a Scented Muse


Narrated by Louise Morris, WWII welder/Transcribed by Christine Milano

Being the rebel that I was, I was not going to be a nurse.  I was an artist and I stood firm on my ground that was my destination.  Oh, poor mom, she was so frustrated with me!  As idealistic as I was, the day Pearl Harbor was bombed it forever changed me and the America I loved.  Fear seemed to ooze from the very canvasses that once were my haven.  I put down my brushes and picked up a welding rod and goggles and entered welding school my senior year in high school answering the call that went out to all women to support our troops and the war in whatever way we could contribute. 

Upon graduation, I began welding on Navy contracts.  Within three months, I became part of the research group researching aluminum welding procedures on depth-charge canisters.  I learned quickly and was assigned to train the teams, mostly males, of proper welding techniques.  More Navy contracts followed and my team begin welding triggering devices, 155 millimeter gun parts, hatch covers— well, you get the idea.  Unheard of for a woman, I was promoted to Working Foreman, teaching Navy Certified Welding to employees in the evenings on acetylene, electric arc and heliarc®.

Little did I know at the time, but this was the beginning of many twists.  While building jet target planes, there he was—standing there as if a spotlight was upon him—the retired, renowned Arctic Explorer, Admiral Byrd, working as an advisor to the Navy.  He was touring the plant.  To use a young person’s term…OMG!  He was walking toward me.  I looked around; could he really be walking toward me?  He stopped in front of me, stuck out his hand and introduced himself.  He talked to me at length about welding, asking many questions.  Shortly thereafter, I received an invitation to attend an event for the Washington representatives.  I had to decline.

So here I stand years later, reminiscing, as a guest, in attendance at the September 2011 United States Submarine Veterans National Convention in Springfield, Missouri.  I was surrounded by a sea of heroes wearing vests covered with the names, numbers, ribbons, braids, pins, patches and emblems that signify courage and bravery.  My part during World War II seemed so insignificant in the big picture.  When the war began, I was in high school, later welding depth charges, the very bombs used against the enemy submarines lurking within the depths of the sea.  At the time, we knew the enemy and the challenges we faced; each person experiencing a private hell. However, it’s a different world now, more sinister, with different challenges and dangers to be met.  Veterans of all ages and wars are here.

I was now rubbing shoulders with those ever-elusive Superheroes of the Sea—Angels of the Deep. They searched, watched, listened, and assisted in missions of the most dangerous nature; missions unknown to the public and now sealed within government records—and all conducted under less than desirable conditions for our nation’s peace, safety, and freedom.  The unsung, unspoken stories cannot be shared with us mere civilians; they are only shared amongst themselves.  These are the men, after studying and training, who qualified for service on nuclear and conventional powered submarines during the cold war years.  This was a service that would deter the faint-hearted—all contained within a hull each would call their home, miles under the surface of the ocean.  At the forefront of survival was the constant vigilance of the radar, surveying the sea around them for other steel life…bleep…bleep…bleep…a fellow submarine, a surface ship, and those days, when, Godforbid, it was a depth charge coming straight toward them.  Dive!  Dive!  The sirens screamed across the loudspeakers.  Would this be the time when they would become another sinking statistic, to be forever buried deep in the sea—a sealed casket—some never to be recovered?  Valor, bravery, and courage are not words; they are in the faces of these Submarine Veterans.

I know I will never know the story of each Veteran.  I do want to thank each one, in my own humble way, expressing how grateful I am for their sacrifice for our freedom.  May each of you always be carried to safety and back to your families.  Thank you!


{Tuesday, 28 June, 11}   Off Beat!

Moments cherished by myself ~ ah, so precious!  I rarely write these days.  A revelation yesterday – but how do I even begin?  Was life carefully planned?  The answer is no.  Perhaps, that was my mistake.  Without a specific game plan, I’ve floated, as a feather, wherever the winds of life blew me.  A very different path from those that had their whole life mapped out; a specific career, when to marry, have children, etc.  In my younger years to live life so planned out, seemed, well, shall I say predictable, boring ~ I wanted excitement, unpredictability!  If I were to croak at 60 – I am over ½ dead – with only another good 15 years to cause trouble.  How quickly has time passed?

My mind drifts to George in “It’s a wonderful life”.  If I had the capacity to “flash” back to events in my life ~ me being non-existent – what would be different for the other “actors” ~ if anything?  I wonder what ripples I have made upon the energies of the world?

I disagree with those that have often referred to me as brave.  I think I was running; afraid to stand still, afraid to love and be loved.  It is a time of reflection, new body aches, and slowing down to savor life as it swirls around me ~ as a simple bystander, as a participant and at times, just being ~ simply allowing God’s touch to permeate my essence; the very fiber of my soul.  It is in those moments, that the veil between the physical and spiritual world are lifted.  Miracles happen and answers are clear.  My step is lighter and Joy resounds within my heart.  Perhaps had I created a life full of agenda, I would not be able to empathize with the unseen side of my life, other humans, and maybe not even be drawn to the work that I do with essential oils.  If only for a moment, we humans, feel the subtleties of the earth’s energy through the plants, our fellow humans, and God would an inner quiet ensue?  Perhaps it was never the Universe’s intent for me to beat my drum in chorus with all the other drums.  Heck, I could never keep a beat anyway!

The wind has often whipped me around like the loose feather that I am.  I survived, not by chance, but because of sheer willpower not to be defeated.  Here I stand ~ ready to love and allow myself to be loved, to step out and shout loudly “I have arrived”.  I am ready to allow life to flow through me without resistance.  I AM that feather floating upon the wind to heaven’s heights, crashing down to the earth, to once again be picked up to freely float to new experiences and new loves all the while to discover another dimension of me.

To quote Forest Gump “I don’t know if we each have a destiny, or if we’re all just floating around accidental-like on a breeze, but I, I think maybe it’s both.”  Whatever it is ~ I like the person that I have been molded into through my experiences, both the good and the bad ~ ever changing, always grateful.

{Thursday, 3 March, 11}   A little thing called FEAR


That word was not even in my vocabulary.   At any opportunity, my backpack was ready to take me to any country I could get in to, with or without “legal” permission.   Family and friends were hardly surprised at my last-minute announcement that I was taking off for a new adventure,  new part-time employment, or a new museum.  I was fearless ~ or so believed until recently~

F alse

E vidence

A ppearing

R eal

Lately, I’ve begun to ponder just where fear reared its ugly head in my life.  Where did I see this little creature popping up?  Could it be something as simple as my avoidance of social events where using the excuse that I had nothing to wear was a convenient “out” or as big as not moving forward with a dream?  How often had I kept myself awake at night with visions of inventions, new businesses or fantasies of myself socializing with people that I could persuade to help me “save the world”.  Morning would soon arrive and my creative juices would quickly wash away in the shower.   Later, while reading the newspaper or watching an infomercial, I would see an idea similar to one of my late night fantasies and think to myself, what gave this person the right to follow through with his/her dream?  And then, frozen with the idea of putting myself “out there”, I would do absolutely nothing.  It was simple – FEAR.  Fear of failure and fear of looking like a fool.  Whatever the reason, all reasons were simply excuses created out of my fear.

In this immediate moment, I am fearful of posting this blog – exposed & naked I stand before you.  Nearby, my faithful bucket of essential oils beckon me, begging me, in fact, to “use” them.  Pick me!  Pick me!  I survey the oils.  My fingers land on Bergamot Mint.  With a chemistry similar to lavender, soothing to the nerves, uplifting and ever-so-gentle to the skin, I rub a drop of the oil on my temples.  The lovely aroma wafts through the room and I become calm, almost confident and fearless.

So my question to you, my readers, is this?  How do you get over your fear?  How do you follow through with those ideas for marvelous inventions, start-up businesses, or that book you want to write?  How do you dance yourself into those social events you see yourself becoming part of?  How do you create the life you see yourself living?

Enlighten me as I am stuck ~ once again ~ in fear.

{Monday, 21 February, 11}   No Snaps? Sniff This!

I dropped my deodorant. Bending over to retrieve the bottle, I found myself whispering “BBEENNDD and SNAP!” There was a time, when I was that nail lady without a “snap” as in “Legally Blond’s” well known nail salon scene.

This morning was not one of them. As I readied myself for work, I caught a glimpse in the mirror. My eyes laughed “Hello girl ~ (think Jack Nicholson) IM BACK! . I had to crack up at myself. Danced a little jig, patted myself “good morning” and went about the routine of putting on my mask. It is a different mask these days. The past, was one of pain. These days, a mask to reflect my newly discovered essence. SNAP! SNAP! And SSSNNNAAAPPP!

Oh reader, I forget… you don’t know my story, but as we continue this life journey ~ you will.

Briefly… two years ago I got laid off from a job that slowly sapped, no! sucked the very essence from my being. Oh! I knew it was happening. But hey! Here was an uneducated girl from Minnesota that felt lucky to have reached my position at an international company ~ even if it meant prostituting my values. And the MONEY… need I say more?

So now here I was ~ an empty shell of a body that was out of shape, an ache with every movement and no SNAPS. What could be worse? I was simply existing. I disliked myself, my life and my husband.

But deep within, if I could calm my aching body and quiet my screaming mind, I felt a slow methodical tick. I was reminded of a line from a book I had read many years before by SARK “if you could marry yourself, would you?” Hell no! Not at this point. I wanted out of the marriage I was in. Why in the hell would I get married again… and to ME… are you nuts? But it made me think.

Where did I lose my snaps? I had practiced so hard, as a child, to even learn how to snap. Yup. It was gone. No snap, no essence, nothing, only a feeling of “poor me”. Puke. I was sick of feeling this way.

So I pondered, and pondered and still the answer evaded me. Darn life! Where was my teacher? I am ready… when would he/she appear. Still nothing. Many weeks, books and tears later…

The teacher revealed herself through a simple phone call. She happened to be named “Mom”. Adapting that TONE ~ you know, the Mom tone. Mom said “Quit your whining, go splash some cold water on your face, and go sniff some rosemary. Don’t you remember what you enjoyed doing as a child? No, Mom. “You loved to travel, crush flowers, make potions and create pretty things. Why don’t you go do something with that?” Great Idea! But what exactly? Another ponder…. nothing! All I knew was that when I was really stressed I would make potions (as my husband would call them), make him drink them or put them on ~ I wasn’t going to expose myself to a possible mistake. BTW. He is still alive and doing well, I might add.


Ok. Honestly, I didn’t know exactly what “IT” was until a couple of days later ~ but something felt right. I had a purpose, a desire and one out of three snaps snapped. SSSNNAAAPPP! Now THAT’s what I’m talking about!

I began immediately to do research for a class in aromatherapy. Nothing grabbed me until I came upon a place called Aromahead Institute located in NY. Now THAT was my type of place. Essential oils, potions, and adventure. I enrolled. While I was on the roll to change my life, I planned a trip to India. Why not see the plants like sandalwood, cardamom, and turmeric in their natural settings? But that is another story.

In May, I vroomed across states for my first aromatherapy class. 2 days later, I had made claim to a chartreuse Queen chair in the corner of the room (it went well with my hair). I had already SWORN to myself that I was not going to befriend anybody. Ha! Who was I kidding? The instructor, Andrea, asked all to introduce ourselves. Are you KIDDING me! I am here for the oils, free food, and the recipes. One by one the Goddesses within the room begin to reveal their dreams, their disappointments and why they were there. I felt a rumbling within. BAM. The second SNAP coursed through my veins. I was home! This is where my path had been leading me. Crazy? Not really.

The oils spoke to me as a mother would to their child. Gently coaxing my olfactory system to release memories that had long been forgotten. Sniff this! Cinnamon. Grandma’s rolls. Sniff this! Vetiver. Dirt. Sniff this! Peppermint. Mom’s kitchen. I sniffed till my nose hairs were beggin’ for mercy.

By the end of the weekend, I was in love. SNAP! The third snap! I felt like the Grinch standing at the mountain top looking down at whoville. My heart grew 10X in my chest that weekend. I knew I had found my path.

It has been a journey. I do not fool myself. I know there are many challenges ahead of me. Sniff! Lavender. Sniff! Grapefruit. My soul is calm, my head clear as is the vision of the experiences that I want to create for others.

Thank you Aromasistas! Thank you Goddesses! I leave you with this.

What have been some of YOUR Snaps?

{Wednesday, 2 February, 11}   A meeting of souls

As I held the woman’s hand, she cried. In very broken English and a lot of body language, this middle-aged woman explained to me that her husband had been killed for political reasons in Iran. Her sobs grew more intense as she pointed to her daughter, son-in-law and young grand-daughter,  as she painfully explained that they were moving to Canada.  She would not be traveling with them.  She could not.  How was she going to survive the loneliness of traveling back to Iran without them. They had just spent 4 weeks together in India as a final bonding before they would go their separate ways.  I continued to hold the woman’s hand while she cried. Silence overcame the airport lounge as the morning Call to Prayer broke out from the overhead speakers.  She continued to grasp my hand – as if it were somehow a lifeline, a means of fending off the loneliness that she felt loomed in front of her.  I prayed for peace to come to her heart and that soon she would be re-united with her family in Canada.  For the moment, it was only she and I in Bangalore airport, waiting for our connections, both going into the unknown.  The spell broke as her family returned, gathering up their belongings.  They looked at me with suspicion.  Who was this uncovered American woman holding their mother’s hand? They scolded their mother.  She said in broken English “She my friend”.  They walked off leaving her to trail behind them. I felt a strange loss, as if we did not get to properly say goodbye to each other and it was at that moment, she came running back to me, hugged me, said she loved me and to be safe in my travels.  Little did I know that this would continue to be the “theme” of my travels throughout India.  A theme of praying, heart connections, sadness and laughter

et cetera