Maya Angelou, your light will continue to shine

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MAYA ANGELOU

April 4, 1928 – March 28, 2014

R.I.P.

Another inspirational woman has left us too soon.  At 86, Maya Angelou was just as vibrant and brilliant as ever.

A writer, poet, singer, dancer, activist – she was so gifted. 

Her eyes were luminous, expressive and wise.

But, her voice… my goodness, what a voice. 

I will leave you with one of her most beautiful poems, Still I Rise – her words resonate with me deeply.  You can read along, as you listen to her recite the words…. in her own voice (see the video below).

Still I Rise (by Maya Angelou)

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you? 
Why are you beset with gloom? 
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken? 
Bowed head and lowered eyes? 
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you? 
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

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.

Does my sexiness upset you? 
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs? 

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise. 

The Ides of March and lessons learned

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(Photo Credit: Dwight Carter)

And so I will, Maya.

For me, the month of March came in like a lion and crisis management skills were put to the test…

… until the 26th, when a ceasefire occurred.  Someone or something (you may call it God, The Universe, Fate, spirits of loved ones long since gone,  or simply the natural order of things) pressed the “Pause” button. A feral cat that I’d been nurturing at home, gave birth to a litter of four healthy kittens.  A kitten (only 11 months old) herself having kittens.

There’s a lesson that I want to share, so stay with me… this is not one of my Catmania stories (I’ll save those for another time!).

I made an assumption about this kitten (“Ophie” –  short for Ophelia… think Hamlet).  Because she is still very kitten-like (behaviorally), I was certain that her youth and inexperience would cause her to mishandle the birthing process and that she would either abandon, mishandle or harm her litter.

I was so wrong.

With luminous eyes and soft whimpers, she gave birth to each kitten and knew exactly what to do and how to do it.  Her natural mother’s instinct kicked into full gear and this kitten became a diligent, loving mother. To see her, you’d never guess that this was her first litter. I was filled with awe. Still am.

It made me think long and hard (this is where the lesson comes in) and I realized that some of the recent crises in my life have skewed my perspective… and not in a good way.  Too often, these days, I assume that the worst will happen, rather than the best (or at least, the “better”).  I’ve always been a worry wart, but I’ve taken it to new levels and perhaps this attracts more negative energy, thus creating more problems, more crises, and more drama.

Clearly, someone or something thought that I needed an “Aha” moment.

Point taken.

And so, I share this lesson with all of you.

As a very wise friend of mine often reminds me…  “Everything is going to be okay.”

Maybe it’s time to believe it.

I am grateful that March is going out like a lamb.

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Ophie (Ophelia) and her babies (Photo Credit: Heather Joan Marinos)

 

More summer reading

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“I guess you can call me “old fashioned”. I prefer the book with the pages that you can actually turn. Sure, I may have to lick the tip of my fingers so that the pages don’t stick together when I’m enraptured in a story that I can’t wait to get to the next page. But nothing beats the sound that an actual, physical book makes when you first crack it open or the smell of new, fresh printed words on the creamy white paper of a page turner.” 

― Felicia Johnson 

Well, three weeks of poetry, fiction and non-fiction have come and gone, here at heatherfromthegrove. I hope you found the selections interesting and perhaps even added them to your own summer reading list.

Below, are just a few more for you to consider.  I’ve listed them by genre and category  (only the book title, author and thumbnail book cover). Please scroll slowly, all the way down.

Happy reading!

Cheers,

Heather

POETRY:

living-things-collected-poems-anne-porter-paperback-cover-artLiving Things: Collected Poems (2006), by Anne Porter

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Phenomenal Women:  Four Poems Celebrating Women, by Maya Angelou

FICTION:

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The English Girl, by Daniel Silva

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The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman

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Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card

NON-FICTION:

Category – Cookbooks

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Greek Revival: Cooking for Life, by Patricia Moore-Pastides

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Jerusalem: A Cookbook, by Yotam Ottolenghi

Category – Memoir

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Bossypants, by Tina Fey

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To Heaven and Back: A Doctor’s Extraordinary Account of Her Death, Heaven, Angels, and Life Again: A True Story, by Mary C. Neal, M.D.

Category – History > North America > Canada

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Along the Shore: Rediscovering Toronto’s Waterfront Heritage, by  M. Jane Fairburn

Category – Mainstream Political and Economic Commentary  > United States

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Time to Start Thinking: America in the Age of Descent, by Edward Luce

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The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future, by Joseph E. Stiglitz

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Casualties of the (Recession) Depression, by Heather Joan Marinos

Category – Mainstream Economic Commentary  > International

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BreakoutNations: In Pursuit of the Next Economic Miracles, by Ruchir Sharma

Image (at the very top) via meetup.com.