2020 golden metal rat painted texture on plasticine
2020 is the Year of the Metal Rat in Chinese Astrology.

Close your eyes.  Take a deep breath in.  Relax your eyes, your jawline, your shoulders.  Now breathe out, slowly.  Clear your mind.  Let go of your running thoughts.  Try.  Take another deep breath in, slowly, letting your belly expand and fill up with your breath.  Hold it there, in your belly, for eight seconds.  Keep your mind still, empty.  Breathe out, slowly.

Now, eyes still closed, take another intentional breath in, expanding your belly and filling it up, slowly, full of care.  Imagine your lungs.  A pink, clear, healthy, expansive, powerful engine in your torso, capable of harnessing your life force as it relates to the world around you, taking in clean air from the atmosphere – your most basic instinct and complex mechanism required to exist on our planet.  Each breath moving clean air into and out of the lungs, facilitating gas exchange with the internal environment by bringing in oxygen and flushing out carbon dioxide.  Exhale, slowly.

We take our breathing for granted.  We take breath for granted.  First, simply taking the time to concentrate on your breath through meditation for ten minutes each day can actually extend your life.  Consider the health choices you make to protect or damage your lungs – smoking tobacco or marijuana?  Consider the environment – do you believe we need to protect the Earth, do we need our lawmakers to address global warming and other issues contaminating our planet?  Consider an outbreak of a new, highly contagious and deadly virus that causes severe acute respiratory disease.  Consider a police officer’s knee on the back of a restrained black man’s neck, suppressing his breath until he loses consciousness and dies.

Breathe it in.  Exhale it out.

Five plus years ago I studied holistic nutrition and the program I completed leaned heavily on the teachings of Traditional Chinese Medicine.  I was especially interested in the study of “Five Element Theory”, an ancient practice utilizing the five elements – wood, fire, earth, metal, water – to diagnose, treat and heal humans based on their innate, unchanging element association.  The theory may be used to help form a diagnosis when there is conflicting signs and symptoms associated with the five elements.  Additionally, the elements are useful for assisting patients with nutritional therapy and working through emotional issues.  The Five Element theory is based on the observation of the natural cycles and interrelationships in both our environment and within ourselves.

Everyone has a “dominant element” based on behaviors and physical aspects – color below the eyes, sound of voice, odors, smells, emotions, seasons, body type, development stage, environment, and organs.  And it never changes.

For example, my element is Water.  It always has been and always will be.  It never changes from the day you are born to the day you die.

According to TCM, the element of Metal is associated with the Lungs.

5 element theory

According to TCM, Metal/Lung is associated with the nose (breathing), grief, autumn, dryness, crying, the color white (as it appears when light hits the face, casting a subtle shade below the eyes – this has nothing to do with skin color or pigment), and the west (directional).  Too much sadness and grieving can harm the Lung.  “Letting things go” is a healthy way to stimulate Lung function and get rid of physical and emotional baggage.  The Metal/Lung is associated with boundaries.

I meditated on this. 

What are some of the specific causes of sadness and grieving affecting our collective Lung?  Inequality.  Racism.  Sexism.  Intolerance.  Hate.  Greed.  Violence.  War.  Self-serving Ego.  What else?  How we treat others.  How we treat our planet. 

Keep going.

Note:  If you decide to meditate on this too, add your own ideas and expand on the causes.  Breathe it in.  Exhale it out.

How has the sadness and grieving of the world harmed our collective Lung?  What do we need to “let go” to stimulate our collective Lung function and to rid ourselves of physical, emotional baggage?  How do we create healthy boundaries?  What is essentialism?  What needs to go?  What can no longer be tolerated or accepted?  What has to change NOW? How do we remove these toxins to our existence so that we can heal our collective emotional wounds and put an end to the sadness and grief of the world?

How are these painful circumstances of 2020 actually leading us to clean air, repaired, healthy breathing for the collective Lung?

Breathe in.  Exhale out.

2020 was supposed to be a year about clarity and “perfect vision”.  For so many – this was going to be a big “make things happen”, “take action” year.  But before we knew it, we found ourselves in the midst of a frightening pandemic with a dangerously contagious coronavirus that attacks the lungs.  This virus spread across the globe quickly and shut down our country.

Still in the course of the pandemic, we found ourselves in the midst of a national civil rights crisis – turned movement – following a horrifying episode of police brutality in Minneapolis after a video revealed a police officer forced his knee to the neck of restrained George Floyd, a black man arrested for a minor offense.  Floyd could be seen begging for help with his now immortalized, haunting last words… “I can’t breathe.”

Take that all in.  Now Breathe.

According to the Chinese Zodiac the Year of the Metal Rat began on January 25, 2020 and runs through February 11, 2021.

I don’t believe in coincidences.

The metaphysical world is part of quantum physics, part of the micro and macro energetics of the universe.  When you begin to understand concepts like quantum physics, lightyears, gravity, black holes, organic chemistry and microbiology – well, you recognize that some people rely on the concept of coincidence to offer a pass for a concept which they cannot understand or explain.

Science shows us the most elegant mapwork of our universe, our galaxy, our planet, our microscopic world down to tiniest particulate matter – the unseen particles that have grave impact on climate and precipitation that adversely affect human health in ways additional to direct inhalation.

As big as we can imagine and as tiny as we can fathom – there is a specific energetic order and energy to everything.

Breathe that in.  Exhale that out.

All matter here on earth is material born from the death of stars.  Who or what created this is where religion and philosophy offer opportunity for opinion, faith, or whatever you feel.  But, make no mistake, the order of the energetics that make up atoms and particles and compounds and structure and dimensions and stretches of light and distance – it is all very ornate and complex like fractals, DNA, negative or positive ions, galaxies, star nurseries, black holes, or the incredible respiratory system of two lungs located near the backbone on either side of the heart with millions of cells that make up trachea, bronchi, terminal bronchioles, Alveolar ducts, sacs, and alveoli… a marvelous and perfect system that functions so that we can breathe.

Some people operate on a higher level of consciousness than others – depending on how they are raised, how they are suppressed, how they are traumatized, how they are restricted, how they are taught, how they are elevated, how they are wired, how they are willing or encouraged to grow.  That said, some people will get this immediately.  And some will recoil with discomfort because they don’t understand or “agree” with what I’m putting down.  Restrictive ideas or beliefs are tied to what often holds us back or prevents us from expanding our consciousness.

I can no longer put energy in those who are just unwilling to grow, change, evolve, elevate or expand.

Breathe in. Exhale out.

These traumatic episodes came to be in the Year of the Metal Rat for a reason.

I do not subscribe to a single metaphysical concept.  Let me be clear.  This has nothing to do with my faith or religion.  Because this has nothing to do with faith or religion.  This is about opening up to ancient concepts that draw us closer to the universe, to nature, to the health and order of our planet, and to the choice to act in kindness and compassion or hate and oppression.  It’s about yin and yang equal and opposite energies that combined bring together harmony – and you can call that whatever you want.  It’s bigger than one philosophical concept or regional, cultural understanding.  It’s bigger than that.

Breathe that in.  Exhale that out.

Here’s more about what I learned about the Chinese zodiac Rat and Metal combined and how it relates to the year 2020.

There is a lot of content available about Chinese astrology.  Again.  This is not about religion.  This is not about paganism or atheism or the need to be right.  This is about a formulaic way ancient Chinese philosophy engaged the study of energetics, nature and metaphysics to offer deeper consciousness towards our physical world, nature and human experience.

The Rat is the very first sign from the twelve animal cycle of Chinese astrology, and for this reason 2020 is considered a year of new beginnings and renewals.

According to many predictions around the Chinese calendar, the year 2020 is to be quite challenging, especially health-wise, but also financially with obstacles, impediments and unpredictable situations, which will mainly occur during the first half of the year.

How is this measured?

“This situation is caused by the negative energy of the annual ‘Flying Star 5’, the star of destruction and disasters, which will have a strong influence during the Metal Rat year” (

Quick explanation.  We’re connecting, once again, to Five Element Theory.  The “Flying Star 5” is an important concept in Feng Shui, the Chinese practice of creating sacred and clean or clear space to address aspects of human life and balance.

Xuan Kong Fei Xing is a discipline in Feng Shui and is an integration of the principles of Yin Yang, the interactions between the Five Elements, the Eight Trigrams, the Lo Shu numbers, and the 24 Mountains, by using time, space and objects to create an astrological chart to analyze positive auras and negative auras of a building.

When “Flying Star 5” appears (there are 9 flying stars in Feng Shui) you can expect plague, lawsuits, catastrophe, disloyalty, the worst amongst the others, and death.

Breathe in.  Exhale out.

“The vital force of the planet is weak, which is why this year you might feel stressed even by the smallest of things.”

“During the first half of the year you will have more free time and you will be able to rest and make plans for the future.  You will consolidate the relationship with your life partner and you will spend more time with your children.” (

Does any of this sound familiar?  When the world shut down and social distancing turned to #shelterinplace – we received the fullness of this prediction.  More stress.  More free time.  More rest.  More time to make plans for the future.  Consolidated relationship with your life partner.  More time with  your children.

Personally, all of that was my reality from March 13th to the present.

The year 2020 is also under the influence of “Flying Star 2” which is positioned in the south, causing all kinds of health issues.

“The Metal Rat year is difficult and full of obstacles for the Water Chinese zodiac signs (Rat, Pig), but the other signs will also encounter many hurdles throughout the year and so they will need to be more cautious than ever.” (

Wash your hands for 26 seconds or while reciting the alphabet.  Wear masks when you must leave your house.  Only leave your house for the essentials.

Breathe in.  Exhale out.

“Metal signs (Monkey, Rooster) will face many difficult moments and they will be forced to fight fiercely for their rights…  The Year of the Rat has ups and downs, but nothing of worth ever comes easy.  During the first half of the year the health of the Chinese zodiac signs will be much improved, their energy and zest for life coming back in full force.” (

Take that in.  Breathe that in.  Exhale that out.

Going back to the appearance of  “Flying Star 5” with expected plague, lawsuits, catastrophe, disloyalty, the worst amongst the others, and death…  it’s clear how that corresponds to the Covid-19 pandemic and related economic disaster.  But it is also clearly related to the homicide of George Floyd.

His murder is undoubtedly related to the plague of systemic racism in America.  His murder is going to be related to lawsuits, or law and order, or the legal system and a huge, sweeping change that has been a long time coming!  His murder was a catastrophe that hit even harder during a global pandemic.  Disloyalty is now a clean and clear line drawn as seen in protests that sprung up all across the globe as a result of Floyd’s murder – you are either loyal to the cause to end systemic racism and the homicide of black people in America or your are disloyal and not a part of the movement towards change.  This divide is certainly bringing out the worst in some and this, too, will come to a head.  It took the senseless death of a restrained black man to finally erupt and wake up so many who had been sleeping.  Many black lives have been taken by law enforcement and racism.  Seeing millions put on face masks and risk a pandemic for something greater than the individual, something greater than life or death – to break the chains of racism and equality in the most exhaustive, enough already, we are at a breaking point way – is inspiring.  And it’s about time.

Breathe in.  Exhale out.

So, when we think about 20/20 and perfect vision and a year of making big things happen, well, I don’t think the year is a wash.  I think we’re getting exactly what we envisioned.

In a Biblical sense, the plague and deaths and catastrophe points to the end of days.  Yes.  I believe it is indeed the end of the world… as we know it.

It took a pandemic and a heightened video evidenced murder of a black man to wake us up and to begin to heal the collective Lung.

Imagine the gift of having a ventilator in a hospital room.  Imagine the tragedy of not having access to one and being left to die.  Imagine all the healthcare workers who had to suit up and work in the front lines trying to save lives, many losing their own.

Let us all take a moment to breathe in for those who have been sick or died from Covid-19.  Exhale slowly.

Imagine being a black person hunted down by racists or being brutalized by police.  Imagine a knee on the back of your neck, after dealing with sickness from Covid-19, surviving a pandemic, but not surviving a police officer’s unnecessary force that stole your very last breath.  Imagine 8:46 minutes of gasping for air and struggling to mutter, “I can’t breathe”.

Let us all take a moment, 8:46 minutes to be exact, to breathe in for George Floyd.  Breathe for him.  Breathe for every black person murdered by systemic racism.  #blacklivesmatter

Exhale, slowly.

So we move and change and learn and grow – we must revitalize the vital force of the planet.  This year is the opportunity to heal the collective Lung.

Return this meditation to the Lung.

How has the sadness and grieving of the world harmed our collective Lung?  What do we need to “let go” to stimulate our collective Lung function and to rid ourselves of physical, emotional baggage?  How do we create healthy boundaries?  What is essentialism?  What needs to go?  What can no longer be tolerated or accepted?  What has to change NOW? How do we remove these toxins to our existence so that we can heal our collective emotional wounds and put an end to the sadness and grief of the world?

How are these painful circumstances of 2020 actually leading us to clean air, repaired, healthy breathing for the collective Lung?

Breathe in.  Exhale out.

Thank you for taking the time to read along and meditate through this exploration of 2020 The Year of the Metal Rat and Lung Energy with me.










New Tools in My Toolbox

These Are the Best Things I’ve Discovered to Help Me Live with More Intention, Precision and Vision in 2020.

Grandfather's Tools


It’s only February and I’m already exhausted in 2020.

I want more naps.  I need to cut back on my caffeine dependency.  And I needed to hire a life coach who works specifically with new moms to hep me get my life back on track after my first year in a postpartum fog.

There are certain things missing from my life that once gave me endless energy and laser sharp focus before baby.  I exercised a lot.  I was a runner, hiker, golfer, tennis player, and occasional yoga student.

Now-a-days, to maintain energy, I drink a lot of water and take supplements.  I chase after a toddler.  I consider the steps I take when grocery shopping to be an equivalent to the first mile a marathoner runs.  I take it one step at a time.  And I often break off a small piece of a 75+% dark chocolate bar stashed in my tea cup cabinet, an indulgence and medicine all wrapped into one bittersweet energy boost.

I found my life coach on one of my favorite sites – Motherly.  Her business is called Mother Nurture.   My intuition pushed me to write to MN owner, Katelyn Denning.  We each have a son born a couple weeks apart (January babes) and I just felt like this woman had the tools I needed to help me get my energy back, to help me focus and to help me get things done.

After just one session with Katelyn I already feel better!  I have hope.  I have vision.  And possibly a renewed sense of self appreciation needed to actually put my vision into action and fruition.

I’m learning all kinds of new things from a new mom lens.  I think [hope] it’s making me a better person.  I have found some short cuts and detours and little breaks of inspiration that keep me going and help me to stay focused and energized – tools that I either didn’t have or didn’t use in my toolbox until now.

I’m happy to share them here.

What a revelation!  My life coach gave me a few assignments to work on with the instruction to use a timer to keep me on track [and also to prevent me from not using my time wisely – getting distracted or lost in thought].  Having a timer made me accountable for my time!  Imagine that!  I now use a timer on my phone for all kinds of projects and assignments I’m working on, as well as other activities that can suck up time like using social media.  I’m saving time, reclaiming time and owning my time!

Mindfulness, mindfulness, mindfulness.  It’s been one of the top buzz words for over a decade.  It’s been named “word of the year” off and on since 2014.  It’s even been considered by the New York Times as having a “muddied meaning” (April 2015).  Still you find mindfulness everywhere – on coffee mugs, water bottles, probably even on shampoo bottles.  There is something to the concept of quieting the mind in this day and age of mental noise and mindlessness.  Gurus lecture about it on podcasts and Tedtalks.  It promises something healing, revitalizing, and grounding.  Personally, I have never had much success at quieting the neurotic voice in my head!  In yoga classes I would be anxiously sorting through too many to do lists, re-hashing conversations, and trying not to forget things that aren’t on my to do lists.  I would try to meditate at home but then the cat would sit on me or I’d get the giggles.  Since I now have a baby in my home, I have found myself in these woozy, subconscious, thoughtless moments that I have come to love.  I’m talking about the quiet time when I’m nursing my son.  He often dozes off and I often space out.  I think of nothing.  I’m not asleep, but I’m not awake either.  I just am.  I am quiet and happy and at peace with this sweet babe nestled into me.  I never contemplated the quieted mind that came about with nursing as anything other than checking out from sleep deprivation and new-momness.  I allowed myself to be tired and to relax into this time.  There was nothing else to be done while I was nursing.  The function of feeding my child took over.  It’s a gift.  It is the consummate lesson of letting go and being present.  Nursing, for me, is meditation.  And in emptying my mind in these moments, I am able to be more mindful when I need to come back to whatever else is going on.

This kind of feels like cheating, but it’s not!  I have found ways to be present with my son while simultaneously exercising some much needed self-care.   I used to work out a lot.  I don’t work out at all anymore.  I know this is just part of my transition from pre-baby self to mama self.  So I’m being gentle and kind with myself.  Instead of running, I move around the house like a rabid racoon putting stuff away, cleaning up after my toddler eats, running up and down the basement stairs to do laundry, etc.  One of my favorite new mom exercises is setting myself into yoga positions while my son plays with his favorite non-plastic toys (shout out to Melissa & Doug and Hape!).  But, yeah, he has some classic plastic ones, too.  Anyway.  Back to me.  My favorite yoga position while also playing with my lil boy is… shavasana, or corpse pose.  Yup.  It still counts.

I was never really all that into candles in my pre-baby life.  But now I light up for all kinds of mom-sense nonsense.  Doesn’t matter.  It makes me feel better.  It even helps to energize me.  I love clean, sustainable, aromatherapy candles that smell like real things – not artificial chemical toxins.  Wellness candles are my jam.  I already wrote about my “Grounded” candle a couple posts back.  I light it up every time I need to feel my feet on the ground, to feel like I am still able to walk about without falling off the face of the earth – because, let me tell you, sometimes as a new mom I feel like I could fall off at any moment and drift off into a black hole.  So burning a fresh, clean candle that has grounding properties within it really, really helps.

Okay, it’s not water, or exercise or crack cocaine.  But I really do get energized by certain media material.  I’m a non-news junkie!  I love new mom and parenting podcasts.  Right now I’m listening to Mom and Dad Are Fighting on Slate.  I listen to a lot of moms talk about mom stuff on TED Talks.  I really like the suggested list of best TED Talks for mothers on  Reading various parenting blogs has been a life saver – Scary Mommy is saved as one of my top favorites.  And I listen to a bunch of different playlists on YouTube.  I just got bored with Pandora.  Right now I’m listening to a Girl Power playlist with the likes of Katy Perry, Alicia Keys, Lizzo, Lady Gaga.  You know the songs.  This Girl is a Firecracker on Fire, Good as Hell, and She was Born This Way!   Whatever.  This playlist gets me fired up.

I’m not the most tech savvy person.  But I really want to learn how to do certain things.  Sometimes I can teach myself how to use a new app and I’m stunned at the results.  Proud of myself!  I wouldn’t say I have mastered Canva – but I make some pretty cool marketing posts for Instagram, in particular, using this creative app.  I love it.  I have a TikTok account but I still don’t get it.  I set up an app to manage my nanny’s payroll – Nanny Pay Advisor – and I feel like a real boss!  I discovered Otter and now record interviews and conversations I want to save and even transcribe!  This has been a revelation!  I will showcase my Otter skills in an upcoming post about breastfeeding after six months – so stay tuned!

This is just the beginning.  I’m learning how to be a better version of me, the new me, the new mom me.  And I’m starting to feel pretty good about myself again – more energized, more clear!

I’d love to hear how other moms are getting their groove back, evolving and getting re-energized!