"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.
After much consideration, writer Cheri Lasota decided to take a leap and turn one of her publications into an audiobook. We sat down with Cheri to congratulate her on the new release and get her thoughts on all things life.
What is your favorite virtue?
For me, kindness is the highest ideal a human can aspire to. It strangely takes a lot of effort to be kind in this world of Facebook arguments, bullying at schools, and closed door fighting. When we treat strangers more kindly than our loved ones, the world has turned topsy turvy. Kindness is what allows love to flourish and communication lines to be opened. It is what I strive for every day of my life.
Your favorite qualities in a man.
This one goes with the first question. Kindness. First and foremost. Nothing is more important to me--not even love. A person may profess to love another, but spend his or her days not showing that love through kindness or consideration. When I think of my favorite literary characters--Sydney Carton, Jamie Fraser, Tristan Vazante--it is their selflessness, their consideration of the women they love that intrigues and wows me the most.
Your favorite qualities in a woman.
In a world where women are bombarded with images and ideals of unattainable perfect, I’d say the number one characteristic that impresses me most is confidence. It takes a great deal of courage for many women to say: “I matter. I have value. Beyond labels, beyond stereotypes, I am a hero to others, including myself.”
I hope one day all women might see how amazing, how courageous they really are.
Your chief characteristic.
My main character trait is probably a deep sense of justice. I’ve spent a lifetime in deep introspection and I study people and the world through a hot and cold lens. Perhaps it’s why I naturally tend toward writing fiction. I need to explore the sorrows and joys of this world, but I also need the protection of the fictional in order to make sense of the confusion and the pain.
What do you appreciate the most about your friends?
The kindness and selflessness of my friends astounds me every day. They are so dear to me. I treasure them so much. And most of my friends are writers, so they just get my personal brand of “crazy.” You know?
Your main fault.
I have quite a temper, actually. Once I see injustice, it’s incredibly hard for me to keep my mouth shut and let it go or let it go on. If I do, I feel like I’m condoning bad behavior--something I cannot abide.
Your favorite occupation.
Writing, of course. =) But really, every part of the writing process. Each has its own trials and euphoria: the research, the plotting, the writing, the editing, the marketing. Each step in the journey makes the culminating publication a powerful addiction. Somebody stop me!
Your idea of happiness.
Joy for me is balance: noisy afternoons at the coffeeshop writing, dinner with friends, travel to parts unknown, moonrises, good quality sleep, hearing from a reader that what you wrote touched them deeply… all of these things are happiness to me.
Your idea of misery.
Misery is being misunderstood, being unheard, being ignored, being hated.
If not yourself, who would you be?
I would be a composer of film scores. I adore music almost more than writing.
Your favorite heroes in fiction.
I mentioned two of my favorites above, Sydney Carton and Jamie Fraser. Others include: Edna Pontellier, Elizabeth Bennett, Finnian Bell, and also Arethusa. When I first wrote her, she was me. She helped me through a difficult time in my life and she made it through, which gave me courage to keep moving forward toward happiness. She is like my fictional doppelgänger.
Your favorite heroes in real life.
My mother is the biggest hero in my life. She is such a dear soul. The best person I’ve ever known. I aspire to be her every day.
Your favorite food and drink.
Potatoes. With butter. Yes, lots of butter. Maybe just the butter… And, of course, coffee. Of course!
What is your present state of mind?
Anxious! I have so many projects up in the air--3 novel series, a video lecture course, three workshops to give, and several client edits. Some days, I wonder if there is actually time to shower, breathe, or sleep. (Usually not.)
Your personal motto.
My motto is Latin (and also coincidentally NASA’s motto): Per ardua ad astra. Through hardship to the stars. It mean to me than I can fully explain. Perhaps it’s how I view life in general. It certainly describes my life.
Cheri's book Artemis Rising can be found in its brand-new audio format on Audible and iTunes, as well as an eBook on Kindle and Kobo.