The AllCreation Podcast

Marj Barlow started life in 1929 as a Fundamentalist Baptist and went on to co-lead the world’s first, global-scale, net-zero corporation makeover initiative at Interface, in her 70s... In between, Dr. Barlow helped 1,000s of people as a pioneering therapist, humanist and feminist. In Part 1, she recounts her journey, "the first 45 years."

Show Notes

A Life of Transformation: Marj Barlow, PhD., is a historically-significant therapist, global-business-change leader, and self-care advocate from Texas. Most famous for her pioneering leadership at Interface Carpets, the world’s largest commercial carpet manufacturer, and first global manufacturer to try to reach net zero and net regenerative environmental impacts, Dr. Barlow built her success off of an identity rooted in honesty, family, Faith, science, and her own experiences. In this podcast, editor Chris Searles wanted to ’envision transformation’ from an American/Christian historical perspective, so he asked Marj to share about her early life. Born and raised in rural West Texas in the 1930s, mother to five, and more, Marj knows transformation. This interview is part of AllCreation’s collection, Envisioning Transformation

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0:00    Welcome & intro 
3:00    Marj shares about her childhood 
10:00    Adult life at 15
15:15    A Baptist, quantum-physicist, first husband  
21:00    Single mom with four children at 34
24:30    Becoming a counselor & second husband   
32:30    Massive American culture shift 
38:00    New life as a therapist
42:00    How her beliefs have evolved 
  • respect for more pious people
  • exploring other Faiths, different pathways 
  • social life
  • sampling other Christian denominations
  • Jean Houston, Life Force  
  • Life after death science 

Each little child is to be unfolded, not molded.
I think that’s all we have, is our story -- and everybody’s story is very important to me. So I try to help people join what I call ’’The Triple A’’ and become the Author, Actor, and Audience of your life story. You’re the only one who will watch your story from birth to death… I help people get their story into a form they can live with.

Each human being is unique and very significant. We are God in action and it is our sacred privilege to travel a lifetime and learn how to love.
Who are you really? What could you be? 

Thanks for listening.
This podcast is one of seven interviews from our
Winter Solstice 2022 collection, "Envisioning Transformation." 
It was edited by Chris Searles. 

What is The AllCreation Podcast? Faith • Spirit • Biodiversity • Connections

Unedited / Unproofed transcript provided by Otter.AI

Chris Searles 0:00
Hey everybody. I'm Chris Searles. Welcome to the all Creation podcast. I am Executive Editor and co founder of all creation, and then the editor of this issue, envisioning transformation. Today I get to talk with one of my favorite mentors. There is a whole lot I can say about Marge Barlow, but this will be a brief version of a very large, very long intro. Marge Biola grew up in rural West Texas in the 1930s and 40s, on a farm, reared in a life that most Americans would consider today to be hard and fragile. She went on to become a leading therapist in Texas in the 1960s, into the 1990s, and eventually became known around the world in our own humble way. And she's still active in many projects today. Marge is most famous professionally for leading the culture change team and the culture change aspect at interface carpets, a giant international industrial carpet company, that is the only company to really take seriously the idea of becoming net regenerative and eliminating its environmental impacts. In the 1990s, and 2010s, maybe a couple of others are starting to join in now Microsoft and Apple are starting to do some things that are pretty exciting. But March was really at the root and the foundation of this historic change and the way we think about industrialization and what it requires to move beyond creating toxic and destructive impacts on our life support system. And that's how I know her as I'm first sort of became aware of her as a leader in this pioneering space, which began I believe, close to her retirement years. And then the founder of the company held on to her for as long as he could into her retirement. She's also I'm gonna keep going for just a little longer here. She's also the leading feminist I think, historically, she started the possible woman in the 1990s. She started the pocket grandmother, in her 90s. And faith and spirituality have been foundational to her identity to her life experience all the way throughout. So I'm hoping to hear from March today about kind of her perspective throughout her life. I would describe Marge on this particular day at this moment in time, which is to say she's always changing and evolving and transforming in part as a spiritualist therapist, mom who raised five children, beloved friend to hundreds of people locally and around the world, a great chef and a pocket grandmother to me for sure. And so Marge, welcome to the all Christian podcast. Thank you very much for being here today.

Dr. Marj Barlow 2:42
Thank you for my goodness, Chris, you are unbelievable the way you in capsulated my life there. I can't. I don't know that woman that you just described. But yes, it was true. I was born in 1929, January, the year of the Great Depression started Wall Street crashed. And I laugh about thinking I caused it because, you know, life revolves around every baby. But growing up on the plains of Texas in the dustbowl area, with no indoor plumbing, no electricity. No, certainly, we didn't even have a radio. So you had to make your own entertainment. And we did that with music mother played the piano at church and also for her family gatherings. And life was what it was. I didn't know anything different. So the history of my religious life started in a little community called Owens, south of Rawls, which is east of Lubbock.

Chris Searles 4:09
to small towns, I don't know of any wisdom today,

Dr. Marj Barlow 4:13
you heard in Crosby County, it was and as you mentioned, the the life was was hard because it was Sandstorm Dust Bowl. And the men of the community there would have been about 25 or 30 families who settled that one community and they got together and built a community auditorium. So the Baptists would meet on one Sunday in the Methodist would meet the next, the church of Christ, which was the third group met every Sunday afternoon. And so those With the three religions, I've never heard the Catholic Church and the brand of Baptists that that I was born into was fundamental Baptist. It was not even Southern Baptist. So very, very conservative. And lots of judgment. We, as females were not allowed to wear slacks. Certainly not shorts. And yeah, lots of restrictions. Yet, they let me have my first date would you believe to go to church on a Sunday night with Calvin Miller in his pickup? And would you believe I was 11 years old? But that's because they skipped me in school. I knew how to read and write mother was a teacher. So what

Chris Searles 6:01
was the nature of a date? Slightly different also, just to sort of check in on that for the Gen Z kids that might be listening. Right now? Yeah.

Dr. Marj Barlow 6:12
Well, the farm community, majored on weddings, and family beginnings. So everybody when I went in first grade, every every girl had a boyfriend.

Chris Searles 6:30
Okay, so it really was focused in that direction.

Dr. Marj Barlow 6:36

Chris Searles 6:39
Yeah. proliferate and build the farm and the community.

Dr. Marj Barlow 6:43
Yes, yeah. Just like you bred cattle and so on. And I had skipped grades. So because I already could read and write when I got to school. And so they put me in the second grade, immediately. And then the third and fourth grade met in the same room. So I did both those grades at the same time. Consequently, skipping ahead, I graduated from high school when I was 15. And went immediately to college. Because I had read a catalog, I ordered a college catalog. West Texas State and Canyon was my college of choice, because my grandparents of the mother's people lived in Canyon, and had moved there specifically so their children could go to college. So the Conqueror clan was more in the nature of higher education and pursuit of learning. Whereas the Makhni Lee's which was my father's group, were more earthy. And my dad, he was a carpenter as well as a farmer. And he was the bookkeeper at the gym. So that first date that I had was with the son of the manager of the gym.

Chris Searles 8:07
And Ji in the gym.

Dr. Marj Barlow 8:11
Cotton Gin, right. Yeah. Yeah, the crops that we grew were cotton and grain. And my daddy taught me how to drive the tractor. By the time I was 11, actually, when I was six years old, he said, get over here on en drive this car to the house that you and he put the Model A Ford in first gear. And he said, Now we'll get there ahead of you. He had the team of horses with the wagon. And he said you steer the car. So I got on my knees and took the wheel of the Model A Ford, and kind of did broad essence, way down the term row to the house and he raced the horses ahead and stopped the car, turn the key off. So that was my first Driver's Ed, six years old. And and then he paid me 50 cents a day to drive the tractor for the men to head maize or to pick cotton and put bundles of feed in the wagon. And so I was a farmhand. early on. But

Chris Searles 9:33
was that also when you were about six they started working for pay on the farm or a little later?

Dr. Marj Barlow 9:40
No more like when I was 10 I was well at six I was turning the cream separator which was

Chris Searles 9:48
probably had lots of jobs that you weren't paying for.

Dr. Marj Barlow 9:52
Well, it was much to do. We gather up the eggs every day I did and not much wreck reIation I'll put it that way. So I left when I was 15. And never went back to my parents house again. And again, I had read the catalog and could see that I could get out of college in three years, if I went in the summer, so and what happened, I was at West Texas State and Canyon. And my parents wrote me a letter they didn't call or come and inform me they had sold the cotton farm. And we're moving to Weslaco, Texas, to farm grapefruit. And that I would be transferring either to Texas College of Arts and industries in Kingsville. Or to sell Ross and Alpine, whichever was closer to Weslaco. Now, if you know Texas geography, Alpine is 500 miles from Weslaco. Texas is a big state, and Gainesville was 100 miles. So obviously, I ended up in Kingsville, Texas, okay. And it was January of 1945, that I moved to Kingsville. It's the home of the famous King Ranch, that largest ranch in the world at one time. And so this was World War Two. There were very few male students on either West Texas campus or Texas College of Arts and industries. It's now known as Texas a&m. It was Texas A and I

went, I went there. And

returning world war two veteran when the war was over, Sony playing the piano at the Baptist Church and said, that's the one I'm going to marry. And I laugh, because I had overheard my father talking to my mother when I was a child. And I tell people, be careful how you talk around your children, because I heard him say, I hope our children married people with short noses. I'd like to breed out these long noses. I took that in my mind as gospel and knew he had to be Baptists. So here was a Baptist with a short nose check. He had a degree in chemical engineering, and had come back and was teaching chemistry laboratories. While he figured out what he was going to do,

Chris Searles 12:48
and this is roughly 1950,

Dr. Marj Barlow 12:51
no, this would have been 1945. Still, barely 70 years old.

Chris Searles 12:58
And field is at the beginning of this enormous explosion in terms of where America is going, where the world economy is going. Exactly.

Dr. Marj Barlow 13:07
Yes, plastic was about to happen. In fact, after we married James Robinson, my first husband, he actually went to work for Celanese, and was good friends with the eventual president of Celanese. So both had been chemical engineers. But on our little short honeymoon, oh, by the way, I told him, I couldn't marry him until I graduated. And he said, okay, and waited until I graduated on Oh, think a Monday morning and we got married the next Sunday. And I now am 18 years old. So I have my BDA, I was going to be a secretary. Because for females in 1940s, you could be a teacher, or a nurse or secretary. It never occurred to me to think about being a county judge or any kind of leadership position. The restrictions for females were such that you stayed inside the lines. And our short honeymoon up to CURV al Texas. James asked me How many children do you want? And I said, Oh, for two girls, two boys. He said, Okay, I said, Okay. And so we married in 1947 Right after I got my degree, and then we had a girl in 1953 1950 A boy and 53 a girl and 56 more infecting two girls, two boys, just like and on the way he had earned his PhD in quantum physics. Wow. He was a Baptist Deacon, quantum physicist, if you put that together,

Chris Searles 15:18
I can I think all that's coming back together for people in a way now. Yeah, if I just interrupt on that note I was speaking with the other mentor that I'm going to speak with, because I haven't told you about Jimmy Calhoun, who is, among other things, was one of the most influential bass players of the 70s. Like, literally, literally changed music. And, and so we were, let's say, we were talking about this interesting idea of, as you said, a Baptist in that, you know, highly scientific space, I was saying, with, with Jimmy, you know, who's a musician, and now pastor for 3040 years. The thing about sciences so far, it's, it's denied the presence of the mystery, you know, we can't explain how life comes into existence, how it forms, its material self, we call it photosynthesis. But obviously, there's something before that, that creates some kind of intelligence that creates a body. So we call that spirit, you know, it's an animation sort of as best we can do. And then when that leaves a life form, that thing is no longer functional. So you know, slowing or contributing from a material perspective. So science is really just always about quantifying materialism. But we live in a world that comes from some other place to create materialism. And that's part of this transformation, I think, that we need to make is, is really understanding that, so science, perhaps from a, you know, a religious Baptist, you know, and say, Well, this is how we're measuring the things that we can understand that are quantifiable inside of, you know, the same sort of Native American kind of language of this great mystery of existence. You know, materialism is not everything. Clearly, emotions are pretty damn important right now, you know, and in the Human Sphere, for instance. Yeah, so anyway, I, yeah, I could see that working together really well, at that time.

Dr. Marj Barlow 17:09
Well, I can think of a kind of three legged stool with art, and science and religion as the legs of that stool.

My first husband,

with his growing up Baptist, and he was a leader in Kingsville Baptist Church. He, he had some difficulties with his theoretical world of quantum physics. And he felt like he was losing his measuring stick that he wanted. He wanted absolutes, and with quantum physics, and as you know, with the double slit experiments and concepts, when you get to the quantum world, you really have to take a look at your belief structure. And I think that was hard for him.

Chris Searles 18:19
To interrupt, how did he perceive that? Or how do you perceive that, and I'll just offer that I perceive it when you see those videos, you know, nowadays, that you can look at it and go, Well, those parts of those little particles have a mind of their own. You know, they're behaving I don't know what that is. But yes, something spiritual there. There's some identity there. There's some behavior there. It's not just, you know, to bump into each other.

Dr. Marj Barlow 18:42
Yeah, Einstein talked about spooky action at a distance, and he himself couldn't quite resolve it. So there are many mysteries that and with this newest telescope, taking us further and further into the universe. It's a little hard to hold on to localized belief structures as we had in a simplistic I remember, in my early childhood, Mike's step grandmother was my Sunday school teacher. And she was five years old. When this story happened. She was talking about Hellfire because she was gonna scare her soul into becoming Christian. Those were the days when you walk the island. And so I in my five year old mind, US piped up and said, well, it wouldn't matter so much your body would burn up and it'd be over and she's Oh, no. God gives you a permanent body. So she kept my fear of hell alive. At age five.

Chris Searles 20:02
Have you heard the George Carlin joke? God loves you, but if you you know, don't obey. Yeah. tortured forever.

Dr. Marj Barlow 20:12
So yes, I grew up with a mortal fear of hellfire and scared, much of that, because I couldn't imagine. And I didn't realize then that I was liberalizing the pronouns. I couldn't hear she, and if were in the leadership of the church was all male. So that kind of now takes me into Oh, with the death of the Baptist husband,

Chris Searles 20:48
which was about 1958. Is that right? We're 60? No, not 5860 62. Okay. Sorry about that. Thank you.

Dr. Marj Barlow 20:59
We were on that three year plans. We got married three years later, the first child Three years later, the second, third, fourth, and three years after the fourth child, he died. So it was like, Oh, there I was with four little children. And excuse me, I have a kind of raspy throat. To my astonishment, I realized I had thought of the PhD he was earning as hours because I had

supported him.

Chris Searles 21:37
Asked about that you just mentioned the leadership in the church was all male. And my brain immediately went, you know, leadership everywhere was all male at that time. So was that part of that kind of social construct that you support your husband and you guys gained together? And oh, yeah, yeah, torn away in this moment. And I'm so

Dr. Marj Barlow 21:58
I had suspended my life to have these four children, and to get him to the PhD so that we could live life and the PhD died when he died. It was like some part of my brain just didn't, didn't comprehend. So I had some good counseling during that grief stage. And the first Christmas, he died in July, I had come to the conclusion talking to my counselor that I probably wanted to marry again. Because I was a bit overwhelmed. My parents helped me but it was not easy to have these 369 and 12 aged children and not have a career. I was the principal of the Badgers Day School. At that particular time,

Chris Searles 23:03
women didn't really have careers yet either. Right? And in white America, and much less the rest of the world.

Dr. Marj Barlow 23:09
Exactly. But I could supplement our income by teaching music, back to state school, and then eventually becoming principal out of it. And I think they made me principal that day school after he died as a way of increasing my salary. I was the church organist, and the principal of the day school. So I had a job that paid a small amount,

but not enough to support for children.

And there had been a little pension from his having been in lieutenant in the Air Force during World War Two. But I thought, I need a husband to help me with these children.

Chris Searles 23:57
Your farm practicality came came in handy. Exactly.

Dr. Marj Barlow 24:01
Yes. Yes, I needed help. And I made up a Christmas card that that year was me and the four children I cleaned them up and took them to a good photographer and and I laughingly say that was my first marketing campaign. That Christmas card was my brochure advertising me and these kids are for sale. And nobody came. Yeah, so the next year, I decided, as I mentioned, I had had some good counseling. And I decided I could do that I never would like to do that I loved people had always worked in some form with people. And so I decided I would take the necessary foundation courses and get a master's degree in counseling in psychology and become a counselor, and I knew that I could be a school counselor and raise children and have my summers off and so forth. And so that's I went in to sign up for counselor training. And the man who was head of the program was Dr. Paul Barlow. And he was a bachelor.

Chris Searles 25:23
No kidding. Yes. So it took

Dr. Marj Barlow 25:27
him two hours to figure my credits. And we had a date within a month after that. And he took me to a play in Corpus Christi, and he had a red Bonnyville convertible. And Oh, and here's a story.

Chris Searles 25:48
And no advertising required. Right.

Dr. Marj Barlow 25:52
And he asked me for a date on a Saturday night and I said, Well, I'm going to Austin for to a ballgame. I had a I did have another man overstating that he was a Baptist and seemed logical that he could maybe be so so I had to man

whose theatres and was Baptist

Chris Searles 26:16
culture and sort of the institution of the church still very central to the whole your whole life. I'm still church organist. And, but Paul was outside of that community at that time.

Dr. Marj Barlow 26:27
Yeah, he was Missouri, Synod Lutheran. And by the way, my brother had volunteered for the mission field. So my only sibling, spent his whole life as a Baptist missionary in Africa and Mongolia. And he lives today here in Austin in the Buckner retirement Oh,

Chris Searles 26:51
forgot that. No. Incredible. Yeah.

Dr. Marj Barlow 26:55
So here,

I'm going on this date with this Baptist. And Paul said, What are you going to do with the children? And I said, Well, I'm going to take them down to Wessel code and stay with my parents. He said, May I do that? And I said, Well, yeah. So he made a cold call in his red convertible with four children in Weslaco, with my parent, parents, and, and furthermore, went back and pick them up at the end of the weekend. So he, he won my heart because he was good with children. And, and he had also been in the Nebraska Human Resources foundation work with early beginnings of positive psychology. And out of it came the Clifton Strengths Finder, he, he was good friends and a colleague with Don Clifton, the late CEO of Gallup. So he introduced me to positive psychology and strength based psychology. And he was very good with the four children. Yeah. Brand to them all four. So I got the degree in the husband about the same time.

Chris Searles 28:23
Okay, let's let's hit the pause button there to sort of put time markers here for the chronology for the audience again, so you're born in 29. In rural West Texas, raised in a, you would say conservative, Christian farm based reality. Then ended up in ultimately, Austin area married. And at that point, you're still very involved, which we don't have time to go into in this interview, but very, very involved with the church. I know because you were at First Baptist Church where my dad was then later, 20 years later. Such a coincidence. Yeah, incredible. The theology that Carla will Marnie

Dr. Marj Barlow 29:04
was such a breath of fresh air. Oh, my goodness,

Chris Searles 29:09
yes. For Baptists and Southern Baptists. And you know, Central Texas Baptists, Carla Marnie was the guy and you were there during that time sitting in those pews.

Dr. Marj Barlow 29:17
Oh, well, actually, we were in the choir, literally on the choir. Both were Yeah. Even though I didn't have a good voice, but we had been always in the choir and we taught Sunday School at First Baptist. Now, I want

Chris Searles 29:33
to come back to all that in a future thing because that to me having grown up then, you know, born in 71, and you're there 18 years earlier, something like that. That's so central geographically and Austin and the university all that stuff. It's like, to me the the culture that you all matured into at that time. I've benefited from and it's very, yeah, very much why I do what I do now. But that's for another conversation. So you're there in the end Austin in the 50s.

Dr. Marj Barlow 30:03
Quick coincidence there, Alan shivers was the governor at that time. And he was James's Sunday school teacher, at First Baptist,

Chris Searles 30:13
yes, that that classroom is still named, I think after him, Alan shivers. And it says something like, you know, great men walk through these doors over that classroom. And, yeah, it's a little bit egotistical for the modern culture, to say the least. But there's also this spirit of trying to accomplish great things together, that seems to be kind of absent in current culture, maybe we're transformation should go. So the thing I want to sort of emphasize to the audience is, you know, you really don't just represent you were very much a part of a transformational time coming out of the depression into World War Two and out of all that into the consumer economy of America, and so forth, the desegregation, these feminist movements, and so forth. At the same time, you were even more involved on the sort of cutting edge, I think of where thinking has been going about what is reality? And how do we make ourselves healthy and sort of positive, successful people. So James, you know, very much on the cutting edge of how to understand the material nature of reality. And then Paul, the Paul that I knew, was ultimately engaged in child therapy, play therapy, because it has such a central importance to how well we can deal with

Dr. Marj Barlow 31:27
adult life. And so to me, the point of that,

Chris Searles 31:31
emphasizing that to the audience is that you are now kind of in your life story, to some degree rooted in several ways, in very deep kind of relationships with what it means to be alive and do things and people are, many people are now coming into some of these awarenesses. You know, quantum physics has been an exciting conversation for Gen. Millennial or whatever, Gen Y the millennials, you know, that's like, very recently, kind of like, a cool thing. So can you lay out a little bit more? This sort of sits, then these reference points were so you and Paul, are married and Kingsville? And you spend 2530 years rooted in that area around Corpus Christi? And was, was religion still a part of things? Was it sort of in the mix? And I don't mean to get too personal. I'm just trying to get a reference to because of the the rest of that question is, and then you're in a new place. Now, I know from where you were, then, because that was a very transformational time. That's when feminism really began. I assume. I would love to hear that kind of chronology.

Dr. Marj Barlow 32:40
What happened with that shift from the Baptist boyfriend to Paul, which by the way, I tell people don't link up with someone that you're not sexually attracted to.

That's a route

and an absolute in my work with marriage. Has to be there. That Yeah. And so I'm more attracted to Paul, and he's a Missouri Synod Lutheran. So we

Chris Searles 33:19
go ahead and trouble in River City. Oh, yeah.

Dr. Marj Barlow 33:23
And of course, my Baptist pastor would gladly have baptized Paul taking him in, but he was not going that direction. And we lived across the street from the Methodist pastor and their children played with my children. And he saw an opportunity. So by the way, Paul, on our honeymoon said, How many children do you want? And I said, None. And then we missed out, thank you. But we miraculously ended up having a child after we're married six years, and I was 41. And he was 43. So I'm on a 5020 year plan with the children. And, of course, he wanted the child baptized, and the Methodist pastor gladly accommodated that and took it in the whole family. So we began with this. To my mother's happiness, she had grown up Methodist. Then I began, that Methodist pastor, his name was Bruce Galloway. And he saw a need in the community for a counseling agency. And by that time, I had finished my degree and had been high school counselor a couple of years, and then quit when we couldn't handle Are the drug


Paul was the essentially the dean of students on campus, I was the high school counselor in charge of discipline. And we were over our heads, we did not know what to do. Our daughter was smoking pot with college students, she was a high school student, and we threw in the towel, and I quit, we both quit our counseling jobs, to regroup and go back home. And that's when the new child came along. And so, there I was, with now five children. And he went back to being a full professor just teaching. And we began to study the culture, and try to figure out what was going on. This was days of hippies, and

all of the long hair and I know the

University President's son was good friends with our son, and he said, cut your hair, it's my way or the highway in the childhood way. And we didn't lose our children. But we had to build a pretty tall wall around our little abode.

Chris Searles 36:25
One interesting reference maybe for the audience to about how that I think of is about how sudden and radical the shift was, is I think, nowadays, people think of someone like Stevie Wonder, for instance, and artists who emerged in the late 60s, mid 60s to late 60s, ruled the 70s as a very saintly figure rightly, because he's done so many wonderful things about love. Yeah. But in the interviews that you can read with him in the early 70s, he talks about drug use in the same way people talk about drinking water, you know, it was like it was completely immersive. For a lot of people at that moment. It's just sort of arrived and people were into it. And they realize, oh,

Dr. Marj Barlow 37:06
yeah, yeah. And that's, we, we had to kind of pull in and out of that period, where I went back home to be mother in charge of five children. And Paul went back to the classroom. We spent many, many hours in discussion with our children, lots and lots of family

around the table talk. And about the same

time, the pastor of that Methodist Church wanted to start a community counseling agency. And so he saw that I was not employed. And he, so Paul became first president of the board, and I became the first Counselor of the Claiborne County Family guidance services. And I started a whole new life as a counselor. I'm sure those first Navy families that there was a naval birth base in Kingsville. And I did marital counseling, without knowing what I was doing.

Chris Searles 38:20
Yeah, I'm kind of curious about what that really looked like and felt like in that time, especially compared to today, it kind of reminds me of yoga studios, or something like that, that people are like what the heck is now it's common,

Dr. Marj Barlow 38:34
right? So we have a sliding fee scale. And my best friend had also earned her master's in psychology with boats being

her major professor. So she and I

put together this community agency, and she was the first president of the board and, and on and on. And she went on to move to Austin and have a successful private practice. And I went on to create a private practice in Corpus Christi at the psychological service center. And that's how I established myself that way. But all along the way. Most of my clientele was female. It would be the female who would bring the husband and for marital counseling, and he would grudgingly kind of tag along. Oh, never forget one man. I asked, What do you want? And she said, Well, I just want him to say I love you every now and then. And I looked at him said, are you willing to do that? He said, Well, sure. And I said, Would you do it now? And he said here?

said yes. He looked at her and said, Well, I would love

that she cried. Oh, yeah, but I I did it

Chris Searles 40:00
oh man, yeah.

Dr. Marj Barlow 40:05
I started studying group therapy and marital therapy and went off to Western su group and family therapy in California, and learned my craft. And I apologize to those early people because I kind of practiced on them. But I love people, I love to know their stories, I think that's all we have, Chris is our story. And everybody's story is very sacred to me. So I tried to help them join what I call the triple A, and become the author, the actor and the audience of your life story. You're the only one who wants your story from birth to death. And so I help people get their story into a form they can live with. That's basically what I do. And,

Chris Searles 41:01
and you really mean that as a therapist, as a counselor, you're helping people to sort of, maybe my word for that would be come into alignment with their own truth.

Dr. Marj Barlow 41:11
Exactly. With the belief that each human being is unique, and very significant.

We are God in action. And it is our sacred privilege to travel the

lifetime, I think learning to love, I don't know, any other way to put it accepted basic curriculum for your life story is to learn how to love and that's easy to do when they act right.

Chris Searles 41:57
And you have plenty of funds.

Dr. Marj Barlow 42:00
Yeah, but loving people when they aren't acting the way you want them to. That's a stretch. And so I help people stretch a lot. Yeah.

Chris Searles 42:11
Can you talk about in this whole frame and context, can you talk about then sort of how you've seen belief change, maybe for yourself, or for society, or religion, or sort of all the above and

Dr. Marj Barlow 42:24
well, having been schooled in the fundamentalist religion, with the Baptist world, and then moving to the Methodist world, and then I was on staff at an Episcopal Church, and eventually really loved that ritual, and specially was a student of Carl Jung, who his father, you know, was a minister. And I became a pretty avid student of all religions, Sufi, seek, and all kinds of different pathways. And I had a Baptist missionary friend who was in India, and he said, he couldn't fault his housekeeper. For her duty and her religion. She prayed five times a day. And he said, in many ways, she was more devoted and religious than we were salutely.

Chris Searles 43:34

Dr. Marj Barlow 43:36
He had a very deep change of his conviction and his belief, and actually went a different direction. But I got to know a lot of people who are leaders and kind of became the unofficial chaplain of the Methodist Women ministers in South Texas, I would go up to CURV Al and have retreats with them.

Chris Searles 44:08
And also a very common practice that that clergy takes time to recharge. And I think that began in this era as well. Probably yeah. With people like you.

Dr. Marj Barlow 44:18
And my meandering paths. Then when we moved to Austin, after Paul retired by the way, Paul became a play therapist after he retired as a professor and had an office across the hall from mine. So he saw children and I worked with couples, and we would do weekends with couples and had a thing we called couples night out at our home where we would serve a meal and have some kind of, we had chemistry and a common conversation. It started all started with the communication whatever the other one was caring. Those were our subjects for four weeks, four dates a year to save your marriage. So they would come to our house on Saturday night, and

we'd have a

Chris Searles 45:15
lot of fun. That's really beautiful,

Dr. Marj Barlow 45:17
serve a good meal and have a lesson and lots of tools. Yeah. So out of all of that, when we moved back to the Austin area, we sort of sampled a lot of different Christian religion churches, ended up in Wimberley at Unity Church, the pastor there had been had grown up Baptist, and we kind of hit it off with her and I was on the board for a while. So that's from fundamentalist Baptist all the way through Methodist and Episcopal, and

Chris Searles 46:05
it's a good gamut. But also, to jump in, you know, now you're working with Jean, you're you're passionate about these areas that I don't feel comfortable talking about, because I haven't experienced them yet. But past life regression, some some other things that have to do with deeply spiritual concepts that you don't have to talk about now. But it is kind of interesting, just to point out, you know, these, these, this, in a way, this integration of ministries, you could say, you know, just to bail yourself out, have a very difficult time with four children and needing to get restarted with a income and all this stuff, you figure out a way to help other people that helps you and, and everything and, and then you and Paul, from different religious backgrounds, make your life together, helping all kinds of people in all kinds of ways that are not specifically religious. And so play therapy and date nights and counseling, and you know, so many things that are such contributions. I don't know, I just think all that is really, really, it's such an incredible identity to have historically, I think, honestly. And then also, the way these things all enter want to intertwine. And the realism also, that you have, I think, is really important that you sort of say things are what they are about people a lot of the time, and I think that's really important aspect of the transformation conversation. It is often idealistic, the ways that we think, you know, we discussed socially what's going on, and we need to be more realistic. But anyway, this intertwining of these different, so many different things, before the rest of society got there, you know, again, like, now pastors go to yoga retreats, you know, and in the 90s, that was considered anti Christian or something like that, and they're in the, you know, in many ways, for such a long time. And, and so to tie this, back to where you, I think you sort of were the, you know, the dinners and things like that there's a social aspect here, that is also feeding and nourishing and growing the feminism and this engagement in art and culture and conversation. And like you said, the the four C's are about this bigger identity, you know, engaging in the complexities and the nooks and crannies of relationships that have to be cleaned out or aligned, or you know, realigned. All of these things that are, some people would say, work, but also, you know, the work like you were saying, we're sort of called to learn to love or something like that seems to be what you you have arrived at now. And you still experience this in so many different ways. That's true.

Dr. Marj Barlow 48:50
You mentioned Jean Houston. And in, we brought her to Kingsville. Back when she was she was working with the Carter administration, going around the country. Eventually, she did. Huge. She always teaches with myth and story. So she was going around the country doing the Wizard of Oz, and we were creating a new society. Going down the yellow brick road. But when she came to Kingsville, she was not that well known. She had written one book called life force. So I got to know Jean, in her beginnings and, and began to do mystery school with her where we would go eight weekends a year to center and explore everything from science fiction to actually we we read the Bible as science fiction, and that's fun. One thing to do,

Chris Searles 50:01
yeah, the sort of thought experiment idea about your own beliefs, yeah.

Dr. Marj Barlow 50:05
And really moving into the humanity. And I'd say the big thing that out of it all, is still the mystery of what love is. The teachings of Jesus, and the experimentations of the human race in the avenues of relationship. That still uppermost always, in my mind, is to ask, Jean taught me to ask two questions of people. Who are you, really? And what could you be? And she, she brought the word. Now blocking, I can't say it, but it's, it's like there's a dynamic purposiveness of each individual human being that's equal to a whole universe. And to take you to your best self to express in Teleki is the word I was trying to recover. That means the U of U, that is

the Godself. Sort of

Chris Searles 51:26
a central intelligence that is, in a way blocked or polluted, or traumatize

Dr. Marj Barlow 51:34
as unique with each person. So that and learning strengths psychology, with the idea that humans don't change that much. So we might as well draw out what's good in them. So I don't do remediation at all, it's more developmental polsce work with children was they are persons, each little child is a person to be unfolded, not molded.

Chris Searles 52:08
I love that, to jump there, that that representation of transformation, that it is about sort of getting into the right self and moving forward, you know,

Dr. Marj Barlow 52:20
new formations that transcend the old. And consequently, it's a matter of learning. And so if everything you know, could be put in a circle, the more you learn, the bigger the circumference of the circle. And so at this stage of my life, I have moved all my books, and they were like visiting old friends. And now I know, I know nothing. The more I have learned, the more I know, I don't know.

Chris Searles 52:54
You just have more questions.

Dr. Marj Barlow 52:58
That's right. Yeah.

Chris Searles 53:00
I know that you know, a whole lot is what I mean by that.

Dr. Marj Barlow 53:04
But that keeps me going. And especially in the study of the unconscious mind, and the world of dreams that that unconscious kind of comes through in our dream world. That's very fascinating to me. And I've been researching for the last 10 years, life after death from Raymond Moody's book way back when he first wrote that. And so that's fascinating to me. There's a scientist in Tucson at the University of Arizona who is now and he was total agnostic skeptic, but his work has convinced him he says, I'm 99.99999% certain that the unconscious that the body dies, but consciousness does not. So that's been interesting in my 90s, to sink my teeth into some of that been fun

Chris Searles 54:11
to go down that rabbit trail just slightly, because I think people do struggle with that. My generation I think, was kind of emerged into that, you know, so what is going on in a different way than the fire and brimstone times of you know, 100 years earlier, kind of, and so, it is certainly feasible that when, uh, you know, this unmeasurable life force, but George Lucas calls the force in Star Wars perhaps. But this unmeasurable life force thing that's in quantum physics, perhaps, you know, in the behavioral aspect of these little particles. When it's no longer inside of a body of physical body, you know, where does my spirit go? Well, if it is a composition of some sort, you know, you The idea of reincarnation, the idea of Native American idea that the, the elders are in the winds, you know, these kinds of are the idea of the Day of the Dead in Mexico, for instance, you know, just right down the street here from Texas, peoples in Mexico can literally see their dead relatives, you know, and on and on and on the different cultures have different relationships with this big, enormous question. So I think it's just obvious that like, there's a lot of things happening, you know, there's a lot of things happening, we can't explain all of it. And it's highly likely that the thing we can't measure dissipates differently out of my body than out of your body when you pass away, you know, and so I may be a full on Casper, the Friendly Ghost, and you may be just a little bunch of moisture in the ether, you know, a cloud that disperses or you know, into fine particles. And all everywhere in between, in this kind of what is the essence of the life force thing? What is that? What is that stuff I don't think we'll ever know, in this plane, whatever this plane is...