The Queen of My Self

The Queen of My Self

Letting Go of All that Does Not Serve

posted by Donna Henes

On my birthday this year, a friend presented me with a gorgeous amber necklace that she had gotten in Russia twenty years ago before she immigrated to the United States. Though she felt that it did not suit her, she held onto it for two decades for sentimental reasons. When she gave it to me, she apologized for it not being a new store-bought thing, but I was thrilled. Not only does it suit me perfectly, but I was extremely touched by her sharing of this nostalgic gem.

And I completely understood her motivation for giving it away. It is common for people in midlife to display an overwhelming urge to purge, to clean out, throw out, refuse, release, discard, to distill and streamline all of our attachments. We refine our needs and tastes and now want to be surrounded by only those people, places, and things that add something positive to our lives.

If we are to practice living life with intention, purpose, and appreciation, we are called to take stock — on every level imaginable — material, mental, emotional, and spiritual. And we feel the need to evaluate everything in terms of its value to us. Do our belongings, attitudes, ideas, obligations, commitments, habits, goals, dreams, relationships, and wardrobes still fit us? Do they suit us and our current life style? Are they flattering? Do they please us? Do they continue to serve us? Do they feed us what we need? Or do they drain our energy and slow us down by the amount of maintenance that they require?

It seems to me that we spend the first half of our lives accumulating things and the second half getting rid of them, paring our possessions down to a manageable cache. At some point in our middle years, it is important to take the time to catalogue what it is we have, what we have accumulated, what we hold onto, what we have carried with us through the years, and what we would be better of letting go of. As we face the second half of our lives, it is prime time to check our baggage and lighten up our load.

With practice, we can distinguish which of our possessions and commitments expresses our true desires, needs, values, and aesthetics, and which do not. Which relationships serve us in a reciprocal manner, and which do not. Which engagements, involvements, and assignments are fulfilling and life-affirming and which are empty busywork. “It’s not so much how busy you are, but why you are busy,” The writer Marie O’Connerreminds us. “The bee is praised; the mosquito is swatted.”

A thorough house cleaning, internal as well as external, is a fabulous way to delineate the purpose of our lives. Letting go of the inessential creates an elegant order to our existence. An orderly house always seems like the invitation to a fresh start, which is why so many cultures incorporate a thorough house scrubbing, a clean sweep, as it were, as well as an internal ablution in their New Year’s rituals. Our messy thinking and sloppy habits come more easily into focus when our surroundings are tidy and beautiful and filled with only what is meaningful, so that we can release them, as well.

When we clear out the inessentials, we make space for ourselves to grow and expand to fill the void. With the chaff, the distractions, and dirty corners of our environments and minds cleared away, we can better see the structure of our lives, the foundations of our support, the bare bones that comprise our true Selves, and dedicate ourselves to living a more authentic life.

House Cleaning From the Inside Out 

* Throw out, re-cycle, or donate one thing every day. This is a great practice in claiming what is important to you and discarding what is not.

* Spend an evening in the closet playing dress up. Get rid of everything that that doesn’t fit your figure or your evolved Self-image.

* Eliminate one food from your diet that you know you should not eat. When you get used to living without it, eliminate one more.

* Send all of the novels that you know you will never re-read to a school or hospital library. And that pile of magazines, too. 

* Clean out your paper and computer files, your address book, old correspondence, and tax records. How much of that clutter is really relevant any more? 

* Do the same with your medicine cabinet and cosmetic drawers. How many of the products crammed in there merely mask superficial symptoms and flaws rather than enhance your essential strength and beauty?

* Remove yourself from situations and relationships that no longer nurture you. Refuse what does not interest you.

* Monitor your thoughts, and edit the negative, Self-derogatory ones in mid-stream. Eliminate stinking thinking.

* Reduce stress through yoga, exercise, breathing techniques, warm baths, sex, music, art, meditation.

* Eliminate the accumulated toxins in your body by fasting occasionally.

*Slough off the old, like a snake shedding its skin, or a butterfly its cocoon. Emerge renewed and energized.

 

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Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers 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 Want to Be a Crone — Someday

posted by Donna Henes

My maternal Grandmother died at 80. This was pretty old in her day. My mother died just short of her 80th birthday, which pains me still. She was not old. She did not look or act old. But she felt old. She lost interest in what had always pleased and sustained her, and thought that she was too old to pursue other interests. Really, she just gave up. I shouldn’t say, “just.” She did have cancer. But she gave up caring.

The Great Depression had robbed her of the college education that she craved. Once she became a mother and then a divorced woman with two kids to raise and no child support, she was too busy to think about developing her own passions. And by the time my brother and I were off on our own, she had gotten out of the habit of aspiring to inner growth.

And that is how she died. She quit. She simply quit in her spirit. She was tired and she gave in. On her deathbed, she felt her regrets. How incredibly sad to hear a really smart, successful, independent, dynamic woman bemoan the fact that she had not done this, that or the other thing that she had wanted to do.

My mother was an amazing role model for me in a great many ways, both positive and negative. Her midlife reinvention for herself was an inspiration to me that contributed to the formation of the Queen archetype for mature women. She was an extraordinary Queen in her middle age. Exemplary.

But I think that she thought that she had to give up her crown in old age. She saw nothing appealing about being a Crone. She hated her aging body and considered it a traitor. Nothing seemed to peak her enthusiasm. She worried about being debilitated and dependent. She did not seek, recognize or value the gifts, the huge benefits, of enhanced self-awareness and esteem presented to us during the aging process.

This is one debilitating attitude that I do not wish to emulate. My resistance to identifying myself as a Crone, while still in my middle years is not born of a fear of aging — especially considering the alternative. I am not afraid of aging. I am afraid of not aging! As Woody Allen put it, “I don’t want to be immortal through my work. I want to be immortal through not dying.”

I have absolutely every intention of being a very, very old woman, hopefully, the oldest woman who ever lived! My goal is to reach 100 years of wise age — with the caveat that I want to know that I am 100! I absolutely want to be a Crone. Just not yet.

When I grow up to be a Crone, I want to be a Grandma Moses, a Louise Nevelson, a Georgia O’Keefe, a Martha Graham, a Mother Teresa, a Maria Sabina or a Delaney sister — a truly stellar elder whose visionary influence extends far into the future. A wise and wooly sage who is wholly engaged.

But for now and the foreseeable future, I glory in my Queendom. I do plan to move on someday, maybe in my mid 70s, to the august domain of the Empress Crone. And you better believe that I will be taking my crown with me.

“I have found it to be true that the older I’ve become the better my life has become.”
-Doris Lessing

 

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

 

Empresses of Influence

posted by Donna Henes

The Queen is a mature woman who has conquered the challenges in Her life and claimed Her own royal power. She cuts through fear and ambivalence, takes charge, and establishes Herself as 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 places once the Queen has stepped into Her sovereignty. Now that Her situations and systems are established, Her life 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. Now that She is firmly rooted in Her best Self and acting for Her own benefit, She is free to reach out in ever increasing concentric circles and offer Her compassion, expertise, time, and money to people and causes that call to Her sense of response-ability.

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. “Life is the only real counselor,” Edith Wharton suggested, “wisdom unfiltered through personal experience does not become a part of the moral tissue.” Knowing Herself to be an inextricable, integral part of a greater whole, Her ministrations multiply to include the welfare of the entire world around her.

When the Queen assumes Her authority in the ever-greater realms of responsibility and takes it upon Herself to right the wrongs of the world, She ascends to a higher plateau of power. The Empress is the Queen writ large, the level of intensity of Her royal engagement exponentially expanded. Model monarch that She is, the Queen-become-Empress, operates from the deep and mighty reserves of Her own personal power and wisdom, wrought through Her dedicated willingness and ability to change, to always, always, change. She is committed to exploring, confronting, and enriching the undeveloped and underutilized parts of her body, mind, heart, and soul. By working to connect all of the constituent dots of Her many parts, the Queen is constantly becoming ever more of Whom She truly is — Her Highest Self, Her Extreme Royal Highness, the Empress.

Today, just as the cumulative damage to our Earth is reaching a perilous point of no return and our entire natural and cultural environment is in the throes of dangerous disconnection and dis-ease, we wise, mature, accomplished women are called upon to step up to the challenge and ascend the throne of conscious, conscientious leadership. It is incumbent upon us to use our considerable Queenly power, in whatever way seems appropriate to our individual skills and involvements, to stem the tide of unthinking aggression that can drown us all. In the same way that it was up to us, and only us, to redeem and transform our own lives, our own Selves, we need to grab the reigns and redirect and correct the negative and harmful conditions that exist in our community, our society, and our planet.

Rachel Carson, an Empress of the highest order, warned us, “We stand now where two roads diverge. But unlike the roads in Robert Frost’s familiar poem, they are not equally fair. The road we have long been traveling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the road—the one ‘less traveled by’ — offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of the earth.”

In the same way we Queen Empresses strive to create change for our selves, we can work to effect positive, sane, humane, and sustainable change for the greater good of all.The future we envision starts now, today. And the buck stops here, too, with each of us. To paraphrase Gandhi, we must be the future we wish to see. What we seed is what we get. Positive change need not be earth shaking or dramatic. It can be quite personal, subtle, and quiet, yet it does need to be rooted in positive intention and grown organically with great care and attention to the purity of the process. The ends do not — cannot — justify the means, because the means have a nasty way of becoming the end in the end. All we mortals ever have, from moment to moment is the means. It is our ways and means of thinking and acting that justify our lives.

The chief dispenser of order, measure, justice, and right relationship in all realms, the Queen’s rule is informed by Her keen holistic perspective, as well as the promptings of Her own intuitions. She holds the vision of a world community that is more inclusive, creative, joyful, respectful, and reverential. As She seeks to use the full force of Her personal power as an agent for positive change, the Empress does not turn away from imperfection, nor avert Her gaze from the gruesome details of life. She opens her eyes— as well as Her ears — even wider in order to witness, to learn, to help, and to heal.  Her heart, too, is now open, secure in the knowledge that She can rely safely upon Her instincts and abilities. Her past losses and pain have taught the Empress Queen to recognize the signs of pain and loss in others — a language She speaks thoroughly. Comprehending their need, She reaches out to them in sympathy, empathy, advocacy, succor, and support. Nor does She shrink from Her responsibilities to protect and preserve the very forces of life. The Empress opens Her mouth, as well, and speaks boldly Her truth with conviction and compassion that commands respect and response.

It is a big world out there and the plights and problems of humankind can seem insurmountable, impossible to change, but the Empress Queen knows all about change. Has She not been through the rapids of menopause, The Change, and come out the other side, altered forever, stronger and smarter by far? A Queen of Her own making, She has certainly changed and is still changing, is committed to continually change, and therefore, She knows that through effort, patience, and persistence, things can and do improve, that all things are possible. She is the living proof.The Empress does not bite Her tongue nor does She withhold Her views. She makes Her beliefs perfectly clear, assumes full response-ability for them, and then takes action to effect change for the betterment of all.

Personally, I do not think that it is a coincidence that just as the earth 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 be 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.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough
to turn the world upside down, all alone together
women ought to be able to turn it rightside up again.

 -Sojourner Truth, American abolitionist and U.S. General, 1797-1883

 

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

 

An Archetype for Us

posted by Donna Henes

What is an archetype? The literal definition of archetype is “the original pattern or model from which all things of a similar kind are copied or on which they are based; a model or first form; a prototype. Archetype also refers to an ideal example of a category, the quintessence of a class.”

In Jungian psychology, an archetype is an inherited pattern of thought or symbolic imagery derived from the past collective experience, which is present in the individual unconscious. An archetype is an image-idea, a stylized pattern that we carry within our psyche, a mythic model that guides our development and gives direction and meaning to our lives.

The Triple Goddess — The Maiden, the Mother and The Crone — offers women a role model for their developing youth, for their creative, nurturing years, and for their old age. But these archetypes don’t include me or other women in our middle years. They do not address our issues and needs. They do not even recognize our existence.

The old stereotypes simply do not apply to us. We haven’t been Maidens in decades, we are no longer Mother material, and we are definitely not old Crones. We women of a certain age who are excluded from the tripartite paradigm also need a model with which to identify.

We need a larger-than-life archetypal framework to help us to elevate our personal aging process to legendary proportions. A mythological mirror of our own midlife experience, so that when we look into its depths, we can see a clear reflection of our own potential.

When I could not find a role model within the Triple Goddess archetype to describe my life as a midlife woman, I created my own. Was this hubris? Who am I to conceive an archetype? Well, I am in fact, a proud member of the pioneering Sixties Generation, and consequently, I have a certain modest amount of experience in rebelling against the status quo of old systems and beliefs and striving to replace them with new, more inclusive and relevant ones.

Our generation has demonstrated time and again that it is possible to create our own characters, compose our own scripts, and author the sagas of our own lives. We are our own role models. Bereft of affirming depictions of our lives, today’s midlife women are more than ready, willing, and perfectly capable of creating our own.

Each one of us has a story, a myth, a legend to create — and to live. The shamanic assumption from which I operate is that every person has her own mission in this lifetime: her own path, her own dreams, her own symbols and sensibilities, her own visions and designs, her own way of learning, her own personalized hard-won lessons. That every one of us must figure out for ourselves the fullest, richest, most effective, ethical and satisfying way in which to do it; and moreover, that each and every one of us possesses the wisdom, the power and the response-ability to make it so.

In our search for new archetypes, we look to the past for grounding, look to the future for courage, look to each other for inspiration and support, and look to ourselves for the answers.

What is your vision of an ideal role model to guide you along the path of your life?

 

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

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