International tai chi champions

By: Robert Friedman

Many recreation centers provide instruction in the ancient martial art of tai chi. But it’s a rare program that sends 17 of its members to China to participate in an international competition, and no doubt even rarer when such a group sweeps the awards in their categories. That’s exactly what happened, however, when a group from the East Columbia 50+ Center’s tai chi class traveled ... READ MORE

Retiree rekindles passion for painting

By: Robert Friedman

Former homemaker, beautician and banker Pauline Rakis is making up for lost painting time. It’s a pursuit she had put on hold for decades. At 74, she is now on a full brush-on-canvas schedule four days a week, at least six hours a day. One of the 25 artists who own and operate the co-op Artists Gallery in Ellicott City, Rakis spent many earlier years styling the hair of other women,... READ MORE

How to feed backyard birds this winter

By: Lela Martin

Although many of our feathered friends fly south during colder weather, other birds remain in the Richmond metropolitan area over the winter. Observing birds is one of the most popular wildlife-related activities. By feeding the birds, you will increase your opportunities to observe permanent residents, such as the cardinal, goldfinch, blue jay and tufted titmouse, as well as winter-only ... READ MORE

She keeps the senate of Virginia humming

By: Glenda C. Booth

Plaques, awards and memorabilia crowd nearly every square inch of Susan Schaar’s third floor office walls at the Virginia State Capitol. The long-time clerk of the Virginia Senate has a plaque from the American Society of Legislative Clerks and Secretaries, where she was the first Virginian elected president. There’s a trophy from the National Conference of State Legislatures... READ MORE

Start 2018 on a positive note with these

By: Dinah Rokach

The beginning of a new year is a time for assessment and action. Look ahead with hope. Read and reflect on the choices before you. Draw inspiration on how to make improvements, break old habits, and forge new positive pathways. Start each day of 2018 with a smile and a purpose. Brain Rules for Aging Well: 10 Principles for Staying Vital, Happy, and Sharp by John Medina, 288 pages, Pear... READ MORE

Classes that will unleash your inner artist

By: Carol Sorgen and Barbara Ruben

Amateur artists 50 and above are encouraged to enter their works of art in an upcoming regional competition sponsored by the Beacon. Our Celebration of the Arts competition will open April 1. Read the Beacon in coming months for further details, or visit our website: For those who would like to take up a new art or craft — or perhaps return to an old... READ MORE