The Queen of My Self

The Queen of My Self

Entertaining A New Year

posted by Donna Henes

This fall I went to the 60th birthday party of a very old and dear friend. Due to budget constraints, the venue was the back room of a very funky bar. The refreshments consisted of pitchers of beer and sangria and scant little fried things. All in all, perfect for a college bash, but a bit strange for a room full of midlife women. Or so it seemed at first.

The birthday Queen specified no gifts, but requested a song, instead. And her adoring guests complied. They brought songs alright, complete with costumes and creative props. The show was fabulous — touching and hilarious. And there was dancing. Lots of dancing. It was a really great celebration, rich in all the right components. I can’t remember having so much simple down home fun at a party in a long time.

After all, how many poo-poo foodie parties can you stand? You know the kind I mean. “This cheese is so special, only two cows in the whole world make it! And it only costs $46. a quarter of a pound.” Pulease.

One of my New Year resolutions is to entertain more this year. Not big parties, but intimate dinners with six or eight people who can be depended upon for fascinating conversation and true communion. I am craving old-fashioned one-pot suppers — soups, stews, casseroles, salads. Good bread. Good wine. Good talk. Good quality time.
I remember my mother talking about the depression. It dashed her plans to go to college. Instead, she had to work in a fruit store. But she never complained about that. (Don’t get me wrong, my mother was a world class complainer, but she never complained about the Great Depression.) She always said about those years, “People stuck together then, and helped each other.” And, “We knew how to have fun.”

With this New Year we enter a new era. The main challenge that we will face in these uncertain times is not the economy. Nor is it the unnerving and seemingly psychotic political scenarios being played out all around the world. Not to mention the grief that they create.

Our challenge is to stay in our center, come what may. Our challenge is to breathe in the energy of the life force and to exhale respect, reverence and awe. Our challenge is to be unshakeable in our faith. To share our love. And to shine our spiritual light.

This year may we discover and embrace our own purpose, passion and power. May we accept our responsibility and our rule. May we take our ideas and our skills and use them to create a viable, safe, sustainable and sane world for us all.

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

Queen Mama Donna offers 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.

Let The Resolutions Begin

posted by Donna Henes

Let The Resolutions Begin
By Midlife Crisis in Process  The thoughts and ramblings of a middle age woman who is beginning to realize life requires you to make tough choices that don’t always bring happiness.
Let me start by saying right off the bat that I love resolutions. I love the idea of starting over. A change in direction. A fresh start. The chance to redeem yourself or save yourself, generally, from yourself in most cases. It is no different for me.

I enjoy taking a moment to think about how I want life to be in the future — and am starting to understand that I can control that future — I don’t have to simply accept what live offers. I have a right and a responsibility to make this life the best it can be. Better yet, I’m reaching the stage in life when I can address my wants from life and not just my needs. I am fortunate in this way. I have lived long enough to have this opportunity. I am doubly blessed to be in a financial position where I can afford to have some of the things I want as well. I must not squander this time.

All that being said, I find myself restless with the way I live. Tired of the monotony. Work, school, sleep, repeat. Don’t think I’m quitting work or school. And heaven knows I can not afford to lose more sleep than I already do. But there has to be more to life than what I’ve chosen to take from it. Please note the phrasing of that sentence. I’m not blaming the world, I accept responsibility.

So there are going to be some changes in 2011 for me. I hope to detail them here in my blog more as a means to hold myself accountable rather than to profess any ability to implement change in my readers’ lives. Goodness! Let’s see if I implement change in my own life first! 

My first resolution is to declutter my life. I’ll start first with the obvious — the overwhelming accumulation of things that I am holding on to yet not using. Things I’m afraid to let go of because I might need it some day. Things I keep because they remind me of when I was young and full of promise and possibility. That part is difficult. The acknowledgement that I didn’t grow to be the person I thought I would be. That at times I took the easy road, the path of least resistance.  It’s time to face those facts and forgive myself for them. I can’t undo the past. But I can learn from it. I need to accept that my past is a part of who I am now. But my future is in my control.

The first step: I will clean out closets and drawers. I will get rid of things I haven’t worn for a few years. And in the meantime, there are people those clothes could help. I have nice things that just aren’t my style or size anymore, but are professional in nature. I will donate them to an agency that gives interview clothes to women rather than send them over to Goodwill.

The second step is to stop buying. I don’t need new shoes. I don’t need any more clothes. Perhaps you’ve heard of the 80/20 rule? You wear 20% of your clothes 80% of the time. You eat the same 20% of foods 80% of the time. Variety may be the spice of life, but people tend to chose comfort over spice time and time again.

There are places I will need to spend money. I will have to get a new dress and possibly shoes for my daughter’s wedding this summer. And I am considering giving myself permission to spoil myself when items that I wouldn’t normally buy — like the monthly lunches I’ve been having with my best friend from high school; the luxury of using the parking garage at college; and perhaps giving myself a trip to a coffee place once in a while to enjoy a latte and maybe even a magazine. Some down time away from the computer and the books.

This is just the start. 

I’m excited for 2011. I think the best of life is just ahead.

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

Queen Mama Donna offers 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.

What Is Right With You?

posted by Donna Henes

What Is Right With You?
By Kim Mailhot, NH
So my amazing friend, Paula, from Little Scraps of Magic, is participating in the Reverb10 writing prompt challenge to examine your 2010 and to set intentions and focus for the New 2011 year to come.

Paula’s response was: “What Are 11 Things Your life Doesn’t Need In 2011?”

She listed 11 dreaded things that she wanted to be rid of in 2011. You know, all those things that we criticize ourselves about, that make us feel not good enough or like we are “imperfect” human beings that need to be fixed in order to be good, worthy, perfect ?

As I read Paula’s list, I saw many of the same or similar things that I wanted to be rid of in my own life. By the end of the list, like Paula, I was feeling the need to sigh deeply and heavily about all those things that are “wrong” with me and that I better hurry up at “fix” before it’s too late!

Then this other voice within me, the Voice of all Things Right With Me, cried out:

“Screw this list! You have spent enough of your 45 years focused on what is wrong with you! Has that “fixed” it all for you? How about focusing on what is Right with you instead? I promise, that is the key to feeling better about your life, Beautiful One! That is the key to Loving all that is You!”

I grabbed hold of what that sweet voice said and I wrote this response to Paula…

and to my Self…

and maybe to you…

“You are not really far behind. You are exactly where you are meant to be.

Eleven things your life doesn’t need? All of us can think of 11 or a few dozen things that we can do better at or want to rid ourselves of! Wanting to improve and be a better person is a natural part of living here on this chaotic planet. And yes, facing some of those boogiemen is a good thing too.

But I also see how doing this list brought you into deep, deep sighs…

How about deciding that the number 1 thing that you can be without in 2011 is focusing on what is wrong with you instead of what is right? I am truly, truly coming to believe that focusing on what is right with us, what brings joy and mindful living to us is the key to solving even those dreaded “wrong” things!

And guess what, My Lovely, Inspiring, Creative Friend? On the last day of your life, there will still be some of those 11 icky things on the list of what is wrong. Does that mean you will not have lead a beautiful, rich, deeply loving life? I think not!

This was a lot of deep thinking so early on a Tuesday morning for me. But very, very welcome. Every word I wrote here could be a letter to myself too, Miss Paula (Insert your name here).

So here is Kim’s Prompt for the day, for you and for me:
What is right with you? Discuss, explore and celebrate!  

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

Queen Mama Donna offers 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.


Clean Sweep

posted by Donna Henes

Dear Queen Mama Donna,

This has been the year from hell. I feel used, abused, and grimy. My entire life has gotten out of control. In my depression I have even let my normally orderly house go. My family is disgusted. What symbolic act can I do at New Year that would help to make me feel like I can make a clean start?
- A Mess in Michigan

Dear Ms. Mess,    
As we enter the New Year, our thoughts turn to new beginnings, new possibilities, new hope. This fragile interval which separates one year from the next is pregnant with potential. We find ourselves taking time out of time to evaluate our past experiences and actions and to prepare ourselves mentally, physically, and spiritually for our future. Our reflections and resolutions at this transition period of the great turning of the annual wheel are critical, for they create the ambient atmosphere and attitude for the entire year to come.

A new year represents another chance, a fresh start, a clean slate, and so we embark upon the shift as on a dangerous journey, freshly bathed and outfitted, full of purpose, fingers crossed in blessing. People enjoy elaborate toilettes; bodies washed, dressed, groomed, combed until they are thoroughly cleansed — often internally as well through fasting. On New Year in Bengal, pilgrims bathe in the River Ganges. The Cherokee spend the eve of the New Year in vigil on the banks of a river. At dawn they immerse themselves seven times, emerging purified and new like the year.

In addition to purifying our person, special care has always been taken to clean and maintain the temples, churches, synagogues, cemeteries, groves, and shrines, in which prayers for the propitious New Year are made. By obvious extension, this New Year’s urge to purge includes our home environments, where the most intimate and ordinary prayers of daily life are uttered. If a man’s home is his castle, surely it is a woman’s shrine.

Cleaning house to make ready for a new year is a universal task, symbolic and reverant as it is practical. Out with the old and in with the new! Death to dirt! Removing the dust and detritus accumulated during the previous year ensures the ridding of a dwelling and its occupants of the shortcomings and disappointments delivered during that time as well. Domestic renovation signifies spiritual and social renewal.

All over the world, houses are scrubbed spic and span from top to bottom and yards and walkways are swept spotlessly clean. In old England, New Year’s Day was the annual sweeping of all chimneys. The expression “to make a clean sweep” comes from this New Year’s custom. In Hong Kong, ten days before the New Year, women observe a Day for Sweeping Floors. At this time, an intensive house cleaning is begun in readiness for the New Year. Nothing, no corner, is left untouched. On New Year’s Day Moroccans pour water over themselves, their animals, the floors and walls of their homes.

Some peoples, like the Incas, like the Creeks, discarded everything, EVERYTHING, used in the past year. In a grand operatic gesture, Italians throw all the household belongings, which they no longer want out of their windows on New Year’s Eve. Everything from used bars of soap to broken sofas is dispatched in this abandon; and every year there are many injuries to hapless revelers on the streets below. In a more tame tradition, symbolic of the same spirit, the Mayans replace all of their domestic articles of everyday use.

In many Native American cultures, in both the Northern and Southern Hemisphere, hearth fires are extinguished annually and ritually rekindled in a New Year ritual of new fire. In this way, sins and devils are purged in purification ceremonies symbolizing spiritual renewal. Zuni women throw out their live embers, then sprinkle their entire homes with corn meal in a rite called House Cleansing in order to ensure good fortune in child birth in the coming year. During the Iranian New Year celebration of Narooz, wild rue is burned in households because it is believed to drive away all evil and usher in a happy and propitious new year.

So, darling, get out the brooms and the buckets, roll up your sleeves and get to work. Scrub the grime out of your environment and your mentality. The act of cleaning will help you to feel like you are back in control of your life, and an orderly, cheerful house will definitely improve your mood. Light some incense and some candles and invite in some fresh, new energy.
Happy New Year to you.

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

Queen Mama Donna offers 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.

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