Grateful

Here are some things I’m grateful for:

  • yes, first off, my awesome kids, especially as they were good traveling companions over Thanksgiving
  • my family whom we visited in Chicago — all 5 of us Coudal kids were together with our families — so many fun memories!
  • my blog, my facebook, my instagram, my twitter — and even my foray into pinterest
  • my new bathroom lights (this may seem small, but as we live in a rent stabilized apartment, we get very few home improvements. The super was in our apartment when we left for Chicago and when we came back, voila! fixtures were installed!)
  • my quirky freelance gigs and steady income
  • all of my writing students — even my bratty middle school kids
  • my old friends, like from college and high school, who’ve been my friends for DECADES!
  • my new friends, like from new work city
  • my writing class
  • my love of travel
  • the NYC theater scene
  • my finishing a 5K on turkey day
  • my Upper West Side
  • the NYC citbike program
  • my bike
  • my secret garden
  • my health — because, it’s true, health is wealth
  • my optimism

When I am grateful, something in me opens up and I make room for more acceptance.

Gratitude is a practice.

I am not perfect. At times, I see too quickly what I am missing. Because of Chris’s Parkinson’s Disease, I am, at times, sorry for him, sorry for my kids, sorry for myself. Just sorry. And mad.

I have wished I was married to someone who did not have chronic health problems. But I want to remember to appreciate and celebrate what I have. I have a lot.

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me and my siblings and my mother
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I was in this crowd, running along Lake Shore Drive at the Turkey Trot
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my awesome kids over Thanksgiving

Three Words

A couple of years ago, I spotted a sign in the trash. It was the same day I was thinking of making New Year’s resolutions. Maybe some wise people and shepherds see signs in the sky. I see them in the trash.

My sign read, “Become Your Dream.” And I have done this – by pursuing teaching, coaching, and writing work.

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I also have looked for and found signs on social media.

I love social media – I love the short expressive forms of WordPress, Twitter, and Facebook. Status updates guide and inspire me.

In 2012, social media marketing guru Chris Brogan chose three guiding words: Temple, Untangle, Practice.

He meant:

  1. Treat your body like a temple.
  2. Untangle yourself from distractions.
  3. Practice mindfulness.

I want to do those three things too.

And for this pre-Christian season I want these three words: Simplify, Joy, Kindness.

I want to:

  1. Simplify my holiday by focusing on the things and experiences I love, like light, music, creativity, and time with family. And jettison clutter and consumerism.
  2. Give and receive light and joy to and from everyone I meet. And let go of judging.
  3. Practice kindness. Know that the Christmas season is stressful and so I vow to perform daily acts of kindness.

Isaiah 7:14 says, “Therefore the Lord will give you a sign.” Look for your sign. Look for your three words. They may be in the trash, the sky, or on Twitter. Let three simple words guide you through the holiday season and then through the New Year.

What are your three words?

I wrote this today for an upcoming Advent Devotional for the Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew United Methodist Church. 

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Daily Prompt: Time Capsule

2012 is drawing to a close (3 weeks left!). What would you put in this year’s time capsule?

collage for UMCOR
collage for UMCOR

I would put:

  • My collage art to promote UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief). Am so proud! This was an early version.
  • My bike. Oh, my bike. I love my bike. Biking in NYC makes me happy.

    seen in a bike shop window in Portland
    seen in a bike shop window in Portland
  • My first (ever!) unemployment direct deposit check. Definitely mixed feelings, but overall grateful.
  • My new business cards.
  • Masks that the girls made at Art Students League. We all play roles, wear masks, make art.
  • Chris’s SAG movie pass. Going to the movies together has been a great way to connect. Due to Chris’s illness and our busy-ness, I feel we are ships passing in the night. But we’ve sat together at such amazing movies this year! Yesterday we saw Amour. Formidable! (my favorite French word!) Today we are going to see The Guilt Trip.
  • Abeach handful of sand from Siesta Key beach. The kids and I had such a restorative time hanging out at the prettiest beach in the world last spring. Great times, too, with my bro, Nicole, dad, and Marty.
  • A mosquito from the kids and my ill-fated camping trip to Fire Island.
  • Yoga mat. Because my mom still practices yoga and stands on her head.
  • Shake Shack fries. After teaching a semester of middle school creative writing, I take my kids to Shake Shack to celebrate.
  • School Swimming Pool and Van Cortlandt Park. I watch my kids play basketball, soccer, and baseball, but I spend most of my spectator time on the sidelines of the long benches of the pool or on the edges of the Van Corltandt Park track.
  • all the cousins
    all the cousins

    All of the cousins. Being with my four siblings and their kids for Thanksgiving was definitely the highlight of 2012.

  • President Barack Obama’s birth certificate. Just in case anyone, in the future, has any questions. The man is an American, all right already. Forward.

2012 was a very good year.

Working Out for Thanksgiving

Holidays are for fitness.

While we’re in Chicago for Thanksgiving, the kids and I have signed up, along with cousins and aunts and uncles, for a TurkeyDay-5K. A couple of years ago, we ran the Coogan’s Salsa, Blues and Shamrocks Run for another holiday, St. Patrick’s Day.

That was fun. That March morning was freezing, and no one wanted to get out of bed. But we ran any way. I was damned if I was going to go it alone. I was so proud of myself, because I ran (didn’t walk) the whole way. I aimed for a 13-minute mile.

I run slowly enough to snap pictures as I go. On today’s run, this sidewalk art made me smile. Big Bird Lives!

That’s right. I run in the slow lane. Every one passes me, 89-year olds and toddlers alike. I don’t care. As they say, I’m lapping every one who’s still sitting home on the couch.

Besides, I’m fixing to have a big dinner Thanksgiving night, which includes dessert. And I’m going to be eating my meal slowly too.

Family meals and family fitness should be savored.

When I work out the day before, of, or after a holiday, I feel I can eat or drink anything I want. Guilt-free and happy! That’s what I run for.