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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.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Big Little Change digest - January, 2017

All, we know we are possibly coming up on very hard times. Doesn't matter why, doesn't matter how - not in this group anyway, since we agreed to keep politics and religion out of it. Regardless... keep an eye on your friends and family who are struggling. Even if you are not that greatly off yourself... it's possible someone is facing even tougher challenges. See what you can do.

Barter for favors. If you leave nearby, get together to help each other with chores. Give money - no strings attached. Let's stop being squeamish about it. Having been very poor, I know how much difference $10 - 20 can make. Put together a goodie basket for someone - doesn't need to be ousters and caviar: some pasta or rice, some good bread, some veggies, crackers, cookies, maybe some fruit. Places like Old World Specialties, Wisconsin Cheese Man and such have some great foods - soups, gift baskets, breakfasts. You get the idea. Do something. If you are on the other side of the equation - ask for help. Your friends are here. Let them know. When things get better, you can pay it forward. This is no time to be shy - give help, get help, let's hang on to each other. We are going to need it.

Weekly small change challenges

Week 1 - Find a simple pleasure.

One of the most touching stories about making room for fun even when you have very little is told in Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker. In the chapter about financial buckets (charity, savings, fun, etc.), he talks about a woman who was in very dire straits financially and had only one dollar at the end of each week to distribute between her "buckets". This meant - she had only 25 cents to spend on fun. Her solution? She bought a 25-cent pack of gum that came with a little cartoon insert - and that was her fun for the week. Eventually, through discipline and wise use of the "buckets", she pulled herself out of the financial hole and was able to move on to a better job and a better life.

Not all simple pleasures have the same impact, but they are important and necessary. We are not meant to work all the time - and there is plenty of proof that, after a certain point, more work doesn't mean better productivity. In fact - it can mean less. Find a simple pleasure that is easy to enjoy on a fairly regular basis and make it a regular ritual. Something you can always rely on. Something you can always look forward to. You deserve it.

Week 2 - Do something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t.

If it costs money - brainstorm how you can make it happen. If it costs courage - meditate, ponder, do whatever you have to do - but make it happen. If it requires help from friends and family - be brave and ask them. Some will look at you like you are crazy. Others will pitch in and cheer you on with delight. We all have dreams - great and small. We deserve to allow ourselves to find time and means to bring those dreams to reality. Pinpoint one - and get to it.

Week 3 - Stop slouching.

Sorry, I'm going to be your mother for a minute. Or grandmother. Or aunt. Whoever it was that told you to stop slouching.

First of all, it's bad for you physically. Slouching jeopardizes your lung capacity and limits the supply of oxygen to your body, including your brain. It also weakens your torso and shoulder muscles, putting too much burden on your spine, thus distorting it and leading to back pain. Second, it forces you to look down, limiting your field of vision to mud, dust, asphalt, cracks in the sidewalk, and dog poop. If you go through the world seeing mostly those things, you might eventually come to believe it consists of nothing else.

Third, slouching communicates all the wrong things - to the world and to yourself. Slouching says "I don't care" or "I don't really want to be out here so I am going to try and hide inside myself" or "I am not at all proud of myself, I am ugly and should be kept in a broom closet under the stairs." Not good. Lift your chin up, roll your shoulders back, and walk through the world like you own it.

Week 4 - Replace one thing on your grocery list.

It's tough keeping yourself and your family eating well and healthfully. First of all, so-so eating habits are tough to change, and second, with demand still low, organic and gluten-free products still cost significantly more than the regular stuff.

So, to soften the blow, start with just one thing. Next month, replace just one thing with a better, healthier, or more environmentally-friendly option. For example, replace General Mills' Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal with one from Cascadian Farms or Kashi. Replace regular rice with brown rice. Replace regular pasta with a gluten-free one. Replace soda with a mix of sparkling water and fruit juice. After a month, replace another regular item. Then next month, another one. In a year, you will have replaced 12 things on your shopping list with something that's better for you and yours.

Big Little Stories

It seems that Bangladesh - one of the poorest countries on Earth - is doing something effective about extreme poverty. It's encouraging to know that something can be done, given the will. Perhaps the richer nations can learn something from this?

On December 7, 2016 at 3:15 pm EST everyone in the Mission Hospital Revenue Cycle Education Department who wasn't teaching gathered around two big tables we filched from the auditorium and got to work - sorting and packing red cloth bags.

On Saturday, during one of the annual dinners for the homeless given by one of many local charities, the attendees will walk away with goodie bags filled with basic necessities: t-shirts, socks, gloves, hats, full-size toiletries (shampoo/conditioner, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, deodorant, q-tips, razor), snack baggies, and, yes, books - complete with little plastic magnifiers tucked in as bookmarks. So proud of my teammates.

This is how you know these boys were brought up right - in how they treat women.

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