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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, December 1, 2015

Big Little Change digest - December, 2015

Weekly small change challenges

Week 1 - “Just because” gifts

Ok, I admit it – I am a pathological gift giver. I love surprising people. I love feeding people. It's just fun for me. And I am not alone in this. When a friend of mine was moving, she let me have some of her fantastic vintage stuff she was not using. In exchange, once she moved, I sent her some books, some wall art and some homemade goodies to help her feel more at home in the new place.

Another friend and I routinely try to outdo each other in terms of who sends more food to whom. I make a lot of home-made jams and pickles, but she has a Russian food store nearby. So, we keep sending care packages back and forth.

In general, there is just something about having something that someone else doesn't have, and being able to share. For instance, if you have friends that got hit by this summer's weird weather (extreme drought on one side of the country, and extreme rain on the other), send them some home-grown veggies and herbs, because theirs probably didn't survive. If someone you know is sick, recovering from a surgery, or just feeling lonely and going through a tough time, put together a little box of things for them – maybe a humorous book, some good cookies and hot chocolate.

USPS has an awesome Click-n-Ship option, where you can print out your own shipping labels. I use it constantly. I even replaced my broken postal scale for this very reason – to be able to weigh packages and be my own one-person post office. There are many small boxes that fit into regular mail boxes, and there are many nice and thoughtful things you can fit into a small box. So, stay tuned to your friends and family, and become a "make someone's day" expert. It is absolutely worth it.

Week 2 - Just park it

How tired are we of people endlessly circling parking lots of America looking for THE SPOT? Cutting each other off… shouting… getting frustrated… hovering behind someone who appears to be loading up his car and getting ready to leave…

Look, unless you have a valid medical reason (no, “I don’t feel like walking” is not a valid medical reason) to need a parking spot near the entrance of a building you need to get into, just park the car wherever. And walk. In fact, do it on purpose – enter the parking lot from the back and park in the first empty spot you see from that direction.

This does tons of good things across the board. It gives you the opportunity to get in a little exercise. It leaves plenty of room for people who really do need to park closer to the store. It reduces the amount of exhaust you produce while creeping around the lot – creeping being the second least efficient mode, in which your car can operate, after idling.

Considering our ancestors had to walk or take a horse-and-buggy to go miles away in order to obtain the necessary supplies, surely most of us can be bothered to walk a hundred yards – the length of a football field, which we’ve seen traversed at a run multiple times within one hour by football players. It’s not that far. Park and walk.

Week 3 - Stop dreading Mondays

... Or any particular day of the week or month – like the bill paying day, for example. Or the grocery shopping day. Remember, when you say something is going to be an awful day – even as a joke (as in, "Sheesh, has this been a MONDAY or what?") – your subconscious doesn't know it's a joke. All it knows is that, for some reason, you are compelled to feel depressed on a specific day of the week or month, and so, it obligingly stores that information and acts on it every time that day arrives.

Don't do this to yourself. It's just a day. Another day to breathe, and walk, and hear, and see. Another day to wake up and grab the world by the tail. So, who cares what day of the week it is?

Week 4 - be nice to your car.

"WHAT?!" you might ask. "Weren't we all about saving the world and all that? What does that have to do with my car?"

Consider how much time you spend in your car. How do you feel when you have a long drive coming up? Is it something you look forward to or is it more like a sense of dread, complete with hamburger wrappers and water bottles on the inside, and a layer of last spring's pollen on the outside? And how long has this "check engine" light been on?

Your car is a part of your environment. So, make it the kind of environment that allows you to focus on your way to work and relax on the way home or to a vacation. Clean it out, discipline yourself to budget for regular car maintenance, find a car wash in the area, and give it a $5 wash every 2-3 weeks. You'd be amazed at the difference having a clean, well-cared-for car can make in your mental state.

Week 5 - - pick a song, any song.

Sometimes, it is tough to find time to exercise. Even when you already don't watch TV, there are still plenty of distractions, especially the ever-present Internet. I find that the easiest way to build any habit, including the exercise habit, is to start small.

So, find some songs that never fail to get you moving. Make a playlist on your MP3 player, your smartphone, or on your computer. Every morning, as you pop out of bed, queue up one song and come up with a little exercise routine to go with it. Most songs are less than five minutes long – surely, you can squeeze it in somewhere. Maybe set the alarm five minutes earlier – it's just a few minutes, it's not like it's a whole hour or half an hour.

This will get your heart pumping, get you moving, give you an energy boost, and start you off in a good mood.

Big Little Stories

- An awesome home for those who had nowhere else to go.

- Paying it forward at its best.

- A great step to put Detroit back on its feet.

- An awesome story - and it's true!

- Handicapped - NOT!

For more challenges and stories, please visit our web site or our Facebook group.

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