I am having a hard time gathering my thoughts about the news that Maya Angelou has died. She was a great poet, writer and woman. My heart is completely broken at hearing she has died. She was a writer who inspired many of us with her words and what they meant. But she was one of my heroes of a handful of great women. I don’t have many heroes in this world but she was it. Through her words, she made me believe that I could do and be anything. She made the world a better place.
She was a renowned poet, historian and civil rights advocate. She changed the world and the ripples of her life well spent will be felt for ages. She wouldn’t allow herself any limitations because she knew possibilities are endless if we got out of our own way. So many of us stop ourselves from doing, being, getting what we want out of life out of fear of failure. Not her, she stood there and held her ground.
When I read, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, it spoke to me. I felt her pain. Our situations were different but I could relate to the shame, worthlessness and insecurity that she felt as a young girl. She became my hero when I read that book because I knew she was brave and strong and amazing.
Life is hard and not kind to all of us. Some children need someone to make them believe in themselves either by words of encouragement or words of inspiration, she inspired me to go after my dreams. Her words were soft and hard and truthful and honest and she could see right through life’s bullshit.
I read Phenomenal Woman when I was battling eating disorders and she made me feel beautiful at a moment in my life when I felt so ugly and undeserving.
She wasn’t afraid to face the impossible to become who she wanted to be. She shattered all the limits. She reached millions with her words. She touched hearts and broadened minds and now she is gone and all of her words that I have read since childhood are flooding my mind all at once.
I want to sob because it feels like I lost a wise grandmother who had all the answers to the secrets of the universe. It’s an unexpected and overwhelming sense of loss. She may no longer be with us on this earth but the world was a better place for having her in it for 86 years and I , for one, will keep her spirit alive by sharing her words with my daughters.
Some of my favorite Maya quotes
“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.”
“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”
“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.”
“We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.”
“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.”
“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.”
“Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.”
“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”
“Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.”
“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”
“The race of man is suffering
And I can hear the moan,
Can make it out here alone.”
“I want to thank you, Lord, for the life and all that’s in it,
Thank you for the day and for the hour, and the minute. “
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
“Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.
“If we lose love and self respect for each other, this is how we finally die.”
You will be missed in this world but your words will live on in our hearts forever. There will never be another Maya Angelou. They broke the mold with her. Rest in eternal peace, my hero.
Maya Angelou April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014