Barefoot at the Airport

English: Concourse D at Portland International...
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Whilst traveling to California, I had the divine pleasure of making my way through the ever so tender and caring arms of airport security. At PDX, the line was 45 minutes long and the security guard in charge of the thing wore a wrinkled uniform that forced his ample belly to pop over his belt. Also, the man needed a proper shave for he had missed some stubble below his chin. And his left shoe was untied. But the worst thing about this guy was his directions, he said, “There’s a shorter line this way” then he motioned toward the left of the packed line I was in. I and some other people in my line headed in the direction he pointed. It lead to a “Do not enter, Restricted area.” When I cut back in line, the guard tried to get me to move to the end.
I said, “You told us the line was shorter there, but that’s a restricted area.”
He stammered, “Oh, I uh, meant the line over there,” then he pointed in the opposite direction.
He said, “Sorry, but you have to go the end of the line, sir.”
I freaking hate it when people apologize for giving me orders, polishing with sir! It makes me want kick ’em in the teeth. I looked at the people who let me cut back in line and said, “Do you mind my staying here? Security gave me bad directions and my plane leaves in 15 minutes.” They said they didn’t mind. So I turned from the guard and staid put, luckily the slovenly guard didn’t push the issue. He went on trying to control the line.

At the security check point, like the rest of the flock, I was forced to remove my shoes. That happily freed my  feet. I don’t wear shoes much and when I do, never

The sunset silhouettes a FedEx plane and the B...
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with socks. My bare feet, of course, brought some glares. The expression on persnickety elderly woman’s face made me want to laugh; it looked as if someone had dripped warm maple syrup down her spine. I shot her a winning smile and wink. I was surprised when she returned the smile. I decided to leave my shoes off for a while. I love my black converse, but they still give me blisters. It felt good to be barefoot in PDX. Walking without shoes makes the world feel bigger, plus it’s easier to soak up the energy of a place and PDX has a funky energy. A few minutes later, I spotted security headed my way. I promptly sat my ass down and put my shoes  back on.

At SJ airport, I wasn’t the only person with bare-feet. The guy in front of me didn’t wear socks either. Of course, at SJ, I had endure a full body scan. During the scan I remembered that I had forgotten to remove a packet of eye drops in my LEFT pocket. “OH, Sh%#!”, I thought with my hands behind my head–firing squad style–while the scanner whirred me from head to toes. Sure enough after the scan, a guard approached, “Sir, follow me. Do you have anything in your RIGHT pocket?”
I said, “Not that I know of.” He padded my right pocket. Nothing. He looked to person manning the body scanner and said, “He’s clean.”
“Have a nice flight, sir.”
When I was well out of view, I reached into my LEFT pocket and administered my eye drop. They were in my pocket the whole time.

What do I think airports can do to improve travel? Let’s see. I think they’ve got humiliating innocent men, women, and children at security check-points down; they could, however, probably hire security guards that know how to shave themselves and give proper directions, and it wouldn’t hurt if the person running the body scanner knew his left from right.

Fly safe, fly bare.

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Covert Hippie Praises Sandals

Hirschvogel Sandals
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If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that Mr. Valen Longfeather is making some major life changes. But, at heart, I’m still a fun loving hippie. In my latest YouTube Video, I kick, yet again, the horse of barefoot shoes–you see I still mix metaphors. You may wonder if I kick the horse with a straight bare foot or with a fancy sandal wearing foot or  with some other stylish minimalist shoe wearing foot. The truth is that sometimes I kick it straight bare other times I kick it wearing classy sandals.

You are probably thinking that I am ramblings; you are probably right. Just watch the video. It is slightly more focused. It will take more than short hair, organization, goals, and better hygiene to tame this wild beast.

Thanks for watching, thanks for reading. May you be healthy, may you be happy, may you live with ease.

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Barefooting is Hot and Sexy

For decades, I was afraid to get naked in public. I had learned to despise my human form. I had succumbed to years of guilt and shame about my body, it’s needs, and what I really want.  Guilt is a self-manufactured feeling. It means that I’m hiding my REAL desires from others because I don’t think they will understand or accept them. It usually spirals into depression or self loathing and a general sense of dissatisfaction with life. I spent my life like that for far too many years. I shut myself inside my house and clung to my routines, seeking a “safe and quiet life.” That’s fine for some things, but not 24/7. After all the freaking years, I see the light.

Barefooting in public has opened me. It’s sensual, it’s somewhat daring, and, yes, it’s literally a step closer to full on nudity. I’m NOT a streaker, I’m NOT flasher, I’m not even a nudist–maybe I am.

Yesterday at Ano Nuevo State Park in the warm California sunshine on a deserted stretch of beach, I flung my shirt off, pulled down my pants, stripped off my boxers and ran headlong into the ocean surf. The first wave baptized with freezing salt water, next one knocked me down, the third, I dove beneath.

When I raised my head from the pounding surf,  I felt ALIVE, AWAKE, WHOLE, and JOYFUL. I was NOT ashamed to be nude in public–not really “public”–no one was around. I am NOT ashamed of myself any longer. I am who I am. I will be who I will be. If others don’t like it, they can use the tight fabric prisons around their feet to walk away. Best of all, the awakening has given me the impetus to overcome fear and it has super-charged my libido! I haven’t’ felt this good in a long time.

Speaking of libido, I think, deep down, many women find barefooters secretly sexy. We are, after all, a little daring; we’re indepedent thinkers; not satistfied with status quo; most of us don’t accept what we’re told; we’re very open minded and like to test the world against our personal experience.  But back to the sexiness, in San Francisco when couples headed toward me, I noticed this scenario: Guy looks at my barefeet, then looks a way; his girlfriend looks at my barefeet, scans me up and down. Direct eye contact. A smile, sometimes followed by a blush.

I am thrilled to the core that I decided to take the shoes not just off of my feet but also off my mind. I’m nude and I love it.

 

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5 Holiday Gifts for Barefoot Athletes

Holidays 2011
Image by Christopher S. Penn via Flickr

What do you buy for the barefoot hippie , health nut, or super athlete in the family? If they’re anything like me, they’re as persnickety as cats when it comes to holiday gifts. So, here are 5 surefire, easy gift ideas for a joyous holiday season.  The athlete in your circle of friends or family will thank you, without the insincere, patronizing grin that they’ll probably lay on everyone else.

  1. Amazon Gift Card
    This is the ultimate no-brainer present. You can’t possibly go wrong because the person can pick whatever he or she wants. Amazon sells an array of products for bare footers, swimmers, and athletes: chia seeds, blenders, agave nectar, portable gps devices, and even books! Gift Cards also add an extra element of surprise. If the odd duck in your family is anything like me, he or she will enjoy the USPS anticipation. It’s one of the secret joys buying online. The USPS also seems to ship a little faster this time of year.
  2. Invisible Shoes
    These sandals are excellent “barefoot shoes”. Steven Sashen has upgraded the traditional Tarahurma Sandal without detracting from its brilliance. The Invisible running Shoes come in several different styles. There are bare bones kits and assembled sets. The barefoot running sandals are perfect for the DIY runner. The shoeless shoes will automatically conform to your foot; their thin soles and “feel true” technology really do give you all of the barefoot feel without destroying your sole.
  3. A Good Juicer
    Another essential product for anyone who wants to live healthy. Although juicing mostly separates the sugars and other nutrients from the fiber, it allows you to create and combine nutrient dense compounds which will give you the edge with turbo boost super all natural energy drinks. You can eat the yummy pulp or use it in other secret health concoctions.
  4. The Big Ass Book of Endurance Training
    This will make the family health-nut stoked. It gives you the low down on all things endurance. There is even a chapter about minimalist/Pose Style running. The premise of the book is solid and sensible: You have to be fine and fit for endurance sports. Step by step, the book teaches you this essential knowledge. Along with tips for proper diet and detailed exercise programs, this book will give you secrets to getting into, measuring, and staying in the best shape of your life. You’ll amaze yourself and your friends with your new found stamina and vigor.
  5. Water Bottles & Hydration & Food Pack Accessories
    Good water bottles, hydration packs, and holders are the kinds of things that most runners don’t often buy for themselves. They’re great for those longer runs.
  6. Runner’s Race Medal Hanger
    This is something every runner doesn’t know he or she wants. And it’s definitely something they won’t usually buy for themselves. Having a place to hang marathon medals will give your runner pride in the accomplishments of the past and motivation for the races in the future. My wife bought me one for my birthday; I use it more than my water bottles. It also it’s a lot nicer than draping your hard earned medals on a rusty nail pounded deep into your sheet-rock.
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How to Start Running in Free Shoes

Nike Air Max LTD 2
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Candy wants to get fit fast. She asks herself : “How do I start running without getting hurt?”
Her brain’s response: “Go shoe shopping!”

At the shoe store, Candy sees and army of brands: asics, new balance, Nike, saucany, not to mention these funny looking “barefoot shoes”.

She decides to go home to do some research. Wow! Amazon sells  them online. Then the question hits: “What size am I again?”. Last time she took up running she was 9.5 in Nike, but the time before that she was 10 in Asics. She saw one barefoot shoe site that had videos about how to make a template of her foot for to a custom pair.  But it was too much trouble.

A pair of ASICS running shoes, model GEL-Kinsei
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Unfortunately for most of the Candys out there, high priced or custom fit running shoe won’t do the running for them. In fact, Candy’s foot might not fit  into the factory made, mass produced pair of running shoes. Sports shoes are a joke; they’re full of gimmicks such as asics “gel” even the toe glove for five fingers or the special cushioning of saucony. Candy might be better off trail running  in a plain pair of tennis shoes like the low top converse all stars than the high tech brands she saw online or at the running store. Almost any pair of walking shoes that fit her feet would serve well for running.

Candy needs to know that it’s not the shoes; it’s the runner. Athletic shoes and sport shoes can’t trail run for her. The running store wants her to think they will. They want her to believe that the shoes will magically fix all her bad bio-mechanics that they’ll make her faster, leaner, and lighter. But they won’t. The best shoes in life are free.

Don’t get me wrong, shoes are good tools for improving form. They can compensate for bad bio mechanics and keep Candy running by alleviating the strain on her foot, but they don’t solve her core issues with running.

So, I give to Candy a pair of free shoes and a few free resources  about how to start running without shoes:

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3 Easy Barefoot Running Programs.

Discourse-into-the-night
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As I have mentioned many times, barefoot running has to be eased into. In fact, many responsible, barefoot shoe makers, such as SoftStar, are putting caveats on their products. You can, however, discuss deep philosophical topics without shoes or special training like these scholars of old.

In the “how to run barefoot” section of my site, I include a video that has step by step instructions about how to start running barefoot. But some people prefer reading and want to have a schedule. So, here are three resources to help first timers make the transition to barefoot running:

  1. The utter beginner program. For people who haven’t run a while and want to start out in their barefeet.
  2. The shod to shodless runner. For people who run in bouncy shoes, but want to become hippie barefoot runners.
  3. The “common sense” approach. This is for people who want advice from a Harvard man. Yes, it’s Lieberman.  Lieberman is a luminary  in the barefoot running community. His paper about the evolutionary roots of running explains much about the our biological need for cardio vasular exercise: “endurance running is a derived capability of the genus Homo, originating about 2 million years ago, and may have been  instrumental in the evolution of the human body form.”
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Barefooting at Timberline Lodge

The Overlook (Timberline Lodge) as seen in a s...
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I am lucky and honored to live in Sandy, OR. We’re minutes from majestic Mount Hood. My wife and I often drive up to Timberline Lodge to hike around. If you’ve ever seen Kubrick’s frightening movie, The Shining, then you’ve seen the exterior of the Timberline.

 

Cover of
Cover of The Shining

Lodge. I still get chills when I see the scene with the twins.

But this is the first year I’ve hiked Timberline barefoot. Wow! What a difference no shoes makes! The ground up there offers so many exciting textures; it’s rocky, but not as hard on your feet as you would think. The best part of hiking up there was the patches of snow! After tromping through each tiny field of the icy delight, my feet were greeted with warm gravel earth. The blood rushed to my soles filling them with a pleasant sensation that crept up to my ankles.

It was the Mt. Hood Mountain Massage. And I consider it a great honor. I’ve hiked there many times before but I feel much more connected with place now that I’ve hiked it barefoot. You get the sense that you’re interacting with mountain–almost having a dialogue with it.

Of course got some wicked glances from shod folk who must have thought I was crazy to be up there barefoot. (I did, however, bring a pack with snow emergency gear–yes there were warm shoes in there. I’m not stupid. I respect the mountain weather.) But I also got an unexpected compliment. As I was crossing a snow barefoot a little girl tugged on her momy’s arm and said, “Mommy mommy, can I take off my shoes and walk in the snow!” Her mother said, “No, dear; of course not.” But I couldn’t help laughing. Deep down everyone wants to walk barefoot in the snow. It’s almost as fun as skinny dipping in the Old Salmon River.

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Lord Voldemort Doesn’t Want You to Know This

Since I tossed my shoes, I’ve become of aware of three fascinating facts. Facts the Dark Lord doesn’t want shod folk to know.

  1. barefoot in the snow
    Image via Wikipedia

    The ground is warmer than you think. Even when it rains around mid day, the pavement is always a few degrees hotter than you suppose. Shoes really do cut you off from the ground. Temperature is just one way.

  2. The same terrain is not the same. The same patch of land offers various experiences depending on the weather conditions, the time of year, and the spell that has been cast upon it by a witch, wizard, or warlock. Wet asphalt in fall feels different from wet asphalt in summer. The same stretch of sidewalk takes on a new sensation when it’s covered in autumn leaves, dust, or blood.
  3. Lord Voldemort on the back of Professor Quirre...
    Image via Wikipedia

    You are on your feet more than you think. Your feet are your number one point of contact with the world. When you are barefoot you can experience it fully; even an evil villain will derive more pleasure from walking barefoot. Lord Voldemort, for example, walks barefoot through the blood of his fallen enemies in the latest Harry Potter movie. It was refreshing to see a barefooter who wasn’t being depicted as a tree hugging hippie. Incidentally, I read all of Harry Potter books and while I enjoyed Rowling’s story imagination and pacing, I think Harry Potter is a weak, uninspiring character. He wears shoes–strike one–he isn’t braver or smarter than his comrades, and he doesn’t change. He learns nothing from his experience; he’s the same person, just grown up. As far as YA fantasy fiction goes, there are better series out there: The Last Apprentice is pretty good; I’m also sort of into The Rangers’ Apprentice–it’s a bit too Christian for me, but pretty entertaining. With regard to general YA fiction, I think His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman is hard to beat. But I really liked the The Black Tattoo and the Monster Blood Tattoo series. Read them barefoot, it makes a difference.

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10 Killer Barefoot Running Comebacks

Cartoon by Valen It’s summer. Time to hit the streets bare. But every rose has its thorns. Bare-footing in summer is no different. Creeping from summer shadows are the slack jawed hecklers. This swarm of idiots will make it their purpose to harass and hurl insults. Their inane question of choice:

Where are your Shoes?

It is almost as disturbing as it is ridiculous that these people somehow think that YOUR SHOES or lack thereof will affect THEIR LIFE. Why else would they ask? They see that you’re running. I hope they don’t expect you stop mid stride to strike up conversation with them. No. They’re not interested in engaging in a real conversation. The cold, dirty truth is that they aren’t asking for an answer; they’re calling you an idiot. Not outright; instead of being brave, they’re cloaking it in a question. Insecure people hide behind questions all the time. Their passive aggressive verbal attack is a feeble attempt to make their massively insignificant selves feel superior to someone they do not consider to be a threat. Usually, I let the snide comments slide, but sometimes I feel feisty. If you’re tired of listening the claptrap of the shod AND stupid, here are some potent barefoot zingers.

Where are your shoes?

  1. Only smart people can see them.
  2. Running barefoot strengthens bone. The bones in my feet are almost as strong as the one in your head.
  3. Sometimes less is more; unfortunately for you, that does NOT apply to IQ.
  4. You don’t need shoes to run. Your mouth has proven that.
  5. My feet love the open air. Maybe they can run inside your head sometime.
  6. My feet don’t need shoes, but your mouth could use a brain.
  7. Not on my feet. If you were a quarter as smart as a half wit, you’d have tripled your IQ.
  8. Running without shoes gives me magic power: It forces all the world class idiots within range to ask me about my shoes.
  9. I’ll put shoes on my feet if you put duct tape on your mouth.
  10. Where’s your tail? (Pause). Because I see a horse’s ass, but no tail.

“If you can’t ignore an insult, top it; if you can’t top it, laugh it off; and if you can’t laugh it off, it’s probably deserved.”
–J. Russell Lynes quotes

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The Secret to Superhuman Feet Finally Revealed

Have you ever wished for steel feet?

Ballerinas have unlocked the secret to superhuman foot strength. Ballet is insanely hard on feet; dancers suffer the same types of repetitive foot and strain injuries that barefoot runners have to endure. Ballerinas also have to abide by strict schedules and rigorous training. Over the years they have developed a system of strengthening their feet to superhuman levels. Here are some of their secrets.

  1. Secret Ballet Foot Stretches

    Ballerina Foot Stretches.

  2. Esoteric Top of Foot and Toe Stretches

    Secret Stretch moves.

  3. The Occult Power of Ballerina Footwear

    Ballerina Flats are ideal for barefoot runners, they have all of the qualities of “barefoot shoes” without the nasty mark-up. They are also designed to mold to the your foot and are perfectly suited to running.

    The Samra Ballet Flat/Barefoot Running Shoe is particularly suited to barefoot running. Flats are slightly less breathable than some of the expensive barefoot shoes, but they work just as well and cost a heck of lot less.

  4. Sublime Energy of the Tutu

    There is a mysterious quality to fabric of the tutu. It is both opaque and transparent. If a man wears a tutu while he runs barefoot, it will make other drunken males want to chase him, thereby increasing his speed training. Plus, he’ll look absolutely fabulous whilst staying in shape.

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