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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.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Big Little Change digest - June, 2015

Weekly small change challenges

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Week 1 - 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, that, and roads paved with gold. 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 ponds 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)? These are all important questions to ask before committing to help - be it helping someone move, helping promote someone's work, or helping with a fundraiser.

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 2 - 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 3 - apologize.

Have you been carrying something in your heart - maybe not particularly big or grevious, but nevertheless troublesome? Like a little splinter that just refused to come out because you have inadvertently stepped on someone's foot (be it metaphorically or literally)?

Apologize. Even if it was a long time ago, and there have been no hard feelings. Even if the other person doesn't even remember the incident. Do it for yourself. Explain why whatever it is has been bothering you and say you are sorry. You'll feel better.

Week 4 - adopt a...

I love seeing the "Adopt a highway" signs. Somebody somewhere found a responsibility that wasn't even theirs to begin with, and stuck with it to make our world a little better.

Find something you feel is routinely neglected and adopt it. For example, whenever my husband and his business partner travel somewhere for a long-term consulting project, they adopt the coffee maker for the duration of the project. They make a point to clean it and keep it running at all times. Technically, they don't even work at the place - they are just consultants. They don't own the coffee maker. But they adopt it to make their clients' lives easier for a little bit.

I have several friends who have taken upon themselves to help feed, capture, an neuter feral cats in their area. They've adopted their local feline herd, even though nobody asked them to - just because they felt it was the right thing to do. This week, look for something to adopt. And adopt it.

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Big Little stories

In Japan, restaurants take their leftover food (which is a huge amount due to cultural ideas of generosity when treating people to dinner) and make it available to homeless people at the end of each day.

When people rock a bus for all the right reasons.

Medicinal plants hard at work.

Putting kitchen scraps to work.

We were at the grocery store earlier and just happened to see one of the store's displays of flavored water fall. Not sure if someone bumped it or if something was out of balance and it just happened. What I really liked was seeing how many customers (including myself) picked in to pick the plastic bottles up and help the employees. Just because it's not your job, doesn't excuse you from helping.

Big Little Change - Colbert style.

Students helping students.

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