Barefoot at Home – A Conversation

by Editor on April 19, 2012

As a forever barefoot lifestyle aficionado, I’ve encountered a number of benefits…and obstacles. The most difficult, by far, is having a spouse who is NOT a barefoot person. Here is a sampling of the kinds of exchanges occurring in our home:

“Oh, honey, please take off the work boots at the door. You know I worry about the pesticides you guys use at the zoo.” (Hopeful smile.)

Boots not removed, stomp, stomp to couch. No resistance when I remove them.

 

“Now that we’ve gotten this cool new woven grasses rug, could we go barefoot.”

“Ok.”

“Could you take off your shoes then?”

“I’m going back out in the yard in a minute.”

(An hour passes.)

“If you aren’t going out, could I take your shoes off for you now?”

“Ok, I’m going out now.”

Random walking around on the new rug, then back to couch.

 

“Tonight at the party, I plan to be barefoot and hope the guests will take my cue.”

“My feet are cold.”

“Would socks be enough?”

“No.”

“How about slippers?”

“…and socks.”

He wears socks and slippers with an outdoor sole. Everyone but me stays in shoes.

 

“Jack and Jane are coming over tonight. Remember, they have a no-shoe policy at their house? I’m hoping you’ll join us.”

“My ugly old feet have bunions and scars.”

“Your feet are nice. I’m the one with the hammertoe.”

“Your feet are much nicer than mine.”

“…and Jack has long toenails.”

“Jack has nicer feet than mine.”

“So, what do you think? Think you might take a chance and show a little foot?”

“Ummmmm…. Aaaa…. Mmmmm…. Oh all right.”

 

“If you let me take your shoes and socks off, I’ll give you a foot rub.”

“Great!”

Feet extended immediately.

These are relatively new exchanges. Things weren’t always this way. When we were first married in 1987, we both had been adhering to the Japanese tradition of no shoes in the house in our separate apartments. At that time, my husband was a martial artist and had run a dojo recently, so he was completely on board. He was slender and agile, closed doors by gracefully lifting his barefoot to the top of the door and giving it a gentle shove. Yes, my sole mate.

About fifteen years ago, a dream job working with plants at the zoo meant changes for us. His work environment is ideal—amazing plants and animals, co-workers who also adore nature. However, the work is frequently grueling—moving immense rocks and full grown trees, pruning on a 60-foot lift, slipping and sliding in mud to clear a hillside.

With these changes have come injuries and accelerated bodily wear and tear. Still elegantly lofty (6’4”), my hubby is now a weightlifter—highly muscled and sturdy, rather than lithe and light on his feet. Aside from that, his job requires wearing heavy gear and a daily saturation in gazillion allergens and even some chemicals.

All of that causes problems, but it’s far too sweet a job to relinquish.

It’s up to me to find ways to keep what I love: the barefoot lifestyle.

 

Now it’s your turn. Are you interested in an exchange about ways to create and preserve a barefoot lifestyle? There is much to discuss about this seemingly simple way of life, and I’d love to facilitate the conversation. Please weigh in.

~ Ariele M. Huff

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Lucas April 20, 2012 at 8:42 am

Really, there is a lot to discuss. I think that most people don’t find it a problem to go sans shoes in the house. There are a lot of people with a “no shoes” policy indoors to cut back on dirt that gets tracked through the house.

… but I think the best thing one can do is to keep it light, keep it fun and keep encouraging people. I don’t think anyone loves an evangelist and it’s a good way to put people off. Better to be lighthearted. I love the “show a little foot” line :) Laughs!!!

And in some places (as I’m learning), there is a real negative cultural stigma to going barefoot. Thus, the idea is finding the line between respecting yourself and respecting others, I think.

Ariele M. Huff April 24, 2012 at 2:00 am

Lucas:
I so agree with you.
In 25 years of marriage, I’ve even learned how to finesse kale into a valued side dish. Whew!
Humor, praise, bribes: the best strategies I’ve found when dealing with anyone.

Talking about this issue, I’m hearing a number of people who hold strong (if not always logical) positions on both sides. One friend absolutely legislates no shoes as he’s terrified of the potential toxins. Another one stands, barring his door, saying, “THIS is a shoeless household.” Others are equally adamant about the “smell” and “dirtiness” of bare feet. People have told me that having bare feet doesn’t “show respect” at functions or in places like offices or schools. Some people hold a very negative image of “hippies” and associate bare feet with that group.
Part of the solution seems to be just getting people to air their reasons. Sometimes, just hearing themselves making biased statements is enough to change minds.
What I most love is the debate that I see shaping up: Less is more in terms of what goes around and under your foot. That’s an exciting health issue to add to the lure of the lifestyle ;-)
Thanks for commenting!

Richard May 11, 2012 at 4:23 pm

Ariel, upon reading this, I laughed…I’ve known so many people who are foot phobic in so many different ways. For me, I’m looking forward to a time when I will never have to wear another pair of shoes again…or if I do, it will be purely out of usefulness as a tool like wearing gloves to accomplish very specific and short terms activities.

I started becoming a lifestyle barefooter for health reasons. Without going into too much detail, I was a letter carrier for 15 years. Like most mailmen, I eventually wound up having my first foot surgery about 10 years into my job.

I will never forget what my podiatrist said to me, on a follow up visit, after my surgery. As she was inspecting the surgery scars, she said; “Your feet have healed up great…guess I’ll see you again in a couple years for your next one”. “Next one, what?” I replied. And she said; “Your next foot surgery…”

I’ll skip the remainder of that exchange, but she told me feet were not designed to be in shoes for as long as modern society tends too…or even be in shoes. She said that eventually I’d wind up with more foot issues that would more than likely result in more surgeries. After this visit with her, I was floored, especially since I already knew the truth of what she said, simply based upon the fact that most of my co-worker letter carrier friends all had one or more surgeries on their feet.

After much research on the internet, I discovered a group called the Dirty Sole Society (which is now called the Society For Barefoot Living) and became involved with them and started promoting and living a barefoot lifestyle.

Anyway, keep em bare (the feet!) and thanks for the writings!

Ariele M. Huff May 14, 2012 at 4:29 am

Richard:
Thanks for the great note. The more honest I am with myself, the more I recognize that I’m practically claustrophobic about stuff on my feet.
I had a therapist friend who said that people who took shoes off in sessions with him communicated with more honesty. Maybe that’s part of the reason I can’t keep my shoes on…. it almost feels like wearing gloves or a mask–like what am I hiding?
Strangely, I don’t feel like other people are hiding in shoes, but I do feel more comfortable–trusted and trusting when others shed shoes.
Hmmm, thanks for adding more fuel to my burn the shoes fire ;-)

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: