February 19th begins the Chinese New Year – the Year of the Sheep, a “kinder, gentler year” as compared to last.  After the hyper-masculinity and galloping pace of the Year of the Horse, the sheep year, which begins today, will be a stroll in a pasture.  So says Bill Hajdu, a master Chinese astrologer based in Seattle.  In fact, he says, this is a Green Wood Year of the Sheep, the element of wood having a gentling effect on an already feminine and gentle beast. “It’s a softer, caring, let’s-all-get-along atmosphere,” he says. “Wood equals empathy.”

The new year represents quite a swing, as the horse is the sign with the most yang, or male force, and the sheep has the most yin, or female force.  I think after the incredible pace of the last year, we can all use a little yin in our lives!

This time next year, we will be looking toward the Year of the Fire Monkey, which begins Feb. 8 of 2016.  The United States was born in a monkey year.  “Monkey business, monkey wrench,” says Hajdu.  There will be mischief aplenty.  “I’m a little nervous about next year.”

Well, let’s just think about that later.   For now, we’ll catch our breath and hope for a little more kindness, beginning with each one of us.