Jamie Mayes, AOE

Archive for May, 2014|Monthly archive page

Why I Love Dr. Maya Angelou and Marguerite Johnson

In Uncategorized on May 30, 2014 at 2:50 pm

This is one of my favorite blogs about one of my favorite people. She was a true blessing and inspiration…

Jamie Mayes- Author. Orator. Educator.

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” –Dr. Maya Angelou

The first time I realized how much I really loved Dr. Maya Angelou was not when I performed “Still I Rise” with Star Kids, nor was it when I heard “Phenomenal Woman” for the first time. It was when I submitted my first project on her life and, I read that she had lived in Stamps, Arkansas as a little girl and had gotten pregnant as a teenager. As a child struggling with my own problems, Maya Angelou became real to me- not as a famous writer or an actress, not as a civil rights activist and not as someone who was being flashed on television from thousands of miles away. She was Margeruite Johnson. I realized that she was, at…

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Why I Love Dr. Maya Angelou and Marguerite Johnson

In Uncategorized on May 28, 2014 at 8:53 pm

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” –Dr. Maya Angelou

The first time I realized how much I really loved Dr. Maya Angelou was not when I performed “Still I Rise” with Star Kids, nor was it when I heard “Phenomenal Woman” for the first time. It was when I submitted my first project on her life and, I read that she had lived in Stamps, Arkansas as a little girl and had gotten pregnant as a teenager. As a child struggling with my own problems, Maya Angelou became real to me- not as a famous writer or an actress, not as a civil rights activist and not as someone who was being flashed on television from thousands of miles away. She was Margeruite Johnson. I realized that she was, at some point in her life, just like me. She had been issued a predestined hand of difficulty and struggled to recover, but had chosen to use her experiences as ladder steps instead of the diggings of a deep, inescapable ditch. In her, I saw what I could be- pained, tried, molded, shaped, capable. My discoveries of who she was in her younger years lead me to follow and study her works more closely. What made her so unique? Why did her wisdom seem so infinite? How could I be more like a woman of her caliber in thinking?

As I grew up, I found that her story was not unique, especially for a black woman born in American during such a racially charged era. She had experienced many of the same things sufferers of poverty, unsettled parents, youth and the African American race had gone through. Angelou’s story mirrored those I’d heard from grandparents, mentors, and teachers of my culture. She was not an overnight success story; she was a constant work. Her autobiographies indicated that she had done many things that failed long before she succeeded. Her admissions of selfishness, irrational actions and escapades often frustrated me, causing me only a few years ago to be upset with her. I did not understand how the Maya Angelou she confessed to being in the past had become the golden matriarch that I now loved. I did not want to lose my admiration for her, because her work meant so much to me. For a better understanding of Angelou, I found myself analyzing me. I evaluated where I’d been, how I’d erred, and whether I was the same person presently that I had been before. I was forced to re-evaluate my disdain for Angelou and instead, appreciate her brevity for giving an uncut and non-watered down version of her journey not as Maya Angelou, but as Marguerite Johnson. Her stories were not journals of her present; they were reflections of her past. My best lesson from her- wisdom yields when we learn from that which has affected us.

I considered the seemingly unending number of struggles she endured- rape, lack of parental guidance during most of her youth, the lost of her grandmother, teen pregnancy, prostitution, job loss, single parenthood, racism, failed marriages and relationships and the list continues to go on. I then removed myself as a reader and critic of her work and instead viewed her as an everyday woman. Then I attempted to strip away all of the modern amenities to which I am fortunate and tried imagine myself growing up in a heavily racist and sexist society with a stream of struggles that rendered me unqualified and unworthy of success. I asked myself what I would have done differently in some of her situations; many times I had no answers. I counted the actions she’d taken to make positive contributions to mankind in comparison to actions taken against mankind. Needless to say, the list of positives far exceeded the negatives. I thought also about the legacy created for her son through actions that I sometimes felt were one dimensional in objective, but the reminder of written records and a long legacy soon washed the doubt of her true love for him away. She had given him the best she could and was leaving him with an unmatchable legacy and story. Finally, I was able to grasp a better understanding of why her wisdom seemed so infinite.

Dr. Angelou is the first reason that I began write. I would be happy if I were only able to reach the bottom of the list of times’ greatest writers. Yet, I fear two things: not being knowledgeable enough to encompass true greatness and not finding an audience thirsty enough to receive true greatness. The number of people who see past a superficial society is limited. The focus on societal struggles has been obliterated by selfies, twerking, and being “liked.” And though I make claims to not be as shallow as some, I cannot deny that even I have been contaminated by modern media filth, causing me to often portray a commercialized image and occasionally present watered down versions of the truth. I feel that my growth in wisdom has been delayed and today I pondered how I could proclaim my undeniable love and respect for Dr. Angelou, especially when I have fallen behind in my own journey for more wisdom. The life of a writer is not about fame or performing on a stage. It is about growth and wisdom; two fineries which cannot be grown or bought but are worth more in value than any material purchase. By putting her life in writing, Dr. Angelou asks only that we take where she has been and what she has learned and pass it on to someone else- be it family members, students or a large audience.

I fell in love with writing because I discovered how instrumental writing is to the mental, physical, and sociological development of individuals. The very process of writing forces individuals to think and to push the thinking process past what seems obvious. It forces one to question what we hear and what we have been taught to think. It is a healing mechanism; it is a powerful tool that puts thoughts in a physical form to be passed on. Writing takes what the ears hear and turns it into what the eyes can see; thus, the pen is just as powerful as the tongue. There is a social responsibility to use the gift of writing in a way that is empowering and enlightening. This is what I gained through the constant study of Dr. Maya Angelou by way of Marguerite Johnson, and this is why I love her. Image

Am I Deep Enough

In Uncategorized on May 28, 2014 at 3:19 pm

This piece is in my second compilation of poetry, Pennies In My Pocket. I wrote it as an ode to my favorite writers and my fear of not being great enough as a writer to match or even come close to the works of these people. My search is for deep and timeless masterpieces that challenge people to think and be greater…just as all of these writers have done. One of my favorite writers and my most influential writer is Dr. Maya Angelou. I made sure to include her in this piece:

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I’ve been blessed to move far and wide recently

Witnessing the prophetic voices of those who claim
I am the one of the next generation
I will be liberating, enlightening, and keeping it real
My presence shakes the soul and they want an autograph
While I’m close
Because I am destined to be far into literary fame
But…
As I continue to study the works of the world’s greats,
Giovanni, Angelou, Frost, Shakespeare, Dickinson, Sanchez, and Morrison
I ask myself am I deep enough?

True, I’ve been through many things
And seen even more
I’ve studied in the university
And I possess a deep burning passion for the power
possessed by this pen
And I’ve scribbled those things with the vigorosity that
could start a brush fire
But am I deep enough?

I watch CNN
And get angry at the social injustices that plague society
Pledging to make my vote count and
to take a stand in my community
I talk about marching for some modern day cause
And I’ve shown up at a rally or a few
Protesting that I’m not willing to take the world’s madness lying down
Because I am a fighter
But am I deep enough?

I’ve heard that some oceans are bottomless
But some people are knee deep in shit
I’m stuck somewhere between knees and oceans
I think I have it until I find myself choking
Discovering that there is much I know and tons I don’t
This leaves me to wonder if I’m deep enough.

 

©Copyright 2012 by Motivational Inspirations

Embracing the Blessing

In Uncategorized on May 20, 2014 at 4:26 am

ImageI have not shared this story with too many people, but it’s a testimony that changed my relationship with God and the rest of my life. I cannot deny that I am a private person who finds it important to be relatable to others, and just as important to maintain privacy. Yet, I have reached a point where I feel that my failure to share my miraculous experience is a flaw in my walk as a true believer in God. The initial content of this article may make some men (even a few women) cringe, but if you are praying for a miracle, I advise you to read on.
For many years I was a sufferer of severe menstrual pain. From the time I was about eleven years old until I was fifteen, I suffered horrible abdominal pains, sweating, fevers, the chills, nausea, vomiting, headaches, severely heavy menstrual flows, the inability to move, and cycles that lasted anywhere from two weeks to over a month. I was due to miss at least two to three days of school each month; my mother would wait on the phone call, walk to pick me up from school, and then I would suffer miserably on the walk home. (Unless I had a relative who happened to be off from work that day.) I suffered pain so severe that I am sure that on some occasions, what I thought was a nap, was actually black out spells. We tried everything from heating pads to hot baths and pain pills, still nothing would help my pain. By the time I was fourteen, I was already convinced that I would probably never have children. There was no way possible I could, it seemed.
Finally, at the age of fifteen my mother told the doctor something had to be done about my situation. We explained my problem to him in detail and he gave us a basic solution that was given to most people in my situation- birth control. He said my issues were normal and that plenty of females faced the same issues that I had, but he was sure everything was okay. The doctor did not suggest any additional tests or a more extensive exam. I cringed at the thought of birth control, because for a fifteen year old girl, birth control was usually a sign of sexually active teen and I did not want my mother to think that I was having sex. It did not seem to cross her mind though; she was looking for a solution for a daughter who could not even get her first pap smear that day because her cycle had been on for two months. My doctor scheduled a follow up appointment for two weeks later, and I received my first birth control prescription. At last, I had relief. My cycles were regular and my pain had been drastically reduced. I had not felt better in years.
For the next six years, I appeared for my regular doctor’s appointment and received a renewed prescription of Desogen with the understanding that I could not miss any days of my meds. Missing a day meant another month long cycle experience would occur no matter how many pills I took to try to catch up. While I no longer suffered with menstrual issues, other problems seemed to arise. I was gaining weight and finding it increasingly difficult to lose. After intense “healthy” eating and working out, I would lose around ten pounds, but could not seem to lose the last fifteen. Though I was the healthiest eater in my house and seemingly out of all of my friends, I was still the biggest. Battles with my weight caused me deep feelings of depression. My uterus also felt heavy and my body always felt as if it was weighed down by something. I had no doubt that the birth control was the cause; still, I felt I had no options.
During my third year of college, I talked to the campus gynecologist about my issues and being conformed to birth control to regulate my cycle. However, since my pap smears always came back normal, the doctor would not order any additional tests. The following year, I decided to visit an off campus doctor who said, like the others, that my experiences affected many women. My pap was normal. No additional tests were ordered.
In spring of 2006, I decided I would have to make some changes. My weight had ballooned. The birth control pills seemed to help the cramps less and less, even though they were still keeping my cycle regular. Still, my body was miserable from what I felt was hormone overload. Shortly before leaving college, I decided to quit taking birth control. For the first three months everything seemed fine. My cycles were regular, I had re-established a work out regimen, and my body felt lighter. My victory would be short lived. After the third month, the heavy, overwhelming cycles I had avoided for six years returned. This time, they were more extreme. While the pain was not as serious, I lived with a non-stop menstrual cycle for four months. I was going through a bag of maxi pads and a box of tampons in about three days. I was miserable. I was sick. I honestly thought I might die.
I refused to return to the doctor. I had been disappointed by them over and over again, and I knew they would give me the same useless solution- birth control. I hated the pill, what it had done to my body, and how it made me feel. I had not figured out what to do, but I knew that time was ticking. I could barely perform my job as an assistant manager in a clothing store; I was dizzy and sick every day, and I was losing weight at a rapid speed. I knew I was running out of time and options, but as I look back, I think that even my ability to function correctly and make sound decisions had been affected by my loss of blood. I was delirious. No one knew what I was going through because I had chosen not to tell them.
One day, I was sent to a three day training session at a store in La Place. The hour long trip took me hours as I struggled to focus on the drive there. Upon arrival, I met three women who worked in the store and a lady who seemed to be somewhat out of place in this store. Though I spent time talking to her, even rode in the car to lunch with her one day, I have not been able to recall her name since our final moment of contact. She reminded me of my mother and my stepmother; she was a strong Christian who was a little quiet, and she had worked in the Wal-Mart photo center before she came to her new job.
On my second day at my training site, I was having a rougher day than usual. I was even more light headed and nauseous than I had been before. I struggled to keep up with the demand of hanging clothes, re-arranging shelves, and breaking down boxes. I was moving in slow motion and the room was spinning out of control. I felt the room falling and I heard the shelves falling down, too. When I opened my eyes, two women were standing over me shouting that they thought I had the flu. They told me I needed to go home immediately. I had no strength to argue. After managing to drag myself from the floor, I went to the back of the store where I sat down at a desk in the corner. With my head in my arms, I prayed to God for strength to make the drive back to Baton Rouge. As tears slid down my face, I felt a hand on my shoulder. It was the Christian woman. I could hardly look at her, but I heard her words so clearly. “You have been sick for a long time, but today you will be healed,” she said. Unfamiliar with her religious practices or what exactly she might say, I was hesitant. Yet, I was so tired and sick and desperate, I needed anything anybody could offer to help me.
She told me to stand up. She lifted my hands and placed one hand on my stomach and the other on my lower back. I automatically closed my eyes. As she began praying, tears rolled down my faced. I cannot remember what she said; I can only remember feeling a sensation going throughout my body and the rise of energy that I had not felt in months. By the time she finished praying, I knew something was different already. She told me to go to the drink machine to buy a bottle of water. I was to drink it; water is a cleansing agent. It restores and renews. I obeyed. As I drank the water, I felt each swallow as it flowed through my veins; and only moments later, I had to go to the restroom. By the time I went to the restroom, my four month long menstrual cycle had already started to dry up. By the time I made it to Baton Rouge, my cycle had completely gone away. I was in disbelief. I spent the next week trying to call and thank the woman for the miracle she had performed. I could never reach her.
This life changing experience was eight years ago. And while I never had a problem with my monthly visitor again, I still was unsure of whether I could have children. I had no idea when I would start a family, but I always hoped that the chance to have a few little ones around would be in my future. I was even willing to adopt children. However, my doubts and worries were laid to rest in February of this year when a home pregnancy test revealed that I could, in fact, conceive a child. A mixture of emotions ran through my mind as I considered the circumstances of my situation; I am not married. I was not planning to start a family. I was not sure how my companion felt about a baby. I was completely unprepared. Yet, I could not deny an even stronger emotion…I could not believe that I could have a baby.
After finally getting over shock, disappointment, and fear, I have embraced the blessing that is a baby growing inside of my belly. Each morning I anticipate feeling the balled up knot stretching out in my stomach. I try to keep busy so that the next months will not seem so long, because I cannot wait to meet my baby. I try to follow all doctors’ instructions and I pray each day for the health of both of us. I cannot deny it, I am actually excited. When I find myself feeling overwhelmed and worried I think back to years ago when it seemed hardly possible that I could ever have a child. I remember that I am favored, I am forgiven, I am blessed.

The Fire Within

In Uncategorized on May 4, 2014 at 11:26 pm

(See the permalink below.)

A timeless vessel of knowledge which pours forth wisdom unmatchable,
The source of strength mightier than he who slayed the giant.
She possesses humility which can n’er be explained in words,
Only observed through her relentless actions of caring and love for all.

Inspired not by financial gain, public responsiveness nor self-motivated ambitions,
Not limited by restrictions, stagnated by unexpected changes, or paused by misfortune.
She moves, contemplates, acts only with the objective of leaving a legacy
So influential that her work speaks long after her body has transcended.

Obstacles defer her not for she understands that they are part
Of the craftsmanship which creates the masterpiece she aims to become.
Therefore, her inner passion can never be extinguished and
Her courage multiplies with each obstacle she overcomes.

Yet, the task never ends for she will always aim higher,
As if gasoline flows through her veins –she is a woman on fire.

©Copyright 2014 by Motivational Inspirations

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