Beliefnet
The Queen of My Self

 

I see “Begin Again” as an ideal theme for this season. We have the supreme opportunity now in the autumn of our midlife to begin again. How shall we reinvent our Selves? What new programs, projects and passions are on the horizon for us? Please send me your stories of change, transition, and transformation. Our shared experiences serve to inspire and empower us all. I found this great new beginnings piece in the Daily Mail, U.K.

Thanks.

xxQueen Mama Donna

 

A New Life – Part 2

By Crista Cloutier

I couldn’t afford to live in France. I’d have to get a car, a place to stay, and I had my share of credit-card debt. But one look around my house and I realized I might be able to bankroll this madcap idea. You see, I was the sort of girl who liked to buy things. Shop girls lit up when I entered their doors. Now all this stuff I had accumulated was going to find a new home in order to fund mine.

Like most people, I tended to identify myself by my possessions. As I began selling my precious belongings – the contemporary art collection, the classic-film library, the stainless-steel pots and pans – the doubts crept in. By the time my antique furniture was going under the hammer I had become an insomniac, pacing the floor each night racked with fear.

My family and friends were supportive, though they thought I was mad. After I left my job, new and exciting offers began trickling in. I was tempted and my resolve wavered, but I grimly persevered. Whatever had gripped me about moving to France refused to let go.

It was a week before D-day when I broke. I’d been feeling wobbly, but had spent the previous few months so totally focused on shedding the last remains of my American life there wasn’t time for emotion. Suddenly, the tears were falling furiously for having been denied. I wailed – for my family and friends, my house, my books, my beautiful things, my Prada bag, for God’s sake. And for what? The unknown. I was terrified that nothing would ever fill the void of what was gone. I would spend the rest of my life empty. But something kept pushing me forward, a belief in something more, more to life than pretty clothes and parties. More to me.

What would I do in France? I had no plan. I didn’t even speak the language. I had spent so much of my life exhaling – working, spending, striving and trying to please – that I needed to inhale, to be inspired.

When I finally arrived in France with my whole life funneled into two (well, OK, three) suitcases, I was exhausted. I moved into a remote 400-year-old farmhouse. It was nearing wintertime, though autumn’s vivid reds and golds still painted the wild landscape. The only sound came from the wind, which was relentless and bitterly cold. I learned to haul wood and build a fire. My thoughts were my only company as they kept repeating, ‘What the hell have you done?’ I moved between exhilaration and terror, faith and doubt, white wine and rosé.

I spent the first ten days clinging to the fireplace for warmth and the bottle for comfort, using my tear-soaked tissues as kindling. With no television to distract, I could stay by the fire all winter or I could create each day. The freedom was paralysing. But slowly, fear released her clutch and I began to paint a new picture of my life.

I ventured into the wild French landscape and was surrounded by beauty. I began taking long country walks. Me, the girl who considered a long walk to be from one end of the shopping mall to the other. Now I tramped for miles each day. I got lost but realised that I could always find my way. I learned to trust my instincts.

Tomorrow: A New Life – Part 3

*****

Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She is the Midlife Midwife™ offering 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.

 

 

I see “Begin Again” as an ideal theme for this season. We have the supreme opportunity now in the autumn of our midlife to begin again. How shall we reinvent our Selves? What new programs, projects and passions are on the horizon for us? Please send me your stories of change, transition, and transformation. Our shared experiences serve to inspire and empower us all. I found this great new beginnings piece in the Daily Mail, U.K.

Thanks.

xxQueen Mama Donna

 

A New Life – Part 1

By Crista Cloutier

Three years ago I fled an enviable career in the USA as a dealer in the high-powered international art world. Some called it a midlife crisis, but I prefer to think of it as a midlife correction. I simply couldn’t bear the idea of one more gallery opening, museum gala, or cocktail party. I wanted something different; to kick off my Jimmy Choos, run away and find something more authentic. And so I did.

I am not the first person to re-create her life. Indeed, as the world suffers from financial meltdowns, women everywhere are being forced to redefine themselves. Change can be frightening, especially if it’s not of one’s own making. But change can also bring opportunity, with the deepest rewards found in the effort.

On the surface, I had the perfect life: a gorgeous bungalow in sunny Arizona, frequent first-class travel, a stellar career in the glamorous art world. Parties peppered my diary, while shopping filled my weekends and my wardrobes.

This life came about by accident. I had studied photography at university. But somehow my sideline selling art to pay my way through college developed into my profession. Two decades later, as I approached my 40s, I was at the peak of my career, yet inside I was unfulfilled as I yearned to express my own creative urgings.

It began as I sat at my desk trying to shake what I thought were the Monday-morning blues. A colleague joked, ‘It’s days like these that make me want to move to France.’

Something in my heart sighed, ‘Yes.’

‘But that’s ridiculous,’ I thought. Ten years earlier I had spent some time at a small arts school for American students in a remote Provençal village. The idea of returning to this idyllic hamlet suddenly seized me. Perhaps I might rediscover the sense of inspiration that I’d experienced there years before? Was that the last time I’d felt inspired, I wondered?

As I flipped through a magazine dreamily, I remembered an American artist I’d met who lived there. What was his name? As I turned the page, my heart stopped. I have no memory for names whatsoever but I always remember pictures. There, in front of me, was an article about his work, the very artist I had just been thinking of who lived in Provence. I put down the magazine. I had made my decision.

The idea of leaving my life behind wasn’t rational but I believed I had received a sign. For that brief instant, I had hope that my life might be different, a better reflection of what I felt inside. I gripped my decision with single-minded determination. ‘This is your chance,’ something whispered to me.

Tomorrow: A New Life – Part 2

*****

Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She is the Midlife Midwife™ offering 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.

 

 

 

 

 

I see “Begin Again” as an ideal theme for this season. We have the supreme opportunity now in the autumn of our midlife to begin again. How shall we reinvent our Selves? What new programs, projects and passions are on the horizon for us? Please send me your stories of change, transition, and transformation. Our shared experiences serve to inspire and empower us all.

Thanks.

xxQueen Mama Donna

 

To Be Present to the Present

By Sister Joan Chittister  

Being where we are — immersed in it, aware of it, alert to it — may well be the secret to living well, to living fully. It is a lesson to be learned. In a culture based on motion it is no small trick to allow ourselves to be present to the present, to see what is in front of us. We only think we’re here. The problem is a perennial one, common to every time, every tradition.

In too many instances, we are really more likely to be on our way to somewhere else than present to the moment. We go through life watching our watches. We leave one party early in order to go to another one and by the end of the night we have enjoyed neither. We live with one foot in tomorrow at all times. We plan for tomorrow and prepare for tomorrow and fear tomorrow and wait for tomorrow with distracting fitfulness. Here is never good enough. What is, is not important to a people on the go. What is coming is always what really counts. What is yet to be had, yet to be seen, yet to be done, yet to be accomplished becomes the essence of life.

But life is every grain of sand in the hourglass. And it is running. And once run it is gone forever.

Too often, while we wait for life, it passes us by, leaves us up to our hearts in dissatisfaction and over our heads in wanting. We live overcome by losses and dissolved in spiritual ruin or wasted by a death of spirit, by a diminishment of enthusiasm, by the dissipation of hope. Yet all the while the present moment lies truly dormant within us.

*****

Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She is the Midlife Midwife™ offering 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.

 

 

I see “Begin Again” as an ideal theme for this season. We have the supreme opportunity now in the autumn of our midlife to begin again. How shall we reinvent our Selves? What new programs, projects and passions are on the horizon for us? Please send me your stories of change, transition, and transformation. Our shared experiences serve to inspire and empower us all.

Thanks.

xxQueen Mama Donna

 

Mommy Has Dreams, Too – Part 2

By Laura Munson, MT

Still, after a publishing rejection, I’d say, bittersweet, “Thank God I’m not published yet. How could I justify leaving my kids when they’re so young?” But deep down I was conflicted. I wanted that dream to come true with all of that heart that lived in them and lived in me. It was an inner war I fought every day.

And then in 2009, I got a book deal and everything changed. I had to rethink my motherhood. Suddenly deadlines had me seat-belted to my office chair for long hours, breaking only for meals. Homemade sauces percolating on the stove were forgotten for, yes, Stouffer’s frozen lasagna. A who-are-you-and-what-did-you-do-with-my-mother was in order, and I got it in eyeball rolls, dramatic exits, and out-of-the-blue crying fits. But the truth is that dream or no dream, a change in my husband’s career meant that we desperately needed the money. And this was what presented itself in the way of livelihood. I had his total support and my children’s blessing, so they said.

But then the travel began and I became a second-class citizen in my own home. I’d return, haggard after 12, cross-country, back-to-back events in 10 days, and the kids would ignore me. Suddenly it was “Dad, I need you to sign this for school,” and “Dad, where are my cleats?”

I liked that he was such a presence in their daily lives. I didn’t like that I wasn’t.

So I hired a therapist. “You need to tell them this is what career success looks like for now. Things are different. They’re still safe. You still love them. Children are manipulators. You’ve done nothing wrong.” But it didn’t feel that way. I felt that I had done something very wrong. And maybe it was because of the mother I’d been all those years.

Would they have been better off in day care? More well-adjusted, flexible, less reliant on a mother who eagerly pushed them on the swing of life; answered every why-is-the-sky-blue question. Maybe Legos don’t count as Architecture, and lemonade stands don’t speak much for Economics, nor Chutes and Ladders for Physics, nor bedtime discussions about God for World Religion, nor patching up playground-politics-gone-amuck in the way of Ethics. Maybe those efforts feel like a slap in the face when the creator of them is out the door again with her roller bag and a plane to catch.

In all my career dreams, I never imagined I’d lose my power in this little civilization. Or that I’d fail it. And no matter how many hugs I give, or muffins I make, or soccer games I drive eight hours in both directions to support… I can’t seem to redeem myself. Maybe it’s because they’ve had to swallow a sudden bitter pill: their mother is a human being with dreams and needs and talent. Didn’t they know this? Did I sell them a myth in Band-aids and bedtime stories? Did I omit the fact that dreams-come-true sometimes take you far from home? Why must I be the first to break their hearts?

*****

Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She is the Midlife Midwife™ offering 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.