Celebrating Maya Angelou, The Queen of Wise Words

(While Redefining Part-Time Travel)

What started as a space to share tips for balancing travel and life at home has evolved into something bigger.

One of the benefits of part-time travel is watching your perspective change – not just while on the road, but once you return home.

No matter how many times you’ve done it, reintegrating after travel can be somewhat isolating.  It is often difficult to fully absorb all that we’ve seen and done, let alone all that we’ve learned in the process.  Others aren’t quite so interested in where we were and what we did as we might hope.  Even for those that ask, it can be daunting to find the words to express your experiences.

This is where the gift of others’ words comes in.  If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve learned by now that I’m quite the quote junkie.  I re-pin and retweet as many travel quotes as I can get my hands on — and that is because I want others to not only share my experiences, but be inspired to seek their own.

It’s not just about travel.  It’s about having the courage to pursue the life you want to live.

That is the evolution of this part-time travel focus.  It is still about the logistics, the planning, the how-tos – because let’s face it, without that information the trip is intimidating to dream of.

It means more time taking trips, because for many of us that is part of a life well-lived…but it’s not the whole part.  How can we take what we learn, what we see, and who we meet…and weave that into the fabric of our lives at home?  After all, what is travel if nothing more than the seeing of sights, the collection of passport stamps?

I travel because it inspires me.  It makes me feel alive.  It grants me perspective.  It gives me something nothing else can compare to.  It reveals my true self, it urges compassion, it challenges me to think differently about the world.

maya angelou quote

These are lessons we can learn at home, certainly.  Yet sometimes it takes an actual journey, a change of place and pace, for the real journey to begin.

So we get on planes, we go on adventures.  We return home.  How do we take it all in?  And once we do, how do we live differently as a result?

There is no substitute for experience.  But in between, we have words of wisdom to help us digest and express what we feel.  There are perhaps no wiser words, nor a life more well-lived, than that of Dr. Maya Angelou.

I’d like to share some of her quotes here with you.  Do they all have to do with travel?  No. To me they resonate with the type of person and the kind of life I now know I want to live, in large part due to travel.

Maya Angelou is one of the most beautiful souls to have graced this earth.  Thank you for affirming the power and beauty of words, and of life.  May you rest in peace.


On life:

  • “I’ve learned that making a ‘living’ is not the same thing as making a ‘life.'”
  • “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”
  • “Love life, engage in it, give it all you’ve got. Love it with a passion, because life truly does give back, many times over, what you put into it.”
  • “This is my life. It is my one time to be me. I want to experience every good thing.”
  • “You are the sum total of everything you’ve ever seen, heard, eaten, smelled, been told, forgot – it’s all there. Everything influences each of us, and because of that I try to make sure that my experiences are positive.”
  • “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”
  • “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.”
  •  Living well is an art that can be developed: a love of life and ability to take great pleasure from small offerings and assurance that the world owes you nothing and that every gift is exactly that, a gift. ”
  • “Because of the routines we follow, we often forget that life is an ongoing adventure. . . We need to remember that we are created creative and can invent new scenarios as frequently as they are needed.” 

On love:

  • “First best is falling in love. Second best is being in love. Least best is falling out of love. But any of it is better than never having been in love.”

On self:

  • “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
  • “If I am not good to myself, how can I expect anyone else to be good to me?”
  • “If you’re always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.”
  • “Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.”

On others:

  • “Try to be a rainbow in somebody else’s cloud.”
  • “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
  • “The problem I have with haters is that they see my glory, but they don’t know my story…”
  • “When we find someone who is brave, fun, intelligent, and loving, we have to thank the universe.”

On reading and writing:

  • “The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart.”
  • “Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning.”
  • “Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.”
  • “When I look back, I am so impressed again with the life-giving power of literature. If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of myself in the world, I would do that again by reading, just as I did when I was young.”  

On lessons learned:

  • “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.”
  • “I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way (s)he handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.”
  • “I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.”
  • “I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.”
  • “There’s a world of difference between truth and facts. Facts can obscure the truth.”
  • “Since time is the one immaterial object which we cannot influence neither speed up nor slow down add to nor diminish – it is an imponderably valuable gift.”

On success:

  • “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”
  • “You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.”
  • “The desire to reach the stars is ambitious. The desire to reach hearts is wise and most possible.”
  • “We need much less than we think we need.”

On courage and uncertainty:

  • “You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
  • “Each of us has that right, that possibility, to invent ourselves daily. If a person does not invent herself, she will be invented. So, to be bodacious enough to invent ourselves is wise.”
  • “I believe the most important single thing, beyond discipline and creativity is daring to dare.”
  • “Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.”
  • “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”
  • “Stepping onto a brand-new path is difficult, but not more difficult than remaining in a situation, which is not nurturing to the whole woman.”
  • “We spend precious hours fearing the inevitable. It would be wise to use that time adoring our families, cherishing our friends and living our lives.”
  • “My life has been long, and believing that life loves the liver of it, I have dared to try many things, sometimes trembling, but daring, still.”

On the human experience:

  • “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”
  • “Listen to yourself and in that voice of quietude, you may find the voice of God.”
  • “My great hope is to laugh as much as I cry; to get my work done and try to love somebody and have the courage to accept the love in return.”
  • “History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”
  • “Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.”
  • “Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future, and renders the present inaccessible.”

On home:

  • “The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”
  • “We may act sophisticated and worldly but I believe we feel safest when we go inside ourselves and find home, a place where we belong and maybe the only place we really do.”

On travel (and lessons learned through travel):

  • “I want all my senses engaged. Let me absorb the world’s variety and uniqueness.”
  • “Each of us has the right and the responsibility to assess the road which lie ahead and those over which we have traveled, and if the feature road looms ominous or unpromising, and the road back uninviting, then we need to gather our resolve and carrying only the necessary baggage, step off that road into another direction. If the new choice is also unpalatable, without embarrassment, we must be ready to change that one as well.”
  • “It is this belief in a power larger than myself and other than myself which allows me to venture into the unknown and even the unknowable.”
  •  “In diversity there is beauty and there is strength.”
  • “Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try to understand each other, we may even become friends.”


“I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.”

maya angelou poster

Maya Angelou has been one of the most inspiring voices I’ve ever read.  I hope that her words also resonate with you, whenever you need them.

Any favorite quotes of hers that I missed?

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