Goal Setting Doesn't Always Mean 100% Achievment
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Where liberty dwells,
there is my country.

― Benjamin Franklin


It seems like only yesterday, <<Name>>, that I was replacing my 2018 calendars and in the blink of an eye we’ve arrived at the end of May and Memorial Day weekend, the ubiquitous social kick-off to the summer.

Memorial Day weekend is when the pools open, the grills become our favorite tools, and our thoughts turn to the ways in which we can entertain and take advantage of our outdoor spaces.

Last weekend, we finally got our upper deck and lower porch cleaned for the year. After scrubbing them down, we brought out rugs to turn the spaces into outdoor rooms, rearranged the furniture, and moved Brutus & Goliath (our two palm trees) back outside.

While I believe that every day is an opportunity to celebrate – and I love when folks get together with others - I remind myself that there’s a purpose to Memorial Day weekend beyond parties, sales, and an extra day off work. Memorial Day is a sacred day. A day of remembrance.

Memorial Day traces its origins back to the Civil War Days, originally called "Decoration Day". In fact, if you visit Arlington National Cemetery, you can see the original amphitheater dating back to that time period. (It's near the Custis-Lee Mansion).  Though many formal and informal ceremonies took place to honor those who lost their lives in war, it was in 1971 that "Memorial Day" become an official Federal Holiday. 

Back during my Road Warrior Princess days, I always did my best to be in DC over Memorial Day weekend; an opportunity to mix business, pleasure, and spiritual time in a series of days. I love seeing Arlington National decked out with all the flags, appreciate the opportunity to  visit a friend’s grave, and pause at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. 

Now that we’ve settled into a quieter life here in Ohio, we are typically home on the weekend. Instead, I plan to do that mix of sacred with ordinary on our next visit to DC, blocking off a morning to hop the metro and head to Arlington. In addition to visiting a friend’s grave, there are other places we each like to stop and pay our respects. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers, Section 7A, Margaret Blair’s Grave (aka Margaret O’Hara), and dozens of other graves that have called to me over the years. JB has his spots to visit as well after his time at the Academy and in the Navy: friends lost during the first Gulf War and beyond… We also try to remember to visit the grave of one of his father’s friends who died in Korea.

So, in the midst of the Memorial Day sales and BBQ’s, I hope you take a little moment to remember why we have this day and what freedom truly costs.

As I noted in the blog post below, I recently celebrated my 50th birthday. I took the day off, took myself to the movies, and did other things my future self is thanking me for. We went out for brunch to a favorite restaurant over the weekend, which was nourishing in multiple ways. I’m also seeing the year ripe with opportunities to celebrate the milestone (like my January Artist Date to the Magic Kingdom).

I didn’t want a big party, and instead am looking for those opportunities to take a day and play. It’s a milestone year for JB as well as he celebrated his 60th back in January, so anytime we can take for pure joy and pleasure is a great thing.
So tell me, darling, what about you? What is on tap for you as summer arrives? Is there a special project you’d like to tackle?  What new goals would you like to set for yourself as we begin the 3rd quarter of 2018? How do you celebrate milestones? What might the summertime unveil for you?

What does freedom mean to you?

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: Celebrating a New Decade: 5 Lessons Learned at 50.  When I launched my coaching practice,I did so on my birthday. I also began an annual tradition of celebrating the lessons I’ve learned during the past year. It’s an opportunity to practice what I preach. Dig into awareness as I honor my last trip around the sun. Be a little vulnerable with folks by sharing real truths and an authentic peek into my world.

It also forces me to slow down. And invites me to celebrate my own growth when I’m usually the one celebrating the growth of others.

As I catalogued the long list of things I’ve learned this past year, especially around how to continue to curate a life I love, I decided to narrow that down to my top five. A reflection on how turning fifty is truly about celebrating who I was, who I am, and what I can continue to bring to the world.

I’m Celebrating these Lessons on my 50th

One – You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know. But Trust Your Gut.

I used to believe that in order to be truly successful, I needed to do everything on my own. The older I get, I realize I do become wiser. Part of being wiser is recognizing that others may have more wisdom. I must be willing to ask for help and choose to learn from others. That’s why, despite knowing how to cook and write, I’ve invested in learning how to do both of those better.

Allowing myself to receive help from experts is an act of celebrating who I am becoming. It also reminds me that honoring my thirst for knowledge guides me towards loving my life even more.

On the flip side, you must also trust your gut. I invested in a health coach earlier this year and from the beginning something just felt off. When I ran the nutrition plan by my doctor, he rejected it for several reasons. It reminded me that just because someone is an expert doesn’t mean they know what’s best for ME.

It is so important to be willing to admit that we need the wisdom of others. It’s doubly important know when we are the wisest person on any particular situation.

Two – Healthy Boundaries are a Path to Honoring Yourself

The older I get, the more I realize how important healthy boundaries are to my overall sense of peace and freedom. Boundaries are similar to rules for the way you live your life. It can feel foreign initially, especially if you are a people pleaser. However, it’s impossible to create a life you love without boundaries.

You also have a right to your boundaries without any explanations. Just because someone has a relationship with you doesn’t give them the right to change them. This includes family members, business associates, and friends. Like trusting your gut when experts give advice, you also need to trust your gut when it comes to creating new boundaries or choosing to relax them.

In celebrating the importance of boundaries in my life, I also remind myself that people who don’t respect your boundaries often have no clear boundaries for themselves. That doesn’t make them bad people. In fact, this leads me to lesson number three.

Three – Compassion, Kindness, and Forgiveness are Imperative to Your Happiness

The saying that life is short becomes truer each year. For me, that means life is too short for grudges, meanness, or hostility. This has allowed me to cultivate more compassion and kindness if the face of rudeness. Celebrating the need for more forgiveness allows me to more kindly react to meanness or boundary pushing. Letting stuff go and forgiving any wrongs (real or imagined) allows me to be freer and happier.

The understanding that I want to be more gracious to others doesn’t mean that I put up with bad behavior. It simply allows me to live a happier life. It also reminds me that there are a lot of people out there who are hurting in some way. Me being kind in the face of that matters to me – and them.

Sometimes, the person that needs to be extended compassion, kindness and forgiveness is ME! I must remember that I my own suffering and imperfection is a part of the human condition. I bet you could stand to be more gracious to yourself, too.

Four  – Awareness and Acceptance are Your Friends

It’s impossible to create a life you love without your old pal awareness. That ability to observe ourselves, and honestly evaluate who we are allows us to make smarter decisions. Awareness allows us to figure out what we want to change to feel more fulfilled and satisfied.  Feeling happy or sad is one thing; knowing why you feel happy or sad is another thing. That’s where the beauty of awareness comes in: it allows us to make better choices and curate a lifestyle that makes us feel engaged and alive.

The tool you need to channel awareness without judgement is acceptance. By accepting who you are right now, it allows you to make any changes from a space of love, not loathing. This also allows you to befriend your shadows. Our fears lurk in the dark, but awareness and acceptance allow us to ferret out our deeper desires as well as our truths.

We need both awareness and acceptance to continue to move forward and grow. We also need awareness and acceptance to unconditionally love others.

Five – The Details Do Matter

While I know that the big things – your job, your home, your relationships – are the cogs that keep your life moving, the details that make up those bigger pieces are important. The tiniest of details, often seen as luxuries, can differentiate between a life that’s just ok and a life that feels like thriving.

No detail is too small if it feels important to the kind of life you desire to live. This means that the clothes you choose and the perfume you wear matters. The meals you eat, the stores you visit, and the kind of sheets you put on the bed all matter to the quality of your daily life. That cup you sip your coffee out of, the art you hang on your walls, and the websites you visit can matter.

Tending the details of your life also means that those seemingly tiny things that irritate you matter, too. If something bugs you, then change it. This translates to replacing those dishes you hate, stop hanging out with that friend who always criticizes you, and work on changing your own habits that irritate you.

This one precious life of yours deserves that you tend to those details because you and the quality of your life matters.

 “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life”
–Mary Oliver

Life is indeed wild and precious. And as a friend reminded me in a recent letter, turning fifty means there is still so much of life to live. I have the opportunity to not just live a life I love.

I can also choose to curate a life that I’m more deeply in love with each passing year. No matter how old you may be, that also goes for you, too. And, darling, that’s worth celebrating!

((PS – Find other birthday posts: 2011. 201220132014. 2015. 2016. 2017.))
With the unofficial arrival of summertime being upon us, that means BBQ! I am not a fan of commercial sauces because they always contain a ton of salt and sugar, so I've turned to making my own sauces when I can.  There's something magical about a mix of sweet and savory too, which is why I love this Cherries and Spice BBQ Sauce!

Begin with 2 tablespoons of olive oil (or coconut oil if you want to be trendy) and put it in the bottom of a Dutch Oven.  Add in 1 diced shallot and 1 diced onion and begin sautéing them on medium-high heat until they begin to become translucent. Add 4 cloves of garlic, minced and saute for another minute.

Next add some spice: several grinds of fresh pepper, a dash of chili powder, and dash of ginger. (you can use about an inch of fresh ginger, grated finely, if you prefer). And then add 3 tablespoons of tomato paste (I buy it in BPA Free Tubes)  Mix well over low heat and then add your liquids: ¼ cup balsamic vinegar (or apple cider vinegar), ¼ cup of tamari sauce (or coconut aminios if you want to keep this sauce Paleo aka Soy and Gluten Free), and ¼ cup apple juice.

Next add 10 ounces of frozen sweet cherries that you’ve roughly chopped. Bring this mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for a half hour.

If you want a chunky sauce, just smoosh the cherries on the side of the pan a bit while it’s simmering. OR you can pop it into the blender for a smoother sauce.

I pour into a canning jar (or one of those Weck jars I love so much).  It will keep in the fridge for two weeks.

Note: Summertime means fresh, in-season cherries. You can use fresh cherries, but then you’d have to pit them before you chopped them. So, if that's something that sounds like fun for you, I can vouch for this Cherry Pitter from Vibe (which is $5 and well worth that!)

Wondering about ways to use this Sweet and Savory sauce? I’m using this in the crockpot with some chicken - toss in one chicken breast and a cup of sauce with 1/4 cup of water and let cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or on low for 8 hours, then shred the chicken and serve on buns or atop greens with a splash of fresh sauce on top.

Marinate a great steak in 1 cup of this sauce overnight, discard sauce and toss on a hot grill. You can slather fresh sauce on top or serve on the side. 

It's also great slathered over burgers or chicken that you plan to toss on the grill!

Volume 8 -Issue 11

May 26, 2018

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 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.

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

Fall in Love with Yourself & 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.

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

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)

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

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)


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

Energy Vampires Got You Down?

If you’re like most people, this has happened to you: you were talking to someone and before you knew it, their complaints, their whining, their negative attitudes or their drama drained the life right out of you.

After they left, you looked for fang marks on your neck but they were nowhere to be found.

Then you realized energy vampires don’t have fangs. They have other means to suck your energy, like negative comments and punching holes in your dreams.

Read about 16 Ways to Deal with Energy Vampires at Attract the One
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