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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, December 2, 2016

Big Little Change digest - December 2016

Weekly small change challenges

Week 1 - Do something nice for yourself.

So many of us spend our lives taking care of others. "My family needs me." "My kids need me." "My boss needs me." Well, what about you? Don't you need you too? What will happen if, in caring for others, you neglect yourself to a point where you just collapse?

At least once a month, schedule something just for yourself. It can be a champagne lunch. It can be going off to buy a new book. It can be a bubble bath. A box of top-of-the-line chocolate truffles. A slice of strawberry shortcake from the best bakery in town. Something. Make it yours - and only yours. Indulge. Enjoy.

Week 2 - Know your limitations

In Glory Road Robert Heinlein jokingly refers to the US presidential campaigns as "anything you can do I can do better". For months on end, we are showered with promises of this and that, of roads paved with gold and emerald cities. The same goes for other public service offices, businesses, radio stations ("The best classic rock station EVER!"), foods ("It replaces a full meal!"), cosmetic products ("Take years off your face!"), clothes ("Look ten pounds lighter in seconds!") and pretty much everything else we use. Of course... none of them deliver. Which is why so many of us are so disillusioned and reluctant to ask for help - we feel as if whatever is promised, even if it's by a friend, will never be delivered.

Sometimes overpromising occurs because someone really is very eager to help, excited, and swept up in the moment - forgetting umpteen things already on their plate. This has happened to me a few times - when I was in the middle of something, and a friend eagerly offered to help, only to drop the ball, leaving me not only disappointed, but sometimes in a financial hole.

I do not discourage offering help - not at all. It's wonderful when people offer to help without having to be asked. But before you do - consider what you already have going on. Do you have time? Can you add this new thing to your schedule without jeopardizing your existing commitments? Are you prepared to treat it as you would a work commitment and deliver on time? If something unexpected comes up and you need more time or need to bow out altogether, are you prepared to be honest and own up to it (some people just "disappear" and hope the thing just goes away)?

It's ok to say "You know, I would love to help, but I am just too swamped right now." Or, "Is this something urgent or can I help you with it later - when I have more time?" An unfulfilled promise is worse than no promise at all.

Week 3 - Give something up.

We are not talking about becoming a hermit or going on a diet here. Rather, consider something you really like, set a limited time period, and give it up for that period. More than anything else, it's a discipline exercise and a good time to ponder some important questions.

Can you do without whatever it is? Why or why not? Just how important is the thing in your life? Do you still have other things to occupy you and keep you happy? Will not having (or doing) whatever it is for a time make you treat it differently? Appreciate it differently?

The answers might not only surprise you but send your thoughts down new unexplored paths.

Week 4 - Do something you don’t want to do.

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.

Big Little Stories

- Putting old buildings to work - the right way.

- Helping non-humans is great too.

- A couple of days ago, I submitted an inquiry to Kiva about offering education-related loans and grants. They wrote back to me, and here is their response. It sounds like they are already working on it, which is awesome.

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Thanks so much for your email and your interest in supporting education loans on Kiva. Great news, we do already have a number of education loans fundraising on Kiva, and if you ever aren't seeing them, it's likely just because they're relatively popular on Kiva. But as we continue to grow, one of the areas we're looking to expand our impact in is education, which means that we're continually looking for new partners in this space. Education loans oftentimes can be seasonal in nature, matching times of the year when school fees are due, so please continue to check back for more education loans that you can support here:http://kiva.org/lend#/?sectors%5B%5D=15

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