As I think back to my childhood I can only recall the feeling of freedom and joy. The most beautiful thing about being a child is that you are constantly learning and exploring. When you’re an adult looking upon a child, to them everything is new and exciting, and with every discovery they make, you get to witness their wonder and surprise as their world seems to brighten and expand.
I would love to be a fly on the wall in a room full of children; I would just sit there in awe as I watch their busy little bodies and minds create so freely. If you’re looking to be inspired or you need to reconnect with your inner creativity spend a couple of hours with a child.
My personal tragedy involved the loss of my young niece, and the idea of losing a child is one of the hardest and most unnatural realities in the world. Their innocence and joy are what make them so special, and so difficult to part with. After Ashlyns’ passing I had a very hard time being around young children. I remember attending a birthday party for a close friend’s daughter, Lily, she was only one year older than my niece. Although the day was a day of celebration and joy, and I was happy to be apart of it, the day was a personal challenge. It was extremely difficult to watch this beautiful young girl grow and develop, all the while knowing that this same milestone would never be celebrated with our Ashlyn. Witnessing Lily’s growth to this day is beautiful and brilliant. She’s a creative, sassy little lady who fills the room with laughter and joy, but she reminds me so much of my niece and so did so many other young girls at that time. I did not resent them for reminding me of her; it was just that in the beginning the reminder was one that stirred up the feelings of loss, yearning and sadness. For the first couple months seeing a child, brought me little joy, quite the opposite as it had been in my past. I’ve always loved children, and the loss of my admiration and excitement over children saddened me further. This worry of becoming attached to another child that I could ultimately lose made me uncomfortable and distant. The worry of reliving the same experience again would honestly bring me to tears, and push me further and further into hiding.
As I furthered through the healing process, dealing with my anger and my sadness, my fears slowly began to recede. Little did I know that over time, the experience and closeness I feared the most in the beginning, would soon turn into the gift that would help guide me through my journey and inspire me the most.
To me family has always been number one in my life. Without family I would be lost, without my two young nephews I would be completely lost. The second I see them my whole world changes, my pride is overwhelming, my excitement to kiss, hug and hold them never fades. My advice to you is to find your inner child, and the best way to accomplish this is to spend time with children. I know there are people out there that are uncomfortable with holding babies, or just aren’t “kid people”, but I assure you, you will not regret letting loose and feeling like a kid again, if only for a brief moment.
When you dive into a world of a child you are loved, you are wanted, you get to witness life through their eyes and you will feel freer because of it. Never in my life would you see me crawling on my hands and knees under tables pretending to be a dog, squeezing into tool boxes in a closet for a game of hide and seek, or running down the street jumping in and out of bushes pretending to be a spy on my own time, but when you are welcomed into their world and into the creativity of a child, you are free to be whoever and whatever you want you to be at that moment. When you step into their world it’s a world free of judgment, free of fear, and most importantly a world of possibilities. Your creativity will soar in unison with the child at hand, they will push you to create characters, scenes and follow through with actions. You will be forced to let loose, let go of your worries and insecurities and just be present in the moment. The time when you let go and just live in that moment, and see through a their eyes for the first time, is one of the most freeing and inspiring experiences of an adults life. You will walk away smiling, you will speak of your silly adventures, and the remarkable and unimaginable things a child has inconceivably convinced you to do, and you will be freer and happier because of it. These are my experiences every time I take another adventure with my nephew Fletcher. His creativity is endless and I am a better person because of him.
One of my favorite adventures with Fletcher is heading to the park. We pretend to be hobbits and fight bad guys as we make our way up, down and around the jungle gym. I love when he proudly shows me his skills, like hanging upside-down from the bars, and then encourages and teaches me how to perfect my same skills. His patience and detail during instructions often leaves me in shock and awe. We often head to the swing set, where I push him high into the sky and the laughter and joy that exudes from him is contagious to anyone watching. I often climb into the swing beside him and encourage him to learn how to pump and point his feet, so he to can soar on his own. This honest and safe interaction of teaching and learning from a child is one that passes so naturally and leaves you feeling enriched to have been a part of it. To be honest, I find a swing set to be one of my favorite things in the entire world. Whether a child is present or not, it’s an experience that brings me back to my youth and instantly makes me happy. As I rise into and fall from the air, I feel safe yet free. As I soar I forget my worries, and all I see and feel is the wind through my hair, the weightlessness of my body, and the grin of pure joy spread across my face. Whenever I feel lost or overwhelmed, you can be sure to find me at the closest park finding my inner child again. That is the first time I have said that (or wrote that) out loud, there are a few people who have witnessed this action or know its prevalence in my life, but I don’t believe they know how often I head that direction to find peace and rid myself of fear.
Then there is my nephew Blaez who isn’t even a year old and has the ability to charm a room into silence. Without words, his expressive little face, endless giggles and gurgles captivate everyone around him, until you realize not a word has been spoken between adults for minutes, as we stare on at him in awe and wonderment. With Blaez my love is like an addiction, I capture every moment, every memory, on film or video just so I can relive the joy I feel when he’s around. His innocence, his ability to learn and grow so quickly never ceases to amaze me, and I am at my brightest when I’m near him and his older brother Fletcher. I often wonder how the world looks to him, how incredible, new and exciting it must be. With every new food, new toy, even a box or cooking pot he looks upon or touches, he is amazed and elated. The excitement and happiness created with the discovery of everyday objects and experiences, it almost seems to stand as a reminder to you how brilliant the world we live in really is. It is a real shame how often we take our world for granted and how many times beauty goes unnoticed. Children are one of the greatest gifts to adults, not only because of the amazing journey and growth you are privileged to witness, but because of the reminder they give you that you are truly blessed to be living, breathing and experiencing every moment of your life.
I couldn’t imagine a life without Fletcher, Blaez, Lily, her sister Clarity and brother Joey in it. They have enriched my life beyond words, they give strength even though they are unaware of their impact, and they keep me young and free. For each of them and for many reasons, I am truly thankful. I look forward to the endless adventures, and watching them grow and inspire others throughout their journeys.
Take a moment this week or next, to find your inner child again. Spend time with your children, nieces, nephews or friends children. Let their creativity wash over you, let their love and admiration inspire you, and let yourself be captivated by their brilliance. Children are an incredible blessing, and you will feel freer, more privileged and happier once you’ve lived in their world again.
Wishing you happiness during your adventures in space, exploring new worlds, or roaming the wild with your incredible little ones.