Advertisement

The Queen of My Self

The Queen of My Self

6 Things French Women Can Teach Us About Aging Gracefully

posted by Donna Henes

By Shelley Emling

Before moving to the New York City area, I lived in London for seven years. During that period, I traveled more than two dozen times to France, a place where five- or six-week vacations are the norm and many people retire comfortably at 60 or younger. I made many wonderful French friends and was more than a little awed at the way they aged so gracefully.

Are they perfect? Of course not. But certainly I admired how so many of them stayed trim while enjoying coq au vin, baguettes, andouillettes, eclairs and fondue while Americans struggled with their weight while gorging on diet soda and Lean Cuisines. I also admired the way they purchased clothes selectively, carried themselves confidently and devoured life every chance they got.

Advertisement

After speaking with a few of these friends, I’ve come up with a list of six things the French can teach us about aging well. Do you agree? Let us know in comments. And if there are things the Americans can teach THEM about aging, we’d like to hear about that as well.

1) That women of all ages can be the sensual love interests — and not just the matronly grandmothers — in popular movies.
Just consider Catherine Deneuve, 69, or Isabelle Huppert, 60, or Juliette Binoche, 49. These and other older French actresses such as Nathalie Baye, 65, and Sandrine Bonnaire,46, continue to nab meaty roles. In an American movie industry dominated more by the teeny-bopper set, it’s hard to even name an older sex symbol other than, perhaps, Rachel Welch who’s still, at 72, pretty darn sexy.

Advertisement

2) That less is best when it comes to makeup — but that doesn’t mean you should skimp on skincare.
Studies show that French women spend more of skin care products than their neighbors in Italy, Spain, Germany or the UK. Overall, nearly two-thirds of French women — or 62 percent — use anti-wrinkle products. It’s a different story when it comes to wearing makeup. Wearing too much, according to French women, makes you look old.

3) That sex should continue to be important.
Studies show that 90 % of French women over the age of 50 remain sexually active compared with only 60 percent of American women. But research points to a great interest in sex among those over 50 — so why not keep it going?

Advertisement

4) That having just a handful of clothing items that fit perfectly is a lot better than having a whole closet full of items that aren’t all that great.
American women have a habit of splurging for unnecessary items whereas French women make a habit of purchasing maybe 10 indispensable clothing items each year. French designer Anne Fountaine, known for her white shirts, once told Forbes magazine that “besides a beautiful blouse, every woman should have a great pair of jeans, black pants, a perfect skirt, a perfect little black dress and a jacket for each season.”

5) That walking is the best exercise.
French women often look askance at American women who talk about going to the gym. Instead of furiously working out in zumba classes, French women tend to incorporate walking into their daily routines. They take the long way home when walking the dog; they climb stairs instead of taking the elevator. They also reject the notion “no pain, no gain,” choosing instead a more sustained — albeit more moderate — exercise plan.

Advertisement

6) That what you eat — and how much you eat — are of vital importance.
If you’ve ever dined out with French friends, you’ll notice that they eat smaller portions of more dishes — instead of larger portions of fewer dishes. They eat more vegetables, drink more water and think more about the good things they want to eat rather than fret all the time about the bad stuff. When it comes to drinking, they tend to avoid hard liquor, opting for a glass or two of wine with their meal.

 

***
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.

 

Advertisement

Payback Time

posted by Donna Henes

Lately I’ve seen several outrageous television commercials that blithely extol the benefits of throwaway dust rags and floor mops and disposable baby bibs, of all things. Apparently the landfills are not yet filled to over-flowing capacity with pampers as I had assumed. As it is, every American uses an average of 4-6 trees a year on paper goods, wood products, and newsprint.

Knowing myself to be a concerned citizen and certified Queen of Reducing, Re-using and Recycling, I feel morally indignant in the face of such crass waste. The mere sight of The New York Sunday Times stacked in high piles at the newsstand fills me with queasy guilt. Heaven forbid I should buy one. I take my own bags to the grocery. I use cloth napkins and hankies and refuse to use paper towels. I’m the one who used the same paper bag for 65 days worth of coffees-to-go.

Advertisement

All well and good, but what have I done lately? What did I do today?

This is an important distinction: what did I do versus what did I not do. The issue is not how many trees did I save, but how many trees did I plant? I should have planted 250-350 trees by now to replace those that I have used. While I have conducted quite a few tree-planting ceremonies over the years, I still owe the earth a new orchard.

Maybe it is self-defeating to think that we should be giving up comforts and luxuries in order to be more environmentally correct and connected. Such negative terminology doesn’t make acting conscientiously seem like a very attractive prospect, but rather like some sort of deprivation that would appeal only to martyrs. That’s just bad psychology. Unproductive. The medicine does not have to taste bad in order to work well.

Advertisement

Perhaps it is more fruitful to think not of giving something up, but of giving something back. It is the most elemental and universal rule of etiquette that if you take something, you put it back; if you use something, you replace it — plus some. While saving and conserving are admirable virtues to be commended and encouraged, being generous and proactively responsive is equally crucial to our survival, body and soul. Take less. Give more.

It is pay back time. So I pledge to plant trees this Spring. As many as I can. Won’t you join me?

Let’s plant trees everywhere. In our gardens, inside our houses, throughout our parks and school-yards. Even those of us who live in the most crowded cement cities can join a community garden or participate in a park clean-up and planting day.

Advertisement

We can “buy” acres of rainforest to give as gifts or have trees planted in honor of all the special occasions celebrated by friends and family. We could adopt a neighborhood or a stretch of highway and help take care of it. Like a brigade of green guerilla Queens, we could spread out and scatter wildflower seeds in every vacant lot, strip, mall and avenue median. Just like Queen Lady Bird did.

Knowing through Her personal experience what is true and valuable, and having learned, usually the hard way, to be proactive, the Queen pledges Her royal Self to defend and promote all that is precious.

-QMD

***

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.

Advertisement

Speaking My Soul

posted by Donna Henes

by Robin L. Silverman

I once heard the saying that you could only be sure of two things in life: death and taxes. But when it comes to living soulfully, I can add a third: what you speak is what you get.

I’ve become very aware of the words escaping my mouth each day, because I’ve discovered that my soul speaks not only to me but through me. I am literally its voice in the world, a responsibility that has become more obvious to me as I’ve aged. Why now? Because my soul uses my body to do its talking, and lately, it’s been turning up the volume.

Medical intuitive Carolyn Myss points out that our biography becomes our biology. So when I feel that someone is a “pain in the neck,” that will be the day that I have to call the massage therapist. Or when I feel that I have “the weight of the world on my shoulders,” I’ll curse the scale, even though my diet’s stayed the same. My soul knows that all negative judgments and lingering discontentment hurt me, the world I live in and the greater universe. So whenever I speak words that disallow the freedom, growth or joy that my soul wants for me and everyone else, I know I will have biological hell to pay.

Advertisement

Conversely, whenever I speak words that are honest, constructive and happy, my soul rejoices. Not only do I feel good physically, but everything seems to magically fall into place with very little effort, frustration or strain. This is because words broadcast invisible sound vibrations into our little corners of the universe. Like magnets, they attract people and circumstances that match them in tone, character and intensity. When my soul is at peace, my world is at peace; not the other way around.

Soulful living demands that I remain awake and aware of the life inside my physical form and around it. I no longer think about coping with life. Instead, I think of caressing it with words of praise, gratitude and wonder. When I do, something wonderful always happens: my life is filled with peace and pleasure on many levels.

Advertisement

So what does my soul do with trouble, anger and discord? It has taught me to choose my words very, very carefully. I slow down and truly think about what I am saying. My soul does not like being a victim, so if words of blame, shame or ill-gotten gains start escaping, it will quickly let me know by how I feel or what I get that I’m headed down a soul-stifling path. I try to talk less and listen more, not only to what my soul has to say, but what I’m hearing and sensing around me. When I do speak, I try to use words that are empowering. And when the heat is simply too high to do anything but boil over, I have found that a sincere apology is soul-satisfying.

And when it comes to writing this article for Soulfulliving.com’s anniversary, I will simply use these words: Congratulations, Valerie. You are the master chef of soul-food! From the heart of my soul and the soul of my heart, thank you for making us all a little wiser, more worldly and welcoming. 

Advertisement

© Copyright 2003 Robin L. Silverman.  All Rights Reserved.

 

* ***
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.

Advertisement

More is More Day!!

posted by Donna Henes

by Judith Hill

This is our More is More Day!! Sigh deeply! Feel that? Yummmmmmm!
We get to Be in 100% JOY!  Remember how great this is?

What Have You ALWAYS wanted to DO?
Climb Machu Picchu? Write the Great Pan-American Novel??
Learn to play the alto sax? Take up Watercolors? Make a fish pond?
Sail, skateboard, crochet? Sing lead in a Garage Band?
Dance for hours & go for breakfast as the sun comes up? Like we usta?!
Forgive Everyone you need to? Write a poem thanking Seeds!
Do absolutely nothing and feel fine? Go to India and serve in an Ashram?
Play! Paint! Sing Loud! Sign up! Yahooo! Good on Ya!
Dye your hair purple and paint your doorways blue?? Write everyone one you Love & say so!
Get a facial, a pedicure, and massage? At the same time!!! Go on a wild date!  With the Beloved! With Yourself!
Be instantly on a fabulous adventure! An exotic vacation! Dress up & Stay Home!
Why not?  It’s our day! It’s our life!
Stay Home!! Travel!! Spend the day in bed! Or a mountain trail!
Take a train somewhere you have never been!!! Yippppppee!
Wear something gorgeous! Velvet! Silk! Topless!
Do what you wish! Sleep! Lollygag! Loaf! Lounge!
Feed Birds! Swim! Tango & tangle! Day dream!
Find yummy hot water & loll joyously about for hours!
Read all day, eating dark chocolate bonbons & moan, O just quietly, in pleasure!
Walk into deep woods! Sing loud! Dance for the nuthatches!
See 3 movies & eat buttered popcorn! Procrastinate!

Advertisement

Give just-baked cookies away one by one! Take a walk & smile at Everyone!
Be Happy for no Reason! For Every Reason!
Make Prayers for Peace & and cuddle up close! Go to Work & Be at Play!
Go where you’ve always wanted! Seychelles? Bequa? Your back porch? My kitchen?
Linger over warm churros and chocolate calientito at the San Augustin Café, dunk and dream…
If your morning is booked, have a Moonbath & pizza: with fresh basil and extra cheese!
Aren’t the Cubs, aren’t the Yankees….playing somewhere we could go?
Visit the Monets? A playground with swings? A Kirtan?
A picnic in the Bosque at dawn, kergillion cranes wheeling overhead?  Snowgeese & Sandhill Cranes!
By the Presa full from recent rains, Egrets & Cormorants in circling flight above?
Fajitas and Limonada after? Lobster roll with extra wasabi,
carnitas with pico de gallo,  guayabas and pineapple on a balcony overlooking your life,
in gratitude for every blessed second?
A chance to say I love you one more time?  And have it said back?
Say it again and again! Aren’t our hearts so full! Whew!
A luxurious nap with a thick blankie, Assam tea with cream? More Kisses?
Hot bath, scented rose geranium, reading Neruda? Aloud! Coltrane and Tinarwien, Billie H and Bob D?
Snow in the high country, waves rolling in on Cabo,
silver bracelets, satiny avocados, camerones y mango liquados?
You Are Invited! You are My Guest! Come to my Party! Start Now!
Come as You Are! How else could you be?

Advertisement

Don’t worry if you are Late – Come as you were!
If you are Early – Come as you will be!
It’s all in my heart for us! See you here! Or there! Now!
Invite your friends! Always room for More Partiers!
And know I Love you Best!

Let’s stay thrillingly, heartbeating wildly, in love & that…that!  Will make Our Dreams Come True!
& Know I love you today & today & today & today….. xxxxxxxxJudyth

* ***
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.

 

 

Previous Posts

A Revelation
  By Alicia Keys For as long as I can remember, I've hidden myself. It might have started in school when I realized that I caught on to things a little quicker, and teachers started to show slight favor to me, or use me as an ...

posted 6:00:40am Aug. 28, 2015 | read full post »

A Matter of Choice
  by Joan Chittister Most of us know when we’re at a crossroad in life, when old answers have gone dry, when our souls have gone dry here, when nothing but another choice is possible. Then come the struggle and the dickering, the ...

posted 6:00:36am Aug. 26, 2015 | read full post »

Peace in Hot Times
For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, summer is sizzling at its most intense in August. This period is referred to as The Dog Days of Summer. Though named after the Dog Star, Sirius, this is the weather when, according to Noel Coward, only ...

posted 6:00:32am Aug. 24, 2015 | read full post »

Attractive or Sexy?
By Doris Jeanette A clear distinction between being attractive and sexy became clear to me while going over the final version of a book I am working on, "Safe and Sane: Heart-felt Answers for the Pain You Feel." It is a group of questions and ...

posted 6:00:38am Aug. 21, 2015 | read full post »

6 Things French Women Can Teach Us About Aging Gracefully
By Shelley Emling Before moving to the New York City area, I lived in London for seven years. During that period, I traveled more than two dozen times to France, a place where five- or six-week vacations are the norm and many people retire ...

posted 6:00:18am Aug. 19, 2015 | read full post »

Advertisement


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.