What Color are Your Shoes?

Suzanne St. John-Crane (Class XXV / Urbanism XXXIV)

In preparing for my next big adventure as the CEO of American Leadership Forum-Silicon Valley, I scheduled time off to begin the great letting go of the old and embracing of the new. Cue deep breath…

I cleared the calendar for two weeks, booked time at the spa, the beach and my favorite contemplative places, diving in to a period of self-spoilage and reflection.

After two days of coming down from the crazy pace of work, I began to hit my relaxation stride. I jumped in the Camaro and headed north to the Japanese Tea Gardens in Golden Gate Park to write my next chapter.

I was so ready for this moment. I began walking around the gardens, breathing deeply, taking it all in. Time to relax. I have plenty of time. I don’t have to be home until 5:30. Then I need to make dinner, make sure the kids have done their homework, get the lunches made, get them in the bath, feed the dog, feed the chickens and get ready for day three of “resting.” Don’t laugh, these conversations are real. At some point, I realized that I was speed walking, not mindfully moving through the day. Because as a type A working mom of two, that’s what you do. You race from one task, responsibility, decision and location to another.

OK… let’s slow down. Remember mindfulness? Remember mindful walking? I know how to do this.

I decelerated down to a near snail’s pace on the path and it honestly felt incredible. I turned off the Microsoft Outlook reminders in my head and experienced one… step… at a time. I looked down to see my feet moving slowly. I noticed that I was wearing red shoes. The color popped against the sandstone path. I just… noticed… my shoes. Today, they walk the earth completely present in this experience. Today, right now, I give myself permission to just be.

It was ALF that gave me the gift of mindfulness. Learning this practice on Day One was a game changer for me and set the tone for the year, and really, for a lifetime. When is the last time you let yourself experience this gift? Do you have a moment now? Take it. What color are your shoes?

Today, mine are blue.