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. 

New growth

New growth

On Saturday night, my husband Joe and I had the pleasure of attending the Festival of Trees in Halifax. This black-tie event is a gala fundraiser for the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia.  Each year, a forest of stunning trees is admired and auctioned off.

Joe and I have a tradition of bidding on the tree that is beautiful but isn’t being noticed.  It often sits there quietly, waiting to be claimed, but for some reason is overlooked.  Over the years, we have amassed quite a forest.  With the opening of Landing Strong, I thought it would be nice to take one of our trees to the new centre.  When I brought this up to Joe, I could see evidence of the love in his heart for all of our trees.  Parting with any one of them would not be possible.  The only option was to find another evergreen in need of a home.

We were successful. When I saw the tree, I immediately knew it belonged in our office and would find a home with us.

Along with the tree, we hope that many people might take root in our community.  Like the enchanted forest, we will create something magical.

In the spirit of new growth, we would like to tell you about what’s in store for you over the next few months:

  • Today marks the launch of our program, “Care for the Caregiver”. This is the first in a series of day-long workshops.  Don’t worry if you missed the first one, each is offered as a stand-alone.
  • In the month of December, keep an eye on your inbox for useful tips around managing the holidays in a healthy and low-stress manner.
  • Early in the new year we will be unrolling a menu of programs designed to support you on your journey of health and recovery.Connect with us onsocial media for news on these exciting initiatives.

 

 

 

Ps. Special thanks to Compass Group Canada for including us in this special evening.

Embrace the suck

Embrace the suck

“I just want to be happy,” the woman sitting next to me at the coffee shop exclaims to her friend, “is that too much to ask?”

I’m trying not to listen, but have a hard time tuning her out since she’s speaking so loudly.  As I sip my London Fog, I wonder if she is struggling because she’s asking the wrong question.

Everyone is talking about having a happy life.  I’m not sure such a thing exists.  In true Buddhist tradition, we can’t fully appreciate joy without knowing suffering.  Or love, without loneliness. I believe happiness is a byproduct of spending our time in meaningful ways, not a destination in and of itself.  It’s really about understanding the impact of the many small choices we make each day.  Happiness might come from supporting a friend instead of watching Netflix, or starting that fitness program we’ve been putting off.  It’s about choosing to do the hard thing, instead of settling for what’s easy.  It’s not always clear how important the struggle is when we’re in the midst of it. The joy of an accomplishment is in direct proportion to the challenge it presents.  If it isn’t hard to do, it probably isn’t worth doing.

So instead of asking the question, “why can’t I be happy?”, we should be asking, “how have I challenged myself today?”  Ultimately, it’s through meaning and purpose that we find fulfillment.

 

 

Supporting & Thriving

Supporting & Thriving

When stepping onto an airplane, you can expect to hear a short safety presentation from the crew. Passengers are usually instructed that in the case of an emergency, they should put on their own oxygen masks before assisting someone else.  If we don’t take care of ourselves, we cannot be there for others.  Sometimes, this means prioritizing ourselves even when someone we care about needs us.

This month, our focus has been on caring for those who support others.  In many ways, we are all caregivers.  Weather it’s in a first responder role or caring for loved ones, we can only continue in these roles to the extent that we take the time to properly nourish ourselves.

On November 30th, we are offering a 1-day program on self-care:

  • Learn how to improve your health, relationship, and ability to handle future challenges.
  • Gain clarity on your roles & needs
  • Master tools for success in all aspects of your life
  • Identify your strengths and make them work for you

Let us help you get to where you want to be.

We hope you’ll join us.  Contact us at (902) 472-3272 or info@landingstrong.com to reserve your seat.

A Day of Gratitude and Acknowledgement

A Day of Gratitude and Acknowledgement

     

       A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.

                                                                                                                         -Joseph Campbell

On this Remembrance Day, I give special thanks to those who have made sacrifices in the name of our country and our freedom.  Whether they went to war or were impacted here at home, it’s a time for acknowledging that there are many who suffered injuries on our behalf.  Even after wounds have healed, invisible injuries continue to affect many military members, veterans, first responders and the families who support them. For many of us, Remembrance Day is a daily occurrence.

For each of you, we give thanks for your work and the sacrifices you have made in the line of duty.

Recovery isn’t about forgetting our experiences, forgiving ourselves for past actions, or leaving an old identity behind.  Overcoming trauma is finding a way to live a meaningful life within a supportive community, despite the things that may have happened.  It’s a way of living comfortably, despite discomfort.

Anything that evokes intense emotion can be scary because it makes us feel vulnerable.  Love can be like that, but so can the harder feelings. Remembrance Day brings up a lot of emotion for many people.  You may want to go to a ceremony because a part of you feels that you should. You may worry about who you might run into, about losing composure in public, or not knowing how you fit in.  You may prefer to spend the day at home with loved ones.  This is a highly personal decision, and there are no right or wrong answers.  Whatever you choose to do, we hope that you do not do it alone.  Know that we are there with you.

 

*The painting pictured above, titled Winter Poppies, was created by an incredibly talented veteran and artist Kelly Mitchelmore. She also painted the striking forest scene that hangs in our waiting room. (Please note, this image is subject to copyright)

 

When the unexpected happens in public places

When the unexpected happens in public places

This has been a tough week. Lost lives and hate have been infecting the headlines in the morning papers. I was shaken when I read of the pipe bombs that were mailed to Democrats in the United States. Thankfully, they were intercepted before detonating. How many law enforcement officials risked their lives to move these dangerous packages away from the public? Then came the news of a hate-filled synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, where eleven people lost their lives. Four police officers were injured in the shooting, and many more police and first responders were exposed to the scene as they worked to rescue the civilians inside. Shortly after, I learn that Indonesia’s Lion Air Flight JT-610 crashed into the sea with 189 on board. I struggle to make sense of it all.

I can’t help but think back to the Swissair Flight 111 tragedy, and wonder how those affected by that event are coping with the news of a similar occurrence this week. Even for those who processed the difficult emotions they experienced as a result of Swissair and have been doing well, this recent crash is likely to trigger old memories. Recovering from trauma is possible, but making an effort to maintain our wellbeing and having ongoing support is crucial for long-term success. Overcoming trauma is not a linear process, there will be setbacks. Resilience is being able to recognize what your needs are when faced with stressors, and reaching out before they impact your life.

When I think of the scary things that can take place in public spaces, I try to remind myself of the better things people have done. I see the devastating effects that can result from just one person, but I also see flash mobs that required several people and many hours of singing, dancing and working together to create something special. During hard weeks like this one, I remind myself that those trying to better our community outnumber the disturbed few. I invite you to take a few moments to balance your exposure to the tragedy by reminders of the good that exists.

Below are links to a few videos that remind me of the abundance of light, even on a darkened evening. These videos serve to remind me that, despite the odds, by paying attention to the people immediately around us, anything is possible. Feel free to share examples of events that inspire you (info@landingstrong.com) and we’ll share it with the community.

Irish Dancing Flashmob in Essex by Aer Lingus Regional and London Southend Airport

They play with joy: Flashmob Nürnberg 2014 – Ode an die Freude

They dance with passion:Three Incredible 80s Flash Mobs in Sleepy Seaside Town! 

They arrive in numbers: Waka Waka Biggest flashmob in the Netherlands

And everyone is included, even if they don’t fully know the routine: Flash Mob Mamma Mia Dupont Circle

Even in a place where collaboration and cooperation are unlikely, they join together to be seen and heard. A call to not be forgotten: Prison’s flash mob. Michael Jackson’s song

Embracing discomfort

Embracing discomfort

“Get comfortable being uncomfortable” was the suggestion that my friend and business coach, Eleanor Beaton, gave me this week. She was speaking to me about the importance of pushing ourselves toward new things, even when they are challenging or intimidating.

I discussed this topic in a previous blog, when describing my experience in yoga class. It was reassuring to be reminded that it’s normal to feel uncomfortable. Looking forward, I think I’m in for a long period of it. Instead of embracing the growing pains, I feel like a character in an Alfred Hitchcock film who is trying to get comfortable while lying on a bed of nails. It’ll take time and practice; some things just can’t be rushed.

There are many new and exciting changes going on, each one introducing new fears or worries.  Will we receive funding to start the 3 month program soon? Will the next PTSD Hero Comic be well received? Are the messages we are sending out on social media having a positive impact? Will we get the next grant application in on time?

To get through this time, I tell myself this is not a permanent state. I remind myself of the importance of self-care, making a point of taking a step back when I am feeling overwhelmed.  Most importantly, I rely on good friends and a hot tea to remind me I’m not doing it alone.

We’re taking a huge leap of faith, and creating something innovative and exciting. We feel honoured that you are with us, by being part of our virtual community. With each new addition to our email list, our community has grown by one. Every time you share posts, you help us to spread the word and expand our community. For as you know, it isn’t just a community for those who are injured. It is also for those who are supporting them, or cheering from the sidelines. We are in a marathon of recovery, and even the person who hands out water, or shares the word is part of a wave of social change. There is strength in numbers

Keep telling us what you think. If you have ideas or issues you would like addressed, feel free to send them to us directly at info@landingstrong.com. We love to hear from you!

Let’s talk about worms

Let’s talk about worms

When I see a worm, I think of my son when he was young. He would use them as bait to catch fish at the cottage. These are heartwarming memories.

For my grandmother, they were a symbol of a healthy garden and the joy she felt when her flowers were in full bloom.

For someone else, they might be a symbol of the mystery of the universe, given that they can be cut into two and still function fully.

For others, worms might evoke a fear response if they have previously had negative experiences with them; for example, an older sibling who tormented them by throwing worms in their hair.

A rainy day and the surfacing of worms can provoke widely different reactions. None of us can truly know how any given situation affects another person based on our own experiences.

Similarly, trauma is intensely personal. Bumping into a friend who seems down on a rainy day, I might assume that they are troubled by the weather. What I might not know is that the weather could be triggering a difficult memory from their past.

Even when a number of people experience the same event, each is uniquely affected by it.

The only way to truly understand the meaning of an event for someone is to ask. This month, our educational campaign centers on supporting those who are caring for loved ones who are injured. Strategy five in our caregiver resource touches on the importance of asking rather than assuming.

If you are already on our email list, we’ll be sending to you this resource at the end of the campaign. If you are not on our email list but would like to receive this and other free educational resources, please feel free to join our virtual community.

 

 

 

Finding our tribe

Finding our tribe

It’s not uncommon that we see the best of people in the harshest conditions. It shows up in a number of ways: volunteers laying sandbags to fight floodwaters; communities taking in strangers to offer shelter from a storm; or in more extreme conditions, bi-standers risking their lives to protect or defend people they don’t even know.

It’s those critical moments when people show up when it counts the most. When we think back to those times, it is the moments of courage and compassion that strike us the most.

They say that North America is consumed by the search for happiness. Research studies reveal that it is, in fact, purpose, meaning, and social connection that are most important.

If you are reading this, chances are you are in some form of community service: military, policing, firefighting, corrections, paramedical, or medical. Perhaps your service is supporting those who have taken on these difficult roles. We take on these challenges for different reasons: to create something better for ourselves; to establish purpose or meaning in our lives; or even to be of service to our country. What’s interesting, though, is that ultimately when people are under fire it isn’t their country they are worried about – it’s the person standing next to them. It’s in social connection that we find the greatest meaning.

We all need someone who will have our back, in good times or bad. We all need a tribe, a family, or a group to call our own. Sometimes it takes something awful happening for us to figure this out.

Landing Strong is about creating a tribe: a place where we are all connected by our united sense of meaning and purpose. Our goal is to create opportunity for connection and movement for those who are tired of being where they are at and ready to move forward.