Check Yourself

Almost the end of October! My, how time flies!

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Everyone knows that.

And everyone knows someone who has battled this terrible disease. Some have lost the battle but many have won.

I recently attended an American Association of Malaysia benefit for this cause. One of the things I learned was not just that one in eight women will be stricken with it. But that many more women are living with breast cancer today than dying from it.

Because of early detection. Get your mammograms. Check yourself.

For you hipsters with iPhones there is even an app. Check it out. And check yourself.

It matters. You matter.

Not Them But Us

Was looking at Facebook the other day and my old parish in Texas had posted a newspaper article about helping others. It was about the Ebola virus. What grabbed my attention was not the illness but the quote from Bishop Farrell.

“We help people because we’re Catholic, not because they’re Catholic.”  He continued,“It is an example of what it means to care for our brothers and sisters .. irrespective of where they come from, what race or what religion they were.”

They provided a comfortable place for a family to live while waiting to see if they had contracted the Ebola virus.

I really thought about this. Not just because caring for others is one of the seven themes of Catholic social teaching.

But because as humans (not Catholics, Muslims, Jews, etc.) we need to see more of this. We do because of who we are not who they are.

I have heard loads of comments (first hand and second hand) about the people I help.

“Oh, you’re helping the Muslims.” And not in a good way or tone.

“You know what those people do to Christians?” Not in a good way or tone.

And on and on…..

Charity begins at home. And then community. And that community might share your religion. But it might not.

One thing I learned as a little kid was that you have an obligation to help the poor. Might be filling a purple cardboard box with pennies for Lent when you are six years old.

No one ever said that they were Catholics. Or even Christians. We just knew that they were poor.

I hope that if you are reading this, no matter what your religion or even if you have no religion, that you don’t give a darn what religion a person is that you are helping. Might take a bit of introspection. But I hope that you really do look inward.

Because if you don’t then I worry. Not about you but about the entire human race.

We don’t just help our own. We are our own.

Always Remembered

I know! I haven’t posted in a while!

Just crazy busy with so many things.  And I just haven’t had time to sit down and have at it.

But I did want to share this.

My husband was ill last week. I was spoon-feeding him cough medicine with the warning, “I am metrically challenged. Hope I did conversion correctly. If not, know that I loved you so very, very much. And thank you for the kids.”

After he swallowed two spoonfuls I asked him, “How did it taste?”

He responded, “Not bad.”

And then he said, “Whenever my father gave me any medicine he always tasted it first before giving it to me.”

I was like, “Awwwwww…..”

A wonderful reminder. We need to remember that everything we do (good or bad) will be remembered for a lifetime in our children. And others.

Makes you really think.







Giving Gifts

There was a young Syrian refugee woman living here in Malaysia. She and her husband were living with his brother and sister-in-law and their two kids. They decided to leave the country for a better life. Because they soon discovered that Malaysia was not going to be the land of opportunity for them. And they were expecting a baby. Had plans to eventually get to Germany via Georgia.

I was happy for them. Although a bit skeptical since they were doing this on their own. But waiting for a relocation through the UNHCR would take years and they did not want to wait. And I don’t blame them one bit.

I wished them well. Then immediately thought that the furniture we (group of volunteers) had found for them a few months prior could go to another refugee family in the area. A beautiful changing table, crib, etc. There is always a new baby being born to the many refugee families here. And I knew that if they were fleeing the country they would not be taking any furniture with them.

I told her sister-in-law that we would gladly take what was left behind and give to another expectant mother in the refugee community. I am all about the reuse, recycle and renew!

She told me that there wasn’t much left in the house. They had sold everything to raise money for their tickets.

At first, I was like, “Wow.” And to be quite honest I felt a little disappointed.

I told my husband.

He said, “Mary, when you give you give. With no strings attached and no expectations.”

I thought that I already was that person. But for some reason I thought this situation was different. Wouldn’t everyone want to pass along the things they couldn’t use to someone else in need?

I thought like this because I was thinking about my next step. And not theirs. Or thinking about their new needs.

They needed the money to survive their next journey to a better place for the family. Because that’s what survivors do.

My husband is absolutely right. No matter what the gift, if it is truly a gift, there should be no expectations.

I’m almost fifty years old and I am still learning and growing. Every day.


Note: The family is still in the country of Georgia. They had a beautiful and healthy baby girl. Unfortunately, it has been many months and they have not reached their intended destination. They do not like the country and I am not sure if they will make a go of it there. But they are surviving.









Everyone’s always taking photos these days. It’s great. Most of the time.

I take loads. Tons. Mostly because I don’t have my glasses on at the time and end up deleting 75% of them later. Always hoping some actually make the cut.

But there are some photos that are just not worth taking. 

Like when someone crosses over a safety barrier to take a photo by the edge of a cliff.

I read this past week about the Polish couple that plunged to their death from a cliff. In front of their two very young children. It happened in Portugal. Some of the news reports claimed they were taking a “selfie.” I do not know if that is true because I have also read that the children were given the camera to take the photo. 

The fact is that there was a safety barrier that they hopped over to get to the edge of the cliff.

And now their two little children have a picture in the head for the rest of their lives. That they will never be able to delete. 

Reminds me of a recent trip this past summer to the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare, Ireland. I was with Annie and two of my cousins. So beautiful but always gets me nervous and thinking. I told Annie (15) beforehand that we were to stay on the path. 


There were safety barriers in some of the areas. But there were a few folks from Australia (and possibly other places) who hopped over the barrier so they could get some photos. They weren’t exactly on the edge but on a mound of dirt/grass. The problem is that one wrong move or stumble could send someone down the hill and then off the cliff. 


The photos they were taking were ones with their hands raised in the air like they were falling. Just trying to go for the funny shot with the craggy cliffs and wild ocean in background. There wasn’t anything funny about it. 

My cousin was beside herself and didn’t care who heard her. She was like, “Are they insane?” 

A fellow (friend of the one who was having his photo taken) heard her and said, “He’s absolutely mad.”

The thing of it is this. We all would have felt terrible if the man slipped and fell. The value of life and our fellow human beings and all that.

But we also would have a horrible image in our head for the rest of our lives. Totally not cool. That is what my cousin was upset about this day.

Many people already have pictures that cannot be erased. They don’t need others, who are unnecessarily taking risks, to add more to their mental gallery.

I arrived back in Malaysia the beginning of August. One evening I was driving back home from the city of Kuala Lumpur and realized that I had forgotten (after being in United States and Ireland) what a menace the motorbikes are here. They dart in and out of traffic and they are everywhere! So scary. I am always afraid I will hit one of them.

This particular night I hear the roar of three bikes together passing me on my right. On the highway and going very fast. Three pals from the look of it. 

One was driving his motorcycle on his stomach! Totally prone. I couldn’t believe it. Then the two guys on another bike behind him are taking pictures of him on a mobile phone! Not the driver but the passenger. But still! And the third motorcyclist was just supporting them with laughter.

I found out at lunch yesterday that this was called “planking.” Oh my gosh. I learn something new every day. I was also told that the fellow who had the phone was probably filming it. And making a video.

All I could think of that evening was, “Please God, don’t let them fall and make me run over them on this highway” and “Please don’t let them crash and make me witness it.”  

There really are some photos that are just not worth it. 

No Gauging

What’s wrong with this photo? Besides the fact that I still continue to wear makeup and foundation while nearly sitting on the equator. I should just use house paint to color my face for a more permanent solution but I am afraid that would also drip down my face before it totally dried.


Half empty? Half full? I don’t have a clue.

The problem with this bottle (turned sideways so I am not promoting nor pushing any particular brand on you) is that I have no idea when it will run out. I can’t even pull off the top portion and have a peek. So, every day it is a game of beauty Russian roulette.

Why do they do this?

I know I could (and should) have another bottle waiting in the wings. But still.

Here’s another example. In Malaysia, we have big gas canisters that connect to your kitchen stove. Mine is actually in the house tucked under a cabinet next to the stove. Not a big fan of having it in the house. And getting whiffs of gas.

Or your outside BBQ grill. Tank is too big to fit under your USA grill and stay hidden. So you have this big, ugly tank hooked up to the outside of the grill. I think it’s the Libra in me. It looks out-of-place and is not pleasing to my eye.


Aesthetics aside, there is NO gauge on any of the gas tanks. It runs out when it runs out. Sure, I could put my back out and try to pick it up and find out if it feels “empty”.

Again, I always need to have a back up. But who wants a bunch of canisters filled with gas hanging around their house? But if you don’t? Then you could be in the middle of a saute and the burner fizzles out. It’s happened to many people.

Is it just me?

Is it a metaphor? Of life? We just don’t know when we will “run out” and we should keep on hoping that there’s still some left?

I feel terrible kvetching about such small things. But not really. It’s not always the big things that  make us nuts.


I think we would all prefer this. Knowing how much is left. Allows us to do a little planning.




What Is Wrong?

I have enjoyed my summer. Make no mistake about that. But I also realize I am one of the fortunate ones. Not all have had this luxury.

That is not to say I am not thinking about Syria and the atrocities committed there every single day. I have enough direct family connections enough to feel the pain on a daily basis.

A lot of my free time here in Malaysia consists of helping refugees from that part of the world. It’s not all lunching with the ladies. It’s not always all about me.

Most of these refugees are a result of the Syrian conflict. Mostly Syrians, Iraqis and Palestinians. Some displaced two or three times in their lives.

We now have the battle of Gaza. Yes, it could be one of my “blue-eyed” children visiting there that gets caught in the crossfire.

But there are many children that are not visiting and actually live there.

I had a Facebook friend who actually referred to those innocents as collateral damage.

Okay, I hardly ever swear. You can review my posts as proof. And only my closest friends have heard me utter profanity.

I say, “Two words!”

It’s the same people who value human life that are willing to give up those “others” for the greater cause.

Again I say, “Two words!”

I don’t think every Israeli soldier or Israeli person is bad. Nor do I think every American soldier or American citizen is bad. Or British soldier or citizen. Or Palestinian.

But the governments? I have issues with every single one.

I just read a book that mentioned how groups of people who sleep together end up breathing in sync during the night-time hours. Maybe similar to women in close quarters cycling monthly together.

Because our bodies know we are all the same.  It’s our stupid ass minds that forget this.

Now I am back in Malaysia and find out this evening, at a neighbor’s house , that one of the “new” families that we would be welcoming (I am on the welcoming committee) has been killed in the latest Malaysian Airline crash. Downed by some folks who do not value life.

And leave the bodies and belongings to be looted and fester in the sun.

This is the note from the school.

This weekend it was confirmed that a new ISKL family was aboard Malaysian Airlines Flight 17. Returning to their home country of Malaysia after having lived in Kazakhstan, the Tambi Jiee family of six lost their lives in the crash. A son, Afzal Tambi, was going to be a grade 12 student at ISKL beginning in August.

At Afzal’s previous school in Atyrau, Kazakhstan, Afzal was the President of the Environmental Club, the editor of the yearbook, a member of the Student Council, and a member of the Java Programming Club. He was described as respectful, responsible, and one who would make a positive contribution to his next school. He sounds like a delightful young man whose life, along with his parents and three other siblings, were all tragically cut short.

Our sincerest condolences are extended to their family and friends.



Oh God, I am angry. So angry.

When I was a little girl I believed that if I was good and prayed for the rest of the world that it could make some difference.

Oh God, I am angry. So angry.



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