Finding fun in unexpected places

Finding fun in unexpected places

Just before Christmas, I had the chance to accompany a competitive girls basketball team to a tournament in Arizona. In addition to watching some great basketball, my husband Joe and I had the opportunity for a hike up Camelback Ridge, a famous trail in Echo Canyon Park. As we passed the trailhead at 4pm, a park ranger warned us to be back down by 5:25pm.  Confident and energetic, we forged ahead, making the steep climb to the peak by 5pm. At the summit, we stood proudly among a gathering of happy people enjoying the spectacular view. A friendly and hard-core looking hiker warned us that the 5:25pm deadline was real, and the park gave out tickets to anyone who is late getting off the mountain. We laughed and took a series of great photos to the warm glow of the setting sun.  

Making our way down, we continued to take great photos. We started to be passed by a series of ultra-marathon looking types jogging quickly by. Enough runners passed that I started to think that maybe they knew something we didn’t: either, they were being chased by wild game; or the 5:25pm penalty was real. With a surge of energy, we started to sprint down. My husband laughed at me, as he’s never seen me scamper down a mountain slope with such glee. It had become a game – Belinda versus park ranger. With sixty seconds to spare, we made it across the finish line. I looked around to give the ticketing officer a high-five, but none was to be found. Enquiries with other hikers revealed that ticketing is a practice, but seldom enforced. However, the large number of foolish hikers stranding themselves up on the mountain after dusk with only their cell phones to guide them was real. The emergency response team is frequently called to help pull people out after they injure themselves after dark.

All in all, what could have been a stressful situation ended up being the highlight of my trip. Sometimes when we’re stressed situation, it’s hard to see the silver lining.  Only afterwards are we able to reflect on the strength, courage or skill it took to get ourselves out of it.  

Although I know the journey that each of you is on might be difficult, we hope that you are able to take time to catch the sunset or beauty that exists within it.

Warm regards from the entire Landing Strong Team,

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


Holiday Hacks

Holiday Hacks

As we gear up for the holidays, it’s easy to get caught up with the demands of the season.  For many, the extra load can feel somewhat overwhelming.  With this in mind, we have created something special for you: 8 Holiday hacks to keep your recovery on track.  In this special booklet, we offer tips and strategies for staying sane in a time of increased demand. We’ll also be sending mini versions of these strategies to you through social media channels over the next few weeks.

Want to start the New Year off right? We have some exciting new programs launching in January that we invite you to join.  It’s important to call soon so that we can arrange insurance coverage for you to attend.

 Care for the Caregiver Part 1: Supporting and Thriving

Learn Strategies to be a stronger, more resilient support for someone you care about who has PTSD or other Operational Stress Injuries

An encore presentation for those who could not get into the first round.

Monday January 7, 2019 10-3 pm

Care for the Caregiver Series Part 2: Effective communication skills

Learn strategies to reconnect in a meaningful way

Friday January 18, 2019 10-3 pm

New Year New You Part 1

This year, set yourself up for success. Regroup, recalibrate and reclaim your life.  

A program for military members, veterans and first responders.

Friday January 11, 2019 10-3 pm

  • Build confidence
  • Reconnect with yourself
  • Discover your true potential  

Group sizes are limited, book now to avoid disappointment.  Call (902) 472-2972 for more information or email us at info@landingstrong.com.

Warm regards,

Belinda

Embrace the suck

Embrace the suck

“I just want to be happy,” the woman sitting next to me at the coffee shop exclaims to her friend, “is that too much to ask?”

I’m trying not to listen, but have a hard time tuning her out since she’s speaking so loudly.  As I sip my London Fog, I wonder if she is struggling because she’s asking the wrong question.

Everyone is talking about having a happy life.  I’m not sure such a thing exists.  In true Buddhist tradition, we can’t fully appreciate joy without knowing suffering.  Or love, without loneliness. I believe happiness is a byproduct of spending our time in meaningful ways, not a destination in and of itself.  It’s really about understanding the impact of the many small choices we make each day.  Happiness might come from supporting a friend instead of watching Netflix, or starting that fitness program we’ve been putting off.  It’s about choosing to do the hard thing, instead of settling for what’s easy.  It’s not always clear how important the struggle is when we’re in the midst of it. The joy of an accomplishment is in direct proportion to the challenge it presents.  If it isn’t hard to do, it probably isn’t worth doing.

So instead of asking the question, “why can’t I be happy?”, we should be asking, “how have I challenged myself today?”  Ultimately, it’s through meaning and purpose that we find fulfillment.

 

 

When the unexpected happens in public places

When the unexpected happens in public places

This has been a tough week. Lost lives and hate have been infecting the headlines in the morning papers. I was shaken when I read of the pipe bombs that were mailed to Democrats in the United States. Thankfully, they were intercepted before detonating. How many law enforcement officials risked their lives to move these dangerous packages away from the public? Then came the news of a hate-filled synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, where eleven people lost their lives. Four police officers were injured in the shooting, and many more police and first responders were exposed to the scene as they worked to rescue the civilians inside. Shortly after, I learn that Indonesia’s Lion Air Flight JT-610 crashed into the sea with 189 on board. I struggle to make sense of it all.

I can’t help but think back to the Swissair Flight 111 tragedy, and wonder how those affected by that event are coping with the news of a similar occurrence this week. Even for those who processed the difficult emotions they experienced as a result of Swissair and have been doing well, this recent crash is likely to trigger old memories. Recovering from trauma is possible, but making an effort to maintain our wellbeing and having ongoing support is crucial for long-term success. Overcoming trauma is not a linear process, there will be setbacks. Resilience is being able to recognize what your needs are when faced with stressors, and reaching out before they impact your life.

When I think of the scary things that can take place in public spaces, I try to remind myself of the better things people have done. I see the devastating effects that can result from just one person, but I also see flash mobs that required several people and many hours of singing, dancing and working together to create something special. During hard weeks like this one, I remind myself that those trying to better our community outnumber the disturbed few. I invite you to take a few moments to balance your exposure to the tragedy by reminders of the good that exists.

Below are links to a few videos that remind me of the abundance of light, even on a darkened evening. These videos serve to remind me that, despite the odds, by paying attention to the people immediately around us, anything is possible. Feel free to share examples of events that inspire you (info@landingstrong.com) and we’ll share it with the community.

Irish Dancing Flashmob in Essex by Aer Lingus Regional and London Southend Airport

They play with joy: Flashmob Nürnberg 2014 – Ode an die Freude

They dance with passion:Three Incredible 80s Flash Mobs in Sleepy Seaside Town! 

They arrive in numbers: Waka Waka Biggest flashmob in the Netherlands

And everyone is included, even if they don’t fully know the routine: Flash Mob Mamma Mia Dupont Circle

Even in a place where collaboration and cooperation are unlikely, they join together to be seen and heard. A call to not be forgotten: Prison’s flash mob. Michael Jackson’s song

Embracing discomfort

Embracing discomfort

“Get comfortable being uncomfortable” was the suggestion that my friend and business coach, Eleanor Beaton, gave me this week. She was speaking to me about the importance of pushing ourselves toward new things, even when they are challenging or intimidating.

I discussed this topic in a previous blog, when describing my experience in yoga class. It was reassuring to be reminded that it’s normal to feel uncomfortable. Looking forward, I think I’m in for a long period of it. Instead of embracing the growing pains, I feel like a character in an Alfred Hitchcock film who is trying to get comfortable while lying on a bed of nails. It’ll take time and practice; some things just can’t be rushed.

There are many new and exciting changes going on, each one introducing new fears or worries.  Will we receive funding to start the 3 month program soon? Will the next PTSD Hero Comic be well received? Are the messages we are sending out on social media having a positive impact? Will we get the next grant application in on time?

To get through this time, I tell myself this is not a permanent state. I remind myself of the importance of self-care, making a point of taking a step back when I am feeling overwhelmed.  Most importantly, I rely on good friends and a hot tea to remind me I’m not doing it alone.

We’re taking a huge leap of faith, and creating something innovative and exciting. We feel honoured that you are with us, by being part of our virtual community. With each new addition to our email list, our community has grown by one. Every time you share posts, you help us to spread the word and expand our community. For as you know, it isn’t just a community for those who are injured. It is also for those who are supporting them, or cheering from the sidelines. We are in a marathon of recovery, and even the person who hands out water, or shares the word is part of a wave of social change. There is strength in numbers

Keep telling us what you think. If you have ideas or issues you would like addressed, feel free to send them to us directly at info@landingstrong.com. We love to hear from you!

Let’s talk about worms

Let’s talk about worms

When I see a worm, I think of my son when he was young. He would use them as bait to catch fish at the cottage. These are heartwarming memories.

For my grandmother, they were a symbol of a healthy garden and the joy she felt when her flowers were in full bloom.

For someone else, they might be a symbol of the mystery of the universe, given that they can be cut into two and still function fully.

For others, worms might evoke a fear response if they have previously had negative experiences with them; for example, an older sibling who tormented them by throwing worms in their hair.

A rainy day and the surfacing of worms can provoke widely different reactions. None of us can truly know how any given situation affects another person based on our own experiences.

Similarly, trauma is intensely personal. Bumping into a friend who seems down on a rainy day, I might assume that they are troubled by the weather. What I might not know is that the weather could be triggering a difficult memory from their past.

Even when a number of people experience the same event, each is uniquely affected by it.

The only way to truly understand the meaning of an event for someone is to ask. This month, our educational campaign centers on supporting those who are caring for loved ones who are injured. Strategy five in our caregiver resource touches on the importance of asking rather than assuming.

If you are already on our email list, we’ll be sending to you this resource at the end of the campaign. If you are not on our email list but would like to receive this and other free educational resources, please feel free to join our virtual community.