journal

The Time to Remember Those Who Sacrificed For Us

                             As we near the anniversary of the end of the First World War, I thought showing a picture of a historical novel I wrote and writing a poem about war would be appropriate. Scroll past today’s poem for today’s Mental Health Blog.

 

One Day in November, Time to Remember

By: Leif Gregersen

 

 

A soldier fallen, that is all

He made his choice when he answered the call

 

Back home his girl awaits his letter

His Sergeant said just forget her

 

In his parent’s yard a yellow ribbon

Just come home, all is forgiven

 

His father drinks, stares sleepless at the clock

He has been told his boy is in a pine box

 

His death was awful, a tragedy

Did he truly die to keep us free?

 

Pay a mortgage, slave for years

Lose a child, let loose your tears

 

I feel in war there really is no glory

Let those left behind tell you their story

 

A tale of grief, a tale of loss

Losing a loved one is such a cost

 

Those who come home are not the same

When they marched off it seemed like a game

 

Stand and remember, never forget

A war is part pain and part regrets

 

November 6, 2017

Hello good readers! I have been having a great week, and I really have no idea why. All I can say is that for those of you who are out there who suffer from mental illnesses and see no light at the end of the tunnel, please hold on. Life can surprise you in so many ways. Not to brag, but just to show how things can go well for a person, I want to list a few things that have happened that I am extremely thankful for. One is that just as I needed shelves and had some help to put them up and to fill them with the boxed up books and stuff in my apartment, my neighbour across the hall was moving and gave me a pair of excellent storage shelves, and even a small freezer. I can also give heartfelt thanks to my two friends, who came to my place and worked very hard to make it into something much more liveable. I don’t know if I have posted about this before, but I have also recently signed a contract for a student to turn one of my short stories into a film. So man things. Why do I deserve them, why have things turned around so far since I was in the hospital and feeling very ill? I think a lot of it has to do with persistence, setting goals, and trying to work away at big projects just a little at a time over the course of months or even years.

One of the things where this applies is with my poetry. I try to write poems as often as I can and I safe them carefully in a file on my computer so that once I have enough of them I can publish them in a book, and for some reason people have really liked my poems. For anyone out there who is having mental health difficulties, I strongly encourage you to look for things that you can do that are artistic or helpful to others and just try and do a little each day. I was so fortunate after a very traumatizing hospital stay 16 years ago that I found a place where there was no stress and very little obligations outside housekeeping, a little bit of cooking, and taking medications (along with seeing my doctor). Sadly, not everyone is so lucky. But if you are on some kind of benefit, I really hope you can go out and volunteer a few hours a week, do as much as you comfortably can and you may work your way into a job and be able to save up a little money. What if you then could get a hand-held video camera and make video blogs for YouTube. I tried that for a while, and I learned a lot about people, about photography, and making videos. If you want to see some of my early attempts, about 40 videos of mine can be found on YouTube under my name.

Another thing I think had a lot to do with me getting to the point I am at now is keeping a journal of my thoughts and goals and anything I could think of. This let me express myself in a safe way, and is something that just about any Psychiatrist will recommend to their patients.

I would love it if a lot more people could write like I do, but some people aren’t interested. A lot of people love to read but have no interest in writing. Your passion could be anything. If you like swimming, think about taking a course towards a lifeguard certification. You may never become a lifeguard, but it will enrich your life in so many ways and I am sure make you a better swimmer. If you are an out of work accountant on disability, look up your local volunteer network and find a place that needs some basic accounting work done. This way you can not only hone your skills, but you won’t have a large gap in your resume when you feel up to looking for regular jobs in the field, and this applies to a lot of careers. And then I want to pass on a piece of advice that I heard recently from a video about minimalism, “Love people and use things. Don’t try it the other way around, it never works.” so much of my great life these days I owe to my family and friends. All of them mean the world to me. So good readers, please try and apply my advice towards making yourself feel better and stand up against stigma. And I wish you all the best of everything!

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Bipolar People and the Middle of the Night Poetry Musings

Please scroll past today’s poem to read today’s blog post!

Fall

By: Leif Gregersen

 

As I look out my bedroom window

Once stunning massive trees are now bare

And the temperature reads below zero

Dead leaves are everywhere

 

In the happy times

When I was just a little boy

The excitement of the season

Hinted at all the things I most enjoyed

 

Snowball fights in the school grounds

Cold nights bundled in my bed

Making snow forts in the back yard

Dreams of Christmas days in my head

 

Just a while longer

And the snow will fall

Skating, skiing, sledding

Always having such a ball

 

Now that I’m a grown-up

With not so many things to do

Except to keep my focus on

Loving, pleasing, caring for you

 

I’m now in my middle years

Almost past forty-five

There are still things to do and see

Though I admit I don’t feel quite as alive

 

And so I try to grasp onto my youth

By dating lovely girls like you

But the reality is the sad truth

That all the time I wish I could be born anew

 

October 13, 2017

 

Once Again It’s the Middle of the Night and I’m Wide Awake

Hello, dear readers! Well, my struggle continues. Today was actually kind of a great day, when I got up, I had to go to Staples with Taro (the manager of this building who handles my efforts to put on writing workshops). We had an enjoyable time having a quick coffee at Tim Horton’s, then I went to teach my class. I think it went really well. There weren’t too many people there, I think just five in total, but I really felt like I was in my element. I am starting to get better at handling classes with people who have mental health issues. One of the things I have noticed is that often people with these issues may be very confused about directions I give them and I don’t know if this is something cause and effect, but these people have a desire to speak and participate in the class even though it might be off topic. Today (creative writing) and yesterday (Wellness Recovery) I tried just letting them speak for a few minutes and then tried to direct them back to the material or gently encourage them to let others speak. It is actually really cool the way I am learning more about my own mental illness and my own writing skills as I do this. The only part that kind of worries me is that the person who was most supportive of my efforts to do the creative writing classes has been promoted and the new person may not be as supportive or trusting of me. The way I got this job was by going to a writer’s group and basically showing that I had enough knowledge to facilitate my own class.

To get back to the whole insomnia thing, I think one of my problems is that I have a few remedies in my cupboard that help me to sleep and I think sometimes I use them more than I should. One of them is melatonin, which works well but isn’t quite as much of a designer drug as some sleeping pills are. One of the problems with it is that it leaves you very drowsy even after a long sleep. When I take melatonin, I will get a good sleep, wake up to do what I must that day, then I have a strong desire to go home and sleep some more, which I often to and then I end up like I am now, wide awake at 2:00 in the morning. There is another side effect to it that I don’t know if everyone experiences, it happens when I take a lower dose than I need to get me to sleep, my lower back gets a restless, edgy feeling that completely prevents me from sleeping. I often have to get up and walk around or do something (like writing in my blog) to stop it from bothering me. My doctor has also said that if I have problems sleeping on occasion it is okay to take a couple of gravol. These anti-nausea pills give a pleasant sleep, but only if you are already tired enough to lay down. Also, I don’t like using them because I worry about dependancy and using a pill that wasn’t meant to help a person sleep. I feel that people with mental health issues walk a very thin line between abusing and carefully using our pills. The funny thing is that I seem to have no problem sleeping in the afternoon, and one of the ways I can sleep at that time is by taking a multi-vitamin which prevents me from having bad dreams.

So, no real solution to anything today. Just a lot of words about some sleep aid alternatives. I use one last method to help me sleep sometimes, what I do is just get up and write here in my blog. I honestly hope I am helping people by putting this out, please feel free to reach out to me if you like anything I have to say or want to chat. My email is as always, viking3082000@yahoo.com all the best!

Recovery Through Persistence and Fun

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Yes, my friends, worst fears have been realized!  I have become a comic book collecting nerd again and I’ve never been happier!  This shot was from a collector convention I recently attended

Scroll past today’s poem for today’s blog!

 

Who You Are

Do you think that you could come and crawl
Inside of me for just a moment

Look out through my own eyes
To see yourself for the very first time

Looking who you really are
With the eyes of another

It makes me think that you would understand
That so many things can change

Maybe it would inspire you
To lose a little weight

Remember more often to wash your hair
Wipe that little residue from the corner of your mouth

And stop
And stop

Insulting who I really am
Every chance you get

But I suppose that’s all too much to hope for
I can’t really ask you to change so much

But I was hoping if you did that you would see
Despite those things I love you all the same

Leif Gregersen
March 25, 2016

 

Hello Dear Readers!  This has been a great week for me.  As some may know, I am now the editor of two online magazines dealing with mental health (SZ and Anchor) and it is incredibly rewarding not only to work in the field I have chosen as a career, but also to work in something that I strongly believe in, which is mental health support and awareness.

I wish I could give my readers some message of how I got to the position where I am, but I think a lot of what I want to say has been said before.  Instrumental in me doing as well as I am is simply my housing arrangements.  I have been living in supportive housing for some time and with some supervision and help managing my life I have been able to live relatively stress free and been able to pursue some of these goals such as writing.

One of the things my new boss at the magazine, an incredible man named Bill MacPhee who has overcome schizophrenia talks about is that when you have an illness you have to be persistent.  I totally agree with this, it is so important to keep trying to succeed at whatever you want to do.  Some people with mental illnesses have lowered abilities and hence lowered goals, but the rule still applies.

It was funny, but a huge turning point in my writing career came from the strangest source.  I was at the house in the project I live in where we prepare our meals and there was this man named Bobby there.  Bobby always seemed to be angry and people had told me he didn’t like living there.  But one day I happened to find out that he had gone to journalism school and I asked him how he got magazines to run his writing.  In a short and simple conversation, Bobby kindly explained how to contact a magazine editor with a query and get an assignment.  Within the next few years I had been published all over North America and had made a fair bit of spending money thanks to simply not treating Bobby at face value.

There are many things to be learned by giving people respect and being interested in the things they do.  I feel that just about everyone has something to teach us, something to give us, and of course, being social creatures, just about everyone has the potential to be a friend.

So anyhow, I think I was talking about persistence.  Something I try to do is to write something each and every day.  Not everyone is destined to be a writer, but especially in the case of people living with a mental illness, it can be so important to keep a journal, a record of your thoughts and whatever you want to write down.  This is something for you, you never need to show it to anyone.  My mom used to keep one and she started out by recording how her mood was for that day and then talked (to herself in writing) about the things that were working in her mental health journey and such.  It can be very healing, and if you do ever decide to write something, the skills you will learn expressing yourself in your journal will carry through.

Living with a mental illness can be extremely difficult.  There are times when I really feel my medication isn’t working.  It is so important to have someone to talk to in these times.  This is why another thing I like to stress for a person with a mental illness is that they have strong friendships.  It might even be a good idea for that friend to be a fellow sufferer (or psychiatric ‘survivor’ as some say).  It may not always be best to dump all of your difficulties on this person, but if you have a friend you can talk to on a regular basis, there is always that ability to get together and talk or watch a movie or sports game and distract yourself, get out of your ‘head’ for a little while.  If you are able to do that with one or two close friends, you will find yourself dwelling less on the negatives.

One very powerful tool I have in my recovery toolkit is meditation.  I have actually heard that people who use meditation on a regular basis can actually reclaim lost areas of their physical brains, that it is a healing and regenerating process.  All I really do when I meditate is sit quietly and count my breathing from one to ten.  I close my eyes and as I count to ten, I simply try to focus on an object that has some meaning to me (some may use a ‘buddha’ statue) and keep my mind clear.  If thoughts about money or worries or anything start to come up, I just gently start my count over and try to focus.  Sometimes I can get lost in this process and sit for more than half an hour, almost unaware of time.  When I am done I end up feeling really good, it relieves stress, it clears your thoughts, there are many benefits.

Well, Dear Readers, I will leave off at that for now.  As always, I am open to any questions or concerns, complaints or anything you like, simply send me an email at viking3082000@yahoo.com and I will do my best to get back to you.  Have a great day!

Leif Gregersen

We Are All A Part Of The Same World

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Well, I just got back from watching the movie “Trumbo” and I really enjoyed it.  I hate to sound like some numbskull but I don’t know the name of the main actor.  He was the guy from ‘Breaking Bad’ and was absolutely brilliant in the role.  The main thing that bothers me about it is that I know when movies are made they end up very far away from anything to do with what really happened.  I am really intrigued by this story though, it was about a writer named Dalton Trumbo who wrote screenplays and was blacklisted in the early cold war years and was stonewalled from working in Hollywood because he had been a member of the communist party.  There were a lot of really interesting scenes in the movie, I think there were some accuracies, one of them that surprised me was John Wayne’s role as an advocate for anti-communist policies.  I don’t really know why this fact bothers me, I always really kind of liked John Wayne, I have always thought of him as larger than life, from such movies as “Sands of Iwo Jima” and many man others.  It could have to do with the fact that I had an Uncle who was John Wayne to me, he was tall and tough and didn’t take any bullshit.  I had a falling out with this Uncle when I was a teen and it really kind of hurt.  I am glad though and very grateful that I was able to visit him on his deathbed and I think he felt some pride in what I had done then.  Not to mention that, the old son of a gun borrowed five bucks off me and passed away before I could collect it so he had the last laugh.

To touch on the writing aspect of things, once again I wanted to tell people out there that have any interest in writing that they really should shoot for their dreams.  A few years ago I wrote, had edited and published my first book and it seems like I have been in a whole new time loop since then.  It is like life has slowed down and all my days are so much more meaningful, all the non-writing work I do has a point to it.  As some may know, I have now written and self-published nine books and I just want to write more and more.  And now as I have been concentrating my learning and effort and reading and everything really on this goal, things are starting to fall into place for me.  I just finished reading a book about a young woman with schizo-affective disorder, a combination of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and it gave me some really good ideas.  I have now been in touch with a psychiatric hospital and they are interested now in having me come and give a talk at one of their professional development events in the New Year, which means I might not only get a nice speaking fee I could sell quite a few books.  Things like this are popping up all over the place and I am actually thinking I am going to be run off my feet next month.  Not to mention that, I have been doing a lot of writing for magazines and now I am having no problem getting through each month and even spoiling myself and some family members with nice things.

So I will try and nail it down for anyone who hasn’t started the process.  Do you like to write?  If yes, move to the next item on the flowchart.  Choice A is, do you have a special angle?  Are you disabled, are you a minority, do you have a career or a true story that people find interesting.  If yes, then move forward to the non-fiction part of the flowchart.  Now, the other question is, are you creative or artistic, do you like movies and novels rather than true crime or non-fiction books like memoirs?  Then you may want to be a poet or a novelist or both.  There are so many things to explore, I could write a massive flowchart.  The fact is, you simply have to set out what type of writing you think you would be good at.  Then the next step is something that should be almost mandatory, you should keep a journal.  What’s a journal some of you may ask?  Is it a diary?  Not necessarily.  A journal is more your thoughts, your moods, what you want to capture, what you want to express.  Keeping a journal is something that I feel just about everyone with a mental illness should do, it is an excellent type of self therapy.   It is also a great way to get started as a writer.  The next step, whether you choose fiction or non-fiction is that you should start to expose yourself to the very best writing.  I love to go to big box book stores and scoop up all the literary journals I can afford.  Actually, today instead of doing this I went to the main library in Edmonton and scooped up a few that were available for borrowing.  I have found that when I read top notch poetry, I soon get inspired to write my own, and when I read top notch short stories I can get inspired or motivated to start to write, and I honestly think I write better after reading these journals.  The next step, first being writing a journal and the second being to expose yourself to the best quality writing in the genre you want to write (literary journals, award winning books, etc.) is to actually start to write.  If you don’t have good keyboarding skills, I suggest you take a course or get a typing tutor program.  Nothing in my entire education has served me more than taking one 5 month course in typing 29 years ago.  Nothing.  If I weren’t able to type I would be unable to keep up with my workload, would have been unable to write nine books.  Essential.

So where do you start?  I started my first book as short stories.  I told true stories from my life, put them into short stories and then collected them and over the course of a lot of years and a lot of trial and error, it became a book.  I don’t want to get too deeply into the process of self-publishing, I don’t even know if I am glad that I self-published, it has been very expensive and difficult, but it has been a transitioning phase for me.  I hate to admit it, but I am really not that good of a writer.  My whole education in English is nothing more than a grade 12 academic English course.  I have read a lot of books, but with the guidance I could have gotten in a creative writing program I would have been much better off, I would have been able to go past so many hurdles that knocked me on my arse.  We all have a different journey though.  I could also say I had some good times learning to write and I still find it exciting that I have a long way to go.  I have now gotten to the point where I am financially stable through my writing and disability pension, perhaps if I had gone to a creative writing program I would be much more demanding and whining about not having enough money and using that as an excuse to not create quality work.

Well, I think I am going to leave things at that.  Don’t forget to scroll down for today’s poem.  Tune in tomorrow and I will try and talk a little about magazine writing, something I think a lot of writers can use to help them get through the lean years of their careers and also have a lot of fun.

 

An Ode To Chief Seattle

 

The web of fate is woven by nature for us all

And a rare and lucky few will hear the call

Pulling them away from home, family and friends

But that doesn’t mean for these few happiness ends

 

In fact these wanderers can find things meaningful and more

By seeking self knowledge upon a distant shore

And new wonders of adventure and love can be found

When those who judge and hate are not around

 

Myself I think back often to a rainy day far from here

With new found friends that seemed so wonderful and dear

There was beauty and wonder back then in everything

We weren’t ashamed to laugh and cry and sing

 

But in the end the final choice was made for me

Now my body is chained to this place but my soul is free

I walk now down time worn paths to fulfill my dreams

And it is as if I’m walking on clouds and moonbeams

 

There have been times when life has knocked me down

But something deep inside made me get up for another round

You lose every bout where you stay down and give in

You must fight every battle with all you have from deep within

 

And you must love with every muscle nerve and bone

Never let yourself end up beaten and alone

Hold fast close friends and family and build a true home

And soon you will reap the seeds of love you’ve sewn

 

Whether you’ve been nowhere or to Australia and Rome

You can still feel sad and hurt and all alone

But I’m telling you my dear friends and family if you feel this way at all

Do what’s right and pick up the phone and please give me a call

 

I can’t promise to have any answers that will fix your pain

But I might have a hope of making you smile somewhat again

In the web of fate we are different strands but all one net

One family, one race, one world and in each other’s debt

December 18, 2015

Leif Gregersen

Across The Desperate Dangers of the Darkest Forest of Depression

 

Click here for ten quotes that may help you out of your depression

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Hello my Dear Readers!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hot Summer Night

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

But forever there has been something in your lovely blue eyes

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

 

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

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

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

I found you simply fascinating in so many ways

 

By some strange miracle we ended up close friends then lovers

You were like an epic novel so much between the covers

But that glow from our passion one day faded away

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

 

Through many years you brought my life such joy

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

The love that I have for you has never felt wrong

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

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

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

 

 

Leif Gregersen

May 26, 2015

The 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

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

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