Behind the Scents with Tamya Parfum

The first rain in a desert country is something extraordinary. There is a word for it in our language, “Yoreh”. After the dead-dry months of dust and dried straw and broiling sun, the earth responds to the rain gratefully by releasing a haunting aroma and setting free the many seeds that are buried within her. They will sprout as early as the next day, and within a couple of days, the earth is covered with teeny signs of life of many species. The most significant plants, besides the bright green grass against the rich brown soil, are the Autumn Crocuses, aka Sitvanit ha-Yoreh (Sitvanit is from Stav, the Hebrew word for Autumn, and the Yoreh is the first rain). In other words – the Autumn Crocus of the First Rain.

The other species is a type of bluebell, which is called “Rain Bells”. A very modest sibling to the European species, as these flowers are tiny and quite rare. They don’t grow in groups as the European ones do, so one must remember where they emerged in previous years to find them.

After nine months of the best pregnancy I could ever wish for myself (or any other woman), and after 22 hours of labour (which I would happily fast-forward if it was only possible), on October 29th, 1996, at 12:50am, my 9 months and 22 hours odyssey to motherhood had reached its destination, and a beautiful girl took her first breath, which most likely had smelled of a combination of wheat germ oil in a hospital... That very night, the Yoreh had knocked on the roofs of the Western Galilee, and clenched the thirst of the dry earth. Two days later, when we came back home from the hospital, the earth was covered with the spouting grass. My mother and brothers came to visit. The clouds had already cleared (that’s what they do around the Mediterranean), and in the late afternoon and the magic hour just before sunset, the warm Autumnal sun has glowed on our euphoric faces and the little fruit-of-the-womb. We went for a leisurely stroll among the olive orchards and observed the same golden light glowing through the rare petals of Autumn Crocuses and Rain Bluebells with a peaceful feeling of wonderment in our hearts.

I am telling this as I am biting into the last creamy guava that has been scenting my house for the past couple of days. The scent of a guava fruit instantly reminds me of these first weeks ten years ago. The baby and me were fortunate to enjoy the nourishing abundance of Autumn fruit. My mom spoiled me with only the best of them: guavas, anonas (aka custard fruit), persimmons, pomegranates and the very first tangerines of the season – perhaps not quite ripe enough, but no one cares. The first tangerines are a symbol of autumn and the first days of school. They are still rather green on the outside but already ripe enough to enjoy, especially if you are a kid.

In summer 2004, I felt it was time for me to bottle that special magical hour and that magical autumn. I wanted a perfume that would be glowing like the diagonal sunrays just before sunset; I wanted it to be abundantly fruity; I wanted it to be as sweet as a baby’s breath, and tender as the scent of a newborn crown.

Bluebell Singing, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

I overcame the challenge of the composition by using a few unusual essences to compensate for the limited fruity palette of the Natural Perfumery Organ (guava note was out of the question, unfortunately): The precious oil of Yuzu, an exotic Japanese citron with an intensely fruity, citrusy, bright aroma (reminiscent of grapefruit and Clementine combined, but much better) as the main fruity note along with black currant buds absolute. For the heart, I chose mostly white florals, that all have a hint of fruit and are sparkling and lively: Jasmine Sambac, Hyacinth Absolute, Ylang Ylang and Frangipani. The base is milky and musky, with notes of ambrette, Atlas Cedarwood, Sandalwood and a tad of vanilla. The results were an instant success with the first trial. I had to later on eliminate the hyacinth, as it is a very unusual building block and very difficult to find. However, omitting it did not make a significant difference on the perfume. It still smelled like “Tamya”.

The challenge was with picking the name. I was chasing my tail trying to find nice French or Italian names for “Golden Dusk”, “Fruit of the Womb”, etc. Sometimes, the simplest things just stand in front of us and we stare through them blindly… After a while it dawned on me that I should simply use the name of the muse for this perfume: Tamya. And so it remains to this day.

P.s. Image of Sitvanit originally uploaded by Sibboleth

Miracles Happen

This is Tamya two years ago in early Fall 2004. Her femur is broken and she is sitting in a wheel chair posing for a newsletter of The Corporation. Her entire left leg is in stabilzed by a brace. This was the most traumatic event in her life. The pain and the helplessness has forced her to use language in situation in which otherwise she would have been self-sufficient. She learned to trust us, her parents, in every detail of her life and had to communicate more complex needs. She learned that she can lean on us to support her cope with pain. In a sense, this was Tamya's re-birth. It was as painful as birth and she emerged out of this extreme experience a completely different person. At the age of 8, the unbelieveable happened: Tamya started talking.

To read more about the story of Tamya's transformation, visit the Pumpkin Blog.
Don't miss tomorrow's last episode in the Autism Blogala: the story behind Tamya parfum. The winners of the Blogala Draw and the Annick Goutal quiz will be announced on November 1st.

At that time (Fall 2004) I was wearing Yohji more than ever, as I just discovered that scent. From than on, Yohji reminds me of this transformation from pain to sweet victory of overcoming one’s own obstacles… Yohji will forever remain a scent that is difficult for me to wear, as it brings the ambivalent feelings of this family trauma and the significant inner change it triggered in the three of us. Ironically enough for me, Yohji also starts green and with ozone notes that are peculiar and somewhat aggressive. Both notes are extremely difficult for me anyways (perhaps the only two that I have a very strong adverse reaction to)… There is also an intense bergamot note, like an intense sniffage of an ultra-fresh Earl Grey teabag. The ozone gives up on its domineering aspirations after about half an hour, and by the time you reach the basenotes, the greens grassy notes dry down (literally…) into the sweetest coumarin accord ever – just like fresh cut grass that is left to dry in the warm sun. Upon drydown Yohji turns around 180 degrees and reveals the most luxurious confection of vailla, caramel and juicy raspberry syrup, all dusted with a powdery comforting softness. I always wanted to write a review of Yohji, but the opportunity occurred only now. I feel that only within this context my impression and experience of Yohji is the most truthful (though extremely subjective).

Top notes: Galbanum, Green notes, Ozone/Oceanic notes, Bergamot
Heart notes: Praline, Raspberry
Base notes: Coumarin, Vanilla, Sandalwood, Musk

Happy Birthday to Tamya!

This year is the first year that Tamya can tell us how old she is: Ten!
She had the perfect birthday:
Lots of friends visiting
Birthday Cake (we made blackforest cake together!)
Pumpkin Carvin'
Lots of cool presents (mostly craftsy stuff, including smelly markers, scrapbooking stuff such as stickers and tracing templates, her first journal - with a lock! - and her very first set of acrylics and canvas frames!).

We now just got back from getting her favourite Gelato - four scoops as always: Mango, Black Sesame Seed, Spiced Pumpkin and Vanilla. Surprisingly - no coconut this time!
If this combination sounds weird to you, let's set the record straight: these are best eaten, according to Tamya, when mixed together, rather than enjoying them separately. Perfumery is all about mixing the unlikely component and creating a new whole that is greater than the sum of all parts. Tamya is showing early signs of talent in that direction. And did I mention her new signature mixture of her coconut body spray with her pineapple detangling spray? Smells divine, though not quite practical...

Please participate in our Blogala Autism Fundraising! Only three more days to go, and you can win cool prizes and also contribute to a good cause!!!

For more details visit:

Autism Blogala Announcement
Annick Goutal Mystery Scent Contest
Tamya Parfum Blogala Special

Today I was wearing Tamya perfume in honour of my daughter. It now reached the last phases of the dry down, which are soft and subtle musk and vanilla. A soft way to end an eventful day... Tomorrow I will be telling the story behind this haunting perfume, which is gathering a growing circle of admirers.

P.s. One of Tamya's little friends had a tea party in Tamya's room last night. She poured almost the entire content of her Diorissimo mini into one of the miniature tea cups. I noticed a very pretty and familir scent suddenly appeared around her and her mom towards the end of the day, but it didn't really occur to me what it was until I cleaned up the room the next day... And only tonight (when I was washing the dishes and the tea cup amongst them, which made the kitchen mysteriously gorgeous smelling) that I realized that the orange-coloured thick residue in the teeny tea cup was not ancient orange juice, but an evaporated Diorissimo!

Treatments for Autism + Tips for Parents

Autism cannot be cured. Thankfully, it can be treated. The earlier the diagnosis and the earlier an intervention program is set in place to support the child and the family – the better the prognosis.

Visit Tamya's Pumpkin Blog to read about other methods and approaches for treating autism, including Sensory Integration, Soical Stories, ABA, Biomedics, Dietary Intervention, Music Therapy, Art Therapy, Animal Therapy, and more..

A few tips about recruiting people to work with your child:

Funding for autism therapy varies between countries, states, provinces, districts and cities. There is one thing in common everywhere though: there are always limited resources, both financial wise and manpower wise. If you are fortunate enough to live in a country that funds autism, and have a budget to work with – use it wisely. Here are a few tips:

1) Use whatever resources you have to the max. Get the professional (and expensive) therapists and consultants to be in constant communications with all the caregivers and educators involved in your child’s life. Get the daycare teachers to do as many one-on-one sessions as possible with your child (be it a Floortime session, an ABA session, a Sensory Integration session). These can be really short sessions, as long as they are frequent and meaningful.

2) Spend as little money as possible (if at all) on any consultant that actually behaves like a consultant. You need to get advice from people that know your child enough to truly recommend anything valuable. Consultants that see your child once a month or less are usually useless, unless they are amazing experts in their field. You would probably be able to tell pretty fast though…

3) Work as a team. Treat your therapy professionals as a team, and make them feel good about being in your team. Team meetings are excellent, as long as they don’t happen too frequently. Once a month is a good timing. More than two months apart might be too little especially in the first years. Bring some treats to the team meeting too ;)

4) Be the team leader. The parents know what’s best for their child, and they should be the ones who make the big decisions on what’s important to work on.

5) Make sure your therapy and educational team is always in fluent communication with you and preferably also with one another. The more you open the channels of communication, the better treatment your child will get. Joint sessions can be one of the most rewarding experiences for both the therapists and your child. They will create an environment of collaboration for your child and more importantly – provide continuity between one session to another. Practice makes perfect…

The people you choose to work with your child on a daily basis are going to have a significant impact on your child life. So be sure that you and your child like them and feel comfortable and safe around them, regardless of how impressive their education and qualifications are.

Quite recently, in British Columbia anyways, funding for autism has increased and became more reasonable. This is a blessing as well as a curse. There aren’t that many therapists experience or trained for treating autism, and unfortunately there are a few that are attracted to the job because of the new funding more than the work itself. Obviously, you want the person working with your child to be passionate about helping them

Some parents and therapists could be as passionate about their treatment philosophy as if it was a fundamentalist religion. I am none such fundamentalists, and I don’t believe that there is one single way to treat autism. which uses the most effective techniques for each specific child, in a particular situation and settings. I am going to do my best to steer away from such controversies, and I will simply outline a few of the most commonly practiced methods, which are used in schools and in most early intervention programs.

I personally believe that an eclectic approach that includes the methods that are most suitable for the child’s needs is ideal. I have my own personal bias towards Floortime, as it was a very rewarding experience to me and prove to work for my child; But I wouldn’t go as far as rejecting any other therapy just because this is what worked for my child. ABA is very effective for children with severe autism. It may help for teaching the child preliminary tools that are needed for the next step. I am a practical woman (and I bleive most parents have to learn to be practical after being in the business long enough), and I think you should pick and choose what’s best for your child, in each and every particular situation. For instance, a child may respond well to the playful and stimulating interactions of the Floortime approach, yet need a structured ABA session to learn her math and typing; She may also need a “sensory diet” to help her regulate her nervous system, social stories before difficult events (such as visiting the dentist or getting her hair done), and may even end up needing the help of drugs to regulate her obsessive-compulsive behaviorus once the hormones starts kicking in around puberty…


Stanley Greenspan is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Behavioural Science and Pediatrics and a practicing Child Psychiatrist. Greenspan developed DIR aka Floortime, a unique therapy approach for working with children with special needs, which has been significantly successful with children diagnosed with autism, a neurological disorder that deeply affects the child’s ability to communicate effectively with their environment.

According to Greenspan’s theory, there are six preliminary developmental milestones, which underline all human intelligence and interactions with the world: language, communication, turn taking and other social, emotional and cognitive skills. The six milestones are:
1) The child’s ability to be interested in the sensation from the world as well as calm him/herself down.
2) The ability to engage in relationships with other people
3) The ability to engage in two-way communication
4) The ability to create complex gesture, to tie together a series of actions into an elaborate and deliberate problem-solving sequence
5) The ability to create ideas
6) The ability to build briges between ideas to make them reality-based and logical
(Greenspan and Wieder, 1998).

The Floortime approach is designed to help children that for some reason (i.e. their particular structure of the brain, etc.) did not develop one or more of those six milestones.
Floortime helps the child go back to the missing milestone and re-build it, so that more advanced and complex skills will be built upon.

The philosophy of Floortime is very unique and it is very humanistic in nature. It stems from deep respect for the child, and tries to use the child’s strengths and areas of interest in order to build upon new skills and to challenge the child. Also, it is most important to note that Floortime tries to bring out and nourish the internal motivation of the child in the areas of speech and communication. Rather than “teach” the child how to communicate, the parent/therapist/caregiver leads them to find their own internal motivation, from which stems the will and drive to communicate with us.

Another principal extremely important in Floortime is that children learn much better through activities that involve a relatively high level of emotional excitement, especially positive one. Actions such as raising our voice to a vivid, dramatized and high-pitched sound, making broad gestures, or engaging in a pleasant physical ativities are some examples of how we can bring the child’s system to a level of excitement that is optimal for their learning. The child will be more inclined to pay attention, engage in the activity, and as a result – close more circles of communication, and even increase output of language. When we follow the child’s lead, there is more chance the activity will end up being “high energy” and stimulating, and engaging for the child, since it is the child’s interest to begin with.

By following the lead of the child, the parents, caregivers and therapists try to increase circles of communication with the child. The focus is on how many circles the child closes, rather than the actual means of communication (the child can communicate with their actions as well as vocalizations, etc.; In some cases even “avoidance” is communication – if it is a response to a communication circle that was initiated by the caregiver). By responding to the child’s actions and acknowledging
his/her interest, we help the child step out of their “shell” and engage in the world outside them. It is essentially like inviting ourselves to their world, reach out to them, and than pull them out to be interested in the world around them.

According to Greenspan (1998), following these principals can change the structure of the brain of children that otherwise were known to “lack” the ability or the will to communicate. Floortime can be adapted to different needs and levels of communication.

Recommended reading:
The Child With Special Needs: Encouraging Intellectual and Emotional Growth by Stanley I. Greenspan and Serena Wieder. This book covers not only the basics of Floortime, but also brings case studies of both children and their families, including the families' coping styles with the child's condition.
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