Beliefnet
The Queen of My Self


NOVEMBER

The month of elections and politics. Now’s the time for all good women to run for office! Women in power. Women speaking truth to power. Wise women rule wisely!


With the question of power — its uses and abuses — on my mind, I reached out to the Facebook fans of The Queen of My Self to see what power means to other Queens of Themselves.

Q.  What does power mean to you?

I posed this question in the last issue:

Q.  And you, dear Queens? What does power mean to YOU?  Please send me your thoughts about power. Also stories of your own empowerment. When shared, these ideas and examples are extremely inspiring to others. Thanks.

 

A.  You asked for an empowerment story:

In February of this year my 82-year old father had a stroke. He lives 3000 miles away. His wife decided not to call the ambulance, because Dad asked her not to. Maybe a little lie down would make him feel better. Through a roundabout way I happened to find out this was going on. I called her and got her to get him to the hospital.

Shortly after that I made plane reservations. Was told not to come. I shoved my inner child back into her fun place and let the Queenly grown-up speak. I Informed them that I was coming anyway and when I was arriving. It turned into a three week stay during which I spent every day at the rehab center with Dad doing my best to advocate for him when his wife could/did not. This included some very frank and uncomfortable discussions with physicians, doing all the driving, shopping and meals for his wife(who has her own health issues that she is in denial about), making sure the dog was taken care of, teaching Dad’s wife how to deliver insulin (don’t get me started on the practice shot that had 30 units of insulin instead of 3 – yikes!) and sundry other things that escape me at the moment.

At the end of each day, I spent approximately 45 minutes composing a detailed email of the day’s events, improvements, set-backs, plans being made and the reality of Dad’s condition as well as the reality of his wife’s inability to be “present” and able. This email went out to a large extended family (his children and her children – all adults) and had to be worded most carefully and candidly.

The short version of the above is that I rose to the occasion in ways that I did not realize I could, and maintained this successfully for weeks. My communication was clear and concise. I was able to deal with obstacles without raising my voice or being condescending, and was gently persistent until there was resolution.

I managed to get the attention and good response from people in authority. I was able to truly be the adult when I would usually defer to the parents. My daily email reports kept everyone in the loop without making anyone defensive regarding their parent. All along the way I encouraged everyone to be gentle and loving with each other in this highly charged situation. And most surprising, they all started to ask for and seriously consider my advice, including the most bossy “in charge” folks.  Many family members expressed their thanks and how they don’t know what would have happened had I not been there.

My inner Queen served me well, and now I know that I can call on her when I need her.

– Gloriana, CA

 

A.  In response to your “power” query:

I believe that the strongest most powerful approach I can take in my life and my creativity as a public and environmental sculptor is to align my Self with the flow of the spirit. Ralph Waldo Emerson

(another Quaker ) felt the World Spirit was a good swimmer. My job is to develop a harmonic with that spirit and surf or swim along with her!! Loving support,

– Hera, NY

 

A.  In your next Queen’s Chronicles you should mention that ALL QUEENS should go and see Catherine Deneuve’s latest film called Potiche, which is a “queen takeover” in the best possible way if ever I saw one. The movie begins with Catherine, who has all her life been a faithful wife without any power and it ends with her becoming the mayor of a town and making a marvelous speech about matriarchies and Amazons and singing and dancing. I was getting up and cheering at the end. A REAL feel good movie~!!!!!

– Cristina, NY

 

A.  Power to me is knowing what you stand for and not backing down, but having the humility to admit when you are wrong, or adjust your position when you have grown. All while being true to yourself.

– Sarah Jane, WA

 

…Stay tuned for part 2 of What Does Power Mean to You?…posting on Monday, November 13th…

 

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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 Joan Chittister  

At a crossroads, remember, there are three possible options to choose from.

The first choice is simply to quit a road that is going nowhere. We can move out and move on, we can move away from it all, and leave the unfinished mission undone.

The second choice is to give in to the fatigue that comes from years of being ignored — or worse — of being ridiculed or excommunicated — and go silently into oblivion. The second choice is to crawl into a comfortable cave with nice people and wait for the storm to go by.

The third choice is to refuse to accept the decadent present and insist on celebrating the coming of the unknown, but surely holy, future. The third choice is to go steadfastly on following the path of the prophets, of those who spoke before us but were also not heard until long after the fact.

Prophets are those who take life as it is and expand it. They simply refuse to shrink a vision of tomorrow to the boundaries of yesterday.

But never forget as well, that the prophets, like you and I — discouraged by the present, weary from trying—also toyed with all three options. But in the end chose to go on following the spiritual magnet of their lives rather than allow it to wither.

The prophets — everyone of them — when they came to the crossroads, when they came to a chance to settle down there, to quit, to accept what was, chose instead to keep on going.

They chose to go on — despite it all. If not with a sense of total and immediate success, then as sirens in the night, as seeders of far-flung seeds, as eternal agitators in the soul of the nation, as torches in the murk of confusion. They chose to go on illuminating to others, down century after century, the eternal word of God.

They chose to go on shouting the message upon which the future rested and the people depended if they were to find their way out of the darkness to which a failed leadership had condemned them.

You and I know that these people — people just like us: simple and sincere, eager and inspired — these fruit growers like Amos and small business people like Hosea, these priests and sheep masters, these theologians and dreamers like Isaiah and Ezekiel, these struggling lovers and suffering witnesses made no small choices indeed.

They chose courage; they chose the expansion of the soul; they chose to stake their lives on what must be rather than stake their comfort on what was.
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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 Our Prime…continued from Part 1 on Monday, October 30th…

By Laura Rowley

Patricia Cohen’s “In Our Prime: The Invention Of Middle Age”
Reinvention Of Middle Age
Kim Cattrall epitomizes the reinvention of middle age.

The “Midlife Industrial Complex”

Fast-forward to the mid-lifers of today, a generation wielding enormous social and economic power. “Alpha Boomers,” people 55 to 64, number 35 million and spend more than $1.8 trillion annually, Cohen reported. They spend more on luxury cars, travel, dining, home furnishings and improvements, large appliances, cosmetics and beauty products than people ages 18 to 49. But only in the last few years have mainstream advertisers begun to acknowledge them.

On the other hand, certain industries maintain a laser-like focus on the demographic. Cohen argues that a “Midlife Industrial Complex” invents conditions that prey on middle-age anxieties. “Sexual desire disorder in women and male menopause keep coming up even though research shows no basis for it,” she said. “But there’s a highly lucrative business of testosterone supplements. These things are driven by pharmaceutical companies.” In the book, she furthers this argument, offering a lurid history of age-related medical experiments, including the doctor who transplanted monkey testicles into men in an effort to restore their libidos.

Industry and marketers are also pushing a certain fabulous-over-50 “Stepford perfection,” noted Cohen. “On the one hand, it’s better than an aging, asexual house-frau, but it’s a different kind of pressure,” she explained. “The reality is that inhumanly thin bodies are still what’s desired — only now they’re desired by 50-year-olds. That’s why there’s an epidemic of anorexia in middle-aged women that didn’t exist a few years ago. As much as one can talk about the importance of inner beauty, we are all subject to wanting to look outwardly beautiful as well.”

Cohen noted that Norma Desmond, the washed-up silent movie star played by Gloria Swanson in the 1950 film noir “Sunset Boulevard” is supposed to be 50 years old. She contrasts it with the last “Sex in City” film, which includes the 50th birthday celebration of Samantha (Kim Cattrall).

“Middle age is a ‘Never-Never Land’ — when you’re younger you never want to enter it and when you’re older you never want to leave it.”

Middle Age Myth #1: Midlife Crisis

Research shows the midlife crisis is largely fiction. People in their 20s and 30s are more likely to experience the kind of “crisis” associated with middle age. Only an estimated 10% of middle-aged people have the classic midlife crisis.

Myth #2: The Empty Nest Syndrome

Researchers have found no evidence of the so-called empty nest syndrome. Many parents relish and enjoy the transition, taking pride in the fact that all their child-rearing efforts have paid off, and their offspring are on the road to accomplishing their goals.

Myth #3: The Trophy Wife

Men don’t abandon their middle-aged partners for younger trophy wives as the stereotype suggests. Most marriages break up in the first eight years. The recent rise in divorce among the middle-aged is because second unions are breaking up (usually within the first eight years of marriage).

Myth #4: Menopause Stinks

Hot flashes aside, nearly 62% of women in one survey said they felt “only relief” when their periods stopped, while fewer than 2% said they felt “only regret.”

Myth #5: The Death Of Libido

Despite the latest hype about testosterone supplements, low sex drive, depression and sagging energy levels were more likely to be caused by stress, poor eating habits and laziness in midlife than lower hormone levels. Meanwhile, many researchers think that warnings about female sexual dysfunction in middle age are highly exaggerated. What may account for women’s flagging sexual life is that they are less likely to have a regular partner than men.

Myth #6: Health Inevitably Declines

It turns out age really is about attitude: Research has found that believing that you can improve your health in middle age actually improves it. A sense of control in midlife can dramatically reduce disability and preserve one’s health and independence later in life.

Myth #7: Happiness Plummets

The truth is just the opposite: Many people view midlife as their happiest period. Several surveys have found that while happiness dips in the 40s, people start to feel more content with life after the age of 50.
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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.

OCTOBER 

October is harvest time, a time of maturity and fruition. The Queen time of the year. What have we sown? What have we reaped? Lessons, experience, mastership, wisdom.

By Laura Rowley 

Patricia Cohen’s “In Our Prime: The Invention Of Middle Age”
Reinvention Of Middle Age
Kim Cattrall epitomizes the reinvention of middle age.

Middle age is a cultural fiction — a construct that emerged in the last 150 years through a confluence of factors, including industrialization, modern medicine, government bureaucracy and, of course, media and advertising. That’s the takeaway from the new book “In Our Prime: The Invention of Middle Age,” a cultural history of aging by New York Times culture reporter Patricia Cohen.

Cohen takes readers on an exhaustive journey of what it means to be middle-aged, from the first concepts of a distinct life stage in the 1800s to contemporary research on the midlife brain. She examines aging in media, medicine, marketing and mythology — finding no evidence for the “midlife crisis” or “empty nest syndrome.” (See slideshow below for the Top Seven Myths of Middle Age.)

Cohen sat down with The Huffington Post at the Times’ offices. Fair-skinned with striking pale blue eyes and a cascade of red curls, Cohen tucked her legs beneath her in a chair and spoke passionately about her project of the last four years. Cohen married at 39, was pregnant at 40 and was enjoying a professional peak — just a few of the factors that inspired her to reconsider midlife as “a time of extravagant possibilities” rather than decline.

“It’s hard to think of yourself entering middle age when you’re changing diapers and looking at preschools,” she said. “In many ways the chronological definition of middle age is the least useful in our own lives. A number means much less than where you are in your own personal journey — how old your children are, whether your parents are still alive, where you are on your career path.”

Advances In Health and Industrialization

Middle age wasn’t thought of as a separate life stage prior to the second half of the 19th century, Cohen explained. In the mid-1800s, 85 percent of Americans lived in rural areas. People harvested crops side by side, shared tiny homes, were educated in mixed-age classrooms, and socialized across generations at dances and church services. The word “midlife” didn’t appear in the dictionary until 1895.

Several factors conspired to demarcate middle age, starting with advances in health. In 1800, the average woman had seven children and spent 17 years pregnant or breastfeeding, Cohen notes. Half of all deaths struck children 15 and younger. With advances in hygiene, pediatrics and antibiotics, mortality rates declined sharply, and by 1900 women had just three children on average.

“By age 40 to 45 women were finally done, the last kid was out of the house, and a new expanse of time opened up for 20 years or more,” said Cohen. The Progressive Era followed between 1890 and 1920, and middle-aged women became the mainstays of social reform efforts and the suffrage movement, Cohen notes.

For blue-collar men, middle age was less of a gift. An industrialized world divided workers by gender and age, and the labor market put a premium on strength and speed. Cohen profiled management guru Frederick Winslow Taylor, whose advances in efficiency revolutionized the workplace. Ford adopted Taylor’s principles on its assembly lines, and reduced the average time to build a car from 12.5 hours in 1913 to just over 90 minutes in 1914.

“Farm people worked from the time they were adolescents to when they dropped,” Cohen explained. “But factory work really valued speed, and gave younger workers an advantage. Blue collar men in their 40s were finding they were not valued anymore.”

A Shared Consciousness Of Image

A growing bureaucracy began to segregate people by age — in schools, clubs and civic groups. In 1900, the Census Bureau began to ask respondents for their date of birth for the first time. The turn of the 20th century brought a flood of magazines, movies and advertisements that disseminated youthful templates of beauty and style. “For the first time you had a national, shared consciousness of the way you were supposed to look,” said Cohen.

The American experience in World War I also inspired youth-worship. “There was an incredible reaction against the older generation which had gotten us into war, with so many of the younger generation wiped out,” Cohen explained. “Youth became very sanctified and sacred.”

The idea that youth had to be revitalized combined with another social development: mass consumerism. “Industry had reached a point where you could produce and distribute products on a national scale — and once it did, you had to have advertising,” said Cohen. Ads began hawking new products to deal with the infirmities of age — wrinkles, bad breath, sweaty feet.

In the 1960s, psychologists such as Erik Erikson came up with new framework for thinking about human development, introducing the idea of growth as a lifelong journey. “It’s something that seems so obvious now but at the time was quite revolutionary,” Cohen said. “Freud believed that most development occurred in first five years of life and nothing of much import happened after that.

“Erikson created a different kind of map of life stages,” she continued, “and the stage representing middle age was really the most important, because it was when people began to look beyond their own personal achievements to what they could give back in helping the generation after them.”

…to be continued…stay tuned for part 2 of In Our Prime on Wednesday 11/1…
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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.