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“At any moment, you have a choice,
that either leads you closer
to your spirit
or further away from it.


Thich Nhat Hanh


As I write to you, dear <<Name>>, I am sipping a fresh cup of coffee and pondering what I want to tell you. JB and I had a very simple Thanksgiving. I cooked a turkey breast, made some mashed potatoes, and a beautiful salad.  And though I made a chocolate pie for dessert, we were both too full to even have a slice.

Today (on Friday), we enjoyed leftovers with the all time favorite way to use leftover turkey: on a sandwich!

We are doing very light holiday decorating this year. JB still has some work travel this coming month. And as much as I love decking the halls, we are seeking a little more simplicity this year.

So, to be honest, I started to hold off on sending you this little love note.  Because, I'm guessing, if you email box is anything like mine, I know it's full of BLACK FRIDAY sales and such. I hate adding to the clutter and noise.

I've deleted (without reading) at least 105 emails today (Friday) from places I've shopped or email lists I've signed up for at sometime in the last decade. I finally unsubscribed from a couple of places after realizing I had gotten in excess of 5 emails from them since midnight.

This Black Friday and other shopping nonsense has gotten a bit out of hand. Look, I like a bargain as much as the next gal. But this feels...grabby, greedy, and needy.  I mean, did the the pizza place need to send me a "Black Friday" email?

SO. Much.Email and noise, right?  So, I'm keeping this love note as short as possible and instead of sharing big lessons I'm learning (there's always space for learning new lessons) I decided to just cut to the chase and tell you about two things.

One - I'm offering the Advent Series again this year.

It begins on Sunday, December 2nd.  Like last year, it's going to be a community gift - aka FREE  - for anyone that would like a little love and inspiration as we move towards Christmas (and the New Year.)

I've also asked several author friends to join in this year. So, in addition to a weekly lesson to help you look at what Hope, Preparation, Joy and Love can offer you this season,  you'll also receive an opportunity to be nourished by the wisdom and voices of others. (Guest authors include:  Andi Cumbo-Floyd, Becca Rowan, Jenn McRobbie, Karen Milito, Kayce Hughlett, Melissa Bartell, Molly Totoro, and Theresa Reed )
If you want to sign up, go here:

If you join in, you'll receive a daily email beginning December 2nd giving you an opportunity to say Goodbye to 2018 and HELLO, Beautiful to 2019.

Two - Are you looking to 2019?

This has been an intense year.  And though a New Year isn't magic, it can be seen in that light. I sent out the  "Word of the Year" book to help you move into 2019 and it should have arrived on Monday, November 19th.  If you didn't see it, check your SPAM folder (or view "Past Issues" to see the archives which should include that email).

And honestly, darling: that's it!  No need to add more fluff and stuff to your inbox!

And on that note,  I think I'm going to go grab a slice of that chocolate pie for a little afternoon pick-me-up.

Though I'm not visiting your in-box each week  know 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 -I have space in my calendar for two new clients beginning in December.  If you're curious about coaching, just reply to this little love note.

From the blog: Ten Strategies For Gaining Mental Clarity When You Feel Overwhelmed.    If there’s one thing I understand, my dear? It’s how quickly I can go from feeling on top of my to do list and super productive to feeling overwhelmed thanks to thousands of swirling thoughts. That doesn’t happen as often as it used to thanks to all the ways I know to help me with gaining mental clarity.

The thing is, darling, that no matter how well we learn to manage the ups and downs of life, there will be moments in time where life feels out of control. Of course, we all know that our thoughts create our reality. Yet, knowing that and being able to step back from how my own brain clutter does a number on my stress levels? Those are two different things.

That’s why relying upon tools to help us bust through the challenges? And rein in our thoughts? Oh, darling, that is worth it’s weight in gold!

Here are ten of my favorite strategies for gaining mental clarity.

One – A “brain dump” is sure to help with gaining mental clarity.

A brain dump is exactly what it sounds like. Grab a stack of note cards (or a blank sheet of paper), set a timer for five minutes, and write down every single thought that’s swirling around in your brain. This isn’t about writing a to-do list. Oh no, darling, it’s about gaining clarity around what’s plaguing you.

Write down every thought that comes in your head. Just put one thought per index card and keep on going. This isn’t the time to be organized or analyze, it’s just about emptying your head of all the thoughts colliding around!  WRITE until the timer goes off OR your mind goes blank.

Seriously.  The fastest way to gaining mental clarity is to get it out of your head and onto paper. Writing them down will help you to prioritize what’s most important, which will make you feel less stressed.

Two – Make your to-do list after your brain dump.

Now, that you’ve cleared the swirling thoughts? Now you make a to do list! If you’ve feeling stressed out, it’s likely because you have a lot on your plate. Though a to-do-list can feel more overwhelming, making a powerful to do list from a place of clearer thinking will help you in gaining mental clarity.

This gives you a space to managing those feelings, reign them in, and apply some good old logic to what you need to get done.

Three – Gain mental clarity by turning your “shoulds” into “choose to”.

Anything that smacks of “I should want” or “I’m expected to” gets crossed off your priority list. I can see that you’re rolling your eyes. Or wanting to tell me you have to bake six dozen cupcakes for the PTA bake-sale. And make meals for your parents. And attend that after-work happy hour for networking purposes.

Darling, you don’t have to do any of these things. However, if you feel you must do these things, shift the semantics of your language. Remind yourself that you are doing each of these things out of choice, not obligation. This shift in your thinking can help you gain immense mental clarity. Because this is the moment in which you remember that you are in control of your life.

Talk about gaining mental clarity and reclaiming your power!

Four – Getting clear on those bigger things can help you with gaining mental clarity.

Darling, what do you want? What do you NOT want? Look at the big stuff that surfaces when you clear your mind. For example, when I moved to Ohio to merge my life with John?  I had to take a hard look at my career because there was one big thing I didn’t want anymore: I didn’t want to life out of a suitcase.

One of the reasons we begin to feel overwhelmed by our minds? And the ways in which we can’t seem to gain traction on gaining mental clarity? It’s because we worry about the small stuff and neglect our big goals. Seeing where those bigger goals find their ways into those swirling thoughts? That’s big clues as to what goals you need to be focusing some time on.

Five – A brain dump can cause little irritations to come to the forefront.

Usually the little things that bug us are a part of something larger, so use that as breadcrumbs. What are you tired of tolerating? Is there tasks or responsibilities that feel like shackles on rather than shackles off? What are you simply tired of dealing with? Yes, a fly buzzing around isn’t a big deal, but over time, it will drive you crazy.

Though these things seem super small, these cause you to go from feeling just like your brain is cluttered to suddenly feeling burned out.

By examining these small irritations, it allows you to not just recognize and illuminate them. Your quest for gaining mental clarity will be longer lasting. Ask yourself: “And if I didn’t have to do THAT, what would that open up for me?”

Six – Going for a walk (or run) is great for gaining mental clarity.

No matter the season, I find that going for a walk never fails to help me when my brain is cluttered. Just bundle up if it’s chilly! There’s just something about the act of putting your feet to the earth that grounds you. Mind, body, and soul. And science supports that. A study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science found that taking a walk in nature reduced anxiety and ruminations. If worrying is part of the reason your thoughts are swirling, this is the perfect prescription for you.

Besides, going for a walk or run releases serotonin. These endorphins interact with receptors in the brain that both reduce pain and improve mood. A rush of these endorphins will shift your mood. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, of course this helps you with gaining mental clarity.

Mood boost + less anxiety + ground = less swirling thoughts. Talk about a win!

Seven – Get some fresh air to clear your head.

If you can’t get out for a walk – or simply need a break – step outside for just a few minutes. A series of studies published in the June 2010 issue of the Journal of Environmental Psychology found that being out in nature made people feel more energetic after spending time in natural sightings. Additional research by doctors found that patients recovering from surgery and heart problems had shorter hospital stays and needed less pain medication when they saw nature out their hospital window versus seeing a brick wall.

You may be wondering what having more energy and managing pain has to do with gaining mental clarity. Well, sugar, the thing is, all those swirling thoughts are exhausting. When you’re tired, it’s harder to make decisions and think clearly. A boost of energy can’t help, but well, help you with clearing those thoughts a little.

Besides, one of the wisest women I’ve ever know was my grandmother. And she would always tell me to go outside and play when I was restless. It always helped me chill out. And sometimes, when your mind is going wild with thought after thought, you need to manage all those feelings of overwhelm and calm down. Once you’re calmed down, you’ll think much clearer.

Eight – Clear the cob webs taking a shower.

One way to gain mental clarity is to fully focus on a present moment. The shower is the perfect place for this. You are in a warm, safe environment and that alone can reduce your anxiety. When you focus on the task at hand – the water cascading across your body, the smell of your soap and shampoo, the act of washing your body or hair – your thoughts begin to fade into the background.

Our brains are amazing. While you’re focusing on the task at hand, your subconscious is still operating in the background. This is why folks swear that their best ideas come to them in the shower. It’s a form of daydreaming.

Science agrees. A Dartmouth study found that daydreaming relaxes the brain’s command center for decisions, behavior, and goals. And switches on your brain’s “default mode”, which clears the pathways in your mind. It’s like your thoughts are shaken loose, allowing you to gain mental clarity and unique solutions to problems.

Nine – Gain mental clarity by tidying up physical clutter.

When our minds are cluttered and scattered, look around at your environment. Are there papers scattered across your desk? Is your coffee table cluttered? Does “hot mess” describe your kitchen? If you are truly honest with yourself, is messiness in your home (or office) distracting you?

Our environment affects our thinking. That’s why the physical act of tidying up a single space can help “tidy up” your thoughts. Yep, pulling a Mary Poppins can help you with gaining mental clarity. Science backs me up here, too.  A Princeton University study found that the visual cortex can be overwhelmed by items that are irrelevant to the task at hand. So,yes, my dear, clutter does make it more difficult to focus!

Ten – If all else fails, going to bed can help with gaining mental clarity.

If you are feeling overwhelmed and your thoughts are still dancing around, burning the midnight oil typically will backfire. Adequate sleep is critical to the way the body and mind function. So, yes, when all else fails, just go to bed. And, my darling, I am well aware how a cluttered brain and make falling asleep challenging, but I promise you that sleep will always help an overwhelmed and cluttered mind. Do another quick brain dump and hit the sheets.

Our brains need sleep. During sleep, your brain takes enacts a process known as memory consolidation, during which the memories that are encoded during the day are strengthened. And research also shows that sleep helps stress because it restores the body, improves concentration, regulates mood, and sharpens judgment and decision-making. You are a better problem solver and are better able to cope with stress when you’re well-rested.

More sleep = reduced stress + memory consolidation + improved mood+ better decision making. That sounds like a great formula for clearer thinking and less overwhelmed.

So, give it a try. You may be surprised how a little shut-eye can help you with gaining mental clarity.

Darling, I know you have a lot of responsibilities.

And there will be times when you feel stretched thinned and overwhelmed. Learning to deal with mental clutter will help you better manage all areas of your life. You deserve to live a life you love, not a life that makes you feel stressed out all the time.

When you regularly use these strategies to maintain mental clarity, you will find that life feels less overwhelming. You’ll also find making big and small decisions easier.

That’s because with clearer thinking, you can put your thoughts towards making your life easier. And more enjoyable.

The last time I grocery shopped, I spied fresh cranberries in the produce department. Though I grew up with jellied cranberry sauce, in recent years I discovered how delicious Fresh Cranberry Sauce can be and use a recipe JB's mom told me about: combine a bag of fresh cranberries with one whole orange and a 1/2 cup of sugar in a blender.  It's so delicious that I make a batch to brighten up and regular weekday meal. It's great served alongside pork loin or roasted chicken.

I snagged a couple of oranges and two bags of cranberries. No, not for that much cranberry sauce. I want to get a head start on some holiday baking for Thanksgiving, so the extra cranberries and orange are to make Cranberry-Orange Bread!

And just because I am staying away from gluten most of the time, I still love making quick breads for the holiday because they are tasty and reliable.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Melt 6 tablespoons of butter. Chop 1 1/2 cup of cranberries and 3/4 cup of walnuts (or pecans if you prefer). Remove the zest from your orange (the orange part, I use this Microplane zester) and then juice the orange.

In a small bowl, stir together the zest, 1/3 cup of orange juice, 2/3 cup of buttermilk, melted butter, 1 teaspoon of vanilla and an egg. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together 2 cups of flour (I do 1 cup of all purpose and 1 cup of wheat flour) (and I have begun using Sprouted Wheat Flour because it seems a little gentler to my tummy when I do indulge.), 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of sugar, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda. Stir liquid ingredients into dry with rubber spatula until just moistened. Gently stir in cranberries and nuts. Do not overmix.

Spoon batter into greased and floured (or sprayed) brad plan. Bake for 45 minutes until golden brown and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool in pan for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack and cool at least one hour before serving.

Now.... the secret to baking ahead is utilizing your freezer. You have to let your baked goods completely cool. Then, wrap in waxed paper and put in a (labeled) Freezer Bag.   You can also half loaves and freeze each half separately.

When you're ready to eat the bread (or give it as a gift) just pull it out of the freezer! In all honesty, I usually slice breads while still frozen and put them on a serving tray if we're eating them at home.

Volume 8 -Issue 24

November 24, 2018

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.

Muse & Cheerleader

I believe everyone could benefit from a good life coach. Yes, everyone. Even (and especially) other coaches! Debra is a coach who models what she encourages in her clients—deep soul searching, practical living skills, and solid business sense. Whether you’re new to exploring personal growth or someone who assists others along their own paths, Debra offers a style that meets you where you are.

Personally, I’ve done a ton of my own transformational work and continue to explore new pathways every day. While I wish I could say that I have ‘arrived,’ there really is no such destination for a lifelong learner like me or probably you. Debra is a friend and mentor who helps keep me on task, shed light on my blind spots, and untangle the stuck places that I can’t quite tackle on my own.

Throughout the time we’ve worked together, she’s nudged me forward with just the right amount of force and given me space to grieve my losses and celebrate my victories. She’s more than a coach. She’s a muse and cheerleader, and I am immensely grateful to have her on my team.

Kayce S. Hughlett – Life Coach & Author

Also in the blog

After so many BLACK FRIDAY emails, I was inspired to write a quick blog post last night.

Click here to read  How to Stress Yourself Out This Season: Shop Until You Drop

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

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.

You Won't Be Sorry

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, Artist

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 Email me for a complimentary chat to see if we are a good fit.

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

Clear Clutter

One of the biggest lessons I have learned is that you cannot welcome new things into your life if you don’t release some of the old stuff. You need to begin to purge things from your life.

Join me for 30 Days of Fall Cleaning and Clearing Clutter beginning Sunday, January 6, 2019

Just in time to get your home in order before the holidays!


Your advice has always been spot on…….from helping me see how important it is to be thankful for my blessings to helping me remove physical and emotional clutter from my life. I am actually the most grateful for the times when you have spoken the truth in love and been honest with me when I wanted to continue to delude myself. Without those wise words, I would have continued to lie to myself and not had the breakthroughs I have experienced.

I’m not all I want to be yet but I would have ever found my path had I not met and worked with you. Thank you for your efforts in helping me find my life. I am forever in your debt.

~Basil Human, Engineer, Chief Operating Officer, Writer

Also from the Blog

Don't know what you really want? Maybe you should begin with what you DON'T Want instead.

Read==> Want Clarity? Maybe You Should Begin with What You Don’t Want


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

Copyright © 2018 Debra Smouse - Create a Life You Love, All rights reserved.

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