A Healthy Stepmother . . . takes off her shoes. (Self-soothing series #7)

First of all, let’s all take a breather. Sometimes in the journey toward self-soothing it might be useful to stop self-soothing, stop placating, stop worrying, and stop anything. Relax, take off your shoes, let your toes wiggle and sigh deeply while you sip some nice cold seltzer with lime. Nothing more refreshing, unless perhaps you toss in a couple of mint leaves or rosemary. Ahhhhh……

The last post was pretty intense. Who wants to admit they have judged the children’s mother? Who wants to admit they were trying to win over the love of a child? Who wants to declare they were trying to save the child and got lost in the drama of it all? No one. It’s hard to acknowledge even in our hearts, we don’t need to say it out loud. And that’s okay. No harm, no foul. We are human. We were trying. And, it’s not too late to let it go and turn your focus elsewhere.

I’ve mentioned before that one of the ways I’ve soothed, for decades now, is by walking. I walked all through my mother’s dying process. I walked during my grief. I’ve walked to stay conditioned and for my mental health. I’ve also walked just because it feels good. I’ve walked because I was angry and I’ve walked to soothe. And boy, oh boy, I walked a lot in the beginning of my remarriage.

This spring, I took my shoes off and walked barefoot. It felt strange and my feet were very sensitive. It hurt because I hadn’t gone barefoot since I was a child. I was getting ready for a workshop about the health benefits of being barefoot, so I stuck with it. Over the last few months, my feet have become much stronger. I walk 3 miles now without much trauma. Of course, now and then I step on a rock or tree debris and it’s not comfortable, but my feet and body are becoming good detectives and I’m more aware and nimble at avoiding the pitfalls.

The most helpful result of being barefoot is that I can calm down much, much faster. I used to head out for a walk when I was upset only to find myself stomping along. My heels struck the ground first and my whole body jolted with each step.

One day, I took the dogs out and walked barefoot and I realized that 3 blocks later I was no longer upset. My feelings were dissipating and my movements were smoothing out. In fact, I was matching the movements of my dogs, without even being aware of it. My dogs don’t stomp. They prance along, lifting their feet lightly and nimbly. That’s exactly what walking barefoot feels like.

In case you’re freaking out about the thought of sanitation and how gross being barefoot sounds, rest assured I’ve done the research. The Barefoot Book, by Dr. Daniel Howell, will give you all the details you need on the safety and health risks of being barefoot versus wearing shoes. Apparently, there are MORE microbes inside your shoes that grow nasty stuff than on the ground you might walk on. Okay, I wear my flip flops to the movie theater, but I went barefoot to my hair stylist today and no one even commented.

The beauty is that you can bare your feet and let your calm return. What a powerful connection! If you have young children, imitate them. They love to be barefoot. If you need an excuse, say that your doctor told you that in order to cure your foot problems, you need to go barefoot. You don’t need to say that you’re following a blog with 10 weeks of self-soothing tips and you’re trying to learn to keep your calm on. None of that is anyone else’s business.

Being barefoot is freeing. You will feel young again. You will move freely and your hip and low back and neck and leg discomforts will go away. And, you won’t be able to hang on to your anger.

You can’t go very far right away and if you get into this please, oh please be conservative. I started with a 5-minute walk that was very, very slow and I minced along. I worked my way up by adding a couple of blocks at a time until I could go on a longer walk with the dogs. It took me 3 months to work my way up to 3 miles and I was a regular walker before I started going barefoot.

Angry? Frustrated. Sad. Go walk barefoot . . . guaranteed, you can’t stay in that mood. You get yourself back and life goes on. I love being barefoot just for that.

I heart barefoot.

I take off my shoes.

.

Note: Maybe it isn’t practical for you to go barefoot all of the time. You can still gain a huge benefit from going barefoot around your house or in your neighborhood. You can go across the street and talk to your neighbor while barefoot. You can go get the mail in your bare feet. You can walk around the block once or twice in bare feet and let your body tell you how you need to move so it doesn’t hurt. Any small amount is enough to send some good messages to your brain, telling it that you are in contact with a solid surface.

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