The Sands Of Inspiration

This was the sight that greeted me the other night, and what a beautiful sight it was too. As dusk fell the sky turned a fiery orange. A final moment of glory, blazing into blackness.

And of course, I had to get a photograph of it, although I’m sure you guys would have believed me without one.

It was reported that some Britons were puzzled by a yellow sky, some by a red sky, while where I was it was definitely an orange sky. But whatever tint you got, it turned out that the cause was a Saharan dust cloud that had made its way over here. Crossing borders with neither a visa or a passport.

This just goes to show how things happening elsewhere can have an affect on us here (wherever the ‘us here’ is, as the application is universal for you, dear reader, too).

The butterfly affect, six degrees of separation and all that. Nothing happens in a vacuum, there’s always a knock on effect.

The alarming conflict going on in Eastern Europe further illustrates this, as the ramifications spread across the globe like an unsettling web that we are all getting caught up in.

But it doesn’t have to be just negative things.

A fellow blogger (and honorary Manc) living over the Pond produced the latest of her musical ventures there which also had an affect right here.

This was her CD that recently arrived, and early one morning this corner of Northern England became transformed into the desert setting of New Mexico, the setting which, along with a family of rescue goats, inspired the music to be found on here. Something born there found new life here.

From New Mexico to Manchester.

I never checked, but maybe while I was sat inside listening to Laura’s music the sky outside was orange again.

*Laura’s blog can be found here:

https://laurabrunolilly.com/blog/

It’s As Good A Time As Any

1.00am is time for bed.

What do I hope to accomplish, anyway? Flicking through blogs I’ve never visited before, while the tail end of winter is rattling the windows.

I’ve been on farms in Nebraska and Kansas, strained my neck at the hills of Dakota, skirted the borders of a ranch in Texas. A voyeur into the admitting lives of strangers in places I’ve only ever read about.

Closer to home, I can see the lights of those of my neighbours who have yet to succumb to sleep. Are they in those houses, I wonder, behind those windows? Or are they similarly in far-flung corners of the world, reading the thoughts of others, both alien and kin?

A Collaborative Poem For 22/05/18

For all the children who will not know Laura Bruno Lilly, Andrew James Murray ~ 5/22/2017 ~ For all the children who will not know the warmth of sunshine upon their cheeks; the cold of dug snow-forts and candy-land castles. For all the children who will not know the slurpy free love of an old…

via For all the children who will not know – collaborative poem — Laura Bruno Lilly

Introducing High Tide, Low Tide

It is my pleasure to share with you guys a very worthy book, written by two of my Nordland Publishing stablemates Martin Baker and Fran Houston.

bio-photo-martin-baker bio-photo-fran-houston

Their book is called High Tide, Low Tide: The Caring Friend’s Guide to Bipolar Disorder

high_tide_low_tide_cover

 

Although living on different sides of the pond, their story illustrates how, in this modern age of technology, distance need not be a barrier in forging supportive, positive friendships. But it is much more than that, so I will leave Martin to introduce you to their book in his own words. Links follow below.

High Tide, Low Tide: The Caring Friend’s Guide to Bipolar Disorder

By Martin Baker

“We live three thousand miles apart and I would not be alive without you. Wherever I go, there you are. However I am, you accept or gently challenge. Whatever I do, you cheer me on. You are the best friend I could ever have.” (Fran Houston)

You never forget the moment your friend tells you they would not be alive without your support. More than 450 million people worldwide have mental health problems. With one in five adults experiencing mental illness in any year, and ten million adults affected by bipolar disorder in America alone, that could include you or someone you care about.

Celebrity-led campaigns such as Bring Change 2 Mind and Time to Change have raised public awareness, but there is little guidance on how to be a good friend when your friend is mentally ill. Memoirs shed light on what it is like to live with mental illness but are of limited practical relevance. Workbooks describe symptoms and treatments but tend to be generic, lack detailed examples, and are usually aimed at the person living with the illness. “Friends and families” titles are almost exclusively written for partners. Crucially, given that friends often live far from one another, there is nothing that describes how to support someone at a distance.

Fran and I are best friends living on opposite sides of the Atlantic: me in the north-east of England, Fran on the east coast of America. Fran has bipolar disorder, also chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME) and fibromyalgia. Despite living three thousand miles apart, I am Fran’s primary caregiver and life-line. Since 2011, I have supported her through mania, depression, chronic pain and debilitating fatigue, with her suicidal thinking our almost constant companion.

In High Tide, Low Tide: The Caring Friend’s Guide to Bipolar Disorder, we share what we’ve learned about growing a close, mutually supportive friendship between a “well one” and an “ill one.” Writing from the caring friend’s point of view, we offer original approaches and practical tips illustrated with our own genuine conversations and examples.  Uniquely, we show how technology and the internet mean no one is too far away to be cared for, or to care. As Fran says in the epilogue:

Friends like Marty who are willing to be with me in the darkness are the ones who give me light. Yes there are medications. Yes there is therapy. Yes there is personal responsibility. But caring friendship is the best medicine of all. Then life begins to have purpose.

With a foreword by Rachel Kelly, best-selling author, mental health campaigner, and Ambassador for SANE and Rethink Mental Illness, our book focuses on being there. Discover how to build a relationship strong and flexible enough to handle mania, depression, and suicidal thinking. Explore what illness means. Learn strategies for wellness and how best to support your friend and take care of yourself, whether you live on the same street or oceans apart.

Links

Published by Nordland Publishing, High Tide, Low Tide: The Caring Friend’s Guide to Bipolar Disorder is available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and at selected booksellers.

About the Authors

A highly successful electrical engineer until illness struck, Fran Houston has lived with bipolar disorder, chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia for over twenty years. Her first book, For the Love of Peaks: Island Portraits and Stories, was published in 2010. Fran lives in Portland, Maine. Three thousand miles away in the north-east of England, Martin Baker works in the Information Technology Services industry. He is an ASIST trained Mental Health First Aider; a member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Stigma Fighters, Mind and BipolarUK; and Fran’s primary support and life-line. His Collected Poems: 1977–1984 was published in 2008.

 

Sept 11th:Tragedy; Love Story; Poem

Recently was the fifteen-year anniversary of the September eleventh attacks. For my generation, this was our JFK moment, where everybody remembers where they were when they first heard, or saw, the terrorist atrocity taking place.

At the time I was a postman here in Manchester, and had just caught up on my sleep with a couple of hours in the afternoon. I saw it all unfold, disbelievingly, as I was getting ready to pick my daughter up from school.
On the mantelpiece was a postcard, having arrived that day, from a woman who I had known for many years. We’d first met in infant school, and became best friends in high school, that close friendship continuing long into my adult life. The postcard was from New York, and among the scribbled lines was a throwaway comment that she was intending to go up one of those towers that I’d just seen erupting into flames.

After a few frantic calls, (in the days before we both had mobiles), I discovered that her mother had heard from her: she was safe in L.A. She had been about to travel to San Francisco until all of the planes had been grounded, stranding her there.

This was the first shaking of my complacency about our long relationship.

Today we are married, with children. I’ve seen the photographs she took from the top of one of those towers just a couple of days before it collapsed, unable to fathom the sheer desperation that could force people to jump from such a height.

I wrote a poem not long after that tragic day, a long one called American Trilogy. It wasn’t about 9/11 per se, but it did feature. How could it not.

 The poem didn’t make into my book. Perhaps one day I will publish it in its entirety.

Here I post the closing lines, referring to that day and the idea that my lifelong friend was over there. Somewhere.
I received word across

Atlantic squalls

that your wings

were torn upon the besieged

coast,

your eyes reaping shelter

from a holocaust

of lenses.


A pre-emptive strike

at my complacency,
praying for an eye in the storm.


And you, snug in a motherland 

of flag-waving lambs


where everyone wants to be quarterback,

everyone wants to be General,

everyone wants to lay the homecoming queen.


Icons in an American dream.


©Andrew James Murray