Familiar doesn't have to mean mundane—if you can jostle yourself out of autopilot, the everyday can be sublime.
By Antoinette Portis
Antoinette Portis, author of the children's book Not a Box—in which a rabbit transforms a bit of cardboard into everything from a mountain to a rocket ship—offers three ideas to awaken your senses and rediscover the world right around you.
Find What Your Nose Knows
Every place has its own scent, and your route through the day creates a unique symphony of smells. Tell a friend about your day using only the scents you encountered: the aromatic peaches and nutty oatmeal at the breakfast table, the hyacinths blooming along the front walk, the sharp tang of gasoline when you stopped to fill up the car.
Step Back in Time
Spend the evening pretending the electricity is out. Turn off all your electronic devices and light the house with candles. Enjoy a meal without the backdrop of music or TV. Take a walk in the magic hour that marks the transition from day to dusk. Watch your neighborhood get bathed in golden light as familiar landscapes reveal themselves anew.
Map Your Memories
Draw your neighborhood, but rather than writing out street names, use only your personal landmarks. Be as specific as possible. For your favorite restaurant, sketch the meal you always order when you have something to celebrate. For your weekend jog along the ravine, draw the bench where you meet your running buddy each weekend, and the coffee shop you always visit afterward. What areas of your map have the most memories and texture? Which corners are waiting to be explored?