Shoes, Compassion and Authenticity.

Posted on May 18, 2012

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About 2 or 3 years ago my mom gave me a pair of Cole Haan shoes. They came wrapped in a silky bag and when I took them out, I must admit I was impressed by their beauty. The shoes were cream and chocolate brown with peep toes and a series of circles etched into the back of a delicate heel. Gold thread laced through the….fuck here is a picture- it’s easier.
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I’ve worn the shoes a handful of times to special occasions, slipping my largish feet into the narrow toe box and tottering around , careful to not scuff the toes or spill wine on them. I am in fact terrified of these shoes with their high-heels and expensive beauty. I am not built for them and I know one day the shoes will realize and exact their revenge in a tumble of epic proportions.

These Cole Hann shoes are kind of representative of my relationship with being ladylike. See my mother, god love her, has been trying to bore some kind of grace and feminine beauty into me from…uh…birth. I’ve always been a tomboy, climbing trees, fixing broken animals, sitting outside reading or running or…you know…what girls with no interest in nails or clothes do. My mom must have believed that as my awkward pre-teen years melted away I would become a fasionista in love with dressing my beauty in complimentary colors and fabrics.

It didn’t happen.

I wore studded belts and low slung jeans. I dyed my hair a rainbow of colors, smoked cigarettes and scribbled in poetry books. I read philosophy and drank heavily and when I grew up and shed my punky exterior – I fell into me , and every year has been another step closer to my authentic nature. Authentic self doesn’t wear makeup or care too much about hair or nails. Authentic self likes to run mountains, practice asana and dig toes in dirt. Authentic self likes to get sweaty and thinks “why would i put on mascara, it’s all going to sweat off” or “why would I wear designer clothes? They’ll get dirty when I sit down to stick my feet in a pond or wet when I decide to dance in the rain”. Authentic self loves flowing things and bold colors. Authentic self has T.S. Eliot tattoos and mala beads wrapped up her arms. She has leather wristbands that say things like, “It takes courage to become who you really are”.

Thank god my mom had 3 daughters.

My sister is beautiful and way into all the things I am not. Let me give you a little photo demonstration (she models so won’t care too much if I slap her picture up here)

Moi

Soeur

She is beautiful in a way that I never could be and that’s all right because it is her authentic self. Authentic sister wears 4 inch heels and loves it. She has perfected the art of the smoky eye and the pouty lip. She commands attention because of her beauty (mental and physical) and would fit well in an haute penthouse – greeting famous people and drinking wine from an expensive glass. She wears her beauty and owns it and it works because she has the courage embrace and be authentic in her skin… just like she has the courage to wear great shoes. * AS AN ASIDE – MY SISTER IS NOT A VAPID SHOE CRAZY HUSSY. SHE IS SUPER INTELLIGENT, FUNNY IN TOUCH WITH WHO SHE IS AND WELL…AWESOME.*

So what the hell am I getting at you ask?

This: Vulnerability, authenticity, compassion and courage. Yes. Shoes lead to all this in the twisting hallways of my gypsy mind. You see – Cole Hann Shoes are not my authentic self and in the same heartbeat they are a part of my sister’s authenticity. We embrace femininity, grace and living as a woman in this world from totally different perspectives…and that’s okay. Blood of my blood doesn’t mean that we have to act and react in the same way.

Recently I have been considering where sense of self comes from and most appropriately the self that I am meant to be. I listened to this super cool Ted Talk 20 a few times and it gave me this at a time when I‘ve begun scraping into my soul to learn some lessons. This talk resonated because it expressed so wonderfully what happens when people feel shame for being something they couldn’t ever possibly be (a fashion follower) and respond to it with fear.

Fear and shame stymie, disallow the authentic self to exist and unfortunately society asks that we do so – men and women alike- If you saw me walking down the street beside my sister wearing her beauty like a cloak and me wearing my love of nature equally as well – would this social interaction affect our individual self-image and in turn a fear shame cycle?

Should I feel like less of a woman for not being as beautiful as my sister?

Should she feel like less because she doesn’t live in tune with the universe like I do?

In essence it shouldn’t matter but it does when one chooses to let go of their most authentic nature to become someone else’s vision of authenticity. Kind of like my mom continues to gift me with beautiful shoes…the universe presses a certain type of existence – one that expects a certain amount giving in to the thrive and drive ideal. We are so vulnerable, to others and to our own shame to societal beliefs and it isn’t bad – it only feels bad because most of humanity expects that we should be perfect and impermeable. Watch the video link because Brene Brown explains it so beautifully – how we must be vulnerable to love and that we must be courageous to be imperfect and that we must know compassion to allow ourselves this openness, to know our own beauty and to live our most authentic lives. It’s pretty poignant stuff and …I guess made me think of shoes and who I am and where I am going and how much I love being open and alive totally my own person.

That’s all I got for now…maybe more on it later =)

Much love and spicy hot wings.

AH

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Posted in: compassion, Life, Love