Love letters to our veterans

Love letters to our veterans

Love letters to our veterans

This is a hard week for many veterans and their families. During training exercises, deployments and times of conflict, unspeakable things take place that are not readily shared. Although others may not know the exact details of what happened, please know that there is an acute awareness within the community of the cost of service, both to you and your families.This week, Kristy from Serenity Acres brought in a bundle of letters written by students from the West Hants Education Centre for members of our Veteran community. We have included excepts below, copied exactly as written:“Thank you for your service for our wonderful country. You are the reason I am able to find happiness and security in my life! I wish you the same happiness and security because you deserve it.”“We see you. We hear you. We thank you.”“Thank you for your serves!”“I hope you know we care. We understand that you have sacrificed your lives for us and we are so thoughtful for what you guys and girls did for us. Lest we forget.”“Thank you for allowing everyone to live in peace without too much risk of war. I want to let you know that you are not alone and there are support programs you can join to talk to for support.”“At West Hants Education Centre, we have educated students about the sacrifice and service you have given for our country. You are an important part of our history and our current society today.”“Students and Staff at West Hants Education Centre want to thank you for your service. Your unmatched sacrifice is why many people are able to live the lives they lead. Thank you, WHEC”I am told that leadership is best exemplified through service. Our veteran community stands as a strong example of this, its members having unquestioningly put themselves at risk so that others might be safe.  We thank you for the powerful positive role you have played in shaping this country.Today we remember military members and veterans, both past and present.Thank you for your service,

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

Triggers or glimmers? It’s all a matter of attention

Triggers or glimmers? It’s all a matter of attention

Triggers or glimmers? It’s all a matter of attention

PTSD is a condition where our central nervous systems are constantly scanning for potential threats. It’s our brains’ way of keeping us safe. The problem is, it’s easy to miss the good stuff. By hyper-focusing on danger, we overlook signs of safety.

We may have a good sense of triggers, those are the people, places or things that create a sense of danger or unease.  In contrast, Trauma Specialist Deb Dana introduced the term glimmer to describe experiences that foster a sense of safety.  Glimmers are small moments that help shift our system towards calm. 

This month in our Maintaining Health group, we worked on recognizing Glimmers. It’s really about intention. Noticing both sides of the equation.

Hurricane Fiona created challenges for many. It also brought out the best as communities bonded together to help one another. A tree may have fallen on my veranda, but the plentiful rain produced the best crop of carrots I have ever had. I’ve never seen such abundance. That’s my glimmer.

If you catch yourself focusing on the threat or problem, take a mindful moment to balance the equation. Notice the simple things that bring you peace: the crisp fall air, colourful leaves, or pumpkin people dancing on the lawns of Kentville.

Don’t forget to enjoy the glimmers.Warm Regards,

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

Things I am grateful for

Things I am grateful for

Things I am grateful for

Today is National Day for Truth and Reconciliation: A day dedicated to honouring survivors of the residential schools as well as those children who never returned home. It’s a time to acknowledge the painful impact these dark periods of our history have had, and continue to have on individuals, families and communities. Public commemoration of the tragic history and ongoing impacts of residential schools has been identified as a vital component of the reconciliation process.

I am incredibly grateful that the words Truth and Reconciliation are given the weight they deserve and are becoming so deeply imbedded within our cultural understanding. We may be powerless to change the past, but as a society we are able to take the time to fully understand the historical impacts of our actions, take stock of where we stand today, and plan for an enlightened future.

On a side note, and in no way to detract from the importance of this day, I also wanted to express gratitude for all of the first responders, hydro and emergency workers who worked tirelessly over the past week to restore power, order and safety to our communities following Hurricane Fiona. My son Albert lives in the 40-unit Dartmouth apartment building that was emergency evacuated in the middle of the night during the hurricane. It was an unsettling time, but the impression that he is left with was the kindness, generosity and positive spirit of neighbours, first responders and volunteers alike. He spoke of the efficiency of an emergency response system that organized warm busses for evicted residents to stay in rather than standing in the raging storm; the kindness and compassion of the Red Cross Workers who handed him a blanket and showed him a cot in the Sportsplex at four in the morning; and the good humour of his neighbours who jokingly commented “they had always wanted a pool, too bad it was in the living room when they had hoped to have it in their bedroom”. In true Nova Scotia style, they meet adversity with good humour and a positive spirit.

I am happy to witness the kindness of strangers, generosity of spirit, and willingness of society to undergo a process of self reflection, ensuring all members of our community feel welcomed, respected and cared for.

Warm regards,

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

The medicine of meditation

The medicine of meditation

The medicine of meditation

In The Art of Doing Nothing, Veronique Vienne notes the word meditate has the same root as the word medicine.  All you have to do is look at Buddha to know that he is indeed a happy man.  I mean, it takes effort to smile that much.

Clearing our minds of the traffic jam of daily life is no simple feat.  In fact, few people can maintain a calm composure for more than a couple of minutes.  The moment I think I’m getting there, I suddenly remember the grocery items I have to pick up on the way home… or a report I have to write… or what I’m going to have for dinner.

Veronique Vienne writes that, paradoxically, it is when we accept that we can’t meditate that the meditation starts to work.  Instead of being a success-oriented venture, the practice becomes a humble reminder of how difficult it is for any of us to stay in touch with ordinary reality.

My strategy over this next month is to do a small drawing meditation each day.  Many of you have joined in our artistic sessions at Maker’s where we’ve learned to do just that.  The focus isn’t on creating good art.  It’s simply on creating.

How wonderful would it be for us to draw or write together.  Our September Identity and Transition program uses meaningful discussion and creative practices to create opportunities for exploring who you are beyond your uniform.  If you haven’t yet signed up it’s not too late.  Just give us a call or drop Julie a line.

Warm regards,

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

Celebration of Unsung Heroes

Celebration of Unsung Heroes

Celebration of Unsung Heroes

Last week we held a celebration for veteran and first responders who have completed The Landing Strong Foundation and Work Force Reintegration Programs. We worked hard to make the event special, but I must confess I was holding my breath, not knowing how many people would come. Turns out, the day was a resounding success, with more than 40 veterans and first responders attending, many of whom brought family members.

A few highlights of the day included guests being greeted by grade six members of the 254 King’s-Edgehill School Highland Cadet Corps under the direction of Major Keith Hynes; being treated to heartfelt renditions of “You are not alone” and “This is me” by the King’s-Edgehill School choir, led by Stephanie Fillman; and most importantly, the presentation of our graduates, thanked by Board Chair Chrystal Fuller and MP Kody Blois.

Before coming, many of our graduates voiced a concern that they did not feel like heroes, they were simply people who did their jobs. I pointed out that we were not celebrating the work they did in the past in their official roles (although that certainly contained many heroic moments), but rather, the ongoing heroic work they are doing now in recovery. As our celebrated guests listened to the contribution of other members of their community, it was impossible for them not to realize that they were part of a very special and unique group of highly skilled professionals who had dedicated their entire lives to the safety, health and protection of country and community. All are continuing to give, continually asking themselves the question “How can I help?” It felt a bit like a superhero convention that we had the privilege of attending.

Veteran’s Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay, PC, MP has been a firm supporter of Landing Strong. Although he was unable to attend in person, he sent his best wishes to “our country’s brave women and men in uniform, who have sacrificed so much so that we can live in a more peaceful world.

Regarding his recent visit to Landing Strong he added:

“I would also like to thank the group of Veterans who attended that evening for sharing their stories and experiences. All Canadians owe them a debt of gratitude for their dedicated service to our nation, and my department is committed to supporting their mental well-being.”

Alan Doyle from the Dollar A Day Foundation also sent his best, congratulating our graduates for their dedicated service.

We are happy to celebrate our Spring Program Graduates, whether they were able to come that day or not and look forward to future community events and celebrations.

Warm regards,

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

Noticing the tiny perfect things

Noticing the tiny perfect things

I recently watched a charming movie on Netflix called A map of tiny perfect things.  A young couple, caught in their own personal ground hog day, struggle to find meaning when every day seems a repetition of the previous one.  Somewhat like waking up each morning to hear the COVID report. They hatch an ingenious scheme to devote themselves to finding tiny perfect moments that exist within the fabric of each day.  

I love this idea.  Instead of focussing on things that can’t be controlled, I want to form my own list of tiny perfect moments.  It’s easy to miss them.   Sometimes we have to look very closely to see.  

I’ll share one from yesterday.  A young man in his late teens is at the Big Stop struggling to get his debit card working. He’s filled his gas tank, but can’t pay for it because his card won’t work.  The cashier mentions that she is supposed to call the RCMP in such a circumstance.  Immediately a woman in line steps up and says “don’t do that, how much is the bill?  I’ll get it for him”.

Embarrassed that I didn’t think of it, I offer to cover half.  Turns out the bill is only $20.

That could be the end of the story, but it isn’t.  As I am pulling out of the station I see the young man waving his arms and running after me.  He explains that he got his card working and wanted to give me back the $10 I had chipped in, insisting that I take it.  He was articulate, thoughtful and appreciative.

What a beautiful tiny perfect moment to start this week’s collection.

In group we have the opportunity to witness many tiny perfect moments.  Moments when people listen to one another without judgement.  Notes of support that are offered after a difficult share.  Celebratory cheers when there has been an accomplishment.  Or simple quite head nots of understanding when a group member shares something they are struggling with.

There are still two seats left in our Healthy Living Group starting next week.  It’s a chance to ensure the life you are living reflects the person you want to be. Give us a call today if you’d like to join.

Warm regards,

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