It is the third day into FASD Month. As I was putting on my red shoes this morning to walk the dog, I looked at how tired and old my shoes look. People have been posting pictures in their brand new or still looking new shoes, and then I looked down at mine and felt sad. I remember when they looked like that.
Now, they are well worn. Have holes. Ground in dirt. A little frayed around the edges. Tired. Like me.
But then I thought, no matter what they look like, they fit me perfect. They may no longer look perfect, but that’s okay. The laces still tie. They are used to me and I to them. They tell the story of my last five years. In their first year, they took me across Canada: Red Shoes Rock (across Canada). Since then, they have walked an unknown number of kms.
They are part of me and my identity. I don’t have Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, but I do support someone with FASD. I am a mom, and advocate. I share our journey to help others on this path. The paths have been dirt, grass, gravel, concrete, asphalt, sand, tile, wood. These shoes have been with me as I shared our story, advocated for services, supported others as needed and gave me confidence as I talked to politicians, reporters, service providers, friends and strangers about FASD. They have also been with me as I did what I needed to do to take care of the maiden and me.
Despite how they look now, they still get noticed. They still start conversations. Thankfully no one is looking too close at how worn they are. Maybe they will judge me if they just glance but don’t ask their story. Like I am judged for my parenting. Maybe I need a special pair to wear that I keep fresh looking. Only wear on special occasions. But those won’t tell the story of me. These shoes tell the story of me. And the maiden. They tell the story of all we have been through. Many days we aren’t fresh and pulled together because what this life has and continues to throw our way … but we are still here. We are still walking and we are still sharing. And we are still moving forward.
Red shoes helped RJ stand out, be visible and start conversations. His red shoes started a movement that has spread around the world: Red Shoes Rock. Red shoes may not be for everyone. For those that join the movement, there are many different styles and sizes and looks. Some are new. Some are old. And some are in between. Like we all are on different parts of our journey and walk different paths.
Some people may gasp at how worn mine are and may wonder why I don’t buy a new pair. But when I put them on, they fit. Today they reminded me of how much I’ve been through, and no matter how tired, frustrated or sad I get, there is still life left in me and these shoes. Maybe I’ll get a new pair next year, but for today, I slip them on and know they will take where I need to go.
I hope you too can find something which gives you comfort and reminds you of the strength you have. Whether it is new shoes to remind you of new beginnings, keeping them in tip top shape to keep rewarding you with new adventures, or allowing them to reflect the adventures you’ve been on. No matter what, red shoes rock.