6 Things You Can Do Right Now to Change Your Life & Stop Worrying


6 Things You Can Do Right Now to Change Your Life and Stop Worrying

Worry gets into all the crevices of our lives. We worry about our jobs, our kids, our relationships, money, and a million other things every single day. It’s no wonder we feel like we’re not getting things done the way we’d like.

Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be this way. To change your life and stop worrying, ask yourself these quick questions:

What Are You Really Worried About?

Many times, worry is a mask for something else entirely. A hard look and some pointed questions might be necessary to get to the heart of the matter. On the other hand, once you have a clear understanding of what the real issue is, it’s easier to address the problem and stamp out the worry completely.

Is This Even Possible?

Worry inflates everything to monster proportions. If your worry seems slightly ridiculous, it probably is. Take a step back and ask yourself just how likely this outcome is. Worry can’t stand up under this kind of scrutiny.

Is This Something I Can Control?

We’re very good at worrying about something we can’t change. Seriously, what difference does it make if it snows tomorrow? Nothing we do can keep the flakes from falling. Accept sometimes you’re just going to have to go with the flow and adapt to the circumstances.

Does this Affect Me Today?

Worries about the future can really derail your life today. If you’re worried about something far off, it’s time to take a step back. Ask yourself a fundamental follow-up question if you’re concerned about the future: “Is there something I can do today that will prevent this outcome tomorrow?” If so, now you have a plan of action. Get to it!

Am I Spending Too Much Time?

Obsessive worry doesn’t help anyone. If you find yourself circling back to the same concern over and over, you might need help breaking out of this cycle. Consider talking to someone, such as a good friend or even a counselor or trained professional, to help you break out of this vicious cycle.

Why Do I Care What Others Think?

If you’re worried about the opinions of others, why? If you’re concerned about impressing your boss, there are better ways to do this than worrying. More often than not, though, you’re going to find most people’s opinions really don’t matter. Don’t let them get to you.

Once you have the answers to these questions, you’ll find it’s easy to get your thoughts back on track. Worry becomes a thing of the past when we’re mindful of it, and don’t let it become obsessive. Imagine the difference a life without so much worry will make.

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2022: Year of the Water Tiger

2022: Year of the Water Tiger

Lunar New Year 2022 arrives on February 1st and brings us the Year of the Yang Water Tiger. The energy actually changes on February 4th. You may also see it referred to as the Black Tiger, since black is the color of Water in Chinese energetics.

What does the Tiger have in store for 2022?

According to Chinese philosophy, we have the concepts of Yin and Yang, and Heaven, Earth and Humanity. The way these elements combine determines the energy for the year.

[Note: If you want to skip the technical part, just skip this section. It’s here for people who understand and/or want more info. 🙂  ]

Heaven and Earth

Every year is either Yin or Yang, and they alternate, so there will never be two Yin or two Yang years in a row.

Last year was Yin Metal Ox, so we know 2022 must be a Yang year.

The element that precedes the specific animal is the Heaven energy, or the Heavenly Stem. (“Heaven” is not meant in any religious sense. It means the sky/universe, as opposed to the energy of the planet.)

The animal represents the Earth energy, or the Earthly Branch.

The Heavenly Stem this year is Water, and the Earthly Branch is the Tiger, or Wood element.

In the cosmology of “Heaven, Earth and Humanity”, we the people, being “Humanity”, live in between Heaven and Earth. Because we’re just little people living in between the gigantic energies of the planet and the universe, we’re affected by them and the changing energy every year.

Parents and Children

Let’s first consider the relationship between the Heaven and Earth energies of Water  and Wood. Heaven, or Yang, gives birth to Earth, or Yin, so we have the Heaven energy of Water giving birth to Wood. This is the natural and proper flow of Qi.

In the five Elements creation/ production cycle, Water gives birth to Wood, or is the parent of Wood. Since our elements in 2022 are Water and Wood, we have a second parent-child relationship, which is again the natural flow of energy, so they should get along well.

The parent “gives birth to” and supports the child. This a natural and harmonious relationship between the elements and there is no conflict between them.

We have the correct order of flow between Heaven and Earth, and within the Five Elements cycle with no conflicts or counter-flow between them.

What Does This Mean?

Since Heaven is “above us” (the sky and heavens are up above us), it relates to things/ people “above” us, or that have power over us. This can mean parents, bosses or the government, that generally have some sort of power or control over us.

The last couple of years have not been harmonious, but 2022 bodes well for improved relationships between those “above” us, and those “below”. The natural flow of energy in the relationship between these two elements means there should be more support from those above to those below, just like a parent supports a child.

We can expect to see things shift from the attitudes of 2021 where employers and governments tried to over-control people, and the people weren’t having it, because that was the energy present at the time. Some of the effects of this energy that come to mind are the shortage of employees and many unfilled job openings. The “children”/ employees didn’t want excess control, so they quit.

In 2022, we should expect more peaceful support and the “parents and children” getting along better. Employers should start to treat their employees better, so we may see more job openings filled in the coming months as employees feel better supported.

Nature of the Elements

The Nature of Wood / Tiger

Now let’s consider the nature of the Tiger. It’s a big cat. If you’re a cat person, or live with a cat, you understand the nature of the Tiger. (I’m owned by a cat, and he’s on my lap right now helping me write this.)

Cats are highly intelligent and generally represented as regal, especially the big cats like tigers. They are the rulers of the universe in their own minds.

Since cats are meticulous about their grooming and appearance, being well-groomed this year will be expected. The opposite look may be detrimental for success this year.

Cats sleep most of the day, and when awake, may chill out or have intense bursts of energy. They can sometimes be a bit demanding when they’re awake and want something.

Think of tigers in the wild. They sleep, hunt (big burst of intense energy), eat, meticulously groom themselves, and sleep some more, with maybe some play time in between. They’re sprinters, rather than distance runners.

Next, we need to consider the nature of the Yang Wood element, because the Tiger represents it. Yang Wood is like a big tree, like a Redwood or Giant Sequoia. They’re not flexible like smaller trees or plants, but hard and unbending.

The nature of the Earth energy in 2022 will be like a cat. It should be sleepy /calm most of the time, with periods of intense sprints of activity.

It may be somewhat demanding to keep up with when it happens, because it may be unyielding, but remember, it’s a cat, and will want a nap sooner rather than later. The intense periods should be short.

Plan for this and take care of yourself so when the bursts of intensity come you can flow with it. Then take a nap. Be a like a cat to stay in harmony with the energy.

Trees are also calm unless something external affects them, like a storm. Trees are considered to be in alignment with Heaven and Earth and are very tranquil. That’s one reason it feels good to be in a forest or near trees. 2022 is an excellent time to be in nature with trees. This calming influence of big trees (Yang Wood) should also bring some calming energy to the year.

Nature of Water

The Water energy in 2022 is Yang water. Yang Water is like the ocean, the Great Lakes or a very large river like the Amazon, Mississippi, or Yangtze. It’s big, powerful water. We’re not talking about puddles or clouds or mist, but its exact opposite.

It can be powerful, washing away everything in its path, when it’s stirred up.


When we look at the Water and Wood together, because of the harmonious parent-child relationship, they should get along fairly well. The intense times may be like a parent saying “go clean your room”, but then should calm again. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, just intense.

Water gives birth to Wood. We water plants to feed and nourish them so they’ll grow. Wood needs Water to grow and thrive. This is harmonious.

Wood also is the start of Spring and the new year. This year will be a good year to start and grow new things, so if you’re thinking of starting or growing anything, this is a good year to do it. There is good support for it to grow and thrive. It should be good for new and growing businesses.

Wood also represents kindness, compassion, healing, and medicine, especially herbal medicine. It should be a good year for business in these industries, and any other industry related to wood or working with wood, trees, and/ or plants, like food or farming.

Water industries like plumbing and shipping should be strong, although there could be problems from storms.

Metal is the weakest element this year, so industries associated with metal, metal-working, and/or use metal may suffer. Metal is also associated with truth and justice, so it may not be a good year for progress in those areas. That doesn’t mean we won’t see any truth or justice, just that they’ll have a harder time this year because the element is weak.


According to ancient Chinese texts, the atmospheric nature of Wood is wind. The nature of Water is cold, and also represents actual water, like oceans, rivers, etc. It refers to water, rather than rain, because the Earth element is in charge of clouds and rain. So even though it’s a water year, that doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll have excessive rain. The Water element is more about coldness.

That tells us about what sort of weather to expect: cold and windy is a good summary.

Temperatures may be on the cool side all year, and very cold in winter. (Caveat: global warming does have an effect, so it’s become a little more challenging to predict. This is what the weather should be like in general, but any excessive heat can be attributed to global warming, rather than the energy of the year.)

Because it’s a Yang year, the winds will be strong and the cold in winter may be severe, especially if there is wind involved.

There is potential for devastating winter storms, because the Water element is cold and associated with winter. Tornadoes could also be frequent and severe because of the wind. Storms like hurricanes and typhoons that combine wind and water could be particularly damaging.

Spring is associated with the Wood element and wind, so there could also be bad storms involving wind, or damage from wind, without the water involved.


According to the ancient texts, Wood’s negative state of mind is anger, and Water’s is fear. People with Liver and Kidney excesses may be more prone to these emotions, while those with deficiencies in these organs should benefit.

A lot of people’s Kidney Qi has been damaged by the ongoing fear state of the pandemic. It’s possible the strong Water energy, associated with the Kidneys, should help strengthen the Kidneys and lessen the fear this year.

As humans, we’re affected by both the Heaven and Earth energy, but because we live on the Earth, we’re more affected by the earth energy, which is Wood. Water (fear) gives birth to Wood (anger). We may start to see anger this year, particularly related to ongoing restrictions or things related to the pandemic, especially if people are scared. It may be that people become tired of the fear and this generates anger, especially when the fear is generated by those “above”.

It’s unlikely to be violent, as Metal, which is associated with violence, is weak this year.

Wood’s nature is wind, which represents change, because wind is always moving and never stays in one place. We’ll most likely see some change this year, especially regarding issues people are angry about. It is possible there may be big changes, because it’s a Yang year and that always makes the elements more powerful.

Wood’s positive mental state is kindness and compassion, and Water’s is wisdom. It’s possible we’ll see a shift in attitudes more in this direction. Practices like meditation, Qigong, etc., that help calm the mind and develop kindness and wisdom will be especially beneficial. There is strong support for it this year, and they can help shift people from anger and fear to the positive mental states of kindness, compassion and wisdom.


The strongest organs this year will be the Liver (Wood) and Kidneys (Water). Those prone to excess in these organs could have problems, especially when wind and/or cold are part of the pathology.

There is the possibility of more strokes and conditions like MS and Parkinson’s this year. Be cautious if you tend to have a lot of anger, especially if you have high blood pressure, because this may be a more dangerous year for those in this situation. These people will need more calming and relaxing herbs and treatments. Anger management and relaxation are very important for these people.

According to the ancient books, the Wood element is also associated with falls (think of a tree falling). So people whose balance is not good should be very careful. The strong Water energy this year should help those with weak bones (Kidneys), but they should still be very careful to avoid falling.

People with Yang deficiencies and/or cold in the body will need warming herbs this year.

The weakest organ this year will be the Lungs (Metal) because both Water and Wood weaken the Metal element. Those with weak Lungs will need strengthening.

Even though it’s a water year, we should see more cold than dampness, and the Earth element, associated with Dampness is weak. We’ll most likely see more external wind-cold attacks than colds with dampness. This bodes well for coming out of the Covid situation, where the excessive dampness was the primary pathogen.

People with ongoing Lung deficiencies from Covid will need Lung tonic herbs to help them recover faster.

If people have problems with dampness, it will be more from weak digestion and improper diet than from external sources like weather. Correct diet is important, as well as strengthening Spleen and Stomach and digestion.

The Earth element is weak in 2022, so more support may be needed in this area.

The Heart/ Small Intestine (Fire organs) are fairly neutral this year, so we shouldn’t see anything out of the ordinary with those organs.

Final Thoughts

In general, I think we’ve got a better year ahead and may start to see some positive changes happen. The last couple of years were tough ones, as we all know. It wasn’t fun to put the bad news out there. And, the energy is what it is. I’m only the interpreter analyzing what ancient Chinese teachings tell us about the nature of Yin, Yang and the Five Elements. Over the ten or more years I’ve been doing these predictions, they’ve been fairly accurate. That’s the gift from our ancestors and the power of our medicine and the philosophy it’s based on.

The advantage of having this information is to know what to expect and how to prepare. We’re forewarned, and know what to expect for ourselves and with my patients each year, so we can prepare, stay in harmony with the year, and avoid problems.

Just a note, because it’s a big misconception: if you were born in a Tiger year, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good year for you. Or a bad one. How the energy of the year affects each individual is dependent on each person’s Ba Zi /Chinese Astrology chart. Most years for most people are a mixed bag.

This analysis is of the universal energies of Heaven and Earth that affect us all. My personal hope is that the wisdom of Water and the kindness and compassion of Wood will prevail, or at least show up, as they’ve been missing in action for a while now!

We can all help by being sources of wisdom, kindness and compassion in the world, and not letting fear and/or anger take over. There is great support from the universe for it this year.


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2021 – Year of the Metal Ox

2021 – Year of the Metal Ox

Lunar New Year in 2021 brings the Year of the Metal Ox. After 2020, I’m sure we’re all glad to say goodbye to the pesky Rat! 

Lunar New Year this year is on February 12th. The energy actually changes on February 4th. There are different calendars – solar, lunar, etc., and the explanation is complicated, so just go with it. February 4th is actually the start of Spring and the new year. 

Let’s analyze what the Ox has in store.

According to Chinese philosophy, we have the concepts of Yin and Yang, and Heaven, Earth and Humanity. These are the building blocks of the universe. 

Heaven and Earth

Every year, the energy of the year is determined by the energy of Heaven and Earth. We the people, being “Humanity”, live in between Heaven and Earth and are affected by their energy and the energy of the year. 

The Heaven energy for 2021 is Metal. 2020 was also a Metal year, because we have a Yin year and a Yang year of each element. 2020 was Yang Metal. 2021 is Yin Metal. Thus we have the year of the Yin Metal Ox. 

You may see the year referred to as the White Ox, since the color of Metal is white, and some people refer to the Heavenly Qi/ energy by color. 

The Earth energy in 2021 is the Ox. In the five elements of Chinese philosophy, the Ox is associated with the element of Earth, so the Earth energy is Earth. That might seem a bit confusing. In the five elements of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water, the Ox is an Earth animal. The Rat was a Water animal.

So the Earth energy this year is… Earth. The Earth (the big round ball we live on) gets along best with its own element, rather than an element that weakens or drains it. So the Earth energy of the Ox is in harmony with the big Earth energy, because they’re both Earth. That’s good. Any time there’s a conflict between the Heaven and Earth energies, it makes it harder for us, the little people who live between those two giant energetic forces. 

Parents and Children

We also need to consider the relationship between the Heaven and Earth energies of Metal and Earth. In the five Elements energetic cycle, Earth gives birth to Metal, or is the parent of Metal. Since our elements in 2021 are Metal and Earth, we have a parent-child relationship, so they should get along. The only issue is that Heaven in general is “above” earth, or considered to be in a superior or parental position to Earth, which is considered “below”, or subordinate to Heaven. If you think about it, it makes sense, since Heaven, or the Universe, is much, much bigger than one small planet of earth.

But the Heaven energy in 2021 is Metal, which is the child of Earth, and a backward relationship. Even though they are parent and child, the backward nature of this relationship may mean that the child tries to control the parent. 

It’s unlikely to succeed, though. Because the Earth energy is Earth, Earth is very strong in 2021. The parent Earth is strong enough to resist any attempts by the Metal, the child, to control it. This will drain the Earth a little, from having to exert a bit of effort to resist an over-controlling child. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, since the Earth energy is so strong, they should balance each other out somewhat. 

What Does This Mean?

Since Heaven is “above us” (the sky and heavens are up above us), it relates to things/ people “above” us, or that have power over us. This can mean parents, bosses or the government, that generally have some sort of power or control over us. 

The implication is that those in power “above” us may try to control us, but because the Earth energy is so strong, it won’t work. Because we live on Earth (the planet), we’re more affected by the double Earth energy. That makes the people “below”  stronger and able to resist any attempt by those “above” to control us. 

Earth is a harmonizing element and likes to get along with everybody. So any attempts by those “above” to control, will most likely be resisted, and told in no uncertain terms to find a way to work together. 

Nature of the Elements

First, let’s consider the nature of the Ox. Oxen are hard-working animals that work well with others and in teams. They get hard tasks done. They’re also basically cows. Cows are fairly relaxed animals. They hang out in the sun, graze on grass, and chew their cud. They can be a little stubborn at times, but when they work, they work, and when they relax, they relax. So overall, the Ox year should be a good year to work well with others to get hard tasks done, and in between, be able to chill out and relax. 

Nature of Metal 

Metal is hard and can be sharp and violent. It won’t be as bad as 2020, though. 2020 was a Yang Metal year. Yang Metal is like a big sword, or a steel girder that holds up buildings – very strong and inflexible. 

Yin Metal is softer and more flexible – more like a butter knife or metal jewelry. So even though there is the potential for some violence, if it happens, it will be mild. People should be less stern and more flexible this year. 

Metal is also in charge of justice, and defining right and wrong. Think of the scales of justice – they’re made of metal, which is exactly their nature. 

Nature of Earth

The Ox is an Earth animal. Earth’s character is harmony, trust and tranquility. The Earth Element is in charge of transformation and transportation. We see this in the body through the Earth’s transformation of food in digestion. 


When we combine the natures of Metal and Earth, we have an idea of the character of the year. Because we live on Earth, and are more affected by the Earth’s energy, it should be a much more calm and peaceful year. We can expect people to work together to promote harmony, transformation and justice. And we can expect people to be more flexible and trusting than the sharpness and rigidity we saw in 2020. Most likely, we will see a continuation of the movements to transform and right old wrongs and promote more justice, equality and harmony, because that’s the nature of the energy this year.

Since Earth is the center, and represents the cooking fire, it can also represent the home. Because of its transformation and transportation functions, we’ll probably see people continue to transform their homes, as well as people continuing to move to new homes. 


According to an ancient Chinese medical text, Metal’s nature is dry and cool. And even though its nature is dryness, it’s also in charge of fog and dew. In Metal years, we tend to have a weird dichotomy of dry weather and humidity. 

Earth creates dampness and is in charge of clouds and rain. When excessive, it can cause flooding. Because the earth energy is so strong this year, there is the potential for big rain storms and flooding. 

As for temperatures, Earth is neutral in temperature, and takes on the nature of its companion element of Metal. Since Metal is cool by nature, temperatures should be more on the cool side. Weather will most likely tend toward cool, damp and rainy.  

We can have earthquakes in Earth years. Because it’s a Yin year, they should be on the smaller, mild side. If they do happen with wet, rainy weather, there could be mudslides. 


Metal’s state of mind is anxiety. Grief and depression are also associated with the Lungs (which are the Metal Element organ). We certainly saw a lot of that in 2020, where the Yang Metal made those emotions worse. We’ll continue to see more of the same in 2021, although maybe not as severe. But the emotions of Earth are overthinking and worry, and the Earth energy is very strong in 2021. So even though there may be a bit less anxiety, there will be more overthinking and worry. 

Water is also strong this year, so we’ll still see fear, which is the emotion of Water. It’s not quite as strong as it was in 2020, so hopefully, the fear will subside some. 

Fire is the weakest organ in 2021, and its emotion is joy. With all of the other emotions just mentioned, it may be harder for some people to feel joy. Deliberately doing things that make you happy will make it easier this year.

One of the best things we can do is to relieve stress and do things that help you relax and be calm. Practicing Qigong, meditation, and anything that calms the emotions will continue to be very important. And play time, of course! Many  adults don’t make enough time for play and doing things simply because it makes them happy. 


Unfortunately, 2021 isn’t going to help us get out of the Covid situation. (It should be better in 2022.) Because of the strong Metal and Earth energies, we’re still looking at the potential for Lung excesses with dampness. Colds and flus will be on the damp side, rather than the dry side. 

Interestingly, the ancient texts also says Metal can cause aging and falling. So older people will still be more at risk this year.

There’s also potential for Spleen/digestive and Intestinal problems with dampness. Focusing on a proper diet will be important not only to keep the body and immune system strong, but to avoid digestive problems with dampness.

The weakest Element this year is Fire. Fire was also weak in 2020, so we’re still likely to see people with heart problems and obesity (Spleen dampness) continue be those most susceptible to more severe cases of Covid.

Since Fire is weak, patients with Heart deficiency conditions will need more support. And the Small Intestine will be susceptible to dampness and deficiencies. 

Wood is weak this year. People who have Liver and/or Gallbladder deficiencies will need more strengthening. 

Water is fairly neutral this year, so there shouldn’t be anything out of the ordinary with the Water organs. 


Because Earth is strong, industries related to earth should do well. That’s good for real estate, home improvement, decorating, and construction. Other industries like pottery that use earth should also fare well.

Metal is also strong, so industries that work with metal and justice (associated with metal) should do well. 

Businesses associated with water will be neutral.

Wood industries, and health care, which is associated with Wood, are weak. That doesn’t bode well for the current pandemic situation. I suspect it will just have to run its course. Make sure to eat well, get plenty of sleep and take care of your immune system. 

Fire industries, including tech and the stock market, are most likely not in for a good year, since Fire is the weakest element this year. 


Like most years, the Year of the Ox will be a mixed bag. We’ll still have to contend with Covid and the fear, anxiety, stress and depression that went along with it in 2020. 

On a more positive note, people should be able to get along better, have more trust (because that’s Earth’s nature), and work together better, to make positive changes and transformations in areas that need more justice and harmony. 

Despite the negative emotions and still having to deal with Covid, there is great potential for healing some of the hate and distrust of the past few years. 

Final Thoughts

I hope you find this helpful. I do this analysis every year to be forewarned of what to expect for the year. Then I know what sorts of illness that patients will present and be better able to treat them.

I’ve been doing this analysis for many years, because I find it fascinating, if stressful. There’s always stress when making public predictions.

Even though I stress about it every year, the predictions usually to turn out to be pretty accurate. Whew! (No, I didn’t predict the pandemic, but the rest of it was pretty accurate.) Why? Because ancient Chinese texts give us the tools to understand and make these predictions.

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The Healing Sound of the Lungs

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My Radio Interview

I was recently interviewed on on MindBodyRadio, on the Daily Show with Chris Sawyer. It’s about 10 minutes long. If you’d like to listen and hear some more about me, how I got into Chinese Medicine, and how it can help people, listen here:



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2020: Year of the Metal Rat

2020: Year of the Metal Rat

Welcome to the Year of the Rat! Not only is 2020 the start of a new decade, but in  Chinese astrology, the Rat is the start of a new twelve year cycle. There are twelve animals in the Chinese Zodiac, thus the twelve years in the cycle, beginning with the Rat.

Being that this is not just the start of a new year and new decade, but the start of a new 12 year cycle, it’s an excellent time to plan and set intentions for this next cycle of life.

60-Year Cycle

The cycle also incorporates the five elements. The natural flow of the elements is wood -> fire -> earth -> metal -> water. Then the cycle starts over again.

Each animal goes through a cycle of each of the five elements, so when we combine all of that, we have five 12-year cycles to make a complete 60-year cycle. Then a new 60-year cycle starts.

Since the natural flow of the five elements starts with wood, which represents the start of new growth, the start of a 60-year cycle starts with the Wood Rat. The second 12-year cycle starts with the Fire Rat, and the third cycle starts with the Earth Rat. Since this is the year of the Metal Rat, we’re starting the fourth 12-year cycle in the current 60-year cycle. (This means a new 60-year cycle starts in 24 years, after we complete the next cycle that starts with the Water Rat.)

Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches

The Heavenly Stems are the five elements of wood, fire, earth, metal and water. They give us the energy coming from “Heaven” or the heavens or universe for the year.

The 12 animals correspond to the Earthly Branches, or the energy of the earth (the planet, not the element) each year.

Each year is either Yin or Yang, and they alternate. We’ve just finished a Yin year, so this year is Yang.

The Heavenly Stem this year is Yang Metal, which is why it’s a Metal Rat. Some people call it a White Rat, since white is the color of Metal.

According to the The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine, written about 2,000 years ago, the nature of Metal is cool, dry, hard and forceful. It can cause “sternness and killing”, as well as “aging and falling”. Metal also represents justice, or right versus wrong.

That gives us a good idea of the nature of a Metal year. Since it’s Yang Metal, we have to factor in the Yang nature. Yin Metal would be softer and flexible, like jewelry or metal wire. This year is Yang Metal, so it’s big, strong, powerful, sharp and inflexible, like a meat cleaver or a sword. The nature of the element tells us the nature of the year.

This adds up to the possibility of violence. We tend to have more violence in Metal years, and the fact that it’s a Yang year makes it potentially stronger, or worse. The justice nature of Metal gives the potential for violence where people think they’re right and others are wrong.

Since the Heaven energy also represents what’s “above” us, it can mean violence coming from governments, or people in positions of power over others (“above” others). But it’s more likely against other governments, if it happens, rather than governments against their people. Since Metal is the parent of Water, and the child (Water) refers to the people “below”, Metal and Water are in a natural parent-supporting-child relationship. Because their relationship is harmonious, it’s unlikely that governments will be violent against their people. It may be that there are cases where some countries think they’re right and others wrong, and then there could be the potential for violence. Because the Metal and Water elements are in harmony this year, we may see more “saber-rattling” rather than actual conflict.

Next, let’s consider the Rat. Rats are intelligent, prolific and resourceful. People don’t tend to like rats because we associate them with garbage and uncleanliness, but they’re smart little survivors. Think of why rats are so successful in mazes –  they’re Water nature, and water always finds a way to flow through. So perhaps we’ll see some smart new strategies emerge this year.

The Rat represents Yang Water. So we have the combination of Yang Metal and Yang Water. Metal gives birth to, or produces Water. Metal is the Heaven energy, and is in the position of being “above” its child, the earth energy of Water. The parent is “above” the child. Since this follows the natural flow of the five elements, this is a harmonious relationship.

2109 was Yin Earth and Yin water, which makes mud. And since Earth restrains Water, there wasn’t much flow or movement, and a lot of stagnation instead.

Metal gives birth to Water, so 2020 will have more movement and flow, and less stagnation overall. Things that were stuck should start moving again.

The Nature of Water is, of course water. It also represents cold, specifically “piercing cold”. It causes frost, ice and hail. It’s also considered “hard and stern”. This seems a bit counter-intuitive, because water feels soft, but water can do great damage. And it’s Yang Water. Yin Water is like clouds and rain. Yang Water is like the ocean. It’s big and powerful and impossible to stop once it gets moving.

Yang Metal is very inflexible, because it doesn’t bend easily. On the other hand, Water is very flexible, and always finds a way to go where it wants.

Metal is like a knife that cuts, and Water washes things clean.

Water is associated with wisdom, so hopefully the Water energy will bring some flexibility and wisdom this year. But the hardness and sternness of both elements may just steamroll over wisdom. There could be big movements this year, with lots of people caught up in the flow.

Water is very strong this year. So “children”, or those “below” or with less power are strong enough to stand up to their “parents”, or those “above”, especially when it’s an issue of justice or right and wrong. We’ll likely see continuation and strong growth in the movements of those who feel like they’ve been abused by those in power and want justice, like the #MeToo movement, women’s rights, and the youth movements around gun control and climate change. These are also movements spurred by wanting justice (Metal), and fear, which is the emotion associated with Water.

Because Water is the “child” and we’re at a new beginning in a new cycle, there is a lot of support for youth movements and new things. And the Yang nature of the Water could make those movements become unstoppable groundswells or tidal waves. It should be an interesting year, particularly with the U.S. presidential election this year.

Weather in 2020

I have to start this section with a caveat. Australia having massive fires in 2019, a Yin Earth/ Yin Water year, is not what should happen. If anything, it should have been problems with mud, water, and flooding, not fire. Fire energy was very weak in 2019. The planet is out of balance, and showing symptoms.

I’m not being political here, only diagnosing the problem. Global warming is interfering with the natural flow of energy. It’s like a body being out of balance that has symptoms that wouldn’t be there when it’s in balance. It’s like a person who eats too much ginger too often and feels hot when they shouldn’t. The planet is now out of balance, and showing heat symptoms.

Weather predictions based on the energetics of the year have been fairly accurate in the past, and overall, they should still dominate the weather. However, because of the planetary imbalance, there could be heat symptoms, when there shouldn’t be any this year.

With the coolness of Metal and the piercing cold of Water, it should be a colder than normal year. It should be a bad winter, with many problems due to freezing, hail, and ice. Metal’s nature is dryness, but it’s also in charge of fog and dew. And Water represents actual water. Even with the dryness of Metal, there will probably be more rain this year. We’ll probably get alternations between dry weather and humidity.

Because it’s a Yang Water year, rain and snow storms will probably be big and damaging, with lingering ice, cold and frost. Because of the fog and dew aspect, there may be more accidents in foggy weather, and more blizzards with white-outs.

There may also be problems with flooding, especially on the coasts of big rivers, lakes and oceans, since it’s a Yang Water year. Because there’s more movement this year, if bodies of water move, it will be a Yang movement, and big. There could also be tidal waves.

Health in the Year of the Metal Rat

There could be more accidents involving metal and water this year because both elements are so strong. Pay attention when using knives, driving, boating or water sports.

Metal also represents armored creatures, which are insects. There could be problems with insects and insect bites.

Water represents scaly creatures, so be careful around snakes and dangerous reptiles.

Metal’s state of mind is anxiety, and Water’s is fear. We usually think of anxiety associated with the Heart and sadness associated with the Lungs, the Metal organ. These emotions usually emerge when the associated organs are out of balance. But there could be more problems with these emotions this year, especially in people with preexisting conditions. If there is violence this year, it will cause more anxiety and fear.

When we consider the five elements and their associated organs, we can see how strong or weak each organ is this year.

Metal and Water are strong. So Lungs and Kidneys should be strong this year. Patients with Lung and/ or Kidney deficient conditions should feel better this year. Patients with Kidney deficiency-type asthma may feel better, although anyone worse with cold will have a harder time in winter. People with excesses in either of these organs will have more problems. There could be more problems with excess bone problems like spurs. And since the lungs rule the skin, the may be more issues with dry skin and skin excess conditions.

There could be more injuries caused by metal and water, like knife cuts and falls due to slippery surfaces. Because the Water/Kidney energy is strong, even though there may be more falls, bones should be strong and heal well because the Kidney energy is in charge of bones.

The Wood element is strong this year, since Water is the parent of Wood. Metal does weaken Wood, but overall, Wood is strong. So people with Liver/ Gallbladder excess may feel worse, while those with deficiencies may feel better.

Fire and Earth are both weak this year, since Water and Metal weaken their energies. People with Heart deficiencies may feel worse and have more problems. As mentioned above, there may be more anxiety, as well as worry and overthinking, since the Earth element is weak.

People with weak digestion will need to be more careful about their diets and eating correctly this year. It will be easier for Spleen/ Stomach and digestive problems to occur, especially in cold weather. It’s a good year for people to learn how to eat correctly according to Chinese medicine and protect the Spleen and Stomach. Eat more cooked, warm foods, like soups and stews this year, especially in cold weather.

Final Thoughts

Rats are intelligent animals so this is a good year for learning and study. More importantly, water represents wisdom, not just intelligence, so it’s a good year to cultivate wisdom. The water / Kidney energy in the body is a deep level of energy, so practicing to cultivate deep wisdom is very good this year. Meditate, practice Qigong or other spiritual practices to cultivate that deep wisdom.

Metal is very materialistic, and with the potential for violence and emotional upset this year, practicing to gain wisdom, and calm and balance the emotions can help with the harsher aspects this year.

Along with cultivating wisdom, remember that this is the beginning of a new cycle. New beginnings aren’t always easy. There’s the potential for the Yang Water to wash away the old and bring in change and new energy for the next 12-year cycle. Remember to plan what you want your next 12 years to look like and take advantage of the new energy and new cycle.

There are no straight lines in the Taiji (Yin/Yang) circle because the energy is always moving and changing. When we get to an extreme, i.e., the fattest part or the thinnest part, it flips into its opposite, which is not always a peaceful process. So even though it seems that this year may have its challenges, it’s only a phase and the energy will change. 


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2019: Year of the Pig

Predictions for The Year of the Pig

Happy New Year! February 5th was Lunar New Year, and the energetic start of Spring. Spring is the start of the new energetic cycle and new growth for the year.

The Western new year of January 1st was established by Julius Caesar to correct errors in the mathematical calculation of the year. A year is actually 365 days and some hours long. Before that, there were errors in the calendar, so it was arbitrarily decided to make January 1st the start of the year. It has nothing to do with the actual energetics of nature, which is what we follow in Chinese Medicine in order to stay in harmony with the seasons and in good health.

Every year is either Yin or Yang, and it alternates every year. Last year was a Yang year, so this year is a Yin year. Yin is the cooling, calming, moistening, restful, and more feminine energy.  (Yang is the opposite.)

Every year, we also have the energy of Heaven (as in “the heavens” or sky, not in any religious sense) and the energy of Earth (as in the planet Earth). Each has its own energy for the year, which is one of the five elemental forms of energy. This year, the Heaven energy is Yin Earth, and the Earth energy is the Pig, also sometimes called the Boar. The Pig represents Yin Water. So our elemental energies for the year are Yin Earth and Yin Water.

Here’s what we can expect this year based on the energetics of the Earth Pig:


When you think about mixing Earth and Water, you get a pretty good idea of what’s in store this year: wet, damp, mud. Yin Earth by nature is more damp than Yang Earth, which is more dry. Add water to that, and you get even more damp Earth. Think mud. Lots and lots of mud. Areas that have had fire damage in the last few years, and/or are prone to mudslides are at risk this year.

Flooding could be a big problem this year, because the the Water energy brings more actual water, and the earth is too soggy to dam it up and hold it in. If you live in an area at risk for mudslides and/or flooding, now is the time to take precautions and prepare in advance.

As for the weather this year, the overall Yin energy of the year makes it more cool and potentially damp. Add to that the Water energy, which represents actual water, but also more dampness. Yin water is more like “clouds and dew” as the ancient books say, rather than bodies of water like lakes, rivers, and oceans, which would be Yang Water. When water is in the form of clouds and dew, you get humidity.

The temperature nature of Water is cold, so expect cooler weather, with higher humidity, and more rain than usual, because, well, it’s water.

When we consider the Yin Earth energy, we’ve already seen that it will be wet, muddy earth. The nature of Earth itself is dampness. Earth years always bring more rain. So we’ve pretty much got lots of damp and wet from all sides this year, with a dose of cold thrown in from the Yin Water energy. The weather forecasters will most likely call it an El Nino year. The atmospheric conditions will probably show up to create that, as the Heaven and Earth energies are what set up those conditions.

Mold will likely be an issue this year, since the conditions will be perfect for mold to grow. Watch out for leaks in houses, because mold could show up very easily. If you have a mold problem already, it’s only going to get worse this year, so it’s wise to take care of it as soon as possible. Dehumidifiers may be a good idea.


The biggest issue this year will be with cold and dampness in the body. Colds and flus will have lots of mucus, as opposed to lingering dry coughs.

There will be more digestive issues, especially involving dampness, like gas, bloating, easy weight gain, and loose stools. Avoid eating too many damp foods this year. Damp foods are greasy, fried, oily, and dairy products (not eggs – eggs are not damp, so they’re fine to eat, but they always get lumped in with dairy). Eating damp foods will cause digestive issues easily this year because of all the dampness of the year.

As extra weight is considered dampness in Chinese Medicine, it will be easier for people with weak digestion or prone to weight gain to pack it on this year. For these people, this is a year to really watch the diet and avoid those damp foods.

Avoid too many cold, raw foods, because they can damage the digestion, especially in cold weather. Eat more cooked, warm foods, especially when it’s cold. It a good year to use a bit more ginger and garlic in cooking, since they help warm the digestive system and get rid of dampness. Don’t use too much ginger or garlic if you run too hot or have acid reflux. Everything is about finding the balance, so experiment and find the right amount for you.

Because Earth represents “flesh” it’s likely there will be more lumps, bumps, and tumors this year. If skin diseases arise, they’re more likely to be of the wet, weepy, oozy kind.

Because of the cold weather, people who run cold may have a harder time. Make sure to dress warm in cold weather and avoid getting chilled. Eating more ginger and/or garlic can help. On the other hand, people who tend to run hot will probably have an easier time this year.

Also watch out for mold. Mold can cause a lot of health problems. Because of the weather, there will be more mold and things like fungus and candida. If you think about what happens to a wet, soggy garden and what grows in those conditions, those are the sorts of things that can grow in the body this year with the right conditions.

Depression may be an issue this year for some people. Fire is weak this year, and its emotion is Joy. Combine that with lots of clouds, rain and cold, and people may be more prone to depression. It’s a good year to get out in the sun when you can, and pay attention to managing moods. It may help to do things that bring you joy, to help balance the weakness in the Fire energy this year.


Earth and Water industries should benefit this year, so it should be another good year for real estate, as long as there aren’t issues with flooding, landslides, mud, etc. Plumbers are probably going to have a very good year. Also, shipping, and anything having to do with water or earth.

Wisdom is associated with Water, so businesses associated with learning and wisdom should do well.

Earth businesses that work with earth, like excavating, pottery, ceramics should have a good year. Also farming, as long as crops don’t get too wet.

Fire represents computers, electricity, technology and the stock market. Because the Fire energy is weak this year, those industries will most likely be weaker.


It should be another interesting year. Remember all the mud we’re going to have? Expect mudslinging.

On the other hand, things should (hopefully) calm down a bit. It’s a Yin year, and Water and Earth are both Yin, so it should be a more mellow year. We’ve had several years of Fire and then Metal energy that were fiery and passionate, and then sharp and cutting due to the metal.

I don’t know if much progress will be made, because it’s such a Yin year and Earth, Water and mud have a tendency to just sit there in a mud puddle. And mud is cloudy, not clear, so things may seem muddy or cloudy and may not be their most clear this year.

Water brings wisdom and is flexible and always finds a way to to go where it wants. Earth energy brings harmony and trust. The energy will be there this year for things to settle down, become more harmonious and allow wisdom to prevail. Expect mudslinging, but overall, more calm.

The Pig is the last animal in the Chinese Zodiac of 12 animals. Being the last animal, it’s the end of a 12 year cycle. (The full cycle is 60 years. It’s not the end of the full 60 year cycle – that’s two more cycles, or 24 years, away.) The end of the cycle represents completion of things you’ve been working on during this cycle. It’s like the winter season during a year. It’s the time to rest and recharge. Remember that it’s a very Yin year, so follow the energy and be more Yin, mellow and rest more this year.

And just like winter during the year, which is Water time, it’s a good time to use the wisdom that Water brings and plan for the start of the next cycle. What do you want this next phase of your life to be like? This is the year to think, evaluate, and make plans for next year and the start of the next cycle.


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Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations for Winter

How to Eat in Winter

By following the energy of the season, we can learn the best diet and lifestyle recommendations for winter. It’s time to adapt our eating and lifestyle to the season, so we stay in harmony with nature and maintain good health.

The foods that ripen in winter tend to be dense, heavy and nourishing. We get root vegetables in season now, including potatoes, sweet potatoes and onions. Veggies like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage ripen in winter. They tend to be more dense and fibrous than their summer green leafy cousins.

And maybe most dense of all, we get the hard winter squashes, like acorn, butternut, kabocha, pumpkins, spaghetti squash, etc.

Is it sounding like stew yet? It should be. The dense winter foods take longer to cook, and that’s entirely appropriate for the colder winter weather. The best cooking methods for winter are the slower, longer types, like baking, roasting and slow cooking methods like soups and stews. It helps to break down the dense fibrous foods and helps warm our bodies in the cold season.

The fruits coming in season now are also dense, like apples, pears, persimmons, and citrus. Like the winter veggies, they also tend to be less sweet and more fibrous than the summer fruits.

We can see that the consistent message from Mother Nature is dense, fibrous, nourishing foods. And that’s our big clue for the season.

That doesn’t mean to eat more food. It means to eat the right kinds of foods, like the ones just mentioned.

It can also be dry in winter, and heating tends to dry out the air more. Pay attention to the humidity. If you’ve got a lot of static electricity, that’s usually a sign of dry air. Make sure you’re drinking enough water. Usually about 1-2 quarts/liters per day is about right. If you’re exercising and sweating, or it’s very dry, you may need to drink a bit more.

Soups and stews have more water in them, so they help when it’s dry and cold. It’s a great time to bust out the crock pot, roasting pan or soup pot and enjoy winter vegetables.

Lifestyle in Winter

Winter is the most Yin time of year. It’s the coldest and darkest, with the shortest days. The winter solstice is the most Yin day of the year. Its the least daylight and most darkness. Since Yin is the calm, restful and restorative energy, it’s best to follow nature and be more Yin in winter.

Like the trees that lose their leaves in winter, the energy goes deep into the earth to hibernate, rest and recharge for the more active times of spring and summer. For good health, we should also rest more, nourish ourselves (body, mind and spirit) and “recharge our batteries”.

Think like a bear and hibernate. I know many people run around and shop, go to parties, stay up late, and do way too much during the holidays. That’s exactly opposite of how to maintain good health in winter. Winter is the time to restore your energy. If you don’t get a “full recharge”, and instead get more burned out, it can affect your health for the coming year. 

These days everybody seems to be trying to do more stuff in less time. Use this as a reminder to take some time just for you, to rest and recharge.

Have a happy winter and happy holidays. 

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How to Stay Healthy in Late Summer and Early Fall

Energetically, August 7th was the start of fall. If you’ve been reading my musings for a while, you know that in Chinese medicine we follow the Chinese energetic calendar, which follows the movements of the energy and seasons in nature, rather than the “made up” calendar. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you can read more about the concept here. It’s an easy read and fascinating stuff.) Today we talk about how to stay healthy during late summer and early fall.


In fall, the weather tends to be more dry. That’s when we get the hot, dry Santa Ana winds in Southern California. But August tends to be more humid, and falls into what we call “late summer” in Chinese Medicine. Because the Earth energy this year brings extra humidity and dampness, we’re experiencing the effects now. A lot of patients, in fact almost everybody is complaining of being sluggish and lethargic these days. When the weather is hot and humid, everything slows down. You don’t want to move fast or get sweaty. It’s easier to just sit around, not do anything, and stay cool. Think about tropical areas that normally have this kind of weather, and they tend to have a relaxed, slow-moving pace of life. That’s the normal energy of hot and humid weather.

Healthy Lifestyle

If you’ve been feeling lethargic, and you’re eating and sleeping well, it’s just the weather. Go with the flow of energy and take the time to maintain a more relaxed pace of life right now. It’s good practice, anyway, because most of us do way too much, and get our lives out of balance. It’s a great time to slow down, which is what we should do in fall to prepare for the more restful energy of winter.

The hot humid weather can also lead to too much dampness and heat in the body. This often shows up this time of year as a stomach bug with nausea and diarrhea. Watch out for food poisoning, because it fits that pattern, and make sure you don’t eat food that’s been sitting out too long. If you do get sick, an acupuncture treatment and some herbs can usually knock it out fast.

Healthy Diet

Avoid eating too much damp food, like greasy, fried foods and dairy. (I don’t mean eggs. Eggs are great and fine to eat all year.) Avoid foods made from milk, like milk, cheese, yogurt and ice cream. If you’ve been eating ice cream during the summer, it’s time to reduce it. Too much dampness in humid weather can cause digestive problems and mucus. 

It’s also time to start shifting your diet from lots of salads and raw foods to more cooked foods. I know it’s still hot, and a lot of people don’t want to cook and heat up the house. You can use a crock pot or pressure cooker to make cooked meals easily without heating up the house like using the stove or oven. It may not sound good to eat more cooked food now, but it will make your body happy and feel good.

Because it’s the end of August, we’re getting close to the weather changes that we usually get by mid-September. Normally, in September, the weather gets dry and the nights get cooler (hallelujah!). Kids are back in school, and that’s when colds start going around. September is probably the best month of the year to get a tune-up acupuncture treatment. (January is the second best month.) Even if you feel good, getting a tune-up helps balance your energy and prepare it for the changing energy of fall.

If you get a cold every fall (like I used to), pay attention to how you feel, and take extra good care of yourself, especially when the weather changes.

By following the energy of the seasons, we can help our bodies stay in balance and stay healthy.

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Danger: Strawberries Ahead!

It's the time of year when strawberries are coming in season. That's good news and bad news... The good news is how fresh and yummy they are. The bad news is that...

Are Strawberries Dangerous?

Happy fruiting season! It’s the time of year when strawberries are coming in season. (Or, I should say in season naturally, since we can get fruit all year round, even when it’s not in season.) Strawberry season is good news and bad news… The good news is, of course, how fresh and yummy they are, and they signal the start of all the fruity goodness to come through the next several months. The bad news is that they’re heavily sprayed with some pretty nasty chemicals, and they’re one of the heaviest sprayed crops. Why should you care?

Strawberries and Chemicals

Research by the US government in the last several years showed that conventional strawberries may contain 45 different pesticide residues including:

– 6 known or suspected carcinogens (cause cancer)

– 16 suspected hormone disruptors

– 7 neurotoxins​ (toxic to the nervous system)

​​- 6 developmental or reproductive toxins

​- 12 chemicals that are toxic to honeybees

And if all that’s not bad enough, recent government research also showed “residues of 81 different pesticides in various combinations“, and “20 percent of samples had residues of 10 or more pesticides“.

What to Do

That’s some scary stuff right there. Those innocent-looking strawberries contain a toxic soup of chemicals. Before you freak out and tell me how much you love strawberries (I do too!), you can still eat them. Just eat only ORGANIC strawberries. Yes, they’ll cost more, but they’ll cost a lot less than getting cancer.

It’s pretty easy to find organic strawberries these days. Even better, grow your own. If you have a garden or even a large pot on a balcony, you can grow your own organic strawberries. They’re easy to grow and taste better fresh picked, anyway!​ And you know exactly what’s gone into their growing. 

For More Information

Eliminating toxic foods from our diet is an important part of eating right and staying healthy. If you want to learn more about the chemicals on food, and which foods are cleaner and dirtier, check out these resources: 



The second link is to the Environmental Working Group, which puts out a list of the “dirty dozen” and “clean 15” foods each season. The 2018 list just came out, and in case you’re wondering, strawberries landed at #1 again this year on the “dirtiest” list. I highly recommend you check out their lists and use them as a guide to know which fruits and veggies to buy organic, and which are ok to eat conventional (not organic).

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