2020 Year of the Rat

Year of the Rat2

Chinese New Year starts on January 25, 2020 – it’s the Year of the Metal Rat.

The Rat is the first sign in the 12 animal cycle of the Chinese Astrology, and this is just one reason that 2020 is considered a year of new beginnings and renewals!

In the Chinese Zodiac there are 12 animals and 5 elements, which makes for a 60 year cycle. We are now at the start of a new 60 year cycle – and a new decade, the 20’s. This is a fabulous year for planning and starting something, setting goals and working hard.

The Metal Rat Year is going to be a strong, prosperous, and lucky year for almost all Chinese Zodiac signs. Everyone will show determination regarding their goals, aspirations, and even their hobbies. Those who plan to buy real estate, to start a business or to invest money in a long-term project have great chances of being satisfied in the future. But, beware! This type of initiative will only be successful if they are carefully planned.

In matters of health & physical vitality, the Rat type is “active” or “preoccupied”. One needs to be careful and remember not to over-exert in activities that could cause injuries to the lower parts of the body. Adequate rest and a proper diet are also important things to consider, since the Year of the Rat will prove to be busy.

2020 is a “make it or break it year” in the love department. In love relationships, Rats find it easy to start a new relationship with someone, but they also break-off relationships easily. Although business partnerships will bring success, couples will be tested. Some will get stronger as a result, while others may collapse. With an active nature, Rats enjoy a flexible social circle. They are interested in attending different kinds of social occasions. This is an auspicious year to make new friends and cover new ground.

The Year of the Pig (2019) was fundamentally about completion, self-care and balance, while the Year of the Rat (2020) is expected to be more about progression and starting a new project with great energy. This will be a good year to expand your knowledge or receive extra training in your career. Success will flourish in the workplace, yielding benefits of all kinds. Hard work will be rewarded; your clever skills, quick-thinking, and optimism will drive you forward. Remember, the Rat is resourceful and able to free itself from tight spots.

The Rat is considered a protector and a bringer of prosperity in the Chinese culture. Finances should be thriving for the entirety of the year! It would do you well to save and invest your hard-earned money. Try to avoid spending it all on luxurious items and vacations. Instead, splurge on little experiences here and there. Rats have a love for hoarding – try to avoid will wasting money on unnecessary things.

1900, 1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020

People born in the Year of the Rat are instinctive, acute and alert in nature which makes them brilliant business people. They can always react properly before the worst circumstances take place. They are also sophisticated and popular in social interaction. They are survivors and very adaptable, being popular with others. Due to their acute instinct and calmness, they can do well in business. Disaster will make their capability more outstanding. Some live a thrifty life but still strive hard in work.

Some Rats like criticizing and complaining when problems occur. They are also a bit picky in others’ shortcomings, which usually offend others unconsciously. Occasionally rely on their outstanding instinct too much. They might be stubborn, and hardly listen to advice from others. They are likely to change jobs frequently, lack of persistence and stability, so it’s hard for them to concentrate in one thing.

Some FAMOUS FOLKS born under the influence of this Chinese Astrology Sign are: Katy Perry, Antonio Banderas, Avril Lavigne, Ben Affleck, Cameron Diaz, Churchill, President Jimmy Carter, Grant, Jude Law, Julianne Moore, Kathy Bates, Kenny Loggins, Marlon Brando, Mozart, President George Washington, Samuel J Jackson, Sean Penn, Shakespeare, Mark Zuckerberg, Prince Harry, Prince Charles, Mandy Moore, & Scarlett Johansson.

In short, 2020 will be another year of change as the Universe continues in its accelerated transitional period but, given the rat’s traits, the world will be equipped to cope!

written by Gretchen Hidell, intuitive astrologer

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The Spark in the Machine: How the Science of Acupuncture Explains the Mysteries of Western Medicine by Daniel Keown


Spark in the Machine blew me away. Dan Keown’s writing is witty and accessible and his connections between Chinese and western medicine are illuminating. This book details the different systems in Chinese medicine and fills in the blanks using western medical anatomy and physiology – and shows that the ancient Chinese knew these things thousands of years ago.

Western science has too young to be able to explain Chinese medicine, but this book, along with the newly discovered organ, the interstitium, and research on fascia and its bio-conductivity, is the beginning of true understanding. It is becoming clear how the ancient Chinese and the modern western theories of medicine support and complement each other other.

I can’t wait to read this book again.



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Zero Balancing I – Colchester, VT – April 2-5, 2020


This is a four day class April 02, 2020 – April 05, 2020 that will be held at my home in Colchester, VT and will be taught by Michele Doucette, D.C.


Zero Balancing is a leading-edge, hands-on, body-mind therapy.  It combines the Western view of medicine and science from the field of osteopathy with Eastern concepts of energy and healing from the field of acupuncture.  ZB affects the whole person (body, mind, and spirit) by providing both structural therapy and energy medicine simultaneously.  It promotes a deeply meditative state in which sub-optimal tension patterns are easily released.  Like adjusting the tension on a guitar string, ZB leaves a person more in tune with their essential being, more resonant with their true self…more relaxed, comfortable, resilient, awake, self-aware, grounded, and expanded.

This is the first course of the Core Zero Balancing curriculum and introduces the intellectual and practical framework of the art and Read More »

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Trifecta Meatballs (Whole30 compliant)



These meatballs are sooo much better than the turkey meatballs I made last week, which I over-cooked because I was following a recipe that said to use a meat thermometer to check the inside temperature, but it didn’t work and I cooked them too long. I suggest when you think they might be done, take one out and cut it in half to see if it is done on the inside.

I created this recipe because I wanted a meatball recipe that would be Whole 30 compliant and super tasty, and it is! It’s also super easy. Read More »

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Zero Balancing, Acupuncture, Physics and Delux Treatments

I have been doing Zero Balancing for about 12 years and certified for nearly 10. Have you heard me talk about it? It is amazing stuff, and I want to share it with you. See below about my Delux treatment.

Zero Balancing works on the level of the bones, ligaments, tendons and fascia. All of these tissues are primarily made up of collagen, which is know to be bio-conductive, i.e. energy can be transferred through these tissues. In Zero Balancing I can feel where there is more held energy or denseness in the bones and tissues. By creating a fulcrum with my hands (light to medium pressure held for a few seconds at at time) the held energy at that spot is able to be released and dispersed to be used in other parts of the body. In physics this phenomenon is known as the piezoelectric effect. An example of this is when you press the button to ignite the grill – Read More »

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New Rates

It is time to raise my rates. My rates for acupuncture follow-up appointments haven’t changed for so long that I cannot remember when I last raised them. After a little research I found that 12 years ago I was charging the same as I am now, so it has been at least 12 years since my last rate increase. So, I am raising my rates by $10. Here is the new fee schedule:

Acupuncture follow-ups (50 minutes): $85

Acupuncture initial session (2 hours): $185 (no change)

Zero Balancing session (35 minutes): $85

Delux treatment – acupuncture + mini Zero Balancing (75 minutes): $125

Thai Bodywork (75 minutes): $125

Shonishin (no needle treatment) for babies and toddlers (20 minutes): $55

Shonishin/acupuncture combo for kids (35-50 minutes): $85

Herbal medicine – varies but most tablets will increase from $18 to $20 – and concentrated granules (powders) from $.25/gram to $.30/gram. My main goal with herbs is to cover the costs, so I am still making the effort to keep the prices reasonable.




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Happy Year of the Earth Pig 2019


2019 is the Year of the Earth Pig according to Chinese Zodiac. Starting from Feb. 5, 2019 (Chinese New Year) and lasting to Jan. 24, 2020.

Pig is the twelfth in the 12-year cycle of Chinese Zodiac Sign. The Years of the Pig include: 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031, 2043…

Come on out of the doghouse—there’s a party in the pig pen! The pleasant and genial Earth Pig’s arrival is a welcome relief after 2018’s Earth Dog antics. Dogs are pack animals, and in the past year, groups have stuck together out of “loyalty,” at times, to a fault.

People with Chinese Zodiac Pig sign are considerate, responsible, independent and optimistic. They always show generousness and mercy to endure other people’s mistakes, which help them gain harmonious interpersonal relationships. However, sometimes they have a lazy and indolent streak and can lack actions. In addition, pure hearts would let them be cheated easily in daily life.

  • Strengths: Warm-hearted, good-tempered, loyal, honest, gentle.
  • Weaknesses: Naive, gullible, sluggish, short-tempered. Read More »
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Soup Basics: How to Make Soup in 6 Easy Steps

chicken soupIf you know the basics of soup making, you don’t need to follow the recipe word for word, but instead can glean inspiration from recipes and use what you have on hand. With a nice sharp chef knife, a cutting board and a Dutch oven there are endless possibilities. See equipment below.

Step 1: Soup base –  Mirepoix

The base of the soup usually starts with sautéing some vegetables, which flavors the oil or fat. Choose a fat that can handle the temperature. Read more about FATS here.

  • Ghee, clarified butter
  • Coconut Oil
  • Lard
  • Bacon Fat
  • Tallow (beef fat)
  • Butter – keep heat fairly low
  • Olive oil – also not recommended to sautéed at high heat

Warm the oil/fat on medium heat in a thick-bottomed deep soup pan, such as a Dutch oven, and sauté:

1-2 finely chopped onion, shallot or leek

then 1-2 carrots, and if I have it, celery, both chopped finely, or medium-fine, about a half inch chunks.

Sprinkle with sea salt (maybe a ½ teaspoon or so, I dunno exactly, I don’t measure, I add a little as I go along and usually end up needing to add more at the end.)

Chefs call the classic mixture “mirepoix”, otherwise known as the “holy trinity” in the cooking world.

Step 2: More vegetables

If you want to add more vegetables, you can add them to the mirepoix about 5-10 minutes after the carrots and onions.

What do you have in the fridge? Here are some vegetable ideas:

  • Sweet potatoes, parsnips, celerac, butternut squash
  • Mushrooms – crimini, shiitake
  • Bell peppers – green, red, yellow
  • Kale, any variety Read More »
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Gretchen Hidell

headshot_gretchen_smallGretchen Hidell: Intuitive Astrologer, NLP Life Coach, Hypnotist, & Reiki Master

Gretchen has worked with me in my office for, wow, 10 years. If you haven’t had an astrology reading with her, it might be time. Gretchen is just fabulous.

Introducing, Gretchen Hidell:
Make personal discoveries which lead to self-empowerment & healing. Allow me to guide you through the exploration of your Soul’s Blueprint. Release patterns, gain knowledge, and reconnect with your own beautiful Spirit!! I have been studying the art of Astrology for 35+ years now! Both my mother & grandmother had interest in the subject and my mother started buying me Dell Astrology Books when I was just 12yrs old. Since then, I’ve been reading Astrological Charts for friends & family throughout my life. I have many types of Astrology charts to choose from and several styles of Readings.

In addition to my extensive knowledge in Astrology, I also use my Intuition and Physical Mediumship abilities. I am clairvoyant, clairaudient, & clairsentient – meaning I see, hear, and feel energy. I will often have “visions” about missing person cases, medical issues, and remote viewing – using these skills to expertly guide you. Being a psychical medium means that I assist people in connecting with deceased loved ones. After a person (or pet) has passed away, very often our conversations with them feel very one-sided. I love connecting people to remind them that the veil between worlds is actually very thin. Read More »

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Year of the Dog 2018

2018 is the Year of the Earth Dog.

Friday 16 February was the first day of the Chinese New Year this year.

Dog years: 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, and 2030…

The Dog is known to be friendly, kind, loyal and pack-oriented. Some of the major themes of the Dog Year are justice, practicality, protection. Honesty and truthfulness are also Dog values.

Bill Clinton and Donald Trump are Dogs.

OK, so obviously we need to take the Chinese horoscope with a grain of salt, along with some common sense. Here are some themes that can help everyone, especially during a Dog Year.

Read More »

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