Welcome to the very first Weekly Balance post of 2021! I want to wish you all a very Happy New Year, and best wishes for the next 12 months ahead of us. It’s been some start to January hasn’t it?! I asked you guys on Instagram if you wanted me to continue these posts, and the response was a resounding yes, which I’m delighted about! So, for the first time this year, let’s have a look back at the past seven days in my life and what I’ve learnt from it.
What I’m thinking about…
New year, but same me. We’ve made it through 2020, and I don’t know about you guys but I’ve felt like the first few days of this year have been a bit of a marathon – and a sprint?! If that’s even possible! In Ireland and the UK, and other countries around the world, COVID-19 case numbers are accelerating. We’ve seen new strains of the Sars-CoV-2 virus emerge, contributing towards increased transmissibility of the virus. Scenes in Washington this week had to be seen to be believed. On a positive note, vaccinations against COVID-19 have (amazingly) already begun in earnest, which is that light at the end of the tunnel we all need right now.
It’s hard to know where to begin with thinking about embracing a new year, a new chapter, or so I find. I’m not one for new year’s resolutions – instead I prefer to reflect on the year just gone, and have a think about what I’d like to add to my life, or change about it or my habits, during the coming year. Like many of you I’m sure, more than a few of my plans for 2020 were totally thrown up into the air by the pandemic, and accepting that a major point of growth for me (and my history of perfectionism!). So 2021 is new year, same me – a me that’s made it through the COVID-19 pandemic so far, and is hopefully a more resilient as a result, in my working and personal life. If you’re not feeling the new year’s resolutions vibe either, then join me in simply celebrating that we are still here, following an incredibly tough 12 months, to to tell the tale and begin our 2021 chapter.
What I’m reading…
BOOK CLUB ANNOUNCEMENT
As many of you will know, I started a virtual book club in November – The Irish Balance Book Club! January is our third month, and I’m really looking forward to reading this month with you guys. And chatting about it in 3 weeks of course! Thanks to everyone who is getting involved – here’s the details you need to know. This month we are reading The Guest List by Lucy Foley. You can read the book itself or go for Audiobook format, whichever! And if you have read the book already, feel free to join us of course! We will chat via an ZOOM Live Chat on SUNDAY 24th January at 6pm. Bring a cuppa or a glass of your beverage of choice. I will send the Zoom details closer to the time for anyone who wants them!
Now, back to my most recent reads!
I’ve read a few books over the last few weeks, and I’m sharing reviews of each on my Instagram as is my custom. Mostly recently, I read:
The Dutch House – Ann Patchett
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous – Ocean Vuong
Under The Tape – Professor Marie Cassidy
Uncommon Type – Tom Hanks
I’ve picked The Dutch House by Ann Patchett as my favourite of those, so here’s the review below!
I had planned read this as an audiobook as I had heard Tom Hanks read it… but then came across it in a local bookstore and went for it. I have to say, the cover is striking and definitely had me convinced that it was going to be a bit of a slog to read…. so I put it off…But a slog it wasn’t! The Dutch House is a novel told through the narrative voice of Danny, a young boy growing up in Philadelphia, in the Dutch House, his childhood home, an impossibly grand and glorious house, with his taciturn father and caring, ever practical and pragmatic older sister Maeve. With the shadow of a mother who left when he was 4 years old looming over the family and house, we move with Danny as he navigates childhood, adolescence and adulthood, through changes to his family dynamic and home with the addition of a stepmother and stepsisters, to later on his own career and marriage/family journey. The constant throughout Danny’s life, and really the central character of the novel, is Maeve, a sister that took on the responsibilities of a mother for Danny from a young age. Brother and sister act as a team from their youth to adult life, through the many ups and downs they encounter. Their relationship is the best thing about the novel really – as someone with three siblings I found following the bond between Danny and Maeve really touching, and there’s something about their story that keeps you coming back for me.
As always, let me know what you’re reading in the comments below! My current reads are The Doctor Who Fooled The World by Brian Deer and Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout.
What I’m listening to…
This week I really enjoyed the latest episode of the Train Happy podcast by Tally Rye, which was an interview with registered nutritionist and author Laura Thomas. This episode was a breath of fresh air much needed in January, a month when diets, ‘detoxes’ and quick fix solutions for health, weight and fitness are peddled everywhere. In this conversation, Tally and Laura discuss intuitive eating, diet culture, and more – it’s a long and really enjoyable listen, full of important nuggets of information and (no pun intended) food for thought.
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 regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Stay safe, wash your hands, wear a mask, keep your distance and be kind!