“Catching Up”

April 1, 2020

We live in interesting times!  The social distancing required by the spread of  COVID-19 has brought many changes in our lives.  Since I live alone, the changes are minimal.  Yesterday, five of my friends brought our lunches to a lovely golf course adjoining one friend’s home.  We set up our chairs six feet apart and had a lively discussion while enjoying the beautiful sunlit day.  Blue sky and white fluffy clouds, cool weather and a good time had by all.   Read more...

Who Am I Now?

Blog Post:

October 28, 2018

I have not posted here in several years.  I spent the last three years care taking my husband, Dr. Paul Barlow, who passed away July 21, 2018.  I have been working through my grief and planning my future.

WHO AM I NOW?

 

November of 2018, I am reassessing my present reality:

In my lifetime, I have been in roles that were designed because I was born female.  I have been a daughter, a sister, a niece, a wife, a mother, an aunt, a grandmother, and a great grandmother.

 

My parents are dead so I am no longer a daughter; my husbands are dead so I am no longer a wife. My brother is thankfully still alive so I am a sister.  He has recently re-married so I am again a sister-in-law.  My aunts and uncles are dead so I am no longer a niece, but all five of my children are alive so I am still a mother.  I have three living grandchildren so I am a grandmother.  I have five great-grandchildren and three nephews so I am still a great grandmother and an aunt.

 

What does it mean to no longer be daughter, wife, niece?

What does it mean to still live the role of mother, sister, aunt, grandmother and great-grandmother?

 

Strange to me how I have chosen to express my life through these roles.  And as I am designing my last decade in this life on the planet, I look to these roles to still define me.  OR, is there another role—crone—old wise woman– that I can fulfill?

 

Where did the therapist, the consultant, the writer, the lecturer, the workshop leader go?  What happened to Dr. Marjorie R. Barlow, Ph.D? These roles in my life were part of my professional development and they are now passé.

 

So, I am back to one. One life.  One woman.  One day at a time.  I choose to be independent as long as I can.  I am trying to make the choice of relying on my children or turning to the current care of old folks in institutions.  What is the best, most loving choice I can make?  Who am I now?  What am I now?  How do I serve now?

 

Elizabeth, the Queen of England is a year older than me.  Her life has been prescribed because of the nature of her birth.  She still has a job as Queen.  Therefore, she will live out her days in some form of royal entitlement.  She gives me solace in the way her neck and shoulders also are stooped so I am feeling justified in my new body configuration!  I too, have become a crone with a widow’s hump.

 

I was born a peasant. My entitlement is my freedom of choice. I can choose.  And that is my truth.  So, what do I choose?  Answering that question is the focus of my thoughts these days.

POCKET GRANDMOTHER TACTICS

  • Notice your feelings. FEELINGS are your best guide toward success. Feelings reveal what is going on inside you and when they are negative, that is your signal to wake up. Get on track! You have lost your way.   Your emotions are your EGS—your Emotional Guidance System.
  • Face the face in the mirror. MIRROR-acles are in store when you learn to do mirror work. I strongly encourage you to look at that face in your mirror and unconditionally tell her that you love her. Louise Hay has pioneered mirror work.
  • Speak lovingly to the face in the mirror. JOURNAL into your mirror. Instead of writing in your journal, speak to the image in the mirror all that you would have written. Do this at night as a closing ceremony to the day. Do it in the morning as a way of setting up a day of joy. The reason for this exercise is to cultivate your own Pocket Grandmother, the voice of unconditional love. Practice accepting yourself warmly and affectionately. You can become the Sophia voice.
  • Accentuate the positive. DARE to go one week without criticism of self or others, no blaming, fault-finding, no negative talk, and no orders-commands-directions-requests. Just one week of taking yourself into a different reaction. This will get you some base-line data regarding those you live with and profess to love. AND, you will discover the path to your own self-love and self-forgiveness.
  • Take responsibility for your life. Join the AAA: You are the AUTHOR-ACTOR-AUDIENCE in your own life drama. You came to planet Earth to create yourself in the slow journey of one lifetime.
  • Use your power. CREATIVITY is your divine right. REACTIVITY is your ego struggling to win. Your internal Pocket Grandmother is your creative self in its full divine possibility.
  • Eliminate the negative. Don’t compare; don’t blame; and stop trying to understand why. Cherish yourself; love yourself; create yourself.
  • Claim the power of love. Self-Love and self-forgiveness will clear the way for you to create your very highest and best Self.
  • Love is without conditions. Loving others is easy when you love yourself unconditionally. As I have said before: “It is easy to love others when they ‘act right.’ The stretch into your growth comes when your love has no conditions.”
  • Get real with your internal projector. The outside world is your mirror. Those around you reflect what you are. When you don’t like them, you probably haven’t accepted yourself (for “they” will do what they do. Your reaction is the signal that it has something to do with you.) Projection is everything. It is all generated from within you. Your perceptions create your projections. Remember my scripture on this: “Whatsoever thing thy neighbor doeth that rattleth thy cage, ringeth thy bell, pulleth thy chain, or pusheth thy button, that thing hath more to do with thee than with thy neighbor. But, take heart, thy neighbor doeth thee the favor of revealing what is still within thee that needeth thy attention!”
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    DEFINING POCKET GRANDMOTHER

    Pocket Grandmother is a concept in your own mind. She represents the challenge of taking charge of your own growth and development, in the kindest method you can imagine.  She is your internal nurturing caring grandparent, who accepts, appreciates, allows, and anticipates good in your life. She sees you through kind, loving eyes, gently being present without fear. She is that part of your thoughts that unconditionally loves you. She is your ‘Glinda, the good witch from the north,’ and she will never do negative criticism nor will she chastise you. She is always present, and she may be sometimes amused by your thoughts of lack or need. She helps you fulfill your desires.

    One prototype for this interior concept, your Pocket Grandmother, is my neighbor from the early days of the 50s, Mrs. Fourqurean. She was always cheerful even when given the task of daily caretaking of her husband, “Papa Tom,” after his stroke. She would ask to care for my children, so I could take a break from the constant demands of mothering. This precious neighbor was a real live fairy godmother. And she is one possible model for your internal pocket grandmother, always smiling, always aware of how to be helpful, her eyes deep and luminous, twinkling with joy.

    Grandmothers are inspirational; mothers are judgmental by necessity.   When Pocket grandmother says, “I love you, but… that color looks terrible on you,” it feels helpful and loving. She can say, “I love you, but that guy you’re dating is a jerk.” She can say “Sweetie, that is not your shoe size.” And you feel cared about.   When your mother says, “I love you, but…” it feels judgmental and controlling. As you create your Pocket Grandmother, you can notice the difference in mothering and grand-mothering. There is a time gap of one generation of difference, allowing the necessity of the mother who is responsible for your training and the grandmother who can be your inspiration and your life-long adoring system of caring and support. Mothers tend to “mold” you; Grand-Mothers will “unfold” you.

    Imagine telling this new inner being your troubles. See them melt like frozen snow in warm sunshine. Feel your well-being, your worthiness, your wealth and your personal warmth begin to radiate from you—no matter what comes.

    You, with your vivid imagination, can construct a personal, private safe haven of comfort and support. Just imagine sitting or being held in the arms of a kind and caring grandmother. Experience the absolute comfort of pure love. Relax and absorb the feelings of security and comfort; allow those feelings to become your true state of being.

    Pocket Grandmother can be created by what she is not—admonishing, controlling, criticizing, suspicious, impatient, condemning, judging, guiding, limiting, or fearful. You can create her by using the positive side of the negative critical parent descriptors. You are the creator who can establish a different inner parent—a nurturing grandparent—your very own Pocket Grandmother. She is always there to give positive recognition, freedom from load, a witnessing spirit, tolerant, patient, praising, championing, inviting, befriending, and ever expansive, evolving, and resilient.

    Your internalized Pocket Grandmother is your champion, your friend, your comfort, your support, and she loves you without conditions. She offers you warm acceptance just as you are. Pocket Grandmother, like the good witch Glinda, reminds you that you had the ruby slippers all along. She is playful and sometimes comedic, sometimes brash, always truthful and real. She is honest with no need to earn your love.  Enjoy your creation!

     

    My Daddy

    Odie B. McNeely (1898-1988)

    I think I was in my Mother’s belly when I first became attuned to the sound of my Father’s voice and sensitive to his moods. He was the dominant force in my early hypnotic* childhood years. I don’t know when he first yelled at me or hit me with a swat of his hand to my backside. I was told that I was spanked when I stepped in a mud puddle at about the time I learned to walk.

    Later, he yelled and took his belt off to lash my legs and rear end, bringing welts, but having the extreme payoff of my being totally conditioned to his every word, thought, feeling—especially his feelings. I could read his oncoming headaches, which were frequent, spelling an end to anything such as exuberance, free play, or what he called “racket.”

    My favorite escape was playing the piano from age four on and his reaction to that “noise” was so vehement that I would stop playing the moment I heard his footsteps on the back porch. When he entered the house after his hard work in the fields on our farm, the mood changed and everything was about his desires, wants, and feelings. I was in tune with his presence, his words, his tone of voice, his facial expressions, his body postures, movements, gestures, and his moods.

    Meals at our house were dominated by his voice. He prayed his blessing and thanks for the food and then he began his expositions. His words were usually critical of someone or something—in our community, at our church, in our family. He announced in long diatribes who was “naughty” or who was “nice.” And, not very many were on his list of nice people. Nearly everyone was subject to his evaluations and criticism.

    By the way, his punishment of me didn’t help me become truthful (I was spanked for lying) nor full of confidence (I felt his shame that I could not make him look good). The real truth about punishment of children or adults is that it is abuse (usually learned from a previous generation who believed it was the way of conquering our sinful nature). But, I did learn to be very smart about what I revealed. And, I became an expert in deceit and covering up what I knew would be displeasing to him. I later learned that all my defenses were exercised in my attempt to keep him from imploding, exploding, or dying. I cared so much about his well being that I shaped all my behavior to assure he would survive.

    His non-verbal treatment of me trained me to live in the Transactional Analysis “injunctions.” The ones I seemed to have internalized were Don’t feel; Don’t be yourself; Don’t be loud (translation-don’t be heard); Don’t dominate (but when you perform, you must act like a star!); and above all, Don’t disobey.

    As compensation for those unconscious injunctions, I followed the conscious drivers of Being Perfect; Being Pleasing; Being Strong; and Being Careful. These were my compensatory reactions to his depth messages that I was flawed, not worthy, should not be myself, and had to be always on the lookout for disapproval from any source. I could hear him cough and my sensory responses lighted up in a sort of vigilance, much like a rabbit who gets very still and perks up her ears.

    Early on, I began to be angry with him and learned that I could not express my anger with any possibility of a good outcome. He could out-do me in that arena. So, I stuffed my anger and chose to have asthma, instead.

    My asthma attacks were attributed to an inheritance from my grandmother who had asthma. She was my mother’s mother and, therefore, subject to some of his most scathing sermons. They said the asthma skipped generations, so I was subject to “inherit” that malady. I cried, I wheezed, I choked, and I coughed.

    I remember stifling my urge to cough once when we were going to the county Fair in Lubbock. He said to my mother, “If she can’t stop that coughing, we’ll have to go back home.” So, I struggled to hold back my explosion of coughing. Never did anyone wonder if I might have feelings or thoughts that would reveal how I viewed the situation.

    I will tell you about one more incident in my early adulthood.

    After I was married and before I had my first child, I had bought my own piano and diligently practiced a Chopin Polonaise. Mother’s family always played music when we got together. The occasion was Mother’s graduation from college (in her forties) and her siblings were present. I was asked to play and decided to do the Polonaise. This was a difficult piece and I was enjoying showing it off to my aunts and uncles. But my Daddy was talking throughout my performance.

    He was reacting to the dynamic piece to my uncle and I slammed my hands on the keys and left the room in a storm of anger. I cried and he came out to plead with me to come back in but I remained resolute and held my ground, blaming him for his interruption of my piece. I was medicated for heart palpitations following that outburst. As I birthed my children, his presence still could trip me into old feelings of rage and discomfort. Such was the extent of my neurotic symbiosis with my Daddy. He loomed large as my emotional nemesis. My self-pity was rampant and my blame of him was inconsolable.

    I did not experience the feeling of being loved, except by one or two relatives outside my family. More about them later, but now, eighty years later, I want to tell what I have discovered in this last year of working on unconditional self-love. I have experienced a genuine transformation. I like it and view it as an epiphany.

    I have uncovered a real truth from deep down in my psyche. The first fifteen years of my life were a training laboratory. It was a crucible much like the tumbling vat into which a raw stone is placed. If it does not break, it gets “shined” into a new formation. My Daddy was my early trainer-teacher-coach-mentor for my talent development and my chosen profession, which is that of counselor-coach-mentor-teacher. He was the force from which I became vigilant, aware, awake, and extremely sensitive to the feelings of others.

    I can walk into a teacher’s lounge, a board meeting, a classroom, or a group of any kind and my senses are tuned in to the vibrational energy in the room. This phenomenon is automatic, ingrained in my very state of being. Feelings, emotional turmoil, especially depressed, angry, or hopeless vibrations are on my radar without much effort from me.

    Another of my lessons from him is my comprehensive empathy for men, especially husbands and fathers. Their roles as providers and chief caretakers of our world, for the last five thousand years, has placed an undue burden on them. Wryly, I say it is since the first males declared that God was masculine. But that age is nearing its end with the beginning of the Aquarian Age.

    The rise of the feminine in both males and females is releasing men to be equal partners with women. We can share the load and the responsibility. They no longer have to be the one sitting on top of the pyramid, giving orders and commands. Wives do not need to obey husbands. In truth, obedience may not be the best development of any human being. The U.S. army now teaches that each troop is an army of one. I believe there is a leader in every chair. We, each individual, are an expression of the eternal life force, unique and significant.

    As I live this life, now in my 80s, I realize that I learned to be intuitive, to look and listen, watch and wait, be ever present from those fifteen years I lived in the house my father built. Literally, he built our little yellow, two-bedroom house with his own hands. He made a living farming, doing the hard physical labor to provide for his family. He managed to keep us alive, with food and clothing during a severe time of economic depression.

    He was a community and church leader, a pioneer who survived the dust bowl of the 1930s. He died, leaving us money, which was his prime inspiration and motivation. His money, in the form of CDs, was his pleasure, the result of his desires–proof that he had made it. Yet, he shared with me his fear of dying. Materiality does not spell worthiness.

    His behavior suggested that he believed dying meant failure, somehow. Oddly, when he died at age 90, his funeral was held in a church packed with admiring friends and relatives. The eulogies spoke of all the love and unusual power that he brought to the world he inhabited. More than one person said in effect, “They broke the mold when Odie B. McNeely was born.”   He was a force to be reckoned with. One of his pastors told me that when he criticized something about how the church business was being conducted, he was usually right.

    My view of him was that of a little child, wanting to be loved and wanting to grow. His pleasure was my pleasure; his moods were my guiding light. If he was content, I was able to relax and be at rest. I never fully felt free to be myself for there was always the specter of his next outburst waiting to explode.

    I now know that children grow and learn through imitation and play. Playing usually involves loud laughter, screaming voices, and messiness. All of those were on his hit list, and I knew I could not engage in that kind of play around him. And, sure enough, I modeled my style of parenting after his. I was critical, punishing, negative, and all -powerful. To this day, I beg forgiveness for imitating him.

    My great shame as a parent of my incredibly loveable children is that I did not learn what it meant to create a home full of love and caring, with lots of permission for disorderly conduct and messiness. My standards were measured by his rules. I dreaded any visit from my parents if my house was not clean or my children were not exemplary, according to his judgment. Consequently, I placed the same pressure on my family that I felt growing up. His pleasure was the rule. Actually, it was more like avoiding his criticism was the rule.

    What I wanted to report in this writing is the transformation that has come in the past year. I focused on unconditional self-love, returned to the practice of self-re-parenting, and addressed with “merciless self-awareness” all that was required to approach such a daunting growth spiral. Today, I feel rid of and totally cleared of my resentments and blame of him. The process of forgiveness of him feels complete for me. My forgiveness holds far more than just understanding him and how he was the way he was.

    It is not about justifying his actions or moving past my own pain and suffering. I could tell you his story and we could agree that he came to his ways very legitimately, learning from his parents. So, there is no blame any more. I am not the Victim I thought I was. He was not my Persecutor. It goes deeper than that.

    Most of the therapy that I have done over the course of learning how to be a therapist was in some form of analysis or cognitive behavioral change. Gestalt therapy was a way of bringing to awareness what had happened and, of course, my father was usually in the “chair” whenever I was expressing my feelings. The net result was that I was convinced of my victimhood and that he was chief persecutor. Those gestalt sessions actually “rehearsed” more of my victimhood, making him the ogre and the cause of all my suffering. My self-pity was reinforced.

    Old style cause-effect thinking is too often our way of missing the real point of evolutionary growth. To my shame, I had a melt-down when he was dying and told him my feelings, all carefully rehearsed (in those therapy sessions), blaming him for never loving me and showering him with my explosion of anger, sounding very much like him in his prime of life. My sorrow is that before he died, I didn’t reach the stage of development I am describing today. Self-love and self-forgiveness are the real growth challenge. I want to believe that he knows at soul level. This new picture is what I would want him to know.

    I also want to declare that he did love me. I was his first-born and he poured out his whole self into my life development. When I left my childhood home, at age fifteen, he cried and said he knew I would never return. And I did not. That part of the story remains to be told later. I am telling this chapter of the story to reveal what I now believe about my story and the reason for my choice of this man as my father, before I was born into this life. Yes, I believe that we, at soul level, choose our parents. I was not a mistaken zygote, bouncing out of the basket and getting into the wrong womb or wrong family.

    I am awash in gratitude for him. I thank him for our relationship.

    My gratitude is strong for his merciless training program. The side benefit of my acute sensitivity to the moods and needs of others is my great gift from him. So, whatever our pact was at soul level, I am mentally sending the message that he did his job. If I, indeed, asked to have these talents and learn the skills and knowledge necessary to be a transformative change agent for people who seek me out for their own growth, then he was a player on my stage. He fulfilled my request – in spades. For that, I am full of gratitude. And I say from the depths of my being, Thank You, Daddy.

    I feel the tears well up for I know that I loved him from the very core of my being. And, I also know that he loved me.

    Nice!

    * For the first seven years of a child’s life, the brain operates primarily in delta (deep-sleep) and theta – brainwaves that travel slower than later in life. Alpha and beta waves develop later, so those early years are like being in a trance. Words, tone of voice, and facial expressions from caretakers are registered deeply in the psyche.