The Queen of My Self

The Queen of My Self

The Power of Perspective

posted by Donna Henes

When we allow our Selves to expand and grow, when the situations of our lives start to flow, when the going is good and the living gets easier, it seems only natural to be thankful.

But what about all those times when nothing seems to budge? When we are stuck in the rush hour traffic jam of daily life and our bodies and souls start to feel like banged up bumper cars? When we are tested and pounded and pummeled. When things seem so crazy and out of control we wonder what do we have to be thankful for?

The greatest gift of the mind is, perhaps, perspective. Our reflective, rational side keeps us in balance, helps us from running wild with our myopic emotions. “Well,” my dear Daile once calmly commented in the midst of an intense work disaster that would normally have driven her quite mad, “at least nobody died.”

That’s it, exactly. If we have a healthy sense of perspective, our lives become infinitely more precious to us and we automatically operate with an attitude of gratitude. In the words of Queen Doris Lessing, gratitude is “to feel heat strike the skin, a delight to stand upright, knowing the bones are moving easily under the flesh.”

Those of us who have ourselves been ill, or who care-give others, have earned a certain understanding of this point of view. Aging helps, too. Even so, for most of us it is a daily, hourly, minutely learned lesson — one that we easily forget. One that we would be wise to remember. Despite the fears of economic doom, we all have an amazing abundance of abundance in our lives. Let us give thanks.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…. It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.
- Melodie Beattie

We are in possession of the greatest gift of being alive. Let us appreciate the bountiful blessings of breath and food and love.
All we have in this world is our life. We owe it to ourselves, the living, to be very, very grateful to be alive in this magnificent world. We owe it to the dead to honor their presence and influence in our life and times. We owe it to the entire complicated universe to live our precious life with full consciousness, conscience and compassion.

And we owe it to Life, itself, to wake up each morning and retire each night filled with reverence and awe at the mighty miracle of it all, humbled, to have been even an infinitesimal part of the wonder, the wisdom, the intricately woven web of the world.

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay
attention, how to fall down
into the grass…
how to be idle and
blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been
doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to
do with your one wild and precious life?”

- Mary Oliver
“The Summer Day”

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.

Two Queen Events of Interest

posted by Donna Henes

Many women send me announcements of upcoming events and occasionally one or two stand out as being of special interest to Queens. Here are two events, both taking place on December 2, 2010. One is in Brooklyn, NY and the other in Philadelphia, PA.

Curated by Martha Wilson

December 1, 2010 through January 2, 2011
Opening: Thursday, December 2 from 6 to 8 PM

“…..She was as prominent as a bitch in heat at that hour, in that street… her other guise no one would have seen her, literally, she would have been invisible.”
- From The Summer Before The Dark by Doris Lessing
(Bantam Books, 1973, p.199)

At Her Age examines how women at any period in their life, old or young, view their changing bodies. The exhibition addresses the questions: “How does age affect experiencing one’s sexual/sensual life?” and “How does age impact one’s evolving personal and social relationships?”

While some may perceive older women as inconsequential or asexual, they personally may experience increasing knowledge of themselves. Younger women may experience curiosity/fear/pleasure about the changes in their own bodies due to age.

The exhibition includes the work of: Elaine Angelopoulos, Roslyn Bernstein, Jennie Hagevik Bringaker, Yvonne Brooks, Barbara Ciurej and Lindsay Lochman, Adele Crawford, Sally Curcio, Agnes Denes, Margaret Mary Downey, Sally Edelstein, Amanda Gale, Danielle Giudici Wallis, Suzy Lake, Zoe Mackler, Tala Oliver Mateo, Anna Mayer, Jen Mazer, Linda Montano, Sarah H. Paulson, Nancy Rakoczy, Abigail Simon, Annie Sprinkle and Elizabeth Stephens, Robin Tewes, and Barbara Zucker.

About the Curator: Martha Wilson is an artist and Founding Director of Franklin Furnace Archive, Inc., a museum she established in her TriBeCa storefront loft in lower Manhattan. Since its inception in 1976, Franklin Furnace has presented and preserved temporal art: artists’ books and other multiples produced internationally after 1960; temporary installations; and performance art.

111 Front Street, #228
Brooklyn, NY
Gallery hours: Wednesday – Sunday, 11 – 6 pm.


December 2, 7PM

Cleopatra’s Other Sisters is a discussion centered on the history, symbolism and controversy of Cleopatra and the queens of Africa who preceded her.

Dr. Molefi Asante
Professor, Department of African American Studies at Temple University

Dr. D. Zizwe Poe
Assistant Professor of History at Lincoln University

Dr. Ama Mazam
Associate Professor of African Amwserican Studies at temple University

Free admission

The Franklin Institute
222 North 20th Street
Philadelphia, PA
215 448-1200

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.

Farewell to the Chief Queen

posted by Donna Henes

In honor of Aung San Suu Kyi and to celebrate her release, and with a nod to Election Day, this week’s theme is admirable women leaders of democracy.

Farewell to the Chief Queen

Wilma Mankiller the first female Chief of the Cherokee Nation, died this year at the age of 64. She was one of the nation’s most visible American Indian leaders and one of the few women to lead a major tribe.
Wilma Pearl Mankiller was born near Rocky Mountain, Oklahoma in 1945, the sixth of eleven children. She first tasted the effects of federal policy toward Indians when as a child, her family ended up in a housing project in San Francisco thanks to the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Indian Relocation Program. She spent the rest of her life attempting to improve the lot of her people. When she was 17, she married and had two daughters, Felicia and Gina.

In 1969, when she was 24, she got what she called “an enormous wake-up call” and took her first step into Indian activism by participating in the 19-month occupation of Alcatraz Island.
“We’ve had daunting problems in many critical areas, but I believe in the old Cherokee injunction to ‘be of a good mind.’ Today it’s called positive thinking.”
After getting divorced in 1975, Mankiller moved back to her family’s land in Oklahoma. By 1983 she was elected deputy chief of the Cherokee Nation, alongside Ross Swimmer, who was serving his third consecutive term as principal chief. In 1985, Chief Swimmer resigned to take the position as head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. This allowed Mankiller to become the first female principal chief. She was freely elected in 1987, and re-elected again in 1991 in a landslide victory, collecting 83% of the vote. In 1995, Mankiller chose not to run again for Chief largely due to health problems.
Chief Mankiller faced many obstacles during her terms in office. At the time she became chief, the Cherokee Nation was male-dominated. Such a structure contrasted with the traditional Cherokee culture and value system, which instead emphasized a balance between the two genders. Over the course of her three terms, Mankiller made great strides to bring back that balance and reinvigorate the Cherokee Nation through community-development projects where men and women work collectively for the common good.
“I try to encourage young women to be willing to take risks, to stand up for the things they believe in, and to step up and accept the challenge of serving in leadership roles.”
As the first female chief of the Cherokees, Mankiller was less of an activist and more of a pragmatist. She was criticized for focusing almost exclusively on social programs, instead of pushing for smoke shops and high-stakes gaming. The projects she implemented included establishing tribally owned businesses (such as horticultural operations and plants with government defense contracts), improving infrastructure (such as providing running water to the community of Bell, Oklahoma), and building a hydroelectric facility.
For many of us, water simply flows from a faucet, and we think little about it beyond this point of contact. We have lost a sense of respect for the wild river, for the complex workings of a wetland, for the intricate web of life that water supports.
- Sandra Poste

During her tenure, she led the tribe in tripling its enrollment, doubling employment and building new health centers and children’s programs. She took Indian issues to the White House and met with three presidents. She earned a reputation for facing conflict head-on and she never ran away from a battle.

Despite her soft-spoken ferocity and her feminist stance, her name, Mankiller, did not reflect her social views – Mankiller is actually a Cherokee military title, which was adopted by one of her ancestors. But she did kid about it, often delivering a straight-faced, “Mankiller is actually a well-earned nickname.”
Continual struggles with her health appeared not to deter her. A 1979 car accident nearly claimed her life and resulted in 17 operations. She developed the muscular disorder myasthenia gravis and had a kidney transplant in 1990. Mankiller had also battled lymphoma, breast cancer and several other health problems, including stage 4 metastatic pancreatic cancer, which took her life.
Queen Mankiller declared that she was “mentally and spiritually prepared for this last journey” in a statement released by the tribe in the last month of her life. “I learned a long time ago that I can’t control the challenges the creator sends my way, but I can control the way I think about them and deal with them,” she said
“I want to be remembered as the person who helped us restore faith in ourselves.”
And so shall you be. Chief. Queen. Peaceful Warrior. Role Model.

Like water, be gentle and strong. Be gentle enough to follow the natural paths of the earth, and strong enough to rise up and reshape the world.
- Brenda Peterson

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.

The Queen Who Would Be President – Part 2

posted by Donna Henes

In honor of Aung San Suu Kyi and to celebrate her release, and with a nod to Election Day, this week’s theme is admirable women leaders of democracy.

The Queen Who Would Be President – Part 2

Her candidacy attracted a widely diverse coalition of laborers, suffragists, Spiritualists, and communists, among others, who often had opposing positions. The need for governmental reform was the one platform that they all agreed upon. Although few seriously thought Victoria Woodhull would win, they knew her campaign would send a message to Washington that it was time for a woman in the White House.

I now announce myself as candidate for the Presidency. I anticipate criticism; but however unfavorable I trust that my sincerity will not be called into question.
Instead of debating Victoria on the issues, her opponents issued public attacks on her personal life and morals. Sound familiar? They called her everything from a witch to a prostitute. They accused her of having affairs with married men.
The rumors eventually led Victoria and her family to be evicted from their home. They spent one night literally homeless on the streets of New York because landlords were afraid to rent to the “Wicked Woodhull.”
Woodhull’s campaign was notable not only because of her gender, but through her association with Frederick Douglass, which stirred up controversy about the mixing of whites and blacks and fears of miscegenation.
The Equal Rights Party hoped to use these nominations to reunite suffragists with civil rights activists, since the exclusion of female suffrage from the Fifteenth Amendment two years earlier had caused a substantial rift.
Queen Victoria faced a myriad of obstacles to election besides the obvious one of running when women couldn’t even vote. One major stumbling block was campaign fund-raising. When she began her run, she had personal funds to draw from, but eventually her money ran out and she couldn’t get the support she needed to launch a formidable campaign.
“The press suddenly divided between the other two great parties, refused all notice of the new reformatory movement. The inauguration of the new party, and my nomination, seemed to fall dead upon the country; and . . . a new batch of slanders and injurious innuendoes permeated the community in respect to my condition and character.”
Election Day found the first American female presidential candidate in jail. The United States government had arrested her under the Comstock Act for sending “obscene” literature through the mail. The alleged obscenity wasn’t pornography, rather it was an article exposing the extramarital affair conducted by the popular Reverend Beecher, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s younger brother and one of the nation’s most prominent clergymen with Lib Tilton, the wife of Beecher’s best friend, Theodore Tilton.
At first, people took the side of the government. They were glad to see the “Wicked Woodhull” in jail for besmirching the reputation of a favored celebrity. But eventually, people realized that free speech was endangered since Victoria, her sister Tennie and her husband Colonel Blood were in jail for publishing what they believed to be the truth.
It didn’t matter to the government, whether the article was true or not. Their intention was to ruin Voctoria Woodhull and her influential newspaper. Some members of the press joined the attack. A Chicago editor admitted to running a campaign to destroy her. He said, “Editors know that all she has said about Beecher is true, and we must either endorse her and make her the most popular woman in the world, or write her down and crush her out; and we have determined to do the latter.”
The scandal erupted into numerous trials for obscenity and libel. Victoria was on the defensive and was arrested eight times. The Beecher-Tilton trial was the biggest news since President Lincoln had been assassinated. It received more coverage than the impeachment of President Johnson.
Victoria, Tennie and Colonel Blood were eventually acquitted of any crimes, but the lawsuits ruined them. They spent a fortune in legal bills and bail. They lost their stock brokerage. The government confiscated their printing press, their personal papers and their brokerage accounts.
The federal government was successful in its malicious prosecution. The resulting economic demise coupled with the stress of receiving blackmail letters and death threats, bankrupted its first female presidential candidate financially and emotionally.
Victoria Woodhull was a creative and courageous soul with strong abilities, notable accomplishments and provocative dreams. She promoted shocking changes in the prevailing attitudes about sexuality and the family structure that frightened and embarrassed her contemporaries.
Ever audacious, she challenged male-dominated organizations and institutions. She attempted to use existing law and the political system to achieve her vision of equality and justice in a more egalitarian society.
She was a Queen of Finance, a Queen of the Quill, a Queen of Women’s Rights, a Queen of Social Change, but most importantly, Victoria Woodhull was Queen of Her Self. She spoke her truth and walked her walk and put her money where her mouth is.
May we follow the path that she pioneered.
“The women of the country have the power in their own hands, in spite of the law and the government being altogether of the male order.
If Congress refuse to listen to and grant what women ask, there is but one course left then to pursue. What is there left for women to do but to become the mothers of the future government?”

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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