I'm taking a step back or maybe a step to the side from my regular blog programming today to talk about something on my heart. The poet, Dr. Maya Angelou, died yesterday at the age of 86. She left behind a wealth of writing and performance that will continue to bless us for years to come.
Unlike some of my blogger friends, I never had the opportunity to meet Dr. Angelou or hear her speak in person. I was more of a remote fan, tuning into her countless appearances on Oprah and watching her on television during her brilliant oration in 1993 at President Bill Clinton's first inauguration.
I clearly remember the first time I read her poem, Phenomenal Woman. I was in college, my first-time away from home for an extended period of time, a bit unsure of my place in the world around me, feeling small. I typically read words of any kind quickly in my head, often skipping a few here or there to rush to the point. And as I began her first stanza, I felt compelled to read her words slowly, carefully. Sounding out each syllable in the word Phe-nom-e-nal as I read it and repeated it. The letters themselves seemed to possess a tenacity and resiliency.
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I read and reread that poem. And as I did, I started to understand that I had my own spot from which to stand. And that because of, and not despite, the curves I possess and the strength of my character, I was my own brand of phenomenal. And I visualized all of the phenomenal women I had encountered in my life and saw them again for the beauty they each held.
It was one of those moments that will be significant to me, even though I was merely sitting on my bed, reading from a book. Dr. Angelou taught me or at least pulled out something from within me that I'd missed along the way...
Listen to her articulate the five stanzas like no one else could:
I felt a pang go through me yesterday upon reading of Dr. Angelou's passing. Our paths never crossed yet her work struck a chord with me. That's the power of words, of poetry, of art. Her poems had and have lifted me from one place to another. Her spirit will live on through her wisdom.
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As I read through the illustrations of her words, I found myself typing, "Amen!" or "yes!" to each social media post. The eight I'm sharing with you today are some of my very favorites from talented makers and designers.
Thank you, Dr. Maya Angelou, for helping me to recognize the Phenomenal I was created to be and inspiring generations of women and men to do the same.
P.S. Here's one more from me. I just couldn't resist.