Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Phenomenal Woman

I was thinking about the poem Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou and looked it up so I could read it to myself when I feel down. I especially love the first stanza. I also happened across many great quotes of hers and thought I'd compile some here. And paste them onto anything that will stand still so I can always see her powerful words.

Phenomenal Woman

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
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
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
I say,
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

"A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song."

"I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it."

"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."

"Courage: the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can't practice any other virtue consistently."

"You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody."

"I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better."
(similarly: "Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.")

''The quality of strength lined with tenderness is an unbeatable combination, as are intelligence and necessity when unblunted by formal education.''

"...if the future road looms ominous or unpromising, and the roads back uninviting, then we need to gather our resolve and, carrying only the necessary baggage, step off that road into another direction. If the new choice is also unpalatable, without embarrassment, we must be ready to change that as well."

"If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love. Don't be surly at home, then go out in the street and start grinning "Good morning" at total strangers.''
(Oops, gotta remember this one.)

''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 Woman in harmony with her spirit
is like a river flowing.
She goes where she will without pretense and arrives at her destination
prepared to be herself
and only herself "

On her writing process:
When I'm writing, I keep a hotel room. I have everything taken off the walls, and I bring in yellow pads, a Roget's Thesaurus, a dictionary, a Bible, a deck of cards and a bottle of sherry. I sit at a little table and play solitaire... My grandmother used to say when I was young, "You know, that's not even on my littlest mind." And so I determined that the human being has a big mind and a little mind. The cards occupy my little mind so I can get to the big mind and hear the language.

"You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have."

"Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for."

"Whining is not only graceless, but it can be dangerous. It can alert a brute that a victim is in the neighborhood."

"Living well is an art that can be developed: a love of life and ability to take great pleasure from small offerings and assurance that the world owes you nothing and that every gift is exactly that, a gift. "

"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."

"No Matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow."

"Love life. Engage in it. Give it all you've got. Love it with a passion because life truly does give back, many times over, what you put into it."