Have you ever walked into a room and caught the smell of your grandmother's laundry detergent? Just a whiff of that scent probably went straight to your heart and a fluttering of flashbulb memories played across your mind's eye.
Memories of our grandparents (or "aunties") are a rich source of sensory details and emotions. There's something about the way they spoiled us, the treats and unconditional love they lavished on us, that was so different from what we received from our parents. Our young minds were super awake and observant in their homes- all the strange smells, tastes, and decor! As adults, those sensory details are still within us, and have the power to deliver packed punches of memories and emotions if called up. For this week's exercise, we'll call up some of those sensory details.
- Think of a beloved food that your grandmother (or auntie) liked to give you when you visited her. For example, my Italian grandmother always set out for me Stella D’oro's Breakfast Treats. Yum. I feel achey-nostalgic just thinking about them.
- Imagine yourself sitting at your grandmother's table eating this treat. Write for five minutes describing every detail you can remember about this experience. Cover as many senses as you can: sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, kinesthetic (what you felt inside, i.e. nausea). Describe where you sat, the details of her kitchen. What was your grandmother doing? What sounds did you hear in her house? Who else was in the house and what were they doing? Keep your pen moving for the full five minutes. If you run out of what to say, write, "I don't know what to write. I don't know what to write," until the next detail arises in your memory. The physicality of keeping your hand moving frees up your thoughts much more than staring at blank paper does. So keep writing!
- After five minutes is up, read what you wrote. Choose one sentence that delivers a packed punch. In other words, which sentence and its details pull on your heart strings the most?
- Open to a new page. Write that sentence at the top, and free-write again with that sentence as your starting point for another five minutes.
- If you feel like taking your writing even further, you can repeat the process again by choosing another golden line to start from.
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