How I Became a Shoeologist

Shoeologist Shannon Bindler

Shoe⋅ol⋅o⋅gist
n. a person who studies shoes and the effects they have on the mind and behavior.

That’s me—I’m a Shoeologist. How does one become a Shoeologist? Well, I’ll tell you. For the past several years, I’ve worked as a Style Editor and Life Coach and have been referred to as a “couture hippy,” which means I love exploring spirituality (I even have a Masters in Spiritual Psychology) but also have a great passion for clothing— from designer to vintage, knockoff to haute couture. Some might consider fashion frivolous, but I’ve never put down the important role it plays in my life. A girl’s got to look good to feel good, right? And I don’t know about you, but when I visualize my future, it certainly includes a pair of killer heels. I’ve found shoes can sometimes be the best therapy around. They inspire, motivate, and keep me centered.

I discovered this was real for me a few years ago during a meditation retreat, when a fellow student accused me of being materialistic. I was upset by my choice of shoes for the day—but did that mean I was materialistic? I truly admired spiritual leaders—think Gandhi and Mother Theresa—who had forsaken material possessions to focus on inner peace. True, I owned a meticulously curated shoe collection, which I kept organized not only by style and function but also by the way the shoes made me feel. (My guess is that lots of women organize their shoes this way, at least subconsciously…) Somewhere inside, I knew there was something special going on with my relationship to footwear.

My big “sole awakening” happened when I was having one of “those days.” I felt blue and off balance and couldn’t shake it. I glanced at my feet and wondered if my wobbly heels had something to do with my unsteady state? I kicked them off and slid on a pair of ballerina flats I keep in the back of my car for emergencies. I suddenly felt more grounded than I had all day—not just physically but emotionally, too. I love the elegant simplicity of a ballerina flat; the versatile design works comfortably with almost any outfit. I envisioned myself moving with a dancer’s steadiness. My shoes supported my posture and helped me shift my inner experience.

I playfully tapped the heels of my soles. Something came over me… What if there was a shoe that could help with almost any situation? Could shoes be used to help heal a broken heart, for example? Could they give you strength? A sense of peace? Rev up your sex life? It was in that moment that my calling as a Shoeologist began.

I started by scouring Amazon for books that might tie into my newly invented profession. I stumbled upon some NASA—yes, really, NASA—research about forming new habits and found myself engrossed. The study showed that when we repeatedly think a thought, physical changes in the brain occur making it easier to think that thought and, more importantly, act on it. Basically, repeating positive thoughts can actually reprogram your brain and behavior. No joke! The rocket scientists say so.

While it wouldn’t be on the same level as a NASA experiment, I wondered if I could use this forming-­new-habits approach with my shoes? I could pick a pair that would act as a reminder of what I wanted, then focus on my goal while stepping into the shoes in the morning. Getting dressed was often my favorite part of the day, so it’s not like I’d forget to do it. And since the shoes drove the other sartorial choices I’d make, it seemed like a good fit.

My shoe closet became my medicine cabinet, and I became the pharmacist. I dove into footwear history, studying thousands of shoes. I used that knowledge to line up shoes with corresponding qualities, creating my “Shoe (Rx) Prescriptions.” I didn’t stop until I had uncovered a “sole­-ution” for just about every issue my life might present.

I wasn’t concerned with price tags or brand names. I focused on a shoe’s design and history, which together held the power of each quality I wanted to embrace and empower in myself. The prescriptions worked just as well with designer shoes as they did with H&M knock­offs and the pairs I borrowed from my sisters. The positive results came from what I created while wearing them.

________________________

If you love shoes as much as I do, you may be curious to learn how to hone their powers for yourself, so I’ve created this pharmacopoeia of shoes, arranged by the qualities I see in them. Maybe it will help you look at your own shoes in a different light and even help you use them to feel better about yourself.

I’ve used these Sole Prescriptions with dozens of women, all with encouraging results. While meditation and/or visualization can work well for some people, for others, shoes are just what the Doctor ordered. Stepping into a new sense of self is easy with a shoe prescription. Simply put, I believe you can change your life, one shoe at a time!

 

I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to contact me.

Don’t miss a thing, subscribe to my newsletter!

Fail Fast, Succeed Sooner

Broken heel sole prescription
Photography by Tanya Nager

I had a dream, and I decided to go after it. I did my research, got clear inside, and on New Year’s morning a couple of years ago I started working. This wasn’t some weeklong resolution that would putter out and die—it was a lifelong goal, and I was motivated to see it through to completion. I’d been preparing for this moment for years—studying, honing the proper skills, and creating the financial stability to make it a reality.

Leading up to my fateful launch, I prepared by taking the advice of several of my self-help heroes. I knew what my “bliss” was and was ready to “follow it” as Joseph Campbell advised. I created my own “purple cow” as Seth Godin smartly suggested. Taking the advice of my long-time guru Louise Hay, I cleared emotional blocks and limiting beliefs. I organized my office and created project lists with help from the “getting things done” guy David Allen… The list went on. I stopped reading the books and started applying them. And it worked, sort of…

I finished the project in a year’s time, after devoting a minimum of six hours per week (sometimes many more than that) until it was complete. I felt proud of the well-honed and stylized book proposal I’d created. I landed one of the best agents in the business and things seemed as if they were working out. Everyone I showed it to thought it was like nothing they’d seen before, and we all thought it was going to make a big splash.

It did. It garnered a ton of interest when my agent went out with it, but a week went by and then a month. Then two… There didn’t seem to be any serious offers. My “out-of-the-box” idea seemed to be a bit too “out-of-the-box.” Wait a minute—did they just call my cow too purple?

I was devastated. How could this have happened? I followed all of the “rules,” did everything “right.” I visualized, prayed, lit candles and sent all of the “good energy” I could muster out into the universe. Not only that, but I worked my butt off. I spent hours in a chair, hundreds of dollars and countless moments of my life on this project. What’s up, The Secret? Got to say, it feels like you left me hanging…

Broken heel 2 sole prescription

After moping around for two weeks I had an “aha moment” as Oprah likes to call them. I realized that my biggest fear had happened: I was a big fat failure! You know what? Failure wasn’t all that bad. My life continued on, friends stayed friends, work stayed steady. Failure wasn’t even close to the awfulness I’d expected. In fact, I felt surprisingly better than I ever had. I faced failure straight on, and it held no power over me anymore.

I’ve never felt lighter or more creative than I do now. I am continuing to move forward with my dream, and I’ve started two new projects. I feel like it’s just a matter of time until one of them ignites, and I know I have nothing to lose if they don’t. After all, the worst thing that can happen is that I experience failure again, which I’ve learned is nothing compared to the regret of being too afraid to try.

That’s why my new motto is, “Fail fast!” If something doesn’t work, I try to get it out of the way as quickly as possible so I can try something else. Something along the way is bound succeed. It’s simply a matter of odds, practice, and not letting a little thing like “failure” stand in the way.

 

Sign up for my newsletter to enter to win a free pair of shoes!

 

A Pair of Sandals Saved My Life One Summer

Gladiator Sandal Courage

Sole Prescription Pharmacy Dr. Shannon Bindler, M.A., C.E.C.
09/20/2017
The gladiator sandal is prescribed for individuals who want to increase their sense of courage. Originally designed as footwear for gladiator fighters, the sandal has a hard, protective sole that is attached to the foot with leather straps, cords or braided thongs. Many styles are embellished with studs to provide security and act as a weapon.
Symptoms
A gladiator sandal is prescribed to individuals suffering from one or more of the following feelings or experiences: cowardice, spinelessness, fear, inability to stand up for oneself or speak one's truth, feelings of dejection and/or weakness of spirit, gutless thoughts or actions, urge to flee uncomfortable situations.
Warnings
May inspire bold behavior, even when you’re scared to death! Wear can create an increased sense of bravery, greater nerve, gallantry and valor. Discontinue use if you develop a dangerous desire to wrestle lions.

In my hometown, teenagers spend their junior-­high summers lounging by the river. The summer after 7th grade, while I wasn’t legally old enough to work, I landed the only under­-the-­table job my small town offered—I’d be pedaling an adult-sized tricycle around town, selling ice cream out of a large cooler attached to the front.

Every Wednesday afternoon, I’d cover several miles of the town’s main streets, strategically ending at the park center where a small orchestra played. This was a smart business move, as most of the townspeople gathered there to listen to live music and get in as much gossip as they could before winter. My boss had an inkling that ice cream would be a colossal hit with the summer crowd, and his inkling proved correct.

I was an athletic preteen. I hiked, biked, and swam at the town waterfall most mornings, so the several-­mile ascent up Mountain Street didn’t scare me. There was something, however, that I found terrifying about the new job: the all­-white safari uniform and oversized straw-­brimmed hat I had to wear. I wasn’t thrilled about working all those summer evenings, but now I’d have to parade around town like a big, white, ice­-cream­-selling park ranger. I wasn’t sure I could stand the humiliation, and the more I thought about it, the worse I felt. Quite possibly, this job could equal social suicide.

I went home, flopped onto my bed, and stared up at my bedroom ceiling, in tears. Then I remembered the promise I’d made to myself: I would work as hard as I could every summer between then and my senior year and save every penny, so I could go to college. I knew my parents wouldn’t be able to pay my tuition, and it was either this or winning the lottery. Even as a kid, I knew my odds were better with the ice cream trike, so I weighed my options: four to six years of small town mockery or a lifetime working at McDonalds… That was it, I was going to ride the darn thing and rock that safari hat as best as I could!

The only freedom I had with my uniform was my choice of shoes. I took the decision seriously—they’d need to be perfect if I was going to have a chance of getting asked to the prom one day… I’d recently studied Roman History in my Global Studies class and learned all about gladiators—their harrowing bravery as they fought, often to their deaths, for the mere possibility of eventual freedom. I saw my Creamsicle-­on-wheels as the arena, and my college future as the prize. Now all I needed to do was to find my pair of studded gladiator sandals, which would give me enough courage to fight to victory.

After locating them under a pile of winter boots, I latched on the sandals and prepared for battle. Climbing onto the tricycle, I found out right away that the heavy cooler made it frighteningly unwieldy. My thighs burned over the steep hills, and my calves hurt from braking though the valleys, but like a warrior, I kept going. I rang the bike bell loud and clear and braced myself before the final hill leading to the park center. The looming descent was no problem on my pink Huffy, but I wasn’t sure I’d be able to balance the Ice Cream Trike of Death. I looked at my sandals. I was going to do this! I pushed off and courageously glided down the hill.

I managed to get to the bottom of the hill alive, but that wasn’t much consolation when I noticed my friends gathering in the park. I contemplated turning a street early and discreetly wheeling the freezer back to my boss’s house. Just then, an older boy rode up alongside me on his mountain bike and said, “Hey, what a fun job! Can I ride with you? Oh, cool sandals…”

He wanted to ride with me, Ranger Nutty Buddy? He didn’t seem to notice my goofy outfit—he was too immersed in a story about the restorations he and his father had made to his mountain bike. The next couple of hours flew by. My wingman stayed cooler­-side throughout the concert, and my friends came by to say hi and buy a cone or two. I was glad I hadn’t chickened out because I now was hanging out and making money. For the rest of the summer, I’d spy the curly­-haired boy on his mountain bike, and he’d chivalrously escort me and my freezer to the park. I even scored a two-­dollar raise from my boss, who was impressed with how many cones I’d managed to sell.

Gladiator sandals became my footwear of choice from that summer on. The following year, when I was of legal working age, my boss offered me a legitimate job at the Creemee Shack, selling cones from the store window. By the time I was seventeen, I graduated to become a rollerblading waitress at the A&W drive-­through the next town over. I managed to climb the ice cream ladder all the way to college. And somehow, I still got asked to prom… by a certain curly-­haired mountain bike rider… And that was cooler than ice cream.

 

Just for the record, while the above are beautiful, this is more what the actual shoes looked like:

gladiator sandal

Wabi-Sabi Beauty

Missoni Sole Prescription
Shoe by Missoni

Wabi-sabi is an ancient Japanese world view and aesthetic centered around the acceptance of imperfection. From the wabi-sabi perspective, irregularities make something beautiful—the knots in the wood’s grain are what make it special. What some in western culture might consider “a mistake” is what contains the character or soul of the object or artwork. If only we could see our own imperfections in the same wabi-sabi manner.

My favorite book on the subject is Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets and Philosophers by Leonard Koren

Wabi Sabi

“Wabi-sabi is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. It is a beauty of things modest and humble. It is a beauty of things unconventional.” – Leonard Koren

Being A Material Girl Is Alright With Me

heels_soleprescription
Photography by Stephen Schauer 

Is being materialistic a bad thing? Madonna’s hit song, “Material Girl,” came out when I was just a kid, and even then I felt myself torn between complicated emotions. I wanted to wear diamonds, like she did in her music video, and be hoisted in the air by a bevy of bow ties and biceps.

But, I’d never admit that to anyone, not even myself. I was afraid of my parent’s judgment of “material pride.” I was taught to believe those were bad people, the rich folks who could get through an eye of a needle faster than they could get into heaven. And I really wanted to go to the promised land of harps and angels someday… Heaven had to be better than the ugly place I was stuck in.

I’ve spent a lot of years wondering if wanting things made me less spiritual. I thought that being poor and wearing my beat-up Birkenstocks brought me closer to the universe somehow. I tried not to place a lot of interest in my looks or surroundings and spent a lot of time feeling superior to those who concerned themselves with such material matters. I’d constructed this better-than attitude when actually, I felt inferior to the celebrities I saw gracing the covers of magazines. Instead of letting myself work with those judgments, it was easier to shun them all as being less-than. Not spiritual. Materialistic.

One day during meditation, I had a moment of clarity. If we are indeed spiritual beings having a human experience, isn’t the whole point to be in the material world? To enjoy it, taste it, feel it, wear it, whatever it is? I realized that I couldn’t separate myself from the physical or the material. I saw Earth as a school and my life as one big lesson; all of the things of a physical nature that surrounded me were of spiritual nature, too. I realized it’s impossible to separate the two.

So what would happen if I decided to allow the beautiful, material and abundant nature of the universe to flow into my life? Well, for one, I started to let myself appreciate the gorgeous clothes I saw on the runways. Fashion was no longer something outside of my world; it was part of me. I loved it, all of it. And, more importantly, I knew I was worthy of it.

I appreciate great design and like to feel beautiful. Not to feel better than anyone, but because it makes me happy. The way a well-fitting suit can make me feel poised, or how the rounded lines of a coffee table can hold my glass with form and function—the material world impacts most aspects of our lives. In fact, my idea of heaven is a place filled with impeccably dressed people who appreciate good design in all of their surroundings. Sort of like the Oscars, but I get to live there, all the time. And I’ve created that heaven in my home. I mean, celebrities don’t saunter through my kitchen on a red carpet, but I am surrounded by beauty every direction my gaze lands. Heaven is here, today and now.

Embracing my love of design actually led me to my calling as a Style Editor and “Shoeologist.” I see fashion as a tool for healing. Like an acupuncturist using needles to heal her patients, I use shoes and unique life-coaching methods to work with the women who come to me for help. I believe the right pair of shoes can make an insecure person feel more confident, help a woman with a broken heart become more open to love, and even add spice to one’s sex life. I love sharing who I am and supporting others to express themselves through their sartorial choices.

My “sole awakening” happened several years ago when I was having one of those days. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I felt off balance and couldn’t shake it. I glanced at my feet and wondered if the wobbly heels I had on might have something to do with my unsteady state? I kicked them off and slid on a pair of ballerina flats I keep in the back of my car for emergencies. I felt more grounded in that instant than I had all day—not just physically but spiritually, too. I’ve always loved the elegant simplicity of a ballerina flat; the chic lines and versatile design work with almost any outfit, comfortably. They have an almost magical ability to connect me to my sense of inner balance. When I started to feel funky again, I reconnected with my ballerina flats and envisioned myself moving with a dancer’s steadiness. My shoes supported my posture and helped me shift my inner experience. The “material” had become a kind of “spiritual” tool for me.

Anytime I feel judgments about others surfacing, I ask myself: where do I hold that judgment about myself? How can I love that aspect of myself more? Sometimes I start the process of self-forgiveness by changing my shoes and releasing those judgments from my soles all the way up… And in this way, embracing my materialism has taught me how to really love others and myself. Some days when I’m feeling slumpy, I throw on a pair of sequined stilettos and let my inner diva throw down some Madonna-worthy moves. And while I’ve never been hoisted into the air draped in diamonds, I no longer feel guilty about indulging in that fabulous fantasy. Because, as the pop diva herself would say, “We are living in a material world, and I am a material girl.”

Sole Prescription Pharmacy Dr. Shannon Bindler, M.A., C.E.C.
09/20/2017
The ballet flat is prescribed for individuals who want to experience a greater sense of balance in their life. The design was modeled after a soft dance shoe. They are traditionally flexible with a hard sole and no (or very thin) heel. Some styles feature a decorative string throat, reminiscent of the ballet slipper's drawstring.
Symptoms
Signs of erratic behavior or mood swings, extreme or irrational thoughts, imbalance in how time and/or energy are spent, instability (emotional, spiritual, physical, or mental), lack of harmony between life roles (work, family, projects, etc.).
Warnings
May cause steadiness, a state of equilibrium, emotional and mental stability and centeredness. Extremists beware: continued wear may create an even disposition.

“I Am Beautiful” Are Not Dirty Words

Celine_boot_metalic_soleprescription
Open-toe, metallic heel boot by Celine

I’m much more comfortable behind a camera than in front of one. For a decade I’ve been an editor at various publications, working with top models and celebrities. So when many of my readers asked me to highlight more of my personal style, I cringed. No, my goal was simply to showcase the clothing (especially the shoes) that brought me joy, made me feel powerful, sexy, or more at peace.

Or was that really what was going on? I think something more complicated was brewing. I’m at ease with not being model thin and appreciate my classical features and sense of style. But, in the fashion industry, wearing a size 6 is considered “fat” and being over 30 is absolutely “old.” Frankly, no chic chick wants to be labeled as either.

Celine_boots_shannon_bindler
This is a vintage dress I’ve owned and worn for several years. I’m drawn to polka-dots and anything
black and white. It also reminds me of Miss Monroe’s iconic air-blown dress.

Call me fat, call me old (or too thin and young), but I’m not afraid to tell the world that I think I’m beautiful. Yup, I said it. And no, I’m not a self-obsessed narcissist. I am sick and tired of advertisers, corporations and beauty products telling me I need to fix myself. I like who I am and the way I look. Yes, I have a bit of a belly and wrinkles around my eyes, but I am comfortable about that. I want all people, especially my young daughter, to understand that not only is it okay to feel beautiful, but self-love is one of the most important and empowering things a person can feel (and practice). I am fit. I am healthy. I am just right, stretch marks and all. (I’ll tell you a secret, I’ve dressed a lot of models and most of them aren’t flawless either.)

Celine_boots_metallic_heel
These boots by Celine are my go-to “going out” shoe right now. I love the way they give an edge to a
romantic dress or steam up a pair of leather pants or skinny jeans.

I feel beautiful; I hope you feel that you are, too.

shannonbindler_viktor&rolf

Viktor_Rolf_blazer_bow
I’m a fan of a well-fitting blazer. While I tend to stay away from bows in general, I find this one by
Viktor & Rolf to be playful and flattering yet simultaneously polished.

If you don’t, I want to encourage you to take a long look in the mirror and focus on the things you like about your appearance. Then try it again, this time focusing on all of the places you despise (we all have them). Instead of hating, send each of those areas love. Practice this every morning, as you get ready. Just like working out, it may feel uncomfortable in the beginning but it gets easier the more you practice. There is scientific evidence that proves that repeating a thought (or affirmation) actually creates new neural pathways in the brain. This simple exercise has changed my entire outlook on my physique. It’s quick and free, and there is no product in the world that can give you the kind of confidence that comes from loving yourself. “I am beautiful,” is a mantra I hope every person, man or woman, chants inwardly everyday. Join me by posting a photo of yourself on Facebook or twitter with the hashtag #soleprescription

Celine_Viktor&Rolf_shannonbindler

twirl_shannon_bindler_celine
The stunning metallic heel is incredibly comfortable. I went out this past weekend and was the only girl
able to keep her shoes on for the duration of our “dance off.” I even dropped it low a few times
(don’t worry, there was absolutely no twerking involved.)

shannonbindler_viktor&rolf_celineboot

Because you are beautiful, just the way you are.

 

Friday Sole Candy


All photographs by Hadrien Lacoste

It’s Friday! I don’t know about you, but I’m moving into August summer mode. There are things my mind believes I should worry about, but I’m finding it easier than usual to set them aside and enjoy some family, fun, and of course fashion.

In that spirit, I wanted to share something playful and colorful, something that fits my current mood. And I found just the items.

My friend Hadrien Lacoste from A Private Collection hits all of the important fashion shows throughout the year, and I love checking out his behind-the-scenes photographs and musings. He recently took some fantastic street shots while attending Paris Fashion week and agreed to let me play with and share some of them here.

They conjure feelings of boldness, joy, and power. What do they bring up for you?

 

Check more street style accessories from Paris Fashion week here

Have a sole-ful weekend!

 

She Held On To What She Loved


Photographed by Merry Brownfield / source: Vogue At Erdem

A year ago one of my best friends from childhood had a heart attack. She was young, healthy, didn’t do drugs, and had no family history of heart disease. It didn’t make sense. One moment she was training for a marathon, the next she was lying on the ground with no vital signs. Though she’s a petite girl she was always the toughest of our gang, and, true to form, she miraculously survived.

When we were young, all we had was time. Though we loved each other, we both couldn’t wait to leave our small town and explore the world. I suppose, while trying to discover myself, I’d inadvertently loosened my hold on our friendship. Only when I almost lost her permanently did I realize that I hadn’t been cultivating our relationship for some time.

She didn’t call me back, so I stopped reaching out to her. We lived three thousand miles away from each other. I had a family of my own and a full-on career; I just didn’t have the time anymore. We were different people now. The list of excuses continued…

The truth is, somewhere along the way I let go.

I messed up, big time. Even so, she invited me to stay with her a few weeks ago. We reminisced about old times, and, well, the new times ahead of us that seemed more precious than they ever had.

Now that we have a second chance, I’m going to hold on. I’m holding on to all of the people that I love, to the irreplaceable relationships that make life so dynamic. I’m shouting out to them, “Hey there, I appreciate you. The world is better because you are in it. I love you.”

I’m holding on tightly. And this time, I sure as hell won’t let go.

Let Love Take You Where Love Wants To Go

My daughter is wearing Michael Kors Mary Janes and I’m wearing boots by Celine

Love is the sweetest thing that I know,
You keep it around by letting it go.
You follow close and you follow slow,
And let love take you where love wants to go.

I didn’t write this (and don’t know who did– send me an email if you can help me give proper credit), but have always found it to be the perfect poem about love. When I saw my 8 year-old wobbling out the door in my heels this morning it was all I could think about as I hovered behind her in an attempt to prevent a seven am trip to the hospital. It worked, if you are wondering, which is why I am happily sitting here instead of the ER.

What do your shoes say about love?

 

 

Let’s Take the Long Way Home

Shoes by Valentino

Where I grew up, there weren’t many exciting options for teenagers. There were no movie theaters, arcades, or dancehalls. No ice cream parlors, skate parks or malls to wander. What we had to work with were rows of tree-lined forest, cascading waterfalls and empty dirt roads. And, most importantly, we had driver’s licenses.

My social life consisted of a few good friends “touring” back roads in our various vehicles. For fun, we drove around. Yup, you read that correctly. It was rarely about a destination because, hey, driving to a river gorge or to an abandoned fire road was not exactly that different or mind-blowing. Even so, we had some of the best times on the various rides we shared.

I now live in Los Angeles and hardly ever drive anywhere just for the heck of it. I avoid traffic at all cost. When I do have to face it, it’s a chore, not a hobby, something I do my best to get through without yelling, cursing under my breath, or, God forbid, hitting or being hit by someone. What used to be my personal mantra (it was even my senior year quote), “Let’s take the long way home…” is the exact opposite of my current mantra, “Get me the f#$ck home as fast as possible!”

I am struck with the age-old saying that it is the journey – not the destination – that we should be appreciating. Things that were so simple in our youth can become complicated in adulthood. There is always somewhere to be, something to do. These days, I can’t imagine having four consecutive hours to drive around and hang out. And that might be exactly what I could use right now.

This week, I’m making a commitment to put on a pair of driving shoes, get in my car, and just go. I’ll invite a pal, and we will intentionally “take the long way home.” And hopefully my friend will drive for a while so I can put my feet up on the dash, stare out the window, and allow my mind to explore the vast, unscheduled terrain.

I suppose sometimes we need to go “nowhere” so we can sit back and simply appreciate the ride.