THE BLOG

Sensory Memories: Trigger Moments of Your Life

04/08/2015 05:27 pm ET | Updated Jun 08, 2015

Time is a strange thing. It has a constant presence and continues to slip and fall away from us. It's something that constantly leaves us and at the same time, it's all we have. I'm about to graduate college, and I feel like time is speeding away from me. I am in full sprint to the finish line, but not the peaceful kind of run, the kind where someone is chasing you. A major part of myself wants to be able to live and relish in these moments I have, especially in an environment where I am constantly surrounded by friends. How do I hold fast to these days that seem to slip by? How have I done this over the past 22 years of my life?

The only way to understand time after it's already gone, is through memories. Not the kind of memories that come to us out of the blue, but the kind you force yourself to think about. The best way to recall these memories is through our senses. Rummaging through old photographs is an easy way to do this. But what about those moments a camera did not or could not capture? What else do we have to work with? Our sense of taste and our sense of smell.

The strongest memory sensor we have is smell. There's some real science behind this. Olfaction is our sense of smell which is controlled by the olfactory bulb. The olfactory bulb is part of the limbic system, which is an area of the brain closely associated with memory and feeling. Essentially a smell can bring forward a memory, instantly. When I'm trying to create or recall a memory, instead of looking through pictures, I bring out candles. As a true New Englander the only candles I burn are Kringle Candles. They are homemade, homegrown and the fragrances are as authentic as my memories. You really can't get any better than that.

People can often associate smells with different times of their life or tend to gravitate toward specific smells during certain seasons. Call me basic, but I love my pumpkin or mulling spice smells during the fall. It brings up images of visiting local farms, crunching leaves under your feet, and feeling the air change from warm to cool. I grew up in New England, so part of my fall traditions entailed going on hay rides while sipping on warm apple cider. These are traditions I have grown out of, but ones I purposefully conjure up because they're precious moments from my childhood.

During the winter, there is a gravitation toward smells that remind you of the holidays, like Christmas stroll. Which for me has been a tradition since we started having Christmas at my Aunt and Uncle's house. They live right down the street from a private beach and "the cousins" would change into our comfy shoes, walk down and have an impromptu photo shoot. It became our wishful thinking of the summer months.

Summers are always filled with sunsets. If you weren't out until the sun went down, then you mind as well waste your summer away. I'm the type of person that lives for the summer and the beach, so I take up every chance I get to be in the sun. And of course, there is nothing more beautiful and breathtaking than a summer sunset. I always find myself stopping and staring at one, or pulling over to the side of the road to catch one. A way to stop time.

The best habits I've formed are burning candles while I'm studying or relaxing at the end of the day. I always have 100 things going on at once, so anything I can find to relax myself I hold onto. It's therapeutic. Vanilla is, hands down, my favorite fragrance. And apparently I'm onto something, because vanilla is one of the most popular ice cream flavors in America and according to BBC, is considered the "Chanel No 5" of flavors.

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"It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness," (Eleanor Roosevelt).

I try to capture my moments through pictures, but I hold fast to them with smells. Especially when I am trying to remember what it felt like during a specific period of my life. Embracing memories is important because it helps bring light back into our lives. The sense of smell is so powerful. I can't even count the number of women who buy the perfume their mother used to wear because it helps them recall memories.

And those smells usually help you think of the happiest memories. Candles act as a symbol for the passage of time. We adorn birthday cakes with them for a reason, adding yet another candle with each passing year. I bet right now, you're thinking about the smell of freshly blown-out birthday candles. Our sense of smell is that powerful.