February 26, 2024


We Bring Good Things to Life

A Father’s Boots | | suncommercial.com

When I was a little girl, I used to love to climb inside my father’s work boots — muddy, steel-toed brown ones he stepped out of every night at the back door when he came home from work, usually long after the sun had said its goodnight.

I’d slide my tiny socked feet inside, feel the space swell around them and attempt to take a few steps. With loud thuds on the old yellow linoleum, I’d make my way forward and around the kitchen, typically, eventually, ending in failure as my tender palms hit the floor.

Then I’d get back up and try again.

As I grew, those boots eventually stopped feeling so big. But that feeling — that feeling of not quite fitting in the world around me — would always reappear.

My first day of high school.

Going away to college.

Having the courage to step out of relationships that were no longer working.

Moving to new cities. Making new friends.

As we move through life, attempting to find new ground — to forge new paths — our feet can often feel like they’re swimming in too-big work boots.

It can take awhile to fill the space, to allow that new space to, in return, fill us as well.

I felt like that again recently.

When my long-time editor and mentor decided to make his leave, I suddenly felt like my feet were back inside my father’s old work boots.

I was flailing, swimming, desperately looking for some piece of solid ground on which to steady myself. I felt thrust into a world that didn’t quite fit — at least not without him in it to guide me.

His desk felt huge, his desk drawers too deep, his seat too grand, his shoes seemingly too big to ever fill.

But just as with my father’s old work boots, I started taking awkward, clunking steps forward. I’ve fallen — a lot — and I’ll fall again.

The path he left is well worn but unfamiliar. And everyone is listening as I make my way — every step a resounding thud — down it.

• • •

I don’t ever remember a time when I didn’t want to be a writer.

In elementary school, some of my fondest memories were in learning about the “sentence snake,” a practical approach to language and how to make words come together to form unique thoughts and feelings.

In middle school, when my English teachers announced a new writing assignment — and the class collectively groaned in opposition — I felt a light, a piercing beam of excitement.

It’s the only way I’ve ever been able to express myself — my hopes, my dreams, my fears, my love for other people.

Journalism seemed like a natural fit, so off I went, the first of many mentors taking my hand. I embarked on a life of telling stories.

And I’ve loved most every moment of it.

Newspapers connect us to our communities — the people who make the decisions that affect our lives. They hold those same people accountable.

Journalists serve as a liaison between you and your government, your non-profits, your schools.

They seek out and find the stories that make us happy, others that make us cry, some that make us angry and still others that offer hope in times of strife such as these.

I believe in journalists. I believe in newspapers.

I believe in myself.

So for the past few weeks, I’ve kept getting back up even though the oversized boots made it difficult to walk.

My hands are no longer the hands of a little girl. More delicate than the hands of a man, yes, but these palms are now experienced and strong enough to offer a confident push back up when I stumble.

Eventually, as a child, I left my dad’s oversized work boots behind. I traded them in for strappy sandals, high-heeled pumps and pointed-toe booties — just a few of my favorites.

Those were the shoes that made me feel like me. Those were the shoes that made me feel powerful, the shoes that encouraged me to stand tall, shoulders back.

Those are the shoes that have, time and again, helped me to take on the world even when the world was a scary, dark place.

So I’m going to take off the too-big boots.

I’m going to discard the feelings of self-doubt.

I’m going to slip back into my favorite strappy sandals and keep walking.

Because maybe — just maybe — the world needs more strappy sandals right now anyway.