Welcome to This is Your Best Year!!!

Welcome to thisisyourbestyear!  You and I are on this journey together.  Together and collectively, we will give suggestions on living life to the fullest.  This is a blog for women who thought that when they reached this age, life was over.  This is for all of those women who thought their mothers were old at this age–well they may have been, but that’s not the case anymore.

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We will discuss everything from health, beauty, faith, life, children, grandchildren, exercise, careers, retirement, starting all over again in love and/or career. We will talk about learning the word no, taking time to be who we are.  With this blog we will have fun, we will talk fashion, food, travel and all kinds of products–in other words, we’re going to talk about us.

You can always email us at  thisisyourbestyear@gmail.com and see all the things we are doing by visiting us on Facebook–(thisisyourbestyear), and Instagram–thisisyourbestyear.  We can also be found on Twitter–thisisyoubestyear@mariciajohns

Let’s get excited ladies, and stay tuned.  Remember–“THIS IS YOUR BEST YEAR”!

We Are Not Our Hair–It Changes Too

As a little girl growing up in East Texas I loved my neighbor’s hair. Miss Adell had hair that went almost to her waist.  I called it water wavy hair.  It was hair that harsh chemicals and heat never touched.  To get a flip or something special she would put those famed pink rollers in it.

Even as she grayed her hair to me was her crown and glory.  After a bout with cancer with chemo treatments, her hair came out.  I never saw her during that time, but I did see her when it started to come back, and it came back straight. It was still beautiful and was getting long again, but it was straight.  It was then I realized something important.

Her personality had not changed, she was still Miss Adell, still just as beautiful as ever. She was not her hair, she was the neighbor that I loved–hair or no hair, straight or wavy.

I met the beautiful Paulette Leaphart on Facebook.  I saw this beautiful bald woman who had this megawatt smile that could light up any room.  At the time she was fighting breast cancer. After seeing more beautiful pictures of her with and without hair, wearing alternative hair, caps, hats and all that is in between I knew she was not her hair–she was Paulette.  She always knew she was her own beautiful woman–she was a fighter, in fact, she was a champion.

Years ago I met a lady who always wore alternative hair–she suffered from alopecia areata. She would change her look as quickly as she could.  Then one day she decided that she was not her hair, and off came the alternative hair. When the wigs came off it seemed that the smile grew brighter, and so much more.  She knew she was not her hair. Her hair has started to grow back, but she knows who she is with or without it.

As we mature and hormones go wacky our hair changes.  It can become thinner, drier, brittle and yes it also turns gray.

While watching the movie “Black Panther”.  I saw this beautiful woman with no hair. She was strong, she was confident, she was fit, she was fine, she was everything–she was not her hair.  One of the best moments is when she is so uncomfortable with her alternative hair.

As I write this I am in the process of trying to decide what I want to do with my hair. Just like a lot of women of a certain age, it is a work in progress.  For almost a year I have not put a relaxer on it.  Color has not been on it for about two years.  I have finally figured out “I am not my hair”.

As with everything else our hair changes.  Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.  We are not our hair.

 

National Wear Red Day

February 2, 2018 is national wear “red” day for American Heart Month.

 

On the first Friday of February national wear “red” day is held to draw attention to the fact that the #1 killer of women is heart disease.  This year, 2018 marks the 15th year for this event.

There have been major strides made in the effort to eradicate heart disease in women, but still, 1 in 3 women will die from some form of heart disease and stroke.

The color red was chosen because it stands out.  It has even been stated that red makes a person feel powerful.

The research has shown that women who participate in the events (wearing red) during February do the following:

  • eat healthier diets
  • exercise more
  • insist on medical tests when having symptoms of stroke/heart attack

My best friend since second grade has had to change many things since suffering three heart attacks, the last one being a major one.  Her challenges have made me more aware of my health.  The symptoms of heart attacks for women are different from those for men.  They can be:

  • pain in one or both arms, stomach, back, neck or jaw–which is what my best friend had
  • dizziness
  • fullness in the chest with or without pain

Symptoms of a stroke can be:

  • sudden blurred vision in one or both eyes
  • sudden trouble speaking
  • sudden numbness or weakness especially on one side

So wear something “red” on February 2, and donate to your local American Heart Association to stomp out heart disease and stroke in women.

To learn more about heart disease, stroke and how to donate contact your local heart association, The National American Heart Association  or The Tarrant County Heart Association.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”–Go Red for Women.

 

An Interview With Fort Worth’s Rare Diamond–Author Amara Russell

Fort Worth native, Amara Russell is the author of the much talked about novel “A Rare Diamond”. Even though this is her first novel to be published she is no stranger to writing.  Her love for writing has been evident to those around her since elementary school when her first article was published in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. It was our honor to have a great conversation with her.

Who are some of the authors you enjoy reading today?

Some of the people I enjoy reading are Priscilla Shirer. Her book “A Jewel in His Crown” is one of my favorites; it has brought me through a lot of things that were occurring in my life at the time. Another author that I like is Lysa Terkeurst.  Her book  “The Best Yes” is about making wise decisions when going through certain situations.

Who and what do you read just for fun? Also, what is a book that you have read more than once?

I love romance novels.  There is a book by Eric Jerome Dickey called “Friends and Lovers” about different relationships.  He adds a lot of humor to his books and I enjoy that. It’s a thick little novel, and I have read it several times.

Was “A Rare Diamond” the first manuscript that you finished?

It was the first manuscript that I finished.  It took me a year to write it.  I was laid off my job in 2015, and for the first couple of months, I spent my time trying to find employment. When I didn’t find anything I decided to use the time to do something that I liked–writing.  Writing helped to heal my stress. I put my frustrations into the manuscript.

Writing became my full-time job.  Every day when I woke up, I poured myself into writing.  It was something I loved to do.

Tell us about the inspiration for the novel–was any of it born out of personal experiences?

Actually, there are a lot of bits and pieces of the story that are related to my life, and things around me. I would visit coffee shops, relatives houses and observe activities that I added to the story.

When I found employment, I wasn’t able to put the time I needed into the writing of the book.  When I loss my mom I  was able to relate to Celeste, the main character in the book who loses her mom.  This event inspired me to get back to writing nonstop.

That’s interesting what you said about being able to relate to Celeste after the loss of your mother.  That’s something people tend to think they can relate to but can’t when they have not experienced that loss.  They know what to say, but they can’t relate.

Right, when I would express to people that I was still hurting they couldn’t understand because they had not experienced it, and until they do, they won’t understand.

I understand, and God will get you through it, but you never get over it, and it is never the same.  There is a void that is always going to be there.

Right.

Now Celeste is the main character in your novel.  Tell us a little about her.  I know that you said she loss her mother at 5.  Without giving away the story tell us a little bit more about her.

Celeste is witty, smart and beautiful.  She is courageous, and she doesn’t bite her tongue about anything, but she says what she means in a subtle way.  She takes her characteristics from her mother who was filled with integrity.  Her mother could walk into a room and capture everyone’s attention.  Celeste picked up a lot of those qualities.

The story is about her life from the age of 5 to 25. She is a young woman trying to find her way, her identity without her mom.

What other characters in the novel play a pivotal role?

Derrick is a childhood friend of Celeste who grew up in the neighborhood.  Really he was her brother’s friend first.  As they grew older they were able to relate because he had suffered the loss of his father at an early age, and he had older siblings who were all girls, and her older siblings were boys.

Another main character is her brother Craig. Celeste and Craig have a very close relationship.  She leans on him, and he leans on her in certain situations.  I would say that Derrick and Craig are two of my other main characters.

From some of the comments that we  have read people say that the book kept them on their toes until the very end.  So if we were going to the bookstore what two sections would we find “A Rare Diamond”?

Probably in the Faith-based section and also in the Romance section.

If you were to have “A Rare Diamond” made into a movie, who would you have to play the main characters?

Oh my God, I knew you would ask that, and I have those people written down (laughter).

It’s important because when people read a novel they picture certain people.  I have to read the book before I see the movie.  I remember going to see “Waiting to Exhale”, and none of those people were the people I pictured except Loretta Devine.  She had the sass that was in the book.  I met Walter Mosley and told him that I did not see Denzel Washington as Easy Rawlins, and he said he didn’t either.  I told him I pictured a young Laurence Fishburne.  He told me when you sell the rights to your book, then the studio picks the actors.  So who do you have as Celeste?

For Celeste, there were two people. I had in my mind LeToya Luckett could play her or Keisha Knight Pulliam.

Oh, why those two?

The similarities when I envision my character, I see them as her. And then their personalities when I see them in films or on television.  Those personalities fit Celeste.

Ok, what about Derrick?

Derrick, the minute I started writing I don’t know why but I envisioned the actor Lance Gross.

Oh, okay, yes.  That’s a good one.  What about Craig?

Craig because he’s so hilarious–even when I was writing the novel I would crack up from some of the things he would say.  To me, I always said Mike Epps (laughter) .

Oh my God! (laughter).  He would be a wonderful big brother. 

Just to add one more, the mother because she is such an inspiration.  It’s like I didn’t want to kill her off at the beginning so I was kind of going back and forth, but Angela Bassett always came to mind when I was writing the story.

She would be good.  Even in her personal life, she seems to be into her family and her faith. You are going to have a hometown book signing.  Tell us about it.

The book signing will be downtown Fort Worth at the Marie Antoinette Parfumiere and Spa which is located at 101 West 2nd directly across from the Worthington Hotel.  It will be on Saturday, February 10 from 3 to 5.  A pre Valentine event.

Are you working on a sequel or another novel?

I am actually working on a trilogy to “A Rare Diamond”, I’m going to break it up into three parts.

That will be nice.

Well, we thank you for your time.  We’ll see you at your book signing.

Thank you so much, I appreciate it.

 

“A Rare Diamond” can be purchased at Amazon, the Barnes and Noble website or on http://www.nspired2write247.com.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s Happening?

I love to sit on the floor, and I’m not sure why–it’s just a habit.  If I’m not on the floor then I am in my favorite chair reclining just a little.  Getting off the floor is not a problem, in fact it is easy.  I credit this to the fact that I have always tried to do some form of exercise.

Recently thought I went to get up out of my favorite chair, and something happened.  It was something that caught me by surprise.  It seemed that my hip had a catch in it.  I’m not really sure how to explain it, not a pain, but a catch.

After a couple of steps it was okay, and I didn’t really think that much about it.  There had been other signs that something was happening tthat I had noticed, but kind of put out of my mind.  The first thing that I noticed was that I don’t like jumping exercises, and I haven’t liked them for some time.  It feels like something is loose inside, and it feels funny.  I still do them sometimes, but I have found other exercises instead of jumping jacks that give the same results.

Years ago the doctor told me I had a torn meniscus, and that he didn’t suggest surgery, just therapy.  That knee is not the same.  It doesn’t hurt, it is just not the same as it was before. Since the doctor said that I could have torn it years earlier, I told my husband it was from my tomboy days as a child playing sports with boys.

But back to the hip, what is the problem?  I finally found out–nothing.  It is just one of the signs of aging.  It’s sort of like your house when things still work, but not as good as when you first got them.  It may take the water heater a little longer to heat the water, but it still heats.  It may take the television a little longer to switch stations (you channel surf), but you get there.

I wondered how I would feel if I didn’t exercise or if I didn’t stretch every morning.  It didn’t take me long to realize that it would be a lot worse.  All of these things are happening as we age.  Take a look at a baby lying on the floor.  The baby can put his toes in his mouth.  Can you, and why would you want to? This is just to say that flexibility is something that we all must continue to work on.  Exercise may need to be fine tuned, and some things may need to be added and/or deleted.

So I have decided that I will continue to exercise and do the stretches.  The trainer has even changed how she trains us as we have matured–she has matured too.

The hip, the knee, the insides, the torn meniscus and everything else reminds me of a car.  If you keep up the maintenance, it may not run as it did when it was driven off the showroom, but it still keeps going with only a few hiccups that are called aging.

So what is happening?  It’s call aging, but we can age like fine wine.  Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.

 

Enjoy Yourself–You’re Worth It

by CY Cooper

It seems like it was only a day or so ago we were all enjoying the sights and sounds of the Christmas season.  It’s really hard to believe that we are now moving toward the middle of January 2018 and getting set for the next BIG holiday, which is Valentines Day.  It didn’t take the retail stores long to move forward as they were putting up hearts and flowers the day after Christmas.

You know it’s not a secret that the holiday season is just plain busy for everyone. Whether it’s family, friends, co-workers, church or other organization functions, most of us find ourselves so busy we don’t have time for ourselves or to just look around, sit for a quiet moment and ENJOY the season.

Well during the holiday hustle and bustle I did a couple of activities for yours truly.  I registered for a total of (3) cooking classes.  Two of the classes took place at the Fort Worth Cooking School at Central Market and the other at Sur La Table in Fort Worth.  Let me tell you, all (3) classes were hands on, educational and a lot of FUN.  Besides taking home the recipes and instructions on what we accomplished in class, all participants took home a nice sampling of our finished baked goods.  Now I’m sure you’re probably thinking that you want to do anything but cook/bake, BUT as stated earlier it was FUN, a lot of FUN. It was an activity where you could go with a friend or by yourself and meet other people with an interest in cooking/baking.  Plus, for about 1 1/2 – 2 hours you were away from the holiday rush.  I learned to bake everything from buttermilk biscuits in a cast iron skillet, Parker House rolls to eggnog cranberry swirl bread just to name a few.

I didn’t just stop with the cooking/baking classes.  My sister and I attended the Texas Ballet Theater’s THE NUTCRACKER at the wonderful Bass Hall.  It’s become a family tradition and it’s a MUST SEE.  If you’ve never had the chance to see this ballet, you should.  It just may become one of your Christmas traditions.

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And finally, yours truly is a fan of tea, and The Ashton Hotel in downtown Fort Worth starts their Holiday Tea Service the day after Thanksgiving.  This was my first time attending but I can tell you it won’t be my last.  I tried to reserve a couple of seats for the week before Christmas but they were all booked up.  I made a reservation instead for a date after Christmas and even then there wasn’t an empty seat to be found.  Holiday Tea at The Ashton Hotel runs through the end of the month of December.  The tea was EXCELLENT and so relaxing.  DEFINITELY put this activity on your TO DO list for the 2018 Holiday Season.  

The Christmas of 2017 was busy and it sped by quickly, but I can truly say it was FUN and memorable.

It’s 2018.  Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.

Christmas In Songs

As a child the songs of Christmas and the holiday season were always some of my favorite tunes.  At that time they always made me happy.

Even today some bring back memories of times gone by.  While in elementary school I was a member of the choral club, and doing one performance I actually had a solo.

Once I entered fifth grade I was made a member of the famed girls group at school–the Charmettes. This group sang on the two annual school programs. The winter program was called “Winter Wonderland”, and we always closed the program with it. Every time I hear it now I call my best friend and we break into song and laughter.

While working at a high school, the choir would do caroling through the halls. A lot of us would follow them to hear our favorite song.

I remember the great Christmas celebrations on Della Lane at home.  How much fun we had decorating the tree.  It seemed that everyone had a picture window where they displayed their tree.  The memories of home always come to mind.  I can’t go back to that time, but each year I do go home for Christmas–if only in my dreams.

Merry Christmas to all.  Remember “thisisyourbestyear”. What’s your favorite holiday song?

Depression And Suicide In Women

Recently I was invited to attend a luncheon hosted by the Jordan Elizabeth Harris Foundation. The foundation was started by the parents of Jordan Elizabeth Harris, a beautiful young lady who during the last few months of her life suffered from severe depression, and eventually committed suicide.

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Hearing Jordan’s story made me think of how a young woman who was outgoing, fun and yes beautiful with a loving family could end her life.  While researching information on depression and suicide, I came across a fact that stopped me in my tracks.

The largest increases in depression/suicide are in young women and women of a certain age.  Men traditionally die from suicide more than women, but women have been catching up with them.  Middle-aged women who are between 45 and 69 have had the highest suicide rates in the last couple of years.

Some of the reasons for this increase are:

  • Age-related illness
  • Treatable mental health condition
  • Reliance on pain relief and sleeping drugs
  • Middle-aged women are more aware of their mortality
  • Disappointed and disillusioned–feel that it is too late for happiness
  • Loneliness
  • Empty Nest Syndrome

As we enter the holiday season, it has been reported that depression rises among women of a certain age. Is there anything that we can do to prevent depression/suicide?  While researching I found that some people lived daily with those who suffered from depression and/or committed suicide, and they saw no outward change.  There were those that saw the change, but we unable to get them the needed assistance.

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The Jordan Elizabeth Harris Foundation mission statement states “to eradicate suicide by funding depression research, creating awareness through education, erasing the stigma, and providing hope to those who are struggling in silence”.

The Jordan Elizabeth Harris Foundation along with others including the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is seeking to lower suicide rates.  These efforts include educating doctors especially primary care doctors so that they may be better able to identify people who are at risk for suicide.

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As I sat at the luncheon I thought of the people who I had known in my lifetime that had taken their own lives.  There were two who had an illness that would eventually end their lives and one that no one could ever tell me the reason why.

It’s getting close to Christmas and New Year’s which brings on a time of reflection.  Let’s take the time to visit, call, text, facetime–let’s stay connected–we may be able to spot changes.

To find out more about depression and suicide prevention take a look at The Jordan Elizabeth Harris Foundation.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”, take the time to connect with others–it can only help.

 

Voyage Dallas Magazine Interview

Here is the interview that I gave to Voyage Dallas Magazine.  I hope that you will enjoy reading it. It was a lot of fun to give.

Interview With Voyage Dallas Magazine

Thank you so much for following thisisyourbestyear“.  There is a lot more in store for all of us.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.  Enjoy life….. and thanks again!

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At The Texas Conference For Women–Women Rock

It is always great to be in the presence of women, especially smart women.  The Texas Conference for Women has so much to see, hear and do that it is hard to decide which way to go. That is why you see me rushing almost running in the halls of the Austin Convention Center with my two bags, comfortable shoes, and phone. I was off to races.

Texas Conference 2 Photo by Getty

I was able to snag two great interviews with two amazing women.  My first interview came as a surprise.  We just struck up a conversation, and I knew women would love to know about her company “iFundWomen”.  Below is the interview that I did with the CEO and founder of “iFundWomen”, Ms. Karen Cahn. For women who are looking for ways to fund their startup, she is the person to know.

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My second interview was with the Emmy award winner, Ms. Gaby Natale.  She is the host of the Emmy award-winning show Super Latina, and now the author of the book El Circulo Virtuoso.  Her story is one that a lot of people can identify with. She is inspirational.  My interview with Gaby is below.

Both women are successful entrepreneurs who have found their passions and turned them into their careers.  As each would tell you it has been a journey that has taken some unexpected turns.  They epitomize the women that attended and participated in the Texas Conference for Women.  This year there were 7,500 women in attendance from all over the United States.

Each of the women had their own schedule to adhere to and knew which sessions they wanted to attend and why.  All of us were able to hear the three keynote speakers, Ms. Anita Hill, Ms. Sheryl Sandberg, and Ms. Viola Davis.  Their presentations were informative and more.  You can see some of Ms. Anita Hill’s talInstagramFacebook Page–thisisyourbestyear, Instagram–thisisyourbestyear and Twitter–@mariciajohns.

If you have never attended this conference, you should think about it for next year.  There is something for everyone from, pitching your product to QVC, working on your Linkedin Page, coping with grief, fitness and much more.

This is one of the highlights of my year, seeing and hearing the speakers and meeting up with other bloggers, photographers, and other media again.  Hope you will take advantage of this great gathering of women.  Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.

To find out more about how to fund your business go to the “iFundWomen” website.

www.ifundwomen.com

If you would like to know about Gaby Natale, and how to contact her for speaking engagements, book signings and more please visit her website.

www.gabynatale.com

The End Of Time–Be Prepared

Most of us are planners.  We’ve already starting planning for Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas celebrations and even what we will do and wear on New Year’s Eve.  We plan where we will take our next vacation as soon as the last one is completed.

Some of us love planning baby showers, wedding showers, retirement parties, birthday parties and of late yes, divorce parties.  We want to make it as easy for the people we are honoring as possible.  We do all the planning because we don’t want those we love to be stressed out.

What about our final preparations–yes, it’s a topic that many don’t want to think of, willbut it is one that will affect all of our loved ones after we are gone.  This is not a topic of conversation for most of us, but it should be.  It goes along with your will, and how you want to distribute your belongings. Not leaving a will can make it complicated especially if there are a lot of people involved. So why not write it down?  A will can and probably should be updated yearly or at least reviewed.

After burying both of my parents, grandparents and even a cousin I know the stress that it can put on the person(s) left in charge of making final arrangements.  In all of my cases, all of those involved with the decisions were able to decide together how we should handle the situation.

In order to make it easy for your loved ones, you can already have specific instructions for them.  You can have instructions as simple as what you would like to have at your last service.  It would be wise to write it down, and let your family know about it. They may not follow your wishes, but they have some direction as to what you wanted.

Two of my roommates from college and a couple of other friends have made all of their arrangements.  They know that their loved ones can change things, but they have funeral 6made it as simple as they could and have told them of their plans.  In fact, all of them have paid for their last service.  I’m not suggesting that you go to this length, but some may choose to.  You must be careful and read the fine print if you decide to do a pre-need as they can change from state-to-state.

Before you decide to prepay for your last service, please do the research and ask around.  Planning for the end of time is something that takes a while to plan. AARP has some very informative articles on this subject.

Is pre-need right for you–it’s up to you to decide, but whatever you do get that will prepared.  If you are not using something that you are going to leave someone in the will why not give it to them now?

Take time to talk with your family about your wishes, and then make your decision.  Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.   You have always helped your family so why not continue?