What is amazing is that John Steinbeck wrote The Grapes of Wrath in 1939 and it covered the era of the Dust Bowl, yet 81 years later I can see scenes of that past displayed in painful images and news reports today. If you don’t know 1930s US history, then let me give you a quick recap of what the Dust Bowl was all about and how I’m tying this into present-day.

Due to years of drought and improperly farmed land (due to high demand of rapid cultivation), wind erosion, and the influx of mechanized farm equipment a decade earlier, the unanchored soil turned to dust. That dust was whirled up by strong winds that swept huge billowing dust clouds throughout the panhandle of Oklahoma (northwest), northern Texas, northeast New Mexico, southeast Colorado, western and central Kansas, and a speck of southwestern Nebraska in the early 1930s.

More than 100 million acres were impacted by the dust storms, most of the states affected were choked off by dust for over four years, while some states were impacted for over 8 years. Tens of thousands of people were displaced because they could no longer farm their lands, pay their bills, and provide for their families. By 1936, the financial loss was $25 million per day, which is the equivalent to approximately $460 million today, according to the Federal Reserve of Minneapolis.

Families who had lived on their properties for generations, were forced to leave with whatever they could pack and load in their vehicles. Their houses and other structures were oftentimes bulldozed and destroyed. Since the banks now owned the lands because the families took out loans that they later could not repay, these families were left to be tenant farmers and had no claim to the land they once owned free and clear. Banks showed no mercy as they forced the families from their homes and off of their lands. Sound familiar?

My maternal grandparents were born and raised in Oklahoma, and were children during the Dust Bowl. Thankfully for them, the storms never reached their part of the state and they never had to leave their family’s lands. And although I’m a California native, thankfully when my parents and paternal grandparents moved to that state, the chaos of decades earlier had been a memory far removed. But maybe you can see another reason why I’m naturally drawn to the story, The Grapes of Wrath. Both sides of my family have been landowners and property owners for generations. Imagine making it past the Civil War and finally gaining a footing in this cruel country, to then be forced off of the land you bought and worked on. Just devastating.

Tens of thousands of people traveled from Dust Bowl states and migrated to California, because it was known as a state that survived the Great Depression better than most states. Individuals and families saw California as their second chance to rebuild and thrive. What they didn’t know was that Californians didn’t want outsiders and “foreigners”. The migrants were called “Okies” and this wasn’t just because many of them were from Oklahoma, it soon became a derogatory term to describe the level of disgust that Californians felt for the migrants. Yes indeed, people from other states were called foreigners, and they looked down on them. If you look at our country today, locals don’t feel cheery about a spike in their population due to newcomers. They start to fear a shortage in jobs, housing, opportunities, and space on the freeways and highways. They start to fear a spike in the cost of goods and services. Although they give the side eye, they aren’t acting out like we did decades ago.

Not yet at least.

If you read The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck then maybe you recall the struggle and strife of the people and families impacted by the Dust Bowl. You should also recall how they were overlooked and taken advantage of by those in their home states who didn’t lose their properties, and they were treated considerably worse by people in California.

Those who made it to California were forced to accept scraps, beg for jobs, and be subjected to inhumane conditions. And back then, the Salvation Army had a bad reputation in California for mistreating the destitute. If the “Okies” protested what Californians were doing to them then they were beaten, arrested, and many were murdered. Yes, even law enforcement was in on the mistreatment. Sadly, the migrants watched as their campsites were burned down by locals who didn’t want “Okies” there. Locals didn’t want to compete with the migrants so they did everything they could to force them out of the state.

Californians drove wages as low as possible to ensure that the migrants couldn’t live dignified lives. They created a mindset where people would accept anything just to eat. They would work for scraps of food to keep from dying of hunger. To keep prices of their crops high, the big landowners in California destroyed some of their crops instead of letting hungry migrants eat them. This waste and cruelty caused a “crop” to develop and sprout in the souls of the migrants—which Steinbeck coined, the grapes of wrath.

The irony is, Californians were doing all of that to protect the land that they stole from Mexicans. Yep, California was part of Mexico, along with Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas until 1850, 1912, and 1848, respectively. How did this happen? Well, in the early 1800s, Americans were desperate and they decided to travel to other lands looking for opportunities for a better life. They saw ripe acres of land and they chose to become squatters. They built houses, planted on and farmed the lands, and eventually stood strengthened in the belief that the land was now theirs. Since Mexicans hadn’t considered that squatters would be an issue, they weren’t prepared for what ultimately happened—losing their land to immigrants who forcefully fought to remain on land not theirs. In 1848 Texas fought and became a state. In 1850 California became a state, and because they also fought hard against slavery, it was a free state as part of the Union. Arizona and New Mexico eventually gained statehood in 1912.

Now, fast forward to the 1930s with Californians “owning” the land, they saw their old selves in the migrants, and rather than being neighborly, they acted rabid. They feared losing the land the same way they got it. They feared the migrants from Oklahoma and other states, and feared that just as they squatted on the land and fought the Mexicans, that the migrants would do the exact same thing to them.

If this wasn’t so painful to examine it would be comical. This nonsense has been happening since this country was first stolen from Native Americans. Our inability to coexist, share, be content with what is allotted to us in a land where we are all foreigners, so we steal that land and it’s resources from the people who allowed us to come here. Then when newcomers arrive we tell them we don’t want them here, there’s not enough land and resources to share. All I can do is smirk and shake my head.

If you never read The Grapes of Wrath and doubt you will go buy a copy or check out one from the library, let me help you out. I searched on YouTube and found all three parts of the audiobook from two sources. Below are the links. Listen to the book. Listen and see how then, is in many ways, now, and now is then.

Audiobook Part 1 https://youtu.be/CzdoHqBhcdc Audiobook Part 2 https://youtu.be/3ofBuTMAtc4 Audiobook Part 3 https://youtu.be/0sjzwlkkLmg

This savagery, as I call it, is cyclical— generation after generation. We keep repeating this nonsense and we don’t see the need to stop and live right. We don’t see the need to treat others with dignity and respect, just as we would like to be treated. Greed drives it all. Big business keeps squashing the little person, banks keep getting bailed out even though they won’t do the same for their depositors, and the frenzy drives the working class into a state of sheer desperation and madness—where they too begin turning on each other. Sound familar? If only people learned how to unite against the status quo. That was a thread of wisdom that Steinbeck wove through the story, where certain characters would propose the concept of strength in numbers, and standing as a collective voice and force—but each time, fear would get in the way. Just like today.

In the book, people were prevented from buying land in California, and if it appeared there was an opportunity to purchase, the price would be set so high that the dream would quickly disappear. They would be forced to live in government and other campsites, with communal facilities, and unsanitary conditions. Today, how do we get the “undesirables” out of neighborhoods and communities? We raise the price of rent, we increase our police presence to get more arrests, we create or unfairly enforce rules or laws that target them, and we make the living conditions unbearable. That is also the strategy to keep people away.

I’ve read several articles recently about the skyrocketed cost of living in California and the staggering number of homeless who have no where safe to go. People with jobs who can’t afford to rent are being forced to sleep in their vehicles, in shelters, or on the streets. Just the other week I read of a tiny house community that was built to house the homeless. It’s ridiculous that this community even had to be built. If property owners reduced their rates on their rentals people could rent. If property owners stopped being greedy trying to sell their homes for way more than their worth, we could have more homeowners. But guess what? Between greed and fear, no one is budging from their position.

But guess what else? It’s not just California that has lost their mind with these ridiculous rate hikes. Have you checked the rental and sales prices of properties in Atlanta, Georgia and surrounding cities? Absolutely ridiculous. There are some areas where you can still be mugged or carjacked yet the houses are being sold for $500,000 to $750,000. I’m not joking. Houses that once were $15,000 to $50,000 were remodeled and because some sucker (most likely from California, New York, or other high priced state) was willing to pay $350,000 or more for a property nearby, that encouraged other sellers to list their homes for comparable prices. All of this has been driving the market up, which means a bubble will be bursting soon, and people will be wailing about the injustice of it all when the property values come plummeting down to levels that actually make sense. We could stop these bubbles from growing in the first place if people stopped being greedy.

Everyone thinks that someone is going to take or destroy what’s ours, even when what’s ours isn’t rightfully ours. We keep living with a “them” versus “us” mindset, rather than realizing that we all want the exact same things in life, and given the opportunity we could all live side-by-side in harmony. We simply choose the chaos. When will we grow tired of this treachery? Share your thoughts.

Copyright 2020. Natasha L. Foreman.

Today, we learn that former NACA/NASA pioneer and hidden figure, Katherine Johnson has passed away. Many of us grew up not knowing Mrs. Johnson and the phenomenal work she did for NACA/NASA from 1953 to 1988.

Thousands of people admitted on social media and in interviews and private conversations that the first time they learned of Mrs. Johnson was when she and several other African American women were depicted in the 2016 film “Hidden Figures”.

Mrs. Johnson was depicted by Taraji P. Henson. The film sparked countless conversations and admissions by women, such as myself, who felt so close to the women depicted, and how we wished that we knew about them growing up because they could’ve served as the visual role models we needed to see when other people discouraged us from pursuing degrees and careers in fields that are predominantly led by men.

If you haven’t read Mrs. Johnson’s biography, a brief overview provided by NASA can be found here. I normally don’t cite Wikipedia, but there is extensive coverage of Mrs. Johnson here.

Thank you Mrs. Johnson!

Mrs. Johnson and other phenomenal women laid the foundation for other girls and women in STREAM areas. I hope that parents, schools, and great mentors begin to and continue to expose, and encourage, girls to pursue their passions in science, technology, robotics, engineering, architecture, mathematics, and other related fields.

As we still see low numbers of African American women represented in these fields, let’s be sure to not sabotage our girls by steering them to other fields that have historically been deemed “more appropriate” or “better aligned” with “girls strengths”. If they want to pursue engineering, then help open the doors to get them there.

Parents As Supporters

The engineer/technologist in me should’ve listened to my mom and dad who encouraged my love of science, technology, building and deconstructing, etc. My parents bought me books and kits on science, space, robots, technology, etc.

My dad bought me my first microscope and science kit, a computer in 6th grade, and he paid for me to take computer classes at a center that only had adult learners. He would let me work with him on the family cars, teaching me the various tools, parts, and what did what and how. My father drilled me on math as soon as I came out of the womb, always telling me the importance of math and that I was better at it than I believed.

My mom used to help me with ALL of my science projects, I mean all of them! She even played a major role in helping me design my 6th grade invention—that my parents and I didn’t think to patent, called the “Doorbell Butler”. It was then an early iteration of what is now the modern day “Ring” technology that millions of people use. Uugh every day we are reminded that we should’ve patented the idea. The iterations that led up to the modern devices all utilized elements of my invention. But no one will ever know, because I never patented mine.

Imagine your child having an idea that you help them design, you can patent it or just continue on to the next idea. We talk about patents all of the time now, but back in the day it wasn’t every day talk at the kitchen table and definitely not as it related to a child’s idea. It would’ve been cool being a 10-year-old patent holder!

Maybe you and your children have some patent-worthy ideas.

I appreciate my parents for encouraging me to try anything and everything, and pursue my passions. They exposed me to books, the arts, music, acting, sports, and much more. I fell in love with track and field as a child, and my parents never missed a track meet. Even attending my track meets in college.

Because of my parents I’m a book worm, lover of the arts, a passionate writer, athletic, and have fond memories of playing the piano and violin as a child.

My mom bought me my violin and would listen to me practice all over our home. She attended all of my piano recitals. My dad bought me a baby grand piano in 6th grade. He had visions of me playing in concerts as a classical pianist. I thought that was a far-stretch, but I still enjoyed it.

At my request, my parents would take me to acting school every single Saturday in Hollywood, CA when I was in 6th grade. Until of course my social life was begging for my attention and I started missing out on hanging out at the skating rink with my friends. Then, with my passion for skating intensifying, my parents shelled out about $200 so I could get these amazing speed skates—white with pink wheels and laces. I continued skating, almost weekly, until high school. I’m grateful for having the parents I was blessed with. Positive exposure is priceless!!!

Teachers As Instrumental or Destructive Gate Keepers

My parents invested in my passions but sadly, in high school I began to believe more in what teachers said to me. And that shaped the decisions that I made academically and professionally.

Instead of listening to my parents, I listened to teachers who “advised” me to focus my attention on being a writer, because that was my strength. They said that I wasn’t good at math so I could never work in the industries that interested me.

I even had a science teacher in high school say that the fields I was interested in were better suited for men. I should’ve repeated his words to my parents. Instead I internalized those words and began to believe that the teachers were right. We tend to believe the people who have degrees in the fields we’re interested in.

My parents majored in Business, so I chose to believe the people at my school teaching my science and math classes. Why is it we only listen to our parents as newborns and once we’re adults?

If Only I Knew

Imagine if I knew of the dynamic women at NASA! Imagine if I knew of the work they were doing. I then could’ve said, “but Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson have and are doing it, they paved the way so that I can too!”

When I was a child we didn’t have the Internet to turn to, at least not in the format that we have casually been using it since the 1990s. Growing up, you went to the library and researched using books and straining your eyes scrolling through microfiche.

So if there weren’t any books or articles published and later supplied by the school or public library, you wouldn’t read and know about the amazing people doing amazing things around the world. I would spend hours reading and collecting books to check out and take home from the library. I can’t ever recall reading a book about women, and especially not African American women, in these various industries.

Even when I think of Florence Nightingale, it is always in the context of training nurses and caring for soldiers during a war. It was never heavily stressed that she was a statistician. We only regard her as being the founder of modern nursing. And even then, the magnitude of that honor isn’t propelled as high as it should be. I will say, I’m too squeamish to have ever pursued a career as a nurse or doctor. So I would’ve thought she was cool, but never dug deeper into her story.

Heck, I don’t ever recall learning about Ada Lovelace until I was an adult, and that was because I was reading a book for personal enlightenment. Why is society so hush hush about this woman’s contribution to the world of computing? She was one of the first computer programmers and the first person to see the potential of a computing machine.

In the 1800s!

Maybe because it was the 1800s. And mathematics technology, and computing was considered “man’s work”. Heck, some still think it is.

Exposure to and of Black Women in STREAM

Maybe, just maybe during Black History Month, Marjorie Lee Browne, Evelyn Boyd Granville, Katherine Johnson, Melba Roy Mouton, and others were mentioned as being pioneers in mathematics, but it was clearly a rush job during trivia contests. It had no stickiness in my mind. It was most definitely not a part of my school’s curriculum.

I don’t know, maybe had I attended a predominantly Black school, maybe there would’ve been greater intentionality of exposing students to pioneers in this field and other industries. Maybe seeing ourselves in these women would’ve helped us appreciate mathematics more.

Maybe had I known about Mary Jackson, Christine Darden, and others then I would’ve known about the multitude of paths I could have taken in engineering. Had I known about Annie J. Easley, maybe I would’ve had greater interest in computer science.

But then again, we know of countless children who attend predominantly Black K-12 schools who are just as or more clueless about the accomplishments of thousands of Black scientists, mathematicians, engineers, architects, inventors, etc.

We have hundreds of students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) that would struggle answering trivia questions about Black women in the industries mentioned.

Do we somehow see it as the responsibility of the student to seek out and find this knowledge independently? What we don’t know that we don’t know is hurting and holding us back.

Society’s Role

Society needs to do a better job of encouraging our children to pursue whatever path they desire. So what if they fail. Failing teaches you how to succeed, it builds grit and character, and it’s quite humbling. I would rather fail at trying something I’m passionate about than sit by wishing I had taken the step to pursue my passions. Woulda, coulda, shoulda is an awful place to be.

You Can’t Be Great Again Without Girls and Women

Just about every nation around the world wants to be great, they want to be recognized world leaders. Well it’s already been proven that if girls and women are not empowered and factored into that winning strategy, as major contributors, in the industries that generate the power and influence that those in government desire—then those nations and those leaders will fail miserably.

Look at how the US is suffering and has been suffering for the past 25-plus years. We better invest in our girls and women, and do so in a positive way. If not, we won’t be holding on to this number one spot for long, and our education scores and rankings will continue to spiral and plummet.

Let’s help to raise and nurture more girls to pursue their passions, whether in STREAM-related fields, or other areas of interest. Not just some girls, all girls. Don’t block their blessings, open the doors to countless opportunities! Help them to see and be futuristic so that they can make a lasting impact, be agents of change, and build honorable legacies.

Thanks NASA

Thank you NACA/NASA for unknowingly and at times begrudgingly opening doors of opportunity for women, and specifically, African American women. I know that initially, the roles for women in NACA were thought to be mindless positions. The 1950s were an interesting time and a woman’s place was a huge debate. I know that the extra flames were fanned when the topic of race was included. The thought of Black women being as smart and smarter than their white male coworkers, definitely had to be a combative environment at times.

But soon you were forced to realize the true gems you had hidden, and you had no choice but to let those gems rise, shine, and do what they do best. I thank you for realizing that risking failure of NACA and later NASA just wasn’t worth it. You wisely bet on these women.

I thank the few astronauts who cared more about their life and returning home safely, than being caught up in the sexist and racist trap of thinking a Black woman couldn’t possibly be smarter than the man-made computers, and the men overseeing the department.

The Future is Now

We’re at a rocky time in history right now. Some men are scared of the power and force that comes from letting women do what they were born and taught to do. Some men are afraid of being seen as less superior, smart, and accomplished. Some men (including some Black men) can’t fathom seeing a Black woman in a role equal to or above their own.

What we fear we try to suppress, correct, and destroy. Let’s break this cycle. It’s destroying us as a nation, as a people.

We should be nations empowered by parents who tell their children, “yes you can!” We should see fathers creating, building and deconstructing things with their daughters, just as they would with their sons. Let’s stop this foolishness of “man’s work” and “woman’s work”. My dad told me when I was a child that all of that was pure ignorance. He said that work is work and we should all take part in getting the job done.

~Natasha

Copyright 2020. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

The mind of a fool…

Does not trust what he can’t see…But trusts what he can see, even if it’s a LIE!

You claim you want freedom yet you choose your enslavement.

Stretch your mind. You are only using a fraction of its capabilities.

~Natasha

Copyright 2020. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

As I sit here, some things come to mind…

Many of us live through other people’s experiences. We dislike and fear what someone else dislikes and fears. We ourselves haven’t experienced what they did, yet we embrace the feelings and beliefs as though they are our own. Someone else was harmed by another person, so now we dislike that person for the harm they caused.

Someone didn’t like the food at a restaurant, so we never go and try it for ourselves. A person had a bad experience on their vacation, so we swear we will never visit that place.

That’s why so many people never travel beyond their town, city, county, state, region, or country.

That’s why some people never get on planes, trains, boats, and ships.

We never try new foods. We never read a different genre of books or listen to a different style of music.

That’s why some people don’t pursue educational dreams and career goals.

That’s why thousands of people can’t figure out how to fix their raggedy love life.

That’s why so many of us suffer.

We let other voices dictate to us.

We don’t know the truth but we accept someone’s words as truth.

We don’t think.

We don’t question.

We don’t seek answers.

We choose to exist rather than live. We confuse living with thriving.

When we’re thriving, fear has no stronghold, it has no footing.

When we’re thriving, our experiences are uniquely our own. No one else will have that exact same experience.

We know this.

That’s why two people can sit side-by-side on an amusement park ride and walk away with different experiences. Two people eat the same food at the same time but share different things about the food. One person tastes spices the other one didn’t notice or didn’t know what they were to define them. Two people arguing aren’t having the same experience, they are merely sharing the same space in time.

You have never eaten artichoke but you declare you don’t like it. Never tasted rhubarb but you swear it’s gross. Most likely, because you heard of someone else’s experience, or worse, their uninformed opinions from lack of experience.

How many of you have resolved to settle for a life of seeing the world through the pictures and experiences of other people?

You have to go to know.

People have opinions about cities, states, and countries that they have never visited. It’s hilarious and sad at the same time.

I smirk when I hear people make generalizations about a nationality, race, religion, or gender of people. Do you know every person of that nation, race, religion, or gender? Then how can you say, “all_____people…” or “____people do/say___”? But you don’t know all of them. So how do you know what they all say or do? You most definitely can’t say what one person thinks about all things, so how can you speak about an entire group of people?

I’m guilty of these ignorant statements. I try to catch myself after saying them.

I laugh when I hear or read people make statements about a group of people, yet they don’t know anyone from that group. They don’t know any Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, or Satanists. But they speak as though they do. They don’t personally know any people of African, European, Latin, Hispanic, or Asian descent—but from listening to them, you would swear that they know plenty.

Are all law enforcement officers corrupt, racists, bigots, sexist, and egomaniacs? No. Yet, there are people who see one officer and in that one, they see all. The broad generalization forms and becomes your personal belief system, creed, law.

And your one or few experiences doesn’t mean the totality for all humankind. Remember, those are your experiences, not mine, not your neighbors, and not your child’s.

We speak and act from ignorance. Since we choose not to educate ourselves through asking questions, researching, and stepping beyond our comfort zone, we say and do the stupidest of things.

You become more of what you are against than what you’re for. You are operating from a state of lack. That is a danger zone.

We regurgitate words from religious texts and ceremonies, without knowing their true and full meaning and application. We cling to historical figures and celebrities without knowing the person. Our idolization restricts us from being our authentic self. Our insecurities force us to manufacture false narratives to boost our desired perception. We follow man rather than lead ourselves. Because it’s an easier path and then you have someone to blame other than self.

There’s a reason for these words of declaration:

self-esteem, self-worth, self-enlightenment, self-empowerment, self-acceptance, self-actualization, self-awareness, self-control, self-expression, self-healing, self-help, etcetera.

It starts and ends with self.

We keep expecting others to do it for us. Be the positive change you want to see, stop waiting for it to happen. Take responsibility.

You must lead yourself or you will most definitely be led. And since you don’t know yourself, you will allow someone else to dictate and create your story for you. They will define you. You will allow someone else to determine your worth and value.

Your ignorance comes with a harsh penalty.

We spread our ignorance. We deposit it into our families, our children, our houses of worship, our workplaces, and our communities. We manifest the lack we obsess over.

The uninformed are the easiest to recruit, brainwash, and mold.

What you don’t know that you don’t know, can literally destroy you. Those who feel lost, neglected, powerless, voiceless, and forgotten are prey. That is why drugs, gangs (defined by many names), prostitution, and the sort have great prevalence in society.

People are being preyed upon and they don’t even know it. They have no clue that the biggest predators are the ones standing next to them, hugging them, and cheering them on.

You can blame whomever or whatever you like for the person that you are today. Or you can make the decision to intentionally live with a clean slate. You have the choice to write or re-write your story however you please, with your unique experiences. Your learning only stops when you choose to close yourself off from life. You may not be able to choose where to live your life, but you can choose how to live where you are.

You can live in the world and not be of it. You can be like the fish in the ocean, surrounded by salt, but not consumed by their environment.

Think about it.

Last week, I heard a message from Darren Hardy that spoke of this amazing truth. That fish of the sea live in salt water, they breathe and take in salt water. They eat things that are also in the water. Yet they don’t taste like tons of salt. All they do is swim around all day and night in salt water. But we barely taste the salt in them. That is how we should live our lives.

We can live in it but not be of it.

You aren’t your environment, circumstances, or your past. You aren’t the family you were born into or raised by, or the people you associate with.

Unless you choose to be.

You choose to associate with toxic people and behave like them. You choose to live in fear and ignorance. If you live in a “free” and “developed” nation, you choose to not journey beyond your town, city, county, state, or country. You choose to believe what you think, and to entertain the thoughts that surface. How life unfolds is based on the choices that we make.

How will you choose to live your life, experience the world, and see the people in it?

What will you choose to do without thought of your age, gender, or where you’re from?

What healthy choices will you make starting today?

This very moment.

Then do it!

I love you all,

~Natasha

Copyright 2020. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

I ran across this video, moments ago, and I felt compelled to share. It’s a conversation with centurions who have lived to be older than age 100. They share their experiences, lessons, and wisdom. A viewer commented (in the comments section below the video) that so many people are obsessed with listening to young celebrities, when we should be tuning in to listen to the words of our elders. The things that they’ve seen, heard, and experienced help to center us. Instead, we pass them by, we choose not to connect. We’re too busy to sit and listen to someone speak about their past and present. In so doing, we miss out on lifetimes of stories, lessons, and wisdom. We miss out on the beauty and purpose of life.

I am always thrilled to sit down and have a conversation with someone older and wiser. I miss my conversations with my grandparents. A couple of weeks ago I wrote my aunt Mary a letter. She’s my maternal grandmother’s sister. Writing her the letter felt nostalgic. Do you remember when writing letters was the norm? Now we lazily text, tap likes and hearts on social media posts, or quickly send an email. The latter is even pushing it.

My mother has reminded me from time to time about the joy that our seniors feel when they receive letters and cards in the mail. They get plenty of bills and junk mail. But the letters and cards are rare. Especially the letters. It doesn’t take long to write a message in a card. Or share the latest happenings in your life, in a one-to-two page letter.

I feel guilty for not connecting more with my family members over the past two years. I’ve allowed my personal troubles to interfere with my dearest of relationships. Knowing how devastated and heartbroken I am when they pass away, and I’m left with words unsaid. We should never be in a place in our lives where those connections with loved ones aren’t constantly reinforced. Let’s not take them for granted. Let’s not assume that they or we will be around to contact at a whim.

Please watch this video. It was produced by LifeHunters. When you get the lessons that you need to hear and realize, please share this with others. Let’s pay it forward. Then go a step farther—connect with an elder—family, friend, or stranger. And keep connecting, as often as you can. Don’t waste these precious moments in your busyness. You don’t want to live life filled with regret.

~Natasha

It’s been awhile since I’ve shared an update on me and my life, so let’s do this…

My Podcast

If you haven’t been tuning in and listening to my weekly business podcast, “Don’t Call It Small…Business” then what are you waiting for? This week was Episode 25 with Celebrity Cake Designer, Tracey Wright. She’s the founder of Black Diamond Edible Creations. I had a great time interviewing Tracey. You can listen to that episode or any of the 24 that preceded it by going to ForemanLLC.com/podcast

Next week will be the interview with Antwon Alsobrook, the Founder and CEO of A2D, Inc. He will be joined by his amazing wife, Monica Alsobrook, and I can guarantee that this is a two-part episode, because we will not only discuss Antwon’s business but we will also talk about the ups and downs, and highs and lows of trying to juggle entrepreneurship, family, and the nuances of life and marriage. Antwon and Monica have been through some things that would break most couples. Tune in next Wednesday to hear their story and why I’m so inspired to have them share it!

If you would like to be featured or interviewed on my podcast, please email us at DontCallitSmallBiz@gmail.com

My Book

My book is coming along great. I actually shed a few tears the other night as the title and cover art was finalized. I couldn’t believe my eyes. This has been a journey that has left me energized and exhausted, almost at the same time. I’m extremely grateful to the team of readers who have contributed feedback and suggestions to help make this and future projects something that I can be proud of. I’ve learned a lot about myself, and the writing and publishing processes. Heck, I should’ve written about this journey, as that is itself a book! What’s crazy is my writing schedule has me cranking through this process all over again in about 6 months. But it will oh so be worth it!

I’m excited that we’re in the process of scheduling book events for 2020 so that I can meet with many of you and thank you face-to-face for your support. I will keep you posted on all of the details about my book and how to get your hands on a copy, or three. Remember my thinking: a copy for you, a copy for a loved one, and a copy to donate!

Travel

I’m currently on the road, enjoying this vast country and the people in it. I had a great conversation with a woman on the plane the other day. She said she couldn’t wait to get home and enjoy being in her own bed. It’s interesting how excited we get to go away somewhere, but at some point we yearn to return to the comforts of home. I like my getaway time, but I know that I will smile brightly once the familiar smells and sights of home are before me.

New Year’s

I’m not really focused on the New Year and 2020 quite yet. It’s awkward for me to say because in the past I used to be obsessed with focusing on a new year new experience. However, this month I’m focused on investing fully into each day and getting the most out of each day, so that I can finish this month and year strong.

Break From Social Media

I’m going to take another break from social media for the remaining weeks of December. I want to focus focus focus. At the same time I want to reconnect with self, family, and friends. Life is about relationships and I truly believe that so many of our relationships are suffering because we think that a social media post like is the equivalent to an actual phone call or letter. I want to be intentional about my level of engagement in my relationships. No regrets!

So my personal social media will go light’s out until January. I will post announcements on my IG, FB, Twitter, and LinkedIn this weekend. If we’re not already connected on social media, follow me, so we can connect in the New Year.

Stay Tuned

Check back soon for more updates from yours truly!

~Natasha

Copyright 2019. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

Today I want to celebrate my friends and associates. I want to celebrate all that they have done, are doing, and aspire to do. Hopefully it will inspire you to support their efforts, where and when possible, and most importantly—encourage you to celebrate and uplift your friends and associates.

We spend a great amount of time on social media clicking on 👍❤ and other symbols to express our sentiments towards the achievements, dreams, and goals that our inner circles have publicly announced. We may even repost their messages so that our social network can be made aware of these victories and aspirations. But in what ways can we do more, go higher, and provide greater opportunities for those we call our friends? Let’s do some shout outs!

On July 3, 2019 I launched the Don’t Call It Small…Business podcast in honor of my father and my past dreams of being a broadcast journalist, and my desire to educate and be educated on business and by those in business. I also wanted a platform where I could celebrate my friends, associates, and complete strangers. Every week I devote time to highlighting the efforts of people that I know intimately, somewhat, very little, and not at all. It feels awesome to share my growing and evolving world with them, and vice versa.

So far through this podcast I’ve highlighted over 46 people with the following backgrounds:

  • published authors
  • psychotherapists, psychologists,
  • entrepreneurs
  • film, TV, and music industry professionals
  • Visual arts

I still have so many more people to highlight and interview. As the podcast is shared with strangers, they too reach out for that connection, and I gladly accept the relationship. Life is about relationships. Business is about interconnected relationships. We form, strengthen, weaken, break, and mend relationships on a daily basis. I don’t have the billions of dollars, yet, to invest in friends and strangers businesses, projects, and ideas as I would like, so I’m discovering and embracing other ways to lend my support.

Episode 22 aired this Wednesday and it featured my right hand, Eboni Brown. Listen to our conversation here Be sure to like and share it with your network of family, friends, associates, and social media pals!

Then ask yourself, how are you celebrating and showing support to the people you know and want to know?

You don’t have to wait until 2020 to start. Take the first step today!

Be sure to follow Foreman & Associates on IG and FB at @ForemanAndAssociates and on Twitter at @ForemanLLC You can read our company blog here.

I’m excited about future announcements that I will be sharing in the coming days and weeks. Be sure to set a reminder on your calendar to listen to Episode 23 of my podcast, next Wednesday, November 27th at 5pm ET. I will be interviewing my friend, Billie Harris, a Vinologist and the woman behind The Vino Van, LLC. You can listen in at ForemanLLC.com/podcast to hear us discuss all-things WINE!

Have a super awesome day and weekend!

~Natasha

Copyright 2019. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

Earlier this morning my mom shared these five simple words that form a very powerful message: Never Stop Living Your Dream!

live-your-dream

Mom said she heard the words in a Gladys Knight song and she thought they would help to serve through my blog. I wasn’t sure which blog she meant, so I figured that I could share on all of them. As I type this, I can’t help but to smile because had I only focused on sharing to one group of people (one blog community) then I would’ve ignored other people who may need to read and hear this message. Thank you mom for blessing me today with prayer and this suggestion for my blogs!

Since I just typed “hear this message”, I feel moved to speak and not just type the words that are coming to me. So let me switch over to video and let things flow. Just click on my Instagram video below and take a listen…

Copyright 2019. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

There’s no one in the world like my amazing cousin Princess Chere Peoples, that is her superhuman power!

Today we celebrate her 34th birthday. Although she’s my cousin, our relationship has always been more like big sis and little sis, as I’ve been in her life since she rocked and rolled in her mother’s belly. I gave her the nickname “Retabug” when she was a toddler, and I’ve been calling her that ever since.

For 5 years before my sister was born, it was just me and Princess Chere. It’s weird seeing the two of them all grown up as women.

10 years separate our age, but nothing separates us and our love.
Through her ups and downs, my cousin’s heart has always remained the same.

She smiles through her eyes. She’s often seen at work and at play with a big, beautiful flower in her hair. It is becoming her signature look that she rocks oh so beautifully.

She yearns to do more and give more. She’s eclectic and bold, never understated or to be underestimated.

Since she was a baby I told her she’s a Beautiful Black Nubian Princess, and what makes that extra special is that it’s the truth, not just words or affirmations. But the reminder helps when the world acts ugly.

Our names have meaning and we are guided by them. Her name is Princess and so there’s an expectation that she will live up to the royal moves that her name suggests. I’m proud of her for making moves that provide teachable moments and strengthening lessons, because she will better position herself for the decades ahead of her.

I want Princess to always see herself as God does, at all times, and in all ways—and then nothing and no one can change her, derail her, minimize her, or stop her. Always focused on being the Princess that she is!

Join me in wishing my cousin a very happy 34th birthday. 🎀💝💞💖🎉🎊🎁

I love you Retabug!!!!

~Natasha

Copyright 2019. Natasha L. Foreman.

Happy Tuesday!

Well if you happened to be on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter late last night, then you may have seen my post announcing that I changed my Instagram handle to match my other social media handles. See the post below.

Earlier in the day I also made an exciting announcement…I received notification that I was granted copyright permission to use various Bible translations in my two books that I’m writing. One is slated for release this year and the other one next year. This is great news because now I can proceed with the next steps. Here’s the announcement that I shared on social media yesterday afternoon…

I can’t wait to finally deliver to you the books that many of you have been waiting years for me to commit to write. It has been a journey indeed. Some people started asking me in 2013 to write a book and I just laughed off the requests. I then took the requests seriously and started writing in August 2016. I stopped and started a few times in 2017 and 2018. Now, after yesterday’s copyright approval, I’m one step closer to crossing the finish line.

So I keep marching, praying, pushing, hustling, and believing!

Be sure to tune in and join me for episode 14 of the Don’t Call It Small…Business podcast at 2pm ET. You can listen at ForemanLLC.com/podcast or at Spreaker, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, and Castbox.

Oh yeah, and one last thing…

Yep, text don’t call…and only people who are serious about positively contributing to our podcast should invest time in texting questions and suggestions. I thank you now for your contributions!

Well folks, as I say on my podcast, that’s a wrap. Until next time, have a super awesome day and week!

~Natasha

Copyright 2019. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

Hi family!

I am checking in. Here’s the latest with me…

My Health

I’m feeling better than last week. I still have a slight cough, but it’s mostly when I’m in AC or under a ceiling fan. My cool air humidifier is helping big time! Thanks to everyone who sent prayers and well wishes. I appreciate it and you!

My Business

I’m all over the place trying to wear many hats, while trying to get things done. Feeling loopy at times. Do you know that feeling?!?

I’m sometimes pulling all-day-all-night sessions cranking out curriculum and videos for upcoming business courses through my company, and doing work for clients, and of course doing what I love as a college professor. It’s 2am as I type this. I just finished grading my college students course work, after teaching a 10pm online class.

I said I would break from work, go relax and read my friend DL White’s new book, before falling asleep. But before I can relax I needed to write this message to you. If I put this off, I will forget, like I did last week….😁

My Webinar Trainings

I’ve learned a lot from the last webinar trainings that I hosted through my company. Thanks to those of you who attended and provided feedback. Thanks to those who are registered for my upcoming courses.

Don’t Call It Small…Business

I’m having a blast with my weekly podcast. My broadcasting dreams made a reality. It’s also helping to challenge and stretch me creatively, while giving me great content for books and courses. If you haven’t heard one of the episodes, check them out here. They air every Wednesday.

You can also listen on Spreaker, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, and Castbox. Just search for “Don’t Call It Small...”

My Books

I’m currently outlining two business books, one of which is slated to be released late 2020.

Here’s the latest with my Spiritual books that I’m writing:

  • I’m waiting for copyright approval for using verses from various Bible publishers.

If you didn’t know, most translations that are published, are not public domain and free to use however we see fit. There’s only a handful that are, like the King James Version. However, if you want to freely use NIV, AMP, NKJV, HCSB, and many others—you better check the copyright restrictions before you run amock.

Since my books will be for sale, I’m not going to risk any legal and financial hiccups on my part. So I’m making sure to cover my bases as fully as possible.

  • I had wanted to start the promo this month, but until I gain all clearances, I don’t want to put the cart before the horse.

I want everyone to have the first book in your hands, to use January 1st. There’s optional bonus content that comes with it, and I’m excited to receive your feedback.

  • I’m on my next round of edits.
  • After this round it will be handed over to a group of pre-selected readers to provide feedback on flow, ease of use, formatting, and readability.
  • Since Book 2 picks up where this first book leaves off, I get the opportunity to make moves for the second book sooner, because now I know the process and what to expect.

I can even submit my copyright requests for Book 2 out sooner because I have a rough idea of how many Bible verses I’m using from each translation.

  • I still don’t have an official title for the book.

I’m using a working title, just for quick reference, but it’s a no-go title to place on the cover of a book. I will be turning to my designated readers for assistance, and then turning to my Breaking Bread readers, and all of you to vote on the titles.

That’s All Folks

There’s some other things going on in my world, but I will share some (that I’m comfortable sharing) another time. In the meantime, feel free to connect with me on social media: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn

Of course, I hope you will check out the Don’t Call It Small… podcast. It’s accessible at my company website and almost everywhere you listen to podcasts.

Let’s connect soon!

Warmest wishes,

Natasha

Copyright 2019. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

Today would be my maternal grandfather’s 95th birthday. His name is Elisberry and he passed away in 1995, transitioning to his next spiritual assignment. Here’s a picture of him and my grandmother, Maxine, on their wedding day. I absolutely love this photo. They were married over 43 years when my grandfather passed away.

My cousins and I call him “Poppa” (paw-paw), his children call him “daddy”, my grandmother (his wife) called him Elisberry or “E.L.” for short. He was “E.L.” to other family members and friends, and then to his fishing and hunting crew he was “King Fish”.

When I was a small child he gave me the nickname “Yellow Belly”, partly a tie in to a fish reference, and the other part due to my lighter skin complexion. My cousin Princess still calls me by my nickname. It always makes me think of our grandfather.

He was a devoted husband and a proud father of three children—pictured in the collage below and also pictured above with my grandmother and my mother when she was a toddler. Poppa was a super duper awesome grandfather, and a committed provider and protector, who would do anything to help a loved one.

Matter of fact, the asthma attack that he succumbed to was triggered from working on a family member’s property. He ignored the symptoms, not wanting to leave the work unfinished.

Poppa was a hard worker, who sacrified a lot—as he never attended high school because he had to tend to the family farm and help provide for his mother and siblings. Heck, his asthma was a result of poor working conditions doing paint and body work for a Ford Motor Company subsidiary/affiliate. Lousy ventilation, inadequate safety equipment, and probably a lack of knowledge about the health risks as we know now. But he worked in those conditions to provide for his family, and to give them a life better than he had growing up.

That job made it possible for him to ensure that his children could focus on their education and not on working at a job, and he bought all three of his children brand new Ford Mustangs during their senior years in high school. His children never grew up facing the harsh realities he knew as a child and young man.

He and my grandmother worked hard so that their children didn’t experience poverty growing up. They were a part of the middle class. For him, the sacrifices he made were worth it.

Here’s a picture of Poppa, my grandmother Maxine (known as “Mamacine” by her grandchildren), and three of my cousins: Tia, Shalwan, and Michael (the toddler at the bottom). They, along with their youngest sibling Steven (who was born several years after this picture was taken), spent almost every weekend with our grandparents growing up.

Poppa didn’t have formal education, but my grandfather had a PhD in common sense and life. I’ve learned and recall more from this brilliant man than books or teachers ever provided. I continue to reflect upon and apply the lessons and skills that he taught me growing up. He taught me how to just be myself, how to laugh at myself, how to enjoy the quiet and hectic days, and the importance of family.

My grandfather taught me how to fish, hunt, plant and harvest food, survival skills, discipline, humbleness, patience, and forgiveness. Heck, my grandfather forgave his family members that stole land from him. I’m sure that in his mind he probably thought that if they needed it that much to con and steal it from him, then they could have it. He would leave the details to God.

In addition to all of these remarkable things, my Poppa taught me how to always be mindful of my surroundings and to take the life skills of country living and apply it to city life.

You don’t know how valuable those skills have been for this city girl. Growing up using out houses, running through wild country fields, eating the weirdest foods, climbing through bobwire, being almost elbows deep in dirt digging through his amazing garden for the best fruit and vegetables, learning about cars, and experiencing the joys of life with only the bare essentials. All of this equipped me to travel the world and embrace amazing experiences in environments most people would cringe to be in.

Some other things that he taught me— but I didn’t realize it until recently—was he taught me about being a responsible home owner, and how to rewire after retirement. My grandfather made sure that he and my grandmother’s home was paid off and well maintained, and he also ensured that my grandmother (who was an entrepreneur) would be financially cared for if he passed before her. Heck, my grandfather passed in 1995, and he was still taking care of my grandmother financially until she transitioned in 2017. How awesome is that?!?

Poppa remained active in retirement. He showed me the value of keeping your mind and body engaged and active, exercising both your physical and mental muscles. I truly believe that had that asthma attack not gotten over on him, my grandfather would’ve lived another 20-plus years.

I’m so grateful to be the grand daughter of this amazing spirit, this remarkable man, affectionately known as “E.L.”

I love and miss you dearly Poppa!

~Natasha your “Yellow Belly”

Copyright 2019. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.