How to tend your soul
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“And all at once,
summer collapsed into fall.”

-- Oscar Wilde

Fall!Well, happy Saturday my dear <<Name>>. It's been a week, hasn't it? 

I have to be honest, there were moments this week when I wondered if I should add to the noise and send you this little missive. Many of the folks I speak with are just overwhelmed with the digital world - social media, the news, and their in-box thanks to everything happening in the world.

Rather than quietly sink into the shadows, though, I chose to keep this commitment of showing up in your inbox every-other-Saturday. And I wanted to share some tips with you on how I'm dealing when I am feeling overwhelmed or hopeless about what's going on in the world.

One: Connect to Your Breath

I know you hear "you need to breathe" and there's a reason. Close your eyes, put your hand on your chest, and take some deep breaths. Take a big, deep breath IN, hold it for a moment, and slowly release. It helps calm your nervous system.

Two: Go Outside and simply BE in nature.

We've already had some cool mornings and evenings here (in the 40's), so Mother Nature is hard at work in shifting the landscape. Simply sit and admire what's before you. Look for a shift in the colors since last month. Sit and watch the birds - something I like to do when it's cooler in the mornings as they puff sunsetthemselves up to stay warm. Watch the squirrels scamper from tree to tree.

Let nature soothe you as you find quiet and peace for a few moments.

Three: Go for a walk. 

And JUST walk. No distractions which means no podcasts, no phone calls, and no music. Walk with the intention of pulling excess energy out of your body, into the earth, and let it restore you. Admire nature and admire your neighbor's yards. Wave at other walkers. See if you can identify bird calls.

Give you mind a BREAK from any input beyond what's before you.

Four: Seek Beauty Behind the Lens

Though it's tempting to scroll when you have your phone in hand, commit to photographing ONE thing of beauty each day. This may be your puppy, the curve of a beloved's face, or something  in your garden. Often when I go to the park for a walk, I challenge myself to take at least five good photos.

Seeking beauty will always sooth the soul.

Five: Stop Name Calling & Judging

One of the reasons the outside world feels so volatile is all the labeling and name calling. So, make a strong commitment to yourself to stop labeling others and calling them names. While it's easy to look at the actions on  a walkof others (especially politicians) and call them Stupid or Deplorable or Thugs or Henchmen, STOP.

And as a part of no name calling, STOP judging the choices of others. These are tough times and a lot of people are having to take calculated risks to pay the bills and tend their families.  Judgement is actually part of the discernment process as it helps you figure out what's right for you. However, we rarely have "all" the facts so STOP.

If someone you follow on social media makes you want to call them a name or label them or judge the choices they are making for themselves and others, then UNFOLLOW THEM!! Because when you look for reasons to be outraged, you'll find it.

Darling, when you FEED your mind with name calling and judging others, the person you are harming the most is YOU. You're inviting your mind to look for the ways you can label others or find fault in their choices. And like anything, once you start down the slippery path of name calling and judging others, it's easier to do again and again and again.

You are hurting your tender soul. While I know this is hard to do.

Six: Find a Reason to Laugh

I find a reason to laugh every day. Sometimes, it's thanks to watching a rerun of The Big Bang Theory for the chipmunkhundredth time. Sometimes it's thanks to watching the silliness of the squirrel that scampers through the yard around five every evening. Sometimes, it's just sending a silly selfie to a friend.

This photo is of one of our resident chipmunks - we call them all "Charlie". He never fails to make me giggle at his antics.

Laughter invites you to look for the silver lining and to seek what's good. So laugh daily.

I hope this helps you manage the days and weeks ahead.

Because the world needs good people. As I often remind you, if you need some help finding something good, ask a friend to help you find it. Tell your spouse you need a laugh. 

Most importantly, take care of your mental health. So, find a therapist, coach, or spiritual director to help you find hope.  

Please continue to take care of yourself.  Please be safe. As always, I am sending you love.

From the blog:  If You Want to Shift in Any Way You Must Read Differently and Take Action

There’s no other way to describe this year than challenging. And though the outside world needs us to take a stand about what we believe in, everything really begins from within. What I know to be true, though, is in order to shift in any way, we have to do things differently. Because our thoughts drive us and create our reality, that means that we must feed our minds with new and better thoughts. That means in order to actively grow and evolve ourselves, we must choose to read somewhat differently.

Think about it: if you want to change your body, you need to change your diet. So what you feed your mind is critical. Because without new voices of wisdom, you’re going to continue to think the same thoughts.


If you get too closed to new ways of living as a possibility, then your life will shrink and you will become more and more brittle. That’s why, if you want your life to be different from what it is now, you must decide that you’re ready for the change. And then, in order to make that desired change a reality, you must be willing to do the work to shift that reality.

What does choosing to read differently mean in practical terms?

If we typically read only the most recent releases, maybe we need to turn to ancient texts that may open our minds and hearts. Instead of our usual diet of fiction, we should dabble in poetry or memoirs. Conversely, if the bulk of our regular reading is diet books and the hottest new self-help titles, a good dose of fiction might be in order.

Besides, if you read too much self-help, you can get lost in the thinking that you are broken. And that, my darling, is not true.

Don’t forget that the need to read differently applies to our digital worlds as well. Maybe you need to stop reading Facebook updates and seek thoughtful essays in personal blogs. Reading differently means shifting what we take into our minds because what we read affects how we think and how we feel about ourselves.

This also means that if you’re wanting to have a broader sense of what’s happening in the world, you need to read news from the “other side” of the fence. Yes, so that may mean reading The New York Times and The New York Post. Or watching the news on Fox in addition to CNN.

If you want to change your life, darling, seek new voices so that you can open yourself up to reading differently.

By the way, don’t rule out fiction. Research from Ohio State University has shown that when you fictional characters can influence you. In the study, readers adopted the beliefs, feelings and responses of the characters. This means well written fiction with courageous or compassionate characters can inspire you to be brave, transform your thinking, how you see yourself and the world.

Don’t just go through the motions of seeking new ways to feed your mind. Be open to learning new things and new ways.

Each day presents an opportunity to grow your brain, expand your horizons and change your perspective.

But seeking new voices of wisdom isn’t all. I hate to break it to you darling: you are also going to have to get out of your comfort zone.

This may seem counter to much of what I tout as a way to create a life you love, but stick with me for a bit.

I believe that routines are the most efficient way to manage your energy and ensure that tasks get done. I stand strong to the fact that solid routines lead to good habits that will help you more enjoy your life.

However, if you want to live your life in a different way, then your routines will have to change. Learning new routines and allowing them to mature into new habits doesn’t happen overnight.

And sugarplum, I am a firm believer that always living on the edge makes us cranky and edgy. That we need to settle into periods of comfort to get the blessings our life already offers us.

Yet, if you are seeking to change something, you’ll have to get uncomfortable.

There is a pendulum-like swing in the way the comfort plays out in our lives.

We need to step outside our comfort zone to learn a new skill, shift our way of thinking, or change something. But then? The pendulum has to swing back, allowing that new stuff to become our new normal. This allows us to create a comfort zone that is just as snuggly as the one we had before. Yet, different enough than our old one. Maybe it’s a little broader in scope, or with a slightly different kind of décor.

That also means we need to pay attention to the small things the bring us comfort: snuggling on the couch, coffee with a girlfriend, fresh flowers in the kitchen, or a favorite sweater to toss across our shoulders on chilly days.

And that brings up the other piece of this, my darling. If you want any area of your life to be different, you are going to have to do the work.

You are going to have to invest in yourself, be it your time, your money or your attention.

What I mean is, in addition to reading great blog posts, maybe you need to go ahead and invest in program that the coach you admire has been offering. Instead of just reading that mind provoking book, maybe you need to get your journal out and actually do the exercises.

A healthier body may require cooking more and breaking a sweat. A richer creative life may demand experimenting with your craft. Thinking about how we want our life to be different – yes, even our creative life – doesn’t make it happen. Talking about the changes we want to make isn’t enough.

To paraphrase Elvis, a little less talk and a lot more action!

No matter what it is, things cannot change if we do not take some action. Yes, action requires energy and sweat and sometimes tears, but you are worth it. Your life can be different than it is today if you so desire it to be.

Read differently. Seek new voices of wisdom. Shift your routines. Get out of your comfort zone. Pay attention to small comforts. Do the work.

Just as it’s true that ‘we are what we eat,’ it’s also true that we are what we read.

What are your voices of wisdom whispering to you?

And what are you going to read? Are you willing to step into the work you need to do for your own soul? And tell me, darling, what actions towards a different life can you take today?

Want to get started on some love from your oven? Though I love pumpkin bread as fall arrives, I like something different at times, too. Here's another easy to make / easy to freeze recipe: Carrot & Spice carrot breadBread. A nice change from pumpkin spice everything for fall ;-)

Begin by prepping: wash and then grate 4 (or so) large carrots on the large holes of a box grater…you want 2 ½ cups of grated carrot. Also, pull out a stick of butter and 3 eggs and let them warm to room temperature. Pre-heat your oven to 350 (or 325 for a convection oven).

Whisk together: 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, 1 cup of whole-wheat flour, ½ teaspoon nutmeg, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 3/4 teaspoon baking powder, 3/4 teaspoon baking soda, 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt and set aside.

Remove 1 tablespoon of flour mixture and toss with 1 cup chopped walnuts and 1 cup of raisins (optional). Set aside.

Cream together ¾  cup packed dark brown sugar, ¾ cup of granulated sugar, and 1 stick of softened butter. Add 3 large eggs and  1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract.

Add the flour mixture and fold in with a rubber spatula until just combined (over-mixing makes it tough). Fold in carrots, nuts, and raisins.

Pour batter into a pan that has been sprayed with baking spray (the flour/oil combination). Bake until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 60 to 65 minutes. 

Let cool for at least 30 minutes on a wire rack and then remove from pan. 

You can make a glaze of cream cheese and powdered sugar if you're wanting a carrot-cake like experience. But I like it sans frosting.

After it cools completely, you can wrap this in waxed paper and then put it in a freezer bag, where it will keep for 6 months. I love the burst of fall-like flavors without relying on pumpkin or pumpkin spice.

I typically halve the loaf. We eat one half NOW and save the other half for later.

If you want to make a grab-and-go kind of thing for breakfast, you can slice the bread once it cools into individual slices. Wrap each slice in waxed paper and put them in individual sandwich bags that can be frozen.  Removing it the night before makes it a welcome addition to any lunch box (or briefcase).

Volume 10 
Issue 20

Sept. 26, 2020

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.
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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One-Time Sessions

In times like these, you may simply need to talk to someone that doesn't live with you, doesn't work with you, or isn't in your current list of friends. That's because we need the voices (and ears) of people who have no horse in the race of our own lives.

From now until our need for social distancing ends, I am offering single sessions at half-price.. These sessions can be done via phone or video.

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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

Want to Be More Resilliant?

Each one of us has a deep well of inner strength in our souls, even when you don’t think you do. The secret is that like any habit: inner strength can be grown. See, just like exercise, sleep, and eating well can help us grow our physical strength, it’s possible to not just access, but develop our inner strength.

Read 11 Ways to Grown Your Inner Strength==>


Praise for 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
awareness is worth it

Also in the Blog

The reason I’m often asked why awareness is worth it is because there is a shadow side to self-awareness.

This shadow side can make us angry or sad at our past choices, and can send us spiraling down the rabbit hole of the so-called “bad” emotions. And how can I forget the Inner Critic’s ability to become oh so judgmental when we play with being more aware of ourselves as our ally.

Read ==> Eighteen Reasons Why Awareness is Worth the Trouble (If You Want to Love Your Life)

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

Use this Time for Self-Discovery

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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...

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Purchase here.



“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

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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

Spot On

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

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