My [redacted] Journey

A teacher's search for inner peace.

Thank You, Maya Angelou; I Am a Phenomenal Woman

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May 29, 2014

Dear Readers,

I owe Maya Angelou a debt of gratitude, may she rest in peace.  I was 22 years old the first time I read Angelou’s poem “Phenomenal Woman”.  And although I wasn’t one at the time, I just knew that one day, I would be a phenomenal woman.  Well, dear Readers, today is that day.

Phenomenal (adjective) very remarkable; extraordinary.

It takes a certain amount of confidence, not ego, to call oneself phenomenal, but I daresay that I have that confidence.  I have not always possessed such conviction, and quite frankly, it does come and go at times.  But by and large, I have self-assurance in myself and my abilities.  I know what I do well, and I know how to capitalize on it.

 

What makes me a phenomenal woman lies not in my looks or my dress size.  What makes me a phenomenal woman is in the way I carry myself, the way I present myself to the world.  I try and live my life so as to not hurt others.  And inevitably, when I do hurt someone, I seek forgiveness and try and make amends.  I acknowledge to myself, my children, my students, my siblings and the world, that I am sorry for my wrongdoings, that I am remorseful, and I am willing to do better in the future.

Now, don’t get the wrong idea, dear Readers.  I conduct myself in this manner for not altogether altruistic reasons.  I choose to behave this way because I choose to be happy.  Happiness is a choice.  I do not want to live a contented life.  I do not want to live a satisfactory life.  I do not want to live an adequate life.  I want to live a happy life; I choose to live a happy life.  And with 50 years of life to my credit, I realize that I am happiest when I forgive others and seek forgiveness for myself.

Another reason I am a phenomenal woman is because I have always had the courage to live a life true to myself, and not the life others have expected of me.  In my adult life, I have certainly made my share of bad decisions.  However, those bad decisions generally came as a result of my not being courageous enough to stand on my values.  One of the most courageous things I have had to do was based on the values I developed with regard to raising children.  I value a child’s curiosity.  I value a child’s need to question authority.  I value a child’s need to be informed, relative to their age and understanding.  And I value a child’s right to be an individual and have independent thoughts.  Trust me when I tell you, dear Readers, there were many days when I wanted to toss those values right out the window and yell, “Because I said so!” to one, or all of my children.  And perhaps I did on occasion.

However, in the end, I had to remain true to my convictions, my values.  I wanted to raise my children to be loving, caring, and forgiving.  I wanted to raise my children to respect and honor God, themselves, others and Mother Earth.  I also wanted to raise my children to question authority, respectfully, of course, and to never follow blindly; to raise them to be independent, contributing members of society.  And I believe I did.

“So,” you ask, “what was courageous about that?”  It was courageous because I knew that my children would develop their own courage to live their lives true to themselves, and not the life others (me, I) expected of them.  And I knew their courage would take them to places far away from home.  Subsequently, given how very much I love and miss my children, it took a phenomenal woman to raise them in such a manner as to let them go.

 

Thank you, Maya Angelou, you inspired me some thirty years ago.  Now, I too, am a phenomenal woman.  Peace, ~v.

*Excerpts from Maya Angelou’s “Phenomenal Women”.  See here for the poem in its entirety.

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