The Queen of My Self

I recently attended a talk by Canadian author Catherine Gildiner and was quite taken with her good humored wisdom. When I read her book, After the Falls, I was hooked. She graciously allowed me to interview her and I would like to share her answers with you. They offer a revealing and inspiring description of a woman coming into her power.

Interview with a Canadian Queen – Part 1

QMD – I understand that you did not begin to write until you were in your 50s. Can you please tell me about that? What made you want to chronicle your early life?

I was a psychologist for twenty-five years and then one night at a dinner party I began telling a story of an event that occurred when I worked in my father’s drug store from the age of four. I was delivering drugs with the black delivery car driver and we were snowed in and I had to stay overnight at his house. The woman who had the party worked for CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Company). She encouraged me to write up the tale. She suggested I enter it into a short story competition. However once I started to write — I wrote a whole memoir! Then I sent it to a publisher and it was immediately published and on the best seller’s list. I decided at that point to begin a full time career in writing. I was already fifty so I decided I didn’t have that much time left.

I concentrated on my early life because I had such memorable people in my work as a young child, they seemed to be screaming in my head to be written about.

CG – What was your first sense of yourself as a self-identified person, separate from what society expected of you? 

A bully was harassing me and hurting me. He was pulling out my hair in bunches for months. I went to my teacher and parents but their solutions did not stop the bullying. Finally I stabbed the bully in grade four with a compass. He collapsed. And I finally let him have it. I was kicked out of school and was forced to see a psychiatrist. That was a fairly dramatic consequence for a Catholic school in the 1950s. I had a sense that I was not doing what was expected of me but I really didn’t care. I had protected myself. It wasn’t what Catholic school expected from my parents. I however realized I was on my own and I had protected myself. If people thought I was crazy I REALLY didn’t care. It was quite freeing really.

QMD – When and in what circumstances have you felt yourself to be powerful? 

I have felt powerful several times. I worked on civil rights in the 60’s.  Even when I was a young kid I went out in the night and decided to paint all the black lawn jockeys (lawn ornaments) white. When it was written up in the paper as “vandalism” I still felt powerful for doing it. Any time that I worked for a greater public goal I felt a surge of personal power.

CG – What powers, strengths, visions, are you working on manifesting now? 

I am not working on any powers in the external sense. I feel I have a lot of those. I am working on trying to manage my anger and type A personality so that I can better enjoy my personal relationships. If you want to talk in terms of visions, I want to see myself as someone who accepts others and accepts myself. Hard driving gets you all kinds of external rewards (PhD, money, books published, psychology private practice) but at 62 you find it wears out your motor and replacement parts are hard to come by. I have bought a farm so that I can calm down and appreciate nature and solitude.

…     Monday, Interview with a Canadian Queen – Part 2




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


Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus