The best of times and the worst of times….

Family vacations. You got to love them. They truly are the best of times and the worst of times. My husband and I went on a family vacation last week with my sister and her family. We rented a beach house on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, just like we did last year. We had such a great vacation experience last time, we spent the entire year looking forward to going back. To make our vacation even more special, my sister and her fiance were going to get married on the beach in a small, private ceremony.

The first three days were great, even though it rained. Not the cleansing, refreshing kind of rain, but torrential, unrelenting sheets of rain. That was okay, because we were together, enjoying each others’ company. When we weren’t getting on each others’ nerves, that is. Eventually we got plenty of quality time on the beach in the pouring rain. After all, the whole point of going to a beach is to get wet, and we managed to do that quite well.

The rain finally stopped and the sun came out on the day of the wedding. The wedding that my husband and I nearly missed because we had to take their dog to the vet two hours before the ceremony. The closest vet was 45 minutes away, without traffic. Bless the vet and his wonderful staff; they knew we were on a tight schedule and they had us in and out in less than 30 minutes. That gave us plenty of time to wipe the dog drool off of us and shake off the dog hair before the ceremony.

We cooked a lot of our meals and ate in, which worked out great. Except for the end of the week, when we decided to make the chicken we had bought on the first day. Apparently, the chicken was less than fresh, and the menfolk drove the 45 minutes down the road (in the opposite direction of the vet’s office), to avoid the risk of salmonella poisoning. Dinner was saved! All we had to do was put it in the crock pot on low heat for a nice, home cooked meal after a day on the beach. Too bad we forgot to plug it in. Ah, well.

On the last day we went paddle boarding. It was a lot of hard work, but it sure was fun, and even very peaceful. As a matter of fact, it was so peaceful that we didn’t notice that we were slowly being swept out to sea. It took over 3 long hours to swim it in, dragging the boards behind us. I discovered I was in much better shape than I thought.                                                                                          

All things considered, we had a wonderful time. It was a fantastic family vacation, and full of the stuff that legends are made of. When we said our good byes and headed our separate ways, it was with some trepidation that my sister asked if we were up for joining them for vacation next year. I looked at her in amazement. I answered “Are you kidding? And miss out on all of this? No way!” I’m already looking forward to next year, and another great family vacation!


Feldenkrais and Grati-Shoes….

Two weeks ago I delivered my last donation of shoes for The Mountain Peace Shoe Drive. After two months of collecting shoes and offering discounts to my students for donating shoes, the final tally was 302 pairs of shoes! Mountain Peace is a domestic violence shelter and counseling center in Bailey, Colorado. Once the shoes were collected, they were to be sent to third world countries to help families get out of poverty and start their own businesses. Wow.

Wanting to contribute as much as I possibly could, and in an effort to spread the word, I offered $1 off the cost of my Feldenkrais classes for each pair of shoes a student donated. I expected a fairly good response, but nothing like the one I got.

Everyone dug deep into their closets, and I gave a lot of deep discounts for Feldenkrais in June and July. Some of my students got pretty creative. One of my them bought 25 pair of shoes at a garage sale for $5, and got a free class for her efforts. One of them hit up all of her friends and neighbors. One of my favorite Feldenkrais colleagues came loaded down with a huge bag of shoes that even included a pair of monkey slippers. My ballet friends cleaned out their dance bags and handed over ballet slippers, pointe shoes, and one pair of tap shoes.

In a moment of inspiration, one of them even took the shoes off of a woman in a shoe store. Okay, I’ll admit it, that was me. I just couldn’t help myself. When I told the woman about the shoe drive, she was so touched that she handed over her old shoes and wore her new ones home. After all, she had to break them in sometime.

For two months, the back of my car was full of shoes. Some were brand new, some were worn, and the rest fell somewhere in between. My car was began to take on a strange smell as all of that footwear lounged in the back of my SUV soaking up the hot Colorado summer sun. I spent hours sorting, pairing and bagging shoes. I was always fascinated at what I pulled out of the bags and boxes, and often squealed with delight at the treasures at my feet, so to speak.

One hot afternoon, while I was sorting shoes, it hit me. Hard. If I could get so excited about the shoes, boots, slippers and sandals that were donated, imagine how the people on the receiving end of these shoes would feel. These shoes could change their life. What a precious gift.

There is a lot of dignity in a pair of shoes. For someone who has nothing, a pair of shoes can give them confidence, self-respect, and the opportunity to stand on their own two feet. I am incredibly grateful to my Feldenkrais students, friends, colleagues, and ballet buddies who shared their enthusiasm, spirit, and shoes to make the shoe drive a success.

I heard that when people asked Moshe Feldenkrais what kind of shoes they should wear, he would answer, “All kinds.” Well, that’s certainly what we collected for The Mountain Peace Shoe Drive. Peace, and gratitude, to all of you!