(902) 472-2972 info@landingstrong.com
Quiet Connections

Quiet Connections

Every Christmas Day I know two things will be true: 

  1. I will likely eat chocolate for breakfast
  2. I’ll spend time connecting with people I love.  

This year, although I’m fairly certain a Toblerone bar will make its way into my stocking, I also know the way I’ll connect with others will look different. With some people, I’ll connect with by phone, others by computer.  

The largest community, though, I’ll hold in my thoughts. 

When people are thinking about us, we often feel it.  Even when we may feel alone, our community is still there.  The connection is simply quieter… but not forgotten.

Know that each and every one of you are in our thoughts.  

Wishing you a Happy Holiday Season and looking forward to connecting in the New Year.

Warm regards,

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

The surprising face of courage

The surprising face of courage

In this line of work, I’m honoured to hear countless stories of courage in the face of adversity. Recently, as part of our Identity and Transition course, veterans and first responders have been putting pen to paper.  Led by our inspired writer Karalee Ann Clerk, participants who claim they can’t write step forward into the spotlight, bearing their hearts to the group. A sacred circle has formed, woven of trust, strength, compassion and courage.  Each week my heart grows as I view their lives through the lens of their experiences.  I mentioned to the group that if anyone was willing to share their weekly writing with the greater Landing Strong community, I’d be happy to publish it.  One of our Veterans (and also a former Corrections Officer) stepped to the plate. 

Thank you R.B. for trusting us with this piece of your heart:

I remember not seeing my father’s car. It was a fire engine red 1965 Pontiac Parisienne. A boat. A convertible boat. He loved that car, and that car was gone. I was 7 or 8 and had just returned from school. My mom told me matter of factly, “Your fathers gone and he is not coming back.” 

At that young age I knew that despite how bad things had been at home and judging by my family’s current trajectory the dissolution of my parent’s marriage meant things were about to get a whole heck of a lot worse. I was terrified for myself and my siblings. 

It was within this moment that I first learned how to numb fear.

I used to think courage is when you think taking an action may hurt you, but you do it anyways because it is in line with your values. It’s pushing yourself through something despite fear.

When I learned how to turn off fear I lost with it my sense of courage. How could I experience courageousness myself when I wouldn’t allow myself to be afraid? Looking back now I wonder if this is part of the reason I found myself in such a mess to begin with. It makes sense – nothing I did could appropriately scare me.

 I’ve always been a risk taker. I used to think it was just who I was. I needed a little something extra to get a kick out of life. Were all of these risks really just a scared child trying to get back his sense of fear?

Masking emotions allowed me to excel as a grownup. I joined the army and really found my place. Here was a place where my risk taking could be rewarded.

Trauma followed me out of my childhood and into the army. Looking back it was as if we were marching in lockstep together. After several major events I knew my psyche needed out and I released after a short but exciting three years.

The experimenting that began with alcohol in my early teens turned into a full blown addiction by my early twenties with a trip into rehab for a month. Eventually fate would land me in prison – as a correctional officer where I spent nine years of my life deep-diving into the never ending well of despair that is our criminal justice system.

Of everything that happened to me, in my childhood, the army and working at the jail, I never considered anything I did courageous. How could I. I was never afraid.

This scares me though. Writing this down, wondering how all of you are going to react. Will you accept me? Will you shun me? Will I even read it?

I feel courageous when I share with people. It excites me in a good way. Will something I say resonate? Will the words I speak ignite a feeling in you? One you haven’t felt in a while, or haven’t been able to express?

I was only able to go back to the memory of my father through years of introspection and therapy. It was through the act of recovery that I was able to see just how courageous I was. Not in that moment as a child. Not because I survived all of the perils life could throw at me. But because I could take that moment, that moment I turned off that emotion of fear, and I could have it back. 

Sometimes memories can be about something that you didn’t see. Like a red convertible in the driveway. I can go back there now.

I can tell that little boy whose father just left him that everything is going to be alright, and the courageous part about my life is now I’m telling it to you.

  • R.B.


Warm regards,

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

You never know where you’re going unless you know where you’ve been

You never know where you’re going unless you know where you’ve been

“Don’t look back, stay in the present,” people may tell you, urging you not to dwell on the difficult times. 

Yet…like trickles of rain finding their way through creases in a rock, our minds revisit old scenes and emotions, replaying them in an endless loop that interrupts sleep.

It may feel like you’re haunted, having these old stories replay over and over in your head. In reality, it’s our brain’s way of pointing is to the things we need to examine in order to recover.

“You never know where you’re going unless you know where you’ve been.” A wise man said to me recently.  Besides the fact that’s it’s a great lead line for a country Western song, it’s also true.  Our brains know that, in order to heal, they need to repeatedly return to the site of injury, working to make sense of what happened.  The problem is, when we do it alone, we tend to view our past the same way, over and over.   Knowing where you’ve been helps navigate the way forward.  Doing so in good company provides a fresh lens through which to view it.

Join the Landing Strong on-line experience.  Call now to register for programs starting in November and January. We’ll help you find your way.

Warm regards,

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

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

Nova Scotia Thoughtful

Nova Scotia Thoughtful

Have I told you recently how proud I am to live in Nova Scotia?  It’s sentiment I know many of us share: everywhere we look, there are flags and signs celebrating the strength and loyalty of Nova Scotians. 

I’d like to add another word to our vocabulary when describing Nova Scotians: Thoughtful.

Last night I was in IKEA.  I wanted to pick up a large shelf unit and had parked my cart on the warehouse floor, wondering how the heck I was going to get the heavy unit onto my cart.  It really was a two person job. A young couple walked towards me, interested in the same unit.  

“Wait a minute,” the young man calls to me, “You’ve got the wrong kind of cart, I’m going to grab you a flat one.”  

Before I knew it he had dashed to the end of the aisle and grabbed me something more suitable.  Together we easily got it loaded.  The next step was loading this monstrosity into my car.  I parked my shopping cart by the trunk, and was walking around to unlock the door when an older couple walked by.

“Don’t try lifting that on your own,” the man called out.  “Let me give you a hand.  No sense you strainin’ yer’ back.”

I hadn’t even had a moment to ask anyone for help and here this fellow was, making sure things went smoothly.  This is the kindness of small towns and close communities.  I drove away with a warm heart and appreciation for the thoughtfulness strangers. There may be a lot of challenging things going on in the world these days, but I, for one, am happy to be living in the Atlantic Bubble, and super proud to be in Nova Scotia.

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