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Mary Ann

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Aging Issues are less painful when shared among friends

A broad look at aging issues seems to be front and center in my life recently…..

Just the other day, after applying my “leaving the house” makeup, I sprayed my face with hairspray instead of my usual finishing facial mist!  In my defense, both were in similar containers and side by side in my makeup basket.  My mistake was not putting on my glasses! Good grief, what’s next?

Let me tell you……….when a few ideas for this blog came to mind last week, I jotted down several notes on a small piece of paper and carefully, or so I thought, placed it in my office.  Now, I’m experiencing my number one daily activity, searching. Enough of that, I’m giving up the search and hoping for inspiration.

A few months ago, when my cable company suggested lowering my bill by removing my land line, I gave no thought as to how I would locate my cell phone in the house.  It’s embarrassing to admit to how many times per day I go looking for it.  Just last week, I thought I might need to visit my neighbor and ask her to call me!

And if that’s not enough, medical issues abound with my circle of friends and their spouses.  I am blessed to have the time to offer feeble attempts at support as we all journey through this next chapter of our lives together.  Today, our girlfriend lunches tend to focus on discussions around medication side effects and natural remedies.  Somehow, the apparent problem on our dessert plates is seldom a topic.  Simple exercise and healthy diets would likely resolve many issues, especially mine.

So now, with Christmas rapidly approaching,

I’m faced with hauling the decorations out of my garage to decorate my condo.  My practical decision to buy a lighter weight Christmas tree on sale at the end of last season has worked to my advantage.  This new tree weighs only 6 pounds and is in two pre-lit sections, easy to assemble.  It’s more than adequate for displaying the ornaments that hold greatest sentimental value for me.

I gave away my larger heavier tree and spent a day in the garage, with a space heater, downsizing decorations.  Just yesterday, I dropped off two large plastic tubs full at the Veterans donation spot near my local hardware store. A few tubs of “maybe” items remain in my garage until next year’s sorting. My childhood manger scene, precious SnowBaby Advent tree, and a number of other special treasures will remain with me as long as possible. However, many nice decorative accents that once graced a larger home no longer hold relevance in a condo inhabited by an individual.   By eliminating the clutter, I find great peace, comfort and joy in my choices.  The prospect of decorating is no longer a daunting task but a lovely time for memories and reflection.

Another joy I added to the season this year……….

Though I have an E-Reader, I remain a paper junkie and love those library book sales.  I’ve accumulated a small stack of Christmas books, most by famous authors.  You might be surprised to know your favorite mystery writer has penned such a book.  Rescuing these Christmas treasures from a bookshelf corner, they are now stacked on a small table, near my comfy chair, in reading preference order.  I’m currently enjoying David Baldacci’s The Christmas Train, and anticipating the joy in reading Marjorie Holmes’ Two From Galilee during the week of Christmas.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas & a New Year filled with simple joys and the gift of love………..Mary Ann

ANAwareness Week


In or around 1982, I was invited to attend a unique conference.


A large Seattle based re-insurance company had selected a group of 25 business women from around the country to visit their Home Office and enjoy several days of events designed to educate and entertain us. My employer had no qualms allowing me to attend, especially since all expenses were paid by the hosting company.

Though I had achieved some career success by that time, it was infantile compared to the impact of business women on today’s global opportunities. At thirty-something, I was excited and also a bit anxious, hoping there was no quiz when I arrived.

Once checked into our luxurious individual hotel rooms, the group enjoyed a reception and overview of the days to come. The two events that caught my immediate attention were:

  1. Georgetown University Professor speaking on “Potty Parity”

(Very interesting and entertaining, sorry I don’t recall her name)


  1. Dinner cruise on the Puget Sound


As we moved into the second day of our conference, new faces became immediate friends and I recall a group of about 5 of us staying up half the night exchanging work “war” stories and girl talk.

The last evening of our stay was celebrated with the highly anticipated dinner cruise. The vessel’s dining area revealed round tables glistening with lovely candlelight, flowers, and pristine linen. My assigned seat was between two attendees I had noticed earlier.

I turned to the one on my right for a brief introduction and then met the attendee on my left. I have a standard statement prepared for anyone seated on my left, at a table, on an airplane, bus, etc. So I turned to Sally and said, “Since you’re sitting on my left side, I need to warn you that I’m totally deaf in that ear. So, if you’re speaking and I’m ignoring you, please just tap my hand to get my attention.”

She took my hand, looked into my face, and then said, “Did you have an Acoustic Neuroma?” “How on earth did you know?” I responded. She then explained that her best friend back in Pennsylvania, Ginny Fickel, had the same surgery in 1977 and also had no hearing in one ear.

What a coincidence you might say. I say it was God’s grace. There were no MRI’s or CT scans when I was diagnosed in 1975 and had surgery 4 weeks later.  Though these tumors are not usually cancerous, they can overtake important nerves as they grow leaving the patient with lifetime challenges. Today, an Acoustic Neuroma is often diagnosed prior to the appearance of symptoms. For instance, after a car accident an MRI is performed and a small unexpected AN is diagnosed and watched or treated.

Sally was well informed about the surgical procedure and accompanying details. She further surprised me when she revealed that Ginny had recently started a national support group for AN Patients. There was so little information available for us as the surgical procedure was only performed by a few doctors in the country. Ginny’s desire to help other patients understand their diagnosis and treatment options has been fulfilled.

Over the years the ANA has grown to serve nearly 5,000 members including patients, families, friends and health care professionals. Thank you Ginny!


Please join me in celebrating


ANAwareness Week     May 8 – 14 , 2016


For additional information please visit


Short and Sweet


Valentine’s Day is grounded in nostalgia for me;


red construction paper, white lacy doilies, the smell of paste and the hopeful anticipation of acceptance.  How awful to endure the stress of a beautifully decorated but potentially empty Valentine Box.  Fortunately, that wasn’t my plight; though the popular girls always received many more cards than I did.

So here I am, about 18 months away from 70, and still smelling the paste.  What about you?  I hope you’re recalling a sweet memory right now.

Handwritten words, a lovely card, flowers; how we enjoy receiving them.  Maturity not only teaches us to savor these sentiments and the delicious moments that accompany them; it often melts our concise business world hearts, revealing a new passion to appreciate and comfort others.

As the years catch up with us, there are flashes of irrelevance we experience in this fast paced world.  If you are so moved this season of love, remember friends and neighbors who might appreciate a simple little Valentine or a small batch of cookies sprinkled with your kindness.


Note to Readers:

 If you’ve already submitted your email address and receive my blogs directly through your inbox, you might want to visit my website; I’ve added a link at the top to access the new PBS Next Avenue Cbus website. Please visit and read the blogs I now contribute on a monthly basis.

THE BOOMER SISTERS: Remember Mom’s Beauty Products and Routines?



Recently, I decided to scan the Web for some new beauty products.


Can you blame me? I can barely read the tiny print labels on the product samples I picked up at the department store ; and those beautiful younger women behind the counter wouldn’t likely recognize Donna Reed or Doris Day.  Women my age are on the other side of the counter and we need someone who shares the reality of aging skin!

These days, I should be buying moisturizer by the gallon and topping it off with 50+ spray sun screen. A recent purchase of shower gel included a sample of shower lotion. I decided to discard that one. Even with grab bars in my shower, the idea of lotion and water didn’t paint a pretty picture.

So, back to our topic. I was browsing away on the web when what did I see but my Mom’s special face powder available for me! You remember the one; it’s in a round powder box with the gold, orange and brownish design. Would you believe it still contains the same wonderful sheer face powder with that slightly familiar scent? It’s reasonably priced and still a lovely product. Keeping it on my bathroom counter gives me a nostalgic nudge each time I see it.


These Boomer Sisters’ special memories may resonate with many of you………


LANA, Camden, Arkansas

My Mother always looked like she was going to a fancy dinner!!! Everything had to match. Make-up was taken off every night and night cream put on. Her hair was always “done”. Things certainly have changed. Big box stores offer a great example of what people will wear in public!


DIANE, Green Bay, Wisconsin

I honestly don’t think my Mom did much with a beauty product other than putting powder on her face and adding a touch of lipstick on her lips – nothing too exciting.


TINA, Pickerington, Ohio

What I remember as a child, and to this day, is that my Mother wears very little make up, if any at all.   She grew up in the country. Her beauty products are very basic; Dove soap and a good moisturizer. Now when it comes to hair, that’s where she spends her time; as most women of color spend their time and money….on their HAIR. She’s really a natural brunette and wouldn’t let gray get in her way. At 80 years old, she’s sporting ash blonde hair and looks gorgeous in it.

Like mother, like daughter, I’m not ready for the gray hair thing either. I won’t let gray get in my way…..color is the spice in life!


JUDY, Lancaster, Ohio

I remember always barging in the bathroom when my Mom probably wanted it to herself. She graciously said OK, hurry up. I would notice her face covered mysteriously with what looked like whipped cream. Later, as a teenager, I learned it was Noxzema!

Bedtime was always our ritual of brushing our teeth with a line-up at the bathroom sink fighting over a space to brush and spit. (Large Catholic family) Mom would come in to calm the waters and she would get out her jar of Ponds cold cream and rub it lightly over her face and neck area. We loved to smell that clean scent and kiss her soft face as she tucked us in bed. That sense of love and security is a wonderful memory.   Thanks for letting me go back in time.



Special thanks to these dear friends for taking time to share their treasured memories!

Here’s hoping our memories have prompted some sweet ones of your own.   The time-frame connection we all share is such a gift!

If you didn’t receive this blog through your “IN” Box, be sure to put your email address in the space below my picture and click on the Submit button …………….thanks,  Mary Ann



OK, I have to admit it. On occasion, I have surrendered to the TV Shopping Channel.

Several years ago when work related stress had me up channel surfing at 3a.m., a flickering image flew by and caught my attention. I recognized a famous financial advisor…… what was she talking about? One click on the remote took me back and I was smitten. She was selling a big blue briefcase displayed in front of her on a table.

At that time, our country had experienced a year of vulnerability with Katrina and other worldwide catastrophic events. Each time I turned on the news; there seemed to be a sunami, hurricane, melt down, landslide or worse.

The seller’s seductive voice mentioned security and waterproof plastic as she lifted the blue briefcase nearer the camera to demonstrate the closing safety latches. Inside, there were built in folders labeled with important tabs such as: insurance, legal documents, tax information and many more. The folders were further secured with a Velcro strap. A blinking signal light was provided to activate in emergency situations so the briefcase might be located easily in times of peril. And, not only was it waterproof, it floated!

That’s what got me; it floated.  Keep in mind, I live in central Ohio. The most threatening body of water in my neighborhood is the pond near my condo pool. We did have so much rain once that the pond overflow blocked a street with two feet of water for a few hours. The blue briefcase floating and blinking in several feet of water above my kitchen floor; I could see it. How could I resist?

So, I found my credit card and began to dial. Every other shopping call usually involved frustration by asking me to “select 1 for this” or “hold for the next agent” and after 20 minutes, they’d drop the call. I know you will find this hard to believe but this call went through like lightening. The customer service rep’s sweet southern drawl made me feel like I made her day just by calling. You certainly don’t get that kind of treatment from the electric company.

Today, the briefcase is doing its job sitting a few steps away in my office, near the dog; convenient for my quick escape from disaster.

Fast forward about 5 years…… It took me that long to cave in again. First I must tell you about my Kabuki make up brush purchased from a Luxurious Salon, while I was still working full time. A Kabuki brush is used for applying powder make up. The handle is flat at the end so it can sit on the counter and the fluffy flat-topped brush looks so cute and chubby. It was a splurge but I felt it was an essential to maintaining my professional look. Using it the first time was fun. I fluffed and powdered and thought I was looking good……until I used my giant magnifying mirror (essential over 60).   The coarse black hairs from my expensive Kabuki brush were all over my face. I had to pick them off like sweater lint; and do it carefully, preserving my make-up. I went back to Luxurious Spa and exchanged it for another one; it does the same thing.

As with most expensive purchases that later prove to be disappointing, I kept it and used it until……………surfing again and there it was!!!   An entire brush set less expensive than my one kabuki brush. These were special because they were an extra chubby special production for that company. The company representative said so! The elegant woman stroked her face with the largest brush and said “Don’t you hate it when your make up brush sheds and you have all those hairs on your face? Well no worries with these brushes, they are guaranteed not to shed.” I don’t have to tell you what happened next. I’m still hanging onto my first Kabuki brush, thinking there must be a use for it somewhere other than my make up drawer – like cleaning my keyboard!

P.S. Even though I hadn’t ordered from them in over 5 years, the charming customer service rep had no problem finding my information in their system. Isn’t that amazing?

Receive my blogs in your email each time they are posted, just enter your email address and click on the subscribe button under my picture.  Thank you and stay warm……………..Mary Ann




The Boomer Sisters are Thankful

This time of year, we often view life from a more forgiving angle.

The warmest holiday memories surface in our aging brains. (OK – some of the not so nice memories also pop up and should be quickly dismissed) Now is the time for comfort and joy from our inner child.

I asked my Boomer Sisters if their attitude of gratitude has improved with age. They are amazing women, saturated in life and wisdom. Several were kind enough to respond during this busy time of year:


CAROLE – Westerville, Ohio

When I was young I was not spoiled at all. When Christmas arrived, I was so grateful for any gift I received. As a young married woman I was thankful for four healthy babies, but was always striving to keep up with the Jones. Now that I’m older, things have completely changed. I am thankful every day for my family and their good lives, that I am relatively healthy, and for the beauty of the earth. I am no longer thankful for THINGS nor do I try to keep up with the Jones or anyone else!


LANA – Camden, Arkansas

As we age, we come to realize how God has blessed us. I am so very thankful for my good health, for my family, and the strength that I receive daily. I have always been a strong person; but all of us, as we get older and face the trials of this world, learn to lean on God more and more. When we are young we tend to take so much for granted. As we age, gratitude should be a large part of our lives.


CONNIE – Canal Winchester, Ohio

I’m glad to still be above looking down at the flowers blooming than below looking up at the roots. It is a miracle with my family history and no guidance when I was younger to still be as healthy as I seem to be!


JANE – Gahanna, Ohio

Maybe my experience is not common to all my age (59) but I suspect it is. As we age, don’t we all have a deeper gratitude for all our parents did (and sometimes didn’t do) for us as we were growing up? My parents were not perfect by any stretch; but as I look back on my life, I see how they made decisions/sacrifices that I can only appreciate because I am older now. Not only with my parents, but extended family who stepped in when my parents fell short, or close friends who have given of themselves; I am now at the age where I can truly understand what went into their time and sacrifice.

Also, now that I am a new grandparent, feeling tired most of the time, I REALLY am so thankful that my grandmother had me live with her for weeks at a time and made sure I learned to sew, sweep the porch, tend to the needs of others, and wait to hear the train whistle as it passed her house in Ironton, Ohio……. little things like appreciating the taste of peach ice cream on a hot summer night. With age comes wisdom and the ability to look back on your life and be thankful.



Wishing all of you abundant blessings………….Mary Ann



Where were you on 11/22/1963 ?



November 22, 1963; the day John F. Kennedy was shot, is a painful and costly date for all those who witnessed the tragedy unfold, particularly Baby Boomers who were in their teens at that time.

Prior to 9/11, this date was embedded in my mind like no other. My memory plays like a movie when I recall the day Kennedy was shot. First of all, I had attained the age of 16 and acquired my driver’s license the month before. On this indelible date, my Mom let me take her to work and then drive her car to school for the very first time. I was so excited to be able to give my friend, Judi, a ride home that day.


As the last class of my school day ended and the clamor of excited teens exited the building, I was startled by a fellow classmate running down the hall shouting, “Kennedy’s been shot”. Well, this guy was sort of a character and I thought he must be kidding and trying to scare us; so, I totally dismissed his alarm.

My Mom had asked me to drop off some clothes at the Base Dry Cleaners, so I headed there before taking Judi to Base Housing. Like similar businesses today, the customer area was a small rectangular room with a counter down one side.  Back then a small, 12 inch, black and white TV sat on a shelf in the corner. As the door opened, I was stunned by the silence and wondered why all these guys were just standing there staring at the TV. I looked at each of the 6 customers, all soldiers in uniform, observed their tears and noticed their hands clutching hats to their chests. I looked up at the TV and realized what I heard in the hall at school was true. Fear raced through my heart and I just wanted to get home. How could something like this happen in America?


We had three TV stations back then and they came on around 6 in the morning with a farm report and went off the air at midnight with a musical rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. The news specific channels we have today did not exist. This was such an event in our history that the regular TV channels used their air time to keep us informed every day every step of the way until he was laid to rest.

I watched live TV as Jack Ruby  shot and killed Lee Harvey Oswold, and again as John John stood with his mother and sister and raised his hand in salute to his father’s casket, and everything in between. We must have had time off from school but my memory isn’t helping me with that detail. I do remember the crying.  Everyone seemed to be crying all the time.

The Cuban Missile Crisis had introduced national fear; but our “Happy Days” existence was penetrated with a new vulnerability on the day JFK was assassinated.







Fall Season Reflections

Recently, I was blessed with a wonderful drive in the country; sunshine with a sapphire sky, a crisp chill in the air and nature’s cloak of autumn colors. In my younger years, fall was all about returning to school with new clothes and shoes, a character lunch box and a book bag with a handle. Back then, we also cherished the anticipation of shared change, like who was shaving their legs and wearing a bra now. Today, it’s more about moving clothes around in my closet and performing the daunting “does it fit” test.

Now fall is upon us, often accompanied by that nesting urge. This urge is further motivated today by a world in peril. I’ve begun my inventory of emergency necessities to have on hand for winter. It’s much easier to haul a large bag of dog food or cases of bottled water in the cool fall air vs. ice and snow. Speaking of bottled water – I found two cases of it in my closet with an expiration date of 2017. Thanks to Google, I now know that bottled water doesn’t expire and though the color and taste may change, it is safe to drink. Disclaimer here – for complete confidence in this information, please verify it yourself.

How could I omit the first thing most people consider when thinking about Fall……….Football!!! I’m not a major sports fan but I do enjoy watching our town’s college team and my grandson’s 8th grade games.

For my dear friend, Diane, in Green Bay football is a way of life. I lived there for a few years and it was quite an experience for me. At first, I tried grocery shopping on game days because the stores were empty. Then I discovered the stores provided a loud broadcast of the game for my shopping pleasure. It amazed me that the town of Green Bay actually owns the team and people retain their season tickets beyond their lifetime, bequeathing them to their family/friends.

I was honored to attend several games and I was astonished with everyone’s activity level in freezing temperatures. Back then, people pulled into their parking space hours prior to game time, flipped open the trunk and pulled out a card table, chairs, a full size Weber grill, bags of food and large quantities of beer and brandy. They actually sat around playing the favorite Green Bay card game called Sheepshead until they packed up and headed to the stadium. My Alabama roots kicked in and I remained in the car totally bundled up till game time.   The stadium seats were all benches in those days allowing everyone to squish their down coats together and huddle like penguins to stay alive. To minimize my complaints, Diane reminded me about the game when they had to use hatchets to chop the ice off the benches. Though a bit uncomfortable, it was a fun and crazy experience I’ll always cherish.

Thank you for stopping by and if you enter your email address under my picture, you’ll automatically receive notice of my next blog…………….Mary Ann


With such a sad date of remembrance occurring this week and today’s news full of fear, I thought a lighter subject might be helpful for all of us.


At 65+, can we  find happiness in these times ?

We are so much more aware of global issues now. Instead of our parents, it’s us glued to the TV news reports. Instead of once a day in the evening, it’s every day, all day long. No longer do we require televisions or radios for news; we have up to the minute news on our computers and alarms on our cell phones to keep us in the know. Unfortunately, the same phone alarm sounds to tell us that an enemy attack is imminent or a sports figure has signed a new contract. Too bad my blood pressure can’t detect the immediate difference. So, how can we be happy with all this going on? We are resilient; we’ve enjoyed Happy Days, survived the Cuban Missile Crisis and are living longer lives than our ancestors.

Happiness is a fleeting emotion.

Years ago, I heard a speaker address this subject with an excellent visualization. Picture yourself in a room surrounded by floating balloons. They represent your emotions; those floating high are happy and those nearing the ground are sad. You begin your day with all balloons floating to the ceiling. Then the phone rings and it’s your doctor’s office wondering why you are late for your appointment = balloons start dropping with your angst, embarrassment and other negative emotions.   A few minutes later you receive another call from your best friend inviting you to lunch and your warm fuzzy emotions kick in, raising some balloons to mid-height. You get the picture, they drop with fear/disappointment/sadness and rise with fun/happy/good experiences.

By mid-day your balloons are all over the place. It’s a wonder we’re not all manic depressive. The speaker encouraged us to imagine a day with all your balloons just above your head; not too high, not too low, just a bit above average representing contentment. He said if we would keep our emotions in check, this could be accomplished. Easier said than done!

I’m certainly not a psychologist so you’re just getting Mary Ann’s opinion here. The age 65+ people, who seem to be happy, have a deep level of contentment in their lives. They may be in 30+ year marriages, or widowed, divorced or single. Their histories may include severe medical issues, great loss, failure or other life impacting events in their families. Yet, they all seem content. A few have experienced greatness in their lives with fame/career/achievements and yet they seem to be content with their years of senior maturity.

Life balance……..

seems to be a key to that contentment; appreciating what you do have and making the most out of what you have to work with. Some, like me, look to their faith for a firm foundation. Then according to their resources and abilities, they expand their interests and friendships in the world. We face physical and emotional setbacks then pause to recover and begin again. Resilience!


Glad you took a few minutes to read my blog. I’m learning about safe travel for people our age and will share my findings with you next week……………Mary Ann

The Boomer Sisters Reflect on Gardening

Hello Everyone!

I’m alive, recovering and ready to write again. This week you’re in for a treat from my Boomer Sisters. Enjoy! …………….


Sylvia – Columbus, Ohio

Gardening is my way to create! Choosing plants, flowers, trees – ultimate design experience. It also helps me make sense of life at times. Yes, we have to cut down dead trees and grieve over what once was full of life, provided shade and beauty. I find myself missing the beautiful ash trees in our backyard – replaced by new trees. These new trees are not familiar to us….yet. It’s okay though because each day I start to see potential for a new landscape to take place.


Diane – DePere, Wisconsin

My relationship with gardening is………… a distance! Until a few weeks ago, I lived next to two women who had the most beautiful gardens in various spots of their 2.5 acre lot; and I enjoyed them immensely and at a distance. Real gardening and my body do not go hand in hand. Arthritis and spinal stenosis do not bode well for bending over frequently which, the last time I checked, was a key skill/behavior necessary to have weed free and beautiful gardens.

Judi – Blairsville, Georgia

For the past 25 years, I’ve found gardening to be the most important part of my life. During the years of caring for my parents in their home, gardening became my time to create and reflect…..helped me to get inside myself and think; making the necessary decisions at that time. Now 18 years later, I live on a mountainside with trees surrounding my home on all corners. Between the deer, rabbits and moles, it’s impossible to grow anything. So, I use ground cover and mulch around the house and put my wonder of color on my deck with Red Geraniums in 9 window boxes. In Holland, they have a saying…..”Don’t stay behind the geraniums”, and by that they mean geraniums are good but don’t live your life always looking at them, get out and enjoy life as well!


Cheryl – Dublin, Ohio

I have enjoyed gardening since I was about 18. The vegetable garden was where I began; planted, cultivated, harvested and preserved. I love it. One little seed can produce so much food. MIRACLE!!

After owning a home, I started getting into landscaping my yard; trees, plants and flowers. Then I bought books on how to attract birds and butterflies. Got pretty good with that.

House plants have been a favorite for a long time. I just had to learn what plants would take the most abuse. I even tried Bonsai. Ernie bought me a greenhouse window for my birthday. Like it a lot! Like Ernie even more !!!

Got my green thumb from my Grammy Smith. She would buy a petunia, poke her finger in the ground and the darn thing (the petunia, not the finger) would do beautifully. She loved the house plants too. As a kid I was fascinated with the sweet potato vine we grew.

The change over the years is my age and the size of the planting area in the yard. God will be pleased to know that I do approve of his use of color and shapes. In fact, I thank him for that frequently.


Lana – Camden, Arkansas

Hasn’t changed much!!! I’m thankful I can still mow 10+ acres, keep my Roses looking good and the Pool looking great. I have been blessed with such good health.


Judy – Lancaster, Ohio

Hated gardening as a child; it was a chore we had to complete if we wanted to stay out late and catch lightening bugs in a Mason jar.

Disliked it as a young adult because it had to be done after a long day of work away from home. But then it was great to can those vegetables with my Mom and eat them in the winter.

Love it now as it brings a time of reflection, quiet meditation, and a satisfaction of a job well done. I also enjoy the feel of the earth between my fingers, and the great gifts God has given me.


Please stop by next week for my musings on Pursuing Happiness………..Mary Ann