Joy in January - A Natural Perfumers Guild project and Three-day Giveaway - Day 1 of 3

 Joy in January - a three-day blogging event to help you deal with your SAD-ness this month.

The Natural Perfumers Guild is an association of perfumers, suppliers and associates dedicated to the use of 100% natural aromatics.  Whether it be a perfume, body spray, soap, candle, lotion or other fragrance product, we concoct them with one goal in mind - to exalt the beauty of the product by adding a gorgeous scent.

The Joy in January project is fourteen of the Guild members blogging about how naturally-scented products may help alleviate the depression and lethargy that often overcomes folks who live in dark, cold northern climates. The lack of sunlight during the short days of autumn and winter is a real problem, and those afflicted with this problem are said to suffer from SAD - Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Please read what we share with you about our reaction to the SAD phenemona, and leave comments on our blogs to be entered to win some SAD-alleviating naturally fragrance products from the Guild.

Here's a story about my recollection of what I decided, as a very young child, was a seasonal funk relieved by hoiday lights.

I was about ten years old, and walking up the hill from my aunt's house, where I had just lit the candles on the Hanukkah menorah, on maybe the fifth day of the Festival of Lights.  I don't remember exactly, but the lights were enough in number to bring real cheerfulness to the menorah, so let's say about day five.  It was very dark and cold, and the streets were empty of cars or people.  Many windows had colorful strings of Christmas lights, others had the electric Hanukkah candles.  They were the only cheerful bits on that cold December night.  I suddenly realized that the Festival of Lights and Christmas came at the time of year that people needed some brightness and a cause to celebrate.  Winters in Philadelphia were dismal and boring, and these festive times banished some of the grimness.  No recognition of the next month, January, seeped into my thoughts, I was focused on the bright lights and parties of December.  I remember that walk up 59th Street like it was yesterday.

I left Philly when I was a teen to live in Berkeley, mostly because I didn't like the gray and cold and dirt of the city.  Years later we began to hear about SAD - Seasonal Affective Disorder, a real medical condition that brings depression, weight gain, physical inactivity and worse to those deprived of sunlight in the short, winter days, especially in the Northern Hemisphere.

Now here it is January, and the holiday credit card bills are rolling in, and there are no lights, no holiday, nothing to lighten the load of those with SAD - well, the Guild is here to try to help!

In the years since the recognition of SAD as a real malady, thousands of articles have been written on the subject, and an entire industry - the production of SAD-relieving lights, has developed. If you suffer from SAD, you are prescribed to have the light on a certain number of hours a day.

*According to the Mayo Clinic:
Seasonal affective disorder (also called SAD) is a type of depression that occurs at the same time every year. If you're like most people with seasonal affective disorder, your symptoms start in the fall and may continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody.

Treatment for seasonal affective disorder includes light therapy (phototherapy), psychotherapy and medications. Don't brush off that yearly feeling as simply a case of the "winter blues" or a seasonal funk that you have to tough out on your own. Take steps to keep your mood and motivation steady throughout the year.

I'd like to add to those three modalities some beautiful scents in the form or aromatherapy and perfumery.  The logo for Joy in January shows our muse, Flora, basking in the radiant light of an arc of suns.  The suns have flowers hidden in them, to signify the power of sunlight to make our beloved flowers grow.  The sense of smell is the one sense we can't "turn off", as it is always on. Even in deep sleep, a scent can awake us, be it fire or flower.

The flowers and citruses in my most sunny of perfumes, my Light perfume, will bring a smile to the face of any SAD-sufferer. Bright and brilliant, the citron and yellow grapefruit are light and scent captured in an essence. Frankincense is proven to aid in uplifting the mental state, and the lemony beauty of aglaia flower captures the heart of the perfume, and will warm the heart of the lucky winner in the draw on Thursday.

Image courtesy of Fragrantica
Today's giveaway - a 15ml bottle of Light EdP

Some ideas for letting the Light go to work for you: Spray some on a woolen scarf, or spray on your upper body as you dress, and it will softly release it's scent all day.  Use a tiny bit in a diffuser, or mix some in a lotion.  Don't forget your hair!  A spray on your hair will give you a puff of scent each time you move. Or, of course, use it straight sprayed on your skin as an EdP.  Maybe spray your hands before you put your gloves on - you'll get a lovely burst of scent when you remove them.  Don't forget your pillow at night - sweet dreams.

Prizes will be mailed to winners in the USA, Canada and the EU only.  You will find bloggers in Australia, Canada, South Africa and Vietnam, so please check their mailing policies.

1.  You, the poster can post as anonymous, but that will make you ineligible for the drawing.

2.  I'd love it if you sign up for my newsletter, or "like" my page on Facebook, but that isn't a requirement of this blog. Please just leave a comment that shares your difficulty with SAD.  We need to get the word out there so others reading this may recognize the disorder has aromatherapy and natural perfumery as an alternative healing modality.

3  I do want you to leave your first name or a nickname, ISP (eg., gmail) and location.  That way, when I announce the win, and you reply, I'll be sure I have the right person. 

PS: in full disclosure, I don't suffer from SAD.  Tomorrow I'll tell you my story of living for five years in the North American city with the least amount of sun, and what I observed in the residents of that city.

Be sure to check out the other Guild participants that are taking part in the Joy in January project and leave a comment on their blogs to be entered in their giveaway, and leave a comment below to be entered in my Light drawing.  Winners of the three-days of drawings will be announced here on Thursday, the 19th.

Ambrosia Jones
Charna Ethier
Christi Meshell
Clemence Barbier
Elise Pearlstine
Emily Pienaar
JoAnne Bassett
Joyce Noerr
Karen Williams
Liz Cook
Noelle Smith
Stephanie Vinson
Susan Stype


  1. I don't suffer from this, but do know some who do:( My father did in the last years of his life as he couldn't get out much. Scents and visual stimulation were a life saver. Great project.. I look forward to reading from the other's blogs as well.. Love light by the way,Anya.

  2. This is a wonderful project. I lived on the east coast - upstate New York, and later Boston, MA - for 33 years, and without knowing it, most likely suffered from SAD for years. I certainly had all of the symptoms. The sun's light and year-round greenery drew me to California, where I've lived for over 20 years. I've also become a fragrance freak, curing my much-milder form of west coast SAD with bright and fresh smells that lift me out of the mild doldrums that can affect us even here in L.A., a city of almost perpetual sunlight. Your "Light" sounds de-lightful - I'd love to smell it.

  3. Rain Warrior1/16/2012 12:52 PM

    I've been a SAD sufferer for years. I use the light therapy, and I would love to try your Light perfume. I'm in Spokane and gmail is my account. Thank you so much for hosting this project. Many wil benefit from the information and the lucky winners will benefit most.

  4. As someone who studies psychology, I am quite pleased to see public awareness campaigns!

    Personally... I don't have SAD... but I do have Bipolar (that tends to end up with me depressed in winter all the same). So I am familiar with the feeling of being up and down.
    I keep around some aromatherapy oils that do wonders (especially when one can bathe in them or diffuse them). Especially frankincense (mmm with a lil blood orange). Jasmine (with some champaca and sandalwood) is another one I've had great luck with ^^

  5. Intriguing premise - that you can affect SAD with scents. I know for me the senses are all interwoven; a song or a scent can bring back a long forgotten mood, so why shouldn't a fragrance help "lighten" up the darkest days of the year?

    Rachel in AZ

  6. That is exactly why Chanukah is in the time of year that it is.
    not only that, but we light the Menorah starting with one candle, and every day building it up until the eighth and last day, when 8 candles are burning.
    but there was a great teacher who used to say that we should be doing the opposite, starting with all 8 candles and every day reducing them. and it is said that in the future, we will light his way. why?
    because now, we need all the support we can get in the difficult time of year that Chanukah falls out on, and we need the light to be built up within us. in the future, we will be able to light up the world, we will have the inner strength to lighten around us, so we will not need the candles to hold us up.
    nice, no?
    I am blessed to live in a sunny area, year round.
    but i definitely have my dark seasons internally :)

  7. Born and raised in Seattle, I know SAD *very* well. January is indeed the worst, when you collapse after the bright holidays. This project is perfectly timed. :)

  8. This is very exciting news indeed; a whole perfume-project around the theme of SAD. Living in a Scandinavian county of long winters with endless dark nights, I know very few people who aren't affected by SAD. I think that to an extend we are so used to how it affects us, with depression and moodiness, that although a recognised condition, few actually try to do much to relieve it. Personally I have felt the use of fragrance will help and uplift my spirits, and so I can't wait to read the other entries to this theme. Thank you very much Anya, for this project.

  9. I was also taught that's why Christmas is celebrated when it is - well, actually, to coincide with the existing pagan rituals at that time of year, to celebrate that the light will come back - since it's more likely a summer thing to be grazing sheep and sleeping in a barn. I do like how it's such a common thing to have a "lights in the darkness" celebration around the shortest days of the year (there also being Diwali, Loi Krathong).

  10. This is an awesome post! I never knew about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). In Hamilton, Ohio, I remember as a 10 year old looking out my back door window and not wanting to play in the fall or winter time. I must had been suffering from SAD back then. I live in Port Richey, Florida.

  11. I don't necessarily suffer from this all winter, but i do know that January is generally the worst time for me. I also have a co-worker that has to use light therapy. I think being stuck in our homes during the cold winter months definitely does not help. This is a great project for sure. Aroma therapy seems to help me a lot during this time.

  12. SAD is very common here in Upstate NY. Learning to "go" with the ebb and flows of the seasons helps, as does aromatherapy and full spectrum lighting. The days are lengthening now and there is light at the end of the tunnel:-) I would love to experience Light by Anya.

    Peace, Julie

  13. I fight depression year round, but do find it worse when days are very gray and rainy (so probably shouldn't be living on the "Wet" Coast) and when days are very short at the beginning of winter, especially the later sunrise. Citrus scents have always been a mood lifter for me, and I suppose that's why traditional colognes are a favourite category of mine. And I love having a big bright bowl of citrus fruits on the counter during the winter -- just looking at them makes me smile.
    Thanks for another intriguing Natural Perfumers' Guild project.

    -- Lindaloo

  14. Having grown up in California, i had never even heard of S.A.D. until i moved to New York. Now I have it every winter and treat myself with light therapy, herbs and acupuncture. I look forward to adding "Light" to my precious tools! Thanks for this draw!

  15. I feel very happy with this iniciative. It's something that worries me, because fighting the symptoms of this disease we can contribute to a better and happier world. Here's my contribution:

  16. Hi Anya - Love your Light perfume, perfect for winter.

  17. Great story on the Festival of Lights Anya! I adore Light perfume, it's one of my favorites and it's uplifting to boot. Perfect for a dreary January day.

  18. In the past, I have rarely had SAD problems. But this year I've been having problems, especially with the early sunsets. I need light!

  19. This is a wonderful project that I found via Happy Herbs Soap. Nina, the proprietor, has helped me and my family through some hard times with her wonderful herbal concoctions. She gives us special teas grown in her garden and blended in her studio, special botanical incenses that she rolls herself and that keep me company every day, and she has made a special blend of soap that has become my favorite year round, not just in the "gray/dark" days of winter. Thank goodness for aromatherapy! And thank you Nina!

    Vicki, in New York...

  20. Enjoyed your blog story and thank you for being the inspiration of this special project.

  21. ahhh, the coming of light. it's beyond religion, but it's ubiquitous. Light is nourishment.

    i remember the first or second winter i lived in florida, after stomping my very cold, very frustrated and very unhappy foot down in minnesota and moving to the sunniest place i could think of... looking back wondering how i ever survived layer after layer of clothing to protect from the frozen concrete tundra. botanical perfumes and essential oils tucked in every layer- i was a garden in my parka!

    as tori amos says, "'d better bring your own sun." and you CAN!

    thank you for the illuminating (pun intended) project and draws!

  22. Anya, I love the way you got into the subject. Starting with Light, how Light is lacking and why we have all these Light Festival in Winter.
    Yes, we need Light, we need Sun.
    As we are lacking it in this season, we are also lacking of Vitamin D (mainly produced from the sun on your skin), that's a reason why we all feel so depressed.
    I like the idea that the perfume should display Light and Heat. That your perfume is made with citrus and pomelo, all fruits that are accumulating Sun energy to release it in Winter. I don't know much about aglaia scent, but from what I read about this plant, it grows in tropical area. As Frankincense, it had the opportunity to stock the Sun energy as well.

    Now, I am yearning for smelling your "Light".
    I imagine it as an inspiring fragrance, giving you energy and a "feeling like" to be happy and laugh.

    (In case I am the happy winner of this one, I'll give you my mum's address in Europe...! ;-)

  23. Interesting theme for a NP Guild project! I used to really not enjoy winters (mostly the rainy month that counts as winter in the SF Bay Area. Now that I'm back on the east coast and have seasons again, I've re-embraced winter. I don't have SAD, so I don't know what that's like, but I think giving myself a rest during nature's fallow period, not fighting it, has really brightened my outlook on winter. That, plus discovering that I love being outdoors in the winter cold has really helped!

    Amy H. in Philadelphia using gmail

  24. Replaced all my recessed lights with plant grow lights, but it's not enough. I need the sense of smell And would like to learn more about the Light Fragrence. Thank you for the giveaway opportunity. I look forward To reading more.

  25. Hi Anya,

    Thanks so much for the Joy in January project and the great suggestions for getting through the tough winters. The citrus body oil you suggested on Ask the Perfumer has definitely brightened many of my winter mornings.

    Winter starts here in Colorado by the beginning of October, and as I watch the plants die back and the trees drop their leaves, I feel as though a part of myself dies with them. Those month from October to April can be so very long, until the new greens start to sprout once again. Your generosity and that of the participating in the Joy in January project is heart-warming.

    With much appreciation,
    Michael S

  26. Hello,
    I live in Skandinavia Finland nearby Oulu. In our capital Helsinki they eaven call Oulu to be in Lapland, eaven if its not. These days, sun do not almost eaven rise at all to sky, if its there, I can see its light and sun is very "low". Our force in these cold snowy days with Minus 20 to 28 celsius is fire element. I try to find "the way" to lighten up days with warm and comforting "bold" scents or opposite very bright chypre florals -or aldehydes kinda. I know near my many people who`s mind is little bit (read much)with sadness in these days. Eaven if I try to tell them there are ways to survive. Love and Light to all people around the world.

  27. wonderful initiative. Being a Capricorn(January is my birth month)I do not necessarily suffer from SAD but I do understand how light deprived people can get depressed. Your Light perfume is just the perfect antidote to that!

  28. Maria Angelidou1/17/2012 6:11 AM

    Wonderful article and lovely giveaway. I personaly don't suffer form SAD as I live in Athens and here the sun shines about 320 days every year it is trully wonderful. You give great advice and of course perfumes help with just about everything!!

  29. Great article! I remember writing a paper about SAD in high school (which I attended in a suburb of Philadelphia) and I knew that I personally did feel slight effects of this, even as a teenager. As an adult, this is not as much as an issue for me. I do not mind the odd grey day, in fact I've come to welcome the quietness that comes along with grey, foggy weather and long walks by the bay here in my little NJ seashore town. I love the four seasons, and love the fragrances that (in my mind) go along with them. Light sounds like a beautiful mood-lifter, and I can't wait to try it.

  30. This is just a fabulous article. I think I do suffer from S.A.D. which is why I have always been fascinated by Christmas lights. Since I don't have lights, myself, only a menorah, and since my kids were born, I would take them around and show them the most amazing displays. It would truly lift my spirits. My son had to go to a warm climate for college because he, too, suffers from S.A.D. Funny enough, we both love wearing uplifting scents. I am addicted to perfume and just recently went to only all natural/organic brands. I can't wait to try this, especially since it is so cold here!

  31. Perhaps some of our problems with SAD stem from the fact that now-a-days, we're removed from some of the natural rhythms of our past. In snow-bound north, in years past, we would have spent the autumn pickling and preserving, and the winter indoors with candles enjoying the fruits of our labors, reading and resting (hibernating, really) until we could see the crocuses and skunk cabbages peeping from under the snow. Now, we live in such climate-controlled times that our bodies suffer from seasonal confusion, as well as the lack of nourishing light.

    I do believe that the ability of scent to mentally (and sensorally) transport us to other places is an important way to alleviate the stress of dislocation. Scent memory really helps in this way. I remember a good friend of mine who used to take out a bottle of Bain de Soliel and take a sniff of it just to remind her of the scent of summer. It's good to know that we have this power right within arms reach, in a perfume, or a jar of spices. Sometimes even the crunch of an apple helps clear my head from seasonal dislocation.

  32. As I write this I'm flat exhausted, and I've been craggy for weeks. No official SAD diagnosis, but it sure fits. I take quite a lot of vitamin D--I had a serious deficiency a few years ago. I have a number of health challenges, but life sure is easier in summer. I am crazy about holiday lights for exactly the reasons you give, and love fire and candles in my cozy cave. I am seriously considering purchasing a light box. I really love the Joy in January concept!

  33. Light sounds wonderful! Thanks for all the information as well! would love to use your fragrance to lift my spirits!

  34. I love the pics and the personal story! Really interesting. Would love to try the "Light".

  35. That's a lovely story! When I was very young I thought that the Christmas lights strung everywhere were really Hanukkah lights. Living in New England, I really enjoyed them and also noted how much cheer they brought in the winter--even after I found out the truth....

    I don't think I suffer from SAD explicitly but I do know that I had troubles with sleep, and also lethargy/low energy especially during the school year going back to adolescence. One of the things my doctors have told me to do is use a light box/natural spectrum light, and also go for a walk in the morning. I have "self-medicated" with lemon/bergamot and patchouli and frankincense fragrances since high school. Light sounds awesome, I would love to try it!

    Signed up for your newsletter
    my email is in my profile

  36. Dear Everyone:

    How I loved reading your stories and knowing how much you shared with me and others. Reaching out is part of the healing process for dealing with SAD, for sure. I've copied down everyone's names and I will be entering them on later today and announcing the winner of Light.



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