Category Archives: Barefoot

Mud… Friend or Foe?

TinaDavidson-blog-feet-mud

Foot model: Thea Gavin

By: Tina Davidson

Book Review

Fuzzy Mud (2015) by Louis Sachar

When I was growing up, I don’t remember reading any good fiction on microscopic creatures.

Recently, when looking for quality reading material (anything that didn’t have Star Wars in the title) for my third grade son, I stumbled upon Fuzzy Mud. It had been placed on the top shelf by a kind librarian, making it easy for tall children (and short mothers) to spot. As any good mother would, I checked out the front and back cover to see if it was appropriate for my child. To my glee, this was no longer a book I was checking out for my son… I had stumbled on a book for me.

Louis Sachar had me at Fuzzy Mud because the Fuzzy Mud book cover mentioned his Newberry Medal Winner, Holes.

I remember Holes fondly because as an adult I got paid to read it. Technically, my supervisors had tasked me with the job of cataloging books to create a mobile library but I found time on my “breaks” to finish Holes in two days. Holes stood out among the other books for young readers that I had the chance to peruse while on the job.  I found Holes humorous and fun–a great escape from the reality of my job (creating the library was the highlight of that job).

When glancing at the cover of Fuzzy Mud, after noticing who the author was, the book did not give off the vibe of fun. The cover art of Fuzzy Mud depicts two children wandering into the woods with one child trailing behind them. The woods do not look inviting. The text on the back cover of the book reads, “Be careful. Your next step may be your last.” Yikes…

The book features Tamaya, Sachar’s 5th grade heroine, and two other main characters, Marshall and Chad,  7th grade boys. Fuzzy Mud features a silent villain, slime mold. This “fuzzy mud” contains “a single-celled, high-energy microorganism” referred to as an ergie or ergonym.  Although the ergie was invented for good it eventually becomes a “Frankengerm.” According to the book, an ergie can only be seen by an electron microscope.  When the characters come in contact with the contaminated mud scary things happen.

I read this book out loud to my son.  When I asked him about it later and if his younger brother would enjoy it, he said, “No. It is too scary.”

This is a good family read that sparks discussion, but there are elements of suspense and danger that might frighten some young children.

It will definitely make you think twice before stepping in a mud puddle.

TinaDavidson-Barefeet-mud

Disclaimer: No one was injured by ergies when stepping in this mud puddle.

What about you? Read any good books on slime mold or microorganisms lately?

 I’d love to hear about them.

 

**This is my personal blog. It is solely my opinion.**

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Filed under Barefoot, Book Review, Uncategorized, Writing

The Grandmother, the Elves and the Barefoot Grandson

Boys on a barefoot trail run

Boys on a barefoot trail run

Once upon a time there lived a barefoot grandmother.

This 21st century grandmother, aka Granny, enjoyed shoe-less gardening, running muddy trails in her bare feet, and writing poems about it all. When her grandchildren, who lived hours away, came to visit her she encouraged them to ditch their shoes and explore the garden.

This delighted the grandchildren and annoyed their parents—and made the grandchildren want to visit Granny’s every weekend. Granny’s children didn’t always approve of their mother’s “hippie” feet, and their spouses fretted over their little ones’ foot safety. However, Granny’s daughter slowly became more aware of the science behind what Granny was modeling and reassured her siblings that old age had not driven their mother to “barefoot madness.” In fact, many studies existed to back up Granny’s intuition that walking and running with her feet in direct contact with the ground was good for both her body and brain.

(Sometimes, though, even grannies have to wear shoes; when Granny wore her favorite pair, people would smile because they looked like something an elf would wear. Little did they know how right they were . . . )

Granny’s oldest grandson especially loved being barefoot at Granny’s house. He had sensory issues with clothing and shoes, and would have gone barefoot all the time if it hadn’t been for his father’s extreme regard for foot safety as well as the rest of society frowning upon bare feet in public places.

Luckily, the grandson attended a fabulous Montessori school, but even in that supportive environment he was having trouble learning because he couldn’t keep his shoes on. He couldn’t stand the feel of them, and would trip on them and kick them off in the classroom and on the playground.

Why can’t I just go barefoot?” he would ask.

The rules say you have to wear shoes at school,” his frustrated mom and teacher would reply.

Because Granny wasn’t really a hippie (she was born a decade too late), but was full of a desire to fill the world with peace and love anyway, she knew just what to do. She contacted the clever elves who had made her own comfortable moccasins. (They did not work at the North Pole, but at SoftStar Shoes in Corvallis, Oregon.)

If my grandson has to wear shoes, then he should have the perfect shoes that feel like he is wearing no shoes at all. Can you help him?”

Of course,” the elves replied, and got right to work.

When the custom shoes were completed, the elves shipped them via UPS to the grandson’s door. He opened the box and put them on immediately, exclaiming, “These feel so soft!”

At the end of school the next day, the teacher reported to his mother about the difference in his behavior: “I don’t know what it is about these shoes, but he keeps them on.”

And even his friends made comments like, “I want a pair of shoes just like those for Christmas!” while others wanted some for their birthdays. The grandson skyped that evening with his granny and showed off his magical new shoes. He thanked her and said, “If I have to wear shoes, then these are the only kind I will wear.”

Granny was happy, and went for a barefoot trail run to celebrate.
Custom shoes made by the clever Softstar elves

Custom shoes made by the clever Softstar elves

Perhaps you are in need of shoes that feel like you aren’t wearing shoes at all?  You can design your own in a variety of colors/patterns (including pink camo!).

Check out the elves’ work or buy a pair here. Sorry it is too late to get them in time for Christmas! I find this leather camouflage pair more stylish and impressive than the official ones the bearded duck hunters are endorsing.

So, how do Softstar shoes, or minimalist footwear, and being barefoot contribute to your brain health? I recommend you check out what Katy Bowman has to say.  According to her website, she is a “master’s level Biomechanist and the only human physics scientist that has focused her expertise to address our country’s epidemic-level health crisis and the mechanical causes of disease.” Find out more about Katy here.

In an article posted on ideafit.com, she summarizes how shoes are hindering our nervous system and contributing to more injuries.
The sole of the foot is the first interaction between man and ground. Sensory nerves collect data on temperature, pressure and terrain, staying finely tuned by constantly reading changing environments. Processing the same data every day for decades creates a physiological response that limits the nervous system’s ability to process new data. This makes balance and locomotion less natural and increases the risk of falls, ankle sprains or other lower-leg injuries (Nurse et al. 2005)
To read the full article,”Fit Feet: The Professional’s Guide to Training South of the Ankles,” by Katy Bowman, click here.  She includes exercises to help you get your feet and toes in shape before switching to a barefoot or minimalist shoe lifestyle.

I also found a short and interesting blog post by O. Alves Da Silva M.D. titled, “Shoes and Proprioception.”

The elves at Softstar have compiled a very comprehensive recommended reading list worth checking out as well.

For more barefoot inspiration, check out Thea Gavin’s Barefoot Wandering and Writing where you can read about her hiking the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim barefoot!

And don’t forget about another inspiring barefooter, Stephen Jepson. I blogged about him in my Inspiration for Your Brain- “Never leave the playground!” post, he is mainly barefoot in his videos and his balance, cognition, and ingenuity seem pretty stellar.

Take off your shoes and take on a happier healthier you!

Author: Tina Davidson

Where is your favorite place to be barefoot?

Where is your favorite place to be barefoot?

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