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.
My father passed away last night peacefully and on his own terms. He was 89 and had lived a rich, full life. He volunteered almost to a fault, always willing to lend a hand to someone in need. He trained people to excel in their career and worked hard to provide for his family. Most importantly he raised three children to be self-reliant, well-rounded and successful adults.
His generation had survived difficult times and they had learned to not give up. Keep moving forward until you overcome the obstacle in your path. He never told us which direction to go or how to fix it once we got there; he just stayed close by, holding our hand until we figured it out for ourselves. I remember when I was young I had asked my father to scratch my back, he told me to go rub against the corner of the wall. I was hurt that he would not help me—until one day twenty years later and living alone, my back began to itch. As I rubbed against the corner, I realized how much my father had taught me about self-reliance. A simple lesson that would last a lifetime.
My father was proud of my new success as an author. His pride was not in my accomplishments, but in the fact that I was determined to make my dreams a reality no matter how slippery the slope. I try every day to pass that message along to my son.
I am fortunate to have the love and support of many people during this difficult time, but ultimately we travel down our path alone. The others are standing by the side of the road, cheering us on, lending support or just smiling as we pass by—some will even travel with us at times, but in the end, we must make the choice to live our lives as we wish and we must be prepared to do it alone if necessary.
We sat by his bedside yesterday watching him fade but it wasn’t until we left the hospital that he passed away; alone and on his own terms. Like a steadfast rock in a moving stream, the water wears away bits of stone washing it downstream until they become part of the great big ocean and gain new purpose. I do not know what his new purpose will be in this wide open universe, but I do know, he has already volunteered to do whatever is necessary to make it happen. I will miss him every day. They say you do not truly become an adult until you lose a parent, I don’t know if I will ever grow up, but I do know that even if I do , I will always be Daddy’s little girl.