Despite the darkness, I still see you

“Mama said there’d be days like this…”

Yes. Mama did say that. She said there would be “days.”

Not weeks.

Not months. 

In fact, Mama had NO IDEA there’d be times like this. She didn’t have words of wisdom from years of experience to soothe us through the kind of world we’re living in right now.

My sophomore year in college in northwestern Massachusetts, we had a blizzard on the 4th of October, November, and December. That middle snowstorm was accompanied by a blackout.

As you can imagine, we college kids without typical real-life responsibilities didn’t take it so badly. In fact, we did a darn good job of making the most of it.

We took over the common areas of our dorms, where there were various forms of competition, ranging from "manly" pillow fights in the pitch black:

to my forte, foosball, by candlelight:

Once the adrenaline (and, probably, the alcohol) was spent, there was further avoidance of...

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We Know What We're Missing

Are we living in an incredible age, or what? Not only are we able to find and keep in touch with friends from 20 years ago but we can make new friends across the globe with similar interests online.


But when was the last time you called someone up out of the blue to go shopping with you that day? Or stopped by a friend’s house on only 5 minutes’ notice, for a cup of coffee and a chat? For me, it's been years, more precisely: decades.

I’ve had several conversations over the past year with women around my age and from various parts of my life (family, high school friends, networking acquaintances, entrepreneur powerhouses, you name it). Despite their large social circles and their personal or business success, every single one admitted to being lonely. Deeply lonely. Like, sit-across-the-table-from-me-and-brush-away-the-tears-at-the-mere-word lonely.

How can so many of us feel so adrift when we’re connected to so many others 24/7?

I was...

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Never Let Them See You Sweat

Yeah, right. As if. If you'd spent even 5 minutes in Cary, NC, over the last few weeks of "autumn," you'd be laughing at that, too.

But I'm not talking about actual sweat (though that does play a role--keep reading). I'm talking about making the experience of those who visit me live up to their expectations--and hopefully beyond--despite what's going on behind the scenes.

Take last Saturday, for instance. With 3 private parties on the books, I knew it would be a busy day that required a lot of energy. I left the house later than I wanted to (as I always do) but with what I expected to be just enough time to set up.

Only, Cary doesn't have suspended railroad tracks on my route to work. And both Amtrak and freight trains sit in--I mean traverse--town daily. 'Nuff said.

Anyway, I zoom around the studio when I finally get there, making sure everything's ready. Only I don't seem to have enough labels for the number of bottles for the day.

No problem, I'll print more....

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No Line on the Horizon

You see the picture below? That's me, lying down on a patch of grass—the kind with no ticks and no chiggers—in the shade on a warm afternoon. After living in NC for 23 years, that brief moment last month way farther north than here was heaven. It was like stepping back in time to my young-teen years, with no heavy responsibilities weighing on my mind and an infinite number of future paths ahead of me—and no hurry to choose one.

Do you remember those days? They seemed so overwhelming and angsty at the time, right? But wow, how preciously simple and hopeful were they?

In a couple of weeks, my business will be celebrating its fourth anniversary. Can you believe it?! I have enjoyed meeting so many people, both studio guests and other local business owners, throughout those four years. It's not only been a fantastic learning experience, I’ve even helped people express their own unique sparkle in over 600 custom perfume formulas. It’s been amazing!


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The Season Is Changing and So Should Your Scent

In my part of the world, Spring has arrived (and so has the heavy yellow-green pollen from all the pine trees: yuck!). The thermometer will rise (along with the humidity) week on week until I'm ready for a vacation at the ice hotel.

I can see you nodding in resignation.

Did you know aromas get more intense as the weather warms up? It makes sense, though, right? On the plus side, fresh herbs really come out once they hit a puddle of hot olive oil. Super yum. On the minus (like BIG minus) side, you can smell the garbage truck before it even arrives at your house. Super eww.

 You know what the people around you can smell in the dog days of summer—from several feet away? That spicy oriental you love so much and spritzed on this morning. And you know what? It's making them hate you.

Don't be that person.

When higher temps arrive, it's time to lighten your scent. As your skin warms up, it makes the scent there radiate farther from your body and seem much, much stronger than it...

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Over the Sea to Skye

Where's your favorite place in nature? The place that touches you to your core?

Mine is at any body of water, but the coast specifically. It almost doesn't matter what coast—I just need the surf rolling to shore, a salty breeze, and an occasional glimpse of sun. I'm actually happier walking along the water's edge when it's cooler. And quieter. And, well, a good deal less bright.

Here's the thing: I'm really pale. I mean, like, burst-into-flames-vampiresque pale. I've known two shades my whole life: porcelain white and lobster red. Clouds are my friends.

I found the perfect combination of my favorite seaside elements in Scotland last August. Touring there was like a bucket within my bucket list: every time we neared a coastline I became giddy.

What about you: do you come to life around water? Like each wave that hits the shore takes your worries with it as it rolls back to sea? That's what it does to me. I'm invigorated and calmed by the surf at the same time.

For our 10-day...

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Finding Spring's Promise

The calendar says spring is only about a week away.

Hah! I'm not buying it. What about you?

One of the reasons I remained in the Research Triangle after my divorce many years ago rather than return home to Long Island was that, well, it's just so darn cheerful here. Seriously: Strangers smile at each other. Neighborhoods are beautifully landscaped. And the skies are blue—even in winter.

Except this year. When I really, really need the blue.

I'm normally one of those weird folks who actually enjoys the occasional rainy day and who tends to recoil from an overly bright sun—I did live in England for a year, after all. But the gray skies and drizzle day after day, week after week this winter are more than I can bear.

So when an emotionally taxing weekend with my memory-impaired elderly mother was followed by the sun poking its head out from behind the clouds for a few hours a couple of Mondays ago, I simply

had. to get. outside.

Have you ever hopped in your car and started...

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"Seafood sizzling in the fry basket, Cheer Wine bubbling at your nose..."

Since opening my business, I've been viewing the holidays through a very retail lens. It's advantageous to be mindful of the steps that need to be taken, preparations that need to be made, and calendars that need to be followed for the season to be "successful." But as Christmas Day approaches, I've begun to realize paying too much attention to those targets means missing the spirit of the season itself. And, per the immortal lyrics of the Waitressses, "I couldn't miss this one this year."

It should come as no surprise that most of my holiday memories and joy come from smell. All of us associate certain scents with the holidays--some expected, some less expected. I hesitate to say "traditional," though, because tradition isn't an objective term. A tradition is built up from repeated, somewhat ritualistic practice. So your traditional holiday scents may indeed be very different from mine, or at least for different reasons...


Ah, yes, the cheery smell of mint:...

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Technology Stinks (and Not in the Good Way)

I imagine some of you may be able to relate to the following situation. I started a blog--as you do--on one blog site in the hopes of maybe moving my whole existing website there to update it and keep everything together. But I found their services less flexible than I'd wanted, so I left the blog there and just fed the posts through the site I already had.

Fast forward a year and a half, and I've finally committed to moving my site to another service (here). But because it has ITS OWN blog service, I can't seem to pull in my existing blog from the other service. Maybe people more technically tenacious could figure it out but, frankly, I'm tired of making work what has to work and would rather get back to what I LIKE to do. As my iPad says:

 For continuity's sake, here are links to the few and proud posts I'd published on that service: 

The Fragrances of My Life So Far (17 March 2017)

Beauty in the Breakdown (9 November 2016)

Scents of the Summer Gone By (Trip 1) (3...

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The Fragrances of My Life (So Far)

My love of perfume started when I was about 9 years old with a couple of mini bottles of upscale scents my grandfather gave me during an ice storm cousins’ slumber party at his house. The standout among those precious bottles, and my go-to through my late-’20s, was Chanel’s Cristalle Eau de Toilette. The description on a vintage box I recently found online is spot on: “A brilliant burst of fragrance with the freedom of cologne and the force of perfume.” Reading that now and looking back through my perfume choices over the years makes me realize that’s the effect against which I’ve judged all other scents.

It’s not surprising, then, that I found most women’s perfumes in the ’80s and ’90s overpowering or cloyingly floral, or both. During my teen years I routinely embarrassed my best friend by trying on all the men’s scents at department-store fragrance counters. I preferred the earthy “realness” of...

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