This week was an especially intense one for me.
Astrologically speaking there was a (super) new moon in Aquarius (and new moons have always affected me more greatly than full); additionally, Venus went direct and Mercury went into the sign of Pisces.
Yet, even for those who don’t follow the planets (or look up at the night sky to see our gorgeous, beckoning moon), these weren’t the only special things that happened.
My husband mentioned to me last night, as we cooked dinner in the kitchen, that Friday was the Chinese New Year—and we both got to wondering if this ancient celebration is more impacting than we consciously recognize.
And this year is the year of the horse.
A little background: the Chinese zodiac, or Shēngxiào, is a calendar system that originated in the Han dynasty (206-220BC). The years within its 12-year cycle are named after an animal: the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig, in that order. According to this system, the universe is made up of five elements—earth, water, fire, wood and metal—which interact with these 12 animals, resulting in the specific character of the year ahead.
So, last night as I stood in my leopard-print apron in the kitchen, I decided that this year would be not only be the year of the horse—it would also be my year of the unicorn.
The year of the unicorn, to me, looks something like this:
1. I will take tiny steps towards my larger goals and see them as productive rather than taking ginormous leaps in the wrong direction because it’s easier, faster and comes with instant gratification.
2. I will honor those around me by listening, and I will remember that listening and hearing are not the same thing.
3. I will believe in magic. While I don’t have to believe in witches or wizards or get on the pop-zombie train, I will believe that life can be sparkly and filled with awe, even when I hit a rough patch.
4. I will remember that I’m wonderful. I don’t always have to look for areas of myself to improve upon or blame myself for not being a perfect mom, wife or friend. Instead, I’ll spend more time recognizing the ways in which I bring beauty into our world, so that I might bring more.
5. I will make wishes. I don’t necessarily believe in the power of prayer for asking, but I do believe in saying thank you for what I have. That said, I’ll spend more time during this year of the unicorn planting seeds of hope, and then I’ll nourish them with a touch of dreaming.
6. I’ll remember how much my small actions matter by practicing tiny, helpful gestures every day. These little gestures can be as simple as a smile, holding a door, or being kind in the face of someone with a severe case of the grumpy grouchies.
7. Unicorns symbolize purity and so do I. I’ve written many times about how letting go isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. However, the white body of the unicorn symbolizes purity and grace—and I’ll envision the unicorn when I have a moment of human imperfection that leaves me feeling nothing like this—because who I am today is not who I was yesterday and who I am right now as I sit here typing is not who typed the previous sentence. Each day is a new opportunity to be a unicorn.
8. I’ll have fun. The new year is a celebration, of those who lived before us (aka our ancestors) and for those we celebrate with now. Obviously, life isn’t always a bouquet of daisies and, personally, I believe in hard work, but life is also supposed to be enjoyed. So here’s to doing just that.
Eight is supposedly a lucky number in China, hence the eight things on this unicorn list.
Hmmm, in that case, maybe we should end this article by making a wish.
Photo: Rob Boudon/Flickr.
This article was first published by elephant journal.