Words & Banter

In Memory Of … Footprints In The Snow

Photo by alzay on iStock

Back in 2004, I met an older couple participating in a Ferrari rally, and after a deep conversation over a long lunch, they became dear friends. It was an event that would change my life in many ways, and several months later, shortly after my husband “surprised” me with a divorce, the husband sent me an email that so moved me that I put it in my “Blue Book”. (A Circa planner with a blue leather cover, hence the name, that includes not only my calendars but also a section with a few things I re-read on a regular basis.)

Last month, he passed away. I always made a point of letting them know that “Footprints” had become an important part of my life. They are words to live by. And, in honor of my dear friend, who is loved and missed, I want to share that email. With no edits … as we do not get to edit our lives …

In the spring of 1972 Sue and I had been married for 18 months and we were dissatisfied with our existence. After some serious soul searching we decided to make a radical change in our lives. Both of us had read a book by the author Louis Bromfield that rhapsodized about the joys of farm life. We were young and adventurous, and we did not realize that Mr. Bromfield was independently wealthy, he was in fact a famous Hollywood screenwriter and not even remotely dependent on farming for a living.

We sold all of the extras that we had accumulated such as our house, my AA Fuel Dragster, Dragster Trailer, and miscellaneous spare engine and associated parts, cashed in my life insurance and moved to a small farm in North Central Missouri twelve miles South of the community of Marshall. We had chosen that latitude carefully reasoning that the land around us needed to change as much as possible during the year if we were going to stay in one place all the time. Marshall, Missouri has four distinct and nearly equal seasons with a long Spring and Fall, a real contrast to the monotony of Houston, Texas. The first year of our Missouri residence we saw the temperature swing one hundred and thirty four degrees, from a high in late July of 106º to a low in January of 1973 of 28º below zero. The land changed around us indeed.

One of my real surprises was learning how much I liked cold weather. I had never really lived anywhere where it snowed very often. I was delighted when we had snows during the night that formed ice crystals in the surface so that when the sun came up in the morning the snow sparkled as if there there was a diamond studded white blanket draped across the fields.

One morning in that first winter I left the house early while I was waiting for the coffee to finish brewing. It had snowed about six inches during the night but dawn broke on a cloudless sky with the blue that only a cold clear morning sky has. I wandered with the rising sun at my back to the top of the closest ridge. When I reached the crest I could see before me a gently undulating pristine white scene with only the sounds of the early morning birds to keep me company. It was a glorious day.

After a few moments I turned to leave and there in the otherwise unbroken white lay a path of solitary footprints. Dumbstruck I realized that I was looking at a metaphor for my life, that each step that I had ever taken led precisely to where I was standing. I turned back around and looked at the future, unmarked waiting for my next footprint and I had an epiphany. If I wanted the footprints of the future to go in a certain direction, or to have a particular shape then it was up to me to make each individual step count. The footprints of the future would leave a history of my choices. That morning in the snow my life changed and I started the footprints that surely lead to where I am standing now.

In time I came to understand that each footprint was necessary to help me reach this moving destination, each misstep, each stumble, each mistake and fall, each heartache and all the joys have made me into the man I am today.

I don't regret a single one.

Drive carefully my friend, the future is before you, the footprints of the past cannot be changed.

Red was your typical straight-A student, getting great grades starting in kindergarten straight through to graduating from college.(Black’s grades were less than stellar, plus she was a discipline problem – some things never change.) And then, excited and proud of herself, Red thought she was done. Black, on the other hand, thinks of education as something that never ends, and much to the chagrin of students, will tell them,

Homework never ends; it just is called “research” when you get older.

Over the last few years, Red has come around to Black’s way of thinking and realizes it’s a mindset. And that education is more than the classes you take in school.

September is when students of all ages are back in school, but it’s also National Literacy Month, which is about so much more than reading and writing. Literacy includes things like Digital Literacy, Financial Literacy, Health Literacy, and even News Literacy. (As the linked Conversation Starters indicate, Red was the “poster child” of a highly educated person who lacked many of these basic literacy skills.)

So, we challenge you to find a topic that interests you or one you could benefit from learning (personally or professionally) and start doing your homework.

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For many of us, Labor Day marks the end of summer (temperatures aside), and as we switch from a summer holiday mindset back to the “real world”, we can’t help but feel overwhelmed.

You don’t need us to tell you how falling back into a work or school routine can be challenging, especially if you’re facing a backlog of tasks and responsibilities. And, if that wasn’t bad enough, the “silly season” is just around the corner. (Red has been seeing Halloween decorations since mid-July, which means Thanksgiving and all the winter holidays aren’t far behind.)

But you don’t need us to tell you why you feel overwhelmed; you need help dealing with being overwhelmed.

When our new website goes live next year, one of the major sections will be THE DAILY HELP, where you’ll find easy-to-implement tools to get your day back on track and feel more in control.

But that doesn’t help you … NOW. So, here are a handful of our favorite posts to help you deal with daily challenges we all face. (Red admits that she picked the ones she felt she needed to reread.)

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red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

We’ve been posting new content on our website multiple times a week for what seems like forever, so it will be strange to only post a few times a month.

Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

And, do not forget we also have been “feeding the beast” known as social media. But, if it makes you feel any better, we will still be issuing our newsletter every week and providing our followers with inside information on what the New Year will bring – a new website … and our new approach to Red & Black.

red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

I’m so excited as it’s going to be fun, animated (in more ways than one), and help people take control of their lives vs. their life controlling them. Which, to some extent, is what we’ve always tried to do.

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Yes, except our current site has almost too much information, and you do not know where to turn first. Or, where to go if you are looking for specific help.

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I know when I first had my crisis, I turned to you, looking for you to tell me what to do. Instead, all I got was questions. Lots and lots of questions. But those questions were how you helped guide me. I think that’s why our book became a bestseller … because people could join me on my journey.
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