NOW ON YOUTUBE–BOSS WOMEN AND US!

We’ve started a new series, in fact, we’ve started a YouTube Channel. The channel is “thisisyourbestyear”, and we have been hard at work on it.

In the past we have had one or two videos that we have shared on YouTube, but we have now decided to go all in so that we can keep you informed on all levels. We’ve decided to expand the blog.

Our first official venture is a series that we entitled “Boss Women”. These are women who are entrepreneurs, community leaders and more. These are women who work hard while multitasking. These are “Boss Women”, women who are the “boss” of not only their businesses, but their lives.

Each boss woman is different in the ways they came into their entrepreneurial self. Some knew from the very start while others worked in corporate and decided it was not for them, retired or maybe stayed home to raise the children, and now find themselves empty nesters.

There will be so many other things that we will post to YouTube in the future. We’re working all the kinks out of our recordings, doing research on equipment we need (and can afford) to make the videos better.

If you are a “Boss Woman” or know a “Boss Woman” who might want to be interviewed for our series send us an email. We want to showcase their businesses and them. Just by interviewing them may give another woman the sign they need to becoming their own boss.

Remember you can now read us on our website and on these social media sites. Each one of them may have something different so give them a look.

  • Facebook—thisisyourbestyear
  • Instagram–thisisyourbestyear
  • YouTube— thisisyourbestyear
  • Tumblr—- thisisyourbestyear
  • Twitter—- thisisyourbestyear@mariciajohns

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”, and this journey of women of a certain age gets better because we are the “boss” of our lives.

DOWNTON ABBEY VISITS THE BILTMORE ESTATE

In my third and final installment regarding my visit to the Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina the package I purchased included a special treat from our friends from across the pond.  Just recently I saw the movie “Downton Abbey.”  The film picks up where the PBS series left off and I am a big fan of the show.  

While visiting the magnificent Biltmore during the Christmas holidays to view the incredible decorations, it just so happened that “The Downton Abbey Exhibition” had recently opened at the estate.  There were of course costumes from the series and movie as well as furniture, documents, props and audio visual presentations regarding the life of the British aristocracy in the early 20th century.  I loved the exhibition and the history that went with it.  The “Downton Abbey Exhibition” will be at the Biltmore Estate until April 2020.  If you’re a fan of the show, it’s definitely worth the price of admission.

In my best British accent–remember “thisisyourbestyear”.

a CULINARY EXPERIENCE At The Biltmore

by CY Cooper

In my last post for THIS IS YOUR BEST YEAR, I told all about my trip to see the Incredible Biltmore Estate for the Christmas Holidays.  As I explained in my last communication, I actually stayed at one of the hotels on the estate grounds…..The Village Inn.  Not only can you stay at one of the two hotels on the estate but there are also amazing restaurants on the property where you can dine.  The Biltmore has seven restaurants that offer a wide range of fine and casual dining choices.  The menus showcase fresh produce and meats that are raised and harvested on the Biltmore estate.  

Since we were arriving in Asheville, North Carolina in the afternoon, I went online before the trip and checked out the menu, reviews and made a reservation for the dinner buffet at DeerPark Restaurant.  If I have to say so myself, it was a great choice.  This buffet had everything from slow roasted prime rib, herb crusted turkey breast to citrus roasted salmon.  Let’s not mention the many appetizers, soups, salads, side dishes and of course numerous desserts including, a crepe station, black forest pavlova and eggnog cheesecake.  ALL the food was DELICIOUS.  

Now since we were staying at The Village Inn and had purchased the Christmas Tour Package, breakfast was included with the stay.  As you may know, I absolutely LOVE breakfast and the morning meal at the Village Social restaurant definitely started off each day in the correct way.  For some reason each morning I ordered the Social Breakfast which included two eggs (over medium) heirloom potatoes, toast and thick cut bacon.  Service was exceptional right along with the food.  

Because each day was started off with a satisfying breakfast, there really was no need for lunch.  Maybe a stop here and there for snacks but not a full blown lunch.  Next to the actual Biltmore estate,  there’s a section where there are shops and a restaurant called The Stable Cafe.  It’s a fitting name as it was once the estate’s actual horse stable.  The Stable Cafe features Appalachian comfort food for lunch including house smoked meats, Carolina barbeque, classic burgers, and salads.  The Dinner Menu at the Stable Cafe is simply OUTSTANDING. The dining room for dinner is located on the 2nd level.  Decorated beautifully for the holidays, the dining experience at The Stable Cafe was simply AMAZING.  Service was fantastic and the food was wonderful.  I ordered the Bone-In Pork Chop with sweet potato puree, fried brussel sprouts & apple sage butter.  My friend ordered the Shrimp & Grits with sauteed shrimp, Anson Mills blue corn grits, lobster butter, andouille sausage & scallions.  Please note at the end of the meal there was nothing left on either plate.  

As I mentioned in the previous post, this was my second visit to this magnificent house.  On my first trip I enjoyed afternoon tea in the Library Lounge at The Inn on Biltmore Estate.  The Inn is a 4 star hotel located on the grounds with incredible sweeping views of the estate.  On this trip I booked their Holiday Tea located in The Dining Room at The Inn on Biltmore Estate.  With Mount Pisgah in the background, we enjoyed a full service afternoon tea with delicious scones, sandwiches & desserts.  As you have come to expect with anything associated with The Biltmore, service along with the food was impeccable.  

Enjoying the sights and sounds of the holidays at the Biltmore was a dream come true for me.  BUT there was another perk that was added in that I didn’t see coming and that was……The Downton Abbey Exhibition currently on display at the Biltmore until April, 2020.  More about that in my next post.  

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”, and savor the moment.


4 Tips For Taking Your Home-Based Business From Couch To Dream Office

*Guest post by Tina Martin

Many women of a certain age have decided they want to start their own business and work out of their home at their leisure. One of the main problems they/we run into is that we have always worked in an office setting. This post by Tina Martin will help you turn your couch into an efficient office.

Is a lack of space holding back your home-based business? Workspace challenges are one of the most common obstacles that home-based business owners face, so you’re definitely not alone with these woes. If you want to have your best year yet, and help your home-based business thrive, however, you have to find creative ways to solve those home workspace challenges. So if you are ready to take your home-based business to the next level of success, here are some tips for creating your dream office at home: 

Bigger Business Dreams May Require a Bigger Home

Sometimes what you really need to create your dream home workspace is to move to a bigger place. You can research local home prices to see if this is a reasonable move for your new business ventures—home sale prices in Fort Worth are averaging $255,000. Keep in mind that having more space means more options for creating a home office and organized storage. So if you would need to rent storage space or an office, moving to a new home could actually save you some serious cash in the long run. Aside from financial and business considerations, other signs that you need more living space are dealing with clutter in your current home or not wanting to deal with the high costs of renovating. If you feel like your quality of life or productivity is suffering, it may also be time to buy a bigger home. 

Smart Home Office Design May Require Outside Help 

When business is booming, you should consider any investments you make into your new home workspace as investments in the future success of your home-based business. This includes any fees you may pay for professional designers, who can help create the best layout for a productive home office. If you’re concerned that hiring professionals is outside your budget, Business Insider explains that some companies offer free design services, or will at least provide a cost-free consultation. These services are often complimentary when you purchase home office products from major retailers like Pottery Barn or West Elm.

DIY Renovations Can Boost ROI on Home Workspaces 

If you feel comfortable wielding tools, then you may be able to save even more on your new home workspace. That’s because by using DIY websites to tackle renovation tasks and project to-dos, you will be able to avoid paying hefty contractor fees. These sites are full of resources for handy homeowners and home-based business owners, including tips for putting together a project budget and tutorials for building custom furniture. So if you have the time and attention to detail, refer to these DIY resources to create your dream home office. To keep those DIY projects from becoming disasters, you will want to consider some key points before you start. Safety should always be top concern, so leave more complex remodeling jobs to professionals. 

Small Touches Can Help Keep a Home Office Organized 

Once you have the bones of your new home workspace all worked out, you can move onto the finer details. Just keep in mind that design and decor details can really make or break the feel of your home office, so give these touches the same consideration as major project elements. For example, the paint colors you choose for your office walls can either hinder or help creativity and productivity. So if you want a burst of energy during your workday, opt for a sunny yellow color, but if you prefer to enhance your concentration, warm hues of pink or peach may be best. Decor can also play a key role in improving your home office space and can even add storage—consider getting a few decorative bins, which you can buy on Amazon for $29.99.

There are so many perks to having a dedicated workspace in your home, especially if you are trying to grow your home-based business. Creating your dream home office can help you keep your life balanced, and it can also offer a space to keep you productive. Plus, you may even be able to take advantage of tax benefits that will give you more room for future business projects.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear” let’s get busy.

* Tina stays busy as a life coach and works hard to help herself and her clients achieve a healthy work-life balance.

Holiday Magic At The Biltmore

Guest blogger CY Cooper

Happy Holidays, one and all.  My family and friends know that yours truly is a history enthusiast.  So, in the spirit of the season I began my celebrating the holidays by traveling to Asheville, North Carolina the first week of December and visiting the magnificent Biltmore Estate.  It’s simply known as the Biltmore or as I like to call it, America’s Downton Abbey. No matter what time of year you go to see this incredible structure, it is breathtaking BUT during Christmas it’s even more amazing.  


Biltmore was the family home of George Vanderbilt, his wife Edith and their daughter Cornelia.  The house, over 175,000 square feet and 250 plus rooms, was under construction for over five (5) years.  On Christmas Eve in 1895, George Vanderbilt officially opened the doors of the grand house to family and friends.  At the time it was constructed Biltmore had all the latest conveniences for a home in the late 1800’s.  

During my visit, I stayed at one of the two hotels located on the grounds of the estate.  The Village Hotel and the The Inn are not far from the main house.  When you stay at either one of the hotels there’s a shuttle that takes you back and forth from the house, to the winery, gardens, conservatory, equestrian center, shopping areas and restaurants.  In fact, you don’t have to leave the estate grounds unless you want to explore Asheville.  There are several tours available pertaining to the estate, including a guided house tour, roof top tour, a tour of what went on through the eyes of the servants’ garden tours and my favorite, legacy of the land tour.  Biltmore is not just a large home with beautiful gardens, it’s a brief but fun and fascinating glimpse into the past of America.  


Thousands of people visit the estate during the holidays to view this spectacular home with its beautiful decorations during the day and also in the evenings where the house is illuminated by candlelight.  There is so much to talk about regarding my visit that I can’t put it all in one post.  Look for upcoming posts regarding reviews of the restaurants on the estate as well as a recap of The Downton Abbey Exhibition currently running at the Biltmore.

My stay at the Biltmore was wonderful, but there is no place like home for the holidays. Have a wonderful holiday season, and remember “thisisyourbestyear”. Merry Christmas!

Thankful For 4 Generations

Just wanted to share some of the fun we had at Thanksgiving this year with four generations under one roof. It was our daughters idea to gather the family together which we do every Thanksgiving, but this time to do it under one roof. So we had family from the age of 10 to soon to be 97 for Thanksgiving.

We all decided that an airbnb would be the best way to go, and it was my assignment to find the perfect one that was not too far from home, but far enough. Our selection was Shepherd Lodge in Kingston, Oklahoma. From the pictures we were in love with it, and had our fingers crossed that it would live up to expectations–it did and more.

There were four generations that would be staying under the same roof for three nights. Like most people we were hoping there would be enough to entertain everyone, enough space so that we wouldn’t feel crowded and other things. There was nothing to worry about, our airbnb had everything we wanted and needed from board games, card games, pool table, ping pong, three fireplaces with two being outside, televisions in each bedroom and one in the great room plus so much more including a piano. Everything for preparing Thanksgiving dinner was there–there was even fresh ground coffee in the kitchen.

If someone had wanted to gamble there was a casino down the road, and a lake that my grandson did get to see. Take a look at a few more pictures of our four generation Thanksgiving.

Enjoy family because there is nothing better. Remember “thisisyourbestyear” and give thanks every day.

Christmas Parade–Making Memories

The one sure way to know that it’s the Christmas holiday season is with marching bands playing, floats coming down the street with lights and Santa Claus waving to everyone along the parade route. We’ve listed a few that are in the North Texas area. We’re sure there are more. Take a look at these and you might be able to make a couple. If you do, you have to decide how to tell your children and/or grandchildren why Santa looks a little different at each parade.

Take a look at these parades–enjoy!

November 24, 2019 @ 6:00 PM GM Financial Parade of Lights: Downtown Fort Worth 76102 

The Parade of Lights in downtown Fort Worth is the brightest Christmas parade around with everything and everyone lit up with Christmas lights. The shops will all be open for a little bit of shopping before the parade, and of course you can enjoy the 65 foot Christmas tree in Sundance Square. There is reserved seating available.

December 7 @ 10 AM Holiday Parade: Downtown Dallas 75202 

This is year 33 year for this event that features marching bands, cartoon characters, holiday floats, larger-than-life balloons and so much more. Premier tickets are available.

December 7 @ 6 PM Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting: Bakersfield Park, Flower Mound 75028 

Join the town in celebrating its 30th annual Christmas Parade! This year’s theme will be “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” After the parade, there will be a tree lighting ceremony with choirs singing, Santa Claus, family activities, vendors, food trucks, and much more!

December 14 @ 6 PM Arlington Holiday Lights Parade: Downtown Arlington 76010 

Enjoy the annual Holiday Lights Parade in downtown Arlington.  Come see and hear the sounds of Christmas, and then enjoy the lighting of the Christmas tree on the steps of City Hall. There will be family activities including music, food, vendors, and a screening of the movie “Elf”. 

Honey’s baby amd I had a great time last year at the Parade of Lights in Fort Worth. Remember “thisisyourbestyear” Christmas parades make memories that last a lifetime.

Grandparents As Parents

Being a grandparent is one of the best things this side of heaven. Each grandparent thinks their grandchildren are the cutest in the world. Their grandchildren are the smartest, so much smarter than their children were at that age. When grandchildren come to visit, grandparents give them almost anything they desire. They let them do whatever their hearts can imagine and more. This is so true for the preteen grandchildren. As they grow into teenage years it’s another story. Grandparents love grandchildren because after all the fun they have, the food they have eaten, the playing they have done and much more they are packed up and sent home to their parents. Grandparents can then go back to whatever they want to do–they’ve earned it.

Some grandparents can’t send their grandchildren home to their parents because they have become the parents. There have always been grandparents that raised their grandchildren for some reason. There was always Big Mama Susie, Granny Louise, Paw Paw, Daddy James and more who took on the role of raising a grandchild.

In the state of Texas alone there are approximately 823,750 children under the age of 18 living in homes where the householders are grandparents or other relatives with the majority living with grandparents.

According to the Grandfacts State Fact Sheets there are over 315,000 grandparents that are raising grandchildren. Of those:

  • 67% are under the age 60
  • 62% are still in the workforce
  • 23% live in poverty
  • 23% have a disability
  • 26% are unmarried (grandchildren are living with a single parent)

These grandparents having raised their children have once again taken on the responsibility for the day-to-day maintenance of a home, schedules, meals, homework, play dates and more. These items may seem simple, but homework is not the same as it was a generation ago. Years ago play dates consisted of going outside and playing with the kids in the neighborhood. There was no scheduling of activities. Birthday parties consisted of cake, punch and a few games in the backyard or den. There was no social media, cell phones and internet. In addition to time, the majority of these things carry a monetary component.

The grandparents who are raising their grandchildren now have to redo their lives, their dreams and much more. They have to give up their independence and start all over again. Their finances will ultimately take a hit, and retirement may not be in the picture in the near future. That dream of finally starting their own business has again become just a dream.

All of this is not to say that grandparents do not cherish their grandchildren, it’s just that their lives or at least the idea of what their lives should look like at this stage of life will have to change. Their new normal is not the normal they day dreamed about.

There are programs that will assist the grandparents in their new role as primary parents. At my church a senior group meets once a month to talk about the good, the bad and the ugly of raising grandchildren when you thought you would only see them on the weekends. It allows the grandparents to learn from others who are in similar situations, and to give guidance to those that need it .

In every state there are organizations that will assist those that are raising children for the second time. AARP has great information in the Grandfacts sheets for the United States and for your state. There are local programs that can assist also.

Grandparents may need a little help when raising grandchildren. Those that take on this task are indeed “grand”. Remember “thisisyourbestyear”, and just in case you didn’t know my grandchild is the cutest and smartest.

Getting Healthy Shouldn’t Be Expensive: 3 Ways Seniors Can Boost Their Health On A Budget

*guest post by Jason Lewis

Looking at fitness classes, meal delivery services, and other health-related products, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that a healthy lifestyle is unaffordable. But the truth is, living well doesn’t have to cost a lot. If you want to improve your health but are worried about the expense, try these three strategies for staying healthy on a budget.

Avoid Sticker Shock at the Doctor

Out-of-pocket medical bills are disastrous for your budget. Not only is healthcare expensive, but most of the time you don’t know what a procedure costs until you get the bill.

Original Medicare comes with significant cost-sharing requirements. Without supplemental coverage, Medicare beneficiaries spend an average of $5,374 on out-of-pocket medical costs (not including premiums) every year. Seniors with high medical needs and no supplemental coverage spend more than $7,000 on out-of-pocket costs.

Supplemental coverage reduces out-of-pocket costs so your medical spending is more predictable and easier to budget around. Instead of getting hit with a big bill after a hospital visit, you pay premiums for a Medigap or Medicare Advantage plan that reduces your cost-sharing requirements. If you have high medical needs, Medigap is likely the better choice for you. Otherwise, you can see greater savings with a Medicare Advantage plan like those from Humana. Medicare Advantage plans vary by state, so you’ll want to comparison shop and crunch numbers to find the most cost-effective plan for you.

Supplement Your Workout at Home

Staying active saves you thousands in healthcare costs, but if you’re only paying attention to your health while you’re at the gym, you’re not getting the most bang for your buck. Healthy habits at home — especially those focused on your mental health — can exponentially improve the health benefits you see from just working out alone. 

From speeding up physical recovery to making workouts more enjoyable, incorporating self-care into your life boast a slew of benefits. However, many people don’t make it a priority because they erroneously think taking care of themselves means long massages, expensive vacations, or other costly, time-consuming activities. 

Fortunately, that’s not the case. There are plenty of budget-friendly self-care tactics you can incorporate into your daily routine. Whether you have a few minutes or a few hours, daily meditation, a relaxing bath, and an earlier bedtime are just a few examples of how you can prioritize your own well-being without breaking the bank. 

Eat Healthy on a Budget

Are you convinced that eating healthy is too expensive? There’s no question that healthy foods can be costly, but they don’t have to be. If you shop all organic from a high-end grocer and eat out several times a week, a dietary shift could double your grocery bill. But there are plenty of ways to eat well without spending a fortune.

Instead of buying everything organic, stick to the dirty dozen for your organic produce and buy conventional for the rest. You should also eat smaller servings of free-range and grass-fed meat, getting more of your protein from plant sources instead. Rather than buying processed foods that hike up your grocery bill without providing much nutritional value, stick to whole foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and fresh meat and fish. Buying from the bulk section is another great call: When producers don’t have to pay for packaging, those savings are passed along to you. Just pay attention to price, because while most things are cheaper in bulk, some bulk products could be more expensive.

There’s no shortage of products promising better health in exchange for your hard-earned money, but good health doesn’t come from a miracle cure or any other quick-fix solution. If you really want to enjoy your best health, start with the basics: good healthcare, an active lifestyle, and a healthy diet. These simple steps don’t cost a lot and will save you thousands in health problems throughout your senior years.

“Remember “thisisyourbestyear”–taking these steps can help us all.

*This post was written by guest blogger Jason Lewis. Jason is a personal trainer and the primary caretaker of his mom after her surgery. He created StrongWell.org and enjoys curating fitness programs that cater to the needs of people over 65.

Breast Cancer–Be Aware All Year

We all know that October is

and we are asked to

We wear the pink ribbons for a month and even donate money.

We must continue to remind our friends, sisters, cousins–even ourselves that

and that there are certain things that put us at

but, we also know that

So don’t forget to get that yearly uncomfortable mammogram. We all know someone, or we are that someone who can say

Let’s continue to help those with breast cancer be a

We are all aware in October, but breast cancer occurs all year. All of us know someone that did not defeat this disease or are living with it, so let’s not only be aware, let’s

Let’s continue to support those organizations that you feel are working toward a cure. Remember “thisisyourbestyear”, and breast cancer has affected us all in one way or another. We are in this together.