We have a saying in Israel: “The shoemaker goes barefoot.” As a child, I found this saying curious. Why, I wondered, does the shoemaker go barefoot? Does he (let’s assume for a moment he is a man) have no time to make himself shoes? Or perhaps not enough materials? Or is he so poor that he cannot afford to have even the barest pair of shoes? I imagined the shoemaker in his dark den, bent over chicken-skin shoes with cardboard soles, his feet bare and curled beneath him. He could never leave his den — I knew this with certainty — because where would he go without shoes?
The shoeless shoemaker comes to remind us to use our expertise on ourselves, to care for ourselves. Think, for example, how easy it is to see solutions for our friends’ problems, but not so easy when those problems are our own! How much easier to point out their faults and the way they could fix them, but not so easy when it is we who have to do the fixing.
When I was divorced eight years ago, a friend told me that I needed to spend an hour each day doing something for myself. A joke, surely. With a two-year old and a five-year old, no mother in the world has time to do something for herself for five minutes! The seed, however, was received into the fertile earth of my mind. I began to notice how much I was neglecting myself. I was a barefoot shoemaker giving a lot of love to the children and none to myself.
I realized, over time, not only that my energy reserves were gone, but that I had no tools for refilling them. Slowly I began to build a plan for making myself shoes — fur-lined (faux, of course) and with a sturdy sole that would mold to my foot. Here are some of my favorite shoemaking tools:
- Giving myself a hug. It might feel weird at the beginning, but hey, the kids love my hugs, so why could not I enjoy my hug abundance as well?
- Waking up early in the morning, before the kids get up, and making myself a sumptuous breakfast and eating it while reading a romance.
- Giving myself Reiki and the self-care Maya abdominal massage.
- Taking fifteen minutes in the middle of the day to nap or to lie on the sofa and read.
- Watering my plants outside (my mother always says that watering the plants is a great way to cheer yourself up).
- Taking a bath (I like to put epsom salts in it and bring along my book and a glass of water).
- Cleaning the chickens coop (watching those peaceful being as they peck calmly around their pen just makes me happy).
- Getting a manicure-pedicure — how fun is that! Or a massage.
- Having a cup of tea, especially with milk (I take almond milk, but still).
- Getting together with a friend. Even lone wolves like me need some social time.
Mostly, I try to notice when I make myself shoes or are given shoes by others. Sometimes those are flip-flops, like a peck on the cheek from my daughter before she disappears in her room, or the excitement of the dogs when I come home. Sometimes those are excellent, sturdy, long-lasting shoes, as when I go on vacation to Hawaii or Yosemite or backpacking in the woods. I use that love, those shoes, to fill up my reserves. To love and to cherish, we say in the wedding ceremony, and I think perhaps cherishing the love is what “a shoemaker with shoes” really means.
What tools do you use to give yourself love?