Una bella dama…even when feeling anything but…

"Seeking Solace" digital photography by Diedré M. Blake (Rome, Italy) 2011.

In general, I am a quiet person… seemingly almost bordering on withdrawn, especially when difficulties in my arise.  The last two months have been somewhat of  a testimony to this aspect of my personality.   For the most part, being quiet helps me to be more observant of the world around me.  On the other hand, it is not always easy for me to express myself when I am experiencing difficulties.  At this point, the question “What’s the point, D?” might be on the tips of many tongues.  The point is that during this period of solitude, someone made me aware of a simple observation.  The observation was about me.

 

Una bella dama

I am a fairly routinized person, and being in Rome does not change this fact.  Each day, I get up and go out for a walk.  Usually, I end up in the historic centre.  On Easter Sunday, I found myself in Campo de’ Fiori, sitting alone at a familiar café (you know the one…the one where I was gratefully accused of being a feminist).  I was engrossed in writing while simultaneously eating (because I, too, can multitask… mindfully).  I was not aware that a man was observing me at the table across from my own. 

Concluding his meal, this man came over to my table and said to me, “I wish you a happy Easter.  You seem so sad, but know that you are elegant and una bella dama.  I hope you know what that means.”  And with that he was gone.

And I, who felt anything but beautiful (bella) or even much of a lady (dama) in that moment, smiled. 

Sometimes the universe provides us with unexpected but necessary solace in moments of sorrow.  For that I am grateful.

In the pagan cemetery, photography by Heather Webster (Rome, 2011).

 

Even when feeling anything but…

The poem below is one of my favourites to share and to explore in group therapy work with female adolescents and young adults.  I find that Maya Angelou strikes an important chord within the self as she speaks about her ability to embrace all aspects of who she is that, in totality, make her a “phenomenal woman.” 

Some people have expressed their awe to me, especially lately, because of their perception of my fearlessness, courage, and spontaneity.  It is true that I have courage (I believe most people do) and that I can be spontaneous (I believe most people can).  It is, however, not true that I am without fear (and if you have read this blog, then you already know how much I write about my fears).

"Dance...Trastevere" digital photography by Diedré M. Blake (Rome, Italy) 2011.

The presence of fear gives me courage… Without fear, why would I have need for courage?  I am sometimes spontaneous, but perhaps more accurate is that I believe in achieving my dreams, and I make necessary decisions to fulfill them…  I suppose these decisions and my actions can seem spontaneous, because I am not always forthcoming with my thought processes.  Then again, who is? 😉

I believe in the principles of Maya Angelou’s poem whole-heartedly.    Regardless of emotional ups or downs, by practicing self-acceptance and pursuing self-actualization, I am continually embracing myself as a phenomenal woman (even when feeling anything but).  This, I believe is an important aspect of self-growth, i.e. to be able to appreciate, accept, make space for and use of the multiple dualities of the self.  We are all shades of black and white, and gradients of grey… Let’s not even get into colour schemes!

These past weeks reminded me that each person is unique and thus a phenomenon in his/her own right.  It’s a matter of whether or not one is willing to embrace it… After all, no one is better at being who you are.  So, what’s preventing you from embracing your inner and outer phenomena?

 

"Hold" digital photography by Diedré M. Blake (Rome, Italy) 2011.

Phenomenal Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman

Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
-M. Angelou

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2 thoughts on “Una bella dama…even when feeling anything but…

  1. michelle blake says:

    Again, this is a piece which one can learn from!! You never cease to amaze me. Feeling down this week about loosing my job, suddenly I feel differently after reading this piece. I AM A PHENOMINAL WOMAN!!! your writing has allowed me to see that.Thanks D. Well done!!!

  2. April Rivers-Blake says:

    I have always loved this particular poem, and was once lucky enough to hear the poet read some if it aloud. You have, however, given it new voice, new passion, and new significance in your blog. I thank you and as always….wish you every happiness and comfort on your unfolding journey.

    L,

    A.

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