About Me

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Kings Mountain, North Carolina, United States
"A mind lively and at ease" is a blog by a first-generation Russian-Ukrainian immigrant Maria K. (Maria Igorevna Kuroshchepova). An engineer by education, an analyst by trade, as well as a writer, photographer, artist and amateur model, Maria brings her talent for weaving an engaging narrative to stories of life, fashion and style advice, book and movie reviews, and common-sense and to-the-point essays on politics and economy.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Big Little Change digest - March 2017

Weekly small change challenges

Week 1 - Say good bye to “but”.

Studies of language and how it impacts our ability to process information indicate: when you put a "but" in the middle of your statement, the brain just ditches everything said before the "but", retaining only the part after the "but". So, if someone says "You are smart but not very good -looking", the only thing the recipient's brain will end up retaining is "you are not very good-looking". (I know it's a meh example, but you see the point.)

It works the same in reverse. When someone showers you with compliments, and, instead of saying "thank you", you reply with, "Yes, but..." and then list all the things you perceive to be wrong with you - your own brain retains only that. Not the compliments so generously bestowed upon you, but the part where you ripped yourself to pieces. So, when someone says, "You have a beautiful house!" and you reply, "Yes, but the basement is a mess," the "beautiful house" but leaves no positive trace in your mind. All it zeroes in on is the messy basement.

Let's say "no" to buts. Get rid of them when sharing information, trying to empower someone or receiving positive feedback yourself. When, say, beta reading a friend's manuscript, instead of "Chapter 10 is brilliant, but chapter 11 needs to be revamped," say, "Chapter 10 is brilliant and chapter 11 needs some work." That way, the recipient of the statement shall retain both parts of it and won't feel as if you had just bashed them and nothing else. When someone says, "You have a beautiful house," say, "Thank you - I am very glad you enjoy being here. We are working all the time to make it even better - just wait till we finish up that basement!" Boom - positive. Yes, the basement needs work, but your brain is left with the feeling of progress instead of a neverending challenge that yields few results.

Off with the buts!

Week 2 - A week of learning.

Pick a week - any week. Use this week to learn one new thing every day. It can be anything - a new piece of information, a scientific fact, a new recipe, a knitting pattern, a better way to grow begonias, anything at all. By the end of the week you will have learned seven brand new things you didn't know before.

Who knows? You might find it so addictive - you'll decide to do it every week.

Week 3 - Celebrate your wholiness.

I dislike the expression "my other half". Almost as much as I dislike it when someone successful gets on stage at a training or celebratory event, points at his or her spouse, and says something like, "And this is the brains of the operation - I definitely married up."

First of all, we none of us are halves. We are all whole people. Just because something is missing in our lives by way of a relationship, does not make us half-a-person. And if we are in a relationship - then we have two whole persons together, trying to make it work. And that ought to be celebrated.

Second, by saying that your spouse or significant other is the "brains of the operation" - even as a joke - not only are you implying you are stupid, but you are also insulting your spouse. Because what you are essentially saying is your spouse is so bad at picking partners, that he or she married a total idiot without even looking. That has to stop. There are things you love your spouse for, and there are things your spouse loves you for. You both contribute something equally important to the relationship. It's not the competition, it's not the idiotic stereotype of "I am the smart one - she is the pretty one" or some such.

You are whole, the love of your life is whole, your friends are whole - off with all of you to get together, sort out your differences, revel in your shared passions and celebrate your wholiness!

Week 4 - Remember you are someone’s ideal.

I don't mean "ideal" in a sense that someone wants to write an ode in your name or make a sculpture of you (although, what the heck - you never know!). I mean that some aspect of your life today, where you are at this very moment, is where someone else is trying to get. It could be anything - income, job, fitness, fashion sense, your talent for gardening or for making things, your parenting ability, or your organization skills.

This occurred to me when I was jogging at the park and realized some people bigger and slower than I was were looking me with the same mix of admiration and envy, with which I looked at slimmer more athletic men and women passing me on a second lap in a row. I am not the most athletic person by any stretch - I know I still have a long way to go. And yet, apparently, where I am NOW is someone's goal - possibly even a BIG long-term goal.

When you struggle, remind yourself of that. You HAVE achieved something. You HAVE completed things. You HAVE gotten to some point that is still far in the distance for other people. You are someone's inspiration. You are someone's ideal.

Big little stories

- What a great way to say - you are not a faceless mass to me. I know you. You are all individuals, and I care.

- Want to help bring young people into your industry and make sure they love it forever? THIS is how it's done!

- These logs are helping protect women and children in refugee camps as well as combating deforestation that occurs around camps.

- Teaching kids about who is keeping them healthy and how.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Big Little Change digest - February, 2017

Weekly Small Change Challenges

Week 1 - Dress up for no reason.

People ask me this all the time, "You work from home, you hardly ever go anywhere - WHY do you bother getting out of your pajamas?" Because. That's it. That's the answer. It just does it for me. Some days I wear something nicely casual. And some days I might go up a notch and dress as if I have a special event coming up later - like a visit to the theater or a cocktail party. I might go to the grocery store like that or for a walk through downtown. And feel good.

Try it. One day - for no reason at all - pull out something you normally save for a big presentation or a party or some such, put it on and wear it. Listen to yourself when you do this and notice the difference in how you feel and carry yourself.

Week 2 - Declare war on somewhat bad habits.

Some bad habits are obvious - smoking, doing drugs, drinking too much alcohol, driving around without your seat belt on. Some, however, are not so straightforward. In some cases, they are rather nice, in fact. Just... little indulgences, pick-me-ups and such.

The Starbucks addiction. An occasional high-end cup of coffee - I can dig that. "Occasional" being the key word here. But every day - twice, sometimes three times a day? Even if all you get is one basic coffee first thing in the morning, every morning - say a tall Caffe Americano for $2.49. That's over $900 a year. You can buy a top-of-the-line coffee maker AND take a nice weekend vacation. And for most people it's not just one cup and it's far from basic. There are now coffee makers that can be programmed in the evening and have your coffee ready for you in the morning. Get one and set that money aside for something fun - like enrolling in a foreign language course, going somewhere you've always wanted to go, or paying off your debt (yes, it IS fun - when you see that zero balance on your credit card statement).

Daily TV watching is another time waster and health underminer. Someone said to me recently "sitting is the new smoking". True. People sit for their jobs, sit in the car on the way to and from work, and then come home and sit there in front of the TV. Stop it. You don't need to waste 730 - 2190 hours a year doing that. (That's 30 - 91 days, by the way, or 1-3 months per year an average American watches the damn box.) You can get all the world news in 10-15 minutes from BBC web site, your shows - from Netflix, and your games - over the internet. The rest is celebrity gossip, political wrangling, and other stuff you don't need to waste your time on.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to seek and destroy these sneaky habits and, as the comic artist Oatmeal would say, defeat your Blerch.

Week 3 - Remember what you are doing right.

When something is not working - be it the latest sewing or home improvement project or trying to increase your income - the question most of us tend to ask (usually with great bitterness and frustration) is, "What am I doing wrong?" It's not necessarily a bad question, but more often than not, people forget to follow it up with, "What am I doing right?"

Look, you somehow made it to this point in life, the one you are in right now. Considering the risks and horrors the panic segment on our news informs us about every day, so many of us still being around alive and relatively well could be considered a legitimate miracle. Which means - you have done something right. Find out what it is and hold on to it.

Yes, radical changes are sometimes necessary in order to turn around anything - your marriage, your business, your kids' academic performance, your self-esteem, and your life in general. But don't throw out the baby with the bath water - don't assume that just because you are not a spectacular success EVERYTHING you are doing must be wrong. Get rid of the crap, but make a point of identifying and keeping the good stuff. We've all got some. Promise.

Week 4 - Find wisdom in unexpected places.

There is a reason there's an entire book called Tao of Pooh. ... Or that Dr. Seuss' Oh, the places you'll go is one of the top books on the reading list of many smart, successful people. Compassion, wisdom, inspiration, and answers to some of life's hardest question need not come from something written by a PhD. Sometimes, it might come from a child, a cartoon, or a book you last read when you were in kindergarten.

I leveraged one such source only recently, when desperately searching for a way to console a friend, whose life has been nothing short of hellish in the last two years. At a loss for words, I went to one of my own personal favorites - Jim Henson's Fraggle Rock - and posted a link to The Friendship Song on my friend's Facebook wall. It said everything I wanted to say and more - and so much better than I ever could. Most of all, it spoke love, which was exactly what was needed.

Week 5 - Read to improve your life.

Many self-help books have a bad reputation, because, it's true, a lot of them are crap. However, that is not a good reason to discard them altogether. They are not all the same and many can well and truly change your life in a positive way.

Pretty much everyone in the “Big Little Change” group on Facebook is an avid reader - with more than one book going on at the same time. Make a point to identify the area of your life you would like to improve and add a book on that subject to your current reading material. Here are some ideas:

• Self-esteem, discipline, goal-setting, follow-through, life changes – "The Success Principles" by Jack Canfield, "The Difference Maker" by John Maxwell, "What to Say When you Talk To Yourself" by Shad Helmstetter

• Turning dreams into plans - "Put Your Dream to the Test" by John Maxwell, "The Charge" by Brendon Burchard

• Style, clothes that fit, dressing appropriately for various occasions - "What Not to Wear" books by Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine (for women); "Off the Cuff" by Carson Kressley and "Dressing in the Dark" by Marion Maneker (for men); "Dress Your Best" by Stacey London and Clinton Kelly (for both men and women)

• How to decorate and entertain (including on a budget) – "Freaking Fabulous" books by Clinton Kelly and "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" by the Fab Five

• Making a house a home, making the most of small spaces - "Style" by Thom Filicia and "The Not So Big House" books by Sarah Susanka

• Life in general - biography of any person you admire and whose achievements inspire you.

Big Little Stories

Start your year off on the right foot. Recycle.

You GO girl!

An amazing story of love and caring.

Since our meteorologists CLEARLY don't know math or thermodynamics, instead of the predicted 3 - 6 inches of snow we got 7.5, plus snow drifts (wind - happens in the mountains). Gerry popped down this morning and cleared the snow off our cars and around the side of his car to make it possible to get to them.

5 minutes ago, he called me over to look down from the balcony (we both parked at the bottom of the driveway). He pointed and said, "I didn't do this. I have no idea who did this." Somebody cleared all of the snow around both our cars and created a clear area for both of us to back out onto the road comfortably. Whoever you are, mysterious stranger, we love you. Thank you!

The next time someone tells you there's something you can't do because you don't look right, don't think right, don't talk right? Kick them in the nuts and do what you love!

This is from today's issue of my employer's newsletter


Sew Far, Sew Good

Longtine Blue Ridge volunteer Ginnie Wearn uses her hands - and heart - to make a difference for patients in Spruce Pine.

Cut, sew, wash, stuff, and sew. Repeat.

Ginnie Wearn has perfected that process over the past nine years she has volunteered at Blue Ridge Regional Hospital in Spruce Pine. "I make pillows for patients that are undergoing chemotherapy treatments," said Wearn. "The pillows help support their necks and arms, making their time at the hospital just a little more comfortable."

Wearn, originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and now a resident of Spruce Pine, began volunteering after she felt compelled to do something useful with her time. "I love helping others," said Wearn. "Not to mention it keeps me busy, I am not the type to sit around and stare at a TV all day long."

In total, Wearn estimates she has made over 5,000 pillows for patients at Blue Ridge Regional Hospital. "I am constantly at my sewing machine wondering how many more pillows I can make," joked Wearn. "I especially enjoy making pillows themed for Halloween and Christmas."


A chemotherapy infusion can last from 30 minutes up to 150 minutes.

Of course.... a better answer would be - reform your country so no one EVER goes homeless again. But that takes time. Meanwhile - well done.

Big Little Change digest - January, 2017

All, we know we are possibly coming up on very hard times. Doesn't matter why, doesn't matter how - not in this group anyway, since we agreed to keep politics and religion out of it. Regardless... keep an eye on your friends and family who are struggling. Even if you are not that greatly off yourself... it's possible someone is facing even tougher challenges. See what you can do.

Barter for favors. If you leave nearby, get together to help each other with chores. Give money - no strings attached. Let's stop being squeamish about it. Having been very poor, I know how much difference $10 - 20 can make. Put together a goodie basket for someone - doesn't need to be ousters and caviar: some pasta or rice, some good bread, some veggies, crackers, cookies, maybe some fruit. Places like Old World Specialties, Wisconsin Cheese Man and such have some great foods - soups, gift baskets, breakfasts. You get the idea. Do something. If you are on the other side of the equation - ask for help. Your friends are here. Let them know. When things get better, you can pay it forward. This is no time to be shy - give help, get help, let's hang on to each other. We are going to need it.

Weekly small change challenges

Week 1 - Find a simple pleasure.

One of the most touching stories about making room for fun even when you have very little is told in Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker. In the chapter about financial buckets (charity, savings, fun, etc.), he talks about a woman who was in very dire straits financially and had only one dollar at the end of each week to distribute between her "buckets". This meant - she had only 25 cents to spend on fun. Her solution? She bought a 25-cent pack of gum that came with a little cartoon insert - and that was her fun for the week. Eventually, through discipline and wise use of the "buckets", she pulled herself out of the financial hole and was able to move on to a better job and a better life.

Not all simple pleasures have the same impact, but they are important and necessary. We are not meant to work all the time - and there is plenty of proof that, after a certain point, more work doesn't mean better productivity. In fact - it can mean less. Find a simple pleasure that is easy to enjoy on a fairly regular basis and make it a regular ritual. Something you can always rely on. Something you can always look forward to. You deserve it.

Week 2 - Do something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t.

If it costs money - brainstorm how you can make it happen. If it costs courage - meditate, ponder, do whatever you have to do - but make it happen. If it requires help from friends and family - be brave and ask them. Some will look at you like you are crazy. Others will pitch in and cheer you on with delight. We all have dreams - great and small. We deserve to allow ourselves to find time and means to bring those dreams to reality. Pinpoint one - and get to it.

Week 3 - Stop slouching.

Sorry, I'm going to be your mother for a minute. Or grandmother. Or aunt. Whoever it was that told you to stop slouching.

First of all, it's bad for you physically. Slouching jeopardizes your lung capacity and limits the supply of oxygen to your body, including your brain. It also weakens your torso and shoulder muscles, putting too much burden on your spine, thus distorting it and leading to back pain. Second, it forces you to look down, limiting your field of vision to mud, dust, asphalt, cracks in the sidewalk, and dog poop. If you go through the world seeing mostly those things, you might eventually come to believe it consists of nothing else.

Third, slouching communicates all the wrong things - to the world and to yourself. Slouching says "I don't care" or "I don't really want to be out here so I am going to try and hide inside myself" or "I am not at all proud of myself, I am ugly and should be kept in a broom closet under the stairs." Not good. Lift your chin up, roll your shoulders back, and walk through the world like you own it.

Week 4 - Replace one thing on your grocery list.

It's tough keeping yourself and your family eating well and healthfully. First of all, so-so eating habits are tough to change, and second, with demand still low, organic and gluten-free products still cost significantly more than the regular stuff.

So, to soften the blow, start with just one thing. Next month, replace just one thing with a better, healthier, or more environmentally-friendly option. For example, replace General Mills' Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal with one from Cascadian Farms or Kashi. Replace regular rice with brown rice. Replace regular pasta with a gluten-free one. Replace soda with a mix of sparkling water and fruit juice. After a month, replace another regular item. Then next month, another one. In a year, you will have replaced 12 things on your shopping list with something that's better for you and yours.

Big Little Stories

It seems that Bangladesh - one of the poorest countries on Earth - is doing something effective about extreme poverty. It's encouraging to know that something can be done, given the will. Perhaps the richer nations can learn something from this?

On December 7, 2016 at 3:15 pm EST everyone in the Mission Hospital Revenue Cycle Education Department who wasn't teaching gathered around two big tables we filched from the auditorium and got to work - sorting and packing red cloth bags.

On Saturday, during one of the annual dinners for the homeless given by one of many local charities, the attendees will walk away with goodie bags filled with basic necessities: t-shirts, socks, gloves, hats, full-size toiletries (shampoo/conditioner, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, deodorant, q-tips, razor), snack baggies, and, yes, books - complete with little plastic magnifiers tucked in as bookmarks. So proud of my teammates.

This is how you know these boys were brought up right - in how they treat women.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Big Little Change digest - December 2016

Weekly small change challenges

Week 1 - Do something nice for yourself.

So many of us spend our lives taking care of others. "My family needs me." "My kids need me." "My boss needs me." Well, what about you? Don't you need you too? What will happen if, in caring for others, you neglect yourself to a point where you just collapse?

At least once a month, schedule something just for yourself. It can be a champagne lunch. It can be going off to buy a new book. It can be a bubble bath. A box of top-of-the-line chocolate truffles. A slice of strawberry shortcake from the best bakery in town. Something. Make it yours - and only yours. Indulge. Enjoy.

Week 2 - Know your limitations

In Glory Road Robert Heinlein jokingly refers to the US presidential campaigns as "anything you can do I can do better". For months on end, we are showered with promises of this and that, of roads paved with gold and emerald cities. The same goes for other public service offices, businesses, radio stations ("The best classic rock station EVER!"), foods ("It replaces a full meal!"), cosmetic products ("Take years off your face!"), clothes ("Look ten pounds lighter in seconds!") and pretty much everything else we use. Of course... none of them deliver. Which is why so many of us are so disillusioned and reluctant to ask for help - we feel as if whatever is promised, even if it's by a friend, will never be delivered.

Sometimes overpromising occurs because someone really is very eager to help, excited, and swept up in the moment - forgetting umpteen things already on their plate. This has happened to me a few times - when I was in the middle of something, and a friend eagerly offered to help, only to drop the ball, leaving me not only disappointed, but sometimes in a financial hole.

I do not discourage offering help - not at all. It's wonderful when people offer to help without having to be asked. But before you do - consider what you already have going on. Do you have time? Can you add this new thing to your schedule without jeopardizing your existing commitments? Are you prepared to treat it as you would a work commitment and deliver on time? If something unexpected comes up and you need more time or need to bow out altogether, are you prepared to be honest and own up to it (some people just "disappear" and hope the thing just goes away)?

It's ok to say "You know, I would love to help, but I am just too swamped right now." Or, "Is this something urgent or can I help you with it later - when I have more time?" An unfulfilled promise is worse than no promise at all.

Week 3 - Give something up.

We are not talking about becoming a hermit or going on a diet here. Rather, consider something you really like, set a limited time period, and give it up for that period. More than anything else, it's a discipline exercise and a good time to ponder some important questions.

Can you do without whatever it is? Why or why not? Just how important is the thing in your life? Do you still have other things to occupy you and keep you happy? Will not having (or doing) whatever it is for a time make you treat it differently? Appreciate it differently?

The answers might not only surprise you but send your thoughts down new unexplored paths.

Week 4 - Do something you don’t want to do.

That exercise you've been meaning to start doing regularly. That attic you know needs to be cleaned up and organized. That bunch of things with missing buttons and falling down hems waiting to be fixed up and returned to wearable. You know they are there. They are bugging you. You hate them. You don't want to deal with any of them, but your dislike for them doesn't make them go away miraculously.

Pick one. Do it. Get it off your plate for good. Some other time pick another one. Do it. Cross it off your list. Put a big, fat, luscious check mark next to it. And buy yourself ice cream to celebrate.

Big Little Stories

- Putting old buildings to work - the right way.

- Helping non-humans is great too.

- A couple of days ago, I submitted an inquiry to Kiva about offering education-related loans and grants. They wrote back to me, and here is their response. It sounds like they are already working on it, which is awesome.


Thanks so much for your email and your interest in supporting education loans on Kiva. Great news, we do already have a number of education loans fundraising on Kiva, and if you ever aren't seeing them, it's likely just because they're relatively popular on Kiva. But as we continue to grow, one of the areas we're looking to expand our impact in is education, which means that we're continually looking for new partners in this space. Education loans oftentimes can be seasonal in nature, matching times of the year when school fees are due, so please continue to check back for more education loans that you can support here:http://kiva.org/lend#/?sectors%5B%5D=15

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Big Little Change digest - October, 2016

Weekly small change challenges

Week 1 - Make one radical change.

This doesn't seem so small, does it? But I am not talking about anything like picking up and moving to Antarctica, or quitting your job to take up professional salsa dancing, or running off with the handsome UPS guy. There are plenty of "I've always done it this way" things in our lives that can be altered. The reason? Thought pattern interrupt.

While I am a huge fan of routine and stability, I must acknowledge - it can and does lead to the staleness of thought and stupor of new ideas. Sometimes, a minor jolt is required to get yourself unstuck.

Let's say, you've always had the same thing for lunch - a ham and cheese sandwich, an apple, maybe a cup of coffee. Have a champagne lunch with crab cakes instead. Ok, so you might want to pick a non-work day for that - but do it.

If you always shop at the same store - pick a time and go somewhere different. Make a point to thoroughly check it out and see everything they have to offer. This particularly applies to clothes shopping - a lot of people, men and women, ALWAYS shop at the same places, afraid of disappointment elsewhere. Or, let's say, you always wear black - wear color. And I am not talking about just adding a white shirt under a black suit. That's cheating. No! Color. Something other than black. No black garment of any sort anywhere on you.

These are minor envelope pushers - but you might be pleasantly surprised how they impact you. You might discover your thoughts going in new and fascinating directions, your mind acquiring a new sort of clarity and teeming with ideas. It's not an easy task - but very worth it.

Week 2 - Let go of other people’s stuff.

You probably don't even know this - but your house is full of things that should belong to someone else. Some are obvious - like books or tools you or someone in your household borrowed from a friend or a neighbor and forgot to return. Find them and return them.

Then there are other things. Books, for instance, that you have read and not particularly liked, or thought you might read but didn't, but you hold on to them because they are books, and you can't bear to part with books. Why not give them to people who will read them and like them, and possibly even keep them for the right reasons? There are clothes that feel good and look fabulous - on someone else. So, what are they doing in your closet? They don't fit you - but you hold on to them in case someday they might, even though, at the bottom of your heart, you know that is unlikely. They don't look good on you - but you can't let them go, because you paid too much for them. Sell them on eBay or take them to a thrift store so that their actual owners might find them and give them a new lease on life.

If your kids are grown up, their baby clothes no longer belong to them or to you ("but what if my children have children!") - they belong to a new mom trying to find good, sturdy baby clothes at a discount. Duplicates and triplicates (or even more-plicates) of hammers, screwdrivers, saw blades, and fastener sets don't belong to you - they belong to a young family trying to whip their fixer-upper starter home into shape. Old magazines, unopened bills and advertisements belong to a recycling facility. Old sheets and blankets you no longer use even for the guests belong to a local homeless shelter. Leftover cans of paint, rolls of insulation, and sheets of plywood really belong to Habitat's ReStore.

Free your home from things that belong to other people and make room for your own life.

Week 3 - Learn how to tell people what you do and own it.

Considering how much quicker connections between people are made these days and how much more extensive their networks, it is truly puzzling that everyone doesn't have their elevator speech prepared and memorized. In this world, where it is so much easier to find the right person to help out with the right thing at the right time, the ability to explain what you do and why it's important has to be essential.

Many of us who can explain our occupation in under two minutes have a tendency to undermine it. "Oh, I'm just an admin." "Oh, I'm just an editor." "Oh, I'm just a project manager." Stop it! Even if you are not passionately in love with your job (yes, I've been there, I know what it's like), as far as anyone else is concerned, what you do is fascinating, important, and crucial to... well... maybe not the survival of mankind but definitely the survival of the company you work for. You are tough, you are knowledgeable, you are confident, and you are ready to take on anything. If you are, indeed, not in love with your current job - those are the characteristics that will help you find another one.

If you are self-employed, the well-worded, to-the-point, competently delivered elevator speech is just as important, because your next client, next referral, or next reader might be just around the corner.

Week 4 - Know what you want and ask for it.

You might not always get a positive answer, but hey, you'll be no worse than you were before you asked. On the other hand, you never know who and when might come up with just the thing or the idea you've been looking for.

Consider all aspects of your life - home, family, work, income, health, responsibilities, etc. Think of the challenges you are facing in each of these areas. For each area, write down on a card, what needs to be done or has to change to alleviate the challenges.

And then start asking. Obviously, it's not as if you can just walk up to anyone and say, "Give me a million dollars to solve my financial problems". BUT you can share with your circle of friends or with a group you are a member of - here is my problem, here is how I want to solve it, any ideas what would make the solution possible? The brainstorming is bound to be all over the place and generate a lot of ridiculous ideas. But there are bound to be some good ones that you haven't thought about because you have been looking at the problem for too long.

Big Little Stories

- When science fiction becomes life.

- When I grow up, I want to be just like them.

- Being a gentleman is back in fashion.

- Give someone a gift of home.