Appreciating Lots of Things Including Feet!

Appreciating Feet!  Monday October 9 2017

This trip has been a lesson in how important it is to have working feet!  Being in a large city like Paris brings this necessity into high relief.  Doing anything or going anywhere for a relaxed afternoon of visiting, shopping, exploring, looking, listening, or eating and drinking  seems to involve walking for 1.5 to 2 miles, judging by Nancy’s Fitbit and its reliable data recording. This is our average walking distance when  we are using public transportation to get around.

I guess I’ve always taken feet for granted, even though mine are often troublesome and painful and have, all my life, rebelled against shoes.

This episode of the epic infected toe is the first time I’ve actually had to count every step in considering whether to do something and what the consequences might be.

We were scheduled today for a visit to the Centre Georges Pompidou, where several interesting exhibits are scheduled this year at this time. We were planning to meet friends there, to enjoy a couple of shows and a meal together.

But during the night and when I woke up, the wound on my toe seemed more painful than it had previously. It seemed imperative to do something about it, in light of the fact that I’m going to have to fly back to the US on Thursday – in three days. Airports require a LOT of standing and walking.

I hadn’t previously been aware of “Urgent Care” in Paris, as opposed to the doctors making house calls (SOS Medecins) or the hospital emergency rooms.  But I googled to see if it exists, and indeed the idea has started to be implemented here.  Good!  This is hardly a life threatening emergency in this age of antibiotics – though as little as 76 years ago, it could well have caused a fatal case of blood poisoning.  One of my little research projects  in studying French history in Missouri led me on a memorable detour perusing death certificates from the 1860s in Washington County, and discovering that an amazing number of people of all ages died a few weeks after sustaining slight wounds to their feet or lower legs. As I think about it, I really appreciate having been born in the age of antibiotics — just barely — and to have had a long, healthy life as a result. If penicillin had not just become at least somewhat available to the public (it was first used to cure an ordinary person in 1941), I would have died of pneumonia in 1942, as a toddler.

As I thought about it, I hadn’t seen any changes in my toe this morning. I didn’t figure that urgent care doctors would be able to tell me any more than I already knew and was doing, thanks to the doctor who had made the house call last week and prescribed antibiotics.  What I really needed was a pair of shoes that didn’t rub that toe and make it worse every time I took a step, and a pair of fuzzy slippers so that I could keep my feet warm while in the apartment. I’m grateful that I was guided to change my thinking from seeking a medical solution to finding a more practical outcome.

October in Paris is beautiful, but the weather is starting to cool off a bit, and the 19th century building where our apartment is has cold, uninsulated floors, even though the electric baseboard heaters do a nice job heating the air. My feet have been like icicles, and I’m sure that with icy feet, my circulation must be pretty slow, rather than vigorously helping the wound to heal.

I need to say at this point that I’ve (of course) been using Unity spiritual tools to envision and facilitate a successful change for the better. I’ve spent time meditating, centering, simply envisioning a healed, whole toe, and affirming the love and wholeness that gives me life. One axiom of affirmative prayer is that we choose the outcome, and turn the means by which it happens over to the Universe. This leads to some interesting surprises as envisioned outcomes happen in ways totally different than one might ever have thought.

It’s Monday, and a lot of shoe stores are closed, so I was having trouble figuring out where I might find a shoe store with comfortable, non – irritating shoes. Plus, my feet are very long and narrow. I have always had trouble finding shoes that fit in the US – how would I find any here? I was very tempted to not go anywhere.

On the other hand, finding shoes that wouldn’t rub that toe – maybe something like Birkenstock sandals — would probably not cost a whole lot more than the clinic visit, and would probably address the problem more directly. Not knowing where to look but in the interests of doing something, I found online a shoe store that was open on Monday on the Boulevard St. Michel, fairly accessible to the apartment.  We figured we’d take the bus, see what we could find, and then end up at our favorite department store, BHV, on the right bank by the Hotel de Ville (City Hall).  The shoe store didn’t have anything that looked promising, and the available clerk wasn’t very interested in our request, so we forged ahead to BHV, which proved to have a very extensive selection of different brands and types of shoes.

We both looked in different areas of the shoe department, and Nancy found a section with Mephisto shoes.  I had never considered these shoes before, because of their very high price in the US. My consciousness of lack had led me to simply avoid considering them. But now, as a result of praying, I was just following where circumstances led. I was also curious now because a friend of ours had said a couple of days previously that he had finally found relief from persistent foot problems when he started wearing Mephisto shoes. So I was ready to suspend my previous beliefs, at least a little.

I explained the problem to the sales clerk who clearly specialized in this one brand, and he brought out two different styles. I tried them on.  Nancy had told me these shoes work really well for long narrow feet, and wow!  Was she right!  I have never in my life, going all the way back to early childhood when I ended up wearing special orthopedic shoes, found shoes that were really comfortable. Suddenly my feet felt made for shoes, rather than feeling like they were alien extremities destined never to fit into anything that I could then actually walk in. I’ve always felt like the ugly stepsisters in the Cinderella story trying to fit into the glass slipper.   I discovered today that I must have French feet!

We were flabbergasted to find that in France in general and at BHV in particular, where a good sale was going on, the prices are  about two- thirds less  than what the same shoes cost in the US – they were actually less expensive than many good US brands cost at home. What a wonderful example of an apparent coincidence that was the result of prayer and willingness to respond in the moment!

I hadn’t felt terribly optimistic about finding sandals in Paris in October, when winter is fast approaching. Posters on walls and in stores are all about winter and being ready for it, and winter is a big deal at this northern latitude. Indeed we didn’t find any sandals – and no one offered any hope that we would.  But what we found is so much better!  Real shoes that fit!  Who would think that we might be so lucky?  I feel truly blessed and guided.  And the amount we saved by finding these shoes here in Paris paid for a nice chunk of airfare —   a big deal!

When we left the store, I could actually walk freely and easily, without any pain, and with no pressure on the sore area, which I’m pretty sure was caused in the first place by walking around the city in the shoes I had been wearing since arriving here, which, when push comes to shove, are obviously too short and wide. This was a good lesson in being sure that the footwear I bring with me on a foreign trip will support a lot of walking without causing any problems with my feet!

I am so happy that I can once again think about where we would like to go and feel that we can get there and back, no matter how hard the bus stop is to find, how many different places we have to try to find what we’re looking for, or how long the walk might be from where we get off the bus to the destination we’re seeking or to the connecting bus line.

On the way home, we passed by a different store that had lots of warm fuzzy slippers, and I bought a pair, so now, at home, my feet are even warm.  Heaven!  I plan to write myself a note to remind me that next year we need to pack warm slippers and a hot water bottle, and we need to plan to buy more fabulous French shoes when we come back to Paris.

About Rev. Rosemary Hyde, Ph.D.

I am a grandmother, a classical homeopath, a mystical poet, and an interfaith minister. I also have a large, enduring place in my heart for Paris. I first spent time in Paris in 1961, as a Fulbright scholar. I remained in France for three years, living also in Toulouse and in Nancy. I have revisited France and Paris multiple times since then, and have come to know central Paris reasonably well. I grew up in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, where there were many Franco-Americans, and their language fascinated me. I was fortunate in 6th grade, when my family moved, to find myself in a Catholic French speaking girls' school, where I had the wonderful fortune of becoming bilingual. It still feeds my soul deeply, to visit Paris, speak French, and reconnect with the little French girl in me. I am serving presently as co-minister at Unity Center of Peace in Chapel Hill, NC. I give talks one or two Sundays a month -- please go to the website, www.unitychapelhill.org, and sign up for the weekly e-news to learn what's going on -- special events, seasonal interfaith ceremonies, and Sunday themes and talks. My vision for the Unity Chapel Hill ministry and for myself is to become a loving, uniting presence in the lives of all those who cross paths with us. That's all there is, really -- loving presence. And so it is. Amen. My goal as a minister is to add richness to life for those who resonate to more than one religious tradition or to none -- those with mixed religions as well as the unchurched, untempled, and unmosqued. All of us, whatever our cultural allegiances, hunger for and need support in finding the transcendent joy that's ours to find in this earthly life. All of us need and want to celebrate beautifully the great and small milemarker moments. All of us crave the beauty of prayer as an expression of our participation in universal love. All of us wish to learn a greater vision, to see our lives opening to the Divine. All of us desire deeply to find serenity and peace that lasts no matter what happens today and tomorrow. This is the meaning of Transcendessence. We find the essence of spirit and transcend the narrow constraints of our bodies and egos. Join us today by subscribing, so you won't miss a single poem, message, prayer, or meditation.
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