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

What does it mean to live well

What does it mean to live well

“Helping people overcome their demons is not the same as helping people live well”  
– Martin Seligman 

 
What does it mean to live well?
Is it to be rich?
Is it to be loved?
Is it to live a life of purpose?
 
Many of you have chosen a life of service because at a deep level, you understand that personal fulfillment is connected to the notion of contribution.  Being of service is valued.  Through meaningful connection to one another, our lives have purpose. When we take off the uniform, it can be hard to know who we are.  
 
Chances are, who you are was determined long before you put on the uniform.  As a kid, you were probably the one who offered to help out. In social situations, you likely notice who is in need and are quick to offer assistance.  
 
Who you are is not defined by the clothes you wear, rather, it’s who you are inside: who you’ve always been.
 
Sometimes, when we’re injured, it’s easy to lose sight of that old self.  It’s still there.  It’s always been there.  Just waiting to re-emerge when you are ready.

Warm regards, 

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

What does it mean to relax?

What does it mean to relax?

As is the case with any vacation, my goal is to relax and recharge, allowing me to give my full attention and energy to the things I care about once I return home.

How do I do this?

For the next seven days, I’ll be back-country canoe tripping through Killarney Provincial Park, one of Ontario’s most pristine and spectacular wilderness preserves.  It’s inevitable that at times I‘ll be uncomfortable: fending off bugs, carrying heavy backpacks over long portages, or sleeping on bumpy ground. Joe, Kyle and Mackenzie are psyched about eating porridge every morning…me not so much so.

I know from past experience though, that it’ll be well worth it.  I can relax by doing less, or challenge myself by doing more. Generally speaking, the most important aspects of self-care that I practice involve expending energy. It may involve camping, doing art, reading, writing or walking in nature.  Some part of me is generally in motion.  Sometimes I do it well, sometimes not.

We often think of relaxation as being a passive activity: slowing down, watching Netflix, and giving ourselves permission to do less. Sometimes this is true, but if it becomes a pattern, it’s no longer relaxation.  It becomes a pattern of existing. 

So this week I’ll expend some energy to get out of my head, and into nature and connection with people I love.

I know some of you are off doing the same – playing music, camping, fishing and surfing.

If your old interests aren’t serving as a source of inspiration anymore, it might be time to try something new.  As we change, so do our needs.  That’s why we’re introducing “Community Connection” days into our programming at Landing Strong.  Open to anyone who is on the path of recovery and has participated in one of our workshops, these days will offer a chance to get together in a fun and restorative way. We’ll start advertising them in the next few weeks.

If you haven’t participated in any of our programs yet, consider signing up for one this fall. We are always welcoming new community members.
 
Warmly, 

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

The business of getting better: part 2

The business of getting better: part 2

Lesson 2: Developing your own personal brand

Welcome to our second week of applying business principles to health and recovery.  This week, I’d like to talk to you about the power of belief.

Branding is a term in marketing that helps us understand the intended customer experience.  Donald Miller, in his book Building a Story Brand, describes branding as a transformational process: it’s a journey that offers promise of a desired final destination.  Our “brand” is our aspirational identity.  It’s how we want to feel.  Branding is about helping to guide people toward a stronger belief in themselves.  

Miller provides the example of Starbucks.  When you purchase a Starbuck’s coffee, you’re buying much more than coffee.  You’re buying an experience – a way of seeing yourself – sophisticated, chic, someone worthy of being treated to something special.  The simple act of drinking coffee is transformed into an experience of savouring, and the price becomes secondary to the experience.  Marketing genius.  

I think about how we describe ourselves to others, and wonder how our personal branding affects how we are perceived, and treated.

Do you view (and describe) yourself as an injured veteran or first responder?  Or are you someone who is embarking on a journey of personal growth following traumatic exposure?  

Are you unemployed, or taking time to learn more about yourself?

Are you exhausted, or rather, in need of a well-earned break?

Are you trying to recover what was lost, or looking to broaden who you can be?

Are you overwhelmed by emotions, or enriching your ability to feel and connect with others?

It’s worth considering how you want to feel, and being mindful to integrate these words into your internal vocabulary.  Words are powerful, for they are the utterance of our internal brand. 

Warm regards,

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

The business of getting better: part 1

The business of getting better: part 1

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of reading about business.  At Landing Strong, we’re committed to providing top-tier services on a non-profit budget.  Hence the need for great business strategizing. 

As I read, I’m struck by how many business principles are equally relevant to health and recovery. Over the next four weeks, I’d like to share with you things I’m learning with the hopes that you too will find them helpful.  Please join me on my voyage of inspiration.

Lesson 1: Success is the bi-product of a series of small experiments

It’s an unfortunate reality that most new businesses fail. In the Lean Start Up, Eric Ries claims this is because new business owners tend to make a common error: they put a large investment into a single idea and hope like heck that that they got it right.  The author suggests a more innovative approach to entrepreneurship is to run start-ups like a series of small experiments that inform and guide business development.  No single stage is too big an investment, and it is always possible to pivot and change tactics if it looks like an idea isn’t working out as expected.  

I love this notion, because there’s no pressure to get it right the first time.  In fact, the assumption is that you likely won’t get it right immediately, and you’ll probably have to continuously gather feedback to inform product refinement.

What if we applied this principle to healing and recovery?  One of the most common errors I witness in terms of people who are trying to make changes in their lives is the pressure they put on themselves to get it right the first time they try something new.  If it doesn’t work, they assume it was a bad idea.  Maybe, in fact, it was a great idea, it just needed a bit of feedback and fine tuning. 

When we design new Landing Strong programs, we work hard to get client feedback at the end of each session. Why?  Because our assumption is there are parts that were likely great, and other parts will probably need to be tweaked in order to improve.  The program becomes the product of an organic interaction between facilitator and participants.

Recovering from trauma exposure involves reinventing the self.  It is, in a way, a new business start-up.  Instead of waiting to have it all figured out and hoping we get it “right” let’s consider recovery as a series of small experiments in which you will be trying on new ideas or behaviours, seeing which are helpful and which need tweaking.  We should expect the first version of anything won’t likely be right.  Rather, it’s a first step in the gradual shaping of something new and wonderful. 
 

Warm regards,

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

Safe and stuck vs uncertain and growing

Safe and stuck vs uncertain and growing

Have I ever mentioned how much I love homemade chocolate chip cookies?  Something deep within me settles as the familiar aroma of fresh baked goodness wafts through my kitchen. The simple routine of baking offers me reassurance that all will be okay. 

Although routines can be comforting, never straying from them has consequences.  Just because old habits make me feel good doesn’t mean they’re always good for me.  I love that there are things in life that are a sure bet, but at the same time, realize that taking risks is part of moving forward.  

I’ve taken a lot of risks lately.  I’ll admit it, it has not been easy.  It would definitely have been simpler and easier to stay in a place that’s old and familiar. 

So why do it you might ask?  Why challenge myself when I could simply sit at home baking cookies and watching Netflix?

Truth is, I believe there’s something big around the corner.  Something wonderful that’s worth the journey.  We’re not quite there yet, but we’re getting there.  You and me and the Landing Strong Team.   

How incredible that we allow ourselves to venture into that new place together.
 

Warm regards,

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