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  • The Top 10 Ways to Stay Motivated When Negativity Seems to Be All Around You (2/4/2018) - Oftentimes in life, negativity seems to surround us. It has the power to suffocate our dreams and destroy our hopes. When that happens, many of us accept it as a way of life, but still manage to stay on target with goals. Others fall prey to the weight and feel paralyzed in moving forward. While you can’t always control what happens to you, you can control how you respond to it. Let me show you how to stay on track and shake off the negativity around you. Here are 10 strategies I found online recently. I use them to keep my resolutions and stay focused on my goals during the tough times.Use these strategies to help you in your work to end poverty and share with the individuals in poverty with whom you are working. #10.  Have an attitude of expectancy Most of the times, we will always get what we expect. You have to be steadfast in expecting that great things will happen in your life despite the challenging circumstances.  This is an essential way to remain motivated. #9.  Take control over what you can, and stop worrying about what you can’t Notably, there are circumstances that may be impossible for anyone to control. It is vital that one recognizes the differences between such circumstances. Do not worry about the things that you cannot alter or prevent. Worrying about things we have no control over may be the cause of stress. It is vital to find ways to move on and keep putting one foot in front of the other. #8.  Read and listen to positive information Sometimes, filling the mind with positive messages is essential in reviving motivation. Inspiring information uplifts your feelings and brings back hope in case of despair. Stay motivated by constantly reminding yourself that things can be done and that you have the power to influence your success and future. #7.  Be with positive people as often as possible Negative thoughts, conversations and people can ruin motivation and thus take the focus off your goals. The negativity ensures that you focus on things that are not critical towards the achievement of your goals. In the midst of negative people, avoid making comments or engaging in negative conversations. When you get those pity-party invitations…do not RSVP! #6.  Speak in positive affirmations Despite the difficulties and challenges surrounding you, say positive things about yourself. Do it daily! #5.  Learn from your mistakes, instead of repeating them Sometimes, some errors we make are the leading causes of demotivation. For this reason, it is vital that individuals learn from their mistakes. Self-evaluation is important. #4.  Make a plan Notably, failure to plan is a primary cause of failure in accomplishing goals and achieving success. To remain motivated, clearly look at a project and its requirements from the start to the end. This way, you can come up with a plan to accomplish the project. This can be a significant step towards motivation. #3.  Celebrate accomplishments along the way, whether big or small Take some time to reward yourself for your accomplishments. This will motivate you towards handling more challenging tasks and projects. #2.  Build your dream team of support Working as a team is motivational. Team members can offer support and contribute huge ideas. #1.  Be confident Some people are simply afraid of circumstances that seem challenging. Believing in yourself is the best advice I can give. Confidence is the great equalizer! Conclusion Notably, several conditions may cause discouragement and demotivation. Using the tips above can help you to remain motivated towards accomplishing your goals and being successful in life. Source 10 Ways to Stay Motivated When Negativity Seems to Be All Around … https://www.huffingtonpost.com/stacia…/10-ways-to-stay-motivated_b_4941277.html  Joyce McClellan, Ed.D., MHR, is chief development and diversity officer at Tulsa Tech, Tulsa, Okla., and an Emerge Solutions board member. You can contact her at joyce.mcclellan@tulsatech.edu.        
  • The Answer to Everything (1/18/2018) - I am a person for whom school “worked.” I liked school so much that I gravitated back into school as a career choice serving as a school psychologist for the past 34 years. Like many people raised and living in middle class, I value education as the most effective strategy to improve one’s chances in life. If you work hard at school and pursue an interest about which you are passionate, you can succeed and have a stable life. I taught this to my kids and I continue to encourage students in the schools I serve to this day. As I got involved in community work to address poverty through the Bridges Out of Poverty material, I realized that many well-intentioned middle-class approaches to addressing poverty apply the middle-class value of education in which I had always believed. If people need help, offer them a class! A good class will teach people what they need to know. It’s the answer to everything! The problem, I began to realize, was that for many people who have come from a background of generational poverty, traditional education didn’t go so well the first time through. Many did not do well during their K-12 years and some accumulated college debt without every acquiring a certification or degree of any kind. Putting some people in a traditional classroom experience is somewhat of a post-traumatic stress experience. It turns out that traditional education is a really good answer for people who do well with traditional education experiences! Financial literacy is one of the areas that is often addressed through traditional classes and curriculum. At the national Addressing the Challenges of Poverty Conference held in St. Louis in late September 2017, I got to meet and hear from Sara Money about the program that she developed called Money & ME. The first thing that Sara tells you is that “Money” really is her last name! But more importantly, she speaks of how she encountered this curriculum problem, recognizing that traditional materials, vocabularies, programs and classes were not meeting the needs of under-resourced community members, especially those coming from generational poverty. She recognized that learning about financial literacy required an approach that addressed the barriers people face. The result was her Money & ME curriculum. I encourage you to check into this program as one which might be useful for your own community work. The brilliance of the Bridges Out of Poverty and Getting Ahead in a Just Gettin’ By World materials is that they allow people to explore their own experiences in a process and with language that makes sense to them. We will all benefit from more people like Sara Money who are taking the same approach with other specific areas. Learning, as opposed to traditional classes, may well be “the answer to everything.” Packaging learning opportunities in a format that can be accessed by those who need it most is one of the exciting challenges for those addressing poverty in their communities. Jim Ott is an aha! Process national consultant, a school psychologist in northeastern Iowa, and the cofounder of the City of Dubuque’s Circles Initiative, which applies Bridges Out of Poverty concepts at the community level. He is also an Emerge Solutions member. Contact Jim at jim@jmoservicesllc.com or through aha! Process.  
  • Self-care for the Helping Professional (12/28/2017) - Growing up, one of my favorite songs was Chaka Khan’s “I’m Every Woman.” Being a helper at heart, I loved the concept and tried being all things to everyone: available, present and doing it with grace and a smile. Those were the days of vinyl and I played that record over and over until it was worn, warped and scratched. As I start to think about self-care for the helper that memory is a perfect analogy. Just as I wore out my album, we as helpers can wear ourselves out. Repeatedly putting the needs of others before our own can lead to a lack of “me time,” which can, in turn, create stress and resentment and prevent us from being our best selves. Self-care isn’t a one-time thing you add to your “to-do” list and check it off. If it were, it would never get done. It can go against our nature, but taking time for self is not selfish. To help others we need to ensure we nurture our mind, body and soul. The best way to do this is to implement self-care habits every day. It’s the constant repetition of many tiny habits, which together soothe you and help you make sure you’re at your best—emotionally, physically and mentally. The following are just a few ideas you can set in place to nourish yourself : Move Getting active increases feelings of happiness. Find a form of physical activity that works for you. Enjoy a Saturday morning hike, go on a bike ride, or dance like no one’s watching as you do chores. (FYI Chaka’s a good one for your playlist J.) Unplug Turn off email notifications on your phone or simply turn your phone off for a couple of hours, take a break from Instagram and Facebook and allow yourself to focus on the beauty of the moment. Journal Write out your thoughts and check in on your emotions. Or do a daily gratitude’s list. Laugh Read the comics, watch a favorite movie or show, or grab some friends and see a live comedy show. Keep Track of Your Accomplishments Be your own cheerleader. Pat yourself on the back for all the good you do. Make Time for Fun Have a date night with a significant other or friends, read a book, or find a hobby. Be Realistic Feel good about what you accomplish every day, instead of expecting more or looking to what you haven’t done. Sleep Sleep is needed for the body to recuperate. Sleep affects metabolism and influences our ability to learn and our memory. If you don’t take time to rest and direct your energy and focus elsewhere, you can end up like my beloved record. Self-care is non-negotiable. Deirdre Washington is manager for prevention education at Harbor, Inc. in Toledo, OH and an Emerge Solutions board member. She can be reached at dwashington@harbor.org. 
  • Eclipsing Poverty – The Power of a Common Goal. Report from St. Louis: Addressing the Challenges of Poverty National Conference (12/24/2017) - On Aug. 21, 2017 I had the privilege of being in Hopkinsville, Ky. to experience the most amazing natural sight I have ever or likely will ever witness – the total eclipse of the sun. There were many aspects to that experience that impacted me, but one of the most significant was the diversity of the people who came together to view the eclipse in this small Midwestern town. There were young and old, people of many races, multiple languages – there was a busload of what I can only describe as hippies from the ‘60s! It was a wonderful assortment of humanity. And everyone was nice. Everyone was smiling. Everyone was polite. With so much diversity in a contained space, there must have been innumerable possible conflicts and disagreements and arguments and probably some outright fights. But there was none of it. The common cause of the total eclipse allowed for unity in the presence of great difference. Heck, even the traffic in and out of the place was good-natured! The common thing that brought us together, and which was bigger than any one person, “eclipsed” the differences so that for that time, the differences were insignificant. On Sept. 26, at the closing session for this year’s Addressing the Challenges of Poverty National Conference in St. Louis, Gene Krebs (Republican) and Phil Devol (“I am not a Republican”) inspired us with a vision of addressing poverty in our communities that reminded me of my total eclipse experience. After a stirring presentation from Gene about how his relatives, by moving north, were responsible for the Civil War (you probably had to be there, but it was good stuff), Phil asked a serious question along the lines of this: When your Bridges communities get together to have conversations about the challenge of poverty, do the conversations get bogged down in politics? Do you hear people talking about the President or the election? One of the most important things I heard Gene say was that he believed there were solutions to virtually every public policy issue when those issues are viewed through the Bridges lens. Ohio has led the way through the bipartisan HB 64*, through which $11.5 million has been distributed to Ohio communities, with grants given to counties through what amounts to a Bridges len Gene and Phil’s point was that when we have serious conversations about poverty through the Bridges lens, political affiliations and opinions lose their significance. Sort of like a total eclipse. Our differences no longer matter because doing something real about poverty in our communities is simply too important to get stuck taking sides. We don’t have time for that. I was challenged by Gene and Phil’s presentation to renew my enthusiasm for applying Bridges concepts in my work at the schools I serve and in the community at large. I encourage you to join me and hundreds of others who are doing amazing work across the country and around the world making communities places where everyone has the opportunity to do well! Editor’s note: Ohio HB 64 has established county-level Healthier Buckeye councils throughout Ohio to connect residents who face hurdles to sustainable employment– such as generational poverty, mental health issues, drug and alcohol addiction and lack of education–with resources to help them move forward. Jim Ott is an aha! Process national consultant, a school psychologist in northeastern Iowa, and the cofounder of the City of Dubuque’s Circles Initiative, which applies Bridges Out of Poverty concepts at the community level. He is also an Emerge Solutions member. Contact Jim at jim@jmoservicesllc.com or through aha! Process.  
  • Muskogee Car Donation Program Helps Address Transportation Problem (9/21/2017) - Graduates of Getting Ahead often tell us that transportation is their No. 1 barrier to success. To help overcome that barrier, my organization, Muskogee (Okla.) Bridges Out of Poverty, launched a new Car Donation Program that provides Getting Ahead graduates who meet certain criteria with the opportunity to purchase a vehicle. Recently we awarded our first vehicle in the new program. The automobile was donated by a generous family who no longer needed a vehicle and who wanted to help another family out, and we hope this is the first of many such donations. Muskogee Bridges negotiated with a local lender to provide the graduate with financing for the vehicle and a local insurance is also providing help. The purchase price is about one-quarter of the actual value of the vehicle. This serves the dual purpose of providing needed transportation and helping the recipient to build credit. Vehicles are inspected by a mechanic, and small repairs are made prior to the sale if necessary. The proceeds from the vehicle sale go back into the Car Donation Program to keep the process working. The program is intended for Getting Ahead graduates who have completed Money Matters 101, a curriculum developed by St. Joseph County (Ind.) Bridges Out of Poverty; and Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. Individuals who meet the criteria are well-positioned to take advantage of this life-changing opportunity and continue working on their future story. There is also an application process and a committee decides upon the successful applicant. About our organization:  Muskogee Bridges Out of Poverty, a member of Emerge Solutions, is funded by the City of Muskogee Foundation and was recognized last year as the national Bridges Community of the Year by aha! Process Inc., developer of Bridges Out of Poverty and Getting Ahead, for its innovative ideas and successful programs. It also recently was honored for its accomplishments in guiding Getting Ahead graduates to self-sufficiency by the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits. For more information, contact me at tmckenzie@nbn-nrc.org.
  • Transforming Communities through Innovation and Collaboration: Transform Tuesdays Webinar Series (12/22/2016) - Once a month in the fall of 2016, Emerge Solutions member Simon Solutions (creators of CharityTracker and Oasis Insight) hosted a FREE webinar, bringing even greater community transformation through innovation and collaboration. They have shared their recordings with all Emerge Solutions members.
  • Bridges Out of Poverty: Addressing Community Challenges Through Intentional Relationships (8/16/2016) - There is no doubt that these are difficult days in our country. Communities large and small struggle with brokenness in relationships across race, ethnicity, language, economics and other divisive categories. Conflicts and suspicions seem to lead inevitably to violence. Many of us wait with suspended breath for the next terrible story to break in the media, which for its part is ever-ready to pounce on yet another sensational example of how wrong things are. 
  • Program helps inmates reinvent lives – The Blade (7/13/2016) - STRYKER, Ohio — Elmer Yeary went into the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio in February without a plan on what changes he could make to turn his life around. He thought he would finish out a six-month sentence for theft and then relocate to east Tennessee, where he could work on his father’s cattle farm. Instead, Yeary, 38, who was among inmates in pilot classes at CCNO called Getting Ahead While Getting Out, which is part of the larger  program, is working on getting his life back on track. Since his release from jail about a month ago, he has been attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and volunteering at a local re-entry program for ex-offenders. He is talking about earning a college degree for a career in drug counseling. “My life was a mess,” he said. “Now, I am working on Source: Program helps inmates reinvent lives – The Blade
  • Servant Leadership (5/10/2016) - Servant leadership is a philosophy and set of practices that enriches the lives of individuals, builds better organizations and ultimately creates a more just and caring world.  
  • Got Questions? Emerge Members Are Anxious to Share Experiences. (4/28/2016) - As communities across the globe begin to realize that something can actually be done to address poverty, they also begin to realize how complex the issues are. The experiences of individuals and families from under-resourced backgrounds begin to tell a story of barriers that may have existed for many years. For community leaders the task can seem overwhelming. Where do I concentrate my efforts? What areas will net the greatest returns? How do I get everyone involved? The list of questions can go on forever.
  • People in Poverty Need More than a Job (4/17/2016) - If you are never given an opportunity how can you be responsible for wasting it?  So many times we hear people around us state that a job would correct and solve every problem a person who is in poverty faces.  The problems go much deeper than getting and keeping employment.  Skills and education are two primary areas that many people lack through no fault of their own.  Are we being fair to simply give people food and materials as opposed to teaching and empowering individuals to acquire what they need through knowledge and goal achievements?
  • Social Entrepreneur Starts Running Club to Combat Homelessness (3/28/2016) - Who would think that a group of homeless men could become excited about running? That they could commit to a regular schedule of running—and keep it?
  • Poverty is a context, not an excuse (2/20/2016) - The new school year has arrived and with it the opportunity for me to do a number of presentations to various school districts and other organizations on the subject of dealing with kids from poverty. In my first week of school, I had the privilege of speaking to school bus drivers, city bus drivers, the K-12 faculty of one of the rural districts I serve and the small staff of a brand new alternative school in another district. In every audience there are various attitudes that are fairly easy to read on the faces of those about to subjected to my marvelous insights!
  • Importance of Education (11/7/2015) - I grew up knowing there were two tracks to my future education. The first was a vocational type training that included secretarial, home economics (read sou chef). mechanic and others. Then there was that 4 year college degree which promised a future secure in job, career and financial stability.
  • Bleak News About Americans in the Prime of Life (11/7/2015) - Two recent data sets indicate that many Americans in the prime of life are not thriving, either economically or in terms of health and longevity. And the one set of data is likely impacting the other in very negative ways. According to economic commentator Martin Wolf, “The relentless decline in the proportion of prime-aged US adults in the labour market indicates a significant dysfunction.”