Abandoned by her parents, raped by her mother’s boyfriend, homeless, high school dropout, and teen mom. What a prescription for disaster! Yet, Maya Angelou rose from such dreadful beginnings to become a towering figure of hope, beauty and insight for people of all ages and backgrounds.
How did she do it? Her own words are a testimony to her strength of character. Here are a few of my favorite:
“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”
“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.”
“Nothing will work unless you do.”
“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer; it sings because it has a song.”
“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps, hurdles, leaps, fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”
“Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God.”
“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.”
“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”
“Everything in the universe has a rhythm, everything dances.”
“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.”
“Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.”
“Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous or honest.”
“You are the sum total of everything you’ve ever seen, heard, eaten, smelled, been told, forgot. Everything influences each of us and because of that I try to make sure that my experiences are positive.”
“You may shoot me with your words; you may cut me with your eyes; you may kill me with your hatefulness; but still, like air, I’ll rise. “
“You may not control all the events that happen to you but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”
“You shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.”
“Try to be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.”
Will you see if you can be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud today?
Linda Sapadin, Ph.D. is a psychologist and success coach in private practice who specializes in helping people enrich their lives, enhance their relationships and overcome self-defeating patterns of behavior.