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Original Poem and Stop Smoking Blog

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Please scroll past today’s poem for today’s blog entry about smoking and mental health!

Labor Day 2017

By: Leif Gregersen

 

Children laughing, shouting

Full of the joy of anticipation

For the good times and the bad

Of a fresh new school year

 

Now nothing more can hold back

The days of frost and snow

And those short days of precious little sun

 

Will Halloween come first

Or the biting winds of winter

As we cram in more learning

Into the minds of our little ones

 

When this time of year comes upon me

I think back to endless games of football

Played with no hint of coaches, pads or refs

Those were the truly special times the ones that I cherish

Playing, laughing with no one to impress

 

Later on a game that I called gauntlet

Dashing in front of snowball throwers

Lined up to put me to the test

 

So much time has passed now

Since those simple happy times

Two parents by my side at every turn

 

I wish that for just one moment

I could speak through the years passed

To all my childhood friends

 

I would tell them all the same thing

Make the most of every moment

Cherish all your loves and friends and family

And never act as though they owe you a debt

 

Time will pass you all by so quickly

Love with time will fade

Take in all the happiness

And sunshine you can get

 

Hello, dear readers! Well, much has been going on but I have mostly been stagnating in my apartment. There have been serious wildfires in British Columbia, the Province next door to Alberta where I live and the smoke has been hard on me. Maybe this is a good time to explain why the smoke is so hard on me and relate it to a mental health issue. I used to be a smoker. I smoked for 18 years, age 14 to 32. I can tell you exactly why I started, there were two events, one where my Dad asked me if I would like to try his cigarette and when I went to take a drag, he put his finger in my mouth and everyone laughed at me, and another time when I was at a Cadet dance with some friends and a guy pulled out some cigarettes and when I took a drag it was for real and I coughed my lungs out. I had a hard time dealing with people laughing at me and so I decided I was going to practise smoking so no one ever laughed at me again. This wasn’t that big of a deal for a while, but towards my last couple of years of smoking I had to buy the cheapest of the cheap brands of tobacco and I had a hard time controlling my smoking. This was where I think the real damage occurred to my lungs. I have had two lung tests, and they both say I have the lungs of a 74 year-old man. The reason I bring this up is because people with mental illnesses are one of the biggest consumer groups for tobacco, and no one wants to admit it. Tobacco soothes us, and nicotine actually helps regulate chemicals in our brains that cause things like delusions, hallucinations and such. I can remember being in the hospital having severe problems, and after I had two or three cigarettes I would start to feel a lot better. My lungs didn’t feel better, but my mental health started to right itself which seemed more important at the time. So basically, if you smoke and you have a mental illness, I suggest you try and quit. Some of the methods I have found helpful in keeping my mind of smoking are: nicotine patches, used in combination with nicotine gum (make sure to ask your pharmacist how to use these in combination and correctly) drinking a lot of water, switching from coffee to tea, going for long walks or even runs if you can. There is also a method that I am not really qualified to give advice on, but when I was younger and I tried to quit smoking what I did was every time I thought about cigarettes I would try and think about something that had more power over me. At the time I thought of a young woman I had been infatuated with, and it worked for two weeks with no other forms of help or support.

Anyhow, I hope some of this helps you. Thanks for reading today’s blog and above all, stay healthy!!

 

Blog, Poem and Photograph Today!

Scroll down past the photo for today’s poem, and past that for today’s blog.

 

Midsummer Poem

 

The orange golden light of dawn

Beckons us to fight, to keep on

There will be no more giving up today

As the sun greets us in this special way

 

Poems are fine, poems can be bold

But they can’t replace what you are told

Never give up, never give in

Pausing to rest can be a sin

 

We’re in a battle my mates, a struggle real

No matter how you boys may feel

Give it your all in sport, and more in class

Our chance to win will slip away so fast

 

It isn’t quite as if we can just say

We’ll leave the fighting for another day

We’re locked in a struggle with a death grip

And if we don’t win a one way trip

 

The battle I speak of is the one to be free

And we’re all combatants you must see

But the enemy lies inside of us

With each friendship, each display of trust

 

Giving in to hate means losing it all

And we must get back up each time we fall

Winning means joining our fellow man

Arm in arm, hand in hand

 

Now I can’t say all men are good inside

Or that no one will take you for a ride

I’m just trying to get each person to see

The better way for grown adults to be

 

There are evil people in this world of ours

But at night we all gaze up at the same stars

Look for the things that make us all one

Because that is how our wars will truly be won

 

A Short Blog About How Things Are Coming Along

Hello dear readers! I have found myself out of a job as a blogger, so now I can devote even more time to all of you who read my blog here. It was fun and rewarding working for healthyplace, but in the end I guess it was too hard to come up with original ideas week after week and I was having problems with errors so I got the boot. I’m actually kind of glad because the job was more stress than it was worth.

So I am finding myself in a position that I kind of like, less stress, more time for my real writing and so on. I think I might get to work on another poetry collection now.

My mental health has been good lately, summer has finally come to Edmonton and it is such a beautiful season in this part of the world. Everything is so green and alive and there are a ton of birds out there to take pictures of. I am looking forward to using my new Nikon 1 J5 to take more photos of birds as they are flying. I have even entered some of my stuff to be considered for publication.

So as summer rolls into focus I have a few things on my mind. I don’t know how much I told anyone here about my Oculus Rift, the virtual reality headset I bought. I have been flying  a P51 Mustang on it and have been having a blast. I am learning to navigate from airport to airport and land and then return for a safe landing. It is so incredible when you have that 360 degree view. I am looking forward to more simulators like it. I have to admit though, I don’t know if it is the best thing to immerse ones’ self into a video world like that. I don’t know if I would have done it if I hadn’t read the incredible book “Ready Player One” that my friend Richard suggested.

I am so happy to have such a true and genuine friend like Richard Van Camp. He is an incredible person, done so much in his field and one of the most caring and honest friends I have ever known. He is also pretty fun to be around. I am going to be heading to his work with him today and hanging out at the Fort Saskatchewan library for a while today.

As far as mental health goes, I don’t think I could be in better shape. My only real concern these days is that occasionally I have needed sleep aids such as clonazepam to help me rest. It is not the best way to deal with the problem I fear, but it works. I have tried going for long walks each day but often that just puts me into a manic state which makes it even harder to sleep. I would love it if people could share their own sleep methods in the comments. With that I think I am going to get going, I see a long walk in my near future, like in the next 20 minutes!

 

 

Mental Health Mind Reading

Scroll down for today’s blog if you want to skip today’s photo and poem. the photo below is a black and white I took of a bedsheet after throwing it up in the air

dsc_0238

January One, 2017; 5:15am

  

Outside is still and dark, silence fills the land

On this day hope begins anew with New Year plans

We gathered in the cold to greet this year

With promises to set aside unhappiness, anger and fear

 

As the new day dawns, I promise to all of you

That there is not one thing that I promise to do

Other than put my friends and family always first

Through the lazy easy happy times and through the worst

 

I do know that many challenges will come to us

I just ask that you do your best and always trust

That our good times will greatly overwhelm the bad

And that you must call me any time you’re feeling sad

 

This day is also set aside to recall the past

None of our futures are singularly cast

Each of us together or apart can change our fate

If we just let go of all that bitterness and hate

 

Anger and anxiety consumes us from within

Worse than not receiving forgiveness for our sins

It hurts us as it drives those we love away

It can cause us to end up alone one day

 

Family is so very necessary for us all

Please don’t forget those great words, “divided we fall”

And please care for the elders in your community

One day we’ll be among them, you and me

 

A love still dwells in my heart for everyone

Not just at year’s end but with each setting sun

For all the friends and lovers who shared my hurts and joys

For those who taught me love, gentleness and poise

 

And I could not pass without saying something for

The teachers who opened so many doors

From my little niece who taught me how to care

To the instructors who wisdom followed me everywhere

 

I now vow to all of you to never stop

Looking past the little challenges, striving for the top

And also, I give a special word to those who wear a uniform and fight

I want to thank you all for risking your lives for what we know is right

 

Leif Gregersen

     Well, I haven’t got a lot to say regarding mental health. I have been experiencing anxiety lately and it has been working negatively on my stomach. As a result, I felt nausea last night and took a couple of gravol which helped the bad feeling and helped me sleep and even relax a bit. I got up and wrote a long letter to a friend I have been relying on way too much for our own good. She is this very kind and caring young woman and we have met for lunch a few times and I actually started to think we might go out, but I discovered she had no such intentions. She is so nice though that she has decided to keep me as a friend which I am very glad of. The problem that’s been happening lately is that she has been busy and I have been short of things to do since everything is shut down for the holidays and I live alone (yes, big mistake for someone with a mental illness!) I contacted her a couple of times and my anxiety started making up all these ideas. First I thought I was bothering her, then I wrote back hoping to make her less worried about me, then she sent me a quick text and I thought that she was ‘weirded’ out about me doing that. I keep stumbling over my words and it isn’t helping that my social skills and confidence are diminished from living alone. I still have a good friend in my life who I talk to a lot, but I would hate to lose this other person as a friend. I am kind of wondering if I need to up my dose of anti-anxiety medication despite the possible dependancy and side effects. I hope someone out there can identify with this and maybe take something out of it they can use. I wish there was a support group out there that was free and ongoing for neurotics like me.

In The Wake of Halloween

DSC_0163                            Here’s a Little Friend Who Posed For Me At Hawrelak Park This Summer….

 

Well Dear Readers, I regret that I haven’t been keeping up with my blog entries, there really has been so much stuff going on in my life that I haven’t been up to the task mentally.  I have been doing a lot of presentations for the Schizophrenia Society which is very interesting work and rewarding in many ways.  What I mostly do for them is show a Power Point presentation and give a bit of a lecture on it as I go through.  It talks about a lot of things like famous people who had a mental illness, there is a video where Anderson Cooper from CNN participates in an experiment to replicate what it is like to hear voices.  Then I give a 15-minute speech I prepared about my own experiences.  I am kind of excited about this month because on the 19th of November I will be giving a talk to a lunch of faculty members at the University of Alberta.  So much has been going good for me, sometimes other people are a bit amazed at where I was at compared to what I have been doing.

It may seem a bit funny, but one of the most important things in my life right now is one of my friendships, with a friend who is an incredible author, an amazing storyteller and also a film producer and public speaker.  I first met him at the U of A writer in residence office and he has done so much for me and mentored my writing career and all kinds of stuff like that.  Sometimes it seems a bit funny at my age to value a person so highly, but this guy is really incredible and is one of the few people I have ever been really close to that didn’t seem to want to take advantage of me in some way.  He kind of inspired me to write the poem you will see at the bottom of this blog post, I hope you enjoy it.

A lot of things are on my mind.  The other day I went out to my home town of St.Albert and had dinner at the house of a friend I have known for a very long time.  We talked and talked about the people we grew up with, all the crazy stuff that used to go on and it was so amazing.  It is odd though because I am so used to isolating myself that I kind of decided to duck out early even though there really was no rush to go and I was having a great time.  Ever since I became mentally ill a lot of people except my oldest friends seemed to never invite me to their houses or seem to trust me much, but a lot of that is changing.  I not only went to see this old friend whose son is this amazing, cool little boy but we also hopped in her husband’s truck and went to visit her parents who I have always had so much respect for.  It was neat because the house they live in always used to be a great place to hang out, they had a pool table in the basement and her parents not only cared for her friends a lot and kept up with their lives, but they trusted them to use their house as party central.  I can recall this one incident when I went out with a different group of friends on New Year’s and got so drunk I couldn’t see straight then came back to St.Albert and ran into this young woman’s brother and somehow we ended up going to his house in my car and a bunch of us, girls included, curled up under blankets and watched an ‘R’ rated cartoon called “Fritz The Cat”.  I am so glad I don’t drink like that anymore but I miss those times when freedom and possibilities in life seemed endless.

Well dear readers, I don’t know much of what else to say except that I am working on another short story collection and possibly another poetry collection soon as well.  I am posting today’s poem below, as always anyone who reads this blog is totally free to email me with any questions or comments they may have, my email is still viking3082000@yahoo.com and I would love to hear from you.  Keep reaching for your dreams, keep setting goals for yourself and writing out plans and most of all keep being you.

 

Old Friends

 

Sometimes our lives can get so difficult

Make us wish we could just collapse and shout

Let out all our hopes, anxiety and fears

Lose ourselves in our self-pity and tears

 

In these times we long for friends to be close by our side

To talk; embrace them, to hell with our pride

Loving, dear friends can always do so much

With so few words; with a gentle touch

 

When friends are by your side in times of pain and doubt

It seems there is nothing that you and them can’t figure out

It can hurt when the passing years take things away

When true old friends have nothing left to say

 

Please don’t let your heart grow indifferent and cold

Because this is when one truly grows old

Hold tight those who have shared their lives with you

Hold tight to your close friends be they old or new

 

Some people have let things get in the way

Of those times of joy and bliss, of camaraderie and play

Don’t look down on those who are alone and sad

Think instead of how they must have been treated bad

 

Remember it is a noble thing to go the extra mile

Just to warm a lonely heart and make them smile

And know that if you show your kindness to them in a special way

Someone may do the same for you one dark and lonely day

 

 

Leif Gregersen

November 1, 2015

Friends Near and Far, Present and Past

DSC_0083My favorite place in Edmonton, our award-winning public library!

     Hello Dear Readers!  I want to extend a hand of friendship to all those who take the time to read my blog and encourage you not to be a stranger, email me any time at viking3082000@yahoo.com

Well, today I kind of had something on my mind and I expressed it in a poem which I will post below the second photo for today.  It is a weird thing.  When I was in high school, I had a couple of friends here and there, but never really was in tight with any groups, with perhaps the exception of Air Cadets.  Then, when I quit cadets, as though my membership in that organization dictated who I should associate with, I stopped talking to any Air Cadets completely, with the exception of maybe two guys, one who was my best friend just about all through cadets and thought would be my best friend forever, and another guy who was a good friend for many years but kind of took a different path than me, mostly because he went to a Catholic School and I went to a Protestant one.  It seems so weird now to think of a whole city having the choice of only Catholic or Protestant high schools if you consider how much of the world is Buddhist or Hindu or Native Indian or any of the tons of religions.  In my home town’s defense, they did open up a third high school and most people were free to attend any school they liked.

To get back to the subject of friendship though, I knew this guy in grade nine and his name was Mike.  He was a pretty nerdy guy, overweight, wore glasses but didn’t have much skill in the academic part of school.  He told me once he used to get 95% averages and that it dropped to 65% after he smoked pot twice, that helped me to stop experimenting myself.  In a lot of ways Mike was a good friend, but he liked to egg me on to do things.  He always seemed to get me to wreck something or tick someone off.  Another thing I used to do to impress him for some reason was drive on people’s lawns.  There was this one time a girl was having a party that she didn’t want her parents to know about and I drove my Dad’s van right through the snow in her front yard then yelled at her for not adequately cleaning her driveway causing me to slip.  I was a jerk.

So anyhow, Mike and I did a lot of fun things together.  We had a couple of other friends, one of them is now a University Professor and the other has some successful insulation company in our home town.  It was just that they all drank so bloody much all the time.  Nothing was fun without drinking for them, but there were other reasons I didn’t stay friends with them.  Part of it had to do with me leaving to try and join the military and part of it had to do with people moving on.  The weird thing is that I think about these guys a lot.  When you are 16 or 17 you tend to think your friends will be your friends forever.  I don’t feel so bad about it, it is now more than 25 years since then, but it would be nice to meet up with some of these people.  Sadly with my illness it might not be the healthiest thing.  I am so blessed now to have a great job and lots of people I love working with.  I don’t have a car or any property, but in a way that gives me a special kind of freedom.

I wonder if many of you people, my readers, were around in the 1980’s?  I have a lot of memories of being a little tipsy and driving around blasting songs on our cassette decks like “Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake or “Where The Streets Have No Name” by U2.  I have such vivid memories, paired with emotion-memories, (when I think of these times, I feel what I felt back then, I was in love with this young woman I had no hope with, I was often in a state of depression, but cruising and music always lifted my spirits).

It is weird to think back to how I felt at those times, maybe it was because I wasn’t on medication I should have been taking, maybe it was just because I was young, but everything seemed to have so much more meaning, love seemed stronger, attraction seemed so much more urgent.  I also kind of have this feeling that if I call up some long lost friend I will learn they died ten years ago or something like that.  This is where gossip comes in handy, but it is rarely truthful.  I did run into a guy I was good friends with for a couple of years in junior high and he was very happy to see me and even bought two of my books.  He had read about me in my home town paper and said he had been going around bragging that he knew me.  Now that felt good.

I don’t really know what I’m grabbing at as I write this though.  I want to express how hard it is to lose a friend while there is a big part of me that thinks two contrasting things: 1) those people would be a negative influence on me anyway with my new clean and sober and churchgoing lifestyle, and 2) If I really wanted to get in touch with these people, it wouldn’t be as hard as I am making it out to be.  I could pick up the phone, look up brothers or sisters or such, there are people who could get me in touch with them.  One thing I do a lot is one-up myself over people I once knew.  I think to myself, well, I’m better than them because I have written these books, because I have traveled to these places, but when it really comes down to it people aren’t much different whether they are rich or famous or religious or not.  I should also note that there are two guys out there who are literal people-using, self-serving, destructive socio/psychopaths that I should never talk to again.  I guess there are more than that.  I think that is a good time to leave off though, I would love to hear from anyone what they think or see any comments on the topic of friends, toxic and nurturing.

Anyhow, I am writing this blog today on June 6, 2015 which is the 71 year anniversary of the D-Day invasion.  I hope anyone out there who reads this can pause for a moment and say a silent prayer for those who lost their lives on both sides of that battle.  If it hadn’t taken place and hadn’t gone the way it did my Dad wouldn’t have been around to come to Canada to become my Dad as he grew up in occupied Denmark which was liberated by the British Army.  No political statement, no war stories, I just hope anyone who prays that they think for a short while about what this day in history means.  And if you don’t pray, a good way to think for a moment about the lives lost on that day is to watch “Saving Private Ryan” I’m posting the link below in case anyone wanted to take a look.  Scroll down below today’s second photo for today’s poem.  All the best!

DSC_0122This is a photo of the Edmonton Remand Centre, where people were once kept awaiting trial.  There is talk of turning it into a homeless shelter, and whispered rumours that it was one already when it was operating.

 

What Does It Matter To Who

 

One clear, cool and breezy late summer night

As I basked in the glow of the midnight twilight

I breathed in the fresh and clean Northern air

And realized I had something so beautiful to share

 

I hoped there were words to describe these days

These mid-summer nights with no smog and no haze

Just glorious clouds and the clear sky and sun

And so many ways around the city to celebrate and to have fun

 

These things all happen in my city, my home

Where there is rest and respite for the poor and alone

We can do more for the sick and the homeless I will not deny

All over this world though there are poor people I can’t tell you why

 

I want to help them all and so I try to cast in my lot

I once was the same as they were, I haven’t forgot

How the shame and the hunger eats away at your soul

Most of those people once had lives that fate somehow stole

 

 

Though I feel their pain, I also have memories

When all summer long kids did as they pleased

Adulthood back then seemed eons away

So much time for us back then to run jump and play

 

But seconds added up into weeks months then years

Soon I was grown and there was no more time for tears

I had to work at making a living every single day

I needed a roof and groceries, there was no other way

 

Time marched on and on then came the best years of my life

I learned how to cope with and to manage the troubles and strife

And now I will share what I promised with you

It is my good friends that there is nothing you cannot do

 

You can chip off and flatten the mass of a mountain

You can build a physique that looks like a statue in a fountain

You simply must make big goals your life’s plan

And one day the moon and the stars will be right in your hand

 

Sit down right now and plan what you want to make of your life

Write down all about your perfect car, your perfect husband or wife

What you dream in your head you one day will be able to do

If you keep on and on at it each day it will come true

 

The most perfect plans start with simply a thought

The most perfect dreams are made and not bought

I have a goal for myself that one day soon will come to pass

I will write all my poems in the hot sun sipping iced tea from a glass

 

Far away from this land that I love beside the sea I shall be

With shorts and cool ocean breezes and that feeling that I’m free

And I will return each year when the sun shines and the festivals come

Back to my chosen home, my dear Edmonton

 

And all the while I will hone my craft

Beginning an amazing creation in every draft

I don’t want things for free, I will work hard for success

And I will remember it is only God I have to impress

 

Leif Gregersen

June 6, 2015