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 parents' 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...
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 I 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.
Any time 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."