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The Day I Learned to Own My Shoes

It was rock bottom for me… I was 425 lbs, in a bad relationship, a job I hated. The list goes on. I was a shadow of the person I desired to be. I knew change had to happen, I just didn’t realize it had to start inside.

So began the search for myself. I started looking under every rock, behind every bush, every self-help book. Believe it or not, I even began church hopping, trying to put myself back together. But nothing fit, nothing really seemed to fill what I was searching for.

A dear friend of mine had been trying to get me to go see a motivational speaker, so finally one day I begrudgingly went. I walked through the doors and saw a woman who couldn’t have been more than 5’1”, red hair, spiked heels, and in her sixties at the time. She didn’t quite fit the image of the guru I was expecting. She was fiery, fearless and pretty much willing to take on anybody.

The first thing she said to me was, “You are the cause and effect of your entire life, and if you don’t like what’s happening, you need to stop pissing and moaning and start doing something about it.”

I looked at my friend and thought, “What the hell have you brought me to?” The idea that I had created the chaos I was living in was unbearable, but somewhere inside of me it rang true. I was intrigued by what she was saying. My spirit was starving and I was hungry to learn more.

I’ll never forget the day she taught me to own my shoes.

I was sitting in the front row of her class, studious and attentive as always. In the middle of her speech, she paused and said, “Can I have your shoes?” Startled and unprepared, I mumbled, “yes,” and handed her my shoes. She proceeded to put them on her tiny feet and continued on with her lecture as if nothing had happened. I sat through the rest of her talk in my socks, watching her walk up and down the room in my shoes. I could hardly pay attention to what she was teaching I was so focused on my shoes. At the end of the class, she said, “Okay, I’ll see you all next week, same time,” and she started to head out the door with her bags…. STILL wearing my shoes.

I stumbled over my words and ran towards her.

“You…. you have my shoes.” and she said, “Yes I do.” And as she started to walk away, and I said, “But my shoes? I think I kinda need my shoes.”

She repeated, “You think you kinda need your shoes?”

It was a blizzard outside, and I was standing in my socks; so yes, I think I kiiiinda needed my shoes lady.

Finally, she stopped and turned to me, “Who has the power right now? You or me?”

I hesitated and answered, “Well, you do.”

I stood there looking at my shoes and her and she said to me something that will forever burn in my memory.

“Why would you give me that kind of power? The truth is, you don’t just give away your shoes just because somebody asks for them. Where is your voice to find out why somebody wants them? If you just haphazardly give your things away, you will find yourself with nothing. When you learn to take your power back and speak your truth you will be in control and in charge of your life.” She then handed me my shoes back and walked out the door.

I stood there in shock as I realized I had been giving away my shoes to everyone, so to speak. As soon as people asked for something, I gave it without question. And usually I was too afraid to ask for it back. No wonder I was feeling depleted in my entire life.

This lesson has stuck with me over the years, and I’m sharing it with you now because it’s a perfect example of how we give our power away to people, but instead we think they’ve “taken” it from us.

And this usually doesn’t just happen in one area of our life, it can creep up everywhere.

How many times do we go to restaurants we don’t want to eat at without speaking up? I can remember a time I went to a Greek restaurant, and I haaate Greek food. Instead of trying to choke down some grape leaves like I did, I could have spoken up and had a voice in it. “I don’t like Greek; you don’t like Mexican. So maybe we can go get Italian or Chinese.” By putting our share of the input into a conversation, it makes us “own” our part in it, instead of resenting someone else for making our decision.

Think of your relationships, maybe even your marriage, are they one-sided? Are you afraid of rocking the boat? By me not speaking up and having a voice early on in the relationship with my ex-husband, I found myself divorced 30 years later. If I had learned to speak up early on, it wouldn’t have felt like a ball and chain relationship.

Think about your work, do you have a voice there too? Maybe there’s a project at work where you’re working with other people, and there’s usually some people with all the voice, and others with no voice at all. Your voice doesn’t have to be overbearing or demanding. It can be as simple as stating what you require in your job in order to get the job done, and to be a happy and healthy employee.

Finding and owning your voice means being equal in all of your relationships that you have.

Instead of just letting someone else control the conversation, or the situation, why not put your input into it? Because we’re afraid of rocking the boat? Well I can tell you, it’s better to rock the boat, than sink your own ship!

So whatever your situation is where you feel like someone else is in control, ask yourself why have you given your power away? Yes, I know things in life do come at us, but in every situation we do have some sort of power or choice. We have a choice to pick up the phone, to respond to a text message, or engage in a conversation. Even when people throw you a curveball, we have a choice in how we respond and how we choose to feel about it.

Whether it’s your shoes, your dinner, a conversation, or your life… it’s all yours, so own it.


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