My 2013 has so far brought an intricate combination of prodigious self-development and harrowing self-doubt. I suppose it's not that unusual to greet the latter when toiling towards the former. Change the rules of engagement, and we're bound to be thrown off our prior center.

I marked my birthday in January with the intention-setting ritual of a written self-reflection, to signal my desire to increasingly prioritize writing as a regular self-defining activity. Yes, my weekly commitment to sharing horoscopes with the world certainly ensures I already write steady amounts on a regular basis. But my creative soul has craved more space than that… a freedom to explore beyond the horoscope container, to chase my artistic instincts, to be carried on the spark of inspiration without my practical mind worrying about where I'm being carried, and if there's time. But, as I described then, my day-to-day existence had grown so chock-full of entrepreneurial responsibility, and the administrative tasks that come along with it, my own successes had ironically pushed this precious creative-time too far beyond my immediate reach.

This year, I've already made some great strides in starting to free myself up to pursue more writing, though I still have plenty more work to do. Perhaps the biggest overall achievement I've made is to recognize the need to ask for help. After several years of nearly buckling under the weight of extensive back-office tasks, I finally hired a bookkeeper to relieve me of everyday accounting duties at The Sacred Well. I'm in the early stage of this handoff, and still discovering how much anxiety and insecurity can be involved in inviting somebody into the intimate realm of one's finances. Have I been making huge messes this whole time I've stoically sputtered along with my limited knowledge? Did I fuck up? Am I a total moron? Thankfully, my bookkeeper reassures me I've done a pretty decent job, considering this is not my expertise. She is not only willing but eager to help me, to remove this ill-fitting piece from my shoulders so I can extend more fully into my creative callings. What stresses me out actually excites her. My daring to delegate serves us both.

Not only did I finally seek bookkeeping assistance, I'm also learning to ask for help in other areas of my life. Just over these last few months, we at The Sacred Well have also brought on both a new lawyer and a business coach to guide us through the growing pains of shepherding our business to the next level. Like many small-business owners, I've had the humbling experience of confronting limits to my own capabilities, cornered into acknowledging that evolutionary pressure requires me to seeing beyond 'the way we've always done things'. Practices which serve us quite well during one phase of a creative cycle easily become impediments to continuing growth at a later phase… at which point we must be wise enough to get out of our own way. As part of evolving, our business also this year transitioned from handwriting sales receipts to processing them through an iPad-based point-of-sale system, giving us access to a lot more automated sales data while saving us (that is, me) hours of manual entry… though implementing a new system also means having no fucking clue what you're doing for a period of time. In my personal life, too, I've stretched past my comfort zone by starting to work with both a new therapist and a physical trainer. The results have been encouraging, at least on those days I'm able to observe my changing self with a decent amount of clarity. On other days, clear self-perception is so painfully obscured by hideous, dishonest, near-crippling self-criticism ('who do you think you are, trying to better yourself? you're never going to be anything more than that same clumsy fat kid!'), I almost believe I might as well throw in the towel. Almost.

Though I'm thankful to hold a fairly lucid vision for the future I'm striving to create, these incessant encounters with my own internal saboteur continue to reveal admittedly-still-shocking insights into how often I compromise my desires out of a self-imposed obligation to serve others—even when I have not been asked by anybody to 'serve' them, and even when these 'others' are wholly of my imagination. Saturn in Scorpio, transiting my natal 5th, has proven to be a real fucker in my life these past months (a productive one, mind you, just so we're clear I'm not tempting the lord-of-Karma to lash out by seeming unappreciative of his good hard lessons), but a fucker nonetheless… having forced me to examine what brings me pleasure, not in terms of what I think ought to make me happy but what actually does, and what therefore does not.

For someone who has built a life around following certain passions, it sometimes astounds me how little I know about what I want for the sheer joy of it, independent of what I might ceaselessly strive to do to please everybody else, or to prove my worth through what I achieve. Indict my 7th-house Capricorn Moon if you must (lord knows I do), but my emotional security relies so powerfully upon whether I'm doing my best to keep the people in my life happy (or, better put, impressed with my efforts), I can hardly articulate a single 'I' statement of desire without losing my bearings along the way, wondering if what I claim aloud as mine will be all right with you… or if I might lose that all-important interpersonal affirmation by speaking up with such brazen self-interest.

Saturn in my 5th, both squaring my natal Venus and Mercury and opposing my natal Mars at the moment, demands I reconsider the impulse to go along with whatever will maintain the most engaging relational vibe (whether with a real-live person or a hypothetical one of my own making), in order to more authentically express my individual preferences. But if I hope to identify what I want, I must chip away at the hardened crust of believing in my inadequacy—and face the painful history of how exactly it built up in the first place—just to get a good glance. It hurts to admit I'd become habituated to the self-denial.

At the same time, the Uranus-Pluto square continues to rub against my Asc/Dsc axis, its most agonizing angle undeniably being Pluto's conjunction to my Descendant (cusp of the 7th, the one-on-one relationship house). Along this transformational path to fuller self-empowerment in my behaviors within key partnerships, there's been no choice but to deal with inconvenient psychological truths about myself which don't always neatly coincide with my virtuous conception of what I as a partner should ideally be. As a mere human, I'm seemingly doomed to fall short. But in the face of all those unflattering feelings which Pluto-on-my-Descendant has unleashed—jealousy, competitiveness, alternating power-drives to control and to submit—I've had little ability to conceal these base qualities, thus coming to accept, slowly and painfully, they are just as integral facets of my being than everything I'm unabashedly proud of. Rarely have I endured such fear of rejection in relationship, due to my having revealed so many of my so-called demons and simultaneously tried (rather futilely, I might add) to protect myself from having any attachment to others at all. No matter where these ongoing interpersonal reconfigurations lead, at least I know I'll no longer be able to rest my own relationship-behavior expectations on an overidealized, incomplete and, thus, somewhat inauthentic image of myself.

After weathering months of harshness from Saturn and Pluto, I very recently welcomed the enthusing gift of Jupiter crossing over my Ascendant, a once-every-twelve-years event that's arguably one of the most re-inspiring transits we can experience. Right at that point where I was desperately wondering whether it would ever be 'my turn' (as if to totally ignore the gratifying sense of accomplishment that comes along with the hard personal work I've undertaken), generous Jupiter reminds me of all these beautiful blessings right here all along, if only I adopt the broader perspective necessary for noticing them. In just these last few weeks, I proudly traveled to my first-ever speaking engagement at a national astrology conference (NCGR 2013 in Philadelphia). And I also excitedly signed a lease on an office space so I may move my astrobarry business out of my home. Not only will this new office assist me in establishing better boundaries between my work- and home-life, it also serves as the proverbial 'room of one's own', a safe nurturing place where I can more diligently devote myself to the further writing I set an intention to produce with my birthday ritual. Coinciding with this move into my office in September, I'll be giving myself a raise, increasing my rates for personal consultations for the first time in a while.

I'm feeling more thrilled and optimistic than I have in many months (thank you kindly, king Jupiter), even as I remain embroiled in the difficult struggle to show up ever more fully in life, in my relationships, through my desires. There have been many days this year when I've been unable to stop repeating nasty comments about myself to myself, leaving me to seriously wonder why the hell I even bother trying to try. And on the other easier days when I realize I'm doing pretty damn well for a mere doomed human, I try my best to forgive myself for the self-torture… to sincerely thank the painful emotional moments for the lessons I know they're providing… and to deconstruct one more stubborn shred of the negative self-talk, so I may continue slowly rewriting the script, writing the story I want for my life, reshaping the protagonist, over time, into someone who discovers just how wonderful he is.