Barefooting

Barefooting is one of my greatest joys in life. One of my favorite things!

To me, bare feet are liberated feet. I can easily walk either on my toes or toe-first, which are delightful ways for me to walk.

I love to feel the dirt, carpet, grass, sand, etc underneath my feet. Such a different feeling than the horror of having dirt or sand pressed up against my feet by a sock or shoe.

I love being able to jump in puddles without worrying about dealing with cold nasty shoes afterwards or maybe ruining shoes that I can’t always afford to replace or find the correct shoes with which to replace them.

Splashing in puddles is another one of my great joys – especially during or just after summer rains when it’s warm outside, the puddles are fresh, and the air smells like it’s just been cleaned.

When I have to wear shoes somewhere it’s as if an important part of me is completely missing. Feeling the ground beneath my feet and being able to walk in ways that are comfortable are both extremely important for my health and happiness.

I started barefooting on a regular basis as an adult just over 11 years ago. As a child, I went barefoot every chance I had. I have distinct memories of my 6-year old self running all over the neighborhood without shoes.

I continued going barefoot as frequently as possible until I was around middle school aged. We never wore shoes in our house when I was growing up so I was still barefoot all of the time while inside at home, but when I was out of the home I wore some sneakers that had to fit specific criteria. Once I had found the shoes I liked, the next pair had to be exactly the same.

Even the “right” kind of shoes, however, were problematic for me. I have poor circulation in my extremities and having my feet confined in shoes caused my feet to always feel cold because they were immobilized to a certain degree. Being enclosed in shoes, moreover, caused my feet to sweat. So, I constantly had cold, sweaty feet.

That was not even remotely pleasant, but it didn’t occur to me that I could just go barefoot most places.

When I was 17, a friend informed me that it was completely legal to drive barefoot. So I began to do so. It felt immensely liberating! I could feel the pedals underneath my toes and that info completely changed my driving experience for the better.

In college there was one guy on my campus who went barefoot everywhere – even to classes! Everyone else, including myself, thought that was a bit odd. At that point in time I was wearing soft sandals almost all the time, even in the snow.

After college I noticed that I’d frequently twist my ankle while wearing my work shoes, but didn’t have a choice about wearing them during work. I would, however, shed them during my lunch breaks outside.

After my oldest child was born, I did some research and found that going barefoot is extremely beneficial for growing children’s feet.

I read studies, articles, and posts about the topic. I dove in and became engrossed with the issue of barefooting and how it related to health, history, sociology, prejudices, and psychology….

And in the end, I made the decision to begin going barefoot myself. I decided this primarily for health reasons at the time. I knew that I felt better when I did it, but not why. I assumed that an increased feeling of well-being was just a normal benefit of going barefoot, and maybe it’s partially that. After all, my circulation is better and my feet aren’t sweaty any longer either.

But now I’m pretty well convinced that barefooting for me is also a type of grounding stim.

Going barefoot regularly is not something that’s optional for me. I will wear shoes (usually slip-on sandals) briefly for trips into stores just so people don’t bother me about it. I used to have the energy to explain all the benefits of barefooting to ignorant and curious people alike, but now I just don’t. It’s legal to go barefoot into stores, but socially unacceptable so I’ve made that small compromise.

A side perk of my barefooting is that fewer people bother me about my children going barefoot. If they express concerns about the ground being too rough or too hot I can tell them definitively that no, I’m actually touching the ground with my feet too, thank you very much, and it’s just fine.

We carry shoes in our bags when we’re going somewhere we might need them and we go blissfully barefoot pretty much everywhere.

Dancing, skipping, prancing, splashing, bouncing, running, and just plain walking are amazing experiences when I do them barefoot ❤

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4 thoughts on “Barefooting

    1. It’s funny because I can’t really drive with shoes on now. I have to be able to feel the pedals. But I imagine it would be just as difficult to switch the other way if I’d been used to driving with shoes for many years!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I am so happy to read your words on this topic!! I am working on an art series right now about stimming and this very subject of “ground stimming” through our bare feet has come up. I started to think about it a few years back when I read Katy Bowman’s Move Your DNA. She talks about how important it is to keep your calluses on your feet and how they help us in grounding to the earth and in sensory processing. This got me thinking about all the ways we remove or separate ourselves from stimming in general, as a result of modern social constructs and how that effects us negatively as autistics.
    Barefooting gives more food for thought around the idea of “domesticating” the autistic and how perhaps the more society tries to “tame” us, the worse we feel and thus struggle. Maybe we need to spend more time barefoot, in protest and for our own benefit. Shoes off!!
    Thanks for writing this! I am so with you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, that sounds like a fun art series! I’d love to see it when it’s finished! 🙂

      Yes, I’ve also noticed that we often (not always) have more issues with artificial stimuli and fewer with more nature-y ones. Forcing the artificial allistic-friendly environments vs allowing us to be in comfortable environments (whether they be natural or of our own design) or comfortably interacting with our own body language and preferences ❤

      Like

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