I spent the first decade of my life in Golden, Colorado. I remember the town embodying a true Old West vibe. The most memorable time of year was the “Buffalo Bill Days” celebration of the Wild West, with its lively festivities and period costumes.
I must have been around five years old when I first saw a woman dressed in traditional Native American attire, including a pair of lace-up moccasins. She seemed to me like a goddess of peace. Her clothing embodied harmony and comfort, which was a stark contrast to the fussy Western shoes and large parasols also on parade during “Buffalo Bill Days.”
My family moved from Colorado to Vermont when I was ten. When I was a teenager, we returned to Colorado for a family vacation. To say I was upset about spending my last high school summer crammed in a minivan with my family, instead of dancing at concerts with friends, would be a gross understatement. I sulked for most of the vacation – just to make sure my parents knew they were ruining my summer.
In Estes Park, Colorado, we stopped at a remarkable store called Charles Eagle Plume. More museum than store, it was filled with Native American crafts, jewelry, artwork, rugs and pottery. I was mesmerized by the tranquility surrounding the culture. I bought my first pair of moccasins, which I wore until they literally fell apart years later.
Something about those shoes changed the trip from a total drag to all right. I even stopped trying to hide my smile from my parents. While wearing those moccasins, I uncovered peace in my situation. Even after that trip, the moccasins helped me connect to a very centered aspect of myself that I could call upon no matter what my outer circumstances.
I still use moccasins when I feel short-tempered with my daughter. Instead of yelling, I take a few minutes and escape upstairs to my sanctuary—you know, my closet. I sit on the edge of my bed and slip into my moccasins, hoping the Native American notions of peace will transfer through the leather hide. Because that doesn’t usually work, I mentally try to call upon my “peaceful spirit guide,” which I imagine looks something like a cheetah with eagle wings.
While my totem animal may not immediately conjure images of peace for you, for me it works like a charm. A cat, even when in danger, is extremely agile and remains calm. An eagle peacefully soars above life’s little issues. And how cool would it be to ride on the back of a cheetah that could also fly?
To me, it’s a fantastic visualization, and the impossibility of this creature helps me realize when I’m taking myself waaaaaaaay too seriously and to just calm down. This too shall pass, as the saying goes…
I’m not a morning person. Instead of wearing slippers, I wear moccasins to help me stay peaceful until I’ve properly woken up. They are the best family and marriage-counseling tool. When I start to feel stressed about getting out of the door on time, I look down at my shoes, take a deep breath, and bring my focus to my “peaceful spirit guide.” Whatever challenges the day might bring, I’m able to tap into the calm perspective of the Cheetah-Eagle.
My daughter loves my moccasins. Because of them, I’m pretty sure she will actually thank me someday for being a Cheetah-Eagle Mom, rather than a Tiger Mom.