Month: May 2015

Dealing With Anger For Those With or Without a Mental Illness

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Well, anger is something that I am sure a lot of people deal with.  I would suppose even people who seem happy and nice all the time must have the problem and somehow suppress it.  One thing I know is that I do, and I wanted to share with you, my dear readers, how I have come to deal with it.

Anger comes into my life in many ways.  One of the worst ways it comes on is when I find myself dwelling on the past, replaying old memories in my head and thinking about how I was somehow wronged.  This is a very unhealthy practice, and should be avoided at all costs.  But how can a person stop what their mind is doing?  I have found that the only way to control what thoughts I think is to cultivate a strong mind, by meditating in the way I learned from a Tibetan Monk here in Edmonton.  It is kind of a simple process.  You set up your body in a way that you don’t have to continue to think about what it is doing, you could be walking or swimming (I love to snorkel in this instance) or you could sit cross-legged or even just lay on your back, and then you simply try to keep your head clear of thoughts.  Clear of chatter, clear of judging, clear of everything.  At first it is nearly impossible, but if you practice each day it becomes easier, and your mind grows stronger.  You will soon find that you can chart the course of your sleeping dreams and control what you think about.  It is amazing what you can do when you cultivate the ability to control your mind chatter.  I want to add a link below to something I found on YouTube simply by typing in the words, ‘guided meditation’.  Check out the video if you are interested.

I found this to be a particularly calming and relaxing one, but there are many.  What I liked about it was the sound of waves and the emphasis that the waves had something of a healing sound.  Last year I spent some time in Hawaii and went snorkeling on a couple of beaches and I can’t even begin to describe what this experience was like.  The water was clear, clean and healing.  The waved felt like they were cleansing my very soul.  There were tropical fish around that I took pictures of, it was simply paradise on earth.

There is more to anger though, there is the kind of anger that a person can often develop when they have been through a lot (I think) or possibly have a chemical imbalance in their brain.  I can recall being younger and experiencing depression and having extreme anger towards people in traffic, at the laces on my shoes when I was unable to tie them, at anything that seemed to upset what I thought was my right.  People ticked me off at every corner.  I want to share another video by an incredible young man who offers a great way to put yourself in other people’s shoes and conquer your anger.  It is below:

This young man, Noah Elkrief, really seems to understand what makes people, for want of a better term, pissed off at the world.  I think he has a number of videos that are geared towards mental health that I strongly recommend.

Then of course there comes a type of anger that you can’t really control by talking, or you can’t manage at first by talking.  One example is of a person I know who was once on steroids.  He apparently beat up someone just because he didn’t like the way they looked.  There are many types of this, one of them happens in some people when they abuse alcohol.  My Dad seemed to have this problem and we used to fight a great deal, though I have to say my own rebellious spirit and my own anger didn’t help the situation at all.  Many times in life we have to sacrifice being the one who is deemed right or deemed the bigger man to avoid situations that can harm ourselves or others, or even just spark off an argument.  I kind of wish I had been able to do this at a younger age.

This type of anger, especially when it involves alcohol or other drugs, needs to be addressed first by detoxification, then by treatment to deal with a person’s addiction or abuse and then it may be necessary for the person to be put on medications.  I know in my case a good deal of my anger was taken away by the use of an anti-depressant, but I also needed to be put on an anti-psychotic medication (once again, I want to stress that psychotic is a state where a person perceives a false reality and isn’t a violent or hateful person while psychopathic is something that is more along the lines of people who don’t care who they hurt or damage in their pursuit of their own goals).  This anti-psychotic medication helped a great deal, but if there are people out there who suffer, I want to note that quite often these medications need to be increased over time, and even need to be changed.  Thanks to modern medicine, new and more effective medications come out, and there is also the factor that your body can become more tolerant of the medication and need more of it to do the same job.

Well, that seems like a lot of doom and gloom.  I hope anyone who has read this will take the time to watch the videos, they are simply incredible I feel.  On a lighter note I have been quite happy because I have been hired to teach a creative writing workshop for the month of June, which may work out to be a permanent job.  Some of the people in the group will be community members who suffer from mental health issues but I am very happy that somehow I will be able to help people better express themselves and possibly create something they can be proud of.  I think I will pass on writing a poem for today but expect one soon, thanks for reading, feel free to contact me as always at: viking3082000@yahoo.com

*** I changed my mind and wrote a poem tonight, look for it below this photo***

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A Poem For Those Who Matter Most

 

It seems despite some troubles that my life has become

Perfect in many ways, easy to live and also fun

As a boy hard work never seemed to end

And for a while it had driven me around the bend

 

I wanted so badly then to find that special other

A partner to give my life meaning, help me to recover

From all the crap that life had thrown at me

I thought a relationship would set me free

 

I had to learn the hard way that for love to blossom and grow

You need two people and you need both of them to be whole

But how I longed to find that one to complete my soul

It seemed important enough that I sidelined all my goals

 

And then all at once it seemed that there was one who cared

The first time I talked to her it was so hard not to stare

I dreamed of her and the passion that I thought would never be

Such love never seemed to come real for me

 

At the time I had depression and I was also very shy

It was as though I didn’t like myself and didn’t know why

I seemed to sabotage any relationship that might have been

And when that was over loneliness and pain would set in

 

During a time when I was still trying to make sense of life

I met a sweet beautiful lover who could have been my wife

She taught me that with love and faith there is always a chance

And no matter what your age or problems there can be romance

 

Now that I am whole and I am older I see that life is what you make of it

Despite that fact that losing love and getting older can still ache a bit

I have been through a lot but I’m still ready to reach out

Happiness is out there somewhere I have no doubt

 

When you tally up your totals and all is said and done

The winners are judged only by what they have overcome

I may not have gone so far or earned as much as others have

But for a while I was loved and happy and for that I am glad

 

And it will not matter at the gates of heaven or hell

If my investments and savings had done well

It will only matter that I loved and cared for those I knew

And you my family and friends I truly care for all of you

 

Leif Gregersen

May 29, 2015

Across The Desperate Dangers of the Darkest Forest of Depression

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Hello my Dear Readers!

Well, being the writer of a blog it is always good to see a lot of hits and a lot of feedback when I write something.  The trouble is it is hard to really know what brings in a lot of hits in the way of keywords or content or title.  I have kind of been going hit and miss, trying various things.  I think that as long as I have breath in me I will keep writing this blog.  At the very worst I can compile all of my entries one day and have a few copies printed up as a book.

I am curious how many writers out there read my blog.  For a time I was focusing on a writing theme, but more recently I have changed to a mental health theme.  Any feedback would be hugely appreciated as to what people want to see more of, etc.  As always, in the case of mental health and in the case of wanting to write, I should stress here how important it is to keep a journal.  I started out my own writing hobby, which has almost become a career with a journal and then since I had time on my hands I expanded to write movie and book reviews in another journal.  I am almost sure the first ones weren’t anything to ‘write home about’ but I kept them and one day when I feel brave I will head down to my basement and dig them up.  I recall, either from the egotism of a young man or some delusional aspect of my mental illness that I felt everything I wrote should be preserved, I even expected people to save and print up my emails.  I suppose that sort of thing would have its place, but it seems silly now.  One way it doesn’t seem silly is when I hear about my cousin who taught at Churchill College in Cambridge that he had actually studied hand-written letters from W. Churchill himself.  Amazing!

So yesterday I wrote a poem to include in my blog and I have to admit it was kind of gloomy.  I was lucky enough a while back to connect with a reporter her in Edmonton who read my books and he told me he didn’t like them, that he felt they were dark and other things.  I have to admit I am guilty of that.  I wish somehow I could capture the dark feelings I used to get when I was young.  It is sad to think of, but when I was 17 I really had the world by the balls.  I had so many opportunities before me, I had a beautiful, fast car and a job that I really liked.  But each day when I was on my way home I would be in a seriously dark cloud of stark depression.  I had no idea at the time that it wasn’t a normal reaction to a day’s work.  Lately when I let things go for a while, like today and yesterday when I have been sleeping a lot and not doing much (I have been down with a flu/cold) I get down, I even think suicidal thoughts a little, but very minor stuff, nothing like the pits of self loathing that I used to get into.  It was hard to ask for help back then too, I didn’t really know where to ask.  One thing I do recall was that my mom was going to get me in to see her Psychiatrist but I ended up declining at the last minute.

In my young days there were so many warning signs, but I don’t blame those around me, I kept my affairs closed up.  I was reeling from constant arguments with my Dad and bullying at school and even in the home so I had pretty tight lips.  I think a thing I learned in cadets would apply in this case.  When we were out doing training in the field and it was raining, we would ask our assigned buddy if his socks were dry and then stick our hands into his or her boot to make sure they weren’t just trying to be tough.  I think that people these days need to do a sock check, but for their buddies’ mental and physical health.  What that requires is a great deal more education about mental and physical well being, something I don’t think our government in doing enough of.  Personally I am going around to schools as requested giving talks about mental health for the Schizophrenia Society which is great, but something should be worked into the curriculum.  A fact we like to stress in our talks to students is that 1 in 4 to 1 in 5 people will seek treatment for a major mental disorder in their lifetime.  It is hard to imagine, but that is a massive chunk of the population.  Anyhow, though this is something near to my heart, I should also make the point that being diagnosed or being treated for a disorder isn’t the worst thing that can happen.  I recall my days being untreated negatively, but once I got a good medication working for me life really began to improve.  I hate to think I am saying this too much as I am sure I have mentioned this in a post before.

Well, anyhow, on to a lighter note, I have been buying coffee table books.  I bought a massive art book that must weigh 50 pounds and some smaller ones.  I have so much fascination with paintings from the sixteenth and seventeenth century that are incredibly lifelike because if they are done well they can capture the very character of people that are long dead and gone.  A good painting in this way is to me a lot like time travel.  I enjoy a lot of art, but I am most moved by oil paintings like this.  There are a lot of works to enjoy in the books I got though, and I have also bought a few coffee table books on the second world war.  I used to collect war books but at one point in my life I gave away my collection but now after watching the reality TV show Pawn Stars a lot I have developed a new fascination for history.  I also have some hope of writing more articles about historical events, plus my trip last year to Hawaii where I was on board the ship where the treaty to end WWII was signed has sparked a lot of interest.

My Dad seems to think I am taking too much on, and I agree with him.  Sometimes my day starts at 4 am and is interspersed with naps and goes on until I am completely exhausted or have a rare day off.  It is a difficult thing to balance in life because on one side a person doesn’t want to waste away their lives passively watching TV or listening to music, but it is hard to deal with stress in other ways.  Once again, I would love it anyone out there reading this has insights for me.

Well, Dear Readers that is about it for today.  I think I rambled on and didn’t say much but I hope someone out in that vast blog-reading world feels otherwise.  As always, feel free to email at viking3082000@yahoo.com and don’t forget to scroll past the below photo for today’s poem!

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Hot Summer Night

 

 

To you my secret love I offer the very best of myself

I can no longer let my love waste away on a shelf

I sought for all of my time on this earth for one just like you

And finding you saved my life; made me feel born all anew

 

There had been so many dark days when I didn’t think love could be

And even now I admit you and I are not matched perfectly

But forever there has been something in your lovely blue eyes

That betrayed you needed me, though you knew you were truly a prize

 

I noticed you and saw such good in you before introducing myself

So much beauty, such wisdom, both of them better than any wealth

I knew that you and I would have things to talk about for hours and days

I found you simply fascinating in so many ways

 

By some strange miracle we ended up close friends then lovers

You were like an epic novel so much between the covers

But that glow from our passion one day faded away

But you are still my very best friend to this very day

 

Through many years you brought my life such joy

And now I’m a middle-aged man, when we met I was just a boy

I want to let you know how much happiness that you bring

Into my challenged life despite that you wear another man’s ring

 

Although you are the love that I wanted most as years went by

It doesn’t hurt you are pledged to another I don’t know why

As long as we can share the simple things that you and I like to do

I am happy to play second fiddle to your man for you

 

The love that I have for you has never felt wrong

And all of your family makes me feel like I truly belong

So I just want to tell you on this hot summer night

Your love and your friendship are my life’s greatest delight

 

 

Leif Gregersen

May 26, 2015

The Days That Lit The Fires I Was Forged In

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Good morning dear readers!  Well, it is an interesting time for me today.  As anyone who has read much of my work knows, I have a bit of an obsession for the military.  I have always found war and armies, and especially World War Two very fascinating.  As a young kid I remember once being very afraid of global nuclear war and war movies scared me, but as I got older I changed in that regard.  I remember being around 11 or so and our local mall had a military display up and my brother seemed really knowledgeable about land mines and other means of harming human life.  This gave me such a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that I think I had nightmares for a while, I know I remember the day vividly though it was 30 plus years ago.  But when I was 12 my parents decided to put me into Air Cadets and I simply loved it.  I don’t like to say I served or anything, though I did do a lot of unpaid work, because I really enjoyed being who I was in Air Cadets, it had little to do with giving something to your country as it was about making you into something better.  I got so much out of cadets it was almost as thought they served me.  I was a top achiever and something of a leader as I made it up to the rank of Sergeant.  At the age of 15 I was influenced a lot by some left wingers and ended up leaving cadets, but at 18 I had come full circle once more and tried to join the military.  For some reason I always had it in the back of my mind that I would still join up, still run off somewhere and sign my life away.  I even had a dream with some of my old cadet friends in it just a couple of days ago where I had it in mind that I was going to go ‘back in’ if I can say that.  But now, two things have happened.  First, I had the honor of having some of my writing published in a magazine made for the Canadian Military, about a forgotten battle that took place during the Korean War, and second, I have found out that the military will not take a person over age 42.  Being 43 I can now rest easy that I will sit out the next major conflict in peace.  This seems pretty trivial, but a lot of people I was in cadets with who were in the military or even just the cadets were often calculating the time until they could no longer be called up.  Another thing that I should mention is that I have some friends who did go into the military and had a completely negative experience.  One guy that is no longer a friend got into trouble and spent 2 years in a military prison.  Another friend was telling me about the fact that a great deal of people in the military suffer from mental illness, be it depression or PTSD or other things.  So in a small way I am kind of glad that even if I wanted to I would no longer be called up.

I wish I could write more about mental illness in the military, but I really don’t know enough about the topic.  As far as my own mental health goes, which is really all I can honestly report on in this blog or otherwise, I am in kind of a poor state right now.  The main thing is that I have had a bad cold and have been laying around the house more than usual and not getting any type of writing done.  For me, sleeping too much and not getting up to do things can be very negative, even when I am taking the proper dose of my medications and taking them on time.  I found myself thinking about life in general very negatively.  I am having a bit of a problem because I don’t think I will be able to work my stage hand job anymore, although I have had some offers of things that could replace the lost income.  I am taking this Wellness Recovery Action Plan course which may lead to some paid work, and I have been giving talks for the Schizophrenia Society which pays a little and sometimes includes book sales and I am also going to be teaching a writing class in June which will bring in a few bucks.  I am really going to miss my stage hand job though, but the fact is I just don’t think I should do it at all anymore.  It is very taxing physically, it can be dangerous, and it often causes me a lot of stress not only from the pace we have to work at but also with the way the schedule goes.  I feel really fortunate that I have the option to scale this back while I try to fill in the blanks with other things.  All I can really say to anyone who doesn’t want to find themselves in this situation is to get as much training and education as you can in something you know you can do for a long time, and save as much money as you can.  You never really know when an illness or a situation can put you out of work.  One of my problems right now is that I tend to spend all the money I get in a given month.  This has been getting better lately as I have been keeping myself busy but I know that when a dry patch comes along I will be suffering again, trying to sell things I don’t need and going into shopaholic withdrawl.  The good thing is that if you do have this problem and can force yourself to shop less for what you don’t need and make the most out of the things you have and things that are free (going for walks, using the library, getting involved in your community by volunteering) it only takes a short time before you can re-program yourself to change your habits.  Anyhow, if I can be of any help via email, please let me know, as always, I can be reached at viking3082000@yahoo.com  scroll down past the below photo for today’s poem.

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My Father, My Dad

 

 

My father, my father

Whose name I now bear

Who I once loved so very much

As I sat beside your recliner

In my own small chair

You were my best friend for so many years

 

My father, my dad

Playing chess with you

Eating your crackers and cheese

Wearing that shirt that was just like one of yours

Feeling such love as you read to us kids

 

My dad

I kept going to your barber

And wearing clothes that you liked

Long after it was no longer cool

To have hair or clothes like that at school

 

My dad, my father

So much to me in my later years

More than a parent and friend

After mom passed

Why did you drink so much before

Scream and fight with me in my teen years so much?

 

My dad

It seemed when I was a boy not a day went past

Without me ending up in tears

Feeling unloved and uncared for

It seemed to surprise you

That I went insane

And was put into an institution for a long time

 

My father

When I left that horrible place

You had no room for me

I had nowhere to go

Still you called in the police

Had me arrested for trespassing

In the only home I had ever known

 

So much anger

So much love

So much craziness

Sometimes I dream about you

Kick at the air

In real life I’m kicking the wall

One day you will get old all at once

Pass on

And I will once again shed real tears for you

And for the father that I never really knew

My father, my father, my dad

 

 

May 24, 2015

A Loose Scattering of Pleasing Images and Rhymes

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Well, here goes another blog post without any plan or rhyme or reason.  I think what I would really like to talk about is friendships.  Sometimes in life you meet people that you connect with, people who mean a lot to you.  For a long time I thought that old friends were the best friends, and they really can be, but I have also thought that, though it isn’t a good thing to play games with people to put their friendship to the test, sometimes life does throw tests at us that tell us who really matters.  As many of you know, I was in Air Cadets from age 12 to 15 and it was extremely influential in my life.  It ingrained a type of military discipline and way of accomplishing things that has never left me.  But then there were also the buddies I made.  One of the closest of them was a young man named Carl who seemed like kind of a funny character, but for a long time we were good friends and I had a lot of respect for him.  His Dad was a mechanic and he knew an incredible amount of things regarding how to repair things, re-purpose them or clean or maintain them that I guess his Dad must have taught him.  Later in life he had a lot of problems and had to live on his own in a lot of rough spots and didn’t have many friends to watch out for him.  I would have him over as much as I could and we would spend long hours talking about our lives over coffee in the kitchen of my parents’ home.  I had really hoped we could have been friends forever, but one day as an adult I called him up and was basically told that he no longer wanted to talk to me and didn’t want to give a reason.  I went through a lot of emotions over that, hurt, anger, loss, but I was an adult and I got over it.  One of the bad things that happened between him and I was that when I was 19 and I was mentally ill I borrowed about $350 from him and didn’t pay it back for a long time.  I eventually paid him back with interest, but that could have been what did it.  I have a number of good friendships that were ruined that way over money but I don’t have any simple advice.  How can a person in good conscience refuse a friend’s need?  I feel so fortunate now to have some financial stability and when friends or family members need money I try to give it to them without asking for anything in return.  I don’t know how I would feel about all that money though if I didn’t have a good job and a stable pension.

For some odd reason I want to talk about some of the friends I have made through going to poetry nights.  There is this one guy, Ahmed Knowmadic who is just an incredible person and oddly enough I worked for a time with his best friend Marlin.  Ahmed is from Somalia and Marlin is from Jamaica.  I am not very close friends with these guys, but I just think they are the salt of the Earth.  People sometimes say that poetry is not popular, that it is on a decline, but Marlin and Ahmed are among the growing movement of slam poets who are making it an extremely viable force in this world, and I am really glad to know them.

I don’t really know for sure what got me started as a poet.  I can recall that even in elementary school I had a knack for writing rhyming lines of verse but I did very little of it and never showed it to anyone.  I can recall a good friend who used to write songs which were poetry but he did something I thought was a mistake-he had his Pastor go over it and correct it for him.  I guess in a way right now I have put my religion in second place and really want to make some beautiful writing rather than write to glorify God and I don’t think I will go to hell for it.  But back to how I started as a poet, I think a lot of it came from a very few famous poems that I really enjoyed, namely “Do not go gentle into that good night” by Dylan Thomas, “If” By Rudyard Kipling, “The Cremation of Sam McGee” by Robert Service and “The Raven” by Edgar Allen Poe.  I loved Kipling as a young man, and used to watch the movie “The Man Who Would Be King” based on his short story of the same name and read what I could find from his books.  I also read a little Edgar Allen Poe in high school but until I had my own apartment I didn’t get all that serious about writing.  One funny thing I wanted to share about my young young days (elementary school) and writing, I used to make my own comic stories with simple drawings about spaceships and soldiers and take them to school and put them up on the bulletin board for people to read.  I made so many that I was discouraged from making more and sometimes I wonder if that discouragement had to do with me being a bit of a late bloomer as a writer.

Regardless, I think I always loved books.  It seems a bit nerdy now, but I remember loving playing football with other students in pick up games at recess and lunch and after school and one day walking the mile or so to our city library and getting a book about football and reading it.  Even to this day I see books as the key to all knowledge.  You can do research on the Internet about a particular topic but until you get a book or two under your belt I don’t think you really know much about it.  I do of course read ebooks (just finished a wonderful one by a disabled journalist named Cam Tait which I loved) and I use amazon.ca a lot to find books I want that aren’t available anywhere else, but I stand firm on that.  I don’t think books, if you count ebooks, will ever go away.

To get back to the poetry thing, when I first moved out I sought out a lot of books on poetry and really enjoyed both the poetry and music of Leonard Cohen and read a lot of Canadian poets.  I also read some classics, which were loaned to me by a friend and sometimes I would even steal poetry books from a rarely used hospital library where I went for my clinic appointments (I feel so guilty about doing this, I have often wished I could turn back time and not have done that).  But really I was doing things the hard way in the extreme.  I just didn’t know about poetry events, perhaps there wasn’t even many of them then.  But in my later years I have found that poetry has so much to offer.  I have published three books of poetry and they are selling.  I am starting to get a following here for my poems and on my Facebook page (Valhalla Books if you  ever find the time to look it up and go through my years of archives of poetry).  I think perhaps one of the greatest things about it though is that with poetry you really can let loose your emotions on the page in a beautiful way, and when you ramp it up and get into spoken word poetry and get on stage and perform, the feeling is pretty amazing.  I owe so much to some of the poets that have encouraged me, and a lot to some who aren’t poets.  Kiersten my cousin’s wife is one, Mira an old friend another, and then there is a long list of local poets I wish I could name.  I hope that people who read this will be encouraged to go out and take in a poetry event, it is an incredibly democratic and inclusive movement, I have seen rich and poor, old and young come out and have a wonderful time and grow as writers and I hope as citizens of the world.  That reminds me, I need to thank Elisa a great deal because she was reading my poetry and suggested I start attending the poetry event in the first place, and now in a few short weeks I am going to be teaching my very own class of writers!  That’s all for today Dear Readers, don’t forget to drop me a line or a comment any time, viking3082000@yahoo.com

SCROLL DOWN PAST THE PHOTO FOR TODAY’S POEM

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To A Friend Of Thirty-Two Years

 

Dear friend of my youth you are oft on my mind

So few old friends stayed so close by my side

Some saw life changed me as the years went by

But you were always like a brother I don’t really know why

 

I look back on our younger days of first love and first loss

It seems my dear friend we were cut from the same cloth

It meant so much to know later when I lived far away

That we would reunite some fine summer day

 

I was so proud to hear of it when you found a wife

And that soon you had made for yourself an enviable life

Then with your new partner had two wonderful boys

It filled up my heart as I listened to all of your joys

 

I will admit my own path was not quite as smooth

It was as though for myself I had something to prove

Both you and I competed, both hardworking and smart

Though you never gloated when life had torn me apart

 

My oldest dearest friend don’t ever forget

As long as I live I will owe you a huge debt

For all the great memories, through good times and bad

And the fact that through most of them you were all that I had

 

A close friend is something that is better than wealth

Something so critical for each person’s mental health

I will tell you a secret I want to share with your sons one day

Their father is an incredible man in his very own way

 

I won’t butter you up any more with my words of praise

Just wish you true love and warm, happy days

A person with one true friend can conquer all his or her dreams

You may live far away now but you are right here it seems

 

There was this one time I thought all was lost and gone

And you came to see me and helped me go on

I wish I could give you some gift of great price

But I think I will have to just give you some lame advice

 

Care for those close to you, speak always from your heart

Give of yourself and your time and rarely depart

Love your family dearly as you have cared for me

And never forget you deserve to be happy and free

 

Leif Gregersen

May 19. 2015

A Taste of My Life Full of Blessings

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Hello Dear Readers.  I have to admit I am starting out today’s blog with a bit of a blank mind.  When I started blogging, I had a lot of great ideas to write down but as time passed I narrowed my focus a little more, until being at where I am now where I want to mostly write about mental health issues.  In some ways that has made things easier and in some harder.  Anyone who hasn’t read my favorite book, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” I suggest that they go and get a copy.  The book is about so many things, from teaching to thinking, to philosophizing, to managing a mental health issue in a family that goes across generations.  In one part the author was talking about teaching writing and had told students to write about a building and few of them were able to write anything.  Then he told them to write about one wall, then one row of bricks, then one brick and when he had narrowed it down enough the words started to come.

I am hoping this apparent wisdom works because in a few short weeks I am going to be teaching my first writing class.  The class is focused on people with mental illnesses, but is open to the public.  Anyone in the Edmonton area interested in attending feel free to contact me and I will give you details.  My email is as always, viking3082000@yahoo.com

So I am going to try and take people who have never published anything and maybe written a few poems or a story and I am going to try in one month to get at least one or two of them published in some smaller local papers.  More if I can of course.  There is this one student named Benson who is young and seems to have a great deal of potential.  He is kind of fascinating to watch because once we were given a writing assignment and he picked up his phone and appeared to be texting.  I felt a bit ticked off at this, it seemed rude, but then when we were asked to read our work here he came with a beautiful piece of writing that he had typed into his phone.  Things sure are changing.  Although I am very computer literate, I still like to start all of my work with pen and paper, then be able to edit not only as I re-read the work, but as I transfer it to my computer.

All that aside, things really seem to be going well.  I had a long and grueling week.  Yesterday I went to a nursing college and gave two talks for the Schizophrenia Society to a group of nursing students.  I really wanted to engage these people and make my talk a success, so when it came time for the question and answer period, I wouldn’t let people sit and not ask or say anything.  I asked for a show of hands as to who wanted to work in the mental health field and what their motivations were and people really opened up.  One young woman was actually moved to tears talking about a person in their family that had Bipolar Disorder who died and a young man talked about a sister he had who once went of her medication for a long time and I ended up asking him questions.  It really is rewarding work and I honestly feel like I’m making a difference.

It is really kind of refreshing to make a difference.  I am hoping I can make a difference for this young man Benson, I have already loaned him some poetry books to study and I honestly think with some prompting he can go far.  With some of the other people in the class, I don’t know how much I can do for them other than empower them to express themselves, but that may be enough.  I know for a fact that there is one person who used to come to the group who has been paid to publicly display his work, something that I have been trying and hoping to do for some time.

Well, I suppose that will make this a short blog for now.  I wrote a poem in my Wellness Recovery Action Plan class and I thought I would share it under today’s photo, so don’t forget to scroll down.  For the last blog entry I made, I got a very nice comment from someone, I would appreciate any comments anyone has, and if any of you are suffering and need help, or even just need to talk to someone who has been through a lot and done well for themselves, please don’t hesitate to contact me, as always, viking3082000@yahoo.com

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Making a Differerence

 

On my journey through this dark, stark land

It seems so many need me to lend a hand

I wish I could give my all to each and every one

Take them to a feast and fest on the beach and in the sun

 

But sadly it seems there are too many here

It touches my heart, makes me shed a tear

They smell, they’re shaggy, dirty, disabled

They ask for things that would only enable

 

One time I bought ten loaves of bread and a little meat

Even some cigarettes just for a special treat

I passed them out but didn’t feed the masses

I wanted to navigate the pearly gates’ passes

 

Is the only thing that I can do is take up my pen

I do have a heart for this women and men

Cruel people laugh at them and tell them ‘get a job’

But all those that hire workers think they’re slobs

 

Even the washrooms post signs to keep the homeless out

And if they go in anyway people scream and shout

Maybe if enough people came together and took someone in

Right now it seems to me their indifference is a sin

 

Soon there would be no more lonely, sickly poor

And acts of kindness would open closed doors

One day we could make it so all have food and clothes

They will never get them now the way it goes

 

Open your heart and mind and try

Ask why not instead of asking why

So many people need your kindness

So many out there are lost and homeless

 

Can you give a little, life will give so much back

Rethink your fear and change your tack

It’s isn’t resources that we lack

It’s not a case of white and black

 

It’s the union of all women and men

Let the world begin again

Share your love and learn to care

The way life is going it just isn’t fair

 

 

Leif N. Gregersen

May 16, 2015

 

As The Days Go By Take Time to Watch The Skies

DSCF1046                This is a photo of my good friend James who is working his very last day ever on Friday the 15th of May, 2015!!!!!

 

Hello Readers and fans.  Well, it has been an interesting week to say the least.  I apologize that I haven’t been producing as many blog posts as I could have, there has been so much for me to get done.  Some of the things I have been doing may be of benefit to you my readers, one of them is that I have been attending a class called “WRAP” or Wellness Recovery Action Plan, and I am learning a lot of new things about mental health and recovery from it.  I would encourage everyone who can get access to a WRAP class to take the 10 week course.  When you complete it, there is a possibility of becoming a WRAP facilitator for pay as a peer counselor after you take another advanced course for those of you who have mental health issues and want to earn some extra money.

All the monetary stuff aside though, I wanted to share some of what I have been learning with my readers.  Yesterday in the class, we watched a very interesting Ted Talk from a woman named I believe McGonigal through YouTube about stress that I would recommend you look into.  It talked of a study that was done where people were surveyed as to whether or not they felt stress was bad for them and man of them thought stress and anxiety and all that is very bad, but some felt stress could be a good thing.  The ones that thought it was bad had a seriously skewed mortality rate and the ones that thought it was good a much lower one.  These are oversimplified of course.   Actually, I think I will put a link to the video right here:

 

 

watch it and see about stress for yourself, the video is a great tool for people who want to get out and do more, feel better about themselves and challenge themselves.

Aside from that, I thought I would share a bit about my week.  As some of you know, I am a writer and I have written and published about 8 or 9 books and I have also been writing for magazines and publishing poetry as well as newspaper articles.  All my hard work seems to be paying off because I have been offered a job as a writing teacher for a community writing class.  I will start work in June and give three classes, get paid a small amount and hopefully feel very pleased about myself as a result.  Add that to the possibility of becoming a WRAP facilitator and the presentations I have been giving for the Schizophrenia Society and I will soon be doing well for myself.  The most important thing I feel is to keep busy, and keep my creative energies flowing.  I have been discovering new ways of doing this from simply having a car to get me around to taking correspondence courses, volunteering, studying Spanish, this blog and other things.  The amazing thing is that if you do something you like, you will get good at it.  Then, if you get good at something eventually you will get paid for it except in extreme exceptions.  Then, before you know it you have a full and rewarding life.

An awesome example of this is a book I have just finished reading by a disabled Edmonton Journalist named Cam Tait.  He wrote a book called “Disabled?  Hell No, I’m a Sit-Down Comedian!” and it was very inspiring and emotional.  Cam has Cerebral Palsy and had to go through extensive treatments to function from a very early age and has broken incredible boundaries to become a very well loved and well known writer.  His Edmonton Sun Newspaper author page is here:  http://www.edmontonsun.com/author/cam-tait

I was so inspired by the book I want to help promote the sale of it and will be putting up links to the amazon page when I find the time.  I have spoken to Cam, he graciously tweeted about a book signing I had at a local independent bookstore (Audrey’s Books-Edmonton’s last independent book store) and he is planning to do a write up in the Edmonton Sun about me.

Anyhow, I don’t seem to really be able to say much without getting side tracked today.  I am taking the WRAP class, I am getting set up to teach a writing class, I am taking writing.  It all seems to indicate that I am on the manic side of my illness and need to slow down.  Anyhow, maybe instead of getting carried away by the wave of energy, I can possibly surf it to the beach instead.  All I want to really say though, is that anyone who reads this who is having a struggle finding meaning in life or has been in and out of hospitals, things really can get better.  You definitely can get to a point where life is fun again, medication doesn’t have to take everything away from you.  Sometimes it comes down to having a plan, writing down your thoughts each day, writing out what sets you off and laying out how you want to deal with your ‘triggers’ as they call them in my new class.  I am really looking forward to taking more of these classes, and the advanced class.  For a good part of my life I wanted to be a Psychologist and I think this is about as close as I’m going to get.  Anyhow, I want to end things there.  No poem for today, but I have one I wrote that is fairly good and really new that I will put in with the next entry, most likely on Sunday.  Hope you enjoy the photos, I encourage you to follow the links to the video and to learn more about Cam Tait.  Both will be of benefit to you, and as always I welcome you to email me directly, viking3082000@yahoo.com

DSC_0100this is a shot of the Brownlee building (left) and the Stovell Block (right) in downtown Edmonton.  I have friends who live or have lived in the Stovell Block and no one can really avoid the Brownlee Building.  Luckily I have managed to avoid the Remand Centre (far left) which is now being used as a Homeless Shelter.

Gather Around The Fire and Let Me Tell You a Story

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Hello Dear Readers!  Well, it has truly been an eventful last few days.  I put a lot of effort into advertising and setting up a book signing and it went okay but I had expected much better.  I had the book signing at a wonderful and very supportive bookstore, in fact it is the last independent bookstore in Edmonton and it is called “Audrey’s Books”.  I put up a lot of posters around downtown and even got a couple of newspaper reporters, my good friend Scott Hayes in the St.Albert Gazette and a very cool guy named Cam Tait in his twitter feed.  It is hard to understand when is the best time or season to sell books.  One year I went to a craft sale at the hospital I was once a patient in and sold around 20 books and ended up with something like $400 in my pocket.  The next year I went back and sold next to nothing.  The cool thing is that I am building up a resume and will soon be moving from being a stage hand to teaching writing, selling books and giving talks about mental health and so on.  I have been giving talks about mental health now at schools for a few weeks and I really enjoy it.  I am starting to get more comfortable with speaking and I am getting a great response from the people I talk to.  It is all through “The Schizophrenia Society of Alberta”.  I don’t know if anyone out there has a branch of the Schizophrenia society, but they do a world of good.  Presentations at schools, classes in managing your illness and your rights and support groups and many other things.

Aside from all that, I am feeling good but I think it will take some time for me to adapt from a more labor intensive job to working in classrooms and such.  I have a few other frying pans in the fire which I hope will help me transition away from my stage hand job.   The first one is a class I would recommend for anyone, it is called WRAP or wellness recovery action plan.  I suggest anyone out there google it and look into it.  It is a fantastic program to get a person aware of their strengths and weaknesses and times when they may need help and how to set up plans for such times and many more things.  One of the neat things about it is it is peer led by people with mental health issues, which means the facilitators have gone through what you have and have come to a point of recovery.  The other neat thing is that once you take the WRAP course, you can ask to be put on a list and then take a more advanced course over I believe a 5-day period, 8 hours a day and then you can become a facilitator yourself and you get paid for it.  As for the other classroom things I was mentioning, I have been approached by a friend who leads a writing group to run his classes at some point soon for pay.  Part of the job will entail me going out and getting more people involved in the class, but I already have some good ideas for doing that.

I think though, even though it seems all this is a great thing, that I have to be very careful.  Having a full schedule can be rewarding in one way, but it cal also be extremely stressful and stress is definitely a trigger for me, as it is for many of us with Bipolar Disorder or other mental health issues, so I am going to be very careful not to overtax myself, make sure I get enough rest each day, make sure I set aside time for myself to just decompress and read graphic novels or listen to my favorite music.  Once again, I would love to hear from any of the people who follow this blog and encourage you to write to me at my main email, viking3082000@yahoo.com

Take care and scroll down past today’s photo for a poem I wrote today!

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Changes

 

It has been so long since the golden, breezy fall

It seemed at times that Spring wouldn’t come at all

We shoveled walks and waterproofed our shoes

Waited for signs of winter ending soon

Now finally we start to hear the songbirds’ call

 

Deep in the winter it is too easy to forget

Soon there will be sunny days without regret

We burrow in our homes and watch TV

Images of perfect skies and turquoise sea

Though few would leave this place on a bet

 

Myself I spend a lot of time reading at night

Peaceful and quiet imagining is my greatest delight

Worlds through mind’s eyes I never knew

Stories new or old, fiction or true

And to often take a pause and see the Northern Lights

 

In this green and growing city Edmonton

Where my life upon this Earth was first begun

I grew up with so many joys

So many friends, so many toys

I want to stay here until my life is done

 

Yes, we have a massive world class mall

And our boys have fought for Queen and Country like them all

But I feel our potential is so much more

That our many cultures can truly open up a door

I feel Edmonton has a higher call

 

First to address the brotherhood of mankind

Then equality for the disabled, sick and blind

Then equal rights of women and men

Take up your sword, your voice, your pen

We are leaders here, we must leave no one behind

 

It seems such a tall and impossible thing to do

But I want to put a challenge to all of you

India was freed by Ghandi, just one man

What he did any wise and pure soul can

We can do it, I believe in myself and I believe in you

 

 

Leif Gregersen

May 9, 2015