Month: April 2016

Raw and Uncensored Manic Depressive Digressions

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                         This was actually a really small spider that I captured from very close up

Today’s Poem:

Disguise

 

Angel blond hair

Deep blue eyes

 

Lost and lonely

A wall between us

 

I wanted

I wanted to love you

 

Wall between us

Pain on one side

 

Look in these eyes

Yes mine

 

You will see pain

If you can look past the disguise

 

God in heaven

I am lonely

 

This is how I ask

You to reach out to me

 

This is how I tell the world

I’m the one truly hurting

 

I keep silent and show only

Only rage only silence

 

But I have to lie

Not just to you; to everyone

 

I have to keep up the pain

It feeds me

 

The pain; the disguise

I’m just a hollow shell inside

 

 

Leif Gregersen, April 30/2016

 

Good day to one and all.  I had a pretty cool Friday, I met with my mentor and good friend Richard Van Camp, who I met a few years back at the U of A when I approached him to help me with a Novel I was writing.  I have known Richard for some time and I still have yet to put out a full-length novel.  I have written a number of books and done a lot of articles but no blockbuster.  I think I have it in me, I just need to get a few life details in order.  Maybe I should set that as my goal for 2016, to write a complete adult novel.  There are so many different topics one could cover when it comes to novels, though.  When I was a teen I loved spy thrillers, historical thrillers, and military thrillers.  Now that I am grown more I don’t see those types of works as anything I can either have an authoritative voice in writing or really enjoy doing.  It is kind of a joke among my family members and I that from a young age I wanted to do some impossible act and get a million or more dollars so I could sit cozy and live off the interest of my windfall.  But here I am 44 and I haven’t made my first million yet.  I can honestly say, though, living with a mental illness has put a lot of roadblocks in my way.  One of the problems is that I don’t deal with stress in the same way that most people do.  In fact, I think the longest I have held a full-time job in my life has been about three weeks.  It is a scary statistic though I have had part-time jobs that lasted for years, I was with the IATSE union for 7 years, but there is something about me that just wants to shut down and go back to living with nothing rather than continue on in a job I don’t like.  I really liked the most recent job I had, which was being editor of two online magazines, but at the moment, it is hard to say if there is a future in it.

On the lighter side, I am going to be going to my hometown library in two days to give a presentation about mental health and have a chance to sell some books.  I think that one of the bigger opportunities I have at the moment is to continue further up the scale with public speaking.  I have even sent a resume to a public speaker’s agent company.

I really want to talk a bit about mental health at least a little today.  One of the things I have been having problems with is time and sleeping.  I seem to have hard-wired my brain to only be able to enjoy myself when I am working or studying if you can count reading books related to my own writing as studying when they are fiction stories.  There really seems to be nothing that I love more than reading, the heavier the better.  When I was first discharged from the hospital fifteen years ago, I had the time and ability to read just about every work that Steinbeck had written and it was a wonderful experience.  Lately, I have been interested in the short stories of Alice Munro.  I feel I am learning a lot and really enjoying myself by taking time to delve deep into these “not real but realistic” stories.  My mom, who also suffered from a mental illness, used to go to bed a couple of hours before my dad and in that time she would read and write in her journal.  I often wonder why she never tried to be a writer herself, she was extremely intelligent.  She once told me that there is no greater pleasure in this world than losing yourself in a book, in reading the really great works of literature.  To me, reading has been the education I was never able to pursue.

I have memories though of times when I was younger and living alone when I would spend days at a time not leaving my apartment at all, just reading on and on into the night and through the day.  It feels good, but I don’t see how it can be a mentally healthy exercise.  I think I have gotten past that now especially since I write my stories, have people read them, read them to people on the phone, participate in story slams, and doing all that.  I am a bit worried though that I could lapse back into isolating myself as I am going to be graduating from the group home I now live into my own apartment.  It is going to feel odd at first, I have been living here now for 15 years not counting a stint at my own place.  My main concern is bed bugs, then the next concern is that the place might at times be like a zoo because there are a lot of people there who are on the fringes.  Well, dear readers, that is about all I can manage for today.  If you like today’s poem or blog, please let me know.  As always, my email is viking3082000@yahoo.com   All the best!

Leif Gregersen

Growing Up and Growing Old What the F@#k Can One Guy Do?

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    A Bit of a Crooked Shot of Edmonton’s River Valley.  This Was Taken a Week or Two Ago and the Valley is Already Beginning to Turn a Beautiful Shade of Green

 

Today’s Poem:

 

April Poem

For some reason, it seems that poems escape me
When I’m no longer in pain

When I don’t feel the wrenching grip of loneliness
I can’t seem to write from my heart

This day was wonderful
A taste of heaven
Cool, sun-shiny Spring day

I met with a friend so close
That I’m not afraid to tell him I love him
And we sat with new friends
And laughed and talked
While the blue sky enveloped our hearts

Why do I get these pleasures?
How is it I can justify to my conscience
This incredible life?

So many of my years before this were painful
So many were lonely, I lived
In desperation
For a little more food
Some better medicine
For all that ailed me

Now I seem to have arrived, achieved
My sweet holy God in heaven I don’t deserve all this

Make me learn poverty
That I can remember to give
Make me learn loneliness
That I can remember to love
Let me know hunger and pain
So I have compassion

Take all of this from me

Oh God, my God I have done so many things wrong
Made so many mistakes
I’m told all of us are sinners
I must be the worst

A good friend once told me
We all have a God-shaped hole in our hearts
But after today
Sipping cold root beer
With warm friends
On a sunny day
I feel somehow as though
A perfect shape has filled my hole
And I want all the world to know

Leif Gregersen
April 17, 2016

Hello, and welcome to a beautiful Spring dear readers!  I took a very long walk today to meet up with a friend and got a lot of incredible surprises.  First of all, my generous friend, who is an internationally well-known author and film producer sat me down and explained that he is going to help me market my books, something I have been hard at work trying to do.  I have some opportunities to do this coming up soon, one of them is that I am going to be speaking at a conference in Toronto this August and at another conference in October in Halifax.  My friend is trying to set up something for me to go on tour in the Northwest Territories, giving writing workshops and also speaking about mental health.  Our Northern communities in Canada have been hit hard with a chain of suicides and I am strongly hoping that I can reach even just one person to seek help that may not have otherwise done so.

I also have a two-hour a week job teaching a writing class to adults with mental health difficulties and I am really enjoying it.  It takes a lot of work and it is a lot of effort to sit down with a group of adults who have psychiatric issues and keep them engaged for two whole hours, but I welcome the challenge as it just may lead to more things.  I like to teach people about the power of writing, the course is actually called “Writing For Wellness”.  We are doing poetry right now and there is a woman in the class who is actually showing some talent, I would really like to see her pursue her poetry further.  Once again, that is the one person, someone who you can make a difference with that makes things like this all worthwhile.

I don’t know if this is going to be a sleepless night, but I am having a hard time resting my head.  I am not following my own rules about sleep hygiene, I should not have let myself sleep in this morning or take a nap after supper.  When you go out and exercise for 3 or more hours, though, it just feels so incredibly wonderful to sneak in an hour of sleep.  I think what I am going to have to do is stay up late, perhaps write  a short story to pass the time, grab just a couple of hours in the early morning and drag myself through my day.

One thing I am really noticing though is that my stress levels seem to have gone way down since I stopped my labor job and started my present job of being an Editor.  I would just love to keep doing this job for as long as I can, it feels great to be a boss and help others to create their best work and put magazines together.  My only real worry is that the magazine may not last as long as I want to be employed by them.  Hopefully, at that point, things will get better though and perhaps I can find an even better job.

So I hope everyone out there is taking care of themselves.  The arrival of Spring is a good time for all of my readers to take enough care of themselves to get a doctor’s check-up done.  I had a bunch of blood tests done and found that my liver is working a little harder than it should and that I have been eating likely too much saturated fat.  All of us who are on medications and those who don’t want to be should be aiming for a goal of 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise each day, not allowing themselves to become too sedentary, watching caffeine levels (2 cups a day in the morning, then try and switch to teas), and spending time with family and friends, hopefully going for walks in the park or volunteering or working.  The sunny seasons are a great time to resolve to spend less time in front of a screen and maybe more time living an active life.  But who the hell am I to say?  Actually, just a happy, healthy middle-aged man with good friends who has managed to control his bipolar through good living and medications!

Best,

Leif Gregersen

viking3082000@yahoo.com

The Birds Are Returning and There Is a Song In My Heart

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                      This Beautiful Little Flier Came To Help Me Enjoy My Breakfast This Morning

please scroll past today’s poems (Haiku) to see today’s blog

 

Spring Haiku

By: Leif Gregersen

 

Brilliant fields of green

Summer trips to mountain peaks

Finally it is Spring

 

Time to love and smile

Linger in the park a while

All too short a time

 

Cycle all day long

Stop to contemplate a pond

Beauty like nowhere

 

My heart sings at night

Seeing the Northern Lights

Sky carry me home

 

Little bits of words

Gentle longing to be heard

Mourn the loves we lost

  

One thing understood

This land is perfect and good

Love those who share it

Today’s Blog Post:

Hello to all my loyal followers.  It has been a fair time since I have posted anything.  I haven’t felt much in the mood for writing poetry, I have been very busy.  At the moment I am settling into a new job as the Editor of two magazines that deal with mental illness, called SZ and Anchor.  The job itself isn’t too difficult, but I have been pushing myself to learn all I can about mental health issues doing research online, taking a course that my new employer has put together about recovering from an illness.  Here and there I have also been doing some presentations for the Schizophrenia Society.  Just the other day I had to go give a talk to about 40 police recruits and it was actually a wonderful experience.

I can’t say enough about all the things that have been happening and how great they are.  I have always wanted to travel to the Maritimes, which is the East Coast of Canada, and my boss has made a commitment to send me to a conference in Halifax, all expenses paid.  I am also going to be travelling to Toronto in the summer for two weeks and it looks like it will be an exciting year.  Whenever I travel, I am reminded of my trip to Hawaii.  I stayed in a traveller’s Hostel then, but it was a fairly nice one.  They had air conditioning, cooking facilities and they were very close to Waikiki Beach.  There was no feeling in the world like not being able to sleep and having the option to go take a dip in the ocean to clear my head and tire myself out a bit.  Toronto and Halifax will be different, but likely no less exciting.

One thing I was concerned about was the stress involved with my work and such things as a short story manuscript I have submitted in hopes of getting it published.  The amazing thing is that not only do I have a great boss who suffers from a mental illness as well, but I really like doing what I do (being an editor).  It isn’t a massive salary, but it will suffice for my needs and there is a chance that I can get some other work giving presentations and holding poetry or creative writing workshops to supplement my income.  All I can say about this is to repeat what I am learning in the course my new boss has laid out, called “The Bright Future Program” by Bill MacPhee, is that you have to be persistent, you have to find something you love, you have to work towards getting opportunities and be able to ask people for help, you need a good work ethic and there is almost no end to what you can accomplish, whether you have an addiction or mental health issue or you are just not satisfied with your life.

Well, I will leave off there.  There may be some of you out there who want more information about this program, and some who either suffer from a mental health issue or have a family member who does, I would encourage you to write to me.  There is a good chance I will have a place in one of our magazines to tell your story, we do pay contributors, and I am always willing to help people with mental health issues in any way I can.  Email me at viking3082000@yahoo.com and stay happy, stay healthy!

Leif Gregersen