In My Shoes

Don’t keep your best for good: a lesson hard learnt.

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I learnt a lesson this past year. Don’t wait for the “Right Occasion” to wear your best shoes, outfit, jewels, etc. or live your best life. Make everyday special in as many ways possible.

Precisely when you feel the dullness of life is about to obliterate you, is when it’s necessary to guard against losing your passion or taste for the new. I’ve always ridden the vagaries of life with confidence and optimism. I was shocked when I looked back and saw how close I’d come to disappearing. It had never happened before, so I hadn’t considered the effort in reappearing.

This is my final post for In My Shoes, and I believe the most important words I have to say.

It started with joggers. My old joggers even worn only sporadically were no longer fit for use. I was measured for & purchased a beautiful new pair of expensive joggers but they gave me blisters, foot cramps and my first instinct was to stash them in the back of the cupboard & ignore the fact mentally & physically I benefit from a daily dose of exercise. I was able to keep up my ostrich-like attitude for a while as life kept me busy but a move to a new neighbourhood adjacent to a fabulous park and eventually the thought of wasting cash niggled at me and forced me to improvise & try wearing the new joggers with 2 pairs of socks. Success.

It occurred to me this was an analogy of how my life had been also for the duration of my ownership of the joggers. I’d stashed myself away because my life didn’t fit the way I thought it should. It wasn’t comfortable but I wasn’t prepared to work at something new. I’d emerged from the cocoon of a long term work project which ended with a distinct lack of fanfare and was propelled into a post GFC workplace. Simultaneously, extreme tiredness was diagnosed as glandular fever and left me physically & mentally befuddled. The neighbourhood move was forced & reluctant and… my long term goals weren’t approaching as quickly as I thought they should.

Just as I got to the point of hanging by the fingernails to the edges of my sanity, my survival instinct coughed & spluttered and I adopted as my mantra the Julian Cameron quote “Wherever you are is always the right place. There is never a need to fix anything, to hitch up the bootstraps of the soul and start at some higher place. Start right where you are.”

Courtesy of a hiatus in workflow I gave myself a D.I.Y. course in WordPress blogging, which by luck led me to the Women in Focus Global Blogger Search and necessitated the challenge of acquiring further skills in social media beyond Facebook. I created a Twitter account, resurrected & used my LinkedIn profile. My writing skills improved. I was having fun… omigod.

With enthusiasm born of nowhere-to-go, I moved cautiously but resignedly into a new workplace role, and looked hard to find things I liked about the new neighbourhood. Serving two purposes, one to realign myself and two, my idea in blogging was to write about the world around me. I couldn’t write about it if I couldn’t see it for the dull, dense fog of disillusionment I’d cloaked myself in.

Blogging ignited a passion which gave off enough spark to enable me to re-engage with my workplace & colleagues and life in general. It was forced. It was an effort… in the beginning. Now I can’t believe I spent so long in the pit of doldrums-ville.

So, Women in Focus [& WordPress] thanks for the ride. It’s been enlivening. Truly.

In My Shoes: one foot in front of the other

Shortly after I began WordPress blogging I came across Commonwealth Bank’s Women in Focus Global Blogger Search Competition – In My Shoes. It was a great opportunity to practise blogging and continue my D.I.Y. social media education. For me the prize was the process, although it would have been a hoot to travel to New York or Mt Kilimanjaro with Mrs S.  

Fortunately several elladee post ideas leant themselves to the theme. Now the competition has ended I’m posting them as intended, with a few edits thanks to wisdom of Robin Coyle. 

This is post 4 of 4 of my blog “one foot in front of the other”.

one step, two step, pay it forward or pay it back?

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if I had a dollar…

I’m curious about people who must have everything tallied & balanced in the immediate checks & balances of life versus those who are willing to let it all work out in the ebbs & flows.

Which are you? Do you have the confidence & faith to be a generous and comfortable giver or taker?

“I’ll pay you back”. “You got it last time”. “I’m in debt to you”… and their many variations annoy me considerably… pllleeaaaaassse have a civilised conversation about arrangements financial or otherwise if you must, and get on with it.

My view? The metaphorical you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours, is ok if you need a reciprocal back scratch, otherwise it’s a waste of time & energy. Far better to be patient, wait & conserve resources until someone who really needs to have their back scratched comes along. Is this all too metaphorical?

Let me put it this way…

Simple but good example: I had coffee with a friend a couple of times in the last month or so. This friend is a mum & currently doesn’t do paid work. She spent quite a few dollars to make her visits to the city. She was happy to pay for her coffee but I paid both times with the reasoning one day when she was working again & I wasn’t she could pay for the coffee for me or someone else. This time if she chose, she could spend her funds on herself later such as a nice lunch or a glass of sparkly, which she did.

Another simple but good example: I have a friend who I have been “doing stuff with” for more than 25 years. I pay, she pays, we go halvies. We know we’ll be doing it again. It doesn’t matter.

I learnt about the concept of “pay it forward” early in life. It’s the way my family does things, they look after their own, and others if they can, and don’t expect anything in return. Until last year I’d never heard about “pay it forward” as a philosophy. In fact, I learnt much of the trivia surrounding it doing research for this blog post.

From my childhood memories there was always someone to lend a hand, furniture being given out, handed back and swapped, a spare room for a few weeks or…, clothes recycled, home grown milk, eggs & veges distributed, afternoon tea & an ear available, and so on. Nothing was expected back. It went on and around. My cousin now has the futon her mother gave to me which I later gave to her daughter. It makes perfect sense. 

Simple but frustrating example: Many, many years ago an older family member was generous with time & money and helped me make my way into the wide world of adult life. Why do they now insist on arguing at the supermarket checkout over who pays for joint purchases when half & half was agreed on? Why does the same family member catalogue, calculate & [attempt to] schedule occasions with the only purpose of payback for another?

Complicated and really frustrating example: Another family member, but younger, who I had the privilege of giving the same type of support I received, but who also in turn has done the same for yet another younger family member, insists a dozen years later they still owe me. Why can’t I just pay for my own breakfast?

Lastly, a shining example: New neighbours, at the time one a stay at home mum, the other working & commuting long hours, moved into newly built houses and helped each other out in various neighbourly ways. I’ll be forever grateful to this beautiful person, who on many occasions would call out as I drove up the driveway in the dark “I’ve made dinner”, and in her home I would recover from the day with a glass of wine, dinner & friendship. Our paths diverged but we remain in touch.

The trivia…
The “pay it forward” concept was used as a key plot element in play in ancient Athensin 317 BC and it’s had a reasonable amount of coverage since then.
It is the subject of many quotes, In 1916, Lily Hardy Hammond wrote, “You don’t pay love back; you pay it forward.”
It is also the subject of work by Benjamin Franklin & Ralph Waldo Emerson among others.
In 2000, Catherine Ryan Hyde’s novel Pay It Forward was published and adapted into a film. Subsequently the Pay it Forward Movement and Foundation was founded in the USA.
In 2007 International Pay it Forward Day, celebrated on 28 April was founded in Australia and has now spread to 35 countries.
(Source: Wikipedia)

Postscript: An additional word on “pay it forward”. Last Friday I was fortunate to attend an information session where the speaker was Rebecca Ordish, who before establishing the The Mitrataa Foundation with her husband, was a lawyer with the firm I work at.
“The Mitrataa Foundation’s vision is to do itself out of a job in Nepal. Founded by Australian couple, Bec and Adam Ordish, Mitrataa works with women and girls, teaching them to dream and empowering them through education and training initiatives.  The Foundation’s model is to share skills and create opportunities that encourage the people of Nepal to take responsibility for their future. “
Rather than pay back the foundation which is run through fundraising and donations, the “graduates” are encourage to reciprocate via assisting others in various areas of the program. A great example of “pay it forward”.
http://www.mitrataa.org/

Shortly after I began WordPress blogging I came across Commonwealth Bank’s Women in Focus Global Blogger Search Competition – In My Shoes. It was a great opportunity to practise blogging and continue my D.I.Y. social media education. For me the prize was the process, although it would have been a hoot to travel to New York or Mt Kilimanjaro with Mrs S.  

Fortunately several elladee post ideas leant themselves to the theme. Now the competition has ended I’m posting them as intended, with a few edits thanks to wisdom of Robin Coyle. 

This is post 3 of 4 of my blog “one foot in front of the other”. 

wisdom of the elders

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Have you ever thought about what will be going on with you in later life? And after you get the important stuff such as how & where you’ll live sorted, what shoes will you be wearing?

I often use a visualisation technique where I have a chat with myself plus 10 years if I have a decision to make, or just to see how the older & wiser me thinks I’m going. She gives me lots of valuable feedback and right now seems quite happy with how we’re trucking.

As I do for inspiration, I look at the people of my life, this time the generation before me, many of whom are at various stages of retirement and all are doing it differently, so I’ve decided it’s a good time to have a chat with my much older self: me plus 25 years.

2012 me: How are you doing in general?

2037 me: Pretty good. We live well but not extravagantly and get pleasure from the simplicity of our life. The garden is looking great and feeds us & the chooks. We’re still doing projects on the house to amuse ourselves but all the planning ahead and work you did in the early days fixing it up and making it energy & environmentally friendly paid off.

2012 me: What are you doing?

2037 me: Much as I thought. We’ve never really retired in the true sense of the word. Both of us continue to work, but it’s flexible: partly self-employed, casual, part-time & changing, depending on if we’re at home or travelling. Not for the money but to stay active and in touch with the world. Ok, the money is handy too.

2012 me: How did things work out financially?

2037 me: Not so bad. You did good paying off the house, not incurring any more debt & keeping those savings. The superannuation funds, well, they are what they are but I don’t have to worry. There’s enough.

2012 me: What’s been the best part of retirement?

2037 me: I stopped planning everything, and take things as they come. To travel and be indulgent with the amount of time we take to look around, be present & enjoy. At home, to see what the day brings.

plan for the future but don’t plan the future

2012 me: Are you well?

2037 me: Better than ever. Simple living suits me. I’m more active and life lends itself to “everything in moderation”. I found fulfilment in a lifestyle I believe in, and living with integrity.

2012 me: What do you miss from your pre-retirement life?

2037 me: Aaah, a guilty pleasure – home delivery dinner. Logistically we usually have to pre-think it and even though some nights we’d kill for Thai or pizza, when we indulge it generally disappoints. Life moves on.

2012 me: Do you still wear my favourite boots?

2037 me: Mostly practicality dictates my footwear and my true state of bliss is barefoot walking on the beach. But yes, I have the tan leather high heel boots we bought over 30 years ago. Worn with a pair of favourite jeans, as the saying goes “they complete me”.

Make time for a chat with your older & wiser self. You’ll be glad you did.

“You have brains in your head.

You have feet in your shoes.

You can steer yourself any direction you choose.

You’re on your own, and you know what you know.

And you are the one who’ll decide where you’ll go.

Oh the places you’ll go.” Dr Seuss

Shortly after I began WordPress blogging I came across Commonwealth Bank’s Women in Focus Global Blogger Search Competition – In My Shoes. It was a great opportunity to practise blogging and continue my D.I.Y. social media education. For me the prize was the process, although it would have been a hoot to travel to New York or Mt Kilimanjaro with Mrs S.  

Fortunately several elladee post ideas leant themselves to the theme. Now the competition has ended I’m posting them as intended, with a few edits thanks to wisdom of Robin Coyle. 

This is post 2 of 4 of my blog “one foot in front of the other”.

walk a mile in my shoes

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As I did recently, reflect upon the year 2011: who of your friends would you, could you, walk a mile in their shoes?

All through 2011 my Sagittarius horoscopes repeatedly reminded me I should look to my friends & see what’s working for me, or not. I didn’t really take much notice as this wasn’t the answer to the question I was looking for.

However, very early one morning my not-really-awake-thoughts cast my mind over the times in 2011 where I managed to catch up with a few friends and as you do, chat about the ups & downs of our respective lifestyles. My city D.I.N.K. way of life suits me mostly but what works for me and works for my family & friends differs according to our choices and lifestyles.

I pondered who of my friends I could be if I had a holiday from being myself…

is the grass greener on the other side?

First, my country neighbour who I don’t see a lot but have always admired for all those things I am not. Without divulging personal traits let’s say even though I have mellowed considerably over the years, I am pretty structured in my ways, sometimes uncomfortably so. Of similar age to me, her youngest has just left home; she’s quit her job & ready for a new life. Since (and before) I have known her, in her yard & sometimes house, there has always been people of all ages and a parade of cats, dogs, chooks, geese, turkeys, ducks, birds, snakes, frogs, other miscellaneous wildlife & livestock from time to time… and any (ok, the many) who have gone to heaven have always been truly lamented. While chatting about neighbourhood wildlife, which we both love, she casually mentioned she has a bat living in her hallway and the only downside was the pile of droppings on the floor to be negotiated in the mornings.

Second, a family friend wrote “I don’t want or need any more. Not material things anyway“ in response to her niece’s Facebook post “I started out with nothing & still have most of it left”. Having visited her during my recent holidays I get this. She & her husband of 40+ years now live in a nice coastal town & have a modest, bright & welcoming home with an abundant garden, pleasant outside undercover space which is the most used area in the house, testimony to the many family & friends who congregate there. In earlier years she had 5 children, & the family did it tough. The kids all have done well & they have added 11 grandkids to the family. She’s bubbly, opinionated, busy, interesting and loves enormously.

Third, I caught up with an old school friend via a couple of phone chats & coffees. From my point of view she has a challenging but nice life and just doesn’t realise it. She’s done well despite several life experiences I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. She has a lovely partner & daughter who ok has a health issue, but despite her misgivings I believe my friend is handling it admirably. She lives in the country, has university qualifications, travelled around Australia & overseas, an old house & garden to play in, is a “proper” artist who exhibits & sells stuff, and has other rural type interests on the side. She on the other hand often voices as a city dweller with a job & no kids that I have a good life I possibly could do more with… what drag myself out to a gallery opening or write a chapter of a novel after spending 8 hours at my work desk & computer, hell no, not when there’s something convenient & trashy on TV to go with a couple of glasses of wine & takeaway? Just joking, I love to cook. It would be interesting to have a holiday being her, and it would give her a break, to visit the city, go to galleries & exhibitions, movies & concerts, all of which she loves. I expect we would both breathe a sigh of relief when it was time to return to our respective homes but it would be interesting, and I suspect I wouldn’t cope anywhere near as well as she does.

There are several more, briefly…

A gorgeous friend who is just so alive, who handled a difficult marital separation & child sharing arrangements remarkably, who has recently remarried and managed to successfully unite & nurture her combined mob, and so much more. She is much loved by a wide circle of family & friends and deserves every bit.

A couple of interstate friends who I don’t see but who generously share their lives, family, friends, passions, humour & cats via Facebook. Their creativity, friendship and realness inspire me every day.

My [half] sisters, both under 30. We’re somewhat the same, somewhat different but they grew up in and live in a different generational era than I did, with its own benefits & challenges, and do it well.

Another school friend who has hitched up the bootstraps of her life, fights her battles with integrity & passion, if tired & anxious does it anyway and has faith faith faith.

Last but not least my best friend of omigod-30-years, the one who should write a book on her life, makes me laugh and never ever takes offence when I feel the need to say what’s on my mind.

As far as anyone I haven’t mentioned, let me say finally I’m blessed to have (& had) in various ways many wonderful women in my life who have left a smile & warm touch on my soul and taught me many things which make me who I am.

“If I could be you, if you could be me

For just one hour, if we could find a way

To get inside each other’s mind

If you could see you through my eyes

Instead your own ego I believe you’d be

I believe you’d be surprised to see

That you’ve been blind

Walk a mile in my shoes

just walk a mile in my shoes

Before you abuse, criticize and accuse

Then walk a mile in my shoes…”

Walk a Mile in My Shoes (words & music by Joe South) performed by Elvis Presley.

Shortly after I began WordPress blogging I came across Commonwealth Bank’s Women in Focus Global Blogger Search Competition – In My Shoes. It was a great opportunity to practise blogging and continue my D.I.Y. social media education. For me the prize was the process, although it would have been a hoot to travel to New York or Mt Kilimanjaro with Mrs S.  

Fortunately several elladee post ideas leant themselves to the theme. Now the competition has ended I’m posting them as intended, with just a few edits thanks to wisdom of Robin Coyle. 

This is post 1 of 4 of my blog “one foot in front of the other”.

no women, no shoes

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What is the attraction of as soon as you aren’t allowed to do something you want to do it: immediately; obsessively? I’ve been writing a Women in Focus blog themed “In My Shoes” as part of my DIY social media education. I’ve learnt greatly, so much so that winning the competiton’s prize of a trip to New York or Mt Kilimanjaro and the opportunity to blog about it would only be a bonus. The catch is the blog content cannot appear or have ever appeared elsewhere. Of course, since starting it, I’ve thought of nothing else but women and shoes… of course.

Prior, I’ve not thought too deeply about the women in my life. However the inspirational blog topic had been running around my head and I thought the output would find it’s way to ella_dee words, but it was perfect for Women in Focus so I took it as a sign to enter the competition. And, I’ve never thought overly much about shoes. With both women & shoes I choose well, they function wonderfully & life would be damn uncomfortable without them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a normal healthy woman, I rarely walk past a shoe shop window or especially a bargain rack without stopping to see if there’s something I can’t live without, and seasonally I usually buy a pair or 2 but I’m no Imelda Marcos. My favourite shoes are the ones I’ve had the longest. Ditto for friends, and I’m never home washing my hair if there’s an opportunity of getting together.

All the while elladee_words has been pretty much wordless. I felt like I’d let it down.

Anyway, all is good, I’ve circumvented the restriction on the topics of women and shoes by writing about not being able to write about women and shoes…

If you would like to read my Women in Focus blogs so far, the links are:

https://www.womeninfocus.com.au/people/dalelee/blog/2012/02/08/wisdom-of-the-elders

https://www.womeninfocus.com.au/people/dalelee/blog/2012/01/30/walk-a-mile-in-my-shoes

“For women, shoes are the most important. Good shoes take you good places.”

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(quote by Seo Min Hyun)

I’ve been making plans for later in life. So many things to do & places to see. I’ll need lots of shoes I think, but my favourite boots will be with me still.

Read my latest Women in Focus blog https://www.womeninfocus.com.au/people/dalelee/blog/2012/02/08/wisdom-of-the-elders

If you were going to Oz would you have worn the Ruby Red Slippers, or ?

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Dorothy wore one pair of red shoes for her entire journey over the rainbow to Oz… I can’t believe she only took one pair of shoes. When I travel I pack far too many shoes, and they’re all in only one colour: black.

There’s a rainbow of shoe colours & styles out there both for footwear and life-wear. What colour shoes do you wear? Does it say something about you?

I’m always surprised at my choice because as a kid my favourite shoes were bright orange sandals with big flower decorations.  I hated the black leather lace-up school shoes that were mandatory, and always looked for a way to flout the rules.

While you’re thinking, read another blog at I just posted on Women In Focus called “walk a mile in my shoes”
https://www.womeninfocus.com.au/people/dalelee/blog 

After you read my blog, and comment please, why not write a Women In Focus blog of your own. You could win a trip to New York or Mt Kilimanjaro…

“I’ve always taken ‘The Wizard of Oz’ very seriously, you know. I believe in the idea of the rainbow. And I’ve spent my entire life trying to get over it.”  Judy Garland