Loving the Inner Little One’s Heart

In response to Sindy’s Inner Child Challenge at bluebutterfliesandme.

On days like this, I come home with muddy knees and butt.  On days like this, I am eight.

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I believe we have within us every age we have ever been. I love and have deep compassion for all the ages I have been, but eight is my favorite. She is adventuresome, sure of herself, strong and happy – especially in Nature. She is creative, free and natural, running like a horse – before everything hit the fan in her life.

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I am lucky to have never lost touch with her. I have always made sure to either live in Nature or have easy access to it wherever I have lived throughout my life.  A lot of people lose their inner children. Trauma, the process of separation/individuation, adolescence, the need to appear mature, busy-ness, or for whatever reason, sadly, they often go away. I encourage you to invite them back.

My mom got sick when I was 10, so things got hard. She was a beautiful, loving, nurturing mother who I loved deeply. She adored me and helped me through the early years of a lifelong illness I acquired when I was 2 months old.  She died when I was 12, leaving me with an alcoholic father – very sweet, loving, sensitive poet of a man, but a rage-oholic when drunk, which was most of the time. Or he was embarrassing me to tears in public. The grief was unbearable. I missed my mom more than I can ever say. Kids weren’t allowed to grieve back then.  It was Nature that saved me, and being 8.  Specific people were certainly imperative as well, but my little eight chose happiness. She chose love. She chose to let go of bitterness. She chose an early spiritual path. She is my true heart center.

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In my 30 year psychotherapy practice, I have done a lot of inner child work. I love it. I love helping people to get in touch with their inner little ones. Feels sacred to me. I am trained in a modality called Psychosynthesis. Part of the process is to separate the personality into its different parts, or sub-personalities, get them talking to one another, and helping them to learn how to get their needs met in healthy ways.

So, you see, inner child-ness is important to me on many levels – personal, professional, and truth be told, I just like to explore and play.

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Taking pictures is one way I get in touch with her. All I have to do is go outside with my camera, and I am automatically her. I am immediately filled with gratitude and joy.

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Another way to be her is to play in the mud. That can be actual mud by a creek or it can be clay….or remember silly putty? Or play dough. Ok, how many of you remember the smell? It tasted like salt, not how it smells.

Coloring is fun, or a doodling technique called Zentangle. I just painted a pair of white sneekers with a bunch of kids and adult kids at my friend’s birthday party.  Yeah, colored Sharpies and rubbing alcohol. Who knew?

Dancing, singing, expressing without judgement. Judgement is not for inner children! It hurts them. Or shame. Never ever shame your inner child. When the inner critic is present – you deal with it as the adult. Don’t let it near the inner kids, unless they want to tell it off.

Every year I get together for a 5 day camping trip with close friends with whom I was in community in our 20s during the 1970s. We go to a different beautiful place every year. We are 3 generations now, so all ages come. We are the originals and then there are the 2nd genners (generations) and 3rd genners. One of the 3rd genner kids this year said. “I love how we are all kids no matter how old we are when we come to this….except Pop-pop. He’s a grown-up.”

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So, with groups of trusted friends – play!  We play all kinds of games that all ages enjoy, like Corn Hole. This involves 2 slanted boards, far away from each other, that each have one small hole. You have little bags like bean bags, only corn instead of beans, and you throw them into the holes. My game partner, a beloved 2nd genner and I won the championship one year, but alas, we somehow lost our edge.  Oh well. We all just laugh and talk, walk and play, eat a lot and have a blast.

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There is a Corn Hole team called The Lady Bugs

Ride a horse. Go on amusement park rides – unless they are too scary. Sort of scary is ok to gently push a little to boost confidence, but if the inner kid says no, don’t do it. Go fishing. Climb a tree. Skip. Paint your face rainbow colors. Have a slumber party. Go to a lake and watch a sunset with a friend. Go on a road trip with a friend. Or go by yourself or with your dog. Watch kid movies. Read kid books. Drink a chocolate milkshake…unless you are allergic to milk. Oh, and hang out with kids doing whatever they want to do. It’s usually something fun. Play dress ups or with dolls. If you are a guy and never got to do that, and wanted to… Do it now. Lie down outside and pick out shapes in the clouds.  Swim in a river, lake or the ocean. Swim with dolphins. Play with your pet.  Create something.  Build a castle in the sand and decorate it with sea shells. Build it for faeries or gnomes to live in. Have a theme party. Pretend. Imagine.

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It’s a heart, right?

Sit by a tree and close your eyes. Listen to every sound. Smell every fragrance. Feel the earth beneath you. See how many sounds and smells you can detect, then feel/smell/hear them all as one. Make up a story about an animal you see.

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Often issues come up for us as adults. Go inside.  How old were you when you first felt what you are feeling? Love that child. Ask her or him what happened that made him or her feel this. Go back to that scene. Feel it. Stand up for her or him as you, the adult.  How does the child feel with your support? Let the child talk and cry and just hold them.  Listen to them and validate their experience and feelings. Tell the one who hurt them where to go. Just be with the inner child. Be strong, solid and loving. Let them know how important they are to you. Apologize for not keeping them safe and that you will keep them safe now. Then go do whatever they want to do. Eat a lollipop. Swing on a swing set, singing at the top of your lungs. Whatever. Let them feel your love, compassion and belief in them. Let them know they can get through anything with your support.

Walk in Nature, and explore every little thing.

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There are many things to do to make your inner child happy. Listen to her/him. Validate what s/he says and take action to protect him/her. Love your inner child’s heart always. Be in the Moment…..And Remember To PLAY and Have Fun!

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81 thoughts on “Loving the Inner Little One’s Heart

    • Thank you Elena!! I have been thinking a lot about you the last several days, and now here you are! I love that we are still so connected. I’m glad you liked this, and that you can use it. Thank you for reading and commenting. I really appreciate it and I appreciate you! ❤

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  1. Hi Mary, for me it’s 10. I guess that’s why I so enjoyed teaching that age level. It marks a significant shift from the sort of solipsism of childhood into realizing just how big and populous the outside world is. It scared me a bit as I was pretty shy and unsure of myself at that age and I, too, took refuge in the woods. Just laying in tall grass gave me a luscious cocoon open to the sky, shared with bugs and birds and clouds. Sitting by the side of the river made me imagine what it was like where it came from and how it would be downstream. I did a lot of canoeing and rafting and boating at every stage of my life. Interesting that I have no water signs anywhere in my astrological chart.

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    • I can see you doing that, Dennis. We could have been friends then too. Weird that you have no water in your life now, though. I suggest you go on a canoe trip soon! 🙂 Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

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      • I’m amazed at how many of the responses remarked that they had had a woods or large wild park nearby as they were growing up. I did also. My kids had arroyos and pinon-juniper forests for as far as one could see. I’m sad for kids who don’t have that as a refuge anymore.

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      • Me too, Dennis. Kids just don’t have the freedom to explore that we had. It’s all about techno gadgets or organized activities. Really sad to me for them. Also because, if they don’t love the planet, who will protect Her? I remember being gone from just after breakfast to right before dinner. That is illegal now, to let your kids roam. It’s tragic.

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  2. We had woods by our house when I was growing up. It is now a big park. We kids would play in it all the time. I grew up in Western Washington, so we at the time,( I was born in Oct. of ’52) had a lot of woods to play in. We even walked to school on a path in the woods. Many times I would go in the woods to play as some animal. I remember playing many times as a leopard. Loved doing that. I have always felt more of an affinity for animals than people, and I do like people usually.
    Thank you Mary for reminding me of the memories playing in the woods. Love You

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    • I don’t remember you ever telling me about the leopard. That is such a powerful and beautiful animal. I was always a horse. Sometimes, though, I would lie down next to a creek just to see from the perspective of small animals that would come to drink. Thank you for your comment. ❤

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  3. Lovely post! I was nine when things really got challenging and 10 when I learned it wasn’t ok to be me. Glad for all the work I’ve done around that, and all the work you managed to do to get you to who you are now and all that you share with others.

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  4. Thank you Katelon. What a nice comment. I’m glad you did the work and are where you are. I was fortunate to always have Nature and really really good people. Thank you for your comment.
    Mary

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  5. Wonderful post, Mary!!! I am so happy to hear that you were able to became so strong after such adversity. I love doing all those things, and like a kid, I also do not like cleaning up and all that adult non-sense. 🙂

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  6. You are such a beautiful soul Mary. Your story and how you have healed over the years is inspirational. I am sure you have helped many along the way with your deep compassion and understanding. The importance of healing our inner child is imperative to move forward and you give such great wisdom and insight into this today. I am off to the beach with my own children today and you have reminded me to connect to the freedom of my inner child and relax! You have reminded me to have fun, let go and explore again ha! Thankyou so much.

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    • Thank you Karen! What a wonderful comment. You are a beautiful, compassionate soul too. I hope you have a wonderful day relaxing and playing at the beach!

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  7. I absolutely love this share Mary..thank you for so beautifully letting us into your heart, for your vulnerability, and your vibrant loving heart. There is so much that we share and I love that and you ♡ here’s to the eternal child forever playing in the field of dreams. Now let’s go build a sand castle to the sky

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  8. Aw thanks, Tania. I feel such kinship with you, though we have never met in person. You have such a beautiful heart. I love you. ❤ Ok, let's go build a sand castle to the sky! 🙂

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  9. In my early days, my inner child disappeared quickly through two traumatic moves that ripped my world apart at the time. I’m rediscovering creativity and fun again in my golden years.

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  10. Glad to hear that, Olga. It’s never too late to have a happy childhood! I am lucky. I had to grow up the day my mom died, but somehow Little Eight stayed. Thank goodness! I am so sorry you went through those traumatic moves that ripped your world apart. I’m glad you are healing that little one. Thanks for your comment.
    Peace,
    Mary

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  11. Mary that was just too awesome. Thank you for your insightful sharing coming forth from your golden nature soul. I did some work with my child on Thursday when I began the challenge,It had some emotional results on Friday. I need some nature and play time ❤

    I am going to spend some time nurturing her ❤ I am going to bring some childish fun to this party.

    Namaste
    Big Love~
    Sindy

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    • In the cloud itself or the blue sky? I can see one in the blue sky! Yes, do play with your child! What will you do?

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  15. Mary,
    Of course, this is one of my favorite posts so far. My 8 year old loves to come out and play with your 8 year old. I love to remember playing in the woods near my home outside of Philadelphia, and imagine you at the same moment playing in the woods near your home outside of Baltimore. I fantasize that at the very same instant on one beautiful morning in the summer of 1965, a robin called out to both of us and we froze in our tracks and looked around and up, searching for that robin. And she spoke to our hearts and said, ” Someday, in a land far away called New Mexico, you will find your soul mate best friend. You will recognize each other instantly, and you will always see in each other the good and the innocence, and the joy of being an 8 year old, just the way you are today.” Of course, we found each other 30 years later — and now 30 years ago – in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Thank you for making your way to me so many years and miles later. And even when we become shriveled up old ladies, know that you will always be 8 to me.

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    • Yes, I remember that Robin. I was 10 then, and my mom was already sick. I did stop in my tracks and notice. Though it took 30 years, she brought us together, and shall hold us together through eternity. No matter where we are, geographically near or not, in body or out, she will always keep our souls near to each other. This we both know. I love you, Kris.

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  16. I loved this post, Mary, and getting to know the little one inside of you. The picture of you and your friend in the folding chairs, and the expressions on your faces, after reading about your mother’s passing when you were so young felt like a resounding yes! to the power we find in embracing life.

    I have interesting memories of being eight… bike rides through the city to the library, to the Red Mountain Museum, and the Discovery Center– zooming past parks where someone was rumored to have been killed with a sword. A school that didn’t work for me at all. Exasperation and tears. The miracle of a school that did. Laying awake one summer night, sweating, listening to sirens in the distance– hoping the Cold War wouldn’t escalate. Sensing one push of the button was too close… too easy… The Goonies. Memorizing constellations. Realizing the power of making the world familiar to me.

    There was pain and promise alike, both with intensity that year, but also deep contact with the living marrow of who I was. Some of my first tastes of grace, scrambling hikes through the woods, new friends, Jim Kjelgaard stories and Narnia books. The seeds of Love’s presence, being watered…

    Thank you for the touching and inspiring post!
    Much Love
    Michael

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    • Thank you for such a heart felt comment, Michael. The last paragraph is such a great wrap up for that year for both of us. Beautifully written. I remember those sirens. They would bring me to my knees. Remember bomb drills under our desks with our hands over our heads…like that would have helped.
      It has been a good generation to grow up in. I am grateful to be/have been in it. We have seen a lot of change.
      I’m glad you found a school that worked for you. I didn’t really find mine until my senior year. It was a Friends school, that sent bus loads of us to peace marches on Washington.
      I hope you have a lovely Sunday, Michael. So nice to be in touch like this.

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  18. Mary,
    You did well here. I enjoyed learning more about you and how naturally in touch you are with your 8 year old self. I am more in touch with my inner teenager. She had more fun than the younger versions of me, as far as I can tell. I was a very serious child and am still pretty serious, but less as I move through time. I really enjoyed this post.

    peace, Linda

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    • I do too! I take a lot of heart pictures. Sadly a lot of them are pre-digital. Oh, I think we had this converstion. I thought of you in the Close Up post with the beetle with the heart on its back.
      Sure, feel free to re-blog. Is that what you mean by feature? Whatever, I would appreciate it. Thanks! I’m glad you liked it. 🙂

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      • Yeah, haha. I’ve been blogging for a little over 9 months. It’s complicated. I got a lot out of blogging 101 that wordpress puts on every month. I couldn’t do all of it, but I learned how to do a lot, and got to know some people. When did you start?

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      • lol Ohhh about 3yrs now. I’m a pretty quiet person. I started my blog when I took a blogging class in college. I have a difficult time trying to get my blog out into the world though. I originally wanted to help people reconnect with nature through posts w/added activities, but I haven’t really had much success with feedback. I keep trying in different ways though 🙂 .

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  21. This is so wonderful, Mary B! I just love the idea of letting go of all of the unnecessary fluff that we take on as adults, and surrendering to that innocent, creative, and unabashedly fun-loving creature that we once were. Sometimes I like to paint with my fingers. I just swim about the canvas with no direction, just a bunch of colours and my 10 fingertips! Thank you for bringing up this topic, I really needed a reminder of little me. She was so observant, quiet and shy, but very creative, always imagining all sorts of games. She made fairy houses, and imagined that three pines in a grove together were actually a giant evergreen teepee that housed pocohontas. She peeled layer and layer of moss off of the hill to make Pocohontas’ bed. She was so demanding too! She made everybody play her reindeer games (so long as she always played the lead!). And then there was my brother, always looking out for me, and playing along with my games. But of course there would be pestering! We loved each other, it was how we played. When rough house would turn to tears, even the tears were innocent, and the inner me wasn’t even quite sure what she was crying about, she just lost herself in the act of crying. Amazing how we can be so resolute about our emotions, and at the same time so undecided about the reasons for which we have them. Nowadays I think ‘I’m in control, I know what I’m doing, when I’m going to cry and why, who is at fault, I know everything’. But there was something so grand in living life on the edge of my seat as I did when I was a child–everything new, and unknown to me. Thank you for bringing me back there, and thank you for sharing all of those lovely pictures! I miss you and love you so much. *><*

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    • I remember playing games with that beautiful little girl. I so loved her imagination, which has not really ebbed since you grew up. You are still that creative fun loving creature. I think finger painting sounds grand. Thank you for reading, Steph, and commenting. I love you and miss you so very much. Oh, and I want to hear all about your new job!!! *><* ❤ ❤ ❤
      OMG!!!! I just noticed you started a blog! I’m going there right now! Yay!!!!!!!!!!

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  23. Great post Mary! I do remember the smell and taste of play doh. I have several coloring books with crayons (shared and those just for me:)), tree swings – I swing in my front yard and don’t care – sing and dance – sometimes with boas and jingly bracelets. Such fun to get in touch with the inner child. Love your posts!!

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  28. Hi Mary,
    I’m sorry you lost your mother at such a young age. The truth is that I am speechless about it, and in awe of your blog. I always seem to develop friendships with people who lost a parent early on. I think it’s because my mother lost her father early on – and I just sort of took up some of that burden into my own heart. That fact that you come and visit me and play at my blog has my heart so warmed… I cannot explain. Thank you for accepting the award ~ So much Love, Ka

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  30. Thank you, Ka. Such a beautiful, warm hearted thing to say.
    Death has sort of walked by me all my life. My mom’s mother died while she was pregnant with me, so I got grief through the umbilical cord. Then she died. I have come close to death on several occasions, my dad died when I was 22, and my only brother died when I was 32, and several other close people. As hard as it all was, it gave me a lot too, oddly. Whenever anyone lost someone, I was the go to person since I had been through it, so that naturally took me into the counseling field, where I have had an awesome career. Death/rebirth/transformation and cronic illness are all over my chart in almost every house. It has been an interesting life and I am grateful for all the amazing friends I have had over the years, most of whom are still friends. And now you! ❤

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      • She is 25 and suddenly beginning to struggle with growing up, responsibilities and all that stuff. She is the younger daughter and always been the youngest with family and friends kids. She has some anger and suffers from psoriasis. I am stuck as she doesn’t want my help but does…. Am sure it will work out but I can see her inner child struggling and your post helped me with that.

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  31. Aw, sounds hard. That is such a difficult time – that transition into the responsibilities of adulthood. And hard for you because she needs to do things on her own. Sounds like you are there for her when she needs you and she knows that. A perfect platform for her to do it on her own, knowing she has a net to catch her if she falls. I see so many parents struggling on the line between helping and enabling. Sorry about the psoriasis. That is a tough one. I hope she is able to work through her anger issues. Blessings.

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  32. Marybeeloozoola,
    Thank you for sending me this blog. It is just wonderful. The tadpoles in water did remind me of younger times and the great beauty that surrounds us, if we will just open ours eyes to it. I need more innerchild work and time. Stuck in the adult world of work, of no play, no fun, no way. it is just too overwhelming!
    I am not sure what I was doing or where I was when I was eight, but it seemed ok. I think I had a horse then. I don’t know for sure. It is raining here right now. What a blessing! I love the rain, rainbows, and the all the smells and tastes that go along with it. I need more time thinking about that child and less time with the responsibility of a scary adulthood of too much news, driving in rush hour traffic and other adult events. That is not the way to live full time. Thank you, Mary for your lovly photos, reminding me to have some unfettered freedom and time to just enjoy the earth, the sky, the sun, the clouds and all the little and big things that go with it. Especially for reminding me that I am also a part and participant of it. You are a wonder. Thanks for being with me in it. Michelethelmoogoo

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    • Hey Thelmicheloomoo,
      Thank you for reading this one. I was hoping you would. Adult world can be so overwhelming at times. We all need inner kid time to balance it all out, and get back in touch with who we really are in our hearts.I hope that you will take little Michele time and just BE in Nature, exploring, adventuring and playing and I hope that some of that time is with me.
      Namaste Michele
      Marybeelouzoo

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