I needed some new, semi-dressy, shoes for work.

Black wingtips, to be specific.

But as usual, as I stood there in the middle of Kohl’s trying on shoes, I would sometimes draw the not-so-subtle stares of others, when I would visibly flinch at (and sometimes mumble not-safe-for-classroom words at) the sticker price of most of the shoes. Maybe Justin Bieber, George Clooney, and Kanye West can afford shoes over $50, but I can’t. My little confession, though, is that when it comes right down to it, I’m probably a bit of a cheapskate*.

Sure, the anemic paycheck in the teaching world may have something to do with it, and the fact that I grew up in a blue-collar family with three other siblings and a stay-at-home mom may also play a part, but it probably also boils down to it being an inherent character trait like being right-handed or having the gift to draw anime.

But I’m here to tell you that that’s not always the best approach.

As I shopped, I felt like I was in a department store version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Some of the shoe styles I tried didn’t work with the clothes I already owned, some were simply too hard to get into and/or didn’t feel “right” once on, and some of the pairs looked cheap and seemed like they wouldn’t last very long. I was looking for a pair that was “just right.”

And then I found them.

They were soft, easy to slip on, and looked sturdy.

And they felt AMAZING!

They were also roughly $20 more than I was hoping to pay—ON SALE!

But right there in the middle of Kohl’s, next to the lady with the stroller with the squeaky wheel and the guy trying on hats, I made a Life Decision.

I decided that the time for cheap, low quality, uncomfortable shoes was over.

I realized that the stress I would face if I bought cheap, low quality shoes that weren’t comfortable would impact my life (and teaching practice) so negatively that I just. Wasn’t. Going. To. Do. It. Anymore.

I could almost hear a marching band clanging their cymbals as they marched down the aisle in the housewares section: Danny had made a Life Decision!

Did I have the money for that particular pair?

Um, no. Not exactly.

But I chose them, anyway. I made an in-the-moment decision to reduce my stress and increase my comfort by buying these specific shoes and then I would compromise somewhere else.

I really don’t care what kind of socks I wear, for example, or I would skip a couple twelve packs of soda, or I wouldn’t wash my car at the full service car wash near the 7-11.

Wait, I already don’t do that.

Now not all of us are always in a position to make such an upgrade, of course, just like I wasn’t always able to, and I get that. When you’re young, as I once was, and have kids and a new mortgage, and have to pay for daycare or other life expenses, you buy the cheap shoes. It’s part of the deal.

But sometimes it’s important—for your own self-care, your sanity, and your well-being—to pick a place or two where upgrading will improve the quality of your life and reduce your sense of stress, tension, and anxiety.

Right now, for me, having just passed my 55th birthday which was, all by itself, a rite of passage. . .

. . .That place is comfortable shoes.

So my challenge for you is this: Where will YOU decide, when you can, that you’re tired of a low quality, uncomfortable aspect of your life and make a decision to upgrade?

Because you know what?

You’re worth it.

Someone just needs to convince YOU of that.

And when you are convinced, drop me a comment here on the blog or send me a tweet on Twitter letting me know what you’ve decided to upgrade.

What low quality thing are you just done stressing over? And how will you make it better?

Give me a shout out.

​Otherwise, I’ll just be sitting here.

Waiting for the other shoe to drop. TZT

*The discussion about how expensive clothes in general are—especially for women—is a conversation for another day. I can already feel my blood pressure rising. . .