Thursday, 21 April 2016

24hrs with two Best-Friend's living 3,000 miles apart

24 hours with... Fran Houston and Martin ("call me Marty") Baker
Date: April 5, 2016

Why have you chosen to write about today?
Marty: My bestie Fran and I thought it would be fun to answer our questions on the same day. We chose this date on the basis we would each have time to do so. Fran and I live 3,000 miles apart - me in Newcastle in the northeast of England and Fran in Portland, Maine. We have been friends for almost five years. She lives with bipolar disorder, chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, and I am her main support and caregiver. 
Fran: Not too busy. Not too sick.



Good morning!
What time did you wake up?
Fran: 6.15am
Marty: 7:30am

Why did you wake up at that time?
Fran: Bathroom visit
Marty: My alarm went off as usual - but I went back to sleep and didn't wake properly until 8:10am! I leapt up, got washed, dressed and out of the house in a rush (!) on my way to work

Did you have a dream? 
Fran: No, hardly ever do.
Marty: Not that I recall. I very rarely do.

Do you think today will be 'good' or 'bad' day? (use your own definition of these words to answer the question)
Fran: It will be a day, I don't do good or bad.
Marty: I don't think of days as 'good' / 'bad', but thus far (lunchtime as I am writing this) the day has been somewhat stressy at work. I am intending to let go of that stressiness this afternoon so it does not spill into my evening.

What are the first three things you do after waking up?
Fran: Call my best friend Marty. Fire up my heating pad. Meditate
Marty: Cancel the alarm. Check Facebook/Messenger. Get out of bed.

Do you eat breakfast? If yes, what did you have?
Fran: Medication. Coffee. Apple
Marty: Nothing to eat or drink before I leave the house. On a weekday I make a pot of instant porridge when I get into the office. And a mug of filter coffee.

What would be your perfect breakfast?
Fran: Two eggs over easy on an English muffin is my favorite. My dad used to make that for me and I always warmly think of him.
Marty: My perfect start to the day is on a Saturday when I normally go into town (Newcastle) and have breakfast at Café Nero at Haymarket (the old Post Office building). There, I will have a goats cheese and roasted red pepper ciabatta. Large black Americano coffee. Another fave, but only occasionally if my wife and I have a hire car, is full cooked veggie breakfast at the Hartside Café (highest in England) on the way to Alston.

Is there anything that you have to do today but don't particularly want to?
Fran: I decided not to go to my senior fitness class. I had a fall last week, my energy is too low and my pain is too high. It's not that I don't want to. I enjoy the camaraderie with my friends there.
Marty: Too easy to say "go to work!" I am okay with that, to be honest. Nothing on the cards today that I would rather not be doing.

List five things that you do between 9am and noon.
Fran: Answer these questions. Read/edit the epilogue for the book Marty and I have written. Peruse Facebook. Prepare for a visit from my case manager. Receive Meals on Wheels. Rest
Marty: Message Fran good morning. Message good morning and meds check with another close friend. Journey to work (two Metro train, plus 20 minute walk). Make coffee as soon as I arrive in the office! Check my to-do list for the day.

Did you eat lunch? If yes, what did you eat?
Fran: Chicken carrots zucchini rice (Meals on Wheels meal)
Marty: Today it was mushroom and pasta salad.

What would be your perfect lunch?
Fran: Whatever Meals on Wheels serves up. They taste better and are more balanced than anything I could come up with. Cooking isn't easy for me.
Marty: Greek salad with loads of olives!

List five things that you have done, said, thought, or that have happened between noon and 5pm.
Fran: Massage. Call with Marty 2-3pm. Make macaroni and cheese casserole. Visit with my case manager 3.30-5.30. Thinking of yet another upset and struggle with a friend revolving around my being sick. Taking space always seems to be the best remedy. It's so hard to help people understand.
Marty: Started this questionnaire. Social Media (mostly Facebook and Twitter) - reached 2,000 followers on Twitter today! Messaged a friend I've not been in touch with in ages who is going through a rough time. Got a ride home from a colleague. Helped Fran compile some notes ahead of her meeting today with her care coordinator.

Do you eat dinner/tea? If yes, at what time?
Fran: Yes, usually 5.30pm
Marty: Usually between 5:30 - 6pm

What do you eat?
Fran: Usually Meals on Wheels but today macaroni and cheese casserole.
Marty: My wife Pam is the cook during the week so whatever she has prepared! It will be great, whatever it is!

What would be your perfect dinner?
Fran: I love hamburgers
Marty: Veggie roast dinner

What do you do with your evening (5-8pm)?
Fran: 6-8pm - Skype call with Marty. 8-9pm Netflix
Marty: 4:30-5:30 - Travelling home from the office. 5:30-6 - Dinner. 6-7 - It varies - maybe a trip to the store for treats, or chill at home with the Simpsons and Hollyoaks. 7-8 -  Skype call with Fran

Do you have a 'get-ready-for-bed' routine? If so, what is it?
Fran: No, but hopefully I stay out of the kitchen.
Marty: Not really. Most evenings I am on Skype from 11pm until 1am, then brush my teeth and change for bed. I try not to let 'make two rounds of cheese sandwiches and eat for supper at one o'clock in the morning' slip into that routine.

What time do you go to sleep?
Fran: 9 or 10pm
Marty: When my head hits the pillow.

Is this when you want to go to bed? Or is it influenced by what you're doing the following day?
Fran: I go to bed when it's time. If I could I'd stay up late. It's not influenced by the next day's events. I suffer insomnia symptoms regularly so staying regular and balanced is critical to me staying minimally crappy.
Marty: I am never influenced by what I am doing the next day. I go to bed when I choose to that night. If I am very tired (rare) or I am not going to be on Skype, I might go to bed earlier (before midnight).

Do you share your bed?
Fran: No, but it is a beautiful bed a friend made me with storage underneath, a canopy above, light sheer panels interlaced with Christmas lights. It is as if I am sleeping under the stars.
Marty: With Pemberton, a cuddly grizzly bear I made decades ago when I lived in London. He was named for a house I shared with fellow students in Pemberton Drive in Bradford when I was at university. He was gifted to a dear friend of mine from those days. My friend died in 2005 and Pemberton returned to me. He had been very well loved, and still is.

Which position do you tend to sleep in? e.g. foetus, starfish etc.
Fran: On my belly, knee up, one arm above, the other close to my breath.
Marty: Lying on my right side.

Reflect
What was your favourite part of your day?
Marty: So far, the conversation I had with my boss this morning. She knows I take a 'touch base' call from Fran around midday each day. Today it looked like I would be in a meeting at that time but my boss said my call with Fran was more important. In the end, the meeting had ended in time, but my boss' consideration meant a great deal to me, and to Fran when I told her.

What was your least favourite?
Fran: I prefer staying in the moment and being ok in that moment rather than judging favorites. That helps me not be attached to either rejecting or clinging onto anything in particular. This is an especially helpful attitude when living with chronic illness.
Marty: Work was hectic  this morning, with issues relating to several different systems my team supports. But we all pulled together to get the issues resolved, so it was a pretty positive outcome.

Did anything happen today that you'd like to change or re-do?
Fran: I practice cultivating acceptance rather than evaluating.
Marty: I never think that way. I don't really 'get' the idea of regret or wanting to change what happened.

Did you 'learn' anything today? (use your own definition of this word to answer the question)
Fran: Nothing new really. I enjoyed answering your questions. I enjoy my life to the best of my ability. Being authentic to truly being who I am has been my greatest revelation. So much of my life I have spent hiding.
Marty: I learned that connection matters - like reaching out to a friend you haven't been in touch with in a while, or paying attention to someone when they are sharing what is going on in their life.

Are you looking forward to tomorrow?
Marty: Yes!

What do you have planned? 
Fran: A quiet day of rest. I will spend some time doing homework for Brene Brown's Living Brave class and perusing photos from my recent New York City adventure. And make an acupuncture appointment.
Marty: Fran and I are putting the final touches to our book manuscript before submitting to the publishers. It is a very exciting - and scary- time!

Thank you for contributing to the series!
Goodnight! 

Links
Website/blog: www.gumonmyshoe.com
Twitter: twitter.com/GumOnMyShoeBook