This is the view of Edmonton from my back door. The tall tower on the right is going to be 80 stories tall, which is now possible in Edmonton because we closed our municipal airport
Please Scroll Down Past Today’s Poems for Today’s Blog
Love confounds me
When I know you are with him
And I am here. alone
Did I not give you so much more
Than long curly hair and muscles?
* * *
Hold on my son your pain will subside
We are only a few decades
Away from holiness
* * *
A moment ago
It all seemed so perfect
And yet with the passing of time
I think maybe
Sanity still eludes me
Hello Dear Readers! So much has been happening lately I don’t know where to start. All I can say is that if you are out there suffering and it seems like there is no hope, hold on. If you are seeing a family member struggling and it seems like you are going to lose them forever, hold on. If you have lost a loved one or feel like so much has happened you will never recover, hold on.
Just a few short years ago my life seemed like it was over. I had spent six months in a mental hospital, I had no more faith in myself or modern Psychiatry to help me but I inched ahead. Somehow the world was a better place when I left the hospital and I was able to experience recovery. It took years. It took pushing myself past all the limits I had. It took working a job that was extremely difficult and dangerous. But somehow at the end I stopped and looked and there I was, just the same person who had accomplished so much at a young age. I learned that it didn’t matter what type of limitations life put on me there were no limitations in my heart and soul. I have been writing, I have been teaching, I have been giving public talks about my illness and my own story and it feels wonderful.
Each one of you out there may have something holding them back. I’m too old. I’m disabled. I don’t have the money. Age means nothing. We all have the possibility of living far beyond expectations. Money is a number on a paper doll. Learn to live on 90% of what you bring in and seek out knowledgeable people to help you make the extra grow and before you know it you will be able to do anything. If you are disabled, take whatever you can do, measure it, time it, and do it now, today. It could be reading a poem, typing a short story, sending a letter to someone you are about. Tomorrow do a little more. The next day do a little more. Soon your days will be filled with accomplishments and satisfaction that will make you forget you are disabled. There is so much hope for all of us. All we have to do is remind ourselves how precious each day is, how incredible it is to have others in our lives to share the good and the bad. I will leave you with that and hope you can leave me comments and look through my website. Once again, for Edmonton residents, my books are available at Audrey’s Books on Jasper Avenue and also at the Edmonton Public Library. Keep the faith!
A Lovely Shot of the River Valley, Shortly Before the Snow Came
Well, this was a happy time when I could wander far and wide in Edmonton. One of my favourite newer hobbies is to take ridiculously long walks to keep my thoughts clear and my lungs pumping good oxygen. Just about anyone who knows me well enough will have heard of how my kind old father helped me to recover from a severe bout with mental illness by taking me into this same River Valley each day and going for a long walk with me. My Dad and I still both walk a lot, but since now neither of us has a car we mostly walk on our own. I am a firm believer that if you do some light exercise each day it is good for mind, body and soul.
It is pretty much midwinter now and the temperature in Edmonton often drops below minus 20. That doesn’t bother me too much, I can dress for the cold, but what does scare me a bit is falling. A close friend fell and hit her chin and needed stitches and also had a concussion. Falls on the winter ice here can lead to all kinds of injuries. So far I have been very lucky. As a quick bit of trivia, I should state that there is much less chance of slipping on ice when it is very cold, because what causes slips is moisture on the ice. If anyone has been ice skating, the reason skates slide so well is because when they are sharp, they dig into the ice and cause a thin layer of moisture to be created.
So, these past few days have been a bit difficult for me. I should remind everyone, especially this time of the year (in the northern hemisphere) that our low sunlight hours can cause a depression on their own, something known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. I was down in the dumps this past week because I got word that a manuscript I submitted to a publisher was declined. For a while I really felt like all of my efforts have been in vain and that I would never see any kind of success as a writer. Then my bestselling author and film producer friend came over and we worked out a plan to rework the manuscript and find another publisher. I also found an email I had been sent about the same manuscript that said it was very good in many ways but needed a couple of things tweaked. I feel a lot better now and have tried to fill the time I would otherwise have been moping with active work writing an promoting my writing. More and more I am thinking I need to focus on making a name for myself over even paying the immediate bills I am responsible for. I can already afford the bills if I am careful, and if I can get my name out there eventually the money will come.
The other point I wanted to make to you, my dear readers, is that when you are down or when you are lonely and nothing seems to be going right (this is starting to sound like the lyrics to a “Doors” song, I apologize) the best thing you can do is force yourself just to do one little thing. For me it may be reading a short story or picking up a book of poetry. It may involve writing an email to an old friend you miss, some kind of creative or enriching thing. When you start to feel better, do two things, and soon you will have accomplished something. Reading your short stories could add up to having become an expert on the genre. Writing emails could give you many caring friends who you can talk to through your depressions. It’s not always easy, but it always works (so I have found). With that Dear Readers, I bid you a fond farewell. And for Edmontonians, don’t forget to get your free library card and check my books out of the Edmonton or St.Albert libraries. Soon to be also coming to Vancouver Public Library. All the best!
All I can do is marvel at animals that are capable of flight, the one thing in the world I have found makes me the most happy and energized
Scroll down past today’s poem for today’s blog entry
By: Leif Gregersen
As the days slip by so fast
It often seems that nothing lasts
Not our love or our generation’s song
Our time to rejoice and play is gone
If things only lasted long enough for me to feel
That the loves I once had were real
Just as real as all the days
Sadness came to me in waves
I have regrets that my only way to cope and deal
With my pain was to take a pill and just not feel
Feel either good or bad just dead
But not trapped inside my own head
When I was not quite yet a man
From commitments I always ran
Not understanding how love grows like a flower
Gaining beauty, gaining power
I wanted so badly to be free
I masked and hid the love inside of me
Now I’m both lonely and alone
Never quite feeling like I have a home
Deny it, but I say we still can have a chance
As long as there is one more dance
Though I think you understand the fact
Time is slipping by for us to act
There is also one thing I wish you knew
I hate myself for hurting you
I also think something else is true
You get sad and lonely too
So take my hand and come with me
Knowing that love still can set us free
November 14, 2017
Good day dear readers! I have been so encouraged by the increasing support and exposure I am getting for my blog that I have decided to do more entries than I usually do. Either that or I have found that working on this blog is one of the best cures for insomnia I have this side of sleeping pills.
Perhaps the whole idea of sleeping pills is a good issue to discuss today. For the past four days I haven’t taken anything to get me to sleep and I feel better for it, but not 100% yet. I should tell some of the back story, I have a lot of commitments from working for the Schizophrenia society to teaching creative writing and other things and I really need to be rested to do these things well. Lately I have been trying a few different sleep aids to help with this and they seem to do more harm than good. I thought maybe if I talked about them here that people would be able to avoid some of the pitfalls. To start with, I have my Psychiatrist’s approval to use melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone that can help balance out a person’s sleeping habits. It has some funny effects though, one of them is that if you (or at least in my case I have, I am sure other people have had different experiences) take it for a while and start to tolerate it, the pills can do something much worse than help you sleep, they can cause extreme restlessness that amounts to a type of seizure of legs and back muscles/bones. It is a very disturbing experience, one I have only ever before had in the psychiatric hospital when injected with a serious tranquilizer because I was “bad”. I still take melatonin now and then, but I am very careful about how frequently I use it. The other problem I have found with it is that it can make you very drowsy the next day and leave you with a desire to sleep a very long time.
The next pill I sometimes take for sleep is one that is called clonazepam or rivotril. I take it in the 0.5 mg orange pill. It looks a lot like the average gravol tablet and is very powerful. It is a tranquilizer along the lines of valium, but without some of valium’s more serious side effects. This is a prescribed medication and I am only given a few every couple of weeks which I use sparingly. This pill seems to be highly addictive because when I take it I feel very relaxed and soon drift off to sleep and feel better for the next day, but if I don’t take it for a few days I start to get edgy.
Those are the major ones. There is a pill called imovane, a blue little football shaped pill that I suggest people avoid. It is extremely addictive. I also want to warn people that sleeping pills in just about any form I have encountered them end up being a crutch and can seriously affect a person’s memory. Time and time again I have found that the best sleep aid is to get out and get plenty of fresh air and exercise. In my own daily routine, if there isn’t something for me to do that requires a long walk, I think of something. I seem to always be able to find a reason to get out of the house like walking to the warehouse grocery store a few miles away or walking to the post office. I used to like to bring and iPod with me when I did this, but lately I have just enjoyed walking as a form of meditation. I have to say that in the past short while I have been getting a bit lax about my walks and exercise in general and I have felt much worse as a result, physically and mentally.
The final thing I wanted to mention today was that if you find yourself sleeping days and staying up nights, there is a cure, which can only really be done in the summer. You need three weeks and not much else. What you do is go out camping, leave behind all of your electronics and get up with the sun each day. In three weeks your biological clock will naturally reset itself.
Best wishes dear readers!
Please scroll past today’s poem to read today’s blog post!
By: Leif Gregersen
As I look out my bedroom window
Once stunning massive trees are now bare
And the temperature reads below zero
Dead leaves are everywhere
In the happy times
When I was just a little boy
The excitement of the season
Hinted at all the things I most enjoyed
Snowball fights in the school grounds
Cold nights bundled in my bed
Making snow forts in the back yard
Dreams of Christmas days in my head
Just a while longer
And the snow will fall
Skating, skiing, sledding
Always having such a ball
Now that I’m a grown-up
With not so many things to do
Except to keep my focus on
Loving, pleasing, caring for you
I’m now in my middle years
Almost past forty-five
There are still things to do and see
Though I admit I don’t feel quite as alive
And so I try to grasp onto my youth
By dating lovely girls like you
But the reality is the sad truth
That all the time I wish I could be born anew
October 13, 2017
Once Again It’s the Middle of the Night and I’m Wide Awake
Hello, dear readers! Well, my struggle continues. Today was actually kind of a great day, when I got up, I had to go to Staples with Taro (the manager of this building who handles my efforts to put on writing workshops). We had an enjoyable time having a quick coffee at Tim Horton’s, then I went to teach my class. I think it went really well. There weren’t too many people there, I think just five in total, but I really felt like I was in my element. I am starting to get better at handling classes with people who have mental health issues. One of the things I have noticed is that often people with these issues may be very confused about directions I give them and I don’t know if this is something cause and effect, but these people have a desire to speak and participate in the class even though it might be off topic. Today (creative writing) and yesterday (Wellness Recovery) I tried just letting them speak for a few minutes and then tried to direct them back to the material or gently encourage them to let others speak. It is actually really cool the way I am learning more about my own mental illness and my own writing skills as I do this. The only part that kind of worries me is that the person who was most supportive of my efforts to do the creative writing classes has been promoted and the new person may not be as supportive or trusting of me. The way I got this job was by going to a writer’s group and basically showing that I had enough knowledge to facilitate my own class.
To get back to the whole insomnia thing, I think one of my problems is that I have a few remedies in my cupboard that help me to sleep and I think sometimes I use them more than I should. One of them is melatonin, which works well but isn’t quite as much of a designer drug as some sleeping pills are. One of the problems with it is that it leaves you very drowsy even after a long sleep. When I take melatonin, I will get a good sleep, wake up to do what I must that day, then I have a strong desire to go home and sleep some more, which I often to and then I end up like I am now, wide awake at 2:00 in the morning. There is another side effect to it that I don’t know if everyone experiences, it happens when I take a lower dose than I need to get me to sleep, my lower back gets a restless, edgy feeling that completely prevents me from sleeping. I often have to get up and walk around or do something (like writing in my blog) to stop it from bothering me. My doctor has also said that if I have problems sleeping on occasion it is okay to take a couple of gravol. These anti-nausea pills give a pleasant sleep, but only if you are already tired enough to lay down. Also, I don’t like using them because I worry about dependancy and using a pill that wasn’t meant to help a person sleep. I feel that people with mental health issues walk a very thin line between abusing and carefully using our pills. The funny thing is that I seem to have no problem sleeping in the afternoon, and one of the ways I can sleep at that time is by taking a multi-vitamin which prevents me from having bad dreams.
So, no real solution to anything today. Just a lot of words about some sleep aid alternatives. I use one last method to help me sleep sometimes, what I do is just get up and write here in my blog. I honestly hope I am helping people by putting this out, please feel free to reach out to me if you like anything I have to say or want to chat. My email is as always, email@example.com all the best!
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.
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org if anyone wants to discuss things privately. Mental health to all!
Today’s Poem: (scroll down for blog and a second photo for today)
I am the shore; the beach
And I see endless waves capped by headless demons
Each with an issue of blood, a smell of death
Demons riding gentle sloping water mountains
Waves that carry Satan’s surfers
Deep in the recesses of my soul and mind
I thought only Christ could walk on water
No, not in my head
If I knew my brain would do all of this to me
What once could I have done to it?
When young; so many things undone
I thought then that life would be peaches, roses
All at once complete
Happy as the minute the clock ticks away
Finally making it to the 3:30 bell
On that last day of school
Before short precious summer days of sun and fun
Those days were not so fun
When school ended for all time for me
And life was still newly begun
February 10, 2016
Good morning Dear Readers:
Well, I don’t really have a lot off the top of my head to say, but I suppose I can still manage to rattle of f a bit of stuff. I had a very cool job interview today for a temporary position as the teacher of a writing class and I have to admit I am feeling pretty good about it. I will be helping adults to develop their writing skills and though it is part time, the hourly wage isn’t too bad. I am really looking forward to something that is my own idea, I want to try and take my class on a field trip to the amazing Edmonton Public Library and show them some of the many resources available to all citizens of our great city. Most of these people will be adults with mental health issues which makes me feel even better about the job. I have always really enjoyed working with people who are at a disadvantage, whether it be an issue of their age or mental state or physical state. For some time I volunteered at a veteran’s extended care hospital and I really loved some of the wonderful old men that were there. I got some good story ideas from it and made good friends with the hospital chaplain who in more recent times has been a great supporter of my writing efforts and a wonderful guy. I know what I do isn’t volunteering, but I would encourage anyone dealing with a mental health issue who has gotten beyond the initial difficulties of establishing housing, medication and a routine to volunteer their time in projects like this. It can only help you get regular jobs further down the line, help you to meet people and keep busy, and be an amazing learning process. I always encourage people in Edmonton to contact the volunteer network, but in many cities there are places where a person can be put in touch with volunteer opportunities. The neat thing is that you can basically choose your job. I knew a young woman with schizophrenia who was able to get valuable accounting experience using this idea.
One of these days I wouldn’t mind going through a couple of book reviews. I wonder what some of the favorite books of my readers are. My favorite book of all time is Robert M. Pirsig’s “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” in which he tells the story, a true memoir in a way, of a trip he takes across America with his son and two best friends on a motorbike. As he drifts down the highway he has these talks with himself and thinks through a lot of stuff in his life. This book was one of the first books I read that talked openly about mental illness, I think I have read it numerous times, it was so good. The same author also wrote a sequel to this book more about sailing called “Lila”.
There is another book that had a great influence on me called “The Richest Man in Babylon” but I won’t get too deeply into that now.
I suppose I could talk a bit about growing up and friends. One time I was discussing friends and friendships with my Psychiatrist, and he told me that he doesn’t have that many friends, and has no problem functioning at a high level. I had some times when I was young that I desperately wished I had friends, anyone to play with, talk to, get into trouble with. From as young as seven to even just a few short years ago I was very alone. One of the worst summers of my life was when I was sixteen and I spent the whole summer with no friends at all, deep in a depression working full time, driving around with no one to talk to, no fun things to do. What was odd about it was that just before school let out that year I had a lot of friends and even went on a few dates with some very attractive young women. Then, seemingly just as school ended everything kind of went to shit. I have played these times over and over in my head and I have never been able to understand where things went wrong, what I might have done to shun these people from me. A couple of years later when I was severely mentally ill I had such a hard time understanding why so many people seemed to be against me. It had seemed that all my life I had only contributed to the community, done good things. Maybe I will never understand.
The only thing now that I really understand is that it feels good to be a hard working, giving person and to have many friends. I also know that I would be in serious trouble without my daily medications, especially the one that stabilizes my moods and Prozac, my anti-depressant. I have been so content lately most of the time, much more so than in previous years. I really like being an adult and attending church, having neighbors who are good friends and supporters. I often associate all my good fortune partly to quitting drinking, gambling and smoking some time ago, and in a much larger way to publishing my first book (I have now published 12 and have 10 in print). What is takes is just a little concentrated effort, with a goal in mind, a destination, just a little effort each day towards that goal be it big or small, and I honestly feel dreams can come true. For many years I dreamed of being a writer and now I can honestly say I am one and that I likely have a great career ahead of me. Anyhow dear readers, I have made a decision to put out a blog with a poem a little less often, but still keep checking back for a new one once or twice a week, and as always, please feel free to contact me or to post comments to this site. email@example.com
Hello Dear readers! I am a bit excited today because so many great things have been happening in my life and in my career as a writer. To start with, I have had my blog and my books approved to be a part of the ‘Mental Health Writer’s Guild’ which I am hoping will allow me to reach a greater audience with my writing. I don’t have a poem today, I am going to take a short break from writing poetry because I have just put out a brand new book titled, ‘Poetry of Love Life and Hope’ and it was a bit exhausting. Anyone interested in a copy can order it from amazon.com. I should note that I have taken my eBooks off amazon.com because I felt they just weren’t getting the exposure they deserved. I have set up one book on smashwords.com (Inching Back To Sane) and made it available for just about every platform for just $3.25.
I wanted to share a bit about what has been going on with my writing. I have been doing so much. I owe a lot of the great things that have been happening to two people, my Dad and my good friend Richard Van Camp. They have been helping me, supporting me and working towards my betterment as a writer now for some time. I also have to admit I have been doing a fair bit of work on things as well. I got the news yesterday that I have been approved to take a special course to become a facilitator for a Wellness Recovery Action Plan group. I am very excited about this as it will pay a little and teach me a lot. I will be teaching people how to become more aware of themselves so they can write out a detailed plan to manage illness or addictions.
It doesn’t stop there by any means though, I have so many great things happening in my life I can barely list them all. For any writers out there I wanted to tell you a bit about this new program ‘Grammarly’ that they may have seen in commercials. It is an abosultely amazing program that is a revolution in editing software. It doesn’t just catch the odd spelling mistake, it checks punctuation, grammar, dangling particples, active or passive voice, it is a dream come true and the same night I went and looked at what it could do I purchased a full year’s membership. If there are any die-hard writers out there who are curious, I suggest they try out the free version of the software, and then possibly look at getting a one month membership and I am sure they will be very impressed. I honestly think this program is going to take my writing to a whole new level and save me a lot of money on editors.
Along with all of that I have been working as a journalist on two mental health magazines. It is pretty amazing because I love writing this blog and helping people with mental health issues and now I am able to do the same work and get paid a little for it. I am not just tooting my own horn though, I want people to understand that if they set a dream and a plan down on paper, then work towards it even just a little each day, there is no telling where that dream can take you. Some of the things you have to do is network, plan, save and invest to make your plans feasible, pay attention to your mental and physical needs, work hard towards controlling things like addictions, food, gambling and other vices, and then if you really want to have a happy life, I think it can be so important to have a spiritual outlet. I attend a Catholic Church but I also read books by the Dalai Lama and meditate. I also have many wonderful friends who have seen a generosity and stability in me that have made them want to help me and stay by my side. Things were defintely not like this forever. 15 years ago I was very mentally ill and my life seemed to be over. I had lost my best friends and my finances were a mess. To top off all of that I think in a certain way I didn’t like myself at all. Slowly, day by day, bit by bit I worked myself up and out and I know that anyone who reads these blogs can do it themselves as well. There is so much beauty and joy to be had. I don’t think I know all of the answers, but some of it can come down to going for a half hour walk every day, having a hobby you enjoy, having a pet–some little creature that couldn’t get by without you that gives you unconditional love. Planning, setting goals and challenging yourself to do just a little better, do a little more each day. Medications can be very hard to deal with, but two things happen over time: your body adapts to meds and you learn little tricks to deal with things like side effects. And of course, there is the amazing fact that medications just keep getting better.
Well Dear Readers, I hate to leave you in the middle of a talk like that, but the hour is late and I have go work very soon. As always, anyone is free to write to me or to comment, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org, I would love to hear from you!
Well, I thought I would change things up just a little bit. I want to start with the poem for today, so here goes, I will follow with some commentary in case anyone is interested.
Fight the years that try and break you down
Show no fear even when death is all around
Life can be a journey through many years
And as you grow older your perception clears
No one knows what waits for us on our final day
But there is no chance of changing it anyway
Love and laugh and do all that you can
Face life and death with courage, faith and a plan
Fight the lies the assholes use to keep you down
Don’t let them make you face your loved ones with a frown
Stand tall if you can and never stop working hard
Fight for the ones you love, don’t retreat a single yard
Rewards await for those who truly dare
If you never try no one will ever care
The strength you need is right inside of you
You must be strong and tall and true
Don’t let love pass you by as I have done
You can’t spend your whole life with just anyone
The one you love must learn just how you feel
If you ever want to have a love that’s real
What is deep in your soul can one day come true
But there is no one who will hand your dreams to you
You have to battle pain and hate and time
But it’s not so bad, your soul ages like wine
Your life’s work can last mankind a thousand years
If you work hard enough and overcome your fears
Work and fight until your final breath escapes your chest
Never forget to receive a life on this earth is to be truly blessed
I can’t tell you where you will go on that final day
But my dear friend I can definitely say
When you finally stop breathing and slip away
I will not forget to bow my head for you and pray
December 26, 2015
Good day and a belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone who follows my blog. I don’t really know where to start today, but I guess I should begin with how I am doing. Last night I was feeling a little out of sorts, it likely had mostly to do with all the unhealthy food I have been eating. I don’t know how many people who read this blog are interested in my talking about mental health, but I want to talk a bit about it here and now. It can be a hard thing to have an illness at this time of year, especially in the climate I live in. Edmonton, though perhaps not as bad as further north areas, has very little sunlight which contributes to depression. Not only that, the holiday season can be a difficult time. I am still very clearly reminded of my first Christmas as an adult at the age of 18 and living at home with my parents was very unsteady. I was deeply in love at that time with a young woman I sat next to in school and I didn’t want to give up on the hope of her becoming my girlfriend, even though I had never had a girlfriend in my life before that. Not long before, I also experienced a loss of a severe nature, a good friend had killed himself (Rest in peace Brad Latta). So, all of these things, disappointment with the holiday, loneliness and feelings of inadequacy added to my predisposition for a mental illness and life became very difficult. It was a short time later that I ended up in a mental hospital and literally lost everything. I don’t know what one person can do, other than to try and make people aware of how delicate the mental health of a lot of people can be at this time of year. I am having no problems this particular year, aside from being a bit bored and wanting more to do. I don’t know why, but I don’t seem to be able to write any short stories lately. Still, the holidays have been great this year. I spent time with my dad and brother, I went to see the new Star Wars film and I spent a fair bit of time also with friends. One of my main problems though is that I find it hard to keep focus on anything. Whatever I seem to do, except maybe writing, and my mind wanders. Often it wanders to a perceived slight that may or may not have occurred. The other day I went into a convenience store and briefly talked to the clerk and wished him a Merry Christmas and some guy standing behind me yelled out, “F*%^&ing Fag!” quite loudly. I didn’t know if he was saying this to me, but it left me pretty upset. I seem to run into situations like this a lot. There was another time, not too long ago when I was going to the till at a grocery store and a young man ran and stood in front of me and literally let three of his friends go ahead of me while blocking my cart and then disappeared. I got extremely upset and decided to keep slamming my cart into the guy who was in front of me and pushed him too far to use the till when he got there. He swore at me and asked me to move and I said, “Sure, as long as you say please.” and he called me a Fag. I have played this over and over in my head and I keep wishing I had slammed the cart into him as hard as I could, but all I in fact did was loudly comment on a piece of jewelry he was wearing. He smiled and said “Maybe we should take this outside.” quietly to himself and when I got outside no one was there. I just wish I had a thicker skin, but all in all I think it comes down to just maintaining my daily mental health. One of the most important things I know works is if I meditate. A half hour, or even less of sitting and just focusing on my breath and trying to keep my mind clear helps me to control recurring thoughts of these perceived slights. Then of course I also need to keep in touch with the outside world and watch my moods. If I talk to a few friends and get out and do a few things, including a workout routine, I know for a fact I will be much more able to deal with topics that I am normally very sensitive about. Of course where this happens the most is work, but, God willing, I am nearing the point where I will no longer have to work my labor job or at the very least be able to work just a few days a month.
Anyhow, that was a long paragraph. I hope some of you got something out of it, as always I would love to hear feedback. email@example.com
Here is a photo of a massive cruise ship I saw in Hawaii last time I was there.
Hello to my many kind followers. I don’t know really what to talk about much today, the past little while has gotten me a bit down. Of course I am still taking my anti-depressants and mood stabilizers, so it isn’t really that bad but I think one of my main problems is that I am often sleeping during the day and staying up all night. In a way this has been a good thing because I have had time to work on my writing, but isolation is something I really have to watch out for. It hasn’t helped that I was turned down for a low-income swim pass with the city and haven’t been able to work out much. I have been doing a lot of thinking about not being able to work out. I know I definitely felt better when I was working out, but I don’t know if I should really go back to swimming every day and lifting weights. It certainly also helped me when it came time to do my job as a stage hand, but still it was a lot of time, a lot of work and I don’t really think I enjoyed it. It would be just about impossible for me to stop exercising completely, I love to take my long walks and long bike rides in the summer. I just don’t know what level of fitness I should pursue.
One of the huge things I think I need to do if I am to stop going for muscle mass is to work on the paranoid/anger side of my illness. The reason for this is that if I get angry, it will get me into fights, and if I am just some skinny writer nerd type I will really get my butt kicked. There are a lot of reasons though, I know when I am fit I am more motivated to do things, I feel more confident. I do tend to eat a lot more though, and this is not only an expense, it adds to my weight which isn’t exactly in the healthy level.
Another fact I want to really face up to is that even if I take all the vitamins recommended, get my exercise and do all these healthy things, it will make a difference, but it will never stave off death permanently. I have to fact up to the fact that I only have so many days, months, years, minutes, seconds before my time will come, and also that this time may come this very moment. It is unlikely, but we all really only have the present moment don’t we? I think what that line of thought tells me is that I have to try and focus on the more important things, the bigger battles. Who really cares if some guy with a black belt can kick my ass? I have to find a way to cope with the world that allows me to live among people like this without getting into fights or even arguments. There really is no such thing as righteous anger, unless of course God communicates with you directly. There were times when I thought he did, but I am of course wrong about that.
So, I wanted to write a little about writing. A lot of great things have been happening in my new chosen profession and it has been making me very happy. I have been approached about having a co-author help re-write my second memoir, and it would mean some drastic changes would happen in my life. One of the amazing things about writing is that once you get going, aside from a few times when you may be called out of town or have to speak somewhere, most of the time you can get away with just writing about 2 hours a day and still make a success of yourself. There have been times for me though when I have been driven to finish a project in a short amount of time and spent marathon sessions at the keyboard. When I wrote my first novel, “Green Mountain Road”, what I did was go to an all-night burger restaurant and sit and write until I had 3-5,000 words done. It was often difficult to pick up right from where I left off, so what I would do was to read the chapter I had done the previous day and edit it as I went along and I found that soon I had my creative juices flowing.
I would really like to get feedback from any writers out there, especially in the form of requests for certain topics I can address here in the blog. If you want to know more about poetry, or journalism or any such topic, please ask and I would love to teach you all I know.
Something I also wanted to put out there for new writers is that, especially when you are starting out, it is so important to make and maintain contacts with writers of works in your genre or even just successful writers in general. You can write to me, or you can often find emails of your favorite authors listed on the cover of books as I think John Grisham does. I haven’t tried this, but I have had so many great things happen as a result of connecting with other writers. There is this co-authoring partnership I may be getting into which will give me so many advantages (the writer I have in mind already has an excellent relationship with a publisher). Not to mention that I found a real gem of a friend in the well known Canadian writer Richard Van Camp. Richard has had movies made from his writing and has done so well for himself and is just about totally dedicated to helping me succeed. Him and I get together over milkshakes at a diner near his house about two times a month and he is a massive help. They say that what defines the most successful people in any field is having a mentor, and Richard has been this for me. (If anyone wanted to see a review I wrote of Richard’s latest short story collection, “Night Moves” it is on the front page of the Ottawa Review of Books website.) And then it takes daily effort, persistence and time. Sometimes it takes a lot of time. Most people will write their first book over the course of years and write many drafts before they feel it’s ready. Then there is the process of finding an agent, getting your work edited and sending it off to publishers or getting it self published. This can take years more and like any other business, you have to establish your repuation. One of the best things you can do while waiting out this process is to get in to see a writer in residence at your local library, university or college and they will help guide you. I hope all of this helps, I am including a poem below, I hope you enjoy it.
Midwinter Edmonton Musing
The wide Pacific calls out to me
Nowhere else have I felt so free
I would plunge into waters clear and blue
But I just can’t let go of loving you
Tropical Islands grab your heart and soul
No better way to make a person feel whole
It’s to escape from this cold place in which I live
And to take a little time to relax, forget and forgive
In just one sunny Hawaiian day
Ten years of anger melt away
I no longer see the point of a mad rat race
And soon my wrinkles are erased
If you were mine and we both could go
I could teach you things no one else knows
We could spend our nights walking the shore and sand
And feel the tropical night’s cool loving hand
Looking deep into each other’s eyes
We would not have to wear any disguise
Just you and me and our love that stood the test of time
Finally I would be fully yours; you would be completely mine
But if I have to go alone I will
Even alone there are pleasures still
Oh, I would give up a year here for one day there
And that feeling of lying in the sun without a care
I would rent a little car and just explore
It’s like opening up a new dimension’s door
To be so very far away from all of life’s concerns
Just one worry: make sure your skin doesn’t burn
Now that I found that place I feel I was born to stay
I just need to find some simple way
To say goodbye to all those I care so much for here
And return to the Islands that I hold so dear
December 13, 2015