Thursday, May 29, 2014

Phenomenal Women Passing

Here’s how I process and here’s how I love.  I look for words.  I have been reading Rebecca Solnit’s A Field Guide to Getting Lost for the past couple of days.  She says, “Lost really has two disparate meanings.  Losing things is about the familiar falling away, getting lost is about the unfamiliar appearing” (p. 22).  I have been wandering in a new space where the unfamiliar has been appearing to me daily, reminding me that the world is vast and awesome, that the unfamiliar awakens my spirit, inspires me, and allows me to walk through the world in a more spacious way than I have for a while.

"I've learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision." --Maya Angelou

This same spaciousness and space has led me further from family during a time when I have also been confronted with a true loss, of the familiar falling away, and I mourn.  A death at 93 is not a tragedy, but it is a loss.  A phenomenal woman who shaped me, loved me, and who is a contributor to both my wanderlust and my spirit, has moved on from this world.  My grandmother shared a generation with another woman who inspired us with her words and her passion for this life, and they left this world within days of each other.  I'd like to think that Maya Angelou's words and spirit can help me process the loss of someone I have loved so simply all of my life.

"The ache for home lives in all of us.  The safe place we can go as we are and not be questioned."  --Maya Angelou

I am from everywhere and nowhere, but I come from a family of oil rigs, football, and chicken fried steak.  I am from a world of Baptists and big families.  And, although I've never lived there, I am of the red dirt soil that is south central Oklahoma.  I am born to gentle accents and catfish.  I know that black eyed peas are for good luck.  I know that okra is damn good fried.  I know that there are highways so flat you might lose the horizon.  Where I come from is love.  It’s not easy love.  It’s not lazy love.  I come from people who know, without a doubt, that this is the reason that we are here in this world.  I come from hardscrabble folks who have become more and more "comfortable" with every generation, but I believe that there is a scrappiness and a persistence, a grit, that runs in our lineage.   I am grateful, because it is this grit that has allowed me to run far and wide in this world.  

"I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself."  --Maya Angelou

With the loss of my grandmother, I have lost another connection to family and "home." I have also been recollecting the experiences and influences in my life that allow me to walk inside of my own skin.  I hold the memory of the woman who regularly reminded me that I am enough, that I am loved, and I know I was generously afforded spaces where there was nothing to do but love.  I settle into memories of chicken frying in the kitchen and hands of gin rummy, and the smell of perfume and lipstick kisses on my cheek.

The fact that this world has held the hearts of women as phenomenal as these two who have come before me is worth celebrating, and with this is the recognition that there are many of us mourning, rejoicing, inspiring, loving, and fully embracing who we are because of women like these.

I am a Woman
Phenomenal Woman.
That's me.
--Maya Angelou


  1. Beautifully written, sweet Lisa. I'm so sorry to hear about your grandmother, but she lives in you.

    1. Thanks love. :) She does, indeed. And I'm glad you knew her too. :)