Life is a precious journey we all take.
Each decision we make leaves an indelible footprint, for good or bad,
success or failure, happiness or sorrow. So walk
carefully and with much thought, for your footprints will follow you wherever you go.
Walk in love. Reach out in kindness.
Speak peace. Harm no one. Be a light for
goodness. Live in truth. Spread hope.
Embrace others. Build bridges. Be a friend
to all. Show compassion. Champion
respect. Give your best. Do what is right.
Make a difference. (Everyone can!)
Live your life in such a thoughtful and
honorable way that when you or others
look back on the landscape of your life,
you will feel proud of the footprints you
have left behind.
Good footprints will not only allow you to
live well, happy and at peace. They will
make this world – which sometimes seems
so crazy – a better place because it was
graced by your presence, blessed by your
spirit, and gifted by your bright legacy.
Wherever you go in this life… leave good
footprints behind you.
~ Nancye Siums
We all try to be good. We focus on good days, good weather, good food. We tell our babies, “be good”, and “were you good today?” It’s all very natural to want the best and strive to be the best we can be. It’s when we take our eyes and hearts off the prize, that we are tempted and often times do succumb to the darkness of our humanity. We act and react based on our fear of loss, my personal favorite being control. We must take deep breaths and remind ourselves, (when I say ourselves, I really mean me, but hope that you all are due for a deep breath yourself) of that movie Defending Your Life. That’s the one with Albert Brooks and Meryl Streep, the story that takes into the afterlife of one man. We watch how he must go before a jury and watch old clips of his life to determine whether he should be allowed to move into his eternity or have to go back and do life on earth over again. According to the film, humans use only “3% of our brains… which are mostly filled with dealing with fear… it’s what little brains do”. If you haven’t seen the movie, give it a shot. It’ll give you the idea, regardless of your religious beliefs. that we may very well have to sit before a jury one day and defend our lives. We may be forced to watch things that we would rather have forgotten, and I’m not talking about that night in college that you woke up with indecent body parts Sharpied on your face and your ankle stuck in a beer bong. I’m talking about those times you loose your cool and make others feel bad. Or, maybe we’re talking about the times you’re so busy with things that can wait that you don’t take time to spend with your family or your kids or your dog. We can’t all live on vacation and do just what we want all the time. Even those that seem like they do, have things they have to do that they don’t want to do. If possible, we’d probably all like to be in a few places at a time, all the time. I was outside this morning, pulling weeds out of my garden because we did not staple down that fabric because we weren’t sure if we were done landscaping yet, and Charlie started eating dirt. I’m digging away, trying to get all of it done as soon as possible so that I wouldn’t have to worry about it anymore (note my fear that I wouldn’t get done with it soon enough and I’d have to gasp finish it later). I said, “No, Charlie, do not eat dirt.” She laughed. I said, “That is so gross, please do not eat dirt or you will have to go inside.” The next thing I see when I look up is her mouth full to the brim with the soft, wet, raunchy, mud. I said, “Spit it out.” She did, and got it all over her clothes. For all who know me, I hate stains. Clothes are ruined with just one drop of Ranch dressing… Nonetheless, she got mud all over her shirt. I pulled her shirt up over her head, pulled her skirt off, picked her up under my arm and dropped her in the shower in our downstairs bathroom. Now, I’m fearing a few things. 1.) I won’t get the weeds pulled fast enough 2.) Her clothes are ruined 3.) She doesn’t listen to me and she never will. I’m fearing loss of control. I get her cleaned up and give her a stern lesson on listening. I tell her that Mama is going to tell her to do things and not do things and that she’s going to have to listen. Be easy on her, Mom, she’s only 2. Yes, I know she’s two, but the earlier she learns about doing what I say, the better. My mom always told me that it’s ok to talk to yourself but once you start answering yourself, you’ve got problems. Does it count if the conversation is only in your head, Mom?
Moral of the story, from my perspective, is that I acted out of fear. I was so worried that I wasn’t going to get my chores done and that my daughter was going to live the rest of her life actively defying me. However, I could have taken a big scoop of mud myself and rubbed it all over my face right there in the front lawn. I could have made a few mud pies and flung them right over at my 2-year-old and saw what she would have done then. A cool Mom would have done that. Charlie would have thought, “My mom is so fun!!!” We would have spent the next 20 minutes rolling around in the mud together like too little piggies and then laughed our way all the way up the steps and did canonballs into the bathtub. OR, I would have told Charlie, “Ok, lets go up and take a bath now!” and she could have very well threw a tantrum right there in the mud and forced me to carry her kicking and screaming, all fun ceasing. What’s the more important lesson, throwing mud is ok or it’s not ok to eat dirt and you have to listen to your Mom? All I could think about was that movie as I was digging away at my weeds, Charlie inside looking out through the window, post eating dirt. All I could think about was the prosecutor in my afterlife getting a close-up freeze shot on my face as I’m digging at the weeds, frustrated that I wasn’t done yet. I envision her looking at in my off-white robe and I hear her say, “Now, is your fear of not having this done quick enough more important than spending a positive day with this little girl? (Clip fast-forwards and freezes on Charlie face through the window, just starring at me) This is where I remind myself that we are going to have plenty more of these moments and she’s going to be a grown-up woman one day. The greatest gift I can give her is a positive outlook. How can I feel good about the positive outlook I’m instilling in her and still balance the negative aspects of all our interactions? Always end with love, I think. Always tell her that I love her and always hug and kiss her. Even if she doesn’t always get what she wants, she’ll still know that she’s a good girl and she can treat others so.
“I want to watch Kai-Lan”, she whines.
“Ok, you can watch Kai-Lan if you go into your room and pick up your toys. I’m going to take a shower here and I’ll put it on for your when I get out.”
“NOOOOO”, she screams.
“Yes,” I say, as I get into the shower. She pulls the curtain. I pull it back. She pulls it again and I say, “Please don’t do that, Charlie. Go pick up your toys in your room and you can watch Kai-Lan. Don’t you know that I finish with my shower, walk into her room, and all her toys are put away. The basket we put her books in is stacked up high with books.
“A tower,” she says with a smile. I was stunned. I said, with a huge smile on my face,
“Thank you, Charlie! What a wonderful job you did!” We high-five-ed.
“Now watch Kai-Lan?” she asks.
“Yes, let’s put on Kai-Lan.”
After the episode is over, she whines that she wants to watch Kai-Lan. As I walk into the other room to finish my post-shower routine, I say, “No, honey, we can’t watch another episode right now, let’s give our eyes a break.” She whines for a moment and then I hear quiet. I finish up and pray to myself that she fell asleep. She way over-due for a nap. I turn the corner and she is fast asleep on the couch. Enter deep sigh of relief. Thank you, Lord. Thank you, for the beautiful footprints you’ve given me to leave behind.