Monday, May 21, 2018

Body Chemistry Perfume Profile: Is There Such a Thing?

My goal is to recruit as many people as possible to the world of perfume addiction, and to that end, my brother is coming along nicely in his fragrance junkie grooming.  For example, he rocks Caron Yatagan, the fragrance that launched his perfume journey and fuels continued exploration.  As a business owner, his talents are both technical and aesthetic, which lend themselves to a unique and thorough perfume analysis.  We have talked of planning a 1/2 day perfume outing (and still will), but in the meantime, my sister and I did a Sephora crawl to jump start the process and pick out a few scents we both thought he might like.  Last week, I hand delivered these to his work for an impromptu sniffing session.

Samples included:

Bleu de Chanel Edt
Atelier Trefle Pur
Commodity Moss
Commodity Book
Terre d'Hermes
Azzaro pour homme

We sniffed and discussed and compared each sample, returning again and again to the paper strips during the drydown of each fragrance.  His top choices for further skin testing at a later time were (in order of preference):

Commodity Book
Atelier Trefle Pur
Bleu de Chanel Edt

During our sniff-off, he asked an interesting question. 'Is there a foolproof way to know what perfume will work on different body chemistry?'  I thought of all the largely useless perfume quizzes that include favorite place to vacation,  favorite season, etc.  He continues, 'what about the specific food people eat or the alcohol they drink?'  (My brother is a bourbon aficionado, which informed this question and also created an instant connection with Commodity Book.) 

I'm intrigued by this there such an analysis to know in advance how a perfume will mix with one's specific body chemistry? Hmm.

Photo from iStock

Sunday, May 13, 2018

It's Mother's Day...Again

Big days are hard because I'm often overwhelmed by the expectations and end up just wanting to retreat into myself and do nothing.  When Mom was alive, Mother's Day was inevitably one of unfulfilled desires and heaviness.  Our relationship was complicated so the ease that allows for imperfection did not exist.  And striving for the perfect day was not authentic to our relationship.  So however the day was acknowledged, I was left either feeling guilt-ridden for not doing enough or tied to a commitment of false closeness that couldn't be fulfilled.

Now that Mom is gone and I am left to pick up the mantle, that too feels awkward.  My son and I are close and we regularly express our feelings for each special day is needed to reinforce our connection.  Because I didn't have this with my own mother it is now one of the greatest gifts of my life.  Even so, when Mother's Day rolls around each year the guilt ghost of the past returns and I feel anxious about accepting some self-imposed duty to be more motherly, to be 'extra' something.  As both a daughter and a mother the unease of this day remains.

I envy those who delight in spending a day with their mothers feeling comfortable and relaxed in the knowledge that nothing needs to be proven, that the important stuff has already been expressed.  For others like me who face their own struggles - who strive to make the day meaningful but never quite hit the mark - I salute your efforts and wish you peace on this Mother's Day.

Photo from USA

Friday, May 11, 2018

Dreams of Letting Go


As a clinical social worker, my job years ago was to work closely with physicians and nurses to meet both the physical and psychological needs of patients. Then my career started changing. At one point in my rise as a leader, a physician friend asked me, 'are you really going to squander your clinical talent to take that position?'  His words stung at the time and now they return to echo through my life again.  I did set aside my clinical talent to fit the mold of business operations.  At all points, I surrounded myself with people who could fulfill this function and disguise my disinterest in data analytics, tedious improvement processes and continual auditing and tracking of results. Pretending is hard work, and I begged the universe to bring about a change so I could feel alive again.

That change has come in an unexpected way, and letting go is never as easy as it seems.  For the last week, my dreams have revealed this fact through stories that haunt me through the night.  Like the story of finding myself on a business trip across the country before realizing I no longer have a job...wondering how to flee the situation before being seen.  Or sitting down with the CEO so he can explain the company cannot offer a severance package and I need to simply walk away with nothing but gratitude for having worked there in the first place.  In that dream, I eek out one big alligator tear in response.

But it's not just dreams that haunt me.  Even reports from colleagues of having made a positive and lasting difference sting unexpectedly when they are meant only to soothe.  Perhaps that's because there was so little joy in my work during the final years when joy and meaning in my work has always been a priority.  What ended up happening - advancing through the organization and placing my worth on those achievements - robbed me of what I want and need most in life; to make a difference in the world through the authentic passion of my heart.  It's still my dream.

image from

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Henry Day

Our Grandson, Henry

Becoming a grandmother (Grammy) has turned my world upside down in the most wonderful way possible.  Henry comes to our home on Sundays and - for now - on Wednesdays, too.  Excited to see him today!  This boy is a charmer extraordinaire and his love of laughing and engaging makes me remember the simple joy of being alive.

Henry likes to play with body sprays (start training him young, right?) and he reaches for them whenever he walks by my perfume cabinet. Now he understands they are for smelling, not eating.

Photo courtesy of Henry's father.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Next Chapter: Staring Into My Future

I'm still processing.

Five months ago, the organization in which I've built a 15 year career informed me that due to a major restructure, my role and many others would be 'sunset.'  That's corporate speak for shitcanned. After helping with the transition and finding no other fit, May 1st marks the beginning of a self-imposed one year sabbatical from work.     

I have no idea what to do with myself.

Last Friday, determined to be useful, I come home with new comforters for the beds because it seems like the right thing to do.  On Saturday, I return them, but not without visiting Burlington to cruise perfumes.  Then I go to the Rite-Aid by our home...yet again...which is in the process of going out of business.  Perfume discounts are 50%, but the lonesome check-out lady says everything will be discounted 90% the last two days before closing.  That isn't for another week so I keep stalking their cheap perfumes just in case they pull a fast one and start the 90% off without telling me.  

Yesterday, my raison d'etre is to find a body lotion that smells mild and won't clash with the cheap perfumes I buy at Rite Aid.  So I wander around Target with other people who wander around Target mid-day on Monday only to feel annoyed with both the people and their scintillating phone conversations:

'What am I doing?'
'I'm just in Target doing a little shopping.'
'What are you doing? Uh-huh. Uh-huh.'
'I really shouldn't be much longer - can I call you then?'
'Okay...what?  I didn't hear you...what?'

You're killing me.

When I first learn my job is ending, I try coping mechanisms that helped in the past: solitary time in the morning burning candles, writing in my journal and then brief meditation. One month in, my journal has become the Book of Misery and I start talking back to the guided meditation. 'YOU focus on your breath.'  It clearly isn't working. 

Perfume is the only thing that always works.

Nothing else enters my brain when I'm playing with perfume.  It is the rest that I hope to get from meditation...focus without effort, beauty through aroma and a shift in mood. Since December, I have added 20-30 perfumes to my collection.  Inner Farm Girl isn't happy, but most are mainstream and relatively inexpensive so she hasn't snapped just yet. If she does, I will blame YouTube...Shana J, Ami Loves Perfume, BeautyNotes, Tiff Benson and others. They have amped up my love affair with perfume, made me laugh and helped my anxiety come down so I could sleep at night.  They don't know it, but they saved me.

This blog began as a tribute to my mother and a celebration of perfume.  Now I am back to share my journey as a displaced baby boomer contemplating life's next step with the help of a little sillage.

Image from  


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