Memorial Day Means Freedom
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“This nation will remain
the land of the free
only so long as it is
the home of the brave.”

--Elmer Davis

It seems like only yesterday, <<Name>>  I was opening my 2020 calendar, and in the blink of an eye, Happy Memorial Daywe've arrived at almost the midpoint of the year:  Memorial Day.

Socially, of course, it's the kick-off to Summer as a state of mind. The pools are opening, folks are having BBQ's, and we're finding ways to be outside more, whether it's dinner on the deck or an after-dinner stroll around the neighborhood.

It all feels different this year, I know. Most of us will be celebrating the long weekend with just immediate family and finding ways to entertain ourselves in our own back yards rather than in the yards of our friends or family.

Yet, I believe we must hold on to the traditions that matter to us in some way. One of my core values is FREEDOM so I must find ways to exercise that as a state of mind. So, rather than focus on the things I am not able to do, I'm going to spend the weekend focusing on what I CAN do.

We will hang our flag. And make some delicious food.

flowers to plantWe will work in the yard - JB will finish up the pond and I'll be planting flowers.

We will sit on our deck with coffee. Or a glass of wine and a good book.

If the weather is nice, maybe we'll go for a walk after dinner or venture out on our bikes.

Just as I am reminded that a change in langue is important for my own mental health - you know - CHOOSING to do something rather than HAVING to do something. And being grateful for getting to do something rather than guilt myself with SHOULD-ing all over myself....

So, this weekend, in honor of Memorial Day. And in honor of my core value of FREEDOM - I am going to coffee on the deckfocus on all the things I CAN do.

Like plant my flowers, enjoy my morning coffee with JB, and work on a summer project of curated creative works. 

Speaking of which - we are taking submissions for Summer Love Notes 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.

Because freedom of expression is important too. As is the desire to be nurtured by the creative works of others.

Please continue to take care of yourself. And if you need anything, reach out to me.

And, as always, I am sending you love.

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.

From the blog: Why Keeping a Diary is the Saving Grace I Need Right Now.  When we find ourselves in a challenging season of life, it’s imperative to find tools that allow us to feel more whole, a greater sense of comfort, and extend a semblance of grace towards ourselves. And others. Whether the season is something that’s happening to us alone. Such as the loss of a parent or the dissolution of a relationship. Or something from the outside world. Like the Covid-19 crisis or a storm that devastates our community. For me during the Coronavirus Pandemic, I’ve found that keeping a diary is saving my mental and emotional health.

When I talk about a diary, you may imagine a book given to a young girl that has a little lock and key. Remember those? There was a page for each day of the year. I’m sure I’m not the only one who got a pretty little diary for Christmas. But no, that’s not exactly what I’m talking about when it comes to keeping a diary right now.

keeping a diary

You may be asking: what’s the difference between keeping a diary and keeping a journal.

Both diaries and journals have been kept for centuries. Along with letters, reading diaries and journals has allowed us to learn how people lived from the simple and mundane details of tending life to deeper descriptions of thoughts, emotions, and the larger state of affairs. So, while a diary and journal can sounds synonymous or interchangeable there is a key difference.

A diary is a record of daily experiences. From what clothes you wore, to what you ate, to the weather, and other factual notations about living life. When I think of a diary, I think of a simple list rather than paragraphs or even full sentences. When you write in a diary, it’s about creating a record of the facts for that day.

Keeping a journal usually goes beyond that. A journal usually explores richer details of life, our thoughts, emotions, and/or reactions. So, rather than simple facts, a journal explores ideas and concepts.

I’ve kept both in the past. And frankly, right now, I am keeping a diary alongside my regular journal. While it may seem redundant to keep both a journal and diary, they are quite different in how they are serving me right now.

Here’s sixteen reasons why keeping a diary has become a saving grace.
  1. During our lock-down, the days have run together. When I realized I was having problems remembering the date, the day of the week, and how many days we’d been staying at home, I knew my own need for logic demanded I change that.
  2. Being able to keep track of how often I am venturing out allows me to not only note the fact of my errands, but how going into the store made me feel. Early ventures to the store were frightening and stressful. While more recent trips to the store have felt more welcoming. In part, because the stores are better prepared for social distancing. And, in part, because I’ve become more adept at wearing a mask and avoiding people.
  3. I’m also taking note of how well stocked the stores are. While this may not be important to me now, a decade or two from now, that information may be helpful.
  4. If we were to get sick, this record could help pinpoint the growing need for trace detection.
  5. I am keeping a record of what we’ve been eating. By keeping track of what we’re eating, I’m noticing the differences between how we eat when JB goes into the office VS how we eat when we’re both home all day. This is giving me a peek into our future as JB is planning to retire in the next three years.
  6. By keeping a diary of what we’re eating, I can also see how our preferences are shifting.
  7. While some friends have told me how much they are saving since they aren’t going out, our grocery expenditures have actually increased. When it comes to a family budget, the notations in my diary of what we’re eating, how the stores have been, and where I’m going are giving me insight into the budget changes.
  8. Keeping track of the household chores I have done each day reminds me that I’m not just sitting around doing anything. And some days, it feels like I’ve gotten “nothing” done. So, rather than fall into the trap of believing that I’m not accomplishing anything during this time at home, I am reminding that inner critic of mine that I am often quite busy. It’s helpful to note I did four loads of laundry rather than just look back, you know?
  9. Noting in my diary of our bigger household chores – cleaning closets, reorganizing the pantry, cleaning out the garage, and prepping the deck for spring
  10. Simple observations on how I am feeling each day has been invaluable. Naming emotions is empowering, a good thing when so much is out of my control. It’s also been comforting to note how JB has felt each day, because then I can separate how my experiences are affecting my mood VS how my reaction to his emotion is affecting my mood.
  11. Observations on my emotions also allows me to choose better emotions I want to experience. For example, if I’ve been overly cranky or complaining, those lines in my diary can be just the dose of awareness I need to change what I can: my own attitude.
  12. It’s also helping me find gratitude. By keeping a diary of all of these tasks, I am able to find the silver threads in our daily lives.
  13. By notating the weather, I can then look back and see if what we eat or how we’re feeling is affected by what’s right outside our door. Does a cold or rainy day always equal a desire for comfort food or bad moods? Or have we been able to avoid cabin fever even when the weather is warm and sunny?
  14. How we’ve entertained ourselves is another point of interest. What are we watching and reading? Are we playing games? What hobbies are we each indulging in? Again, good facts to reflect on when it comes to our moods. And good things to remember as we move towards retirement.
  15. Keeping in touch with friends and family members is reminding me how important connection is to me. And if I notice that too many days have gone by without me chatting with a friend or even writing a letter, I can make note to connect  in some way the following day.
  16. Last, but not least, a local university has asked for contributions to their special collections and archives department on daily life during this pandemic. To be able to contribute to a larger cause encourages me in keeping a diary these days. And I am more likely to take snapshots of my diary page or create a document based on my diary than I would be inclined to share from my journal.
You may be wondering what physical item I am using for a diary.

I am using my planner to not only keep track of what appointments I have with clients, but as my diary as well. It’s something that already sits on my desk during the day. If you’d like to begin keeping a diary for yourself,  you may wonder about what to use. Any notebook will do, though it may be easier to use a calendar that already has the dates.

Now that I’ve shared how keeping a diary is helping me find more grace these days, how about you? Would that help you navigate these challenging time?


“By beginning a diary,
I was already conceding that
life would be more bearable
if I looked at it as an adventure and a tale.
I was telling myself the story of a life,
and this transmutes into an adventure
the things which can shatter you.”

― Anaïs Nin

When Memorial Day arrives I think about SUMMER foods: corn on the cob, fresh peaches, and cooking steaks, and burgers on the grill!  When I began reading labels a little more carefully, I was horrified at all the stuff in BBQ Sauce: corn syrup, tons of added sugar and salt.... So, I began making my own sauces as often as possible (and YES, I love these WECK Jars for storing the sauce!

BBQ Sauce

I know this is more complicated than grabbing a bottle off the shelf at the grocery store, but trust me: it's worth it for the depth of flavor. This is a recipe I've played around with for the last few years until I've come to a special level of perfection.

Dice 2 yellow or white onions and add them to a large stock pot that has about 1/4 cup of olive oil on the bottom along with about a teaspoon of kosher salt (to sweat the onions). When the onions begin to get translucent, add 8 minced cloves of garlic and three tablespoons of tomato paste (this is where tomato paste in a tube comes in handy!).  Allow this to cook for about three minutes.

Next add all your spices: 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper, 2 teaspoons onion powder, 3 teaspoons garlic powder, 1 tablespoon dry mustard powder, 1 tablespoon paprika,  and 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper.

Allow the spices to bloom - which takes about three more minutes on medium to low heat.

Into the pot goes:  20 ounce can of crushed tomatoes (again, my favorite at the Fire  Roasted ones from Muir Glen2 cups water , juice of one lemon and  1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar,.

Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Reduce temperature to low and simmer uncovered. 

Now, taste the sauce about 15 minutes in and see if it meets your expectations of the right flavor profile.  If you find you are missing...
  • A touch of sweetness - add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of brown sugar OR 2 tablespoons honey.
  • The zing that Worcestershire brings to it, add a tablespoon of anchovy paste 
  • A little bit more acid - add another 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • A bit more spice  - add a teaspoon of chili powder
  • A little smokiness - add a teaspoon of cumin.
You'll want this to simmer at least 30 minutes, until it's boiled down your preferred consistency.

Store in the fridge. It will keep for about a month. I slather this on all kinds of stuff: chicken, burgers, steaks, and even use it mixed in with a can of red kidney beans for BBQ beans.


Volume 10 
Issue 11

May 23, 2020

Love Notes Published Every-Other-Saturday
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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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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.


“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.”

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Call for Submissions

Due to my own desire to find more beauty and lightness in the world, I decided to resurrect an old project as a way to provide a place for others like me to be nourished by the creative work of others AND promote the good work people are doing.

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 

Learn more about submitting your writing or photography ==> Call for Submissions

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

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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...

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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.

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Now is the Time for Self Love

Practicing self-love is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. Self-love can come in many different forms, from speaking affirmations about yourself in the mirror, to eating a healthy diet and exercising, or even giving yourself a “spa night” of sorts every so often.

Here's three easy acts of self-love that you can do daily==>.


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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
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why decluttering is good for your well being

In the Blog

It’s important to understand the impact that being stuck at home can have on your physical, mental, and psychological state and in knowing that, make efforts to keep yourself busy and occupied while at home.

A great way to do this is by using your time to clean and declutter. Not only will this help your house to be clean, but it will also have a large impact on your well-being as a whole.

Read==>Why Decluttering and Organizing is So Important for Your Well-Being
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