A tough news week...
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The human soul can
always use a new tradition.
Sometimes we require them.”

― Pat Conroy

Good morning <<Name>>. Can you believe it’s already March?  Well, if you have snow on the ground right now like we do you may find it hard to believe. But the calendar doesn't lie. Here we are - March 2nd!

I was on the phone with a girlfriend earlier this week. She’s helping me with a project and back before Christmas, we’d talked about getting together face to face in February. And then we were both like – WAIT – FRIDAY is March 1st. How did that happen?

Well, you know how that happens. We get busy, right? And life moves at a fast pace. Sometimes, we become so wrapped up in stuff that may not really matter and we forget those pieces of life that nourish us.

And when we fail to listen to the call to slow down and connect, we can find ourselves feeling irritable or lost of maybe even a little overwhelmed.  And while the inner coach inside me tells me that “overwhelmed” is just a thought and I should change my thinking, it’s not that easy to just DO when you’re in the midst of things.

I am the first to admit that I can get caught up in that cycle. And to be honest, I have been struggling with that most of this year, as if the goals I set for the year were so big that I haven’t yet grown enough to make faster progress.

You know that’s how it works, right? If we are deeply honest with ourselves and our deeper desires,  during the goal setting / intention setting process, we set goals that invite us to grow and stretch ourselves.

And if we did it right? There will be discomfort. A lot of discomfort (oh, yes).

And there will be a lot of moments where we ask “what the heck was I thinking???” And if we are brave and power through it, those moments are often followed with those flashes of insight that we really are in our zone of genius.

The key though is to stay a little brave. When we feel the most discomfort, we breathe through it. And if we can keep our eyes on the road ahead rather than panicking or giving up? It naturally invites us to step back and say “What am I missing here? What might I need to help ferry myself to the other side of this challenging river?”

For me, that answer came this week when I was spending some quality time with my calendar, my to do list, and a spreadsheet.  And as I was trying to pick a date that I could hop on a plane and spend a couple of days with my girlfriend, I realized that we are finally drawing close to the Lenten Season.

Tuesday, March 5th  is Fat Tuesday, the final hurrah of things in some cultures (aka Carnival or Mardi Gras) and Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the first day of the Lenten season.

Yes, I still make that first cup of coffee each morning in a ritualistic way, but in my pursuit of getting stuff done I’ve neglected the ritual and spiritual side of life a lot lately. The arrival of Lent is my invitation to remedy that.

Lent has always been a special time for me personally. I no longer give anything up, so to speak. Instead, I choose to spend those 40 days (47 if you count the Sundays) focused on deepening my spirituality. The first year I shifted my focus from deprivation and austerity to the culmination of the season – joy and holy miracles – I took a mediation class and finally learned how to make mediation work for me.

I haven’t yet decided how this is going to look for me this Lenten season. As I share with clients often, the first step to shifting or changing something is to be aware that you need to do it. And after awareness, you get the opportunity to seek your answers.

Of course, sometimes this is where folks try to forget that flash of insight that awareness can bring. And do something to distract them from the sometimes excruciating discomfort awareness has brought up. (Which is why we reach for that piece of cake, our phone, or a glass of wine - to soothe and numb that discomfort.)

But I promise that if you follow through from awareness to seeking your answers, you will always find the path to a life that feels loving and nourishing.

Whatever I choose is what my heart is telling me I need to grow my wisdom and my soul. Besides seeking my own inner wisdom, I know that sometimes we must seek the wisdom of others.

I often find this between the pages of a book. Yet, as divine timing tends to work when we ask for guidance, I have on my calendar calls scheduled with 3 very wise women I respect, love, and adore. All before Ash Wednesday. And one of these calls has been on my calendar since long before Christmas.

It’s as if God knew that I wouldn’t be ready for this next piece of growth until this next week. Just in time for Lent. And as a reminder that in order to pursue our desires and stretch ourselves, we also need to have a deep faith that we can do it.

So, darling, that brings us to YOU. What might setting goals that feel just outside your reach look and feel like? Are you stretching yourself? Are you allowing yourself to connect to the quiet, small voice of your heart? What do you need to feel nourished? And how might choosing to devote yourself to that nourishment just for the 40 days of Lent open up for you?

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 -I am taking ONE or Two new clients this Spring. Just reply to this email if you want to set up a time to chat.

From the blog: Begin Clearing Clutter from Your Mind with this Timeless Process   One of the biggest challenges to loving my life is my own thoughts. One moment, I’m feeling on-top of the world, and then suddenly feel overwhelmed thanks to swirling thoughts that soon become brain clutter. You know exactly what I’m talking about, right? I begin thinking about everything that needs to get done that day. And it soon snowballs into worries, random challenges clients are facing, and what we’re doing next January. That’s when I know it’s time to turn to the number one tool for clearing clutter from your mind: taking pen to paper.

If you were to first ask me the no-frills path for clearing clutter from your mind, I’d tell you it’s the Brain Dump.

I first read about doing a brain dump when I read Getting Things Done by David Allen. It’s a book I still re-read on a regular basis. And his reminder “Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.” is one of those quotes I return to time and again. Again, because it’s true.  When you feel overwhelmed, you must find a way of clearing the clutter from your mind.

I reference brain dumps in many of my articles about brain clutter and there’s a reason why. It works. Because getting everything out of your head and onto paper provides your brain with much needed relief. There’s an almost alchemical process that happens when you take those swirling thoughts and put them down in black and white.

Here’s the basics on how to do a brain dump for clearing clutter from your mind:
  • Grab a pen and either a stack of index cards or paper.
  • Set a timer for five minutes.
  • Write down every single thought onto the page and keep writing. If you are using index cards, write only one thought per card.
  • While you are writing, do not self-edit. Remember, that this is just for you and no one else.
  • Write until the timer goes off.

What you do after a brain dump is up to you. Personally, I use index cards and then sort them into categories. Then, I create a more powerful to do list. And joyfully tear up those thoughts that aren’t helpful or useful.

Time and again, I am reminded that writing things down helps you prioritize, clarify thinking, and accomplish your most important tasks, over urgent busy work. And it’s the best way to clear your thoughts and organize your ideas.

A brain dump isn’t the only way to use pen and paper for clearing clutter from your mind. You can also keep a journal.

Though I love a good brain dump to process swirling thoughts, I realize that putting thoughts on paper for no one but ourselves has been around for ages.  Successful people throughout history have kept journals. There’s a reason why folks like Mark Twain, Ludwig van Beethoven, Leonardo da Vinci, Marie Curie,  Anais Nin, and Maya Angelou (to name a few) kept journals.

Though some of their private journals have since been published, that wasn’t the purpose for keeping then. Like you and me, they needed a process for thinking out-loud in a way that allowed them to clear their minds. And then later process their thoughts. Keeping a journal is a great way for clearing clutter from your mind.

And keeping a journal allows you to have a thoughtful conversation of sorts with yourself. To take your thoughts, worries, and dreams from the ether and see them in black and white. It’s a helpful way to deal with emotions. And later apply logic to a highly charged situation by being able to read your own thoughts later after things have settled down.

Science supports taking pen to paper as a way for clearing clutter from your mind.

According to research by professors by Pam Mueller and David Oppenheimer, students who took notes by hand rather than using a keyboard were better able to understand a subject rather than just the facts. And neurologist Judy Willis found that the practice of writing enhances the brain’s intake, processing, retaining and retrieving of information. While it also promoted the brain’s focus and boosted long-term memory.

So, whether you only use the brain dump process. Or decide to pair that with also keeping a journal of some sort, taking pen to paper is a sure-fire way to help you with clearing clutter from your mind.

When’s the best time of day clearing the clutter from your mind by taking pen to paper?

Whether you use just the brain dump process or keep a journal, having a regular practice is helpful. Creatives will recognize the approach of writing first thing in the morning by using a process called “morning pages” touted by Julia Cameron. According to your daily schedule, you may find writing at the end of the work day or before bed more beneficial.

If you feel you’re too busy to carve out time to write in a journal daily or do a daily brain dump, consider setting aside time once a week to take pen to paper as a way of clearing the clutter from your mind. Doing it in this way allows you to set a more powerful to do list for the coming week.

There are other times that are ripe for clearing clutter from your mind by taking pen to paper.
  • When you’re feeling overwhelmed, take five minutes to clear your head with a brain dump.
  • If you’re feeling burned out, it’s time to clear your mind to get to the core of what’s causing the burn out.
  • If you’ve experienced a big life change: a new job, a marriage, a divorce, a new baby? Taking pen to paper helps you get ahead of the curve.
  • When you begin a new project or set a new goal, taking time to process the project or goal into doable steps will be helpful.
  • And if you’ve experienced an emotional event and you need to get a grasp on the logical side of it, clearing clutter from your mind with a pen and a piece of paper is a way to step outside of the emotion and access logic.

Remember that your mind can easily go down the worse-case-scenario rabbit hole. When you take pen to paper you stop that descent. And get a handle on your thoughts and emotions.

If you worry about having privacy for taking pen to paper, you aren’t alone. But I have solutions

As someone that has had their privacy breached when my mother read my high school journals, I feel you. Yet, after that betrayal, I found my way back to the written word as a practice for loving myself and my life. I’ve kept a written journal in various forms for the last decade. And time and again, putting words on paper always heals me.

  • If a fancy journal feels too open to invasion, consider a plain spiral notebook. You can toss them into a drawer for later reference. Or shred your writing at the end of each session.
  • Consider a more bullet-journal method. In addition to a written journal for thoughts and goals and dreams, I keep a separate bullet journal that more resembles a collection of to-do lists.
  • You can use the index card method. Putting thoughts onto index cards, organizing them into a to-do list, and then tossing them afterwards.
  • Last, but not least, though all the research points to there being more power with pen and paper, you can write in a Word file on your computer. You can password protect the document. Or delete it.

No matter how busy your life may feel. Or how calm your life may be on the average day. There will be moments when the swirling thoughts become too much and you need help clearing clutter from your mind.

Making fajitas is really another form or stir-fry. Take meat and sear it. Add veggies. Serve. The trick to make them WOW instead of blah is all in the spice. Oh, and Tequila because, well, Tequila adds another depth of flavor.  Here's my new favorite recipe for Chicken Fajitas.

Take 1 ½ pounds of boneless skinless chicken breast and cut into thin strips.

In a container that you will be marinating the chicken in, combine the juice of ½ of a lime, ½ cup of orange juice, ¼ cup of tequila, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and 1 tsp Garlic powder, 1 tsp  Onion powder, 3/4 teaspoon Cumin, 3/4 teaspoon  Oregano, 1/2 teaspoon Coarse ground Black Pepper) and combine well.

Add the chicken to the marinade and coat well. (I use a shallow container and shake it)  It needs to marinade for at least thirty-minutes, but is best overnight (I make chicken two nights in a row often, so while I'm chopping chicken into bite sized pieces for an Italian meal, I slice up the chicken for the fajitas, too.).

When you’re ready to make the fajitas, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a dutch oven and put on high. (I've gone to using a dutch oven because I splatter less than when I use a skillet).  Carefully remove the chicken from the marinade and add it to the hot pan. (discard the marinade).

Stir and cook on high until the chicken is nicely seared on all sides. 

Now add 1 thinly sliced onion and 1 sliced bell pepper (red, green, or a mixture.) and stir until the vegetables begin to soften.

While the veggies cook, combine the juice of the other half of lime, ¼ cup of orange juice, tablespoon of tequila along with another teaspoon of garlic, freshly ground pepper and cumin. Toss this into the pan and simmer on low until veggies and chicken are completely tender. (about 4 minutes)

Serve in soft tortillas. I love to serve these with fresh diced tomatoes or chunky salsa, shredded lettuce, and slices of avocado or guacamole. And sometimes a little cojita or cheddar cheese.

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 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

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.


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

Spring Cleaning & Clearing 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, April 14, 2019

This course is Lifetime Access

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

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


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

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
Copyright © 2019 Debra Smouse - Create a Life You Love, All rights reserved.

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