Representing the Community with Strategic Leadership
Message from the Chair:
Welcome to August.
Change is the name of the game for August. And how we deal with change varies greatly from person to person. As with grief (talked about in a previous month), the main goal of moving through the stages of change is to get to a point of Acceptance.
For me, my acceptance during this time was recognizing that the COVID-19 “new” world was not going to go away. For a while, I was labouring under a naivete, that we would get through a period and then all would go back to “normal”. When I finally allowed that that was not going to happen, it was an emotional, difficult awakening to the realities of life.
The well-known Serenity Prayer asks for serenity to accept the things we cannot change. This is where I was. I needed that calmness to accept that COVID is now here.
Acceptance allows us to let go of the tension, fear and strife, and focus on what is. Acceptance is about developing a positive attitude that allows us to see through the difficult period to the other side, where things are calmer, more reasonable, and more able to be handled.
It is not something that can be forced – the process to get there may take a while and multiple repetitions to finally crack through. It may need to be approached in several stages and it is normal to feel overwhelmed by the initial challenge you are trying to accept. But this is about learning and growth.
You need to acknowledge what is. Often, we have that rose-coloured view, or perhaps an overly negative view, or what our challenge is. Accepting things for what they really are is a necessary step to being able to address them head on. We invest so much energy and hope into situations to make them what we want to be, and get so frustrated when the truth arrives. Being able to break our idealized bubble quickly is painful, but can help us get through that pain more quickly to being able to accept what is and move on. Consider why you are struggling to accept the reality – what is it that is blocking you?
Don’t confuse acceptance with your support of it. You can accept negativity. You can accept difficulty. This does not mean you are in support of it. You are, as above, simply allowing it to be what it is, without having an accountability to change it, control it, or make it different. With that allowance comes freedom to then make decisions about how to approach the change.
When you stop fighting the way things are, you can often experience some positivity and find new reserves of strength, learn new skills, or have an improved ability to deal and respond in a constructive way. A lot of the time, it is in retrospect that we realize things had to happen in the way they did. If we can start to see that realization earlier in the process, it will allow that acceptance to come much earlier.
You can learn to accept the difficult parts of life as part of your journey story. Start seeing yourself as a survivor of the story rather than the victim of your story. You are the protagonist of your play; the hero or heroine. The hero story always has periods of challenge and change to overcome.
Rumination is almost the anti-thesis to acceptance. Rumination is the constant “What if” of the mind, keeping you stuck in the past or the future. Acceptance is the present. Grounding yourself in the realities of the NOW. Grounding yourself in the positive.
Once we’ve found that positive serenity, we can then move to the courage to change the things we can.
Don’t stress out about stressing out over the change. Our beliefs about stress matter. As Stanford psychologist Kelly McGonigal argues in The Upside of Stress, your reaction to stress has a greater impact on your health and success than the stress itself. If you believe stress kills you, it will. If you believe stress is trying to carry you over a big obstacle or through a challenging situation, you’ll become more resilient and may even live longer. Stress and change can be a good thing — if you choose to see it that way.
Remember – acceptance is NOT resignation. Resignation means to give in because we have no other choice or we’re afraid to push for change. We grudgingly deal with the sorrow as best we can, simply enduring life. Resigning to a situation means to passively withstand the suffering it brings, while accepting a situation means to take an active role in it. Part of acceptance is making decisions and this, in turn, leads to change.
There is a concept in improvisational theatre that I find very helpful. It is called “Yes, and…” Basically, when you are doing an improv, you need to accept whatever idea is given to you and build on it. That is where the creativity, excitement and fun come from. If someone gives you a prompt, and you just say “no”, you shut down the possibility of the scene and it ends there. Whatever life gives you, use the term “Yes, and…” and see where it takes you. This is making a decision to accept.
Finally, we look for the wisdom to know the difference – between those things we have the power to change, and those things we need to accept as are.
Part of the real beauty of life is that it’s unpredictable. Nothing is permanent, everything changes; and of course, a lot of things can happen that will transform who you are and have an impact on your life. The problem is that we need to cultivate the ability to truly accept whatever comes and embrace it.
So this month, I invite you to practice acceptance. Not blind acceptance, but studied, focused, thoughtful, deliberate acceptance of what is. Ground yourself in what you want, need and hope for, and work your thoughts toward bringing them to reality.
August sees a lot of change in the military community – the beginning of childcare, the resumption of the training tempo, the return of the HMCS Fredericton, and members returning from both OUTCAN and Domestic Operations. This is a period of immense change that will require reserves of strength and the need to choose to accept or deny the “new”.
The Toronto MFRC has spent the COVID isolation period learning about change and changing to better support you and your family. From adapting our childcare, to discovering new ways to service delivery, we have changed to allow you to better access and use our facility, even from a distance. But what has remained constant is our mandate to serve you and your families. This period of change has allowed us to newly focus on the core of our programming and what we need to be doing to be a bolster and support for our community. I welcome you to come discover the “changed” Toronto MFRC and how we can newly support you during this time.
I wish you all the best with the change that August brings.
Confident. Capable. Resilient.
Chair of the Board of Directors
What We Do
The Toronto MFRC is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors, with a mandate of majority military family member representation, which reports through a governance and oversight structure to the Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services Branch (CFMWS) through Military Family Services (MFS).
Board members are elected by the Community. We assess local needs, in order to avoid duplication of community services and resources, while determining priorities, providing leadership, and ensuring the mandated delivery of the national Military Family Services Program. The Board of Directors provides governance and oversight through the lens of proper support for our families, helping the Executive Director in setting strategic direction and guiding implementation of activities and programming.
Please note that the Board is presently at capacity with all Executive and Director spaces filled.
However, we still welcome new members who may wish to fulfil non-Director Associate roles by sitting on committees. Are you a passionate advocate for military and veteran families? Do you want to help the TMFRC improve our offerings and meet our goals? Consider joining one of these Committees.
We meet the third Wednesday of each month, at 6:00 pm, at the Centre.
Unable to attend in person? We can accommodate you via phone/web!
Interested members may email the Board Chair at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chair: Marsali Federico
Vice Chair: Emily Callaghan
Treasurer: Aaron Windsor
Secretary: Simon Wells
Executive Director, Toronto MFRC
Commanding Officer's Representative, representing the CO, 4 CDSG Personnel Support Services
Captain Kevin Brady, 4th Canadian Division Support Group Garrison Toronto