February Check-In: Word of the Year

How did your word of the year make it through January?

Helpful? Forgot it already? Working it through slowly?

platesMy word for the year is “scatter,” which I chose because it kept showing up in my dreams, even though I wasn’t sure it sounded like a word I would choose.  In January,  I understood one meaning more. It became really clear to me that I was spinning too many plates. (This was a skill on many variety shows during the middle of the last century). To keep all the plates spinning, you have to be fast, keep your attention on the different plates and move the sticks without losing focus. If you didn’t, the plates fell and broke.

too-many-spinning-plates1In January, I realized that scattering my attention to all the work I had was causing me to lose focus on the things I deeply want to do. While I decided years ago not to make my art pay the mortgage, I had too much on my . . .plate. And it was spinning.

So I made a decision to scatter my attention and energy less, and drop two of the money-makers I made. My energy will be transferred to attention to teaching more art classes, doing book-related events, and coaching. Doing less, but paying more attention to the things I want to do.

How did your word of the year change your routine in January?

At the beginning of each month, we’ll take a look at that word of the year and see how it is working for you. Feel free to leave a comment and let us know!

Quinn McDonald is launching her book locally on February 20 at Changing Hands Bookstore on February 20.

53 thoughts on “February Check-In: Word of the Year

  1. It took awhile for me to come up with a word for this year[ a task I had not doen before} About the end of the first week in January, while in the shower, the word “adventure” popped into my head.
    And so, this was going to be a year of “adventures”.

    While on a January artists’ cruise to the Caribbean, I looked at the kayaks on Princess Cays in the Bahamas, rented one and paddled. At the St. Thomas stop, a trip over to the British Virgin Island of Tortola, and a swim with dolphins[plus my passport finally received a stamp!]. The topper was on St. Maarten, a horseback trail ride up and around this lovely park, ending with a dip in the ocean.
    This past Saturday, I joined a group of friends to see what snowtubing was like. As I stood at the top of the slide, there was the momentary “what the h***was I thinking” . Then, I sat a zipped down the mountain!
    Am curious to see what other adventures are waiting for me this year.

  2. All such wonderful words above.. lots to chew on in these comments. My word= ACCOUNTABLE. I’m working to be accountable to myself, my commitments, my relationships, my work, and by NEW blog, “Cleaning Up the Studio”, which I launched on Jan. 1st, at the new Capricorn moon. (A “supermoon”; you can look that up.. or read the post!) A very big deal for me to put myself out here and commit to writing a blog..I have never been good at following through, and not very good at being involved and sharing in a community, either.. so it’s a big, bold leap for me. Thanks for your creative wisdom, Quinn!

  3. Dear Quinn,
    Thank you for the coaching (good) pressure in reminding us of what we said we were going to do. Regretfully, I had to go back to the original post to find my word. “Stretch” (Will write it down this time) Unfortuntely, the only thing I am currently stretching is seeing how much sleep I can go without trying to finish my bachelors degree by the end of June to get into a specific graduate program by August 2014. It leaves me little time to stretch in the art and business areas I had in mind when I wrote the word in January. My word should have “time”. I need more hours in the day. Thank you again, Quinn.


  4. I know I said I’d be doing monthly words, but I think I’m not done with “Intention”. Incidentally I’ve been feeling poorly for a couple of weeks, and my new word is supposed to be “Health”! So that blew my focus, LOL.

    I think I did an initial good job at keeping it though, being efficient without feeling busy. I’ve managed to get all my library books done and delivered, so now I’ll be ready to work on Inner Hero and my two words, instead of new ones perhaps for a time I need to look at them in new ways. Until something else insists on making itself known. I need to try to keep things simple, not eliminate the things that interest me, but take it one at a time.

  5. FOCUS was the word I chose for 2014. Imagine my frustration when, 10 days into 2014, I could not remember for the life of me what word I had chosen! (Clearly FOCUS was, indeed, the right choice for me.)

    A few days later, I was in the library at the university where I teach and saw a book on the bestsellers display titled “FOCUS” by Daniel Coleman (who also wrote the bestseller “Emotional Intelligence”). Seeing this as a sign, I checked it out and have been carefully reading it. Very helpful in my quest. Currently I am FOCUSING on getting my financial house, creative house, and actual house that I live in in order.

    • Excellent story, and a really great way of getting back on track. I would have chosen another word if I couldn’t remember mine. Your way is a better way to remember and use it, though.

  6. I chose the word WONDER, and have been considering it from two different aspects: “sense of awe” and “thinking with curiosity”. I think it’s having a positive impact on my creative process — causing me to slow down, to consider more options, and to see the beauty/joy/truth as it evolves.

    • It’s not only a fine line, but it varies from person to person. My “comfortably tidy” is someone else’s “wild mess.” I can’t work in an empty room, but a room that has paints and brushes and markers to hand (in other words, messy) makes me feel I can find what I need.

  7. Wisdom. Working steadily on the wisdom to know the things I cannot change and let go. Wisdom to accept what I have learned and go forward in a comfortable measure. Wisdom to focus on those who are most important to me. Proceeding one small step at a time.

  8. My word of the year is Release. I have been using it a lot this month in several blog posts and even in general conversations. I have a lot to release, I need to clean out the negative space in my memories so I have more room for the positive joyful ones and the only way I can do that is to release the memories. I am doing that in a variety of ways but most of them are going into my blog posts. I have a feeling that this is going to be a very productive year when it comes to my writing.

  9. My word for this year is LEAP. When I think about it, my word reminds me to take a leap of faith or leap into the unknown. I’m currently going back to school while homeschooling my three kids, which is where my word comes in. It’s scary and hard but I’m still mid-air. We’ll see where I land.

  10. My word for the year is “growth”. This year so far has been great for my word. I grew creatively as well as mentally during January. I joined two groups for month long journaling in which we explored ourselves and our lives. And I’m still growing this month as well.

  11. My word is “little by little” and I wrote it on the first page of my journal. Every time I get excited and think “Oh, I’d like to try this or that, do more online classes, buy more books…. I refrain from it as I have already enough projects going on, enough books I long to read and study…. So far it helped a lot … At the same time I am sorting out every room and trying to give away as many things as possible…. little by little….

  12. For the third year in a row I am still choosing to carry Salt & Light. This year I wanted a more personal word to add to the mix. The word that kept coming to me, though I rejected it, was, “One”. Why? “I don’t really want you”, I told it. Persistant bugger. So One it is. I put my 24yr. old son out a month ago and at 54, am finally an empty-nester. My bf wants to return to Mexico and is aiming to
    move out and start the separation process…I’m at a time in my

    life where I can start thinking more about what i want.

    • YAY! Isn’t it interesting how those words come to us and then make a place at the table and stay? I didn’t want “scatter” either. I thought it was flighty. But I am seeing the dimensions now–how scattered I was and how I am letting go of the things that make me feel scattered. It’s a fine word, after all.

  13. My word, IIRC, was meromorphic, which I suppose is part of one of the things I’m fiddling around with recently, which is playing with complex numbers. Complex numbers are the sum of real numbers and the square root of -1 (which is an imaginary number). It’s easy to create fairly spectacular color graphs of complex functions. Here’s how to do it in Visual Basic.

    • An innocent question Pete . . . aren’t all numbers imaginary? The same was letters and words are? They’re just things we’ve dreamed up to express ideas, quantities etc aren’t they? This will get me pondering as I drive of to work this sunny summer’s morning.

      • Well…there’s a deep philosophical discussion in there, but on a more mundane level, different kinds of numbers just have different labels — real, rational, irrational, transcendant, imaginary, complex…there are a lot of different “kinds” of numbers. The labels are to some extent arbitrary; they’re just categories, and the words don’t mean the same things. That is, a “real number” doesn’t imply that it’s any more, um, actual than an imaginary number any more than a “rational” number is any more sensible than an irrational one. I think they could be called red, blue, green, and so forth and it would be just as good — maybe better, since it would be more obviously arbitrary.

        Probably the simplest set is the natural numbers, which are the ones used for counting. But even this set isn’t as cut and dried as you’d think; last I knew mathematicians couldn’t agree about whether zero is included or not!

        As for the philosophical underpinnings… I dunno, but I rather think that numbers are not imaginary in the sense of being just dreamed up. I think they exist even though they’re not tangible. This seems to be the case because numbers are not a matter of opinion — for example, three plus two equals five no matter who works it out, or when or where they do it. You don’t even have to be human to know that two is more than one when it comes to cookies (Zack T. Dog would be more than happy to demonstrate, and would even show that ALL THREE cookies is an even better total!)

        • I love that a rational number isn’t any more sensible than an irrational one . . . and the arguements that 0 is suspect as a number. And I knew that it wouldn’t be as simple as 2 + 3 Dammit, there’s altogether to much I’ll never understand and have wonderings about!

          • After some research:
            Irrational numbers are called that because they can’t be expressed as a ratio. That is…they’re irRATIOnal. (I think I once knew this…)
            Imaginary numbers were originally thought to be incorrect, as in “that cannot be the answer; you’re imagining it.” (the belief that they were incorrect was itself incorrect)
            Liebniz came up with the “transcendental” number label in 1682. I haven’t seen any explanation of why he used that term, but it wasn’t a particularly unusual word for him. He also came up with the “transcendental law of homogeneity”, which is a bit pretentious — I think it’s just a procedure for substituting expressions in calculations. (Although maybe not at the time…well we take it for granted now, but he had to *invent* it.)

          • Very interesting. The Transcendentalists as a literary movement started in the early- to mid-1800s, and believed that we could learn from intuition. Before that, the idea was scoffed at. Many still scoff today, but the point is that in this case, the metaphor came after the science application.

          • Not only are there such numbers, there’s a famous proof demonstrating that there are as many transcendental numbers as there are real numbers.

    • Ahh, imaginary numbers. i remember them. (Little inside joke there). I took a peek at the Visual Basic but my brain ran and hid under its own brain stem. If it’s not trig or geometry, my brain becomes reluctant.

  14. I chose KISS: Keep It Simple Sweetheart! I could have chosen pare back or simplify but I wanted to express more than that. The word needed to encompass both but also to take the simple things in life and revel in them, to not leap into roles or responsibility just because I know I can achieve a good outcome (let someone else), to take on as much as I can manage, and not turn it into something complex as is my wont, to say “too much” and “not just now” as well as “in time, it can wait” I wanted something that would help me be more mindful and KISS seemed to fit the bill.

    So far? Progress is good. I have a room where I have put belongings to sell or donate and instead of looking at it with dread as I pass by I have closed the door and know I’ll get to it when I can . . . it’s important, but certainly not urgent and the prospect does not have any weight. I’ll do it when I choose, when the time is right.

    Qinn, you’re doing less, but paying more attention? KISS feels the same: by slowing down, doing less, I’m achieving more . . . who would have thunk it? You and me that’s who!

    • It sounds like you have a handle on the KISS! Letting someone else do their work (instead of doing everyone’s work for them) is a good idea. I deliberately let go some clients, lovely as they were, because I was not getting enough sleep. I travel a lot more now, and I steadfastly save airplane time for reading and not doing business work. It’s a small and sacred pleasure.

  15. My word is Dare. I am daring to begin a new business, daring to get out and promote myself and what I do. I have a lot of talents and I need to let the world know. At least that is how it seems from here. Dare was not a word I wanted. I wanted effortless or ease or something of that ilk as I feel like I have been daring for the past couple of years. Apparently I have at least one more year of Dare ahead of me 🙂

    • Dare is a good word. When we do the work we are called to do, it is not effortless or easy. We never work harder than when we are doing our life’s work–but we know *why* we are working so hard, and it feels satisfying.

  16. My word was settle, and January was the perfect time to do that! I am settled in, settled into making art (well not this week…) and working on more settling. So far so good, and I am working on 28 days of happiness for my birthday month. Having a dentist appointment today is a stretch, but I can get a settling point for making and keeping the appointment! Then I will do a happy thing after the dentist.

  17. I’m so glad you’ve opened up this conversation on your blog. I actually haven’t forgotten my word for the year – “Change”. The only thing I’ve really done is that when things change (because they always do – that’s why I picked the word, so I’d get more comfortable with it), I try hold space open for how I feel about it. So far, that’s it, but it’s enough, for now.

  18. Wild was my word….well still is….January in flooded England has been wild in terms of the force of nature ,my life had been opposite to wild with winter bugs hitting kids and spending more time at home,but that’s been good as I can be mum when they are sick,rest of time they on their own adgenda! So perhaps resting in winter ready to be wilder in summer is good,like pagan times! But I don’t feel very wild,more subdued and melancholy,I need to have more fun,but I have realized that to have the wild times of my youth return is ridiculous!! I also contemplate that I had a fantastic time when I was young,living in India dancing around fires on the beach in the sunrise,living in London in the 80s heyday,working really hard and playing really hard! But I think singing ,salsa and yoga will now be my outlets and it’s down to me to make that happen and find local groups to do that with. I have to find my truth which involves creativity,and I have to find the time to make that my priority and that my work involves that,my what a process.
    So 9months into my new life ,in new country,in new flat,new schools,new everything,hopefully it’s rock and roll now in a new direction. I think I had a surge of excitement when I was thinking of my word and the festive season was good,given our circumstances.
    I have had a dry January so am pleased with myself about that.
    I didn’t really enjoy the glass of wine I had last night,so that’s quite good too!!! Hardly wild am I!!!!
    So let’s all check in each month with the word, and be gentle with it,perhaps the word is a polarity,that I need to be content for a bit and that being wild will come when the time calls for it….x

    • Wild doesn’t have to mean making a ruckus and causing danger. There are wildflowers and wild animals that are quite peaceful. It’s just unfettered, and I can see you have accomplished that. And yes, I’ll be bringing it up every month, just so we can see where we are.

  19. My word for this year is ‘OPEN’ as in being more open to my own life, the world around me, opening up my time, en being open in sharing of me and my art. It’s a word that works both on the giving and the receiving end of the spectrum. What I most want is to let things come to me more naturally and take them in instead of trying to control everything and search high and low for the ‘right way’. That makes my head too full with thoughts so there’s no room for anything else.
    Anyway, what I’m most finding is how hard it is to let go of my controlfreakyness and to fall back on my overplanning, listing, scheduling etc. and to just trust more. But so far I have been making room in my life and have been practicing a more layed back way of doing things. One thing I have done just recently is cut back on my online groups and sites. I quit pinterest, instagram, yahoo groups and some other media and am now strictly sticking to my own blog and facebook. It’s already freeing my mind for other things, so that’s progress, haha.

    • I think online life can really be a distraction from the life we inhabit away from the screen. I, too, have cut waaaaay back on FB and am enjoying the extra time. But ahhh, yes, that, as you so wonderfully put it, “controlfreakyness” –what a wrestling job that is!

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