This morning I shared a message on my other blog #BreakingBreadWithNatasha

I decided to share here the reflection I had written there. I’ve edited it to focus solely on the thoughts and declarations about faith and fear. I hope it resonates with someone, maybe you. I hope it has the level of stickability to help you overcome that which serves as a barrier and hindrance to you. You can read the entire message here.

If you aren’t a spiritual person, simply change the word(s) that don’t align with you, for that which empowers and gives you greater confidence.

Here’s Today’s Reflection:

Faith is believing in the unseen, the unknown, the immeasurable, and the inconceivable.

Faith is walking even when you don’t see the path ahead.

Faith is believing in and opening yourself to seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, and touching using your spiritual senses—and not with your human senses (which are limited).

Faith is knowing that there is a “there” even when you aren’t sure where “here” is….

Fear is a distractor, a blocker. It rears up to distort your vision and perfect reception to God. The greater your fear the less you rely upon God to solve your dilemma. The more you give in to the fear, the more you pull away from God….

Fear is a punk. Faith is a warrior.

Fear keeps you in the state of lack. It keeps you struggling to survive. Faith fills and overflows your cup with abundance of greatness. Faith plus works equals a life of thriving, not just surviving.

We “can’t” with fear. We can with faith. It’s impossible with fear. It’s only possible with faith. Fear keeps “can’t” and “impossible” and “it’s too difficult” and “there’s no cure” as the barriers in our life. They become the forests that we think we can’t see past. Faith gives you the vision to see everything, everywhere.

Expand your thinking and vision.

Look beyond the weeds and trees, and beyond the obvious things surrounding you. Connect with your spiritual foundation and then hold on for the ride, because it’s going to be exciting and euphoric.

Love always,

Natasha

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

Fear over immediate threat is okay; it’s understandable. Anxiety is the build up of fear and frustration of the “what-ifs” and the “shoulda’s” which oftentimes are out of our control because the past we cannot revisit and fix, and the future hasn’t occurred. We’re in a state of limbo, dangling in a space that we cannot control. And many of us have control issues.

So rather than stress over this reality, which is unhealthy, we need to focus on letting go and letting things be as they are.

Breathe.

Noticing your breathing means you are aware of the now; you are present. Rest in being present. Don’t struggle straddling fences. Breathe.

“Take in each moment as it comes. Don’t focus on the time. Focus on the moment”. Those are words of wisdom from my aunt Debborah Foreman, and she’s never steered me wrong.

I would love to hear from you by the end of the day or even tomorrow with an update on how well you handled your stress today. Did it build or dissipate? Please share.

~Natasha L. Foreman
P.S. Thanks to sis Arleen for forwarding the image used that motivated me to share with all of you 💗

This morning I was moved to read and reflect on this scripture in the Bible:

First pride, then the crash— the bigger the ego, the harder the fall. –Proverbs 16:18 MSG

I then began to write the reflection below followed by a prayer, that you can read in its entirety by visiting my Breaking Bread With Natasha blog. My message for today is lengthy but as it helped me to share it, hopefully it will help someone to read it.

Pride

Pride driven by ego is a dangerous weapon that always leads to self-inflicted torture. This form of pride should not be confused with being “proud of” overcoming obstacles or being proud of your children. That’s not the pride that causes crashes.

Pride, as referenced in the scripture above, is the manifestation of being so self-absorbed that you refuse to ask for help, admit that you’re wrong, admit that you can’t do something, etc. You could be struggling financially, spiritually, mentally, or physically yet you refuse to reach out for assistance so that you can struggle less or not at all.

This level of pride would allow you to leave a job or a relationship simply because you couldn’t see yourself letting go of the little control that you thought you had because you refused to be vulnerable, open and exposed with someone else. Not wanting it to appear that someone outdid or outsmarted you, you would rather uproot, disrupt, destroy, and walk away than to give in to the process that could bring peace, harmony, and restoration.

Ego says that you don’t need to pray to God before speaking, because “you’ve got this“. Ego convinces you to never surrender in an argument, to fight relentlessly to the end regardless of the collateral damage, and regardless of the fact that you could be and probably are 100 percent wrong. Pride says, “oh well if I am, you won’t get me to admit it”.

Strong people have a difficult time letting go and asking for help, and admitting that they simply don’t know or that they are weak in certain areas. Highly intelligent people oftentimes can’t fathom not knowing the answer to a question, having a solution to a problem—so pride will step up and declare all sorts of misinformation, distortions, and even blatant lies to mask the truth. Pride will sacrifice everything for self-image.

The ego doesn’t want to lose so pride steps in and cheats to win. To the ego the consequences of actions are meaningless or can easily be counteracted. The reality is there are always equal or greater consequences to the actions that we take, even if not immediate, they still come with a heavy penalty.

My Admission of Guilt

I’m guilty of letting my pride get the best of me. My ego can be whopper size and my stubborness to defend my position at all costs can and has left me severely injured and a lot of collateral damage along the wayside.

My pride has caused me spiritual, physical, emotional, and financial harm. My pride has caused damage to personal and professional relationships. Things said and done oftentimes can’t be reworded or undone. It’s usually set in and embedded so deep that your only options are to flee (pride) or work to make things right (humility). You have to be willing to surrender, admit that you’re wrong, and pursue the steps required to make right your wrong. The ego hates that. It digs deep into your gut causing you a pain that makes you feel like dry heaving (also known as “retching”).

In the late 1990s to early 2000s, my pride cost me my career, car, home, furnishings, and lifestyle. I hit rock bottom and had to humble myself to slowly get my face up off of the ground. It was a devastating blow. I was reminded that my priorities were off and that I was listening to ego when I was supposed to be listening to God. My pride was quick to blame others, but God quickly silenced me with the bold reminder that the decisions I made were done so consciously, so credit and fault rested with me. You can argue with God but He has time on His side, so choose wisely.

Pride stepped in and caused me much grief after my March 2017 divorce. Ego told me that I could deal with the trauma on my own, alone, and isolated. Ego told me that I could heal, recover, and rebound faster and better if I did it by myself, without help from anyone. The problem with that scenario is that you tend to also block out God’s voice and avoid seeing the blessings in the form of opportunities and redirection.

God speaks through people, but if you’re isolated how can you interact with them to hear His message? And sadly, because I’ve always projected myself to be “strong” and a “super woman”, others see me this way, so when I did reach out for help, friends and associates dismissed the level and severity of my pain and circumstances because in their mind, “Natasha’s strong, she’s got this,” but what in my past has ever truly prepared me for divorce?

In my past I’ve experienced gut-wrenching heart break, I’ve experienced extreme loss and numerous human deaths (all of which were untimely). But nothing has ever prepared me for the devastating blow that comes from divorcing the person that you planned to spend the rest of your life with. You’re not given a handbook or put through a training program before or during marriage that prepares you for divorce.

Church, family and society preaches “for better or for worse, til death do you part…” and with that your mind isn’t focused on the death of your marriage, your union, your relationship—but that’s what divorce looks and feels like for so many of us—death—and you have to go through ALL of the stages of grief to fully heal. My ego was even fighting that process. My ego had me to wear the mask of “I’m perfectly fine with this situation, it is what it is…” knowing that it was a bold and blatant lie. I wasn’t even an inkling of “fine” or a shade of “okay”.

I was in denial and the pain and frustration reared up and clobbered me in November 2017 and dragged me like a ragdoll through January and February 2018, and plopped me on a stump in March 2018 with my truths staring me squarely in my face. I finally got my head turned around and senses together so that I could sit up and assess my situation. That happened in April 2018. I had a tumultous 2017 and 2018 had some very painful stumbles, but it didn’t have to be so extreme, had I listened to and obeyed God instead of my ego.

For two years my company, Foreman & Associates, LLC suffered because I wouldn’t get the help that I needed personally so that I could focus on the work that needed to be done professionally. Because I didn’t protect and take care of myself, my business was punished. That collateral damage is real!

I’ve come to realize that it’s not one single thing or even a handful of things or circumstances that prepare you for life’s clobbering sessions. It’s the culmination of all of the times that you were beat down in the “boxing ring” of life, and you got back up. It’s all of the times that life beat you and you found yourself pinned against the “ropes”, trying desperately to fend off the hits and not get knocked out—yet you never looked to your corner begging with your eyes for your trainer to throw in the towel of defeat.

When I look at all of my failings, disappointments, heartbreaks, losses, and blowups, I can see how I would pick myself up and go through the necessary steps to rebuild. I can also see the times when I thought that a shortcut to healing and recovery would work better, and jeesh was I painfully wrong. I can reflect on the pain that I felt and still feel from loved ones passing away and knowing that I won’t see and hear them here and now as I did before. Selfishly I want them here.

All of those experiences have tested, strengthened, challenged, and refined me. All of those experiences made me wiser and more humble. And yes, all of those experiences combined have prepared me for the death called divorce and the rebirth that I’m experiencing post-divorce.

It’s the shedding of one layer for the growth of a newer and better layer. It’s going from the caterpillar stage to emerge as the amazing and graceful butterfly. It’s being less of who you were to be more of who you’re supposed to be. It’s opening yourself up to the possibility of loving and being loved by someone new and unfamiliar in a way that is pleasantly new and unfamiliar.

Divorce is not the end. Losing your job, car, and house is not the end. Those things and experiences are only pages or chapters in your life. They are not your everything. What will you do, see, and experience on the next page or in the next chapter?

Through God I am confident. Through God I love and am loved. Through God I forgive myself and forgive others. Through God I can let go and gain more than I ever imagined. Through God I have peace, joy, happiness, and comfort.

The opposite of all of that comes from choosing ego instead.

This Week…

I’ve been under a lot of stress over the past two months—tied to work and house-hunting. This week my anxiety flared up and reached a level that scared me. I had to meditate on being present and not focusing on the what-ifs of the future or the past. The unknowns of the future are irrelevant when you’re focused on the present, and you can’t change the past so obsessing over it is deflating and counterproductive.

That’s ego getting in the way. I have to learn to stiff-arm ego like a football or rugby player and slam it to the ground.

Today I’ve been presented with a test, an opportunity, to do exactly that—put my ego and pride to the side and instead focus on God’s plan for my success. Will it be uncomfortable at times? Yes, that’s why it’s called “growing pains”. Would I prefer the temporary discomfort over the long-term agony that comes from being ego-driven instead of God-led? I will take those growing pains so that I can be, see, and do what God has called me to be, see, and do.

Will I slip up and let pride step in from time to time? Yep, I’m sure that I will. It’s my go-to default switch when I’m being stupid.

What I pray for is God’s love to see me through, the discernment to know His voice above all others, and the courage to stand and quickly realign on His path.

Change Starts With You

We can counter our pride with humility. We can start by saying:

…I don’t know”

“...I have no clue what the answer is”

“I don’t know but I can try to search online for the answer or ask someone who may know…

“…I need help with _____”

“…That’s not my strength. I’m better at doing ____ but maybe I/we can find help through ____”

“…I’m sorry. I was wrong. I won’t do it again. How can I make things right?” (And then you work to make things right)

“…I’m sorry I was being selfish/childish/stupid…

“…You’re correct, I’m wrong…”

“…I can see your perspective and that it differs from mine, so how can we compromise?”

Do you see how making it less about you (ego) allows you to be whole, healthy, and complete with and through God?

Being flexible and fluid, like water, allows you to bend and consider more than your perspective—it allows you to discover that it’s not all about you, you don’t know as much as you think you do, you can’t do everything you set your mind to, and the world doesn’t revolve around you. And it’s perfectly fine that way. It should actually be liberating to no longer carry that baggage that you have been lugging like deadweight for decades. Let it go!

We have to decide if we want growth or stagnation. Do we want pleasure or pain? Do we want health or sickness? Do we want prosperity or suffering? Do we want to be right or do we want peace?

We are given the freedom of choice. Our decisions have lasting consequences. What will you choose to do today? Don’t concern yourself with tomorrow. What choice will you make today about how you will think, speak, live, treat yourself and others?

Lovingly,

Natasha

Copyright 2019. All Rights Reserved. Natasha L. Foreman.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc

I’m late posting this. I should’ve posted this moons ago, but I didn’t, so here we are today, 14 days later. Let’s just smile and accept it, and understand that this post is about to be long.

It was an honor and privilege to speak at Morehouse College on July 13, 2018 during the National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS) regional leadership retreat that was hosted by the Morehouse chapter.

As a volunteer advisory council member for the Morehouse NSLS chapter, I was asked about my interest and availability to allow the 100+ student leaders from various schools from around the country a moment to hear my thoughts and opinions about topics surrounding and embedded in leadership.

Wow, they want to actually peer inside of my brain? Are they sure about that? For an entire hour they want to let me loose upon a group of young and seasoned adults who don’t know a thing about me? Are they sure?

Yep, they were sure.

They also wanted to know if I would be interested in being a member of a panel discussion that delved into the topic and process of community engagement and the responsibilities and issues that leaders face when attempting to do good works.

The answer came easily for the panel discussion, “sure”, it’s a 30-minute panel, how much harm could I do? *Smile*

I had to think about the hour-long session. What would my topic be? What would I say? The NSLS hosting committee told me that the skies the limit, and when it comes to the broad conversation on leadership, the sky may not even be the limit—you may extend out toward the galaxy, with the mountain of content you can cover.

So I pondered.

What could I share from my head and my heart with the students that would also allow me to learn from them, at the same time learn more about myself?

That’s how I teach by the way.

As a college professor, my goal isn’t just to share my knowledge and wisdom; I’m thirsty for knowledge and some of the best sources are your students. Where else can you get a room full of people who are assembled for numerous reasons, not tied to an organizational or group goal, and get them to open up and share their thoughts and beliefs in a safe environment?

The classroom is a unique place to share and exchange ideas, experiences, solutions to problems, and more. While my students learn from me, I learn from them.

Each student has their own dynamic story, background, and experiences with success and failure. It’s impossible for educators, researchers and “experts” to know it all—only through hearing, seeing, and recording other people’s experiences can you gather data to begin ‘connecting the dots’.

So as I pondered for awhile about my Morehouse leadership session I considered: what do today’s leaders need to know that was most likely not taught to them throughout their childhood and even as adults?

I emailed the NSLS hosting committee three session topics that I was interested in expanding into full-blown discussions:

  • Fear and failure
  • Responsibility as ethical leaders
  • Your vision, values and how they impact your roles in life

I thought that they would simply choose one topic and then I could run with it. Not! No other speaker was speaking directly about any of these topics, so I could run with any of them. Ah man! Now I had to toss around which topic I was most passionate about.

I chose to blend all three topics into one discussion that I gave the title: “Do NOW What Will Define You Tomorrow“.

I had a super awesome time speaking with the group of men and women that assembled in the classroom that they assigned us to in the Massey Leadership building. I was shocked to see that we ran out of seats and some students chose to remain and stand along the wall to take part in this discussion.

They weren’t ready for me but wow, they were truly receptive to the experience. I’m already an animated speaker, add in a topic that I’m passionate about, and you better hold on tight because it’s going to be a ride that you may never forget. There’s no sleeping when I’m in the room. *Smile*

I try to be as transparent as possible when I speak to people about matters of the heart, and July 13th was no different. I gave them me and in return many of them shared some close, personal stories about themselves.

We discussed our hurts, angers, failures, fears, struggles, beliefs, views, and values. We even discussed the demons within that terrorize us and cause us to be agents of terror within our households, workplaces, schools, and communities.

The morning of the retreat I prepared notes to help guide me and keep me on track. I rarely do this when I speak publicly. I try to just speak from my gut and my heart. I drafted about 6 handwritten pages of notes (written large enough so I could see from a distance). Funny thing, I didn’t even use my notes during my session at Morehouse. But they were always there if I needed backup. I guess I can frame up my notes for a chapter in a future book [*mental note*].

Within one-hour our group went deep, fast, but never drowned in the details and peripheral nonsense that oftentimes blinds us and prevents genuine learning. There was no time for ‘fluff’. We had an hour so we had to jump right in. An hour is nothing when you’re passionately engaged, and before we knew it our time came to a close.

Several students remained after to speak with me. Two remained even longer and walked with me to the Bank of the America auditorium where I would join the panel of esteemed public and private sector leaders.

The panel discussion was awesome. Yep, that’s the word I choose to use to describe the energy, synergy, depth, breadth, and essence of the panelists and the candid conversation that we shared. I know that ‘awesome’ is one of my favorite words, but it doesn’t diminish the fact that the panel was simply that—awesome!

I joined on stage my friends Jerica Richardson [co-founder of HackOut.Ninja] and Cassius Butts [Founder & Chairman of Capital Fortitude Business Advisors; former Regional Administrator for US Small Business Administration (SBA)] along with three of our fellow NSLS Advisory Council members: Oneka Jefferson-Cornelius [Independent Organizational Change and Development Consultant], Robert J. Yancy, PhD [Professor Emeritus, Kennesaw State University], and last but definitely not least, the man “who feeds fish for a living”—Joseph J. Handy, the President and COO of Georgia Aquarium Inc.

During our discussion we shared our failures, mistakes, past experiences, glimpses into our upbringing, and raw truths that we knew weren’t shared with us during our collegiate years in undergrad. Once again, with limited time against us, we chose not to sugar coat the 30 minutes that we had. We poured ourselves out into the auditorium and crossed our fingers that the students would be receptive.

With this powerhouse lineup, we definitely needed more than 30 minutes to truly engage on a level that the students wanted and needed. This was obvious, based on the fact that students swarmed around us as soon as the discussion ended.

From L to R: Charles Knippen; Natasha L. Foreman; Cassius Butts; Lavonya Jones; Dr. Robert Yancy; Oneka Jefferson-Cornelius; Joseph Handy; Jerica Richardson

We stepped out of the auditorium briefly to take the picture that you see above. Let me put names to faces and faces to names to help those of you who maybe only recognize my face in the picture (well, hopefully you can pick me out of the group *Smile*).

Pictured from Left to Right: Charles Knippen, President of NSLS; Natasha L. Foreman (that’s me); Cassius Butts; Lavonya Jones [Morehouse College NSLS chapter advisor (and the reason that Morehouse has an NSLS chapter) and Program Manager for Student Development in the Business Development Department at Morehouse]; Dr. Robert Yancy; Oneka Jefferson-Cornelius; Joseph Handy; and Jerica Richardson.

After we cheesed for this photo we returned to the auditorium to be greeted by the smiling faces of students who were patiently waiting to speak with us. Thankfully, there was a reception afterwards and that allowed us the time and space to connect with the students individually and in clusters, as they asked and answered questions, and shared how this retreat has benefitted them so far.

Some of the students in my session remembered advice given to me by my doctor, to capture life’s moments through photos so that you can reflect on the past later in the future—so the students asked to take pictures with me. A student by the name of Alexandra (who just secured a job doing research on degenerative diseases so she can one day find the cure to Alzheimer’s-Dementia; a passion we share as both of our grandmothers passed away last December after long battles) asked to take a picture with me and you can check us out below:

July 13th was an empowering day. I thought I would be driving away from the campus at 8pm, at the latest, but I was still speaking to students until 9pm, and then chatting it up until 9:45pm with my friend and colleague, Jerica Richardson (also a member of the NSLS Advisory Council for Morehouse, and a speaker at the retreat).

After 6 hours of talking and standing in those high strappy heels, you would’ve thought I would be completely drained, but I wasn’t. I was pumped, excited and hopeful. The students had a day filled with empowering and inspiring words and messages from sessions on:

  • Building Communities
  • Levels of Engagement
  • Event Management
  • Stress Management
  • Getting the Most Out of College
  • Leadership, A Key Component of Entrepreneurship
  • Do NOW What Will Define You Tomorrow

My gut says that between Friday’s sessions and the following day’s sessions on: Public Speaking; Budgeting; Conflict Management; Team Management; Understanding Bias—along with their participation in community service projects at one of three different nearby sites (two urban farms or the on-campus food donation preparation site), the NSLS student leaders have definitely been equipped with additional tools and resources to be better leaders “who make a better world” as the NSLS motto states.

Hopefully I will be called on again in a similar capacity to exchange information, ideas, stories and experiences with NSLS student leaders. I enjoyed every second!

I would like to thank Lavonya Jones, Morehouse College, and NSLS for a great experience and for having the vision and courage to make this retreat and the college chapter possible.

Thanks to Fred Jones for your constant and unwavering support of your wife Lavonya, and for taking pictures and capturing video footage of the sessions (along with a long list of other tasks that you willingly handled before, during, and after the retreat).

A special thank you to the NSLS students who have contacted me via email and connected with me via social media and my blog. I look forward to tracking with you along these winding paths that await you!

Let’s sky dive!!!!

~Natasha

There’s a quote by an anonymous author that perfectly describes the relationship between fear and faith. It reads:

Fear knocked at the door. Faith answered. No one was there“.

When we walk by faith, fear has no place near us let alone in us.

It’s like the deadbeat loser who rings your doorbell and sees through the window Mr./Ms. Awesome walking towards the door to answer. Deadbeat loser isn’t going to wait and be confronted by awesomeness. Deadbeat loser doesn’t want to be further embarrassed by the lack he/she possesses, so they quickly run away from the front door and they dive into the nearby bushes to avoid detection. The deadbeat loser is no match for Mr./Ms. Awesome.

Since I was a small child I’ve been reciting the famous quote, “fear is false evidence appearing real” and in many instances I’m able to face my fears and walk through a situation. There are some instances that involve creepy crawly bugs where I haven’t yet walked with faith to stare down those fears. But I’m getting there [*smile*].

There are times in my professional world as well as in my personal life where I’ve allowed fear to conquer and enslave me. I’ve been running from some major fears for the past few years and now they have grown so large, and I’ve been running for so long, that I’m tired of running. I wasn’t made to be a punk. I wasn’t raised to be a punk. So why am I acting and living like one? Fear is a punk yet I’m allowing it to have dominion over me, how idiotic is that?

Yesterday, I finally made the decision to stop running and to instead turn around and walk towards my fears. I’ve decided to face each and every one of these fears that have been chasing me.

What’s the worst possible outcome of my challenge? I know for a fact that none of my fear bullies come with a death penalty, so maybe I get a few bumps and bruises, or I fall down and get injured—all that I need to do is get back up, brush myself off, and keep on swinging (translation: “fighting”). I have enough faith to believe that I can at least do that. I’m not sure if I will be victorious but I’m willing to fight anyway. “…Faith of a mustard seed…” isn’t that the minimum of what Jesus said we need?

Fear is like kryptonite, it’s present and part of the environment that we occupy but if not managed and properly handled, it can destroy you.

When we walk with faith in our heart and mind we have a reinforced armor of hope, courage, and confidence. Fear can’t handle faith. Fear can’t penetrate that armor. The only way that fear can conquer us is if we take off the armor or never wear it.

So rather than continuing to run from our fears, why don’t we put on our armor and walk towards our fears! That my friends, was a statement not a question. Consider taking at least one step today and see if you can get a reaction from the deadbeat loser who’s standing at your door.

Have a super awesome day!

~Natasha

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

Earlier this morning I wrote a post for my Breaking Bread With Natasha site. The message hit me so beautifully hard that I felt compelled to share excerpts from it here with all of you, as the message applies to all of our life struggles.

Please take the time to read this pointed part of the message below. I hope that it helps someone as it has definitely helped me today:

When I selected today’s scripture I decided to include a visual, and of the images that I found the waterfall was the most moving in my opinion. Why? Because imagine being on a lazy river or even one with rapids, what you can see around you and ahead begins to compute in your mind your confidence to handle these things.

It’s the waterfall that we don’t plan for.

We haven’t a clue where it is, how steep it is, what’s at the bottom, and if we can survive the fall.

That is life.

My life for many years was a river, sometimes a smooth ride and then there were moments of roaring rapids. Then in 2017 I found myself approaching a waterfall. I didn’t plan for the waterfall. I didn’t see how close it was until I was already nearing the edge.

That waterfall was my divorce.

No matter how hard I tried to swim in the opposite direction or swim to the banks of the river, the powerful water dragged me to that waterfall—and over the edge I tumbled.

I didn’t know how steep the fall would be, what was at the bottom of the fall, if the water was shallow or deep, or if I would survive the entry into this pool below. I had a piece of debris that I clung to as I tried to keep my head above water. My eyes grew bigger and bigger as I approached the waterfall. I was so focused on my ability or inability to swim, but quickly I had to remind myself that it’s less about me and more about God.

I had to put my confidence in God because I know that although I’m a decent swimmer, I’m only capable of doing what I do because of Him, and I can only get better through and by Him. I also know that when I panic my only thought is how to get to safety and out of the water, and I’m sure that in my panic I make the process more difficult because I’m focused on self, not on God.

God brings calm. He brings clarity. He brings strength and determination. God makes a way out of no way.

I went over the edge of the waterfall and although fearful I’m confident that God will always protect me. I’m confident that all of the bumps and bruises in life can and will be healed by God. I’m confident that He has greatness waiting for me and all I have to do is remain connected and faithful.

It’s important to try and ignore the temptations that lure us from God. But understand and believe that God’s Hands are still upon you and can save you from those temptations—He will show you a way out. It is always our choice to take the way out or remain in the snare.

So as you journey on your river are you solely relying upon your abilities and self-confidence, or are you secure with God-confidence (or as my friend Marshawn Daniels calls it, “Godfidence“)?

You will know for sure when you approach the waterfall.

~Natasha

Copyright 2018. Natasha Foreman Bryant. All Rights Reserved.

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

“Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day”

~Jim Rohn

We all have good and bad habits. I’ve shared with you about my procrastination issue that I’m working to minimize. But I also have some good habits that have been beneficial in my career as an entrepreneur and college professor. I like to look at successful people and study their habits and routines, to see what I can implement in my own life.

As I’ve said countless times, the most successful people aren’t afraid of failure, it’s inevitable. They are afraid of giving up and never trying again. There’s absolutely no progress when you stop trying. You don’t know what “could have been” if you give up. That is death in so many ways.

When you think of the best athletes and musicians around the world what do they all have in common? They keep practicing their disciplines, routines, techniques, and movements, over and over and over again until it becomes like muscle memory. Their practice becomes their habit and every time their efforts have a positive result, they have reached the pinnacle of success. Then they go back and try it again. What’s interesting is that many of these same habits have an imprint in more areas of their life than just their professional lives. They learn to apply them elsewhere because success oftentimes breeds more success. What works one place has a higher probability (with the right conditions) to work elsewhere.

Think of your past and present successes.

What are some of the habits that you have that helped you become successful in those areas and instances? Where can you “tweak” some things to make you stronger in weaker areas? When you think of other successful people, what habits do they possess that you would like to replicate and begin applying in your own life?

Make a list and then set out to replicating and implementing these good habits in your daily “walk” professionally and personally. I would love to hear back from you in the upcoming weeks and months about any positive changes that you have witnessed.

~Natasha

Copyright 2017. All Rights Reserved.

My friend Sean has shared his thoughts about the Trayvon Martin travesty, and the issues and drama that has popped up over the weeks. Please tune in and share your thoughts.

Sean’s Thought:

The Trayvon Martin case has reminded me of one undeniable thing. We are all blind sheep. I grew up with friends shot and killed in gang violence. I saw young girls prostituted on the streets and beat up by pimps and johns. I watched police canvass the neighborhood for clues only to have no one speak up. Yet, when it is a black vs white thing the nation is in an uproar. The media and those with a hidden agenda are playing us like fools and we are simply smiling and saying “Thank You”. I don’t know if Trayvon was a menace, a gang banger or a threat all I know is a man killed him and that needs to be properly investigated. I don’t know if the man is a racist, a bigot or even a tax evader all I know is he chose the role of neighborhood “protector” and in that he has repercussions like any of us that are sworn to protect. He chose to shoot like he was a police officer and thus he must be accountable like one if it was unjustified.

All that being said, I want to know how many of the people “reposting” this divisive issue has also been speaking out against the filth in their own neighborhoods? How many would lie and protect a relative who committed murder of an innocent person? How many times have we looked the other way when it was a black on black, white on white, Hispanic on Hispanic or similar crime? Am I the only one that finds it remarkably sad that the only time we get in an uproar is when we can place a “Racism” tag on it? How many Muslims and Arabs have been beat and killed in this country since 911? Where is the uproar?

Copyright 2012.

Children are huge dreamers before adults destroy their imaginative spirits and tell them to start thinking smaller, to start being “realistic”. The huge dreams of a child is exactly where God wants us to be. There is no fear connected with dreaming big and setting goals to attain what we desire. There is fear in thinking small. The most successful people in the world open their minds to what most people would consider the impossible, the inconceivable, and the insane.

Think of President Barack Obama, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg, Mary Kay Ash, Bob Johnson and others who had big dreams and didn’t stop thinking, pushing, and working even after those dreams materialized. Even after they passed away, King, Jobs, and Ash’s legacies continue to live on through the work they started…their passion serves as the fuel for their mission. Their brand continues to grow.

We must realize that our actions and lack thereof impact us and others for generations. The native Americans have a saying that every decision we make today impacts seven generations of the future. So consider the decisions you make each day. Make sound decisions but don’t limit yourself in fear. Allow yourself to dream big and have the intense imagination that you did as a child. Free yourself!

Picture by SoggyPigeon at soggypigeon.deviantart.com

Copyright 2012. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved. 
Excerpts of this thought were first drafted for Breaking Bread with Natasha on WordPress and Blogspot.
Artwork source: soggypigeon.deviantart.com

I learn the lesson and move forward, not dwelling on what once was because I’m too focused on what I’m doing now and how it can impact my future. I’m not concerned with those I once encountered who I walked away from because if they were meant to be in my life today God would have kept them by my side…I am not concerned with what once was or if something could have been differently; the woulda, coulda, shoulda is for people who will always be less than where they need to be in life. I am also in no hurry to get to my future for I am still amazed by what is taking place today, the present, and the gifts that I receive daily by just being receptive and accountable. I strive to lead, live and make decisions in and through excellence not fear, doubt, or insecurity. Those who don’t see things that way usually don’t last walking next to me on this path. I lovingly allow them to stay behind or sprint ahead, because I’m on a long-distance mission of greatness that can’t be rushed or held behind.”

– Natasha L. Foreman, MBA

(a portion of this quote is an excerpt from her 12.15.11 “Breaking Bread With Natasha” posts. Check them out here: WordPress and Blogger)
Copyright 2011. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

A coward is a hilarious yet pitiful sight to see and experience. A coward hides behind aliases, anonymity, avatars, masks, lies, and other people. A coward yells loudly behind mommy’s dress and daddy’s coat, but never stands out and speaks up for the world to see. A coward spits venom like a serpent but is too scared to face those they attack. A coward has little to no self-esteem, self-worth, dignity, or grace, so lacking a spine they sneak around trying to drag others to their level. A coward will hide behind a title but never live up to it. A coward is never dependable, reliable, or consistent…except in their cowardice. They simply exist, but never live, and even in their existence they don’t leave much of an impression.

I’m not too sure if I should feel sorry for the cowards of the world, sympathy, or nothing at all. They are a sad group of people. They can never stand on their own, they can never fight their own battles, they can never truly lead, they always make excuses for their inadequacies, and blame others for their shortcomings. Cowards are always the victim, always the damsel in distress, always the ones needing saving, always the ones complaining about what’s wrong and why they can’t do something. The words, ‘can’t’ and ‘impossible’ begin and end their sentences, and sometimes their days.

Cowards live for revenge, wanting to pay back those who hurt them, but they don’t have the courage to actually face this person head on. Cowards like to pick fights, but never stick around for combat, or they find a way for others to join the fight so their weaknesses are never revealed. They are the ones who spread rumors and cause drama, but in a sneaky, cleaver kind of way–that always make them look innocent. They pretend to be someone they aren’t because they don’t have the courage to be who they were created to be. They are weak-minded, weak physically, weak morally, and weak spiritually. They live in constant darkness; for only in light can one find true strength. It’s no wonder why cowards always prefer playing devil’s advocate, because for them it is too great a mountain to climb reaching up towards hope, possibility, and excellence, when they can use less effort kneeling down towards mediocrity.

I have encountered many cowards in my time, some as recently as today, and I am amazed at how much time they have on their hands to focus their energy on doing absolutely nothing of relevance in our world–except in their minds. It is pitiful that these insecure people spend so many hours of their day thinking about me, plotting and planning against me, and envious of what I have that they wish they had. We all have had our run-ins with cowards like this. See, cowards have plenty of time and energy to spread lies and hate, try to destroy other people’s reputations, families and businesses,  yet they don’t invest the time and energy to bring goodness and love into our world. They don’t have the time and energy to make a positive contribution to society, yet they can waste all of their resources trying to drain someone else and destroy their dreams. They don’t have the time and energy to build, create, innovate, inspire, embrace, uplift, and shine. Yet they have the time and energy to tear things apart, destroy, manipulate, deceive, and play childish games. They have time to send stupid messages and make phone calls to others hoping to make them feel as miserable as they do; post idiotic things on the Internet for even the tiniest bit of attention; make claims without supporting evidence; and just take up much-needed space in the world. They eventually leave this world as they entered it and lived it…clueless!

I have more respect for the person who tries and fails, than the one who never tries. I have more respect for the person with bumps, bruises, cuts and burns from falling down in life, because in their walk I see that they found a way to get back up. I have more respect for the person who comes to me directly, without masks, anonymity and code names, and just speaks their mind. I have more respect for the person who comes right out and confronts me with the goal to fight, than sucker-punch me in the dark. I have no respect for a person who isn’t brave enough to stand up and speak their mind. I say what I want to say, and clearly say my name when I’m speaking. I don’t post to my blogs or anywhere else as “anonymous” or with some made up alias, or using a picture not mine, because I have the courage to speak up, speak out, and back up what I say. My parents didn’t raise a punk, so I don’t cower over like one. I’m no bully and I won’t be bullied–never have and never will!

So I have one last thing to say to the cowards of the world…you can say what you want and do what you want, because just like your anonymity, you really don’t exist!

 

Copyright 2011. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved. First Published on The Paradigm Life