Life Lessons Learned From… Maya Angelou

Beloved American literary figure Maya Angelou has passed away at the age of 86 at her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Dr. Maya Angelou was one of the most influential voices of our generation. As a teacher, a speaker, an activist, and a survivor, she was a warrior for civil equality. As a writer and a multi-faceted artist, she gave words wings. All of Maya’s enriching contributions – her books, her memoirs, her essays, her poetry, her screenplays, her spoken word albums, and her speeches – have made their way into the consciousness and hearts of people from all around the globe. The autobiographical I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, which tells the tale of her childhood experiences of poverty, abuse, and racism, was a groundbreaking work of literature. She faced and overcame her struggles with steadfast self-reliance, and utilized her gift for writing to share her stories of human endurance in an effort to help others who are subjugated and give them the courage to speak.

I have come across Maya’s expressive and enlightening words throughout my life and was always struck by her wisdom and strength. Her compassionate voice, full of love and life, has a way of inspiring you to go out and make a difference in this world. Her spirit will continue to live on in the lives of those she has touched, as a rainbow in their clouds, and as the sunlight in their blue skies. As Maya once said, “What I would really like said about me is that I dared to love”. You sure did that, sister.

“If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.”

“In diversity there is beauty and there is strength.”

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

“The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart.”

“When I am writing, I am trying to find out who I am, who we are, what we’re capable of, how we feel, how we lose and stand up, and go on from darkness into darkness.”

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.”

“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”

“The desire to reach for the stars is ambitious. The desire to reach hearts is wise.”

“Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.”

“Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.”

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. The encountering may be the very experience which creates the vitality and the power to endure.”

“Just like moons and like suns, with the certainty of tides, just like hopes springing high, still I’ll rise.”

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”

“When we decide to be happy we accept the responsibility to bring happiness to someone else.”

“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”

“[Love] encourages us to develop courage and build bridges, and then to trust those bridges and cross the bridges in attempts to reach other human beings.”

“We spend precious hours fearing the inevitable. It would be wise to use that time adoring our families, cherishing our friends and living our lives.”

“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.”

“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.”

“My wish for you is joy. When you wish someone joy, you wish peace, love, prosperity, health, happiness… all the good things.”

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

Rest peacefully, Maya Angelou (1928-2014)

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