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We’ve got this

We’ve got this

The wonderful thing about starting a New Year is that it’s a fresh start.  

This is the time of year when we reflect on who’ve we’ve been this past year, and who we want to be in the year ahead.  The ritual of making New Year’s resolutions is a cultural tradition that normalizes the act of publically declaring our intention to change- identifying the ways in which we hope to grow, and asking those around us to support us. 

Implicit in this is the notion that change is more likely to occur when we don’t do it alone

The trick is starting small and doing it in good company.  Together, we’ve got this.

Consider making us part of your change. Give us a call to see which programs might be best for you. There’s always room for one more.

Warm regards,

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

The surprising face of courage

The surprising face of courage

In this line of work, I’m honoured to hear countless stories of courage in the face of adversity. Recently, as part of our Identity and Transition course, veterans and first responders have been putting pen to paper.  Led by our inspired writer Karalee Ann Clerk, participants who claim they can’t write step forward into the spotlight, bearing their hearts to the group. A sacred circle has formed, woven of trust, strength, compassion and courage.  Each week my heart grows as I view their lives through the lens of their experiences.  I mentioned to the group that if anyone was willing to share their weekly writing with the greater Landing Strong community, I’d be happy to publish it.  One of our Veterans (and also a former Corrections Officer) stepped to the plate. 

Thank you R.B. for trusting us with this piece of your heart:

I remember not seeing my father’s car. It was a fire engine red 1965 Pontiac Parisienne. A boat. A convertible boat. He loved that car, and that car was gone. I was 7 or 8 and had just returned from school. My mom told me matter of factly, “Your fathers gone and he is not coming back.” 

At that young age I knew that despite how bad things had been at home and judging by my family’s current trajectory the dissolution of my parent’s marriage meant things were about to get a whole heck of a lot worse. I was terrified for myself and my siblings. 

It was within this moment that I first learned how to numb fear.

I used to think courage is when you think taking an action may hurt you, but you do it anyways because it is in line with your values. It’s pushing yourself through something despite fear.

When I learned how to turn off fear I lost with it my sense of courage. How could I experience courageousness myself when I wouldn’t allow myself to be afraid? Looking back now I wonder if this is part of the reason I found myself in such a mess to begin with. It makes sense – nothing I did could appropriately scare me.

 I’ve always been a risk taker. I used to think it was just who I was. I needed a little something extra to get a kick out of life. Were all of these risks really just a scared child trying to get back his sense of fear?

Masking emotions allowed me to excel as a grownup. I joined the army and really found my place. Here was a place where my risk taking could be rewarded.

Trauma followed me out of my childhood and into the army. Looking back it was as if we were marching in lockstep together. After several major events I knew my psyche needed out and I released after a short but exciting three years.

The experimenting that began with alcohol in my early teens turned into a full blown addiction by my early twenties with a trip into rehab for a month. Eventually fate would land me in prison – as a correctional officer where I spent nine years of my life deep-diving into the never ending well of despair that is our criminal justice system.

Of everything that happened to me, in my childhood, the army and working at the jail, I never considered anything I did courageous. How could I. I was never afraid.

This scares me though. Writing this down, wondering how all of you are going to react. Will you accept me? Will you shun me? Will I even read it?

I feel courageous when I share with people. It excites me in a good way. Will something I say resonate? Will the words I speak ignite a feeling in you? One you haven’t felt in a while, or haven’t been able to express?

I was only able to go back to the memory of my father through years of introspection and therapy. It was through the act of recovery that I was able to see just how courageous I was. Not in that moment as a child. Not because I survived all of the perils life could throw at me. But because I could take that moment, that moment I turned off that emotion of fear, and I could have it back. 

Sometimes memories can be about something that you didn’t see. Like a red convertible in the driveway. I can go back there now.

I can tell that little boy whose father just left him that everything is going to be alright, and the courageous part about my life is now I’m telling it to you.

  • R.B.


Warm regards,

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

Three quick tips to stay right side up in times of stress

Three quick tips to stay right side up in times of stress

These are complicated times, and we’re all facing increased levels of uncertainty.  Background stress is much higher than usual and it may be harder to unwind at the end of the day.  Here are three quick tips to help keep you right side up:

  1. Do less

Instead of opting for a complete home renovation, try doing a jigsaw puzzle while listening to your favorite music.  Take joy in simple things: like the satisfaction of a perfectly chopped pile of wood, or teaching your dog a new trick. “Less is more” is the new mantra as we work to keep ourselves in balance.

  1. Just say “no” to social overload

Factor this increased stress load into your decision making when deciding how much to take on.  This is a time for increased boundary setting.  Do you really want a three hour zoom family reunion following a week overloaded with on line meetings?  Consider dropping in for just a brief time or opting instead for simple in-person social gatherings like coffee with a friend. Get comfortable thanking people for invitations, but letting them know you are focussing on self-care and re-charging during down time.  

  1. Limit screen time. 

 If your sleep is disrupted, it’s a sign that you’re brain isn’t getting the relax time it needs.  Zoom gatherings and online meetings are more mentally fatiguing than seeing people in person.  Try picking a completely junky novel to browse through before sleeping.  Enjoy a long soak in the tub or flip through your latest car magazine.  Consider having technology free weekends, and please, take off your watch that sends emails to you 24/7.  Your central nervous system will thank you.
 
If you are thinking of making changes on a larger scale, consider joining our Healthy Living program starting in November.  You’ll have a chance to reflect on what is most important to you, ensuring the life you’re living is the one you want. 

Warm regards,

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

A waste of lime

A waste of lime

It’s amazing how two people can hear the same thing but interpret it in entirely different ways.

Joe and I were at the cottage recently, and he shared a line from a country music song he’d heard recently that he found amusing.  The song is by Ingrid Andress, entitled “Waste of Lime”.

“That’s disgusting!” I exclaimed.

“What, no it’s not, it’s funny” Joe protested.

“I don’t understand what’s funny about it” I respond, looking at my husband with a tight feeling in the pit of my stomach.

“Well, she’s singing about the fact that she and a fellow shared tequila, and at the end of the evening, he left her, leaving her feeling that it had all been “Just a waste of lime and a waste of time” Joe explained.

“Oh,” I respond, with a sigh of relief “I thought she was singing about the fact that someone had been killed.. but they weren’t  even worth the lime that had been put over the body”

Joe and I started at each other.

How is it possible that something as simple as lyrics to a song could have such different meanings?

Joe immediately understood the lime reference related to drinking. 

After years working at the federal penitentiary and reading through forensic files, the same ingredients had very different meanings for me.

Different experiences, and different lenses for interpreting the world.

It makes a huge difference doing work with people with shared experiences.  They’ve been there.  They get it.  What may seem dark in one context, is just business as usual in the next.  

Come to a place where you’ll be understood, whatever lens you’re viewing the world through.  We’re offering a number of exciting fall programs. Sign up  now in order to avoid disappointment.  Seats are filling quickly.

Warm regards,

Measuring growth

Measuring growth

On the surface, a young seedling looks fragile. In fact, it has likely spent a good deal of energy and time growing roots, and building strength even before it breaks the earth’s surface.

Trauma recovery is like that.  Chances are, a great deal of growth happens even before anyone notices.  When people come for their first group session or counselling appointment, they have usually started a change process even before walking through the door.  Merely deciding to make a change is a step in the right direction.

You may be unsure if you are ready to join a group, but the fact that you are starting to think about it is evidence that you may be further along than you think.  Some people may get a new plant and think it is just beginning.  In truth, we know that it has already had to prove it’s resilience by making it this far.

We invite you to imagine how it might feel to sit in a group with others who understand what it took for you to get here, as they have had to do the same.

A strand of trees grows stronger than a single seedling. 

This fall we are offering a number of groups. Something for everyone, irrespective of where they are in their recovery.


If you’re thinking you may be ready to join a group this September, give us a call.  

We’d love to hear from you.

Warm regards,

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

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