Being A Material Girl Is Alright With Me

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Photography by Stephen Schauer 

Is being materialistic a bad thing? Madonna’s hit song, “Material Girl,” came out when I was just a kid, and even then I felt myself torn between complicated emotions. I wanted to wear diamonds, like she did in her music video, and be hoisted in the air by a bevy of bow ties and biceps.

But, I’d never admit that to anyone, not even myself. I was afraid of my parent’s judgment of “material pride.” I was taught to believe those were bad people, the rich folks who could get through an eye of a needle faster than they could get into heaven. And I really wanted to go to the promised land of harps and angels someday… Heaven had to be better than the ugly place I was stuck in.

I’ve spent a lot of years wondering if wanting things made me less spiritual. I thought that being poor and wearing my beat-up Birkenstocks brought me closer to the universe somehow. I tried not to place a lot of interest in my looks or surroundings and spent a lot of time feeling superior to those who concerned themselves with such material matters. I’d constructed this better-than attitude when actually, I felt inferior to the celebrities I saw gracing the covers of magazines. Instead of letting myself work with those judgments, it was easier to shun them all as being less-than. Not spiritual. Materialistic.

One day during meditation, I had a moment of clarity. If we are indeed spiritual beings having a human experience, isn’t the whole point to be in the material world? To enjoy it, taste it, feel it, wear it, whatever it is? I realized that I couldn’t separate myself from the physical or the material. I saw Earth as a school and my life as one big lesson; all of the things of a physical nature that surrounded me were of spiritual nature, too. I realized it’s impossible to separate the two.

So what would happen if I decided to allow the beautiful, material and abundant nature of the universe to flow into my life? Well, for one, I started to let myself appreciate the gorgeous clothes I saw on the runways. Fashion was no longer something outside of my world; it was part of me. I loved it, all of it. And, more importantly, I knew I was worthy of it.

I appreciate great design and like to feel beautiful. Not to feel better than anyone, but because it makes me happy. The way a well-fitting suit can make me feel poised, or how the rounded lines of a coffee table can hold my glass with form and function—the material world impacts most aspects of our lives. In fact, my idea of heaven is a place filled with impeccably dressed people who appreciate good design in all of their surroundings. Sort of like the Oscars, but I get to live there, all the time. And I’ve created that heaven in my home. I mean, celebrities don’t saunter through my kitchen on a red carpet, but I am surrounded by beauty every direction my gaze lands. Heaven is here, today and now.

Embracing my love of design actually led me to my calling as a Style Editor and “Shoeologist.” I see fashion as a tool for healing. Like an acupuncturist using needles to heal her patients, I use shoes and unique life-coaching methods to work with the women who come to me for help. I believe the right pair of shoes can make an insecure person feel more confident, help a woman with a broken heart become more open to love, and even add spice to one’s sex life. I love sharing who I am and supporting others to express themselves through their sartorial choices.

My “sole awakening” happened several years ago when I was having one of those days. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I felt off balance and couldn’t shake it. I glanced at my feet and wondered if the wobbly heels I had on might have something to do with my unsteady state? I kicked them off and slid on a pair of ballerina flats I keep in the back of my car for emergencies. I felt more grounded in that instant than I had all day—not just physically but spiritually, too. I’ve always loved the elegant simplicity of a ballerina flat; the chic lines and versatile design work with almost any outfit, comfortably. They have an almost magical ability to connect me to my sense of inner balance. When I started to feel funky again, I reconnected with my ballerina flats and envisioned myself moving with a dancer’s steadiness. My shoes supported my posture and helped me shift my inner experience. The “material” had become a kind of “spiritual” tool for me.

Anytime I feel judgments about others surfacing, I ask myself: where do I hold that judgment about myself? How can I love that aspect of myself more? Sometimes I start the process of self-forgiveness by changing my shoes and releasing those judgments from my soles all the way up… And in this way, embracing my materialism has taught me how to really love others and myself. Some days when I’m feeling slumpy, I throw on a pair of sequined stilettos and let my inner diva throw down some Madonna-worthy moves. And while I’ve never been hoisted into the air draped in diamonds, I no longer feel guilty about indulging in that fabulous fantasy. Because, as the pop diva herself would say, “We are living in a material world, and I am a material girl.”

Sole Prescription Pharmacy Dr. Shannon Bindler, M.A., C.E.C.
12/16/2017
The ballet flat is prescribed for individuals who want to experience a greater sense of balance in their life. The design was modeled after a soft dance shoe. They are traditionally flexible with a hard sole and no (or very thin) heel. Some styles feature a decorative string throat, reminiscent of the ballet slipper's drawstring.
Symptoms
Signs of erratic behavior or mood swings, extreme or irrational thoughts, imbalance in how time and/or energy are spent, instability (emotional, spiritual, physical, or mental), lack of harmony between life roles (work, family, projects, etc.).
Warnings
May cause steadiness, a state of equilibrium, emotional and mental stability and centeredness. Extremists beware: continued wear may create an even disposition.

Peace Be Still

Sole Prescription Pharmacy Dr. Shannon Bindler, M.A., C.E.C.
12/16/2017
The moccasin is prescribed for individuals who would like to experience a sense of peace. It is a sturdy slipper sewn from tanned leather. In its original form, it was made from one piece of leather that was drawn around the foot and stitched together from animal sinew. The sole is traditionally flexible, and the upper may be decorated with beads, embroidery or fringe.
Symptoms
A moccasin is prescribed to individuals suffering from one or more of the following feelings or experiences: insecurity or anxiety, violence toward self or others, discord or disagreements, hostility or conflict in any area of life, self-judgment, negative and/or harsh thoughts about self.
Warnings
Side effects may include feelings of harmony, an internal and external state of agreement, a sense of freedom, togetherness and amity. May cause unexplainable “ohms” and a strong desire to put two fingers in the air and “peace out.”

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.

With Good Love + Nurture, Her Dreams Blossomed

Dreamers don’t make dreams come true, doers do. But, moving from the dreaming to the doing can feel overwhelming.

No one plants a botanical garden in a single day. A gardener creates beds, preps the soil, and then starts seedlings. She waters and nurtures, waters and nurtures, and makes sure her plants get plenty of sunlight. Then she does it all again. The long process seems obvious when I think about nature. Why is it so easy to forget that the same is required for nurturing our dreams?

Dreams don’t come to fruition overnight, and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. Successful people nurture their dreams for a decade, sometimes longer. There may be an occasional shoot-to-stardom story, but usually when you trace it back, it merely appears that the hero of that story skyrocketed to the top. Chances are they’ve been quietly cultivating their garden of dreams for some time.

The best way to tend a dream is to make sure it’s a S.M.A.R.T. one:

 

Specific

Measurable

Attainable

Relevant

Time Bound

 

What’s the next action required? (If it feels too big, break it down into an even smaller step until it’s manageable.)

Do that action.

If you ask yourself that question everyday and S.M.A.R.T.ly act on it, one morning you’ll look up and realize you are standing in a blooming paradise.

Just remember to stop and smell the roses along the way.

She Kept a Tight Circle


Boots by Dr. Martens

There’s nothing like being surrounded by people who root for you. People who have your back and push you upward. A group that believes there is enough room at the top for everyone. That one of our success means all of our success.

It’s more incredible yet, to stand beside my gals (and guys) and encourage them to reach for the stars. If they stumble, they know they’ll see a line of stilettos encouraging them to get up and try again.

Yup, these are my kind of friends and I am happy to have a lot of y’all playing alongside me these days.

I once heard that a friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you’ve forgotten the words. I must say it’s one of the nicest things to have and one of the best things to be.

Positive Thoughts Brightened Her Day

We all know the saying, “You are what you eat.” I think there is another saying that should be just as well known, “You become what you think.”

NASA conducted a study that found that the act of stating an intention for 32 consecutive days can actually create new neural pathways in the brain. Studies show that when we repeatedly think a thought, physical changes in the brain occur, making it easier to think the thought and, more importantly, act on it. No joke! The rocket scientists say so.

It’s easy to focus on the negative, on all the things that are not working, but whatever we place our energy on grows. I often take a moment to ask myself if my thoughts are focused on improbability or possibility, scarcity or abundance? I try to observe where I’m focusing my attention. I do my best to stay focused on what I’d like to bring forward in my life.

I try to make it a game. I keep a pad of paper in my pocket and note every negative thought I have throughout the day. Before bed, I go over the list and replace each negative thought with a positive thought. It works!

Here are some of the reframes I played with this week:

Original thought: I’m an awful mother. I can’t believe I don’t have more patience.
Re-stated thought: I’m discovering new ways to cultivate greater patience daily.

Original thought: I am afraid of trying, I’m sure I’ll be horrible at it anyway.
Restated thought: I am embracing my creativity and trusting myself.

Original thought: It’s not safe for me to speak my mind. I’ll just be shot down anyway.
Restated thought: I am safe to speak my truth. My ideas are respected and heard.

Every morning, when I step into my shoes I state what I want to create in my life. Hey, if the shoe fits, I wear it… and if it doesn’t, I change into a pair that does.