Look Good, Feel Good, Do Good--and Work It, Girl!

Work It, Gal! embraces a three part philosophy for the working woman: look good, feel good, do good.

Every working woman--whether working in the home or in the office-- strives to find that perfect balance. Join the conversation as we dive into what it means to look good, feel good, and do good as we strive towards an overall balanced life. And more than anything, don't forget to work it, gal!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Phenomenally Phenomenal Woman: Adieu to Maya Angelou #feelgoodfriday

Phenomenally Phenomenal Woman: Adieu to Maya Angelou 

Photo Credit: Wolfgang Brauner on www.honorsadvisers.blog,wku

This week we say goodbye to a phenomenally phenomenal woman, Maya Angelou. I love these excerpts from the poem she wrote, “Phenomenal Woman.” I heard them for the first time at a cultural night talent show while I was in college; the rhythm and cadence of the words flowed over me, and the meaning of the words struck home.

"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.

Doesn't that first part just get you? It’s not about being “cute” or having a perfect “model’s size”…what’s phenomenal is this particular woman’s ability to reach for what she wants; it’s her ability to carry herself with a self-assured step, and a confident smile. And I say, "You go gal, Maya Angelou!"

A little while later she continues:

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.

And that ending? Sweetness. That is every.   single.   day.   that a phenomenally phenomenal woman holds her head high, forging forward, going after what she unquestionably deserves.

In this last stanza, Ms. Angelou identifies that fine line between the unassuming, meek woman who takes on the subservient role, never pushing, never questioning, never asserting…and the overtly brazen woman who insists, argues, yells, screams, and convinces others of what she wants.

Ms. Angelou strikes the fine balance, where the head is “not bowed,” –she is unashamed of her path—but she doesn't “shout or jump about.”

Are you that woman? 

I know I want to be. That’s the whole point—finding balance as a woman—but not just any kind of woman, a phenomenally, phenomenal woman. (Which leads to next week’s blog post—the fine line between “doormat” and “obnoxiously brazen.”)

Just my last two cents before I piece out for the day:

Some might argue that this “third wave” of feminism is not needed; that all the “work” on women’s issues is done. But it’s not.

The purpose of this “work” is to lift each other up. The purpose of this work is to do something—through our work, through our words, or through whatever means we have.

Ms. Angelou’s life is a testament of that—to contributing toward life with whatever means she had, at any given time of her life. Her life is evidence that life itself is not just a straight line, unsullied, undisturbed, unencumbered, un-challenging. 

Life is a varied thing, with twists and turns and curves. Ms. Angelou faced dips, dives, poverty, wealth, fame, obscurity, abuse, and love. She was a single mother, a cable car director, a teacher, an editor, a writer, and above all, an inspiration. 

Adieu Maya Angelou. And thank you.