>Peace Be Still: Dealing With Belligerent People 11.30.10

>Just a few minutes ago I was leaving my mother's home and as I drove out of her sub-division of her neighborhood, I turned on my signal and waited at the stop sign. I saw two cars approaching in the rain about 75 meters (or more) away. I exited and carefully maneuvered around a small pothole and as I did one of the drivers- who was obviously speeding well beyond the 35 mph limit- was immediately near the bumper of my car, swerving and honking the horn. I looked at my speedometer and after a few feet I was already going faster than the speed limit. I looked in my rear-view mirror and the driver was swerving in the lane next to me, and then veered back into my lane. Why was this other driver speeding, especially in the rain? I said aloud as though I was speaking to the driver, "why are you driving so fast?"

I quickly prayed for patience. I continued driving and kept my cool through the twists and turns of the street while this driver turned on their high beams and continued tailgating me. I was getting a little irritated but I continued driving calmly as I focused on driving and keeping a safe cushion between my car and the driver's. Eventually when I could safely pull over I decided to do so to give this irate and obviously rushed driver the space to go around me and continue on their way. But instead of going around me the driver pulled over behind me and then enraged, quickly pulled next to my car almost causing the car that followed us to crash into the driver. I looked out my window and there was another woman staring back at me yelling. I said to myself, "peace be still" and then rolled down my window. I looked at this woman as she punched her right fist into her left hand and began to yell, "I just want to know…I just want to know…." What she wanted to know was why I hadn't waited for her to zoom past me. I told her that I had ample room to enter the street, but I hadn't gauged how fast she was truly driving.

I am an excellent driver and I can accurately gauge the distance and speed of my car and others. I also have superior peripheral vision. I know that I can be a "speed demon" but I also know that in harsh weather conditions you should not push the limits of your car. In harsh weather conditions you should not risk speeding and making quick and sharp turns. I factored in the rain and that it was overcast before I entered the street. I factored in that the driver was about 75 meters away from my car, and that the car that followed them was at least one car-length behind. I factored in that this is a dangerous street and that the majority of the residents on that street have to know this fact.

What I had not gauged was that she was speeding well beyond 40 mph; not originally- but only once I entered the street and out of frustration she accelerated. What I had not factored in was that although it was raining there would be a driver willing to risk driving upwards of 15 mph over the posted 35 mph limit on a very narrow and unpredictable winding road; a location of numerous accidents. What I had not factored in was that although she saw me enter the slick street, that she would not slow down- instead she would accelerate. I had not considered that she would not even slow down for the obvious potholes in the street- regardless if I had been there. I had not considered that although the city had placed speed limit monitoring signs on the street to alert speeding drivers that they were far-exceeding the posted speed limit- that someone would ignore these signs even in a heavy rain.

I did not say all of this to her though because after I apologized I realized that she wasn't willing to accept my apology- she wanted to argue; she wanted to yell. I wanted to get home to eat my natural-cut french fries that I had just purchased from Wendy's. She wanted to continue engaging me in her inquiry and hopefully upset me. I wanted to get out of the rain and out of my four-inch heels and my suit. So I didn't fall into the trap. I didn't tell her that she was speeding and driving faster than what would be considered safe. I didn't tell her that there have been too many accidents on this narrow street and that she should know better. When she asked me why did I risk her life, I didn't respond by asking her why did she risk my life, her life, and the life of the driver that followed at a safe distance behind her. I didn't ask her why her anger almost caused the other driver to hit her car when she swerved to confront me.

I could tell that she had a bad day and that she was already angry long before she encountered me. If she had children and or a husband- she was already intent on ruining their day also when she got home. I looked at her car and saw the huge dents from prior accidents alongside and in the front of her car- and I told myself that she is an accident-magnet and probably leaves everyday expecting to get into one.

I took a slow, deep breath and looked this woman in her eyes and remained calm. I repeated a few times that I had apologized, and then I extended my apologies once more. Then I sat there and continued making eye contact as the rain trickled into my car and on my clothes. My calmness upset her even more. Frustrated that she could not get the reaction she expected from me, she tried to drive off but her car was in park. She yelled out as she rolled up her window and slammed on the gas. Her wheels spun wildly and her car slid back onto the street. I turned on my signal (as I always do when leaving from a parked position) and re-entered the street and followed behind her car amazed at how I kept my cool and did not sink to her level. She turned left onto her street and I kept driving home.

There was a time when I would have engaged in a shouting match with her, I would have out-yelled her, and made her day worse than it was. At that point we both would have had a bad day, and her family would have been miserable. This won't be her last time flipping out on someone, losing control, and having road rage. This won't be my last encounter with someone like her- but I hope that I handle the situation as well or better than I did today. We must control our emotions. We must 'check' ourselves. When faced with chaos we must say silently or aloud, "peace be still" so that we can control our sea of emotions.

Natasha L. Foreman

Copyright 2010. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

>Natasha’s Thought of the Day 11.21.10


We hold on to things and people because we’re afraid to be alone, to go without- or to be seen as a failure and fraud. We hold on because it feels so good even when we’re in pain. We’re closet masochists. We don’t realize that if it’s meant for us then it will always be there. If it was meant for you to have then you will have it- and there will be no pain or drama associated with it- and there will be no doubt. If what you have or want is meant for you then it will be made clear without having to read between the lines, jump through hoops, or ride on any emotional roller coasters.

But when the signs are clear that we must let go and walk away- we must comply or face greater heartache. It truly is that simple- we just choose not to see and believe it. What is- simply is and what will be, will be! The goal is to learn our lessons quickly so that we can continue on our great journey, and experience what life has to offer. When we linger, when we fear change and fear letting go we become enslaved to a life of darkness, chaos, and pain. We also prevent something better and greater from entering our lives. True freedom is letting go. What’s yours is yours and no one can take that from you. You have the key to your shackles. Free yourself!

– Natasha L. Foreman

Copyright 2010. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

>Love Leadership- THIS is the Book You Should Be Reading Now!


If you do not own John Hope Bryant's best-selling book, Love Leadership: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World- then you are seriously missing out on a gem! I own the hardcover and the ebook. It is a leadership masterpiece for any person who wants to stop living and leading their lives in fear- regardless if you are a leader in your home, religious institution, workplace, or community- this book opens your eyes to a new way to lead and to love. I wrote a detailed review about this book earlier this year, but I don't want anyone sleeping on this great work written by a great friend.

So just like I said several months ago, go get your copy today- and buy one for a friend!

>I’ve Donated and Now I’m Walking to Support St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital November 20th- Join me!

On Saturday, November 20th I am participating in the Give thanks. Walk., benefiting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital®. As I walk, I have challenged myself to raise money to support the lifesaving work done at St. Jude and I am asking for your support to help me reach my goal. My goal is a mere $250, so whatever you can give to help reach that goal will greatly be appreciated. I started things off with a $25.00 donation and will of course be fighting my natural inclination to want to sleep in and those Atlanta, Georgia elements at 7:30am.

You can help me reach my goal by visiting my personal fundraising page and making an online donation. If you do not wish to make an online donation but prefer to use a check, please let me know and I can make other arrangements with you to obtain your donation. If you just don’t have $10 or more to spare, why don’t you consider joining me Saturday to walk 3 laps around Zoo Atlanta. You can even bring the kiddies…that would be really special. I don’t have children, but if I did and when I do, I would want to know that St. Jude’s is well-equipped with whatever resources they need to help my child live a longer, fuller, healthier life.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, founded by the late entertainer Danny Thomas, is one of the world’s premier centers for the research and treatment of pediatric cancer and other catastrophic childhood diseases.  St. Jude is the first and only pediatric cancer center to be designated as a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute.  Children from all 50 states and from around the world have come through the doors of St. Jude for treatment, and thousands more around the world have benefited from the research conducted at St. Jude — research that is shared freely with the global medical community.  St. Jude is the only pediatric cancer research center where families never pay for treatments that are not covered by insurance.  No child is denied treatment because of a family’s ability to pay. To learn more about St. Jude, visit http://www.stjude.org

I hope you find it in your heart to give back, to pay it forward to help our children.

Warmest wishes,

Natasha L. Foreman


>Global Dignity Day in Atlanta

>Global Dignity Day in Atlanta
By Natasha L. Foreman

October 20th Global Dignity Day was celebrated, embraced, and shared around the world in 50 countries including here in the United States. I volunteered to speak with Ms. Crawford's 8th grade class at John F. Kennedy Middle School in Atlanta, Georgia through Operation HOPE's Banking on Our Future (BOOF) program. I was there not just as a volunteer, but as a human being seeking out other human beings so that we could work together to heal our world from the plague of fear. We say that the children are our future, but we rarely go to them to see and ask how we can help them make the future bright. I was partnered that day with a wonderful woman, Mrs. Carol Quiller who has a background in accounting and works for the Internal Revenue Service. We spoke with the students about dignity, Global Dignity Day, financial literacy, and being financially responsible so that they could lead dignified lives.

Ask a child what 'dignity' means to them, and after a few prompts the answers will flow from them like a stream. You can ask the same of adults and some may ponder a moment because they are 'thinking', and formalizing their thoughts; while the child is merely feeling. A student in grades 4-12 is experiencing a flood of rapid changes on a regular basis. They have been thrust into an environment that changes faster than the seasons. As they attempt to find comfort in their own body, they also seek the approval and acceptance of their peers, and the guidance and protection of their teachers. This is an easier feat to accomplish for the student who clearly has etched out their position in the 'popular' crowd. This is not so easy for the student who blends in to the background so much so that they almost seem invisible.

There is a hunger in the eyes of the child who has grown to realize that they have considerably less than others, that they are economically 'poor', and that others know this to be truth. These children want more not only for self, but for their families. They desire to climb above their piles of poverty and the shame others try to place on their shoulders. They want to live the life of a person with dignity. They want to walk with their heads up, back straight, and shoulders tall with honor and self-respect. They want others to treat them with the respect that they deserve, or as one student in Ms. Crawford's classroom said, "I want to be treated like a human being. I bleed and have feelings just like everyone else."

Ms. Crawford's students shared not only what the principle of dignity means to them, but they acknowledged times when they were not being dignified, and ways in which they can do right by doing good. They excitedly shared the names of loved ones, teachers, mentors, and public figures who they believe walk upright in dignity. To see the 'light bulb' turn on when I shared with them various examples of how we can slowly peel away the layers of a person, leaving them without a sense of dignity- they could clearly empathize. Some even shared stories about how they felt when they were teased or picked on, as well as how they felt after teasing or bullying another student. They identified with the homeless person on the street, because some of them have experienced either first or secondhand what it is like to not have a home all your own. They could empathize with not having the latest in clothing, accessories, and gadgets. They know how it feels to be stared at, to hear the smirks and comments, and to feel alone.

When I quoted Operation HOPE's Founder, Chairman, and CEO, John Hope Bryant as saying, "Hurt people, hurt people" a few of the students admitted that they have hurt others in the past simply because they were in pain and they knew they could. Ms. Crawford's class could also identify with the qualities of an effective, positive leader, and came to grips with the fact that gossip and rumors are a surefire way of leading a life as a mere follower of fear, not a leader of hope and dignity. Their ability to synthesize their thoughts and feelings, and understand why they and others do what they do was impressive. Adults could learn a lot by sitting in a classroom for a couple of hours. They could also learn how we as role models either provide a negative example or a positive one, we are either showing these children the right path to take or the one that will lead them to prison or the grave.

This is also a class of financially literate young adults. Some have savings accounts, and most have found positive ways to ask their family for money, or earn it through babysitting, mowing the lawn, and doing chores. The majority of the class raised their hands when asked if they planned to attend a college or university. One student said that her goal was to attend UCLA. They are a very focused and goal-oriented group of 12-14 year olds, some even understanding the various financial aid options that would pay for the college education, such as grants, scholarships and student loans. They also were confident in their abilities to supplement these options with their incomes derived from working part-time and full-time jobs in college.

The entire class understood the difference between wants and needs, and quickly grasped the trappings of predatory lending. It did not take Mrs. Quiller five minutes to explain to them how to read, comprehend and calculate interest rates before they could see how much consumers were losing on high interest payments to payday loan centers, check cashing facilities, and some credit cards who market to those with poor credit. One student raised his hand and said, "I could end up paying back the payday loan place my whole paycheck when you add the interest in there, how would I pay my monthly bills?", and another student said, "I'm gonna focus on being a cash man, spending what I have, and not what I hope to have. If I don't have it then I don't need it."

I love working with children, I love to see their "a-ha" moments when something I have taught them 'clicks'. Over the years I have found myself growing an even deeper connection with children who don't fit the 'mold'. Those students of meager means, those who are labeled 'average' or 'below-average', the odd-balls, the ones who adults would rather medicate than counsel, and the ones who are highly unlikely to be voted "most popular", "most attractive", or "most likely to succeed". I grew up one of the popular girls in school, but unlike the stereotypical image we associate with a person from this crowd, I was and still am accepting of all people no matter their socio-economic background, the color of their skin, their gender, religion, or sexual orientation. To me we are all a part of a huge extended family, and we can all learn from each other. No matter how much money you earn, how you look or what you think about me, you are my brothers and sisters. I believe that this is what made me popular and so well liked, more so than my looks, intelligence and athleticism, it was that I embraced everyone.

What I noticed growing up was that those who did not 'fit in' were ostracized and cast away to sit with the other 'undesirables'. So I did the unthinkable and invited them to hang with me and my group of friends whenever they wanted. It is amazing how you can break the mold of the status quo when you choose to lead and do the right thing, even when the masses are doing something else. Ms. Crawford's students want to go against the grain, they want to shift the global paradigms that dictate to the world, and they want to do right even when doing wrong is easier. These students want to be accepting of others, because they know how it feels not to be accepted. They are willing to go the opposite way of the crowd because they want to be leaders of dignity, not followers of fear. They want all mankind to live the life they were born to live, with inalienable rights- that can never truly be taken away. These students have added one more layer of hope in my heart. They are like sheep in the pasture just waiting to be led the correct way.

I ask my peers, my fellow adults, to take one hour out of your day even if it's only once a month and go speak to a group of children in your community, at your church, or at a nearby school. You will be amazed at what you learn in that short period of time, and how great you will feel during and after that brief exchange. I want to thank Operation HOPE for providing me with the opportunity to speak about dignity, financial literacy, and shifting our global paradigm. I would also like to send a big thank you to the co-founders of the Dignity Project we call Global Dignity Day, Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, John Hope Bryant, and Professor Pekka Himanen. One child at a time, one person at a time…dignity for all!

– Natasha L. Foreman
October 28, 2010

First submitted to and published by Operation HOPE for Global Dignity Day

Copyright 2010. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.