“If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform a million realities.” – Maya Angelou.
Maya Angelou has been one of the most influential literary voices of our time. Born in 1928 she has been in turns a poet, novelist, educator, dramatist, producer, historian, film-maker and civil rights activist. She worked for Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, acted on Broadway, was nominated for a Tony and a Pulitzer Prize, and won three Grammy Awards.
Despite a raft of setbacks and brutal racial discrimination throughout her life; she never lost her wit, grace, humour and realness. Here are ten of her most potent and powerful quotes, along with some life lessons that we can gather from them.
1. Give Your Best Self to Your Family
There’s a tendency when it feels as though the world is crumbling, for people to implode in a private way. As humans we tend to take out anger or sadness on those who we love the most. This is a mistake. No matter how beaten or sad you feel, always preserve the best of yourself, a smile or act of kindness for those who you wake up with every day.
2. Own and Celebrate Your Sexuality
Our society is petrified of women who own their sexiness and wear it like a gilded, antique brooch. It’s a daring act of girl power to own your own attractiveness and sexuality. To know (and not in narcissistic way) that you possess the power of womanly attraction. In a world that worships impossible standards of beauty – don’t worry about disrupting the balance of things. A woman who loves and respects her own body, is by nature a rebel of self-love.
“Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
―Maya Angelou, Phenomenal Woman: Four Poems Celebrating Women
3. Creativity is an Infinite Resource
In our mindset of scarcity, we all seem to be scrambling to get a slice of the pie. It may seem as though creativity is one of those scarce resources, like jobs or blue chip stocks. Although like with anything, the scarcity mindset exists between your ears, not in the outside world. Stop saying no to everything and start saying yes. There is unlimited creativity to go around!
4. Colour and Diversity Are The Richest Tapestry in Life
There is a richness and a beauty in everybody’s body. Skin colour is a spectrum not a label. There are wonderful shades of black, white, brown, pink, beige and everywhere in between. This is best illustrated in an art exhibition Humanae by Angelica Dass in 2012. She created an inventory of skin colours referencing the PANTONE® colour scheme. The objective? To record and catalogue all possible human skin tones. We all exist on a spectacular colour continuum. Without labels there is only beauty and wonder.
5. Beauty Lives in Transformation
From chrysalis to caterpillar to butterfly, it’s a miraculous cycle of transformation. There are a myriad of changes in life, from the quiet period of growth to the majestic fluttering away and migration. This is the same for all of us who go through a stage of awkwardness, difficulty and then later emerge energised, wiser and victorious from it. Life is cyclical and the whole journey is profoundly beautiful.
6. Don’t be Normal – Be Yourself
Maya Angelou lives this truth. She’s a true iconoclast and flits from one artistic endeavour to the next, leaving her sparkling mark on everything she touches. She does this because she is truly herself – the world embraces her as a result.
7. If You Don’t Like Something – Change It!
Such simple and pragmatic advice. Maya Angelou certainly knows how to keep it real. She slices through the mire of life’s troubles and brings it all back to a simple formula that begins and ends with you. This idea is also brought to life in this simple yet elegant infographic.
8. Be Generous
When Oprah interviewed Maya Angelou recently on her 74th birthday, she revealed lessons that she’s learned from her life, including one about generosity: ”I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.” Being generous with others brings abundance into your life ten-fold, like a boomerang and a banquet.
9. The Heart Is Where We Store Memories
Emotion has a much longer shelf-life compared to facts, figures, academic knowledge and ideas. We are reminded of this when old people with dementia are provided with songs from their youth. When the songs play their faces light up with recognition as the memories come flooding back. The heart is a gateway to memory. So tread lightly and come from a loving point of view. This is ultimately what will be remembered.
10. Be Like A Lioness
In order to survive and thrive as women, we should try and take our cue from lionesses. In nature to rear young and ward off would-be predators, a lioness is at once tender and tough in equal measure.
Maya Angelou is the epitome of timeless beauty and loving the skin you’re in. Likewise, Sundari Cosmetics are all about celebrating women of all colours and ethnicities with a 100% natural, 100% Australian made cosmetics range that’s suitable for skin tones from alabaster white to the darkest ebony.