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Small flakes big snow

Small flakes big snow

This week I looked out the window and noticed a flurry of tiny snowflakes making their way down from the skies. Weather forecasters were calling for a large storm, and I knew that was going to make for a complicated day at the office.

“Small flakes big snow” one of the clients mentioned on their way out, “get your snow shovels ready!”

I’ve heard that expression before, and wondered about its origins.  Is there some ancient wisdom I’m unaware of that would allow me to be able to better predict my day simply by looking at the size of snowflakes?   A few minutes of google research later, I realize it’s not quite so simple.  Warmer temperatures lead to higher water content, and thus larger flakes.  Colder atmospheric temperature forms smaller flakes because there isn’t as much sticky stuff to hold the flakes together.  So in a way It’s true: if it’s warm outside it isn’t likely to stay snowy for long…it might turn to slushy wet stuff or rain.  Small snowflakes and lower temperatures are a sign that whatever falls is likely to hang around for longer.

It strikes me that change is a bit like the snow.  If we try to do too much too soon (large flakes) it isn’t likely to be lasting.  Small repeated steps in the right direction, however, accumulate over time and can lead to a mountain of change. If we turn the heat up on ourselves too quickly, it’s not sustainable.   If I want to take up running, for example, and start by trying to run 5 km at once, it’s likely too much.  Sure I did it some years ago, but that doesn’t mean my body will recognize that movement now.  A series of small steps, building up over time will increase my stamina so that I’m better equipped to do the run.  Maybe a better goal is to start walking 10,000 steps a day instead.   If I want any positive change to be lasting, easing in with gradual small changes is the way to go.

Keeping in line with our New Year commitment to self-compassion, I will embrace my inner (running) warrior, and enjoy pleasant walks through the snow this winter. Enjoying each small flake as it accumulates into something bigger. Maybe you will too?

Warm wishes,

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

Savouring what matters

Savouring what matters

The Holidays can be a difficult time for many, with increased expectations around social engagements, drinking, crowds and overindulgences.  What if we simply focus on what the holiday spirit truly means.  No matter what our spiritual beliefs may be, it’s a time when people come together to celebrate, offer support to one another, and reflect on the passing year.  

It’s undeniably a time of year where shopping, preparing elaborate meals, and commercialism seemingly take over.  It’s also true that almost half of all charitable donations made by Canadians happen in the last two months of the year.  This suggests that despite the stress associated with the season, it’s a time when people are thinking of those who face more challenging circumstances.  

In the midst of one of the busiest times of the year, we are able to set aside our differences and recognize our shared humanity.  When people are spending the most and perhaps are feeling the stress of their financial state, they recognize that this discomfort isn’t temporary for many.  When they are surrounded by those they love, thoughts turn to those who may not be as fortunate.  

We hope you’re able to take some time over the holidays to reflect on all the small things that are meaningful to you in your life.  We are grateful for our connection with you, our sense of shared purpose as we support those who are injured, and our appreciation for those who continue to put themselves in harm’s way so we may be safe.

Warmest wishes for a safe and happy holiday season,

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

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