New Years Tears: Grieving the Old Stories While Welcoming The New

BethanyPaige-4195

I have New Year’s tears.

I didn’t expect them.

December 31st represented the end of my career in finance. It was the job I started when I was 18, making $7.35/hour. It was the mentors and the five year plans and the rejections and the assertions and the decisions. It was the people who told a poor girl from the violent neighborhood who had seen too much bad that she’d never get to more than customer service and shift differential. Who then congratulated her when she became a Senior Vice President and managed billions of dollars. The girl who barely made ends meet and lived off of cans of corn and potato flakes from the scratch and dent store who just facilitated the largest single gift the Girl Scouts have ever received in their history. A new camp for generations of girls to learn how to be the girl she never thought she could be, but the girl she had to become, because you can’t go back once you leave. You keep going.

I’ve been going since the day I learned what happened to the women in my neighborhood if they didn’t get out.

That girl died on December 31st.

I officially changed my title on Linked In to represent the life I am creating out of purpose as opposed to fear. I am so grateful for the company that raised me, the bosses that led me, the mentors who changed me. I am thankful to them for parenting a girl from the worst part of town who had no direction. A girl with a need to survive and never go back. A girl who turned that into a beautiful life.

A girl who is now harnessing those years of experience, drive, and success to make a difference for the ones who come next.

On her terms.

 

Gratitude and Grown Up Shoes

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I got a new pair of shoes. They’re really cute. I receive a lot of compliments on them and they’re the perfect sandals for sundresses and running through airports.

Stick with me. I swear I’m not going to talk about Pumpkin Spice lattes and glitter pens.

I grabbed them during a sniper shopping spree. I needed new shoes for work and quickly pointed to five pairs, tried them on, pointed to two pairs that made the cut, “I’ll take those,” and handed the salesman my card. He laughed, “You are the fastest female shopper I’ve ever met. Very decisive.”

It was simply an errand because I had incredibly important things to do before the beginning of the week. I had big meetings scheduled in Denver and I needed to get it done so I could run home and pack for my trip.

I packed. I drove myself to the airport. I flew to Denver, nailed my meetings and even fit in dinner with friends who noticed my adorable sandals. It was as I was sitting in the bathroom stall, of all places, at DIA before I boarded my flight back to Las Vegas that I looked down at my feet and wondered when it was that I stopped being grateful over a new pair of shoes.

New shoes were a big deal when I was a little girl. Most of my clothes were hand me downs, but I almost always got one pair of new shoes when I outgrew the last. I always had school shoes (sneakers) and church shoes. I gently rubbed a little soap on my church shoes with a washcloth after every few wears to make sure they stayed pretty since I wasn’t sure when I’d get a new pair. My mom threw my sneakers in the wash here and there and over time they always turned that unfortunate gray color that smacked of putty and the smell of a child playing in the street till dusk. You know the throw back photos from the 80’s. The ones with the kids with stringy hair, dirty knees and skinny legs that stop at these block of a dirty shoe on their feet.

I remember the first time I bought my own shoes for work. I was sixteen and had my first summer job. I took my time, walking down every aisle of a store my parents would have said was for the materialistic. I smelled all the leather. I touched all the buckles. I daydreamed about the women who walked in and just picked out shoes like it was a Tuesday. I wondered if I was being ostentatious, spoiled and finally naive to think I deserved such nice shoes, who do I think I am?

The pair I selected were gorgeous and extremely expensive for a part time student clerk, but they made me walk with purpose. They were sleek and gave me grown up feet. I no longer had clunky, silly kid feet, no. These were pointy, purposeful, grown up feet that were feeling more in control of life, a nod away from my poor neighborhood.

My shoes were pointing me in a new direction.

When I was in my twenties I had to save up for going out shoes. There was a time when I wanted a sparkly pair of silver heels so bad, but they had no tangible purpose except for making me look like a sex pot. So, I had to pinch my pennies until I could afford my dancing feet.

When I came into my career in my thirties my closet filled with shoes. I have shoes for lazy days, shoes for big meetings, lucky red shoes for when I need a little extra something, party shoes, beach shoes, yawning shoes, sneezing shoes, grumpy shoes, smiling shoes, frowning shoes, serious girl shoes, playful girl shoes and on and on I could go. Oddly enough my feet are less happy than they’ve ever been since all these beautiful shoes do note exactly promote foot health.

But, there I was flitting through my day, my meetings and dinners all checked off the list and staring at my pedicured feet strapped into sandals that I just noticed with the eyes of the sixteen year old staring down at her first grown up shoes. They were sandals that would have been a luxury. They were not purposeful shoes. They were not a neutral color to go with any outfit and I was not grateful for them.

I walked to my plane, boarded, put my bag up, took my seat and pulled my phone out. I found my Notes section and started a list, “I’m grateful for…”

I was grateful that I was the little girl who had to wash and air dry her shoes to keep them pretty.

I was grateful for the shoes I bought when I was sixteen that opened up my world for me, pointed me in a new direction.

I was grateful for the struggle to afford my party shoes.

I was grateful for the job that brought me shoes that I strapped to my feet to experience my life in all its iterations; the celebrations, the dates, the vacations, the experiences I couldn’t have imagined when I was cleaning my church shoes.

I was grateful for forgetting.

But, more importantly – I was grateful for the moment I remembered.