DO Talk to Strangers!

Saturday, August 23, 2014
One of the things I’ve always admired about my Dad is his willingness and ability to talk to anyone, anywhere, anytime.When I was a child this was sometimes irritating, because of course I had better things to do than wait around listening to boring adult talk. But as the years went by I appreciated his attitude more and more. Not only was it interesting to connect with new people - and surprisingly often led to exciting developments - I learned some profound life lessons. It dawned on me that everyone wants to be liked, trusted and valued, but often hold back because they are afraid!
Growing up in a small country town it was normal to know and talk to everyone, but as I started to travel to other towns and then cities I realised that we are trained to NOT engage with strangers - not just from fear, but from a basic misconception ;- Others look, speak and dress differently, therefore they ARE different - and may well be dangerous. We’re taught to be afraid. And the media does nothing to change this – quite the reverse in fact. All news outlets know that bad news sells better than good and as a result 87% of information we encounter on an average day is negative. Yes, it’s been researched!

The bad news is brought to us from all over the world - but we internalise it and as a result, view our surrounds with a fear vastly disproportionate to our local reality. We hear a news story about someone approached by a “man in a white van” and fear there are predators in every street. The reality is there is on average one, that’s 1, successful child abduction in Australia every year. That means the odds of YOUR child being taken is 1 in 6,000,000. Yes, one in six million. But our perception is that it’s almost certain if we let our child walk around the block.We’re bombarded nightly with crime shows and find ourselves believing that every suburb harbours at least one garden variety murderer, and every second one a deranged serial killer.

Ask people if they think we’re safer now than our forebears were 50, 100, 200, 500 years ago and they reply ‘No, today’s world is more dangerous’. The reverse is true. We live twice as long on average than we did 100 years ago, not just because of better medicine and OH&S. Murder rates in all of the western world have steadily, consistently and constantly dropped for the past 700 years - from around 80 per 100,000 per year to less than 3. That’s 3,000% less chance of being murdered in our beds – or anywhere else.

We all “know” that city people won’t engage with strangers. But - using my dad as inspiration - I always make a point of striking up conversations – on public transport, in the street, at cafe’s, anywhere - with strangers. Occasionally I’ll encounter initial suspicion, but almost always am answered with enthusiasm, kindness and interest. Some people are overwhelmed that someone makes the effort to be friendly.

I remember an incident when I was 15, sitting in a public lounge watching people walk in the door. It dawned on me that they were just like me..a bit shy, unconfident and not wanting to stand out. Just like me they were all scared - of stranger danger, rejection, criticism. And just like me they wanted to be liked, to be treated as if they were interesting - and they wanted to meet and engage with interesting people.

One time, a friend and I were trying to get to China town in Sydney, late at night in a taxi. The driver had no clue so we got out in a dark street in a seedy suburb in disgust. We had no idea where we were but saw a group of men about our age hanging around some cars outside a run-down pub. They looked scary to us. Big, tattooed, shaved heads---which in those days was something only “thugs and sailors” did. They watched us as cautiously as we felt about them, but we walked up with apologetic smiles, telling them we were from the country and lost. 10 minutes later they dropped us outside a restaurant in China town they recommended, with thanks, smiles and handshakes all ‘round.

Of course, there ARE people ‘out there’ who will take advantage if we let them, but the overwhelming majority of strangers are just like us. Caring, friendly, interesting people who want to be respected and trusted. Just like us. People who want to live meaningful, loving lives - who may be someone who’ll have a positive impact on our lives. Somebody special we just don’t know yet.

All the best, 


Ask and You Shall Receive

Wednesday, February 12, 2014
I finished last weeks’ blog with a promise of sharing an experience I’ve had that shows the value of being open to the world around us.

Before I continue, I will disclose that sometimes I’ve doubted this wisdom. I’ve always prided myself as realistic, pragmatic, and yes, a bit sceptical - in a positive way of course, I’ve added to myself.

After all, the world is a big, tough place and there are lots of dangers out there.

This attitude can conflict with the belief that good things really do flow to those with an open mind and heart, - and so there have been times I’ve struggled with it.

My dad has always been a great inspiration and example to me. There are many lessons I’ve learned (sometimes by initially ignoring them, to my detriment) from him. But one of the habits I’ve always admired,  that he practises brilliantly even at 90, I’ve finally taken to heart.

He will always go out of his way to say hello and find something positive to say to everyone he comes in contact with.

The thing is, it invariably brings smiles all round, but can lead to much more ;-

I was having a coffee with son Nick in Bondi a couple of weeks ago. We were discussing his upcoming three months holiday in South America and the fact that he was keen to sublet his flat for the duration.  A simple thanks for the great coffee developed into a conversation with the waitress who, she soon revealed, was looking for a flat closer to her work.

Two doors away is pretty close. And the great thing was we had already observed that she was a hard worker, neat and organised. Could be a perfect match.

Ask and you shall receive.

I’d love to hear any personal stories you have of similar serendipity.

By the way, the word serendipity means good luck and good fortune. And the point I’m making is that our attitude and actions help us make our own good luck and fortune.

Please share. And have a great week.



What Excites You?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014
It’s normal to be afraid of new undertakings. It’s very human to feel panic at the idea of doing something different. Getting out of our ‘comfort zone’ can be hard, even though it may be an unbearable place to be.

In 2000 when the Olympics were playing in Sydney, a friend had extra tickets and offered some to me - "enough for several days" spectating for myself and a family member.

I asked my youngest son, who was 14 at the time, to come with me, but he was reluctant and ended up missing out.

However, on seeing my excitement at the experience, Nick vowed to think twice about missing opportunities in the future. Since then he’s spent years journeying, studying and working overseas as well as in iconic Aussie locations, meanwhile ticking off an impressive bucket list. This year it’s South America for three months. Some of that time is scheduled with friends, some left open to whim.

His credo is to do what excites him, with the understanding that excitement comes from the exhilaration of overcoming fear, and doing what makes your heart sing, not sink.

He understands the necessity to plan and prepare properly. He keeps healthy, fit and strong, eats well and takes care to plan his actions rigorously before the event. But he also leaves room to respond to chance opportunities.

It’s his birthday today and I’m proud of him..and admiring his example as well.

This year let’s learn from youth and do what excites us.

iKiFit can help you enhance your excitement. Get fit and learn new skills with Learn Online. Join for free  and download here to set your goals.



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.

A Question of Balance

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Years ago, I read a great comment about our constant struggle for work/ life balance, leisure/work balance, junk/food/healthy food balance, you name it. It went something like this;- "Oh yes, I remember when everything was just right; - it was one day in June about 10 years ago. Felt great"

I think most of us can lay claim to getting it right a bit more regularly than that, but there can be so much conflicting, confusing advice, that even when we are doing well, we can still feel like we aren't. A great illustration of this is the contradictions in nutritional (dietary) advice over the past 20 years. Lots of people have made fortunes coming out with "breakthrough" diets, some good, others crazy, that claim to have the keys to weight management, long life, and more. But for many people they create more problems as they just get confused and give up.

To illustrate what I mean, here's a great quote from ABC radio personality Richard Glover;-

"Be Healthy. Of course it's good to be healthy, but this advice is normally so thoroughly bundled up with shame that it often does more harm than good. Yes, people enjoy happier and longer lives if they are not carrying extra weight. They also live longer and happier lives if they are not laid low by anxiety, depression and self contempt that comes from feeling they aren't living the "perfect life".

"Is our central problem that we ask too little of ourselves or demand to much? We hate ourselves for our every imperfection and then we over-consume in various ways to suppress the shame of that previous over-consumption. There are two epidemics underway in the West-obesity and depression. How interesting that both started just as people began obsessing over their body mass index."

Richard cites more examples of attitudes and behaviors that we are advised to follow, that can just cause more anxiety because we feel we can't getting them right. The reality is that life is challenging and always will be. No matter how good, - or bad, we get it, it is certain to change, and someone will always be there to say we should do it another way.

When it comes down to it we're all doing the best we can with what we have. This week; - just a simple activity people. Think about three things we would like to be better. Writing them down would be good. I'm going to be brutally honest here and tell you what I've written;- Some things in my home life, a couple of elements at work and a an issue related to health. AHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now here's the thing. They could be so much worse, and I'm working on all of them and making progress. That's life.

Now let's write down the things that are going well. Whew! Again, they cover home life, work and personal health, hobbies and so on. Wow, it's not so bad at all. This week lets just suck it up and move on.

Have a great day








365 days of finding the positive

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

My wife has just completed a 12 Month Gratitude Diary. Yes, she actually completed it, a full 365 days of making thoughtful, positive posts, every day. Following is her very last instalment—day 365, which she posted yesterday; -

 "GRATITUDE DAY 365!!! I did it! 365 Days of Gratitude on Facebook... A whole year of finding things to be grateful for EVERY day, thanks to my beautiful friend Sue who asked me to do it with her. Thanks Sue for the challenge. This has been the most difficult year of my life, so it hasn't always been easy, but when we take our focus away from what's wrong and think about all the things we have to be thankful for, it changes our lives and magic happens. I am so grateful for all the lessons along the way, about patience, trust, forgiveness and being present in the moment. About the Law of Attraction- what we think about, we bring about, - or what we focus on, we get more of.

So it makes sense to look for the joy in every moment and to always remember that it's not what happens to us, but who we become because of those life experiences, that matters. As we overcome, we grow and become more of who we CAN be. It's not about getting to our destination, for that can change in an instant, it's about choosing to be happy and enjoy the journey. It's all a choice and that is always up to us. We have the option to blame others for our circumstances or take responsibility for our own lives, for once we do that, we can reclaim our power and change where we are, by how we look at it. Our attitudes are ours to choose and that is a very powerful thing to know.

 No-one can make us feel happy/sad/angry/lonely/or ecstatic, it comes from within. By making a decision about what we want our lives to be, through forgiveness of ourselves and others and by letting go of the past. When we are in the present moment we have the power to create our best future by every thought, word and deed we choose or don't choose. We create our own destiny!

 So today I'm thankful for all the sunny days and rainy ones too, for all the laughter and tears, for the flowers and birds, for our pets, for my absolutely wonderful and amazing family and friends who have always loved me through all my crazy and not so crazy days and nights, nurturing and supporting me. Even when I made huge mistakes they forgave me and allowed me to be myself and learn from those mistakes, so I could choose to do it better next time. And of course I'm most grateful for you guys, my FB friends who have allowed me this opportunity to ramble on for a whole year and never judged me or told me it was all a load of rubbish, even though you probably thought it on occasion! I don't think I've had one negative comment in a whole year, so that really IS something to be grateful for! So now, here is YOUR challenge... To start your own Gratitude Diary! You don't have to do it on FB if you don't want to, but just do it somewhere and watch your life change. Let me know if you're in!”

Well said Carol. While she does annoy me sometimes (she’s a woman after all) I’m grateful that she’s my wife.

Next week will be the first of a three part series of the simplest and most effective ways to fitness and heatlh.

Have a great day.



Great teachers inspire for life.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

I must admit there are times when I despair for Public education: - the recent announcement of huge funding cuts, witnessing a "lock down" in a local High school and standing in a stunning facility in a private school still under construction by the BER (while Public Schools got often inferior work and facilities) - were highlights - or lowlights of the past few months.

Fortunately, these negatives have been balanced by the brilliant teachers I've come in contact with over the same period. They are young and old, in Private and Public Schools, as well as working in health and fitness; - talented, passionate, hard working role models in places as far afield as Sydney, Bourke and the Central Coast, from Wilcannia to Warren, Baradine to Brewarrina and many other places beyond and in between.

I know we can all think of teachers that we didn't (or don't) like, but when we stop and think about it for a moment, it soon becomes clear just how much impact they have on our lives.

This week's iKiEnergiser Challenge has two parts. First, think of a teacher you didn't like. Not so hard, but here's the catch ;- what lesson do we remember them for? I can think of one particular teacher I thought very little of at the time, but whose wise words in just one class keep coming back to a good way.

Next, think of the teacher that you remember the best for being the best. What did he/she give you? Enthusiasm, love of a subject or sport, the realisation that you can do things or be someone you didn't think you could. So this week give a little thought to your teachers, and consider how important a good education system is.

Have a great week,

All the Best,



Peace of Mind. Every Single Day.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Firstly, my apologies for the two week break since the last blog,  and secondly thanks to those people who responded to the suggestion we find a way to encourage more people to talk publicly about how they manage and overcome depression. I've posted several of these and will discuss it further soon.

Today's blog addresses the issue obliquely;

It seems to be a part of human nature to continually strive to improve ourselves one way or another. Unfortunately for our peace of mind we are designed to rarely be satisfied for very long. I'm sure most of us have experienced the old pattern; the new couch soon needs a new coffee table, which needs a newly decorated room...soon we're talking a whole new house...

So much so, that the whole focus of sections of our communities and government is to foster continuous growth. Without it we face recession or depression with the resultant job loss and pain.... 

Fortunately, as we know, there are other ways to satisfy our yearning for improvement that don't require continuous "consumption" of services and products ---art, sport, education,music, hobbies and all sorts of personal growth strategies.

Just to throw something a little different into the mix, I'm launching a little project right here, right now. It's totally free and goes like this. Each week I'll send a Power Word, a short explanation of how to use it and encourage you to do something about it that day. It really works for me, (when I do it) and can be fun for all the family. Seriously. And it costs nothing but a little thought.

This weeks' word is "Communicate". I've always believed that half of the worlds' problems would just go away if we made more effort to talk calmly, clearly and thoughtfully. Today, communicate clearly to someone. Tell them something that's been on your mind or that will help them in some way. Before you do, be sure to think clearly  about the outcome. If the result will be good, do it.

Did I mention it starts with a song? This song has lots of Power Words and it's free. It's called Every Single Day