Finding Inspiration: Stealing a Little Here and There

DSCF1156I was drawn to this building because of all the lettering.  My Dad was a sign writer most of his life and made a lot of really cool signs in his shop.  The worn down and abandoned look to this building reminds me that even our heroes in this world are subject to impermanence.

     Hello Dear Readers!  I am fiddling around with the format of this blog a bit, I hope you don’t mind.   As usual I am more than happy to receive comments on my personal email if anyone has questions or wants to see something different.  It is of course, and I still haven’t gotten one single email from anyone!

Well, I guess there is a lot to discuss here.  Saturday night I was feeling pretty crappy.  I had the crap kicked out of me by working a very difficult job in the hot sun on Friday for 7 solid hours without a break.  (I love unions!)  Still, it was a great experience in many ways.  I think the biggest way it was a good experience is that when I do a union show, very rarely does what I do last.  99% of my work seems to be setting up concerts, which have to be torn down and reloaded onto trucks the minute the show is over.  Kind of frustrating, but still there are many opportunities to learn.  What I did on Friday was help put up the boards for a rink in the community I live in.  It is a great resource for the disadvantaged kids that live in the area, a lot of them really rely on being able to come and borrow skates and a stick and play in the winter.  I wonder sometimes when the land the rink is on will be devoured by urban sprawl.  I was paid for the work, but it still feels good to work towards something positive.

Saturday during the day I had a couple of photography assignments for the newspaper I volunteer for.  The neatest part of that was that when I got to the Italian Senior’s Centre where they had the even I was shooting, they had the latest newspapers out on a table and a photo I took was on the front cover in brilliant color.  I also got a fantastic meal out of the deal and had a chance to learn more about my Nikon camera.

So anyhow, I was trying to talk about Saturday night and address the topic of creativity.  As mentioned, I wasn’t feeling all that great but I had enough pep in me to think up an idea for a short story.  I don’t want to tell too much about it, I have some people reading it and I am hoping to include it in a new collection some time soon.  The neat thing was the way I wrote it.  I took events from my life that were real, and used some of them, flipped around and changed a bit in the story.  Some girls I knew from my days at school became some kind of secret group of models and rich girls.  I took a friend I had and changed his name and had him change the plot of the story.  The neat thing was that just about all of the story came from real events, made unrecognizable by chronology and connections.  I once heard someone say that bad poets steal, good poets borrow.  I wrote a poem tonight that appears below and I have to admit that the hardest lines to write (the first ones-always the hardest for me!) were inspired by a Dylan Thomas poem.  One day when this blog gets more popular and I can get some interaction out of people I will be noting things like this and having giveaways to people who can name the poem I was inspired by and so on.  Something to keep in mind.

Well, I think that is enough talk about writing.  I am going to be facilitating a writer’s group soon (Wednesday) and I am strongly hoping it will go well.  I guess I have taught classes before, even much larger ones (in Air Cadets).  I think it should go okay.  Right now I am kind of having a problem and I know the solution, I am just having a hard time putting the changes into effect.  The problem is in two parts, (a) getting to sleep at night and a linked problem (b) I drink too much caffeine.  My previous Psychiatrist has warned me a number of times about the dangers of caffeine, but I have often felt that it was the thing that got me off cigarettes.  I even listened to a lengthy audiobook once about the dangers of caffeine.  I had a friend at work tell me once that he had once drank so many energy drinks that he became allergic to caffeine.  It would be so hard for me to quit, but I am starting to fear 100% abstinence is my only solution.  One of the problems I have is that I tend to reward myself with coffee.  If I play a fun video game and do well on it, I see drinking coffee as a reward.  If I went without spending too much money and actually end the day with money in my bank I reward myself with coffee.  For a while I was drinking only tea, but I was unable to keep that up.  It is funny what gives us addictions.  I started drinking tea, and actually got quite serious about having a quality cup of tea that I spent a lot of money on specialty teas and teapots and had all kinds of teas and brands and all that.  The tea phase in my life was started because I read a fascinating book by a man with the pen name Andy McNab who was once Britain’s highest decorated soldier and had been a key member of the SAS, a unit that has fascinated me for a long time.  How did I get addicted to coffee?  By attending 12-step groups!  They poured out the coffee by the ton, and soon I was drinking it just for something to do with my hands.  Now I am at the point where I need a cup of coffee to get me to sleep, my Dr. said that it means I have a certain level of caffeine that needs to be topped up or I get withdrawls.

All pretty grim, but the main problem really isn’t the coffee.  The main problem is that I am a person with Bipolar Disorder and not being able to stay calm and relaxed can be quite detrimental to my health.  Recently I started taking a tranquilizer to help me sleep and I am near the point of asking for a stronger one but I hate what that would do to me.  Every new pill has side effects, and as it is I try to take the tranquilizer as little as possible.  It is just that there are times when I really need to sleep and if I go to bed without help in pill form, it will often take me two to three hours of lying still to calm down enough to sleep.  Although I have been told not to take naps, it seems that is the only way I can continue to function.  I often take a nap before and after supper, and when I am in the middle of a serious writing project I will often sleep until it is near midnight, then load up on coffee and try to put out a reasonable word count.  It is funny because I don’t notice these sorts of things in myself, but when I wrote my first novel, “Green Mountain Road” my Dad actually told me it was hard to watch me killing myself to write this thing.  What I did then was to grab my laptop, head to an all-night McDonald’s and drink coffee or pop until I put out 5,000 words.  Literal craziness.  Anyhow, that is my rant, I don’t know if any of this helps, but I would sure like it if people would comment or even friend me on Facebook, I really like to discuss these sorts of things with other people with Bipolar Disorder, it can be very instructive and beneficial.  So if you like, friend me on Facebook at Leif Gregersen, and if you like my poetry, I also have a poetry page on Facebook called “Valhalla Books”.  All the best Dear Readers, stay real, and don’t forget to scroll past the below photo for today’s poem.

DSC_0064                  Here’s a photo of a very talented musician and kind human being named Bill Bourne who performed at a winter warmer event that I took pictures for this past winter. 


Changing, Growing


I often wonder what is the power that pushes upwards a flower

On and on until it becomes a bloom

And what is the divine force that guides a human life through its course

And like clockwork spins the phase of the moon


I once thought that if I gave all of me until the fall of me

Towards all things that seemed bold, noble and true

That the day would soon come while I was yet still young

That I would no longer feel so lost and blue


The fact is sometimes as it sits, single middle-aged life is the pits

And as time passes I often mull over all my love lost

Yet still there may be a chance to meet ‘the one’ and ask her to dance

But right now our paths have yet to cross


Though I am happy I guess and in some ways pretty blessed

When it comes to human bonding I am truly inept

Even as a young man with the world in the palm of my hand

I can remember sad times when I wept


But I kept the hope deep in me that one day I would be free

Of the chains that bind the nervous and shy

And then fate screwed with me bad and I lost all that I ever had

It was just like falling from miles up in the sky


I’ll admit though I got a good deal of it back when I changed my tack

By living clean, healthy and respectful of everyone

And what was so odd it seems that by letting go of my dreams

I still got to lay on the beach in the sun


Away on a far off shore I was able to relax recharge and explore

And I had some quality time to sort out my mind

Far away it didn’t matter that once I was mad as a hatter

All new friends only cared if I was giving and kind


So I stayed on those far off shores until people were sick of my snores

And I felt I could return with peace in my heart

Being away felt so good but I had to return to my neighborhood

It was there I had made a fresh start


Since then there have been wonderful days good in so many ways

All because I gave from deep down in my soul

Now I don’t need to be rich anymore, I just need to love and adore

My new friends and family that care and let me feel whole


Leif Gregersen

June 1, 2015

Sometimes the Pain You Feel Inside



The Pain You Feel Inside


Sometimes the pain you feel inside

Is not the right thing to hide


We seem to all have something in our head

That sometimes fills us with dread


You need to talk and listen carefully

Only then can you be truly free


And illness may boil up inside of you

And you may not know what to do


So many people can help a lot

With every raging thought


Sometimes it’s not the thing to hide

What seethes and boils inside


You first need a Doctor you can talk to

About feeling stressed or blue


Or talk to about the voices thoughts and feelings

That affect all of your daily dealings


Only honesty and care and making those around you aware

Can push away those thoughts that leave you scared


We all have things we hold inside

But they are not the thing to hide


We all need someone to be an ear

And it’s not always those we hold dear


If you are hurting deep in your mind

There are so many who are kind


Special Doctors, counselors and therapists

Who can help you deal with all of this


Sometimes the pain you feel inside

Is not the thing that you should hide


Well, today I thought I would compose a poem that I didn’t need to publish so I could put it on here.  I love to write, and sometimes it is easier for me to express what I feel through poetry.  This is common for many people.  I always encourage people with mental illnesses to keep a journal, but I should add further how important it is to have some kind of creative endeavor.  I know that the Schizophrenia Society of which I am a member of has a painting class and a life skills class and both of them can be really beneficial.

I don’t know really what it is about being creative that is healing, soothing even for a person with a mental illness.  Perhaps it is something that is healing and soothing for everyone only people with mental illnesses seem to lock themselves away.  It isn’t surprising when there are so many horror movies and reports from the media about mentally ill people going off on a rampage.

It is a funny thing, but for a long time I was very reluctant to tell anyone I had a mental illness.  I can even recall times (especially when I was in the middle of a serious psychosis) that I flat out lied to people.  I remember one time that still comes back to haunt me where I actually had delusions that I owned a nightclub in my home town and I went up to one of the bouncers and told him someone kept telling me I owned the place.  He asked if I had ever been in a mental hospital, and though I had just gotten out of one I said no.  The guy was actually being kind of understanding about the whole thing but I was so ashamed.

But regardless, now that I am more comfortable with who I am and any illness that I try not to let define me, I tell just about everyone that I have a mental illness, and I very often have people say, “oh, my sister has a mental illness and goes in the hospital a lot when she goes off her medication” or, “my father was a schizophrenic, I would really like to buy your book” or even “I have been taking medications for a number of years now.”  Still, it is a hard thing to do, even with professionals to be truthful about the demons in your head.  When I look back now at my first few hospital admissions, if I had been honest with my Doctor I would have been behind closed doors for a lot less time and likely have been helped more.

The funny thing is that I have few regrets about the past.  I owe a lot of that to the meditation I undertake, it is such a soothing and renewing process, and I owe even more to my ability to write about being ill and knowing that I helped people through a rough patch.  Although it may have been dangerous, though I was always with a certified instructor, I probably never should have taken flying lessons, but flying is such an interesting and rewarding part of my life to this day I don’t regret it.  I even don’t regret the student loan I took out to pay for it that is still on the books 24 years later.

But I think I should stress that it really doesn’t make sense to not talk to your Psychiatrist about everything that goes on in your head and heart.  They have heard it all and are trained to help.  If you find that your Doctor judges you in any way or doesn’t seem to care at all, in most cases it is your option and your right to find a different Doctor.  I often wonder about what people in poorer countries where facilities like I have access to in Canada don’t exist.  If any of these people are accessing this page and are unable to find help for their mental health issues, I invite them to write to me,    I would really like to help anyone I can through this blog, it is what it is here for.  If you have any topics you would like me to discuss here, also please email me.  Other than that, please enjoy today’s photos and poem and look towards the future where there is always hope.

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