>Natasha’s Motivational/Spiritual Thought of the Day for 1.20.11

>Last night I attended church at Destiny Metropolitan Worship Church and the Pastor, Bryan E. Crute shared some incredible words that stayed with me that I want to share with all of you. Regardless of your religious beliefs, what he shared can be very relevant in both your personal and professional lives. I paraphrased some of his thoughts below. Enjoy!

….Don’t try to manipulate God’s blessings to get what you want or what you think He has planned for you. Don’t compare yourself to other people, thinking that they are beyond where you are.

Don’t get involved in a contest with someone else.

Don’t get jealous of those you think are more evolved and successful than you, going farther than you think you are- God has a plan for you He hasn’t walked away from it or you- just stay focused on doing what you’re doing (what you’re supposed to do).

What God has for you is for YOU!

Wow…is that not a deep message? No matter if you believe in God, a higher being, a creator, or not…can’t we all agree that in life we need to be focused and centered on our game plan and not what someone else appears to have- or appears to be doing compared to us and our lives? Everything in life is relative- you think their grass is greener but what if they are thinking the same thing about your ‘yard’? Let’s focus on tending to our own ‘yards’ and not concern ourselves with anyone else’s property, purpose, or progress.

Natasha L. Foreman, MBA

Copyright 2011. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.
paradigmlife.blogspot.com

>Natasha’s Spiritual Thought of the Day 1.14.11

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On the 8th I wrote a message for my Breaking Bread with Natasha blog reflecting on the scripture from 1 Corinthians 13:13. My aunt Valerie (aka “Princess”) wrote such a beautiful, powerful, and moving note to me that I just had to share it with everyone on that blog as well as my Paradigm Life blog; of course with her permission. I look forward to hearing your thoughts. Remember my rules on this blog: Please post uplifting and encouraging words here. Refrain from advertising, promoting, or recruiting. Let us find ways to unite rather than fight!

Now let’s begin:

Valerie’s Reflection 1.9.11

There are so many benefits received from knowing God’s love.  God’s love is true.  A forgiving power filled with mercy and grace.  Its power gives us strength when we need to be fulfilled, sustained and motivated. It is impossible to imagine where I might be without God and his amazing love.  I know he loves me and I want to please him.  I have struggled with so much fear, fear to be me, fear to venture out into the sea of possibilities. I know God has a plan for our lives.  Plans to prosper us, to do good and not to harm us. I also know that no weapon formed against us shall proper.

 

So, I say to myself and to you, let’s please God.  Let’s please God by believing his love is the greatest force on earth; greater than any pain we will endure and definitely greater than fear that will never captivate us.  Shalom!

 

Love you,

Princess

 

 

 

Copyright 2011. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

paradigmlife.blogspot.com

>My Proposal for the California State Budget: Let’s See if I Met Your Expectations

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Yesterday I shared with you the Los Angeles Times interactive proposal that allows you to examine the current state budget for California, the designated areas to be considered for increases, cuts, elimination, and taxation, and then it gives you the chance to create your own proposal. After breaking down each category, sharing with you the options, and giving you the opportunity to research further and make sound decisions, I allowed your mind to consider what I would propose. 
How many of you think that I created a greater deficit? How many of you think I left the budget alone and considered it reasonable? How many of you think that I reduced the deficit slightly but not enough to experience a significant impact? Which of you believe that I created a surplus for the state?
Let me just say that I was surprised by the results. Balancing the budget is not as easy as one would think. I wouldn’t want the responsibility of taking care of the state budget. I tip my hat to those in position who have this daunting task.
So here’s what happened when I started working the numbers and trying to figure out the best solution for California’s huge deficit:
 Here’s my pie-chart. Do you notice any differences than the current numbers and percentages for California?


I actually created a surplus of $269,950,000
  • I maintained the current funding level for K-12 education which increased the deficit to $30.2 billion. Our children and our nation cannot afford budget cuts. Period.
  • I cut health and social services by $970,650,000 (reducing welfare services by $966 million and $4.65 million in drug and alcohol programs)
  • I refused to cut anything for colleges and universities- students and faculty have suffered too much too long, and closing campuses in my opinion makes us less competitive in this global economy.
  • I cut $932,000,000 in public safety (cutting $816 million by releasing some prisoners, making the $106 million cut for illegal immigrant prisoners, and $10 million towards the COPS program)
  • I cut $27.3 million in the ‘Other’ category (all by cutting the state legislature’s budget slightly…by $27.3 million)
  • I increased taxes by $28,540,000,000
    • Raising the gas tax to a little over $0.25 (an impact of $4.8 billion)
    • I continued the temporary tax hikes (an impact of $9.4 billion)
    • I raised the alcohol tax to $0.30 per drink (an impact of $4.3 billion)
    • I raised the vehicle license fee back to where it was (impact = $4.3 billion)
    • I taxed cigarette smokers again. This time by $3.00 per pack. I’m helping smokers and victims of second-hand smoke. Come on let’s work together to live longer, healthier lives. Sorry tobacco companies! (total impact is $2.028 billion)
    • I hiked up taxes again for high-income earners. 10% increase for those earning more than $300k annually, and 11% for $600k per year earners. (total impact is $1.8 billion). Let me apologize to my friends and family members who fall into this category. 
    • I imposed a 9.9% oil severance tax on crude oil pumped from California land. (impact is $1.5 billion)
    • I didn’t repeal the business tax break that allows businesses to determine their business tax formula annually. 
    • I didn’t tax Social Security Income
    • I installed 500 automated speeding cameras throughout California (impact is $412 million). This one was kind of an “iffy” situation because I have seen plenty of accidents caused by the flashing speeding cameras- but then again, if people weren’t speeding; running lights; failing to yield to oncoming traffic; resisting being the culprit in a hit-and-run; or doing the “California Roll” where a driver yields but never truly stops (they perform more of a “roll” with their wheels)- then maybe more accidents could be avoided. 

Total it up and it’s a surplus of $269,950,000! Pretty impressive don’t you think? Also quite scary to imagine, because you won’t truly know the impact of your decisions until long after you made them. Some things seem like common sense decisions- make them quick, fast and in a hurry. While other decisions took a great deal of pondering and contemplation. I had to ask myself how and who does this impact, and by what extent does one group of people feel the impact more than others? There was no way I was going to negatively impact our youth, students and schools, the elderly, the blind, and the disabled. But it all still required a balancing act…doing right and doing good for individuals while also trying to do the same for the collective state. What a task! 

To see it all mapped out check out my proposal below (hopefully it will still reflect my numbers from yesterday)
You can also compare the current budget (check out the budget overview), my proposed budget, and your proposed budget to Governor Brown’s proposal and see how they differ and favor. This exercise should help you to appreciate the big business of government, running a state, and the process of balancing a gigantic budget such as California’s. 

Maybe we will stop throwing around our insults and our, “I’d do this…” comments so freely…just maybe!


Natasha L. Foreman, MBA


Copyright 2011. Natasha L. Foreman. Some Rights Reserved.
paradigmlife.blogspot.com
All charts, facts, figures, and statistics were provided by the Los Angeles Times and its reporters and researchers, as taken from: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/budget/

>Try Eliminating California’s State Budget Deficit: It’s Not as Easy as it Seems

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California is in the red and when you combine the balance of this fiscal year with next year’s the amount is a staggering $28 billion. If you want to understand the depth of what this really means consider this: California’s budget shortfall is the equivalent to the total general fund budget of Delaware, Maine, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, Rhode Island, and West Virginia combined. That is humongous! 


The current budget is broken down to include K-12 Education, Health and Social Services, Colleges and Universities, Public Safety, and Other- which covers the majority of state government functions like the state parks, court systems, department of motor vehicles (DMV), and other services.



The Los Angeles Times created an interactive model that allows you to make necessary cuts and tax increases to reduce the deficit, and quite possibly create a surplus. They included a range of options to choose from which includes proposals made by both Democratic and Republican lawmakers. So let’s look at the current budget breakdown and then consider the proposal I recommended. Finally, you can give it a whirl and see how you fair, and then compare all three proposals to that of Governor Jerry Brown. Trust me it is not as easy as it seems. Every cut and tax increase affects someone- especially YOU, if you are a California resident or business. Lives are impacted by the decisions you make. That is a great deal of pressure to carry.


The Current Budget
K-12 Education: 39.8% ($36.1 billion)
Health and Social Services: 29% ($26.3 billion)
Colleges and Universities: 12.7% ($11.5 billion)
Public Safety: 9.8% ($8.9 billion)
Other: 8.8% ($8.0 billion)


K-12 Education

When you look at the numbers you may think, “wow well at least education, and health and social services are taking the majority of the budget- that’s good news,” but what you may not know is that the educational system both on the K-12 and college/university levels are heavily strained. The voter-approved constitutional guarantee for K-12 schools has an estimated 40% earmark, but this percentage has dropped considerably because tax collections has plummeted. Basically, there’s no balance in this balancing act. 


Spending per pupil is now the lowest in the nation, with California spending a mere $8,700 per student during the 2008-2009 school year. To make matters worse the state lost $2.2 billion of federal funding that went to schools- so the question posed is how much of the state’s limited revenues should go to schools considering the impact it has on our children and teachers?



If you maintain the current level for funding then the deficit increases to $30.2 billion. If you provide minimal funding then there is no impact on the deficit and the minimum level guarantee of $28 billion is earmarked for schools as usual. However, you can also consider cutting the spending that would go to each child, and reduce the deficit by $24.3 billion. So what do you do?


Colleges and Universities

I remember when I was in undergrad at California State University, Long Beach (Long Beach State) in the 1990s. I also took classes at various local community colleges and just like the other students I was feeling the pressure of tuition increases- the same tuition increases we were told wouldn’t occur anytime during our tutelage. Since then the state-paid costs earmarked for the UC system has dropped significantly from 78% in 1990 down to 48% currently. Cal State enrollment has dropped considerably, and both UC and Cal State systems have seen their faculty face furloughs. But this has not meant a reduced or steady level of student fees- to the contrary- they have more than tripled.



Now although California still has the lowest per unit fee for their community college students in the nation- at $26- with the closing of many campuses throughout the state, there is a reduction in class offerings. This means that although California students are paying less to attend community colleges they now have less options for classes to take than several years ago. Do you see the catch-22? So where would you make budget cuts? What programs, grants, and services would you eliminate? Would you cut funding to the UC or Cal State systems, or to the community colleges? If so, which and by how much? Would you eliminate existing or new CalGrants, or both? Would you close some or all of the 110 community college campuses that have served as the traditional gateway into the Cal State and UC Systems?


Now let’s look at Health and Social Services

The current budget allocates $26.3 billion. Let’s look closely at how that is broken down. It covers welfare; in-home services to the elderly, blind, and disabled; child care services for 55,000 children of working parents in the welfare-to-work program; Medi-Cal services; Medi-Cal services for legal immigrants; grants to the elderly and poor; and drug and alcohol programs. The proposals for health and social services would require you to make cuts or place limits on spending. Someone is going to go with less or completely without. So who should it be, and if you are making budget cuts, then by how much?


Public Safety

When we think of public safety we become instantly focused on our own safety and well being, we consider our homes and families and think of driving without fear of carjacking. We think of the bad guy being locked up in jail or prison, and a safe environment with hopes of some type of utopia. But let’s face reality…safety costs big money. Want to see the budget breakdown for public safety and the considerations that impact the state deficit? Let’s go…



The fastest growing area in the state budget is allocated towards the state’s prisons which are due in large part to the overcrowding in prison thanks to the 3-Strikes law, Proposition 9, and other statutes that keep inmates incarcerated longer, or for a lifetime. Each year California spends an average of $51,000 per inmate (that’s more than some people’s annual salary). The state holds 170,000 inmates. By releasing 40,000 of them the state would reduce its cost by more than $2 billion. Now they aren’t talking about releasing serial killers, rapists, and other hardened criminals. 


Think about Joe who stole a steak at age 18, committed some other silly crime at 21, and then at 23 he did something else trivial- like steal a car radio out of a police cruiser- that falls under the 3-strikes law that locks him up for life…do you think the citizens of California could survive with Joe on the streets? Possibly- he potentially has not grown into a hardened criminal in the several years he has served so far.



Now consider the reduction in costs for successfully sending illegal immigrants who are incarcerated back to their home countries. California failed at doing this before, but if they were able to push this transition it would save California $106 million. These are just two of the four considerations of cuts to ponder. Prison rehabilitation and eliminating up to $100 million of the Citizen’s Option for Public Safety Program (COPS) are the other two options to consider. Do you make cuts or leave the budget as-is because safety is one of your biggest concerns? Are you noticing how difficult this process truly is or do you think this is still easy as punch?


Other

As I mentioned earlier, this category is designated for the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), state parks, the court system, and other state government functions. The current proposals suggest either:

  • Cutting state payroll by 10% through pay cuts and furloughs to save the state $1 billion. This doesn’t affect employees of the Legislature, judicial branch and state colleges and universities.
  • Eliminating up to $130 million in state funding for parks. Eliminating the full amount means that parks have to rely solely on collected fees.
  • Cut the Legislature’s budget up to $130 million. If you cut too deep then it would mean possible layoffs, closure of district offices, and a huge impact on all operational aspects.
  • Eliminate the California Conservation Corps program (a cost of $33 million) that places young people in positions to respond to natural disasters and help maintain the parks.

So what and how much do you cut, and what do you eliminate if anything?


Taxes and Revenues

Some of the proposals suggest it is time to raise taxes in various areas such as alcohol, tobacco, gas, crude oil, and for high-income earners. There are also proposals for imposing a tax on social-security earnings, creating a business tax break, raising the vehicle license fee back to the 2% car value rate that was in place before Schwarzenegger took office; continue temporary tax hikes, and adding speeding cameras on 500 stop lights throughout the state. 


Remember, California relies heavily on income taxes, which is a wishy-washy situation, and property taxes can’t be increased because of Proposition 13. Although the state ranks the 15th highest in tax and fees collected, it has dropped by 20% since the peak of the housing bubble…which means more wishy-washy issues. So what do you tax and what do you leave alone? I hate to say this but no taxation means the state becomes crippled and the backlash of that impacts its residents. Taxation by some extent is necessary for all of our survival.

What do you think I proposed?

After reading all of this what solutions do you think I came up with? What areas did I cut, eliminate, and tax? How much do you think I increased the deficit or reduced it? Do you think I created a surplus, made matters worse, or just left it as-is? Curious? Tomorrow I will share. I was shocked.



Now give it a whirl for yourself. See how your proposal would impact the state and its residents. Then tomorrow you can compare yours to mine. Sound like a plan?

Natasha L. Foreman, MBA


 

P.S. If you are receiving this blog via email and are having difficulty seeing the images and following the details, just visit my blog at: paradigmlife.blogspot.com
  



Copyright 2011. Natasha L. Foreman. Some Rights Reserved.

Paradigmlife.blogspot.com

All charts, facts, figures, and statistics were provided by the Los Angeles Times and its reporters and researchers, as taken from: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/budget/

>Rape or Die, Be Raped or Die, Be Raped and Die: Your Options

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A man is beaten and tortured until he either rapes his mother, wife, and or daughter- or until he keeps fighting back and is murdered. He takes option one and after he is done the females he loves dearly are then raped by the men that forced him to rape them, and or they are tortured, mutilated and murdered in front of him. If the man takes option two and loses the battle of fighting back and is murdered, the females he loves still face the same fate. There is no winning solution for this man. No matter what decision he makes those he cherishes, loves, adores, and fights for will face the cruelest punishment anyone could conceive.

Photo Source: communitycollegeboy.blogspot.com



A woman watches as her husband fights back men who are ordering him to rape her. Before she knows it she watches a machete swoosh quickly in the air and her eyes connect with those of her husband’s as his head rolls across the ground. As she yells out in pain, these men grab her and throw her to the ground and soon after ripping off her clothes they take turns raping and beating her. They take pleasure in shoving their guns, knives, and other objects inside of her body.



They laugh hysterically as she cries out for them to stop. Her helplessness gives them a sense of power. The fear in her eyes makes them feel as though they own and control her. They have taken something from her she can never reclaim. She turns her head away and sees the blood splatter from her beloved husband. She turns her head the other direction and sees the feet of the men waiting for their turn to rape her. She closes her eyes and prays for it all to end. When it does she opens them and looks down the barrel of a gun. At this moment it will end and maybe she will be with her husband again.

Photo Source: joshuapundit.blogspot.com

This isn’t a movie. This isn’t a dramatized novel. This is happening consistently in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), parts of Sudan (such as Darfur), Rwanda, and other nations throughout Africa and elsewhere- and the innocent men, women and children there feel helpless and hopeless. Think about this…you aren’t being victimized because you did something to someone else. 


It is done because it can be. It is done because no one is stopping it from happening. It is done because there are not enough people around the world who care enough about the people of these countries to demand an end to these heinous crimes.



Join me and organizations such as Women for Women International, CARE, the Younger Women’s Task Force, and others as we stand up, speak up, and fight for the rights of those who go unheard. You can make a donation to help further the efforts of causes such as  Women for Women International and CAREand you can go a step farther and volunteer to help these organizations push harder and provide more accommodations for women and children around the world. Let’s fight for self-sufficiency and self-empowerment for all!


Natasha L. Foreman, MBA





Copyright 2011. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved. 
paradigmlife.blogspot.com

>Natasha’s Deep Thought of The Day 1.10.11

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They say that imitation is a form of flattery. Hmmm well to those who spend many moments imitating me I would say, “look close then do what I do…you own thing, and be unique doing it.” There is a difference between looking at someone we admire and modeling their behavior that led to their success or their sense of confidence- but it is quite another thing when we begin to assume their identity on some level; when we start dressing like them, acting like them, speaking like them, assuming positions and roles identical or similar to theirs, picking up their hobbies and so on and so forth.


You lose yourself when you’re busy trying to be like someone else. Soon you will grow to hate yourself (more) and ironically (and subconsciously)…the very person you imitate.




The same is true in competition. You should be concerned with what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. Your biggest competition is yourself so stop looking around you and start looking within. Live your life purposely not reactionary. Don’t do something because you see me doing it and you think it will make you look better or smarter. Sometimes the things that others do that seem so effortless are the very things that you will fail at repeatedly as you discover that it takes great effort, hard work, and a diligent thought process- they just make it look easy.


Look at how much time you wasted trying to outdo or be like someone else when you could have ran your own race, took care of your own needs, and found your own ‘self’- by your own set of rules.




I write because it is a God-given gift, because it makes me feel good and is my way of releasing and letting go. Just like music, I have loved writing and the written word since I was a small child. I began reading at the age of two, and words and books have been a major part of my life since. I was editor of my high school paper, wrote for the city paper and the Los Angeles Times, and found a way to continue writing in other environments since.

There will never  be a point in my life where I look at a piece of paper and pen, my laptop, or any other instrument that I can use to express myself and say, “I’m through with this nonsense“- I can confidently say that until I take my last breath I will be a writer, and I will share my work with the world. I say that to say, my passion may not be yours- so why imitate me?


My other passions are music, business, fitness, education, working with the under-served and underrepresented, and working with women and children who struggle for the right for self-empowerment and self-sufficiency. All the days of my life I hope to be blessed enough to continue working for and within these areas that bring me such joy and completeness. I would not consider stretching my arms into other realms because in my heart I believe that I am where I am supposed to be and doing what I was called to do…not imitating someone else!



If people stuck to what they do best and did it consistently every day they would be the most successful person in that area. Instead, people start hop-scotching into other areas that they are only vaguely familiar with- or out of envy they pursue because they see someone else succeeding at it- then they scratch their head and kick the dirt in frustration when they are mediocre in the same role. 

Follow your passion not your ego. 

Follow your gift not your greed. 


Look at your clock not over the shoulder of someone else.

Live with passion not out of fear. 

Be you and not the cheap knock-off of someone else.
I am pleased and humbled when people tell me and say to others, “Natasha is one-of-a-kind. I have never met anyone like her…” that is a major compliment because I have lived my life doing what feels right in my gut and what comes as natural as blinking my eyes. I have spent my life always as a leader- not a follower. I have made choices in life not because it was the popular thing to do, or the easiest. I chose the most rugged paths because I wanted to do something other people weren’t considering. I choose to look deeper than others because people are comfortable with surface-level results. 

I dress in what feels comfortable and flatters my body- not what the industry says is ‘in’. I listen to music that moves my soul, not to what the industry says is ‘hot’. I read what makes me think, ask questions, and desire more- not what the industry says is a ‘must read’. I’m attracted to the kind of man that makes my toes curl for both obvious and not-so-obvious reasons, not just what the status quo calls ‘hot and sexy’. I write what I think, what I feel, what I see, what I know, what I want to know, and I could care less what the industry or powers-that-be would say to the contrary.



I have mentors but no idols. I mentor women and young girls- but I don’t want them to be just like me. I worship one God and follow the examples of His son, yet I embrace my fellow brothers and sisters of different faiths regardless of our differences because I know that we are more alike than not. So at the end of the day I look within myself to motivate, push, and compete with- not at the next woman…or man. There’s me, myself, and I…and that’s a lot to handle for one person, and I don’t have the time, inclination, or low self-esteem to be concerned with what another person is or isn’t doing.

So I say to those who would imitate me or others…do your own thing and be unique doing it!


 

Natasha L. Foreman, MBA


 

Copyright 2011. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

paradigmlife.blogspot.com

>The Sudanese Women Need Our Help and Support

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This is a monumental time in the lives of the women of Sudan, as their future hangs on the string of hope through a referendum that could split their nation into two countries. As I have shared the cruelty and mistreatment of women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Nigeria, and other African nations- I have also shared the stories of the Sudanese women- who face a life of uncertainty as a collective vote will determine a future of possible natural-right freedoms, advancements, and opportunities for education, jobs and entrepreneurship. Southern Sudanese have eagerly rushed to the polling stations to cast their votes in an election that is widely expected to lead to the creation of the world’s newest state.

About 3.9 million people were registered to vote in the referendum which ends on January 15th, with the final results expected 10 days later. The separation must be endorsed by at least 60 percent of the registered voters to be valid. From my research, it is widely expected that most southern Sudanese would vote overwhelmingly to separate from their mostly Arab and Muslim compatriots.

Photo Credit: http: Joseph Kiheri/Nation

I subscribe to newspapers based throughout Africa so that I can keep abreast of what is happening in African nations to share with the diaspora. As a supporter of Women for Women International I also receive the latest information about the status of women in war-torn countries. Karen Sherman the Executive Director of Global Programs released a message emailed from Karak Mayik, the Country Director in Sudan for Women for Women. Karak lives in Rumbek, Sudan and has the opportunity to see on a daily basis the conditions of the women that Women for Women International works hard to serve, protect, and empower. Karak oversees the organization’s year-long program there, which currently serves 3,200 Southern Sudanese women.



Below is a copy of the email from Karak Mayik. After reading it please forward this blog message to your family, friends, and colleagues- and be sure to visit www.womenforwomen.org to see what other ways you can help the Sudanese women and other women in war-torn countries.


 

From: Karak Mayik 
To: HQ; UK Staff; Country Directors
Cc: Karen Sherman; Andree Simon; Zainab Salbi 
Sent: Sun Jan 09 09:09:09 2011
Subject: Stand with the Women of Sudan this Weekend




Dear Colleagues,


On this important landmark in the history of Sudan, and as we march to the referendum centers today to practice our right to self determination, please join me  in a message of solidarity, love and hope for a free, fair and peaceful referendum that reflects the aspirations of the people of Southern Sudan, with meaningful participation for all, especially women.



The struggle continues,
Karak



 


 


 

Copyright 2011. Natasha L. Foreman. Some Rights Reserved. 

Paradigmlife.blogspot.com