28 May 2014

From the Ashes I Rise: The Wisdom of Maya Angelou

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.
~ Maya Angelou


May is National Mental Health Awareness Month.  Join me in blogging to erase the stigma of mental illness so our loved ones can seek the help they need.



I
f it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing badly” is some of the silliest advice I’ve ever heard.

I understand what’s being conveyed by that statement: if it’s worth doing, get out there and give it your best shot.  Don’t just sit there worrying whether it’s perfect.

But sometimes, when it’s worth writing, or talking about, it’s worth marinating, editing, tweaking.  Leaving and returning to it later.

My post today was going to touch on one of my hot button issues.  But then I read an epic post on the blog of my virtual writing mentor, Mary Jaksch. Basically, the author, James Chartrand, posits that if it’s worth publishing, it’s worth spending more than an hour or two to write it.

The Epicness of Maya Angelou
Instead, I want to talk about someone who was epic all by herself.  Someone with grace, poise, talent, and a heart the size of North America.  Someone who rose from the ashes of childhood abuse and trauma.  Someone who turned her tears and her sorrow and her pain into words that comforted, inspired, motivated, and called to action.

Dr. Maya Angelou.

I am not a weepy person, but having slept poorly and for only a few hours last night morphed into the world’s most nauseous migraine and exhaustion and when I saw the news about this beautiful national treasure, I almost broke down and cried.  Almost, because you know crying in public is embarrassing and shameful.


Phoenix
Image credit: Redeyesa, Deviant Art
And still I have much to learn, and much to heal from. 

Still I Rise
Every one of her poems has touched me deeply in some way.  Despite our differing backgrounds and experiences and ages, each one touched on some human experience that I could nonetheless relate to and feel and absorb. 

It’s difficult to believe she’s gone.  And as you know, death is not an easy subject for me.  But I believe that in the end, she will rise.

And because she embraced her destiny, because she embraced both past, present, and future, she has left behind an incredible legacy.  Of words and poetry and literature; of love and life and wisdom.

Her life was not easy one and yet she used it as grain for the mill; turning tragedy into something else.  Learning the hard way that you can’t change what happens to you but you can change how you react to it.

“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.”

If only we all strived to do the same ~ what a wonderful world this would be.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

Have you read any of Maya Angelou’s books?  What touched you the most about her life or her work?

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