Housekeeping, tidying, and more.
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“Yet housekeeping actually offers
more opportunities for
savoring achievement
than almost any other work
I can think of.”

–Cheryl Mendelson

Happy Saturday, dear, <<Name>>. How are you doing on this fine February morning? Did you have a nice Valentines?? Though it's been a little chilly and dreary most of this month so far, there are those moments Roses for Valentines Dayof sunshine and the reminder that spring is just around the corner. Hooray!

It’s been an extremely quiet time since I last wrote to you. JB has been in Tunisia since the 31st and will be home late tonight. I’ve missed him terribly. Yet I have gained some real insights into myself, how I tick, and what I need to be at my best.

I did most of this thanks to doing lots and lots of household tending. There's something about tidying up things that allows your mind to wander down all the right trails in your brain.

Now, if you've been around long you know that I believe decluttering is the path to loving yourself and your life. Clutter of any sort - be it physical or mental - gets in the way of that. 

To keep a home organized you have to regularly cull excess from your closet, straighten drawers, and tidy up the places you spend a lot of time. The downside of these kinds of chores is that they make a mess before you see tidiness. And I know that the messy stage can cause most folks to feel overwhelmed.

When I dropped him at the airport, the first thing I did was empty all the drawers in my bathroom and begin to sift through what I actually used and what I didn't. Before I recognized everything and put it back, I even replaced the little rubber bumpers on the drawers and cabinet doors that had disintegrated over the years.

While that was time consuming, it wasn't the messiest of my tasks. No, my dear, I emptied my closet. Completely. Yes,  I went against the advice I would give the average person overwhelmed with clutter: And my closetthat meant I could completely remove every stitch of clothing I owned, stage it in the living room and bedroom, and after dusting shelves and baseboards, I began to methodically put back only what I was going to keep. 

I allowed myself the grace to not finish right away. In part, that was because I would work on the closet for an hour, and then walk away. So, I'd do some work for a couple of hours and then go back to the closet.

This also helped me from feeling overwhelmed the whole time.

In all honesty, I took three days to clean my closet. In addition to taking my time sorting through things before putting them away, this process allowed me to THINK. When our hands are busy, it allows our minds to travel down pathways it doesn't have time for when we're watching TV or scrolling through social media. 

I certainly needed the mental break and the busy hands so that I could allow my subconscious to work int he background...

When all else fails and you can’t gain traction on a project, look around you. Nesting into your space allows you to feel safe and supported. Even if the main support you need is from yourself. Housekeeping IS a path to making life easier in the long run, even if it's not all fun and games.

I'm the first to tell you to hire someone to clean your house so that you can work on your book or make time debrafor the gym. (In fact, as you are reading this, the lovely Hope is on her way over to CLEAN the house 'cause I hate to mop)..

And I'm also the first person to tell you that sometimes, you need to be the person tidying up your space so that you can hone your mind. And create an environment that supports you. If our space is a mess, it’s hard to focus. Yet, when our home (or office) is neat, tidy, and organized, it serves to support us in our growth.

So tell me, darling: What about YOU?  Are you avoiding any area of your life because change would feel too overwhelming? Are there goals you'd love to tackle - be it a tidy closet or writing a book - that you don't pursue because you don't want to feel anxious or stressed in the messy middle?

What might dealing with your environment allow your subconscious to do some work for you?

And as we approach the 2nd quarter of 2020, what do you want to accomplish?  How could giving yourself permission to experience a little anxiety or discomfort open the door to something that's satisfying? In what ways can cleaning, tidying, and nesting support you in your growth.

How can I help?

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: Setting Non-Negotiable Standards for Daily Life Helps You Feel Happier

In order to live an extraordinary life that is filled with love and beauty, you have to set standards for the non-negotiable parts of your life. If you’ve been around me for long, you likely know that I’m a big fan of compassionate discipline.  Yet, in order to be able to apply compassionate discipline, you need to take time for this important step: setting non-negotiable standards for your daily life.

Compassionate discipline helps us balance powerful living with beautiful and loving living by making it clear what’s negotiable and what’s not. Because, if you aren’t clear on your own standards for living, it’s easy to simply react to life. And, baby, it’s hard to create a life you love when you’re constantly reacting.

When you set non-negotiable standards for your own life, you get to be faithful to your integrity and desires. And this, my darling, helps you live a happier life.

how to be happier

So how do you begin to define what your non-negotiable standards for your daily life?

Begin with the big-picture stuff first.  Be specific with an air of looseness. Specificity is a wonderful thing, yet you don’t want to feel boxed in. Not quite sure where to start? Try these questions:
  • What standards do you need to set so that you feel present in your own life? You want to consciously thrive, not just survive.
  • What kinds of spiritual experiences do you need in order to feel nourished? This can range from church to spiritual readings to prayer and more.
  • What actions do you need to regularly take so that you feel alive? This is about moving your body, feeding your mind, indulging in your passions and hobbies…
  • What about grooming and dressing? How we tend and clothe our bodies can affect how we feel about ourselves and our lives.
  • Speaking of our bodies: what do you need sexually and sensually? Yes. I’m going there. We are wired to be sexual.
  • What do you need in your environment to feel supported? Your home and your office. What levels of style and cleanliness do you need? (And yes, I’m looking at you, clutter)
  • What do you need in your relationships – intimately, professionally, and socially?
  • What kinds of self-care do you need to engage in so that you feel centered? Levels of rest, play, time with others, and time alone….
After pondering the areas of your life, be honest with yourself about the BIG non-negotiable needs in your life.

Remember, this isn’t about living a life based on other people’s rules for you. It’s about taking control of your world. If you need some examples to get you started, here’s a  peek into my own daily non-negotiable standards.

  • I need a tidy kitchen. That means no dishes in the sink. And no clutter on the kitchen island.
  • My personal space matters. For me, it’s about daily making my bed, ensuring there are no clothes on the closet floor, and that my bathroom counters are also tidy.
  • Lifestyle matters to. I don’t like eating off of paper plates. And, in fact, prefer to have at least one beautifully prepared meal made with quality ingredients.
  • When it comes to self-care, I ensure I get regular manicure, pedicures, and haircuts.
  • My relationship is on my non-negotiable standards. Every night, JB and I sit down and discuss our day. Couples need that quality time.
Are you ready to begin thinking about your own non-negotiable standards? You’ll need two lists of specific standards for your daily life.

After you gain clarity on your big picture standards are, drill down to your daily life. Oh, yes, in order to create and live a life you love, your daily life matters. Begin by looking for clues in your Perfectly Imperfect Ordinary Day activity to bring the essence of your ideals into reality.

The first daily list to make? The Minimum Daily Non-Negotiable Activities for Crappy Days.

Let’s be honest, we all have bad days. Or, frankly a series of days that feel more than a little challenging. There will be periods of times when we have the blues or have the worst cold ever. Maybe we’re fine physically, but struggling mentally or emotionally. Something triggers us and we fall down the rabbit hole. We’re stressed and on the edges of burnout.

These are the times when it’s easy to get off track with our goals. However, when you set non-negotiable standards for your daily life, it’s easier to get back on track. It allows you to find a firm ground by knowing the standards you are going to HOLD yourself to on your worst days. Therefore, inviting you to feel supported and nourished by the kind of life you desire while also being tender with yourself.

The truth about being willing to set non-negotiable standards for crappy days is two-fold.
  1. A non-negotiable is just that – it isn’t up for discussion. You create a sacred agreement with yourself by laying down your standards.
  2. We are more likely to slide away from our goals, dreams and desires when we’re having a rough time. By setting Minimum Daily Non-Negotiable Activities for Crappy Days you continue to propel yourself towards your dreams. It also means that you are less likely to slide back into unconscious living out of habit.

As you begin to build your non-negotiable standards for crappy days, the first thing I’m going to encourage you to do is look at the basics of grooming first. When you’re having a bad day or are sliding into depression, the basics sometimes follow by the wayside.

My personal list includes those basics of tooth-brushing and such. It also includes getting dressed in fresh clothes (nope, no pajamas all day or day-old clothes). And while I may not put on my full make-up on a crappy day, I do put on lip gloss, earrings, and fresh clothes. And I can’t forget other things that are important to me. Like having at least one beautiful meal at the table, no skipping of my vitamins, and

In addition to my ritual of my first cup of coffee and making my bed, I also ensure that I drink at least three 24-ounce glasses of water. It means sitting down at the table for at least one beautiful meal. No skipping vitamin pack or blood pressure medication. It also includes lip gloss and fresh clothes. (Yes, no putting on day-old clothes or living the whole day in my pajamas).

Your non-negotiable standards for crappy days is the most important list you’ll make for yourself. Seriously.

The second list is your Non-Negotiable Standards for Ordinary Days.

It typically includes all the things on your Crappy Day List PLUS more. You are creating this list for two reasons.

  1. Think of daily habits that you do and, when you skip them, life goes downhill fast. Having this list will help you bring your life in focus no matter what the world throws your way. This is how you keep your mind clear, your body nourished, your soul feeling loved, and your life in order.
  2. Include specific actions that will help you make progress towards your goals, dreams, and desires. Often, people fail to reach goals because they don’t make space in their life for action. By setting up non-negotiable standards for daily living that remembers your desires, you are setting yourself up for success and achievement.

A peek into some of my Ordinary Day non-negotiable standards: Everything on the Crappy Day list plus full makeup. At least half an hour of quiet / meditation / writing time. The accomplishment of at least ONE task on my big list. A clutter free desk and coffee table.

It’s far to easy to just live life by the seat of our pants. And then wonder why we’re unhappy.

And while “going with the flow” sounds easy on the surface, what it leads to is disappointment and dissatisfaction about your life.  If you want to live a life you love, you must be willing to do the things you need in order to create the kind of life you desire to live.

Setting non-negotiable standards means that you are setting the rules for your life according to your desires, not the desires of others. It’s about choosing to take control on the quality of your daily life. When you do that, it gives you the power to choose happiness even when life feels far from perfect.

Are you trying to get more fish into your diet?  I'm the first to admit that  plain old baked fish over and over can get boring. That's one of my goals for early spring: get back to adding more fish in our diet.  So, here's one of salmonthe ways I"ll be preparing it: Salmon with Italian Tomatoes (Winter Version).

Dice 1/3 of a yellow onion and put into a bowl with 1 small can of petite diced tomatoes (my favorite are the Muir Glen Fire Roasted ones)1 tablespoon of Italian Seasonings, and 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil. Mix together and set aside.

Take a one pound piece of salmon (Wild is always preferable, you can use frozen). Put you oven to 400. Spray the bottom of a baking dish with cooking spray and place the fish skin down. Lightly sprinkle with garlic powder and freshly ground pepper - then spoon tomato mixture on top.

Bake salmon for 20 minutes.  When you pull it out of the oven, liberally sprinkle some fresh basil on top. And maybe some fresh shavings of Parmesan, too.

Serve on top of pasta, rice, or veggies (like broccoli or the first stalks of asparagus).  By the way, I call this the Winter Version because, when summer arrives, I'll be using fresh grape or cherry tomatoes to top the salmon - but they just don't have enough flavor in the winter!

Volume 10-Issue 4

February 15, 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.


“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

take some pride in your appearance

Find it in the Blog

If you’re feel challenged in the confidence department and loving yourself, try putting on your makeup.

Yes, you read that right. In the name of loving yourself, I’m asking you to put your makeup on. Not just on days you are meeting with special clients. Or going out to on date night. On your ordinary, average days.

Read More ==> Putting on Your Makeup May Be a Key to Loving Yourself Just a Bit More

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
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

Make 2020
YOUR Year with
a Year of 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 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

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.

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