Small Victories

I like the fancy night out. I like cake.

I like the gold star, I like the big win.

I like wearing a fancy dress and getting my hair blown out for the awards night where I finally might be recognized for all my hard work. For example, I totally had a blast at the UMAC (United Methodist Association of Communicators) awards dinner in Albuquerque last month. And yes, my name was on a few certificates and awards.

Recently, I’ve been published in some awesome venues. And last month, I did a reading of a couple of funny essays at a hip East Village club — Felt so good, like I was coming home. These were home runs for me and my writing — big wins in a lifetime of convincing myself to be content with small victories.

But I had one recent victory that I keep dwelling on. See, I started this creative writing workshop at lunch time. And I’m not very good at promoting it, so I’m sorry if you didn’t know about it. We meet on Wednesdays.

While I’ve led many of the sessions, (I am an unstoppable teacher), most of the time we rotate leadership. Last week, one of the shyest and most consistent members of the group, J.C., led our group of five people.

J.C. offered a simple suggestion for our time writing together: Make a list of five things you are grateful for. Then write about one or two. We wrote for 20 minutes. And then we read out loud. J.C. read hers, and it floored me. My jaw dropped open.

J.C. wrote that she was grateful for me and for our creative writing workshop. And she noted the exact date the workshops started, March 16, 2011.

Wow, it made me feel as if my life’s efforts — these little things I do, especially the ones that I take on when no one asks me to —  mean something to someone. And my whole messy life makes sense. It feels great. Small victories? Small wins? I don’t know. Maybe the seemingly small victories are the biggest deals of all.

About our Wednesday writing workshop

Blogging — Going A Different Way

On Faith

I love how easy it is to change directions on WordPress. I changed the name of A Church A Day blog to My Rules when I realized visiting a church a day was too much of a commitment. (Although I just won a journalism award for that blog, so I will probably go back to A Church A Day when the kids go to camp this summer.) I also want to stick to My Rules because I want to be accountable to the 7 life rules I made up for myself.

On Fitness

I changed the focus of my running blog to health when I found out I had basal cell cardinoma. But I still love the idea and name of Running Aground. I am logging, blogging, slogging my way to fitness.

On Writing

I changed this blog to The Connected Life — a much better title than Getting My Essays Published. At first, this blog had a private setting because I wanted to keep track of where I was sending my essays and where they were, or were not, getting published. It seemed a personal and boring endeavor, the pursuit of publication. But then I wanted to comment on so many things about social media. I’m not really in love with this blog’s URL or the name. It’s kinda meh.


My favorite of my blog titles is My Beautiful New York. This is the only title I haven’t changed since I started almost two years ago. I still love the name My Beautiful New York.

The title says what a blog title should say: Here’s something delicious. Here’s what I’m passionate about — or at least musing on. For a few months My Beautiful New York was mostly pictures downloaded from my phone.

When I post and want to refer back to an earlier post, I sometimes wonder Which blog did I write that for? Then I Google MBCoudal and a tag. 

And then there are times I wonder which blog to post on — should I post my musings on My Beautiful New York or My Rules? Like those several posts about the sidewalk art. They seemed like quintessential New York stories, but ultimately, I decided they had more to do with an epiphany or synchronicity. And that jibes more with My Rules.

Also there is this questing of PostADay2011, posting every day of 2011. The tag PostADay2011 is getting too big in my clouds. It’s dwarfing my other tags, so I’m going to have to untag PostADay2011.

I’d do it now, but I’m going to watch a movie with my kids. I love my kids even more than I love blogging. I do love blogging, especially because you can change their names. Kids? Not so much.

My 3 Words


On my walk to the subway this morning, I received this message. It was being thrown out with the Christmas trees on Amsterdam Ave.

I had been wondering What are my 3 inspiring words for 2011? Here they were: Become. Your. Dream.

Social media guru Chris Brogan suggests giving yourself 3 guiding words for the New Year.  (I love this guy’s blog. My Connected Life blog is my homage to Brogan.)


I decided to visit a church. The image on the sign seemed to be a helicopter. Move. Go. Do the thing you say you will do. For me that means Visit a church a day. I tried to go to St. Paul’s Chapel at Columbia University, but it was locked. Columbia U. must still be off for the New Year’s  holiday.

I wish church doors were never locked. The gates nearby were locked too.

So  I  wandered out of Columbia towards Morningside Drive. Morningside is such a great name for a street. Here it was morning and I was on Morningside. I remembered the ephiphany I had on Morningside last time I walked there — gratitude. My heart was full of gratitude for every single person I knew.

Yesterday was Epiphany Sunday. I thought of James Joyce’s epiphany in The Artist as a Young Man. I think it happened as Stephen Dedalus watched a flock of birds in the sky. I thought James Joyce is gone, but I am alive. Yes, that was my epiphany. I am alive. I looked up at the sky in honor of James Joyce. Because he could no longer look up. And I saw a hawk or eagle circling. It was my ephiphany. I took it in, the literalness and then the symbolism of it – to dream, to helicopter, to fly. I am alive.

I remembered another message from yesterday’s Epiphany Sunday at Rutgers Church —  love is hard.


I decided to go back to the Mary in a grotto church again.

Although I’ve said I will try to visit a new church everyday, maybe any old church is just as good. I had to get to work.

Since the Montreal Notre Dame Church, I’ve started to feel an affinity for any Mary or Notre Dame church. I love Mary. Maybe because my name is Mary or the idea of Mary reveals a softer side of God or religion.


The church doors facing Morningside were wide open. Two priests and a woman in a coat were saying prayers towards the altar. I marveled at how bright the church was. I love bright. But who pays the electric bill? (My mind leaps from epiphanal to logistical in a moment!) I sat in the last row. I remembered a dream I had last night about a woman holding a bird and a snake, laughing while her picture was being taken.

I could not understand a word the three at the front said. It was all a mumble until after about five minutes when they concluded, audibly saying, “In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” Those were their three words.

I remembered to cross myself as I left. The holy water at the Church of Notre Dame is flown in from France.