May Muguet Marathon: Mother’s Day

May Muguet Marathon: Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day to all who celebrate it! Just as May is the month for May Day and muguet, it is also the month when we recognize and appreciate mothers. So today, instead of commenting on a specific fragrance, I’d like to share a bit of Lily-of-the-Valley folklore. Apparently, one of its other names is “Our Lady’s Tears”, or “Mary’s Tears”. According to one website: “It was said that when Mary wept at the foot of the Cross, her tears fell to the ground and turned into the tiny fragrant blossoms of this early spring plant. In England it had the name “Our Lady’s Tears” because when viewed from a distance the white flowerets gave the appearance of teardrops falling.” Continue reading

What Went Well

What Went Well

What went well this week?

  1. My husband and I went to see the most glorious display of daffodils — literally millions of them in full bloom, at a place called Gibbs Gardens. Because I told him a while ago that I’d like to do that, to give him time to process the idea, and because when I reminded him, he sweetly said right away, “Let’s go!”. The flowers were spectacular, winding through the woods and up and down hills.
  2. We spent last week at the beach! Because we decided with a lot of travel planned for the summer, we would have a more relaxed spring break. We are so lucky to be within driving distance of beautiful beaches.
  3. We shared the city of Charleston with dear friends, and they loved it. Because, after all, what’s not to love in Charleston?

Have a great week and count your blessings!

What Went Well

What Went Well

This week’s three blessings:

  1. Vacation with my family! Because I am overdue for a restful break from an often stressful job, and my favorite thing to do is spend time with my family.
  2. Seeing old friends. Because two dear friends from our grad school days came and spent part of this vacation week with us; and no one understands you quite like the friends you made when you were young.
  3. It’s really spring! Which makes me very happy because there are more and more flowers blooming every week, including some of my favorites like daffodils.
What Went Well

What Went Well

For some reason, it has been a little harder this week to remember to count up my “three blessings”, although it hasn’t been a bad week. In fact, it was a GOOD week, because we had a lovely Valentine’s Day. So here goes:

  1. We had a lovely Valentine’s Day! And actually a whole Valentine’s weekend. Because my dear husband couldn’t wait for Sunday to give me a bouquet of red roses, so he gave them to me early; and because we and the kids made a luscious brunch together on Sunday.
  2. My special programs at work this week are going well. Because my small team worked very hard to get the daily wellness events and details right, and people are responding to them.
  3. I had a short chair massage! Because in the midst of carrying out wellness programs for everyone else in my workplace this week, I was reminded to take a break for myself too — I had forgotten how great even a short massage feels!

There. It has been a pretty great week after all; remembering that is the whole point of “What Went Well”, so I guess it worked!

What Went Well

What were my “three blessings” this week?

  1. My sisters and I teamed up to handle a caregiving crisis with our elderly mother, and all’s well that ends well; she is fine, and a reliable caregiver is back in place. Because we shared information and divided up tasks, and supported each other.
  2. My nice husband has finalized some lovely travel plans for the whole family. Because he loves us and shows that by the many things he does for us.
  3. I had lunch today with a really nice new colleague and that makes me optimistic about improvements to come in my workplace. Because it is better to work with happy, thoughtful people than their opposites.

What went well for you this week? Please share in the comments! Have a great week and weekend!

“The Smell of Loss”

“The Smell of Loss”

Normally I post about fragrance on or around Fridays, in my weekly “Fragrance Friday” blog post. But this weekend’s New York Times had such a stunning, beautiful op-ed piece, The Smell of Loss, that I just had to share it.

The first time it happens is a dark winter’s afternoon, not quite a year after her death. I’m at my desk working, and there it suddenly is: sharp, glassy-green, with that faint, musky undertone that catches at the back of your throat.

I recognize it instantly: the scent that hung in our hall every time she came to supper. The perfume that clung to her coat, her scarves, detectable sometimes for hours on my babies’ hair after she’d been carrying and kissing them.

That first time, it’s a shock. Her perfume is something I’ve long forgotten (in her final months, mostly bedridden, she was beyond all that). But here it is — absolute and definite and quite overpowering.

The author, Julie Myerson, is describing the signature fragrance of her beloved, deceased mother-in-law, which she starts smelling at unexpected moments, for minutes at a time, with no apparent source such as clothing. She consults experts:

I email Jay A. Gottfried, a neuroscientist who runs the Gottfried Laboratory at Northwestern University, which investigates the links between brain activity and sensory perception.

Professor Gottfried tells me that what I describe is known in his business as “phantosmia” or “phantom smells.” The sense of smell, he says, is our most ancient, primal sense and has “intimate and direct control over emotional and behavioral states.”

You really have to read the rest of this article, it is wonderful. Enjoy! Have you ever experienced this phenomenon?

Illustration: Aidan Koch, for The New York Times

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.