Victoria: 2288 posts

Make Time for Yourself and Banish Guilt

If a person with children and living in an extended family were to write my article How to Handle Self-Isolation and Not Lose One’s Mind, they would instead title it How to Survive Quarantine and Not Kill One’s Family. Then again, they probably wouldn’t even write it, because they would be too busy being a career professional, cook, cleaner, and school teacher. All of this in addition to the general anxiety. Since most of the household responsibilities fall on the shoulders of women, many of my female friends are finding this period of confinement stressful. Whether they live in New York, Tehran or Kyiv, the problems are the same–they are under pressure from their employers, schools and their families.

Far more qualified people than me can give advice on how to manage home schooling, household responsibilities and children. On these pages I can only provide comfort, distraction, and a reminder that taking a moment out of a day for oneself is crucial. And that such moments shouldn’t be tainted by guilt.

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How to Maximize Your Sense of Smell (and an announcement)

Hope that all of my friends are well. I’ll start with the bad, although not at all surprising, news. The Ukrainian Scent and Taste Adventure is cancelled, or rather postponed until further notice. I’m disappointed, but the situation is what it is. The most important thing is for us to stay healthy and safe. The good news is that I’ve been exploring making videos, and I’ve decided to make a series of short 1-3 minutes films about different aspects of Ukrainian culture such as folk arts, traditions, cultural idiosyncrasies, and customs. I will, of course, cover perfumery, and my first clip, Smelling Tips, will teach you professional perfumery smelling techniques that will maximize your olfactory impressions and sharpen your sense of smell. In the next film, I will explain how to put what you’re smelling into words.

Exercising your sense of smell is not only satisfying and fun, but also important, since doctors and researchers indicate that the loss of smell and taste might be one of the first signs of the coronavirus infection, appearing long before any other symptoms. Moreover, smelling is a complex activity for our brain, so doing it consciously ensures we maximize the potential of the amazing apparatus we have on our faces. Let us not take it for granted (yes, I know, I’m preaching to the choir here.)

I will put the films into my Instagram stories and then into the Instagram highlights.

I’m considering other topics, such as languages and books, so if you have a specific request, please let me know.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

Asya’s Secret

Happy Nowruz! Happy Persian New Year! Happy Spring! Two days ago I recorded a short film for my Instagram stories about something I learned from my great-grandmother, Asya, but some of you asked me to put it into text format to be able to re-read it. Since Asya’s message is inspiring and uplifting, I thought that today would be ideal for sharing it here. You can watch the film in my Instagram highlights.

My great-grandmother Asya was born in 1915. She was a beautiful woman, with wavy dark hair, almond-shaped eyes and a Rubenesque figure. A rose-scented red lipstick was always in her purse as was a bottle of perfume. I don’t recall her using them, but she loved these items as she did her carved tortoise combs and lace collars. She was the most vivacious person I knew, always ready to crack a joke or make light of things. That trait of hers might have served her well, because being born in 1915, she lived through the dawn and dusk of the Soviet Union, with the Bolshevik Revolution, several famines and two wars in between.

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How to Handle Self-Isolation and Not Lose One’s Mind

My daily routine during intense writing periods is almost always the same. During the week, I wake up at 6am, start working at 7am and continue until 5-6pm, with lunch, coffee break and language lessons in between. I’m so preoccupied throughout the day that I don’t see anyone in person other than my husband and the local shop owners during the week. I usually save weekends for friends and other social activities. So, the new quarantine and lockdown rules that are becoming strictly enforced here don’t change my routine dramatically. This is not the case for many others. “How do you manage to work at home and not lose your mind?” my friends ask me.

Create Your Community

While I require solitude when I work, being part of a community is essential to me. Over the years I’ve gravitated to such communities of people. Those of you coming to Bois de Jasmin, for instance, comprise one of those communities. I enjoy the conversations I have with you, whether they’re about scents, books, embroidery or random observations on life in general.

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Haft Seen for Celebrating New Life and New Spring

Persian New Year is on March 20th this year, and as always, I set up my haft seen, or Nowruz sofreh–a presentation of 7 auspicious objects that start with the Persian letter “S.” I’ve written previously about this tradition, and why the celebration of the vernal equinox, the start of a new year, is such a meaningful custom. Nowruz is a secular holiday with Zoroastrian roots that is celebrated today by people of many different faiths not only in Iran, but in many other countries from Albania and Turkey to Afghanistan and India. Every community has its slightly different ways of marking the start of the new year, but what unites them is the celebration of life and renewal.

This year I’ve set up my haft seen quite early, during the last week of February, because I needed it as a reminder of hope and regeneration.

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Latest Comments

  • rickyrebarco in Make Time for Yourself and Banish Guilt: I’m listening now to a suite by composer Gliere, who is from Kiev according to my classical music channel. It’s very melodic and beautiful, lifting my spirits today. His style… March 28, 2020 at 4:20pm

  • Sandra in Make Time for Yourself and Banish Guilt: I am juggling a lot in the epicenter of this, and grieving for my very sick city. But I will never leave NYC For me homeschooling is easy with the… March 28, 2020 at 3:58pm

  • Karen A in Make Time for Yourself and Banish Guilt: Wonderful post, love the haikus! Stood in a grove of apple trees while their blossoms fell years ago and have never forgotten the sensation! Petal soup indeed! It is essential… March 28, 2020 at 2:13pm

  • rickyrebarco in Make Time for Yourself and Banish Guilt: I am enjoying watching youtube videos of the world’s great orchestras playing different pieces. The Royal Concertgebouw orchestra is my favorite right now along with my city’s wonderful symphony orchestra.… March 28, 2020 at 2:12pm

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