Do Your Shoes Match Your Friendship?

By Ian Harwick

Mikelle Learned and Ian Harwick

Being friends with Mikelle, it is always good to plan to be ready for surprise. As strange as that sounds, if you are prepared for the unexpected, you can move at a moment’s notice.  As my friendship with her has morphed over timed, I have grasp three key insights:

  1. understand what you are working with,
  2. be flexible at all times,
  3. and, wear the right shoes.

In my mind, this is a pretty decent metaphor for life, be prepared for things to change and have good shoes for the journey ahead.

Understanding is key to our friendship, as is it with all true friendships. I think ours might just be a bit different. With Mikelle you must understand one key thing: when Mikelle set’s her sights on something, it is best to move out of the way.

There are times when she is so focused on what she wants–nothing can stop her. I have seen her zip through traffic for a friend, leave her friends in the dust on the dance floor and have Bronco players leaning in to get her autograph (maybe a small exaggeration). Nonetheless, when she is on a roll, watch out.

In a changing world, knowing how to be flexible is valuable. It has been important in how we interact as friends and it is a necessity in regards to the how Mikelle navigates the world around her.

We might be out to a restaurant grabbing a quick bit to each. Often, there is a mere 2 feet between tables. Her  wheelchair equal in size.  Negotiating obstacles has become familiar to us. We work together.  But, being flexible and understanding her agenda are pivotal.  However we planned our day, Mikelle may have other intentions, whether those intentions are selling jewelry or deciding that she is on the prowl for a man.

Not only do I have to be flexible, for Mikelle, she must be flexible.   Roommates change, daytime support folks are frequently changing and the world around her is constantly changing.

I never know where my friendship with Mikelle will lead me.    I might be crisscrossing the state watching and supporting her doing a workshop/keynote presentation, or walking blocks in the neighborhood  going to  just about every coffee house in Denver, including Pablos, watching her meet new and interesting people–that is why it is vital to have the right shoes.

Through her example, Mikelle has taught me a ton about life; how to understand my surroundings, how to navigate my surroundings in new and interesting ways and how to prepare properly for any given situation.

As life changes, so must I change with it.

Mikelle and having the right shoes has helped me to be better equipped for these changes.