Maya Angelou
And still I rise … Maya Angelou in 1999. Photograph: Martin Godwin for the Guardian

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

2. If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.

3. There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.

4. I do not trust people who don’t love themselves and yet tell me, ‘I love you.’ There is an African saying    which is: Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt.

5. We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.

6, You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.

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

8. Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.

9. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

10. I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.

11. The love of the family, the love of the person can heal. It heals the scars left by a larger society. A massive, powerful society.

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

13. Nothing will work unless you do.

14. It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.

15. I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way (s)he handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.