Being Like Children and Wildflowers

On hot summer days, children play in the lake from dawn until dusk. They do cannonballs off the neighbor’s high wooden deck shouting, “Woo Hoo!” They splash around on paddle boards and rafts without a care in the world. They endlessly climb in and out of the water, running, jumping and swimming with wild abandon.

They remind me of wildflowers that grace winding country roads ~ so natural and charming. Yellow black-eyed Susan, Queen Anne’s lace, blue bachelor’s button and purple coneflowers dance and sway in the summer breeze like happy children.

It was Thoreau who told us, “All good things are wild and free.” While I appreciate formal gardens with highly-cultivated flowers, clean lines and perfect symmetry, they are more like rigid adults. Adults who tug at their swimsuits, hold in their tummies and smooth down windblown hair. Adults who are so self-conscience they miss all the fun.

I want to be more like children and wildflowers. They remind me to loosen up a little, to be more carefree, to accept myself just the way nature intended. They encourage me to stop metaphorically pruning, weeding and digging in quite so hard and just be me. After all, I don’t want to be a bonsai tree. I want to be a wildflower.

I want to swing high into the air with my feet kicked out and my head tilted back. I want to make a chain of clover and wear it in my hair. I want to lay in the grass and watch my thoughts roll by like clouds.

Wherever summer leads you, take time to notice children playing at the park, on neighborhood streets, amusement parks and swimming pools. Be inspired by their curiosity, imagination and lightheartedness. Let their unguarded laughter and movement take you back to your own childlike nature.

Like flowers, children deserve to freely grow in safe and nurturing environments where they can preserve their bright beauty and fresh innocence for as long as possible. I think adults would better serve each other and our world if we could regain some of our guileless naivety and authenticity.

This morning I picked a wild daisy from the woods and put it in a little vase in the kitchen. I slipped on my swimsuit without any self-criticism. Then I ran down to the lake and leapt off the dock with an enthusiastic, “Woo Hoo!” §

Winter Inspires Simplicity

The first thing I see each morning is the top of an enormous oak tree through a ceiling-high bedroom window. As I awaken, my eyes trace the tree’s bare black branches painted on the winter sky. Having let go its cluttered leaves, the tree inspires me to follow its lead and simplify.

Based on the popularity of books and television shows on the subject, I know I’m not alone in my urge to simplify, nor am I the first to be motivated by nature. Isaac Newton wrote, “Nature is pleased with simplicity.” He was referring to mathematical principles and philosophical reasoning, not kitchen cabinets and sock drawers, but I think his point remains.

During his time at Walden Pond, Henry David Thoreau observed, “Every morning was a cheerful invitation to make my life of equal simplicity, and I may say innocence, with nature herself.” Wouldn’t we all accept an invitation to more ease and goodness?

Inspired by the winter landscape, I am beginning the new year by simplifying. Like beauty, simplicity is in the eye of the beholder, but maybe you can relate to my goal of tackling the following areas.

Physical Possessions ~ I’m reconsidering every item in every drawer, closet, shelf, box, cabinet, glove compartment, and secret nook and cranny. I’m keeping only things I love and that align with my idea of a simply beautiful life. Uncomfortable shoes, be gone!

Health and Finances ~ I don’t know about you, but during the winter months I tend to put such things on the back burner. I have experienced the relief of being on top of my game in these areas, and I’m not going to wait until spring to feel that way again.

Digital Footprint ~ Newton and Thoreau didn’t have to worry about this one, but it’s a struggle for me. Photographs, emails, documents, passwords, downloads and “the cloud” hang over my head. I hope to take control of my technology, before it changes and this old dog has to learn more new tricks.

Activities and Pursuits ~ Just as we have limited space in our cupboards, we have limited space in our days. I’m letting go of vague dreams to travel the world or become a gourmet cook who is fluent in French, but I am fully committed to a small number of true passions.

Thoughts and Emotions ~ Sometimes intangible baggage prevents us from simplifying. Just like physical clutter, we have to let go of the stuff in our head and heart that keeps us from living our best life.

I hope you will join me in answering Thoreau’s call to simplify, simplify! If we get stuck, winter’s inspiration is right outside the window in the clarity of a shaft of sunlight, the peace of dormant fields, the freedom of geese in flight, and the beauty of a snowflake.