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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

The face of courage

The face of courage

They say courage is born on the battlefield.  That may be true, but I think just as often it arises in the aftermath, when we work to face our emotions. Anyone in a service profession knows about putting a “game face” on.  You know it, showing no fear even when you are about to walk into a situation that is dangerous, frightening or threatening.  Joe Frazier knew it when walked into the ring to face Muhammad Ali, arguably one of the greatest boxers of all time.  Ali had a total of 56 professional wins, 37 of them by knockout.  So when Frazier walked in the ring, he likely knew that he had a 50% chance of being knocked unconscious.  Yet he did it anyway.  
 
Shoving our emotions aside in times of distress is important and often necessary.  It allows us to remain functional.  The challenge is knowing when and how to take our game face off, and look deeper to discover what it is that we are actually feeling.
 
In treatment groups I’ve had Special Forces Members, Police, RCMP, Firefighters, Paramedics, EOD Techs, Corrections Officers and Trauma Counsellors say the same thing.  Coming to treatment was one of the hardest, but most important things they have ever done.
 
So perhaps courage does take many forms.  The obvious ones, and the more invisible form as we all come together to regroup, recalibrating our central nervous systems, and reclaiming important aspects of self that may have been lost along the way.
 
In my mind, that is indeed the face of courage. 
 
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 meaning is what allows us to tolerate the pain

The meaning is what allows us to tolerate the pain

Every military member and first responder signs up knowing their job involves risk.  You may not know exactly what the risks are, but have a general sense that things could get very ugly.  Why do we do it?  Why expose ourselves to harmful things when we know that there’s a significant chance of personal injury?
 
Why support a family member who may be taking these risks?
 
Why would someone willingly enter a burning building, respond to a fatal motor vehicle accident, take on the responsibility of making life-or-death decisions, or be in the role of caring for those who have injured others?  
 
We do it because deep down, we believe we can make a difference. 
 
Whether it’s through direct exposure in the field, or more indirectly through the viewing of images and videos, there’s no doubt that repeated trauma exposure takes a toll.   
 
Through witnessing one another’s experiences, we’re able to appreciate the difference each person made.  We’re a community that walks with you to understand your injury and help you reclaim parts of your life that may have been lost.  
 
Come walk with us this Fall, we’re running group programs that are well-suited for both new and returning members of our team.  We’ll be sharing details on our social media pages this week so be sure to check us out on Facebook or our website
 
With gratitude, 

Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Founder, Landing Strong

The business of getting better: part 3

The business of getting better: part 3

Changing the world, one conversation at a time.

When we run programs at Landing Strong, we spend quite a bit of time discussing how to create an environment that feels comfortable and safe. Participants tell me that it’s not uncommon to walk into a community coffee group where they’re initially having a good time, only to have the mood shift once the subject of politics comes up. Suddenly the tone is angry and loud. Instead of ideas and insights forming the discussion, hard opinions become the propulsion for discussion.  Listening decreases as each person fixates on ensuring their “truth” is heard.  

 When this happens, I know it’s just a matter of time until the conversation shuts down, and the potential for insights and wisdom arising from the discussion are lost. 

Speaking truthfully without hurting feelings, writes Cheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer at Facebook, is an acquired skill.  It’s that wonderful balance between appropriateness and authenticity. 

In her book Lean In, Sandberg notes “When communicating hard truths, less is more…The ability to listen is as important as the ability to speak.”

What if we all made it our mission to seek to understand the opinions of others, without needing to be right?  How would the world change?  We may disagree with what we hear, but at least by listening we are inviting an opportunity for dialogue. Sowing the seeds of change.  If we are able to shift our focus from being heard, to accepting the uniqueness of each person’s truth, the discussion becomes richer.

I have to admit, I don’t always master this art.  But I try.

Please join me in noticing the tone and manner in which we communicate with others.  Is it inviting or overbearing? Welcoming or deflective?

As Sandberg confirms, being aware of the problem is the first step to correcting it.

Warm regards,

Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Founder, Landing Strong