Maya Angelou and how she changed my life

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There are very few people I look up to, and regard as distant mentors, Maya Angelou is one of the few. When I heard of the passing of Maya Angelou, I got the same chills I got when I heard of Mandela’s Passing. I cried and just felt this emptiness, it was as if Maya was my mother, I felt I knew her, we connected on so many levels. Her quotes, her poems, her books spoke directly to me.

When I watched Maya Angelou’s session on Oprah’s Next Chapter, I got goosebumps all over me. Her child hood stories, her struggles, her pain and how she became a light in the world, how she went on to fulfill her dreams despite her challenges. I was tremendously inspired.

On Oprah’s Next Chapter, Maya shared the sad story of her childhood, a seven-year-old raped by her mother’s boyfriend and the man being beaten to death shortly after. She said she felt responsible for the man’s death and could no longer speak. As she explained, “I thought (my rapist) was killed because I spoke his name. That was the only logic I was able to employ. So I thought if I spoke, anybody might die.” Angelou said she stopped speaking for five years until a family friend a black woman with a love of poetry and language helped ease her out of isolation and back into the world again.

Angelou’s rekindled voice gave the world volumes of verse, stories, essays, screenplays, narratives…..  that has inspired generations of women to accept who they are, as she said, “being changed by what happens to me,” but to “refuse to be reduced by it.” (One of my best quote). Her life and message are about having courage to persist and overcome.

Angelou dropped out of high school to become San Francisco’s first African-American female cable car conductor. She returned to school, became pregnant and graduated a few weeks before her son was born. She left home at 16, supporting herself and her child as a nightclub dancer, a cook in a hamburger joint, and a paint stripper in an auto-body shop. Later, in 1952, she married a Greek sailor. Through it all, she held onto dreams of a creative life.

She showed me and taught me that no matter my situation with determination, discipline, love, focus and hard work, the sky is my starting point.

Maya influenced the world with her words! What are you going to influence the world with, how are you going to make a difference.

Some of my best quotes by Maya

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  • Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.
  • Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud (This quote changed my life in many ways)
  • Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.
  • If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.
  • There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.
  • I do not trust people who don’t love themselves and yet tell me, ‘I love you.’ There is an African saying which is: Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt.
  • We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • Nothing will work unless you do.
  • It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.

Continue to Rest In Peace Maya!! God bless your soul

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