Thursday, March 16, 2017

Shoeships and Friendships: What a pair!



There's nothing better than coming home to find a box waiting for you on your front stoop. Even better, when it contains several pairs of shoes. Many women I've come to know have an affinity for both shoes and pocketbooks. Madison Ave advertising, along with Hollywood, perpetuate this adoration even more as actresses strut the famous name brands at the posh events and even incorporate the products into some story lines. Remember Carrie from Sex and the City and her obsession with all her Jimmy Choos; I mean, even his name rhymes with shoes.  Still, even though most women have a penchant for both, there is a divide between shoe and pocketbook  lovers over which of the two they are more consumed by. I agree the right pocketbook can complete an outfit and store all our little goodies inside. But, for me, shoes are the foundation of a complete look and, hence, more of my passion, especially boots. My favorite boots hug my calves, snuggle my toes with warmth and, as many people have shared, cause me to walk with a bounce--sort of like, "Tigger" from Winnie the Pooh. 

I was elated when my husband recently surprised me with a pair of unique boots I had strategically pointed out to him online awhile back: black leather with an added textured overlay design. But, when I tried them on, the luster and fit didn't feel right, so it was a definite disappointment; I exchanged them for what was now waiting inside the box for me to unveil.  With a new season coming in, I wanted to change things up. I came upon these finds after several weeks of online perusing. I was thrilled to exchange the one pair of boots, for three pairs of shoes:: one blush pink, bejeweled sandal, a brown leather pump and a pair of denim flats. I typically don't like flats as I'm only 5ft 4 and prefer to add a little height.

With the enthusiasm of a child at Christmas, I ripped open my package, while carefully handling each of the smaller shoe boxes contained within. The first box was sure to be my favorite as I desperately want a pair of pink, yup, my favorite color, shoes for the summer; it's rare to find the delicate tone I love. However, the color of the sandal was more beige than pink.  A huge--as Trump would say--- disappointment. Next, onto the rich, coffee brown pumps ordered to compliment my business slacks. Great color, but too big; when I walked the shoe moved up and down, rubbing against my heel. A sure-fire recipe for a nasty blister. Feeling regret, I hesitantly opened my final conquest to meet the denim flats. 

"Hmmm, they look pretty good," I thought. "Ahhhh, they feel divine," as I slid my foot into the cushioned insole--and, much to my surprise, the shoes look delicate and lovely. They even have a slight heel. Definitely not my typical style,  yet even the color matches lots of the casual summer wear I have.  Plus, my husband is always advising me to wear comfortable shoes when we go into NYC.  So the denim flats didn't fall "flat" after all. What a nice surprise! " 

This incident got me thinking about shoes and their similarities to the people we meet in our lives and some of the surprises we find. Occasionally, we're lucky enough to  meet individuals and--like shoes--we fit. We walk in stride, we complement each other, like shoes to an outfit. We support and help each other stand tall and simply being with them seems like an effortless stroll in the park. And when bumps in the road come, we lean on each other. When we reach mountaintops, we soar to celebrate the other's accomplishment to savor the joy. These are the people who are the keepers: the loves of our lives, our family and  best friends....the shoes we find new outfits to match with, so they never go out of style; they are timeless. We're just head over heels about them!

In contrast, we have those shoes, like so called "friends," who wear us down with negativity, or expect so much support and give so little or none in return. After awhile of hearing excuses for why they haven't surfaced, it may be time to move in a new direction. If someone is important, a friend makes it her business to connect.  

There are also the seasonal pals, like shoes, who one sees during special occasions or a sport's season, or when they or their children need a favor.  A few cronies, who like the shoes in the window or online, appear one way, but once we try them on, they're phonies. Maybe their pretense of friendship is opportunistic, and they see us as a way to get what they want for themselves or their kids. They may even bestow gifts and generous offerings which are hard to resist...until, well, their need of our goodwill ends as does their presence and presents.

And last, but most regrettable there are the few plastic people,  who run us down  and become the real "heels" in our lives. They go out of their way to squeeze our toes to hurt and betray us like the synthetic, faux leather and imitation shoes who can't compete with the real ones they are jealous of. They are fake, and like the "knock-off" imposters, often fall short as their cheap material doesn't bend  to lend support. It's only a matter of time before their lack of craftsmanship shines through and they get the boot.  Step aside and onto shoes with higher integrity.  It's time to find room for all the people, like shoes,  who will surprise us.

As I clear out my closets this Spring, I'm mindful that my shoes, like friends, serve a purpose: Some represent many of my life's experiences such as the few stiletto heels of yesteryears I've saved; I can't believe I could even walk in them, much less dance--which is what I did many an amazing night with people I'm still friends with!  I've  kept  some of the ornate heels to wear for special celebrations, I wear them infrequently, which is how often I see some acquaintances in my life. I don't count on either for much support, but enjoy celebrating with them occasionally. I've swapped many of the sneakers and clogs I wore down chasing my kids when they were toddlers with a few pairs of my favorite walking shoes, some new wedges, along with a few reasonably stacked  heels for business and outings.  Of course, there are the sandals for Spring and Summer that come with the added upkeep of a nice pedicure. 

In my shoe stash, I have some surprise finds I've stumbled upon when I wasn't looking. It's often those times, such as discovering the denim flats on my doorstep, that have added the most joy to my wardrobe. When others have commented, "Oh, I never saw you in that style, but I like it," I'm confident that I am the only person who knows which style is for me, and whether or not my shoe, and my friends, are a fit. Similarly, those comments have been made regarding relationships I've had: "Oh, I don't see you with that guy," or "She's doesn't seem like your type of friend." Well, then look a little bit closer. The exterior of the shoe or person may be basic and lovely. But nothing compared to what lies on its inside. And a person's interior--as that of footwear-- is often more important to me. 

 The seemingly monotone, basic black exterior of the boot below is an example as to the beauty of what lies within: an intricate, ruby red (& blue) intertwining interior pattern--reminding me I have the power inside, just as Dorothy did, if I just believe in myself. Yes, true friends do make us feel this way! 





I relish venturing forward strutting my boots this season. Like family, they  are close to reach, helping me  stand tall. My sister friends are my  soul mates, as my  favorite boots are my "solemates." Even when I don't wear them for awhile, I know they are there, and I can count on them for support. Yes, a few wedges may come between us, but we move forward and pump each other up during good and bad hair days.

Because the best part of being  passionate about shoes is, they come in pairs; and, like friends, we meander through life in tandem.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Dear Parents who sent their youngest (or only) child off to college!


Although it's commonplace for millions of parents to send their kids off to college each fall, the departure is anything but typical. In fact, sending one's child away to school is, on so many levels, profound, especially when it's the youngest child to leave the nest.

In my case, since I went through this process last year with my older son, it would appear I'd be better prepared than most moms. In some ways I was, mainly in knowing what items he'd need for the transition and having a semblance of understanding that this goodbye would be hard. Still, as each child is unique, so is their college journey and a mom's response to it. 

As with any event-- from my older son's birth and beyond--I planned ahead, especially with mourning his college departure. Weeks before, after everyone went to bed, I strolled down memory lane. I cried mountains of tears so that when I finally hugged him goodbye, I was so emotionally exhausted, only a few lingering drops fell. I admit to some waterworks relapses on the drive home and days, then months, after. 

I was consoled having my younger son in high school, still at home. I felt the same comfort after my older son started kindergarten while my younger son remained at home. Then, once both transitioned into kindergarten-- and then middle and high school--I felt the impact. I was more emotional and reflective of the sonic pace of time and how quickly my boys were becoming men.

As the finality of summer came, instead of draining myself emotionally in contemplation of what was to come, as I had with my older son, I redirected my thoughts  to something or someone else each time my son's departure came into mind. Once we were packed and on the road, I reached my arm out to him from the passenger side of the car. He grabbed my hand and I shared some of my feelings of the love and joy I've experienced as his mom and my confidence he was going to do amazing at school and change the world for the better! Of course, a few wayward tears streamed down my face, tears I quickly brushed away. 

Although I tried to keep busy, my thoughts wandered. My home became eerily QUIET with noise of yesteryears. In order to focus, I decided to put my "to do list" together for work and home. Since my boys are voracious eaters, I often go food shopping several times a week, after my work appointments--at whichever supermarket is nearby.

This time, I stood frozen in the Stop & Shop entryway, mentally reviewing some shopping adjustments I had to make. "Remember," I reminded myself, "No more family size packages of meat, no jumbo bags of snacks, no gallons of milk and no need to buy anything in bulk."

As I continued into the next isle, I keeled over when I saw the familiar, flaming red box of "Cheez-It Hot & Spicy, crackers" one of my son's favorite snacks. I wasn't expecting to stand there crushed like the empty "Cheez-It" boxes my son tried to hide beside his bed, as he often didn't follow the house rule of "no eating in your bedroom." 

Sobbing, I leaned into the row of boxes shielding my face from onlookers passing by, often moms with kids in their carts.
"Mommy, MOMMY, can I have a treat.....PLEASE..." I heard one little boy plead. 

I thought, "Wasn't it just yesterday that my boys were that little in MY shopping cart, asking for all different snacks as I rushed to redirect them down the aisle? 

I took a few deep breathes and gathered my composure before grabbing my keepsake box of "Cheez-It" and redirecting myself towards the check-out. Once I got into my car, I had a good cry. I realized I have to face many changes now in the way I experience the world since my youngest child finished high school. 

There is a changing of the guards, so to speak, and  the beginning of a new era with guidelines I'll have to become accustomed to including:

1. A different  way of food shopping and cooking, especially controlling my portion size. 

2. Accepting the fact that the school bus will never be dropping anyone off at my home again.

3. Helping our dog accept this each time she hears the bus doors open two blocks away, sits and waits--before dragging me down the street when it arrives on our block. I will continue to comfort her as she forlornly looks up at me-- as if I ate her bone--when my boys are nowhere in sight when we race home.

4. Accepting I no longer will be attending local events for MY kids including: Back to School Night, sporting events, band performances, and award dinners.

5. Experiencing an overwhelming amount of emotion passing by or frequenting  places my children  used to go or accompany us to on a regular basis. It will feel strange, for example, going out to our favorite restaurants where the hostess asks, "How many will it be?" and I automatically say, "Four, no three, NO TWO." In the same fashion, setting places for a table commonly seating your entire family, now will have empty spaces.

6. Acknowledging we can no longer blame our kids for messes and lost items. This is especially true of my husband who thinks my kids are often the culprits. A few days ago, while my husband was engrossed in his work, I asked him if he saw one of my notebooks. With his eyes glued to his computer screen, my husband perfunctorily answered, "Maybe Natalia took it." "Our dog!," I retorted at the ridiculousness of such a statement. My husband gazed at me, recognized the absurdity of such a response and joined in the laughter.

7. Accepting it's hard to "let go." The child, who just last year, had to raise his hand to use the men's room or ask to leave the high school building, now must navigate life, manage his schedule, do laundry...advocate on his own behalf at the doctors and anywhere else where privacy laws dictate he now is an adult. Regardless, I still encourage both my boys to touch base with me anytime if they need advice or help in any way because I  have their back more than anyone else in the world.

8. Realizing it's going to take time to get used to the QUIET NOISE of home. Even though my kids were sometimes hanging in their rooms, on their phones avoiding us, the moments of interaction will be missed.

9. Helping our dog understand the boys aren't home anymore as she walks into their rooms looking for them and barks when she thinks they are at the front door.

10. Recognizing there will be more special moments and amazing times together, especially when they come home for breaks and holidays! It's a transition that will be followed by yet another one once our boys move out, once they get married, once they have kids.....!

My older son asked, "What on earth are you and dad going to do now that both of us are in college." My automatic response was, "We're going to go to Disney." 

It's ironic, isn't it? The older our kids get, the more childlike we tend to feel in reflecting upon the parenting journey! 

It's important to remind ourselves, as our children grow and evolve at college, so should their moms! I'm going to soar with Buzz Lightyear, to " infinity and beyond" into the next galaxy of life!

Of course, like birds, our kids will always come back to the nest we built called home!