About Me

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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.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Today I love... to create

I have heard many people say, "I don't know how to make anything" or "I am really not the artistic type." I don't think those people were entirely fair to themselves. It is my firm belief that there is a power of creation within all of us - it's just that it takes time to figure out what is it in particular that one has the power to create.

When my parents realized I didn't have the health to be a great athlete or dancer, they (fortunately) did not give up on me and encouraged me to use my head and hands, to compensate for whatever I lacked in size and muscle. Writing, singing, needlepoint, beading, pyrography, photography - it was up to me to pick up any of these things and see what I could do with them. For some of them I had instructors (music and writing), other things I picked up from books and magazines or sometimes just by experimentation.

Having started I just... never stopped. Some of my interests may have been set aside for periods of time (sometimes rather long periods), but never entirely. I always remembered how much I enjoyed doing these things and knew that I would pick them back up.

Writing has been my steadiest interest, because through the course of my life I have always had friends and family living somewhere far away, which compelled me to write letters. There was always something to write and someone to write it to. At school, there were also numerous writing assignments in the three sets of language classes (Russian, Ukrainian, and English - language and literature for each). In college there were papers and lab reports for technical courses (and yes, there is such a thing as a poorly-written technical paper) and bits of creative writing for the required liberal arts. After moving to America, there were more papers and tons of letters to my family. Eventually, there were articles, blog posts and finally - books. I suddenly discovered that not only did I have something to say, but there were people who were actually interested in what it was.

Pyrography and photography both started off as accidental childhood interests when I was about ten. My Grandfather's old war friend came to visit and let me take some photos with his camera, later remarking that they came out very well. Pyrography was offered at summer camp. Other girls went to ballroom dancing and sewing classes - but I have already done all that. So I picked pyrography class, despite the fact that I was the only girl there. And so it began... Photography got dropped almost right away, because I didn't have a camera and my parents didn't have the means to get me one. I stuck with pyrography for the next seven years, but then a classmate borrowed my woodburning instrument and never gave it back. Years would pass, but I would come back to both these interests - and with a vengenance, creating a 2,700-image stock photo portfolio and an on-line store to display my woodburning pieces.

While reviving pyrography, I also remembered that I used to be a decent beader as well, so I picked jewelry making at the same time. I wish I could say that my little store was an instant success and my entire inventory was bought out. It wasn't - and it is still not. However, some of my pieces did sell - both directly from the store and through charity auctions. Van Gogh only sold one painting in his lifetime - so who am I to complain about selling half a dozen pieces?

I honestly do not know how I managed to let singing go for as long as I did. I started when I was three and sang steadily - in private and in public - until I was nineteen. Then I moved to the States and just... stopped. It didn't happen right away - for a while I went to the chapel on campus and was able to play and sing there, when no one else needed the piano for service or for practice. But then I moved off campus and lost access to the instrument.

I didn't sing, except very rarely and in private, for well over ten years. Then a Facebook buddy expressed interest in Ukrainian songs, and I recorded and posted one... and another one... and another one... I must have been really starved for singing, because the flood gates opened and before I knew it, I had almost twenty Russian and Ukrainian songs out there. Now my husband and I are talking about re-recording them with better equipment and making a record.

So, why am I telling you all this? I suppose I am more than a little dismayed by the number of people going from work, to home, to work, to home, to playing Farmville, to work, etc. I am very familiar with long work hours and with the "second shift" of household chores. I also don't have anything against computer games - I game myself on occasion. "On occasion" is the key word there. Most of the time, I have far more interesting things to do with my spare time, that are also much more gratifying than beating someone else's score at something or building an imaginary village. When I am done having my kind of fun - I have something to show for it. Not only that, but it is something that someone else might enjoy at some point.

There is more to us than schlepping ourselves off to work to make a living and then schlepping back to stare at the TV or computer screen. We are all good at something... Drawing. Writing. Woodworking. Sewing. Cooking. Landscaping. Growing tomatoes. Something. Find it.

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