I’m sitting here and really reflecting on and pondering the concept of vulnerability and I have to give credit to Brene’ Brown for all of her research and the contributions that she has made to unpack the concept of vulnerability.

Just like her I have struggled and still struggle with being vulnerable because of what it entails and what it requires of me, and that’s a scary concept and picture to wrap my mind around. The control gremlin inside of my brain tells me that it’s too big of a risk and that I need to put up these walls and barriers.

But the healthy part of my brain understands that vulnerability is vital to my success, to thriving and growing, and being what I was designed to be. Vulnerability allows me to give and share, and receive more than I could ever imagine, if only I just free myself from the shackles that I keep lugging around.

Brene’ Brown shared an example in one of her books that a person in the military shared with her—that our soldiers risk their lives for each other and it’s only possible because they are allowing themselves to be vulnerable. You’re putting your life in someone else’s hands, that is vulnerability. It makes me think of Extreme Ownership, the book, by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. It’s a great book by the way. Much of what Willink and Babin share is based on vulnerability and understanding that by embracing it there was greater trust formed during combat, plans were executed effectively, and a bond was formed with fellow soldiers. They could rely upon and lean on each other because they opened and revealed a part of themselves, and in so doing that revelation was entrusted and protected by those they shared this intimacy with.

In the various examples shared, in all of these books that I am reflecting upon right now is a willingness and comfort with being vulnerable, and being okay with it. Not seeing it as a negative but actually a positive. But what is interesting is that so many of us see vulnerability as a weakness and it is usually the first thing that is pushed back upon when mentioned, especially in environments that shy away from topics of the heart and expression of feelings. But when you actually dissect vulnerability and break it down you realize that it is a positive element of our life, and our lack of vulnerability is what actually blocks us from great growth and development, from connecting deeply with others, from having greater intimacy and authenticity.

Some people confuse over-sharing with vulnerability. Sharing all of the intimate details of your personal life is not vulnerability. It’s just over-sharing. You’re just being an attention hog. Telling your friends about your romantic encounters is not vulnerability, it’s just lack of tact and respect for those individuals you were romping around with.

Vulnerability is being able to identify and accept the truth about yourself, sharing this truth with others, with an understanding that you risk that information being used against you— possibly, and that’s okay.

I guess in a way, vulnerability is understanding the concept of fear as information and processing it, without holding onto it and making it more than it is. Vulnerability would take the power away from fear. Vulnerability admits there’s fear there and admits that there’s hesitancy to make a decision. Courage can step in, answering vulnerability’s call, and face down the fear.

So being honest about your current state of affairs, maybe your mindset and what you’re going through emotionally and possibly physically or psychologically, is vulnerability with an intended purpose. If that makes sense?

I don’t have to share the details of any relationships that I’ve been in but I can share that I’m still trying to heal from those relationships—that is my vulnerability and my willingness to connect heart to heart with other people. I don’t and I won’t share details about my divorce but I can be vulnerable enough to say how gut wrenching it was for me because I never married with the thought of divorce in my mind. See, the details don’t really matter.

I don’t have to share details to share my heart and I understand that it requires vulnerability to share one’s heart. I can share that I’ve struggled with my business and in my career, and sometimes I question “What in the world am I doing and why?”, and I don’t need to go into the specific details about my finances or frustration with contracts and people who don’t truly value me— even though they need the services that I provide. I don’t need to go into specifics when sharing that I’ve struggled financially, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. You can be receptive to the essence of what I’m saying without feeling the need to grab a soda and popcorn, kick up your feet and wait to be entertained by my Lifetime movie sob story.

Vulnerability frees us to admit when we don’t know or understand something. It frees us to find people to help us in areas where we need it, at times when we need it. It frees us from the bondage of pride that will destroy us if we give it power and allow it to do so. Vulnerability opens a doorway where we can share what’s going on in real time and in the ways in which we are addressing issues, utilizing tools, learning lessons—rather than waiting until we conquered whatever mountain we were facing—and then victoriously celebrating and sharing with everyone all of the ways in which we did so.

Vulnerability says share it while you’re going through it.

It’s great, awesome, noble, and every reason to celebrate, when you can say that you wiped out your debt, or rebounded from any type of hardship, and then can share with other people how you did it so that they can learn from your lessons, and utilize the tools that you used. That is vulnerability.

What’s also a state of vulnerability is if you share while you’re in the trenches, sharing what you’re going through and what steps you’re taking to rectify it, what lessons you’re learning right now, and asking for guidance and counsel in the midst of the storm. You don’t have to share how deep in debt you are to be vulnerable. You don’t have to show people how and where you’re living in your state of homelessness. You don’t have to boo hoo and rant about how you got there and play the blame game, or internalize things in shame. It’s just sharing that you’re in this valley and understanding that this too is okay. It’s a lesson not a death sentence. It’s a humanizing experience. One that could possibly save someone else’s life.

How many people commit suicide because they don’t see another way out, or another solution to the overwhelming problems that suffocate them? Think of the countless people who steal and rob to put food on the table, provide for their family, without a thought or care about who it negatively impacts, because they are too overwhelmed by the lack they are experiencing. They see little to no other options. Yes, we can say that’s just an excuse not a reason, but heck we all make reckless decisions based on the excuses we allow to play on repeat in our minds. Some of us just fear the consequences more than others.

Maybe the people in both examples never learned how to be vulnerable enough to share what they’re going through, to ask for help, and to position themselves around positive people who could help, protect, and uplift them. Maybe.

We’re so busy pretending and faking it til we make it, that we oftentimes feel like the only time we should speak of our adversity is after we’ve overcome it and now we’re kicking it on the other side, sipping sweet drinks and eating guac and chips, and we want others to celebrate what we accomplished. What we don’t realize, don’t consider is that we never know who we can be helping while we are also climbing out of that trench, pit, valley.

For those of you who believe in God, let me ask you this question…

Are we praising God only after we’re saved or are we praising Him while we’re being clobbered? Imagine sharing your unfolding testimony during the storm, afraid but confident that you’re going to see the other side, hopeful that you will see that rainbow and feel that warm sunshine after the storm ends. Imagine how that message, testimony, vulnerable declaration could possibly help someone else, save someone, grab ahold of their heart and stop them from making a life-ending decision.

What if we could’ve made better decisions had someone else been vulnerable enough to share their valley experience and we learned from taking steps right along or right behind them.

It’s like the YouTube videos where people have an issue and they start troubleshooting and seeing if they can fix it, and you’re watching them blunder and try again, until either they get it or they say they will try a different approach and ask you to check out their next video. And if the first one was intriguing you hurry and click on the next video and you find yourself drawn into their troubleshooting experience until they get it right or give up, or you give up. But do you see what I’m saying? It’s like we have a tendency to want to see and feed off of success stories and we only like the hard knock life stories that resulted in success, and that’s what we gravitate to versus looking for stories where people are trying to figure it out and we’re learning from them as their learning these lessons.

People get frustrated with all of the famous business minds that can’t recall step-by-step how they made it. And that’s because they wrote their books after they made it. Imagine if they documented their lives while they were going through their uphill battle. Imagine had they kept a blog or a journal and wrote about the failures and mistakes, blunders, rejections and then they shared it either in real time or shared it later once they were a success story, and they could say “Here’s excerpts from my journals for the past X number of years”. But so many people don’t do that or if they do have journals they are too fearful to be vulnerable enough to share excerpts from those journals for you to be able to peer into their mind and heart at that point in their life.

It’s hard to believe that certain people who admit to having a journal, now, didn’t seem to have one back then to reflect upon and share what was going on in their life. I think some people just don’t want to share. And guess what? It’s their right and their life, and they can choose to share what they want to share, or not. Just because we would like to know something doesn’t mean we are entitled to the information. I was just pondering the odds of them not having a journal 10, 20, 30, 50 years ago when they were struggling. Heck, but honestly, would most of us really want to go back and read all of our journals to then extract content that could be relevant and helpful to potential readers, who may or may not purchase our books? I highly doubt it. Some of us who could potentially see the value of it might, but I think the majority of us would not.

That is in a lot of ways what the reality TV shows of the late 1990s initially hooked us with. We got to watch peoples lives unfolding and adjusting and we could relate in so many ways. Then it became the nonsense that has evolved to the absolute trash that so many people seem to be entertained by today. I don’t get it because it’s not authentic, truth, real, or vulnerable. It’s just over sharing and pretending, telling lies, playing games, and acting a fool for a paycheck. Viewers are so entertained by the lies that now they don’t know what’s truth. Everywhere we turn folks are telling lies—online, in schools, businesses, government and politics, houses of worship, magazines, newspapers, press conferences. We’re being told and shown what other folks think we want to hear and see.

Can you decipher the truth?

When I think of reality tv personalities and the lies they tell and buffoonery they display, maybe they do it because their authentic selves aren’t dramatic enough to generate higher ratings. But then again, why do we need drama to be intrigued by someone’s story? I was asked to take part in a docuseries of sorts that would share with the world my life from ages 20 to 30, navigating the toxic world and toxic relationships interwoven in the music industry. Two producers who interviewed me said that my personality and how I conducted myself wasn’t as dramatic as the other women involved in the project, and like other women in “reality tv”, and they would have to figure out how to pitch me. I told them I wouldn’t act or put on a show, I wouldn’t be anyone or anything but my authentic self and if that wasn’t good enough then I wasn’t meant to be a part of that project.

Lawd, when the sizzle reel was sent to me I almost fell out of my seat. I watched the video several times and I just kept shaking my head and saying, “No”. There was no way in, on, or around the world that I could take part in this overly-dramatized concoction that was being whipped up to serve as entertainment. I respectfully withdrew my interest and said that I would share my story in another way, because I’m here to help not harm, uplift not tear down, bring light not darkness, clarity not confusion. My story, my truth, will not be pimped or poisoned.

What if people just opened up and shared their truth, allowing themselves to be vulnerable, without the bravado and arrogance, buffoonery, pretense, dramatics, and Billy bad butt tendencies? Imagine the healing that could envelope them and spread outward to others.

Just a thought.

~ Natasha

Copyright 2022. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

I decided to add some flavor to this post by using my Bitmoji’s to visually express what I’m thinking and feeling. I don’t know if you or someone else will relate to my message. I don’t know if it will help you, but I hope it helps someone while it works on helping me. Are you ready to begin? Then let’s do this!

Starting today I’m focused and committed to …

I can’t count on anyone else to take care of me in all the ways that I need, or even in all of the ways that I care for others. And that’s okay.

My self-care is vital to my survival, mission, and calling. I can’t take care of anyone else if I’m neglecting myself. If I die today everyone and everything will be left as they are. So I can’t walk around feeling guilty for lovingly saying…

Or “No” or “Not today” or “Not this year” or “Thank you but no thank you”.

Because if I weren’t alive those same people couldn’t ask me. Right?!? I mean some folks would probably DM or text me not knowing I had passed away, because they only hit me up when they need an endorsement, donation, or help in some other way. You know exactly what I’m talking about, you have some of those folks in your life too. Funny thing, it might be you!

I have to keep reminding myself what my therapist told me years ago— I have to “set healthy boundaries with everyone and stop erasing those boundary lines to accommodate people and then get upset when they cross the line,” and remember that “A giver always attracts takers”. So I have to be okay with respectfully telling someone…

Whenever I feel pressure mounting and begin realizing that I’m being clobbered spiritually, emotionally, and physically, I’ve learned that I’m leaning too much on the natural and not enough on God, so it’s imperative that I get realigned. I’m at that point.

I’m not writing this message because it’s a new year. Not for some daggum resolution. But because I’m only given one life in this one body. I only have 24 hours in a day and can only safely take in 17 of those hours, because at least seven of those 24 hours I’m supposed to be resting and recharging. Little by little, day by day, I’ve been growing into this realization that enough’s enough. Like, when people say “are you sick and tired of being sick and tired?” And you sit there nodding your head up and down in the affirmative, wondering “how did they know?

I saw a post on Instagram that said that, pandemic aside, if people’s homes brought them peace and tranquillity they would rarely leave. The video had images of the person’s apartment, all plush and inviting. It went on to say that you see folks rushing to go to bars and this place and that place, basically anywhere, because they can’t stand the clutter and chaos of their home, or maybe it’s lacking the positive energy that they desperately crave.

Many of us have laughed at jokes and stories about people who get off of work and find every excuse to not drive straight home, sitting as long as possible in shopping center parking lots, slow-creeping, like a snail, taking forever to get out of the car and trying to take as long as possible to enter the door of their home?

Yeah, see I don’t want that. I don’t want to slow-creep at any point of my day. A casual stroll in the park or on the beach, yes I will take that. But where I rest my head should bring me peace. Whether I call it my home or just a place where I’m staying, it should be filled with peace. I want to rush there and be enveloped in its warmth and coziness. I want to inhale its healing essence.

But something that also comes to mind is how many people are working like crazy to have the house, cars, bling, and all of the stuff that screams success but then they’re too busy working to appreciate all of it? I mean, you have a pool and tennis court but you rarely use them. That sucks!

So that means that starting today, I’m reclaiming me and all that that means. It means fully embracing my positive femininity and dropkicking the toxic chick down the road. I want to embrace the fullness of my strength that comes from grace and dignity. Reclaiming me means obsessing less on that stupid hustle and grind nonsense for some crap I can’t take with me into the hereafter. I will do what I can with all that I can, and then I’m tapping out until the next designated day. I’m not here to compete to see who can slave away more hours in a 24-hour day. The most successful people have actually mastered getting more done in less time. It’s the rest of us who are clamoring to take part in the circus. I take no pleasure in killing myself and advertising it online or trying to rationalize it to my Creator.

Reclaiming me also means more focus on my dreams and taking in the daily gifts of this world. Time for nature, travel, exercise, game-play, pampering, and eating healthier— because let me keep it real with y’all, my vegetarian lifestyle has oh so been hijacked with processed junk over the past several months.

Let’s be clear, I’m not reclaiming with ultimatums or brute force. I’m not about to act a fool with you or anyone else over my peace of mind. I’m also not about to waste my time with long and drawn out pity parties. I will follow the rules I learned from a Mary Kay director in 2003. She said something to the effect of, “Set a timer for however minutes you need. Have your pity party and when that timer goes off, your party comes to an end”. I used to practice this all of the time and it worked. It gave me the moments I needed to fuss and cry, stomp around, shout, sob like crazy…

And then I would exhale, clean up my face, look around and see the world hasn’t ended, and then with gratitude in my heart, I would proceed with my day. Those moments were cleansing. They helped me flush out the energy that was trapped inside, rather than walk around all bottled up. Try it yourself and tell me what you think.

By the way, you know that the inflammation that is killing so many of us is trapped unprocessed toxic energy, right?

Another benefit to the timed pity parties is that it took less time and was safer than the long drives I would take on Pacific Coast Highway looking at the ocean and having a meltdown behind the wheel. I used to drive for hours. I mean don’t get me wrong you can have an amazing purge of energy at the beach. But ummm you need to park the car, not scream and cry while trying not to swerve into lanes of traffic.

I’ve known some things for years that I have struggled with and gotten counseling for, and read countless books on, but haven’t fully overcome. And that is, that I’ve given and sacrificed, lifted, protected, supported, nurtured, encouraged, sponsored, loved on, prayed for, poured into, and enabled a whole lotta folks—all while neglecting myself. This is something that we find countless women suffering through, oftentimes in silence.

I’ve been everything for everyone else, except myself. I’ve showed up for everyone else, except myself. I’ve been the biggest cheerleader for everyone else, except myself. I’ve invested in others but not enough in myself. I’ve promoted the heck out of other people’s businesses but not my own. I know some of you are guilty of doing the same thing. Don’t walk around carrying the shame. Recognize the err of your ways and then counter-correct.

I’ve watched myself disappear at times. I’ve watched myself shrivel and gasped in horror as parts of me began to die. The good parts. There have been times when I stopped recognizing lil’ ‘ole me…All the while I carried someone else, furthered someone else’s mission and vision, and helped someone else live out their dreams. Does this sound like someone you know?

That’s why I started picking up hobbies like hiking, crocheting, genealogy, puzzles, card games, learning new languages, and other interesting stuff—to make deposits back into me! What fun things are you focusing time and energy on to redeposit back into yourself?

I’m even reimagining where and how I want my next home. I’m tired of aligning to accommodate other people. I want what my heart and soul want and what I want is peace, joy, and tranquility. So I will make my space as I see fit. God’s providing me with the GPS and I’m excited about the adventure that awaits me.

I’m no martyr. I have no desire to be. I’m just a big-hearted empath that gives without expecting anything in return, and I give until I’m tapped out, drained, and limp. I don’t have healthy boundaries. I struggle with saying “No”. Then I get butt-hurt when someone takes advantage of me, when someone keeps taking because I keep giving. That’s not their fault. I just need to learn how to establish and enforce my rules of engagement, hours of operation, and how to focus on what I’m supposed to (like I shared in Episode 56 of the Don’t Call It Small…Business podcast). Maybe this reminds you of you or someone else that you love.

I love myself too much to be a shell of who God made me to be and called me to be. I’ve turned things and people into substitutes for Him. I’ve given things and people more attention than Him. I’ve ignored Him to rush to someone else. I’ve ignored Him thinking I was obediently following Him. I’ve ignored Him and involved myself in relationships that He had to shut down because I was too loyal and committed to walk away. My health problems over the years are from my neglect, from ignoring signs, from not taking care of me. How many of you are walking around ignoring the signs that your body is clearly sending you? How many of you are deferring that annual checkup and making excuses for why it can wait?

Whether you understand or not, can handle it or not, today and moving forward, I will be joyfully oblivious to anything that is not on God’s To-Do List for me. I will be unsubscribing from the drama. I will be tuning out the negativity and ignorance.

You can argue with your daggum self. You can have an attitude and give me the silent treatment. You can un-friend me, unsubscribe, block, do whatever. It’s all good. Because none of those things are on my To-Do List.

And there will be days where I’m going to be so focused on what I need to do to be a better person and servant of God, that I’m not going to even notice if aliens are morphing and finally letting us see they’ve been living next door (or under the same roof). I may be too focused to even do a double-take if the dinosaurs start resurrecting. Because guess what? It ain’t on my To-Do List.

I love you all and I hope and pray that you’re loving on yourself too. You can’t truly and fully love others until you learn to truly and fully love yourself.

~Natasha

Copyright 2022. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

Did you know there are psychological reasons for self-sabotage? There is absolute truth in the saying that we are our own worst enemy, and self-sabotage manifests all of the darkest thoughts and energy that are trapped within us. The thoughts that run rampage through our minds, uncontrolled, and not managed, are bound to take over and repeat the worst possible messaging that we could ever imagine about ourselves, our loved ones, and the world. Self-sabotage manifests through procrastination, being super self-critical, defaulting to destructive coping mechanisms like drugs and alcohol, and other derailing acts.

All of this leads to imposter syndrome.

Oh the dreaded imposter syndrome that soooo many of us, especially a disproportionate number of women, suffer from and struggle with. I remember when I sat in one of my doctoral residency sessions and a professor that was serving as one of the facilitators told us that there would be times when we felt like imposters, that we somehow weren’t qualified, didn’t deserve to be there, didn’t deserve the things we accomplished and earned, that even after we earned our doctorates, we would find ourselves feeling this way. How true indeed he was.

I’ve struggled professionally on and off for years whenever my confidence takes a whooping. When I have slow-paying clients or clients who want to pay me less but expect the highest quality of work, I feel my energy begin to drain. Over the years, I’ve considered shutting down my company more times than I can count. I’ve felt exhausted about the idea of marketing myself and my company to compete with others for projects, clients, and jobs, because with all of that also comes the shrinking feeling that I’m not good enough, I need to gain more experience, if only I had this or that, etcetera etcetera. When our confidence is lacking it becomes much easier to self-sabotage.

There are thousands and thousands of us struggling with imposter syndrome, constantly playing tug-of-war with the voice in our head that says, “No you didn’t and no you’re not” every time you give yourself credit for your successes. How many of you are quick to say that something is “…too good to be true” and you run for the hills to avoid being let down? Rather than see things through you begin to intentionally disrupt the flow, create blocks, drag your feet, and make excuses to not do something.

The idea of finally getting all that you deserve for the hard work and sacrifices you have made, turns into horror because the tape that stays on constant loop in your mind, tells you that you don’t actually deserve it and you haven’t sacrificed enough, and that better you’re looking at isn’t actually better, it’s a facade. So rather than pursue your dream you hide from it. Rather than close that deal you throw a monkey wrench in it and someone else takes the victory. Rather than clinching the gold medal you slow down in the race and settle for bronze. Instead of having the love of your life you settle for the jerk who tells you they’re the best you will ever get.

There was a study conducted in the UK that uncovered that over 80 percent of men and 90 percent of women (who participated) suffer from imposter syndrome but only about 25 percent of those men and women are actually aware of this. In a study conducted by researchers from Harvard Business School and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, women are much more likely to downplay their achievements in the workplace, and more likely to rate themselves considerably lower than men in how well they think they performed on an aptitude test. There was also a study that revealed that women struggle with accepting praise and compliments for their achievements, abilities, and skills.

The knee-jerk reaction many women default to is either downplaying or ignoring the compliment, or on the other end of the spectrum they reply with comments like, “I know” that make them seem over-the-top or too confident, which is translated in the female brain as “you’re arrogant”. Many men, on the other hand, would see it as a compliment if someone called them “too confident” or over-the-top. Just as we have heard plenty of men correct someone who called them arrogant, and in reply the man said, “No, I’m just really confident”. Of course this isn’t all men. When imposter syndrome kicks into warp speed, self-sabotage jumps in the ring for a tag team, and many men fall prey to the attack.

Intrusive thoughts are the culprit. Our mind is our enemy. Below please find a screenshot that may actually reflect your own thinking about how qualified or professionally adequate you think are.

Source: https://www.thehubevents.com/resources/impostor-syndrome-survey-results

Do you admit to experiencing intrusive thoughts? Do you believe your success is based on your hard work or because of luck? Why do you think you got your job or most recent promotion? Do you worry that one day someone is going to realize you’re under qualified, just an imposter? Do you think that you deserve the praise and compliments you receive at work?

Think about how many of us stay in dead-end jobs and in dead-end relationships because the thoughts in our minds convince us that we don’t deserve better and we’re incapable of achieving greater.

“The source of self-sabotage is part of a common ancestral and evolutionary adaptation that has allowed us to persevere as a species in the first place,” writes Judy Ho in Psychology Today. So what’s hijacking our minds and how is it doing it? Plainly put, just like there’s no difference between good stress (achieving goals or laughing hysterically) and bad stress (experiencing trauma or grief) our minds don’t distinguish between striving for and feeling good accomplishing goals versus running for our lives trying to avoid a perceived threat. These two realms play patty-cake on a seesaw all day every day. However, whenever fear begins to prevail and the flight mechanism kicks in, we start to lean more towards self-sabotage.

Judy Ho said that there are four elements driving this force within us:

  • Lack of belief in our self-identity,
  • Internalized negative beliefs about our own talents, skills, or abilities,
  • A fear of change or a fear of the unknown, and
  • A need for control

Imagine all four elements running wild in your mind at the exact same time. I’ve personally experienced it and there’s no words to describe the trauma that you undergo when all of that negative energy comes flooding in. In order to get a better handle on our thoughts and emotions, and how they manifest, we need to look closely at the four elements and understand where the feelings are coming from.

Source: https://thebestyoumagazine.co/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/stressss-1038×584.jpg

With so many of us working from home, even before the pandemic, imposter syndrome is always a nagging presence in our lives. According to life coach, Rebecca Lockwood, those subconscious thoughts of our inadequacies and state of lack are more likely to culminate and overwhelm us in the isolating environment that our homes create, because we don’t have any counter-active energy from co-workers, managers, employees, to help us break down the negative thoughts. You’re alone and you feel that aloneness, and those bullying thoughts can take over and cause havoc to our minds. That means we have to exercise more positive thoughts and energy into our lives to flex those mental muscles to deviate from our go-to trap door of shame. If that means plastering your work space with positive affirmations, vision boards, and photos that highlight your successes and accomplishments, then do it. We also must ensure that when those thoughts come knocking on our mental door, if we can’t quickly silence them, then we need to get up and remove ourselves from our workspace to clear our mind. It may require a brisk walk around the neighborhood, switching to an activity that requires your mind to do something completely different than the task you were working on, or listening to some uplifting music or messaging. It’s not like working in the office where you can quickly reach out to a colleague and find yourself engrossed by a conversation that distracts you from what your mind wanted you focused on. At home you must be creative with your combat tactics.

how do we attack imposter syndrome to reduce and eliminate self-sabotage?

  1. Have clear expectations of what you need to achieve and be honest with yourself and others if and when you need help. Shake off that need for control.
  2. Identify and take captive your negative thoughts and speech: Catch yourself before your mind and mouth run away from you. Remember, it all starts on the inside and spews outward. There is power in our words. And yes my friends, thoughts are things. Catch it, address it, and speak truth to the lies you’re telling yourself.
  3. Steer clear of the comparison trap: Stop stop stop comparing yourself to other people; heck, stop comparing yourself to your old you, your old accomplishments, and how great you used to be at something a long time ago. Focus on your strengths and if someone else is stronger where you are weak, then leverage their strengths for your team’s success. Don’t sabotage a potentially great thing.
  4. Flip “Can’t” into “Why Not”: empower yourself by asking yourself “Why not” every time a negative thought tries to hack your mind and tell you that you can’t do something. You can find more powerful words and strategies to counter the nonsense flowing your way.
  5. Determine how you want to receive feedback: if you’re sensitive to critiques and find them more like criticism, or you find any comment that doesn’t feel complimentary as being a harsh critique, try to establish ground rules. This is especially necessary when feedback comes in writing. Emails and text messages have caused countless explosive arguments. As soon as you can speak voice-to-voice, do so and lead with a desire for clarity rather than assume the worse, and go on attack.
  6. Have goals and a vision for where you want to go and what you want to accomplish: by having goals or a roadmap you can reassure yourself whenever your mind wants to lead you astray. By seeing that finish line, that goal date, we can pump ourselves up and get our minds focused on the chartered course ahead.

Hopefully this information can help you prepare your strategy for kicking self-sabotage in the butt in 2022. When you finally bury it let me know!

~Natasha

Copyright 2021. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

Leading up to and throughout this road trip, I told myself and others that I was going to watch the sun rise over the Grand Canyon. Well, I woke up just shy of 6:30am and I looked at my weather app just to discover that it was 30-something degrees outside. I cleared my throat, pulled my weighted blanket (that I traveled with) up over my shoulders, and watched the sun rise through my daggum hotel window. Yep, I wasn’t having it. No way no how. I hadn’t packed cold weather gear so I was definitely not about to try and freeze the last bit of sense I had left in my brain.

Uncle Michael told me that he was going to get himself some breakfast. I continued relaxing a bit and after I showered and dressed, I made my way down to grub on some hotel food. As we were passing each other, my uncle said, “heads up” and I remember him telling me that the eggs on one side was hotter than the other, but I had forgotten which side by the time I got out of the elevator. I just wanted food.

I spent some quality time eating and people watching, enjoying the amazing energy of one of the hotel workers who went above and beyond to help guests (and reduce the amount of people crammed together trying to get certain food items). It was awesome seeing so many people there, clearly visiting for the same reason I was there, to take in as much of that majestic energy that the Grand Canyon harnessed. There were families visiting, casual hikers, and extreme hikers (or at least they had extreme gear strapped to them). Once I was done eating and taking in all of the busyness, I went to my room, gathered my stuff and headed to the front desk to check out.

Grand Canyon

My uncle and I drove the short one mile to the entry gate and was pleasantly surprised that not only would we receive a discount to enter, thanks to his Veteran’s status, but he got a free pass to all of the National Parks for an entire year. Isn’t that awesome?!? I asked him if he would be ready for some road trips come spring time.

After parking and wondering why people brought their small dogs with them—ummm can you say wild animal snacks?— we decided on the route we wanted to take.

I called my mom and she said, “Oh you guys are actually at the Grand Canyon? I thought you were just driving by”. I looked at my phone and I was like, “ummm how do you just drive by?” and then quickly pivoted the conversation before she went off on me. After a few laughs I got off of the phone and uncle Michael and I hopped on the orange shuttle, and oh my goodness, only God could have created something as beautiful as what we took in that day. It’s one thing to see pictures and videos of the Grand Canyon, it’s something totally different, soul-stirring, a song to your spirit, when you see it in person.

Oh and for clarification, all of those jaw-dropping images you see online and in books, are of the south part of the Grand Canyon, the South Rim, which is in Arizona. Not the Nevada side. No knock to Nevada, it’s just a different topography up that-a-which-away. The North Rim is less accessible because it’s like 1,000 feet higher than the South Rim. It’s also not open year-round like the South Rim, and that’s because it snows like crazy in the North Rim.You can access it if you’re a hiker or cross country skier, and have a backcountry permit.

We took a shuttle to see South Kaibab Trail. It begins with a series of switchbacks called “the chimney”. During the winter months you can find ice in this area. What I didn’t know, until after I had made it home with my postcard that I had purchased is that there are Zoroaster and Brama temples perched majestically across from the Mormon Flats on the South Kaibab Trail. The Grand Canyon is hundreds of millions of years old with just as many mysteries nestled in those nooks and crannies.

After spending some quality time at South Kaibab Trail, we hopped on another shuttle and went to Yaki Point.

Now, if I had been there for a hiking trip, I would have hiked to all of these stops. Oh and if I was traveling with someone other than my uncle. He’s not the hiking type. Take him fishing or camping in a controlled-environment (not something as open and wild as the Grand Canyon, for instance) and he’s in his element. He wasn’t playing with these wild animals. Arizona has mountain lions, coyotes, foxes, bats, elk (as I mentioned yesterday), bison, condors, deer, and big horn sheep.

And the most dangerous animals happen to be some of the smallest, those rock squirrels will take you out. You can think they’re cute all you want, you might find yourself cliff-diving without a parachute or in a social media video that’s gone viral because you’re battling Rocky from Rocky and Bullwinkle.

Uncle Michael and I were looking at people like they had a death wish. One woman kept trying to get as close to the edge of the cliff and the other women that were with her kept saying, “Okay stop you have gone far enough” and she kept saying, “I’m fine it’s okay, I’ve got this”. My uncle and I turned around and walked away, both agreeing that if her silly butt got snatched by a gust of wind, we didn’t want to be there to witness the horror.

Epic Fail Falling GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

We rolled our eyes when we saw people with their cameras say, “Ooh look at that” and they were trying to get close enough to take photos of animals. I just knew that one of them was going to say “Ooh I wonder if it will let me pet it”. It never fails. There’s always one who wants to take things to the extreme, like they’re gonna get a show with National Geographic or something.

Uncle Michael and I took plenty of pictures and he even had his fancy camera, snapping away and capturing some beautiful images. The photos you see here are all taken by me with my iPhone. I recorded videos and even tried to FaceTime and WhatsApp video call with my mom and sister, so they could get a sneak peek, but no can do. It was as though the canyon said, “Naw sista, not here”. When I was able to call them later, my mom said, “They probably block service so folks can’t see the Grand Canyon for free”. Haaa my mom is hilarious.

We took one more shuttle and visited Pipecreek Vista. I did want to make two more stops but being mindful of the time and how long we still had left of our road trip, we caught another shuttle back to the visitor’s center. Then we went to the conservatory gift shop.

There I bought a postcard (that I mentioned earlier) and a National Parks passport book. I felt like a big kid when my passport got stamped, marking my visit. My uncle purchased these cool wooden walking sticks for my mom and my aunt Valerie (their sister). The sticks disassemble into three pieces that simply attach my screwing them together. So it made it possible to travel with them. Pretty cool! He also purchased my sister something and got me the Adventure Edition of the Road Atlas. It has all of the state and national parks, and national monuments highlighted. I can’t wait for my next adventure. Oh yeah!

Leaving the Grand Canyon

I won’t lie, I wish I could have stayed there the entire day. Before leaving I had already planned in my mind a return trip next year. I’m thinking that three or four days would do the trick.

I have one other place in Flagstaff I want to spend several hours visiting, so I want to spread my trip out so that it’s not rushed. It’s roughly a seven-hour drive from southern California.

Even if I flew into Flagstaff that would still require renting a car and driving 81 miles. That’s the closest option because I don’t think there is an airport in Williams, which is 60 miles away. The Flagstaff flight could work if I wanted to spend more time at the Grand Canyon and in Arizona, and I wasn’t doing an all-out multi-state road trip. Hmmm…this travel option is sounding better and better the more I think about it.

Cali-bound

I hopped behind the wheel of my SUV and we moseyed down the road, hopped on the highway, refueled at a trucker’s stop, and grabbed something to eat. We were slated to reach sunny southern California later that evening. My uncle took some awesome photos as I drove through Arizona and into California.

Once we crossed that California border we had 346 miles until we reached our destination. I got excited when when hit I-15 South because I knew we were roughly two hours away home. We pulled in around 8:45pm, tired and hungry, Thankfully, my sister had prepared us a meal that had me salivating like crazy.

Reflection

I enjoyed this road trip. Even the rough parts that had me nervous and at times scared of becoming a road bump for a big rig. Would I do it again? Yes. I’m not sure what has changed within me, but I went from declaring in 2012 “No more road trips longer than eight hours” to saying in 2021, “Okay let’s do this!” So here’s to my next road trip. Stay tuned, one’s coming soon. You will never believe where I’m headed to next!

~Natasha

Copyright 2021. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

Okay so picking up on where we left off on this cross-country road trip from Georgia to California, I left Georgia listening to my Sirius XM channel 50, and I was doing great on time. I was hitting my miles and reaching my state targets right on time. I kept my weather app accessible and I ensured I had written directions, in case I hit a dead zone with my cell phone. I was glad that I waited to leave Atlanta at 7:30am because Alabama did have some high winds and I wouldn’t have been able to see debris on the roads and highways in the darkness.

I hit Birmingham right on time, snapped a photo of the rain hitting my windshield in Winfield, the highway signs below the dark clouds in Tupelo, and it was soon after that photo that one of my jams came cranking through my car speakers. It’s interesting how many cities and towns throughout the US are named after Biblical places, such as Corinth.

About an hour later I was in Byhalia, never heard of it, but I knew that keeping straight was leading me to Memphis.

Memphis

I thought that I would stop and have lunch at a restaurant on Beale Street. So I hopped off the highway and cruised over to Beale Street. I snapped some photos because you never know what changes can take place in a short period of time. What I didn’t factor into this great detour idea of mine, was the yucky weather and having to park my car and walk in the rain, in pursuit of some yummy food that this newly-converted vegetarian would have to track down. It was just too much going on so I scrapped the idea and convinced myself to grab something in Arkansas. So I hopped back on the highway. drove over the Mississippi River and crossed into Arkansas. I knew that I had 123 miles to get to Little Rock.

Arkansas

I’m really not sure what I thought I was going to find in Arkansas. What are they known for, food-wise? Heck if I know, and guess what? Once you leave Memphis, the next McDonald’s isn’t along that route for another whopping 25+ miles. I knew I wasn’t going to stop at Subway and soon I realized I done messed up now. But I kept driving and kept singing with channel 50. I arrived in Forrest City and saw the Mc D’s on N. Washington Street, across the street from the gas station I had eyeballed.

What in the world??? That’s all I can really say. They didn’t even put a full slice of cheese on my sandwich. I mean it’s not like they had to rush or anything. There was only one car in front of me when I pulled up and no cars behind me when I ordered, paid at the first window, and collected my food at the second window. It was 3:30 pm local time and my sandwich said to me, “Howdy, I’ve been waiting for you!” because that is exactly what it tasted like. My fries were okay. I decided to do something I rarely do, I completed one of their online surveys, explaining my disappointment.

After leaving there and filling up my tank, sticking to my routine of not letting the gas level drop below half a tank, I got back on the highway. I noticed that I lost some time with my shenanigans. Now it was no longer saying that I would arrive in Oklahoma City by 8pm local time. The clock was inching up and now saying 10pm. Yikes, how in the world did I lose two hours? I hadn’t been sitting there for that long. Uugh, the Beale Street loop-da-loop coupled with this stop, and it factored in something I didn’t see coming.

Traffic Jam Parking Lot

Thank goodness for my Waze app for alerting me to a major traffic jam on I-40. I guess there was construction and looky-loos, and a bunch of fools on the highway, because the re-route that Waze provided was roughly 12 miles long. It wasn’t a quick re-route, but thankfully it took me through a really beautiful community in Arkansas. I was too busy chatting it up on the phone with my aunt Valerie to remember to take some photos, or note my location. Just know that it was the perfect detour. At first it had me and my aunt nervous, thinking that I was about to take a scenic drive through no-man’s land. If I hadn’t paid attention to the detour alert I would have been stuck in that traffic jam (that looked like a parking lot on Black Friday) for a long time. It was over 10 miles deep according to the alerts on Waze. I felt sorry for anyone stuck in the middle and running low on fuel or in need of a restroom.

Crazy Weather

The weather in Arkansas had gotten rough at times, the winds were intense, and anyone who has driven a high profile vehicle, you know the more exposed surface you have the more you’re risking with crosswinds, etc. Those little cars were just zooming by and I knew why. They have a lower center of gravity and a smaller surface area. I was watching huge trucks, big rigs and other high profile vehicles swaying and drifting across lanes, and that meant I was going to have to slow myself down big time to keep a safe distance from them. When the sun set things really started to get intense and I found myself dropping my speed down to 40 mph in some areas.

Ft. Smith

After passing Little Rock Arkansas I had 313 miles to Ft. Smith. I knew that the closer I got to Ft. Smith that I was closer to Oklahoma City, because Ft. Smith is near the border of Arkansas and Oklahoma.

Oklahoma

I started driving past highway exits with names I recognized, and when I saw the Indian Nation Turnpike, I knew that I was near the towns my maternal grandparents were born and raised. I knew I only had 1.5 hours to get to my aunt’s house. You would think that once I reached that point that it would be smooth sailing into Oklahoma City. But it wasn’t. It was dark. I mean real dark. And the wind and rain decided to play tag with me. All while I’m navigating the construction zones that they don’t ever seem done improving. It started feeling like I was in an old school pinball machine, just zigging left and right, on pavement then off, with the blinding headlights of vehicles and big rigs zooming by on the other side of the highway.

It also didn’t help that I got on the phone with my maternal grand aunt, Mary, and told her that although I planned to surprise her that day, I was now four hours behind my initial planned arrival time. It would be too late to swing by her house and even if I did, I knew I wouldn’t have enough energy to then backtrack to my aunt Valerie’s house. It wasn’t telling aunt Mary this that made this final stretch of the trip difficult. It was the fact that my aunt Mary has one of the most soothing voices I’ve ever heard, and after an hour of chatting with her on the phone, I found myself getting too relaxed and I thought I would fall asleep. I had to tell my beloved aunt that I had to get off of the phone. As soon as I did, I cranked up the music and told my body to get it together. I pulled up to my aunt Valerie’s at 11:55pm.

Day 2

The next day I had a companion. My maternal uncle, Michael. Yep, he was riding with me the rest of the way to California and was down for whatever. So after a stop at Dunkin Donuts and then the gas station to refuel, we hit I-40 heading for Amarillo, Texas. I no longer eat steak, but I had to snap a photo of “The Big Texan Steak Ranch” that had a full parking lot at almost 3pm. My uncle Michael drove and I rode shotgun.

New Mexico

We crossed the Texas-New Mexico border, entering Hereford. Did you know that New Mexico is called the “Land of Enchantment”? I know one thing, it’s a heck of a drive, because you’re going across the entire width of the state. That’s what zapped me when driving through Arkansas. It’s different when you’re clipping parts of state. Cutting straight across or down, depending on the side of the state, can feel brutal. Once you enter New Mexico it’s 529 miles of desert. 

After my uncle had made it a “good ways” into Albuquerque, I convinced him that I knew how to drive, and that he could pull off and switch places. He had driven all day and I wanted to ensure he wasn’t taking his road warrior status too far. He clearly still saw me as a young teenager, because not only did he pass up several nearby gas stations and parking lots to pull over, he drove one mile off the highway, and turned into the parking lot of a mall, then positioned my SUV so that it was pointing in the direction of the highway, and then proceeded to tell me how to leave the parking lot. Like we were out there doing a behind-the-wheel driving session. I had to remind him that I had been driving for decades. Hilarious!

Arizona

Once entering Arizona I knew I had 348 miles before I would reach the exit that I needed to head to our hotel at the Grand Canyon. In your mind, you see the signs and you tell yourself, “I will be there soon” but boy howdy, if you have never driven to the Grand Canyon, let me tell you, oooh wee, do it during the daytime because at night it was cuh-razy!

I took SR-64 drove 28 miles then another 22 miles on US-180. Ummm yeah, so several miles before reaching the Grand Canyon village, you forget that you’re out there with some real animals, I mean like more than snakes and coyotes. We drove by something that was grazing by the roadside. At first my uncle said it was a moose and then he was like, wait that couldn’t have been a moose. Then it was like one minute later and why did we see a huge elk? I mean huge. I mean, it was so huge that if it had changed it’s mind about hopping up the side of the embankment, and instead decided to turn around and charge at my SUV for being a nuisance, it could have knocked us clear off the road. It’s antlers looked to be as wide as the front of my car. And before you ask, heck no we didn’t stop to take a photo. I will say, the elk in Arizona are eating well and living good.

We pulled up to our hotel at 11:55pm beating the 12am cut-off which would have been a late check-in headache of sorts. Not sure what exactly, I’m just glad that I didn’t have to deal with it. I’m also glad that they honored my uncle’s Veteran status and gave us a discounted rate. Hey now!

Tomorrow I will share photos from the Grand Canyon, and then my reflection of the final leg of this three-day trip.

~Natasha

Copyright 2021. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

If you’re doing God’s work on all of the religious days that you recognize, but doing the Devil’s work on all or most of the other days, then who are you truly worshiping and serving?

God said that we can’t serve two masters, one we will will hate and the other we will love, or one we will be devoted to and the other one we will despise [Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13]. That’s the conflict of interest tug-of-war. Who will you choose to love, be devoted to, and serve?

~ Natasha L. Foreman

Copyright 2021. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

It’s been too long since I last had something to say, something to share with all of you. Sure, I post to social media, but it’s not the same as engaging with you through this blog. I apologize for my lack of presence. This year has been troubling, scary, rocky, and at times extremely chaotic for me. I have been split between two coasts since March of this year.

I won’t divulge my personal situation and drama here, just know that I haven’t been missing because I lost my zest for blogging. If you follow my Breaking Bread With Natasha blog, you already know that Monday through Friday you can find a post from me. That blog has helped me through my spiritual battles along this rugged path. I haven’t resumed hosting my Don’t Call It Small…Business podcast, as I had intended to do this past summer. But thanks to God, giving Him credit for what I’m about to do, I have found the time and space to get back on this saddle and return to regularly blogging and podcasting each week.

So what does all of this have to do with the title of today’s message? Well, let me share…

Last month was my birthday month. Woot woot! Yeah, I didn’t do anything big and fancy, but I did enjoy myself. I flew from California to Atlanta, two days before my birthday. I could only be in Atlanta until Wednesday evening, because I needed to ensure I was back in California by Saturday to celebrate my nephew’s birthday and my favorite holiday, Halloween. I keep my promises and nothing was going to keep me from getting back in time.

The travel to Atlanta wasn’t that bad. I met some pretty interesting people on both flights. On my first leg, I met a gentleman from Scotland, who I told we’re probably related, only because I have Scottish and Irish heritage. We chatted a bit before we both settled into our in-flight routines. Before getting off the plane we exchanged contact information. I’m hoping he will give me some historical and archival insights to better assist me with my genealogical journey. I had a quick layover in Houston and then hopped on my final leg to Atlanta. On that flight I sat next to two women, one a student who graduated from the University of Southern California, and is pursuing her Master’s degree at Emory University (which I excitedly shared that I taught there in 2014) and the other woman was in marketing, from the looks of her work deliverables she was cranking through.

At the end of the flight, the Emory student said that she was inspired sitting between two professional Black women, doing their thing, working passionately. That touched my heart. I wished her the best and I silently said a prayer for her. She is still trying to determine if she wants to pursue her MD or PhD, and I hope that whichever path she chooses, that she is positioned to give fully and passionately to help others.

I landed in Atlanta late that evening, wondering why I didn’t take the earlier non-stop flight, but then reminding myself of the people I met and connected with that day. I spent the next day running errands and stopping by to see a few friends, having lunch with two of my buddies who treated me to one of my favs, IHOP, and I had a quick catch-up session with another. Sadly, I had to reschedule with one of my friends because my day slipped by and we were playing tag-you’re-it.

Day three was my birthday and I won’t lie, it did not go as planned. Like nothing, absolutely nothing went as I had planned. I know what I had written down on my list and my well-mapped out plan, but Murphy’s Law decided to make a believer out of me in a real way. A friend of mine had gone with me to take my SUV to a mechanic and I was told that I needed a new tire for the front passenger side. See, I had a road trip planned for the next day, and I needed to ensure that my SUV was ready for the long ride. I rushed to get my tire replaced and found that some locations didn’t have mine in stock. I had a lunch scheduled with one of my friends and I had promised a friend (the one who followed me to the mechanic) that I would drop them off at the airport, because they were heading overseas for a month. Now this tire situation was causing issues. I had to cancel lunch and then was absolutely heartbroken to find out that I wasn’t just cancelling on my dear friend, but on three dear friends. Yep, she was surprising me with two other friends who were eager to see me.

My birthday was really sucking. Like, seriously.

I started reaching out to friends to see if anyone had connections with tire places, as my mind was all over the place. When you leave home for several months it’s definitely weird when you return, so much is familiar, yet much more leaves you dazed and confused. It didn’t take long to receive a return call telling me to head to Decatur and get there no later than 3:45pm to get my tire. Thank God for great friends. After dropping off one friend at the airport I rushed to Decatur and there I was planted for almost three hours. I was a walk-in so I knew the wait was inevitable. I was okay with that. But unfortunately, that meant cancelling meet-ups with one, two, three, and then four friends. It also meant cancelling swinging by the after school program I used to work for, as I really wanted to see my team members and the kiddies. But there just wasn’t enough time in my day.

It was 5:15pm and I was already exhausted, but determined!

Here’s a picture that I sent in my group text to my three gal pals, as I waited for my tire to be swapped out. I told them I was tired and a picture rarely lies!

One of the many things I love about one of my friends is their ability to find workarounds to situations. Since our original meet-up didn’t pan out, they drove to the tire center to meet me. That was the same friend that connected me with the tire center. What was their birthday gift to me? The new tire. Yes indeed. I was so happy. You can have the fancy, I will drive past you with my new tire, thank you very much! Standing outside we pondered how long it had been since we had seen each other, and were shocked that it had been some time early last year. I started thinking about my other friends, and this was the truth for many of them. Some of my friends I hadn’t seen in person since 2019, because this pandemic put a stop to the in-person connection at the start of 2020. That made cancelling on them suck even worse.

After my tire was swapped out I rushed into Atlanta to visit the mother of one of my friends. She and I had spoken by phone from time to time, but we hadn’t seen each other since February. I’ve grown extremely close to her over the years and we adopted each other, in a sense. She’s like another mother. I was determined that I would see and hug her, so I made it happen. There’s something super special about mothers, wouldn’t you agree?

After leaving her house with a bag filled with pastries (because she wasn’t going to let me not have cake for my birthday) I floored it to southwest Atlanta, rushing into the home of my friend and hairstylist, where she had dinner waiting and ready. We laughed and gossiped (ssssh don’t tell anyone) as I scarfed down my food. I couldn’t stay long because I had an online class to teach at 9pm and I couldn’t be late. Well needless to say, I was about five minutes late because she also surprised me with a birthday brownie and ice cream. It’s a tad bit difficult to scarf that down, but my students were more than accommodating because they knew it was my birthday. Class wrapped up at 10pm and I won’t lie, I was exhausted. I gave them my all. I poured every ounce of energy I had left into that class period. I was super hyped and they thanked me repeatedly for loving them enough to leave it all on the mat, as the saying goes. But I couldn’t afford to go straight to sleep after class, because I wasn’t done packing.

See, I had convinced myself to stick to my initial plan to hit the highway no later than 4:30am the next morning. I thought that if I left out at 4:30am I would arrive in Memphis in time for breakfast, relax and chill for a bit, and then get back on the highway. But as I just stated, I still hadn’t finished sorting and packing for the trip. The night before I had created my pack, donate, trash, storage piles, and because of the tire fiasco, it took longer than I anticipated to complete this task. That’s probably because I didn’t originally plan to be as aggressive with the sorting as I found myself being a few hours in to the process, the night before. I actually did more than what I imagined and I’m grateful that I did. I know that when I do return to Atlanta I will be in a better position to pack up and move to wherever, with little to no time—I just need to grab and load, and then go. All of my furniture and other items are waiting for me in storage. Oh yeah that is a long story I won’t be sharing anytime soon. Maybe in a future post or even in a book. Maybe.

So what time do you think I finally climbed into bed, knowing I needed to be on the road at 4:30am?

If you said around 2:30am, you’re right. I made some adjustments in my thinking. I looked at the weather reports again and noticed that Alabama was going to be clobbered by stupid weather and both Alabama and Georgia were having later sunrises, like after 7:30am. My common sense kicked in and I made the decision that it wasn’t wise to drive in the dark, with high winds, and rain. Yep, it was scheduled to rain, which I already knew, but what I hadn’t planned for was the 40-plus miles per hour winds that were zooming through Alabama. I also decided that it would not be cool to start this road trip with soaking clothes, so instead of waiting until I was leaving out to load the car, I made the decision to do everything then and there.

I hauled all of the trash bags outside, packed my SUV, and then hopped in the shower, bypassing my original plan to relax in a tub filled with hot water and this cool muscle soak I bought days earlier. I need to have a long talk with Murphy, because this fool has a habit of ruining plans. Since my plans to drop off my donation bags were derailed, I labeled the bags, and left them for my friend to drop off for me when they return from their trip later this month. My “welcome home” gift to them. Not really, but that’s what I’m going to say when they ask me about those two huge black trash bags in their guest room. I’m giggling now just thinking about that future conversation.

Okay, so back to this trip. I caught a few zzz’s and after sending out my massive text messages to friends and family (and a link for my family to track me), I was on the road at 7:30am, chatting on the phone with one of the friends that I couldn’t squeeze a visit in with the day before. I stopped by Dunkin Donuts and then refueled at a gas station, and after that it was just my Sirius XM rolling with me. If you’re wondering if I was driving by myself, I will tell you what I told friends and family that asked the same question: No, I had “God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit rolling with me. Jesus said he was gonna rest at the half-way point of our journey, so I would pick up my maternal uncle, Michael, to ride with me the rest of the way”. This, my friends, was the start of my first cross-country road trip all by myself. Well, at least the first five states were all by myself. I’ve driven plenty of times on long road trips, but never alone.

There I was, leaving Atlanta, my SUV packed with snacks, bottled water, tire kit, beat-you-down flashlight (one of those huge ones), two cans of wasp spray (just in case pepper spray and mace were illegal in some states), written directions in case my GPS went on the blitz, and just enough clothing and supplies to make my current stay comfortable. Thanks to my aunt Debbie, I renewed my AAA. I had totally forgotten that I hadn’t renewed in forever. Thanks Debbie for that. Whew!

Next week, I will share more about this amazing road trip and even share some photos. If you’re wondering which Sirius XM channel I was jamming to, it was channel 50, “The Groove”. Yes indeed, the best of 70s and 80s R&B music. It was like a nonstop concert and I loved every minute of it. I even have a video or two to share with you of me lip-syncing some songs. I cracked myself up. Be prepared to laugh with me folks. Chat soon!

~Natasha

Copyright 2021. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

Have you purchased Volumes 1 and 2 from my Seek Him book series?

Have you purchased the workbooks that serve as their companions? Or do you think the workbooks are just filler or exhaustive repetition of information, like so many workbooks?

Have you started reading the books? Or do you keep saying, “When the time is right?” Or “When I have the time”?

If you haven’t purchased, used, and tested yourself with these books—now is the time, because every day you are tested, tempted, and attacked. You’re going up against an enemy that has been studying and preparing for you for lifetimes. How long have you been studying and preparing for your enemy?

If you are a follower of my Breaking Bread With Natasha blog, then these are the books many of you were asking me for years to write and have published. I’ve supplied the demand. I’m coming with more. Are you ready? Or did you ask and think I would not deliver? Ah, you should know me better. 🙃

Seek Him, Volume 3 and its companion workbook will be rolling out later this Fall. It’s not my last book, but it’s the last one of this series. Whether you start this year or wait until the struggle forces you to, it’s better to be prepared and equipped, than scrambling for tools and resources. Remember what we gather from studying the Bible—we’re to be content in our circumstances, relying upon faith and hope to persevere. But we aren’t to be complacent or lazy, for that would make us complicit in our own demise.

How the Seek Him Series Works

Volume 1 covers months one through four. It helps to see where you are spiritually and it tests your perceived limits. There will be moments of discomfort. It shouldn’t be a cakewalk. This is where you start to see the boundaries you have created and, or, accepted.

Volume 2 covers the next four months, which should push you past your comfort zone, and encourage you to ask more questions, seek more answers, and break down the barriers of the status quo. You should be challenging where and how you get information, and if and how you use it. You should be peeling back the layers of yourself and getting past the facade you have created out of insecurity, fear, and a need to belong. This is a redefining stage.

Volume 3 covers the remaining four months of a 12-month journey. Not your final journey, just this particular journey. This stage should meet you at a point where you’re truly seeing yourself and how you view your relationship with God, His creations, and this chaotic world, differently. In Volume 3 you are training at a more intense level, no longer regurgitating the same ole same ole you learned in the past, growing up, etc. You’re instead conditioning yourself with a different appreciation for why you’re on this multi-pronged journey, and who you are throughout the process.

It’s about de-programming.

It’s about independent thought.

Less of “Well pastor said…” or “Father so-and-so said…” and more “From my research I found”or “Through prayer what was revealed is…” It’s about going to the Source and not settling for the remnants left by the offspring and byproducts. It’s helping you to discern the religious charlatans and pimps, and their messaging and tactics used, to prey upon you. It’s to discern well-intentioned people who fell to temptation and sadly sacrifice you to maintain what they think they gained from fame and fortune.

Jesus is quoted as saying that we are the temples, we no longer have to go to temples. There’s no more need for the pomp and circumstance, because we carry within us all that we used to pray for. He said that we don’t need an intermediary to speak on our behalf to God—we’re to petition and pray directly to Him. Yet look at how we live and worship in this modern era, more than 2,000 years later. The Bible can be used as a weapon to enslave, a tool to bury people under a mountain of misinformation, or it can be used to redeem, free, and restore people.

“I Like The Title of Volume 2, Can’t I Just Start There?”

You have to read the books in order, because that’s how they are written, with corresponding days picking up where the last book leaves off. Volume 1 starts at Day 1 and Volume 2 starts at Day 125, and so on. The books piggyback off of each other. They also point you forwards and backwards, in a layering effect. Each volume and companion workbook become increasingly more challenging than the one before. They are designed to test you, challenge you, encourage you to go beyond your comfort zone, and never return.

If you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired, pick up and read Volume 1 and Workbook 1. Then follow the path through the remaining books. I can’t guarantee enlightenment. But I know one thing, at the end of Volume 3 you won’t be where you were at the start of Volume 1!

Visit online retailers, your local bookstore, or Bookshop.org and pick up your copies. Join me on this Seek Him journey!

Love always,

Natasha

Copyright 2021. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

Reflecting over the days and years, looking to the research on abuse, the history of slavery and captor-captive relationships, and the enduring and devastating trauma. I want to share my thoughts…

I believe that trauma can cause some people to celebrate when their abuser hands them trinkets and tokens of “reconciliation”. They don’t realize that these “gifts” are merely distractions and attempts to downplay and normalize the sustained abuse, while never admitting it and never ceasing.

The abuser uses these moments as part of their research and development efforts. They track the points along the way where you bend to their ways based only on their promises of a better life, freedom, etc. They note your highs and lows. They test your thresholds. They look to see at which points you showed strength and resolve, and the times when they thought they had almost broken you.

Can they make you grovel, beg, try to negotiate, compromise, sacrifice your dignity and humanness, rely upon them more than your own Creator?

A checklist.

The abused convince themselves that the abuser “Is trying” and “It’s a step towards progress”, “It’s better than before”, “I should be appreciative for these gifts”, and “I deserve these gifts after all that I’ve endured and continue to endure”. You’re conditioned to see these moments as a reprieve from savagery. Maybe even as a sign of better days to come.

But deep down your spirit and soul cry out, knowing that the abuser has not and will not stop. The abuser will only repeat this cycle as it breaks you down, round after round, until you finally begin to see yourself as the problem—until you believe the abuser is your savior, who you should be role modeling. The goal is for you to see yourself as inferior to the abuser. As powerless and dependent upon your abuser.

You begin to repeat what the abuser whispers to you: If only you were more pliable, forgiving, and accommodating. If only you would assimilate into the system the abuser has crafted with great wickedness and precision. If only you stopped resisting and protesting. If only you would give in and let your reality be created, managed, and ruled by your abuser.

“You’re not oppressed, that’s just your weak mind talking”. That is what your abuser says. “Your life is better than it’s ever been” so says your abuser. “If you were oppressed you wouldn’t have….” and “You’re an ingrate. Look at what I’ve given you all of these years. This is how you thank me!”

Those are the words of your abuser, your oppressor, your slave master.

We are hostages who keep clinging to the desperate hope that our captor will one day do right by us. Many of us have been convinced that our captor is our friend, who has given us privileges we could not gain without them. We have assimilated out of desperation for the pain to cease. Sadly, it doesn’t. So we blame other captives for causing the added pain through their delay in surrendering.

A lot of us don’t realize we’re tumbling through decades and centuries of generational Stockholm Syndrome.

~Natasha L. Foreman

IG/FB/Twitter: @natashalforeman

Copyright 2021. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved. NatashaForeman.com

What I’m about to share may ruffle some feathers. It may cause some people to become defensive or offensive. That happens when truth is revealed, shared, and analyzed. Just make sure you don’t come at me with daggers. You will only cut yourself. Don’t come at me with punches. You will only hit yourself. If you come to divide, only your mind will be divided. I’ve warned you.

Let’s talk about it…
Checkers, chess, or Connect 4?
Why our lives are even in play, as a game…but they are, so whatcha gonna do about it?

When you should know the propaganda machine will crank out more vitriol than you can counter, how do you stay ahead so you can overcome?

Leaving out the adverb “TOO” left deniers of truth to say:

1) “ALL lives matter”

2) “BLUE lives matter” (although “Blue” isn’t a demographic).

3) “Well if Black Lives Matter so much to you then why aren’t you protesting Black-on-Black crime?”

4) It’s racist to say BLM or Black Power, or to call out white privilege, or to acknowledge that wealthy white men dictate whose life matters

These counter-moves puts Black people and our allies in a constant defensive position, trying to reason and rationalize with an unreasoning mindset that loves to tell rational-lies.

We thought video footage of the horror we face would be enough, but now the counter-argument is, “Please provide context”

We thought having white sympathizers protesting beside us would cause a surrender to the truth. What we get in response is, “They’re ALL thugs, terrorists, unpatriotic, unAmerican, enemies of the State, libtards, anti-police”. We hear that our sympathizers are “just pandering to Black people in this ‘woke’ era”.

When you have Black people complaining that white insurrectionists were able to storm the US Capitol and be called “patriots exercising their rights” while Black people and their allies have been called everything but—what does this say? What does this show and prove?

When you see that there are forces trying desperately to take away your vote, your right to vote, your right to equal treatment under the law, your right to protect and defend your body, your family, and your property—yet when you cry out about this, you’re told that your truth, the truth, is not their truth—so it is dismissed and devalued.

When you exercise your 2nd Amendment Right, the NRA is mostly silent in your defense. When you have no weapon but the attacker does, the NRA says the attacker “had a right to defend themselves as they feared for their lives…” Whose life truly matters?

When you’re told to “stay in your place” and “be glad for what your people have been given and what your people have achieved” as though you’re children. As though you’re still property. Yes, still slaves. The difference is that now you have access to some luxuries and can live wherever you can afford. Your new plantation is whatever area your paycheck defines. It’s all smoke and mirrors folks.

This puts Black people and our allies in a constant defensive position, trying to overcome the counter-moves, trying to prove the genuine and earnest alignment for human dignity. This leaves other POC at a major disadvantage because the reality is, if Black Lives DON’T matter, then neither do Indigenous, Asian, Latin/Hispanic, or any other non-White life.

Are we playing checkers while the powers-that-be are playing chess? Or worse, are we playing Connect 4 while they’re playing chess?

How would things have been altered if we had said “Black Lives Matter TOO”?

It sucks when you feel like your life only matters in two instances:
1) anti-abortion debates
2) military recruitment/draft

Valuing Black lives doesn’t devalue White lives, Black power doesn’t weaken White power (well except in weakening the power to crush Black life and dreams), Black votes don’t disenfranchise White votes, Black rights don’t take away White rights, Black life doesn’t sacrifice White life, Black wealth doesn’t snatch away White wealth—nor does it stop the impoverished White person from gaining wealth.

When poor White people start to realize that even with the privilege their skin provides, they too are an economic and social minority—despised by wealthy whites more than POC are despised—and they choose to stand (without faltering) with BIPOC rather than fight against them, vote with and for BIPOC instead of against them, build with BIPOC instead of building walls to keep them out—then the tides can begin shifting towards empowerment, inclusion, and freedom for all people.

When they realize the power they possess to sling down the Goliath that keeps 99 percent of the nation groveling for scraps, then they can force the powerful hands that bind the disenfranchised. They then can stop counter-arguing every police attack on Black people with, “Statistics show that poor White people face as much police brutality as Black people”. The fact that you even researched and shared this only underlines why this human rights fight is also your fight, beside us, not across from us—with us not against us. For the same system that binds us is the same system that sneakily binds you. For there are more poor Whites than Blacks, statistically. There are more Whites on state assistance than Blacks. More White “welfare queens” than Black ones. And Blacks don’t have the power and privilege to make that possible. So who does?

Is the dilemma that poor Whites face is in accepting the fact that until Black Lives Matter TOO, their life won’t truly matter either, they will still be seen as trash, worthless except to raise hell and do the dirty work of the wealthy? Is it difficult to swallow the pill of multi-generational hate aimed at a people they were taught to believe they were better than simply because they wore a different color of skin—while blaming those same people for rising from the ashes, sometimes surpassing them? Your great great great great grandparents were lied to, and every generation leading to you were lied to. You have been lied to.

It has to be maddening when you can’t really explain the hate and you’re too afraid to place blame squarely where it belongs. You’re boxing with shadows. With smoke and mirrors. Face the truth. It will set you and all of us free!

Let that sink in.

Share your thoughts below. Don’t come at me sideways with vitriol, you will only find yourself kicking a can, alone…

Love always,

Natasha

BLM #BLM2 #BLMToo #checkersorchess #unify #unity #smokeandmirrors

Copyright 2021. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

A lot of folks confuse Memorial Day and the weekend of celebration, with Veteran’s Day. Memorial Day is honoring the men and women who never made it home from deployment. Their lives were cut short due to war, battles, and conflict. Please remember this and reflect deeply over this holiday weekend. It’s more than backyard BBQ, it’s about the memories of those no longer here. #gonebutnotforgotten

~Natasha L. Foreman