Friday, April 22, 2016

When life has you in 'Check' and your head's stuck in a bucket


Note that this is my belated Easter post I wrote at the beginning of April.



 It rained a few nights ago, and the earth is still wet, moist, dark, and ready to unearth the miracles of spring, ready to reveal the hidden seeds deep inside of it.

            Spring.

It is a word often used to evoke the meaning of new birth.

A new time. A new age. Something alive, and awake.

            Spring.

            Hence the reason for this blog post. I just felt like it was time to grow some new words---Sprouts, ideas I want to convey.

            Over the Easter weekend, I contracted the flu, something I'm sure I contracted from my sister who also got the flu.

            The beginning signs of said flu were as follows. I started sneezing. Then towards the evening, my nose swelled up, and water came pouring fourth out of my nose.

            Then came the drippy, drippy miserable, sinus pressure. You know what I mean. Headache, sore throat, watery drippy eyes, aching ears. At such times I really do wish I had something to knock me out---something to "Rip Van Winkle" me away until I felt better, and then I could resume life when the worst had passed.

            But there's no such luck in this mortal life.

            Suffer we must.

            I'd say that it stinks, but when you can't smell to good, it mostly feels like your head is going to explode.

            I used my sick time to lay in bed, and hot pack my face with a water bottle, which helped a great deal, and also Cumin tea, along with salt water rinses for my nose.

            I also made sure to sequester myself to my room, with the window drawn, so as not to infect my brother, and his kids who came down over the weekend. So I lived in a cave of sorts, feeling rather sorry for myself.

            It did not feel like spring.

            Not at all.

            It felt like the season of limo blah.

            I used this time to re-discover the amazing qualities of my modern day gadgets, such as my ipod and tablet. Now there's a world of wonders for you. Seriously.

Who knew you could connect yourself to the entire universe at a click of a button. Just a app download away from games, books, ideas, and more information than any one mind can contain.

            I found solace in playing chess with the computer. Actually, solace is NOT the right word. Torment is more like it!

            I would like to know who----what clever soul has beaten the computer at chess, without clicking undo a million times?

            Maybe you have because you are especially clever. In that case, you should go play chess with my sister who is equally clever.

            I made sure to click the "Play a casual" game. But no. The computer does not play causal. Not so. It does not make emotional moves, if one of its pawns is in danger, it makes correct, logical, calculated, planned moves. At every turn, it seemed this computer knew my next move. It was aggressive, and seemed to laugh in my face, and insult my brain's computing powers.

            Chess.

            I didn't think I could get so worked up over such a game.

            Thank heaven's for the undo button.

            It's cheating, I know.

            But it at least gave me some hope of winning.

            Even if my win wasn't a real win.

            Somehow Undo made me feel a little better---or worse. I'm not sure which.

            Chess.

             A game where you must see ten-hundred steps into the future, must see how one move can effect the entire board. A game where you must look for all the possible outcomes of your choices.

            But sometimes no matter how hard you look, sometimes you can't see the traps your opponent has planned for you. Sometimes it's all you can do to keep on playing, even when you feel like you've already lost the game.

            Summer, winter, autumn, Spring.

            I can breath now.

            Lots better.

            Seasons change.

            Life goes on.

            And so the game of chess continues, no matter the season, or age. We move our little pawns, in hopes of reaching the other side, and trading ourselves in for better versions of ourselves.

            We want to keep the King safe. We want to win.

            The Bishops have a lot of power.

            So do the knights, and the castles.

            But the queen. She's the one who can move in every direction.

            And when we feel like we can't move in the directions we need to go, we don't feel like it's spring. We feel trapped.

            We feel like we've lost.

            We feel stuck.

            Cornered, in Check.

            Lost to the powers that be.

            Frustrated by our lack of foresight, of planning of , the things we couldn't possibly foresee.

            Life.

            Chess.

            Spring.

It's weird. But we keep on playing the game. Because, that's what we do.

            We may want to give up.

            We may even want to undo something we've done.

            But in life, the only undo button we have is Christ.

            He is our inheritance, our future. He abolishes our past mistakes, and makes our winter into spring. He is the manna in our desert.

            It's something I sometimes forget.

Right after being sick, I felt especially in the pity pot. Which is way too easy for me to do, especially when I get over tired, and weighed down, and things don't go the I want them to, when I do everything in my power for something to go a certain way, and still things don't work out.

            That's how I felt just a few days ago.

            I felt angry, and frustrated, and downright sad. I mean, when you work hard on something, really, really hard, and things just don't go the way you wanted them to, when things don't take off like you had envisioned.

            That's when I just want to scream at the wall and say,  "I quit! I don't want to play anymore!"

            When life doesn't give you the rewards you thought you earned.

            When you plant seeds, you water them, you guard them, you sing to them, you let the sun shine on them, you work the ground----yet the seeds just sit there.

            And you shake your head, waiting for your seeds to produce fruit, a flower, anything---something tangible that you can see, touch, smell, and get a harvest from. Then there are the times, when you work hard hoeing your garden, putting in all the work, and your seeds produce beautiful fruit, and someone else takes the credit.

            Someone else gets awards for the fruit, for the seeds that came up in your garden.

            Ouch!

That really hurts. What kind of unfair game is this we wonder?

            Spring.

            Where is it?

            I thought....

            When the clouds rain down snow, and frost, you look up at the sky and wonder, what kind of trick is being played on you.

            What season is this?

            Is there really a spring?

            Do I make a difference?

            Do I matter?

            Is the work I do worth it?

            Is it?

            Will anything I do produce fruit?

            Will the seeds I plant ever flower?

            Those are the questions that haunt us in such times.

            Our want of reaching the other side of the board crowds out our love of the game, the joy of the journey, and the growth we ourselves gain from not always winning. As we play through or losses and wins we learning how to be a better player, regardless of the outcome.   

            That is something I was reminded of the other day, while watching a Joyce Meyer talk. She said something along the lines that, God cares more about our growth, than us getting everything we want.

            Bomb shell.  God cares more about my growth, not just me getting what I want when I think I deserve it.

            He wants me to grow. And growth is the foundation of real true happiness? To grow and be better than I was before?

            I found this in my readings the other day. It was something I really needed to hear.

"Anything we have to have besides God to keep going is something the devil can use against us."---Joyce Meyer.

           

            It really struck a chord with me. Because I realized that what I wanted was getting in the way of me having faith, of me continuing onward. When you don't get your desired results after putting in the work, it tries your motives, purifies and tests your soil, to see if you will even bother planting again.

            When starting out, it's easy to say, "I'm doing this because I love to plant. Planting is so much fun. I'd do this all day, even if nothing comes up."

            Oh, I swear, anytime you say those words, the devil's like, "Okay, let's just see about that."

            It's easy to eat strawberries, and gather in lushes ripe fruit.

What's not easy is watching your neighbors eat red, ripe, strawberries, while you, eat dust, and cut your hands on salt grass working your own soil. Sometimes our wants (especially if they are not always fulfilled when we want them to be) can be huge stumbling blocks. 

            Sometimes our wants can be so demanding, so loud, that they drown out the voice of truth, and blind us from seeing the things we have been blessed with, with the seeds that do grow, with the space you have been blessed with, and the peace of your own, simple garden.

         
   Sometimes our desire to be married by a certain age can make us marry wrong person. We can want things, and want them bad, so badly that it diminishes our spring into cold cobwebs, and icy frost. The picture above is of my goat who wanted the grain inside the bucket so much that she stuck her head through the broken bucket lid, without waiting for me to give it to her when I thought she should have it. The result was that she was miserable, and she was very stuck. The other goats around her began bunting her, and she ended up wandering around the barnyard confused, and frightened, stumbling around moving in such erratic movements that it was very difficult for me to get her to settle down to get the bucket off her head.
      When I finally did manage to get hold of the bucket. I lifted it up and tried to pull it off her head, but that slight motion caused a few bits of uneaten grain inside the bucket to drift into her line of sight, and instead of her wanting to get her head unstuck, she dipped back down, and began frantically eating the teeny bits of grain she wanted so badly. 
        
         It wasn't until all the grain was gone, that she began to want out again, and I was able to get her the help she needed. 

        Sometimes we remain stuck because the 'teeny, weeny bits of grain' the things we have to have, the things we want no matter what, keep our heads stuck, and we stumble around looking doofy, and miserable. 
       All the while, the whole problem could have been avoided had we waited patiently for the right time. 
And no, I don't mean, you shouldn't go after what you want. I do believe you should be diligent in perusing your goals. But I also believe that sometimes the things we want, like the grain bucket, can be a trap, if we do not wait for the "Master" to give it to us in do time.
 
       Otherwise the things we want, the things we have to have, can become our greatest stumbling block.

  We want to be admired, or respected, or known, or seen for the good things we do, and in effort to make it so, we may prematurely lose ourselves in the bargain, sell out too quickly, lose our authentic voice in order to make our wants happen on our timetable, not Gods.

            God wants us to grow, and sometimes that means that not all the things we do will grow in the timetable that we want them to, because he wants us to be gardeners that can garden in rough weather, through storm, spring, autumn, fall, no matter the season. And sometimes that means a small harvest, bugs, pests, wind, and rain, drought, floods, and tempests. But we hate stuff like that. I hate it. I want to foresee into the future. I want to know how fast I can win, how many moves until I get to the other side of the board. I want to have the control. I want to watch my seeds come out of the ground, and make sure that they grow like they should.

            I want to look at the calendar, and know exactly when everything will turn out in the end. 

            I don't want any of this unforeseen potato bugs, or tomato worms clogging up my life.

            When we play the game of 'life---of chess,' "We don't want to be in "Check."

            No!

            Double No!

            Triple and quadruple NO!!

            But God, says, "Yes." Because he wants a harvest too. Sometimes being put in "Check" is the only way God can get our attention, and make us turn from our desire to protect our castles, and kingdoms, to turn our attention the true King of Kings.

            Better than just us reaching in the other side, or outsmarting our opponent, he wants us to find joy in the game---to master ourselves. I believe that he wants us to play like we know every part ourselves, the board, the pieces, the soul, the soil, the seeds, the dirt, so that we will have won, even before we started.


            We will have mastered the game, because we have mastered ourselves. 


Spring will be inside us, no matter the season. We will be full, because he has filled us. So that when we are faced with the line of buckets full of opportunities---things we want, that we won't just stick our head recklessly into any ole' bucket because it looks like there's something really good inside it. We will be able to carefully, and intentionally choose the 'buckets' in our own life, and what not to
stick our heads into, because our own bucket will be so full, that we can take and give of ourselves, freely, like he gives to us. We will be able to partake of the good things in life, not barreling into all the grain buckets just because we can, and want to, because we are so starved, and think that one bucket we see in front of us is the only bucket of good we will ever get. 

        We will wait patiently, fill our own bucket from the source, in his timetable, so that our wants will not entrap us, or make us lose sight of what is truly important.
           Buckets come in all shapes and sizes, some with lids on, some with lids broken and sharp so that when you stick your head in, your head becomes trapped inside. There are some buckets with holes in, some that are cracked, and can't hold anything. Some buckets made out of strong metal, others out of brittle plastic, some buckets that are large, and can fit an entire person inside, some buckets that are un-labled, others with good things inside, and some with poison.


Whatever bucket you are faced with in the game of life, be it full or empty, remember to think twice about what you're sticking your head into, because the most formidable opponent we will ever face in this game of life. Is. Ourselves. Period.

             
                                   
            
           
       

Sunday, April 10, 2016

My two year review of Vibram Five finger Toe Shoes





A lot of controversy has been thrown up at the mention of these shoes. They've had a lot of bad media, and I find it sad that the black check mark on these shoes deters people from buying something that would be a great pleasure and benefit to them.
                       

   I honestly don't think there's any item I have ever owned that I've enjoyed more than these shoes.



Simply put. I. Love. These. Shoes. Period!



They are the best thing that have happened to my feet. The absolute best! I want pair for Sunday, for work, for play, for running, and winter boot vibrams, if any exist. I seriously love them!

            My sister was the first one who braved buying these shoes. She raved about them, but I couldn't get past the idea that my toes had to be confined into separate little compartments. I hated the idea that wearing such shoes meant that I had to encapsulate them in little tiny toe holes, and squeeze them into weird-glove socks.

            That thought stopped me from even considering wearing them. Nope. I told myself. Not going to try them. I knew I wouldn't be able to stand them.

            I thought wearing them would be horrid, and uncomfortable, and weird. Not to mention they are really odd looking.



            So I passed on wearing them because of my stubbornness.



Then, because of my knee troubles, I began looking for better shoes. I tried moccasins, they worked out pretty well. They were comfortable, soft, and fit my foot nicely. But for running shoes, they wore out fast. Too fast.


  I tried Nike air bendy shoes, and they made my knee hurt terribly. They had a really high heel, and heels were very hard on my knees. 




Then I decided that I'd try a flat heeled Vibram New balance shoe, that had the nice Vibram insole, with no heel, and no weird looking to compartments.

 
These shoes were the second best shoes I've ever worn. I used them until they wore out. 
I'll say right now, if you can't stand the thought of wearing Vibram five finger shoes, they are a pretty good alternative. The only con, is that with this particular shoe, the cloth they made it with, ripped way too easily. The cloth wore out too fast. The sole outlasted the top of the shoe, so I kept on wearing them until they began to make me look like a homeless person.  They were well-loved, and it took me a long while to finally trash them.

         
   My family thought they looked liked poverty shoes, and rightly so because they did. They looked like hobo shoes. But I liked my hobo shoes, and they liked my feet. They had been on many journeys with me, many miles, and many places. Finally, after doing a photo shoot of them, I was able to send them to the "Happy Running grounds," a place where all good, worn out shoes go.

           

        
 So, because my bestest most favorite shoes, thus far, had run out of life, I decided to be bold, and try something new and different so I bought a pair of Vibram five finger toe shoes.

  The first pair I ordered came a size too small, because I honestly didn't understand the sizing. I thought I was a size 39, which translates into US sizing as 7.5 which I wasn't, because I'm a size 8 1/2.

            Knowing how to buy the right size is a big thing to consider when buying shoes online, especially when sizing is different than US sizing.

           
I'm a size 8 1/2 which would translate into a size 40 or 41 depending which style you choose. I also sometimes wear the men's vibrams which also translates into a size 41. If you go to this sizing chart for vibrams, you're more likely to get the right shoe size when you buy them online.  Here's the website it will really help you when buying vibrams: http://www.craigsshoestore.com/service/vibram-fivefingers-sizing/

           

            After educating myself on sizing, I ordered another pair of shoes, and bought the right size this time. And they fit perfectly. Note that if you buy the vibrams with the Velcro strap, getting them on and off is ten times easier than if you decide to buy the older brand of vibrams, which are very, very hard to get on. 
      With these newer Vibrams it's a breeze. It is a little different than putting on normal shoes at first, but after while, it becomes second nature. I don't even think about it now.

            I had prepared myself for the weird feeling I thought would come when having my feet encapsulated in each little toe compartment. But it was oddly, very comfortable. It didn't bother me one bit.

            Now, putting on the socks is a little more slow, but you get used to that as well.



The first thing I noticed when wearing these shoes that I felt very grounded, and balanced. They made me feel confidant, and walk taller. They made me feel ready to stand my ground, which is a
good feeling to have. 

The second thing I noticed when wearing them were the fantastic textures of the ground. They felt delicious on my feet. I found great pleasure walking in soft earth, sand, and even firm mud. Wearing them made me feel like a kid again. I found myself going out of my way to step on new surfaces just to feel the texture beneath my feet. The shoes have wonderful grip, and being able to use my toes to dig into the ground as I hiked up mountains gave me great stability to climb up steep hills.
      One of my favorite pleasures when wearing these shoes is to walk through a dry stream beds, hopping from rock to rock.

            In these shoes, I end up going out of my way to hike up places I normally wouldn't go.

           

            It was funny because I enjoyed these shoes so much when first wearing them, my subconscious must have been greatly affected because I had a dream that I sprouted an extra big toe, alongside my original big toe. And that my feet were spreading out so much they looked like a monkeys. I asked a person in my dream if it was normal for me to be growing an extra big toe, and they were like, "Yes. It's about as normal as someone growing wisdom teeth. Everyone starts growing them at your age."



            It would be funny, except it's true. No, I haven't grown a second toe. But my feet have spread out a bit.



            I bought my first pair of Vibrams in Aug 23, 2014. And I've loved them ever since. I've gone through a few pairs, since. It's been two years now, and my feet have spread out a lot more than what they used to be, and so has my sister's feet. Not a ton, but enough to make me not want to wear my other older pairs of shoes, that are narrower, and now pinch my toes. 

            I also have one foot that is bigger and one foot that is a little smaller, so my toes are so much happier in vibrams, because I can stretch my baby toe in its normal range of motion.

   So that is another thing to consider when buying these shoes. Your feet are like plants. If kept in a smaller pot, they will get root bound. If given a bigger pot they will spread out and expand.  Scary thought for those of you who like ittle bitty toes.    



            I've had two years to think about and test these shoes in all kinds of terrains.  Below I've created a list of the pros and cons of these shoes, in hopes that you can make an informed decision when considering buying Vibram five finger toe shoes.



  • Pros:
  • 1. These shoes are very light, it's like you're not wearing shoes at all. They make me feel agile, and ready to sprint.
  • 2. I love how they make me feel more grounded, and balanced.
  • 3. I like the fact that my foot can respond to whatever I step on. My feet have gained a lot of muscle since wearing them. 
  • 4. The shoes are super comfortable, and I'm amazed how soft they feel for having zero padding.
  • 5. They feel especially wonderful when walking on sandy earth.
  • 6. They have great traction, so long as they aren't worn out.
  • 7. They build new muscles in your feet and legs.
  • 8. They help you have better balance.
  • 9. They make you feel more confidant.
  • 10. They are great for running. But not a total cure for knee pain. But they do help, lessen the stress on your knees especially when hiking.
  • 11. They are super bendy, and nave a wonderful flat heel.
  • 12. They work great as water shoes.
  • 13. They can easily be tossed in the wash if they get dirty or stinky.
  • 14. They let your foot bend in is natural range of motion, giving you more freedom and agility.
  • 15. These shoes the best conversation starters around, everywhere I went, people would look at my funny shoes, and ask me about them. And because I love these shoes I have no problem talking about them.
  • 16. (This is a pro-con) The shoes are so light, and comfy you'll feel very sad when you have to wear regular shoes. The other day, I was hiking where there were lots and lots of little cactus patches growing everywhere on the ground, so I decided to switch to thicker hiking shoes, because I ran into some cactus the previous week in my vibrams, and the spines went through my shoe---probably more so than they normally would have because the soles are very worn, and I need to buy a new pair.
  • 17. They are slick to slick off.
  • 18. They help you lose weight. How could shoes make you lose weight you might ask? Well, I'll tell you, they make you want to get up and dance. They make you want to move more. And because you move more you'll burn more calories.
  • 19. Their heels aren't thick, but they are tough, and will last you quite a while--depending on what kind of terrain you're walking on, and how much you use them. 
  • 20. Some people who have diabetes, and are trying to get better circulation their feet also find vibrams their shoe of choice.
  • 21. Overall, I just love these shoes!


           



Cons---I don't want to say anything bad about them. But there are cons, especially hazards you need to be aware of when wearing them.



  • 1. They can make your feet and legs sore at first, especially if you have been wearing padded, thick-soled shoes. The longer you've been wearing hard-stiff shoes, the longer I think it will take for you to get used to vibrams, which have a very thin sole, and pretty much zero padding. These shoes will give you a work out in muscles you may have never worked before. So start out slow with these shoes, maybe wear them a few hours at a time. Also they also don't really have any arch supports, because these shoes are supposed to help you build the muscles in your arches naturally. 
  • 2. If you don't wear socks along with these shoes, they can be the most slinkiest, sweatiest, smelliest, shoes you've ever owned. My sister went bare toed in them because she didn't want to fork out the money for toe socks. And let me tell your right now, buy the socks! We found some pretty good prices for toe socks on ebay, and I'm telling you, it'll save your shoes, and your feet from smellage, and your ego from having people think you smell like the garbage been. 
  • 3. You also have to be more aware of where your foot is placed when wearing these shoes, because normal shoes don't bend when you step on rocks. So you have to build up new muscles, and be careful with your ankles because your foot has to learn to respond differently than what your used to, so you don't roll your ankle.
  • 4. One of the worst hazards of these shoes is the fact that it's very easy to trap cords and various objects unawares between your toes. I've been hiking and come home with lots of weeds, and leaves protruding from between my toes. You can catch your toes on roots, and weird random objects. I remember sitting at my computer, and nearly pulling the laptop to the floor because my toes caught the cord between them.
  • 5. These shoes are great for some types of hiking, but if you're going to be on boulders that shift and move, your feet will be in danger of being crushed by rocks. I know because I've nearly had my tooties mashed. Note that the top of the shoe is pretty much cloth, so it's not ideal for real foot protection especially in dangerous environments, where there are snakes, or if you're going to be lifting heavy objects.
  • 6. This particular brand of Vibram shoe will freeze your feet in cold, rainy, snowy weather, especially if you live in colder climates. I've worn these in all types of weather, and can attest to the sad fact that while wearing these shoes, that if the ground is cold, your feet will probably be cold. I'm really wanting to find an affordable pair of vibrams that work for winter wear, that don't get water logged, or freeze your tootsies off.
  • 7. They will wear out, just like any shoe especially if you're
    Wearing them when they are worn out means they won't function like they should, they heel will peel away from the toe. And their soft skin on top makes them prone to puncture, including the sides of the toe capsules. So if you're walking in sticky terrain, beware. I've ripped holes in several of my toe holes on rough sticks.
    wearing them every day. And when they're worn out, you must take note that their traction goes down. And when they're worn out, you should buy a new pair. The pictured pair have been greatly worn, and used by me for a long time. So I actually think they are in pretty good condition considering where I've taken them.
  • 8. They are shoes you must use with smarts, know what you're going to be doing when you're wearing them. If you're going to be standing on a hard, cement surface for hours on end, I'd recommend buying yourself a good pair of Birkenstocks that have good support for your feet and arches especially when standing for long hours. Vibrams were made to be used in the outdoors on soft ground, to help give support for your feet. Your feet will scream at you if you wear them when standing stationary for long periods of time on hard, man-made surfaces.This I also can attest to.



            The truth is, most of the cons of wearing these shoes come about not because of the shoes themselves, but because I've worn them in all types of weather, and all types of conditions---conditions that were not all that smart to wear them in. They are not ideal for working on the farm when you're working around heavy or dangerous objects. Having a goat step on the soft part of the shoe is like having it step on your raw foot. Ouch! Or climbing a fence and having your toe catch on it, and bend it backwards. (Ouch)

           

            Since August of 2014 I'm still on my second now very worn-out pair.


Because I've worn them past their expiration date, It's hard to really tell when you'll actually have to buy yourselves a new pair once your old pair wears out. My guesstimate is that six months to a year is how long they will last, depending on how much you use them. I'm pretty hard on my shoes.

           

That may seem like a short time for a pair of shoes, but if you think about it, anything really good in life usually goes bad faster, take for instance the shelf life of butter, vs, margarine, or a Twinkie vs your favorite homemade chocolate chip cookie.

  
Good things have to be renewed. Always.

            Yes, it's a bummer. But that's life.

            Let's consider the alternative, you can buy yourself a pair of shoes that don't bend, that have horrible thick heels, and will last longer than your feet, knees or joints will.

            Our you can buy something that your feet would outlast. 
        

    If I had kids, I'd start them out wearing moccasins, or vibrams. I cringe every time I see kids wearing stiff, board shoes that make it so they can't bend or move. It's no wonder they like to throw off their shoes every chance they get.



            I would seriously love to see more verities of shoes like these, and I'd love to try out some winter versions of them. I'd also like to see modified versions of vibrams with more protection when hiking, that covers above the ankle. 

(Post update) After shopping around I'm happy to report that there are various vibrams specifically designed for hiking and other sports, you just have to refine your search.

Winter-ish lookingvibrams http://www.6pm.com/vibram-fivefingers-lontra-grey-pink-black?zhlfid=139&kpid=30090013 

And just another useful looking buying guide. You should also be aware there are a lot of knock offs that are not real vibrams. http://www.builtlean.com/vibram-five-fingers/http://www.builtlean.com/vibram-five-fingers/

           

            I've tried to convince my mom of how wonderful these shoes are, and maybe in time, she'll want to try them. But in the meantime, she's opted for a flatter, sports-type of wresting shoe that gives her a lot more flexibility and balance, which is very important for older people. So I'm happy that she's using a shoe that works for her.

           

            And that's what you should should do to when you are buying a shoe. It's good to know what kind of shoe you will need for your lifestyle, and your physical needs. I have a neighbor who got into the shoe selling business because he lost a couple of his toes in an accident, and from then he's become a very educated 'sole' about the science of shoes and feet. He was a very interesting person to talk to. He helped out with my sister's scoliosis and her fallen arches, which in effect helped her back problems. He taught us about the importance of having shoes that bend, and how shoes can effect your whole body.

            The doctors said that the only thing that would help my sister's back was to have surgery. They said that the types of shoes my sister wore wouldn't effect her back, and that modifying her diet wouldn't help cure her scoliosis---but they were wrong.

            She was experiencing a lot of pain when playing her violin because of her back problems, and now because she's improved her diet, and changed her shoes, and built up the muscles in her feet and back, her back pain has decreased a ton. She wore Birkenstocks to build up her arches, and then began wearing vibrams, along with eating lots of raw eggs, switching from margarine, to butter, cutting out gmos, and eating fermented foods.  It's really a miracle how much her health, and her back has improved without an operation. Her back isn't completely straight, but her quality of life is so much better.  Who would have thought just changing a few things could help so much.



             So there you go, the power of shoes, and changing your diet. These shoes may not be for you. And the truth is, they aren't for everyone. But I do believe they are a wonderful shoe that has given me and my sister a lot of pleasure.



            Everywhere we go people ask us about our shoes, which I think is funny because it seems you would think that they wouldn't be such a novelty and  more people would know about them by now. But I guess not.

            I wore them on stage once while singing with my sister, and after our performance a woman came up to me, pointed to her feet and said with excitement in her voice, "Look, I have the same kind of shoes!"

             Normally that wouldn't mean much, but because these shoes are very unusual to the world, it instantly makes you feel bonded to perfect strangers, connected by shoes. It's like you belong to a league of good 'soles' who are open minded--some sort of weird running cult who've walked not over fire, but over miles of beautiful fields, connected to the raw real earth.    

            I've had people come up to me, out of the blue, and start talking about our shoes. It's really quite funny. To think that shoes could spark such a 'movement.'

            We are a guild bonded through our shoes. 



I think all runners, and adults and children alike who want more flexibility, long term joint health, and good balance, should give these shoes a try. Note that these shoes, just like all new shoes will take a while for you to get used to. I think, for most adults, who've been wearing shoes that do not bend, the longer it will take for their legs and feet to get accustomed to wearing them. That is the reason, I believe why so many of these shoes end up on ebay barely even used.

           

            Vibrams are amazing. That is just my humble opinion which may differ in your case, and your running, standing, walking needs. I've worn these shoes in all kinds of weather. I've walked in them through rain, slush, warm, and cold weather, soft and hard ground, rock, sand, and dry sandy deserts.

           

            This is my two year review of these shoes. I'm sure I can think of a lot more things to say while I'm off hiking, or running.
 Suffice it to say, I really think these shoes will make your feet Happy!







     If you liked this review, and think it might be helpful in any way to someone you may know, please spread the word, and become part of the guild of happy feet, and kindred 'soles'



If you're interested in learning more about your shoes effect your  body, here are some really good articles I've found that are very intriguing, and helpful.






Thursday, March 24, 2016

When Synchronicity crows at you.


I have a confession.

Ever since I learned that my family has deep Bi-polar schizophrenic tenancies, and roots that go way back through our family tree, I've been a little, (okay a lot more) skeptical about any thing that sounds a little bizarre, or not explainable, or hyper spiritual, or anything too fantastic. My family genome is especially good at spotting patterns. You could say it's in our blood. And when I say bipolar-schizophrenic tenancies, I mean it.  I don't throw those words around lightly, like I've seen people use them around the internet, riding some popular mental illness wave, as an excuse for their moods.
For me and my family, this stuff is real---in technicolor and shadow real.
And because I know how real it is, I view the world a little more softly, and people in it with more compassionate eyes, because who knows, we all could be a bit crazy. And the crazy, weird, mean, odd, the things we do may be just a byproduct of our messed up malnourished bodies and minds.
So anything that seems----odd, well I make sure to inspect such happenings with logical eyes. I have to. I guess that would make me into somewhat of a realist.
Yeah, I know. But you're thinking, whoa, sister, you're an author. Someone who makes up fantastic stories for a living---so why are you dissing on the fantastical side of life?
True, I am an author of fiction.
But truth is stranger than fiction.
It is.
And I'm not dissing on the impossible. I just do a double take of it, just to be sure. Though, one can never be really, really sure about too much of anything, because the more I know, the less I seem to know about anything.
Yet despite this, despite my aversion to the mystical land of superstitions, and the realm of the unexplained, I openly admit, that I who am Miss research it out first, acquired a superstition or something, I'm not sure if I'd even call it that, but ever since I had my accident with my elbow, I've been witness to synchronicity. According to wickipedia, synchronicity basically means, "meaningful coincidences" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synchronicity 
That's what's been happening to me.
I'm not even sure if that's what I've been witness to. Or if I'm just going off the deep end. Or if I've just been looking for meaning in everything, and I'm finding it because I want to find meaning because I need to find meaning---just like the time I became the owner of a white car, I saw white cars everywhere, because I was more conscious of white cars.

Who knows?
So what are these synchronicitys-ies that have been happening to me, or however you say it?  I'm rather embarrassed to even voice them. Because...well it seems really silly. They are. Truly. Very silly. But because they are so silly. I have to write them down, and let you judge how silly they are for yourself.
I'll write my weird down, so you can laugh at me. And I give you permission to do so. Go ahead, laugh loud.  I'm laughing at myself. 
Okay,
So when I injured my arm, I'm not sure if I told you that the real reason why I was even dashing across the log, that flipped me onto the ground, was because I first spied  a large flock of crows (a Murder of Crows is what their technically called) circling in the sky, over our chicken coop. I had my face turned to the sky, while I was frolicking across the log, watching those crows when the log rolled and fell forward, and dislocated my elbow, and nothing has been the same as it was. I'm not the same person. Well, I am, but I'm not. And my arm looks like it's been screwed on backwards, especially when I try and straighten. For some reason an unbendable ugly Barbie doll arm that's been popped off, and put back on comes to mind.

That happened on the 6th of September.
I got my cast off the 16th, and from then on the sixes just kept following me everywhere. Seriously. I wish I would have written all of the weird---yes weird six associations that kept following me around since that day. It was uncanny. The reason why I mention this, is that for some reason 6 has always been my number---probably because of my peculiar birth date. Because of that, I always pay attention when 6 shows up multiple times.
The other weird thing that kept--and keeps showing up are Crows. Yes, and don't go thinking that I've gone all weird on you.
This is the truth.
Yes crows.
After I the accident, I was sitting on outside with nothing much to do, because my arm was in a cast, and I felt like I was getting a fever, so I just was swinging on the lawn swing feeling sorry for myself.

Then a crow shows up, and swoops over the trees and starts cawing at me, flying back and forth.
Weird.
But not too weird. Not until they kept on appearing.
They seemed and seem to be following me around, just like the number six.
It was starting to creep me out. Another instance, I was in my bedroom, and a crow swooped into the tree above my window, and started making a creepy caw, caw caw, just as I was doing a google search on the meaning of crows.  It disturbed me so much I ran outside, and shouted at it to leave.
       The bird sounded angry, and refused to leave for quite a while.
More similar things seem to happen. More crows. More sixes.
Another instance, I was outside in the snow, in the back of the pickup truck, and along swoops two huge crows. They were beautiful. They swooshed above me in the trees, their big wings more defined by the white hoar frost lacing the branches.  And they perched in the trees, and cawed, and then circled round and cawed some more, and then finally flew off.
That memory is very vivid, because their black wings against the white frost was very beautiful. I'm not sure what any of it means, or if it means anything.
Some people associate crows and sixes with not so good things.
            I was not going to be so naive and cave into the silly superstitious fear of such things. I only know that both the crows and six keeps showing up. I'm probably just paranoid, because of the accident.
            After all these weird Synchronicity kept showing up repeatedly, I decided to do my own research, so as not to freak myself out. And because I am somewhat a nerd, "though I never really considered myself one" I did my homework, and looked up crow meanings, and number six meanings, and got a whole boatload of information. (Just because I was curious) What I found out made me feel more at ease, and less paranoid.
            Crows are supposedly a good omen. So I thought that was good, even if I didn't believe in such things. So says the great oracle--google. I also learned crows are associated with the 6th sense, with being jokesters and pulling out the rug beneath your feet, they are a symbol of change, of rebirth, of healing, of becoming your authentic self, and, also, crow it is the left-handed guardian. (Which I have to laugh at) because it was my left arm that was the one that was so badly injured.  They are also associated with the sixth sense. Which I also thought was kinda strange. These are just some of the tidbits worth mentioning that I gleaned from these websites, 
I've included links to below give credit to the authors, for my various research just so I could find some meaning, that didn't freak me out. And most of what I learned was good. 
  http://www.birdclan.org/crow.html 
 http://www.beliefnet.com/Wellness/Environment/Galleries/A-Spiritual-Field-Guide-to-Birds.aspx?p=3
 http://www.universeofsymbolism.com/symbolic-crow-meaning.html 
http://www.shamanicjourney.com/crow-power-animal-symbol-of-sacred-law-change
http://www.whats-your-sign.com/crow-symbolism.html 

The meaning of the number six was really interesting as well, there a lot of interesting associations with it. Some good, some weird. But I liked the good stuff, so I'm keeping the good in my brain files. The message, if there was in such a number, is pretty much don't worry too much about finances, and to pray for help. And you're on the right track. http://www.angeltherapy.com/blog/meaning-number-6 

So yeah, I like to be on the right track, so anyway. I'm not sure what the whole point to this post is. It's certainly not to give fuel to the fire of omens, and superstitions. Too many people out there trust too much in things like that.  I told my sister a little bit about the weirdness, and she was like, "Oh....I have a shirt for you."  I guess she owned this shirt for some girl scamp thing, and she bequeathed it on me, (the blow picture is the shirt)


Me I was just baffled, because it kept happening to me a lot, I and wanted to find meaning in something that seemed so bizarre, and unexplainable---Meaning to my own hurt.
And I did. Through the pain, and frustration of that trial I found out something about myself.  I learned that healing has to come in its own time.
You have to trust God to put all the pieces back together when you can't bend your own arm to pick them back up.
I learned patience, trust, and a quiet reliance that God knows what he's doing, even if I didn't at the time.  I learned deep surrender to what I cannot control or change.
            Surrender.
It is one of the hardest lessons of life. To put yourself on the alter, and say, okay, make me into what you want.
I never said this before, because it makes me feel embarrassed, but the initial financial cost of my injured arm medical expense was miraculously covered by a hospital grant. I applied for the grant, but never thought anything would amount of it. I didn't think I would get the help I needed.
But this time, when I really needed it.
I did.
That was a miracle in itself.
That was a huge burden that weighed heavily on me, even more than not being able to bend my arm. The weight of it not knowing how I was going to pay it off made me hate myself in so many ways.
If only I had a regular job, if only I...and on and on...
            Just recently, I have been starting to do things I haven't been to for months, I began playing my flute again. I picked up one of my hula hoops, and am starting to retrain my arm to do the things I could do before with a lot more ease. 
This is me in and my arm in December, "Christmas Eve actually."

 This my arm as of today. I can just touch my shoulder if I work really hard. Hopefully I'll be able to bend it even more in the coming months.

            I'm trying to build back muscle where it was lost.
            And that's all we can do sometimes, build where we have lost, again, and again. Our progress might be slow, painful, frustrating. We my want to give up. The things we used to do before with ease, are heavy and painful.
            But through God's grace, we will be stronger than we were before. Better because we fell forward. And because you fell hard, it dislocated a few things, it wasn't fun, it hurt, but sometimes our lives have to be dislocated, and disjointed, in order for God to rearrange us into better people, to reshape our souls, and keep our eyes fixed on him.

            C S Lewis said it better.

"Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world."



            There's no Crow about it.

           

Whatever keeps on swooping into your life, cawing at you from the sky, whatever synchronicitys-ies that grab your attention. Whatever pain you're going through right now. Maybe God's just trying to get your attention. 

      
      Maybe we need to look past our fears, tune out the endless cawing of our own dead thoughts, past the numbers we desperately wish we had in our bank account, on our test scores, in our love bucket, and the high rankings on social media, and look a bit higher than that, to hear and know the one who lifts us up when we do fall, to the one who knows what really counts.

                                   

           

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