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Connection and Exploring Over Writing, Bullet Journal Tips, and a Delicious Italian Chicken Recipe

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“What I know now is that we're all interconnected and that's
a really beautiful thing.
We have links to everyone else 
in our lives and in the world.
Different people have different journeys
for different reasons.
You can't judge, but you can celebrate
that there are connections everywhere.”

--Jane Seymour

I'm writing this to you late on Friday evening, Blue. I typically try to be done with all my writing by 3 PM on Fridays so that I can transition into the weekend, yet this week, it's long past the edges of darkness as I'm writing to you.

We spent most of the week in the DC area and to be frank, I chose to spend time out and about rather than sit in the hotel and write. Five years ago, I would have told you that I wrote some of my best work while ensconced in a hotel, but that just isn't who I am these days.

It isn't about a lack of dedication to writing, rather it's an opportunity to spend time connecting

Like many of you, I like results  I like to have several thousand words written at the end of the week, blog posts up "on time", clients talked with, emails up to day, and this newsletter ready to come to you with all kinds of love.

This week, I didn't do any writing that deem "shareable" until Friday.  Instead, I have bits and pieces of several blog posts, lots of writing in my journal and Bullet Journal (as mentioned below).  I have done some on-the-ground research, talking with strangers, eavesdropping on conversations.... then I ended the week with a long conversation about PEOPLE and what makes them tick with a dear friend.

While in DC, I was mostly  out and about.  Instead of spending the bulk of the time in my room writing,  I chose to spend some time embracing the opportunity of being back in DC for the week.   I took advantage of beautiful weather to be outside moving my body.

I've been out to lunch every day and out for coffee in the mornings several days this week.  Instead of writing on Wednesday, I had brunch with a couple of girlfriends – one that lives here and one that is in the midst of moving away to another country. We talked of life and love and metamorphosis.

Instead of writing on Thursday, I went to Arlington Cemetery to visit a friend's grave. I took the time to do the full official tour of opportunity to see the expanded routing which explores all the edges of the immense space.

I also ate at some amazing places and spent a lot of quality time with JB each evening over dinners, drinks, exploring, and connecting.

Sometimes, you have to live in the moment and enjoy what's around you instead of just slogging along marking items off your to do list.  And sometimes, you need to recognize that not all of the work you do shows.   Putting in the research and thinking time is just as important as putting words to paper and hitting "publish".

And darling, you have to remember that if you want to produce, you must also rest and play.

I've also had the chance to visit some favorite places in the DC area with JB in the evenings.  We've dined at the site of our first date
and walked the streets where he lived for more than a decade of his life

There are beautiful things all around us and, if we don't slow down long enough to breathe and take our surroundings in, we miss them. We worry about rushing here or running there, and we don't stop to smell the magnolias - or see the light in the eyes of a stranger we happen to pass.

It reminded me that life is much sweeter when we take the time to really see. We’re halfway through 2016 and I desire to ensure that I not only look, but also see.

What about you?  Are you so busy with your to-do list that you don't take time to connect with others whom you can learn from? Are you seeing the details around you or are you rushing through the sweetness and the beauty?

How might you stop and SEE? In what ways can you honor your gifts and also honor your need to connect?

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...........

PS - See you on the 18th!

Fresh from the blog:Bullet Journal Tips (And Why It’s Saving Me).   You may have heard the buzz in productivity circles about a concept called a “Bullet Journal“. It’s a great approach:  to shift from multiple apps, devices, planners, calendars, and slips of paper to track everything in one place. From the habits you desire to build to tracking appointments. From remembering to journal  to noting what you are grateful for to creating your list of To Dos.

Research has shown that writing by hand allows us to process our thoughts and connect with them better to our memories.

I’ve been playing with my own version of using a Bullet Journal since February.

It began with John telling me: the next time you’re at the auto-parts store, would you pick up some license plate bolts? Well, I’m never at an auto parts store, but I do pass one on occasion. But how the heck was I to remember?

About that time, I heard about the Bullet Journal concept and found myself intrigued. I know that writing things down helps me remember (because, of course, I never remembered those bolts).

When I cataloged the lessons I’ve learned in the last year, I couldn’t help but mention this Bullet Journal experiment:

A modified bullet journal process is keeping me sane. Daily recording all the things I desire to do and combining it with all the things I actually do has been eye-opening. It’s also been a loving way to reassure myself that I am never behind when I’m having a rough day.

Here are my tips for taking the Bullet Journal concept and customizing it to work for your life.

Watch the video so you’ll get the full picture of how the creator envisioned using the Bullet Journal.

Don’t get too wrapped up in making your Bullet Journal perfect. Perfection can be paralyzing. Be willing to write messy, cross things out, and write on the backs of pages.

Do splurge and use a notebook that you love. Yes, you can use any notebook, however, it’s less likely you’ll place importance on giving a Bullet Journal an opportunity to work for you if you. It’s important to invest in ourselves.

Do use a Table of Contents and number your pages. You can do this yourself or buy a notebook that has a printed table of contents and pre-numbered pages. (I use the Leuchtturm1917 Notebook in their A5 Size, which easily fits in my purse.)

Don’t let all the Bullet Journal blog posts and Instagram Images intimidate you. All those elaborate keys and special layouts may make you feel discouraged or overwhelmed. It does not have to be a work of art, unless you are naturally an artist.

Keep it simple. Use a simple organizational style.

Do use a pen you love to write with…but please don’t invest in a crazy collection of pens just so that you can color-code stuff in a way you’ll never remember.

Do embrace the concept of “collections”. A collection is a term used to describe notes and tasks related to a common theme. By keeping all your notes together for a particular theme, it’s easier to track your progress. Mine include: What to pick up the next time I’m out, a section for Modern Creative Life tasks, Writing Ideas, Tracking what I’m actually writing each week.

Did I mention to not obsess over perfection? It’s intimidating to see the bullet journals of artsy folks and give up before you get started.

Do consider the idea of the Future Log. This is a way to track long-term goals and mark milestones. Whether you are a long-term planner (or not), this allows you to take a few moments and look to the future.

Do create a goal list for the month. Writing your goals on paper will help you achieve them. You must also monitor them, so as you prepare for each week or day, you can migrate goals into your to do lists.

Do identify your top three priorities for each day in your Bullet Journal.

Now, for what’s kept me sane – my most important tip: catalog what you’ve actually DONE each and every day. 

That’s the magic my Bullet Journal is working in my life with that seemingly simple act, so let me explain.

Lists make us happy. Yet, we have a to-do list with dozens of unchecked items and we wonder why we never get anything DONE. My solution has been to remind myself that I often get stuff done; I’m just not giving myself credit for it.

Here are the details of how I use a Bullet Journal on a daily basis:

  • At the beginning of the week, I create a list of Things to Be Done. As new things come up, I add them to the master list.
  • Each day has its own list. I write down my most important tasks for each day. I denote appointments as well as approaching deadlines.
  • At the end of my work day, I check off completed items and shift incomplete items to the following day.
  • THEN, I take the time to write down everything I actually DID – the two loads of laundry, the weeding of the flower bed, the trip to Lowes for O-rings.

See, each one of us does dozens of things each day. Yet, the negative bias that we humans have looks at the gaps, what we are not doing, what we are missing, what we have failed to do. So we reach the end of a day and feel like we have accomplished nothing.

That gap. That’s what you need to learn to close.

That’s what using a Bullet Journal is doing for me – helping me shift my own Negativity Bias and close that gap.

So, if you’re game to experiment with your own Bullet Journal, don’t forget my most important tip. Each day, include all the things you do.

By daily adding to that list of what you’ve done all day – from the three loads of laundry to grocery shopping to shaving your legs – you remind yourself that YOU matter and all that you do counts.

Every task takes precious time. Everything you do for your family, your life, and your business matters.

Each day, write not only the things you desire to do, but track all the things you actually did as well. I’m talking the seeming minutia of managing a life including each load of laundry and each little errand. And, darling, this also means valuable time writing, reading, relaxing, and spending time with loved ones.

When you begin to close that gap, you begin to see yourself as successful and when times feel challenging, you’ll be less likely to go to the negative or believe that you “never get anything done”.

Just because it's beginning to get warm outside doesn't mean we don't sometimes desire a hearty meal. Enter the perfect combination of veggies, chicken and tomatoes for this Italian Chicken.

Cut  one and one-half pounds chicken breasts into bite sized pieces.   Season your chicken with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and Italian seasonings. In a Dutch oven, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over high heat and sear chicken on all sides, then remove seared meat to a plate.

Add four cloves of garlic (sliced or pressed), 2 large yellow onions, coarsely chopped, 1 pound Portobello mushrooms, de-stemmed and roughly chopped, 1 cup of shredded or roughly chopped carrots, and four ounces of pancetta that you've diced. 

Cook all this over high heat until onions are golden brown and fat has been rendered from pancetta. Drain the excess oil, then add one cup of white wine and stir the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to dislodge the browned bits. Add two cans of petite diced tomatoes, 1/2 cup of chicken stock, and a pinch of chili flakes and bring to a boil.

Return the chicken to the pan. Cook for 20 minutes, covered, then 15 to 20 minutes more, uncovered. 

Serve on its own, over pasta, or over Zucchini Spirals (something I've been loving lately!).

Volume 6 -Issue 12

June 04, 2016

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.

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.

My Book

You do not have to settle for a life that is less than what you most deeply desire. You may have to break the rules, but creating a life that is loving and nourishing is worth the effort. Because you deserve to be happy and live a daily life you love.

Part self-help, part memoir, in Create a Life You Love: Straightforward Wisdom for Cultivating the Life of Your Dreams I share down-to-earth advice and practical wisdom on what it takes to shift your life from surviving to thriving.

Buy it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or order your copy directly from me.

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

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