inviting space

I crave open space. Not just in a physical sense but also within the realms of mental and emotional breaks and gaps...wide open space. It heals me, it gives me room to simply breathe and it takes me into greater understanding of my relationship with self.
The family I was born into knows this of me. They know my need for space in many forms and they often do their best to accommodate that need of mine. They don't push and prod, they often extend spaciousness. In that spaciousness is where I know I can thrive, through making my own decisions and mistakes. This is one thing I really hope to extend to my own children....space. Space without trips of guilt, without passive aggressive prodding, without manipulation of any sort. Just space. To be...to live as I choose.
Whenever I feel that there are demands being placed upon me or my world involving motherhood, I start feeling the walls close in. It doesn't matter if it is in the form of culture or individual not-so-spacious requests placed upon our time and rhythm. It doesn't matter if they are big or small. Sometimes I just start feeling a tad claustrophobic. This is when it is most important to invite space in. Sometimes that just means listening to my heart...saying no...taking off...creating space. Often it comes in the form of finding some physical expansiveness within the tightness of a city and the fast paced culture that our society loves to love.
Doing this somehow ignites breath and I find myself inhaling and exhaling...as if I knew how to do it all along. When I can grab moments with my children where they are free to roam and "be", I see these moments where my own awareness is mirrored in their natural play. Freedom. Exploration without judgement. No one to fit in but their own longings and adventure. Totally and amazingly grounded in confident awareness.
I get fueled through this exchange. As a mother, I can breathe easy knowing my kids have plenty of room to run. I feel my shoulders fall and my mind expand and I know that this is good.
Yesterday we had the chance to meet up with Grandpa GG at a big, long, grassy park to feed the ducks and geese.
It was blissful and energetic, beautiful and simple...and spacious.
Unstructured. That is how we tend to roll and that is how we stay sane.
In effort to invite more of this freedom into our play, I have been led to many resources and encouragement. Because, in truth, at times it takes effort to create opportunity for this freedom to feel invited in such a world as ours. I want to share something that has been brought into my attention and world.
I'm posting some information about a local screening of an important documentary (Where do the Children Play?) that touches on the subject of children and natural, unstructured, creative play. Lovely words, aren't they.
If you are a local who is interested in viewing this screening...please contact me for any information you may need.
"Where Do the Children Play? grew out of Elizabeth Goodenough’s work on “secret spaces of childhood” at the University of Michigan. The film was written and directed by Christopher Cook and produced by Michigan Television. “Children need free time every day to discover their own abilities, desires, and limitations,” says Goodenough, who also edited the film’s accompanying study guide. “Open-ended exploration and play in woods, fields, vacant lots, or other semi-wild spaces enhances curiosity and confidence throughout life.” A marked decline in children’s spontaneous and creative play is a key factor in their increasing mental health problems, according to a recent statement from an international group of educators and children’s advocates. They called for “a wide-ranging and informed public dialogue about the intrinsic nature and value of play in children’s healthy development.” Their letter echoed a recent warning from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP): children have far too little time for unstructured play, which leads to increased stress in their lives. Causes of the demise of play cited by the group include parental fears of “stranger danger” and the explosion of electronic entertainment—to the point of addiction for some—in the lives of today’s children. These and other issues are explored in the film. The lead author of the AAP report, Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, appears in the documentary, along with Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, British “playworker” Penny Wilson, and other experts in child development, psychology, and urban planning."
***First viewing is scheduled for this coming Sunday. It should be a wonderful web of words and information...and I anticipate it provoking great thought and conversation!***
And a few places you can visit for more info:


Vonda said...

Love the pictures!! When I was a child...there was so much freedom to roam and explore!

Nonnie said...

looks like you all had a wonderful spacious time to simply be.

i read your email, sass...and i would love to see this.

i agree with what is being said. when i was growing up, i can remember being gone from early morning to supper time....just playing, and i think you girls, for the most part, had time to roam, explore and play...but now there is so much fear and playtime has become electronic! all the media players, MP3 players, iPods...i see kids together not even conversing, each obsorbed in his/her own toy.....i remember a quote you shared from Richard Louv's book "Last Child in the Woods- Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder".

"One little boy said the reason he preferred playing indoors was that's where all the electrical outlets are."

so sad....thanks for the info on this....and i hope you continue to give your children space and freedom to roam, explore, experience and to just be.
you've certainly begun the journey with them amazingly....

Sara said...

Love, love, love the pictures, the one of the birds flying and your big man on the ground is just fantastic.

And I can't echo enough the need to get out and play and explore and have kids use their own imaginations...

latisha said...

id love to see this. one of the reasons we are looking into, only looking so far, but looking at unschooling. i read recently that the average elementry student has up to 10 hours a week of homework outside the classroom. really, when do they play? i cant find where it is though...

Anonymous said...

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Jme said...

This reminds me of one of my favorite Dixie Chicks songs "wide open spaces...room to make a big mistake....i want to touch the earth, I want to break it in my hands, i want to grow something wild and unruly. i want to look at a horizon and not see a building standing tall..." Maybe not all in that order but those were the lyrics that most often stand out to me. :) I love singing this song at the top of my voise. I've learned that I'm a space person too (no, not an alien!) All my co-workers and my hubby know about this personal space issue with me. :)I also feel most free when I can spread my arms out and spin around without risk of bumping into something. That's why I fell so in love with my "happiness" willow angel. She's standing tall, arms outstretched, head up with a little birdie on her shoulder. :) I want to do everything I can so that my children can grow up with some of this freedom and less of the "busy".
Thanks for sharing...

Karen said...

I love your post and definitely agree with the truth in your words. I experience this same claustrophic sense for the same reasons. We do need space and quiet and time to just be. I think the unstructured times I share with my kids are the most fun and meaningful. Thanks so much for reminding me.

Alyson said...

I really hope I can make it to one of the screenings. If not, I will get the DVD for sure. It was so good to see you guys last night! If you get a chance, call me this week and let me know if you got to see the film!

S. Barnes said...

oh Jessamyn, I so entirely understand you and your need for space. perhaps there are some that don't need much. but i'm not one of them. and i find solace in your articulation of the need. air. space. even thinking about it sets me more at ease. as always, it is a pleasure to know you better through this crazy, beautiful cyber SPACE. :)

daisies said...

love love the photos :)

i think that we are lucky over here in that there is so much natural parkspace and my son always had so much room to roam about :)

beautiful you, xo

moonboots said...

This is why you and I were destined to be friends.... my only successful relationships are the ones that are so low maintenance that months can pass and neither of us notices or minds :) So low pressure, so chill, so you.

I'm so into this as well. I'm completely against pushing my children into becoming "gifted" readers etc... I don't want Jackson to read by age 3 and know fractions by 4, I just want them to play, and dress up, and paint, and stir stuff, and be. Finn and I went on the most amazing walk in the rain the other day and it felt so much better to be free in the world than to be the best kid in preschool.

My mom teaches 1st grade and she talks about how they have to work so hard to prepare for the testing that's done they don't even have time for a play anymore - heartbreaking and wrong.

Anonymous said...

i spent so much time at that park when i live in AZ. i wonder if we walked by eachother, smiled and after we passed wished we had introduced ourselves to eachother?


lovely post.