Pyramid Lake

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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God of All Creation

DSC_0037THIS IS THE PHOTO (ROUGHLY) THAT APPEARED IN THE EDMONTON SUN NEWSPAPER

     Hello Dear Readers!  Well, I am in a good mood today.  I have been given a wonderful opportunity to work for the Schizophrenia Society as a presenter of my own lived experience with mental illness.  Basically I wrote a speech and now and then I get asked to give talks to different groups.  Last night I presented to a family wellness group and it went so well.  The talk kind of ran for a long time, but people seemed pretty responsive.  I should note that for a long time I have been working a job I love as a stage hand, but it has slowly gotten to be almost too much for me.  Now, I have this job with the Society and I am able to utilize all of my knowledge and skills (and a little bit of bravery-public speaking can be difficult at times!)  Not to mention that on some occasions I am given permission to bring and sell and sign books.  I get so much better response for my book sales when I do something like this, last night I sold three copies of “Inching Back To Sane” which is a lot considering at (a)there were only 10 people there to present to, and (b)at a book signing at a book store the other day I sat for five hours and sold just one book!

Another thing that I am finding is that as I meet with people and share about my illness, I am learning a lot about new coping strategies, new events and generally helping my condition a lot.  The lady who runs the Edmonton office of the Society seems to be impressed with me and has asked that I write a special speech for a fundraiser they are having in the fall, I am really excited about it.

I don’t know how much I have shared about it, but I recently completed a ‘Wellness Recovery Action Plan’ or WRAP course and I am hoping that I will be able to become a facilitator for this group in the new year.  For anyone that doesn’t have knowledge of it, I suggest you Google the name and also look for information about Mary Ellen Copeland, she has developed this method of becoming aware of the things that help get you through a bad day or a serious crisis and also making plans that you can share with others for what to do if you end up in crisis and many more things.  There is actually a ‘WRAP app’ on iPhone and Android where you can access on your smartphone all of your lists and even email them to anyone you feel might need them, say your therapist or doctor or health care worker or even family member or friend.  Just the other day I was feeling a bit out of sorts, possibly because I had been getting out in the hot sun a little too much and it wasn’t doing my mental health much good.  I opened up my ‘WRAP app’ and went through a list of things that I knew would make me feel better.  One of them of course is reading, and I picked up some light material and got myself through a time when I may have felt so ‘ill’ that I had to contact my Doctor or Nurse or put pressure on a family member to try and help me.  There are courses and books out there that I think could be very beneficial.

Another resource I wanted to mention was a thing I found on YouTube, called ‘guided meditation’.  There is this one video that comes up that shows an orange sunset over waves and in the video the announcer talks you through some deep breathing and relaxation techniques, and I swear it is better than a hot bath with epsom salts for relaxing you.  A large part of the video is just the sounds of waves gently crashing on a beach and it takes me back to times when I was in Honolulu near Waikiki Beach and I couldn’t sleep so I took a walk and then just sat on a park bench sipping a milkshake and listened to the waves, thinking to myself how incredibly cool it was that I was out on the cusp of thousands of miles of water.  It was such a powerful experience.  Anyhow, if you scroll past today’s second picture below you will find a poem, and below that in the previous blog I wrote you can find a YouTube link to a video I made of a nearby national park situated on the Alberta side of the Rocky Mountains.  I hope all of you are well, please email or comment if there is any information you want to see on this website or even just want to say hi.  viking3082000@yahoo.com

Take care!

DSC_0077        THERE HE IS AGAIN!  THE MAN WITH THE HAT!

 

Goldilocks Princess

 

Often when times seem unfair and way too rough

I steel myself and try to be strong and tough

But hidden deep down inside my mind

I long for days when the world was more kind

 

As a boy happiness was everywhere

I received so much dear love and care

My Mom and Dad would do all the worrying for me

And I was free to just live and play and be

 

But when that young boy reached the age to become a man

No one seemed to want to help or give a hand

I soon realized I had to make my own way

Work all day with no time left over to play

 

I still remember when I first cooked my own meals

Trying to understand the bus because I had no wheels

Waking up each day to work and try and build a life

Hoping somehow to meet someone to be my wife

 

And then so many awful things got in the way

It was all I could do just to make it through each day

Some people learned I was giving and kind and cleaned me out

But I know there are still good people, of this I have no doubt

 

And then after a time came the miracle that changed it all

My sister had a baby, so precious, adorable and small

I love her now just as though she were my own

And pray she never has to be alone or leave her home

 

I so much wish that she never wants or needs

I’ll work for her wellbeing until my fingers bleed

And then something that makes me feel a little shy

Is that she loves me back so dearly and I don’t know why

 

I’m just a simple writer, a lonely ageing man

Trying to do the most for those I love that I can

Nothing sweeter than to hear a little child say

I miss you when you are so far away

 

But in just a couple of weeks I will see her once more

Closer to her adulthood than ever before

I will take a flight to her family’s big city home

And I know she will inspire many more poems

 

The emotion a young one inspires is so wild

I sometimes wish she were forever a child

But she will grow and take her place all in due time

For now though she is sweet loving child so kind

 

And so with these words I hope I touch your heart

Remind you to love your family and never depart

Because my little miracle saved me from pain and despair

My own goldilocks Princess with so much love to share

 

Leif Gregersen

July 8, 2015