It's amazing to me the extent to which aroma can so profoundly impact my mood/memories. Before my brain can even recognize what's happening, the smell of a pina colada snowcone puts me onto a rubber mat at an old cement waterslide in Sunset, LA (where I lived as a child) with Ronnie Milsap playing on the loud speaker. Every time we left that place, we did so with bloody knees and elbows. It's kind of a mystery that we loved it so much. But I think it might have had something to do with the fact that Mom always let us get snow cones at the end of the day, and my favorite was pina colada. I love that memory!
Aerosol hairspray fumes transport me right back into my 80's cheerleading days when the only thing bigger than my ridiculous shoulder pads was my infinitely more ridiculous permed and teased hair. Questionable as to whether or not that should be labeled a "good" memory, but it makes me giggle for sure.
And the festive smell of pine envelopes me immediately in all things Christmas, taking me back to year after year of adventures in choosing the perfect REAL Christmas tree for the living room of my childhood. My Mom has a fake tree now, which is so much easier, but I'm so grateful for the tradition of the real Christmas trees throughout the years. Such fun and meaningful memories for me.
The gift of smell is a powerful thing indeed. For most of my life, I've largely left these situations entirely up to chance. Meaning, if I happened to get a whiff of one of those smells, I would enjoy the moment briefly, but it never took long to move on and forget about it pretty quickly. Those moments are still great fun--the times when a scent takes me by surprise and walks me down memory lane. But recently I decided that if something so simple can bring such joy, why would I not be more deliberate about it? Right?
And so. . . I'm creating my own mental library of homemade versions of aromatherapy, and so far I'm loving the results. These are some of my favorites:
Lemon: When I need a little boost or just a spark of energy, this works every time. I challenge anyone to be in a blah mood while zesting a lemon. I bet you can't do it. I can't.
Ginger: Grating fresh ginger has almost a spa effect on me. So yummy and relaxing. Makes me take long, refreshing, deep breaths and savor the moments.
Coffee: Oddly, this smell has the opposite effect on me than it does on most other people. While for most I'm told it is a call to wake up, for me it triggers a moment to relax. I'm guessing this comes from my years and years of work in corporate retail, during which stepping away from my desk for a few minutes to pour a cup of coffee was one of my only escapes from the hundreds of emails and stacks of paperwork I was facing each day. I still use coffee that way. Rather than pour myself a cup first thing in the morning, I'm much more likely to get up and knock out a list of chores and save my coffee for a break after getting the work done. Probably kind of silly, but it works for me. ;-)
Roast: If ever I'm feeling homesick, you can bet roast will be on the menu soon. Something about the smell of a roast in the oven or crock pot all day conjures up some of my favorite family moments. A roast always meant one of two things when I was young--either we were all home to relax and enjoy the day together playing games, doing puzzles, etc. OR someone special was coming over. Either way, it always meant a fun day spent with people who loved me and I them. I wonder if my girls will feel the same way. There's something about serving up a meal of roast with all the fixin's that makes it more of an event than just a meal.
Lavender: I'm not sure I can think of anything more relaxing than the smell of freshly clipped lavender floating in a warm bath, which is why I always have at least one big bush of it growing somewhere in my yard. So much better than Calgon. ;-)
Bacon: I'm sure this doesn't need much explanation. But in addition to smelling amazingly delicious (which is enough to make me happy), bacon tends to say ADVENTURE. As in--a Saturday morning with no schedule that lets you have a nice breakfast and then just go wherever the day takes you. I love it!
Cinnamon: Certainly, it's yummy any time of year, but since it is a spice that tends to be more prevalent during the holidays, cinnamon almost always puts me in a festive mood and somehow makes me start my mental gift list for all the people I love. It makes me want to craft and bake and write letters and make scrapbooks and maybe even shop a little.
Vanilla: Something about vanilla signifies clean to me. It's one of my favorite candle scents, and I developed a habit a long time ago of lighting a candle after cleaning my house. So something about vanilla makes me want to curl up with a book or a movie, knowing that the chores are done, and I can sit still for a little while with no guilt. I like that.
Rosemary: This one is a bit of a mixed bag that can trigger a number of different things, but all good. Sometimes it has that "someone special is coming to dinner" effect kind of like a good roast. Other times, it has more of a spa effect like a an herb-infused facial or body lotion. And then other times it's similar to the ginger effect. Nothing specific--just makes me slow down and take some good deep breaths so I don't miss the glorious fragrance while I'm chopping it for whatever recipe I'm working on. Any of these are certainly enjoyable, so rosemary is always a welcome scent for me.
The tiny jar of avon lotion I keep on my bathroom vanity. I lost my Memaw several years ago, but all I have to do is open that little jar, and I'm immediately right in her lap again with her arms around me and her giggle in my ear. She had the jolliest giggle ever. Oh, how I love that little jar for putting it back in my mind over and over again!
Those are some of my favorite smells and a bit about the effect they have on me. What are some of yours? I'm adding to my list all the time. Maybe some of your energizing, relaxing, or nostalgic scents will have the same impact on me. I'd love to try!