Mercury and Mars agitate the interpersonal dynamic. Explosive word combinations come easily to mind and sometimes even easier out of the mouth, skipping the mind altogether. The best way to prevent these word bombs from causing injury is to keep them in a safe place far away from the influences that might inspire you to use them.
ARIES (March 21-April 19). It's OK to need help, and there should be no shame in it. Do be careful to ask the right person, though — which is to say the one with the expertise that most matches your problem.
TAURUS (April 20-May 20). There will be ups and downs as life comes to you in its concentrated form. Sometimes this causes you to feel heavier in your boots, and moments later it's as though your heart is as buoyant as a balloon.
GEMINI (May 21-June 21). You'll get the stretch of space and quiet you need in order to do your best. Take advantage of it! Don't fritter your minutes away on emails and the Internet. Do the thing that will have lasting impact.
CANCER (June 22-July 22). You don't have to wait for a problem to get really big before you ask for help. The response time to your problem will be determined by a mysterious algorithm having nothing to do with your problem's size.
LEO (July 23-Aug. 22). You will enjoy being around that rare kind of person who has had the requisite share of follies and misfortunes and yet chooses not to talk about them unless it's absolutely relevant to what's going on now.
VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22). The one who compliments and assures you is also trying to persuade you in some way. Take it all in stride. Let your trust build over time. More will be revealed about the situation tomorrow.
LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 23). Good fortune stems from your artistic talent or your deep sense of justice. Great fortune stems from your ability to fuse those parts of your personality in one project or mission.
SCORPIO (Oct. 24-Nov. 21). Your emotional evolution is in progress. This could be the day you make peace with what you cannot understand, an act that will free up your energy for truly fulfilling pursuits.
SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21). You'll distinguish yourself as a person of exemplary character and talent. You'll do this by rendering a better and more complete service than the one that is asked of you.
CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19). You'll be assimilating bits of inspiration that have been coming to you over the past few weeks. The process results in highly original thinking. Write down some of those interesting ideas.
AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18). Is confession really good for the soul, or does it just involve more people in the problem? You have a stellar sense of how to actually fix things, which is better than talking about them any day.
PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20). Get some exercise, and you'll be unstoppable, especially professionally and socially. What you don't accomplish with good manners you'll make up for with fast reflexes.
TODAY'S BIRTHDAY (Feb. 23). Certain of yourself, you'll know the right thing, and you'll do it. March brings spontaneous moods and interesting predicaments, too — some of them quite lucky. You'll tell the story for years to come. A partner in play comes along in April. July shows you advancement through study. A powerful mentor helps. Aries and Sagittarius people adore you. Your lucky numbers are: 30, 1, 33, 39 and 15.
COMMUNICATION TIPS FOR THE MERCURY/MARS OPPOSITION: Mercury is in Pisces, and it's easier for all signs to read into what's being said and draw a more or less accurate conclusion as to what is really meant by it. No one is more adept at picking up the "vibes" than the water signs (Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces), who are now even more sensitive than usual. It may help these signs to be aware of their own sensitivities and thereby protect themselves to a greater degree. One way is not to ask questions they don't really want to know the answer to. For example: "Do these pants make me look fat?"
In a broader sense, there are topics that are best avoided altogether. Religion, race, culture and politics are the obvious ones. Not so obvious would be personal preferences having to do with art, music, physical characteristics and general matters of taste. Save it for the weekend when things will have cooled down.
As for the rest of the zodiac, the main thing is to soften your language patterns so they cannot be construed as overly aggressive. Always start with a compliment. Always use "please" and "thank you." Turn on those smiling eyes.
CELEBRITY PROFILES: Happy 18th birthday to the now former child star Dakota Fanning, whose work gets more varied and interesting as she gets older. The precocious Pisces has played darlings and brats, rock stars and vampires, and with her moon in the sign of entertainment, she'll keep stretching into new characters for as long as the spotlight shines her way.
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