When Someone Shows You Who They Are…

I have to admit that I totally forgot about posting a blog today! I fear that my blogger street cred (is that a thing?) is in serious jeopardy. Honestly, I had a lot going on today and, as usual, got a late start. The day got away from me and here it is 10:31 CST on Sunday night and I’m only just now keeping my commitment to bring you daily inspiration. I’ll keep it short and sweet and quote one of my favorites from Dr. Maya Angelou:

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I hope that however you spent your Sunday, whether in relaxation, or worship, or time with friends and family, or preparing for the week ahead, that it was all that you needed it to be. May you be blessed in health, wholeness and joy!


Maya Angelou’s Legacy Continues: Caged Bird Songs

Photo Credit: MayaAngelou.com/media
Photo Credit: MayaAngelou.com/media

I have incredible news! AMAZING news! I’m thanking God for technology and the gift of a legacy, even as a wisp of a smile dances across my face. Yesterday I discovered that the late Dr. Maya Angelou is releasing a project posthumously. It’s like nothing she’s ever done before, yet so familiar and reminiscent of her style and grace. Check out the press release taken from MayaAngelou.com:

Maya Angelou’s Work Mixed With Hip-Hop for Album

NEW YORK — Sep 3, 2014, 11:38 AM ET – By MESFIN FEKADU AP Music Writer

Maya Angelou’s iconic words and lyrics will blend with hip-hop beats for a new album called “Caged Bird Songs.”

Shawn Rivera, the lead singer of R&B group Az Yet, and RoccStarr, who co-wrote Chris Brown’s “Fine China,” produced the 13-song set, to be released through Smooch Music on Nov. 4.

The album — the title taken from Angelou’s classic 1969 book “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” — is one of the last projects Angelou completed before she died in May, her grandson said in an interview Tuesday.

“Grandma loved it from the beginning,” Colin A. Johnson said of the album’s concept. “These guys were inspired by grandma’s work, which many people are, and felt like giving it a different medium of delivery to make it more obtainable to a larger group of people.”

Rivera and RoccStarr started working on the album before Angelou knew of it. Johnson, who is in charge of Angelou’s estate with his father Guy B. Johnson, said once she was aware, she completely backed the project, which was recorded at her North Carolina home. Some of the songs use previously recorded Angelou vocals, while others were recorded specifically for the project.

Johnson said Angelou’s initial reaction to the songs was similar to when she first saw her own Facebook page: “She just laughed.”

“She loved it and was excited to hear more about what they wanted to do,” he said of the album. “She had a lot of energy around it.”

Angelou won three Grammys for her spoken-word albums. She previously released a calypso album and collaborated with Ashford & Simpson for 1996’s “Been Found.” She also was featured on Common’s 2011 album, “The Dreamer/The Believer.”

Click here to read more.

There’s a sample on Maya Angelou’s website of her melodic and powerful voice reciting the critically acclaimed poem ‘Still I Rise’ with soulful music in the background. Check it out here. You can also pre-order the album that is set to drop on November 4, 2014 via Amazon. Choose either the Deluxe Album or Standard Album. I’m sure they’re both absolutely fabulous!

Who’s your favorite author or literary hero? Why are you drawn to their work? What would you say if you had the opportunity to meet him or her? 

In case you missed it, click here to read the tribute I wrote to Dr. Angelou on the day she passed.


Define YOUR Success

We have what we seek

Lately I’ve been on a really introspective kick. I’ve always been self analytical, but these past few weeks I’ve stepped it up a notch. One of the things that’s been on my mind is success. Not just success in general terms. Rather, what does success look like for ME specifically? In order to help me refine my personal definition of success, I’ve been meditating on a few quotes. I hope that they also help you to define YOUR success.

“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” -Maya Angelou

 “Failure is not the opposite of success; it’s a stepping-stone to success.” – Elli Stassinopoulos

“There’s no such thing as failure. It’s just God trying to move you in another direction.” – Oprah Winfrey

 “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.”- Jim Rohn

“Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life – think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success.” -Swami Vivekananda

“Live life as though everything is rigged in your favor.”-Rumi

 “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”- Romans 8:28

The above quotes may seem random, but they all speak to some area of success. I believe success is achieving whatever it is that you set out to do, to your OWN satisfaction. No matter how large or small, how phenomenal or seemingly insignificant a task might be, if you complete it to your personal satisfaction, then you are a success. It’s not always about money, status or accolades. Those things are wonderful- in their proper perspective. Ironically, once you define your success and chase after that vision wholeheartedly, everything else will fall into place.

What’s does success look like for you?

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“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”–In Memory of Dr. Maya Angelou

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Yesterday I shed tears upon learning that Dr. Maya Angelou passed away. This legendary woman influenced my desire to become a writer. It was after reading  I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and  Phenomenal Woman that something clicked inside of me. I thought, ‘If she can do it, I can do it.’ Here was someone who looked like me and came from humble beginnings, then went on to take the world by storm.

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I never had the pleasure of actually meeting Dr. Angelou, although I came close once and it is an experience I will never forget. In January of 2011, she came to a book signing at Barnes and Nobles in Dallas. This B&N was one of the larger ones with two huge floors and a cafe inside. The place was packed. Literally standing room only. We were all there to meet Maya Angelou, and to hear her speak. I wish I had the words to describe how awesome it was to listen to her articulate in that special way she had. When she opened her mouth, even with all of those people there, including children, you could hear a pin drop. Everyone was in awe of her! She was so authentic. She wanted to stay and take pictures with everyone, but her health was failing even then. This great lady apologized profusely that she was not well enough to meet all of us individually. She then promised to sign all of our books and mail them to us. And she did. I was thrilled to get my signed copy of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

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Reading books and poems by Maya Angelou is like sitting on the lap of your grandmother and listening as she gives you lessons on life and living. I found my own voice through her’s.  She has made her transition but her words, which are her beautiful legacy, will live on. May you forever rest in peace, Ms. Maya.

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Dr. Maya Angelou

Sunrise~April 4, 1928

Sunset~ May 28, 2014