Sentimental Is Fabulous When You Mean It, or: My Dance Shoes Are My War Buddies


When someone first comes to me, there is usually a little to a LOT of anxiety that I’m going to make them get rid of everything. This is, of course, never the case and I always joke with them that I’m not “a completely heartless witch.”

Even if gingers are rumored not to have souls.

Sentimental attachments are perfectly fine. It can be absolutely fabulous to hang onto something purely for the sentiment. What isn’t fabulous is letting these attachments and things clutter up your home and get in the way of daily life.

To hold onto an item due to pure sentiment, it must evoke only the most positive of feelings. Negative juju does NOT get to take up valuable real estate in our homes.

The other week I read a beautiful article on the men who make professional pointe shoes. (Ballet shoes for those not fluent in dance.) It got me thinking about my own professional ballroom dance shoes (tucked away in the bottom of my closet for years now) and trying to remember, are they Italian or English? (The company featured in the article is English.) I pull them out to check. What I didn’t expect was a significantly strong emotional response when I did so.

You see, a few years ago, I was feeling stuck and read an article about letting go of anything that brought up more negative energy than good – even photographs! I staged my own feng shui attack, specifically on a few bins in the top of my closet and in particular my dance memorabilia.

In a shoebox (that once held dance shoes, of course) were the remnants of my dance career. The costumes, ballgowns and all but the one pair of shoes were gone, but this box still remained. It held mainly photos, cards, awards, and a few other bits and pieces. I took a stroll down memory lane, and then as I felt the energy of the box I knew:

It had to go.

As much as I loved parts of that time, this box didn’t represent that. When I looked at all of our smiling faces in the pictures, I didn’t see happiness. Instead, I felt the conflict and struggle from those times. Without taking the full dive into sad-gal memory lane, let’s just say it’s the usual suspects for a 20-something lady fresh out of college – barely making financial ends meet, tumultuous relationship, learning the ropes of a new career with the added benefit of that being in an industry riddled with anxiety, insecurity, and eating disorders, hooray!

It seems everywhere the media and entertainment industry – and memories hazed by alcohol – romanticize the struggle of our 20s, but the reality is that it sucked. Needless to say, that box had.



As soon as I tossed the box into the “go” pile, I burst into tears. I could feel the strong rope of energy tying that box to me as I threw it. I felt a literal pain in my chest as it flew away. I was fully into the ugly cry and kept thinking, “I wish I had a ‘me’ to tell me it’s okay. These don’t give me happy memories. And anything with bad juju just needs to go.”

I became my own “me,” talked to myself as if I were my client, pulled myself together, and continued on. Everything left the house except for a couple of award plaques, the photos from my first professional performance, and that first pair of shoes I bought.

So when I took these shoes out of the closet, SO many feelings came rushing in…but not negative like “The Box.” These memories were of all the hard work and the thousands upon thousands of hours of dance that they carried me through. Worked with me and for me like a best friend and closest confidante. These were my war buddies! The tattered front of the soles from where my toes gripped the shoe and dance floor. The scuffs on the inside edge of each shoe where my feet brushed together so many times in proper form. The wearing down of the back edge of the heel tips in so many heel leads. The worn places on the inside ball of the foot from teaching so many students proper Cuban movement. The worn places on the outside ball of the foot because my feet like to improperly roll out due to my super-high arches.

The bottom of my closet is not good enough for my old war buddies. They needed proper display.

And so it was!

I immediately cleared a shelf and popped the shoes in there. They will soon get their own custom-made display to properly honor them!

There is absolutely nothing wrong with being sentimentally attached to things. We all have some…but they have to MEAN it. Not everything in our home is a positive attachment nor will it all bring about strong, sentimental feelings. Keep only those things that evoke the strongest, POSITIVE emotional response from you. Everything else can fall by the wayside. With those few fabulous keepers, do something that honors the memory and the feelings. Otherwise, it’s just a beat-down pair of shoes in a tattered old bag in the bottom of a closet.

Photo Credit: Peter Simmons via Compfight cc

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