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Phonemenal Maya Angelou’s words to live by

“How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!” Maya Angelou

As we say goodbye to Maya Angelou, her famous words of wisdom and inspiration will be forever embroidered into the tapestry of our lives…

Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.

I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size

But when I start to tell them,

They think I’m telling lies.

I say,

It’s in the reach of my arms,

The span of my hips,

The stride of my step,

The curl of my lips.

I’m a woman

Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,

That’s me.

I walk into a room

Just as cool as you please,

And to a man,

The fellows stand or

Fall down on their knees.

Then they swarm around me,

A hive of honey bees.

I say,

It’s the fire in my eyes,

And the flash of my teeth,

The swing in my waist,

And the joy in my feet.

I’m a woman

Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,

That’s me.

On aging:

At 50, I began to know who I was. It was like waking up to myself.

I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.

I learned a long time ago the wisest thing I can do is be on my own side, be an advocate for myself and others like me.

The most important thing I can tell you about aging is this: If you really feel that you want to have an off-the-shoulder blouse and some big beads and thong sandals and a dirndl skirt and a magnolia in your hair, do it. Even if you're wrinkled.

On children and home:

Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.

Children's talent to endure stems from their ignorance of alternatives.

My greatest blessing has been the birth of my son. My next greatest blessing has been my ability to turn people into children of mine.

I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.

The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.

On creativity -- writing, art, music:

Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning.

The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart.

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.

Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.

Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.

Everybody born comes from the Creator trailing wisps of glory. We come from the Creator with creativity. I think that each one of us is born with creativity.

I believe that every person is born with talent.

I know some people might think it odd - unworthy even - for me to have written a cookbook, but I make no apologies. The U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins thought I had demeaned myself by writing poetry for Hallmark Cards, but I am the people's poet so I write for the people.

Easy reading is damn hard writing. But if it's right, it's easy. It's the other way round, too. If it's slovenly written, then it's hard to read. It doesn't give the reader what the careful writer can give the reader.

All great artists draw from the same resource: the human heart, which tells us that we are all more alike than we are unalike.

Find a beautiful piece of art. If you fall in love with Van Gogh or Matisse or John Oliver Killens, or if you fall love with the music of Coltrane, the music of Aretha Franklin, or the music of Chopin - find some beautiful art and admire it, and realize that that was created by human beings just like you, no more human, no less.

I read the Bible to myself; I'll take any translation, any edition, and read it aloud, just to hear the language, hear the rhythm, and remind myself how beautiful English is.

Like a pianist runs her fingers over the keys, I'll search my mind for what to say. Now, the poem may want you to write it. And then sometimes you see a situation and think, 'I'd like to write about that.' Those are two different ways of being approached by a poem, or approaching a poem.

Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.

On civil rights and equality:

The need for change bulldozed a road down the center of my mind.

I am never proud to participate in violence, yet I know that each of us must care enough for ourselves that we can be ready and able to come to our own defence when and wherever needed.

I speak to the black experience, but I am always talking about the human condition.

The truth is, no one of us can be free until everybody is free.

No man can know where he is going unless he knows exactly where he has been and exactly how he arrived at his present place.

Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.

Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future and renders the present inaccessible.

It's good to remember that in crises, natural crises, human beings forget for awhile their ignorances, their biases, their prejudices. For a little while, neighbors help neighbors and strangers help strangers.

It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.

We can learn to see each other and see ourselves in each other and recognize that human beings are more alike than we are unalike.

On cooking:

I'm just someone who likes cooking and for whom sharing food is a form of expression.

Eating is so intimate. It's very sensual. When you invite someone to sit at your table and you want to cook for them, you're inviting a person into your life.

Writing and cookery are just two different means of communication.

On life and living:

Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud.

One isn't necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can't be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.

Nothing will work unless you do.

Whatever you want to do, if you want to be great at it, you have to love it and be able to make sacrifices for it.

When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.

It's one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

I can be changed by what happens to me but I refuse to let myself be reduced by it.

Everything in the universe has a rhythm, everything dances.

Ask for what you want and be prepared to get it!

All great achievements require time.

If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.

We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.

What is a fear of living? It's being preeminently afraid of dying. It is not doing what you came here to do, out of timidity and spinelessness. The antidote is to take full responsibility for yourself - for the time you take up and the space you occupy. If you don't know what you're here to do, then just do some good.

Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can't practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.

Life loves the liver of it.

You are the sum total of everything you've ever seen, heard, eaten, smelled, been told, forgot - it's all there. Everything influences each of us, and because of that I try to make sure that my experiences are positive.

Our stories come from our lives and from the playwright's pen, the mind of the actor, the roles we create, the artistry of life itself and the quest for peace.

I have a feeling that I make a very good friend, and I'm a good mother, and a good sister, and a good citizen. I am involved in life itself - all of it. And I have a lot of energy and a lot of nerve.

I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.

Life loves to be taken by the lapel and told: 'I'm with you kid. Let's go.'

My life has been one great big joke, a dance that's walked a song that's spoke, I laugh so hard I almost choke when I think about myself.

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.

In all my work, I try to say - 'You may be given a load of sour lemons, why not try to make a dozen lemon meringue pies?'

I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.

If I am not good to myself, how can I expect anyone else to be good to me?

I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way (s)he handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.

Self-pity in its early stage is as snug as a feather mattress. Only when it hardens does it become uncomfortable.

On love and loving:

The desire to reach for the stars is ambitious. The desire to reach hearts is wise.

If you have only one smile in you give it to the people you love.

Have enough courage to trust love one more time.

If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded.

Love is like a virus. It can happen to anybody at any time.

Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.

Loving someone liberates the lover as well as the beloved. And that kind of love comes with age.

You can't forgive without loving. And I don't mean sentimentality. I don't mean mush. I mean having enough courage to stand up and say, 'I forgive. I'm finished with it.'

Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.

My great hope is to laugh as much as I cry; to get my work done and try to love somebody and have the courage to accept the love in return.

The love of the family, the love of one person can heal. It heals the scars left by a larger society. A massive, powerful society.

On religion:

And if a person is religious, I think it's good, it helps you a bit. But if you're not, at least you can have the sense that there is a condition inside you which looks at the stars with amazement and awe.

While I know myself as a creation of God, I am also obligated to realize and remember that everyone else and everything else are also God's creation.

On women:

I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life's a bitch. You've got to go out and kick ass.

A wise woman wishes to be no one's enemy; a wise woman refuses to be anyone's victim.

I'm interested in women's health because I'm a woman. I'd be a darn fool not to be on my own side.

Most plain girls are virtuous because of the scarcity of opportunity to be otherwise.

And it her own words on death:

“I don't know how much longer I'll be around. I'll probably be writing when the Lord says, 'Maya, Maya Angelou, it's time.'”

Alas, dear phenomal Maya Angelou, it’s time.

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