It is not only a simple cliché but also a cultural meme, that at the beginning of a new year, like the Roman god Janus, we reflect on the past and make plans for a different future. This meme represents a fundamental human urge to learn, change and develop new ways of being in the world. Essentially, it is an annual opportunity to focus on possibilities and to say, “That can be me.”
University of Chicago philosopher Martha Nussbaum suggests that two key questions guide our efforts to pursue what we can be: What are we actually able to do and to be? What real opportunities do we have to pursue our goals?
Professor Michelle Rankins led a lunchtime seminar on two poems by Maya Angelou during the first Cleveland Single Moms Conference in October. The group read “Phenomenal Woman” in unison, forceful and strong voices booming through the open air of the Cleveland Galleria. The Single Moms Conference offered Books@Work the chance to reach readers who might feel isolated. “When I read it, it made me think that beauty is internal,” one participant said. “When you find your inner strength,” another noted, “no one can touch you.”