The Courage to Look Backward

There is an avid debate over whether the Memories feature was a good or bad idea on Facebook’s part. I, however, have found it to be at least useful in one particular case. As I have been looking through them each day lately, I have once again seen–surprisingly plainly–just how God has been preparing me for a reflective shift in my life. As you know, Dear Reader, for this month of November, my writing and reflections are centering on courage. It’s striking to see just how God has been brick-laying in advance.

Inspired by Lin-Manuel Miranda’s daily practice on Twitter, I post daily good-mornings and good-nights on my personal FB page (and, sometimes, on my blog page), in an attempt and the hope of of encouraging my dear ones. Looking back through those previous posts, I am seeing more and more how they, too, were focusing on courage. A full year ago! Look at You, God. Way to prep!

It takes courage not only to look forward but also to look backward, to look at the past and see just how we have gotten to this point in our lives. Yes, sometimes, looking backward is hard or painful. Sometimes it can make us wince to see where we were then or to re-experience what we were going through, even when a year removed from the actual experience of it. For me, it is a comfort and a relief to see this evidence of preparation, these next places being made ready for me…when I have the courage to look forward again.

NaBloMoPo Day 20: Follow Your Nose

The inspiration is running low as I have been laid out with a sinus infection over the past few days. But I did have a thought, that tied into another thought, and, if I’m lucky, those thoughts might just birth a blog post that makes sense.

My sense of memory is very strongly tied into my sense of smell. Certain smells remind me of certain people, places, and experiences. I also use smell in my creative process to develop characters, be they for stories or for roleplaying games, or what have you. It is most readily evident in my live action roleplay characters, as I tend to wear specific scents for specific characters. And the scary part is I remember them.

Aislinn Davis – Warm Vanilla Sugar & Cotton Blossom (Bath and Body Works)

Dovasary Windemere – Sensual Amber (Bath and Body Works)

Esther Julian – Bright Crystal (Versace)

Delilah Croft – Secret Wonderland (Bath and Body Works)

Betsy Martin – Black Amethyst (Bath and Body Works)

I still have all of these scents in my collection here at home and, whenever I smell them, I am reminded of the stories woven by and around these characters and the stories still yet to be told. It makes me smile.

Now, I have a rule when it comes to scent and it goes for both men and women: They should never smell you coming but, once you pass, they should not be able to forget you. The point of the scent is to draw someone in, not repel them like a force field. Draw them, illicit a smile, seduce them, implant yourself in their memory. That is the point.

I have a love/hate relationship with my sense memory. I remember the first time I activated it. It was a boy, my mom’s boss’s son. I had a huge crush on him and only saw him during the summer. He wore Tommy Hilfiger. I didn’t know it at the time but, while my mother and I were perusing the perfume store, I picked up the cologne and smelled it and all I knew in that moment was him. His voice, his laugh, his playful hug, the cookies he brought every morning. I eschewed the pansy little scent stick, and asked my mom for a Kleenex, which I covered with the scent. When I took it home, I kept it in a plastic bag to preserve it, along with the one letter that he sent me. Yes, I was a bit of a sap at fourteen years old.

Flash forward almost ten years to the first summer that my husband and I spent apart when we were dating, I took his college sweatshirt home with me. When my mom found it, she said it needed to be washed. I grabbed it from her and told her no, that was the point. I slept with that thing every night for the three months. I could smell both of us mingled on it by the end of the summer and it gave me a great deal of comfort. When people pass me and smell like friends or family members, I often turn, expecting to see them somewhere around me, even though I consciously know they aren’t there. But the memories are and those remind me that I am never really alone.

The Taste of Dreaming

Dream of Stars by `zeiva (

I am a sensory dreamer. Those are my favorite (and most terrifying) type of dreams: the dreams where I can feel, smell, hear, and taste things. I can never quite “see” very well in my dreams, oddly enough, but my other senses can be needle-sharp at times. I can feel a person hug me, smell them near me, hear their voice reverberate in my ears, and feel kisses and touches tingle along my skin. I can feel the warmth of the tears that roll down my face, feel my chest swelling with the heat and sting of crying. There are times that those tears have even spilled over into real life and I have awoken sobbing, unable to stop. Even though that can be difficult, heartbreaking even, I still love those sensory dreams.

I have dreamt about my daughter before, years ago. I dreamt of rocking her in her nursery in the middle of the night, watching her in the moonlight as she settled down to sleep in my arms after eating. I could feel the soft, warm, sleight weight of the child in my arms, hear her little coo as she yawned, and watched her scrunched up her little fists under her chin.

I have dreamt dreams of such peace and beauty and love that, even while dreaming, I struggled to burn them into my memory so that I could remember them when I awoke. I have jolted out of bed in the middle of the night, so compelled by a dream that all I could do was get up and write it down. One night in grad school, I spent an hour sitting on the edge of the tub, writing down a dream in the bathroom so that I wouldn’t wake my roommate. The images and the story were just so powerful and moving that I refused to lose them. I have dreamt dreams that are so detailed as to amount to a memory. I have been reminded of them by the way the sun shines, a certain smell in the air, or particular words that someone might say or a look they might give me that strikes me with a certain déjà vu. I remember looks and kisses as if they had really happened, events and encounters as though they were facts.

We are told that dreams are our subconscious working out the things that we do not let to the forefront or things that lie dormant within our minds. I do not know what parts of me all these dreams are trying to reveal but I will admit that I do love and enjoy these dreams and the lasting impact they have on my memory.