Do you know that feeling where everything within you feels warm and safe?
This feeling is usually associated with a person or landscape. Certain smells can also bring back the tenderness of a person's smile or a delicious sunset. For me, two of these smells are freshly brewed coffee and soft bread toasting. I can recall moments in my past where this aroma enveloped my surroundings. I get drawn into light laughter with an edge of teasing between relatives around a worn antiqued table. I am taken to moments of gentle banter over slow-cooked scrambled eggs with others wishing the eggs weren't quite as slow. The memory of returning snow-covered from a freezing toboggan expedition comes flooding back. Usually, my cousins, sister and I would end up in some hedge or tree dodging twigs and branches. These moments were always surrounded by a loving glow and dappled with the fine fragrance of a nestled home.
One person that is attached to this feeling is my Aunt Faye. As a child, I would stay with her often during the holidays. Her home always had a smell that would feel instantly calming and safe. Faye always had a contagious laugh and willingness to see the lightness in things. I don't remember her ever getting frustrated or angry. I only remember her being consistently kind. Perhaps this baseline of constant behaviour helped settle me into a place of deep comfort.
Since childhood, many of my experiences have been unpredictable. People, like my aunt, who were consistent in their manner seemed to have a hum of warmth. That hum echoed a sense of safety, and a knowing that the person would always remain the same. It can be thought that being predictable is playing it safe or not expressive. I feel that there is a balance. If the constant is an open and non-judgmental approach it allows others to connect to you more deeply. This kind of predictability is more like having a solid root system rather than a fragile foundation. There is a certain quality and energy to people who are like this. They seem to create an atmosphere that allows you to relax and lean into welcomed conversation.
The past years have brought many loved ones passing. Each person has left a gift of learning behind, and it is always there if we wish to see it. Living life and considering what gift we wish to leave behind can help guide us onto the best path. The path can sometimes feel challenging and daunting. Remembering that in each moment we are at choice is empowering. That choice might be a slight shift in mindset or a plunge into all new terrain.
For me, Faye left behind many lessons of warmth and love. I still feel the love and laughter that embraced my life each time the delights of coffee fill my room. I try to pull together traditions of coziness in the kitchen and banter around a table. I hope that others will feel the gift of comfort through these gathering moments just as I did at my aunt's house.
We can let our loved ones live on through the traditions we choose to keep. We can choose to let our memories fade or be vibrant and full. We can pause each day and bring them back to memory allowing a gentle smile.
Breathe just for a moment, and let the pause settle. In these moments, we can feel the love and warmth of the past. Within the pause, we can be reminded that life is a little more opulent because of those we have loved.
Andrea Lines is a mental health advocate and life coach with a passion for dynamically supporting change.
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