Maya Angelou didn’t know this then, but she probably knows it now, that her influence spread far and wide, by simply speaking her words aloud and lying them down on the path for others to pick up and use….sometimes wave like flags of freedom.
Maya (I feel close enough to her energy to call her by her first name) was first introduced to me in my early twenties through a book I had purchased at a garage sale, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” I was so intrigued by the title, but I was more intrigued by her transformational story of turning a tragedy into triumph. From there ever after, my ears perked up each time I heard her name or heard a quote. I collected her quotes on calendars and notebooks and other wonderful items. I devoured her words like substance to nourish and encourage my soul.
In 2007, I wrote a poem to her. I had told my daughters of her triumphs and used her example of courage and overcoming to assist them through some difficult times. You can read that poem Ode to Maya here. What’s interesting to me, is that the week before she died, I felt compelled to post it on her web-site without knowing she was suffering physically. My heart must have known.
Fast forward to my 50th birthday party. There once was a time I thought I would dread this day, but my friend Barb had a most amazing day, and she and my husband convinced me it was a right of passage that I should celebrate to the max! As a matter of fact, Joe, my husband, reminded me that some of the women who changed the world did their best work after 50.
Here’s how I celebrated:
For my childhood years, we had Big Red soda, sidewalk chalk, bubbles and board games.
For my teenage years, we danced and ate fast fun food. Though some of the music didn’t exist from my teen years, it was fun to dance and do
For my womanhood, I read a two poems from Maya, Phenomenal Woman, which encourages a woman to truly be herself, and Still I Rise which encourages women to rise from their deepest darkest depths and walk boldly.
For motherhood, moms told their favorite mom stories.
And lastly, my husband crowned me and I went through an archway representing all the lovely women who had gone before me whom had changed the world. Joe made a powerpoint of these women, including Oprah Winfrey and Maya Angelou and other amazing women all over the world. He believed, like I believe, that we all have the power to move and change the world. Maya was there at my party. Her spirit permeated the cards I was given and the books and the quotes I received, for my friends all knew how much she moved me and called me to action.
What this amazing woman proved to me was that one woman, one man, CAN make a difference. We do it every day by owning who we truly are and BEING who we truly are meant to be. ~Nemaste my friends and love to you dearest Maya and family.
June 1, 2014 at 7:33 pm
This was so well thought out and meaningful. Maya expressed herself, sharing her own personal journey where you were able to pick each stage in life where her words mattered and made a difference. Happy 50th birthday and thank you for this special message. It was also a fine tribute to her life, a life well led, despite the odds.
June 1, 2014 at 7:47 pm
Thank you for your words. They meant so much to me. I’m glad you could feel my intentions of celebrations.
June 1, 2014 at 10:02 pm
It sounds like you had a wonderful 50th birthday. You’re blessed to have a husband who values you, and we’re blessed to have YOU. 🙂
June 2, 2014 at 2:49 am
It was Rhonda! I’ve never really had a birthday party before, and I wanted to make sure that I was surrounded with people that I wanted to be with…so I did my own invitations…but when you’re fifty, it’s cool. My husband made me feel like a princess.
June 1, 2014 at 10:19 pm
A beautiful tribute and what a wonderful day you must have had that will carry forward for years to come.
June 2, 2014 at 2:50 am
Ahhh…thank you Sheri. It will be a lasting memory. I wonder what I can do to top that when I’m 60? I will have to get creative now, right? I’m glad I decided to make it a celebration and not a worry or dread.
June 2, 2014 at 12:45 am
A very moving story of a wonderful birthday. This is a great tribute to an inspiring person whose writing I have enjoyed for many years. Thank you for sharing your personal connection with us.
June 2, 2014 at 2:51 am
Thank you so much Michael for stopping by and sharing.
June 5, 2014 at 11:00 am
A beautiful tribute, thank you for sharing. And I agree that our age is a great as any other.