Never Alone

Orlando. I can’t fathom it. I’ll let others handle the politics, the religion, the reasons. I want to make just one point. That is, simply, what we do to others, we do to ourselves. We are never alone in hatred. We are never alone in kindness, compassion, and love. But we get to choose.

Photo: © H-Peter Clamann, 2016. All rights reserved. © Poem: Quinn McDonald, 2016. All rights reserved.

Photo: © H-Peter Clamann, 2016. All rights reserved. © Poem: Quinn McDonald, 2016. All rights reserved.

Poems and Collage

© Forgotten Memories, Quinn McDonald. 2016, All rights reserved.

© Forgotten Memories, Quinn McDonald. 2016, All rights reserved. Monsoon paper, walnut ink, alcohol inks on Yupo.

Art doesn’t have to be just one thing. I like to combine writing and collage. But I don’t like tearing words out of a magazine and using that. It’s great for vision boards, but I like collage to be more coordinated.

In this collage, I used writing as a background. I also stylized the writing so it is not readable. I didn’t want the viewer to be distracted or to feel that reading was part of experiencing the art.

The collage was part of creating an assignment for my grad school program in poetic medicine. We were to create the collage first, then the poem. I tried to do that, but it’s not how I work. At least not successfully. So I wrote the poem below, then created the collage.

Forgotten Memories
The brick building had been extended
(twice already),
a poured foundation ready for this,
the third expansion.

Three different weathered shades of brick,
a muddled patchwork marking time.

“Memory Center”—clearly, a lie.
The memories have long faded
from this center’s rooms,
bleached into shadows
like the rising wings of birds
against the moon
during a break in the clouds.

–Quinn McDonald is studying poetic medicine. She is also a trainer in business writing.

A Talisman of Fire

The Letter Shin, © photograph by Quinn McDonald. Sterling pendant by Su Keates.

The Letter Shin, © photograph by Quinn McDonald. Sterling pendant by Su Keates.

Another talisman has come into my life, this one through the skill and talent of Su Keates, a silversmith from New Zealand. Su listens and then brings her own vision to the creation of a piece.

This piece was going to be hard. I wanted to have an abstraction of the Hebrew letter shin, the 21st letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The letter has many meanings and associations. The word shin literally means teeth or bite, but that’s not the hidden meaning I am drawn to.

Shin has three points, often said to represent

A traditional rendering of the Hebrew letter shin.

A traditional rendering of the Hebrew letter shin.

kindness, justice and mercy. In one kabbalistic interpretation, the three stalks represent the flash of an idea, understanding, and application of knowledge. Now that is a meaning I can spend time with.

What I love is the number of words begin with the letter shin (in Hebrew). The word for peace, shalom. The word for hear, or listen, sh’ma. The word for the day ordained as a day of rest, Shabbat. Then there is sun (shemesh) and change, and year, and rest.

Shin is a mother letter, and it represents fire. So I wanted this talisman to look like fire. The letter is heard in the first phrase of the Bible, “In the beginning.” How could I not find this letter a talisman for my work as a coach, helping people change? Or my work as a writer, helping people heal and rest from the scars of their life?

It’s new and ancient and I can already tell it has power and life.

Quinn McDonald is a writer and a creativity coach who helps people reinvent themselves.


Diabetic-Friendly Snack

As a diabetic, I’m always on the lookout for a satisfying snack that can carry me through, fill me up, cut my cravings and be healthy. That’s a big order for a snack.

Nana1I like bananas, and although they are fine for diabetics, I can’t scarf down three of them in a sitting. One-half cup has 15 grams of carbs. (I eat about 25 carbs at breakfast and lunch, less at dinner.) But I’m not eating half a cup of bananas at one sitting. That’s what makes this a great snack.

Slice the banana into thin slices–about 1/4-inch thick. You don’t have to use a ruler, just make them all about the same thickness.

Place the bananas on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and freeze for several hours. You want them to be hard, frozen all the way through. If they are still wet or slick, this technique won’t work.

Melt a high-quality chocolate (I used a Lindt bar, with 70 percent cocoa) over (not in) hot water. Here’s how you do that: take a  one-quart cooking pot, fill it 3/4 full of water and fit a stainless steel bowl onto the pot so that it fits across the top rather than floating in the water. It’s important that no water splashes into the chocolate, as it will seize and not work for the recipe.

Nana2Melt the chocolate in the stainless steel bowl. Do this slowly. The water should be hot, but not boiling. The chocolate should be smooth and glossy, not grainy.

nana3Use a fork to scoop up (not stab) a frozen slice of banana and place it in the chocolate. Coat it on both sides, then use the fork and pick up the banana slice and place it carefully on top of a plain (un-chocolated) slice.

nana4The two slices will immediately freeze together, so there is no slipping or chocolate mess. That’s the genius of this snack–it’s easy to make and produces very little mess.

nana5Once you have every plain banana slice covered with a chocolate one, put them back in the freezer until they are completely hard. Transfer to a plastic bag. Eat them frozen, it makes them last longer and you get a much better flavor of melting chocolate and banana as your mouth warms them up. I eat two (total of four banana slices) for a snack. It calms down my craving, gives me a chocolate fix, and doesn’t jerk my blood sugar around. (Test this yourself. Your results could vary.)

The rest of the chocolate in the bowl can be refrigerated and re-used next time. Or, you can eat it with a spoon while it’s still warm, but that may raise your blood sugar higher than you like.

Quinn McDonald is a diabetic who craves good chocolate.




Pressing Matters

© Quinn McDonald, 2016

© Quinn McDonald, 2016

We sit pressed close
breathing each other’s air
Knees and thighs touching
arms exploring, nudging, shyly avoiding eye contact.

In another world, we’d be lovers
canoodling up some turbulence.
Here we are strangers
Wordlessly skirmishing over arm rests at 35,000 feet.

Quinn McDonald is a practitioner of poetic medicine.

Taxi Story 516

From airport to hotel
it’s 45 minutes of dark freeway.
I’m hoping for one memorable taxi story.

One time the driver was drunk
and screaming.
I screamed louder and he
set me out in the middle of the road
and left me there.

But not tonight.
Tonight the driver wrapped me in his easy smile
and used his musical voice to stash my bag
confidently into his cab’s back seat.

Five minutes later, my taxi story started
with him telling me about his life
driving strangers
through rain and fog and life uncertain.

His dream, he sighed, was med school, “But it’s so expensive,”
so he works a double shift on weekends,
stoking his mojo to clear the path ahead.

He asked me what I did for work.
“I”m a writer,” I said,
speaking my big truth into the dark,
hoping it was still true.

He had a book in him, he said,
and I thought, “More than one, for sure.”
He asked if I wrote poetry,
and I held my breath before I said,
“I do.”
It sounded like a vow.

“I do not understand poetry so much,” he said,
and when I asked, “What poets do you read?” he said,
“Rabelais and Rimbaud,” I thought, “Well, no wonder.”
“Try Billy Collins,” I suggested,
and wrote it down for him.

“Tonight is like an adventure with you,” he said,
handing me my bag and receipt.
“What’s your name?” I asked
and was not surprised when he replied,
with solemn, formal, introduction,
“Call me Ishmael.”

— © Quinn McDonald, All rights reserved. 2016