I attribute my success to this: I never gave or took any excuse.”

~ Florence Nightingale

We do absolutely nothing out of fear. We self-sabotage out of fear—fear of the past and fear of the unknown.

We make excuses for not trying, not pushing harder, not loving more and deeper, not getting over the past. An excerpt in a journal I have says that our excuses focus us on the past. We can’t move forward or even operate in a healthy space in our present, because our minds are trapped in the past.

You won’t know if something is impossible until you try every possible angle and opportunity to prove that it is possible.

You won’t know if you can’t do something until you exhaust every attempt at trying to do it.

It’s easy to say “can’t” and “impossible” when you barely skim the surface of “try”.

You can’t live and thrive in fear. Yeah I said it, you can’t live and thrive in fear. It’s not possible to constantly be looking backwards, paralyzed from moving forward, too turned around to do anything of substance in your present, if you’re constantly in a state of fear. It kills you from the inside out. It eats away at you little by little until it completely devours you and nothing is left but a shell or worse, a layer of “dust”.

I learned in Sunday school when I was a little girl that fear is:

False Evidence Appearing Real.

It appears to be real. It appears to be so. But it isn’t and the so-called evidence isn’t truth, it’s a lie that you keep buying into until it becomes your reality. It’s like sitting in a room or closet in the dark and the more you stare at something or in a certain direction the more your mind begins to design images and you begin to believe that you see something. When the lights are turned on what you thought you saw is no longer there. It didn’t mystically magically disappear. It was never there. That is how fear manifests in our every day lives. A seed is planted and we nurture it until it is fully rooted and blossomed as a reality in our lives. It is only when someone turns on the “light” that we uproot what was planted.

When I would tell my dad that I couldn’t do something it would infuriate him. He would say “I would rather you say you don’t want to do something than tell me you can’t do it…” because in dad’s mind (and what I’ve grown to learn) saying and believing “can’t” means you have given up, you have made an excuse, and you don’t know what you don’t know because you won’t actually try your best repeatedly to do it.

All of the great ideas that we now marvel were only manifested and made possible because the curators and designers of those ideas never ever ever stopped working to make those ideas a reality.

From the arts to business, the first computer to the Internet, infrastructure to space travel—-ideas that many said were “impossible” but a few kept pushing and trying anyway, and now “can’t” and “impossible” are the past and what we experience and take for granted now is our present. No excuses for the failures along the way. Those visionaries just kept pressing forward, exhausting all of the possibilities until their ideas were tangible.

That is what we need to focus on each day, each moment of every single day—

What action can you take today to fix or improve upon what didn’t work in the past?

What action can you take today that will lead to the breakthrough of the future?

Action breaks up monotony. Action keeps the mind going and sharp. Action keeps ideas flowing. Action helps you to see things from different angles and perspectives. Action breaks up the darkness and allows for that light switch to come on. Action prevents you from making excuses because you’re too busy working and making things happen.

This is a reminder for me and for you…No excuses—given or taken!

~Natasha

I can’t believe that it’s already mid-July. It seems like last week was the first week of January. Maybe it’s our busyness or the chaos of life intertwined with the never-sleeping age of technology that keeps us buzzed, connected, and feeling like time is passing us by.

Some days feel like they zoom by while others feel like they painfully linger to remind you that you don’t have your “stuff” together.

Today I’m going to be transparent which is difficult for most people who even in their oversharing through social media, aren’t authentically transparent—it is still a mirage. But I’m moved to share with you today because there are plenty of people out there that see a public image of me and I’ve heard the fantasizing remarks made by some of you about how much you wish you could live my life, even the fast-paced moments that you have seen captured by video and pictures. I think it’s important to see the inside of the humans we admire, so we can see the real and appreciate the struggle. So this post isn’t a quick quote but rather a longer message, giving you a peek inside of me. I hope it helps someone.

Today I reflect on a Walt Disney quote:

This is a snapshot of a journal that I bought and began using briefly in 2014. I now am fully invested in writing in it. It’s my Dream Book, where I list and map out my dreams that I intend to pursue as goals. It’s about me overcoming fears and accomplishing what some may deem the impossible.

When I first started writing in this book I had huge lofty dreams that were being taunted and attacked by some real-life “dream terrorists”. I didn’t realize how exposed and vulnerable I was. I didn’t realize that I didn’t know what I didn’t know about the people around me and my personal and professional circumstances. I had no clue what I was facing. I had no clue the role I was playing in my own destruction.

My intuition told me to prepare myself for these attacks and for my world to be tossed and turned, trampled over, and discarded—but the dreamer in me wanted to believe that my gut instincts weren’t accurate and that it was merely fear and a need to protect self that was motivating these thoughts and feelings. I convinced myself that I was self-sabotaging out of fear of having greater than I imagined.

I was partly correct but mostly incorrect.

My dad used to tell me growing up, “listen to that faint, small voice within…that’s God speaking to you…when you ignore that voice you always screw things up…” Dad was right. When I don’t listen to that voice that we call our intuition, that voice that people say women are more in tune with than men, we find ourselves blundering and things really fall out of control.

What I know to be true about me is that I self-sabotage a lot, both personally and professionally. I can take a huge leap and then freak out because I begin to speculate if the leap was too big and “what if I can’t handle what comes next?” and so I shrink within to find a comfort zone, a neutral place, that ultimately sabotages what I really want—and that’s to fulfill and live out my dreams.

I’ve passed up major career opportunities.

I’ve avoided other career opportunities— refusing to even make the call, apply for, submit the bid, etc.

When I was in my twenties I walked away from romantic relationships that I felt were moving too fast or too good to be true, or the guy was too nice (ummm yeah, stuck on stupid I most definitely was).

But in 2014 that wasn’t fully the reason for my grief. Yes, I was sabotaging my professional life due to second guessing my abilities and if what I was doing was relevant. I also discovered that my personal “reality” wasn’t accurate and there were people around me and in my inner circle who didn’t have my best interests at heart. I realized that there was a game of deception being played and I just never realized I was the key target. I found myself pulling back and settling into a position and role that I was both unfamiliar with and uncomfortable in.

It was eating me up from within. The pain began to manifest physically and my body was under attack, but doctors in several different specialities could never ascertain what was causing the issues. I was poked and prodded for what turned out to be 18 months, and even now, three years later, no one knows what caused me so much physical pain for almost two years. All we do know is that I’m no longer in pain.

The only tool and weapon I had (and still have) to combat what I was facing was prayer. For those of you who aren’t the praying types, consider meditation or self-reflection, or anything else that positively takes your mind off of the negatives and helps you to disconnect and focus on the positives. Please note that drugs and alcohol aren’t positive releasers and disconnectors. No judgment just facts.

In 2014 my Dream Book began as a book for positive affirmations and dreaming. I used it to help me see myself and my circumstances in a different light and through a different lens. But as I mentioned earlier, I was also in denial about the attacks against me. In 2015 the attacks became more frequent yet I remained in denial, still trying to hold on to my reality and thinking that I could still live out my dreams—even though I was slipping farther and farther away from reaching them.

The public saw me in one light but my reality wasn’t even close. I began to feel like I was in quick sand and I couldn’t remember what to do to get out. I went to counseling and I will never forget what my therapist told me. He said (and I’m paraphrasing), “Natasha you’re invisible in your life. Everything is about everyone but you. Where are you? Where are your clearly defined boundaries? What do you want and need?”

My therapist was correct. I had molded myself for others but when I looked I couldn’t really see me and that’s why I had also began to lose my zest and zeal, and lose a grip on my passion. I was helping other people reach their goals, fulfill their missions, but I was no closer to reaching my own. I altered my thinking to align to others, for a cause, for a mission, but what about the things God had called on me to do? What was I doing to fulfill those things? What about my dreams that were sitting on standby? I convinced myself that my busyness was action, when it really was just quick sand.

December 2015 I was in the hospital fighting a pulmonary embolism, and I began to see glimpses of my truth. I was determined to turn things around in 2016.

I thought I knew how. I thought I was ready. Boy was I wrong….

The year 2016 clobbered me extremely hard. Literally (okay, figuratively) I got hit with a right hook the first week of January. Jeesh, who starts out the New Year with a psychological fat lip? Yours truly! It was like fighting a heavy weight contender with your hands and feet bound.

I was going through the motions and praying for positive change, but sadly I wasn’t even listening to my “boxing trainer” that was sitting in my corner of the ring. My “trainer” kept telling me to “get off the ropes…block it…hands up…hands up dang it“. Before I knew it I got rope-a-doped.

Year-end knocked the wind out of me and as I reflected back over the year I realized that with the exception of a few minor things, my 2016 was really no different than the two years prior. I was still invisible and clearly still ignorant, because I kept pressing forward thinking that the attacks against me would subside and that there was no true threat, that eventually everything would work itself out and all would be well. And guess what? To add to all of this, I was still self-sabotaging and not seeing it.

If only I had paid attention to the fact that my Dream Book had dreams that I never fulfilled because I never truly took the steps to attain them. I wasn’t actively pursuing them, I was passively wishing upon a star. I was in a rut. I never untangled myself from the things and the people that were holding me back and preventing me from having what I desired most. I never checked myself and put a stop to the self-sabotage of my professional career.

My fears were helping my attackers.

You can operate in fear short-term but it’s not a long-term strategy. Short-term it can give you the adrenaline rush to eventually build the courage to fight back. But long-term it paralyzes and destroys you from within. No one that we read about in books, watch in movies, or see in magazines and interviews are or were successful because they walked around in a constant (or near constant) state of fear every day. It’s not that they don’t fear things and have moments of anxiety and depression. It’s that they learn how to pick themselves up and push hard for what they want because they are driven by their passions. It is when they lose hope and stop living for those passions that they slowly start to die (first spiritually and then mentally and physically).

December 6, 2016 I had written in my Dream Book the things I was grateful for and the things I claimed I was still passionate about pursuing.

Then my Dream Book wasn’t touched again until May 5, 2017.

What happened?

One of my biggest fears and nightmares became my reality. I was blindsided by something that my intuition, the little voice within, warned me about years earlier—that voice that kept prodding me to be prepared, yet I ignored it. Well now the fear that was keeping me from making certain moves in the past, was glaring at me in my face and nothing I did to fight back worked. I was praying for something that clearly wasn’t meant to be, not for me, not based on the factors placed before me. By the end of January I gave up and faced my fear head on. It hurt deeply. It hurt like sudden death.

My dreams seemed shattered. Everything fell down around me and I didn’t have a back up plan. I wasn’t prepared for my world to implode. I wasn’t ready for what God had been trying to prepare me for, for a few years now.

So I took a break from all personal and professional obligations, well with the exception of keeping my household in order and teaching my college classes—because I still needed structure to keep me going strong. But everything else took a back seat.

I had to peel back the layers and look at my life and my world. There were so many layers that were merely a facade. I looked at my life and where I was professionally and with the exception of teaching at the collegiate level, my other passions were so far out of my grasp. I wasn’t jumping up out of bed excited about starting my day. I had spurts of this excitement over the years but honestly, those were reactionary moves in response to attacks made against me—they were reactionary and reflexive, a sign that “old Natasha” was still inside of me, still fighting, still trying to shine and live life fully and intentionally. It was “new Natasha” that was confused, scared, and lost.

The woman that people applaud for her public efforts, philanthropy, passion, and “let’s get it done” attitude was and still is battling the fear within that paralyzes and leans towards sabotaging behavior.

May 6, 2017 I looked at my Dream Book. I looked at how I had survived the year thus far, and I looked around at the people who were still beside and those who were no longer there. And I smiled brightly.

One of my worst nightmares didn’t destroy me. I wasn’t prepared for it but life’s earlier storms and nightmares had strengthened me enough to endure this clobbering. Two months earlier several friends, new and old, joined me for dinner to celebrate blessings, life, and my new chapter in life. The month of May I made the decision to stop with the self-sabotage, to stop being invisible, to stop being everything for everyone but me, to chase and grab ahold of those dreams, to stop being consumed by other people’s opinions, and to start being more obedient to that still, small voice within.

I know it’s a process, “one moment at a time“, as my aunt Debborah taught me a few months ago. I also know that God keeps these dreams brewing inside of me for a reason, and I don’t want to take my last breath with shoulda, woulda, coulda regrets. I want to leave here saying “dang I did a lot, lived a lot, loved deeply, and had a blast!”

The attackers in your life don’t think you have it in you, or they fear that you do, so they work ten times harder to beat the hope out of you. Fight back with action, with living, and with snatching back every dream they try to crush. This is your life so live it like tomorrow isn’t promised, because it’s not. People can only take what you give them access to. People can only ride your back if you bend over.

If you want to start your own business, get the tools and resources that you need to succeed and then go do it!

If you want to be a parent, stop waiting for perfect and just go do it!

If you want love stop running from it!

If you have a dream to be something great then do whatever it takes (positively) to make that dream your reality.

God doesn’t place big dreams in your mind and heart for you to simply skim small portions off for a nibble or two. As Walt Disney said, “If you can dream it, you can do it“. They are our dreams for a reason. Pursue them. Don’t allow anyone or anything stand in your way, not even your biggest barrier—you!

Oh and by the way, when you step or fall in quick sand the fastest way out isn’t struggling against the sand. Experts say that by laying flat on our backs and allowing our bodies to come to the surface, it actually releases the grip. There’s a lesson there. Sometimes we have to just calm down, let go, stop struggling, and allow the grip to release. When we don’t, the more we freak out and struggle the farther down we sink in the quick sand. 

Here’s to being free!

Love,
Natasha

I performed an Internet search for topics related to marriage and specifically the term “marriage” and the vast majority of the pictures were of weddings and all of the things we associate with weddings, like engagement and wedding rings, cake and cake toppers, wedding gowns, bouquets, bridal parties, etc. I decided to do a little digging through social media and blogs to see what people are saying about marriage and what they seem to be focused on when the topic is addressed. Interesting enough the focus is overly directed towards the engagement ring, wedding ring, ceremony and reception, bridal party, and then there’s a gloss over of the actual union of marriage. Even when I typed in “same-sex marriage”, nothing but pictures of weddings appeared. I really had to dig to find content that focused on couples and family, not on the pomp and ceremony that leads to marriage. 

Which means that wedding industry professionals have done an awesome job of marketing and selling the wedding to us, while the embarrassing divorce rates prove that our families and society as a whole have done a lousy job of embedding the principles, practices, and expectations of marriage—so that we don’t enter and exit it so casually. 

Ring the alarm! Weddings versus marriage. There is a huge difference folks!


Pictures 1 through 4 above represent weddings. While pictures 5 through 8 reflect the layers of marriage. 

Some of you are overly consumed by the wedding ceremony but aren’t ready for the long-term commitment of marriage. It’s not the ring, it’s the union. It’s not the cake, food, dj, choreographed dances, bachelor and bacherlorette parties, or the gifts. It’s about the union. It’s not the titles you will earn as a “husband” or “wife”, it’s the union. Some of you want the glitz and glamour but don’t plan for or want to put in the work required for marriage. You want romance novel cookie-cutter, special, dynamic, and/or unique, but think it’s going to be effortless. 

Disillusioned are we? 

Spend some quality time (several months) in premarital counseling (and checkups every few months after you’re married) and work out the kinks, connect the dots, explore the possibilities and unknowns, and dive deep into what you BOTH need and want in marriage. It’s important to discover how you both see and define marriage and your respective roles within it. 

Prepare yourselves for the biggest commitment of your life. Walking blindly into it is one reason why millions of us are now divorced. 

Don’t take the stance of “we’ll figure that out when we get to that bridge”. The problem with that is you may find yourselves not able to even cross the bridge when that time comes, or at least, not together. Put everything out on the table upfront, before you say “I do”. 

Want kids or not? If so, how many and when? What are the expected household and career roles you two will assume? What will your social life be like as a married couple? What are your views about relocating to another state/country? Do you expect your family to follow your religious beliefs? What’s the rules about in-laws? Who’s the best money manager between the two of you, and how will your money be managed? How will you deal with infidelity? 

Get it all out there so you can truly see if you’re compatible, equally yoked, and have what it takes (and are willing to invest what is needed) to thrive in your marriage. Don’t just rush for a bridal magazine or zoom over to your dream store to set up a bridal registry. Sit down and have a partners meeting with the person who you’re planning to be a life partner with, and plan for your future together, not just obsess over a 1-8 hour event that will put most of you in debt and fighting!

And if marriage isn’t a partnership in your opinion but it is to your significant other, the two of you need to seriously sit down and talk because that’s a recipe for a short and/or extremely painful marriage. If you don’t want children but they do, neither of you will win trying to convince (or manipulate) the other to change their mind. If your significant other refuses to show you how they are doing financially, show you their debt and assets, then something is wrong. That’s a red flag pointing you in directions that you surely don’t want to explore. If you’re big on monogamy but your significant other thinks that it’s not normal to be faithful in all ways to one person, Houston you have a problem. If you’re expecting to receive an engagement ring and/or wedding ring that costs and looks like the amount spent to purchase a luxury car or house, but your significant other thought it would be more symbolic and romantic to give you an heirloom ring their mother or grandmother wore, you may not see eye to eye about this and other financial matters. 

Address it now. 

I see people starting their marriages eyeballs high in debt from a wedding that both of them probably didn’t even eat at because they were too busy entertaining everyone else to really enjoy themselves. That’s ridiculous. Guess what? It’s usually one of the first huge fights you have as a married couple. That’s because from the very beginning you both weren’t on the same page, thinking and planning as partners, and preparing for a long future together. You got caught up in the wedding storm and lost your everlasting mind. 

Those magazines, wedding registries, wedding vendors, and your twenty-plus member bridal party will still be there after the two of you have had some serious grown folks conversations. Remember, the magazines, registries, vendors, and your bridal party members won’t be there to build your marriage—and they can’t do anything to save it when it takes a hit. It’s going to require the two of you to fight for your marriage, and that first starts with you defining what marriage means and will be for you as a couple. 

We need to learn to take marriage seriously, enter it with our eyes wide open and fully aware and fully informed, and committed to whatever terms that we agree to with our significant other. If we can’t or won’t do that, then what’s the point in getting married? If all you want is the image of marriage (the material and symbolic things) then play house (the adult version to our childhood game) but don’t get married. Let’s stop making a mockery of something so powerful and beautiful. 

~Natasha 

Sure we all may walk around with an attitude, belief or mantra of “like me as I am” or “I don’t care what people think and say about me. I’m going to be me“, or “you don’t have to like me and how I look, because I like me“.

Some of us make the decision to live wild and look wilder, as we choose to wear bold hairstyles, hair colors, nail polish, lipstick, clothes, shoes, jewelry and other accessories.

Many of the bold and beautiful often wonder why they are looked over for promotions or fail to get raises even though the work delivered meets or exceeds standards. They wonder why they are ignored in meetings, demoted, removed from a place of visibility and instead tucked away where they seem invisible.

Many more wonder why they never seem to get that job callback or why the interview that seemed like a potential fit ended up with a “sorry but we’ve selected a different candidate“—if they even extend you the courtesy of letting you down that way.

There are numerous reasons why you don’t seem to be making strides in your professional life. Some may be due to your professional shortcomings. Some may be because others are merely outshining and out-hustling you. Some reasons may be due to people’s perception of you and their bias towards you– and a step farther, your appearance.

Are you working for or applying for a position with a company that is very conservative? Well then look through the owner’s, manager’s and recruiter’s lenses. Your over-the-top hair style, hair color, nails, makeup, or accessories may be a huge turnoff. Your busted shoes and tattered clothes, may be leaving the wrong impression. You may not be reflecting the image that their brand represents. So maybe, just maybe they take a risk and hire you, but don’t be shocked when that risk doesn’t extend beyond you quietly performing a job but then they limit how visible you can be in the job and within the company. If you don’t represent the core values, image, and vibe of the company, they don’t want you to be a face that represents their brand.

Sorry but your green hair, blue lipstick, and polka dot nails clash with that bank’s, doctor’s, dentist’s, and law firm’s image and brand—and most likely the image that their clients expect of them.

So you cop an attitude but let’s look at it from a different perspective, shall we?

Would you accept and then call the hairstylist or barber who handed you their business card but their hair looked a “hot mess”? Would you trust a nail technician to take care of your nails when theirs looks like a rat chewed on them? What about the person who wants to be your personal stylist yet their clothes and shoes look dingy, cheap, and in need of a trash can? Or the car detailer whose car is filthy? Or what about the dentist who has yellow, crooked, and missing teeth? All due respect, would you trust a person to teach you how to be physically fit if they weren’t fit and seemingly health conscious?

Most likely you have repeatedly said “no” to each of my questions. Why? Because appearance matters, attention to details matter, and we have become more brand conscious over the past 20 years—so if people don’t look the part then we just don’t trust them, and we definitely aren’t going to give money to people we don’t trust.

Ever see a shoe salesperson in a midrange to high end store with beat up, dirty shoes? Nope. It’s a turn off to the customer.

Now let’s be clear, this isn’t about you having the most expensive things you can buy and displaying it. It’s about how you present yourself. I don’t care if you shop from a discount or thrift store, it’s about finding items and colors that best complement your look, build, style, and personality.

What does your personal brand say about you? What does your appearance say about the company where you work or the one that you own?

If my dentist doesn’t take care of their own teeth then heck no they can’t dig around in my mouth. They can’t be that busy that they can’t fix their teeth yet they have plenty of time to chastise me about mine. If my doctor is lecturing me on my health and weight, yet they have a keg belly, I’m going to look at them sideways.

My personal fitness trainer and instructors better walk the walk. If they can’t do the workout then stop telling me “you can do it“. Shut up because you can’t even do it! Oh and they better also look the part. It always reminds me of the out-of-shape physical ed teacher during P.E., blowing their whistle, and yelling at the kids, yet they can’t do the workouts they are pushing the kids to do. Why don’t you drop and give us twenty? Why don’t you show us how to climb this tall, rugged rope? Why don’t you lead us in the mile long run? I mean, since you should be coming in first place then all you have to do is quickly grab your clipboard and clock in the rest of our finish times, right?

Now consider this…

If you’re looking for a marriage counselor and the person you meet with has been divorced several times and is currently divorced, then how in the world will they help you protect, save, and rebuild your marriage? I’m just saying, in the words of Jesus, “physician heal thyself“.

If your financial counselor or coach doesn’t have an 800-plus credit score, admits to still getting payday loans (or you happen to see them getting one), then who are they to be coaching you? They need to go back to the drawing board and take some of those classes and work on some of those principles they are selling to you.

People can talk all day long. But can they walk the walk?

So appearance matters to the vast majority of us. A corporate image and culture is formed and shaped at the top of the company, by the CEO/President, and it feeds down through the other levels and branches of the organization. If your image doesn’t compliment the company’s then how can you be upset when they don’t want you as a representative of their company and the brand they worked hard to build?

I want you to do something for me.

Tell me this—are your hands well manicured, are your clothes and hair clean and presentable, and are your shoes in great shape?

Why?” you ask.

Well because believe it or not, when most people see you the first thing they look at is your face, specifically your eyes. Then they look at your hair. Is it well groomed, does it have a foul or pleasant odor, is it a natural color or something bold or bizarre? What about your clothes? Are they clean? Are they ill-fitting or do they hang nicely on your body complementing your build and shape?

Then when they are close enough to pay attention to the finest of details, they look at two things very closely: your hands and your shoes (and if you have on sandals or no shoes, then yes they are checking out your feet). Our eyes are naturally drawn to these things. Maybe because we speak with our hands (and shake hands with others) and our feet are visible when we walk and are seated. Which is also why we stare at men’s socks when they are seated, and notice how many rings (and the quality of those rings) a woman has on her hands. The attention to detail becomes our obsession.

Let’s start with the hands…

I don’t care if you’re in construction,  sanitation, or a mechanic—do your hands look like a person who is concerned about their health and wellbeing or do you look like you’re part werewolf and part science experiment? Keep your nails clean (when you don’t have them in sludge), cut to an active length (for the ladies) and as short as possible (for the men), and please tame those cuticles and hang nails.

Ladies who love nail polish, artificial nails, and accessories…what you put on your nails, hands, head, ears, and around your neck should compliment the environment that you’re in most, which for the vast majority of us that would be our workplace. So think twice before busting out with extreme colors, lengths and shapes. If you work in a more conservative environment your boldness can be seen as a distraction.

If you have a customer-facing role in the company, do your best to represent that brand to the fullest. You’re being paid to represent the brand, so do it well!

That means your shoes and clothes are very important. If your shoes are extremely worn, look beat up, have knots where your toes have been crunched in them repeatedly, the sole and top seem to be fighting over which direction your shoe should be aligned, the heel looks tattered, and the color has faded or revealed the undertone shade—take them to a shoe repair store, donate them, or if you know they can’t be salvaged, throw them away. I truly believe that many people are walking around wearing the wrong shoe size, either too big or too small. Go to a reputable shoe store and have the salesperson help you determine your correct size and see how your size varies depending on the type of shoe you’re wearing. You may wear a different size depending if the shoe is open-toed or closed-toe.

The same thing applies to your clothes. You know what’s too tight, too loose, too short, and too revealing. There have been plenty of times when I’ve stepped in front of the mirror and said aloud, “oh heck no” and immediately changed into something else. Fellas, I’m also speaking to you. If you’re one breath away from bursting the seams of your pants or a button on your shirt, it’s time to donate them. If your pants are hanging below your hips and you’re not a male exotic dancer “working the floor”, you need to pull them up and get them tailored to fit you properly. Go to a tailor or to the mens’ department in the mall and ask to be measured so you know your correct size for dress shirts, slacks, blazers, and jackets.

A first impression is a lasting impression. A first impression could lead to the start of something new and great, or to another closed door and added rejection. Each day we step foot outside of our homes we make the decision about how we want the world to view us, and like it or not, judge us. You never know who is watching you, so step out representing the image and brand of where you want to be (if you aren’t already there).

Copyright 2017. All Rights Reserved. Natasha Foreman Bryant.

We’re overstimulated in too many ways, and I’m not talking about the “good” stimulation either. No I’m talking about techno-stress, e-clutter, and not having enough time in our day because our days are being burned up by too many emails, phone calls, social media posts, and meetings. We’re overwhelmed, overworked, underpaid, overtaxed, overspent, and many of us are burned out and waiting to be swept up by the city street sweeper.

Our to-do lists keep getting longer and longer, and we find ourselves transferring today’s to-dos over to tomorrow because “I ran out of time” or “something came up and I ran out of time“. Do you see how “time” keeps popping up to blindside us. We never get more minutes in the day, but we can find better ways to make the most of the twenty-four hours that we all have.

So here’s a game plan to consider:

Take your 24-item to-do list and let’s try knocking it down to no more than four major tasks per day. Painting your nails or removing your chest hair doesn’t count as a major task. Let those factor in after you complete the four major tasks.

Now let’s look at how that calculates. Four major tasks per day, for 6 days, means you have completed 24 tasks in one week. They are the exact same tasks that you tried to relegate to one day, but now you can actually accomplish them rather than transferring them over to the next day and the next day, and next week.

Here’s how you can limit the probability of unintentionally increasing your daily to-do list: learn to say “no” to people. If their request isn’t life-altering, then say “no“, delegate it to someone else, or if you just feel pressed to do it, swap it for one of your other four tasks. But whatever you do, don’t increase your list.

What do you need to focus on this week? Get to work and don’t forget…pace yourself!

~Natasha

 

We’ve been programmed since our K-12 days to obsess over our weaknesses, or like we used to say when I was a kid, “what you suck at“, because for some odd reason researchers and academics are obsessed at finding the smartest students and separating them from the “dumbest” students, and constantly reminding the “dumb” students how inferior they truly are.

Okay I’m be facetious with this statement, but it’s true on some levels. Standardized tests separates the “smart” students from the “dumb” students. I remember students asking “what did you get on the SAT exam?” like it meant something beyond our academic lives.

What can I tell you about my SAT score?

Welp…I slept through part of my exam. Yes, you read that correctly. I was a 16-year-old who was overstressed, overworked, too ambitious for my own good, and eager to get into the adult world. So I decided to be a “brainiac” and go to a 18-and-over nightclub the night before my SAT exam, telling my parents a huge lie about where I was so that I could go party in Riverside, California with my girls. Now, being that I was a lousy test taker who suffered from test anxiety, drawing a mental blank until after I walked away from the exam and all of the answers would come flooding in, the last place I needed to be the night before this huge college-option-limiting-exam was in a nightclub (where if you read this post thoroughly you can see that I was too young to be there in the first place). But I went, had fun, danced nonstop, and paid the price the next day.

The good thing for me is that I was stronger in other areas beyond my SAT exam, AP exams, and ACT exam—yeah I didn’t shine brightly on those either (because I would blank out in sheer fear of failing). But when you looked at the rest of my academic “resume” I made up for my weak test taking skills and my lack of care during my freshman and first-half of my sophomore years in high school (yeah that’s another story for another day). Every university that I applied to I was accepted, and that made me extremely proud.

Some people are better test takers. Some people have strong “book smarts” but their common sense is hanging out somewhere in the toilet—waiting for a flush.

I was a B-minus high school student with A-plus common sense. So things balanced out and by the time I entered college, I found my rhythm and what I was good at, and soon I became an A-student (yes, with A-plus-plus common sense). *Smile*

Do you know a habit and skill that the most successful people in the world practice exceptionally well?

They focus solely on their strengths (and improve upon them) and ignore or delegate everything where they are weak.

The most successful people aren’t the smartest people. There are plenty of homeless, broke, impoverished, and destitute geniuses around the world.

The successful people surround themselves with other smart people who are stronger in the areas where they are weakest and they rely upon those individuals to do all of the things that they can’t, while they focus on the things and areas where they shine brilliantly. They don’t sit back obsessing over their weaknesses.

The same applies to athletes, artists, and musicians. They keep improving upon their areas of strength. Oftentimes weaker areas either strengthen with the pull of the stronger areas, or they ultimately become inconsequential. Either way at the end of the day it doesn’t matter, because the focus is on improving upon the strength.

Look at your personal strengths. Write them down.

If you’re clueless about some of your strengths, then I strongly recommend that you read and take Gallup’s Strengthfinders, so you can get down to the nitty gritty.

Now reach out to a friend, family member, or associate and ask them to share with you what they believe to be some of your strengths.

Write them down. Compare them to your list. Do you see any similarities? Were there some strengths that they shared that you hadn’t considered?

How can you use your strengths to accomplish your personal and professional goals?

What are some of your short-term goals that you would like to achieve this year?

Look at your list of strengths and now spend the next few minutes outlining how you will use them to achieve these goals this year. Get to work. Your life is waiting on you!

~Natasha