Sunday, April 27, 2008

Phenomenol Woman

I know a lot of them. My mom, my sisters, my daughter, Kim, Jeanne, Judy, Carolyn, Sarah, Susan, my nieces, my daughter-in-law ... I could list them all day. It took me a long time to realize how important my girlfriends were ... it started with Kim. She was someone I knew I needed to hang on to for the rest of my life. And she opened a window that allowed me to see how important all the women in my life were ... and how important they all would be from that time forward.

The women in my life have given me the strength to survive. They have given me life ... 2 of them, not including Gloria, and Rosa, and all of the nurses and doctors who watched over me and sustained that life. When I am down, the women in my life lift me up. We are a special sorority, us girls. ALL of us girls. Individually we are small, but together, we are mighty.

Which is why I find it so sad that women seem to, by nature, feel the need to destroy each other. Why is it necessary for us to constantly be in competition? Why can we not understand there are issues that we might not agree on, but that we should support the efforts? Why do so many women find it so easy to tear down strong women by commenting on everything from their hairstyles to their perceived bitchiness? A man who is powerful is considered accomplished, yet a woman is considered overbearing. While I do not support Hillary Clinton personally, I am in constant admiration of her will, her perseverence. And should she win the nomination I will proudly cast my vote for her. Likewise, I am in direct opposition to everything that Condoleeza Rice stands for, but I applaud her drive and her ability to break that glass ceiling. Katie Couric has been nothing short of vilified since stepping out of a more 'traditional' role as Today show host into a 'real' job ... and I have yet to hear one good reason why. Martha Stewart has been called some of the worst names imaginable ... yet still she stands. Phenomenol women. I am certain you can all think of ordinary women in your own lives who fit the bill as well.

My mom raised 3 very strong, independent women and I will be eternally thankful for her guidance. She taught us to treat each other fairly, to not get mixed up in the 'girls will be girls' games. To embrace that which makes our sisters and our girlfriends unique, special, powerful. I am going to try my best to be more outspoken and stick up for my sisters, and to hopefully raise my daughter to embody that spirit as well. I used to lament that I really didn't belong to anything ... I wasn't any special ethnic group, I grew up in a very benign religion ... but now I realize that I am a part of one of the greatest groups ever ... I am a woman. And belonging to that group bears great responsibility.

So here is an ode to all those Phenomenol Women.

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
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 of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


Ok, so I am going to take the plunge and start a new blog ... one that doesn't have anything to do with my Leukemia like the last one. Ok, so mabye I shouldn't say anything .. but it definitely will not be the focus. Life has moved on, life is good.

I named my Blog On the Pulse of the Morning for a couple of reasons. One, after the amazing poem Maya Angelou wrote for the inauguration of Bill Clinton. I read it often ... it always inspires me and gives me hope. I remember how I felt that day, watching 'my' president being sworn in. Someone who understood where I was at, where I was coming from, and where I wanted to go. It has been a long time since I felt that way.

The second reason I gave my blog this name, was because of how I feel every morning ... like I can accomplish anything. Everything is fresh, clean, and rested and possibilities abound. I guess I am the eternal optimist ... that things can only get better ... even if I am quite cynical.

So ... here goes. An exercise if futility. And let's begin with the inspiration.

Maya Angelou

A Rock, A River, A Tree
Hosts to species long since departed,
Marked the mastodon.
The dinosaur, who left dry tokens
Of their sojourn here
On our planet floor,
Any broad alarm of their hastening doom
Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages.

But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly,
Come, you may stand upon my
Back and face your distant destiny,
But seek no haven in my shadow.
I will give you no more hiding place down

You, created only a little lower than
The angels, have crouched too long in
The bruising darkness,
Have lain too long
Face down in ignorance.
Your mouths spilling words
Armed for slaughter.
The Rock cries out today, you may stand on
But do not hide your face.

Across the wall of the world,
A River sings a beautiful song,
Come rest here by my side.

Each of you a bordered country,
Delicate and strangely made proud,
Yet thrusting perpetually under siege.
Your armed struggles for profit
Have left collars of waste upon
My shore, currents of debris upon my breast.
Yet, today I call you to my riverside,
If you will study war no more. Come,
Clad in peace and I will sing the songs
The Creator gave to me when I and the
Tree and the stone were one.
Before cynicism was a bloody sear across
Brow and when you yet knew you still
Knew nothing.
The River sings and sings on.

There is a true yearning to respond to
The singing River and the wise Rock.
So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew
The African and Native American, the Sioux,
The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek
The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheikh,
The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher,
The privileged, the homeless, the Teacher.
They hear. They all hear
The speaking of the Tree.
Today, the first and last of every Tree
Speaks to humankind. Come to me, here
beside the River.
Plant yourself beside me, here beside the

Each of you, descendant of some passed
On traveller, has been paid for.
You, who gave me my first name, you
Pawnee, Apache and Seneca, you
Cherokee Nation, who rested with me, then
Forced on bloody feet, left me to the
employment of
Other seekers--desperate for gain,
Starving for gold.
You, the Turk, the Swede, the German,
the Scot
You the Ashanti, the Yoruba, the Kru, bought
Sold, stolen, arriving on a nightmare
Praying for a dream.
Here, root yourselves beside me.
I am the Tree planted by the River,
Which will not be moved.

I, the Rock, I the River, I the Tree
I am yours--your Passages have been paid.
Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
For this bright morning dawning for you.
History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, and if faced
With courage, need not be lived again.

Lift up your eyes upon
The day breaking for you.
Give birth again
To the dream.

Women, children, men,
Take it into the palms of your hands.
Mold it into the shape of your most
Private need. Sculpt it into
The image of your most public self.
Lift up your hearts
Each new hour holds new chances
For new beginnings.
Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
To brutishness.

The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of
Here, on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the courage
To look up and out upon me, the
Rock, the River, the Tree, your country.
No less to Midas than the mendicant.
No less to you now than the mastodon then.

Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister's eyes, into
Your brother's face, your country
And say simply
Very simply
With hope
Good morning