Even before it officially arrived, we felt the effects of Hurricane Dorian. Bayer’s Lake shopping Centre was jammed full of cars, with people honking at each other in a manner that was distinctly un-Nova Scotian. Long lines formed at grocery stores and gas stations, and shoppers scurried about frenetically. A province where people usually hold the doors open for one another, on Friday they rushed through, allowing doors to slam shut behind them. A woman I recently met described the rising anxiety she felt at the thought of being without power. During Hurricane Juan in 2003, she went 14 days in the dark. There were many indications that this was a province that has previously suffered the devastating effects of a hurricane.
Although kids were thrilled at the cancellation of school, many of us struggled with the clean-up and aftereffects of Dorian. Communities bonded with one another, checking to see if everyone was okay. Even while I send this note out, many of you in rural areas are still waiting for power. Personally, I received a few free skylights in my roof and the removal of my porch, no charge, courtesy of Dorian. Although we are grateful that we suffered nothing close to the devastation of our friends in Bahamas, many people worked very long hours this week in order to help restore order and comfort to our lives. A special thanks to those police, firefighters, first responders, volunteer tree removers and Hydro workers who put in very long days on our behalf. I spoke with Rod, from Hydro Nova Scotia. He showed up at our house at 6:30 Sunday am to cap off loose wires and then again on Wednesday night at 10:00 pm to help restore power. His team had been working 6:00 am until 10:00 pm all week.
The effects of trauma are multi layered. Experiences from the past colour the lens through which we view our present. This recent event reminded me of that. So if you notice people being a bit less happy, comfortable, or patient than usual, let’s cut them some slack. They may have lost their crops, still be in the dark, be figuring out how to repair their cars or homes, or possibly, be struggling to regroup after being reminded of the aftereffects of Hurricane Juan.
Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych. Executive Director, Landing Strong
It was on the night of June 5, 1944 that Winston expressed to his wife that they were going to bed with the knowledge that by morning, 20,000 soldiers may have lost their lives.
He was referring to Operation Overlord, the biggest seaborne operation in history. An event that served to turn the tide of the Second World War as 156,000 Allied forces united to storm the beaches of Normandy in an effort to liberate the country from Nazi occupation.
More than 10,000 people lost their lives in an all or nothing gamble that paid off, but at tremendous cost.
As many of you already know, this is a special week. It’s National Police week, a time when we’re encouraged to pause and think about the invaluable contributions these men and women make to our quality of life. We thank not just the officers, but also their families, for the steadfast work they do in supporting their loved ones.
It’s my privilege to work with a number of officers, and I am constantly astounded by the extreme situations they find themselves in, and the incredible resourcefulness it takes to stay focussed on the job at hand. I bear witness to the toll it takes on them, and the dedication they demonstrate through years of service. How do they stay resilient I wonder? This question has been a lifelong obsession for me, taking me back thirty years to my master’s research when I interviewed officers across the country, trying to understand the unique stressors that police officers face while on the job.
It takes a special kind of person to stay strong when the going gets tough. The job takes a number of forms: whether it’s keeping our streets and highways safe, working homicide cases, investigating cybercrime, conducting sex crime investigations, working undercover with gangs, conducting military investigations, or in the case of RCMP members, doing time in isolated Northern communities.
To each and every one of you, we are grateful for your efforts.
Thanks to you, our communities are that much safer.
Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych. Founder, Landing Strong
It’s a funny thing sitting down at a computer, composing thoughts that will be sent out into the universe. Who are you I wonder? What are you thinking? What are you feeling? Will I be able to write something that will make a difference in moments when you may feel tired or alone? Am I able to offer something that is helpful, or simply bring a smile? Normally, when I go out for coffee with a friend, I rely on my companions feedback to let me know how the conversation is going. It may be a smile, a glint in the eye, or a shared confession of the soul.
But when I look at my computer screen, it’s different. I imagine you, my on-line friends, busy in your lives, squeezing a quiet moment for yourself so that we might connect and hopefully find points of convergence in our lives. It’s those quiet moments of reflection that cherish, opportunities to dip into the well that nourishes us.
I think today I’d like to make you a cuppa tea, and offer you a freshly baked cookie. There’s something about the smell of fresh chocolate chip cookies that feels like home. Because they’re virtual, they’re calorie free, so you can enjoy as many as you like! Please sit with me as I welcome you into my heart.
Next week Joe and I are off for a well needed break in the Dominican Republic. My main goal is movement. That’s it, allowing my body to go anywhere or do anything without fear of time constraints. I don’t know about you but for me, one of the biggest challenges of aging is range of motion. If I don’t move enough, I lose myself. We’re taking our inflatable paddle boards so that we might explore and dip to the tune of our internal rhythms. By the time you get this blog, I’ll likely be out there, floating in the crystalline Caribbean. I’ll take a piece of you with me, and think of you all as I connect with the sun, the sand, the ocean breeze, and my quiet self. Thank you for enriching my community. For although I may be miles away, I know we are still connected.
Thanks as well to those of you who have offered comments and feedback, it means a great deal and helps guide the next discussion.
A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.
On this Remembrance Day, I give special thanks to those who have made sacrifices in the name of our country and our freedom. Whether they went to war or were impacted here at home, it’s a time for acknowledging that there are many who suffered injuries on our behalf. Even after wounds have healed, invisible injuries continue to affect many military members, veterans, first responders and the families who support them. For many of us, Remembrance Day is a daily occurrence.
For each of you, we give thanks for your work and the sacrifices you have made in the line of duty.
Recovery isn’t about forgetting our experiences, forgiving ourselves for past actions, or leaving an old identity behind. Overcoming trauma is finding a way to live a meaningful life within a supportive community, despite the things that may have happened. It’s a way of living comfortably, despite discomfort.
Anything that evokes intense emotion can be scary because it makes us feel vulnerable. Love can be like that, but so can the harder feelings. Remembrance Day brings up a lot of emotion for many people. You may want to go to a ceremony because a part of you feels that you should. You may worry about who you might run into, about losing composure in public, or not knowing how you fit in. You may prefer to spend the day at home with loved ones. This is a highly personal decision, and there are no right or wrong answers. Whatever you choose to do, we hope that you do not do it alone. Know that we are there with you.
*The painting pictured above, titled Winter Poppies, was created by an incredibly talented veteran and artist Kelly Mitchelmore. She also painted the striking forest scene that hangs in our waiting room. (Please note, this image is subject to copyright)