Make your day count

let it go.
be silly. have fun. get out of bed in the morning. make your bed.

get out of your own way.

too much to do. every day is a new beginning. this is the season of the new. leading to Christmas. to new life. to a new year.

disappointments are natural. my son’s college application process was too easy. last night he hit a glitch. don’t want to go into the details. (the kids tell me, “you post too many facebook pics!” “you’re too obsessed with social media.” “you tell everyone everything.” yes. yes. yes.)

tell a story. make it good.
make it meaningful.
it’s enough.

it’s today. today is all.
i have it all. i have today.

i have been subbing. and i heard that one of my students, one who causes me no trouble, a nice kid, has something seriously wrong. (like, really serious!) why does this happen? not that i would want it to happen to one of my mischief-makers but maybe that would explain why she doesn’t listen or why he shouts out. but why the quiet, kind one? it so sucks. makes me not believe in God. makes me hurt for all the stupid injustice. life’s unfair.

why the shooting of unarmed teens? of one mother’s son? why, God?

when I get to heaven, i need a lot of answers.

until then, i will make today count. tell a story. make it meaningful.

then, let it go. have fun.

i’m choosing a word for 2015. it is happiness. what’s your word? what’s your story?

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We took the ferry from Essex to Charlotte. From New York to Vermont on Thanksgiving weekend. So beautiful.

 

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Coco can’t believe the sunset. It happens every single night. The sun sets. I want to notice the sunrises and sunsets.

 

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My 2013 in review

I should take stock. Here I am winding down the hours of 2013. For the first time in my life, or since I was single any way, I’m invited to four New Year’s parties and one private New Year cocktail party with a BFF so I’ll probably hit the two parties and that one cocktail party.

But I feel a little melancholy. Maybe because my brother-in-law Dan had a stroke a week and a half or so ago and it really bummed me and the whole extended Jones family out. He’s an aces kind of guy — good listener and all. He’s recovering but has a long freakin’ haul. And I guess that’s the thing — no one’s promised another day. This is it. This day’s all we’ve got.

In 2013, I continued to draw life, energy, humor from my kids. What can I say? They drive me bananas but I like bananas. My husband also drives me bonkers. And I’m not as much a fan of bonkers as bananas. He got a bad deal with the Parkinson’s Disease and it’s slowing him down. When he asked the neurologist about the progression of his disease a couple of weeks ago, the doc basically said his progression is average.

Chris was diagnosed almost 11 years ago. It’s been a long time and continues to be a long downhill slide. That being said, I have a compulsive need to always mention him positively on this blog — in the event anyone who knows both of us reads this, so here goes: He continues to be a wonderful person — still very much into theater and cooking and family. He had a nice success in 2013 being featured on the radiolab podcast.

For myself, I also enjoyed some writing successes. The biggest deal was being featured in the Listen To Your Mother Show, a national reading by authors about mothers. We performed live on Mother’s Day at Symphony Space. My piece was funny and angry and honest. I loved performing again. The best part? I made some awesome new friends.

On the creative front, I’ve also been working on a novel that I’ve begun to show some people and the responses are pretty good. And I like it. It’s kind of like Breaking Bad for middle-aged mothers — angry, funny, and honest again! I want to add more sex scenes, but am overcome with embarrassment every time I try that. (And again, I’m very worried about people I know reading it and judging me!)

On this blog, I tried to systematize my posts and hit publish every Friday and Sunday, which helped me in the discipline department. I’ve loved posting pics and media on Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, and Facebook too!

For paid work, I’ve had some nice successes. But I’ll post more about that in the new year. I’ve got a couple of new things brewing. But I’ve got to run now — put on some lipstick and dress up for a night out.

So let me shake off this melancholy and shake the champagne bottle. Here’s to 2014!

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Here’s the WordPress.com 2013 annual report for my – MBCoudal blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

This blog was viewed about 14,000 times in 2013.

Click here to see the complete report.

20131231-175646.jpgHere we are at a sushi restaurant in Montreal a few days ago! So cold!

20131231-175736.jpgThis was after our 5K run on Thanksgiving Day. I considered doing the New Year’s Central Park run tonite, but it’s too damned cold.

We Have To Share

This year I learned to share. And it’s been awesome.

  • I shared cars and bikes.
  • I shared office space and jobs. I subbed as a videographer for a friend on maternity leave and as a middle school English teacher at a local private school.
  • I shared my home and family with exchange students from France.
  • We are moving from a culture of rugged individualism to collaboration.

    And if you want to join the movement, here are some ideas:

    Make your expectations clear. I am so grateful to the teachers who left me very specific instructions on what to do with their classes while they were out. Yes, I have a bunch of creative curriculum ideas, but it’s best to go with their plan.

    Leave the place nice for the next person. Like, when driving a Zipcar or Enterprise car, don’t leave your OTB stubs in the front seat. I admit I am the person who did not clean up the pine needles from the Christmas tree in the back seat last week. However, I have cleaned up my own (and earlier renters’) coffee cups, parking stubs, and such.

    Skip the elequent email, pick up the damn phone. I felt slightly chastised after offering an idea for my professional organization and I wrote that in an email. But rather than get in this lengthy email swap, the president of the group picked up the phone and called me. We worked it out in no time flat. Instead of getting in this tortured email chain, we talked directly. Yay.

    It’s nice when we can play nicely. And it’s not that I don’t expect us – any of us – to have problems, we will. A collaborative journey can be way more difficult and unwieldy than a dictatorship. But ultimately, sharing is best for everyone.

    have a plan. when our exchange students came to live with us, I was worried about our ad hoc dinners. So Charlotte and I made a two-week meal plan, adding our favorites to the lineup.

    On the morning of his departure, one student said to Chris, “I like you cook.” So, you see, their English did not improve much, but their appreciation for our food did.

    So, for me, 2013 was a year to share. Now, if I could just get my darlings to share in the kitchen cleanup and the paying of bills, we’d be all right.

    Here’s a CitiBike I shared.

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    And a Thanksgiving dinner (that’s me with my brother!) Holiday dinners are a perfect time to share. Hope you get to share this Christmas with people you love and keep the love and sharing going throughout the new year!

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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Upcoming Goals

Earlier in the season, before the storm, the days were brighter and warmer, and the girls played soccer in Central Park. Look how much fun these soccer moms are having!

Just back from my girls’ freezing soccer game. Thank God basketball season is upon us because soccer season is tough on the spectators. I posted on Facebook, ‘this soccer mom needs a hot toddy.’

The term, ‘soccer mom,’ is used disparagingly, but I appreciate the soccer moms and dads who coach teams and bring snacks and stand there in the cold, cheering and chatting, without warm beverages.

I appreciate myself. I put air in the girls’ tires so we could ride bikes to the game. But I was overambitious. It was too cold. We were miserable, riding into the cold wind off of the Hudson River.

The girls would’ve rather taken a bus, a subway, a taxi, anything. Getting places in New York can be cushy or tough. Sometimes I make us tough it out. Perhaps needlessly. Sometimes I feel like I am an Outward Bound leader rather than a parent.

I want to be grateful that my kids are so athletic and like playing team sports.

I have so many good things on my horizon. I want to focus on positive things and my upcoming goals. I do not want to dwell on the argument the girls and I had when it was time to ride home from the game and the girls wanted to switch bikes.

Here’s are some good things ahead:

  • My trip to Chicago for Thanksgiving
  • Upcoming writing workshops
  • Christmas in the Adirondacks
  • Basketball season
  • Ice skating in Central Park
  • Wonderful things I can’t even imagine right now.

I believe in pronoia, which is the sneaking suspicion that the universe is conspiring to help you. (Unlike paranoia, where the world is conspiring to get you.)

That’s my upcoming goal until New Year’s — to have faith in the power of pronoia.