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Feather Your Nest

May 03, 2011 By: admin Category: Humor, Mary Grace Musuneggi

When I moved into my house about six years ago, I hung a wreath above the fireplace in my outdoor space.  The wreath was made of vines and ribbons and baby’s breath.  Within a month, I saw that the robins in the area were picking away at it, taking pieces of the vine and ribbon and flying off to add to the structure of nests they were building elsewhere.  On one particular evening, I noticed that a very industrious robin had chosen to use the wreath as the very foundation of his nest.  He began by packing mud between the fireplace wall and the wreath.  To discourage this building project, I removed the wreath, removed his structure and re-hung the wreath.  I came home the next day to see that this determined robin had rebuilt the nest.   Taking it down one more time, I came home the next evening to see that he had built it again; and that his female partner had moved in. I was amazed.  I decided that such determination should be rewarded, and I left them alone.  Within a few weeks, eggs appeared; and within a couple of months, baby birds were born, were fed and taught to fly; and finally the entire family left the nest.  A nice experience to watch. 


Even though I removed the old nest when the family moved out, for the next five springs, new robin families have come, built their nest, bore and raised their children and moved on.  Somehow all feeling very secure in my space; and all willing to share the space with me and my family.  When we came out to sit, or watch TV, or cook outside, or just take in the evening air, the robin families did not fly away; but instead they watched our activities just like we watched theirs. They filled the mornings with their chirping and singing. On occasion, after the babies were born, the mothers sometimes squawked if we got too close, just to remind us that we were sharing their space, too, after all.


Then last year something new happened.  After the robin family moved away, I had forgotten to take down the nest.  I had been traveling a lot; and upon returning from an extended trip, I was surprised to see that a male and female dove had taken up residence in the old robin’s nest.  Not only had they made it their home, but they had added an addition of more mud and twigs and leaves.  It was big enough for the two of them to sit in it side by side.  Upon further investigation, I discovered they were sitting on two eggs.  For weeks they took over my deck, flew in and out, perched on the furniture; and even sat on an outside ceiling fan, while it went round and round as the air blew past it.  They were having a great time and really making themselves at home.  When the babies hatched, the parents littered the area with seed pits and other food sources that they shared with their family. Unlike the robins, they were very unwilling to share the space.  They squawked anytime I came out the door and frantically flew from side to side in the space anytime someone approached. 


By the time they moved out the wreath that had been the foundation of all the nests and the source of building materials for so many robins had totally deteriorated; and so I took it down with nest attached and threw it away.  It was like the end of an era. 


But in the process of clearing out the wreath and cleaning up the space I found myself meditating on what life lessons I had learned from this odyssey. 


All of these birds do what comes naturally. They follow their instincts.


They are determined to accomplish their goal. They let nothing stand in the way of their progress.


They use natural elements to create a home and raise a family. And the doves recycled an existing structure to adapt it to their needs.


The priority for these birds is their family; and the parents work together to create a healthy, safe, and nurturing environment. They protect their nest from outside influences.  They raise their children to ultimately become independent creatures, teaching them to fly, to search for food and to leave the nest. They teach them to become productive members of their society.


Their life is uncomplicated.  It includes work and family, but creativity and fun.  The perfect example of simplicity, joy and abundance all rolled into one of God’s small creatures.


I am glad they have shared their lives with me. I am glad that I had the chance to share my space with them.  And I am glad they reminded me of some basic rules for living well.


As we enter the Spring of this year, I am anxious to see who comes to live on my deck.  A new wreath has been hung and robins are already flying by scoping it out. 


And as you begin the Spring of your year take a lesson from my “friends”.  Learn to live without stress; create and accomplish your goals; enjoy life’s simple pleasures.  Build your personal “nest” with joy and abundance. 


Mary Grace Musuneggi




Executive Director and Founder


April 17, 2011 By: admin Category: Humor

Julie A. Monzi          
                                                           By Julie Ann Monzi

 When our children were young, our family spent vacations at my parents’ house near Pittsburgh.
The kids loved playing in the huge backyard and swimming in the pool.
 On a summer visit many years ago, my then-four-year-old daughter, Abby, who has autism, came down with a fever.
My mom and I kept her comfortable and hydrated. Two days later and still no change in her temperature, I called a local pediatrician.
He was an older doctor, the father of a former high school classmate. Abby was non-verbal so he checked her
thoroughly and finally prescribed penicillin. She hated the taste but took it fairly well.
 The next morning Abby had a small rash. Just little bumps on her arms, neck, and face. I called the pediatrician immediately.
“It’s probably an allergic reaction so stop giving her the antibiotic,” he said.
As we left for home the next day, her rash looked a little more prominent. I decided to schedule an appointment with her regular pediatrician.
In the morning, I woke her up and gasped. Abby’s face was swollen with one eye almost all the way closed. She looked like she’d been punched.
 The rash covered her cheeks and arms.
At the pediatrician’s office, the doctor walked into the exam room and immediately said in a sing-song voice, “I know what’s going on here.
Someone got into the poison.”
 Poison?!!! My mind was reeling. The doctor continued talking and making notes in Abby’s chart, but all I could focus on was that my
 daughter, my baby, had gotten into poison, somewhere, somehow.
 My first thought was my parents’ basement. She played down there and maybe got into the cleaners under the laundry area sink.
That had to be it! At home I kept everything locked up.
 “My parents’ basement,” I told the doctor breathlessly. “That’s where it could have been.” What if I couldn’t figure it out?
Would my daughter get poisoned again?
 The doctor looked at me like I had two heads. “No. It grows outside.”
 My mind was still reeling. Outside? What could she have gotten into outside?
 “Wait a minute! My dad sprinkled something on his flower garden. That must be it!” I was getting frantic.
 “No, no, no,” the doctor said. “It’s a plant. It grows outside.”
 “A plant?” I shook my head in confusion.
 “Yes, a plant. You know. Like poison ivy.”
 “Poison ivy?” What was he talking about? “But you said poison.”
 “Yes, there is poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac.”
 I felt relieved and irritated all at once. “But you said poison, not poison ivy. Poison is bleach, poison is cleaner, poison is Drano.”
 “But poison could be any one of those plants not just one. That’s what it’s called. Poison.”
 “Well, I’ve never heard it called that before.”
 So I got a lesson in botany, and my daughter got a prescription for her “poison”. And I learned a new vocabulary lesson: it may
be poison ivy in Pittsburgh, but in Gettysburg it’s just plain poison.

Yes, Christopher, There is a Santa Claus

November 30, 2010 By: admin Category: Humor, Mary Grace Musuneggi

With the onset of the Holiday Season, I find it easy to recall the days of my childhood and the memories of my Christmas past.  When I was young, on random Saturdays, my mother and I would ride the streetcar to downtown and get off under the Kaufmanns clock.  I still remember the department store Christmas windows as we walked along Smithfield Street.  I remember the bells of the Salvation Army Santa.  I remember the Christmas music that filled the air.

The wonderful Christmas memories and traditions of my past are probably the reason that the

Holiday Season is still as exciting to me as it was when I was a child. I have never let go of the joy and delight that the season can bring. I have never forgotten the Spirit of the Holiday. And I have never stopped believing in Santa Claus.

More than 20 years ago, when my son, Christopher, was 10 years old, a group of his friends had gathered in our family room to play video games. The boys were talking about the hottest new game on the street; and as I passed by, Christopher called out to me. “Mom, can you buy this new game for me for Christmas?I responded with, “We will see.  Maybe Santa Claus will bring it for you.With that the other boys began to laugh as they chided him with You mean you still believe in Santa Claus?” And in a voice barely above a whisper, hoping I would not hear, Christopher replied, “No, I don’t; but my Mom still does.”

And I do. I believe in the Santa Claus that helps us find the time that we never seem to have the rest of the year. The time to shop, and to decorate, and to bake.  I believe in the Santa that helps us find the extra energy needed to write out the cards, to wrap the gifts, to attend the parties, to cook the dinner. I still believe in the Santa Claus who in years where money was tight, somehow made it appear to help to pay for the gifts and the tree and the new outfits. And I believe in the Santa Claus that brings family and friends closer; that makes us wish for Peace on Earth and Goodwill to All, no matter what the state of the world might be.

Although for some this holiday season may seem lackluster with the state of the economy, the endless negative news from the media, and the issues facing our country; more than ever, once again, I believe that Santa will appear bringing the blessings of faith and hope; the kindness of strangers and the love of family and friends; the miracle of sharing; the knowledge that all we have is all we need; and the realization that we still live in the greatest country in the world. 

And when years go by these blessing will still exist when hopefully our current struggles will be lost memories.  And as years and years go by Santa will continue to be part of Christmas.  And we at The Musuneggi Financial Group and Single Steps Strategies wish this year that the miracle of Santa will be part of the Holiday Season for everyone we know.


To read more stories by Mary Grace Musuneggi, you can purchase her book “Single Steps: Strategies for Abundant Living” at www.dbeaglepress.com.



Mary Grace Musuneggi



Founder and Executive Director

December 2010

Sum of the Parts

November 30, 2010 By: admin Category: Humor, Suzy Fiori

by Suzy Fiori


* =  the asterisk    The asterisk is sometimes called a star or splat has a multitude of uses and when you                       see it you know that there is something else going on with whatever it is sitting beside.


/  =   a forward slash   The slash is a sign used as a punctuation mark and for a variety of other purposes.

-          used in some abbreviations  such as w/ (with) and w/o (without)

-          used to denote (often mutually exclusive) alternatives, such as in male/female

-          used between numbers it means division

-          used in computer language

-          Bunches of other names and use

@  =  the at sign     Universally used in most languages to mean at, each at, at  around .


#  =  the number sign or the pound sign    When it precedes a number, it is read as “number”, as in “a #2 pencil”.  However, when it follows a number it is read as “pounds” referring to the unit of weight, as in “5# of sugar”.

%  =  the percent sign    The symbol  is used to indicate a percentage (that the preceding number is divided by one hundred).


*/@#%  =  needs no explanation or definition

Proof that the sum is greater than the parts.

Being Grateful, by Mary Grace Musuneggi

November 01, 2010 By: admin Category: Humor, Mary Grace Musuneggi

If you were asked to describe how you begin your day, are your mornings filled with rushing around, dragging kids out of bed, fumbling to find your shoes, dreading the bus ride to the city and complaining about going to a job you do not like?  For most women, the mornings are not filled with an hour of meditation, some time for reading, a quiet breakfast with the family discussing their plans for the day.  Yet how we set up our day in the morning will most likely be responsible for how our day progresses.

Although we would love to start our days with peace and quiet, and a cup of coffee while we sit by the fireplace; limited time robs us of the opportunity to do this.  But what if there was a way to bring a positive spin into the early morning that would last through the day?  While you brush your teeth, or feed the dog, or ride on the bus, or walk into the office – give thanks.

Give thanks for the house you live in, the family that surrounds you, the people on the bus who smile at you, the change in your purse, the clothes you wear, the job you have.  Give thanks for your health, your dog, the food on the table.  Thanks for your relatives, friend and co-workers.

Now it may seem improbable to be grateful when kids are sick, you missed the bus, the boss is angry, and you’re in a rut.  Yet it seems almost impossible to be thankful when there is no money in the bank, the mortgage is overdue and you were passed over for that raise.  Worries about family, work and money steal your days and take away the ability to enjoy life.  Living becomes existing.

But even at these most despairing moments, you need to reach beyond the “liabilities” to find those things to add to the “asset” side of your life’s ledger.

By starting your day in this spirit, you set up your day to be prosperous and satisfying.  If you start the day feeling stressed and lacking, you will have a day of stress and lack.  But if you take an inventory in your mind of your life’s assets, you will realize just what a rich woman you really are.  You will see that you have much to be grateful for and that you are probably taking for granted the abundance that already exists in your life.  The world around you will give you more if you appreciate what you already have.  If you sow seeds of lack, you will reap lack.  But if you sow seeds of abundance you will reap more of the same.

Melody Beattie wrote in the Language of Letting Go, “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns what we have into enough and more.  It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.”

Begin each day with gratitude; because if you do this every day for a month, you will simply not be the same person you are today.  By giving thanks each day for the abundance you already have in your life, you will set in motion an ancient spiritual law that says, the more you have and are grateful for, the more you will receive

One Size Fits All….Not, By Suzi Fiori

November 01, 2010 By: admin Category: Humor, Suzy Fiori


I recently took a trip to the Pacific Northwest.  Of course, I took my computer….can’t be without email. I took my iPod…..can’t be without tunes. It goes without saying, I took my cell phone too. I practically had to take a separate suitcase just for the cords.

You got your chargers that plug into the wall, and the ones that plug into your computer and let’s not forget the ones that plug into what used to be the cigarette lighter in the car.

Get a new device ( the old ones are obsolete when you take them out of the package) get a new cord. Why can’t they make them universal like the cord to your mother’s electric frying pan?   

It’s big business. There are over 200,000 listings on EBay for power cords. Maybe they’ll let me trade for a new car.

SAY WHAT? by Suzy Fiori

October 01, 2010 By: admin Category: Consumer Education, Humor, Suzy Fiori

New & Improved? By Suzy Fiori

Am I the only one who finds this a little confusing?  How can anything be new AND improved at the same time?

 I saw an ad in last week’s paper for “new & improved” Tide with Acti-lift. Tide has only been around since 1949. (Tide to Go is new. Tide Free is new. Tide with Acti-lift…..still blue Tide in an orange bottle with that landmark day-glo logo.) I might buy into it if it said “improved Tide with new Acti-lift.” That makes sense.

There is only one marketing ploy that I find more amusing than “New & Improved.” It’s the use of the word “Fresh” to describe how you’ll feel when you use some feminine hygiene product

MUSINGS by Mary Grace Musuneggi

October 01, 2010 By: Anna Marie Category: Humor, Mary Grace Musuneggi

The Autumn of the Year…

                        Turning Over a New Leaf


Lose Weight

Stop Smoking

Organize Papers

Start a Business

Create a Financial Plan


New Year’s resolutions by nature are made on New Year’s Day, the end of the holiday season.  We make these major life changing decisions when we are worn out in body and spirit;  when we lack energy, conviction, time and money.  We resolve to do so much at a time when we have no real urge to do anything but rest.


Fall is a much better time to make those resolutions; and map out a strategy to bring them into reality.

Like any course, we need to begin with where we are.  Take the time to review your current life situation.  How is your health?  Are you happy with the way you look?  How are you emotionally?  Are you stressed?  Are you spending enough time with your family?  Have you put your education on hold?  Are you happy in your current career?  What does your financial picture look like?  What are your assets and liabilities?  Is your romantic relationship all you want it to be? 


Once you know where you are, then you can decide where you want to go and how to get there.  And a good roadmap is always in writing.  So write out the goals, and what you need to do to reach those goals.  Revisit your written goals often.  Strategies become goals and realities when they are written, reviewed and worked on.


And sometimes, we need help to bring our strategies to realities.  Ask for help.   Seek out knowledge from those who know the things you do not know.  Get professional advice.   Follow the path of those who have accomplished what you want to do.


By beginning to create your new year now, you will have three additional months to think and dream and develop your goals.   Resolutions made in the autumn of the year, have much more opportunity for success, than those made in the hustle and bustle of the New Year’s holiday.

Mary Grace Musuneggi



Founder and Executive Director

October 2010                                                                         

© 2010 Mary Grace Musuneggi