Wednesday, 31 January 2018

January Books

Welcome back to the blog! Apologies for the lack of content this first month of the year. As previously mentioned, I've been very unwell recently and therefore have been doing very little in my free time, reserving it for lying down and mindlessly watching Friends, basically.

I've been more on the book bandwagon than I was towards the latter end of 2017 though, making my way, slowly but surely, through two novels of a good length this month, and almost finishing another. One of the texts I loved, and the other, though by no means bad, wasn't exactly to my taste, although I still enjoyed reading it.

The Power by Naomi Alderman

I started this book on the first day of the year, and it's an interesting one to begin with. I actually just read that Barack Obama said this was one of his favourite books that he read last year, and I can certainly understand why. It's a super fast-paced read, essentially formulating the idea that women have a secret power in the form of electricity running through them, described as similar to electric eels. The book completely subverts common assumptions and portrays of gender, and does so in a way that still needs to be done in literature and in gender conversation. Alderman has done something really interesting with the letters that frame the novel as well, with the final letter sincerely depicting the struggle women still have in literature, and in life. You kind of love and hate each of the characters throughout the different stages of the book, which I found interesting. This is largely dependent on when you feel sympathy and empathy, and when they've taken things too far with the power. It is, nevertheless, a truly impressively thought out text, fuelled with irony and many laughable, though somewhat serious, instance, and it's one I would recommend to all.

Dirt Road by James Kelman

Dirt Road is very much about loss and loneliness, and trying to find a way to articulate those feelings whilst in an unfamiliar environment. The novel feels a lot like an in-the-moment expression of these feelings, with the pace creeping up every time Murdo, the protagonist, in particular, has something he wants to share but is struggling to do so. This gives a very raw, heartfelt narrative of a boy from Scotland trying to feel okay and feel like himself in the deep south of America. Essentially the way he becomes himself in this situation is through music; music leads him through this novel and seems to give him optimism, healing the pain of his past. At time I felt slightly disconnected from the book because of the constant change of pace, but equally that was the best way to show the rollercoaster that Murdo and his Dad were personally experiencing. I think the novel gives a great insight into the human experience, putting you alongside the central characters, going through the motions. It's not my favourite book, but it's one I'm glad to have read.

I’ve also been reading The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen this month, but unfortunately still have about a hundred pages left, so I’ll have to tell you what I thought of it next month.

I'm always looking for books to add to my to-be-read list, so if you have any recommendations please comment them below, they will always be greatly appreciated.

Until next time.

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Thursday, 11 January 2018

Taking time to recover

Hi friends.

So here's the thing. I've got the flu. I finally went to the doctor a couple days ago and she thinks I've had it for a month, as I've been really unwell on and off for a long while now. There's this Australian flu that's going around at the moment (and killing people (hA)) and basically that's what's going down here.

Therefore, I thought I might as well talk about the importance of taking time out to look after yourself - since I don't actually have the energy to go out and think of anything else to write about this week. Arguably still posting and writing this does not constitute 'time out', but this is a hobby and I'm literally lying down doing nothing else.

I, for one, am not very good at this, evidently. 'Time out' makes me uncomfortable. I feel like I'm letting other people down; I feel like I'm wasting time and being unproductive; and ultimately, I feel useless. Partially, I think it's because there's a lot of pressure to always be on the go these days, and always be busy, being useful, and being exciting. I'm someone who likes to keep busy - that's partly why I have this blog: it's somewhere to share my thoughts in my spare time. But being busy means not having time to be ill. And illness is, sadly, something we are all encumbered by every now and again.

I feel very lucky in knowing that the people I work with know that I have never had a sick day up until this point, and they know that I would never take one unless I was seriously unwell. But I still feel the guilt. Is there a way to lose that feeling? Or am I just the kind of person who easily feels indebted to others? It's probably so. And I can't see that changing any time soon. Something I pride myself on is my reliability, and being ill does not sit well with that.

So here I am, writing this post, as a reminder to anyone else who is ill at the moment: if I can take the dreaded time off to recover - something that actually breaks my heart a bit - then so can you. And you need to if you ever truly want to get better. Trust me, I tried the just taking a few days off and going back in thing, and it's left me feeling worse than ever.

Look after yourselves, especially during this vile winter we're having. Taking time to recover is important and essential. Don't question it.

Until next time.

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Tuesday, 2 January 2018


Hello, and a Happy New Year to everyone!

I don't know about you, but I've never been one to use the beginning of the year to make big plans, or to reflect too much on the past. That's usually something I save for milestone birthdays and such, but this year feels different. I think in the past year I've become a lot more reflective, as I've become kinder to myself, and learned to appreciate the things I've achieved and plans I've succeeded in, rather than dwelling on those that haven't pulled through. And so I thought, why not think for a while about the progress I made last year, and the progress I wish to make this year.

Health and fitness wise, I have come on leaps and bounds. I even ran for five minutes one time, which was pretty crazy as running is NOT the one for me. I can cycle pretty darn quickly now, which is good to know and something I really enjoy doing. I've always eaten very healthily, so adding the gym into my life has made me feel even fitter and healthier, and is something I'll definitely be keeping up in the new year. I'd also quite like to continue reducing dairy from my diet, partially because it doesn't tend to make me feel great, and partially because I'm aware of the environmental damage it causes.

Towards the very end of the year, I've been a lot kinder to myself, and that's something I definitely want to continue and really pursue this year. I have always put a lot of pressure on myself, and recently I realised that there's not point in doing so. This year is about having no pressure and knowing that when the time is right, the right things will happen. There's a Winnie the Pooh quote from A. A. Milne that a saw a while ago, that says, 'Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.' And I don't mind when 'some day' is anymore; for I know that one day it will come.

I've got quite a few other things I'd like to do / keep up with this year, for instance:

As much as saving always seems like the right thing to do, spend some money on things you'll truly love - like experiences and anything that brings you joy.

Go on a trip. Somewhere, anywhere, with anyone who will go. Last year I went to New York and loved every single second; this year I'm ready to fall for somewhere else.

Spend all the time possible with my Grandad. He's the only grandparent I have left and he's not been well for a while now. As much as I see him often, in fact I saw him yesterday to celebrate his birthday and the new year, I'd still like to make that extra bit of effort this year.

Buy more Motown / Soul records - no other kind of music makes me happier, so I should immerse myself in it.

Go on a day trip to the beach. It's been about three years since my feet touched sand, and there's no place in the world that makes me feel calmer than the seaside.

In fact, go on more day trips in general. It's always nice to get a quick flavour for somewhere else, near or far away.

Use eye cream more often. I'm young and wrinkle free right now, but I'll thank myself in twenty years time if I look after my skin a bit better now.

Keep making the time to read. It's such a rich and immersive experience; it's hard to believe that so many people don't do it.

Open my heart up a little more, maybe. I think I'm often very closed and unwilling to be read, and maybe this year I'll open up a fraction. It's a hard thing to do, to be vulnerable, so we'll see how it goes.

Lastly, is to keep making plans. Plans for myself, plans with my friends and my family, plans to do something and anything and everything. Without a plan, it might never happen.

Wishing you the best year yet.

Until next time.

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