Invest In Your Feet

568. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

If you don’t count the time I sobbed in a restaurant with Linda Margules, my first public meltdown happened in a shoe store. Shoes have always been problematic for me; I’d rather not wear them at all. I feel as though I am suffocating when I wear shoes. Seriously. I’ve learned to wear clogs and boots sometimes work, too. The key is removability. If I can kick them off in a moment or less, I can wear them. I was always in trouble as a kid because I wore holes in my socks almost immediately.

My meltdown happened at the dawn of my work in corporate America. My friends and loved ones felt that I should, at long last, own some “grown up” clothes. Lora took me shopping and she and Smokey Sally helped me find a few suits. I even bought a tie (confession: I wore the tie once because I felt I had to since I bought it but once it was no longer around my neck I conveniently lost it. Ties are like shoes…). And, since I now had suits, I needed a pair of lace-up shoes.

I knew I was in trouble the moment I entered the store. The place was stuffy and smelled of leather and polish. I couldn’t breathe. The panic was almost immediate though I was able to suppress it until I went down an aisle. I was surrounded by lace up shoes. Lora was talking to me, showing me shoes that she liked but I could no longer understand verbal communication; it was as if her sound track was too slow for the words to take shape. My temples started pounding and I couldn’t make decisions. I kept looking at shoes and all I could see were torture devices, tight prisons, concrete. I know my eyes were darting about, looking for escape because I could see the concern descend on Lora’s face. I think she was asking me what was wrong. I fled. I don’t know if I knocked over other customers or leaped over stacks of shoes; I have no memory of my exit. The next thing I knew I was standing in the street, hyperventilating.

Apparently my identity is invested in my feet. The best advice anyone ever gave me came from a financial advisor. I showed up to work with his team and I was wearing one of my new suits (and clogs). As we left the building at the end of the day he made an observation. He said, “Your clothes can’t mask who you are. You are an artist. You are an unmade bed. That’s why we wanted you. Why don’t you drop the suit and show up as you really are, not as you think we want you to be.” Great advice. I sighed a huge sigh of relief. No shoes necessary.

2 Responses

  1. I sat in on a co-hort at which you presented in Hastings, NE…I am so HAPPY to have discovered your Blog…it speaks to me every day and I have been reading like a mad woman trying to catch up on past posts…at last I must comment…”your clothes can’t hide who you are” is worthy of a sign on my wall…I get the “no shoes, please” feeling…thanks for writing as you do. -Marilyn at Doniphan, NE

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