Phenomenal Woman

Tank: Nordstroms, Shorts: Target, Shoes: Jessica Simpson, Necklace: Vestique, Watch: Michael Kors, Purse: Aldo

Since this is a personal style blog,  I have included pictures of what I wore over the weekend. A simple tank and shorts outfit funked up a bit with good shoes and a statement necklace.

However, unless you've been living under a rock, you know that today is the day that Dr. Maya Angelou left the physical world (and it seems strange to me to talk about anything else, really).

Maya Angelou is my favorite (faaaavorite, favorite, favorite) author, activist, and poet. Anyone who knows me well could tell you that. In fact, since I don't have any kids, 3 years ago when we got our puppy, I named her Maya (after the one and only). I have an enviable collection of her books and poems. I first read, " I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings" in 1993. I was 13. I had never read anything so powerful, disturbing, beautiful, relevant, or inspiring. I am not exaggerating when I say that that one book changed my life. It made me feel empowered and capable. I became almost obsessed with this woman who I had never met. A woman who was so different from me, yet so similar. It is one of my greatest regrets that I never met her.

It's strange how someone you have never known can impact you so much. I have never been touched by Maya Angelou, but somehow I felt I had been held by her. Never hugged, but somehow comforted. When I didn't have the words to lift myself (or other people I love) up... I borrowed hers.  My friend, Sara, gave me a small, square piece of paper with a Maya Angelou quote on it ("I think a hero is any person really intent on making this a better place for all people."), and I carried it around in my wallet for 6 years... pulling it out every once in a while to read the words and feel closer to my friend. As a matter of fact, Sara, hundreds of miles away, sent me a text message this morning that read:

Thinking of you as I heard of the passing of Maya Angelou. She is the author of one of my favorite quotes... "When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time". Sixteen years later my belief in you still holds strong. One of my most beautiful friends, inside and out. My sister, my soul mate, my friend.

I cried when I read that text. I cried because I miss my friend. I cried over the passing of a woman I never knew personally. I cried for a broken little girl... beaten, raped, overlooked, shamed, neglected. A girl who grew up the victim of poverty and racism in Arkansas. A teenage mother with every odd imaginable stacked against her. Yet with faith, education, confidence, fortitude, grace, dignity, and purposefulness. She rose. She became a world famous writer, performer, teacher, poet, speaker, motivator, and a symbol of what one person can do with one life and unshakable determination. I am not skilled enough to effectively articulate what I am feeling, nor are my words eloquent enough to do her any real justice. So again... now that words fail me, I will (as I have done so many times before) borrow hers.

Excerpt from “When Great Trees Fall":

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
gnaws on kind words
promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.” 

-Dr. Maya Angelou.

1 comment:

  1. I visit your blog regularly but never comment; however, this tribute was so thoughtful, personal and well done, it moved me to both comment and to tears.