that, and immediately after that, I opened my freezer and a hunk of frozen meat fell right on top of my foot, and I couldn’t put weight on it for three days straight. I guess the world does not want me to be running right now! Ha!

+This cashmere sweater for a little man is a splurge but so handsome!

+The absolute best daily facial sunscreen.

+This site has such fabulous, unique-looking lamps.

+Personalize your little one’s crayon box with these stickers!

+Fun indoor activity for little ones. Just add cars! I know many of us are in quarantine or isolating with omicron…!

+Love this Etsy furniture and home decor shop. Check out this fabulous chandelier and this raffia desk!

+Another sweet Valentine’s Day option for a little. (More heart-centric finds here.)

+Adorable straw tumbler for a teen.

+The most popular items I’ve featured on the blog this year.

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4 thoughts on “Faire Attention.

  1. Fellow sore loser at Scrabble! I have won TWICE in our entire relationship (you better believe I sang the Rocky theme and danced around the table). We had to put an embargo on Scrabble for about a year at one point…

  2. This is a very useful lens through which to assess relationships. A few years back I came to the realization that I always left an interaction with a certain relative of mine feeling WAY worse than when I entered- uncertain, off-kilter, just overall destablized. Whether it was a 3 hour or 30 second-interaction, it didn’t matter- same effect. So I made the conscious choice to minimize my facetime with this person, knowing that I couldn’t totally cut him out without causing a huge issue in the family. And it wasn’t like he had betrayed me or wronged me, anyway. I just plain didn’t enjoy his presence and its impact on me. So I slowly phased him out and to be honest, I think he got the message and doesn’t seem to seek me out very much. Best possible outcome, I suppose.

    1. Hi Anna – I’m so glad you were able to put some distance between yourself and someone who made you feel less than / diminished!


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