Tenderness and Kindness. Always and always.
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Tenderness and kindness
are not signs of weakness and despair,
but manifestations
of strength and resolutions.”

--Kahlil Gibran

Good morning <<Name>>. I have to admit that I'm feeling lucky this week. Maybe because we had several days where, in  the words of Goldilocks, felt "just right". And, on Monday, as I was heading out to do some errands, I stopped by Starbucks to grab a coffee.

Much to my surprise (and delight) the gentleman in front of me had picked up the tab for me. I've heard about this "paying it forward" thing and have even done it a few times, but this was the first time I had been gifted with such a kind gesture.

And yes, I immediately paid it forward and treated the lady behind me.  I wonder how long that went on?

One of the spring phenomenons that just fascinates me: goose nesting. I had my first sighting on Wednesday morning, in the parking lot not too far from Kroger. Though I readily shoo any geese that try to nest in our yard (they can be quite mean), I can't help but be awed at the optimistic approach to finding a perfect spot the geese seem to take. 

While I sometimes question the intelligence of of middle-of-the-parking-lot choices, in all kinds of nooks and crannies and little islands of grass, you'll find geese settling in. I know that part of it is instinct: they return to the same spot year after year, generation after generation as if there's a homing beacon tied to that geographic location.

Birds in general both fascinate me and make me smile. There's something so happy and life affirming to hear the cooing, tweeting, honking and quacking. All of the songbirds are showing off and we've seen some beautiful birds come enforce this week.

We avidly watch the family of blue birds that move into our neighbor's bird house. We see the parents flying back and forth when the babies are small - and then watch as the babies learn to fly later in the summer.

Now, there was a pair of robins that smacked into the glass on front door, but luckily they weren't hurt (though they did leave some feathers behind). 

My favorite sighting this week, though, was when a mourning dove sat on my kitchen window sill cooing at me. That felt like magic and this sacred moment of connection between us.

When I have a moment like that - one that is intimate and feels special - I always take a moment to look up the meaning of the "messenger" (my go to book is one called Animal Speak by Ted Andrews) The primary symbolism of the Dove is that of patience and tenderness.Their voice along with the soft hue of their bodies, and the tender glow of their eyes – all lead to thoughts of softness, tenderness and symbols of love.

I'm all about those symbols: patience, tenderness and love. Of course, the person I need to be most patient with usually is myself. And it did come at just the perfect time, when I was feeling a bit frustrated with my writing this week.

As we open the windows of our hearts to April, know that I am ever grateful that you are here....and sending you so much love. Here's to the silly (and brave) geese in all of us.  Because, honestly, don't we all need a lot more silliness and courage in our lives?

What about you?  What fascinates you? Do you connect to animal spirits as messengers? Do you think there are clues there as to what direction you should be going?

Are you able to offer yourself patience, tenderness and love? What about kindness? Can you pay it forward this coming week in some way?  What one thing can you get done this weekend that will make you happy and proud?

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.

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

PS - What can I do to help?  I have a couple of spots available for one-on-one coaching this spring. Feel free to drop me an email or schedule a quick chat

From the blog: If You’ve Fallen Down the Rabbit Hole: 17 Ways to Climb Out

My darling, let me set a scene for you:  There you are, happily bopping along to the beat of your own drum.  Your life isn’t perfect, but you love it. Then –  BAM! Some seemingly tiny event or encounter triggers something in your deeper memory. And, just like poor Alice, you’ve fallen down the rabbit hole.

What does it mean to have fallen down the rabbit hole?

The rabbit hole is an allusion for tumbling into a world that isn’t your own. It stems from the Lewis Carrol Books about Alice, the most popular being Alice in Wonderland. For me, personally, I know that though I’ve done a lot of work to heal my past. Sometimes, something can trigger a deeper memory or emotion. And rather than acting from a place of empowerment, I slip into old, sometime destructive, habits.

So, falling down the rabbit hole is that time when you find yourself suddenly falling head-first into the abyss of another world, the “old” world you vacated ages ago. The one where you were always “should-ing” all over the place, focusing on the negatives and listening to the voice of your inner critic.

It happens to all of us, darling, so let me give you some help with getting back on track and loving your life.  And, baby, there are two stages to this:  the immediate and then the follow up.

The Immediate Things To Do When You Fall Down the Rabbit Hole

The moment you realize you’ve fallen down the rabbit hole, try some (or all) of these ten things to slow your decent into the abyss and begin working your way back out. I see these acts a a form of triage

Don’t Think.

Your mind will convince you that you need to “solve” the problem and logic your way out of the rabbit hole, but all that thinking (and over thinking) is what caused you to stumble into that hole in the first place.


Breathe in, breathe out.  In through the nose. Release the breath from your mouth.

Identify It. Feel It.

Take the time to identify how you feel, especially those shadow emotions.  I’m talking about anger, sadness, fear, resentment, shame. Identify them. Acknowledge them.  And then, baby, allow yourself to feel them.

Reach Out. Talk it Out.

Call your best friend.  Not the acquaintance that’s going to remind you how lucky you are, how perfect your life is, or will change the subject back around to her. This is when you call the friend that is willing to bear witness to the ugliest of emotions, the one who will listen to the ramblings and make sense of the words between the tears, the one who will answer the phone at four in the morning if that’s when you need to talk.

Call a Pro.

Call your therapist and ask to be put on the cancellation list.  Email your coach and ask for an emergency session. If you don’t have a coach, ask for a one-time session with a coach you connect with.  I know I’m not the only coach that does emergency “talk me off the ledge” type calls and/ or a single session.  They will help hold a sacred place for you as you work through the rough stuff.

Stop it. Put it Down.

The last time I fell down the rabbit hole, my coach repeated to me (over and over again) to Put the Weapons Down.  That whip I was flagellating myself with? Put it down. The voice of my inner critic that was telling me I should know better?  Stop.


Go to bed early.  Lay down in the middle of the afternoon. Sleep in if you can. Rest heals.

Do the Bare Minimum.

I’m talking the very bare minimum:  get everyone to work or school. Fix your favorite beverage (water, tea, milk).  Eat.  This isn’t a day to diet, force yourself to work or clean, or anything of the sort. Comfort foods are the thing:  peanut butter and jelly, macaroni and cheese, scrambled eggs and toast…. You get the picture, right?

Be Who You Are.

Extrovert? Don’t be a hermit: get out amongst people. Go to Starbucks and people watch.  Go out to lunch by yourself and soak in the atmosphere. You don’t have to interact with people in order for your feed your need to be around others.

Introvert?  Don’t force yourself out into the world. Stay home (or in your office) Get a blanket and curl up on the couch. Make a collage.  Read a book.

Go Overboard.

No, don’t go overboard in the pursuit of your debilitating thoughts.   Go overboard with extreme gentleness and care around yourself. Take a long bath.  Go get your nails done. Reschedule appointments for the next few days if possible.

There will be follow-up after you’ve fallen down the rabbit hole for recovery.

Darling, whether it’s the next day or the next week, when you’ve climbed back to the top of the rabbit hole look to these seven tips for falling back in love with your life.

Begin with Forgiveness

When you’ve fallen down the rabbit hole, it often means your inner critic beats you up for all the things you should have done better or differently. So, forgive yourself for tripping and falling. If you’ve lashed out at others, extend yourself some compassion. And, if you’ve withdrawn from all things social and become a hermit, forgive yourself for that as well.

Ease In

Remember going overboard in the care around yourself? Don’t push yourself to run full-tilt into life again.  Ease back into your regular schedule.


Did you snap at your partner? Flake out on a party you said you’d attend? Turn your phone off for days and ignore all your calls? Apologize, darling.  It’s as simple as “I had a really rough day and I may have taken it out on you. I’m sorry and I love you.”

Clear Some Clutter

Spend some time clearing your spaces. Completely clear your nightstand.  Clean off your kitchen counters. Remove every stray piece of paper from the living room.  Clear and clean spaces will help you think again.

Clean Up Your Diet

Do some seriously clean eating taking your meals down to whole ingredients.  Whole grains, lean meats and wild fish, lots of greens, fresh fruits… you get the picture, right? Nothing processed. Cut down on the caffeine.  Reduce your alcohol intake. Drink lots of water.

Get Some Help

Reach back out to your therapist or coach and schedule a session. It’s important to get loving support as you go into recovery mode.  Why? Because it can be incredibly easy to begin beating yourself up because you “should know better”.  Your coach or therapist can help you get a game plan, restructure some goals, and reframe your trip down the rabbit hole.

Dive into Self-Inquiry by Asking Yourself Questions

We often avoid those probing questions when we’ve taken a tumble down the rabbit hole. Or else, have obsessed over non-productive questions. The first question to ask is what was the trigger that led to this little trip? Follow that up with questions like: what did I learn and how can I catch myself before I fall the next time? Don’t be afraid to ask what you’re really needing or desiring. Or what goals might you be ignoring or neglecting. (That’s why I’ve included dozens of questions in the welcome packet of Become Besotted)

Darling, you are human.  Sometimes, you just have a bad day.  And, let me tell you, honey, having a bad day doesn’t mean that you’re not on the right track for your life.   It’s often a sign that you are growing and evolving to a whole new level of being.  You see, when you plant the seeds of growth, the first thing to come up is the dirt.

Using these tools won’t wave a magic wand over every bad day and make them disappear, but what they will do is armor your soul  and get back in the swing of your life.  It won’t be long before you know to the depths of your soul that you’re head over heels in love with your life.

Self-Inquiry & Love Can Help When You’ve Fall Down the Rabbit Hole Join me in Become Besotted and write a love letter to yourself every month!
This week, I wanted to share another go-to recipe: Grilled Mahi Mahi with Pan-Roasted Corn Salsa with Black Beans.  For many of us, the arrival of spring signals breaking out the grill!  Though I'm a big fan of baked fish, I have to admit that I do love grilled fish.  There are two ways to keep fish intact as you grill it.  One, buy one of those grilling baskets or Two, buy some of that non-stick foil.  That's my go-to because I hate cleaning the grill. And I use the baskets for the times I want that grilled crust to the outer layer.

Though I usually keep the skin on most fish, Mahi Mahi is the exception to that for me. So, I ask the seafood guy to pre-skin it for me.

Create a foil pouch for your fish.  Take a single sheet of non-stick foil and place two 6-oz mahi mahi fillets on the non-stick side.  Generously brush your favorite BBQ sauce on each side of the  fish. Then slice a lime in half. Set aside one half of the lime and then cut the other half of the lime into rounds. Place these rounds on top of the fish.

Now place a 2nd piece of foil (non-stick side down) on top and then crease together to form an envelope.  This will keep the steam inside the foil pouch. And the limes will add some humidity to keep the fish from drying out, too.

Place on hot grill and set your timer for 20 minutes.

While your fish is cooking,  drain, rinse, and warm a can of black beans.  IN a large skillet, melt 1 tbsp butter in a large pan.  Add 1/2 cup finely diced onion, 1/2 cup finely diced red bell pepper, and 1/2 cup finely diced green bell pepper. Then add 1 cup of corn (frozen this time of year) and saute.  Add 2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp salt, and a dozen or so grinds of fresh pepper. Remove from heat while corn is cooked but still firm. Add 2 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice and toss to blend.

(Sometimes I double the corn salsa because it's good as an appetizer with tortilla chips!)

To serve, place a mound of the black beans in the center of each plate, add one of your mahi mahi fillets and top with  corn salsa.( For pizazz or to impress company, place three tortilla chips on the top of each fillet -or fresh cilantro!)

If you want to kill 2 meals with one time of cooking, you can double the fish and have Grilled Fish Tacos for another dinner the next day. 

Simply toss a 2nd pouch of mahi mahi on the grill. (You don't want your foil pouches to be too full, so no more than 2 filets per pouch. ) Refrigerate the extra fish as well as the leftover corn salsa.   Then, all you'll need to do is slice the mahi mahi (or allow it to flake apart), put in soft corn or flour tortillas, and top with corn salsa, fresh tomatoes, and maybe some slice avocado.

Volume 9--Issue 05

March 02, 2019

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

See something you'd love to share?  I'd be honored if you forwarded this along to a friend.

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:
Instagram | Facebook Twitter.

Unbelievable Difference

Working with Deb for just a few months has made an unbelievable difference in my life.

With her encouragement, I made major progress on clearing the clutter in my physical life as well as in my emotional life, which paved the way toward creating a new vision for the life I want to live now.

Deb has an easy conversational style, rational down-to earth wisdom, and a warm sense of humor.

She got right to the heart of the things holding me back from living my best life, and has given me sound principles and practices I can carry forward into the future.

For the first time in a long time I feel excited about my life, and I have Deb to thank for that!

-Becca Rowan, Author

A Year of Support & Accountability

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 Schedule a Call to see if we are a good fit.

Love & Affection

In a day and age where relationships are flat and a true connection to each other is a rare gem to be found, Debra’s genuine enthusiasm for life fuels your coaching experience. An ever-faithful ally and pillar of evolving ideas,

Debra approaches her clients with an intuitive ear, a foundation of love and sincerity, sprinkled with a touch of humor.

Elizabeth Rago
Modern Domestic Woman

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.

What if YOU were that person?

Become Besotted. With Yourself. With Your Life.

Become Besotted will assist you in writing your story, a month at a time. An opportunity to get to know all sides of yourself and fall in love.

Become Besotted will also help you explore your dreams and desires. It will serve you in monitoring your victories and shedding what isn’t serving you.

You receive an in-depth questionnaire and 12 months to unfold your story and fall in love...

Purchase here.

A Joy

Working with Debra is a joy.

She inspires me, she supports me, and she gives me direction so I can identify my needs and my wants. But she doesn’t stop there. Not only does she assist me in laying the foundation, but she gives me the tools to actually achieve the life I desire. This is an ongoing process, not a quick fix. And it takes practice.

If I veer off my intended path, Debra has given me the structure, along with the tools to get back on track. Since working with Debra, my life flows more smoothly, I know where I’m heading and I know how to get there.

I feel better about myself and my life. I look forward to each day as an adventure!

–Susan Mushkin

Also in the Blog

Isn't it time you stopped playing the "what's for dinner" game?

Meal planning helps you reduce stress.

Click here to read==> Meal Planning Reduces Stress and Helps You Achieve Your Goals


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

Over at YourTango

Feeling Burned Out?

First up, darling, you need to know that there is nothing wrong with you. You are not a wimp. You are not undisciplined. Feeling overwhelmed isn’t a sign from the universe that you’re missing some magic ability to handle whatever life throws at you.The truth of the matter is this: you have too much on your plate.

Read the article at YourTango and Learn 5 ways to reduce burnout and 7 habits to keep you from getting burned out again

Renewed Sense of Purpose

She has helped me to get and stay focused, hold me accountable in a manner that was effective and beneficial to me and my life. In addition, she gave me great insights into how I can get much more balanced as well as how I can handle delicate situations in my life. I walk away from our sessions with a renewed sense of purpose and focus in all aspects of my life. She is tough when I need her to be tough, yet supportive at the same time. She instinctively knows what I need.

I was hesitant to have a woman coach me. I went with my instincts and I am glad that I did. Debra is a true professional that is dedicated to her client’s success. I should know, I have been coaching people and developing people for the last 25 plus years. I would highly recommend her if you want to gain more from all aspects of your life.

~Michael Ehrler, Business Coach

Also from the Blog

HOW to love your life again when things go a little crazy or sideways.

Read ==> How to Stop Feeling Burned Out and Love Your Life Again

So Much Love

Enlisting Deb's coaching services has been one of the best decisions I've ever made. She is truly an expert de-tangler. I started out with a "Declutter" course at the recommendation of a fellow writer, and as soon as she began offering Make Your Inner Sex Kitten Roar, I was intrigued. I appreciate her honesty, encouragement and her openness. She has a way of seeing things that you can't see for yourself and is a whiz at breaking bigger dreams into manageable chunks that will get you to where you want to be faster than you thought possible.
I had a very tough few years and have been wanting to get my "oomph" back. Well, with Deb's help, I've found it again! My husband agrees with my assessment and has seen a noticeable change in me since working with Deb. To quote him, "I don't care how much it costs, keep working with her, because it's working!"

Rachel B. Kain, Writer & So Much More
Copyright © 2019 Debra Smouse - Create a Life You Love, All rights reserved.

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