Self-growth work. And BBQ Beans.
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Each solstice is
a domain of experience unto itself.
At the Summer Solstice,
all is green and growing,
potential coming into being,
the miracle of manifestation
painted large
on the canvas of awareness.

-- Henry Miller

Good morning, my darling <<Name>>. We just had Juneteenth celebrations all over the US and Father's flowersDay is tomorrow. And today is officially the first day of summer in the Northern Hemisphere.

If you want to ensure that you are creating a life you love, then paying attention to any reason to celebrate can be a blessing. Especially when you look to how you can bring magic into the every day. Because there is always magic in the air when you take time to stop and celebrate.

As a kid, the odd-calendar type celebrations like solstices and equinoxes transported me to a magical space and time because they marked the official shift of the season. Still today, that excited me. But the Winter and Summer Solstice points mark something more primal than simply a date on the calendar. 

The Summer Solstice marks the beginning of Summer and the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and we are presented with the longest day of the year. Despite it being the 1st day of summer, from now until Winter Solstice, the days will begin to shorten. Little by little.

Ancient - and some modern - cultures believed that the day was sacred and full of magic. Yes, despite peonies in the kitchenmy deep, core need for things to be logical I, of course, want to believe that no matter our beliefs, we can capture the magic of that as well.

What I believe in most deeply is that there is magic to be discovered in the everyday living, especially if we actively make space for it, seek it, and make every day magic a priority.

Yes, I'm talking about attending to the details of our lives. To carefully plate your dinner so it’s pleasing to the eyes as it nourishes your body. To use a special mug for your morning coffee. Especially over the use of throwaway paper cups. To take an additional five minutes to sit at the table and eat your breakfast rather than eat it at your desk.

I’ve learned that doing these things creates a sense of magic. I can begin the moment feeling frustrated, irritable, or cranky and end it feeling more centered.  The choice to be mindful and the extra minute or two that it takes to do so captures a bit of magic.

As children, we were often able to see the magic in everyday living. We laughed, found pleasure in sitting in someone's lap, let the grass tickle between our toes, and sought play in any environment. We seen a fascinating piece of art and use your imagination to create stories about it or dig into our curiosity. flowers in the yardWe sat for long moments and just watched the bees buzz around the flowers.

Am I tuning into that inner voice often enough?

Magic also equals deeper joy. To access that, I must listen to the call of my soul. And honestly, my soul reaches out to me through the traits of my childhood: an insatiable curiosity, a desire to explore, and the want to experience what the world has to offer.

I know there's a lot of things going on out there. But I have faith that if you trust your gut to be the best version of yourself, you can make a difference in the world. Even if it seems incredibly small. Trust that magic is with you.

As always, I am sending my love. Please continue to take care of yourself.  Please be safe.

And if you need anything, reach out to me. I am just an email away.

PS - Don't forget to check out Summer Love Notes  Enjoy the creative fruits of labor from beautiful voices and find glimmers of light, beauty, and hope. If you are looking for a place to share a story, a poem, create a photo essay, your art,  and such. We'd LOVE to have you.

From the blog: The Grace of Integration is Critical When You’re Doing Self-Growth Work

When it comes to making changes in your life, it’s important to not just get started, but maintain enough focus that you maintain momentum. This is true to any kind of self-development and growth work from learning about racism to owning your story to diving into your secret desires. Making progress demands you keep moving. Right? Yet one of the things that no one seems to talk about when it comes to personal growth work integration.

We all hit roadblocks when it comes to pursing our goals. And while no one wants to lose that power of momentum, sometimes you need to take a short break to process what you’ve learned. Taking the opportunity to simply pause long enough to chart your progress and celebrate the victories along your journey. The moment to sit with a cup of coffee and simply be rather than do.

I call it the Grace of Integration.
take a pause

I know that there will be a lot of pressure to keep going. Because taking a journey of self-growth demands that you keep going. Otherwise, there’s the chance you’ll backslide into old ways. There will be fear, too. Worrying that if you pause you pause, you’ll stall. And never get started again.

Of course, we can’t forget our inner critic when it comes to how our minds might see a pause. Even if our mind knows we are choosing to take time for integration, that inner critic will whisper that we are weak. Or that we “always” give up on ourselves.

One of the challenges of self-growth is that moment when our inner critic digs in their heels. And demands we go no further. Yet, often, we confuse our inner critic with our inner wisdom. Because too often, people push themselves beyond their limits and burnout. And once burnout hits, it will be hard to get started again.

The truth is that getting burned out while doing self-development work is a sign that your brain (and soul) needed the time for integration rather than pushing ahead. That this sacred pause is not just a part of your growth. It’s critical to ensuring you continue to grow.

Is integration an excuse to not get out of your comfort zone?

I am sure you’ve seen quotes and phrases like: “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”. And while growth demands that we stretch our minds, bodies, and souls beyond our normal, everyday that doesn’t mean you have to constantly be uncomfortable. Trust me. I know a lot about how to manage the ebbs of flows of growth so that you ensure you integrate what you’ve learned. And can keep growing.

I once had a coach tell me that if I didn’t commit to her mastermind, I was choosing to stay small. That self-development meant I needed to keep pushing ahead. But my soul was begging for rest. In the previous seven months, my mother had died, I fell in love, changed jobs, sold my home of 22 years, and moved from Texas to Ohio.

I had made tremendous leaps in my self-development. Yet, I hadn’t taken the time to settle into the person I had become. So, I trusted my gut, didn’t commit to the mastermind, and that was the right choice. Because without taking the time for integration, it’s easier to become stagnant and stuck. Or never quite become the person you desire to be.

When you are longing for rest or comfort in the midst of growth work it’s a sign from your soul to make time for the integration of your progress.

Just like when we were little and learning to read, it was important to comprehend what we read, integration is how we ensure that our growth sinks in. It’s a necessary part of the journey. In fact, I would argue that in some cases, it can be the most critical step you’ll take.

If you want to make changes in your life, then don’t fear the pause. Because that pause is going to ensure that not only are you making true progress, you are choosing to do so in a way that ensures your changes stick around.

So as you make the journey into becoming a better version of yourself, make a part of that journey some time to take a break. Rest up a bit to ensure you don’t burnout. Dive into routines and rituals that nourish you and revel in simple pleasures. Journal about where you were and how far you’ve come.

This is how integration works for your development. And before you know it, you’ll be ready to get back to it. And grow to be more brilliant than you ever dreamed possible.

PS - 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've added more availability, too.

After the great mouse overtaking in the spring of 2018, we ditched our grill. (Long story short: a family of mice took the stuffing from a cushion and made a home in our grill). And finally replaced it this past week. I couldn't wait to play with the grill again. One of the number one standby's in my fridge is boneless, skinless chicken breasts so how do I parlay that to summer dinners?. Summer equals cooking out on the grill! But if your tired of slathering BBQ sauce over your chicken, try this Margarita Chicken instead.

First, make your marinade. In a large measuring cup, mix the juice of two limes and ½ cup of orange juice. Add ½ cup tequila, 1 tablespoon chili powder, 3 cloves of freshly minced garlic, ½ teaspoon of kosher salt, and two dozen grinds of fresh pepper.  Whisk together.  Gradually add your ½ cup of olive oil, and whisk as you go.

For us, this makes enough of a marinade for two or three meals.  I use about 1/2 a cup to a cup right away, and the put the rest of the marinade in a bottle and refrigerate.  It will keep in the fridge for about 2 weeks.

Marinade chicken.  Put two to four chicken breasts or tenders in a shallow Tupperware (or large ziplock bag) and pour 1 cup of marinade over chicken, seal, and refrigerate at least 4 hours but preferably overnight. 

When it's time to grill, take a large sheet of "non-stick" aluminum foil and put just the chicken in the center (Discard marinade) and SEAL the foil in an envelope.  Place the foil packet on a heated grill for about 20 minutes.  The packet will keep your chicken moist.

At the end of the time, pull your foil packet off the grill and CAREFULLY open it. With tongs, lay the chicken back on the grill for about 2 minutes per side to get a final sear (and those beautiful grill marks!). 

IF you don't have a grill, you can toss this in a hot pan that has a drizzle of olive oil in the bottom.

Serve with fresh limes (and drinkable Margaritas!).

It can also be served with black beans and brown rice. Atop salad greens with generous slices of avocado. Or as a delightful taco - with shredded cabbage and tortillas or salsa and lettuce leaves as the shells.

Leftovers can be warmed in a skillet and served in tortillas for easy chicken tacos. (In fact, you can double this recipe to ensure you have leftovers for an easy meal another night!)

Volume 10 
Issue 13

June 20, 2020

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

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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:
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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

Also in the Blog

This year I turned 52 and I have to say this was a birthday like no other. Because I can promise you that I had surely not planned to spend my birthday under Stay at Home Orders. 

Yet, despite this, my birthday was good. And it sure gave me an opportunity to uncover new insights into what is necessary for me to love my daily life. And reaffirm things I just know in my bones to be true.

Read ==>  5 Insights Gained Thanks to Celebrating My 52nd Birthday in Quarantine


“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

Summer Love Notes

I believe in the human spirit. And know that when we can be present in a single moment, it opens us up to see the magic and beauty in the most simple and ordinary things. So when I sought out evidence of this, I was able to find it.

Thanks to my good friends who were a part of Modern Creative Life and All Things Girl, we'll be celebrating a summer of love.

Summer Love Notes will publish between June 1st and September 6th 

Explore Summer Love notes. And learn more about submitting your writing or photography ==> Call for Submissions


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

Use this Time for Self-Discovery

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...

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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.

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