All I want for my B-day is SHOES. SHOES. SHOES. - and thats what I got, PLUS much more.

THE BEST 26th BIRTHDAY PRESENT.

Am I the only one that find themselves in places where the dust settles, all your craziness / busyness goes away and you look at your life with big bug eyes being like —— what in the world? WHO AM I?!? I sure hope that I'm the not the only one who stares at life’s unexpected blank slate with a little confusion, anxiety and emptiness. 

The turn of the year held a lot of new for me. A lot of good types of new, super exciting changes in my life, new passions, a lot of fun surprises, dreams and what I thought was my first step on the escalator up. However, like most things in life it's not always a steady ride... may look like it, but never really pans out that way. I found myself one Sunday laying in my bed at about 9 pm (yep, grandma status) feeling every emotion out there. Finally, I got so fed up with my mind moving a mile a minute I grabbed my journal and started writing. What I found was that, I had lost bits of my self by all the distractions around me, which is a normal thing in life for sure, but what I thought was interesting was I asked myself, point blank… "What do you miss in your life?" 3 things immediately came to mind, 1. I missed auditioning (actor life problems) 2. I missed performing on stage (dancer life problems) 3. I missed giving back. I closed my note book and went to bed. The following Sunday, I found myself laying in bed at 12:30 am (FEELING MORE MY AGE ;)) tired from my busy week. Instantly, having a flash back to the week before and with the biggest smile forming across my face, I noticed that 1. I am auditioning for projects I enjoy, with more upcoming. 2. Booked for 2 stage dance shows. 3. I have a SHOE DRIVE planned to give back for my birthday. Im not sure if my stating it helped me find or attract these things but I for sure know that stating it made finding it, that much more special!

The shoe drives I hold will always be a very special way of giving back for me. My brother Drew passed away almost 5 years ago and he LOVED shoes, loved gifting them, loved wearing them, loved shopping for them. My family and I held our first shoe drive just 3 months after his passing and raised almost 1,000 pairs of shoes in his honor. I held another a couple years back, specifically for an orphanage in Tijuana, Mexico. This one I wanted to do for my birthday, gifting back something in honor of a person I will continue moving through life inspired by. THE RESULTS WERE MIND BLOWING. Just, the best birthday present EVER. NBD. 

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YO!!! My friends, family, and strangers (lol) stepped up. 349 pairs of shoes were raised in just 10 days. LIKE WHAT?! My goal was 260, and between the people I know in KS and LA my goal was surpassed. With my days becoming super busy I didn't get to focus on the “advertising” of the drive like I had hoped… but that didn't seem to matter. I showed up to the dance studio I teach at and there were 4 massive boxes, and bags FULL of shoes. My heart could barely take it when the kids as young as 6 yrs old were coming up to me telling me about the shoes they donated. “Mine are the really sparkle-y ones”,  “I gave those tennis shoes”!  “Woah, Miss Arie, did you see these heels”? Again, MIND BLOWN! Getting texts from friends, “I have 12 pairs of shoes, I'm coming over.” “I just cleaned out my entire house, I have a bag full of shoes for you”. These things just skim the surface. I couldn't have raised all these shoes without the support and help from HS Dance Scene, Grace Anatomy Pilates, all my friends and my mom being the amazing energizer bunny in KS. 

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I found an organization, called Soles4Souls. They create sustainable jobs and provide relief through the distribution of shoes and clothing around the world. Their goal is to end poverty entirely. They focus on helping “small businesses” (AKA. a mom and 3 kids) start a business by selling shoes. So it's not just a gift for people to protect their feet and be able to work, but now they can make an income and support their families. When the soles wear out hopefully the impact and financial savings will still be there. check them out: https://soles4souls.org

I can't say it enough, life will give you blank slates that can look scary and very empty… but maybe that's the perfect time to ask yourself, "WHAT'S important to me?" What do you want to choose to place in your life? You have the space and time! GO for it, it might surprise you, like it surprised me. 

THANK YOU FOR THE BEST BIRTHDAY PRESENT A 26 YR OLD GIRL COULD ASK FOR. 

As always

live free,

-arie

arielle bodenhausen