Repeat After Me

Some days I am full of self doubt and can’t find a nice thing to say about myself (those days are generally that one week before my period when all my hormones are all out of whack), but what brings me back to center is a poem by the amazingly talented Maya Angelou that, in my opinion, all women should know and memorize by heart: Phenomenal Woman.

A good friend of mine gave me this poem in a letter when I was 17 years old and it has become not just a poem to me but a mantra that has seen me through some dark times and insecure moments. I thank God for writers who have give words to my emotions, who have put my thoughts in a clear order and shed light on my path.

So, repeat after me, “I’m a woman Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, that’s me!”

‘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 of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

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Numero 5 of 2015

This one is a case of something not-so-good happening, but something pretty-awesome coming of it.

At the end of 2014 my husband’s wages were garnished for unpaid medical bills that we incurred when our youngest was admitted to the hospital for three days when we discovered she had Type 1 Diabetes and we learned how to care for her insulin needs while we were there getting her back to good health.

So these medical bills came in and we paid a few, but fell behind, and well…they got their money. They took $700 from each paycheck during November and December 2014, leaving us behind on other bills.

I have not worked outside of home since I had my first child and I was scared I wasn’t going to be able to get a job, but I dearly wanted to help improve our situation. An amazing stroke of luck and good fortune came my way of a job opening at the local newspaper in my hometown! The same paper that I had been writing freelance for. The position was for selling advertising. Miraculously, I got the job! (Looking back, it’s most likely that I was the only one to apply so that’s how I got it, but I ain’t complaining.)

My paychecks were only a few dollars more than the bills we had to pay, so it was perfect. But during this time, I was also going to college (one class and online but still a time commitment) and heading up the Booster Club at my kids’ elementary school, not to mention still trying to do the “wife/mom” duties of grocery shopping & dentist/doctor appointments & keeping up on laundry for a family of seven.

Once the bills were caught up, I had a choice to make. Continue working and make money that I *could* use for myself (like hair and wardrobe spending or save for my Mini Cooper) or quit working to focus on school and home. I knew one thing had to go and to be honest, my time working outside of home made me realize that I enjoy writing and being my own boss of how I use my time.

That’s what I did. I quit the advertising position at the Dispatch, finished out a fun year on the Booster Club board, and now I’m focused, like a hawk, on the things I love most: my family, writing for publications, sewing & knitting & crocheting for my Etsy shop, and starting my Flower Bouquet CSA.

I’m no smarter than anyone, or braver, but I will say that this period of my life, this time in 2015, tested what I am made of. I can now, with all confidence, say that I will survive and thrive no matter what comes my way. I have faith and the ability to do what needs to be done.

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Have you been tested and triumphed this year? What’s your top 10 of 2015 look like?