I Journal Using Sensory Prompts
We love to travel, but I have a poor memory. I rely on photos, scrapbooks, and travel journals to save those memories. I like to tailor my travel journals to each trip, adding in journaling prompts, quotes, and date stamps. I usually include little envelopes for ticket stubs and paper placemats, etc. Somewhere along the way, I threw in a list of sensory prompts. Those short, little snippets bring back floods of memories to the whole family. We’ll get to talking about a trip and they’ll ask me to read off some of the lists. Sometimes the funniest and most memorable of these snippets are the “I smell…” pieces.
Olfaction, more than any other sense, is so successful at triggering emotions and memories. In fact, studies have shown thatthe olfactory system has a direct connection with two parts of the brain that are strongly linked in emotion and memory. Oddly enough, the sight, sound, and touch perceptions don’t pass through these two areas.
I failed to create a journal for this trip before we left. Luckily, I wrote out these sensory prompts on the plane ride home. It started with a handful and the more I jotted down the more memories and thoughts came back to me that wanted to be sure to remember.
Memories of the Countryside
I love to walk in the countryside. That peaceful, simple, and open space always reminds me being at my grandparents’ farms. Visiting the farms during my childhood always meant discovery and adventure.
As an adult. I crave the solitude of more rural spaces, away from cars, and hustle and bustle. I especially love walking with no purpose other than to enjoy being outside.
Walking across Wales we encountered a couple of unmistakable scents of the countryside, namely, poop and silage. Since we walk through field after field, and literally through barnyards,there is so much poop! Of course being a gardener, I associate it with fertilizer and healthy plants. Round bails of hay are wrapped in black plastic to ferment the feed. These are stacked in huge rows and one can smell the fermentation before one can see the stacks.
The scent of Family History
Homes that have stood for centuries have a distinct scent. Dusty, musty and an unidentifiable unique smell of each family. We stayed in many homes along the way. One, in particular, had been in the family 400 years. That means the books furniture and other family treasures, passed through the generations, had collected years of perfumes, cooking aromas, dust, tobacco, detergents, pets, various spills and who knows what all.
Heavenly Butterfly Bushes
I mentioned before that I enjoy gardening. It was a hobby that came as somewhat of a surprise to me and my family. As a child, I hated to get dirty. I hated to sweat and I feared all the creepy crawly creatures in the vegetable plots my parents gardened. Somewhere along the way, I developed a deep connection with earth and the beauty it can provide. I discovered the joy of nurturing plants.
One of the first plants that I ever planted was a butterfly bush.I encountered one in a friend’s garden. I was not so much interested in attracting butterflies; I loved the color and the heavenly scent. If you’re not familiar with the butterfly bush, it can grow quite rapidly! Soon it was taking over the garden but couldn’t bear to cut it back! I quickly learned it needed some space to flourish.
On our first trip to the UK I was completely taken aback at the mere size of the butterfly bushes. With so much unspoiled countryside they flourished indeed into tree-sized, gloriously scented giants, that reminded me of my first little garden in my first little house
Deep Woods of Fantasy
The dampness and darkness of a woodland can create some very memorable smells. For me those smell remind me of days played in the woods behind our house. When it was safe for children to play outside, mostly unsupervised. We built things and discovered tiny creatures, played chase and hide and seek until sometime just before dark our moms would call us time for dinner. At night i’d fall asleep thinking of all the discoveries I’d made and what we would play tomorrow. Good Times.
#30in30paintingchallenge! Day #15 & #16
I’d love to hear from you, share your olfactory story in the comment section. What’s the oddest scent that brings happy memories to your mind?
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