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Shoes are what make the outfit. I love the power they have to dress up or down a look, or pull an entire outfit together. In fact, when I plan what I'll be wearing the next day, it often revolves around the pair of shoes I want to wear.

When I was in middle school and high school, cleaning my room or organizing my closet usually turned into me trying on and counting all of my shoes. I often daydreamed about running a shoe store called "Pump it Up" where I would design and sell my unique creations. I would draw doodles on my notebooks and folders of tennis shoes, pumps, and boots. My obsession with shoes was probably unhealthy, since I am sure I measured my self-worth based on the number of shoes I owned. Even now I have a cute little sign that hangs in the back of one of my shoe cubbies in my closet that reads, "She who dies with the most shoes...WINS!"

My husband, aware of my obsession and noticing I needed a new pair of heeled boots for my speaking appointments, decided that for Christmas he would purchase me new ones. I obviously was thrilled to get a new pair of boots, but like most attempts by husbands to buy shoes for their wives, I wasn't entirely happy with the look and fit. My husband could tell I wasn't sincerely in love with the pair so he said he wanted to try again to get a pair he thought I would like. Another week passed and the boots he ordered arrived at our front door. They were super trendy and from a well known designer, but again, not exactly what I was looking for in look and fit.

At this point and to my husband's relief, I took the control of the situation and told him I would do the work to return and exchange my gift. Excitedly, I drove toward the mall with boots nestled in their box ready to fund my spending spree. One of the sales people there was super helpful, and apparently really good at her job because I walked out with not one but two new pairs of boots to replace the pair my husband gave me. I was a little nervous to show my husband the result of my exchange, but to my delight, he wasn't upset at all and wanted me to model the new boots. I modeled both pairs and was quickly taken out of my shoe utopia when he asked, "Weren't these supposed to replace your speaking boots?"

He was right...both of the new boots I had purchased were riding boots. Also in my excitement to get a new pair, I had already donated my old pair to the Idaho Youth Ranch, so I couldn't keep these new shoes without replacing my old ones. I had to return them and get a pair that was suitable for my profession. I drove back to the store again and sheepishly walked in with my boots to exchange. I was relieved to see a completely different set of workers staffing the store. I was there for awhile, trying on all the different pairs, and finally found the "PERFECT" pair. They were beautiful. Soft and supple black leather with memory-foam inserts and really nice rubber soles. A single stylish buckle wrapped the ankle and a zipper ran the length of the boot. I walked around in them admiring them from several different angles in the many mirrors that hung in the shoe section. I made my exchange and while headed back home, called my husband and said, "I can't wait for you to see them. They are PERFECT!"

As soon as I opened the box and pulled them out, I could hear my husband chuckling. I didn't really think too much about it until I had put them on and zipped them up. He said, "You know those are the first boots I bought you...right?"

I looked down. They did look familiar all of a sudden. I protested a little, "No...these aren't the same ones...are they?" We both laughed about it as I walked around showing off the original pair of boots my husband had bought me. Now a few weeks later, thinking about this funny experience, it has reminded me a few things about life:

1. We often want to "exchange" our lives for one that is "perfect". I have heard before that if all of us were in the same room and threw our problems into a pot and could pick new ones, after seeing everyone else's problems, we would quickly grab ours back. Sometimes it is hard to accept the life we have been given rather than the life we wish for.
2. Life's journey often forces us to walk in a different pair of shoes than the ones we choose (ones that cannot be returned or exchanged). The "breaking in" process is painful, will make us cry, and will drive us down on our knees. We must not forget to ask for help, stand back up, and keep putting one foot in front of the other.
3. Oh, and....Macy's has a great return policy!


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