Maya Angelou (born 4 April 1928, St. Louis, Missouri, U.S. – died 28 May 2014, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, U.S.) was an American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist. Angelou had a broad career as a singer, actress, dancer, composer, and Hollywood’s first female black director, but became most famous as a writer, essayist, editor, poet, and playwright.
Maya Angelou was best known for her seven autobiographical books: Mom & Me & Mom (2013); Letter to My Daughter (2008); All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes (1986); The Heart of a Woman (1981); Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas (1976); Gather Together in My Name (1974); and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969; TV movie 1979), which was nominated for the National Book Award. She received dozens of awards and more than 50 honorary degrees.
When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time. 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. If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage. You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them. 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.
I have great respect for the past. If you don't know where you've come from, you don't know where you're going. I have respect for the past, but I'm a person of the moment. I'm here, and I do my best to be completely centered at the place I'm at, then I go forward to the next place.
Maya Angelou We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty. I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option. It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody. We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated. I can be changed by what happens to me, but I refuse to be reduced by it. You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you. My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style. The needs of a society determine its ethics. It must be remembered, however, that jealousy in romance is like salt in food. A little can enhance the savour, but too much can spoil the pleasure and, under certain circumstances, can be life-threatening. Life loves to be taken by the lapel and told: ‘I'm with you kid. Let's go.’ I’ve learned that making a living is not the same thing as making a life. I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life's a bitch. You've got to go out and kick ass. Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it. If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be. All great achievements require time. Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope. One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest. Nothing will work unless you do. We need much less than we think we need. My great hope is to laugh as much as I cry; to get my work done and try to love somebody and have the courage to accept the love in return. You don’t have to think about doing the right thing. If you’re for the right thing, then you do it without thinking The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart. You can never be great at anything unless you love it. If I am not good to myself, how can I expect anyone else to be good to me? I don't trust people who don't love themselves and tell me, 'I love you.' ... There is an African saying which is: Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt. A wise woman wishes to be no one's enemy; a wise woman refuses to be anyone's victim. Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud. Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time. Make every effort to change things you do not like. If you cannot make a change, change the way you have been thinking. You might find a new solution. While I know myself as a creation of God, I am also obligated to realize and remember that everyone else and everything else are also God’s creation. You are the sum total of everything you've ever seen, heard, eaten, smelled, been told, forgot - it's all there. Everything influences each of us, and because of that I try to make sure that my experiences are positive. I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one. The desire to reach for the stars is ambitious. The desire to reach hearts is wise. Lift up your hearts. Each new hour holds new chances for new beginnings. We write for the same reason that we walk, talk, climb mountains, or swim the oceans — because we can. We have some impulse within us that makes us want to explain ourselves to other human beings. If one has courage, nothing can dim the light which shines from within. Seek patience and passion in equal amounts. Patience alone will not build the temple. Passion alone will destroy its walls. Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God. Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him. Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better. Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness. Talent is like electricity. We don't understand electricity. We use it. If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded. Everything in the universe has a rhythm, everything dances. Never whine. Whining lets a brute know that a victim is in the neighborhood. Live as though life was created for you. Be certain that you do not die without having done something wonderful for humanity. At 50, I began to know who I was. It was like waking up to myself. The first thing I do in the morning when I awaken is say, ‘Thank you, Lord!’ I’m grateful to be alive, and I’m going to try to tell the truth as well as I know and tell it as eloquently as I can so that people can hear it. You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have. Ask for what you want and be prepared to get it! If you have only one smile in you give it to the people you love. Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take but by the moments that take your breath away. Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning. Hoping for the best, prepared for the worst, and unsurprised by anything in between. History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.
I thank God that I’ve lived long enough to see what I have seen, and I pray that people will continue to do better. We are doing better, it may not seem so, but there was a time when people were lynched in the middle of the street and it was not against the law. We are doing better, but we have so much more to do.
Maya Angelou When you do nothing you feel overwhelmed and powerless. But when you get involved you feel the sense of hope and accomplishment that comes from knowing you are working to make things better. I’m grateful to be of use. I will not be misused or abused, but I will be of use to anybody. Whatever you want to do, if you want to be great at it, you have to love it and be able to make sacrifices for it. If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform one million realities. 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. Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet. No matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. Success is loving life and daring to live it. 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! I work very hard, and I play very hard. I’m grateful for life. And I live it – I believe life loves the liver of it. I live it. There’s a world of difference between truth and facts. Facts can obscure the truth. I have a certain way of being in this world, and I shall not, I shall not be moved. I don't trust anyone who doesn't laugh. A woman's heart should be so hidden in God that a man has to seek Him just to find her. I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back. I know that when I pray, something wonderful happens. Not just to the person or persons for whom I’m praying, but also something wonderful happens to me. I’m grateful that I’m heard. When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed. I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver. We can learn to see each other and see ourselves in each other and recognize that human beings are more alike than we are unalike. Life is pure adventure, and the sooner we realize that, the quicker we will be able to treat life as art. A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song. When we decide to be happy we accept the responsibility to bring happiness to someone else. You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody. We are only as blind as we want to be. I do my best because I’m counting on you counting on me. The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned. A friend may be waiting behind a stranger's face. Let the brain go to work, let it meet the heart and you will be able to forgive. As soon as healing takes place, go out and heal somebody else. In all my work, I try to say, ‘You may be given a load of sour lemons, why not try to make a dozen lemon meringue pies?’ Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. But anger is like fire. It burns it all clean. You can’t really know where you are going until you know where you have been. Nothing succeeds like success. Get a little success, and then just get a little more. I know for sure that loves saves me and that it is here to save us all. First best is falling in love. Second best is being in love. Least best is falling out of love. But any of it is better than never having been in love. I respect myself and insist upon it from everybody. And because I do it, I then respect everybody, too. Determine to live life with flair and laughter. Remember, people will judge you by your actions not your intentions. You may have a heart of gold but so does a hard-boiled egg. I make writing as much a part of my life as I do eating or listening to music. Forgive yourself for not knowing what you didn’t know before you learned it. The woman who truly intends to live a good life is already living phenomenally since intent is part of the achievement. This is what I am learning, at 82 years old: the main thing is to be in love with the search for truth. At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel. The caged bird sings with a fearful trill, of things unknown, but longed for still, and his tune is heard on the distant hill, for the caged bird sings of freedom. If we lose love and self respect for each other, this is how we finally die. Don’t get older just to get wiser. If you get older, you will be wiser, I believe that – if you dare. But get older because it’s fun!