I’ve spent most of my adult life not wearing my boots.
You may remember wearing boots. If you are one of the fortunate few, maybe you’ve always worn them, never put them away when childhood gradually evolved into now.
Yours may not look like boots exactly, they may be in a different form, but if you think back into the hidden away, dusty and neglected dark corners of girlhood, you’ll remember them.
Maybe yours were sequin-covered red slippers worthy of Dorothy in Wizard of Oz, or purple-sparkled jellie flats, or lime green high-top tennies, or shiny white patent maryjanes with frilly ruffled socks underneath. In those shoes, you not only felt like a princess or an actress or a rock star or the fashion model of your dreams…you embodied that; and you danced and twirled or sang into your hairbrush microphone, or skipped with your own sun shadow pirouetting on the sidewalk, or were entertained by your own reflection in the plate glass window on main street, or gazed into your own eyes lit with joy looking back from the full length mirror. “What fun I have being my glorious self!” was the feeling bubbling over, as you glowed from the inside out, unable to contain your carefree heart, experiencing happy.
Those childhood ‘boots’ inspired free expression of the unique and perfect someone held within.
We all outgrow childish things, and I made the mistake of forgetting much of that girl; the one who was comfortable in her skin; she who joyfully expressed herself, blind to inner and outer critics. I think that happens with many of us as we learn to fashion an acceptable public self, when we take on the duties of the workaday life and home and family responsibilities, becoming what is expected of us.
Several years ago, a friend wore her new cowgirl boots to an event I attended. I was instantly enamored! I felt a spark of that decade-long silent and seldom stirred girlhood splendor. I delighted in the very thought of having some joy-inspiring boots again, something worn for the sheer pleasure of it with no consideration for practicality.
Thus began the grand boot pursuit. We’ve all heard that the destination is only part of the journey, and for me the anticipation, the hunt, the moment of “Aha! I found some beauties, maybe these are the ones!?”, was a big part of the fun. The goal wasn’t just to find some boots that I liked, it was to find the boots. Patience and perseverance would be my search ally.
Believing that I would recognize the right pair when they appeared, I made it a point to keep my eyes open anytime western style boots were in my vicinity. All boots could be contenders, and when a pair caught my attention, I tried them on. Afterall, this quest for boots was about capturing a feeling of delight, so placing them on my feet would be the only way to know.
Over the next couple of years (yes, years!!) many boots were slipped over my toes past my ankles and up my shins, then promenaded in front of a mirror. When traveling on vacations, I appraised boots in Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico….all the places one could expect to be appropriate venues for cowgirl boot treasure.
In a small shop in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, I became enamored over a low heeled, soft- leathered, gently distressed pair in red; they fit well and looked great with my jeans….but I left them behind in the shop…something about them was just not right.
Later when sharing that Tennessee experience with my friend, Suzan, she kindly suggested, “A girl can own more than one pair of boots.”
Practical me was flummoxed. Her words were like a revelation to me. Such an obvious concept, now that it was spoken!
The carefree girl in me had been so quieted by adult sensibilities, that the woman I’ve become often forgets how to relish the fun right in front of me, or in this case, right on my feet. I can find enjoyment in a pair of boots even if they weren’t perfect in every way; all the time I spent searching could have been time having fun wearing great boots, expressing my ‘glorious self’. When did being practical become so much more important than savoring the sweet life I’ve worked toward and am so fortunate to have? Evidently, seeking ‘perfection’ ignored that in me which deserved embrace.
Suzan, in her tender honesty, saw the girl in me when I could not, and that is the real treasure found in my search for boots. Keeping Suzan’s revelation in my back pocket for reassurance, I find myself more often welcoming ‘my girl’ into the present.
And yes, I now have a fabulous pair of cowgirl boots. When I wear them, I simply cannot stop smiling. Occasionally, I even kick up my heels!