• “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple. Dr. Suess

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


BLlleeaahhkhh - I hate shoes.
I have always hated shoes.
When ever possible I am barefoot.

As I take off my shoes, some lyrics from Paul Overstreet's song "Sowin' Love" (a favorite of mine) run through my mind. "I used to love to walk behind my daddy, as he plowed our garden every spring.  My little bare feet in the dirt would make me happy, as we talked about what harvest time would bring."

I do remember walking barefoot in the dirt with stubble scratching my ankles as I ran across a field to catch a horse or lamb.  I can remember how some children cried if they had to walk on gravel - what was their problem I wondered - thistles could hurt you but gravel?? really? 

I seldom wore shoes -
except to town - mandatory -
and to church - expected/coerced ... 
but I could get away with taking them off there.
Socks had to be left on but shoes I might slip off.

My cousin,Vicky, had shiny, red patent, pointy toed slippers.  
I begged for patent shoes, even black ones. 
I promised to WEAR them!

my shoes were similar to these but mine were brown

The answer was no. I had to wear lace up boots. I had to wear shoes the doctor ordered, heavy, sturdy, lace up, high top, support-and-correct-the-ankles-and feet, leather shoes. AND they were brown!

I didn't hate Vicky - but I thought about it. I did marvel that any individual could have so much (she even got dance lessons too) and could seemingly be unaware of how special she was. 

It isn't just shoes. I love shoes and boots as a fashion accessory and wear them when I dress to go out but my feet LIKE to breathe. I sleep with them uncovered. If my feet are covered I am sick or it is extremely cold.

After a fall and subsequent lengthy rehabilitation from a severely fractured tibia and fibula I began to experience back pain. Doctors discovered one leg was 3/4" shorter than the other. I needed orthotic shoes that were built to fit me and I needed to wear them - always! 

I have tried - really I have. Pain is a great motivation (as is their huge cost) but I still often spend my days at home barefoot. There are many ways to balance the need to support my back and keep it aligned AND be barefoot. I may have tried them all.

You don't usually notice my lift but I do. This type of shoe is heavy and not very flexible but it serves its purpose. My back is not contorted and functions mostly pain free.  I can walk. I am grateful to be able to walk but I do miss skiing and many other athletic activities almost as much as light flexible runners and cute 6 inch heels, (sometimes in red patent or purple suede). 

One day at church two younger men, in very nice suits, sitting just behind me were laughing at my 'granny' shoes and mocking them. I thought about that. My feelings would have been less raw if my shoes had been foolish or extravagant! Who were they to point and mock? That was a turning point for me.  I stopped hating my own shoes. I pay more for my shoes and my comfort and mobility than those men will ever pay for shoes, or comfort, and I genuinely hope they never have to endure immobility.

My parents taught me to never be ashamed of myself - by never doing anything to be ashamed of - or if I did something foolish or embarrassing, that I should make better choices and leave the past in the past. Guilt and shame are indications that I need to make changes in my choices and if I don't need to make a change then I don't need to feel either guilt or shame. They also taught me that I can be proud of good choices. If I learn to make those good choices by being silly and then correcting that silliness I am still able to feel right about making the choice to change.

It is said that as we age we revisit our childhood.  I have become more resistant to wearing my shoes.  I have had 'lifts' built onto flip-flops and sandals and even dance shoes. I love to dance, even though doing so has had new limits since my accident. Dancing motivates me to maintain mobility more than bike riding.

And as we age, sometimes, we become more humble and teachable - we hope - and we adapt; we learn and we can even have cold feet. I realize I can decide to love wearing shoes as easily as deciding to never be ashamed of who and what I am.

Today I am working at my computer with shoes on; shoes that prevent pain; shoes that are on my feet by choice. I choose to wear them and I choose to like wearing them.


I do, at least, like the results of wearing them.

I can choose.

What can you choose?