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We are all a year older and some of us may even be a bit wiser ...

January: Turning the page on a new year

Photo: César Viteri on Unsplash.

Photo: César Viteri on Unsplash.

Our experiences during 2020 have been many and varied. We have had our good days and our bad ones. We went from not being able to concentrate to getting lost in a book for hours.


We learned to Zoom. We gathered to chat and have shared experiences on Zoom. We had a love hate relationship with Zoom - some of us could not bear another minute of screen time while, for others, it was a lifeline.

We are all a year older and some of us may even be a bit wiser. Some of us learned to bake sourdough bread or speak a new language during the first lockdown, while others worked harder than ever, turning up on the front line, at the supermarket or at their kitchen table to work every day.

Some of us are facing into a new year with a feeling of loss and unfulfilled grief, having lost a loved one during the past year, perhaps without the opportunity to say a proper goodbye.

Others have faced loneliness and isolation like never before.

Many of us will have discovered more about ourselves this year and found out what is really important to us in this life. Some may have even discovered, there were aspects of this changed life we preferred.

Usually, we take stock at this time of the year and make resolutions to change, to give up, to be better and to look better. Mostly, if you are anything like me, the good intentions will have gone out the window by mid-January. In fact, I gave up making them years ago.

In the main, resolutions tend to be focused on self improvement and depriving ourselves, telling ourselves that we could do better. But maybe this is the year to tell ourselves that we are good enough, that we have been through a hard time and need a bit of kindness and nurturing. Maybe this is the year to lean in and embrace being good enough, not striving, not pushing just being ok with good enough.

What would it be like to slip into the new year with kindness to ourselves as well as to others? Think back to Spring, when everything stopped and we could hear the birds singing and almost hear the grass grow. When we smiled at each other as we gave each other a wide berth and we walked past children learning to cycle on the road. Although we were very afraid, the world in our 2km radius seemed like a kinder place.

So now we are heading into the new year facing challenges that we thought were behind us. It’s January and it’s dark and we are tired of restrictions, of walks and of missing one another. But people are still showing up. Frontline workers in health and care settings are still there every day. Babies are still being born, supermarket shelves are still being stacked and we are still being served with coffee, with groceries, with books, with a smile. It may not be the start to 2021 that we hoped for but there is hope in sight. So stay at home if you can - keep safe and carry on reading.

This month’s featured reader, Julie, a therapist discusses her experience of working through the pandemic and doing what’s right for you. We asked her to recommend a book for troubled times and the one she picked When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chödrön, a Tibetan Buddhist. She writes about finding a place of home and safety within yourself, a bit of stability even when there’s a gale force wind blowing outside. Is there a book that comforts you in troubled times? Do let us know. Get in touch at hello@ourcityourbooks.ie

Wishing you all a happy, healthy and peaceful 2021.

Bernadette Larkin

Our City Our Books Project Manager

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