Month: January 2015

Distant Shores, Poem of Brotherly Love

DSCF5243This is a shot of one of the best beaches I ever went to.  

You actually have to pay to go to this beach, but it was soooooooo awesome!!

     Hello My Dear Readers!  I think I would like to talk about writing today.  I don’t know how many aspiring writers there are out there, but I think there are a few.  I always say to people the first thing you have to do if you want to write is learn to keep a journal.  It’s more than a diary, it’s a book where you keep anything you want to write down, usually your thoughts, but it is good for ideas too.  I used to force myself to sit each day and write a full page about things I have done.  Now I kind of use this blog for that, but writing is writing.  I have been reading a few things about creativity and they all seem to stress trying to write every day no matter what.  For myself, sometimes I end up either getting stuck or putting out crap and so I will occasionally take a day off or two, and I find if I rested myself mentally, physically and emotionally I will go back in better shape (so I hope).  I had a book signing in my home town of St.Albert, which is a medium sized city north of Edmonton.  It went really well, sold about 10 books.  I don’t know if I’ve beaten that yet, I know with my very first book signing ever I was only selling one book (Through The Withering Storm, still available through this website under ‘books’ on the menu), and I ended up selling eight copies, which added up to just $5 less revenue than I earned the other day.  One of the neat things was having some press coverage, thanks to my good friend Scott Hayes with the St.Albert Gazette. It also helped to post the event to Facebook and let a few people know they were welcome to stop by.

     At the signing I think I learned a new trick.  I will admit you get a few grumpy people who don’t even say anything, but I originally thought if I say hello or hi to each person that went by I would get sales, but what a person really needs to sell a book is to engage the person in conversation and just be a nice person and let them know you have a valid story to tell in your work and I think about 60% of the time if I could engage people in conversation they would buy a book.

     One of the things I like about going to St.Albert is that the Chapters Bookstore they have there is a really good store.  I could easily spend a thousand dollars in one, but this time I spent $45.00 which was kind of a risk because I spent it before I started my book sales and didn’t know if I would make it back.  I ended up making double the cost of the two books back.  I think I would like to start doing book reviews when I get more followers.  To all my loyal readers that is two things I promise as this blog grows in support, I will have book reviews and contest giveaways.  I have been getting into graphic novels lately, and if anyone out there wants an incredible read, I picked up a graphic novel adaptation of a movie (I haven’t seen the movie) which was called “Kingsmen” and it was hilarious, gripping, had some great plot twists, and extremely entertaining.  I won’t talk too much about it, but I would like to say the book doesn’t cost much (I think I paid $13.00) and it is really high quality stuff, especially to anyone who likes James Bond.  Other than that, I think I will try and find another Hawaii photo to put below here because the poem for today is on a sailing theme.  All the best folks!

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This is actually a shot of a lake in Jasper National Park where my family goes a few times a year in memory of my mom.

You, My Dear Brother

 

Somewhere deep down there is a little more

Push hard to get yourself outside your door

A world awaits that needs someone like you

There is a chance our dreams will all come true

 

Love and riches await for all who dare

You can not tell me you no longer care

You and I brother we once had it all

This world is ours if we answer the call

 

Brothers together can change the whole world

We’ll live to see our bold flag fly unfurled

Glory awaits lets take it while we can

Stand with me brother I have the perfect plan

 

We’ll work like dogs and hide away each cent

We’ll work each day until we are all spent

One day we will buy a ship to sail the sea

For once we will be men and will be free

 

We shall set sail for distant lands and ports

We’ll drink and sing old songs until we’re hoarse

Throw a dart in the air to plot our course

We’ll live happy and free in far off shores

 

Come now with me before we grow too old

This world belongs to men hardy and bold

We don’t need this snow and bitter cold wind

Come now my brother new life will begin

 

You’ve been there for me since I was a tot

I have to say I owe you all I’ve got

Now come with me leave this place far behind

Wasting your life away is just unkind

 

We have this chance but it won’t last too long

Open your mind and sing a different song

Let’s aim for places new and women fair

With smiling faces, flowers in their hair

 

Leif Gregersen

January 25, 2015

A Photo, A Blog, A Way To Help, A Way To Give

 

 

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This is a shot from one of the nicest parks we have in Edmonton, and we really have some nice parks.  If anyone has purchased my poetry book, “Poems From Inside Me” They will see on the front cover a gull spreading it’s wings as it flies over this small body of water.  Today is a little windy, a little cold and very wet and slushy, almost like a Spring day, but normally we are around minus 20 celsius at this time of year.  I could have posted a picture of Hawaii, but I figured it would warm my heart a bit more to see a place here when it is nice.  I think in many ways Edmonton’s summer is nicer than Hawaii, mostly because it doesn’t get as hot, it isn’t as muggy when it is hot and there are much more daylight hours than tropical locations because Edmonton is so far North.

I wanted to shake things up a bit today with the blog because I have been hard at work on a few things and just haven’t got the energy to compose a fresh poem.  I think I will post a ‘used’ poem on the page, as always I welcome feedback.  What I have been up to is setting up a crowdfunding web page with the hopes of raising $750.00 (already $50 has been generously donated) which I will use to hire an illustrator for a comic book script I have written, and hopefully this will help cover printing costs as well. I have a couple of rare opportunities, one is that I have gotten a part-time job where I will be going to schools and other classroom settings and talking about my life experiences with mental illness, and though I have two books on the subject, I don’t know if they will help teens much, partly because not all teens are into regular books, and not all teens can afford regular books.  So my idea is to print up and distribute this comic in these settings, and by some million to one shot, I was sent an email asking for proposals for presentations at a conference in California on mental health and comic books.  Can you believe it?  There really has to be some kind of major intelligent guiding force in this Universe.  Anyhow, anyone interested can check out my crowdfunding page at: http://www.gofundme.com/oneinfive1in5

I think what I am going to do is to post a video from Youtube I made below here, it is a narration of me walking through the mental hospital I was sent to as an 18 year-old and last left some 13 years ago at the age of 29.  Pardon if the first little while is boring, I decided to keep it because as I went towards the hospital on the bus a young woman started a conversation with me that seemed relevant.  Look for todays (used) poem below the video.  Actually, what the heck, I will put in three short poems, I had entered them in a contest to appear on the bus but they weren’t accepted.

 

The Truth of The Matter

 

The gentle blackbird asking nothing of anyone

A shiny object with which to line his nest, a little food

He reminds me of the young man I saw some years back

A thin shock of dark hair, a lust for life

A sincere smile, a shirt indicating his military unit

The blackbird is known all around the neighborhood

The young man seems the type to have many friends

I weep for my blackbird friend and this nameless young soldier

Both of them have been alone and in pain

Both of them must face life with just one leg

 

 

More Than a Scavenger

 

Someone once told me birds aren’t very smart

And yet I will never tire of marveling at their beauty

Even the simple gulls can soar and glide

Press their perfectly arrayed wings against the air

With just the right energy to carry themselves skyward

Once, in a place where many are old and forgotten

I felt generous and threw a pizza crust to a gull

It was too stiff for him to eat and he carried it

Over to a puddle and soaked it until it was softer

Bird-brain. Bah!

 

 

Hawrelak Park

 

I once saw a deer in my city

Those big eyes seemingly glowing

This gentle creature more beautiful

Than any made-up model

It’s slim legs ready to flee

At the sound of an unkind foe

It looked at me, looked at me

And somehow for a moment

I could see her soul; her sad tired soul

Longing for rest and peacefulness

In a city full of meat eaters

 

 

Late Night/Early Morning Thoughts of a Princess of Old

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This is a beautiful statue behind my favourite building, the Library!

Hello all my dear readers!  Well, it is only 7:00am but it looks like my day is off to a great start!  I just had a chance to read a great article about myself published in my home town newspaper.  It mentions my website, my new ‘gofundme’ campaign (I am trying to raise $750 to fund a community health graphic novel/comic book about mental health issues at http://www.gofundme.com/oneinfive1in5).  It even has a picture of my new poetry book, “Stargazer: My Life in Constellations”.  I have to apologize because I haven’t yet put a link for that book on this website or set it up so those who aren’t rich can get it in a cheaper ebook format.  Look for both in the coming week.

Today I am heading over to the University Hospital to set up a book signing at the gift shop.  I always like going there because I sell a few books and then they buy a few more to sell on their shelves.  I can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel where I won’t have to worry so much about working as a stage hand.  I love the work, but it can be extremely strenuous and dangerous.  Just the other day I had to walk on some two inch metal slats eight floors above a stage that were spaced about two inches apart.  No real danger, but freaky!!

I have been considering taking my next vacation to Mexico.  The only thing that worries me about going is that cigarettes and booze are going to be so cheap I don’t know if I can keep my clean living promise to myself.  I would really like to tour some ruins and swim in the Atlantic, I have already checked some prices and places to stay.  Might end up later in the year than I thought I would go though, which would be fine.  I have high hopes right now that I am going to get published in Esprit De Corps magazine with a story I did on a battle during the Korean war at a place called Kap’yong where a small group of Canadians distinguished themselves by holding off some 3,000 Chinese troops.  I have also put out a few more proposals to magazines, they can be really great paying or really lousy.  One article I wrote they weren’t going to pay me anything and so I whined and complained and they decided to shoot me a few bucks for the effort.  I should warn any aspiring writers out there that when it comes to getting paid, you really have to be patient sometimes, even for magazine work.  I have had to wait up to a year for some markets to pay, but the majority of editors are really good.  The vast majority.

Once again, I want to let everyone know that I welcome any comments they wish to make.  If we can get this blog a little more active I will start having contests and give-aways.  First to answer a simple question gets a signed book delivered and so on.  Any writers out there?  I would love to follow your blog, just leave a comment and let me know who you are.

Look for today’s poem below today’s photo!!

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Here’s a nice shot of a cruise ship from the Big Island in Hawaii

Princess

 

In the darkness in morning I awake

And a brisk walk I always like to take

Down the frozen streets of my northern home

If the stars are out I don’t feel alone

 

The sky is my companion as I go

Walking here does me more good than I know

The air is clean and crisp the streets all mine

Renews my spirit more than sacred wine

 

I like my neighbors; I love all my friends

But on these moonlit walks my soul depends

Walking for me is meditating too

It’s so much more than just something to do

 

I need to walk and focus all my thought

I need to unlearn all my day has taught

In this city one tends to worry much

And more when you have no lover’s sweet touch

 

As I walk far I walk through my head too

And banish all my memories of you

God take me now if I can’t do the task

Some peace and strength to live is all I ask

 

I love someone who does not care for me

My meditation walks sets me free

But like all good things it too has to end

And then all those longings come back again

 

In every life some pain will come for sure

And sadly time can be the only cure

The best advice I got is to have fun

And know first love is not the only one

 

In my heart I want to be loyal still

But you can’t change a mind by force of will

The sad thing is I did not know her well

Though her smile could send you to burn in hell

 

A perfect face and lovely golden hair

Men would always see her and stop and stare

How I ever thought she could have liked me

Folks must still consider a mystery

 

So now I walk and count my breaths and think

About how life can sometimes really stink

One thing I can say that I know for sure

I now have a new girl and I love her

 

Maybe the Princess would have been a trial

I just can’t stop thinking about her smile

My new love was meant only to be mine

And in reality she’s just as fine

 

We always want what we can never get

I feel though that I owe a holy debt

I have four limbs, two eyes, a heart and mind

I have a real girl so sweet and so kind

 

One day I will get over what’s-her-name

And not feel I have to focus the blame

On things I felt but never talked about

Things kept inside because all of my doubt

 

 

Leif Gregersen

 

Aviation, Flying. It Was Once a Big Part of Me

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Beautiful Honolulu

Well, this weekend has been a productive one.  I started out my day by writing a speech which I am hoping I will be able to use at my new job as a speaker regarding lived experiences with mental illness.  After that I still felt kind of creative but had a hard time deciding what I wanted to write.  I decided that I would take the advice of a young woman and try and ‘steal’ some inspiration from another writer.  I had a literary journal called “Tinhouse” by my bed, (I strongly recommend anyone who enjoys quality literature, prose or poetry, to get their hands on literary journals, especially this one).  I opened it up and looked for some interesting short stories.  I found a story set all in snail-mail letters from a person in Russia writing to a sister who had gone to America during the second world war.  All the while, writing many letters, the author of the pages doesn’t hear from her sister.  I am wondering if in the end she will have been caught trying to leave communist Russia, but that isn’t what my blog for today is about.  I took a bit of inspiration from reading this epistolary story and wrote one of my own.  I often take a lot from real life to put into my stories, but I make sure they are 98.5% fictional.  Sometimes this has caused me difficulties especially when I write dark or sad stuff.  I wonder what will happen if one day millions of people actually read my stuff.  When you look at the recent events with journalists, and even events from long ago, it gets a bit scary.  I often wonder if my memoir/autobiography “Through The Withering Storm” (available to link to on this website under ‘books’) and my second memoir, “Inching Back To Sane” (also available in kindle and paperback through this website) may one day spark off a person to contact me who I don’t really want to contact.  So far I have had no negative experiences, I have even become bold enough to put my email on the inside page of my books, and I regularly pass out cards with my name, email and phone number on them.  Sorry for all the rambling, I suppose I am a bit tired as I write this.  It is 5:00am and I have been writing for some time.  As usual, look for today’s poem below today’s photo.  And please feel free to send me your comments, opinions, rants, anything.  I would love to hear more from those who may read this blog and poetry forum.

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Here’s a photo of a glider similar to one I used to fly as a teenager in cadets

 

Private Pilot

 

Soaring above the ground there was no sound

But laughing as my heart began to pound

I could not help but feel such happiness

My first flight gave me such total bliss

 

I set my goal to reach the very stars

I found no joy in sneaking into bars

I needed just a headset and glasses

To attend my mile-high flight school classes

 

I felt so great about who I had become

Mind and body and the blue sky were one

I could do it all with my little plane

I hoped I would never come back again

 

You see I had been in an awful place

Where my mind was broken and lost in space

I was given up on and locked away

And was told this was where I had to stay

 

I thought if I could run far enough

Life would not be so awfully tough

But my poor sick mind came along with me

And from my illness I was never free

 

Then so like all who came before and since

It was time to stop acting like some prince

And own who I was truly in my heart

No matter if it tore me all apart

 

I had to give up on a lot of things

Worst of all the joy friendship sometimes brings

And on love that I once thought was all mine

Even some simple things like beer and wine

 

It was so hard to give up on flying

Even now I think of some day trying

But I have found a precious joy on Earth

Writing gives my grounded soul a rebirth

 

And so when life takes things from you so dear

And it seems that the world is full of fear

Look to the simple things that give you joy

And let it be for you your soul’s new toy

 

 

Leif Gregersen

January 18, 2015

The Middle of Winter: The Middle of Summer

Mental Health coping skills blog by leif gregersen

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Downtown Edmonton in the Summer

Well, here it is the middle of January and I have been happily writing poems.  I picked up a great little poetry review called “Tin House” and had fun reading it.  It inspired me to write a poem that I submitted to a poetry review.  This isn’t the poem I am posting below, these reviews have strict standards that you can’t have published or posted a poem you submit to them anywhere.  For some reason though, I had enough creativity in me to write two poems, so I will not deny my 193 fans the benefit of my literary musings.  I like to try and put some small measure of philosophy into my works, though I am not a philosopher in the more traditional sense.  I say that because I have a cousin who at one time was literally one of the foremost Canadian philosophers…

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