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)
This morning started like many others. The alarm sounds, calling the dogs to the side of the bed. It’s almost 6 a.m. but there’s no sign of the sun just yet. Suited up in all-weather jackets, hiking boots, and headlamps, my husband and I head out on our morning walk. We travel along the first half of our familiar trail in silence since it generally takes 15 minutes before I can string together a coherent sentence this early in the morning. It’s a route we do almost every morning, roughly four kilometres of grassy trail that winds through the forest by our house. Some mornings we see a local fox and her kits, more commonly deer.
This morning, my thoughts gravitate to the Landing Strong Centre. Every day brings forth new possibilities. I’m happiest when someone new reaches out and asks to join our community. Today was a good day as Doug Allen and I worked collaboratively to create a series of workshops for Caregivers. As we take time on this Thanksgiving weekend to think of the people and events we are most grateful for, caregivers are at the front of our minds. These are the folks who stick with it, morning and night, through better and through worse, working tirelessly to support the recovery of their loved ones.
This weekend marks the launch of our caregiver campaign. Every week, we will be sending you tips and tools for managing the challenge of loving someone who has PTSD. They are the people who tirelessly continue to show up, with little expectation of thanks or acknowledgement.
No matter what news awaits me at work, I start my day with four kilometres of nature trails. Through rain, mist, mud or hail, the dogs need to go out. Through good news or bad moods, I keep moving.
The trail may stay the same, but each time I experience it differently.
Like you, I am on a journey. The work will never be finished, so I can’t put life on hold until I’m done. I’ll pace myself: working a bit on it each day. It’s through a series of repeated small steps that big things become possible.
Warmest regards for this Thanksgiving weekend. A special thanks to my family, the Landing Strong Team, and Extended Community (that’s you) for walking with me.
Connecting with Belinda
Founder Belinda Seagram, Ph.D. shares regular blog posts to inspire you during your journey.