Phenomenal Woman – My Definition Is This…

I have, in the past few months, had an overwhelming urge to watch endless clips of Maya Angelou interviews on YouTube. After hearing of her passing I began to question the reasons we are drawn to certain people and as I begin to understand my pull towards them, it turns into something quite wonderful and poignant.

Phenomenal Woman is one of my favourite poems, is read beautifully and with soulful passion by Maya on a clip I found. It coincided with some recent moments in my life involving women, their actions, their motives and their heart. Feeling disillusioned, I began to question the behaviour of women to one another asking myself, ‘What is a phenomenal woman’?

Interestingly but not a surprise to me, the word phenomenon is Greek in origin meaning to shine, appear and manifest. But how do women achieve phenomenal status? I think this is a natural way of being, it can’t be forced and isn’t about material wealth but more about how you react to the experiences you have had, many of which no one will even know about; silent battles.

I am blessed to have phenomenal women in my life, some I have known for years, others whom I have met only for a moment and those I have never met. Here is why I think they are all phenomenal:

  • Effortlessly they will understand your story and without hidden agenda. What’s best for you is their only concern.
  • If they feel their energy is being sapped by a situation or person, they will let it/you go but will do it with a kind heart wishing you all the best.
  • You are not phenomenal if you don’t like the opinions of a sister or friend and make them suffer for the sole decisions you make.
  • A phenomenal woman is about truth.
  • A phenomenal woman assumes responsibility when it is hers to take.
  • They don’t aspire to be someone else or have the life of another.
  • They do dream about being somewhere else. It’s not about running and hiding it is because they know there’s more to see and experiences are waiting.
  • The compliments they give freely to other women are genuine and sincere; no envy allowed.
  • They work hard, continue to progress but keep their femininity, careful not to cross over to the masculine side.
  • A phenomenal woman won’t repeat the same hurt twice. Continual punishment, self-afflicted ‘I am a victim’ syndrome is the worst thing imaginable and a waste of her time.
  • She is calm. This calm manifests itself because she is aware of everything around her even when there is a storm brewing and about to hit, she knows that it won’t last.
  • She is unflappable. Chaos is all around, people are crying, shouting and reacting but her voice of reason is her strength; the wall they need to lean on in that moment. She will react when no one is watching giving way to the bottled emotions when she is in her safe house. It’s only natural.
  • She isn’t demanding, doesn’t seek attention, allows drama and dramatic people their space to give their own performances. She refuses to be part of the play or the audience.

For me, an essential trait of a phenomenal woman is that she is not afraid of the idea of something. There will have been fearful times which halted her steps from girl to woman a prisoner to constraints. But that never stopped her from thinking, dreaming and believing. Not just in herself but in others too. Phenomenal!

© Michelle Sotiriou 2014


Give me a word, any word and I will show you the root of that word is Greek…

Tantalize: To torment or tease someone with the unobtainable, to excite the senses or desires. To fascinate and allure, this Greek word has many meanings but how did it originate? It is said that half-god half-nymph Tantalus was at the source of this now modern word. It seems the nymph side of Tantalus was stronger than the side that gave him his God status and after being invited at the table by Zeus, who favoured him, stole Ambrosia and Nectar, the food of the Gods and divulged the secrets of the Gods to the mortals.

The Gods were not to be messed with and the actions of Tantalus did not go unpunished. Forced to stand in a pool of water below a fruit tree with low-hanging branches, he would reach down to take a drink, the waters would recede and when he reached up to pluck some fruit, the branches would rise up out of his reach. Poor Tantalus, his tantalizing ways meant he would be teased for the rest of eternity by food and drink he could never have.

© Michelle Sotiriou 2014

“The covetous man pines in plenty, like Tantalus up to the chin of water and yet thirsty”

Thomas Adams