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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.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Big Little Change digest - June, 2014

Weekly small change challenges

Week 1 - identify patterns that are not working for you.

Do you always do things the same way? And after you have done them, do you feel as if you are running behind schedule or unduly tired? It is possible that the way you line up your daily tasks is not the best.

Don't get me wrong - I love routine. As a borderline patient, with constant chaos going on in my head, routine is the cornerstone of my existence. However, not all routines are good. For example, get up - turn on computer - become drowned in Facebook and e-mail = bad routine. Many of us have done this - and before we know it, it's almost noon, and we are still in our pajamas, nothing else has been done, and all that is left is frustration about the time that mysteriously disappeared on us.

If you feel like Alice in "Through the looking glass" - having to run as fast as you can just to remain in place, and having to run even faster to actually move forward - then maybe it's time to sit down and reconsider how you do things.

Turn off your computer, put your phone to go to voice mail, focus, write down your standard order of operation every day and look for "bottlenecks". Where do you get stuck? Where do you waste time? What tasks can be "nested"?

There are only 24 hours in the day, we do have to eat and sleep - so it's really up to us to either invent a TARDIS or to figure out how to use the time we have in the best possible way and with the least amount of frustration.

Week 2 - follow through.

The biggest disappointments over the course of my life were invariably delivered to me by people who talked a good game and then did nothing. These people were of various ages, various origins, various positions in life - there was no pattern in who they were. They only had one thing in common - they liked to make great, elaborate plans, with a multitude of details, engage others, and then forget about it all. One such individual managed to drive me to a point where I almost lost my faith in humanity.

Know your limitations. If you don't think you can do something - don't take it on until you are ready, especially if it's something that involves other people. If you have made a commitment - follow through. And make certain to keep whoever is on the receiving end of your work appraised of your progress. If you get to a certain point in the project and realize it's starting to be too much and you are not sure how to move on - let your recipient know. See what you can revamp, see what can be adjusted.

Never, never, never promise something, then let it lapse, and then pretend as if it was all just... talk for talk's sake. The world is severely undermined by unfulfilled promises and unfinished projects. Let us not add to that collection.

Week 3 - revise the meaning of "I'm only human".

I hear that a lot. "I wish I could do this, that, and the other thing - but I'm only human". Or, "I tried not to get angry - but I'm only human." Since when did being human become something inferior? Why "only human"?

Physically, chemically, physiologically, neurologically, and in many other ways a human organism is so complex and sophisticated that scientists have yet to figure out how to create an artificial equivalent thereof that would be comparable in size and functionality without being a moving mountain of sensors, processors and tubing.

As "only humans" we are capable of performing hundreds of thousands of operations at once, without even thinking about it. Our systems function on a variety of levels carrying us from one day to the next for decades.

As "only humans" we take care of our homes, our families, our pets, ourselves (not enough of the latter, sometimes), we do our jobs, we write books and music, we create paintings, sculptures, and beautiful buildings.

As "only humans" we determine the course of history and the fate of future generations - human and otherwise - on this planet.

"Only human" is not so little after all. So, consider thinking about your self not as "only human" but just "human". Because "human" is awesome in so many ways - and in many more ways we have yet to discover.

Week 4 - know when to stop.

Some time ago a social media campaign for makeup-free selfies took place. Some of my virtual friends participated. Some looked great, some looked ok, but appearances aside, everyone involved appeared to have fun.

What struck me was the number of truly negative, vitriolic comments following this wave of bare-faced images, directed against people who do use makeup. Generalizations. Exaggerations. Attempted humiliations. You name it – it was there. “Let’s show those women who spend three hours getting ready!” “Makeup is stupid as are those who wear it.” I was stunned by how quickly a seemingly positive trend turned into a storm of negativity. First of all, with the exception of movie and theater actors and fashion models preparing for a show, NOBODY spends three hours getting ready. Yes, some of us take longer than others, but let’s not be ridiculous – we all have lives.

Second, wanting to enhance one’s appearance with makeup has nothing to do with his or hers intellectual abilities. Yes – “his” too. Johnny Depp wears makeup on set and in life. Eddie Izzard does too. I dare you to call them stupid.

The selfie-related wave of shame is not an exception. Somehow, somewhere harmless things became turned upside down and inside out and stamped with a ridiculous label. News item: not all people who dress well are financially irresponsible and mentally superficial; not all wealthy people are evil and corrupt; not all lovers of organic foods are hairy hippies; and not all meat-eaters are thoughtless brutal beasts.

It’s one thing to disagree with someone’s lifestyle. It’s something else entirely to start showering people with mud because they do something generally harmless you disagree with. When tempted to go into an extreme, consider taking a pause and a deep breath to give yourself time to re-think.

Member contributions

A fantastic and inspiring example of paying it forward.

A fire department helps a couple in wheelchairs get to the prom.

It might be hard to feed the entire world, but one man takes steps to make sure kids in his neighborhood are not starving.

Public service announcements

Reduce, reuse, upcycle!

Boxes for those who like to think outside the box.

Urban farming.

Recommended reading

- Freakin' Fabulous on a Budget by Clinton Kelly

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