Enter, the Ox

A new lunar year, while traditionally bringing with it a whirlwind of promises and glowing opportunity, can often unwittingly put us under a ton of pressure at the best of times. In a funny way the Year of the Rat has been a welcome comedown from the high-speed, expectation-fuelled existence, stripping us bare of our usual distractions and excuses. What’s left is a blessing in disguise; a (hopefully) once-in-a-lifetime pause to reassess our lives. Let’s look back at some of the positive turns that the Rat bought us, and how we can learn from these lessons in the coming Year of the Ox.


More time at home made us rethink exactly what we bring in; shopping habits were reassessed, wardrobes were reorganised (disregards hopefully donated) and the decision to bulk shop for food suddenly made perfect sense. We finally had the time for all those loose ends at home too; taking the plunge when it came to installing that recycling solution or a compost bin you’ve been thinking about for so long. Being at home simply gave us the much-needed time to examine and rethink our environment for what’s working and what’s not; from realising just how much plastic we accumulate on a daily basis, to how best to put those food scraps to good use. 


The opportunity to cook, eat and entertain more at home has meant becoming increasingly aware of what is going into our meals; the provenance of the ingredients, how far they were travelling and who we were buying them from. In the same stretch we may have also joined that bakeathon that saw us upping our (less-than-healthy) baking game with each new Instagram post. Safe to say that eating healthier definitely became more important towards the latter half of the year. 


Rethinking our approach to travel will be a common theme from here on out, perhaps with fewer, more mindful trips. Now is the time to whip out your bucket-list travel dreams with quality trumping quantity for a change. Say goodbye to those last-minute weekend jaunts on cheap airfares, all the better for you, your carbon footprint and our planet. And in the smaller scale, rethink how you travel locally, walk to your next destination or ride a bicycle and get some exercise in.


Possibly the biggest lesson we learned in the Year of the Rat has been to slow down, but more importantly, to not be so hard on ourselves. Before our new normal, there was a discerning effort both prevailing and persistent, to always be on-the-go and strive for absolute perfection every waking second. We are beginning to learn to let things go and to be easier on ourselves as well as those around us; the focus has shifted from a degree of self-flagellation to trying your best and just doing what feels right. 


In the Chinese zodiac, the Ox is a representation of positivity and the yin sign of metal represents stability and nourishment. Perhaps this new year will bring with it an exciting, opportunity-filled path less-trodden and fresh with our new perspective gained last year, shedding old habits and replacing them with fresh thinking and a new approach. 


Instead of bursting into 2021 with a bang, rife with inflated expectations, how about we just sort of, slip in… very slowly, quietly and take baby steps, bringing with us all the new things we’ve learnt and see where it takes us?