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Dr. Maya Angelou on Wellness, Health, and Friendship


(Photo: Riccardo S. Savi, WireImages-Getty Images)


Wellness means different things to different people, but we all deserve it. And we should all have a shot at being truly healthy and well. That's the message from Dr. Maya Angelou, who recently had the Maya Angelou Center for Women’s Health and Wellness in Winston-Salem, N.C., named after her.

"One person would say 'I am really well if I could run a marathon,' and another one, if she could walk around the block,"says Dr. Angelou, who is a well-known poet, author, singer, director, actor, and civil rights' activist. "I can’t say what would be well for anyone, but consider your age and your self and your condition."

Unfortunately, when most people go to the doctor, it's a rushed, one-sided conversation where the doctor examines you and then tells you what's wrong. But Dr. Angelou believes that this is the wrong way to go about health care. In fact, she says that sometimes the officials in health centers bully the ill, the sick, and the aging instead of focusing on their health.

Health care should be a two-way street. The truth is, most of us already know if something is wrong with us—we just don't know the name of our ailment, she says. 

"If a doctor poo-poos what you say, find a new doctor," Dr. Angelou says. "The doctor needs to know that you need to be a participant in what he or she says."

The new Maya Angelou Center for Women’s Health and Wellness was created to do just that. Women will be able to participate in their own health by being advocates for themselves and partnering with doctors and nurses, rather than the usual top-down approach. We are all in charge of our own health.

"So if you want to walk around the block and play with your children, have a good physical and spiritual love affair and you’re not able to, there's a reason for that," Dr. Angelou says. "Look into it, be on you own side and see what you need."

And her number one piece of advice for women to truly be well and healthy? Find a sister friend who you can call in the middle of the night and say, "Girl...the stuff has hit the air conditioner."
"A woman needs someone she can trust, someone who laughs when she laughs, but who has different ideas so she can learn from and teach to them," she says. "She needs someone who will stand up with her and encourage her to be a woman—not just a female. See where you are, admit what you know, and what you need, and search for a sister friend."

Who's your sister friend? How do you stay well? Do you feel like a participant in your health care? Tell us, and also be sure to enter the “Healthy Inspirations” contest on the new Maya Angelou Center for Women’s Health and Wellness Facebook page for a chance to win an autographed copy of her book, Phenomenal Woman


Jennipher Walters is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites and A certified personal trainer, lifestyle and weight management coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and regularly writes about all things fitness and wellness for various online publications.


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