The mind of a fool…

Does not trust what he can’t see…But trusts what he can see, even if it’s a LIE!

You claim you want freedom yet you choose your enslavement.

Stretch your mind. You are only using a fraction of its capabilities.

~Natasha

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

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

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

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

Sending love and light to all of you!

~Natasha

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

Do you see my face?

If you’ve ever written a book, then you know this feeling…when you’ve typed the last word, period, comma….

You poured yourself onto those pages and you’re empty, yet oh so very full.

Last night I finished typing the final words of a book that is inspired by my 9-year journey through my blog BreakingBreadWithNatasha.com and I cried. I cried tears of joy, relief, and satisfaction for putting my all into a piece of work, to glorify God and His goodness and greatness in my life (through storms and rainbows).

I’ve started several books over the past 20+ years, but this is the FIRST one that I’ve finished, and am proud of. It’s taken me almost 3 years, on and off, to reach this point. I would start writing, get discouraged, and stop. I finally reached a point where I was tired of God asking me when I was going to keep my word so that He could keep His. There’s things that I want to do and experience, but I’m holding myself back. Last night was a sweet victory.

I’m not finished. I still have to get final edits and complete a litany of steps including artwork, decide on a title, paperwork, legal stuff, marketing, etc. etc. etc. But that’s nothing, compared to having to discipline myself to sit still for hours at a time, to create something that I would want to read—and hopefully YOU too will want to read.

I will share more when I can. I just wanted to share this moment, especially with those of you who have been asking me to write this book since 2011. Thank you for the loving push!!!

~Natasha L. Foreman

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

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

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

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

Pride

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Admission of Guilt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This Week…

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

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

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

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

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

Change Starts With You

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

…I don’t know”

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

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

“…I need help with _____”

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

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

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

“…You’re correct, I’m wrong…”

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

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

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

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

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

Lovingly,

Natasha

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

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 can’t believe that it’s already mid-July. It seems like last week was the first week of January. Maybe it’s our busyness or the chaos of life intertwined with the never-sleeping age of technology that keeps us buzzed, connected, and feeling like time is passing us by.

Some days feel like they zoom by while others feel like they painfully linger to remind you that you don’t have your “stuff” together.

Today I’m going to be transparent which is difficult for most people who even in their oversharing through social media, aren’t authentically transparent—it is still a mirage. But I’m moved to share with you today because there are plenty of people out there that see a public image of me and I’ve heard the fantasizing remarks made by some of you about how much you wish you could live my life, even the fast-paced moments that you have seen captured by video and pictures. I think it’s important to see the inside of the humans we admire, so we can see the real and appreciate the struggle. So this post isn’t a quick quote but rather a longer message, giving you a peek inside of me. I hope it helps someone.

Today I reflect on a Walt Disney quote:

This is a snapshot of a journal that I bought and began using briefly in 2014. I now am fully invested in writing in it. It’s my Dream Book, where I list and map out my dreams that I intend to pursue as goals. It’s about me overcoming fears and accomplishing what some may deem the impossible.

When I first started writing in this book I had huge lofty dreams that were being taunted and attacked by some real-life “dream terrorists”. I didn’t realize how exposed and vulnerable I was. I didn’t realize that I didn’t know what I didn’t know about the people around me and my personal and professional circumstances. I had no clue what I was facing. I had no clue the role I was playing in my own destruction.

My intuition told me to prepare myself for these attacks and for my world to be tossed and turned, trampled over, and discarded—but the dreamer in me wanted to believe that my gut instincts weren’t accurate and that it was merely fear and a need to protect self that was motivating these thoughts and feelings. I convinced myself that I was self-sabotaging out of fear of having greater than I imagined.

I was partly correct but mostly incorrect.

My dad used to tell me growing up, “listen to that faint, small voice within…that’s God speaking to you…when you ignore that voice you always screw things up…” Dad was right. When I don’t listen to that voice that we call our intuition, that voice that people say women are more in tune with than men, we find ourselves blundering and things really fall out of control.

What I know to be true about me is that I self-sabotage a lot, both personally and professionally. I can take a huge leap and then freak out because I begin to speculate if the leap was too big and “what if I can’t handle what comes next?” and so I shrink within to find a comfort zone, a neutral place, that ultimately sabotages what I really want—and that’s to fulfill and live out my dreams.

I’ve passed up major career opportunities.

I’ve avoided other career opportunities— refusing to even make the call, apply for, submit the bid, etc.

When I was in my twenties I walked away from romantic relationships that I felt were moving too fast or too good to be true, or the guy was too nice (ummm yeah, stuck on stupid I most definitely was).

But in 2014 that wasn’t fully the reason for my grief. Yes, I was sabotaging my professional life due to second guessing my abilities and if what I was doing was relevant. I also discovered that my personal “reality” wasn’t accurate and there were people around me and in my inner circle who didn’t have my best interests at heart. I realized that there was a game of deception being played and I just never realized I was the key target. I found myself pulling back and settling into a position and role that I was both unfamiliar with and uncomfortable in.

It was eating me up from within. The pain began to manifest physically and my body was under attack, but doctors in several different specialities could never ascertain what was causing the issues. I was poked and prodded for what turned out to be 18 months, and even now, three years later, no one knows what caused me so much physical pain for almost two years. All we do know is that I’m no longer in pain.

The only tool and weapon I had (and still have) to combat what I was facing was prayer. For those of you who aren’t the praying types, consider meditation or self-reflection, or anything else that positively takes your mind off of the negatives and helps you to disconnect and focus on the positives. Please note that drugs and alcohol aren’t positive releasers and disconnectors. No judgment just facts.

In 2014 my Dream Book began as a book for positive affirmations and dreaming. I used it to help me see myself and my circumstances in a different light and through a different lens. But as I mentioned earlier, I was also in denial about the attacks against me. In 2015 the attacks became more frequent yet I remained in denial, still trying to hold on to my reality and thinking that I could still live out my dreams—even though I was slipping farther and farther away from reaching them.

The public saw me in one light but my reality wasn’t even close. I began to feel like I was in quick sand and I couldn’t remember what to do to get out. I went to counseling and I will never forget what my therapist told me. He said (and I’m paraphrasing), “Natasha you’re invisible in your life. Everything is about everyone but you. Where are you? Where are your clearly defined boundaries? What do you want and need?”

My therapist was correct. I had molded myself for others but when I looked I couldn’t really see me and that’s why I had also began to lose my zest and zeal, and lose a grip on my passion. I was helping other people reach their goals, fulfill their missions, but I was no closer to reaching my own. I altered my thinking to align to others, for a cause, for a mission, but what about the things God had called on me to do? What was I doing to fulfill those things? What about my dreams that were sitting on standby? I convinced myself that my busyness was action, when it really was just quick sand.

December 2015 I was in the hospital fighting a pulmonary embolism, and I began to see glimpses of my truth. I was determined to turn things around in 2016.

I thought I knew how. I thought I was ready. Boy was I wrong….

The year 2016 clobbered me extremely hard. Literally (okay, figuratively) I got hit with a right hook the first week of January. Jeesh, who starts out the New Year with a psychological fat lip? Yours truly! It was like fighting a heavy weight contender with your hands and feet bound.

I was going through the motions and praying for positive change, but sadly I wasn’t even listening to my “boxing trainer” that was sitting in my corner of the ring. My “trainer” kept telling me to “get off the ropes…block it…hands up…hands up dang it“. Before I knew it I got rope-a-doped.

Year-end knocked the wind out of me and as I reflected back over the year I realized that with the exception of a few minor things, my 2016 was really no different than the two years prior. I was still invisible and clearly still ignorant, because I kept pressing forward thinking that the attacks against me would subside and that there was no true threat, that eventually everything would work itself out and all would be well. And guess what? To add to all of this, I was still self-sabotaging and not seeing it.

If only I had paid attention to the fact that my Dream Book had dreams that I never fulfilled because I never truly took the steps to attain them. I wasn’t actively pursuing them, I was passively wishing upon a star. I was in a rut. I never untangled myself from the things and the people that were holding me back and preventing me from having what I desired most. I never checked myself and put a stop to the self-sabotage of my professional career.

My fears were helping my attackers.

You can operate in fear short-term but it’s not a long-term strategy. Short-term it can give you the adrenaline rush to eventually build the courage to fight back. But long-term it paralyzes and destroys you from within. No one that we read about in books, watch in movies, or see in magazines and interviews are or were successful because they walked around in a constant (or near constant) state of fear every day. It’s not that they don’t fear things and have moments of anxiety and depression. It’s that they learn how to pick themselves up and push hard for what they want because they are driven by their passions. It is when they lose hope and stop living for those passions that they slowly start to die (first spiritually and then mentally and physically).

December 6, 2016 I had written in my Dream Book the things I was grateful for and the things I claimed I was still passionate about pursuing.

Then my Dream Book wasn’t touched again until May 5, 2017.

What happened?

One of my biggest fears and nightmares became my reality. I was blindsided by something that my intuition, the little voice within, warned me about years earlier—that voice that kept prodding me to be prepared, yet I ignored it. Well now the fear that was keeping me from making certain moves in the past, was glaring at me in my face and nothing I did to fight back worked. I was praying for something that clearly wasn’t meant to be, not for me, not based on the factors placed before me. By the end of January I gave up and faced my fear head on. It hurt deeply. It hurt like sudden death.

My dreams seemed shattered. Everything fell down around me and I didn’t have a back up plan. I wasn’t prepared for my world to implode. I wasn’t ready for what God had been trying to prepare me for, for a few years now.

So I took a break from all personal and professional obligations, well with the exception of keeping my household in order and teaching my college classes—because I still needed structure to keep me going strong. But everything else took a back seat.

I had to peel back the layers and look at my life and my world. There were so many layers that were merely a facade. I looked at my life and where I was professionally and with the exception of teaching at the collegiate level, my other passions were so far out of my grasp. I wasn’t jumping up out of bed excited about starting my day. I had spurts of this excitement over the years but honestly, those were reactionary moves in response to attacks made against me—they were reactionary and reflexive, a sign that “old Natasha” was still inside of me, still fighting, still trying to shine and live life fully and intentionally. It was “new Natasha” that was confused, scared, and lost.

The woman that people applaud for her public efforts, philanthropy, passion, and “let’s get it done” attitude was and still is battling the fear within that paralyzes and leans towards sabotaging behavior.

May 6, 2017 I looked at my Dream Book. I looked at how I had survived the year thus far, and I looked around at the people who were still beside and those who were no longer there. And I smiled brightly.

One of my worst nightmares didn’t destroy me. I wasn’t prepared for it but life’s earlier storms and nightmares had strengthened me enough to endure this clobbering. Two months earlier several friends, new and old, joined me for dinner to celebrate blessings, life, and my new chapter in life. The month of May I made the decision to stop with the self-sabotage, to stop being invisible, to stop being everything for everyone but me, to chase and grab ahold of those dreams, to stop being consumed by other people’s opinions, and to start being more obedient to that still, small voice within.

I know it’s a process, “one moment at a time“, as my aunt Debborah taught me a few months ago. I also know that God keeps these dreams brewing inside of me for a reason, and I don’t want to take my last breath with shoulda, woulda, coulda regrets. I want to leave here saying “dang I did a lot, lived a lot, loved deeply, and had a blast!”

The attackers in your life don’t think you have it in you, or they fear that you do, so they work ten times harder to beat the hope out of you. Fight back with action, with living, and with snatching back every dream they try to crush. This is your life so live it like tomorrow isn’t promised, because it’s not. People can only take what you give them access to. People can only ride your back if you bend over.

If you want to start your own business, get the tools and resources that you need to succeed and then go do it!

If you want to be a parent, stop waiting for perfect and just go do it!

If you want love stop running from it!

If you have a dream to be something great then do whatever it takes (positively) to make that dream your reality.

God doesn’t place big dreams in your mind and heart for you to simply skim small portions off for a nibble or two. As Walt Disney said, “If you can dream it, you can do it“. They are our dreams for a reason. Pursue them. Don’t allow anyone or anything stand in your way, not even your biggest barrier—you!

Oh and by the way, when you step or fall in quick sand the fastest way out isn’t struggling against the sand. Experts say that by laying flat on our backs and allowing our bodies to come to the surface, it actually releases the grip. There’s a lesson there. Sometimes we have to just calm down, let go, stop struggling, and allow the grip to release. When we don’t, the more we freak out and struggle the farther down we sink in the quick sand. 

Here’s to being free!

Love,
Natasha

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

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