Welcome back to another Weekly Balance post! One of my favourite parts of my week is sitting down to write this. Let’s have a look back at the past seven days in my life and what I’ve learnt from it.
What went on in my doctor life…
I think that, while the COVID-19 pandemic continues, I’m going to leave out this section of The Weekly Balance for now. I can’t share the specifics of my day to day work – its not appropriate for many reasons, but confidentiality is the main one. I would also guess that many of you, like me, enjoy taking time to switch off from all things pandemic, and I hope these weekly posts might help with that a little. I hope you guys can understand that, and thank you! I am continuing to share COVID-19 update posts on my Instagram at least once per week – you can check those out here.
What I’m thinking about…
The ‘new normal.‘ In Ireland this week, Phase 2 of our ‘Roadmap to Re-open Society and Business’, which is our exit strategy for easing restrictions in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, began. People are slowly being allowed to do more and more of their pre-pandemic activities, albeit with social distancing measures in place and an emphasis on use of face coverings in certain settings, as well as of course hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette at all times. I’ve been noticing that the reality of this ‘new normal‘ way of life is hitting a lot a lot of people recently, myself included. We’ve made it so far – it’s hard to believe it’s been well over three months since our first case in Ireland. To me, it feels like time has sped up and stood still at the same time over the last number of weeks!
2020 has not so far been the year any of us planned it to be – I think that’s fair to say. But as we adjust to this ‘new normal’ way of life, as daunting as it might seem (and is), I’m finding it helpful to focus on staying informed on what the current measures or restrictions in place are so I know what I can do, and then just taking each day as it comes. I’ve also found talking to family and friends especially helpful throughout the pandemic – video calls really are the next best thing if you’re still far away from loved ones. As has been said time and time again – we are all in this together.
What I’m reading…
I have not one, but TWO book recommendations for you guys this week! My most recent reads have been Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, and the Tatooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris.
First of all – Little Fires Everywhere. WHAT a story. I had heard many good things about this book before starting it, and so many of you messaged me on Instagram to say you loved it too! Which is always a good sign. Little Fires Everywhere is a fiction novel, set in the wealthy Shaker Heights neighbourhood in Ohio. Two protagonists are central to this story – Elena Richardson, and Mia Warren. Elena is a mother of four, living in a beautiful big house in Shaker, who is living her life ‘plan’, to have a family, get a steady job after college, move into her parent’s house, suburban perfection. Mia meanwhile, is an artist, who has lived all over the country with her daughter Pearl, and has a hidden life story that couldn’t be more contrasted to Elena’s. Mia and Elena’s lives collide when Mia and Pearl move to Shaker Heights. To say more would be to give the game away, so I won’t! But oh WOW, the themes throughout this book run deep. Motherhood, trust, loyalty, family, love – all run throughout the novel and become ever more palpable as the story unfolds and the plot thickens. I listened to Brene Brown’s podcast last week where she interviewed Celeste Ng and she described the novel as ‘smouldering’ throughout, and I couldn’t agree more. There are so many subtle fire references too, which apparently Celeste Ng didn’t even realise she had written until after the first draft was done and they had to pick a title!
The Tattooist of Auschwitz was another book I got a lot of messages about on Instagram, and I have to say, it really was a very special read. This book is the true story of Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jewish man who is transported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps during World War Two, where he quickly is given the position of tattooist, meaning he has to tattoo numbers onto the new camp prisoners arriving in the hundreds to thousands every week. One day, he tattoos the arm of a beautiful young woman called Gita, and falls in love with her at first sight. The book tells the story of Lale and Gita’s enduring love, through their many years at the camp and the initial aftermath of the war and liberation from the camp. Morris met Lale almost twenty years ago and he shared his story – her task was to bring it to life. A small number of things in the book are fictionalised but on the whole, it is Lale’s story and it’s quite astounding to read. This book reminded me of the power of connection, kindness and love between humans, especially when we are at our most vulnerable, and it was truly amazing to read about Lale’s ability to endure the horrific suffering that he did, which he credits in no small part to the strength of his love for Gita and his desire for them to live a free life together once liberated. It’s a very special book, and I will definitely be reading the follow-up publication by Morris about another character in the book – Cilka’s Journey.
Currently, I’m reading Followers by Megan Angelo, and really enjoying it. And as always, let me know what you’re reading in the comments below!
What I’m listening to…
I really enjoyed the latest episode on the Brené Brown Unlocking Us podcast, an interview with writer, speaker and media producer Austin Channing Brown. It’s a very open and honest conversation about Channing Brown’s book (I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness), and as a result I’ve got this book on my reading list for sure!
I also tuned into the latest episode on The Food Medic podcast by Dr. Hazel Wallace, which was an interview with neuroscientist and science communicator Dr. Sarah McKay, titled ‘The Female Brain.’ It was a really interesting interview which focused on gender stereotypes when we talk about brain health, how puberty and pregnancy may affect the brain in women, pre-menstrual symptoms and mood and a couple of other areas.
I finished one of my audiobooks, Rising Strong by Brené Brown this week, which I LOVED. Rising Strong is the second of Brené Brown’s books that I’ve read – the first was Daring Greatly. First of all, as I said I read this as an audiobook, and she is an awesome narrator. Which makes such a difference. Rising Strong is about vulnerability, failure and getting back up again when we fall. It’s about owning the stories of our lives, especially the hard ones, the ones we would rather sweep under the carpet, and acknowledging the emotions that come with them (the rumbling, the reckoning and the revolution). It’s about courage and bravery. Its about learning who we are, every part of us. Brown also shares a lot of personal anecdotes in this book which I found helped me connect to it even more. I absolutely loved it and took my time with it so I could work through what I was hearing from my own experiences. A few quotes I loved are shared below:
‘We don’t have to do all of it alone. We were never meant to.’
‘Sometimes when we are beating ourselves up, we need to stop and say to that harassing voice inside, ‘Man, I’m doing the very best I can right now.’
‘Its always helpful to remember that when perfectionism is driving, shame is riding shotgun.’
‘Owning our story and loving ourselves through that proves is the bravest thing we’ll ever do.’
What I’m watching…
After finishing the book Little Fires Everywhere, I devoured the television series adaptation of it (on the platform Hulu), starring Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington. I loved it – it doesn’t stick exactly to the book but for the most part, the story is the same, and definitely worth checking out. Witherspoon and Washingston are absolutely fantastic as the two female leads in this show.
Recipe of the Week
The recipe I’m loving this week is an oldie but goodie from my blog – a Squash, Chickpea and Almond Curry ! You can find the recipe to give this a go here. As always, let me know if you give the recipe a try!
And that’s a wrap for this week gang! If you want to get in touch, you can find me @theirishbalance on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. I hope you have a lovely week ahead folks – remember, stay informed with the advice from your local health authority, stay safe, wash your hands, keep your distance and be kind!
Ciara 🙂 x