Monday, September 18, 2006

Sense-Sational Living

I think life can be quite pleasing to the appetite if we’re willing to experiment with the ingredients a little bit. Instead of following the traditional recipe – go to college, study hard, get married, start a family, maintain a career – Spice it up a bit! Add a pinch of thyme, a dash of old sage and a little hot “sass.”

I don’t know about you, but my senses demand to be used and appreciated. To me, living is not simply an act of getting up day after day and earning money to support my lifestyle. I like to nourish the little moments in between. Indulging in all of my senses makes me feel alive and aware. Allowing my attention to focus on what I am experiencing gives me a renewed sense of balance. Sometimes that involves a touchstone of some sort, sometimes a need to get away and yet other times it’s enough just to drum up a good memory.

Growing up I always wanted the toys that smelled good. My Mom always recalls how from the time I was 3 until I was 7, our house smelled like strawberry shortcake. Now, my house is filled with candles, though admittedly, none of them smell like strawberries. I crave candles with scents of eucalyptus, bergamot or sage. Something about those scents transport me into another place. One with history, wisdom and a story all it's own. Why is it that certain smells can propel you into the past? For me, it’s the smell of chocolate chip cookies baking. Instantly, I’m back in my mother’s kitchen, adding the flour and measuring out the brown sugar. Naturally, I make a point to bake cookies as much as possible.

When it comes to food, I’m a mixer. I mix my meat with the mashed potatoes and I spill gravy over onto my vegetables. I appreciate the combination of different tastes. Confusing my palate with different types of ethnic foods, or a new wine is actually quite a rush for me. Some flavors become habit, while others are a momentary treat. Personally, I savor the mornings when the coffee is measured out so perfectly I could drink 10 cups in spite of the uncontrollable foot shake that would result. Tasting food and drink, instead of rushing to finish is very important to me. Combining good food with good friends is the perfect recipe for a very satisfying meal.

With good friends always comes sincere touch. Have you ever encountered a stiff armed hugger? They hug you like suddenly their arms have turned to lead – cold and unable to bend. I like a good hug. So much can be said between two people without a word being exchanged. I cherish the hugs shared between good friends. Touch goes beyond physicality between two people though. Everyday we encounter millions of textures. How often do we notice? Nature cooks up the best texture in my opinion. Some of my favorites are grass between my toes, cool water racing over my skin and rough rock beneath my fingertips.

Nature also offers beautiful sounds. Listening to the bugs start their evening serenade as the day winds down and the evening begins is therapeutic for me. Sitting beside a river bed, I let my mind race with the sounds of the water flowing by. Also calming for me is hearing the wind blow over an open field on a spring day or howl through the trees during a gusty evening. Deafening thunderclaps from a passing storm remind me how safe I am in my home. Other sounds evoke emotions within me as well. Different types of music make my mood dance with rage, love or energy. To agree with Maya Angelou, the human voice is perhaps the most beautiful instrument of all. Laughter seasons my heart and sweet words drain stress from my day.

My mind often works in photographs and text. I am a creative soul, so I’ve always been visual. By the minute, my mind describes to me what my eyes soak in, almost like poetry. I have countless photographs stored away in my psyche. I can equally appreciate the gentle details of a tree trunk and a sweet moment observed between a loving couple. I relish the details. I notice the way a drop of rain hits a puddle rather than the amount of it falling from the sky. I see the look exchanged between two people instead of the event that is taking place in front of me. I favor my visual awareness more than any of my other four senses.

I consider myself rather adventurous in spirit, so I visit my senses quite often. I pause to understand how my surroundings feed each of my five senses. When I’m hiking, I slowly soak in the scenery that my eyes fall upon. As I climb up the side of a mountain, my sense of touch is the most acute as I search for my next hold. When I sit in my kayak during a moonlit paddle, I listen to the sound of the water gliding gently under my paddle.

Everyday our senses are overwhelmed with the experiences we put ourselves into. Each message we receive as a result evokes an emotion and each emotion determines an outcome. We’re hardly aware of it though. I prefer to slow things down, understand the ingredients of my surroundings and savor the delicious feast I can cook up in my everyday encounters.

Be aware today,
Coach Katie