I think about shoes a lot these days. Most of the time, I'm just trying to figure out what heels go with what dress or jacket before I march off into court. Black patent? Butter yellow? Indigo faux snakeskin? I could still just be overcompensating for the fact that I never bought a pair of spike heels until I was past forty. My first book, in fact, and the blog that started it all, was called "Running with Stilettos" and featured a pair of my spike heels on the beach.
A therapist could, I'm sure, read many layers of nuance into that paragraph and that cover image, and bill me for a year or two of sessions on the couch. Been there, done that in the past and in spurts, with "aha" moments and weepy revelations serving like knots in a rope marking fathoms for the Ancient Mariner.
I view the evolution of shoes in my closet much the same way as a shrink might. But it's a lot cheaper and far more entertaining. I see that my past still claims me since I retain a fondness for running shoes, regardless of whether I travel faster than a brisk walk these days. I still hold on to a pair of leather riding boots for the rare occasion I may find myself back on a horse.
But the sensible low-heeled pumps that passed for "dress-up" when I was a soccer mom have given way to spike heels of a much sleeker ilk. Most of my "sensible" flat shoes have been tossed. In their place stand a pair of black leather motorcycle boots, which represent an entire evolutionary chapter of their own. Then there are the lace-up brown leather work boots I wear when I'm out trimming brush with my cordless chain saw. And my snowshoes work best when I'm wearing a pair of lug-soled shearling-lined paddock boots I splurged on a few years ago. I have trod the stones of the Appian Way in Mary Jane flats with cushy, crenelated soles faintly resembling small tugboats, and argued the only case I ever lost before the state supreme court in the same stilettos that graced my first book cover.
And so in the spirit of "life's a shoe store, start shopping," I ask you to consider these…and then fill in the blanks for yourself.
When the shoe fits...
Buy it. Really, you even have to ask? Invest in your life, in your style, in your self-confidence, in your best sense of yourself. Claim that beckoning pair as an extension of you. Give yourself permission to say "this feels right." If your "inner voice" is speaking to you, then start listening to it!! If you’ve been turning a deaf ear to it before this, it's about damned time.
Wear it. Don't be a shrinking violet. Embrace the decision you've made and then build on it.
Repair it. The best things in life may be free, but that doesn't mean they don't take some maintenance. Relationships, houses, friendships, health, sanity...none of them thrive on neglect or indifference. And sometimes, when they break down, it takes just a little work to set things right again.
Outgrow it. It’s a fact of life. We don’t have to hold on to absolutely everything in order to be happy. If the baggage from the past is weighing you down and keeping you from reaching that far distant shore, set it free.
Keep looking. Just because it fits and seems comfortable at this exact moment doesn’t mean that you can’t do better…or push yourself harder.
Buy it in more than one color. When something feels sublimely, perfectly right…why restrict yourself to a narrow set of choices? Integrate what feels marvelous into every corner of your life. Quit compartmentalizing. It didn’t do Bill Clinton any good.
Discard it. It can sometimes take a really, really long time to realize that something that is so familiar to you and woven into the fabric of your life can be doing you more damage that it’s worth. That holds true for shoes, relationships, jobs, places, habits. There is no shame in finally waking up and changing your mind.
Share it. Where would we be without each other? I wouldn’t have bought that first pair of gorgeous, empowering spike heels if my daughter hadn’t been standing beside me, encouraging me to take the risk. Whether you have a pair of “magic shoes” or “magic words” at your disposal, share the joy. Share the encouragement. Share the wisdom. Share the fun. And if you have something good to say to someone, say it sooner rather than later. It can sometimes make more of a difference than either of you can imagine.
Conquer the world in it. Be brave and daring in your choices, and always put your best foot forward! Whether you’re stepping into a courtroom, a new job, a marathon, or the first day of a walking regimen to try to lose thirty pounds, turn your face to the sun and the wind and step right into it. Fortune favors the bold. And it’s never too late to figure that out and then do something about it.