Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Wrapping It Up. ODWS.

After a full week of BUSY, let's wrap up ONE DAY WITHOUT SHOES.  I'd love to hear, not only how you participated, but also your thoughts on the effectiveness of the day, and the overall impressions of the outside world as you've heard.  If you share how you participated and a picture, via my blog and/or link on facebook, you will be entered into a drawing for your choice of a free pair of TOMS shoes.  Okay, since I asked, I'll go first.

Initially, I met with 3 other friends for a morning run as I do every Tuesday and Thursday.  We decided this Tuesday would follow the same schedule as the norm.

Swim Team Moms Meeting for a Run

Reluctantly I will admit, the run morphed into more of a jog as running barefooted outdoors in 40 degrees while pushing 45 lbs of babies in the jogger proved more uncomfortable than we anticipated.   However, we did persevere for an hour...with a few stares and much wonderment, I might add.  The end results were cold, sore feet boasting a reasonable amount of dirt.

Because our children attend swim team practice at the local junior college, we meandered onto the campus and into their gym.  Interestingly enough, college students appeared far less concerned with the dissidence of barefooted, middle-aged women trapezing around their campus.  

Next, I hosted a barefoot coffee at my favorite local cafe.  Some of my favorite people joined me for free caffeinated beverages.  Not a bad deal if I do say so myself.  Truth be told, I asked the manager/owner prior to arrival.  This seemed the best route to ensure or feral group would avoid ejection.  The cafe graciously welcomed us, and I believe they quite liked the attention it brought.  The gazes of on-lookers at the cafe proved this venue was less aware of ONE DAY WITHOUT SHOES.  I was grateful for my comrades  and the safety of numbers. 

Barefooted Comrades at the Cafe

After school and our normal commitments, all completed without shoes, my youngest two children and I visited a local park with a friend.  Many people pointed and stared.  Many whispered.  No one asked why we didn't have shoes.  I believe most people formed their own assumptions.  I wished for a sign saying, "I'm raising awareness, people.  Why don't you take your shoes off and join me?"

The most difficult point of my day occurred late afternoon.  I dropped Preston off with Daddy for their barefooted t-ball practice; then, Ann headed to gymnastics.  Mez and I braved Hunter's multi-school track meet all alone.  You see, there's something about a group and commonality that gave me confidence.  Once in a crowd of strangers, I realized I was being watched and judged, avoided and scrutinized (being a trans-racial family only adds to the mystique).  In that moment, as I reached into my purse to get my spare pair of TOMS, I envisaged the million, who go shoeless without choice.  I appreciated this  IS what it must feel like to not own shoes.  They couldn't grab a spare set of shoes from their purse.  There is no tomorrow for them to return to, no "norm" void of gawking and filled with ease and comfort of shoes.  I was embarrassed; but I was glad.

Tuesday evening, I worked barefooted at the Children's Clothing Consignment Sale...what an experience.  I went home feeling filthy from head to feet; but that's not the end of it.  Wednesday, our classical school, Classical Conversations, participated in ODWS.  What fun!  Over 65 children/families tossed off their tinnies.  

Naked Tootsies at Classical Conversations

Now, for my thoughts on ODWS:  I have quite a few friends that never intend to participate.  I have friends, who find the idea ridiculous.  I had friends commenting it wasn't 'very smart' to go without shoes because it could cause injury and/or infection.  A few thought I threw caution to the wind as I allowed my children to experience it alongside me.  Then, there were those, who recklessly kicked off their shoes and proudly pronounced the predicament of the poor around the globe.  No one lacked opinion.  GOOD!  All of these people, each one, were part of raising awareness.  That was the point of the day.  Regardless of our persuasion, when we lend an ear, share a story of the 'crazies' around us, join a cause, or reason ourselves out of or into participating, we create a ripple or a even a wave that produces change.  I liked ODWS.  I liked it so much, I'm making one last effort... giving away 2 pairs of TOMS...one to a person, who enters the drawing...the other pair is TOMS gift to a person in need (buy one, give one).

Monday, April 4, 2011

It's Our Mez-iversary!

Vague recollections aren’t a novelty; but those distinct, detailed, unequivocal moments that your mind can touch, well, those are few and far between.  There aren’t many days in my life that I can look back a full year and remember details like they were yesterday.  

The moment I woke this morning, all of the details of April 4th, 2010 flooded my mind.  Everything.    The weather, my room and bed, what I ate, the smells of the city, my emotions, where I spent almost every moment, and who stood by my side, holding my hand, calming my heart seems as real right now as if I could somehow be magically transported back to that moment.

The haze of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia was thick.  The smell of roasting foods filled our room at the Sheraton when we opened the door.  Easter morning in Ethiopia means the end of a 40-day fast from all animal products.  You can imagine the level of festivity surrounding a normal Easter holiday.  There was nothing ordinary regarding this Easter.  This Easter marked the day we would finally hold our son, Mezekir in our arms.

God gifted us with each moment of that day.  The songs of rebirth and new life, redemption and hope at church hit a deeper chord.   God took the understanding of spiritual adoption and made it tangible that day.   That exceptional day etched the memories of the afternoon on the lawn in the sweet sunshine watching Ann twirl around in her habesha dress singing, “My brother is coming home.  My brother is almost here.  I’ve waited forever.  My brother is coming home,” while daddy leisurely napped on the grass.  

The second hand of my watch ticked to a sluggish cadence while the expectancy of placement drew nearer.  Finally, the hallow beep of the Land Cruiser outside the gate to our guesthouse signaled Mezekir arrived.  Even now, it’s surreal.  The luxury SUV pulling into BeJoe, the smiling and waving white driver (who’s done this thousand of times and has to tire of the tears and doting of new parents), the giant, bowling-ball-of-a-baby being pulled from first car ride, our family circling Mezekir like vultures ready to descend, and the seemingly limitless tears falling in joy over our son’s arrival at long last haven’t faded at all.
"Mez's arrival"
"First Time Holding Mez"

Our poor son, at 7 months, was subjected to every “check and inspection” a newborn endures.  10 fingers.  Check.  10 toes.  Check.  Chunky thighs.  Check…  It wouldn’t have mattered what was missing; he was perfect and perfectly made for us.  We haven’t missed a beat since that day.   Mez has dedicated his first year to holding up his head, eating, rolling over, sitting up, eating, crawling, walking, eating, running, climbing, eating, climbing some more, saying ‘ababa’ and ‘mama’, ‘bites’ and ‘more’, and a little more eating.  
"Checking the 10 Fingers and Toes"

I’d say we are celebrating Mez’s “Gotcha Day,” but it feels he’s always been here.  I’m sure that’s because he was written into our lives and our hearts since before the foundations of the Earth.  Thank you, Awtash, for the gift of your son, our son, and a shared child changing us all in the process.  
"Yep, that's us.  First Family Photo...and Fitting"

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Free Cup of Joe if you Go with Naked Feet and Piggy Toes

I love a good cup of coffee.  Truth be told, it's not joe, it's espresso I crave.  I make buna (Ethiopian coffee) almost every morning, and the other mornings I complain.  And I complain because I love a steamy, piping-hot, bold roast, almost thick cup of espresso from beans, which are freshly roasted in my kitchen, over my gas flames, and ground by hand in the morning the sprinkled with just the right touch of cream and stevia; but do you know how long it takes to get that cup in the morning?  See, you understand the complaint.

Since my Tuesday is packed full of shoeless events like piano and voice lessons, gymnastics lessons, t-ball practice, and a track meet, I will not have time to make my buna.  I thought, Tuesday is the perfect day for a perfect cup of joe.  You and I, we should go.  Yes, let's.  Yes, let's do.  Just us.  Me and You.  Let's meet at Cafe Tazza for your favorite morning beverage...my treat.  Oh yes, there is a little catch.  It only works if you are barefooted, TOO!


Where:     Cafe Tazza
When:     10-11:30 (come and go as you please)
Who:       Why, you.  You and I, of course.
Why:        To Raise Awareness and To Celebrate
Attire:       Naked Feet and Toes
What:       Free "coffee drink" of your choice (on me).

Blogging Barefooted,

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Results are In

After the school bell rang, a puffy, red-eyed teenage boy jumped in my car.  He didn't want to make eye-contact.  Holding off tears consumed all of his energy.  But finally, after we'd left the school campus, he starred at me and whispered, "He didn't even read my letter."  I knew what this meant to him.

My mind drifted back over 20 years.  I felt the sting of teenage disappointment, embarrassment crawling up my neck like mercury in a thermometer, and the hot flushing of my face giving away my hurt.  In that moment in my car, my heart ached for my son.

Honestly, I expected the school to refuse his request to participate in ONE DAY WITHOUT SHOES.  Too many liabilities...too little time ahead...too much to explain...too weird...all things I anticipated hearing.  I assumed our conservative, East Texas town (that I genuinely love) wouldn't "get it."  No problem.  We had cautioned Hunter not to gamble on a positive answer to his letter.  I didn't consider cautioning him it might be chucked without thought, set in a pile that makes its way to the wastebasket, or buffered by the secretary.  Dang!

Our son's campus will miss out on ONE DAY WITHOUT SHOES, but he won't.  As I explained, his letter is an ageless gift to his brother, a profession of his love.  What to do, what to do?   He begged permission to celebrate this day in honor of his brother (who's 1 year gotcha day just happens to coincide) regardless of the school's ruling.  Ugh.  Believe it or not, this girl does NOT go looking for conflict; and I fear this is the inevitable reaction should we allow him to go barefoot to school.  So, I'm wondering.  Would you allow your child to play hooky?  Send him barefooted?  Just give him the time before and after school for awareness' sake?...For the record I must say I'm sure this man-child is coming down with something that will overcome his system on April 5th.

As a side note, if you are still struggling to decide how to raise awareness for ODWS consider:  Make a stencil for ODWS (I have a prototype I can email to you).  Mix a cleaning agent solution.  Using a scrub brush and your solution, place your stencil on the ground and clean the sidewalk in the open area of your stencil, leaving your message and a cleaner sidewalk for all to enjoy.  Spread the word.  Change the world.

Barefooted for a Reason,