Happy Year of the Earth Pig!

If you're a Jewish American acupuncturist (and there are many) you seem to find yourself wishing folks a happy new year from the middle of October constantly through the middle of February, as Rosh Hashannah falls during the former, January 1st in the middle, and the former is Chinese (Lunar) new year, which was this week!

This year marks that of the Earth Pig. While most people have been made aware, via Chinese restaurant placemats or fun astrology blogs, which animal represents their birth year, many are not as much aware that the 12 animals also cycle through the five elements - wood, fire, earth, metal and water - to complete each 60-year cycle of the zodiac. So much like western astrology holds that not all Pisces, Leos or Geminis are all the same, so too are not all monkeys, horses or pigs.

Pigs symbolize family, food and home - in short, comfort - while the earth element is all about things that come from the earth, specifically nourishment. This makes this year an empowering one in the way of gathering with family and friends and upping our elitism in both grocery shopping and cooking. Food that doesn't spoil doesn't come from the earth, which makes its title, "food," questionable at best. The pig is considered to be a devoted creature, loyal and communal, which makes this as important of a time as any to nurture friendships, better communication with loved ones and mend burnt bridges.

Personally, this has always been one of the qualities I've most admired in my mother: For over 50 years she's had the same tightly-knit circle of like-minded best friends, of course with other peripheral guest star appearances along the way. Some of the crew are fiscally wealthy, others are the opposite, but from my perspective they are all billionaires in this respect: They've all been surrounded by unconditional love for their entire lives, which I'm sure has indirectly affected my own growth and experience in a very positive way. Most recently for weeks after my father passed away our living room looked like "Uncle Paulie's" from the movie, Goodfellas, filled with endless food and tons of loving loud-mouthed Jews (instead of Italians) all there to support Mom through her transition. Having a similar context is something I'll never give up on pursuing, albeit challenging to do concurrent with my Chinese Medical studies and personal business.

This year we encourage all to be big fat pigs - not literally "fat" of course, but fat in the way of abundance... maybe even in the way of the ketogenic diet, which ironically seems to help so many with weight loss... or finally, "phat" in the way of hip hop slang from years past... i.e. "dope," "fly," "phat," just fantastic. Who knows? Pig out. Eat (well) and be merry (via love). Be flexible and forgiving, vulnerable and communicative, and unafraid to get messy, like a fat pig in the earth.

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