Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Red Boot Unification Project

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." Eleanor Roosevelet

My Red Boots (note capitalization) are causing quite a stir…Not a serious one, but something about the boots is connecting with folks.

Last week I was having coffee in Caribou and a woman walked up and asked, “Are you Molly Barker?” I responded, “Yes.” She pointed at my boots and smiled, “It’s those boots.”

If you don’t know why the boots are important to me, let me pull up a few words from a previous post to put them Into context.

Today I turn 50 years old. My daughter bought me a pair of bright red cowboy boots. There is something significant, for me, about getting red cowboy boots on my 50th birthday. Fifty used to seem old. I am not old. Old people do not wear red cowboy boots. Kids don't buy their mom red cowboy boots if they think she is old. I recall an interview with Gloria Steinem. The man interviewing her said, “Well Ms. Steinem, you certainly don’t look 43 years old.” Her reply? “Well, honey…this is what MY 43 looks like.”

On the bottom of one boot, my 12 year old daughter wrote, “I love you so so so much.” And on the other boot she wrote, “Now there is just more age to love.”

Throughout the many years of delivering Girls on the Run I am always moved by the stories of the women and men who share themselves with our girls and our program…the stories of what it was like…confined and limited by their buy in to the stereotypes, behaviors and fear housed within the Girl and Boy Box…and what it is like now, free of those limitations. The specifics of each story vary, but rooted down at the core of each one rests the universal and irrational belief that “Who I am, is not good enough.”

Awareness is such a funny thing. The expression that a “fish doesn’t know it’s in water until it’s not” is just so true. The older I get the more I realize that I’ve spent so much of my life confined by the box…a box that is often defined by my gender…which is a whole other box altogether…not even aware that I was in it.

I started to push against the walls of the Girl Box when I began to fight them. Alcohol, excessive exercise, men, work, self-loathing…what I didn’t realize back then…that fighting the Girl Box was unnecessary and futile. Fighting only fueled it more. Giving any of my energy and attention to my anger at it and toward those I felt perpetuated it, bought into the belief that it existed in the first place.

In reality, the whole thing is made up. There are no Girl Boxes, Boy Boxes, restrictions on our potential. Where the mirage comes from would take days to analyze and list. Advertising? Yes. The media? Yes. Our families? Yes. Our culture? Yes. Our social circles? Yes. Our need to fit in? Yes. Our fear? Yes. But the reality is this. The Girl/Boy box is a lie, an untruth, an imaginary made up context/filter that we fuel with our belief that it is real, that it matters, that if I don’t believe in it, I am crazy and will be left behind.

Take a minute…and imagine…imagine what it would be like if you were free to express yourself. Imagine how it would feel and how you would show up to the world if you knew, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that you were brilliant, magnificent, strong, and beautiful, just as you are.

Now, rather than imagine it, believe it…because you are. I am. We are. The only “thing” between you and your own magnificence, beauty and potential is your believing that you must be, act and conform to a set of standards that are non-existent, imaginary, make-believe.

The only thing between you and your highest self is you.

And that’s where those crazy Red Boots come in for me. Yeah…they are nothing more than a couple of boots, with a red pigment applied to them…but they represent my POWER…my power to step away from the irrational beliefs I’ve found myself buying into lately that I am getting “old” and that “old” means settling down, dimming my expressive self and slowing down somehow.

I am not done. No way, brothers and sisters. I’ve got a lot of work left to do in this world and these boots were made for walking…walking here, there and across the globe!

So I ask you…what talisman/token will you carry/wear/own that represents your willingness to shine, to be, to express yourself…to at last be free of the irrational thoughts and limitations you’ve allowed yourself to believe. What will you carry/wear/own that reminds you of your magnificence, brilliance and beauty. Go get it, find it, wear it TODAY. Why wait? WHY WAIT?

I know I often ask for responses, but in this case, I’m not kidding. Let me know. I need to know that I am not alone. Is it red boots? A gratitude stone to carry in your pocket? Is it a feather in your back pocket? What will you choose to set yourself free?

Let me know, right here, right now.

And while I've got’s a little psyche up song to get you on your way!


  1. i don't have a token, Molly, but after reading your blog today, i will.

    and you know, i have a pair of cowboy boots, too. they're not read, but man alive, they are powerful! :)

  2. Thanks for your post! I just bought a BRIGHT yellow watch that is way too big for my small frame, but I loooooove it. Now I know its purpose!