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The Queen of My Self

The Queen of My Self

The Queen of Excuses

posted by Donna Henes

By Carol Nissenbaum

My favorite episode of The Twilight Zone featured Burgess Meredith as a man who longed to read all the books in the world, but didn’t have the time. I was young and don’t remember the whole thing, but the upshot of the story was that the world came to an end and the man was left all alone with every book in the world. Thus he got his wish, but the episode ended with his reading glasses suddenly shattering. The irony of this ending had a great impact on me, even to this day.

I’m the queen of excuses (although I’m also frequently referred to as “Captain Sarcasm” at home). The clutter in my house is epic, but if I didn’t have to work it would be gone. My body is out of shape and I never exercise; if I didn’t have to work I’d be a workout fool. I have 36 unread books waiting for me on my Kindle; if I didn’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn I’d have read them all. The laundry in my house is out of control; the clothes might actually get hung up in the closet instead of being snatched from the “clean” basket if I didn’t have to work, etc. All I need is some time. Time is all I need. I work full-time; I wake up at 6:00 each morning. No time.

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Well, be careful what you wish for and all that. Due to an unfortunate reorganization at my former company, my job was recently outsourced and I was laid off (on April Fools’ Day, no less) with a nice severance package. I now find myself with that most precious of gifts: time. Time off. Unallotted, unscheduled time. I can sleep as late as I want. I can exercise, eat properly, and get in shape for summer. I can eliminate all the laundry piled up, maybe even iron occasionally (yeah right). I can plant the beautiful garden I’ve long imagined, instead of impatiently waiting for the landscaper to plant impatiens again. I can sit on my porch in the beautiful weather and read as much as I want. Yup, I can do it all. Or can I?

Much like Burgess Meredith in The Twilight Zone, everything I thought I wanted has suddenly landed in my lap. And much like him, I am unable to take advantage of the opportunity. It’s not a pair of broken glasses that has me paralyzed, it’s that I’ve suddenly lost the crutch I’ve leaned on for so long. I have no excuse anymore for why my house is still a mess. I have no excuse for why I’ve only walked the dog once. No excuse for why the laundry is still piled up (although I swear the socks get together and multiply at night). This “free time” thing is not working out at all as I had planned and I HAVE NO EXCUSE.

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The interior of my house needs a paint job desperately. The carpet, once off-white, is now just off in several spots. My dog occasionally throws up, as some dogs do, and she always chooses the carpet to unload, and never in the same spot twice. So it is stained and threadbare, and woefully in need of replacement. We planned to finish the hardwood floors beneath it and get a paint job “eventually.” Well, eventually has arrived and I’ve yet to even make a phone call or get a single estimate, although I have complained about its condition for years.

Yesterday was a picture-perfect day for planting the summer-flowering bulbs and multicolored pansies I envisioned in my garden. Only problem is, those plants are still waiting at a nursery because I haven’t even bought them yet. It’s as if inertia has taken hold of me and made it impossible for me to move forward. I blamed it on the weather last week, as it was depressingly gray and dreary. But warm, sunny days are forecast and I doubt that sunshine will suddenly give me the motivation to get off the couch.

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So, what’s ahead? I’m not sure, and that’s where the problem lies. I hope I can take control of this gift of unscheduled, uncommitted time before it slips away. I couldn’t wait to break free of my foam-walled cubicle, which made me feel like a rat in a maze, but without its confines I truly don’t know what my next move should be. I feel like a victim of identity theft without my full-time job. It’s only been a little over a week, a period which will be remembered forever as “Wallow Week” by my family. I hope I can turn this time into something exciting; this is a chance to reinvent myself, which is at once exhilarating and terrifying (mostly terrifying). Maybe I should get a spare pair of glasses?
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Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™

The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

 

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Mining For Meaning

posted by Donna Henes

The shamanic assumption from which I operate is that every person has her own significant mission in this lifetime: her own path, her own dreams, her own symbols and sensibilities, her own visions and designs, her own way of learning, her own personalized hard-won lessons. That we each have our own singular life to live. That every one of us must figure out for ourselves the fullest, richest, most effective, ethical and satisfying way in which to do it; and moreover, that each and every one of us possesses the wisdom, the power and the responsibility to make it so.

Easy enough said. But so many folks feel awash, helpless and worse — hopeless — floating from one thing to the next without a plan or sense of meaning. How often people come to me saying “I feel like there must be a deeper purpose to life than just working… I must be here on this planet to do something special, but for the life of me I don’t know what that is…I don’t have a clue… I keep thinking that by this time in my life I should know what my true path is… I am at a loss… What can I do?”

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There is only one thing to do and that is to dig deep down into ourselves to find out what makes us tick, what tickles our fancy and what touches our soul. We can only discover our own truth by paying close attention to the promptings of our inner selves and to our honest reactions to the external energies that surround us. It is ultimately up to us whether we succumb to an unexamined life or try to figure out what the hell is going on inside us and around us, and to engage in it, alter, change, and grow with it, so that we might fulfill our greatest destiny and dreams.

We can encourage our inner voice by listening to it. For this we need to concentrate, turn off the static of our hectic daily lives and tune in to the subtlety of spirit speaking on subconscious sound waves. And most important, we need to be open and willing to hear the message. I once consulted my spirit guide, Kanin, by means of a ouji board and asked her if it was she who I hear singing in my ears when a new chant comes to me. She allowed that it was, and then she chastised me. She told me that I needed to do more automatic writing because I was sometimes so hard to get hold of!!

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Perhaps it isn’t always clear or conscious, but somewhere deep down inside of us, in the very core of our being, we do know our authentic path. We know what we want and what we need; what feeds us, and what defeats us. We know our life’s purpose. It is just a matter of paying attention. We know what’s right, because it feelsright. By listening to our inner voice, we discover our true intentions and direction. And when it feels wrong, we really know it.

Our lessons, and our understanding of them, are often not immediately available or obvious to us. They come encoded in signs and symbols that seem like a foreign language. But, no matter how difficult, it is up to us to access them — if we dare. If we care to earn our sovereignty and walk our destined path, we must excavate the buried treasure of our own value and infinite worth.

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By keeping track of the circumstances and situations of our lives and our own conscious and unconscious responses to them, we can plot our course, chart our progress, project our aspirations, alter our habits, adjust our attitudes, and plan our actions.

I call this practice, “Noting the Process of Noting the Process.” I use the term “practice” advisedly. Practice implies focus, attention, concentration and discipline. But the mental effort and dedication required, is well rewarded by the Self-knowledge that we stand to gain.

The word “practice” also serves to remind us that there is no perfect. Whether we maintain a spiritual practice, a creative practice or a professional practice, we are always in the process of learning, adapting, accommodating, growing and changing. The only end comes when we die. In the meantime, all we have is the means, the very process of living, itself, the path that we follow. We try, we move forward, we trip, we fall behind, we start again and eventually we become, while not perfect, perhaps, perfectly in line with our life’s purpose.

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Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™

The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

 

 

 

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Life Begins at 42

posted by Donna Henes

Saint Hildegard’s Guide to Becoming a Midlife Powerfrau
By Mary Sharratt

We live in a youth-obsessed culture. The cosmetic industry pushes wrinkle creams and hair dye on us while celebrities resort to Botox and surgery to preserve an illusion of eternal girlhood. We live longer than ever before, yet advancing age, once a mark of honour, has become a source of shame.

But what happens when women embrace midlife as an inner awakening and call to power?

One such woman was Saint Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179), powerfrau and late bloomer par excellence.

Her youth was dire. Offered to the Church at the age of eight, she was entombed in an anchorage. Though she had been haunted by luminous visions since earliest childhood, she didn’t dare speak of them. Her entire existence was bent on silent submission to her superior, Jutta von Sponheim, an ascetic whose regime of fasting and mortification of the flesh eventually killed her.

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Only after Jutta’s demise could Hildegard step out of the shadows and carve out a spiritual life based not on suffering but on celebrating life in all its burgeoning green beauty. Even so she might have remained obscure, lost to history.

But when she was forty-two, everything changed. “When I was forty-two years and seven months old,” she wrote, “Heaven was opened and a fiery light of exceeding brilliance came and permeated my whole brain, and inflamed my whole heart and my whole breast, not like a burning but like a warming flame, as the sun warms anything its rays touch.”

Dazzling visionary experiences descended upon Hildegard, along with the divine summons to write and speak of her revelations. Reluctantly at first she embarked on her first book of theology, Scivias, or Know the Ways. After putting quill to parchment, she could never go back.

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Hildegard went on to found two monasteries, go on four preaching tours, compose an entire corpus of sacred music, and write nine books on subjects as diverse as cosmology, botany, medicine, and human sexuality, thus leaving her indelible mark on history.

Most of us believe we live in a more enlightened age than Hildegard’s—after all, children are no longer offered as tithes to monasteries. Yet many young women find themselves in modern and secular forms of servitude—dead end relationships, soul-crippling jobs, credit card debt, a life of junk food and junk television—all the sadness and waste of an unexamined life.

We don’t need to be visionaries to break free. We just need to remember who we are, that we all serve some higher purpose. Each of us has our own unique gift to give the world.

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In youth, it’s easy to be beguiled by the glamour of the surface of things—if we get the right job, the right partner, the right clothes we’ll be happy forever.

But in midlife we are gifted with the maturity to see through the false scripts consumer society hands to us. After a certain age we can see just how absurd it is to kill ourselves to emulate airbrushed supermodels. We realize that the greatest lover in the world can’t fulfill us until we are at peace with ourselves. And so we can let ourselves go. Paint the pictures we’ve always longed to paint. Learn French and travel the world. Dance under the stars. Play the saxophone. Offer our own song to the vast symphony of life.

Remember, it’s never too early or too late to embrace your inner powerfrau.

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Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™

The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

 

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De Sancta Maria

posted by Donna Henes

Hail to you, O greenest, most fertile branch!
You budded forth amidst breezes and winds
in search of the knowledge of all that is holy.
When the time was ripe
your own branch brought forth blossoms.
Hail greetings to you!
The heat of the sun exudes sweat from you
like the balsam’s perfume.
In you, the most stunning flower has blossomed
and gives off its sweet odor to all the herbs and roots,
which were dry and thirsting before your arrival.
Because of you, the heavens give dew to the grass,
the whole Earth rejoices;
abundance of grain comes from Earth’s womb
and on its stalks and branches birds nest.
And, because of you, nourishment is given the human family
and great rejoicing to those gathered around the table.
And so, in you O gentle Virgin,
is every fullness of joy, everything that Eve rejected.
Now let endless praise resound to the Most High!

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–Hildegard of Bingen
11th Century German Mystic

* ***
Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™

The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

 

Previous Posts

The Queen of Excuses
By Carol Nissenbaum My favorite episode of The Twilight Zone featured Burgess Meredith as a man who longed to read all the books in the world, but didn’t have the time. I was young and don’t remember the whole thing, but the upshot of the story was that the world came to an end and the man wa

posted 6:00:52am Apr. 01, 2015 | read full post »

Mining For Meaning
The shamanic assumption from which I operate is that every person has her own significant mission in this lifetime: her own path, her own dreams, her own symbols and sensibilities, her own visions and designs, her own way of learning, her own personalized hard-won lessons. That we each have our own

posted 6:00:56am Mar. 30, 2015 | read full post »

Life Begins at 42
Saint Hildegard’s Guide to Becoming a Midlife Powerfrau By Mary Sharratt We live in a youth-obsessed culture. The cosmetic industry pushes wrinkle creams and hair dye on us while celebrities resort to Botox and surgery to preserve an illusion of eternal girlhood. We live longer than ever befo

posted 6:00:00am Mar. 27, 2015 | read full post »

De Sancta Maria
Hail to you, O greenest, most fertile branch! You budded forth amidst breezes and winds in search of the knowledge of all that is holy. When the time was ripe your own branch brought forth blossoms. Hail greetings to you! The heat of the sun exudes sweat from you like the balsam’s perfume.

posted 6:00:55am Mar. 25, 2015 | read full post »

Nature, Our Mother
In the beginning, there was woman. And she was versatile. She breathed, she stretched, she strode, she sat, she foraged, she trapped, she planted, she cooked, she ate, she bled, she danced, she laughed, she slept, she dreamed, she played, she prayed. She made art, she made ceremonies, she made love,

posted 6:00:25am Mar. 23, 2015 | read full post »

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