Beliefnet
The Queen of My Self

Despite the rude awakenings, the unsettling physical and emotional chaos of midlife and all of its frightful, presumed ramifications, an amazing number of women find this stage to be the most personally fulfilling and satisfying of their lives so far.

A recent Gallup survey of women aged fifty to sixty-five revealed that fifty-one percent of them feel happier now than they have ever before. This compares to only ten percent who thought the happiest times in their lives were their twenties, seventeen percent who were happiest in their thirties, and sixteen percent who liked their forties best.

Just what are we to make of this apparent feeling among so many women that we believe ourselves to be better off once we have lost possession of the very characteristics and trappings that society seems to value most in us — our sexual allure and childbearing capabilities?

We have lost our youthful looks and stamina. We have lost some vision, some hearing, some memory. We have lost the pigment in our hair and the elasticity in our skin. We are also losing our battle against gravity and the advancement of time.

We have lost the children we raised and we have lost our chance to have the children that we didn’t have. We also stand to lose our parents, our old friends, our spouses. We are in danger of losing our time left on the job, our visibility and our very lives.

So how does it compute that even while we are mired in loss, we have never been happier?

The Queen takes up the challenge of change, and with Her eyes wide open She engages in the daunting process of learning who She is now and who She chooses to become. It is important to Her to know that Her thoughts and feelings count, that Her work and interests are meaningful and that She, Herself, matters. Her growing Self-confidence propels Her to reach for and attain Her own authentic personal power.

We have come a long way and it has been quite a journey. We have dreamed the dream and done the work and walked the long, long highway. We have struggled to discover, comfort, cosset, encourage and change our Selves. Now, finally, gloriously, joyfully, we have arrived at our destination. The station of our authentic sovereignty. And don’t it feel grand?

                                 

You know what?

                                    I like myself.

                                    I trust myself.

                                    I know myself.

                                    I know what I want.

                                    I know what I need.

                                    I know what I have.

                                    I know what I know.

                                    I mean well.

                                    I try hard.

                                    I do good.

                                    I help.

                                    I heal.

                                    I hear.

                                    I love.

                                    I feel.

                                    I fall down.

                                    I stand up.

                                    I strive.

                                    I survive.

                                    I flourish.

                                    I thrive.

 

© Donna Henes

* ***
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.

 

 

 

by Joan Chittister

In my mind is the memory of one lone Chinese student who, rising from the midst of the protesters in Tiananmen Square, stood in front of a moving tank whose orders were to sweep the square empty of anyone who dared to remain there once ordered to leave. The boy stood, head bowed, shoulders straight, feet planted squarely on the pavement. It was one unarmed boy against a Chinese tank. Suddenly, the tank stopped moving.

The power of the spirit had never been more clear than in the face-off between the tank and the thin young man. All the power in the world could not make the young man move, could not destroy his strength of spirit, could not break his resolve. Nor could it move the driver of the tank to an act of public barbarism in the name of public order.

“Peace hath her victories,” Milton wrote, “no less renowned than war.” All the weapons in the world, in other words, were, in the end, for nothing.

Peace is such a powerful presence.

A commitment to peace, to being peaceful, to peacefulness draws from a very deep well. It is a source beyond the corruptions of either ambition or pride. It transcends addiction to either power or personality cults.

And how does peace come? Simple. By accepting who we are and what we have as enough for us. By recognizing and respecting who the other is and what they have as theirs. By finding within ourselves “the pearl of great price,” the richest thing there is in life, the sense of the presence of God who loves and companions us through all the pressures of life.

Then we find that we have changed. We have become peaceful. We have come to realize that we have all we need. We begin to see that our own role in life is only to spread the peace we have.

Then we begin to dedicate ourselves to that highest possible level of humanity that not only does good but, most of all, does no harm. To do no harm requires real care, genuine compassion, true realization that the glow of the other diminishes no glow of my own.

So we say an alleluia for the coming of peace, for the death of ambition, for the passing of pride that enables us to be happy with who we are and what we have.

 

* ***
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.

 

 

 

 

By Rev. Kelly Thibeault

After a summer of waiting, the time has finally come. It is finished. After almost 24 years of childrearing, our nest is now empty. Our son, our youngest child, headed off to college in Nebraska a few weeks ago.

I’ve done a lot of thinking this summer, reminiscing over the past 24 years. I remember how nervous I was when my oldest climbed onto the school bus for the first time to head to Thacher Elementary School. I remember following the bus all the way there, just to make sure that she made it safely.

Over the years, I’ve filled out hundreds of school forms and permission slips. I’ve packed over 6,000 lunches and chaperoned countless field trips. I’ve served on parent boards and committees and volunteered to help out wherever I could.

I’ve attended innumerable soccer, softball, baseball, football and wrestling practices, games and matches. I have driven to more chorus, band and theater rehearsals than I can remember. And through it all, I have beamed with pride at each accomplishment that my kids have achieved.

I’m not going to say that it was always easy. I found myself exhausted a lot of the time, and I prayed a lot. There were countless evenings consoling my kids when they couldn’t understand their math homework (which I usually couldn’t understand, either) or that they worried over upcoming tests. It was those nights that I asked God to comfort and guide them.

There were those frustrating mornings when they woke up to tell me that they were supposed to have a three-ringed binder or a red folder or snack to share with their class. Those were the days that I prayed for patience and understanding.

There were those mornings that no one wanted to wake up and I had to drag the kids out of bed, feed them, and get them to the bus. Those were the days that I prayed for their bus drivers and teachers, and thanked God that I didn’t have to do it alone.

But there were also those days when they would come home excited to show me a good grade they got, or to show me something they made or to share a story with me about something wonderful that happened them that day. Those where the days that all I could do was thank God for the amazing gifts that I had been given.

Not only have I reminisced a lot this summer, but I’ve done a lot of thinking about this “empty-nest syndrome,” as they call it. I’ve talked to lots of parents about what they are facing and the feelings and emotions that come with it. Of course, there is a feeling of sadness and loss, because life is changing. But life always changes; it has to.

We tend to struggle with change because we like things to stay the same. We are comfortable with the way we have always done things even when the tasks are challenging. But the truth is, life is always changing, and we like are kids are always changing and growing too.

Of course I’ll continue to pray for my kids as they work to find their way in the world. I’ll listen to their stories when they call home and I’ll continue to celebrate their accomplishments, allowing them to take care of themselves now.

That’s not to say that I won’t have a day now and then that I’ll miss making their lunches or tripping over their shoes in the kitchen, but those are the days that I’ll pray for those tired moms and dads out there in the middle of it all, and I’ll thank God for the memories that I have to treasure.

For 24 years I put all my energies into raising my kids; teaching them about life, faith and how to love their neighbor as themselves. Because of what they experienced and learned, they now have the courage to step out on their own. They are doing what they are supposed to do. This is the goal that we have worked for all these years.

As parents, this is what we worked for. We tried to create good, caring people who strive to make the world a better place. They are now on their own at college, making their own choices (hopefully good ones) and improving themselves. Our main task as parents has been accomplished. I hope other parents can, like we do, find comfort in these words from the book of Matthew … “well done you good and faithful servants.”

Of course, our kids know that my husband and I are always here if they need us, but this is their time to soar.

* ***
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.

 

 

By Edward Helmore

In the years since Cathi Hanauer’s bestselling anthology of life stories, the women she spoke to have new goals

In 2002, Cathi Hanauer published The Bitch in the House, a bestselling compilation of 26 life stories by women who felt they were carrying a disproportionate load in the home and in their lives.

They were angry and disillusioned, sexually unfulfilled, financially over-burdened, their menfolk were lazy and unappreciative, and their children messy – and that was just the start.

 

Fourteen years on, Hanauer reports, this same generation of women, now in their 40s and 50s, are happier. The children have left, husbands have been sidelined in many cases, and they are now free to redefine themselves in new and decidedly post-feminist ways – and all the better for it.

That, at least, is the broad premise of The Bitch is Back – a book in which Hanuer sets out to codify through personal accounts the gains women have made in an era of rapid, if uneven, personal and professional assertion.

“The theme of the first book was anger, women juggling careers and young children and feeling like feminism had failed them,” Hanauer said. “But now, as we’ve settled into early midlife, I’ve noticed that more women are making dramatic changes.” The changes she noticed women around her making include leaving marriages – sometimes for other women – having babies on their own, or choosing to live alone.

Statistics bear out her observations: 51% of women in the US are single, 43% of mothers are unmarried, women over 50 are now twice as likely to divorce as in 1990, half of divorces for those over 40 are initiated by women.

“It’s about how not to be the bitch in the house any more, about how not to be angry and disappointed, but about how you choose to get yourself happier in midlife.”

In the book, we meet a woman who plans to leave her husband because she is frustrated by his lack of sexual interest; another faces the opposite issue. A woman describes dating again in her 50s, others confront anxieties about appearance, health, loss, dating younger, dating older, not dating at all.

While no convenient marketing term has been coined for this phase – reckoning or reawakening, Hanauer suggests – these are ideas reconditioned from the 1960s that, thanks in part to technology but mostly to economic equalisation, have become part of the social mainstream.

“Back then it was the radicals and the fringe; now everyone talks about this,” Hanauer says. “As women have become stronger economically, they’ve started to be able to say the things they have thought for a long time.”

Traditionally, she says, we have heard a lot about the male midlife crisis but much less about a comparable phase for women. “Midlife used to be the time a lot of women started to feel invisible but now we’re able to ask, am I happy in this marriage? Am I happy in this town? Am I happy in this job?”

The choice, she says, is to calcify or decide to make things better: “Early midlife is a last chance to do that.” But not everyone, she says, needs a radical overhaul: “Frustrations are normal, so for many women it’s a matter of adjusting expectations and making a few subtle adjustments.”

There’s still an element of disquiet about the use of the word “bitch” in the title. In September, the New York Times used the title “The bitch America needs” for a pro-Hillary Clinton political opinion piece. The choice drew widespread criticism, with some readers writing in to say that the paper had stooped to tabloid titillation.

For Hanauer, the title was conceived partly as a response to Virginia Woolf and her riposte to a 19th-century poem by Coventry Patmore, The Angel in the House, about the passive qualities of his perfect wife. Woolf thought the repressive ideal of women represented by the poem was still so potent that she wrote, in 1931, “Killing the Angel in the House was part of the occupation of a woman writer.”

Hanauer says that while some women were dismayed by the title, others recognised themselves. “They thought, yes, that’s me. They said they felt angry and mean and didn’t want to feel that way. But they were also strong and assertive,and that’s the good definition of the bitch in the house – even when we’re not being angelic.”

“There are so many different ways to do things, different ways to be and ways to be happy. The main thing is to figure out what works for you,” says Hanauer.

“There’s no normal. No right or wrong. It’s just yourself, your happiness and your obligations – and how to combine those to have a better, more content life.”

* ***
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