Getting knocked down on several occasions was painful for Makini Smith.
Instead of staying on the canvas and wallowing in self-pity, she always found the courage to brush aside the hurt and get up.
Following a rough divorce five years ago, Smith resolved to overcome the emotional process that comes with separation.
“I didn’t want to be a bitter divorced woman,” the single mother of three said. “That was never an option. I had to move on for me and my beautiful children.”
A stay-at-home mother during her five-year marriage, Smith enrolled in a real estate course with the intention of becoming a part-time realtor. After the break-up with her husband, she was left with her children and some tough choices to make.
“If I took a 9-5 job, I figured that won’t work because if the kids got sick or there was a matter with them that required my immediate attention during school days, I would have to ask for time off to come home,” she said. “I needed something that offered a little bit of flexibility. I pretty well was forced to sell real estate full-time.”
Settled in her new career with top producer awards, Smith followed the advice of friends who encouraged her to share her story as a way of inspiring other young women.
Last month, the 34-year-old Durham resident launched her first book, A Walk in My Stilettos: How to Get Through the Struggle With Grace, at the Bata Shoe Museum.
“I realized that faith, courage, compassion and connections are the tools to living your best life and I wanted to share my wisdom and insights in a transparent story of overcoming adversity to achieving triumph,” said Smith, who has a passion for high-heel shoes. “This is the story of the tomboy who came out of public housing to become a valuable member of society. There were so many times that I could have quit, but I didn’t.”
Financial planner and author, Linda Proctor, wrote the foreword.
“Makini Smith bares her soul (in this book),” she said. “Her honesty about her life will impress you. This is not just another self-help book. The author is a real person and she is very much like people you know in your own family and circle of friends.”
Smith’s path to stability and success was littered with obstacles.
Raised by a single mother after her father returned to Jamaica when she was just a year old, Smith spent part of her life on Cataraqui Crescent, also known as Block 13, which is a Toronto Community Housing project in the Warden Ave. & Danforth Rd. neighbourhood.
At age 17 in Grade 11, she became pregnant and was forced to complete her last semester at Rosalie Hall, which is a resource centre for young expectant mothers.
“One of the toughest things for me was being separated from my peers in high school,” she said.
A facilitator with Sister Talk, which is a forum for young women to meet and freely discuss personal and professional issues, Smith is trying to pass on some of the lessons she learned from her mom to her three children, teenagers Shardine and Shakira Smith-Allison and their brother, Makkai Khan, who is nine-years-old.
“My mother did two jobs while I was growing up to make ends meet and support me and my two older siblings,” she said. “She’s a very strong lady and a woman of faith.”
Smith has a simple but powerful message for young women who may feel there isn’t light at the end of the tunnel.
“I have been there and I know how dark it can get,” she said. “Sometimes, life will throw you some serious curveballs. Just stay positive, be strong-minded and go after your goals.”
The book is available at Indigo, where Smith did a book signing last week, Amazon and other online bookstores.