I don’t actually have a shoe fetish, although I do believe the right footwear can enhance a sexual experience. I would say it is more of an obsession. The right style, color and fit to match the occasion. Truth be told, I might have a problem with the outfits as well, but that’s another story. Fortunately, I have a small but wide foot, so it is not too easy to find shoes that fit. I would often have to decide whether to squeeze into something too narrow or go bigger than I should and slip with each step. I have done both and found that neither choice works for long. Like life, finding a perfect fit is rare, but blissful when it finally happens.
My new adventure required careful packing. Luggage restrictions became the bane of my existence, but how could I possibly wind through the alleys of Paris without the perfect pumps or stroll the cobbled streets of Spain without leather sandals? Would London be quite right without the click of high heeled knee boots on the sidewalk? Wouldn't the perfect look make for a better memory? I do know how fortunate I am not only to be able to travel, but to also have shoes on my feet. I had time to spend with friends and family before I left. Some were truly happy, a few jealous--even bitter, and there were the silent tsk-tsks from those that just did not understand. But did they know how many miles I had walked to reach this place? Were they aware of the difficult choices I had made and still make every day? Could they possibly understand my choices without walking in my shoes?
I have always been a walker. Some days round and round the track, other days a journey to a new place, but always happy to be walking; clearing my head, thinking up new ideas, letting go of old thoughts and worries. The sense of peace, the joy of moving forward, and the familiar comfort of solid well-fitted trainers, sure and steady on the pavement.
It was not until recently I had to purchase my first pair of hiking boots. I may be a walker but not the outdoors hiking type, and although they suited the occasion, they didn't seem quite my style. I balked at the thought. I’d made it through half my life without them. I was irritated they were required to traverse a new bridge I had not been entirely prepared to cross. My journey had put an obstacle on my path and I found myself in a place where the terrain was steep and slippery. The path was unfamiliar and the fear of what lay around the corner more of an adrenalin rush than what I was accustomed to. I laced up the boots- a perfect fit-I took a step and then another. Soon I realised I had nothing to fear; I was walking just like I do every day. If I could keep putting one foot in front of the other, I would be okay. I used to say the problem with keeping your head down and moving forward is that sometimes you look up and wonder ‘how the hell did I get here?’ That may be true, but sometimes you look up and find that you are exactly where you are meant to be and all the planning and worrying would not have changed a thing.
Sometimes it takes a complication to push us beyond our limits and realize that what we have always thought, or perhaps never could have imagined is not right or wrong, but just is. Putting a name on a complication can make the odds seem insurmountable, but when we look at it as just another mountain to climb or bridge to cross, rather than the Chesapeake Bay or Mt. Everest, it makes it easier to take that first step. I am glad I bought those boots. They were appropriate for the occasion; they not only kept me warm and dry and got me safely where I needed to be, but they taught me that every experience is an opportunity to move forward. They helped me climb higher and go farther than I thought I could. It is true; “Life is a journey not a destination,” and my journey is just that-mine. Like my hiking boots a perfect fit for me, but certainly not for everyone. Try them on if you’d like, they’re sitting by the front door ready for a new adventure. You may catch a glimpse of what I see or have an inkling of what I feel. You may like it or perhaps not so, better to go out and find a pair that fits you and your journey, all it takes is one step.
Believing in the fairytale is not always easy. It requires patience, courage, faith--and a bit of whimsy. Some might say that a fantasy is just that—something that is not real, so why put too much stock in it, yet, if we do not believe in our dreams how will we ever make them come true?
On a recent trip to Wales, I had the opportunity to visit my first fairytale castle. Like a little girl, I was bubbling with anticipation to experience the fantasy of it all. Although castles were originally built to help prevent the reality of war and death, there is still something magical about they way they stand so proudly, protecting the humanity that lies within.
Castle Coch; the Red Castle, however, was built as pure folly. The Marquis of Bute, had not only the means, but also the inclination to make his fairytale a reality. Built high on a hill, the miniature version of a great castle served as a place to get away from it all. A place to take family and friends for a long weekend. A place where he could from time to time, escape reality and live his dream. Complete with cold stone hallways, twisted slippery stairways, slits to watch for the enemy, a working drawbridge and a very special dungeon room;-) it was designed true to form. Inside however, the castle is decorated with luxurious silks, carpets and furniture from the Victorian era. The best of both worlds, he blended his reality and fantasy ignoring the possible ridicule from the world around him.
Many writers of romance grew up reading about knights in shining armour sweeping them away to better world, a world where love would protect them from the conflicts of reality. It is easy to see why this was a common theme, if we had lived in the time of Knights and castle invasions, I am not sure we would have found it very romantic though. The reality was that many knights were away for long periods of time. Their lover’s waited, hoping, often in vain, their hero would return for just one more kiss.
Like the Marquis, I live the dream, but keep the conflict close as a reminder. Reality will creep in making it difficult to believe at times, but it reminds us to appreciate the incredible joy and bliss that is woven through the clouds of doubt and fear. A reminder that sometimes, the real fairytale is not about everything being the way you dreamed it would be, but about realizing that it is as it should be and that is, by far better. Our dreams are a catalyst that move us forward and often our journey takes us to places we had never imagined, but as long as we believe, the road will always lead us to where we need to be.