Okay so picking up on where we left off on this cross-country road trip from Georgia to California, I left Georgia listening to my Sirius XM channel 50, and I was doing great on time. I was hitting my miles and reaching my state targets right on time. I kept my weather app accessible and I ensured I had written directions, in case I hit a dead zone with my cell phone. I was glad that I waited to leave Atlanta at 7:30am because Alabama did have some high winds and I wouldn’t have been able to see debris on the roads and highways in the darkness.

I hit Birmingham right on time, snapped a photo of the rain hitting my windshield in Winfield, the highway signs below the dark clouds in Tupelo, and it was soon after that photo that one of my jams came cranking through my car speakers. It’s interesting how many cities and towns throughout the US are named after Biblical places, such as Corinth.

About an hour later I was in Byhalia, never heard of it, but I knew that keeping straight was leading me to Memphis.

Memphis

I thought that I would stop and have lunch at a restaurant on Beale Street. So I hopped off the highway and cruised over to Beale Street. I snapped some photos because you never know what changes can take place in a short period of time. What I didn’t factor into this great detour idea of mine, was the yucky weather and having to park my car and walk in the rain, in pursuit of some yummy food that this newly-converted vegetarian would have to track down. It was just too much going on so I scrapped the idea and convinced myself to grab something in Arkansas. So I hopped back on the highway. drove over the Mississippi River and crossed into Arkansas. I knew that I had 123 miles to get to Little Rock.

Arkansas

I’m really not sure what I thought I was going to find in Arkansas. What are they known for, food-wise? Heck if I know, and guess what? Once you leave Memphis, the next McDonald’s isn’t along that route for another whopping 25+ miles. I knew I wasn’t going to stop at Subway and soon I realized I done messed up now. But I kept driving and kept singing with channel 50. I arrived in Forrest City and saw the Mc D’s on N. Washington Street, across the street from the gas station I had eyeballed.

What in the world??? That’s all I can really say. They didn’t even put a full slice of cheese on my sandwich. I mean it’s not like they had to rush or anything. There was only one car in front of me when I pulled up and no cars behind me when I ordered, paid at the first window, and collected my food at the second window. It was 3:30 pm local time and my sandwich said to me, “Howdy, I’ve been waiting for you!” because that is exactly what it tasted like. My fries were okay. I decided to do something I rarely do, I completed one of their online surveys, explaining my disappointment.

After leaving there and filling up my tank, sticking to my routine of not letting the gas level drop below half a tank, I got back on the highway. I noticed that I lost some time with my shenanigans. Now it was no longer saying that I would arrive in Oklahoma City by 8pm local time. The clock was inching up and now saying 10pm. Yikes, how in the world did I lose two hours? I hadn’t been sitting there for that long. Uugh, the Beale Street loop-da-loop coupled with this stop, and it factored in something I didn’t see coming.

Traffic Jam Parking Lot

Thank goodness for my Waze app for alerting me to a major traffic jam on I-40. I guess there was construction and looky-loos, and a bunch of fools on the highway, because the re-route that Waze provided was roughly 12 miles long. It wasn’t a quick re-route, but thankfully it took me through a really beautiful community in Arkansas. I was too busy chatting it up on the phone with my aunt Valerie to remember to take some photos, or note my location. Just know that it was the perfect detour. At first it had me and my aunt nervous, thinking that I was about to take a scenic drive through no-man’s land. If I hadn’t paid attention to the detour alert I would have been stuck in that traffic jam (that looked like a parking lot on Black Friday) for a long time. It was over 10 miles deep according to the alerts on Waze. I felt sorry for anyone stuck in the middle and running low on fuel or in need of a restroom.

Crazy Weather

The weather in Arkansas had gotten rough at times, the winds were intense, and anyone who has driven a high profile vehicle, you know the more exposed surface you have the more you’re risking with crosswinds, etc. Those little cars were just zooming by and I knew why. They have a lower center of gravity and a smaller surface area. I was watching huge trucks, big rigs and other high profile vehicles swaying and drifting across lanes, and that meant I was going to have to slow myself down big time to keep a safe distance from them. When the sun set things really started to get intense and I found myself dropping my speed down to 40 mph in some areas.

Ft. Smith

After passing Little Rock Arkansas I had 313 miles to Ft. Smith. I knew that the closer I got to Ft. Smith that I was closer to Oklahoma City, because Ft. Smith is near the border of Arkansas and Oklahoma.

Oklahoma

I started driving past highway exits with names I recognized, and when I saw the Indian Nation Turnpike, I knew that I was near the towns my maternal grandparents were born and raised. I knew I only had 1.5 hours to get to my aunt’s house. You would think that once I reached that point that it would be smooth sailing into Oklahoma City. But it wasn’t. It was dark. I mean real dark. And the wind and rain decided to play tag with me. All while I’m navigating the construction zones that they don’t ever seem done improving. It started feeling like I was in an old school pinball machine, just zigging left and right, on pavement then off, with the blinding headlights of vehicles and big rigs zooming by on the other side of the highway.

It also didn’t help that I got on the phone with my maternal grand aunt, Mary, and told her that although I planned to surprise her that day, I was now four hours behind my initial planned arrival time. It would be too late to swing by her house and even if I did, I knew I wouldn’t have enough energy to then backtrack to my aunt Valerie’s house. It wasn’t telling aunt Mary this that made this final stretch of the trip difficult. It was the fact that my aunt Mary has one of the most soothing voices I’ve ever heard, and after an hour of chatting with her on the phone, I found myself getting too relaxed and I thought I would fall asleep. I had to tell my beloved aunt that I had to get off of the phone. As soon as I did, I cranked up the music and told my body to get it together. I pulled up to my aunt Valerie’s at 11:55pm.

Day 2

The next day I had a companion. My maternal uncle, Michael. Yep, he was riding with me the rest of the way to California and was down for whatever. So after a stop at Dunkin Donuts and then the gas station to refuel, we hit I-40 heading for Amarillo, Texas. I no longer eat steak, but I had to snap a photo of “The Big Texan Steak Ranch” that had a full parking lot at almost 3pm. My uncle Michael drove and I rode shotgun.

New Mexico

We crossed the Texas-New Mexico border, entering Hereford. Did you know that New Mexico is called the “Land of Enchantment”? I know one thing, it’s a heck of a drive, because you’re going across the entire width of the state. That’s what zapped me when driving through Arkansas. It’s different when you’re clipping parts of state. Cutting straight across or down, depending on the side of the state, can feel brutal. Once you enter New Mexico it’s 529 miles of desert. 

After my uncle had made it a “good ways” into Albuquerque, I convinced him that I knew how to drive, and that he could pull off and switch places. He had driven all day and I wanted to ensure he wasn’t taking his road warrior status too far. He clearly still saw me as a young teenager, because not only did he pass up several nearby gas stations and parking lots to pull over, he drove one mile off the highway, and turned into the parking lot of a mall, then positioned my SUV so that it was pointing in the direction of the highway, and then proceeded to tell me how to leave the parking lot. Like we were out there doing a behind-the-wheel driving session. I had to remind him that I had been driving for decades. Hilarious!

Arizona

Once entering Arizona I knew I had 348 miles before I would reach the exit that I needed to head to our hotel at the Grand Canyon. In your mind, you see the signs and you tell yourself, “I will be there soon” but boy howdy, if you have never driven to the Grand Canyon, let me tell you, oooh wee, do it during the daytime because at night it was cuh-razy!

I took SR-64 drove 28 miles then another 22 miles on US-180. Ummm yeah, so several miles before reaching the Grand Canyon village, you forget that you’re out there with some real animals, I mean like more than snakes and coyotes. We drove by something that was grazing by the roadside. At first my uncle said it was a moose and then he was like, wait that couldn’t have been a moose. Then it was like one minute later and why did we see a huge elk? I mean huge. I mean, it was so huge that if it had changed it’s mind about hopping up the side of the embankment, and instead decided to turn around and charge at my SUV for being a nuisance, it could have knocked us clear off the road. It’s antlers looked to be as wide as the front of my car. And before you ask, heck no we didn’t stop to take a photo. I will say, the elk in Arizona are eating well and living good.

We pulled up to our hotel at 11:55pm beating the 12am cut-off which would have been a late check-in headache of sorts. Not sure what exactly, I’m just glad that I didn’t have to deal with it. I’m also glad that they honored my uncle’s Veteran status and gave us a discounted rate. Hey now!

Tomorrow I will share photos from the Grand Canyon, and then my reflection of the final leg of this three-day trip.

~Natasha

Copyright 2021. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

It’s been too long since I last had something to say, something to share with all of you. Sure, I post to social media, but it’s not the same as engaging with you through this blog. I apologize for my lack of presence. This year has been troubling, scary, rocky, and at times extremely chaotic for me. I have been split between two coasts since March of this year.

I won’t divulge my personal situation and drama here, just know that I haven’t been missing because I lost my zest for blogging. If you follow my Breaking Bread With Natasha blog, you already know that Monday through Friday you can find a post from me. That blog has helped me through my spiritual battles along this rugged path. I haven’t resumed hosting my Don’t Call It Small…Business podcast, as I had intended to do this past summer. But thanks to God, giving Him credit for what I’m about to do, I have found the time and space to get back on this saddle and return to regularly blogging and podcasting each week.

So what does all of this have to do with the title of today’s message? Well, let me share…

Last month was my birthday month. Woot woot! Yeah, I didn’t do anything big and fancy, but I did enjoy myself. I flew from California to Atlanta, two days before my birthday. I could only be in Atlanta until Wednesday evening, because I needed to ensure I was back in California by Saturday to celebrate my nephew’s birthday and my favorite holiday, Halloween. I keep my promises and nothing was going to keep me from getting back in time.

The travel to Atlanta wasn’t that bad. I met some pretty interesting people on both flights. On my first leg, I met a gentleman from Scotland, who I told we’re probably related, only because I have Scottish and Irish heritage. We chatted a bit before we both settled into our in-flight routines. Before getting off the plane we exchanged contact information. I’m hoping he will give me some historical and archival insights to better assist me with my genealogical journey. I had a quick layover in Houston and then hopped on my final leg to Atlanta. On that flight I sat next to two women, one a student who graduated from the University of Southern California, and is pursuing her Master’s degree at Emory University (which I excitedly shared that I taught there in 2014) and the other woman was in marketing, from the looks of her work deliverables she was cranking through.

At the end of the flight, the Emory student said that she was inspired sitting between two professional Black women, doing their thing, working passionately. That touched my heart. I wished her the best and I silently said a prayer for her. She is still trying to determine if she wants to pursue her MD or PhD, and I hope that whichever path she chooses, that she is positioned to give fully and passionately to help others.

I landed in Atlanta late that evening, wondering why I didn’t take the earlier non-stop flight, but then reminding myself of the people I met and connected with that day. I spent the next day running errands and stopping by to see a few friends, having lunch with two of my buddies who treated me to one of my favs, IHOP, and I had a quick catch-up session with another. Sadly, I had to reschedule with one of my friends because my day slipped by and we were playing tag-you’re-it.

Day three was my birthday and I won’t lie, it did not go as planned. Like nothing, absolutely nothing went as I had planned. I know what I had written down on my list and my well-mapped out plan, but Murphy’s Law decided to make a believer out of me in a real way. A friend of mine had gone with me to take my SUV to a mechanic and I was told that I needed a new tire for the front passenger side. See, I had a road trip planned for the next day, and I needed to ensure that my SUV was ready for the long ride. I rushed to get my tire replaced and found that some locations didn’t have mine in stock. I had a lunch scheduled with one of my friends and I had promised a friend (the one who followed me to the mechanic) that I would drop them off at the airport, because they were heading overseas for a month. Now this tire situation was causing issues. I had to cancel lunch and then was absolutely heartbroken to find out that I wasn’t just cancelling on my dear friend, but on three dear friends. Yep, she was surprising me with two other friends who were eager to see me.

My birthday was really sucking. Like, seriously.

I started reaching out to friends to see if anyone had connections with tire places, as my mind was all over the place. When you leave home for several months it’s definitely weird when you return, so much is familiar, yet much more leaves you dazed and confused. It didn’t take long to receive a return call telling me to head to Decatur and get there no later than 3:45pm to get my tire. Thank God for great friends. After dropping off one friend at the airport I rushed to Decatur and there I was planted for almost three hours. I was a walk-in so I knew the wait was inevitable. I was okay with that. But unfortunately, that meant cancelling meet-ups with one, two, three, and then four friends. It also meant cancelling swinging by the after school program I used to work for, as I really wanted to see my team members and the kiddies. But there just wasn’t enough time in my day.

It was 5:15pm and I was already exhausted, but determined!

Here’s a picture that I sent in my group text to my three gal pals, as I waited for my tire to be swapped out. I told them I was tired and a picture rarely lies!

One of the many things I love about one of my friends is their ability to find workarounds to situations. Since our original meet-up didn’t pan out, they drove to the tire center to meet me. That was the same friend that connected me with the tire center. What was their birthday gift to me? The new tire. Yes indeed. I was so happy. You can have the fancy, I will drive past you with my new tire, thank you very much! Standing outside we pondered how long it had been since we had seen each other, and were shocked that it had been some time early last year. I started thinking about my other friends, and this was the truth for many of them. Some of my friends I hadn’t seen in person since 2019, because this pandemic put a stop to the in-person connection at the start of 2020. That made cancelling on them suck even worse.

After my tire was swapped out I rushed into Atlanta to visit the mother of one of my friends. She and I had spoken by phone from time to time, but we hadn’t seen each other since February. I’ve grown extremely close to her over the years and we adopted each other, in a sense. She’s like another mother. I was determined that I would see and hug her, so I made it happen. There’s something super special about mothers, wouldn’t you agree?

After leaving her house with a bag filled with pastries (because she wasn’t going to let me not have cake for my birthday) I floored it to southwest Atlanta, rushing into the home of my friend and hairstylist, where she had dinner waiting and ready. We laughed and gossiped (ssssh don’t tell anyone) as I scarfed down my food. I couldn’t stay long because I had an online class to teach at 9pm and I couldn’t be late. Well needless to say, I was about five minutes late because she also surprised me with a birthday brownie and ice cream. It’s a tad bit difficult to scarf that down, but my students were more than accommodating because they knew it was my birthday. Class wrapped up at 10pm and I won’t lie, I was exhausted. I gave them my all. I poured every ounce of energy I had left into that class period. I was super hyped and they thanked me repeatedly for loving them enough to leave it all on the mat, as the saying goes. But I couldn’t afford to go straight to sleep after class, because I wasn’t done packing.

See, I had convinced myself to stick to my initial plan to hit the highway no later than 4:30am the next morning. I thought that if I left out at 4:30am I would arrive in Memphis in time for breakfast, relax and chill for a bit, and then get back on the highway. But as I just stated, I still hadn’t finished sorting and packing for the trip. The night before I had created my pack, donate, trash, storage piles, and because of the tire fiasco, it took longer than I anticipated to complete this task. That’s probably because I didn’t originally plan to be as aggressive with the sorting as I found myself being a few hours in to the process, the night before. I actually did more than what I imagined and I’m grateful that I did. I know that when I do return to Atlanta I will be in a better position to pack up and move to wherever, with little to no time—I just need to grab and load, and then go. All of my furniture and other items are waiting for me in storage. Oh yeah that is a long story I won’t be sharing anytime soon. Maybe in a future post or even in a book. Maybe.

So what time do you think I finally climbed into bed, knowing I needed to be on the road at 4:30am?

If you said around 2:30am, you’re right. I made some adjustments in my thinking. I looked at the weather reports again and noticed that Alabama was going to be clobbered by stupid weather and both Alabama and Georgia were having later sunrises, like after 7:30am. My common sense kicked in and I made the decision that it wasn’t wise to drive in the dark, with high winds, and rain. Yep, it was scheduled to rain, which I already knew, but what I hadn’t planned for was the 40-plus miles per hour winds that were zooming through Alabama. I also decided that it would not be cool to start this road trip with soaking clothes, so instead of waiting until I was leaving out to load the car, I made the decision to do everything then and there.

I hauled all of the trash bags outside, packed my SUV, and then hopped in the shower, bypassing my original plan to relax in a tub filled with hot water and this cool muscle soak I bought days earlier. I need to have a long talk with Murphy, because this fool has a habit of ruining plans. Since my plans to drop off my donation bags were derailed, I labeled the bags, and left them for my friend to drop off for me when they return from their trip later this month. My “welcome home” gift to them. Not really, but that’s what I’m going to say when they ask me about those two huge black trash bags in their guest room. I’m giggling now just thinking about that future conversation.

Okay, so back to this trip. I caught a few zzz’s and after sending out my massive text messages to friends and family (and a link for my family to track me), I was on the road at 7:30am, chatting on the phone with one of the friends that I couldn’t squeeze a visit in with the day before. I stopped by Dunkin Donuts and then refueled at a gas station, and after that it was just my Sirius XM rolling with me. If you’re wondering if I was driving by myself, I will tell you what I told friends and family that asked the same question: No, I had “God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit rolling with me. Jesus said he was gonna rest at the half-way point of our journey, so I would pick up my maternal uncle, Michael, to ride with me the rest of the way”. This, my friends, was the start of my first cross-country road trip all by myself. Well, at least the first five states were all by myself. I’ve driven plenty of times on long road trips, but never alone.

There I was, leaving Atlanta, my SUV packed with snacks, bottled water, tire kit, beat-you-down flashlight (one of those huge ones), two cans of wasp spray (just in case pepper spray and mace were illegal in some states), written directions in case my GPS went on the blitz, and just enough clothing and supplies to make my current stay comfortable. Thanks to my aunt Debbie, I renewed my AAA. I had totally forgotten that I hadn’t renewed in forever. Thanks Debbie for that. Whew!

Next week, I will share more about this amazing road trip and even share some photos. If you’re wondering which Sirius XM channel I was jamming to, it was channel 50, “The Groove”. Yes indeed, the best of 70s and 80s R&B music. It was like a nonstop concert and I loved every minute of it. I even have a video or two to share with you of me lip-syncing some songs. I cracked myself up. Be prepared to laugh with me folks. Chat soon!

~Natasha

Copyright 2021. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

By Natasha L. Foreman

The Younger Women’s Task Force Atlanta Metro Chapter is pleased to announce that Georgia’s Governor Nathan Deal has signed has signed the House Bills HB200 and HB503 into law today at 1:45pm.

Governor Deal signed the two bills advocated by the Women’s Caucus at My Sister’s House, an Atlanta facility that offers overnight shelter and residential discipleship programs for homeless women and women with children. The Governor said that, “Human trafficking is a repugnant crime that is growing like a cancer in our society. Signing this bill into law, I join my fellow Georgians in declaring moral outrage and vowing to fight human trafficking here in our state. These criminals rob their victims of freedom and human dignity, and they destroy lives. With this bill now a law, we will find these criminals and we will punish them harshly.”

HB 200 addresses human trafficking which:

1. Strengthens the punishment against traffickers by increasing the minimum imprisonment for any person who commits the offense of trafficking a person for labor or sexual servitude and subjects the convicted to a fine.

2. Increases the punishment for any person who commits the offense of trafficking a person for labor or sexual servitude against a person who is under the age of 18 years

3. Protects those that fall victim to predators whom act on their state of desperation by providing that a person shall NOT be guilty of a sexual crime if the conduct upon which the alleged criminal liability is based was committed under coercion or deception while the accused was being trafficked for sexual servitude

HB 503 provides for:

1. The Georgia Crime Victims Emergency Fund to cover the costs of medical exams of alleged victims of rape

2. Ensures that victims will have these exams paid for and that the responsibility will not fall on local law enforcement that have budget constraints

Our Younger Women’s Task Force Atlanta Chapter Director, Terica Scott was on hand to witness this amazing moment and she served as our on-site photographer for the day.

Terica had this to say about this great day, “we are pleased to see this legislation signed by the governor today. It symbolizes a great victory for girls and women in Georgia. The Younger Women’s Task Force Atlanta Chapter supports and stands 100 percent behind this bill becoming law. HB200 will help protect younger women from pain and suffering due to the cruelty by human traffickers.”


This vital legislation was a collaborative effort between concerned legislators, the Attorney General’s office, prosecutors, state and local law enforcement agencies, social service organizations, and religious groups from across the state.


The Younger Women’s Task Force Atlanta Chapter is honored to have witnessed and taken part in today’s signing. We look forward to anti-human trafficking bills being signed into law in every state in the U.S. and becoming federal law.

Click on the link below to send the Governor your warmest thanks: http://gov.georgia.gov/00/gov/contact_us/0,2657,165937316_166563415,00.html

Thank you Governor Deal!

Copyright 2011. Younger Women’s Task Force Atlanta Chapter.
Natasha L. Foreman

By Natasha L. Foreman

Two days ago the southern region of the U.S. was tossed, turned, and in some places flattened by tornadoes that destroyed property, took innocent lives, disturbed the livelihood of thousands, and caused sleepless nights for so many. As people try to breathe and take in how to rebuild from this catastrophe one thing that Americans and the rest of the world can say is that we will rebuild as we always do.


Ironically, with turmoil on our homeland thousands and possibly millions of people tuned in to their television early this morning (while I slept) to watch a couple, several thousand miles away, Prince William and his bride Kate get married in a stunning and breathtaking wedding that gave chills to anyone who watched his father and mother wed in the 1980s. I saw the wedding this afternoon as it was re-broadcasted (as I knew it would).

I share this wedding today not to overshadow the devastation in the southern states of the U.S. but to share what my dear friend John Hope Bryant always says, “rainbows follow storms…you can’t have a rainbow without first having a storm…” and with that I say to those in the south who are shaken, rattled, fearful, and in pain- know that your rainbow will come. Today Prince William has a rainbow over him and his new wife; a kiss from his mother reminding him that she is and always will be with him, his wife, his brother, and his future children.

William and his brother Henry were devastated when their mother’s life was cut short at such a youthful age in an awful car crash. In her memory, her honor, and through her legacy these young men have pushed through life (sometimes stumbling) trying their best to give to all in need, to stand as representatives of their mother and make her proud that she raised them well, and to show that even in a catastrophe we can survive and rebuild.


We wonder what the amazement is with the royal family and I now see it clearly, even though we have become so modernized and focused on innovation and technology, we still are rooted in old world traditions- we still come from a time and place where family means everything and where lineage and legacy is of great importance; where taking care of and having respect for your family name is a priority- and we silently yearn for reclamation of this tradition in our own country.

We yearn for this in a land where grandmothers are as young as 28 (and their children are unwed), where fathers are absent from the home, where mothers aren’t sure who the fathers are, and where “sexy” is wearing the least amount of clothes, dancing the “freakiest”, and having the “flyest ride”- instead of having the best grades in school, getting academic scholarships, and having respectable and legal careers.


We live in a land where children as young as 10 think they are “sexy”, girls call themselves “Barbie”, guys claim their “pimps” and want to “make it rain”, where gangs and drug dealers run rampant killing generations of all nationalities; where the elderly are cast away in nursing homes and rarely visited, and where our children are doped up on drugs for attention deficit and hyperactivity instead of raised, nurtured and counseled properly. We live in a land where we’re more concerned with what we are against instead of standing together in what we are for. Instead of coming together to rebuild, we remain divided playing the blame game.

In many ways the royal family represents what once was, not so long ago, so the world clings to them and their image as a sign of hope.


So I say again, even though the loss of life is the greatest from a single day of tornadoes in the U.S. since April 1974 we can and we will rebuild. We can and we will honor the memories of those who passed away a few days ago. We can and we will rejoice, persevere, survive, and strive in every aspect of our lives. Let us take this time to bring our extended family of neighbors together as we pick up the pieces and start anew.

Photo Credits:
Pictures of Prince William and Kate wedding: Natasha L. Foreman as taken of rebroadcast by PBS-WETA

Car and rubble in Tuscaloosa, Alabama: Amanda Sowards, Montgomery Advertiser, via AP

Birds-eye view of devastation at Rosedale Court housing community in Tuscaloosa, Alabama: Dusty Compton, The Tuscaloosa News, via AP

Teen mom: blog4parents.com

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