Courage, happiness, and kitchen sink pasta
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So why do I talk about
the benefits of failure?
Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential.
I stopped pretending to myself
that I was anything other
than what I was,
and began to direct all my energy
into finishing the only work
that mattered to me.”

J.K. Rowling

Good morning, <<Name>> and happy Saturday! How has your week been? It's been really beautiful here in Ohio...and I've been spending as much time out on the deck as possible. There's something about fresh air and quiet time that allow me to read and think.

And that's a good thing. This week, for example, I re-read Very Good Lives by J.K. Rowling. And read her thoughts on why failure isn't fatal, but a good teacher.

Which, though knowing, I wonder if I've explored the benefits of my failures.

Like many of you,  I have learned many lessons in my lifetime, but when it comes to failure, my go to thoughts and actions aren't about finding the golden threads, but just moving forward and doing my best to simply forget about the missteps in life.s

When I was a little girl, was always good at school and thanks to academically succeeding, anything I didn't do well on a first attempt, I decided it wasn't for me. (Like roller skating).

Basically, if I couldn't do something really well, then pursuing it seemed like a painful path and a waste of time. Because, of course, why would I do something if I wasn't good at it?

The girl I was at twenty was terrified of failure of any kind. Failure would lead to being uncomfortable. Failure would lead to ridicule. Failure would lead to shame.

When I was in my thirties and smack-dab in the middle of a miserable marriage, I didn't divorce for a very long time through the miserable years because getting a divorce would be admitting that I had failed at something. Not only would it be admitting it, it would be shouting to THE WORLD (and family and friends and the judge) that I hadn't been successful at maintaining my marriage.

Then, when I finally got the courage to get the divorce, the protective shell around failure cracked a little.

Though the shell had cracked on the whole threshold to failure comfort, I don't think I got really comfortable with it until I began to play golf again. I have never been an athletic person. Sports of any kind highlighted my awkwardness and my inability to toss a ball or swing a bat. But at 40, I finally allowed myself to go into something and just do it - fail or succeed.

Golf showed me the way. It was the stripping away of the inessential like Rowling mentions that taught me about failure: in golf it's only me, my club, and the ball and my only goal is to move the ball down the course.

I direct my energy and focus on that single task. That's it.

Learning to enjoy playing golf  allowed me to finally be OK with enjoying something I'm not good at.  And that parlayed into being able to become a little braver when it comes to taking chances. To take more leaps of faith....and know that if I succeeded, it would be wonderful - and if I failed - it would still be OK.

Now, though, I'm beginning to see that there is maybe there's a value in looking back at some of those failures I've swept under the rugs in the past - to identify the essentials I had stripped myself down to when I moved forward.

Because acknowledging that has deep value. Stripping away the trappings of needing to be right allows us to find our direction and focus our energy.  It allows us to get clear about what really matters to us.

It allows us to find beauty in our lives.

So, tell me, darling, what about you? How do you feel about failure? Has a failure ever taught you something that shifted you towards your best path? In what way has being stripped down to the essentials shown you what's important?

And what could taking some time to simply SIT and BE allow you to ponder how allowing yourself to experience pleasure in something you may never master can be a blessing.

And on that note, my dear, I hope you are finding your own way to be yourself. It's spring, the flowers are blooming, and there are ample opportunities to dive into finding those little pleasures that make life feel richer.

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 - Finally Love Your Life began last week. But you can still join as late as Sunday, June 9th.  Code lovemein2019 will save you 25%

From the blog:If Happiness is a Choice Why Are So Many People Miserable?

When I ask someone what they want, the most common supply is simply to be happy. And while I believe that happiness is a choice, I know it’s not that simple. Because if it were an easy choice, deciding to be happy would be something more folks would do. Right?

What I know to be true is that while these concepts sound simple, like can be more complicated. But that doesn’t mean I don’t believe happiness is an impossibility. Nor do I believe that wanting to be happy is useless. In fact, I believe it’s at the core of loving your life.

If you want happiness to be a choice you are able to make? Then understanding what’s keeping you from being able to choose happiness. And how to remedy that is helpful.

Is happiness an emotion?

Happiness is an emotion, but not something that can be so easily described as such. Rather, it’s an overarching description of positive or pleasant emotions that can range from joy to elation to even simple contentment. It’s important to know this in the context of exploring if happiness is a choice. Because if you aren’t happy, learning to identify every emotion exactly is the key to disentangling that.

Know that emotions are fleeting. Some last longer than others, but it’s practically impossible to maintain the experience of a single emotion or feeling state an entire day. The same goes for any emotion – good or bad – pleasant or unpleasant. Personally, I experience a positive emotion I identify as a shade of happiness every day. Even though it doesn’t last ALL day.

So, part of being able to choosing to be happy is to define the wide range of emotions that can signal overall happiness and satisfaction with your life. And recognizing that you can experience joy, delight, elation, giddiness, and contentment throughout your day when you live with a awareness.

Why happiness is NOT a choice for everyone.

Before we dig too deeply into choosing happiness, it’s important to note that not everyone is capable of choosing happiness. If you have been diagnosed with clinical depression, without help such as medication and therapy, you may not be able to experience any level of happiness.

This may also be the case in other situations. If you are living in an abusive situation. Or lost in the mires of grief or serious illness. And in cases of severe stress, being able to experience an inkling of positive emotions. Or maybe you feel invisible in the fabric of your very life. Those are all challenging experiences.

This is not to say that it’s a lost cause. I simply believe that knowledge is power. And allows you to make better decisions to experience what you desire.

And that’s important. Because a 2017 study found that being able to experience an emotion you find desirable makes you happier about your life overall. So, knowing how you want to feel coupled with identifying your emotions can allow you to make improvements.

What are other causes of not being able to choose happiness?

So, what if you’re miserable, yet don’t have depression? What if you’re more often dissatisfied than not, yet live in a safe home with a fairly low stress level?

It’s possible you’re addicted to negativity. Which isn’t as hard as it sounds. According to the book Hardwiring Happiness by Rick Hanson, our brains are wired to look for the bad. Hanson says that the brain is like Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for good ones. This negativity bias causes the brain to react intensively to bad news compared how the brain responds to good news.

And unfortunately, this becomes habit. An addition of sorts.

That doesn’t mean you can’t change that, though. But we can counter the brain’s negativity bias — which triggers us to form stronger bad memories than good ones — by appreciating and lingering on those tiny, positive moments. Kind of like soaking your brain in pleasant, positive emotions.

This is why gratitude works on the brain. You’re rinsing and repeating good experiences for your brain.

How do you choose to be happy?

Making the decision to be happy (or at least happier) is important. According to two small studies published in the Journal of Positive Psychology in 2013 found that simply trying to BE happier can elevate your experiences. In the experiment, those who tried to be happier after listening to happy music were actually happier.

When you decide you’re going to choose to be happy, you begin looking for evidence that you can be happy. In Hardwiring Happiness, Hanson also says “We’re surrounded by opportunities — 10 seconds here or 20 seconds there — to just register useful experiences and learn from them. People don’t do that when they could.”  Registering these fleeting experiences as happy ones proves to your brain you can choose happiness.

Again, this is why a gratitude practice is important. Because you will actively seek the good things in your average, ordinary days.

You can also rig things in the favor of seeing that happiness is a choice for you by taking action in your life that is helpful to experiencing more positive emotions.

Because how our mornings begin can set the tone for the whole day, getting up earlier helps set yourself up to begin the day on a positive note. Empowering and meaningful morning routines allow you to begin the day on your terms.

Folks also tend to be happier when they feel accomplished. And when you’ve already decided you’re going to be happy, then you can put your attention on pursuing a goal that’s important to you. And accomplishing at least one important task each day can allow you to feel pride in your yourself.

What is the true key to happiness?

When you decide that you’re going to  do your best to see happiness as a choice, you open the door to true happiness. In order to do that, my dear, that demands that you define what happiness means for you. Dig into all the layers of emotions that you see as positive and meaningful. And seek to sprinkle your daily life with experiences that allow you to access those various emoticons.

Happiness is a choice that most of you can make. And you deserve to live a life that is loving and nourishing. And sometimes, that means that you must do the work to pave the way for that.
Despite my sheer love of grocery shopping, I'm not immune to throwing together a "kitchen sink" meal from time to time. Last Saturday was one of those thrown together meals as we had Crab Cakes and Summer Veggie Pasta.

First, look in your vegetable crisper and see if anything is looking a little bit on the edges of sadness. You know what I mean, right? The tomatoes may be starting to pucker or the spinach expired yesterday. Or maybe there's half an onion or just one ear of corn....

Begin by chopping all your veggies. Last Saturday this meant: a pint of grape tomatoes (halved), half of a yellow onion (diced), half of a purple onion (diced), half of a red bell pepper (sliced into thin strips), and two small ears of (organic) corn, with kernels stripped from cobs.

Spice your tomatoes: a sprinkle of kosher salt, garlic powder, fresh ground pepper, and a dash of Italian Seasonings.

In a small pot, begin to heat your water for your pasta.

Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a Dutch oven and heat until oil is hot. Toss in the sturdiest veggies first (onions, bell peppers) and once the onions begin to soften and become translucent, reduce heat to medium and add the tomatoes. 

Put your pasta on to begin cooking (set your timer!)

Stir and cover so that the tomatoes begin to break down, then add the corn kernels (if you are using summer squashes now would be the time to add them).

Saute for about 2 minutes. Now add any leafy greens - I added an entire container of spinach plus a few leaves of fresh basil. MIX the greens into the hot veggies, replace the lid and remove from heat. Let it sit for about three minutes to give spinach a chance to wilt.)

(We also had a few stalks of asparagus. I tossed them into the veggie pot on top after I added the spinach so they could just wilt, but I could separate them from the rest of the veggies.

Drain pasta and either mix in with veggies or plate your pasta and top with veggies. Add fresh grind of pepper and SERVE.

As I mentioned, we had this with crab cakes with this pasta and here's a confession:  I purchased just two pre-made from fine folks at Dorothy Lane Market. Seriously, I love crab cakes and salmon cakes, but sometimes, it's easier to just buy two (especially if you know they were made with quality ingredients) instead of going through the process of making a dozen only for them to go bad in the fridge because you couldn't eat them all.  I topped the crab cakes with just a spoon of homemade mayo.

Our grocery stores are often a great source of quick to the table proteins - like these crab cakes or rotisserie chicken that can be quickly shredded.

Volume 9-Issue 12

June 08, 2019

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

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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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to Join me for the Inaugural Run of Finally Love
Your Life

If happiness, ease, consistency, and grace are what you long for, I’m here to tell you that it’s nowhere near as hard as it seems.

Where you are on this journey is a part of the universal experience you must go through to find your own version of happily ever after. No one can do it for you, AND if you want to be happy, you must do it for yourself.

I know what it takes to walk this path, because I’ve done it. To help the women in my life, I pulled together my best tips, tricks, and life hacks that took me from barely hanging on to thriving in my own life.

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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

Also from the Blog

Have you taken a little tumble down the Rabbit Hole of "shoulds" and "coulds" and "Woulds"?

Read ==> If You’ve Fallen Down the Rabbit Hole: 17 Ways to Climb Out

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

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My most popular coaching package as it allows us to spend 12 months together. We build trust and get to know each other intimately.

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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.

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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

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.

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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

What can you do when you begin feeling overwhelmed?

Read ==> Six Action Steps to Take When You Begin Feeling Overwhelmed

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.

~Michael Ehrler, Business Coach

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