Welcoming new perspectives

Welcoming new perspectives

I have a piece of wildlife art on my wall: a majestic stag, staring intensely at me from a forest glade.  When I look at it, my body settles.  In fact, when I’m on a break between sessions, I often sit on my couch and stare at this deer, looking at it as it looks back at me.  A couple moments of mindful reflection in the blur of an otherwise busy day.  

A few weeks ago, I noticed a client standing in front of this piece of art, staring at it thoughtfully.  I immediately assumed it was bringing him the same joy it brought to me.  When I observed him more closely,  I saw a flash of pleasure dance across his face.  I suddenly remembered that he was a hunter.  

“You’re thinking about shooting that deer!”  I proclaimed, somewhat shocked.

“No,” he said to me, grinning slyly.  “I’m thinking of cooking it up over a campfire, and eating a great venison steak.”  

It’s all a matter of perspective. It doesn’t matter what we’re dealing with in life, there are always many ways to look at any situation.  

A snow day this week could be a headache, or cause for celebration.  

Are you aware of the direction your thoughts take you?  Our automatic thoughts are powerful guides in terms of how we interpret the world around us.  They drive our emotions.  It’s generally not a situation that causes an emotion, but rather the way we think about it that drives the feeling.  

If we want to change our feelings, we have to change our thoughts.  We can’t always control our environment, but we can control how we choose to think about it.  

One of the most impactful ways of gaining a new perspective is to work within groups.  We’re able to see ourselves, not just through our own lenses, but also through the lens of others.  A carefully facilitated and safe therapeutic group provides the ideal venue. 

We offer a variety of workshops and programs. Landing Strong members are welcome to join at any time. New programs are being launched on a regular basis (check out the “Programs and Workshops” tab under LandingStrong.com)  We hope you’ll join us. Spoiler alert: Keep an eye out for our emotions management program, coming soon!

Warm thoughts from the Landing Strong Team,

Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Founder, Landing Strong

Getting out of your comfort zone

Getting out of your comfort zone

If you go on a trip, where do you like to go? 

To a beach resort, where cold drinks are brought to you by the side of a pool?  Or backpacking through a mountain pass, discovering tiny flower buds as they push their way through barren soil towards the sun?  

Do you like things packaged, and neat?  Or are you comfortable with uncertainty?  

This April, I plan to escape for a week to somewhere hot where everything is done for me.  Perfect. 

Next Summer, I hope to backpack the rugged coast of Newfoundland with some good friends, hopping from cove to cove searching for hidden gems.  I don’t know what we’ll find, but I know there will be great fun in the searching.  Being connected and together is an important part of the journey.  

I’ll get something different out of each trip.  At the warm resort, I’ll get relaxation and catch up on my reading.  On the adventure trip, I’ll probably be uncomfortable at times but learn more about myself and those around me.  That’s the trip I’ll most remember.  I need both, but if I don’t get out of my comfort zone I’ll stay pretty much the same.  

In any journey, we have the power to decide how much risk we’re ready to take on.  Increasing numbers of you are signing up for our workshops, and becoming involved with the Landing Strong community.  Even after one day, we see change.  

Life’s always smoother when things stay the same.  It’s in our response to disruption that true growth takes place.  

Take a moment to check out the workshops available this month. 


Warm thoughts from the Landing Strong Team,

Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Founder, Landing Strong

We are all affected by trauma.

We are all affected by trauma.

Twenty years ago I did some time in a federal penitentiary. 

It’s not what you might think.  I didn’t break the law.  I was acting in the role of Chief Psychologist for four hundred federal male offenders.  Trying to help them undo the harm they had done to others.

Truth is, there are some wrongs that simply can’t be righted, no matter how hard we try. The dead can’t come back to life, and some emotional injuries run too deep to be healed.  Figuring out how to lessen the emotional impact of such loss is incredibly important, both for the victims and the perpetrators. Otherwise, there is no moving forward.  

During this time I met Pierre Allard, an amazing Chaplain who has been championing the Restorative Justice movement in Canada for decades.  He told me of a reconciliation group he had facilitated, where a group of offenders who had committed murder met with family members of victims of murder.  The goal was for the two groups to sit in a room together, so the men who had committed the crimes could hear how the loss of a loved one had impacted the survivors.  My discussion with Pierre centered not on the actual meeting, but rather, the minutes leading up to it. 

The family members were brought into the room first.  Many were pale and out of shape.  Grief had visibly been affecting a number of them physically.  Their eyes were bloodshot, rimmed by dark circles from decades of sleepless nights. They walked with slumped shoulders and shuffled gaits. Avoiding eye contact with one another, they clutched their coats tightly around themselves, despite the warmth of the room.  They spoke hesitantly, their thoughts jumbled with the powerful unprocessed emotions that they were experiencing. 

Then the offenders came in. They entered with straight backs and sure strides, carrying well-sculpted bodies, the result of countless hours in the weight room. They sat together with comfort and familiarity.  Articulate and thoughtful, they spoke of their deep regrets and immense shame.  Their clear voices were indications of having spent many years processing their feelings and experiences with professional staff within the facility.  

I remembered this story recently as I witnessed the impact of trauma on the loved ones affected by it.  It is not just the immediate victims who are injured.  Those who love and support them are also powerfully affected.  Secondary traumatization can be profound.  In many ways, these people too have experienced a profound loss.  They may not have been in the direct line of fire, but for many, the person who came home injured from work may not be recognizable.  Years, and even decades, are spent trying to restore connection.  Countless efforts are made to end the isolation that can accompany the injury of a loved one.  They wait patiently, looking up a lonely road, waiting for their loved ones to return home. Soldiers in their own right, they travel a journey that is seldom discussed.  Used to turning attention to the injured family member, it can be hard to know how to care for themselves.

Let’s not forget anyone on this journey.  Not those who have been injured in the line of work, nor those who support them. Whether it is in the role of a spouse, partner, child or friend, we are all affected by trauma.   

Warm thoughts from the Landing Strong Team,

Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Founder, Landing Strong

What is joy exactly?

What is joy exactly?

This is the question I have been asking myself recently.   

I know it isn’t the many photos I see on Facebook – of smiling people doing exciting things.  I know enough to understand that these pictures don’t always tell the real story.

Maybe it’s channeling my inner Marie Kondo and decluttering my home, keeping only those things that spark warm feelings… 

Perhaps it’s talking to my dogs in my best birthday party voice, watching them dance gleefully on two feet just because I’m home.

Or maybe joy is something quieter…softer.  Like a calm wave that washes over me after having a good cry in the presence of a compassionate friend or partner.  Or being that person for someone else as we face their deepest fears together.

Maybe joy is more about connection.  Not feeling like we are in this world alone.  Perhaps we experience joy when we are seen, heard and understood.  Maybe it’s about being our most vulnerable selves, and still feeling accepted.

Warm thoughts from the Landing Strong Team.

Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Founder, Landing Strong

Please join us in the first of our health promotion series as we welcome International Award Winning author Donna Morrissey on Feb 10 from 10 am – 3:30 pm.  Enjoy a fun day of expression and creativity as you find or refine your writers voice.  Watch our social media for details or email Donna directly at donnamorrissey@ns.sympatico.ca  Workshop fee: $125

Do I make a difference?

Do I make a difference?

It’s a common question we ask ourselves, particularly during periods of change or transition.  After years of service, taking off the uniform can mean a stripping of identity.  “Who am I behind the uniform?” you may wonder.

Growing up, I dreamed of changing the world, somehow making it a kinder, gentler place. The older I grew, the more I understood this was not so simple.  Today, my aspirations are more humble. Every night as I lay my head on my pillow, instead of judging whether I changed the world, I simply ask myself the following:

“Have I had a heartfelt discussion with someone today and felt a meaningful connection?  Have I been a good person today?”  If the answer is yes, then I sleep well.  If not, then I‘m motivated to do something about it. It’s my belief that a series of meaningful connections leads to a mountain of change, and a whole lot of purpose.

So when you look in the mirror and wonder if you’re making a difference, I challenge you to ask yourself the simple questions.  It’s my sense that the meaning and purpose will follow.

Warm wishes from the entire Landing Strong Team,

Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Founder, Landing Strong

I’m so excited…

I’m so excited…

My New Year’s resolution is being realized.  

I committed to ensuring my work is filled with creativity and joy.  Today marks a special part of that with the launch of our first veteran/first responder day treatment program.  The program is full, and Mackenzie has been madly cooking chilli and baking wonderful treats to ensure that everyone feels welcomed and well cared for.  We’ve run two caregiver workshops now, and are thrilledby the response.   It’s such an incredible feeling knowing that a group of people who come together as strangers can so quickly form meaningful connections as they discover the strength of shared experience.

As Doug and I led the Caregiver workshops, we were struck by what an incredibly powerful and resilient group of people they were.  In addition to their caregiver roles, all lead very rich and full lives in their home communities. They wear regular clothing, but in our eyes, looked very much like superheroes.

By the time you read this, the important work we set out to do today will have begun.  I salute the courage it takes to come forward and register for a program.  I commit to do everything in my power to ensure the experience is both positive and welcoming.  It is such an honour to be able to walk on this journey with such a special community.

Wishing you all the best for a warm weekend.

Regards from the entire Landing Strong Team,

Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Founder, Landing Strong

Finding fun in unexpected places

Finding fun in unexpected places

Just before Christmas, I had the chance to accompany a competitive girls basketball team to a tournament in Arizona. In addition to watching some great basketball, my husband Joe and I had the opportunity for a hike up Camelback Ridge, a famous trail in Echo Canyon Park. As we passed the trailhead at 4pm, a park ranger warned us to be back down by 5:25pm.  Confident and energetic, we forged ahead, making the steep climb to the peak by 5pm. At the summit, we stood proudly among a gathering of happy people enjoying the spectacular view. A friendly and hard-core looking hiker warned us that the 5:25pm deadline was real, and the park gave out tickets to anyone who is late getting off the mountain. We laughed and took a series of great photos to the warm glow of the setting sun.  

Making our way down, we continued to take great photos. We started to be passed by a series of ultra-marathon looking types jogging quickly by. Enough runners passed that I started to think that maybe they knew something we didn’t: either, they were being chased by wild game; or the 5:25pm penalty was real. With a surge of energy, we started to sprint down. My husband laughed at me, as he’s never seen me scamper down a mountain slope with such glee. It had become a game – Belinda versus park ranger. With sixty seconds to spare, we made it across the finish line. I looked around to give the ticketing officer a high-five, but none was to be found. Enquiries with other hikers revealed that ticketing is a practice, but seldom enforced. However, the large number of foolish hikers stranding themselves up on the mountain after dusk with only their cell phones to guide them was real. The emergency response team is frequently called to help pull people out after they injure themselves after dark.

All in all, what could have been a stressful situation ended up being the highlight of my trip. Sometimes when we’re stressed situation, it’s hard to see the silver lining.  Only afterwards are we able to reflect on the strength, courage or skill it took to get ourselves out of it.  

Although I know the journey that each of you is on might be difficult, we hope that you are able to take time to catch the sunset or beauty that exists within it.

Warm regards from the entire Landing Strong Team,

Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Founder, Landing Strong


Old traditions, new routines

Old traditions, new routines

I have a confession to make. I love Christmas, it’s the simple things that make it special really…like the smell of my mother’s traditional shortbread recipe filling the house as we play good tunes and decorate cookies together. Although my mother is gone, the smell reminds me of her love. Or watching cheesy Christmas movies together and participating in family fitness bootcamps. It’s a time when we all take time away from our busy lives to connect. My kids will come home, we’ll cook some good food together, and maybe have a kitchen dance party or two. In this busy life, and despite the many events of the season, for me, it’s a time of reflection and appreciation.

Have you noticed how easy it is to fall into routines in our daily lives that place the needs of others ahead of our own? We form patterns that might not be sustainable, often leaving us discouraged and exhausted. I’m reminded of the importance of taking time to “refill the well” before the supply runs dry. It’s an aspect of our wellbeing that’s often neglected.

If we don’t make a conscious effort to destress at the end of each day, the cumulative effect of what we carry in our lives can become increasingly difficult to hold. That’s why doing something we enjoy each day is so important. We are offering two programs in January, both designed to build resilience and help us stay strong.

For First Responders and Veterans living with PTSD, anxiety or depression, we have the “New Year, New You” workshop on January 11th.

For Caregivers, friends and family of these First Responders and Veterans, we are offering Part 1 of our “Care for the Caregiver” series on January 7th for those who weren’t able to attend the first series.

We hope that you will join us.

Wishing you and your loved ones a wonderful holiday season.

Warm regards from the entire Landing Strong Team,
Belinda

Holiday Hacks

Holiday Hacks

As we gear up for the holidays, it’s easy to get caught up with the demands of the season.  For many, the extra load can feel somewhat overwhelming.  With this in mind, we have created something special for you: 8 Holiday hacks to keep your recovery on track.  In this special booklet, we offer tips and strategies for staying sane in a time of increased demand. We’ll also be sending mini versions of these strategies to you through social media channels over the next few weeks.

Want to start the New Year off right? We have some exciting new programs launching in January that we invite you to join.  It’s important to call soon so that we can arrange insurance coverage for you to attend.

 Care for the Caregiver Part 1: Supporting and Thriving

Learn Strategies to be a stronger, more resilient support for someone you care about who has PTSD or other Operational Stress Injuries

An encore presentation for those who could not get into the first round.

Monday January 7, 2019 10-3 pm

Care for the Caregiver Series Part 2: Effective communication skills

Learn strategies to reconnect in a meaningful way

Friday January 18, 2019 10-3 pm

New Year New You Part 1

This year, set yourself up for success. Regroup, recalibrate and reclaim your life.  

A program for military members, veterans and first responders.

Friday January 11, 2019 10-3 pm

  • Build confidence
  • Reconnect with yourself
  • Discover your true potential  

Group sizes are limited, book now to avoid disappointment.  Call (902) 472-2972 for more information or email us at info@landingstrong.com.

Warm regards,

Belinda

Braving the cold together

Braving the cold together

It was a cold and windy day as ten brave souls made their way to the first in the series of caregiver workshops.  No doubt anxious about coming to a new place a meeting new people, the group quickly formed bonds that transcended differences that existed between them.  

What struck me the most was the strength and resiliency exhibited by each individual.  We never know what life’s going to throw our way, but ultimately it’s our ability to get back up after we’re knocked down that defines us.  I had the honour of witnessing courage, strength, unconditional support, and compassion among the members of the group.  This workshop is just the first of many.  Keep an eye on your inbox and our social media pages to see what exciting things are in store. 

As promised, we have sent our Caregiver PDF to your inbox.  Next week, we will be forwarding you additional resources to help you get through the holidays in a safe and healthy manner.  

Due to the overwhelming response for Care for the Caregiver Workshop: Supporting & Thriving, we are offering it again on January 7th for those who didn’t make it in the first time around. Contact us to register today.  

A special program New Year, New You designed for Military Members, Veterans and First Responders, will be offered on January 11th. Set yourself up for success in 2019.  Feel free to call us for more information.