Mid-life Treasures: Maya Angelou’s Ten Rules for Success

Transformation ©MTHerzog

Like many others in the process of mid-life transformation, I am in pursuit of a purpose, a cause, a dream, and strength. After three years of being stuck in this ridiculous menopause, I have learned (yes, it is a lesson, not a realization) that the geometry of life is such that menopause closes a circle and ushers you into an emotional trapezoid and the inevitable mid-life transformation pyramid. Now, I would not wish menopause on my worst enemies, and the men reading this should be grateful that they don’t have to go through the hormonal roller coaster that we do, but know this: mid-life leaves nobody behind and is definitely not gender-specific. As I have written before, I refuse to call it mid-life crisis because crisis means a complete breakdown with no orientation towards a recovery or solution. Transformation, on the other hand, involves the use of pain and failure as transformative and teaching elements that point us towards the new and unexplored as we emerge from our cocoons of self-imprisonment.

We are born, we experience childhood, puberty, love, think we know what adulthood is all about, but end up making a ton of mistakes along the way. We become parents, build up a career, and never quite the hang of letting go, but also sometimes lose so much more than we possessed simply because our soul is shattered somewhere along the way. My body has undergone as much transformation as my personality and emotions, shrinking and expanding over the years as I coasted along life’s waves.

  • I strove to look good when I should have been working on feeling good.
  • I put on make-up, when I should have tried to wash away the inequities of the heart.
  • I agonized over my weight and allowed others to terrorize me into being slim, when I should have been learning to love my body.
  • I hide from mirrors and cameras feeling unworthy of the reflection, when I should have been talking to the woman staring back at me and told her she was worth a thousand words.

Now that I am on my bridge, walking towards a new shore and gathering my courage along the way, I listen.

  • I listen to the waves of emotions that crash against that wall of uncertainty;
  • I listen to the sound of broken dreams as they shatter on the empty floors;
  • I listen to the pain of others and understand that I am not alone;
  • I listen to my fears as they try to pull me down;
  • I listen to the sorrow that has stopped me from moving on;

and say to hell with all the baggage. My time has come.

My time for what? Good question, and once again Maya Angelou summed it up in elegant simplicity with her ten rules for success (click HERE to watch the video by Evan Carmichael):

1. Just do right!
2. Be courageous
3. Love
4. Laugh
5. Be a blessing to somebody
6. Turn struggles into triumphs
7. You are talented
8. Learn to say no
9. Always do your best
10. Keep rising

Success, as she puts it, is

  • liking yourself
  • liking what you do
  • liking how you do it

It sounds incredibly simple but these three steps are far more difficult than learning how to walk, learning how to love, finding courage, and overcoming your deepest fears. I can’t even get past the first one. I am, however, an old pro at #10 in the Ten Rules – and I keep rising.

Am I fearless? No. Am I doing the right thing?
I have no idea, but I do know I am not making a mistake.
Am I courageous? I have to be, otherwise no lines would be written, no steps would be taken, and no bridges crossed otherwise.


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