Does Candle in the wind smell like strawberries?

Skittles famous ad taste the rainbow captured many people’s imaginations…

Have you ever tasted the rainbow? Is your Monday yellow? Does Candle in the wind smell like strawberries? If you can even remotely relate to any of these statement’s you probably have Synaesthesia. If not, you probably think I’ve lost the plot.

Synaesthesia is a condition whereby, two senses overlap. This can come in many forms. Some people, like myself, visualise days of the week, or months; as specific colours. Others can hear a piece of music, and associate a particular scent, or colour with it. Synaesthesia affects around 1 in 200 people. However, this is hard to measure as there are so many different combinations and sensory connections. Also, often people don’t disclose their sensory simulations as it might sound outlandish or they don’t realise it’s not a thing.

Find the grey areas

I first realised, at Middle school that my days of the week were colours, Monday was always yellow, Tuesday was blue and so on. It wasn’t until years later that me and my friend somehow got onto the subject, and she did the same thing. However, it is an involuntary attribute so neither of us chose the colours or anything. We became curious and found that it’s actually something quite a few people experience. And that there’s loads of different types. I read about a woman who lost her sight, as it gradually came back, she began to develop Synaesthesia. As she experienced colours so differently, she could only identify them properly, with the element of sound. She began to whisper the colour out loud to regain the ability to connect the visual image with the word. Another story of someone who can actually taste dialogue! There is almost something magic about your senses being able to communicate. Someone being able to personify a letter or smell a number is pretty incredible.

Learning to love your senses

Could Synaesthesia prompt a new way of learning/ teaching? If people can associate pear drops with a score of music, couldn’t bringing sweets help to learn the notes? If someone personifies number could this not be made into a story to help work out equations?  There are so many different sensory sequences that could be devised to support different learning styles. For a while now there have been sensory driven play areas and toys to help children’s cognitive processes. My almost, two-year-old Daughter has been to a few sensory play areas that focus on lights, colour and touch. She absolutely loved them and is picking up colours quickly (especially pink- cliché I know!). Sensory toys have also been particularly good for children with disabilities, helping them to focus, be stimulated and to help them to feel calm.

A sense of good

Your senses being heightened is not deemed a bad, or particularly strange thing so Synesthete’s should embrace their purple sevens, enjoy your chocolate smelling Tchaikovsky!

By Claire Exley

Is anyone a Saint?

St Valentine was the Patron saint for lovers (and epileptics) he advocated affection, stood for people’s adoration of one another. Today we continue that tradition of love but in a rather different way…

Paper hearts

Now; couples and marriages and even friends feel obliged to shower each other with an array of cute, ‘romantic’ tokens of affection. Restaurants, pubs and shops are adorned with confetti, balloons and paper chains of red love hearts. All with the idea of romance and love behind it. A money making bunch of hooey designed to make us spend under constraint.

Despite questioning this mad notion, that love has a schedule. I still hope for a card or some flowers, some kind of sentiment to determine romantic feeling. Why? Because I’m a sucker for love! Everybody wants to feel wanted, desired and special.

As much as I am cynical about the whole premise of having to have a day to show this, I kind of agree.

A day to celebrate your gratitude and infatuation for others is a good thing. It may be a card companies wet dream and a florist’s best day for revenue, but then why begrudge them that when we create the opportunity for them by buying into the hype.

Fill up on love

Most of us do feel obligated to get our significant other a card on February 14th and nine times out of ten that card or bunch of flowers creates a little joy. It is marketing ploy by big companies to make more money, but so what?!

In the busy day to day of work commitments, children’s assemblies, piles of laundry, and holidays how often do we devote a bit of time for romance? Some people are not romantic at all. Yet, there are still men racing to the petrol station to grab a bunch of flowers for their Mrs. And no, it’s not a trip to Paris for two, or a pair of diamond earrings. But that’s not the point. The point is, that the man made the effort to show some adulation to his other half. And better yet we can blame the company created day to justify our romantic outbursts (if showing affection doesn’t come easy to us!)

The idea of creating a day whereby it’s acceptable and favourable to be a little bit soppy, to show the people you love; that you love them isn’t so bad after all. It may well be contrived, and I (along with many others I suspect) will continue to have a cynical moan about it. But I cannot dispute that it’s nice to make that time for people you care about. Anyway, if anyone asks it’s the card companies’ fault, not mine!

Mid twenties crisis

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Being in your twenties is like being at a party with no cake; you know you are going to have some fun along the way, but right at the end there’s no candles to blowout. No icing and sprinkles. Because at the end of that party you have to grow up. Or have a clear direction in your life. Or do you?

Burning the candle at both ends

Early twenties are pretty good. Just after your teens, slightly more clued up, you can go to clubs, be independent.  You can still pull all- nighters and be totally fine, after a full English and a Sprite. Then the midpoint sneaks up on you. 25. Suddenly your 5 years off 30 and your career isn’t set or you aren’t engaged or own your own house. Or have children. And your hangover last about 3 days. Bulk buying Alka seltzer just to feel human again. Then the panic sets in. Being a woman in your mid- twenties is confusing. As a 27 year- old woman myself, I’m feeling the pressure. Pressure to have some kind of life plan.

The one with the life goals

Scrolling through Facebook and seeing people you went to school with getting married, becoming fully qualified in their job or having a baby can be daunting. It makes you re- evaluate your own goals. As a mother of three children; I constantly worry about my career prospects. And I have friends that don’t have children yet that can almost hear their biological clock ticking.

 There’s an episode of friends where Rachel turns 30 and has a complete meltdown about that fact she isn’t married or had children. She chose the career route. Having many of the emotions that most women feel at some point, twenties being the poignant time. The decider decade.

Have your cake and eat it?

To be in an established career can take years. To be a qualified solicitor tales around 10 years. If you start at 18, do you begin thinking about having children at 28? You need to have time to settle into the job after training. And what about meeting the right man? Or if you have children young, at what point to you begin your career? When they start school? There’s so many questions. So many things to factor in. all the while trying to find yourself. Trying to decide who you are.

 Balancing a career and children is a minefield too. The guilt of when to return to work. When’s it ok to leave your child with a childminder or at nursery? you don’t want to leave your child, but you also want to be able to provide for them.

Enjoy the moment

Everybody has different ideas about what they want. And when. Being in your twenties is definitely a transitional decade. Going from seeing your friends constantly, sneaking out and having your first kiss in your teens, to becoming more grown up. There’s still a lot of figuring out to do. Still wild nights, new relationships, new jobs. Ultimately, you are on the road to becoming a responsible adult! Some earlier than others. It takes time. And trying new things. If I could talk to my younger self I’d tell myself to slow down, you don’t have to rush. you will get there.

Life doesn’t have to be a rigid plan. Things can fall into place. Everybody goes at a different pace. If you spend the whole time worrying about what you haven’t got or achieved yet, then you won’t enjoy the things you do have. Sometimes it’s better to enjoy the moments we are in rather than panic about what hasn’t happened yet.

by Claire Exley