Phoenix or Rooster Or Just Plain Chicken?
Feeling stressed and baffled and frustrated? Join the vast multitudes here, there, and everywhere. It seems as though the whole world is in turmoil and in so many critical situations outcome is extremely uncertain. For me, it’s heartening to know that a great deal is happening despite the lack of media coverage; people on every level in every country are working to the best of their abilities to prevent the hijacking of progressive programs and protect the vulnerable whose health and well being and financial security are being undermined for the benefit of the kleptocrats.
However, unless we are movers and shakers (and thankfully some fine people definitely are), it can be doubly depressing to feel both horrified by happenings and unable to see a way to be of true service. This is a dangerous position, since it saps our energy and our will to strive. Instead of despair, consider the benefits of clarity and new beginnings. January had two new moons, and the second one brought the Chinese New Year, another chance to create a new reality, personally, nationally, and globally. If the personal level seems inconsequential, think again; all deep social change comes from the people not governments. Pogo famously said “We have met the enemy and he is us,” but he might just as well have said “We have met our saviors and they are us.”
A Change Is Gonna Come
Chinese New Year is a moveable feast, based on lunar cycles rather than a calendar date. 2016, a Monkey year, was full of chaos and confusion. 2017 is a Rooster year, a time to wake up, work together collaboratively, and heed the call to do whatever we can. If we don’t, it’s quite possible that the year will just be Chicken time. Fortunately, another Rooster keynote is clarity. When we are able to quiet our busy minds through meditation, walking, gardening, housework, whatever brings us peace, we can discover in ourselves the deep gift of clear vision. When we dig deep into our own soul work, a Rooster year becomes a Phoenix year.
My daughter was born in a Rooster year, and this year, this very day, she changed her legal name to reflect her true identity as a woman. As her mom, I’m both proud and worried about what the world holds for gender fluid folks. I also salute her courage and support her emerging clarity in every way I can. My own digging showed me (eventually; it’s not been an easy path) that it is time to radically simplify my life. Thus, I’m getting ready to sell my huge house and move in with my son and daughter-in-love and grandkids until a little house opens up for me in a local low income housing community.
Give It Where It Counts
To get there from here, I must re-home the many, many things that have accreted around me over time. Ironically, I spent over a year clearing out both my own home and my mother’s so that she and her favorite furnishings and belongings could move in with me. That lengthy process felt like a truly clean sweep, yet now that I’m preparing to move into a tiny guest suite, then a small home, I’m horrified to see just how much STUFF still surrounds me. A favorite book by Julie Morgenstern called When Organization Is Not Enough taught me that until I know why I hang onto stuff, getting rid of it will just trigger the accumulation of something more. However, I’ve learned that when I know something dear will be both useful and appreciated, I give cheerfully and don’t look back.
This time I’m ransacking closets and cupboards, finding homes for everything from warm clothing and extra bedding to hundreds of paper napkins (don’t ask) and ridiculous amounts of kitchen gear. I’ve learned that some big companies that accept drop off donations are actually not non-profits, so I prefer to take a little more time and effort to get things straight to people in need. Cold weather clothing, shoes, and boots go to Mary’s Place, a Seattle day shelter for unhoused women and children. Bedding and kitchen stuff goes to local refugee families. Decorative stuff goes to a huge rummage sale raising funds for homeless animals. Outdoor furniture and extra garden tools, pots, and hoses go to the local low income housing community. Plant flats and pots go to kids who want to grow plants for Hannah’s Garden, a flower-and-edibles-filled part of Owen’s Playground, an accessible play space used by all ages all year round.
All my life I’ve had a dream about living in a community based on voluntary simplicity. In some ways, low income housing is far from that, since some folks would definitely prefer a career path that might lead higher up the income ladder. However, people of all ages may choose to live where a modest income will suffice. For retirees like me, this one combines a pleasant community with shared goals and plenty of opportunity to be of service even when physical ability dwindles. I’m already joining the P-Patch garden committee and helping out with landscaping, and look forward to other ways to connect with my (hopefully) future neighbors.
To get there, I need to be ready to move quickly when the opportunity to move arises. I’ve set myself a goal of clearing out a closet, a cupboard, a drawer or a shelf every day. I’m also doing some financial planning, so that any “excess” money can go to support people and programs that are dear to my heart. By early summer, I hope to be truly divested of all the extras. At that point, I expect I may know a lot more about myself than I do now. As the year unrolls for all of us, may our inner Phoenix and Rooster and Chicken find clarity, insight, tolerance, and heartening direction for the life to come.