A Barefoot Journey Back To Me

As a little girl, I could not be tamed, at least when it came to shoes. I loved to run around with my feet bare. It was more than love, actually. It was a need. I felt like I could barely breathe when I wore them. I remember pausing once, what feels like a million years ago, to debate if the sand on the beach was truly too hot for my tiny little feet tolerate. My threshold was quite high, and my heart longed to sink down into the earth with each step but when the sun had shined too brightly once before, I’d felt like my feet were melting.

So much changed in the years between then and adulthood — not the least of which was a former spouse who was afraid of dirty things, including feet. Eventually, I spent more time in shoes than out. I stopped pulling them off at the first opportunity. I would sometimes even put them on when I didn’t actually need them.

I observed myself and wondered what had changed, why the little rebellious barefoot girl kept wearing shoes. It wasn’t that I didn’t long to be barefoot because I did. It was as if… the longing no longer had any actual pull with me. I rather missed being the little girl who couldn’t bear to be shoed.

It was easy to chalk up to maturity, although I didn’t feel particularly mature during that time. Also, I found myself feeling more and more distant from the natural world. I didn’t want to be sticky from sweat. I didn’t want to get dirty, or to feel the grass under my feet for fear that I would get bitten or injured. I didn’t smell flowers, eye the moon as she waxed and waned through each cycle, or feel the magic of the forest surrounding me for morning hikes.

I was growing apart from the earth, I can clearly see now, but I didn’t recognize what was happening.

And then, a woman came to my home, an energy healer, and during her session with my wife, they walked together barefoot in the grass. She spoke of grounding and healing, and while my session was nurturing in its own way, I envied their ritual.

Just like that, I was haunted by the call of the wild once more.

The next morning, I snuck away to be with myself outside. I walked to the edge of the patio, slipped nervously out of my shoes, and stepped off into the grass. It was cool, and moist, and my toes rebelled a bit at first, reaching for the cleanliness of the sky. I coaxed them downward onto the earth and stood there for a while. One step, then another, and another.

I giggled inside first… and then aloud.I felt like a little girl, dancing about, and when I was done, I stood there for a while more, breathing the morning into my body. When I could finally tolerate the idea of going inside, I wondered how I’d do that with such sloppy, grassy roots… I mean, feet.

Over the last three years, I’ve been invited back into the wild part of my self, the outdoors has once again become a spiritual experience. Sometimes, the call comes from within — anxiety sending me to hike in the woods, frustration sending me to dig in the dirt — and other times, another Wild One calls it out of me — yoga in the park, a lunch meeting in the grass instead of the picnic table.

Honestly, I feel like I’m alive again, like I am making my way back into the flow of life in the natural world. It’s a place where I can serve and the world supports me. Every step back in that direction brings me closer to my true self. I am healing. Life feels good but I didn’t really understand any of it, until I read what follows in “Women Who Run with the Wolves” by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés.

“An old witch from Ranchos told me that La Que Sabe knew everything about women, that La Que Sabe had created women from a wrinkle on the sole of her divine foot: This is why women are knowing creatures; they are made, in essence, of the skin of the sole, which feels everything. This idea that the skin of the foot is sentient had a ring of a truth, for an acculturated Kiché tribeswoman once told me that she’d worn her first pair of shoes when she was twenty years old and was still not used to walking con los ojos vendados, with blindfolds on her feet.”

This book, in at least a thousand different ways, affirmed much of what I’ve experienced in the years since my awakening began. The lessons, the pain, the expansion, and the freedom; it’s all in there. All of what it means to reclaim that wild part of myself, and so much more. The sound of my inner drum beats louder than I’ve known, the whispers of my inner voice are deepening. And I’ve grown to trust them, to trust myself, in ways I never believed possible.

All of this leaves me wondering if you know about it, too. Do you hear the sunrise call for you on the bird’s song? Can you tell that the moon throws the most breathtaking curves just to woo you out into the night? When the sun sets as you return home in the evening, do you allow it to stop you in your tracks and take your breath away? When the longing to be part of what’s happening out there rises up within you, can you surrender to it?

At least think about it… your life is waiting for you.


Kiana S.
Kiana S5 years ago

I never used to wear shoes either. It was such a trial every autumn to have to put my shoes back on for school. Now, unless I'm dancing, going barefoot outside is a little pleasure that I indulge in whenever I can.

Marianne Barto
Marianne B5 years ago

You can number me with the group that does not like wearing shoes (only if I absolutly have to). So what if you get them dirty. Anyone hear of soap and water? I love how everything feels under my feet. What is healthier? The pinched toes? the six inch stilettos? bunions? blisters?

Sue Burness
Sue Burness5 years ago

Loved this article Christy! Barefoot is one of the things I love about belly-dancing. I used to wear "stability"-type running shoes for long-distance power walking but a few months ago switched to "barefoot" walking shoes. Interesting side-note: My ankles (even the one I broke a year and a half ago) are becoming much stronger. We have lots of tiny muscles in our feet and we're meant to use them!

Kirsten B.
Past Member 5 years ago

Sometimes. Not often enough though. But this power walking marathon training is getting me out for 7-10 hours across fields, past rivers and streams, through forests ... and I love it.

Barefoot is lovely in the summer, but the rest of the time I don't like having cold feet.
Two summers in a row old women have told my daughter off for walking barefoot through the town, and then pulled really sour faces when the saw me walking barefoot, sandals in hand, behind her. ;) She taught me how to do it again.

Thanks for these inspiring and thought provoking ideas.

Gloria Morotti
Gloria Morotti5 years ago

I loooooooooove being barefoot.

Ernie Miller
william Miller5 years ago

THe first thing I do every night after work is kick off my shoes. I only put them back on if I am doing something dangerous like mowing the yard. you can find me working in the garden with them off or even hiking a trail not far from my home. I try and watch the sun rise every morning, however some days I am cheeted by clowds that never allow you to see it peak above the horizon. I am less excited about sunsets because they mark the end of a day and not the beginning of a new and wonderful future. I take breaks laying on the ground looking at the cloowds pass by or satching the stars sparkle at night. it is even more fun when you can do this holding the hand of a loved one. If everyone walked barefoot and extended an open hand with a smile their would be no wars.

Jessica J.
Jessica J5 years ago

I enjoy being in nature and walk with my dogs in the woods every day, but I tend to keep shoes on because my feet get very cold very quickly! I wonder if that comes from inside my body or from a missing connection to the earth (that is also on the inside but in a different way, hehe)? My neighbour can be heard for complete afternoons to tell her daughters to put their shoes back on, back on, back on... so what if their feet get dirty? And when the little people get cold they will do something about it themselves! When I take gloves off or a hat, I sometimes imagine (remember?) what it would be like to be told to keep them ON, just because somebody who is bigger than me is still cold. Yuk!

On a completely different track, I really like snails, I always have but lately they have been front and centre in my awareness.... and actually they are one big foot! Just thinking about what they must be able to feel from the earth is mindboggling now that I've read your article. Thanks!

Jennifer C.
Past Member 5 years ago

Thanks for this article.

Jim Jaston
Jim Jaston5 years ago

I began going around barefoot when my dad told me the story of Russian immigrant Samuel Sugarman, aka "Barefoot Sam". This guy claimed it was as natural for him to go without shoes as it was for others to wear shoes. He used to go barefoot all year long, even in snow and ice. This really inspired me back then. Also my father, God rest him, liked to walk barefoot so it wasn't difficult for me to start digging the shoeless thing, so to say.