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One Foot in Front of the Other

December 3rd, 2011

I couldn’t figure it out. When I got up this morning, why did my feet, lower back and even my neck hurt? I hadn’t changed my workout, had not done any heavy lifting, and I slept in the same position I always did. So, why did I have this dull ache everywhere, even before I got out of bed?

Then I remembered. I wore a suit yesterday. All day. For more than 12 hours.

It’s not that the wearing of a suit itself creates pain. No, it’s the accessories: most notably, the footwear.

For 25 years my career—before I started Fork in the Road—was in the graphic design and advertising business. I was co-owner of a small but successful firm. We had clients scattered about the country, so I traveled a lot and I had become accustomed to dressing a particular way. Fast-forward to 2009 after I had left that profession to become a health and nutrition coach: entirely different work, totally different hours and way different attire, including the shoes.

You see I started my career in the early 1980s. Back then everyone in business “dressed for success,” and for women that meant skirts or pant suits and, invariably, high heels. I remember the early days in my first job: the first thing I would do when I got home at night was to kick off the damn shoes and those almost-as-excruciating control top pantyhose. (Why was I wearing control top anyway? I weighed 105 pounds! But I digress….). This went on for over three more decades. By the time we closed the advertising business, I had become so accustomed to heels that I could run through O’Hare or LaGuardia, even while schlepping heavy luggage. Having sore feet and a backache just became another of those things you endure without question.

But this isn’t a diatribe about women’s footwear or the value of orthopedics. I am writing this because what struck me—after I surmised the source of my recent foot and back soreness—was the whole notion of becoming used to living with pain. Not just pain: preventable and fixable pain.

This in turn led me to consider: since I had lived with self-induced physical discomfort previously, what in my current life—whether related to mind, body or spirit—might I be enduring unnecessarily? What am I blindly accepting as “that’s just the way it is” right now? Are there some emotional stilettos that I could easily trade for a cute pair of flats? Are there some bad habits I have that are giving me the equivalent of a spiritual bunion? Am I in any way shooting myself in the proverbial foot?

This topic may end up being something I spend more time exploring for myself in the New Year. Meanwhile, I invite you to take a walk in my shoes, so to speak. Look inward and ask yourself what’s keeping you from walking with a spring in your step?

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