Bridges out of Poverty – resource recommendation

Bridges over Poverty, blog post, resources for compassion fatigue and trauma exposure

review by Françoise Mathieu, M.Ed., CCC., RP

Bridges out of Poverty: Strategies for Professionals and Communities – a great resource to develop more compassionate and effective tools to support individuals who live in underprivileged communities.


If you work with folks who live in poverty, these challenges are often multigenerational, complex and very difficult to overcome. Whether your clients are inner-city dwellers with its host of challenges or are individuals trying to make ends meet in remote communities with a lack of basic public amenities and transportation services, this book is a fantastic resource.

Bridges out of Poverty, written by Dr. Ruby Payne, is both a book and an entire community-building program to enhance service providers’ understanding of the complicated layers and resiliency of those who live in chronic poverty.

I was introduced to the book several years ago by a lovely workshop participant from Nebraska who has been involved in bringing the program to his community. I read it from cover to cover as soon as I received it.

Ruby Payne does not only provide a template to assist people living in poverty gain better access to the supports they need, she also invites the reader to reflect on the admirable strengths, resourcefulness and resiliency of folks who have had to struggle to have even the most basic resources: shelter, food, jobs, transportation and much needed health care.

Those of you who have heard me speak in the past know that I am a firm believer that the key to compassion satisfaction and improved quality of care for everyone begins with developing a better understanding of the strengths and challenges of those we serve. This book is a great place to start.


Sources: 

Payne, R. K., DeVol, P. E., Smith, T. D., (2001) Bridges out of Poverty: Strategies for Professionals and Communities. Houston: AHA! Process.

Favourite podcasts to Unwind and Reset

I travel a lot for work and find that flights or train rides are an ideal time to catch up on readings, emails and to-do lists. But sometimes I need to completely switch off from trauma work and take a real break, and for that, podcasts are fantastic. I tend to find that watching movies or TV shows doesn’t leave me particularly refreshed or restored, but podcasts always seem to do the trick. They are also great for long car rides or when I am cooking a big batch of food for the week.

In a recent post (link here) I provided a list of my favourite books to manage stress, secondary trauma and burnout. Today, I wanted to offer some podcast recommendations here. Feel free to add your top choices in the comments section below!

If you are not familiar with what podcasts are, they are basically radio shows/special interest topics that you can download to your devices and listen to them even while offline. Many of them are free and you can subscribe to them through your app store, Itunes, Spotify or companies like Audible. I mostly use the app store on my phone for these and almost all of the ones that I listen to are free. I signed up and now I get them delivered into my podcast app automatically.

Now, podcast choices are very personal and not everyone has the same tastes, so it is important to try several of them out. Do you like history? Food? Design? Sports? Crime stories? (now, not too many crime stories, friends! Remember to protect yourself from unneeded trauma exposure during your leisure times).

My Top 5 faves:

  • Revisionist History by Malcolm Gladwell (2 seasons). Fascinating exploration of unexplored aspects of a past event that everyone remembers. I listened to the entire first series during a long drive, and had to finish it in my friend’s driveway before going in. I couldn’t stop.
  • 99% Invisible: Short shows on the intersection between social science and urban design. This one is hard to describe, just check it out. I particularly liked the one on “Unpleasant design” and how spaces are sometimes deliberately built to discourage loitering, sleeping or skateboarding. I notice that now every time that I try to get comfortable in an airport chair that has deliberately been designed to prevent us from lying down. Thanks a lot.

 

  • This American Life TAL is a very famous podcast, and the topics are all human interest and vary each week. When I don’t like it, I just skip to the next one. There was a riveting account of the experience of being a refugee trying to gain entry into the US. Some stories are more disturbing than others so choose wisely.

 

  • Hardcore History by Dan Carlin My husband and son are huge fans of these epic multi-hour explorations of historical events. I loved “The Wrath of the Khans” and the show on the protestant reform. In fact, I weeded my entire garden listening to that last one. Strange, but true.

 

  • Death, Sex and Money Yep, doesn’t get much better than those three topics.

 

New Year – New You?

 

If you stop using that new gym membership by February – you are not alone

Week One

As I have written before, (“Beyond Kale and Pedicures”  link here) we are a very enthusiastic self-help culture. Many of us love the feeling of fresh starts and make frequent commitments to better lifestyle choices and behaviors.

Making resolutions brings temporary relief to whatever mess we feel we’re in (financial, weight, exercise, TV, sugar, alcohol – insert your favorite struggle here) until we fall off the wagon. And, as the data shows, we fall off the wagon a lot!

Fitness centers count on this very human flaw of ours: They know that only 33% of all of the memberships they sell will convert into regular users. Put it this way: if everyone who buys a membership actually used the gym, fitness centers would be completely over capacity, every day!  And that never happens, right? Gyms have a few peak hours, of course, after work or on weekends (and especially in January), where you may have to line up for a machine or have to sign-up for a particularly popular class, but over the year this all works itself out since sixty-seven per cent of all paying members never use the place.

Yet many people keep on paying their dues, either because they are locked into a year-long commitment, or because having the membership alleviates their guilt. Somehow having that gym card in our wallets provides the ongoing promise to ourselves that next week, (next week for sure!) we will go and recoup that investment.

But many of us don’t.

That is also why there is a thriving multi-billion dollar self-improvement industry that keeps on pumping out new wisdom and tips every January: We buy new books and follow “lifestyle” gurus, we spend more money on organizers and products that will make us look younger, thinner or bigger, stronger and richer.

We all start out with the best of intentions, of course. But then, then our real life becomes challenging again – a loved one gets ill, deadlines pile up and we can’t make it to the workouts, or we get sick and are too tired to keep cooking healthy foods … then we stop completely and feel guilty about it. By March, that new treadmill in your basement becomes a drying rack for your kid’s hockey equipment, and that juicer starts collecting dust above your fridge. Then, as a result of this  so-called failure, we self-blame which leads to more eating/spending/inertia/nine hour Netflix binges or whatever is your Achilles heel.

You know what I mean?

How can we break that cycle?

To celebrate the start of 2018, I would like to share some of my favorite strategies in the coming weeks. I will also mention some great resources that I have used for years to stay well and to stop committing to resolutions that set me up for failure.

If you are interested in reading more on self-care, please have a look at The Compassion Fatigue Workbook  (link here) where I discuss self-assessment strategies in depth.

Warmly,

Françoise Mathieu, M.Ed., CCC., RP

Specialist in High-Stress Workplaces
Co-Executive Director, TEND

Next blog post: Taming the inner critic

Week three: Take stock

Week four: Develop an action plan