The haunting story of a dying girl who leaves a drawing of a sandpiper for the grouchy man she has befriended on the beach has touched the lives of many people. The story has been attributed to no less than three persons: Ruth Patterson, Ruth Peterson and Robert Peterson. But the real author is Mary Herman Hilbert; the full-length of Hilbert’s story appeared in 1978 in a periodical produced by a religious order in Canada and was subsequently published in condensed form in Reader’s Digest in 1980.

We can learn two lessons from the story. First, it teaches us not to let our own grief and suffering blind us to the travails of others. Second, it advises us that even in the face of unfolding personal tragedy, we should strive for all the “happy days’ we can, like the six-year-old girl in the story.

The story 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.

The shadow of your smile

When you are gone

Will follow all my dreams

And light the dawn …

The Sandpiper

By Mary Sherman Hilbert

S he 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.

Six-year-old girl on the beach

“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 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.

A sandpiper

“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 glistening 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.

“Peter,” I answered. “I’m Ruth 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, Mrs. P,” she called. “We’ll have another happy day.”

The days and weeks that followed belong to others: a group of unruly Boy Scouts, PTA meetings, and 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. I had forgotten the child and was startled when she appeared.

“Hello, Mrs. 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 seems 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, and yesterday and the day before and-oh, go away!”

“Did it hurt? ”

“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 Ruth Peterson. I missed your little girl today and wondered where she was.”

“Oh yes, Mrs. Peterson, please come in” “Wendy talked 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 it.

“Where is she?”

“Wendy died last week, Mrs. Peterson. She had leukemia. Maybe she didn’t tell you.”

Struck dumb, I groped for a chair. My breath caught.

“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, anything, to say to this lovely young woman. She handed me a smeared envelope, with MRS. 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.

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 sorry, I’m so sorry, ” I muttered 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, undemanding love. A gift from a child with sea-blue eyes and hair the color sand— who taught me the gift of love.

“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.

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

Everything that happens to us happens for a reason.

Never brush aside anyone as insignificant.

Who knows what they can teach us?



Congratulations to my niece Michelle and her hubby Hui Seng on the birth of their daughter Abigail today. Of all the blessings God sends from above, the most precious is a new baby to love. Abigail will truly be a bundle of joy for you both.

Cherish This Time (By Joanna Fuchs)

So your baby is here!
What joy and what pleasure!
Now your life is expanding,
To make room for this treasure.

A darling newcomer
To have and to hold–
Her smiles are more precious
Than silver or gold.

She’ll demolish your schedule
Though she’s helpless and small;
She’ll make her needs known,
And she’ll rule over all.

See, a new parent’s work
Is just never quite done,
But you’ll never mind,
‘Cause it’s all so much fun.

When you hear her cute giggle
You’ll start “aahing” and “oohing,”
And she’ll soon reply back
By “ga ga” and “goo gooing.”

Those big innocent eyes
See a world strange and new;
To make sense of it all
She’ll look only to you.

So cherish this time
Of miraculous things–
The excitement and wonder
That a new baby brings.

Congratulations also go to my sister and my brother-in-law……you two have a new granddaughter to brighten up your days even more! The birth of a new granddaughter is a reminder of just how wonderful life really can be.

Abigail Lau

I know Christmas is more than seven months away but I would like to dedicate the song “When A Child Is Born” to my niece and her hubby. Today marks the beginning of your journey as parents. I have no doubts that Abigail will bring lots of joy and happiness into your life.

When A Child Is Born

A ray of hope flickers in the sky

A tiny star lights up way up high
All across the land, dawns a brand new morn
This comes to pass when a child is born

A silent wish sails the seven seas
The winds of change whisper in the trees
And the walls of doubt crumble, tossed and torn
This comes to pass when a child is born

A rosy hue settles all around
You’ve got the feel you’re on solid ground
For a spell or two, no-one seems forlorn
This comes to pass when a child is born

And all of this happens because the world is waiting
Waiting for one child
Black, white, yellow, no-one knows
But a child that will grow up and turn tears to laughter
Hate to love, war to peace and everyone to everyone’s neighbour
And misery and suffering will be words to be forgotten, forever

It’s all a dream, an illusion now
It must come true, sometime soon somehow
All across the land, dawns a brand new morn
This comes to pass when a child is born

Sit back, relax and enjoy Connie Talbot’s rendition of “When A Child Is Born”.


2010 is here!  A very very happy new year to everyone!


In this new year, may God grant you…..

12 months of happiness

52 weeks of fun

365 days of success

8,760 hours of good health

525,600 minutes of blessings

31,536,000 seconds of joy


“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.”

~ Norman Vincent Peale

It is Christmas and I wish all of you a very blessed and happy Christmas and may 2010 bring you an abundance of joy, love and peace.

May Your Christmas Be As Lovely As This Baby Santa!

May Your Christmas Be As Lovely As This Baby Santa!

Christmas is about giving. If there is no joyous way to give a festive gift, give love away.

Christmas gift suggestions:

To your enemy, forgiveness.

To an opponent, tolerance.

To a friend, your heart.

To a customer, service.

To all, charity.

To every child, a good example.

To yourself, respect.

~ Oren Arnold

Keep this in mind:

“The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree:the presence of a happy  family all wrapped up in each other.”

~ Burton Hillis

Have a fun-filled happy Christmas……….ho ho ho!

If you do not see Santa Claus this Christmas, maybe this is the reason why.

If you do not see Santa Claus this Christmas, maybe this is the reason why.


I am an artist at living-my work of art is my life (Suzuki).

Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens (Carl Jung).

I recently read “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari” by Robin. S. Sharma.  What a great read! It is a tale about fulfilling your dreams and reaching your destiny. It is about an approach to living a simple life with greater balance, courage, strength and abundance of joy.

The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin S. Sharma

The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin S. Sharma

Robin S. Sharma

Robin S. Sharma

It is the story of Julian Mantle, a high-flying lawyer who collapsed one day in the courtroom from a heart attack. Julian had toiled day and night for years without heeding his mental and physical health. That catapulted him into a very rich and successful lawyer. He was in fact the epitome of success. The heart attack was his wake-up call. He came face to face with a spiritual crisis and decided to sell all his property ( of course his Ferrari too) and embarked on a life-changing odyssey to India.  His journey totally transformed him into a healthy man with physical vitality and spiritual strength.

The  tale contains the seven virtues for enlightened living and a wealth of  spiritual gifts.  You will learn mind mastery techniques such as “the heart of the rose” , “opposition thinking” and “the secret of the lake”.  You will also learn self-leadership techniques like “do the things you fear” and “the 5 step method for attaining goals”. The value of self-discipline, willpower, time management and setting priorities are extolled  in techniques like “the ancient rule of 20″ and “the vow of silence”.

There are so many nuggets of wisdom throughout the book and some of these nuggets that strike a chord with me are:

  • Mental mastery comes through conditioning.
  • Dedicating yourself to transforming your inner world will quickly shift your life from the ordinary into the realm of the extraordinary.
  • By controlling the thoughts that you think and the way you respond to the events of your life, you begin to control your destiny. If you want to make improvements in your outer world, you must first start within and change the caliber of your thoughts.
  • If you want to change your life for the better, you must run your own race.  Don’t worry about what other people say about you.
  • The only limits on your life are those that you set yourself. Self-mastery is the DNA of life mastery.
  • Set clearly defined personal, professional and spiritual goals and then have the courage to act on them.
  • When you venture out of your comfort zone and explore the unknown, you start to liberate your true human potential.
  • Fear is our own creation. When fear rears its ugly head, quickly beat it down. And the best way to achieve this is to do the thing you fear.
  • Don’t race against others. Race against yourself.
  • Do the things you know you should be doing instead of walking the path of least resistance.
  • Develop a deathbed mentality. What would you do if today is your last day?
  • When you do things to improve the lives of others, you indirectly elevate your own life in the process. Always remember the Chinese proverb “A little fragrance always clings to the hand that gives you roses“.
  • Happiness is a journey, not a destination. Never put off happiness for the sake of achievement. A truly joyful and rewarding life comes only through a process called “living in the now”.
  • There are no mistakes in life, only lessons. From struggle comes strength. Pain can be a wonderful teacher and is often the precursor to personal growth. To transcend pain, you must first experience it.

Go read the book in its entirety. Then re-read it over and over so that the principles will stick in your mind. Retaining the gist of the book in your mind is made so much easier because of the the way the tale is narrated. You will not forget the seven virtues of enlightened living if you just visualise the mystical fable mentioned in the book and remember the significance of the seven symbols: the magnificient garden ( your mind), the towering lighthouse (your life purpose), the sumo wrestler (kaizen), the pink wire cable (discipline), the gold stopwatch (time),the fragrant roses (serving others) and the diamond path (embracing the present).

May you discover the new  you and may you live a life that soars!

We don’t laugh because we are happy. We are happy because we laugh (William James).