One of my beloved best friends was in town recently and took me on a shoe shopping adventure. We love shopping together, especially, it seems, for shoes and bags, but no longer live in the same city and so have to soak it up when we can. This particular outing was to a discount designer shoe shop in Brooklyn with limited operating hours and so time was of the essence.
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I’ve been looking high and low (sorta) for a particular shoe that’s missing in my closet (dressy, timeless, beautiful, but not too high because I have problematic feet. This is a tougher order than you can imagine. Guess what – FOUND IT. And I talked the lovely owner into a 35% discount. Elation. Shoe lovers, you get me? Shoe lovers with weird feet, you totally get me, right?
Anyway, once that item was found, the eyes and feet started to wander and there was this other pair. A low pump, timeless, perfect for work – fit and felt comfy like a slipper. 50% off. Would pay for itself over and over in value.
What’s the issue? One, I had really set out for one pair. Both were not crazily priced, so I could work with the numbers. But two – that fabric covered heel. I have a pretty strict rule: I don’t buy shoes with heels wrapped in fabric. But I spent 10 or so minutes marching around that store in shoes that felt like socks trying to justify sticking with that rule. Finally, the store owner asked me what the problem was and I promptly explained that I don’t buy fabric covered heels because if you scuff them – they’re dead.
She looked at me and said: “Don’t scuff them.”
To which I laughed (she wasn’t joking) and said before I realized she wasn’t joking, “What if you get them stuck in a grate?” She replied, “Don’t get them stuck in a grate.”
She wasn’t joking. And I’m not joking either when I tell you that I instantly said, “Well if that isn’t a metaphor for life, I don’t know what is!” My friend doubled over laughing and then quickly agreed. I was so captivated by the simplicity of the advice this lovely woman was offering, and the plain obviousness of it all. Instantly, I was reminded of my tendency to make things more difficult than necessary (gulp). Sometimes rules and systems are helpful in decision-making. Other times, they feed a tendency to make knee-jerk assumptions that are not necessary and don’t serve us. Discerning the difference is key.
That splash of insight can come from unusual places, including an off-handed comment from a person in a shop, and it’s enough to shake up our stuck-ness and unlock our attachment to the way we think things always need to be. And what’s funny, at least in this instance, is once my assumptions were challenged, my mind immediately starting thinking about all the ways I could NOT scuff the heels or get them caught in a grate. Solutions a-plenty, with just that tiny shift. I mean, I shouldn’t really be surprised that seemingly tiny statements or impactful questions can crack open creative thinking and problem solving. It IS what I do for a living after all.
And anyway, rules are meant to be broken. So yeah, I bought ’em.