Looking for Hope
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That come before the swallow dares, and take
The winds of March with beauty.”
-William Shakespeare

Good morning my dear <<Name>>.  I'm writing to you on Saturday morning again. When things are daffodils"normal" my general goal is to have this newsletter written by 10 AM on Fridays. But to be honest, I am just worn out. (As an Extrovert, I need a lot more outside stimulation than is possible right now.)

And outside my journal, any kind of writing is coming slowly. So. Very. Slowly. And while that is frustrating me in all kinds of ways, I am giving myself lots of grace to simply manage what is.

And accept that the world outside my door feels scary and uncertain. Which means I am allowed to respond in a way that is true and honest to myself.

I share this because as a coach, I am "supposed" to have it all together. And I "should" have all the answers. And this newsletter should be sharing all kinds of wisdom to help you manage these challenging times.

The truth of the matter is, of course, that I don't know everything, have all the answers, or have it 100% together. Rather, what I can share with you is that you have your answers within you on how YOU need to the parkmanage these challenges.

No, my darling, I'm not talking about ALL the answers. What you do have is an inner knowledge of how to soothe yourself.  And the ability to do what I've been doing: extend yourself grace. And give yourself permission to FEEL all your feelings without judgement.

Yes, without judgement. Rather, I would encourage you to approach your reactions with curiosity and compassion.

While I don't have all the answers, I can tell you what I've been doing to manage my own mind, heart, and soul.

Though a lot of creative folks are touting how great creators created GREAT works during a pandemic/quarantine (The observation that Shakespeare wrote “King Lear” and “Macbeth” while in quarantine during a plague has frequently been touted as an example of creativity blossoming through crisis.), I am reminding myself that I don't have to use this time to push myself to produce more. And I'm not going to feel guilty if the number of words I get written on my next book don't reflect that.

I am, however, writing in my journal every day. Even if it's just a bullet list of how I'm feeling and what tasks I've accomplished that day. Lists are soothing. And the reminder of how I feel during these days - frustrated, hopeful, angry, sad, loved, etc. is good for me now, and good to refer back to.

I am doing a lot of light reading. When it comes to books, I am re-reading a romance series by Johanna Lindsey after I heard of her passing earlier this year. I am reading a lot of mysteries, especially the "cozy" genre. And some memoir.  I am especially loving the cookbook "Deep Run Roots" which is really more Harold the Squirrelmemoir with recipes. The news is heavy enough without me trying to read "serious" books.

I am getting outside at every opportunity. I know this isn't an option for everyone and know I am super lucky in this regard. I am walking to the mailbox and admiring the spouts of flowers in my yard. And a trip to the park to take a walk or even sit in my car with the sunshine coming in my window if it's too cold or there are too many people feels soul-nourishing. With spring finally arriving, the days with sunshine feel hopeful and helpful.

I am cooking and cleaning. These household tasks are soothing and allow me to gain a small modicum of feeling in control of my environment.

I am talking about how I'm doing, how I'm feeling, and what thoughts are bubbling up. I am doing this with JB. With trusted friends (thank you Voxer!). And, of course, with my own coach. As an extrovert, I often need to SPEAK to figure out my thoughts. And while I have trained myself to do this on the written page (thus my journal), I still need to be HEARD.

I am also being a person who LISTENS. We ALL need to be heard. And that's one of the things I'm discovering many folks are missing: someone to simply TALK to about how they are feeling, what they are thinking, and to ensure that they matter. JB and I are still having our daily "wine hour" at the end of the work day. And I am listening when friends need to talk. The other day on a video call with a friend, I even chatted daffodils by the pondwith her daughter - who is 5 and just wanted to share some new facts she learned with someone.

Being witnessed and heard during times of crisis can be important to maintaining our sense of self. So, I've extended discounts to all my clients - and am offering half-price sessions for anyone that just needs a little chat.

I know that you may be feeling all kinds of things: anger, frustration, grief, hope, exhausted, grateful, and a myriad of emotions. Don't berate yourself for not being productive. Or having any emotion that flits your way. Please give yourself more grace, more compassion, and more love.

Look to the sunshine when you can. Remember that spring is here and the days will become longer.

Keep an eye on my blog this week. I have an article coming for Extroverts on how to manage so much isolation. As well as one for Introverts, too. 

Please stay home so that we can get to the other-side of this. I want you and yours to stay safe. And, remember that I'm just an email away. Reach out if you are needing some connection. 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 working on a new eBook for subscribers and hope to get that out this soon. Hopefully by this time next week.

From the blog: Knowing Your Myers-Briggs Personality Type Can Help You Be Happier and Manage Your Stress. Do you want to know one of the best steps you can make towards not only creating a life that you love, but opening up to happiness? Then, darling, you need to get really clear on who you are, and what makes you tick. The process began for me when I took my first Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator test.

This will be so helpful as we self-quarantine. Because when you know yourself well, it helps you manage how you react to crisis and stress.

The Myers-Briggs test is a derivative of Carl Jung’s Theory of Psychological Types. Others have put their spin on Jung’s work, including Archetypal Work, Keirsey Temperament Sorter, and more. The latest to dive into the origin work is 16 Personalities, an incredibly well put together website that will give you powerful results.

After taking the test (again), I immediately sent the website link to several clients.

Look in the Mirror

Since I began my study of human interaction and followed the desires to understand who I was, I came to recognize that these kinds of tests (and their results) aren’t there to label me or box me in. No, darling, instead, getting the results is like looking in the mirror and recognizing myself.

Getting those four little letters that describe you isn’t a death sentence; it’s  like receiving a big old permission slip to simply own WHO YOU ARE.

I don’t make the statement that getting clear on who you are and what makes you tick as an off-hand kind of remark. I see it more as Gospel.

Permission to own who you are is critical to loving life. That’s why I don’t see learning about yourself as navel-gazing, but one of the most important things you can do for yourself. Why?

Because too often, we set out, not to be the best version of who we were born to be, but instead we attempt to completely change who we are in the hope that others will love us.

Let’s be as nakedly honest, sugar: you will never feel like you belong, or that you are worthy of being loved, or that you deserve to achieve your dreams if you are always trying to be different from who you are.

I want to be crystal clear: I’m not saying that we don’t all have areas of improvement; what I’m saying is that if you try to force yourself or morph yourself into someone else just so that others will like you, or because you think it will make you more successful, you will never find peace or true happiness.

I’ll use myself as an example. My Myers-Briggs personality type is ENTJ. What that means is:
  • E vs I: I am an Extrovert, which means that I gain energy being around others and often “think” out-loud. (Which often means I SPEAK before thinking). This has nothing to do with people skills. The opposite of E is I, for introvert.
  • N vs S: I am iNtuitive instead of a Sensor. I gather information in an intuitive manner, which means I like facts and the underlying theories and principles that make up data. Sensors trust information taken in via their senses and that fact fuels their data processing.
  • T vs F: When it comes to decision making and coping with my emotions, I am a Thinker. That means when it comes to making decisions, I go for facts, figures, patterns, logic, cause and effect. I like rationality. Feelers are the opposite of T’s. They make decisions based on empathy, balance, harmony, fit, and the needs of the people involved.
  • J vs P: When it comes to tactics, I am a Judgment gal. I like plans, rules and guidelines. I desire closure. Those on the opposite side are Perceptive. P’s typically like to leave things open, are good at improvising, and tend to take a more relaxed approach to work.

Keirsey puts me in the category of The Rational (and calls me a Field Marshal). Yes, once again, my 16 Personalities results are ENTJ, which puts me in the category of The Analysts and they call me the Commander. The typical description of an ENTJ person is:

Strong-willed. Bold. Imaginative. Will always find (or make) a way to make things happen. Yep, that describes me. So does impatient and intolerant. So does “poor handling of emotions.”

Knowing my strengths according to my Myers-Briggs Type helps me thrive. And it helps me manage my reaction to stressors.

I am the person you come to when you need big-picture strategy, because I can take a big step back and SEE it. Not only can I see it, I can help you draw up a plan, lay out the steps, and help you look for the potholes along the path.

I am also the person to come to when someone needs to be strong and logical in emotionally charged situations. When my mother was in her final weeks of life, I was the person she asked to call her preacher so that she could talk. I was also the person she told clearly what she wanted for her funeral. Neither my father nor my sister could step away from their hope that she would hang on or get better, so making those calls felt cold and unfeeling to them.

Knowing up front that I am naturally removed and logical doesn’t mean I don’t have feelings; in fact I feel things deeply even if I don’t show them. It just means that I am able to manage those tough situations without letting my emotions rule.

Though I don’t necessarily love some of the “weaknesses” of my Myers-Briggs personality type, seeing them in black and white gives me comfort.

Again, it’s like looking in a mirror and saying, “OH, I know you.” They also give me a clear understanding of the skills I need to learn so that I can better co-exist with other.

I’ve been accusingly told that I am too focused, too forceful, and just TOO much, yet, as I’ve aged, understanding that these are simply my natural strengths (some of which aren’t very popular for women), I’ve stopped apologizing for them. And I’ve also stopped over-explaining them. They are a simple fact about me, just like my hazel eyes and brown hair.

Do I always react in the best way possible so that I don’t hurt others? Of course not; I am human. Choosing to stop apologizing for who I am, though, doesn’t mean that I’m not aware of where I need to soften so that I can behave in a more compassionate or loving manner.

Understanding who I am has allowed me to actively do the work I need to do in order to, not just become who I was always meant to be, but also to see where my rough edges could use a little polishing.

Getting clear on who you are is invaluable. It allows you to better manage your anxiety, your reactions to crisis, and how to find happiness. Using your Myers-Briggs Personality Type gives you a jump start on doing just that.

Better understanding who I am allows me to be better in all my roles. It also gives me the freedom to embrace who I am in any situation.

So, here’s my challenge to you while you are home so much.
  1. The first step towards doing the work is awareness. Get crystal clear on who you naturally are. Take one of the free personality tests (HumanMetrics Keirsey 16 Personalities) to help determine your Myers-Briggs Personality Type (I personally love how the results are shown in 16 Personalities)
  2. Read through the description of your Personality Type.
  3. Look for ways that the description of your Myers-Briggs Personality Type feels like HOME. Let the words mirror back to you that you simply ARE who you are.
  4. Accept yourself for both your weaknesses and your strengths. Don’t see the “weaknesses” as assaults on your character or criticism, but instead see them as simple facts.
  5. Choose one trait  of your Myers-Briggs (strength or weakness) that you are going to stop apologizing for.
  6. Choose one trait you see as your “work” – one of your edges that needs softening, polishing or shoring up.
  7. From this more educated, begin to create a plan to change what you don’t love about your life or lifestyle.

If you’re not happy, if you don’t feel worthy, if you aren’t loving your life, if you are struggling with reaching your goals or if you feel like you’re always putting on masks, then, darling, you owe it to yourself to do the work to change your situation.

Bottom line: you are worth getting to know.  You deserve to look in the mirror and recognize yourself instead of always wondering what mask to wear today. You are worth the time and the effort to figure out who you are. And this, my dear, will help you manage times like these.
I wasn't quite sure what kind of recipe to share with you this week. Cooking is saving me, as it always seems to do. Yet, I have also grown weary with cooking, too. And I also know that since most of us are practicing (many mandated) self-quarantine these days, running to the grocery store for supplies isn't as Garlic Pesto Quick breadeasy as it used to be. And, I also know that some things may not be in stock.

So, I settled on sharing a quick bread recipe I made to accompany our dinner last Sunday. Yes, up until our need to social distance I was doing my best to avoid gluten, but I am giving myself a pass right now. And I wanted to use up ingredients that were expiring soon from the fridge. So, here's the recipe for a Garlic-Pesto Quick Bread to give you something warm (and savory) to accompany dinner.

Preheat the oven to 350. And spray a bread pan with non-stick baking spray (like Baker's Joy or Pam for Baking).

Then begin to gather your ingredients by sifting or whisking together the dry ingredients in a large bowl: 2 cups flour (I used Sprouted Wheat Flour), 1 tablespoon white sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons of garlic powder. After ensuring our ingredients are well combined, then add 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese and combine well with flour mixture.

To make this process more therapeutic for myself, I actually used my sifter to make the process take longer....and there's something very meditative about running flour through a fine-mesh strainer.

In a separate bowl (or super large measuring cup), mix together 1/4 cup melted butter (or vegetable oil or olive oil) with 1 cup buttermilk. 1 large egg, and 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) of basil pesto

Gently pour your wet ingredients over your dry ingredients and barely mix them together with a rubber spatula. You do not want to over-mix the ingredients together or this will make the bread tough. This dough will be fairly shaggy/sticky. Scrape it into your prepared bread pan.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  If possible, eat it warm with generous smears of butter.

Like most quick breads, this freezes beautifully. We ate half the loaf with dinner and stored the rest of the bread in the freezer for another day.

I based this recipe off of the recipe here - and they are sharing several other variations. 

Volume 10 
Issue 07

March 28, 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:
Instagram | Facebook Twitter.

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.

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


Look to Hope

I find that if I am without words, there are the words of others to turn to in order to find a sense of hope.

Whether you meditate upon a favorite quote or simply transfer it to your own journal, note card, or on Facebook, remembering that others who’ve experience tough times have come out OK on the other side can be a balm to the soul.

Here's eighty-seven quotes on hope to turn to when you’re feeling weary, wary, and worried during this time of crisis==>.



“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

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.


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

a year of support

Do You Need a Little Extra Support?

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


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


Also in the Blog

The best way I know to dig into that self-awareness of who you are and what you most desire is to dip your toes into the depths of yourself through an inquiry process. Sounds ominous in that way, but the core of the inquiry process is posing some bold, open-ended, and probing questions and answering them honestly.

Read==>Self-Awareness: The Key to Creating a Life You Love

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
Copyright © 2020 Debra Smouse - Create a Life You Love, All rights reserved.

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