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Feel-Good February

Editor’s Story

What’s your definition of feeling good?

Feeling good about yourself?

Or feeling good about others and the wider world in general?

We think both these definitions of feel-good feelings can – and should - be rolled-up into one big ball of universal goodness, radiating upbeat vibes of optimism.

Although it’s true that all these good feelings have been hard to come by of late, it’s reassuring to see some cheer at last with flickers of light at the end of the pandemic tunnel.

It all bodes well for the future – and we’ve been feeling pretty good ourselves after our first issue of Brilliant took off to spread its multi-media content far and wide.

With a profusion of embedded QR codes, pop-ups and links in various formats that deepen messages and information, Brilliant’s been likened to the magical Daily Prophet newspaper of Harry Potter books and films.

How delightful – in this bright digital age - that fantasy can quickly become reality and spread the feelgood factor!

A Tale of the Ox

Another reason to feel good this February is the dawn of the Chinese New Year – the Year of the Metal Ox, the second animal of the Chinese zodiac – with characteristics of hard work, positivity and honesty for the coming 12 months.

For those of a more analytical persuasion, the Chinese astrological calendar rotates in 60-year cycles based on 12 earthly branches represented by an animal year; and five element years of wood, fire, earth, metal and water. Each earthly branch has an element, and a Yin or Yang force.

Of course, no-one anywhere will be lamenting the end of the previous Year of the Rat.

Appropriately, with everything that happened in 2020, the traditional Chinese interpretation of the Year of the Rat’s force is fast, hard and active Yang with a water element denoting continual change.

With all this celestial symbolism, it’s hardly surprising that 2020 turned out to be filled with so much rapid tumult and tragedy.

But 2021 is the Year of the Metal Ox, regarded as grounded, loyal, gentle and trustworthy.

Its earthly branch is associated with Yin, which is slow, soft and passive, and its element earth represents stability and nourishment.

Chinese astrologers say all the characteristics and associations of the Ox have synergy and point to a favourable year ahead.


So, does that mean 12 months of docile plodding and slow progress as some might perceive the character of an Ox to exemplify?

As always, life is what you make it – and the Ox also embodies traits of strength, industry and perseverance.

The past year has been a torrid one, and all of us are looking for encouragement that it will be the platform for us to move on and create a brighter, happier year.

What better inspiration than the hard-working and down-to-earth Ox to help us achieve that?

Embrace the Ox, feel good with its strength and move forward!

The Sustainable Scene

While there’s no doubt that hard work inspired by the Ox will bring its rewards, it’s worth considering the symbolism of the Ox in our global drive for sustainability across all aspects of daily living.

Down on the farm, sustainable practices – some of them involving oxen and cattle – are reaping dividends in terms of healthier animal lives and better produce.

From Farm to Plate has become the watchword for those seeking foodstuffs that are better and more ethically sourced, with focus on animal welfare and environmental protection. A good example is one regional micro business, My Blue Tea whose entire process is neatly expressed in their Farm to Consumer and Soil to Plate initiatives that encourage buyers of its products to explore all the ethical practices inherent in the agriculture and production processes.

One festival out of the many being staged during February exemplifies this approach.

The 23rd edition of the National Sustainable Living Festival in Melbourne is held for the entire month – albeit with Covid restrictions in place - to once again encourage widespread cooperation in the pursuit of social and ecological sustainability.

This long-running festival has helped push sustainable living into the mainstream and continues to present creative opportunities to connect with the positive, while empowering social movement of sustainability.

This year’s festival themes of: Culture of Care; Emergency Lessons; Local Matters; and Reboot & Respond stress the need to keep firm sight on the bigger picture of the need to sustain the planet, despite environmental, social and economic disruptions.

Its laudable mission should resonate with all of us in our efforts to maintain and enhance sustainable practices both at home and in the workplace.

Ethical Practices in the Outback

With all the devastation wrought by climate change-linked bushfires, drought and flooding, it’s no wonder that Australia has such prominent efforts such as the National Sustainable Living Festival focusing attention on the need for determined sustainable practices.

Elsewhere in the country, others have taken up the crusade to make sustainable living part of everyday life.

A fascinating example of this is actually far distant from the hustle and bustle of urban life more associated with wasteful practices.

Way outback in the Goldfields of Leonara, Western Australia, is Marnta Sandalwood, an Aboriginal-owned sandalwood harvesting, seeding and oil product company.

Originally set up by Kado Muir and his wife Deeva, Marnta Sandalwood is committed to the sustainable harvesting and management of Sandalwood trees in the wild. It also creates employment and opportunities for Aboriginal people in the northern Goldfields region.

Kado, who grew up living in the bush has a passion – expressed in Marnta Sandalwood’s operations – to: “Look after country, community and culture.”

He achieves this by creating oils for luxury skin care and fragrance products, living and working on the land and caring for a plant that’s supported and sustained Aboriginal people for generations.

Marnta Sandalwood only harvests dead Sandalwood trees in the wild, planting seeds to promote new growth and sustain the species, and working with others who share the same vision and ethics of sustainability.

It’s a picture of earthly harmony that many would do well to emulate in this forthcoming hard-working Year of the Ox.

Here's Noel Ong from Samso interviewing Kado Muir, Founder of Marnta Sandalwood

Go as Bare as You Dare

But before you knuckle-down to all this earnest toil, perhaps there’s time to celebrate earthly harmony in a more prosaic – end certainly eye-catching - fashion at the end of February.

The World Naked Bike Ride is scheduled to be staged in Melbourne on Sunday, 28th February – Covid considerations permitting - as one of many such rides to be held in different cities around the world during the year.

This highly-visible event has the serious purposes of promoting cycling as an alternative to car culture, as well as highlighting vulnerability of cyclists to motorists, and furthering positive body images for all.

It’s clothing-optional, so more modest cyclists keen to show their empathy with these ideals without showing all at the same time, can join in the ride.

And only the most severe weather, or Covid restrictions, will put the brakes on and cover up this spectacular yet worthy event.


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