July 2016


I’m a person who lives by her “to do” list – daily, weekly, monthly and yearly. I’m also a great one for wanting to plan ahead – you know, to avoid the last-minute drama that erupts from procrastination.  Yet for all my planning and preparation, one thing seems to continually escape me:  time.

It’s not that I miss meetings or that I’m late for appointments – my skillful planning takes care of all that. It’s the seasonal things that I seem to miss.  The last time I looked up from my computer it was the New Year.  We had just completed all the fall and winter festivities, concluding with the big Christmas crescendo.  Now I look up and it’s summer!   And before I know it, I’ll glance up again and the blur of Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas/Hannukah/New Year will arrive once more.  It’s not that I dislike the holidays; on the contrary, I actually look forward to them.  But it seems that each of them whizzes by me before I even realize they’re here.

So this summer, I’ve decided to embrace the season. I’m making a conscious effort to savor the long, lazy days of what the Italians call Dolce Far Niente – the sweetness of doing nothing  — wait – what – me doing nothing?  Well, almost.

Dolce Far Niente

Niente, I have learned is an active nothing.  It’s not a passive pass at doing zilch, it is not helplessness; rather it is a potent gesture that is active and meaningful. This sounds less indulgent to me, and, dare I say it, somewhat do-able.

The Chinese have a similar phrase Wei Wu Wei, which translates into action through inaction and originates from Lao Tzu’s classic book, Tao Te Ching. Wei Wu Wei more accurately implies natural action – action that does not engage struggle or excessive energy.

wei wu wei

Yet, in our multi-tasking, activity-driven society, this is not easily achieved. The mind wants to be doing something all the time. I know mine does – it’s typing up a project, checking emails and thinking of dinner simultaneously at this very moment.

Exactly how does one achieve doing non-doing? And what are the benefits?

Doing Non-Doing is Powerful

Wei Wu Wei refers to action non-action for things unnecessary. Let’s take a look at a couple of examples.


Say you want to grow a plant. Start with some seeds, cover it with nourishing soil, water it, give it sunlight and fertilizer.  Once that is completed, begin the non-doing by leaving the plant alone and let it grow on its own.

The seedlings need time and space to grow. You cannot dig the seed up every day to see if it is sprouting – that would most certainly, if not entirely, impede its growth!  So you can see how in this instance, doing nothing is doing something.


Here’s another example:  riding a bike.  You peddle to move the bicycle forward, find your balance, and sit while the bicycle moves on with its momentum.  You do nothing, and yet move ahead effortlessly.

Athletes, dancers and artists talk of following their flow,  (link is external)the mental state of being completely present and fully immersed in an undertaking. When in flow, the creator and the universe become one, external distractions retreat from awareness, and one’s mind is fully open and attuned to the present act.  This is Wei Wu Wei, or doing non-doing.   Flow is vital to creativity and well-being across many areas — from sports to music to spirituality and sex.

Just imagine how much more powerful we can be, if we can focus in such manner.


I’m going to try my own experiment and follow this summer’s invitation to practice Dolce Far Niente and Wei Wu Wei. And if anyone wants to join me, please do, and feel free to share your experiences here with us.

Until next time,


February 2016


2016: Year of the Fire Monkey

Fasten your seatbelt! According to, February 8, 2016 to January 27, 2017 — the Year of the Fire Monkey – brings the assertive and spontaneous energy of Fire to join the Monkey’s jubilant, curious, and innovative nature. Monkey, Rat, and Dragon natives nearly have to be nailed down in this exciting time. Opportunities and encouragement are everywhere. Big dreams are within grasp. This year’s energy ignites heated rivalry. Detailed preparation attracts success. Be prepared to work vigorously and stand up for what you deserve. The powerful March 8 Solar Eclipse inspires and affects many in a positive way, particularly Rabbit, Goat, and Pig natives, to dust off old dreams and reevaluate what’s possible. The more willing you are to courageously reconsider your comfort zone, make new friends, and put yourself out there, the better your returns, as the confident and impulsive Fire power meets the Monkey’s happy, inquisitive, and inventive nature. Check below to see how the year’s outlook can work to your benefit and for more detailed readings, go to



Your animal’s year, is lucky for you, clear and straightforward. A Monkey with definite goals for the future set in February will enjoy greater achievement by year’s end. Fire can make you anxious. Be prepared for delays, or the necessity to revise your tactics between March and August. Hard work and attentiveness to detail will draw opportunities. March 8 and September 1 are important dates for any new start. Fire energy encourages exciting ideas and fervent confrontations. Expect surprising turns of fortune come October. Teamwork supports your interests. Displaying confidence and humility gets you noticed.



In the Year of Fire Monkey, the Rooster in a solid position to inspire others. March 8 is your power day for creating any fresh start. The Rooster represents rules, order, and common sense. You shine by upholding and sustaining these structures, particularly from March through August. Pioneering Monkey years can be stressful. It may seem that those around you are more irresponsible than usual. Monkey increases your ability to, organize, improvise, and prioritize, especially from October through January 2017. You’ll find diplomacy, teamwork, and an inclination to compromise will invite more opportunities than upholding the status quo.



The honest Dog enjoys an upsurge of self-assurance that elevates you into a natural leader during the year of the Monkey. The Dog radiates a positive energy others admire. This powerful magnetism makes a Dog unstoppable if you, or yours, are threatened. “Never met a problem I cannot overcome”… this kind of Monkey energy has the Dog bolting this way and that. You’ll be full of creative ideas and solutions, not all of which will be effective. Older guides will be especially helpful in steering your choices. March 8 and September 1 are Dog’s power days for a fresh start.



The year of the Fire Monkey for the Pig imparts an abundance of blessings on the sensual, honest, and strong-willed person born under this sign. Your determination, emotions, and yearnings are stronger than ever. You may feel as the year begins that anything is possible, and it is. The Monkey helps you pursue your dreams with a refusal to stop that puts others to shame. In a year when Monkey tricks are all around, the Pig will more easily recognize who is honest and who is not. March 8 and September 1 are both power days for a Pig to set a goal or make any fresh start.



The Rat and Monkey are great friends so teamwork and innovative ideas will open possibilities. Your well-deserved status as someone worthy of respect persists and grows. The March 8 New Moon/Total Eclipse can be a crossroads that demands a choice. Ambitious goals may stall in June. Rat natives may need to concede to what’s unfolding. Noticeable roadblocks are necessary teachings to help create a better future. By August some of your highest hopes seem more probable. Be flexible October through December as Monkey ingenuity ignites some real breakthroughs.



Ox and Monkey are opposite signs so the Ox will see periodic delays and unexpected challenges this year. The Monkey strengthens the Ox’s reliability, integrity, and independence. You’ll be impressive as Fire increases your already considerable confidence. Be malleable and amenable toward whatever comes your direction. Others’ shortcuts, schemes, deflections, and complications and appear with a Monkey year. Ox’s fixed element, Water, has authority over Fire. Have faith in yourself not go overboard or get crazy. Cautious good sense helps the Ox measure ideas matching to their practical applications. You’ll know the difference between friendly fantasy and life-transforming inspiration.



A Tiger’s roar and fearsome influence are on show this year. A Tiger enjoying a Monkey influence has amplified his or her charms and fortitude to win. You’ll eat challenges for lunch, and then come back for more. It’s your year to boldly carry out plans to save the world. March 8 and September 1 are particularly powerful days for any fresh start. It’s also an outstanding year for travel, if you’re interested. Joining forces with compatible friends will help give you a sense of proportion and outlook.



This year promises Rabbits an extra share of good luck, along with a few surprises. Popular Rabbits are known for their respectable manners and self-discipline. Chinese astrology considers your sign a luck magnet. No matter the task, have faith you’ll land on your feet. Rabbit’s calm exterior covers a complicated inner life. With the super-confident Monkey whispering in your ear, you may be tempted to excesses. Your best success will come through hard work and stamina in the face of frustration. Things really start to flow in your direction after the September 22 Equinox.



The Dragon and Monkey are great friends so with the Monkey energy in play, everything about the Fire-loving Dragon will be enhanced. Keep domineering tendencies in check or you may impair yourself, especially near the energy -packed March 8 Total Eclipse. Even magnificent ideas need teamwork to succeed. Luckily, the lively Monkey is nothing if not practical. With the Monkey helping, you’ll see things with more clarity. After some delays through July and August you’ll begin to sense you have really turned a corner after the September 1 New Moon. After that, delight in the ride!



For the snake, this Monkey year encourages you to be a nicer, gentler person. No matter how tightly coiled you feel, you’ll give the impression of calm… and that’s highly attractive to others. Snake’s ruling element, Fire, in a Fire year, means it’s time for a personal makeover. Monkey eases your guarded self-reliance. You’ll discover real gratification in opening up to people. The ambitious Monkey is practical like you, but much more outgoing. As part of a working unit, especially in the second half of the year, dreams actually can come true.



Horse natives will be especially dynamic and inventive this year. The March 8 Eclipse is your power day for new beginnings or a commitment to build a better future. Almost instantaneously after this, the Horse will be challenged to be persevering and mature when facing delays or frustrations over which you have little control. The Fire Monkey helps you control your temper and impatience. If you persevere and refuse to quit, things will open up by September 1. Expect the last quarter of the year to be especially rewarding!



This year, goats will have less reason to worry and any disappointments will seem more manageable. Busy Monkey cuts through vulnerable feelings with a flurry of forward-thinking, practical ideas. Your growing confidence and optimism opens doors and attracts new friends. March 8 and September 1 are especially lucky days to ask for help or start something new. Goats hate impulsive decisions, yet the quickness of Fire years requires more spontaneous thinking on your part. October may be particularly challenging… remember that a calm mind eases stress and brings health benefits as well.

How does your year ahead look?  Has anything happened so far, to confirm your Chinese Horoscope?

I’d love to hear your experiences or thoughts!


8 thoughts on “Blog

  1. Ron Fong

    Hi Layne,

    I just finished your book, . Shanghai Love. Thank you so much for writing it. It was so engaging and so informative of the meaning behind Chinese culture I’ve experienced to some degree, not quite understanding the purpose or meaning behind it.

    Thank you again. Please let me know when you next book is out.

    P.S. I’ve lived in the Bay Area all my life.

    1. Post author

      Dear Ron,

      Thank you for reaching out and letting me know how much you enjoyed Shanghai Love! It warms my heart when individuals take the time, as you did, to write me and let me know. Be sure you’re on my email list so I can keep you up to date!



    2. Post author

      Dear Ron,

      Thank you for such a thoughtful note! I love the Bay Area, and I’m proud to let you know that Kinokuniya Bookstore at 1581 Webster St in San Francisco carries copies of Shanghai Love. I will definitely let you know when my next novel comes out!

      With appreciation,

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