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.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Big Little Change digest - September, 2014

Weekly small change challenges

Week 1 - keep track of things.

My husband makes fun of my propensity to keep spreadsheets for EVERYTHING, but even he cannot deny that keeping a close record of things that are important comes in useful. The household account spreadsheet is always there to let us know what we have in the bank, what's been spent, what's been saved, and can we splurge on a date night. The book-related file helps me keep track of promotions, book sales, and royalties. The fitness spreadsheet is for staying on top of my fitness goals and recording my accomplishments.

There is something about pulling information together that organizes your mind and helps you find new ways to do things more efficiently. I am not saying EVERYONE should have these elaborate files - with pivot tables and graphs - I have constructed for myself. But I do encourage keeping track of things - even if you decide to do so in a journal or an old-fashioned ledger.

It can also be fun. Here are some amusing things from my fitness spreadsheet:

- In the month of April, I lifted the total of 131,275 pounds - the equivalent of 11 male African elephants.

- Since the beginning of this year, between treadmill and outside walks, I have walked 71.83 miles.

- Since I started tracking my daily step count last June, I have walked 2,591,691 steps totaling 1,227 miles, which is just under half the distance from New York to Los Angeles.

Week 2 - have a list.

Even those of us with phenomenal memory cannot remember everything they need to do. And most of us do not have phenomenal memory. So, let's all do ourselves a favor and save ourselves some frustration and write things down.

Grocery lists. To-do lists. They are quaint but effective. Not only do they save us from having to keep everything in our heads - they also carry with them the sense of accomplishment when you start crossing things off. Doesn't it feel good, when you take a BIG marker and just cross off that laundry, or vacuuming, or weeding, or whatever else needs to get done? Yeah! The visual appeal of a list with stuff crossed off is undeniable.

Another list worth having is savings list. I saw this at the home of a family member - they had it on the wall. "Things to save for" with the list of items and prices. It can be anything - from a new coffee maker to a replacement washer and dryer. What I liked about my relatives' list was that it was placed prominently, where all members of the household could see it. So, the next time one of the kids was of the mind to whine about a new phone or some such, they could glance at that list and reconsider - new phone vs. setting aside a bit more for that snorkeling trip. I thought it was a great idea and we are working on implementing something similar at our house.

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, that 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 - 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.

Member contributions

This woman's story made rounds all over the internet and showed once and for all - you are never too old to make the world a better place.

People paying it forward with a cup of coffee.

Someone "paid it forward" at Chippewa Falls Public Library today. Anonymous patron put money in the copier today and not a single person who needed copies or prints had to pay for them on 8/23. THANK YOU whoever you are from the people in the library who benefited!

Honey Maid's response to bigots.

Public service announcements

Big Little Change web site has been expanded to include Big Little Stories - past member contributions to the group. It's a great place to boost your mood if your day starts on a "meh" note.

What your coffee grounds can do for you!

Big Little Change online store is gearing up for the holiday season with lots of new products - gifts, cards, accessories, etc. Stop by and give a gift of positive message.

Recommended reading

- You're Different and That's Super by Carson Kressley

- Put Your Dream to the Test by John Maxwell

- You've GOT to Read This Book! by Jack Canfield

- Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

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