Jim Mustard is the CEO of Veterans For Healing, an organization created and run by Canadian Veterans whose purpose it to assist other Veterans, their families and Caregivers. Veterans for Healing supports research and develops social programs and innovative treatments that are vital for Veterans coping with PTSD and rehabilitation.
Inside of this episode:
↣ How Jim landed the role of CEO on a serendipitous walk in the woods.
↣ How fostering children with his supportive partner of 40 years, Margaret, has equipped him in serving and fostering community within V4H.
↣ The Benefits of Plant Based and Land Based Healing (Bare Foot Walking, Anyone?)
↣ The 4 Pillars and how community and a spirit of generosity can help heal.
↣ Leadership, Mindfulness, and how slowing down can aid in healing and produce growth both personally and professionally.
Connect with Guest:
**This text has been edited and revised.
Calla: Jim, I want to jump right into it because I’m just honored that you’re here. We are halfway through the first part of this Stories of Healing, and you’re the CEO of Veterans for Healing. So, where does your story start with that?
Jim Mustard: Yeah, it’s interesting, I think, like whether you choose to become part of something or it chooses you right. So whether you choose to have the conversation, you know, and start a company, or it chooses you, it’s kind of the piece of life where are we really kind of masters of our destiny, or is it just like we’re adapting to what we’re being called to do. So, you know, Fabian, and the people I’ve met through him that’s kind of made that choice. If it was a choice, you know, when you’re a young person in a Coal mining wasn’t seen as valuable and where do you go? So I think when I first met Fabian here, Pipers Glen, where I’ve lived for 40 years. It was like, almost like calling, right? So I’ve lived a full life. You know, I’m 60 years old, being a municipal council. I’ve done a bunch of different things. But at that point, I had no idea what he was calling me to. I had no idea that hey, Jim, I want you to be the CEO of whatever, or whatever he’s saying. And I’m going like, Yeah, whatever. But it was more about the sense that Fabian’s passion, commitment, dedication, all those words kind of wrapped out in, and then Fabian’s undeniable, kind of like charismatic craziness about his mission, brought me into the idea.
Calla: It is perfect.
Jim Mustard: So I said, Yes, you know, without thinking it through, and I’m glad I did. Because I think it’s, for me, it’s brought my life, I believe in the practice of community and the way that I’ve learned about the importance of creating safe space, and the idea of creating an opportunity for people to belong through doing things, right. So you can belong through a conversation, that’s one way, but after the conversation is over, who’s there to help clean up the party, or, you know, I’m just using an analogy, right. So we have the party the night before, but who’s there the next day to kind of help us put it back together. And I think that’s where I aligned with Fabian because I believe my life has led me to understand the importance of space, wherever that is, the importance of leadership in terms of being generous in service to others. And then the importance of creating some structure that allows for the important choices. So the choices that are important for you today. While you’re in the structure, we need you. So the importance of “am I needed for Sunday morning” is not there, but here are my choices to do things. I am needed at certain parts of the day, which gives me a sense of purpose and responsibility—but having that as a growth mechanism, rather than, “I work 10 hours a day, I’m so tired, all I need to do is go home and watch T.V.” It’s kind of trying to find this new balance point where we have this amazing place where we can create space for people to come, who dedicated their lives to serving our country or serving others, and then learn to serve yourself, but also have that place to be in service again. It’s kind of like that beautiful dance that Fabian drew me into. I believe it’s the culmination of not everything I’ve done in my life, but certainly the lessons I’ve learned the hard way, and the experiences allow me to be pretty humbly in that CEO role. I am both an apprentice with Fabian and a mentor with Fabian, you know, kind of both of those things I’m there to learn with him. I’m there to help shape some of that learning we do together as we try to create what he has as a dream for. I think a fairly important kind of learning already exists, which is being good brothers together. Then with Juliane being good brothers and sisters together. And then with lots of events is learning to trust each other.
Jim Mustard: Yeah, very whimsical, because I’ve been here for a long, like, you know, I moved from Ontario when I was 21 or something and landed in this place. I’ve spent a lot of time just wandering the woods. My practice of life is to be unintentionally bumping into things no matter what they are. Whether it’s wildlife or trees or the brook, and then the one day where I was going up to the falls, and passing through, where I knew that the property would lead out to the road, There was Fabian and Juliane. He was new to the place, so he wasn’t very aware of everything. He was totally surprised to see another human being coming out of the woods. We quickly made plans to get together. I invited him up for a meal and got to know who this person was that found themselves buying a piece of land next door to us and a very important piece of land. Historically, it’s been part of our community, uninhabited for a long time, and logged over. So then, to find someone new, who right from the beginning, you could see his spirit and mission were unique. I think you can see that this would be something after 40 years of living here and not seeing many new people move to the place that this would be an amazing addition.
Calla: You knew that right away?
Jim Mustard: You can tell!
Leanne: Yeah, we could too. It’s interesting to hear you talk like that, Jim, because that’s how I felt when Calla approached me with this idea. We knew each other previous to have the conversation, and I have always looked at Calla as a mentor and a friend. I feel like those are the best kind of partnerships. With Calla’s passion for what ‘Have The Conversation’ is, when she asked me to be a part of it, it was just a feeling it was like, “absolutely, This can’t go wrong.”
Jim Mustard: If you live long enough, you’ll recognize those things. Where does the commitment come in any relationship, especially after you’ve gotten to a certain like, you’re not a teenager anymore or a young adult -so where do you find that opening to offer intimacy or an opening to commit to a relationship? With Fabian, it’s just easy because it’s this reciprocity where you give, and you get right away. It’s an immediate thing, you know; sometimes, the relationship will take longer for you to kind of get to a deeper level. But with Fabian, it can go right to that level right away. It’s not something he says. It’s more just the way he holds the space. He’s had a huge influence on the people involved and trusting themselves on this recovery journey like he’s had a huge influence on them because that inner drive emanates from him. It’s something unique. If we recognize that it’s the way that a colleague can help you, and we can all help and mentor each other. [Big Picture] if we looked at really creating a society, again, we just add babies and grandparents all into that next -and because one person can spin that off, they don’t have to become a guru. You don’t have to be calm; it’s not about you failing. It’s about what you’ve created in terms of the welcoming space, the generosity of spirit, the offerings that we can give each other, the choices we can give each other. And in that way, it kind of goes with the structure and the total improvisation of life, right. So coming from the structure, which is in the military, and then being given the choices. If you go off the cliff with that, it doesn’t work, right. But I think what Fabian is leading into is creating that structure that has the choices. Veterans for Healing supports the sort of things that people need to function day-to-day. That includes their medicine, some rituals, some space, and then opportunities to have choices. Suppose you want to play drums, have a workshop on something, taking a canoe trip, or feel the need to do some solo meditation or art. It’s about whatever.
Calla: It’s unique to the individual.
Jim Mustard: Yeah, and I think that’s the dream.
Leanne: Jim, the structure that you’re talking about, are you referring to the pillars?
Jim Mustard: Yeah, I think that if you break down the pillars, it’s like proper use of medicine. It’s the clinical support for your injury so that you do have a professional piece on it, then moving into the aftercare. Once you’ve provided that responsibility back to us, you know, as the support or the people offering it, it’s not just giving to you, it’s like, how do we give back then there’s the opportunity to see, as Fabian sees it, that you kind of earned your way. It’s not like Brownies, or Girl Guides, or whatever, where you get your badges; it’s just recognition that all of us are responsible, right? All of us are responsible. And it’s not just here; let me fix you. Well, it doesn’t. It’s not the same as what do I have to do? And what can we do together? And who’s my team here? And then
Calla: Yeah, it’s that ownership and responsibility for self, for sure. And it’s nice to have support when you’re trying to figure out who you are. So you do need people.
Jim Mustard: Big time, right!? That risk of growth in that way that we can be in uncomfortable situations and be led to the uncomfortable situations because the structure allowed us to choose it, right? Not being thrown in it, but just being guided to it.
Calla: You’re very spiritual. I know, we got deep so fast. I like just trying to catch up. This is not at all how I thought this conversation was going to go. So I’m sorry if I feel a little caught off guard. It’s just interesting to see how you got to this point with Fabian. That explains a lot. There is a theme through Veterans for Healing and GAFF House. It is all about a oneness within yourself. But also a oneness within like the community of people who are going to help you get there. I think it’s a really beautiful thing.
Jim Mustard: We were up at 5:30 This morning, Fabian and Juliane are up at five and in the woods by 5:30-6, and we were cutting a trail to these really beautiful old-growth forests that we just discovered, and I’ve been here for years, and I’m just laughing because there’s so much I don’t know about the place I live. Fabian and I found it last week. Um, so we’re cutting the trail and just talking about the other relationship, or the community is the community of place that would allow, so we’re talking about building this trail right along this beautiful 200 300 foot, steep, steep escarpment going down to the river, we have these beautiful views. And we’re just talking about how we can invite people to do their barefoot walk by themselves to find that community, like the community of feeling like you belong from outside any human. You don’t have to do anything. You could talk to yourself if it’s talk therapy you need. But to be free in your spirit to let things go, let things be, and not be judged. So again, we’re just having that community conversation, creating opportunities for a safe journey for the individual to be surrounded by the beauty of nature in a way that really lets them go.
Calla: I feel like you would have to get to a real oneness within yourself to understand these big picture realizations that you have. What was your experience? How have you been able to get to that point in your life?
Jim Mustard: I think both my mother and father were hugely influential. I have like six brothers and sisters, so a bigger family than you, Calla. I was in the middle and quite a troublemaker. I was always poking the brothers and sisters around you to get a reaction. It was my game. From doing that, throughout my life, my mother always taught me to value people no matter who they are, like, it didn’t matter who was in our house, you value them. Whether it was my teenage friends who could be questionable for you to hang out with, or it was someone who came to our house who was a newcomer to the community. You open yourself up to their experience and their journey. My dad was incredibly passionate about understanding the world and doing something about it. So I think both of them have led me to kind of take the risk and base it back on people and the relationship.
Calla: That is my dream as a mother. That’s amazing you had that experience. That’s pretty fantastic.
Jim Mustard: Well, there’s not without its bumps and bruises and humbly being knocked flat on my ass lots of times.
Calla: But, you got up.
Jim Mustard: I think the second part of the journey of finding that kind of courage to be vulnerable is found in Margaret’s; my partner and I’ve been together forty years, but we’ve opened our life. We have three birth children. But we’ve also had the opportunity to have a number of young people who needed foster care live here. And, you know, for long periods, five years and sometimes longer as Jeanette, who’s our daughter now, has been with us for 15. But every time I went into one of those relationships, I thought I knew something. I thought I had something I could count on, and every time I’m wrong. In terms of the individual’s approach, what do you need to understand about this person? And you make so many mistakes. The beauty of those relationships is, they would trust me to stay with me. They didn’t abandon me. In terms of trying to find out what was the thing, we needed to learn most about each other. What do you need to know about me to treat me the way I need to be treated. I think that’s, honestly, it’s not a spiritual practice as in, kind of work it through, but just putting yourself out there and then finding yourself touched by the lives of others in a way that I just, I’m honored all the time when I’m around people in their stories. Especially young people and the stories of their trauma that they don’t have a clue what it was when their mother abandoned them, or they’re not a clue what it felt like they just don’t feel they belong. And so, they constantly have taught me that that ability to be a loving person is just a vulnerable person who can say, “I fucked up. Sorry. Let’s try and figure this out now.” And in figuring it out, let’s not use words like “never,” and let’s not say “always,” you know, and things that I thought would be really basic life lessons, I’m still catching myself learning.
Calla: It’s the simple ones that sneak by. That’s my experience.
Jim Mustard: Yes. And so you know, you take a risk all the time when you’re trying to start a business or do something innovative and set up something; I think that leadership comes back to having a solid base in terms of your belief in yourself. For me, that comes from working with horses or being outdoors, or just constantly being free enough in the woods to allow myself to be forgiving to myself, and then having a loving partner, Margaret, who? She doesn’t love me for all the things I do well. I think she loves me for my ability to do to to keep bringing the opposite of a relationship like the Yin Yang, right. So once expanding on ones holding the space to kind of hold it back. And so that’s the other solid teaching relationship is my partner Margaret, whose total patience, total loving mother, total nurturing, total, looking at the other side of the picture, before you know it, you paint it. She’s constantly been a guide, even though it’s probably hell to live with me? Sure. She doesn’t want it. Yeah, that’s not part of the book we need to read or write.
Calla: That’s a wash. We’ll do that next lifetime, right?
Jim Mustard: Next lifetime.
Leanne: Now, Jim, are you a veteran yourself?
Jim Mustard: No, both my father and grandfather. So you know, in families, how the military may be in the state scholar, you would understand it, Leanne. In Canada, we didn’t talk about service. It’s not a big thing in Canada. My father served in the Second World War, and he was only 16 when he got in and became a captain relatively. And my grandfather served in the First World War, and we never talked about the experience as a way of understanding maybe who they were or some of their experiences. And in that way, I’ve reflected because I live with my grandfather, in the same room when I was like three until seven or eight until he died. And I was like his chum. I sometimes reflect on that, like, his wife died, and I kind of moved in, and I’m wondering what kind of offering I gave him as a young person. Old people enamored me. I think I just always have loved elders the energy they bring. So I’m just wondering if that wasn’t part of it. Because he wasn’t talkative, but I certainly was. But maybe that was part of his recovery in terms of his life.
Calla: I love that simple way to look at that. Because it 100 full circle to this moment. And that’s pretty neat to think about the big picture.
Jim Mustard: Yeah, and my father, I spent probably the last seven years traveling with him. He was all over the world before he died. I got to learn a lot about him and how soft and beautiful he was. My mother took her own life in 91. She was 75 because she had facial neuralgia, which is painful tic douloureux, it’s called, but it’s like, um, pain in the facial nerves. And it comes and goes, and it affects women over 50. And she had it for 20 years. And during the SARS outbreak in Toronto, she had the worst outbreak she’d ever had. And she said to herself, ” I don’t want to live like this anymore,” and she quietly put together her exit strategy and didn’t tell anyone and figured out how to do some barbiturates to take her life. It shocked the whole family, of course. She was such an amazing person. But no one knows what it is to live with pain and in fear. But my dad, after that, we got along chummy. I think I was the most like my mom, in some ways, like the most drawn to that kind of curiosity of people kind of really had no problem talking at a depth of heartfelt might have been hard on the sleeve type of thing. My mum wouldn’t do that. But when I was with her, I would go right at it with her and ask her, you know, what’s love and stuff like I just was a goofy that way. But in that way, when I got to hang out with my dad, I really did, once again, appreciating what some of the things are the young person 16, 17, 18, you probably had to put aside when you’re in the military. Then you become a professional and raise a family, and you get to find later on in life that it’s never too late to hold your son and love them. And I’m saying how he held me or never held me. It wasn’t his M.O., but he could see I was holding and loving our children as just a passing of that love in different ways. Right? Every generation gets an opportunity to feel it a little bit more.
Calla: That says a lot about growth and healing that’s happening still to this day for you, I would assume. And I think that’s why it feels so impactful.
Jim Mustard: I think the thing that I’ve come to understand from the people I’ve met through Fabian like those things that are trauma triggered and all the rest of them when you’re in that safe place, I don’t see them because I’m not with them back in Fredericton or their community or places. We’re here in Piper’s Glen, and a sense of support just surrounds it. So to see that in such a supportive place was amazing. But, yet, I cannot understand from my own life and working with young people in care that when it goes down, it goes down hard. And for that hardness, it is like I’m no good. I fucked up, you know, besides all the things that externally are going on around you. And I think that’s why I love this idea that we can create a sense of place, appropriate practice, and then communities of practice. So the awareness in our communities we live in, just that there are so many levels of trauma, right?
Calla: Oh, yeah, not just for veterans. You have to come to terms with the hand you’re dealt at some point if you want to heal, right, like that’s just part of it, but you can get out of it and learn new skills on your way out and feel supported. I think that that’s the key to like a healthy life for sure.
Jim Mustard: Yeah, our daughter, Jeanette, came to live with us when she was four years old four, and she was like, this wild energy ball of energy of just incredible intelligence. But really, everything triggered her to every level of character.
Calla: That’s Relateable.
Leanne: I get it, I get it.
Jim Mustard: It’s been beautiful. What’s beautiful about her right now is that she’s been able to be at ceremonies with me and Margaret at Fabians, you know, the Remembrance Day where there’s just a huge kind of recognition of, of sadness. And we do not remember people who died. It’s the sadness of our people of ourselves. It’s almost lost inside of us. And I’m not saying they’re not crying about their comrades they’ve lost, but it’s also just a general weeping of how hard it is to find yourself right, in that ceremony to be surrounded by 50 people or 40 people. So she’s done a fair amount of like exploring the use of cannabis in different ways to help her manage her hair triggers her trauma, and she’s just turned 19. So having Fabian and Julianne normalizing that journey, like the journey is okay, the journey is not you’re a freak, the journey is not, you know, I’m no good. The journey is life. Just like you said, Calla, the journey is life Now. How do I make sense of it and get help with the medicine, find the right treatment, and see myself, you know, in relationships, where I can partner with people, and I don’t have to be flipping out and losing my car.
Calla: What is your experience with cannabis? Because I know you’re referencing your daughter. How did it help you?
Jim Mustard: Yeah, so I mean, I’ve smoked a lot when I was younger, and I’m kind of off of it since 30 years. Now, getting back into it, it’s very moderate use for me. I find it this beautiful, creative place for me. So for my daughter to it’s a creative place. But, still, it’s more to manage those times where it just becomes really painful inside your head and damaging.
Jim Mustard: Yeah, exactly the manic thing where you’re; you’re going through it, your hearts moving, beating fast your head starting to, like shoot these panic attacks.
Calla: They are incredibly debilitating.
Jim Mustard: Horrible. So for me, I’m fortunate, you know, both on the side of that, I’ve been given lots of support, and my inner being allows me to keep moving forward. But also think this idea of having good fortune, right, um, the setbacks I had. They’re all relative. Everyone’s setbacks are all relative, but actually, the setbacks I have because I’ve been in places where people are having a tough time. And it’s, it’s caused partly by me, you know, I’m partly the trigger, right.
Calla: Forgiveness of self is in the process of healing for sure. Forgiveness of self, you have to; otherwise, that chain is never going to break.
Calla: It’s so impactful. We have been learning so much. So so much, I’m excited for more episodes to come out. I hope that you guys love what we’ve been doing with it. It’s been a learning curve for us. We’re learning so much we’re taking it in and processing the stories. A lot of the guys went deep, really quick. They opened up in a way that maybe we thought we were going to have to dance around or whatever everyone’s come authentic and with their truth, and it’s been cool to be a part of one and then to go back and listen to it and get to re-experience it again. You learn something each time, and I hope that they stick around for a long, long time. They’re beautiful.
They are, and the beauty is in their willingness to be vulnerable. Like Calla just said, I mean, we were both very surprised with just how open these guys have been with sharing all the details, painful ones that they have worked through and are currently working through. It gives me so much hope because people that are listening in their cars or, you know, everyone’s dealing with their own stuff, and just to hear somebody open up about something that was and is painful for them, it just gives just automatically gives you a little more courage to maybe think about doing the same thing.
Calla: Yeah, and it gives credit to the foundation in which Veterans for Healing was created, which you shared with us, you know, it just proves that that’s like in its bloodstream, you know because everyone we’ve interviewed, that somehow it overlaps. They have that same genuine feeling of being willing to be open and vulnerable and to just go towards the path of healing, and it translates. So a job well done to you and Fabian, you’re doing it because the spread is as far and wide. And I know that’s not a term anyone wants to hear right now. But I mean, it’s true in the best way.
Leanne: We’re trying to spread like COVID over here. All right.
Calla: I know, both Leanne and I can’t believe we know these people. We feel that about you. The first time we met you, we were like, what are we in this meeting for right now? Like, how did this happen? So that’s been another general theme, how people meet Fabian and how all of this has just come to be, and we’re right along on that journey with everybody. So it’s been a cool and unique, just like a bonding experience for both of our teams to kind of come together to, and it’s been awesome.
Jim Mustard: I love it. I mean, I love the idea that you’re struck by it in a way that so many others just with the sense of like this is kind of sacred ground that we’re creating in the space, right?
Calla: It feels that way, yeah.
Jim Mustard: I think what you’re doing both of you, Calla and Leanne, is honoring this story, which too often we don’t take the time to honor the story. And by honoring this story, we do bring life to where it needs to be. And I think that’s beautiful. And I think if there’s a lesson for us, or there’s a journey for us to take from this is how do we incorporate that story into our work as, as you know, the support and mentoring and fostering of safe spaces that allow people not just to have the option to have fun, but there is kind of the circle of the story. That’s the next story. You know, after the story of my journey to get here, then what’s the story of today or the story of the challenge of today so that we constantly allow people that have that space right now it’s beautiful, what you’re bringing together as a practice of that so that won’t be alienating to people when it’s introduced with some of these people is core to Fabian’s team. Opening them up to this is it well, it honestly, it’s an important gift for us all. Fabians thrilled.
Calla: To be that space that allows for that means a lot to both of us who’ve worked. I don’t want to say we’ve worked hard because I feel like it is a natural offset of Leanne and I because we’re not trying to be anything different from who we are. So we’re glad that it’s seen and appreciated that that means a lot to both of us.
Leanne: Yeah. And just the fact that it was Fabian that recognized it. I mean, he’s trying to create a real-life community that is safe and for healing. And we’ve been creating an online version essentially. For him to recognize that just felt great. I mean, it just kind of was validation for us that Okay, where we’re on the right page. We’re doing the right thing in the right way. I feel like that’s when people get brought into your life that you’re supposed to work with.
Calla: Then another common thread throughout all this is that when people talk about when they meet Fabian, they’re in alignment, and they don’t know how this is happening, but you just feel that connection. You get that fuzzy feeling throughout your body, and I know We’ve all had that. So we all know how that feels. And to me, that can only be a sign of something good because it feels good. And it’s good within your soul. So it’s nice to be a part of something like that.
Leanne: And when you’re lined up, everything lines up, and you’re just on the right path, and you just feel good, good, good. That’s that spread I’m talking about.
Jim Mustard: It’s what it’s about. It’s what it’s about, and everyone has it. Everyone has it. It’s just rarely done. People surround themselves like with as much generosity as Fabian. In other words, the giving quality of each of us is there, right. Fabian just has a mission, and that I would have loved to have met him at 18. McDermott at 25 at 30. because
Calla: That timing.
Jim Mustard: I know, but there’s just this growth. Yeah, just what he was, like, in all his roles, because he hasn’t changed who he is. He’s just formed the Fabian he wants to be. But he’s always, I think, been possessed of a certain quality that now is, is focused and focused not in a pinpoint way focused in a general way. But, like focused in general, he’s got this beautiful palette, and he’s just throwing colors and fabric, and it’s like a collage of just beauty. And then it attracts people like yourself and attracts the next person here and the next person there. And in that way, if we had one, you know how in most, you know tribal communities or anything, you would have just had the kind of the shaman or the person who is the gift giver of welcoming and probably a matriarchy was very important. And a lot of that work of community belonging, and Fabian just use epitomized a very beautiful part of himself, right, which isn’t the macho thing. It’s this kind of more matriarchal female side, which is really about nurturing and supporting. And his maturity around that is is something special at 40.
Calla: Yeah, I’m convinced he is 4000 years old.
Leanne: Yeah. I’m not even convinced he’s a real-life person. I understand the concept of Fabian. It’s like Big Foot. You see pictures, you hear about him. And he’s magical. But I have to see him to believe them in real life.
Calla: He’s what you find at the end of a rainbow. He’s just there smoking a joint and living his best life. I love it. That’s amazing.
Jim Mustard: It’s great. It’s great.
Leanne: I wanted to ask you, Jim, as a parent, because being in Texas, there’s definitely a stigma around cannabis. And, you know, we grew up with the whole, “drugs will scramble your brain,” showing the fried eggs and stuff. So how did you in a parental role kind of normalize the use of cannabis as a healing tool?
Calla: Great question.
Jim Mustard: I think you know, because of my experience with cannabis growing up, my father’s a medical doctor, and he never really freaked out. He’s a research medical doctor. He never really freaked out that his sons were all using cannabis. So he had set the tone. If someone who cares about the molecular biological health of human beings, isn’t that freaked out? Like he never gave us a lecture that you’re going to scramble your brain to say, like, you can go to jail doing this. So if you’re going to keep doing this, just be aware. Yeah. But I think the kind of support from the society that was in him in my life, very important in influencing me, was just how I approached it. It’s, everyone’s going to experiment, everyone’s going to try things. Sometimes, they’re going to find real health through this, like alcohol rarely does anything for a young mind. But when we’re looking at cannabis, in terms of what it can do, in all the different forms, whether it’s CBD or THC or low level, or, you know, this whole world is opened up as an educational opportunity that for my birth children, I didn’t have to worry about it like they just would be really moderate in all their behaviors growing up. But for the young people in care, it landed at the right time to have Fabian involved, just as the kind of medical legalization in Canada was occurring in 2007. There was an openness to it if you wanted to look at it from clinical treatment. It was being understood in Canada that we were quite a ways ahead like we’ve been in this 14 years out of all the countries in the world. So I do think it’s a maturity now, where I can talk to pretty well anybody about the potential benefits without prescribing anything. And we do appreciate where Fabian came from it with his knowledge and the work that he did in studying it because he became quite, you know, I think pretty accomplished, and being able to understand trauma. So then, how does it work for pain? And how does it work for sleeplessness? And how does it work for eczema and all these other things create an open opportunity for us to stop stigmatizing? What is a whole spectrum of a plant, not just to get high, but the whole spectrum of the plant and its potential for our society? I think, if my father were alive, honestly, he would understand how the cannabinoid system works and how replacing the deficiency in when you’re in this kind of like, toxic or continual trauma when you’re in an anxious state for long periods, he would say, this makes sense. And when you look at it that way, it’s not getting high. It’s taking care of yourself so that you can manage that. So that’s where we’re at the frontier. Honestly, I’m really excited about veterans because we can better understand what works for the individual, for cohorts of people. We can look at the recovery from that. So it’s not just treating the symptoms, but getting to a level of health, which may be reduced as the active ingredient. THC maybe looks at a more balanced lifestyle, eating well, taking care of yourself, finding other modalities of health, and learning that can come from that safety of the community. So that we can start to move past what is if it’s if you know, a fairly strong drug they level they use to take care of themselves when they’re in a triggered state. We say this is exciting for the world. Whether you’re a sexual abuse survivor, whether you’re a first responder, whether you’re some, you know, one who’s a volunteer firefighter, in a small community, who’s been out to a couple of tragic accidents, how do we help them know what’s best for them? And had the clinicians known what possibly works for you? So I don’t think it’s an exact science, but we’d say, well, who are you, Khalid, tell me about your experience? What’s your blood type? What are your sleeping patterns, and then we’d have the list of things. But you would feel like you could be the expert on this, because you will not be, you know, threatened or fearful. And we start to hold this plant differently because it’s unique.
Calla: In people with trauma that maybe aren’t cannabis users, is it a safe space for them to come and learn and be around it to understand?
Jim Mustard: I think so. I believe that the whole point here is to not go from zero to 100. It’s really to go low and slow in whatever way space is safe for you. And to explore the question first that Leanne asked, “Is the best way just to explore? What’s your belief about this? What have you heard? And what do we know? And what do you know?” And then we can start to build out “What is it like? “Luckily, it’s not me. But, you know, I mean, I think that’s the system. All I do is dream up that the research could be done.
Leanne: I love that you said, “you need to be the expert.” Because t that’s the case, whether it’s cannabis or even my own experience on the birth control pill. My doctor didn’t tell me half of the side effects of taking a hormonal birth control pill. I had to find out for myself because I was getting weird reactions. I was getting chronically chapped, swollen lips, and I was getting dark spots on my skin and going to see my doctor and asking, could this be the pill because it was the only thing that I was taking. I wasn’t even taking supplements. And she looked at me like I was crazy. These doctors either don’t know or sometimes don’t share what could happen to you. You have to be the expert. We’re all like little aliens. Yeah, we’re all humans, but everyone is so different in every way. No one size fits all. You know, you can’t trust a doctor to just hand you over your magic, healing medication, whatever that may be. You have to be the expert. I think that was a great statement.
Jim Mustard: Cannabis is not like aspirin. It doesn’t have that same dosage effect and whatever or Tylenol or ibuprofen. It’s such a wide-ranging spectrum of potential effects, whether it’s like seeing this thing mixed up with this ad. Going back to this thing, we have to learn the unlimited ability to learn together. Right? So the expertise comes from exactly from us back into a system who grew it, how is it grown? Was it the same grown last time? Are genetics the same? Is it organic? You know, I mean, then going into what day? How did I use it? And then for clinicians to understand that that might not be the prescription for the next person. But we can all learn that this is what this one person had. I can’t believe we’re here, in this day and age, talking about something that has been demonized for so long. The number of veterans that can’t access medical cannabis, for whatever reason (cost, location, circumstance) and it’s not the same quality like you can’t even choose quality, you just can’t even get it. So here we are in Canada, talking at a level where we’re going to start to create levels of health and recovery. Like, we already got the cannabis covered, but we still don’t know. That’s what Veterans for Healing was excited to do is provide access to good high quality, consistent organic medicine. So that it’s, not one week, it was for next week, it was like somebody small the staff, and it stopped that let’s stop that. And so I think I’m on every level; I’m super excited. And I’m not going to be the CEO forever. I’m getting out of this role as soon as I can. I’m going back to the woods.
Calla: No, you’re not! You’ve got dreams you’re dreaming over there!
Jim Mustard: Fabian and I have plenty of dreams.
Calla: I was going to say, you’ll keep finding each other. How many times do you want to go through this? That’s amazing.
Jim Mustard: That’s right. We would be different every time. Who are you now? What do you?
Calla: Exactly! It just keeps happening until the job is done. I love it. It’s so beautiful.
Leanne: Jim, you mentioned barefoot walking? Can you talk a bit about that for our listeners? What are the benefits of that?
Jim Mustard: You know, that’s a trust mechanism for yourself. To be cold, to be hungry, and to be barefoot out in the woods. It’s kind of that mindful practice where you can kind of put your foot down. You have to put your foot down. I’m not sure how hard you’re going to put your foot down. There might be something sticking out of the ground, but it’s kind of this idea just slows you down, and you’re walking your awareness. You’re kind of this forcefield going forward all the time. You’re going down, went down, and you can stop more because you’re there. It feels like you’re there. And so we’re here in Cape Breton might be similar to Alabama or Tennessee. It could be similar to a soft forest right there where there’s moss and things like that. So it opens up a whole sensory thing from your feet to your mind because you slow down. You may walk more like a predator. You know, you’re kind of like your cat.
Leanne: I want to see Calla walk like a predator!
Calla: I don’t think a predator wears yoga pants and carries a water bottle, but I’ll do my best.
Jim Mustard: You do your best, Cal.
Calla: I will, I will.
Jim Mustard: But some of us are hurting on legs like a herd of bison or whatever, you know, wildebeest going across the tundra. But I love the idea that it slows you down. Your awareness is where you need to be versus getting from A to B. Shoes allow you to do this, now I may not be getting from A to B, but everywhere I’m going, I’m totally aware of where I’m at. I think that’s where Fabian and I’ve just had lots of time to do that. But working a lot with kids in care, lots of people that come here, a lot of camps with young people, and you know that they’re immersed in themselves by the end of the week. They’re immersed.
Calla: It sounds like exhausting, purposeful work.
Jim Mustard: Totally exhausting. Like, it could be your twins, like times five throughout life for the twins.
Calla: So I’m keeping my shoes on, Jim. I’m keeping my shoes.
Leanne: She’s got shoes and a mask.
Calla: I’m going to be here while I handle it. I’m going to do the best that I can. That’s my commitment to this right now.
Jim Mustard: I know what you’re talking about. It’s a big one.
Jim Mustard: It doesn’t matter. You’re canoeing down a river. It doesn’t matter if you’re snowshoeing or skiing. It sometimes, it’s just it’s not that you don’t want to get exercise, get your exercise, but just enjoy where the hell you’re at. Don’t worry about getting there.
Calla: I feel that big-time these days. More so than I ever had any point in my life. For sure. I mean, it does make me want to be here. It makes cooking dinner not so bad. You know, it makes the timer on the table more special. I start crying, but it’s true. So you see, it’s all those things.
Jim Mustard: And what’s that from for you, Calla? What was it? Uh, what was the catalyst for that?
Calla: We don’t have that much time. Lord, that’s what I’m trying to write a book. I’ve got to get these stories out. I think it’s been recognizing and forgiving and loving myself. Um, it has. It’s so funny. For the longest time, I thought it had to do with many people around me but actually had nothing to do with them. It was my experience and what they brought to my life. So unpacking a lot of that and coming to peace with it has been my journey. Just stepping into who I want to be for sure. Thank you for attending my TED Talk.
Leanne: It’s good. She’ll be here all week.
Jim Mustard: That’s the shortest talk ever.
Calla: You’re welcome. We don’t want me to ramble. Like I have a podcast or something. We know you have more important work to do. And you have to do it in this lifetime. So we’re going to let you get back to it, but keep having those big ideas. Thank you so much for coming here, talking with us about Veterans for Healing, and giving us this opportunity to jump on board and be part of Stories of Healing. It’s meant a lot to both of us.
Leanne: Yeah, thank you for the work you’re doing.
Calla: Oh my gosh, can you imagine?!
Jim Mustard: I can’t wait to start to listen in. Fabian just told me some of the ones you guys have already done and how amazing they are. So I can’t wait to just kind of once again; let’s just have a great time sharing part of the journey together that you guys have jumped in on a big part of it. So thank you, thank you for somehow capturing this wave and being on it with us, and we’ll look forward to as it grows to get you up here. Calla, take off your shoes. You’re going to get married and come back to Canada, Leanne. We’re not going to go to Ontario.
Calla: First, Tyson! I swear That’s funny.
Leanne: It’s just it’s the timing. Ontario’s not the place to be right now.
We fully plan on it. You know, my fiance loves barefoot walking, so he will fit right in with you guys.
Jim Mustard: WoooHooo!!! A new cult!
Calla: Hey now, I didn’t sign off on that!
Leanne: Yeah, yeah, that was a contract. Big Dreams and dirty feet.
Calla: Well, we’ll see in the next forest, in the next lifetime, and we’ll deal with it then.
Jim Mustard: I love it. Yeah, yeah, that would be beautiful. Take care, you two.