Phenomenally.

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Sunday morning light. Photo by JAH.

 

Truth: I am writing this essay completely stripped of the full mask of make-up I wear each day. My hair uncombed is gathered up in a messy bun and expressing what adventures I may have stirred in my sleep. An impressive expression of hot messery. Also true, I am wearing under eye patches made from cucumber and mint extract to help alleviate the puffiness and lack of sleep. I wonder why these concoctions were not invented when my life had been filled with diapers, breast milk, and sleepless nights.

Those days and nights are now a distant memory, and I now have the luxury of waking up early not to the sound of a baby crying, but to my own noise and to a peaceful serenity within my home. The only noise can be heard from the clack-clack of my fingertips on the keyboard of my laptop.

The serenity allows for some reflection, and what comes to the surface is simply this: I have been fortunate in my life to have had the opportunity to be surrounded by phenomenal women.

This is not by choice, but by the grace of serendipity. Perhaps it’s also by the grace of the Goddess of the Universe, who took pity upon me and made sure this was the case. It’s as if the first part of my life (the moronic 20s), I spent in immense idiocy focused merely on getting through each day completely oblivious that I had been guided all along by these women. Of course I’ve speculated as much a few years ago when I started tallying up my career in academia: I was and have been always surrounded by bad ass intelligent women.

These women all had several underlying commonalities among them. One in particular is to make a positive impact in all that they do, whether it is a small impact or one that creates a ripple of beneficial changes. Their work may not always be glamorous or appreciated–in fact, many of them have walked away with battle scars from wars involving the good ole’ boys club, and yet each day they fought on as long as the end results benefitted those who needed them. They’ve also had the ability to be a few steps ahead of their male colleagues, often thinking of plan B-Z when they know damn well that Plan A had a 50% chance of failure.

Most importantly, they all possess within them a propensity for humanity–which is what is always overlooked and forgotten in the world we live in today.

There’s no perfection in these women though. In fact, their imperfection is what drives them to accomplish what they believe should be accomplished. The work is never really done–only left better than how they found it.

The other thread that connects all these women? Surprisingly, they’ve all chosen to be mothers, as well as, maintain their careers. I have no insight as to how much of that makes a difference, I only know of my own experience to speculate.

It is more than likely the notion that if we extend the positive impacts of what we do in our careers that somehow a little part of the world would be a better place not only for our children, but for all those other children. Perhaps, what drives and motivates us is the fact that for every act of kindness and generosity, a million more will also occur. Maybe, it’s also because we know the truth that even though we’ve raised these children–they too will find their own lives to lead one day, and we want to maintain a small part of our autonomy–one that’s reserve for how we would like to leave this world in a better place. Perhaps that’s the imperfection: this notion that even for the sake of a sense of self, we are still working towards benefitting others.

Selfless. Maybe that’s part of a genetic code embedded within a woman.

Even still–such selfless pursuits are phenomenal.

Here’s to the women out there, whether you are surviving your idiotic 20s, evolving in your 30s, and not giving a fuck in your 40s-50s-and on: surround yourself with phenomenal women, and learn from them. You might just find a little something about yourself.

In case you need some guidance–look to Mama Maya. She knew it all along.

~0~

Phenomenal Woman

BY MAYA ANGELOU

 

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

Phenomenally.

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

Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,

That’s me.

 

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Sunday Morning where this essay was written on a new desk. A mother’s day present from the Babies’ Daddy and the Babies. Serenity. Photo by JAH.

 

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