Finding My Happy Feet.

“High heels are like a beauty lift. In a flat, you can feel beautiful, but a stiletto changes your mood, how you move – like a wild, beautiful animal. The idea was always to follow a woman’s wardrobe, her desires.”

Giuseppe Zanotti – Shoe Designer dedicated to providing women with “the most superlative shoes in the world”.

Confession time. While I’ve never fallen head over heels in love with a pair of shoes, I do have a thing for high heels. Indeed, since they’ve become the forbidden fruit, you could even call it an obsession.

Of course, I’m not the first person to believe high heels ooze sex appeal, a sense of fun, glamour and the promise of a glamorous night out. Indeed, anything but a night in with your cat watching re-runs of I Love Lucy.

Unfortunately, some of us are forced to hang up our stilettos long before our time. When even the Stiletto Queen has to hang up her sacred heels, and resort to (dare , I mention the unmentionable) SENSIBLE SHOES.  Or,  as my 11 year old daughter disparagingly calls them, “GRANNIE SHOES”. Whether through disability, accidents, chronic health, we’re left thankful to be alive, able to breathe and even move at all. As trivial as wearing pretty shoes might sound when you’re fighting for your life, they can also represent a broader sense of loss and grief after your life with all your grand plans and dreams, lands on the proverbial snake, instead of the ladder, in the game of life.

“You can’t understand someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.”

This is the path I tread. I started this journey in my mid-20s when subterranean hydrocephalus in my brain, suddenly became graphically symptomatic. It was hard going to rehab and learning to walk again at 26 when all of my friends were out partying, their careers were still soaring and my life was heading the other way. I’d packed up my apartment and moved back in with Mum and Dad and was off to rehab in very sexy tracksuits, joggers and mixing with the over 80s.

Thanks to surgery, ultimately I largely recovered from the hydrocephalus, but still experienced debilitating fatigue.Moreover, the neurons weren’t firing in quite the same way either. I was fine but not fine.

However, at 35, I developed dermatomyositis, a debilitating muscle wasting disease after our daughter’s birth. It took 18 months to diagnose and by this point, I was in dire straights. As soon as I was admitted, I was put in a wheelchair. That was my legs for the next couple of weeks, followed by a walking frame and loads of prednisone. Despair doesn’t even begin to touch the depths of what I experienced then.  Survival was all that mattered and I didn’t even hope to see my children grow up. That was simply somewhere too far over the other side of the rainbow. I couldn’t even go there. They were still babies and wouldn’t even remember me if I’d passed. Rather, there was only today, tomorrow and each and every day was precious…the sort of precious you hold onto no matter how big the storm, how high the waves. Your life and everything you value, is hanging on by barely a thread and you won’t let go.

“What you wear – and it always starts with your shoes – determines what kind of character you are. A woman who wears high heels carries herself very different to a girl who wears sneakers or sandals. It really helps determine how you carry yourself.”

Winona Ryder

Yet, ten years down the track when the pressure’s eased off a bit, my need for footwear has taken on an element of urgency. The pup chewed up my one good pair of sensible shoes. After trawling round a few shopping centres, I haven’t found anything suitable. Not unsurprisingly, sensible shoes for the younger generation aren’t in high demand. Moreover, as much as my daughter might call sensible shoes “grannie shoes”, there’s still a line. A line I still can’t cross. I can’t. I can’t. I don’t want to turn 80 before my time. Instead, I might just have to go barefoot.

“I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet”

― Helen Keller

So, with my shoe situation becoming desperate, I confess I muttered a prayer…a prayer for a pair of simply black shoes, comfortable, supportive and wouldn’t kill me. I wasn’t asking for luxury but something on your feet is a necessity, perhaps not quite in the vein of needing to eat but protecting your feet isn’t frivolous nonsense.

“I’ve spent $40,000 on shoes and I have no place to live? I will literally be the old woman who lived in her shoes!”

Carrie Bradshaw, Sex In The City


So, after that long preamble, perhaps you can now understand why I was so overjoyed when I spotted a pair of black, Louis Vuitton sandals in the local Vinnies charity shop. They were completely flat and fit me perfectly. I’m not even sure if they’d been worn. Time to do the happy dance, except wait, there’s more. There were also two pairs of luxury Italian leather shoes. These shoes would’ve cost around $3000 new, so I was overjoyed to pick up the lot for $35.00. One pair was a little on the small side, while the others have a small heel and I’m not exactly sure how far I’ll be able to wear them. I might need to use my walking stick or stay sitting down, but I don’t care. I’ll find a way. Find somewhere suitable to wear them, and I’ll be the phoenix soaring from the ashes of disability, chronic health and all efforts to make me old before my time.

By the way, ever the storyteller and writer, I also had to cast a thought about how they got there. Whose shoes was I walking in and where were they going to take me now?  We live round the corner from Pearl Beach, which is a bit of a millionaire’s hideout. It’s where Bill and Melinda Gates stayed when they were out in Australia, and its not impossible that they might have belonged to the likes of Nicole Kidman, Cate Blachette although Hugh Jackman might be too big a stretch. It might even be possible that Carrie Bradshaw and her enormous shoe collection migrated there after Sex In The City folded. Whatever, I hope whoever owned these shoes, led a good life and will share a bit of their sparkle with me. After all, I’m still trying to re-climb proverbial ladder, and reach back up for the stars.

Meanwhile, I’m giving thanks for such a spectacular answer to prayer, and I can’t wait to launch into the next chapter. Surely, it has to be amazing! After all, I’m a believer.

Have you experienced any miracles lately? Please share them in the comments.

xx Rowena

PS The featured image was taken at Circular Quay alongside Sydney Harbour.

15 thoughts on “Finding My Happy Feet.

  1. pensitivity101

    I miss my heels………….. mainly because wearing them at least my darts hit the board (honest!). I wear trainers now, flat, no frills, basic earth colours. They go perfectly with my joggers or jeans, and ideal for walking the dog. My utmost respect for your recovery.

  2. Rowena Post author

    Height is a funny thing. You either seem to have too much, or not enough. I am 5ft 10 (174 cm) and the same height as my husband. I actually managed to pick up a near new pair of Nike trainers at the same op shop yesterday and they have great arch support and I can see myself wearing them quite a bit, especially as the weather cools down.
    Thanks for the encouragement re my recovery. It’s much appreciated. You can never have too much encouragement!
    Hope you’re having a great weekend.
    Best wishes,

  3. pensitivity101

    I’m 5’7″, so a little shorter than you. I used to wear four inch heels though, finding them surprisingly comfortable! Times change as much as the directional (darts) arrows!

  4. IreneDesign2011

    I don’t remember, when I used heels last time, but I do remember, that I tried all of my shoes, because I should go to a huge party in the autumn and I was not able to fit into any of them. I went out and found a pair of smart black short boots, as are usable, just not for too many hours a time.
    I found out to search online for shoes, especially after brands where I know my correct size. I search for ergonomic shoes and then go through, what ever is possible to find. I don’t buy new shoes very often.
    You are doing great, one day a time, that is also what we have here and now. No one knows, if we will get more days. All good luck for you, Rowena.

  5. Rowena Post author

    I rememb er feeling quite comfortable in standard heels and running around the Sydney CBD at lunchtime. It feels like watching someone else’s movie these days!

  6. Pingback: Weekend Coffee Share – 18th February, 2018. | beyondtheflow

  7. New Journey

    I never liked heels, I had a pair of cowboy boots once, they were about as high as I dared go…LOL I did buy a couple pairs but never wore them…true they make you feel like a model on a runway, but in all honesty, the pain over the feeling of beauty never won out for me….barefoot and pregnant was my style LOL Birkenstocks and crocs are all that I wear now….I do love the look of the lovely red numbers…but just can’t do it….I lived in clogs in my younger years but with my bad knee the elevated heel won’t let me wear them….XX

  8. Rowena Post author

    Cowboy boots…a good friend of mine lived in Reno for about 10 years and has a thing for them. I’m even a bit concerned they might be a fetish.
    I went down to Sydney today for a doctor’s appointment and wore a pair of Nike joggers I picked up last week from my favourite shopping destination. Very comfy.
    I loved going barefoot too, like my Dad and am noticing that our son seems to be following in our barefootedness.
    I think you could have high heels as interior decor. Indeed, that could be the best use for them!
    xx Ro

  9. New Journey

    My sister always planted all her heals with succulents…LOL that’s about all they are good for….LOL my cowboy boots were my one and only pair…really liked them….but to old to deal with getting them on and off now….

  10. Rowena Post author

    That’s so funny planting succulents in high heels and I love it.
    Know what you mean about trying to get shoes on and off. Love going barefoot.

  11. Rowena Post author

    Knew you were bonkers, although if you’d seen me in Sephora today, you’d be saying “right back at you”. I think I’m finally learning to let myself go. I put on some mauve lipstick and Miss was wearing cobalt blue. it felt like playing dress ups all over again.

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