Beliefnet
The Queen of My Self

by Kiran Manral

We have a much better sense of who we are but perhaps, we’re just that little bit confused about where we’re headed to

I had my mid-life crisis circa forty, and that’s around five years before the norm. But then I was always early on my crisis milestones. I believe I had my first teen rebellion when I was nine. The good thing that came out of the mid-life crisis was that I wrote my first book. This seems so much more acceptable than saying I coloured my hair pink and had an affair, even though, those were complete possibilities given how utterly panicky I was at that point about life having passed me by and given me the cheeky middle finger to boot.

Circa the age of 45, it’s not just the men who stop battling the comb-overs and get hair plugs, a power bike, a sports car or an affair, but the women too struggle with this sudden intersection of all that represented hope, glory and youth, and then sudden and inexorable decline into old age and ergo, invisibility. The rebellion, the refusal to accept this point where the graph suddenly does a volte face and morphs into decline and then eventual death, is where the mid-life crisis emerges

It is a strange age. We can still bear to look at ourselves in natural light without wincing. The body, give or take some cellulite and stretch marks, is still resisting the dulcet calls of gravity with stoicism. We realise we’re now on the fast track from ‘Pretty in Pink’ to ‘Driving Miss Daisy’. We keep shifting the goalpost for being old. “40 is the new 20,” we tell ourselves. We try to reclaim ourselves and our lost passions, self-esteem (or fill with whatever you think fits best).

I read somewhere, a mother’s advice to her married daughter, which still holds good. “At forty,” she said, “You can either change your career, have a baby or have an affair.” To quote Michelle Obama on her mid-life crisis, “I couldn’t get a sports car. They won’t let me bungee jump. So instead, I cut my bangs.”

I saw variations of this when friends hit middle age. Some had discrete cosmetic procedures. Some had their last-chance babies. And yet others had affairs. A few switched sexual preferences. More power to them, if this is what they wanted and had been frogmarched by society into the conventionally acceptable marriage with 2.5 offspring.

The most public figure we know to have announced this is the author Elizabeth Gilbert who went from divorcing her hot Brazilian husband to announcing her love for her best friend, female. And we do know now that sexuality is not carved in stone but is in fact rather fluid.

The female mid-life crisis. It comes with the good and the bad. The bad are none of my business, but the good are worth mentioning. We have less to prove, and less four-letter word beginning with an F to give. We have a much better sense of who we are but perhaps, we’re just that little bit confused about where we’re headed to.

 

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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.

 

By Amber A. Penrose

 

As I’ve aged, I’ve become kinder to myself,
and less critical of myself. I’ve become my own best friend.

As you get older, it is easier to be positive.
You care less about what other people think.
I don’t question myself anymore.
I’ve even earned the right to be wrong.

So, to answer your question, I like being old.
It has set me free. I like the person I have become.
I am not going to live forever, but while I am still here,
I will not waste time lamenting what could have been,
or worrying about what will be.
And I shall eat dessert every single day (if I feel like it).
 

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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.

 

 

 

A truly mature, secure woman accepts the inevitable physical changes that come with the passing of time and incorporates them into the way she presents herself to the world. Self-aware, Self-assured, she transforms her Self as she goes. She glows as she grows into her full potential, and becomes ever more becoming. Her reinvigorated attractiveness stems from Self-knowledge and enfranchisement, her magnetic sensuality is centered in the fulfillment and satisfaction of her Self-worth. She exudes the intoxicating appeal of a woman who is at heart, pleased with her Self.

Great lineage of Love and Fertility Goddesses who have been revered throughout time and culture. Their power, raw and electric, was their Self-knowledge, their exquisite access to ecstasy. Their generative heat, their sex, the seat of their strength. The vitality, the powerful intensity of their sheer desire, their boundless energy, was potent enough to produce generations, poetry, agriculture, science, art, and craft. The same fire, the same hot love that ignites to spark the beginning of babies, also kindles the creation of culture. Their primal hunger was the force that fashioned all life, and their love, the fuel that maintained it.

Their sexuality was imbued with spiritual significance. Sex, especially the female experience of it, has been all but universally invoked in myth and ritual as symbolic of the primary force, the fiery source of life. For the Goddesses of Love and Life, unabashed and bold, sex was an authentic religious expression. Sex as energy. Sex as celebration. Sex as creation. Sex as abundance. Sex as unification. Sex as divine spirit. Sex as sympathetic magic. In my newly recovered sensuality, I was the Queen Bee, Aphrodite, Nefertiti, Cleopatra, the beautiful black Queen of Sheba. Honey, I was the Queen of Hearts.

My vulva, the horn.
The Boat of Heaven
Is full of eagerness like the moon
My untilled land lies fallow
As for me, Inanna,
Who will plow my vulva?
Who will plow my high field?
Who will plow my wet ground?

-Inscription on a Sumerian clay tablet
2000 BC
                                   A Lot of Hot Women

Many women now entering midlife have always been pleasure seekers. Our generation created and experienced the Sexual Revolution, after all. And we are not likely to stop now, thank you very much. The time for loving has never been better. By midlife, those of us who have had kids are liberated from the constraints of child rearing and can now afford the uninterrupted time and energy to attend unabashedly to our sex lives. Heterosexual sex, finally divorced from any worries or pressures of pregnancy, free of the rigors of birth control, is now simply for its own sake, pleasure rather than procreation at its source. We are free to indulge ourselves in the joys of seduction, intimacy, sensuality, passion, and satisfaction. As Virginia Wolfe observed, “The older one grows the more one likes indecency.”

By middle age, we have come to know who we are. We know what we like and we know how to get it. As in every other area of Her existence, the Queen cannot tolerate living in any way that constricts the expression of Her true nature and desires. She assumes responsibility for Her own enjoyment and makes sure that Her sensual and emotional needs are met. Most important of all, we are more inclined now to go out and manifest what we want.

Our new take-charge sexual attitude can be just the catalyst needed to refuel the lethargic passion of our long-term marriage or partnership, or it could send us out in other, sometimes completely unexpected, directions. We could decide to take a lover, or a different lover, or an additional lover. If we have long been single, we might decide to begin dating and establishing relationships. We might, as is becoming more and more common, liberate our previously hidden, unfulfilled yearnings and “come out” as a lesbian in midlife. Or, if we have always been sexually active, involved and/or coupled, we could choose a period of celibacy, Self-exploration, Self-indulgence, and Self-love. The world is our oyster and we pick and choose according to our own persuasion.

A positive attitude is a Self-fulfilling prophecy cycle. When we look good, we feel good and when we feel good, we look great. The brain, the mind, is said to be our most sensitive sexual organ. Time after time, I have seen that being in possession of a vivacious, fully engaged, energized personality is much more enticing and erotic than having an outwardly pretty face or perfectly honed physique. It seems to me that the popular misperception that midlife marks the end of a woman’s sexuality, her attention and appeal, has less to do with her losing her looks than her losing her way, her sense of adventure, her enthusiasm, her spirit, her relationship with her Self. Allure is visceral and shines from within.

The Queen uses the power of Her own purpose, growth, and gratification to claim and proclaim what is rightfully Hers, including — especially — Her own Self-image, charisma, and sexuality. When we are comfortable in our own skin, we carry ourselves with presence and pride, and project our formidable inner beauty out for all to see and appreciate.

Our emotional maturity and depth of character make women in our middle years extraordinarily and vitally attractive. We are substantial and robust, heady with the flavor of all that we have seen and done so far. We are pungent with profound experience, with pain and loss, exploration and transformation, glory and joy. The myriad lessons learned from lives intensely lived are reflected in our palate, which has become sophisticated, subtle, firm, and complex. Like fine wine and good cheese, women ripen and improve with age. Our essence becomes stronger, clearer, and infinitely more powerful. What could be more sexy?

 

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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.

 

 

By: Kara Irby

A Florida State University researcher has found that younger women’s concerns about wrinkles and deteriorating health cause them to have lower emotional well-being than those women who’ve passed the so called ‘midlife crisis’ phase.

Anne Barrett, sociology professor and director of FSU’s Pepper Institute on Aging and Public Policy, found that young women’s greater anxieties about declines in health and attractiveness degrade their emotional well-being, while older women’s maintenance of increasingly youthful identities as they age enhances their well-being.

The study, “Explaining age differences in women’s emotional well-being: The role of subjective experiences of aging,” will be published in the Journal of Women and Aging in December.

“Our society’s marginalization of older women can have consequences for women across adulthood,” Barrett said. “It can erode their emotional well-being long before they reach old age.”

Barrett and research partner Erica Toothman, an instructor in the sociology department at the University of South Florida, examined the role of five components of the subjective experience of aging in accounting for age differences in women’s emotional well-being — age identity, conceptions of the timing of middle age, aging attitudes, aging anxieties and self-assessed physiological changes.

Of those five, the study found age identity and aging anxieties played the largest role in accounting for younger women’s lower emotional well-being than that of older women’s. The younger women had greater anxiety about aging, particularly as it related to declines in health and attractiveness.

“It points to the relevance of ageism to all of us — across our lives,” Barrett said. “It also highlights the need for visibility and positive representations of older women across all domains of life — in the media, in politics and other arenas.”

Researchers also found that middle-age and older women engaged in a strategy that enhanced their own emotional well-being: They maintain youthful perceptions of themselves. In fact, these views become more age discrepant as they grow older. For instance, if you ask a 45-year-old women how old she feels, she might say 40 and if you ask a 75-year-old the same question she might say 65.

Researchers used the National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States to conduct their research. More than 3,000 people nationwide between the ages of 25 and 74 were given an extensive questionnaire, covering the areas of social responsibility, psychological well-being and physical health. The group was surveyed twice, first in 1995-1996 and then again 10 years later between 2004-2006.

“We focus on women because their decline in status as they age is steeper than men’s,” Barrett said. “For example, they face more age discrimination in the workplace and feel more pressure to mask signs of aging. This double standard of aging pointed us to a novel explanation for older women’s better emotional well-being, compared with younger women.”

Barrett said extensions of the study could examine how women in other systems of inequality, like race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status and sexual minority status might experience aging and what implications that might have for their emotional well-being.

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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.