Oh my goodness, I can’t quite believe I am writing this post. Earlier this year I mentioned that I would appreciate nominations for the Inspire category in The Brilliance in Blogging (The BiBs) Awards this year, but knew it was a bit of a long shot. The BiBs, run by BritMums, celebrate the best Parent Lifestyle Bloggers and Influencers through a range of categories, including the Inspire category for which I’ve been shortlisted. Over the years I have seen many amazing bloggers celebrated in The BiBs, and I know just how talented and passionate my fellow bloggers are. So it is a huge honour to have my little blog recognised in this way, especially at a time when I am still learning how to live well within my limitations.
I Need Your vote!
The next stage is, of course, voting for your favourites. Every vote counts, especially to bloggers with smaller audiences like mine, so please do pop along to the BritMums website and vote for me here. It’s a simple form, you just need to fill in your details and then scroll down and click the button next to The Family Patch in the Inspire category (and cast votes in other categories if you so wish), and then hit the submit button. That’s it, less than 2 minutes of your time. And let me know if you’ve voted, so I can thank you personally. Because I truly do appreciate every single one of you who support my little blog.
Why Should You Vote for Me?
Well, I’m going to give you both a long and short version of my answer to this, because there is so much I want to say but I appreciate that time is limited for most of us, and for many of my readers health issues may also make reading large swathes of text challenging. So here’s the short version:
Despite being incredibly ill with multiple health conditions, I continue to use my voice and writing skills to raise awareness of many issues and offer support to others. I write from my bed, often taking days (if not weeks) to put together my posts, because it is important to me that they offer value to my readers. I research things thoroughly, provide links to other resources, and make complex issues accessible.
In the past year alone I have written two posts in support of the LGBTQ+ Community, supported two other bloggers in sharing their books, crowdsourced a post on strong female characters for International Women’s Day, and written several posts about living well with chronic illness. And last year I wrote about the true cost of the UK benefit system (and how it is damaging lives).
Over the past few years I have become increasingly more debilitated by my health issues, and have barely left my house other than for medical appointments for the past 6 months. Many days I have been completely bed-bound, fighting such incredible fatigue and pain that I can’t even put it into words. There is so much I cannot do, but one thing I can do is use my voice to make a difference. This nomination feels like not just a recognition of my work but also the efforts of every single person in the chronic illness community that uses up valuable spoons (energy) to connect with others and let them know they are not alone. It says, to me at least, that we are visible, we are valued, and we are worth celebrating.
and now the long version…
I’ve been blogging since 2006, and started The Family Patch (initially called Amanda’s Patch before we became parents) in April 2010. From the very beginning the aim of this blog has been to raise awareness, provide support, and offer an authentic view of life. I set it up whilst recovering from a really bad spell with my Endometriosis, and shared posts about that alongside updates on our “wedding on a budget” and our hopes to start a family. When Hyperemesis hit, I blogged about my pregnancy journey, sharing how much it hurt to choose never to have another baby, and providing links and resources for other women suffering. I even wrote a book on the subject, and was interviewed on Good Morning Britain!
As time went on, and our lives became increasingly more challenging, I continued to write openly and honestly about our lives, knowing that my ability to take complex information and difficult issues and make them accessible is a real gift. I’m a linguist and a writer, I understand the power words have to either lift up or destroy, and I wanted to be sure that I used my power to support others. I wrote a poem for Little Man, helping him to understand what was happening as his Daddy got sick, and I got to read it at BritMums Live in 2015. I wrote about my own failing health, what it’s like being chronically ill, how it feels when life turns out differently to how you planned, and how to set new, realistic goals for yourself. If you look back over the posts I’ve written in date order, you can clearly see the journey I have been on, falling down so many times and learning to live with my new “normal”.
Every time I sit down to write a new post, I have the reader in mind. I want to make sure that I provide a friendly voice that knows what it’s like to struggle and is on your side. I want to provide resources that equip others with the tools they need to advocate for themselves, or a link they can share when they simply don’t have the words themselves. Because as I said before, words are my thing. I may be stuck in bed, it may take me several days (if not weeks) to find the energy and strength to put a post together, but I’ll never stop using my voice to try and make the world a better place for all of us.
“Alone We Can Do So Much, Together We Can Do So Much more”
One of my favourite people, Shiv from One Woman Revolution, often says this, and it is so true. We live in a world that is increasingly polarised in so many ways, but it doesn’t have to be. Blogging and social media have the ability to bring us together, and when we work together we can achieve incredible things. Over the past nine years, whilst writing The Family Patch, I have been blessed to see this happen so many times. I’ve seen bloggers across the country come together to support Team Honk in their work for Comic Relief. I’ve organised two handmade auctions for charity, including completing a “nine months of crochet” challenge to create as many items as I could with just 10 minutes of crochet a day, to be sold in the second auction. And I’ve seen the incredible legacy that #BeMoreWitWitWoo has created to celebrate and remember the life of Kate Sutton, who left us all too soon.
And here’s the thing, everyone has the power to create change, no matter how small their contributions may feel. I have never had the biggest audience, and I certainly don’t have the energy to do as much as many other bloggers do, but look at me – my blog has been shortlisted in a national blogging award! I know how easy it is to fall into the trap of thinking you have nothing to give, or what you do doesn’t matter. I’ve been there many times before, and have no doubt I will be many times again in the future. But when I look back over the years and see how much I have achieved, despite going through some of the hardest years imaginable, I feel so proud. And if I can do it, anybody can!
Don’t forget To Vote For Me!
Of course, I still need your votes to give me a chance of winning the Inspire category in the awards. I’m up against some amazing bloggers, and it really is such an honour to be a finalist. And last night when I first saw I had been shortlisted, my initial thought was, “I haven’t got a chance of actually winning!” But then I realised how wrong I was. I have every chance of winning, because what I do makes a difference. It’s time for me to stop down-playing my achievements, once and for all. And as I said before, it feels like showing the world that those of us with chronic illnesses can have a voice that is heard and makes a difference. So please, vote for me here. Thank you.