On Facebook this week, as news reports came in regarding the death of Maya Angelou, countless people remembered her in the most fitting way one can honor a poet and author–they shared some her most famous quotes and poems. Some people shared touching stories of how they reacted when they first encountered the words of Maya Angelou, while others shared how her life and voice continue to touch their lives.

Living Compass has an active Facebook page where we love to post quotes and images that are both pithy and inspiring in nature. It would have been only natural for us to share a post featuring the words of Maya Angelou on the day that she passed, but we chose to go in a different direction in her honor. The quote that we posted on our Facebook page this past Wednesday was this: “Wherever you are . . . be all there.”

I cannot think of a more fitting description of the way Maya Angelou lived than the words “be all there.” Maya Angelou was “all there.” Her soul and her presence embodied the words that were her voice. When she spoke or when she read something she had written, she was “all there.” She radiated a unity of heart, soul, mind, and strength. She lived an undivided life, which is another way of describing what it means to be “all there.”
You and I may not have the gift to write like Maya Angelou, but each of us has other important gifts. Each of us has our own unique combination of passion and talents, our own unique combination of heart, soul, mind, and strength. Each of us has the ability to live an undivided life. Each of us has the capacity to be all there for ourselves and for others.

I conclude with two Maya Angelou quotes that I feel are worth our thoughtful consideration today, words that might help guide our lives going forward, in her memory.

The first quote is,“Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God.”  These words are actually the final words she tweeted on her Twitter account, four days before she died. To listen deeply to ourselves and to hear the voice of God are essential steps in living an undivided life.

The second quote contains wisdom that I have always tried to keep in mind in the way I relate with others.  “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

True enough to this quote, I have forgotten most of the words that I heard her speak, but I will never forget the over all impact of her life. The way she was able to integrate and transcend all that she experienced, including abuse in her childhood, has inspired me and provided me with hope in the midst of whatever challenges I have faced.

Thank you Maya Angelou for helping us to never forget the importance of living an undivided life and showing us what it looks like to be “all there.”   While we may not always remember your words, we will always remember the way you have made, and continue to make, us feel.

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