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The Queen of My Self

The Queen of My Self

Women and Soft Power in Business

posted by Donna Henes

 
Here is an interesting article from the Harvard Business Review that adds another dimension to this ongoing exploration of women’s relationship to power.

Women and Soft Power in Business
By Vineet Nayar
 
The leadership of women in politics, business, and society is becoming evident across the globe. Growing numbers of women are becoming political leaders, the most recent being Dilma Rouseff, who took over as Brazil’s first woman president. She follows in the footsteps of other female politicians such as Chile’s Michelle Bachelet, Argentina’s Cristina Kirchner, and Germany’s Angela Merkel. Last year, India even reserved a third of the seats in its legislature for women.

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Women are also rising to the forefront in other parts of government. In November 2010, for instance, several women played key roles during U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to India. The ones in the spotlight were of course Michelle Obama and Sonia Gandhi. In addition, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton helped shape Indo-U.S. ties, as did a troika of Indian women bureaucrats: Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao; India’s U.S. Ambassador Meera Shankar; and Joint Secretary (Americas) Gaitri Kumar.

This trend represents the growing need for soft power in today’s world. As defined by Joseph S. Nye Jr., the former dean of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, soft power is the ability to influence or lead through persuasion or attraction, by co-opting people rather than coercing them. Soft power isn’t the exclusive preserve of women; U.S. President Obama, for instance, effectively uses soft power.

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However, women are more inclined than are men to use soft power through tools such as dialogue and engagement rather than using the threat of arms or exclusion. Research has shown that women are excellent mediators, great networkers, and they place more value on building relationships than do men. They also keep cool during crises.

Few would disagree that corporate leaders need to display a healing touch in today’s horribly bruised business environment. Could women provide the much-needed soft power that will help rebuild confidence in business?

Many companies are recognizing the value of women leaders. As Sylvia Hewlett recently pointed out, interest in gender diversity is rising in post-recession Europe. Some Canadian companies have adopted non-binding targets for appointing women to leadership positions. This is leading to a slow increase in the number of women in senior positions, reports The Globe and Mail.

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Despite these pockets of change, however, gender diversity is seriously lacking in the corporate world, with just 5% of corporate leaders being women.

At the risk of being trapped in the crossfire, I’d like to cast a vote in favor of women. The current environment makes it imperative to recognize the unique characteristics female executives possess, and CEOs must encourage women so as to bring about a much-needed transformation in business.

* 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.

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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 Queen: Lioness of the Psyche

posted by Donna Henes

After putting out the call for thoughts and stories about women’s relationship to power, I received this note:

Dear Donna,
In a marvelous synchronicity, my latest blog post, which came out this morning is about the exact same thing: how to empower the Queen. We’re riding the same wave about women, power, and authority; just coming from slightly different directions and using different language and imagery — except for the fact that we both used the same phrase about putting our money where our mouth is. I love it. Lead on, Queen Donna.
– Jeanie

Here is her wonderful blog. Enjoy it and send me your thoughts on the subject, too.

The Queen: Lioness of the Psyche
By Dr. Jean Raffa, FL & NC

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The Queen archetype is the feminine authority of the psyche whose natural instinct is to create lawful order and moral virtue by nurturing caring relationships. Most of us would like to empower our Queens but how do we go about it? Essentially, it is a four-step process of listening to our conscience and obeying its advice, questioning outworn morality, acquiring self-knowledge, and developing an authentic personal ethic rooted in humility and love.

Step 1: Listening. Consideration and respect for others tend to develop naturally in children who are well-loved by responsible parents. Of course, social learning backfires when a child’s models are unkind and anti-social. But most of us can learn to listen to our conscience, which, like a good mother, tells us when we’ve done something wrong. Have you ever felt guilty for lying or saying something hurtful? Or betrayed a value you cherished and then felt ashamed for being a hypocrite? If so, your ego has listened to your Queen. But the Queen is not just the voice of society’s conscience. She is also a leader who urges us to “put our money where our mouth is.” At some point we need to choose our battles and act on her advice. Have you ever confronted a bully at the risk of being publically ridiculed? Or withdrawn your loyalty from a politician, media personality or religious leader who acts out of their own self-interest and lust for power? If so, you have followed the Queen’s guidance. You’re still not finished, though!

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Step 2: Questioning. Life is about change; so is the feminine principle. When we start noticing that we and others are suffering, it gets harder to tell the difference between right and wrong. This leads to a time of questioning and challenging the old Queen’s ethic to make way for improvements. The inner force that urges us to change is, in fact, our evolving Queen.

Step 3: Searching. The thing that makes us evolve is self-knowledge. Journaling, dreamwork, therapy, study and meditation all help. Why is this step important? Because until your ego grows roots deep into the unconscious where it meets its savage twin, your virtue will be shallow and your choices will be influenced by every passing breeze. An ego that has not met its shadow feels self-righteous and morally superior. Sociopaths feel the same way. Sometimes the only way to learn the truth about ourselves is to face an intolerable moral dilemma that pits us against the Self. Either way we choose will feel wrong and right at the same time. This time of suffering and searching in the dark is our initiation into authenticity.

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Step 4: Being. If we can tolerate the tension until we see our capacity for evil and if we are truly contrite, we will bow to the Self’s authority and our dilemma will be resolved without any help from our ego. Then we will acknowledge the Queen’s sovereignty as the feminine half of the Self, the lioness of the psyche. Then she will bless us with humility and compassion. Then the old need to appear virtuous will be replaced by simple, natural caring, which is all we need to be virtuous.

* 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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Shine a Light on Winter Darkness

posted by Donna Henes

 
Even though the post-solstice days are getting longer — by approximately two minutes a day — the accrual is so gradual that we don’t really notice it for quite a few weeks. In the meantime, most of us grow quickly tired of the dark days, the long nights, the chilled winds, snow and ice of winter that keep us inside more than we might like.

Some of us are affected more than others and manifest boredom, depression, exhaustion or burn out. In some cases, folks who suffer from Seasonal Affect Disorder display symptoms of extreme SADness.
 
When these gloomy moods overtake us, we usually look for external stimulation, and rarely look inside where the cold emptiness begins. But the winter-weary solution exists within ourselves where we can find greater control and empowerment.

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The challenge is to see every day as a good day with its own special charms and offers of pleasure and gratification. And the trick is to shift our perception so that we are able to see and experience our situation, whatever it might be, in a more positive light.

Here are some strategies that we can employ to brighten our mood on even the darkest of days:

Changing our consciousness to a lighter one can be as simple as turning on a light. Every day during winter at about 4:00 PM, I turn on every light in every room of the house. This practice really goes against my upbringing as well as my fervent green tendencies. As a child I was admonished to turn on a light only when I enter a room, and reminded to turn it off again when I leave it. I couldn’t agree more, but I find it cheering to have the lights all ablaze. And though it makes my electric bill more expensive, I figure it is way cheaper than therapy!

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Even the smallest change in our environments, whether at home or at work, can lighten our moods and cheer our spirits. Moving things, even ever so slightly, can brighten our field of vision. Try rearranging your altar items, changing around your knick-knacks, moving a piece of furniture from here to there.

Raise the blinds, throw open the shutters and curtains, and let the light shine in. Sit by a window and look out, gaze meditatively within or read. Bask in the warmth and absorb the light.

Bring flowers and tropical plants into your house and office. Their lush greenery and fragrant blossoms reminiscent of summer will surely perk you up. 

Light candles on your altar, on the dinner table, at your bedside. Try a candlelight meditation. Breathe in the flickering light and absorb it in your heart. As the Chinese proverb advises, “It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.”

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Wear bright colors and sparkly jewelry. Dye your hair. Paint your toenails. Eat colorful foods and decorate the table with cheery linens, china and centerpieces. Listen to lively music.

Cook with lots of spices. Warm yourself from the inside out with soups and stews redolent with cayenne and curry. Drink ginger tea and cider steeped in cinnamon. These are all blood warmers.

Exercise to stimulate and bring warmth and energy to your body. Try some new classes in pilates, yoga, martial arts, or weight training. Put on some hot salsa and dance your butt off.

Go outside at some point in the early afternoon at the height of the sun, however bleak it might be. This will reset your biological clock and counteract the effects of SAD.

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Dress warmly and take walks in nature, be it in the country or an urban park. Appreciate the stark winter landscape, the sculptural branch formations of the bare trees, the subtle, delicate shades of dried grasses, the moody hues of the clouds, the sparkling ice crystals that form on leaves, bark and water. Enjoy the glorious beauty of the season.
 
Take long, hot baths with fragrant scents, soothing music and more candlelight. Dress your bed in cozy flannel sheets and down comforters, then spend more time there — resting, recharging, regenerating.

Massage yourself with luxurious heated oils. Feel the warmth suffuse your body with relaxation and comfort. Massage someone else with warm hands and heart. Light the sex fires and share the body heat of desire.

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Connect with sunny, cheerful, positive people. Whiners and complainers drain our energy and deplete our inner reserves making us feel tired and depressed for no real reason of our own.

Do political or charitable volunteer work. Feeling of use charges our batteries and sharing with the needy warms our hearts and give us an inner glow.

Then, before you know it, spring will be here and you will enter the light half of the year with a bright spirit and a lightness of being.

People are like stained glass windows, they sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.
-Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

 ***
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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I Just Stood Up for Myself

posted by Donna Henes

Here is a response to my request for empowerment stories. Thank you, Mambo Queen, for your candor and your courage. Good for you!
 
I Just Stood Up for Myself…And It Feels Good
By Mambo Queen
 
My ex-husband has been putting the full-court press on me to get back with him ever since he went to rehab. Since he’s been out, he’s been living in a sober house, and has about 90 days sober today. It’s always been more difficult for me to deal with him in times like this though, because I feel like I have to be “encouraging” and “supportive” and it sometimes causes me to not be as firm with my boundaries.

I’ve had to talk with him sometimes regarding business, and sometimes I have returned calls just to “be nice” or to “be a friend to him while he’s trying.” Frankly, I shouldn’t even put that last in quotes, because I would like to just be A FRIEND to him, but I’ve known for a while that he always misconstrues my niceness, and never seems to listen to me when I tell him that I’m in a relationship and don’t want to get back together with him.

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Well, today he told me in no uncertain terms that since he can’t seem to find a job, he’s going to “go homeless” after two weeks, in a last ditch effort to prove to me that he can’t live without me. So he will do this to test me and see how much I do or do not care about him. He also said that he could tell I didn’t care if he lived or died, so maybe he would just die.

I told him I refused to be his prisoner any longer. I told him he has continued to make me feel trapped and like I am not free to live my life or choose who I am romantically involved with, because I have been so afraid that he would do something stupid, but that I wasn’t going to be a victim of that behavior anymore.

I told him that I did care about him and what happened to him, but that if he was foolish enough to choose homelessness or death because he couldn’t be with me, that I refused to believe for a second longer that that was in any way my fault.

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When he asked how I knew for sure I would never want to be with him again, even if he continued to change, I told him that sometimes love dies, and that while I couldn’t predict the future, the fact that my love had not revived in over two years should be a sign to him that it wasn’t coming back, as it was to me.

I told him that one thing I have learned about myself in all of this is that when someone punches me in the face, it does tend to make me lose romantic love for them. He said he can’t believe I can’t forgive him for that. I said I have forgiven you. That is why I want to be your friend. That is why I will allow you around our daughter, because you are sober. That does not mean I want to be your wife or your girlfriend.

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He said our daughter needs us to raise her together. I said if you continue to stay sober, I would be happy to be a co-parent with you, but you have never seemed to want that, only me. So that part is up to you.

I feel a little bit scared, a little bit sad. But mainly, I feel GOOD.

* 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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