I just read articles about the latest known updates on the COVID-19 CoronaVirus. The media reports what government officials and agencies give freely or leak back-door. So we have to know that what’s being reported isn’t everything. It’s not the whole truth. Not even half of the truth.

It’s the tip of the iceberg.

It’s the drizzle before the hurricane, the eeriness before the tornado, the tremor before the quake, the few crumbling rocks before the eruption or landslide.

Do you get my drift yet?

It’s Way Bigger

Don’t believe for one second that the CoronaVirus is just like a cold, and don’t believe the numbers of reported cases. It’s MUCH BIGGER than is being reported.

Governments just don’t want to create mass hysteria.

Do you remember how everyone acted when they thought all technology would crash January 1, 2000? Almost everyone was in panic about Y2K! Do you remember how stores were gutted and in the last few days of 1999 there were reports of violence—with people fighting in stores over food and stuff?

Magnify that hysteria times two or heck, times five. Especially if the masses begin to freak out about:

  • the odds of death within a week of exposure,
  • no vaccine,
  • lack of food and water,
  • no safe zones for the immune compromised, etc.,
  • not being able to travel because every continent is compromised.

And before I go any farther, let me say this to the person who’s saying, “this is only affecting Asians, I’m not Asian, and I can avoid being around Asians“.

That was the same flawed logic people took with SARS in 2004, and with Ebola. You might as well just isolate yourself and not be around people.

Folks, it’s not just Asians that traveled to and from Asian countries. You see that Italy is being clobbered. We saw it in 2002 with SARS. It spread like crazy in just a few months.

Everyone is at risk. So you can’t just say, “ah well I will just stay away from Asians” but then you’re sitting next to and chatting it up with the British guy who doesn’t tell you he was just in an Asian country, or hanging out with someone who was.

You can’t distinguish who has it or doesn’t based on their race, ethnicity, or nationality.

If they breathe and have contact with other people who breathe, then they are a risk factor.

What’s The Likelihood That This Isn’t SARS 2.0?

Do you think it’s a coinkydink that both SARS and COVID-19 are both coronaviruses that came from or was deposited in China? It’s just, unlike 2002, it has been said that some scientists in China are admitting they created or had samples of COVID-19 in their labs. But what other countries also had it? What if this is just a SARS 2.0 release, but on super villain steroids?

There’s been no known cases of transmission of SARS since 2004. Maybe, because whoever whipped up that batch went back to the lab and said, “well heck look what SARS did, imagine supersizing this bad boy!

Just a thought.

They Fear We Can’t Handle The Truth, And…

Government leaders around the world, including the U.S., aren’t rushing to tell you the TRUTH, and that they don’t have a clue what to do. They are sneakily telling state and federal agencies to prepare their operations, and to low-key alert schools and businesses on how to plan for worst-case scenarios, and the potential economic impact of adjusting or shutting down operations.

A Planned Weapon That Backfired

Because unlike Ebola, which scientists have been fighting for decades, or SARS, which hasn’t been active since 2004, the COVID-19 CoronaVirus is young, shiny, and brand new—straight from the lab without a backup if they screw up. It’s doing what it was created to do—kill humans.

This isn’t what they had planned for population control, or at least not right now, but it will score some points, now won’t it?!? Or maybe this is a multi-prong attack—population control, limit the growth of a new generation, weaken and destabilize the infrastructure of governments and economies, shift power decks for leverage of those who gain greater power, and slow down the progress of countries who were making big and bold innovative moves.

AND just like we saw from Ebola, it wasn’t just Africans who were exposed. The same was true about SARS seemingly being a Chinese and Asian problem. Even if it was a planned bioweapon to wipe out a lot of Asians. So you couldn’t just avoid certain people. And how did Ebola and SARS spread? Humans breathing, coughing, and sneezing around other humans. They were mobilized and basically weaponized thanks to contact through travel—planes, trains, and automobiles! Oh yeah and elevators!

When Ego, Pride & Greed Collab

Unfortunately for the United States, this is an election year, and some folks desperately want to hold on to their positions another four years. And they’re too self-absorbed and ignorant to realize that the best way to win re-election is to get ahead of the problem and show the public that you’re doing everything to protect them.

But, that’s too much like right.

Naw, we’re into finger-pointing and late night blame game tweets. We’re more focused on press conferences than cleaning up the cesspool we helped to create. That’s modern-day business and politics.

If it took this long for China to finally taken ownership for their role in this lab-created virus of war (possibly the second of many), and admit to delaying efforts of containment, you can guarantee that the US will ignorantly follow suit—all while pointing fingers the entire time at China. Even if it was the US that launched the weapon of mass destruction.

I mean, why would we ever think that the CoronaVirus would make its way to the US? Yes, I’m being snarky and sarcastic.

The virus was created and released in a country with more humans per square foot than anywhere else on the planet.

But heck, we didn’t plan and prepare for the ultimate arrival of our unwanted guest…

Coron A. Virus, Ph.D., ABC, andZ.

Yes, I just made light of it. I had to find some humor in this tragedy.

People created a virus to kill people, and I don’t the Chinese are saying “oops…we released this version too soon. We were supposed to release version 2.0 in a specific area some time around September but we had an oopsy daisy in our lab so the plan has been fast tracked a tad bit!” 🤷🏽‍♀️ This isn’t an app, it’s truly a weapon of mass destruction. And nobody has an off switch or another weapon to take it out. Also, if China wanted to launch this bioweapon, wouldn’t their primary target be the US, not themselves? It’s possible. Twisted but possible.

This is like the very first next-level fight, when one man decides to weaponize the fallen tree branch, or a huge rock.

Imagine the look on the face of the other dude who came to rumble with balled fists, and that’s all he has to fight with. How do you course correct?

Ego, pride, and greed are deadly sins with massive collateral damage.

What Leaders Should Do

What’s sad is that we would respect leaders more if they stepped up and did the right thing, the first time, not out of force or guilt.

Let’s be honest with ourselves—our federal government throwing $2 Billion at this problem is like spitting a mouthful of water at a forest fire. You clearly just want to say you did something.

If you owe $1800 on your past due bill, sending $2 isn’t going to stop the collection efforts.

Governments have a responsibility not only to the citizens and residents of their nation, but to the entire world. What affects one country affects all. We have a global economy that is fast tracked by nonstop flights, next day and two-day shipping, etc. We are always vulnerable to exposure, so we should respect that reality by doing our part to protect human life, not just some people’s lives.

Right now, our government is just crossing its fingers that a vaccine will be developed before they have to hit the airways with the TRUTH.

What You Should Do

I suggest that rather than operate out of fear, and become reactionary, finding yourself caught up in the panic and mass hysteria— just begin to gradually stock up on nonperishable items every week. Don’t go crazy and turn your home into an episode of the show “Extreme Couponing”.

But be realistic. You already know how people clear out stores when we get hit by bad weather or news of one of Nostradamus’s predictions on the horizon.

Then you’re left upset and irritated. It’s better to be prepared than be left feeling victimized. Then you will just join everyone else in the blame game.

There Are Lessons To Be Learned

Sadly, the world has to learn the hard lesson of why we shouldn’t play God. The COVID-19 CoronaVirus along with every other man-made virus/disease is what happens when people have a God complex and decide they want to control life and death. The masses have to suffer for the ego, pride, and greed of the few.

You and your families are all in my prayers and I hope that you have some loving prayers or thoughts for me and my family too!

God bless us all!

~Natasha

Copyright 2020.

If you didn’t watch the Superbowl game yesterday between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers, then you missed an intense and well fought game.

Neither team playing was one of my teams, but I was crossing my fingers for the Chiefs. Yeah, my love for the Cowboys and Raiders just won’t let me cheer for the 49ers! 🤣 So yesterday was a great day in football.

Having Strong Vision

What I found amazing, now serves as one of the overarching lessons from the game, is that some people—including some of the commentators, were beginning to say in the third quarter, that the 49ers basically had this game in the bag—that somehow the Chiefs couldn’t recover from the point deficit. Which is odd, because we’ve witnessed in multiple games that the Chiefs have the grit to not only turnaround the odds, but do so in their favor. While the commentators and fans saw lack, the Chiefs saw opportunity. The Chiefs knew that the game wasn’t over until the clock read 0:00 in the fourth quarter.

While the commentators were saying that Patrick Mahomes, the quarterback for the Chiefs, somehow lost his zest, grit, mojo, magic sauce—Mahomes was focused on inspiring his team and looking for opportunities to leverage, and capitalize on. He tuned out those voices and tuned in to his inner power.

Mahomes didn’t lose anything. He was challenged to try something differently. He was tapping into his other skills. I’m surprised that the retired NFL players commenting on the game forgot what that felt like, the processes they went through to dig deep and rethink strategy. We watched them pull their teams out of the trenches, yet in their vision of Mahomes they didn’t see their past selves.

Until It’s Over, It Ain’t

There’s the lessons: you don’t give up until the game, project, activity, race, or relationship is over. And you don’t let naysayers get in your head and convince you that you don’t have what it takes to win. Even if those naysayers succeeded or failed at the same thing you’re attempting. Get them out of your head. You need to dig through your toolbox of skills and keep working until you get it right, or fail trying.

Passion, Creativity & Innovation

Both teams were highly creative and innovative, but Kansas City simply out-hustled and outmaneuvered San Francisco. Passion wanes because you stop engaging and reinvesting in it.

How many married couples later admit that the passion died when they stopped sharing, dating and learning from each other? They stopped looking for creative and innovative ways to connect.

How many businesses go belly up because they stopped reinvesting in their overall experience for both the worker and the customer. The passion for the mission dwindles because you stop pursuing new and creative ways, and revisiting old ways differently. They stop reinventing and reimagining themselves.

For some people, the mind dies before the body does.

Grit & Tenacity

Through your grit and tenacity, you can knock down barriers, and cause your opponents to make mistakes and decisions that concede to your victory. Or you at least give them a hard-won fight to the end. But you don’t just give up at the first signs of adversity. Neither the 49ers or the Chiefs caved when the scoreboard wasn’t in their favor. They simply pushed harder or with greater finesse.

When the pressure mounts, get excited, because that means you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be. You just need to find the right opening to get to the next level. If it’s super easy, then you’re in the wrong arena, the wrong stadium. You’re not playing in the Superbowl, you’re playing in a Pop Warner game.

Now, let’s look at more lessons from yesterday’s game….

Be Present

There were some key plays in the game where the Chiefs did the unexpected, and it worked in their favor. They didn’t belabor in the missteps, they quickly recovered, with a focus on doing better the next time. They lovingly pushed each other to get and keep their heads and hearts in the game. Being present with the current down, not obsessed over the previous ones. You can’t fix the past, only learn from it. Don’t repeat the past mistake. Don’t be sloppy and leave yourself open to future ones.

Your Focus Isn’t Everyone Else’s

After the game ended, Mahomes was interviewed and asked what happened, and why he hadn’t repeatedly thrown the long and powerful passes we saw weeks and months earlier. People wanted to be wowed and drunkardly entertained by mesmerizing antics. His team won the game but not the way people envisioned.

His response was exactly what I expected. He gave an answer that most weren’t expecting, because they were operating from a place of lack. Patrick Mahomes said, in a nutshell, that the 49ers have an amazing defensive team that made it difficult to throw long passes, and risking those opportunities would have meant that the 49ers would’ve won that game. He wasn’t there to entertain, he was there to win.

They are two of the best teams in the NFL, both there because of their amazing skills, and that meant it wouldn’t be a blow-out win for either team. They were gonna have to bust their butts and work smart and hard for that win.

Mahomes gave San Francisco credit for being a phenomenal opponent. He had to find a different way to take them down. He had to look for other opportunities, and not-so-obvious opportunities. He had to trust his coaches and team mates, and they had to trust him. His team members who play on offense had to present scoring opportunities while reducing the risk of turnovers. His defensive team had to find ways to keep the 49ers from turning every attempt into scored points, while also looking for opportunities to force turnovers in favor of the Chiefs.

That’s why we saw footage of Patrick rallying both the offensive and defensive players on the team, it required both to be in the collective mindset that they each have a role to play, tasks to execute, and responsibilities to self and team—and no matter what the score looked like, the words being screamed by fans and haters, or the commentary on television—do your job and don’t give up!

The quarterback is not just the leader of the offensive team, Mahomes is the leader of the entire team. Heck, he’s even an inspiration to the support staff and the water and towel crew who run around making sure players are hydrated and cared for.

What are You and Your Team Made Of?

There has to be harmony even during chaos.

Everyone’s head has to be in the game, and properly aligned. If not, it begins to impact other players. Energy is contagious. Watch quickly how it spreads, for or against a team. Watch it’s heightened state when victory feels imminent, and watch how it dwindles and drains when failure is perceived to be close in hand.

Yes, the Chiefs played and beat the 49ers, but their biggest opponent was their own team, their individual and collective mind. If they allowed their fears, mistakes, and setbacks to gain a footing in their mind, the roots would have grown and latched on, and they would’ve caved to the pressure.

They rechanneled the fear, frustration, disappointment, and anger. They recalibrated. They studied their opponent during the game. They studied themselves and each other. They communicated more and kept every person that was standing and seated on that sideline focused on the mission and vision.

That is why it’s more important to seek out team members with desirable character traits that align with your values, than just seek highly skilled workers. If someone’s heart isn’t in it then it will display in their work. If they aren’t invested in the same things you are, it will show. The Chiefs came together as one unit, one body, one mind.

The more that Kansas City realigned themselves, the more San Francisco would be thrown off by the realignment. Not by a great margin, but enough for the Chiefs to leverage it in their favor. That turned into a win that the team hasn’t experienced in 50 years. Kansas City has been trying 50 years to get a Superbowl win. Their head coach, Andy Reid, has been trying to win a Superbowl as head coach of a team, since he first became the coach of the Philadelphia Eagles in 1999. He had no Superbowl wins there during his 13 years with that team, and until yesterday, he had 6 years of unsuccessful attempts with the Chiefs. That’s 19 years of trying but never giving up. Year 20 he succeeded. This is his second Superbowl win in his NFL career. Talk about grit!

Learn and Apply The Lessons

Learn from yesterday’s game. Apply those lessons to your personal, professional, and academic lives. That’s what I love about sports, you can see the mirroring of other aspects of your life. The principles are the same, they’re just set in different arenas.

Is what lies before you a failure or an opportunity? Are you going to give up and walk away, or look for a different way? If you fall will you get back up or will you just lie there like a rug, letting life pass over you?

No, you won’t win every game. No, your efforts may not lead to a Superbowl victory (or something comparable in your life). No, your relationship may not last. But what effort are you investing in the success or failure? What lessons are you learning in real-time to pivot and adjust? How are you getting wiser, stronger, and better?

Life unfolds based on your perceptions. Failing doesn’t make you a failure and winning is not a guaranteed repeated outcome, even for the winner. How many of you initially thought the New England Patriots were clinching the Superbowl title again this year, just because they did it last year? Welp, they were eliminated. But I can guarantee that they are strategizing how to reclaim their spot for next year. Just as the 49ers are. Every team in the NFL is focused on winning the top prize. Even in the high of yesterday’s win, the Chiefs want to win again next year. You’re a fool to think that they are satisfied with just one. It’s a laser focus.

What are you laser-focused on achieving this year? What positive moves will you make to achieve it? What junk and noise will you blot out? What naysayers will you ignore? Who will you embrace that is trying to help you succeed? Who will you inspire to help make the vision a reality?

~Natasha

Copyright 2020. Natasha L. Foreman.

As I sit here, some things come to mind…

Many of us live through other people’s experiences. We dislike and fear what someone else dislikes and fears. We ourselves haven’t experienced what they did, yet we embrace the feelings and beliefs as though they are our own. Someone else was harmed by another person, so now we dislike that person for the harm they caused.

Someone didn’t like the food at a restaurant, so we never go and try it for ourselves. A person had a bad experience on their vacation, so we swear we will never visit that place.

That’s why so many people never travel beyond their town, city, county, state, region, or country.

That’s why some people never get on planes, trains, boats, and ships.

We never try new foods. We never read a different genre of books or listen to a different style of music.

That’s why some people don’t pursue educational dreams and career goals.

That’s why thousands of people can’t figure out how to fix their raggedy love life.

That’s why so many of us suffer.

We let other voices dictate to us.

We don’t know the truth but we accept someone’s words as truth.

We don’t think.

We don’t question.

We don’t seek answers.

We choose to exist rather than live. We confuse living with thriving.

When we’re thriving, fear has no stronghold, it has no footing.

When we’re thriving, our experiences are uniquely our own. No one else will have that exact same experience.

We know this.

That’s why two people can sit side-by-side on an amusement park ride and walk away with different experiences. Two people eat the same food at the same time but share different things about the food. One person tastes spices the other one didn’t notice or didn’t know what they were to define them. Two people arguing aren’t having the same experience, they are merely sharing the same space in time.

You have never eaten artichoke but you declare you don’t like it. Never tasted rhubarb but you swear it’s gross. Most likely, because you heard of someone else’s experience, or worse, their uninformed opinions from lack of experience.

How many of you have resolved to settle for a life of seeing the world through the pictures and experiences of other people?

You have to go to know.

People have opinions about cities, states, and countries that they have never visited. It’s hilarious and sad at the same time.

I smirk when I hear people make generalizations about a nationality, race, religion, or gender of people. Do you know every person of that nation, race, religion, or gender? Then how can you say, “all_____people…” or “____people do/say___”? But you don’t know all of them. So how do you know what they all say or do? You most definitely can’t say what one person thinks about all things, so how can you speak about an entire group of people?

I’m guilty of these ignorant statements. I try to catch myself after saying them.

I laugh when I hear or read people make statements about a group of people, yet they don’t know anyone from that group. They don’t know any Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, or Satanists. But they speak as though they do. They don’t personally know any people of African, European, Latin, Hispanic, or Asian descent—but from listening to them, you would swear that they know plenty.

Are all law enforcement officers corrupt, racists, bigots, sexist, and egomaniacs? No. Yet, there are people who see one officer and in that one, they see all. The broad generalization forms and becomes your personal belief system, creed, law.

And your one or few experiences doesn’t mean the totality for all humankind. Remember, those are your experiences, not mine, not your neighbors, and not your child’s.

We speak and act from ignorance. Since we choose not to educate ourselves through asking questions, researching, and stepping beyond our comfort zone, we say and do the stupidest of things.

You become more of what you are against than what you’re for. You are operating from a state of lack. That is a danger zone.

We regurgitate words from religious texts and ceremonies, without knowing their true and full meaning and application. We cling to historical figures and celebrities without knowing the person. Our idolization restricts us from being our authentic self. Our insecurities force us to manufacture false narratives to boost our desired perception. We follow man rather than lead ourselves. Because it’s an easier path and then you have someone to blame other than self.

There’s a reason for these words of declaration:

self-esteem, self-worth, self-enlightenment, self-empowerment, self-acceptance, self-actualization, self-awareness, self-control, self-expression, self-healing, self-help, etcetera.

It starts and ends with self.

We keep expecting others to do it for us. Be the positive change you want to see, stop waiting for it to happen. Take responsibility.

You must lead yourself or you will most definitely be led. And since you don’t know yourself, you will allow someone else to dictate and create your story for you. They will define you. You will allow someone else to determine your worth and value.

Your ignorance comes with a harsh penalty.

We spread our ignorance. We deposit it into our families, our children, our houses of worship, our workplaces, and our communities. We manifest the lack we obsess over.

The uninformed are the easiest to recruit, brainwash, and mold.

What you don’t know that you don’t know, can literally destroy you. Those who feel lost, neglected, powerless, voiceless, and forgotten are prey. That is why drugs, gangs (defined by many names), prostitution, and the sort have great prevalence in society.

People are being preyed upon and they don’t even know it. They have no clue that the biggest predators are the ones standing next to them, hugging them, and cheering them on.

You can blame whomever or whatever you like for the person that you are today. Or you can make the decision to intentionally live with a clean slate. You have the choice to write or re-write your story however you please, with your unique experiences. Your learning only stops when you choose to close yourself off from life. You may not be able to choose where to live your life, but you can choose how to live where you are.

You can live in the world and not be of it. You can be like the fish in the ocean, surrounded by salt, but not consumed by their environment.

Think about it.

Last week, I heard a message from Darren Hardy that spoke of this amazing truth. That fish of the sea live in salt water, they breathe and take in salt water. They eat things that are also in the water. Yet they don’t taste like tons of salt. All they do is swim around all day and night in salt water. But we barely taste the salt in them. That is how we should live our lives.

We can live in it but not be of it.

You aren’t your environment, circumstances, or your past. You aren’t the family you were born into or raised by, or the people you associate with.

Unless you choose to be.

You choose to associate with toxic people and behave like them. You choose to live in fear and ignorance. If you live in a “free” and “developed” nation, you choose to not journey beyond your town, city, county, state, or country. You choose to believe what you think, and to entertain the thoughts that surface. How life unfolds is based on the choices that we make.

How will you choose to live your life, experience the world, and see the people in it?

What will you choose to do without thought of your age, gender, or where you’re from?

What healthy choices will you make starting today?

This very moment.

Then do it!

I love you all,

~Natasha

Copyright 2020. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

Four years ago I participated in an amazing #SisterCircle at Georgia Tech, with the Atlanta-based nonprofit, Sisters of Today and Tomorrow (SOT)—who hosted the event. Here are some pics:

Well, their founder, Carla Morrison, invited me to return this year. Carla knows that I love and live to serve, and if I can make the time, I will never say no. So, I immediately checked my calendar and replied “sign me up!”

So tonight, I will join a jam-packed room of queens and princesses, as we kickoff the Sisters of Today National Leadership Conference.

Tonight’s event, the #LevelUp Fundraiser/Reception is going to be fun. I highlighted the event and my confirmed attendance on my social media…

Then tomorrow, July 19th, I will be facilitating the #SisterCircle with an SOT alum, Idalis. I know it will be fun, deep, engaging, emotional, constructive, and impactful— because I’m still reflecting on the one that I co-facilitated four years ago, so as SOT said on their social media feeds the other day…

I think our circle tomorrow will most definitely be 🔥🔥🔥

To learn more about SOT, to support them through donations or volunteering, or to involve your daughter (age 11-18), please visit

SOT2Girls.org and tell them that I sent you!

Warmest wishes and love,

Natasha

I’m going to focus on today, today. What can I do, see, and be today? That is my focus.

If I have one foot in the past and one in the future, that means I’m straddling the present. If I’m straddling the present then all I can possibly do is take a dump on today or choose to move both of my feet into today’s space. I don’t know about you but I’m tired of dumping on my present. I want to thrive each day. I want to wake excited about what the day will bring, and I want to fall asleep at night pleased with all that I experienced, learned, and shared that day.

I want my life to be about healing reflection not regret. I want to make the most out of my days so that I’m excitedly sharing the greatness of now, and not dwelling on my hay day of the past successes. I want my setback to be a learning setup for bigger and better success, not a cesspool blame game of what-went-wrong.

Yesterday is behind us. Last year is behind us. So are all of the years past that you can’t return to and fix. What happened has happened. You don’t have a time machine to change things; and if you did, would you truly change every thing that happened in your past? Because you would have to in order to get your desired outcome, which means there’s a lot of great people and experiences you would miss out on all because you wanted to change one or more series in your life’s story.

Think of how much precious time you would then lose in the present and how that would then affect your future. There’s a better way to deal with our past….Learn from it and move forward. Stop dumping on your present, or that gift will no longer be your reality.

This isn’t a new year’s resolution, this is my daily affirmation. Focus on being, doing, and seeing all that God has called on me to be, do, and see today.

My self-talk for today….

Maybe it will help someone else who needs a loving push.

~Natasha

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

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

Audio Message

What I’ve shared below can also be heard through this audio message. Click play and enjoy.

I’m sitting here at my desk reflecting.

My reflection is focused upon my life, specifically my love life.

I’m a romantic. I’ve always been. I don’t need the big and grandiose. I love the simple things in life and love. Oftentimes it’s the smallest of gestures that have the biggest impacts, the smallest packages can contain the best of gifts—and that, for me, brings me the greatest joy. A handbag has a price tag and can be damaged, lost, stolen, sold, or given away; sitting by my bedside holding my hand, rubbing my head, kissing me and telling me that all will be well, while I’m in the hospital fighting fear and whatever else—that’s priceless and can never be damaged, lost, stolen, sold, or given away. That time, attention and affection is for me and only me. That is precious and everlasting in my heart and mind.

(more…)

Today I shared a message on my Breaking Bread With Natasha blog. I had brought back to life a message that I had written on April 17, 2013. Today I added more content, more ‘meat and potatoes’ to the table. I then recorded an audio message to accompany the written one. It’s easier to ‘take it all in’ if you listen to me speak rather than read the lengthy post. Unless of course you love to read.

As I sit back and reflect on a large bulk of the message, I can’t help but to think that the things that I called on people to question, analyze, critique, and ‘check’ about ourselves and others—are the same things that have turned people away from organized religion.

The hypocrisy, lies, negativity, and toxic situations and environments that have been created by so-called religious people, are the ingredients that have grown putrid in the minds and hearts of people who see the hypocrisy, lies, negativity, and toxicity and they say, “how is that a loving religion?” and “how could God allow these people to use his name and abuse his word this way?

I can see why people slowly but surely throw their hands up and choose to not invest time and energy in a religious institution; why they have no desire to spend time in any house of faith—except for the few moments in life when called on to attend a wedding or funeral. I can see why people balk at those who proudly walk around with a religious label or title—-yet they don’t walk the walk of their God, their Messiah, their Creator.

So many of us would say that those who reject the church are blind. But I would say that with all of the darkness found in many houses of faith, those who walk away and choose to have an independent relationship with their Creator, those individuals are actually the ones who can see clearly the difference between dark and light, good and evil, lies and truth. They understand that they do not need man to have a relationship with God. They understand that they do not need man to communicate or translate to and from God on their behalf. They understand that they can ‘tithe’ through giving to charity, nonprofits, or directly to a person or family in their community.

When we put more trust, faith, honor, love, value, and respect in man than God, in the creation instead of the Creator—then we create these toxic environments, these pimping pulpit purveyors, and deceptive practices that stand opposite of the very principles, precepts, and commandments of the religion that was formed and of the God that reigns over all.

We must question, challenge, ‘check’, and call to action those individuals who claim to have been called to lead us, those who have a sworn allegiance to their Creator, and we must hold them accountable to leading through service—ensuring that they take care of first the least of those within their doors and the least of those outside of the doors where their house of faith is nestled—then they walk and lead the service of all others.

It can’t be poverty preaching that keeps us all destitute and rejecting of God’s blessings. That goes against the word as outlined in the Bible. It also can’t be prosperity preaching that tells people that everyone can be financially wealthy if they give more to the church and pray to God to take care of the rest. The Bible highlights that God expects people to work hard for what they want, and He will reward you according to your efforts. We have to plant the seeds, water and nurture them, take care of them, keep the weeds away, and then timely harvest them as we grow our crop. None of that is simple. The harvest is never an easy process. It doesn’t just happen.

There is no better way of knowing and seeing what God has for you, or is trying to share with you, than to stand still in your aloneness, to listen and be guided by what comes to you naturally. What works for one may not work for all, and we can never be sure what actually took place behind-the-scenes for the manifestation of the results that we see. I can have the same seeds as the farmer next door but for whatever reason I’m not producing a crop as big or as yummy as the farmers.

How you become wealthy may not be like anyone else. Maybe someone’s wealth came from having enough of the right relationships with people who opened doors of opportunity for them. While someone else picked the right stock or made the right investment. Maybe someone built a business or a product and later sold it. Maybe someone built their wealth from flipping houses. Each of these people take different routes, exert different levels of energy, and there is no one-size-fits-all. So it is wrong for a person, in the role of leader of a religious congregation, to sell a reality that they don’t even know to be true or right.

Maybe life is meant for some of us to live fully and richly but with less finances. Maybe excess is just that. What if many of us find greater contentment and peace in a home with two bedrooms rather than eight? If your life is full, rich and rewarding, are you not wealthy? Do you not then possess, exude, and live in abundance?

We have turned the pursuit of things as having greater importance than pursuing the immeasurable space of joy and peace. We’re constantly chasing rather than simply being. We have focused on being separate religions of separate denominations with so much division—even internally—rather than being religions of love and inclusivity. We tell people who can and can’t attend our house of faith, join our religion. What happened to welcoming everyone whose heart has been pulled to join?

We have placed greater value in the human leader than the One who created that leader. This idolatry and deification of humans in fancy robes, with special titles, with large buildings–who possess more wealth than most that follow and financially support them—is sinful and disgusting. There’s nothing wrong with becoming wealthy, being wealthy—but at the expense of your congregation, who is also not wealthy, is a sin.

When will we remove our blinders, take out the earplugs, unstrap the muzzles on our mouths—and finally see, hear, and speak the TRUTH so that we can be free, alive, and truly blessed in all ways?

Every day I strive to be a better person, servant of God, and Christian. Every day I pray to leave a positive impression on each person who meets me, reads my words, hears my voice, sees me briefly or for an extended period of time. I am flawed and I make it very clear, publicly and privately. I would rather someone embrace me because of the love and respect that I share than because of the Christian title that I attempt to carry and fall short of being each day.

Jesus taught love, acceptance, forgiveness, grace, humility, kindness, and inclusion. How many of us can say that we live our lives like this daily? How many of us can say that we attend a house of faith that lives and practices this daily? So then who do we think that we are to judge others when we can’t even measure up in our own daily walk? We must be mindful of the people that we follow. We must be mindful of the responsibility that we carry and assume when we make the decision to lead others.

I don’t know about you, but I want to enter four walls that are filled with people who preach, speak, think and practice love of all, not few—all, not some—ALL.

~Natasha

After watching this brief clip that someone posted on Facebook that shows a recording of an episode where Iyanla Vanzandt has Black men and women openly expressing their hurts, anger, and disappointments, I share in this multi-part reflection and plea that I’ve started below.

I know that it can apply to any ethnicity of people (for internally we all have unique and sometimes even similar struggles), but I can only speak for and directly to the group I share the most commonalities with—Black people—but I encourage all to read this, to get a better understanding of the unique struggles that Black people and specifically African Americans face daily in the US—see the commonalities within your own ethnic group—and consider the ways that even you may have unknowingly perpetuated one or more of the stereotypes that continue to divide one group of people (in this case, African Americans) and reinforce the stigmas that keep nations of people divided:

To Black Women I Say…

Ladies listen to your men. Truly listen. Don’t ignore their complaints. They are crying out and they need us.

Stop allowing the past and what society has forced us to do to survive to be the barrier that prevents us from having a genuine and loving connection with our men.

To Black Men I Say…

Menfolk, you need to come together and give each other the “pass” and approval to be vulnerable, to open up and share your hurt and anger in a way that allows women to fully understand in a healthy way, without us feeling the need to mother you or chastise you as being “weak”. Those are the two extremes that we keep repeating and reinforcing, that further attacks and emasculates you.

To Black Women I Say…

Ladies we can’t say we want a gentleman who possesses qualities of nurturing, tenderness, and compassion—but then call a man a punk when he shows sadness, fear, depression, etc.

He is human just like you.

He has feelings just like you.

He has insecurities just like you.

Just like you, he faces rejection and pressures from the world simply because of the color of his skin.

He wants to be heard and understood, appreciated and celebrated, forgiven and shown compassion—just like you.

You should be more concerned about the man who does not cry than the one who does. The former is boiling and dying from within. The latter is releasing the toxins that could do harm to him, to you, and to others.

I’m guilty of not being empathetic and sympathetic enough to realize that I placed men, especially Black men, on a pedestal of Super Hero status—with expectations that they are to be stronger, braver, and more resilient because they are men—-that they should just “suck it up and get past it” all while forgetting that even super heroes have weaknesses, flaws, areas of vulnerability that leaves them exposed and easy to harm.

I forgot the very important lessons that my Black father taught me about Black men, and how to love, appreciate and support them.

I forgot that just like the burden of being labeled “Wonder Woman” or “Super Woman” is draining on me, the labels placed on men also drain them.

All super heroes need a break— refuge.

Batman went to the bat cave, switched out his gear, took the secret door back to his “normal” life as Bruce Wayne. When Wonder Woman isn’t out there saving the world with her lasso and shields, she’s just a regular person—Diana Prince.

Super heroes can’t always be “on”. They need a break too! And they also need healthy companionship. Look at the super heroes and their love interests. There’s a sense of balance.

As Black people we have shared experiences of slavery (past and present), of injustice, cruelty, and racism. We have shared pain just as we have shared hope.

Just like we need a safe place to rest our head, men do too! They need someone they can let down their guards with and be vulnerable to, and trust that they won’t be attacked when they take off their super hero costume, or simply—just when they turn their backs or close their eyes to rest.

When they turn to us we need to be there for them. Not to mother them—society already says that they are boys and not men. But instead to simply provide refuge from the outside world. A safe place of peace, tucked away from a world of conflict and chaos.

Home is not merely a physical place. It should be what we have in and with each other.

To Black Men I Say…

Men, you need to stop negatively comparing Black women to other women. Stop telling Black women how inferior we are to other women. Stop telling us how ugly we are, inside and out.

Stop reducing us to our bodies as merely sexual props for your pleasure, to be easily discarded—as it reinforces the trauma inflicted on our women when slave masters raped and discarded us.

Please don’t keep opening that wound and torturing us.

It’s one thing to honor and celebrate us, it’s another thing to exploit and pimp us out—to basically say that we’re only as good as our booty is big.

Stop perpetuating the labels and stereotypes of Black women.

These labels and stereotypes are not merely reinforced by the few Black women who proudly or ignorantly display these traits and characteristics.

They are co-signed by your affirmations of their truth.

Others turn to the Black man and ask, “is this true about Black women?” and when you say “yes” it stamps all Black women with a seal.

What you say about Black women is a clear affirmation of what you think and how you see your mother, sisters, aunts, grandmothers, cousins, and yes even your daughters.

Are the words that you use to describe Black women the same that you would want someone else to describe the females of your family?

Is that what you want your daughter to hear and respond to?

Are the ways that you treat Black women the ways that you would want your daughter, mother, sister, and grandmother to be treated?

The negative labels devalue and destroy us.

We are not ALL one way or another. Just like Black men are not.

———————❤️——————-

Ladies and gentlemen, please let this sink in and marinate. We have to engage in dialogue and take ownership for our roles and parts in this disconnect.

I cannot possibly dive as deep as I would like because I’m limited by this medium that I’ve selected. So we will go as deep as possible to allow for discussion that can branch off into your own independent discussions.

The first step towards healing is to admit there is a problem.

Tomorrow we will continue with part two of this discussion. I hope that you will join me and share your thoughts and suggestions.

~Natasha

Copyright 2018. Natasha Foreman Bryant/Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.
All footage in the video is owned and protected by Iyanla Vanzandt and the Oprah Winfrey Network. I do not claim any rights to the content.
The image art used with this post is not my creation. It was found at https://twitter.com/blaclovematters

The time is NOW! Don’t wait. Don’t procrastinate. You’re only stealing from yourself when you do. Seriously.

Yes, I’m talking about the new book Believe Bigger: Discover Your Path to Your Life Purpose

Invest in this book, this guide, this map to explore sides and crevices of YOU that you have overlooked, neglected, abused, misused, underutilized—yet you want to RECLAIM, RESTORE, RENEW, REINVENT, RECHARGE, REACTIVATE and REALIGN.

Get your copy of #BelieveBigger by my dear friend Marshawn Evans Daniels if you want to do more, see more, experience more, give more, receive more, and be more.

Abundance of anything positive can ONLY come from faith, discipline, and action.

You have to DO. You have to MOVE. You have to GET UP and GET OUT OF YOUR WAY, THE WAY, GOD’S WAY.

It starts by thinking abundantly, feeling it, visualizing it, speaking it, and believing it LONG BEFORE you see the first buds sprout, long before the first harvest becomes ready.

To #BelieveBigger you have to have FAITH in what you hope for, in that which has yet to arrive—but you have already staked your claim as YOURS!

Health, financial wealth, intelligence, a fulfilling and rewarding career, work-life balance, to travel more, marriage, or to start a family of your own—whatever it is—YOU MUST CLAIM IT AS SO—CLAIM IT AS YOURS, and then do your part to make the puzzle pieces come together.

God has already shown you what is possible. He’s already said it can be yours. But do YOU believe in His vision for you? Or will you settle on the small—lower your expectations below what He wants to gift you? Will you let fear tell you it’s not possible or will you let faith tell you “Oh yes it is!

Every successful entrepreneur knows that their forward-thinking vision must be stated, shared, and reinforced constantly and consistently in order for that vision to be fully comprehended and embraced; and the more that the vision is shared and embraced the more energy and passion is poured into making sure that vision becomes a reality. That’s the difference from merely being a dreamer and a doer. It’s seeing where you want to go and putting together the resources, and doing the job to achieve what you desire.

In organizations we focus on two primary drivers (besides our triple bottom line) which are Mission and Vision. A mission is your purpose—why you’re in business, why you do what you do. Your vision states where you want to go, what you want to be, what type of impact that you want to have as an organization.

Those same principles need to be taught and embedded in the mindset of individuals, not just business leaders. It’s not necessarily tied to your profession or you finding the cure for cancer (side note: but if you do please make sure that you keep those costs affordable for all).

Vision-tied-to-Purpose-aka-Mission….

What is your purpose in life? What is your purpose in your neighborhood or community? What is your purpose in your house of worship? What is your purpose as a member of your family? Why do you get up out of bed every day? Why do you keep living? Why do you want to keep living? Purpose is so bold and deep, so scary, so what if you swap the word and said “mission”, does it help? Probably not. Because purpose, mission, and vision, no matter what you want to call them they are all bold and dynamic, and anything worth achieving is a scary proposition. But if it doesn’t scare you a little or a lot then it’s not big enough, it’s not bold enough. You need to BELIEVE BIGGER!

A lot of people are suffering in their career and in their home life because they lack vision, and their hope is dwindling and dying a slow and painful death. They are focused on their present, their lack of, rather than on where they could be in the near or distant future. When you’re blinded by what you don’t have you don’t see the opportunities opening up around you and ahead of you. You walk right by them or you stop short of achieving them. You need to grab a defibrillator, also known as an AED, and you need to resuscitate your hope and vision.

Stop relying upon New Year’s Resolutions and start with (and be fueled by) vision and action plans. Resolutions are what we aspire to resolve to one day do, but we have become so casual and relaxed with them that we rarely achieve a quarter of the things on the list, and most of the things we aspired to achieve we fell short by January 15th of the year and never tried again.

An action plan fueled by a vision is our road map to GET IT DONE!

Some of you have fulfilled one mission in life and now you’re wondering, “what next?” well maybe, just maybe, Marshawn’s book can help you answer that question.

If you’re ready for that next level, of whatever it is and wherever it may be, then you need to get your copy of Believe Bigger at BelieveBigger.com or at any retailer that sells books, so that you can get moving and start claiming what’s waiting out there for you!

~Natasha

Copyright 2018. Natasha Foreman Bryant/Natasha L. Foreman.
All images within this post have a copyright protection enforced by Marshawn Evans Daniels.

My collegiate track and field days were short-lived. After skipping the season my junior year in high school and having an awful senior year season I steered away from the track while attending Santa Ana College (Rancho Santiago Community College). But the sprinter’s bug bit me while attending California State University, Long Beach (affectionately known as “Long Beach State”).

I’ve shared this story before. It’s one that helps me, inspires me, encourages me, and puts some fire under my butt to be proactive.

I keep this shirt as a reminder that nothing great comes without hard work, excuses don’t amount to much, being early means you’re always on time, don’t give up on your dreams, and even through adversity you must pray and push yourself as though there are no obstacles. It also is a reminder to listen to God’s voice above and despite all others.

It was Spring Break 1996. I was injured during track practice.

Coach wanted to punish me and make an example out of me for the rest of the team. I was late to practice. I got stuck in traffic coming from Pomona (the only sprinter who lived off campus and the only member of the track team who lived that far from campus).

Coach devised a workout for me that was so intense that my teammates painful faces let me know that they felt awful for me.

I was in the fifth lane and I was doing my sixth 120 meter sprint. I would have four more and then sets of 240s, 440s, and one 600 meter run, followed by a light session in the weight room.

I pushed off of the blocks. I could never jump that high in the air until that day, until that moment.

Pushing off of the blocks that “rubber band” in the back of my thigh snapped and coiled up towards my glutes, and I shot up high off of the ground and then what felt like slow motion I fell back to the ground and flat on my face—hard.

It was raining outside, so the beating drops of water didn’t help. But they did blend in well with the tears that streamed down my face. My dad trained me to never cry on the track, so as I tried to cover my face I was finally grateful for this pouring rain. My teammates ran over to me and while one rushed to get the training staff, the others consoled me.

Coach stood by with a mixed look of concern and shock. He knew I was giving him 100% of myself in that workout, and he also knew that he denied me a proper warmup as the first part of my punishment. I begged to have equal time warming up as my teammates were given, even three-quarters of the warmup would help. He cut my warmup by more than half. He said “you will learn the importance of being on time after today“.

Had my body been properly warmed up, like the rest of my team, like what I was accustomed to, the likelihood of me injuring myself was slim. I looked into his eyes asking what my mouth couldn’t, “why?”

The training staff rushed out on a cart and when they saw I couldn’t walk they, along with my team members had to lift me and place me on the cart. One of my teammates grabbed my workout bag and brought it to the training center.

After preliminary tests it was initially thought that I had a hamstring pull. It would take several grueling weeks to heal and recover.

I was sent home with crutches and since I didn’t have anyone to drive me home (that’s a long story about a boyfriend who didn’t believe I was as injured as the training staff said I was so he refused to come get me) so I drove with my left leg for the hour-plus it took to get home, narrowly avoiding an accident when I hydroplaned (I will skip the other dramatic parts of this story).

I cried all the way home. I cried in bed wondering how I would heal from this unbearable pain. I spent the rest of Spring Break at home. The training staff gave me anti-inflammatories. They warned me of the potential liver and kidney damage. Since I didn’t take medicine I only took a few pills and left the rest alone.

Rehabbing my leg was at times unbearable. I had to go immediately to physical therapy that Monday. I couldn’t make those crutches work for me and if you know California State University, Long Beach then you know how huge that campus is. I couldn’t carry my backpack and figure out the crutches. So I got rid of the crutches. I would have to make due and force my left side of my body to overcompensate for my right.

Coach suggested that I take a natural supplement to help with my recovery. The guys on the team took it. I went to the health food store and got some. Coach had regularly scheduled sessions for us to meet individually and as a group with the team psychologist. She gave us visual training techniques and other aides. But honestly I was mentally and physically in pain. The girls on the team explained that Coach gives preferential treatment to the boys and I would just have to suck it up and face the reality they knew all too well. I continued my grueling rehab sessions and focused on my school work.

I spent a couple of weeks rehabbing when Coach demanded that I return to the track. He needed points. I ran the 100 meter, 200 meter, and the first leg of the 4×100 meter relay team. He needed points.

Despite the arguments of the training staff who said I was weeks away from being good enough to run, my concern that I still had a crater in the back of my thigh, Coach’s voice was louder, and the trainers complied by signing off on my release. I could see the concern on their faces.

When I returned to the track it wasn’t the same. I was still injured, still trying to heal, and after weeks of taking that supplement I was also now about 10 pounds heavier (when I was already trying to get my weight down and body fat percentage lower). My teammates faces said what I knew, I wasn’t ready and I could make my injury worse. But I went out there anyway. I was a walk-on trying to get a scholarship and I knew the times I needed to get in order to be awarded that scholarship by the Athletic Director. He said if I nail those times I had the scholarship. I had already read and signed the huge NCAA packet. I just needed to do my part. Get those times.

Well how can I say this accurately…

I sucked. In every race I ran.

It would’ve been better to get someone from the cross-country team to run for me. No offense. But what returned to the track wasn’t a healthy, fully conditioned sprinter. Someone in middle school could’ve beat me in a race. I was injured and trying to carry around more weight, but the stop watch doesn’t consider those factors–and fans don’t know what’s going on—my times said I was just slow, my place crossing the finish line said I was slow. Not the slowest in my heats, but not fast enough to get my team the points Coach expected. Not fast enough to compete at other big meets, like Oregon.

I also was no longer eligible to compete indoors when the time came. I hadn’t healed. My strength and speed weren’t up to par.

Imagine if I had only left my house an hour earlier, even if I would’ve been on campus much earlier than our practice time, even with the traffic, I would’ve been to practice on time and Coach wouldn’t have punished me. I most likely also wouldn’t have injured myself. Hindsight is always 20/20 and the shoulda woulda coulda doesn’t matter.

Interesting enough during post-season a doctor checked my leg and said, “had you continued training as your coach expected this hamstring tear would’ve led to permanent damage“. My mouth felt like it hit the floor.

I loved sprinting. I loved the intensity of the races. I loved training harder after a loss. I loved the smell of the grass infield and surrounding the track. I loved feeling the different types of tracks, some springier than others, some feeling like wood. I loved the competition and the camaraderie. I loved feeling myself run. I loved the freedom that running provides and how sharp your mind must be to blot out distractions, while being relaxed enough that your jaw and lips jiggle as you run.

My track and field career ended in 1996. It took me 5 years to get my mind and body stronger than it had ever been, faster than high school and college. I contemplated returning to the track with a track club to run in the Master’s meets and races. But when my dad passed away in 2001, that dream and the dream of competing in Power Lifting also passed away.

Dad was my coach, trainer, motivator, and butt-kicker. Who else could train me like him? Who else could get in my head and help me to see things like he did? Who else could cuss me out and get away with it like dad? My answer was simply, “no one“.

So I stepped away from it all.

Honestly, those were some of the biggest mistakes that I’ve made in my life because I know that my dad would’ve wanted me to pursue every dream I had no matter what. I used him to make excuses for my fears. I dishonored him, his memory and his legacy to protect myself.

I find myself still doing that, still making excuses, still leaving dreams by the wayside, still not getting consistent help for the hurt, pain, and anger.

When will I grow sick and tired of being sick and tired? When will I make the decision to make my dreams a reality? When will I stop making excuses and start putting in the work? When will I stop living a life of conditional mediocrity and return to a life of excellence?

When I made the decision in 2001 to stop training as an athlete, my mind and body stopped receiving the level of intensity and feedback they needed to thrive, and my spirit has also been challenged.

It’s been 17 years since I last consistently trained as an athlete. That’s 17 years of being off balance and existing with a void. My mind is sharper when I’m training. My body is healthier. My attitude is better. My outlook is focused and broad. I accomplish more in other areas of my life.

Time waits for no one. Whatever I want I must go get it. Laziness gains nothing positive. One step at a time. One day at a time. I may not have an interest in competing in track and field anymore, but I most definitely have a desire to getting my mind, body, and spirit realigned.

Age is an excuse for not reaching for better, for more, for what is attainable—for what God has before you, just for you.

Now is the time.

~Natasha

Copyright 2018. Natasha L. Foreman/Natasha Foreman Bryant. 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 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