>Going Against the Grain: My Pre-Marital Insight- Part 2

>So yesterday I was a potty-mouth and had the audacity to mention the dreaded “P” word…prenup! But let’s get past the stigma of prenuptial agreements- as the majority of the U.S. has gotten past the stigma of divorce (latest stats prove this point). I ran across the website divorcerate.org that cited, “50% percent of first marriages, 67% of second and 74% of third marriages end in divorce, according to Jennifer Baker of the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology in Springfield, Missouri.”

Now after reading those startling figures, can we get back to the topic at hand?

A prenup basically removes the money from the equation- the money you would be shelling out to lawyers who are going to rake up enough hours that they can buy one or more homes; and the money that you will be fighting to keep your spouse from feeling entitled to collect; it allows you to truly focus on what is supposed to be the most important thing in your relationship and pending marriage…the two of you! It keeps a couple who started out lovey dovey and inseparable from turning into Michael Douglass and Kathleen Turner in the 1989 movie “The War of the Roses”! It leaves one less thing to focus on or argue about.

How many of us gasped loudly at the amounts in divorce settlements where both men and women are walking away with millions of dollars? Although people always think of prenups as benefitting men, ladies, they can protect you also. How many of you worked hard to push your way up the career ladder, earned or are earning your position and title ethically, have or intend to own a home? How devastated would you be if the man you love filed for divorce and said, “oh and by the way I want half of everything you own“? Funny how things quickly go from “ours” back to “mine”. A prenup allows you to determine and designate how ‘mine’, ‘ours’, and ‘theirs’ is distributed and maintained.

Prenups aren’t for everyone- they are however my preferred tool to cut through the ‘bull’ in a relationship. I did have issues with an ex who refused to enter a prenuptial agreement with me- and the crazy thing is he made considerably more money than I did, but was insulted that I wanted a prenup. He argued that “…you’re not the type of woman who would go after my money, so why would I want a prenup to protect it? What’s mine is yours. You helped me get to where I am in my career….” Yes, he was right about the type of woman I am, just as he was right that I helped in building his career- but I still knew the realities that money somehow always becomes an issue in relationships, and I didn’t want that to be one of our issues.

Funny thing, money didn’t cause me to call off our engagement- his wandering eye and loose zipper did…but can you see how a prenup would have spared an emotional roller coaster had we married and he got busted cheating?

So are your shoulders still smashed up to your ears? Are your nostrils still flared? Are you still trying to find my email or phone number to give me a piece of your mind? I want you to think of the celebrities, public and private figures who have had or are going through ugly divorces all because they are fighting over money and property- couples fighting over custody of children and pets- then ask yourself would you want to be in their shoes?

Am I still crazy for wanting a prenup? If I am, then I embrace my craziness. Heaven forbid I ever marry and it fails, but while everyone else is stewing through a nasty divorce, I would have peace of mind as I sipped on an icy drink during a cruise- knowing that everything my husband and I agreed upon on day one was honored, and we respectfully and lovingly went our separate ways.

Just like I said in my Breaking Bread With Natasha blog the other day, “do everything in love“.

Well that’s my two cents on marriage, premarital considerations, divorce, and the dreaded “P” word. That is the end of this series. As promised, I did not subject you to a long, drawn-out analysis or reflection- and hopefully this series will spark some insightful and interesting dialogue amongst us. I look forward to your thoughts, reactions, comments, and respectful rantings!

Natasha L. Foreman

Copyright 2010. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.
paradigmlife.blogspot.com

>Say Hello to the Newest Blogger for the Younger Women’s Task Force

>Today it is official!

My first piece was posted on the official blog of the Younger Women’s Task Force Atlanta Metro Chapter (YWTF-ATL). This is the first of many, and I will be covering various topics that appeal to and affect young women ages 20-39 around the world. With your support I hope to continue blogging for the YWTF for a very long time…well until I’m no longer considered a “younger woman” by membership standards! 🙂

Support me and support this great organization. Visit the blog today and please share your thoughts, feelings, and suggestions: http://ywtfatlanta.blogspot.com/

Thank you!!!

Natasha L. Foreman

Copyright 2010. Natasha L. Foreman
paradigmlife.blogspot.com

>Going Against the Grain: My Pre-Marital Insight- Round 1

>I could possibly step on quite a few toes with this piece, but when have I ever truly been a status quo type of person? I will however spare many of you the pain and agony of a long, drawn-out analysis or reflection on love, relationships, and marriage and cut straight to the chase in this quick two-part series that will address a taboo subject that I feel brave enough to tackle. Let me see that smile!

I have watched many relationships fall apart during the dating and engagement stages and several fall apart through divorce. There are numerous reasons for these break-ups, but a great deal of issues resulted from how money and finances played a role in these relationships. Whether one half of the couple was well-off financially and the other one was living just-over-broke (and sucking the life out of their significant other’s bank account); both were well-off but one mismanaged their funds (or dictated how they would be managed); or both were broker than a bad joke and fought over how they would make a dollar out of fifteen cents- the case is that money became an issue.

I am a firm believer in prenuptial agreements (prenup). Oh gosh did I just cuss?

I know a lot of women who look at me like I just called them some scandalous names, while I also have entered some heated debates in previous relationships with men who could not fathom why I wanted a prenup before marrying them. It is simply this:

If you truly are marrying out of love, not convenience; love not status; love not desperation; love not out of default; love and not because of family and societal pressures; truly because you love and want to spend the rest of your life with this other person- then why not remove the financial aspect out of the equation upfront? One or both of you worked long and hard to attain a level of financial satisfaction and you most likely achieved this before you fell so madly in love with the person you hope to call your spouse one day. So why should this person be granted the right to take upwards of 50% of your personally-acquired wealth as their own simply because they are your husband or wife?

What if right now you don’t have a clue as to how you will pay your Internet Service Provider this month so that you can continue reading my blog posts, but you have aspirations of wealth-building- shouldn’t you consider this and the realities that the person you love today may despise you at some point during your marriage?

I’m a sappy romantic, while at the same time a true-blue realist. For me the reality is clear that if I were to ever become engaged again, I would want a prenup drafted, signed, and the ink dry before we say “I do”. I think that people don’t understand the flexibility and freedom that prenups provide. Yes, it should require lawyer-participation (so that it is legally binding) which means spending some money, but I would rather we shell out several hundred dollars upfront, than several thousands or more in divorce proceedings.

Some people think that prenups say, “you leave with nothing if we divorce”. This simply is not true. Granted, it could say that- but it can also say so much more. Your agreement can be outlined to say a number of things and address all types of scenarios such as how the two of you will handle any future children that you have together, any children that you currently parent as a couple. It can say how the two of you will handle the future acquisition and possible separation of community property; it can say almost anything.

You can have the agreement outline how you will share or maintain separate bank accounts, how you will share a pet, or who gets the pet upon dissolution of marriage. We know we have all heard of couples fighting over family pets- don’t act like you wouldn’t go off if the person you love later says, “and I’m taking Dino with me”. Do you really want the china her parents gave you as a wedding shower gift? Do you really want his golf clubs or his boat? Come on now, you don’t golf and you get motion-sickness, you only want these things out of spite!

A prenup is also an agreement that can be modified post-nuptially if the two of you see fit. Are you rolling your eyes at me right now? Am I kicking up too much dust for you to handle? Well, tomorrow let’s kick up some more as we return for part two of this two-part series!

See ya then. I look forward to your thoughts, reactions, comments, and respectful rantings!

Natasha L. Foreman

Copyright 2010. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.
paradigmlife.blogspot.com

>Sisterhood: Overcoming Stereotypes

>

Yesterday I attended a lovely brunch at Sun In My Belly in Decatur, Georgia with six other women- Black women- strong, educated, intelligent, doing-their-thing women! We meet once per month for brunch and have a blast eating, laughing, catching up, and sharing the latest happenings in our lives. Most of us met online through Twitter, and with the suggestion of my friend of 20 years, Tiffany Bolen, we agreed to meet up two months ago for our first brunch. We all met initially with a bit of hesitation. Could a group of Black women who only really interacted online through Twitter, randomly a few hours per day, actually come together and have a wonderful experience? How would our personalities mesh? Would this face-to-face put a strain on our pleasantries online?

Our first experience was incredible. It was as though we had known each other for years. We quickly came together as a group and coined ourselves the “Twitter Brunch Crew”. We’re all in our mid-20s to mid-30s, single, and enjoying life. Our ‘crew’ is made up of writers and journalists, bloggers, stylists, and entertainment and business professionals. We are women with a purpose; women on a mission to surpass our dreams in a major way; women that should not be underestimated or taken for granted. We all are passionate about our lives, our careers, and our future. We come in different heights, shapes, sizes, and shades; with different hair lengths, colors, and degrees of thickness- some straight and some curly. We all are beautiful and love the skin we’re in!

We have come together and lovingly broke a stereotype about Black women. Black women have been labeled as difficult, catty, and too self-absorbed to get along with another woman. We’re known for our eye and neck rolling, lip-smacking, and hand clapping- all signs that we’re annoyed and about to blow a ‘gasket’. People don’t see us and see the potential to come together, spend hours laughing and uplifting each other; hugging and taking pictures; planning to attend events or take trips together. 

Nope, we’re supposed to be eye-balling the next ‘sista-girl’ and saying, “hmmm and who does she think she is?” We’re supposed to be sitting back counting all the ways we’re better than the next woman. We’re supposed to be wondering if and when this ‘chick’ is going to try to get her claws into ‘our man’. We’re supposed to be over-analyzing every little thing we can discover about another sista so we can feel better about ourselves. We’re supposed to be fighting and clamoring to get past each other so we can rope one of those few eligible Black men out there. We’re supposed to be hating on each other, not sharing love and respect for our fellow sistas.   

Our Twitter Brunch Crew has shattered that Black Chick Stereotype. We welcome other drama-free, love-the-skin-you’re-in sista-girls to join us as we unite and build each other up- instead of tearing each other down. If you’re on Twitter, live in the Metro Atlanta area (or will be visiting soon) and want to join us one Saturday or Sunday for brunch- follow me: twitter.com/natashaforeman

Sistas Unite!

Natasha L. Foreman

Copyright 2010. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.
paradigmlife.blogspot.com

>Reflecting on a Past Journal Entry

>So I finished jotting in my journal/diary and I inadvertently flipped back to August 28, 2010 and noticed a beautiful "Saturday Love Note" that I received from a special friend while I was on vacation- who wanted me to know just how much he cares about me. It instantly put a smile on my face then as it did just now. Then I flipped the pages of my journal back to August 22, 2010 and saw towards the bottom of the page a reflection that I wrote on Proverbs 31:10-14 that I just had to share below:

A man may want a virtuous woman but he must be worthy, ready, open and honest to receive this gift from God; and a woman has to be honest, open and willing to humble herself for growth to evolve as a virtuous woman. It may seem easy, but when you read the entire passage it is crystal clear that there are few virtuous women in the world! That may be a lifelong goal never achieved, but worth trying 🙂

A lot has taken place in my life since those August 22nd and 28th journal entries- but my viewpoint in that reflection is still the same and I truly believe it will always remain. I embrace the journey!

Natasha L. Foreman

Copyright 2010. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.
paradigmlife.blogspot.com

>Banking on Our Future: Taking Back Our Schools and Community

>Today I visited a middle school in Atlanta, Georgia to share a lesson on financial literacy with a group of young ladies, grades 6-8, who meet with me for roughly one hour during their art class. This is my third visit to this particular class. I visit their school as a HOPE Corp Volunteer through the Operation HOPE (HOPE) Banking on Our Future (BOOF) program. After my last visit next week, I will be returning independent of HOPE to continue reinforcing the principles and skills I have shared with them the past few weeks. I also intend to share other valuable lessons and skills that I truly believe these students need to know in order to survive and thrive in this gigantic, constantly-changing world.

When I see them I see young African-American girls who are faced with challenges of fitting in and being a part of the status quo, or stepping out and bringing about the change they want to see in their lives and in their community. I see young girls who could thrive in their studies and excel in life as leaders and change agents, but some of them would rather settle for mediocrity because they assume that is what is expected of them. Some of them have bought into the lies and imagery they see on the news, in movies and music videos; and what they hear in songs. Some of them only see what is around them, but do not take the time to dream for what could be beyond. Some look at their family situation and are content with that also being their future. Some have seen a cyclical pattern of behavior that sucks the life and hope out of people- and they don't conceive of how they can break the cycle. Some have bought the lie that they are not as smart and gifted as the average student. There are a few who have bought the label of being "special needs" and are content not pushing beyond this negative threshold.

Then there are the ones whose eyes still shine, who clearly dream big dreams, who want for more, who see a life in college and outside the boundaries of a neighborhood plagued by lack of hope and faith. These girls are more than the stereotypical pretty girl 'eye-candy' most would claim them to be; they are gifted and intelligent. Some of these girls are clear that their 'now' will be their 'past' because they have goals and aspirations of becoming educated career-women. There are a few girls in this class who are dreamers, but they are nervous to speak up and speak out in fear of being teased and criticized. They are the silent wells of hope, that believe that their dreams can come true but it is safer to work towards their goals silently than sharing outwardly. These young ladies smile through their eyes even in pain.

All of these young ladies are our future. Not to be forgotten. Not to be statistically categorized as 'beyond reach'. Not to be discounted as merely future booty-popping, sexually driven females who will amount to nothing except recipients of state-assistance, pole-swinging strippers, or guests on the Maury Povich or Jerry Springer shows. These girls told me today that they aspired to become pediatricians, chefs, and teachers- they have the potential to reach their career goals- they have the potential to afford to write the mock $10k checks they wrote today in class. They have the potential to live a life far-better than the one they have today. They have the potential to learn the lessons their elders were not taught, so they can have superior credit, own a home, own their car, travel the world, and enjoy the fruits of their labor.

We need to take back our schools and our communities. We need to stand up, speak up and speak out. We need to create a flow of communication between the state, neighborhoods, school districts, administrators, teachers, parents, and the students. Everyone must work to develop a system that works. Without total buy-in from these stakeholders, the system will fail and our country will suffer an unimaginable fate. We need to stop talking about it and start doing something. Parents, teachers, and administrators have to come together in order to effectively communicate what is needed and required for our youth to succeed both in and outside of school. We need more mentors coming to the schools, speaking to the students, working with the school personnel and the families of the students.

We need parents to be more engaged in the learning process, not just when they want to come to the school for a confrontation with a teacher or administrator. We need parents to take the time to ask, see, and know what is going on with their children in school and in the neighborhood. We need parents to ask for help when they need it; help with tutoring their children; help with showing their children a buffet of positive role models to learn from and aspire to become. If you are a single parent and your work schedule is hectic- ask for help to effectively connect with your child and their teacher(s). Parents need to stop relying on teachers to handle all of the teaching and disciplining of their children. What is taught in school is to be reinforced in the home. What is taught in the home should be a positive example displayed and expressed at school.

Teachers need to re-engage and reconnect, not waiting until a child has reached a failing grade- but showing care and concern once that child falls below a "B". Teachers need to take the time to reach out and talk to the students who clearly need more positive reinforcement. If you know that the vast majority of your students come from home environments filled with negative images and influences, why would you perpetuate this same negativity in the classroom? If these children are living in environments of fear, hopelessness, and diminishing faith- why would you not want to create and maintain an environment where they can feel safe and loved?

So many schools have signs around their campuses claiming a 'commitment to excellence', yet mediocrity is the norm. We have upset, frustrated, and disconnected parents who yell at upset, frustrated, and disconnected administrators- who then yell at upset, frustrated and disconnected teachers- who walk into their classrooms and yell at upset, frustrated, and disconnected students- who only model the behavior of their upset, frustrated and disconnected parents. The cycle of behavior won't stop until we stop it; until we stop passing the buck and blaming everyone else for our problems.

Historically the undervalued, underserved, underrepresented has always banded together to bring themselves out of the depths of darkness. In the 1950s we fought for our children's equal education rights. In the 1960s and 1970s we raised our standards even higher for teaching and education. Even in the early-to-mid-1980s our children knew that all eyes were on them; the administrators, teachers, the neighborhood, and the parents were all on the same page- and our children knew to walk the straight line.

Where did we go wrong? When did we stop caring? When did our vision of role models shift from the intelligent, courageous, and driven change agents- to the hard-core, lazy, thugs and 'barbies'? When did we go from working towards self-empowerment to self-entitlement? What are you doing to take back your community? Stop making excuses and start doing something. NOW! It takes a village to raise a child- we must reunite our village. We have to be the change we want to see!

Natasha L. Foreman

Copyright 2010. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.
paradigmlife.blogspot.com