I believe. I believe.
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“First, think. Second, dream.
Third, believe. And finally, dare.”

--Walt Disney

Happy Saturday, dear, NAME. This is my last love note to you in 2019. How is that even possible? The year has simply flown by for me - and I'm betting for you as well. With that said, I have this gut feeling that 2020 met at Dinneris going to be an amazing year.  Not just for me, but for my clients and loved ones as well.

If you've been around here for awhile, you know that I'm a big time planner. Spreadsheets, a tidy calendar, and neatly lettered to-do lists rule my world. 

And then I decided to do a (fairly) last minute trip to Disney World. Yep, I booked a three night trip less than 40 days in advance (which, in a world that demands dining reservations be made 6 months ahead of time and "fast passes" booked 60 days ahead of time is short notice).

I was initially going on my own. A few quiet days to explore the holiday decorations, to wander, and to think.

And that's what I did the first day.  But this is where it gets out of my own character: the rest of the days were fully by the seat of my pants. I met up with some girlfriends and rather than try to stick to any plans, I Castle Goodnessjust allowed things to happen. I didn't have to be in charge, I could simply follow. And make the occasional suggestion here and there.

It was a big reminder to me that while I need plans for the year ahead, I also need to make space for serendipity.

To think about what I need and desire. To make some plans to ensure they become priorities. There must be action taken: like writing these love notes and being all in for the work I want to create in the world.

And while action is enough, I need to be open to stepping back, having some fun, and remembering to not take everything so seriously.

This, my darling, is having faith that things are going to be alright. Taking that big old leap of faith and continuing to believe that this is the time to breathe life into your dreams.

While I know that resolutions don't always work for a variety of reasons, I do know that having faith in Cinderella Fountainyourself and believing that you can usher your desires into reality does. Yes, it may take some dedication and fortitude.

Heck, it may require you to become a very stubborn person. 

You must also dare to believe that you deserve your heart's desires. That what you dream about can be yours with love, and trust, and sometimes a little bit of pixie dust. Yes, that's the space for magic and serendipity to enter your life.

Because if you believe in the beauty of those dreams. And are willing to do the work - both working your plan and being open to being more nimble at times - you can create a year that propels you forward in so many ways.

So, tell me, darling: what do you dream about ushering into your life in 2020? What plans do you need to make? In what ways do you need to shore up your plans to kick off a new decade in Gingerbread House at The Grandstyle?

What can you do the capture the beauty in the ordinary moments? How might being open to serendipity help you enjoy your life even more?

How open is your mind to the possibilities? How willing is your heart to be even more open?

What can I do to help you find your threads of courage and love? How can I help you prepare a beautiful and spectacular beginning to 2020?

Remember that I'm just an email away. I love hearing your stories and helping you find the resources you need to create a life you love.

Here's wishing you a beautiful Christmas and a most joyous New Year. See you in 2020!

With so much love...........

PSS - I am taking ONE or Two new clients beginning January 15th. If coaching is on your list for 2020, feel free to  book a Discovery Session now and we can see if we're a good fit. If not, I am happy to refer you to other coaches I know.

From the blog:  Nine Ways to Recover After Dealing with a “Mean Girl” During the Holidays

I’ve always loved the holiday seasons. The call to peace, good will, kindness, and gratitude hit me smack dab in the middle of my heart. At times, I’m a bit of a Pollyanna and believe that if you treat others with warmth, it will be returned. Unfortunately, not everyone feels like I do. And while I do understand that the holidays can be stressful, what gets me is when the holiday gatherings are scattered with mean girls.

You know what I’m talking about. The office mates who make catty comments about what others are wearing at the office party. Or the sister-in-law that makes nice and then you catch her talking about you behind your back. (Or as once happened to me: unkind words were done straight to my face.)

It’s as if the call to peace on earth causes the mean girls to revolt!

Mean Girls

Though I know that good boundaries are important when it comes to dealing with less than lovely folks. And that it’s understandable that the stress of holiday demands can cause someone to be moody or just have a really bad day once in a while. That’s easily forgiven if you’ve had good interactions with these folks, right?

What startles my heart, though, are the folks that seem to go out of their way to be downright mean. You know who I mean: the gal in the office who belittles you in every meeting; the girl in your yoga class who makes snide comments about your lack of flexibility; or your husband’s sister, who uses every passive-aggressive trick in her book to make it abundantly clear that you are not welcome at family gatherings.

Whatever the relationship, the mean girls have the same message: you are unworthy, icky, cast-out, or meant to be overlooked. And what I can’t understand is why anyone – any adult – would expend so much energy to treat other people – other souls – as if they weren’t human.

While I know that we are responsible for our own feelings, dealing with a mean girl makes us feel empty, ugly, and sour. It makes us feel alone and unimportant.

And yet, as human beings we thrive on connection. Most of us also want people to like us. We enjoy being appreciated. To be reminded that even if we are loving and joyful in our own company, others treat us as if we matter to them. When people make us feel like less than we are, even if it’s from a distance, or the people doing it don’t know us terribly well, sometimes we buy into it. We get that sinking feeling in our stomachs and our Inner Critics gain power, asking those nagging questions: What’s wrong with meWhy don’t they see me for who I really amWhy don’t they LIKE me?

I would love to tell you that you can opt out of every holiday gathering if you need to. Because protecting yourself from dealing with the mean girls in the world is important. However, I know that you cannot avoid every gathering. And that sometimes, one of those mean girls is going to take you unaware.

What’s most important for me to share now, though, is how do you recover after an encounter with a mean girl?

First, let me assure you that I completely understand the urge to strike back at those who are hateful toward you. It’s incredibly tempting to identify their flaws and shout them to the world, or make catty posts about them in our Twitter feeds or on our Facebook pages.  No matter how much you think you want to do that – DON’T. Sure, it’ll give you momentary satisfaction, but all too soon,  you’ll feel guilty and end up flagellating yourself for either becoming a target, sinking to their level, or both. It’s not a cycle I want to be in, and I’m betting you don’t, either.

And, in all honest, this is an energetic way to feed the mean girl inside YOU.

One – Feel It

The first thing to do when you encounter a mean girl is to stop and breathe. Just step back from the situation, take a deep breath (or two) and allow yourself to assess your feelings. In addition to being disquieted, you may feel angry, awkward, disappointed, humiliated, or just out-and-out heartbroken. Whatever you’re feeling, though, don’t attach judgment to it, just feel it.

Allowing yourself to feel those emotions will prevent you from doing something self-sabotaging, like eating an entire pint of ice cream. Or an entire tray of those Christmas cookies.

Two – Phone a Friend

We all have our go-to people who love and accept us for who we are. So don’t be afraid to reach out to your support structure. While talking it out is usually the best way for me as an extrovert, I can also send a text or a quick Voxer message after dealing with a mean girl encounter. That’s what bathrooms are for at the holiday gatherings sometimes: a place to escape and reach out!

Now, this isn’t about gossiping which was not a good solution in middle school or adulthood. Or slipping into complaint after complaint. I’m not saying you should gossip. But talking it over with someone who loves you will soothe your heart.  And a really good friend (or coach) will be honest with you and tell you if you’re over-reacting or being sensitive.

Three – It’s Not About You so Change Your Shoes

In the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus Finch says, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view–until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”   Take Atticus’s advice, step out of your own shoes and step into the shoes the Mean Girl is wearing. Maybe your sister-in-law is envious of the sibling bond you share with your sisters, because he doesn’t have that and admires its beauty. Or maybe, just maybe, the gal in the office who constantly sticks it to you is actually insecure about her own performance and hopes that by making you look bad, she’ll look better. Maybe their meanness has nothing to do with you at all.

Insecurities and fears make many people do less-than-nice things. You simply trigger a negative response because of their past interactions with other people. If you step back and apply compassion and empathy to the situation, you can re-frame this person in your mind.    Of course, it may be a direct dig on you too—but that, too, may not be due to anything you did.  It may be something having to do with that person, her insecurities, pet peeves, or jealousies. It’s a hard one to accept, of course, but the problem is likely not you.

Four – Own Up to Your Contribution

If you had a falling-out with this person, ask yourself how you might have played a part in it.  It is rarely ALL someone else’s issue.  Your contribution may have been skewed or misinterpreted. You may have done something hurtful without realizing it.  You still may have had a role in the breakdown of communication or connection.  Think about it.  And if you discover you’ve had a role?  Write a note of apology or have a heart-to-heart over coffee.

Five – Count Your Blessings

Don’t let an encounter with a mean girl make you feel like no one likes you. Rather, take stock of the beautiful people in your world.

I feel fortunate to have so many lovely people in my life with whom I truly feel a sense of connection.  There are no false pretenses and time spent with them is easy.  We talk. We laugh. Let your mind linger on times like that when you are feeling “less than” and realize that there are people in your life who see you for the beautiful, amazing, interesting person you are and wouldn’t want to change a thing.

Six – Mentally Step Away

Perhaps at one point, you felt like you had a true connection and it somehow disappeared. But do you NEED this person to make you feel worthy? We can’t hand over so much power to one person such that she governs how we feel about ourselves. Look at all that you contribute to those around you.  Take ownership of the ways you positively affect those you care about both at home and outside of the home.  Pretty great, huh? This all remains true whether this one person in your life recognizes it or not.

Because at the end of the day, a person who makes you feel “less than” is toxic to your well-being and to your ability to shine in your own life.  Cut this mental anchor loose and move on with your life.

Seven – Focus on Feeling Nothing – Then Connect

I’m going to give you a visualization trick.  In these situations, Nothing will be defined as time where you allow your thoughts to simply flow around you without any attached emotions. The best example of this is to picture yourself as a boulder in a stream, and all the thoughts in your head are the water.  And Connection is exactly what it sounds like: fulfilling the desire of humans to connect with others of their species.

The boulder just is as the water flows around it. It’s a pretty peaceful existence to be that boulder. Now, the next time you are in this person’s presence, put yourself in Nothing mode for a moment and Connect. . This “nothing” space will allow you to perceive and understand this person more clearly, and you will find that doing this on a regular basis will bring you to a place where you just can’t help but fall a little bit in love with the person you are connecting to. The Nastiness will flow on by like the water and what will stick will be the pure stuff like compassion, kindness, and love. When you are in this Place of Peace, living with an open heart, it’s amazing what good will come into your life.

Eight – Speak Up

There is nothing wrong with a non-confrontational conversation. Ask this “mean girl” if there’s something you’ve done to contribute to her words or actions.   Go into the conversation with the intention of love, connection and understanding.  And if it’s a family member or co-worker, asking an authority figure to mediate the conversation is always an option.

Nine – Ignore It

Now, I know this is easier said than done. But if you’re dealing with a mean girl, her goal was probably to rattle you. Or make you feel less than. Hold your head up high.  Treat everyone in the area with as much love and enthusiasm as your heart can allow.  And refuse to fuel the beast.

While recovering from dealing with an encounter with a mean girl may feel tough, I know that you can do it.

It’s important to remember that what you put out in the world eventually returns to you. So, choosing to be kind, loving, and forgiving is always the best path forward. So, even if dealing with the mean girls at the holiday parties make you feel less than, remember to keep loving yourself. Because all that kindness, love, and forgiveness should be directed at yourself as well.

You can’t assume your rightful place in this world when you feel dragged down by someone else who doesn’t see you for the beautiful soul that you are. Besides, my dear, life is too short to focus on the ugliness in the world. Especially when there is so much beauty. Just continue to have faith.

For every year of my life that I can recall, I have had Black Eyed Peas on New Year's Day. We eat them in the South for Luck - so I wanted to make sure you my recipe for the best Black Eyed Peas I've ever made black eyed peason hand. Because we can all use a little love and luck in the coming year.

Before you go to bed, rinse a pound of dried black-eyed peas and place them in your crock-pot. Cover them with water and leave them overnight.

In the morning, drain and rinse the peas and place them back in the crock-pot. Add one diced yellow onion, 1 small can of diced tomatoes (or two if you prefer), 6 sliced (or pressed) cloves of garlic, ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, a dozen grinds of freshly ground black pepper, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and 3 bay leaves. Add 4 cups of vegetable or chicken stock (Kitchen Basics is my go-to). You may need to add a little bit more water until the beans are completely covered.

Put your crock-pot on low.

Then, take either a boneless pork loin chop or pork loin (about ¾ pound) and dice it into bite sized chunks. Heavily season it (salt, pepper, garlic, cumin). Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a skillet and sear the meat until it has a nice brown color. Add the contents of the entire skillet to the crock-pot (yes, including the olive oil). Cook on low for about 8 hours.

When the peas are done, remove about a cup of them and throw them in a blender or use your immersion blender to cream them. Add that back to the crock-pot and leave on low for another 20 minutes. This will make a huge difference to the quality, the overall creaminess, and depth of flavor. Remove the bay leaves before you serve!

You can always double the amount of meat you add to this if you know you want to serve it alone and want something heartier. You can make a meal on its own with the peas and some cornbread – another lucky food because it represents GOLD. For better cornbread, use buttermilk instead of plain milk.

Volume 9-Issue 26

December 21, 2019

Love Notes Published Every-Other-Saturday
Thank you, darling for the precious in-box space! 

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Hello from Debra

About Debra

Debra Smouse is a writer, life coach, and Tarnished Southern Belle who is on a mission to help people create a daily life that is loving and nourishing.

A native Texan, she resides in Ohio with the Man of her Dreams. Connect with her on social media:
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“No matter what age or stage we are, sometimes life just isn’t everything we want it to be. This course offers amazing insight into some of the many reasons why.

Deb Smouse has prepared an intensive program to help decipher the ways we can derail our own happiness, and, most importantly, lots of concrete tips and tricks for getting back on course to Finally Love Your Life.”

Becca Rowan, Author

a year of support

Make 2020
YOUR Year with
a Year of Support

My most popular coaching package as it allows us to spend 12 months together. We build trust and get to know each other intimately.

This allows you go go as wide - or deep - as your stage of life demands.

You choose the number of sessions that fit your lifestyle (and budget) and we’ll create an amazing year together for a life you love.

Learn More  or


Gotten More Courageous 

Finally Love Your Life is an authentic and deep yet practical and fun program all wrapped up into one.  Debra’s extensive knowledge coupled with her emotive writing and ginormous heart provide the tools, support and space to explore and discover, evaluate and play. 

As a result of class, I was able to dig in and shift some major challenges that were keeping me stuck in annoying and frustrating patterns.

I also realized how little time I was devoting to having FUN and making time for simple pleasures.  With these insights and some easy changes, I have grown, gotten more courageous and have way more delight and joy in my life.

Michelle Reinhardt
Harnessing the Magic of Winter Solstice as a Path to Loving Your Life

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the Blog

As I’ve aged, I’ve learned that my childhood view of magic has allowed me to harness the belief that there is magic to be found all around us. When I chose to begin living a more conscious life, I found traces of magic in the everyday.

READ ==> Harnessing the Magic of Winter Solstice as a Path to Loving Your Life


I would just like to state for the record that Debra Smouse is a genius and an awesome listener, to boot.

In one phone conversation with her, I was able to verbalize, and thus realize, something that had been on the tip of my brain for weeks.  Her simple way of listening and asking led to a proverbial light bulb moment that has stayed with me for days and has helped open up new, clearer avenues of thought and feeling.

~Brandi Lee, Photographer, Small Business Owner

Reduce Holiday Stress

Also in the Blog

Although the holidays are filled with togetherness, joy, and love; this time of year can become chaotic and downright stressful. Remaining calm and grounded is imperative to be happy and healthy during the holidays. 

Click here to read==> How to Reduce Holiday Stress and Stay Grounded

Facing Teeny Cracks of Vulnerability

But the rest, the rest being with Deb’s counsel, has been an interesting, innovating, expanding chapter in my life as a woman, a spouse, a creative artist. My spouse and I have always had what I considered an excellent life together – I did not anticipate an even better and the more intimate relationship that we now find ourselves living into every day. I’m no slouch in the confidence category but Deb has helped me face those teeny cracks of vulnerability that I sheltered, having helped me prosper mentally and physically at this stage of my life. My creative aspirations are blooming with no end in sight – LOTS more growth ahead for me.

I highly recommend a course with Deb or what she might call a non-course – that’s the arrangement we have now. Personal coaching on a regular basis – touching base on one’s own hiccups, one’s own dimension of daily life, whether it’s exercise, creative habits and/or reaching the next plateau or higher in all of the newness that still continues to unfold for me. I highly recommend Deb’s methods and courses! You won’t be sorry you signed on with Deb as your super-person sidekick!

Dianna Woolley, Abstract Artist

Love Yourself & Track Your Goals

I believe that if you were to really get to know all the sides of someone, you couldn’t help but fall in love with them.

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Purchase here.


Debra.  Your blogs and columns and coaching advice always seem supportive and like they’re coming from a place of love.

~Melissa Bartell, Word Ninja.  Bathtub Mermaid

Your response to fear

From the Archives

Each of us has an instinctive reaction to perceived danger. Physiologists call this the flight-fight-or-freeze response. Here’s how to recognize the manifestations of your own response to fear, stress, and challenges.

Read ==> Stressing Out? Here’s How to Understand Your Response to Fear and How to Deal

Finally Love Your Life

I thought this was an extremely beneficial and well thought out class. The information was delivered in such a manner that there was no way I could “cheat” myself out of delving into the subject matter.

 Some days I was in the mood to listen to the audio, others, I enjoyed reading and rereading. The worksheets were key as they helped me transition what I was reading into personalized knowledge of myself and an action plan.

I appreciated the real guidance and suggestions that were given. For example, Debra didn’t just say it is important to rest, she gave real examples of what rest looked like to her, and in turn, helped me think of ways I could put it into practice. It is a very interactive class and in each module I experienced at least one aha moment.

We are all in different phases of life, so certain modules will appeal more or less depending upon where you are at.

I would highly recommend this course.

Years ago someone told me, “You would never drive a car without putting in gas, getting the oil changed, replacing the fluids, why on earth would you go through life without mental and physical checkups.”

This class is a great way to get the mental oil changed. I feel ready to go another 50,000 miles.

Jeanette McGurk
Writer & Artist
Copyright © 2019 Debra Smouse - Create a Life You Love, All rights reserved.

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