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Amanda Shortman from The Family Patch

I’m Going To BlogOn MSI 2017

If you’ve been following my blog for some time, you’ll know that I love nothing more than a blogging conference! I love the opportunity to get together with like-minded people, actually have a chat over a cuppa with people I usually only ever speak to online, and attend sessions from some of the most inspirational bloggers around. So it’s no surprise that I jumped at the chance to attend another conference this year.

My biggest concern this year is not nerves, but rather a hope that I will be well enough to enjoy the event as much as possible. Last year was the first year I didn’t attend a conference since 2012, and it really upset me. This year I’m determined to make it to at least one, so keep your fingers crossed for me that I’m having a “good day” on 21st May!

I’ve never been to BlogOn before (despite hearing amazing things about it), so it’s doubly exciting for me to be preparing to attend it. Which is why I decided to take part in the Linky, to try and “get to know” some people before I get there. Blogging conferences are always quite a blur of names and faces, and so it’s always handy to have a vague idea of who you might meet (to save you staring at another person’s chest, trying to make out their name and where they blog).

So, without further ado, here are my answers to the BlogOn Linky…

Share a recent picture of you:

Um, okay, most of my recent photos are selfies from my bed, so here you go… I promise I won’t be wearing PJs on the day!!

Amanda Shortman from The Family Patch

Describe yourself in three words

Determined, Passionate, Stubborn

How long have you been blogging and what made you start?

Over a decade now… I started in 2006 as I was coming to the end of my final year at uni. I was looking towards the future – what did I want to do, what were my dreams, how might that happen etc? Blogging just seemed like the most natural thing in the world to me, as a linguist and a writer…

What was the inspiration behind your blog name?

My very first blog was called “Dream of Living” (based on my above questions!). When I met my husband, I changed to “Me and You at 22” (we lived at number 22, it wasn’t a play on our age). Then in 2010 I left my full-time job to explore other options, as I knew I wouldn’t be well enough to start a family and work full-time.

At that point I upped my game a bit with blogging, posting 5 times a week (I still wasn’t big on using social media though) and changed the blog to “Amanda’s Patch”, so it became my patch of the internet, and was a play on the fact I wrote about gardening and crafts.

When Little Man was born in 2011 I realised I wanted the blog to reflect the changed nature of my life, and so I changed it to “The Family Patch”. I sometimes wonder if it still reflects what I write about, but I can’t imagine being anything else now.

What is the best thing to come from your blog so far?

Friendships. I have some blogging friends I made way back in my early years as a blogger, people I have never even met, and yet they are still people I truly care about and who genuinely care about me too. I’ve also made some amazing friendships with people I have met at conferences, which is even more exciting as they become IRL friends as well.

That, to me, is the greatest gift blogging gives anyone!

Your most remembered thing from your childhood

Oh gosh, I’m not sure I can choose just one thing. Can I share a few?

Holidays at the caravan with my Grandparents
Having free access to the sewing kit and being able to create whatever I wanted
Getting up before anyone else at the weekend and writing stories
Spending my pocket money at the Church Bazaar to buy Christmas presents
Reading books under the covers when I should have been asleep!

Something interesting you might not know about me is . . .

Oh this is a tough one – I am such an open book I’m pretty sure I’ve shared most things on here at some point or another…

I suffer terribly with Imposter Syndrome and low self-esteem, and am constantly expecting people to rumble me and find out I haven’t got a clue and have been winging it this whole time. I undervalue my skills, feel like the smallest fish in the very big pond that is blogging, feel completely blessed that people actually like me, and am more likely to think, “I can’t do that” than “I can”.

I think this may actually surprise quite a few people, because despite battling these feelings every single day, I’m very determined and refuse to let it beat me. Sometimes I think I’d quite like a quiet life where I don’t feel sick to my stomach with worry before doing something like trying to grow my blog, walking into a crowded room, taking part in an interview etc, but then I remember how good it feels to have come out the other side and I keep going. (And, actually, once I’m doing it I usually enjoy it, it’s the worrying beforehand that gets me).

So, if you see me and think I’m a confident social butterfly, know that I’m actually just too stubborn to let nerves and shyness beat me!

Which social media platform best describes your personality and why?

Instagram. I love the intimacy that comes from sharing snapshots of your life, and am inspired by the more staged shots too. I think my life and personality is very much reflected in the delicate balance between real-life and what we show to the world on a daily basis!

What is your happy song?

Oooh good question… at the moment I think it would have to be Cleveland by Jewel. I absolutely adore this part of the song:

From the air things look so ridiculous
Our fears so small, our fights so vain
I wanna pilot a plane with you
So all our problems look small, too
It’s only an inch from me to you
Depending on what map you use

What is your favourite alcoholic drink

I don’t really drink alcohol – even the smallest amount makes my head spin, my stomach churn, and my body feel all antsy.

That being said, I do quite like a sip of my husband’s whiskey, or coffee Baileys at Christmas!

 What is your favourite cake?

Chocolate… anything chocolatey will do fine, thank you very much! Preferably without icing/frosting… I find that too sweet for me.

I’m quite suspicious of takeaway food… My husband was sick after Chinese food at the beginning of my awful pregnancy, and the first time I had a gluten free pizza delivered I was sick all night too (although that was more likely due to working late and eating too fast and getting terrible heartburn, but still, we don’t have a good track record with takeaway food!)

Where is your dream holiday destination and why?

In the UK, it will always be Glastonbury. That feels like home to me.

Abroad it would probably be Sweden. My aunt comes from Sweden and whenever she describes it I think, “wow, I really want to go there and experience that!”

What would your superhero name be?

Mrs Wing-It

Haha, I’m serious… you remember I said I am always waiting for people to figure out I’m just winging it? Well, I’m actually pretty good at it… I once led a 2 hour seminar at uni on the railway motif in Dr Zhivago and I hadn’t even finished reading the book at that point!

If you had a magical power, what would you want to have and why?

The power to heal… because I know how truly awful it is to both suffer and see those you love suffer, and not be able to do anything about it.

What one weapon would help you survive a zombie apocalypse?

I would most likely die in a zombie apocalypse… partly because I get everything going, so if a virus turned half the world’s population into zombies I’d be one of the first to catch it, and partly because I haven’t watched enough zombie movies to educate myself on the best kind of defense!

If you could send something into space, what would it be?

A copy of all the space themed books, films, and tv series I could think of… wouldn’t it be funny for someone to come across our visions of space exploration from things as far ranging as Star Trek, Star Wars, Galaxy Quest, Babylon 5, Firefly, 2001: A Space Odyssey… (I could go on, but that would just be ridiculous!)

What would you have on your gravestone?

Other than my name? Probably that I lived my life as well as I could, brought more joy than despair to the world, and am heading off on a great adventure into the unknown.

You make headline news around the world in 2 years time… but for what reason?

I’d like it to be for some kind of social reason – e.g. I was part of an initiative to change something like housing, healthcare, justice, religious tolerance etc which is having a deep impact on the health and wellbeing of many.

If an EMP wiped out all mechanical forms of transport, how would you get to BlogOn?

I’d walk… I’m assuming social media still exists, right? So I’d blog and tweet and instagram my way there, asking for suggestions of campsites and places to eat as I went. I’m not sure how many days it would take (with the state of my health right now I’d probably have to leave in February haha) but I’d try to make an adventure out of it (plus it would be great blogging fodder, wouldn’t it?)

Well that was certainly an interesting series of questions… If you’re going to BlogOn too, why not check out the Linky and join in with it too?

gift from the Goddess January 2015

On Letting Go

Have you ever found that sometimes, when you stop fighting, things just suddenly begin to fall into place in a way you could never have imagined?

There are so many things happening in my life right now, many of which I simply can’t talk about on here. Some are still very much in transition and to write about them before their conclusion feels unwise. Others seem so huge and life-changing, that I feel cautious to share them so openly, because I do not wish to burst the bubble of contentment, peace, security (I don’t quite know how to explain it) that has enclosed me these past couple of weeks. But needless to say, had someone told me that I’d feel this way just a few short weeks after feeling like my entire world was falling apart, I would never have believed them!

It’s a strange place to be, feeling secure in the seeming unknown, when actually the start of 2015 has been extremely turbulent in both my personal life and the wider world around us. If anything, there is more uncertainty in my life now than there has been in a very, very long time. And yet I am finding it easier than ever to surrender and allow life to unfold without resistance. After years of trying to control so many aspects of my life, it’s refreshingly different and surprisingly productive…

I had a sudden image (a vision, if you will) the other day of being positioned with slight adjustments here and there, just as an artist would gently ease a model made of clay into the perfect position. That’s exactly what it feels like for me right now, and whenever I start to feel my old worry and panic rising up, I stop and take a breath and focus on allowing change to happen. Whilst many changes are taking place externally, the greatest change has most certainly been internal.

It began just before New Year, with a prayer. Not just any prayer, but a heartfelt one which signalled the end of my resistance and the opening of my heart fully. Since then, not only have I found a peaceful core from which to cope with the sudden changes in my life, but I’ve also found the tools and support necessary to continue exploring in a way I have yearned for for far too long now.

For instance… the day I received news of a major change in my life, I also received this most beautiful gift from an unknown friend.

gift

I still have absolutely no idea who sent it… I had to sign for the delivery but there was no postmark on it, no clues as to where it had come from, no name on the card that came with it, just a very sweet and encouraging message…

message

Now, it’s clearly from someone who knows me. They had to know that I would truly appreciate the books included – I haven’t written a huge amount about my faith and spirituality on the blog so I am assuming they know me “off the blog” too. However, given the message above, the gift giver must have seen my post about my goals for 2015, surely? More than anything else, they have to have known my postal address!! Taking all these into account, I have a few people it could be, but I am not 100% which one it is.

Whoever it is though, the “little something” is actually a hugely generous gift that has touched my heart in more ways that I can express and came at the most perfect time. It has come to remind me to continue opening my heart to the unseen, to begin trusting in the unknown, and to embrace the community around me in ways I haven’t done in years, if ever.

I’m learning to accept who I am, to stop feeling apologetic for not “fitting in”, to allow myself to explore my own faith and understanding and be comfortable in that. I am learning not to hide who I am, to know it is okay to be different, and that who I am is unique and perfect for the life I am leading.

This is all being reflected back to me in so many ways that I can no longer ignore it. Major external changes are hard to miss, but the internal ones are pretty easy to dismiss sometimes, don’t you think? You can so easily doubt them when there is little tangible evidence for them on the surface. Which is why the surprise gift means so much – it is a physical reminder of the internal changes towards release and acceptance of support, one which came at the most perfect moment.

Which brings me back to the very beginning of this blog post…

“Have you ever found that sometimes, when you stop fighting, things just suddenly begin to fall into place in a way you could never have imagined?”

 

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This post has been shared as part of the #sharethejoy linky hosted by Bod For Tea

Share the Joy linky at bodfortea.co.uk