edmonton

Stress Management For Those With Mental Health Problems

(Please scroll past photo and poem for today’s blog 🙂

Love Poem

 

Not one of us will leave this world alive

We must show love to those we care for every day

Think upon all the things for which you strive

 

Do you think too much about the car you drive

Do you care about what others see and say

Not one of us will leave this world alive

 

There is truly just one way to thrive

One must give from deep within in every way

Think upon the things for which you strive

 

Caring, loving, giving is the only way to derive

A life with a special beauty like a grand ballet

Not one of us will leave this world alive

 

Sometimes into dark waters we must dive

Knowing nothing, only being able to pray

Think upon the things for which you strive

 

Give up plotting, planning, please don’t connive

For each thing you take you will be made to pay

Not one of us will leave this world alive

Think upon the things for which you strive

When dealing with a mental health issue, stress can be your worst enemy. I want to write today about some of the ways I deal with stress, which can be all boiled down to setting boundaries.

One of my favourite Canadian authors, Margaret Laurence, mentioned in an interview I watched that she only writes about 2 hours a day and can’t manage more. I don’t know if Margaret ever suffered from a mental illness, but I have found this to be a good rule of thumb. While I feel it is really important to write every day, and that doing so will definitely make you a better writer, I try to maximize my screen time to about 2 hours a day. Sometimes I do less, and often when I am deep in the trance of writing something I enjoy writing, I do more. Of course, again I want to mention that one of the best therapeutic things a person can do is to write in a journal that they don’t let anyone see. It is such a great way to express yourself and to let out things. In a way, I like it that writing in a journal each day gives me a gauge to see how I am improving overall.

The next thing that I feel is good for stress is exercise. For a long time after my last hospital admission, my Dad would drive to where I was staying and take me to the beautiful Edmonton River Valley for a long walk. I was a smoker at the time and couldn’t handle anything much more strenuous than that, but it got me into better shape, a better state of mind, was an outlet for my extra energy, and led to me being able to find a paid job eventually.

Work is definitely something a person has to consider when they are in recovery mode from a mental illness. I honestly think that if you have just gotten out of a hospital or have just made the decision to start looking for work, you really need to take some time to feel 100% before venturing out and getting a job. I started with a job that was very easy, working as a security guard. I had a hard time with some employers either sending me to assignments that were too stressful or asking me to work too many hours, but there are  a lot of jobs out there for those who want to transition back into the workplace. My security guard job kind of sucked, the pay wasn’t very good and it often wasn’t healthy for me to stay up all night drinking coffee and trying to get what sleep I could. Soon though, I found a rhythm and was able to lift weight and swim and also work my job and I was ‘scouted’ to work as a security guard in the film industry and made leaps and bounds more than what I used to make and got into a union that greatly benefitted me over the next few years. Some other jobs that are low stress could be working in a gas station as a cashier, working as a dishwasher, and many others. Just remember you won’t be doing this forever, this is just to get you out of the house and make a little extra money. Better jobs will come your way if you are conscientious about your work.

Another way to make a transition back to the work world is to volunteer. In Edmonton where I live there is a company called the volunteer network and you simply approach them with your skills and they find a place for you. This is a great way to get experience, self-respect, friendships and much more.

The last thing I wanted to mention that I do to deal with stress is keeping my schedule as open as I can, only making firm commitments for a few days a week. I work for the Schizophrenia Society now and give presentations to many different groups about mental illness. I have had the incredible privilege of speaking in front of lecture halls full of students, among many other groups as diverse as junior high schools to Edmonton City Police Recruits. But I only book 2-3 assignments and then keep things open so I am free to go to the pool or the library or for a long walk whenever I want. I guess on a final note, I want to offer the suggestion that you try and live beneath your means, whatever they are and save as much as you can so that you can enrich your life with travel at least once or twice a year. A really good trip can give you a lifetime of memories and a lot of happiness and joy in the present.

 

Riding the Wave–“But I get the most work done when I’m manic!”

best-full-moon-ever

            Shot of the moon using my Nikon D3300 and a Nikkor 55-300mm lens, touched up with Lightroom by Adobe

Mania, depression, and delusions. What can pills help, and what do you need to watch out for yourself? (poem to follow this blog)

So it is the worst time of the year for just about everyone. Kids have to go back to school after just a 2-week taste of freedom and being lavished with candy canes and gifts by family. People who work in sectors like trades find that most of their customers spent all their money on Christmas and there is a big slowdown. The worst part? Suicides. Some may think that Christmas is the worst for suicides, but I have uncovered some information that may prove that January is the worst month for suicides. I can see why. I have been doing well in my recovery from mental illness for some time now, I was able to take some college courses, I took a University course last year and actually finished it. I have set up jobs and public appearances and have been working for the schizophrenia society. I sometimes wonder if I’ve been a little manic. I haven’t had delusional thinking much, but I have been finding myself increasingly troubled with sleeping memories of being in the hospital, likely because I now live in an apartment building rather than a house and I never liked the people who used to come around in the hospital and shine a flashlight in your eyes to see if you were sleeping. The flashlight almost always woke me up.

What I have been noticing is the early signs of depression creeping up. I don’t know about other places, but where I live there is only about 8 hours of daylight this time of year and sometimes lately if I have nothing to do or if it is oppressively cold outside (as it almost always is, -22 right now) I will sleep all night and then sleep all day. Then, at times like this when by all rights I should be going back to sleep, I get up and work on my writing. Today I was taken away from this pursuit because I learned the moon was full, and so I hauled out my camera and took the above picture among others. I don’t really know what to do about my depression. It has to do with a lot of things I am sure, including the diminished sunlight, the fact that I have a lot of time on my hands and that I have been isolating myself too much. My doctor has offered to increase my anti-depressant and I think I will call tomorrow to get an appointment and do so.

I am also thinking that with everything that has been happening, it is time to bite the bullet and go and see a counselor. For months I have been looking at the wall in the office of my apartment building and there is a list of free counselors there. What it all comes down to is taking care of myself. If I leave things too long I will pay the consequences. Just like needing a dentist or an optometrist, and going to them before you are in pain or blind, I really want to try therapy. From what I understand, therapy can be very effective for people with mental illnesses, though it is important that one stabilize their condition with proper medication before going to it. One of the things that makes me feel worried about what has been going on is my departed mother. When she died at 63 she still hadn’t gotten a handle on her mental illness and it was very severe. My mom had done so many things, from being a credit union manager to nearly getting a full scholarship to University. She tried so very hard and kept getting beaten down by one thing or another. I can see my mom in my brother and sister and myself in many ways. It really was a sad thing that her life had gone so poorly for her, and even at the end she struggled with her medications, moods and psychosis. One of the things she did back then was to see a psychologist and I learned to my surprise that she often talked about her mother, who had passed away about 20 years before my mom did. In many ways I feel pretty lucky that there are medications that help me deal with my own psychosis and mood swings, and do a pretty good job of it. With that, I will leave you with a poem and wish you all another week or so of good health and happiness, which is about the amount of time that will pass before I blog again.

 

Last Best Chance

My love I am always thinking of you

And how I have feelings that are true

I just don’t know how to say them out loud

 

In the dark deep night my mind begins to race

As I worry, fret and pace

Nothing seems to please me anymore

 

The first time I ever saw your face

Even my loneliness could never erase

The loveliness I saw deep inside your eyes

 

Each day that passes finds me here

With no friends or lover near

The only one I have to blame is me

 

There were many loves in my younger days

And I pursued them in my own weird ways

Never understanding I could ever end up alone

 

Plus I had so many true, close friends

On whom I always thought I could depend

But hard times took most of those away from me

 

I’ve been desperate and depressed

Sought forgiveness and went to be blessed

But found out it came down to not loving you enough

 

From the first day my life had begun

Fate made you the only one

I could have ever asked to be my true soul mate

 

So I ask if you could read these simple words

And not feel sad, scared or disturbed

I know you care for me just as I care for you

 

Things happen to each and every one

But you were always so loving and fun

Please forgive and take me in your arms again

 

I won’t make any promises to you

Except that each day will feel happy, fresh and new

Please tell me if you will, I just can’t wait

 

Too many years have already passed

You’ve always been the first and last

Give your love to me we’re each other’s last best chance

 

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

Story Slam and New Camera Day

DSC_0146Photo taken near my house with my brand new Nikon Camera

Today’s Blog:

     Well, I wonder what my growing list of regular readers would like to hear about today.  Last night I went to a ‘story slam’ competition and got up in front of a large crowd of people and recited a five minute story I wrote about my mom’s passing.  It was something that affected me greatly, I think I will post the story here for anyone to have a look at:

A TRIBUTE:

Mother. Mama. Mommy. Mom. So many names for the same thing, that one special person in all of our lives, in the lives of everyone here, everyone that ever lived has had a mother. Mine is no more.

 

The Catholics consider Mary Mother of Jesus to be the first Saint. She was the first one close enough to our Lord to appeal to him when wine ran out at a wedding. When the time came for me to perform a miracle for my Mom, I was unable.

 

It was six or seven years ago. My Dad was far away in Toronto at my sister’s wedding and I was taking care of my mom. At 63 she had just about everything go wrong with her that could. In her day, my Mother had been a bank manager, she had been an expeditor for a rail company. She had been her first family’s sole support at 16 and nearly earned herself a full scholarship to University. All she had wanted in life was to become a teacher, but she had to satisfy herself with teaching three kids.

 

Life and medications had taken so much out of her. My mom had turned from an intelligent and active adult to a child in a 63 year-old body. I had to answer to her every call, be it for her meals, for help to go to the bathroom, or even just to bring cold water. As I did these things, I thought of all she did for me and tried so hard to keep having patience.

 

One day, she called my name. The name only she could get away using. “Leify!” she said. Leify. Me, her little boy, the one she had carried and loved and spoiled.   And now she needed me.

 

I went in to see what was wrong. Her arms were flailing but she wasn’t speaking. I felt cruel and cold as I looked at her, tried to explain I didn’t know what she wanted. I put my hand to her chest and somehow I realized she wasn’t breathing. I don’t know how much time went by, but in what seemed like hours and at the same time like split seconds I had dialed 911. “Do you know CPR?” the operator asked. Yes, I have taken it many times, in boy scouts, in air cadets, I had read about it, even watched it performed once on a heart attack victim.

 

“No.” I had to reply. It had been too long, and this was my mom who wasn’t breathing. They told me to lay her flat on the floor. This I did, wondering how much damage I was doing to the back that suffered from crushed vertebrae and osteoporosis. I made a seal on her lips and blew, still being able to taste her last dose of medicine on her lips. I pushed on her chest a few times then tried to breathe life into her again. Nothing was happening.

 

In no time the paramedics were there. There was a lot of them, they crowded into my parent’s small apartment, pounded her chest and put a breathing bag over her mouth. They tried so desperately hard but nothing was helping. One of the paramedics told me she could still hear me, to not be embarrassed, to say what I wanted to her. “We all love you mom.” Is all I can remember saying. “We all love you mom.”

 

I was given a ride to the hospital and the paramedic explained that there was no hope to be had. At the hospital this was confirmed. I had to make a decision. She was brain dead and breathing through artificial methods. Her pain, her joy, her suffering, her crying fits and bedsores were all over now. I told them they could take her off life support.

 

It really was a beautiful thing, to be with someone when your end comes. Her breathing slowed, then stopped. I looked in her eyes and they seemed so alive, so real, I wanted to cry out that she wasn’t gone, that there was still a spark in her, but she was gone no matter how alive she seemed. I went into a waiting room, was given access to a phone and called my Dad to tell him my mom had died-on my watch.

 

It was discovered she had died of choking. Complications of acid reflux. Her and I shared a malady, the one that makes us take medications, we both had Bipolar Disorder. It gave us a special bond but it was also eating away at our souls and some of our vital body systems. My last true friend was gone, my mom. Three more days and she had an appointment to fix her throat. She didn’t have to die. She was a victim of waiting lists. I was a victim of guilt for many months.

 

My family goes on. My sister married and she has a child, a wonderful little child who had loved her grandmother. I look in her eyes and it warms my heart when she tells me she wants to grow up to be a teacher. Sometimes she cries because she misses her gramma. Now, I still reach for the phone when I want to talk to her, then I remember and pray to her instead. She can’t respond, but I know she can hear me. I know because when we visit her resting place I can feel her tears in the rain and her whispers in the wind. She will be in my heart forever.

CONTINUATION OF BLOG:

The story I read was just slightly different from how it appears here.  It must have been pretty powerful because when I got off the stage I noticed that three women were in tears.  One of them was one of the contest judges and she gave me the only 10 our of 10 of the night, though I didn’t win the competition.  Grieving a loss is a funny experience.  There have been times in my life when I was greatly worried that I was some kind of Psychopath or Sociopath, but after experiencing my mom’s death I realized that I do have a lot of compassion and feeling in me, I think I just register it differently.  The whole experience hit me from a blind side.  On the day my mom died I only cried one tear, as I held her hand after life support was taken off.  I was comforted that I was there with her, comforted that my name was the last thing she said.  I felt horrible for my Dad, worse for my brother and worse still for my sister who will always be reminded of her loss on her wedding anniversary.  I found myself doing odd things after my mom passed, I would lay in bed and say “mom” over and over again, I was in a bit of a fog of depression.  Now, seven years later, I feel a lot better about the whole thing.  My mom was the kind of person who made you feel very wanted, very needed.  I found my life somewhat lacking in purpose after she was gone.  I will never forget a friend of hers and an old teacher of mine who came to one of my book signings and said, “Your mom would be so proud.”  That meant a lot, but of course there was still the hurt that she never saw me publish a book and my mom dearly loved books.  I think though I will have to leave off there for now, it is early morning in Edmonton and I am extremely tired from lack of sleep.  Thanks so much for all those who have been liking my page and joining up, I hope you are getting your money’s worth out of reading my blog and that it moves you enough that you check out my eBooks and paperbacks.  All the best Dear Readers!

DSC_0038                    Downtown Edmonton’s Hustle and Bustle at Lunch Time Midwinter

 

More About Writing, Less About Poetry

DSCF5641                                              SUNRISE JUST OUTSIDE MY BACK DOOR

Hello dear readers.  It has been a couple of days since I posted anything and I don’t really know what to write at first.  I had a long talk with my sister, who has her Masters Degree in Education and she has been encouraging me to focus more on short stories and magazine/newspaper articles rather than poetry.  I don’t really know how to take this, for some time I have felt something lacking in my poetry.  One thing I do know is that if I want to publish poetry or have any success getting a book sized collection going, I can’t use anything I post here.  I think from time to time I will try and post some poetry though, but while I am in this thinking stage I am going to refrain.  I find though that I really love taking pictures (I just purchased a brand new $500 camera) and so I have no problem continuing with those efforts.  I also can put together blogs without any worries of copyrights or publishing problems, so I want to go on with that.  I think I should start writing in themes though.  One of the things I would most like to do is to help other writers who may be starting out, so to that end I am going to put after the second photo for today a copy of an article I wrote which was turned down, but still has some very useful information.  I would love feedback on what anyone thinks of it.

Perhaps one of the themes I could work on could be some of the interesting people I have met.  For some odd reason I am reminded right now of a 28 year-old African American I met while traveling the United States at age 19.  I had been living in truck stops, trying to hustle a ride from anyone who showed any sign or indication that they were going North to Vancouver, BC or anywhere in Canada for that matter.  I was outside enjoying a cool, crisp morning and looking out at the sand colored mountains of Southern California when I started talking with this guy (damned if I can’t remember his name) and he told me that he had thought of pursuing a career as a minister.  He seemed like a good guy to count as a friend in an otherwise unfriendly place, so I decided to hang out with him.  Him and I went to a shelter in the nearby town and got a meal, some clothes and an offer of a place to stay and work to be had.  For the most part my new friend was extremely entertaining, he told me stories that nearly made me split my gut laughing, but then out of seemingly nowhere he started to talk about a rape and a murder he had been an accessory to and it really freaked me out.  One of the scary things about big American cities is that by weight of sheer numbers a lot more people slip through the cracks of what is considered normal in Canadian cities and can end up being pretty scary.  I really wanted to get away from this guy, but I didn’t see any potential harm in hanging around with him for a while though the bells should have gone off way earlier.  Those were strange times, I remember when I got home from that horrible trip that I had two blisters each the size and thickness of a silver dollar on each foot thanks to the boots I was wearing.

Well, I am going to leave off things there.  Anyone who finds this little bit of a story interesting is encouraged to read more about this and other misadventures I experienced in my two books, “Through The Withering Storm” and “Inching Back To Sane” which are under the heading, ‘books’ in the menu of this website, both paperback and e-book formats.  As mentioned, I am putting an article I wrote below the photo, please leave any comments you like

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ARTICLE ON WRITING:

Writing is simple. Pen a document, print it up, send it away and get rich. Sorry, nowhere near that easy. Stephen King once said that if you can write something, get it published, get paid for it and the check clears, you are a writer. Cool! But where do you start?

 

Perhaps you are just starting out. Start with a good computer. I prefer a Mac Mini that I use only for writing and I have Microsoft Word on it, whick is considered the industry standard. An option is to download a program called OpenOffice which is compatable at www.openoffice.org for free.

 

Where do you go from there?   “The Writer’s Market 20–” is essential. Check it out at www.WritersMarket.com where you can sign up for their newsletter and get other information. The book, at around $30.00 US contains query letter templates, advice for writers, and tons of addresses of everything from agents to publishers and many magazines. It gives you almost all the facts you need, from who to address your query to, right down to how to get back issues (always try to read a publication before you submit to it) and what the magazine pays.

 

Now that you have the essentials, or are able to beg, borrow or use other creative methods to utilize them, start reading. Read, read read! Look for ‘short story’ stickers on fiction books in your library and check them out and devour them. Read magazines, literary and otherwise (read them in the library to save $$). Sometimes I will take a bus route that adds an hour to my morning commute just to have the time to tune out and read.

 

Magazines can be a great way to start your career. I started making money with magazines simply by browsing through a copy of Writer’s Market and coming up with ideas to query them with. Not all of the magazines took my offer, but I can safely say I have added a few thousand to my bottom line just from part-time freelancing.

 

Something important is to start getting your name known, and start getting your list of publications growing. I still love volunteering for my community newspaper for free because I have fun doing, it connects me with my neighbors and it gives me more clippings each month to add to my growing pile. Not to mention I feel the experience makes me a better writer. Don’t worry that at first you will get low paying or non-paying work, it all benefits you in the long run.

 

Something else I do is sit down and write a short story when I feel moved, or a poem. Every few months I these together into a book and have them printed up at www.createspace.com which is an imprint of Amazon. For the cost of a few hundred dollars for 50 or 100 copies, I get the extreme joy of seeing my name in print on a real book. I take copies to independent bookstores, I set up signings at places as varied as Farmer’s Markets and Hospital Gift Shops. It’s all on a small scale, but as time goes by, my list of guaranteed customers grows and presently, two of my books are being evaluated by distributors and another is being considered by a publisher. Will either of these make me rich? Not likely, success can be a long journey for a writer, it may never come, but I can assure you that the path is a rewarding one financially, emotionally and in a general feeling of happiness of having accomplished something truly worthwhile.

A Photo, A Blog, A Way To Help, A Way To Give

 

 

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This is a shot from one of the nicest parks we have in Edmonton, and we really have some nice parks.  If anyone has purchased my poetry book, “Poems From Inside Me” They will see on the front cover a gull spreading it’s wings as it flies over this small body of water.  Today is a little windy, a little cold and very wet and slushy, almost like a Spring day, but normally we are around minus 20 celsius at this time of year.  I could have posted a picture of Hawaii, but I figured it would warm my heart a bit more to see a place here when it is nice.  I think in many ways Edmonton’s summer is nicer than Hawaii, mostly because it doesn’t get as hot, it isn’t as muggy when it is hot and there are much more daylight hours than tropical locations because Edmonton is so far North.

I wanted to shake things up a bit today with the blog because I have been hard at work on a few things and just haven’t got the energy to compose a fresh poem.  I think I will post a ‘used’ poem on the page, as always I welcome feedback.  What I have been up to is setting up a crowdfunding web page with the hopes of raising $750.00 (already $50 has been generously donated) which I will use to hire an illustrator for a comic book script I have written, and hopefully this will help cover printing costs as well. I have a couple of rare opportunities, one is that I have gotten a part-time job where I will be going to schools and other classroom settings and talking about my life experiences with mental illness, and though I have two books on the subject, I don’t know if they will help teens much, partly because not all teens are into regular books, and not all teens can afford regular books.  So my idea is to print up and distribute this comic in these settings, and by some million to one shot, I was sent an email asking for proposals for presentations at a conference in California on mental health and comic books.  Can you believe it?  There really has to be some kind of major intelligent guiding force in this Universe.  Anyhow, anyone interested can check out my crowdfunding page at: http://www.gofundme.com/oneinfive1in5

I think what I am going to do is to post a video from Youtube I made below here, it is a narration of me walking through the mental hospital I was sent to as an 18 year-old and last left some 13 years ago at the age of 29.  Pardon if the first little while is boring, I decided to keep it because as I went towards the hospital on the bus a young woman started a conversation with me that seemed relevant.  Look for todays (used) poem below the video.  Actually, what the heck, I will put in three short poems, I had entered them in a contest to appear on the bus but they weren’t accepted.

 

The Truth of The Matter

 

The gentle blackbird asking nothing of anyone

A shiny object with which to line his nest, a little food

He reminds me of the young man I saw some years back

A thin shock of dark hair, a lust for life

A sincere smile, a shirt indicating his military unit

The blackbird is known all around the neighborhood

The young man seems the type to have many friends

I weep for my blackbird friend and this nameless young soldier

Both of them have been alone and in pain

Both of them must face life with just one leg

 

 

More Than a Scavenger

 

Someone once told me birds aren’t very smart

And yet I will never tire of marveling at their beauty

Even the simple gulls can soar and glide

Press their perfectly arrayed wings against the air

With just the right energy to carry themselves skyward

Once, in a place where many are old and forgotten

I felt generous and threw a pizza crust to a gull

It was too stiff for him to eat and he carried it

Over to a puddle and soaked it until it was softer

Bird-brain. Bah!

 

 

Hawrelak Park

 

I once saw a deer in my city

Those big eyes seemingly glowing

This gentle creature more beautiful

Than any made-up model

It’s slim legs ready to flee

At the sound of an unkind foe

It looked at me, looked at me

And somehow for a moment

I could see her soul; her sad tired soul

Longing for rest and peacefulness

In a city full of meat eaters

 

 

Late Night/Early Morning Thoughts of a Princess of Old

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This is a beautiful statue behind my favourite building, the Library!

Hello all my dear readers!  Well, it is only 7:00am but it looks like my day is off to a great start!  I just had a chance to read a great article about myself published in my home town newspaper.  It mentions my website, my new ‘gofundme’ campaign (I am trying to raise $750 to fund a community health graphic novel/comic book about mental health issues at http://www.gofundme.com/oneinfive1in5).  It even has a picture of my new poetry book, “Stargazer: My Life in Constellations”.  I have to apologize because I haven’t yet put a link for that book on this website or set it up so those who aren’t rich can get it in a cheaper ebook format.  Look for both in the coming week.

Today I am heading over to the University Hospital to set up a book signing at the gift shop.  I always like going there because I sell a few books and then they buy a few more to sell on their shelves.  I can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel where I won’t have to worry so much about working as a stage hand.  I love the work, but it can be extremely strenuous and dangerous.  Just the other day I had to walk on some two inch metal slats eight floors above a stage that were spaced about two inches apart.  No real danger, but freaky!!

I have been considering taking my next vacation to Mexico.  The only thing that worries me about going is that cigarettes and booze are going to be so cheap I don’t know if I can keep my clean living promise to myself.  I would really like to tour some ruins and swim in the Atlantic, I have already checked some prices and places to stay.  Might end up later in the year than I thought I would go though, which would be fine.  I have high hopes right now that I am going to get published in Esprit De Corps magazine with a story I did on a battle during the Korean war at a place called Kap’yong where a small group of Canadians distinguished themselves by holding off some 3,000 Chinese troops.  I have also put out a few more proposals to magazines, they can be really great paying or really lousy.  One article I wrote they weren’t going to pay me anything and so I whined and complained and they decided to shoot me a few bucks for the effort.  I should warn any aspiring writers out there that when it comes to getting paid, you really have to be patient sometimes, even for magazine work.  I have had to wait up to a year for some markets to pay, but the majority of editors are really good.  The vast majority.

Once again, I want to let everyone know that I welcome any comments they wish to make.  If we can get this blog a little more active I will start having contests and give-aways.  First to answer a simple question gets a signed book delivered and so on.  Any writers out there?  I would love to follow your blog, just leave a comment and let me know who you are.

Look for today’s poem below today’s photo!!

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Here’s a nice shot of a cruise ship from the Big Island in Hawaii

Princess

 

In the darkness in morning I awake

And a brisk walk I always like to take

Down the frozen streets of my northern home

If the stars are out I don’t feel alone

 

The sky is my companion as I go

Walking here does me more good than I know

The air is clean and crisp the streets all mine

Renews my spirit more than sacred wine

 

I like my neighbors; I love all my friends

But on these moonlit walks my soul depends

Walking for me is meditating too

It’s so much more than just something to do

 

I need to walk and focus all my thought

I need to unlearn all my day has taught

In this city one tends to worry much

And more when you have no lover’s sweet touch

 

As I walk far I walk through my head too

And banish all my memories of you

God take me now if I can’t do the task

Some peace and strength to live is all I ask

 

I love someone who does not care for me

My meditation walks sets me free

But like all good things it too has to end

And then all those longings come back again

 

In every life some pain will come for sure

And sadly time can be the only cure

The best advice I got is to have fun

And know first love is not the only one

 

In my heart I want to be loyal still

But you can’t change a mind by force of will

The sad thing is I did not know her well

Though her smile could send you to burn in hell

 

A perfect face and lovely golden hair

Men would always see her and stop and stare

How I ever thought she could have liked me

Folks must still consider a mystery

 

So now I walk and count my breaths and think

About how life can sometimes really stink

One thing I can say that I know for sure

I now have a new girl and I love her

 

Maybe the Princess would have been a trial

I just can’t stop thinking about her smile

My new love was meant only to be mine

And in reality she’s just as fine

 

We always want what we can never get

I feel though that I owe a holy debt

I have four limbs, two eyes, a heart and mind

I have a real girl so sweet and so kind

 

One day I will get over what’s-her-name

And not feel I have to focus the blame

On things I felt but never talked about

Things kept inside because all of my doubt

 

 

Leif Gregersen

 

The Middle of Winter: The Middle of Summer

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Downtown Edmonton in the Summer

Well, here it is the middle of January and I have been happily writing poems.  I picked up a great little poetry review called “Tin House” and had fun reading it.  It inspired me to write a poem that I submitted to a poetry review.  This isn’t the poem I am posting below, these reviews have strict standards that you can’t have published or posted a poem you submit to them anywhere.  For some reason though, I had enough creativity in me to write two poems, so I will not deny my 193 fans the benefit of my literary musings.  I like to try and put some small measure of philosophy into my works, though I am not a philosopher in the more traditional sense.  I say that because I have a cousin who at one time was literally one of the foremost Canadian philosophers.  He had published a book on legal theory, was a fellow of Churchill College in Cambridge and was also a University professor.  One of the most interesting things about my cousin (Brian) was that he was also a boxer.  His wife is an incredible person as well, I have high hopes of visiting them in Ontario one day soon.

Aside from that, I suppose I could talk about my week a bit.  I did post already about my experience going to a college and job-shadowing a couple of public speakers who make an effort to educate college, university, high school and other groups about mental illness.  It really felt great, and people were so responsive.  One of the things I found most interesting was this woman (Michelle) who suffers from Schizophrenia was able to be quite candid about her voices and medications and some of the things her thoughts told her to do.  I think the greatest little tidbit of wisdom I heard though was from Jillian, who did an informational presentation in which she stated that you have a 400 times greater chance of being killed by a venomous plant or animal than you have of being harmed by a person with a mental illness.  Just yesterday I turned on the TV and there was a supposedly realistic television show that depicted a group of police profiling and chasing down a murdering schizophrenic.  It reminds me of a quote I once heard that stated, “against stupidity even the Gods battle in vain.”

Anyhow, back to the present day, I woke up after a nice restful sleep and a photographer from the St.Albert Gazette (the newspaper of my home town) came by and took a few pictures of me for an article they are running.  That event kind of inspired the poem I wrote and submitted to a literary magazine, but sadly I can’t share it here.  Hope everyone who reads these words is happy and blessed in the days to come, look for today’s poem after the below photo.

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Downtown North Vancouver, Across the Harbour From Vancouver

 

Downtown Edmonton

 

I need to be among all the action

See the women seeking satisfaction

Stroll through the night past all the sidewalk bars

The teenage kids driving their mother’s cars

 

To hear the rock and roll and see the moon

And everyone happy because it’s June

Some sit and drink their drinks, some just walk

I love to meet with friends and smile and talk

 

The bookstores stay open until it’s late

All the lonely people seek their soul mate

But me I’m happy just to breathe the air

I wouldn’t miss a weekend on a dare

 

Even in winter this place really rocks

I met a girl there once she was a fox

Every weekend turns to Monday I fear

Even when you have had your fill of beer

 

All things must end and something new begin

Just like a snake this world will shed her skin

And you and I will be the old ones then

I wish I could hold that off using my pen

 

At least I’m one who hopes and also tries

Perhaps these words will make me seem more wise

Wisdom or not my life will one day end

I hope when that day comes you are my friend

 

To all of you I want to say one thing

Walk down the road of life just like a king

Love yourself and love another too

Before the years slip past also for you

 

Leif Gregersen

January 16, 2015

It All Once Seemed So Far Away

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Take a long look at this photo and then check out the one below

Leif Gregersen’s Blog

Well, I got on the phone with an old friend.  Actually, kind of more an old friend’s sister who I used to hang out with a lot in high school.  It was a nice chat because I find I share a lot in common with people I grew up with even though I haven’t lived in my home town in 25 years.  It’s been a long journey, but one more than worth it.  I would like to pause at this moment and tell people a little bit about what it means for me to be a writer.  Ever since I got serious about writing, when I published my first book, “Through The Withering Storm” my life has changed so much.  A whole new world of opportunity has opened to me.  There is a small reward here and there of a little money from writing, anywhere from over a thousand bucks for a magazine article I once wrote right down to the boon of being able to go out and sell even just one book when I’m having a hard time and having coffee money and such.  But the whole idea that I can sit down and carefully craft out a few sentences, make them into a few paragraphs, and over time turn them into printed pages that anyone in the world can access, is no small miracle.  I encourage anyone who reads this who doesn’t like to write to start with the simplest thing, which is what I did, keeping a journal.  A journal is more than a diary, it is a collection of pages where you put your thoughts, your hopes, lists of things you wish you could one day have, anything really.  Scrapbooks are good too, for putting things like concert tickets and movie receipts and such.  When I started writing, I kept a journal and I forced myself to write a full page each day, and then when I saw a movie I would write a full page of it and the same when I read a book.  I still have all of that stuff down in my basement, and one day if I have the courage I may look at it.  The very thought though, if I die tomorrow in some tragic accident, that there will be books in print and online that tell my story, that reach out and cry in a loud voice that I really was here, I really was a person.  The one person I would want most to read them would be my niece of course, then some of my friends and then anyone really.  It’s a magic thing.  I don’t want to say that everyone in the whole world should write a book, though that is definitely possible these days with small, print on demand publishers that can make you one copy (my local library has a printer that will print and bind one book for under $10) but just that everyone should make writing a part of their life.  There is so much joy in it, so many rewards.  But I will leave off at that.  As I get a larger following, I am going to have more contests for people to win my books signed and delivered to just about anywhere, so please keep reading and keep posting comments.  Even negative comments are more than welcome, they help a person keep grounded, focused and real.  As per usual, today’s poem is below the photo.

 

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Here is the difference on my very own street between summer and winter

 

Forty Three

 

As we grow older days slip by so fast

Our precious moments just don’t seem to last

The sweet blue eyes of our first newborn son

Give way to family battles fought not won

 

We love our kids but years soon fade on by

Sometimes we grow apart and don’t know why

As we get older part of us gets hard

We meet new people but stay on our guard

 

Love was so easy when we were just kids

But now those things our heart simply forbids

When I think of my first kiss so long ago

There was so many things I did not know

 

In school each hour took so long to go by

Now the days and months and years just fly

I never thought I would grow old so soon

But now I hear an old familiar tune

 

Words set to music that speak to my heart

I hear them and my soul is torn apart

A hymn I heard once at a funeral

I hear it and feel heaven’s final pull

 

Time must end for all of us on this Earth

The one thing guaranteed to us at birth

Hold each smile, each kiss deep inside of you

Keep the promise of heaven safe and true

 

Leif Gregersen

January 12, 2015

The Incredible Beauty of Edmonton, My Home

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there is so much new construction going on in this town

Today’s Blog

Hello Dear readers!  Well, I had a great sleep for the first time in a few days and I woke up feeling creative.  Normally I would wait a few more days to write a blog entry, but I figured since it is Saturday and a lot of people who like to read my stuff don’t have much to do, it would be a good idea to write one anyhow.  Life is interesting here, as many of you know, I recently took a trip to Hawaii and a few people close to me asked me why I came back.  The truth is, I love this city.  Sure, it is minus 20 something out right now, but there is something so renewing, so refreshing about getting out in weather like that, and I also find I sleep a lot better.  It doesn’t hurt that I can bundle up and hide my bulging 43 year-old gut behind a parka either.

There is so much in this city to be proud of though.  We do have a lot of homeless people, which is of course a very serious issue, but in my travels I haven’t known a place that takes better care of their down and out.  There are rehab facilities, housing facilities, all kinds of churches and organizations that give food and clothing and sometimes shelter.  Sadly though, I should note that a woman was found dead yesterday outside an apartment building in my neighbourhood, and that is a sore tragedy.  My prayers go out to her loved ones and family, I wish I could do more, but sometimes that is better than nothing.

To go on with how much I love Edmonton, I should mention that we have some great restaurants here.  There is this one place, Double Greeting (a lot of people call it double greasy but the food is really awesome) and I have to admit I have gone there for the same wonton soup over 100 times, twice in this past week alone.  I live in Little Italy, and I have access to some great pizza places, and it is very near Chinatown which has all kinds of great little places.  We have such a large Asian population here that we have a number of Asian grocery stores, which I just love.  You can buy anything there from powdered Miso soup to fresh buns or hot ready-made Chinese food.  As a book person, there is something that I really like a lot which is that we have, literally, the best library in Canada.  They really go all out to reach out to the community and to provide things that people can’t afford themselves.  I will have to admit that often I can’t find exactly the books I want and so I go on amazon.ca and order them (normally books about poetry or writing) but they have things like video games, tons and tons of audiobooks available online or in the physical location.  They even have this room called the Makerspace where you can access an espresso printer and print up and bind as little as one book, and in this room they also have free access to Macintosh computers and Playstation or Xbox consoles, and the most amazing thing I think, they have two 3-D printers.  I could go on an on, but there are many more things about Edmonton that are amazing.  One of them is that we have some awesome fitness facilities in our city.  There are facilities that accommodate everything from swimming (including water slides, kids pools, climbing walls, lane swimming, hot tubs, saunas and steam rooms) to indoor soccer and football fields and everything in between.  What is so great about all this?  If you are low-income you apply and you can get a free year’s pass to these places, which I did.  I absolutely love swimming and try and go about 3-4 times a week, there is nothing like it.  Well, I don’t want to bore everyone too much.  I do want to say I really appreciate the feedback and ‘likes’ I have been getting from my poems.  As per usual, scroll down past the below photo for today’s poem.  Take care all!!

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one of the many examples of urban wildlife we have in Edmonton

 

Back Row, Biology 101, Long Blonde Hair

 

I did not think life could be great as this

My world was opened up with just a kiss

Someone I loved had showed her love to me

Now life was vast and open as the sea

 

With love in you anything can be done

You search your whole life for that precious one

And when you find them you are born anew

You pray your love can make them love you too

 

Years back I loved to go for long, long walks

My heart and nature would have long, long talks

The moonlight on the snow so white and new

At night the world was made for her and you

 

I saw her face in bright star studded sights

I saw her soul in dancing northern lights

We had not met but I knew we would soon

It was inside me like a lovely tune

 

I saw her from afar and knew I would

Go after her because she looked so good

But now she is so much more than that

Loving and independent as a cat

 

Twenty years down the road I love her more

Than any of those girls I knew before

 

Kiss me, hug me, show you love me as much

As I love you and long for your sweet touch

 

 

Leif Gregersen

January 10, 2015