For the new year – In her boots

Posted by on Jan 1, 2012 in Hiking Gear | No Comments

In my boots: New beginnings

A new year is like a great, shiny package: You can’t wait to unwrap the gift and see what’s inside.

Depending on what we anticipate, we never know what we might find and whether we will be excited or disappointed. A lot of what we receive is entirely due to our own attitudes and our expectations. —

Which reminds me of my recent boot purchase. When my old hiking boots had worn out (the tread was gone and I was starting to feel rocks much too intimately), I decided it was time for new boots.

Choosing boots is a BIG decision. My feet would bear the brunt of a wrong choice and discomfort would be the result.

I arrived at the REI store with no preconceived notions of which brand to purchase, just a desire for comfortable shoes. There were many choices, but only one pair was going home with me – I hoped. There was a possibility I would not find a pair in my size or that passed the comfort test.

First, I gave the clerk my size and discussed options. Apparently, I had been choosing my boot size as if boots were shoes. Wrong! Feet need more room to spread out when you hike. My shoe department maven, Ric, set me straight on brands, sizes, and other issues. This was no time for vanity!

We started with a well-known brand, but after walking for a few minutes, I put them back in the box. They pinched. After some collaboration, Ric brought me some larger-sized shoes. After three different tries, none of the candidates were a match. They hit my feet wrong and would have caused pain after hiking just a few minutes.

Finally, Ric suggested that I try men’s sizes, which are cut wider. Great idea!

I tried several different well-known brands again. And, again they didn’t suit. Ric offered a new brand that had recently been launched by former owners of a popular brand. The boots were not stiff the way many new boots are. Craftsmanship was apparent.

By this time, I wasn’t sure what felt good anymore. My feet were tired, but I thought we were on to something.

My husband, along for the trip, shook his head as I walked up and down a ramp, back and forth on the carpet, and continued to wear a path in the carpet.

I kept walking.

Eureka! I was excited to have found these new boots that had extra padding at the ankles, appeared sturdy, and were comfortable.

The boots I bought!

Now, exactly what has this to do with a new year? The analogy is actually quite apt.

A new year has many possible variations, some happier and more comfortable than others. Trying something new, out of my comfort zone, ultimately brought me something that was a better fit than the old varieties that I knew.

So, begin the new year with hope and an open mind. Challenges may confront you. Things may take longer than you expected to succeed. The rewards will be worth it.

I hope each of you gets the “package” – or new pair of boots – that will lead to a healthier, more joyful existence.

Happy 2012, everyone!

(For more information about choosing hiking boots, see the blog on choosing hiking boots.)
(Note: This is my New Year’s column of “In Her Boots,” which is also published on
Shelley Gillespie is an Arizona Newspapers Association award-winning author, senior staff writer of The Communicator/, and author of Hiking for the Couch Potato: A Guide for the Exercise-Challenged. “In her boots” discusses matters of health, hiking, happiness, and things that improve our lives.