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.

 Thanks. xxQueen Mama Donna

 

When the planes flew into the Twin Towers, I was out of the country. It took me more than a week to be able to get past the sealed borders and return home. One thought consumed my mind during that agonizing week of separation from my house, pets, friends and the city that I loved. I craved to be of service to my community.

At that time I had served New York City as an urban shaman for 26 years. The New Yorker magazine had even dubbed me “the unofficial commissioner of public spirit of New York City. The World Trade Center had been the site of half of the seasonal celebration rituals that I had facilitated and so I was especially bereft at the loss of my public altar.

So my response to the terrible tragedy was to undertake a “Walk Your Talk Pilgrimage.” One by one, I engaged the people whose paths I crossed: friends, the UPS man, the guard at the bank, the waitress at the coffee shop, the washing machine repairman, the people who actually live, work and love in New York City. We engaged in these amazingly intimate, sweetly profound conversations that inevitably ended in a hug or an extra-firm handshake.

It was the human face of this tragedy and its resulting extraordinary state of affairs that I chose to focus on. I did not want to lose track of the myriad emotional and spiritual interconnections that people are capable of making — with each other, with their own best selves, with the greater universal good of all.

I experienced this kinder, gentler city the minute I got back to Brooklyn. A delivery guy was just leaving my building as I arrived home with all my heavy travel bags. When he saw me trying to wrestle them up the stairs, he ran to help me, thank goodness.

He wouldn’t accept a tip and insisted that he just wanted to help. When I asked him if all his relations were safe, he said that they were all fine, but that he felt terrible, because he wanted to do something to help. “You just did,” I reminded him. He was extremely pleased with the notion that this, too, was peace making.

Thank you.

On the way to the coffee shop with friends the next morning, I ran into my neighbor Monifa walking with another woman. We stopped right there in the middle of the street, traffic not withstanding. (And nobody honked.) “How are you?” “How are you?” “No one dead?” “Everyone ok?” We ran our eyes up and down each other looking for signs, for clues of damage. We all six embraced in relief and mutual comfort and then we introduced our selves to the ones in this circle who we didn’t know. We hugged first and asked names later! A sign, surely, of sanity in psychotic times. (And still nobody honked.)

Thank you.

Tomorrow: A Walk Your Talk Pilgrimage – 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™: http://www.donnahenes.net/queen/consult.shtm

***

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 the next while. 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

 

What I Know For Sure – Part 2

 By Dani Sutliff, Wi

So at the dawn of year 54, here is what I know for sure:

I know that my greatest contribution to the world was never what I did in the doing, but rather who I was in the being; in who I was (am) in relationship to God, myself and with others.

I know now that there were no ultimate solutions outside my self and that I was always the source for the acceptance, approval and connection I sought in other people, places and circumstances.

I know now that no-one but me expected me to have all the answers, be perfect and do it ‘right’ all by myself all the time, and that holding myself to those unreasonable standards was abusive, immoral and unfair.

I know now that there was always someone there to guide me, inspire me, encourage me and love me on my journey – but I was moving too fast through life to sit still long enough to listen. That my need to prove myself perfectly competent kept me from being humble enough to ask for help and open enough to receive it when it was offered.

I know now that life didn’t have to be lived with such busyness, urgency, intensity and always in terms of tomorrow. I know now how important it is to leave room to exhale and let go, and accept that despite my best attempts to confine it, control it, schedule it and/or manage it, life still happened on life’s terms.

I now know that ‘not having time’ for myself was a self-created, isolating and limiting illusion and that not making or taking time for myself was cruel and dishonoring to and of myself.

I know now how important it is to leave room for spontaneity and to allow life to sometimes go unscripted.

I know now that anger, resentment, grudges and anything else that stands in the way of love and forgiveness is meaningless in the broad scope of what’s truly important. I know now that true grace is in the quiet and silent moments of just being, and true joy is in the simplicity of taking a breath and being fully present in the moment with those I love and those who love me.

I know now the importance of “live and let live.” The importance of living my own life and letting others live theirs – of minding and attending to my own business and keeping my fingers out of theirs. I know that my commitment to another’s happiness or healing cannot be greater than their own commitment to inner happiness and healing.

I know now that caring for others and their needs doesn’t mean I sacrifice myself and my needs. That being compassionate isn’t akin to being a martyr, and that a modicum of selfish can be healthy.

I know now that misery does love company and birds of a feather flock together and it doesn’t have to be more complicated or pathological than that.

I know now that the quality of one’s life is not built on blind luck but rather on conscious choices. And that in each and every situation and circumstance that appears, there is choice about how we interpret, perceive and respond to life around us.

And mostly I know now that enjoying life should be of much greater concern than understanding it, defining it, confining it or controlling it.

That’s my story for DaniMonth. And yes, I’m sticking to it.

*****

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™: http://www.donnahenes.net/queen/consult.shtml

***

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 the next while. 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

 

What I Know For Sure – Part 1

By Dani Sutliff, Wi

The young girl that danced barefoot in Golden Gate Park singing about “The Age of Aquarius” is now the mature woman who has lived long enough to actually be a part of it’s dawning.

I have lived out more than half my life and the realization that I have more years behind me than I have ahead of me is a constant prompt to live each day fully.

I am a little dinged and dented in some places, a little worse for wear in others. It’s my grandmother’s cleavage that is now reflected back to me in the mirror, the firmness of my once young body has softened and in some places fallen, and my face is lined with reminders of all the times I stood, squinting into the sun despite all the warnings not to.

People no longer express amazement at how old my children are or that I am soon to be a grandmother because I look “old enough” to have children my age and be a grandmother.

Yes, I have crossed that line of demarcation – living in the societal limbo of being somewhat invisible – not young enough to be the center of attention or old enough to be listened to – too old and yet too young to have doors opened and held for me.

I have the losses that come from 54 years of living out loud and loving with passion. I have my regrets, my wasted moments and lost opportunities. I have the things I wished I had said and didn’t, the things I have said and wished I hadn’t, and the things I did that I wish could be given back to me for a ‘do-over.’

But, so much more importantly than that, I’ve had what can only be described as those times I hit the home run ball so far out of the ballpark, it landed in the next county. The times filled with such incredible joy, abundance, unconditional love, and profound grace that it took my breath away.

It is the marination and culmination of both that now make up my life. Free from the confusion, compulsion and complications of changing roles and hormones, I now stand ready to reclaim me and speak my truth – regardless of whether anyone outside my self cares to listen. It is no longer important whether the world outside myself or anyone in it thinks I have anything of value to share. I know (inwardly) that I do and that’s what matters most.

Every year during DaniMonth I make a handwritten list of what I have learned about life. My truths as they are. It’s one of the rituals that not only marks but also honors another rotation around the sun.

So at the dawn of year 54, here is what I know for sure:

Tomorrow: What I Know For Sure – 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™: http://www.donnahenes.net/queen/consult.shtml

***

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall always feels like New Year to me. It carries so much more significance than does January 1. The first crisp hint of a chill in September always shakes me out of my summer lethargy, wakes me, makes me more alert. It focuses and concentrates my attention. I can smell the possibilities of a fresh start in the air.

Reinvigorated by the sunny days and laze of summer, life now begins again in earnest in schools, government agencies, cultural institutions and businesses across the country. There is an unmistakable aura of enthusiasm and energy in the air, a palpable sense of intensified determination. This annually renewed resolve seems so much more natural than the resolutions we make at the turn of the calendar year.

Fall jumpstarts everything, including itself. Labor Day has become the popular indicator of autumn, rather than the equinox, which occurs three weeks later. In the same way, Memorial Day, which predates the solstice by three weeks ushers in the civic summer season. By this reckoning, school starts in the fall.

Most of us have been indelibly imprinted with the excitement and optimism of the first day of school. There is nothing quite so inspiring as buying blank notebooks, pencils you have to sharpen yourself and some brand new white blouses. So clean, so fresh, so hopeful.

The Jewish New Year falls in the fall. My memories of the High Holy Days that I celebrated as a child with my family have little to do with organized religion. Rather, I remember a domestic sense of auspicious new beginnings: major house cleaning, usually a new outfit to wear to temple and best, we ate off of the good china with the real silverware.

I think of my birthday as being in the fall, but it is actually four days before the equinox. Our birthday is our own personal New Year. It is an annual reunion that we have with ourselves, and attendance is required. Our birthday is our periodic opportunity to take serious personal stock. “How am I doing?” as old Ed Koch, former mayor of New York City, would always ask. Like any new beginning, our birthday is an ideal time to sharpen our priorities, realign our perspective and rededicate ourselves to living the very best life that we can.

“How old! and yet how far I am from being what I should be….I shall from this day take the firm resolution to study….to keep my attention always  well fixed on whatever I am about, and strive everyday to become less trifling and more fit for            what, if Heaven wils (sic) it, I’m someday to become!”

 – Princess Victoria of Great Britain, her diary entry on her 18th birthday

Every Autumn I take time out of time to evaluate my past experiences and actions and to prepare myself mentally, physically and spiritually for the coming year. I usually retreat to some extent and fast to some degree during the two-week period surrounding my birthday. The new and full Harvest Moon, and the equinox usually coincide.

This experience is intended to center me and slow me down. It is my birthday gift to myself. During my fast/retreat I devote myself completely to cleansing and centering myself: body, mind and spirit in readiness for the future. I rinse my system with fresh water and teas, I clean my house and altars and I use yoga, meditation and t’ai chi to flush my mind clear of the mental detritus that I have accumulated.

Since the early 1980’s, I have kept a birthday book. Therein, I ritually record an accounting of the past year. I process my impressions and my life lessons. How have I grown? What have I learned? And what is it that I just can’t seem to get through my thick skull? I plot my progress. I ponder my possibilities. I pour over my problems. I plan my goals.

This civic fall also marks the ten-year anniversary of September 11. Let us mark this propitious time by reflecting honestly upon our vulnerability in today’s terrifying political/economic climate, our culpability in the deadly repercussions that arise from our own chauvinistic attitudes and deeds, as well as our impressive individual and communal capacity for extraordinary acts of courage and devotion.

May this new season signal the beginning of a new era of planetary peace and plenty.

We will open the book. Its pages are blank.

We are going to put words on them ourselves.

The book is called Opportunity and its first

chapter is New Year’s Day.

– Edith Lovejoy Pierce

 

I see “Begin Again” as an ideal theme for the next while. We have the supreme opportunity now in 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

*****

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™: http://www.donnahenes.net/queen/consult.shtml

***

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