Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Odd Sock Club

by Janie Van Komen

December 20th, 2005, was my self-designated day to finalize my Christmas preparations. After informing all my married children that I would not be available for the next 12 hours to tend any grandchildren, run errands, or offer advice, I overloaded my garbage cans with anything that even remotely resembled trash, fortifying the house for the Christmas barrage of trappings set to explode upon us in less than a week.

Pulling the handle of the heavy wheeled garbage can behind me, I started for the curb where the garbage truck would pick it up in a couple of hours. Just as I stepped onto the slightly sloping area of my driveway I slipped, fell down, and broke my left leg. The leg twisted under my body with the left foot sticking out from under my right leg. As I fell the garbage can set down hard on its base, however, being on a slope it teetered about one split second and came crashing down with the handle smashing that exposed left foot at the ankle.

In a single moment I went from being perfectly healthy, capable, and mobile, to a prostrated position of so much pain that I couldn’t even get my body into a crawling stance. Knowing I was home alone and nobody was coming or calling, I rolled over on my belly and pulled myself across the ice covered driveway, back into my house where I could use the phone to call for help.

Two surgeries later the tally totaled: my tibia broken in three places with a large chunk to be reattached; the fibula broken on the front and the back; the ankle was completely displaced and had to be rebuilt; the heel was broken, and the foot was dislocated more than ninety degrees in the wrong direction.

Christmas came and went. I vaguely noticed that some people got the wrong gifts but I was too ill to care. The New Year came and went. I had not resolutions except to get through each day, hoping tomorrow might bring some relief. The pain was relentless and as the days and weeks passed I wondered if there could be anything redeeming about what I was going through.

“Oh, pain can be so purifying,” one visitor said to me.

I didn’t feel pure. I just hurt a lot. I didn’t feel noble, brave, special, or able to endure it well, which were also comments made by well wishers. I felt miserable, and I was unable to concentrate on anything except how much pain I was in.

“You’ve got to find some bright spot in all of this,” somebody said to me, “or else you might have to do it all over again until you do.”

That perked up my ears...Do it over again? No way! I had to find a bright spot or die trying. I was definitely not going to do this over again if I had any say in the matter.

And then it hit me...I knew what my bright spot was. With that big black boot cast on my left foot, I could wear any odd sock on my right one. I was now in position to be President of the Odd Sock Club.

For years I have wondered what a person could do with all the odd socks that seem to multiply with every load of laundry, and now I know. If you only have one foot to wear a sock on, you can wear all those socks who have lost their partners and have been stuffed into bags, buckets, or drawers awaiting some kind of future.

Okay, maybe for some people this wouldn’t be considered a really bright spot, but for me in the state I’ve been in, it’s the best I could do.

Copyright 2006 Janie Van Komen

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Best Pair of Shoes You'll Ever Own

by Janie Van Komen

Our lives are like the shoes we wear. Over the years our feet will sport a variety of sizes and styles according to our age, taste, and needs.

Some shoes rub blisters and sores on our feet until we have worn them long enough to break them in. The same is true for some of the experiences in our life. We struggle and stress about the work before us and just at the point of throwing in the towel, we finally get a handle on it and gain the confidence or ‘comfort’ we need as we ‘break into’ the rhythm, routine, and/or accomplish the task at hand.

Other pairs of shoes never fit properly and eventually we have to get rid of them. When this happens do any of us sit down, cry, and say, “I have failed at basic shoe selection. I will never go out and buy another pair of shoes?” Then why is it that when we get into a situation that really doesn’t fit our personality or life mode, it often incapacitates our decision making functions, and we doubt our ability to try again.

Life is an exercise of shoe buying. Some shoes are for pleasure, some for recreation, some for work, and some for show. The same holds true for the events, choices, actions, and decisions of our lives. Sometimes they fit and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes life is good, sometimes it’s fun, and sometimes it isn’t. So what? If the shoes don’t fit, find some that do. However, don’t be too hasty to throw out the stiff shoes until you’ve really given them a chance to soften up. They could possibly become the best pair of shoes you will ever own.

The same is true with your life. Maybe the biggest stress, problem, or challenge you may encounter, in the end, will feel just as wonderful to you as those comfy softened up shoes.

Copyright 2005 Janie Van Komen

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Perfect Fit

by Janie Van Komen

I buried my shoes in the backyard when I was seven years old. I hated those blue leather corrective shoes. What I really wanted was a stylish pair of black Mary Janes.

The next morning my shoes, caked in mud, had mysteriously appeared on the front porch. My mother told me to clean them off so I could wear them to school. Nothing more was ever said about the matter.

My feet have rebelled traditional fit and sizing since they showed up here in mortality attached to the ends of my legs. Hence, I have to practice stress relieving zen exercises prior to shoe shopping excursions for myself.

On one such occasion I headed to an outlet store touting the ultimate in shoe comfort and wearability. I found a pair of shoes that fit like a dream. Could it be that I’d found the perfect pair of shoes? I scrutinized them several times to be sure.

“I’ve never had such a successful shoe experience in my entire life,” I told my husband later that night.

Two weeks went by and one morning I set my shoes up on the counter next to my sink while I dressed. Reaching for my shoes, I noticed something was wrong. I picked up one shoe and then the other. Although the shoes were exactly the same style and brand, one shoe, it appeared, had khaki green leather insets and the other one had khaki brown. I looked inside where the size was stamped. One shoe was a size 7 and the other one was a 7 1/2.

How could I make such a mistake? Or was it a mistake? This was the best fitting pair of shoes I ever bought. The shoe angels must have been watching over me.

When I showed the shoes to my husband, he suggested that I take them back. It was an obvious mistake and the store should make a correction and give me a refund, or at the very least a new pair of shoes. “You can’t go around in mismatched shoes,” he said.

“Why not?” I said. “If I’ve been wearing them for two weeks and nobody has noticed, who cares?”

I wore those shoes for six years until they fell apart. Best pair of shoes I ever had.

Copyright 2005 Janie Van Komen

Monday, September 26, 2005

The Right Shoes

In the earlier days of shoemaking, leather shoes were dampened slightly and then worn by the owner for a period of time before the shoes conformed to the shape of the owner’s feet. Hence the saying, “You can’t walk in somebody else’s shoes.”

When the workings of the cosmos brought Lyn Austin, Lori Nawyn, and Janie Van Komen together, it was evident the conforming fit of each person’s shoes of life was indeed different.

Lyn Austin’s business savvy, vivacious enthusiasm, and compassionate attitude make her a champion for both the underdog and people with less than perfect lives. Her non-traditional observations and suggestions make her a bit of a “tart,” but, many have seen success after heeding her counsel. Her signature is a red stiletto pump.

Lori Nawyn, on the other hand, is a quiet, behind the scenes, powerhouse, efficiently doing what others say can’t be done. Her non-judgmental nature of encouragement and accomplishment fosters a safe-house for others to improve or to change their lives. One thinks of her as kind of “sweet.” Her signature is a casual sneaker.

Janie Van Komen “spices” the mix with tidbits of wisdom and facts she gleaned from miles and miles of teaching, reading, and speaking. Her motivational messages, and experiences inspire others toward positive directional shifts resulting in happier, more fulfilling lifestyles. Her signature is a tailored, but comfortable, business shoe.

Just as the gourmet chef knows each ingredient -- from the tartness of the apples, to the correct measurement of the sweetening, and the right choice of spices -- is essential for a prize winning apple pie, Lyn, Lori, and Janie (all three published authors and motivational speakers) discovered the ingredients of their own individual experiences and talents blended well for them to provide the young, the old, and the in-betweens with the secrets to choosing their ‘right shoes’ of life, and ‘finding what fits.’

Friday, September 23, 2005

Lyn Austin

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