The Energy Bucket: Reframing Stress as a Catalyst for Positive Change

The Energy Bucket: Reframing Stress as a Catalyst for Positive Change

A note from Illuminate: There are many ways to strengthen families and we love lifting up our partners who are working to do just that. Our friends over at Better Pockets Financial are a great resource for anyone needing a little support when it comes to financial matters. Don’t hesitate to give them a shout, and enjoy the blog!

Stress tends to be viewed as a negative emotion or experience, but it is important to recognize the important role it plays in life.

While it is critical to develop strategies to prevent too much stress from accumulating, there is also value in identifying ways we can harness stress as a motivator for positive change.

Like with every emotion and experience in life, balance is key. I’m not a mental health professional, but I have learned of a few useful ways to put stress in a new and helpful perspective.

Years (and years) ago, I attended a conference for Child Welfare professionals. Many talented and enthusiastic presenters were sharing their insights, programs, and research on a plethora of topics related to Child Welfare and the profession of helping others.  Among those presenters was a university researcher who focused on understanding the physical impacts of stress.  He wondered if stress, in addition to a mental toll, created measurable negative impacts on one’s physical health.

To support his theory, he completed a number of tests.  One study involved comparing the brain scans of caseworkers and battlefield medics. He noted that in the scans, the parts of the brain that glowed in response to work-related stress were the same for both professions.  This was a very interesting observation that lends credence to the difficulty of being a caseworker.

I think the presenter recognized that the audience was becoming a bit glossy-eyed.  Perhaps by the technical nature of the information, or perhaps because we had all just finished lunch and were ready for either a coffee or a nap.  So, the presenter gracefully summarized his research findings in an impactful and memorable way.  The researcher gave the following analogy, which I hope sparks a similar moment of clarity for you, as it did for me:

Imagine, if you will, an ordinary bucket.  This bucket is filled with energy.  Some people naturally have very high levels of energy, some have less.  The point is, this energy in the bucket is yours.

When we decide there is something important in our lives, we assign energy to it.  This can be a task we need to accomplish or something we have been putting off.  The amount of energy we assign depends on the importance of the task. (And, this can change over time, too!)  As we assign more energy to more tasks, the amount of energy available in the bucket goes down.  The energy is finite– only so much can be assigned.

Now, here’s the key: there is tension in this assignment of energy…the energy wants to return to the bucket.  This tension is the physical manifestation of stress!  Because of this tension, an effective way to manage stress can be by accomplishing tasks. Checking an item off your to-do list can be a good way to return energy back to your bucket. 

It is important to note here that there are sources of stress that we have control over, as well as those we do not. While we may have control over our to-do list, systemic powers such as racism and sexism contribute to complicated stressors that we don’t necessarily have the ability to change. Luckily, however, we do have the power to prioritize, seek support, and focus on what we can change. Navigating stress using this approach may help us find the energy we need to deal with the more complex sources of stress in our lives.

The bucket analogy is a great way of thinking about how we can reframe stress as a catalyst for positive change.

Identifying what is drawing on your energy can be the first step in working towards change– in big and small ways.  It could be fixing that leaky faucet in the bathroom, picking up the dog poo in the backyard, scheduling that dentist visit, completing a spending plan (aka budget), or readjusting your financial plan after bringing a child into the home. This made perfect sense to me because when I complete something on my ‘To-Do’ list, I feel fantastic.  Heck, I sometimes add things to my ‘To-Do’ list just so I can cross it off! 

Start by making a list of the things you would like to get done and assign priority to each task. In fact, part of this process can include identifying tasks that you can remove from the list, in order to make room for items that hold more importance to you. It also can be helpful to remember that this list is not yours to complete alone. Most likely, there are many opportunities for you to reach out to your support system for backup. 

If you find there are financial matters that make it onto the list, consider reaching out to us. For instance, we can help if you have energy from your energy bucket assigned to:

    • Starting First Career
    • Getting Married
    • Having your First (or Second…or Third) Child
    • Changing Jobs (Career Pivot?)
    • Navigating a Divorce
    • Starting a Business
    • Sending Kids to College
    • Selling a Business
    • Taking Care of an Elderly Parent or Relative
    • Planning for Retirement
    • Estate and Legacy Considerations

We are happy to be a resource for you in your quest to return energy back into your bucket.

We know that when you reclaim energy by getting finance-related tasks done, you can then dedicate that energy to more important priorities to allow you to be the best parent, friend, neighbor, and community member you can be.

Afterall, our Mission at Better Pockets Financial is to Help You Create a Positive Impact in Your Pocket of the World.

There are multiple ways to reach out to us.  Here are just a few ways to do so:

Email Clint at Admin@BetterPocketsFinancial.com

This blog was written by Clint Edgar, from Better Pockets Financial.

Working to create better communities through better finances, Better Pockets Financial understands that achieving financial wellness can be intimidating and exhausting. They care and want to help you align your financial life with your values.

Read more about Clint on the Better Pockets Financial website.

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This position is for you! 

Under the guidance of a Deputy Director, the Director of Strategic Initiatives is responsible for overseeing the strategic planning, facilitation, and ongoing coordination of multiple coalitions working to positively impact children & families within Colorado. This position will serve as a member of the Leadership Team and ensure initiatives are responsive to current needs, aligned with organizational mission, and set up for success in the future.

The Director of Strategic Initiatives will:

    • Ensure that all Coalitions & Organizational Practice Change Initiatives that Illuminate convenes are guided by strategic planning, use inclusive processes, and measure toward collective impact;
    • Offer leadership and supervision to the Strategic Initiatives Team;
    • Support the development of funding applications and reporting requirements; and Offer coalition management and facilitation to the Colorado Infant Safe Sleep Partnership.

    Experience, Skills, and Qualifications:

      • At least five years of coalition management, community organizing, and/or facilitation experience
      • Passion for facilitating collaborative processes
      • Commitment to advancing social and racial equity through collective action
      • Experience and/or knowledge of the Collective Impact Model
      • Experience facilitating participatory strategic planning and implementation
      • Experience managing staff and leading teams
      • Excellent oral and written communication skills
      • Demonstrated ability to manage collaborative projects, including balancing deadlines with coalition input
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      • Knowledge related to child maltreatment prevention, Strengthening Families protective factors, maternal child health, substance use disorders, child sexual abuse prevention, and/or infant safe sleep
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      • Experience working with a broad range of populations, particularly in a coalition capacity

     

    Compensation and Schedule:

    This is a full-time position eligible for benefits. Starting salary is negotiable and commensurate with skills and experience in the range of $70,000 – $80,000. Illuminate Colorado offers health and dental benefits as well as participation in a 401K, EAP, and Life Insurance benefits. In addition, Illuminate Colorado has an unlimited paid time off policy and offers both flexible scheduling and remote work.

    We are dedicated to building a diverse, inclusive and authentic workplace, so if you’re excited about this role but your past experience doesn’t align perfectly with every qualification in the job description, we encourage you to apply anyway.

     

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      With the election behind us and the end of this session approaching, Congress has a lot to accomplish before the end of the year. In January, a new Congress will be sworn in so the remaining month of 2022 is the last chance for this version of Congress to pass their priorities. Luckily, the Congressional to-do list includes a number of ways to invest in family well-being as Congress finalizes an end-of-year legislative package. Below, we’ll discuss the to-do list and how you can get involved. 

      Reauthorizing the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program.

      One of the wisest investments we can make as a nation is in healthy pregnancies and early childhood development. That is why the MIECHV program is so critical. Evidence-based programs that help families provide proper nutrition, mental and behavioral wellbeing, and a loving home pay massive dividends throughout the life of those who are served. Unfortunately, this important bipartisan program is at risk.

      If Congress doesn’t act by December 16th to reauthorize the program, it will expire, which would cause untold hardship for the program’s beneficiaries, and negatively affect recruitment and retention of qualified and effective home visitors. That is why Illuminate Colorado has joined the National Home Visiting Coalition and hundreds of other organizations around the country in our support of the bipartisan Jackie Walorski Maternal and Child Home Visiting Reauthorization Act of 2022 (H.R. 8876). Read more about why Illuminate supports MIECHV reauthorization.

      “Expiration of MIECHV would cause untold hardship for the program’s beneficiaries, and negatively affect recruitment and retention of qualified and effective home visitors.”

      This week, the U.S. House will vote on a major bipartisan MIECHV reauthorization that would increase the program’s funding for the first time ever.

      Now is the time to urge our Members of Congress to act, because home visiting works.

      Take Action: The U.S. House is expected to vote on this critical bill this week, and we urge its passage without delay. Healthy pregnancies, infant and child health and development, and school readiness are too important for these critical services to slip through the cracks.  Please contact your U.S. Representative and ask them to vote YES on HR 8876 with this easy-to-use Action Alert to help support the first ever expanded funding for the MIECHV program!

      Click Here to Take Action Now!

      Contact your U.S. Representative and ask them to vote YES on HR 8876 with this easy-to-use Action Alert.

      Reauthorizing the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA).

      CAPTA provides federal funding to states and provides grants to public agencies and nonprofit organizations, including Indian Tribes and Tribal organizations. Through CAPTA reauthorization, the current 117th Congress has an extraordinary opportunity to strengthen community-based supports to families to prevent child abuse and neglect. The reauthorization bill emphasizes prevention and race equity and increases funding for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention. Reauthorizing this program would be transformational for communities and families and greatly expand our capacity as a nation to prevent child abuse and neglect by supporting families.

      “Reauthorizing this program would be transformational for communities and families and greatly expand our capacity as a nation to prevent child abuse and neglect by supporting families.”

      Enhancing Child Tax Credit (CTC) and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

      Policies that strengthen family financial security can go a long way toward reducing childhood adversity and enhancing the relationships that help children thrive. Congress has the chance to enhance the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) in the remaining days of this session. The EITC and CTC are known to improve the health and well-being of families who receive them, and can even help kids do better in school and lead healthier, longer lives. Improvements to the CTC alone were largely responsible for cutting our national child poverty rate nearly in half in 2021, lifting 3 million children — including 1 million children under 6 — above the poverty line. However, the expiration of the CTC and EITC improvements, combined with high food costs and rising rents, sent many families with children back to experiencing significant material hardship, increasing child hunger and suffering.

      “Improvements to the CTC alone were largely responsible for cutting our national child poverty rate nearly in half in 2021, lifting 3 million children — including 1 million children under 6 — above the poverty line.”

      Take Action: If your organization takes positions on policy, join Illuminate in signing on to the joint letter led by First Focus Campaign for Children by filling out this form by 5 pm ET on Monday, December 5, 2022.

      Click Here to Call on Congressional Leaders to enhance the CTC and EITC!

      Fill out this form by 5 pm ET on Monday, December 5, 2022.

       

      Want to stay updated on state and federal public policy that impacts children and families?

      Click Here to Subscribe to Illuminate's Email List!

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      When we actively participate in our communities, we help to strengthen them. Voting in elections is one of the most important ways that we can actively participate in our communities by making our voices heard about the kind of state and nation that we want for ourselves and each other. With the 2022 election in the books, we are reflecting on what the outcomes mean for Colorado children and families.

      As enthusiastic participants in Colorado’s Healthy School Meals for All campaign, we are overjoyed that Coloradans voted to ensure that all of Colorado’s public school students will have access to nutritious meals at school, regardless of their family’s income.

       

       STARTING IN THE 2023-2024 SCHOOL YEAR, ALL COLORADO FAMILIES WILL HAVE ACCESS TO SCHOOL MEALS BECAUSE COLORADANS VOTED ‘YES’ ON PROPOSITION FF!

      This program, which will take effect starting in the 2023-2024 school year, will support the development of Protective Factors that are proven to strengthen families and communities and prevent child maltreatment. When kids are well-fed, their physical, mental, and social well-being increase and families are able to build Parental Resilience and Social & Emotional Competence of Children, two of the Protective Factors that support the prevention of child maltreatment and set the foundation for kids and families to thrive.

      Benefits of the Healthy School Meals for All Program

      • Students whose families’ income is too high to qualify for existing programs but not high enough to afford school meals will no longer go hungry or incur school lunch debt,
      • Families and school administrations will no longer be burdened by the cost and time it takes to complete and process school lunch program enrollment paperwork, 
      • And students and families will no longer be subjected to the stigma that comes with participating in free or reduced-price lunch programs.

      Healthy School Meals for All will also incentivize the purchase of ingredients from local food systems, increasing wages for individuals employed by school meal programs, and providing healthier meal options to students by offering:

      • An option to participate in a local procurement grant program that will provide schools with funds to purchase food from local farms and ranches,
      • An option to participate in a grant program that will enable schools to increase pay for the staff who serve and prepare meals for students, and
      • Funding for equipment and training to provide students with healthier meals.

      THANK YOU, COLORADO, FOR VOTING TO PROVIDE HEALTHY SCHOOL MEALS FOR ALL OF OUR STATE’S STUDENTS!

       Follow the campaign on social media to learn more & keep up with next steps! 

      WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT OTHER RESULTS OF THE 2022 ELECTION AND HOW THEY WILL IMPACT KIDS AND FAMILIES?

      See below for recaps from some of our partners on other election results that impact Colorado’s children and families, including measures related to affordable housing and income tax rates:

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      • The Women’s Foundation of Colorado through a gender, racial, & economic lens.
      • From Colorado Coalition for the Homeless
        • Proposition 123 passed and will provide $300M per year for housing affordability and homelessness resolution across Colorado without raising taxes also passed. 
        • Denver voters overwhelmingly supported Question 2K to allow the city to keep excess revenue from a .25 percent sales-and-use tax approved by voters in 2020 for homelessness resolution.
        • Unfortunately, the news is not all good. Coloradans voted in favor of Proposition 121 to decrease the state income tax rate from 4.55% to 4.40%, reducing state funding for critical public services and putting more money in the pockets of very wealthy taxpayers and corporations.
      • Alliance for Early Success– includes insights about election results across the nation.

      Want to stay updated on state and federal public policy that impacts children and families?

      Subscribe to Illuminate's Email list!

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      The CANES program utilizes a multidisciplinary team of experts to engage in critical thinking surrounding the dynamics and concerns at play in complex and challenging child abuse and/or neglect cases. CANES may be utilized at no cost to county child protection departments to determine next steps in a complex, challenging, and/or difficult referral, assessment, or case. The CANES program will facilitate the consultations online via Zoom using the Consultation and Information Sharing Framework to organize and analyze available information. By utilizing a diverse team of experts, CANES can ensure that questions are being asked that inspire solution-focused critical thinking and enhance creativity in managing child welfare cases.

       

      The CANES program utilizes a multidisciplinary team of experts to engage in critical thinking surrounding the dynamics and concerns at play in complex and challenging child abuse and/or neglect cases.

      In each consultation, the child welfare team and invited guests can expect Illuminate to create a space that is timely and responsive to the needs of the requesting agency, featuring a diverse pool of expertise specific to each case. This setting is appropriate for professionals and family participation, and is HIPPA compliant.

      Requesting a Consultation

      Requesting a consultation is easy, and requires a few moments to complete a short online application, and the approval of a Supervisor. Once the request is approved, Illuminate staff will contact the requesting party and discuss further needs and scheduling parameters. Most consultations can be scheduled in 2-3 weeks, depending on expert availability and the needs of the county. 

      Purpose, timelines, and outcomes of consultation will be determined based on the desire of the requesting agency and the specific needs of each case. Consultations are designed to facilitate solution-focused critical thinking to encourage creative and strength-based discussions, considerations and recommendations. The CANES Consultation Team provides consultation services only. Neither Illuminate Colorado, its agents, or employees nor any member of the CANES Consultation Team, is responsible for any recommendations or actions taken/not taken as a result of the consultation or final report.

      Complete the Online Application Here

      It only takes a few minutes!

      For more information, visit https://www.illuminatecolorado.org/canes/, or email Anne Auld at aauld@illuminatecolorado.org 

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