"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.
Vivienne Tuffnell is a woman of many talents and interests, writing being not the least of them. This holiday season, we sat down to pick the mind of this fascinating woman.
What is your favorite virtue? Kindness to those unable to return the favour.
Your favorite qualities in a man. Integrity of heart and soul.
Your favorite qualities in a woman. Ditto. I think they're equally important for all genders. Women can often be quite nasty to other women, so I'd add something about sisterliness to off-set that terrible problem.
Your chief characteristic. My spiritual teacher once told me he thought I was a visionary, a mystic. This side of my soul infuses everything I do. It's often very hard to define what a mystic is but Evelyn Underhill managed to contain it all in one neat sound bite anyone could understand: Mysticism is the art of union with Reality. The mystic is a person who has attained that union in greater or less degree; or who aims at and believes in such attainment.
What do you appreciate the most about your friends? Loyalty and tolerance.
Your main fault. Pessimism and a temper that takes a lot to fan the flames but which is hard to halt once someone gets me really angry. Ooops, that's two.
Your favorite occupation. Day dreaming.
Your idea of happiness. A bluebell wood in May.
Your idea of misery. Being forced to watch musical theatre with no escape, alongside people who love it, sing along and try to get me to sing along, or even, (shudder) dance.
If not yourself, who would you be? A nun. Probably an anchorite. I considered a vocation to the conventual life when I was 19.
Your favorite heroes in fiction. Can I be a bit narcissistic and say my favourite heroes are the ones I created myself?
Your favorite heroes in real life. That's harder. Most of the real heroes are the unsung ones, who don't get lauded in public. They don't like being singled out and praised, either.
Your favorite food and drink.I really love Green Chartreuse, the teeny tiny bottle that comes at some astronomical strength and is a glorious green. It's like a kaleidoscope of tastes when you have a sip, and you can identify dozens of the several hundred herbs used to make it. Food? Anything with tomatoes. My feel-better comfort food is cream of tomato soup.
What is your present state of mind? Bouncing between depression and elation. Welcome to bi-polar world.
Your personal motto. “If life is a journey, then any short cut is a death trap.”
You can find Vivienne's books on Amazon.
There is always something fascinating going on at her blog Zen and the art of tightrope walking.
You can also catch up with Vivienne on Facebook and Twitter.