New Year, New Opportunities 

For the week of January 4-10, 2012.

It's a "hit-the-ground-running" start to the new year, and like birds gathering seed before a storm, many of us are going to be collecting the threads of a variety of plans and projects. There's little more than two weeks left before we enter the retro-zone, an approximately seven-month period filled with seemingly endless retrogrades that will have most of us attending to the details of whatever we forget to take care of beforehand. Even if you manage to jump the gun, you're still going to need to pace yourself for the next couple of weeks. There's no use showing up for what promises to be a strenuous period exhausted from the preparations.

The good news is that there is plenty of positive planetary support for stamina and strength, as well as a strong spirit of cooperation. If you don't have anything that needs your attention, ride the current of the next couple weeks by pitching in where help might be needed. For those anxious about getting everything done, there's nothing like a helping hand to soothe stress and lessen tension.

The source of strength this week is a Mars/Sun trine, a vital, vigorous configuration that supports ambition, determination, courage, and intentional activity. Even if you are not inclined toward competition, this is the astrological partnership that's sure to make you want to win. Mars symbolizes action, and is believed to rule the muscular system. The Sun represents our essential vitality, and when the Sun and Mars work together, we experience surges of physical power. Put this dynamism to work by applying it to all those areas in your life that could use a nudge. Especially put your body in motion: Run. Walk. Hike. Stretch. Swim. Just move, and make the most of it, because by the 20th, when Mars prepares for its retrograde phase, very little is going to move easily.

Mars goes retrograde on January 23, in Virgo, at 23 degrees, and stays retrograde until April 13, when it goes direct, also in Virgo, at 3 degrees. Mars thrives on forward movement, and when it seems to be lagging behind, as it does during a retrograde, we experience all sorts of Martian challenges — challenges that range from mildly impatient frustration to absolutely unbearable frustration. (Not kidding.) And because Mars represents the warrior, as the retrograde seems to stall plans and projects, many of us could feel inclined to up the ante by getting angry in all sorts of situations where we feel stuck, blocked, or impeded in our process. But don't misunderstand.

While Mars Retrograde might bring out the devil in some of us, Mars Retrograde is not the devil. And while Mars may not like retracing its past, we can certainly benefit from the review.

During the next several weeks, utilize the positive planetary support of the Sun/Mars trine to stay focused on all the things in your life that are related to movement — cars, trucks, buses, bikes, shoes, skates, skateboards, and schedules of every denomination. Push, but not to the brink of exhaustion. Most importantly, start practicing patience for yourself and your fellow travelers.

If you know your Ascendant and/or your Moon Sign, read that, too.

ARIES Soften your critical eye through the lens of compassion — not everyone has the same potential for bravery in the face of adversity. And remember to be thoughtful as well as kind.

TAURUS Be confident in your creativity, and you'll find the self-assurance to concretize your vision into the appropriate form or format. The value of your certainty will enhance the process as well as the product.

GEMINI The inclination to act on impulse persists, especially when it comes to issues of security. Have at it, but try not to mistake instant gratification for enduring satisfaction.

CANCER Take a deep breath, and indulge your need to be everywhere at once. Even a determined effort to stay still could not keep you from multitasking at a level that most mortals could not achieve.

LEO There is a wide window of opportunity for you to make tangible financial gains, especially if you're willing to work as hard as you are capable of working.

VIRGO You're in the leadership role, a position that requires you to lead with your head as well as your heart. It doesn't seem that this will be a problem, as long as you listen closely to your followers.

LIBRA Reflect on how you want to arrange your home; whether the focus is on where you live or how you live, what's important is the capacity to inhabit your choices without hesitation or self-doubt.

SCORPIO The question of how to remain independent even when you're part of a team is worthy of your attention. Think about how you can establish and maintain that kind of balance.

SAGITTARIUS Harness your ambition and aim it at all the goals you want to accomplish. You may not be able to finish every project, but you'll gather a powerful momentum that nothing can stop.

CAPRICORN You can try to convince others to accept your point of view, or you can simply allow for differences of opinion. Sounds like a no-brainer, because it is.

AQUARIUS Part of the problem is that what you want to say is not exactly what others want to hear. I'm not suggesting you hold back, but advising you to continue to think before you speak.

PISCES Relationship challenges offer the possibility of profound personal growth, but only if you are willing to speak your truth as you simultaneously listen to the truth of others.

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