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.


Almost daily, I chat with my former sister-in-law Arleen. She and I have always had a close and special bond. A bond that would and will never be broken. We are connected spiritually, so marriage nor divorce, had a say in the matter of whether she and I would be family. She will always be a part of my family.

I awoke this morning to my daily text from Arleen. It included a quote that moved me and made me emotional. I felt compelled to share it. So I did and I am. I hope that it speaks to someone, maybe you. I also hope that you will forward this message to someone who may truly need this as a reminder each and every day.

Some may question the title of this post. I wrote it to speak to those individuals who share common beliefs with me. I don’t assume that everyone who reads my messages are believers of God. Matter of fact, I know that I have athiests, agnostics, and even conditional believers (when things are going great they believe) who are subscribers. I want them to make a choice to read my message, or not. I’m not here to trick or blindside people. I believe in choices. So with that, let’s delay this no further…

Sending love and light to all of you!


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

Yesterday was part one of this discussion. Hopefully not too many toes were stepped on. For those who felt offended or slighted in any way, look within to see why my observations bothered you so deeply.

Are they not accurate?

I would be interested in furthering our dialogue to examine any points that I made and why you disagree, in whole or in part. Feel free to post your comments below.

Today we begin with part two, which delves into the offspring and legacy of our male-female relationships. Today I will speak to and with the men. Ladies don’t get all high and mighty. Tomorrow, we will have a heart-to-heart.

To the men. To my brothers. I say…

black fathers matter

Stop Being Baby Daddies

Fellas, I understand that sometimes this is the title that you have been designated by a woman who is hurt and angry about something you did and did not do, and so now you’re just the “baby daddy” in her mind.

You can’t control her mind but you can control yours, and your words and actions, and how you interact with your child.

You have a choice to be a father or a baby daddy.

You make the choice to be involved in your child’s precious upbringing or to be a deadbeat.

Let’s “keep it real” Shall We?

You made the decision to have sex with this woman, understanding the potential consequences of your actions. She was good enough to risk conceiving a child with (and please don’t say you didn’t know the risks of having sex), so now you need to do whatever (positively, ethically, and legally) it takes to positively co-parent with her.

Don’t let her foolishness sidetrack and deter you. If you want to have a healthy relationship with your child then do your part to legally and ethically be there in every way possible for your child.

Don’t let her use sex to move the “pawn” (your child) on this “chess board” and don’t you do it either.

Don’t manipulate this relationship with money, through offering or withholding it.

What you do in these instances of using sex and money to see your child is create an environment where you both are participating in pimping and pandering.

It sounds sick doesn’t it? That’s because it is.

If after great effort a woman won’t let you see your child then take her to court and legally fight for your right. But whatever you do, don’t get ugly with her. Let the court see her trickery. When you lower yourself the eyes of the law grow to despise you. The law expects more from you because you are a man, so when you begin acting like a child, doing tit-for-tat with the mother of your child, the court punishes you. Why put yourself through that madness?

Get Your Money In Order For Your Child

If this has been an ongoing battle, make sure that you have already established an account with a bank or credit union where you have been saving money for your child. This money can be used to pay for their daily needs, future needs, or both. It also shows good faith to the judge that you can and are willing to financially provide for the wellbeing of your child and that you have funds designated especially for your child’s needs. It can also grow and expand to be an extracurricular or education fund for your child. It can be an emergency fund for them.

Whatever purpose it serves make sure it’s clearly defined. You’re not obligated to do it, but you should. Your child’s needs should be factored into your personal budget. No one needs to know how much you deposit in the account. A judge may inquire, but no one else needs to be privy. It’s your account for your child.

Create a Nurturing Environment For Your Child

You also need to show that you have a safe and healthy environment for your child to spend quality time with you. Where will your child be sleeping, playing, and learning at your home? Who else lives there? Who visits your home on a regular basis?

Don’t have your child around a bunch of people that don’t make up the village who are sworn to protect your child. So that includes the women you are casually dating, as well as any men you wouldn’t bring to your own mother’s or grandmother’s home. If you wouldn’t bring someone over to your mother’s or grandmother’s home then keep them away from your child. Why leave the wrong impressions on their minds?

It’s simple. Be the father and the man that you say that you are. I’m not saying that a judge will rule in your favor all or most of the time, or at any time—but it’s not about the judge. It’s about you and your child. It’s a pact that you formed the moment that you knew you were a dad, that even through the obstacles, you did what was necessary for your child.

That means child support shouldn’t be something that has to be dragged from your fingers.

No One Should Have to Force You to Be a Father and Provider

Before that even becomes a piece that your child’s mother moves on the chess board, you need to step up and already begin supplying diapers, formula, wipes and other supplies, clothing, furnishings, equipment, and other things that you know your child needs. If you have money for overpriced shoes, smart phones, tickets to your favorite event, to buy the newest video game, or whatever else tickles your fancy—then you have money to set aside to provide for your child. Provide as though the child lives under the same roof as you.

Don’t Punish Her

Don’t punish your child through its mother. Yes, that’s what you do when you withhold and ration money to the mother of your child. That’s what you do when you have women coming and going from your life like a parade, and each one has spent time leaving impressions on your child’s mind—and then you arrogantly throw your “conquests” in the face of your child’s mother.

Hurting her hurts your child. Don’t forget, your child was formed and nurtured inside of her for nine months (on average). They have a bond like nothing you can imagine.

So that also means, don’t try and be vindictive and sue for full custody of your child. Snatching your child away from their mother will have an impact that you never want to experience.

Hurting her hurts your child. Hurting them hurts you.

Control The Flow of Your Money in a Productive and Healthy Way

If you’re concerned with how she’s spending the money that you normally give her for diapers, clothes, etc. then invest the time and money in shopping online for everything your child needs, have it shipped to their home, and then any actual money that you provide to the mother will cover incidentals that you did not allocate for in your budget.

What do I mean by this?

That means if you spend $300 for incidentals online and have those items shipped to her and then you give her $200 in cash (with a signed receipt), is that still not $500 that you invested in your child’s wellbeing? You can even go so far as provide her with a gas card that has reloadable funds available, so she’s not spending money that can go towards rent and utilities on things like that.

Honestly, you should consider doing this even if you aren’t concerned with how she’s spending the money. You actually save her time trying to shop in-store or online with your child in-tow, who of course is constantly needing attention and care. By you shopping online you save both of you from a headache. Most online stores keep track of your previous orders so reordering is fairly easy; and some even have auto-ship options that allows you to schedule shipments to automatically be shipped at a specific period of time, and your card on file is charged once shipment is complete. This can be a great option, and it makes budgeting and bookkeeping easier because you have proof of where and how much money was spent, and on what items.

Why did I say to have it shipped rather than you delivering it personally?

It’s simple. It reduces possible conflict, especially if your relationship with mom is fueled by conflict rather than mutual respect. Additionally, shipping saves you time. You have a job and other responsibilities, it’s about time and money management—it’s about being efficient and effective.

The steps and ideas outlined above are some of the things you can do long before courts get involved. If you’re already financially, emotionally, and physically taking care of your child then any claims the mother has will carry less weight. But you can also implement these steps even after judicial intervention.

Your Primary Concern

What the judge and everyone else will see and know is that you are not a baby daddy, you are a father; you are not a deadbeat, you are a father. A father who is no longer in an intimate relationship with the mother, but is focused on doing his part to help raise a healthy well-rounded child.

Your primary concern and focus should be your child. To do so you must be respectful to the mother of your child, even if she’s being disrespectful to you. Don’t allow her foolishness to impact the relationship that you are trying to have with your child, your heir, the one who will carry on your legacy. Continue to do your job, keeping your word, making sure that you stay informed about your child’s health and wellness, and their education and social upbringing. At the same time, making sure that you respect the mother of your child and her home.

Yeah let’s talk about that real quick, shall we?

What Co-Parenting is. And What It is Not.

Fellas I need you. No. Correction. You need for you to stop thinking that you are still a couple and that you “run things” as it relates and pertains to this woman who is no longer your girlfriend or wife.

Just like she shouldn’t be dictating to you who you date or marry you shouldn’t try to dictate, control, and determine who she dates or marries. The two of you should respectfully discuss how starting and blending these relationships should take place, when your child should be introduced to a potential mate, and how their parents (you and her) will address concerns such as disciplining, caregiving (babysitting), emergency situations (where one or both parent is not available), and other things that you agree are of importance.

This is a conversation that needs to happen early and frequently throughout the growth stages of your child. Not once one of you becomes involved in a relationship. No. No. No. That’s when fireworks start flying everywhere and tempers flare. That’s when the hurt person hurts the other person, and your child is ultimately hurt.

Remember, the number one priority is the health and wellbeing of your child.

I Know She Can Be “Crazy”

Now I know about the belligerent, out-of-control “baby mama” who flaps her gums and bad mouths you as though you’re the seed of satan. I’ve seen them. I’ve heard them. She’s so mad at you for whatever you did to her, real or imagined, and now all she sees is red, and all she wants to do is hurt you in every possible way that she can. The fastest and deepest way to hurt you is through your child and the second way is through your wallet.

Now hopefully some of the suggestions that I mentioned above help to resolve the “through your wallet” dilemma that you hyperventilate over. As far as “through your child” goes—I know that pain. I’ve witnessed and consoled the father who painfully watches as the mother of his child works tirelessly to turn that child against him. It tears at your heart and soul, it bashes in your spirit and your hope.

I know that what I’m about to say you have probably already heard countless times, but I’m going to say it again because I’ve seen this play out full-circle numerous times. I’ve seen what happens when you trust in God, in the Universe to handle those things that you can’t. I’ve seen how by doing what is right as a man and father, by doing all that you can to provide for your child, that child eventually sees the truth and they ultimately cling to you.

Something Your Child Will Cherish Forever

Start writing your child letters now, make a copy of the letter (I would even make a copy of the stamped envelope), and mail the original to your child. I don’t care how old they are. Send those letters. Keep the copies in a folder, envelope, box or whatever. It doesn’t matter how long or how short the letters are. It doesn’t matter what you say in them. Speak to your child through a letter, as though you’re only apart because you’re away on an extended business trip. Tell them how much you love them. Tell them how proud you are. Tell them about how excited you were to see their achievements.

When they are older and you’re given the opportunity, hand them the letters. If their mother is a true mother (and hasn’t transformed to “Mamazilla”), then she shared these letters with your child. If not, you now have the time to share months and years of letters with your child.

Don’t scoff or roll your eyes when you read this. Nothing is more powerful than the expression of love.

It doesn’t matter what the mother says and does, your child will grow up to learn and know the truth and when that time comes your child will cherish everything that you did for them, and will learn from your actions on how to be the best parent they can be with the hand that is dealt to them.

You Are The Example. Set It.

Let them see from you what it means to be a man, father, dad, and parent.

No, you didn’t stay with their mom. You didn’t keep the three of you together as one family unit. But you did everything that you could to make sure that they had all that you could provide, with the resources that you had at your disposal.

Don’t listen to your “boys” and others who would convince you to lower yourself to baby daddy or deadbeat status. None of those people have a legacy to consider tied to that child you helped to conceive. Your child could grow up to be a successful entrepreneur, scientist, engineer, educator, author, chef, architect, designer, mogul, entertainer, athlete, or politician.

All of those people who tried to convince you to do the bare minimum or nothing at all for your child, will be the first lining up with their hands of expectation stretched outward—looking for the “hook up” from your now-successful child. But your child will look at them and look at you, and based on your role in their upbringing they will determine how best to treat you now that they have reached a level of success.

You determine the kind (and quality) of relationship that you will have with your child.

I love you my brothers.


Copyright 2018. Natasha Foreman Bryant/Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

The day that changed my life…

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The day that I married my husband, John Hope Bryant, changed my life.

The wedding is easy (hence why I wasn’t a bridezilla)…it’s the vows, decluttering your lives and meshing parts of it together, coming together as one, being loving even when you don’t want to, thinking for two not just one, truly being ride or die…it’s all WORK!

For some odd reason, even if you lived with the other person for years before marriage (which we did), matrimony changes certain dynamics. Maybe because while dating you always had an exit strategy, nothing truly kept you there. But as a married couple, there’s a bond that’s not easily broken (or shouldn’t be). You have made vows that you didn’t have to make while single. Is your word worth anything? Or are you all talk?

I took and take my vows seriously. People who attended our wedding walked up to me and said, “wow I could feel those words as you recited your vows. You truly meant what you said!” I don’t play with the commitment that I made to God, my husband, and our families. If you recite marriage vows and have some hesitancy or absolute repulsion, then save you and him/her the grief, and don’t say them.

If you’re lazy or self-centered, then don’t take this leap. It truly isn’t for everyone. Marriage takes work, you have to be actively engaged. Marriage is about being self-less NOT selfish, unless of course you’re preserving your marriage from outsiders…then that team selfishness is acceptable—it just can’t be a solo experience, both of you have to take part in that preservation.

Some people are quick to marry, desperate for the image and appearance of marriage. But if you aren’t putting in the work NOW as a partner, then how do you think you will mystically, magically alter yourself once you become that person’s spouse?

If you don’t have his/her back now, being married to them won’t change that, and if they don’t have your back, guess what? Yep, marriage won’t change that. If they can’t come to you and lean on your shoulder and back, and whatever else they need in order to stand back up on their feet…then guess what? You won’t let them do it once you’re married. If you can’t lean on them, being married to them most likely won’t change that for the better. If the two of you aren’t willing to share the responsibilities of a union now, you won’t be inclined to do so as a married couple.

If the two of you aren’t willing to toss away some of your bad, nasty, ignorant habits and behaviors now, you most likely won’t toss them away once you say your “I Do’s”.

If the two of you struggle to live together (or spend several days in the same place), then how can you possibly live under the same roof as a married couple?

If you don’t make the time for your significant other now, when in the world will you make time for them as a married couple?

If you don’t want children (or you don’t want anymore), but they do, then why subject the two of you to the pain of a battle? Marriage isn’t going to change either of your minds.

Look folks, it’s more than ‘putting a ring on it’. It’s more than sharing someone’s name. It’s more than the public perception of marriage.

Heck, if you want a ring, then you can go get one. Call it a commitment or promise ring. Are you really obsessed with changing your name? Ask yourself “why?” What does it really mean to you? Is it the public appearance and perception that sharing the name guarantees that you’re married to each other? There are a lot of married people who chose not to change their last names, probably because of the headache it causes trying to change it professionally and through the numerous government agencies, etc. They are secure within themselves to not get hung up on a name.

As far as public perception goes, if you’re overly concerned with what other people think, say, and do, then you really should not get married. Marriage is about two people. Your decisions should be made by and for the two of you, not others. No one should have a say in your marriage, not even family. The union is supposed to be supported by your loved ones. They are the ones who are supposed to figuratively (and sometimes literally) smack you upside your head and remind you of your vows and how you don’t have the right to slack in your marriage. They are the ones who are supposed to keep you and your spouse prayed up.

Your bridal party (no matter how big or small) is assembled to be your foot soldiers, not just super cute models for one day. Your bridal party is supposed to be made up of the people who are sworn to protect your marriage and family from all attacks, even when the attackers are you and your spouse. Your bridal party members are supposed to be there to help lift you and your spouse up in your time of need. So why in the world would you be concerned about public perception? Who cares what other people think and say about you? It’s supposed to be the two of you side-by-side, looking out for each other, like a positive Bonnie and Clyde (please no shooting sprees and robberies…please!).

Here are some other things to consider:

Are you willing to sacrifice all for this other person? Would you give your life to spare theirs? Would you do whatever it takes to care for them in sickness, and/or if they lost their job? If the answer is “no” then back away from the altar.

If they are close to their parents but you can’t stand their parents, just leave the marriage thing alone. They aren’t about to choose you over their parents. Marriage isn’t going to make them like you or you like them. If anything, it will pull you farther apart.

If you don’t bring out the best in him/her and they don’t bring out the best in you, don’t even consider marriage. You’re bound to end up in divorce court, wasting money on legal fees, and contemplating changing your name back to the one you had for so many years.

Marriage takes work. It’s labor intensive. But when you truly love, value, respect, and appreciate each other (and your union), then it’s all worth it—and you will do whatever it takes to protect it.

I work each day to protect my husband, our marriage, our family, and our legacy. I can’t risk being lazy or casual about our lives together. We both have the power to lift each other up, or tear each other down. We have a responsibility to each other. I don’t take this responsibility lightly. If you’re also married, you shouldn’t either. If you’re contemplating marriage, please don’t do so casually. Take your time to understand the commitment, the bold as well as the fine print, layout the ground rules and expectations about everything that matters most and least to you, and get plenty of pre-marital counseling so that you both know what you’re getting into before you jump into the deep end of this pool.

With love,

Natasha Foreman Bryant                                                                                                                             (or you can just call me “Mrs. Bryant”)

I have some questions for you to think about and then answer….
What and who is most important in your life? 

How much time are you investing in those things and people?

When you look at how your time is invested each day, how much is steered towards your professional goals and how much is nestled in living out your personal dreams?

I see that too much of my time is wading in professional water. Even my dreams somehow are tied to my professional life. What in the world! Here’s a few things that I see myself missing out on if I don’t stop the madness now…

1. Food…seriously! 

For those of you who don’t know me intimately, I’m a foodie and I enjoy cooking. Many people who follow me on Instagram get a kick out of seeing what meals I’ve posted. I’ve been slacking on those posts, mostly out of respect to the current social and political climate plaguing the U.S. But I do intend to return to food posting soon, so you can stop asking me [*smile*].

Now let’s get back to the food….I know that I’m worn out (from work and life) when the last thing I want to do is cook. I know that the last place I need to be turning toward is a restaurant, and especially a fast food restaurant. But there are times when I just cave in and say, “oh well“. 

Here’s the thing, if I have those moments now, how will it be when my companies really have growth? How will it be when I have one or more little children crawling and then running around? 

2. Flexibility

I want some flexibility in my days so that I have a desire to get in the kitchen and whip up greatness. I’m no joke in the kitchen!

I want some flexibility to enjoy my workout times, and not feel rushed to cram in a quick session that shows little to no results on my body (that’s used to intense workouts). My best workouts should not surface when I’m on a retreat or mini vacation. That’s just ridiculous! 

I want some flexibility to sit down with a good book and get carried away by the author’s writing. Can a sista just have a Calgon moment in the tub with her book and some beautifully-scented candles?  Come on now, really?!?

3. Family

I love spending time with my family. I’m a huge family person. I enjoy taking trips to the states where many of closest family members live, and spending quality time with them. I look at my family and all of those amazing feelings that I get are the same ones I want to fill my home with. 

I want to be an engaged mother like my mother was. We didn’t have to be overly concerned with the performance of the schools that I attended (like many parents are now), because my mom and dad were extremely active educators of their children. They didn’t leave the job for the school teachers, they worked hand-in-hand with the school. 

Please don’t take this as an attack against today’s parents. I’m just telling you how I was raised, and how my sister (roughly 15 years my junior) was also raised. 

My mom taught me how to read at the age of two, she created a learning environment for me at home, at my dad’s office, and anywhere we went. My parents planted, watered, and nurtured the seeds within me. That’s the kind of parent I want to be. That’s all I’m saying. So put down your virtual daggers, you hyper-sensitive parents out there!

My Family Legacy…My Look Within To See Myself 

Looking at all sides of my family (maternal and paternal), I’ve been reflecting on the past and present, and wondering about the future. I’ve always had the most thrilling time when visiting with my great-grandparents and grandparents, and now in my adult years, my grandmothers (since the greats and the grandfathers have passed). 

Paternal Family Line

My paternal grandmother, Dorrisene, just passed away a few weeks ago, and her funeral was held on the anniversary day of my father’s passing. She walked this earth for 81 amazing years. She used to be an entrepreneur for over 20 years, a super sharp real estate broker, and then she shifted her career and focused on church ministry (on various levels). She was a public speaker and a published author (with her writings found in the Christian Science Journal, some of which were translated into other languages). My grandmother continued serving through the church (although modified in later years) all the way until her last day breathing in this physical realm. 

At my grandmother’s funeral the other week, I was reminded (by a comment someone made) about how my family had to learn how to share her with members of the church and those in the community that she served and prayed for, as her phone would ring throughout the day and night–with callers on the other end asking for prayer and guidance.

I’m not sure how my grandmother juggled mothering 7 children, being the partner to her husband, and balancing her career. But she did it and did it remarkably well, and without complaints. She used to travel a great deal, but I know that over the past 20 years she really wanted to travel more. She loved her freedom and sense of independence. I loved taking drives along Pacific Coast Highway with her as we both oohed and aahed over the crashing waves, and how the light from the sun glistened over the water. Today I sit back and look at the water from the beach and I smile, thinking of my beloved grandmother, my “Mama”.  

Today, for me, is a reflection about the life and legacy of my beloved family members, paternal and maternal. By looking at them I see myself.

My father passed from a heart attack at age 48, after working out at the gym for two hours. He was the pure definition of a workaholic. An entrepreneur that never took a vacation during his entire adult life. 

Every exciting trip he took was tied to business, and I can only recall one family trip, to Las Vegas, and my mom had to pry him out of the hotel room to chaperone me at the arcade, and to go to dinner with us. He was too busy in the room, on business calls, and what else? Working! As long as he had room service and a television to watch football or basketball, my dad was good to go. He could focus on work and scream occasionally at the television like he was the team coach.

Dad promised us family trips, that never happened. The Bahamas, Walt Disney World (for my sister), trips throughout Africa and Europe. We never went as a family. In 2001, he planned a 2002 trip to Brazil for the two of us, so he could finally let loose and be free during Carnival–that trip never happened. He passed away a few months after he made this huge announcement. I’m not upset that we didn’t take the trips. I’m saddened that his dreams were cut short, right when he was getting ready to set sail.

My paternal family is made up of work horses—driven, competitive, and more career-focused than play-focused. They work hard but I don’t see them taking much-needed breaks to play or even to just unwind. 

My paternal grandfather, Robert (aka “Jim” by his kids, for some strange reason), passed away around the age of 51. My grandfather passed the day after saying he was going to “slow down and relax more”. He was in the hospital due to a heart attack and had plans to relax and enjoy the simple things in life, but never made it out of the hospital. He too was an entrepreneur who just couldn’t seem to slow down and enjoy the beauty within this world. After serving more than 20 years in the Air Force, you think he would have slowed down some, but nope.

Two of my dad’s six siblings also passed at young ages, and the surviving four are left behind to live life as fully as they allow themselves to live. My aunt Cheryl, a lawyer, passed away in her thirties after working out at the gym. She passed before having children (unless you count she and her husband’s dogs, “Ash” and “Obadiah”) and before really getting her feet wet in life. 

My uncle Ricardo (we call him “Ricky”), was a tech genius that helped keep IT running strong at the college where he worked. He was admitted to the hospital for pneumonia (that he had overlooked because he was working too hard to slow down and go to the doctor), and upon release the hospital didn’t tell him he wasn’t capable of walking (because of the medicine they gave him), so while unsupervised he fell and this fall caused a domino effect that landed him in the ICU with a stroke (and mini heart attacks), and years later (and at least two long-term care facilities after) my uncle, with limited verbal and physical capacity–who just wanted to leave the hospital and go home—passed away. This is the same uncle who was engaged to be married, was planning elaborate trips with his fiancé, and enjoyed the getaways that they shared several times per year. But he passed, not fully living as he had dreamed.

Maternal Family Line

I look at my maternal family line, and my grandfather, Elisberry (his grandchildren called him “Poppa” and everyone else called him “E.L.”) passed from an asthma attack he waited too long to treat (after doing someone a favor by doing work at their property). He worked over 40 years for Ford through Fred Jones Ford, before retiring, and rewiring to a new, daily routine. 

My maternal grandmother, Maxine, also in her 80s (and the senior of the two grandmothers) is fighting with Alzheimer’s disease while dealing with a medical issue that has her in a care facility while she heals. My Mamacine (as her grandchildren and great-grandchildren call her) was an entrepreneur for over 40 years and retired too soon in my opinion, and from what I heard, in her opinion too! 

She retired with the hope of traveling more. She traveled quite a bit before retirement (mostly for church, family reunions, and NAACP events), but she wanted to go to Hawaii and other exotic places for leisure. She never made those trips. I won’t say it’s impossible now, but it’s probably not wise for us to make that attempt at this stage in her Alzheimer’s battle. So for her most recent birthday we decided to throw her a luau-themed birthday since she always wanted to visit Hawaii. She looked at all of us like we were silly for celebrating her birthday after it had already passed (that was the Alzheimer’s talking) but I can tell that she enjoyed herself.

My mom is reading the memo of life and finally getting it. She’s a hard worker who is finally making the time, little by little, to enjoy the simpler things in life. She’s returned to her birth state to help take care of my grandmother, and with that sacrifice she’s come to the conclusion that she now knows how she wants to live her life, not just exist in this world. She’s not waiting on other people to accompany her on excursions and to attend events, she’s jumping in her car and riding solo. I’m praying that her brother and sister also begin reading that memo. 

Stop The Madness…Or At Least Slow It Down

I shared all of this to say…

We have to break this work-work-work cycle and blend in more spiritual time, play time, family time, breathing time, and “just being present” time. We need to take breaks from the technological portals that keep us tied in like the Borg on Star Trek. Take a leisure walk. Read a book, a paper one, so you can feel those rough pages on your finger tips. Go to your nearby public library and explore the thousands of books waiting for you. Pack a lunch and relax at the park. Go to the beach and see how big of a sand castle you can build. During the winter, plop in a pile of snow and make snow angels (that of course is only possible if you live in or travel to a snow area). 

When was the last time you swung on a swing? 

If you were a child, then it’s been way too long. Go find a swing and laugh like a kid again. Put down the umbrella and splash in the rain. Watch dinner by candlelight and don’t even look in the direction of the television, video games, laptop, or your mobile devices. 

Legacy Building

The richness of your legacy is made up of the magical stories told about your life and the lives you positively touched, hundreds of years later. 

Those family members of mine who have passed away and transitioned to a much better life than here, they all made a positive impact on lives within our family, their community, places of business, and beyond. The more generations who tell their story, the longer their legacy. 

I’m just reflecting on my life and wondering if I will be able to live out my dreams with the complex variables that I’ve created for myself. I’m a few years older than my paternal aunt when she passed, and several years younger than my dad when he passed away 16 years ago. I’ve gotta a lot of living that I want to do, so I’m praying that this train ride doesn’t stop sooner than my dreams. 

I want to work hard, play hard, and enjoy every millisecond that I have on this planet—so I’m going to do something about that now, rather than later!

Warmest wishes,



Three years ago I ran across this Facebook post, “3 Things I Wish I Knew Before We Got Married” written by Admin khuy, and I read it, before I got married.

What is interesting is reading it three years later and my mouth kept dropping, because it felt like I was reading it for the very first time. It’s been 6 years into a relationship, three of those years have been as a married couple—and I think this is a great article for those individuals who are career driven and/or mission driven, and think they “got it handled” when it comes to marriage and family.

Today I share this post with those of you contemplating marriage, engaged to be married, newlyweds, and even those of you married 8-40 years. I share this with the married ones who place their careers before their marriage (knowingly or unknowingly), and ignorantly think there will be harmony in that arrangement.

I share this with those of you planning to start a family, currently pregnant, have a newborn, and of course to those of you with multiple children of various ages. I share this with those of you who put your children first and your marriage second, or even last. Before your first child is born, it’s just you and your spouse. When your last child leaves the nest, guess what? It will just be you and your spouse. Your partnership deserves more than being placed second or worse, last to anything and anyone.

These three things that Admin khuy writes about sound simple, but oddly enough, many couples aren’t doing these things and that’s why current statistics are showing high divorce rates by or before year 8 in the marriage. It’s not money causing divorce, it’s disconnection, and as khuy wrote, “unawareness” that is the root cause. The byproduct ends up being money, adultery, abuse, neglect, etc. But before these things took place the roots were formed by one or both people being unaware of what marriage requires, and then the two who were once connected became disconnected—and as they grew farther apart the “issues” took center stage.

Please read this husband’s post (below) and try these three things for at least one month, and see how it can positively change your life, your marriage, your family, and even your community. If you can then see the possibility, maybe then you will embrace it as your way of life.

Marriage isn’t about living happily ever after with that one person who “completes” you, it’s about the journey of transitioning into a better, more selfless you.

Read Admin khuy’ post and then share your thoughts in my comments section…


If you’re reading this, pause right now and say “thank you” to God, our Creator, because today wasn’t promised and you didn’t do anything yesterday to earn today. So show your gratitude and don’t let today be about you, let it be about God, and about His children. 

Today I’m honoring my mother, my grandparents and our family…  

My Mom: Gwendolyn (“Gwen”)

Monday and Tuesday’s scriptures shared in Breaking Bread, were sent to me from my mom, and I posted them as they were worded. I didn’t ask if they were her words or just forwarded from a third party. It didn’t and doesn’t matter. 

It’s the thought that my mom, pauses in her hectic day to spread God’s Word, Love, and Light.  

I want to thank her and honor her because she’s a giver, not a taker, and because through her walk in life I’ve learned so much about her, our family, and myself. 

While working a full-time job, my mom is also working extremely hard to take care of her mother’s needs, and to make sure that my grandmother spends her Golden Years with dignity. To make all of this happen my mom has to sacrifice so much in return—something she hadn’t planned for or thought deeply about before. 

Reading her Bible each day gives my mom the added layer of strength, courage, discipline, humility, faith, and belief that she needs to refuel and press forward. It’s not easy being away from me and my sister, and away from the state she desires to grow roots in, but she sacrifices the desire to spend quality time with us, to instead spend quality time with her mom, and to reconnect our large family in a different way. 

My mom uprooted herself to go back and live in a state she hadn’t resided in for almost 30 years (she was 6 years younger than me when she last lived there)—just to take care of her mother. She was only supposed to be there a few months to help with some small matters—or so she and I thought. It’s been two years and that reality bites at her core, and it stresses me and my sister out. 

But rather than dwelling on it until she spirals out of control, she looks for and to God’s Light. She sees and embraces the blessings along this journey. Some good and great things, both big and small, have come her way every single day she’s been there. 

My mom has also been forced out of her comfort zone. So things that she avoided doing while in Atlanta (or even when we lived in California), she now does, and she’s loving the peace that comes from stepping up and stepping out. She doesn’t have to wait for others to join her for an activity. If my mom wants to go to a concert or other event, she’s getting up and going by herself. I’m so impressed with her growth. She’s not going to waste anymore time and opportunities. 

Even when my mom gets blindsided by alarming news, incompetence of others, bureaucratic red tape, and lack of genuine support from where she needs it most—-my mom still finds the silver lining in those storm clouds. She’s an inspiration to me! I love my mother!

My mom takes care of her mom because she’s supposed to, because God says so, because my grandmother raised and took care of her and now is the time to fully reciprocate. My mom takes care of her mom because that’s what she would want me and my sister to do for her. My mom wants for my grandmother the same things she wants for herself. The same things most of us want for ourselves, now and in our more “seasoned” years. 

Over the past two years my mom has successfully brought her family together for dinners and events. Her mother’s siblings, nieces and nephews, and at times even the grandkids. My mom wants my grandmother and her siblings to spend as much quality time together as they can. 

It’s beautiful to see immediate and extended family members hanging out, smiling and laughing, reconnecting and sharing, breaking bread together. I thank my mom for helping make that possible. 

I’ve seen cousins that I’ve never met before or haven’t seen in more than 15-20 years. Distance and time has kept many of us apart, but now through the momentum my mom has created, I truly believe this tradition can continue and will grow. I can visualize us hosting our own family reunions for our ever-growing side of Catos, Butlers, and Stephens. We of course will continue going to the huge annual family reunions across the country, but we can also have our mini “Sunday Dinner” reunions to keep us connected as a unit. 

I do my best to help my mom however I can. I’m working to regain my strength so I can do more, physically to help out at my grandparents home. Mom and I have been working hard to preserve and celebrate the legacies of her parents and our family. 

My Grandmother Maxine  

My grandmother, Maxine (the grandkids call her “Mamacine”), is in her early 80s and is fighting Dementia. You see it in her eyes. She is a fighter. Our family ignored the symptoms. Looking back in hindsight, some of us can see what we overlooked for years. This once-jet setter is now confined and restricted mentally, emotionally, and in many ways physically and financially (because she doesn’t have the freedom she once had even several years ago). 

This isn’t how my grandmother envisioned her retirement years. She saw herself traveling and spending quality time with family and friends. She was a keeper of memories, and as you sort through the things in her house you see the things she did and items she kept for family members. I wish I had recorded my phone calls with her pre-2013, I would be able to cherish our laughs, the stories she would tell, the warm memories she would reflect upon, the corny jokes she would tell and the side-splitting jokes that I would blunder trying to later repeat. 

My mom is driven to give my grandmother access to the type of environment, people, and resources that will lift her up in dignity, so that she can truly live and feel the love of her remaining years—no matter if it’s less than 10 years or more than 20 years. My mom wants to make sure that they are dignity-rich years. She wants to honor her mother, a retired entrepreneur, and preserve her awesome legacy.

My Grandfather Elisberry

My maternal grandfather, Elisberry, aka “E.L.” and “King Fish”, passed away in 1995 from work-related asthma, after spending one of his retirement days doing something in service of others. He gave and gave that day and overlooked the urgency of his symptoms, and by the time he made it home to give himself a treatment his lungs and body gave out. In his selflessness he sacrificed his life. My mom and I want to honor his amazing legacy, and guess what? We will do just that in the name of Jesus! 

I love every time my mom calls or texts me about a photo, note, letter, book, video, newspaper clipping, or other memorabilia that she has found in my grandparents home. To see photos of my cousins, my grandparents and great grandparents, my aunts and uncles, and family friends—it all brings me such joy, and even more so because I know that my grandmother was holding on to those things and was trying to hold on to those memories as her short-term memory began to fade faster and faster. 

So my mom works aggressively each day to separate the captured memories from the daily clutter that accumulated, so that my grandmother can walk back into her home and see and feel the memories and love she so longs to hold on to. 

My face today, my grandmother doesn’t recognize (she didn’t even recognize me at my 2013 wedding), but my faces from my past she knows. Just as she knows my cousins and her siblings from images of years ago. Soon my grandmother will be surrounded by these photos and many of these people, and we will reminisce over times well spent. We will cherish every smile and giggle she makes, and every story she can remember to tell. We will record these moments to share with generations yet born. 

Our family legacy is preserved or destroyed based on our actions today and tomorrow. My mom is determined to preserve the legacy of her parents, her family, and encourage other generations to do the same thing. 

Watching my mom these past few years has both hurt me and helped me. It’s hurt to watch her physically and emotionally in pain trying to accomplish what some people half her age would struggle (and possibly fail) to do. At the same time she has helped me to see life through her lens. I can now see how best to protect her now and in her Golden Years. I can see how to be the type of advocate that she is desperately trying to be for her mother. I can see the importance of taking the time to sort through the tangible and metaphoric clutter to get to the treasures that bind us to family, our communities, this world, and God. 

Preserving and Celebrating My Grandparents Legacy: What We Sometimes Don’t Learn Until Later in Life  

My grandparents epitomize what it means to be hardworking, God-fearing, and humble. 

My grandfather was one of the most honorable, gracious, loving, dependable, fair, faithful, and determined people that I’ve ever known. His lack of formal education did not stop him from accepting life’s challenges, having a long-lasting career, providing for his family, raising his children to achieve higher educational milestones than he, owning a house and turning it into a home (that I intend to restore and keep in our family for generations to come). 

My grandmother was an entrepreneur for roughly 40 years. I didn’t realize how much she taught me about being an entrepreneur. Heck, how could I? 

I didn’t even realize that all of those years growing up as a child I was watching my grandmother, the entrepreneur, in action. I just knew I liked going to work with her. I thought I was just watching a hard-working female barber working alongside nothing but men, with clientele who were also men. Here my grandmother was working in a male-dominated (segment of an) industry from the 1960s through early 2000s. She could hang with the men and lead barbershop talk, and no one questioned her place or role in their inner-circle. 

In my opinion my grandmother retired too early. But she wanted to travel more, see the world, and have more flexibility in her life and schedule. Unfortunately she still hasn’t seen parts of the world she dreamed about, so I send her photos and postcards whenever I travel. 

She always wanted to travel to the state of Hawaii, but we waited too long to plan a family trip and now because of the unpredictability of dementia, last year we chose to instead host a mini luau for her at a local park. She wore her lei and looked around in amazement at all of these faces that sang happy birthday to her, and she sat there wondering why they were celebrating her birthday so early since, “my birthday isn’t this month,” she repeated.    
I will always cherish the photos and videos from that day. 

I will make sure to do my part to preserve my grandparents, my parents, and our families legacies. My doctor told me that every time I’m with family that I need to take photos and record videos, because tomorrow isn’t promised, so we need to preserve and cherish today. 

What will be of your legacy? What will people say about you and your family? 

Why I Share This Story

I share this story about my mom, her parents, and our family to share with you that we never know what tomorrow will bring that will derail our plans. But God never fails us. When times get rough you need to stay prayed up. If you have a close bond with your family, you need to interlock your arms and lift each other up in prayer. If your family is disconnected, you need to do your part to realign your unit through prayer and actionable steps. 

Forgive and ask for forgiveness. Heal old wounds. Let go of grudges from the past. Accept your flaws and the flaws of others, and rather than dwell on limitations—embrace the strengths that you all possess. We are only as strong as our weakest link!

Don’t let pettiness divide your family. You may not have a tomorrow to make things right. Don’t allow yourself or your family to be content in mediocrity, for that lifestyle is an insult to God. You should be striving for greatness in all things—personally, professionally, spiritually, financially, and civically. 

You have an opportunity to make right the wrongs, to live your remaining days with dignity and honor, and serve as God intends—fully and without hesitation or regret. 

Who will you honor and celebrate today?

Thanks mom. I love you!!!

Love always and forever,


Copyright 2016. All rights reserved. Natasha Foreman Bryant

By Natasha Foreman Bryant
 I shared these exact words in my Breaking Bread blog a few moments ago, but I know that not everyone who reads this blog also follows my Breaking Bread blog. So I share these with all of you….
 Last night my dear friend, Carman, called me and painfully muttered the words that I knew would come one day, but never knowing when—she told me her father David had just passed away. David had been fighting Alzheimer’s for several years now and it was taking its toll on David, Carman, and their family.
 But in David’s passing I don’t see things as though he ‘lost the battle’ to Alzheimer’s, instead I see things differently. I see that David had the opportunity to spend time with his family and be cared for by his family. During his battle his family was faced with the option of embracing change or resisting it, and they were faced with a reality that they definitely weren’t prepared for or desired. David’s battle challenged his family. David’s battle has strengthened my friend Carman, and their family. They may not see it right now because the reality of him not physically being here is clouding the reality that he will always be here, and that not physically being here means he is no longer suffering, but forever living in and with peace.
 I pray that in their mourning they seek out God and seek to rejoice, pray, and give thanks for God and for Him not only bringing David to them, but allowing them to spend as much physical time as they have with David. I pray that they rejoice, pray, and give thanks for the challenges, the battles, and the pain over the years because with these things they have grown stronger and more resilient. I pray that David’s life brings them closer together, helps them overcome past issues, and prevents future ones.
 I pray that they don’t see David’s passing as a loss, but as a gain, because David has been promoted to his next level of existence. David has gone on to bigger and better things, experiences, and realities. He physically cannot be seen or touched, but through memories and laughter, he will always be felt and seen spiritually. David was a physically fit man who loved to exercise and roller skate, his condition prior to being promoted didn’t allow for him to do the things he loved—but now he can.
 I know what it’s like to ‘lose’ a loved one, I have ‘lost’ many. I know what it’s like to ‘lose’ a parent, my dad was suddenly and without warning promoted by God in 2001. I had so much guilt built up because I didn’t return his phone call ‘in time’ that day, because I didn’t get the chance to say, “I love you dad” and “see you later”, and because I didn’t pay attention to earlier signs of a heart attack. I had nightmares because I would flash back to the moment I found him in his office. I couldn’t shake the image.
 I was torn between embracing his sudden promotion and wanting to disconnect for awhile from the world. So I found a reasonable middle ground. I knew my dad would not want me to mourn him because he lived such an amazing life, flaws and all, and he had such a giving heart, so why wouldn’t I celebrate his life, legacy, and promotion to eternal life?
 My middle ground was living my life, growing comfortable speaking about his, doing everything and anything I could to be a great student of Christ and servant leader, and doing what I could to make him proud and to make myself proud. I have spent the past 13 years growing, healing, and celebrating life—mine and my dad’s. I have failed and succeeded, fallen but always gotten back up. I know dad is proud of me. Yes, there are times I cry because I miss him, because I want to see and hear him experience the great things that are going on in my life, and because I want to ask him for professional, personal, and spiritual advice. Then I eventually smile, thank God, tell my dad I love him, and talk to him anyway, knowing he can’t interrupt me [smile].
 I pray that my friend Carman and her family find a comfortable middle ground that they can eventually grow and mature into a higher ground of acceptance and celebration, because honestly, David wouldn’t want them to be constantly mourning him, depressed that he’s not physically around, and falling short of the greatness that he challenged himself and them to reach each day. David always wanted the best for his family, and flaws and all, David did his best to provide what he could when he could to his family.
 I hope by sharing David and Carman’s life and experience, and by sharing my own, that each of us take this time to rejoice, pray, and give thanks. I hope that we make this a natural habit each day. Life as we know it has a time limit, and we don’t know when that time will end, but what we can do is live our lives to the fullest each and every day, forgiving ourselves and others, shaking off depression and guilt, pushing ourselves to greatness, so that we and our families are better prepared for the day when we too are promoted.
 Carman I love you and your family. You all are a part of my extended family and I want you to know that you can thrive and shine brightly because God has equipped you to do so, and your dad gave you many examples of how to do it here and now. Don’t let the enemy convince you that life can never be good or better because David isn’t physically here. David is in each and every person that he encountered, embraced, and spent quality time with. Just as we are to look for Jesus in others, look for your dad in others—then smile, laugh, and say, “thank You!”
 I share these same words with and for all of you reading this. We must be selfless during change. We must embrace the change in order to grow and see the rainbow after the storm. The longer we resist the longer it takes for us to breathe and be free.

 Rejoice. Pray. Give thanks.
 Copyright 2014. Natasha Foreman Bryant. All Rights Reserved.

I just posted to my Breaking Bread blog a prayer and reflection that I felt could also be shared on my other blogs. It doesn’t just focus on our family members who lie, cheat, steal, and get high. It focuses on you, on us, and how we deal with that person. It also focuses on our lives and those frequent moments when we betray God with as much or more intensity and intent as the family member who betrays us. It’s such a crazy cycle.
 How do we heal from our self-inflicted “crimes” and how do we heal from heinous acts committed against us? How do we go through the steps needed to forgive ourselves and others? How do we factor in the person who hurt us? Do we disown them or slowly begin to allow them back into our lives? When do you let them back in? After they are “healed” from their “infliction” or during the healing process? Below please read the excerpts from this post and then share your thoughts.
 Excerpts from Breaking Bread:

Has a loved one ever stolen from you? Blatantly lied to you? Been abusive towards you? Coldly disrespected you? Manipulated you into believing that they were a certain type of person, or lived a certain type of way? Have you suspected that they were stealing from you and others but your interventions fell short of any real results?
 Do you have a loved one who is abusing drugs and/or alcohol yet you keep ignoring the problem? How many times have you known that this person has been behind the wheel of a car? How many times have you witnessed the aftermath of their binging behavior? How many times have you bailed them out of jail or financial binds?
 I just spent the past hour reading forum threads about family members, young children and adult children, who stole from their family, were abusing drugs and/or alcohol, were blatantly disrespectful and sometimes abusive, and their family didn’t know what to do. I read of parents and other family members who just couldn’t take the betrayal any more and they kicked the perpetrator out of their home and forbid their return for any reason. Then I read of instances where people continued to forgive and let “slide” the offenses even when extremely valuable and sentimental items were stolen.
 Have you ever experienced this phenomena? Are you experiencing it now? It’s painful to have a stranger steal from or betray you. But it feels like your insides are being gutted when it’s done by a loved one….


…I think that just like God lovingly allows us to stumble and fall into valleys, yet never completely cutting us off, we too must lovingly let our perpetrator-family member go so that they can stumble and fall—-because we can’t go farther down when our faces are on the ground. We can either stay there or get up, and we can’t get up without God.
 Lovingly keep those who are inflicted with the thieving, lying, abusing/abusive “bug” at a safe distance, so that you can allow God to have complete access without your interference. Every time we interfere and think that we can do God’s job and fix something faster, we end up being the victim. There’s a big difference between an intervention with tough love, and trying to “fix” someone. Set and stick by boundaries and rules to protect yourself and other family members, and let God handle the details. The perpetrator will only get and accept help when they want it and see the need for it. Until that time they are like a nonstop tsunami that will destroy anything and anyone in their path.

 If YOU are the perpetrator then you will either deny wrongdoing (and continue spiraling out of control until you hit a hard enough force that stops you) or you will get professional and spiritual help, and make right your wrongs.
 Copyright 2013. All Rights Reserved. Natasha Foreman Bryant.

By Natasha L. Foreman, MBA

On April 15th I was honored to lead a Dignity Day session as a HOPE Corp Volunteer through Operation HOPE (HOPE) at the Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy (CSKYWLA) in Atlanta.

What is amazing is how the majority of this class of ninth graders were initially completely turned off to the idea of having to listen to yet another speaker that day as they were just returning to their classroom from an assembly that focused on the theme of 100 days of Non-Violence…so they were shifty and closed off. But about 15 minutes into our conversation some of the girls who had crossed arms were soon raising their hands and answering questions.

I started off by talking about the concept of legacy and that that day we were laying the foundation and road map for them to create and eventually leave behind a strong, dignified legacy. I had them define the term legacy in their own words and then share some of their dreams, goals and aspirations. Then as our conversation deepened I shared with them the history of how HOPE was founded, the services and programs that HOPE offers, and I started to weave a story where life included them and their legacy.

I think helping them share the names of empowered and dignified women they see in their family, community, and elsewhere who had similar or worse lives growing up helped them to see that they too could be those same type of women- that they are these women but in-training and with the potential to do more and help more in the long run because they are being equipped with the tools at a young age; and our adversity isn’t an excuse to let life pass us by or a crutch to coast through life doing and expecting the bare minimum, but a reason and motivation to excel and succeed.

These young ladies were shocked to hear that the civil rights movement as it pertained to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and Ambassador Andrew Young was sparked, motivated, and pushed along due to their wives Coretta Scott King and Jean Childs Young- two women who endured and overcame adversity and strife. Hearing this information made many of these girls sit up straight in their chairs and listen intently.


When I spoke about not holding grudges, and that forgiving people is not to benefit the person they were forgiving but to help themselves heal, grow, and overcome- some girls shifted in their seats their seats, a few others rolled their eyes in disbelief; but then when I mentioned Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelou, Iyanla Vandzant and their ability to forgive their abusers and using strife as a launching pad towards success- some of the girls started naming other people like Fantasia and Tyler Perry who was sexually and physically abused and how he also overcame and pushed himself to success.

We discussed the concept of family and that it isn’t just our immediate family we need to be concerned about but our neighborhoods, cities, state, our country, and our global family. Because I know that girls can be equally as cutthroat as boys, I made sure that we had a heart-to-heart chat about trash-talking and “clowning” people and how although initially it can be lighthearted and funny, it can also be crippling and tear apart our “extended” family.

We discussed being relevant not only in this country but globally, and that true wealth (spiritual, financial, etc) can only be maintained long term by leading a dignified life, not by living up to the negative stereotypes that are projected globally about Black females. We discussed self-empowerment and not waiting on the government or specific programs to help us, that we have to help ourselves. That we shouldn’t be waiting for someone else to pick up trash on our sidewalks- we should pick it up ourselves.

We shouldn’t be waiting for someone else to cover the graffiti on our walls and buildings- we should paint over it ourselves; we shouldn’t wait for someone else to beautify our streets and parks with trees and flowers- we should plant them ourselves. I explained that they should be volunteering in their community through church or some other organization taking pride in restoring, building, maintaining, and beautifying their neighborhoods.

We had a pretty good time. We laughed and talked about boys and expectations of being respected by males and all people when you carry yourself with respect and dignity. We discussed the language of money and being financially literate, and how this literacy will empower them. It was refreshing to see that many of them have savings accounts and that two of the students had traveled abroad- one to London and the other to the Bahamas. Two young passport carriers living in an underserved and underrepresented area of Atlanta- doesn’t that give you hope? It gives me hope and encourages me to continue my work in the community, and my work through Operation HOPE.

I hope more men and women find it in their hearts to invest one hour of their time at least once per month to volunteer in a church, in a class room, or in a youth center through Operation HOPE. One person can make a difference!

Copyright 2011. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.