It’s no surprise that I’ve taken a small break from writing and a small step back from social media because my mental health has been foggy. I still post often, but not as regularly as the past. I used to document every second and share it on social media. Then, the pandemic happened...life happened...and put it all into perspective. I’ve discovered that I love arranging flowers and hosting friends, interior design and reading, and cooking with my husband (more like, accompany him to the kitchen). Being present means doing something that aligns with you and while I love my job, there’s something so refreshing about stepping back from digital life and focusing on the smallest things like the faint scent of a candle, setting the table, festive gatherings with girlfriends, sipping a hot toddy while reading a good book or rearranging my bookshelves. When asked what gift I wanted to give this holiday season, I immediately thought, “the gift of being present.” Small reminders to help others think, feel, smell, and witness… More than ever, it’s important to be connected to yourself and loved ones, which means putting the phone down to embrace each moment to the fullest because life is precious and so short. It’s easy to miss when you’re constantly plugged in. Everyone knows scent churns up the greatest memories and is considered one of the strongest senses. So I want you to imagine yourself lighting a candle in your space, enveloped by the smell of fresh pine and white fir while you cozy up thinking about memories of being a child playing in the snow or putting up your Christmas decorations. One of my fondest memories as a child was dancing in the Nutcracker so when I smell brisk peppermint and warm vanilla, I’m immediately transported backstage watching the Sugarplum Fairy dance in awe. Let’s not forget how soothing eucalyptus and sage can be on a quiet, cold night while you briefly close your eyes in the bathtub or how hints of holly berry and cardamom help conjure up simple home cooked meals...but when combined with fresh tulips, evoke the most sensational holiday scent. To me, a gift that encourages loved ones (myself included) to slow down, be present and reflect on the small things is far more valuable than a new cashmere sweater you (might) toss out next season or a bottle of champagne your friends already have in their bar cart. It also helps set the tone for the upcoming new year, which I’m calling “The Year of Intention!” A gentle reminder to view life through a finite lens every time things get hard. One of my newfound discoveries is L’or de Seraphine, an artisanal home fragrance brand crafting the most beautiful (and aromatic) candles I’ve seen (and smelled)! Their wax is sustainably sourced (a slow and clean burn free of parabens) and their vessels can be repurposed into vases and containers that feel both elegant and edgy. Their latest collection, the Félicite Collection, has every size candle you can imagine, and the price points are very reasonable given their luxury touch and adorable gift boxes. But perhaps the best part of L’or de Seraphine is their timeless approach to design. Their holiday candle collection is designed to look seasonless so that you can leave your candle out as long as you like while it seamlessly blends into your decor year round. If you love pine as much as I do, you’ll adore this collection. Sure, this holiday season feels different. Unlike others, I’m not filling my schedule with work events or overdoing my holiday decorations. I’m doing just enough so that I can relax and refocus going into 2022 - something I’ve needed to do for quite some time. Xo, Stephanie PS: Find L’or de Seraphine at Bloomingdales and Nordstrom near you or at lordeseraphine.com.