Why a shoe horn is making me so happy

An intro image showing two shoes worn by someone with great taste in socks (they're striped!). We see a shoehorn helping get a foot into the right shoe.

I’m at that age where I’m not old, but I am looking for ways to eliminate the pesky problems of aging. Last month, I posted on Facebook that I now needed slip-on winter boots because I was done – done, I say! – with bending over to lace my boots, especially all bundled up in my winter gear.

Friends laughed along with me and suggested their solutions, but one of them said, “You know what you need? A shoe horn. That’s a game changer.”

Wouldn’t you know, a few weeks later I was browsing Canadian Tire’s gadget aisle and there it was – a shoe horn. Not a small shoe horn, but a three-footer! I would not have to bend over to put on my boots!

Let me tell you right now that I can bend over. I bend over to pick up the socks my son leaves lying on the floor, I bend down to feed the dog, I bend down to touch my toes every weekday during my 30-minute aerobics class. Bending is not a problem. I just don’t want to.

And now, here in my hands, was a tool to save me from bending some of the time. Would it work? I was willing to experiment for $6.99.

I should stop here to explain what a shoe horn is. I’ve learned not everyone knows. I know this because I’ve been crowing about this new purchase for the last three weeks. People say, “A shoe what?”

A shoe horn is a tool that helps you put on your shoes without squishing down the backs of the shoes. I hear they prolong the lives of shoes for that reason. The ‘horn’ is concave to fit around your heel. My research – yes, I read about this! – tells me some folks call them ‘shoe spoons’ after this rounded shape.  They were first made out of animal horns, which explains the name, and you can see some beautiful examples of vintage shoe horns made from horns, hooves, ivory and shells.

You use the shoe horn by placing it in the shoe against the back heel, then slipping your foot in.

Until now, in my mind, shoe horns were used only by old men in fedoras to slip on their dress shoes – the dress shoes they covered up with rubber toes in winter.

Now I know: shoes horns are also for me.

I’ve been slipping on my no-laces boots with a smile on my face and chortling glee. 

It’s so easy!

It’s so simple it’s beautiful!

How did I not know this tool could make my life a little easier?

What other challenges am I facing that others already have a solution for? What assumptions have I made about tools built to make life easier?

Last week, I asked for help again. I am in a training program led by a coach. I was feeling a lot of inner resistance about using social media for business. It felt inauthentic and burdensome. The coach listened to my problem and prodded me to envision a different way forward. What would that look like? What would I need to do differently? What if I didn’t post online for a while?

I let myself be coached. I let myself consider new ways of doing what I do.

The result? I removed that chore from my calendar. I said yes to an in-person event. And I explored the ease of networking in person. I considered how I could create new opportunities to gather and engage in a way that felt natural and fun.

The most fascinating outcome was this: as soon as I took “post online” off my calendar, I felt immediately lightened. I had been carrying the weight of “undone-ness” for a long time. Within hours, I was engaging people online and posting for fun. By giving myself permission not to add social media as one more task in my day, I was permitting myself to enjoy it.

People are great. Really. All I had to do was raise my hand and tell someone I was hitting a speed bump. And people stepped in with suggestions and solutions for me.

It’s a good reminder, isn’t it? Especially for those of us in roles where we show up as an expert to others.

I’ll have to remember that.

Raise hand. Ask a question. Try something new.

A photo of Dinah showing off her shoe horn in one hand, holding her winter boot in the other.
Shoehorns – not just for old men!

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