Beliefnet
The Queen of My Self

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.

 

In 1920, the United States became the 30th country in the world to extend voting rights to women. In addition to the fascinating information, this list offers some real surprises. For example, women could not vote in Switzerland until 1971!

1838 – Pitcairn Islands

1881 – Isle of Man

1893 – Cook Islands, New Zealand

1902 – Australia

1906 – Finland

1913 – Norway

1915 – Denmark, Iceland

1917 – Canada, Russian SFSR

1918 – German Austria, Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, Estonia, Democratic Republic of Georgia, Germany, Hungarian Democratic Republic, Kyrgyz SSR, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, United Kingdom, Ireland

1919 – Belarusian People’s Republic, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Sweden,

Ukrainian SSR, Belgium

1920 – Principality of Albania, Czechoslovakia (Today: Czech Republic, Slovakia), United States

1921 – Armenian SSR

1922 – Burma

1924 – Kazakh SSR, Mongolian People’s Republic, Tajik SSR, Turkmen SSR

1927 – Uruguay

1929 – Ecuador, Puerto Rico

1930 – Union of South Africa, Turkey, Greece

1931 – Brazil, Portugal, Spain, Ceylon (Today: Sri Lanka)

1932 – Maldives, Thailand

1934 – Cuba

1935 – Chile

1937 – Philippines

1938 – Bolivia, Kingdom of Bulgaria, Kingdom of Romania, Uzbek SSR

1939 – El Salvador

1941 – Panama

1942 – Dominican Republic

1943 – Lebanon

1944 – Bermuda, France, Jamaica

1945 – Indonesia, Japan, Senegal, Togo, Yugoslavia (Today: Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia)

1946 – British Cameroons (Today: Cameroon), Djibouti, Guatemala, Italy,

Liberia, North Korea, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela, Vietnam

1947 – Argentina, Union of India, Malta, Mexico, Pakistan, Singapore, Taiwan

1948 – Israel, South Korea, Niger, Seychelles, Dutch Guiana (Today: Suriname)

1949 – China, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, Syria,

1950 – Barbados, Haiti

1951 – British Leeward Islands (Today: Antigua and Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Anguilla), British Windward Islands (Today: Grenada, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica, Nepal

1952 – Côte d’Ivoire

1953 – Bhutan, Guyana

1954 – British Honduras (Today: Belize), Colombia, Ghana

1955 – Kingdom of Cambodia, Ethiopia(Then including Eritrea), Honduras, Nicaragua, Peru

1956 – Dahomey (Today: Benin), Comoros, Egypt, Gabon, Mali, Mauritius, Somalia

1957 – Federation of Malaya (Today: Malaysia), Southern Rhodesia (Today: Zimbabwe)

1958 – Upper Volta (Today: Burkina Faso), Chad, Guinea, Kingdom of Laos, Nigeria

1959 – Brunei, Madagascar, San Marino, Tanzania, Tunisia

1960 – Bahamas, Cyprus, Gambia, Tonga

1961 – Burundi, Malawi, Mauritania, Paraguay, Rwanda, Sierra Leone

1962 – Algeria, Monaco, Uganda, Zambia

1963 – Kingdom of Afganistan, The Republic of Congo, Equatorial Africa, Fifi, Iran, Kenya, Morocco

1964 – Kingdom of Libya, Papua New Guinea, Sudan

1965 – Botswana, Lesotho

1967 – Zaire (Today: Democratic Republic of the Congo), Kiribati, Tuvalu, South Yemen

1968 – Nauru, Swaziland

1970 – Andorra

1971 – Switzerland

1972 – Bangladesh

1973 – Bahrain

1974 – Jordan, Solomon Islands

1975 – People’s Republic of Angola, Cape Verde, People’s Republic of Mozambique, São Tomé and Príncipe, Vanuatu

1977 – Guinea-Bissau

1978 – Moldova

1979 – Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau

1980 – Iraq

1984 – Liechtenstein

1986 – Central African Republic

1989 – Namibia

1997 – Qatar

2002 – Timor-Leste

2003 – Oman

2005 – Kuwait

2006 – United Arab Emirates

2015 – Saudi Arabia

 

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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 Lady J-Ann

 

This woman has been kind, gentle,
and has much love,
All of this has been given with
the blessing of the Great Spirit above,
But Great Spirit gave her something
else and she didn’t know it…
The Great Spirit gave her
the blessing of being a warrior woman
as now her light is lit!

This warrior woman has come
fully alive today,
She is no longer anyone’s slave or prey,
She is taking back her life today,
And those who know who she truly is,
can stay.
No longer will she live the lives of others,
She will give back the blames and responsibilities of others
where it belongs,
For she also has the bear and wolf inside her,
which is now so very powerful
and uniquely strong.

The warrior woman now knows what road she must follow,
For others it will be to hard to swallow.
Her life was taken from her unknowingly many years ago,
And this warrior woman is taking back her life before the next winds blow.

Oh Sister Moon you give me the strength
as a warrior woman to conquer what’s on my path,
high above and way beneath,
and the much needed strength to take on the wrath.

This warrior woman is fully awakened and is taking a stand,
taking the problems by the horns with my hand.
I will conquer all that is there,
all and who comes as they dare.

Warrior woman has fully awoken,
and many will see that they were mistaken
in robbing her of her life.
They as a thief, Warrior woman will conquer
and have no grief!

This warrior woman will protect her people, her son,
and those who need her.
If anyone hurts them, look out!
They will hear a GGGGGGRRRRRRRRR,
As they run and shout!

This warrior woman is taking back her life,
taking back the respect that was taken from her
throughout the years ever so slow.
This warrior woman is removing pain and hurt from within the heart
caused by the knife,
from all those who are both family and foe.

I am claiming what’s mine, and my dignity,
From those who live in this society of vanity.
I am claiming back in full my heritage.
And as a warrior woman, I am going to clean up
many years of carnage.

For now standing in front of you,
you see this warrior woman… you see me.
Someone special has taught me to be free,
From this day forward for me no more slavery…
Gentleness, kindness, and love is part of me, and so is my dignity.
This is NOT WEAKNESS, as others believe.
But this strength is within me and within you.

I will listen to the spirits and grow,
I will travel in the whispering winds as they blow.
All the work I now do will be for Our People and all nations,
I will protect and guide the future generations.

Now it is time for me to travel on my new path,

As a warrior woman conquering all wrath.
If you ever see and want to meet me,
Please come, and I will also teach and share with you how to be free.

Poem copyright © Lady J-Ann
Lady J-Ann has dedicated this piece to Survivors of Domestic Violence.
Please take some time to visit her inspiring website, A Lady’s View

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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 Terry Werth

Until now, I didn’t realize that I’ve stood at the crossroads of empowering courage and crippling fear at least once before in my life. Thirty-two years ago, five months pregnant with our son, I tearfully told my gynecologist that my father-in-law had terminal cancer and was expected to die before our baby was born. “We’re all terminal,” he replied in his curt, clinical tone. I was momentarily paralyzed by hopelessness. But jolted by his candor and veracity, I was changed by that moment. It summoned up in me a sense of courage enabling me to cherish, even celebrate, the finals days of my father-in-law’s life while embracing the joy and wonderment of our anticipated birth.

There have been several such junctures in my life when I think of Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken,” moments of critical decision making. Haven’t we all stood in that place where the road goes off in two very different directions? One road appears bright and smooth, the other, shaded and more obscured. While the choice may seem deceptively obvious at first, one only has to remember that neither road guarantees a route free of detours or roadblocks. Both roads may have bumps, even landmines! And so, the intersection of those roads is a place to ponder. Many of my “crossroad decisions” were related to actions: to marry this person or not, to take this job or not, to buy this house or not, to tell the truth or not…two roads, diverged. It wasn’t until I recently found myself at the crossroads of courage and fear that I truly understood the power of making a choice of attitude.

On May 8, 2009, after a routine annual mammogram, I learned that, without any symptoms or forewarning, I had stage 3 breast cancer that had gotten out of the breast and into my lymphatic system. At that moment, I remember feeling that I had no choice. Nature, fate, life had made the choice for me. I was going to die…sooner rather than later. I felt that I had no choice because I felt that I had no control.

As days and weeks passed, and thanks in part to a talented, positive team of medical professionals, I began to realize that there were choices to be made. There were things I could control. I embraced each of them with gusto. During that time, I also realized that I was standing at Frost’s familiar cross roads. If you have ever faced a life-threatening situation, you know exactly what I mean. Assuming the fetal position in my warm bed, curling up under the blankets and giving up may seem like the easiest path to choose, requiring nothing but surrender¾ the path of crippling fear and hopelessness. If we’re being honest, most of us venture down that path for at least a few steps then realize that other road¾ over there¾ must have something better to offer!

The other road, the path of courage and hope, requires more of us. Despair, after all, is an act of submission. Courage is an act of will. When I chose “courage,” I believed it was the best path to take. I will never know, of course. That’s the thing Frost tells us so eloquently. To be one traveler and know you cannot travel both roads is the dilemma. It is the choice that makes all the difference.

I was doing a lot of therapeutic writing after I was diagnosed, and I can almost recall the moment I made a conscious decision to take the road of courage. I pulled my shoulders back and planted my feet firmly on the floor in front of my desk. I wrote about defying the disease and the odds. I wrote about living and the things I have yet to accomplish in my life. I reflected on death and meeting it on my own terms. I read voraciously¾survivor accounts, research, lifestyle changes, nutrition guidelines, spiritual direction, even quantum physics! I set out to assemble resources: a palliative care specialist, a shaman, breast cancer survivors, clinical trials, organizations, programs and activities that would guide me on a courageous path to living.

This path I have chosen, the road of courage, has not been without its challenges, hurts or disappointments. Lifestyle changes are agonizingly difficult to make. Misunderstanding and rejection by someone I believe loved me is painful and impossible to reconcile. Clear answers to complex questions continue to elude me. I dig deep inside myself, choosing courage, again and again.

There seems to be a threshold of protection, of consideration the world is willing to give me. As days pass and people see that I am a survivor, life gradually returns to normal. Except, life for me, will never be normal again. This cancer for which there is no evidence of disease at the moment, is (statistically) likely to return in one to three years. Listening for the knock at the door, hearing the background music, waiting for the other shoe to fall…those clouds are forever with me. And yet, I choose courage. I know the facts and statistics. I know the limitations of treatment options for recurrence and the active research underway to give women like me more options. I know that each day more women are being diagnosed, finding themselves standing at the same crossroads.

Reaching out to them is another way I find courage. The sharing of our stories, our fears, our interminable hopes, our unexpected joys, magically lightens my load… and theirs. Joining hearts and hands, transforms a lonely path into one where sisterhood brings strength and comfort, sometimes all the way to the end of a life. Not easy, but good, courageous work.

“I shall be telling this with a sigh, Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the road of empowering courage instead of the road of crippling fear. I choose hope over despair, joy over sadness,
And that has made all the difference.”

 

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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.