Tell us about your favorite pair of shoes, and where they’ve taken you.

Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. A saying we have all heard but what does it mean?

I have often questioned how people can experience the same situation and respond so different. How is it that some can bounce back easily and others are frozen or stuck? Why do I hear something from a conversation and not pick up on what others hear? It’s the same words.

I believe our responses are directly related to past experiences that have shaped us.

For myself I am a listener and I’m also hyper aware of what the body speaks. I feel I can get a good read on the room as soon as I enter and like to sit back and see before entering a conversation. I’m learning that this is from past experience, shoes I’ve walked in.

We all have a story, some shared, some shown, some hidden, some celebrated and all lived. Our story shapes us a single day at a time.

Throughout my career I’ve witnessed many stories and from each I have learned. I’ve learned more from what was left unsaid and from the journey that got them to that point of our conversation.

When I taught, I would do 2 home visits a year with each student. It was important for me to know their full story so I knew how to best support them, to understand them and to walk with them. That experience taught me so much; understanding, empathy, love, diversity, acceptance and stretching my head and heart far past what I could have ever imagined. Walking ‘with’ has had so many valued lessons. How wonderful it is that I continue to experience this in my current role.

Over the last 15 years I have walked with families through fear, diagnosis, more fear, acceptance, advocacy, learning, fear of doing it alone and celebration. Each family, each situation, each response, each experience, different, yet each one I learned, each one I grew and each one I shifted and became what was needed.

So maybe it’s not about walking in someone else’s shoes, maybe it’s about walking with them. Your experience walking ‘in them’ is based on your past experience and walking ‘with’ creates a beautiful opportunity for you to experience their path while staying true to yours.

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