I committed to ensuring my work is filled with creativity and joy. Today marks a special part of that with the launch of our first veteran/first responder day treatment program. The program is full, and Mackenzie has been madly cooking chilli and baking wonderful treats to ensure that everyone feels welcomed and well cared for. We’ve run two caregiver workshops now, and are thrilledby the response. It’s such an incredible feeling knowing that a group of people who come together as strangers can so quickly form meaningful connections as they discover the strength of shared experience.
As Doug and I led the Caregiver workshops, we were struck by what an incredibly powerful and resilient group of people they were. In addition to their caregiver roles, all lead very rich and full lives in their home communities. They wear regular clothing, but in our eyes, looked very much like superheroes.
By the time you read this, the important work we set out to do today will have begun. I salute the courage it takes to come forward and register for a program. I commit to do everything in my power to ensure the experience is both positive and welcoming. It is such an honour to be able to walk on this journey with such a special community.
Wishing you all the best for a warm weekend.
Regards from the entire Landing Strong Team,
Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych. Founder, Landing Strong
It was a cold and windy day as ten brave souls made their way to the first in the series of caregiver workshops. No doubt anxious about coming to a new place a meeting new people, the group quickly formed bonds that transcended differences that existed between them.
What struck me the most was the strength and resiliency exhibited by each individual. We never know what life’s going to throw our way, but ultimately it’s our ability to get back up after we’re knocked down that defines us. I had the honour of witnessing courage, strength, unconditional support, and compassion among the members of the group. This workshop is just the first of many. Keep an eye on your inbox and our social media pages to see what exciting things are in store.
As promised, we have sent our Caregiver PDF to your inbox. Next week, we will be forwarding you additional resources to help you get through the holidays in a safe and healthy manner.
Due to the overwhelming response for Care for the Caregiver Workshop: Supporting & Thriving, we are offering it again on January 7th for those who didn’t make it in the first time around. Contact us to register today.
A special program New Year, New You designed for Military Members, Veterans and First Responders, will be offered on January 11th. Set yourself up for success in 2019. Feel free to call us for more information.
On Saturday night, my husband Joe and I had the pleasure of attending the Festival of Trees in Halifax. This black-tie event is a gala fundraiser for the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia. Each year, a forest of stunning trees is admired and auctioned off.
Joe and I have a tradition of bidding on the tree that is beautiful but isn’t being noticed. It often sits there quietly, waiting to be claimed, but for some reason is overlooked. Over the years, we have amassed quite a forest. With the opening of Landing Strong, I thought it would be nice to take one of our trees to the new centre. When I brought this up to Joe, I could see evidence of the love in his heart for all of our trees. Parting with any one of them would not be possible. The only option was to find another evergreen in need of a home.
We were successful. When I saw the tree, I immediately knew it belonged in our office and would find a home with us.
Along with the tree, we hope that many people might take root in our community. Like the enchanted forest, we will create something magical.
In the spirit of new growth, we would like to tell you about what’s in store for you over the next few months:
Today marks the launch of our program, “Care for the Caregiver”. This is the first in a series of day-long workshops. Don’t worry if you missed the first one, each is offered as a stand-alone.
In the month of December, keep an eye on your inbox for useful tips around managing the holidays in a healthy and low-stress manner.
Early in the new year we will be unrolling a menu of programs designed to support you on your journey of health and recovery.Connect with us onsocial media for news on these exciting initiatives.
Ps. Special thanks to Compass Group Canada for including us in this special evening.
It’s not uncommon that we see the best of people in the harshest conditions. It shows up in a number of ways: volunteers laying sandbags to fight floodwaters; communities taking in strangers to offer shelter from a storm; or in more extreme conditions, bi-standers risking their lives to protect or defend people they don’t even know.
It’s those critical moments when people show up when it counts the most. When we think back to those times, it is the moments of courage and compassion that strike us the most.
They say that North America is consumed by the search for happiness. Research studies reveal that it is, in fact, purpose, meaning, and social connection that are most important.
If you are reading this, chances are you are in some form of community service: military, policing, firefighting, corrections, paramedical, or medical. Perhaps your service is supporting those who have taken on these difficult roles. We take on these challenges for different reasons: to create something better for ourselves; to establish purpose or meaning in our lives; or even to be of service to our country. What’s interesting, though, is that ultimately when people are under fire it isn’t their country they are worried about – it’s the person standing next to them. It’s in social connection that we find the greatest meaning.
We all need someone who will have our back, in good times or bad. We all need a tribe, a family, or a group to call our own. Sometimes it takes something awful happening for us to figure this out.
Landing Strong is about creating a tribe: a place where we are all connected by our united sense of meaning and purpose. Our goal is to create opportunity for connection and movement for those who are tired of being where they are at and ready to move forward.
This weekend, while at the cottage, my son Kyle came into the kitchen munching a Jos Louis.
“Where did you get that?” I asked, surprised to see it.
“The back of the cupboard,” he grinned.
“Funny, I don’t remember buying them.” Needing to see this for myself, I rummaged through the back of the cupboard. I soon realized why I didn’t remember buying them… the expiry date was September 28, 2016.
“Stop… that’s two years old!” I warned.
“And never tasted better!” he responded laughing.
Funny, not many things in life are like that. Most things decline with age. There are of course exceptions: fine wines, good cheese, and Jos Louis are among them. Bread found in IMP’s (military rations) are perhaps another. I’ll never quite understand how something can be deemed edible but non-degradable.
Doug Allen, former infantry Sergeant, Program Manager and Social Worker with the Landing Strong Team, is definitely someone who holds his own (and in fact keeps getting better) over time.
Doug spent 17 years in the Canadian Forces, stationed with the Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. He has conducted Peace support operations in Bosnia, combat operations in Afghanistan, and various domestic operations here in Canada. Since returning from Afghanistan in 2008, he has been working with ill and injured Canadian Force members helping them to overcome trauma and reclaim their lives.
Doug’s approach to trauma recovery focuses on reducing the ‘charge’ of fight/flight or freeze, and helping to break out of survival mode. He believes that every person has the strength to become well, as long as they are in an environment that inspires and empowers change.
You’ll recognize Doug by the twinkle in his eye, his quick grin, and his cool tattoos. We welcome his leadership and inspired energy. Hmmm, now that I think about it, he doesn’t seem to age… I wonder Doug, do you by any chance eat Jos Louis?
One of the physical hazards of being a psychologist is that much of my working life consists of sitting. It’s literally killing me… hence part of my motivation to create a program that is engaging and physically active. I want to move with you.
Have I mentioned that my family is hard core into fitness? I just returned from a vacation out West where we participated in the Great Canadian Death Race, followed by a back country hiking trip through the Rockies. It’s the Seagram idea of fun. What is the Great Canadian Death Race you ask? It’s 125 km of mountainous terrain covered by a team of five people over a 24 hour period. No, I did not compete… I’m not at that level. I was the support crew.
My daughter Mackenzie, the Landing Strong Director of Wellbeing and Community Engagement, played a vital role with the team, tackling a 38 km mountainous section. She killed it. A graduate from Acadia University with a psychology and nutrition double major, she practices what she preaches. She represented Acadia’s Cross Country Running team for four years, last year making it to Nationals. She has also competed at the Canada Games representing Nova Scotia in a Biathlon; and in her free time summited Mount Kilimanjaro twice. In her down time, she works on getting me to reach for hummus instead of cookies. Shall we say, it’s a work in progress. I’m grateful that we have someone so uniquely qualified to help us get active and engaged! Mackenzie is setting the food plan for Landing Strong, coordinating community activities, and planning outdoor adventures for us. She is also generating much of the health promotion social media content that we are putting out over Facebook and Instagram. The quirky sense of humour… that’s her. I hope you will join me in welcoming her to the Landing Strong Team.
Do I sound like a proud parent? Well I guess I am, but I am also incredibly proud of the huge talent we have assembled in the Landing Strong Team. It’s bursting with passion, expertise, enthusiasm, and commitment. Over the next few weeks, I will be introducing you to various members of the team, so that you have the opportunity to get to know each of us on a more personal level. Over time, perhaps you will share with us details about your journey, so that we might walk together.
[In the team pic attached L to R: Dale Block, Joe Seagram, Kaitlin Proksch, Kyle Seagram, and Mackenzie Seagram.]