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Lessons From a Shoe Rack

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I'm hopelessly overweight. Yep. And there's a little something awful and scary about saying it. I mean, it's not like I was fooling anyone. It's not like people look at me and see the "fat" person I was in college (oh, to be that "fat" again . . .) No, the denial is really mine to own. And so, my goal is to do better. To be better. I'm trying to eat better. I'm trying to walk more. Shoes are tricky to find when you're the size I am. Shoes don't seem to enjoy the extra demands my body asks of them. They get cranky. Fast. And so, I'm constantly on the lookout for that perfect pair of shoes to walk in. And in that search, I've found oh, so many. Some, I've tried; others intimidate me a bit too much. To name a few:

I see these shoes online all the time. They cry out to me. They are advertised so very well by groups of people who are trying to bring awareness of these shoes to those of us who sleep in beds, who take showers, who eat. They also sneak into the grocery store where I buy my kids' latest "need" that may or may not get eaten before the expiration date. They pace, pausing to do quick math. Then pace some more, searching for the right answer to that equation to balance out what little is in their pockets. These shoes sometimes have a slight hint of a pair that was once in style, once beautiful but now is worn down and defeated.

Rule Breaker
Edgy. Trying to make a statement. Stand out. Get away from what everyone expects. Make mistakes. These shoes are sharp, spiked, jagged. They have ripped through things, have torn perfectly good things apart. These shoes look ready for the trash. They're so sharp that all they're going to do is hurt more things, do more damage. But what if the spikes could be used for something productive? Find a way to make those sharp edges constructive and helpful? Yes, these shoes look like throwaways, but the may not be quite ready for the dumpster just yet.

And I don't mean physically. Though, that can play in quite a bit with this one. I'm talking about those shoes that slide so easily onto people who get up each day when the mere thought of doing so is Mt. Everest. Who make lunches, who put on uniforms, who clean up vomit, who change diapers of all sizes. I'm talking about the people who, day in and day out, do. Who DO because it's the only choice. Those people who are getting through each day despite the voices in blogs or comment sections or protest signs. These are shoes I have tried on occasion. They are tough. They work hard. They go so well with messy hair and shirts stained with baby food. Or coffee. Or last week's sub-par Pinterest project. These shoes were always slightly too something: too tight, too big, too much, too little. They may not come out of the closet every day, but they're always in there, waiting for an opportunity to make an appearance, watching sleepless hours tick by on a clock, listening for cries and worries, longing for a fridge to go out or a long-lasting stomach virus.

This is the pair of shoes that is there for me no matter what. Through thick and th - umm, scratch that. This pair looks frumpy. They're pretty ugly, quite frankly. I never get compliments on these shoes. Unless. Unless I am somewhere I can show people the insides. Oh, those insides. They are something else. They're whimsical. And funny. And poignant. And a little ridiculous. They make people smile. The insides make people smile. Sometimes, I think that if I get rid of these shoes, I'll never find another pair that has such a fabulous inside. Scares me a little, the hold those shoes have on me, despite the sheer weight of them. And yet, they know their way to a Chinese buffet and the closest parking space any day.

These shoes are held together with some duct tape and a bit of craft glue. I've seen them in the schools, in my neighborhood, in a touching story online. They just can't seem to keep up the pace of the other shoes. They can't always get me to where they want to be. Usually give out shy of the goal. They seem to need more tape, more glue at every turn. Can't seem to get a time of just being in good condition. And tape and glue cost money, so those shoes really put a strain on the bank account. Not much upgrading to be done there since all the time and energy are being spent on the taping and the gluing. Definitely more tape and glue than the rest of us need.

We all have this pair. We're not sure when we even got them. They just showed up. They've kind of always been there. They don't really go with anything. They don't really even fit that well. They're a color that wasn't even really a thing when it was supposed to be a thing. But they seem to find a way to nestle in just well enough that they never quite make the cut to come out. Those shoes don't belong. They break fashion rules. But by golly, they are reliable. What they lose in style, they make up for in function, despite continuously being overlooked for the pretty ones. And if they do make it out, we remember how comfortable they are, how good our feet feel with them. But because they didn't go with today's leggings, we can't wear them out. Just in the house. Just where no one else will see them.

Shoe shopping has taught me how to walk. And my stubbornness has taught me how to forget. If you see me in shoes that are just a little too perfect, remind me of those that deserve a little walking time. And ask yourself, what shoes do you need to put on today to walk yourself to a better you?

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