The Queen of My Self

The Queen of My Self

African Queen

posted by Donna Henes

Perhaps nowhere in history were women held in higher standing and regard than in Mama Africa, the birthplace of humanity and the world’s first great civilizations, with its preponderance of matriarchal and matrilineal societies.

“You know that in our country there were even matriarchal societies where women were the most important element,” writes Amilcar Cabral, the Guinean leader of the African Liberation Movement, in Return to the Source. “They were not queens because they were the daughters of kings. They had queens succeeding queens. The religious leaders were women, too.”

Probably the most famous woman in African history is Queen Nzinga Mbande, Amazon Queen of the N’dongo and Matamba in West Africa, who ruled Angola for thirty-some years in the mid-1600′s. In 1621 at the age of thirty-nine, she negotiated with the Portuguese for the preservation of Angolan independence while seated on the back of a kneeling servant, an ingenious and face-saving performance, as the colonialists had not provided a chair for her in an attempt to embarrass and humiliate her.

Years later, Nzinga refused to hand back runaway slaves to the Portuguese, thus bringing down their colonial wrath. Along with her female officers and advisors, Nzinga formed formidable tribal alliances and gathered a vast army that, in true guerrilla fashion, harassed the Portuguese to exhaustion from all sides while avoiding direct confrontation. Politically astute, she formed alliances with other foreign powers, pitting them against one another to free Angola of European influence.

I may be kindly. I am ordinarily gentle, but in my line of business I am obliged to will terribly what I will at all.
- Catherine II. Russian Queen, 1729-1796

Queen Nzinga was a visionary political leader, competent and self-sacrificing, completely devoted to the resistance movement against the European slave traders. She possessed an abundance of both steely hardness and soft charm and used them each, depending on the situation, as a tactical tool when it suited her.

Her death in 1663 helped open the door to the massive Portuguese slave traffic. Yet her struggle helped to inspire others to follow in her powerful path and continue to mount offensives against the white invaders. Queen Nzinga is so revered that, despite logic, a pre-historic imprint of a footprint on a rock at Pungu Andongo in Angola is attributed to her.

One of Queen Nzinga’s spiritual children, a ferocious middle-aged woman known as Nanny, led a victorious slave revolt in Jamaica, then founded a free Maroon community called, Nannyville. It is said that when the pursuing British fired cannonballs into their village, Nanny caught them between her buttocks and shot them right back at the soldiers.

Harriet Tubman, another on Queen Nzinga’s mission, was, in addition to being the famous founder of the underground railway, a soldier in the Union army of the North. On June 2, 1863, at the age of sixty-six, she led a mission on the Tennessee River with three gunboats under her command. Queen Harriet and her allies blew up a Confederate bridge, engaged in espionage, and saved the lives of seven hundred and fifty-six slaves. After the war, the army not only refused to recognize her contributions, they robbed her of her just veteran’s pension.

I am Queen Nzinga.
I am Queen Amina.
I am Harriet Tubman.
I am Mbuya Nehanda.
And Behold!  I’ve been pushed!
Down! To the ground!
With only my bare hands
To use as a cup.
But I have fought many wars,
Plus untold battles,

- Nilene O. A. Foxworth

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


Questions From Readers

posted by Donna Henes

The Nourishing Relationships interview concludes with an open Q & A:

NR: Now it’s time for our readers to have the opportunity to connect with you personally:

Q. Thanks for your encouragement. I’d like to think of myself as a Queen but to my kids either I’m invisible or, if they do acknowledge me, I’m an intrusive, royal pain in the butt.
- Gloria

A. So your kids don’t see you as a Queen… So what? What do they know?! You are the Queen of your own life. We all are — IF we can allow ourselves to own our own power. Only you can validate your own sovereignty. Issue an official Royal Decree “I hereby declare that I am forthwith Queen of My Self.” All hail!
Q. Excuse my ignorance, but what is an urban shaman?

A. As shamans in every culture always have, I create contemporary rituals for my community, which I consider to be all of humanity. My role is that of catalyst: organizing and instigating innovative, demystified systems for creative public interaction, celebration, and communion.

I am an Urban Shaman, a modern urban woman, living in the city that is the capital of the world. My specialty is multicultural ritual and ceremony. I learn from all of the members of my community and blend together rituals that speak to all people from all backgrounds. My circles reflect that diversity and I am proud to be the ceremonial connector of people of all faiths and ethnicities.

Q. I like that just because we’re focusing on being the best we can each be, it doesn’t mean that we ignore the rest of the world. As you say, we can use our maturity to respond to the needs of others and give back.
- Sharon

A. Yes. Respond is the key word. I like to spell responsibility with s hyphen: response-ability. Our responsibility to ourselves, our inner circles, our community and our world is defined by our ability to respond.

Q. Just wondering how a Queen is different from a “Princess.” I never wanted to be thought of as a “Princess” when I was younger, so why do I want to be a Queen now?

A. A Queen is not a grown up princess. A princess is pampered, cosseted in a cushion of entitlement. A Queen is a mature ruler of her own destiny. She rolls up her sleeves and does whatever needs to be done, because she sees the need and has the ability to respond. A Queen owns and embraces her own power and uses it to empower others.

Q. Mama Donna, You make so much sense – but it’s hard to keep thinking of myself as a Queen when I keep getting shot down. What can I do to keep myself on track?

A. Keeping your own center in the midst of opposition is not easy. But it is incredibly important. It is all about Self-esteem.

In The Queen of My Self there is an entire chapter of exercises and practices to help develop a healthy sense of internal sovereignty. Also, I write a daily bog on with information, advice, inspiration and encouragement for enjoying Meaning, Moxie and Majesty in Midlife.

You can also subscribe to The Queen’s Chronicles, a monthly Ezine full of ideas, feedback and support to keep us centered and empowered. Just go to and sign up.

These tools are really helpful as reminders of and as connectors to our own power.

In the end, it is your opinion of you that counts. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your permission.”

Do YOU have any questions for me? Feel free to ask.

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


Nourishing Relationships Interview Part III

posted by Donna Henes

And the conversation herewith concludes:

NR: Can you tell us more about response-ability?

DH: Response-ability is the willingness to encounter each person, situation, event, and emotion with an open heart and an open mind, so that we can respond to the needs of others and our own needs with equal care. Born of awareness and consideration, response-ability means choosing to be fully conscious and present in life and to participate conscientiously in its enfoldment.

Maturity brings with it the understanding that everything is not about us. That the world does not revolve around our personal story. That we do not exist in a vacuum. And that all those other people out there actually have lives of their own and are not simply extras in our movie.

Life and living have shown the Queen the value of community, cooperation, concern, care, and communion. Knowing Herself to be an integral, inextricably interconnected part of a greater whole, She multiplies Her ministrations to include the welfare of the entire world around Her.

NR: Do you have any final thoughts for our readers?

DH: If we mighty Queens bring to bear the amazing experience, understanding, and acumen that we have to share, we can, together, restore balance and bring healing to a world that seems bent on destruction.

Personally, I do not think that it is a coincidence that just as the planet teeters on the very brink of destruction, there comes along a generation of fiery, accomplished, clever, ambitious women at the height of our supremacy to whip it back into shape. And the sheer enormity of our numbers means that we can actually achieve the critical mass necessary to make a real and lasting difference.

Let us harness our impressive Empress Energy: our purity of purpose, our passion, our heartfelt compassion and our enormous power, and let us direct it toward creating a safe, sublime and peaceful world for us all. The future is in our very capable hands.

NR: Our thanks go out to you, Donna, for sharing your exciting work with us. You’ve stimulated us all to think about our power and take up the challenge to use it wisely. Now it’s time for our readers to have the opportunity to connect with you personally:

Coming tomorrow: Questions from readers.

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

Nourishing Relationships Interview Part II

posted by Donna Henes

The conversation continues:

NR: What, exactly do you mean by Queen?

DH: The Queen is a woman who is still energetic with youth, yet wise with age. She is confident and beholden to no one. She thinks, speaks, acts for her Self and is secure being powerful. She has stepped into her sovereignty and wears it well.

The Queen refuses to condescend or conform to the adolescent and exploitative standard of beauty promulgated by popular culture. She does not deign to compare herself with teenage models or emaciated-lifted-stitched-tucked-injected-Hollywood-uber-beauties. A truly mature, secure woman accepts the inevitable physical changes that come with the passing of time and incorporates them into the way she presents herself to the world. Self-aware, Self-assured, she transforms her Self as she goes. She glows as she grows into her full potential, and becomes ever more becoming. Her reinvigorated attractiveness stems from Self-knowledge and enfranchisement; her magnetic sensuality is centered in the fulfillment and satisfaction of her Self-worth. She exudes the intoxicating appeal of a woman who is at heart, pleased with her Self.

NR: How does a woman go about becoming a Queen?

DH: She must decide and choose to accept the responsibility for her own desires and needs. She establishes boundaries and obeys only her own inner voice. She asserts her Self without guilt or apology.

The Queen uses the power of Her own purpose, growth, and gratification to claim and proclaim what is rightfully Hers, including — especially — Her own Self-image, charisma, and sexuality. When we are comfortable in our own skin, we carry ourselves with presence and pride, and project our formidable inner beauty out for all to see and appreciate.

Our emotional maturity and depth of character make women in our middle years extraordinarily and vitally attractive. We are substantial and robust, heady with the flavor of all that we have seen and done so far. We are pungent with profound experience, with pain and loss, exploration and transformation, glory and joy. The myriad lessons learned from lives intensely lived are reflected in our palate, which has become sophisticated, subtle, firm and complex. Like fine wine and good cheese, women ripen and improve with age. Our essence becomes stronger, clearer and infinitely more powerful.

NR: What are the benefits to aging?

DH: A liberating sense of Self. A Gallop poll revealed that despite facing the loss of so much on every level, women declare themselves to be the happiest after the age of 55. They might lose the pigment in their hair and the elasticity of their skin, their parents and their children, but they have gained THEMSELVES! This is glorious.

Once the Queen has conquered the challenges in Her life, she begins to claim Her royal power. She cuts through fear and ambivalence to become the sole ruler of Her Self. She has struggled for Her transformation and has achieved it. Her proud potency is palpable, Her authenticity uncontested. Her life now takes on a new ease, a grace, a certain lightness of being born of Her Self-knowing, Self-respecting, Self-directing, Self-projecting passion and purpose. She sails ahead on Her own steam, cutting efficiently through seas that are sometimes smooth as glass, sometimes choppy and fraught with danger. Her age and vast experience is Her ballast. She keeps Her center, come what may.

But something else remarkable takes place once the Queen has stepped into sovereignty. Now that Her own life is in working order and running more smoothly, the Queen can afford to enlarge the territory and expand the horizons of Her Interests and influence and extend the parameters of Her physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual domain. Firmly rooted in Her best Self and acting on Her own behalf, She is free to reach out in ever increasing concentric circles to others. Now She can freely offer Her compassion, expertise, time, and money to people and causes that call to Her sense of response-ability, literally Her ability to respond.

Coming tomorrow: Questions about response-ability.

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

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