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Grace. Artful Living. And Fresh Tomatoes.
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“ As we answer the following
question with sincerity, we move
from powerlessness to empowerment:
What, if anything,
do I need to do to unburden myself
so I can move forward
with grace, determination,
and divine confidence? ” 

--Debbie Ford

Good morning, my darling <<Name>>. How have you been? Are you managing to maintain your sense of flowers and journalspeace and self? I know with all the chaos, it's hard. Especially if you're wired similarly to me.

I have always been what Kolbe calls an “information gatherer”. I want to know MORE. The deeper story, views from various points, and follow the threads to learn more. Easy to do in the Internet age with the rabbit hole of information. I can consume vast amounts of information in an average day, which is one of the reasons I read so many book and since blogs emerged back in 2000, voraciously read those. Social media – and the stories of others – fed that in all kinds of good way.

Well, it used to. And I will tell you that isn’t always a good thing – my ability and need to consume information. At least not where the world has been since March.

Then you pair that with how I process big challenges in life, I will tell you that this has been a tough haul.

Because from the time I was a little girl, I have always tended to deal with tough stuff by becoming quiet.

Yes, me, the Chatty Cathy who is unable to win the quiet game – even now – doesn’t want to talk me - always thinkingabout it. Rather, I prefer to think about things without too much outside noise.

This is incredibly taxing these days thanks to the constant cycle of news and social media. Granted, I can get lots of viewpoints. But that isn’t always helpful. Because not only do things feel tough, but being presented with some of the same traumatic stories over and over again – on the news, in my Twitter feed, on Facebook, again on the news, repeated by someone I follow on Instagram -  adds to it.

So, my way of going quiet are to not add to the slew of information – write fewer blog posts, post less on social media, and ponder what on earth I want to share with you here in this sacred space of your inbox.
During my quiet time, though, I have been pondering how humans can better manage difficulties. As as a long-time information gatherer, I am able to see cycles and patterns.

And I am reminded that intertwined with challenges and chaos is GRACE.

Though this can smack of religious connotations, I see it from a different viewpoint: it’s a supernatural Huey, Dewy, and Louiepowerhouse that has the ability to lift humans up. 

It's one of the reasons I try to spend time daily in nature: reminders of grace are everywhere.

While I am the first to acknowledge that humans are wired to the negative, I also know that seeking proof of the positive is possible. Grace, like forgiveness, can seem completely irrational to the human. But we DO have access to it and we must employ it now.

We invite grace when we choose to not jump to conclusions. Rather than assuming that people are bad, I am trying to open the door to judging less. To giving people the benefit of the doubt. And reminding myself that salacious news stories are click-bait as we are wired to look at the train wrecks and see the proof of failing humanity.

Grace allows us to recognize the humanity in others, especially if we disagree with their actions. And for GRACE to work in our lives, we must grand ourselves grace. To be less self-judgmental. To give ourselves the benefit of a doubt.

This is extra hard, as we are all well-aware of our own bright intentions that collide daily with our hot rash of hypocrisies. This can cause personal despair and lead to beating ourselves up. Between the pandemic and the world uprising, all of humanity is ON NOTICE and suffering in some way.

Grace is where you recognize your own humanity. And remember that just because someone else has it LOVE Mural in Daytonrougher than you doesn’t mean that your feelings don’t matter. All suffering is still suffering. So don’t flagellate yourself when you have bad day  - because your emotions are valid. And stress of any sort is still stress to the body. It’s biology.

I know things feel as if they will never “get back to normal”. So GRACE is right there beside you to help you connect and recognize that we can massive amounts of grace to that aching wound.

Right now I am going to say something that will probably be unpopular: There are people who only know how to speak fear, comfort zone, and stagnation. These are the folks that are looking for every tiny mistake a person makes. And point it out, often with relish.

And there are also others out there who want to talk to you about growth, courage, and expanding. Even when it feels scary. Maybe especially when it feels scary.

It's so important to be mindful and intentional about who you allow to advise you, influence you, and speak into your life.

And make the choice to BE that for yourself and others.

Surround yourself with motivated, emotionally intelligent people.

Allow yourself to be fed and mentored by good books and people doing good work. Unfollow negative people on social media. Get to know the people in your neighborhood – in a socially distant way. Ask them questions, admire their work, and use that inspiration to put your OWN creations into the world.

journal and coffeeAnd better yet, really get to know yourself. Pull out your journal. Ask yourself good questions.

My motto for the rest of this year is to seek grace and beauty every day. Though I am talking a lot about that in the blog post I’m sharing this week, it’s worth repeating here.

Because if you look for what is wrong in the world, you will see it at every turn. And when we look for grace and beauty, we will find it.
 
If you need some help finding something good, ask a friend to help you find it. Tell your spouse you need a laugh.  Find a therapist if you need to. Go for a nice long walk and let nature sooth and inspire you.

And if you’ve been thinking about how a coach or mentor might be helpful, reach out to me. Though I haven’t made any final decisions, I am leaning toward not taking new clients when 2021 rolls around (though I'll still be available for existing clients).

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




 

From the blog: Artful Living Helps You Love Your Life Even When the World Feels Chaotic. I have to admit that like many of you, the chaos of the outside world is affecting me. It’s amping up my anxiety and challenging my sense of peace. And no matter if I am not directly affected, the overall trauma and stresses we are seeing in the news can very well influence our moods and invade our thoughts.  Recently, though, I recommitted to choosing the path of artful living as my focus for the every day.

Though I am creative, I never saw myself as an artist. Because I don’t have the traditional skills I though described an artist, people like my oldest daughter and some of my clients who can take raw materials like paper, canvas, ink, paint, and wax to create the kind of creations which hang upon walls and move us emotionally when we view them.

What I’ve come to understand as I’ve aged, though, is that though I can’t sketch anything beyond stick figures, it doesn’t mean that I can’t live in a way that is artful.

“He decided to give up his large ambition of knowledge and action for any narrow craft or profession, aiming at a much more comprehensive calling, the art of living.”
–Ralph Waldo Emerson about his friend Henry David Thoreau

Artful living is about the choice to recognize the beauty in the everyday. And let me tell you, my darling, it can be more powerful than you imagine.

artful living

I’m sure it helps that I’ve long had an optimistic nature. Long before I read the works Emerson or Thoreau, I thought along the same lines of the Transcendentalists – that humans are basically good. And that each of us is born into this world with a special gift. This core belief leads me back to myself – time and time again. And is especially important when we witness unkind and unethical behaviors by folks out there.

When the news – or social media – shows me the ugly side of humanity – I look for kindness and beauty. Because as I’ve often said – and be told – what we focus on grows. When we expect the worst of society, we will always see it. And when we search for goodness, we’ll find that as well. So, when I choose artful living as my approach, it helps  me keep the stress of the outer world more firmly out of my mind. Because our thoughts do affect our reality, right?

This isn’t to say that I am always Pollyanna. Because though this is an approach I want to make for my own sanity, it’s not always an easy choice. Yet, this is the exact reason I want to invite you to see your own life as art, too. Because it opens the door to a more nourishing life.

Why do I believe artful living matters?

When the world feels out of control, approaching life in artful manner gives you back your power. Which allows you to take a deep breath and remind yourself that you have a modicum control. Because even when life is certain, we still need to feel in control of some aspects of our life.

This is why some kids (and adults) are picky eaters: sometimes it’s the only thing they feel like they can control. But let’s not digress too far. Rather, I want to remind you that it’s OK to feel like you need to control something. And when you shift your focus to living in a way the fills you with joy, it’s easier to let go of what you can’t control.

When you decide that you’re going to approach your own life like art, it’s easier to examine your daily life. And make choices that fill you up instead of drag you down. As a reminder, you have control of what you read and witness. When you curate your social media feed – and unfollow negative accounts – you are making the choice to honor yourself.

You have full control of your routines, what you watch on television, and what you eat. And even though work may look different right now for many of us, you have control of your attitude. Because you are always in choice.

That, my dear, is why artful living can be the difference between feeling happy rather than feeling crappy. The choice to see our lives as art is an invitation to pursue delight and beauty in the everyday.

Here’s an example of what artful living looks and feels like for me.

My first cup of coffee is not just coffee, but ritual. And I’ve attended each detail of the experience. I prepare the coffee maker the night before with filtered water and excellent coffee beans. Upon waking a push of a button sends the coffee maker into action. Because we love fresh ground coffee, I made the investment in a machine that not only brews, but grinds as well. This is artful living: to choose everyday items in a way that enhances life.

But the details of that first cup of coffee continue. While the coffee is brewing, I also boil water in a teakettle so that I can pre-warm our cups. And, of course, not just any cup will do. It must be a cup that feels good in my hand and is delightful to look at as well. As for JB, he prefers thermal cups with lids so he can sip throughout the morning without his cup getting cold.

And because the details matter, I also unload the dishwasher while the coffee brews. This is about how compassionate discipline plays a part in artful living.

I always pour my coffee into my cup and then pour coffee into JB’s cup.

By doing so, this choice is a reminder to make myself a priority no matter what happens in the day ahead. After our cups are filled, the rest of the coffee is poured into a thermos to keep it nice and hot. Then the ritual part begins. Using a tiny Demitasse spoon, I add turbinado sugar to my cup and organic whipping cream that comes from grass-fed cows into the cup and gently stir.

I close my eyes and take that first sip: heaven!

Then I finish preparing JB’s cup, adding organic half-and-half (also from grass-fed cows) and putting the lid on tightly. Yes. I make his coffee every morning. This is another aspect of artful living: the care of my beloved. While he’s perfectly capable of making the coffee – and on the weekends he often does – by beginning the day this way I am reminding myself that small gestures and kindness matter in relationships.

And while he usually drinks his coffee at his desk since he’s been working at home, I purposely avoid  my desk. Because artful living is about being present to the good around me. So, I take my cup out on the deck along with a book and my journal. Or if the weather is too hot or too cold – hey, call me Goldilocks – I take my first cup of coffee to the recliner in my bedroom. No computer, work, or email until I consume every last drop.

From the push of the button on the coffee maker to the last sip of coffee takes less than thirty minutes. Yet, I’ve set the tone for my entire day. And that entire thirty-minutes – a mere 2% of the day – embodies the heart of conscious, artful living.

Artful living encompasses beauty, ease, discipline, kindness, choice, self-care, and love.

Setting the coffee maker up the night before is about ease. And unloading the dishwasher is not just about discipline, but ease as well. Because I want an empty dishwasher available throughout the day. I choose beautiful cups and have carefully chosen every single ingredient.

And while I’ve acted from a place of love and kindness from JB, I don’t leave myself out of that love and kindness. By pouring my cup first, it’s an act and reminder that I must matter and be a priority even as I’m caring for others.

The choice to sip my coffee with a book or my journal, preferably outside where I can see the trees and flowers. And hear the birds chirp is about being entirely present in the moment.

Though you may not be a coffee drinker, hopefully you can see how living artfully opens the door to a nourished life. Complete focus on the smallest portions of the day pay of big dividends.

So yes, while the world outside your door is chaotic, by choosing artful living as the underlying mantra of your life can make a huge difference in the overall quality of your life.

This may mean keeping a vase of flowers on the kitchen table. And rather than seeing food as only fuel, it’s the creation of – or the consuming of – a beautiful meal. Rather than eating in front of the TV, lighting candles and turning on some music is a loving gesture at the end of a stressful day.

It’s the choice to put a slice of juicy lemon in a glass or water or garnishing your plate with a snip of fresh herbs. These open our eyes to beauty.

And though we aren’t going anywhere, artful living can look like choosing to adorn your body with a lovely outfit. Or putting on makeup even though you will only be seeing your family (and yourself in the mirror).

We must remind ourselves that we are always in choice. So, rather than make choices that make our lives more stressful, we choose actions that bring ease. Perhaps the choice to listen to music that makes us desire to dance or sing is a choice over watching the news is what’s needed. Or rather than watching mindless nonsense, we can choose to feed our mind with great literature. And feed our soul with those beach reads that make us laugh.

Artful living is also about listening to the call of our hearts. To being brave enough to discover our inner gifts and unearth our truths.

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 person’s. Because artful living is all about the personal choices that make you who you are.

The transcendentalists also believed that in addition to being born with special, unique gifts, each of us has our own answers within us. And this, I agree with as well. This is why artful living is so unique to you. Because deep within you are the answers to what you need in order to live a nourishing life. And if you don’t know, then you just need the right question to nudge you towards your answer.

Artful living is about creating a life that is lush, loving, and nourished. And though each of us has challenges along the way, seeking beauty in the everyday will always help you find the bright spots.

Though most of our dinners originate with a main course  - and some sides - hot off the grill, I am finding we need a bit more variety. And now that the local tomato season has begun, I'm finding ways to use 'em all. I love the big, juicy purple cherokees and classic "big boy" tomatoes for salad, but when it comes to using the season's bounty for dinner, I find that cherry or grape tomatoes are one of my preferred ingredients.

I love this fresh tasting (and barely cooked) Spinach & Baby Tomato Spaghetti. It's one of my favorite sides to serve with grilled salmon!

Wash and halve three cups of cherry (or grape) tomatoes.  (Don't feel you only need to buy the red ones, try the orange and yellow varieties, too).

Zest and juice one lemon.  In a medium bowl, combine the zest and juice with the halved tomatoes and add ¼ cup of olive oil, ½ cup chopped fresh chives, 4 cloves of pressed garlic, ¼ teaspoon of kosher salt and several grinds of fresh pepper.  Set aside.

In a large pot, cook thin spaghetti (I prefer the Barilla Plus pasta as it's a whole grain pasta).  Drain and return cooked pasta to pot and return the pot to medium heat.  Add the tomato mixture and heat through.  Then add 3 cups of fresh baby spinach (or if you aren’t a fan of spinach, use arugula or baby kale) until it begins to wilt.

You can serve as is or you can top it with a bit of shaved or coarsly shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano or Parmesan cheese and a few more grinds of fresh pepper. 

In find that this is almost as yummy cold out of the fridge if you want to make it earlier in the day. And, if you want to mix things up, try another pasta shape like elbow macaroni or those spiral pastas.

Volume 10 
Issue 15

July 18, 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.
 
elizabeth

Intuitive Ear


In a day and age where relationships are flat and a true connection to each other is a rare gem to be found, Debra’s genuine enthusiasm for life fuels your coaching experience. An ever-faithful ally and pillar of evolving ideas,

Debra approaches her clients with an intuitive ear, a foundation of love and sincerity, sprinkled with a touch of humor.

Elizabeth Rago
Modern Domestic Woman

Want to Get More Done?

Don’t you want to love your life, not feel as if your calendar is ruling it? The key isn’t to get busy. The real key to being more productive, you need to work smarter. Here are a few strategies to ramp up your productivity, reduce the hours you’re working, and allow you to love your life.

Read Productive Not Busy: How to Love Your Life More==>

Jeanette

Praise for Finally Love Your Life


I thought this was an extremely beneficial and well thought out class. The information was delivered in such a manner that there was no way I could “cheat” myself out of delving into the subject matter.

 Some days I was in the mood to listen to the audio, others, I enjoyed reading and rereading. The worksheets were key as they helped me transition what I was reading into personalized knowledge of myself and an action plan.

I appreciated the real guidance and suggestions that were given. For example, Debra didn’t just say it is important to rest, she gave real examples of what rest looked like to her, and in turn, helped me think of ways I could put it into practice. It is a very interactive class and in each module I experienced at least one aha moment.

We are all in different phases of life, so certain modules will appeal more or less depending upon where you are at.

I would highly recommend this course.

Years ago someone told me, “You would never drive a car without putting in gas, getting the oil changed, replacing the fluids, why on earth would you go through life without mental and physical checkups.”

This class is a great way to get the mental oil changed. I feel ready to go another 50,000 miles.


Jeanette McGurk, Writer & Artist
awareness is worth it

Also in the Blog

The reason I’m often asked why awareness is worth it is because there is a shadow side to self-awareness.

This shadow side can make us angry or sad at our past choices, and can send us spiraling down the rabbit hole of the so-called “bad” emotions. And how can I forget the Inner Critic’s ability to become oh so judgmental when we play with being more aware of ourselves as our ally.


Read ==> Eighteen Reasons Why Awareness is Worth the Trouble (If You Want to Love Your Life)
Becca

Insight

“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

Use this Time for Self-Discovery
 

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...

USE Code SPRING2020
 to save 50%

Purchase here.

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

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

Michelle

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

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.

Enter: Summer Love Notes: Fun & Fancy Free.

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

Kayce

Grateful to Have Her on My Team


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

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