Barefoot, but shoes ….

After cronic foot pain, lower back pain and plantar fasciosis (fasciitis), I started a barefoot lifestyle that completely eliminated those problems for me.
Unfortunately I still have to function in a shod society and therefore I do have to wear shoes at times, like at work. This forces me to marry up my reasons for getting rid of shoes, to shoes that I can wear that meets me half way.

So here are the factors in conventional shoes that negatively affected my health:
Heels, narrow shoes, arch support, tightness and toe spring.
If you want to get rid of these evils in modern shoes, but you still want to / have to wear shoes, here are my review of the shoes I find best for the purpose : (these are in no particular order)

Softstar shoes.

These are very nice!
Getting rid of shoes, has the effect that your feet get more muscle action and blood flow and do not feel cold so easily. So I have also discarded the use of socks to prevent my feet from living in sweaty enclosures.
These shoes are made of leather and breathe very well. I also thought at first they would be too narrow, but that proved to not being the case.

Lems shoes.

My first minimalist shoes I used for work after going barefoot. Closest to a classic sport shoe. The company also makes minimalist boots and other shoes.
These are made of an artificial fabric and warm up your feet fast without allowing it to breathe. So, if you do not wash them every five days or so, they do start to smell. They handle the washing very well, probably because I only wash them by hand.

Snow Boots

Yup, I live in Minnesota and sometimes it is more comfortable and less dangerous to wear these in the cold and snow…..


My latest discovery. And the least expensive! $20 a pair.
They are made for both men and women. Mostly spandex on top, making them light and comfortable. It took a few days for the elastic strap around the edge to stretch our a bit and not put a line across my foot.
The soles are rugged enough for outdoors and when I load trucks at work up aluminium ramps. And this week I also used them in the gym without my feet sweating or getting clammy. (I know my feet are always sweating and that it is constantly evaporating and controlling the temperature of my feet – just like with your hands.)

Home made shoes

I am lucky that I do leatherwork and is able to make my own custom shoes. What can I say? As wide as my feet, breathing leather, flat thin soles, loose fitting shoe enough to be legal and accepted where society still fails in this aspect of life.

Home made Flip Flops

Just a thin sole and a thong – easy for just quickly running into a store.

Crocs Flip Flops

I usually travel with these. That was before I made my own. Mine will take up less space in a back pack.

Crocs boat shoes

When you want something more substantial on your feet. These have vent holes all round and have leather uppers.
For someone with a barefoot lifestyle, shoes truly take on the same function for which most people use gloves on their hands.

Birthday shoes

Given to me at birth, always adapting to my growth (and now shrinking), these have protected me against infection for six decades! Super comfortable and so much fun to use! At no cost whatsoever! Nothing beats this shoe……

A Positive Year – Week Four

I made some more progress with the ax sheath trophies and was able to deliver them in time!  In a very hectic week, that was a very positive achievement.

And I also had time just to chill in front of the TV, scrolling through Google+ and playing a game or two.

I had a chance to revisit of of my favorite spots on the Mississippi River -= downtown St Paul.   The river has almost no ice on, as you can see.

Here was something that caused me to try to focus on the positive again:  They are breaking down some buildings on the cliff face right on the river.  You can see this as an ugly scar, or you can be positive and see this as necessary renewal, which is what I think it is.

It was cold enough that the walk only took about 10 minutes:

A Photo Review of 2015 – October

In October I started working for St Croix Retail.  Very soon we were hard at work getting the new store ready to open.  Opening date was October 12th.

This is one of the reasons I took the job, despite a fairly long commute to downtown Minneapolis.  I am standing on the light-rail platform, ready to take the train home.  The light colored building across the one-way street, where the cars are waiting for the light, is the exact corner where the store is located (Corner of Nicolette and Fifth).  It is also a visitor information center as well as a central spot where people can get train/bus passes and find out everything there is to know about commuting to and from and around downtown.

Yet another really nice warm day made for a very good hike with the barefooters in one of our many local parks.

Finally the store was opened – a soft opening without too much fanfare – stocked with all locally made artwork, jewelry, chocolate, t-shirts and prints, as well as quick-buy items for bicyclists.

Here I am sitting in the social media command center that is also part of the store and I am playing with a much maligned item – a selfie stick.  Behind me is the light-rail station from where I took the earlier photo.

A Photo Review of 2015 – July

July always start for us with a big Potjie Dag at Mark Sampson’s house.  We cook, talk (Afrikaans a lot without translation and regard for non-Afrikaans speakers – it is the one day we just go with Afrikaans), swim and relax a lot.

July’s hiking weather was just perfect – good memories to last through the cold barefoot-unfriendly winters.

It also became clear that the house needed a new roof – luckily only the tiles needed to be replaced and the rest of the roof structure was still very good.


A Photo Review of 2015 – June

Summer makes for beautiful walks next to the Mississippi river – this was taken off an old bridge – half of which was left intact when the rest was demolished.

Another school field trip took me to an old museum in Mendota Village.  It was right next to the train track and it is not every day that you get to take this sort of photo!

Summer and kayaking! The sun is just so welcome.  And we have to soak up all we can before the days get shorter!  This was Fish Lake in Eagan.

This was a first:  a really very very heavy rainstorm trapped me at home in my car!  Believe me – this photo is deceiving.  It was worse that what you see here.   After about ten minutes I dashed to the house.

Another barefoot walk next to the Mississippi river – this time where it flows through (or just south of) downtown St Paul.  I was on Raspberry Island to take this photograph.

Our church had a float in the local city parade (South St Paul Days Parade) with our church band playing live – you can see them here as they just passed us.

And with that we reached the midpoint of the year!

A Photo Review of 2015 – May

By May the weather was nice enough to join the Dalldorfs in burning their old Christmas tree from 2014.  Few things feel as nice as the green grass after a cold winter.

We did a long nine month course at church and it was a huge privilege to have Jacques there too.  Here he is talking to the group.

With the improved weather, the barefoot hiking group started the monthly hikes again!

Towards the end of the school year I had to take the high school band to a parade – only the second time I had to tow a trailer with a school bus.  All good.

I accompanied Wilhelm to Kansas City, where we had a booth at the fantasy art convention, Spectrum.  I had a lot of fun talking to people and demonstrating how leatherwork is done.

Wilhelm finally became a US citizen.  He was too old to become a citizen with me or Gina and had to do the deed on his own.

I found myself more and more taking photos of Chippie – it was very clear that his time was limited on this earth.

A Photo Review of 2015 – March

I am really having fun with this app on my phone – InstaWeather.  The actual photographs are a bonus and simply a vehicle to capture the weather, time and date and location.  In Minnesota where the weather is constantly on your mind and often discussed, it is nice to have record of when the weather did what.

Look at these three pictures taken in March and take note of the temperatures for example.

A Photo Review of 2015 – January

The year started off on the first much like 2016 is kicking off – little snow on the ground and just about “warm enough” for a barefoot photo op outside.

2015 was my fifth year going without shoes as much as I possible can.  I look back on this time with a lot of joy.  If only the weather shared my passion for a barefoot lifestyle!

When I am at home and busy in my leather workshop, the two dogs are never very far away – especially when I do work like braiding that does not involve loud noises.  As soon as I start tooling, the banging noise startles the two old guys because of how deaf they are getting.

In their old age there are things the dogs loose and then there are things they do not loose.   They sometimes loose bladder control, hence the old towel lying ready in a strategic spot.  They do not loose the urge to be VERY close to you when you are on the throne in the bathroom.   Here Tuffie lies outside the door waiting for Gina.

As usual we try to make sure that we have a games evening with the Kuhn’s and Sampson’s every month in winter and January was no exception.

I went to see the Aztec Dancers, Kalpulli KetzalCoatlicue, dance in honour of St Paul, the apostle, in Minneapolis.  I could not resist taking this picture of this little drummer who stood through the whole hour and a half, drumming away in perfect rhythm!

A beard is all well and good, but too much trouble, and I think like clothing, you have to have a particular body/face to make it look good.

A Second Winter Almost Barefoot

It is midwinter and outdoor barefooting is not happening. So let me review what a typical day looks like “without” shoes :

The first time my feet sees shoes in the morning is just before I go out to the car to drive to work. The ground is just too cold and there is still snow and ice lying everywhere. As soon as I am in the car I kick off my shoes so that I can drive safely, without shoes getting in the way.

If it is really very cold – below 20°F – I will wear socks and not take my Stem shoes off before I get in the car in the evening to drive home. By then I am ready to crawl out of my skin with irritation with the shoes.

Which brings me to the new problem I have with socks this winter : for one they are just too warm. My feet have started to take on their natural function of temperature regulation – so stuffing them in socks is like wearing warm gloves on your hands even when you are in a pleasant room. And then all men’s socks now seems to come with “arch support”! This is simply some extra elastic around the middle of the foot and can only be bad for blood circulation in your feet.

I slip on my shoes again from the car to the house or for going into a store. And again that is the last time my feet sees shoes. I attend our informal church service on a Sunday evening without shoes and our friends know I do not visit them with shoes on. (In Minnesota that is not too strange as we always take our shoes off at the door of a house so as not to carry dirty snow into the house.)

I cannot wait until the weather allows me to ONLY wear shoes at work and flip flops in stores!