1. When were you last on a ‘mountaintop’? You may answer in the literal or figurative sense of the word.
The setting of a mountain top is pertinent to me as a Christian at this time of the year. It seems that everything major that went on in the Bible was done on a mountain – from Moses and the 10 Commandments to Jesus and his temptation by the devil – so this is a timely question, thank you Joyce! Figuratively, the last time I was on a mountain top (ie somewhere where I removed myself from my life and looked down on it from a distance, reminding myself of all the goods, the bads, the terribles, the downright awfuls, the challenges, the joys, the tests and the achievements etc) was yesterday, as it happens. The time before that would have been months ago, so yet again, a timely question!
The reason I found myself on my lonely mountain top was because of a culmination of a lot of things, resulting in me feeling that I really should do an assessment of my life and get a grip. You may know already but I have a health problem (I’m not going to go into it here, it gets boring for me as much as it gets boring for my readers!) and you probably don’t know that I also suffer from depression as well. It would be easy to write off my depression as being because of my continuing health problems but if I’m totally honest, I have suffered from depression on and off throughout my adult life and it would be hanging over me whether I was as fit as a fiddle or not. Anyway, I’m digressing.
My mountain top assessment came about because there was absolutely nothing in my life that I could put my finger on that I was good at or useful for….not an unknown train of thought for me….and, recognising the danger signs I took myself away and managed to halt the destructive thought patterns in their tracks. As it stands today I’ve not been able to get rid of them totally, but at least the driving seat is occupied by me and not my “black dog”, as Winston Churchill famously referred to it. If you’ve suffered from depression you’ll know that it’s ugly blackness seeps into every area of your life and affects you in ways that you don’t recognise until your whole life is just one patchwork of dark. People’s seeping blackness happens at different rates, and if you’re like me, each bout of depression has its own characteristics and sometimes the blackness can descend overnight. Sometimes it can take months. Sometimes it is because of a single event, other times it can be because of a sequence of events. Sometimes there is no definite start or event to it and you only know it has crept up on you because you wake up one day and you realise that sunshine makes you cry with an undescribable and undefinable grief.
My last literal mountain-top visit is more difficult to pin down. We spent some time last summer in Wales and we had a glorious time on top of the Great Orme (or the Great Orme’s Head as it is on the map). I love being on mountain tops and I love being beside the sea, so being on a mountain top by the sea is my idea of heaven.
2. Do you establish and maintain a strict budget in your household? What is one piece of financial advice you would offer someone just starting out on their own?
HAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAA!!!! No we do not have a strict budget in our household. We are usually trying hard to rob Peter to pay Paul that to commit it to paper as a budget would just put into reality exactly where we can’t make ends meet. My one piece of general financial advice I would offer someone would be “don’t borrow money/get credit”. My one piece of advice I would give my daughter, very specifically, is “maximise your qualifications and get a good enough job that you can be self-sufficient and you don’t need to rely on a man to support you”.
3. Cherries-yay or nay? Cherry pie-cherry cola-black forest cake-or a scoop of Ben and Jerry’s Cherries Garcia…pick one.
I love cherries. I love them fresh, in jam, on cakes, as preserves, in ice-cream etc but I am not fond of cherry “flavoured” things. The essence of cherry gets lost when it is reduced to a series of E numbers in cola or chewing gum!
4. Should you ever discuss religion or politics with people you don’t know?
Hmmmm… “should you” is very different to “do you”. I think generally speaking you should be careful when discussing both religion and politics with people you don’t know because they are both highly emotive subjects and the scope for causing distress or anger is immense. However, I am quite comfortable with discussing my faith with people I don’t know (depending on the setting) so long as they either bring it up first, or the conversation is heading in that direction. Politics is a tricky one because it affects so many people in so many different ways. I regularly discuss politics with a close friend of mine and we more often than not end up falling out with each other because of our opposing views. Not good is it really?
I think it’s important to talk about difficult things though, and if it’s handled with sensitivity and compassion then even politics and religion can be discussed with strangers. And if there’s a brick wall or computer screen between you…..!
5. When you take a road trip do you prefer to be the driver or the passenger? Where were you headed on your last road trip?
I love road trips and it doesn’t bother me whether I’m a passenger or the driver. Both have their benefits. In our family, we have an unspoken “rule” that the driver is in control of the music and the internal temperature in the car, and the passenger (or the “co-pilot” as we refer to ourselves on a long trip) is in charge of the snacks, the map and the word-games with the kids. Being a passenger means that you see the best of the scenery but being the driver means you get the say-so about when and where to stop. We have the best of both worlds in our family!
My last road trip would have been holiday time last year when we toured the Midlands with our new (to us) caravan.
6. If we peeked inside your closet, what colour would we say is most prevalent?
My total wardrobe is made up of black, white, grey and blue with the occasional splash of yellow. And I do mean occasional…..!
7. Who’s your favourite senior citizen and why are they special?
My Gran, Flo. She’s special because she is spirited, forward thinking, strong willed, a gifted story-teller and even though her body is letting her down she refuses to give in. Her greatest strength is that she lives for the future, even at the age of 96 she is still making plans for later this year, next Christmas etc. She is nearly totally deaf and blind, “walks” with a frame (by “walk” I mean shuffles along an inch at a time on bandaged and crippled feet), is nearly doubled over with a shrunken spine when she stands up, can’t lie down in bed without help, has failing kidneys and asthma, and she can no longer make herself even a cup of tea and a sandwich, but she absolutely refuses to go into a nursing home and constantly talks about the positive side of life. She never complains, she never moans and she never gossips about other people. She is always concerned about other people’s health problems and she is cheerful to the point it puts me to shame. She is a total inspiration and I love her.
8. Insert your own random thought here.
We began our Lenten bible study this evening, which was fascinating. We are studying the Lord’s prayer throughout Lent and we explored the opening tonight: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name”. We talked about the concept of “our” father, that he belongs not to the chosen few, or the favoured few but to all of us. ALL of us. He is our father and we don’t need anyone to talk to him on our behalf thank you very much. Would you get someone else to say thank you to your Dad for giving you a gift? Not only someone else, but a stranger?? When Jesus taught his disciples how to pray and he gave them these words he was subverting the establishment in ways that we probably can’t comprehend today. OUR FATHER… we are all children together are we not? So why all the hatred and mistrust? If we just accepted that we are all in this together and we all belong to Him then maybe, just maybe, the world might be a better place for everyone.