by Amy Vincent – Providence, RI
When was the last time you asked, “What’s that smell?” Now think about which word you would use to describe the odor (stench, reek, stink) or the scent (fragrance, aroma). Welcome to the good, the bad and the super powers of smelly…
Fact is you can read through your olfactory content about the regular disco dance taking place between your nose and your brain in volumes of heavy science literature, or you can trust you already know this from your personal lifetime full of experiences highlighted by smell. Your brain will ignore what it regularly smells on a repeated basis, but take action when, in an instant, an unrecognized detection triggers a memory or a voyage into interpretation and understanding led by smell. For example, three explicit smells come to mind that cause quick reactions for me: pancakes, National Grid and unicorns.
Like when I smell maple syrup, prior to actually tasting it, the roof of my mouth turns it into a sugar cave with a tiny Neanderthal tracing away. I also imagine sugar cubes getting a spray tan. These images in my brain start with something I smell, and it’s not long before I taste maple syrup. Note to self: the start-up is always smell and the reactions can be fascinatingly predictable or completely unknown if only momentarily. Much like the smell of gas when I realize that I have left the pilot on somewhere. This drill is a tad different than the joyous maple syrup experience because as the scent travels into my nose through my throat directly down to my stomach, I usually ask, “Is someone starting a car in my kitchen?” When I don’t actually see a car or a mechanic or John Travolta singing “Greased Lightning,” I remind myself that the metallic, heavy, chemical scent is actually a poisonous gas, and I make my way to turning off the burner. Again, I find myself explaining to the dogs how I understand their frustration with me and the fact that paws do not have thumbs. Certainly last but not least, I think all speaking creatures would agree that certain smells actually cast spells and well, you know, it’s not long before Barry White is playing somewhere with scented candles. If you’re asking, “What’s smell got to do with it?” I’d like you to meet my friend, Calvin Klein. The Obsession ads paved the way in smolder city with a smell-tastic launch of watch what happens when I show a picture of this guy’s nose in this girl’s neck.
So how can any of this work to our advantage? There will be no discussion of da’ stinks here; lots of things smell bad, Captain Obvious. Nobody wants to read about them. What I want to share with you are two basic scents and how you can influence a favorable change. Aroma therapy does not require that you no longer wear a bra, learn to chant in Sanskrit, or stop watching Fox News. Let’s just work on creating an awareness that clues you into how you can manage specific instances in your life using smells.
Start with the fact that it is more than likely that you’re having one of two kinds of days: everyone at work wants to poke your eyes out as you keep explaining how you arrived two hours early or the thought of starting your engine is so overwhelming that while brushing your teeth you see yourself as a silent movie star miming the word “why” over and over. Your dilemma is either you need to calm the bleep down or you need to wake the bleep up. Here are two simple remedies you can mix up tonight for under $15 each. I’d spend a bit of time in that great, big beautiful market that arranges apples so perfectly that most fourth grade students argue that the pyramids are red. Folks that work here are super, smiling, happy, and helpful and the product supply is everything Hoover promised.
Lavender: This scent is primarily floral so it is best used to calm, soothe and promote a general state of rest. It can be used for minor burns, so keeping it in the kitchen benefits two-fold as you busily clang around grabbing hot pan handles. Favorite mix: equal drops of lavender, geranium, and roman chamomile into jojoba oil. Do something cool like get the bottle from a yard sale and say it’s an ancient gypsy remedy that your grandmother invented, even if your grandmother is really an accountant. Keep it with you at family holidays, the Registry of Motor Vehicles and public school meetings.
Mint: The variations of mint are extensive, but all classify as herbal. A sniff will surely revive, and provide some serious stimulation. Favorite mix: fill a spritz bottle with equal drops of mint, eucalyptus, and orange into equal parts grape seed oil and witch hazel. Give the spritzer a name like “Winona[PW1] ” from the show “Good Times” because she certainly could handle anything. If you find yourself in a position described as slumped, give it a spray, lovey.
Amy Vincent has two teenagers who are not in therapy, lives with two dogs that are writing a tell-all book, believes the best education is free and is known to quote a line from the Godfather once a day. She enjoys looking at art and talking about it if no one else is around and spends a lot of time thinking about how to make the world a better place because most people deserve it.