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The Queen of My Self

The Queen of My Self

Interview with a Canadian Queen – Part 1

posted by Donna Henes

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.

It is also my pleasure to offer copies of After the Falls to the first three women who contact me to request one.

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?

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CG – 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.

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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.

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

CG – 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.

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

CG – 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.

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

CG – 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.

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Tomorrow Interview with a Canadian Queen – Part 2

* Please send me your thoughts about power. Also stories of your own empowerment. When shared, these ideas and examples are extremely inspiring to others. Thanks.

***
The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

CONSULT THE MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™
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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Earth Speaks

posted by Donna Henes

 

Earth Speaks
By Elizabeth Hazel, OH

Earth speaks to those who listen:
Maternal lectures in shades of green,
Sisterly riddles in coy lagoons and comic swamps,
And her epic daughters,
Mountain covens meet to ponder immortality.

She thinks in seasons and paints in time:
Impressionistic springs give way to pointilistic summers;
Drab and tattered autumns yield to ruthless winter whites
As frost giants gnash through horn-blasted blizzards.

Earth speaks to those who listen:
The North Star is poised upon the axis of her turnings,
And steers her through tides of space and time.
The pulse of her journey thrums through sand and soil,
And her blood churns through rivers and streams.
Her body communicates with force and subtlety,
And few can penetrate her family secrets.
Her moon conducts exchanges with neighborly planets
And imports overseas from remote suns.
Light year accounts in her cosmic ledger
Score tallies that beggar all reckoning.
Contrivances may take her measure
But know not her meaning
Or delight in her passions.

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Earth speaks to those who listen
In the oldest language of all;
With the nouns of creation,
With verbs of being,
And adjectives of multiplicity.
Hers is the greatest song
The deeps call to the heights
In a symphonic canon of sea and land;
And all hearts resound to her sonorous chords.
Earth speaks to those who listen.

* Please send me your thoughts about power. Also stories of your own empowerment. When shared, these ideas and examples are extremely inspiring to others. Thanks.

***
The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

CONSULT THE MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™
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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Guardian Queen of Earth’s Water

posted by Donna Henes

Author and eco-feminist Vandana Shiva has long been a leading activist for women of third-world countries, farming and water sovereignty. According to her article “Empowering Women,” she suggests that a more sustainable and productive approach to agriculture can be achieved through reinstating a system of farming in India that is more centered around engaging women.

She advocates against the prevalent “patriarchal logic of exclusion,” claiming that a woman-focused system would change the current system in an extremely positive manner. In this way, Indian and global food security, can only benefit from a focus on empowering women through integrating them into the agricultural system.

She describes a compelling and creative relationship between women, soil and water. Women in India often walk many miles to obtain drinking water for their families. However, they usually go no further than 10 miles to do so. At that point, they take action. Women were among the first to notice a connection between deforestation and a lack of water. As the homemakers, women are in charge of collecting drinking water. However, after deforestation campaigns, they often noticed a severe decline in the resource.

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A participant of the 1970s Chipko Movement to prevent deforestation in India, Shiva explains, “Forests used to be about revenue and timber, but then it was about water.”

She also rallied against strip mining in India. Though the then-Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi, condemned strip mining in the Himalayan Mountains for its “ugliness,” Shiva took action to prevent damage to water. “In the limestone, caves and cavities and bodies of water would form. Strip mining stole the water storage system provided by nature,” she said.

Shiva tells of a 75-year-old woman who had been beaten for preventing bulldozers from further stripping the mountains. Despite her injuries, the woman carried on, calling to mind Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolent practices. “We strip foliage from trees and the leaves return. We are a part of nature, why wouldn’t we bounce back as well?” Shiva said.

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In 1993, Queen Shiva received the Right Livelihood Award (also known as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’) “…For placing women and ecology at the heart of modern development discourse.” Other awards she has received include the Global 500 Award of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in 1993, and the Earth Day International Award of the United Nations (UN) for her dedicated commitment to the preservation of the planet as demonstrated by her actions, leadership and by setting an example for the rest of the world.

On the train from Delhi to Jaipur, we were served bottled water, where Pepsi’s water line Aquafina was the brand of choice. On the streets of Jaipur, there was another culture of water. At the peak of drought, small thatched huts called Jal Mandirs (water temples) were put up to give water from earthen water pots as a free gift to the thirsty. Jal Mandirs are a part of an ancient tradition of setting up Piyaos, free water stands in public areas. This was a clash between two cultures: a culture that sees water as sacred and treats its provision as a duty for the preservation of life and another that sees water as a commodity, and its ownership and trade as a fundamental corporate right.

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* Please send me your thoughts about power and powerful women who you know and/or admire. Also stories of your own empowerment. When shared, these ideas and examples are extremely inspiring to others. Thanks.

***
The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

CONSULT THE MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™
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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The Arab Woman You Don’t See – Part 2

posted by Donna Henes

The Arab Woman You Don’t See – Part 2
By Queen Noor of Jordan

Women’s new empowerment will not be suppressed easily, however. So far, these have not been the traditional stories about women — especially Muslim women — that tend to show up on the news. Many do not imagine Arab and Muslim women have much in common with their counterparts in the West because of the selective, damaging and stereotypical images that the media commonly present. When I married King Hussein in 1978, reporters were constantly asking me how a progressive, educated, American woman could go live in such a repressive culture.

Those reporters did not know the Arab women I did — the doctors, lawyers, professors and entrepreneurs — many of whom became friends and advisers as I set my priorities for public service. The dedication and ambition of the increasing numbers of such women gives great cause for optimism about their prospects for shaping the future of the region. Providing these women with opportunities for partnering with international institutions and networks can enhance that transformative potential both within their own societies and for the benefit of our larger world.

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Too many in the Western world still equate the images and soundbites describing women under Taliban and restrictive rule in other countries with the teachings of our faith and conditions throughout the Muslim world. Many worry that greater democracy in the region will give reign to more restrictive interpretations of Islam and a rollback of women’s rights. I think, however, that there is reason for hope for women within our faith itself.

Most westerners — and even some in our region — do not recognize that women were granted political, economic, legal and social rights by Islam in the 7th century — rights then unheard of in the West; rights that women were still struggling for in the 20th century in so many parts of the world — such as the equal right to education, to own and inherit property, to conduct business, to participate in decision making, to be elected to office and not be coerced into marriage. The oppression of women in parts of the Muslim world is not because of Islam, but contrary to it.

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Male and female equality is enshrined in numerous places in Islamic scripture, such as the Quranic verse: “I waste not the labor of any that labors among you, be you male or female — the one of you is as the other.” And from the later teachings: “For the white to lord it over the black, the Arab over the non-Arab, the rich over the poor, the strong over the weak or men over women is out of place and wrong.” The true application of fundamental Islamic principles can actually empower women to play a crucial role in the process of peaceful change.

As popular demands progress to political and social transition in the MENA region, it is of critical importance that the women who have played such an important role not be relegated to secondary status yet again. They must not simply be forced to exchange an old for a new set of oppressions. Any reforms must continue the progress toward full human rights for women that our region so desperately needs, not only for the women’s sake. It is vital that MENA countries more urgently recognize that the status of women is the key determinant to the development of their societies. In turn, the international community can play a critical role in helping to build bridges that can further integrate women both locally and globally.

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It is fitting that in Egypt, where Arab feminists first made their voices heard, women have played such an integral role, and have set something of a precedent, by courageously fighting for their unequivocal rights.

On this anniversary of International Women’s Day, almost a century since those Arab feminists raised their voices, it is time for women everywhere to take their proper place beside men as equal parents of new societies born in democracy and justice.

* Please send me your thoughts about power. Also stories of your own empowerment. When shared, these ideas and examples are extremely inspiring to others. Thanks.

***
The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

CONSULT THE MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™
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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