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Four truths Dr. Maya Angelou shared with the world

 

Truth is something that can appear to be quite elusive these days. It’s very easy to find half-truths or outright lies, misconceptions, misunderstandings; they are all sitting at our fingertips. So when I find truths that speak to me, that resonate within me in a way that I know in my core this is truth, I try to pay attention.

Maya Angelou was someone I had heard of in high school. We may have read a poem or two, if so I honestly don’t remember. It wasn’t until college that I took more of an interest in her, and in reality it’s probably because I saw her on Oprah. I have a tendency to cringe when speech is seemingly deliberate. When I can tell someone has thoroughly thought through what they are saying and they say it in a very matter of fact manner. I don’t know why. But I typically disengage. So to watch Maya Angelou speak and find myself literally on the edge of my seat feeling as though I am being pulled in a little bit nearer to her with each word was extremely unexpected. She spoke in a very deliberate manner, she knew what she was saying, but this time it was different for me. She was speaking in truth. Every word was one I wanted to hear, and I was glad she spoke with such clarity both in pronunciation and in point. And since truth, as I stated can be hard to come by, I wanted to make sure I shared some of it here, by way of Dr. Angelou.

1.“When people show you who they are believe them (the first time).”

I have found this to be true time and time again. Whether it is in a relationship romantic in nature, a friendship, family members, whomever we have in our lives, people will show us who they are. If someone tells you they are mean, believe them. If someone tells you they don’t care, believe them. If they say they just want to have fun, believe them. If they cheat on you, ignore you, make it a point to hurt you, believe them the first time. They are showing you who they are, and they are making it clear they have no intentions of changing this for you. Once a person shows us what they plan to do, and we stick around, then that is our poor choice. They will easily have the chance to say, “well you already knew” and use it as an excuse. And sadly, they won’t be entirely wrong. We have to learn that being a savior is not supposed to be the same as being a victim. So staying somewhere that is harmful to us to stick it out, to be strong, because we love them and we know they love us if we could just get them to change just one more time is never an excuse. We are saving no one and in trying to do so are only creating inequality within the relationship. We must pay attention to what people tell us about themselves and have enough worth about ourselves to be willing to let it go.

 

2. “…and if the future road looms ominous or unpromising, and the roads back uninviting, then we need to gather our resolve and, carrying only the necessary baggage, step off that road into another direction. If the new choice is also unpalatable, without embarrassment, we must be ready to change that as well.”

This quote comes from her essay titled New Directions. And it continues along very well with the previous quote. Many times we don’t leave a situation because we’ve planned out a future in our heads. We have something, and maybe we are only holding on by a rapidly fraying string, but we are holding on. There is something in front of us. But when our vision of the future does not match the reality of our future, there is a problem. If we truly stop and look down the road ahead, which most often will look like the road behind and it in no way is a path we should continue down, we must be willing to stop and change directions. We have to let go. We have to imagine a future that is different. We must be willing to try, and not only once, but as many times as it takes to get us to where the future we are imagining has the capacity to line up with the future coming to life in our reality. Whether it’s a career change, a relationship change, or even family that is harming us, we must care enough for ourselves to forge onward towards better things.

3. “It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.”

And on our path to our new places we must let go of the past, lighten our load and forgive. We must be willing to admit to ourselves that we acknowledge what has happened, we understand that we were deeply hurt whether emotionally or physically, whether from and outside source or something we did to ourselves, we must look at the moment for what it is and find a way to release it. It is the only way to move forward successfully. We cannot let those moments define us. We know that they exist. They aren’t likely to be things that we forget. But they are things that we can move forward from without allowing them to control us. Forgiveness is truly one of the greatest gifts we can give to ourselves.

4. “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.”

In life we all have choices that we make every day. One of the most important choices we make is how we treat others. None of us were immune to people coming into our lives and making us feel bad. As children someone hurt us. Well, in all likelihood, multiple people. Children can be cruel. Adults can be cruel. We are all humans exposed to other humans, and that means life isn’t always going to be pretty. So each day we must make a choice to treat others the way we truly want to be treated. So we must believe ourselves worthy of the treatment we extend to others. We must know that we have the chance to grow a person, to encourage them or to bring them down, and it is essential that we become growers of others. We know how people made us feel. It lasts. We remember being scared, we remember being hurt, we remember being outcast, feeling alone and desolate, that no one else understands or cares. We remember these things because they made us feel like we didn’t matter. And that is not acceptable. We cannot continue a culture of people whose only goal is to make people feel this way. We must do what we can to acknowledge and accept our own worth and love ourselves enough to recognize and grow this in others. To be encouragers and walk in light so that others may follow. So that we can all know truth.

This is an excerpt from one of my favorite parts of her Master Class with Oprah: “to be the best human being you can be” (in every situation)

 

 

“You can’t get full staring at someone else’s plate”

My friend used this quote earlier in the week. I am guilty of this all the time. It’s so easy to look at what is happening in everyone else’s life and wonder why things don’t work that way for you. It’s hard to maintain the focus we need on ourselves without finding a way to compare it with others. By our nature we are comparative, social beings. We want to know what others are doing. We want to know why. And we want to know if it would benefit us just as well or if it will bring us down. And it’s hard not to let those things get into our heads and manifest in a way where fear, jealousy, and confusion emerge.

We have a tendency to throw ourselves off track. We forget our main focus and get confused by all of the little details. But no one else is going where we are going. No one else’s path will be the same. We can do exactly the same things as the person beside us, but still end up with completely different results. We are all suited for different things that work at different ways and in different times. We have to remember that though it’s impossible not to look at what others are doing, we have to keep our main focus on ourselves. We can look to others for guidance and advice, but we can’t look at their situation and spend all of our time wishing things we the exact same for us or believe that doing exactly as they do will make things right for us. We are similar, yet unique. And we have to maintain that balance and go forth in the direction that works the best for where we are at that time. Besides, when we consume someone else’s plate in addition to ours, the ultimate results are rarely  what we’d like them to be!

 

Happy Friday all, I hope your weekends are wonderful!

Friday Favorites Quote of the Day

Today was a bit of an adventure. We started off the morning celebrating the birthday of one of Jack’s friends. Then we took a brief 1.5 hour trip to the ER to get a chest x-ray for Jack. Fortunately three hours later I found out everything was all clear, and his continued coughing should resolve soon. I’m hoping that’s the case. Since it’s been such a long day and there is a Friday Favorite trend, I’m actually going to do a spin on that and pick one of my favorite quotes to talk about.

“Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier” – Mother Teresa

When I was sitting in the waiting room today I looked around at all the people. And I thought about all of the different struggles that were going on there. Yesterday my 88-year-old grandmother had surgery for colon cancer. We were one of the families that was nervous and anxious in the waiting room. But she is back in her room, and was sitting up today, and outside of a bit of nausea is doing quite well, especially given her age. But I thought about how nice the support is. Even when it’s hard, even when you don’t want to hear it, it’s nice to know someone is trying to care. (don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely irritating when the people we want to care are not the ones who care)

A lot of the time, I actually find it nice when it’s strangers who take the time out to be kind. In those situations there are no strings attached. It’s simply someone taking the time out to acknowledge your existence and in a positive manner, and it’s left at that. I really like this idea. People always talk about the power of a smile. And it’s true. It’s hard to be unhappy when you’re smiling. And that energy will carry on to those who let it in. We can’t force people to be happy, but we can make it a point to do our best to be positive and encouraging to others, even if it’s just a smile. And even if it’s just for that moment. It’s nice to know that we can brighten someone’s day. Because we know it makes a difference in our lives when someone takes the time to brighten our day. Moments are fleeting, and we have to make the most of them. We can choose to be happy. We can choose to let light in. And we can choose to give light out. So with all that’s going on and with the day dwindling down here, I’m going to leave you with this: Make it a point to make someone’s day brighter this weekend. Even if it’s a stranger you see on the sidewalk. Take time to smile, even if there’s no reason to. When that’s the case you’ve got nothing to lose anyway.

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