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Wired for Creativity: In My Shoes

As an adult, I finally realised why I always felt ‘different’ and found an explanation for my eidetic memory, fascination with words and playing roles. I teach neurodivergent students and discovered that I too was autistic. I realised that women on the spectrum are often last to be diagnosed, brilliant at ‘masking’, when inside they are experiencing many challenges or having brilliant ideas. I believe neurodivergence means ‘wired differently’ and that, even if the world can be a tough place to negotiate at times, we enhance it with our rainbow of gifts and skills when we are given confidence and encouragement.

My gift is ‘words’. I can look at a page and ‘see’ it in my head; I can open ‘screens’ in my mind and remember pages, all of which are useful for my work.

I wrote two books during lockdown. The first was The Camera Obscure, a collection of gothic, ghostly and dystopian stories. The second was poetry, Tourist to the Sun, which includes this poem:

In My Shoes

I have walked in many kinds of shoes:

When I was small

they were a perfect fit;

sturdy quality,

parading in dim-lit shops

smelling of dust and leather;

made-to-measure, and fashioned

with love.

And as I grew,

I tried my mother’s shoes for size;

towered inches higher;

paper-stuffed the toes;

clip-clopping up the hall

like a new-born foal.

And there were other shoes to come -

ballet pumps,

that took me pirouetting

over quavers; crotchets, with a minim rest;

until I took to dancing to a different tune.

I squeezed my feet

into ankle boots

and kitten heels with pointed toes;

tottered unsteadily,

wiggled like Monroe;

danced ’til 3am in six-inch heels,

and then limped home,

walking wounded;

barefoot; blistered; bleeding,

dodging broken glass and needles;

those shoes you wear returning home

by sunrise,

passing joggers on the way,

gratefully discard them by the bed,

as you crawl in shamefully,

with aching feet and head

as others start their working day.

I change shoes quite often.

Some I keep, like old friends;

some outgrow their use;

some look beautiful,

although they pinch me

and abuse;

some I gave away,

along the way.

The shoes I favour now for comfort

do not mistake for dull;

they shine so brightly!

I walk in them for miles

as I trip lightly

on the roads and paths I make,

I leave behind a trail

of stars and rainbows

in my wake.

I read once about a boot re-patriated;

leg still inside!

back from foreign soil,

to re-unite with owner, long dead.

Such is the power of shoes

to bring us back home.

I will end my days un-shod,


when finally I end the merry dance

relieving weary soul,

hoping that my child

will always wear the shoes that fit.

Virginia Betts


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