Tag Archives: DR Maya Angelou

Honouring Dr Maya Angelou


"The rose is without why, It blooms because it blooms, It cares not for itself, Ask not if it is seen"~Johannes Scheffler  (Photo © T.Nikic)

“The rose is without why,
It blooms because it blooms,
It cares not for itself,
Ask not if it is seen”~Johannes Scheffler
(Photo © T.Nikic)

June 28th will mark one month since Dr Maya Angelou’s passing. I have wanted to write this since, but I simply wasn’t ready. I suppose you could say that I needed some time to process and reflect on the lessons I gained from her books, her poetry, her wit, her wisdom, her grace.


This blog was inspired by her. In fact the title, ARainbowInTheClouds, was inspired by the words I heard her speak in person. The very first blog post is about the time I saw Dr Angelou speak in Toronto. (You can read it here: http://wp.me/p1AZhb-6 .)


I watched the live streaming of Dr Angelou’s wake on June 7th+8th at home (you can watch it here: http://new.livestream.com/wfu/angelou ). I cried through most of it. It was such a wonderful celebration of joy, which she exuded much of. There were some powerful and amazing things said about Dr Angelou which I noted.


“As long as we have time, we should keep the courage to begin again.”~Bill Clinton sharing what he learned from Dr Angelou.

“When I look at you, I am really looking at mySelf in a different costume.”~Oprah sharing what Dr Angelou taught her.

“Anything that diminishes a human being, diminishes all of us.”~Guy Johnson on what his mother taught him.



After her passing, I went through my own meditation and reflections of her lessons, which I did through this sketch of her:

Dr Maya Angelou Charcoal, graphite and pastel on paper

Dr Maya Angelou
Charcoal, graphite and pastel on paper


The greatest honour, I believe, that Dr Angelou was given at her wake is this one:


“Sequined in the black velvet sky of night,

shines a star with fiery hot, fire possessed,

leading all those who wish to claim what is right

to look within themselves and find their best.

Over my life shines this glorious beacon,

lighting my path through the dark shadow land.

With this as my guide

I shall not weaken my strive

to be a strong but gentle man.

Others had been led by its incandescence

to be more than mere flesh and bone.

To love and be loved is its true essence

for only the heart can change this world of stone.

Thus fortune graces me like none other

for this star,

this nova,

is my mother.”~Guy Johnson’s poem for his mother, Dr Maya Angelou



Dr Angelou, you believed that words are things which seep into everything – walls, hair, hearts, spirit. There are not enough words to express the gratitude I feel in my heart for the love, lessons, life and wisdom you shared with the world. I agree with you – courage is the most important of all the virtues. It takes courage to love, to speak the truth, to forgive, to engage in our own soul flight. As I am typing this, I am watching birds in flight, high in the sky, and I am reminded, once again, why the caged bird not only sings, but is free – we all are, when we learn how to fly the wings of our soul, our spirit. Thank you.




“Love heals. Heals and liberates. I use the word LOVE, not meaning sentimentality, but a condition so strong that it may be that which holds the stars in their heavenly positions and that which causes the blood to flow orderly in our veins.”~Maya Angelou

Anger issues…

“Prejudice is a burden which confuses the past, threatens the future, and renders the present inaccessible.”~Dr Maya Angelou

There are only a few things which actually upset me. I suppose I can group them under the category of injustice but mainly they include discrimination (of any sort towards anyone – racial, gender, sexual orientation etc), dishonesty, deliberate cause of harm to others (physical, mental, emotional or personal) and not taking full responsibility of one’s actions or reactions. I have personal experience of dealing with discrimination based on social status and religion in my home country of former Yugoslavia during the war in that region in the ’90s. (I write about some of this in blog ‘Lifetime: My Reminder’  http://wp.me/p1AZhb-1G )

Living in a big metropolitan city such as Toronto, it’s great and inevitable to meet people from all over the world, of different races, cultures and religions. Working in healthcare, I come in contact with people of not only different races, cultures and religions but also different social statuses, mental and physical capacities and capabilities, and most striking of all – different mindsets and emotional states. Hence, I am not simply immune or tolerant to the variety of people in my every day surroundings, which I embrace, but have a sense of awareness. Unfortunately, discrimination and prejudice still exists even in a big multicultural city…

The two incidents I’ll describe both involve a close friend of mine, Rajeev – a very good-looking gay non-Muslim man of east Indian origin – who I met about three years ago when I completed a student rotation at the hospital where I work now. He is funny, intelligent, talented, a great baker and cook, and a great friend. I’d say we have an interesting but close friendship. Most of the time we make fun of each other but when push comes to shove, we’re there for whatever without any judgement or hesitation.

For his birthday, this past March, I made my Facebook profile picture that of us taken in Jaipur in December. I’m not sure if even a few hours passed before a random Facebook ‘friend’ who was a dentist made a comment which read something like “f***ing Muslim terrorist!” (I had deleted over 2000 ‘friends’ off my list after coming home from India in January but I guess a few randoms remained).

At first I thought that the notification was a glitch on Facebook as it couldn’t possibly apply to anything on my page or profile. Then anger came and along with it remorse and embarrassment when I realized who the comment was made towards. Those feelings rolled into one and climaxed as the following thoughts ran through my head: Did Rajeev see this before I deleted and blocked the jerk who wrote the comment? Today is his birthday!…How is it that in 2011 a white man in his 30s (who happens to be a dentist!) could possibly think this way let alone be so blatant and publicly state it?!…I was ‘friends’ with this person?!…How is it that hatred, ignorance and judgement exist in such a multicultural city and at such an absurd level??…Un-excusably, even if one did feel such things, what would make a person think that it’s okay to make such a comment on another person’s photo?…My Facebook and those who are my ‘friends’ on it is about to become a lot more private…

Unfortunately Rajeev had seen the comment, although I deleted it, through his email Facebook notification. He was upset at the jerk who made the comment, not me, but I took full responsibility for the fact that this person was even my ‘friend’ on Facebook.

Just this week, Rajeev and I went to Starbucks to grab some unsweetened iced teas and were walking to work when a white man, who was unkept and filthy, looked at us and started screaming “F***ing Paki!” as he approached. I said something in my friend’s defense and then he proceeded to call me words which aren’t necessary to repeat but suggested that he assumed we were a couple and I, a promiscuous woman.  At this point he had passed us and I yelled back “You need to respect women and not talk to us like that” which fell on ears attached to a head whose mouth screamed back some more profanity and other despicable things. Rajeev told me not to waste my breath or energy on such an ignorant person but it really upset me.

What makes this man feel this way in the first place? Does he think that being from Pakistan makes one a bad person?? In addition, what makes it okay for another person to be so ignorant and assume that my friend was from Pakistan just because his skin is brown but on top of that be so brave to scream towards us in the first place? And really who made him think that having white skin colour made him superior to others who didn’t? Does he not realize that his ignorance and unexplained, misplaced anger is negative, bad and wrong? I mean I know we all see the world a little differently but he was definitely misguided! I doubt he cared enough to know that he was talking to two educated health care professionals. What if we were doctors and he came to us for help? Would he scream the same things then? (Sadly there have been instances at our hospital where there were patients who had refused care from non-white nurses – it happened before I worked here and was a story confirmed by my coworkers.)

The year is 2011 and this type of mindset still exists!?!?!

I know that there are way too many stories like the ones I described and maybe even worse, which too many people can recall. It is difficult for me to put into words all that I feel towards the entire issue as most of the feelings highlight my disappointment in our society and those mindsets of the past which have crippled many into a box – those who discriminate and those who have been discriminated against – and are holding us back from elevating ourselves as people living in this society, into something greater and better which we can be proud of. It does start and end with one person – self. Your self and my self need to accept our differences and enjoy all that we can learn from one another.

Rajeev and I in Jaipur. Follow him on twitter – @itsMrNair


Dr Maya Angelou

Dr Maya Angelou, Roy Thompson Hall, May 25th, 2011

As soon as I heard that Dr Angelou was going to be giving a talk in Toronto, I knew that I would be there. I just had it in my heart that I would be in her presence, even if I was far from the stage she would be on. I knew that I would be lifted and humbled and inspired by her, but what I did not know when I entered the doors of Roy Thompson Hall that evening was that I would make another person, a complete stanger, happy.

My friend Matt and I had decided to see Dr Angelou together. I bought the tickets for three of us – for myself, for Matt and for Matt’s friend. A week or so prior to the show, Matt’s friend backed out and we were left with an extra ticket. I thought about inviting someone else to join us but the weekend before Dr Angelou’s talk, I had gone travelling (my soul food) to New York City. It was the same weekend on which at 6pm that Saturday, the world was going to end and although I knew that wouldn’t actually happen, I just didn’t think about that extra ticket which I had in my possession. Instead, I took in the sights and sounds and smells (some good and some bad!) of the Big Apple and figured out some of my own truth which was liberating to me. But I digress…

Matt and I met outside of the hall that evening as raindrops were just starting to come down sporadically. We hadn’t seen each other in a little while so we were chatting away as we stepped inside the box office entrance of Roy Thompson Hall. I don’t know what was it about the woman which caught my eye. It could have been her pink jacket or her pretty dress with a bright print or perhaps it was that small sign she held up in front of her. I had almost passed her, but something made me stop and take a step back to read her sign. Written on blue paper with a bright blue marker it said something like “If you have an extra ticket I’ll buy it from you and I’ll be very thankful”. So I looked into the face of this pretty lady and I said “I have an extra ticket”. I do not remember if her immediate reply was “Thank you Jesus” or “You do?!” but what I do remember is that her whole face lit up with a huge smile. Her energy was incredible. I came to find out, through all of her excited chatter, that her name was Lisa, she was a mother of three who’s husband had just come to Canada (thanks to her sponsorship), who was short on money but was willing to spend some of it on being in the presence of Dr Angelou that evening. Lisa, with her single-use camera, took a picture with me because she “wanted to remember everything about this” evening as it meant so much to her. I don’t remember how many thank you’s I received from this woman that evening but I was thankful for her smile. Even before Dr Angelou stepped on to the stage that evening, I felt lifted, humbled, inspired and oh so very grateful. Isn’t it amazing to be able to make a complete stranger happy? What a gift Lisa gave me! For it, I am forever grateful.

“They” say that everything happens for a reason and I truly believe that. Although sometimes we look for reasons in things where it’s not appropriate, can you imagine how I felt when Dr Angelou started speaking about how you never know how you’ll affect someone and that you can always do more! And it’s actually true!

I’m not a professional videographer and I appologize for the added noise by my goofy laugh, but I do hope that you are able to get something good out of watching one of my rainbows in the clouds.


Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CKWly9s-uPs&fmt=18
Part 4: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofSqGuijypY&fmt=18

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