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  • Scent and MemoryTransitional Scents

Transitional Scents

Transitional times can either be the best times to try new scents, or the worst possible idea. It really depends on what type of transition is taking place, isn't it? Transitions happens when we find new love, lose an old one, move to a different place, complete or begin school, embark on a new career or let go of a previous one, take care of an ill loved one, or welcome a new family member.

At times like this, I find myself doing one of three things: find comfort in familiar, tried-and-true scents with which I have strong positive associations; try something new; or just avoid scent altogether.

1) Leaning on familiar fragrances to bring comfort
Like catching up with a good old trusted friend, it's wonderful to have a perfume (or two) which you know you'll always find comfort in wearing. To me, many of the classic Chypres have been just that: Miss Dior, Mitsouko, and my own Ayalitta. However, you should be warned that new scent-memories are ever changing with new experiences and new associations. For example: when my daughter broke her leg many years ago, I took my bottle of Mitsouko EDP to the hospital to make me feel better. It worked at the time. But then I was unable to wear it again for many months without remembering this harsh week at the hospital.

This is not surprising, and is also true for the memories themselves: they change every time we recall them. Each time we tell our story, it is being edited, so to speak...  Every time we experience a fragrance, we not only recall our past experiences, associations and emotions with that scent, but also create new ones. There is a dynamic relationship between our emotions, memories and scents. Every time we wear a perfume, we deepen the relationship with it as we encounter new people, feelings and memories along the day.

The beauty of this is, that we can change our own stories and give happy ending even to the most traumatic chapters in our lives. On a more perfumey notion: perfumes that we hated or brought sad, painful memories, can be turned around and become the bearers of happy thoughts and good news.

2) Experiment with a new fragrance, which will create new scent-memories for such significant time. 
This is the philosophy of "new life - new scent". It does, however, depend on a state of mind that fosters curiosity. Curiosity and playfulness have room to exists only when there is a sufficient amount of confidence and safety in place. Only when we feel safe enough - we will feel curious to explore a new environment and experiment with new possibilities.
I often have clients come to me at times of transition wanting to imprint this time of their life with a  unique scent. Once again, this is proactive way to shape your own scent-memories. The wind of change is often scented with new scents - of the a new home, a new work environment, smells of new people and whatever they've chosen to scent their lives with... Rather than passively waiting for new scent associations to come by (which they are bound to anyway!) - you'll remember this change in your life by something that you have chosen yourself.

3) Avoid scents altogether, as to avoid creating new negative scent associations.
Change makes many people uneasy or uncomfortable. Even if it's a so-called positive change, the unknown always has an element of fear, and cause of major stress. Even excitement for the future has more than a hint of anxiety mixed in. When embarking such unpredictable journeys, I often find it difficult to embrace scent in my daily life. There is so much to take in that scent may feel as imposing another excessive stimulation on an already overloaded system.  When a million thoughts are going through my head, sometimes it seems that experiencing the emotions that a scent inspires would just be an overkill.
If you feel like this, don't push yourself to wear perfume. Perfume is meant to be a pleasurable, enjoyable experience. Not a painful one. With that being said, you may find a renewed interest and comfort in simple scents from nature, or notice that your sense of smell is more keen now and notices more subtle aromas. Take pleasure in small things such as savouring the fragrant steam of a cup of tea and more nuanced smells of objects that you've never noticed before, such as linen, straw hats and wool. 

  • Scent and MemoryTransitional Scents
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