Tuesday, February 8, 2011


I live in a small town.  One square mile to be exact.  Founded a little over 300 years ago, it’s scattered with historic homes and buildings.  We even have a tree that dates back to the late 1600’s. There are only a few thousand residents.  Aside from three franchises (a convenient mart, donut shop, and discount store), there are no big box flagship stores or shopping centers.  We don’t even have a commercial supermarket or hospital.  While all of these things are very close by in neighboring townships, there are none in my town.  The main street is peppered with small merchants and it has a open market filled with produce and seasonal plants from local farmers.  I love my town.  It is quaint.  I thought I knew my town well but alas, I do not .  Last week, as I walked down the main thoroughfare,  a street  I must have walked down a thousand times, I decided to stop into a shop that I had never been in.   I needed nutritional yeast.  I did not feel like traveling the usual 5-6 miles outside of my neighborhood to purchase at my usual vegetarian shop.  I walked in to what I thought was a “vitamin store” hoping to find the yeast.  My expectation was low.   When I walked in, I was immediately greeted by the proprietor who kindly introduced himself.  As I looked around, my jaw dropped. This was not a vitamin store at all.  It was a vegan lover’s delight!  I realized I was in the middle of a serendipitous moment.

Serendipity -  the act of finding something valuable or delightful 
when you are not looking for it; a happy accident; an extremely pleasant and 
unexpected surprise that was not planned but happened for the good.

The store had everything a vegan could ever need or want : organic grains, beans, seeds and raw nuts; spices sold by the weight; hemp protein; tempeh; agave nectar; nut and rice milks; organic cacao; chia fruit bars; a freezer filled with vegan desserts; salad dressings; raw vinegars; natural soaps, shampoos, and body oils. In the rear was a full library of resource materials and as if that weren’t enough, the store holds free vegetarian cooking class once a month and weekly a devotional/meditation .   Flabbergasted, I must have spent an hour in there talking with the owner and other patrons before finally purchasing everything but the nutritional yeast!

After I left, I could not help but think that the pleasant surprise of discovering that this “not  a vitamin store” in my own town, walking distance from my house, was  demonstrative of my vegan trek thus far.  At every turn, I’ve been surprised with good fortune.

Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Feb 3rd  marked the start of the Chinese New Year.  There are 12 animals in the Chinese Zodiac which represent  a 12-year cycle used for dating the years.  Every year is assigned an animal name or "sign" according to a repeating cycle.  Therefore, every twelve years the same animal name or "sign" would reappear.  The animal in circulation at the time of your birth is the one which represents you.  You will experience your year at ages 12, 24, 36, etc.  This year is the “Year of the Rabbit”  which to my good fortune, is also the animal of the year in which I was born.  It is my year.  How appropriate that my “year” would also be the one in which I will celebrate both six months and my first anniversary of living vegan.  There are many complementing traits attributed to people born under the Rabbit, one of which is that they are generally “lucky”.  Wow.  Another pleasant surprise and confirmation that I am moving forward in accordance to my path.  The Chinese do not wish each other “Happy New Year” as we Westeners do.   Instead, they wish blessings of prosperity to their fellow man.  In Cantonese, this greeting is written as "Gong Xi Fa Cai".  With this in mind, I realize that I must honor and be true to my rabbit.

“Be not afraid of greatness”  “To thine ownself be true”

Two great quotes from the William Shakespeare.  What wisdom and advice!  We are taught  as children to be modest in our decorum, and to be humble in our nature.  But we always managed to shout out, "Hey,  I'm great, Look what I can do!!!"  As adults, sometimes, we somehow loose the fight and take modesty a little too much to heart .  We do not follow our own paths.  We become afraid to take a leap of faith because we fear our own success.  While we know the difference between shouting our greatness and arrogant pride,  we fear being falsely labeled as a braggart.  This leads to unhappiness because we are not
Don't be afraid, remember your youth
  Acknowledge your greatness! Your truth will follow
following our truths.   Each step we take should be towards our own greatness, a step which elevates us from one level to another. 

Take the time to get to know yourself.  Realize your strengths and weaknesses.  Use one to help the other.   Celebrate and reward yourself when you stumble upon a “happy accident”.  As you continuously repeat this process, you will begin to learn what you should and shouldn’t do, and you will feel empowered, less afraid to go out to venture into new territories, to experience new greatness – to walk down streets you have always walked down to discover a new truth and wonderful place filled with goodies  just for you.

As I continue this journey, what I feared is slowly dissolving.  I am no longer intimated by seemingly difficult recipes, nutritional balance, or lack of support.   I am discovering greatness in numbers, an abundance of food choices, and a growing of number of vegan support.  I feel empowered to create new recipes, experiment with different foods, reach out for help, and "think" much "larger" than I did before.  It feels simple because for me, it is truth.

Celebrate the Rabbit this year.  According to one website, in Chinese tradition, regardless of which year you were born, the Rabbit brings a year in which you can catch your breath and calm your nerves.  It is a time for negotiation.  Don’t try to force issues because if you do, you will ultimately fail.   My wish for you this year is:

Accept what is great.  Live your life to the fullest! 
May you give love, feel love, and be loved.  
May you be prosperous, experience the blissful joy of serendipitous,
  pleasant surprises and remember to savor each and every day. 
 May you be great and true.

Yoga:  Sasagasana (Rabbit Pose)  and Sat Nam (universal unchanging self truth)

Sasangasana:  Rabbit Pose
In yoga, the rabbit pose or Sasangasana aids digestion (another pleasant surprise!).  It improves thyroid function, helps sinus problems, and chronic tonsillitis. The Rabbit stretches the spine as you bend forward, bringing all the weight to the crown of the head permitting the nervous system to receive proper nutrition while maintaining flexibility, mobility and elasticity of the spine, arms, shoulders and back muscles.

At the end of your practice, recite the mantra Sat Nam three times.  To do so is to acknowledge that truth is your identity - to be true to yourself.  Sat Nam means unchanging, universal self truth.


No comments: