Ridiculous Shoes

Gathering dust.

I’m addicted to shoe shopping. 

The shoes in my wardrobe fall into two categories: the Beautiful and the Comfortable. The Beautiful ones stand around gathering dust. The comfortable ones only exit my life due to structural collapse.

This is the case because I have Problem Feet. They are long, flat, strangely shaped (the technical term is ‘accessory navicular’), and they usually hurt. 

So I have an ongoing fantasy that the Right Pair Of Shoes will make my feet 1) smaller, 2) beautiful, and 3) pain-free.

This week I was forced to acknowledge that my best pair of work shoes, the ones I was likely wearing last time you came for a massage, were no longer viable. Life came to a crashing halt while I found another pair of work shoes, with arch support, stability and flexibility. 

Because EVERYTHING depends on your foundation. Your feet affect your ankles, which affect your knees, which affect your hips and back and neck. If you’re walking around in ridiculous shoes, your life eventually collapses. 

So make sure your shoes are good for you. Ideally you want arch support which isn’t rigid, so that the articulations between bones stay mobile. High heels, although beautiful, throw your back out of alignment and cause bunions. Flip-flops–well, grinding your bones directly into concrete all day–I won’t lecture you any more.

If you have foot issues as serious as mine, check out Footsmart.com. Not only do they sell comfortable walking shoes for all kinds of conditions, they have devices that help with plantar fasciitis, custom orthotics, gel inserts, and all kind of nifty bracing things. 

This message brought to you thanks to the Equinox Wardrobe Cleanse.  

How To Master Pain

Okay, I’m BSing you. Forearm stands aren’t painful. 

They used to terrify me, however. Going upside down would make my brain shut down. I’d be asked to do a forearm stand in yoga class; I’d make a sort of wounded-penguin attempt at flipping my legs up, then huddle in child’s pose for the rest of the class.

Then one day I paused. For thirty seconds, I visualized myself doing a perfect forearm stand. Then I tried again. 

It was easy.

Lately, I’ve been tackling something way harder than forearm stands–fear, anxiety, and pain. When I notice myself doing things like surfing social media for hours, reaching for sugar, carbs and alcohol, finding ANYTHING to do except the next thing on my task list, that’s a red flag. I’m suppressing feelings that I don’t like having.

The remedy is this: Stop, sit, and feel the feelings. 

As soon as I bring my attention to that panic, shame, discomfort, and notice it without judging, avoiding, or trying to ‘fix’ anything, the feelings start to shift. The knot in my gut moves to an iron band around my head, which flows into constriction in my sinuses, a panicked clench in my throat. More rapidly than I think possible, they melt.

After maybe ten minute of this, thing are really different. I’m no longer craving a cookie or a Facebook binge. I’m ready to tackle the Big Scary Thing. 

Because the way out of negative feelings is through them.

There is reason to suspect that this applies, in some ways, to chronic pain as well. Research has indicated that taking painkillers in the early stages of recovery from injury may correlate with the development of chronic pain syndrome later on. It’s as though the brain has to experience the injury in order to recover from it.

So I’ve started bringing mindfulness to my massage clients, as an experiment. When we hit a problem spot, I encourage you to be with your sensations, as far as possible, without judging, avoiding or trying to change them. Preliminary results indicate that pain starts to melt then, too.

Let’s see what happens.