Posts Tagged ‘Health’

Kathryn Ma with mum and dad

I first met Kathy thirteen years ago in a pub in Brighton UK. She had come over for a few weeks doing a tour visiting friends. We instantly got on and spent a few days together, shopping, laughing and generally having a lovely time. Little did I know that back in Hong Kong my new friend was a celebrity and a regular guest on local radio shows.

We have stayed in contact despite the physical distance and over the years I have learnt that behind that laid back happy-go-lucky demeanour lies a person who is incredibly driven and determined. ‘Hong Kong teaches you not to be lazy and try your best at all times.’ She says and adds : ‘As a woman you have to be even better.’

Kathy makes friends wherever she goes, despite this she is surprised when I asked her to be interviewed for my blog: ‘But why? I’m not very interesting.’ She says’.

Kathy is unusual; she is a Chinese Australian living and working in Hong Kong. She is psychic and a serial entrepreneur and yet she is one of these people who lives her life without a plan, accepting whatever challenges it hands her with gusto and flair.

You may think knowing what the future holds solves a lot of problems, like making the right choices and getting involved with the right people – foresight must be better than hindsight. But she insists that’s not how it works: ‘Psychics are unable to make predictions for their own futures.’ She says and explains: ‘Emotions get in the way, we make mistakes like anyone else.’

In fact it took Kathy a while to realize she could read the future. Not from a psychic background, while growing up she tried to reason she was a good guesser and her anticipations were logical rather than psychic. But after meeting a psychic in her early twenties she gradually realized she had an ability. Despite this she was still at loss to fit it into her life and it was only years later, attending a World Health Expo in San Francisco and meeting working psychics she realized she had to trust her ability and decided to embrace her gift fully. Kathy admits:’ it was a now or never moment.’

Kathy being Kathy not only set about giving personal readings, but quickly got involved with the business community as well, giving readings and strategic advice. ‘I wouldn’t give financial advice. I would convey the intentions of the participants of a meeting and the tone of the meeting itself which obviously went a long way to help good decisions being made.’ She says.

Attending other people’s meeting and reading other people’s lives was not enough for Kathy in the long run. She set up a Mind, Body and Spirit shop (The House of Energy), followed a few years later by a dating online website (DateAsia) and a paid Privilege lifestyle card purveyor in Hong Kong (VivAsia). At this point, much to her amazement she was hailed as one of the major trend setters in HK. ‘I’m not like that!’ She protests: ‘Things capture my interest and inspire me. Then of course comes the challenge to see if I can do it.’ She laughs.

Viewing her success and popularity I have to ask: ‘Why Hong Kong? Why not the world?’

Kathy doesn’t even pause to think: ”In Hong Kong you’ve got total efficiency – it’s amazing what you can get done in a day.’ She explains: ‘ Australia is too laid back and I did have offices in China, but it drove me crazy – it drove everyone crazy. Initiative and responsibility was basically alien to them.’

Hong Kong by Trey

Like Kathy, Hong Kong is full of contrast; densely populated it still has the feel of a village. Its inhabitant driven and demanding yet they are exceptionally friendly, helpful and creative.

Like in most of Asia the extended family in HK is very strong and despite living accommodations in general being very small by western standards it wouldn’t be unusual for a married couple to have one or two grandparents living with them and looking after the children. However there is an emotional and financial need to work.

Kathy driven as she is values her family more than her personal ambitions. You see while HK teaches you not to be lazy and try your best at all times – family always come first.

Kathy’s favorite reads:

1) A Fortune-Teller Told Me by Tiziano Terzani

2) The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche

3) Collins Complete Works of Oscar Wilde

4) There’s A Customer Born Every Minute – P.T.Barnum’s Secrets to Business Success by Joe Vitale

5) Any books by John Sandford or Harlan Cohen – I do love a good crime mystery.

Thank you for reading. If you know anyone who you think should have been interviewed by me, please let me know on Comments are very welcome and so are ratings. 🙂


Karen Griffard Putz; mother of three deaf teenagers, competitive barefoot water skier, journalist, founder of a non-profit, early intervention provider, greeting card company distributor and prolific blogger…… and, she is deaf.

Karen Griffard Putz with passion!

Karen is one of my first cyber friends. I met her a few days after joining Twitter.

If you ever have the pleasure to meet her in person, the first thing you notice is a radiant smile that reaches all the way up to her big brown eyes and that terrific energy! An energy fuelled by an extraordinary passion for life and a genuine belief that she can do anything – She is POSITIVE!

‘It has been a long process’ she confides: ‘I didn’t arrive in this place overnight’.

Karen’s journey has indeed been long; she lost some of her hearing at the age of seven following an illness with a high fever. Despite her young age, she became self-conscious and was determined to cover up her compromised hearing.

Through her childhood and teenage years she used a mixture of bluff and an ingenious system to guess what was said to appear ‘normal’. It was emotionally and physically draining and she was constantly comparing herself to hearing people. ’ I felt I didn’t measure up in certain areas and group conversations were a nightmare. I was crying a lot,’ she recalls.

Life had a new and bigger challenge in store for her:

‘When I climbed into the boat, I couldn’t hear.’

At nineteen, Karen took up barefoot waterskiing and spent the summer zipping around Christie Lake, finally something she was really good at and could enjoy without paying too much attention to her hearing. But one day she turned to cross a wake, caught a toe and slammed into the water sideways. After the crash, she  thought she had water in her ears, the truth was hard to bear; she had become profoundly deaf.

As the summer holidays finished she hardly had time to digest her new situation before she found herself at a university that had a deaf program, amongst students whose first language was American Sign Language.  American sign language (ASL) like British sign language (BSL) is a sign language with grammar and structure, the signing was rapid and in Karen’s eyes complex. She was truly a foreigner in a strange land.  Karen found it impossible to lip read her instructors in the classroom.

At night the silence of her world became overwhelming and the frustration she had experienced during the day gave way to raw grief for her lost hearing. ‘I spent my nights crying.’ she confesses. One morning after yet another night of tears and frustration, she decided to take on the challenge instead of fighting against it – ‘I finally acknowledged I was deaf and decided to become the best deaf person I could possibly be.’ She says.

Karen set about the painstaking task of taking control of her life again; she learned ASL and keeping the promise she made herself, became so proficient that she ended up subbing her teachers in college.

ASL opened up the world for her and gave her access to education – something she had just been getting in bits and pieces over the years and now she could follow conversations with an interpreter.

Letting go of her old belief and survival systems took time and determination, but as her confidence grew, the occasions where she would fake understanding what was said became less frequent and she found a depth of friendship and human empathy that she didn’t realize she had missed since the age of seven.

‘My bluffing had made me lose out on a lot.’ She admits and adds: ‘If I had known the quote’ “why are you trying to fit in, when you are born to stand out?” then, instead of years later; it might have been another story.’

Karen wanted to become a labor and delivery nurse, but the lack of role models and a counselor’s comment:’ It will be too hard to overcome the communication challenges.’ Convinced her it was a bridge too far. Instead she took a degree in counseling, discovering much later that there are many deaf and hard of hearing professionals in all fields; deaf doctors, dentists, nurses and even politicians: lawyer Adam Kosa Mep who is also an MEP for Europe and New Zealands MP Mojo Mathers. ‘I’ve learnt an important lesson.‘ Karen says ‘limited possibilities comes from limited minds.’

Four years she worked as a councilor, but it was in the fifteen years after that she really learned the power of a positive attitude and the value of having a mentor as she started to explore new paths and new skills.

During this time she had three children, each were born with normal hearing but one by one they all became deaf. ‘I took complete joy in being able to spend time with my kids and teach them about life and how to communicate and advocate for themselves.’ She says. Karen also became very active in her community and started writing for (a resource for those living with a disability, containing articles about living and thriving with a disability), (tips, hacks and news for parents and their families) and the Chicago Moms blog and in 2003 she became a Deaf Mentor in the Illinois Early Intervention program, mentoring families raising deaf and hard of hearing children. ‘I wanted those families to know that there were unlimited possibilities for their children.’ She insists and quotes Kevin Hall: ”Talents and gifts do not reduce or diminish when shared, they expand and increase like the widening ripples form a pebble dropped in still water.”

As Karen’s children have grown and become more independent, she has herself learnt how valuable it is to have a mentor in your life: when sixty-six year old Judy Myers was featured on Today show waterskiing on her bare feet, Karen’s old passion was unleashed again and she connected up with the World Champion Keith St. Onge who not only mentored her to barefoot competitively but also helped her lose the extra pounds she had put on over the years.

Karen Griffard Putz can be found at the lake in bare feet, when she is not acting as a board member of Hands & Voices a non-profit organization or writing for Chicago Tribune, TribLocal and Chicago Now.

Karen with two of her mentors; Judy and Keith

Karen’s favorite reads: Aspire by Kevin Hall and Passion Test by Janet Attwood.  ‘These are two books that I consistently recommend to everyone.  The Passion Test will help identify what fires you up and Aspire will give you eleven words to live your life in a whole new way.’ (Available through the link below)

Thanks for reading this; I hope you enjoyed. Please be my guest and make a comment or ask a question or you have a story to tell, let me know. I would love hearing from you.