Hello Dear Readers! Well, it has been a long but very rewarding path, but I have helped judge my first poetry contest and was one of the organizers for what turned out to be a very successful even here in my neighborhood. I wish I could put in more poems, a lot of them were really good, but I decided just to keep the video above to people I know who performed. I got up and read some of my own poetry as well, which felt pretty good. At first though, I looked at some stuff I had written and it really didn’t seem up to snuff. I have been neglecting my poetry writing roots for a few months now. I think one of the big things was that I kind of want to have the distinction of publishing more of my poems and you really can’t do so if you post them first to a web page. So because of this I have been writing poems but keeping them to myself, which makes it difficult to push myself to produce each day. For a while I was also trying to write poetry in meter and rhyme, which helps when you are performing, but it is often difficult to keep on writing more poetry. All in all though I can honestly say that it feels great to be a part of something like the contest and event that I detailed in the video above.
In other news, I have been feeling stressed out lately. It is funny, something my mom once told me, way back in the times when she was having troubles coping with stress (my mom, now passed had a mental health problem as well) she told me that there is such a thing as good stress, which was why she didn’t like Christmas so much. She felt so forced to cook a home run meal, she felt it was so important to have all her family and guests get good presents, and it was really hard on her. I can understand now completely because I have been having a lot of really good things happen to me but it has made me want to cocoon myself in bed and sleep my days away. Then today I got up finally and took a vitamin that is supposed to help with stress. I guess it has some kind of B complex vitamins that your body loses when it goes through a lot of pressure. All I really know is that it helps me take a short nap and makes me feel a little better. For a while I was taking it every day and I suspect the regular dose made me feel a little worse.
As far as the good things that have been happening, there has been a few of them. One of the things is that I have completed and sent off a print order for my new Young Adult Novel “Those Who Dare To Dream” I am going to try and post the cover photo below if I can manage it. Then there has been of course the poetry festival event called ‘Gettin’ Gritty Inner City’ I have been working with good friends and community members Gary Garrison, the author of an incredible book about Canada’s prisons called “Human on the Inside” and David Prodan who is a hardworking housing project manager who teaches a writing class I have been attending. Then I have been in touch with a newspaper reporter who is interested in writing about the disabled and it looks like he is going to write an article about me which will put me on the minds of quite a few people. Lastly I have been in touch with a person high up in the chain of the housing project I live in who wants to get me into his annual general meeting to give a speech and sell my books afterwards. On and on and on, so many good things, but so much stress.
For anyone out there who has a mental health issue and wonders how to deal with stress, I could recommend what seems to be working for me. First of all, I don’t really think that people with severe mental illnesses should work full time. I personally work part-time though I have two part-time jobs but neither of them engage me more than a few hours a week. I suppose writing could be considered a job, but for me that is one of the best ways I can decompress. Another thing I have found incredibly useful is Yoga, and whenever I pop in my Yoga video I bought for $10 or so at a drug store and stretch and strengthen myself, I try to spend at least 15 minutes after meditating. I wish I could meditate more, it is one of the most powerful things for easing incessant anger problems, stress problems, and generally makes a person feel better through and through. The method I use is to simply turn off any light, sit cross legged, close my eyes and just be aware of my breathing. It is nearly impossible to do it, but what I try to do is to keep my mind and empty, and clear out my head with each new breath. It may seem silly, but I think that by doing this I learn to change the focus of my thoughts and it really seems to work. The trouble is doing it every day, remembering to do it I mean.
The next thing I do to reduce stress when I feel it coming on is to grab my snorkel gear and head for the swimming pool. It feels so good to get down there and first warm up my joints in the hot tub and then slip into the cold water, don my mask and flippers and just live underwater, gently swimming laps for the next 20 minutes or so (I feel good right now just thinking about it). Maybe it has to do with the snorkeling I did in Hawaii, but it just feels so good, so refreshing and renewing. Then I head home and try to sleep a little more. Not everyone can manage this though, I am sure the vast majority of people out there with a mental illness, even in first world countries have very little resources. I think though, that people can travel to a place in their mind where even incessant noise of traffic or yelling or anything really can mean nothing. Maybe some of these people can even take transit or walk to a place that is free of distraction and do something the Buddhists call ‘walking meditation’. It is a hard thing to describe, but you can do it in the most basic way just by clearing your mind, focusing on your breathing and doing something I like to think of as ‘cultivating kindness’. Anyhow, I suppose I am once again rambling. I want to thank my readers at this point for helping me to feel open enough to write about all this personal stuff, I hope it helps in some way. Remember, you can always email me if you want to talk at firstname.lastname@example.org