Parakeets in India by Erin Muir

It was my second trip to India, and I had started out very sick. The week before I had departed on this pilgrimage to Varanasi, to watch the burning of the dead bodies, and then go help build the school in Rishikesh, I had suffered away in a lover’s Cow Hollow apartment in San Francisco with strep throat. My fever had been so high I was hallucinating that he was an assassin sent by a FORMER boyfriend to kill me, but that’s a different story than what happened in Varanasi, and by the time I arrived at this gorgeous city dubbed “Venice of the East,” I was free of strep throat, probably, thanks to antibiotics, but still feverish and unable to eat, vomiting green bile. 

I stayed at a hotel right on the Ganges River, listening every night to the boatmen sing, watching stray puppies chase after the children. Holy men in loin clothes strolled past the steps of our hotel, and only a few hundred yards away, the families of India burned their dead. 

Sometimes, I hear my fellow western friends talk of India with horror at the poverty, the trash, the illness. They point out things like rape culture and the caste system. Controversially, I don’t see much difference between India and the US in those regards, but perhaps that’s because I live in a huge city overrun with its own problems of homelessness and violence. A lot of it depends on what you’re looking at, I suppose.

I was in Varanasi with a spiritual group that was working with a self-proclaimed guru. He’s pretty famous. I don’t know. He was angry on this trip. Because I was so sick, I missed most of the group outings and teachings. I was confined to my hotel, watching the river slumber by.

But every day, a little boy came to visit. His name was Ahmed, and he was a Muslim boy. I know because he came to sing the Qu’ran to me. Then he would offer to show me the finest shops. I would explain I was sick, and he would tilt his head left, then right, then left again, very quickly. 

“I am sorry, madam,” he would say. “I will be back tomorrow.” 

I loved that lilting cadence in his face. I would go back to my room and watch Bollywood movies, breathe heavily, drink flat Pepsi.

Finally, after a few days, I felt well enough to want to leave the Villa-turned-hotel and as I stepped out into the bright sun, Ahmed rushed up to meet me.

“Madam!” he cried. “Would you like to see an old fort?” 

I looked into his big brown eyes and felt a small warm hand slipping into my own.

“Yes,” I said, against my better, urban, Western judgment. “Yes, I would.”

We hurried down along the river for a few minutes, maybe ten or so, until we reached an abandoned villa looming over the foamy water. We climbed up the hill and Ahmed passed easily through a hole in a fence that I could barely shimmy through. Then, he took my hand again and led me through what seemed like an empty palace: a large veranda over the front, looking over the river… a center square in a large property with crumbling pillars and mosaics along the walls and floors. Empty rooms, a place void of any humans, at least dwelling there.

“Madam,” said Ahmed. “Would you like to see some parakeets?”

I looked at the excitement on his face, like a kid at Disneyland or something. 

“Yes!” I cried.

Ahmed nodded. He took my hand in his and we ran to the back of the house. There was a large, lonely willow tree reaching up over the high red walls. Ahmed put his fingers to his lips as we crept toward the willow. Then, he breathed in and raised his hands like a conductor about to instruct an orchestra. He brought his hands together in applause: clap, clap, clap, clap, and –


Scores of little green birds bolted from the weeping willow tree, an exodus of rustling and flapping in every direction!

I laughed with sheer delight and felt a breath of life enter my body.

Then I looked at Ahmed and he looked at me. My heart burst open with a million little tingles of pleasure, and I wanted to cry. I fell in love at that moment with this sweet little boy. Not romantically. Just. Like. A mother. Like Mother India herself.

hmed,” I said, “how old are you?”

“Madam, I am eight years old.”
“And how do you speak English so well?” I asked. He tilted his head left and right a few moments, considering the question. “From the tourists such as yourself,” he responded.

And then, I took the risk. “And do you have a mother?” I asked. 

Now I wonder why I even could ask such a question, but I did. I already had the fantasy in my mind’s eye. I could adopt him. I could bring him back to America with me and we could live together as mother and son. I could give him all sorts of opportunities. He could visit my parents in Minnesota with me.

“Of course, Madam!” he chuckled.

My heart began to fall.

“Oh, and… um… where is she?” I asked.

He opened his hands, explaining the obvious.

“At home, Madam!” he responded.

“I see. And… would you ever… would you like to visit America?” I asked. A last-ditch effort.

A horrified look crossed his face.

“No, Madam,” he said. “Oh, no. My mother says I must never go to America. No, no. It is a wicked, violent place!” 

I paused for a moment. It was, but it wasn’t. So was India. So was the world. So had the world been in so many ways since the dawn of… since the dawn of opposition, whenever that was. 

I let my heart suffer these slings and arrows. I let my heart love him, knowing that I would never see him again. I marveled that I had fallen in love, not romantically, but as a mother. And then, I smiled and nodded.

“Shall we go back to the hotel?” I asked. The world was spinning. My fever was returning.

“Alright,” he said, taking my hand and leading me out of the abandoned building. “And if you like, I can show you some nice shops along the way.”

I didn’t want to go to the shops, but I heard my voice murmur, “sure.”

I didn’t look back at that fresh, clean, green place where no people lived, only birds and trees. We stepped out onto the dusty streets where bicycles zoomed past and poor women reached their hands out in need. I looked up into the firmament of sky, as open and blue as my heart.

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Erin Muir is a Spiritual Advisor at

Tarot Scopes by Julie Randazzo

Aries: March 21st - April 19th, 
Element: Fire
Ruler: Mars
Symbol: Ram
Compatibility: Leo, Libra
Tarot Card: Knight of Pentacles
- This card represents a practical, down to earth, reliable young man. He’s also very good with money. The perfect guy on paper. However, his practical nature may be a huge bore for fiery Aries. A late bloomer, our young knight also is slow to reach the finish line - in more ways than one. In the bedroom, this Earthbound guy is a little Vanilla, to say the least. 
Career-wise this card represents the art of methodology. Slow and steady wins the race. But the good news is, you win. 

Taurus: April 20th - May 20th
Element: Earth
Ruler: Venus
Symbol: Bull
Love Compatibility: Scorpio, Cancer
Tarot Card: Six of Wands
- Ladies this is the man you’ve been waiting for. He rides into your life with swift precision, assertiveness and that charisma that makes you swoon. The Six of Wands is a victory. Wands represent fire, so this brave night is as ambitious in the bedroom is he is in the boardroom. 
On the work front, “I am woman hear me roar,” is your theme song this month. You can and you will. 

Gemini: May 21st - June 20th
Element: Air
Ruler: Mercury
Symbol: Twins
Love Compatibility: Sagittarius, Aquarius
Tarot Card: The Magician -
Be forewarned, this charmer is a regular Houdini. Now you see him. Now you don’t. A true player of the game, he’s the master of illusion and deception. Proceed with caution. You don’t want to get swept away by his magic act. 
On a positive note, when The Magician appears, the power of manifestation does too. Manifestation is the name of the game this month. Whether at work or at play, the powers of The Magician will save the day. 

Cancer: June 21st - July 22and
Element: Water
Ruler: Moon
Symbol: Crab
Love Compatibility: Capricorn, Taurus
Tarot Card: The Star -
Your wish is my command this month. The Star card represents hope, prosperity and wishes granted. You are the Star of your own show this month. Naked, exposed and unafraid, you are shining brightly from the inside out. The abundance of water is greatly symbolized in this card, as your cup runneth over with good fortune. Water symbolizes emotion, prosperity, and abundance. This is your time in the spotlight. Be sure to grab it!

Leo: July 23rd - August 27th
Element: Fire
Ruler: Sun
Symbol: Lion
Love Compatibility: Aquarius, Gemini
Tarot Card: The Moon -
You may be feeling like a little girl lost this month. Perhaps your lover is shutting you out or acting suspiciously. The dark side of the moon represents the fear of the unknown. Fear not, for the light of the full moon will lead the way. This aspect of the moon sheds light on what needs to be revealed. The darkness before the dawn can be scary. However, one thing is certain the sun always rises and light will bloom again. 

Virgo: August 23rd - September 22and
Element: Earth
Ruler: Mercury
Symbol: The Virgin
Love Compatibility: Cancer, Pisces
Tarot Card; The Hanged Man –
Time to press the pause button and reset. In the famous words of The Beatles and Mother Mary, ‘Let it be’. A mental break from the daunting task of overthinking and over analyzing is crucial this month. Detail oriented Virgo can find this challenging. However, it is essential, 
for you will gain a new perspective in the areas of love, romance, and career. Time to take a timeout for a much-needed spa day or a binge worthy night of Netflix. 

Libra: September 23rd - October 22and
Element: Air
Ruler: Venus
Symbol: The Scales
Love Compatibility: Aries, Sagittarius
Tarot Card: Seven of Pentacles -
You've planted the seeds of success and your investments are coming up roses. Like sands through the hourglass, patience is a virtue you know well. As your garden takes shape, take time to smell the beautiful roses you’ve created. Your payday is big this month but spend wisely. Be sure to put some money aside for a rainy day, as the sun can’t shine forever. 

Scorpio: October 23rd - November 21st
Element: Water
Ruler: Pluto, Mars
Symbol: The Scorpion
Love Compatibility: Cancer, Taurus
Tarot Card: Eight of Pentacles -
Consider a new approach, area of study or additional training this month. This month is all about the solid ambition Scorpios are known for. Your creativity is bursting at the seams, along with your desire to succeed. Leave no stone unturned and pay close attention to detail. Take a love seminar and learn all there is to know about interpersonal relationships. Cooking is a new skill Scorpios will excel at this month too. Knowledge is power and the more you know, the more you’ll be. 

Sagittarius: November 22and - December 23rd
Element: Fire
Ruler: Jupiter
Symbol: Archer
Love Compatibility: Gemini, Aries
Tarot Card: Wheel of Fortune
- Round and round and round it goes. Where it stops nobody knows. Place your bets this month, but remember you are responsible for your own fate. Life is all about choices. Remember this when you are cursing the roulette wheel. The Wheel of Fortune symbolizes good fortune. However, it also reminds us that we create our own good luck. You are the master of your own destiny. Evaluate your choices, as they will ultimately decide your fate. 

Capricorn: December 22and - January 19th
Element: Earth
Ruler: Saturn
Symbol: Goat
Love Compatibility: Taurus, Cancer
Tarot Card: Knight of Cups -
Your love life may seem like it’s on steroids this month. The Knight of Cups is so romantic, sensitive and sweet – the perfect guy. However, no one is perfect. Whether you are in a relationship or this is someone new, if it seems to good to be true, it probably is. Don’t take any wooden nickels. This charmer has the tendency to come on strong for he wants to trap you in his web. Once he gets you, he tends to grow bored and move on to his next conquest.  Be aware of Prince Charming, for he only exists in fairy tales. 

Aquarius: January 20th - February 18th
Element: Air
Ruler: Saturn, Uranus
Symbol: Water Bearer
Love Compatibility: Leo, Sagittarius
Tarot Card:
The Devil - Be aware of your need for instant gratification this month. The temptation of rich, creamy cup cakes, cigarettes, wine or too much alcohol can be too hard to resist. All bring out the Devil inside – that part of us that needs to be comforted by immediate gratification. Weigh your options wisely, as these fast fixes can have dire consequences. Is that hangover or extra weight really worth it. Think ahead and think before you act.

Pisces: February 19th - March 20th
Element: Water
Ruler: Neptune, Jupiter
Symbol: Fish
Love Compatibility: Virgo, Taurus
Tarot Card:
Eight of Pentacles - Denial can take its toll on you mentally, spiritually and emotionally this month. Whether it’s your love life, career or over indulgence, the longer you turn a blind eye, the longer you remain in the dark. It’s time to remove the blindfold and face reality head on. Take a time out and be brutally honest with yourself. Ask yourself what it is you are really feeling. Identify your feelings. This will help you get in touch with the source of the problem. It is only after a bout of real honesty with yourself that true healing can begin.


Julie Randazzo is an Intuitive Life Coach, professional psychic and blogger. Her monthly column, Tarot Scopes, can be found on Apple News via Astrologer Mark Husson, founder and creator of She also pens the blog, Your Future, bringing forth the new age for the new woman. 

For those seeking spiritual advice, she can be found weekly at Julie also teaches various self help and psychic development clssses at 12Academy. She specializes in relationships, dream interpretation, Tarot, angel & spirit communication, as well as life coaching.

To read  Julie’s full bio. or to schedule an appointment, please click here,



Julie Randazzo

Julie Randazzo is an Intuitive Life Coach and professional blogger. She is a regular contributor to Astrologer Mark Husson, founder, and creator of Julie also pens the blog, Your Future, a blog dedicated to the research, experiences, and  expressions of anyone going through a spiritual awakening. 
For those seeking spiritual advice, she can be found weekly at She specializes in relationships, dream interpretation, Tarot, angel & spirit communication, as well as life coaching. 

Women and New Rules

Women need to learn one important element of success that no one talks about: never play by rules that define you as the loser. Definitions of good leaders mirror definitions of strong men. However, the words used to define strong women are often derogatory, while the definition of a healthy woman is the antithesis of a strong leader. Women have three choices. First, we can play by those rules and lose. Second we can try and find a game with better rules. Or, third, we can change the rules. For many of us it is the only way we blasted through glass ceilings and turned dead ends into on-ramps to new opportunities. 

Remember the pirate definition of rules, or the “code” being more like guidelines.  When we are sailing in a channel the buoys tell us what to avoid, where NOT to go. But they do not tell us how to sail. The same is true of the political rules; they are guidelines to tell us where the danger lays, but not how to succeed. So, we need to know how to pirate the rules to our advantage, to change the definition of winning and losing.

First, acknowledge what you have accomplished in this life. Do not judge this by anyone else; judge it by where you started, where you are, and how you navigated your life. Proudly answer that yes you are smart, talented, creative, and more than capable. Women shy away from acknowledging their strengths, saying rather that they were lucky or had great mentors. This might be true but you also busted your tush, pushed your limits, took risks and rose to many challenges. 

Next, make sure you are heard when you speak.  Thank anyone who steals your idea for reiterating your words. Do not stop talking when someone interrupts you (unless it is the CEO). 

Use body language wisely. Stand up and use your body to demonstrate your confidence and strength. Know when a nod encourages versus when it will communicate agreement. Stand in “tango” position, core tight, shoulders down and back center of gravity in your hips, which is where it resides for women. This communicates strength and fluidity.

Use words wisely.  Do not say “I am sorry” when you mean “I am sad for you”. Do not apologize or minimize before stating an idea. This only discounts your thoughts. Communicate with quiet conviction. 

Give yourself time to think through situations. The head of a large prison system told me that even when there was a crisis, she took two minutes to breathe deeply before she moved into action. If she can do this in a prison crisis, so can any of us.

Recognize that leadership and success books written by men might not work for you. I learned this lesson while working with trainers. I tried snowboarding and the tall thin man giving the lessons kept telling me to stand up straight. This meant that I kept catching an edge and whacking the ground. A young woman finally told me to use my center of gravity, bend my knees and stick out my tush. This is how I ski. Be a woman, don’t try to be more like a man.

And finally, and most importantly, make sure that you build the life you want to live. Do you want to be the Queen or the pirate, the captain or the first mate?  Do you want to leave work at 6 every night and tuck your kids in? Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Find the role that fits who you are and who you want to be, and live it proudly without apology. Do not climb a ladder that is leaning against the wrong wall. In the end we cannot avoid politics but we can be politically astute and write the rules that define us, and other women, as the winners. 


Dr. Elisa Robyn, a modern-day Renaissance educator and leader, is the author of The Way of the Well, a spiritual romance, and Pirate Wisdom, lessons in leadership. Her eclectic career positions include geologist, Dean of Arts and Sciences, Vice President of Academic Affairs, Futurist, and Innovative Mojo Coach. Currently, Elisa is an executive director at Regis University. She holds a Masters degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a Ph.D. from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Her most current writings can be found at:


Elisa Robyn

Dr. Elisa Robyn, a modern-day Renaissance educator and leader, is the author of The Way of the Well, a spiritual romance, and Pirate Wisdom, lessons in leadership. Her eclectic career positions include geologist, Dean of Arts and Sciences, Vice President of Academic Affairs, Futurist, and Innovative Mojo Coach. Currently, Elisa is an executive director at Regis University. She holds a Masters degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a Ph.D. from the University of Colorado, Boulder.