The Art of Living
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“I define art in the broadest sense -
it is every possible medium
of human expression.
It is in what you say and how you say it. 
It is in using
the rich resources of  your senses
to connect with the beauty in life.
The art is in the message
and in the medium you use to express it.
Art is simply the name
for how you live your life
and how you tell others
what you think and feel. ”

--- Sandra Magsamen


I went to the library earlier this week, <<Name>>. Something I do regularly. But this time, I paused a moment to sit on the little bench outside and really SEE what I pass multiple times a month: the delight and beauty of this statue outside.

It reminded me of being a little girl, fresh from the library (or the bookstore) with a big stack of books just waiting for me to dive in. This sculpture is huge, taller than the building and I then begin to wonder about the process of creating this sculpture.

How amazing is it to take paint or raw material like this bronze and turn it into something new? I am not an artist in that way. I now some amazing artists  and my oldest daughter is incredible when it comes to expressing herself with sketches.  But just because I'm not an artist in that sense doesn't mean I can't live in a way that is artful.

Artful living is about the choice to recognize the beauty in the every day. 

The last couple of weeks, I’ve put a new Sunday routine in place. I take a half hour (or so) to make salads in individual containers. (By the way, a half a paper towel tossed into the container will keep the lettuce from getting slimy later in the week).  Enough salads to get JB through the full week of lunches as well as a couple for me, too.

Then, I dice fruit. Again, in individual containers so they are ready to just grab and go.

Each morning, I have a set routine: I warm water in the teakettle, unload the dishwasher, make coffee, and pack JB’s lunch. When I do my Sunday prep, making lunches is pure assembly. (Something I wish I understood when my kids were little).

(And, yes. He is perfectly capable of doing this himself. No, I don’t mind doing it. Researches call these small acts of love and kindness towards our spouses and partners “love nuggets”.)

This prep on Sundays gives me about five extra minutes in the morning. And you know what I’m doing that five extra minutes? I’m sitting at the dining room table with my first cup of coffee and simply enjoying it.

I get such pleasure from those moments. The sun hasn’t quite risen yet, there is no neighborhood activity or golfers, and I’ve just completed my most hated task of the day (unloading the dishwasher).

At first, I grabbed a paper towel to set my coffee cup on. Then, the last time I was at my favorite grocery store, I purchased  a package of beautiful cocktail napkins.

This small addition to this precious five minutes of just me and my coffee has made it feel even more delightful and nourishing.
This is what I mean by artful living. Those tiny things we do that make life just a little more beautiful, a little more enticing.
It’s different for everyone. Maybe it’s the way you make a delicious meal and then pleasantly arrange the food on your plate. (we do eat with our eyes first). Possibly it’s noticing the detail of the architecture in your home. Or, like me and the library, something artful about a building we pass every day.
Like the artist armed with paint or wax or pencils - we can create an artful life by choice.

We can eat out of beautiful dishes.  We can adorn ourselves with a striking necklace.  We can listen to music that makes us want to dance. We can choose a beautiful handbag or pair of shoes for every day - or a one time occasion.

It's your one precious time on this planet and you get to choose how you live it. 

And like art, the way we live may not be pleasing to all the other souls existing on this planet.  Our idea of living artfully may not be another's ideal of living artfully.

And, baby, that's OK.  We don't have to please others with our choices.  We only need to know within our own hearts that what we have chosen is right for us.

So, tell me, darling: what about you. How might you bring artful living into your life? What would a little Sunday prep mean for you? What buildings do you pass daily that have beautiful features that you haven’t really seen?  What would having five extra minutes in the morning do for your sense of peace?

What details can you pay attention to in order to bring beauty to your daily life? How can seeing the approach “artful living” shift your daily life?

My wish for you on this beautiful Saturday is that you live it by choosing love and seeing the art in the existence of the everyday.

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...........

From the blog: Ten Reasons Why Working At Home Is Both Awesome And Horrible. I have been self-employed since 2003. Though I occasionally took project to put me in a client’s brick and mortar offices, for the bulk of that time I have used my home as my base of operations. I love the freedom of working from home. But sometimes, there is too much freedom. Or, if I were honest, sometimes it feels confining. In fact, I can tell you ten reasons why working at home is both awesome and horrible.

One – When you work at home, you don’t have to commute.

Not having to commute to work can be such a blessing. It helps you save money. It means that on a rainy or snow day, you can still get to work with ease.  Not having to commute can also help you manage stress: no traffic snarls or crazy drivers.

Not needing to commute is another reason why working at home is both awesome and horrible. You can see all the wonderful reasons, but yes, there are drawbacks. That’s because often, our commute time is a point of transition in our day.

The boundary of a commute helps us delineate our Work Self from our Personal Self.

That’s because sometimes we need our commute time to work to leave family troubles behind us. And we use that morning commute to the office as a way to strategize and prepare for the day ahead. We may also need our commute time to transition from the demands of work.

Sometime, just being alone in the car gives us the quiet time we need. Or, we can use that commute time for good music, an audio book, or a favorite podcast. Without a commute, it can mean that we struggle more with our work/life balance.

Two – Another great example of why working at home is both awesome and horrible? You can wear whatever you want when you work from home.

The old adage for those first work at home positions was that you could work in your pajamas. This can sound so appealing! You can get up, throw on whatever, and not even have to shower. I mean, who sees you, right?

You know who sees you? YOU see yourself.

There is a certain level of pride when you take time with your appearance. Going days without putting on decent clothes or make-up may feel like freedom, but it can also take a toll on your self-esteem. (Especially if you suddenly have to think: when did I shower?)

How you look can affect your productivity, too. A study by Harvard found that students who put on make-up before a test had higher scores. In fact, their scores were 20% higher than those who didn’t wear make-up. So, if you wear your rattiest sweats and haven’t showered in days, how productive are you really?

This is why working at home is both awesome and horrible. There’s freedom to wear what you want, but that isn’t always a good thing. That’s why one of my non-negotiable standards for myself is to get dressed every day.

No, I don’t dress like I would if I were going into the office, but I do ensure I put on clothes that look nice. And yes, I put on make-up and jewelry everyday too.

Three – You aren’t tied to a desk.

When I first started working at home, I had to carve out a space to work. That’s because I needed a place for my computer. Remember those old towers and big monitors? Not very portable! In order to work from home, I had to define a space to work. Something I believe is important for anyone who works from home.

Yet despite my belief that you need  a defined space to work, with a laptop, I’m not tied to my desk anymore. As long as I have my laptop (and an internet connection) I can get work done. That’s something I am so grateful for, because that gives me the freedom to travel with JB.

But not being tied to my desk is why working at home is both awesome and horrible. Because that means I can also work on the couch or the kitchen table. I can take my laptop out on the porch on a beautiful day.

And anytime I work someplace that isn’t my office, I just don’t get as much work done. It’s just so easy to get distracted. And no whee I work is set up for efficiency like my desk. I’m not as focused or as productive.

Four – You may think that working from bed sounds awesome!

For someone that has a auto-immune disorder or other illness, the ability to work from bed means that they can actually do some work. Maybe not full time work, but it opens up the opportunity to do some work. I believe that’s a fabulous advantage of our modern connected society.

If you don’t have an illness, the ability to work from bed may sound like the ultimate lifestyle for ease. And sure, you can. But honestly, do you think you can get much work done there? Truly?

Because unless you have an illness, if you begin working from bed, before long you’ll lose the ability to set good boundaries for your business life and your personal life. Besides, you should do two things in your bed: sleep and have sex – not work. Other activities done in the bedroom can interfere with sleep cycles, too.

To live a life that’s centered and on track, the best advice I can give you when it comes to working in bed is not to. Setting this type of boundary for yourself will help you make working from home feel more than horrible.

Five – You may think that working at home means you can tend children and pets.

When I first started working from home, I had (young-ish) children. During the school year, it meant I was available for after school pick up and getting them started on homework.  Summer vacations and sick days were another story.

Who can get work done when your kiddo suddenly pops up and begins talking to you?

And yes, that’s another reason why working at home is both awesome and horrible. You can be there for your children. You can be there to let the dog out. But, let’s be honest here: if your children and pets are home, are you really getting any work done?

Both your work and your family deserve your presence. When you’re trying to split your focus, there’s no way anyone gets your full attention.

One solution is to hire a babysitter or nanny. That has its pitfalls, too. Studies found that children whose parents worked from home often felt rejected, even if they had a nanny. Because they KNEW mom was home and they felt ignored.

It’s not always a win-win. There will always be “mom guilt” no matter if you work at an office, from home, or are a stay at home mom.

Six – You’re available for the cable guy or Maytag repairman.

One of the pluses of working from home is that you’re home if any kind of repairman or delivery person needs to come to your house. And yes, that’s a good thing. Until it isn’t.

This is why working at home is both awesome and horrible. Because family members and friends expect you to be home. And though teleworking is becoming more commonplace, often folks think that because you are at home, you can take care of anything that needs tending.

Folks will say things like “Well, you work from home. It’s not like you have a real job….”

I mean, you ARE home, aren’t you? How much trouble could it be to deal with the Maytag Repairman, the landscaping guy, and sign for that UPS deliver that needs a signature? You know?

Um. Because you need to get your work done. That’s why it’s a downside. Research tells us that it takes twenty-three minutes to get refocused on a task once we’ve been interrupted.

Seven – Another reason why working at home is both awesome and horrible is that you can throw on a load of laundry anytime.

Not only can you throw on a load of laundry, you can start dinner, too! I do love that about working from home. But from experience, I can tell you that it’s so easy to get distracted when I stop to do a quick chore.

Sure, it only takes a couple of minutes to start a load of laundry. But one chore begets another chore and thanks to the snowball effect, you’ve lost hours of your work day.

The ability to pop a load of laundry in the washer can also lead to believing watching just one episode of a favorite show on Netflix won’t keep you from hitting your deadlines… (wink, wink)

Eight – You don’t get immersed in office politics.

While office politics can be fascinating at time, usually they’re frustrating. Not being in the office can sometimes insulate you from having to deal with them. However, not dealing with office politics can also equate not knowing what’s happening in the office.

That can put you in a disconnect with your team.

The challenge to teamwork and comradery can erode when folks aren’t physically together. In fact, some tech companies like Yahoo cut back on allowing employees to telecommute because of how it negatively affected teams.

Nine – You can get so much work done when no one is around to bug you.

I’m sure I’m not the only one that has lost an hour of work time thanks to a chatty co-worker. Once, I had a coworker who was always so talkative, I began putting files in my visitor chair so she wouldn’t park herself there every morning. Working at home, though, can be isolating and lonely.

We are humans and wired to connect to other humans. Feeling isolated and lonely can affect your self-esteem and frankly, your mental health.

This also explains why so many people work at Starbucks. Last year, I was curious about seeing the same folks “office-ing” in Starbucks no matter what time of day I popped in for coffee. So I asked them. This informal poll gave me two big answers. First, it was too isolating at home, so being at Starbucks gave them “co-workers”. Two, it was too quiet at home and the background noise in Starbucks reminded them of working in an office. This allowed them to be more productive at Starbucks.

That’s why working at home is both awesome and horrible whether you are an extrovert or not. Being alone all the time isn’t always a plus for productivity.

By the way, you may think that your family is the only “people” you need to see every day. And sure, that helps you from feeling isolated. But your family can’t be your only people day after day.

Ten – You can work anytime you want.

If you work for a company, you may have set hours when you’re expected to be logged into your workstation. If you don’t have set hours – or are self-employed like me – that means you can pretty much set your own hours. And work whenever you feel like it.

On the surface that sounds like an immense amount of freedom. It is.  That freedom helps me love being self-employed.

On the flip side, though, if you can work anytime you want, it’s easy to find yourself working when you’re supposed to be “off”. You know, staying up late to work on a project. Deciding to check email on a Sunday afternoon and find yourself sitting at your desk three hours later.

It can also be hard to be disciplined enough to actually work. (Hello procrastination, thy name is Netflix). That’s why you need systems to help you ensure that your work is done during whatever hours you designate for work.

Know, too, that without having a physical delineation of your home and your business, it can be a challenge to set or keep boundaries between work time and personal time. And boundaries, my dear, are a wonderful thing.

That’s just ten of the reasons why working at home is both awesome and horrible.

It remind me that although I love being able to work at home, it isn’t for everyone. My home office is set up in such a way to enable me to get my best work accomplished. However, I am not immune to the pitfalls. Working from home isn’t always an ideal situation.

I’ve discovered that to make working at home actually work for me, I need a tidy space to work, good systems, and a healthy dose of awareness. Those boundaries keep me on track help me make working from home actually work for me, my business, and my family.

What if I could help you make working from home more awesome than horrible?  Join me for:
Home Office Edition: Clearing Clutter & Creating Systems for Entrepreneurs and Others Who Office At Home.

One of the best thing about summer is all the local tomatoes!  It's the tail-end of local tomato season and I'm grabbing all the delicious and luscious goodness there is to be offered. 

I'm trying to find ways to use the tomatoes besides tossed on a salad or on their own and here are a couple of recipes I've played with.

The first is for oil-poached tomatoes.  You can make oil-poached tomatoes with any tomatoes you've got around. I made them with a combination of grape and cherry tomatoes. What results are these velvety soft and fragrant bites that are the utmost essence of summer.

Slice tomatoes in half and season them with kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, and (of course) at my house:  a dozen cloves of minced garlic!  Put the seasoned tomatoes in a shallow pan (and in a single layer).  Completely cover with olive oil (yes, cover) and put in a 225 degree oven for about an hour. 

After they have begun to cool a little, use a slotted spatula or spoon to separate the tomatoes from the oil.  You'll get a little bit of the oil as you separate them, but that's OK.  Especially if you're going to serve them over pasta!  Do NOT discard the oil.  Oh, no.  Use this oil to make an amazing vinaigrette dressing - or store it in the fridge for sauteing chicken (or both).

You can also store the tomatoes in the fridge for about a week in a sealed container.

Next up: Oven Roasted Tomatoes.  It's a similar concept, but without all the olive oil! This time I used orange and red cherry tomatoes.  Slice them in half and season them with Kosher salt, pepper, garlic, and some dried Italian Seasonings (fresh herb fan? Thyme and Rosemary will stand up to the oven roasting, but Basil will burn...).  Put them in a single layer in a pan and barely drizzle some olive oil over them (I used about 2 tablespoons on three pints of tomatoes).  Put them in the oven on 225 for 90 minutes.

Now these?  I topped flat-iron steaks with these and a touch of feta cheese...and froze half the batch for a "rainy day".  These can also be stored in the fridge for about a week.

These would also be great as a side dish to quiche or eggs, for pasta, on chicken or even a hearty fish, like salmon or halibut.

What sounded complicated to me turned out to be simple AND a way to grab those last drops of summer. Let me know if you give either - or both- methods a try!

Volume 8 -Issue 16

August 04, 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 fall in love with their lives.

A native Texan, she resides in Ohio with the Man of her Dreams. Get social with Debra on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Also from the blog

That’s the thing about life: it’s always changing. If our goal is to love ourselves and our life, then sometimes we have to make tough and painful decisions.

Even if we know that it’s the right decision, it’s still a major change and we have to find our way back. Because those hard decisions are painful. And may make you feel a little lost.

Read ==> How to Love Your Life Again After a Major Life Change.

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

Home Office Edition

Clearing Clutter & Creating Systems for Entrepreneurs and Others Who Office At Home

Working from home isn’t always easy. There are distractions abound – neighbors, the postman, the laundry, Netflix…. So, don’t let the clutter add to your distractions.

Working from home can give you a sense of freedom you’ll never find in a cubicle. So the creation of systems will help you feel free because you’ll be supported by a structure that fits your needs.

It begins Monday, September 10th (and as a bonus, repeat the course for free twice in 2019)

Sign Up 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

Love Yourself
More & Monitor
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.

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

30 Traits of a
Sex Kitten

As part of my new blog project, I'm revising some old blog posts to update them.  This one is an old topic, but all new ;-)

In the process of reinventing myself — all thanks to channeling my sex kitten — I’ve learned to hone the traits that still make her the best version of who I am and who I long to be.

Here are 30 personality traits of women who consider themselves to be "sex kittens":


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

Create Your Vision

Tired of feeling as if you’re just surviving your own life? Take charge of your existence and thrive!

In Clearing Soul Clutter: Creating Your Vision, you'll find a series of 30 intuitive lessons, you’ll learn how to envision a nourishing life and make your dreams come true. It’s time to stop letting life happen to you and start doing something about it.

If you like challenging new ideas, actionable teaching, and caring guidance, then you’ll love this life-changing book.

Order via Amazon or if you are in the US, you can order directly from me.

(I'm also offering a special combo of Clearing Soul Clutter & Clearing Brain Clutter)

Best Decisions

Enlisting Deb’s coaching services has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. She is truly an expert de-tangler. I started out with a “Declutter” course at the recommendation of a fellow writer, and as soon as she began offering Make Your Inner Sex Kitten Roar, I was intrigued. I appreciate her honesty, encouragement and her openness. She has a way of seeing things that you can’t see for yourself and is a whiz at breaking bigger dreams into manageable chunks that will get you to where you want to be faster than you thought possible.

I had a very tough few years and have been wanting to get my “oomph” back. Well, with Deb’s help, I’ve found it again! My husband agrees with my assessment and has seen a noticeable change in me since working with Deb. To quote him, “I don’t care how much it costs, keep working with her, because it’s working!”

Rachel B. Kain, Writer & So Much More

Your Heart's Desire

Are you ready to finally know what you want out of life? Discover the unique path to your own heart and soul.

By taking 30 days to dive into your heart’s desires, you can learn how to overcome your highly-stressed life to connect to your deepest wants and needs. Clearing Brain Clutter: Discovering Your Heart's Desire is perfect for people who truly want to reclaim their lives for purpose and passion.

If you like actionable advice, effective workbooks, and crystal-clear guidance on what’s holding you back, then you’ll love this book.

Order via Amazon or if you are in the US, you can order directly from me.

(I'm also offering a special combo of Clearing Soul Clutter & Clearing Brain Clutter)

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

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