I have been nominated for THE SUNSHINE BLOGGER AWARD, by Stuart, the creator of , as you can see from his marvellous post below:
- Use the sunshine blogger award logo
- Give thanks to the blogger that nominated you – THANK YOU STUART
- Answer the 11 questions given to you
- Nominate 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 questions
Questions From Stuart
1. When, what seems like the weight of the world is upon your shoulders, what keeps you motivated to take that next step?
Well…nowadays, I don’t allow the weight of the world to be on my shoulders. When I was younger I found I used to become anxious about a lot of things. I was given some wonderful advice when I was around seventeen and somebody spotted I was trying to be a perfectionist, finding it hard to say no, and trying to pack too much in without resting properly – they warned me back then about what stress can do. It’s important to have the right view of ourselves.
Nowadays, I recognise what is my responsibility and what isn’t. If I find that I have agreed to do too much, I speak up and explain I need to cut back on some of my commitments.
I have seen with my own eyes how damaging too much stress can be. I live by simple practical advice to keep stress minimal. I live simply. I enjoy work and give each task my all. I live within my means. I work to make sure I keep good relations with family, friends and colleagues. I try to stay balanced – eat well, exercise regularly, have sufficient rest and quiet time, and make sure I enjoy relaxing and socializing with friends.
I am sure our Creator wants us to enjoy life – not to feel constantly stressed. But if you try to keep up with the materialistic world – you will be missing out on so much wonderful. I talk to Him especially when I am stressed. I have a story about “taking the next step”, but it is a long story, so maybe I will share it in another post.
2. What is something that you used to collect as a child that you wish you still had?
I was not really a collector. I inherited my brother’s stamp collection. I had no idea what I was supposed to do with it. I remember with shame that I tried to carefully peel some of the stamps from the pages so I could use them on letters I had written to friends. I was much too young to be entrusted with his stamp collection.
Actually, letters are one thing I have ended up collecting. I have thousands of personal letters that I received from friends and family. I never wanted to throw them away.
3. What exactly gives you a sense of accomplishment?
Lots of things. I enjoy work, especially the unpaid work I do for charities I have worked with for years. Work is very satisfying.
I have been in many construction projects (I think around fifty in total) from start to finish. It is satisfying to learn new skills and see the results literally take shape before you. I have worked on some incredible projects and i have worked with some amazing people.
However, very early on, it was drawn to my attention that we were not all about bricks and mortar. We were there to help people in the local community. We were training unskilled volunteers. There were some very special experiences I was involved in.
To explain what I mean, I want to tell you about my friends chickens. She took some chickens that had been on a battery farm. It was so heartbreaking when they arrived. They hardly had any feathers, their claws were all curled up and deformed. They sat in a huddle and didn’t move. I went to visit a few weeks later and they were completely transformed! Now they had beautiful feathers. They were roaming around her huge garden. We played football with the kids and chickens decided they wanted to play! They were no longer the chickens that had been mistreated. They were now thriving and full of life and energy.
Well…I have seen similar transformations with some of the new volunteers who came along to one of our projects in the area they lived. There was a woman who stands out in my mind. She was assigned to the painting and decorating team. During the early part of the project, the team are usually working outside. Painting exterior woodwork like fences, gates, outbuildings, priming two by one timbers (used as shadow batoning for a suspended ceiling)…and later on they decorate the inside of the building.
Well this woman was painting outside and we noticed something. She was shaking like a leaf. Now we didn’t know the reason at first. It could have been a medical reason. But as with all volunteers, we got to know her. My eyes are already tearing up remembering her. Her husband had been abusive and violent for years. He destroyed her confidence and self-esteem. That poor lady was beaten by him so severely she lost the sight in one eye. She ended up in hospital covered with bruises and with broken bones. The police carted her husband off to the local nick.
Anyway…by the end of the project a quiet, timid, avoiding eye contact with anyone, standing on her own, shaking with nerves, easily intimidated, scared to make a mistake woman had blossomed magnificently. We ended up discovering she had the most extraordinary laugh. Such an infectious giggley laughter. She was just like those chickens. She was chatting with everyone on site. I remember her chatting, laughing and singing. We patiently trained her and the shaky hand stopped. Her work was excellent.
The satisfaction of seeing someone blossom like that is tremendous. It’s really special. It’s so tangible to see what personal interest, encouragement, kindness, love and patience can do. To see someone start to thrive again – it’s just gorgeous. Seeing how love and kindness can affect people who have suffered is priceless.
Can you or I really make a difference to someone else’s life?
Well…I would like you to imagine the following scene. (You may have heard a version of this before.) After a violent storm, tens of thousands of star-fish were washed up on to a beach, beyond the reach of the normal tide level. Once the sun began to rise, the star-fish were at serious risk of dying. A local man observing the devastation noticed a little girl bending over and picking up starfish one at a time and throwing them into the sea. He approached the girl and said “I know you mean well, but you do realize you are not really going to make any difference. There are tens of thousands of star-fish stranded.” The girl little girl looked at him. She thought about his words for a moment. She then bent down and picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea. She said to the man, “I just made a difference to that one.”
4. What was your hardest challenge to overcome?
I have had some challenges to deal with, I had eighteen months of illness around eleven / twelve years ago. I had four surgical operations and had a very unpleasant time with postoperative infections. My immune system seemed to be completely thrashed for some time and I had so little energy. What I found tough was that it seemed as if I would never be able to achieve my long-term goal of qualifying to be ajn international volunteer. But amazingly, I did!
Being the victim of slander and trolling for two years was hard. I found myself facing despair after the accumulative effect of all that nastiness. My self-esteem had crumbled. I was anxious whenever I left my home. But I was not comfortable within my home either.
Of course that led me to make a foolish decision. I was on my own late at night in a park in London (because I felt I couldn’t face going home) when I was the victim of a serious crime. A security guard found me unconscious the next morning. I was hidden in bushes and badly beaten up. When I woke up I was in an ambulance speeding to a nearby hospital. I was told that it is possible my attacker left me thinking I was dead. So…yes, that was a challenge.
After I was attacked, I had access to counselling services. I asked them to stop coming after a few weeks because they were causing me stress. But one thing I remember they all agreed on was that I was struggling more with the “bullying” (that’s what they described it as) that had gone on for at least two years, than I was with what had happened to me that night in the park. They were right about that.
The crime I was victim of, I dealt with fairly quickly, I put it in a box, with a lid on and locked that box. I put it right on the tallest shelf where it was hard to retrieve. I only take that box down occasionally when I seem to need to. But the accumulative effect of all the unkind comments made about me caused me to crumble within. That has taken a lot longer to recover from.
Jack has made a huge difference though. My heart is feeling stronger than ever right now. It’s wonderful to have peace restored. Peace can aid healing so much.
5. Why do you feel the church is silent on dealing with real life issues like addiction and sex?
“The church”…I am not sure whether this is referring to one particular denomination or is it all of the 45,000+ denominations that make up “Christendom”?
I don’t feel I need to make comment on any denomination that claims to be Christian but does not seem to following the scriptures. They speak for themselves.
I have been impressed by the way some services I have attended were conducted. Those involved in what felt like a teaching environment, used the scriptures so effectively to reach the heart. I have sat there, interested in the information presented and feeling touched by what I was hearing and seeing in the scriptures. I have attended some services when I have been invited, and also I have read a lot of helpful aids to understand more about the scriptures. I admire and respect those who seem refreshingly clear headed and are humble in the way they discuss the scriptures, using them in a positive upbuilding way.
I am cautious though I will admit. I am wary of those that get heated up and don’t seem to be sound of mind. There seems a lot who seem rather more concerned with their own self-righteousness and their own salvation, rather that the sanctification of our Creator’s name. There are some who claim to be Christian, but seem to be ignoring Christ’s commands. I know how I feel about that. But what does the Christ think of it?
I see reports of “Christians” enjoying a luxury lifestyle, immersed in politics, blessing military equipment, involved in practices that are blatantly contrary to the scriptures, and teaching concepts and doctrines that are completely unscriptural.
How can those who practice a form of Christianity that is so far away from Christ’s teachings and conduct have freeness of speech? What generally will happen, is that when they start to pontificate – others will call them out as hypocrites.
Whereas, if a group of Christians consistently apply God’s Word to all of their teachings and all areas of life (rather than the “pick & mix” approach), well, they do not shy away from difficult issues. They know that Bible principles govern all areas of life and the fruitage of their faith is tangible.
I remember someone from Liverpool saying to me – when it comes to religion – it’s a bit like Cadbury’s Fruit And Nut. You’ll either find those who are displaying the fruitage of the spirit (love, joy, peace etc) or you’ll come across religious nutters, who are kind of scary. And well…yeah, that’s exactly what I have found. The nutters might be shaking the Bible in their hands and they might be praising and blessing, praying and preaching, but they prove that they do not know God. You can tell by their rotten fruit. Their behaviour and often their teachings are not in harmony with Christ, nor God’s Word.
Not everyone saying to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the Kingdom of the heavens, but only the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will. Many will say to me in that day: ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and expel demons in your name, and perform many powerful works in your name?’ And then I will declare to them: ‘I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness!’ – MATTHEW 7:21-23
That reminds me of an interview I saw when I was a little girl on television. Maybe I will save that memory for another post.
6. What is your personal opinion as to why it seems more and more little ones are being shot, beaten, kidnapped or worse?
Who is ruling this world at the moment? The same person who influenced Adam and Eve.
“…the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” – 1 JOHN 5:19
That is not a political question. No matter what anyone thinks of the current prime ministers, presidents, chancellors, emperors or those who hold other forms of rule…behind the scenes, somebody else is influencing mankind today.
His wicked personality is reflected in the atrocities we hear of and witness. Even the entertainment industry is saturated with a blatant disregard for life. Violent entertainment featuring heinous crimes is in no shortage.
7. Why would any parent, no matter what the hell is going on in their lives, want to take the lives of their kids?
We live in distressing times. Many people are extremely stressed. Debt, addictions, loss of jobs, homes, loved ones. Social isolation. Many wander in confusion and despair. Many are plagued by anguish and grief. Some are riddled with guilt. Many see no way out of their problems. They may feel they have lost everything. They do not have a hope.
For a person to feel so desperate that they would want to take their own life, they must have experienced either a chronic accumulation of stress / burn-out or else a more acute crushing blow. Despair does describe that awful crushing overwhelming feeling that all hope is lost, and there is only more pain ahead.
It is desperately, desperately, sad to think of people being in that state. But these are stressful times, and some can experience harshness from others on top of loss after loss. They may have pushed themselves physically and emotionally for a long time before the snap. It makes me want to weep just thinking of how a human can be driven to that point (and make no mistake – the ruler of this world will be laughing).
The second part of your question…well, it’s unimaginable to the vast majority of us. We find it horrific. The immense stress that some have been under due to any of the reasons I mentioned above…and more. People have done things we may find hard to comprehend when they are under that crushing level of despair.
8. What is you favourite post/posts you have written? Share links please 😊
My very favourite is the poem I wrote twenty years ago. It is called River. Yeah…it is special to me.
I have written a lot of personal posts, and all of them are part of my heart. I love writing about my family and the amazing friends who have influenced me. I love writing about Goldfinch and Jack.
It’s been helpful to write about some of the challenges I have had. They are very personal, meaningful posts. However, I prefer for my posts to be cheerful and full of life. Who wants to read about challenges all day? I like there to be a kind of 95% cheery ratio to 5% challenges. It just feels healthier emotionally.
I am really delighted with my long fictional project – my Annabelle Riley series. I responded to a writing prompt from another blogger with what was supposed to be a flash fiction short story. I think it’s ended up with one hundred chapters! I never thought I had it in me. I want to go back over it and edit the mistakes and search for any holes in the plot and time scale etc. It also needs more descriptive passages – scene setting. It’s a project I have already found tremendously satisfying and I am looking forward to polishing it up.
9. I don’t know if this one is possible but what is the most liked post on your blog?
I think it is my poem River. Which is great! That’s the one that is really special to me.
10. Which post is the one most commented on?
Oh…I don’t know. Is there an easy way of finding that out? I would have thought River…or perhaps Introducing Caramel, which is really just a contents page.
11. And finally, who is your top supporter as far as comments? Give them a shout out 😊
How do I know that? There is probably some WordPress feature somewhere.
The thing is…I try not to look at the Statistics section. It doesn’t help me. I am just here to enjoy writing my personal waffle. It’s lovely to interact with other bloggers. But comparing and competing and all that jazz – it doesn’t suit me.
I feel bad about comments to be honest. I schedule my posts to be published when I am nowhere near my laptop. Sometimes I can use my tablet (when I have signal) to approve comments, but I can’t reply to them on my tablet. The problem is, if I approve a comment when I am out and about, but the time I reach home, I may forget all about it. So I try to remember to go back a few days and look out for any comments I have missed.
So rather than trying to find out who comments the most – I will just say this, I am very grateful to all of the WordPress bloggers who have made kind and encouraging comments. I love the international flavour amongst the WordPress blogging community. There are so many lovely bloggers.
Some of the comments are very meaningful and special to me. Those personal thoughtful comments have been the most unexpected and loveliest aspect of blogging.
To me blogging is supposed to be fun…so I don’t want to become analytical about all these statistics – it takes the fun out of WordPress. I want to keep the fun in the party going for as long as possible.
Eleven Questions For My Nominees
- DO YOU HAVE ANY FAVOURITE HERBS AND SPICES?
- DO YOU WATCH WILDLIFE / NATURE DOCUMENTARIES?
- DO YOU HAVE A GARDEN? WHAT IS IT LIKE?
- DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE MUSEUM OR ART GALLERY?
- HAVE YOU SEEN MUCH LIVE THEATRE? WHICH PLAYS / SHOWS HAVE YOU SEEN?
- DO YOU EVER HAVE ANY DIFFICULTY SLEEPING? IF SO, WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU CAN’T SLEEP?
- IF YOU WERE GOING TO COOK / EAT PANCAKES WHAT WOULD YOU SERVE THEM WITH?
- ARE THERE ANY NEW SKILLS YOU WOULD LIKE TO LEARN?
- HAVE YOU EVER HAD A LONG DISTANCE RELATIONSHIP?
- DO YOU CHECK THE WEATHER REPORT REGULARLY? OR DO YOU JUST WAKE UP, GET DRESSED AND HEAD OUTSIDE WITHOUT KNOWING WHAT TO EXPECT OF THE WEATHER?
- WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE SUMMERTIME ACTIVITY?
My Eleven Nominees