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9/10 Weekly creativity contest winner & new prompt

Last week’s creativity contest prompt, “my favorite shoes,” was not a favorite with blog readers! Cathy Coley wins as the sole entrant. I do want to personally give Cathy a round of applause for entering the contest every week, without fail, even when the prompt necessarily doesn’t grab her. Go, Cathy! Your $10 gift certificate is en route. Cathy’s entry:

My Favorite Shoes
I had to think long and hard about shoes for this prompt. It’s not something I’m accustomed to doing of late. You see, my feet and back and hips and ankles ache, no matter what I wear, so shoes for me have become the last ditch thing. If I leave the house, I wear pretty much one pair that I pick up cheaply. Their life is a solitary one until I’ve worn them out or the dog eats them beyond recognition.

Lately, I’ve branched out and made a shoe social club of three pairs under my desk. The sandals, summer’s coming to an end, the black square toed slip-ons and the brown pointed penny moccasins. That’s right, I have a black pair and a brown pair these days. The black only have a slight chew mark at the heel, and a nibble out of the insole which looks like the chew mark kids draw on apple drawings with the worm wiggling out. The gardening clogs remain steadfastly by the slider to the backyard. They are an exclusive sort.

In the house, and even to the mailbox, I am a barefoot gal. I am allergic to sneakers, literally. My feet are freedom seekers. Until the cold sets in, then I am a sock gal. My feet are always horrifyingly cold, even if the weather isn’t too chilly. I thought that would change after my move southward, but I did not anticipate the no basement housing plan that prevails below the Mason-Dixon Line. So my first floor is cement slab, under the wood one we installed in the kitchen and den, and the ugly industrial carpeting in the living room and dining room we want to replace. Try walking across a steady 40 degree floor with icicle feet, especially those front hall tiles. It hurts—a lot, all the time. So come wintertime, I wear socks and shoes in the house now. I miss my old Boston apartments where whoever lived below me always kept their heat too high, so I could go barefoot in December. They didn’t know that’s why they were doing so, but I sure appreciated the psychic connection.

I was a barefooter, even as a kid. Until I was seven, I lived in a neighborhood with sidewalks, one block from the beach. I dared the other kids to dare me to walk on the broken glass which often littered our sidewalks from the high schoolers’ beach going festivities of the previous night. My feet were tougher than a horse’s hooves from walking or running down the hot black tar street to the beach, on the sand, and clambering all over the barnacled, seaweed and mussel covered rocky jetty. I walked that glass, as if I were a fire walker walking the coals. It was almost spiritual, about as spiritual as a five-year-old out-toughing her friends can get.

The spring I was seven, we moved to a dead-end street whose dead-end abutted another. It was a private road with slices of woods through the backyards of the whole neighborhood. My backyard was a big hill down from the house to the woods, with great climbing trees scattered throughout. I was always monkeying around barefoot, of course. For my fourteenth birthday I received the ten-speed with spiky pedals which I rode barefoot, to the astonishment of many neighborhood moms. I rode it to the beach of course, walked across that old hot tar parking lot to the hot sand then the cool reef at low tide.

I took great pride in my bare feet’s toughness. I was very protestant about it, to suffer was to be close to God. But I did not really suffer, I had the protestant work ethic about my bare feet. I had suffered to get them tough, and that made me tough. And I was in toe shoes as a child dancer by age nine, which is probably a large part of the reason I’m such an achy mess now.

Now, by my old standards, I am a weak old tenderfoot. But my feet are still more calloused than most, and I like them this way. There were teenaged years, college years and my young adulthood when I had favorite comfy shoes, favorite pretty shoes, cool suede boots and three inch heels in which I tromped all over Boston twice as fast as anyone else on the sidewalk. But now, I throw on what I can find, what’ll do, what’ll be presentable enough to go out in public, but not have to bother too much about. And that’s just fine by me. As long as I can feel grass and sand between my toes, I’ll have the happiest feet around.


From me (Miranda): There are a few “girly” things I didn’t learn as a child. It wasn’t until well into adulthood that I learned how the right undergarments are vital to the fashion package. It also took me a long time to learn that the right pair of shoes can save almost any outfit. These days, I am always on the lookout for good shoes that are comfortable but stylin’ (at least to me). I don’t do the traditional pump — those just hurt too much, and it’s not my style. But there’s still a lot to pick from, and I rarely leave DSW empty-handed. These days, when I need all the help I can get to look put together, my favorite shoes are friendly and forgiving. They fall into the category of things I love, regardless of whatever anyone else thinks about them. We all need a few things like that, don’t we?


The Importance of Feet
To understanding
shoes, I arrive late in life—
but now wear them well


This week’s prompt: “The guitar”

Use the prompt however you like — literally, or a tangential theme. All media are welcome. Please e-mail your entries to by 8:00 p.m. eastern time on Tuesday, September 16. The winning entry receives a $10 gift certificate to Writers should include their submission directly in the body text of their e-mail. Visual artists and photographers should attach an image of their work as a jpeg. Enter as often as you like; multiple submissions for a single prompt are welcome. There is no limit to how many times you can win the weekly contest, either. (You do not have to be a contributor to this blog in order to enter. All are invited to participate.) Remember, the point here is to stimulate your output, not to create a masterpiece. Keep the bar low and see what happens. Dusting off work you created previously is OK too. For more info, read the original contest blog post.

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Cathy #

    thanks for the gc and the kudos, miranda! i thought that was what the contest was about. 🙂 i guess after graduating school long ago, i am much better about doing homework.

    but really, i find the challenges fun, and as long as i keep at them, i am keeping myself in a creative mode, which, sorry to repeat, can easily get sucked into laundry and dishes, etc.

    September 10, 2008
  2. Charlotte #

    Is it ok to refer on this blog to published work that we’re reminded of, or does that squash our own efforts…? Well, I’ll try – you can mod me! Re. the shoes prompt – this immediately brought to mind Mary Karr’s poem “Beauty and the Shoe Sluts” from her collection “Viper Rum”… take a look. Wicked sense of humour. I have an ongoing potboiling project of trying to translate some of them into German, I like them so much.

    September 10, 2008
  3. Great poem, Charlotte. (

    You are heartily encouraged to make note of anything that comes up for you in a prompt — the intention is to connect with the creative world (external and internal) so it’s all reinforcing, IMHO.

    September 10, 2008
  4. i love your story, cathy! congrats! miranda, i live for DSW. 🙂 i’m a barefoot girl at home but i will admit that i am a slave to fashion when it comes to shoes. i unabashedly admit that i currently have 54 pairs in my closet and have not yet figured out how to get my dh to understand why i need 6 different pairs of black shoes. you know, there’s the casual flats, the sporty sneaks, the dressy evening stiletto sandals, the not really very sensible peep toe pumps for work….i could go on and on…

    September 10, 2008
  5. Cathy #

    thanks, kelly! and i forgot to mention cute shoes, miranda!

    September 10, 2008

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  1. Strumming something up? Contest deadline tonight! « Creative Construction: Life & Art

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