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Back from Vacation Mother's Day Memories Awareness (and more)

Back from vacation....
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“Travel brings power
and love back into your life.”
--Rumi

How has your week been Blue?  Mine has been more than wonderful as JB and I just returned from a well needed vacation.  

I know this little love note is arriving a bit later than usual. We got home around 1 AM on Friday and I just didn’t want to send you something from a space of being too tired to think.  So, we went to bed at 10 PM last night and slept til 8:30… I’m having my coffee as I finish writing this to you…

So, back to vacation: we went to Grand Caymans last Sunday for a four night stay. I had chosen the perfect resort for our number one goal: relaxation. We had a room with a wrap-around balcony overlooking the ocean and resort pool. In addition to a comfortable bed, the room had a spacious bathroom and a fully equipped kitchen! Yes, I went to the grocery store so that we could have the ease of meals without having to deal with crowds or restaurants.

We rested, we napped, we read… We had some deep conversations, the kinds most couples don’t have time for during the day-to-day responsibilities we all have. We watched sunsets, ate lovely meals, and had lots of people watching opportunities.

As we were sitting at the bar watching the sunset from the beach side perspective, a young woman was so focused on getting the perfect shot of herself, she was totally missing what most of us had come to witness: the sun setting over the beautiful Caribbean sea. I got to thinking about how Social Media perfection has skewed life for so many, especially women in their 20s.

I was actually going to write about it today, but to be honest, I’m still processing what has me so, frankly, alarmed, about our ability to live a life that’s beautiful in its imperfection.

More on that subject soon….

Mother's Day is tomorrow here in the US and, to be quite frank, it's a bittersweet holiday for many.  Some of us have lost our mothers, some are dealing with the loss of a child, some ladies have chosen to not have children or have been unable to have children..... and others are estranged from their mom or children.  

Just a reminder that all the commercials and signs can be upsetting to some, so go kindly into the world this weekend as you encounter others.

If you’ve known me for long, you might know that my mother and I had a mostly adversarial relationship. My logical, coach trained brain understands that in all honesty, my mother suffered from mental illness, most likely bi-polar depression.  They just didn’t diagnose mostly functioning folks back in the 70’s, ya know?

I don’t know if you’ve seen the movie “The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood”, but  JB and I watched it while we were taking an afternoon break from the sun, and so many of those scenes felt Oh, so familiar. Not just the childhood scenes, but the adult scenes, too.  Like one time, when my mother got angry at me, she DID cut me out of a bunch of family pictures…..

Yet, the more I do my own self-growth work, the more I understand that much of my mother’s behavior was fueled by demons she never came to terms with.  That understanding doesn’t always make it easier to remember the good times, even when I get that pang of wanting to call her or ask her a question.

When a relationship feels so stressful and embattled, it’s so easy to focus on all the rough times – the anger, the outbursts, the bitterness. We humans are wired to the negative bias…

Now that seven years have passed, I am finally able to find the glimmer of good moments over the bad ones. Before we left for vacation, I was in Macy’s picking up a new swim suit cover and a beach bag, thanks to my “gift with purchase” from the folks at Lancome…and I wandered over to the Estee Lauder counter to chat with the young man there and saw that they had my mother’s perfume: Youth Dew. Sold by Estee Lauder since the 50’s, a classic scent. (and according to the gent at the counter, still a big seller!)

And oh, just the scent took me back. And for the first time in a long time, those olfactory memories were all good and loving and fun tinged nostalgic memories. Back in the 70’s, Estee Lauder could only be purchased at Neiman Marcus, at least in the DFW area. So, a trip to purchase perfume involved getting dressed up and often included a trip to Neiman’s Tea Room….

I was tempted to buy a bottle, that hour-glass shaped bottle with the little gold bow…but I don’t think I could wear it and not feel as if I was sneaking into my mother’s bathroom and pretending to be grown up.  Instead, I purchased another fragrance from Estee Lauder,  a nod to my mother’s favorite indulgence with a shift to embrace the woman I have become, much thanks to how I was raised.

I called my sister on my drive home and asked her if she had seen or smelled “Youth Dew” and we both were able to bask in the memories of some of the best moments with our mother. And I stayed in that space of peace around who she was and found it easier to remind myself  “she did the best she could with what she had”.

When I talk about doing the work to create a life you love, this is in part what I’m talking about. No one escapes childhood unscathed, and if we desire to have a life that is emotionally safe and peaceful, we have to work through the rough memories and find ways to allow the feelings of  highlights wash over you….

Both of my children are miles away, so tomorrow will likely be a nice little brunch cooked by me and hopefully it will be warm enough to sit on the deck to enjoy it. When it comes to mothering, I have to confess that I wondered if we’d all survive those teenage years. Yet, when I look at how each of my daughters had created a life on their own terms, I am grateful.

The rest of our weekend will be a mix of vacation recovery (hello, laundry, my old friend) mixed in with more relaxing and reading.No matter what your situation, I hope you enjoy the spring days, all the women around you, and the beauty of life. And do something extra special for yourself this weekend - whether it's some quiet time with your coffee, a trip to the fragrance counter, or a little walk around the neighborhood to breathe in the beauty.

No questions to ponder this week, hopefully what I've shared gives you some fuel for fodder....

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: Why Awareness is Worth the Trouble  When it comes to living a life you love, one of the first pieces of advice I give is to dive into your own self-awareness. Yes, even though it not always easy to look in the mirror and see who we are, warts and all. You may be asking why awareness, then, is worth the trouble. That’s because without awareness, you are cutting yourself off from the very tools you need to, not just pursue your desires, but enhance the quality of your everyday experiences.

So, what is awareness?

Self-awareness is the ability to observe ourselves – why we react and how we behave – and not only accept what we discover, but make informed decisions about the changes we want to make. Awareness is also the ability to be honest with ourselves about our weaknesses and strengths, as well as our thoughts, motivations, and emotions.

Why awareness – often done through a personal inquiry process – is a regular assignment given to clients is for the sheer reason you don’t know what you don’t know, even about yourself.

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.

“Self-awareness is not self-centeredness, and spirituality is not narcissism. ‘Know thyself’ is not a narcissistic pursuit.” —Marianne Williamson

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 our ally awareness?

Let’s be honest, sometimes too much self-awareness can be downright exhausting.

Despite this, awareness is always worth the trouble. That’s because, without taking the time to observe how we feel about what we’re doing, seeing, or experiencing, it’s impossible to feel fully engaged.

Or, as I have to remind myself regularly: when you plant new seeds, the first thing to come up is dirt. Yet, before anything can bloom, working through the dirt is necessary.

Eighteen Reasons Why Awareness Helps Create a Better Life

  1. Awareness allows you to make changes from an informed mind
  2. When you are self-aware, it helps you pursue desires and goals
  3. Being at peace with who you are is another reason why awareness is important to a quality life.
  4. Awareness helps you make better decisions
  5. When you are self-aware, you will naturally have higher quality relationships
  6. Self-awareness allows you to be a better communicator with everyone in your life because you are clear on your personal needs
  7. Awareness is important if you want to live life with a clearer purpose
  8. If you want to curate a quality life, self-awareness is critical
  9. Living with contentment is a sign of being self-aware
  10. When you choose awareness, it allows you to accept the responsibility of changing responses and behaviors to any – and all – external stimuli : people, situations, life
  11. Awareness allows you to not only reflect on the outcome in life situations, but contemplate your role in them.
  12. Why awareness is helpful is that it allows you to roll with life challenges with more grace
  13. Self-awareness serves you in creating a higher quality of self-care
  14. If you want a life that feels well rounded, you’ll need self-awareness to make it happen.
  15. Pursuing your passions requires a healthy dose of awareness
  16. Folks with better emotional intelligence are typically very self-aware
  17. If you want to learn to listen to (and follow) your intuition, then you’ll need to grow your self-awareness
  18. Why awareness allows you to be yourself is the ability to do so, even even if you make “unpopular” choices

Self-awareness is one of those soft skills they don’t teach in school. The choice to recognize the power it has to increase the quality of our life is worth the patience – and yes the pain – it will inevitably bring about.

You have other options. You can choose to ignore the opportunity awareness provides us in enhancing the quality of our lives and the lives of those around us. After all, the process to become more self-aware can be awkward and uncomfortable, and it can seem easier on the surface to just pretend life is ok.

The trade-off, though, is that the unease and discomfort you may feel are only temporary. In fact, those feelings are doing an important job: they’re alerting you to some aspect of your life that need tending or cultivated before you can move forward.

Just as we survey a garden to identify the weeds and over-grow plans before we kneel down to work, self-awareness is the way we take stock of yourselves. Find that weedy or overgrown corner, tend to it, and discover an increased quality of life.

PS - I did write a second blog post since I was last in your in box.  It's about spring cleaning and lingerie...

Click here to read: Upgrade Your Undies As Part of Spring Cleaning
 
As I restock my kitchen after vacation...and find myself just too tired to make a big meal, I turned to one of my standby recipes that tastes like it has a cup of cream, but is gloriously healthy.:  Pan Roasted Cauliflower Soup.

In a large pot, cover the bottom with a healthy pour of Olive Oil.  Add 1 chopped onion, 1/2 a head of garlic (peeled and smashed), and one head of cauliflower (I usually chop it into individual florets).  Add one teaspoon of dried sage, one teaspoon of thyme, one teaspoon of oregano, and a dozen fresh grinds of black pepper.

On medium-high heat, stir the veggies and spices in the hot pan until the onion begins to turn translucent.

Reduce heat to low and add about 3 cups of Chicken Stock - I prefer (homemade stock  - you can find my recipe here)You can also use Vegetable stock if you want a vegetarian soup.

Cover and simmer for 45 minutes, until the cauliflower is tender enough to cut with a fork.

CAREFULLY pour the contents into a blender - do not fill your blender more than 3/4 of the way full....you may need to do this in batches - as it will be HOT. I always place a dishtowel over the blender in case of spatters from the hot contents.

I add several healthy grinds of fresh pepper when serving.  I love it just like it is...but if you want to entice other palates, you can always add bacon crumbles, shredded cheese, chopped chives on top....

We served this with Instant-Pot poached chicken and a little salad.

Volume 7  -Issue 10

May 13, 2017

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.

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