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.
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>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.
paradigmlife.blogspot.com

>Natasha’s SWOT Analysis 9.2.10  

>Two weeks ago I proposed that we all participate in creating an individual personal SWOT Analysis to look at our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in our personal lives so that we can see how to build upon our ‘pluses’ and turn our ‘minuses’ into ‘pluses’. The goal was to list 10-20 traits in each category, but if we had less than 10 or more than 20… we wouldn’t worry one second! 

Below is my SWOT, as you can clearly see in some areas I have more than 20, and in other areas I’m right at 14 or less. These traits of course are not listed in any particular order; just whatever came to mind first. The ultimate goal is to leverage all four areas to my advantage and overall growth…sooner than later.

We have to be real with ourselves. Don’t hold back and don’t sugar coat this analysis, you will only be doing yourself a disservice. Many of your traits you may initially overlook or categorize incorrectly; but rest assure that family and friends are never far off the mark with their assessments about you. Be sure (if you haven’t already done so) to share your SWOT with me, and if you want you can post as a comment or simply request that I post yours for other readers to see, and find any commonalities. Also take time to share with a few family members and friends to get their insight. It will be interesting to see what they have to say. 

Natasha’s SWOT Analysis 9.2.10     

STRENGTHS

1. Results-driven
2. Efficient
3. Realist
4. Creative
5. Go-to person (get it done type)
6. Analytical
7. Sense of humor
8. Humility
9. Work well with people
10. Great vision
11. Insight
12. Live with multi-cultural perspective 
13. Gracious
14. Huge heart
15. Considerate
16. Loving
17. Organized
18. Trustworthy
19. Trusting
20. Common sense
21. Street smart
22. Can mix and mingle in any setting 
23. Can speak to anyone on any level (communicate with business professionals, academics and the layperson)
24. Effective teacher/instructor/trainer
25. When I’m told I can’t do something I focus my energy on proving that I can
26. Degrees in Black Studies, MBA with marketing specialization, and currently pursuing my Doctorate in Organization and Management with a management education specialization, and a certificate in college teaching

WEAKNESSES

1. Can let fear stop me in my tracks
2. Issues with asking for help (don’t ask enough)
3. Impatient
4. Procrastination
5. Not comfortable ‘networking’
6. Sometimes see the glass half empty
7. Don’t know how to say “no” enough
8. Sometimes struggle with disconnecting from ‘work’ to enjoy life
9. Stubborn
10. Opinionated
11. Don’t put ‘self’ first (second to God) enough 
12. Bite my tongue when I should speak up and speak out (in my personal and professional life)
13. Don’t charge clients what I’m worth
14. Don’t value my time enough
15. Miss opportunities that could propel me to my goals faster and sooner 
16. Sometimes doubt myself
17. May compromise myself into total dissatisfaction 
18. Lower my standards too often
19. Have issues with dealing with loss (never grieve in healthy way)
20. Carry around too much stress
21. Sometimes have difficulty delegating (“might as well do it myself if I want it done right the first time”)
22. In my past, gifts and favors from men came with a constant disclaimer “I got this for you…I did this for you” so I have issues/reservations with accepting gifts and favors from men. I’d rather get/do it myself or not have it
23. Not good with saving and investing money properly (inconsistent)
24. Don’t work out on a consistent basis with the intensity required to reach and maintain my desired goals
25. Not finishing everything I start
26. Control freak
 

OPPORTUNITIES

1. Opportunity to develop and grow my companies to the level where I have several employees handling multiple client accounts with limited or no supervision from me; and operations are so efficient that I can travel for pleasure at my leisure
2. College teaching position (teaching online, distance, and traditional on-campus business classes) 
3. Increasing my patience; notice a significant difference now than two years ago (and especially five years ago)
4. Marriage and family 
5. Regular vacations lasting 7 (+) days
6. Ability to travel more globally, even for business
7. Re-build global client base
8. Live life to its fullest; enjoying all the small wonders it has to offer that I currently overlook because I’m too overwhelmed with the nuances of life.
9. Re-build my nest egg
10. Finally get one of my books finished and published
11. Purchasing several family and income properties 
12. More speaking, mentoring and tutoring opportunities    
13. Meeting prospective clients through referrals
14. Gaining additional mentors and advisors to help guide me

THREATS

1. Other companies/consultants can have competitive advantage because they don’t delay making contact and sharing their services with prospective clients
2. Miss opportunities to excel in career because of my fears
3. By not adequately and efficiently leveraging my strengths and weaknesses towards a truly successful and rewarding career (with considerable financial gains) I risk overwhelming amounts of personal debt
4. My personal hang ups prevent me from having the life I desire (marriage and family; and financial security)
5. Too much planning and not enough action will result in great ideas that never amount to anything but great ideas
6. Losing focus and never getting one of my books finished and published 

Wow now that is quite a bit to reflect on. My next post we will do exactly that and I will explain how to take your SWOT and make it work for you. Until next time have an awesome day!

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

>The Mind is Powerful

>Two awesome quotes by the late, great Napoleon Hill:

THERE ARE NO LIMITATIONS TO THE MIND EXCEPT THOSE WE ACKNOWLEDGE.

BOTH POVERTY AND RICHES ARE THE OFFSPRING OF THOUGHT.

Our minds are extremely powerful tools, they can help or harm, build or destroy…amazing!

Natasha L. Foreman

>Molded Clay Can’t Ask the Potter What He’s Doing

>

There is not one person on the planet that does not have issues in life. There has always been “bumps” in the road that have served as obstacles that they have either overcame or succumbed to and failed. It is difficult to think on the broader scale and realize that our problems are no different than anyone else’s and that oftentimes someone else has even bigger issues than the one’s we’re currently dealing with.
Over the past few years I have “beat myself down” as to how I could go from making roughly $50,000 annually at the age of 21 (a long, long, time ago) to at one point hitting an all-time low of $5,600 in one year. A rate of $50,000 annually stretched out over 10 (and more) years I should definitely be making a comfortable six-figure salary but I’m not.
How did I survive off of a mere $5,600? One word…GOD!
How is it possible that my income has gone up and down like a yo-yo, and I still have not attained the level of success that I should have reached? Simple….not listening to God!
God has always opened doors for me, sometimes I walked through them, sometimes I let doubt steer me down another path. I’ve heard myself say how “humbled” I have become since my jet-setting days of rolling around in a brand new 5 series BMW without a care in the world…to losing basically all of my worldly possessions in a series of events that included a storage unit theft.

What I have realized is that although I have been humbled into not feeling as though I need certain materialistic things that I used to work 60+ hours a week towards attaining, I have not been humbled enough to realize that every opportunity that God presents to me I am supposed to take it- no matter how “beneath me” it appears. I have a lot to learn.

It doesn’t matter how much work or life experience you have, it doesn’t matter how many degrees you have earned…if God points you down a path…take it…the clay doesn’t ask the potter, “hey what are you doing to me?…what will I become?…where are you taking me once you’re done molding me?” The clay sits there as the wheel turns, and the potter’s hands methodically kneads and shapes it into a one-of-a-kind masterpiece. 

You never know what God has planned for your future, how exactly He intends on molding you, or what riches he has in store for you! Why don’t you try finding out? Why don’t you listen to Him instead of reading your daily horoscope, tuning in to a psychic, having your cards read, or listening to a friend who is just as lost as you? Instead of thinking what you could lose by doing it God’s way, think about what more you can gain…then take that step!

Copyright © 2010 by Natasha L. Foreman. All rights reserved.

*Note: Above potter and clay image retrieved from www.biggergod.com/potter.html