Happy International Women’s Day!

Happy International Women’s Day to all the women I know out there. I just took a jaunt through my Facebook photos…. of course after living 20+ years overseas, I’ve made an amazing amount of international women friends. I can name many girlfriends from each of the countries we’ve lives so far, so for this post I thought I reminisce about a few of the international women out there that I’ve met during my life as an expat….

First up, there’s El Salvador. Oh, Katia! She was the first El Salvadoran friend I met. She was so kind to me. I can’t even remember how I met her, but I know that she took me in as a friend even though I was not from her culture. Katia owned her own hair salon; this was back in 1997–in San Salvador! (It was a classy spot, and I can remember serving as a hair model for her. I did end up with very short, very red hair, but it grew out!!) I was proud of this woman who was able to maintain a successful business in a not always successful economy. To this day there’s something I’ve taken from Katia’s visits to my house. When she’d arrive, she’d always put her bag on a dining room chair. Once dinner was set on the table, I’d remove the purse and put it on the floor. Nonchalantly, and every single time, she’d lift the handbag and put it on the sofa, counter, anywhere off the floor. Out of curiosity, I finally asked her: Why do you always do that with your bag? She told me if you leave your purse, clutch, wallet, or whatever is holding your money on the ground, the money will go. She told me to start keeping my purse elevated and see. I did and it worked! Superstitions….this one I got from Katia. And if I ever have picked up your handbag to put it up above, now you know why! You don’t want your money to go!!

In Saudi Arabia, I met a very special colleague who actually became a librarian with me. Shannon was passionate as I was about children’s literacy. We would book talk one another up and down! In the end we decided to attend the two year librarian program at the University of Washington together. It was such fun! She was an excellent classmate. I can remember how appalled we both were at some of our peers. They’d show up to class in sweats; this never made sense to us. See, Shannon is one classy lady, both inside and out. I have a silver bangle that she gave me, and I never take it off my right wrist. I wear it as a reminder to always be classy–or try anyway. Shannon is one of those people who is both kind and beautiful; one look into her pretty blue eyes and you see it all.

In Venezuela, the entire family made a friend that would last forever: Mary Kelly. To me she was my girlfriend, to Kevin a colleague, and to the kids a tia–that means aunt in Spanish. As girlfriends Mary Kelly and I had many rituals: caf√©citos at Malabar, shopping excursions to all the different malls and markets, and trips to the beach with our family. For Kevin, Mary Kelly was an ideal teaching partner; matched with the same intense work ethic, these two made a great team. Tia Maisy, her third role for my family, has always been one she’s taken very seriously. MK is always there for my kiddos, always curious about how they are, and continually supportive of their upbringing. Yep, this gal, she’s a friend for life!

I’m the big sister, the oldest of five. I can remember at times wishing I had an older sibling–preferably a brother. In high school I let my cousin David take on that role. It wasn’t until my 30s in India when I would get a big sister. Caron is my big sis. She has always supported me while pushing me to be my best. She says it as it is, and there have been many times where she’s had to tell me to just grow up. I listen to her, and then I (attempt to) behave. Like a big sister, her opinion of me is held in high regard. I know she loves me, but I love her for pushing me to be a better woman. Even though I miss her greatly, her words of wisdom ring in my ears often–from parenting, to well being, to style, what she would say or do are a constant reminder of how I would like to be.

I was blessed with a second chance with Sandy. We worked together in Bombay and we were friends there, but it wasn’t until working together in Beijing where we became very close. Sandy is fun and full of energy; in fact I call her Petite Turbo. We spent a lot of time together whether it was afternoon walks along the river, cooking on Friday evenings, or shopping with brunch on the weekend. Sandy has so many funny stories, and at the same time she stops to listen to my own. I know all about her family members–she comes from a very large one just like me, and she knows about all of mine. Sandy and I have a habit that we must get back into: we write emails simply filled with bullets. It keeps the note short and sweet while updating at the same time. I think after I click publish, I’ll be sending Sandy some bullets!

Maureen is a double friend, and she’s a very important friend. Maureen is why we are here! I know Maureen from Venezuela; I was her librarian for her language arts students. When we talked about librarianship, I always encouraged her to become one. When she left Venezuela for Hong Kong, shortly after she did indeed become the middle school librarian here. When we were filling out our applications for Hong Kong, I wrote Maureen on that Sunday night. We got interviews the very next day! Maureen and I may be opposites in many ways, yet at the same time we have a lot in common: a love of reading, a love kids, and a love of fashion. I see Maureen about five times a week; we talk about the usual library stuff, but then we always get into the good stuff–the best beauty products, new trends, what’s in our shopping bags, etc! I love seeing Maureen every single day.

Wait though! This is simply six international women that have impacted my life. There are so, so, soooo many more! I actually feel bad writing this post because there are more than a dozen women along my international life that haven’t been mentioned: Christiane, Debbie, Mariana, Kathy, Jane, Heidi, Khush, Charlotte, Priyanka, Shabbi, Vinky, Rhonda, Kim, Pam, Norbyah, Lauren, Amy…the list goes on, and I haven’t even touched on those female students who have touched my life: Taina, Hannah, Simoneil, Devika, Karishma, Fabia…another list that could go on and on. Perhaps I have a designated post for every March 8th!

Happy International Women’s Day to all the women out there!
Who are some of the special women in your life?


I feel like reminiscing….Was it really two months ago when I was trapesing around Rajasthan, India. I want to take a moment to relive that trip. It’s funny: I’m at an educational conference this weekend  where the world becomes quite small and one’s experiences get shared. I am always so proud to say that I lived in Mumbai–or rather Bombay as I prefer to call it. Those five years from from 2004-2009 have made such an impact in my life: so much so that I feel part Indian inside. Without getting too religious, I had an interesting conversation with my daughter recently. She was telling me that I had to give God (the Catholic one) all my devotion. She claimed it wasn’t possible to go halvies with Ganesha and Jesus. I simply listened; I didn’t attempt to argue with a 13 year old. But, I definitely don’t agree. Does that make me pagan? We’re saving this question for my mom–the lady who was a nun for five years and can get quite philosophical just like her granddaughter. The point is, how could I not have many gods after witnessing 20 years of different cultures and religions? This summer will mark 20 years married, 20 years overseas. After six countries and so much travel all over the world, I’ve got all sorts of ways of praying and many deities that receive those prayers. I think this is ok. Hopefully, one day, my daughter may think the same. One thing for sure that is a commonality that I find amongst all the religions I know of is Confucius’ Golden Rule: “Do not impose on others what you do not wish for yourself.” With this rambling reminiscing I’ll end by wishing you a great day and an even better weekend!

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