The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife
Today we welcome Donna Henes to our blog so that we can chat about The Queen of My Self, a landmark book that celebrates a new mythic model for the middle years of a woman's life - the Queen! A celebration of the midlife woman in her prime who has achieved wisdom, mastery, and self-esteem, it provides upbeat, practical, and ceremonial inspiration for all women who want to enjoy the fruits of an influential, passionate, and powerful maturity.
NR: Welcome to Nourishing Relationships, Donna. Can you tell our readers something about your professional background and why you wrote The Queen of Myself?
DH: For 35 years I have been an urban shaman, a ceremonialist, a spiritual teacher and counselor, as well as an author and columnist. When I was approaching my 50th birthday, I realized that I needed an archetype to relate to and use as a role model for affirmative aging that just wasn't available anywhere. So I had to create one for myself and the other 60 million Baby Boom women entering their midlife.
NR: You talk about the midlife transition being very difficult for women. Why is this so?
DH: Midlife is all about loss: we lose our reproductive ability, our kids leave, our parents die, we reach our glass ceilings, our marriages founder.
NR: What do you think are women's greatest fears about being middle aged?
DH: Being invisible is a very big one. Another is losing our sex appeal and youthful beauty. It is only a disaster to loose our girlish charms if we deem them to be the exclusive path to beauty, love, and fulfillment. Our allure and sex appeal change with time — increase, even — if we allow them to. A woman is never too old to look and feel beautiful.
NR: The book mentions the Triple Goddess. What is this?
DH: The Triple Goddess is an (out dated) archetype for the three stages of a woman's life: The Maiden, the young girl; The Mother, the fertile care taker; and The Crone, the old, wise one.
NR: You say that this archetype no longer serves women as role models for the life cycle. Why is this?
DH: It leaves out women in their middle years who are long past maidenhood, ending their mothering years and not yet anywhere near being old. 1 out of 3 women in America is over 50 years old. Archetype means "universal." The Triple Goddess cannot be universal if it ignores 1/3 of all women.
NR: So you think you have a better model? Can you describe this?
DH: I added another stage for us women of a certain age: The Queen, the woman who is in charge of her own life and destiny and is out in the world in her power. So then we have a Four-Fold Goddess: The Maiden, The Mother, The Queen, and The Crone.
NR: What, exactly do you mean by Queen?
DH: The Queen is a woman who is still energetic with youth, yet wise with age. She is confident and beholden to no one. She thinks, speaks, acts for her Self and is secure being powerful. She has stepped into her sovereignty and wears it well.
The Queen refuses to condescend or conform to the adolescent and exploitative standard of beauty promulgated by popular culture. She does not deign to compare herself with teenage models or emaciated-lifted-stitched-tucked-injected-Hollywood-uber-beauties. A truly mature, secure woman accepts the inevitable physical changes that come with the passing of time and incorporates them into the way she presents herself to the world. Self-aware, Self-assured, she transforms her Self as she goes. She glows as she grows into her full potential, and becomes ever more becoming. Her reinvigorated attractiveness stems from Self-knowledge and enfranchisement; her magnetic sensuality is centered in the fulfillment and satisfaction of her Self-worth. She exudes the intoxicating appeal of a woman who is at heart, pleased with her Self.
NR: How does a woman go about becoming a Queen?
DH: She must decide and choose to accept the responsibility for her own desires and needs. She establishes boundaries and obeys only her own inner voice. She asserts her Self without guilt or apology.
The Queen uses the power of Her own purpose, growth, and gratification to claim and proclaim what is rightfully Hers, including — especially — Her own Self-image, charisma, and sexuality. When we are comfortable in our own skin, we carry ourselves with presence and pride, and project our formidable inner beauty out for all to see and appreciate.
Our emotional maturity and depth of character make women in our middle years extraordinarily and vitally attractive. We are substantial and robust, heady with the flavor of all that we have seen and done so far. We are pungent with profound experience, with pain and loss, exploration and transformation, glory and joy. The myriad lessons learned from lives intensely lived are reflected in our palate, which has become sophisticated, subtle, firm, and complex. Like fine wine and good cheese, women ripen and improve with age. Our essence becomes stronger, clearer, and infinitely more powerful. What could be more sexy?
NR: What are the benefits to aging?
DH: A liberating sense of Self. A Gallop poll revealed that despite facing the loss of so much on every level, women declare themselves to be the happiest after the age of 55. They might lose the pigment in their hair and the elasticity of their skin, their parents and their children, but they have gained THEMSELVES! This is glorious.
Once the Queen has conquered the challenges in Her life, she begins to claim Her royal power. She cuts through fear and ambivalence to become the sole ruler of Her Self. She has struggled for Her transformation and has achieved it. Her proud potency is palpable, Her authenticity uncontested. Her life now takes on a new ease, a grace, a certain lightness of being born of Her Self-knowing, Self-respecting, Self-directing, Self-projecting passion and purpose. She sails ahead on Her own steam, cutting efficiently through seas that are sometimes smooth as glass, sometimes choppy and fraught with danger. Her age and vast experience is Her ballast. She keeps Her center, come what may.
But something else remarkable takes place once the Queen has stepped into sovereignty. Now that Her own life is in working order and running more smoothly, the Queen can afford to enlarge the territory and expand the horizons of Her Interests and influence and extend the parameters of Her physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual domain. Firmly rooted in Her best Self and acting on Her own behalf, She is free to reach out in ever increasing concentric circles to others. Now She can freely offer Her compassion, expertise, time, and money to people and causes that call to Her sense of response-ability, literally Her ability to respond.
NR: Can you tell us more about response-ability?
DH: Response-ability is the willingness to encounter each person, situation, event, and emotion with an open heart and an open mind, so that we can respond to the needs of others and our own needs with equal care. Born of awareness and consideration, response-ability means choosing to be fully conscious and present in life and to participate conscientiously in its enfoldment.
Maturity brings with it the understanding that everything is not about us. That the world does not revolve around our personal story. That we do not exist in a vacuum. And that all those other people out there actually have lives of their own and are not simply extras in our movie.
Life and living have shown the Queen the value of community, cooperation, concern, care, and communion. Knowing Herself to be an integral, inextricably interconnected part of a greater whole, She multiplies Her ministrations to include the welfare of the entire world around Her.
NR: Do you have any final thoughts for our readers?
DH: If we mighty Queens bring to bear the amazing experience, understanding, and acumen that we have to share, we can, together, restore balance and bring healing to a world that seems bent on destruction.
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 a generation of fiery, accomplished, clever, 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 Empress Energy: our purity of purpose, our passion, our heartfelt compassion, and our enormous power, and let us direct it toward creating a safe, sublime, and peaceful world for us all. The future is in our very capable hands.
NR: Our thanks go out to you, Donna, for sharing your exciting work with us. You've stimulated us all to think about our power and take up the challenge to use it wisely. Now it's time for our readers to have the opportunity to connect with you personally - just click on the "Comment" link below to talk to Donna about what's going on in your "queendom." We'll highlight your questions and Donna's responses here on Friday.
And check our blog tomorrow for information about the launch of Celia Westberry's new book, Eat Yourself Younger Effortlessly.