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.

Let’s Get Real!

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Photo Courtesy of: Carol Goolsby

Is it okay if I am vulnerable with you?

Is it okay if I get real and talk about things that are uncomfortable?

You know the sort of things that we don’t talk about because we don’t want anyone to judge us?

Oh come on you know what I mean…. the type of things that make us look less than perfect so we decide to keep it to ourselves.

Yep, I want to take the time out to publicly talk about failure. I don’t mean a past one I mean one that is currently unfolding in my life right now as I type.

It is neat listening to people talk about how they achieved greatness. Sometimes people will share their testimony and tell us the obstacles they have overcome and they really get us excited.

But what about when someone has yet to realize their dream. That person who is on the road to greatness but they have somehow found themselves standing  smack dab at the intersection of Road to Greatness and Your Past is Calling.

Not to many people want to admit that they are stumbling while they are stumbling. Sure they might talk about it once they have overcame it but who wants to publicly announce:

I am failing right now and I am not quite sure how the heck to turn this boat around?

Let’s get real who wants to list out all their failures of the jobs they didn’t get, the relationships that went south and the times they lost their temper?

No one wants to share the real ugly stuff- that dirty laundry that casts us in an unforgiving light that we don’t want anyone, not even our momma to see!

I for one don’t like telling people about my failures. It’s just some things I plan on taking to my grave. So when things are going wrong in my life I most certainly am not big on broadcasting it.

I mean why would I?

For one like everyone else I have an ego. And ego wants to be viewed only in the best light.

Uh and then some people can be brutal.

They say things like:

‘See I told you she wasn’t going to make it.’

‘Who does he think he is anyway.’

‘I knew he couldn’t do it.’

‘She ain’t special.’

‘Oh I thought you was going to make it?’

They are simply out there waiting for you to fall on your bum, who wants to give them any satisfaction?!

But here is the thing, this blog was never purposed for my detractors.

Sure they can view it but they are not why I write.

No, I write for the people who don’t realize that they are beautiful, the ones who have two pennies in their pocket and dream of owning their own company, those the world call losers, the ones who were abandoned as children and don’t know what it is to feel loved, the people who were mocked, those told they were unlovable by their lover, those who were ridiculed but have something in them that says greatness is their purpose. 

So I can’t worry about my critics.

Because I do not write for them and I do not live this life for them.

I write for those who want to have a better life and so in writing for them, I write for myself.

I have to share my truth because if not I will be foregoing an opportunity to help someone who thinks they are alone in their struggle. It doesn’t seem right to me to stay silent and allow another human being to think they are the only one.

So here it goes……

I was going along in my journey and I thought hey I am doing okay. I am making strides to a better me.

So I gave myself a pat on the back and kept on with my journey.

But as time passed I noticed that there I was feeling lonely for some of the people, places, things and situations that I thought I had gotten over.

So I phoned true friends for encouragement, listened to self-help audio, I wrote in my journal, I spoke with God, heck I even burned some incense all in an attempt to stay on track.

But I still had a part of me that wanted to go back to what was familiar.

I think this is because overcoming our brokenness is a process. We can’t go from here to there overnight. There are lessons to be learned, mistakes to be made, people to be met and obstacles to overcome.

When you have a habit of something it takes time to step away from it. You can most definitely work to consciously do something different for a while. But what about when things don’t go the way you had hoped, when you get bad news and you grow discouraged?

I have found it’s super easy to decide I am going to eat right when I’m not hungry, but when that afternoon hunger kicks in, my coworkers bring donuts to work and I have forgotten my healthy sensible meal on the kitchen counter it’s a whole new ball game.

It’s easy to exercise when you are taking a leisurely walk with friends on a nice sunny day and you are only walking a short distance. But how about hiking in the rain when your exercise buddy doesn’t show up and it’s a bit cold outside?

I hear it’s easy not to smoke a cigarette when you just finished your last one 2 minutes ago; but what about when you are stressed about work, you got an unexpected bill, your spouse is mad at you and you haven’t had a smoke all day?

It’s easy to go about being nice to everyone when they are nice to you. But what about when the cashier is rude, the flight attendant has an attitude, your coworkers lie on you, your boss berates you in front of everyone and you find out that your romantic partner is having an affair? Do you feel like being a positive ray of sunshine that day?

And it’s oh so easy not to settle for toxic relationships when you are only surrounded by healthy relationship partners. But what about when you go months with no potential relationship partners on the horizon and then you find yourself lonely? What about when you haven’t been on a date in months or in some cases years and someone comes along who you are physically attracted to and yet you see the red flags waving that this person is just like the ex you cried over and it took you forever to let go of? Or worse what about when it is the ex you let go of?

Or maybe it’s not an ex, nope it’s that platonic relationship with the person who was always making you feel bad about yourself. You were out shopping, bumped into them and now BOOM they have come back into your life and you kind of sort of miss something about them when you totally thought you were soooooooooo done with tolerating anyone who treated you less than you deserved.

Isn’t it true that we are really good about being a better person when we aren’t challenged?

I don’t think it matters if you believe it is God testing you, the devil tempting you, that you need to clean up your vibration, you are having bad luck, your a victim or even if you have no idea why you are back battling old demons. What matters is you are having to make the decision of are you going to keep doing what you know to be right or are you going to go back down the path of what you know is wrong.

For me I found myself making a poor life choice of interacting with someone who has proven to me that they don’t really care about me. I had made great strides in this area. But when the time came for me to say thank but no thanks to that bridge to nowhere I got on the bridge and went nowhere anyway.

I immediately regretted my walk to no where. Or perhaps I should say stumble.

Who am I kidding it doesn’t matter whether I walked, ran, drove, skipped, canoed, or stumbled I was definitely in Nowheresville.

I immediately regretted it.

There I was thinking wait hold up just a minute yesterday I was blogging about self love and here I am clearly not loving myself! There I was giving my time and energy to someone who I know for a fact is not my friend!

I talked to my family and friends about it and they told me that they were proud of me for having an awareness that I had a lapse of judgment.  They also gave me advice as to how to make a healthier choice in the future.

I really thought I had moved past interacting with people who didn’t love me. I was embarrassed that under the perfect storm of circumstances, I still was susceptible to engaging with people who I know don’t care about me.

Why am I sharing my failure for the entire world to read about?

Because what tends to happen is many people talk about how they stood up but they don’t want to talk about all the times they fall down.

Look if you try to achieve greatness, YOU ARE GOING TO FALL DOWN.

Not once, but MULTIPLE TIMES

You are going to relapse!

And relapse is why it is essential that you have a good network of people around you.

But understand that you can’t confide in just anyone. You don’t need to pick up the phone and call someone who you know is going to judge you and put you down as if they themselves have not fallen short in life.

And you don’t need to talk to someone who is going to say things like “it’s okay to not exercise, I never exercise” especially when you know that your dream is to have a healthier body.

Don’t text the person who is going to tell you it is okay to go back to your ex when you know that your ex was abusive.

Why ask the person you did drugs with how to forgive yourself for taking another hit when you know they are still using?

And please don’t ask advice on how to stop your gambling addiction from the very person you know you used to go to the casino with.

Get yourself a positive network of people who love you and who want you to be your best self. People who are going to hold you accountable but who are going to remind you to forgive yourself and press forward.

How do you get these people if you don’t currently have them?

You must believe that you are worthy of these type of quality relationships and you must treat yourself the way you want other people to treat you. Then people who will hold you in high esteem will be attracted to you and they will be drawn into your life.

I am thankful for those people who don’t chastise me when I make a mistake but who simultaneously hold me accountable.

And so there we have it, I made a mistake.

Yes me, the one who is always encouraging others to be there best self. I got up one day and I consciously chose to do something that I knew was not what I should be doing. And in doing so I found out a piece of old Renata was still very much alive and well.

S0 I had a decision to make.

I could either let old Renata increase and go back to the life I worked hard to escape from or I could do the work of figuring out what is broken in me that allowed me to do the things old Renata would do. I chose the latter.

I took the wise counsel of friends. I forgave myself. And I realized that I didn’t need to beat myself up because while I made a poor choice I have most certainly improved.

I am not okay with making poor life choices. And I purposed in my heart to do better.

I have written this before and I write it again because it continues to hold true:

If I tell you that I always eat healthy, I always exercise, I don’t interact with people who I know don’t value me and I always do what I believe to be what is right I would be a liar. And that isn’t why I started this blog.

I started this blog to help other people as I help myself. I wanted to encourage people to love themselves. And if I only told you about the times I succeeded I would not be giving an accurate picture of my journey. I am not here to only paint a picture of me succeeding.

For I have found it is in my failures, my hard times and those lonely times that I really hate going through that I develop the tools I need to succeed.

Do I want to fail? – No

But when I do and I own up to it I become stronger and wiser.

So here is the thing.

There is a difference between making a poor life choice with no sincere desire to do better and making a poor life choice and trying to find a way to make a better choice in the future.

My friends and family reminded me not to beat myself up and to keep pushing forward and so that is what I am going to tell you.

I made a mistake, I am human.

But guess what I am still going to keep pressing through and becoming a better me. I still have breath in my body and today is a new day. A new day for me to make a positive choice. A choice to love myself mind, body and soul.

So I implore you to love yourself enough to forgive yourself when you fall; seek the counsel of those who you know are going to point you in the right direction; acknowledge your mistakes and work to correct them; and be proud that you are aware that you can do better than the bad habits you are trying to escape!

 

Renata Nicole

© Renata Pittman, 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 and RenataNicole with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.