What an honour, be inspired all over again everyone.
I Give Myself Permission
Ain’t waiting no more for no one
Life is short & sweet & sour
How would I even know if I don’t live
the now is here and no point worrying
the future is a streak and yet mayn’t be
Hence I give myself permission…
Wouldn’t wait to know it all
Even science can’t keep it up
We all are an individual value
Should I let any one make & keep me sour
Joy & happiness is just a short distance
no chaos & creeks should blur my vision
Hence I give myself permission…
All I got are my voice & word
Not taking it personal means to keep it out
All mental space I have is taken
With thoughts of a rosy here & now
I wouldn’t assume: I’ll just do my best
still it’s okay every now & then to falter
Hence I give myself permission…
P.S: I am eternally grateful for serenity and I see that in all the poems I write these days regardless of the circumstances. This poem oh my is in one of those my special categories, indeed YOU ARE BEST WHEN YOU ARE: YOU
Hello World, I was honoured when my guest post was accepted on the fabulous site Gumonmyshoe. Gum On My Shoe is a creative partnership between best friends Martin Baker & Fran Houston. Their book High Tide, Low Tide: The Caring Friend’s Guide to Bipolar Disorder inspires and informs others who support a friend living with mental illness. I have read that book inside out and done a comprehensive review here…It is simply so soulful what that book has done to me.here…It is simply so soulful what that book has done to me.
Read my story on their site therefore and why not submit your guest post who knows! Am all the more excited about that site because Julie Fast and some other celebs have guest blogged there to lol. I am definitely very grateful to Martin Baker and Fran Houston for hosting me on their site and sharing their incredible friendship with the world through their book
Can’t be for Me
Shouldn’t be for Me
Couldn’t be for Me
Wasn’t I said for Me
Hush I deny
Hush I reject
Hush they lie
Hush it’s hushed
Such a name?
No can’t be mine
How do I face that?
What do I do now?
Who do I do look to?
Like it helps
And all the hurt?
And all the pills?
And all the shame?
And all the stigma?
No am sorry
I can’t face that
I can’t take that
I can’t do that
I wouldn’t do that
P.s: Bear with me tribe, am going through a mild emotional/mental challenge. I was hoping to post something else I was proud of sharing, but I first have to get these ’emotions’ off my chest: glad they come off in through this poem.
I do feel ok now and will be sharing that link tomorrow as is…
To all who can relate, we are together
Do you have a Secret & Sacred weapon?
I mean one so swift & sublime?
Those all make for S & S right?
I have two 4S weapons
Let me let you in
It’s a long time ago
I knew I could cry & curse
I could write away like fury
But I didn’t know any better
What better could I do?
With such a shaky voice?
And an unsteady pen?
Both battered and tattered?
To near beyond recognition?
I was so ashamed
To open my mouth or put to print
I couldn’t even use my limbs
Rhumatroid arthritis dealing blows
All was so lost or so it seemed
The pain pushed me inward
I decided to scream it all out
I picked up a keyboard
I could type that wasn’t lost
It dawned on me I could use those
I learnt and still learn
My 4S weapons came to be
I scribble and sing
I shake and shield
I find and share
Say it as it is
All I can and want
Some solace for me & U
Could you be inspired then my fellow pilgrim?
To look deep within to find yours?
Mustn’t be one to wear you out
Physical fights I can’t do
Mental fights are murky
Emotional fights I’ve had enough
But with my voice and word
Impeccable is the use I give them
Ain’t that Secret & Sacred?
Swift & Sublime?
Good luck with you fellow pilgrim
Hello world, call it review fever if you please: but, this girl here reads books like you’d drink milk lol; and she likes to share her thoughts on those books when they get to her soul. For me to start a new week with a book review speaks for itself – that is if the title of the book doesn’t do it enough justice.
Let me just dash in, this because on a Monday morning we all want to get it started and off to the maximum we can before the ‘blues’ set in right? I mean this is one of the many powerful things I learnt in this book (I never knew I could fall in love with a self help book), you can zap from ‘freaking out to freaking amazing’ with determination and dedication. You may need help but it is possible. You will need to be authentic and confident always, and know today if you never did or were not sure of it, that your vulnerability is a strength and not a weakness. Come on now give me more vulnerable situations…anytime anywhere…exploit them and let them catapult you to speak up, stand out and shine… I mean why settle for victim and throw all those endless pity parties while people around you who may have even gone through worst are now making a healthy and wealthy living sharing their stories?
Now, have you heard of power dance? Regina introduces this in her book. Give it a try, musn’t be an entire song and that can be anywhere anytime. And when you are one of those I used to be…you know the one who will shake and panic and worry about all what will, would, could go wrong right up to outright freezing on the podium, be it because you forgot your message or one ‘vampire’ in the audience shot you that ‘stare’; you will witness a radical and permanent transformation after reading this book.
All in all, this book is not only for those starting out into their speaking journies whichever category, but also for those of us some where in between. I give this book a 5 star because I honestly feel Regina wrote way too much to get anyone even in elementary school to be able to speak up, stand out and shine.
About Regina Huber
Regina Huber, is the Founder & CEO of Transform Your Performance http://www.transformyourperformance.com
Drawing from my extensive corporate experience in six countries, I have developed a top Transformational Leadership Practice for Business Women, and I am now known as a Power Shifter and Career Accelerator, Diversity & Co-Creation Advocate, Speaker with a Passion for Dance, and Author of Speak up, Stand out and Shine – Speak Powerfully in Any Situation, as seen in this Huffington Post article:
With her signature system, Powerful Leadership Transformation (PLT), she works with companies to transform top female performers into top leaders so they can make a bigger impact and generate more business for companies, clients, and themselves. With her guidance, organizations can unlock the strengths of the talent they already have, to cut down on turnover costs. Regina focuses on driving fast results for her coaching clients by emphasizing an empowering mindset and a compelling, confident presence, enabling them to accelerate their careers, while making an outstanding contribution to their organizations.
She speak five languages and has over 18 years of international experience in the corporate business world, including management positions at The Boston Consulting Group in the U.S., Europe, and Latin America, where my primary focus was on HR; career & performance management; training & talent development; operations & budgeting; and office build-outs. At BCG, she also had a leading role in opening two new offices in Portugal and Brazil, as well as several international projects throughout Europe and Latin America. As an entrepreneur, She has owned two businesses in Argentina and Brazil, and has translated 12 books on dance, culture, politics and science. Her eclectic background allowed her to develop a special skill set that flows into herunique transformational approach.
She is a Certified Leadership Ambassador by Take The Lead Women and serve as Co-Chair of the NYC Financial Women’s Association’s (FWA) Distinguished Speakers Committee. It is her honor to be a trusted advisor of UN Global Champion for Women’s Empowerment in Entrepreneurship Alysia Silberg’s Fireside Chat and Pitch Camp communities for global entrepreneurs, and a leading member of Alysia’s Global Women Game Changers group. Studying Judith Glaser’s “C-IQ for Coaches” Program (Creating WE Institute) has allowed her to enhance her current focus on co-creation and to coach team leaders to navigate successfully through conversation. She am also a Premier member of Women Speakers Association (WSA) and a member of West Coast Speakers Coalition.
P.S: Ok world, I stop at that, Ms Huber’s profile is clearly longer than my review of her book and am jealous. I have already audited with her you know, and I will be signing up to be coached by her once a fortune cookie is left by my office …
In May 2014, I tallied:
I mean when I started blogging in November 2013, I didn’t have a clue about how I was going to survive this exhilirating enterprise. I know 500 followers is obtained by some in 5 days, but to me this is huge and worth celebrating. Honestly, I am grateful many are not active followers in the sense that they don’t leave comments I will have to respond to. I equally do not blog about fasion, rumour mill or even what’s happening in Americana for all there is to write about.
And this is why, when a wanna be ‘celebrity’ like myself from Cameroon in Africa, starts to blog about serious stuff including ‘washing her dirty linen in public’, and she gets 500 followers, trust me thank you ain’t sufficient.
I am celebrating with some ice cream this afternoon because this to me is an achievement.
I wish I could name all my very special blogging pals (my faithful e-family) aw tribe you know yourselves. Your friendship and blogs and all we share and learn from each others fills me with so much inspiration and motivation – I keep striving to Be the Best I can BE!
Wishing us all an excellent weekend
Unconditional Friendship tested in dire times of need and deed
This memoir is like none I have ever read before in the sense that it literally took me through high tides and low tides before I found a balance again. I am not the first reviewer of this book to say it is not a read for the faint of heart. The authors when I interviewed them told me it was merely their intention to share their complex friendship between one ‘well’ person and one ‘unwell’ person, made all the more intriguing by the over 3000 miles seperating them. Indeed, they have physically met only once and yet, Martin Baker (the well friend), is from every indication Fran Houston’s (the unwell friend) main carer. How wouldn’t he be when we know (and I know from personal experience) how easy it is to lose relationships with both friends and family when you live with a mental illness.
This memoir will challenge you and your beliefs especially about mental illness, inform you, soothe you and yes challenge you again to be and do better, be you well or unwell. One thing I find interesting is how the friendship is not only so open, but how both friends are candidly so honest with each other. They have some mantras I am already copying and loving such as Care but not Control; Give me what I need and not what you think I need; and many more al so soul searching. It is simply awesome to read all this. The way they virtually go on trips, navigate their days and engagements and plan joint projects like writing this book together you know.
Talking about style; the way this book is written makes it a very comfy read once you make peace with the soul search, because hardly any technical jargons are used. The book shows some indepth research, one which Martin also admits to carry out to learn how to better take care of his best friend. Indeed, Martin admits to have read far and wide, joined some associations and talked with lots of people both on and offline. Their book may be a guide no doubt but a very soulful and invaluable one. Fran Houston could have a Bipolar Disorder Diagnosis but she is every other friend too. Unconditional Friendship tested both in times of need and deed could not have been better demonstrated. I can’t but give this book a raving 5 star while recommending same without the least reservation to others be you well or unwell.
P.S: Kindly Check out some previous posts about this memoir and its impact on me below
Ok World, here we go with P2 while you could read P1 if you missed that
3) The Writing
Did any books/memoirs influence your writing (style, presentation, content)? If yes, why?
Many books and writers inspired us! Although not a direct influence, the book most relevant to ours is Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder, by Julie A. Fast and John D. Preston. The Stigma Fighters Anthology, edited by Sarah Fader, inspired and challenged us to keep things honest in our writing.
Did you have a writing mentor?
Not as such, but we had superb support throughout the writing process from many people. Without their help and guidance our book would not be what it is: indeed, it might never have been completed at all. Some people reviewed early drafts, others edited chapters, or suggested approaches to take with agents and publishers. It is hard to single out individuals (we recognise many in our Acknowledgements page) but we are especially grateful to Julie A. Fast and Rachel Kelly, who contributed so much, and gave generously of their time and expertise.
Which was the most difficult chapter to write in your book and why?
The most challenging to write was chapter 2, “The Illness Experience: Understanding Your Friend’s Diagnosis and Symptoms.” I’d imagined it would be pretty straightforward to describe the illnesses Fran has to deal with (bipolar disorder, chronic fatigue syndrome, and fibromyalgia). In fact, it involved a lot of research and editing to describe these complex conditions succinctly but accurately, and in a way relevant to our readers.
Which if any was your favourite chapter to write and why?
Our favourite is chapter 7, “The ‘S’ Word: Being There When Your Friend Is Suicidal.” That might seem an odd choice, but it’s a topic we feel passionate about and wanted to cover as honestly and thoroughly as possible. We hope we have contributed to a wider conversation about suicide and suicidal thinking.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and if yes, what was it?
Martin: I learned that writing a book and getting it published is hard work! Joking aside, our four year journey taught me a great deal on many different levels. I learned how to plan, write, and edit a book, and how to query literary agents and publishers. I took courses including Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) and Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST). I read widely, focusing on personal accounts of mental illness. I also learned to listen. To Fran, yes, but also to other people. Meditation, NVC (Non-Violent Communication) and other techniques helped with that. I gained hugely in confidence. I learned I had a voice, and something worth speaking out about.
Fran: Absolutely! Writing this book I really opened myself up from a vulnerability standpoint, to share everything with the world. That was really scary but there was also a freedom that I gained from doing that. It also helps us in a practical way. Just the other day when I was in depression, Marty read to me from our chapter on depression and it helped remind me what we can do to shift out of it.
How long did it take you to write and get the book published and why?
High Tide, Low Tide was published almost exactly four years after Fran first suggested the idea to me. That included planning, drafting, writing, researching, editing (and re-editing and re-editing!) the manuscript itself. It also included writing a full book proposal (which took far longer than I imagined it would), as well as querying literary agents and publishers. The later chapters draw heavily on our personal correspondence. It took a lot of time and effort to locate, organise and select from the many thousands of lines of our Skype, Facebook and text (SMS) messages, as well as letters, emails, and my personal journal. By the time we found our publisher (Nordland Publishing) our book was completely written and edited. Things moved ahead swiftly from there: High Tide, Low Tide was published within three months.
4) The Message
Do you have any advice for other writers especially on challenging subjects like mental health?
My main advice is to keep it real. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to include everything but it does mean being honest about what you put in there. Can readers tell the difference? I think so. We are very open about how things are for us, both individually and as friends. We cover some challenging subjects including stigma, discrimination, rejection, mania, depression and suicidal thinking. We include transcripts of many of our conversations, so people can see first-hand how our friendship works under these kinds of challenge. We also include times when things didn’t go so well. That’s important because it would be wrong to give the impression I always know what to do, or handle things perfectly. We get things wrong all the time! Real life is messy. How you handle the messy bits and get back on track is what matters most.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Fran expressed it really well at the end of our book, highlighting the difference we can make if we are there for those we care about:
“There are many like me who live in invisible institutions of stigma, shame, and silence, the walls built by others from without, or by ourselves from within. Dismantling these walls invites connection. Be the gum on someone’s shoe who has one foot inside and one foot outside. Stick around. It may not be easy but you can help someone make a life worth living. Maybe even save a life. One little bit by one little bit. A smile, a wink, a hello, a listening ear, a helping hand, a friendship all work together to interrupt the grasp of illness. Be open and honest, with your friend and others you meet. Judge not, for misunderstandings abound. Acceptance, understanding, and kindness can pave another way. Let’s.”
One reader wrote to us and said, “Your journey as friends reminds us that mental illness doesn’t change what friendship is all about: being there for those we love.” That’s a great answer too!
Any other writing projects, blogging etc?
We blog regularly at www.gumonmyshoe.com and elsewhere, including The Good Men Project, The Mighty, Time to Change, Men Tell Health, I’m NOT Disordered, and Julie A. Fast’s blog at bipolarhappens.com. Fran has written for the Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram. An open letter to her psychiatrist was published in The Maine Review. We love having guests on our blog, so if you’d like to write for us, check out our guidelines (www.gumonmyshoe.com/p/contact.html) and drop us a line!
Where can your book be found?
High Tide, Low Tide: The Caring Friend’s Guide to Bipolar Disorder is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and a wide range of other retailers. You can find further details and links on our website (www.gumonmyshoe.com/p/book.html).
Thank you very much Martin and Fran for answering my questions. I must admit your answers will genuinely help me write a comprehensive review of your epic book.
Hello World, I love doing interviews with authors who have written on mental health, especially about their personal experiences living with any mental challenges or supporting someone living with them. It is with such profound feelings that I interview co-authors Martin Baker and Fran Houston. Their book High Tide, Low Tide: The Caring Friend’s Guide to Bipolar Disorder is probably to my soul like none other I have read before in this genre. I will be doing a review of their book in the following days but I wanted the authors to enlighten me and hopefully you my readers and followers some more.
1) The Profile
Let’s start with a brief introduction of yourself, your background, and a tiny bit about your childhood:
I will go first (Martin). I was born in Liverpool in the north-west of England, where I lived until the age of eighteen. I graduated in Pharmacy from the University of Bradford in 1983 and spent the next three years doing postgraduate research at The Parkinson’s Disease Research Centre at King’s College London, before moving to Newcastle upon Tyne in 1987. I’ve lived here ever since. I had very little experience of mental illness until I met Fran online in May 2011. Despite us living three thousand miles apart, I am Fran’s main support and caregiver. Our transatlantic friendship has taught me a lot about living with illness, but more importantly about what it means to be a good friend.
Fran: Me next! I graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in 1991, and worked as a successful electrical engineer until I was overtaken by illness. I was diagnosed with major depression in 1994 and with bipolar disorder in 2003. I also have chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. I used to live on Peaks Island in Maine. Inspired by the island’s rich history, I interviewed and photographed long-time residents. The photos and interviews were exhibited locally and also published as For the Love of Peaks: Island Portraits and Stories, a Collection. This led to me appearing on Maine Public Broadcasting Network and National Public Radio to talk about my book and the challenges of living with illness. I was also a columnist with the Island Times. I was still living on Peaks Island when Marty and I met. I moved to Portland, Maine, in 1993. I love Portland and my many friends who love me dearly. I live with a beta fish named Jewells who often makes me laugh and gives me a reason for living.
2) The Soul Journey
Martin, why? I mean, I have heard of a sibling who tried to help and even gave up, but I have never read of a friend of someone living with bipolar disorder.
That is really why we wrote our book, because there is nothing else out there specifically for friends. Each chapter starts with a question. The final chapter asks exactly what you just asked: “Why do you do it?” There isn’t one single answer. Our friendship enriches my life as much as it enriches Fran’s. I have gained so much in the time we have been friends. I believe I am a better person because of it. Ultimately, Fran is my best friend, and that’s what best friends do—they look out for each other.
Fran, did you feel guilty at any point for your mental health and the impact it was having on your friendship? If yes what did you think or do, if no please explain for us.
This is a great question, Marie! I do wonder how Marty is doing when I’m not well but I never feel guilty about it with him. Not in my mania or in my depression. I have felt guilty about it with some others. Safety and guilt go together for me. I feel safe with Marty, that’s why I don’t feel guilty. With other people, I profusely apologized for myself and my behavior when I was manic, but I also expected them to be responsible for their behavior.
Martin, can you tell us how your wife and son appreciate your having a friend like Fran, who could need you at any hour?
My family has been incredibly supportive, both of my friendship with Fran and the book we have brought out together. My wife contributed a piece to the book, and it is through my son that Fran and I found a publisher! More generally, they are very supportive of the help I am able to give to Fran and others, and the other work I do these days in the mental health arena, such as online work and volunteering with the UK anti-stigma charity Time to Change.
Do you two think the distance is helping your friendship stay alive or killing it slowly?
In some ways living 3,000 miles apart limits our friendship. Fran can’t invite me round for a meal, say, or meet me in town for a coffee. I can’t help her with chores, fetch groceries, or give her a ride to appointments like I would if we lived in the same city. On the other hand, we get to share a great deal just as easily as if we lived close together. Social media and instant messaging mean we are never really out of touch. We meet on webcam almost every day. We talk (a lot!), watch movies and read books together. In some ways it enhances our relationship. As long as there’s an internet signal we can connect, no matter what time of day it is, where we might be (at home, out about town, on vacation etc.) or what we might be doing.
Do you have any candid advice to friends of people with a bipolar disorder diagnosis? I will appreciate advice from each of you.
Martin: The key advice I’d offer is to keep the channels of communication open. For us that means daily chat conversations and Skype calls. That might be too much for some people, but however you “do the talking thing,” be someone your friend knows will be there for them no matter what happens. (And yes, that might include taking a phone call or responding to a message in the middle of the night.) Be someone your friend can trust not to turn away when things get rough. How do you do that? We sum it up as “Be who you are. Do what you can. Embrace the journey.” Don’t try and be someone you are not. You don’t have to do everything. Find your role in your friend’s support team and make it yours. There will be some bad times for sure, but also lots of good times. Share it all.
Fran: Three things come to mind. Commit yourself to your own self-care, keep healthy boundaries, and have understanding and empathy. Self-care means remembering to take care of your needs as well as your friend’s. Like taking some time off if you need it, or having someone to talk to or support you when things are hard. Keeping healthy boundaries is linked with self-care. What happens sometimes is friends get all enmeshed with the bipolar person. Someone manic can be interesting and exciting, but it can be toxic if you are not careful. Healthy boundaries means being aware of what is going on and not doing things you don’t want to do just to keep them happy. It’s ok to say no. Don’t go down the drain with your bipolar friend! Understanding and empathy means listening to your friend, to what is happening with them, and not trying to fix things or do everything….
Stop by on Wednesday for Part 2 of this exciting and yet so soulful interview