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!