The camino inspires in so many ways and one never knows what all will come from this ancient, magical, and treasured pilgrim path. For Sue Regan Kenney the camino has been a passion for years before its recent “renaissance” explosion that is taking place around the world. Inspired by her experience Sue has been on a continued camino adventure that has included making her own documentary in 2006 Las Peregrinas – The Women Who Walk, writing two books My Camino – A true story about the spiritual journey of a woman confronting her deepest fear, Confessions Of A Pilgrim, and now her amazing innovative design Barefoot Bottoms a remarkable new sole-less shoes that are full of Sue’s incredible spirit – Sue and her Barefoot Bottoms invention have incredible SOULS of another kind!
Our feet take care of us in ways that are truly remarkable working in unison with all other parts and systems of the body that make for the ability to stand, walk, run, and explore our world. For my dear friends who are wheel chair bound or have physical disabilities of other kinds they have a powerful appreciation for their feet and have broken through barriers to new heights finding their own freedom and incredible personal accomplishment inspiring others to express their passions in life and achieve their dreams.
Everyone has their own special memories of “being” barefoot and what “going” barefoot means to them personally. Something at our core, a way of releasing, letting go and feeling truly FREE is engrained in our nature and enjoyed in the spirits of our childhood. A delightful pleasure as we grow up with those “freedom times” letting our feet out of the confines of “trendy shoes”, “socially accepted practices”, and “life routines” may happen less frequent becoming almost non-existent going from one type of foot protection and coverage to another with only the sleeping hours to let our feet out of their little cages to “breathe”.
Going barefoot is something that deep down inside gives one a sense of FREEDOM in a way that is uniquely liberating. Something that is so natural and is enjoyed as an everyday pleasure when young transforms in a variety of ways as we all go through the different phases of our lives. I have many special memories of enjoying being barefoot and also have realized that at different times I too phased in and out of how much “free time” my feet have been allowed to enjoy.
“Every time I go barefoot, I discover the joy and freedom I experienced as a child.” – Sue Kenney
“Walking barefoot on the Camino offers the opportunity to metaphorically step into the footsteps of millions of pilgrims before me, who may have walked barefoot too. And besides, I don’t get blisters.” - Sue Kenney
Feet on the camino can almost be an obsession for many which is understandable when one decides that they will make this journey. No matter how many kilometers they choose, depending on the Camino Route, they will make their mark one step at a time on this ancient trail. Quickly, the appreciation for one’s feet escalates in ways that can be indescribable. Focused attention is given to them that they have probably long awaited for and certainly deserve. There are many lessons on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela and a whole book could be written on powerful ability of our feet to “teach us”. As Ekhart Tolle, spiritual author and teacher, has shared: if we were to pay close attention to our breathing for one year, that this simple act of noticing our breath, has the potential to expand our consciousness and help us to “awaken” more than participating in any other form of meditation or spiritual practice. I think the same could be said of paying attention to, listening and learning from our feet as they help to guide us in new directions, with healthier practices and routines.
For those who have experienced the camino either by foot, bicycle or horse there are special rituals and practices of foot care that each pilgrim puts together making their own special combination. Like an ice cream sundae with special toppings favorite foot rituals can range from vaseline applied before socks made of just the right combination of fibers, little camino breaks with rinses in fresh local rivers and cool streams followed by massages of all types, as well as, one great tip from a dear pilgrim friend, warm vinegar salt foot baths that provided immense pleasure and soothing relief to my tired and aching feet.
I have a couple very special camino memories about feet. I remember when growing up that my father would change the shoes he wore every day giving his feet a break and switching it up so to speak which reminded me of my camino days in boots and nights in hiking sandals providing my feet with a different experience each day just like my dad. I also enjoyed another daily routine that of rubbing my feet with vaseline before putting on my socks that reminded me of when I was a child and the way my mother would put on my socks and shoes before going out to play. Both these reflections of feet brought wonderful remembrances where I could picture and feel that love. The wonderful memories are so powerful of these simple, tender signs of loving affection and attention that many times it has brought tears to my eyes.
The gifts of the camino are profound on so many levels. The power of connection to nature, our relationship with ourselves and others, an ability to encourage incredible life transformations and new creative endeavors. Sue has taken her camino experiences and shared them with others in amazingly inspiring ways!
“Being barefoot grounds us with nature, nurtures creativity and helps our body to heal itself. It’s soul simple” – Sue Regan Kenney
I would like to thank Sue for inspiring me on many levels and for this invitation to explore a special feeling of newfound freedom as I have been out discovering my local area in Galicia barefoot style! It has been a most delightful adventure feeling the different textures under my feet and between my toes. Sue’s education on how to do this properly and that it is a process are much appreciated. I remember during my second camino in 2012 where I walked, biked and experienced by horseback this adventure from Roncesvalles, the French Way , that I had been blister free and had pretty happy feet until the last week when my spirit was wanting to express some EXTRA – freedom and camino treasures by walking in the sunshine without my boots.
I had bought a pair of good quality hiking sandals, which were almost as expensive as my hiking boots, but the years of confining my feet in traditional shoes and also having SUPER high arches, a trait inherited from both my parents, my feet were not prepared… Unfortunately the desire for this new expression of freedom toward the end of this camino led to months of pain, walking with a limp, and a bone spur fracture that I would need to heal. As with all experiences I looked for the gift and lesson and found an even deeper appreciation for the distance my feet had taken me during this camino journey. Also, a realization that just like life and the camino having good information and listening internally to your inner guide are a combination that can make all the difference in having GREAT and memorable experiences that are as pain free as possible.
So now armed with Sue’s educational and inspirational information I will keep exploring a little more of the freedom feeling of going BAREFOOT and am looking forward to experiencing Barefoot Bottoms here in Galicia and along The Way when Sue makes her yearly journey to Barefoot The Camino May 2014. Thank you Sue for your friendship and most thoughtful and generous gift to send me Barefoot Bottoms to discover a whole new level of BAREFOOT FREEDOM!
I would like to again extend a very special thank you to Sue and Dr. Carol Francis for making a most inspiring radio interview together when I was unable to make the scheduled time. Your thoughtful support and fast action helped to inspire our connection, this blog post, and also in creating a radio series with Dr. Carol Francis where we will share more inspirational and life transforming stories about the Camino.
Dr. Carol Francis: Radio Interview with Sue Regan Kenney – Barefoot Bottoms and the Camino:
Synchronicities: Spiritual Messages-Susan Mann Spanish Camino Pilgrimage
For more information please visit: http://www.suekenney.ca
Barebottoms. A real barefoot shoe designed by the author of My Camino, Sue Kenney who has walked the Camino 10 times and leads groups. Sue experienced the healing benefits of Earthing after only a few months of barefooting and committed to share this natural health related sustainable approach with others. She designed a sole-less shoe to encourage people to go barefoot everywhere. Her pitch to the hit CBC TV show Dragons’ Den was aired earlier this year.
My Bottoms Never Looked So Hot – by Max Zografos: