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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.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Big Little Change digest - July, 2014

Weekly small change challenges

Week 1 - glamorize the ordinary.

There are few things more commonplace than getting out of bed and getting ready every morning. Unless you are Batman suiting up to save Gotham City, Sir Lancelot preparing for the jousts, or Sauri getting ready for her initiation as a maiko. Then it’s no longer ordinary – then it’s cool.

We do this very well as children – transform ordinary events of the day into adventures. I have no idea why we give up on it as adults. We really shouldn’t. Sure it may seem ridiculous – but who cares? Nobody knows what goes on in your head when your brush your teeth or drive off to get groceries. If having Eye of the Tiger playing in your head (or in your headphones) helps you start your day better – then play it. If you want to button your buttons, tie your shoe laces, and buckle your belt like Aragorn before the Battle of Morannon – then do so.

So many things have gotten so pragmatic, so analyzed and practical these days. There is nothing wrong if you decide to add some fun to life through effective use of your imagination and sense of humor.

Week 2 - clean it up.

I love the states that encourage people to recycle by charging a little extra per container and then reimbursing shoppers for each can and bottle at the grocery store recycling stations and machines.

When I lived in Rochester, NY, paid recycling had an entire culture around it. Like all large American cities, Rochester did have its homeless. But they knew they could always gather up a bag of bottles and cans by the side of the road, turn them in at the grocery store, and get enough money to buy a sandwich and a cup of hot coffee. College campuses and apartment complexes often let their minimum-wage groundskeepers and night concierges have their recycling to help boost their earnings. Parents could always send the kids out to clean a section of their street and a few yards and let them keep the recycling money for movies and ice cream. In a small way, that ever-present, ever-rewarded recycling habit impacted almost every area of life.

I understand not all of us live in states that offer this wonderful option. We can all start petitions to our state governments to implement this. We can all become ruthless to litterers throwing trash out of their cars and onto our streets and report them whenever possible. In the meantime – it’s still not a bad idea to gather up your kids and their friends and go on a cleaning walk around your neighborhood. Those of us living along smaller country roads are well familiar with the frustration of dealing with inconsiderate people using our roadsides as trash bins. But we do have a choice to work off that frustration by taking the initiative clean up. So what we weren’t the ones who made the mess? We are the ones who have to live there – we might as well clean it up. And if your state doesn’t have recycling incentives, you can get together with your neighbors or friends and set up a pizza and/or ice cream party for your helpers to reward them.

Week 3 - micro-give.

I am utterly and unabashedly in love with Kiva, Heifer, NPR, and other organizations, where a small amount of money is combined with other small amounts to make great things happen. Their operation is the very cornerstone of making big changes by starting with small ones. Kiva, in this sense, is my favorite. Their minimum donation is $25; it goes not to the organization’s operating costs, but directly toward someone’s business loan all around the world; and, being a loan – not a grant, it eventually returns to you. Once a loan is fully repaid, you can take the same $25 and invest it into another loan. And another one. And another… several. You can choose to make additional contributions, or you can just stick with the original money you put in – knowing all the while that the little bit you contributed is helping someone somewhere get on his or her feet. And that, as they say in the MasterCard commercials, is priceless.

Week 4 - another 15 minutes.

How often do you hit the “snooze” button on your alarm clock? Or think, “Ugh, I wish I had another 15 minutes.” Make it happen.

So many of us tend to run at top speed, collapse into bed in sheer exhaustion, and then drag ourselves up and out to do it all again. The more we do this, the more we hate it, and the more hopeless it all feels.

Downsize your hobbies, con your kids by changing every clock in the house, negotiate with your spouse around chores – in short, do whatever you have to do, but challenge yourself to go to bed 15 minutes early. With time, discipline, and structure, your organism will happily accept this small gift and become accustomed to making itself ready for rest, which means you’ll fall asleep easier, sleep better, and wake up the next morning more refreshed and less stressed.

Member contributions

Big little change at work - imagine if all people with adequate means would do this for others.

After a lively discussion and a bit of research from my faithful and fierce Facebook friends, we have all come to a conclusion - you all MUST get some of these tomatoes. Plant some, grow them, and enjoy. I have some growing in my green house, and they are AMAZING.

Public service announcements

Another power girl with a new invention.

Feed the butterflies - save the eco system.

The elements - wind, water, and heat - working together to bring energy and water to the desert.

Solar-powered water wheel goes to work cleaning out the Baltimore Harbor.

Last year's renewable energy breakthroughs.

Recommended reading

- Key to living the law of attraction by Jack Canfield

- The Not So Big House by Sarah Susanka

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