The Queen of My Self

The Queen of My Self

Now It’s Your Turn!

posted by Donna Henes

During the decades of our Maiden and Motherhood, women grow to meet all of our many demanding responsibilities. Lithe moon that can’t keep getting fuller and fuller with no retreat, we can take on only so much before exploding like a balloon pumped up with too much air. In the second half of Her life, the Queen begins to wane, to contract, to pull in. She opens the air valve and releases what is not to Her benefit.

When we reach our middle years we naturally pause and take stock of our lives — our career paths, our goals and aspirations, our sense of meaning and purpose. With our perspective of all of the changes and losses that we have seen and suffered, we come to realize that all we have left in our lives is time, and who knows how much of that remains?

Therefore, the imperative to live fully, creatively, energetically, effectively and consciously consumes us. We begin to question — some of us for the first time ever in our good girl lives — all previous assumptions, rules, restrictions, addictions, predictions and predilections, which have ordered our existence. Our heart cries out for authenticity. Is the life that we are living the life that we would choose if we knew that we had only one life to live?

“Women have to summon up courage to fulfill dormant dreams,” writes Alice Walker. The Queen bursts forth from adversity and previous constraints, actual or imagined, to become a proficient player in the game plan of Her choice. When She operates from Her own inner guidance, She releases Her unique gifts and expressions, the sum of Her entire life experience to date, and allows them to ripen and come to fruition. And She recognizes and celebrates the physical, emotional and spiritual benefits of doing so.

The Queen of Achievement, of Attainment, of Endurance, of Survival has experienced much during Her turns at Maiden and Motherhood. She has traveled to the ends of Her emotions, sometimes willingly, sometimes kicking and screaming. She has explored the depths of the pain and sorrow of the dark times in life as well as the joys and pleasures of the lightest moments, and has learned and integrated the lessons of each.

She knows what She wants and knows She wants it now. Her decisions might not make sense to Her friends and family, Her choices might shock and alarm them, but no amount of dissuasion can shake Her from Her resolve. Old doubts and concerns fade in the glaring light of Her determination.

Risk! Risk anything! Care no more for the opinions of others, for those voices. Do the hardest thing on earth for you. Act for yourself.
-Katherine Mansfield

 

* ***
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.

 

             

 

The Queen: A Model for Midlife Empowerment

posted by Donna Henes

Who are we supposed to be at this stage of our life when we are less likely to be bound and identified by our kinship connection to someone else — as daughter, wife, mother, lover? What exactly is our role as older than young and younger than old women who are still active, attractive and more effective than ever?

The Queen paradigm promotes a new understanding of what it means to be a middle-aged woman today who accepts full responsibility for and to her Self. And it celebrates the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual rewards of doing so.

Becoming a Queen is not automatic. The Queen bursts forth from adversity and previous constraints, actual or imagined, to become a proficient player in the game plan of Her choice. The Queen does not invite hard times and trouble, but She chooses to use them well. Actualized, organized, efficient, self-sufficient, competent, ethical and fair, the Queen has struggled for and earned Her authority and respect. Determined and firmly centered on Her own two feet, She dares to climb, step after step, with nascent surety into the heady realm of Her own highest sovereignty.

Once on Her throne and crowned, the Queen glows golden with confidence, competence, and grace. She is fully aroused and takes great pleasure in the feelings of freedom, elation and wellbeing that come from personal empowerment.

Shining from the inside out, Her attractiveness and attraction is rooted deeply in Her self-actualization, self-worth, and inner strength. She exudes a primal excitement, Her power palpable in her very presence. Her desire reaches the boiling point and her inhibitions melt in the heat of Her renewed passion for life.

This royal mythic model that I envision is recognizably like me, like us. Not yet old, yet no longer young, still active and sexy, vital with the enthusiasm and energy of youth, She is tempered with the hard earned experience and leavening attitudes of age. She has been forced to face and overcome obstacles and hard lessons including Her own shadow, and in so doing, has outgrown the boundaries of Her old self.

Agitated with the unessential and restless for authenticity, She sheds all attachment to the opinions of others and accepts complete responsibility and control for Her own care, feeding and fulfillment. She is the Queen of Her Self, the mature monarch, the sole sovereign of Her own life and destiny. Here, finally, is an archetype that fits.

As long as I live, I will have control over my being — you find the spirit of Caesar in me.
- Artemisia Gentileschi

 

* ***
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.

Lost and Found

posted by Donna Henes

Aging and changing might be inevitable, but they ain’t easy. They precipitate in us a great uncertainty. The myriad dramatic disturbances of modern middle life — menopause, health concerns, career shifts, the empty nest, divorce and death — create an overwhelming crisis of identity and purpose for each of us. What follows is an intense period of questioning absolutely everything — our goals and achievements, our priorities and our operating systems, our morals and our values, our fantasies and our fears.

Some of us spend a considerable amount of time — easily ten or fifteen years — swirling in the turbulence of this middle age reassessment. Who are we supposed to be at this stage of our life when we are less likely to be bound and identified by our kinship connection to someone else — as a daughter, a wife, a mother, a lover? What exactly is ourrole as older than young and younger than old women who are still active and more effective than ever?

This middling transitional shift into the next stage of our being promises us a vast world of positive possibilities for the second half of life. But first, before we are able to avail ourselves of the advantages and rewards of maturity, we must cross the Grand Canyon of midlife change, steep, rocky, and ripped asunder by a whole panoply of seismic ripples — mental, emotional, and spiritual — beyond the obvious physical ones. We climb and climb, and still we lose ground. The Earth that we once trusted to be solid under our feet is slipping away and we are dragged out to sea where we bob along in uncertain waters, in a leaky boat with no map to guide us.

It seems as if
I’ll never get beyond
the foot prints that I made. 

-Qernertuq, Eskimo poet
c.900-1400

In her book Goddesses in Older Women, the therapist Dr. Jean Bolen says that menopause is “a time of great spiritual and creative unfolding — although it sometimes feels like great unraveling.” Unraveling, indeed. The whole damn sweater is falling apart and we are standing here naked in the cold (and we are still hot). Nothing has prepared us for this landslide of transitions that greets us as we enter our middle years. There we were, going along as always, then one day out of the blue, we discover ourselves to be middle aged. Blindsided in a youth-conscious culture, we never saw it coming, but the overwhelming evidence of our aging can hardly be ignored.

These profound changes in the chemistry of our bodies and in our intimate relationships, the terrifying disruptions of our status quo, the daily life-and-death dramas we are forced to deal with, are incredibly disorienting. Not only are we burning up physically, blasted with flashes from our out of control internal furnaces, we are also, many of us, burnt out on an emotional level after years of tending the home, the hearth, and usually a job as well.

Gallup took a poll of women over 55 years of age. They were asked in which decade were they the happiest. 11% said their 20′s, 14% said their 30′s, 13% said their 40′s, the rest, well over 50%  answered “RIGHT NOW!!!”

Interesting. Society tells us, and our own experiences have verified, that now that we are menopausal, we are poised to lose everything that has so far defined us: our power of reproductivity, our youth, our sex appeal, our children, our parents, our spouses, our time left on the job, our visibility, our very lives — and we have never been happier! We might have suffered great loss, but look what we have gained — our Selves, And that makes us happy, indeed.
* ***
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.

Soul Friends

posted by Donna Henes

I love working and playing in groups of women. I was never in a college sorority, so my first experience was in the feminist consciousness-raising group that I joined in the late 1960s. And what an eye-opening, empowering experience it was.

We were a very diverse group brought together by our Bohemian, politically radicalized lifestyle. Our backgrounds could not have been different: the Detroit ghetto, patrician Manhattan, an Israeli kibbutz, the suburbs of the Midwest. We were artists, academics, shop girls, political activists. We were married, single, mothers, lesbians. And the more we talked, the more we shared, the more we realized that our upbringing and current status as women was virtually the same.

Our group stayed together for well over a decade. We shared each other’s struggles, sorrows and victories. We helped each other overcome obstacles and achieve goals. We saw each other through advanced degrees, first books, childbirth, divorce, love affairs, coming out, mental breakdowns, addiction, abuse, illness and death. These women have a very special place in my heart.

In the mid 70s I served on the Heresies magazine collective that published the groundbreaking issue on The Great Goddess. A group of us who first met working on that amazing seminal issue still meet monthly for wine and sushi, continuing Goddess research and mutual cheerleading.

In the late 70s I joined DISBAND, a group of women artists who couldn’t play instruments. Our collaboration, fun, argumentative and mutually respectful, produced many clever, ironic, prescient and powerful performances of social commentary and feminist pride. Today, 30 years later, we are still invited to perform.

I also belong to two long lasting groups of women who came together through our work, one a non-profit arts education organization where I used to teach and the other the cemetery where I am still the ritualist. Each of these groups of women meet quarterly to share fabulous dinners and revel in each other’s company.

In 1971 I hitch hiked through Europe with my best friend, Donna Manganello. We were video taping interviews with women in the nascent Women’s Liberation movement in Holland, Belgium, France, Switzerland and Italy. In addition to all of the pamphlets we collected, my reading material was The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing, the perfect accompaniment to our project.

I have not reread it in all these decades, so my memory may be cloudy, but the theme that has stuck with me most over these past four decades was her portrayal of women’s friendships. It was the friendship between her women characters that provided the continuity of support for each other through the ups and downs of their studies, careers, love affairs, marriages and divorces.

You know, whenever women make imaginary female kingdoms in literature, they are always very permissive, to use the jargon word, and easy and generous and self-indulgent, like the relationships between women when there are no men around. They make each other presents, and they have little feasts, and nobody punishes anyone else. This is the female way of going along when there are no men about or when men are not in the ascendant.

- Doris Lessing

Carrie Bradshaw on Sex and the City agreed when she speculated,“Maybe our girlfriends are our soul mates, and guys are just people to have fun with.”

New research bears this out. A study just published online in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health reports a considerable connection between the number of friends and the psychological wellbeing for both men and women in midlife. However, the impact of a dependable support system of friends was much greater for women.

The study authors surveyed 6,500 Brits born in 1958 when they were 42, 45 and 50 years old. When they first entered the study, the participants self-reported on their psychological wellbeing, whether they were married, the age they left school and whether they currently held a job. Most people said they were pretty content with their life and happily married.

When they turned 45, the researchers asked the same people how many times per month they met up with friends or family. Around 40 percent of men and 33 percent of women said they had six or more friends they met up with regularly. Sadly, about 10 percent said they had no friends.

When the researchers assessed their subjects’ happiness and friendship statuses again at the age of 50, the results showed a significant association between an active network of friends and psychological wellbeing, especially for women. These findings held up regardless of whether a person was married, had a job or had mental health issues in the past.

The British study isn’t the first to emphasize the importance of adult friendships. An Australian study even found that a thriving social life can lengthen a person’s lifespan, after studying seniors living in community and residential care facilities.

But oh! the blessing it is to have a friend to whom one can speak fearlessly on any subject; with whom one’s deepest as well as one’s most foolish thoughts come out simply and safely. Oh, the comfort – the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person – having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.
-Dinah Maria Mulock Craik
* ***
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

Now It's Your Turn!
During the decades of our Maiden and Motherhood, women grow to meet all of our many demanding responsibilities. Lithe moon that can’t keep getting fuller and fuller with no retreat, we can take on only so much before exploding like a balloon pumped up with too much air. In the second half of Her l

posted 6:00:46am Sep. 19, 2014 | read full post »

The Queen: A Model for Midlife Empowerment
Who are we supposed to be at this stage of our life when we are less likely to be bound and identified by our kinship connection to someone else — as daughter, wife, mother, lover? What exactly is our role as older than young and younger than old women who are still active, attractive and more eff

posted 6:00:56am Sep. 17, 2014 | read full post »

Lost and Found
Aging and changing might be inevitable, but they ain’t easy. They precipitate in us a great uncertainty. The myriad dramatic disturbances of modern middle life — menopause, health concerns, career shifts, the empty nest, divorce and death — create an overwhelming crisis of identity and purpose

posted 6:00:40am Sep. 15, 2014 | read full post »

Soul Friends
I love working and playing in groups of women. I was never in a college sorority, so my first experience was in the feminist consciousness-raising group that I joined in the late 1960s. And what an eye-opening, empowering experience it was. We were a very diverse group brought together by our Boh

posted 6:00:02am Sep. 12, 2014 | read full post »

From Sea Turtles to Social Work
A New Kind of Midlife Crisis for Women By Amanda Orr Last weekend, I attended the birthday brunch of an old friend, surrounded by people with whom I started my own career more than two decades ago. Throughout the afternoon, I heard a phrase I've been hearing a lot lately whenever I bump into fem

posted 6:00:38am Sep. 10, 2014 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.