Month: June 2016

You Might Think I’m Crazy

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This is another beautiful picture from Jasper National Park.  I love this photo.

(please scroll down past today’s poem for today’s blog)

As Far as I Can Go

 

In younger days I dreamed of far off places

These images ruled my waking thought

One day I would meet new minds, new faces

Somehow the dreams stopped and I forgot

 

The years went racing past for me

Promised too many more than I had

I realized I would never be free

Trying to please others, make them glad

 

I had made good money, done good things

But inside I was a broken man

Too much giving away only brings

People further from their plans

 

Then all at once a moment came

That changed my life once more

By a simple realization I was back in the game

Soon packed and ready, soon out the door

 

I took my camera, took some jeans

My passport and a little cash

I wasn’t rich by any means

But there was enough in my stash

 

I journeyed across the country first

Why not see first what you have precious and free

The thrill of locomotion nearly made me burst

I could not believe this was happening to me

 

Then I travelled over oceans

Jetted through the skies above

I loved just being in motion

I met so many people that I loved

 

Take the time I beg you

To see another place

Experience the different, new

Life is a journey, not a race

 

Leif Gregersen

As Time Moves On, The News Keeps Getting Better

Good day, dear readers!  I am so excited to be up and writing this blog, things seem to be going incredibly well for me lately.  I have been entering contests and writing short stories, I sent off a manuscript the other day, and I think things are really going in a good direction.  It looks like a busy summer ahead for me, I have three presentations to give for the Schizophrenia Society, where I give a talk about mental health, then relate my own story for a while and then answer questions.  I am headed off to a high school for two of these and a business college for the third.  These people I present to treat me really well and often buy books or even give small gifts like a pen set or t-shirt.  Once I even got an umbrella and I am running out of room for all the coffee mugs I have been given.  The other thing I have to do in July, other than cash the cheque I got for winning the 24-hour short story contest I placed #1 in, is to teach a class in creative writing to some high school students at a special summer University program.

I Really Seem To Have Come A Long Way

It is almost hard to believe that just a few short years ago, though I was making good money, I was working a job I didn’t like and I had just put out my first book and was greatly disappointed at the response to it.  A good friend of mine told me not to worry, I had just put it out and here it is four or five years later and things are going so well I can hardly imagine what life was like before.  One of the coolest things I did this year was to go to my old hometown library and give an hour talk and reading from my work to a group of adults.  Also, I had the incredible thrill of winning a ‘Story Slam’ and $130.00 in cash in April.  Again, and again I am finding that things will come to those who are hard working, honest and patient.  It has taken me five years now to get to the point where I can work on my writing full-time, travel (like I just did to London, England and will soon be doing to go to Toronto and possibly the Northwest Territories) and really enjoy my life.

There Were So Many Ways I Could Have Lost My Way But I Didn’t

I have to admit that along the way there were a lot of distractions that could have derailed my efforts.  Things like gambling, the urge to go back to drinking or smoking, urges to spend money on ridiculous things or get back into high risk investing (which would have led to gambling and, ultimately, my destruction).  But I stayed the course and it is really paying off. A lot of the great things that have happened, I feel I owe to the teachings of Buddhism in a way.  I have spent a lot of time in meditation and tried very hard not to be a materialist and when you have no desire to accumulate possessions, it becomes very easy to live within your means.  An even larger part of who I am today has to do with attending a Catholic Church (though I am still not yet a Catholic) and trying to care for people and always do the right thing.

A Man With Nothing Helped Teach Me Kindness Yesterday

Just yesterday I walked outside my house and a man was sitting up against the door to my garage (I share a house with two roommates) and at first it made me angry.  It was raining, and if it hadn’t been, I may have gone and asked him to go somewhere else.  I went on walking to get my supper and I realized that this person was probably wet, likely going to get sick and had some kind of terrible trauma in his life that led him to this point.  It wasn’t much at all, but I went back inside, got a brand new poncho I had bought for my trip to London and scraped together some change to give him, which I did with both things.  I told him to get something to eat but I noticed that he was drinking beer and I tried to warn him that he could get into trouble for open liquor.  I felt really kind of useless because the guy was already wet, and it was likely not only that he would spend the money I gave him on more beer, but also that he was hoping that he would be put in jail because it would be a better life than living out on the street.  It really was heartbreaking.  Anyhow, if anyone out there could send this poor man a good thought or a prayer I would appreciate it, I am going to leave you with a picture from London and hope all of you have a great day, depressing story or not.

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Six Under, Five Over. Welcome to Hell

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Here is a slightly lopsided picture from my trip.  Some may recognize it, it is Buckingham Palace, home of Queen Elizabeth in London, England.

(please look past poem for today’s blog entry)

Six Under

I thought if I ate enough greens
Took vitamin C every day
And not just the chewable tasty ones
It’s not easy you know
Swallowing all those healthy pills
Odorless garlic and B complex
I had honestly thought if I spent a fortune
On all the healthiest of things
Plus went for a walk each morning
Did a little yoga when I could
And let’s not forget recycle everything

That I could avoid it

When I say it I mean death

Grim cold death has choked me
Taken my breath away
I had tried to be a nice guy
I stopped my car for pedestrians
Wore sweaters
Talked to old people
Asked unattractive girls to dance
I thought that would be enough
That somehow it would pass me by
But here I am dead
Having never seen the north or south pole
Never having toured America
On a Harley Davidson
But in all honesty I’m happier now
I didn’t like bean sprouts and kale
Spinach made me a little sick
It’s so much better
Six under
Leif Gregersen
June 26, 2016

     Good day, dear readers!  I see I have lost two followers, let’s see if I can gain them back with some effort and good blogging.  Things have been going well for me and I have been going through some intense ordeals.  The first big ordeal was travelling all by myself to London, England as you may have gathered from the photo above.  It was the most amazing trip of my life, though I did get some anxiety over different things such as rough weather when I was flying and the extremely long time it took to get to London.

At first, I thought London seemed a bit old and dirty, but when I got nearer the heart of the city I discovered it is still very much alive and vibrant.  It was interesting to see places that I have put into writing such as my two young adult novels (“In the Blink of an Eye” and “Those Who Dare To Dream”).  The first thing I had to do when I hit town was to ride a train for an hour to the place where I was staying.  I stayed in a Hostel called Clink 261 which was the best Hostel I have ever experienced.  They put on a free breakfast, they kept the place fastidiously clean, there was a TV room and lockers, it really was top notch, and it was located close to a lot of great stuff.

I had some difficulties being around so many people, in the Hostel and in the street.  London is a place teeming with human life of every imaginable variety.  People driving cars at breakneck speed on the wrong side of the road, people lining up just to buy a newspaper or cup of coffee, tons of people packed in subway or ‘underground’ trains flying all over the place also at top speed and of course a plane lands in London about every 3 minutes I was told.

What I liked best was Trafalgar Square, not only for the sentimentality of visiting it as a kid many years ago, but also because of its central location and numerous monuments, the most prominent being the one on a pedastal of Lord Horatio Nelson who died in the battle of Trafalgar where he defeated Napoleon’s Forces.  I also visited the Imperial War Museum and soaked up all that I could and then discovered that it was once a mental hospital and nearly got sick looking at films of men come back from the first world war.

Another thing that I really enjoyed (I think I will post a photo below for you) was the British Museum.  I didn’t see nearly what I wanted to, but I was impressed by a lot of things in the British Museum, especially King Edward III’s personal library.  (here’s  a photo below:)

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The library was incredibly ornate, very well lit by natural light, packed with artifacts, statues and stacked on both walls floor to ceiling with books, most of them at least 300 years old.  The place was bigger than a lot of shopping malls I have been to and was all the property of just one man, at a time when the Royal Navy had gone 180 some years without giving its sailors a pay raise and children were working at the age of 10 in slave-like conditions to feed the Empire and its war machine.  I am not against Britain when I say this, it was just the feeling that I had.  In a way I think it was almost a good thing for situations like that to happen because the result of it now many years later is that the people have taken over things like Edward III’s library and use it to further the knowledge of mankind.  If one man didn’t amass all of these books, who knows, maybe science would not be as far along as it is.  I couldn’t help but fantasize a bit while I wandered through this great hall as to what my place would have been in the days that Edward III was still alive.  I suppose I would be a farmer in Denmark, and not likely a very wealthy one.  Enough speculation for one day, I am sure I am boring my good readers.  Please pass the word about this blog, I think that with a present state of insomnia I will be making a lot more entries in the next little while.  Please comment if you like my poem above.

A Journey Through The Looking Glass

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Beautiful shot of a little friend at the park near Westmount and Ross Sheppard High

 

Follow this link to read the short story I wrote which won me first prize out of 500 contestants in a 24-hour short story contest!       Leif’s Winning Story

Here is today’s poem:     (please scroll past the poem to read today’s blog)

 

One Simple Moment

I never thought my dreams could all come true

And my greatest dream was just laying next to you

 

A simple life, a home, a car, a chld

Having it with you would have been so wild

 

But at the worst time that I could, I made a bad mistake

And when I tried to win you back it all seemed so fake

 

Life has a way of working out for the best

Even when it seems we’re being put to the test

 

I lost my perfect lover perfect wife

So I decided to take a new look at my life

 

Posessions I thought I once wanted more than anything

Meant nothing when you wouldn’t wear my ring

 

And so I sought long and hard to fill the hole

That was left in me when you were no longer my goal

 

The simple poet’s life is now what I seek

Precious moments sitting meditating by a creek

 

Love is still but goal but of a different kind

Love from the heart of hearts the soul of the mind

 

I have many friends now who love my words and work

I’m so far past the man you knew who could often be a jerk

 

I’m not writing this to convince you to return

I just hope you can see these words and somehow learn

 

Life isn’t just a race from birth to death

Stop your ambitious striving open your mind and take a breath

 

I pray that in this moment you will see

Though I have always loved you I am now free

 

Striving for things will never satisfy a forlorn soul

Let life’s beautiful and simple things be your goal

  

Leif Gregersen

May 31, 2016

 

Well, Dear Readers, I have to say I am kind of flying on a cloud today.  Some weeks ago I entered a short story contest where you are given a prompt to write from and you have 24 hours to come up with the best story you can.  Yesterday the winners were announced and to my incredible surprise I came in first!  Living with a mental illness, a person often gets discouraged.  I have to admit that when I entered this contest I thought very little of it, I was entering just to help sharpen my skills, I didn’t even think I would place in the top 50.  But somehow I managed to write something special that stood out among the pack.  I have won things before, a few years back I won a short story contest put on by a local book chain for which I got $250 in book credit, a prize I loved getting.  Even this Spring I was awarded honorable mention in a serious contest and though I only got $25 for my placement, I was awarded publication and a nice plaque I hung on the wall.

Winning this contest really couldn’t have come at a better time.  I have been working a new job for three months and I just found out the magazine is not going to be in production anymore and that there is no time frame on when I will get paid.  This came just as I am about to leave on a trip overseas.  Luckily I had some savings and other resources or I would have had to cancel.  I don’t know what relevance all this has to people with a mental illness, I actually have been learning a lot from the boss I no longer am working for.  He said in a course he produced himself called “The Bright Futures Program” that unless a person finds something to do they will continue to be in and out of the hospital for the rest of their days.  It can be really hard, sometimes a person does their best to take medications but so many things sidetrack them.  Even peer pressure is a factor, I had a cousin who tried to convince me that pot would cure my bipolar rather than lithium which was preposterous.  It is almost likely that pot was a trigger for my illness, someone with a family history of mental illness (or anyone whose brain has not yet fully grown) shouldn’t touch the stuff, this is information right from Doctors who have spent years specializing in the brain.  But along with peer pressure, there are many reasons people stop their medication, though I think the most important one is that they perceive their life as better without their pills.  I honestly think though, if a person slowly pushes themselves back towards being functional, taking pills will be something they want to do to keep their good mental health despite side effects or other problems.

How can a person do this?  I started with bowling.  I loved to bowl and was fairly good at it.  I soon found that when I worked out a bit, be it a short swim, a long walk or weights, I got better at bowling.  I admit that now I don’t bowl nearly as much as I would like, but other hobbies have taken over.  I have always loved photography and my Dad and I started going and getting pictures of wildlife in parks (as you may have seen above).  I kept getting better and better cameras and now I enter contests and sometimes even get paid up to $50 an hour to take photos for people.  Would I chance that opportunity to have incredible photography equipment, make good money and do what I love because there are some side effects to my pills?  No way!  I hope that anyone who is going through this problem can see me as a person who slowly worked his way up to something and did it by listening to his Doctors, his treatment team and worked hard to make a good life and a good future for himself.  As always, though it seems no one out there reads this blog to the end, I want to be here for anyone who wants to talk.  Feel free to email me at viking3082000@yahoo.com and let’s be careful out there!

Leif Gregersen