Wednesday Wellness: Planning Ahead for the Holidays and Gift-Giving

Happy Wednesday Wellness, Friends! I started writing about wellness as I noted that so many of my friends and creatives struggle with balance, as do I.  Join me on my wellness journey!

I haven’t always liked to plan. I’d been spontaneous all my life, until becoming a mom.  Then I started seeing the value of planning, researching and mapping out. I discovered the crafty stickering planning community. I still love the shiny sparkles of whatever whims, though, and the stickers really help!  (Read more about my planning here.) Yes, organized chaos is a too a thing.

I just dusted off my 12 year historical gift giving spreadsheet, as I do every September.  I review the prior year for completeness, copy and paste a new year, and clear the contents.  I also add any new recipients, and sadly, hide anyone necessary. I don’t actually delete anyone, I just hide the row.  I may need to check what I got beloved Aunt Barbara before she passed away, as it may be a good idea for somebody else in the future. I also study last years budget vs. spend.  If I spent less for somebody, maybe that’s my new budget.  If I spent more on somebody, maybe that’s my new budget!  My niece became a teen this year, so her new budget is now the same as her older brother.  See?

This is a gift-giving list, reference, and budget, all in one. My own family has a ton of birthdays September through January, so I track those here, too. Many times as my own children approached certain ages, I’d scroll back and look at what I got my godson when he turned 12, for instance. Or, where did I get that musical teapot that all two year old girls seem to love?  Scroll back- and I see the store and the price.  Have I already given so-and-so my favorite book?  Scroll back to that year I gave most everybody the same book… oh look, so-and-so wasn’t on my list yet at that time.   See what I mean? Super helpful.

Here is a snapshot of a clean year.  I started on Excel, but I moved it to Google Sheets last year.  (I blacked out my budget so that my dear family members won’t see what I’ve budgeted for them.) But you can see from this template what I’m doing.  Many of my family members have two entries for their two occasions.  So I start shopping in September, and spread my shopping budget over ten paychecks (through January).

Pro-Tip: Enter your spouse and children’s gifts in white font, so they won’t see it on the printout.


Nota Bene: Creative Gifts. Two years ago I made necklaces for my best friends and sweet cousins. So last year I made a different kind of necklace for them.  Earlier this year, my daughter and I made her a memory quilt using her favorite t shirts that she had outgrown.


We made this Memory Quilt together!

As my godson approaches college age, its something I’d consider doing for him.  But I may outsource such a big project.  This may change my budget.  Or, I may bookmark that for his Graduation. I’m learning how to knit, maybe I will knit scarves and give some out as gifts!  Oh hey, I WROTE A BOOK THIS YEAR! maybe I can give somebody on my list a copy of my book.   (Maybe I can afford to outsource that quilt after all.)

I hope you enjoyed learning about my planning tool.  Let me know if you try it this gift-giving season!

How do YOU organize your shopping?




Wednesday Wellness: Rebalance

Hi, Friends!

I started writing about wellness topics on Wednesdays, because I noted that so many of my creative friends struggle with wellness, as do I.  Join me on my journey as I muse and make mistakes.  And some discoveries along the way.

It has been a while since I posted on Wellness.  I worked really hard on completing my book and launching it.  The soft launch and book tour went really well. And then I got a little overwhelmed.

Which means I need to practice some self-care.

Sometimes the best thing I can do for myself is to NOT write a blog post.  It sounds counter-productive, but it’s true.

Sometimes the best thing I can do for myself is to Not Eat That Cookie. But sometimes, the best thing I can do for myself is to Just Eat It, Already. Sometimes I need to crank up the 90s angsty music and sing along, but not if it’s going to make me grumpy the rest of the day.  Sometimes I need to watch TV with my husband, but not if it will keep me up past my bedtime.  Sometimes I need to skip going to Mass, and instead take a long drive to go see the Harp Twins perform live in concert. You get it.

Sometimes it is time to rebalance.  You know how you should look at your 401k allotments once a year to see if you need to rebalance. Anyone?  Well, sometimes you need to do that in your life, too.

I have just discovered creative planning.  I happened upon this subculture of crafty planners on instagram and on Facebook.  Now my readers know, I am an INFP and I had always preferred spontaneity to planning, until becoming a working mom.  Then I discovered the value of Plan, to have Fun!

I used to scrapbook, and I also do collage journals.  I am currently using the Leonie Dawson Shining Year planner– which I think is really fantastic for planning goals and achieving dreams.  Imagine my delight when I happened upon a planner community that uses creative embellishments in their planners!  TA-DAH! And a choir of angels sang.  Or, Ewoks.  Allelu- Ta-Dah! Yub! Yub! (original release, people!)

As I looked at my weekly spread for this week, and I noted that all the entries were for my kids ‘  activities.  It’s softball season, and there’s also band practice, drum lessons, 3rd Grade Musical, mentor sessions. It’s a lot to coordinate. And don’t get me wrong, I love it.  But sometimes seeing it all written out like that, makes it painfully obvious.  I need some Me Time.


So I am going to see my favorite massage therapist during my lunch, today.  And maybe pick up some Kombucha on the way back to the office.

What are YOU doing for yourself?

Happy Mother’s Day!


Friday Friends: Have you met all my Friends?

Today on Friday Friends I am posting links to all previous Friday Friends posts.  Come back and visit with these wonderful friends!  

Artist Sarah Leonard creates amazing illustrative art and leads art courses.

Author and Publishing coach Angie Mrozcka has fascinating insights.

Blogger and Pinner Debbie Dwyer Visovsky is fabulous fun!

Interview with Author Jamie White

Writing and Publishing Group Kosa Press is so inspiring.

Interview with Author Cee Streetlights

Book Spotlight for Author Vicki Lesage

Interview with Author and Coach Reba Linker

Interview with Book Manager Extraordinaire Melissa Flickinger

Interview with Author Kelly Wilson

Spotlight on Author M. Kate Allen

Guest Post by Author and Editor Valerie Estelle Frankel

Chattin’ with Author and Writing Instructor Dana Leipold

Interview with Author C. P. Bialois

Interview with Author and Entrepreneur Coach Kris Oster

I have really enjoyed introducing you to all my friends!   I am booking more of my friends for Fridays coming up.  Stay tuned!





Friday Friends: Jamie White

Happy Friday, Friends!  Today I am happy to spotlight author Jamie L White.  I met Jamie in an online writer’s group and we share a love of 80’s music.   I invited her to participate in my Friday Friends Series and she was kind enough to fit our little interview into her very busy November schedule!  Without further adieu, Here’s Jamie!


1. How has one of your projects turned out differently than you anticipated?

Funny enough, this happened with the one book I outlined. LOL. I did this for LEARNING ME (which I wrote during NaNo last year and will be out November 30th). I don’t want to give too much details (::RiverSong Voice:: Spoilers…), but out of nowhere, a character revealed themselves to be evil. I was not planning for that, and it ended up changing the rest of my outline. Needless to say, I am pansting the third right now.

2. What are some ways you keep writing? Do you have to make arrangements for anything in advance?

It can be hard sometimes, but usually when I need to settle in and get work done, some music or a long walk will help get me in the groove. I’ll put headphones on, and sing along with my writing playlist to get myself in the mood, or put on some meditations while I walk. I also keep a crystal kit nearby for inspiration.

3. What new release (book, movie, television) are you met looking forward to?

For books? Christopher Pike’s STRANGE GIRL. He’s one of my writing idols and I can’t wait to see what he’s done with this one. It sounds amazing. I am not really looking forward to any new shows premiering, but I can’t wait for the new seasons of The Americans and Salem to start. Movies? Not a huge fan for the most park. All the remakes are making me nuts.

4. What are you up to? Right now, I am writing the third book of my Lightworker Trilogy, called REBUILDING ME for NaNo2015. I’m also preparing the release of #1, promoting my other books, and trying to stay sane. LOL.

imageJamie White is an author, blogger, music geek, and paranormal junkie who moonlights as a pet servant. When she’s not writing, she takes pictures, meditates, and practices Reiki and chanting.

Jamie’s Amazon Page