Fair warning: This blog post has nothing whatsoever to do with quilting.
I tend to be, oh, how would I say it, "reactive?", "sensitive?", "especially tuned in?" to smells. Sometimes that's not altogether a good thing--it's not unusual for me to be with my family and find my stomach suddenly turning from something I'm smelling...and no one else even notices. But usually it's a nice thing; I enjoy nice smells, and smells have strong memory associations. Certain twists of the wind and suddenly I'm a little kid back on the rock beach at my family's cottage on the lake growing up; another twist and it's a flashback to playing frisbee on the green between two dorms at college. I can't grind my coffee at the grocery store without burying my nose in the bag when I'm done and taking a good, deep, inhale. ("Yes, judge, that's right--I inhaled. Deeply and with great pleasure.") My husband sent me flowers for my birthday last week and every time I pass them on the kitchen counter I bury my nose in them again. OK, so a couple of them make me sneeze but it's worth the deep sniff.
I don't think I'm particularly unique in this--I think lots of us respond strongly to smells in one way or another. After all, it's instinctive. Our little animal selves aren't that far removed from those who rely on a sense of smell to tell them whether the one approaching is friend or foe. But what about how smells make us feel about ourselves?
I really enjoy wearing a nice perfume. I don't have many--just three or four (and a couple of random samples still sitting on my vanity as I milk them for all they're worth). I tend to swap out which I'm wearing by season. But those perfumes have lasted me an insanely long time because, sadly enough, I don't wear them out much anymore.
I work for a religious organization with boards and committees--when I travel, I'm usually traveling to be at meetings in stuffy conference rooms with said boards and committees. Over the last several years, we've inevitably had at least one, if not two, people on the board with severe allergies, for whom the slightest scent can send them into asthma attacks or severe migraines. I've seen it in action--I fully believe this is an issue for some. So we now use unscented candles in all of our worship times; we've stopped wearing perfume to meetings; we're careful about our hand creams and our hair sprays. It's all about avoiding the scents.
I've become so used to it, in fact, that I rarely wear perfume out at all anymore--somewhere in the back of my mind is always the caution: What if the person sitting in the airplane seat next to me is allergic? What about that person at the next table over in the restaurant? In church on a Sunday? At my quilt guild meeting?
A few weeks ago, I found myself looking at the perfume on my bathroom vanity with a little sadness and (admittedly) just a touch of resentment. "Shoot," I thought. "I miss wearing perfume." Suddenly I realized, well, duh. Just because I work from home and the only other ones who will smell it are my dogs doesn't mean I can't wear perfume every day! No more keeping the expensive stuff for special occasions. No more thinking perfume is for others to enjoy. I love the way my perfume smells, so why not enjoy it every day for myself? So for the last couple of weeks, every morning after I take my shower and get dressed, I put on my perfume.
I might be sitting here in shorts and a tank top, and haven't laid eyes on another human being since 8a when my husband walked out the door this morning, but dang it, I smell good. Wearing perfume somehow makes me feel just a little better about myself--a little more special or something. Like I'm doing something just for me, my own little quiet enjoyment in a day. Funny--my dogs haven't even noticed. Or maybe that's why they're laying especially close to my feet at my desk these days. Maybe they think I'm getting dressed-up-in-doggie-terms just for them. After all, their little black noses are all about the smells.
Regardless, I'm feeling just a little bit more special these days. So what do you do to help yourself feel just a little bit more special?
(Image by misteraitch through Creative Commons: http://www.flickr.com/photos/misteraitch/)