it’s all about the journey

20110704-102358.jpg

“are we there yet?” my four year old starts asking 5 minutes from home….

my childhood road trips were spent on the floorboards behind my aunts driver seat playing dolls with my cousin. Seat belts were just something we tucked under the seats to avoid being burned by the scalding metal. air bags? air bags were just trash floating by in the summer breeze. we sat wherever we wanted and our favorite was on the floor with our heads resting on the doors.

we stayed in motels in small towns, jumping on the beds and searching for the nearest ice cream shop. we pitched tents, swam and made our own schedules. we did this for years and i’m not sure i ever cared about getting where we were going….it was all about the journey. in fact, i have more memories of the car ride than where we ended up.

it’s different now….my kids have designated seats and they are belted in. they have their iPods and movies and much of their entertainment is self focused. they would never think of rolling around on the floor or unbuckling. i guess this is how much of life is, we become aware of dangers and we compensate with rules, restrictions and extreme safety precautions. whenever i get too focused on the dangers my husband reminds me, “we lived”.

some things don’t change about road trips and this is what i love. we get in the car amped for adventure, we see the world in a new light and we get on each others nerves (it’s true). the front seat is designated for conversations that get put on hold during the bustle of everyday life (i used to pretend to be asleep as a kid just so i could listen). my road trip husband is one of my favorites, he is relaxed, funny and truly happy. my road trip children are starved for attention (because there is so much space between us in our car, ha ha), open to sharing stories about their lives and just plain cute as they sleep shoved in a small hotel room.

the united states is absolutely beautiful, i am constantly amazed. this trip we made our way to south dakota and the badlands national park. i have never seen pink and yellow hills so gracefully perched between chartreuse blades of grass. they were happy and whimsical and made me want to move to south dakota just so i could wake up to their beauty.

20110704-100711.jpg

the national parks are beautiful and they are packed with visitors from all over the world. cheesy tourist trap heaven…everything you can dream up: old mcdonald’s farm, bear country, gem world, i could go on and on but i will put it to rest with reptile world. ahhhh, reptile world, who wouldn’t want to stop? ok, maybe you don’t want to but you have to visit these places. i am convinced my children will remember the crocodile show before they ever recall the beauty of the badlands but it will give them context for their trip. they will talk about the time they got sprayed by the crocs thrashing tail and then they will say; “hey, isn’t that the time we went to the badlands?” these stops make our history together interesting and make the road trip worth every mile of “are we there yet!?!”

20110704-102246.jpg

Posted in travel | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

get your feet wet

it is a brisk summer morning and the pool is still as glass. six kids, all nine and ten, stand on their blocks staring at the man in the black and white striped shirt, waiting. . . they look determined, focused and amazingly brave. they crouch to take their marks, and a loud horn sends them flying into the unsuspecting water.

at the other end of the pool, my heart beats in my ears and my fingers clinch in anticipation. my son is on the third block and it doesn’t matter that he is nine or that this is summer swimming, all he wants is to finish with a time that leads him to his current measure of success, the state meet.

success (noun): the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors.

how we each measure success, at any point in our lives, determines our relationship with the people around us, ourselves and our world. his first individual race ended in tears, he felt failure pulling at his heart. it didn’t matter that he finished in the top ten, this is not his measure of success. he was upset at himself, he was upset at his world.

as a mom, you know that the truest measure of success is the ability to jump when that scary horn sounds and more importantly the ability to do it again even when you feel like you can’t. baa hum bug, “don’t talk to me”. but soon the closed attitude begins to soften and he needs the pep talk one more time. i join him under his makeshift hermit shell (a wet towel over his head). we both emerge remembering that you can only succeed if you try and having fun sometimes makes the pain of defeat a bit easier to manage. he smiles, heads to the heating area and tries again. . .success. before his body even hits the water, i already feel the success of character, but my heart pounds hard for his success.

you see, i have thought a lot about this over the last few days. kids put a great deal of pressure on themselves and we add to it whether we think we do or not. i know what he wants and i want it for him. i might just want it more than he does because i know how good it feels to reach that goal even if with time it disappears. how we measure success and how we reach it propels us on or holds us back.

i try to remember we can’t always feel success and failure is what builds character, humility and empathy. . .he needs that too. i try to remember that success is just desire realized. . .

there are so many small successes in our days we just need to remember to see them:

today my six and four year old crossed the street together and returned a neighbors things. as they returned home from the errand they wanted to do “alone”, they smiled with accomplishment-success-

today my four year old shared his time on the trampoline without a fuss (crazy but true)-success-

today i made a salad from my garden for myself and a friend-success-

as he pulled himself out of the pool, wet with a job well done, he asked for his time. . .his coaches scooped him up in their waiting arms as i watched from the other end of the pool. my smile carried me the 25 meters that were between us. his wet feet pounded the pavement, his arms wrapped tightly around my neck and all he said was “thank you”.

wet feet: feet that reach for your success. . .whether they are drenched with water, sweat or determination, just get them wet. success is how we define it for ourselves. with our kids, it needs to be tempered with reality and a remembrance that a taste of failure only makes success that much sweeter.

Posted in shoes | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

to be home. . .

home is the place where love creeps in and fills each crevice. you often find it where you least expect or need it the most. . .

when i arrived home last night from nine days away, i fell in love with my children all over again. the beauty of their sleeping faces and the gentle way their mouths turn up, make them look like sweet perfect angels. the morning brought clarity to the angel thing but. . . i still fell in love with them all over again and again today. love is in the sound of their contagious laughter and in their sweet delight in the small tokens from our vacation. it makes you remember to appreciate the small things in life.

i love so many things when i get home from a long trip. a fresh view of home makes you remember where love is hidden:

it is in my fifteen year old dog who gets up slowly just to say welcome home

it is in the sound of my cats purring as they sleep by my feet

it is the smell of my husband cooking in the kitchen

it is definitely my bed after a long trip

it is in my garden. . .

i just LOVE being home. . .

today i went out to my garden and was surprised to see how much had changed in a little over a week. the peonies that were just starting to bud, hang heavy with beautiful pink and magenta flowers. they are my favorite. they are gentle, complex, and utterly beautiful. their smell fills the house and their delicate petals decorate every vase i can find. i can’t help it, i love them.

Posted in things i love | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Orthotics please!

20110619-041914.jpg

new insight #1: honeymoon destinations make you feel old.

i don’t think i place myself in a category of getting older until i am so abruptly reminded by 24 year old honeymooners. as they bond with the other 20 something honeymooners, we are left out. even the 33 year old honeymooners are called…yikes… “older”. we chose to sit quietly on the sidelines, i don’t even want to know how old they think we are.

i may want to take my body back to the tender age of 24 but i will keep my life now. i’m not sure i am so different from our honeymoon 12 years ago, but i am much more comfortable in my own skin (even if it sags a bit more now).

i found myself looking at those couples wondering what their next ten years of marriage will hold. will they have children? will they make it through their struggles? will she look at her 40 year old husband’s grey hair and love him more than the day she married him? will she feel more comfortable in her own skin even when she doesn’t look so annoyingly perfect? i hope so….

funny enough, our journey here began with my husbands 40th birthday present. i only find it funny because i was comforting him before he turned 40 that we really aren’t that old. 40? that’s nothing! then I bring him here and our age is made abundantly clear…the lessons just keep coming!

new insight #2: don’t go on a tropical vacation after the start of hurricane season.

those small planes are a bit more terrifying when the weather is squally (my new word that means a squall is coming, spooky). fishing is a bit more challenging when you have to hide in a mangrove until the squally weather passes. laying out in the sun feels a bit like “relaxing” in a wind tunnel and sleeping to falling debris….well, let’s just say you should drink wine before bed.

BUT, we survived the flights (i needed a little help from a tropical liquid sedative), we caught fish (i caught more than david…ok ok, i used a spin reel and he used a much harder fly rod), we got a little bit of sun, we relaxed and we drank good wine. in the end, all was great!

new insight #3: you can gamble with chicken poop!

it’s true. it’s like the big gambling squares for the super bowl but instead your number is chosen by a crapping chicken. it gets better, if the chicken chooses your number you get to clean the square to receive your prize. so it’s up to you…here’s my old lady thought…do you pick up the possibly salmonella inflicted poop for $50 or give your number to the vacationing student?

new insight #4: only travel with friends who share your love of adventure, your passion for food and a similar sense of humor.

this, we had covered!!!

orthotics: a little extra support for our feet and maybe some cushion for our “souls” too as we discover we aren’t as young as we once were. . .ouch.

20110619-040725.jpg

20110619-041004.jpg

20110619-041111.jpg

20110619-041529.jpg

20110619-042454.jpg

20110619-042529.jpg

20110619-043024.jpg

Posted in shoes, travel | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

hiking boots required:

20110617-015141.jpg

it’s a long way from Belize city and doing good in the world; blancaneux lodge is tucked in the pine forest reserve not far from the jungles of belize and guatamala. it is beautiful, relaxing and far from civilization. There is wifi…IF you sit by the front desk but no connection to email. there is one computer in the back room with a connection similar to 1997 (no wonder email didn’t catch on until the connection was faster).

after picking up our husbands at the international airport, jj, tom, david and i made our very bumpy way to the lodge tucked in the jungle. we arrived to an entourage of flying termites and our malarone (malaria medication) quickly became an asset. after this enslave of bugs, we never felt swarmed again, phew, we were worried. surprisingly, we also never had rain. our rooms were beautiful: a private plunge pool, an outdoor shower, a screened in porch, nightly lit candles and a bed draped in delicate mosquito netting, it was amazing. there were no windows or doors, only screens, and minimal lighting. the restaurants were magnificent and the tours…amazing!

on our first full day there we took the strenuous hike to big rock falls. when they say strenuous, they are not kidding. they told us the hike would take an hour and a half unless we were in shape and then we could do it in under an hour…oh yes, the challenge was on! we completed the hike, after getting completely turned around at one point, in about an hour, darn it! despite our time defeat, the waterfall was beautiful and the high jumps into the pools made my heart beat faster than it was beating already! we played in the falls for hours and enjoyed a great picnic lunch. although we were tired from the hike and the swim, we were determined to get back in under an hour. it was grueling: midday heat, only a small amount of water and coming back was more uphill. but, despite the conditions, we made it with 15 minutes to spare! the rest of the day was lost to the pool, the adorable frogs, and too many foo foo drinks.

the next day started early with an hour and a half drive to caracol and the Mayan ruins. my words could never do the grandeur of the ruins justice nor could i capture the knowledge of our belizean tour guide, gilberto. belizeans are a rare group of people; the population of belize is a mere 300,000 but each individual is more a steward of their country and their history than the next.

our trip to blancaneux ended with an exhilarating ride (or better described for me as an anxiety provoking, lose sleep over ride) in a cessna caravan over the jungles and cities of belize and to our final destination: ambergris caye. let the hammock bound relaxation begin!

hiking boots: meant to help you see the world from a view less travelled. put them on often, it’s amazing the things you can find out about the world and yourself in hiking boots.

20110617-015242.jpg20110617-015354.jpg20110617-015455.jpg20110617-015545.jpg20110617-015735.jpg20110617-015913.jpg

20110617-020323.jpg

20110617-020436.jpg

20110617-020527.jpg

20110617-020627.jpg

Posted in shoes, travel | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

any shoes are perfect shoes for today…..

20110615-064819.jpg

the past two days have been some of the most memorable of my life.

andra and lindsey finally arrived, minus zoe; after the airport trauma zoe headed for home and was too emotionally drained to head back when andra and lindsey FINALLY found a good agent. we did pick up our fourth team member, jj. jj joined us late in the project but jumped in, raised money and came to help in any way she could.

four of us, a camera, and a clear determination to make this work…we finally found our optimism!

we were off to downtown belize city. a block in we found prince caspian descended from mayan royalty…wait a minute, nope just a guy looking for what he called “cheese”. three dollars later he was disappointed in us but still appointed us junior ambassador’s of belize. then we were adopted by a cackling man on a bike. he didn’t say much but rode beside us (fast or slow regardless of our side of the street) with a deep haunting laugh that was excruciatingly unnerving. upon reaching the bridge that leads into downtown, we felt a bit more at ease. well, for a minute. A sailboat that couldn’t get under the bridge decided to attach to it and one of it’s boaters (to hoots and hollers from his sea mates) began to climb up the bridge to where we were standing. i think despite our optimism and hope for a good shot, we were done. we turned back to our hotel and that endless walk. the skies opened up, as we quickly learn they do in belize. it was a gift to be sure. Under sheets of rain, we ran unbothered back to the dry safe haven of our hotel.

a few hours later, we climbed aboard our transport for the drive to belmopan, the capital of belize. the drive was absolutely beautiful. about an hour later, in a hidden alcove of the city, we arrived at the home of the us ambassador. we enjoyed dinner and drinks in the company of the first lady, mrs. kim simplis barrow, the us ambassador and his wife as well as dr. peter allen, deputy of mission. the first lady was both gracious and inviting. she applauded our work for belize and took time to give us an interview. we also connected with american airlines; they donated the shipping of the cure kits allowing the funds we had collected for shipping to go to the shipping of the container full of medical supplies. we also met melissa, the representative from crocs. crocs donated a pair of crocs for each cure kit we passed out. american airlines, crocs and the first lady are all interested in using our documentary, it was a wonderful start.

we woke the next morning excited and energized for our day. after almost two years of collecting 750 cure kits we were ready to distribute them. it is hard to imagine the day is here. we load on the bus with the rest of the people with project cure and we depart for karl heusner memorial hospital or khmh. once there we are taken on a tour of the hospital. there are areas of the hospital that are updated but most are without airflow and the beds and seats are damaged, many beyond usability. the children are heart breaking, especially the baby struggling to breath in the “asthma wing”, a hallway with three masks attached to a dirty wall. the current pediatric wing is hot and humid and the children lay lethargic in their beds. i am struck by the faces of the parents who seem helpless and tired, not so different from parents all over the world.

after the tour we are ushered outside to a waiting crowd of over 400 school kids. it is a moment of seeming contradiction, the children all in their uniforms sitting quietly awaiting a talk from the fist lady. a choir sings, hospital officials talk about both the kits and the ground breaking of the new pediatric wing, the adorable choir sings again. the head of project cure acknowledges all the people who worked so hard to start the pediatric wing, the people who funded the container full of medical supplies and our group who brought the boxes to the children. the first lady talks about the full circle project: “kids helping kids, it’s a beautiful thing”. i cry. is it really a contradiction, who are these children? where do they live? what happens if they get sick? a contradiction visually but the reality is, this is their best public hospital. really, this is amazing. amazing for everyone there and amazing because i know all the kids who filled these boxes, i know how hard they all worked…to have the people of belize connect to that is heartwarming.

then the moment arrives, the children receive their boxes, a pair of crocs and a cupcake. the children laugh and so do we. they hold their boxes gingerly and compare crocs. they are grateful, so are we.

One child said it best: “today is the best day of my life!”

any shoe: crocs, flip flops, athletic shoes, dress shoes. . .when you are watching children discover the joy of basic health needs, any shoe goes!

20110615-064934.jpg

20110615-065052.jpg

20110615-065217.jpg

20110615-065310.jpg

20110615-065333.jpg

20110615-065410.jpg

20110615-065434.jpg

20110615-065459.jpg

20110615-065931.jpg

20110615-070006.jpg

20110615-070102.jpg

Posted in full circle, shoes | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Darn converse…

driving to the airport today i was surprised to remember that this trip has been almost two years in the making. i felt calm and excited to finish what we had started so long ago. the airport mocked my calm and excited demeanor…….

an hour and a half check in line, a travel group ahead of me in security and with 15 minutes to get through the line and on my plane, i am randomly chosen for a shoe check. I have never even heard of a shoe check. it gets better….. my (supposed to be checked) bag has items over 3 ounces…..lots of them, all the things a girl needs to survive like toothpaste, shampoo, brand new face wash, on and on. ugh.

finally with 7 minutes to spare, i was off and running with a large bag behind me. i thought i was in shape, nope, again the airport mocks me. then it happens; i am wearing a strapless cotton dress that hangs to the floor and as i am heaving my heavy bag up the escalator, i catch the bottom of my dress and down the tube top comes. can you picture this? i am stuck with my dress falling down (my strapless bra stayed on thank god!) trying to get up the escalator and i can’t let go of my bag… it could kill the people staring at me from below…..seriously, it’s that heavy! i finish my ascent and with what calm i have left, i pull up my dress and continue my run to the farthest gate on the concourse…..”ha ha ha” the airport gods say “run….run to the farthest gate!” out of breath and out of steam, i see her in the distance, the airline lady. she is at the gate waving at me to run faster, my lungs are begging me to stop. but….i arrive.

as i get on the plane, i am missing my group, the camera equipment, and that calm excitement i had at 6am. it is replaced with a dry throat (from my unplanned exercise excursion) and a few butterflies in my stomach because i am alone. You see, we were heading to Belize to film a short documentary.

Let me catch you up:

two years ago 3 women, myself included, sat in a bar after an independent school conference wondering how our young children could grasp the idea of philanthropy. they collect items, they save money, they “give” to charity but what does it mean to them? how can a six year old grasp the good he or she is doing in the big world by collecting books or pennies? we wanted school aged kids to see their doing good in action. We decided we would make this happen. We asked two more women to join us and we delved into our strategic plan.

we called ourselves, full circle, and we made it our mission to help children see their giving in action even if they are too young to travel. we partnered with project cure, the largest distributor of donated medical supplies in the world and we helped them launch “cure kits for kids”. a “medicine cabinet” in a beautiful shoe box with the essentials we tend to take for granted: bandaids, tweezers, antibiotic ointment, etc. we chose belize as our destination for the kits (a country often viewed as simply a beautiful vacation destination, which it is, but they are also a poor country with substandard medical facilities and supplies). we then went into schools and talked with teachers and students about the project and more specifically about belize. we wanted to be sure the kids were educated about what they were giving to and why. we collected four pallets worth of life changing boxes and thousands of dollars in donations.

and then it was time; time to travel to belize, time to meet with their first lady, who is a longtime friend and supporter of the work project cure does in her country. it is time to give the boxes to the people who so rightly deserve them. this morning at 8:20am was the time.

time however was not on our side: the line, the disorganization of the airline (to remain nameless, although i would love to rat them out), the switching of flight times, the disorganization of the airline (oh, did i already say that????) led me to flying solo today without our video equipment. Let’s cross our fingers that upon landing someone else is heading this way. someone who knows how to film.

i had my pretty flats on this morning, not at all conducive to running! i changed them at the last minute to a pair of white converse. yikes, did i curse us? i have said before the shoes we choose in the morning often define how we feel in that moment and what we intend to do for the day….damn. i should have worn the pretty non running shoes!

i will keep you posted on this amazing journey.

converse: shoes meant for light activity, relaxing and feeling laid back. they can do double duty if they HAVE to. . .ugh

i am here! here are my first few photos of belize city…..

href=”https://theshoesiwear.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/20110612-093614.jpg”>20110612-093614.jpg

20110611-094513.jpg

20110611-094352.jpg

20110611-094155.jpg

Posted in full circle, shoes | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment