The Queen of My Self

The Queen of My Self

Living Full–Living True: The Authentic Life (Part 1)

posted by Donna Henes

By Suzanne Zoglio, Ph.D. 

In the early stages of life we are often focused on pleasing others…parents, teachers, bosses, and spouses. In an effort to get our needs met, we learn to play by other people’s rules. But as we mature, we become more competent, independent, and able to meet our own needs. We are then less motivated to do what others want us to do. We tire of keeping up appearances, and care much less about what other people think. We no longer want to chase someone else’s dream; we want to live our own dreams. In short, we come to grips with the idea of being our own person. Now we just want to live a life that feels right. We want to be free of inner turmoil and outer chaos. Instead of approval, we are more likely to seek a sense of inner peace…the kind that accompanies authentic living.

I suspect that you can probably name several people who have taken considerable risks in order to lead more authentic lives. Perhaps you know someone who turned down a promotion to have more time with her family, forfeited a steady income to start up a new business, or left an unhappy marriage facing the firm disapproval of friends and family. Maybe you know someone who started a family after forty, got a high school diploma in midlife, or took early retirement in order to work full-time as a volunteer.

When you fashion a life where the decisions you make and the actions you take are considered, deliberate, and in harmony with what’s important to you, you are living an authentic life. It is not necessarily a life that others admire or think is right for you, but a life that you know in your heart is right for you. It may not be a life that has been your habit, but it is a life that makes you greet each day with enthusiasm and sleep peacefully at night.

The more honest you can be–with yourself and with others–about who you are and what you need to be fulfilled, the more likely you are to create a life that’s right for you. But excavating your truth may seem like a daunting task. With all the busyness of our everyday lives, self-reflection may seem self-indulgent. “I don’t have time to sit around contemplating my navel,” you might think. “I’ve got responsibilities to meet.”

But that’s the irony. If we move as fast as we can down a path that leads us away from our true desires, we end up backtracking anyway, or going around in circles searching for the place that feels like home. When we don’t take the time to tune in to what’s best for us next, we actually waste time with many false starts and journeys that might otherwise be avoided. An authentic life is built from the inside out…with attention to one’s inner wisdom. Perhaps you could simply begin each day with a question: “What is important to me?” Or spend 20 minutes in meditation each morning, letting your inner voice surface. You might try 10 minutes of journaling every day for week, and then see what wisdom surfaces. Maybe you could take one weekend a month and retreat to nature for an hour or so where you could reflect on what kind of person you have become and what kind of person you aspire to be. To live authentically you need not spend two weeks on a mountaintop in Tibet (although that might be terrific too). You simply have to make time on a regular basis for self-reflection. Tune in to who you are, what you want, and what is best for you next. The rest will unfold.

Read Part 2 on Monday, January 12


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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.

Where has all the darkness gone?

posted by Donna Henes

For Mama Donna Henes, Urban Shaman
By Karen Ethelsdattir

 

Where has all the darkness gone?

What Maestro Dylan Thomas called “the close & holy dark?”

The midnight hour & the hours before & after?

Where can we go to see a starry sky,

the pearls of the Milky Way,

the glittering constellations

set off by darkest night?

Our whole civilization conspires

to show us everything in the glaring light—

the street lights, the store signs,

the porch lights, the driveways, the highways,

the headlights.

Where has the mystery of night gone?

I adopted a black mother cat once,

& named her Mystery a.k.a. Ms. Tree.

Wisely, she fled from civilization.

If I knew how, I would too,

I would too. 

 

Thank you, Queen Ethel, for the dedication. I am honored. 

 

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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.

 

Seasons of Beauty

posted by Donna Henes

By Madisyn Taylor

As we cultivate our life, our beauty becomes as much about what we are creating and doing as it is about our appearance.

We tend to associate youth with beauty, but the truth is that beauty transcends every age. Just as a deciduous tree is stunning in all its stages—from its full leafy green in the summer to its naked skeleton during winter and everything in between—human beings are beautiful throughout their life spans.

The early years of our lives tend to be about learning and experiencing as much as we possibly can. We move through the world like sponges, absorbing the ideas of other people and the world. Like a tree in spring, we are waking up to the world. In this youthful phase of life, our physical strength, youth, and beauty help open doors and attract attention. Gradually, we begin to use the information we have gathered to form ideas and opinions of our own. As we cultivate our philosophy about life, our beauty becomes as much about what we are saying, doing, and creating as it is about our appearance. Like a tree in summer, we become full, expressive, beautiful, and productive.

When the time comes for us to let go of the creations of our middle lives, we are like a tree in autumn dropping leaves, as we release our past attachments and preparing for a new phase of growth. The children move on, and careers shift or end. The lines on our faces, the stretch marks, and the grey hairs are beautiful testaments to the fullness of our experience. In the winter of our lives, we become stripped down to our essence like a tree. We may become more radiant than ever at this stage, because our inner light shines brighter through our eyes as time passes. Beauty at this age comes from the very core of our being—our essence. This essence is a reminder that there is nothing to fear in growing older and that there is a kind of beauty that comes only after one has spent many years on earth.

 

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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.

Sacred Seclusion

posted by Donna Henes

Sacred Seclusion enables us to know, own, and honor ourselves as unique, individual entities. To admit our abilities and limitations, our talents and truculence on the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual planes, and love ourselves with compassion and no judgement attached. A practice of solitude and separation — be it occasional, frequent, or constant — teaches us that we do not need the approval or permission of any outside source to validate our personal experience or emotions. In knowing who we are, we are empowering ourselves to know what we know and feel what we feel.

We can only discover our own truth by paying close attention to the promptings of our inner Selves and to our honest reactions to the external energies that surround us. But just because we have the ability to access our emotional and intuitive truths, doesn’t mean that we necessarily want to. In fact, most of us have a huge resistance to face our emotions and let ourselves simply feel. This is especially true when we are confronted with the adversity, fear, and loss of the hard times of life. Who wants to feel like that? We bemoan our fate, our bad luck, our sad fortune, and find it easier to feel sorry for ourselves than to actually experience the pain when we are stricken with sorrow or sadness. We are exposed and vulnerable, scared silly, like a child who needs a nightlight, forgetting that the light is already on inside. We panic, preferring anything to the deep pitch, the petrifying recesses, of our own souls. This terror is the turning point, the time for determination.

It is at this critical moment, that we can consciously choose to dwell in the dark for a spell — for as long as it takes — despite our resistance and fear. We can decide to confront the emotions that churn beneath our surface. We can choose to engage with them, to follow them wherever they take us. To explore the blind byways of our pain, inching along, feeling our way through the tunnels with our tongues if we have to. To plumb our emotional depths and mine that precious secret ore of our own poignant life experience. To feel our heart actually break, explode apart, like a geode, revealing the glittering crystals of our wisdom growing inside. Once we have connected with our emotions, identified them, listened to their stories, felt their unutterable pain, confusion, grief, and joy, we can accept them as our teachers, bow to their great lessons, embrace them with love, and then let them go, release them into the night.

What distinguishes these midlife women is that they acted with purpose and tenacity to further their own needs and desires as well as those of the greater good. Their courage in trying circumstances does not mean that they were not afraid, but they did not let their fear stop them from doing what they felt must be done. “I’m not afraid of storms,” wrote Louisa May Alcott, “for I’m learning how to sail my ship.” Instead of depending on someone or something else to take care of business — a knight in shining armor, a successful husband, a doting parent, the class system, law and order — they rolled up their sleeves and did what they knew needed doing. They took up the sword, the pen, the struggle, the cause, the responsibility, themselves.

Never apologize, never retreat, never explain. Get the thing done and let them howl.
–Nellie McClung, Canadian suffragist and writer, 1873-1951

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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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