Hawaii

My Ship Came In But I Was Stuck At The Airport

IMG_5877A few raindrops on the windshield but still some of the most beautiful country you can see

Well Dear Readers, I hope you all had a good chance to bond with your fathers or children yesterday.  I went for a very cool dinner cooked by my brother who is something of an incredible cook, having taken 3 years of formal training and many years of experience as a professional cook.  At the moment, I have the honorable task of helping edit a book that is not yet released by one of Canada’s top writers, Richard Van Camp.  The book is literally incredible, it weaves together a lot of the characters that Richard developed in his stories and the movies he made of them, including “The Lesser Blessed” and “Midnight Mohawk Runners”.  Then yesterday I was working at the Edmonton Coliseum, also known as Rexall Place, loading the trucks up from the Cirque De Soleil show.  Friday I was interviewed by an Edmonton Sun Reporter, Cam Tait and I am anxious to see how the article will come out.  And then last Wednesday I taught my second writing class to a grand total of one student, but still it was fun.  The student is a young man who grew up in this area and he is a very interesting young man and not a bad poet.  Like they say, those who can’t do… teach!

Another thing that happened this week was I completed my Wellness Recovery Action Plan course which means I can now take a further course to be a facilitator.  I think this would be a great experience for me, I have been considering writing another book with regards to mental health, only this time one with more hard data and facts and all that rather than just stories of what happened to me.  I feel there is a great power that occurs when a persona can honestly share their own stories, in fact I think it is the main problem with mental health treatment today–too many people are too worried to admit they have  a mental health issue.  The only fact I really know is that 1 in 5 to 1 in 4 people will need to seek treatment for a mental illness at some point in their lives, but if all the people who were trying to tough it out or didn’t trust Psychiatrists or were too worried to reach out for help were counted in, it could be a lot more, who knows?

Anyhow, that is the long and short of it.  In the morning I am going for a business lunch to discuss me taking on more responsibilities in the fall session of my writing class.  I don’t really know how long I want to stay up but I might have to stay up all night just to make it in.  I will most likely go for a swim in the morning to keep myself going, not an easy thing when I have worked as a truck loader the night before.  I guess the price of influence and self respect is a few nights of missed sleep here and there.  All I can really say about the last couple of years is that it has been such an amazing experience publishing a book, and then publishing many of them.  I am meeting so many people, doing so many things.  The money isn’t really there, I have sold a lot of copies of one of my books and I think if I am lucky I am close to breaking even, but writing is such a wonderful experience.  I like to quote a man named Bronowski, a scholar who was the host of “The Ascent of Man” a TV show my mom used to really enjoy, which was also a book of the same name by the same person, the quote went something like: “The magic of reading is that no matter where you are, no matter the time or place, you can open a book up and be instantly transported into the mind of the author.”  I thank you Dear readers, for reading my mind 🙂  Poem to follow below today’s second photo.

DSCF5316     This is a photo I took underwater snorkeling in Hawaii last fall

First Love

 

Please let me paint a picture here with words

A story unlike any you’ve ever heard

It all begins in a sunny late spring day

When all the little boys and girls came out to play

 

There was a little boy who stood out among the crowd

Somehow as just a lad he seemed to stand tall and proud

And a little curly blonde-haired girl caught his eye

He could have made her his friend but didn’t try

 

This cute little pair of children grew up very fast

Funny enough the girl had a crush on him as time passed

But as they went through school together it was all a game

A race to see who would first get fortune and fame

 

At first as a model and a scholar the girl did well

Though the strong young boy was going through a kind of hell

His life at home got worse as each day went by

It was all he could do to not curl up, give up and cry

 

One day when he had taken all he could

He thought of the one thing in life he saw as good

He reached out to the curly blonde haired girl for hope

He was at the end of a nasty, slippery rope

 

All at once our blond girl expressed her love and true respect

But he didn’t want to start out his life in her debt

He thanked her but then went off to make his own way

He never stopped hoping to see her again one day

 

Life had never seemed to him all that fair

It had been so awful he really thought no one cared

But still he set off to conquer life on his own

He left his friends and his community, he left his home

 

Our boy put out his thumb and headed for the coast

Overnight to all his friends he became a ghost

Vanished out of sight and out of mind

Wondering to himself why the blonde girl was so kind

 

And as some do in sunny summer days

The young man succeeded in numerous ways

But when he returned home all the love was gone

The little curly blonde haired girl had moved on

 

No words could ever win her back again

He had to face the fact that this was the very end

And so he went on living like a ghost

Drifting north to south and coast to coast

 

Then one day he met a young troubled soul

And he found that holding her made him feel whole

Soon a wedding came and not long after a child

They let the baby grow up just a little wild

 

In their humble home there was always love and fun

And before too long our boy saw past memories as done

It meant so much to just lay back and hold his child and wife

By losing his first love he was given the perfect life

 

 

Leif Gregersen

June 22, 2015

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The Real Beauty and Happiness Is Between Your Two Ears

DSCF5216Sometimes I can’t even believe I made it to this beautiful place.  This beach, with its crystal blue waters is known to locals as ‘the toilet bowl’ and makes for some great snorkeling and general lounging around the shore

     Hello to all those who dare to dream, dare to try, dare to seize the day.  I thought I would write a bit about writing here, writing is something that is not only what I do, and what I love to do, it is something that I think everyone should do, everyone should enjoy.  On a whim this morning I looked up our local correspondence University (Athabasca University which I have taken Psychology and Criminology through in the past) and did a search on creative writing.  There was a course, but there were many courses I had to take before I could take that one.  I am seriously thinking I would love to do this, love to go back to University despite my 43 years.  The only thing that really scared me off was that a 3 credit course costs $677.00!  I am going to look into financing options, there used to be something called a bursary for part-time studies that would pay all the costs of such things, but I fear that has faded into the cost-cutting jungle.  So, I looked at an option, iTunes U!  Well, it is a definite option and certainly much less cost, but there is still some cost.  One video I wanted to look at regarding freelance magazine writing was $10 to download and thanks to wise investments (not) and careful saving (not) I currently have an available balance of $35 on my Mastercard.  I looked at some of the free resources though, and I watched a short video on getting ideas for magazine writing and it prompted me to write a query letter to a magazine I was once paid a phenomenal sum from to write an article about my old Cadet Squadron.  Writing the article was pure pleasure, I even drove out to the airport where they had a gliding program going on.  If I could get 3 or 4 jobs like that a year I would be a very happy man.

As far as other writing goes, ever since I stopped posting my poems I seem to have stopped writing them.  As mentioned though, I really want to get into poetry publications and get noticed and known which could help my writing career in many ways and just about all of them insist that your poem can’t have been published online or otherwise if you submit them.  Last night though I did pick up a great resource that I received in the mail from amazon.com called “In the Palm of Your Hand, the Poet’s Portable Workshop”, and after working through the first chapter, I worked with a writing prompt and wrote something I was kind of proud of about how I felt about a dear Uncle who has passed away.  It is hard to describe how I get my ideas.  I think some of my best writing occurs when I start with a pen and paper.  I also quite often start before that laying in bed.  I turn out the lights, turn off any distractions aside perhaps from my classical music station on the radio and just toss ideas around until I can come up with something workable, plausible.  (I often use this same method for short stories and Novellas as well).  Then comes pen and paper.  First, I try to just brainstorm, write out every idea I have even if I’m not going to use it at all.  Then comes the outline, which is a bit harder and needs to be double spaced because I often make changes.  With shorter works like poetry, I might stop at the brainstorming phase and start to write, but with longer ones an outline is essential.  Sometimes I don’t even follow the outline for short stories, I just dive in and let the story and my memory lead me.  With Novellas and such longer works, the outline is more essential, but is always being revised.  When I am writing a longer work, I often come home from supper and go right to sleep, then try and wake up late at night in the wee hours and write then.  I start out reading and editing work I did the night before, or from my last session and then I find that my ability to write is increased.  When I write poetry, I start with the brainstorming and then I write out long hand a whole poem.  I have been told it is best to leave your work for some time, but I often go right to the stage of typing out the poem on my word processor, and I find somewhere between the written word and the computer typed words a change occurs.  I feel moved to write more stanzas, or to say things differently.  Lately I have been trying to write in iambic pentameter, which actually comes pretty easy with practice.  I simply count off two syllables for each finger on my left hand and when it fits into the rhyming and meter I am going for, I write it out.  What seems most essential though is to have a theme.  I have done young love to death (hey-that gives me a great idea-a poem about ‘old’ love!).  I have also used themes of brotherly love, friendship, my illness, history (usually of World War Two), my fears, and more.

I don’t know why, but writing seems so exciting to me.  Even when you put aside the (slim) hope of money, the concept of becoming famous or at least well known and respected, there is something that really hits me about actually creating something, and this feeling often also goes for reading quality literature.  When I mention quality literature though, I should point out that my concept of quality literature has changed a lot in the past few years, largely because of my good friend Richard Van Camp who writes everything from dark novels exploring horrible sides of the human condition, right down to baby books and in between (comics, graphic novels and more).  I want to put in a mention here about a graphic novel I am reading right now that is just so good I can’t help but tell people about it.  It is called, “Brooklyn Dreams” and is a black and white, thick book where a man is sitting in a dark room supposedly talking to a Psychiatrist, recounting his days as a teenager in the drug culture of Brooklyn in the early 70’s.  This book is so engaging I have been savoring reading it page by page, massively enjoying the art and the incredibly humorous stories.  I think one of the great things about graphic novels is that it allows more people into the wonderful world of literature, people who don’t understand or have the patience for longer works of literature.  Feel free to post any of your favorite reads here.

After yesterday’s words about changing the focus of this blog to mental health, I wanted to mention at least some snippets about the subject.  I have been attending a class run by the Schizophrenia society about recovery from mental illness, and I strongly urge anyone out there, be they Bipolar, Schizophrenic or Depressive, to try and connect to a similar organization in their community.  I have gotten so much out of looking at more modern ways of dealing with my illness, I have learned about medications that may help me with fewer side effects, and even just kind of got out of my shell a bit and went to a place where I can feel comfortable about talking about my illness.  I actually think I am going to re-take the class another time just because the content of the course was only one small part of what made it great.

Well, dear readers, I hope some of you can take something from  today’s blog.  As far as any advice I may have, I think one thing applies to both people struggling with mental illness and people who have the desire to become a writer.  Keep a journal.  Head down to the dollar store, pick up a notebook, and find a good pen or package of good pens, and bring it with you everywhere.  Jot down how you are feeling, how things ‘make’ you feel, ideas you have for stories.  I actually forgot to mention one aspect of the writing process for me, once I am done the outline for a short story or a novella, if I get stuck, I write out with pen and paper a scene from my story.  It just takes a little push sometimes but when you do push yourself, you can find out that amazing things happen.  As for keeping a journal, it is something recommended for anyone, and it can even include blogging if you are so inclined.  As always, feedback is appreciated, so if you wish, please email me right at my personal email, viking3082000@yahoo.com  all the best readers!

IMG_8135This is a picture from the near-desert area of the interior of The Big Island of Hawaii, which some world class observatories call home.  I did some hiking and a lot of driving in this place and ended up feeling like a brand new person upon my return

Inside the Insane Asylum

IMG_7692This is the inside of Sacred Heart Church of The First Peoples, where I go for mass when I have the time.  The Priest here is a wonderful man, Father Jim Holland and is greatly loved among all community members, catholic, protestant, European or Native (or others)

     Hello dear readers!  Well, today was actually a pretty good day.  I am still getting over a cold that has lasted for 2 weeks now and my brother has told me I might want to try something called Cold F/X which has been on the market for some time and is quite expensive, but when I hear a recommendation from my brother, I often heed it.  For most of the weekend I have been sleeping, taking these Advil cold and flu pills and when I went to the post office in my local pharmacy, I tested my blood pressure and it was way higher than it has ever been.  I don’t quite yet want to stop eating my nightly popcorn, but I am looking at healthier alternatives (like using so called ‘heart healthy’ margarine) and I have already scaled back my eating and salt intake.

Today I wanted to talk a bit about what it is like to really be inside a mental hospital.  I relate a lot of my experiences in my latest book, “Inching Back To Sane”, but I wanted to touch on it here as well today.  I was thinking about how quickly attitudes towards smoking has changed.  A few years back when I first went to AHE (Alberta Hospital, Edmonton) you could smoke anywhere, and get cigarettes anywhere.  You could even buy cigars and all that.  Even when they were cheap though, people were often very reluctant to share cigarettes, myself included.  At first I didn’t mind so much but there were literally people who would wander around asking again and again until you gave in.  One time I recall sitting in the lock-down ward and this guy (who incidentally I have seen in the community, way to go dude!) named Robert came up to me while I was smoking a cigarette and asked me for one and I told him I didn’t smoke and he went away.  Another time I was in the cafeteria in another part of the hospital and a young woman actually punched me in the face because I didn’t give her a cigarette.  It is a sad sight to see now as people are no longer allowed to smoke anywhere but outside and there is no place in the remote location the hospital is in to buy cigarettes.  I know smoking is horrible for your health and all, I had a terribly hard time quitting and still feel the effects 10 years after quitting, but people with mental illnesses are very prone to cigarette addiction which I feel has a lot to do with the fact that nicotine actually works on some of the same brain chemicals that anti-depressants and major tranquilizers work on.  I can remember days when I was relatively unmedicated and very ill that I would wake up and smoke 2 or 3 cigarettes and my thoughts would be much more normalized, I wouldn’t hear the Television saying things about me and I was able to sit comfortably and carry on conversations.  I don’t really judge the staff on this issue, whether or not they smoke themselves, but I wonder if they have been aware of all of these factors in making their decisions.

One of the things I remember clearly also about being in the hospital is the effect that your illness and ‘cabin fever’ has on a person.  Everyone on the ward, staff or patients seemed in some different way to be someone I knew from before.  There was this really pretty young Psychiatric Aide who was staff on my last (hopefully last ever) stay who bore a slight resemblance to a young woman I was very fond of in school and my mind turned this staff member into this young woman in the flesh.  Then there were other people, like an east indian staff member who looked a lot like a man I had once arrested while working as a security guard.  All in all most of the people there were fairly nice but on occasion I had some outright threats from them.  “Don’t push us.” one young man said to me quietly as he handed me my medications one night.  “If I ever see you outside of this hospital, I’m going to kick the living shit out of you.” Another staff member said to me.  If I told anyone, they would deny it, but they made me very aware that they were the ones holding the power and I was the one under it.  There was one guy who kept coming into my room to shine a light in my eyes to see if I was sleeping (I don’t know if this was official policy, but it seemed just one guy was doing it) and he would wake me up several times a night, so I kept yelling at him or asking him to stop.  One day I was put in the isolation room and propped my mattress up against the wall and snuck in behind it so no one could see me, and this guy was watching me through the small window.  He came in and I knew he was going to assault me so I grabbed his ‘life call’ emergency button and pressed it and staff came running in from all over the hospital thinking he was in need of help.

I could really go on and on, but I think the important thing to realize is that, though it was extremely difficult and painful to go through these things, I was indeed very sick and the result of me being in that situation could have easily led to me ending up in jail not a hospital.  I also want to emphasize that though my Doctor at the time in particular was a bit of a jerk and did little to help me, in the end the system actually worked and I got better.  When I got out fortunately I didn’t have to keep the same Doctor and ended up with an incredible Psychiatrist (who actually wrote the forward to “Through The Withering Storm” and has been a huge supporter of my writing efforts) who literally brought me back from the depths.  I don’t really have the room here to say thanks to all the people who did put up with my arguments and erratic behavior and still did everything they could to help me, but I would like to send out a thank you in general to Psychiatric workers of all kinds.  It takes a thick skin and a heart of gold to do it, and I have heard often that being in there can be just as hard on those people as it can be on patients.  As far as Doctors, I would like to greatly thank Dr. Petkowski, Dr. Bishop, Dr. Boffa, Dr. Chue, Doctor Gordon and many others over the years of my treatment.  And thank you, dear readers, for liking and sharing my posts so often, that is what really makes me feel what I am doing is worthwhile (with regards to my writing and blogging).

DSCF5151Take Off From YEG (Edmonton International Airport) En Route to Hawaii, with my old friend Chris Lockhart at the controls!

A Little About My Homes Near and Far

DSCF5022                      This is what we call ‘big sky country’, not far from my Edmonton home

Good morning to all.  I didn’t want to really put up a blog entry today, I am in between two fairly difficult shifts at work and was hoping to get some sleep.  At the moment, I am also trying to get rid of a cold and losing my voice.  Last night I had to work loading trucks for the Edmonton Opera for a Valentine’s Gala they put on.  It was kind of neat to see all the people downtown dressed up either in tuxedos or military dress uniforms.  Reminds me of all the neat things I used to do growing up, especially when I was in Air Cadets and it came time to have a formal dinner.

Funny how much of my life seems to make me think about Air Cadets.  It was only 3 years literally 30 years ago but what an impact!  In a few days I am going to go before a crowd of nursing students at a local University and tell them about my own lived experiences with psychosis.  I learned the skills I need to do those sort of things in Cadets as well.  It was a Thursday night when I was 14 and in grade nine at the junior high school across the street from my house.  I was attending cadets that night while I was a patient in the General Hospital Psychiatric Ward in Edmonton and I hadn’t been to school in a couple of weeks, I had mostly spent my time avoiding any activity and reading a book I bought off the TV about the war in the Desert in WWII.  This was when I was taking my toastmaster’s course and it was my turn to speak.  I got up and was incredibly nervous.  No surprise really, I had so little contact with any friends or people my age in the days preceding, I had literally forgotten how to be comfortable in front of people.  I gave a talk about my collection of military uniforms and was so nervous I blushed crimson and couldn’t look anyone in the eye.  It was funny because as I went further into the course, I ended up doing really well and learned many skills, but that night I was a wreck.  Later I heard a friend telling another friend about how stupid I looked and it really made me feel awful.

I have been thinking about that night because I have been sick for over a week and have stayed home taking cold and flu pills and sleeping all day.  This morning I had a meeting about an event some friends and I are setting up for The Edmonton Poetry Festival and I kept tripping on my tongue.  I hope I get back into my groove by the 23rd when it comes time for my talk.

Aside from that, the nervousness and declining social skills I have experienced, things seem to be going pretty well.  I have gotten negative news from a few sources about my writing, but I have also gotten some positive.  I don’t know if any readers of this blog have read my first novel, “Green Mountain Road” but I ran into a friend at work who bought a copy of me and the other day he said I am a really good writer.  This surprised me because I sent it off to be reviewed and the guy who reviewed at it tore it to pieces, he really didn’t like it, but my friend (Myron, a very interesting and well read dude) said I just have to not listen to that kind of thing.  Good advice, but it seems that there is a thing about being mentally ill that makes things people tell you cut deep, or even perhaps just seem to be absolute, totally the truth.  I had an experience in the University Hospital psychiatric ward quite a number of years ago where a lady kept saying things like, “I am going to go to sleep.” and then put up her finger to emphasize her point, “I haven’t slept in six months!” She said.  It was weird how things would hit close to home.

Well, I don’t want to plug my own writing too much, but it would sure be great if I could get some sales going online.  I have put so much into trying all different kinds of marketing for my books and what I have been finding is that advertising doesn’t seem to pay off for books.  If I were selling houses that each cost $350,000.00 it would be great to advertise, I could spend $500 on a campaign that got just one sale because the value of one sale was so high.  But a while back I spent $500 on a blog tour that literally didn’t get me one single sale, not even in ebooks.  If I had gotten ten it would have still been a disaster.  It is frustrating because I love writing so much, it gives me such a good feeling.  Each day I look forward to sitting down and writing this blog and it is a great feeling when I look at my stats page and see that my site got 15 views today and so on.  My latest attempt at fame is to get a distributor, I am going to be working with a company called Red Tuque Books and I am sincerely hoping it helps me go somewhere with my self-published books, though I don’t even know if they will accept my work.

I am really curious how well my book, “Through The Withering Storm” would do with nation wide distribution because it seems to have done really well in all my books signings and even on amazon.com it has gotten about ten independent reviews with an average rating of 4.5 stars out of 5.  I think I must have sold close to 300 copies of the book (though likely a number of those were giveaways and promotional copies).  One of the things that never ceases to amaze me is that I can take that book, as I have just tonight, and start reading it from any point and actually enjoy my own writing.  I guess that means I can’t be all that bad a writer.  But, with that, seeing as it is nearly 5:00 am and I have to be at work in 5 hours, I think I will leave off there.  As always, emails and comments are greatly appreciated.  Passing around the site address and all that would also be great as I plan to start doing some giveaways of my books soon when I can get more people involved in this blog.  All the best Dear readers, stay real!  viking3082000@yahoo.com

DSCF1386                  World famous Waikiki Beach, the place I call home when I can afford to 🙂

Why Charlie Wasn’t Winning

DSCF1390                        Beautiful Oahu, Waikiki Beach With The Waves and the Sand

How can I begin to describe what Bipolar is like?  Having Bipolar, or manic-depression can be something that makes you so much more than anything you thought you could.  There are many people through history that have been functioning people with manic-depression.  Charlie Sheen is one that comes to mind.  I have to admit I don’t like a lot of his stuff, but I think he has accomplished quite a bit in the field of acting and comedy.  I absolutely loved him in Wall Street and Platoon and hoped that Oliver Stone would cast him in more of his movies.  Who he is in real life seems to be a lot different than Chris Taylor or Bud Fox, his two characters in those great movies.  I once watched a late night talk show where he was asked about an incident that happened to him in high school where he threatened a teacher.  He told the teacher, “You’re lucky I haven’t killed you yet!”  Sometimes elitism like this makes me very ticked off.  I heard that even Oliver Stone was very aware of the fact that he looked down on a lot of people and picked at him while he was making the loosely autobiographical movie “Platoon”.  Then came the Hot Shots movies, which I thought were brilliant.  Charlie Sheen poked fun at everything, and kept me laughing all the way through both movies a number of times.  But when it came out that he was a crack cocaine addict and philanderer, even worse so than his character on “Two and a Half Men”, I was kind of shocked.  What occurred after that was even more bizarre until I found out he had been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder.  The scary thing about this illness is that it doesn’t just make your moods go up and down, it causes something called a psychosis (not to be confused with psychopathology I hope everyone understands) where an entire world of grandiose thinking and delusional thoughts can come into your head.  This is something that happened to my life, and the devastation these symptoms wrought on my life were immense.

I like to think I am a fairly intelligent guy, and while a good part of intelligence is processing and solving problems, another part of it is memory.  I have a memory that brings back images in my head of opening up the doll that still sits in my closet, my favorite doll from my childhood that I received for Christmas 40 years ago.  I still remember who was my desk buddy in grade one (Makoto Ohki, a Japanese boy) and that a girl in my class skipped school and was in a great deal of trouble for it but went on to do well despite a bad start at schooling and became a teacher herself.  Where the problem comes in is when I dig deep into my personal storehouse of memories and play things over and over again in my mind, trying to re-think nearly every questionable situation.  A lot of times I will take something that happened that was harmless or at worst a meaningless slight and turn them into insults or remarks that I still get upset over.  Today I found out from a friend who has Schizophrenia that he does this too.  I can’t begin to say how good it felt to hear someone say that, I have recently begun being involved (and employed) by the Schizophrenia Society of Alberta and in the groups I attend and people I talk with I am learning so much and feeling so much better about myself.  So, for the people out there who read this in hopes of learning something about their illness, I say to you, get yourself plugged in to somewhere that you can meet and talk with others who suffer from mental illnesses, and don’t be afraid to open up, the healing is unimaginable.

Of course, there is the other side to Bipolar that I haven’t touched on which is depression.  Depression is something that has really marked up and cut limbs off my family tree for generations.  My mom suffered from debilitating depression, my aunt Joanne committed suicide because of it and now my cousins who I thought would do very well in life have been struck down by it.  In my books, “Through The Withering Storm” and “Inching Back To Sane” I try to relate to people what it is to have depression.  I don’t know if any event can trigger it, but I do know that things like breakups of key relationships and loss of loved ones can spark it off.  When I was 17, before I was treated properly for depression, I had a great life.  I had a lot of friends, a job I enjoyed and even a really nice car, a 1978 Ford Cobra.  But every day when I left work at night to go home I went into the worst, deepest, darkest pit of despair and self loathing that you can imagine.  Now years later, with the help of Prozac and a mood stabilizer called Depekane, I no longer suffer at all.  It is a literal miracle, and the Prozac itself has few side effects, though the Depakane can be difficult to deal with.

Back to my words on famous people with Bipolar, there are two politicians who led their countries through their worst wars victoriously that suffered from it.  They are of course, Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill, two men I have greatly admired all my life.  But the one that really strikes me is Robin Williams.  I am so sad that he has passed on, he was such a wonderful actor and comedian and not one single person I have come across has expressed in any way that they weren’t saddened by him killing himself.  Robin Williams had so much talent and energy and incredible intelligence, not to mention success after success that must have made him very wealthy and yet he took his own life.  For a long time it was obvious to me that he was Bipolar.  He could get up on stage, and do completely off the wall, made up on the spot comedy and put people in stiches for two hours, take a five minute break and get up and repeat the same thing for another audience.  What touched me most in his career though was the man he portrayed in the movie “Awakenings”, the Doctor who helped some forgotten patients wake up to the real world for a short time.  This was a side that you didn’t often see of Robin Williams, but there were other times when he was even more on the low side of the spectrum.  I am quite sure that he had his drug problems as well, that sort of thing seems to come with the territory of mental illness, but I am sure what killed him was his Bipolar.

Well, that is kind of a sad blog for today.  I really encourage anyone out there who reads this to reply to me and start conversation with me.  I am not at all going to judge anyone, I really feel though that peer support in these situations can help a person get through a lot.  So to that end, I want to put my personal email up here, it is viking3082000@yahoo.com and say that if you don’t feel up to posting here, you can write me at that email and I promise I will respond.  I hope everyone has a happy day and a restful and replenishing sleep!

DSCF1024                           Some Nice Flowers (and my thumb) to Brighten Your Day

Distant Shores, Poem of Brotherly Love

DSCF5243This is a shot of one of the best beaches I ever went to.  

You actually have to pay to go to this beach, but it was soooooooo awesome!!

     Hello My Dear Readers!  I think I would like to talk about writing today.  I don’t know how many aspiring writers there are out there, but I think there are a few.  I always say to people the first thing you have to do if you want to write is learn to keep a journal.  It’s more than a diary, it’s a book where you keep anything you want to write down, usually your thoughts, but it is good for ideas too.  I used to force myself to sit each day and write a full page about things I have done.  Now I kind of use this blog for that, but writing is writing.  I have been reading a few things about creativity and they all seem to stress trying to write every day no matter what.  For myself, sometimes I end up either getting stuck or putting out crap and so I will occasionally take a day off or two, and I find if I rested myself mentally, physically and emotionally I will go back in better shape (so I hope).  I had a book signing in my home town of St.Albert, which is a medium sized city north of Edmonton.  It went really well, sold about 10 books.  I don’t know if I’ve beaten that yet, I know with my very first book signing ever I was only selling one book (Through The Withering Storm, still available through this website under ‘books’ on the menu), and I ended up selling eight copies, which added up to just $5 less revenue than I earned the other day.  One of the neat things was having some press coverage, thanks to my good friend Scott Hayes with the St.Albert Gazette. It also helped to post the event to Facebook and let a few people know they were welcome to stop by.

     At the signing I think I learned a new trick.  I will admit you get a few grumpy people who don’t even say anything, but I originally thought if I say hello or hi to each person that went by I would get sales, but what a person really needs to sell a book is to engage the person in conversation and just be a nice person and let them know you have a valid story to tell in your work and I think about 60% of the time if I could engage people in conversation they would buy a book.

     One of the things I like about going to St.Albert is that the Chapters Bookstore they have there is a really good store.  I could easily spend a thousand dollars in one, but this time I spent $45.00 which was kind of a risk because I spent it before I started my book sales and didn’t know if I would make it back.  I ended up making double the cost of the two books back.  I think I would like to start doing book reviews when I get more followers.  To all my loyal readers that is two things I promise as this blog grows in support, I will have book reviews and contest giveaways.  I have been getting into graphic novels lately, and if anyone out there wants an incredible read, I picked up a graphic novel adaptation of a movie (I haven’t seen the movie) which was called “Kingsmen” and it was hilarious, gripping, had some great plot twists, and extremely entertaining.  I won’t talk too much about it, but I would like to say the book doesn’t cost much (I think I paid $13.00) and it is really high quality stuff, especially to anyone who likes James Bond.  Other than that, I think I will try and find another Hawaii photo to put below here because the poem for today is on a sailing theme.  All the best folks!

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This is actually a shot of a lake in Jasper National Park where my family goes a few times a year in memory of my mom.

You, My Dear Brother

 

Somewhere deep down there is a little more

Push hard to get yourself outside your door

A world awaits that needs someone like you

There is a chance our dreams will all come true

 

Love and riches await for all who dare

You can not tell me you no longer care

You and I brother we once had it all

This world is ours if we answer the call

 

Brothers together can change the whole world

We’ll live to see our bold flag fly unfurled

Glory awaits lets take it while we can

Stand with me brother I have the perfect plan

 

We’ll work like dogs and hide away each cent

We’ll work each day until we are all spent

One day we will buy a ship to sail the sea

For once we will be men and will be free

 

We shall set sail for distant lands and ports

We’ll drink and sing old songs until we’re hoarse

Throw a dart in the air to plot our course

We’ll live happy and free in far off shores

 

Come now with me before we grow too old

This world belongs to men hardy and bold

We don’t need this snow and bitter cold wind

Come now my brother new life will begin

 

You’ve been there for me since I was a tot

I have to say I owe you all I’ve got

Now come with me leave this place far behind

Wasting your life away is just unkind

 

We have this chance but it won’t last too long

Open your mind and sing a different song

Let’s aim for places new and women fair

With smiling faces, flowers in their hair

 

Leif Gregersen

January 25, 2015

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 Summation of my 42nd Year In a Blog

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On the Occasion Of My 43rd Birthday

Well, here it is December 2nd and I have to say this is the best birthday I have ever had.  For some reason, I feel young and alive and happy through and through.  I suppose I could say that it might have to do with working an amazing concert the other day with a great bunch of people, it might have to do with the fact that I have been able to go to Hawaii and a few other places this year.  I guess though, that it all comes down to love.  I really feel loved this year and I feel that I love others in my life.  I would like to try and pin that down further though.  Earlier, a card arrived from my sister signed by her, my niece and her husband and it filled my heart with joy.  The card was hand made, the words “happy birthday” were cut out just like you see ransom notes made in old movies, and my sister had taken the time to find little “fox” cartoons doing some of the things I like to do.  There was a fox with a huge stack of books, there was a fox in a beatnik get up reading poetry at a microphone, and cartoon pictures of popcorn on the stove (which I make at least once a night) and another one of movie cameras.  It makes me feel so special to have a sister that cares enough about me and knows enough about me to take the time to do something like that.  I also feel very grateful for my niece, who happily sang to me a Taylor Swift song she likes (after singing happy birthday), and my day had started out with birthday wishes from my departed cousin’s wife and son who live in Denmark, and soon after my ex-girlfriend Caroline and her boss called me up and sang happy birthday to me over the phone.  The day was filled with good wishes in the form of phone calls, Facebook posts, and I even had my incredible writer friend Richard Van Camp meet up with me and he gave me a very thoughtful gift, a 25 cent coin with a glow-in-the-dark dinosaur on it, stamped with the date 2013 which is the year we first started being friends.  How could anyone ask for more caring and wonderful people in their life?  I also had a dinner invitation from my Dad and Brother, but it will be put off a day or two as my Dad has a cold.

I think what is interesting also is that a good deal of my happiness today didn’t just come from the love I have received and the love I have for others, it has a lot to do with the fact that I have finally started believing in myself as a writer.  That all began two short years back when I first published my memoir, “Through The Withering Storm”.  There are things I don’t like about that book, things I would like to change, but I can’t deny that putting out a book, and also the seven other books I have now published have changed who I am dramatically.  Every time I meet someone who wants to write, I try to tell them all I can about how to succeed, what courses to take, what books and magazines to buy.  All of us have a story to tell, and with a little coaxing and a lot of effort, those stories can one day become a success.

I guess I would like to also talk about Hawaii now as well.  When I was there, one of the best things I took the time to do was to bring snorkelling gear and go swimming among the coral with all the tropical fish.  The gentle rocking of the waves, the absence of any sound but my breathing, the incredible beauty of the underwater world, and the ever-present option of being able to swim back to shore and lay in the hot sun on the beach.  It was beyond divine.  One of the amazing things about it was how I felt when I got back.  After seeing a way of doing something I wanted to do for such a long time and having such a great time doing it, it was no trouble at all facing a few days of work to earn some money and have the chance of going back again.  I don’t know if Hawaii will be my next destination, but I do know I will go some place where I can see history and swim in clear water off a beach.  And that, dear readers, is about all for today.  I am going to put a poem below, but I didn’t write it today, it is from my cache of poetry, I will try and be more original next time, but I hope you like this one anyhow.  It is below the following photo:

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MOVING FORWARD
When I look back on my life, as it spans over 40 years

I think of the strength of my parents through my setbacks and tears

One night as a young child I told them I never wanted to move away

But still that moment had to come to pass one day

Inside the love and protection of our little home

My life was joy, I was never sad, I was never alone

But the years came and went and we lost my mom

Even though on the next morning still out came the sun

It took a few years to feel better again after

She had been so special to us, she was our joy and our laughter

I now think of my Dad and all the things he has gone through

One day soon he will rejoin my mom, I know that to be true

Time will march on, one day my brother and sister too will pass

Somehow as the youngest I have hopes to be the last

When I know my time is coming and my end soon will be

I will go out into the Prairie and plant an oak tree

I want to leave something in this world to mark who we were

Five people, a dog and a cat, held together by love so pure

And then soon after I will take my last breath

And find my perfect completion having lived large until my death

I will go off to be a spirit and all those I had known will be there

Worshiping our God, loving one another without a care

Time will mean nothing, pain and sadness will be all gone

We will live like small happy children, love like them unconditionally on and on

Leif Gregersen

August 14, 2014

Reflections Upon Approaching The Age of 100

Well, today has been a great day to say the least.  Last night I went out with my Dad and watched a movie that was based on a popular book called “The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared”.  The movie was literally a non-stop laugh riot and I think in a way it made my Dad, who is only 23 years away from 100, feel good about himself.  The movie was Swedish and had a lot of subtitles, but much of it was in English.  It followed the adventures of an old man who had been put into a home for having the odd hobby of blowing up things, and I think I could best describe it as a Swedish Forrest Gump.  I thought it would be kind of cool to put in a photo of one of my best friends who is getting up there, but not quite near 100 yet either.  I used a black and white setting on my camera and I think it comes up with a pretty nice rendering of what Walter is like.

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Aside from all that, I sat down today and wrote a poem.  I have been having misgivings lately about putting poems up on this website, because in all reality, it doesn’t do me much good and although I get a lot of hits on this page, I don’t sell any books.  The fact of the matter is, in order to make any money off your writing, you need to get a following first and convince them that your writing is worthwhile (or so I hope it works that way).  After a couple more pictures which are in sharp contrast to each other (one is the winter skyline of Edmonton, and the other is of a shark I took a picture of in the aquarium in Hawaii), I will put my poem in for you to read.  Thanks for being a part of my website, I welcome any comments anyone would like to leave.

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Cold Winter Nights Still Have Their Delights

 

Can it be; can it be true

That this very place will be my tomb

This, my warm writing room

Outside it’s so cold

Somehow the howl of the wind

Beckons my soul

I can see from my window

The shimmering curtains

Of deep winter lights

Off in the sky, that deep northern sky

I keep wondering why

It must blow so chill and so harsh

The snow, the snow, the shimmering snow

In the streetlight’s glow

Doesn’t it know

I will never go

From this place, the only place that I know

The snow, the snow being driven by wind

Finds me sealed inside

My furnace guarding me; keeping me warm

Free from all harm

But still there beckons a charm

That northern clime charm

Inside my chest beats a heart

That was made for this place from the start

That longs to make snow angels

Snowballs to throw

Ice castles to show

Get a toboggan or an inner tube

Get to a powdered-up hill and cruise and cruise

Inside my chest beats a heart

That was made for this place from the start

That needs to head to a mountain

See those grandiose sights and purely natural sounds

Those peaks that seem to not know any bounds

To take up my skiis and my hopes

To blast down their slopes

Run myself ragged and cold

Then hide away in some small bustling chalet

With all of my friends who come out on these days

Sip on some chocolate laced with a marshmallow floating

Look at the athletic young women and their young boyfriends gloating

Some say that this season makes all of us sad

Some say that down south there is more adventure to be had

Oceans to swim in and beaches to inspire

But I can’t leave this place, this place of which I never will tire

Or the warm wood-fired glow of gathering in front of the fire

Too much adventure, too much to be had

Too much to sit in the dark

Of my tomb

In my writing room

Writing more poems

Of things I wish I could do

 

 

Leif Gregersen

November 28, 2014

http://www.edmontonwriter.com