Rituals and More
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“The human soul can
always use a new tradition.
Sometimes we require them.”
― Pat Conroy

Happy Saturday, dear, <<Name>>. How has your entry into February been?. JB headed out of town yesterday and my goal is to be as productive as possible while he’s away. I am planning a mix of writing retreat planningretreat, great clients, and a solid focus on getting back to my gluten-free eating ways.

No, I’m not allergic to gluten but I find I feel better when I avoid it.

Something I didn’t even attempt to do while at Disney World (too many delicious things to try there!)

The writing retreat is much needed, too. Beginning to focus on what I want to create in the coming months with a big swath of time to devote to that.

To be honest, I'm still feeling behind my own norm this year. So, I need this time to really dive into the new year with a focus on fueling my body, writing, and some ritual. 

Rituals connect us to the Holy parts of ourselves.

So, today I will be setting up my traditional altar space honoring St. Brigid.  
I have needed a little more ritual in my life. Maybe it's a part of the recovery from travel. Or maybe I'm just flowers for brigidneeding to connect more to myself and to God.

I set up my altar space with many of the symbols of Brigid: flowers, seeds, and candles. And I also add my Brigid Prayer Card and favorite little treasures. I’ll turn on some meditative music  (Amazon’s Classical for Focus Playlist) and create a tiny space of holiness in my office: flowers marking the promise of spring to come, seeds to represent planting for a new year of harvest, and lots of candles.

Brigid is the patron of poets and creators - and you often see images of her holding a giant flame.

The stories of Brigid go back to Celtic days and her traditions and legends were adopted by the Catholic church as well. She's the patron of Dairy in Ireland for in ancient times, farm animals began to lactate around the first of February, giving folks the first fresh food of the year.

Can you imagine going from late October to early February and sustaining yourself on what you "put up" for the winter months?  I can see why it was such a celebration!

This weekend also marks all of the closely related holidays to St. Brigid's Day (Groundhog Day / Imbolic / Candlemas) and marking the space of being halfway to spring.

Hooray for being halfway to spring, right?

Creating altar space reminds me to stop a moment and slow down. I light candles, watch the flame, and remind myself to breathe. Especially when I feel frazzled or under pressure to get more done.

You know, sugarplum, life moves at a fast pace. And when we fail to listen to the call to slow down and reading in my chairconnect, we can find ourselves feeling irritable and lost. Though taking time to create this space in my office can feel silly - or a waste of time - my soul knows that it was just what I needed to make me pause and savor.

We all need those symbols and reminders and permission to just stop and pay attention.

So, tell me, darling: what about you? Are you moving so fast that you can't hear the call to slow down? Are you finding small ways to pause and connect to the Holy parts of yourself? How can you bring ritual into your world? 

Are you happy that we're finally over the hump and heading towards spring? What can you do to remind yourself to STOP and see the beauty around you instead of speeding past it? Are you able to listen to the voice of your heart or does your BUSY-mind speak too loudly?

What can you introduce into your daily life - or even weekly - that infinitesimal moment of awareness so  you can take a deep breath?

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...........


From the blog:  Success Can Be Yours by Combining Planning with Routines

I got a chuckle over an email from Coach Handbags on January 17th with the title “Happy Ditch Your Resolution Day”, a tongue in cheek acknowledgement that by mid-January, most folks are ready to abandon those New Year’s Resolutions. There was, of course, suggestions on things to purchase to celebrate the decision, inducing giggles from me. But the thing, they are right. Most folks are ready to ditch the resolutions because they don’t feel they will find success, so why bother?

I get it. We have grand ideas for what we want, but after the holidays are over and we return to “real” life in all its beauty and stress, those goals seem un-doable. Or, we’re so busy dealing with the day-to-day responsibilities, there doesn’t seem to be a crumb of time left to devote to your dreams. That pinnacle of success you imagined when you set you intention, resolution, or goal just doesn’t seem possible.

And despite the fact that I get how hard pursuing goals can be, I also know that that resolution you’ve already halfheartedly left in the dust are salvageable. It just requires a little bit of planning so you can set yourself up for success.

In order to do this, it’s critical that you let go of “if-then thinking”. You know what I mean: all that bargaining of “when the kids are grown…” and “when I lose weight…”  And you want to know what gets in the way of pursuing a dream, goal, or resolution? Not making time in your life for the pursuit.

Success can be yours

Here’s a Six Step Way to go from abandoned goals to success.

Step One – Revisit Your Goals / Dreams / Resolutions / Intentions

Semantics matter to your brain, so choose the word that works best for you. Now that you’ve chosen how to see this desire worded, write all of them down. I’m going to use the word “goal”, but feel free to substitute your favorite word. And yes, do write it down.

Even if you’re extremely motivated, you also need to state your intentions. A written goal is more likely to become real success.

Step Two – Choose One or Two Goals to Pursue to Success

While not making time for the pursuit of success will always get in the way, it’s important to know that too many goals makes success at any goal impossible. By choosing one of two goals, it allows you to hone that precious focus of yours. Yes, I know you want it all – now – but trying to do it all muddies the water of your potential success.

Consider not just the end-result you’re desiring, but other factors that could impede your success. For example, if you want to clock a faster running time, maybe it’s a goal best left for the spring or summer when it isn’t snowy.  Don’t worry that you’ll miss out, by the way. Once you reach one goal, you can sub in one of those goals just waiting in the wings.

(Pro-tip: write down ALL your goals somewhere you can easily access it, even if it’s goals you aren’t focusing on.)

Step Three – Create a Plan for Each Goal

This is probably the most important step for success: planning for success. How are you going to go from here to there?

For each of your goals, create a plan for success. You can do this on the computer or on paper. Personally, I do a mix of both, using my journal for the plans and then turning to the computer for any check-lists and task reminders for specific dates.

I think best in bullet points, so find that a brainstormed list of all the little pieces of my plan helps me see it more clearly. A good way to do this may be to make a running list of all the ingredients you need, and then re-writing it as if it were a  step-by-step recipe for making your goal a reality. Don’t be afraid of getting too detailed if that’s how your mind works, just don’t overwhelm yourself.

So, for example, let’s say your goal is to lose twenty pounds. This means you need to eat right, exercise, get adequate sleep, and reduce your stress levels. Each one of those needs to meet your goal are almost goals in themselves, right? So don’t be afraid to break those down into mini-goals with their own plan. This allows you to break down the pieces of your goal into actionable tasks.

It’s also important during your planning to set some milestones. Mark these on your calendar!

By the way, you can do this for even those goals you’ve chose to pursue later. Creating a plan may show you that you need to change your focus to a more suitable season in your life, so don’t be afraid to go back to Step Two until you feel it’s right for you now.

(Note: To save plans for future goals, I create a file in my desk and check it once a month to see what ideas might be ready to make a priority.)

A plan also allows you to recognize major tasks so that you can stagger them. It’s hard to begin eating right, exercising daily, and getting enough sleep NOW. So much for reducing stress, right? So, maybe you see that your plan needs some entry steps: to focus on eating right this month and once you’re happily eating well, to add exercise in next month.

Be willing to push yourself a little while also being compassionate with yourself and the reality of the responsibilities you have.

Step Four – Plan Time to Take Action

There’s no way to find success if you don’t make time to take action, right? That’s why it’s critical to success to plan your time to make space for the pursuit of your goal. That’s often-what causes abandonment early in the year: you haven’t adjusted your daily life to include working on your goals!

Remember that goals are sometimes best approached with the domino affect in mind: you need to do this before you can do that.

So, going back to the example of losing twenty pounds, let’s look at what you might need to eat right. That may include cleaning out your pantry, setting time aside for meal planning, making grocery shopping a priority, cooking more often, etc. Exercising may require buying new workout shoes, joining a gym, and blocking off time each morning to get some exercise.

It’s impossible, for example, to eat right if you don’t have a plan for what to eat, right? Otherwise you succumb to a meal of crackers, wine, and ice cream (or whatever is in the fridge). Be realistic, but don’t make excuses.

Step Five – Set Yourself Up for Success with Routines

When you include various tasks in your regular routines, this allows them to become habits. So, examine all the tasks you need to do to pursue a goal and fit them into your daily routines. To go back to that “losing twenty pounds” goal, for example, you might want to make time for exercise and breakfast each morning.
You can also create blocked routines to do a task on the same day each week. Like meal planning on Sundays and grocery shopping on Mondays. You may find that making all of your lunches on Sundays means you’ll eat well in the middle of a busy day.

While you are making space in your routines, be honest about your energy levels. This isn’t about judgement, just managing yourself and your life in a way that feels loving and supportive. For example, if you are just too darned tired to cook after a long day at work, make meals ahead on the weekends or use your crockpot to ensure you have a healthy meal waiting for you at the end of the day. And if you know that you won’t get up early to exercise, go to the gym at lunch or on the way home.

Once they become a habit, you’ll get more momentum. And the bonus: once you instill good habits that support your goals, it gives you more energy to put towards what’s next!

Step Six – Plan for Success by Checking in With Yourself

All plans need adjusting now and then. Block off some time on your calendar to review your goals once a week – or at least once a month. Monitoring the progress of your goals, adjusting your plan, and making time to include actionable steps as time passes allows you to stay motivated and see real successes.
Making time for review also allows you to see when goals need to be abandoned, not because they are too hard, but because they don’t fit your life.  Or, you may discover that you’re ready to move on to other dreams. Now that’s a way to success, too!

It’s important to remind yourself that if you want to be happy, you need to remember that your goals are important.

Not making progress towards your desires doesn’t mean that you’re a loser, it just means you need some structure. I know that you can achieve your heart’s desires if you create a plan and ensure that you are making space in your life to pursue your goals.
To mix up the same-old chicken for dinner, we'll have pork - pork tacos made with ground pork - or these wonderful Pork Chops with Honey. Now, this is based on a Roasted Veal pork chops with honeywith Honey recipe.  Since I don't buy veal, I substitute pork. So, here is an amazing Pork with Honey.

Season 3 pork rib chops lightly with salt and pepper, cover with a kitchen towel, and let rest for 30 minutes. Slice ½ pound of seedless red grapes in half lengthwise, set aside.

Place large sauté pans over medium-high heat. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in each pan. Add chops to each pan and brown the chops for about 3 minutes on each side.

Add 4 cloves,2 bay leaves (preferably fresh), 3 sage leaves, and 4 oil-packed anchovies to each pan.

Add 1 cup of dry white wine (like Pinot Grigio) to each pan scraping any bits from the bottom with a wooden spatula or spoon. Reduce until the wine has almost evaporated completely. Turn the chops and add ¾ cup of chicken stock to each pan. Bring to a simmer. Cook the pork in the stock for 8  minutes. Turn the pork over and cook for an additional 4 minutes. Transfer the pork to a serving dish. Cover with a piece of aluminum foil and set into the oven to keep warm.

Pour the cooking liquid from both pans through a fine mesh strainer into a clean saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the grapes and 2 tablespoons of local honey. Continue to boil for 4 minutes. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon the sauce over the  pork chops and serve.

I usually serve this with a barely wilted spinach and roasted potatoes.  Or my favorite cabbage with bacon side dish.

Volume 10-Issue 3

February 01, 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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“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

Bear the Light Podcast

Bear the Light Podcast

I don’t know about you, but I love listening to Podcasts. Especially when I’m taking a walk or tidying up the house. It’s a great way to learn to things, feel inspired, and finding new voices of wisdom. So, I was super thrilled to be invited by Christianne Squires to be on her “Bear the Light” podcast.

Listening in is also a good way to understand my approach to coaching. And my philosophy about life in general. While I believe the key to having a good life is falling in love with your life and self, in part, it’s also about being able to approach the desire for happiness with solid tools that support you.

(I'm also sharing my favorite quotes on light in this blog post)


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

a year of support

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YOUR Year with
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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


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

Also from the Blog

If you don’t see yourself as a priority equal to the needs of others, you’ll always struggle with happiness and inner peace. If you don’t honor the commitments your heart is begging you to make, then you you will feel disappointed in yourself and dissatisfied with your life.

Read ==> Are Your Desires Always Last? Here’s 8 Steps to Make Yourself a Priority


Facing Teeny Cracks of Vulnerability

My working relationship with Deb began a number of years ago through an online course in which we both participated – post-course, we agreed with a few colleagues to an online accountability relationship for positive steps we were all taking in our lives. During that time for me, Deb established her attention to detail and her accountability to both contribute input and to positively listen to each of the persons involved with the group. After that group ended, she and I personally kept in touch loosely over our blogposts and those posts of other online friends.

When Deb posted her “Sex Kitten” course for the first time, I was totally taken with the clever title and provocative content offered for positive and long-reaching advances in one’s personal and in one’s very personal life. I dialed in for a personal conversation about whether or not we were a match regarding present and future ambitions of mine and…….“the rest is history!”

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.

What if YOU were that person?

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Also in the Blog

I know that making the decision to choose happiness – especially when life feels pretty rotten – can be tough. That’s why, time after time, I turn to a collection of quotes to help remind me that making the choice to be happy is the path to actually BEING happier.

Click here to read==> 67 Quotes to Remind You That Choosing to Be Happy is the Best Decision Ever
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