Character, Language, and Finding Our Deeper Values

The culture of a given society has several layers. Firstly, there are the arts and the achievements, symbols, the figures who represent the nation’s history and contemporary circumstances. A deeper layer, requiring consistent engagement with the culture to understand, encompasses everything from common worldviews and attitudes, to humour and mannerisms. Language is somewhere in between. Objective meanings of words and phrases can be learnt from any textbook. However, exposure to how the language operates within the culture and social interactions reveals its emotional dimension. The connotations of words, their flavour and the pictures they paint, must be felt and cannot be formally taught.

I am familiar with the character of two countries, far removed from each other in geography and culture: immigrating as a nine year old, I’ve retained a strong memory of my native land, the Russian Federation. British teenage years followed a predominantly Russian childhood. Acquiring a a second citizenship at a lively ceremony in 2012 symbolised my assimilation of everything from the South-Eastern dialect to the manners and customs of my new compatriots. Nowadays, I think, speak, and write predominantly in English. During my annual visits to Russia, I receive a few laughs from loved ones at my odd manner and accent. For sure, a different person would have emerged from the absence of an immigration experience, but through bilingualism I have retained ties to my ethnic origin. My soul combines hues from both countries and I am profoundly aware of their disparities.

The importance of core values and how to find them

I’ve learnt that submerging yourself into a second culture or language reveals facts that can seldom be conveyed through a secondary account.

Humour, for example, gives translators more nightmares than laughs. Jokes have roots in history and the intricacies of a given language. A whimsical anecdote from Russia may receive blank stares from a British audience if it depends on the historical resonance of a particular word or character. Likewise, my mum still scolds me for self-deprecating quips, which translate into Russian as a deliberate and cruel effacement of oneself. View Full Post

The Importance of Thinking Bigger

Without detail, the world would seldom be able to function. Detail ties everything together, from our day to day schedules to the most intricate machines and international trade deals. Understanding the subtleties makes you an expert in any given system. Applying rigorous planning (think everything from countless lists to time blocking and editorial calendars) to your life engenders organisation and productivity. Sometimes, while tapping away on my phone or swiping my contactless Visa, I am stopped by the realisation of just how complex familiar mechanisms are below the surface.

When I was younger, my grandma taught me to ‘think about detail’, using fashion and writing as an example: your choice headwear or a sheeny bracelet can turn a bland outfit luxurious. Similarly, a spelling mistake can undermine the credibility of your argument. These lessons stuck around because as I grew older and older, I found further examples of where details matter. Understanding something beyond a surface-level overview in education creates a valuable learning experience and facilitates information retention. Good essay writing, in turn, requires you scrutinise the details of your topic (in the form of objective evidence, facts, statistics) before assembling a thesis or argument. In other words, you must avoid cherry-picking evidence for a preconceived idea and focus on where the facts actually lead.

The beauty of details lies in how they melt at the edges and into each other, forming an outward picture which hides the technicalities underneath. However, when we think about such technicalities, don’t we do it, either consciously or subconsciously, with the intention of producing a specific, final result which is enshrined within our minds? For example, through your choice of accessories or jewellery, you produce a distinctive style without any missing components, and by meticulously editing your writing – a resulting piece which flows and engages. Even the extraction of viewpoint from evidence in academia follows deeper principles, an admiration of unbiased research. Thinking bigger, therefore, is not a negligence of detail but an understanding of why these details exist in the first place. View Full Post

15 Activities To Include In Your Evening Routine

While there is an undeniable incentive to adapt our routines to the ever-changing direction of life, I am in favour of establishing habits which consistently reinforce our wellbeing and productivity. For example, starting the morning with a walk followed by a healthy breakfast will set you up for a better day than an aimless scroll through your phone and packing your bag within five minutes of departure. Healthy routines keep us grounded and focused. They deliver benefits ranging from better sleep to an optimistic, energised mindset.

evening routine activities

Creating a pattern of meaningful tasks to follow on a regular basis inhibits procrastination, damaging habits and collapsing into disarray. I’ll illustrate I mean using the evening – the time slot with which this blog post is concerned. You have just returned from work or finished a major school assignment, but bedtime is still a few hours away. Suddenly, you don’t quite know what to do with yourself and resort to social media with an arbitrary TV programme flickering in the background. Here, I do not wish to perpetuate the biased rhetoric of doom and gloom surrounding technology: when used with purpose and in moderation, it can have a positive impact on our lives. What I am trying to say is that a mindful usage of the internet should involve occasional detoxes. In general, moderation is the way to go.

Things to add to evening routine

If you find yourself feeling sluggish in the evening or struggling with sleeping issues such as insomnia, try either reducing or eliminating screen usage after the sun goes down. Instead, incorporate worthwhile activities into your pre-bedtime hours. A routine does not have to be excessively intricate or even be a routine in its entirety. Many of us live within tight schedules and changing circumstances. Some days you may have five or six hours at your disposal in the evening, at others times – you may return at a much later hour and wish to narrow the gap between entering the door and sleep as much as possible. Travelling is a noteworthy example because being in a different country fundamentally disrupts the structure our lives take at home. However, incorporating just one or two worthwhile activities (which can take as much or as little time as you wish) into your nighttime routine is enough to engender a sense of stability, reduce stress and improve your sleep hygiene.

Below, I’ve compiled a list of things for you to try incorporating into your evening. Doing them all would be challenging to say the least (lol), but I encourage you to experiment and see what works best with your lifestyle, be it a structured process or just a handful of things to throw in and still derive the benefits of valuable habits. View Full Post

Do Not Fear Change

Life is simultaneously rigid and of an undeniably fluid quality: on one hand, we are surrounded by circumstances and unforeseen events over which we have, at best, limited control. On the other, our actions and thoughts can (overtime if not immediately) change the trajectory we follow from birth ’til death. These two characteristics intersect everywhere, creating a vibrant, tempestuous human experience. We are constantly exposed to change, be it a product of broader happenings or of our own choices, for which to be made the fear of change must be overcome in the first place. And because change is inevitable, we must face the ebb and flow of everyday life with a buoyant attitude while searching for our own unique rhythm.

As you can tell, there has been a bit of an upheaval on whatismaria.com. And by upheaval, I mean your girl is the proud owner of a brand new site, with a new theme and a new domain. Given my dubious technical skills, getting to this point has been quite a journey (major shoutout to the customer service team and tech guys at Siteground), and at certain points I felt quite disheartened by the challenges I faced. And I’m still in the process of figuring everything out, tweaking the theme, understanding the avalanche of new features.

Blog changes

I’ve been thinking of going self-hosted since around November, when I had to take a chunk of time away from blogging. Instead of actually writing posts, I ruminated over the direction I want this site to take in the future, the type of content I wish to publish, whether the topic of my blog will still be compatible with my life in a year’s time. And only two weeks ago did I come to a decision, persuading myself to make the change and embrace the spontaneity of WordPress.org.

I’ll attempt to summarise my decision-making process. When I first started whatismaria.com back in September 2017, I chose health, food and fitness as its primary topic for a couple of reasons. Firstly, after struggling with an eating disorder for several years, I developed a philosophy around food and fitness which argues against the notion of healthy living as something which entails restriction, unnecessary stress, self-consciousness. I did, and still do, posses a drive to share my message with others. Secondly, health and fitness is a well-established niche with a potentially wide outreach.

blog update

View Full Post