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Becoming a Master of Reinvention

Becoming a Master of Reinvention

Have I told you about my 87 year old father?  He’s a master of reinvention.  He used to be a high school art teacher, but had an opportunity to retire early at 55.  We’ve all seen the Freedom 55 commercials right? It’s supposed to be great.

In his case, though, the transition wasn’t easy.  I don’t think he quite knew what to do with himself.  Accustomed to a highly structured day with many responsibilities, he suddenly found an endless stretch of time during which nothing was happening.  I remember a lot of TV watching and listlessness that we weren’t accustomed to seeing.  Over time, though, he found his way.  He started to watch the “talking heads” as he calls them, financial advisors and news reporters on TV. 
 
He read about the stock markets and investing.  Before you knew it, he was playing both tennis and the stock markets daily, getting super fit and doubling the income he had ever earned as a teacher, all while working only an hour per day.

Now he still plays with the money markets, but as an artist, he also tackles new creative themes each year.  During COVID, he was obsessed with painting waves.  A challenging thing to capture, perhaps it was his way to escape the confinement of isolation.  Each week, my siblings in Toronto would send me photos of his work.  He’s been painting faster and more than ever before, excitedly sharing his creations.

As I lead the Identity and Transition Program, I’m reminded that we all have periods of change and transition. Times when we need to pause from life, and allow ourselves the time to figure things out.  Making sure our next steps are thoughtful, not rushed.  

For many people who’ve committed their lives to the “job,” knowing what to do in their leisure time is not easy.  That’s why we developed our Healthy Living Program, starting this November. It’s virtual, so even if you don’t live close by, you can still join us.  Call early to enroll so we know to save a spot for you.

Warm regards,

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

In search of the perfect cookie

In search of the perfect cookie

The chocolate chip cookie.  What a perfect creation.  Whether it was first made by accident, or a flash of brilliance and loose hand with chocolate, this mouth-watering creation has remained a classic for many years.  

This year, Mackenzie made it a goal to perfect her chocolate chip cookie recipe.  We’ve been fortunate enough to sample her different attempts, each week learning more about the chemistry and subtleties of baking.  I never would have believed that the sprinkling of flaked salt on top of a baked cookie could have such a transformative effect.  Or understand the caramelizing effect of butter versus margarine.  Small changes can indeed, have profound effects on the overall creation.

It’s amazing how often in life we use the same ingredients in a recipe, somehow expecting the outcome to be different.  In many ways, health is similar to a perfect cookie recipe.  It takes a multitude of ingredients, with the quality of each element having a significant impact on the outcome. Recovery from injury isn’t just about individual therapy.  It also involves group work, exercise, balanced nutrition, healthy lifestyle and meaningful, supportive connection with the people who are important to us.  If we’re missing an ingredient, the result won’t be as good.

If your recovery is going slower that you might like, don’t assume you’re doing it wrong.  Maybe you’re exactly on track, but just need to adjust an ingredient or two.

We still have a few spots left in our Mind/Body Health and Recovery group for Caregivers.  This is intended for partners/adult children of those who are injured.  We want to take care of you too.  

For those Veterans and First Responders who have taken a course before, feel free to join our monthly Maintaining Health Program, starting this September.

Identity and Transition is full, but there are still spots left in Healthy Living, starting in November.  Consider planning ahead and enroll in the January Emotions Management Program.

Shake up your recipe.  You may be thrilled with the result.

Warm regards,

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

Being the architect of my universe

Being the architect of my universe

I fully enjoyed my holidays, but have to admit…the thought of returning to work is somewhat daunting. 

I can’t help but think of the large to do list awaiting me.  The tightness in my chest serves as a reminder that I may be expecting too much of myself.  I don’t think I’m alone in this regard.

“I am the architect of my universe,” I remind myself.  “If I don’t like the way something feels, it’s no one’s job but mine to change it”. 

I decided to set aside some time this afternoon and draw up lists.  Get those “to do” things out of my head and onto paper.  I assigned them priorities. The list isn’t actually as long as I thought.  

The beauty of the sun glistening on the lake reminds me that deadlines are arbitrary.  There is really nothing that is urgent: no one is going to die if I don’t get it all done immediately. Instead of things I have to do, I’ll view my tasks as things I can feel good about accomplishing.

Most importantly, I’ll make sure to add a bunch of fun and creative things to my list.  If this is to be my job description for the next year…I want it to be creative, engaging and enjoyable.

I add an extra list…creative hobby ideas, and feel myself lighten.

Changing the world might be important, but so is enjoying the day 🙂 

Warm wishes,

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

Starting the day with intention

Starting the day with intention

This week, I met someone new.  Let’s call her “Ray of Sunshine”.  She sparkled so brightly I was almost blinded by the bling that adorned her arms and fingers.  Fluorescent pink eye shadow and a matching headband complemented her brightly flowered shirt.  

“Thanks Girlfriend” she sung out to me happily as she rang up my purchase.  

“Great outfit” I offered smiling 

“I gotta whole cupboard ‘a bright flowered shirts to choose from” she chimed in,  “Makes me happy”.

Now that’s a woman with intention, I thought with admiration as I left the store.  It felt good that this happy stranger had referred to me as “girlfriend”, randomly deciding that kindness was to be her default greeting.  Everything about her told me that before she had even started her day, she’d decided it was going to be a good one.  What would happen If I started each day with the same degree of intention?

Something to ponder as I search my makeup drawer for baby blue eyeshadow and a matching sparkle shirt. 🙂 
 
Warm regards, 

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

The business of getting better: part 5

The business of getting better: part 5

The freedom of choice.
 
Many years ago I attended a work seminar where the facilitator spoke of the importance of developing a Plan B for any major venture you take on.  His words struck a chord, for at the time I was working in a federal penitentiary.  I wasn’t sure how long I would remain there.  Every day, I was surrounded by people who repeatedly reported how many years they had until retirement. 
 
“Good morning” they would greet me cheerfully, “only six years left ‘till retirement”.  

It was the institutional running joke, with people reporting the time they had left on their “sentences” prior to being released.  Like the inmates they were supervising, they were serving life sentences on the installment plan. 
 
This prompted me to develop a solid Plan B.
 
From that moment forward, every day that I went to work became a choice.  I could continue, or I could change, but I would not allow myself to complain about it because I had the freedom to exercise my will.
 
Even now, every day I go to work knowing that I have options.  My Plan B may not make much money, but it’s always less stressful and generally involves doing something creative. Somehow, that allows me to go to work each day with joy, owning the decision to be there.
 
It may be your Plan B involves taking time off work so that you can take proper care of yourself. That in itself is a plan.

Warm regards,

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

“I like to Rock!”

“I like to Rock!”

I’m working with a few veterans who have discovered the joys of guitar. Some play contemporary music, but surprisingly, most stick to the oldies. Good ol’ rock n’roll. I love to watch videos they show me of their playing, and the obvious pleasure it brings.

Have I ever mentioned that I also like to Rock?

Van Halen you may think, or perhaps Pink Floyd… maybe the Stones. Before you conjure up frightening images of me in a semi-goth Pat Benatar outfit, with full on spandex pants, high heeled boots, and crazy hair, I’d better stop you.

Actually, I’m talking about something much simpler: the practice of walking the deserted beaches of Nova Scotia, collecting beautiful rocks. I love the stillness of these coves, punctuated only by the sounds of wind, gulls, or a distant lobster boat. Walking with me is not easy, my family members have discovered. I find so many rocks that draw me in that I can’t carry them all. My family humours me and help out. Their stretched out hoodie pockets are a testament to the strength of my passion.

Once I get home, I wash them, and paint them. Simple beautiful images, always involving nature.

This quiet meditative practice stills my ever-turning mind, and brings me peace.

What will you do with them? People ask me. Actually, I love the fact that they have no real function. In a life where I have a million things going through my head at any point in time, there is something so incredibly satisfying about doing something that has absolutely no discernible purpose, except for the enjoyment it provides.

When I paint these rocks, I imagine them as graduation gifts for those of you who successfully complete the Landing Strong Program. Symbols of reclaiming of aspects of self that may have been lost, or been forgotten. A recalibration of overcharged nervous systems that now allows for moments of gentle reflection and appreciation.

I hope you’ll walk with me.

p.s. Spoiler alert: We’ll be doing some rock painting in the program. 🙂