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90th birthday card signed by 6 year old with blog name

Finding Joy in the Hard Times

It’s been rather a long time since I wrote a post for Share The Joy, the monthly linky that the gorgeous Christina hosts over on Ladybug Home. At the beginning of this year I offered to support Christina in continuing to run this lovely linky that celebrates joy-filled posts, and it has been playing on my mind that I have been too sick to do so. Which is why I am so pleased to finally be writing a post that I can link up and share with the Share The Joy Community.

It’s not that I haven’t had things I wanted to blog about, it’s just that I have been so unbelievably ill this year and looking at a computer screen long enough to type up a blog post simply hasn’t been an option. I’ve been suffering from migraines lasting for up to two whole weeks every single month, and it has been hell. Whilst trying to function through such debilitating symptoms I’ve also had the usual string of colds (I’ve got another one now), Little Man had tonsillitis, and we’ve had snow days and Easter holidays too. Add our ongoing battle with the DWP, and you can begin to understand why I simply couldn’t find the time or energy to update the blog.

But, here I am, and it is so very good to be back talking to you all. I love this little home of mine on the internet, and so does Little Man apparently. Recently my Grandma celebrated her 90th birthday and he signed his card from “The Family Patch” rather than putting his own name. Oh how it made me laugh!

90th birthday card signed by 6 year old with blog name

realising i’d lost my blogging joy

But seeing Little Man take so much pride in being part of my blog also made me realise that I had lost some of the joy of coming on here and writing. I have a very small, but truly wonderful, audience and my stats are never going to impress anyone. And so I felt pressure to change that, to make my blog more like a business, so that I could work on brand collaborations and use it as a platform for launching e-products such as courses or books. You just have to look at my plans for 2018 to realise how convinced I was that I needed to make my blog more successful than it is.

There is a reason for this, of course. At the end of last year I still hadn’t had my medical assessment for ESA and so was convinced that they wouldn’t understand how ill I am and insist that I work towards increasing my self-employed hours. And I knew that increasing my client hours was not an option, as I was struggling to keep up with just a few hours a month at that point. So it made sense to focus on my blog, because it’s easier to plan my own time working on the blog than it is when working for clients. But I’ve always been a Hobby Blogger, and have found that the times when I have tried to be more professional about growing my blog have been the times I have felt so stifled that I lost all the joy.

Thankfully the DWP actually accepted how sick I am (for which I am entirely grateful, given how sick I have been of late), and so I’ve been able to focus on simply resting and trying to get through each day as best as I can. And a large part of that is trying to find joy in the hard times, because our emotional health is as important as our physical health, don’t you think?

Share The Joy Linky Sharing My Joy

So how have I been finding joy in the hard times?

Well, first of all I have been creating time and making a conscious effort to nurture myself. I have been doing this in several ways, but the most joyful of these has to be yoga. I have found some truly wonderful yoga teachers sharing videos on YouTube and informational posts on Instagram which have really lifted me out of my funk.

Some of them are created specifically for those with chronic illnesses, making them super easy for me to do from my bed. Others focus on specific problems, such as migraines, neck and shoulder tension, backache etc, all of which I really struggle with. And then there are the Kundalini ones, which are my absolute favourites. I want to write a separate post sharing my favourite yoga finds at some point, because there truly are some amazing resources out there.

Secondly, I’ve been finding things to keep my mind occupied whilst I’m physically unable to get out of bed or leave the house. I have spent a large part of this year either bed-ridden or house bound, and it has been really challenging for me. I like being active and feeling useful, so my emotional health has taken a real beating this year. However I have been learning how to find my joy in the hard times by purposefully seeking out things that I can do. Activities have included colouring books, crocheting blankets, reading (or listening to podcasts if my head is too painful/woozy to look at a page), and planning rewrites of my novel.

crochet baby blankets using aldi chenille yarn

rediscovering myself through lost loves

What I have found through all of this is that despite my fear that my health issues have changed who I am, my passions remain the same. I still absolutely love creating things, which is why I have been drawn towards colouring books and crochet. I’ve even spent some of my birthday money on a bible journal which has beautiful illustrations to colour in, along with some stickers, gesso, and a black fineliner so that I can have a go at painting and drawing my own illustrations in the bible.

I also spent some of my birthday money on novel writing software, to help me bring all my random thoughts, character notes, chapter plans, and drafts into some kind of order. Being able to spend my birthday money on things which support my creativity and ability to find joy in the hard times has been such an amazing blessing.

Talking of birthdays, Tim also bought me second hand copies of the grammar textbooks I had at uni for both German and Russian (at my request). When I left university I had such a lack of confidence in my language skills that I simply got rid of most of my resources and never used them again. But recently I have been spending a lot of time on instagram (it’s so easy to scroll through whilst lying in bed), and I began following some German and Russian accounts.

Over time I began wanting to reply and take part in some of the activities presented by those using instagram to teach their language. I have been using DuoLingo for a while now, but hadn’t actually been in a position of having a two-sided conversation with a native speaker. And it was scary at first. But the more I did it the more I realised that I do have a natural affinity for languages and I’m actually really enjoying the learning process. I even shared a video of myself saying a Russian tongue twister!!

So that’s another way that I have been finding joy in the hard times – I have been reminding myself that even when life knocks you down so often you feel like you cannot possibly get up again, there is *always* something you can still do.

I’d love to hear from you about the things which bring you joy and how you integrate them into your lives. Do you, like me, often neglect the joyful things and have to make a conscious effort to indulge in joyful activities?

Share The Joy @ The Family Patch

Share The Joy Linky – The Joy of Community

Welcome to Share The Joy – your weekly dose of positivity and inspiration! Since September this year, I have been co-hosting the linky with three other wonderful bloggers (Carol, Christina, and Lizzie) over on my other blog. However earlier this month I decided to bring everything here to The Family Patch, and it’s wonderful to welcome you to the linky here for the very first time!

what is share the joy?

If you’ve never taken part in Share The Joy, then you’re in for a real treat. Bloggers from across the world and spanning all genres join in by sharing posts that have made them smile. It really is a lovely linky, with several bloggers linking up week after week, and new faces joining in as we begin to spread the word. If you’ve never taken part in a linky before, it’s really very simple – you simply add the URL to your chosen post (new, or old) in the link up at the bottom of this post, and then visit and comment on at least one other link added by another blogger. The aim is to share the joy far and wide, and find new blogs to enjoy along the way.

Share The Joy Linky Sharing My Joy

what has made me joyful this week?

This week has been a really challenging one for us in so many ways – Tim and I have both been very ill, jobs we needed to get done have been postponed (leading to an ever-growing to-do list), and life has just felt hard.

However this weekend reminded me of the wonderful community we are a part of, and what a difference that truly makes in our lives. We spent Saturday at our church’s Christmas Fair, and had a wonderful time chatting to friends whilst Little Man did his Christmas shopping. Oh, how it filled my heart with joy to watch him eagerly write out a list of people he wanted to buy presents for, and then choose presents and pay for them with his own money.

And then, today, we went to Cafe Church and had a wonderful time chatting with friends about our plans for the coming weeks, how we’re planning on going to the Advent Study, and whether we might make the Folk Carol Service on Christmas Eve and even the service on Christmas Morning. This time last year was a turning point in my faith journey, as I began to realise I could fit in here. And this year Tim really wants to take part too, so we really do feel like we have become a true part of the community, and that is so exciting to me.

My favourite post from last week’s linky

Of course, there’s another community I love as much as the one in my local area, and that’s the online community! One of the greatest joys of co-hosting this linky is reading through all the posts each week. When it is my turn to host I try to choose one which really stood out for me, even though it is really hard to choose just one sometimes.

Last week there was a post which really spoke to me, and that was the one by Rachel from Rachel Ridler: Mum on a Mission, about the app for her local council. Reading how Rachel is using the app to report issues to the council, providing the “eyes and ears” that they may not have in the local community, made me realise just how often we feel out of touch with those who run our towns, cities, and countries. How often do we feel like our voices do not matter, or there’s nothing we can do to change the situations where we live? Not very often, it seems, these days.

And so to see a local council trying to change that, and a local resident taking it on board and really running with it, made me smile. Do go have a look at Rachel’s post from last week if you can, to find out more about it and how she’s using it to try and support her local community.

Share The Joy Linky Co-Host Amanda

And so, to this week’s linky…

If you want to join in, it couldn’t be easier. Just follow the simple steps below:

1) Link up a creation that has brought you JOY – all genres are welcome, new or old favourites and as many links as you like!

2) Include the Share the Joy badge (below) or a text link back to this page in your own post.

3) Please comment on one of your hosts’ posts and a few others. Let’s Share the JOY through commenting as well as through our posts!

Share The Joy will run for a whole week until the following week’s linky is open, so you’ll never be too late to join in. Don’t forget to tweet me @thefamilypatch with the URL to your post using the hashtag #sharethejoylinky so I can retweet it. You can also tag my co-hosts, @AllSortsHere, @LadybugHome1, and @lizzie_roles.

Feel free to invite your friends to join in – JOY is always better when it’s shared!

Grab The Badge

Share The Joy Linky @ The Family Patch

Join The Linky