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Stilettos and the lessons of life

by Dr. Stephanie Barnes

I love stilettos! Not only are they beautiful, but wearing them has taught me great life lessons. Wearing stilettos is like mastering life. You cannot master stilettos until you understand that there is an art to wearing them. Life is the same way. There is an art to experiencing life to the fullest. Wearing stilettos have taught me five valuable lessons that help me to strut through life with a joy in my step!



Walking in stilettos is comfortable for me because, well, I wear stilettos frequently. Wearing stilettos is a sport and requires training and practice. If you only wear stilettos occasionally, your body is not accustomed to the muscle use required to support your body on high heels (Hint! It requires strong quads!) Like wearing stilettos, if you want to master something in life you must get in the game! Life is not fully experienced from the sidelines, but through putting yourself out there and trying, failing, learning and experiencing. You can look at a pair of beautiful stilettos all day long, but you won’t learn to walk confidently in them until you walk in them!



I know the limits of walking in stilettos. I know the fabulous quotient of every shoe I own. Some are “walk in, look fabulous and sit down” shoes. Others are “walk, dance, and strut your fabulous stuff until you get tired” shoes. Stilettos must be the right size. They must be the right height. They must be the right design and fit for your foot. It is important to be sure that you select the stiletto that works for you. Believe it or not stilettos, can be comfortable. I have shoes that are pretty on the shelf, but don’t feel pretty on my feet. They either stay on the shelf or I give them away. Wearing stilettos is an endurance sport, but requires frequent rests to re-energize. As in life, you must know your personal limits. You cannot sprint your way through life without taking care of your mind, body and spirit. You must also know what is the right fit for you. Whether it is a career, location or relationship, don’t settle for what’s available, create the best environment for you.



You don’t really walk in stilettos, you saunter — a slow and steady pace that allows you to glide elegantly across the floor. When you wear stilettos, you must walk at your pace and avoid trying to keep up with others. It makes for a graceful and fabulous stride. If you walk too fast, you look like a bucking baby giraffe. A woman in stilettos must be a woman in control and a woman who knows who she is and what is best for her. You cannot be afraid to say, “Y’all are walking too fast. Slow your roll!” You also cannot be afraid to slow down and let the crowd rush ahead of you. Your life should occur at the pace of you. You are in a one-woman race. There is no right time or right pace for when you should reach your goals other than the ones you set for yourself. Be confident in who you are and be courageous to live life on the terms that make you great!



Stilettos are a beautiful creation. Red bottoms are popular, but do people love them because they are great shoes or because of the ubiquitous status symbol of the red sole? My favorite go-to brand is not a popular designer brand, but it is THE brand that works for me — and my budget! If you don’t like high heels, don’t wear them. If you prefer loafers or tennis shoes or you must wear orthopedic shoes, put them on and make them fabulous for you. You can work magic with a glue gun and some rhinestones if you just must have bling! It is important to choose the lifestyle that makes your heart sing, not one that impresses others. It is so easy to get caught up in keeping up with what everyone else is doing. Do your own thing!



As much as I love my heels, I do own flats. Let’s face it, stilettos are not always practical for some surfaces or situations. So I have to wear flats when stilettos won’t do. Most flats hurt my feet, so even my flats have some height. Cowboy boots are perfect for sturdiness and height. Personally, I don’t wear athletic shoes unless I am exercising. I have wedges specifically for outside events so I can keep the fabulous going without falling or sinking in the ground. Life is rarely a one-size-fits-all or one-size-fits-you for that matter. You must learn to be flexible and adapt to the changes around you. What worked well for you last year may need to be tweaked to work well for you this year. Change is inevitable. You cannot remain static in a dynamic world. Just like it is impractical to wear stilettos to run, it is impractical to think that you can remain stagnant in your thoughts, behaviors and actions and expect to grow, expand and succeed.

Wearing stilettos is not all fun and games. As beautiful as they can be, they can also be painful. But the great thing about stilettos is that you can always get a new pair when the ones you have on hurt your feet. Changing your life is not that easy, but you can evolve to become the beautiful design you were meant to be. Stop window shopping and begin designing and creating the best life for you!

Dr. Stephanie D. Barnes is an attorney, author, speaker and career strategist. For more info, visit or reach her at