My coworking guru Tony Bacigalupo suggested a MeetUp for coworkers at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. So a handful of us meet there on Wednesday, Lincoln’s birthday, to fire up our laptops and work. We also took a few quick breaks to see a few cool things with Museum Hack’s brilliant Jen Oleniczak.
Jen gave us some insider info on Madame X by Sargeant. And then in honor of Lincoln, we checked out his death mask (created while he was alive). She was an awesome guide and leader — really passionate, smart, informative, funny.
We even got to groove on the vibe of the Visible Collection, a vast storage space I’d never visited before. Jen showed us a scary story here (you can tell, we’re scared).
We hacked into the Museum so hard that we even got into the Media Lab. That’s me with a 3-D printer.
Here is our group. And below, that’s the Met’s media lab manager Don Undeen, showing us some cool stuff the Met’s working on to marry tech with fine art. They’re making projects around smiles in art and around getting pathways mapped out for people with special needs.
I am crazy in love with the flowers in the grand lobby of the Met. They never fail to blow me away.
The highlight of the coworkers’ hacking into the Met to celebrate Lincoln’s b’day?
Yup, we sat on the floor — and also sprawled out on the floor — of the Fragonard room. We looked up at the Rococo ceiling and took in the whole frilly mess. So cool. From the three hundred year-old floorboards, you can take in all the possibilities at the Met from a new angle — literally and figuratively.
Thanks so much to Jen and Tony for making this day happen. I’m going to do this every year to celebrate Lincoln. And take all the stuffy out of the Met museum. (And use their awesome free wifi!)
Last Sunday I went to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine to celebrate the Feast Day of St. Francis. It was so peaceful even though there were so many animals in the sanctuary. The music of Paul Winter filled the immense Gothic cavern with the sounds of whales and wolves.
A restless set of boys and dogs in the row in front of us left before it was over so they missed the exotic animals as they paraded (processed) down the center aisle.
The procession of animals was lovely and mind-blowing. You can see a rat carried proudly by preteen girl. I loved the humility of the goats and sheep, made all majestic by a wreath of flowers around their necks! There is beauty in the humility of animals. There was a pig and my favorite, a kangaroo. On the way out, a yak!
I so dug the anomaly of animals in church – the sacredness of animals. That which is ordinary became extraordinary.
I am not really an animal-lover, but I appreciate their lack of subtext.
I left the cathedral, oddly, filled with reverence. There is a variety to life — a vastness of our ecosystems and our living relations that is truly awesome. I can only imagine there must be a creator when you see the variety in God’s creation (and in the crazy matrix of evolution).
Here are some pics I snapped at the service. Thanks to Joanna Parson for getting me to St. John the Divine this year, something I have always wanted to do and now have done! I recommend you experience this beauty too!
“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred . . . let me sow love. Where there is injury . . . pardon. Where there is doubt . . . faith. Where there is despair . . . hope. Where there is darkness . . . light. Where there is sadness . . . joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek To be consoled . . . as to console, To be understood . . . as to understand; To be loved . . . as to love, For It is in giving . . . that we receive. It is in pardoning . . . that we are pardoned, It is in dying . . . that we are born to eternal life.” – St. Francis (c. 1181 – 1226)
In other words: Today, let me get out of my way. Let me find beauty in my ordinary world. Let me hear the music of nature. Let me be someone who goes with the flow. Let me not judge people harshly. Let me be kind and generous. Just for today.
I was in Portland with my work for United Methodist Women. I was early to my meeting. I rented a car and drove to visit another friend named Kelly in Eugene.
Since I was early I could meander. (Note to self: be early!). On the side of the highway, I spotted a sign that said Old West Museum in Brownsville. I took that country road.
I knew it was sort of crazy to leave the direct path laid out for me by the GPS. But I thought, “Heck, I’m so rarely someone who can meander.” Besides, I was in a great western state where, almost two hundred years ago, people traveled the Oregon Trail.
The museum was closed but I snapped a couple of pictures, posting them to Twitter and Instagram. Kelly @kellythewriter1 replied back, “Brownsville! You are in the boonies.”
I vaguely knew Kelly as a writer. I looked up her writing. I saw a section of her amazing memoir, The Trial.
We exchanged some Twitter messages and agreed to meet a few days later in Portland to talk about writing.
After my day at Powell’s bookstore, we met in a hip neighborhood, the Southeast part of Portland. (Isn’t it all hip?).
We sat at a cafe then walked around.
Kelly asked me if I remembered how I knew her, “Um, no,” I admitted.
“We were at the IWGG weekend together last year,” Kelly said. Kelly always gets the acronym wrong and that cracks me up.
“Oh, right!” I laughed. “The International Women’s Writing Guild.” (the IWWG!) We’d met at their fall workshop and luncheon at the National Arts Club.
Kelly and I gossiped about the changes that the guild was going through.
We agreed it would be fun to start our own writing guild. We’d gear it towards helping writers get published. We’d help writers get serious about and value their work. And we are!
Although our writing workshops are intended to get writers focused, our business started because, less than four months ago, I intentionally lost my way. I took the path less traveled. And by posting the story of my journey on social media (and here on my blog), I am finding my way.
Kathryn Cramer, one of the workshop leaders called our writing weekend, “an unqualified success.” And George Davis, another leader, made this awesome video:
As you can see, we wrote, we ate, we talked, we wrote, we did yoga, we walked, we ate, and we wrote a little more.
On the last day of the weekend we started writing with a prompt that began, “I weathered the storm when I…”
I weathered the storm of hosting my first writing weekend. Turns out the hardest part was not the weekend, but getting home again.
It took me a couple of days to get back to New York City from the Adirondacks due to the storm known as Sandy. My Amtrak was cancelled and I relied on friends to give me lifts along the way. (I began writing this post yesterday from a comfy Holiday Inn, half-way home in Albany. I admit I enjoyed my enforced solitude, a menage a moi!)
During the storm, my fam and I stayed in constant digital contact. On the Upper West Side, we never lost electricity. But there is no replacement for real life hugging. And real life writing. And real life family.
I’m totally grateful to the family and friends (and small businesses) who helped make the writing weekend happen. While holed up in the Albany hotel yesterday, I wrote a letter to the editor thanking everyone (I hope!) who had a part.
To the editor:
In this political season, there has been a lot of talk about which political party helps small businesses the most.
After my first foray as a small business owner hosting a writing weekend in Westport, New York, I believe that no party helps a small business as much as the party of other small businesses.
Thanks to the Westport, Wadhams and Essex small business communities who fed the bodies, minds and spirits of a dozen
The writing workshop teachers, storytellers George Davis of Essex, Kathryn Cramer of Dragon Press Bookstore in Westport, Ted Cornell at Crooked Brook Studio in Westport and Joanna Parson of Letter Perfect in New York led the writers to hone the art and craft of writing stories from real life.
Thanks to artistic director Shami McCormick of the Depot Theatre and to teacher Shoshi Satloff for their support and to the entire Jones family for the setting of Skenewood, a magical place for a writing weekend.
This memoir writing weekend was my maiden voyage as a small business owner. I felt lucky to set sail and discover land in Westport, New York. Because of the work of small businesses, artists and teachers in Westport’s midst, the writers at Skenewood had a meaningful and fun time at our first Adirondack Memoir Retreat.
Mary Beth Coudal
My biggest thanks go to the noble writers who attended the weekend, willing to depart on a voyage in uncharted territories.
The art of memoir requires risk, as does the art of making a writing weekend happen.
My business coach, the awesome Mandy Gresh, was the first to call this writing weekend “my maiden voyage.” I like that.
Turns out the journey through the woods and into the writing weekend was not as fearful a journey as it could’ve been. (Though the weather in New York City was more treacherous.)
We’re tentatively planning another Adirondack weekend retreat for Artists and Writers: Talking about Setting from May 16 to 19, 2013.
Stay tuned to our website at Boot Camp For Writers for updates on writing workshops and weekends in Portland, OR and New York, NY. Which reminds me of two last thank you’s.
Excited to be leading The Story of Your Life at the Heritage House in Westport, New York this Saturday morning. At this community center, I’ve struck a yoga pose and smiled at the plein air art shows. All in one place, my favorite things: yoga, art, and, now, for the last three Saturdays in August, from 10:30 to noon, creative writing.
The Heritage House http://www.westportheritagehouse.com/ was once a federated church, Baptist and Methodist. Now it is a visitor center and home to a community art show, the title of which I love — The Spirit of Place. I want to build the spirit of place into the writing workshop.
The Story of Your Life is inspired from the workshops led by my friend and mentor, Dan Wakefield, who also wrote a book by the same name. http://www.danwakefield.com/ If you’re anywhere in the Adirondack region, please join me in this place.
I sent this blurb to some Adirondack newspapers so I hope we get a few people:
Write about your life — from childhood through the present day –- the small, quiet moments and the large, public events. In this creative, supportive, and fun workshop, you will discover threads of humor and meaning through writing and sharing your writing.
This hour and a half workshop is intended for the experienced, casual, and non-writer. ($10/class)
I am the only me. I love having a unique name. I don’t know if I’m one word or two — Mary Beth, MaryBeth or MB. I think I should go with MB because look where it got JK, better than had she been Kathleen.
I have no secrets. When I tweeted from the emergency room, yup that tweet remains google-able. While the internet remembers, I want to forget.
Google refines its searches of me in two other ways: 1. “gbgm Mary Beth Coudal” makes sense since I’ve published hundreds of articles at gbgm-umc.org. But the other search prompt is a bit of a surprise.
2. “mental illness mary beth coudal” Yes, I’m matched with the vast category of mental illness. Is the internet trying to tell me something?
(I think it is because one of my most reposted articles was on how church people could/should/might treat mental illness the same as they treat other illnesses — that is, with help, dinner deliveries, prayers, empathy, love…)
Those are a few of the things I learn when I google myself. What do you learn when you google your name?