Thursday, May 29, 2014


I can name 5 books that impacted me deeply. They changed the way I looked at the world and myself - The Bible, Harriet the Spy, Start with Why, Freakonomics and Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now.  I was deeply saddened by the lost of Dr. Maya Angelou yesterday.  I struggled all day long thinking about how to externalize what I was feeling.

In 1996, I was commuting to my last semester of college from home.  I had moved back home that year to help with a family situation.  My semester was easy course wise because I had left all my electives to the end. I had an entire semester of electives.  But the drive was brutal.  An hour one way into the country.  I was preparing for graduate school.  Applying, interviewing and deciding.  I felt very at home at my university.  It was small and friendly.  I was involved in lots of things.  I was looking at graduate schools that were large, out of state and some out of the south.  Big changes.  I listened to a lot of books on tape that semester.

My momma gave me Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey now on cassette.  I listened and feel in love.  Maya read the book herself.  I loved listening to her talk.  Journey is a collection of her thoughts and lessons. It's not a sequential retelling of her life.  Her lessons spoke directly to my heart.  Her words changed me and molded me into who I was becoming (not who I am, I'm not finished).

As I struggled yesterday I wanted to share which words impacted me the most.  So, I went back through Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now.  Here are Dr. Angelou's words that shaped my heart...

On Style - "We should be aware of all we do and how we do all that we do.  Never try to take the manners of another as your own.  For the theft will be immediately evident and the thieve will appear as ridiculous as  robin with peacock feathers hastily stuck on it."

"Meet adverse situations with the intent and style to control it."

On Humor - "A woman should keep her sense of humor intact and at the ready.  She must see, even if only in secret, that she is the funniest, looniest woman in her world, which she should also see as the most absurd world of all time. "

On Life - "Human beings are more alike than they are unlike"

"We are created creative."

"Life loves the liver of it."

"Because of our routines we forget that life is an ongoing adventure."

"What you're supposed to do when you don't like a thing is change it.  If you can't change it, change the way you think about it.  Don't complain." (this was advice from her grandmother)

On Direction - "Each of us has the right and the responsibility to assess the roads which lie ahead and those over which we have traveled and if the future road looms ominous or unpromising and the roads back uninviting, the we need to gather our resolve and, carrying only the necessary baggage, step off that road and into another direction.  If the new choice is also unacceptable, without embarrassment we must be ready to change that one as well."

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