ARIES (March 21-April 19):
In my ongoing crusade to keep from boring myself, I did a survey to determine the words I use just way too much. The worst offenders are--surprise!--just and way. Other terms I rely on with embarrassing frequency are the adjectives gorgeous and rowdy, the verbs rebel and explore, and the oxymorons fiercely tender and wildly disciplined. No more! For the next 10 days, I pledge to refrain from invoking these worn-out substitutes for original thought. I will also throw down the gauntlet to you, Aries. Do you have the guts to follow my lead? It is, after all, an ideal time to leap out of your ruts and create something out of nothing. I dare you to forswear the five buzzwords and five shticks you have run into the ground.
TAURUS (April 20-May 20):
Spanish poet Juan Ramón Jiménez won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1956. The award was not based on his first two books, Souls of Violet and Waterlilies, both published in 1900. By the time he'd matured as a writer, Jiménez was acutely embarrassed by the maudlin tone of those early works. He tried to hunt down and destroy every copy. I bring this up to inspire you, Taurus. From an astrological perspective, it's prime time to wipe out or make amends for anything from your past you don't want to let define you anymore.
GEMINI (May 21-June 20):
If you're the kind of person who is delighted when the weather changes suddenly, you will love the coming days. If you are skilled at catching your balance in the midst of a stumble, you will thrive. If you know how to inject rich, mysterious truths into soulless dead ends, the whole world will rise up and celebrate you. And if you try to act like anyone other than your original self, you will misplace your TV remote and have to buy a new one.
CANCER (June 21-July 22):
The Peak Experience Season has arrived for us Crabs. It's a time to grab for glory--with elegance and grace if possible, but with voracious glee if necessary. As you gear up your game plan to garner all the gusto you can handle, soak up these words of wisdom: ''You've got to dare to suck in order to be great''--pop star Ricky Martin. ''The harder you work, the luckier you get''--golfer Gary Player. ''If at first you don't succeed, redefine success''
--the T-shirt I found at Goodwill. (PS: Please do not derive any inspiration from the following advice: ''The important thing is: I beat up someone who hurt my feelings in high school''--Leela, Futurama.)
LEO (July 23-Aug. 22):
Congratulations, Leo: You reached the outer limits of your world and then
kept right on going. The guardian of the threshold glowered and demanded the password, and with a smile you said ''fierce integrity.'' Now you're out in the wilderness where the frontier overlaps the
forbidden zone, breaking taboos left and right. If
it were up to me, you'd keep exploring for a while, then wander back to more familiar territory around the end of April. Keep in mind that when you do choose to return, you'll have to go through a metaphorical version of customs.
VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22):
If you've read my column for even a few months, you know that I do not pay much homage to guilt and fear. They are almost always useless emotions that sap your will to do what's in the best interests of everyone involved. Now and then, however, guilt can motivate you to do the right thing when nothing else will. Now and then, being afraid can remove you from a situation that your rational mind tells you is benign. The coming week is one of those now-and-then times.
LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22):
I've witnessed some unusual weddings in my time. Having decided to give up relationships with human males, my friend Hillary once had a Universal Life Church minister preside over her marriage to a large Buddha statue. Another buddy, Fiona, tied the knot with her beloved teddy bear in a lovely beach ceremony. Then there was Argo, a musician I knew. He had a Wiccan priestess officiate his union with his Les Paul Flametop guitar. As you slip into the matrimonial season, Libra, I hope this inspires you. If there's no person you want to get hitched to, or if you're contentedly matched but would enjoy a fresh rush of wedded bliss, how about marrying your fortunes to a symbol of happiness?
SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21):
In my wanders on the Web, I came across a document titled ''Tech Support for Etch A Sketch.'' Here's an excerpt. ''Question: My Etch A Sketch has a distorted display. What should I do? Answer: Pick it up and shake it. Q: Help! My Etch A Sketch has funny little lines all over the screen. A: Pick it up and shake it. Q: How do I delete a document on my Etch A Sketch? A: Pick it up and shake it. Q: How do I turn my Etch A Sketch off? A: Pick it up and shake it.'' I've quoted extensively from this manual, Scorpio, because it provides all the advice you'll need in dealing with your current dilemmas. The best answer to every question, starting with ''How can I get my life back on track?,'' is: Pick it up and shake it.
SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21):
Judging from the current cosmic omens, I surmise that you need to have a nice, long communion with the waters of life. You're overdue to be influenced by the vast oceans that cover 71 percent of planet Earth; you need to have a visceral experience of the fact that life originally sprang from the sea and that your body is 60 percent water. If you don't live within easy traveling distance of a trillion-gallon baptismal font, I suggest you obtain a conch shell, put it to your ear, and improvise a conversation. What should you talk about? Start by asking for help in feeling as deeply as you can about every aspect of your life.
CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19):
To diet or not to diet? To eat organic or not worry about pesticides? To avoid genetically modified foods or act as if they're as safe as the old-fashioned stuff? These are worthy meditations anytime, but especially now; the cosmic omens say it's crucial to ponder more deeply what you take into the holy temple of your body. I challenge you, Capricorn, to come up with further questions to explore the mysteries of your relationship with food. For instance, do you know when you're really hungry and when, on the other hand, you are unconsciously craving love? Are you conscientious about making sure you're relaxed when you eat? Do you chew well enough? Would you consider playing with your mashed potatoes and peas more often?
AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18):
November 2001: In just their fourth year of existence, the Arizona Diamondbacks become World Series champions by defeating baseball's richest and most dominant team, the New York Yankees. January 2002: David slams Goliath, as the upstart New England Patriots edge the seemingly invulnerable St. Louis Rams in football's Super Bowl. March 2002: Duke, college basketball's top-seeded defending national champion, falls to long shot Indiana in a game sportswriters call a ''stunning upset.'' April 2002: In their own respective spheres, Aquarians become odds-on favorites to extend this amazing victory streak by underdogs.
PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20):
In Denise Levertov's poem ''Zeroing In,'' a man says: ''We had an old dog, when I was a boy,/a good dog, friendly. But there was an injured spot/on his head, if you happened/just to touch it he'd jump up yelping/and bite you.'' I'm sure that you, too, have a vulnerable place like that dog, Pisces, though it may not be from an actual physical wound. I'm guessing that you've built such an elaborate system of protection around it that no one ever gets close to brushing up against it. While this may have served you in the past--it has kept you from biting innocent bystanders, for one thing--it has now begun to shut you off from adventures you'd really benefit from. The time is ripe to let yourself be touched there by a smart healer.
Homework: If you had to live anywhere besides where you are, where would it be and why? Explain at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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