My 'one' day without shoes : From M.E. to you

    By Megan Howe |  Back in April, people worldwide took off their shoes to spread awareness of the impact a pair of shoes can have on a child’s life.  One full day to walk around with bare feet?  I instantly wanted to participate and when informing my friends of this plan, the most common response I received was “I can totally do that, I go barefoot all the time”, so obviously they were up for the challenge too!

    Going without shoes for one day does sound easy, right?

    Yeah, that’s what I thought too… Until I stepped outside my house, before the sun had risen, on a chilly Tuesday morning in April. My toes hit the brick steps, I looked out into my yard, and the first thought that popped into my head was, “Holy crow, why didn’t I remind myself that my entire backyard is covered in pine mulch… That will NOT feel good on my freezing cold, bare feet.”

    I’ll be honest, I contemplated giving up, grabbing my flip flops, and skipping out on the shoeless day.

    Feeling guilty for even thinking of giving up before I had put forth any effort, I chose to continue with the day as I had planned, which began with a barefoot pack walk with my good friend and fellow yogi, Brittney Gosselin-Hiller.
    (Yes, this too sounded easy as a cake walk, when discussed on Monday…)

    With bare feet, I stepped off the porch, leashed up my pack, and off we went. The mulch was not nearly as bad as I had imagined and, as expected, the grass felt soft and comforting. The pack and I arrived at the gravel road and I immediately felt another mini attack of panic come over me. I stopped, took a few deep breaths, and walked on. My first few steps felt so uncomfortable, I actually laughed out loud at how awkward I must have looked slowly walking away from my house.

    With each step I took, I could feel myself literally walking out of my comfort zone into a new territory. I quickly learned my way of the road. Ironically, I found myself walking the yellow painted lines and laughed at where my newfound freedom had lead me. Here I was, free to walk wherever I desired and I chose to walk the painted line, out of a desire to protect my feet. I couldn’t help but think about the millions of children whose reality includes bare foot walks, every single day. With a new awareness, I kept walking.

    About 20 minutes later, my pack and I arrived at the studio to meet up with Brittney. We walked for almost 2 hours, around the downtown Beaufort area. Though we could feel every single thing we stepped on, each step felt easier than the first, I assume because at this point our feet were very close to being numb.

    Our pack walk was such a humbling experience and it lead to an even more rewarding day. I experienced both physical and psychological discomfort during this one day with no shoes. While walking I couldn’t help but think about all the places I wouldn’t be allowed to enter without wearing shoes. I wondered what would happen if I were to walk in a government building or a grocery store with no shoes on? How would people react? There were moments when I felt insecure about having no shoes on, but out of the insecurity I found comfort. Comfort in knowing we were helping spread awareness about an issue that is bigger than each of us. Together, as we walked, Brittney and I were being the change we want to see in the world and knowing we were making a difference with our actions, and it left us feeling very empowered.

    There was at least one store that Brittney and I knew we could enter without issue, Higher Ground Outfitters.

    Owner, Tim Lovett, spread awareness throughout the Beaufort area by actively participating in ‘One Day Without Shoes’.  On the day with no shoes, Tim, hosted a documentary screening, which highlighted the TOMS shoe giving movement and we showed up just in time to watch. TOMS created the ‘One for One’ movement, in which they give away one pair of shoes for each pair they sell.  After 30 tear and joy filled minutes, Brittney and I both purchased our first pair of TOMS and left Higher Ground feeling extremely uplifted.
    TOMS shoes were first introduced to the Beaufort area by Finishing Touches, a trendy store located in Old Bay Marketplace in downtown Beaufort.  Finishing Touches continues to carry the largest selection of TOMS in this part of the southeastern U.S.
    With this much local support, look for next year’s One Day Without Shoes to be even better, and even bigger.
    The experience of walking for one day without shoes was one I will never forget. My heart has been opened like never before and I look forward to continuing the movement, one step at a time.
    For more information on One Day Without Shoes visit www.onedaywithoutshoes.com or www.toms.com.
    From M.E. to you… Namaste.