I first heard Phenomenal Woman, one of Maya Angelou’s many poems that touched where I live a few months ago. You can hear it yourself by clicking on the video imbedded in this newsletter. Ms. Angelou grew up in the southern United States at a time when the Klu Klux Klan were still openly present. She has survived abuse and hardship and thrived to become a teacher and role model for men and women of all race and colour.
In all of her biographies of hers that I’ve read so far, she demonstrates and personifies an attitude and approach toward life that we can live by daily. Pick any one of these quotes and use it as a mantra for that day:
- Try to be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.
- If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.
- You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.
- Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and how you do it.
- My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.
Agelou’s life has certainly been a full one: from the hardscrabble Depression era South to pimp, prostitute, supper club chanteuse, performer in Porgy and Bess, coordinator for Martin Luther King Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference, journalist in Egypt and Ghana in the heady days of decolonization, comrade of Malcolm X, and eyewitness to the Watts riots. She knew King and Malcolm, Billie Holiday, and Abbey Lincoln. Reviewer John McWhorter, The New Republic
Dr. Maya Angelou Recites Her Poem “Phenomenal Woman”