The Power of Smell

Smell is such an important part of our lives.  Imagine the pungent aroma as you walk into a pizzeria or coffee shop.  Think about snuggling into freshly washed sheets, still warm from the dryer.

My oldest daughter and I spent a night at my parents’ house this past weekend.  We walked in to be greeted with the aromas of roasted turkey, boiled potatoes (oh, yeah, that was the other part of the meal I couldn’t remember), and my mom’s green bean casserole, which is truly superb and my second favorite thing she makes (behind shrimp creole).  Sometimes there’s a candle burning – Stormwatch by Yankee Candle – but not this particular time.  When it was time to shut it down for the night, I snuggled down in sheets that were sweet with the scent of Mom’s dryer sheets.  As the world woke up the next morning, that most amazing of scents wound its way up the stairs and crept under the closed door, stealing its way over the bed to tickle my nose.  With a happy sigh, my mind registered the smell of Morning Blend coffee; Dad, at least, was up and had started the coffee.  My last visit there, it dawned on me that one day, I would wake up at my parents’ house, and they wouldn’t be there to start the coffee first thing.  Terribly sad thought, and a reality that I hope is a few decades down the road.

I grabbed my shower, enjoying the bar of all natural carnation soap with which I’d gifted my parents five years ago that I’d put in the upstairs shower.  The towels smelled like their fabric softener and reminded me of my best friend’s towels, so there were wonderful scent associations with that.  A note of musk in my deodorant smelled like something I associate with my heartmate.

After church and a visit to two museums, we returned home.  I went upstairs to change clothes, and wham!  It hit me as soon as I walked into my bedroom.  It was the undefinable smell of home.  It was this blend of clean laundry, the people who share it, and some crazy, nuanced blend of blueberry, orange blossom, and scuppernong soaps, which are the choices in the shower right now.  (What can we say?  We’re soap whores.  And those are just the bar soap options.)  It was a most welcome smell after being gone.  My space.  A space in which I had a hand in making homey.  That is sacred space, and it was all because of a smell.

What smells are triggers for pleasant thoughts, memories, and experiences for you?

What Was I Thinking?

Last week, I got this great idea to start doing squats.  As I really, truly hate squats with a passion, and it was the week I’d determined to do taxes, which is also not my idea of fun, apparently I was truly a glutton for punishment.  I thought about doing an abs challenge, and my abs could use more work, but crunches don’t faze me.  I started with twenty squats, which is bad enough.  Feeling all good and mighty, I googled “30 day squats challenge.”  Oh crap!  I was supposed to have started with FIFTY squats.  FIFTY!!!  5-0.  There’s that many Shades of Grey.  (There was masochism there, too.  Hmmm…)  Well, I was determined to do this, and it’d be dumb to give up before I even started because it might be hard.

I gamely did my fifty squats, and I felt great!  Great, that is, until I tried to walk down the stairsThe Big Bopper sang a song back in the 50s called “Chantilly Lace,” and one of the lyrics says, “A wiggling walk and a giggling talk make the world go round.” Pay attention around the :37 mark.

(I promise, I won’t tell if you start getting up and dancing around your office.  It’ll be our little secret!)

So the 30-day challenge starts with 50 squats.  No big.  Except for the fact I had that “wiggling walk” going on and could barely make it down the stairs safely.  Day two kicks it up a little to 55 squats.  I was almost working up a sweat with these, and in trying to figure out what to do with my arms, I thought, Hmmm…  I could add a curl to this and work my arms, too.  Right after, the probably more rational part of me said, “That’s crazy talk!”  I was good as long as I stretch my legs before walking, sitting down, standing up, or climbing stairs.  You can imagine how challenging going to the bathroom painlessly was.  That more rational side of my mind was beginning to convince me to give up.  Just quit.  Let my thighs quit hurting and get back to normal.  Then the crazy, business woman side of my brain kicked in.

“Quit!?  Are you kidding me!?  No!!!  We’re not going to quit just because things get a little hard.  Remember, pain is weakness leaving the body.  Now, quitchur bitchin’ and do today’s squats.”  I didn’t have time to knock out my 60 before church, but I was on them afterwards.  Before I went upstairs, I took a detour into the garage where I keep my work-out equipment and grabbed a hand weight.  (I couldn’t find the other one, but I did find my younger daughter’s missing soccer ball, so for today, I was BEST MOM EVER!!!)  I went up and changed out of my dress and heels and added arms to my squats.  Know what?  Today’s squats were easier.  I’ve still got a little bit of that wigglin’ walk going on, but I’m getting around OK.

Sometimes, business is hard, too.  That promising customer doesn’t reply back to my email.  That batch of soap suffers a grand mal soap seizure so that the beautiful swirl I envisioned looks more like a particularly nasty crime scent.  A wholesale stockist closes its doors.  One of my girls or I get sick right in the middle of putting together a huge (talking multiple hundreds) item order.

Around every September, I think about quitting.  Just selling off all my remaining inventory, getting rid of most of my ingredients and supplies, and enjoying life without curing racks and with plenty of space to work on some sewing projects I have queued up, and it’s usually because of one particular account.  Then, ego kicks in, and I don’t have any desire to give up my customers and accounts to anyone else.  They’re mine, darnit, and I worked very hard for them!  So I muscle through, and you know what?  As I’m plowing through the work once again, I discover that a whole bunch of my colleagues and friends also think about quitting once a year, so I’m not alone in this.

I will beat on.  I’ll grit my teeth and gut through 26 more days of this 30-day squats challenge.  I’ll keep pushing my business, knowing that huge growth often follows those thoughts of quitting.  And I’ll be stronger and better for it.