goals

How To Succeed in Life When You Have Bipolar

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Well, today’s title suggests a tall order.  In fact, I really don’t know how to succeed in life despite my Bipolar because I haven’t sat down and written out what I think I need to do to succeed in life.  Maybe that could be a good topic to consider-goals.  I really like to quote a study that was once undertaken where a graduating group was asked if they had clear, concise, written goals for themselves and when the same people were checked years later, the three percent or so that had written goals had made more money than the entire rest of the graduating class.  What this tells me is that writing has power.

When I was younger, one of my goals was to write books and I had written down these goals.  I had other goals I didn’t write down like learn 3 or four languages, get my pilot’s license and become a military officer.  None of these came true, but my goal of writing-that really went a long way.  One of the reasons I think this is was because I worked at it a tiny bit each day for a very long time.  I regret to say that for a period of time I did nothing but chat in various chat rooms and pursue relationships with people I would never meet, but I kept returning to my writing goal knowing that if I failed at it I would be losing something very important in my life and it came true.  One of the reasons for that could be the power of keeping  a journal.  One day soon I want to head down to the basement and read some of the journals I wrote when I was just starting out as a writer and see how my thinking has progressed.  I do know that now as it has been a long time since I drank alcohol, a long time since I gambled, and a very long time since I was without proper medications that my thoughts have cleared up a great deal.  Years ago I had some thoughts in my head that I had a very hard time letting go of, everything from resentments to imagined relationships with females, and I think for these reasons they have gotten a lot better.  I also would like to thank the power of meditation for clearing up my thinking.  I haven’t done it in a while, but meditation is a powerful tool for freeing the mind from negative thinking.  You can actually train yourself to push away negative thoughts and embrace positive ones through meditation.

One of my favorite forms of meditation is simply snorkeling at the swimming pool.  I start out my workout by sitting in the hot tub to get my joints moving and then strap on flippers and mask and snorkel and propel myself through the water, enjoying the silence and freedom from the outside world.  It is so relaxing and renewing.

Another huge part of being a success, aside from sitting down and getting a clear idea of what you want to accomplish to succeed, is to become a part of a community.  I have lived in the neighborhood I now live in for 14 years and it is simply wonderful.  It took some time, but now when I walk down the street I know my neighbors and am always glad to stop to talk with them.  It started out with me volunteering at the local community newspaper, something that looks great on a resume and it grew so that now I have many friends living near me and many opportunities as a result of knowing these people.  The editor of the paper, Paula, edits my short stories and other writing for free and gave me a great deal on this website.  My neighbor Gary down the street is an accomplished writer himself and is a great guy to go to poetry readings and other events with.  There is also a community in the people that live in the group home I’m in which is perhaps the most important one in my life right now.  There are around 20 people who I can call at any time, who I can talk to each day, borrow from or lend to.  There is also staff, but there is something very important about having other people around who have mental illnesses because I need to feel comfortable as a person with a mental illness and when people around you are going through the same thing, you can feel so much more free to be yourself.

I often wonder about some of the people from the US who read this, especially the ones that suffer from Bipolar Disorder or other mental illnesses, not to mention some of the people from far off countries.  I had a person read my blog from a place called Qutar the other day and I wonder about what it must be like to live in a more judgemental type of atmosphere and have a child who suffers or be someone who suffers.  As usual, I am always more than ready to talk to anyone who wants help in understanding what they may be going through, viking3082000@yahoo.com

So when you boil it all down, what does it take?  First, you need a plan, you need to brainstorm what success is to you.  It can be owning a motorbike or a car, it can be having a job or having a better job.  Details count.  Then you need to find people who will be your friend and support you in your quest to accomplish these things.  Many people out there don’t want to see you succeed but quite often if you talk with them and perhaps even impart some of these principles to them they will not only support you, they will learn how to succeed themselves.  Then, once you have got your list, you need to make realistic and achievable steps to get to these goals.  If you want to know more languages, start with a free course from the library.  If you want to make more more money, read the book I talked about “The Richest Man in Babylon” and take the advice of carefully putting away 10-30% of your income after all of your expenses and learn how to make more money.  If you want to simply have more friends and a better social life, seek out organizations in your community where you can meet people your age.  It can be a political party, it can be a writer’s group, it can be a mental health organization.  If you want to write, commit to filling a page each day with your journal entries and writing about each movie you see, each book you read.  I am a firm believer in the library, I think a lot of things can be found there like book clubs, books on making more money in your chosen profession, books you can read to help you write better.  A lot of larger libraries will also have a writer in residence you can talk to about your writing goals totally free.  So you have to know when you will consider yourself a success, you need to take small steps, take advantage of resources out there, and make friends that will support your efforts.  I have taken these steps and life has gotten incredibly good for me over time.  Bipolar?  Take your medications, see your Doctor, work on your life issues with counselors and psychologists and in group therapy and then just baby step yourself back up.  If you are interested in seeing the choices I made and the things I went through, order a copy of “Through The Withering Storm” or “Inching Back to Sane” from the ‘books’ section of this website and let me know how things go.  All the best to all my readers!

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Inching Back To Sane (the article not the book)

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Well dear readers, I have to apologize for not posting anything for the past few days.  I had a real surprise when I opened my stats page today, I actually broke my record of 42 views in one day and it now stands at 48.  The reason I didn’t post anything is I was simply feeling a bit burned out from writing a great deal.  I have been going to workshops and book signings, I even went to a book launch today and did some great photography for it, but I won’t bore you all with that here.  I have also been working diligently on a Young Adult Historical Fiction Novel which seems to be coming along nicely.  On Wednesday I took advantage of my local library’s writer in residence program and had a very nice young woman work with me on the first 10 pages of my YA book.  When I first had it looked at by my dear friend and mentor Richard Van Camp, he said that it seemed rushed.  It was in fact rushed, I sat down and wrote the whole 23,000 word mess in just two days.  After Richard suggested taking more time, adding more detail and a few other things I went over it and added another 8,000 words.  In the past day I have been editing the work line by line and have added probably about another 1,500 words to the total.  These seem like grand tasks, but I have to stress that there were times in my life where I accomplished very little in my writing other than improving my typing skills in chat rooms.

What I kind of wanted to discuss today though was the whole concept of ‘Inching Back To Sane’.  This is of course, the title of a book I wrote which you can find right on this website for sale, but it is also kind of a mindset I have about recovery.  Before I explain too much, let me say that I strongly believe that a man (or woman) who has one friend is a rich man.  We all need a friend, whether they be a member of our family, it is of course ideal that they be a life partner, but your friend can be anyone.  Together people can do so much more than they will ever get done alone.  Back in 2001, just after 9/11, which was the same time that I was released from the mental hospital, I was in a very poor state.  Somehow my retired father was able to make time each and every day to drive to my house, pick me up and take me to the park and we would walk.  Walking is a fantastic exercise I think because it is low impact and generally good for the soul.  Even the Buddhists talk about something called ‘walking meditation’ where you get into something of a rhythm and focus your mind and cleanse your thoughts.  So anyhow, my Dad would come and get me and was very understanding and we would walk through the beautiful river valley of Edmonton and after a time I was able to be fit enough to quit smoking, and my mood and general situation improved greatly and then before long my Dad and I were going to different parks and then with the advent of less expensive digital cameras (I never did have luck with film cameras) we started taking pictures of birds.  I became almost obsessed with photography but I still liked doing it with my Dad and went on to do magazine work, newspaper photography and I recently saved up my dough and bought a very nice little Nikon D3200 with a regular and a telephoto lens.  My Dad has filled the wall of his apartment with his bird photos and basically something really special came out of my Dad’s effort to help me recover from the shock of spending 5 months in the mental hospital.

This adage, this concept of taking small steps and maintaining them until great things happens applies to a lot of things in life I think.  Years ago I made the decision that I wanted to be a writer and I started out with short poems, then longer ones, then short stories which I eventually tied all together into a book.  By chance I met an old friend who knew a professional editor who I hired to turn the book into something publishable, then after being unable to find a publisher I learned how to self-publish and have gained a lot of respect from friends, co-workers and family members and even members of the general public as far as my writing goes.  I should mention also I suppose that when I wasn’t writing I was reading as much as I could get my hands on and went to great lengths to increase my collection of poetry books and through a lot of that time each day I would force myself to write a journal entry that filled a page.

All that I have really covered before, but here I just wanted to encourage people to lay down goals for themselves, achievable goals, concrete, written out goals.  A distant goal of mine was to publish a book even before I had written my first short story or half decent poem.  At the time I didn’t even own a pen that I used for anything other than writing down women’s phone numbers in my little black book.  But I set down my goal and then had something to move towards.  Even the horrors of becoming severely mentally ill and facing the treatment I went through didn’t deter me.  Another goal I remember setting for myself years ago was to have a sports car and a motorbike.  Not long ago I had both, thanks to a ruling by the government with regard to deductions made to disability payments plus my awesome job setting up concerts.  So for anyone who reads this, I want to quote the title of the YA Novel I am working on.  The title is “Those Who Dare To Dream” and I suppose I could change it to a catchy phrase like ‘great rewards come to those who dare to dream’ which sounds a little hokey, but it would be great if someone read this and felt inspired enough to write out what they want out of life, where they want to be in ten years and be able to come back and tell me that they did these things.  These goals are different than New Year’s resolutions, of which 99% never seem to get done.  I did set one for myself this year, which was to lose 20 pounds but I think what I’m discussing is something larger.  Something you need to get very specific about.  “I want to have $150,000.00 to put down on a house in ten years” is something like that.  You can set smaller goals along the way, just like when I was discussing “The Richest Man in Babylon” you can say first I want to improve my work performance to get a 15% raise, then I want to put 10% of that in a savings account and reward myself with the other 5% with a vacation to the coast.

For those of you who read this who feel their whole life is a mess and that things will never turn around for them, I want to say that you can set goals to make yourself feel better, for example you could say “I am going to get myself on better medications over the next year until I can feel good enough to work 10 hours a week as a volunteer and make it to church at least twice a month”.  You don’t have to conquer the world, but it would mean so much if you could just improve your own life a little.  I know it has for me and that my life has become the biggest dream come true I never even imagined could have come about.  But, at the risk of sounding manic I will pass on any more commentary.  I would love it if people who read this would send me feedback, I can be reached as always at: viking3082000@yahoo.com

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