Maya Angelou ~ April 4, 1928, St. Louis, MO ~ May 28, 2014, Winston-Salem, NC

Maya Angelou ~ April 4, 1928, St. Louis, MO ~ May 28, 2014, Winston-Salem, NC

This week, one of my hero’s passed on.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Statement from Dr. Maya Angelou’s Family:

Dr. Maya Angelou passed quietly in her home before 8:00 a.m. EST. Her family is extremely grateful that her ascension was not belabored by a loss of acuity or comprehension. She lived a life as a teacher, activist, artist and human being. She was a warrior for equality, tolerance and peace. The family is extremely appreciative of the time we had with her and we know that she is looking down upon us with love.

Guy B. Johnson

Inspiration for tonight

“Stepping onto a brand-new path is difficult, but not more difficult than remaining in a situation, which is not nurturing to the whole woman.” 
― Maya Angelou

“Let’s tell the truth to people. When people ask, ‘How are you?’ have the nerve sometimes to answer truthfully. You must know, however, that people will start avaoiding you because, they, too, have knees that pain them and heads that hurt and they don’t want to know about yours. But think of it this way: If people avoid you, you will have more time to meditate and do fine research on a cure for whatever truly afflicts you.” 

 
“Had I known that the heart breaks slowly, dismantling itself into unrecognizable plots of misery… had I known yet I would have loved you, your brash and insolent beauty, your heavy comedic face and knowledge of sweet delights, but from a distance I would have left you whole and wholly for the delectation of those who wanted more and cared less.” 
― Maya AngelouAnd Still I Rise
 
“What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain.” 
― Maya AngelouWouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now
 
“If you don’t like something change it. If you can’t change it, change you’re attitude to it.” 
― Maya Angelou

 

 

“Pretty women w…

“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
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.”

Maya Angelou is my absolute inspiration. She was a single mother to her son at sixteen. She was in and out of abusive relationships, having struggles with her own family. She was able to stay in school, work to support her son and thrive. She is educated, determined and an absolute joy to so many people. I would love to some day meet her.

After reading her books, I feel as if I know her. She has such talent that she makes readers feel her emotions and hear her thoughts. Every chapter of “Letter to my daughter” touched my heart. I am so inspired by her strength, determination and advocacy for the rights of women. I feel like more young women need to know that they have options, even when all seems lost.

I think that many teen mothers drop out of school out of lack of a belief that they can succeed in their dreams. They decide it is better for their child if they abandon any previous dreams or desires to enter a certain job field or school. I decided a long time ago that I was not going to let any one stop be from reaching my goals. Some day I hope to be inspiration for young girls struggling with the limitations of society. I really hope that my daughter will understand and appreciate all of the sacrifices I made, but also see that I was able to create a life for us along with having my dreams accomplished. I did not have to lose everything in order to have her. Neither do the many teen mothers each year who decide to drop out of high school because of a lack of support from peers, family and education professionals.

 

My favorite F word

image

 So, what are you studying?

Me: women’s studies

Oh…. does that mean your a feminist?

Me: yeah. I’d like to think so.

Oh.. (let the judgement begin).

  Angry.     Lesbians.     Hair legs.

Superiority over men.    Hating men.

Trying to
throw out every tradition.

Anti feminine.   Against lipstick.

Crazy.    Egotistical.   Excluding groups.

Anti stay at home mom.

Against dating chivalrous men.

Pointless, angry picketing.

Rejection of female characteristics.

Annihilation of gender.

Feminism: this is not actually what the word means for everyone.

I like men. I like men so much that I am dating one. And I even want to be married. I have come across so many people asking me why I am a feminist if I have a child and want to be married. Why would I want both?

I want to hit people with my textbooks sometimes. I hope that if I hit them hard enough, some influential advocates and writers words will imprint their brains.

Permanently.

But instead, I smile and explain what it means to me. What careers I aspire to go for. And what feminists have influenced me. If they want to walk away confused or in disbelief, so be it.

I find it interesting when the topic of feminism comes up among friends. They all want to give input but many don’t back anything up with real history or facts. Some don’t know my major or beliefs and so they crack jokes, looking to be for approval or fuel for the fire. They knock it or make fun of the way “feminists” act. Some do understand what the word means but dare not relate to it.

They don’t want to be identified with it.

Maybe its fear. Or ignorance.

I think a big problem is lack of education. And having too much privilege without understanding how they are able to live the way they do. For me, it seems that every day perspectives around me are narrow. My major and the education I’m being provided with allows me to see things in a whole. A large perspective.

I understand the struggles women deal with every day. Blindly.

I have struggled a lot when trying to be who I am in a society that is hell bent on narrow standards. As a young woman, I have to constantly adhere to a certain way of speaking, thinking, looking and appearing. I am supposed to as Adrienne Rich defined it, “play the part”.

I felt like a performer most of my life. I should behave the way a lady should. And abandon my strong will. Be quiet and obedient. Dress appropriate and never defy men. Not my father, my grandfather, nor my uncle or brother. I shall find a husband to obey too. Maybe get some education. A job in a woman’s field. That’s the life.

I have grown up on conflicting music lyrics and media messages, giving me a false sense of hope in the term modest. Why be modest or virtuous when men sing and obsess over my breasts. My ass cheeks in a tight skirt and leather thigh boots I will never afford but so desperately have wanted in order to fit in with those popular girls in high school. Fashion changes so much during adolescence because of a constant hunger to fit in.

I need to fit in.

I need to be sexy. And wanted. But not easy. I can be alluring but sexy too easily means loose. Floosy. A whore. Stay away from those whores. They are trouble. No, you have to be a middle girl. Someone who is not fake, but fake enough to have a click (popularity). I must be sexy but not too sexy (or else I’ll be the school whore or end up pregnant). Buy those expensive jeans that everyone has. Steal them if you have to. Too fat? Binge and purge. Don’t eat at all. Live off of gum. Do what you gotta do.

Or kiss your highschool life goodbye.

No matter what, I always felt trapped. I always felt like I was pressed to please but couldn’t. My breasts were too big. Or not big enough. I wanted to fit in one day and stand out the next.

My decision to have my baby at 16 was majorly life altering.  Even then, I saw sexism in the works. I was removed from finishing my junior year in my town high school. Being three months pregnant was deemed too dangerous for my (their) wellbeing (reputation). My own father could not handle being a father to her only daughter. My ex bailed shortly after learning I was carrying a girl.

The reality of how men and women are raised is more and more obvious to me every day. In raising a little girl, I see the struggles I faced sometimes repeating for her. What I am thankful for is my awareness.

Feminism to me, is advocating. Its having awareness. Using your education and resources in order to make life more equal for men and women. To stop the objectification of women. To give voice to the many girls that are abused, neglected, raped, or killed because they are not able to fight back. Because they are women.

I want my daughter to feel value and self worth. Not to define it by the length of her denim skirt or the color hair she desires to have. Not by the size of her bra or the amount of guys that want her. I want her to understand her body. To not feel ashamed of her anatomy or what can be done/not done to it. To understand the dangers of assault and rape as well as how to defend herself. I want her to not just feel like she is strong and able but to learn about many people around the world who aren’t. To be educated in how other countries live and behave. Modesty means appreciating your privileges, not exploiting others for what they lack.
 

feministingmama

Steady heartbeats

Nothing ever made more sense
Than to imagine the leaves blow
To feel the rush in the wind
And let all my worries go

Nothing ever felt more right
Than dreaming of the seas
Thinking of a better place
Of where I’m meant to be

Tossing and turning in my sleep
I was pressed for time
And eager to leave
Muffling out the noises of screams
As she sank deeper and heavier
Into disease

Clock was ticking
Night was falling
And the footsteps got lighter
As she fell to her knees
My escape was drawing nearer
My anticipation peaked

Shuffling through the darkened hall
Finding ways to cheat the creaks
Hoping my heartbeat would silence
Enough to tame the beast
Holding breathe and streaming tears
Almost found the light

And just like rebirth
Out of the cage
The pavement led me
Far away
Knowing anywhere is
Safe to hide
Rather to be alone
Than stuck inside

Fly away doll
Fly far away from home
She can no longer hurt you
Your out on your own.

feministingmama

The juggle act

  These past two weeks of kindergarten and college life have been crazy! Juggling work, school and being a parent is by no means an easy thing to do. It requires my full energy and attention to all my assignments, scheduling exams and doing homework for myself and with my daughter. We are both thoroughly exhausted.
  
  So far my daughter loves school. She gets up and ready with no fights and loves taking the bus to and from school. We have a good time doing homework. She loves her teacher and her class. All is right in the world for her. I, on the other hand, am tired and limp. My laptop is broken and in need of a funeral so I have been relying on other forms of technology. I am thankful for caffeine and for vitamins. Even with talking care of my apartment and meals, I feel like I balance life better than most students around me. I seem to manage my time and my plans accordingly. My only worries at the end of the week revolve around how many hours of sleep I will get.

    I am really in love with my courses this semester. I cram three classes in a row twice a week and four days of work for about six hour shifts. I also am taking my first night class, psychology of reproduction. I do not know how students function taking night classes and sleeping in late. I think being forced to take early classes has helped me enjoy my days a bit more. Having off from 4pm on gives me the time to get things done still before dinner and bedtime.

  I now count down the time until I can go to bed. As my peers all talk about their weekend plans of partying, getting wasted off pumpkin beers and going to the city– I daydream of getting into bed alone under my cozy comforter. Drinking hot cocoa and taking a hot shower sounds amazing to me. All I want to do on a Friday night is lay in bed with a good movie and my daughter. I’ll pass on the vomit, trains and overly expensive greasy foods.

  I won’t be getting to blog as much as I hoped this semester. My assignments are due so close together and I have a lot of readings. However I always look forward to fall semesters. January is great for relaxing and rejuvinating but summer is just too lon to go without essays and chapter books. Its just too long with no stimulation or challenges. Often in the summer breaks I will write on my own or read some books in my field of study to stay alert on current events and famous writers.

  I am submitting my first article for the school newspaper soon. Aside from my laptop being broken I was able to finish my report on a friends computer. I feel like I am finally getting the swing of things at my university. I know a lot of faculty and made friends with many students in my major. I do well in my courses and love all of my assignments. Finally I have decided to join something on campus and participate like I used to. Since my daughter was 8 months old, I went into community college and juggled everything alone. I was taking five or six classes at a time while involved as well in multiple school organizations. O established my own organization for parenting students and even wrote for the school newspaper in a parenting column. Everything was just perfect to me.
 
   Upon coming to a University, I felt like a goldfish in an ocean. I finally feel like I am comfortable with where I am at. I am so thankful I stayed in school and found a way to live on my own. I have autonomy. Strength. Determination to accomplish all of my goals. I feel like no one has control over me or say over what I do with my life. I have come such a long way that I don’t even know the girl I once was. I probably wouldn’t even recognize her anymore.

  Change is a good thing. To be able to handle change is a difficult task that requires an ability to constantly reinvent ones self. You are not who you once were. With every phase of life comes new knowledge and inspiration to evolve. What you do with those opportunities of change is up to you.

  I might be slow with my writing over the next few weeks but I want to talk about motherhood and feminism much deeper. Seeing other blogs in the last month has inspired me to reach out about topics that affect my every day life. I also love applying my major to my life and what lessons I teach myself through experiences.

  For now, I’ll be falling asleep as I do my homework. Good night to me. Thank god its almost Friday!

   

feministingmama

Lunchtime success!

  I am really proud of my planning and research of recipes for my daughters kindergarten lunches. Although I had a lot of things to get done, I am glad i was able to get the Tupperware and groceries needed to make the ideas I found off pinterest and recipes.com. I can now say I followed through on my own plans, rather than spitting out ideas and never bothering there after. Its very easy to do that!

  I was able to get the silicone cups for her lunches as well as a thermos and containers she can open herself (thankgod I thought of that). I love how her lunches look all sectioned out. I have been trying to make smaller portions with bigger selection to help watch her diet and nutrition. Of course I have to pack fun snacks but I like to add a variety of fruits and veggies to her diet. Kids are so darn picky and she’s getting to the age where other kids influence her thought on her once favorite things. (We all know what that’s like).

  I have been sneaky and creative by getting her to eat foods with hidden veggies. It actually works. We are pretty plain eaters. I do not like to put syrup, dressings or heavy cream on or in anything. We eat plain waffles with fruit or plain pancakes because I put peanutbutter or chocolate chips inside. We also do not use ketchup or mustard ever. (Gasp). We don’t add much salt or pepper to things.

  I’m kind of boring in the condiment department. But I do love adding a few ingredients to everything. I love almonds, honey and vanilla extract. I also love cinnamon and nutmeg. I add those things to many common recipes to add variety. I am excited because I tried out a new mini muffin recipe that is really good so far. Introducing the newest flavor combo:

   Chocolate chip squash muffins!

1 Gerber baby food squash container.
1 mix of Betty crocker muffins
1/2 cup water (just add a tad less water)
1 teaspoon honey
1 sprinkle of cinnamon

image

I thought about adding some other types of vegetable puree but squash seemed like a good experimental flavor. You can use a whole grain or oatmeal muffin mix as well. Also, honey is just a favorite of ours and it makes it sweet enough to hide the veggie flavor. I couldn’t get my daughter away from the batter.

  

image

   I am excited to try more veggie muffins this week. I have decided to use paper cups and then freeze four or six at a time in Tupperware. I originally tried zip lock which was stupid because they stick together. By freezing it, I can defrost small amounts and stick one or two in her lunch box to add some variety.

  

image

image

image

  So far I am creative and on a roll! She loved her lunch today and helped me pack tomorrows! Ideas are always welcome so please post to me if you have awesome recipe suggestions!

       

image

   
Yum!

feministingmama