Welcome to the Year of the Yin Wood Sheep. I'm very excited about this year. Last year's Yang Wood Horse kicked my ass twice over. In retrospect it was all necessary, but it definitely wasn't easy. If you're prepared for it, it is possible to in some way direct the extreme change that is characteristic of the Yang Wood Horse, but I was not prepared. I let the year wash over me, taking with it a relationship, 2 office spaces, a religious community, a job, leaving me surrounded by relics I wasn't sure I really wanted. I have spent the past few months pulling myself back out of chaos.
Figuring out what you want often means shedding what you don't, so that's where I started. It was a way to honor the last year, to say "okay, Yang Wood Horse, you've made your point." It was also an extension of the silence and space I am actively cultivating. I have been prone to clutter, metaphorically and literally. I talk incessantly. I kept picking up part-time jobs. I hoarded books and art supplies like a crazy person. I never threw clothing away even if it was ugly or uncomfortable. It was more than time for a change. It felt like the Wood Horse was telling me, you'd better start doing something, or I'm going to have to do it for you.
I read Marie Kondo's "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up," and it was exactly the kind of extreme strategy I was looking for: pile everything you own in the middle of the room, take out only the things that bring you joy, and throw away everything else. I dragged my books off the shelves, clothes out of the closet, even the boxes of toys and children's books and old pictures that have been in my parents' garage for years. I sold hundreds of books to Powell's, gave 6 giant trash bags full of clothes to the women's shelter, gave a van full of stuff to the thrift store, took another van load to the trash. I gave away years worth of accumulated craft supplies. Then I threw away old love letters, childhood diaries, knick-knacks accumulated through years of travel. As I watched a box of stuffed animals and dollhouse furniture tipped into the donation bin, I silently wished for them to bring another child joy. They aren't bringing anyone joy sitting in a dusty box in the garage, or sold on Ebay to collectors like my father suggested. I felt like I was giving them a new life. I also felt like I just gave away my childhood, and I cried. And I let go.
I celebrated the New Year in silence. I walked, alone, for 4 hours. I couldn't stop, it felt like I had to walk through what I had just done. I stopped at a restaurant that I love and ate an elaborate meal, alone, pausing after every bite. I had wine and dessert. Then I kept walking.
I'm resisting the story that this clearing-out process is going to Fix Everything. Of course it won't. What it has done, though, is made space. Literal and metaphorical, space I urgently needed. This new Sheep Year will bring change, too, of course, but it is a quieter, more intentional kind. This is a year for collaboration, for laying the groundwork of long-term plans, for building a beautiful and stable home. Sheep can only move forward, but they don't run you over in the process. They work well with others. There were so many versions of myself contained in my accumulated stuff. Getting rid of it all was an acknowledgement that I have changed, many times, and I can honor the people I used to be without dragging them around. All that stuff really belonged to someone else.
As we start the new year, it's a good time to think about what you want your life to look like. This is the time to clear out the dust, reorganize, get rid of clutter. It's a good year for artistic projects, especially collaborative ones. It's good time for making beautiful spaces, repainting the kitchen, moving all the furniture and cleaning under the rugs. It's a good time for slow, steady, unstoppable progress.
Happy New Year!