All Different

I was at lunch the other day with a friend. We were discussing many things but one topic that came up was how we are all so different. What is pleasing to one person might not be pleasing to the next person. I was talking about the resale shop I had worked in for the last two months as a prime example. You never know what will appeal to a person. And the saying, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” is definitely true.

Then we moved on to gift giving. And how you need to do it with no strings attached.

In that same vein we also discussed accepting the fact that the recipient might not like the actual gift. Back to the no strings business.

How many times have we given someone a thoughtfully chosen present? And then we never see them use, display or appreciate it? And we get a little miffed?

There is a reason for this. They probably didn’t like it. Or need it. Or it didn’t suit them. Or some other reason.

Maybe it wasn’t as thoughtfully chosen as we like to think. Sometimes we choose gifts based on what we think others need, like, or want. And sometimes we are dead wrong.

I can think of plenty of gifts I/we have given to folks in the past only for them to sit unused and collecting dust.

So, another lesson in the life book for me.

Be truly thoughtful when giving gifts. It should be about them and not about us. And when we are truly thoughtful and they still don’t like the gift then accept that. I am sure they appreciate the present. They just might not like it. And that’s okay.

We are all unique and our likes are quite varied. Clothing designers are in business because they know this.

I thought back to my recent birthday. A few of my friends gave me a beautiful red lacquered Chinese box.

Afterwards, I remembered a conversation that one of those friends and I had about Chinese furniture. She mentioned that she wasn’t a big fan of all the lacquer. I said that I had never gone in big for it in the past but that it started to grow on me and I now really like it.

When it was time to shop she chose a present that she knew I would like. Not what she liked or she thought I should have.

It shouldn’t be about us.




It’s Christmas time again. Not sure how that happened. I mean, like I had a 364 day heads up to start preparing. And I did nothing with it. At all.

I am now 50. Yeah, that just happened. I had quite a bit of notice on that one also. But I do feel like I have done something with it. I’m not done, of course, but I’m in a good place.

Yes, I have wrinkles, spots, stretch marks and a few extra pounds. And all of these things tell my unique story. So they can stay. Ok, except for those stubborn pounds. Maybe I will work on those guys. One of these days.

This is not what bothers me about being fifty. What bothers me is not that I have aged. It is the fact that others have.

I see my contemporaries losing their parents. Every time I hear of someone losing a parent my heart really, really breaks for them.

See, I am blessed. I still share the same earth as my parents. And the truth is that I cannot imagine a world without them in it. Might sound a tad unrealistic. But it is the absolute truth. Because I think they are the best. They are my “go to” people.

I really don’t want a thing for Christmas. Because I already know that I have been given and continue to enjoy one of the greatest gifts.

My parents.

Thank you, Patrick and Eileen, for being the best parents for me. You know how much I love you. But you’ll never really know.

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all those who celebrate! And for those that don’t I hope that you still find a way to incorporate some form of thankfulness into your day.

I woke up this morning, prepared my cup of coffee, opened the fridge and found that there was NO MILK! How does that happen????

First feeling?

Utter annoyance. And I’ll be honest. Sort of bordering on anger. I was looking to blame the last milk drinker. Or the one who should have put it on the shopping list.

This is my routine! How I start my day! Get my engines running!

Then I said, “Oh Mary, you’ll just have to take it black.”

Umm, because that was my only choice? It was that or no coffee at all. I decided to have the coffee. In its oh-so imperfect state.

Many people feel that they don’t have a choice when they wake up in the morning. Their routine is disrupted. Life has turned their world upside down. It could be that a loved one is battling an illness. Or war has caused them to flee their home. Or they’re starving. Or they have lost a family member. Or suffered indignities and maybe even death fueled by racism, sexism and any other ism.

So I actually thought, “Mary, it’s just a cup of coffee.” I then shrugged off any residual annoyance I might have been feeling. And was thankful for a cup of coffee.

Sometimes we have to take it black. Because if we don’t then that means no coffee at all.

It’s not our usual. And we might not even like it at all. Might even hate it. But there just might be some healing power in our adjustments to life’s disruptions. Big and small. We cannot escape life’s curve balls but we can choose hope over despair. And choose how we deal with the blows.

I’m now going to get my second black coffee. Because the lure of what could be is still somewhere in that cup. And I do want some of that. Even if it’s different from yesterday.

My thoughts and prayers today are for those who are struggling with life’s challenges.  May miracles abound, your worries cease and your cup runneth over.

I wish you and your families many days of Thanksgiving.



Note: I am fully aware of what is going on in my home country at the moment. That’s another posting. So my unintentional phrasing might seem a bit ironic. But I see that the parallels are there. There are a lot of folks who have had to “take it black” their entire lives. Just because they are black. I hope for peaceful solutions that will someday ensure justice and equality for all.  There’s no shame in being angry. Hopefully, that anger can be channeled into a positive and peaceful force for a marginalized people. 






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.










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