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The joy of intentional living

The joy of intentional living

Have you ever placed a glass upside down in the sink while washing dishes?  Sometimes, it gets stuck.  A powerful force of suction holds it to the bottom.  If you are able to pry it up, water rushes in, quickly filling the vacuum or void that was created.

Most of us are experiencing significant upheaval in our lives due to COVID-19.  The hustle and bustle of daily routine is replaced by a strange new reality.  Maybe you are trying to work but struggling to find a quite space to do so.  Perhaps you have not been able to work or pursue your regular daily activities and find yourself stuck at home more than you would like.  One of the challenges we face is knowing how to intentionally fill the time so the default isn’t just whatever happens to be close by.  Hmmm, the gym is closed, so I’ll get a snack instead.  You see where I’m going with this?

If we are not intentional about how we spent our time, we run the risk of the vacuum being filled by whatever happens to be around.  It might be video games, Netflix marathons, excessive eating, alcohol consumption or cannabis use. Maybe you normally go out and socialize, but now you are finding yourself stuck at home.     

There has never before been a better time for intentional living.  What is that you might ask?  It’s the idea of structuring your day so that it falls in line with your values and beliefs.  It ensures you are doing what you can to feel pleased with the way you’ve spent your time.

Me, I’ve increased my creative time.  I’m painting up a storm, having fun replicating beautiful patterns on rocks.  I am starting a series called “Napkin prints”, copying beautiful patterns from napkins onto smooth rocks that I found at the beach. It gets me outside rock hunting, and is both relaxing and enjoyable copying beautiful pictures while listening to great tunes. Simple mindful practices such as this can go a long way towards restoring calm and a sense of order in a chaotic time.  I’ve made a short video to show you, which I’ll post below.  For those of you interested in learning more, we still have a few spots in our Healthy Living program, starting April 16.  Instead of meeting at our office, all of our courses will be offered online, and we’ll arrange for you to have a box of supplies needed in advance.  No fears, we are quarantining our supplies as we speak to ensure that they are germ free, both after we purchase them, and before sending them to you.  Even though these groups are being held virtually, spaces will remain limited.

Warm wishes,

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

Spring cleaning your emotional closet

Spring cleaning your emotional closet

When I was a little girl, I was sure that there were monsters in the basement.  I remember running full speed up the stairs, away from the dark cellar so that the monsters didn’t get me.  They were huge, scary and dangerous.  Avoiding it kept me afraid.  Had I faced them, I would have discovered it was just the furnace making a weird noise.  Slightly unsettling but not scary at all. Certainly not unmanageable.

Sometimes when we don’t want to feel something, it’s easier to compartmentalize our emotions.  We run away from them so that they can’t hurt us.  The problem with this is that our fear of them is usually greater than the pain they can cause us.  We feed our fears by looking away.  They get their power from silence and being ignored or hidden.  

By talking about them, we take away their power.

This May, we’re offering a repeat of our trauma program: Your Past is Not your Future: Master Strategies to Overcome Trauma.  For those of you who have already taken this course, try Mind Body Health and Recovery, an exciting new program co-facilitated by Naturopathic Doctor Adrienne Wood. Program size is limited, so sign up now to avoid disappointment. 

Warm wishes,

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

Is recovery from PTSD possible?

Is recovery from PTSD possible?

It’s not uncommon to hear people say that there’s no recovery from PTSD.  

Well, in my mind, that’s simply not the case.

It’s true that you’ll never go back to being exactly the same person you were before you were injured.  But when you think about it, how many of us are ever the same as we used to be?  As we learn and grow in life, we can’t help but grow from our experiences.  What I’m referring to is post traumatic growth.

Sure, life might have been easier if I hadn’t logged seven years working in one of Canada’s largest penitentiaries.  I might not have been injured.  But then I wouldn’t be the person I am today, and I’m kinda liking her.

Don’t know about you but I certainly don’t want to go back to being my high school self (although the flare jeans with Canada flag inserts were quite fetching).

I definitely do not want to relive the angst of my twenties.

I may have a few more bumps, and scars on me now, but they serve as a testament to the fact that I have truly lived.  I have a massive scar across my right knee that I got while building a school in Tanzania.  I’m proud of it, and in no way want to erase that experience.  

If I work too hard my muscles flare up – reminders of the need to pace myself better. Areas where I have previously been injured will always be vulnerable during times of stress.  They serve as my personal barometers for health.  I thank these symptoms for gently reminding me when I’m not paying close enough attention to my needs or limits.

I guess I’m saying that I work hard each day to keep the superwoman cape in the closet. It’s not easy because it feels oh so comfortable.   I try to simply focus on having a good day, going to bed at night feeling satisfied with whatever small thing I might have been able to accomplish.

So, it’s true, you will never be the same person you were before.  It is possible, though, to become someone capable of living a rich and full life, wiser for all the things you have experienced.

Warm wishes,

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

Recovery isn’t linear

Recovery isn’t linear

High performance athletes can’t always do what’s expected.  Occasionally, they might have a minor sprain or injury that needs nurturing.  In the case of a major setback, they might be on the sidelines for a longer period of time.  This doesn’t mean they aren’t a top performer.  It simply means that no matter what we’re good at, or what we’re trying to work on, none of us can be good at it all of the time.  
 
Sometimes when we have a setback, it might be easy to doubt whether we’ve made any progress at all.  
 
Maybe the good mood I had last month wasn’t real…”
 
I feel like I’m back at square one”
 
I thought I was doing so much better, what does it mean now that I’m really struggling?”
 
As in any journey, the path has peaks and valleys.  The emotions you feel at any one point in time will never be a constant.  True, the good times will pass… but so will the bad. 
 
The most important thing to remember in those moments of self-doubt is that’s the time to reach out.  It’s totally counter-intuitive, but a certain way to turn things around quickly.  When we most want to retreat, that’s actually when we need to advance.  
 
Don’t wait until you’re feeling good to join one of our groups… it would be a very empty room if we all took that approach.  Take a look at the programs we’re offering in the new year and see if there’s one that seems right for you.  There’s a seat waiting for you. 

Warm regards, 

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

Keeping ourselves hidden

Keeping ourselves hidden

During a recent training trip in Quebec, I took advantage of a warm afternoon by taking a stroll down a remote country road.  At the end of the road, the sound of a trickling waterfall caught my attention. Drawn towards it, I spied a small blue door supported by weathered stone pillars.  On the door was a sign declaring “Propriete Privee,” or private property.  Surrounding the small waterfall were five lines of barbed wire, ensuring that no one enter the property.  
 
What a shame, I thought to myself, that such a special spot be barred from view by others.  The owners may have had good reason to guard their property – perhaps trespassers had abused the privilege of visiting.  I realized though, that those past incidents served to form the rationale for a permanent barrier.  The gate served not only to keep people out, it also prevented people from coming in.
 
It isn’t uncommon that we build barriers to keep ourselves safe following trauma.  Whether it’s imaginary walls or barbed wire, the thought of letting others in can be threatening.  I have no doubt that when we build the walls we do so because they are needed.  How do we know, though, when it’s safe to take them down?
 
Joining a treatment group offers a safe way to connect with others.  You’ll never be asked to share anything you aren’t ready to share, and we offer a structured and supportive way of exploring topics that we hope you’ll find useful on your journey to health. We still have a few seats left in the “Stop Faking Good & Start Feeling Good” group, please call to sign up soon to avoid disappointment.  Our upcoming Community Connection days allow a more informal way of connecting and having fun.  Running over three Fridays in October, the first one on October 4th is for Veterans and First Responders who have taken programs at Landing Strong.  The second (being held on October 11th) is opened to those who have taken group programs with us and to their partners, spouses and others who have been important supports.  On October 18th, we welcome anyone who has taken a Landing Strong Program as well as any Veteran, Military Member or First Responder who might be thinking of taking a program, but aren’t sure and want a chance to test the waters.  We are offering these Community Connection Days free of charge, just give us a phone call to let us know you’re coming.
 
Warm regards, 

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