Denmark

Working Out and Changing The Way I Think and Feel

IMG_7588It is said we are all physical, mental and spiritual beings.  This is where my spiritual side is nourished, and in today’s blog I talk about the other parts of me

     For some reason, I haven’t really got a clear idea of what I would like to write about today.  I didn’t do much yesterday, got up a bit late, went down to meet someone at the library about a radio interview on CJSR 88.5 FM, then did a bit of shopping.  Money goes so freaking fast these days.  I paid for some postage and some shipping envelopes and a few items at Safeway like coffee and such and a graphic novel at a used book store and suddenly more than $100 was gone.  Then when I got home I went onto eBay and ordered a telephoto lens for my new camera which set me back another $150.  If I didn’t have a part-time job, most of those things would be impossible.  As a note, I am a bit excited about the package I mailed, I am sending my two books, “Through The Withering Storm” and “Mustang Summer” to be considered for a distribution deal.  If they are accepted, I think this could mean a big difference in how many books I can sell and how far they will reach (across Canada).  I still think that my efforts are not 100% noble with my writing, though I don’t really do it for the money.  What I want to do is simply to be able to reach out to people, and I also really enjoy the feeling that people who read my stuff think that I am intelligent and have something to say.  So much of my life, especially after my first serious hospitalization has been a long series of running into people who think I am defined by my illness, so much so that I end up thinking the same.

I have been in a much healthier mental state lately though, even just the past couple of weeks have been better than the times before and so on.  I guess one of the things that has caused that is simply me attending these groups the Schizophrenia Society has been putting on.  As a person with Bipolar Disorder, among a group of people with Schizophrenia, I often dominate the question part of the meetings but no one seems to mind.  Many years ago I was very ill and went to a Schizophrenia group and they went around the room asking people their name and what they did, and when it came to me I said “I am Doctor Gordon Mowat and I research the disease.”  No one batted an eye, even after the discussion.  When I think back it seems kind of funny that no one asked why a Psychiatrist was only 20 and was living in a homeless shelter.  Now I can see the humor of it, but for a long time these things made me feel pretty bad.

I haven’t done much writing in the past few days, not even the odd poem.  I was at a point where I started thinking posting a new poem each day wasn’t doing me much good because I can’t submit poetry anywhere if it has been posted online already, but when I don’t have a place to post my poems I find I don’t write that much.  I recently wrote a Young Adult Novel as many know, but I don’t seem to be getting much response from the many people I sent it to to read.  I did get a very high piece of praise from my brother, who was a part inspiration of the story about how my writing is really coming along and another great piece of feedback from my Dad who said “It’s good.”  Coming from my Dad though, “It’s good.” is huge.  One person I am looking forward to getting feedback from soon is a man called Gary Garrison who just completed a book called “Human on the Inside”, a book about Canada’s Federal Prisons which was so good I read it for the second time the other week in a single sitting.  He is a great help in my work and has a PhD in English.  We attend poetry gatherings together often and he lives just up the street.  I hope Gary and I stay friends for a long time, even though there is a 24 year difference in our ages.  Gary is a very interesting person having left the US during the Vietnam war to escape the draft.

As far as mental health goes, I think I have been doing well.  One of the things that seems to make a big difference is learning about Buddhism and taking anger management.  I have been finding little ways to redirect my thoughts when I find myself being negative and the Buddhism is a great way to develop a spirit of compassion towards people.  I still find myself getting upset sometimes, it is really hard not to when you spend time in this city as a pedestrian and people in cars do things like race by you splashing mud on your clothes or park in front of you when you stand in front of a bus stop.  There was even a guy today who carelessly raced up to a stop where I was crossing and came extremely close to running me down.  Part of me really wants to lash out at these things, but in fact none of these people are really trying to be malicious and me getting angry isn’t going to punish them in some way that will correct their behavior.  In fact, me getting angry only poisons my own soul, so I am hoping I can learn to govern myself better.  I was a bit surprised today to find that I have high blood pressure (according to the self-test machine at the drug store)  I am going to have to take a look at my diet which often includes salty popcorn, salty oily french fries and other bad stuff.  In many ways I am still young at 43 but it is nearing the time when I have to keep a close eye on my health.  I haven’t been nearly as active in the past few weeks as I normally am having had a bad cold, which may be a factor as well.  When I was still a teenager, I was reading one of my brother’s bodybuilding magazines and in it a 70 year-old man was talking about how he pushed and challenged himself physically each day and how you never have to stop doing that, how he even reached new heights of abilities at his age.  I am also inspired by Sylvester Stallone, not only in his movie characters, but in his regular life where he works out like a madman to stay in shape.  He is truly a man to admire, but I am aware that he uses Human Growth Hormones which have altered his appearance.

Well, I will leave it off at that for today.  Anyone wanting to learn about what I know about fitness, nutrition, working out and all that, I have an eBook I wrote with a bodybuilding friend and the help of knowledge gained from reading weightlifting magazines and working out for many years.  It is called “Muscular Strength Training For Any Age” and I have had some good feedback on it.  It isn’t available on this page, but can be accessed through Amazon under my name or the book’s name.  All the best readers, stay healthy, stay safe and stay sane!

IMG_7742This is my Dad, Leif Senior, and the flag of Denmark.  He is standing outside the church in which I was baptized more than 40 years ago

The Summation of my 42nd Year In a Blog

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On the Occasion Of My 43rd Birthday

Well, here it is December 2nd and I have to say this is the best birthday I have ever had.  For some reason, I feel young and alive and happy through and through.  I suppose I could say that it might have to do with working an amazing concert the other day with a great bunch of people, it might have to do with the fact that I have been able to go to Hawaii and a few other places this year.  I guess though, that it all comes down to love.  I really feel loved this year and I feel that I love others in my life.  I would like to try and pin that down further though.  Earlier, a card arrived from my sister signed by her, my niece and her husband and it filled my heart with joy.  The card was hand made, the words “happy birthday” were cut out just like you see ransom notes made in old movies, and my sister had taken the time to find little “fox” cartoons doing some of the things I like to do.  There was a fox with a huge stack of books, there was a fox in a beatnik get up reading poetry at a microphone, and cartoon pictures of popcorn on the stove (which I make at least once a night) and another one of movie cameras.  It makes me feel so special to have a sister that cares enough about me and knows enough about me to take the time to do something like that.  I also feel very grateful for my niece, who happily sang to me a Taylor Swift song she likes (after singing happy birthday), and my day had started out with birthday wishes from my departed cousin’s wife and son who live in Denmark, and soon after my ex-girlfriend Caroline and her boss called me up and sang happy birthday to me over the phone.  The day was filled with good wishes in the form of phone calls, Facebook posts, and I even had my incredible writer friend Richard Van Camp meet up with me and he gave me a very thoughtful gift, a 25 cent coin with a glow-in-the-dark dinosaur on it, stamped with the date 2013 which is the year we first started being friends.  How could anyone ask for more caring and wonderful people in their life?  I also had a dinner invitation from my Dad and Brother, but it will be put off a day or two as my Dad has a cold.

I think what is interesting also is that a good deal of my happiness today didn’t just come from the love I have received and the love I have for others, it has a lot to do with the fact that I have finally started believing in myself as a writer.  That all began two short years back when I first published my memoir, “Through The Withering Storm”.  There are things I don’t like about that book, things I would like to change, but I can’t deny that putting out a book, and also the seven other books I have now published have changed who I am dramatically.  Every time I meet someone who wants to write, I try to tell them all I can about how to succeed, what courses to take, what books and magazines to buy.  All of us have a story to tell, and with a little coaxing and a lot of effort, those stories can one day become a success.

I guess I would like to also talk about Hawaii now as well.  When I was there, one of the best things I took the time to do was to bring snorkelling gear and go swimming among the coral with all the tropical fish.  The gentle rocking of the waves, the absence of any sound but my breathing, the incredible beauty of the underwater world, and the ever-present option of being able to swim back to shore and lay in the hot sun on the beach.  It was beyond divine.  One of the amazing things about it was how I felt when I got back.  After seeing a way of doing something I wanted to do for such a long time and having such a great time doing it, it was no trouble at all facing a few days of work to earn some money and have the chance of going back again.  I don’t know if Hawaii will be my next destination, but I do know I will go some place where I can see history and swim in clear water off a beach.  And that, dear readers, is about all for today.  I am going to put a poem below, but I didn’t write it today, it is from my cache of poetry, I will try and be more original next time, but I hope you like this one anyhow.  It is below the following photo:

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MOVING FORWARD
When I look back on my life, as it spans over 40 years

I think of the strength of my parents through my setbacks and tears

One night as a young child I told them I never wanted to move away

But still that moment had to come to pass one day

Inside the love and protection of our little home

My life was joy, I was never sad, I was never alone

But the years came and went and we lost my mom

Even though on the next morning still out came the sun

It took a few years to feel better again after

She had been so special to us, she was our joy and our laughter

I now think of my Dad and all the things he has gone through

One day soon he will rejoin my mom, I know that to be true

Time will march on, one day my brother and sister too will pass

Somehow as the youngest I have hopes to be the last

When I know my time is coming and my end soon will be

I will go out into the Prairie and plant an oak tree

I want to leave something in this world to mark who we were

Five people, a dog and a cat, held together by love so pure

And then soon after I will take my last breath

And find my perfect completion having lived large until my death

I will go off to be a spirit and all those I had known will be there

Worshiping our God, loving one another without a care

Time will mean nothing, pain and sadness will be all gone

We will live like small happy children, love like them unconditionally on and on

Leif Gregersen

August 14, 2014