Monthly Archives: June 2011

Sneaker Setup: Enjoy the NOW

(Stop being such a worrier)
Submitted by AJ

I am a worrier…so much so, that I often miss out on positive joyful things because I am so full of worry about the future. 

You see, I LOVE my dog but, sometimes my husband will look at me looking at her and say…”STOP IT”…because instead of a look of joy on my face there are tears in my eyes….thinking about when she won’t be around anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I do have lots of wonderful happy times with her. 

So, my sneaker: to enjoy the now. I am going to take a class with her to train her to be a therapy dog! I think this will be a wonderful opportunity for me to concentrate on the positive and share her “wonderful-ness” with others.

Thank you so much for this wonderful blog. I am looking forward to reading how others are getting their sneakers dirty and I promise to update you on my progress…so many things to work on and such a fun way to do it.



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Sneaker Story: Last Minute Trip


(Stop being such a planner)
Submitted by Sarah I.

“It was just over 24 hours before we would be leaving for the airport. How was I going to be ready in that little time?

          I’m a planner. Now, when I say “planner,” I don’t mean that I choose what I’m going to wear the night before and lay it out so it’s all ready in the morning.  I have calendars and lists and notes on footnotes to those lists and calendars. If something is going to happen in my life, it is usually scheduled out well in advance. Spontaneity is NOT my middle name.  My husband and I are living overseas, and we found a website with last minute deals to European destinations.  “Last minute” can sometimes mean that you have about three hours to pack up and get yourself to the airport. So on a Thursday night when my husband asked if I wanted to spend the weekend in Prague, I knew that this was the perfect opportunity to get my sneakers dirty.
          We booked our tickets.  By the time we got our confirmation from the airline, it was just over 24 hours before we would be leaving for the airport. How was I going to be ready in that little time?  What about all the things I already had on my list and my calendar? 
          The truth is, it was all fine.  I spend a few minutes sending some emails to move a few things around, and the world didn’t stop. I packed a backpack (a tiny one!) with three shirts, some underwear and socks, and a pair of pants.  I grabbed my camera, and we were off. I didn’t have time to worry about if I had exactly the right clothes and shoes for each and every kind of situation I might find myself in.  In fact, it was literally just me and my sneakers. We had a fantastic trip. To be honest I did buy a guidebook and do a little reading and preparing of all the things that we would see and do, but I realized that it was ok to jet off to a new city for the weekend without a plan of exactly what we would see, do, and eat at every moment of the day. We had fun.  Tons of fun.  When we came home three days later, I realized that my once-white sneakers were actually dirty. 


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Sneaker Story: Close Your Eyes and JUMP!


(Let go and trust that someone will catch me)

Submitted by Lisa G.

“My biggest concerns are trusting I can do this—
and believing I won’t hurt myself if I do.”


They didn’t take my picture. There I was, 12-years-old and flying through the air, my little hands holding onto the swinging bar for dear life, then letting go as I was lowered into the net…and they didn’t take my picture. WHEN was I going to do that again? I wouldn’t be going back to camp, and there weren’t many flying trapezes in the real world. True, I didn’t do it full out. I didn’t let go and hang from my knees and trust someone to catch me as I untangled myself from the bar. But still!  That was a big moment! When I think about doing it now (as an adult) and I picture myself flying through the air, feeling such utter freedom andassurance that I can let go and will be caught… it seems impossible. To let go and soar would be a miracle in my world! (Both literally and physically.) Well, it happens I live in a city that offers flying-trapeze classes. 

So here’s the deal:  I will let go on a flying trapeze.  As an adult.


I’m actually doing this. In a few hours, I’ll be sailing through the air. I’m thrilled and terrified. For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to fly. Whenever kids played “what superpower would you have?” I always chose the ability to fly. Holding onto a bar and flying through the air would be a dream come true. However, the anxiety-ridden part of me ignores these marvelous images and focuses on the negative: My core and arm strength leave much to be desired, so the thought of hanging by my arms and tucking my legs over a bar is disconcerting—and what if I’m the only one in class who can’t do it? How embarrassing! Furthermore! Then there’s the issue of having the fortitude to let go, especially while flying through the air. That alone is a huge relinquishing of control. Yes, I’ll be in a harness, but I still have to trust I’ll be safe. Reaching out to catch my instructor and letting go of the bar is a HUGE leap of faith (no pun intended)— that he will catch me, that I will catch him, that the timing will work out. So I’m going to have to do all I can to focus and make it happen. My biggest concerns are trusting I can do this—and believing I won’t hurt myself if I do.


I’ve never been this petrified. Stretching in the trapeze studio, I look at the monstrous contraption in front of me. The platform is 20 feet off the ground. Underneath, there’s a five-foot squishy mat. As I look up the tiny ladder we’ll climb, I feel a little sick. Jay, one of three beautifully sculpted instructors, guides us to a static rig, basically a trapeze bar on the ground. He shows us how to grip the bar, put our legs over it, let go, hang upside-down and look back with arms outstretched. My panic rises. It looks like you really need arm and core strength—neither of which I possess. I let go and hang okay, but Jay needs to help me back up. 

THIS does not bode well. 

He explains that the static rig is more difficult than the flying one, where momentum helps. He tells us we’ll swing upside-down with arms outstretched then catch one of the instructors (or really, he’ll catch us). But we won’t be doing that until the end. Mostly, we’ll practice backflips off the bar. I must be making a “you’re out of your mind” face, because Jay sees me and cracks up. He assures me it will make sense in the moment.

As the other students perfectly execute the moves, my palms start sweating, my heart pounds, my stomach is in knots, and I consider bailing. But I don’t. Instead, I take a deep breath and start up the ladder. Each step feels like an eternity. At the top, Todd, another instructor, is waiting. I explain my terror to him. Then Jay appears, giving encouragement. Todd hooks me to the harness, grips the back of my belt and instructs me to lean forward and grab the trapeze bar. Utterly terrified, I’m having flashbacks to camp years, when they made us do ropes courses and I’d be in tears. But the memories make me more determined. So I steady myself, bend my knees when Todd says,“Ready,” and jump when he says, “Hep!” 

Taking the phrase “high anxiety” literally.

And then…I’m flying. I’ve done it! 

Look!  I’m smiling!  And FLYING!

I don’t have long to enjoy the sensation, as below, Chase, the third instructor, is telling me to lift my legs for the knee tuck and wrap at the top of my swing. I try but don’t have the strength—my knees don’t make it up. I keep swinging, and Chase keeps shouting instructions, and I can’t do any of them! He lowers me, and I slink off, giving my “I’m just not strong enough” excuse. Chase says flying has nothing to do with strength—it’s all momentum and timing. I have to stop thinking and just do it. Ha! If only he knew how hard that is for me! He shows me what to do with my body to get the knee tuck to work, then I go to my chair, embarrassed. I watch the class do it again, one by one, flawlessly.

Then I’m up. This time, I’m calmer, determined to make it work. “Hep!”—I’m off in the air again! I follow Chase’s timing precisely. And guess what? I nail every move! Perfect knee tuck, perfect release and upside-down stretch, perfect back-flip! When I hit the mat beaming, everyone bursts into applause. I repeat the routine and nail it again! The terror is still there but decreasing each time. The best part is that at the end of each turn, I have no recollection of what I did because I was so in the moment. That has NEVER happened!

I’m beginning to feel really good when Todd announces we’re going to do catches, the part I was dreading. I wait my turn, take my swing, and miss my knee tuck. Again, I‘m back in my head, and my body doesn’t do what it’s supposed to. Luckily, we have time to try once more. I want this so badly. I want to know I can push myself past my limits and let go. So, off the platform I jump, through the air I sail, and around the bar I wrap my knees. At the top of my swing, I reach out and feel Todd’s hands grip my wrists as my legs release the bar. The entire studio cheers as I soar through the air holding onto Todd. Then he releases me, and I land exactly as instructed. I could not have a bigger smile as Chase says I’ve earned my wings. Jay says he knew I could do it, the whole class knew. I was the only one who doubted myself.

He caught me!  I let go and he caught me.  Amazing!

Once I got out of my own way, I did great. Now if I can only keep applying that lesson to the rest of my life…



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Sneaker List: Establish Expertise…

Establish expertise in my area of interest…
Submitted by Ariel R.

GOAL: Establish expertise in my area of interest by continually demonstrating (and gaining!) knowledge

EXPLANATION: I avoid doing this at home, at work, at conferences, at social gatherings. I lose sight of the point, and thereby my motivation. I lose sight of the bigger picture and get mired in day to day tasks. I lack confidence in my knowledge. I am naturally introverted.


1. Spend at least 15 minutes a day reading news and blogs

2. Spend at least 10 minutes a day talking to someone I don’t usually talk to

3. Write a blog post

4. Go to a show

5. Go to a lecture

6. Go to a meetup

7. Read an essay

8. Complete a new solo work

9. Complete a new work with coworkers

10. Obtain a speaking engagement

11. Submit to a festival


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Sneaker Story: Drive on the freeway


(Life is a highway, now get on it!)

Submitted by Marianne H.

“That lady is not chasing me. She has a baby in an infant seat.”


I cannot, under any circumstances, no matter how much in a hurry I am, drive on the freeway or highway. It always seems to me that everyone driving behind me is chasing me. To catch me. For what reason? Can’t figure that out. It just feels that I have to drive faster and faster to get away from the other drivers.

It gets worse. I have no patience with people who don’t drive well – or, at least, don’t obey the law. So as I am driving to get away from the people who are chasing me, and am already anxious, I get mad when drivers change lanes without signaling, drive while talking on the phone, cut me off to make turns while honking angrily – you get the idea. Somehow, when driving on streets, with everyone in slower motion, I can deal with the thoughtlessness of others, since the resulting danger would be easier to avoid. And the stop and go traffic makes the whole process more human. Hard to feel that someone is chasing me when they are driving 35 miles an hour, and stop and go to get there.


I cannot spend my life taking an hour to get to my destination which is, in reality, only minutes away. It is inconvenient. It is silly. And it is becoming increasingly difficult to explain to others why I have to leave so early to get someplace, or why, when I drive a friend somewhere, I can’t take the highway. I am not a child. But I feel like one when it comes to living in a world where it is nearly impossible not to, at some time during the day, drive on a highway, and I can’t do it. 

I resolve to do it. My methodology seems so obvious to me – get on the freeway, and just drive to the next exit, and then get off. Do that several times. Then drive past and exit at the second exit. Get off. 
And I decide that at the same time I am driving, I will listen to my favorite, most soothing music , a song I love more than any other, a piece which makes me smile and gives me peace.
And I promise myself that I will make up stories for the other drivers, ones which do not include car chasing, but rather personal voyages which make sense to me.


Am getting into the driver’s seat. Seatbelt on. CD goes in – the song: Judy Garland (or Katherine McPhee) singing “Somewhere over The Rainbow”. 
Breathe. OK. Breathing. Start the car. Drive to the freeway entrance. I pull over. 
Breathing again. Judy is singing, “Bluebirds can fly.” Yup, I think, so can I.
I get on the onramp. Push on the gas pedal, harder and harder. Make it up the ramp to 45, then 50. Signal as I get  into the left lane. Am up to 60. I see the cars behind me. “Nope”, I tell myself “. That lady is not chasing me. She has a baby in an infant seat, so she is taking that baby to music class. She is no hurry. She is just intent on getting there. Safely. She moves up alongside me, and as I glance at her, she is singing, probably to her baby. As she passes me, she signals.
OK. Good. I can do this. I get off at the next exit, as she does, and pull over.
That was not so bad. I decide to get on again, this very minute, and try for two exits.
Getting on. Getting up to 60 faster this time. Judy is singing, “Bluebirds fly over the rainbow, why, then oh why, can’t I?” I answer Judy – ” I can. Watch me.”
I am now doing 65. Cars are still passing me (that man with the cap over his eyes – he is on his way to a baseball game, I am sure, and he is hoping to catch a fly ball), but I don’t care. They are not chasing me – I seem to be chasing them. Instead of watching them for signs of hostility, I see people rushing to get home. I see blue skies. I change lanes (signaling of course) realizing that here I am, 31, and this is the first time I have actually changed lanes at 65 miles an hour. And I am fine. Smiling, actually. I pass others, and some still pass me. But my hands are not clenched, and my heart is not pounding. 
Am I thrilled? Not quite. I signal, as I change lanes again, and get off at this exit. I see I drove past 4 exits. And Judy is, so appropriately, singing, “Dreams that you dare to dream, really do come true.”

OK. I guess you can say my sneakers are scuffed. Not filthy, but scuffed, nevertheless. First step – a big one for me. Next time, I am actually going to make it to the beach. Ten Exits. No problem.

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Sneaker List: Stop worrying so much about always being PERFECTLY prepared

SNEAKER: Stop worrying so much about

always being PERFECTLY prepared

Submitted by Laurie M.

GOAL: Stop worrying so much about always being PERFECTLY prepared

EXPLANATION: I find that I am so caught up in being afraid of being under prepared and terrified of having to “wing” anything, that I spend far too much time over-preparing to make sure everything is PERFECT before it ever sees the light of day. While this means that I present a good face to the world and impress people with my skills and professionalism, it also means that I am frequently exhausted with far too little free time. I need to learn to find a balance and trust that simply “preparing” is enough.


1. Draw a picture with my opposite hand (Note to self: It won’t be perfect and that’s okay)

2. Mess up my desk & don’t touch it for a week (Note to self: Just because there is disorder, doesn’t mean it is impossible to function)

3. Go to a meeting without a pen or any other writing utensil (Note to self: Learn to rely more on others)

4. Play a board game that I haven’t tried before (Note to self: I may not win but I can still have a good time)

5. Send an e-mail update to friends and family without re-reading it first (Note to self: Trust that there may be mistakes but friends and family won’t care)

6. Take a pottery class and create and paint an imperfect piece (Note to self: Live with imperfection)

7. Try a new sport (Note to self: Understand that I won’t win the Gold medal first time out)

8. Take an improvisation class (Note to self: Learn to be spontaneous)


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Sneaker Story: Pretend to be Outgoing


(Forget that I’m actually shy…)
Submitted by Jamie D.
“I suddenly have a Eureka moment…
they don’t KNOW that I’m shy.”
I’ve never been a naturally outgoing person. I’m not inclined to strike up a conversation or initiate a friendship. But I actually realized, years ago, that this was something I could change. I’m in my mid-thirties now, and still using and refining a Sneaker moment that happened when I was just 9 years old.

Here it is:
I’m packing for a week at sleep-away camp, the summer before 5th grade, when I suddenly have a Eureka moment. No one at this camp knows me. They don’t KNOW that I’m shy. So I could just show up and ACT OUTGOING, and people will think I’m outgoing. If the experiment failed, it would sure be a looong week. But there would be a light at the end of the tunnel: camp would end and I’d never see any of these people again. So I decide to give it a shot.


I arrive at camp and say goodbye to my parents. Then I walk up to the first girl I see, and imitate every outgoing girl I’ve ever met. I prepare to speak up, smile big, and act as if we are already friends. “HI!,” I say, in a much louder voice than my usual meek tones. “I’m Jamie. What’s your name?”


The girl smiled back, and was one of the many new friends I made that week at camp. It’s been 25 years, and I’m still not a naturally outgoing person. But I remind myself before every networking event and professional cocktail party to “get my sneakers dirty,” by acting outgoing. I’ve helped my career (and my husband’s) immensely due to my apparent outgoing personality at work-related functions. And I’ve made friends and real connections with others, especially with shy people. As a shy person myself, I know exactly how they feel, and how nice it is when an extrovert walks right up and introduces herself.

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