book

You Might Think I’m Crazy

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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.

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Shameless Self Promotion Book Blog Day

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Purchase “Through The Withering Storm” in paperback at amazon.com by clicking this link

Hello Dear Readers!  Well, I didn’t really want to allow this to turn into shameless self-promotion, but then I was thinking that there really are some people out there who could be helped by this book I have written.  It is a memoir, 200 pages and is available at amazon.com or for order at any Canadian Chapters, Coles or Indigo book store.  The book began when I was just 20 (I am 44 now.)  I basically wanted to sit down and teach myself to become a writer and I figured the best way I could do this would be to first write about myself, because people are more comfortable talking about themselves.  When I speak of this it makes me think of advice I got in dating from my older brother to let women talk about themselves no matter how disinterested you may be.  So anyhow, I started to write this book in short stories and it changed and morphed a lot over the years.  The first one to read the early drafts were my sister and my close friend Caroline.  After writing for a long time I had some copies printed up on an old copier and gave one of these to Caroline.  If I hadn’t done that, and if she hadn’t saved the papers for many years like she did, this book may not only not exist, I might not even be a writer.  One day years later, after I had long given up hope of being published, Caroline gave me the photocopied pages and I started all over again.  Another female friend a few years after that knew an editor and after having the book gone over at no small expense, it was ready to be published.  I had  a hard time finding a publisher so I self-published and slowly over even more time more and more people became interested in my story and I sold quite a few copies.

The point of the book though is that it tells my story of how I started out as a young overachiever and slowly started to descend into madness.  It tells of me being 14 and being sent to a psychiatric ward and how difficult those times were for me.  It tells of the years before I was finally hospitalized and how I went through so many depressions and difficult times that only seemed to be relieved when I was under the influence of alcohol.  But then, after some very horrid experiences in the mental hospital here, I finally came to an acceptance of my illness and as a result started to really get better.  One of the things I am very proud of is that this book has been read and reviewed by many people, in fact if you look at the paperback page (link provided) you will see that one of the people who reviewed it is a professional, well-known psychologist (Stephanie Sorrel) who gave it a perfect rating.

I feel this book really can help people with bipolar disorder and other conditions because it is a true life, personal experience, and though not perfect throughout, it can help those who suffer to see that they are not alone and that there is hope.  I have also sold a good number of books to mental health professionals.

Anyhow, I just wanted to allow people to have a look at what I do for a living and have the chance to participate in my efforts to educate people about illness, reduce stigma and promote wellness.  Anyone who has difficulty finding a book or can’t afford one, I will definitely consider giving a free copy to them, though possibly it might be a computer file that they can either print up or read on their computer.  Please contact me at viking3082000@yahoo.com and let me know what you think.  And for those who have read the book, it would be great if you could review it on amazon.com for me.  Have a great day, I think I will be posting a book information blog like this once a week for a little while to see if it sparks online sales.  Best!

LG

Purchase “Through The Withering Storm” at amazon.com by clicking this link

Near Midwinter In a Cold Cold Land

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    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

Leif Gregersen

IMG_7279             This truck was just too beautiful to pass up.  I really like to see old vehicles                                that have been restored or kept up for as long as this one must have been.

Well, tonight has been pretty productive.  Although I went home after supper and fell asleep right at around 5:30pm I got a fair bit done in the darkness hours.  It is a really hard thing to change your schedule to a normal one after doing what I did, working night shifts for 15 years or more.  As a note to anyone out there who works night shifts, I have heard from various sources that shift work will take ten years off your life and I don’t doubt it at all.  The thing that keeps me up working nights though is that my house is relatively free from distractions after midnight.

So, after getting a few hours of sleep I picked up a book that arrived in the mail yesterday (I LOVE getting brand new books in the mail!)  The book was, “Human On The Inside”, published by University of Saskatchewan Press, written by Gary Garrison, a friend that lives just up the street and is a member of the same poetry society I do readings at now and then.  The book was absolutely incredible and Gary did an excellent job of it.  It talks at great length about how Gary went through a breakdown of sorts and had a hard time even walking outside his house (Gary has a PhD in English and was an editor) and how it was suggested he find a way to interact with people different from him.  He decided to get involved in prisoner visitation program at the local maximum security prison.  The story was totally engaging, Gary interviewed a lot of people who had served time in prison and made things so real by his descriptive scenes flashing between his own childhood and family life as an adult, his decision to avoid the draft by coming to Canada in 1970.  He even spends time with victims of crime and guards in his book.  I am not done yet, but the book has me gripped by the collars, I am hoping to read the rest of it today and I am going to buy a second copy to send to my sister who worked in Kingston Penitentiary, one of Canada’s most infamous prisons.

After reading the book for a good while, I decided to take a bit of a break and I wrote a poem and I don’t want to post it here.  I really want to start getting my name out as a writer and though I love putting up poems and hearing feedback, when I even put a poem or a number of poems online I am kind of shooting myself in the foot because that counts as being published and what I really need to do is get into literary journals with my poetry and they clearly state you can’t have published your poems anywhere else or it won’t even be considered.  To that end, I recently purchased a great resource that aspiring poets out there should try and get ahold of, the 2015 Poet’s Market, which is chock full of places to send poetry.  At the moment, I have been experimenting with iambic pentameter poetry and as soon as any of it gets published, I will be able to put it up here.  I do have some published stuff that I could put up, but it is older work of mine and it is very hard to look at one’s own work from before a major life change (or so I feel for myself at least) because of two factors: a writer is his own worst critic, and a poem is never really finished, it is only abandoned.

I feel kind of compelled to write a bit about mental health at this point.  I saw a pharmacist yesterday and I asked about some new medications that have come on the market.  As some of you may know from my book, “Inching Back To Sane” I went through a difficult period in my life first being on Lithium (mood stabilizer) then Tegratol (also mood stabilizer) and had horrible side effects.  Not long after, I literally begged my Psychiatrist to put me on something else, and I was given a medication called “Depekane” which has much less side effects, but still causes the runs and weight gain.  I have recently found out about some even newer medications which work well and can actually cause weight loss.  At the moment, I am nearly the heaviest weight I have ever been despite trying hard to maintain a healthy diet and exercising a lot.  So, I will keep my readers updated in detail in case they experience similar situations.  I would be very interested to hear any similar stories, so please feel free to message me.

As a last note, I don’t know if I mentioned, but I have written and now edited (2nd draft-I expect to have a third and a fourth) a Young Adult Novel about a young man who joins the army in Canada during World War Two and goes overseas to battle.  I should mention that if anyone is interested in having a peek at my work, I have some poetry and short stories posted for free on this website and also at a website called ‘wattpad.com’ (short stories, poetry, flash fiction) and valhalla books on facebook (poetry) I would appreciate any feedback and welcome any questions people have if they want to check them out.  Aside from that, Dear Readers, I hope you enjoy my photos today and my words and thank you for your support!

IMG_7191                                          This litte dude was found pilfering food from birds!