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The “Gifts” of January

Feeling

Wooooo Hooooo! I’m alive! Overly dramatic but alive. :)

I’m just going to tell you right out that I’m not the biggest January fan. There’s a reason I made it Slumber Month for the elves in the books – sleeping seems like the best way to spend the month!

Here in the Pacific Northwest the month tends to be dark and cold and wet and very dark and dreary and just constantly dark. For this girl, I’ve discovered light matters. I actually don’t mind the weather of January as much as the dark, dark, dark. Plus, it follows fall and Christmas – hard acts to follow!

This year though, I resolved to approach the month differently. I know lots of people who love January and I think I used to not mind it quite so much myself when I was younger. I needed to rediscover the gifts of this month. Chiefly:

  • January lets us slow down. Things go at a slower pace this darker month when people don’t want to go out so much.
  • Its a great month for naps and for planning.
  • It has 31 days that should be enjoyed and celebrated like the rest of the year. Every day is a gift!

So I set aside my January blues and approached it with vigor and many good things have been happening:

  • I got in a visit to my parents in Arizona and some sunshine.
  • I met a cherished online friend from Vermont in person while visiting Arizona.
  • I’ve had some great nights out with some really great friends.
  • I’ve even had great long walks out ignoring the pouring down rain. I’m a native Washingtonian afterall!
  • And, most excitingly, I’ve been working with some creative minds on a whole new website coming to this space! I’m super excited about it and will be talking more on it as it begins to unfold.

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So, all in all, I was doing pretty good with this “new January” till “new January” hit me with the mother of all colds.

Holy cough suppressant! The sucker really knocked me down. I never miss work for illness and missed two days last week – and wanted to miss two more. It’s a January blizzard but I’m the one blowin’ – my way through two Kleenex boxes. Finally, today, ten days in, I feel like it is lessening up. For that I find myself feeling truly grateful.

And for the cold too. In the end, I’ve been down with a cold. A big-time one with some big-time credentials but we are talking just a cold. I live lucky – even as I reach for the tissue box and pop another cough drop. I know plenty of people with far challenging health issues who would love to have just a cold.

So this cold, turns out to be another of the “gifts of January.” A reminder that gifts come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and we don’t always get what we asked for. In this case, I got down time to think on things that matter and good health is high up on that list.

February starts in the morning and this cold has got to move along. This author needs a clear head and creative mind to get slamming out book five!

Oh Oh Oh! – jingle

 

Here comes a great year!

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Happy New Year!

Woo-Hoo, welcome 2016! I am very weirdly really excited about this new year. I don’t know what it is – I mean it is looking like just about every other new year – but it has a feel of positive energy to it. A sense of promise of opportunity and I am totally ready to take that all on. Bring it on new year – be ridiculously amazing!

Do you select a theme word for your year? I know some do and some don’t. I fall into the “some do” camp. This year I selected two:

RICH

CONNECTED

I considered all sorts of possible words but these are the two that kept tapping on my shoulder. Rich for not just money (which of course is welcome :) ) but richness of life. Rich in the sense of depth in experience, love, adventure, friendships, work, new opportunity – all the good stuff. And connected in the same sort of way. Connected with others – family, friends and new friends to come – but also with the world, spirit, nature, energy, and myself.

I also love to put together a dream board (collage, wish board) this time of year so I plan to spend some time this wonderful long weekend working on that as well while I put holiday things away and declutter as I go along.

We are moving into the new year. Choose now to shape it and make it your own. Fill it full of whatever you love! Happy New Year!

Oh Oh Oh! – jingle

Wrapping up & Giving Thanks for 2015

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Those are my elf angels in the photos. Just with a quick glance, I bet you can tell my Christmas was way past awesome. Our little elves are perfect ages to be soooooo excited about what’s under the tree. We all had a ball!

And now, just like that, the holiday has passed. Happy end of 2015! Thank you so much for your support this past year of Sandra and her adventures! I’ve had a year packed full of fun. Here are some of the notable highs for me:

  • I worked on writing Unwrapped in some wonderful places this year! I traveled to Orcas Island (Washington State), on a cruise ship up the west coast of the U.S. and in a deck chair with a fabulous view of Waikiki. Not a bad life! All of the locations gave me inspiration for some of the adventures that unwrapped in the book.
  • I received some really wonderful, heart-warming emails, comments and reviews from readers. Thank you! Each one is a gift.
  • My facebook page, twitter account and newsletter lists all grew. Thanks for the follows, the likes, the comments and the shares. It makes social media a lot more fun when it is, indeed, really social.
  • The first book hit number three in its category on Amazon! What fun those couple of days were.

I personally love to give the past year a good look of review and assess how it went before I plunge in to the next. How about you? I think on what the big events were, of course, but I try to spend most of my time thinking on what I learned, how I’ve changed and grown, what I’d still like to change about myself – and let go of – before moving into the new year. All that sort of thing. And I really love to look back on all the amazing and wonderful things that happened and the marvelous people in my life and give thanks for it all! It is such a good feeling to end the year on. Try it out yourself. Think about your gratitude list and really breathe it all in! Ahhhhhh! It is a wonderful thing to live a good life.

Oh Oh Oh! – jingle

Get some fast wrapping done with these tips

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Oh Oh Oh its been a so so so busy month!

Everyone got their tree up? At my house we don’t actually do a traditional tree but instead set up a bit of a “Christmas forest” with lots of pretty smaller trees – lit and not lit – showing themselves around the house. It’s different but still very merry and makes us feel ho-ho-holiday happy. :) How about at your home? Do you have a traditional tree? Do you put more than one tree up? Themed tree or traditional? There are just so many joyous ways to celebrate this holiday! I tend to like them all!

I’ve done only a little shopping and no wrapping at all! Stuff the stockings I am behind! Somehow, though, it all manages to get done in time and mostly it’s my own fault for having so much fun at an assortment of holiday events. Lucky me! Still I’ve got five cool wrapping shortcuts you might like too:

  • Forget the ribbon this year and pick up some decorative tape at your local hobby shop. Then you just zip that on your packages for the illusion of ribbon and all the bright extra color but none of the fuss of tying up the bows and the like!
  • Buy wrap in two sizes. I love this particular tip. Target sells shortee half rolls that I love using since many gifts are smaller. They so help with not having to cut down the size of the paper. And you have the bigger full size rolls for boxes and larger items.
  • Forget tags and grab the Sharpee pens! I did this last year and loved it. I did a lovely job :) on my wrapping and then added the recipient’s name and even a message sometimes in black or gold marker. Perfect!
  • Of course you can stuff everything in gift bags but I try to avoid them. It is super easy for wrapping but the whole experience of unwrapping gets done so fast. If you feel like you really must use bags this year maybe try to change it up with some wrapped things being the bag. You’re still ahead because you didn’t have to fuss with ribbon, bows or tags on the wrapped gift.
  • Wrap everything in one color or style of wrap. Or, choose different wraps but give each recipient they’re own, unique wrap. No tags necessary!
  • And a bonus, my favorite tip! Grab a good friend and a bottle of bubbly and make an evening of it! The fun and laughing will make the time and wrapping pile disappear fast and make the “chore” of wrapping another joyous holiday tradition.

Hey and if you’re still trying to think of the perfect gift don’t forget that every fun-loving family really needs to have their own set of the South Pole Santa books! Big thanks from them – and me! :)

Oh Oh Oh! – jingle

Get two for 99 cents!

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Right now, this minute, December 17 & 18 you can get the ebook versions of The Search for South Pole Santa AND Sandra Claus… for just 99 cents! That is less than 1/3 the cost for one normally! What are you still doing here? Pop over to Amazon.com and get yourself one of each and then  . . .

TELL EVERYONE!

Lets change the world with kindness.

Thanks for the love and support and spreading the word.

Oh Oh Oh! – jingle

Ah December!

It’s December!

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So many great things are happening. First of all, allow me to introduce you to my new family member! This little doll baby arrived today and her parents named her Penelope which, of course, I love seeing’s how it is also Cassandra’s middle name! My niece and nephew have such good taste!

Next, the South Pole Santa books are now available in an actual book store and not just on line! I’m so excited about that. Yes, it’s just one but one plus another means two and you just know it will grow from there. Every first is a fun new beginning and I am thankful to the East West Bookshop in Seattle for giving me that first opportunity.

Tis the season!

One of the joys of December is how it moves kindness to the forefront for so many people. I hope you will join me in putting kindness deliberately out front this holiday season. Decide every day you are going to be kind and find kindness and it is sure to present itself. You will feel great and those around you will too. And then talk about it! Here, on Facebook, Twitter, in-person with friends – wherever you want. We need to move from talking about the dark and gloomy and put out the wonderful stories into the world and this is the perfect month to practice. Together we can change the world in small ways that add up.

For instance, today my work group had our holiday party. We draw names and go to lunch. Well first one of the guys offered to drive. Then, everyone kindly got their Secret Santa something really thoughtful for them and I had the pleasure of – kindly – picking up the tab. And then the restaurant gifted us all with 2016 calendars! Living lucky, living kind!

And lastly before I go, a talented friend interviewed me on her podcast! We’d love for you to give it a listen. She runs a podcast full of some amazing interviews that you might want to give a listen to while you’re over there. Thank you again Wendy Reese! Love from my coast to yours!

And love to all of you kind souls too during this month packed full of wonderful. Grab your share and spread it around!

 

Say Yes to You!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving all! It’s the most wonderful time of the year but I know, for many, it can also be the most stressful time of the year too. There’s so much to do! It all backs up and piles on and before you know it, the joy is sucked out and only stress sits there in its place. My sister and I were talking about this today. It’s a very busy world anymore.

Give yourself permission to choose a different way this year. And if you can’t let yourself then I, JingleBelle Jackson, Christmas joy expert (self-appointed :) ), “say yes” cheerleader, happiness promoter and kindness advocate do hereby give you permission to be kind first to yourself. Let yourself say “no.” (“No thanks” is a little nicer. :) )

Seriously, as counter intuitive as I know that is to so many of us, it is one of the best, most healthy things you can do for yourself, for your family and friends and even the world. When you say “no” to to-do’s that you don’t have time for you are saying yes to you and your happiness and that is still, in its way, saying yes to whoever requested your help. No one really wants us to be stressed out messes. We’re nicer, a lot more fun and a lot more in alignment with the joy of the season when we give ourselves time to soak it all in.

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I am a say yes kind of girl. Yes, for me, turns into grand adventures and new learnings. Yes is full of possibilities and ideas. (Heck, I even changed November to Yesvember! :) ) But I’ve learned the gifts of no too. No is often a yes in deep disguise.

So this year, right now, this very minute, decide you will concentrate on the things that most make you happy and let the rest fall away. It will be okay, I promise. You’ll pass on the cookie exchange that you were going to have to stay up till midnight baking for and still get up at 5 am to finish little Joey’s Christmas pageant outfit before school. You’ll pass on gifts for everyone and draw names. You’ll pass on mall shopping and get it all sent to the house. You’ll pass on reading the South Pole Santa books (hey! Wait! This is going too far now! :) ) and take the time for a long soak in the tub. You know what will happen?  

YOUR BEST HOLIDAY SEASON EVER!

These are the days we’ve been given with no promise of tomorrow. Live fully in each day and soak in the simple wonders all around. Being present – not presents – is the very best gift you can ever give to anyone. Most especially to yourself.

Holiday joy to you and yours this beautiful Thanksgiving day! gobble gobble

oh oh oh! – jingle

Happy Thanksgiving Week!

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How I love this week of Thanksgiving! There are so many reasons it is wonderful. Here are some of my favorites:

  • It official kicks off the most wonderful time of the year!
  • There is extra attention to gratitude this week which rocks!
  • I get a four-day weekend!
  • Thursday is this really wonderful day of family and fun. In my family you just never know who will be around and how the day will go. This year there are five of us but we’ve had as many as 30 and as few as just me one year. All of them have been absolutely perfect.
  • The wonderful food of course! It can vary a little bit from year-to-year but the main dishes you can count on having and I am looking forward to all of it. Especially the green bean casserole. Yum!
  • And maybe my very very favorite thing about Thanksgiving, which I know is totally crazy, but I LOVE watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade! Love it! (Anyone have connections and can get me on a float? :) How about as a balloon walker holding down one of the ropes? I’m not picky. :) )

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Meanwhile, even though dinner isn’t at our place this year, I’ve got the house dolled up for the occasion. Here’s some of the latest (even found a great turkey on my mom’s table!) And before you go away, what you doing this year for the big day? Cooking? Eating? Going to the parade? Whatever it is, enjoy every minute of the magic that is Thanksgiving! gobble gobble

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Oh Oh Oh! – jingle

 

 

Signs of the Season!

It's the holiday season!

I know for some, it may seem too early but for fun-lovers when we hit November it’s the holiday season! There is loads of proof to back it up:

  • The tree has arrived at Rockefeller Center
  • Stores have their Christmas merchandise out and their Christmas décor going up
  • Pandora has their Christmas music station now available
  • Magazine covers show Thanksgiving turkeys
  • The Hallmark Channel is now all Christmas all the time
  • Tickets are now on sale for The Nutcracker ballet and A Christmas Carol in our area
  • Christmas movies are coming! Hooray! I’m so happy we will have a couple to choose from this year
  • My next-door neighbor has her Christmas lights on already! She prides herself on being the first. I love them.
  • And maybe my favorite sign of all, my books are selling! :) Happy Day!

 Here’s a few of my shortcuts for easing into the season without going too all-in yet:

  • Does your family and or friends do a gift exchange? For my family we just drew names so now I know who I’m shopping for and can begin thinking on finding that perfect item.
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  • I love to decorate for every season and am as crazy about Thanksgiving as I am about Christmas. I’m not one though that thinks the seasons can’t overlap. Though Thanksgiving comes first and Christmas can overlay its glory, nothing says Thanksgiving can’t linger into December. The last couple of years, I’ve had my Christmas décor theme be autumn love and incorporated them both together.
  • Use an artificial tree? Get it out with lights only and use it first to hang paper leaves on with your guest’s thankful items and good wishes on through the turkey season. Then give it a quick change out to full on Christmas décor.
  • Lastly, I love fall pumpkins. They put such pretty color on my back deck in the fall. As the season changes, I dress them up with gold spray paint. All decked out for a party. Soooo pretty!

Oh Oh Oh! – jingle

 

You’re the best!

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Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
Thank you for downloading The Search for South Pole Santa!
Thank you for buying the others!
Thank you for signing up for the newsletter!
Thank you for your reviews!
Thank you for telling and sharing with your friends and family!
Thank you most of all, above all of it, for your kindness and support.

You all make me feel spoiled

Oh Oh Oh! – jingle