5 ways to embrace the Year of the Snake

February 11, 2013 · 11 comments

in Inspiration

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As we slither into the Year of the Snake, I have been dragged against my will into its call for reflection. The most enigmatic creature of the Chinese zodiac is all about carefully contemplating solutions — and I have found one. For me, the challenge ahead is simple: I can NOT give in to inertia.

I really didn’t want to go there. But Lunar New Year’s Eve found me ailing in bed as the mighty blizzard Nemo blasted through the Northeast region. Maybe I had some sort of bug, or it could’ve simply been my body incubating a spontaneous detox. Whatever! The point is I spent  72 groggy hours sleeping and staring at my red bedroom walls, feeling like I was hiding inside of my own heart as the world around me froze into a silent, white scream.

Quite frankly, that’s a degree of intimacy with myself that I usually avoid this time of year because it gets too emotional. Jan. 8 would’ve brought a 28th wedding anniversary (if I hadn’t left my 18-year marriage). Jan. 10 marked my dad’s fatal heart attack 37 years ago. Feb. 9 rounds out this potentially tragic trifecta with the third anniversary of my mom’s death.

In winters past, I’ve managed to keep myself busy enough to “forget” these events or skim the surface of memory. But being in my sick had me wallowing in the vacuum left by the absence of them all. Yes, it’s true. Sometimes, I miss the security that comes from a life anchored by mother, father and marriage.

Whoa, wait….what am I saying?! This must be the low-grade fever talking. Reality check: My strict immigrant parents made me c-r-a-z-y. In the end, they were each in terrible physical shape, requiring tons of care. With their passing, we are all at peace, finally free. And while there were good things about the marriage, the baby daddy and I are much better off divorced as I explore new passions, romantic and otherwise (mostly otherwise, haha).

So the Year of the Snake gives me an opportunity to move ahead, supple with grace, shedding old skin. Travelling low to the ground will mean intimate encounters with others as well as myself. But the power is mine, if I choose to take it.

Make like a snake: 5 ways to beat inertia

Be real with myself. I am incredibly sentimental and I love the security of having a daily routine. But  flexibility is important like never before. One change is that I’ve realized swimming a few times a week at the health club isn’t working anymore — the chlorine was turning my hair to straw and my skin to parchment. So hello, treadmill and personal trainer! Also, my only child will be going away to college this fall. I’m starting to imagine ways to re-invent a daily household consisting of just me, the bossy little dog and three purring cats. Which leads to my next point….

Find people with shared interests. Pets are great but human company is nice too. Since many of my good friends either don’t live nearby or have schedules that rarely match up with mine, I’ve recently gone online to Meetup.com. This website lists thousands of activity groups that are searchable by topic, location and/or demographic. I’ve just joined two local groups (kayaking and hiking). And last night, I went to a house concert down the block where there were friendly folk, a pot luck dinner and of course, great music.

Take a fun class. I’ve been Googling around for dance schools in my area (take that you legless Snake, haha). It’s on my calendar to check out some local ballroom classes that offer socials, especially the ones with dance hosts — in other words, dudes that that are paid by the event organizer to hit the floor with the lovely single ladies.

Nurture myself. Getting sick reminded me to slow down; it has been good to rest. I also feel that there might be a spiritual journey ahead; in a universe filled with genuine evil, I am craving prayer. In recent weeks, I have also made time to read books just for the sheer pleasure of it.

Lighten up! As a single, working, divorced mom, I work extremely hard to hold things together. Lately, every day has been a mission. But the constant organizing had become too much. What happened to waking up and simply reveling in the happiness of a new day? Gotta get that back.

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So here I am, ready at last to throw off the covers and get out of bed. The last few days of hibernating were very good for me. Right now, winter is feeling brutally cold but nature is doing its thing and so am I.

Hope you all have a wonderful opening week of our snake-y year. May we internalize its mystic power, undulating energy and unblinking confidence. I’m feeling stronger already. xo

P.S. — Here’s what 12 inches of snow looks like on my deck.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Patty February 11, 2013 at 8:08 am

I have one more for your list, Betty. Don’t be so hard on yourself! You expect too much of yourself, more than you’d ever expect of any of your many friends. Also, I miss you! See you soon.xxoo

2 Bria @ West of Persia and Yoga With Bria February 11, 2013 at 9:09 am

I love this contemplative post, Betty. Like you, being under the weather (and the covers) for a few days gets me into a thinking AND feeling frame of heart and mind. May the Year of the Snake bring you joy, wisdom, and prosperity in every area.

3 Jenna Dailey February 11, 2013 at 9:19 am

I love this Betty, thanks so much for sharing your story. I hope this year brings you a whole new set of adventures and lovely people! Cheers :)

4 Christina February 11, 2013 at 9:55 am

Love all the fun things you are doing to get out there and be social! In this day and age we don’t have to be home unless we want to be. We’re all working on finding that perfect balance, but until then we just keep putting one foot in front of the other… have fun!

5 betty ming liu February 11, 2013 at 10:16 am

Patty, you know me too well! In lightening up, treating myself as my own friend is a good idea. Hope to see you soon too. xo

Thank you, Bria, and hope you feel better too. I’m definitely on the mend!

Jenna, glad you can relate. Getting out there in a room full of strangers is hard. But after the first encounter, they’re not strangers anymore, right?

Christina, f-u-n is the operative word. Thank you. :)

6 Kristine February 11, 2013 at 9:44 pm

Betty, I so enjoy reading your posts.

Yeah, like Brea says, “…frame of heart and mind.”

Will you elaborate on your paragraph,” So the Year of the Snake gives me an opportunity to move ahead, supple with grace, shedding old skin. Travelling low to the ground will mean intimate encounters with others as well as myself. But the power is mine, if I choose to take it.”

I’d enjoy hearing more about what you meant by that.

7 Gigi Lin February 11, 2013 at 10:34 pm

Great post, Betty!

Too often we forget to slow down and enjoy the moment. Distractions from electronics and other toys of the digital age contribute to this, which is why I really applaud your successful two weeks of vacation from extensive Facebook and Twittering!

8 betty ming liu February 12, 2013 at 7:39 pm

Hmmm, Kristine, you flatter me and I am happy to take the bait….to me, snakes are mesmerizing to watch. They are strong, deliberate, decisive and graceful. What gorgeous body movement — and I want that feeling in my core. I mean, really, can you imagine a snake rushing around multi-tasking???! If I could make like a snake, it might completely change my physical interactions with the world.

As for being on the ground, that’s the opposite of having a head in the clouds, sitting in an ivory tower or giving an opinion on things that are viewed through binoculars. Baby, if you’re on the ground or operating at the grassroots or street level, you are right there, in the moment! Getting thisclose to others is a form of intimacy.

So this is what the snake offers us as inspiration. If I were to go with its charm, it would mean shedding an old skin. Might be fun. :)

Gigi, I am still benefitting from those two weeks of unplugging. Email is much less of a burden; I check is less often and when I’m in it, I dispense of it much more quickly. I still sometimes miss Words for Friends, though. Overall, the frame of my heart and mind, as Brea calls it, is much, much more grounded. Thanks for checking in!

9 Tj&Mj February 15, 2013 at 8:28 am

Betty,
Good post. Sorry swimming didn’t work out for you. If you were here you might swim in some of the local hot springs. There is one that they put tripical fish in (including a couple of nurse sharks). I plan start swimming. Hiking? That probably won’t happen for awhile. Maybe you should try cross-country skiinig/snow shoeing. I am going on a Ski Trip with the VA. I am hopeing to get some winter camping in before it gets warm. I like winter camping because it is so peaceful and quiet. You don’t even need a tent… just a shovel to dig a snow cave.
I checked out thak link. Wow lots of groups. Some are a bit strange. Going dancing sounds fun. I learned ballroom dancing when I was a teenager.
Nice winter pics. i wish I could send you some of mine. Most people seem to dislike winter. I love it (except for high utility bills) Believe it or not I would say spring is my least favorite. (allergies) Of course if it is too hot I can go in the mountains. The latest I have gone skiing has been July 4th.
It has been sudgested I join the Bountiful Jeep Posse which is seeking members (The jeep posse is the first and oldest Jeep Posse in the world) What do you think? I have two jeeps.

10 Tj&Mj February 18, 2013 at 1:48 am

Betty,
Actully I have been trying to GAIN some inertia. I need to put in my application for Graduate School. This is actually not that hard. Since i will be applying to my Alma Mater, I just have to apply and pay the fee. No need to turn in transcrips or thak the GRE.(The math department requires GRE for all but education and Statitistics) The transistion from Masters to PhD. is seamless too.
Thanks for the links though. It sould be nice to have a social life.So kayaking and hiking, those are both things that I have done my share of, as well as, Ballroom Dancing.
Sorry to hear that you have such a rough time this time of year. Anniversaries of bad events are ,for the most part, are something I don’t even remember. I remember only the good things and feel that we will all be together with our loved ones one day. The benefits of faith I guess.
I hope you have a good year!

11 betty ming liu February 18, 2013 at 6:07 am

TJ, anything to get outta the house sounds like a good idea. You have a great year too!

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