Happy Lunar New Year!

The emergence of the New Year takes time and I love to celebrate it in as many ways as I can.

Another New Year is another occasion to wish you good health.

Last week my daughter had an assignment to interview me for her Health class. After some awkward moments – she complained I was sounding too much like a pod-caster and I had to exercise great self-restraint to keep my answers brief and to the point – we came at last to the final question. It was simple: “What is my one piece of advice for her health?” We spend a lot of time in the weeds of my daughter’s interests in healthy habits – sleep, skin care, creative recipes from YouTube, and workout routines. Here was my big moment to say one important thing that she had a chance of remembering.

I froze.

Then I remembered my Qigong teacher Master Chunyi Lin’s simple summary of Taoist teaching and it seemed perfect for this moment too.

I told her the secret to good health can be encapsulated in the song “Row, Row, Row your boat.” Here’s what I mean.

An old south Asian woman paddles her boat.

Row, Row, Row your Boat

Your body is your boat and you are responsible for its care. I’m reminded of the expression “Pray to God, but row for shore.” God, the Universe, Mystery may help you, but we also need to put in your effort. Also, you are not rowing other peoples’ boats.


All that rowing sounds like a lot of effort. Be gentle. Be gentle to your body and muscles. Be gentle with your paddle and boat so they last a long time.

…Down the Stream

Go with the flow of life. Don’t fight or push the river. Don’t argue with the Universe. It’s not possible to hold onto the past. We need to let go and forgive and stay oriented to the future.

A woman wearing a yellow helmet navigates her canoe through gentle rapids.
A solo canoe paddler makes ripples across the lake at sunset with the words "merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily"

Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Merrily

Life is about being happy and sharing joy. This song is emphasizing this point by repeating “merrily” four times. You could say it is for each season or each direction. We are to be merry all times for no reason and every reason. The only way merriness like this is possible is when we experience love as unconditional and ever-present. Don’t you want to live with a love like that?

Life is But a Dream

I find this perhaps the most profound lines of the song. It means so much more than “life is swell.” I believe it also means that life is created through our dreaming. Dreaming can include any way our imagination and consciousness dance with the imagination and consciousness of the Universe. Life is nothing but this creative dance!

A solo kayaker paddles into the mist.

That’s it! A simple song to inspire your health.

Which lines are easy for you? Which ones feel challenging?



Image of Emily over the image of a forest with the words "Qigong Healing Retreat"

A Few Spaces Remain in the Qigong Healing Retreat

Give your body a full re-set and learn skills to empower your health every day at this special immersion in qigong. On-Site or In Person, February 24-26 – Early Bird Registration ends January 26. Click here to learn more.

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