When Was the Last Time You Made Yourself Laugh?

I just published a post on my SnapChat adventure the other day. Check it out. I hope it makes someone smile, laugh, and then focus on doing the same thing for themselves!

Allow Yourself to Just Be Free
Allow Yourself to Just Be Free

Love,

Natasha

Natasha’s Thought of the Day: My Definition of a Coward

A coward is a hilarious yet pitiful sight to see and experience. A coward hides behind aliases, anonymity, avatars, masks, lies, and other people. A coward yells loudly behind mommy’s dress and daddy’s coat, but never stands out and speaks up for the world to see. A coward spits venom like a serpent but is too scared to face those they attack. A coward has little to no self-esteem, self-worth, dignity, or grace, so lacking a spine they sneak around trying to drag others to their level. A coward will hide behind a title but never live up to it. A coward is never dependable, reliable, or consistent…except in their cowardice. They simply exist, but never live, and even in their existence they don’t leave much of an impression.

I’m not too sure if I should feel sorry for the cowards of the world, sympathy, or nothing at all. They are a sad group of people. They can never stand on their own, they can never fight their own battles, they can never truly lead, they always make excuses for their inadequacies, and blame others for their shortcomings. Cowards are always the victim, always the damsel in distress, always the ones needing saving, always the ones complaining about what’s wrong and why they can’t do something. The words, ‘can’t’ and ‘impossible’ begin and end their sentences, and sometimes their days.

Cowards live for revenge, wanting to pay back those who hurt them, but they don’t have the courage to actually face this person head on. Cowards like to pick fights, but never stick around for combat, or they find a way for others to join the fight so their weaknesses are never revealed. They are the ones who spread rumors and cause drama, but in a sneaky, cleaver kind of way–that always make them look innocent. They pretend to be someone they aren’t because they don’t have the courage to be who they were created to be. They are weak-minded, weak physically, weak morally, and weak spiritually. They live in constant darkness; for only in light can one find true strength. It’s no wonder why cowards always prefer playing devil’s advocate, because for them it is too great a mountain to climb reaching up towards hope, possibility, and excellence, when they can use less effort kneeling down towards mediocrity.

I have encountered many cowards in my time, some as recently as today, and I am amazed at how much time they have on their hands to focus their energy on doing absolutely nothing of relevance in our world–except in their minds. It is pitiful that these insecure people spend so many hours of their day thinking about me, plotting and planning against me, and envious of what I have that they wish they had. We all have had our run-ins with cowards like this. See, cowards have plenty of time and energy to spread lies and hate, try to destroy other people’s reputations, families and businesses,  yet they don’t invest the time and energy to bring goodness and love into our world. They don’t have the time and energy to make a positive contribution to society, yet they can waste all of their resources trying to drain someone else and destroy their dreams. They don’t have the time and energy to build, create, innovate, inspire, embrace, uplift, and shine. Yet they have the time and energy to tear things apart, destroy, manipulate, deceive, and play childish games. They have time to send stupid messages and make phone calls to others hoping to make them feel as miserable as they do; post idiotic things on the Internet for even the tiniest bit of attention; make claims without supporting evidence; and just take up much-needed space in the world. They eventually leave this world as they entered it and lived it…clueless!

I have more respect for the person who tries and fails, than the one who never tries. I have more respect for the person with bumps, bruises, cuts and burns from falling down in life, because in their walk I see that they found a way to get back up. I have more respect for the person who comes to me directly, without masks, anonymity and code names, and just speaks their mind. I have more respect for the person who comes right out and confronts me with the goal to fight, than sucker-punch me in the dark. I have no respect for a person who isn’t brave enough to stand up and speak their mind. I say what I want to say, and clearly say my name when I’m speaking. I don’t post to my blogs or anywhere else as “anonymous” or with some made up alias, or using a picture not mine, because I have the courage to speak up, speak out, and back up what I say. My parents didn’t raise a punk, so I don’t cower over like one. I’m no bully and I won’t be bullied–never have and never will!

So I have one last thing to say to the cowards of the world…you can say what you want and do what you want, because just like your anonymity, you really don’t exist!

 

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

A Focus on Dignity and Non-Violence at Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy

By Natasha L. Foreman, MBA

On April 15th I was honored to lead a Dignity Day session as a HOPE Corp Volunteer through Operation HOPE (HOPE) at the Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy (CSKYWLA) in Atlanta.

What is amazing is how the majority of this class of ninth graders were initially completely turned off to the idea of having to listen to yet another speaker that day as they were just returning to their classroom from an assembly that focused on the theme of 100 days of Non-Violence…so they were shifty and closed off. But about 15 minutes into our conversation some of the girls who had crossed arms were soon raising their hands and answering questions.

I started off by talking about the concept of legacy and that that day we were laying the foundation and road map for them to create and eventually leave behind a strong, dignified legacy. I had them define the term legacy in their own words and then share some of their dreams, goals and aspirations. Then as our conversation deepened I shared with them the history of how HOPE was founded, the services and programs that HOPE offers, and I started to weave a story where life included them and their legacy.


I think helping them share the names of empowered and dignified women they see in their family, community, and elsewhere who had similar or worse lives growing up helped them to see that they too could be those same type of women- that they are these women but in-training and with the potential to do more and help more in the long run because they are being equipped with the tools at a young age; and our adversity isn’t an excuse to let life pass us by or a crutch to coast through life doing and expecting the bare minimum, but a reason and motivation to excel and succeed.

These young ladies were shocked to hear that the civil rights movement as it pertained to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and Ambassador Andrew Young was sparked, motivated, and pushed along due to their wives Coretta Scott King and Jean Childs Young- two women who endured and overcame adversity and strife. Hearing this information made many of these girls sit up straight in their chairs and listen intently.

                        

When I spoke about not holding grudges, and that forgiving people is not to benefit the person they were forgiving but to help themselves heal, grow, and overcome- some girls shifted in their seats their seats, a few others rolled their eyes in disbelief; but then when I mentioned Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelou, Iyanla Vandzant and their ability to forgive their abusers and using strife as a launching pad towards success- some of the girls started naming other people like Fantasia and Tyler Perry who was sexually and physically abused and how he also overcame and pushed himself to success.

We discussed the concept of family and that it isn’t just our immediate family we need to be concerned about but our neighborhoods, cities, state, our country, and our global family. Because I know that girls can be equally as cutthroat as boys, I made sure that we had a heart-to-heart chat about trash-talking and “clowning” people and how although initially it can be lighthearted and funny, it can also be crippling and tear apart our “extended” family.

We discussed being relevant not only in this country but globally, and that true wealth (spiritual, financial, etc) can only be maintained long term by leading a dignified life, not by living up to the negative stereotypes that are projected globally about Black females. We discussed self-empowerment and not waiting on the government or specific programs to help us, that we have to help ourselves. That we shouldn’t be waiting for someone else to pick up trash on our sidewalks- we should pick it up ourselves.

We shouldn’t be waiting for someone else to cover the graffiti on our walls and buildings- we should paint over it ourselves; we shouldn’t wait for someone else to beautify our streets and parks with trees and flowers- we should plant them ourselves. I explained that they should be volunteering in their community through church or some other organization taking pride in restoring, building, maintaining, and beautifying their neighborhoods.

We had a pretty good time. We laughed and talked about boys and expectations of being respected by males and all people when you carry yourself with respect and dignity. We discussed the language of money and being financially literate, and how this literacy will empower them. It was refreshing to see that many of them have savings accounts and that two of the students had traveled abroad- one to London and the other to the Bahamas. Two young passport carriers living in an underserved and underrepresented area of Atlanta- doesn’t that give you hope? It gives me hope and encourages me to continue my work in the community, and my work through Operation HOPE.

I hope more men and women find it in their hearts to invest one hour of their time at least once per month to volunteer in a church, in a class room, or in a youth center through Operation HOPE. One person can make a difference!

Copyright 2011. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.
natashaforeman.com
natashaforeman.info
paradigmlife.blogspot.com
theparadigmlife.wordpress.com

>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.
paradigmlife.blogspot.com

>Never Losing Sight of Who We Are and Where We’re Going

>Let me first start by saying that I am truly blessed. I have had my share of ups and downs. I have enjoyed acquiring countless worldly possessions. I have also experienced the heartache of losing them to theft, oversight, or total disregard that they weren't mine to begin with, but God's gifts to me on loan. I have seen, experienced, and felt great loss through death, personal economic downslides, and career and relationship failures. This young woman, soon-to-be age 35 in 22 days, has experienced many things that some people will never witness; but I'm blessed for these experiences.

I can recall the day when I was around the age of four when my parents and I walked though our huge storage unit, to see that only a few items were there. Our beds, furniture, and the majority of our personal belongings were gone…stolen. How traumatic an experience at such a young age. My Holly Hobby playhouse, bedroom set, and so much more was gone! What about when 1993 rolled around and once again, personal property was stolen from my family- this time, directly from our home. Then the knockout blow came shortly after when we lost that same home. Yikes! We were homeless by definition, but to my family, home is where the heart is- and our hearts were connected together and intertwined with God.

It seems just like yesterday, but it was actually 1999, when I received a phone call that almost everything I owned was stolen out of a personal storage unit. The few items I possessed I had stored at my uncle's home, and at my mother's home. Something about those storage units, even with so-called top-notch security, my stuff always seemed to come up missing. That same year my prized BMW was vandalized by someone who didn't want to see me happy. I lost yet another material possession.

Several of my first posts to this blog shared my experiences of loss through death. I have had so many loved ones pass away that it was at one point seeming like a sick, twisted joke. I was questioning God why I was experiencing all of this loss, why did it have to be so painful and agonizing. I noticed I was becoming even more fixated on death, on losing things and the people that I loved and still love deeply. I began to miss my childhood, when everything seemed perfect and as it should be…depression caught ahold of me and placed me in a series of bear and sleeper holds that was crippling for many, many years.

Depression caused me to lose faith, lose sight of what my plan and purpose is here. It caused me to not extend my hand when opportunity was dropping 'loaves' for me to sustain, to build, to grow. I wasn't seizing the moments that were presented as gifts. I was letting life pass me by. I was so obsessed with not losing anything that I didn't notice that I was still losing plenty. My career spiraled head-first into the ground, partly because I sacrificed it in order to appease a man I was dating; and partly because I was so fearful of losing something that I wouldn't trust and believe in myself consistently to make the right decisions. I soon exhausted all of my savings, my credit sank like the Titanic, and I began to have serious health issues. I was at a low.

Now let me stop here for a moment and say that this isn't one of my deep spiritual posts. It is spiritual, but I'm not trying to go directly there with you. You can visit my other blog breakingbreadwithnatasha.blogspot.com if you want to lovingly break bread with me and share some daily scriptures, prayers, and reflection. Now let's continue…

It takes a strong person to face loss, fall flat on their face (figuratively shattering every bone) and then get back up on their feet. I have been one-two punched, jabbed, caught a hook to the kidney region, sucker-punched in the gut, and undercut dead center on my jaw by life countless times. I just find a way to dig down deep, pray for strength and guidance, as I look for something to grab ahold to so that I can pull myself up to my knees, then my feet. Once standing it can cause your vision to be blurry because the hit you took knocked the wind out of you and jogged your faculties. Slow, steady breaths help to cleanse you and clear your mind so that you can reconnect. The tingling from numb extremities eventually dissipates, and you know that your body's blood flow is back on its normal pace. There is a constant reminder that you just got your butt kicked, because your face still hurts from falling on it…but even that is okay because at least you know that you survived, and are alive!

It is important to look back and ask yourself, "okay so how did that happen?"

The answer is simple yet possibly hard to grasp, and even harder to implement a solution- You lost sight of things. You weren't paying attention in the boxing ring of life. You instead did one or more of the following:

1) You stood there in the middle of the ring and took a pounding
2) You were too busy looking out in the audience trying to see how many fans were cheering for you, and didn't see that hook coming towards the temple of your head.
3) Your foot action got sloppy because of your lack of conditioning, and being tired, you allowed yourself to rest and eventually be pinned against the ropes, as your opponent tagged their name into your forehead, chest and rib cage.
4) You should have been bobbing and weaving, making sure to keep your gloves up, arms tucked in, and feet moving. You got anxious and dropped your right hand trying to land that TKO, but instead life tapped you with it's left fist and you landed face first on the floor.

It is very easy to lose focus when our focus is on fear, a desire for power and privilege, and or, on acquiring worldly possessions just because we want something to possess- to prove our success, and that we made it. It is also easy to lose focus when we turn our eyes away from our path, and focus on someone's path in hopes of walking beside them. If we are meant to walk on the same path with someone, then that will be revealed, and our eyes are never diverted from what we were doing before we met them. It should be a natural flow and transition, no delays or derailments. It should be seamless.

I can admit that I can be hard-headed. I also believe that my Creator, God, obviously has a great sense of humor dealing with me. He obviously also loves me dearly because He could have easily zapped me out of here a long time ago. I do know that He often thumps me in the back of my head when I'm veering too far in one direction, when I should be going another route. Let me share why I say this.

After realizing that my career had spun out of control, that my financial prospectus was nothing worth sharing with anyone with a pulse, and that I had a weakness for loving love more than I loved God and myself; what do you think happened after I worked diligently to rebuild my credit, purchase a cute, affordable car (that wouldn't tear my vital organs out if it were vandalized), and gradually see a steady lifeline in my career?

I screwed it all up.

I lost my focus while in love, and let someone else's dreams and path deter me from mine. I forgot who I was and what my mission was. I leveraged my strengths and opportunities to counter and uplift his weaknesses and threats. The more I helped him on his path, the farther I walked away from mine. The more I helped his financial situation and career hiccups, the worse mine became. Eventually his credit became better than mine, his savings account balance grew, as mine was depleted; his career had a brighter outlook, and mine was almost in the toilet. I had walked so far away from my path that I was lost in the wilderness.

How could I do that to myself? How could I lose focus? How could I place more importance on someone else, and not on myself, especially when they weren't even helping me reclaim my footing on my path? I let someone's self-serving ways lure me towards servitude as their 'property', instead of staying true to myself. Guess what I received for sacrificing myself for him? Guess what I received for my loyalty, encouragement, and investments (both in time and money)? I received the gift of loss, enlightenment, humility, and wisdom all in one huge box with fancy wrapping paper and a bow. That was definitely my "ah-ha!" moment.

I'm truly blessed. I'm blessed to have experienced it, this time in a different way. I learned in that relationship exchange how to be giving, nurturing, supportive, caring, and understanding. I learned how to sacrifice my need for instant gratification in order to provide for what I considered my 'family'. It was a humbling experience. Going from breadwinner to just-over-broke in a few short years can do that. Having to rebuild alone, but never truly alone (I have grown to discover the past 13 months now), and having to believe that even that initial pain would pass, and lay the foundation of wisdom to grow and share with others.

Am I mad at him? Heck no, why should I? How can you be mad at someone else for something you did to yourself, for something you were a willing participant in? Duh!

I am blessed. My life so far has shown me that although I have been beat up from the tip of my toes to the scalp of my head, I am a fighter and I will thrive. I needed to see how it feels when I lose sight of what I'm supposed to be doing; when I get comfortable in accepting mediocrity in myself and others; and when I ignore that voice in my ear or that tug in my stomach warning me that I'm about to fall off the course.

I share this with you in hopes that you don't lose sight of the path you're supposed to be on. Make sure you aren't jumping on someone else's path, even if it appears to be more exciting or rewarding. You never know, their path may also be short-lived. I also hope that you remember that when you're in the ring to bob and weave, always keep your feet moving, keep those gloves up, and your arms in close…and remember…never lose sight of what you're supposed to be doing, who you are, and that you have the strength and ability to get back up when you're knocked down on your rump!

Natasha

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