Meet my friend Mayan

Meet my friend Mayan

Following injury, many veterans and first responders are faced with the dilemma of whether they will return to their former occupations.

During my trip to Tanzania, in a remote community on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater, I met Mayan, a local goatherd. Even at the age of seven, he understood his destiny.

Shy at first, he quickly warmed up when he saw his 40 goats surrounding me in an attempt to snag my bowl of afternoon popcorn. Grateful for his assistance I rewarded him with half of the bowl, and we happily sat on a large rock, watching the sunset, sharing the crunchy treat.

I can’t help but wonder at the vast difference between our two worlds. The choices we have in comparison to the predestined fate of the Maasai people.

I’m grateful for our choices, but appreciative of the simple and happy life they lead.

Warm thoughts,

Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Executive Director, Landing Strong

A day at the market like no other

A day at the market like no other

This week I had the opportunity to meet some Maasai women living by the plains of the Serengeti who were selling their beaded handiwork.

After the expected amount of haggling, I struck a deal with one of them and purchased a few bracelets. Pleased with the exchange, she spit in her hand and held it out for me to shake.

Naturally I accepted her offer and shook back, knowing it was a mutual sign of agreement and respect.

Knowing the local customs sometimes takes a leap of faith. Like those who are transitioning out of military careers, understanding the norms and nuances of civilian life can come as somewhat of a culture shock.

Allowing yourself patience and grace is an important part of the journey.

Warm thoughts,

Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Executive Director, Landing Strong

Express yourself

Express yourself

This week my husband Joe and I set off on an adventure to Tanzania in a leadership expedition with 21 high school students.

We will be doing community service, going on safari, and hopefully summiting Kilimanjaro.

One of the things I most value about travel is having an opportunity to gain perspective, and viewing our lives through a different lens.

In the Ethiopian airport, I met a woman en route to Kenya, who made me smile. Her diamond-studded glasses caught my eye, even across a crowded airport. No matter what uniform or customary dress we wear, our personalities can’t help but shine through.

I wonder how your personality shines. What small forms of expression do you have to allow people to see the true you?

 

Warm thoughts,

Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Executive Director, Landing Strong

It takes a community

It takes a community

Photo left to right standing: Ben Wallace, Pam Turcotte, Tara Burley, Deb Eaton, Adrienne Oldham,
Sara Gray, Mackenzie Seagram, Chair of the Board – Shawn Hiscott
Photo left to right on floor: Dr. Petra Woehrle, Mark Larkin, Julian Young, Dr. Belinda Seagram, Dan Mowatt-Rose

Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a community to move mountains.

We see it within our group programs, as Landing Strong members come together to support one another through good days and bad.

We also witness it through the actions of our Board of Directors, who work tirelessly to ensure Landing Strong is the best it can be. We remain committed to providing programs to anyone in need regardless of their funding status; the commitment of our Board allows us to acheive this.

Why would someone volunteer to be on a Board of Directors? The answer is simple; on some level, we all hold on to the same thing…Hope.

Hope is about not giving up, even when you feel beaten down.

It’s about extending a hand to someone who needs it.

Hope is about advocating for change and ensuring no one is left behind.

On a snowy Saturday afternoon, we recently gathered with our Board of Directors to envision our future; dreaming up strategies to ensure Landing Strong and the community we serve continues to thrive.

Many members of our Board have lived experience. We are grateful for their passion, insights, and dedication.

Together we remain strong.

Warm thoughts,

Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Executive Director, Landing Strong

Warm thoughts,

Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Executive Director, Landing Strong

We have your back

We have your back

This week, the residents of Kansas City struggled to come to terms with the horrific outcome of what was supposed to be a joyous event. One person was killed and more than 20 wounded following a shooting during the Super Bowl parade. This was the 48th mass shooting in the United States since the beginning of the year. That’s more than one a day. What used to be an outlier event has now become alarmingly normal.

While we might get used to hearing about such events on the news, it is never normal for those who are called to respond. Our hearts naturally go to the victims and their families. What is often overlooked is the devastating impact it has on the first responder community. We rush to treat those who are physically wounded, not always recognizing the psychological devastation left behind by these incidents. Often, they are hidden or take time to surface.

Seeing this event, I am reminded of how many Nova Scotians may be living with invisible injuries. We remain committed to ensuring that we have your back; that no-one who is injured is left standing alone.

We are immensely grateful for the work our first responders do.

Warm thoughts,

Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Executive Director, Landing Strong

Finding beauty in unexpected places

Finding beauty in unexpected places

Late this past Saturday afternoon, as Nova Scotians were swept in a swirl of snow, Torontonians were bathed in unexpected sunshine.

Moderate temperatures and clear blue skies had coaxed even the most hesitant outdoors.

I was leaving the hospital after a good visit with my father and came upon an unexpected sight; on the slope of a large hill sat dozens of families and couples enjoying picnics. Behind them stood a large crowd of onlookers all gazing across the park below. I wondered if a concert was about to begin and thought maybe it had already started since many people had their cameras out, all pointed in the same direction. I could hear nothing, nor see anyone performing in the natural amphitheater below.

Then I realized what everyone was gazing at: a glorious sunset spreading its last rays over the skyline of the city. Like animals waking from deep hibernation, people had stumbled outdoors, dazed by the beauty of the mid-winter sun.

Even in the greyest of winters, we can find windows of warmth and light.

I hope that now you have dug yourselves out from under, you too are able to pause and catch glimpses of the unexpected beauty that surrounds us.

Warm thoughts in a wintery week,

Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Executive Director, Landing Strong

The art of being present

The art of being present

It is February 2nd – Groundhog Day.

Legend has it that if the groundhog emerges from its den and sees its shadow, it will retreat, and winter will slog on for another six weeks. If it doesn’t see its shadow, spring will arrive early. Judging by the amount of snow we’ve had this week winter is far from over.

In the early darkness of winter evenings, I sometimes catch myself wishing the days away, yearning for the warmth and light that come with spring. Dark winter nights can have a distinct Groundhog Day feel to them.

As much as I’m excited for the sunshine ahead, I’m determined to appreciate the season that I’m in. This past Monday brought with it a slate of school closings, a massive dump of snow and sporadic white out conditions. After considerable debate about whether we should go out for our lunchtime stroll, Mackenzie and I forged out to enjoy a surprisingly pleasant walk through the winter storm. From the inside it looked foreboding, but once outside we were able to appreciate the beauty of fresh snow, enjoying the squeals of laughter rising from children playing gleefully in a snowbank as we passed.

I feel the bite of winter air as I step out each morning and am reminded of the gift it is to wake up and commute to work on foot.

Don’t get me wrong – I’ll take blue skies over grey and a surplus of sunshine over shovelling snow any day of the week. But I’ll continue to practice presence and find gratitude on even the coldest of days.

Regardless of whether the groundhog sees its shadow or not, I hope you will join me in practicing the art of being present, and find some little ways to be grateful for the season that we are in.

I don’t believe that chunky rodent is clairvoyant anyway.

Even in the greyest of winters, we can find windows of warmth and light.

I hope that now you have dug yourselves out from under, you too are able to pause and catch glimpses of the unexpected beauty that surrounds us.

Warmly,

Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Executive Director, Landing Strong

Magic Lamp

Magic Lamp

 

A few years ago I purchased a magic lamp for our Christmas table.

I loved it so much that I began bringing it out at the beginning of the month and illuminating the kitchen each night as we gathered for a meal.

It also proves to be handy for power outages, bringing a sense of wonder to what otherwise could be a cold evening.

My colleague Deb Eaton was so moved by it’s magical glow, swirling snow and vibrant red cardinals that she too had to have one. She shares that on cold days it makes her feel warm inside, bringing back memories of yesteryear. Deb bought a second one for her mother, as I did last year for my father.

I should really think about buying shares in the company given that such a simple item can bring such immense joy.

It’s a true gift to find joy in small packages and unexpected places. Do you have any items that do the same for you?

Warm thoughts,

Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Executive Director, Landing Strong

Purging spaces and making room for what matters most

Purging spaces and making room for what matters most

It’s January, a perfect time for new beginnings.

In a world brimming with constant activity and incessant stimuli, our living spaces often mirror the chaos we might experience in daily life. Clutter accumulates, objects pile up, and our surroundings can become overwhelming.

The act of purging goes beyond mere decluttering; it’s a transformative process that transcends the physical realm. It involves sifting through belongings, evaluating their significance, and intentionally parting ways with items that no longer serve a purpose or bring genuine joy.

Like the Tasmanian Devil, I am whirling around our home donating or chucking out items that no longer serve us. My goal is to rid our home of one bag per day. Joe is not quite sure what is going on. To be fair, I may not have given him the heads up, but by osmosis he can’t help but jump on the decluttering train.

Instead of winter darkness, I’m fuelled by internal light. One small piece at a time, one day at a time, I vow to emerge from my clutter, making room for what matters most.

Warm thoughts,

Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Executive Director, Landing Strong

Gifts from the Universe

Gifts from the Universe

This month has been a bit challenging for me. My father’s health is declining, and as a result, I’ve made a few extra trips to Toronto in recent weeks.

On the last flight to Toronto, I wasn’t feeling particularly chatty. I sat beside a polished young woman. She was well-coiffed, armed in high heels, a white designer bag and immaculate make-up.

She didn’t make much eye contact, so I took it as my cue that we wouldn’t chat. I developed an internal story about who she might be based on her appearance. As we got up to leave, she stood and with her perfectly manicured hands passed me my bag from the overhead compartment, even though she did not have one of her own.

This thoughtful gesture prompted me to revise my initial appraisal of her. We chatted as we stood in line for our bags, and I learned that she holds a doctoral degree in genetic engineering and is dedicating her life working to develop drugs to cure hereditary illnesses. She was passionate, thoughtful, and inspired. My superficial impression proved to be very wrong.

This brief interaction encouraged me to be more open to the idea of getting to know people before judging them.

On the flight home, I felt exhausted, after five days in the hospital at my father’s bedside. An elderly woman, was sitting beside me, scribbling furiously into a journal. Her notes were organized and meticulous. Remembering my earlier vow, I threw her a line, asking if she was a writer. It turns out she holds a master’s degree in divinity and has spent the latter part of her life on a spiritual quest.

The next three hours proved to be a fulsome conversation around topics of Buddhism, consciousness, spirituality, quantum physics and mysticism. She writes under the penname Augusta. The conversation was good enough that I ordered two of her books. I left the plane feeling grounded, calm and appreciative.

I am grateful to the universe for sending both women my way. I wonder how often people of potential importance in our lives are sent to us, but we miss the opportunity to benefit from them because we are closed off or not looking.

I am renewed in my commitment to being open and receptive to what the universe has to offer. I hope you will do the same.

Warm thoughts,

Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Executive Director, Landing Strong