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. 

M.

 

 

 

 

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.

http://www.upworthy.com/this-selfies-worth-taking-because-it-could-save-your-life-it-saved-hers?c=ufb1

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.

http://www.dallasnews.com/ebola/headlines/20141020-ebola-victim-s-fiancee-family-to-remain-at-catholic-diocese-conference-center-till-new-home-found.ece

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. 

moher1

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. 

moher2

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.

foundation

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.

gas

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.

moisturize

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

Right?

 

 

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