Appreciate silence. In between video chats.

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The first two weeks of isolation during the pandemic were the hardest for me. I should have been prepared — I was already a totally remote worker and a homebody who spent an ungodly amount of time with my children all around me. I also regularly baked bread and bought dried beans.

But what I was not prepared for were so many demands to my attention coming from so many directions during the stress and anxiety of our uncertain world.

Suddenly isolated in our homes with only our most immediate family, the entire world was now desperately trying to reach out to each other and make connections. We could not touch any more, could not visit or shake hands or hug. Celebrations and gatherings were canceled. We didn’t know we needed those parts of our lives so much. We didn’t appreciate how important our tiny rituals and errands really were, how our community has kept us balanced in a busy world. …


In September I participated in Whole30, the famously restrictive lifestyle reset that requires you to completely cut out sugar, dairy, alcohol, grains, legumes and MSG for 30 days.

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It was my fourth Whole30 which I use as a reset to maintain a healthy weight. As a woman in my mid-30’s who’s had three babies, I don’t mind doing a restrictive diet now and then because I have to stay on top of my waistline. …


Who owns the natural world?

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The bird met its demise sailing headfirst — majestically and tragically — into the clear glass of a picture window tucked between the rustic beams of a log cabin. To the bird, the unencumbered space between the familiar wood must have looked just like a channel between the trees, a route she had flown safely a thousand times. Today, it was the last path she would ever take.

She was killed instantly and fell the short distance to earth where she came to rest on the green, autumn grass. The mid-September sky was blazing blue overhead. The air was cool in the shade of the forest yet warm in the sun. …


I love my stuff. I hate letting go.

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Is it strange to know all the details of your history with a single article of clothing?

Like the baby swim trunks I bought a few years ago at Babies R Us, conjuring up memories of that now shuttered, yet iconic kids store. Then the pictures and memories we took when my son wore them to a beach vacation. Then eventually giving them away to another family at our YMCA swim class who needed a swimsuit for their son.

You see, I have a hard time parting with my used stuff. Because almost everything I own triggers a similar memory sequence that I’ve come to cherish as life moves quickly by. It doesn’t matter if it’s an unremarkable monkey patterned outfit that will never be treasured for generations to come. Yet seeing where that swim suit went helps me get on with the inevitable process of letting go, it even motivates me to do it. …


Your alma mater gives you social cachet for life.

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In his defense of his famous friends, playwright David Mamet urged the public to see the wealthy, accused parents of the college admissions bribery scandal as devoted parents who acted only out of the singular, blind love that parents have to see their children succeed.

My parents also cared greatly about my college acceptance, but their love came in the form of a Saturday SAT crash course, a $30 test prep book from Barnes and Nobles and a whole lot of weekends road tripping to various schools.

No, I won’t believe that the parents behind the college admissions bribery scandal were acting only on altruism. I think they were acting selfishly to give themselves, by way of their children, bragging rights. I think they wanted that college admission feather in their cap more than anything else. …


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The glut of December gifting came — the slow, short days of January followed. And everyone was thinking about their cluttered homes right as Netflix unveiled it’s appropriately timed series “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo”.

Suddenly the quiet de-cluttering we all do was sweeping the airwaves and the social media threads. There was a lot to unpack in those tiny boxes Kondo uses to organize possessions, not least of which is the weird privilege of sitting on one’s sofa watching subscription television about cleaning up your mountains of material things.

I watched the show, I piled the clothes and I folded the laundry like Marie Kondo said I should and there were some decent takeaways that helped me organize my household. But her gentle methods made me want to yell at the TV a little bit, shake some sense into the participants and in some reverse way yell at myself too. …


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The Adirondack Mountains in New York

January 2012: I am sitting on an airplane to the Dominican Republic with my 13 month old on my lap. He’s demonstratively less obnoxious than the married couple behind us; already drunk when they board, she’s standing so often during the descent that the pilot has to get on the overhead multiple times to reprimand her. I’ll never again be told that young children are too annoying for commercial air travel.

But two months earlier, our cross country trip out West is harder. On our lap for a Chicago to Portland flight, our son won’t stop crying for a solid hour while I rock him and pray to whatever god will make him finally sleep. …


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From Netflix’s The Innocent Man, the intriguing case of Ada, Oklahoma.

Netflix’s limited series, The Innocent Man, is gripping. Based on John Grisham’s non-fiction book of the same name, it follows the peculiar case of Ada, Oklahoma, a small town where in the early 1980’s two young women were horribly murdered in the span of just over a year. Local law enforcement thought they knew who committed the crimes and the district attorney put four men away for the unrelated murders, one sentenced to death row. Then 12 years later the advent of DNA unequivocally exonerated two of the men — they were flatly innocent; another man had committed the murder.

The series follows that miscarriage of justice and casts another shadow — the fate of the remaining two men sitting in jail and whether they too might be innocent. There is certainly a compelling case that they are. …


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A couple of years ago, in the post-holiday slump between Christmas and New Year’s, I took my two young children on a short trip down the snowy New York State thruway to spend the day at an interactive children’s museum. After paying more than I wanted to for a day’s entertainment we started exploring the museum. …

About

Emilie Beecher

Novelist, thinker and mother of three. I often write about parenting, women and sustainability. My novel "Everything In Its Place" was published in 2018.

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