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“Barefoot? Wow! That’s Awesome” and other comments off the beaten track

September 14, 2017


The astute observation that titles this blog post was lobbed at me earlier this week by a manly mountain biker sweating his way up the dusty-rocky single-track I was gliding down like a no-longer-constipated cheetah.

If I had a nickel for this and all the other painfully obvious witticisms regarding my shoeless circumstance, I’d have enough money . . .  to make me wish I had more money.

As it was, that day, I made a mental note to remember his comment and write it down when I got home in my forthcoming/imaginary Book O’ Inane Barefoot Running Comments. But, of course, by the time I’d fought road construction and rustled up breakfast and shucked my perma-stink running shorts and read the local news and decided to do a few loads of laundry . . . what was I supposed to be doing again with my retirement?

There have been so many phrases much more memorable than the title of this blog post, phrases reflecting other cultural/gender/species perspectives (the quail have really made some poignant comments which unfortunately I am still working to translate), but alas, most of these other pithy quips have been snatched away by the “I’ll write it down later” goblin.

This evil entity would like to hijack my own–and every other writer in the world’s– creative output by reassuring us that all those intriguing thoughts and original ideas will surely stay in our brains until we “have time” to write them down. Then this “time” gets sucked down the swirling drain of a Busy Day, and when we finally reach the end of our procrastinating rope, we are left dangling out to dry in front of a relentlessly blank screen.


So although I would love to list all the crazy things people have said to me during my barefoot adventures, both locally and whilst wandering below the rim of the Grand Canyon,  I can’t.


But . . . running again this morning, a delightful 90 minutes of Thursday-at-seven-empty trails, I did remember the words quoted in the title of this blog piece as I passed the spot where I’d heard them uttered 48 hours previously.

And I had to admit: the spandex-y biker dude was spot-on-the-dot: being able to cruise these lovely trails on a morning when everyone else must be At Work was downright AWESOME! His thigh-hugging shortz had helped squeeze out a Universal Truth, and I needed to heed it:

I am a patched-up (spiritually, mentally, physically, emotionally . . . you get the drift) 58-year-old wife of one/grandma of seven with the opportunity and tonicity and trail proximity to fly barefoot pretty much whenever I want to in a landscape that is not war-torn, or hurricane-ravaged, or dangerous in any way other than being dirty and full of sharp things and tripping hazards (is that not the very glorious definition of trail?).



Last night I heard a missionary speak; she was from Crisis Care Training International, an organization that provides trauma recovery resources for those who work with children, with the goal of “bringing healing and hope globally to children in crisis, and especially to those in refugee situations.”

Dr. Patricia Toland’s stories and photos were both heartbreaking and inspiring, and really helped to bring perspective to the tiny barefoot sphere I spin in: there’s a world of hurt out there, near and far, children and adults in all kinds of need.

What is truly “AWESOME”, then?

The work of people like Dr. Toland and Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk, a PTSD researcher whose book The Body Keeps The Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma really changed my thinking about trauma: we are all products of hurt, we all need healing, and there are resources available!

So this blog post went down a weird path . . . from a light-hearted reaction to (yet another) inane trail comment . . . to . . . appreciation for trauma healing, and the desperate need for workers in this field that stretches from our own homes to all the way around–and around and around–the globe.








10 Comments leave one →
  1. Caveman Hiking permalink
    September 16, 2017 2:56 pm

    Got a “you’re brave” while barefoot hiking this morning, and the other day I got a “good Lord!” and a smattering of “I could never do that-s.” It got me thinking…the one I really want to hear is: “Lord have mercy on your soles.”

    • September 17, 2017 6:52 am

      Ha! In my mind I always translate “you’re brave” to “you’re stupid.” Your last hoped-for quote made me chuckle . . . those sole/soul puns are the best 🙂 Happy Caveman Trails!

      • Caveman Hiking permalink
        September 17, 2017 6:50 pm

        It’s funny you say the “you’re stupid” part. As the guy passed and said “you’re brave” I replied “or stupid”. After he was out of earshot my wife, who was hiking with me, said “don’t say that” to which I replied “but that’s what he was thinking.” But she is right; despite what people may or may not be thinking, I need to be an ambassador for barefoot hiking and always promote the benefits. Nevertheless, I think your interpretation of the “you’re brave” comments we get is accurate.

      • September 18, 2017 2:51 pm

        “Barefoot ambassadors” . . . a nice, positive way to look at things! Thanks for taking the high road (barefoot, I’m sure). 🙂

  2. Bob G. permalink
    September 15, 2017 6:24 am

    Thea..thanks for your thoughts. I had a little “awesome” time myself yesterday. Triangulated by SUV driving terrorists, prepared to kill in order to get one car length ahead, I found myself in my church cemetery, dim and damp (the cemetery, not me…). Once around barefoot, in love with the fact that I could be there between obligations….unnoticed by the few hard-charging fluorescent locals in the midst of weaponized exercise. I got the hawk feather which they ran right past…I dare say retirement will suit you JUST FINE….Bob G.

    • September 15, 2017 7:12 am

      Bob! I don’t know who you are, but your poetic prose feels like “home.” I really enjoyed your note . . . its sensory details, alliteration (that’s the teacher in me, for sure), action, introspection, humor-in-the-midst of craziness . . . thanks for sending your words my way and allowing me to experience a hawk feather moment, and more, from across the continent. Happy barefooting!

      • Bob G. permalink
        September 15, 2017 8:36 am

        Thanks Thea…I could bloviate all day long…little spans of quiet alongside all the Tri-State violence. Try Haiku…now THAT’S hard! It’s down to syllables!
        You should try to put together something full-length…if anyone merits a happy, smiling, barefoot Barnes & Noble book signing in the Nature section, it’s you! Bob G.

      • September 15, 2017 4:23 pm

        I’d not call it bloviating 🙂 Haiku: yep, a great creative challenge. Thanks for the encouragement to put a book together; I’ve been copy/pasting blog posts into a Word document to give me something to begin with . . . then . . . have plans to write a few more essays once I sense a “theme” emerging. Scary territory . . . way more frightening than hiking Grand Canyon barefoot 🙂

  3. September 14, 2017 9:52 pm

    Wow.. you really brought this one full circle. Best line yet: “His thigh-hugging shortz had helped squeeze out a Universal Truth, and I needed to heed it:”

    • September 15, 2017 7:08 am

      Full circle or downward spiral . . . that is the question 🙂

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