Joshua Tree National Park, CA
“In my soul, I am still that child who did not care about anything else but the beautiful colors of a rainbow.” – Papiha Ghosh
Gown 1, Gown 2, Gown 3, Boa!, Strappy Sandals 1, Strappy Sandals 2, Strappy Sandals 3, Sunnies 1, Sunnies 2
You may be thinking, what on earth is CGO doing in the middle of a desert with a sequin gown and a boa? I’m with ya! Remember when you were a little girl? You may have loved to play dress up. Or, perhaps, you loved coloring books and didn’t worry about coloring outside the lines. Maybe art was your thing and finger paints brought you immense joy – the messier the better.
That’s exactly how I feel about Midlife. Midlife isn’t about the middle of our lives. Midlife is about permission. Permission to have fun. Permission to be yourself. Permission to break the rules. Permission to make your own rules. Permission to let that inner child roam wild and free. Permission to let the Phoenix rise. Midlife is about you. It’s the most empowering time in a woman’s life if she allows herself to break free from within – to blow away any inner confines that might be keeping her inside of a perfect, little box.
The Desert Series continues with a return to one of my favorite places on earth, Joshua Tree National Park. Joshua Tree has a way of igniting inner freedom. Hippies were drawn to the desert in the 60’s. Being a hippie meant being unconventional and living outside the box. The desert is found woven throughout history from biblical times to more new agey spiritual awakenings. It’s a mecca of space, openness, and freedom. It has a way of shifting and uplifting energy in an instant. Its stark beauty is like a blank canvas. On this particular trip, I decided to bring a little color along, both within and without – to make my own splash!
As I shared in my latest Moxie on Monday post, “Inside of every Midlife woman lies a Millennial that was.” Inside of every Midlife woman also lies an inner child, or inner children – energies that exist within ourselves carrying our younger aspects – our memories, our hopes, our dreams, our joys, and our sorrows. What I’ve discovered for me and the many women in my community is that inner child may have been restrained for way too long. That inner child is waiting to break free. That inner child is waiting for you and your permission.
Joshua Tree was the permission I needed. The peace and quiet of the desert landscape have a way of unleashing unbounded creativity and joy from within. My inner child was chomping at the bit.
Dawn and dusk are my favorite times of the day. I find the beauty at sunrise and sunset to be overwhelming. It had been a beautiful day in the park and as the sun began to approach the mountain tops, you could feel the day’s warmth just begin to steal away! The silence in the desert is a constant companion. As the sun begins to set in the desert, the expansive landscape becomes bathed in the most golden light that’s simply surreal. It’s a golden light that beckons the inner child to come out and play. Mine was like, “Girl? What are we waiting for?”
Playing dress up was a favorite past time as a young girl. It was an escape in a house filled with raucous boys and motorcycles. I can’t say I had the opportunity to play dress up very often. Today, I do. I live a vastly different life. A life with new rules: my rules! And those rules include some necessary play time. That’s the beauty of being a grown up. When we’re young, we have to follow someone else’s rules. When we reach Midlife, we’re living by a new set of rules. If we don’t like the life we are living, we have the power to create a new one.
As Shakespeare so eloquently said, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.” In this day and age, we are most likely living beyond seven acts or decades. That gives us the endless opportunity to play many roles throughout our lives. Some we are given while others we choose. The second and third acts of our lives are a wonderful time for self-discovery, to test out some new roles. Play is the portal to our inner child. Playtime and the resulting emotions of joy and happiness plop us firmly in the present moment. The more we play, the happier we are. Happiness has a direct impact on our health and well being. Happiness ignites our spirit. Joy reconnects us to our inner child.
On this trip, I decided that Joshua Tree would make the perfect stage to tap into all sorts of aspects hidden away for far too long. Bringing along a sequin gown and a feather boa with some sparkly heels felt a bit like Ginger on Gilligan’s Island. Poo-poo-dee-doo! Out of place but oh so fun!
It was a costume of sorts allowing me to channel my best Marilyn Monroe or transforming into a silly overdressed hitchhiker in the midst of a barren road winding through the desert. Did people drive by looking a bit perplexed? You bet! That’s half the fun. I let go of taking myself seriously long ago. If you’re going to tap into your inner child, you’re also going to have to let go of inhibitions. What young girl playing dress up is judging herself? Not this one!
Getting to know my inner child or that wild teenager tucked away has taught me a lot about myself. I’m a lot happier when I’m having fun, being silly, and not caring what anyone thinks. Reconnecting with our inner child is not only healing for the shadowy parts of our personality, it tends to dislodge aspects of ourselves we haven’t yet discovered – the gold hidden deep within. To live “wholeheartedly” means to be all in. The only way we can be all in is to embrace all of us – the good, the shadow, the joyful, the playful, the silly – and all the other parts we carry within. Trying on new hats or new roles (or boas!) in life gives us a fresh perspective. It’s like playing the warmer, colder game when we’re young. Warmer means we’re getting closer to our authentic selves – it feels joyful, freeing and expansive. Colder simply means we’re moving further away from who we truly are – it feels more restrictive and confining. As I’ve shared many times before, life is actually quite simple. It’s us humans that make it all kooky and complicated.
I hope I’ve inspired you to consider tapping into your inner child – or the inner “selves”. I’ll admit, I kept mine under lock and key for way too long. Now, I couldn’t hold her back if I wanted to. We’re having too much fun becoming reacquainted! I have a feeling there’s someone waiting for you too. There’s a little one tugging at your heartstrings trying to get your attention and ignite your spirit. Joy is the gateway. Will you join me and let your inner child roam wild and free? This world doesn’t need more rules. This world needs more rule breakers. I’m in. Are you?
What a gorgeous backdrop for a gorgeous lady! That dress is stunning and I love that you headed into the desert to showcase your most glam looks! I saw the title and thought, “Oh goody….somebody else who likes reptiles!” LOL! The feather kind is fun too, though. Your upper arms are fabulous. Do a post on your workout routine (or have I just missed that one?).
Catherine Grace O'Connell
I haven’t done a post on my workout routine. It’s actually changed over the years. I will definitely do that. Thank you for asking, sister. I love working out. I’m far more relaxed than I used to be in my younger days.
Catherine, you are truly a traveler, exploring, journaling, processing everything with beautiful rose colored glasses and beautiful prose! Your arms are as graceful as the limbs of the Joshua Tree! Thank you for taking us on this journey to the desert!
Catherine Grace O'Connell
You’re adorable. Talk about the gift of language. You are simply exquisite on every level