Nurture your inner bunny
Beth Cooper Howell
As we slide into the Year of the Rabbit, we'd be wise to remember that bunnies don't like to fight - they just want to be happy.
The go-getting, enthusiastic energy of 2010 - ruled by the hot-headed, happy-go-lucky Tiger - makes way for creativity, compassion and conflict resolution. This year you'll need to start relaxing more, play a lot and get in touch with your artistic, imaginative side.
You might feel tired and lacking in 'va-va-voom' as you start the new school term. This is quite natural in a Rabbit-ruled year. The energy focuses more on being peaceful than on overly ambitious.
Everybody has responsibilities, but all work and no play will make you dull and downbeat. The rabbit's gift to you this year is the chance to spend some time getting to know who you are and what you really enjoy doing.
You could start by giving yourself a 'me' morning or afternoon at the beginning of the year. This means clearing your schedule and doing something fun. Perhaps you and a friend could page through some magazines to create a collage of people, places and things you like. Or you could have a nice picnic at a local park.
We all have different talents. The rabbit energy celebrates imagination and art. This doesn't mean you have to be an excellent painter to benefit from the year. It can be quite stimulating just to bake and ice cupcakes.
You could also tap your creative juices by starting a journal. You could paste or draw pictures in it, write poetry, or copy down quotes that inspire you. Or why not gaze at the clouds and try to find shapes in them? You will be amazed at how much better you feel when you get in touch with your inner self.
Rabbit energy is friendly and family-focused. It symbolises being surrounded by those you love - and looking out for people you care about. Every year has its ups and downs, but this year, make an effort to be extra diplomatic and tactful.
You may be tempted to put off unpleasant tasks or avoid dealing with difficult people. Instead, take a deep breath and find a calm, practical way to sort problems out before they get out of hand.
Relationships will be an interesting area of growth this year because the rabbit is emotional and sensitive. You might find yourself quarrelling with your best friend, or feeling hurt by someone's actions. Bonds with special people can suffer if nobody speaks up and clears the air - that's one of the potentially negative aspects of the Year of the Rabbit.
The funny thing about rabbit energy is that it tends to bolt away from stress - and hide under a bush. But this only makes stress worse. A lot of people will be upset, angry or irritated but they will not show it. So while things might look peaceful, there could be an earthquake rumbling under the surface.
Find ways to get rid of negative energy playfully. Play with your little brother or sister. Take someone's dog for a walk. Put on your favourite music and dance the hours away. Try a new cake recipe.
You will gain respect by quietly but firmly taking control of issues that are bothering others. If you are involved in a group project, for example, you can ensure that everybody is happy with their roles and chores by simply asking how they feel and if there's anything bothersome they'd like to discuss.
The key to success lies in gently uncovering the rot in a situation. Because you - and others - would prefer not to rock the boat, there's potential for that boat to sink. If you can get around this obstacle in a Rabbit Year, you'll be praised for being a natural leader and, more importantly, a peacemaker.
Fashionwise, you could be your stylish best. Rabbits love soft, silky, fabrics and trendy looks, so expect to be spoiled for choice when choosing clothes, shoes and makeup. All the hot fashion houses are going to have some delicious surprises in store.
Being sophisticated and classy will be much easier over the next 12 months. You can take advantage by having a mini makeover, going for a new hairstyle, or trying a bold new colour such as hot pink or sunset orange.
Colour is about more than simply looking good. Think sparkling purples, shades of bright green, blue and sunshine yellow. You could re-decorate your bedroom by putting up new posters, making a pretty cushion, or (in the case of guys) polishing up and displaying some favourite childhood toys, such as cars, collectibles or special books.
At home, you should put things in order by getting organised and having a good old spring clean-up. Get rid of old, broken, tatty or outdated stuff by recycling or giving them to charity. A clean, uncluttered environment is part of the Rabbit's recipe for success. An untidy room is a no-no.
In general, now is a good time to improve all areas of your life. Focus on being a good friend. Try to worry less, balance work and play better, finish tasks on time, deal with problems promptly and peacefully and avoid stressful situations.
Above all, make sure you enjoy the year ahead. It has the potential to make you a very happy bunny!