Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Shoeless and crazy in America.

Yesterday was One Day without Shoes, a TOMS company creation to bring awareness to children all over the world that do not have shoes, and all the health and safety hazards they face each day on bare feet.  You can learn more about this important day at

My girls were all up for it yesterday so I agreed to let them go to school shoeless, bringing their shoes in the backpack with them.  I was proud of them for looking outside themselves to focus on others in need.  Overall their experiences were good...although Thunder Ridge was very resistant to barefoot students.  I understand the health code issues- I honestly do.  I told the girls to be respectful to teachers and administrators, and put their shoes back on if asked.  Surprisingly, Ainsley fared the best at her elementary school, able to keep her shoes off most of the school day and share the "One Day Without Shoes" message with many.  

But let's face it...going shoeless for one day is a smallish thing.

Or is it?

I decided to go shoeless too yesterday...wanting my girls to see they do not give or sacrifice alone...this is a family and we do things together.  I didn't ask Ron to be involved simply because he has been swamped and stressed at work.  Doubt he could do field tests without his boots either.  I digress.  I was barefoot most of yesterday and learned a lot. Sadly my observations were not as  focused on barefoot children as they were on myself and our society. 

Observation 1- No one notices what is on your feet until there is nothing on your feet.  Then every person on the planet notices your feet.

Observation 2- Apparently only mad crazy mentally unstable people walk around barefoot in America in public.  At least that is how everyone reacted to me.

I was completely unprepared for how prideful I really am.   Ouch.

But let's do a quick poll- Raise your hand if you would head to the grocery store right now without shoes on?  Completely barefoot. Would you?   Some of you might be up for it, but I know others are saying Are you insane? 

I started out small early in the day...taking a forgotten lunch box to Ains at her school.  Okay, not a big deal- Walk into the building, transverse the three steps to the attendance desk and state my request.  The attendance office is a big window so no one can see my feet anyway.  When I got out of the van and put my left foot down on the pavement I actually felt the uneven pebbly.  I made it to the door, pep talking myself along the way, really trying to be light carefree.  Or dedicated purposeful. 

But honestly

I felt naked.  Who knew missing shoes could make one feel like they'd left their pants at home?

Things didn't go quite as planned inside the school.  The office called for Ains to come down to get her lunchbox so I had to wait in the chairs...the ones positioned just far enough from the attendance window for one's feet to be in full view of whomever might be in the office.

I tried fiddling, reading things on the wall...I left my phone in the car...curses Why did I do that??? couldn't even aimlessly browse Facebook or figure out better ways at losing on Words with Friends.  I was tempted to walk over to the Music Room door and stare at the orchestra sign-up posters but that would involve walking...drawing attention to my bare I stayed put.  The principal came out of her office and scowled at my feet.  Or maybe that was my overactive imagination.

Four hours later when Ainsley showed up to collect her lunch box...or it could have been four minutes...I had broken out in a sweat.

I hugged her and hightailed it out of there.

Now I know what you are thinking right now because I was too.

If this was such a stressful experience for me then why in the world was I doing it?  And what exactly is the big deal with walking around barefoot?

Well I generally like to fit in not stand out. As a writer and a female, I want my personality to be what shines more than anything else.

Having bare feet be the reason I'm standing out?? 


That's just me. 

As for my second question above...what's the big deal?  If you are asking that one you have clearly never gone into public barefoot.  I refer back to my poll.   

After arguing with myself and my stupid pride for five minutes sitting in the Wal-Mart parking lot I got out slammed the door and walked into the store.

With my shoes on.  Feeling like a loser quitter. Are you disappointed in me too?  Yes that is acceptable.

But then something interesting happened...

My boldness grew and my fears lessened with each step, and back in the milk section I ripped those flip flops off my feet and stuffed them in my bag.  I felt free.  I felt good.  I felt...

Naked again.

But I was determined this time.  I was gonna talk to people...I am good at that...and tell them about the important reason I was barefoot.

What I wasn't prepared for were the looks people gave me.

Fear pity anger disgust.  Like I was absolutely bat dung crazy.  Every single person I passed on that unusually busy Tuesday morning noticed my feet.  And all of them almost ran from me.

I was prepared to be approached by an employee or manager asking me to put on shoes.  That didn't actually happen. 

But I wasn't prepared to be the crazy woman.

I didn't dialogue with anyone except for the cashier and she basically told me I was stupid for not wearing shoes in public, regardless of the cause.

Such a...

crappy experience.  Just honest.

I learned I am more prideful than I realized.  Sometimes it is important to stand out make waves be the different one.  I fear that.

I also learned how much society views those differences as negative scary unapproachable.

Further I learned going barefoot is truly frightening from a health perspective...what in the world was I stepping on?  In this country we have fairly sanitary surfaces that we encounter each day.  I couldn't fathom being a child and having to walk barefoot over rocks dirt glass rotting sewage...horrific.

Bottom line- Days like yesterday help all sheltered me to sincerely grasp what others around the world face on a daily basis.  In a way I can't conjure in my mind unless I actually take my shoes off.

The takeaway- It was uncomfortable.  I am glad it was.  I wish I would have been bolder.  I am glad I did it. And I am so incredibly proud of my three girls.

Next year we will make and wear t-shirts too.   


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Notions on Love, Hunger Games style.

 I promised at least one more writing about The Hunger Games, yes?

I have seen the movie twice now and loved it more the second time.  Can't wait to see it a few more times...hope it parks at the Elvis for a good long while. 

But, one thing I did not care for in the movie version was the light and vague treatment of Katniss and Peeta's deep connection before The Reaping. It's only a moment- in the rain- but it means everything to the story. 

This is what truly happened, from the book source, Katniss speaking:

"When I met Peeta, I was eleven years old, and I was almost dead." I talk about that awful day when I tried to sell the baby clothes in the rain, how Peeta's mother chased me from the bakery door, and how he took a beating to bring me the loaves of bread that saved our lives. "We had never even spoken.  The first time I ever talked to Peeta was on the train to the games."

Katniss often refers to Peeta as "the boy with the bread".  That is her endearment of him when all other confusing terms conveying her feelings for him fail her..."the boy with the bread".  But that says it all to us, doesn't it?  That phrase sums up his deep connection with Katniss' soul...he sacrificed himself to save her.  And he does it again and again.  Because he loves her. 

I keep being reminded of this:

"Greater love has no man than this, that he would lay down his life for another."

I feel I am not learning this lesson and that's why I continue to see it everywhere.  Real and lasting affection means placing one's own selfish wants needs desires below the Beloved's.  It means sacrificing self to bring joy and peace to the one you love more than yourself.  And that's really the key isn't it...loving someone more than we love self.  It's easy to love our children this way, but it's a harder thing to be give all our power hopes dreams future...over to another adult human being, isn't it?

We usually get a different perspective on love from media.  Pop culture tells us to please self, to end relationships where we aren't getting what we deserve...I have used that phrase before too.  Ouch.

But the lasting stories, the ones that won't leave our minds, are love stories based in sacrifice. Katniss and Peeta, Jack and Rose in Titanic, Colonel Brandon and Marianne in Sense and Sensibility, Aragorn and Arwen in Lord of the Rings, Rochester and Jane in Jane Eyre, Brad and Paradise in The Bride probably didn't recognize that last one but it's okay, these are just some of my favorites.  I am sure you have plenty of your own.  Although usually in these stories, there isn't equal person loves and sacrifices more than the other.  This is true in life also, yes?  It is rare to find two people in a committed loving relationship who sacrifice takes deep connection and maturity.

Truth- I love the character of Peeta.  He's so good.  If we are honest, we realize Katniss doesn't really deserve the deep and sacrificial love he has for her.  Don't misunderstand me, she is a noble female hero.  But she is selfish with her love too.  She withholds, out of fear.  And she can't figure out what to do with Peeta's love or how to reciprocate, other than feeling she is amassing an emotional debt she can never repay.

Truth- Sometimes you have to just to accept it.  Treasure it for all it is...a gift of another's heart you can never be worthy of.  Then endeavor to give your own heart in return. 

Still pondering love.  And adore that boy with the bread.


Monday, April 2, 2012


There is a thought scraping around inside me this morning.  It is the notion of being uncomfortable.
   I witnessed something peaceful and beautiful yesterday...people being broken real uncomfortable.  The new church we are attending just had their teaching pastor resign. He was a kind man who did more than teach, he connected with people, visited the hurting and had Bible studies in great little coffee shops.  He was loved.  His resignation has been a month long process in which he continued preaching, visiting and doing the nifty Bible Study.  But the people at our church are hurting over his leaving.

So the elders of the church did something new...they didn't just plaster happy smiles on their faces and demand the congregation soldier on. They set aside yesterday morning for prayer and worship and the coolest part- an open mike at the front of the auditorium for people to come and share whatever they wished...a word, some scripture, their brokenness, or maybe some encouragement.  About twenty people shared- some made us smile or nod our heads in agreement, others made us cry resonating their pain in our own hearts. My Onnie even shared...she is terrified of speaking in public but she marched right up visibly shaking and said- "I don't like speaking in public, so I am gonna let God's word speak for me".  Then she read verses out of James.  It was beautiful and I was proud. 

Ron Martin, a respected and wise leader in the church, brought up the uncomfortable bit...the part I can't get out of my mind.  Here are my thoughts on it:

Being uncomfortable isn't fun.  It certainly isn't what we would choose for ourselves...we would surround ourselves with endless security and a static environment if we could, yes?  But there's no growth in that. No chance for God to reshape our insides, molding melting erasing all that keeps us from being all He has created us to be.  Hint:  All He has for us is beyond the greatest we can even fathom for ourselves...He made us, every detail of our being, all creative unique...and He knows exactly what will fulfill and satisfy our deepest needs and desires.

As you know if you've been reading my blog more than a week, I do not like change. Sometimes I enjoy the chaos of change...all adrenaline pushing me toward a goal...but the actual change...newness different unknown...of change, terrifies me. I suppose that's because I've lived long enough to know change doesn't always work out for the better immediately.  It usually does in the end but it's all the painful in between which freezes me solid. 

But what if we could chance being uncomfortable for a season?  What would we gain?  I believe we would gain wisdom insight clarity strength and patience. Being open and available to all we have dreamed but never chanced to hope might come true.  Hmm.

What if?