February 4, 2019
Your Life Shoes: Walking Through Lessons Learned and Coming Back Stronger Than Ever
Aviva Publishing (2019)
New Book Teaches How to Gain Strength From Life’s Roughest Times
Your Life Shoes is a fun, fascinating, and thoughtful look into the life of Mary McMichael, complete with the lessons she’s learned and guidance and exercises to apply those lessons to our own lives. They say you can never understand someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes, but the truth is that we all wear different shoes at different times in our lives. As a shoe lover, Mary has decided to take the metaphor a step further, comparing various life issues with different types of shoes, and then exploring how those situations can make us stronger.
Mary begins by using the shoe metaphor in regards to people, stating: “People are like shoes. We wander through our lives just looking around, and people catch our attention. We like the way some look, the way they sound, and the way they present themselves. We explore them a little further in conversation and we become intrigued. We like them and decide to invest in them. We spend more time with them and build relationships with them. As we spend more time with them, we begin to notice their idiosyncrasies, the ones ‘that hurt our feet.’ We keep them around anyway, because they look good, make us look good, or make us feel good.”
This discussion sets us up for the many relationships Mary has tried on during her life, including three husbands, but also relationships with children, siblings, parents, and friends. Some of these relationships went well, some were little short of disasters, but all of them were opportunities for learning more about herself. And we can’t forget the many relationships she’s had with dogs—dogs who have been her greatest comforts at various times.
Magic flows throughout the stories—although Mary might call it the Law of Attraction or just faith. Several times she tells us of how incredible and frustrating situations turned themselves around when she decided to change her thoughts or to surrender her power to God. Her dog who was missing for months returned to her life within thirty minutes once she let go and let God take care of the situation.
Mary has learned a lot of lessons from her dogs and any dog lover will be able to relate to the affection she feels for them. One of my favorite passages in the book has to do with what dogs are able to teach us: “I have heard it said that dogs live short lives because they are already perfect. They love unconditionally and completely and are loyal to their own fault. Humans, on the other hand, live longer because we need longer to learn to love like that. Our personalities, mistakes, phobias, and fears get in the way of that learning process, so it takes us longer to get it right. For dogs, it just comes naturally and without resolve.”
Magic also exists when we surrender to accepting that there are things we cannot understand or explain in this life. Mary has more than once experienced the supernatural, and I believe it’s largely because she is open to it. Not only has she lived in a haunted house, but she has lost loved ones who have come back and communicated with her. I don’t want to give away too much, but one of my favorite passages in the book is when she was at her friend’s deathbed and she warned her friend, “Hey, when you cross over, don’t be fucking with my kitchen cabinet doors, okay? No opening and closing my kitchen cabinet doors.” Well, you can guess what happened.
What I may have appreciated most in this book, however, is that Mary doesn’t shy away from revealing her mistakes. She’s made a few we might consider large ones, including marrying the wrong men and having a child when she was young and unwed whom she gave away for adoption. It takes a lot of courage to make such things public in a book, but Mary does so because she knows her experiences made her stronger and she wants her readers to know there is life after mistakes, and in the end, everything will turn out for the best.
Whatever mistakes Mary has made, she has her head screwed on right when it comes to what is important in life. She repeatedly talks about the importance of spending time with parents, friends, and family. She shares enduring stories of her relationships with her parents. The story of how she lost her brother is heart wrenching and yet beautifully written and reads like a Hollywood movie. Before her brother died, a beautiful moment of healing occurred in his life, and that only happened because Mary was there to make sure it happened.
I don’t want to say much more and ruin all the fun, the laughter, and the tears that this book will bring you. I’m sure you’ve read plenty of books that didn’t fit you as well as you wanted, but I think this book is like a comfortable pair of shoes, ones that are down-to-earth, nothing super-fancy, but ones that will endure for the long haul. Try on Your Life Shoes. I promise you won’t be disappointed and your journey through life might even be a little easier once you have let Mary travel some of it with you. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if you found yourself thinking, the next time you’re stuck in a dilemma, “What would Mary do? What shoe would she wear in this situation?”
For more information about Mary McMichael and Your Life Shoes, visit www.YourLifeShoes.com.
— Tyler R. Tichelaar, PhD and award-winning author of When Teddy Came to Town