Hello universe

Hello universe

It’s a funny thing sitting down at a computer, composing thoughts that will be sent out into the universe.  Who are you I wonder?  What are you thinking? What are you feeling?  Will I be able to write something that will make a difference in moments when you may feel tired or alone? Am I able to offer something that is helpful, or simply bring a smile?  Normally, when I go out for coffee with a friend, I rely on my companions feedback to let me know how the conversation is going.  It may be a smile, a glint in the eye, or a shared confession of the soul.

But when I look at my computer screen, it’s different.  I imagine you, my on-line friends, busy in your lives, squeezing a quiet moment for yourself so that we might connect and hopefully find points of convergence in our lives.  It’s those quiet moments of reflection that cherish, opportunities to dip into the well that nourishes us.

I think today I’d like to make you a cuppa tea, and offer you a freshly baked cookie.  There’s something about the smell of fresh chocolate chip cookies that feels like home.  Because they’re virtual, they’re calorie free, so you can enjoy as many as you like!   Please sit with me as I welcome you into my heart.

Next week Joe and I are off for a well needed break in the Dominican Republic.  My main goal is movement.  That’s it, allowing my body to go anywhere or do anything without fear of time constraints.  I don’t know about you but for me, one of the biggest challenges of aging is range of motion.  If I don’t move enough, I lose myself.  We’re taking our inflatable paddle boards so that we might explore and dip to the tune of our internal rhythms.  By the time you get this blog, I’ll likely be out there, floating in the crystalline Caribbean.  I’ll take a piece of you with me, and think of you all as I connect with the sun, the sand, the ocean breeze, and my quiet self.  Thank you for enriching my community.  For although I may be miles away, I know we are still connected.

Thanks as well to those of you who have offered comments and feedback, it means a great deal and helps guide the next discussion.

Warm regards,

Belinda

Alone in this together

Alone in this together

My husband recently took a group of 30 students, aged 11-18 to the summit of Kilimanjaro.  Every one of them made it to the top.  Braving the cold on that last difficult night, the students dug deep to find the resources to keep going when their bodies were shrieking at them to stop.  There is no doubt in my mind that if they were walking in isolation, very few would make it.  With support, encouragement and companionship of others in the same predicament, the venture somehow feels less daunting.   There is, indeed, strength in numbers.

This week I came off an intensive week working with veterans and first responders recovering from Operational Stress Injuries.   Even though they are only four days into a ten day program, I already see a difference: a lightness in their faces; straightness in their back; and a shift in the manner they speak to one another.  What originally started out as a journey of isolation has transformed into a group effort. Accessing emotions that have been long buried they push forward in their desire for recovery. 

Initially avoiding eye contact, they now meet each other’s gaze with respect and admiration. Trained to view expression of emotions as a sign of weakness, they are coming to understand it is, in fact, the opposite.  Facing that which we fear is the ultimate act of courage.  

“We are alone in this together.”  One of them affirmed.   With these words I know that something important is shifting.  For what started out as a solo journey, has now become a group expedition.

Warm regards,

Belinda

Doing the emotional override

Doing the emotional override

I speak to many veterans and first responders who tell me they are having a difficult time feeling.

The problem isn’t that they’re feeling down…it’s that they aren’t feeling at all.  

Over the years, quietly and almost unnoticed, emotional flatness has seeped into their lives. 

“It’s not all bad” they tell me. “I’m not bothered at work by things that seem to disturb other people.  I just shut ‘er down and get the job done.”

You may recognize yourself in this picture:  highly skilled at being functional, even when the going gets tough.  When faced with disturbing or horrific scenes, we’re trained to shut down our emotions.  Because after all…Mission (service) comes before self.  

One of the challenges is that we get so used to being in this mode that we don’t always know when we’re are doing it.

We just notice that we are no longer able to feel like we used to.

The emotional override can be so powerful that that we may not even be able to recognize what our needs are.  Knowing how and when to take time out for ourselves isn’t simple.  Years of training has hardwired us to meet the expectations of strangers before those of our own families or even ourselves.  

Chronic pain, fatigue, anger, anxiety and emotional flatness are all indications that this has gone on for too long.

Recovery is about reconnecting with self.  Listening to our bodies and our minds.  

Change is possible but I won’t kid you, it’s not easy.  Particularly if the override has been going on for many years.

We will be offering a five week program on successive Fridays starting May 24 which will help.  Stop faking good and start feeling good: Manage your emotions and curb your addictions.  Call now to reserve your spot (902) 472-2972 or contact us at info@landingstrong.com

Partners in recovery,

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

Who would you invite to dinner?

Who would you invite to dinner?

This week, Mackenzie downloaded a podcast to my phone that I thought was terrific.  It made me laugh, feel sad, and prompted some deep reflection about the nature of relationships.  It’s the story of a couple trying to work out differences in three binge-worthy episodes.  The format of their discussion is 36 critical questions.  I use the word critical because they quickly get to the heart of what is most important in a relationship.  At the core, do we share the same values, laugh at the same things, cry at the same time, and know how to let loose and have fun in a meaningful way?

It’s impossible to listen to this podcast without reflecting on one’s own relationships.  I’ll share one of the questions with you,

         “Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?”

In answering this, I went through a list of possibilities, ranging from Oprah to Gandhi to Michelle Obama. I’m happy to say that after a great deal of thought, I chose Joe.  That’s right, the same man who I’ve been married to for the past 28 years.  When push comes to shove, he’s the guy who I want to take me to dinner.  

I invite you to enjoy the podcast, and perhaps use the list of questions (excluding #35) to spark discussion. It’s called “36 Questions” and is a 3-episode podcast musical.

Warm thoughts from the Landing Strong Team,

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

How much are you willing to risk?

How much are you willing to risk?

My husband Joe recently shared a few “promposal” stories with me, reminding me of the intense joy, courage and compassion felt by adolescents.  For those of you unfamiliar with this time-honoured secondary school custom, promposals are the delivery of heartfelt sentiments, generally performed in a very public manner.  I felt touched by the thoughtful ways people were asking someone special to be their date. 

Expressing our affections for another can make us feel vulnerable, especially if we are unsure how the other person will respond.  Rejection is a risk.  To put oneself in a vulnerable position publicly takes even more courage.  

Joe told me about a female hockey player who wished to ask out a member of the boys hockey team. His team was scheduled to practice immediately after hers.  She secretly enlisted the help of both teams… even the coaches were included.  It was their task to distract the intended recipient while both teams lined up their sticks to make a path to a message spelled out in pucks on the freshly cleaned ice.  

  My goal is to score a date with you for the prom.

Luckily for both parties involved, he accepted.  I imagine a great roar of cheers arising from all those who helped orchestrate this wonderful event.

Another story involves a fellow who was in charge of thanking a particular girl during a school assembly for her role in organizing an event.  He got up in front of the entire school, acknowledged her effort, and then with only the slightest of pauses, presented her with a bouquet of roses, adding,

  There is one other thing I would like to say…

With the entire school watching, he took the plunge:

  I don’t have anyone to go to the prom with me.  Will you do me the honour of being my date?

Over 400 people held their breath as they waited for her reply.  After what must have seemed like an eternity to the young man, she broke into a huge smile and gleefully accepted.

These young people inspire me.  How often is it that we have the opportunity to witness such grand acts of courage?  I don’t know about you, but I found the adolescent years excruciating.  I stand in awe of the fortitude it takes to stand on a mountain top and declare one’s love or admiration in such a bold manner.

That, my friends, is living. This week, I chose to think about how inviting others to share powerful emotions can bring us together.  

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