Being irritable.Gratitude. and Bourbon Pork Chops.
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“You only have control over
three things in your life:
the thoughts you think,
the images you visualize,
and the actions your take.” 

--Jack Canfield

Good morning, my darling <<Name>>. How have you been? How has this week been for you? How was the parkyour week? Mine ended quite well, thank you, but like many of you, there have been challenging days. 

It isn’t that anything specific is wrong, it’s just the world is wrong. And while I know that I have to let go of what I can’t control, it doesn’t mean that I don’t have the really cranky days.

Now, most of the time, I prefer to clear out the cobwebs and shake off what’s bothering me before I head to bed. But sometimes, that doesn’t feel like quite the right fit. So, at least once last week, I decided to just be irritable. Ignoring how I was feeling, digging into the why's, or trying to push myself into Being Happy allows the dissatisfaction to actually come back more easily. 

It simply allowed the feelings to BE there.

Contrary to popular belief, we don't have to work everything out before we go to bed. That's what sleep is for, to restore us. That's what our dreams do for us, process and allow us to see situations differently.
In most cases, no matter how I feel when I go to bed, I wake up feeling bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

Sleep is indeed a restorative.

But that’s doesn’t always work. And when it doesn’t – like earlier this week – I got out my journal and doodled while I drank my coffee. And by doodling, I mean just writing down random words rather than sentences.

Then began asking myself good questions.

---How am I feeling? And then identifying the mix of emotions.
---Did I allow myself to FEEL those feelings? Sometimes, you just have to FEEL. Have a little bit of a cry journal and coffee on the porchor punch a pillow. This is a good time to make the bed, by the way, cause you can slam the pillows around in the name of “fluffing them” as you make the bed without stressing out your kids, spouse, or pets.
---What specifically triggered my irritability? By looking at the triggers, I can pin point challenges with some logic.
---What about the WHERE? Were there environmental factors?
---Who else was involved? Is there something going on in one of my relationships? Do I need to lessen contact with someone that’s toxic? Do I need to call a friend that will allow me to vent and reframe things?
Journaling is a valuable tool. It usually helps me (and you!) get to the bottom of why and how and what. But after you find some answers, you probably need to move those thoughts through your body.
First, I went on an extra long walk at the park. Which always helps. It helps you feel grounded while also moving your whole body.
THEN, I came home and baked.
Now, a lot of folks have been baking since we began quarantining in March. King Arthur Flour reported their April sales figures were akin to the holiday baking season. Though I made a loaf of Garlic-Pesto muffinsQuick Bread early on, I haven’t been doing much baking. 

I chose a blueberry corn muffin recipe my friend Rochele Bilow included in one of her newsletters. It only makes six muffins. It had a lot of ingredients - both flour and cornmeal as well as fresh corn and blueberries. Because it only made six muffins, there was the need to use almost every single measuring spoon. And because the recipe called for a crunchy topping, there were more ingredients and additional steps. 

This combined  invited me to really focus on the task at hand rather than why I was feeling so tender and irritable.

Baking therapy is real, my friend. And when you're feeling irritable, choose a recipe that requires you to focus rather than do things by rote. The bonus: something yummy to eat!

By the time the muffins came out of the oven, I was back to my more positive self.  I got some writing done, prepped for a strategy call with one of my mentors, and went to bed with solutions.

If I hadn't dug in and done the work around who I am at my core, I would have faked being happy and muffins for the winstruggled for the rest of the week. Instead, I gave myself the gift of time, the gift of feeling, and the gift of knowing when to stop thinking. Trust me, it's worth 24 hours of ick to have oodles of good hours in my life.

Especially right now. With so much uncertainty, angst, and worry in the world, we need to be reminded that the only thing we can control is ourselves and our reactions.

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.

PS - I am still working on my new book and hope to share the news about it before Labor day!
From the blog: Access Joy in Uncertain Times by Creating a Gratitude Practice  When someone asks me what one thing they can do to shift their life, without needing to think, ponder, or ruminate in any way, I answer “Gratitude.” Because while I’m a big fan of awareness to shift life, in times of uncertainty, a gratitude practice will help you be emotionally resilient.

When someone asks for a quick fix to make their life better, happier, or simply more tolerable, I gently and lovingly tell them there is no magic solution, but the number one tool they can bring to their arsenal is gratitude. Yes, I know we’re months away from November, a time when your Facebook feed is going to be filled with old high school chums and sorority sisters sharing a daily story of gratitude in their life. Gratitude isn’t just a dish served ‘round the table on Thanksgiving.

But we need hope right night. And there’s no better way to  invite hope into your life, your heart, or your brain than gratitude.

gratitude practice for the win

When served daily, gratitude can fuel your joy, rewire your brain, and shift your entire way of being.

Let me share a little science with you. Studies on how our brains work show that our thoughts create pathways in our brains.

If we tend to go to the negative, those negative pathways grow deeper – think ditches and ruts and such. This means that, especially in times of severe stress and upset, our minds can’t help but send our thoughts to those entrenched ways of thinking.

But let me tell you, darling: even if you’ve spent years with in the negative trenches of your brain, you can change and shift your own natural patterns.

Just as continued negative thoughts create negative pathways, the creation of a regular gratitude practice allows your brain to create new, positive pathways for your thoughts. Over time, the old pathways grow over from lack of regular use. In other words, while forming new positive streets for your thoughts to travel on in your brain, your brain fills in all those ditches and ruts previously used by negative thoughts.

As your brain becomes used to these new paths for thought, they will become the norm.

This means, in times of severe stress, upset, or loss, your brain is more likely to help you find that silver thread. You’ll also recover more quickly.

I’m a “fact finder”. That means that in order for me to find truth in any type of research, I need to see further proof that the research is valid. Because, as much as I love the pure black and white nature of science, I want more.

When I look at sociological research, such as the work of Brene Brown, I see the evidence that she brings forth from interviews with people who are resilient. Brown began with the assumption that happy people were grateful. What she discovered, however, was that grateful people were the ones that could better access their joy.

When I looked through philosophical texts for evidence on gratitude, I discovered the works of David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk. He wrote about the connection to joy and happiness through gratitude more than a decade before Brown’s research. One of my favorite quotes of his:

“The root of joy is gratefulness…It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” –David Steindl-Rast

So, I’m going to tell it to you straight up: if you want to be happier and more joyful, then baby, you need to create a gratitude practice of some sort.

There’s proof abound that meditation is good for you. And I believe that everyone can go deeper into who they are really meant to be by keeping a journal. Yes, I believe that each of us has both ability and capacity to live life to the utmost of what we deserve on this earth. And I know that sometimes, we need to dive a little deeper into ourselves to unlock the magic.

I could go into detail about all these tools. And share a longer list of every possible thing you can try to make peace with life. And build a life that is nourishing. But, that would feel like a fire-hose of information when you wanted a sip from the water fountain.

Right now, though, we are living in stressful and challenging times. And that, my dear is when it’s most important to go to the basics of managing your mind and your thoughts.

Because whether you’re worried about the elections or recovering from a heart-shattering event, gratitude will be there to guide you. Because as beautiful as beginning fresh in awareness that you want – and deserve –  more in your life, simplicity is powerful. Because we have to begin small especially when life feels uncertain.

Begin first with only five minutes a day on gratitude.

Keep it simple. In a small notebook or a on a stack of index cards, each day simply write down three to five things you are grateful for. Every day, so that it becomes a habit. Every day, as a part of your morning or evening routine. Every day, in writing, so that your hand and brain seals the message with your soul that, even on the crappiest of days, there is goodness in your world.

Do this as a practice. As a ritual. As a commitment to your best life. As a sacred act for your own soul.

And I promise you, your life with shift. Your thinking will shift. Your sense of self and confidence will grow. You will strip away the layers you’ve hidden behind and the walls you’ve built to keep others out.

You will create new roads in your brain for your thoughts to travel on.

Your life will become more joyful and happier.

A gratitude practice will help spark the fire within you. It will fuel the alchemical process of transformation into who you were born to be in this world. My darling, you deserve to live a life with ready access to joy and happiness. It begins with gratitude.

As I have mentioned often, I am cooking on the grill more and more. And while chicken is the standby, we have pork once or twice a week. While I use the same (or similar) marinade for pork tenderloin or pork pork chopschops, here's how I am prepping - and then cooking - these beautiful Grilled Bourbon Pork Chops.

Because pork is super lean, you need for the meat to be brined or well marinaded so it doesn't dry out.

Begin by combining, in a zip lock bag (or non-reactionary container – meaning not metal) combine: juice of one lemon, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 3 tablespoons bourbon or whiskey, a giant glob of spicy brown mustard, 1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper, half cup of olive oil, 1 teaspoon ginger, 2 teaspoons garlic powder, and two teaspoons chili powder.

Next, add the pork chops. I like to use chops that are thick cut - at least 1/2 inch.  Lightly season with powdered sage, garlic, and a light sprinkling of kosher salt.  RUB this into the chop before seasoning the other side. Then dunk the chops into the marinade. Gently massage the marinade into the meat. Refrigerate for at least four hours and no more than twelve hours.

When you're ready to grill, remove the pork chops from the marinade  - allowing as much marinade to drip off of the chops - and place on a piece of waxed paper. Season the chops again - on each side -  with powdered garlic, chili powder, and several grinds of fresh ground black pepper. I then place my chops on a plate with waxed paper in between.  You want them to sit out at room temperature until your grill is heated (about 10 minutes).

Now comes the tricky part.  Spray your grill with a high-smoke point oil spray ( I used Avocado Oil spray - but Pam makes a Pam for Grilling). Once your grill grates are well oiled, it's time to heat your grill. Now, you need to heat your grill and allow one side to be cooler than the other. This works if you have a 2 (or more) burner grill so that you put one side on medium-high heat and the other burner on low heat.

When the grill is heated, put the chops on the HOT side of the grill for 3 minutes and then flip and allow it  cook on the other side another 3 minutes. You are wanting a quick SEAR the outside of the pork chops to lock in the juices and get those beautiful grill marks.

Then, move your chops to the cooler side of the grill, where they will cook for another 3 minutes per side.

If you have to use the little "top" rack of your grill, you'll need to cook them about 4 minutes per side.

Remove from grill and tent with aluminum foil to allow the meat to "rest" but not get cold. If you use a meat thermometer to 160 degrees to ensure it's cooked through but not overcooked.  DO NOT CUT CHOPS TO SEE IF THEY ARE DONE - this will cause them to be dry.

The last time we had pork chops, I served them with a green salad and sweet potatoes that I roasted in a chops with sweet potatoesfoil packet on the grill.

To do this: peel then slice sweet potatoes in coins (we split a single sweet potato), and then halve those coins. Lightly toss in a bit of olive oil that has been mixed with a teaspoon of brown sugar. To the bottom of the foil, add a tablespoon of good butter, please the potatoes in a single(ish) layer on the NONSTICK foil (or foil that has been sprayed with PAM), sprinkle with cinnamon. For good measure, add another tablespoon of butter. Then seal the packet with another piece of foil.

Sweet potatoes need to be on the hot side of the grill for about 15 to 20 minutes, turning once about 3/4 through the cooking time.

Volume 10 
Issue 17

August 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.

Home Office

Since more of us are still working from home (and kiddos may be at home for school) for the foreseeable future -  I am offering my "Home Office" course again. 

So, in case you need  some help with figuring out how to make space in their home to get some work done - especially if you find things didn't go so well in the spring - I am going to do a round beginning Monday, August 31st

I created the Home Office Edition to help you clear your physical spaces and create systems that fit your life and business. It's an email course with a lesson delivered each day.

The course is normally $21.

If you use discount code WORK2020 you'll get the course for $9.

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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

Use this Time for Self-Discovery

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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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Purchase here.


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

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.


“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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Want to Get More Done?

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



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

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.

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

michael ehrler

Great Insights

Debra has helped me to get and stay focused, hold me accountable in a manner that was effective and beneficial to me and my life. In addition, she gave me great insights into how I can get much more balanced as well as how I can handle delicate situations in my life.

I walk away from our sessions with a renewed sense of purpose and focus in all aspects of my life. She is tough when I need her to be tough, yet supportive at the same time. She instinctively knows what I need.

--Michael Ehrler, Business Coach

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