>Natasha’s Love and Life Thought of the Day for 2.8.11

>By Natasha L. Foreman, MBA

Some of us strive for excellence only in our personal lives content with the belief that at least there we have some control, since we have none at out Just-Over-Broke Situations. Then there are those of us who are more focused on prosperous careers and we could care less if we have a hodge-podge relationship, dating a handful of people (and probably being dishonest to all of them), or running through life single and alone.

I believe that you can be successful in both love/family and career.

What’s the sense in having a prosperous career and you have no one worthy to share your accomplishments and setbacks with, how is that a successful life?

I strive for excellence in every aspect of my life and I truly believe that I can have both a successful personal life and career as long as there are two things constantly present that I’m focused on: God, and that I BELIEVE even when I’m scared, and especially when no one else does (or they are too self-absorbed to care).

I believe that I can be the wife who cooks, cleans, stays up late helping my husband meet deadlines or work through issues; the wife who loves him to the level (and intensity) that makes others jealous; that I can be the mother that other children wish were theirs (and my children soak it up); that I can have the loving, respectful, supportive husband, and the well-mannered, giving, caring, highly intelligent and gifted children- all nestled in our warm, inviting and beautiful home (with a well-manicured lawn, my Land Rover LR4, and a happy dog). Yes, I believe this with every fiber of my body.

At the same time I believe that I can have that demanding yet rewarding career doing all of the things that I love doing, and getting paid handsomely. I also believe that I can do all of this and still serve the least of God’s children around the world…

…while still having precious alone time to do whatever I want to do for me- even if it’s a two-hour bath with tons of candles surrounding the tub, or taking the time to read and reflect on the Word!

It all requires balance. It requires believing in myself and believing that I’m NOT doing this alone. There is a greater power out there- God- helping me along the way- opening doors, windows, vents, and more so that I can walk, jump, crawl, or wiggle inside and make a difference in my life and the lives of others.

We must be about action. There is no limit to what we can or can’t do. We can either make things happen and DO something, or we can spend our lives coasting by TALKING about our dreams. You can find your calling at any age between 20 and 90, but it is up to you whether you do what you are called to do or waste the time making excuses why mediocrity is the best you can produce.

We must remember that there IS a time limit on life; tomorrow is not promised- so we have to seize the moment and learn each day to LIVE OUR DREAMS!

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

>Lessons Learned Now Move Forward

>I had a conversation with a dear friend Tuesday night while we ate dinner. We were discussing my past, past loves, past hurt, the lessons learned and the blessing of humor that helped keep me sane- without it I’m sure I would have been on the first episode of the show “Snapped“.

He told me, “wow Tasha you have been through a lot“. That would definitely be an understatement. One thing I can say after years of much-needed healing, and through this process of growth and rebuilding- I don’t regret what I have gone through because it has definitely made me stronger and wiser. It has also made me more conscientious in my dealings with others and with how intentional I am in my commitments- in thought and deed. When you have been duped once it’s a “shame on them” moment, but as many of us soon realize- the second time is a definite “shame on me“. So the third time you get played (or play yourself) you need a psych evaluation…and in a hurry!

Photo Credit: marriedmysugardaddy.com

In these short 35-years I have lived an oxymoronic ‘long life’ as I grew up very fast; partly because of circumstances and partly because I wanted to be “grown” so I could do what I wanted when I wanted. Lord, God has an amazing sense of humor because not only do I miss my childhood and the freedom I took for granted, but I have grown to learn that I can’t do what I want whenever I want- those darn things called bills and obligations keep pestering me. I have also learned as my friend John Hope Bryant frequently is heard saying, “Want to make God laugh? Tell Him your plans…” and with that I have spent more than 30 years telling God what I was going to do, who I was going to be with, when I would marry and have children, when I would have a successful career and personal life, and a long laundry list of other things I thought I could naively control.

An amazing thing through this journey that I have also stood firmly in is my reality that I am not damaged goods. I am not hopeless or helpless. I am not a victim. Hard-headed…yes, but I don’t need rescuing. In my strength there is a vulnerability. Inside of me is a desire to love and be loved fully and intentionally. Inside of me is a warrior princess looking for the opportunity to help the masses of people whose hope is waning. I want to help those both inside and outside of my culture  and community; the voiceless, the fearful, the wise who are overlooked and overshadowed; and the disenfranchised, under-served and underrepresented. I want to be a true ambassador of goodness and dignity. I want to give more because I have been given so much from God. I want to teach others to ‘fish’ and bake, and not simply give them fish and loaves of bread.

Since I was a small child it has been my lifelong mission to save the world one person at a time. I have never been concerned with how I could benefit from a transaction, deal, or experience – I always wondered how I could help others in the process. It is not my desire to acquire wealth just for self- but to find ways to provide resources for others to learn, grow, and then pay it forward. I don’t want to rule over others and call myself a ‘public servant’- no offense to politicians- but I would rather continue serving the least of God’s children for free and be wealthier, wiser, and more powerful than any government official could ever be…and sleep with a clear conscious each night!

Image Credit: Matt Groening
Source: Irishtimes.com

I have worked hard and diligently as a Business and Entertainment Consultant, a Certified Personal Fitness Trainer, a PhD student, and as a child of God who happens to be a woman and Black. There is only one source for these successes (and the others I humbly and modestly refrain from listing) and that is God. Call Him what you want- He knows who He is and His role in your life (or lack thereof). We all should be putting our faith in something greater and better than us and that is what matters most. In this new year my focus is on Him first, and keeping my ears, eyes and heart open to the possibilities and opportunities He has planned for me- because I realized something- I have not pushed myself through the threshold, and through hell and back in a very long time. Don’t get me wrong, I have worked hard- but I haven’t worked to exhaustion and then kept going. I know how this feels and last year I didn’t reach that point. My knuckles, face and knees weren’t bloodied, and because of that I didn’t see the pay off I should have. Lesson learned.

Photo Credit: zazzle.com

This year I must face my fears in business and in my personal life, and shatter the lies that I have allowed to hold me hostage. I want to give my all in everything; no half-stepping, no game playing, no rationing or rationalizing. I want to see things through and give 100% effort  in every aspect of my life. When we learn life’s lessons the purpose is to then move forward to the next lesson, not sit back and ponder endlessly the how’s, when’s, why’s, and what’s. I have also surmised that the people we have in our lives is an important factor in our overall success- because let’s be honest…most people who are successful in business suck rotten lemons in their personal lives. Show me 10 successful business people who have successful marriages, families, and personal lives. I will wait….

It is possible to have a successful career and personal life. It is possible to be an incredible business person, husband/wife, parent, and friend. But do you know what the majority of people are missing? What we are missing is the valuable link of a spiritual foundation. Not religion- but spirituality. Take out the formalities, the rituals and traditions- and get to the root- your Creator. When you put Him first in all decision-making, in all relationships, and situations then you are no longer thinking of self first, you are surrendering all to a higher power. When you put Him first you never think twice about emotionally or sexually cheating, juggling multiple partners, misrepresenting yourself to others, or playing games when it comes to matters of the heart. When you put Him first you never walk over business associates, or casually evict a struggling family trying to live paycheck to paycheck.

Get past the simple thinking of ritualistic prayer (and at convenient times only) and get centered on having a spiritual foundation and reference point every second of every day. When we realize that we can’t control much of anything and finally let go of the ‘steering wheel’ and focus on our roles and responsibilities, we will be able to clearly see how to balance our segmented ‘worlds’ within the grand scheme.

This year I will let go and move forward. This year I stop trying to prove myself to people who really don’t matter (when you think about it) and just express myself genuinely and humbly. The rest will always work itself out- and with it will come the balance we all truly want and need. With that comes a successful, honest, loving, and real marriage and family. With that comes a successful career surrounded by people who respect you for how you treat them not just because of your title and the perceived power you have over them, or because of what you can give them (or help them get). With that comes people who know that I am more than a pretty face with a cute figure. This is something many women are struggling to overcome- the ‘brains over beauty’ battle. We have grown to find our best assets aren’t the ones tucked away in our heads, but rather the ones that should be tucked away under clothes.

So this year I will continue weeding out those people who are only leaches. I will weed out those people who want to hold on to me but don’t want to be loyal to me. I will avoid relationships with people who don’t walk in the light that brings healthy growth and spiritual prosperity. I will avoid people who would have me compromise my morals and values to satisfy their selfish needs. I will remove myself from situations that are infectious, and I will only associate with those people who truly want the best for and from me, who bring out the best in me, and give me their best for no other reason than because they are revealing what is inside of them- goodness, dignity, honor, and love.

What will you do with the lessons you have learned thus far? What values are you representing and standing firmly within? To paraphrase an old saying, “a person who won’t stand for something will fall for anything“. This is your moment so seize it!

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

>Credit: The debt game


The January 2010 issue of Essence Magazine (p. 85) has an eight-page Money and Career Guide that is rather interesting. As I flipped through the guide I took notice of The Credit Quiz that asks you five questions to help you assess whether you should seek assistance from a debt management company or handle your issues personally with your creditors. The five questions that you are to answer either yes or no to ask:
        Does your debt include credit and department store cards, credit lines or unsecured loans?
        Can you make consistent monthly payments?
        Is there a good possibility you won’t take on additional debt in the near future?
        Can you negotiate well and commit to following up with your creditors?
        Are you okay with having a significant ding on your credit report?
If you answered “yes” to three or more of the questions then they suggest you check with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to begin screen debt management companies to assist you. If however, you answered “no” to three or more questions then you should use the extra money you have left over after covering your recurring costs in order to pay off one debt at a time. For those who could not select yes or no to one or more questions, because you simply could not decide which answer was most fitting to your current situation, the article suggested going to http://ftc.gov/credit  to read more about the process and making an informed decision after that point.
What I believe this article failed to do was educate consumers on the risks and rewards of using debt management companies versus tackling creditors alone. The last question uses the word “significant” in relation to how impactful one’s credit report could be affected by either handling the situation one way or another. What do they consider “significant”? What does this “significant” ding mean to the person and their credit? How long does this “ding” stay on their credit?
I’m not a credit card person. I remember getting one at the age of 18, like so many other college students who were pounced on at college campuses. Mine was with a well-known bank seen all over the country. I did as many other financially illiterate people do and allowed my credit card to be used for frivolous purchases that weren’t being paid off in full each month. I looked out for loved ones who claimed to need this or that, when it was only a case of instant gratification gone wild. Of my $800 limit I at most spent $100 on myself. Sad but true. I was making payments on the card, paying what I could and hoping that the other people who were there when it was time to make purchases, would also step forward with money in hand to pay off the debt. It was like saying “hello” at the Grand Canyon…the only person you hear is yourself.
Eventually because no one helped me pay back the charges and associated fees that accrued, I found myself in a pickle after losing my job. I was then sent to an outside collection agency that made a deal with me…“Pay us $600 right now on the phone and we will wipe out the balance owed…” I ran and got my checkbook and rattled off my account number over the phone. Months later I moved and guess what I received in the mail? A demand letter from the bank requesting more than $900 to be paid immediately; they claimed to have no knowledge of my earlier payment and although I said the agency’s name they refused to accept that I had made an agreement to eliminate the amount initially in question for a reduced fee. They wanted me to pay the money in full and began their fear tactics on me in hopes that I would break down and be naïve enough to give them the money. I refused. I felt as though someone had taken advantage of me and until it became clear who the culprit was, and that what I said was factual, no one was getting a lint ball from my pocket.
For years I battled with this bank. There was no way I was going to pay a combined total of $1,300 for an $800 credit limit. I had learned my lesson…matter of fact I learned several of them. I quickly paid off my card from a clothing store in 1997 and closed the account (also not aware of how that would affect me until I saw my credit report several months to a year later). I was 20 years old and free of credit cards!
Although I had sworn off credit cards my mother several years later thought it was important to have a secured credit card for “emergencies” and decided to add my name without my knowledge to her account so in case something happened to her I could immediately have access to the funds. What my mother did not understand was that the minimum monthly payment MUST be paid on time each month even if you don’t use the card. This wasn’t how her American Express card used to work! Long story short…guess who pulled their credit report and noticed “dings” for late payments?
Yep…me! Talking about being livid; I almost dislocated my jaw I was whooping and hollering so much. I had gotten out of the credit card rat race and found myself right back in its claws without ever having received one perk from the card’s use.
I’m not saying credit cards are bad or evil. Not at all….what I am saying is this, educate yourself on the associated costs, fees (both plainly seen and hidden), and penalties for both using the card and for cancelling the card. Know why you are applying for a credit card and what purchases you think you should make using it instead of cash. I understand that a credit card comes in handy, especially when renting cars (and you don’t want them freezing the funds in your account until you return the car), or securing hotel rooms, etc. Here’s the thing you should always consider however…If you can’t afford to pay the bill in full each month then you should opt to use cash for the purchase or defer it altogether until you can afford one lump-sum payment, or layaway. Just think about it!
Copyright © 2010 by Natasha L. Foreman. All rights reserved

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