Happy Chinese New Year Week! January 31st marks the beginning of the year of the horse. I absolutely love Chinese New Year (or the Lunar New Year) because here in New York there is a parade with dragons. You know, the long centipede dragon with dozens of human legs making up the dragon legs weaving and bobbing around. If you ever have the chance to go to that parade - do it! Chinatown in NYC is chaotic and otherworldly on normal days, but Chinese New Year - the air crackles with awesome!
Chinese New Year is a mini little reset on the January 1st New Year for me as well. I check in with myself. Am I showing up the way I intended? Am I being kind to myself and to others? Resolutions got a bad rap this year. People seemed anti goal/plan/commitment making. I’m all for it. Resolution means to RE - solve a problem. The solution I tried before didn’t work so I must try something new. And the good news is I have 365 days to work on it. There is no quick fix in anything.
Another thing I really enjoy about this holiday is the concept of abundance and generosity. Little red envelopes full of money are given to loved ones to wish them “Good Fortune!” for the coming year. It is a practice of giving with the faith that it will come back to you. It is an act of good fortune benefiting both parties.
If anyone has taken even the shortest walk with me, they know that I see pennies on the ground, stoop to retrieve them, and then hold them up to the sky declaring, “Thank you for this symbol of abundance!”
I pick them up because they are copper little promises of MORE. So any holiday where you get to holler “ good fortune” to your friends is my time of year.
There was a boy in my class all throughout grade school, junior high, and high school: Arthur Chiu. He is Chinese. One year Arthur presented me with a little red envelope with a twenty dollar bill in it. We might have been in fifth grade. That was a bunch of dollars. He said Happy Chinese New Year and kissed me on the cheek. That was the beginning of my sweet little fixation on this holiday–money and kisses! Arthur was always generous. He wasn’t ever flaunting wealth or showing off, it was more like, ‘there’s enough to share, have some.‘
Arthur’s parents own one of the greatest restaurants in my home town of Joplin, MO: Fortune East. It’s historic, and the cashew chicken is famous. I don’t know how they have made money all these years because they offer so many complimentary items or sometimes waive the whole bill. My Mom taught second grade and all three of the Chiu children were in her class, and Mr. and Mrs. Chiu were constantly saying thank you by way of cashew chicken. It always seemed like there was enough to spare for them to share and it was their pleasure to please us.
It’s such a lesson, right? It’s so tricky to stay away from the idea of lack and scarcity. When we fear we have something to lose, it is very hard to muster up the faith and belief that our needs will be met, or that we will have enough to share with our neighbor.
Whenever I feel like I have less than I need or want I have a little trick that I learned from my yoga teacher friend, Lara. At the beginning of one of her classes, she asked us to take a deep breath. She asked us to generously sip it in. “Instead of being at an all you can eat buffet, you are at an all you can breathe buffet. It’s free! There is plenty. And plenty more for the next breath. You are rich with breath. There is enough for everyone in this room.” How lovely is that?
And the trick is that when I do this little breath exercise, I have shifted my focus. I have calmed myself down. I have reminded myself of the richness the universe provides. I realize that as long as I have my breath I will be okay. So thank you, Lara. And thank you, Arthur Chiu and family, for the generosity. And Happy Chinese New Year to all of you. I wish you good fortune!
To celebrate, my loved ones and I will be feasting on cashew chicken, black pepper pot tofu, tempura vegetables, and this Salad Of Abundance. I cut the carrots in coins, if you remember from Jazz Part Two, vegetables cut into coins are a sweet little nod to money. And pomegranate seeds are plentiful with symbolism. Ancient Egyptians regarded the pomegranate as a symbol of prosperity and ambition. Greeks offer pomegranates as a symbol of fertility, abundance, and good luck. The pomegranate is also the symbol of Armenia and represents fertility, abundance and marriage.
And lastly, I used blue cheese because copper wires are inserted into some blue cheeses before the aging process begins to oxidize and spread the mold spores, so I imagine little pennies being melted down to make this delicious cheese.
Salad of Abundance
- 1 pound washed and dried baby arugula
- 1 large carrot (I used a maroon or betasweet carrot) carefully shaved into coins on a mandoline or cut thinly with a sharp knife
- ¼ cup crumbled blue cheese
- ½ cup pomegranate seeds
Sweet lemon dressing:
- ½ cup lemon juice
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon mustard
Combine the dressing ingredients in a glass jar with a lid, close tightly, and shake vigorously. Toss the salad ingredients in a bowl with enough dressing to just coat everything. Pour out on to a platter and feel like you have enough as you enjoy it.