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Three Wonderful and Wise Women: Quotes From Maya Angelou, Barbara Kingsolver, and Elizabeth Gilbert

Updated on February 1, 2017

In 2003 I was introduced to the writings of Barbara Kingsolver when my Grandma Glenna recommended her novel The Poisonwood Bible. This novel was so engrossing I struggled to set it aside in the interest of sleeping and eating. Since then I’ve read her novel Prodigal Summer, as well as her essay collections Small Wonder and High Tide in Tucson. She’s one of many authors I hope to read more from eventually. Elizabeth Gilbert is another such author I’ve little doubt I’ll return to. My exposure to her began with her memoir Eat, Pray, Love. Next I read her biography The Last American Man. Not long afterwards I read her memoir Committed. Finally, last summer I savored her historical novel The Signature of All Things. Maya Angelou is a writer I admire for her wit, wisdom, and compassion. Her convictions were admirable, and she expressed them beautifully and concisely. One of my favorite quotes of hers is “I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t laugh” because I agree completely. I’ve assembled this collection of quotes hopeful that my readers will benefit from the words of these wise, wonderful women. Enjoy!

Quotes by Maya Angelou:

“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.”

“I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today that life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.”

“Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. But anger is like fire. It burns it all clean.”

“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.”

“Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.”

“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 do well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.”


More quotes from Maya Angelou:

“Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.”

“A woman’s heart should be so hidden in God that a man has to seek Him just to find her.”

“If I am not good to myself, how can I expect anyone to be good to me?”

“You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody.”

“The desire to reach for the starts is ambitious. The desire to reach hearts is wise.”

“Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.”

“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”


Still more quotes from Maya Angelou:

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”

“What I would really like said about me is that I dared to love. By love I mean that condition in the human spirit so profound, it encourages us to develop courage and build bridges, and then to trust those bridges and cross the bridges in attempts to reach other human beings.”

“When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.”

I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he or she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas lights.”

“Because of our routines we forget the life is an ongoing adventure.”

“I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t laugh.”

“No man can know where he is going unless he knows exactly where he has been and exactly how he arrived at his present place.”

Author Barbara Kingsolver


Quotes by Barbara Kingsolver:

“If you ask me, when something extraordinary shows up in your life in the middle of the night, you give it a name and make it the best home you can.”

“Want is a thing that unfurls unbidden like fungus, opening large upon itself, stopless, filling the sky. But needs, from one day to the next, are few enough to fit in a bucket, with room enough left to rattle like brittlebrush in a dry wind.”

“It’s human, to want the world to see us as we think we ought to be seen.”

“…I know it can be jarring to find a piece of yourself stitched into someone else’s tale. I cherish the patches contributed by my loved ones, while recognizing they all have their own quilts, too, quite different from mine.”

More quotes by Barbara Kingsolver:

“…we are creatures of inexplicable cravings.”

“The part of my soul that is driven to make stories is a fierce thing, like a ferret: long, sleek, incapable of sleep, it digs and bites through all I know of the world.”

“Where does it go when it leaves us, the memory of beautiful, strange things?”

“There must be limits, somewhere, to the human footprint in this earth.”

Even more quotes from Barbara Kingsolver:

“Home is a place, geography, and psyche; it’s a matter of survival and safety, a condition of attachment and self-definition.”

“In my opinion, when you find yourself laughing and crying both at once, that is the time to write a poem. Maybe that’s the only honest living there is.”

“How would you show a person how you tick?”

“Maybe life doesn’t get any better than this, or any worse, and what we get is just what we’re willing to find: small wonders, where they grow.”

“In the way of so-called worldly things, I can’t seem to muster a desire for cellular phones or cable TV or to drive anything flashier than a dirt-color sedan older than the combined ages of my children. My tastes are much more extreme: I want wood-thrush poetry. I want mountains.”


Yet more quotes from Barbara Kingsolver:

“If you ever want to know what it sounds like when the universe goes ‘Ha! Ha!,’ just put a tidy plan on your calendar.”

“Pain reaches the heart with electrical speed, but truth moves to the heart as slowly as a glacier.”

“If we aren’t, as artists, improving on real life, we should put down our pencils and go bake bread.”

“The most important thing about a person is always the thing you don’t know.”

“Love weighs nothing.”

“It’s the one thing we never quite get over: that we contain our own future.”

“Everything you’re sure is right can be wrong in another place.”

“Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.”

“The power is in the balance; we are our injuries, as much as we are our successes.”

Author Elizabeth Gilbert


Quotes by Elizabeth Gilbert:

“That’s the thing about a human life—there’s no control group, no way to know how any of us would have turned out if any of the variables had been changed.”

“Never forget that once upon a time, in an unguarded moment, you recognized yourself as a friend.”

“Learn your way around loneliness. Make a map of it. Sit with it, for once in your life. Welcome to the human experience.”

“The only thing I ever want to know about any place or any person is the story, this is the only thing I watch for—never for aesthetic details.”

“So now I have started living my own life. Imperfect and clumsy as it may look, it is resembling me now, thoroughly.”

More quotes by Elizabeth Gilbert:

“As smoking is to the lungs, so is resentment to the soul; even one puff is bad for you.”

“The Yogic sages say that all the pain of a human life is caused by words, as is all the joy.”

“His face is a comprehensive encyclopedia of kindness.”

“I have never felt less burdened by myself or by the world.”

“Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings.”

“Do you think there’s any way humans can love each other without complication?”


Even more quotes from Elizabeth Gilbert:

“In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in the world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it’s wise to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keeping saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.”

“…after reading about Vipassana meditation in the library one afternoon, I got to thinking about how much time I spend in my life crashing around like a great gasping fish, either squirming away from some uncomfortable distress or flopping hungrily toward ever more pleasure. And I wondered whether it might serve me (and those who are burdened with the task of loving me) if I could learn to stay still and endure a bit more without always getting dragged along the potholed road of circumstance.”

“But I was always coming here. I thought about one of my favorite Sufi poems, which says that God long ago drew a circle in the sand exactly around the spot where you are standing right now. I was never not coming here. This was never not going to happen.”


Still more quotes from Elizabeth Gilbert:

“Romantic love is a universal human experience. Evidence of passion exist in all corners of this world. All human cultures have love songs and love charms and love prayers. People’s hearts get broken across every possible social, religious, age, and cultural boundary.”

“The problem is that we’re all full of desire; it is the very hallmark of our emotional existence, and it can lead to our downfall—and to the downfall of others.”

“I went to Cambodia because I had to go. It may have been a messy and botched experience, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have gone. Sometimes life is messy and botched. We do our best. We don’t always know the right move.”

“There are many, many ways to foster life. And believe me, every single one of them is essential.”


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    • Julie K Henderson profile imageAUTHOR

      Julie K Henderson 

      3 years ago

      CatherineGiordano: Thank you for commenting. I'm glad to have inspired you to add more books to what I assume is an already long list of books you would like to read. My list is also growing with no end in sight.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 

      3 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Now I have more books to add to my interminable reading list. I've heard of these books, of course, but your quotes and intros to the authors has got me thinking that I need to add these authors to the top of the list. Very nicely done. Voted up +++

    • Julie K Henderson profile imageAUTHOR

      Julie K Henderson 

      3 years ago

      Shyron E Shenko: Thank you for commenting. I'm glad you enjoyed the quotes so much you were inspired to share them.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 

      3 years ago from Texas

      Julie, this is beautiful, I love inspirational quotes, thank you for these.

      I will book Mark this for when I need to come back for a quote that is appropriate for any hub.

      Thumb-up, UABI and shared.

    • Julie K Henderson profile imageAUTHOR

      Julie K Henderson 

      3 years ago

      Muses on Life: Thank you for sharing. I, too, love the Barbara Kingsolver quote which reads, "Where does it go when it leaves us, the memory of beautiful, strange things?"

    • Muses on Life profile image

      Samantha Lim 

      3 years ago

      Such a nice collection of good quotes. Love this one: “Where does it go when it leaves us, the memory of beauty, strange things?” Thank you for sharing.

    • Julie K Henderson profile imageAUTHOR

      Julie K Henderson 

      3 years ago

      FatBoyThin: Thank you for commenting. My "things to read" list keeps growing as well. I suspect this isn't the worst "problem" to have.

    • FatBoyThin profile image

      Colin Garrow 

      3 years ago from Kinneff, Scotland

      I'm very familiar with Maya Angelou, but can't say I've read anything by Elizabeth Gilbert or Barbara Kingsolver, even though they're both on my list of 'things to read'. The problem with such lists is they just get longer! Great Hub Julie, voted up.


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