Maya Angelou

I sat at my desk and cried today as I heard the news that Maya Angelou had died today.  She was a hero of mine, an inspiration, and a survivor.  She was a woman of unapologetic strength, conviction and wisdom. Maya Angelou was, as her poem states, "a phenomenal woman."
For Christmas in 1993, my mom gave me a copy of Maya Angelou's book, Wouldn't Take Nothing from My Journey Now.  This was the door to the world of Maya Angelou opening for me.  It was the world of truly beautiful, awe inspiring, magnificent writing all at once making itself known to me.  I fell in love with her words. The fluidity of their expression and how they seemed to dance on the page was an inspiration to me. From that moment on, I began to truly appreciate the beauty and power of words.
In honor of Maya Angelou, I would like to share a poem she wrote that has meant a great deal to me, especially as I have been on this Journey.
Ms. Angelou, thank you for your strength and for showing me the power and strength in my words.

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.