poetry

Facing Up To Life Outside

Hello Dear readers! I thought I would just write a quick couple of lines before proceeding with today’s post. I haven’t been posting as much as I should lately, I suppose I have been feeling a little down and also I was pretty busy for a while. I am now going to try and take some time and build a better schedule so I can do more of the things I love to do, one being write poetry, another being photography, and yet another being writing this blog. There will be no photo today, just the following poem and a blog beneath it.

Fall Poem

By: Leif Gregersen

 

Winter nights are long forgotten often

In deepest summer’s green

Long hot walks, barbecues, and bike rides

And the air so fresh and clean

 

I guess I will forever wonder

Why I keep on living here

When I’ve sat in my car in minus fifty

Trying to keep my windows clear

 

When I look back to my early childhood

Those happy days leading up to winter break

I suppose if the weather were any different

The Christmas cheer would all seem so fake

 

A wise man and friend one said each season

Makes him appreciate the opposite extreme

And I have to admit in winter time

I get more time to write and think and dream

 

Then there is also a clear memory

Of being with my departed mom

Crunching fallen leaves as we walked

Just happy to be with each other, out in the sun

 

If I had to pick a season

That gave the most to me

I would be hard pressed to find a reason

Which meant more or less to me

 

As long as I can gaze up

At the stars and planets and the moon

And know I kept diligently working, never gave up

In either January or in June

 

I will always be able to accept any problems

With the passing of seasons and time

As long as I can still make something beautiful each day

Wasting your life is such a crime

 

Well, I hope you enjoyed today’s poem. It was kind of fun to write. I often mention that I am not sure why I stay in Edmonton when it gets so cold here and there are more fun places to be. For a time I lived in Vancouver and it seemed like every minute was another great experience. I liked a lot of things about Vancouver like the night life and the beauty of the mountains and all that. I have truly come to get used to Edmonton though, and Vancouver is much more expensive than Edmonton (which is actually still pretty bad). One thing I wanted to discuss is how people with mental illnesses can fall into a trap of thinking that all they need to do is move to be happy. I went through this for a while, and there were some advantages to moving, I can recall for a while having some very nice apartments, but the fact was I would have been much better off trying to get into a subsidized place that had some supervision. I definitely could have benefitted from more life skills training, not just in communicating and relating to others, but in the importance of a proper diet and actual skills on how to keep my home clean. I have to say that after many years I have arrived at an ideal situation where I now get those things, but I wonder if I would have had more growth in my life before that if I hadn’t emphasized living on my own and constantly moving.

Anyhow, that’s a short one for today. As always, feel free to give feedback, and keep working on your wellness!

The World of a Writer (a ‘crazy’ writer?)

A World Well Travelled

https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/general/i-feel-empty-when-a-lack-of-meaning-is-something-more-serious/

Well, I don’t know if I have it in me to write a poem today. I guess I wanted to talk about all the stuff in my life that’s been going on. I haven’t been writing blogs much at all for the past couple of weeks and I have to admit I miss it. A few days ago I taught a poetry workshop which was a lot of fun. I am getting more of a good reputation with the public library for doing these things. The main problem is that I see myself as doing more, working more, making more money, but not being able to handle it and eventually spiral down the drain to insanity as I have done so many times before. It really scares me that I will lose the friends I have now and maybe even lose the respect I have built up with my dad.

Speaking of my dad, I have been spending quite a bit of time with him lately and I have been learning a lot not just about him but about myself, especially about the times when I was mentally ill. It is so hard to describe mental illness to someone who has never experienced it. People think they can just apply logic to their thoughts and mental illness will go away. I am proof positive that even the most preposterous false truths can embed themselves into your thoughts. One of the worst things is that there are people out there who really hate the mentally ill, and some of them actually work in hospitals where they lock up people with a mental illness.

When I think back to the days when I just got out of the hospital, I was a real mess. I wonder why when I left they gave me back my gun license because I nearly saved up the money to buy a gun with it and it was my intention to rob a bank with it. Just a few months before that I was a somewhat innocent, straight edged young man who would never think of something like that. But the strain of becoming mentally ill and of being taken away from my home, my family, my friends, and even my school were incredible. One of the weirdest things is that it was at this time that I met a lot more females than I ever did as a supposed ‘nice guy.’ I don’t think any of those relationships would have lasted at all because I was having very serious problems. Somehow I had always known I had bipolar. I just spent most of the time in the depressive phase of it. I can remember coming back from a cadet camp and seeing a friend who gave me a ride home and I was incredibly manic despite spending most of the past weekend without sleeping.

I guess what I want to think about now is living on an even keel. I don’t know if I will have to give up all my commitments, but the way I live I don’t really need the money I’m making. I have never been closer to my  goal of being well off and able to support myself but I don’t know how long I could keep this up. I have this hope that I can find a counsellor or psychologist who can talk me through it. Heaven knows I have tried everything else.

 

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

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

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

https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/therapy/how-do-i-find-a-therapist-near-me/

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

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

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

 

Last Best Chance

My love I am always thinking of you

And how I have feelings that are true

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

 

In the dark deep night my mind begins to race

As I worry, fret and pace

Nothing seems to please me anymore

 

The first time I ever saw your face

Even my loneliness could never erase

The loveliness I saw deep inside your eyes

 

Each day that passes finds me here

With no friends or lover near

The only one I have to blame is me

 

There were many loves in my younger days

And I pursued them in my own weird ways

Never understanding I could ever end up alone

 

Plus I had so many true, close friends

On whom I always thought I could depend

But hard times took most of those away from me

 

I’ve been desperate and depressed

Sought forgiveness and went to be blessed

But found out it came down to not loving you enough

 

From the first day my life had begun

Fate made you the only one

I could have ever asked to be my true soul mate

 

So I ask if you could read these simple words

And not feel sad, scared or disturbed

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

 

Things happen to each and every one

But you were always so loving and fun

Please forgive and take me in your arms again

 

I won’t make any promises to you

Except that each day will feel happy, fresh and new

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

 

Too many years have already passed

You’ve always been the first and last

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

 

Coping With Isolation While Suffering From a Mental Illness

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Photograph of an Edmonton Morning From the Tip of the River Valley

https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/depression/how-to-deal-with-depression-tips-techniques-treatment/

Well, I have been trying to keep busy lately, and seem to be doing well.  As many may know, I moved into my own apartment from a group home three months ago.  There are a lot of things that seem to be going really well.  I have just about finished my very first University course, Humanities 101 which has been great.  We have gone over a lot of different information from a visit to the University’s Observatory to a special class with a drama instructor.  In many ways, I feel it has helped me not only get back into the groove that I used to enjoy so much about school, but it has also helped me to sharpen my critical thinking skills.  The main problem right now is that I am feeling a little isolated not having roommates around to talk to or bounce ideas off.

There have been a lot of really good things going on, though.  My friend Richard Van Camp, who is a bestselling author and film producer seems to have found me a publisher for my latest short story collection.  After a few final edits, I will be sending my manuscript off likely early next week.  There are a few other really great pieces of news in my life, one is that the Edmonton Public Library has chosen to spotlight me as a writer in 2017 for three months, likely in the second or third quarter of the year.  They will have me plan two events and advertise me on their website among other cool stuff.  And then I will also be facilitating a writing class in the New Year, possibly more than one of them.  I think that will be just about all I will be able to handle.

At the moment I am nursing a sore back, and I took some muscle relaxants to help me deal with it.  I had hoped the pills would help me sleep but they don’t seem to be working that way.  I am having so much trouble sleeping that I am near to the point of asking for sleeping pills, but I have found that sleeping pills affect a person’s memory and that is something that is just about essential to my writing.  There are more options, I have tried to exercise more but it seems that can make me sleep less.  Among the other options is to eliminate naps and cut off caffeine at a certain time.  These strategies have worked for me before, but when you live alone it can be difficult to follow routines.  I guess I am a bit worried that moving out was a mistake, but there really were a lot of useless rules in the place I came from.  I still get a little support day to day from the staff at the building I moved into, it often becomes easy though to fall into the trap of just not leaving the house.  I have been combatting that by taking extended long walks for groceries or to malls and other errands.  The result is that I feel better in general, but my feet and back seem to be taking kind of a pounding.  I thought I would like to walk to a medical clinic in the morning to see about getting something for my back and maybe some advice on sleep remedies but walking four miles for something like that seems almost self-defeating.

One thing that is good is that I seem to have been getting out enough to keep my social skills in order.  Yesterday I gave a presentation for the Schizophrenia Society and it seemed to go really well.  I enjoy that job a lot, it is just about the perfect thing for me.  I go out to a school or meeting place, talk for half an hour and get paid for three hours.  It is hard to have been used to the money I made setting up stages but that job was taking a toll on me.

Something that has been on my mind is my brother, the musician/chef/philosopher.  He had a herniated disc in his back that needed surgery and is in terrible pain and now a doctor has told him he may have another herniated disc.  The first surgery was awful, he had to wait six months and could do almost nothing the whole time, it really kills me to see him in so much pain.  Sometimes all a person can do is keep a smile on their face and pray, though.

So I don’t really know what coping skills I gave any of you today.  I have been finding that meditation has been pretty helpful in me keeping my head screwed on straight.  I would like to go back to going to mass, I don’t know what has been keeping me from it.  All in all, actually, things are as good as could be expected.  I have a birthday coming next week and I am going to spend it with friends, I don’t really need to worry much about having things to do or money for food or anything.  I still find myself a little worried and a little sad at times.  I suppose nothing can ever be perfect.  I apologize that there is no poem for today, I haven’t felt much like writing poetry.  I should get down to some though since I will be teaching how to write it again soon.  Take care dear readers, and say a prayer for my brother if you have the strength.

Employment: How Much Can You Handle, How Much is Too Much?

Employment and Stress Blog With Poem at the End of Post

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                   How Much Employment is Too Much?  How Do You Know When You Reach Your Limit?

Please Scroll Past Today’s Blog if You Want To Just Read The Poem of the day!

     Well, I would like to talk about our limitations with regards to employment.  This is a very difficult question for me because I was raised in a family of people who worked very hard.  As you may have figured from my picture above as well, in my formative years (12-15) I was in an Air Cadet Squadron and there was a strong emphasis on work ethic and conservatism.  I did well in Cadets, I loved that I was rewarded for working hard, and often out-working my peers if I could.  But time and stress started to hit me and when I got a little older I was influenced by someone a little more left-wing.  It was a person who did believe in hard work, he just hated it.

When I was younger, I had a lot of jobs despite that I was likely a young person suffering from a mental illness.  Even before I was very old I worked in my dad’s shop, I delivered papers, I got my sister to pay me to do her chores (she had a job and made good money as a waitress in a steak house).  My plan was to have a huge comic book collection that I would use to finance my University Education.  I was 10.  Later in life I wore myself down to where I would spend most of the money I made from successive jobs on things like stereos, computer games, cars, motorcycles.  I think it was a mistake.  There is no way to tell how things may have worked out for me, but if I had taken the energy I put into buying those things and put them into my studies, I could have easily gotten scholarships.  One of my big problems was that I didn’t know anything about scholarships or University, having no family members who had gone there, and that I was digging an early grave for myself surviving on pizza and coca-cola and getting so little sleep I turned sleeping in class to an art form.

At the age of 18 I don’t know what happened, I don’t know what to tell you.  It had been a long and difficult winter, I had been fighting with my dad almost daily, he had tried a couple of times to kick me out of the house and no one seemed to care at all about me, and I was soon to have nowhere to live meaning I would lose all my property (including the comic books).  Added to that, a close friend committed suicide which devastated me, and for some reason I began to think that I could develop a new way of thinking and acting that would make people like me and turn me into some kind of hero.  This was the point when I started to slip away from reality.  Oh yes, I forgot to mention that I was working a job where I was getting screwed over for a promotion among mostly men twice my age.  This is where the word ‘psychosis’ comes in handy.  ‘Psychosis’ involves a loss of contact with reality.  Slowly I slipped into it, and soon all kinds of crazy ideas went through my head.  I ended up in the hospital and when I got out, all there was to help me to live was social services/welfare.  I felt so wronged by society, I took out my anger on employers, on my family.  It was a mess.

There is much more to talk about on this topic, but basically, I want to say that if I had seen the signs of stress coming, if I had been able to quit school and my job and be honest with my family about what was going on in my head and get help, there is a real likelihood I could have avoided numerous hospital stays.  But I don’t want to think like that.  I do want to think like my life has ended up well.  I have some incredible friends and an amazing life.  I just kind of wish that I can write these blogs and that someone out there can see some of these signs in themselves and be able to avoid some of the terrible things that happened to me.  It really is no fun having a breakdown and ending up in the hospital.  Most of the time you go through it, then recover and just get sick again, often whether you take your medication or not.  I see it often, and it is incredibly sad.  Some of the best advice I heard a person in this situation get was to a former employer, Bill MacPhee, who was told, “If you don’t find something to do you’re going to be in and out of the hospital the rest of your life.”  Bill wrote a book, he speaks at conferences all over the place and he has a couple of companies that serve people with mental health issues.  I hope you enjoy the poem below!

Edmonton, Fall 2016

 

The days of cold and wet have come to be

We will soon lost upon a snowy white frozen sea

Although the summer this year was a little longer

The power of the frozen north is stronger

 

I can’t tell you why I love this place, my home

I know that it appears I’m always alone

Up here the icy cold cleanses clean it all

And up here I haven’t got quite so far to fall

 

On the rainy coast out West I get sick and cough

In the desert heat of Arizona I would be lost

It comes down to being free, and what is best for me

I love this crisp cold place can’t you see

 

Not long ago, it’s true, I flew very far away

And to be honest, a part of me wanted to stay

But here I have those I love and my simple life

And a best friend who once could have been my wife

 

Maybe it is wrong of me to be afraid of letting go

But I’m happy here, and happy to let life unfold this slow

I also want to be here for my dad who soon may pass away

Because I know it shall be my turn one day

 

There is something special when you live somewhere a while

I feel re-energized with each kind hello and smile

I also like being able to volunteer and serve the poor

There is no other way my life could possibly mean more

 

And so I spend my days with those I care for near

And spend my nights writing my poetry right here

When life is lived to the fullest there is no more fear

That when I’m gone no one will shed a tear

 

And perhaps if what the bible says is true

When I am forever gone I will be born anew

In a place that was meant for a poet like me

Floating on a cloud in a perfect joyful sea

 

Leif Gregersen

Poetry, Bipolar, and Coping Skills: Becoming an Advocate

Poetry, bipolar and coping skills: These are what started out as my therapy and what made me become a public speaker and author, advocating for mental health awareness and mental illness understanding.  I hope all of you enjoy today’s blog, I am writing it after having the extreme honor of being asked to speak at the U of A medical school as someone with life experience with mental illness and the treatment of my disorders in the hospital.

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The Rushing Waters of Athabasca Falls in Jasper National Park

Today’s Poem:  (please scroll past for today’s blog entry)

This Time Means So Much

 

Now in the darkness

Combing through my life

Now in the starlight

Moment by moment

 

I fear there were things

I could have completed

I fear there were things

I must have done wrong

 

Here in the darkness

I try to replay the madness

Here in the nighttime

I try to forgive myself

 

What did she mean

When she asked me to leave

What did it mean

When she never called back

 

Here in the moonlight

I don’t know if she even liked me

But here in the darkness

I can make it all make sense

 

Here in the dim light

My thoughts torture me

Here in the night light

I hope to lay all the past to rest

 

It helps me a little

To meditate on the cinch points

It helps me I think

To not make those mistakes once again

 

Here in the cool night

Staring up at the stars

Watching the moon’s glory

I find strength to move on

 

Leif Gregersen

September 19, 2016

     Well, I would like to talk a little about how I became something of an advocate for mental health awareness.  I owe a great deal of what I have become to a young woman named Jillian Jones who worked at the Schizophrenia Society and supported and instructed me to the point where I could go to schools, training classes, community organizations, including colleges and universities and talk about how mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder affected me and why it is so important to have an understanding of mental illness.  Of course, there were many other people, one of them being an old friend named Donna who one day said she could help me get the book I had written published and referred me to an excellent editor.  Without my book, I don’t know if I would have gone on to give talks and promote mental health awareness like I have.

There are a lot of people and organizations I would like to acknowledge, but the fact is that mental illness is something so insidious that it takes a lot of help from a lot of people over the whole course of a person’s life to overcome it.   Sometimes I feel bad that it takes so many of society’s resources to keep me going, but the fact is if you look at things honestly, I would be costing society a lot more if I either was a permanent patient in a hospital or if I were homeless and insane.  Many people like to shy away from the word insane, but the cold fact is that without my medication and treatment team, I would soon be insane.  Psychosis would slowly creep up on me, I would get grandiose and delusional thoughts, and I may even act on them.  I am so lucky that it has been fifteen years since those things have happened, but I constantly have to remind myself that the dark specter of mental illness is just under the surface of my psyche.

I don’t want to just write about the negative side of mental illness, though, I would like to write about some coping strategies I have learned.  One of them, of course, is goal setting.  I recall first getting out of the hospital and being asked by an occupational therapist what I wanted to do for a career.  Some may have said they didn’t think they would ever work again, and I have to be honest, I had some doubts, but I said that I wanted to be a writer.  She asked how I would go about this and I said I would train myself over the next five years.  It actually took ten, but I think if I didn’t have that goal in mind in leaving the hospital it would have never happened.  When a person has a life affected by mental illness, there is a long chain of things that should happen.  First, they need to be put on medications, which could mean, but not always, that the person has to go into a hospital.  Somehow they need to be made to understand that they must trust their treatment team and take their advice.  After they get more stable, I think it is important to take a lot of life skills training.  These classes can teach a person how to interact with others, communicate, control anger, and many more things.  Life skills training in things like cooking and managing a household are goo too, but that isn’t the life skills I mean right now.  After that, no matter what age the person is, unless they are able to resume working a job they had before, is to get some kind of education.  Personally, I took a lot of free courses through the public library which not only allowed me to learn how to use this website, but also taught me magazine writing, poetry writing, and many other skills that have helped me support myself with the aid of a disability pension.  The next step after educational training is to get a job, even if you have to start as a volunteer.  Volunteering can be so rewarding, I used to visit seniors and talk with them and read to them.  The great thing about volunteering is that you can pick what you want to do and get real world experience in something that you never dreamed you would be able to do.  I have a friend who volunteered for a long time at a community police station, another friend who was a welder in an aviation museum.

Well, that will be about the whole shebang for today.  It would be great if people could comment or give feedback to me about what they feel about my website.  I can be reached at the email viking3082000@yahoo.com if anyone wants to discuss things privately.  Mental health to all!

Leif Gregersen

 

 

Six Under, Five Over. Welcome to Hell

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

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

Six Under

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

That I could avoid it

When I say it I mean death

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Beauty of a Changing Perspective

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Got this great close-up of a Common Aerial Yellowjacket Wasp yesterday

Today’s poem:

Garden Crescent

 

Each day of my youth on those crisp cold winter nights

I could see each star, all the stars afforded the place

Where I grew up; a gift of living in the north

 

While walking home from the store; finished with

My noisy spaceship fantasies imaginings banged out

On computers encased in wooden boxes to which

 

I would feed quarters.  There was the big dipper

I was blind to Mars and Venus, Jupiter; even my own

Sign; not the dawning of Aquarius but Saggitarius

 

The big dipper was the only constellation I knew

I almost saw it as one thing, not stars as far from each

Other as they were from me.

 

Often on those days the dancing sheets of light

Would come to amaze amuse astound

It was only one block home but in a young boy’s mind

 

It was a billion light years travel time

And everything seemed so real, so much more alive

In the insignificance of my own existence

 

Stars by the millions light travelling over eons and decades

Some gone before I was even born so I could

Catch their light at the precise moment it reached Earth

 

I wonder then as I wonder now

How so many celestial bodies could exist

Just far enough away to barely see them

 

And not see them in the day

Night was my time then as it is now

This poem my guide into darkness

 

 

Leif Gregersen

May 10, 2016

 

Hello and good morning to all those who like to follow this blog.  I had the most amazing experience today.  I went to teach my Monday creative writing class, and I felt an incredible connection to the adults with mental health issues I was working with at the mental health club where the class takes place.  There was one young man who is brilliant in many ways and always participates in exercises.  He also has a great reading voice.  The sad part is that he lives with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, and it has been a huge barrier to living for him.  He told me that he wished the class would go on permanently every Monday not end in a few weeks.  There is a woman in the class who is a bit shy though very mature who didn’t think she could ever write anything worthwhile and in the first class I taught we had a mini poetry competition, and her poetry won.  She has been coming ever since and today brought three pages of beautiful rhyming poems to show me.  The class went incredibly well; I felt like I was really in command of the subject and that we were doing something that benefitted all of us.  It made me want to call my sister who has a Master’s in Education and teaches in Toronto and attempt to describe to her how great teaching makes me feel, but I think she understands.

Things seem to be happening so fast lately.  In just a few more weeks I will be on a plane to London, England.  Next week I will be working on the setup of an outdoor Beyonce concert to pay for my trip and then there is something that I am stressing over a bit, I am going to head to a Junior High School and lead a poetry workshop.  I think I have prepared enough to handle the event, but still I feel a bit nervous.  I have been doing so many public talks and teaching jobs that it really shouldn’t be a problem, I think I will even have fun with it.  I am conscious though of the possibility that I am taking on too much at once.  It really is getting hard to sleep.  Today I got my bus pass and London map in the mail.  At 11:30 pm I got out of bed just to google the Hostel I will be staying in to see if they have lockers.  I think though, that all I really have to do is act like Santa Claus for anything that stresses me like classes or trips or anything.  Make a list, and check it twice.  Then do something I learned from the wealthy people in my hometown.  If there is any kind of a problem, just make sure and throw money at it and make damn sure you have enough.

Aside from all that, I did do something that I think was really helpful.  I needed to get a few things, and I have been thinking a lot about how ripped off people are when they live in inner city areas and need to buy their things at private drug stores, cash their cheques at rip-off finance outfits, and buy their food at convenience stores.  It can be really expensive to be poor in this world.  So I elected to hop on the bus which I knew would take an hour to get to the discount stores and just brought a book.  It was one I bought some time ago that I had put down but not because I didn’t enjoy it.  It is a book about Buddhism called “Wherever You Go, There You Are” and it was such a nice feeling to get away from all distractions and just sit on the bus, the blocks rolling past as I enjoyed looking at my own thoughts and actions from a different perspective.  Reading really is such an amazing, healing process.  Writing isn’t far behind.

LG

 

Every Day in Every Way Things Get a Little Better

Hello, Dear Readers!  Please see below for today’s poem and below that for today’s blog.  I wanted to share with you an effort I am making to help support myself as a creative person without having to work my normally extremely difficult and dangerous job.  I have started a Patreon page where people can make pledges to support me and in return, I will send them poetry, printed and frameable photos, signed short story manuscripts at regular intervals and even set up group discussions with me either by phone, google hangouts or email to talk about anything you wish, be it writing or otherwise related.

CLICK HERE TO VISIT MY PATREON PAGE

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This is a bit of a rough picture I took of something known as a “blood moon” I tried getting better shots, but I was chased off by some security guards from where I had set up and had to take this photo through a fence.  It was kin of cool to see the red moon which was much larger earlier that evening.

Today’s Poem:

The First Green of Summer

 

 

The sun shines above grass grows underneath us

Share with me another great victory

This is the time to be happy

Winter is gone and we’re free

 

Lush green trees and lovely white flowers

The geese and the convertible cars

The sun is hot and beating down on my shoulders

And at night I can lay I cool grass and stare at the stars

 

Come and meet me leave your sweater or jacket

Don’t forget your camera and something to drink

Winter skiing was a spectacular experience

And so was playing shinny for hours at the rink

 

But we must change and grow with the seasons

It’s toasty hot and there is so much to do

Come on out and meet me we don’t need any reasons

To enjoy each moment of this season all the way through

 

Each day grows a little bit longer

Each night it is harder to sleep

I lay awake for long hours with no covers

But stil a joy fills my heart so perfect and deep

 

Forty-four years may have taken a few things from me

But this glorious sunshine has given all of it back

It’s good to be this old because of the freedom

And the fact that there is nothing I lack

 

Walk through forested trails or ride your bike by the river

The sun and the sky is a glorious gift

Or lay back in the grass with a novel

Just let the weather give your heart a lift

 

And yes now we should embrace all our loved ones

And honor those no longer with us

Make your plans to take trips and find new fun

Planning good times in summer is so much less fuss

 

Remember we all have just a short time

To love those who are close by our side

Letting summer pass by seems like it’s a crime

Let go of all of your anger and pride

 

Join with me hand in hand in the sunlight

And know that both of our futures are bright

 

Leif Gregersen

     Well Dear Readers, a lot has been happening.  I recently booked a trip to Lonon, England and I am looking forward to it immensely.  I’m actually having a pretty hard time getting to sleep thinking about my little adventure and some other ones I’m going to take this year.  In August I have booked a trip to Toronto were I will stay at my sister’s house and due to a scheduling problem she is actually going to be here in Edmonton while I am there at her house.

The cool things that have been happening lately are that I went to my home town library on Monday and gave a talk for an hour and a half.  I think that was the most time I had spent in front of an audience without a break.  I read from my books, told my own story and read a couple of short stories that I feel were of a fairly high quality.  The main point of going though was to help educate people about mental illness, though it didn’t hurt to get my name known among more people as far as writing goes.  I had hoped to sell some books, but made no sales.  The good thing though was that the library gave me a $100 honorarium which was nice.  I think I am really starting to make an impact on things.  It seems wherever I go people tell me they saw me in the newspaper or on TV or had seen me speak somewhere.  I had been advised before to try and get emails from as many of my customers as I could so I could keep in touch with them but I have some problems with adminstrative things.  What I am learning is that there is money out there to be a writer, to give workshops and talks, but you really have to get good at it.  I am doing a lot of things like giving talks for the Schizophrenia Society of Alberta and teaching a creative writing class and I think it is really helping my confidence.  I still get worried now and then that someone will come and get in my face about things I did far in the past or even that I will bump into someone from a horribly failed relationship and not know what to say.  So far things have been going really good though.

Well, that is just about all I have on my mind.  I was surprised to learn that my posts are reaching a lot of people.  As always, I would love to get feedback on some of the things people might want to see on this blog, issues I can address, questions you may have.  Feel free to contact me at viking3082000@yahoo.com if this sounds like you.  Take care my good readers, and stay mentally and physically healthy, you deserve it!

Leif Gregersen

 

Raw and Uncensored Manic Depressive Digressions

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

Today’s Poem:

Disguise

 

Angel blond hair

Deep blue eyes

 

Lost and lonely

A wall between us

 

I wanted

I wanted to love you

 

Wall between us

Pain on one side

 

Look in these eyes

Yes mine

 

You will see pain

If you can look past the disguise

 

God in heaven

I am lonely

 

This is how I ask

You to reach out to me

 

This is how I tell the world

I’m the one truly hurting

 

I keep silent and show only

Only rage only silence

 

But I have to lie

Not just to you; to everyone

 

I have to keep up the pain

It feeds me

 

The pain; the disguise

I’m just a hollow shell inside

 

 

Leif Gregersen, April 30/2016

 

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

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

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

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

Leif Gregersen