Throwing the Shoe

This morning EJ and I stopped at the bank before heading to the store in a nearby town to pick up a few items. We had a nice chat with the tellers at the bank. The husband of one teller works with my husband, and the husband and son of the other were involved in JJ’s Boy Scout Troop. As we finished our business, EJ commented that every day “We just keep throwing the shoe.” I said to him, “You realize that no one but us knows what ‘throwing the shoe’ means.”

Contrary to what you might think if you read yesterday’s post about the sleep-depriving, emotion-intensifying effects I suffer from Prednisone, “throwing the shoe” does not mean throwing shoes at each other in anger. It is a phrase that came about from an experience in my life.

There are very beautiful sand dunes along Michigan’s west coast called “Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes.” They are so beautiful that viewers of the Good Morning America TV program voted it the most beautiful place in America in 2011. Here is a video of the dunes if you’d like to see them:

I have gone to the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes several times in my life, but this particular experience happened when my family went camping at the dunes when I was 19 years old. At the time, only my younger sister and I were still living at home. My older siblings had moved away. I learned that it was only a three mile walk across the dunes from the campground to Lake Michigan. I suggested to my sister that it would be very fun to walk to the Lake and jump in and swim a while. She thought it sounded fun, so off we went.

sand3
Photo: Sleeping Bear Dunes – Pure Michigan

The dunes were high mountains of sand, and the sand was hot. We were wearing sandals and for every step we took, we slid back a couple inches. One step forward, half a step back. We kept expecting to see Lake Michigan glimmering from the summit of each dune, but all we saw when we made it to the top was another mountain of sand. And another. And another.

Hot and tired, it wasn’t long before my sister began grumbling and talking about turning back. I kept talking her into climbing another mountain. I didn’t want to quit. I told her that if we turned back, we’d be turning back in defeat, all our effort would have been wasted, and we’d never experience the refreshing joy of jumping into Lake Michigan. I encouraged her that we would probably see the Lake from the top of THIS dune. However, all we saw was yet another dune.

Finally, my sister said, “I am turning back NOW.” I suddenly had an inspiring idea. I asked her to take off one of her sandals and hand it to me. “Why?” she asked. “Just do it,” I said as I took off one of my sandals. She handed me her sandal and I threw her shoe and mine up the dune, just a few feet out of reach. “Why did you do that?!!” she yelled. I replied, “We now have a choice. We can climb up the dune and retrieve our shoes or we can turn back to the campground without them.” We climbed up the short distance to our shoes. “Let’s throw our shoes again and climb up and get them,” I suggested and we did. My sister caught on to the idea. The distance to Lake Michigan had seemed much too far away, but it was not too far to climb up and retrieve our shoes. We kept throwing our shoes and climbing up to retrieve them and throwing them again. We quickly made it to Lake Michigan, jumped in the oh, so, refreshing water, splashed around a bit, and returned to our campground in victory and having had a great time.

Photo: Ashcreekimages.com
Photo: Ashcreekimages.com

When I met EJ, I told him that story, and “throwing the shoe” has become something we quote to remind ourselves that when a goal seems unattainable, if we take it in little steps, it seems more possible and becomes reachable.

I throw the shoe when I have a difficult job to do. For example, yesterday when I was removing the bricks from the garden path in the back yard, I told myself that I would just remove the bricks up to the next post. When I reached it, I told myself I would do a couple more feet. Then I told myself that, well, I’ll just do a bit more. Suddenly, I had finished the whole path. No problem.

Sometimes when life has seemed very difficult, I have told myself that I would just be strong and have faith for today. Or for the next hour. Or for the next five minutes. Or even for the next 60 seconds. Life is just made up of seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks…and if I am strong for this minute…and this minute…and this minute…I will find that I am strong for the hours and days and weeks and years of my life.

Photo: greatlakesgazette.wordpress.com/
Photo: greatlakesgazette.wordpress.com/

Yup. Throwing the shoe works.

I am throwing the shoe with Prednisone. Eight (or is it nine?) days to go before I am finished with it. That’s a long time to not sleep well and to struggle to control emotions, but I can make it through TODAY. No problem. When I am done with the medication, it’s likely that the rash will be completely gone too. THAT will be like a refreshing leap into Lake Michigan.

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