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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.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Big Little Change digest - April, 2016

Weekly small change challenges

Week 1 - pretend you are on vacation.

This is equally tough for those of us who work at the office and those who work from home. We get bogged down in a daily routine, where everything takes place the same way, day after day, week after week. We yearn for something different, but there is no time to break away – SERIOUSLY break away.

So fake it. Working from home and being the primary person responsible for most household duties, I rarely go anywhere, and believe me – it does get old, even living in a beautiful house in the middle of lovely woods. So, when I go to the post office, or to the grocery store, or to run some other errand, I pretend like I am on a mini-vacation. I purposely take a slightly longer route to get there, crank up my most upbeat music, and let my mind roam free. Sometimes it's only a 20-30 minute trip, but it's a great way to re-set and re-focus.

Week 2 - "That’s easy for you to say” is never true

The truth of the matter is that everyone has problems. Life is wonderful and exciting, but easy it is definitely not. Nor is it straightforward. Sometimes, the cheeriest exterior hides the darkest secrets and the worst tragedies. Some people like to wear their lives on their sleeve. Some don't. Nothing wrong with either way of handling life's challenges. However, one thing to remember is – just because someone doesn't complain as much doesn't mean they have nothing to complain about. They just choose not to.

So, please, never, never, never, assume that someone's life is easier than yours.

Week 3 - one more thing.

"Never put off until tomorrow what you put off yesterday until today." So says a Georgian proverb. But what if we became intentional about this? What if we made a point of tackling our tasks in such a way, that playing catch-up with the seemingly never-ending list of stuff to do became obsolete?

As you are wrapping up for the day, find a small task you initially set aside for another day – nothing more than five or ten minutes – and do it. Trust me, I totally understand what it's like to be out of energy and dragging your feet at the end of the day. Which is why the task can be something really small. Like loading the dishwasher and letting it run overnight. Or putting away dishes you washed after dinner. Folding a small load of laundry. Paying a bill. That sort of thing.

It's quite amazing when you wake up the next morning and realize you have one less thing to do. It's almost as if a good fairy came by and did you a favor – except you also have the satisfaction of knowing that you were your own good fairy.

Week 4 - be nice to yourself.

I know quite a few people who take care of a disabled parent, child, or spouse. Having spent some time helping take care of my mom when her bone tumor resurfaced, I can understand the determination to devote all of yourself to your loved one. The problem with that is – you are not invincible. You need taking care of too.

Think about it. What will happen to people you take care of, if you overwork yourself and collapse? What will happen, if you can't get out of bed because you haven't had a decent sleep in days, and let's not even start on that vacation? Even the strongest of us need some sort of rest and relaxation. Two stories come to mind. In The Ring of Nine – my grandfather’s book about the Siege of Leningrad during World War II – there is a tough and endearing character of Nurse Lida. She caring for the sick and wounded soldiers in a hospital in besieged Leningrad. Sometime it took quite some time for Nurse Lida to get to the hospital. At one point, one of the soldiers reproached her for being late. However, she explained that she took a safer route through the city, sometimes taking a longer way around the areas that were more likely to be bombed by the Germans. She did that to make sure she stayed alive another day and actually made it there to take care of all those soldiers.

Another story is from my own life. We didn't celebrate my 14th birthday, because my mom was very sick by then, and it just didn't seem appropriate. However, my classmates held a celebration of Soviet Army Day – which was essentially a kind of boys/men's day – Saturday, February 25. I asked my dad if I could go. He initially resisted, but my grandparents reminded him that I'd been working very hard and deserved a break. I did go and had an amazing time – hadn’t laughed like that in months. My mom died the morning after. I think I dealt with that a lot better than expected because I had that little energy boost the night before....

Big little stories

- Sometimes, kids come up with the best ideas.

- Help us raise money to send books to schools and colleges.

- Don't forget - Big Little Change is also a Kiva team.

- Fresh water is a precious commodity. It is very encouraging that more inventors are coming up with ways to get water out of the air.

- Bacteria to the rescue!

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