Skip to content

The Barefoot Video That YouTube Has A Problem With (Yikes!)

November 24, 2018

After a lovely Thanksgiving holiday, this email . . .

email from YouTube

. . . to which I could only respond with a muffled (I was eating left-over turkey): “Huh?!”

The video in question is a 76-second piece I spliced together and posted two years ago this month, and which has gotten just under 22,000 views by people who must not be the innocent barefoot-running aficionados I thought they were; someone actually reported this video as something that contained material not suitable for children. (And, like all my online content to date, neither this video or my other–equally barefoot and horse-manure-y–videos or this blog has been monetized, so it’s not like there’s anything financial at stake. Just my sense of grandma righteousness . . . )

Here’s YouTube’s list of no-no’s, as spelled out in their festive Thanksgiving email, above:

  1. Sexually provocative content
  2. Violent, graphic, or humiliating fetishes

Team YouTube goes on to inform me that videos containing any of this “will either be removed or age-restricted, depending on the severity of the act.” And thus they age-restricted my video–76 seconds of me, an upstanding senior citizen (OK, I do have osteoporosis, so I may hunch a little) having fun running through puddles, mud, and the occasional pile o’ horse poo. 

YIKES! What am I missing here, shipwrecked as I am at age 59 on my Isle of Irony? That my transgressions are bad enough to get age-restricted, but not enough for outright removal? That I’m still not one of the cool kids?

What have I done, O Guardians of All That Is You-Tube-able? What dark shizzle is hiding in plain sight (like the evil audio slurry that oozed out upon reversing Stairway to Heaven) in my ostensibly innocuous grandma frolic after a rare Southern California rainstorm two years ago?

Also: Have I ever had the opportunity to use the word “ostensibly” in this blog before? Am I using it correctly now?

‘Cause if anything was ever ostensible, it was my oblivion to the fact that I was purporting, promoting, proposing, or otherwise publicating anything other than the joy of running barefoot on trails for the last eight years now but who’s counting actually I am counting hard because my nine-year barefoot anniversary is just around the corner in January which means a big celebration will be in order probably something along the lines of a nice barefoot trail run . . . 

So get your mind out of the gutter (but which gutter? the violent one, or the graphic one, or the humiliating fetish one?) YouTubers. (WAIT a minute . . . tubers are potatoes, which grow, not in a gutter, but still, underground, and then all this begins TO MAKE SENSE as a vast vegetative conspiracy aimed at [TBD].

Enjoy the video. If you’re over 18. (If you’re not, my grandkids can tell you all about it.)

Happy (hmmm . . . non-humiliating-fetishy?) Trails!

And, this Thanksgiving, I continue to be thankful for all the awesome barefoot (and even shod), like-minded wandering nature lovers out there–that means you, if you made it this far!


Back On The Barefoot Trail After A Fall

November 15, 2018

“There are two kinds of trail runners – those that fall, and those that are going to fall” . . . I couldn’t have said it better than ChelloMello on this trail running Reddit discussion

As a shod trail runner (1996-2010), in all those 14 years I can remember two significant tumbles, and only one that left me with a lovely parting gift: a round scar still gracing my left shoulder where I slid a bit in the loose dirt and scattered gravel approaching a Santiago Oaks/Santiago Creek crossing. Since my barefoot running career began in January 2010, I don’t recollect hitting the ground as hard as I did a week ago yesterday: a true-black-n-blue face plant:

faceplant ouch

A couple hours after (LITERALLY, people!) hitting the trail

But thanks be to God for some kind of amazing healing time . . . in only five days my scabs had peeled off, and by today, pretty much nothin’ left but my usual wrinkles:


Of course I googled “normal healing time for bruises” just now, and found out that it’s usually about two weeks before the under-skin bleeding is all absorbed, so I’m super thankful to be way ahead of that curve.

Maybe it’s the vitamin K supplements (for my osteoporosis)? Speaking of which: I went down HARD . . . running downhill, kinda fast (for an old lady, anyway), enjoying my wandering thoughts, kind of zoned out (let’s not do that again) . . . but when my body passed my outstretched arm (it wasn’t that steep, but just enough to propel me past my braking hand), and my face slammed the dirt, I both felt and heard “snap-crackle-pop” in my neck. (And there were no bowls of Rice Crispies in sight.)

All I could think was, “yikes, there goes my cervical vertebrae.” So when I got home, after spending some quality time scrubbing embedded dirt out of the scraped places on my face, I called my doctor and got a referral for a neck x-ray, which came back negative, except for a suspicious void in the area where common sense resides in most (non-barefoot-trail-running) people. Score: Old lady — 1, Osteoporosis — 0.

And speaking of the way home . . . it took an hour just to walk (slowly, not turning my head much) down and up and down the hills between me and my car. When a hiker or mountain biker approached–and there weren’t all that many on a Wednesday morning–I sort of pulled my hat down and turned my head away. Yep, I was embarrassed. People already think I’m kookoobananas for barefoot running, and I didn’t want to have to answer any prying questions about why my face was swelling into such a lovely shade of purple, nor did I want to give haters a reason to disparage my . . . shall we say . . . lack of conventional trail runnin’ footwear.

“So why write a blog post about it?” one might reasonably ask.

I’m over being embarrassed . . . falls happen when you trail run, which makes me even more grateful I haven’t had (even more) mishaps. And maybe–just maybe–being barefoot all these years, and the extra attention that it requires to not step on the gazillions of local rocks, maybe this barefootery has actually saved me from many more tumbles. Maybe. 

And so I’m thankful my week of slight headaches (probably a minor concussion?) is over, and this morning’s easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy run felt fine. More than fine. Barefoot-tastic!


Except for this horrific Morton’s toe stub . . . see how my right foot (on the left in the photo below, of course) has one toe catching on the ground? This is called “ouch” and it happens way more often than full-blown face-planting black-eye-inducing falls. (I managed to catch it for this photo by slowly advancing the video I was shooting for the above “carefree runner” photo and taking a screen grab.)

mortons toe ouch

While this long-second-toe business was esteemed by the Greeks and preserved in their statuary (and yes, the Statue of Liberty exhibits Morton’s toe writ large), I am not a fan.

Every time I catch a dangling phalange on a rock–or just the ground–it feels like I just BROKE IT IN HALF, but after a few minutes of VERY FOCUSED BREATHING and TRYING NOT TO LIMP (see above comments about working through embarrassment), I usually realize that it’s time to stop the wool-gathering and get my focus back where it belongs: on the lovely dirt and rocks that cover the fabulous trails just outside my hometown of Orange, CA, where you can still run into cool critters like this on any given Wednesday (fall, in more than one sense of the word) morning:


Happy Stumbling Barefoot Trails!

do what you love barefoot shirt.jpg

A thrift store find from yesterday . . . just what I needed to fortify my resolve to get back out there and run today . . .

Imminent Barefoot Presentations

November 11, 2018

While I’ve been trail-traveling with nothing on my feet for almost nine years, I still wear flimsy sandals to enter public places (especially ones with “the sign” in the window, so I don’t have to go through the public humiliation thing again).

toms place sign cropped


This week I have not one but TWO presentations (woo hoo!), and while I will most likely wear my sandals from the car to the venue, I can’t imagine committing a public act of literature or stand-up while my feet are trapped & unhappy (and, of course, I have both poetry and jokes about my barefootery/shenanagins). 

Happy Barefoot Presentation Trails!

Fire and Rain CUI flyer

860x1329 poster_GradShow_FALL_2018_Adults

Wandering and writing (barefoot or shod) at the North Rim of Grand Canyon in 2019

November 6, 2018

Writing along the North Kaibab Trail

Nov. 6, 2018: a big day for the country, a big-little day for me as registration opens for the 2019 season of Grand Canyon Conservancy Field Institute adventures, including my 5th annual writing workshop at the North Rim (shoe-people welcome too!).

I’ve been heading to the North Rim as often as possible since my three weeks there in June 2011 as National Park Service Artist-in-Residence; it’s such a privilege to share the beautiful forested trails, springs, views . . . and just plain solitude still available in our crazy, busy world–with the added bonus of sharing writing ideas and inspiration, all while camping together in the ponderosa pines, waiting for glimpses of this elusive creature:


The Kaibab squirrel can only be found on the Kaibab Plateau.


Writing at Cliff Spring is always an inspiring experience.


The Uncle Jim Trail is another place where solitude–and inspiration–are easy to come by.

DSC_3774ler Thea Gavin GCA class NR GRCA NP AZ (1024x673)

What’s become a tradition: the final afternoon’s “reading to the Canyon” . . . 

Is it time for a road trip in 2019? Let’s wander and write!

Check out the web site for more info:

Writing on the Edge screen shot

Happy (inspiring!) trails . . . all the way to the polls today!


Two years post-stress-fracture: something to celebrate! (barefoot, of course)

October 21, 2018

Almost to the day, two years ago, my lower right fibula went crackle during a run on my favorite local Barham Ridge trails:



Yesterday, this:

Thea Gavin 5k results


And, almost this:


Some how, some way, even though I some times lack good judgment, some thing deep inside told me this outfit was a crime against our avian friends/community, and I chose to #flamingo-NO in terms of running in this disturbing-in-so-many-ways costume. (It’s almost Halloween, but still . . . )

Words fail (not quite as much of a failure as the outfit, above) to begin to describe the euphoria of running & funning for 3.1 miles in the company of 1700 happy folks & families with NO PAIN.

Eat your (edibles) heart out, Canada–this was a high way better than all the legal cannabis you can stuff in a hockey arena.

SO: to recap eight years’ worth of this blog: for almost my entire adult life I struggled with chronic aches and pains, which I thought were from running, but which turned out to be mostly from running away from deeper issues. With the help of non-traditional physical therapy, Feldenkrais, and insightful books by Drs. Sarno, Levine & Phillips, and VanDerKolk (as well as writing, prayer–of course–and God’s grace, it goes without saying) I am now running more freely at age 59 (and winning my age group for the first time: #oldgrandmasrule) than in my entire previous life as a chronically wanna-run-but-can’t cranky person.

So. Yay. (And the osteoporoshizz beast seems to be slowing down at bone devouring, for which I am also grateful.)

This morning I celebrated with (how else) an easy run, back on my favorite nearby  OC Parks trails, which are fire-scorched but still beautiful in the almost-solitude of dawn:





Above: the view all the way to Catalina Island: “26 Miles Across the Sea.”

Below: some barefoot balancing fun last week at Montana de Oro State Park, a few hours up the coast . . .




Happy non-stress-fractured trails!

Water & Mud & More Barefoot Shenanigans

October 13, 2018



Morro Bay/Morro Rock in September with the long-retired founder of Welding Works.

A few months ago, we bought a cheap inflatable kayak; after just four outings (Rock Creek Lake, June Lake, Morro Bay, and Newport Back Bay), it feels like we’ve had way more than $80’s worth of fun.

Above: images from yesterday . . . my first time paddling Newport Beach’s Back Bay (with adventure friend Gina . . . who couldn’t help but make a reference to the infamous Gilligan’s Island theme song: would our “three-hour tour” leave us stranded on a remote island?) (1960s trivia: the images shown every episode during the theme song were shot at/on/around this Newport Beach harbor).


Life imitating art! “The weather started getting rough,” but our tiny ship was not tossed–there was just an awe-inspiring display of clouds, lightning, sunlight and raindrop plops.


(Before the storm hit: the low tide brought birds feeding and flocking and flying–this Great Blue Heron croak-barked like a frog-dog as it took off.)

The rain/lightning/thunder continued through the evening–such a needful thing here in our parched southland, but such a means of destruction when linked to hurricanes Maria, Florence, Michael . . . and on and on. On my run this morning, even in the midst of the pungent lovely smells of the damp dirt and native plants, in the midst of my joyful puddle-running, in the midst of happy-mud-squishies, I felt more than small twinges of maybe not-quite-survivor-guilt, but heaviness of spirit for all who have lost so much to wildfires, floods and other powerful forces of nature.

running away barefoot

So all that was on my mind as I trotted through the dazzling ephemeral trail puddles today.

puddle running barefoot

Depending on the soil composition, sometimes silty run-off (the hills have been scorched bare of native plants that would otherwise hold the soil) would collect into silky squishy mud-foot-spas along the trail—ahhh . . . geology!

While running and sniffing the perfumed air and enjoying the exfoliating muck, I was also pausing frequently to shoot video snippets to maybe turn into another short film in my “I like mud and barefoot running” series.

After my last accidentally-on-purpose splashdown video–filmed just to the west in a section of Santiago Creek that seemed extra horse-poopy–I had decided to NOT EVER DO THAT AGAIN. But. Right before I got back to the trailhead, there was a pristine-looking puddle–no manure floaters, clear enough to see uniformly rippled reddish mud down below–the car was pretty close–I’d brought a towel to sit on “just in case”–I’d keep my lips together this time so the nasty recycled-alfalfa organisms would stay out of my mouth–no one was around–

barefoot puddle faceplant

–no one but some deer, who cared so much less than this photo could ever show:


So. Splash happens. The puddle wasn’t as innocuous as I thought; it had a sizeable collection of rocks just below the thin silt layer, and I racked up both knees and my right big toe with scrapes and pains.

Oh yeah. I forgot. I have osteoporosis and probably shouldn’t be seeking out ways to fall on purpose. (Thanks for the reminder, daughter dear.)

hawk closeup

This Red-Tailed Hawk also seemed a little judgmental . . .

Happy wild muddy trails!



Eight Legs No Shoes

October 7, 2018


Wow! I (almost) ran over this fabulous tarantula a few days ago while running my usual 90-minute evening loop in the hills east of my hometown of Orange, CA where wildfire (well, not so wild: human ignited) scorched the hills almost exactly a year ago during days of flames that seemed almost as long as this sentence . . .

Anyway, local critters have been in short supply since then–not much rain last winter = not much vegetation to bring back the insects and all who feed on them (arachnids and on and on around the food web).

Can you blame me for squeaking in delight when I trotted around a bend . . .


. . . on this windy uphill and discovered:


This beauty–probably a male out mate-hunting (that’s what tarantulas do around here, this time of year); he seemed not at all concerned about my attempts to foot-selfie us together:

tarantula on foot

. . . unlike this darkling beetle, who looks absolutely puny in comparison . . .


. . . and who had no interest in spending quality time with my toes. Then I heard a crepuscular crashing in the crispy vegetation:


Altogether a critter-wonderful evening! Happy twilight trails!

And when you get home, a couple of tarantula-riffic videos by yours truly, this one from three days ago:

. . . and this one from eight years ago: