Start your new year with a Bon Secours class [Marriottssville/Sykesville/Woodstock]

Every January, the Retreat and Conference Center at Bon Secours offers a variety of programs that help participants improve their lifestyles — and perhaps meet their New Year's resolutions.

Want to relax or reduce stress? How about trying out T'ai Chi Chih or yoga? Bon Secours has introductory classes geared toward people of all strengths, sizes, and ages. Those with limited mobility can perform the moves from a seated position.

"A Taste of T'ai Chi Chih" will take place on Saturday, Jan. 11, from 1 to 3 p.m., at a cost of $20. Instructor Sharon Sirkis will guide participants through a series of 20 easy-to-learn moves. Participants should wear comfortable clothing.

On Saturday, Jan. 25, 1-3:30 p.m., Kate Berg will guide "Rest, Relax and Renew: An Introduction to Yoga." This class costs $25. Participants will learn to stretch their bodies and calm their minds, and they should bring two large blankets or towels and wear comfortable clothing.

How about if finances are your hurdle? On Thursday, Jan. 16, at 7 p.m., Susan Gallant will present a seminar about "Social Security and Your Retirement." Participants will learn how to achieve a secure, comfortable retirement. A freewill offering will be collected.

Finally, for those seeking improved health, Paul Gallagher will lead a weekend retreat titled, "Making All Things New: Steps to a Healthier Lifestyle." The retreat, which costs $225, will begin on Friday, Jan. 24 at 5 p.m. and end on Sunday, Jan. 26 at 11 a.m.

Bon Secours is at 1525 Marriottsville Road. To register for programs, call 410-442-1320. Go to to learn more about the center.

Snakes — frightful or fascinating? If you fall into the latter camp, the Howard County Conservancy has a free program just for you. On Saturday, Jan. 10, University of Maryland professor Ray Bosmans will present "Snakes — Unique, Amazing Reptiles!" at 10 a.m. He will talk about the special habits and unique adaptations of snakes and will also show off many of his live, slithery friends. Bring your children and come learn more about this remarkable creature.

The Conservancy will also offer "Tales of Nature: an Afternoon of Storytelling" on Sunday, Jan. 19, 3-5 p.m. Professional storytellers Adam Booth, Diane Macklin and Marc Young will spin tales of earth's creatures in three different traditions: Appalachian, American & African Griotic and Jewish.

The program costs $5 per person or $15 per family, and participants must register in advance. Space is limited. Go to to register, or call 410-465-8877 for more information. The Conservancy's address is 10520 Old Frederick Road (Route 99) in Woodstock.

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