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The Queen of My Self

The Queen of My Self

Declarations of Queendom

posted by Donna Henes

by followers of The Queen of My Self Facebook Page
What I have seen very clearly, right before my eyes over the years, is that women can indeed mature to very advanced ages, while staying lively and vital and full of fire and spunk. My great aunts and distant cousins twice removed were pistols. They didn’t cause harm, but they didn’t take guff from anyone. They stood their ground gracefully and powerfully and with unmatched poise. They traveled the world — alone or in pairs — when the world expected them to be propped up in a chair at a rest home. They learned foreign languages “late in life.” They taught rough-and-tumble college students twice their size and weight how to conjugate verbs. They could fend for themselves, they could make their way unafraid in the world, and they weren’t dependent on the approval of men or the dominant paradigm to validate their choices. They ruled their lives with an iron fist in a velvet glove, and they were deeply respected by all. Long before Donna Henes did us the wonderful service of voicing the vital concept of queendom, these elder women of my youth were Queens. They were Queens in the purest sense of the word, and they remained so well into their 60s, 70s, even 80s.

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– Kay, MA
I have been practicing to be a Queen my whole life and every day I get closer to my ideal.
I just coined the word regaliciously. I like the way it sounds. If Rachel Ray can get in the dictionary for EVOO, maybe I should contact the dictionary people with the new word: regalicious. What do you think?

– Linda, NY & NJ

 

When I told my partner, Sheriden about “regalicious” from the December Queen’s Chronicles this morning, she coined another word. “Well,” she said, “it’s Queendomonium around here today!” It’s all yours! Queendomonium! We laughed till she cried.

-Susan, MA

 

I am 40 this year. I have been looking forward to this birthday since I turned 30. That was a traumatic year. I thought I was maybe a little off for being so anxious to get to what so many of my school friends and countless other women seem so horrified by. Then I started hearing about this Queen archetype. It suddenly made sense. I know 40 isn’t a magic number, but to me it is a signal of great things to come.

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– Kim, IA

 

A Queen knows she is worthy based on nothing but the truth that she IS Goddess in Form

– Phoebe, NC

 

Being a Queen means knowing how to access my life force energy, what activates it, what zaps it, AND granting myself permission to do whatever it takes to stay connected to this inner fountain of youth!

– Daina, MI

 

Not sure who said “Beauty. like contact lenses, is entirely in the eye of the beholder.” I think the most important thing is that becoming the “queen of myself” is a process and an ongoing one at that.

And that the confidence and self esteem a queen radiates makes her beautiful. Her beauty comes from within and shines through her eyes, her smile , her words, and her gestures.

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It comes from being your own unique self.

L.a., PA

 

* ***
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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Poem for the Woman Who Doesn’t Want a Daughter

posted by Donna Henes

By Karen Ethelsdattar

I want you to look at yourself in the mirror & say
“& God created Woman & she is good”

I want you to look at yourself in the mirror
& say “God is a Woman”

I want you to look at yourself in the mirror
& say “I am God’s Daughter”

I want you to look at yourself
with a lover’s eye
& write a poem about yourself that way

I want you to taste yourself & feel yourself & smell yourself
& study how to please yourself
the way you study
the way you were trained to study
to please men

I want you to study women walkin’ down the street
the way you study men
How their hips swing & their breasts sway
& their hair goes free in the wind
& I want you to exult & sing,
“I am one of them”

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I want you to bathe yourself like a baby
with scented oil till you gleam

I want you to watch the muscles of women ripple
& say to yourself
how beautiful it is when women are strong

I want you to go to your hairdresser
& say, “I want it natural.
I like the way I am.”

I want you to go through a hundred women’s magazines
& tear out every page on cosmetics & beauty care
& how to reduce yourself to a shadow
& make a fire & let them burn

I want you to boycott perfumed toilet paper
& use an outhouse for a week
in the heat of the summer
& sit there with the door hangin’ open
& look out at the trees

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I want you to study proud women
& character lines
in the faces of old women
& think on every woman in your life
who did you good

I want you to find a portrait
of a great woman
& paste it over your television screen

I want you to ask for help from other women
& help them in return

& every time you feel turned on
I want you to close your eyes & say
“This is me
This comes from within.”

Published in At Our Core: Women Writing About Power, Papier-Maché Press, c1998

 

* ***
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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On Beauty and Age

posted by Donna Henes

By Anne Lamott

I was at a wedding Saturday with a lot of women in their 20s and 30s in sexy dresses, their youthful skin aglow. And even though I was 20 or 30 years older, a little worse for wear, a little tired and overwhelmed by the loud music, I was smiling.

I smiled with a secret Cheshire-cat smile of pleasure and relief in being older-49 and change, which even I would have to admit is no longer extremely late youth. But I would not give you back a year of life lived.

Age has given me what I was looking for my entire life — it gave me me. It provided the time and experience and failures and triumphs and friends who helped me step into the shape that had been waiting for me all my life. I fit into me now-mostly. I have an organic life finally, not the one people imagined for me or tried to get me to have or the life someone else might celebrate as a successful one — I have the life I dreamed of. I have become the woman I hardly dared imagine I could be. There are parts I don’t love-until a few years ago, I had no idea that you could get cellulite on your stomach — but I not only get along with me most of the time now, I am militantly and maternally on my own side.

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Left to my own devices, would I trade this for firm thighs, fewer wrinkles, a better memory?

On some days. That’s why it’s such a blessing I’m not left to my own devices. Because the truth is I have amazing friends and a deep faith in God, to whom I can turn. I have a cool kid, a sweet boyfriend, darling pets. I’ve learned to pay attention to life, and to listen. I’d give up all this for a flatter belly? Are you crazy?

I still have terrible moments when I despair about my body. But they are just moments — I used to have years when I believed I would be more beautiful if I jiggled less; if all parts of my body stopped moving when I did. But I believe two things now that I didn’t at 30. When we get to heaven, we will discover that the appearance of our butts and skin was 127th on the list of what mattered on this earth. And I know the truth that l am not going to live forever, and this has set me free. Eleven years ago, when my friend Pammy was dying at the age of 37 we went shopping at Macy’s. She was in a wheelchair, with a wig and three weeks to live. I tried on a short dress and came out to model it for Pammy. I asked if she thought it made me look big in the thighs, and she said, so kindly, “Annie? You just don’t have that kind of time.”

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I live by this story.

I am thrilled-thrilled-ish — for every gray hair and achy muscle, because of all the friends who didn’t make it, who died too young of AIDS and breast cancer. And much of the stuff I used to worry about has subsided — what other people think of me and of how l am living my life. I give these things the big shrug. Mostly. Or at least, eventually. It’s a huge relief.

I became more successful in my mid-40s, but this pales compared to the other gifts of this decade — how kind to myself I have become, what a wonderful, tender wife I am to myself, what a loving companion. I get myself tubs of hot salty water at the end of the day in which to soak my tired feet. I run interference for myself when I am working, like the wife of a great artist would: “No, I’m sorry, she can’t come. She’s working hard these days and needs a lot of downtime.” I live by the truth that No is a complete sentence. I rest as a spiritual act.

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I have grown up enough to develop radical acceptance. I insist on the right to swim in warm water at every opportunity, no matter how cold, no matter how young and gorgeous the other people on the beach are. I don’t think that if I live to be 80 I’ll wish I’d spent more hours in the gym or kept my house a lot cleaner. I think I’m going to wish I had swum more unashamedly, made more mistakes, spaced out more, rested. On the day I die, I want to have had dessert. So this informs how l live now.

I have survived so much loss, as all of us have by our 40th — my parents, dear friends, my pets. Rubble is the ground on which our deepest friendships are built. If you haven’t already, you will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of a beloved person. But this is also the good news. They live forever, in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a leg that never heals perfectly — that still hurts when the weather is cold-but you learn to dance with the limp. You dance to the absurdities of life; you dance to the minuet of old friendships.

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I danced alone for a couple of years, and came to believe I might not ever have a passionate romantic relationship — might end up alone! I’d been so terrified of this my whole life. But I’d rather never be in a couple or never get laid again than to be in a toxic relationship. I spent a few years celibate. It was lovely, and it was sometimes lonely. I had surrendered; I’d run out of bullets. But I learned to be the person I wished I’d meet — at which point I found a kind, artistic, handsome man. We have been together 20 months now, when we get out of bed, we hold our lower backs, like Walter Brennan, and we smile.

Younger women worry that their memories will begin to go. And you know what? They will. Menopause has not increased my focus and retention as much as I’d been hoping. But a lot is better off missed. A lot is better not gotten around to.

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I know many of the women at the wedding fear getting older, and I wish I could gather them together again and give them my word of honor that every one of my friends loves being older, loves being in her 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s. My Aunt Gertrud is 85 and leaves us behind in the dust when we hike. Look, my feet hurt some mornings, and my body is less forgiving when I exercise more than I’m used to. But I love my life more, and me more. I’m so much juicier. And, like that old saying goes, it’s not that I think less of myself, but that I think of myself less often. And that feels like heaven to me.

 

* ***
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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Why I am a Queen and Not (Yet) a Crone

posted by Donna Henes

I am not a Crone. I was not a Crone on my 50th birthday. I was not a Crone when my periods were officially declared over after thirteen months of no shows. I was not a Crone at my second Saturn return at the age of 56 or thereabouts. Nor am I a Crone today in my mere 60s. Remember, 70 is the new 50. I have another decade or two before I retire my throne for a rocking chair or theater tickets or bingo chips. It is way too early for me to rest on my laurels, I haven’t even planted them all yet.

When I deny my Cronedom it is not because I am afraid of aging. Trust me. I want to be the oldest women who ever lived and savor every last minute of life. I want to live to be 100 (and I want to know that I am 100)! And that’s not so farfetched. One in 50 people are living to 100 these days and the odds get better every year. At the turn of the Twentieth Century, the average age of menopause was 48 and the average life expectancy for women was 52. Today, according to Dr. Christiane Northrup, if a woman reaches her fifties without any chronic disease, she has every right to expect to live well into her nineties.

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But I am not old yet. And I am certainly not as wise as I hope to be when I do grow up to be a Crone. Don’t get me wrong. I am smart as hell. But true wisdom is different. It comes from experiencing life consciously and deeply over time, with enough time elapsed for reflection, overview, and perspective. I am still punching in my hours of learning, earning every minute of my experience. After decades of service in my Mother years, now it is my turn to be active, out there, in charge of my own life, and influential in the world. This is my Queen stage of life. I rule!

Someday I will be an awesome Crone. But I am not yet ready, not capable, not worthy. Nor are the other 60 million women in the United States who are somewhere in the midst of their midlife changes. We occupy a truly unique position, poised on the brink of uncharted waters. This extended and vigorous midlife period which we are now beginning to experience is largely unaccounted for in myth and archetype for the simple reason that such longevity has never before occurred for the great masses of women as a whole. We desperately need new role models, examples, and teachers to encourage us as we explore the unfamiliar terrain of our changing lives and create new and joyful ways of being at home in our own skin and in charge of our own destiny.

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Where do we fit in the Triple Goddess paradigm? We haven’t been Maidens in ages. We are no longer Mother material, and we are not yet ready to be Crones. So who are we supposed to be right now? The Triple Goddess archetype doesn’t include a description of my life or the lives of other contemporary women in their middle years living in modern developed countries. It does not address our issues and needs, nor does it embrace our unique and unprecedented position in society. It does not even recognize our existence. The old stereotypes simply do not apply to us.

Archetype refers to the universal description of a type. The Triple Goddess leaves out the biggest single population group in Western developed countries, making it decidedly not universal. Clearly it is time for a change of paradigm. Which is as it should be. Life is about nothing if not change. This is the greatest teaching of the Goddess, after all. Her power and inspiration lies in Her cyclical nature, Her infinite flexibility, Her adept adaptability, Her unbounded ability to always and forever change. The Great Goddess, Supreme Mistress of Change, transformation artist extraordinaire, will surely respond to the changes in our lives and times by enlarging the vision of Her Self to include Her fourth dimension — and ours.

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When I hit 50 and was nowhere near being a Crone, I felt the need to invent a new mythic example that I could relate and aspire to, one that would spur me on and sustain me through my midlife changes. So I formulated a fourth stage of development that would place me after the Mother and before the Crone in a newly defined continuum of Womanhood, thus providing me and other women of my generation with a recognizable role model for our middle years: The Queen. And so the Triple Goddess grew to become The Four-Fold Goddess: The Maiden, the Mother, The Queen, and the Crone.

My construct of the four stages of a woman’s life is a much more accurate description of the current Way of Womanhood, which resonates deeply with contemporary women. Plus, the four periods of growth and change are in complete metaphoric alignment with the pervasive way that peoples have always ordered existence into Four Parts: The Four Quarters of the Moon, the Four Seasons of the Year, the Four Solstices and Equinoxes, the Four Elements, the Four Cardinal Directions of the Earth, the Four Periods of the Day. The Four-Fold Goddess honors the entire inclusive range of existence.

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Is this hubris? Who am I to deconstruct an archetype that has been so meaningful for so many for so long? Who am I not to? I am a proud member of the pioneering Sixties Generation, and consequently, I have a wealth of experience in rebelling against the status quo of old, outdated archetypes and striving to replace them with new, more relevant ones. Our Baby Boom generation has demonstrated again and again over the decades that it is not only possible, but it is necessary to create our own characters, compose our own scripts, and author the sagas of our own lives. Bereft of affirming depictions of our lives, today’s women-of-a-certain-age are more than ready, willing, and are perfectly able to invent our own. We are our own best role models.

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The Queen paradigm promotes a new understanding of what it might mean to be a middle-aged woman today who accepts complete responsibility for and to herself, and it celebrates the physical, emotional, and spiritual rewards of doing so. The Queen mythic model of maturity that I envision is recognizably like me, like us. Not yet old, yet no longer young, She stands in Her proper place — after the Mother and before the Crone — in No Woman’s Land. She plants Her feet and Her flag, and claims Her space in this previously uncharted midlife territory. Still active and sexy, vital with the enthusiasm and energy of youth, She is tempered with the hard-learned experience and leavening attitudes of age.

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes of Her own past, She has been forced to face and overcome difficult lessons and obstacles including Her own shadow, and in so doing, has outgrown the boundaries of Her old Self. The Queen bursts forth from adversity and previous constraints, actual or imagined, to become a proficient player in the game plan of Her own choosing. The Queen does not invite hard times and trouble, but She chooses to use them well. Actualized, organized, efficient, self-sufficient, competent, ethical, and fair, the Queen has struggled for and earned Her authority and respect.

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Agitated by the unessential and restless for authenticity, She sheds all attachment to the opinions of others and accepts complete responsibility and control for Her own care, feeding, and fulfillment. Determined and firmly centered on Her own two feet, She dares to climb, step after step, with nascent surety into the heady realm of Her own highest majesty. She is the Queen of Her Self, the mature monarch, the sole sovereign of Her own life. Here, finally, is an archetype that fits.

Once on Her throne and crowned, the Queen glows golden with confidence, competence, and grace. She is fully engaged and takes great pleasure in the feelings of freedom, elation, and wellbeing that come from personal empowerment. Shining from the inside out, Her attractiveness and attraction is rooted deeply in Her self-actualization, self-worth, and inner strength. She exudes a primal excitement, Her purpose, passion, and power palpable in Her very presence. This thrilling post-menopausal period of vitality, renewed energy, enhanced self-esteem, optimism, and enthusiasm comes to us in direct proportion to the intensity of our own conscious, conscientious engagement in the struggle for self-enfranchisement.

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It was through my own complicated process of coming of age that I conceived of the Queen as the missing link in the chain of life for modern women in the here-to-fore incomplete Triple Goddess archetype. Through my own intentions and concerted efforts, by constantly questioning, reevaluating, and reconfiguring, I reinvented my Self in the image of the woman who I had always hoped someday to be. Through striving to acknowledge, mourn, and then release what was irrevocably lost, I was ultimately able to recover my own misplaced vitality, interest, and energy after the long, hard, painful years of my disconcerting midlife changes and all of the hard knocks, bad news, and terrible truths that I had had to overcome in the fiery process.

All of my internal work eventually paid off. By the time I was 53 and my periods over for good, I knew myself to be the uncontested mistress of my own fate. Finally, completely Self-realized, I was ready and able, and for the first time in my life, I was actually willing to reign; to accept the responsibility for the truth and complete consequences of my own dreams, decisions, and actions. I was a maturing monarch prepared to regulate and rule all of the inner and outer realms of my own domain. Surely I was a Queen, and not a Crone. I was and am and intend forevermore to be the Queen of me.

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As long as I live, I will have control over
my being — you find the spirit of Caesar in me. 

-Artemisia Gentileschi
Italian painter
1593-1652

 

* ***
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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