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. 

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

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.

If you build it, they will come

If you build it, they will come

‘If you build it, they will come…’ that’s been my mantra over the last year, as renovations were underway in the new Landing Strong Center. Like a comet hurling through space, I set forth on a mission to see a world class treatment facility in Windsor Nova Scotia: a safe landing for veterans and first responders who have been injured as a result of their service. Last night on the eve of the grand opening, I suddenly got nervous.

What if no one comes? I worried. The place looked fantastic and everything was ready to go.

I needn’t have fretted. The moment the doors opened, the room filled with laughter and warmth as people engaged in the many fun activities we had organized.

I stood back for a moment, and took it all in. I had expected most of the visitors would be people from other organizations or businesses. Then it hit me. This was not the case. The vast majority of the people in the room were veterans and first responders. Talking, connecting… heck even doing mindfulness exercises and chair yoga together.

It was then that I realized it had already started. The Landing Strong community was forming. These men and women were claiming the space… making the program theirs. They did not come and leave quickly. They stayed, and connected with one another, renewing old acquaintances and forming new ones.

A group of them even brought me a most touching gift… a beautiful orchid. How fitting, I thought, that they should bring a flower that grows with a fragile beauty out of the harshest places.

Thank you my friends, for helping make this evening so memorable.

Mindfulness and the unexpected

Mindfulness and the unexpected

Recently things have been a bit hectic. I’ve a lot on the go, and am feeling pulled in a number of different directions. For that reason, I decided to spend last weekend centering myself. I thought nothing would be better than to simply spend a day just being: noticing and appreciating the beauty around me. Otherwise known as mindfulness. I’ve been trying to fix up some old chairs, but trying to reupholster them was starting to feel overwhelming. Joe, my supersonic husband, suggested a 25 km bike ride from our cottage to Bear River, and I naively said “great”.

I have to tell you, if you haven’t checked out Bear River, I would recommend it. It’s a quaint little artistic community known as the “tidal village on stilts.” It boasts the Sissiboo Coffee Roaster (fair trade organic trendy coffee shop) and a cute little café called “Myrtle and Rosie’s.” Determined to notice, appreciate and learn, it was here that the universe gave me my first teaching.

Wanting to fill my life sandwich with more knowledge, I ventured out into the countryside eager to expand my understanding of the cosmos. It was here, in the pastoral fields of Clementsville, that I witnessed wildlife that I had never seen before roaming free in Nova Scotia. Zebras.

Feeling I was on a winning streak of enlightenment, I pushed on in my odyssey, and was rewarded with other amazing finds. On the way back through town, I met Walter Wambolt, who appeared to be quite the man about town. Confident and assertive, he was a man of a few words and turned out to be a great listener.

I made the internal commitment to be more like him. Walter beckoned me into a nearby bakery. It was there, in a back room of the bakery, that I discovered a hidden upholstery shop. The baker, it turns out, is a talented fellow who is also able to help me reupholster some chairs I am reclaiming.

So all in all, it was a pretty great day. I did make it home, and could barely walk the next day, but no worries. I felt complete with all the new teachings. I’m going to keep working on this mindfulness thing.