Ursula, the creator of An Upturned Soul has put together a questionnaire, as explained in her posts below:
I have tried to answer the questions, although I think some of my answers are a bit confusing. Halfway through I started worrying this was a psychoanalysis kind of test – and I have no idea what a psychologist would make of my answers!
1 – What is your favourite word?
– it’s not the meaning I like, it’s the sound of the letters. Every time I hear it or say it, I instantly think of flapjack. I have no idea why – but since the first time I heard that word the thought and taste of oats and seeds and fruit baked in syrup came into my head.
2 – What is your favourite curse word?
I don’t use curse words or swear words. I might say AY KARUMBA! as an exclamation of surprise or frustration.
3 – What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
That’s a good question. I am not sure I know the exact answer.
I don’t think I quite understand my own potential for creativity, never mind anyone else’s. But I do think it is healthy to be able to express yourself in a form like art, poetry, writing or in some other creative form.
Spiritually – I am fascinated by what people believe and why. I love having conversations with friends and workmates about spiritual subjects. I listen very respectfully, even if I don’t necessarily think what I am hearing sounds reasonable. But for myself, my own beliefs need to hold water under test. They have to make sense. I have to be able to explain them logically. I can’t just go with my feelings or sentimental preferences. I do believe in a Creator – I find it hard to understand how any physicist could explain the incredible order, countless manifestations of mathematical genius, and clear laws that are a hallmark of our universe, from the tiniest particle to the largest celestial bodies. But I had to find answers to a whole bunch of other questions before I was satisfied.
Emotionally – balance. I love positive emotions and the positive actions they prompt – concern and unselfish kindness, respect and honour, a desire to do good. But with any person I spend a significant amount of time with, I pick up on whether they are balanced emotionally. I know some people that I love very much, that cause me concern. I think some of them are headed for a nervous break-down. They don’t seem to realize it. They are trying so hard to be what they think they should be, but I can see the signs of chronic stress. They say and do things that are not balanced, are not reasonable. I keep my eye on my friends who I feel might not understand what they are doing to their emotional health. I don’t want them to crash. But sometimes it’s only after a crash that a person finally starts to understand their own emotions.
4 – What sound or noise do you love?
There are so many I like…
- waves upon the shore
- birdsong early in the morning
- a bottle cap being released from a glass bottle
- harp music – I have a good friend who plays the harp
- Goldfinch making sounds of contentment
5 – What natural gift would you most like to possess?
A natural gift?
There are things I would love to be able to do. I have this vision of waking up on a beautiful morning and going out of the house into a garden. I see myself picking vegetables and fruit and herbs.
Then I would take them inside and use them to make beautiful dishes which will feed my family later. My way of life now, in a busy area of London makes me feel disconnected from the natural world. I will hunt for a recipe and go to the supermarket and buy the ingredients. Then I am glued to every step of the recipe as I am cooking. I wish I could have a way of life where I was closer to the natural world. I would love to cultivate crops and know all about them and understood so much more about vegetation. I would love to be creative in cooking – rather than being glued to a recipe.
But that is only for myself. In this day and age, I wish that as I was walking through the busy streets of London – I wish I could tell if I was passing someone who was close to broken. I believe I pass thousands of people a day. I wish I knew which of them were at breaking point. I try to smile at everyone passing, but if only I knew who was desperate for some human kindness just to give them a little strength to get through the day.
6 – What is your principal defect? List the pros of having this defect and give it a positive spin (imagine that you’re selling it to someone else)?
I have defects aplenty – chubby face, too many wobbly bits for my liking, clumsy feet. I have learnt to accept them over the years. But I am happy with my physical body overall. This is me at around the age of ten or eleven – I still have the same face. But my chubby face always looks as if am smiling, so I have learnt to like my face.
Personality-wise I have plenty of defects too. I sometimes bottle things up. In the past that did me a lot of damage. But I realize that I have a number of times in my life put up with a situation for a long time, without saying how it made me feel, until suddenly I decided enough is enough – and then I just vanish when I cannot take anymore. But I am happy with who I am, at least the person I aim to be each day.
7 – What is your motto? Why is it your motto? Where or who did it come from originally?
I don’t think I have my own motto – but I often think of the mottoes from others who I respect greatly:
- Once on the lips forever on the hips
- People don’t care how much you know, they want to know how much you care
- If you don’t have something kind to say, then don’t say anything at all
- Try to take things on the chin with a grin
- It’s often the good deeds you do in silence without anyone else even realizing that count the most
8 – What was the last gift you gave someone?
I am not very creative with gifts – once in a blue moon perhaps I will think of something amazing. But to most people I would give something edible, something I already know they like.
The first gift I ever bought for Goldfinch were jars of chutneys. He wanted to buy some chutneys when we visited a National Trust shop, but they didn’t have what he was looking for. So I found a gift set of chutneys and sent them to him.
9 – You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What colour would you be and why? Describe the colour to somebody who is blind.
A new addition. I guess since I like blues and greens it would be somewhere in between. Some shade of the ocean.
I have one friend who has now completely lost the sight in both eyes. But he only started to lose his sight in his teens, so he remembers colours. I knew what he would appreciate some assistance with at times, without in any way undermining his desire to be independent.
How would I describe a colour to someone who had so little sight that colour is a strange concept? – I don’t know. I have spent years as a sign language interpreter and have many friends who are deaf. I am very aware of how they might think and communicate.
But I have little experience of working with anyone who has been effected by blindness since birth. When I was at primary school we were taught that blues were cool colours and they have a calming refreshing effect. So I might ask someone who is blind and has never physically seen the colour blue to think of a cool breeze and how it feels to be at peace and calm. I have no idea if that would help or baffle them???
10 – What are you known for?
It depends who you are asking. But I think if you asked my employers they would say faithful and reliable. I also like to leave things clean and tidy for my colleagues. I turn up on time and do my work well and go home.
I like to ask questions to learn about people. I get people talking. I like listening to them. This is what I do. And yet all my friends say that I have amazing life stories. Which always seems funny to me, since I always make sure I get other people talking and try not to dominate conversations even though I am rarely lost for words.
I do have a lot of stories of my family, my travels, my friends, the different people I have worked with, the projects I have worked on, the places I have been…I am never ever short of experiences to relate. But I want to hear the stories other people have.
11 – What’s the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from your resume (or online bio/profile) alone?
I think what amazes a lot of people is that I worked full-time for five years without any wages.
People ask how? I was provided with accommodation, meals, and there was a room where we could go and see the donated clothing and if anything fit us we could keep it. We could not abuse that provision because we didn’t have a lot of storage space. Happiest time of my life – itching to get back there.
12 – What’s the last thing you watched on TV and why did you choose to watch it?
The last thing I watched on television was an episode of Masterchef.
I chose it because I love seeing the the dishes the contestants come up with. I think they are super. I am impressed by the contestants and I like the judges and the feedback they give. Its clear that the contestants do learn new skills and grow in confidence.
13 – How would you convince someone to do something they didn’t want to do?
It depends on what it is. I believe in free will. So there would have to be a very good reason for me to try to persuade someone to do something they did not want to.
I would ask if they understand the choice before them. What are the consequences of doing or not doing this thing. I would reason with them and try to use logic with regards to the cost of either decision.
I may use some emotive terms to motivate them. Not to force them, but some people hear the good that may come from a good decision and they don’t care. I might try to encourage them to care. I had to talk to patients about changing their lifestyle habits when I worked within the medical field and in the post below I give an example of how we had to try to convince others to make healthy choices:
But they have to make their own mind up in the end. I could not force them to do something they didn’t want to. It’s pointless for someone to feel under duress and pressured against their will. People make their own decisions and they are accountable for the consequences.
14 – You’ve been given an elephant. You can’t give it away or sell it. What would you do with the elephant?
What kind of elephant is it? Is it an African elephant or an Asian elephant?
Well, either way, London is not the best place for an elephant. So if the elephant is now my responsibility, I guess I would have to figure out a way to get both myself and my elephant over to somewhere more suitable. I think I could lead a contented life and adapt and still thrive…more than an elephant having to live in a sweet little basement flat in London.
15 – We finish the interview and you step outside the office and find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
If I saw a lottery ticket on the floor, I would likely walk past it or put in the bin.
If I for any reason realized I had in my possession someone else’s winning lottery ticket, I suppose I would take it to the police and ask them if they know what to do with it. I would not want anything to do with it.
I am opposed to gambling in any form, after the damage it did to my father when he was a young man. He was able to stop gambling before he married my mother and before I was born. But he had to spend years paying off debt and caring for a family of seven children at the same time.
16 – Teach me something I don’t know in the next five minutes (in your reply to this question).
I don’t know what you don’t know…so I will have to teach you something that you would only know if you knew me.
I guess I would explain the nature of my head injuries and the problems they still cause me three and a half years later. It would be helpful if you knew what to do if I have a black-out or if I have breathing difficulties. I would tell you everything you would need to tell paramedics if you need to call an ambulance, and tell you which of my friends you could call who have a key to my place and would pick up my overnight case for hospital visits.
Additional challenge questions from Ursula:
Which of these questions was your favourite and why?
I liked Question 4 – What sound or noise do you love?
What did you learn about yourself while reading the questions?
I realized that while I was trying to answer Question 9, that I have not spent enough time working with those who have been blind from birth. I don’t think I really appreciate what it must be like to make sense of a world if you have never had sight.
What did you discover about yourself while answering the questions?
Erm…is that almost the same question?
It did cross my mind as I was answering these questions, that the answers I gave you are probably the same answers I would have given you ten years ago, and probably the same answers I would have given you ten years before that. I think the major parts of my character were settled very early in life. All the people and experiences I have known since then, have enriched the strong foundation and framework my parents established. Apart from Question 16, because in June it will be four years since I received those head injuries that have had an impact on my heart.
If you checked out the original questionnaires, which of the questions that I left out would you have liked to have answered and why?
I did look at the questionnaires you sourced the questions from and I think Ursula, you made a great pick of those questions. I also liked some on the list from Marcel Proust’s Questionnaires – at age 13
- What is your idea of earthly happiness?
- Who are your favourite fictional heroes?
- Who are your favourite characters in history?
- Who are your favourite heroines in real life?
- Who are your favourite fictional heroines?
- What quality do you most admire in a man?
- What quality do you most admire in a woman?
- What is your favourite virtue?
- What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
I had originally included this question from the interview questionnaire – What’s your favourite ’90s jam?:
I listened to a massive array of music in the ’90s around the time I was working for a record company. There were so many songs that came into my head when I saw you had mentioned Blur – Song Two. I really don’t know what to pick off the Britpop spectrum other than the obvious Oasis, Blur and Pulp. There were so many…but here are four of the songs I remember loving performed live.