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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, March 1, 2016

Big Little Change digest - March, 2016

Weekly small change challenges

Week 1 - pack early.

When you travel, consider packing two days in advance, instead of the day before you have to leave. That way, you have a whole day to remember all those things you forgot to pack, instead of 15 minutes before you have to leave.

Week 2 - make it more than the pounds.

A few months ago, my employer ran a very cool wellness initiative for all the employees. It was entirely up to every individual to join, folks could track it on their own or join a team, and after you reached a certain goal, you got a $40 Amazon gift certificate (that's free books, y'all).

Yeah, sure, it was a big corporate thing in an attempt to lower health insurance rates. However, one of my favorite things about it was that you could track your fitness in more than one way. Yes, the amount of weight you lost was one of the options. But you could also track the number of minutes you exercised per day, or the number of steps you walked (a free – albeit somewhat crappy – pedometer was sent to you at the beginning of the program). Also, there were challenges that team members could issue to each other, and those ranged from exercising a certain number of minutes per day, to doing a random act of kindness, to reading 30 minutes per day.

It was very cool to watch how people chose to implement their fitness goals, and how many opted to issue challenges that were not directly related to one's physical activities.

The number on the bathroom scale and the number on your clothing label have both gained A LOT of negativity associated with them. So, as you consider setting up your fitness routine, make it about something else. Steps. Minutes. Miles. Reading. Hiking. Acts of kindness. Anything goes.

Week 3 - stop negative self-talk.

"I am SUCH an idiot – I can't believe I just did that!" Fess up, people, we all do this sort of thing. This is another tough one. Sometimes, we say negative things about ourselves so easily, we don't even notice.

You know who does notice? First of all, people around you. Especially people who love you. And it bothers them. Because they don't want you to think of yourself as an idiot, but they are afraid if they say something, you'll just brush them off. You probably have in the past.

Second, your subconscious notices. And it stores this information for a LONG time – sometimes forever. And this keeps building up, and building up, and building up some more – until you become increasingly convinced that you are the ugliest, stupidest, most despicable creature in the world, for no good reason, other than the fact that you have told yourself so too many times.

Stop. Every time you are tempted to say something terrible about yourself, stop. Take a pause. If your need to say something is so great that you can't contain it, rephrase what you say. Criticize your actions at that particular moment – but not yourself. As in, "Well, that was not the smartest thing I've done all day. Why don't I try another way?"

None of us are perfect. We all make mistakes, we all do dumb stuff. But that does not make us dumb – just our actions, the results of a poor decision made at some point. You are not dumb. You are not ugly. You are not horrible. You are not all those other monstrous things you sometimes say about yourself. You are human. If you find your own error – good for you. Now you can correct it. If someone finds it first and points it out to you – don't go flying off the handle, thank them for their help and move on to fix it.

The same goes for your perceived inabilities. It is true that some of us are better at some things than others. But there is a whole range of things that we could be good at.

Week 4 - Do your job as if you were your own customer.

Many years ago I worked as a project engineer for a small, privately owned food manufacturer. This wasn't my first experience working in manufacturing environment, but definitely my first in the food industry. I was struck by how many safeguards were put in place to protect every... single... container of product that came off the conveyor. It was unbelievable. It was then that I realized that for every scandal, every recall we hear about there are thousands, tens of thousands that are prevented every day.

Food is very personal. We can all believe different things, read different books, watch different movies, but we all have to eat. So, the attitude at that factory was that if we didn't take care of the wholesomeness and integrity of everything we sent out for distribution, it could be one of us or one of our loved ones to pick up a contaminated container of food off the shelf the next time we went grocery shopping. It was a very sobering thought, and the one that motivated most people who worked there to treat everything we produced as if it was going straight to their table.

Now, let's extrapolate this to all other jobs. I know not all of us work our dream jobs. I know how it can be. I have waited my share of tables, washed my share of cafeteria dishes, and done all manner of other menial tasks that had nothing to do with my education. Sometimes, such is life and such is necessity. But what if we all imagined that the job we were doing was for ourselves or for our friends, or spouses, or children?

Week 5 - camp out.

Of course I am aware that weather conditions don’t always permit camping outside.

What I mean is – if you have someplace to sleep in your house, other than your bedroom, give it a shot. Or, if you have someplace to eat other than your kitchen or your dining room (or wherever you normally eat). It's fun breaking the routine occasionally. For example, I love crashing on my own living room couch now and then or eating seated on the floor around the coffee table. It reminds me of my student days and helps me stay young at heart.

Big little stories

- Farming in the city? Why not?

Sometimes, all you need is a big pink monkey.

Stop feeding the landfills. Here is how.

Big Little Change in action.

One town - zero waste.

For all things Big Little Change including our fabulous on-line store and Down With the Language Barrier initiative, please visit our web site.

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