I hate shoes.
Sure, there was a time when, like most females, I wanted lots of cute shoes to go with lots of cute outfits, but I could never afford the nice ones, which meant I bought the cheap ones, which often meant they were really uncomfortable and I’d wear them as little as possible. So I started buying more expensive shoes like Dansko clogs and name brand running shoes, and you know what happened? I still hated wearing them.
I love being barefoot.
When I was a young girl, I used to pretend I was a traditional Native American, hunting in our backyard. I made a bow and arrow out of some sticks and string, and I’d carefully tread barefoot in the dirt so as not to make any sound as I snuck up on my siblings. It was fun. I loved feeling connected to the earth and how quietly I could walk barefoot.
Back to hating shoes.
The last job I had I both loved and hated. One thing I loved about it was that there were was ample opportunity to get outdoors every day. One thing I hated was the dress code that required us to wear closed-toe shoes, even in the heat of summer. You may hear me complain of my cold feet in the cooler months, but in the summer time they get unbearably hot when I wear shoes. Having to wear shoes was one of the things I hated most about that job.
Hating shoes even more.
Somewhere along the line, shoes damaged my feet. In my naïveté I thought it was from wearing the wrong shoes. I didn’t realize it was from wearing shoes, period. My arches weakened, and I eventually bought that pair of Dansko clogs which gave my aching arches excellent support–only problem was, I couldn’t exercise in them. Going for a long walk in those shoes was burdensome. So I got that fancy pair of running shoes, which ironically hurt my feet so bad that I had to tape up my arches every time I went to use them. Even now, when my feet seem to be perfectly fine, if I try to go for a little hike in a pair of running shoes, my feet will hurt so fast I’ll be taking them off in the middle of an icy cold trail (true, story, I did this recently).
Back to loving barefoot.
After I became a stay-at-home-mom, I had the freedom to go barefoot most of the time. Even though I was concerned about my arches falling to the ground, this has not been the case. My feet simply do not hurt when I go barefoot (although they can get a little achy from our hard floors when I’m on my feet in the kitchen too long–in which case I will slip on my pair of Crocs for some cushioning). If I have to wear shoes, I prefer to wear flip-flops, but unfortunately it gets cold here in Oregon and I have that cold feet problem, so flip-flops just don’t work for about six or so months out of the year.
Loving barefoot even more.
Last fall I learned about how we humans are supposed to be grounded to the earth. It has to do with discharging negative energy from our body or something like that. It helps keep our body at a neutral charge, and healthier. It’s like weird science stuff, but apparently we are designed to be in contact with the earth on a regular basis. Going barefoot outside is one way to do this. I wish I could go barefoot everywhere. *Sigh*
Seeking a solution.
I need to get outside and exercise on a regular basis. Clearly running shoes are not a solution. My flip-flops are not practical for hiking or jogging. Being barefoot is often not practical, either. Somehow or another, I learned about “barefoot” or “minimalist” running shoes. While there are a number of different brands now, I looked at two of the pioneering brands: Vibrams, and an Oregon-based store where I got toddler shoes for my son, SoftStar. I was hesitant about getting Vibrams because of the individual toe pockets, which go beyond the realm of fashion faux pas into actually being somewhat socially unacceptable (yep, it’s okay to wear sandals, but people will freak out if they can see your individual toes in a pair of shoes–kinda makes you wonder how gloves have got on so well). Anyway, I don’t like getting attention for looking weird, so it was a little off-putting for that reason. But I also figured the individual toes would make them better for hiking uneven terrain and climbing rocks and such, and ensure the toes spread like they are supposed to when walking. The SoftStar shoes are more like moccasins, a more acceptable-looking type of shoe, so I considered those also. But then I thought maybe I wanted conducive-soled shoes for grounding purposes. I couldn’t decide. Hence the procrastination. Oh, and the fact that none of these shoes are great for cold, rainy weather, but what do you do?
Going for it.
I finally decided to just get the Vibrams. I don’t think they’ll help me ground to the earth or anything, but I’ll be as close to barefoot as possible without torturing the soles of my feet as I hike on chilly trails or run across gravel. Speaking of which, I just took them for their first hike today–and it felt great!