Footprints In Your Heart, Eleanor Roosevelt’s wisdom poem

Anna "Eleanor" Roosevelt from the United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID cph.3c08091.

Anna “Eleanor” Roosevelt from the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division, ID cph.3c08091.

The White House Portrait of Mrs. Roosevelt painted by Douglas Chandor, 1949

The White House Portrait of Mrs. Roosevelt painted by Douglas Chandor, 1949

539px-eleanor_roosevelt_signature-svg

Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (32nd President of the United States,  is often referred to as an iconic first lady, as someone who changed the rules. She was active politically, advocated for social justice and human and civil rights, wrote and gave speeches, formed a White House press corp of women reporters and photographers and was the first Chair of the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women (under John F. Kennedy). She is the gold standard for the first ladies who follow her.

 More details Roosevelt with the Spanish version of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which includes Franklin Roosevelt's Four Freedoms.

Mrs. Roosevelt with the Spanish version of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which includes Franklin Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms.

One of the projects Mrs. Roosevelt was most proud of was the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which included her husband’s four freedoms:

  1. Freedom of speech
  2. Freedom of worship
  3. Freedom from want
  4. Freedom from fear

These are from what is known as President Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms Speech, which was his 1941 State of the Union address. He proposed these freedoms for everyone “everywhere in the world.”

Mrs. Roosevelt’s poem, Footprints in Your Heart, is chock full of wisdom, high ideals and good advice.  If you’ve never read it before, I hope you enjoy it here. If you have read it before, I know you’ll enjoy reading it again. It is not the most well-written poem or  perhaps it’s collection of her sayings that someone might have put together as a “poem.” Either way its sentiment is refined and there lies its value.

Footprints In Your Heart

Many people will walk in and out of your life,
But only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.

To handle yourself, use your head;
To handle others, use your heart.

Anger is only one letter short of danger.

If someone betrays you once, it is his fault;
If he betrays you twice, it is your fault.

Great minds discuss ideas,
Average minds discuss events,
Small minds discuss people.

He who loses money, loses much;
He who loses a friend, loses much more;
He who loses faith, loses all.

Beautiful young people are accidents of nature,
But beautiful old people are works of art.

Learn from the mistakes of others.
You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.

Friends, you and me.
You brought another friend,
And then there were three.

We started our group,
Our circle of friends,
And like that circle –
There is no beginning or end.

Yesterday is history.
Tomorrow is mystery.
Today is a gift.

That’s why it’s called the present.

Eleanor Roosevelt

The photographs here were all taken as documentary record by government photographers and as such are in the public domain.


2015, Kevin Young at Library of Congress National Book Festival September 5, 2015 Washington, DC, by fourandsixty, CC BY SA 2.0

2015, Kevin Young at Library of Congress National Book Festival September 5, 2015 Washington, DC, by fourandsixty, CC BY SA 2.0

The recommended read for this week is The Art of Losing by Kevin Young.  I find this to be an extraordinarily beautiful anthology about grief and recommend it for all those who work with living and dying, clergy of all faiths, hospice workers, physicians and nurses as well as those grieving a lost family member or friend. It was conceived and edited by Kevin Young, a poet in his own right and the editor of four poetry anthologies. His book Jelly Roll: A Blues was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. It won the Paterson Poetry Prize.

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