Barnacles or Oars?

Barnacles or Oars? That seems like a funny question don’t you think? First off, it is finally up to 36 degrees here in Tennessee, so who in the world would be thinking about water anyway. The only water I thought about today was ice and snow as I watched it melt.  I would bet you think question should have been gas or electric… heat that is! Heat is indeed an issue for most of us right now, but oddly enough so is barnacles or oars. As a matter of fact, barnacles or oars should be a question for all of us all of them time. I can hear you now, “Ok, Cindy, what is the point here?”  As you probably already know from reading my ‘about’ section, I work as a School Counselor, in that work I find myself asking my students questions like this.  I frequently use examples and images to help the students relate to what we are talking about, but also to give them a visual image for later.  Barnacles and oars provides a visualization regarding the individuals in our life.

Social Influences

I have always been struck with the social influences that individuals often select in their lives.  It is important to surround ourselves with people who want the best for us and who are willing to work to help us get there, or at least, at a minimum support our efforts to move towards better.  But then there are those individuals who don’t help us move forward, who don’t encourage us or support us, but in fact, who usually make efforts to pull us back to where we were.  It is my belief, that sometimes people don’t want you to do better.  That there are people who want you to fail.  I think sometimes it makes them feel better.

Making Positive Changes

I know that sounds like a crazy thought, but follow me here. Remember, a couple of weeks ago when we talked about Forward Momentum, you can read more about that here. Have you ever tried to implement something new in your life?   Maybe you wanted to quit drinking alcohol, quit smoking, lose weight, go to church, start working out, control your shopping and spending habits, read more, or go back to school.  Often times, when people try to implement life altering changes they hope for the support of those around them.  But you see, your friends didn’t want to make the change – you did.  “Yes, Cindy, I understand, but they are my friends, they will support me.”  Yeah, I hear you, but I would challenge you to understand that there is a difference between a friend and someone you do things with.  And sometimes, those people you do things with, well, they want to keep doing those things that you are trying to walk away from. 


Have you ever spent any time thinking about the influences in your life?  Who is a part of your life and why have you selected those individuals to participate in your life?  So many times, we have great people surrounding our lives, but sometimes we surround ourselves with people that are not encouraging us, supporting us, and helping us to move forward in our lives.  I am not suggesting you remove everyone from your life, rather that you think about who is in your life and why?  And who’s life are you in, and what do you offer them?  

So, Barnacles or Oars?

So, sometimes, you may find that you have to handle that friendship in a new way.  Will you have to walk away?  Maybe, sometimes you do.  Other times you simply need a new awareness and someone to support you in your choices.  It is not easy to implement change in your life, and sometimes you need help.  I know I do. I am so beyond thankful for the times in my life when friends stood beside me and helped motivate me to do better.  I also remember times that I felt I stood alone. I later learned I was not alone, but it was a life lesson.  So, the question I ask my students when we talk about social influences is this:  Barnacles or Oars?  If you were in a canoe trying to cross a lake would you prefer barnacles, something that attaches itself to you but offers you nothing?  Or would prefer oars, something that helps to propel you towards your goal?  As for me, I have had plenty of barnacles in my life, I’m in the market for oars.  I don’t believe you can have too many oars in your life.  Go find some more oars in your life, we all need more oars!

Published by Dr. Cindy Freer Conley

Hello Friends! I am Dr. Cindy Freer Conley, and I am so glad you are here! It is so nice to "meet" you. I am entering the world of blogging for the first time, I hope you find these readings worthwhile, helpful and entertaining. I have spent my career in one role or another of the mental health and counseling world. I have worked in private practice and in schools settings. I hold a PhD in Exceptional Education with a concentration in Applied Behavior Analysis. I currently work in public education full time and adjunct part-time. I am a wife and the mother of three adult children and the grandmother of one young lady who is growing up way too fast. I didn't have all of the answers as a mother, although my kids would probably tell you I faked it often (I did). I don't have all of the answers now, but I do know so much more now than I did 27 years ago when I became a parent. I was a single mother for several years, and learned a lot about the unique struggles single parents face. I have spent time with great supports and time where I felt alone on my path - only to look up and realize I was never alone. We are all on a journey, enjoy the journey, but understand small changes on your part may make lasting impacts to someone else's journey.

6 thoughts on “Barnacles or Oars?

  1. Cindy, I have read and enjoyed several of your posts and your bio. I love the “kaleidoscope” photos. it’s been ten years since I retired from teaching. I am working on my bucket list and enjoy writing poetry. Hope you enjoy blogging. WordPress is a very friendly, supportive community. All the best!


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