Representing

The kids on Haviland Drive integrated Harlan Elementary long before busing was mandated in my small hometown of Florence AL. The concept that my behavior was a reflection of my family was stressed and understood by me from a young age…and while I don’t remember a direct conversation, I somehow knew that, to my white teachers and classmates, I represented how Negro children behaved.

Pretty heavy stuff for a third-grader…

“Don’t embarrass me in front of these white folks.” ~ Black Mother Sayings

Inhale Represent, Exhale Embarrass…
Inhale Reflection, Exhale Separation…
Inhale Respect, Exhale Disgrace…
Just Breathe

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Birth

Today I am grateful for the birth that gave hope to the hopeless. In this season of birth and renewal in the midst of confusion and fear, I am praying for sufficient strength to be hopeful, effective faith to believe, and enough compassion to be loving…

“For a child has been born—for us! The gift of a son—for us!
He’ll take over the running of the world.
His names will be: Amazing Counselor, Strong God, Eternal Father,
Prince of Wholeness.
His ruling authority will grow, and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness he brings.” Isaiah 9: 6-7, MSG

Inhale Creation, Exhale Suppression…
Inhale Inclusion, Exhale Exclusion…
Inhale Compassion, Exhale Separation…
Just Breathe…

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Chemistry

In our relationships, whether business, friendship or romantic, we are often most attracted to the person with whom we share similarities.

And then we find out the hard way that the similarly dispositioned, similarly skilled, similarly talented person you’re most attracted to, may not be the best complement to who you are or what you’re trying to accomplish.

A soul mate is…someone whose way of viewing life is not necessarily the same as yours but complements yours, so that there is not a compromise, there is a complement.” ~ Paul Robear

Inhale Diversity, Exhale Sameness…
Inhale Complementary, Exhale Uniformity…
Inhale Variety, Exhale Routine…
Just Breathe

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Reflections With Renita

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In Memoriam

This weekend another young black male died violently, this time on a college campus, allegedly stabbed by a white male member of a hate group. This newly commissioned Army officer, on the precipice of a “limitless life” had sworn to “support and defend the Constitution” of his country…this America where he is hated and hunted because of the color of his skin.

And I grieve for what has been lost, for his family, his classmates and his fellow Americans who understand that America is great because of people like Richard W. Collins III.

As a United States Army Officer who gladly puts his life on the line everyday…there’s no greater conflict within me.
How do I feel about my country? And how does my country…feel about me?
Are we only to be Americans when the mood suits you?
Lawrence Fishborne as Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin O. Davis in the movie, Tuskegee Airman

Inhale Sadness, Exhale Despair…
Inhale Courage, Exhale Cynicism…
Inhale Reverence, Exhale Disregard …
Just Breathe

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Reflections With Renita

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Risk Adverse

I’ve been writing a lot about the struggles we face on the way to being who we are purposed to be…those experiences we experienced as negative when they happened that turned our lives around; the choices we made that taught us what wouldn’t work; the tremendous effort expended that didn’t turn out as expected but showed us what we were capable of.

Yet as parents, we often try to shield our children from these very experiences, which enable their development…to their and our detriment…

Children learn to navigate risks—not through discussions or TV shows—but by actually taking risks.” ~ Tim Elmore, Growing Leaders.

Inhale Risk, Exhale Suffocation…
Inhale Adversity, Exhale Suppression…
Inhale Development, Exhale Strangulation…
Just Breathe…

#JustBreathe
Reflections With Renita

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Retest

The reaction to a test is often to retreat. The business we built fails so we determine we’re not cut out for entrepreneurship. The competition won the contest so we stop training. The relationship implodes so we vow to never, EVAH, as long as we’re black to be in another relationship … oh wait…that was me!

The key to not getting stuck in the story is to realize the lesson, appreciate the knowledge gained and be intentional about not choosing that particular path again. And ask for Divine help…’cause there will be another test…

These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold.” ~ 1 Peter 1: 7 NLT

Inhale Falling, Exhale Failure…
Inhale Growth, Exhale Regression…
Inhale Clarity, Exhale Confusion…
Just Breathe

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Reflections With Renita

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Seeds

At church this weekend, it was all about seeds and growing, reaping and sowing. Even during story hour for the young and young at heart, the pastor shared a fable about seeds that face obstacles to their growth.

In the story, some of the seeds decide to postpone any attempts to grow until the obstacles disappear (they don’t). But one determined seed decides to face possible destruction and fulfill its purpose to become a palm tree with an extraordinarily strong trunk.

“What do you think happened?” the pastor asked the assembled 6, 7 and 8-year olds.

And one brave young soul answered correctly, “The obstacles made the tree grow stronger.”

That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche.

Inhale Bend, Exhale Break…
Inhale Slowed Down, Exhale Terminated…
Inhale Delayed, Exhale Defeated…
Just Breathe

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Reflections With Renita

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Forgiveness is Freedom

When I forgive, I free others and myself from past behavior, mistakes and regret. I’ve found that forgiving benefits all aspects of my life… from my relationships, and my health to my ability to focus energy on what I’m here to do.

Forgiveness removes hurt and resentment and allows me to see clearly to a much brighter future.

When you forgive you don’t change the past, you change the future.” Rev. Mark Anthony Lord

Inhale Forgiveness, Exhale Victimization…
Inhale Freedom, Exhale Blame…
Inhale Future, Exhale Past…
Just Breathe

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Reflections With Renita

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Forgiveness

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” Lewis Smedes, author of “Forgive and Forget: Healing the Hurts We Don’t Deserve”.

Forgiveness has been at the forefront of my experience over the past few weeks. And I’ve gotten really clear that being able to forgive others is about me…that I can forgive without another person doing anything…that forgiveness is freedom.

As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.” ~ Nelson Mandela

Inhale Forgiveness, Exhale Conditions…
Inhale Forgiveness, Exhale Resentment…
Inhale Forgiveness, Exhale Vengeance…
Just Breathe

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Reflections With Renita

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Experience

Experience is the best teacher…”

I’ve seen some people live this saying as if they can ONLY learn through their own experienced mistakes. And while I concede those lessons tend to be the most enduring, I wonder…isn’t is possible to learn through someone else’s experience?

But then I’m reminded that life is not necessarily supposed to be smooth all the time. The life lessons gained through good and bad experiences help us get to who we’re supposed to be.

Out of the cacophony of random suffering and chaos that can mark human life, the life artist sees or creates a symphony of meaning and order. A life of wholeness does not depend on what we experience. Wholeness depends on how we experience our lives.” ~ Desmond Tutu

Inhale Experience, Exhale Judgment…
Inhale Detachment, Exhale Judgment…
Inhale Acceptance, Exhale Judgment…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe
Reflections With Renita

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