Muddy Waters

Trying to figure this thing out and how to go about it and coming up empty handed.

Feeling like I’m on the right path only to realize I have no idea where I have landed.

Looking back at the past thinking I have treaded muddy waters before and certainly came out clean.

Recognizing the present and hoping that my triumphant past will mirror my present and failure isn’t what my life will mean.

Glimpsing towards the future and imagining that things are better than they seem and this nightmare isn’t reality and simply a dream.

Thinking of the time I felt like a hamster on a wheel cause no matter how hard I ran I just couldn’t gain traction.

Then remembering how now I have noticed I’ve most certainly moved forward and it was not in vain that I gave action.

And yet here I am in muddy waters hoping it will all come out clean in the wash.

Here I am trying to calculate the damage and wondering what will be the final cost.

Will I breathe when this is over or will I expire?

I mean it feels like life or death cause the life I had before has certainly retired.

It’s something about a setback that makes you set back and think.

What am I, who am I, where am I, why am I, how am I ……

I am at the brink….

The brink of something new, something foreign, something unknown, unseen yet necessary.

Perhaps the bump in the road wasn’t sent to my by my adversary.

Maybe I called it forth knowing it was needed.

Perchance in the recesses of my soul I knew this task must be completed.

Could it be that stumbling block is the very thing I need in order to get to where I am going to?

Huh…

If I am honest had I known the valleys necessary for this journey I doubt I would really have agreed to go through.

I had to get thrown off course to be put on the right path.

I had to cry those tears and relearn how to laugh.

That collapsed ego, that frustration, that heartbreak, that loss, that grief……

Eww don’t you dare mention that grief that made me ache from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet

That grief – you know that grief that left me paralyzed….

Paralyzed in the pain that was of colossal size.

I had to hypnotize my mind, and numb the pain before I could even begin to realize….

Realize that my expansion could not come forth and I could not increase in size without what appeared to me as my demise.

My heart’s truth is that even with tears in my eyes I recognize the pain was mandatory for me to achieve my prize.

Battle fatigue from fighting in war after war.

Crying out “No, please don’t send me back to chaos no more!”.

That’s the thought echoing until a new thought forms.

In the time when they tell you, you got to fight once more.

You start crying but you realize you got arsenal in store.

So you start saying okay I’m going to make it out of here or die trying,

Cause last time I fell I spent way too much time crying.

Nah this time I’m retracing my steps and my lessons learned I’ll be applying.

Cause I ain’t spending more time than necessary to go from falling to flying.

All I know is what I know.

And I’m going to take that knowledge and from here I will go.

I will go to a place previously unknown.

Yet granted to me by past seeds I have sown.

This is my story, line by line.

Every period, apostrophe, grammatical error and broken rhyme.

Yeah them muddy waters are going to be treaded and where I’m headed I promise you I’ll come out clean destination unknown except in my dreams.

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.

Lessons Learned

I haven’t blogged in a over a month.

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Not because I don’t have anything to write about but because today is the first day that I have had both the time and the energy to sit down at the computer and share my journey.

This last month has brought a smile to my face and helped to strengthen my resolve.

I have reconnected with people from my childhood who have blessed me tremendously, I have learned new skills at work that I am proud of, I recognized some of my weaknesses and am taking steps to strengthen them.

I have gained a fresh perspective on life and it has brought me hope.

In essence I have been learning – I have been growing – and I have been expanding.

Steve Jobs said,

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will some how connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.

Well I have taken a moment to reflect back and I have been connecting the dots and I want to tell you that while I don’t have a clear picture I am thankful for each dot.

Yes even the ones that I thought were ugly, too painful, unnecessary and the ones that I spent far more time with then I care to admit.

I thank God for the dots.

This time last year I felt like giving up.

To be honest I think I did give up, but thankfully life didn’t give up on me.

It wasn’t really that I didn’t think that things would get better, it was that I didn’t feel like learning the lessons.

I didn’t want to suffer, I didn’t want to be challenged or to face adversity and I had hoped that maybe I could take a short cut.

I was certain I would make it through to the other side I just didn’t want to do the work.

In the same way that we know that if we exercise and eat right that a healthier body will meet us on the other side, I knew that if I went through the lessons life had to offer that a healthier me was waiting to be unearthed.

I simply didn’t feel like putting in the work of learning the lessons.

I didn’t want to cry, I didn’t want to feel pain, I just wanted the benefits of a healthier me.

But a healthier me required for me to lose some things.

I had to let go of that guy who didn’t mean me well.

I had to let go of those negative thought patterns and limiting beliefs.

I had to find a healthier way to deal with my emotions and stop with the emotional eating (by the way I lost 6 pounds since my last blog post).

Have I gotten to where I want to be in life?

Nope.

But I have gotten to where I am supposed to be.

I still have so much work to do but I am in a better place… a healthier place.

I am happy and at peace in a way I never saw coming.

My laugh is richer than it was before (which is no small feat because I laugh a lot!)

But I have to be honest while I knew things in my life would get better I never thought that this would be my better.

We are told to not grow weary in our well doing.

We are told to exercise our faith.

We are told to believe in ourselves and our ability to achieve greatness.

But this time last year it felt like me walking out on faith landed me right into a sink hole.

It seemed to me that I was doing right and I was treating people right and for my effort I received a box full of wrong.

I was facing challenge after challenge and setback after setback and it seemed like anytime someone would say “well, at least it can’t get any worse” – it did.

I started to believe that I was some type of a martyr. I had convinced myself that I was going through unnecessarily and that I was being unfairly punished. It didn’t occur to me that what I saw as my “failures” were actually setting me up for my greatest successes. At the time I didn’t realize that I was learning things that would help me to become my best self. It wasn’t until recently that I began to see that happen over the past two years that I thought were meant to destroy me have been my greatest blessings.

Those obstacles taught me more about faith.

I may not have the greatest faith, but my faith has increased greatly.

I have grown to respect the fact that my faith could only improve by exercising it.

Because of the adversity I have faced I have also learned not to worry as much as I used to.

And when I find myself worrying I can rest on the truth that I have a 100 percent success rate in God coming through for me.

You know…. it is easy to keep the faith when things are going well and you can see evidence that things are going to get better.

But keeping the faith when people are laughing at you and when you have no inkling of how you are going to make it through the next 24 hours takes a level of perseverance that I don’t believe most of us tap into.

Personally I felt like throwing in the towel.

I wanted to close my eyes, fall asleep and not get back up.

Not so much because I didn’t think things wouldn’t get any better.

I knew God would see me through.

No, I wanted to give up because I didn’t want to endure the pain that comes with growth.

But that pain was indeed necessary.

In two years time my pain included becoming familiar with life as a divorced mother of three teenagers, I quit my career and relocated from Alaska to the southeast part of the United States. I started a business only to have it fall through. I endured the pain of a broken heart from yet another failed relationship. I saw my finances turned upside down and faced my childhood demons along with some other gut wrenching moments.

Forget mountain high I was definitely in the world of valley low.

For a while I thought maybe life was simply trying to humble me.

Perhaps I was too prideful and too ungrateful.

In my naivete I  thought I could circumvent the lessons life was trying to teach me by showing life that I was okay with the humility.

If life was offering me blows then I would show life that I was okay with the pain in the hopes it would let up.

But despite my false humility the blows just kept on coming.

I reached a point where I had to believe God with how I was going to make it from day to day.

I am glad God did that.

It increased my faith tremendously.

It’s easy to believe things will work out when we think we know how we are going to make it.

But what about when you wake up at 8 am and don’t know how you are going to finance yourself for the next 24 hours.

I lived through that and while it wasn’t easy I believe it was necessary to help me to learn that I never have to worry about things like how I will eat for God will most certainly take care of that.

I learned that I may not always have what I want but I will always have what I need.

I also learned to trust myself and I gained a greater spirit of discernment.

Furthermore, I reached a point where I decided I don’t want to settle for poor treatment in romantic relationships and that I am not willing to settle for a relationship that lacks love, kindness, compassion, respect, appreciation and care. I hold myself to a much higher regard now.

While sadly it took me having someone treat me poorly for me to realize that emotional abuse isn’t an option for me any more it isn’t about the process it is about the outcome.

So while the encounter was painful I thank God for that relationship.

I am certain that while I probably did need a fresh dose of humility that my time in the valley was about far more than a lesson in humility. The woman I am today I didn’t know I could become.

I achieved things I didn’t think were achievable.

There are people who would look where I am at and see me as a failure but I know that the level of understanding that I possess about who I am and the love that God has for me makes me great.

I went from believing that I had to settle and not having confidence in myself to growing more secure in myself and increasing my self-worth.

I have started falling in love with me.

And as I began this love affair with myself and to increase my self-worth life started to feel smoother.

I am thankful that when I gave up on life that life didn’t give up on me.

At my lowest point I wanted to just say “that’s it, I gotta split” but life said “yes I knocked you down but it wasn’t for you to quit”.

Life wouldn’t let me give up on me!

I haven’t bounced back and I am not sure that I want to.

What I mean is I don’t think I ever want to go back to who I was.

I was a woman who didn’t believe in herself and who lacked self-confidence.

I was a people-pleaser who didn’t have any boundaries and who had a weak no.

I didn’t really love myself and settled for lower level love because I had lied to myself and convinced a larger part of myself that substandard love was the best I could achieve.

I was a mess on the inside and my life was a mess on the outside.

My health, my finances and my relationships were all suffering because I was suffering.

So no I don’t want to bounce back, I want to change course.

I have been breaking patterns of behavior that has caused me not to live life to the fullest, I have started dealing with my emotions instead of eating my pain and I began to recognize my worth and to set boundaries.

I stumble and I fall but I am getting stronger.

I see some of my flaws but I also know and am exercising strategies on how to improve them.

I am learning to be secure in my insecurities and I am at a beautiful place.

Thankfully while I went through adversity God allowed me to be surrounded by amazing friends and family.

I recognize that many of people don’t have that and that I should be extremely thankful that I was blessed with great friendships so I don’t take the blessing of those relationships lightly.

I think that life gave me those positive relationships because they were a necessary ingredient in me becoming my best self. I firmly believe that whatever it is that a person needs to fulfill their unique life purpose they have been granted.

I know that life gets hard and that there are times when it doesn’t seem to make sense but please know that it will work out for your good.

I have been told that life doesn’t happen to us but it happens for us.

That is hard to believe when a loved one dies, you lose your job and/or receive a bad medical report. But I can tell you that I have seen first hand how things come around full circle.

Sometimes we wonder why we have to go through adversity.

But I have come to learn the mountains aren’t placed in front of us to stop us in our tracks, rather they are placed there for us to strengthen our muscles while we climb them. And as we climb them we release the unnecessary baggage that is holding us back.

I am on my way to a better place and I am thankful for that.

It hurt, I cried and I felt like giving up and yet I am still standing.

It was hard and I didn’t like it but I couldn’t have gotten where I am without it.

Thank God for the trials and the tribulations.

I am still a work in progress and will be until I breathe my last breath but the Renata I am today is in a place that the Renata I was yesteryear was not prepared to step into.

If I don’t lose any weight, if I don’t get my finances back on track or find a romantic partner I have learned that those things don’t define me as a person.

I am not my position, my weight, income or marital status.

I have so much greatness that I am just realizing that I need to tap into and I am so glad that I have come to a place where I am ready to step into the fullness of who I am.

As my schedule eases up it is my intention to start back posting more regularly.

But in the meantime I hope you are able to see that life is not trying to break you, it is trying to make you. Please don’t give up on life because life hasn’t given up on you.

Stay blessed and even though they aren’t always easy learn those lessons that life is diligently trying to teach you.

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.

 

 

Going Through The Pain

 

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Photo Courtesy of Lorena Gonzalez

Two days ago I woke up with an excruciating pain over my left shoulder blade. I immediately took two Tylenol and while it did nothing to help, I managed to soldier through the day. The next day I woke up and the pain was still there only this time it came packing a bigger punch.

Like the day before the Tylenol wasn’t doing anything to numb the pain.

I decided to apply some lavender essential oils and to try some homeopathic techniques and yet I still felt no relief.

Seeing no results I reached for the Aspercreme.

And it too failed to soothe my pain.

It was so bad I couldn’t move my left arm more than a few inches without experiencing tremendous pain.

Thankfully I remembered I had some prescription pain patches and I applied them and was able to numb some of the pain.

As I was sitting there in pain I remembered some advice I received from a doctor a few years ago when I had stress knots which were causing me trouble whenever I tried to turn my neck in the direction of the pain.

The advice I received was that as much as it hurt I needed to turn towards the pain. My doctor informed me that as long as I avoided working through the pain the muscle would only get stiffer which would result in the pain becoming worse.

I took his advice and worked through the pain.

And like I did then for the past few days I have been working through some excruciating pain.

Even though it is very painful little by little I am able to move my arm further than I did the time before and it hurts less each time.

Today I woke up and the pain is still present, however I can extend my arm far more than I could yesterday.

So what is the point of me telling you about my shoulder pain?

The point is that just like physical pain you have to work your way through your emotional pain.

I have read countless articles explaining that when you have an emotional pain that it is unwise to try to numb it through unhealthy methods such as alcohol or to try to avoid it by completely distracting yourself for long lengths of time because in the end the pain will just come back with a stronger bite.

While I do practice trying not to think about things that are bothering me and alternatively thinking about positive things I also take the time out to examine my thoughts.

It is a fine balancing act.

Much like I tried to numb my physical pain I think that is okay to seek relief from emotional pain using positive methods.

However, at some point we do need to deal with it.

I call it a balancing act because we cannot completely avoid it and yet we can’t spend the entire day focusing on it.

Lately, in addition to my physical pain, I have been dealing with quite a bit of emotional pain.

I am grieving and so I have had the opportunity to ride on a roller coaster of emotions. I don’t like not feeling at peace but I respect the process.

Psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross postulated a series of emotions experienced by survivors of a loved ones death.

Further researchers have found that these emotions are also experienced by people who go through the end of a relationship, loss of health, loss of a job, loss of financial stability, miscarriage, death of a pet, loss of a dream, loss of safety, or even the selling of ones home can cause a person to experience the stages of grief.

In the pass two years I have experienced about four of those things.

And so I have become all to familiar with the stages of grief which are as follows

Denial

Anger

Bargaining

Depression

Acceptance.

I learned years ago that just because you move through the stages it doesn’t mean that you won’t circle around to a previous one and additionally they don’t necessarily happen in the order I listed above.

My latest and greatest grief trigger was the end of a relationship.

For me once I got past the initial shock (denial) I immediately slipped into anger. I moved on to bargaining then right back into anger. I considered denial then back into anger I went.

I toggled between anger and depression for quite some time.

Anger at what happened but mostly anger at myself.

I had to forgive myself.

As I have written before like most people I am my own biggest critic.

I am extremely hard on myself and often forget that I can only know what I currently know.

I forgave the other person and had yet to forgive myself.

I failed to give myself credit for the fact that I am working diligently to break bad habits and to strive towards greatness.

I will be honest I like most people don’t like dealing with pain.

And if I must endure it, I want to know how long is it going to last and when can I expect to be done with it.

Thankfully I recognized that the fact that I had gotten over similar pain before meant I could do it again.

Nevertheless, even though I don’t like it, I decided like my physical pain I had to go through it by facing it.

I wasn’t ignoring it.

I wasn’t numbing it, no I was dealing with it.

I sat there in shock and disbelief.

I yelled and screamed.

I spoke about it and cried about it.

I got depressed and cried some more.

I dealt with and am dealing with it.

Because I want to work my way through it.

When I went through my divorce a grief counselor gave me this advice that mirrored what my physician said. She said, “You have to go through the pain, not around it”.

I don’t advise anyone to dwell on their pain but I do advise you to take the time out to analyze it.

One of the ways I work through my grief process was doing the work that is made available from Byron Katie’s website.

Doing the exercise suggested by Byron Katie caused me to analyze the negative thoughts that were running through my mind and to let them go.

I have shed a lot of tears as I moved through my stages of grief but tears can be so healing.

I think sometimes we are afraid to cry because we think that if we start crying the tears will never stop flowing.

But I can assure you that they most certainly will run dry.

Like I said previously, dealing with pain is a balancing act.

For me I try to limit how much I talk about it because I recognize that after a certain point I am no longer having a healthy conversation about my pain but rather obsessing over it.

I journal about it in ink.

Why in ink?

Because then I can’t erase how I truly feel.

Sometimes we like to censor what we write. When I write in ink I am less compelled to hold back.

I read self help books and find assistance from others who have been through what I am going through as inspiration that this too shall pass.

I take the time out to numb the pain in healthy ways such as listening to classical music, taking relaxing baths, using essential oils, pampering myself, reading good books, meditating, praying, exercising, watching comedies, spending time with loved ones, cultivating healthy relationships, helping others and learning new things.

But like I said I also deal with the pain.

I am in a far healthier place today then I was before and it is because I decided to work through it.

I will not be a victim of my pain.

I forgive myself for the mistakes I have made and decided to accept myself completely.

I learned a lot and I have grown a lot and for that I am thankful.

That pain helped me to become a better person.

As much as I wanted to avoid it, now that it is here I am going to go through it and come out better on the other side.

I refuse to let anything I experience to make me bitter.

I once watched a video by Chazz Ellis where he talks about not letting your ex steal the best of you.

I think that is true not just in romantic relationships but with anything that we have lost in our past.

Don’t give the best of you to your last situation and nothing to future ones.

Learn the lesson from the last interaction or situation so the next time you can be a better version of yourself.

The lesson isn’t to never love again, never try your best again, never be nice again, never work hard again.

For me my lesson was:

Have boundaries and higher standards, trust my gut, believe I deserve the best, don’t be afraid to walk away from a relationship that doesn’t serve me out of fear that better will never come, see myself as valuable and associate with those who see me as such.

I know it seems odd but I am thankful for the person who taught me this lesson. As painful as the lesson was I learned life lessons that I am sure have catapulted me into becoming a better version of myself.

This doesn’t mean that I allow this person back into my life, but it does mean that I finally understand two qoutes in a way that I never did before.

The first is by Mark Twain –

“Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”

The second is by Mary Oliver

“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand this too, was a gift.”

I forgive the person who gave me a box full of darkness because I see the beauty in the pain.

I invite anyone who is going through grief to find a healthy avenue to work through the pain. Just remember you can’t go around it, you have to go through it. If you need professional help please take the steps to get it. And as cliché as it sounds please know this too shall pass.

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.