The Queen of My Self

I see “Begin Again” as an ideal theme for this season. We have the supreme opportunity now in the autumn of our midlife to begin again. How shall we reinvent our Selves? What new programs, projects and passions are on the horizon for us? Please send me your stories of change, transition, and transformation. Our shared experiences serve to inspire and empower us all.

 Thanks. xxQueen Mama Donna


When the planes flew into the Twin Towers, I was out of the country. It took me more than a week to be able to get past the sealed borders and return home. One thought consumed my mind during that agonizing week of separation from my house, pets, friends and the city that I loved. I craved to be of service to my community.

At that time I had served New York City as an urban shaman for 26 years. The New Yorker magazine had even dubbed me “the unofficial commissioner of public spirit of New York City. The World Trade Center had been the site of half of the seasonal celebration rituals that I had facilitated and so I was especially bereft at the loss of my public altar.

So my response to the terrible tragedy was to undertake a “Walk Your Talk Pilgrimage.” One by one, I engaged the people whose paths I crossed: friends, the UPS man, the guard at the bank, the waitress at the coffee shop, the washing machine repairman, the people who actually live, work and love in New York City. We engaged in these amazingly intimate, sweetly profound conversations that inevitably ended in a hug or an extra-firm handshake.

It was the human face of this tragedy and its resulting extraordinary state of affairs that I chose to focus on. I did not want to lose track of the myriad emotional and spiritual interconnections that people are capable of making — with each other, with their own best selves, with the greater universal good of all.

I experienced this kinder, gentler city the minute I got back to Brooklyn. A delivery guy was just leaving my building as I arrived home with all my heavy travel bags. When he saw me trying to wrestle them up the stairs, he ran to help me, thank goodness.

He wouldn’t accept a tip and insisted that he just wanted to help. When I asked him if all his relations were safe, he said that they were all fine, but that he felt terrible, because he wanted to do something to help. “You just did,” I reminded him. He was extremely pleased with the notion that this, too, was peace making.

Thank you.

On the way to the coffee shop with friends the next morning, I ran into my neighbor Monifa walking with another woman. We stopped right there in the middle of the street, traffic not withstanding. (And nobody honked.) “How are you?” “How are you?” “No one dead?” “Everyone ok?” We ran our eyes up and down each other looking for signs, for clues of damage. We all six embraced in relief and mutual comfort and then we introduced our selves to the ones in this circle who we didn’t know. We hugged first and asked names later! A sign, surely, of sanity in psychotic times. (And still nobody honked.)

Thank you.

Tomorrow: A Walk Your Talk Pilgrimage – Part 2


Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She is the Midlife Midwife™ offering 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.



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







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