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.



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.

14 thoughts on “Who Am I Now?

  1. Excellent blog post!

    After losing a spouse I think we all question where we fit into life. I’ve never really thought about becoming reality of someday no longer being a daughter or no longer being a sister.

    Your wisdom and compassion I’ve been shared with so many and I know that they, like I, are better for having met you.

    Whatever title or position you want to give yourself is fine with me. Just know that people who meet you see you as a light in this world.

    Wishing you the best always!

  2. Mary Lou Holt says:

    Hi Margie,

    I have missed your sweet face. You are one of the wisest women I know and you are in the midst of a great transition, gathering information, sifting through what feels right and what doesn’t, trying on old and new roles, determining your “footprint” as you described it. You will figure this out but the timetable is unknown. Call on any of us for a sounding board. Love, Mary Lou

  3. Tim says:

    Marj – you left out one MAGNIFICENT attribute. FRIEND! You have been a great friend to so many. And I have been blessed over and over to have you as a friend.

  4. Ann Akard says:

    I might add to *Who Am I Now, a friend. You still are and always will be a friend, a much loved friend. Sending light and love to you.

  5. Margie,
    You are, to me, a role model as a wise and independent thinker; a woman who found professional succcess and fulfillment at an age when most women were retiring or had long given up the idea they could have careers outside the home. You are an inspiration and I am honored to call you my friend. Love you big!!

  6. Rob McNeely says:

    Dear Margie,

    There are several roles I could suggest to you as well: Counselor is certainly one of them; Sage another. Mentor and Guide are definitely on the list. I would agree that Friend is a great one too, of course. And let’s not forget Wedding Officiant! You’ve now married off two of my kin, in a very short span of time. (I sincerely thank you, by the way.)

    However, once again they are roles ascribed to you by others. (In this case, mainly by me.) Once again they are selfish.

    So, I can’t wait to see what it is that you do next….for you! And my hope for you, for whatever role you take on, is that it begin with the word “Happy.”

    Sending love your way,


  7. Flicka Rahn says:

    Dearest Margie,
    Many of us have experienced the loss of roles and with those roles, purpose. However, I can’t begin to know the depth of the loss of your beloved Paul. He was and is webbed into your heart and soul. So, whatever I can do as a friend to just sit with you as you journey this profound transition, I will. Words are vastly overrated in the profound dimension of what you are now experiencing. Silence and the softness of breath suffice.
    I love you my friend, my mentor and my wise and beautiful crone. You are magnificent .

  8. Dear Marj,

    One thing I know for sure, is that you are, and have always been, a master of the written word. This blog post is no exception. I remember vividly, when you changed my life (through your book, The Possible Woman) at a pivotal time in my life, when I was unsure of my next steps. Turning 50 (ten years ago, now), leaving my corporate A job, creating a wellness business, while taming the MS that was taunting my nervous system. Your book, your word, your wisdom helped me shore up my confidence and passion. I’m only ONE of the woman who you have influenced throughout your illustrious career. You’ve extended yourself so far and wide and have had a profound impact on our world. You’ve helped us “STEP UP” into roles where we as woman can help heal our planet. You knew this movement was coming well before “the year of the woman” became a popular phrase. So my dear friend. What should you do now? Whatever makes your heart sing. The energy you’ve unleashed in your decades of service have a momentum that you couldn’t slow, if you wanted to. I hope you feel those waves of loving energy coming back to embrace you now. Sending sincere love+hugs, and hoping we can share conversation soon.

  9. Marj, I’m really appreciating your transparency, vulnerability, and willingness to show up just as you are. The glimpse into where you are in this journey of life gives us all a moment for reflection. As you continue to transition and strengthen into “who you are now” I’m envisioning an amazing woman with endless capacity to shift and recalibrate all that you desire, from your posture to your role of just being you. And I look forward to supporting, witnessing, and participating by showing up just as I am. Big hug, Yancy

  10. I didn’t know about Paul’s passing and of your journey of the last few years. I’m touched by the learning of this. What I do know is that your earnest asking of the question “Who am I now? has resulted in a life of contribution and enrichment. This blog post alone is an invitation and challenge to inquiry for the rest of us–in other words, a contribution. Whoever you see yourself to be, whatever you do, one thing I am certain about is this: you are an unparalleled contribution. You are the gift.

  11. Hello, I’m Marguerite Chandler, a life-long friend of Ingrid Martine who referred me to you. I too have a long, interesting life behind me (Peace Corps Volunteer, business owner, run for U.S. Congress, Life Coach, social entrepreneur)–and for the past six years, I’ve been living a delightful new life at a Quaker continuing care retirement community in Bucks County, PA. This is the finest community of people I’ve ever lived with–not an “old people’s home” (although we have residents aged 65-104), but a place of vitality and activism and mutual care as well as celebration. Life here isn’t measured by years, but by interests. The 104 year old took up the saxophone at age 95 and just played in a Talent Show with her instructor. We have groups that gather at dinner a couple times a month to brush up their proficiency in various languages (we have a French table, a Spanish table, a German table, etc.). But the juice (and the joy) for me is the “game on” spirit of activism. We’ve brought a couple of Syrian refugee families to Bucks Co. and continue to support them; we host a Poverty Simulation every other year and encourage attention to root causes, not just “help;” we have a vibrant Peace & Justice Committee, as well as 100 other committees for everything from discussing the Science section of the NYT to flower arranging. As Carl Jung sagely observed, “Is the sunset less beautiful than the sunrise?” Peace, Marguerite

  12. Dear Marj,
    We met at the Army Knowledge Management conference decades ago and you lit up the room.
    Your purpose here on this earth is far from over.
    Your blog is the first step on your next path.
    So many young people need to hear your voice, your love and support.
    You have made a huge difference in my life and we only met once, imagine the impact you still can make through your kindness.
    Forever in spirit, kindness changes everything, and we can never have enough people giving love unconditionally.

  13. Jenifer Hartsfield Pichinson says:

    Just what I need! Words from Marj. God bless you and your blog. Transformation R Us!
    I am not any of those things I used to be either. I,too, am really just one woman alive on earth and at the edge of what’s next. Between the no longer and the not yet. Toggling between anxiety and ecstacy. Moving slowly, then lurching seeking balance , stillness and serenity.

  14. Holly DeBrodt says:

    So wonderful to hear from you Marj!

    You forgot a couple of roles- MENTOR and INSPIRATION!

    That is what you are to me. So saddened to hear about Paul’s passing. Sending you much love and light as you navigate this next phase. You are often in my thoughts and it was so wonderful to see your name pop up in my inbox.

    So much love to you- Holly DeBrodt

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