A Striving Journey with My Yellow Shoes
Grace Wang (+Video)
Grace brings a pair of bright yellow flats with her when she leaves China for Canada. These shoes are her lucky charm. She hopes they will continue to bring good fortune to her and her daughter in Canada. Soon after her arrival, the pandemic breaks out. Isolation and lockdown lead to depression. However, these shoes accompany Grace on the path of reconciliation and self-help healing.
As the countless congratulations in the room finally faded away, my heart was filled with satisfaction. I couldn’t wait to open the exquisite box in front of me: a pair of flat shoes which were a job promotion gift I had bought for myself. The shoes were bright yellow, and the surface was made of patent calfskin. The shoe’s tips were decorated with grosgrain ribbons and a gold-tone logo plate. The shock-absorbing sole and its buttery-soft lining made my feet feel very comfortable. I loved wearing these bright yellow shoes. They were my lucky charm, accompanying me in pursuing and achieving my career aspirations.
One day, however, I found that the light in my daughter’s eyes had disappeared and her usual smile was missing. Under the pressure of fierce academic competition in China, she was gradually turning into a learning machine. Finally, we decided to leave everything behind and come to Canada. I believed Canada’s education system could help my daughter enjoy studying, improve her innovation, and provide her with a glorious future.
In September 2019, I carefully packed these shoes and put them into my suitcase as a reminder to be generous to myself and stay in a good mood. I hoped this pair of shoes would continue to bring good fortune to my life in Canada.
When we arrived, my daughter and I fell in love with Canada immediately. The autumn of Canada was full of colourful sights, as gorgeous as a painting by Van Gogh. I wore these shoes to my daughter’s orientation and witnessed different customs from all over the world. Winter arrived after the initial excitement had worn off. I didn’t wear my yellow shoes very often in the winter, and not at all when the pandemic broke out in the spring.
The lockdown pushed the pause button of our lives. Isolation and social distance in our new country meant we had fewer connections. I was confined among the four walls, struggling with language barriers, culture shock, and fear of the virus. Gloomy feelings loomed over me. In the summer, with the successful development of vaccines, the lockdown lifted.
I took out my yellow shoes. They were like a ray of sunshine that swept away the storm clouds over my head. When I put on these shoes, the same warm and energetic feeling circulated in my veins and helped me walk out to seek help, and to find connection and a sense of belonging.
I participated in a series of workshops to assist people with mental health issues. In these workshops, every team member complimented me on my beautiful shoes when they saw them. Their eye-catching appearance helped me break the ice. Gradually, I felt so loved and accepted. Workshops and support groups helped me go through a difficult time. Additionally, I took an English course to overcome language barrier. I have engaged in a variety of social activities: dancing classes, a conversation circle, and parties. Through the activities, I gradually adjusted to the cultural differences. Eventually, I began to feel like being home. Healing was a long journey of reconciliation and self-help. All of this healing started with taking my yellow shoes out of their shoe box.
Autumn is the most beautiful season in Canada. My daughter and I are bathing in the autumn afternoon sunshine. The golden maple leaves and the sunlight are melted together. My bright yellow shoes are shining. My daughter is humming a random song and giggling from time to time, with light in her eyes and a smile at the corner of her lips.
Grace Wang was a manager in a Fortune 500 company for over 27 years. She came to Canada in 2019 to accompany her child who is now a secondary school student here.