Your Inner Child & The Power of PLAY

leaning into your inner child and the power of play hailey gardiner allie gardiner gardiner sisters playfulness childlike wonder creativity music songwriting

What do you remember about your childhood?

My childhood was, as cliché as it might sound, magical. We lived in several different states, but I most vividly remember our years spent in Washington.

We lived in a little blue house surrounded by tall trees that I could explore and wander through. We grew up in a very loving, Christ-centered home, and were raised by wonderful parents. The older I get, the more gratitude I feel for those beautiful childhood years.

As a child, I lived in a world of fantasy and spent most of my days sitting outside, devouring books. We could spend hours in our dress-up clothes, hosting tea parties and balls, or taking care of imaginary animals (we never had any pets. Am I bitter? Pshhh. Of course not.) on our imaginary farm in our backyard. My parents encouraged us to play, and they helped us to dream. No dream was too big, and nothing felt impossible.

I’ve recently been trying to get back in touch with that innocent little girl who loved to daydream. The girl who would sing and dance and play without worrying what anyone else thought of her, or whether she’d done everything perfectly.

Lean into your inner child.

That inner child still lives within each of us, and I believe as we lean into that part of ourselves as adults, we’ll find our barriers to creativity will start breaking down.

Think of how children create.

They don’t sit at on a computer or a phone, analyzing, planning, and organizing every detail of how they’re going to make up a song or a dance or draw a picture and how they’re going to market it to the right audience and monetize it to support their family and use it to change the world.

No! They just create.

They give things a try even if they’ve never done it before. They allow art to flow out of them without judging or categorizing or comparing it. The world teaches us how to do that as we get older, and I think it ruins our creative spirits a little bit.

Children believe in themselves.

Children see things as they really are and appreciate simplicity and natural beauty.

Children PLAY!

So how can we incorporate childlike playfulness and innocence into our creative process? Let’s try these three practices:

Stay Curious.

There’s something about becoming an adult that makes you feel like you have to know everything and be the best at everything. Why?!

Don’t be a know it all. Stay curious!

Staying curious keeps you looking at the world through fresh eyes. Instead of determining that I’m not going to be good at something I’ve never done before, I have to consciously tell myself (sometimes even out loud), “I’m curious as to what would happen if I gave that a try? I don’t know yet because I’ve never done it. I might really enjoy it.”

Then I give it a go and see what happens. It’s amazing how much we limit ourselves as adults, how we try to box ourselves in and define ourselves by the things we already know. Staying curious allows us to discover new things about ourselves every day!

I was dropping my little sister, Lucy, off at a dance audition a couple months ago. I asked her how she was feeling about the audition and she said, “I’m probably not even going to make it. There are so many girls who are better than me.”

We had a great conversation about staying open, not deciding the outcome to a situation that hadn’t even happened yet, and being curious about what she was capable of. And how courageous she was to give it her best shot!

After our pep talk, she got out of the car and went to her audition. I thought long and hard about how many things I might have enjoyed in my life if I hadn’t told myself I wasn’t good enough and didn’t even bother to try. I had a long list, folks.

This year I’ve stayed curious about myself by trying new things and staying open to discovery.

Piano lessons? I’m slowly working my way through the children’s books and having a blast!

Running a half marathon? Despite my long held belief that I was not athletic, I crossed that finish line and discovered that I love to run.

Skiing? Despite watching my pride and dignity go sliding down the ski slope, I tried it! Fell on my backside more times than I can count, but hey! At least I tried it.

Teaching? I’ve learned that I love to teach.

And Lucy made the dance team, discovering that she was, after all, good enough. Stay curious. You never know what you might find out!

Take Time to Wonder.

Children are such great examples of wonder. The smallest things like bubbles, clouds in the sky, or ants crawling on the sidewalk make them stop and squeal and lean in to get a closer look.

How often do we stop and smell the roses?

Regularly take time to wonder at the beauties of the earth around us, the love that is so freely given to us by our loved ones and Heavenly Father, the incredible abilities, talents, and gifts each of us have that make the world a better place. Maintaining a sense of wonder can help us tap into our inner child and feel gratitude and awe for everything that we are blessed with.

Wonder translates into beautiful creative energy and inspiration for your music, poetry, art, or whatever you feel inspired to create.

Git Down in the Dirt and PLAY!

There is power in playfulness! The pressures of life can lead us to become so serious. We’ve got to make time to just laugh, be silly and be playful.

From the time I was in high school, I LOVED improv and making people laugh. I’ll bet people who meet me now would never guess that I was once a comic GENIUS HAHAHA. Ha. No but really, even into our adult years, my sisters and I had so much fun improvising together for our videos.

We could stay entertained for hours doing the most ridiculous things like chin puppets, becoming characters (remember Svetlana? My Russian alter-ego?), and improvising songs on the spot in our live videos and in our shows. I was able to completely be myself, especially with my sisters, and let my crazy, funny side run wild!

Nowadays, I very rarely feel safe enough to allow that funny side of myself be seen, but I’m trying to cut the serious adult-ness every once in a while and be a little CRAZY! WATCH OUT. Svetlana might be making a comeback.

Sometimes if I feel like I’m being a little too serious when I’m writing a song, I’ll start playing a random chord progression and improvise a song on the spot about whatever topic comes to mind. Sometimes the best melody and lyric ideas come when I’m just messing around and being playful! We STILL get requests for our improvised “Ice Cream Song” to be recorded and sold. That blows my mind.

We all could use a little more improv, laughter, and accents in our lives!