Endings and Beginnings, and a Giveaway

New-MoonIt’s over. 2013 is behind us. A relief for some, a sentimental goodbye for others. Welcoming in a New Year always feels fresh and hopful.

This year, there is even a new moon and a super moon to welcome in the new year. A new moon rises when the sun rises, and sets when the sun sets, so it’s hard to see. (And a full moon rises when the sun sets, which helps you know the “almost full” from the “really full.”)

As the year ended, we’ve been talking about choosing a word for the year. You’ve had wonderful ideas: faith, believe, dare, balance, affirmative, listen, strength, flow, mantra, now, do, fly, focus, persevere, knowledge, wisdom, kindness, letting go, little by little, now, trust, accept, and many more.

Before you jump into using your new word, say a sincere goodbye to the old one. See how it fit. See where it pinched. Honor it in your journal one more time. And then, whether it was great, good, or never-again, put it to rest. It served you well in its own way.


The Sower, by William J. Stewart.

My word this year came to me in that balance of time between wake and sleep. I didn’t want to choose a rubber-stamp-type word, but this one was not something I thought was useful. It is Scatter.

The next day, it came back, and the day after as well. Who am I to ignore a dream? I began to think what it might mean. The most powerful image that came to mind is the ancient manner of broadcasting seed. The seed falls on stone and doesn’t grow. It is picked up by a bird and dropped on rich ground and thrives.

I’ve had too much focus and discipline in 2013. Happy enough to have focus and discipline, it helped me lose 65 pounds and change my relationship with food and become healthier, not dependent on insulin. Thank you. Now, moving on, I am thinking what needs to be scattered in my life–broadcast, spread, thrown into the wind, and carried off, only to be seen in another stage later. Or to fly off like confetti, no longer needed. Turns out, it’s a big word.

I’ve come to like the word scatter, so once a month, when I invite you to tell us what your word has developed into, I’ll talk about my scattered new life.

InnerHeroCoverAnd the giveaway? Of course, it’s a copy of my new book–the Inner Hero Creative Art Journal. Leave a comment about last year’s word and how you will say goodbye to it. Or, if you haven’t chosen a word, tell us which one you will use. Link the word to your inner hero–the one you will welcome in 2014. The winner will be announced on this coming Saturday.

And then, with joy, welcome 2014!

Note: Shirley Levine from Paper and Threads won the Inner Hero book from the Endings and Beginnings blog post (January 1, 2014). Congratulations, Shirley! I hope you make many Inner Hero pages!

Quinn McDonald welcomes her alter ego, Iron Crow, who will spend some time standing up to her Inner Critic.

Hope: It’s Complicated

Desert Night © Quinn McDonald. Fabric, marbled paper, stitching on watercolor paper background.

Desert Night © Quinn McDonald. Fabric, marbled paper, stitching on watercolor paper background.

Hope is a tricky emotion. It’s necessary so we can imagine what will happen if we take action and overcome hardship. It’s useful to use as a ladder out of sorrow: we can imagine life getting better, and we go where we look.

So why have I said that I’m not a fan of hope? Heretic. Well, in a way, yes. When we expect hope to be enough, to be the only fuel to drive a dream into reality, hope isn’t enough.

When we rely on hope to create what we cannot, we will be disappointed.

When we take that word for 2014 and expect it to change who we are, to be the magic eraser that vanishes all problems, we are making it carry to much of a burden.

Treat hope for what it is–the clay that we shape into a plan with the skill and

It's not clay; it's a rendering made to look like clay. A good metaphor for hope. From: http://www.secondpicture.com/tutorials/3d/clay_render_in_3ds_max.html

It’s not clay; it’s a rendering made to look like clay. A good metaphor for hope. From: http://www.secondpicture.com/tutorials/3d/clay_render_in_3ds_max.html

talent we have.

Take another look at your word for the year and make sure it’s strong enough to last a whole year, to push you when you want to stop, and to be the chuck under your wheel so you don’t roll back.

That’s a strong hope.

–Quinn McDonald is a certified creativity coach. And the author of the Inner Hero Creative Art Journal, published by North Light Books.

A Word for 2014 and a Giveaway

defaultNever a friend of New Year’s resolutions, I recommend another ritual that’s more powerful and has more potential than New Year’s resolutions: Choosing a word for 2014.  You choose a word that will symbolize the year for you–set the intention or create a verbal amulet.

The word should be limber and supple, without any stiffness of punishment, or benchmarks to measure yourself with and find yourself coming up short.

Choose a word that has possibility for you–a word that will inspire you or keep you at peace, a word that makes you reach in anticipation or offers a rich depth of exploration.

Verbs are good, because they are action words. And taking action is a favorite step of mine to get unstuck or move ahead.  Of course, there are also the state of being verbs: is, am, are, was, were, be, being, been. Small verbs, but powerful.

Other people prefer nouns–things or ideas: creativity, intuition, freedom. Nouns can be things you hold in your hands–paper, pen, seeds, feathers. Or they can be things you hold in your heart: wishes, wisdom, peace.

Now is a good time, at the end of the year, to think of a word you can hold and use for all of 2014. Choose a word that will last, that will build you up and support you. You can choose a word that is both a verb and a noun.

You can, of course, choose a description of your first inner hero to honor in 2014. Something like Stubborn Kindness (which has a long history in my family), or Explorer, or Spark-Striker.

Your word can be any part of speech, and you can use it in as many ways as you תרגוםwant–present tense, active voice, transitive with an object or not. Use it as many ways as you can and see how you change it and how it changes you.

If you keep a journal, you can write it down and visit it every week or month and see how that word has shown up in your life at the end of every week and how you would like it to show up the next week. You can write it on a piece of paper and put it in your pocket and rediscover it every day. Write it on a key you use every day and remember it when you unlock the door.

What is the word you want to invite into your life for the year? Leave it in the comments, and tell us why. I’ll pick two winners on Friday and will send a copy of my new book Inner Hero Art Journal to the winners–as soon as I get my copies!

Update:  Pia from ColourCottage won one of the new Inner Hero books! The other winner was Suzanne Ourths–congratulations to both winners! As soon as my shipment arrives, two books will be on the way to new owners!

—Quinn McDonald is choosing a word for 2014. Right now, she is inclined to choose an inner hero and re-visit it once a month.