Walking bare feet

When I was a little girl, I grew up on a dirt road. The 11 years I lived there the road was never paved. Even amongst my peers, it was a rare thing to live on an unpaved road. I remember the city workers, passed every summer with grease trucks in an attempt to keep the dust clouds at bay. Looking back now I understand my mom’s obsession with washing windows. It must have drove her crazy – my cleancentric mama bear. We lived on an acre of land so we had lots of room to run free. We had an extremely long driveway too. There was plenty of space to learn to ride a bike, catch tadpoles and swim. They were simply times that were dotted with events that would shape who I am today. I love to go back in my mind to the long days of summer, bbq’s with family friends, my grandparents visiting, and other things like driving Al’s (my maternal grandfather who insisted we call him by his name) car down the road, while he sipped his beer in the passenger’s seat. Yup, things like that happened in the early 80’s.

Whatever I was doing you could bet I was walking around bare feet. I can still feel the crab grass in between my toes and the jagged edges of the rocks in the driveway. I even walked through puddles, that oozing of brown goo between my toes, squishy and warm. I walked on surfaces when they were hot, cold or just right. Some people had asphalt covered driveways and walking across them on a hot August day made it feel as thought the first layer of skin was peeling off. Can’t you see it? A hop and an ouch – hop and an ouch – creeping along like the Grinch whole stole Christmas. Still I always preferred not to wear shoes.

I may have owned a pair of slippers I don’t remember. My nanny probably bought me a pair for Christmas at some point. Summer, winter, spring or fall my feet needed to be free. In fact, even to this day I don’t like socks. I have yet to find a pair of socks that feels better than going bare. I have to admit there is something that happens when we get older – suddenly feet are colder than they once were. Now in winter and I am forced to layer up. I prefer socks over slippers, basically because I am clumsy as hell and trip over my own feet. I guess my preference for socks over slippers is merely a safety thing. Like a good face cream, I would pay any amount of money for a pair of socks / slippers that could warm my feet and yet make them feel like I am wearing nothing – naked feet. Hell, I should invent Spanx for my feet – maybe I’ll send Sara Blakely an email to get her working on it.

It’s July 2020 and the hubby, two kids and I are staying for one week at a lovely cottage in Noyan, Quebec. We needed a change of scenery after being cooped up at home for the past 4 months. Our annual vacation to Virginia Beach, with the extended family, was a no go this year - for obvious reasons. All the things I usually look forward were not to be; the salt water, sea breeze, sand, waves, dolphins and family conversations. I came on this getaway with the mindset to squeeze out as much joy, as possible. I was going to find all the golden nuggets and I did. Let me share with you.

I often scan the internet to learn more about optimum health practices. There is more to it than, eating right and exercising. Yes, both are a huge part of the puzzle but we also need to think about healthy habits surrounding sleep quality, screen time, meditation practices, boundary setting, toxic relationships, our connection with nature and gratitude practices. The following above mentioned can be further dissected and adopted for optimum health and wellness:

· diet should include a focus on daily water consumption (are you getting enough),

· sleep there needs to be quality over quantity (deep sleep is important to recharge)

· relationships are they nurturing, supportive and kind?

· A daily slow down is important: meditate, grounding or journaling

I am a life long learner with a stealth curiosity to know more, do more and be more, so I can be the best version of myself.

Recently, I discovered something called grounding or earthing. I was reading an article that spoke of a man who never felt well when he travelled. He always felt out of sorts. I could relate with the man because I too felt the same. Whenever I travel my preference is to stay in a boutique hotel, on one of the lower floors. The reason being is the higher up I go the more I feel symptoms of vertigo. Usually, when I get off the elevator of a high floor, I feel dizzy as if I am going to fall down sideways. For the longest time I thought it was all in my head – I call this my crazies (irrational sensations). This guy travelled frequently and brought a grounding mat everywhere he went. Thank you Amazon for shipping me my new grounding mat within 24 hours. Yes, I absolutely had to have it. Does it help? I have no idea because COVID hit and I haven’t had the opportunity to travel. I have tried the mat at home and if it has any effect it is undoubtedly subtle.

I went ahead and purchased the “grounding” mat but you don’t need a mat to adopt a grounding practice. All you have to do is strip off your shoes and socks, roll up your pant legs and walk on any of earth’s surfaces. This past summer I adopted a grounding practice that has me walking on the grass in my very own backyard. I don’t know about the mat but I can tell you I love the feeling of the cushy grass under foot – I do feel a strong connection to the earth and nature when grounding.

Why adopt a grounding / earthing practice?

Here is an abstract I found that explains more:

Environmental medicine generally addresses environmental factors with a negative impact on human health. However, emerging scientific research has revealed a surprisingly positive and overlooked environmental factor on health: direct physical contact with the vast supply of electrons on the surface of the Earth. Modern lifestyle separates humans from such contact. The research suggests that this disconnect may be a major contributor to physiological dysfunction and unwellness. Reconnection with the Earth's electrons has been found to promote intriguing physiological changes and subjective reports of well-being. Earthing (or grounding) refers to the discovery of benefits—including better sleep and reduced pain—from walking barefoot outside or sitting, working, or sleeping indoors connected to conductive systems that transfer the Earth's electrons from the ground into the body. This paper reviews the earthing research and the potential of earthing as a simple and easily accessed global modality of significant clinical importance. (to read more head over to : https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3265077/)

If I can improve my health and increase my chances of longevity then sign me up. To be totally transparent it’s an offset for the unhealthy things I do to my body at times. Such as; eat processed food, consume alcohol, not drink enough water, indulge in negative self-talk or spend too much time on screen. I am far from being a poster child for health and wellness but I do try my very best. Like anyone, I have my good days, bad days, weeks and even months.

Learning that earthing or grounding is a real thing has made me so happy because it was a thing I was intuitively seeking. Without naming it I was naturally doing something that was good for my body, mind and spirit. The dizziness I experience when going vertical is my body’s way of telling me that something is off. I react to being far off the ground. Let’s just say this girl likes her two feet planted firmly on the ground!!! This also says a lot about me when it comes to sport – I dabbled in the world of triathlon. I like to swim but mostly in a pool without worrying about pace or critters in the water. It took me years to feel okay with my feet clipped onto the bike, constantly worried about losing control - on the downhills especially. The last leg, which is the run part in a triathlon is when I feel at my best. Nothing makes me happier then lacing up my running shoes!!! Again, one foot after the other striking the earth is where I feel most at home inside myself.

Last night I was called to the dock by my hubby. It seemed urgent and so I quickened my steps and that’s when I realized I have spent the whole week walking bare foot. I giggled softly to myself because I knew I was merely doing what felt natural to me. Intuitively, I was doing for myself what my body needed. That is why it is so important to slow down, put away the screens and listen your body – it has a lot to tell you if take the time to listen. All week my flip flops have been abandoned at the backdoor, waiting for me to slip in but I have chosen to walk free. I have taken advantage of our week at the cottage by waking early to rise with the sun, sit waterside to absorb it’s energy, keep a watchful eye for natures creatures, take a sound bath provided in rainy moments and behold the colors of the sky with the setting of the sun. I am beyond grateful for having spent a week nurturing myself in these small ways. Thank you mother earth for all your gifts. I promise to give back to you by doing my part to protect you.

This was a full circle moment. Merely sitting with myself, as much as possible, made me understand something about ME I had never previously questioned. I went back and forth from my childhood to adulthood asking why the bare feet? In moments of quiet I was able to find the answer. I know this principal applies to all areas of life – if we take the time to slow down and quiet our minds answers to difficult questions may appear.

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© 2018 Audrey Burt