Forty-eight years ago in a small mill town up the St-Maurice river, a little girl was born who loved to walk barefoot. She danced on scorching summer asphalt, gravel paths, sidewalks, grass, and weeds. She ran shoeless through puddles, mud, forests, and wild blueberry fields, her bare soles connected to the Earth.
While most kids grew into their shoes, this girl could only bear soft canvas sneakers or soft-strapped sandals. Rigid closed footwear gave her disgusting blisters so off she traipsed in bare feet. Her feet would not be tamed. No matter how she tried to squeeze them into “proper” shoes, they screamed out in pain and eventually rebelled.
Little did she know, her naked feet were to become her golden compass.
At the age of 9, her toes found their way into ballet slippers and they found heaven. Ah! To dance is the dominion of angels. At the age of 14 they found spikes that gave her the confidence she needed to walk tall– and a secret weapon just in case. At 17 they found steel toed boots, stiff, roomy, the staple in the closet of the Queen’s engineer. And at 21, the now mature little nubs found the all mighty power pumps.
At last the little beasties were tamed!?
What naivety to think that keeping those tenacious travellers bound and in the dark would somehow break their spirit. They were born to move. They were secretly plotting their coup while humouring their master with compliance. And comply they did, in fits and spurts.
You see, they actually knew where they were going and they had a plan to get there.
The right foot led– amassing 14 years of critical analysis and creative problem solving expertise. So they entered the engineering work force by day, underneath a desk and seemingly docile, while they sucked in the cyber bits dripping from the computer above. By night, they built toughness through bike racing, running, martial arts, and weight training. And in between it all, they nurtured 2 other pairs of feet and 4 paws, while the left foot ensured their soles stay grounded through dance, art, and music.
It was a busy and harmonious time for all, a time where the changes in the outside world were too far removed from the day-to-day to occupy any conscious thought. It was calm before the storm.
In 2000, the toe tapping started. Was it the new millennium bringing with it a supercharge of quantum particles? Was it a Y2K super-bug that survived and was nesting in those power pumps? Or was it simply time to wake up the little girl.
The left foot decided to take charge. She thanked the right one for a successful skill honing journey in the world of IT, but forged onward with the next step of the master plan.
It started with baby steps. First exploring the depth of human emotion through song, then studying the discipline of haute couture, then melding music and form into a collection of silk gowns representing a symphony orchestra, and finally tearing up the runway with meticulously crafted red carpet creations inspired from Earth’s natural beauty: glaciers, forests, flowers, even one that documented the journey of the Monarch butterfly.
At last! The original plan of “both feet” was succeeding. Working together, they had reestablished a sole connection to the Earth.
But there was still a problem…
The compass was pointing true north, yet I was still creeping south.
My toes dug their nails into the ground and kicked up a blinding dust storm. But by then even my feet had lost their way.
In 2007 my 18 ½ year marriage fell apart, my daughter left home for university, my fashion business went under and gifted me with a huge debt. I downsized to a condo and moved what I could salvage from the boutique into it, and to top it all off I relinquished my son and my dog every other 2 weeks to joint custody.
My personal “stewardship lessons” had begun.
At first my biggest task was to take care of myself… and of course, my feet. I was faced with the painstaking and painful process of exfoliating my hardened soles, layer by layer so that I could find the little girl again.
The outer shell was the most difficult and the most fragile. My tool of choice: a stack of self-help books. As I chipped away, large chunks of who I had become cracked off and I bled. It was painful. It was draining. It was liberating.
The second layer was timid but more forgiving. There was no one to blame, not even my feet. I realized that if I did not pick myself up and learn to stand secure in my newfound vulnerability, someone else would just roll over me. So my feet began to move again and become my compass as I learned to cherish them, to protect them, and to heal.
I believe that everything happens for a reason.
There was a message within me that my feet wanted me to hear.
Trust us. Trust your golden compass.
So I did. And I still do.
There were many more twist and turns as further layers disintegrated, but I am now faithfully following my feet.
On May 5th, 2013, my womanifesto was born and in one intense emotional moment my whole life made sense.
I had been playing small waiting for someone to validate my work, my womanly power, my worth. And now I have. ME! I don’t have to wait for anything, or anyone anymore.
Here I am… Woman Not Waiting.
I know you may have had a similar journey, and I am committed to bring all of us together so I will keep asking this question…
What are YOU not waiting for?