bare feet (super long post, let's call it an essay. skip to the end at least)

today began as everyday begins, barefoot. today was different than every other day because i also left the house barefoot. i am usually barefoot when i am in my house, especially in the morning. i wake up, get jane ready, then eat breakfast and get myself ready. today i purposefully left shoes out of the process. the goal, to understand a bit of what it is like to live even one day without "owning" shoes. i enjoy being barefoot, or at least wearing flip flops when it is nice outside; but this was different. i don't enjoy walking in parking lots barefoot. i enjoy being at a park with the sun shining while we slack line or play ultimate frisbee in bare feet. when we leave the park, we put our shoes on. the purpose of my experience today was to raise awareness for children who have no choice but to live without shoes. this helped me see how difficult, especially in a "western" culture, it can be to not have shoes. let me recap my day for you...

as i said, i woke up barefoot. that's easy. the hard part came when i was getting ready and had to leave the house. i put jane in her car seat, grabbed my things and walked out the door. i had flip flops in my hand, in case of emergency, but not on my feet. the cement walkway was cold, it was 8:30 in the morning. 35 degrees outside. there are mud clumps on my front porch from stomping off our shoes before entering the house. there are little seed type things left over from the bird feeder that sits in the tree above the porch, and i was hoping that there wasn't anything gross like bird poop or something. all of this i saw with my eyes as i tried carefully not to step on it.

when i arrived at the garage i stepped on little gravel pieces left from when the snow on our cars melted off during the winter. i put jane in the car and off we went. the subaru is quite uncomfortable to drive without shoes. the brake and clutch pedals are designed to be cool/hip and functional so they are metal plates with little rubber nubs to keep your foot from slipping off. the nubs don't feel so great on my feet. i drove to jen's studio to look at photos of jane she took the week before. when i made the appointment i had forgotten that i wouldn't be wearing shoes that day. if it had been someone other than a friend, i would have rescheduled.

i got out of the car and stepped onto the cold asphalt in the parking lot. luckily i parked right in front of her building so i didn't have to go far. jane and i went into the building, and i immediately felt bad for getting her clean floors dirty - which she cleaned because i told her i would be coming in bare feet. anyway, when i was leaving i felt as if i had left my shoes somewhere. like i took them off to get comfortable or like you do when entering someone's home. but, turns out, i didn't. so outside into the cold i went.

i stopped at a drive thru coffee shop to pick up a mocha and thought about entering a coffee shop today. i think most of the places i visit would ask people to wear shoes for health code reasons (though i have seen a few people at grounds without shoes - and people stare at them for sure.) on to my next appointment.

yoga class. i try to attend the 10 o'clock class at gold's gym every thursday. i love yoga once a week it keeps me stretched out and helps me get stronger. lucky for me it was thursday and "one day without shoes" because i wouldn't have been able to workout otherwise. can you imagine a person on the elliptical machine in bare feet? there are signs near the weight area stating that street type clothes are not appropriate and proper footwear must be worn. anyway, lets backtrack a bit... before yoga class started. i had to get from my car to the building.

normally i park on the second level and walk up to the third level to get to the gym. there are less cars on the second level of the parking garage, and i sometimes feed jane before or after so i need some privacy. just the thought of walking in the stairwells (that sometimes smell like pee) made me shiver a bit. so i looked for the closest stall and parked. i was about 200 feet from the door. i thought once i was inside it would be fine, because i was going to yoga class after all. i saw approximately two people on the way inside, and both looked straight at my feet. i'm sure they thought, "what is that girl doing? doesn't she know it is cold and this parking lot is gross?" well, yes i do know that, but i'm thinking, "i should just tell them why i'm not wearing shoes, then it will be okay." but that might defeat the purpose of understanding what people go through without shoes. i'm sure they get weird stares all the time.

so, poor people without shoes don't have gym memberships but that is not the point. the point is to go without shoes and try to live life as you normally would. i entered the gym and a guy was taking away the mat for cleaning so i couldn't wipe my feet off. the hallway leading into the gym was wet because he had just mopped it! i felt so bad getting my dirty feet on his clean floor but i felt even worse that whatever he used to clean the floor was now on my bare feet! okay, i walked right in and checked in then dropped jane off at the nursery. no one said anything to me about my feet, but they sure looked. then, it happened, i had the urge to go to the bathroom. "oh no!" you are probably thinking, well i was too. i thought, "maybe i can just hold it until i get home." or "why didn't i use the bathroom at jen's studio?" but i knew i couldn't enjoy yoga class or maybe even make it through it, so off i went. i thought, "i see people in their bathing suits using the bathroom barefoot" like that was supposed to comfort me. i think it is gross every time i see them, how could they not bring flip flops or something? well, i did it, and it was pretty gross but i lived. i walked to my yoga class even more uncomfortable than before.

once i was safely in the doors of the room, i felt normal again. in yoga, you don't wear shoes! so everyone was like me. except my feet were much dirtier than theirs. so yoga was over and i went back to the locker room to change into normal clothes. once again i felt like telling everyone, "hey, i'm barefoot because of one day without shoes to raise awareness for children who live without shoes!" but i didn't and a few people watched as i left with different clothes on, but still no shoes.

i picked jane up from the nursery and didn't change her diaper (even though she needed it) because i would have had to go in their kid bathroom with no shoes - no thanks. i walked out of the nursery, down the hallway (which was now dry) and out into the parking lot. once again, two people gave me some good stares, but i didn't say anything. i put jane in her car seat and hopped in, i was safe inside the car.

i could have gone a few places today i'm sure, but not in bare feet. so i went home. when i arrived i once again felt the little pebbles in the garage and watched for bird poop on the porch. then jane and i were safely in our house. i wiped my feet on the rug and proceeded up the stairs. i put jane in her room, carseat and all. i then took a quick photo of my gross feet

and washed them in the sink. they were clean again and boy did that feel good.

i fed jane and put her in her crib for a nap and checked the facebook. TOMS shoes had a few posts about how their day without shoes was going. supposedly around the country, there are rally type events in bare feet of course. so there are some pictures from california where the company is located with hundreds of people standing there without shoes. i thought, "of course it's easy to go without shoes when you are on venice beach with hundreds of other people who understand why you are doing what you are doing." i made some sarcastic remarks, to myself of course. well, and you because i'm going to repeat them here, "i would be barefoot if i were at a beach too" or "i wonder if their bare feet were too hot in the sand?" but then i realized they probably drove their cars barefoot like i did and walked in a parking lot like i did. so it was still different than our everyday lives.

the rest of the day i was home. i blogged, ate lunch, did the dishes, played with jane, laundry. things like that. what i didn't do was go for a walk outside in the nice weather. play ball with bella because she sometimes loses it and i have to walk in the field to get it for her. i didn't help pete with the fence because i didn't want to get hurt or step in the mud. i didn't wear socks or slippers and my feet have been a little cold all day.

i am thankful for my shoes and i have realized that life is hard without them. i know that people need food and shelter, but clothing - especially shoes, is very important to functioning in society. if children in rural africa don't have shoes they can still play outside and help their parents plant crops. but they can't go to school because most schools have a rule that kids must wear shoes for safety - i know schools here do. if they don't go to school, how will they break the cycle of poverty? being barefoot in less fortunate areas also means that diseases can inflict you simply for not wearing shoes. there are parasites that get in through kids' feet and can debilitate them for life. in ethiopia there is a strange volcanic soil that wears at your feet and causes painful sores on the skin. it doesn't affect people with shoes.

so i want to give shoes to those who don't have them. i am not going to buy a million pairs of TOMS shoes, which is kind of what the event is set up for..."see how much it sucks to go without shoes. now buy some toms shoes and we'll give a pair for every pair you buy!" i get the marketing ploy, but i can't afford it. instead i called the ogden rescue mission and they give vouchers for people to be able to get what they need from their thrift stores for free. so i am collecting shoes (yes, pete that means you) for those who need them. they suggested that tennis shoes and work boots are the best along with kids shoes, but i don't have a lot of those. i want to collect them for the rest of april and drop them off maybe the last week of april or little by little as i get them. bring any shoes you want to donate to church or drop them off at my house or even my parents house, whatever works. if you want to skip the middle man, drop them off at the bargain store on riverdale and 40th and they'll take care of it.

wow, i don't know if you made it through the whole thing but thanks for reading my thoughts. i am definitely wearing shoes tomorrow! thank you Jesus for providing me with more than i need.


Sarah said...

I love, love, love this post. You're so awesome for doing that. I would say that I didn't do it because I completely forgot about it(which I did), but going to school(getting on the shuttle, walking across campus to class) would have freaked me out. If they have one next year I'll do it. I'll face my fear! ;)

melissa oholendt said...

THIS is what activism is all about. Proud of you - wish I could help!

Kelli said...

Amy- Great post! You are awesome! I thought about participating but unfortunatly I was working a double and the work place frowns on not wearing shoes. But even reading about your day, makes me want to help. I'll go through my shoes and my moms and see if we can't help.

micah said...

you rock amy! way to be a doer.

Meredith said...

Super long post but good. Try and limit the next one to one paragraph:) haha Just kidding