The Right Shoes

Hello from Arizona,

It’s sad but true: men just don’t get it. Women need shoes. When we take a two day trip, we need at least three pair of shoes to make sure we’re covered—“these boots are made for walking,†and all that jazz.

Most women have a sizzling love affair with shoes. We love them for how they look, how they make us look and for how they make us feel. To illustrate my point, here’s my best shoe story, taken from my book Rock Solid Confidence: Presenting Yourself with Assurance, Poise and Power:

I’d been looking for that trendy shoe; a cross between sandal and boot. I found a wonderful pair, but the heels were stilettos—much taller than my usual. The sales person, Tom, persuaded me to try them on anyway. So I did. Despite the fact that I felt like I was standing on my tippy toes, this new height gave me the ability to look straight into Tom’s eyes. I realized I was instantly, lushly tall. He saw the gleam in my eyes and suggested that I “walk in them for a while.†So I did, and I fell in love with my new height, despite the fact that my right foot was beginning to hurt.

After much self-debate, I decided to get them. After all, they were on sale and (compelling reason #2), if I didn’t like them, I could give them to my niece Monica, who wears the same size. Never mind she’s already 5’11†and why would she want my leftover shoes? I made my decision and when I took them off I barely noticed that my left ankle was sore, and I had to take twelve steps or so before the kinks in each step disappeared. So I got the magic shoes and kept them until the spell was broken—thirty minutes later. My better judgment told me to take them back before I hurt myself. What was I thinking?

I’ll tell you what I was thinking. I was thinking that it would be nice to have long legs to match my long feet. I was thinking that I could instantly seem thinner and maybe even younger. There was a lot of thinking going on.

Mrs. Eugene McCarthy, politician’s wife, once said, “I am who I am, I look the way I look and I am my age.†To that, I must add, “And I am just as tall as I am, so get over it!†This is an example where the wish to be more, the fear of not being enough, and the hope of being perfect overshadowed the mastery of self-acceptance.

Since that time, I look at shoes differently. I care less about what others think and more about how they partner with me to get me where I want to go—a tool of sorts—to ground and protect me. I’m no longer a slave to all the latest trends—if they don’t fit my lifestyle, budget and taste, I’m not interested.

We like resilient shoes that protect me from harm when we climb on rocks. Burnt-orange slides bring a pop of color to basic black outfits, reminding us that we’re unique individuals; and then, there are the normal collection of sandals, pumps and boots—made for walking.

We’ll always love our shoes, and men will never get it. It’s not the end of the world as long as we’re clear about our relationship our shoes and thank them for their foundational support. Where will your shoes take you today?


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