Gratitude For the Life of Maya Angelou

This week Maya Angelou departed from this world for another . . . Thank you Maya, for having the courage to recover your voice in the midst of adversity and express such beauty, truth and goodness while you were here.

On The Pulse of the Morning

A Rock, A River, A Tree
Hosts to species long since departed,
Mark the mastodon.
The dinosaur, who left dry tokens
Of their sojourn here
On our planet floor,
Any broad alarm of their of their hastening doom
Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages.
But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
Come, you may stand upon my
Back and face your distant destiny,
But seek no haven in my shadow.
I will give you no hiding place down here.
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 spelling words
Armed for slaughter.
The rock cries out today, you may stand on me,
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 stone were one.
Before cynicism was a bloody sear across your 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 river.
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 change.
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.
                                                                          

                              Maya Angelou (Written for the occasion of Bill Clinton's Inauguration in 1993)

 

 

Leading With Grit and Grace

In the field of Leadership, the rise of the feminine is causing a deep rumble. Emotional intelligence is gaining perceived value. Communication skills, and the capacity to build shared meaning and purpose in our places of work, are more widely recognized as critical to success. Women are taking up leadership more firmly, with more compassion and more radiance than ever before.

We are “leaning in” at work, as Sheryl Sandberg describes, and we are still carrying the lion’s share of responsibility for the quality of life for our families. “A record 40 percent of all households with children under the age of 18 include mothers who are either the sole or primary source of income for the family,” the Pew Research Center reported in May of 2013, as it released data that certainly won’t surprise many Americans but underscores some dramatic shifts over recent decades.The juggling act that each of us performs in our own private lives is actually a societal and cultural developmental edge. We are on the front lines of a massive experiment in life with less-clearly defined gender roles; the stakes are high, the gains and the losses are very real, and there doesn’t appear to be any going back.

Particularly when working with women, I help them to step forward into the challenge of this experiment in their work and personal lives. Using developmental models, I map out the stages of life and help you to find your place so that you can broaden your perspective on the unfolding narrative. With current and ancient wisdom concerning the masculine and feminine applied to leadership theory, I help you hone your directive/assertive and supportive/receptive aspects and to bring them into a powerful balance. I point you in the direction of what is essential and true to you. While I draw on the successes and failures of my own life, I rely on Integral methodology and many years of research and personal development to help women find their way.

  • How do you navigate the demands of your work and personal life without succumbing to Superwoman Syndrome?
  • How effectively do you stand up for what you know?
  • Do you know when to stand down?
  • How tenacious is your follow through?
  • Does being authentic and strategic feel at odds to you?
  • What do you listen for?
  • Do you know how and when to give direction and support?
  • Are you able to initiate and foster real and fruitful dialogue?
  • How much quiet do you allow yourself?
  • Have you discovered the value of silence?

Together we explore questions such as these along with the specific ones you bring to the table.

Together we hold the paradoxes until the contradictions begin to shift and wane, giving rise to the opportunity for transformation.

Together we discover more and more about your leadership style, and what is essential to you; we build your capacity to lead your life with grace and grit.