writing

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

A World Well Travelled

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.

 

Stress Management For Those With Mental Health Problems

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

Love Poem

 

Not one of us will leave this world alive

We must show love to those we care for every day

Think upon all the things for which you strive

 

Do you think too much about the car you drive

Do you care about what others see and say

Not one of us will leave this world alive

 

There is truly just one way to thrive

One must give from deep within in every way

Think upon the things for which you strive

 

Caring, loving, giving is the only way to derive

A life with a special beauty like a grand ballet

Not one of us will leave this world alive

 

Sometimes into dark waters we must dive

Knowing nothing, only being able to pray

Think upon the things for which you strive

 

Give up plotting, planning, please don’t connive

For each thing you take you will be made to pay

Not one of us will leave this world alive

Think upon the things for which you strive

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Worrying and Self-Doubt

Well, it has been an interesting week. I finally have a few days off to do what I like which is nice. I have a hard time when I get stressed from doing too many things and sometimes I react to it by sleeping way too much. I know this wreaks havoc on my system and makes it very hard to function in line with the world of the normal people. So many good things have been happening to me, but I know that things won’t stay good for me if I can’t do something about my excessive sleeping.

I feel really blessed today because I was contacted by the City of Edmonton and asked if I could come and give a talk about mental health at the Edmonton Public Library. On Monday I will be just finishing up a six-week contract to teach creative writing and there are many other opportunities coming my way. Still, for some reason, I find a need to worry. One of the big things that I worry about is money. Every now and then I work or do some photography and make a few extra bucks, but then it seems that the money just runs away from me. I am at a point now where I have savings to at least get me through one month of difficulties, but I keep thinking about ways I could spend the money on what I deem “more fun” things. There are cameras I would like to buy, I am always thinking of buying a car or taking a trip. It all seems like such a waste and it took so much effort just to have just the small amount of savings I do have.

I also worry sometimes about my ability as a writer. I went to a story slam the other day and really felt outclassed. I was the first reader up and was quickly knocked out of the competition. This is even after winning two story slams last year. Another thing that happened was that I won a contest for a 24-hour short story that got me $300 USD. I took the story and tried to publish it elsewhere but with no luck. I am really feeling the pinch of not having been able to go to University and take creative writing. Fortunately, I have some good friends who help and support me in making my writing as good as I can make it.

One of the things that often gives me comfort when I find myself worrying is doing meditation or taking long walks. I had planned to walk the 2km to the post office today, but the ice and snow and freezing rain was pretty bad so I ended up taking the bus. When I do take the time to meditate, what I often like to do is to read some of my Asian books about spirituality say from the Dalai Lama or ancient writings like Lao Tzu and then just sit, either cross-legged or not, close my eyes and simply try to focus on nothingness, empty space as I count my breath, breathing in and out until a thought comes up that distracts me, then I go back to zero and try to make it to a count of ten. It can be very helpful to take some training in this, I once used to go to a real Tibetan Monk for classes and it was a big help, very healing.

 

The Trap of Mental Illness and Disability Benefits: Do You Want To Risk It?

dsc_0904

               A View of Downtown Edmonton From Outside My New Apartment

¬† ¬† ¬†Hi, I wanted to talk a little about disability benefits today. ¬†This is a senstive topic for many reasons. ¬†One of the big ones, as I know a good deal of my readers are from the United States, is that people on Welfare or even Social Security Benefits are looked down upon. ¬†The tax burden on Americans is great, plus the cost of health care and this ends up worsening the problem from both ends. ¬†People with mental illnesses are faced with costs that can’t be managed for medications, hospital treatment, doctors, housing and on and on. ¬†The way the American system seems to be set up to work is that each person is responsible for themselves, and when someone has a severe mental illness, this can be just about impossible. ¬†I can recall being in the US and simply knowing a guy who applied for foodstamps and then discussing it with an older gentleman and he literally stopped talking to me after we had travelled together for 3 days. ¬†It seemed a harsh judgement and pretty ignorant, but this is the way many people down there think and there are valid reasons for this attitude. ¬†I feel very fortunate to live in Canada and to have a disability benefit program plus health care and on top of that I get heavily subsidized housing and free fitness and leisure access. ¬†It almost seems like paradise, but it definitely has its drawbacks. ¬†One of them is that if I do go out and get a job, I have to limit my income to less than a minimum wage job or lose my benefits completely. ¬†With the cost of psychiatric medications this would be a staggering blow. ¬†At the present point I’m at I don’t honestly know if I could hold down a full-time job for any length of time, but I also don’t want to live the rest of my life with no improvements in my standard of living.

Some 27 years ago I found myself in a homeless shelter, mentally ill and penniless due to prolonged hospital admissions. ¬†There were very few options left for me and so I made an application to join the military. ¬†This would have provided me health benefits, an income, and a purpose in my life. ¬†My application process was interrupted by a fight with my dad that sent me to the shelter, and I decided that since I was working towards something that I could do something I thought was unthinkable-I would apply for welfare benefits. ¬†I will never forget the words of the social worker when I applied, as she looked up from the forms she was filling out for me, “Don’t get caught in the trap.” ¬†I think she meant more along the lines of the trap of drug abuse or alcoholism and circle of poverty. ¬†But whatever she meant, due to my mental illness, I was never able to join the military, and I later failed a concerted attempt to complete commercial pilot school, and was unable to hold down a full-time job. ¬†For me the trap wasn’t in getting money for nothing, it was in that every time I tried to do something, either I was told I was ineligible as a person with a mental illness, or that I would try and do a job set before me and the incredible pressure of working up to acceptable standards was simply too much. ¬†I was caught in a trap, and in some ways I still am.

Things are improving in my life though, I have found a part-time job that I am good at and that I enjoy. ¬†I give talks to students about mental illness for the Schizophrenia Society, and I have written a number of books. ¬†The books give me little income, but together I manage to put food on the table. ¬†One thing I often think about is that despite that numerous times I went over the brink into madness, I now have a good life with stable housing and income and something to do, but I have a lot of regret that I have no life partner. ¬†This is another trap that people with mental illnesses have to be aware of, the isolation factor, and it has a lot to do with receiving benefits. ¬†If you don’t have to force yourself to get up and get out and look for work, you may just sit inside and watch TV and never care if you have friends or a significant other, and years will fly past and a person will have nothing but regrets. ¬†One of the reasons that people end up isolated like this besides recieving benefits is that there is a lot of stigma surrounding mental illness. ¬†One thing with me is that I used to try and hide the fact that I have a diagnosed illness, but now I am very forward about it. ¬†So many people, when you stop trying to hide things, will tell you they suffer, they have a family member or close friend that suffers.

Anyhow, a lot of that is beside the point I was trying to make. ¬†How do you avoid the trap that going on benefits causes? ¬†You may not be able to, but you can make your life as full as possible. ¬†I always like to say that the first thing you need to do with a mentally ill person is get them proper treatment, proper medications. ¬†Then you need to take some therapy that will help you understand yourself. ¬†After that, a life skills course or Wellness Recovery Action Plan course can help a great deal. ¬†From there, even if it just means taking one course, get some school under your belt. ¬†While you are doing this, find ways to keep fit and healthy, in what you do with your body and what you put in it. ¬†Quit smoking if you smoke. ¬†Then, try and find work, even part-time. ¬†Spend as little as possible, and save, and keep taking your medications, work on your mental health on an ongoing basis, and before you know it, you may forget you ever were sick. ¬†It isn’t an easy process, and it isn’t a simple one, but it is one that is worthwhile. ¬†I like to keep telling people that you need to have goals and direction, specific ones. ¬†“I want a bachelor’s degree in six years.” would be an excellent one. ¬†“I want to be stabilized and back working in two years, earning enough to drive a car and rent my own apartment.” is another good one. ¬†Once you have goals, you have a direction to move in, and if you are having a hard time, you can end up feeling so much better about yourself from just working a little bit each day towards your goal. ¬†Take care Dear Readers!

Mental Health and Sleeplessness/Insomnia (Poem/Photo Below Blog)

Do you have trouble sleeping despite being on strong medications to help you rest? ¬†There are ways to treat insomnia that can help you a great deal. ¬†It depends partially on what your diagnosis is. ¬†I have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which means I have to watch out for highs and lows in my mood, and, of course, need medication. ¬†I find that often in either extreme of mood I have trouble sleeping. ¬†Insomnia can be very difficult to deal with, and when you are already struggling to hold down a job and perhaps suffering from a mental illness, it gets even worse. ¬†I think one of the best ways to deal with insomnia is, first of all, to try and eliminate napping. ¬†This is something I find difficult because I often have a lot of time on my hands on days when I don’t have work or class. ¬†I don’t like watching TV much so I either have to force myself to work on something, or nap and end up not being able to sleep at night. It takes discipline, and maybe it will take another part-time job or hobby but napping has to go.

One thing I found that can help a great deal with not being able to sleep is to exercise. ¬†Many people don’t have the benefit I do of a nearby fitness facility with pool and weight room, but there is still a way to do push-ups, go for walks, join a Yoga class, or if you want to try Yoga, simply get a mat and a video you can work with at home. ¬†Something I have to be very aware of with this solution is that sometimes exercise can send me into a manic state. ¬†People with mental health issues other than bipolar may face such things as worsening symptoms of paranoia or visual/auditory hallucinations. Talk to your Psychiatrist and perhaps they can work out something that will help you get out more, perhaps a medication that helps calm you down or some group therapy that will help you transition to form your own connections in your community.

Another problem that those with a mental health issue face with regards to sleeplessness/insomnia is that one of the worst things you can do is to get your biological clock out of ‘whack.’ ¬†When you go to bed at different times or sleep all day, you are making it hard for your body to know when it should shut down and rest. ¬†One of the best strategies to coping with this problem is to try and go to sleep when the sun goes down, and, no matter how much coffee it takes (but not after 6:00pm) to get out of bed in the morning, do your best to get up early. ¬†Add this to not napping, exercising or socializing during the day and soon you will improve one of the key problems people with a mental illness face.

dsc_0514

Find Love But Love Yourself
The past is a cruel cruel mistress
Who sometimes will not let one go
I want to say though I’m embarrassed
Some important things to know
One can’t just let all of their memories
Haunt them through all of their days
Each person’s time on earth is limited
And right now my son, you are in your prime
Watch for the ones who are most lovely
So good-looking you can hardly cope
Those women have their choice of men
And many of them will choose to love a few
Open wide your eyes my son
Let each sunrise find you blessed
Feel the renewing breeze, the cool, cool air
Give thanks to the hand that feeds your soul
Of all the things I’ve told you
There is only one you must bury in your heart
Love only those that love you back
Or be sad and broken; torn apart
Perhaps a few times as my youth slipped past
I could have had the woman of my dreams
But things do not always work that way
Respect and love whoever you end up with
Dreaming of the perfect one
Left me no closer to the truth
That as I dreamed life slipped away
And I missed out on most of my youth
So many happy carefree times
Spent in play or traveling
I had no idea there was more joy
In the feelings your own family can bring

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.

dsc_0344

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

 

 

Mental Health and Poetry With a Couple of Photographs

DSC_0260

Another Shot From My Day Trip To Jasper With My Dad.  So Beautiful There.

Check out today’s blog entry after today’s poem

First Responders

 

So long as heroes who make sacrifice are given due fame

So long as proud men and women seek the light

The human race will always be a worthwhile game

 

No one in the world is alone to blame

In the end the winners will be in the right

So long as heroes who make sacrifice are given due fame

 

Some evil people count destruction as their only aim

But as long as good people always keep up the fight

The human race will always be a worthwhile game

 

Raise up a cheer for those who carry the flame

By their acts they give the blind new sight

So long as heroes who make sacrifices are given due fame

 

Some feel the only good in life is gain

But our salvation still shines bright

The human race will always be a worthwhile game

 

Each of our heroes may not quite be the same

But on all of them shines a holy light

So long as heroes who make sacrifice are given due fame

The human race will always be a worthwhile game

 

Leif Gregersen

July 23, 2016

¬† ¬† ¬†Hello to everyone out there who faithfully keeps up with my blog. ¬†I don’t really have a lot of profound words for you today. ¬†I am lavishing in the memories of London, England from my June trip, it really was amazing. ¬†I have been thinking about the Imperial War Museum which used to be a mental hospital. ¬†I think it is kind of fitting to have such a place to commemorate war, it seems to be such an awful, crazy thing. ¬†I had a near death experience not too long ago and it reminded me of my own mortality. ¬†I fell off my bike on a steep trail and got knocked around pretty badly, even bit a good chunk out of my tongue and got the wind knocked out of me so it was impossible to breathe for a little while. ¬†I wondered at that moment if I would ever breathe again. ¬†I sure didn’t expect life would be this good or that I would be this frail at 44. ¬†I remember as a kid reading about men in their 70’s doing these incredible feats, and I don’t doubt I could still do some things, but there are a lot of things I can’t do. ¬†As a result of taking medications and my hands shaking, just about anything that requires a steady hand is impossible. ¬†The medication also affects my balance and my memory. ¬†My doctor and his staff are aware of all of these side effects, but we also agree that I am much better off with these problems than I would be if I weren’t on a medication that stabilized my mood and kept me from experiencing psychosis. ¬†It is so hard to describe what psychosis is like. ¬†You hear things, you think things, little things that happen seem to have huge significances, and you get a lot of irrational ideas in your head. ¬†It is scary to think of how far gone I was during my last visit to the hospital. ¬†I will never forget experiencing this horrible feeling of depression and restlessness and looking at a tile pattern on the floor and somehow my brain mixed it around and turned it into a vision of Nazi Germany and all the horrors they perpetrated. It may seem really odd, but it would make sense to someone who has experienced such things.

I don’t want to dwell too much on all that, actually this has been a great week. ¬†I participated in a story slam, where you put in $5 and get to go on stage and read a 5 minute story and up to ten people can read and at half time they pass a hat which everyone puts $5 into. ¬†The stories are judged and the highest score gets all the cash in the hat. ¬†I went home the proud winner of $100 which isn’t huge, but enough to make a nice difference in my monthly budget. ¬†It is funny to think of how much effort it took me to write the story, edit the story, prepare myself to read it and all of that. ¬†Then it took tremendous effort just for me to get out of bed and walk the 2 miles to the place where the event was taking place. ¬†I really didn’t want to go, I had no faith in my story or my abilities, and I didn’t want the stress of going there and going up on stage, but somehow I did it.

It was good to win that, but stress is eating a hole in me right now. ¬†I am supposed to be moving this week and I still haven’t gotten word that my suite is ready. ¬†I was really hoping to get out of this place I live in now and be done with it, but I just may have to stay another month which will cause all kinds of problems. ¬†And then, constantly, I am bombarded with these thoughts, memories of my past where I play negative things over and over in my head. ¬†Somehow I muddle through though and get things done. ¬†I am now a paid blogger for healthyplace.com and I wrote my blog and recorded my video today for them. ¬†Next step is just to post my blogs and then invoice them for my pay. ¬†It is kind of cool. ¬†That is what is great about being in your 40’s (I’m 44) there are so many little things you learn to do to cope with life. ¬†I can’t imagine life without all my little jobs here and there. ¬†Anyhow, that is my life for one more week, I appreciate you all following me, and as a token of that appreciation, I am going to post another photo just below.

DSC_0523

 

You Might Think I’m Crazy

DSC_0262

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

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

As Far as I Can Go

 

In younger days I dreamed of far off places

These images ruled my waking thought

One day I would meet new minds, new faces

Somehow the dreams stopped and I forgot

 

The years went racing past for me

Promised too many more than I had

I realized I would never be free

Trying to please others, make them glad

 

I had made good money, done good things

But inside I was a broken man

Too much giving away only brings

People further from their plans

 

Then all at once a moment came

That changed my life once more

By a simple realization I was back in the game

Soon packed and ready, soon out the door

 

I took my camera, took some jeans

My passport and a little cash

I wasn’t rich by any means

But there was enough in my stash

 

I journeyed across the country first

Why not see first what you have precious and free

The thrill of locomotion nearly made me burst

I could not believe this was happening to me

 

Then I travelled over oceans

Jetted through the skies above

I loved just being in motion

I met so many people that I loved

 

Take the time I beg you

To see another place

Experience the different, new

Life is a journey, not a race

 

Leif Gregersen

As Time Moves On, The News Keeps Getting Better

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

I Really Seem To Have Come A Long Way

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

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

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

A Man With Nothing Helped Teach Me Kindness Yesterday

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

DSC_0716

 

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

DSC_0061

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