Interview about Monkey Year for Houston Chronicle

February 18, 2016 § Leave a comment

Lunar New Year promises a little monkey business!

Thing are about to get a little crazy with the arrival of the Red Fire Monkey

By Kyrie O’Connor February 5, 2016
Houston Chronicle

Nadya Shakoor paper sculpture / Mark Mulligan photo / Houston Chronicle

Nadya Shakoor paper sculpture / Mark Mulligan photo / Houston Chronicle

We are about to enter the year of the Red Fire Monkey. If that sounds to you like a year that calls for a helmet and elbow pads, you may be right.

Today marks the start of the Lunar New Year, or as it’s known in Vietnam, Tet. On Asian calendars, each Lunar New Year is associated with one of five elements, in this case fire, and one of 12 animals, in this case the monkey.

You say you want a revolution? Tumultuous 1968 was also a Fire Monkey year. So was 1776.

“In the Year of the Monkey, the status of events is changing quickly,” says Nan Hall Linke, almost certainly Houston’s only astrologer/therapist/landscape architect. “Watch the parade. Don’t be in it.”

The monkey is “smart, naughty, wily and vigilant” according to Allen Tsai, who runs the chinesefortunecalendar.com website, so the year will take on that character.

The year has yang, or masculine, energy, so it’s forceful, highly charged and resourceful, which of course has good aspects and bad.

Assuming you don’t want to attract the worst of the monkeyshines, what can you do to counteract the bad?

Susan Levitt advises starting with a tidy, organized home.

“In a monkey year, do your frantic cleaning up before you walk out the door,” says Levitt, who lives in San Francisco and has written five books about astrology. “You’ll come home to a clean, nice place.”

Levitt specializes in feng shui, the Chinese practice of finding harmony with one’s surroundings. “Organize your home so you’re not living in the crazy,” she says, because there will be crazy aplenty outside the door. “You don’t want to live in a place that looks like a bomb went off.”

The same goes for your car and workspace. Sadly, those can’t be messy either.

But don’t buy new furniture or change your house around dramatically, says Levitt, who writes at susanlevitt.com. Feathering the nest is a task for 2017, the Year of the Rooster. And watch your diet, she adds. During the Year of the Monkey caffeine, candy and power bars will be oh so tempting, but oh such a bad idea.

Linke takes the decluttering a step further to include our inner lives. She advises decluttering your mind; just because the world is nuts, we don’t have to be.

“Be detached, still and optimistic,” says Linke, who has found yoga and Buddhist practices useful in her own life. “Do not continue the ‘compulsive extroversion’ that is the monkey year’s dominant energy.

On the other hand, she says, a child born in this year will be fun, creative, a bit wild – a little monkey. “A kid born this year will be very interesting and not at all passive or submissive,” Linke says.

She also harks back to some of the old sayings from ’68 that will have new relevancy in the new year, such as “make love, not war” and “be here now.”

A sense of humor – a monkey’s forte – becomes a life skill in this type of year. Keep a sense of humor and laugh a lot,” Linke advises. “Don’t take it seriously. What else can you do?”

Both Levitt and Linke cite “Journey to the West,” a 16th-century Chinese literary classic, as a good text for 2016. It’s a fantastical story of a monkey who becomes a disciple to a monk journeying west to India to bring Buddhist teachings, called sutras, back to China. “It’s a journey from unevolved to evolved,” Levitt explains.

But Levitt also urges people who have dreams they’ve always dreamed of acting on – far-flung travel, guitar lessons – to do so this year.

“Yes, go for it,” she says. “If you’ve always wanted to do something, do it. You’ll find out by the end of the year if you’ve succeeded or failed.”

And remember: We live in a fire monkey kind of country.

“We have so much crazy nuttiness, and we don’t even think it’s unusual,” she says. “There’s a lot of energy in America.”

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