Emerging from the Mist with Marbles

Preparation for the journey.

I have been traveling through a dark mist for a long time.

That’s what it feels like, being in therapy. For me, at least. But then, I am naturally drawn to analysis and drama – Virgo Sun, Leo Rising – a clear indication for those of you who follow astrology that this blog is going to be all about my critical analysis of me. Mostly. But it’s a spiritual journey I’m embarking on, so a) it should be about me and b) this world and my life aren’t barren wastelands – others will be along shortly.

But, back to the point, I’ve been in a therapy mist for the last 18 months (incidentally, shout out to my VA coverage and the lovely men and women there who have to deal with me on the regular). I’ve been in therapy for MST (Military Sexual Trauma for those of you without an advanced training in military acronyms) or, more generally, for PTSD, which is the actual diagnosis. This has not been my favorite year and a half ever.

Why tell you this? Heavens, so many reasons! Right now, though this is to set the stage, briefly describing where I’ve been and why I’ve decided to embark on this soulful transit. So, describing:

PTSD is a way of relating to the world in the absence of healing after trauma – a sort of whole life generalized and extended fight or flight response, if you will. It’s fairly rare, though not as rare as we might like and that number depends on the statistics you pull and whether you believe those numbers to be accurate (I don’t). It can happen after one event or it can accumulate over time. Mine was over time, at the ages of 8, 20, and 22. All three involved very different relationships and types of trust. All three affected my view of myself and my faith in my ability to make sound judgments in regards to other people in one way or another.

And after several years of self-imposed isolation and more than a year of therapy, all three have taught me about myself, about thinking, about trust, about power, about observation, and about healing. It has been rough, it is still ongoing, but it has taken me to a place now where I finally feel capable of connecting with my deep inner truth and connecting with other people in a deeper, more compassionate way – all of which takes trust.

The wise and always candid Brené Brown went over the Anatomy of Trust on Super Soul Sessions with Oprah, which resonated so deeply with me. She equates trust with the concept of a marble jar, trusting those who have put in small acts of trust over time with the really hard stuff. After seeing how trust played out in her data, she looked in the research on trust and betrayal by John Gottman, and the first phrase she read was, “Trust is built in the smallest of moments.” And in these small moments is the opportunity to betray as well by choosing not to connect when the opportunity is there. So she set about studying what it is that makes up trust, what are the marbles we put in our jars. It’s amazing talk that I linked below, however, I have summarized for expediency and clarity:

Trust is a big word, right? …. I found a definition from Charles Feltman… “Trust is choosing to make something important to you vulnerable to the actions of someone else… distrust is what I have shared with you that is important to me is not safe with you.” … Do I know what trust is from the data? And I think I do know what trust is, and I put together an acronym: BRAVING… because when we trust we are braving connection with someone.

B – Boundaries: I trust you if you are clear about your boundaries and you hold them, and you are clear about my boundaries and you respect them. There is no trust without boundaries.

R – Reliability: Reliability is you do what you say you are going to do over and over  and over again. You cannot gain and earn my trust if you are reliable once, because that is not the definition of reliability.

A – Accountability: I can only trust you if, when you make a mistake, you are willing to own it, apologize for it, and make amends.  I can only trust you if, when I make a mistake, I am allowed to own it, apologize, and make amends.

V – Vault: What I share with you, you will hold in confidence. What you share with me, I will hold in confidence. … The Vault is not just about the fact that you hold my confidences. It’s that, in our relationship, I see that you value confidentiality… a lot of times we share things that are not ours to share as a way to hot wire connection with a friend.

I – Integrity: I cannot trust you… if you do not act from a place of integrity and encourage me to do the same… [Integrity is] choosing courage over comfort, choosing what’s right over what’s fun, fast or easy, and practicing your values, not just professing your values.

N – Non-judgment: I can fall apart, ask for help, and be in struggle without being judged by you and you can fall apart, ask for help, and be in struggle without being judged by me. Which is really hard because we are better at helping than we are at asking for help, … if you can’t ask for help and they cannot reciprocate that, that is not a trusting relationship. … You cannot judge yourself for needing help and not judge others for needing help.

G – Generosity: Our relationship is only a trusting relationship if you can assume the most generous thing about my words, intentions, and behaviors, and then check in with me.

One of the biggest casualties with heartbreak and disappointment and failure and our struggle is not just the loss of trust with other people, but the loss of self trust. … If braving relationships with other people is BRAVING connection, self trust is BRAVING self love, self respect, the wildest adventure we’ll ever take in our whole lives. … If your own marble jar is not full, if you can’t count on yourself, you can’t ask other people to give you what you don’t have, so we have to start with self trust.


I know that there are some areas of self trust where I am doing well, but there are others where I have an abysmal track record. Specifically, honoring my own boundaries or, indeed, setting them at all, being reliable for myself, non-judgment, and generosity. I have to give myself opportunities to put marbles in my own jar.

So I have turned to my spirituality. I’ve always been the kind of person who is much more in my Mind than anywhere else, so it’s time to take that strength and use it to connect to my Body and my Soul, to temper my reliance on it with a more holistic approach to Self. To give myself chances to set goals and boundaries, so I can reliably work toward repairing the disconnect between Feeling and Thought and the Unknown.

In delving back into all of my more New Age-y interests, I have fallen into the deep well of astrology and I think it is a wonderful opportunity to share what I am learning (as I do believe we learn best through attempting to teach it) and to use it as a method of analyzing the multiple regions of my life and setting goals within them. Most people are aware of the Zodiac in the concept of “What’s your Sign?” Not everyone is aware that the question leaves out 95% of the process, focusing only on the Sun Sign, and that not always accurate if you are on a cusp. So a brief glimpse into the madness:

  • You have a Rising Sign, also known as the Ascendent, which is the exact degree of the sky the Eastern Horizon was at when you drew your first breath. To calculate this, you need your birth time and place of birth.
  • Each Planet, loosely named, has a Sign. They are the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto.
  • Each Sign has a planetary ruler (some share), an Element (known as a Quadruplicity), a Modality (Fixed, Cardinal, or Mutable), and polarity (Masculine/Feminine).
  • A star chart is broken up into 12 Houses, which are correlated with the constellations in the sky, so set on a 360 degree grid, starting with Aries. Each House represents a different aspect of life, which has a natural Sign and Ruling Planet associated with it.
  • Your Rising Sign sets the beginning of your Birth Chart, or Natal Chart, which means that each House, in addition to having a natural Sign and Ruling Planet, also has what is known as an accidental Sign and the Planetary Ruler of that Sign.
  • Aspects are the angles between Planets on the chart. Certain angles show benefits or communication between Planets, others show blockages or conflicts.

There are other points that can be taken into account for in depth readings, like points where the orbit of the moon passes the ecliptic of the Sun, certain specific stars or comets, and, of course, how your own birth chart interacts with another chart for your birthday each year or how it interacts with another persons chart. Relationships can have their own charts.

Mind-boggling and far more specific that you thought?

Well, I’m certainly not going to go into all of that, though I will bring up what I learn from time to time. If your interest is peaked, check out the resources in the widgets. Instead, I am going to commit to blogging at least once a week, on a topic in relation to the Houses. There is an order to them that is like a metaphor for the journey of life, so it seemed appropriate to use for a spiritual journey. The 1st House is in Aries, represents the Self and Identity, and is ruled by Mars, which represents our Passions and our Body. Also, as I’m starting this we are coming up on the beginning of the sign of Leo, which is my Rising Sign, so it seems an appropriate time for me to be starting this journey, especially in a public, yet self-directed way.

As with the beginning of life, I am choosing a name to use for this journey: Starshadow. It may be corny, but appropriately witchy for me and reinforces the astrology theme with the light side and shadow side of each Sign. The “Saharan” from my blog name come from my middle name, Sahara, which is Arabic for moon, also appropriate for astrology and the name my mother gave me, so represents my roots.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and for joining me on this journey, however briefly you may stay.




Um…. I picked up a partial shift at my second job. And I used some of that time to do various adulting things like pay my mortgage, re-establish my online banking credentials, manage my bills, set up an account alert, pay my electric, set up a payment plan, check on my credit score, and clear out my email inbox. So I’ll have had a total of an hour lunch, a fifteen minute break, and forty five minutes of transitioning between jobs that was not spent working from 7:45am to 11:00pm. I did not make it to yoga.

In my defense, money is going to be tight for the next month or so. This extra shift helps. And I have turned down the last 3 offers of extra hours at this job for child care, working overtime at full time job, and a date, respectively.

I’ll try to meditate tonight though. 🙂


Had a migraine today, but after 5 still managed to get some of the stuff from the house. My son’s bed is pretty well set up until I have the time to lift it. He’s very excited about sleeping in it tonight. Got the Edison string lights set up for under the bed and he has set up his sewer lab lair.

Building a Life

Making a conscious effort to work less

Some of the things the 6th House covers are daily habits and health. Capricorn on the cusp gives a sense of industriousness, seriousness, and methodicalness. It can also represent the work place. I find that most of my daily routine and my health revolves around the amount of work I’m doing.

In my last blog post, I was hoping to take more time for myself, get more good sleep. That has only kind of happened. I did talk to my boss at my 3rd job and I’ll be taking a break for a while. I used my wellness time at work the week before last, which was nice. I got a massage, which I NEEDED because I fell down the stairs the week before that. But I didn’t do it this week because we had an ice storm so I needed to make up my work hours. Even with the best of intentions, I put my work before my health. It’s my default setting.

I’ve been thinking it over and, given what I know about Capricorn, I think I may have a solution. Generally speaking, I’m not a huge fan of routine. I get bored easily, I like the freedom to do whatever I want. That being said, my life runs a little better on routine and my son, having ASD, needs the routine. So, I think, if I actually want to be serious about getting healthy and giving myself time to actually process things, then I probably need to have a routine set.

Right now, I work 7:45 to 5:15 at my full time job with a half hour lunch. That allows me about an extra hour a day since we are on overtime. I want to attend the 11am Tuesday yoga class at the Wellness Center at work. I can work out on Wednesday evening for sure – I can commit to going back there after I’m done with my tax appointment. Possibly as a Capricorn thing, I have trouble getting to the gym, but once I’m there I can focus and I work out hard. I would like to get up to 3 hours a week, but for now I think that is a sustainable routine that I can get into.

Additionally, I need to get back into meditating and really work on the sleeping portion. I don’t sleep much – usually around 5 hours a night during the week and even that can be spent partially awake, just lying down comfortably. I sleep a little more on the weekend, snatches of 4 hours here and there, but a lot closer to 8 or 9 hours if I don’t have to get up early. I’m going to say that I can do 15 minutes of meditation before bed and that bedtime should be no later than 11:45. Realistically, that means sitting down and doing a meditation about a half hour before I usually think about lying down. I don’t think that is an unrealistic goal. But I am going to set an alarm for it anyway. Otherwise it won’t happen.


And the last thing I want to set is work on my house, especially since that affects my daily habits and, in terms of my well being, it affects how much stress I’m subconsciously feeling. The sooner I can get everything set up and moved over, the better I will feel. Currently, I’ve made a lot of progress on my son’s room with the help of my best friend, but there is still a lot more that needs to be done. I want to do at least 2 hours of work on my house a day. Either on the house itself or moving things to it.

That being said, I’m going to lay out a plan for the next few days and I’m going to lay it out here so that I have to address it next week. Sorry, guys, you’re my unwitting accountability buddies.

Monday: I usually pick up my son around 5:30. From then until I go pick up my friend from work at 7:00, I am going to go to the old house to pack up some more books, grab my large bookshelf, and my curtains and curtain rods from the bedroom. After picking up my friend, I’m going to hang up my living room curtains using the curtain rods I grabbed.

Tuesday: I’m going to cut the PVC pipes for my son’s closet/shelf system and paint them. I expect that will take 2 hours or more.

Wednesday: I want to either finish painting the pipes or start building the shelves.

Thursday….. depends on whether someone picks up my last shift at the coffee shop. If someone does, I’ll have time to finish up the shelving and put my son’s clothes on them. If not, well, it’s one day.

Friday: I want to start painting my room. I want to get the accent wall done.

Saturday: Hang everything up in the closet. Everything. If I have to go get my dresser, so be it.

Sunday: rest.

In the effort to be accountable on this, I am going to take pics and post them to the blog throughout the week. We’ll see how it goes.