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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, July 2, 2015

Big Little Change digest - July, 2015

Weekly small change challenges

Week 1 - share a thought.

We spend a lot of time curbing our thoughts. Between political correctness and self-policing ("Oh, that's just stupid!" or "They'll just laugh at me!") there are many fascinating thoughts and ideas that go unspoken and are lost forever.

Dare yourself to express a thought you wouldn't ordinarily mention. See what comes out of it.

Week 2 - who are you?

One of the most challenging, thought-provoking, and profoundly fascinating exercises I did at Jack Canfield's Breakthrough to Success seminar in 2014 was the "who are you?" exercise. People paired up, and one of the partners asked the other "Who are you?" repeatedly for 90 seconds.

For a minute and a half, we had to come up with things about ourselves that defined us. Some were easy: wife, mother, working woman, etc. But that only filled in a few seconds. There was a lot more time left, and a lot more to remember about ourselves - roles we didn't even realize we took on, day in - day out: family account manager, homework assistant, household chef...

Pair up with a friend, or your child, or your spouse and try this out. You are bound to learn much about each other and about yourselves.

Week 3 - do something you don't want to.

That exercise you've been meaning to start doing regularly. That attic you know needs to be cleaned up and organized. That bunch of things with missing buttons and falling down hems waiting to be fixed up and returned to wearable. You know they are there. They are bugging you. You hate them. You don't want to deal with any of them, but your dislike for them doesn't make them go away miraculously.

Pick one. Do it. Get it off your plate for good. Some other time pick another one. Do it. Cross it off your list. Put a big, fat, luscious check mark next to it. And buy yourself ice cream to celebrate.

Week 4 - say what you mean.

I am currently rereading the biography of Chopin by Faina Orzhekhovskaya (for the two hundredth time). At one point, Chopin becomes frustrated by the increasing wordiness of his then-fiancee Maria Vodzinskaya. Instead of "I am waiting for you. I love you," she writes "We shall be delighted to have the pleasure of your presence," and so on.

Ditch. That. Stuff. I am not suggesting being rude or overusing profanity (although, even that has its time and place). But say what you mean and how you mean it. Too often, the meaning gets lost in the profusion of words. This is particularly detrimental in our age of electronic communications, because, without visual, and auditory interaction, we lose over 90% of our communication tools. This makes saying what you mean in a way that cannot be misunderstood all the more important.

It is an art. It is not easy. But it is necessary, for the evidence of constantly worsening communication between individuals, companies, and entire nations is mounting. It's time to speak plainly - we'll all be better for it.

Week 5 - start something.

Kiva web site and Uncommon Goods catalog are among my greatest sources of inspiration, because they often talk about people and group who started businesses and initiated fundamental changes in their communities with hardly anything at all. A sewing circle. A cooking club. A study group. It started small but, somehow, struck just the right chord with people in the community and grew into something the originators never even imagined.

Another great example is the "surprise gift" initiative that sometimes circles Facebook. People commit to send surprise gifts to others who, in turn, commit to the same. So, what could you start today that would have a positive impact on your community - be it a real or a virtual one? It might not catch on. It might not "explode". But there has to be something you could launch today that could change someone's life for the better tomorrow.

Big little stories

- If you have a few shoe boxes lying around, save them - they make awesome shipping boxes for anything small. We like to use them for sending around home-made pickles, preserves and Christmas coffee cakes.

- A different approach toward mental health.

- We still have some awesome cops out there.

- Pet shop owner goes beyond just selling pet stuff.

- Learn to make paper airplanes, hats, boats, and frogs. It's the easiest and cheapest way to make friends with a child.

- Strangers make certain a homeless man doesn't lose his money.

- Maasai women lead a solar revolution.

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