Beliefnet
The Queen of My Self

The Self, according to Carl Jung, is the center, the midpoint of the personality, the crossroads where our personal and collective, conscious and unconscious processes intersect. The Self encompasses the totality of who we are. It is, he writes, “A kind of central point within the psyche to which everything is related, by which everything is arranged, and which itself is a source of energy. The energy of the central point is manifested in the almost irresistible compulsion and urge to become what one is, just as every organism is driven to assume the form that is characteristic of its nature, no matter what the circumstances.”

The Self is the sum of all of our parts, and holistically, it is greater than the sum of all of our parts. The fluid Self transcends time and space, expanding and shape-shifting, changing and adapting to accommodate the possibility of all possibility.

In the art and philosophy of many cultures, the nature of the Self is represented by a four-part symbol such as a mandala, a labyrinth, an equilateral cross, a swastika, or a four-leaf clover. These symbols mirror the four-partite systems that organize the totality of the cosmos into the four seasons of the year, four phases of the moon, four cardinal directions.

The Four-Fold Goddess is representative of not only the stages and ages of a woman’s life, She also stands for the four parts that comprise our united Self. The Self, the Soul, the Center of a person is commonly thought to include our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual sides. These aspects are the ways in which we perceive and relate to the world around us and to our inner Selves, as well. Jung calls these aspects “functions,” and identifies them as sensing (physical), thinking (mental), feeling (emotional) and intuiting (spiritual). These four parts combine to compose our outlook and our insight. Together, they constitute our unique ways and means of being.

Our Queenly assignment, should we choose to accept it, is to identify, understand and connect — or reconnect — all of the component parts of ourselves, to attempt to develop and balance them equally, and to maintain them all in good working order.

The Self is like a jigsaw puzzle or a quilt that promises to become a beautiful whole if we spend the necessary time and concentration to assemble it. It is at once the puzzle, the parts of the puzzle, and also, most importantly, the process of piecing them together.

The ideal of the Queen inspires us to design the artful patchwork of our own lives designed from the wild and wonderful patterns of our own personality and experiences, and crafted from our individual inner authority. Once we do, we are able to shift into a new stage of life, a new state of being, a renaissance rebirth, ready, willing and able to rule.

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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 thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

My maternal Grandmother died at 80. This was pretty old in her day. My mother died just short of her 80th birthday, which pains me still. She was not old. She did not look or act old. But she felt old. She lost interest in what had always pleased and sustained her, and thought that she was too old to pursue other interests. Really, she just gave up. I shouldn’t say, “just.” She did have cancer. But she gave up caring.

The Great Depression had robbed her of the college education that she craved. Once she became a mother and then a divorced woman with two kids to raise and no child support, she was too busy to think about developing her own passions. And by the time my brother and I were off on our own, she had gotten out of the habit of aspiring to inner growth.

And that is how she died. She quit. She simply quit in her spirit. She was tired and she gave in. On her deathbed, she felt her regrets. How incredibly sad to hear a really smart, successful, independent, dynamic woman bemoan the fact that she had not done this, that or the other thing that she had wanted to do.

My mother was an amazing role model for me in a great many ways, both positive and negative. Her midlife reinvention for herself was an inspiration to me that contributed to the formation of the Queen archetype for mature women. She was an extraordinary Queen in her middle age. Exemplary.

But I think that she thought that she had to give up her crown in old age. She saw nothing appealing about being a Crone. She hated her aging body and considered it a traitor. Nothing seemed to peak her enthusiasm. She worried about being debilitated and dependent. She did not seek, recognize or value the gifts, the huge benefits, of enhanced self-awareness and esteem presented to us during the aging process.

This is one debilitating attitude that I do not wish to emulate. My resistance to identifying myself as a Crone, while still in my middle years is not born of a fear of aging — especially considering the alternative. I am not afraid of aging. I am afraid of not aging! As Woody Allen put it, “I don’t want to be immortal through my work. I want to be immortal through not dying.”

I have absolutely every intention of being a very, very old woman, hopefully, the oldest woman who ever lived! My goal is to reach 100 years of wise age — with the caveat that I want to know that I am 100! I absolutely want to be a Crone. Just not yet.

When I grow up to be a Crone, I want to be a Grandma Moses, a Louise Nevelson, a Georgia O’Keefe, a Martha Graham, a Mother Teresa, a Maria Sabina or a Delaney sister — a truly stellar elder whose visionary influence extends far into the future. A wise and wooly sage who is wholly engaged.

But for now and the foreseeable future, I glory in my Queendom. I do plan to move on someday, probably in my mid 70s, to the august domain of the Empress Crone. And you better believe that I will be taking my crown with me.

“I have found it to be true that the older I’ve become the better my life has become.”
-Doris Lessing

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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 thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

As we age, we naturally change. Change, after all, is the essential stuff of life. If we embrace it with magnanimous grace and good humor, as part and parcel of the ongoing mythic adventure of our path, we stand to gain great satisfaction in the process. 

Recognizing and accepting the inevitability of aging does not mean giving up on any attempts at improving our outward appearance, physical health, mental outlook, emotional balance and general well-being. More than ever before, women of a certain age are taking better care of our Selves, conscious of a newly mature imperative to lovingly nurture and protect every aspect of our beings.

We accept the responsibility for our own sustenance and satisfaction: physically as well as mentally, emotionally and spiritually. My sister midlifers — many of us for the first time ever— are pursuing programs of nutrition and fitness. We are eating better, sleeping and exercising more, learning how to release our stress, pursuing spiritual connection and allowing ourselves to fully express our creative natures.

We are working hard to stay healthy and active, and are, at the same time, more realistic in our ideals, more accepting of our own perceived imperfections, and more forgiving of our weaknesses. While some of us do go to the starvation-botox-surgical-extremes of trying to stay forever young, in general, we follow fewer fad diets and adopt more sensible, sustainable and ultimately successful life-style changes.

We gradually heal ourselves of old destructive patterns, stinking thinking and nasty habits. And then, voila! The rewarding result of feeling well — inside and out — is looking well. We wise women of a certain age know that there is a difference between looking young and looking attractive — between, for that matter, looking attractive and being attractive.

It gets easier as you get older. You accept yourself
for who you are – your flaws and your attributes.
It’s easier to live in your own skin.
– Barbra Streisand

More and more of us are refusing to condescend or conform to the adolescent and exploitative standard of beauty promulgated by popular culture. We do not compare ourselves with teenage models or emaciated-lifted-stitched-tucked-injected-Hollywood-uber-beauties. It is only a disaster to loose our girlish charms if we deem them to be the exclusive path to beauty, love and fulfillment.

Our allure and sex appeal change with time — increase, even — if we allow them to. A woman is never too old to look and feel beautiful. Each age, each stage of our lives, has its particular fabulous charm. As truly mature, secure women, we strive to accept the inevitable physical changes that come with the passing of time and incorporate them into the way we present ourselves to the world.

Self-aware, Self-assured, we are transforming ourselves as we go. We glow as we grow into our full potential, and become ever more becoming. Our reinvigorated attractiveness stems from self-knowledge and enfranchisement. Our magnetic sensuality is centered in the fulfillment and satisfaction of our Self-worth. We exude the intoxicating appeal of women who are, at heart, pleased with our Selves.

The process of maturing is an art to be learned, an effort to be sustained. By the age of fifty you have made yourself what you are, and if it is good, it is better than your youth.
– Marya Mannes

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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 thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

Recently one of my Midlife Midwife™ Counseling clients called me in hysterics from the supermarket. This was her first shopping excursion since her last child left home. She had been long divorced and now her nest was completely empty. As she wheeled her cart up and down the isles, she realized that she didn’t have the slightest idea what to buy.

While she was practiced in selecting foods for her family, always considering each person’s likes, dislikes and allergies, it had been a quarter of a century since she had asked herself what she wanted to eat. And she panicked at the prospect.

We are now emerging from decades of caring for others, and many of us are at a total loss as to how to care for ourselves. It is crucial that we redirect back into ourselves some of the love and strength that we give so freely to others.

By middle age, most of us have lost already, or will soon lose, our parents, perhaps even our spouses, best friends and significant others. Who will mother us now? Who will take care of us, or more important, maybe, who will even care whether we take care of ourselves?

Now is the time for us to learn how to be our own caring best friend, sister, daughter, mother and devoted advocate. And this is our chance to be the sort of parent that we always wanted — for me it was the cheerful, optimistic, fun-loving Mary Poppins that my little girl-Self needed so badly.

But whatever our childhood was like, that was then and this is now. Now, we can give ourselves the unconditional love and support that we had or did not have as we were growing up. We can and must assume the responsibility to feed, nurture, encourage and comfort ourselves, to pamper and challenge ourselves, to whisper into our own ear each night as we slip off to sleep, “Good night, honey. I love you.”

Think about your daily habits. Are they healthy? Are they helpful? What improvements might you make in your diet, your exercise program, your work environment, your family life, your friendships, your thought patterns, or in other aspects of your routine to improve your well-being?

If you decide to make changes in your life, be realistic in your expectations. Your goal is not to be as you were at thirty. It is to be your best Self today and tomorrow.

Adopt the changes you decide on with your full intention and focused attention. If you want a certain result, you must work to actualize it. I know. Sad, but true!

Think about caring for yourself as an act of love, rather than an odious duty. Isn’t that how you care for others? Attitude is all. Your self-care is, after all, strictly a gift you are giving to your Self. You know how to nurture. Now it is your turn to receive it.

Take Good Care:

  • Eat well — not too much, not too little — and allow yourself to take pleasure in your food. Feed your body with nutrients and your soul with color, taste and sensory delight.
  • Sleep well. Sleep enough. Then sleep some more. Nap if you can.
  • Exercise your body and your mind. And also your creativity, your intuition, your sense of adventure and the full scope of your options.
  • Oil your rusty parts. Water what is dry. Polish your surfaces. Stretch your body, your imagination and your self-imposed limits. Tickle your fancy.
  • Don’t worry about the future. Worrying is like praying for what you don’t want. Let go of past resentments. Be here now. Take it all in and remember to exhale.
  • Do things you enjoy. Have some fun. Play. Laugh. Be silly.
  • Treat yourself with respect and honor. Watch your inner language. Support your dreams, encourage your goals, allow yourself to be proud of your achievements. Bless your Self.
  • Mark your boundaries and don’t be afraid to defend them. Honor your needs. Fulfill your desires. Give yourself the time, the space and the permission to do so.
  • Advocate for your ideals. Stand up for what you believe. Speak your truth. Walk your talk. Put your money where your mouth is.
  • Make every thought, every word, every action, every second count. This is your life!

Like the excellent mother, creator, organizer, administrator, mentor you are, be patient with yourself. Change is slow and you are human.

I have a simple philosophy. Fill what’s empty.
Empty what’s full. And scratch where it itches.
– Alice Roosevelt Longworth

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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 thequeenofmyself@aol.com.