What does it mean to be Canadian this year?

What does it mean to be Canadian this year?

What does it mean to be Canadian this year?

There are many things about this country that I’m proud of.  This hardly feels like a time for celebration, though, as deep penetrating sonar unearths our nations darkest secrets.  

Today, on Canada Day, I choose to focus on the beauty and diversity of our country.  I celebrate tolerance, respect and understanding.

I celebrate compassion and education.

I celebrate the richness of the culture of our First Nations people.

I celebrate a day and time when we view one another as equals, regardless of race, gender and ability.

I envision a country where all this is possible.

Warm regards,

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

How do we make a difference when the problem feels so big?

How do we make a difference when the problem feels so big?

How do we make a difference when the problem feels so big?

Over the past few weeks, the very foundation of our country has rocked with the discovery of 1,323 bodies of First Nations children at various sites across Canada.  It’s believed that there are many more yet to be found. 

I’ve hesitated to write about this.  It’s incredibly important and I don’t want to get it wrong.  How do we possibly come to terms with this level of atrocity?  The genocide of a generation of our First Nations children: are we glimpsing the ugliest part of humanity? 

I’m reminded of a discussion I had many years ago following news of the tragic shooting at Montreal’s École Polytechnique where innocent lives were taken.  During a National conference of 1000 psychologists, we sat in a room together and asked ourselves the question: How to we respond to such atrocity?  How can we prevent such horrific acts of violence from reoccurring?  There were no quick answers.  We all felt powerless.  Eventually one of the speakers stood and spoke in a tentative voice:

“I don’t have the power to change the world, but I certainly can have a significant impact on my immediate circle within my community.” 

Others chimed in:

 “If each of us has a voice and speaks out, we are 1000 strong in this room alone.  If we all speak to 100 people that’s 100,000 minds that we have the power to change.  We all have an immediate circle of influence.  If we all commit to being part of the solution, demanding change, that has to have an impact”.  

I don’t pretend to have the answers.  Nothing can make this right.  We can’t go back and undo the harm that has been done.  I was taught that Canada is a mosaic woven of many different colours and fabrics.  I believe the diversity is what provides richness to our Country. 

We don’t heal from our past by looking away.  If there is to be hope for a version of Canada where all are treated with dignity and respect, we need to witness even our nations darkest periods.  

Ignoring pain does not allow for healing.  It prolongs it.  Let’s strengthen our circles, making sure the steps forward are meaningful and lasting.

This is news that needs to be felt.  Only then can we ensure it never happens again. 

Warm regards,

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

Finding light in a dark tunnel

Finding light in a dark tunnel

We don’t reach the light through endless analysis of the dark. We reach the light by choosing the light.
               – Marianne Williamson

True confession: when I swim over dark water, I’m overcome by fear of prehistoric creatures rising from darkened depths and grabbing me.  It harkens back to days as a young girl, reading through glossy prints of terrifying prehistoric fish.  Imagine a piranha, and multiply its size and number of teeth by 100.  You get the picture.  

For some reason, if I swim with someone beside me, I’m safe.  A magical band of protection unites us and protects us from harm.

Trauma recovery is like that.  Alone, in the dark, it’s terrifying.  Together, by shining a light on it, somehow it doesn’t seem so overwhelming.

Warm regards,

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

Noticing the things that bring us joy

Noticing the things that bring us joy

The key to joy is being easily pleased.
               – Mark Nepo

Let’s take a mental vacation. You’re enjoying one of nature’s greatest views, but the person beside you is struggling, noticing instead everything that’s missing from the experience.  Perhaps it’s too hot, or too cold.  Maybe they wanted to catch the sunset but just missed it. Maybe they think of the people who are not there to share it with them. 

They are trapped in the land of expectations.

What would happen if we stopped to notice each moment without expectations?  Relinquish judgement and focus on those things, here and now, that bring us jov.

Injuries from trauma involve judgement.  Usually against ourselves, sometimes others. 

An essential aspect of recovery involves living in the here and now.  Noticing, appreciating, without judgement, all that is beautiful in our day.

Warm regards,

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

What if we embraced change

What if we embraced change

How strange that the nature of life is change, yet the nature of human beings is to resist change.
               – Elizabeth Lesser

I was speaking with a government employee some time ago.  She identified the stress she experienced working in an environment that was constantly changing.  Every year, new procedures were brought in to address workplace challenges. It struck me that she was in for a hard road, since the only predictable thing about government is change.    

I was reminded of Kodak.  Remember them?   The former photography giant who missed the digital train because they were so resistant to change. Now the Kodak name is barely recognized by the younger generations.  

Recovery and growth are all about change.  Letting go of the familiar, and embracing the unknown: being willing to view our experiences from a different perspective.  By sharing our experiences within safe communities, we allow ourselves the opportunity to view things differently.  Our world expands, and recovery becomes real.  

Warm regards,

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

Beauty sometimes lies in the hardest moments

Beauty sometimes lies in the hardest moments

To listen is to lean in, softly, with a willingness to be changed by what we hear.
              – Mark Nepo

I love what I do.  Perhaps it’s because every day offers the opportunity to learn something new.  If I approach a situation thinking I know the answer, this can prevent me from truly seeing, listening, and understanding.  

In truth, the more I learn, the more I realize how much there is that I really don’t know. 

There’s something incredibly freeing in that. 

It’s often in the hardest moments that we discover life’s true beauty: courage, compassion, sacrifice, and love.  I want to lean in, softly, with a willingness to be changed by what am witnessing, and hearing.

Warm regards,

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