The Power of the Personal Memoir

By Mary Sue Rabe | Podcast

Mar 05
Mary Sue Rabe Quotecard

Stand There and Look Pretty Darlin’


I sat down a few days ago with Carla Rieger to be interviewed on her podcast MindStory Speaker. We talked about my new book, "Stand There and Look Pretty Darlin’: Don’t Worry Your Pretty Little Head About Nothin’" a personal memoir and series of stories on race relations, gender relations and a philosophical exploration of humanity.

You can listen to the interview or read the transcription below.



[Carla]  Welcome to the Mind Story Speaker Podcast. Hey everyone. It's Carla and I'm very thrilled to have Mary Sue Rabe here as my guest today. She is the founder and director of Women Healing the World, a creative community of women who make a difference for other women in their communities. She's also the author of a personal memoir and fascinating series of stories on race relations, gender relations, just a beautiful philosophical exploration of humanity. It's called "Stand There and Look Pretty Darlin': Don't Worry Your Pretty Little Head about Nothing". These are what we call mine stories. Stories that expand our consciousness.

[Carla]  Mary grew up in a small town in central Texas in a conservative southern environment. She grew up in a big house on a big piece of land with African American employees and she was encouraged to go to college to get her Mrs Degree, which meant to just find herself a good husband. She was also encouraged to get a teaching certificate to have somebody to fall back on "just in case". And after her marriage didn't work out, she became a single working mother of two small daughters, teaching children with learning disabilities. There were few resources to help women in her position at that time. She struggled during those years financially, but it led her on a journey of personal growth, energy healing, women's empowerment and mindset enhancement. And she enjoyed the freedom of finally living life on her own terms. Now in her retirement years with decades of experience in teaching, training, mentoring, biofield healing, and providing events to expand consciousness...Mary is a coach, speaker and author and is excited to be bringing the feminine power of healing to those in need to make a better world for everyone. So let's get going with our first question. Welcome Mary.

[Mary]  Thank you. I'm glad to be here.

[Carla]  So tell us briefly what your book is about.

[Mary]  Well, my book is about people who helped raise me. My father was a cotton farmer and we had lots of employees out on our family farm. And those people also came into town to help take care of the children in the house and the yard. And then the other stories are about my challenges of finding my voice

[Carla]  And all the stories are interesting because they have this arc of the challenges and mistakes you faced and then what you learned out of it, which a lot of people can relate to. I find them very captivating. So what was your inspiration to write this personal memoir?

[Mary]  Well, after founding Women Healing the World and one of our missions is to heal race relations, I thought, how can I do that? And I couldn't really come up with a good answer. So I decided that I would write a blog for the web page, uh, making, having a tribute to all the people close to me, who helped to raise me and how fond I was of them. And just funny little stories about encounters that we had while we were together.

[Carla]  So how would you say this book relates to the mission of Women Healing the World?

[Mary]  I think that it brings up emotions and memories for people, especially for women who are around my age, that were raised during this time, to think about things that happened in their lives that they might want to heal, that they might not have healed in the past. And to make apologies where needed and necessary, or to at least embrace what happened and look at it for what it is, if it was a positive or a negative. And if it was positive to be grateful for it. And if it was not such a pleasant experience, maybe do something you change that thought, perception, or that action by taking an action yourself and turn it into a positive.

[Carla]  And that's a big theme in your book is forgiveness, not only of other people but of yourself. And that's probably the most important thing we're all here to do. And one of the hardest things to do and the power of stories. And when I say mine stories, that's one of the most powerful things they can do is to, is to affect that kind of healing. So what's been your experience of, of reading stories, writing stories, in terms of your own process of personal growth?

[Mary]  Well, I find when I either read a story or write a story, if I set aside the time and have the capacity to really be in that moment, to take myself back in time and to get in touch with the feeling that I was feeling at that time. Like there was a fella who made a slingshot for me. He cut the tongue out of his shoe in order to make the slingshot and carved out a piece of wood. And just the gratitude for him and for his doing that for me. He was one of the yard men, you know? And there were things that I never expressed and I wasn't really allowed to show my true emotions to these people most of the time. But just how grateful I am to all the people who helped raise me and the things that they did and the support that gave me and the love that I felt.

[Mary]  I think it was really important for me as a child to feel all that love from all those different people and all the attention I got. I mean, I look back and think, wow, you had tons of people paying attention to you and really showing that they loved you and they were all employees of your family.

[Mary]  I, I do regret that I didn't express my gratitude to them more. And so that was one of the reasons for wanting to write a tribute to them and, and posted on the blog page so that people could see it, or write a story in a book, to put the energy out there of my appreciation for them.

[Carla]  Yeah. And what I love about your stories is that you're really vulnerable and honest with like mistakes you made and how you learned from them. And you know, a lot of authors don't do that and it's really helpful as a reader to grow personally from that. So give us an example, like of a mistake that you made that you write about in the book and what you learned from it.

[Mary]  A young man came over to visit his grandmother who was spending the weekend at our house and he was in from California. And at that time we had an outhouse that all of the help was expected to use. And this gentleman who came to visit his grandmother used the restroom in our house and I knew that that was not the appropriate thing to do. So being the youngest of four children, I was very accustomed to tattling on older people. So I immediately ran upstairs and told my dad, not thinking of the consequences of tattling in this particular incident. And my father was furious and went down and told the young man to leave. So after he left, I felt terrible. I felt terrible that he had to leave, that he come to see his grandmother. I felt terrible for his grandmother. Um, I just really felt bad about my behavior causing such consequences that I hadn't thought through.

[Carla]  And you decided to contact him, like he's getting in his 70s or 80s now, right? Then you contacted him,

[Mary]  Right. as I was writing that story, it really brought up a lot of emotion for me. And I decided, you know what, what can I do about this? And I started wondering if he was still alive. So I started asking around and found the telephone number for his sister who gave me his telephone number and I called and apologized. So healing. And I had no idea how much that had impacted me until after he forgave me and I hung up the phone and I felt like I could take a huge breath that I hadn't been able to ever take, just like the way that the world had been lifted from me. And like all the cells in my body were excited and relieved and juicy. It was an amazing experience.

[Carla]  Yeah, I, I've had that experience too, things you don't even realize. They're deep in your subconscious that are a big weight on you. And then when you resolve it, it's just like your whole life force opens up again. And didn't you say he, then he had moved to California, but he's now moved back there, right?

[Mary]  Yes. He's now moved back to our hometown and we've gone to breakfast and lunch a couple times and we talk about the good old days. It's really nice to, you know, to have him here now and to be able to visit with him.

[Carla]  And I imagine it was healing for him to hear that from you.

[Mary]  You know when I called him I was really nervous because I didn't know if he would yell at me, or if he didn't want to talk to me, you know? I had no idea how he would react to this, but he was so kind and so forgiving and said that's just the way it was in those days, you know, that was expected that, that's just the way it was and and he fully accepted my apology. I still can't understand how people of color could have been treated the way they were and still continued to be kind back to the people who employed them or who they encountered.

[Carla]  Yeah. Yeah. You have a lot of amazing examples of, of those people who helped to raise you.

[Mary]  I realized in writing, writing some of these stories about my relationships with males, and how I had such a difficult time standing up to males, and realizing that I was given lessons and my lessons were becoming more and more intense. So when I had my, but I hope was my last lesson, I felt like I was compelled to take action that I didn't really want to take, but that it was an action that was necessary in that if I didn't take it, I would not be standing up for myself. And my next lesson would be even more severe. I believe we're here on earth learning lots of things about ourselves, about others. And if you don't get it, you keep getting the same lesson over and over again until it gets your attention to deal with it.

[Mary]  So this was about an incident with an oil company and with some male relatives. I've felt like taking advantage of me and selling water that not did not belong to them, to an oil company. And the oil company, I realized the oil companies, not only in the state of Texas, but uh across the US really have an advantage as far as dealing with the public. The oil company always wins. So I didn't win against the oil company, but I did make a statement. They did not exactly do what I wanted them to do, but they did make an offer, not a offer that I was willing to take, but at least they, in my opinion, recognized that they had made a mistake. That they had done something that they should not have done. So you'll have to buy the book and read.

[Carla]  Because the name of your book is Just Stand There and Look Pretty, Darlin', and this was about you not wanting to play that role anymore. How was it for you in that situation to not just stand there but to actually say something

[Mary]  It was uncomfortable. It's very uncomfortable and had a couple of incidences that had happened with my dad or my brother or guys who had been in relationship with not standing up for myself. It was not something that I was raised to do. I was supposed to Stand There and Look Pretty. I did realize, when I became a single parent, that I needed to know my own business. I did not want to, you know, abdicate my power to my brother or my dad. If something happened to them I wouldn't know anything about property that I owned, if I was making money, losing money, what, you know, what I needed to do. So just taking control of my own finances, finding out answers to questions I had about property. I owned that in the past I had abdicated to my brother. It was difficult because unfortunately, he felt like I didn't trust him. It wasn't about him. None of this is about the other people. All the stories are really about me and what I learned, what I learned from being involved with different people.

[Carla]  And that's what I love about how you tell the stories is that there's people in situations that come into our lives. They're challenging. But like you say, in the end, it's like, how you choose to respond to it. And maybe, the first time around, you didn't respond the best way, but then eventually you learn, right? That's part of the joy of being an elder in the world is you got your wisdom.

[Mary]  I did approach the parties involved on six different occasions, or I should say like nine occasions, three phones, three, three in person visits and six telephone calls and nothing ever happened and so then I had to get an attorney involved. It was not something I wanted to do, I was very reluctant in doing it, but once it was done, once again, I felt proud of myself that I had stood up and taken action. Even though it was action I didn't want to take. I knew it was what I needed to do for myself to stand up, not stand there and look pretty.

[Carla]  Right, and then your self image changes and you see that, you know, you can survive, those kinds of things and I think that's what builds the courage to keep doing it moving forward. Did you find that that after that you weren't as intimidated or willing to be walked over?

[Mary]  Right, exactly. I do. I do feel much more empowered then I did. One of the reasons I wanted to write this book was to encourage other women to stand up, because I know there are lots other women who are struggling like I did, because we're trained not to make waves. So it's very difficult to take a different path. Let's take a different direction than what you're trained to do.

[Carla]  And that again is the power of stories. If you hear somebody else who's like you that's done it and you see that they've prevailed on the other side and how great they feel on the other side, it gives you like a vision, a light at the end of the tunnel to go for instead of, most of us are focused on the obstacles,

[Mary]  Right. Yeah. I had to get, I had to get past the, the obstacle. I know that it was about the lesson and I wanted to learn the lesson.

[Carla]  Yeah, that's really huge. And, and you have two daughters too, so I would imagine, in a way, you're kind of doing it for them too. Right?

[Mary]  Right. You know, before I called an attorney we had a family meeting and discussed the different options, and they agreed they wanted me to go ahead and take legal action because they knew that it would end up being there less if that, if I didn't take that action. And I think they're really proud that I did. They knew it was hard. They knew it'd be difficult, um, possibly for all of us because there were family members involved. And a lot of times, you know, even if you were doing the right thing or what, what I consider being the right thing, uh, other family members may not feel the same way and made me angry and upset with you. But that was a risk that I felt like it I had to take.

[Carla]  Yeah. So do you have any technique or tool that you could share with our listeners that maybe you talk about in the book you have found to be very helpful in your life?

[Mary]  One thing. I go back and think about my first really spiritual teacher who told me that every event, whether I think it's the other person's fault or not, I have a part in and I need to look at my part. What, what am I doing in this situation? So I always try to learn from things that feel uncomfortable when when they feel uncomfortable, there's something in it for me and I need to look at it and see my part and try and deal with it. The other thing that she also taught me was using the Ho’oponopono Prayer for forgiveness of myself, the situation and other people. And I find that using that prayer is just magical.

[Carla]  Yeah, it is very magical. And people actually can get a free copy of that if they go to your website, right? Which is

[Mary]  Correct? Yes, they can.

[Carla]  Yeah. So go to and you'll get it as a free download and you can just read it out. I, I got that from you and I've done it on, you know, people that I haven't even thought about in decades, but there they are still affecting me subconsciously. I just actually did one too, like a teacher I had in college who, who kicked me out of college actually. I, and I hated her for years. Yeah. It felt really undermined by her. And I just did that forgiveness process that you have on your site around her and I, and I just, yeah, like you talked about with, with uh, the fellow from California. I just felt this freedom, you know, like I don't need to hold on to that decades later.

[Carla]  Right. It's just useless. Right. But you don't realize. And so the prayer helps it released from the subconscious, right?

[Mary]  Yes, it does. It does. And it's, so, you know, I'd spent years in counseling, so I'd spent lots of hours and lots of money and then using the Ho’oponopono Prayer was just like magic. I mean, and I could read it over and over again till the feeling was gone. And then when I encountered the people who I was using the process on the next time it was, you know, completely different being around them.

[Carla]  Yeah. I, and that's one of your stories actually, is how you and your husband had split up and there was lots of contention between you and then you started doing the prayer and then he changed. I thought that was like amazing. Can you say a few words about that?

[Mary]  Yes. I, you know, I like, I don't really know how it works or why it works. Anyway, I was given the prayer. I did not want to do it. I did not want, forgive him. I didn't think he needed to be forgiven. I thought he was a jerk. You know, all the negative things that I could think and say, and my teacher said, just read it. Every time you're feeling any angst, I want you to just read this prayer until those feelings go away. And so I reluctantly took the prayer and when I started feeling really angry at him, I would start reading the prayer and I would read it over and over again until I could feel my tension, the tension releasing in my body going away. So I knew that it was working on me and she had said to me, you know, he doesn't know that you're angry. He doesn't care that you're angry. So who are you hurting? You're only hurting yourself if you don't forgive him. So I came to be aware of, especially how my body felt when I was angry at him. So reading this prayer, I could feel all that anger just dissolving and I knew that it was good for me just by my physical reaction.

[Carla]  He noticed you were different, so he different and then he wanted to start using the prayer too, right?

[Mary]  Yes. It's kind of like they say in 12 step programs. It was, it was a, an attraction. He was attracted to, uh, the way I was behaving. So he started going to the same spiritual teacher and started attending her classes and he even brought his fiance, which I had no reaction to. It was absolutely amazing. Absolutely amazing.

[Carla]  Yeah. And you have so many stories around that, like people being shocked in that class to discover that you were previously married cause you didn't act, uh, all angry at each other.

[Mary]  Right, one of our classmates heard us talking about father, my daughter's picking them up for the weekend and she was shocked to know that we had been married because she said, you know, normally when there are people who have been divorced, you can feel tension between them in the room. But there was none of that between us. And I think it's because I had been using the prayer and then he started using the prayer also. So it was great.

[Carla]  Yeah. And so nice for your daughters in the whole family to not have to pick sides and to have this nice energy between you. Cause I know I didn't have that in my family. My parents stayed angry at each other till the day they both died. So...

[Mary]  That's a shame.

[Carla]  It is a shame. Yeah. But you created a different game to play, which is so powerful.

[Mary]  I look back on it now and I remember somebody talking with me early on on my spiritual journey about new paradigms, setting a different paradigm. And when I look back on that situation, I feel like we were setting a new paradigm. I know we were not the only couple in the world doing the same thing, but a lot of times families did choose sides and friends chose sides. And our goal was for that not to happen, for us to have the type of relationship where we could be friendly towards one another. We may not agree on things still, but where we could be kind to one another and understand one another, accept each other as we were. And to set a good example for other people. It was really funny to me. Um, years later I had remarried and so my ex-husband and my current husband were both going to be sitting at the Christmas table for lunch. And my stepmother, even at that time, which was years later, said that she was going to put both of these gentlemen on the same side of the table so they didn't have to look at each other. Unbeknownst to her, the two of them had been on the phone all week trying to figure out a computer for her. So, uh, I just thought that was humorous that she's still back there in the dark ages as far as I was concerned about choosing sides. And, and these two guys were working for her highest good to get her the best computer they could.

[Carla]  Ah, that's amazing.

[Mary]  She was amazing.

[Carla]  And I imagine that's going to have it the ripple effect through the generations, right?

[Mary]  So, yes, I think so.

[Carla]  Yeah. Well this has been fascinating and so you definitely have to get the book, you'll see in the show notes That's where you can get the forgiveness prayer and you can also, you'll see the link to how to get the book Stand There and Look Pretty Darlin'. It's a quick read, but it's full of really interesting stories that will get you laughing and crying. So check it out. So thank you, Mary Sue for being here today. Any last parting words you want to share?

[Mary]  Nope. Just thank you for the interview. I appreciate it, and I hope that you can go enjoy the things I've shared and learn. Learn something from what I've written.

[Carla]  Yeah, I certainly have. So checking out. Okay. Bye for now.

[Mary]  Thank you.

[Carla]  So thank you for listening. Feel free to rate this podcast on iTunes. Until next time. I'm Carla Rieger.

Stand There and Look Pretty, Darlin'

Get your free download of the Forgiveness Prayer.

Mind Story Speaker

MindStory Speaker

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The MindStory podcast, hosted by Carla Rieger, is about how to use stories for personal and professional growth. After food, air, and water, people most crave stories. They are a form of consciousness hacking that can program people for better or worse depending on how you use them. Whether you want to improve your "inner stories" or the stories you use in business, this is for you. 

Each episode brings you examples of intriguing stories that open hearts and minds, the neuroscience of stories, how they affect us subconsciously, and how to use them with integrity, power, and purpose. You’ll hear from the brightest storytellers, speakers, neuroscience experts, marketers, and narrative therapists…about how to use stories to create a better life for yourself and others. 

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About the Author

Mary Rabe is the Founder and Director of Women Healing the World -- a creative community of women who want to make a difference for other women in our communities.

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