“Only a Fool…”

As a child I had a fear of correction.

Not so much because of the arrogance of thinking I’m always right but the fear of being found as wrong.

In my youth I connected being corrected with being a bad person.

This resulted in me learning over time to live my life in such a way where I don’t really put myself in a position to receive negative feedback.

I didn’t do this by getting my life together, I did this in part by imitating someone who has done so and at other times by hiding myself in the crowd.

But I have been told that the sages have a saying “one’s true nature is like smoke: one cannot hide it in the folds of one’s garment.”

No matter how I try to hide my true nature in the end the truth always finds me out.

I went by countless teachers and earned A’s in academics and I was praised for my wit.

However, I exposed very few of them to the disorganization of my thoughts.

That was my misfortune for had I done so one would have corrected me and helped me to fix that problem a long time ago.

I worked in sales and developed a system of doing it my way and was able to achieve high sales goals. So while I didn’t implement the methods I was taught I flew high enough that no one seriously corrected me.

And I consciously and subconsciously find ways not to be in relationships. I do this because what greater mirror is there to expose who you are then that of a life partner?

I don’t really like people at my house.

Why?

Because when people come to your home they see aspects of who you are and in doing so one just might correct me.

But the thing is I’m not fooling anyone. People can see right through me. I’m the only one blind to myself.

My hiding is akin to people posting memes on Facebook asserting “you don’t know me through my post” but to the contrary, what you post shows a side of you whether you accept it or not.

For example if you’re always posting tragic news stories, we know you live a life of fear, if you always post about how you don’t want a romantic partner, we know you do. When you post a million selfies, we know you’re in need of attention.

And when I post comical things and motivational posts I’m sure the trained eye knows it’s a mask for depression.

People know things about you that you haven’t accepted about yourself.

They often simply don’t tell you.

They may feel it isn’t there place, that you won’t receive it, they might be too busy living their on lives to try to tell you about yourself, or they may have even tried to tell you and you didn’t have ear to hear.

I knew I had taken the whole fear of correction thing too far when I realized I have a fear of being corrected by my yoga instructor.

I’m the newest person in my yoga class with an instructor who cares enough that she wants to see people do things right.

She won’t let you position your foot incorrectly, or place your hip out of alignment.

And so there I am standing in front of everyone and I noticed I only want to hear the good jobs.

How silly of me.

It’s expected that I don’t know how to do poses correctly – I’m new!

I’m paying to learn yoga, thus isn’t the reason I’m in yoga class to learn yoga!

How am I benefiting by pretending to know what my awkward movements so clearly show I don’t know?

Sadly she must have felt my fear of correction because I noticed she started correcting me in subtle ways compared to everyone else.

That is my loss. If I wasn’t so afraid of correction it would help me to go further.

I have to accept correction doesn’t mean I’m a bad person. It’s my opportunity for learning.

Scripture says only a fool despises correction.

And no matter the root cause of my fear I’ve been a fool.

Over a decade ago during an argument my cousin once told me “Renata you’re not always right, to which I snidely replied “I know it’s just that you’re always wrong”.

That comment showed my level of arrogance.

What started as a fear of being a bad person left unchecked molded me into an arrogant one.

It was during her anger that she allowed herself to tell me the truth that I needed to hear, even though I pretended not to.

And so here I am about 15 years since that disagreement and I was preparing myself to go to yoga class and in my recollection a lecture by Chief Yuya came to mind. During his teaching segment he explained that a coach has to watch a person run in order to help the runner correct their form.

I’ve been going about trying to run when the coach had their back turned. I was the one who pretended to have a sprained ankle and needed to sit this one out.

And all the while the truth is everyone sees my true nature, my sickness cannot be hidden the diagnosis is out – to include my fear of correction.

And so here I am preparing for yoga class. It would behoove me to love myself enough that this time I let go of my fear and allow my instructor to teach me how to get in alignment and hold proper form.

Love,

Renata Nicole

© Renata Pittman Smith and RenataNicole, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Renata Pittman Smith and RenataNicole with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

That Scarcity Mentality

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The belief that you have no other options can keep you clinging on well after it is clear that your are only grasping a mere shadow of hope that was cast from the past.

Fear that if you walk away that you will be left with nothing.

The idea that if you say no there will be nothing to say yes to.

The notion that if you let go you will never have anything to hold onto.

There is nothing like that good ole scarcity mentality to leave us as hopeless as a penny with a hole it.

I know that feeling all to well.

It’s the feeling that I have to put up with my circumstances because I’m convinced I have no other options.

When I operate in a scarcity mentality, I feel like I have to take whatever is put before me.

In my past this has led to me working a job that I hated because I was afraid that if I left I wouldn’t find another place of employment.

And it has led to me staying in a toxic relationship because I believed that no one else would love me.

Neither of which were true, but because I had a scarcity mentality I had a hard time convincing myself otherwise.

In the work situation I found myself physically ill at the mere idea of going to my place of employment.

I would pull up to the parking lot at work with a back full of stress knots because I had so much anxiety about working at a place that I knew I should no longer be at.

But I had bills to pay, I had children to care for, mouths to feed and so I would clock in and do my job with a stomach full of anxiety.

But one day I chose me and I quit the job.

That’s right you read that correctly.

With no other job in hand, I quit the job.

Two weeks later I found employment somewhere else.

Now am I saying that if a person quits a job without having another job that they will find employment in two weeks time?

No, absolutely not.

But what I am saying is that I felt like I didn’t have any other options and I stayed at a place of employment that didn’t sit well with me because I assumed that it was my only choice.

I left with no other visible options because I decided that working in a place that was jeopardizing my health wasn’t worth the money.

I had developed a scarcity mentality in terms of employment because I had previously struggled to find the job I was so unhappy with and I also had a business fail in my past.

So all I keep thinking was that if it took such a long time to find the job that stressed me out then I would never find anything else.

For three months I had been applying for other places of employment and no one was even calling me back for an interview.

I perceived all of that as further confirmation that if I left that I would never find anywhere else to work.

My scarcity mentality had me convinced that I had no other options for work in a poor job market, however when I chose me other options opened up.

Had I not let go of the unhealthy work environment I most likely would have never pursued other places of employment with the determination that I did.

Another example of where I had to overcome the scarcity mentality in my life is in the area of love.

Much to my chagrin I stayed in and clung to unhealthy relationships because I had convinced myself that the person I was with was my only option.

I felt like if they didn’t love me no one would.

I didn’t believe I had any other options.

I failed to see what I had to offer.

I thought that because the people I interacted with at that time couldn’t see me that no one would and that I had to take the scraps that they gave me.

I had a false perception of who I was.

Thankfully, I learned from blogger Natalie Lue over at baggagereclaim.com that you have to stop looking at the men in your life as if they are the last chance saloon and she was so right.

If the person you are with isn’t treating you right you have to stop believing they are your only option.

I say this because as embarrassing as it is to confess, there was a point in my past where I have begged someone to love me.

Thankfully, I have reached a place where I don’t do that any more.

I’m happy to say that people who aren’t attracted to me are no longer attractive to me.

Asking someone to like me, love me, care about me, visit with me, spend time with me isn’t something I’m into.

I recognize that by the very definition the person for me – will actually like me!

And so when I find myself in situations where I recognize that I clearly care more than the other person I remove my energy from that interaction and refocus it towards people who give me reciprocity.

The first example of me intentionally doing this was when I separated from my ex-husband.

After accepting that my marriage was over I felt so unloved.

I felt like no one in the world loved me.

At the thought of how unlovable I felt I would get so emotionally cold and alone that I would actually physically experience goosebumps.

So one day I pulled out a dry erase marker and on my bathroom mirror I wrote the names of everyone who I knew loved me.

The list included my mother, children, aunts and uncles, close coworkers, dear friends and several of my cousins.

By the time I finished my mirror was filled with scores of people who loved me.

Everyday when I woke up I would read off the names of all the people who loved me and some days additional people would come to my remembrance and I would add them.

And then each day I would make a conscious effort to contact as many of those people as I possibly could.

Sometimes I sent text messages, other times it was a phone call, or I would drop a card in the mail. I would have lunch with coworkers who had become friends and go over to spend time with close friends after work.

But most importantly during that time I also reconnected with myself.

I started exercising, I pampered myself at the salon, I bought new clothes, I ate better, I worked on my spiritual life and I loved on me.

Refocusing my attention from the one person who didn’t love me to those who did and onto myself wasn’t easy because I had created a habit of observing evidence of me not being lovable. However, with time I stopped focusing on the person who didn’t love me and I was giving my time and energy to the people who did.

Sometimes we think that we have to replace romantic love with romantic love.

But I was able to successfully replace unrequited romantic love with requited platonic and familial love.

My point is I had convinced myself that no one would ever love me because my ex-husband didn’t and with some work I retrained my thoughts to recognize that I was overlooking all the people who do love me and that there would be more to come.

I know for some the concern is the desire to replace romantic love with romantic love.

But as for me, once I accepted that there was a plethora of people in my life who adored me and started loving on myself it helped me to retrain my thinking that if my ex-husband didn’t love me that no one else would.

And in time I started to meet men who were attracted to me.

However, I truly believe that if I would have kept holding on to the scraps of a marriage that was most certainly over I probably would have never had the opportunity to spend time with men who genuinely enjoyed having me in their company.

I would have stayed with someone who ignored me and called me names instead of having soulful conversations with someone who enjoyed me and called me beautiful.

So when I catch myself thinking that I have no other options, I recall those two situations where I let go of the fear of having no other options if I were to leave a job that I felt physically ill going to and the time when I left a marriage that beat me down emotionally and came out better on the other side.

I can truly say my life is so much richer now because I chose me.

I left those situations without a new love in sight or without a job in hand because I let go of my fear and my scarcity mentality.

Love,
Renata Nicole

© Renata Pittman Smith and RenataNicole, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Renata Pittman Smith and RenataNicole with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

I Know What I Want!

I rarely go window shopping.

When I do it’s because I have a vague idea of what I am looking for and I want to look around to help myself narrow in on what I really want.

The majority of the time when I enter a store I know the exact item I would like to purchase and cannot be convinced to get anything else.

Before making a purchase, I have done my research, I have price shopped, read all the online reviews and even know what retailer I want to purchase the item from.

Sales people have a very hard time trying to convince me into purchasing any additional accessories or picking out another item.

If it is something that I have to save up for in order to purchase I work hard at putting money away over time so that I will be prepared to make the purchase.

I’m an informed buyer, I know what I want and what I don’t want and if a store doesn’t have the item in stock, I can assure you that I will be shopping elsewhere.

My kids see me as stubborn – but I know what I want.

I have often gone shopping with friends and they would notice that I didn’t purchase any items on our outing. When they questioned me about it I will tell them I didn’t intend to buy anything and so all I did was looked around and made a mental assessment of things that I may want in the future. They would shake their head at me but like I said – I know what I want.

So today I was laying on my couch scrolling through my Facebook news feed thinking about how I struggle finding what I am looking for in love.

I playfully went over the notion that it was because as one of my friends said “I was allergic to love”, but when I became honest I accepted my truth, I didn’t know what I wanted.

Or at least I wasn’t consciously aware.

I mean ask me what I want when it came to shoes, clothes, perfume, jewelry, makeup, food, books, cleaning products, household appliances, vehicles and a home and I can tell you everything you need to know but when it came to knowing what I wanted as far as a romantic partner I had a foggy idea but it most certainly wasn’t something I was clear on.

I guess perhaps it really is true that you can’t know what you want until you know what you don’t want.

I mean of course I knew I didn’t want a partner who was physically abusive towards me and I knew I wanted someone I was physically attracted but honestly for the most part I was feeling my way out.

Sad to say it was because I wasn’t secure in who I am. I was fearful that I wouldn’t find what I really wanted because I didn’t see myself as worthy of the ideal partner I had in mind which would result in me being alone.

I’m okay with being alone if I can’t find what I’m looking for but the concept of not being good enough for the type of person I desire is pretty disheartening.

Unfortunately, I have spent the bulk of my life not seeing myself as valuable and telling myself a lie that I had to take what I could get.

That’s how I ended up married at 18, I had honestly convinced myself that if I didn’t marry him no one else would ever want to marry me.

Surprise, surprise to my 18-year-old self I have turned down multiple offers of marriage.

Thankfully, I have grown and become aware that I am indeed valuable.

I have also learned that I must have boundaries for what I will and will not accept.

By having boundaries I stopped being a doormat.

I will not be uncomfortable in order for another person to be happy.

They are free to seek someone who will allow them to do the things that make me uncomfortable but that person will not be me.

After 32 years of not loving myself I created a huge self-love deficit that I have been consciously working on for about 4 1/2 years.

While I have a lot of work to do to reverse that deficit the good news is that I have grown by leaps and bounds.

I have the strength to walk away from relationships that harm me, and that takes a lot of self-love to do.

And so I decided to use that strength to take walk away from my scarcity mentality that if I develop a criteria of what I will and will not accept then it will make it harder to find someone.

A scarcity mentality is what causes many of us to stay in unhealthy relationships because we are afraid that if we leave that no one else is coming. As I previously posted there are over 7 billion people on this planet I promise you someone else is coming.

And with that knowledge I have decided to open myself up to loving and being loved in a romantic capacity to a higher degree.

But in order for me to do that I aknowledgeI flat-out must have standards to go along with my boundaries.

There has to be standards that a guy has to meet in order for me to give him the green light. I had blogged about it before and I had created some standards but I’m going to have to raise the bar.

For one thing he has to be sure about what he wants because I have become sure about what I want.

No more attracting people who are confused all just so we can sit there together in a sea of confusion gleefully wasting one another’s time.

Much to my chargrin my low-level of self-esteem is why I hadn’t developed more standards in the past. I was afraid to reduce the size of the dating pool out of fear I would end up with no one at all.

I simply had to develop standards because when you don’t have standards or in my case very few standards for what you want you will accept darn near anything.

You have to know what you want!

If you know what you want, you will easily dismiss what you don’t want.

Once you make up in your mind people will have a hard time trying to convince you of otherwise and it will help you know what you are looking for when you see it.

Therefore, if you want someone who has the same spiritual beliefs as you and you meet someone who doesn’t you will see it as your signal that they aren’t a match.

I’m not talking about having some inordinate list of criteria for a person to meet but I am talking about having standards for what you will and will not accept in a partner.

I realized that I simply had to outline what I wanted or else I would attract people who are just as confused as to what they want as I am.

I’ve been walking around with a fear of a broken heart since my divorce four years ago and even with that fear I ended up with my biggest heartbreak only two years ago.

So being afraid of opening up is definitely not the way to protect yourself.

Dating and just seeing where it goes without being attached to the outcome has been freeing for me, but I realize I must first do a better job of pre-qualifying the men I date before I try to see where anything goes with them.

And in addition to sticking to a higher level of standards I have also decided that the same way that I do the work of saving up so that I can afford big purchase items is the same way I need to spiritually, mentally, physically and emotionally prepare myself to have someone come into my life.

And so after putting pen to paper and making my list – I know what I want!

Love,

Renata Nicole

© Renata Pittman Smith and RenataNicole, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Renata Pittman Smith and RenataNicole with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Fitting Into Yourself

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Photo Courtesy of Lorena Gonzalez

We watch people go for their dreams and think to ourselves, I’d be too afraid to take that leap.

Fear has an amazing way of keeping so many of us stuck in relationships we don’t like, in cities we want to move away from, in jobs we can’t stand, not having conversations that need to be spoken, and ultimately not living the lives that we would like to live.

If I am honest, the truth is that there are many things that I would like to do that I am too afraid venture out into.

Don’t get me wrong, personally I’ve dared to take leaps on more than one occasion and each time I landed in financial ruin and left my loved ones scratching their heads trying to figure out my brand of crazy.

As a 35-year-old single mother it is not socially acceptable for me to take career risks that would be acceptable of a young single 18-year-old man.

For some reason it is more acceptable for young people to want to find themselves but if a forty-five year old man who is a husband and father of two wakes up one day and decides he wants to quit his job and sell everything he owns and has his family travel the world most people would call him crazy.

People who don’t want to work a nine to five, for forty hours a week at a job that doesn’t fulfill them are deemed by many as lazy.

Most of us never stop to think about why we get up everyday and go to a place that we hate.

Who decided that was to be our source of income and why did we accept it as truth?

It’s deemed easier to get up and work a job you hate for income, than it is to search for your purpose and earn an income from your talent to the world.

Far too many of us accept it as truth that it isn’t possible to have a job you love that pays well.

When people say they want to start writing books, start growing a crop for sell, painting, singing, designing clothing, opening their own exercise gym or anything that takes them out of the traditional nine to five they are deemed as abnormal.

We even scoff and say things like “you must have money to make money”.

Some of even take steps to make sure they know there isn’t enough resources, and that they can never do it.

Many of us our quick to recommend they take a “normal job”.

But there was a time when people had a craft of their own and a trade of their own that they brought to the table and that was a “normal job”.

They did more than file documents or sell products that most people don’t need or work in a system that ties their hands from doing a job the way they feel that they should do it.

Many of us dream of being entrepreneurs but we are afraid of not having a regular paycheck.

Our fear of not having money is used as a way of keeping us on the treadmill of the nine to five workforce because we don’t know how we will earn money if we dare to start our journey and be a trailblazer into uncharted territory.

Most learning institutions teach us how to work for someone else, not how to work for ourselves.

So week after week, we go to a job we don’t like and many of us go there for income that doesn’t cover our bills and moreover we go into debt, all out of fear.

We think anyone who is making it big must have done something illegal, immoral or unethical to get there.

Because here we are working 40 hours a week and all we got was a dollar raise.

When our friends try to start a small business of their own many of us don’t support them.

We are afraid to trust them with our money so we give it to the “professionals”. Better to lose our money to a big conglomerate than to invest it in someone we know personally.

In America the number of people with degrees surpasses the number of positions that require a degree and no one wants to talk about it.

Because we were told by universities who were in the business of selling us a degree that we need a degree in order to make it and now when their isn’t enough fruit in the way of jobs we are still telling our kids to go to university to get the degree so that they can at least have a chance at being underemployed.

Don’t get me wrong I’m not opposed to higher learning, nor am I opposed to working a traditional nine to five. However, I do think we should question why we judge people who choose to live their dreams instead of living their the way society tells them they should and not because they want to.

Some people are happy working a nine to five for someone else and there is nothing wrong with that.

But then there are other people who want to have their own construction company even if it means they have to work 70 hours a week to do it and to that I say they are not wrong for that either.

I posit many of us have been conditioned to believe that living out our dreams is for someone else, but not ourselves. We have been ingrained to believe this so much so, that when someone we know personally tries to break out of that mold they make us uncomfortable.

This is because the people who we know personally are most like us. And if they can make it then what is keeping us from doing the same?

Sadly, dream crushing has become so normal it’s hard to share a dream out loud.

Voiced dreams are often met with great resistance. Share a dream and the naysayers will swiftly speak up and smack it down.

I have seen firsthand where adults go into elementary schools and tell kids they should give up their dreams of making it big and have more conventional dreams.

We steal dreams from youth because we have been conditioned to believe that dreams are for the Bill Gates of the world, but not for us.

But dream crushing doesn’t stop in the workforce.

Additionally, we are afraid of being alone so we settle in unloving relationships. Many people are convinced to stay in painful relationships because “a good partner is hard to find”.

The idea of someone choosing to either be in a healthy relationship or no relationship at all is strange to many people.

Far too many people think that surely a man or woman must have something wrong with them if they love themselves enough to only tolerate a healthy partnership.

And another crippling fear that keeps us from our dreams is that many of us stay in a place we don’t like because we are so afraid that if we move that perhaps we won’t like the new place.

Ultimately, we stay in the known we don’t like out of fear of the unknown.

There are people who have never left their hometowns out of fear.

Their only point of reference to the outer world is the stereotypical depictions they see portrayed by the media.

And thus we live our lives afraid to quit our job and start our own business because we might go broke, all while disregarding the fact that everyday that we go to work we feel broken.

We are afraid to tell our kids its okay to want to be an author or a painter because we’ve been told those jobs don’t pay much money.

Sadly, I think many of us secretly hope the people in our lives fail when they try to buck the system and do what makes them happy.

I think that many of us hope they fail because deep down we know that if they succeed, it means that the only thing that keeps us from our happiness is our fear of failure. And if they can make it that means that we could have made it and our unhappiness is self-made.

If our friend loses the weight by persistently making healthy choices and we didn’t it means it was possible for us to lose the weight also, and thus perhaps the excuses we have been spouting aren’t valid.

We secretly want them to fail so we can keep lying to ourselves and remain uncomfortably uncomfortable.

When our friends business starts turning a profit we put a fake smile on our face while secretly wondering “how can someone do what makes their soul happy and succeed while everyone else plays by the rules and works at a job they hate”.

It really sticks in our craw for someone to start a small business and succeed when we tried selling Mary Kay that one time and no one in our family would even place an order.

But what we don’t see is the times when that person sleep on their friends couch or in their car in an attempt to fulfill their dreams.

We don’t see the times they bathed in the bathroom of a gas station.

We don’t see when no one would help them because they felt they should have known better than to quit that job.

We don’t see all the times they were rejected, their silent hustle, their tears, the times they doubted and their sweat.

Those people earned their success, they worked for it.

They believed in their dreams enough to walk them out while everyone else laid in the bed only dreaming.

For some reason we don’t cheer until they make it big, but even then as I previously mentioned we secretly resent them for showing us that if only we had toiled to break free the way they did we too could be in a position that we love also.

If only we weren’t too afraid to sell everything and move to Africa like our soul told us to.

If only we had the strength to leave that abusive relationship with the knowledge that we don’t have a wide variety of job skills and may not be able to afford to make ends meet without the help of our partner.

And if only we weren’t afraid to keep trying to make a business work even if it meant we saw it go down in flames.

It would be nice if society applauded those who march by the beat of a different drummer. But in our world most of us possess the herd mentality. We don’t like to think outside of societal traditions, instead we do what we believe most people do and never question why any of us are doing it.

Anyone who goes outside of the norm and chooses to do what makes them comfortable often makes us uncomfortable.

How dare they act on their dream of moving to the country and owning a farm and not eating food grown commercially!

No one else is doing it!

Most of us do not live in a society where being an individual is cheered upon, therefore for many of us individuality isn’t easy. But I say be an individual any way.

The majority of parents hope that their children will be normal and fit in with everyone else. I hope my kids fit in to themselves.

Love,

 

Renata Nicole

© Renata Pittman Smith and RenataNicole, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Renata Pittman Smith and RenataNicole with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

 

 

The Blessing of Failure

“Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” – J.K. Rowling

 

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Photo Courtesy of Crystal Thomas Ashford

 

I can attest to the aforementioned quote by J.K. Rowling, that rock bottom is a solid foundation like no other.

Having life strip away everything that is unnecessary and leave you with the bare minimum puts you in a place where you can start afresh far better than you can from any other station in life.

I know without a shadow of a doubt that it wasn’t until life humbled me and allowed me to fail time and time again that I ironically gained traction in my journey on the road to success.

With each loss I discovered unnecessary parts of me that I had not realized were present until they were removed from me.

I had toyed with the idea of being an entrepreneur for several years.

But I was always too afraid to take the risk.

I mean what if I failed?

What would people say?

How would I recover?

So I never did it.

I allowed my fear to prevent me from venturing out on my own.

That was until I decided to do it – afraid.

I decided to invest all I had into myself and my business venture.

So I didn’t talk about my plans with anyone unless they were an expert on the subject. Because, I didn’t want to risk people who lived in fear to sow negative thoughts in my mind or talk me out of it. So I did my research, talked to experts in the field, studied the market and I took the risk.

I pulled all my resources together in attempt to start a business of my own and guess what?

– I failed.

The result of my six month business venture was $58.00 in income which was easily overshadowed by overhead costs. Six months of hard work, six months of trying, six months of being told no, six months of putting more in financially then I ever received out and I was blessed with $58.00.

So with relatively no income outside of child support and three teenage kids looking to me for provision I had a decision to make.

I had to determine how I was going to provide in a job market where I was told I was overqualified. So when I was turned down for the positions that I was fully qualified for, I did the only thing I knew to do. I took three low wage paying part-time jobs and I put them together.

With the help of my friends and family, child support and my three part-time jobs I was able to make ends meet. There were times when I would go to bed at night not knowing how I would provide food for my kids the next day but every single day I woke up and God made provision for us.

I can honestly say I know what it is to trust God for provision of my daily bread.

Prior to that time no one could have told me that I had the physical ability to stand on my feet for 12 hour days.

I suffer from chronic pain that makes it hard for me to go about my day.

But there is something about knowing that I am responsible for three kids that made me push through the pain.

And no one could have told me that I could work 16 hours in a day at two different jobs. Moreover, the concept that I would have to run to the bathroom and vomit due to exhaustion was inconceivable prior to me living that reality. But there is something about knowing that your kids need to have food to eat and not knowing any other way that isn’t illegal , immoral or unethical that some how miraculously gives you the strength to stand.

No one could have told me that I would see all of my needs met in ways that seemed to signal that divine intervention had certainly played a hand in taking care of me, but I lived through it. I have seen things occur in my life that definitely boggle my human mind and I can’t settle with viewing them as simply a small thing, when I know that if the money would have come one day later I would have been in a deeper hole.

Things definitely arrived for me just in the nick of time on more than one occasion.

As I was working part-time I would submit application after application and go on interview after interview just to be told, “no”.

I began to question if I was going the wrong way. I wondered if all the nos where life’s way of telling me to give up.

But I don’t think that was it at all.

The failure of my business, the failure to secure a job that would provide adequate pay, the struggle of working three low paying jobs in an attempt to make ends meet, the feeling I got when all I could afford to give my kids for their birthday was a cake, not being able to afford to provide the life my kids were accustomed to when their father and I were married, were the times that shaped and made me into a stronger version of myself.

Due to my knowledge that I have failed and survived before, I have become brave enough to try again.

I’ve leaped only to hit the ground hard and ultimately learn that while it is indeed very hard that it cannot break me.

So I’ve decided to use the lessons of my failures to help me to take the leap of faith to try again.

Because ironically the greatest lesson that my failure taught me is that I cannot fail.

Even when it seems, I’m going the wrong way I will ultimately end up exactly where I’m supposed to be.

Indeed I am my own limit!

Nothing can come between me and my destiny but me!

I recognize that by taking another leap that I could fall even lower than I did the last time, but whether I fall again or soar, I have decided to leap nonetheless.

I can’t say that I despise failure because I love the lessons she teaches me.

Just because I haven’t mastered how to win doesn’t mean I’m going to stop playing. I’m still in the game all the way up until the time the final buzzer sounds.

The way I see it is that I still have breath in my body and my dream has yet to come into fruition, so that means it’s my responsibility to keep on going.

Am I afraid? – ABSOLUTELY!

But I’ve decided to do it afraid.

I’m reading books on all types of topics to expand my mind. I’m sitting at the feet of people who have gotten to where I want to go and consider myself blessed just to be able to have direct access to them and for their willingness to give me advice. I’m stealing whatever time I can from the act of being lazy and diverting it to the action of honing my craft.

I have a vision in my head of what I will achieve and like a dog with a bone I’m not willing to let it go.

But there are some things that I will let go of.

I will let go of bad habits so new ones can unfold.

I will let go of negative thoughts so new ones can take hold.

I’m allowing myself to be comfortably uncomfortable trying new things.

And the result is that I’m hearing no’s again but I have the courage to keep asking.

I’m being told close but no cigar, so I’m determined to get closer.

I’m having the phone hung up on me, so I keep dialing.

I’ve ended the day without achieving my daily business goals and I used the sting of that failure to light a fire under me to overachieve for the next day.

I look at my check register and wonder do I have what it takes to make it or will I fail like I did the time before. Then I tell myself that my destiny lies beyond those numbers.

I have to tell myself to stop worrying about the people who are betting against me and to remember that what I think of me is all that matters.

I remind myself that as long as I don’t give up that I will achieve the results that I hope to achieve.

I am taking the lessons of my yesterday and I am applying them to my today.

For I have a choice, I can give this my all or I can not do it at all. There is no half stepping, no partial effort, it’s all or nothing and I want it all.

It is possible that I may fall all the way to the bottom. But we already discussed the benefits of being at the bottom at the top of this blog entry.

If I hit rock bottom I’ll still be breathing and that means I’m still in the game.

Yes, when you’re at the bottom people will judge you, but guess what they’ll judge you no matter what your station is in life.

Also you can’t learn how to truly appreciate what you have until you experience not having.

For almost three years I felt like a hamster on a wheel. I was running at top speed exerting a bunch of energy and I never seemed to get any traction.

And now I stand with the glimmer of hope that this time I can make it. I’m gaining ground and I like it.

It is my firm belief that this time I can achieve my goal but I am going to have to put in the work to earn it.

When it comes to our dreams in life no one is going to give us anything we haven’t worked for.

With that said I am going to keep trying to achieve my dreams and keep reaching for my goals.

I’m investing in me.

Before my failure I thought that obstacles were meant to destroy me.

It wasn’t until someone explained to me that life doesn’t put obstacles before us in the hope that we would fail but to the contrary, it does it in the hopes that we will succeed.

Because, much like a trainer sets up exercises for an athlete to enhance their ability, so does life set up exercises to advance us.

Life gives us hindrances and obstacles with the hopes that we will become stronger.

We need that strength for where we are going.

For that reason I am thankful for kids who ask why we live in an apartment when their friends live in a house.

And I give thanks for the guy who told me he didn’t want to continue seeing me because I was struggling financially.

Not because it made me want more money or because I’m some sort of glutton for punishment, but rather because I knew I was trying my best and from those comments I learned that only I know when I am doing my best and even if those I care about see me as a failure I have to know who I am for myself.

I have grown to value the eye rolls, scoffs, rejection and judgment as much as the love, kindness, support and care that I received from those around me.

I tell this story not as someone who has achieved my dream.

No I’m telling my story in the face of everyone and I’m saying it may not happen this year or even this decade but I have a dream in my heart and if I die before it manifests I want the world to know that I died trying.

Far too many of us become paralyzed by our fear of failure. But I’m here to say I failed and yet I am still in the game. I encourage you to try even if it results in failure because failure is indeed it’s own blessing.

© Renata Pittman Smith and RenataNicole, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Renata Pittman Smith and RenataNicole with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

When You’re Just “Too Proficient”

I was working as a teacher’s assistant  when I first heard the comment.

“Renata, you’re just too proficient.”

I smiled when the lead teacher said it.

I was so proud that I was good at my job and was being acknowledged for my abilities.

While working as his assistant I had the uncanny ability to provide him with whatever he needed and have it in place before he even realized he needed it.

At the time I didn’t have an inkling that being too proficient would be my downfall.

I would hear “Renata, can you hand me the….”

And before he could finish the sentence whatever he was asking for was placed in his hand.

He would smile and say, “You’re just too proficient.”

It made me feel good knowing that I was able to make his job easier.

Fast forward to a few years later when my supervisor pulled me to the side and said, “You know what you do? – You intimidate people. You are simply too good at what you do and it intimidates people, so they don’t want to work with you. There is absolutely nothing you can do about it, just be aware that when you are too good at what you do it makes other people intimidated.”

I didn’t know at the time that those comments carried as much weight as they do until now.

This blog post is for all the people who are too proficient at their craft(s).

This is for the people who excel at what they do, but instead of being told congratulations they are told, sorry we don’t have a place for you.

I don’t know how many people can relate to this, but I am certain I am not the only one.

So I am going to continue to tap my keyboard until I have finished expressing my thoughts on this matter.

It has been two years since I came to the realization that my problem was in fact that I am too good for many of the things that I seek in life.

If that statement sounds arrogant then to you I say with the utmost respect – this blog post is not for you.

No, this blog post is for the people who know what it is to be one of the best, if not the best, only to have people tell you time after time that you that you are not what they are looking for.

Hearing those words can make you doubt your abilities but something inside of you keeps saying “I know I’m good at what I do”.

For almost a year I had been toying with the notion of diminishing myself so that other people would feel more comfortable around me and I would be viewed as less  intimidating.

I actually tried to “dumb myself down” the way that I had been advised to do.

-It didn’t work.

It didn’t work because I cannot pretend to be someone who I am not.

Interviewers saw through my facade and kindly rejected me.

– “You’re overqualified”.

That is what I was told.

I think I could have handled it better if I only heard it in my professional life.

But when I heard it in my romantic life it just compounded the problem.

– “You’re just too good for me.”

I wanted to believe that it was just their kind way of saying that I wasn’t the one, but no, I knew that it meant far more than that.

Yes, sometimes people lie and say that to protect your feelings when they aren’t interested in you, but I knew deep down in my core being that their words were true.

I was, “too good” for them in the same way I was “too proficient” for certain positions.

I have a tendency to settle for people, places, situations and things that I know I can do better than because I am afraid to try to go where my soul cries and says I belong. And yet, I wanted to be accepted by someone, somewhere.

I feared rejection from what I really wanted so I tried to fit in where I didn’t belong.

But life doesn’t work that way!

You have to get in where you fit in.

In attempting to escape rejection from where I felt drawn, I experienced rejection from where I settled.

When you don’t resonate with people, they will reject you.

It doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with you. But it does mean you are not the right fit.

Sure you can go about fitting square pegs into round holes, but it is far simplier to fit the round peg in the round hole and the square peg in the square hole.

And yet far too many of us get caught up wondering why are we round instead of square or not appreciating that we are square instead of round or God forbid feeling distraught that we are rectangular, triangular or oval!

We wonder why we aren’t something instead of embracing what we are and connecting to that which we are designed for.

Round pegs look around and all they claim to see is a world full of square holes.

Never mind the fact that it is uncomfortable trying to jam themselves into the lives of square holes – they just want to fit in no matter the magnitude of discomfort!

Sure the round pegs might see a couple of round holes here or there but from their point of view it seems like they are too far away and perhaps they wouldn’t even want to get know said round peg, so round pegs decide you know maybe good ole square hole will do.

After jamming their way in and filling totally uncomfortable eventually round hole looks over at the square peg or perhaps the square peg looks over at round hole and says “look this here isn’t working for me”.

And this leads to the painful process of the round peg being removed from the square hole where they both end up with scars.

We fail to recognize that if we are not the right fit for them then logically they are not the right fit for us.

When a round hole is rejected by a square peg, the round hole has a tendency to think there isn’t a place for them in this world.

For example in my case, I remember getting mad when I heard I deserved better because as I saw it better never came.

I was tired of waiting for better and I tried time and time again to settle.

But as I stated earlier what I settled for eventually rejected me.

I knew the entire time I deserved better than what didn’t fit me and that which did not fit knew it as well.

Thankfully, I have finally arrived at a place where I recognize that if someone doesn’t want my services because I am “too proficient” then I should go where my services are wanted, needed and desired.

I used to cry when I didn’t get a position I thought I wanted.

Now I thank God for redirecting me.

I have faith that the reason things didn’t work out the way I hoped is because there is something better coming.

I sincerely don’t get upset any more.

Those people know their work environment far better than I do. They know whether or not I am a good institutional fit.

Them telling me no isn’t a signal for me to give up and think that there is something wrong with me. No it is a signal to keep refining myself, honing my craft and becoming my best self.

I have spent far too much time out of my life trying to get people who don’t accept me, to accept me.

And so it goes with my dating life.

If someone doesn’t want to date me because they don’t think they have what it takes to make me happy, I will no longer try to convince them that they can.

Those people know themselves better than I do.

So I will take their word for it.

If they say I am too good, it’s because I am.

I will not wait for them to rise up to my standard because all it will do is bring me down to their low level.

No, I will seek people, places, situations and things of my caliber.

No more trying in vain to tone myself down so I can be accepted.

Like others who are deemed as “too proficient” I shine far too bright to sink into a crowd.

When you are too proficient there is just something about you that informs people of your greatness without you even uttering a word.

I used to think my shine was only valid if others gave it a nod or congratulated me on it.

No, I shine because I have no other choice but to shine.

I will be honest tonight I was thinking about billing myself as less than what I am because I was tired of being rejected.

I thought perhaps I will just try one more time to downplay myself so I can fit in somewhere.

I held that moment up until I watched Eleanor Powell dance.

Watching her dance made me realize I will not hide my light under a bushel in an attempt to make someone else accept me.

Nope, I’m going to live my life, like Eleanor Powell danced.

For those of you asking yourself who is Eleanor Powell, I am more than happy to introduce her story to you.

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Eleanor Powell has been credited as one of the best American dancers to ever grace the silver screen

She may not be a household name like that of Fred Astaire but it isn’t because she wasn’t as good as him.

Truth be told, the reason she isn’t as recognized as Fred Astaire is because she was “too proficient”.

You see Eleanor was dancing at a time when it was thought that the role of a woman dancing was to make her male partner look good.

Back then women weren’t supposed to dance as good a man, they were supposed to make the man’s performance shine.

But when it came to dancing, Eleanor Powell made herself shine, because she could dance equal to and better than a man.

When watching her dance with the great Fred Astaire many people couldn’t take their eyes off of her because her skill, grace and precision were so dynamic.

As you can view in the clip provided, she was able to dance as good as, if not better than the great Fred Astaire.

And that was the problem.

After working with her in Broadway Melody Fred Astaire decided to never work with her again.

His reasoning, he stated was that “Eleanor Powell, one of our greatest talents, is a bit too powerful for me,” he said. “I love Eleanor Powell, but she dances like a man. She’s a remarkable dancer, but she has a mannish style, and she’s a little big for me.”

Her great dancing ability made it hard for her to find work.

Because she was just “too proficient”.

But that didn’t stop her from dancing.

While she was only featured in 14 films there was no denying her ability.

In his autobiography Steps in Time, Astaire remarked, “She ‘put’ em down like a man’, no ricky-ticky-sissy stuff with Ellie. She really knocked out a tap dance in a class by herself.”

So after some reflection I have purposed to live my life like Eleanor danced.

No more “ricky-ticky-sissy” stuff even if it means I have to shine solo, I’m going to shine.

 

Thank you Eleanor!

Love,

 

Renata Nicole

© Renata Pittman Smith, Renata Nicole and RenataNicole, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Renata Pittman Smith and RenataNicole with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

All Too Familiar No

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Photo Courtesy of: Jamie Kathleen Haughaboo

There is something about being told no that can leave us feeling depleted.

When you have what you consider to be a bright idea and present it to someone only for then to inform you that they don’t think your idea is any good, it has the potential to stop many of us dead in our tracks.

Especially if we view the person as an authority on the subject matter.

There no can cause us to think that we don’t have what it takes to stand toe to toe with others or to be seated at the table with those who are at the place where we are so eagerly would like to pull up a chair.

But then we hear stories of people who were told no several times and then they finally hear that one yes that affirmed them.

There are always rumors of people who go from the bottom to the top, but those people are far and few between.

Nevertheless, those people give us hope.

But as I think of those people, I also think how can I be certain that I have what it takes to make it to the top?

I mean for all the people I hear of who made it, I know hundreds more who didn’t.

So am I one of the few people who will make it or am I one of the hundreds of people who will give up.

The truth is I don’t know. But I am going to die trying to achieve better.

I have to.

I owe it to myself to keep trying.

Because giving up on my dreams simply doesn’t work for me.

If I die a dreamer, I die a dreamer.

For, I would rather die a dreamer than die hopeless.

I arrived at this conclusion after literally being rejected over a thousand times in one year in an attempt to achieve one of my dreams.

So the way I see it is that when it comes to being told no, I am a master. For surely, I myself have become all too familiar with hearing the word no.

It was about four years ago when I realized that when it comes to my life that I have to stop settling.

I didn’t know how to stop but I knew I had to stop.

I didn’t know that decision would lead me on a path to hearing no repeatedly.

I am not confident that had I known from the beginning how hard this road would have been that I would have journeyed it.

It seems as if my whole life fell apart after deciding that I had to love myself enough to no longer settle.

But as they say, sometimes when it seems things are falling apart they are really coming together.

For example, it was at the height of me hearing the word no that I began this blog.

Who would have thought hearing the word no an overwhelming number of times would have propelled me to begin a journey of finally realizing that I have to love myself?

To that I say thank God for no.

I give thanks to the word no despite the fact that there was a point when its utterance caused me to jettison myself down to rock bottom.

I felt like life was never going to get any better.

No, I take that back. I knew that life would get better, but I didn’t want to go through the process of waiting for it to get better.

I am all for the mountain top experiences but I didn’t feel like enduring the pain that it would take for me to finally reach the pinnacle.

I was like those people who try to lose 50 pounds in a month. I didn’t want to eat right and work out and lose the weight in a year or two… No I wanted success right now!

I was also making the mistake of thinking that no meant never.

There I was sulking, feeling pitiful for myself and telling my sob story to anyone who would listen to it.

I became someone I didn’t know and didn’t want to know.

I think in many ways I lost my mind.

I am glad I lost whatever it was, because I am now clearer than I have ever been in my entire life.

I can now clearly see that all that rejection was not a judgment on who I am as a person, but at the time old me couldn’t recognize that.

Old me failed to see that no one in this world can define me, but me.

I was in such a poor mental state that I thought that if I went out on a date and it wasn’t a match that it meant that I wasn’t good enough.

I failed to see the obvious – it simply meant that it wasn’t a match.

My self-esteem was in such a bad place that I didn’t know that I was supposed to be trying to see if the person was compatible with me, not if I was good enough for him.

If I went on a job interview and was declined an offer I thought it meant I wasn’t good enough for the position.

I didn’t know it meant that there was a position that was out there that would allow me to better utilize my education, skills and experience in a way that would allow me to excel and grow in a positive environment.

When people betrayed me and hurt me I thought that said something about me, I didn’t know it was a reflection of who they were.

I was unaware of the fact that I am in transition and while in transition I am simply learning who I am and who I am not. I am learning what I want and what I don’t want.

Now is not the time to give up, now is the time to push forward.

I have learned that the reason I am being told no isn’t because I am not good enough, I am being told no because I am in the preparation period of receiving what is best for me.

Hearing yes prematurely would ultimately cause me more harm than good.

I see that now. However, there was a time when hearing the word no made me feel like something was inherently wrong with me and that I would never get things right.

I thought my life was some sort of cosmic joke.

I had to get a grip on myself.

The pity party had to end.

Thankfully, I was surrounded by friends and family who were there for me and who helped me to make my way through my darkest hours.

I wish this was a blog about how I have reached my mountain top.

But the truth is that I haven’t even reached flat land.

I still am in the valley lows.

But the thing is that I am no longer in the doldrums.

I think there is a time and a place for everything and that our experiences are necessary for our ultimate expansion.

So while I don’t regret my time being stagnant, I must tell you that I celebrate the moment that something inside of me clicked and I decided to let each no empower me to keep looking.

The reason that I was in the doldrums was because I allowed myself to become paralyzed with fear.

I was in such a bad place that I let the idea of hearing no keep me from even trying.

I would sit there on my couch in fear of everything.

But some how I got off of that dat burn couch!

Now a closed-door has become a signal that I am being pointed in the right direction.

I know it seems cliché but I truly had to become thankful for closed doors.

I had to work to overcome my fear of having a door closed in my face.

There are times when I think ‘what will people think of me’.

But I have come to a place where I realize that people are going to think what they want to think and for the most part people are far too self-absorbed to give much thought about what is happening in my life.

So if I fall in front of the world and the world laughs at me, I know I will have fallen trying to climb the highest mountain and I find comfort in that.

I have yet to even come close to reaching the top of my mountain, but I won’t stop climbing.

My door hasn’t opened but I have had windows open left and right.

I know what it is to be scared.

But I have learned to make it moment by moment.

I know what it is to not know how I am going to make it or how I will have my needs met and yet those same situations caused me to learn not to live in fear because I have not lived a day with my needs unmet.

There are times when I have been afraid to have hope, because having hope always puts me at risk of being let down.

No one wants to experience the pain of disappointment.

But who was I kidding, I was already disappointed.

I had nothing to lose so I may as well have hope.

The way I see it is that if I die without fulfilling my dreams and I never see anything that I want materialize how is that much different from being negative and still not seeing it manifest?

I would rather try and fail than not try and always wonder.

Like I said I wish this was a success story blog, but I surmise that some how in many ways it is.

It is my story of how I decided that I can hear no until my dying die, but I am not going to allow that word to measure my worth.

People can continue to reject me and it’s okay because I accept me.

I accept me flaws and all.

I will continue working to improve myself.

Not because I am not good enough, but because as long as I have breath in my body I plan to continue to cultivate myself into something better than I was before.

Ultimately I am the greatest benefactor of my growth process.

So, people can continue to tell me no and that I am too much of this and not enough of that.

And I will still be here, still standing, still breathing and still mountain climbing.

If I die never having reached the top I am okay with that.

What I am not okay with is me dying without trying.

This isn’t a platitude without any substance for I can truly say that I am thankful for all the times I heard no.

It was in hearing no that I was saved from being in toxic relationships with people who did not mean me well.

It was in hearing no that I was rejected for employment positions that I thought I wanted but through redirection I was placed in the presence of amazing people who I don’t think I would have met otherwise.

I can genuinely say that those encounters were well worth the no, for the value of those encounters is priceless.

If I told you that hearing no that much was easy I would be a liar.

My truth is that I spent a lot of time on my couch as I became familiar with no.

I would think this is too hard. Nothing is working, I can’t get any traction.

I felt like a hamster on a wheel. I was doing a whole lot of moving but I wasn’t going anywhere.

I was upset because I made the mistake of thinking that those no’s meant I would never hear yes.

Also, I wanted someone to come and save me.

Ironically, I think what was most bewildering to me were the people who would come into my life and offer to help me without me asking for any assistance only for them to disappear from my life.

I would sit there confused wondering what was the point of them interrupting me just to leave?

I felt like God was mocking me.

I thought to myself, ‘I was doing just fine at making it the best I could only to have someone dangle hope in front of me for the sole purpose of snatching it away’.

But I have learned God was not mocking me.

Those people let me know that there was no one coming to save me, if I was going to make it, I was going to have to make it.

I recall at one point being so disillusioned I actually got upset at the idea that once I finally do make it that people would come into my life and want to be apart of it.

I thought ‘if you don’t want to be here when I am struggling then when I make it no new people better not show up!’.

I was mad at people who I don’t even know and who aren’t even apart of my story because they weren’t there for me when I felt like they should be. – Yep I was crazy.

And I was mad at people for not being who I wanted them to be for me.

There they were, being who they were and I was mad that they weren’t who they weren’t.

Quite frankly, I was just mad.

Thankfully, I came to my senses.

I am now at a place where I hold no ill will towards the people who promised to help but didn’t. Because truth be told they offered me a much-needed glimmer of hope.

I smile at the thought of the people who will come when I reach my mountain top because I now realize they couldn’t possibly be here for me now, because they are busy mountain climbing there own mountain.

And I forgive the people who couldn’t be who I wanted them to, because the truth is it was never their job to be anything more than who they are. I accept them for who they are and I thank them for being authentic.

I also am thankful for those people who are here with me right now while I am in my valley cheering me on.

But oddly enough I am especially thankful for the hope danglers. This is because when I reflect back it felt good having hope. They helped me to see that being hopeful made me happier than being negative, so why should I let hope go just because they walked away from the table?

This quest of mine is between me and the divine alone.

The reason that I haven’t heard yes isn’t because I am not good enough.

I haven’t heard yes because the time has not yet come.

I am not prepared for yes.

If yes came before I was ready then my dreams would surely crumble before me.

So what do I do in the meantime? – I enjoy the meantime.

Yep that’s right I enjoy the struggle.

I embrace the lessons, I learn through the tears and I trust the process.

I don’t like grief, heartache and depression, because they are painful.

But I learn far more through the hard times than I do during the good times.

Does it hurt me when my hopes are dashed? – Not like it used to.

Because now I realize that it is simply redirection and not rejection.

But you want to know what hurts more than having hopes dashed? – Being hopeless.

Truly, all these closed doors are simply helping to direct me to an understanding of what I do want and what I don’t want.

Hearing no, doesn’t mean you give up on your dream.

Hearing no, gives you redirection on how to achieve your dream.

When things fell apart for me I thought I knew what I wanted.

Now I realize that if I received what I thought I had wanted I would never have uncovered the beauty of who I am and begun to unearth my true potential.

Thank God for no. Because it was all those times I heard no that has helped me as I journey on my way up.

So don’t be afraid of no.

Love,

 

Renata Nicole

Renata Pittman Smith, Renata Nicole and RenataNicole 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided that full and clear credit is given to Renata Nicole with appropriate specific direction to the original content.