The Sandpiper by Robert Peterson

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

We see heaps of this kind of story in social media nowadays but this one really resonated with me, I hope it has the same effect on you.....

The Sandpiper

She was six years old when I first met her on the beach near where I live.

I drive to this beach, a distance of three or four miles, whenever the world begins to close in on me.

She was building a sand castle or something and looked up, her eyes as blue as the sea.

"Hello," she said.

I answered with a nod, not really in the mood to bother with a small child.

"I'm building," she said.

"I see that. What is it?" I asked, not really caring.

"Oh, I don't know, I just like the feel of sand."

That sounds good, I thought, and slipped off my shoes.

A sandpiper glided by.

"That's a joy," the child said.
"It's a what?"

"It's a joy. My mama says sandpipers come to bring us joy."

The bird went gliding down the beach.

Good-bye joy, I muttered to myself, hello pain, and turned to walk on.  I was depressed, my life seemed completely out of balance.

"What's your name?" She wouldn't give up.

"Robert," I answered. "I'm Robert Peterson."

"Mine's Wendy... I'm six."

"Hi, Wendy."

 She giggled. "You're funny," she said.

In spite of my gloom, I laughed too and walked on.
Her musical giggle followed me.

"Come again, Mr. P," she called.. "We'll have another happy day."

 The next few days consisted of a group of unruly Boy Scouts, PTA meetings, and an ailing mother.

The sun was shining one morning as I took my hands out of the dishwater. I need a sandpiper, I said to myself, gathering up my coat.

The ever-changing balm of the seashore awaited me. The breeze was chilly but I strode along, trying to recapture the serenity I needed.

"Hello, Mr. P," she said. "Do you want to play?"

"What did you have in mind?" I asked, with a twinge of annoyance.

"I don't know. You say."

"How about charades?" I asked sarcastically.

The tinkling laughter burst forth again. "I don't know what that is."
"Then let's just walk."

Looking at her, I noticed the delicate fairness of her face.

"Where do you live?" I asked.

"Over there." She pointed toward a row of summer cottages.

Strange, I thought, in winter.

"Where do you go to school?"

"I don't go to school. Mummy says we're on vacation"

She chattered little girl talk as we strolled up the beach, but my mind was on other things.

When I left for home, Wendy said it had been a happy day.

Feeling surprisingly better, I smiled at her and agreed.

Three weeks later, I rushed to my beach in a state of near panic.

I was in no mood to even greet Wendy.

I thought I saw her mother on the porch and felt like demanding she keep her child at home.

"Look, if you don't mind," I said crossly when Wendy caught up with me, "I'd rather be alone today."

She seemed unusually pale and out of breath.

"Why?" she asked.

I turned to her and shouted, "Because my mother died!" and thought, My God, why was I saying this to a little child?

"Oh," she said quietly, "then this is a bad day."

"Yes," I said, "and yesterday and the day before and -- oh, go away!"

"Did it hurt?" she inquired.

"Did what hurt?" I was exasperated with her, with myself.

"When she died?"

"Of course it hurt!" I snapped, misunderstanding, wrapped up in myself.  I strode off.

A month or so after that, when I next went to the beach, she wasn't there. Feeling guilty, ashamed, and admitting to myself I missed her, I went up to the cottage after my walk and knocked at the door.

A drawn looking young woman with honey-colored hair opened the door.

"Hello," I said, "I'm Robert Peterson. I missed your little girl today and wondered where she was."

"Oh yes, Mr. Peterson, please come in. Wendy spoke of you so much. I'm afraid I allowed her to bother you. If she was a nuisance, please, accept my apologies."

"Not at all --! she's a delightful child." I said, suddenly realising that I meant what I had just said.

"Wendy died last week, Mr. Peterson.  She had leukaemia. Maybe she didn't tell you."

Struck dumb, I groped for a chair. I had to catch my breath.

"She loved this beach, so when she asked to come, we couldn't say no.She seemed so much better here and had a lot of what she called happy days. But the last few weeks, she declined rapidly..."

Her voice faltered, "She left something for you, if only I can find it. Could you wait a moment while I look?"

I nodded stupidly, my mind racing for something to say to this lovely young woman.

She handed me a smeared envelope with "MR. P" printed in bold childish letters. Inside was a drawing in bright crayon hues -- a yellow beach, a blue sea, and a brown bird.

Underneath was carefully printed: A SANDPIPER TO BRING YOU JOY.

Tears welled up in my eyes, and a heart that had almost forgotten to love opened wide.

I took Wendy's mother in my arms.  "I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry," I uttered over and over, and we wept together.

The precious little picture is framed now and hangs in my study.

Six words -- one for each year of her life -- that speak to me of harmony, courage, and undemanding love. A gift from a child with sea blue eyes and hair the colour of sand - who taught me the gift of love.


Life is so complicated, the hustle and bustle of everyday traumas can make us lose focus about what is truly important or what is only a momentary setback or crisis.

This week, be sure to give your loved ones an extra hug, and by all means, take a moment... even if it is only ten seconds, to stop and smell the roses.

Persistence Is King

Thursday, May 23, 2013
Firstly an apology to my regular readers for the gap the last couple of weeks.

We’re moving to a monthly Newsletter format and my weekly musings will go to blog only - when we get the Google feed right.

Oh technology. Great when it works, frustrating when it doesn’t.

Which brings me to this weeks’ theme. We all know the gap between intention and reality is paved with problems. Murphy’s law reminds us that if things can go wrong, they will – and sometimes with a vengeance.  

I find that one of the most persistent challenges is self doubt. We feel we’re doing our best but when we encounter the inevitable detours and roadblocks the questions start.

Am I talented/skilled/ young/ energetic, etc, etc, etc enough?

Most of us have been there and all know that, at best, its’ a time and energy drain. At those times find the following saying, written by I don’t know who, is a great help.
"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.
Talent will not: nothing is more common that unsuccessful men with talent.
Genius will not; Unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence and determination alone is key”

So right now, let’s just take a breath, pucker up and keep going.

Have a great day.
All the Best,


Energise Your Day

Thursday, May 16, 2013
It’s SO easy to be inactive these days. Machines do most of our work, we can live on pre prepared, fast meals, cars or public transport deposit us at school or  work where our labour is sitting at a desk or terminal. Then for recreation we can choose to sit once more and immerse ourselves in a universe of “inactivities” via more screens.

Fortunately, those who want to be active are well catered for. The opportunities for sports, leisure and recreation are ample, for those who live in or near large urban centres.

However, many of us are sedentary either because the activities on offer don’t suit us, or  the “traditional”  fitness message has been intimidating, ironically encouraging us to find reasons to avoid regular exercise.

The result is that more than 70% of Australians are habitually less active than ideal.

Fortunately our understanding of how much, how often - and what kind of exercise is best to improve our fitness and well being has changed radically over the past couple of decades.

And the message is finally sinking in.

In a nutshell, for most of us, it is actually better to focus on doing  2 or 3 short “energiser” exercise sessions a week of only 10 to 15 minutes duration..or even less.

The way it works is this:

Extensive research has found that one third of a traditional “work out” will deliver  82% of the benefits of the whole hog. So unless you really need that extra 18%, you’re better off stopping much sooner for some powerful reasons.

Even more research has shown that when we just do that first third of the workout :
  • Instead of feeling tired, stiff and sore we feel energised and motivated to be more active the rest of the time, rather than putting up our feet and eating a tub of ice cream
  • Also, we are much less likely to find reasons to avoid our “workouts” and so become habitually more active.

So give it a go!

Try an iKi energiser today. These are set up so you can do a quick Play out that will help you work rest and play. 
Learn Online

A perfect example of less is more. Have an energised day.

Strong Teams Better Futures.

Thursday, May 02, 2013
I've read a couple of articles in recent weeks about very different topics, but which I think share a common thread. 
  • The first being about the Chinese Air Force realising they need to let pilots take risks under pressure and learn from them
  • The second was about Australian schools creating policies to manage “helicopter” parents
Bourke Staff Development
The Chinese Air Force has realised that needs to let pilots take risks under pressure and learn from them, if they are to become a credible defence force in the modern era. Apparently, the pilots rarely actually fly their planes as the paperwork, managed by officials with no military or air force training, is overwhelming.

The article quoted world military experts saying that a crucial measure of military preparedness and efficiency is the number of peacetime accidents. Wait for it….the higher the better! Apparently accidents indicate that training is realistic with the pressure, unpredictability and danger necessary to build real strength.

The second article about Australian schools creating policies to manage “helicopter” parents was built around the idea that schools need to be given the space to do the job of teaching students to be respectful, resilient individuals who take responsibility for their own actions.

I've just returned from Bourke, where I was privileged to present staff development training to the teachers of Bourke Public School. On the one hand, Bourke has been in the news recently for its’ high crime rate. On the other hand I found it brilliant to observe the happy pursuit of learning going on in the school, empowered by a dedicated team of teachers led by a committed, competent Principal. They are excited to teach because they have a common vision and fair, consistent policies in place to manage their diverse clientèle. They all realise that good teams are built on identifying problems and finding positive solutions, as well as recognising, celebrating and building on their strengths. And importantly, giving people the opportunity to develop as responsible members of the team, whoever they are.

They have shared values and expectations that are encouraged and enforced. How inspiring to be in a school with 99% of its students in uniform and with wonderful manners. Well done Bourke Public!! The future will be better.

Great teams, like happy families, healthy businesses and strong countries have the balance right. They have strong guidelines to live by, but with the space to fail and learn and improve. 

Great teams led by great leaders recognise this.

Look up and Live.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The old saying “can’t see the forest for the trees” is relevant in lots of circumstances. It explains so well the feeling I get when work and family gets too hectic and suddenly nothing is working as well as I’d like. On reflection, I know the main reason is that I've become blinded by the grind of work, -and as we know, if we’re busy and distracted, it’s easier to focus on the things that are going wrong rather than the things that are right.

What’s the solution? Step back and either take a big breath, or, when possible, take some time out. Yes there’s work to be done, There’s always work to be done! But remember, if we’re not doing it properly we may be doing more harm than good. Step back, think, revisit your plans and dreams, adjust your perspective before setting the nose back to the grindstone.

This old quote from Charles De Gaulle says it well ; -“When everything is going badly and you are trying to make up your mind, - look towards the heights. No complications there”

Just make a moment. Stop. Take a breath. Look up. Think about where you REALLY want to be. Perhaps now is the right time to take the first steps to getting there. A great way to take that breath that allows us to see the trees- and properly appreciate the forest - is to take a proper break.

Solutions often just “come to us” when we switch off and stop worrying about them. Do something engaging, exciting, relaxing, fun and give your subconscious a chance.

Look up, to the heights, and live.

Put your best you forward.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

5 or 6 years ago I was presenting an iKiFit Workshop in Orange. When I asked all participants to introduce themselves, a teacher by the name of Alby Ryan suggested they use a Power Name. I make the process a feature of every workshop I run these days. To illustrate why, I’ll quote from an email I received from Justine Cook, Director of Regand Park ECEC several days ago.

“Four of us had just boarded a mini bus with a group of fellow educators, for a three day out of town Industry Visit. There were 14 of us in total (including the bus driver) and many of us had not met before, as we were all from different services through Western New South Wales. Everyone had settled back for the four hour trip, the bus was reasonably quiet and we were about half an hour out of town when it dawned on us that we were going to be with these people for the next three days - and had not even introduced ourselves.

 Two nights before we had had Kim Macrae visit our service to run a Team Building Workshop with our staff and introduce us to iKiFit. Kim started with an activity he referred to as “Power Positives” where we had to introduce ourselves with a power positive name. After a brief conversation it was decided we should do this activity right here on the bus.

 Our courageous colleague quickly moved up to the front of the bus, gathered everyone’s attention and began explaining the activity we had done just two days before. She explained how we were all going to be spending the next three days together on a mini bus, so asked each person on the bus to introduce themselves, say what service they were from, what age group of children they worked with AND what their Power Positive name was going to be. It was amazing to see how this activity turned a quiet settled bus into a laughing and applauding audience as each person introduced themselves. The dynamics of the group quickly changed.

 Over the next three days we saw people changing seats to engage in conversations with others, we saw open professional conversations incorporating different points of view, we saw a sharing of ideas and understandings and we laughed a lot as people referred to each other as “Tall, travelling Taneha”, “Amazing Amanda”, “Jolly Justine”, and “Creative Catherine” to name a few.

Store some nuts today

Monday, April 08, 2013

Everyone I’ve spoken to in the past few days had a great Easter, so I hope you did too.

I’m just taking a moment to sit and remind myself of the things I really enjoyed about it. The perfect weather, the opportunity to do some things I wanted to do, and my good fortune to be able to share some of those with family. Go on, take a moment right now to recall the best bits of last weekend. HMMM! The chocolate was great! Then I went and burned it off on a bushwalk with the kids, and did some gardening just for me. Triple bonus.

I’m totally loving the Autumn. The weather is ideal for just about anything we might want to do;- gardening, bush walking, swimming, riding, packing up house and moving to new town - Hi Cath! Even thought the days are getting shorter there is still plenty of daylight to get things done..

While spending time in the garden and in the bush I got to thinking about the ways of nature. And it seems to me that autumn is as perfect as it is to give us an opportunity to get ready for winter - to store some nuts, so to speak, and get things in order for the cold days ahead. So I’ve been taking advantage of the perfect temperatures to store up as much good energy as I can and getting stuff done, so I can rest up in winter.

I received an inspiring book called Promptings from a friend in Condobolin, Libby Roesner, who is an agent of Send Out Cards, a very differnt idea. Just what I need to boost my enthusiasm levels even more. Thanks Libby

Here’s a quote from the book that made my day. “A positive attitude may not solve all your problems but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort”

Make and take some time to “store some nuts” - Eat good food, get out and be active, do some Autumn cleaning – and annoy someone in a good way.

Dish it out with a ladel for Easter

Thursday, March 28, 2013

This Easter ladle out the positives.

My most regular correspondent is Cath McDonnell, of Narromine Children’s Services, who often replies to my blogs with a supportive comment, helpful suggestion or just a simple "thanks, I enjoyed that"

Thanks back Cath..and have a great time packing.

Last week she sent this. “I recently read a book called “How full is your Bucket?” Rath and Clifton. It’s based on the bucket and dipper theory ;-

“In a nutshell, we all have invisible buckets and dippers. Every day we each have hundreds of interactions with other people. When it is a positive interaction initiated by you, you are putting a drop into the other persons bucket - and also yours because it makes you feel good as well. Negative interactions do the opposite and take from buckets”

“I taught this to my 9 year old, and Bill regularly comes home and tells me how he put a drop in someone's bucket today. I firmly believe it is 'the' most effective way to teach school aged children empathy. A teacher I recently told felt this knowledge was gold and she would use it in her classroom. Needless to say, my life has improved greatly since I and my family members have made the bucket and dipper theory part of our lives”

Sounds even better than Easter Egss to me. It's so easy, costs nothing and comes back with interest. A smile, a kind word, a helping hand.

Of course if you really want to spend some money on that special someone it's OK.

Have a great Easter break--and dish it out with a ladle.

It's normal to feel negative sometimes.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Mark twain said, “The unexamined life isn’t worth living.”

I’ve been conducting Team Building Workshops for a while now and and am surprised at the number of people who don’t realise that we all regularly experience negative thoughts.

Recently, a mature lady who is retraining as a teacher, very professional and competent, was overwhelmed when she realised she wasn’t alone in having a negative voice in her head.

In the workshops we discuss how we learn, leading to the understanding that we're designed to learn by recognising where we’re ‘failing’ and correcting the mistakes. As one of the most important elements of daily life is ‘fitting in’ to our group and community, we mentally compare ourselves to our peers, our neighbours, our family and of course, the people we see in the media.

Our subconscious is constantly calculating how we measure up - and endeavouring to adjust our persona accordingly. The “problem” with this is that we all have that built in nag which is giving us feedback on how well we’re doing- or not. We can be our own worst critic. And then there are those people in our lives who say they're ‘just trying to help’ by pointing out our many failings.

To make matters even more difficult, we're constantly bombarded with images of “perfect” people; - celebrities, sports stars, models. It’s easy to overlook that they have dieticians, physios , plastic surgeons, personal trainers, P.R managers and stylists to help them appear their best. Then their images are photo-shopped to hide normal human “flaws” like cellulite and wrinkles.

It can be challenging to maintain a positive self image in the face of that kind of competition. If we’re not alert, we can easily start beating up on ourselves.

Just realising that this is the way we’re built is an important first step in managing it. Knowledge is power.

From there it’s a matter of developing ways of keeping our thoughts in balance.

The “mature lady” I mentioned had taught herself to imagine grabbing hold of the negative thought and twisting it 180 degrees into a positive. Some people use a mental method of choosing rooms. When they feel themselves being drawn into a negative place, they visualise themselves walking out of a dark room and into a place of light and laughter.

In the iKiFit Power Positive Workshops we come up with, - or get someone to help us create, - a Power Name. While this can be challenging,- as we live in a culture where peer pressure can be strongly against seeming “up yourself”, particularly for teenagers, it can change a bad day into a great day. Or turn around a life.

Peer pressure can be positive too.

So if you find yourself negatively affected by that voice in your head, remember it’s not just you. We’re all in the same boat. We all feel bad about ourselves sometimes.

Examining our lives is worthwhile, but remember to be fair to yourself. None of us are perfect but we all have our good points and it's healthy to remind ourselves what they are.

Take a moment to listen to the good guy on your shoulder. Give yourself a smiley face today.

Walk confidently and carry a big stick.

Friday, March 08, 2013

I believe that the best way to stay safe is to treat others with respect and fairness and to act as though every one we meet, regardless of their age, race, sex or appearance, is a nice person and will treat us the same way. At the same time however, it helps if you don’t look like an easy victim. On several occasions I’ve been in situations where I was faced with people who would almost certainly have attacked me – and likely beaten me badly – if I had shown either disrespect, - or fear. We all want to be treated nicely and do the right thing - but we all respect strength.

Violence against women is a scourge worldwide, - but the tide is turning. Why?

Just the other day I noticed an article reporting that for the first time a pair of females are headlining the UFC, - and wondered if there is any connection between that and the worldwide rise of mass protests about violence against women. I reckon so and believe it’s because of the different way we’re now “seeing” women. Yes, we can argue that there’s still a long way to go, but it’s commonplace to have women in positions of power, danger and responsibility. Not only are they leading countries and corporations, they are police, emergency workers and front-line troops. This is a part of the answer but there is more to it.

Patrick Moore has made it his life mission to teach females that they CAN be safe from violence. He's started a movement called One Billion Punches for Peace. A great idea and Patrick is well on the way to taking it to the world. His central point is that to be defeated, this epidemic has to be acknowledged and discussed openly. We have to decide as a society that it’s time to admit we have a problem and address it.

But it’s also about women realising they can fight back.

Patrick says...”A myth I challenge is the belief that a woman can never win against a man, so there's no use trying. In fact, there are many ways a woman can prevail. Predators and bullies are weak. They are looking for a victim, not a fight. A woman, even half the size and strength of a man, can still be smarter, mentally stronger, and in many ways more powerful than an attacker. I held a talk once called: You're Stronger than You Think.

Read more about Patricks' ideas here.

The point overall is that strength and belief together are key. The strength to look an attacker in the eye and say NO! And the belief that you have the RIGHT to be safe.

But back to the fighters. The more girls show that they won’t be pushed around, the more other girls will believe that they can stand up for themselves ..and will.

It’s actually simple. Walk confidently, but don’t forget your stick. There will always be dogs who try to bite.