The Writing Mum

Inspired to be Phenomenal on Another Ordinary Day

Oh my… I have a story about how Facebook does sometimes have it uses and doesn’t only suck the soul out of your body and the time out of your day…

It was a regular morning, I set my alarm for 6:45 with good intentions to rise before my children, to write in a notebook entitled ‘More Morning Drivel’ (it gets the crap out of the way so I can write the good stuff later). As often happens after too many late and broken nights, I pressed snooze and missed my writing window.

I arose and executed our morning routine. Three breakfasts, three toothbrushes, three sets of clothes (our fourth snoozes on after heavy nights rehearsing and gigging) all heading in the direction of a hasty exit out the door to nursery and Nanna’s – it’s a work day. I managed a shower and even brushed my hair (it’s rare). Clean – but tatty – clothes, dirty boots and a ponytail and that’s me done. I hide my layers beneath a vast cardigan and my tired eyes behind glasses I shouldn’t really wear all the time – but I do. I have no idea where my make-up bag even is. I hid it from my curious 4 year old and, so it seems, also from myself.

I won’t return to a mirror, brush or wardrobe – and that’s fine by me. The children have everything they need for their day – job done.

But on this day, as I often do before beginning my work, I had my fix of social media and fell upon a poem, that I had shared a year ago, by Maya Angelou – Phenomenal Woman. Simply lush.

I have strong opinions about the pressure put on women to dress, behave, preen and paint themselves in certain ways to appear beautiful, and how we are led to believe that this is their role in society. I cringe at the over sexualisation of most female Disney characters and too many female pop idols. I am a huge fan of natural beauty and it saddens me how this can be lost behind a mask of sorts. I already fret about how this will effect my daughter in the future and she’s only 4.

However, on this particular morning I began to wonder if I am hiding a little behind these beliefs. They give me an excuse to neglect myself, to save money by not having my hair done or buying new clothes, to eat with wild abandon until I hate the way my body feels, to not have to invest time and energy (both highly limited) in beauty regimes. These beliefs allow me to focus on my family and my work, and be a strong minded woman who chooses not to conform – or so I tell myself.

Reading this stunning, luscious and inspiring poem, I realised I don’t have to buy into any particular idea of beauty to feel, and therefore be, phenomenal. That it is all about me – what I want and need in order to feel the best of me. And do you know what? Right now I don’t – I don’t at all. I feel spent.

But I’m going to. I’m going to find the intelligent, powerful, gracious – phenomenal – woman that I know is inside me and I’m going to give a little of my time to setting her free.

Do you feel phenomenal?

I’ll let Mary Angelou say the rest …

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.
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
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 for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
Maya Angelou, “Phenomenal Woman” from And Still I Rise. Copyright © 1978 by Maya Angelou.  Random House, an imprint and division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.
Source: The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou (Random House Inc., 1994)

I found this on Poetry Foundation.


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