May 15, 2016

My Zen Arrived in Red Shoes.

red shoes

There’s something wonderful about candy-apple red shoes.

Perhaps it’s Wizard of Oz nostalgia, or just the bright pop of the color against all the neutrals of every day clothes.

Recently, I was walking to work in my bright red ballet flats with a red vintage hat and a vintage dress featuring red ribbons on a navy and white polka dot background.

I knew that I would soon encounter the good-natured ribbing of my colleagues who by now should be used to my eccentricities in fashion and in life in general.

As I was walking, I thought about red shoes.

Perhaps this seems an odd direction for my thoughts. However, the night before I had attended Cirque du Soleil’s Kurios, and an audience member had been pulled on stage for a short act. My attention was immediately caught by her candy apple red stilettos. Even from my seat, I was drawn to those fabulous shoes, which were set off by her black and white ensemble. So it’s not unnatural that the next morning I would be drawn to my own red shoes and thoughts about red shoes in general.

I briefly considered clicking my own red heels together and uttering the phrase “There’s no place like home.” I thought that it would be a neat trick to be able to wish ourselves to another place simply from a click of the heels.

This lead me to another thought: Where would we go if we could magically transport ourselves elsewhere? Of course, a sunny beach scene comes to mind, complete with colorful drinks decked out in tiny umbrellas. Or a villa in Tuscany, drinking wine and dining fine. However, when the thought came to my mind, I realized that I was exactly where I wanted to be in that moment…taking a lovely walk on a beautiful day in an outfit that made me feel happy to be me. I felt completely present in the moment. In that place of mindfulness, I realized the beauty of being exactly where I want to be.

My zen walked in that day in red shoes. Perhaps contemplating red shoes on a spring day may not seem like everyone’s idea of zen, but it helped me center myself after having experienced several difficult days.

I had been experiencing strong mood swings and a sense of restlessness. Issues I had thought I had dealt with and had peace about came floating to the surface, and I found myself fighting the feelings rather than sitting with them and allowing them to come and go. This act of struggling with my own emotions actually made them stay so much longer and made them more difficult than if I had just accepted them.

Needless to say, with all of this going on, I felt very much tired from a lack of peaceful sleep, stressed by my own tumultuous thoughts and emotions and struggling to find my inner calm. Then I found myself distracted by the beauty of red shoes, and I followed the yellow brick path, if you will, of my thoughts to the importance of mindfulness and being where we want to be rather than wishing we were elsewhere. With this thought in mind, I was able to bring myself back to a place of contentment for who I am, where I am in my life and what I am doing.

Oftentimes, I find that I am moved forward on my path by the struggles that I experience. In the wake of being sad or lonely or angry, I may choose new behaviors, create new boundaries or even experience a surge of creative energy. For instance, I felt restless, confused, a bit angry, and a little lonely one moment and then I caught sight of a pair of terrific red shoes. In that moment of distraction, I was able to begin to move away from the negative energy of those feelings and back toward a place of peace.

In order to create our own zen, we must be mindful of our thoughts and feelings as they come and go. It’s interesting that we cannot be happy as long as we are pretending to be happy and ignoring issues beneath the surface. Experiencing the sadness and anger that are natural to our lives actually helps provide us with the happiness we’re seeking. We can acknowledge our thoughts and feelings without dwelling on them, and by paying close attention, we can live in the present moment rather than finding ourselves drained by the stress of worrying about the past or stressing over the future.

By existing in the now and practicing gratitude for our lives, we can find our way back to the peace we seek. Sometimes all it takes is a reminder.

The simple distraction of that bright spot of beauty in the day was enough to remind me that we choose our path.

We choose it.

It’s not chosen for us. Our choices can take us one way or another. We have the ability to choose and choose again, and it’s never too late to take a different path as long as our beautifully resilient hearts still beat and air moves through our lungs. We don’t have the ability to click our heels together and be somewhere else. Sometimes that would be quite convenient. We do, however, have the opportunity each day to choose to live our lives in a way that makes us happy to be right where we are at any given moment.

On a sunny day, resplendent in my red hat and red shoes, I chose to be happy in the moment I was given and in the words of Robert Frost, “That has made all the difference.”




Author: Crystal Jackson

Editor: Renée Picard

Image: Dana Voss at Flickr 

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