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The thing about my feet

The Thing About My Feet

An Authentic Life, Self-discovery By June 10, 2024 No Comments

The thing about my feet is that I love them. They are the most capable feet I have ever possessed, and they’re a part of me I thought I rather shamelessly admired.

My feet do not conform to any western beauty standards. I don’t apply nail polish to them and only sometimes do I shave off the four to five dark hairs that sprout from my big toes after a good night’s sleep. I tend toward an inherited pair of bunions, and my left little toenail doesn’t really grow in at all, appearing as a Plutonian crescent orbiting the outskirts of my lower cosmos.

It’s no surprise, then, that my splendid feet do not lend themselves well to being photographed. Once (and only once) did I post a photo of them gleefully beach planted on the socials, to which a friend unknowingly replied ‘those man feet’ plus derisive emoji. She had assumed the hefty hooves belonged to my then-husband.

When I was growing up in 1990’s America, we were exposed to all kinds of visual patterning that parents are diligently working to deprogram out of kids today. I read all those magazines and absorbed their glossy pictures, and I got the standard right away. I knew the term ‘heroin chic’ suggested something life-destroying, but somehow its perfect homonym—heroine—infiltrated the mix, and I came to regard this impossible thinness as something approaching superhero status.

You could never be thin enough, glamorous enough, nihilistic enough. You could never be enough enough by not being at all. But God did we ever try. We starved ourselves and still our bodies rebelled. We restricted and binged, playing with that edge, and most of us eventually (fortunately) emerged as our general shapes and sizes anyway, chonky feet and all.

We were taught to fear our own bodies under the false promise that this would lead to us loving them. It was intense, and now in my forties I’m grateful to have put his behind me.

For the most part.

This idea that I was maybe actually truly supposed to be thin right down to my feet has continued to niggle at me from time to time. It once dominated almost every decision I made from wardrobe choices to whether or not I felt worthy of speaking up in public. It sat with me at every meal and it infiltrated my dreams. For something so hell bent on deprivation, this idea had a surprising solidity.

It’s not like that anymore.

Because you can only give so many fucks about your pants size, and because I have felt the body hatred draining out of me over the years, seeping into Mother Earth, that magical composter of all waste, I have mostly believed I was over it.

Looking at this photo of said feet that I have included here for review, I’m realizing there’s a little self-denial still trapped in them. It might be the lens that does it—that layer between the seeing and what is seen. In this photo I am looking at my feet through something other than my own loving gaze. I am wondering what you will think of them.

That’s what was happening with all those Vogues and Harpers Bazaars. I took in the models through an externalized filter, which I then internalized and directed at their nearest approximation: me. I still believe those photos were designed to create this kind of response in their young audience, but I don’t have to respond that way anymore.

So, here is a photo of my feet. Taken by me, of me, and for me, and celebrating what my feet like to do most. Plunge in! Show us off! they say. Even if no one gets it. Share your delight in having a body so perfectly finished by we!

And give up the ghost already so we can really get to runnin’.

see and be seen

To See and Be Seen

Power, Self-discovery By October 9, 2023 No Comments

I wonder if you have ever had this thought while doing something you love: When will I be good enough to be seen in this?

It’s an odd thought, the idea that there are standards for being visible. And that I have to hide until I’ve met them. I’ve asked the question of so many pursuits for so long that I’ve grown accustomed to an unending list and no ready answers.

Maybe, like me, you grew up like this…


Why I’m Not Getting Any Better

Play, Self-discovery By May 7, 2023 No Comments

So I’ve been practicing the violin again this week and it feels like I’m starting from scratch. Scratch means scales and finger exercises and bowing maneuvers and striving. Striving to improve.

The idea of striving to get better didn’t just come up for me in the practice room this week. When I went to my local violin shop and tried out a few more instruments better rose up to smack me fresh across the face. A mother and her daughter were in line ahead of me also shopping for violins. The young violinist couldn’t have been any older than fifteen, and her mother proudly informed their sales person that she had been playing for eleven years. They took a handful of fine instruments into one of the rooms off the main lobby where we all heard the daughter begin to rip through Mendelssohn at tremendous speed.


Once, Twice, and Again

Play, Self-discovery By April 21, 2023 No Comments

Once, in a fit of teenaged passion, I sold the possession most dear to me to buy my first car.

That’s right, some lucky person paid pennies on the pegboard for my precious fiddle and bow, and I, being eighteen and desperate for freedom, hardly thought twice about it.

What I did think about was this: I didn’t want to be the well-behaved repressed violinist anymore. I didn’t want to push anymore toward some unattainable standard of musical excellence, and I really didn’t want to keep falling short. I wanted road trips and nights out with friends that bled into endless dawns. Gas pumps and freeways and gear shifts. I wanted my great wild beyond.


I Am (in the bath)

Change, Self-discovery By January 25, 2023 2 Comments

This person I thought up

This person I am

is becoming something else


The bath she fills

drop by drop

and the crumbs on the table,

new foundlings

Patterns assemble

but less fixed

more space in

the kaleidoscope’s eye,


Days are songs

their verses come hither

and loving,

alone in the bath

is ecstatic drowning



Change, Self-discovery, Writing By August 7, 2021 Tags: No Comments

Summer in Portland—those longed for, beatific days promising dry weather for play—is as much a darling as dominatrix.

There’s the constant pressure to get outside, and then there’s the still, hot air when you do. We run for shade and we bathe our delicate Pacific Northwest skins in sunscreen from hairline to pinkie toes. Ahhh, we sweat at each other, glorious. And won’t it be an even more glorious fall?


Inward Facing Dog

Self-discovery By May 23, 2021 No Comments

10 plus years after my first yoga class, I’ve started a solo practice. It happened sort of organically (okay, with a small tech fail assist). One morning my Wi-Fi gave out just as I was queuing up YouTube. I really wanted to practice, and so I did. Alone. Free form.

ahimsa anna kaehler

Ahimsa and the Tale of the Trees

An Authentic Life, Self-discovery By September 29, 2020 No Comments

The first time I heard the word Ahimsa—the yogic principle that translates to absence of injury or non-violence—my body was torqued into a position of considerable pain.

I stood on one leg, the other bent with foot placed on my supporting inner thigh. Arms aloft, standing ankle in a chronic wobble, whole body alternately swaying and clenching to hold the position. Sweat bled from my hairline. I hung on each second, begging it to end.


A Habit of Holding

Change, Power, Self-discovery By August 28, 2020 No Comments

I finished a nine day cleanse yesterday, and to celebrate I walked myself around the park (naturally). This was the only movement I had any real energy for, and even then I could only manage one loop.

The temperature was perfect on my arms. I let myself feel it. The sun was as soft as warm cotton, the grass smelling of seed. The soccer kids were all practicing their artful crosses, balls sliding into goals. Perfect.

Most of the cleanse felt nothing like this.