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.
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 Phenomenally.
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 Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman, That’s me.
According to her website: “Dr. Maya Angelou is a remarkable Renaissance woman who is hailed as one of the great voices of contemporary literature. As a poet, educator, historian, best-selling author, actress, playwright, civil-rights activist, producer and director, she continues to travel the world, spreading her legendary wisdom. Within the rhythm of her poetry and elegance of her prose lies Angelou’s unique power to help readers of every orientation span the lines of race. Angelou captivates audiences through the vigor and sheer beauty of her words and lyrics.”
When I first read this poem by octogenarian cultural icon Maya Angelou, I was moved by the unabashed struttin’ her stuff way she expressed her confidence in the woman she had become when once upon a time, she may have had her doubts. Like every woman I know, full of accomplishment, fire and passion, piss and vinegar, it is possible that these words reinforced her desire to live full out. I hung it up in my bathroom and read it every day and then when I renovated the room, down came the paper tacked up onto the wall. The words are emblazoned on my heart nevertheless. I remind myself often that my place in the world is only limited by my willingness to name it and claim it. Fear sometimes rattles my cage. (an allusion to Angelou’s class I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings) “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.”
I shared the poem last night at a women’s support group that I facilitate at a substance abuse treatment center and asked each one to take a paragragh to read out loud and some amazing revelations came to light as a result. The women laughed knowingly and were able to begin to accept their phenomenal-ability. They knew that they were not ‘there’ yet, but were willing to rise to the challenge of self love that may have evaded them before.
What is YOUR very own personal sonic expression?
Mine is varied, with tones and notes that dip and soar. It is sometimes loud and rowdy, sometimes whispery and ever so quiet, that you need to listen with the ears of the heart to take it in. Sometimes I am jumping up and down boisterous in my expression of it and other times, still and silent, barely moving, lest I disturb my own serenity.
http://bit.ly/YWQh07 Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou
As I listened to the sophomore release (her first CD which debuted in 2010 is called Red Dress) of New York City by way of Baltimore singer songwriter Karyn Oliver, I thought of it as ‘the many moods of KO’ , since her vocal stylings are reminiscent of Crystal Gale, Eva Cassidy and Norah Jones and the songs range from the light and playful to the poignant and painful, from the wistful to the sweetly seductive. A hybrid album: country-folky-bluesy; altogether gutsy.
The cover and liner note photographs reflect those emotions as well, with the effervescently tumble curled, black leather clad song-bird gazing in a beckoning ‘come hither’ look that greets the listener initially and then welcomes them through the lyric pages with images of Oliver playing her guitar, staring in profile out her high-rise window, looking heavenward, smiling playfully and then, revealing perhaps a wee bit of sadness.
Another photo that peeks out from underneath the CD is of her furry four legged companion. According to Oliver: “The cat has a few names. I named him for the Steve Miller song “The Joker”, so his name is Maurice – we call him Mo. So we also call him The Gangster of Love and The Space Cowboy.”
The title song tickles with clever references to the historical namesake: “Your name for me was Magadalene. I am the keeper of your sin. I will always be your martyr. I’m not strong enough to call your bluff. I’ve never learned to walk on water. I can’t even swim, but I dive right in.”
A piece that powerfully points to the impact of domestic violence is entitled Weeping Willow Road. “Mama said it was all her fault. Every blow was lessons taught. A preacher’s wife must follow every little rule.”
Slip Away With Me which appears twice (once in accoustic form), is a tantalizing little treat; that invites a friend-into-lover into an interlude “Slip away with me, slip away with me. Give me one long night….”
A love song that questions the nature of a relationship and her place in it, called Before You Came Along offers the lines: “I was happy by myself before you came along. For all I know, you only want to live inside my songs.”
The cooing Fooling has the glorious recognition “Even if you’re miles and miles away from me. Even if we never touch again. Your heart turns up on my doorstep. And I let it in.”
All of the pieces, except for two were penned by Oliver. She covers Baby Come Back with her own sultry style. Written by J.C. Crowley and Peter Beckett, it is typically performed by Hall and Oates and Player.
The version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah that Oliver has made her own, is now one of my new favorites. Rising and falling vocalizing carresses the ear “There’s a blaze of light in every word, it doesn’t matter which you heard. The holy or the broken hallelujah.” It ends with one long sustained note.
The sensual imagery of Water paints a word picture with “I remember the evening swims. Laughter and long tangled limits…..I’m dry,” sung in an eyes closed throaty moan that is utterly irresistable.
A heart melting dedication by the newlywed Oliver is to ” ‘The Frenchman’, without whom these songs would not have been possible. You make me want to sing. I love you.”
Magdalene is indeed a religious experience as Oliver holds up an overflowing chalice in a sonic salutation and worships at the altar of love. The listener is blessed.
“If your vision’s not your obsession than it might as well be a delusion.”-Robin Sharma
According to his website, Robin Sharma is “the globally celebrated author of 11 international bestselling books on leadership including The Leader Who Had No Title, the phenomenal #1 blockbuster that is inspiring a movement around the idea that “Now, anyone – in any organization – can show Leadership”. His work has been published in over 60 countries and in nearly 70 languages, making him one of the most widely read authors in the world. He shot to fame with The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, which has topped international bestseller lists and sold millions of copies. Robin is the founder of Sharma Leadership International Inc., a global consultancy that helps people in organizations Lead Without a Title. Clients comprise of many of the FORTUNE 500 including Microsoft, GE, NIKE, FedEx and IBM. Organizations such as NASA, IMD Business School, Yale University and The Young President’s Organization are also SLI clients. Robin is a former litigation lawyer who holds two law degrees including a Masters of Law (Dalhousie Law School).
When I first saw this quote, I was immmediately pulled into my inner Imaginarium, which is the place where I feel most at home. It is where my creative soul takes flight and where I am inexorably drawn. My vision takes the form of diving into writing almost all the time, coming up for air when I need to handle ‘normal bodily functions’. I am a consummate multi-tasker, so I have been known to eat and write, breathe and write, brush my teeth and write and in my head, compose whilst engaged in more private activities.
What we feed, grows. What we nourish, nourishes us. I can’t imagine why someone wouldn’t want to be obsessed in a healthy way with their vision. To my way of thinking, we wouldn’t have been given inspiration to do something grand and glorious if it didn’t contain the seeds of possibility. Think about the inventors and artists who invested heart and soul, sweat and tears as implements of their creations. Sometimes they couldn’t sleep or would forget to eat, in the service of The Muse who whispered ideas that landed in their fertile minds. I know that feeling of forgoing sleep and food as I immersed in my own works of he(art), Many’s the time after a long day such as this one, that I arrive home from my ‘day job’ (this was a 12 hour workday) and head for the keyboard. It isn’t simply out of obligation that I am writing this article at nearly 11 pm when I need to get up at ‘early o’clock’ tomorrow to take a class. It is for the love of language, the sweet sense of completion when I post it, the anticipation of people reading and finding meaning from my sometimes rambling prose. Is that obsession, this thing that I can’t NOT do? Could I imagine a life without it? Unthinkable.
What is your vision?
When I initially saw this image on Facebook a few days ago, I had to laugh, as I thought “That would have been me…part Batman and part faerie princess on her trusty steed, pedaling through the streets.” I was rather quirky, an ‘alien baby left on my parents’ doorstep’, with otherworldy ideas, as well as a bike riding, skating, tree climbing, sledding, hopscotch playing, jump-roping, swimming, puddle jumping, voraciously reading, sprinkler running, Barbie doll playing, costume dressing, mudpie making, fingerpainting kid. I was raised by parents who saw me as a girl, yet didn’t limit what that could mean. I eschewed the label “Tom Boy” since that indicated that it was un-natural for a female person to get messy, run around with grass stained knees, do rough and tumble things. It is equally unfair for a boy to be required to refrain from engaging in traditionally female activities, like playing with dolls (that aren’t GI Joes or action heros). How, I ponder, are men to be nurturing fathers if they don’t have a clue how to take care of an infant? What makes it ok for women to cry and for men to be stoic? Men were born with tear ducts as well.
Where did these ideas even come from that we had to wear certain ‘costumes’ in order to be socially accepted? The people who are in my life now, defy stereotype. Amongst my circle are ‘masculine acting women’ and ‘feminine acting men’, Hetero, Bi and Gay, some transgender, all skin hues, hailing from different parts of the world. Artists, musicians, writers, teachers, bodyworkers, therapists, doctors, nurses, lawyers, business people, blue collar workers, sex educators, clergy. What they have in common, is an acceptance (and not simply tolerance) for those who don’t fit a particular mold; those out of the box thinkers, who dare to be different. It is from their perspective that I see the world through fresh eyes and gain permission to be left of center in my own beliefs and behaviors. This former “emotional contortionist who would bend over backward to please people who was frequently looking over her shoulder to see if the propriety police were watching,” has learned that flexibility is a good thing if experienced by choice and not obligation. If you look in my closet or dresser drawers, you won’t find a tutu (not yet:), but you will find a red be-ribboned skirt with bells on the bottom, a t-shirt with a henna tatooed faerie emblazoned on it, as well as clown shoes with hearts and stars decorating them. I have yet to wear them all at once, but I just might. Oh and I hadn’t mention the wings in the back of my Jeep (part of my clown persona named Feather), because you never know when they could come in handy. Here’s to being fully, colorfully, creatively human.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=BE5YzRr9yPo When I Was A Boy- by Dar Williams