Yeast dough


I  slowly  lost 12 pounds this summer and I am happy about getting rid of that unhealthy “middle ground.” In order to do so, I had to just about eliminate all the unhealthy sugars and carbs I had grown to love. Now slim and trim once again, I noticed the other day that I was craving a piece of  bread, one of those carbs I disallowed myself for the past four months of dieting. The heavy rainfall today made it a good day to stay home and bake bread.  I like to cook and usually enjoy recreating a dish featured in a magazine or served in a local restaurant, but today, I just wanted the comfy-ness that only home-made bread can provide.  I browsed through my cookbooks and found an old favorite recipe of cheese and onion bread, the answer to my craving. I hoped that I would only eat one slice, lest I have to begin dieting all over again!

I gathered the ingredients, found I was lacking the yeast, and made a quick trip to Publix to solve that small hurdle.  After all, you really couldn’t make bread without the yeast. The yeast makes it “rise to the occasion.” I had to laugh to myself when I found the yeast on the store shelf–it is in the same red and yellow packets of three as it has been since I made bread with my grandma in the 50’s!!!!. Some good things never change, nor should they.

And so I began mixing all the ingredients and covering the bowl with a hot towel letting it rise, just the way I always did.  An hour later, as planned, the dough had risen,  I punched it down and covered it again. I knew in another hour, it would rise again, as it was meant to do. Yeast has that incredible ability to make something rise to the heights it was destined to reach. And even after the dough is punched down, it rises again.

And that made me wonder.  The yeast is the catalyst that makes the ingredients become all that they can be.  Without the yeast the bread would be just flat and dull.  But with it, the ingredients bonded and blended with one another, resulting in a wonderful loaf of cheese-onion bread.

In a similar way, there are many things in my life that raise my spirits, rising me to a whole new “happy level”. The yeast is often provided by others:  a call from a former client to thank me for value I brought to her organization,  a text from a grandchild,  and the discrete wink I receive from that special someone when we are in a public place.  These experiences are the yeast in my life, the things that raise my already high spirits even higher. When I am raised up, “flying high”, there is little that can get in my way. I welcome those boosts daily and thank those that provide them.

Women with high SUCCESSTROGEN are fully aware of those who boost their spirits.  They are also aware of when they themselves  raise others to new heights.  Women managers develop others so they, too, can achieve.  Moms raise their children up by their love and support.   I, along with the other mentors and professors at USF, provide  the yeast to our students, providing them skills to raise their self-awareness and ability to communicate more effectively.

Consider those in your life who provide the yeast and remember to pay that forward as you become that significant ingredient for someone else.   Surely, that is our role as parents, teachers, friends, and lovers, to be at our best and to help others achieve and develop to their fullest potential.





dreamstime_m_34279615I found myself sitting on my Bayside deck the other morning, with a cup of Bengal Spice tea  taking stock of my life. I love my life, absolutely love it.  I live where I want to live and do what I want to do.   I smile easily because I have a sense that I deserve to be where I am. I worked hard for many years and endured many challenges. I continue to work hard to do the right things and focus on positively impacting others.  And to top it all off,  I have met someone who truly takes my breath away every time I see him. Let me reiterate that, every time I see him! Yes, I love my life.

With all of the above being said, for whatever reason, while sitting on my deck, I began thinking I was ready for a new challenge.  Was it taking on another responsibility at the University?  A new writing challenge?? What was it?  A few hours later my friend, Leah called and invited me to play pickle ball.  “Pickleball”, Leah offered, “Is the fastest growing sport in America.”–and that is all she had to say. I did not know anything about the game with the silly name, I did not know what equipment I needed to play, and I didn’t even know if pickle was spelled with an “le” an “el”.  “Fastest growing sport in America?”–I was in.  Off we went to the YMCA to take on something new, something different, just for fun.

Oh my goodness, I was in my glory.  Pickleball is a bit like tennis, a bit like ping pong and also like Badmitten, and somehow it captured the best parts of all three, making the game fast, fun, and a huge challenge for me.  It took me several “whiffs” before I realized that I no longer had a long tennis racket in my hand.  The paddle, a bit larger than a ping pong paddle, had a very short handle and I had to accommodate the change and keep my eye on the ball if I wished to ever make contact with the ball.  It was a great three hour workout with lots of laughs and I sweated from head to toe. It will not surprise you that I immediately went out and bought myself a paddle and balls, and am ready to return to the court next week.

My intent here is not to convince you to go and try Pickleball, although I think you may wish to give it a shot!!! My intent is to focus on the huge burst of joy that trying something new affords. Call it a new challenge, a distraction, or whatever you like. Know that taking on something totally new is exhilerating and that is a great feeling. So go and try something new, just for the fun of it. Go with a friend so you can laugh at yourselves and learn at the same time.  Push yourself beyond your usual routine of doing things that are comfortable. Push the boundaries–and enjoy the excitement!








Recently in the Hamptons,  I walked through a very old cemetery.  I couldn’t read much of what was engraved on the weather battered tombstones but one woman was recognized for being a faithful wife and good mother. A young child was recognized for his ability to make others laugh and a fire fighter was noted for saving lives. I wondered for a moment what perhaps we all wonder, what would people say about me? I quickly reminded myself that  my wish is to be cremated, so there will be no tombstone claiming I was “the best mom ever”, “the woman of a man’s dreams”, or “the best adjunct professor ever at the University of South Florida.”  Whatever people think of me may be verbally stated (or whispered !) but nothing about me will be carved in stone anywhere, anytime.

What would I hope they would say about me? I would like people to say  that  I brought joy,  taught them something, or that I changed the way they behave.  I know that Pat will say I was her “fellow Jersey girl”, Bonnie will say that I was a good story teller, and Carole will offer that I was a great x-wife. Helen will tell the story of the coconut cake and how hard she laughed. And while the jury is still out, I hope another friend says that he chose me and was glad he did.

Recently while browsing in Nordstrom  I saw a t-shirt that read “I fly with my own set of wings”–and there it was. That was what I would like to be remembered as, a woman who “flew with her own wings”–that I did things my way, made decisions for myself accepting the consequences of my sometimes impulsive behavior,  and I made life happen, all  because I knew I had wings.

Women with high SUCCESSTROGEN fly with their own wings. They have a strong air of independence about them.  It is  not that they do not need anyone, but they do not depend on any other for their happiness.  They think for themselves, are self-directed and self-motivated. They demonstrate courage and conviction in both their words and their behavior.

If you have never flown by your own wings, I suspect it is a bit scary at first. But the idea is that once you are sure of who you are, you then add the guts, focus, persistence and faith to fly with your own wings. Your own wings fit like no other and once you realize you have them and rely on them, you will soar!

We all know some successful women who have made a  career of their dreams, allowing themselves to be driven by their passion.  They  exude happiness. They have purpose and meaning and they generate a community of others also passionate about what they are doing. When you enter their “space”, there is a buzz, a happy buzz, a productive buzz. People around them are not complaining, they are working together, creating, planning, fixing to accomplish their goals.  They all could be sporting that t-shirt in Nordstrom, because they all

“…fly by their own wings.”

Have I encouraged you to  dust off your wings and test them out again? Your life may have changed somewhat and you may need to adjust the old wings to better enable you to take off, but do it.  Don’t wait any longer to “fly by your own wings”,and take charge of your own life.

Fly by your own wings and enjoy the journey!



?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Every once in a while I come across an unfamiliar word and I add it to my vocabulary because  it is fun to say or brings with it a meaning that far exceeds anything a more well-known word could offer.   Some unique words just say it all. I remember well when my Italian grandfather found someone to be dull-minded, he called him what sounded like “chi-drool”–I think it meant donkey. But donkey didn’t quite capture what my grandfather meant,  “Chi-drool” captured it well.

Recently when I was relaying a story in my wound up way of story-telling with my loud voice, hand gestures and the like,  a friend said, “There is a Jewish word for you, Mary Ann, Mashaguna.”  While he tried to be careful as he defined it for me, I got the point. MASHAGUNA  (pronounced Ma Shoo g’na)means a little crazy, over the top. I would have preferred he said it meant animated or enthusiastic, referring to my story telling ability, but he didn’t. He said Mashaguna and he meant just that–crazy, over the top. I rarely see him now, obviously he didn’t like that side of me!

And so it is. But I have come to terms with it, fully accepting the Mashaguna title knowing that I am over-the-top.  I generally speak using superlatives (These jeans are the best ever!”), eat in the same new restaurant so many times in a month that I never want to eat there again, and play the same song for exercising (Bob Marley, “Three Little Birds”) over and over again. I exercise like a Mashaguna far too many times in a week, play far too many word games, and could conceivably drink a Nutella shake every night of my life.

My  Mashaguna-like behavior may well work against me at times, but I no longer fight it, because it is me. It is who I am. I am over-the-top and while there  are some consequences to being that, for the most part I get a lot of fun out of being me. I find myself laughing to myself throughout the day at what I experienced, and thoroughly enjoy telling and retelling others as well. I worked hard at getting to know me and like me, and find myself very happy with the me I have become. My liking me makes it easy for me to like most other people, appreciating the differences in our personalities and styles.

And so let’s talk about you.  You know better than I if you are a little crazy, a true Mashaguna like me, or not crazy at all. Perhaps you enjoy a gentle quiet life and either enjoy the Mashagunas of the world from afar, or avoid them completely. But the important thing is really how well you like being you. I contend that if you truly like who you are, then you are happy and life doesn’t get much better than happy.  If you don’t like who you are, then you can hardly like anyone else. So  you need to change that, but don’t delay. Get there soon. It is so much more fun when you can enjoy yourself for who you are, accepting your bumps and warts  along with your  all the good things about you.


The Message We Send

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Recently, I spent several hours in the Atlanta airport waiting for a connecting flight home to Sarasota.  Conscious of the fact that I had plenty of time, I walked from terminal to terminal for exercise.  While doing so, I  passed a woman with a t-shirt that had one word and one word only on it. In big bold orange letters, the t-shirt read “NO!”  Nothing more, nothing less–no tagline underneath or on the back of the shirt to better explain her message, just “No!”

I decided not to approach the woman and start-up  a conversation, fearing she would say something like “Hey, can’t you read?” but the bold letters stayed on my mind.  What on earth did this woman mean?  Was she saying, “No!”,  as in “Don’t ask my opinion about Obamacare, or “No,  I don’t want to legalize marijuana.” or “No, I do not want to give you a dime.”  Perhaps she was just telling the world about her generalized negative attitude. Who knows what message she was trying to convey, but clearly she was not interested in meeting me.

While  I would not wear a t-shirt that says “NO!”, I bet sometimes I give off the “no–don’t bother me” message in other equally as obvious ways.  For example, sometimes I am so focused on my list of things to do that as I am walking about town, my head is down, my pace is fast and determined, and it is highly unlikely that I am smiling.  Each of those behaviors send the “No!” or  the “do not disturb” message.   I may as well be wearing the t-shirt!! While my behavior is not a crime punishable by prison, sending that message is wrong for me.  My mission, if you will, is to help others, to add to their personal development, to help them feel good about themselves, and increase their overall happiness. Therefore sending the “No!” any way at all  is not in sync with the purpose of my life. When I am not in sync with my purpose, I am not happy and therefore not at my personal best!

If I am true to my mission to help others, then the only option for me is  to consciously send a message that communicates availability and willingness to help. Further, I must send that message in everything I do.

I am convinced that we are better together, we need each other to fix the world and comfort one another, and we can only do that by sending the “Yes!” message.  Women with high SUCCESSTROGEN say “Yes!” without wearing a t-shirt. They are proactively involved in their families and their businesses to work with others to make things  better, to create new products and services, and to impact the world.

Consider the message you are sending, either by the t-shirt you wear or by your behavior. If you are clearly sending the message you wish to convey, then good for you, carry on! If not, then maybe you will consider adjusting your behavior so that you are sending the message you wish to send.





Back to School



September is one of my favorite months as it signifies the beginning of a new  school year and I always loved school.  In grade school, I truly loved getting all my school supplies together (especially new crayons!!), carefully printing my name on all my new notebooks, sharpening my pencils and waiting on pins and needles to learn the name of my new classroom teacher.  I attended a private girls high school, believe it or not, The Academy of the Holy Angels, and I well recall the excitement of starting a new school and branching out of Hackensack and meeting girls from all over the county.  While I was way too cool then to start high school with sharpened pencils, trust me, I wanted to!  My first days at Marymount in  Tarrytown were a little more anxiety driven because it was not my choice but rather my mother’s.  But the excitement to start school reappeared full force when I began my PhD program and lasted throughout the program.

This September  I am preparing  to teach in the graduate program at USF Tampa.  Could my students possibly be as excited as I am about Business Communication  GEB 6215?  On the surface it sounds like a nothing kind of course and is initially likely discounted as not very important, or worse still, an “easy A.” Boy are the students in for a surprise!

Here’s the thing.  I believe that communication is a strategic asset to our success and happiness.  How well we get through our lives is dependent on how well we can communicate. We spent hours in grammar school learning the states and capitals, how to find the area of a triangle, and identifying the types of clouds. But oddly enough, we have never been taught how to communicate!!! We probably no longer remember all the states and capitals, have never had to find the area of a triangle, nor  felt the need to name a cloud. Yet everyday of our lives we are challenged with communication issues  at work and in our personal relationships.  The words we use, our tone of voice, and our body language, all impact our message and unfortunately our message is often either lost or received badly. Most of us would benefit from communication skills enhancement.

Women with High SUCCESSTROGEN are recognized as having excellent communication skills. They  speak clearly and articulate their point of view. They are influential and engaging.  They listen well, ask pertinent questions, and engage others in a conversation.  They know how to negotiate in a win/win way getting valuable results and commitment from others.  These women have perfected their communication style to be authentic and respectful and as a result have little difficulty gaining a followership.

So this two-credit class on Business Communication is most valuable to my students looking to start a career in business.  My students in the Class of 2016 are the lucky ones, because they will have  a chance to examine and alter their communication style and effectiveness, which I believe will lead to their success and happiness in all that they do.

Don’t you wonder why more emphasis isn’t placed on  communication skills in the curriculum starting with young children?  While students know the formula for finding the area of a triangle, they continue to struggle to communicate what’s going on in their lives to their parents, teachers, and friends.





Postage Stamp Dependability

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? I was at the post office the other day buying my usual roll of Forever stamps to protect myself against the next US Postal increase.  Years ago I remember buying stamps at 2 cents each, or $2.00 for a roll of 100.  But today, that same sized roll costs $49!  Same size, same material, okay so I don’t have to lick these, but for all practical purposes I am paying a whole lot more for the same product!  But this week’s blog isn’t about the increased cost of a postage stamp.  It is about the fact that the stamp sticks to the letter and arrives at its destination every time. This blog  is about dependability, our dependability to ourselves.

I waited on-line at the post office  and purchased my stamps.   I ripped off one self-sticking stamp and placed it on my letter addressed to my friend who is ailing. I paused and mentally sent a prayer to my friend,  tapped on the stamp twice as I always do to make sure it sticks to the letter, and dropped it into the mail slot on the wall that read “outgoing.”   I don’t know why I tap the stamp twice but I do. Consistently, when applied to a letter, the stamp  sticks to the letter and gets where it is supposed to go, every time. I can count on it. I do not need to worry about it or track it online. It just gets there, every time.

Women with high SUCCESSTROGEN  stick with things they start because they determine it is a needed step amongst perhaps many to accomplish what they wish to do.  Some of us start things but never finish them.  We might even start so many things that there isn’t time enough in the day to complete any one of them. Or perhaps, we lose interest, or even forget why we were interested in the first place.

I often think that one of the biggest problems in the business world is that we cannot necessarily depend on every person in the organization to do her job right the first time, on time, every time and as a result, the output is not always as expected or promised to the customer.  The process is not dependable. We have seen an increase in auto recalls lately that tells me, the automobile industry is far less dependable than the postage stamp.

But. more than the lack of dependability in the car industry,  I am more concerned about it in our personal lives. If we want to lose weight for once and for all, then we need to consistently exercise and eat healthy today, tomorrow and for the rest of our lives.  If we want to get an educational degree, then we need to register for the required and elective classes, attend classes as scheduled,  and do the assigned work, every day.  If we want to live our lives to the fullest in spite of a diagnosis of a progressive illness, we need to continue to research and be up to speed on what is happening in the medical field, and do whatever we need to do to manage our illness–everyday, day over day.  There can be no day off from our dependability.

In doing what we need to do, we are depending on our own dependability. We need to stick to our plan to reach our goals, much like the postage stamp sticks to the letter right to its destination.