I am constantly amazed when I speak with clients, both men and women who have suffered losses that are life changing. Many have shown a resilience and tenacity that go beyond the written word.

What motivates them to get out of bed, go to a grocery store, and just do a normal day’s task? Their lives have been changed, their routines upended and yet they carry on. Books have been written about emotion and psychology which tries to examine the traits of these people.

In a conversation with friends, and clients I really wanted to understand what gives them the strength to go on……. what do they do that leads them back from dark times? So instead of doing any sophisticated study, read the volumes of books and biographies that are in libraries and bookstores, I used the old-fashioned method………I would just ask them…. what is it that keeps them going through the tough times that everyone else will feel in our lifetimes?

Their answer surprised me. If they could find just one thing during the day that made them smile, a memory that just whisked through their mind, a smell of something wonderful they remember ….they smile.

It made me think of my own experience when I lived through this “funk.” I was lucky to have a grandmother I adored. I lived in her “flat” at various intervals growing up. She was a caterer, her world was cooking and the smells in her home were always warm…..it just felt comfortable when I came home from school to be engulfed by that smell…no matter what happened during my day, it was the smell of her house, the smell on her apron, that changed my emotion. It made me smile. It was like the sun had just shown on my face and for that instant, I was OK.

When she died, my heart was broken, she was someone who I needed in my life, spoke to every day, and just knowing she was there and there for me…. Well, she always made my day. She was gone now, and forever….but I still remember that smell…her apron, things cooking and boiling, pots being stirred, fresh vegetables being cut…..my sun is that smell. If I can recapture that smell, my mind becomes calm. I can smile again, if just for the moment. She gave me a gift that can’t ever be taken away. She’s been gone for many years, but the warm smells of cooking, and pots simmering made me realize the secret:

Look for the sun, when you are down, when you feel some despair and hopelessness. We have a choice…..we can look for that sun no matter what it is, or just see the shadow which keeps us imprisoned.

Take it for what it is…..It’s just as I see it.