When the Inner Child Bubbles

“After a while the middle-aged person who lives in her head
begins to talk to her soul, the kid.”
–Anne Lamott, from the novel Joe Jones

Yesterday morning I awoke to perfection. My eyes fluttered lazily in the pre-dawn moments as a lilac-scented breeze shivered through the curtains and the wind chimes tinkled while a growing chorus of bluebirds and warblers, robins and wrens greeted the rising sun. I lay silently for a few, precious minutes, basking in the peaceful glory–but then my traitorous mind remembered the long list of chores awaiting my attack, and I stumbled grudgingly from my haven.

When I retired almost two years ago, I mistakenly thought all my days would be my own, to do with as I pleased. And while I do spend a disproportionate amount of time in my pajamas (which can be verified by the Fed Ex delivery man, the UPS man, the mail lady and the neighbors), I am almost always busy–too busy–letting the weight of responsibilities and the expectations of the world steal my days and consume my thoughts. There is always just so much to do.

I’m sure you know exactly how that feels.

And so it is no wonder that my spirit cherishes those rare occasions when I can push aside the multitude of grown-woman worries and fears and allow the tender, awe-struck child within to bubble to the surface. Just when I begin to worry that I have lost her forever, buried alive beneath the rubble of Superwoman obligations, she suddenly reappears, and my faith is restored. How can I possibly surrender to this old-age nonsense when there’s still a giddy little girl inside me?

I remember the first time in my adult life when I realized my inner child was still alive and well. I was on a dream trip to New York, attending a Broadway musical with friends, and for the entire two hours of the musical I could not stop smiling. Sure, I was still a boring, frazzled English teacher from the Ozarks, but for that brief time I was also a giddy little girl dazzled by the big ol’ world opening before me.

Giddy Girl reappeared a few years after the New York trip when I was meandering on the sunrise beaches of Sullivan’s Island–and then again several years after that when I was standing in silent reverie at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. And then she emerged again when I was riding on the back of my husband’s motorcycle through the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico and exploring the sprawling, old streets of Santa Fe. And more than once last summer she surfaced while we were taking sunset boat cruises around the lake.

And although I never know for sure when Giddy Girl is going to make her presence known, every one of her visits seems to be accompanied by the same sentiments.

Peace. Contentment. Joy.


Thanks to my husband, I recently had the grandest giddy-girl experience yet. For Christmas, he gave me a gift certificate to attend a three-day photography workshop in April with famed nature photographer Tim Ernst–three days of hiking through the woods of Northwest Arkansas, shooting waterfalls and wildflowers and absorbing as much as my frazzled mind could comprehend. It was a gift so thoughtful and generous that it made this grown woman cry while her inner child squealed in excitement and immediately marked off on the calendar how many more “sleeps” there were before the Big Day.

And when that Big Day finally arrived four months later, my inner child bubbled to the surface again and stayed there for the entire three days. I was over the moon with excitement, somersaulting through the clouds and sliding down rainbows (or something equally as goofy).

I was a little girl wading through the ice-cold, knee-deep waters of rushing creeks. So what if the grown, non-swimming woman worried about being viciously attacked by lurking water moccasins or being swept downstream into the crashing boulders? The grown woman used her tripod as a walker to brace against the rapids while the little girl bravely splashed her way through the current because she had been promised waterfall prizes on the other side.

I was a little girl shrieking in terror when the baggy containing one of my lenses fell from my vest–and a grown woman grateful for the knight in shining armor (dressed in husband clothes) who rescued the lens, unharmed, before the current carried it away.

I was a little girl traipsing down over-grown trails and climbing over colossal, fallen logs–and when one of those fallen logs decided the grown woman needed to join it on the rocky ground, the little girl blushed in embarrassment but picked herself up, brushed the dirt and dead leaves off her bruised knees and elbows and backside, and hobbled on.

I was a little girl excitedly scampering through a field of enchanting wildflowers, so focused on clicking away at all the beauty that I never noticed the poison ivy tangling at my feet and silently spewing its venom. And even though the grown woman paid for that inattentiveness for several miserable weeks to come, the little girl within wouldn’t have traded that wildflower paradise for all the Benadryl and calamine lotion in the world.

And I was a little girl desperate for the teacher’s attention and approval, staying up late into the evening, editing pictures and asking questions and seeking advice and cherishing occasional compliments. The grown woman knew the alarm clock’s shrill was only hours away, but she also knew she could sleep when she got home–that this time was too precious and priceless to be frittered away in wasted slumber.

And even though it was an old woman who slept (and scratched) for days after returning home, she never stopped smiling, and she’s smiling still–for she has finally realized that the child within will always be with her. That giddy little girl has claimed a permanent place in the grown woman’s dancing soul and is joyfully waiting for her next opportunity to bubble to the surface again.

What a lucky girl I am.

So what about you–what makes you giddy with delight? What brings you such peace, contentment and joy? And if you don’t know those answers yet, please keep searching until you do–your inner child will thank you. I promise.

These are just a few of my photos from the workshop, and if you think you might be interested in attending one of Mr. Ernst’s photography workshops, you can find more information here.


Wild phlox by the roadside . . .

six fingers1finaledit

Six Finger Falls . . .

iris final edit

Wild iris (with poison ivy hiding somewhere nearby) . . .

fuzzy butt final edit

Fuzzybutt Falls . . . 

rosebud fog final edit

Morning fog over the “Arkansas Grand Canyon” . . .

barn big dipper final edit

One of my first attempts at night photography . . .

karen big creek falls7-Edit

My favorite–a cascade at Big Creek Falls . . .

workshop2-2And Giddy Girl being schooled by one of the instructors, Ray Scott, who is an exceptional photographer himself. You can view his photo galleries or order one of his books here.


About icedteawithlemon

I have recently retired from a 30-year career in education in one of the best school districts in the world. I hope to spend my second life reading, writing, photographing, traveling, biking, cheering on my favorite baseball team (the St. Louis Cardinals), and soaking up glorious sunshine. In my spare time I enjoy playing with my pet tarantulas, trying out new flavors of chewing gum, and knitting socks for prison inmates. I'm almost positive that in a past life I was one of the Seven Dwarfs (most likely "Grumpy"), and in my next life I'm going to be either a taste tester for Hershey's or a model for Victoria's Secret's new line, "Bloomers for Boomers." I want to travel country back roads, singing Vanilla Ice songs at every karaoke bar and rating bathroom cleanliness at every truckstop. And someday I plan to own a private beach where skinny girls aren't allowed. I want to be a writer when I grow up. "Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake."--Henry David Thoreau
This entry was posted in Beauty, Flowers, Gratitude, Ozarks, Photography, Simple Pleasures and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to When the Inner Child Bubbles

  1. I can’t even speak…unfortunately, the giddy girl here was locked away on purpose due to being too vulnerable, too guilty, too ashamed, too weak. I’ve been working on accepting her as allowing the truth that those lies kept me from years of enjoying life, as I feared the day someone might realize her…that someone, was me. No goals, no dreams, no risk of adventure was allowed. Just as you said, she’ll surface regardless at some point…the lock has rusted, the wood door has rotted, and if not that she’s taken her determination to be known and live; so patiently but relentlessly she continues to find a hole to poke thru. Thank you for this!

    • Wow . . . you certainly tugged at my heartstrings this morning. I understand perfectly that intentional locking away of the giddy girl. For years, because I was a woman, because I was small, because I was a teacher and then a principal, I felt like I had to maintain a tough exterior in order to garner respect, maintain discipline and simply survive in what was so often a male-dominated world. My softer, weaker side was always there, but it took a long time for me to garner the courage to let that side show–to be human. And once I realized it was okay to be vulnerable, I found myself being open to new opportunities, new dreams, new joys. I hope that makes sense!

      You are truly a beautiful person, inside and out, and I hope your giddy girl continues to find those holes to poke through until she is strong enough to kick off the rusted locks and slam through that rotted door. Shine on, sweet lady!

  2. bronxboy55 says:

    I know very few people who can write with your skill and insight. I also know very few who can take a camera into so many different situations and capture images the way you do. I don’t know anyone else who can do both with such spectacular results.

    • Thank you for your kindness, Charles. Lately, I’ve been so busy with other obligations that I haven’t had enough time to devote to either endeavor, which I regret because they both bring me such joy. And I am so looking forward to bringing my camera and my pen to your neck of the woods in just a few more months–and will soon be bombarding you with questions and requests for “must see” recommendations of places to photograph.

  3. Reblogged this on Simply L.O.L.A. and commented:
    Even if you don’t believe there’s an inner…I ask you to read this.

  4. Karen, yet again a powerful and mesmerizing post. It’s always a joy to happen upon your latest elegant tapestry of inner musings

    From your post:
    “Yesterday morning I awoke to perfection. My eyes fluttered lazily in the pre-dawn moments as a lilac-scented breeze shivered through the curtains and the wind chimes tinkled while a growing chorus of bluebirds and warblers, robins and wrens greeted the rising sun.”

    …delicious. Positively delicious. Love it.

    I recalled this beautiful excerpt from a book that I recently read, and thought it proper I insert it here for your perusal and pondering…I also loved the fact my name is mentioned here, not that I am a narcissist…”I am NOT!”, she loudly proclaimed.

    “Finding her voice at last, she asked, “What dreams are you having, sir?”
    “I had a dream in which I was in a spring field and a woman stands in the shadows just at the edge of the nearby forest. I haven’t yet seen her face, only her long beautiful hair. I always wake too soon.” He reached up to touch the hawk touchstone around his throat as he described his dream, rubbing it absently between his fingers. Lily lowered her lashes to hide her astonishment. “When you see someone in a dream but cannot see their face, it means you haven’t met them yet,” she explained. “Then perhaps I’ll dream of her again tonight and this time I’ll see her face.” He smiled, reaching across the table to take her left hand and lift it to his lips. “My name is Ian Kelly, and it would give me the greatest pleasure to know yours.”

    “Lily Evans. Around here I go by Raven.” She raised a shoulder, indicating the gypsy tent.
    “Lily–indeed, a most beautiful name. Now tell me,” he stared pointedly at her hand, “I see no ring that another has claimed you as his, so my confidence is strengthened. Look at your cards again, milady, and tell me if you see me in your future…” “How is it I can possibly see your face in my future, sir, when I am too occupied with attempting to seek my own?”

    – Shannon MacLeod, The Celtic Knot

    Wonderful book.

    As I think I previously mentioned, writing is my passion, and awakens me from the world of daily fog and restless sleep. I adore writing scripts, especially comedy, as this world is by far a too dreary place where things are taken far too seriously by far too many. Passion is indulging in something where hours spent feel like minutes; If I’m on a roll, I can quite literally write from dawn to dusk. My exhaustion at the end of the day is not negative or draining – it is pure satisfaction. I’m sure you can relate to this, what with your wonderful passion (and talent!) for photography and writing.

    Your photo of the morning fog over the “Arkansas Grand Canyon” is just absolutely GORGEOUS. It’s also haunting, brooding, and deliciously Gothic…I can easily recall in my mind’s eye quotes from “Wuthering Heights” and picture Emily Brontë roaming these fields with writer’s block! 😉

    Your other photos are also, and as usual, perfection.

    Keep on keepin’ on, girl!

    Tiger Lil

    • As always, thank you so much, Tiger Lil, for your thoughtful and thought-provoking comments. “Passion is indulging in something where hours spent feel like minutes”–YES! Exactly! Occasionally I feel guilty for all the time I spend writing and photographing and dreaming, but that guilt is always short-lived, and I can honestly think of no grander, more satisfying way to spend my days. And your comments here are always so entertaining and delightful that I can only imagine how delicious your own scripts must be!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s