Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise

Maya Angelou l Paperbeau blog

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.*


Maya Angelou l PaperbeauPicture from Mrs. French – the bliss

Reading her poem Phenomenal woman as a young girl had a profound impact on me, as she wrote about things I’d never experienced and yet I wanted to be that phenomenal woman. Maya Angelou speaks as a self-confident woman, who wants to show the world what makes her beautiful which she expresses in various ways. Maya Angelou claims that “Beauty is more than skin deep”, it comes with a confidence, a woman doesn’t have to look like a model to consider herself beautiful and worth looking at.  Like all of her work, it challenged me, expanded my mind and was relatable and yet unknowable. Like the poem
Still I Rise, which is a powerful and empowering poem all about the struggle to overcome prejudice and injustice. Yet still finding hope to cling on, no matter the circumstances. To see her speak was to see a woman with such presence, such depth – the embodiment of dignity and inner strength. She commanded attention – when she spoke you simply couldn’t look away.

She has spoken and written so many important words, but here are 20 of my favourite quotes:

  1. You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.

  2. We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.

  3. If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.

  4. We need much less than we think we need.

  5. If I am not good to myself, how can I expect anyone else to be good to me?

  6. Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.

  7. If you’re always trying to be normal you will never know how amazing you can be.

  8. “Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.”


    Maya Angelou - Quote _ Paperbeau

  9. “Stand up straight and realize who you are. That you tower over your circumstances. You are a child of God. Stand up straight.”

  10. “Faith is the evidence of the unseen.”

  11. “Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.”

  12. “A woman in harmony with her spirit is like a river flowing. She goes where she will without pretence and arrives at her destination prepared to be herself and only herself.”

  13. “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

  14. “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.”

  15. “It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.”

  16. “Don’t let the incidents which take place in life bring you low. And certainly don’t whine. You can be brought low, that’s OK, but don’t be reduced by them. Just say, “That’s life.”

  17. “You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody.”

  18. “Be present in all things, and thankful for all things.”

  19. “Ask for what you want, and be prepared to get it.”

  20. “My wish for you is that you continue. Continue to be who and how you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness. Continue to allow humour to lighten the burden of your tender heart.”



Maya Angelou l Paperbeau

Maya Angelou embraced life and shared what she learned:

I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life. I’ve learned that making a “living” is not the same thing as making a “life.” I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. 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’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one. I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn. 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.




Which are your favourites? Are there others that you like? I’d love to hear how reading Maya Angelou’s work has touched you. Share your thoughts in the comments below.

*This verse is from Phenomenal Woman. Take a moment to read the whole poem. Promise you wont regret 🙂




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