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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, September 9, 2016

Big Little Change digest - September, 2016

Weekly small change challenges

Week 1 - Have an anthem.

It doesn't necessarily have to be your favorite song. But maybe something that brings your life into focus. Something you put on during hard times, when you struggle to achieve what you need to achieve.

I personally found the idea silly, until I stumbled onto the anthem of my own one day, and, somehow, it stuck. I kept returning to it for all sorts of reasons - when I worked on my fitness goals, when I tried to define my purpose in life, when I struggled to explain to people why I work on the things I work on. Somehow, one song, helped me bring it all into focus, and now, when I find my attention diffusing, I play it, and it pulls me back together.

Week 2 - Keep track of things

My husband makes fun of my propensity to keep spreadsheets for EVERYTHING, but even he cannot deny that keeping a close record of things that are important comes in useful. The household account spreadsheet is always there to let us know what we have in the bank, what's been spent, what's been saved, and can we splurge on a date night. The book-related file helps me keep track of promotions, book sales, and royalties. The fitness spreadsheet is for staying on top of my fitness goals and recording my accomplishments.

There is something about pulling information together that organizes your mind and helps you find new ways to do things more efficiently. I am not saying EVERYONE should have these elaborate files - with pivot tables and graphs - I have constructed for myself. But I do encourage keeping track of things - even if you decide to do so in a journal or an old-fashioned ledger.

It can also be fun. Here are some amusing things from my fitness spreadsheet:

• In April, 2014 I lifted the total of 131,275 pounds - the equivalent of 11 male African elephants.

• Between January and August, 2014, between treadmill and outside walks, I have walked 71.83 miles.

• Between June, 2014 and June, 2015 I have walked 2,466,164 steps totaling 1,167 miles, which is just under half the distance from New York to Los Angeles.

Week 3 - Have a list.

Even those of us with phenomenal memory cannot remember everything they need to do. And most of us do not have phenomenal memory. So, let's all do ourselves a favor and save ourselves some frustration and write things down.

Grocery lists. To-do lists. They are quaint but effective. Not only do they save us from having to keep everything in our heads - they also carry with them the sense of accomplishment when you start crossing things off. Doesn't it feel good, when you take a BIG marker and just cross off that laundry, or vacuuming, or weeding, or whatever else needs to get done? Yeah! The visual appeal of a list with stuff crossed off is undeniable.

Another list worth having is savings list. I saw this at the home of a family member - they had it on the wall. "Things to save for" with the list of items and prices. It can be anything - from a new coffee maker to a replacement washer and dryer. What I liked about my relatives' list was that it was placed prominently, where all members of the household could see it. So, the next time one of the kids was of the mind to whine about a new phone or some such, they could glance at that list and reconsider - new phone vs. setting aside a bit more for that snorkeling trip. I thought it was a great idea and we are working on implementing something similar at our house.

Week 4 - Decide what you want to be known as.

While watching a documentary about the creation of the show Fraggle Rock, I discovered Jim Henson was known as "The Great Appreciator". Even when someone was messing up, he somehow found something nice to say - and the best part about it was, it was always sincere and genuine. That's a great thing to be known as, isn't it? Give some thought to what you would like to be known as. A Great Motivator? A Great Collaborator? A Great Facilitator? A Great Innovator? The possibilities are endless.

Big little stories

Little libraries and little pantries - we need more of both.

Let's plant some shit!

Later this afternoon a representative from Hope's Closet, a local thrift store whose proceeds support the domestic violence shelter they also run, is coming by to pick up a donation of items I no longer need including some furniture. One day a week the residences come in and shop for free. I decided to go with them due to the local impact. Next time you have a donation consider the small charity thrift store. Make a small change for you and a big change for others!

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