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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.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Big Little Change digest - February, 2015

Weekly small change challenges

Week 1 - share the warmth.

A few weeks ago, when I was paying my electricity bill on line, I noticed a small paragraph added under the bill total amount. The paragraph asked whether I would like to add a small amount to my bill (not recurring - on a time-by-time basis) to help heat the homes of the less fortunate. Hell yeah! Money was tight, but this seemed like such a great idea - and so in sync with the Big Little Change concept - I tagged on a few dollars to my bill and happily paid a larger amount.

Service providers in your area might be running similar initiatives. Check on their web sites and find out if there is a way you can help with someone's electricity, water, heating costs, and other utilities. If not, perhaps there is a grocery drive you can participate in.

The season of giving doesn't end with the holidays. It should continue year-round. Share the warmth.

Week 2 - don't post. Do.

There are lots of these things floating around Facebook, "Post in the next five minutes if you love your mom." "Share if you have amazing friends." "See who loves their dog." "Post if your children mean the world to you."

To be honest, I find these kind of silly. Aside from those cases, when people grew up in really unfortunate circumstances, surrounded by abusive family members, or their children became serial killers, of COURSE we love our moms, our kids, our dogs, and our friends. And not re-posting this stuff doesn't mean we suddenly don't care.

So, the next time you see one of these or feel the urge to post one - don't. Do something instead. "Post if you love your mom." - If your mom is still around, call her or send her a just-because card. Or, if she is not, take a moment to bring up one of the good memories you've had together, bake her favorite cookies or some such.

"Share if your kids mean the world to you" - instead, schedule a longer reading time with your kids, send them a "hey, thinking of you" e-mail if they are away in college, have some small surprise waiting for them.

"If you are not chicken, share this in the next five minutes and show how much you care about the environment." - Meh... guilt tripping. Go plant a tree instead. Take a walk in the park. Send a donation to the World Wildlife Fund.

You get the idea. Just... do.

Week 3 - end your vacation 3 days early.

We often struggle withe the end-of-vacation blues and do our darndest to stretch is as long as we can. However, as counterintuitive as it may sound, I'd recommend starting your transition from vacation back to work in advance.

If you are going away for vacation, plan your trip to get home a few days early. That way, you have time to alleviate some of the jet lag, settle in, do the travel laundry, straighten out your house and de-stress. Instead of having a jarring "where did my vacation go" leap from home to office, you can transition smoothly, feeling properly wound-down and rested - as one ought after a good vacation - ready to tackle whatever challenges your job might have in store for you.

Week 4 - 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.

Member contributions

Remember that somewhat esoteric small change challenge we had a few weeks ago? The one about remembering you might be someone's example?

I was at the gym yesterday doing some strength training before my zumba class. I was on a stand that allows you to do knee-ups and leg lifts, among other things. Two ladies walked up and watched me for a little bit while I was doing those, and then asked me if it was hard. I explained it was a tough question to answer because it really depended on a person's ab and leg strength. So, I showed them both how to do those properly and helped spot them while they tried. They both agreed they would need some work. And then they thanked me and said, "But you made it look SO easy!"

I was once again reminded that, while I might not think of myself as an athlete or a fitness expert, where I am today IS a point yet to be achieved for many people. And it was great fun and rewarding to be able to help someone out along the way.

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It snowed this morning and we ended up with about 1½" to 2". We live in a condo but they only shovel when we get more than 4". We bought a small snow thrower a couple of years ago. I was clearing our half of the driveway and kept looking at the other half. Our neighbor just moved in back in August. She's a single mother about 40 and has a 9 year old daughter. I was cold, tired, and couldn't feel my toes. I wanted to call it quits and go inside and thaw out but I couldn't. I cleared her half of the driveway too. It's not completely clear and I didn't do her small sidewalk but I did enough to make it a little easier for her when she gets home tonight.

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Public service announcements

A great idea for helping out someone stuck in the cold.

Some good info on container gardening when you don't have enough space for a full-scale vegetable patch.

Tiny houses could help lower income families get high-quality, wonderfully designed homes.

Pizza slice for a stranger? Why not?

Ideas for random acts of kindness.

Recycle your used electronics.

Authors Supporting Our Troops 2015 campaign is officially underway!

To find out more about the Big Little Change movement, please visit our web site and join our Facebook group.

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