Sole Searching

From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – Many people know that when I recently went on a canoe trip it did not go as planned. Due to unforeseen circumstances, when we needed to get the canoe out of the water I did not have any shoes. 

This lack of footwear presented a challenge being that we were at the side of a bridge and there were hazards, like glass, in the ditch at which we were disembarking. We needed to get the canoe from parallel to shore to turned and headed up the bank. 

In my shoeless state, and the task of taking the top of the canoe up the bank, I almost immediately lost my footing. I found myself laying flat on my back on the bank, in the ditch. 

Laying there I realized that I still had a good hold on the canoe, and with the solid foundation of my position, I could easily turn and lift the craft up and over my sprawled body to where it needed to go. This technique was actually far easier that what I was trying to accomplish in my bare feet!

I have to reflect that something like this ‘canoe scenario’ is not unfamiliar to me. There have been times when I thought I could stay in a job I loved forever and something out of my control changed, or times when relationships that I wanted to be in for the rest of my life, ended. There has been grief, flopped projects, embarrassing misunderstandings and stories I was telling myself about a situation that proved entirely untrue. 

I have been sort of flattened in a proverbial ditch, kind of, a lot. Two things – in the ditch I am done falling, I have come to a stop, resting on the foundation of all that I know to be true, on my skills, my abilities, my family, my connections and what I know to be true about what I can do. I can rest on that solid ground and, since I am facing up, I can start to strategize and move – or move something – forward. 

And even though I am feeling a little battered, a little insignificant and wondering what kind of beer bottle shards are beneath me, if I think, regroup and force myself to actually take in the situation from my unexpected new vantage point, there is usually a new and sometimes better direction for me to go. 

The canoe often still needs to be hoisted, but just as in my ill-fated paddle of two weeks ago, I can usually get done what I need to get done, change my expectations and / or directions and get moving again.  Maybe that is just as it should be… if all things went completely to plan we would miss out on so much – unplanned joy, so many new directions, so many brand new skills. 

When the only direction is up and there is no possibility of actually living in the ditch, solutions, resilience and a new approach will be found. We will all get to where we are meant to go and will find new shoes along the way.

Photo by Irina Iriser on

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