Life is a struggle vs life is a climb

Life is a struggle vs life is a climb

Glancing through Facebook, it’s easy to believe that for most people, life is a series of joyful moments.  Even knowing that social media is a highlight reel of people’s lives, it’s easy to start believing that others are always happy.  
 
In reality, I think of life as more of a climb.  Some days a struggle, but most often a climb. 
 
I’ve had the opportunity to climb Mount Kilimanjaro twice.  The night before the summit push is long, cold, dark, and tortuous.  There are many times I asked myself why I was doing it.  Reaching Uhuru peak at the break of dawn, it all made sense.  When we’re in the struggle, it’s often hard to see the point.  Glancing back in the darkness, the distant glow of headlamps of the other groups weaving their way up the mountain reminded me of how far we’d come, even though we weren’t yet at the top. 
 
We judged our movement by the needs of the group, taking breaks if people were struggling, telling stories, and singing songs when spirits needed to be lifted.  We knew we were going to do this as a team, and that we would leave no one behind.  
 
By husband Joe has led over 7 school groups up Kilimanjaro.  Of the people who attempt to summit Kilimanjaro, about 50% are successful.  With these school groups, after months of training, group work, and team building, the success rate is almost 100%.  What I have learned from this, is that we work best in teams.  The second time I summitted felt harder than the first.  Although the photos look the same, they represent two completely different experiences.  Both of which were preceded by many months of training. 
 
Perhaps life is like this, a climb, punctuated by triumphs and joyful moments.  If I’m not having fun today, that’s okay, as long as I’m content with the longer term journey.  Wherever you are on your journey, we invite you to reach out and join us as we move forward, together.  

Warm wishes,

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

Have you met Max?

Have you met Max?

He’s Doug’s dog.  Max may greet you cheerfully when you walk in the door at Landing Strong.  Wagging his fluffy white tail while showing off his fabulous winter sweater.  

Max comes in to work because he hasn’t had an easy time lately.  His lifelong companion Murphy passed away and the adjustment has been hard on him.  Always together, Max suddenly found himself without his best friend.  When I first met Max he was sad and somewhat withdrawn.  Overtime, he’s growing in confidence and is coming out of his bed more often.  The more he interacts, the better he does.

Grief is like that.  Isolating and all encompassing.  It makes it hard to get up and go out…particularly if all we want to do is lie in bed.  The thing is, grief is not meant to be experienced alone.  There’s power and strength in expressing the roar of pain associated with loss.  Pain is meant to be seen and heard…that’s why we cry out.  It’s an invitation for connection…for recovery never happens in isolation.

Extending our thoughts and hearts to each and every one of you who are experiencing the pain of loss.  Know that you are not alone.

Warm wishes,

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

Savouring what matters

Savouring what matters

The Holidays can be a difficult time for many, with increased expectations around social engagements, drinking, crowds and overindulgences.  What if we simply focus on what the holiday spirit truly means.  No matter what our spiritual beliefs may be, it’s a time when people come together to celebrate, offer support to one another, and reflect on the passing year.  

It’s undeniably a time of year where shopping, preparing elaborate meals, and commercialism seemingly take over.  It’s also true that almost half of all charitable donations made by Canadians happen in the last two months of the year.  This suggests that despite the stress associated with the season, it’s a time when people are thinking of those who face more challenging circumstances.  

In the midst of one of the busiest times of the year, we are able to set aside our differences and recognize our shared humanity.  When people are spending the most and perhaps are feeling the stress of their financial state, they recognize that this discomfort isn’t temporary for many.  When they are surrounded by those they love, thoughts turn to those who may not be as fortunate.  

We hope you’re able to take some time over the holidays to reflect on all the small things that are meaningful to you in your life.  We are grateful for our connection with you, our sense of shared purpose as we support those who are injured, and our appreciation for those who continue to put themselves in harm’s way so we may be safe.

Warmest wishes for a safe and happy holiday season,

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

Keeping ourselves hidden

Keeping ourselves hidden

During a recent training trip in Quebec, I took advantage of a warm afternoon by taking a stroll down a remote country road.  At the end of the road, the sound of a trickling waterfall caught my attention. Drawn towards it, I spied a small blue door supported by weathered stone pillars.  On the door was a sign declaring “Propriete Privee,” or private property.  Surrounding the small waterfall were five lines of barbed wire, ensuring that no one enter the property.  
 
What a shame, I thought to myself, that such a special spot be barred from view by others.  The owners may have had good reason to guard their property – perhaps trespassers had abused the privilege of visiting.  I realized though, that those past incidents served to form the rationale for a permanent barrier.  The gate served not only to keep people out, it also prevented people from coming in.
 
It isn’t uncommon that we build barriers to keep ourselves safe following trauma.  Whether it’s imaginary walls or barbed wire, the thought of letting others in can be threatening.  I have no doubt that when we build the walls we do so because they are needed.  How do we know, though, when it’s safe to take them down?
 
Joining a treatment group offers a safe way to connect with others.  You’ll never be asked to share anything you aren’t ready to share, and we offer a structured and supportive way of exploring topics that we hope you’ll find useful on your journey to health. We still have a few seats left in the “Stop Faking Good & Start Feeling Good” group, please call to sign up soon to avoid disappointment.  Our upcoming Community Connection days allow a more informal way of connecting and having fun.  Running over three Fridays in October, the first one on October 4th is for Veterans and First Responders who have taken programs at Landing Strong.  The second (being held on October 11th) is opened to those who have taken group programs with us and to their partners, spouses and others who have been important supports.  On October 18th, we welcome anyone who has taken a Landing Strong Program as well as any Veteran, Military Member or First Responder who might be thinking of taking a program, but aren’t sure and want a chance to test the waters.  We are offering these Community Connection Days free of charge, just give us a phone call to let us know you’re coming.
 
Warm regards, 

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

Even before it officially arrived, Dorian was here

Even before it officially arrived, Dorian was here

Even before it officially arrived, we felt the effects of Hurricane Dorian.  Bayer’s Lake shopping Centre was jammed full of cars, with people honking at each other in a manner that was distinctly un-Nova Scotian.  Long lines formed at grocery stores and gas stations, and shoppers scurried about frenetically.  A province where people usually hold the doors open for one another, on Friday they rushed through, allowing doors to slam shut behind them.  A woman I recently met described the rising anxiety she felt at the thought of being without power.  During Hurricane Juan in 2003, she went 14 days in the dark.  There were many indications that this was a province that has previously suffered the devastating effects of a hurricane.  

 Although kids were thrilled at the cancellation of school, many of us struggled with the clean-up and aftereffects of Dorian.  Communities bonded with one another, checking to see if everyone was okay.  Even while I send this note out, many of you in rural areas are still waiting for power.  Personally, I received a few free skylights in my roof and the removal of my porch, no charge, courtesy of Dorian.  Although we are grateful that we suffered nothing close to the devastation of our friends in Bahamas, many people worked very long hours this week in order to help restore order and comfort to our lives.  A special thanks to those police, firefighters, first responders, volunteer tree removers and Hydro workers who put in very long days on our behalf.  I spoke with Rod, from Hydro Nova Scotia.  He showed up at our house at 6:30 Sunday am to cap off loose wires and then again on Wednesday night at 10:00 pm to help restore power.  His team had been working 6:00 am until 10:00 pm all week.  

The effects of trauma are multi layered.  Experiences from the past colour the lens through which we view our present.  This recent event reminded me of that.  So if you notice people being a bit less happy, comfortable, or patient than usual, let’s cut them some slack.  They may have lost their crops, still be in the dark, be figuring out how to repair their cars or homes, or possibly, be struggling to regroup after being reminded of the aftereffects of Hurricane Juan.  

Warm regards, 

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

Savouring the last taste of summer

Savouring the last taste of summer

Last weekend, I took some time to sit on our cottage deck, soaking in the last few rays of summer. There’s always something a bit sad about Labour Day weekend.  Like all good things, summer must come to an end.  Joe and I enjoyed some bruschetta, made with tomatoes purchased at the local farmer’s market and basil harvested from our garden. We took the time to savour the rich flavour of the food in front of us, enjoying the stillness of the lake and the calmness of the moment.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the busyness of daily life, forgetting to slow down and savour the colours, smells and textures around us.  Autumn is a particularly good time for this.  I invite you to take photos of the natural beauty around you.  Capture a shot of something that settles you: something that bring you peace. Take a moment to write a line about what makes it special and send it to Mackenzie at mseagram@landingstrong.com.  

Let us know if you’d like to remain anonymous or if we can acknowledge your first name and we’ll share your inspirations on our social media channels. 

Many hearts beating together make us stronger.

Warm regards, 

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