Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Sandpiper

Every now and then I get a forward with a great message emailed to me. This one I received from my mom and I just had to share it's beautiful message.

The Sandpiper
By Robert Peterson

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. Mommy 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 realizing that I meant what I had just said.

"Wendy died last week, Mr. Peterson. She had leukemia. 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:


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 color of sand -- who taught me the gift of love.

NOTE: This is a true story sent out by Robert Peterson. It happened over 20 years ago and the incident changed his life forever. It serves as a reminder to all of us that we need to take time to enjoy living and life and each other. The price of hating other human beings is loving oneself less.

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.

Everything that happens to us happens for a reason. Never brush aside anyone as insignificant. Who knows what they can teach us?

This comes from someone's heart, and is read by many and now I share it with you...

I wish for you, a sandpiper.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Martin Luther King teaches all AGAPE

It's more than just a Monday. It's a special day for everyone, for it's the day dedicated to a man that altered the course of our history -- Martin Luther King Jr.

Many times, King is exclusively known for his "I Have a Dream" speech, however, there's more to him than just those words. He created change through his life's dedication to the Civil Rights Movement, his talent for speaking on the power of love and his idea for nonviolent resistance that ultimately became the effective weapon against the social ills of the early 1960's.

To honor him in my own way, I looked back on a speech I first read in 10th grade from Dr. King called "Loving Your Enemies." King's thought-provoking words encourage me to examine my own life and inspire me to strive for AGAPE -- the ultimate form of love. I highly suggest you read it -- you cannot read it and be left unmoved. I get chills reading it, and I can't even begin to imagine what it was like to hear him preach it in person at a Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama in 1957.

April of this year will mark the 40th anniversary of the death of MLK. Hopefully on that day we can look back and see the progress our society has made since his time -- and although we still have a ways to go, we're getting there. So for today, let's honor a man who worked tirelessly to advance our country and consider his thoughts as if he were alive today.

"Love is the only way." -- MLK

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The most wonderful time of the year: Girl Scout Cookies!

It's my favorite time of year: Girl Scout cookie season. A time when a plethora of cutie-patooties bombard us with their puppy dog eyes asking us to help them go to camp or earn funds for craft supplies by buying their cookies.

After growing in curiosity with where exactly my funds were going when I succumb to buying the fatty things, I came across a Girl Scout Cookies MySpace page. It's there where I gathered the 4-1-1 on Girl Scout Cookies.

Here are some interesting facts I came across:
  • Girl Scout Cookies do not contain preservatives; they are all made with pure vegetable shortening, are all kosher, and all freeze well to extend their shelf life.
  • All of the girls pictured on the cookie boxes are registered Girl Scouts; every box shows Girl Scouts in action, having fun and growing strong!
  • All Girl Scout cookies are now zero trans fat per serving, with the same great taste that has made them one of America's favorite treats over the years.
  • Girl Scouts of the USA approves and licenses two bakers, Little Brownie Bakers and ABC/Interbake Foods; the bakers employ American labor union members, using American-grown agricultural products and American-made packaging materials.
  • Licensed bakers offer up to eight varieties of Girl Scout Cookies every year; only three types are mandatory: Thin Mints, Peanut Butter Sandwich/Do-si-dos™ and Shortbread/Trefoils.
  • For more than 80 years, this annual cookie sale has helped Brownie and Junior Girl Scouts and Girl Scouts (ages 11-17) have fun, develop valuable life skills and make the world a better place by helping to support Girl Scouting in their communities.
  • The best selling cookie are Thin Mints.

Every day, Girl Scouts are working to create a positive change in their communities. From writing and producing a documentary on eating disorders to creating a physical education curriculum for students with multi-disabilities, Girl Scouts should be getting attention not only for their delicious cookies, but for their outstanding service.

Girl Scouts, please continue to ask me to purchase them from you... and give me your Samoa's, your Peanut Butter Patties and how about those Thin Mints? Ohhhh baby. At only $3.50 a box and for a good cause, I can't resist!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Name the newest addition to the Detroit Zoo!


ROYAL OAK: Help Detroit Zoo name its baby zebra
January 18, 2008
The zoo wants help naming its new baby.

The zebra, a 75-pound foal, is the daughter of 15-year-old Elvira and 6-year-old ZZ.

To submit a name, go to the zoo's Web site,, by Feb. 8. Zoo officials will select the top five names and post them on the Web site for a public vote.
The most popular name will be announced in late February.

...I'm brainstorming!!!!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

It's official! I'm a donor

I got my organ donor sticker in the mail the other day and thought I would share. It came faster than I thought and it was so easy! There's no excuses to not sign up. Again, the website to visit is:

Also, here's some answers to questions you may have (taken from the site):

Why is it important to register my wish to become a donor?
Upon every hospital death, Gift of Life Michigan is notified. Having your donor registry form on file helps to ensure that your decision to become a donor is carried out. Even when you sign the donor registry it is ESSENTIAL THAT YOUR FAMILY KNOWS your wishes.
Will doctors work as hard to save my life if they know I am an organ, tissue and eye donor?
Yes. Every effort is made to save your life before donation is considered. By law, the medical team treating you must be seperate from the transplant team.
Are there any costs to my family?
No. It costs nothing to donate organs or tissues, and no costs associated with the donation are passed on to the donor's family or estate.
Can normal funeral arrangements be made?
Yes. Donation does not interfere with having a funeral, including open casket services.
Will my religion approve of donation?
Most major religions approve of organ, tissue and eye donation, and consider donation one of the highest acts of compassion and generosity. For a list of specific religious organizations and their positions on donation, click here.

I hope you sign up today.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Fun gifts for those you LOVE <3

Just for fun I've compiled a list of my top five favorites gifts this year for Valentine's Day (just a month away...) or any special day for your special someone. With a little help from, here they are:

1. Photo-Opoly. Personal Monopoly with 22 of your favorite photos -- perfect for friends or significant others.

2. A fave gift for the music lover: recycled CD's for coasters. Buy your own scratched up ones at local pawn shops, or visit this artist's Web site to purchase ($17.99 for 6). Just pray you don't wind up with some artist you dislike!

3. What better way to light the fire than with a personalized novel starring you and your significant other? Think "Choose Your Own Adventure," adult style. Hot.
4. On a similar personal note, another fun way to incorporate a slice of you and your friend/sig other into your gift is having a personalized comic drawn for you from artist Mark Weber who draws for The New York Times, The Village Voice, Rolling Stone and Playboy. They're expensive, but awesome!!!

And my favorite...

5. For all the shoe lovers out there... how about about a pair of personalized Nike's? Not only do you get to pick the colors you want, but you also can personalize it with your Nike "iD." How would Metrogal 84 look on a pair of Nike's? I personally think it'd be pretty rockin'. Check out my design image above, lovingly called Luckies 2.0.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Sunday Song: Dancing Nancies

My Sunday song of the day is "Dancing Nancies" by Dave Matthews Band. Download it or watch the YouTube vid and think about the lyrics. It's funny how life just plays out at its own pace... I just love the mysterious qualities of Dave's lyrics and how he interprets things in such a poetic way.

Don't you ever wonder
Maybe if things had been slightly different
You could be somebody else?

Don't you wonder
Maybe if you took a left turn
Instead of taking a right
You could be somebody different?

Don't you ever wonder?

Could I have been
A parking lot attendant?

Could I have been
A millionaire in Bel Air?

Could I have been
Your little brother?

Could I have been
Anyone other than me?

He stands, touch his hair, his shoes untied
Tongue gaping stare

Could I have been a magnet for money?
Could I have been anyone other than me?

Twenty-three and so tired of life
Such a shame to throw it all away
The images grow darker still
Could I have been anyone other than me?

Then I look up at the sky
My mouth is open wide, lick and taste
What's the use in worrying? What's the use in hurrying?

Turn, turn we almost become dizzy
I am who I am, who I am well, who am I?
Requesting some enlightenment

Could I have been anyone other than me?

And then I'll Sing and dance, I'll play for you tonight
And thrill at it all
Dark clouds may hang on me sometimes, but I'll work it out

Then I Look up at the sky
My mouth is open wide, lick and taste
What's the use in worrying? What's the use in hurrying?

Turn, turn we almost become dizzy

Falling out of a world of lies
Could I have been dancing Nancy?
Could I have been anyone other than me?

Monday, January 7, 2008

Soul fire for the day

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
- Marianne Williamson -

Click to donate organs: Sign up at Gift of Life Michigan

Here's something I came across during my daily news scanning awhile back that I've been meaning to post. It's an editorial from the executive director of the Gift of Life Michigan addressed to all Michiganians.

"As we celebrate the holidays, please consider making the commitment to give the gift of life.

For those waiting for an organ transplant, the gift of life provides the chance for some to see their children grow up, the chance for others to attend school, and for each transplant recipient the opportunity to once again dream of a future. Quite simply, transplantation restores life.

Your decision to become an organ and tissue donor can save or enhance the lives of up to 50 people.

Fortunately, it is now easier than ever to sign up on the Michigan Organ Donor Registry, especially since January this year, when Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land and her staff joined forces with Gift of Life Michigan. It takes only a minute to add your name to the Donor Registry when you visit You can also call (800) 482-4881 or visit a Secretary of State branch office.

When you sign up, be sure to have your Michigan driver's license or state ID number. Within 10 days, the Secretary of State will mail you a heart donor sticker to place on the front of your driver's license or state ID.

As the executive director at Gift of Life Michigan, I am privileged to see the miracle of life passed on to another and to experience the compassion of donor families who think about saving the lives of others while in the midst of their own grief. I'm inspired by donor family members who often share that their loss was eased by knowing others are alive today because of the organs and tissues donated by their loved one.

Organs such as lungs, hearts and livers save lives. Donated kidneys mean freedom from dialysis treatments. Bone and tissue transplants can restore movement to people with handicaps or crippling injuries, prevent amputation or literally bring sight to people who are blind.

Since 1993, there have been more than 15,000 organ and tissue donors in Michigan. Nearly half of the organ donors were living donors, sharing a kidney or portion of their lung or liver to help their child, spouse or sometimes even a complete stranger. Amazingly, this translated into 10,900 Michigan lives saved through the generous gift from each of these organ donors and many thousands more Michigan lives improved because of the gift of tissue."

Please take some time to sign up. It literally takes seconds, but could save several lives... and not only that, but you also get a cute heart on your license to boot! :)

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Kevin Connolly captures curious stares and glares in the form of art

Imagine what it's like to be born without legs. I know I personally can't even begin to imagine what that's like. How do you adapt to everyday life? Do you sit around and feel bad for yourself? Or, do you feel fortunate knowing that you get to see life from a unique perspective from the rest of us?

Each day, living without legs is a reality for Kevin Connolly, a handsome 22-year-old who lives in Montana. He's never known any different, however, he wouldn't have it any other way.

As a student at University of Montana, he has been blessed to do many things people with legs do not even attempt -- climb mountains and win the skiing competition in the X-Games with a specially created rig. Through his winnings from the X-Games, he has even been able to study abroad and go to 15 different countries. Throughout his travels, he has documented the stares and glares he received and posted them to his website, (go and make sure to read the Artist Statement).

One of the most interesting parts of his travels is how he has been received by people of different nationalities and backgrounds... For example, in Romania, they assumed he was a gypsy. In the Ukraine, they thought he was a beggar and would stuff money in his pockets. He also has been assumed to be a carnival attraction and on our own U.S. turf -- one lady even asked if he was an Iraq War veteran.

I encourage you all to read the full story of Kevin here. Also, watch for the re-airing of his story, which debuted on ABC's 20/20 last night.

Kevin is living proof that you must learn to handle the cards your dealt. The only thing is, he capitalizes on it. He is a true hero. Thanks for sharing your story with the world, Kevin.

Photo to the left: an example of Kevin's work.
A woman in LA stares down at Kevin. As he "rolls" by, he captures her curiosity on his camera.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Ain't no mountain too high even for a small fry

So kids, such as Keats (read above letter) have big dreams. What of it? That doesn't mean they can't reach the sky (literally) and achieve their goals simply because they are too young.

I was able to learn about Keats' big aspiration on CBS' Evening News tonight and thought I would share. It was part of the "Assignment America" series which chronicles interesting little tales happening in our nation.

I couldn't help but tear up out of joy while hearing this 7-year-old boy talk about how he wants to be the youngest ever to climb Tanzania's Mount Kilimanjaro and is even going to such lengths as learning the language of Swahili and raising money to take on his trip to donate to two African-based non-profits.

I had a few thoughts while watching the segment tonight:

1. One day when my kid says "I'm going to climb a mountain," I hope I can say "What day are you planning on doing that?" And really mean it -- just like Keat's parents did.
2. I really do believe in the youth of America. Despite the daily celeb trash occurring and the current lack of imaginative toys, I think everything will turn out OK when the millennials and "generation now" take over.
3. He's 7. What is he going to accomplish when he's 27? Watch out.

Here's the link to his site where you can get inspired and learn more about his adventure:

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Hunting 101: Learn to Appreciate the Meaning Behind the Kill

I grew up in a family of outdoorsman that live for hunting -- whether its bow or rifle season or a perfect summer morning fit for bass fishing.

For the longest time, I never understood the principle behind it all. As a pro-animal rights lover, I always thought, "Why hurt Bambi and his cute family?"

Through the years, I've watched my dad and brothers pack up their camo and bright orange garb, freeze dried food and tents as they gear up to head north to the wilderness for one of their annual hunting trips during deer season.

"Why do you look forward to these trips so much?" I always used to think. "To go freeze in the cold, not shower for days on end and experience the 1800's by surviving without plumbing? No thanks. Not for me."

Regardless, they would always return from those trips with beards on their faces, stories to tell and bonds in their hearts -- whether there was a deer in tow or not. There was something about the nature in those woods that brought a peace to them that a suburban lifestyle just couldn’t bring.

As a young girl, I was absolutely mortified whenever my friends would come over and would see a dead deer being gutted in my garage. Oh, the nightmares that must have caused! However, looking back, I am grateful to have been exposed to the entire hunting process and through my observations (even the gruesome ones), I've begun to understand what draws people into the "sport."

I've learned hunting is all in what pair of eyes you choose to look at it with. Many people will be blind to the concept and will never give up their opposition to killing Bambi, or using guns at all, while others may choose to open their eyes and realize that destroying a deer’s reproductive abilities or relying soley on our cars for population control is really no less wasteful than just tossing fresh produce into a landfill (especially since the deer's meat will no longer be of use).

According to research, deer cause $250 million in landscaping damage and deer-related collisions injure 29,000 people and kill 1.5 million deer each year.

Nonetheless, deer should not be looked at as God's curse to man. They really are beautiful creatures that I believe have been put on this earth for many reasons -- one of them being food.

Speaking of deer as a source of food, right in line with the trend of low fat, natural and organic food -- venison tops the list in my mind as far as meat goes. It would be a great benefit to hunters everywhere if we were to simply re-label "deer meat" as free-range, grass-fed, organic, locally produced and harvested, sustainable, low-impact, humanely slaughtered meat. That way, perhaps people would continue to take their blinders off.

My inspiration for writing this entry came to me today when I came across an enlightening column, by one of my favorite local journalists --John Schneider of the Lansing State Journal. The story he uncovered focuses on a group who hunters who assist with local hunger issues... one more way to understand the "thrill of the hunt," all the while providing hungry and needy people with healthy sustenance.

Schneider: Sportsman aims to bring in more game for charity in '08

WILLIAMSTON, MI - There's no telling how many car wrecks it prevented, but there's no doubt the local Sportsmen Against Hunger campaign fed a lot of people.

The last of the various deer seasons - late archery and doe hunting on private land - ended Tuesday, and the numbers are in: Local hunters produced about 10,000 venison meals for the needy in this area.

That's a big leap from last year, when Thomas Cullimore of Williamston, the force behind the effort, delivered the meat from five deer - three of which he killed himself - plus half a moose to the Williamston Area Food Bank.

"I can't believe it," said the retired Cullimore, who, since early November, has logged countless hours on the meat wagon, schlepping carcasses donated by hunters to the processor, then retrieving boxes of 100-percent pure ground venison and delivering it to people who feed the local hungry.

And what did Cullimore get out of it?
One-hundred percent pure happiness.

"The joy I get out of doing this ...," he said. "I'm hooked."

Close to home Cullimore, a one-man distribution system, dispensed the venison burger - ideally suited to dishes like chili, spaghetti sauce and sloppy joes - to the Williamston and Haslett food banks, the Salvation Army, and St. Vincent DePaul.

He got a chance to talk to some of the folks who ate it, and the reviews were all positive.

Here's how Cullimore came up with the 10,000-meals figure: The average
deer, he found, yields 35 pounds of boneless venison - 140 quarter-pound meals.

Hunters donated 63 deer, which adds up to 8,820 servings. A 250-pound elk padded the yield.

Safari Club International, which sponsors similar programs in other areas, paid all the processing fees. Cullimore is a member of the board of Safari Club's Lansing chapter.

Cullimore, an avid hunter himself, lives on a 77-acre farm. Although his meat-distribution duties cut into his hunting time, he still managed this year to kill four deer, three of which he donated.

By the way, it's a sign of the time in Michigan that 10,000 donated venison meals weren't enough. "I was getting requests from other kitchens," Cullimore said.

Now, he's REALLY inspired. His goal for 2008: 200 deer. That adds up to ... lets' see ... about 28,000 healthy meals.

My moral from reading this article: Maybe I don't understand all aspects of hunting entirely, but I do respect my family members and I do understand and have a passion for quality food. In the future, if I ever go hungry, I know my family would be there for me and I wouldn't turn my nose up to any food -- even if it ends up being Bambi's daddy.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Childhood Poems; Here's A Thinker

Growing up, I was obsessed with Shel Silverstein poems. As Jason (my fiance) knows, I still enjoy reading them on occasion and have been know to "steal" my nephews books. I came across this touching poem (one of my favorites) and thought I'd post since it's align with my typical blogging topics. It really makes you think -- treat all people, young and old, with respect.

The Little Boy and the Old Man
Said the little boy, "Sometimes I drop my spoon."
Said the old man, "I do that too."
The little boy whispered, "I wet my pants."
"I do that too," laughed the little old man.
Said the little boy, "I often cry."
The old man nodded, "So do I."
"But worst of all," said the boy, "It seems grown-ups don't pay attention to me."
And he felt the warmth of a wrinkled old hand.
"I know what you mean," said the little old man.
- Shel Silverstein