I’m so excited to see that my friend and colleague Dr. Steve Woodsmall is positioning himself for a Congressional run for 2018.

I endorse Dr. Steve Woodsmall.

He has the strength, fortitude, conviction, and no-nonsense mindset that is needed to come in and bring true change to the status quo. A lot of people talk the talk. I’ve always known Steve to walk the walk.

I’m sharing pictures of Steve in this post to help you see and connect with the man that I’ve known as a friend for 7 years. I forgot to ask Steve for permission to post these pictures so I’m asking him for a “pass” (*smile*).

Steve is an amazing leader, served our country as a Commander in the Air Force, has a global perspective that is inclusive, he’s tough as nails but has a giving heart, and everyone who knows him knows that he is excellence-driven.

He has been molding and challenging minds of college students as a university professor for about four years now, and has been officiating youth basketball games for numerous years.

Steve is a family man with four children and several grandchildren. He’s an avid scuba diver and golfer.

A native of Elnora, Indiana, he has his hand on the pulse of everyday Americans and those who immigrate here looking for a better tomorrow than their yesterday. Steve understands, knows and relates to the needs of the middle class and working class.

Steve Woodsmall understands the nuances and blind spots of both the public and private sectors, as he’s worked in and served as a leader in both—he comes with experience and a desire to bring positive change that helps ALL not just a few.

Please help Steve jumpstart his campaign. He has launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise $2,018 for the congressional filing fees. Please support his efforts by donating what you can https://www.gofundme.com/congressional-filing-fee

Our country needs a passing of the torch. We need fresh minds who can be foot soldiers for the people.

We need more Steve’s working for us and on our behalf. We need to de-clog the system that keeps bringing forth and electing individuals who only serve a small percentage of the population, and rebuild it instead with people who are focused on serving ALL of the people. No self-interest, just service, action, and positive impact.

To learn more about Steve I strongly recommend that you read his book (yes, he’s an author, and I gave him a raving review) “It Beats Eating Lizards” which is available on Amazon. A bio only says so much, to get an understanding for his mindset, leadership approach, and views you should read what he has written–it’s like having a conversation with him.

Steve’s FB campaign page was just launched TODAY so expect to find updates and details about him and his vision to be shared soon.

I pray that Dr. Steve Woodsmall is given the opportunity to serve his state and our country in Congress. Please help him get there so that we have one more person fighting for us! https://www.gofundme.com/congressional-filing-fee

~Natasha

When we look at the most successful people, professionally and personally, they all have something in common—they are mindful of their inner circle and the people that surround them. They are mindful of their space and who plays a role in their lives, and how those roles are played.

Energy is important to them so they passionately purge out toxic energy, toxic people, and try to steer clear of toxic environments. That’s why they have a magnetic energy that just draws you in.

They have clearly defined boundaries and there are consequences for those who blatantly cross them. They set personal standards and they hold others to equally high standards.

They also have accountability partners–friends and colleagues that they connect with that hold them accountable and vice versa. There’s a healthy push that takes place, where goals stated are encouraged and there are benchmarks to gain status updates. No slacking allowed is the mindset.

Good seeks great. Great seeks excellence.

You don’t see joyful people hanging around miserable people. You don’t see people who are focused on being mentally, physically and spiritually fit hanging around those who could care less about their own health and wellbeing. People who are always seeing opportunities and potential, even in the worst possible moments don’t hang around people who always see the impossible and what they “can’t” do.

We must be mindful of the people we allow in our inner circle. We must be mindful of who we share energy with, and of the time we invest in others. If you’re spending too much time with people that constantly take your time and zap your energy, then how can you replenish and recharge?

You have to find a healthy balance.

For me I’ve come to the conclusion that with the exception of my family and the people that I mentor, if you’re here to “take” and to hitch your “wagon” to me, please keep walking. I have a limited bandwidth just like the next person and I have to be mindful of how I invest my time and energy, and who I invest in.

Family is family, there’s a natural give and take. As a mentor I’m positioned to give so that minds may be expanded and doors of opportunity may be opened. But for everyone else…as the saying goes “iron sharpens iron” and if you aren’t iron then hanging around me won’t make it so. I need to be challenged and to be held accountable—if you aren’t pushing up the mountain as hard or harder than me then you’re working against me not with me.

The fastest sprinter doesn’t run beside the slowest. Instead you seek out and challenge someone as fast or faster than you. Then you push each other to greatness. Neither of you are holding back or holding each other back.

I strive for excellence and in my moments of fear, doubt, insecurity, or worry the last person that I need beside me is a person who is paralyzed by fear, doubt, insecurity, and worry. When I’m looking for solutions I don’t need someone bringing me more problems or making me focus on the ones in front of me. When I’m trying to motivate myself to eat right and go to the gym or for a jog, the last person I’m trying to hang around in that moment is the person who isn’t motivated to do any of those things. When I’m “in my head” I don’t have space for you to also be “in my head”.

I need accountability partners. I can’t have a wealth mindset and you have a broke one. I’m focused on a healthy lifestyle while you’re on a toxic crash course. I can’t be a warrior while you’re a victim. I can’t be pushing forward while you’re going in reverse.

Iron sharpens iron. If you aren’t iron please keep walking!

As we near the end of 2017 look closely at your inner circle. Look at those you invest time and energy in and consider your return on this investment. Is there added value? If not, consider realigning those relationships so that you are free to give more time where it is mutually rewarding, and so you are positioned to be the best version of you.

Remember, iron sharpens iron!

~Natasha

Bride's Mother

Today is my mother’s birthday and I wanted to make sure that I shared this day with the world. My mom is my mother, friend, confidante, supporter, protector, provider, nurturer, and so much more. She was my first teacher. I was blessed to hear her heartbeat and voice from within her womb. I am the woman I am partly because of the woman who is my mom. I can’t imagine my life with another woman as my mother.

mommy and me at Santa Monica Beach 1976

She taught me how to read at the age of two. She taught me how to dance. She encouraged me to get a little dirty outside in the yard. She taught me how to cook. She taught me how to use my critical thinking skills. She exposed me to that wonderful creative brain of hers and opened my eyes to all of the wondrous things that I could one day create.

Bride's Father

My mom has taught me to seek and find the silver lining in all of life’s clouds. She also taught me the gift of giving. It is because of her I started volunteering in my community as a child. It is because of her that I continue to volunteer and give back to communities all over.

me and mom 1985

I thank God every single day for blessing me with an amazing mother, teacher, and friend. Here’s to many many many more days and years celebrating and being thankful for this beautiful woman.

mom and me at Uncle Archie funeral March 2017

Happy birthday mom. I’ve loved you from the moment I was conceived and I will love you forever.

Love Your “Fish”,

Natasha

My parents raised me not to bully others. They also raised me to stand up to bullies. They taught me not to start a fight. They also taught me that if someone started one with me, that I was to finish it–because “we don’t run from anyone!” They taught me to defend others and speak up for the voiceless.

I was never bullied as a child. Some tried and then learned quickly that I was not the one to push around. I also never bullied anyone or started fights. I was the child who stood firm in “if you don’t mess with me then I won’t mess with you” and I still stand firmly in this belief. My entire life so far I have made sure that I defended those that could not fight back and I spoke up for those who felt they did not have a voice.

I never imagined that I would grow up and have to face my own bullies.

What never dawns on us is the fact that the child who was bullied often times grows up to be an even bigger bully. Hence why we are faced with adults who relish in the opportunity to harass, pick on, tease, physically assault, verbally abuse, and psychologically torture other people.

Sadly the bully has never gotten over their own childhood trauma when they were bullied, so they continue the sick and twisted cycle throughout adulthood.

If only they had received the counseling and support they needed as children. We then wouldn’t have to deal with adults storming around like the kids who used to bully them.

Enough is enough.

Ifyou are having issues with a bully you have two options:

  1. Try to ignore them and hope they will go away and leave you alone, or
  2. Stand up to them and make sure that they never try to bully you again

I have dealt with a few bullies so far in my adult life and I have faced them all down. I refuse to be a victim. I refuse to be someone’s physical, verbal, or psychological punching bag. I refuse to allow someone to control me.

If they want a fight they picked the right woman. I will not allow someone to silence me, to dictate what I can do and when I can do it, where I can go and who I can be around. I will not allow someone to dictate the content that I put on my websites, social media, or blogs. I will not allow someone to dictate to me who I am, what I believe, what I think, and what I stand for.

No one has the right to tell me how to dress, what to buy, what to listen to, what to eat or drink. No one controls my mind, my speech, or my body.

No one.

I stand firmly planted in my convictions as a child of God and I don’t care how big and how bad that person thinks that they are, they have no strength and no power that could ever compare to my God.

I am only obedient to one force and that is my Creator. Everyone else can back down, sit down, and be silent.

If you are sick and tired of being pushed around and bullied, I strongly encourage you to stand up, speak out, fight back, and never allow someone to believe that they have any power over you.

If you are being harassed sexually or any other way, speak up and stand up for yourself.

If you are being abused in anyway speak up and stand up for yourself.

A bully only has pseudo-power. It is a veil. Pull it back and stare your bully in their face, and watch them back up and bow down. They don’t want the fight. They want to take the punk route and attack you when you’re not looking, attack you when you’re down on the ground. Punk.

A bully is intimidated by your power and your presence. Don’t let them have any of it. If you weren’t powerful they wouldn’t mess with you. They attack what they can’t have. They try to take what they do not possess. They are weak and miserable so they want you to be in the same miserable state of mind.

Don’t give in and don’t you ever give up!

~Natasha

Dear Traci,

I keep expecting for something different to happen—to snap out of this…for this to not be true. I’ve been sitting in my chair looking out my window for hours.

Selfishly I cry and my heart aches because of what you mean to me as a friend, big sister, mentor and role model. I assumed you’ve been busy traveling for leisure. I had no clue. I had no clue it returned with a vengeance and I’m saddened by that fact.

I ache that I didn’t listen to that voice within that said “call Traci“. I kept saying I would get around to it. I assumed you were doing well, just living it up with family, traveling across country and around the world. I convinced myself that you would tell me if you weren’t well. But in hindsight, knowing you, no you wouldn’t–not this time–and you didn’t. Maybe had I been consistent and persistent with seeing and speaking with you, but hindsight is 20-20, and let’s keep it real as we always have—I’ve been going through my own “mess” which you knew quite well, hence why I know you wouldn’t tell me what you were now faced with.

I ache when I recall the times over the past three weeks my mom mentioned you and Milton. I didn’t pick up the phone. I didn’t log into social media. I didn’t even send you a quick text or even one of my simple “😘” texts, just to let you know that you were on my mind.

I know there’s nothing that I could’ve done to stop this from happening. But I want you to know how much you and our friendship has meant to me. I’ve told you in small chunks over the years and during a long conversation in January and again in March, but never to this extent and it hurts that it is now that I make the time to fully share the depth of how you have positively impacted my life.

(more…)

Happy Veteran’s Day to all who have served. Your sacrifice does not go unnoticed. You protected us from others and from ourselves. You don’t know us but you swore to fight for our freedom and protection of our human and constitutional rights. I thank you. 

I come from a military family, both my maternal and paternal sides. My paternal grandfather (and his three brothers) all served. I have uncles who have served. I have cousins who served and some who continue to serve. I have friends who served and some who continue to serve. 

My loved ones proudly and courageously served our country and I strive to always honor them and others who have and still are serving. 

Since I was a small child I’ve always had great respect for the foot soldiers who make it possible for us to sleep throughout the night with limited fear of foreign attack.  I’ve also (since childhood) passionately spoken out against the decisions that leaders have made that directly impact those same soldiers. As I grew older I began to take notice of the infrastructure that was set in place to support troops but has weakened through one administration after the next. It was in trouble in the 1980s and now…well now it needs a lifeline. It’s a huge problem that no one quite knows how to wrap their hands around, because sadly it would seem as though those placed in charge of this huge feat don’t have the management and leadership skills to wrangle it and put things in their proper order. So the pile gets pushed on year after year, administration after administration—one big bureaucratic landfill. 

I pray that our country does a better job at supporting active, inactive, and retired military personnel with:

  • mental and physical healthcare needs,
  • job and career training and placement, and tax credits (and other incentives) to companies who hire veterans, 
  • housing needs, 
  • financial education and planning services, and 
  • healthy transitioning to civilian life. 


 Don’t Forget The Human                            It’s not good enough to just say “thank you” during holidays, political speeches, debates, and when you want to prove patriotism. These men and women risk their lives, sacrifice being with their family, and put everything on the line to follow orders that could potentially lead to their death, dismemberment, or loss of vision, hearing, speech, or mental capabilities. They know that one decision could risk everything. 

They are human beings with dreams, fears, concerns, needs and wants just like you. They are not robots. They bleed and die just like you. 

Don’t turn them into figureheads. Don’t let them just be good marketing figures. Don’t pimp them out to reinforce your agendas. If you truly support the troops then force the positive change that is needed to truly support them. 

As much propaganda and grandstanding that has taken place over the years (and especially the last two months)—using the service of our great men and women to serve a twisted agenda, we should expect to see people put their money where their mouths are, and invest heavily in our troops—and not just more military spending focused primarily on weapons and technology, but a huge budget that is consciously focused on the person while they actively serve and after—for as long as they live. 

Stop Brushing Aside PTSD                                                                Stop pretending that PTSD is not real or is too rare to be significant. It is real, it is huge, we have troops in the field and returning home right now who silently suffer from it, and we can do something about it. 

PTSD is more common than what is being shared and just as we ignorantly raise boys to not cry because it’s “a sign of weakness” and something that “only girls do”, we program men to not seek counseling and help because “it’s a sign of weakness”. Then when their trauma is left untreated and something awful happens we say “it’s clearly a mental health issue”. Yes, an issue that this person could have received treatment and support for if they had the resources and internal and external support to get the help that they need. 

You can’t deny PTSD if you witness bombings, shootings, human limbs strewn on the ground, the smells and sight of death and destruction. No one is ever prepared for this level of trauma. No amount of training can trick the mind to translate these images, sounds, and smells into “normal”. Yet we transition our troops back home with little time to adjust, sometimes only one month on a military base, before they have to engage in civilian life with sights and sounds that may actually trigger traumatic memories. 

June 27th is PTSD Awareness Day. Most people don’t know this. But sadly it’s only one day. We can and must do better for our troops and veterans. 

We should expect to see major overhaul of Veteran’s Affairs and VA hospitals across the country. They are under-funded, under-staffed, and lack the support and proper management that they need to fully provide the services that they are supposed to provide. 

We should expect to see the suffocating bureaucratic red tape cut down so that veterans have immediate access to the resources that they need to not only survive but thrive when they are no longer in active service. It never makes sense to see a homeless veteran. They deserve the best mental and physical healthcare and other resources. 

Our troops should have better benefits than our elected and appointed officials

Let’s keep it real shall we? What are elected and appointed officials sacrificing? Let’s especially look at those who have the luxury of no term limits, cushy desk jobs, photo ops and press conferences, access to private jets, exceptional healthcare, and guaranteed salary? 

Don’t you think and believe that our troops deserve better resources and greater access to those resources than the people we elect (or who are appointed) to office?

Do your part to truly support our troops

It’s more than waving a flag and having a BBQ. It’s more than wearing the flag as a bandana, bikini, shorts, hair accessory, tie, or towel—which by the way are violations of the flag code. 

Here are some ways to honor and support those who serve and the veterans who have served:

  • Bug the mess out of your local, state, and federal officials to get off of their lazy, entitled butts and bring the reform that our country needs to support active, inactive, and veteran personnel. 
  • Do your part by volunteering at clinics, nonprofits, and agencies that provide service to our troops. 
  • Do your part by donating to reputable nonprofits that service veterans. 
  • Do your part by offering jobs and careers to veterans. Revise your businesss and marketing plans to consciously make them part of your target market of job candidates. 
  • Do your part by having special year-round programs for veterans provided through or sponsored by your organization. 

The pomp and ceremony is great, it’s nostalgic, it’s unifying. It’s also temporary. One day or one weekend of free meals or services is great. What about the other days and weekends of the year? We have to give beyond two to three federally-recognized  holidays. 

Have you ever recognized the military’s holiday and special observance calendar? Did you know that they have one? Let me help you out: https://militarybenefits.info/military-calendar-holidays-events-observances/

Now consider some other ways that you, your family, your neighborhood, your workplace, religious institution, and school can truly support the men and women who sacrifice more than all of us, and have little to show for it. 

Happy Veterans Day!

~Natasha