The loss of Dr. Maya Angelou really did render me speechless. I’d never met her, but there’s such a natural attraction to her light, even now, that I truly feel like I lost a great aunt or someone of that sort very, close to me. See, Dr. Angelou was introduced to be at a very young age by a few educators who played a significant role in my life-Mrs. Beverly Mines, Mr. Wilbur Smart, and Mrs. Charlynne Mines-Smart. I believe it was at the same time that they introduced me to Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation (well that was really Mr. Smart who just loved to dance) that they also introduced me to “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” I clearly remember what the cover of that book looked like in the library of Lena Park Community Center. Then the other children in my after school program and I got to watch the movie and learn her story. Since then, her light has developed an attraction to her work that I just never shook. So, as I think of what she has left behind in just this one person from Boston, Massachusetts, I truly can’t boil it down to a few points…I just can’t. What I can do though, is share what’s resonated with me most over this past week as everyone was posting one thing or another of from her pictures or her quotes. One quote in particular stood out to me the most:
“Though we face defeat, we must not be defeated.”
There’s so much to unpack here.
1-Not all days are good…such is the reality of life. Yes, in living fabulously fierce, we always try to remain positive, look at the brighter side of things, seek the silver linings in the storms, maintain optimism and all of that jazz. The reality of life though is that we will face defeat…it’s not a consequence of living but evidence of it and we have to accept that not everything will be as we expect it, outcomes will not always yield to our desires….and this is all absolutely ok…such is the reality of life, the evidence of living.
2-Circumstances do not define you, you do. At one point, Dr. Angelou shared that “I would like to be known as an intelligent woman, a courageous woman, a loving woman, a woman who teaches by being.” Now if you know anything at all about her story, you are aware that her life’s circumstances, especially the beginnings of her days, were not pleasant, peaceful, or anything you would like any child to experience, to say the least. And yet, in the face of her circumstances, she refused to accept definition under what she faced but instead, determined who and what she would be and how others would perceive her. Fierce! What more can I say?
3-You must already have your ‘pick up’ strategy in play. Now because we know there will be bad days and tough experiences, we have to know how we’re going to get back in the game when we’ve been fouled. You can’t wait to be hit on the court of life to determine how you’re going to come back and how hard you will too. Now, here’s the deal, you can even include a pity party if you want to or you can commit to not even given any space to one, but the reality is, you have to decide before it all happens. I’ll admit, I’m one who probably doesn’t give myself enough time to “mourn” over bad experiences or what I may perceive as losses every now and then. I remember my first adult break up…you’d think I’d sit home, get some ice cream and watch a sad movie and cry or something….nope, I went to the movies…a really good and funny one too. What I’ve learned though, is that there is value in taking the time to reflect on the “defeats” we face because it is in that process that we can really take away the intended learned, yielding the needed growth. With all of this in mind, no matter what though, we have to have predetermined strategies around how we’re going to move from facing the “defeat” to progressing from it and staying out of the defeated mindset.
So, again, there’s so much I could share in taking some time to pay tribute to the legacy of Dr. Angelou but on the scale of resonance this week, this message stood out stood out at the higher end of the spectrum. And for you my friends? Do share, your favorite Maya quote, moment, or message…one that has resonated most with you as we reflect on her light this week.
Soundtrack of the week: Yolanda Adams’ Fo’ Sho’ as a reminder that always, at the end of the day, things always work out, for sure!