finance

Sunny Summer Days are on Their Way

DSC_0262Something that is so healing for my mental trials is to go to parks and take pictures of birds with my dad.  Here in Edmonton in the summer we have so many wonderful places, and everything from Bald Eagles to Blue Jays to photograph.

Hello Dear Readers!  What a great picture I found to introduce my blog today.  I have such love for my dad, he is a wonderful guy.  We didn’t always get along that great, there are times when he was grumpy and even times when things he did seemed mean, but the fact is that he had been there and supported and loved me for many years.  I would encourage anyone who is struggling with family relationships or mental health issues or both to take the time to show your family they matter and that you care.  They are the people in this world we know better than any others and are most likely to be by our side when problems come up.

Aside from all that, I wanted to talk a bit today about a growing movement that I am a part of.  It is a thing called the “Wellness Recovery Action Plan” or WRAP.  It is a course, which is used here in Alberta to help people overcome mental health and addictions issues and I think it can be extremely beneficial to anyone who takes it.  There is something that goes along with the course that you can download to a smartphone called “The Wrap App” where you go through a lot of the things the course covers.  Basically you write down all the things you love to do, then you write a list of all the things that stress you out.  Then you go on to make more lists, and the ‘wrap app’ helps you organize these lists.  I recommend taking the course if you can because when you do, and when you make your lists, you become sensitive to things like what stresses you out, what are some indications that you are not as well as you normally are.  You can put down something like: when I get stressed, I tend to lay in bed all day and try and sleep away my problems.  So then, with the help of your wrap plan, you notice you are sleeping a lot and then you look on your list of things you like to do and maybe you go swimming or for a bike ride or watch a movie or play a video game.  It is a great way to get to know yourself, and there are more advanced topics such as who you want to be in charge when you get sick, who you don’t want to be in charge and what hospital you want to go to.  Not all of us will be well forever, medications have this annoying habit of stopping being effective, and other things can go on.  Having a plan puts you so much further ahead.

One thing I am very happy about is that I was recently approved to take the WRAP facilitator’s course, which means I take a 5 day intensive course and then I will be able to be a class leader, after an apprenticeship of sorts.  It really excites me that I can help others to overcome their problems and to use my own illness to help others.  I think that it will also be really cool not only with my current magazine writing about mental health, but also for my future desires to write more non-fiction books about overcoming bipolar and subjects like that.

When I write this blog, I try to think of my readers, and it worries me often that a lot of people who read my work don’t live in such an ideal place as I do (health insurance-wise).  Just to run down things a bit for you, I get a small disability pension that covers my rent and food and other bills, then I get health care provided free of charge, including dental and my medication is paid for.  I can’t even imagine what people go through in places where mental health treatment is hard to come by and medication and treatment (not to mention rent and food) are equally difficult to come by.  For a lot of years I was struggling with some of these issues before I was put on my disability benefits and I was always looking for a job.  I remember being so saddened because a neighbor and friend of mine was running a gas station and wanted me to start work for him and the same day my dad came by and took one look at me and said he was taking me to the hospital.  I wish there were easy answers.  When it comes down to money, I often like to tell people about a short book I once read that really helped me get a handle on my finances, it was called “The Richest Man in Babylon.”  This 100-or-so page book talks about enhancing your skills and setting a budget and putting away no less than 10% of your earnings, and it even gets into simple wisdom about where to invest your money when you have built up a surplus.  One of the things that bothers me as well though is that people who read this blog and people who can read the book are a relatively small, highly intelligent section of the population.  So I would encourage those who read this who have managed to deal with their problems to try and share their knowledge with other psychiatric survivors and help them find a small taste of freedom and self-respect.

Well, dear readers, that is about it for today.  I hope I have given some wisdom to help carry you through.  Of course the greatest wisdom really is that time heals all wounds.  I was near desperation, in a fog of depression and constantly wishing I had money or resources when I was younger and over time I learned a lot of coping strategies and also I had opportunities come to me to earn, learn and live that have put me in a good position to lead a happy life.  I wish all of you a happy life and encourage you to drop me a line any time.  viking3082000@yahoo.com

How To Become Wealthy, According to Richard S. Clason

DSCF3211They call the west “Big Sky Country” and there is nothing finer than heading out down a back road and just exploring in the summer time.  The trees, the clouds.  So breathtaking

Good day dear readers.  Most of you will be reading this on Sunday.  If you are like my roommate, you refrain from work or making money on Sunday.  I think this is actually a pretty good idea, but with me being from good old Protestant Work Ethic stock, I will make money at any time there is some to be made.  As an example, today after supper I used my geek skills to fix a friend’s configuration on his computer for $20 then went to volunteer for a community event which was actually really cool and made a lot of new connections and added $60 to my bottom line by selling some of my books.  I do try to attend church when I can but I honestly don’t think that God will fault me if I don’t.  I think that really church is a great place to go, and can greatly enrich one’s life, but when it comes down to saying if you would go to heaven or not whether you went to church or not, I beg to differ.  I see church as a place to go to be forgiven for your sins (the sacrament of confession) and to celebrate a mass, but it is more there I feel to have a sense of community among believers and receive guidance and direction from your pastor or priest.  I even feel that people who don’t believe in God, provided they don’t persecute people who do, will go to heaven as long as they aren’t total unrepentant sinners.  One of the few types of people I feel won’t go to heaven would be psychopathic personalities because I think that when they do harmful or powermongering things and their conscience doesn’t kick in and tell them it is wrong, that is what Jesus meant when he talked about sinning against the holy spirit, the only unforgivable sin Jesus ever mentioned.

But, I did sort of promise I would talk about work and finance today so I will forgo that.  What I wanted to focus on was a little book recommended to me by one of the more successful people I know, though certainly not the most successful.  The most successful person I know is a young man named Jeff Berwick who I am friends with and went to high school with who not only once had a net worth of close to a billion dollars, but also was one of the founders of bitcoin among many other projects.  What the ‘lesser successful’ person told me was that he had been recommended to read a book while we were in school which was called “The Richest Man in Babylon” by Richard S. Clason.  I read this book after he recommended it, and it was simply incredible.  Through stories of traders and merchants and money lenders of old, and even stories of slavery and crime, Richard S. Clason, in not much more than 100 pages, teaches people how to master their finances.  He uses no special recommendations that don’t go beyond simple wisdom.  His first axiom is that a person should always save at least 10% of what they earn, that this should be put aside and not touched, but sometimes invested.  Then he goes through many things, not the least of which is how to get advice.  If you want to learn about bricks, don’t ask your neighbor who put up a wall last year, go and find a bricklayer who has spent his life mastering the trade.  If you want to make some money buying diamonds, don’t trust your local Amway salesman, go to a jeweler and seek information from someone who will truly know what they are talking about.  Then he goes on to show the wisdom of doing everything you can to own your own home because what you would have paid in rent goes to a place you can be proud to live in, a yard your children can play in and a place for your wife to have a garden, and as the years pass and you pay off your mortgage, you will have a sizable asset to lean on.  Next, though in the times the stories are set, there is no such thing as insurance or mortgages, he talks about how important it is to have insurance to protect your family.  A key idea he sets down as well is that you should take the job you have and learn all you can about it, consult with others who do the same work, and put all you can into being a hard worker and a productive employee, and this will also help guide you down the path to better finances.

I know this is all seemingly off topic for people who have mental health issues, but it is something I feel is important to everyone.  I feel so very blessed to live in Canada because at 43 I already am able to draw on my old age pension benefits under a disability program, which I would have a hard time getting along without, and there are also programs to help people who are disabled to save money that are so incredibly generous to disabled people it is almost a crime that I don’t take advantage of it.  What I would like to recommend to those who have very little or no income due to a disability, is to first of all maintain a good relationship with your Doctor/Psychiatrist and then look for ways you can earn a little extra and set up a system of rewards so that you feel good about doing it even though it may be 10 times more difficult for you than others who don’t have a mental illness.  I used to reward myself now and then with a special tin of pipe tobacco or a book, but there are many things that can be set up.  I do strongly recommend, even though I have books that give me a small profit, that everyone who wants to master their finances go out and get a copy of “The Richest Man in Babylon”.  The book has meant so much to me over the years that I would estimate I read it close to 50 times.  Once you have read that, the next recommendation I would like to give is to try and get an audiobook series from your local library, even if you have to arrange to borrow it as an inter-library loan or heaven forbid, purchase it instead of downloading it off the Internet, of Roger Dawson’s, “Secrets of Power Negotiating”.  This audiobook series will literally change the way you look at buying and selling everything.  If you arm yourself with these two books and make it your mission to understand them and put them into practice, you will be well on your way to living a comfortable life.  If you are presently unable to work, get these books, read them, and then start small.  Buy some furniture out of the newspaper and set up a booth at your local flea market, or do like I did and start to sell off your own excess household items and then supplement your stock with DVD’s or books you pick up.  One time I even went to the dollar store, got some gadgets for $1 and then sold them at the flea market for $3 and these people had no problem paying it.  I would like to be your guide, if you have any questions, or would like to ask me how you can turn your life around when you have a mental illness and are suffering, please feel free to email me at: viking3082000@yahoo.com  and what the heck, if you want to learn more about this or if you like short stories or poetry, check out my ‘books’ page on the menu above or from the landing page on this site and grab a kindle version of one of my books (if you don’t have a kindle, there is a free app for kindle that works on smart phones and tablets).  Regardless, thank you my readers for making me feel worthwhile and needed!

DSC_0048       Despite the cold and the urban sprawl, Edmonton can actually be a beautiful place

A Little On the Financial Side of Things

DSC_0062I’m excited to see a building coming up on this spot because in Edmonton we have closed our municipal airport, meaning now downtown towers can go over a specified height limit that was needed for the approach pattern.  This may well be Edmonton’s new tallest tower

Hello Dear readers!  I wouldn’t count myself to be a proper blogger on the topic of mental health if I didn’t take some of what I had to say about money and work and put it down for all to see.  Just about all my life I have worked, even when I was in the most severe of depressions and on seriously strong medications.  I can recall one time when it was my birthday and my brother and mom called me in the morning before work and I was in a terrible state.  Most people would appreciate getting a call like that, but I was very down and very ill at the time.  I was working at a grocery store which for some time I thought would be a dream job seeing as how it was a well paid union gig, but I was struggling.  Later that same year I went into the hospital and was released early so I could go back to work.  After finally quitting the grocery store job I found something that I could handle a little better, security work.  There were a few things I liked about this kind of work, first and foremost it allowed me a great deal of time to read but sometimes it was extremely hard to keep myself going through a long night shift (we often worked 12 hour shifts) and then have to ride the bus across town to get home and maybe get a few hours sleep before having to go back.  Having no union was an obvious drawback because one year I worked both Christmas and New Year’s hoping to earn some overtime and was given none and a scant explanation that I hadn’t worked for the company long enough to get overtime.

Eventually that job dried up, actually I think what I remember is having some 19 year-old kid come and tell me all the things he didn’t like about what I was doing and I simply quit rather than knuckle under.  A short time later I went into the offices of the best company I possibly ever worked for, the old cowboy movie classic, Pinkerton’s.  It was a great company and I had a great boss, a former Infantry Captain who had left the military after removing a major’s teeth the hard way.  He made the job so fun, he would always call up and say, “your assignment, should you choose to accept it…” there was a lot of pride that went with the uniform and I worked some cool assignments, like guarding multi-million dollar highrises and the Edmonton Art Gallery among many others.  I ended up losing that job too after a couple of years and I went in and out of security work when I needed to.  Eventually I really did get a dream job, the one I have now.  I work for IATSE, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and the work is fun, the people are awesome, they pay is great and they treat their employees really well.  That is what I think is really key, a person, especially someone with a mental illness, but really any person, has to enjoy and be comfortable with their work, because it is a huge part of who we see ourselves as and how we feel about ourselves.  I really think that a lot of women I know are heroes because they forgo the joy of working to take on the nearly thankless job of being a mom.  Just today I wrote a note to an old friend of mine telling her how much she would love my job and she agreed, she said it would be a dream but she only has the time to fix up furniture at home which is her present job because of her duties as a mom.  Makes me think back to my mom and how much she gave up to raise my brother and sister and I and then took on correspondence courses and volunteer jobs and even went into debt to return to school to realize the dream she had to give up on of becoming a teacher.  But really, what I want to say is that even if you have a Psychiatric disability it is important to try and work as much as you can.  A lot of jobs may pay very little, but still when you add up the dollars on payday it will make a difference.  At first it may be just a few extra groceries, or even just a few better quality groceries.  Then it will pay off in self-esteem.  Then, you may find you have savings and can plan a little trip somewhere on the Greyhound.  A trip will renew you and re-energize you, make you want to work more and work harder.  Do this for a while and raises and promotions or better jobs could well come your way.  Before you know it you will feel great, have some property to be proud of.  Myself for a while I ran a table at the flea market.  I found that if I kept a decent roll of cash in my pocket wherever I went that opportunities to buy cheap items would present themselves and I could sell these at reasonable but profitable prices.  One thing I would do was go to book sales and garage sales.  I would pick up Stephen King Novels for $1 or 50cents and sell them for $3 and get DVD’s from pawn shops or my own collection and sold a lot.  One year I had some money set aside for boxing day and a store was clearing out video games for $1 and I bought about 100 or more titles and sold them for an average of $5 to $10.  Another time I had some cash and bought four or five VCR’s that I sold at a profit. I eventually got a bit sick of working at the flea market, the lousy food and the worse coffee and found another job as a security guard.  One day I was simply doing my job of watching a door at a movie set and got to be friends with the Assistant Locations person.  He convinced me to come on board with the union to do movie security for twice what I was getting, and before long I was doing the job I have now for even more money.  Of course money isn’t everything, but now that I have my mental health in order, it really is nice to be able to buy a book or a gift or a plane trip.  Last year alone I went to Hawaii twice.  Well, that was actually more than I wanted to write today.  Please tune in tomorrow when I will go over some of the secrets I learned reading some of the great classics of financial literature, the best of which I will recommend in advance, “The Richest Man in Babylon”.  All the best dear readers!

DSC_0031Here’s the same construction site as above, but from another angle.  I just love to chronicle the development of new construction in my photos.