In The Queen of My Self, Donna Henes boldly and audaciously— as any Queen worth her salt would do— challenges the popular paradigm of the three phases in a woman’s life, that of Maiden, Mother, Crone. She very sensibly argues that with a modern woman’s life span increasing, perhaps we are too quick to Crone ladies at age 50. This refers to the current trend in the Goddess community to honor women who have hit this milestone birthday— the half century mark— with a ritual/coming-out party which pays homage to the celebrant’s status. Henes is all for celebrating a woman’s midlife achievements. However, she suggests a new archetype be introduced (instead of jumping the gun to “crone”), and that is of “the Queen.”

Henes speaks about her own experience in approaching her 50th birthday and her hesitancy in being croned. “How could I,” she writes “in all honesty and any modesty, claim the mantle of the Crone while a mere middle-ager? That would be like saying that someone who is in their twenties is as smart and as practiced as I am.” The author points out that just as there are four seasons, perhaps there are four phases in a woman’s lifetime, with Queen representing what would be autumn, and winter reflecting the true Crone. Incredibly generous and honest in her personal saga, Henes shares her own experience during the Mother aspect of her life, where she confronted and lived with much tragedy. She even refers to one period as being “in the hospice zone.” Having come to terms with losses that sapped her very essence in her forties, Henes found herself experiencing a renewed vigor and a respect for the sacredness of life in her early 50s.

Punctuated with thought-provoking quotes throughout, such as “You take your life in your own hands, and what happens? A terrible thing: no one to blame” (Erica Jong), the book also features segments entitled “The Queen Suggests”— just in case you are firmly entrenched in midlife and are not experiencing the self-confidence and independence that Henes vehemently believes is your sovereign right. Some suggestions are for your coronation or crowning ceremony, and others are breathing exercises to connect to your Kundalini energy which is suspected to be unleashed with the hot flashes of menopause. The author even gives feng shui advice— I did not know that your kitchen stove represents the central furnace of the self. Henes points out that most folks use only the same one or two burners, and suggests lighting all four at once, even for a moment, to ensure that you are “cooking on all four burners.”

Written in a tone which is reminiscent of a wise girlfriend encouraging you to take on life, Henes also made me laugh out loud several times. As I seemed to need bifocals the exact day I turned 40, I related to this: “Now, I love the fact that we lose our vision and our youthful beauty at the same time. What we can’t see can’t hurt us. It is a brilliant kindness to our vanity that reinforces in me the belief that God is surely a Goddess.” Throughout, the author has been there and done that. The Queen of My Self serves as the motivation for women in midlife to ascend to their thrones. Surely with the experiences garnered by a 50th birthday, every woman deserves that right.

— Diane Saarinen



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