Yearly Archives:2017

Mary Grace Musuneggi to Speak at Chatham University Center for Women’s Entreprenuership

At Single Steps Strategies, our guiding principle is “empowering women through education.” We especially love to share opportunities for women to empower each other through education. This kind of empowerment is what the Chatham University Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship is all about, and Single Steps Strategies’ Founder and Executive Director Mary Grace Musuneggi is honored to be speaking at their May 12 Women Business Leaders Breakfast.

Mary Grace’s presentation will share strategies and stories from her new book, A Man is Not a Plan: Life Strategies for Independent WomenDid you know some studies say 90% of all women will spend part of their adult life as a single? With that in mind, it is amazing to think any women would leave her financial future in someone else’s hands. An expert on financial independence, Mary Grace wants every women to know “a man is not a plan.”  But this presentation is about more than money. It is about finding the courage to be CEO of your own life, whether a man is in it or not. Mary Grace wants to empower every woman to examine her dreams and goals and get on the path of achieving them one step at a time.

The Women Business Leaders Breakfast Series features prominent regional women business leaders speaking on a variety of progressive business topics. Casual networking and a continental breakfast precede engaging and interactive presentations on topics essential for women in business such as innovative entrepreneurship, strategic business growth, unique marketing strategies, and logistical business planning.


Breakfast and networking begin at 7:30 AM, and the event begins at 8:00. Tickets cost $25 (student and veteran discounts available) and are available through the CWE’s website

Feather Your Nest

By Mary Grace Musuneggi

When I moved into my house, 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 the robins in the area were picking away at it, taking pieces of the vine and ribbon and flying off to add to nests they were building elsewhere. On one particular evening, I noticed an 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. After taking it down one more time, I came home the next evening to find he had built it again…and his female partner had moved in. I was amazed. Such determination should be rewarded, and so I left them alone. Within a few weeks eggs appeared, and within a couple of months baby birds were born, fed and taught to fly. Finally the entire family left the nest.

Even though I removed the old nest when the family moved out, for the next five springs, new robin families arrived, built their nest, raised their children and moved on. Somehow all felt very secure in my space; all were willing to share the space with me and my family. When we came out to sit, or watch TV, or grill, or just take in the evening air, the robin families did not fly away; 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 one year something new happened. After the robin family moved away, I forgot to take down the nest. I had been traveling a lot and upon returning from an extended trip, I was surprised to see 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 more mud and twigs and leaves. It was big enough for the two of them to sit 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 as it went round and round. 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 when 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 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, adapting 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, plus creativity and fun—the perfect example of simplicity, joy and abundance all rolled into one of God’s small creatures.

I am glad they shared their lives with me. I am glad 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.

I Love My Dog…And Other Living Things

By Mary Grace Musuneggi

With Valentine’s Day approaching, we, of course, think of love. And no matter what is happening in our world, we love those little creatures that add unconditional love to our lives. We love our pets.

I love my dog. I know this, because I am one of those millions of Americans who have made going to the pet store a momentous event. I take my dog along…of course. I buy gourmet doggy biscuits and the best in collars and accessories. My beagle, Watson, has ceramic feeding dishes and a wagon filled with toys. He has a sweater for when it is chilly, and a coat for when it snows.

And although I am a little over the edge when it comes to Watson, I know that as much as I love him, I love others more…my family, my significant other, my friends. However, I have had “paws” to wonder if there are some people whose sole loving relationship exists between them and their pets.

On a recent trip to PETCO, Watson and I were followed into the store by a very large man in his late 50’s.  He was carrying a small terrier. In a quiet voice he whispered; “Daddy loves his little baby. And because you are a good puppy, we are going into the store to buy you dog food and a toy. Would you like a new ball? Yes, you would. And when we get home, we will play and play.”

As hysterically funny as I thought this was, I dared not to laugh, as how many times have I been guilty of having that same kind of conversation with Watson?  Still, I couldn’t help but wonder if this same man had little talks like that with his kids, his wife, or other humans in his life.

Then, because life has a way of teaching us through mere contrast of events, the next day I found myself walking into Giant Eagle, followed again by a rather large, but younger man. This one had a very fidgety, pouty-looking 5 year old boy in tow. And the dad’s conversation went something like this, “I am telling you right now, don’t ask for a thing. I just have to pick up a couple things; and then we are out of here. Your mother always does this to me. When I am tired and on my way home she thinks of something for me to do that she could have done herself. All I want to do is get in and out of here. Do you understand me?” Of course it was not necessary for the little boy to answer him. It was obvious that he understood very well.

So I wondered if this man had a dog. And what kind of conversations he had with his dog when he went to PETCO. And did he talk like this to his wife or other humans he knows. And I wondered…if he had talked to his son the way the man at PETCO talked to his dog, how differently the little boy may have reacted. “Come on, son, we need to get a few things in the store. And because you are such a good boy, how about while we are here, we find something you would like, too. And, although I am tired from working today, I missed you; and when we get home maybe we can play ball for a little while after dinner. I love you, son, and I am glad we can spend this little bit of time together.”

So why do we go to extremes for our dogs? Maybe it is because they love us unconditionally. Maybe because when we walk in the door, they jump up and down, wag their tails and treat us as though life was not worth living while we were away (even if that was 5 minutes or 5 hours).

They don’t care less for us if we are tired or having a bad hair day. They are ready to play when we want to play, and they will come to our defense against anything they perceive to be a threat. They instinctively know when we are sad, and they respond to the mere sound of our voice. Who else in our lives does all of this, all the time?

Maybe that’s because we don’t tell the humans in our lives all those little things we tell our pets. Should we say more often, “Daddy loves you and we are going to play and play”? Should we run to the door when our spouse walks in after 5 minutes or 5 hours? Should we defend our friends against anything we perceive to be a threat in their lives? And should we approach each person we meet with the love and affection we show our dogs?

I love my dog…and I have told him that and showed him that today. I must remember today to do the same for all the other living things in my life. And maybe in return they will do the same for me.

Happy Valentine’s Day!