Beating the Winter Blues

Whether you call it the Winter Blues or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), it simply means we’re getting mid-way into winter and those gray skies aren’t bringing out the sunniest parts of our dispositions. Well, some of us anyway. But honestly, if you’re feeling a bit slower, a little melancholy at times and you have less energy, you’re not alone. Especially if you’re living in a part of the world that simply gets less sunshine at this time of year, which is basically most of North America, Europe and Asia! As much as we hate to say it, women between the ages of 20 and 40 are also twice as likely as men to have SAD.

Not fair you say? We agree, but there are ways to combat the Winter Blues without having to pack up and move to sunny Florida or Brazil or anywhere nearer the equator! Of course a trip to Rio would really be worth considering! Oh yes, back to the more realistic remedies…

Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

Get some sun or at least more light. When there’s a break in the temperature, try getting outdoors more often. Keep your drapes open and your shades up and sit closer to a window. If you’re in a windowless office, try your own version of light therapy…bring in a lamp and use “full spectrum” bulbs that mimic natural light. (It has the same effect as the real thing!)

Work on your new year’s resolutions. A CDC study states that there is a strong link between healthy behaviors and depression. Exercising, eating right, etc. all lead to a healthier you and a healthier you is a happier you.

Be good to yourself. We were only half joking about the trip to Rio. Beside the additional sunshine you’d be getting, treating yourself to something special is often a real pick-me-up. If Rio is out of the question, how about a spa date, a night at the theater, a sporting event or a great movie…anything that keeps you motivated and gives you something to look forward to.

Say “no” to stress. Even in the middle of a sunny summer season, stress is a downer. And while none of us can eliminate 100% of the stress in our lives, we can try to keep it manageable. Getting enough sleep is important, doing something relaxing is essential and, at times, doing nothing can be downright good for us.
You could always sign up for yoga or try a little meditation. Staying in bed with a good book sounds pretty good right now, too!

Say “yes” to winter. If you can’t get away from the cold or snow, why not find a way to enjoy it. There are lots of winter activities to enjoy…skiing, ice skating and sledding to name a few. Again, the more active you are, the less stress you’re likely to feel and the more energy you’ll have.

Stay connected. It’s really important to stay in touch with friends and family during these longer winter months. They offer a great support system and just a chat over coffee or a quick email can usually provide you with just the thing that can brighten your mood. It works the other way around, too. Providing someone else with a cheery word can do wonders for your own well-being!







In Honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

Today celebrates the life and achievements of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., (January 15, 1929—April 4, 1968). This national holiday honors the civil rights leader and his non-violent movement to end racial segregation and his quest to right injustices in the United States.

After graduating from high school at the age of fifteen, King studied at Morehouse College where he was elected president of a predominantly white senior class and was awarded his B.A. degreen in 1948 and his B.D. in 1951. He received his doctorate in 1955 from Boston University. It was in Boston where he met and married Coretta Scott and the couple went on to have four children–two sons and two daughters.

He served as co-pastor, alongside his father, at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Ga., from 1960 until his death in 1968. His grandfather had been pastor there as well from 1914 until 1931, when his father stepped into the position.

By 1954, King was a member of the executive committee of the NAACP and, in 1955, accepted the leadership of a bus boycott that was the first great Negro nonviolent demonstration of its kind. It lasted 382 days until, in December 1956, the U.S. supreme Court declared segregation on buses illegal. Although it was a great victory, it came with many sacrifices. King was arrested, threatened, subjected to personal abuse and his home was bombed, but he emerged an even stronger leader.

His list of accomplishments are great including becoming not only a symbolic leader of the civil rights movement, but a world figure, as well. In addition to traveling over six million miles to spread his message of peace, he led many marches and wrote numerous books and speeches, one of which was his famous “I Have a Dream” address which he delivered to more than 250,000 marchers in Washington, D.C.

At the age of 35, he was the youngest man ever to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Sadly, on April 4, 1968, this great man was assassinated as he stood on the balcony of a hotel room in Memphis, Tennessee.





Top 10 Resolutions and How to Keep Them!

How to Stay True to a New Year’s You…

Get Fit

Two words to make this work: buddy system! Having a
friend share this goal can make all the difference. If you can find a diet and exercise partner at work or in your neighborhood, nothing beats mutual motivation when it comes to getting in shape and keeping fit.

Eat Healthy

Don’t take this to extremes, since old habits can die hard. The key to making it work is to mix it up and make it fun. Turn those vegetables from a chore into a score with a mouth-watering veggie smoothie! Keep a checklist of your achievements, and reward yourself with a little dessert made with fruit, just to help keep it healthy.

Broaden Your Horizons

The easiest way to maintain this resolution is to visit your local library. Besides the volumes of information right at your fingertips, ask a librarian if they know of any classes teaching the very thing you’ve been wanting to learn.

Get Debt Free

The best way? Budget yourself. Take an inventory of a month’s worth of income and spending and cut back to the bare essentials. You might be surprised how quickly you can dig yourself out of debt when you trim the fat and put that extra cash toward paying down credit cards and student loans.

Save Money

Now that you’ve dug yourself out of debt, it’s time to set some aside. Start out small with a “rainy day” account and make it a point not to touch it—even when it’s raining! Use the money you’ve saved from cutting back on expenses toward the account, too. Also, take advantage of any retirement savings programs you can through work. It’s these little things that can add up nicely!

Family Comes First

Home is where the heart is! Make it easy on yourself—pick up the phone to catch up, make time for a nice little meal together, or even a fun family game, indoors or outside. It’s also been shown that getting together with good friends has a positive impact on health, both emotionally and physically.

Time to Travel

You don’t have to have a passport to make this work. Get out a map and see how far a tank of gas will get you. Chances are, there’s a whole host of excursions just waiting to be discovered.

Decompress from Stress

Breathe. Breathe in the good,            
breathe out the bad, and repeat. Clear your mind of clutter. Release yourself from expectations and just go with the flow. Remember, relaxation techniques can help anyone cope with stress, especially if used along with other helpful activities like exercise, getting enough sleep and engaging in favorite hobbies.

Lend a Helping Hand

Start with the small stuff—read to a neighbor’s child if the parent is busy and could use a hand. Or, simply sit and visit. A friendly chat is a great way to brighten someone’s day. Have a skill and know someone who could use your help? Those golden opportunities are right around the corner, ready to help make this resolution stick!


Going green is easier than you think. Find out what eco-friendly programs are available in your city. Then, take a moment every day to separate recyclables from non-recyclables. The Earth will thank you!

Good luck with the resolutions you make and don’t be discouraged if you find that you’re not keeping the pace you want with the changes you’d like to make. Tomorrow is always another day…another chance to begin again.



Christmas Eve Traditions

It’s always special when you celebrate the Christmas season–and especially Christmas Eve–with your own mix of old and new traditions. These may vary from home to home, and culture to culture, but most have significant meanings that have survived through the ages. The traditional red and green colors of Christmas actually stem from the mythical properties of Christmas foliage.

Holly Wreaths

For instance, the holly bush was thought to be the one that was never consumed by fire as God talked to Moses on the top of Mt. Sinai. The holly wreath then is thought to invite God’s spirit–and especially the spirit of Baby Jesus–into our homes. That’s why it’s became so important in some cultures to hang a holly wreath on Christmas Eve.

Christmas Trees

Bringing a beautiful lush evergreen tree into the home, and with it, good fortune, was originally a German tradition. The custom eventually led to lighting the tree with candles on Christmas Eve. Adding a beautiful star to the top of the tree was a reminder of the star the wise men followed to bring gifts to the baby Jesus.

Yule Logs

The ancient Vikings taught us about the Christmas Eve yule log, which was thought to bring warmth and sustenance to the home all year, especially if the log was received from a neighbor or a friend. Today, that tradition has been updated to serving a Yule Log cake in the spirit of warmth and friendship. It is sometimes part of an elaborate Christmas Eve meal that families enjoy before going to traditional midnight services at church.


The lush reds of poinsettias were introduced through Mexico and have become increasingly popular over the years. The star-shaped blooms represent the ancient star that lit the way for shepherds and kings in their journey to Bethlehem.

New Traditions

Christmas Eve is a great time to start your own traditions as well. Perhaps you can combine versions of those from ancient cultures with your own. You can always create new ones like making a charitable donation or helping others in need, to making predictions for the coming year, to reading Christmas stories or watching a favorite Christmas movie before going to bed.

So whether your family opens gifts on Christmas Eve or you save them for “Santa” and Christmas morning, remember that the greatest gift of Christmas is the celebration of love. Gather your family and friends together, celebrate the traditions that are most important to you and share in all the joys of this happy and beautiful season.



Jacquie Lawson Advent Calendar

If you’re looking for something new and different this year for your countdown to Christmas, we’ve found a truly wonderful Alpine Advent Calendar we think you’ll love! Stunning animations, seasonal stories or festive games are revealed daily, each one celebrating the magic of the holiday season. You even get your own cottage to decorate in the charming Alpine Village where all the activities take place. You can watch a demo of this modern twist on an old tradition, by visiting or you can find it and two other similar Advent calendars as well at

The London Advent Calendar and the Village Advent Calendar are both available for iPad and the latter has a Kindle Fire version as well.




Wishing You a Care-Free Day

Is someone you know missing the warm balmy days of summer already? If so, this
Care-Free Day” postcard, our pick of the week, might be just the thing to whisk them off to a happy mini-summer “getaway.”

It’s one of the many free postcards from that are so easy to send
or share in an email or as a post on Facebook.

You’ll find a large assortment of other postcards there as well, and if you’re looking for something a little different, you’ll find many styles of “just because” ecards that are
perfect for letting others know they’re in your thoughts today.



September 21, 2012: International Day of Peace and Gratitude

September 21, 2012 is notable because two organizations have ordained it as a date to celebrate the things that give rise to the best in humanity—our mission for world peace, and our sense of gratitude for all we have.

The International Day of Peace was established in 1981 by a resolution in the United Nations General Assembly.  Its hope is to see the world set aside its weapons of discontent and hostility and let peace reign, even if it’s just for a day.  An annual day of non-violence, a day of true peace is intended as an ideal—a way of reminding us to seek better solutions to the problems that confront us on every side, from environmental issues to those of human justice. 

This year a meeting in Rio de Janeiro will bring renewed commitment from all individuals and nations involved to increase their efforts to find sustainable peace for everyone on this planet, setting the stage for a secure future for all.

As Harry S. Truman once wrote, “It is understanding that gives us an ability to have peace.  When we understand the other fellow’s viewpoint, and he understands ours, then we can sit down and work out our differences.”

Concurrent to The International Day of Peace is World Gratitude Day.  World Gratitude Day was actually started in 1965 with the intention that we should become more aware of those things that inspire us to be grateful.  Its goal is to remind us of the importance of feeling and showing gratitude toward the people we love, the work we do, and the opportunities we have to fulfill our destinies. 

It’s good for us, states M. D. Babcock (noted 19th century American minister and writer),  to “be on the lookout for mercies.  The more we look for them, the more of them we will see…Better to lose count while naming your blessings than to lose your blessings to counting your troubles.” 

Let us count our blessings in all things then and let us come to the 21st of September with new intentions, with a desire to appreciate the people we love, to work for the good of all humankind, to seek peace and to give honest thanks for the things in life that make such a difference in the world. Let us come to the 21st of September and give thanks for the peace in our own neighborhoods…for our homes, our friends, and our families.



Rosh Hashanah–A Celebration of Beginnings!

“May you be inscribed for a good and sweet year!”  This greeting is one of the Mantra’s of Rosh Hashanah, which means “head of the year.”   This important holiday celebration brings the opportunity for believers to wipe the slate clean of all that has been and move on with the gifts of G-d’s grace and blessings.

Rosh Hashanah is all about relationships.  It marks the anniversary of the relationship G-d created with mankind through Adam and Eve, and the birth of His relationship with humanity.  It reverently shares the desire for all human beings to be blessed with another year, totally connected to the One who began the world as we know it.

At Synagogues around the world, the sound of the shofar will mark the first sin of man and the atonement for that sin.  The blast of the lamb’s horn may be heard on both days of Rosh Hashanah, clearly demonstrating the hope for the coming year.    Apples dipped in honey also symbolize the desires for a sweet year and the realization that all good things come from the King of Heaven.

It’s always exciting to begin again.  This year, as your Jewish friends come to the celebration of Rosh Hashanah, wish them well.  Extend the blessing for all good things and in some small way, become a part of the sweetness that a new year brings no matter what your faith background.    What could be more wonderful than coming back to your roots, remembering all that has gone before, and delighting in all that is yet to be?  Wherever you are today, may you receive a clean slate, a chance to take a fresh breath and start again.  May you celebrate the joys of a renewed spirit, trusting in the relationship you have with the G-d of all Creation.  Shalom!



Gratitude Comes In a Million Ways!

It’s been said that if we truly counted our blessings, we may never again have to think about our sorrows.  Counting blessings is like stacking up reasons to be grateful.  If we planted a flower, for instance, for every time we were conscious about our sense of gratitude, many of us would have an incredible garden to behold.  Some of us though, may look around and wonder why nothing ever seems to bloom.

Charles Dickens reminded us to “reflect upon our present blessings, of which everyone has many, not on our past misfortunes, of which everyone has some.”  Getting your gratitude garden to grow may be as simple as that, reflecting on your present blessings.  If you offer thanks for your family, your health, your work, your faith, or some other area of your life, you may find more seeds of joy than you expected.  You may have a million reasons to be thankful.

Has anyone done something nice for you in the past few days?  Have you shared your talents and your ideas with another?  Have you had a chance to shop for something new, walk peacefully along the road, undisturbed and quiet?  Have you been able to take a class, go to a movie, worship as you please?  If so, then today, you have delightful reasons to be grateful.

As we come to Gratitude Day, let’s open our hearts to all that we have and hold  closely those things that strengthen our lives and make the ride worthwhile.  When we think about it, we may discover we have an abundance of reasons to declare our joy right out loud.

If your list begins to run dry, remember all the people who are grateful today because they know You!  No doubt, they are offering thanks for wonderful you at this very moment!



Patriot Day 9/11

“On … Patriot Day, we remember and honor those who perished in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. We will not forget the events of that terrible morning nor will we forget how Americans responded in New York City, at the Pentagon, and in the skies over Pennsylvania — with heroism and selflessness; with compassion and courage; and with prayer and hope.”

~ Excerpt from a proclamation by President George W. Bush, 2002

On this day that many Americans refer to as 9/11 or September 11th, the flag of the United States of America should be displayed at half-mast on the homes and in the hearts of Americans. Nearly 3,000 people died in the surprise attacks and the economic impact was immense. The attacks have greatly increased attention to national security in the United States.

Patriot Day is a day to take a moment to thank the brave men and women of that fateful day, and of our everyday lives. It’s a special time to stop and say “thank you” to the police officers, fire fighters, EMT’s and military personnel who guard our communities and our nation. It’s a time to remember that the term “hero” applies to these everyday individuals, more so than to comic book characters, sports stars and entertainers.

It is also a day to display and salute our American flag, which represents the fabric of our country and our national character. The 13 alternating red and white horizontal stripes and 50 stars on the blue square are a symbol of our unity and our perseverance. On Patriot Day, we fly it at half mast to honor our country and those lost on this terrible day. Americans are strong. Americans are free. Americans have always come together for one another in times of great distress. President George W. Bush said it best, continuing the excerpt from above:

“Americans also have fought back against terror by choosing to overcome evil with good. By loving their neighbors as they would like to be loved, countless citizens have answered the call to help others. They have contributed to relief efforts, improved homeland security in their communities, and volunteered their time to aid those in need. This spirit of service continues to grow as thousands have joined the newly established USA Freedom Corps, committing themselves to changing America one heart at a time through the momentum of millions of acts of decency and kindness.”

Let us remember those we lost. Let us be diligent in keeping each other safe. Let us hold our families a little closer, and our friends a little bit more dear. And let us move forward into the future as a stronger, kinder and more aware nation.

Please take a moment now to remember those we lost that day, and God bless America.