Beliefnet
The Queen of My Self


JANUARY

January is all about new beginnings and fresh starts. Time to think about what we want and what we need in the New Year. Time to set our intentions and goals, make plans and lists. Take on projects to further our dreams and enhance our power.


By Fawn Germer

About power.

Nobody gives it to you. You don’t grow into it.

You have it. The more you use it, the more you understand it. The more you understand it, the more it grows.

You spend your 20s and 30s trying to figure out who you are and where you belong.  When you hit 40, it suddenly becomes less important to prove things, fit in and win approval. At 50, you stop wasting time. No more hemming and hawing and endlessly worrying about what others expect of you.

You set boundaries and use your power. You say “No, I’m not going there,” and you don’t.

Finally! The strength to be who you really are, the nerve to do what it is that you really want to do —  but it all comes at a time when you also have to deal with the insult of invisibility that comes with middle age. You put your foot down, but a lot of people don’t notice or care.

What the hell! I’d rather be emboldened at 50 than where I was at 30. I am sure I am not the only middle-aged woman to realize I had to make a lot of mistakes in order to earn my wisdom.

The other night, I shared some of my growth lessons with the very sharp 24-year-old daughter of a friend. She listened intently when I told her about setting boundaries and bolstering her self-esteem. She nodded in all the right places.

“When you know something isn’t right for you, act on it,” I told her.

“Everyone is insecure. It’s just a head game we play on ourselves…”

“Don’t settle…”

“You are the boss of you…”

“Who is going to stand up for you if you don’t stand up for yourself?”

There I was, mentoring. Lecturing. Is it even possible to learn the big lessons in life through other people? Battle scars are great teachers. Growth is a sequential revelation.

Would Dorothy have ever learned a damned thing if she’d known all along that she only had to click her heels to get back home? She had to encounter little people and flying monkeys and witches and The Wizard before she learned that everything she needed was right there within her. She always had the power she so desperately sought.

So, about power. Nobody gives it to you. You don’t grow into it.

How far will you travel down the road before you realize you already have it right there within you?

 

***
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.


JANUARY

January is all about new beginnings and fresh starts. Time to think about what we want and what we need in the New Year. Time to set our intentions and goals, make plans and lists. Take on projects to further our dreams and enhance our power.


 

I firmly believe that women, especially women of a certain age, will be the changing force of society, and that we possess the vision, the wisdom, the experience, and the wherewithal to lead the charge for change toward sustainability, sanity, and peace. However we cannot do it alone.

All people — all people — need to be involved if we are going to truly transform our attitudes and cultural ethos. Making the world a better place has got to be a fully participatory project if we are not just dreaming or talking through our hats.

But we women have to see ourselves as leaders. We need to stand in our center, embrace our power, and be willing to use it. We need to speak our truth, walk our talk, and model our intentions. We have to accept and exercise our own authority. That is, we need to own the authorship of our own destiny. The responsibility is no one else’s. It is ours.

The patriarchal powers-that-be have created a complete mess. Clearly, it is up to us women to roll up our sleeves and get busy putting life back in order again. If there is any hope at all for healing this planet and all who live upon it, that hope is us.

Personally, I do not think that it is a coincidence that just as the planet teeters on the very brink of destruction, there comes along generations of fiery, accomplished, clever, competent, 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 achieve the critical mass necessary to make a real and lasting difference. Let us harness our impressive energy: our purity of purpose, our passion, our heartfelt compassion, and our enormous power, and let us direct it toward creating a safe, sane, sustainable, sublime, and peaceful world for us all. The future is in our very capable hands.

I hereby call on women everywhere to take a stand and use our vast stores of wisdom, experience, creativity, and chutzpah do something positive, each in our own unique and inimitable way, toward creating a better future for us all. Not out of a misplaced sense of duty, but because it is a joy and an honor to do so. Because we can do no less.

What in world are we waiting for?
If not us, who? If not now, when?
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

 

***
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.


JANUARY

January is all about new beginnings and fresh starts. Time to think about what we want and what we need in the New Year. Time to set our intentions and goals, make plans and lists. Take on projects to further our dreams and enhance our power.


I am mad. So very mad. No, that doesn’t begin to describe it. I am pissed. I am angry. I am irate. I am incensed.I am outraged. I am enraged. I am livid. I am GOD DAMN FURIOUS.

“All men are created equal,” states the Declaration of Independence. From the very beginning, women were denied equality in this country. It has taken over two centuries for women to win the right to vote, to have alleged protection under the law, to earn as much as 68 and 77 cents on the dollar (depending on our skin color) that men are paid, and to gain control over our own bodies and destinies.

And now, nearly 250 years later, we are seeing our rights, our freedoms, our health care being stripped away, one by one, by mean spirited, misogynistic, right wing religious uber-conservatives. In 2015 there is still no Equal Rights Amendment. Women are still not equal under the law.

Of course I am angry! How can I not be? I am not angry only about the injustice perpetrated upon women in this country, but also all the women everywhere in the world who are abused, exploited, enslaved, and murdered – untold thousands as newborns – simply because they are female. Better believe I am angry.

My anger is far reaching and inclusive. Every virulent expression – be it verbal, physical, cultural, political, or armed – of religious hatred, xenophobia, racism, classism, ageism, homophobia set my teeth on edge. As does witnessing extremely common displays that range from disregard to disrespect to downright mean, nasty disdain directed at folks with abundant body fat or those who are differently abled.

Every goddessdamn fracking pipeline, oil spill, contaminated river, felled forest, wild fire, melting iceberg, radiation leak, gmo apple, dead bee, poached animal, endangered species, and cancer patient, stirs my wrath. Every hungry, homeless, terrified, traumatized refugee and GI incites my furious, protective tiger mother wrath.

My partner often questions why I watch the news if it makes me so mad. Because it is important for me to know what is going on around me. I do not want to be deaf and blind even if the shrill blare and horrendous images are painful. I want to feel that pain, to feel part of that pain. I want to accept any culpability on my part for perpetuating pain and peril through denial, laziness or depression. Depression is the flip side of anger.

Women are uncomfortable with anger. We are frightened of anger directed at us for very real reasons. But we are most scared of our own anger. We have been raised to be good girls, after all. To be sugar and spice and everything nice. Yeah, right.

Anger is a natural emotion and needs to be honored and expressed, lest it eat us up from the inside. Anger contains a huge amount of energy, which can be converted to powerful creativity, positive purpose, and proactive change.

I think of  my anger as righteous indignation. It spurs me to react, to respond, to resist, to rebel. My fury is the fuel that fires my fiercely impassioned efforts toward the defense of Mother Earth and all of Her exquisite creations and creatures.

And you better believe that the ongoing onslaught of disregard, disrespect, abuse, violence, terror, rape, and murder perpetrated against girls, women and Mother Earth, Herself, tempts me to stay in a pissed-off state. But this same anger also cripples me and would prevent me from pursuing proactive methods of protest.

So I prefer to think of my anger as righteous indignation and let it fuel my determination to work toward the empowerment of women and inspire my involvement in causes pushing for social and gender justice.

And to my delight, I have been discovering legions of women everywhere who take on the troubling and terrifying threats of a world gone mad and are actively engaged in extremely courageous and creative activities which provoke thought, challenge oppression and produce real solutions.

I hereby call on women everywhere to take a stand and use our vast stores of wisdom, experience, creativity, and chutzpah do something positive, each in our own unique and inimitable way, toward creating a better world for us all.

If not us, who? If not now, when?

“The question is whether or not you choose to disturb the
world around you, or if you choose to let it go on as if you had never arrived.”
– Ann Patchett

***
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.


JANUARY

January is all about new beginnings and fresh starts. Time to think about what we want and what we need in the New Year. Time to set our intentions and goals, make plans and lists. Take on projects to further our dreams and enhance our power.


By: Andee Harris

I looked in the mirror this week and realized I’m officially in the sandwich.

I’m turning 44 in a week, and all I can think of is, how did I get here? It’s not so much that I have amnesia about the last 43 years—it’s just that between raising children, investing in a career and caring for an ailing parent, I have approximately two and a half minutes a day to reflect. When I subtract the minute and a half I squander enjoying a fine glass of whiskey (because survival), it’s easy to see how I could lose track of time.

Yet for the first time in my life, my perception of time is all-consuming. Days run into weeks, weeks blur into months and, just like that, I’m another year in. Plus, it’s mind-blowing how much can happen in just one week.

This week brought one of the biggest professional accomplishments of my life. After spending the majority of my career advocating for women to take a seat at the table, I actually became the CEO of Chicago software company HighGround. It’s a random Tuesday—I’m indescribably energized.

This week also brought one of the toughest decisions my family has ever made. After suffering for years with Lewy body dementia, a cruel form of Parkinson’s, we made the painful choice to admit my 73-year-old father to an assisted living facility. It’s a random Wednesday—I’m inconsolably sad.

This week (and every week), my sixth-grader and high-schooler bring an unending list of needs that must (and should) be met. It’s a random Thursday—I’m feigning organization and praising my mom friend who picked up my kids. Again.

At 44, my time in the proverbial sandwich is real. It feels like some inevitable midlife crisis that doesn’t actually require an actual crisis—it just requires the passage of time and my desire to achieve (or simply not give up).

As one of the first generations to see our mothers work, my female peers have grown up expecting to have—and earn—it all. But with our high expectations come constant reminders that we are amid the best years of our lives.

All of sudden everything has an expiration date.

“Capitalize on your earning potential now, Andee, because 44 in tech is already GERIATRIC.”

“Spend as much time with your dad as you can, Andee. He is fading fast; every time you see him could be the last time he recognizes you.”

“Plan more quality time with your son, Andee. There’s only three years left until he’s off to college.”

This constant pressure to make the most of my time terrifies me. I’m a control freak, and it feels like the passage of time is mocking me. It’s frustrating, and I’m left with no choice but to find survival techniques. Since an aggressive face-lift, fleeing to the Caribbean, or buying a convertible seem cliched, I’ve turned to something much simpler.

I am choosing to stay present.

Sounds easy. It’s not. It’s a technique I have not mastered, but the mere fact that it takes practice and a conscious effort is what makes it perfect. Every day, I log into the Five Minute Journal app and take a minute to focus on the present. I do that by writing down what and who I am grateful for:

I am grateful that my dad is still here and we can laugh.

I am grateful for my husband, who has my back like no one else.

I am grateful for my kids, who know they can count on me.

I write down three amazing things that happened each day, too—even if one of them is that I skipped the drive thru.

I conducted my first meeting with the board.

I did not forget it’s Hanukkah.

I cooked dinner—with fire and unfrozen vegetables.

As I hit my stride, I’m going to keep tallying the small wins. I’ll remind myself that this is my sandwich, and I get to choose what kind it will be.

I’ll pass on the forgettable bologna: looks weird, tastes meh. Instead, I’ll enjoy the savory avocado toast: still looks like a mess, but it’s incredibly rich, healthy and satisfying.

Andee Harris is CEO of Chicago software company HighGround.

 

***
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.