Perceived Value ~ Life Lessons Learned From A Pair Of Old Shoes

One afternoon I was scouting a local vintage store.  I love to flip through coats and scarves and consider their previous owners. I like to picture a dapper gentleman sliding a taupe fur wrap onto his wife’s shoulders. I take in the sparkly glint on a dangly pair of earrings and wonder what stories they might tell about a girl’s night out in 1958.

On this particular afternoon, I came across a pair of wedge heels. For those who know me well they know a beautiful platform shoe, to me, is akin to bathing in chocolate. I grabbed for them immediately. They were not vintage; they were contemporary. (Some of the baubles and trinkets of this particular store were placed in the store just because the owner thought they were beautiful, and these were.) There was only one pair, and they were a nine and a half. (My size exactly.)

They were also $118.00.

Way too much.

I carried them around the store but looked at other things trying to take my mind off them. I finally put them back and asked the store owner, a leopard print shawl wearing LA type if they might be going on sale. She clipped that their pricing was extremely generous. 

I left.

I went back.

I bought.

I loved these shoes, but it was not like they were a pair of Jimmy Choos or louboutins. Soon, not that these shoes fell out of favor, but their value to me started to diminish. I threw them on the floor instead of placing them on the shelf. They got a little banged up, and I didn’t care. They were just another pair of wedges that took up space in my closet.

Then, one particular day, I thought, I need another pair of shoes (like a hole in my head). The wedges came to mind because I loved the way they fit.  I wondered if I could get them locally.  I ran up to my closet and dug out the shoes from behind a pile of clothing on the floor. CORDERO.

Whatever…never heard of it.

I did a search. A boutique in LA came up as the only place you could get these shoes. Fanciness! I delved further. I clicked on the “shop now” button. My jaw dropped. I saw a pair very similar to the ones I owned.


What the what?? $800.00 for my shoes!! It turns out the wood heel is rare and hand carved. The upper leather is hand-stitched and embellished, and the designer name had become famous enough she could charge a premium.

I ran upstairs.

I pulled the shoes out from behind the pile of clothing and ran my hand over them. They had a champagne color upper with beautiful long straps that wrapped once around the ankle and closed with a hand forged metal clasp. The heel was solid wood and perfectly shaped to follow the curve of the arch. These shoes were a piece of art. They were stunning. I had kinda forgot.

Suddenly these shoes had a special place in my closet. They found themselves housed in a respectable, hermetically sealed, plastic shoebox, mentally marked “only to be worn on special occasions”. Their perceived value had just skyrocketed in my mind although nothing about the shoes had changed, nothing but a shift in me.


Interesting concept. We encounter “perceived value” in all aspects of our lives; tickets to a football game suddenly feel more precious if the team is now a Superbowl contender, a job offer more important significant if you are told it has a vice-president title,  or a hotel more commendable if a president has slept there. 

Perceived value is the idea that the value or lack of value of something TRULY is in the beholder.

It got me thinking about perceived value in relationship to people. What came to mind were folks that I  had undervalued because I either didn’t recognize their great worth in the first place or over time, I had allowed my attention to become distracted or my attitude complacent. It is interesting that it often takes crises or unique situations for us to be rattled into recognizing people’s importance in our lives. 

I have an acquaintance named Gloria. She is a quiet and understated lovely woman. She refers to herself as a “foul weather friend”. I thought that was a unique description, so I inquired further. She said that she didn’t have a lot of friends and wasn’t asked to do much often, but if someone was in crises, she was at the forefront. She had unparalleled skills to deliver someone through the roughest times with love and support. She had a unique gift, likely, often overlooked. Her perceived worth undervalued until the right moment brings to light she is, in fact, a diamond! Do you know someone like that

We all likely have people in our lives that fit this description. I think of the quiet dad who no one knows. He agrees to become the soccer coach and has a way with kids that bring out their absolute best. Perceived value. Or the kid who struggled and you found yourself pretty sure he was going to amount to nothing. That same kid who’s office you realize you are standing in preparing to hire him as your attorney. Perceived value. Or that “Oh, I should call her” friend from school who contacts you to let you know she has breast cancer. Suddenly her friendship feels more dear. All shifts in perceived value

I think the challenge is trying to remember to look at relationships with fresh eyes as much as possible. Take a moment to remember people of value to you. Don’t let connections get stale and old and remember the strangers you pass all have unique talents and gifts that might be of great value to you or someone you love. 

I am well aware,  that perceived value comparisons between fancy shoes and people are a stretch. Perhaps my mind is better at simple connections then complex ones! My challenge to you, shoe comparison aside, is to pick one person in your life that has had a significant impact. Maybe it is someone whose presence you now take for granted. Or, someone whose talents and skills have benefited your life in some way. Tell them. Make them aware of their value and that they have changed you for the better. 

I would love to know your stories below. Please share in the comments sections. 

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18 Responses

  1. Really great story, Heather. I will have to think about it a little more. Just want you to know that I have learned quite a lot from YOU. I thin k about life differently since I’ve met you.
    Thank you.

    1. It wasn’t an easy one to tell, but I know there is something there about how we value others and how sometimes until something shows us that they are much more precious then we originally thought, we don’t value enough.

  2. This is a very valuable post. It’s real food for thought about gratitude and appreciation of people that have been in our lives for a long time, as well as realizing the incredible value, gifts and talents of people we encounter along the way. It’s also a good reminder that we too should strive to be that special “diamond” that sparkles and brings happiness to all those who cross our path.

    1. Thanks, Chrissa!! I always am wowed by those moments were you subconsciously assign some arbitrary value to someone and then they blow it out of the water either by talents we didn’t know they had or some unexpected meaningful exchange. Thank you so much for commenting.

  3. Heather, this was a great post!!!! I totally agree with the comments that Denay wrote on 9/10. I would have written something similar, but she beat me to it! Moral of the story: we all can find value in each and every person our lives comes in contact with. Some, we may have to dig a little deeper and exert a little more energy to find the ‘value’.

    1. Sharon….thank you so much. I was not sure I got my point across but you and Denay nailed it. It is a combination of either not recognizing a persons value in the first place, or allowing ourselves to slowly forget about what we found valuable. Thank you so much for commenting. means the world to me!

  4. Ahhh this post brought a little tear to my eye! It was so well written and easy for me to relate to. I try to think of things like this as often as I can, especially when it comes to family and friends. I found that I hadnt been talking with my parents as often I know they would like, so decided to buy a flight back home to see them for a few days. It felt good and reminded me to never take them for granted, even though they aren’t in the same city as I am.

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