Yep, guns and drugs were dropped off in neighborhoods. They made their way, like a plague, to rural and impoverished areas.

You can call it a twisted “social experiment” and guess what? Many of us did exactly what was expected.

We picked up, used, and resold those guns and drugs. We manufactured and modified them. We got our children, mothers, fathers, and grandparents to smuggle, sell, and use them. We’re so hooked on them that we will kill to keep them.

Guns and INCREASED Violence

Let me start this section off by saying, I’m not against guns. I come from a family of gun owners. So don’t roll your eyes and think I’m attacking guns, owners rights, etc.

In the US, we have more guns in our homes and on the streets than ever before, yet our country is less safer. The bigger and the more rounds they’ll carry, the more rabid we act over them. We’re looking for a slaughterhouse effect. It’s no longer a standing conviction about our right to protect ourselves from the government bursting in our doors, armed to the teeth, because we pick and choose who has the right to bear arms against law enforcement and military. We choose whose life matters.

We are the boogie man we warn children about. We’re obsessed with death, killing, and maiming. Although we’re not trying to be the ones with a bullet lodged in our head or body. We want the perceived power the weapon gives us but we don’t want to take responsibility for the bullet when it achieves its purpose.

Part of this madness is our obsession with violence and the other part is that people are scared and the gun gives a false sense of security. The truth is that no one wants to take an old fashioned butt kicking anymore. No one wants to ball up their fists and risk getting their tail handed to them. No one’s willing to risk getting body slammed and hospitalized. Nope. It’s much easier to grab that gun and pull the trigger, knowing you could end more than one life in that moment.

Let me say this again, I’m not against guns. I’m a gun owner. Let’s be clear on what I am against.

I’m against fools recklessly pulling the trigger, especially on weapons that were designed for war, weapons issued to our military. Some of our law enforcement agencies don’t even have these guns. Why? Because they were designed for war and given to soldiers, not to people who were sworn to try and bring peace.

Look, it’s simple, unless we’re facing a zombie attack, we don’t need those type of guns in the hands of regular Joe and Jane Blow, and definitely not in the hands of ole’ Karen — she’ll end up accidentally killing her poodle in the chaos, and then blaming her intended target for her lack of skill and control under pressure, and then try to sue the victims family for pain and suffering.

When the 2nd Amendment was created, people were using muskets and flintlock pistols. You had to be intentional and strategic. Now folks are running around with M2s, M4s, M16s, M240s, M249s, some with firing ranges of more than 2,600 feet. There’s no perceived threat in the US that you can justify shooting at more than 2,600 feet away, and if it’s within five feet of you, imagine the damage you will create if you have no trigger control (or just want to be reckless) and shoot more than one round. And I can already hear someone saying, “Well where’s the fun in only shooting one round?” Well, if you’re a good shot, then one round will do whatever you aimed to do— disable them or send them to their Maker. Multiple rounds is a great way to secure your spot in hell, if there is one.

Look at the disease we’ve allowed to grow and fester in our neighborhoods and throughout our country. Yet we call other nations savages when we see the violence they endure. Ironic and hypocritical.

Trafficking and Violence

We even allowed pimping, prostitution, and trafficking to take place in our communities. We didn’t think twice about a woman or child being rented, traded, or sold for sex or other twisted forms of gratification. When we hear stories about victims what’s the common questions and statements we hear some people say in response?

  • “How do we know they’re telling the truth?
  • “Was it consensual?”
  • “Maybe that’s the line of work they want to be in”
  • “They shouldn’t have ran away from home”
  • “If they didn’t want to be there they could’ve left”
  • “They obviously don’t come from a good and supportive family”
  • “How could they have not gotten away?”
  • “They wouldn’t have been pimped if they weren’t out there hoeing”
  • “They’re runaways, they wanted to be there”
  • “Well look at their social media profile, they’re not so innocent”

We scrutinize, ridicule, shame, vilify, dehumanize, and blame the victim. Especially if the victim is financially poor.

Even now, we have all been informed of the thousands of women and children being sold as sex and domestic slaves. We heard and read reports that many of the girls and women we are seeing on porn sites can also be sex slaves in trafficking rings. Some are drugged up to make the act seem consensual. We know this, but it’s not slowing down the number of views, downloads, and subscriptions. Just the opposite. We’re literally helping to finance the renting, selling, and raping of people. We’re helping the profiteers to become millionaires and multi-millionaires. Someone’s daughter, sister, niece, granddaughter is a sex slave. She could be your daughter, sister, niece, cousin, granddaughter.

Add in the Drugs and Gangs

We’ve watched our families implode because of drugs, gun violence, pimping, and trafficking. We’ve gone to more funerals than weddings because of this nonsense. We keep seeing the deaths, the overdoses, the shootings, the rape cases, the discarded bodies.

We even sing and rap about dealers, gangsters, and pimps—glorifying them like idols. How are they not our gods when we talk about them and interact with them more than we speak to and about our spiritual God? We know more about them than we do about Him.

Our federal and state governments have spent the past 50 years criminalizing drug users and addicts, forcing them into redefined plantation systems, giving longer prison sentences based on what feels like a color coding formula. And in states that have chosen to treat the addiction rather than punish the user, they have seen a remarkable and positive trend taking place. They’re seeking to help the people with dignity and it’s having a positive impact. Yet the majority of US states along with the federal authorities, choose to continue the process of criminalization, all while wondering why their statistics keep getting worse year after year, decade after decade. Just like the government botched their war on poverty in the 1960s and 1970s, and our country is still suffering from those reckless decisions, we are experiencing the same whiplash effect with these other declarations of war. I will share my thoughts on the poverty war later. But let me ask you again…

Is there really a war on drugs, violence, and human trafficking?

Who Are We Protecting?

Are our children and women not valuable enough to protect?

Because clearly they’re being rented and sold at high volume. Someone has created a lucrative lifestyle selling and trading our people as commodities. We are enslaved. It’s just this time it’s not just by force. Some of us willingly have put on these shackles. Some of us are willingly serving as overseers and drivers on this ever-growing plantation system. Some of us are willingly entertaining the owners with our shucking, jiving, fetching, stepping, singing, dancing, and acting. And just like hundreds of years ago, some of us are selling and owning our own people.

Look how we protect celebrities, swearing they’re not guilty of their crimes, even though you weren’t there to witness any of it. All because they’re a celebrity and you still want to sing their songs, watch their tv shows, movies, stand up comedic performances, or wear their team jersey. All because none of the victims were wealthy and powerful enough to seek and gain justice immediately after they were victimized.

We have politicians in office and those who recently left office, who have been accused of sexual misconduct, solicitation, rape, molestation, and having sexual relations with minor-age sex workers. Stop chalking up stuff as “locker room talk” or “boys will be boys”, or “men will be men”.

Why do folks give these predators a pass?

Because the girls and women aren’t wealthy enough and powerful enough to have clobbered these predators and had them locked up soon after they were violated. They weren’t deemed important enough to have been taken seriously. For many, it required multiple victims to come forward before anyone entertained the idea of seeking justice for them. And as we’ve seen before, sometimes even that is just a formality, a box checked for optics sake. Had these children and women come from families of influence, this would be a nonissue because the violators would’ve been locked up.

Where is the accountability?

This isn’t about politics. This isn’t even about the wealthy versus the working class. This is about human rights and dignity.

Don’t you think it’s atrocious that we always want proof of sexual crimes? We want to further violate the victim. We want them to relive having their power stripped and stomped upon. We do the same thing with domestic violence. We want to see the bruises, blood, and gore.

Is there really a war on drugs, violence, and human trafficking?

And For Y’all Bible Folks

Do you want to know why Adam and Eve were cursed?

They didn’t take responsibility for giving into temptation. Eve blamed the serpent. Adam blamed Eve and then went a step farther and blamed God for giving him Eve. Yep, the serpent told Adam and Eve about the fruit and said God lied to them about why He didn’t want them eating it. But the serpent didn’t make them eat it. That was their choice and then it was their choice to not take responsibility for their actions.

Even with Eve taking the first bite, Adam could’ve held her accountable and said, “Sucks to be you, I’m gonna miss you when you’re gone, because God told you the consequences”. And then ran and told God the truth about what went down. Adam could’ve chosen to say to the serpent, “No thank you. We’re doing just fine” and walked away from the serpent, convincing Eve to leave with him. Instead he gave in to the temptation and took no responsibility for his actions. It was everyone else’s fault that he made a reckless choice.

Our Responsibility and Complicity

Let’s be clear, we are just as responsible for the monsters that live amongst us because we give them the pass to breed chaos everywhere they go. We elect them to office, we finance their lifestyle, and we don’t hold them accountable.

Sadly, some of us are also monsters.

We use guns and drugs against our own people, wiping out generations, and freeing up neighborhoods to be gentrified. Then we complain that our neighborhoods are no longer our own, and that we’re priced out of the market. Or we watch rural communities turn into ghost towns that are later gobbled up by developers who build overpriced subdivisions and resorts on the land that our families once lived on for several generations.

Yes, the ones who dropped the temptation at our feet should be held accountable. Yes, the ones who financially benefit from our incarceration and enslavement should be held accountable. And those of us who choose to give into the temptation, should also be held accountable. Those of us who see it all and say absolutely nothing, should be held accountable too! Every time we say, “That’s none of my business” when we see or hear someone being victimized, we are complicit in that crime.

Is there really a war on drugs, violence, and human trafficking?

We can protest in front of government offices, police stations, corporations, and the houses of racists. We can post online profiles of the “Karen’s” and contact the media and her job to expose her. We can pull out our phones and record violence against us at the hands of police and others. But where’s our protesting and social media posting of houses, buildings, and warehouses of known drug, gang, sex and human trafficking terrorists? They are terrorizing your neighborhood. They aren’t foreign threats. They’re your neighbors. They’re your family members. You grew up with them.

Someone left the explosives but we detonated them, re-upped, and let off more.

Is there really a war on drugs, violence, and human trafficking?

We weren’t solely buying drugs and guns from people who didn’t look like us, who didn’t live in our neighborhoods and towns. Nope. We bought from folks who grew up on the same streets as us, attended the same schools and houses of faith as us, who go to the same barber shops and beauty salons as us.

We know them. We know they’re selling death or the means to make death a reality real quick for someone. We even created a code of silence to protect the pushers and peddlers of these evil vices. We treat them like royalty, like gods, something to respect and fear. The more money we give them the more they launder, and the richer and wealthier they become. They leach off of our neighborhoods and drain the life and light right out, and then they have the audacity to relocate their family to better neighborhoods, while keeping their operations running like a gas station or convenience store.

In your neighborhood. In your community.

You may even know where they operate. But you say and do nothing because you fear retaliation. You fear they’ve paid off the police to turn a blind eye. But here’s the thing, we had a chance to keep that crap out of our neighborhoods, to disincentivize infiltrating law enforcement ranks with payola. But we wouldn’t ban together.

We did and we do nothing, while the ones on the lower rungs of the ladder face decades or lifetimes in prison, all because they believed the hype and thought that being about that life would reward them with a better life. They were recruited because their lives didn’t matter. They were collateral damage. They are merely pawns in a global game of human currency.

You can’t reasonably pursue justice against one group of people while protecting their co-conspirators.

Is there really a war on drugs, violence, and human trafficking?

If we want to rid our homes, streets, and neighborhoods of violence and poison, we need to stop looking to the people who offloaded the mess onto us to now free us from the mess they created. We need to stop hoping the neighborhood terrorists will change their ways and give up that lifestyle, to redeem the community.

We must free and save ourselves.

Stop expecting empathy, remorse, and reparations from someone who is clearly apathetic to and economically benefiting from your plight.

~Natasha

I know many of you read the title of this post and scratched your head. Yes, I know that the majority of us didn’t plop into this world by immaculate conception. Our parents got busy, handled their business, and roughly nine months later we made our debut. Today I want to talk about your parents and something important that I think they would want you to know.

We don’t know fully what our parents lives were like before we entered this world. We can’t fully comprehend how our arrival impacted their lives. We know what we’ve been told but we don’t truly know. We can guess.

Did your parents grow up in a healthy home environment, or was it toxic? Did they dream of having children and raising a family? Or did “life happen” and being a parent became the job they had to accept?

We know that they had dreams and goals, desires and wishes. There were places that they wanted to visit, things they wanted to do, people they wanted to meet. Maybe they fulfilled all of these things before or after you were born, maybe not.

Did they buy that house, car, boat, or motorcycle they wanted? Did they achieve their academic goals they had set? What about their professional pursuits?

What did they have to sacrifice, modify, give up to ensure that your needs were met? In what ways did they prepare for your future? In what ways did they help you to prepare?

Do you have siblings? What values did your parents instill in you and if applicable, your siblings? How were you raised to see the family unit? What were you taught about how to treat your relatives? If you have siblings, what did your parents tell you about that special relationship and what they expected of you as siblings?

Did your parents raise you to work hard for everything you wanted or did you grow up spoiled and entitled, receiving whatever you requested? Did you have chores or did someone else do the work for you? Did you participate in extracurricular activities like sports, music, arts, or various camps? Or was your childhood spent playing outdoors, playing make believe with neighborhood friends? Or was it all of that and more?

What did they teach you about money, budgeting, investing, and having a financial portfolio?

If your parents are still alive, do they have their finances and estate in order? Do they have their living will, living trust, and any other legal instruments prepared? Have they discussed with you and your siblings (if applicable) about their desires for how and where they want to live if they become incapacitated or simply too overwhelmed with managing their home and lifestyle? Have they discussed if they want to live at their home, yours, with your sibling(s), at a senior living community, or other location? Have they discussed how they want their estate is to be handled upon their transition from this life? How are finances and property to be managed?

If they haven’t handled these things and haven’t had multiple conversations with you, now is the time to get those things in order, and have this serious conversation.

If your parents are no longer living, did they handle the matters of their estate before transitioning? Was everything managed properly? How did you and your siblings (if applicable) deal with this huge change?

Was there or has there been drama surrounding the care of your parent(s), their money, property, etc?

I can guarantee you that if your parents have savings, retirement plans, an investment portfolio, and any property, the last thing they want is for you to squander what they worked hard to achieve. The last thing they want is for you to be arguing and fighting over stuff, especially their stuff. The last thing they want is you plotting and planning against them, against your siblings, to gain access to your parents money and property. The last thing they want is to see that ugliness rise out of you and ooze all over, contaminating everything and everyone in your reach. The last thing they want is to regret working so hard to have things, to provide a lifestyle, just to watch it all taken for granted.

Your parents don’t want you acting ugly over money and things you can’t even take with you when you transition from this life.

If your parent(s) are living well and independent, in their home, then the last thing they’re thinking about is you plotting to remove them from that home without their consent, so you can liquidate it or turn it into a investment property. Or worse, you mismanage it and lose it in foreclosure or something. The last thing they’re thinking about is you blowing through their cash and assets, like a reckless maniac. The last thing on their mind is their child, you, destroying their reputation and name. Even if they did it to their parents, it’s highly unlikely that they think you would do it to them. Unless of course they live for cynicism or believe in karma.

Sadly, what your parents don’t expect you to do is exactly what so many of you have done or will do. So much ugliness lurking inside, waiting to explode all over and destroy everything and everyone your parents love. It’s disturbing to see adult children plotting and planning to neglect and abuse their parents through twisted guardianships, forcing them into nursing homes and rarely if ever visiting them. Or finding ways to convince medical professionals that their parents are suffering from Alzheimer’s-Dementia or are impaired in some other way, so they can gain the control they so desperately want over their parents lives and finances.

Some of you aren’t even risking big money. Nope, your plotting for social security checks and maybe a house that needs more in repairs, cost-wise, than you could get from selling it. What are you going to do after you’ve sold all of their cars, antiques, jewelry, and dodads?

You’re going to be miserable, that’s what. And guess what else? If you have children, and they’re anything like you, they will do to you what you have done to your parent(s). Karma baby, it’s real and it’s going to bring you what you put out!

Get your heart, mind, relationships and life right!

~Natasha

It’s been a rough 2022, yet, it’s also been a blessed year. I’m checking in with my updates and checking on you to see how you’re navigating life’s seas and storms. We shouldn’t go based on social media posts because those are deceptive.

I’m not where I expected, but I’m grateful for all I have and am in awe of what I’ve learned and experienced. I’m limiting my exposure to social media and news reports. I grab fifteen-minute bites daily and don’t allow myself to get dragged down the rabbit hole. It’s too toxic, suffocating, and depressing to spend much longer than that, so when I do, I intentionally steer towards inspirational and comical posts. I also seek artistic posts that pique my interest in dreaming about my future home and writing space.

I’ve noticed that when I run across news reports and commentary about politics, one of the “isms” plaguing the land, or how politicians and influential gatekeepers are stripping human rights, I feel my rage build up. I find my anxiety kicking in when I see injustice and the blatant disregard for human life because the body that houses that life has dark skin. I feel like my insides are boiling when I hear and read snarky remarks from people who think this country was best when women and people of color didn’t have any rights and little girls as young as 14 could be married or bedded.

There are a lot of folks out there acting like they wish this was 1860. But here’s the thing: they aren’t ready for what they’re masterminding behind closed doors and in plain sight. They aren’t ready for the breed of Americans who have been restraining themselves for years, often guided by the loving principles taught by their spiritual leaders and religious beliefs. When people grow sick and tired of crying, marching, protesting, kneeling, compromising, asking, re-phrasing, educating, pleading, and praying for people to stop doing evil and calling it righteous — what do you think those people will do when they reach their breaking point? It will not be as romanticized and fantasized at rallies and private banquets. This world is dealing with new generations tired of being enslaved by modern shackles on redefined plantations.

For my health and wellness, I have decided to disconnect from the outside world as often and for as long as needed. I’m grateful for the apps and features on my devices, that have helped restrict my access to the Internet. I swear it sometimes feels like some horror movies I used to love watching, where demons work aggressively to take over. I have to remain optimistic that there is more good than evil out there, fighting back and saying, “No daggum way!” I refuse to be a cynic. I refuse to believe that evil is prevailing.

I’ve also decided that I will pray over and release those things I can’t control and change. Some things are above my pay grade and job title. I’ve stopped searching online for places in the world where a Black woman can feel safe and protected because I ran out of options. Do you know how scary that is to wrap your mind around? There are days when I wonder why I’m both feared and despised yet highly imitated. The irony.

The news outlets are driven by the rabid nature of the horrific events we see. My television isn’t allowed to click on the news. I gather quickly what I need from online sources that I still have to fact-check because the rush to publish first has blinded many so-called journalists from getting the truth and facts before releasing the news. It feels like there’s racism, colorism, sexism, and classism every few posts online, and that’s just four isms. The microaggressions that cause people to defensively tell the people that they’ve offended, that they are being “too soft” or “don’t have a sense of humor” or “too politically correct” or whatever gaslighting technique that has been seminar-style taught to people over the past 15 years, makes choice words build up inside of me until they’re ready to explode and drown out their ignorance with plenty of my own. Oh, I could horrify sailors and truck drivers with my words if I wanted to, but I’m tired of carrying this rage. I’m tired of feeling this way solely because I have to protect myself from other people who feel less inferior when they’re oppressing, silencing, beating, or killing other people.

I choose to hold on to my peace, fight for my peace, and dare anyone to try and steal my joy. I’m tired of negotiating with my mind the acceptability of entertaining hypocrites, sellouts, opportunists, and those who profit from the toxic cycle of the status quo. I refuse to vote for or financially support people who benefit from maintaining the status quo while they talk about “change” for publicity’s sake. I’m not voting for politicians to live comfortably while I and others struggle. I’m tired of the pimping going on, and I’ll be damned if I spend my days feeling like I’m working the corner.

So, I’ve decided to be intentional with my interactions online. I pop in, share, enjoy the awesome contributions of others, and then I pop out. I won’t let this world take hold of my mind, spirit, and soul. It can limit where I live and what I can buy, but it will not have what is most precious to me.

That’s my check-in. What about you?

How are you feeling?

If you could identify with one of the emoticons above, which would you select?

How are you navigating this world?

How are you managing the chaos and confusion?

I hope you’re putting yourself first, your health and wellbeing first. I hope you are more concerned with being unique and living well than fitting in and following trends. I hope that you recognize yourself when you look in the mirror or play back a recording of your voice. Don’t allow yourself to be taken over by this matrix.

Love,

Natasha

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

For the past few years, many companies have expressed a desire to improve their Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts in recruitment, hiring, promotions, marketing, and other areas. Some have gone a step farther and declared they would include the Justice component, encompassing the fullness of DEIJ as their new guiding force, helping to steer their internal and external efforts.

Search online, and you will find hundreds of companies hiring for DEI positions and creating various roles, committees, and ERGs. That’s hundreds of companies that prior to 2020, failed to see the need and value of a diverse, equitable, inclusive organization, driven by justice for all.

I’ve expressed in multiple blog posts and a few episodes of my business podcast (“Don’t Call It Small…Business”) my concerns about a DEI “bandwagon” effect and the implications. The peer and societal pressure to align and “be on the right side of history” will cause many organizations to publicly state what they internally are not prepared to follow through with, leading to negative outcomes.

Over the past two years we’ve heard organizations make claims and promises that they haven’t fulfilled. Pledges have fallen through the cracks. That’s what happens when you’re just checking boxes and it’s not authentic, and not a representation of your organization’s cultural fabric and values.

If your organization hasn’t been actively engaged in DEI practices for the 5, 20, 50, 100+ years it’s been operating, it won’t jump to it overnight. PR stunts have become the norm to position companies to be more desirable, in less time, especially when publicly-traded. That equals a recipe for disaster. As does rushing to do something out of guilt and shame, when you realize that you haven’t done enough.

In the fashion industry, there was a rush to appoint DEI executives to newly-created roles, and guess what we’re seeing? According to the site Business of Fashion, there’s extremely high turnover. The average tenure for a Chief Diversity Officer is about three years, while CEO tenure averages approximately six years. Why? Because most of the positions are created in haste, and they lack resources, defined goals, and support from the chief executive.

What’s happening in the financial sector?

Wells Fargo is on the hot seat. Again. This time, it appears that they too made a huge DEI blunder.
The bank is under federal investigation by the civil-rights unit of the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office for conducting fake job interviews of minority candidates to satisfy in-house diversity guidelines.

As a client of Wells Fargo, I’m confident that their leadership team will guide them through these challenging waters, by first getting the help that they need to address the internal issues they still have yet to identify. We struggle most when we don’t know what we don’t know. Wells Fargo doesn’t know what it doesn’t know. But I believe that they will learn and apply what they lack to the benefit of internal and external stakeholders.

Read the Fortune magazine article to learn more. Ponder what Wells Fargo and other organizations must consider and do to genuinely lead with diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice as their guiding light. Let’s see the lessons and opportunities, and then put action behind the brain work.

~ Natasha

Article Source: https://fortune.com/2022/06/09/wells-fargo-federal-investigation-fake-job-interviews-minority-candidates-report-says/amp/

People tend to ask me what business, leadership, self-help, and empowerment books I’ve read and like to re-read. I’ve shared lists of books that I’ve read over the years, but let’s focus on the core of building, healing, and empowering self. As you can’t lead others well if you can’t lead yourself, and you will suck at managing resources if you can’t master managing you.

So, in no particular order, let’s look at my list.

  • The Bible by a lot of writers, most of whom never planned or expected their writings to be published (as most of us don’t write letters, for example, to later have published).
  • Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
  • Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis
  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
  • You are a Badass by Jen Sincero
  • The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene
  • Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson
  • Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
  • The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss
  • The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
  • Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
  • Dare to Lead by Brene Brown
  • It Beats Eatin’ Lizards by Steve Woodsmall
  • Believe Bigger: Discover the Path to Your Life Purpose by Marshawn Evans Daniels
  • Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
  • Rising Strong by Brene Brown
  • Overcoming Hurts & Anger by Dwight Carlson, MD

And I do have to admit that my Seek Him books have been healing, uplifting, and empowering. So I will add them to the list:

  • Seek Him, Volume 1: Testing Your Spiritual Comfort Zone by Natasha L. Foreman
  • Seek Him, Volume 2: Going Beyond Your Spiritual Comfort Zone by Natasha L. Foreman
  • Seek Him, Volume 3 — comes out this Summer and it’s also written by me 🙂

What About You?

Share some of your favorite reads.

What are your favorite quotes, sayings, and words of wisdom?

Goodness, there are so many inspiring and profound statements and questions to choose from. I think that what comes to my mind first are the sayings of my parents, grandparents, and other wise souls. I also think of Bible-based excerpts that I draw upon for strength, comfort, and encouragement. I’m just going to share several that come first to mind.

FROM MY FAMILY

Many of these you have probably heard of and said. There seems to always be slight variations across the US and around the world.

From my maternal grandfather:A person can have all of the book smarts in the world but not have a plumb nickel of common sense

From my maternal grandfather:Make sure when you walk you look down to keep from stepping on a snake or something.” My grandfather said that he could always tell when “city folks” like me were around, because we never looked down while walking, but “country folks” know to look down and look around. He taught me that when I was a child and I always think of him while walking and seeing objects and dangers right in the nick of time, and almost always before other city folks! 😬

From my mom: “You’re not a toilet seat. Don’t let people crap on you!”- now that is a great reminder and an even better visual. I don’t know why that’s the first thing I thought about when I thought of my mom’s “Motherisms”.

From my mom: “It doesn’t hurt to ask, the only thing they can tell you is ‘no’“- my mom truly believes this and lives by this principle.

From my dad: “When trust is lost it’s hard to regain…”- this reminds me to be responsible with the trust that I’ve earned and not to risk destroying it, as it’s difficult to rebuild.

From my dad: “Clean while you cook”- I know you may be saying, “What, why is this a favorite saying?” Well, it’s simple, it has been the guiding tip for me as I cook. I rarely finish cooking and have a dirty and cluttered kitchen. Cleaning as I cook helps reduce the workload after a meal is finished. This is extremely beneficial when you’re the one cooking and cleaning.

From my dad:Don’t say you can’t, just say you don’t want to“- when dad knew I could do something this was always his response. It irritated him when I said “I can’t” as it signified I had given up.

From my dad: “Is this the work of an A, B, C, D, or F student?”- this was usually a question posed to me after I thought I was done doing my chores. He would also ask me this when I would give him my homework to review. I used to roll my eyes and say under my breath, “It’s the work of an I-got-it-done student.” I never said it loud enough for him to hear. But I did make the mistake of saying one day, “It’s good enough” and I clearly wasn’t thinking when the words flowed from my mouth. Dad did not play when it came to doing things with excellence. He didn’t accept mediocrity.

From my dad: [said to me in high school] “There will come a time when you will be able to count your friends, on one hand, everyone else is associates”

[said to my sister when she was in 3rd grade] “All of those kids aren’t your friends they’re your associates”- and that was in response to my sister rattling off “my friend ___ and my friend ___ and my friend____”. So was it a surprise when my sister returned to school and when she got into an argument with a classmate, who told her “You’re not my friend anymore” my sister said, “We’re not friends, we’re associates” and then when the teacher confronted my sister, she received the same reply? Ummm…nope. That’s what happens when adults forget that children are human tape recorders and will replay everything you said.

From my dad:Women crack me up, you think you will learn about a man in three months, six months, or whatever. Men tell you everything you need to know when you first meet them…We tell you our goals, character, what, and who we value...” [paraphrased]- this was prompted after overhearing me and my friend Shari talking about guys we were dating and our three, six, twelve-month game plan for figuring out if they are boyfriend-husband material. Clearly, in the 80s and 90s, there was some nonsense circulating, probably through our favorite magazines, that men are complicated enough to require several months to figure out if they have a good or crappy character. Of course, I didn’t believe my dad and kept trusting this other way, and then decades later I had to admit, “Dad was right”.

From my paternal grandmother: “There are no accidents“- I used to struggle with this statement. Now I know that my grandmother knew and declared that there is nothing God doesn’t know and doesn’t see coming, so there are no accidents. It can be difficult to wrap your mind around, as it was for me, but once you do it’s freeing.

From my paternal aunt: “Just apply. If you can learn it, take a class for it, then you can do it. Don’t wait until you have mastered it. They will teach you their way, their method anyway, so apply…“- this sage advice is something that intimidated me in my 20s when my aunt told me, but as I got older and wiser I began to understand how true this is, and I noticed that men are more apt to practice this than women. Women tend to apply if they are 90% to 100% qualified, while men will apply if they have 40% of the qualifications. I’ve polled dozens of men who have said they would apply with less than 40%, while the majority of women I’ve polled cringed at the idea.

FROM THE BIBLE

Luke 1:37 “For nothing will be impossible with God”
Luke 17:21 “… nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you”
Matthew 4:10 “Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.”
Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Isaiah 1:17 “Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.”
Proverbs 21:5 “Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.”
Proverbs 21:30 “No human wisdom or understanding or plan can stand against the Lord.”
Proverbs 31:10-31 [this is about the woman of noble character, or as many of us say, “The Proverbs Woman”] It’s too long to share here. Search online if you don’t have a Bible, and read it for yourself.

Other sayings (original sources unknown)

  • Common sense isn’t that common“- this is a reminder to me to take into consideration that someone’s words and actions may not be driven by common sense, and to give them a pass.
  • Why don’t we just agree to disagree“- sometimes it helps to diffuse escalating conversations and sometimes the people struggling with common sense choose instead to keep arguing with me. I did warn them!
  • C-Y-B, cover your butt

Feel free to share some of your favorites!

~Natasha

I’ve read various articles and heard interviews of authors and other writers answering the question, “What inspires your writing?” and it made me reflect. Some of you write poetry, lyrics to songs, blog posts, articles, and books. What inspires you? How did the things you write about edge out the competing ideas that were trying to wiggle a place onto your notepad, typewriter page, or computer screen?

Source: Philipine Star

And maybe it’s not always a what, but a who, a person near and dear, or one you have never met. Why do they inspire you?

Source: Business 2 Community

My business writing is usually inspired by past or present events and the people impacted. There are times when conversations with other people inspire me to write about the topics we were discussing. I’m inspired by past and current clients and the circumstances that they face with their businesses and careers. Oh and I can’t leave out my college students. They ask great questions and share their experiences, and I’m inspired to examine the information shared and provide my perspective.

My Seek Him book series was inspired by my spiritual journey, as captured in writing through my blog, Breaking Bread With Natasha. My readers encouraged me to write a book. They had asked me repeatedly over the years, “When are you going to write a Breaking Bread book?” and I initially scoffed at the idea. But they made some pretty good arguments for why a book would be beneficial. I didn’t know that as I typed away, year after year, editing and scraping ideas, that I would write not one book, but enough content for three books. I was inspired by my pain, victories, failures, fears, questions, and doubts. I was inspired by my hope and faith, and my belief in my relationship with God. I’m inspired by the stories of people in the Bible, people throughout history, and people that I know who have faced insurmountable challenges.

What about you? What and who inspires your writing? And why?

Source: Current School News

~Natasha

With all of our busyness and adulting, have you remained connected with your inner child, or have you blotted out the essence and sounds of that amazing energy within? I try to embrace my inner child as much as possible, for all of the good and great reasons. Allowing little Natasha to run around with glee, I light up when I recognize a beloved book from my childhood, and remember how the stories made me feel, page after page. I love going into the public library and seeing the “classics” and the “newbies” waiting on the shelves for someone inquisitive to explore them. I know that many of us have defaulted to reading eBooks and listening to audio books. I admit that I love audio books. It feels like story time and listening to an amazing storyteller. At the same time, there is something extra special about holding a soft or hard cover book, and you can smell the faint scent coming from the pages. Is it just me, or is that not oh so amazing?

Some of you have children and maybe you have found ways to introduce them to your favorite childhood books. Or maybe you haven’t. Maybe you have forgotten many of them. Maybe you’re not much of a reader and so your memory is clouded of the past fantasies that were woven through your young mind, through those moments when an adult read to you. Or maybe, well heck there’s a lot of maybe’s.

Get your fill of NOSTALGIA

I could not possibly list all of my favorite books growing up because, well, you would grow exhausted and give up, as my list would feel endless. I was a bookworm growing up. A true human sponge, soaking up as much information as I could. I still enjoy reading books, consuming one to three per week. If someone would do all of the adulting for me, I could read more books each week. Arrgh. That leaves me where I stand. One to three will have to do!

My mom taught my how to read by age two, so anything with words was bound to be in front of me. Starting in first grade, my dad would challenge me each week to see who could read either the most books or the biggest (thickest) book. I would light up every time we would visit the Los Angeles Public Library in downtown L.A. Oh my goodness, I used to have so much fun spending hours at the library. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that I’m typing this post sitting inside of a public library. Yep! Nostalgia overload, but in a great way! Don’t believe me? Check me out…

Thinking back, I can recall sitting across from my dad inside of a Burger King, completely lost in one of the biggest books I had ever read. I was between the ages of six and eight. We were both only pages away from finishing, and although you want to win the challenge, you don’t want to rush the story, because you don’t want to miss any important moments or key elements. That made the challenge even more satisfying. I do think that I rushed through some of the pages though as I didn’t want to lose.

Do any of you have reading challenges with the children in your life?

Scholastic Book Club

Here’s something else that I loved as a child, receiving the Scholastic Book Club flyers at school. Every month I would salivate as I circled or starred which books and learning tools that I was going to hound my parents to buy. I already knew how much I could use from my allowance to cover whichever remaining items that my parents said, “Really Natasha, you already have X (number of) books in your order, those can wait until another time” and I would squeal and say, “But they may not be on the list next time” not realizing that as long as you had the flyer you could order previously featured books. When mom and dad wouldn’t budge any further in their wallet, and I didn’t want to risk calling another family member (because who in their right mind would try to go around my mom and dad?) I went to my back up, my piggy bank, and covered the rest of my order. Oh and by the way, by the time I was in sixth grade, I had upgraded the piggy bank to a grey cash box. Not as cute but it had tons of room to save mo’ money mo’ money mo’ money [*in my Wayans brothers voice*].

Haaaa do you remember these skits from In Living Color?

In case you’re wondering, yes, Scholastic Book Club is still thriving. You can find their monthly flyers here, in digital format and they are segmented by grade level.

And Although Not Books

I don’t know about you, but I was in love with the Highlights Magazine (formerly Highlights for Children). I was so grateful that I had access to them at school and my parents subscribed so I never missed an issue. And yes, they are also still in business and thriving. Check out their magazines, activity subscriptions, books, collections, and more.

are you ready for a trip down memory lane?

Let me title-drop several books and see if the titles spark something inside of you. If it does, please share. Oh and let me be clear, these books aren’t listed in any particular order and I’m only sharing books from knee-high to around third or fourth grade. And, I’m a 70s baby so many of the books that I read as a child were written in the 1940s through 1980s. Some books have been captured as cartoons and animated films, but nothing tops a good ole’ book!

The Poky Little Puppy by Janette Sebring Lowrey

Frog and Toad (Collection box set) by Arnold Lobel

The Little Engine That Could (Original Classic Edition) by Watty Piper

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

Just about every Dr. Seuss book I can think of, here’s a few:

  • Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
  • Green Eggs and Ham
  • The Cat in the Hat

The Berenstain Bears series by Stan and Jan Berenstain (did you know they wrote over 300 books in this series?)

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter (and several other Potter books

Curious George by H.A. Rey

Cars and Trucks and Things That Go by Richard Scarry (and other books by him like What Do People Do All Day?)

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Rudolf Wyss

Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales by The Brothers Grimm

The Little House collection by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

The Call of the Wild by Jack London

Nancy Drew Mystery Stories (I read most of the collection) by Carolyn Keene (a pseudonym for a collection of paid writers who each wrote a book; starting first with author Mildred Wirt Benson)

Hardy Boys book series by Franklin W. Dixon (I will admit, I didn’t read all of this series, but I read most of the books)

What About You?

Share some of your childhood favorites. I sprinkled in some from my toddler years through early elementary school. I will save middle school and high school for future posts. I can’t wait to reminisce with you. Comment below or tag me on social media!

~Natasha

With social media, we get snippets and highly edited reels of fragments of other people’s lives. It’s curated in a way that either props someone up to be idealized or entangled so deeply that they become just another image or video in the social sea. Many people are positively using social media platforms to connect in healthy ways with others. There is a genuine interest in learning more about others, sharing experiences, and giving more than taking.

I’m interested in knowing how you typically invest your hours on any given Friday.
LakeMetroparks.com
  • Are you staring at the clock all day in anticipation of zipping over to happy hour?
  • Are your Fridays like your Mondays, so they are super fast or really slow, all day long?
  • Are you slammed with meetings from start to finish?
  • Is Friday the day you’re catching up on everything you didn’t do the other days of the week?
  • Does your work day end in the morning, afternoon, or evening?
  • Do you have a routine before or after work?
  • Do you have Friday off and that’s the day you focus hours on class work for the course you’re taking? Or is it your beach, lake, or park day?
  • Is Friday “errands day” followed by pampering at the barber shop, hair salon, nail salon, or spa?

What do you do when your work day ends?

  • Do you head straight home?
  • Do you stop by and pick up your go-to meal from your favorite restaurant? Or order it for delivery?
  • Do you go to the gym?
  • Is Friday your dedicated Bowling or Skating Night?
  • Are you heading over to watch your child participate in an extracurricular activity?
  • Is it happy hour time with co-workers, friends, or just you and whoever is sitting nearby?
  • Do you meet up with friends to play card games (like Poker or Spades) or dominoes, chess, or video games?
  • Do you find a movie theater or drive-in to chill out and watch something funny or scary?
  • Do you volunteer at a local nonprofit?
  • Do you rush to your family to take part in a family routine like Fajita Fridays? or Fortnite Fridays?
  • Is it the start of your shopping spree? Or your Netflix and chill, binge-watching experience?

If you read my last post, I shared the thematic week days that I follow to keep me organized and feeling more confident (and less stressed). I mentioned what I do on Friday Team & Overflow Day, and I shared some tips on how you could modify your day. As I mentioned in that post, a few weeks ago I made the decision to structure my work week so that Friday’s I could shut things down by 3:30 pm. It requires great discipline Monday through Thursday, and sometimes I run over, give myself a “pass”, and relax when I’ve finally finished the task. I then can reflect, non-judgmentally, over the situation, understanding that “stuff happens”, and then I find ways to reward myself after-hours. A yummy meal or entertaining movie has been oh so rewarding!

If I pick up my nephew from school and take him to his swim lessons, then we usually eat a snack at the park or while driving to swim. After swim we seek out lunch and I’m usually listening to an audiobook, or we’re listening to music, or a Joel Osteen sermon. This four-year-old loves Joel Osteen! Then when he gets home we will either do a bike ride or he will play with his toys while I finish up my work tasks.

For about two years, I was trying to revive my childhood favorite, Pizza Night. As a child, my parents would take me out for pizza and video games, every Friday. And if you love pizza like I love pizza, then you know how absolutely awesome this was. We did this for years.

In 2019, I started testing it out and then in 2020, almost every Friday I was finding ways to enjoy pizza and a movie, or pizza followed by video games, and then a movie. The little child in me would giggle with glee. I have to be mindful of what I eat leading up to Friday and for lunch that day, so that Friday is more joy that guilt. I don’t want to have buyer’s remorse. That would suck.

I would love for my nephew to grow up experiencing the joy of themed days, anticipating the experiences that he will share with his loved ones. What a great tradition to pass on!

Another routine that I’m getting the hang of is doing laundry on Friday, so that my Saturday isn’t bogged down with laundry, housecleaning, and then trying to squeeze in my pamper sessions (with hair and skincare). I also mentioned that in my last post, and that I’ve been tweaking my Saturday and Sunday more and more each week. So far, I’m liking the results and how I feel. I’m noticing that I’m sleeping better, getting the most out of my days, waking more energized—yes, even on Mondays!

I have some other questions for you.

Can our Friday help to set up our Monday for success? Or does the weekend still play a major part? Or is whichever day that begins our workweek the day that we dread? If you have Mondays off, then would Tuesday be the day you dread, for instance? Or what if you worked every day except Wednesday and Thursday, would you dread seeing Friday pop up?

And why the dread? Do we have to rethink our workweek? Or is it that we have to rethink how we see work? Do we have to rethink the work that we’re doing or where we’re doing our work?

What do you think?

I won’t lie, I am trying to position myself where I can take Fridays off and get full breathing room for the weekend. I truly believe that I can create the infrastructure and systems that will allow all of my worlds to cohabitate in a Monday through Thursday realm. I’m hoping to achieve this some time this year. Heck, we’re almost half-way through 2022, and I’m excited at what I’ve achieved so far with my modified days. I believe I can do it and thrive.

Have you achieved this? Is it something that you desire? I know it’s not feasible for all work arrangements. I have noticed that there is a growing number of businesses that are converting to this framework, or providing it as an option for workers.

“The five-day week is not the ultimate, and neither is the eight-hour day.”

– Henry Ford, 1926

Ole’ Henry was ahead of his time!

~Natasha

As I shared in my last post, I made the decision years ago to modify my work life using a thematic work day system. I’ve even learned how to use the same principles and concepts to blend in a similar system for my personal life, where the two systems complement rather than collide with each other. Let me first break down the professional application and then show you how the personal element is seamlessly blended in.

Monday Management Day

I’m focused on all-things management, outlook for the week, start-of-week client check-in, deep dive into business emails, reply to student emails, grade course work, post to class discussion forums. This is the day I check to see which bills have been paid, are pending bank processing, and still need to be handled. I’m operations focused. I’m looking at what was leftover from the previous week, what surfaced over the weekend that needs my attention.

Tuesday Product Day

I’m focused on blog writing, podcast researching and outlining, handling R&D for courses I’m designing, grading course work, recording any audio and videos. I set aside time to work on any current book project.

It’s all about the products!

Wednesday Marketing Day

Artwork for the podcast is designed, edited, proofed (3 weeks out), the focus is also on social media posts, promotional efforts, drafting newsletters, artwork prep for books, grading course work (does it ever stop?), and I’m prepping myself for my weekly live seminar for one of my college courses.

Thursday Client Day

I’m checking in with clients, reports are sent to them on this day, I’m usually posting to my class discussion forums, and if needed I’m recording class videos for my students (to help them through any sticky points). This doesn’t mean that if a client reaches out to me on Tuesday (the day after our Monday outlook day) that I’m not going to engage with them until Thursday. No, it means I’m focused on coming with solutions on Thursday. I’m going to address their concerns, problems, issues, ideas on Thursday— and they are confident that what I’m bringing is value-packed. It’s an internal focus that also has external benefits. My clients benefit from this system that molds and disciplines me.

Friday Team & Overflow Day

This is a great day for outreach to teams, send gift cards, team events, etc. Just recently, I intentionally restructured my day so that it ends early so I can get a head start on the weekend. This is now my light workload day. But it requires great discipline Monday through Thursday to pull this off. On Friday, I’m focused on whatever needs to be done in the writing process for my books. I will even pop into a class discussion and see what’s evolving in the forum. Yes, working on the book is something that is Tuesday-aligned, and discussion forum posting is Thursday-aligned, but it is also what I see as my overflow day to invest in activities that need extra attention.

If a client had a question or concern after Thursday’s reporting, Friday is when I want to address it. Well, actually I want it addressed on Thursday, but I know that sometimes things have to marinate or be examined from different directions, and that may mean questions surfacing the next day. I don’t want them calling me over the weekend. Not anymore. When I reach out to them on Friday to wish them a relaxing weekend I always say, “I will chat with you on Monday!” This didn’t use to be the case. I used to reserve Fridays for client reporting. This always meant a 7-day workweek and both ends of my candle burning, faster and faster each week. But no longer! And guess what? Some of my clients have asked how they can adopt this (or a similar) system for their business and personal lives. Once again, this system has internal and external benefits.

Saturday Personal Development

I’ve claimed this day for a full immersion experience. I’m focused on me and my development, recharging, and re-engaging. I’m deep-diving in my language lessons through Duolingo. I’m exploring my family tree and following up on leads from my research. I’m getting the chance to read more leisure books. I’m also doing research for the books and articles that writing. I’m spending a few hours writing or editing a book. I might pop over to pin some ideas in Pinterest (a rare occurrence, but when it comes to mind I jump on it). I might spend some time outlining ideas that came to me in a dream. I’m finishing any laundry I didn’t finish on Friday.

And since I made the brainiac move to take three courses through a local college, I usually double-check to ensure that I’ve completed my course work by or before Saturday. One class just recently ended and the other two will end this month. Remind me not to take three classes ever again while trying to juggle all that is on my plate. I have no clue why I thought it would be “okay”. I’m a weirdo, clearly. But determined to finish what I started and to do it with excellence, I’m exhaustingly pleased with the A’s I’ve been maintaining this semester. But I won’t torture myself like this again. Oh no no no!

My phone is setup using one of the Focus features, restricting calls, texts, and notifications from anyone not on my “Favorites” list. It took my clients a few weeks but now they have learned and now believe me when I say, “I will chat with you on Monday”. This has been a lifesaver. Even if I do have an idea for something work-related, my day is so mellow that it doesn’t feel like work. I jump in and then jump out.

Sunday Rest Day

I’m totally disconnected from pretty much everything. I just adopted this a couple of weeks ago and it has been an absolute blessing. Before, Sunday was my overflow day, and I was miserable, because it felt like a 7-day workweek. Now, I have my phone setup to use one of the Focus features, restricting calls, texts, and notifications from anyone not on my “Favorites” list. This is my day for lounging, reading books, watching TV (since I don’t watch it during the week anymore), and maybe I will head to the park or the beach, or visit family for a few hours. If I’m inspired to write then I write. If I’m not, then I don’t.

Each Day

Before my day begins I’m focused on these steps:

  • Studying my Breaking Bread With Natasha post for the day
  • Studying my Bible lesson plan: I usually follow one or two plans using a Bible app
  • Read from a spiritual book/devotional
  • Prayer and meditation time
  • Listen to a spiritual message
  • Listen to a leadership/business message
  • Journal time: I’m getting better at this now that it is plugged into my morning routine
  • Workout 30-60 minutes

With the exception of working out, I complete these things before checking emails, texts, social media, or doing much of anything else. I’ve done all of these things before my workout and before breakfast. Most days I make sure to continue ignoring email and social media until I’ve completed my workout. On the weekends I may not workout, it depends how much I committed to exercising during the workweek, and if I feel like it.

My evening routine includes:

  • Practicing my languages using the Duolingo app: I’m actively learning three, passively practicing two, and two languages are on hold (because they require more attention as they aren’t Latin-based and have more inflections, symbols, and accents than the others)
  • Listening to an audiobook and/or reading a book for leisure
  • Double-checking my to-do list and calendar for the next day (even though there are some nights where I forget or am too tired to care).

Thematic days may be the very thing missing in your life or it might confuse and frustrate you even more. I have to admit, the thematic system requires major discipline. You can’t focus on anything else but what is designated for that day. For instance, I’m not dealing with marketing stuff on Management Monday.

Yes, there is some flow-through with products on Marketing and Client day, because you of course will be talking about your products on those days, but what’s the driving force? What is the main focus? What energy is being exerted?

On Thursday I’m focused on my clients, their wants and needs. Whether the client is through Foreman & Associates, or the customers who buy my books, or the students who pay to attend my classes. I won’t cut into that day talking about podcast artwork. That has to wait until next Wednesday. I had all day on Wednesday to get that sorted out. It can wait.

Unless it’s a crisis or has the potential to become one, I don’t deviate from the themed day. And if I do, I recalibrate the entire week so that I don’t create a domino effect.

Working in themes means treating each day like it’s game day. A sports team is playing another team on a given day. They aren’t thinking about the team they will be playing on another day. At a track meet, the athlete isn’t thinking about their next race or event, their focused on what’s in front of them. Laser-focused. Focus on today’s battle and get that win. That is kinda what a thematic work day can be molded into. True intentionality.

You can build in an overflow day like I did, allowing you to catch-up or just drill down more on something that you don’t want to put off to another day or week. You can structure your days as you see fit. You might decide that you need Tuesday and Thursday to be your product/service day. You might dread Monday and choose to approach it from a different standpoint than a focus on operations. Whatever you need to create structure and order, find it, do it, and maintain it.

If You Want Freedom, Take It or Make It

We all talk about freedom and what it looks like to us, but how are we taking ahold of it and making it our reality? I’m tired of dreaming about the future life of less stress and bustling from my hustling. I’m defining the ever-expanding concept of freedom for me. I’m determining how and when my hours are spent, and with whom. I’m learning the love that comes from saying, “No” to all things and people who aren’t positively pouring into me, my mission, and my purpose. They no longer get priority.

I’m no longer breaking my neck to be “On” for everyone else. There’s no peace in the chaos so I’m choosing the calm. I’m choosing boundaries and sticking to them.

Don’t tell me what can’t be done just because it doesn’t align with the status quo. Change disrupts status quo. Innovation disrupts status quo. You and I don’t have to choose to a life of status quo.

But What Happens When The Unexpected Occurs

And to those who want to come with the what-ifs, I can say that yes, all of this, my system and the way I now operate, is still doable in the uncertainty of change. Even when the storm rolls in I can adjust my thinking and approach with a makeshift system, to deal with the temporary, without buckling under the pressure. By conditioning myself with a system I am now better prepared for the unknowns. I’m actually anticipating change. I’m making moves that will force change. Each day is like the training I underwent in college as a track sprinter, and the training I took part in as a strength athlete. Change comes but your foundation remains the same.

In 2020 and 2021 I was like a person in quick sand—flapping around, exhausted, and drowning — and then I realized that freedom from that trap comes from being still, flat, and calm. By re-adopting and better aligning myself to a system that is designed for a person who thrives in structure, but is flexible to change, I can claim the peace and freedom that I desire. It’s not for everyone, but it’s working for me, and maybe it will work for you. Try it out and let me know!

Love,

Natasha

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

Some people have asked me to about how I stay organized. I don’t. Haaa just kidding. I do a pretty good job and lately I’ve been doing better. It can get a little chaotic trying to juggle the hats of entrepreneur, author, professor, blogger, and podcast host. And then, let’s not forget that I do have a life outside of my professional one. I’ve had more than my share of seasons of burn-out and not too long ago I thought I was going to be in a hospital bed if I didn’t get things together. On Tuesday, Foreman & Associates released a blog post on productivity tips to use when taking work breaks, and I’m determined to implement them in my life. Let me share with you some of the things that I do and the tools that I use to keep me from running around like a wild woman.

Tools

As I’ve shared on the Don’t Call It Small…Business podcast (DCIS), in Episode 72, I’m old school with a lot of things, and that includes note-taking, journaling, and tracking my master calendar.

I like using paper, pencil, and pen

I use notebooks for outlining the topics, themes, and schedules for blogs and podcast. I use them to help me write my books, and whenever I have an idea for a future book. I track my writing progress using a notebook, summarizing what I accomplished during a writing session.

Whether I’m meeting with clients or students, you can guarantee that I’m taking notes by hand. Thank goodness I’m a fast writer and have my own form of shorthand that allows me to quickly capture the information shared. I use client notebooks where I keep track of my projects, notes, reminders, tasks, and more.

I use a paper organizer, to-do list, and calendar system. I like to write out my schedule and to-do’s so that I’m mindful and intentional with what I am committing to. I try to map out my schedule and tasks weekly, so that I can have a decent outlook and can make changes as-needed. As I explained during Episode 72 of DCIS, I like the tactile exchange of energy when writing instrument meets paper.

But I Like Tech Too!

Don’t get me wrong, I also like tech. I was born a techie! I convert high priority tasks, appointments, and events to my online calendar and app, so that I’m synced across all devices. Which apps do I use?

  • Focus (iOS feature): I use the Do Not Disturb, Personal, Sleep, and Work features to the fullest. I have it shared across all of my devices and boy howdy does it work! When I’m in Do Not Disturb mode I tell my mom and sister in advance, because I have it setup that I can’t be contacted by anyone (no how and no way) and there are absolutely no notifications from people or apps during the designated period. In the other three modes only my “Favorites” list can reach me. Everyone else and everything else is silenced. They are automated to trigger the moment I do certain things or open certain apps on my devices. This has been so helpful with keeping me focused and limiting my distractions.
  • Screen Time (iOS feature): I use this to restrict my access to apps, set limits based on my contacts, and more. Once screen time kicks in I have to override the system to access an app, web page, etc. I have to make that choice to go around the system, which means it better be a good reason. I love this feature because it keeps me off of social media. I only get a certain amount of minutes each day before it kicks me out. When I do an override it is usually for 15 minutes or if I need something really quick, I will select “for 1 minute” and I get in and get out before the system shuts me out. This has helped me be more focused, intentional, and disciplined.
  • Podio: I compartmentalize my business ventures as virtual “offices” with this app; I will admit that I’ve slacked off on using this app over the past year, but that’s not a reflection on Podio.
  • Evernote: I use it for research, to bookmark a website that I’m interested in, and more
  • Google Sheets app (to quickly access info from my mobile device)
  • Google Docs app (for the same reason as above)
  • Reminders app for iOS: I set it up to annoy me into compliance. Basically, I schedule enough repeat reminders until completion, and trust me you will get the task done. I even set reminders to water my plants, make phone calls, get my nails done, and to force me to sit my butt down and enjoy a pamper day (full body skin detox and more)
  • Grammarly is a lifesaver folks! I try to remember to use it for everything. Sometimes you can type too fast for your own good and miss some major mistakes.
  • Voice Memos app for iOS: I love it, especially when I’m driving and clearly can’t write and drive.

Tricks

Okay I wouldn’t call them tricks, but rather a system, and one that I can’t take credit for creating. Years ago, I read an article about how Jack Dorsey operates multiple companies (at the time, Twitter and Square), and he shared that his days are thematic. I can’t recall where he initially learned the skill from, but he did credit another entrepreneur. Anyway, I analyzed the process and fell in love. I adopted it and have to admit, any time I deviate from a thematic approach I find myself in chaos. I need structure like I need air. Last year I swayed and boy did I feel it. I’ve buckled down and gotten serious this year and the past few weeks have been like floating on clouds of joy. Let’s look at all that I juggle professionally:

  • Professor: I don’t think I ever have a day off in the eyes of my college students. Every day I’m receiving a “Professor Foreman” email and I smile. I teach classes at two institutions and both have their unique culture and expectations. I have courses to develop, curriculum to keep fresh and challenging, assignments to read and grade, projects to oversee, and more much.
  • As a published author my writing never stops. I’m currently in the editing phase of my third set of books, as part of the Seek Him book series. Once this set is finalized and the printer gets to work on it, my eyes have to pivot to the next book that I have on the calendar that is supposed to be released this Fall (sssh don’t tell anyone) and next Spring another book is slated for release. Yes, I do have scheduled breaks that I’m taking in between all of these, but the inspiration doesn’t stop flowing in just because I’m on break.
  • Foreman & Associates, LLC (F&A): consulting and professional development firm: I have clients who have to be reminded that they aren’t my only clients; I just love them for wanting me all to themselves (that’s what I tell myself). There’s been some major overhauling of F&A over the years, and especially this year (thank you global pandemic for the wake-up call). Bittersweet is an understatement.
  • Don’t Call It Small…Business podcast: weekly I’m focused on delivering content on themes and topics that listeners have requested, and that have been presented through my own experiences. Sometimes I interview people. You can say that it falls under the professional development arm of Foreman & Associates. And I don’t want to forget that I have to devote time finding companies and professionals to show some love to during our Business Shout-Out segment.
  • Blogs, blogs, and more blogs: Since 2009, I’ve been blogging through BreakingBreadWithNatasha.com and today I made an announcement that the blog is transitioning from five days per week to seven days of sharing scriptures, reflections, and prayers. I have an audio version that is available for readers who want to listen while they read, or just listen. Of course, there’s this blog site, you know, the one you’re reading right now. Yep. I’ve been blogging here since 2011 I think. I’m not consistent with it like my Breaking Bread one. Lastly, and just as important, I write posts for my business ventures.

Thematic Weeks

How do I break all of this down in themes?

  • Monday Management Day
  • Tuesday Product Day
  • Wednesday Marketing Day
  • Thursday Client Day
  • Friday Team & Overflow Day
  • Saturday Personal Development
  • Sunday Rest Day

I will explain each day in detail in another post.

I Finally Stick to My Designated Hours

Thanks to my apps I have alarms set that guide me through my prayer and journal time, workout time, my work hours, work wind-down period, and then “work day is over”. When that alarm notifies me that it’s time to start preparing to wind down for the day, I make sure that I’m going at a pace that will allow me hit my mark. No goofing off and absolutely no distractions. I refuse to take calls or respond to emails and texts during this period.

If I’m serious about my time then I have to give it my all. When the alarm notifies me that my day is done, guess what? Daggumit I’m done. Whatever I didn’t finish can wait until tomorrow. If it’s something tightly theme-based then most likely it’s a deliverable that can wait until the next week. I’ve been getting in the habit of working ahead of schedule so that I’m a week ahead, in some instances.

I’ve only gotten into this rhythm over the past few weeks and I can say, so far so good. I’m less stressed and sleeping much better, waking up feeling well-rested. I’m learning to say no, even if money is on the table. Guess what? The money means absolutely nothing if I’m not alive to invest it or spend it. I’m learning to prioritize better and to be intentional about the hours that make up each day.

Final Tips

You probably noticed that I shared tips throughout this post. My suggestion to you is to find out how you’re wired and what type of structure and ecosystem that you need to operate within. What works for one person may not work for you. What works for you may be a nightmare for me. Make sense? You may not work well with the old school pencil and paper or it may be your saving grace.

Thematic days may be exactly what you need. As I stated earlier, in my next post, I will invest time in explaining how I build out and support my themed days, and how this system has benefited me personally and professionally.

That’s All Folks!

Well, there you go. That’s basically how I run my life, stay organized, and sane. This is how I’m reclaiming my life and closing the door and gates on the old mindset of 90+ hour work weeks, that almost landed me in the grave 65+ years (or thereabouts) too early. I hope that what I’ve shared here helps you, helps someone. Please share with friends, family, and colleagues. And just like that, one of my alarms has alerted me that my time is up. So, now I must go. I will see y’all next week!

Love,

Natasha

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

We’re all busy in our busyness, so it’s understandable that you probably missed one or more of my Don’t Call It Small…Business podcast episodes. In response to listener requests and feedback, we’re answering your questions and responding to your “What-ifs”. To make it easier for you to access the most recent ones that you have missed, I’ve shared them below. Just click the corresponding image or the link beneath each image.

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~Natasha