The perfumed powder whiffed past me, and it was as if she was sitting right next to me. It is truly amazing that a simple smell can conjure up hidden memories. As a freshman in college I was alone listening to a sermon in a church outside the known boundaries of my new campus. Staring at the pulpit I drifted in time through the heavy aroma of the fragrant powder. The recognizable scent made me feel as though my grandmother who had recently passed away was sitting by me on the pew.
Smell is our most powerful sense. The ability to appreciate the bouquet of our lives helps us enjoy food or an experience, remember another time and place, or bring sadness and fear. The interaction is fascinating. Our olfactory responses can take us by surprise and scare us, but they can also be a consistent and comforting reminder. The crisp smell of pine reminds me of walking in the woods with my daddy, and cakes baking with warm and spicy traces swirled together stir up memories of my mother in the kitchen.
We crave pleasant fragrances and good memories, but also have to endure stench as well. Cigarettes, mold, bad food, and unpleasant times have those distinct foul odors that pass through our lives and sometimes stick with us. Stale spoors can cloud our minds and make us feel awful, even remind us of pain.
This sense is not just about emotions. The science behind our nose is impressive and has a direct link to the areas in our brain that are key to learning and memory. Each of us learns differently, and though it might sound like crazy science, more and more studies are proving that incorporating certain scents can have positive impacts in different areas of our lives. It is common knowledge that aroma enables us to enjoy the food and drinks we consume, but it also helps our minds and bodies perform better. Recently I read research on the benefits of peppermint concerning the performance of athletes. Years ago I had heard that peppermint helps with the alertness of students taking tests, so on test days when my children were young I usually had peppermints to offer them as I dropped them off at school.
Elevating the pleasant flavors in my life, I have been cleaning out the old and stale to make room for the new and fresh. Every breath we take breathes life into us and is filled with a variety of fragrances. Of course we can’t avoid the occasional putrid odor that wafts past our noses, but we can choose to replace them. Clearing out drawers and closets, then bringing sweet-smelling bouquets into our lives is always a good idea!
If you are having a tough time getting rid of the potent pongs in your life, some experts suggest purchasing cheap vodka to remove bad smells in the air. I say go ahead and buy the good stuff then set it out for as long as you can tolerate waiting before enjoying a nice cocktail. That should not only improve the aroma of your home, but also your mood! White vinegar is also suggested as a good solution for soaking up those stinky smells, but probably not as fun.