The Queen of My Self

It wasn’t any kind of special moment when it happened. It wasn’t my birthday, for instance, or an anniversary of anything. It wasn’t even a family reunion or a great community event. I was just sitting somewhere, gazing into space, doing nothing whatsoever of significance or importance or even of any particular kind of enjoyment. I was just sitting, on an ordinary day in the midst of the ordinary things of life, waiting for a friend to arrive. And then it happened. The gentlest sense of wholeness and down-deep satisfaction came over me that I have ever known. It enfolded me like a warm mist and calmed me to the core. Every ounce of taut energy so common to the demands of daily life in a technological society had been drained, it seemed. Only the feeling of being totally, quietly, completely alive remained. Then I realized what it was: I was happy. Happy. That’s all. Just happy.

It felt within me like the stillness of an inland lake. I looked back over all the open meadows and tangled underbrush of my life and knew in an instant, like the snap of a shutter on a digital camera, that whatever had been, it had been right. Where I had been born was right, how I had lived life had been right, even all its wrong parts had been right.

But it has not always been thus. There were hollow, gaping times of uncertainty on the timeline of my life when the direction seemed wrong or the path it promised was at best a dull and dreary dead end. Those were not happy times. They were times that were productive, even successful by some standards, perhaps, but not happy.

Later, still quietly touched by the experience, I read a line that made me pause. “Life,” the philosopher Soren Kierkegaard wrote, “can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.” Clearly I had lived life forward long enough to understand how it is that we can get to feel such a moment of righteousness, to know such satisfaction, to come to such happiness.

–from Following the Path: The Search for a Life of Passion, Purpose and Joy by Joan Chittister


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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

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