It's time to lose your mind and let the crazy out.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Growing a Backbone

In high school I was really into poems, especially poems written by Maya Angelou. I had them scrolled out in my best penmanship and taped to my closet door, like any good teenage girl did, right next to my Peace signs. I came across this poem the other day, and remembered when my mom wrote it down and sent it to me on my senior retreat.

Phenomenal Woman

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.
I say,
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
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
I say,
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Maya Angelou

It's a beautiful poem. I think mom was trying to teach me self confidence. I think she thought all those things were true about me, but I also think she was trying to get me to recognize my current abilities. My mom was very good at making me feel good (and sometimes very good at making me feel bad.) She used to say she loved going shopping with me because everything fit me. She on the other hand, had to hem everything. I miss shopping with my mom more than almost anything else that we shared together. We had some knock down drag out fights while shopping, like the time she told me if I didn't throw away my bubble gum she wasn't buying me anything that day and that would be the most expensive piece of bubble gum I would ever chew. Ahh... good times... Now that I don't have her around praising me or telling others about my accolades, I have a hard time grabbing on to my own, self made self confidence. Maybe most women go through this at this age? When I was 15 I could have built Mt. Everest with my self confidence. When you are older, and you have raised a baby, and you teach that baby everything and he or she turns out good or sometimes even great, you swim in your own self confidence because you have earned it. Then there's me, joining Toastmasters, practically working in my own little universe, wading through a pond of personal ideas, trying to stand on my own two feet. Nothing like that poem to help me hold my head up high.



  • At 10:16 AM, March 30, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    sad to say, but i don't think you need your mom anymore. (the memories, always, but not her physically) she taught you those lessons when she did for a reason, i'm sure of it. you're one of the most self confident people i know, and a great friend, and i love you.
    ...and i always loved the bubble gum/shopping trip story, that's one of my favorites!

  • At 9:41 PM, April 04, 2007, Blogger happylaney said…

    Thanks, Becky. The idea of not needing my mom is a little hard to swallow, but I understand what you are trying to convey, and 100% appreciate your point of view. Having friends around that remember my stories and tell me what I need to hear is very valuable. I love you too. ;)

  • At 5:21 PM, April 10, 2007, Anonymous Katie said…

    That's a beautiful poem and one that I like a lot as well. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who struggles with feelings of inadequacy and getting bogged down in the details of everyday. I'd like to think that people who have accomplished great things felt that way often. But who knows?

    One thing I know for sure - you are highly intelligent and thoughtful in everything I've seen you do. And that's a credit to you, as well as a gift from your mom!
    Cheers, Katie

  • At 8:32 PM, April 10, 2007, Blogger happylaney said…

    Thank you, Katie. Here's hoping we're both on our way to great things. ;)


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