What’s Your Best Shoe Story?

I love to hear shoe stories.  It’s my favorite workshop question because everyone—EVERYONE—has at least one good shoe story to tell that makes them laugh, shake their head and remember a tucked away day from the past. Our shoes are more than a fashion statement. They take us “…where we want to go and how we want to go,†to repurpose a John O’Donohue quote. 

Being human, we etch stories into our memories that have long been forgotten. But we remember the shoes, and once we do, a wake follows. Memories reveal the type of journey we’ve been living—in other words, the shoe might not even be the main point or lesson of the story.

I spent a few hours one day focused on my own life, and I came up with four shoe stories for each of the three chapters of my life.  Just for fun, try it. Write down a description of any specific shoes you remember wearing—just three or four words will jog your memory. Next, list them in chronological order. Then reflect on what ELSE the memory is about. Let me give you a quick example:

When I was about 20, Diane, who lived on a nearby farm, and I drove to Decorah—for us, a big town. We spent the day browsing through all the stores and got excited when we saw the shoe store. In those days, shoes were pretty basic, but the minute we stepped into the store, a silver pair of sandals, adorned with a row of four sparkly rhinestones on a chunky heel caught our imagination. We looked at each other and knew that wearing them would make us feel like queens.

Just then, the clerk burst our bubble by “indicating†that those shoes were far too expensive for either of us to buy. How dare she think that! Lucky for us, we both wore the same size, and long story short, we pooled our money, bought the shoes, and for the next few years, took turns being flashy. 

Even though the subject of the story is shoes, it’s really a story about a variety of memories. Like other stories, it can be added to a life story, used as a past experience for a job interview, or to make a point in a speech.  This particular story is also about:

          • the close friendship I had with Diane
          • what it felt like to be a young woman
          • ways to be resourceful
          • making a decision out of spite 
          • looking to others for approval
          • not wanting to be considered poor country girls 
          • the hope that happiness comes with fashionable shoes  (temporarily it can!)
          • others you may see here that I’ve missed

  When I examined all 12 of my shoe stories, I discovered patterns and themes: four included men, two were fashion centered, two mentioned influential fairytales, two were journeys, and two involved girlfriends. Yes, the simplest memories are a microcosm of a life, just as a bucket of ocean water is a part of the ocean.

If telling and writing stories interest you, contact me to host your own Perfect AgeTM Story Party or come to our next workshop to discovery the fun of sharing stories for yourself. My method gives you a place to begin, and simplifies the process.

My email is: [email protected] or sign up for my monthly newsletter of events at: www.whalenvoices.com —right column of the blog page. 

Jan Whalen   Whalen Voices LLC 623.466.5067   www.whalenvoices.com   [email protected] 

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