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Knowing when you’ve arrived

Knowing when you’ve arrived

When I was young, my parents would take me and my three siblings on road trips to visit the East Coast.  We loved exploring Nova Scotia’s beaches and would spend hours looking for ‘beach treasures’ that had been left behind by the tide.  It’s a long drive from Toronto, and eager to start our holiday, we tried to make the trip with as few detours as possible.  

On one of these trips, we were on a remote road in Nova Scotia when my younger sister complained of feeling nauseous.
“Are we there yet?”  she asked, holding her belly.

If we were smart, we would have pulled over quickly. Unfortunately, we didn’t.  Minutes later, all I can say is that we all got an unpleasant lesson in wind velocity and splatter patterns.  

Had we paced ourselves better, this likely could’ve been avoided.  Taking needed breaks is very important, even though it makes the trip a bit longer.

I recently spoke to my good friend Finka about pacing myself at work, and I was wondering aloud about when I’d know when I’d “arrived”.  At what point would I get that sense of accomplishment that the job was done, and I could take my foot off the gas for a while and not have a never ending “to do” list in my head.

“Ah, that’s the myth,” she smiled wryly, “It doesn’t matter how successful you are, in any business, each success brings more challenges.  Challenge is the one thing that’s constant”

I thought long and hard about this.  I’ve been operating on the principle that one day, I will arrive.  My job will be done.  I realize now that life simply isn’t like that.  The more I do, the more I open the possibility for more to be done.

So what if recovery is like that?  It’s a steady stream of building, growing and understanding.  Each day we evolve into a better version of ourselves, whether we have PTSD or not.  If that’s the case, the need for pacing becomes incredibly important.  Maybe the point is not arriving, but the journey itself.  I’ll need to be sure to stop and enjoy the view, taking a breather when needed.  

What if we remind ourselves to take those precious moment to appreciate the little things.  Thoughtful interactions, humorous moments, small victories.  These are indeed the stuff life is made of.

Warm wishes,

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

The things I’m thankful for

The things I’m thankful for

I like to take Thanksgiving literally.  A time for reflection, and gratitude.

The internet and news remind us that there’s a lot wrong with the world.
This weekend I plan to turn it off.
Instead, I want to think of the many things that I’m thankful for. 
Simple things, nothing earthshattering…

A perfect latte on a cold day

The tantalizing smell of a roasting turkey

The good company of family and friends 

Sun rays glistening off a water’s surface

The cry of a newborn baby

Crisp fall air and brilliantly coloured trees.

Picking perfect apples on a sunny Saturday morning.
Join me in thoughts of gratitude and plenty,
Warm thoughts and Happy Thanksgiving 

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

Love your muffin top

Love your muffin top

As I view the dark days of winter in my rear view mirrors and think about the months ahead, I find myself contemplating bathing suit season.  That’s right, the dreaded time of year when we’re held accountable for our mid-winter indulgences.  I admit it, I put on a few pounds.  My stomach isn’t flat the way I want it to be.  Could it be encroachment of the dreaded Muffin Top?

I found myself defaulting to considering quick weight loss strategies, accompanied by uncharitable thoughts about myself and unkind words about my body.  “There is absolutely no reason,” I think, frustrated with myself, “why I shouldn’t look exactly like I did in my twenties.  I just need more discipline!”  I seem to be overlooking the fact that I’ve had a few kids and it’s thirty years later.

Okay, I’m a psychologist, I should know better.  Enduring change is built on love and compassion, not hatred.  History holds countless examples.

But I’m still human. It was Mackenzie, my daughter, and our Landing Strong Director of Community Engagement and Wellbeing who reminded me of this.  I made a comment about being displeased with my muffin top, to which she replied:

“Remember, the top of the muffin is the best part”.

The wisdom of these words struck deep, for I know in my heart that I am in the best years of my life. Instead of internally criticizing, I’ll focus on practicing loving compassion.  A person who loves her body cares for it, exercising it regularly and nourishing it with whole foods and a rainbow of colour.  A person who struggles with their body doesn’t connect with it or use it much, viewing food as the enemy.  This makes enduring change very difficult.

I think our relationship with our bodies very much reflects our relationship with ourselves and with life in general.  With courage, love, and compassion, we’re able to leave the dark days of winter behind.

Stuck in the dark corner of judgement and shame, we remain immobile. Change escapes us.
I’ll think of you all as I wander the nature trails with my dogs, enjoying the buds of spring and bursts of colour.  I won’t focus on what I don’t want, but on what I desire, and allow that path to gently guide me forward.
Partners in recovery,

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

Old traditions, new routines

Old traditions, new routines

I have a confession to make. I love Christmas, it’s the simple things that make it special really…like the smell of my mother’s traditional shortbread recipe filling the house as we play good tunes and decorate cookies together. Although my mother is gone, the smell reminds me of her love. Or watching cheesy Christmas movies together and participating in family fitness bootcamps. It’s a time when we all take time away from our busy lives to connect. My kids will come home, we’ll cook some good food together, and maybe have a kitchen dance party or two. In this busy life, and despite the many events of the season, for me, it’s a time of reflection and appreciation.

Have you noticed how easy it is to fall into routines in our daily lives that place the needs of others ahead of our own? We form patterns that might not be sustainable, often leaving us discouraged and exhausted. I’m reminded of the importance of taking time to “refill the well” before the supply runs dry. It’s an aspect of our wellbeing that’s often neglected.

If we don’t make a conscious effort to destress at the end of each day, the cumulative effect of what we carry in our lives can become increasingly difficult to hold. That’s why doing something we enjoy each day is so important. We are offering two programs in January, both designed to build resilience and help us stay strong.

For First Responders and Veterans living with PTSD, anxiety or depression, we have the “New Year, New You” workshop on January 11th.

For Caregivers, friends and family of these First Responders and Veterans, we are offering Part 1 of our “Care for the Caregiver” series on January 7th for those who weren’t able to attend the first series.

We hope that you will join us.

Wishing you and your loved ones a wonderful holiday season.

Warm regards from the entire Landing Strong Team,

Mindfulness and the unexpected

Mindfulness and the unexpected

Recently things have been a bit hectic. I’ve a lot on the go, and am feeling pulled in a number of different directions. For that reason, I decided to spend last weekend centering myself. I thought nothing would be better than to simply spend a day just being: noticing and appreciating the beauty around me. Otherwise known as mindfulness. I’ve been trying to fix up some old chairs, but trying to reupholster them was starting to feel overwhelming. Joe, my supersonic husband, suggested a 25 km bike ride from our cottage to Bear River, and I naively said “great”.

I have to tell you, if you haven’t checked out Bear River, I would recommend it. It’s a quaint little artistic community known as the “tidal village on stilts.” It boasts the Sissiboo Coffee Roaster (fair trade organic trendy coffee shop) and a cute little café called “Myrtle and Rosie’s.” Determined to notice, appreciate and learn, it was here that the universe gave me my first teaching.

Wanting to fill my life sandwich with more knowledge, I ventured out into the countryside eager to expand my understanding of the cosmos. It was here, in the pastoral fields of Clementsville, that I witnessed wildlife that I had never seen before roaming free in Nova Scotia. Zebras.

Feeling I was on a winning streak of enlightenment, I pushed on in my odyssey, and was rewarded with other amazing finds. On the way back through town, I met Walter Wambolt, who appeared to be quite the man about town. Confident and assertive, he was a man of a few words and turned out to be a great listener.

I made the internal commitment to be more like him. Walter beckoned me into a nearby bakery. It was there, in a back room of the bakery, that I discovered a hidden upholstery shop. The baker, it turns out, is a talented fellow who is also able to help me reupholster some chairs I am reclaiming.

So all in all, it was a pretty great day. I did make it home, and could barely walk the next day, but no worries. I felt complete with all the new teachings. I’m going to keep working on this mindfulness thing.

Practicing what we preach

Practicing what we preach

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.]