Friday, January 13, 2017

Back to the Beginning

I’m back in the town where I grew up; not my hometown of Wilmington, Delaware. That’s where I was born; but I grew up; came of age, became the “me” that I’m still becoming in Jacksonville, Florida.

I came to JU with a prayer and determination.

Jacksonville University was an alignment of the stars. My teacher’s friend applied for me and the school accepted me even though I could not pay. Someone in the music department knew a rich dude who was looking for a student like me.

So, off to college I went. I knew no one and with the exception of choir trips, had not been away from home.

I was greeted by other JU students who introduced me to more. Then I got the magic; I was invited to think critically about everything.

I worked hard and kept dreaming, but this new world with little money was tough, so my senator from Delaware stepped in. 

He called every day for two weeks to let me know that he was proud of me and that he would help my family if I stayed focused on my dream.

Senator Biden came through and I kept going.

I worked hard and harder and graduated with honors; when no one from my family could afford to show up, the entire cleaning and cafeteria staff came to “Represent.”

My world is big because my village is big-hearted.

Being here in this place where I got the notion to have a notion, I am moved, encouraged, uplifted and ready to be the change that enabled me to change.

Be you, be well, be changing.
Bertice Berry, PhD.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Seeing Your Connections


The brilliant psychologist, Dr. Naim Akbar said that we should ask ourselves on a daily basis, “Why, me, here, now?”

I love this question. It has led me down some rather amazing pathways.

Last week, I used the question to keep me from spiraling into anger, guilt and just plain madness.

I was scheduled to work with the leadership team at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego. It is their mission “To restore, sustain and enhance the health and developmental potential of children through excellence in care…”

Their Genomics Institute is running head-long into the future, finding cures and bringing them back. I’d love to tell you more, but I can't; no really, I can't.

What I really want to convey is the fact that life is already connected and it’s our job to find out how.

I am the single mother of five adopted children. They all have differing needs and “specialties” and although they are now adult-ish, they still need me.

My life is hectic and full of surprises, but it also follows a very tight schedule.

I was scheduled to be at Rady this past weekend, but I what I didn’t know was that my daughter would discover that she had enough credits to graduate with her best buddy on the same weekend.

 I needed to be in San Diego on Friday and then again on Monday. To do the job and the graduation,  I would need to fly from Savannah to San Diego on Thursday, then take a red-eye flight back Friday night so I could land just in time for the graduation on Saturday. Then, I’d need to fly right back to San Diego early Sunday morning.

I try my best to be present and in the moment. I don’t think about a flight to leave until I am done doing what I am supposed to do.

We spend so much time thinking about the next thing, that we don’t truly engage with the thing that we are doing.

But, I’m talking about connections, so let me get to it.

On Friday, when I rode up to the campus of Rady Hospital, my mind flashed back to 20 years ago. In that moment, I saw myself rushing from a flight to that same hospital to be with my daughter after an ENT surgery.

Back then, I’d felt bad about not being on time and I felt guilty for being at work in the first place. I said this to Autumn, my escort and beautiful conductor for that day’s event. She looked at me in surprise and said, “Do you know the name of the surgeon?”

I told her no, but I’d remembered his kind face.

She smiled and said, “I bet that’s him.” She was pointing to a man who appeared to be gliding across the hospital campus grounds. “That’s Dr. Kearns, he’s now the CEO.”

I thought, this can’t be happening. What are the odds?

For me, they are pretty high. I’m always seeing and finding connections. We all can.

We are so busy focusing on what we have to do next, that we can’t see the life connections that are right in front of us.

I went from being exhausted from just thinking about all of the flying I would have to do, to remembering the day I came rushing in for that surgery.

Then later that afternoon, I really got the magic.

After I spoke to the leadership team, Dr. Kearns came up to talk with me. He’s tall enough for me to need to really look up. He was talking to me and at one point, he looked down into my eyes and touched my shoulders.

I’m crying as I type this, because when he did, I was flooded with the same emotion I had 20 years ago.

Back then I  felt guilty about not being at the surgery and then I felt bad for being late. When I’d got there, my daughter was in recovery. She still had bloody bandages on and she had just woken up. She looked as if she wanted to say, “Why did you let them do this to me?”

I was crying when Dr. Kearns came in. Once he discovered that the new person was actually the mother, he touched my shoulder and told me that everything was fine and she was better than okay.

I told him that I should have been there and he actually said, “Don’t do that to yourself, it’ not good for her or for you.” And then like some kind of surgery ghost he was gone.

Life is full of déjà vu’s and connections. We don’t see them, because we don’t want to.
We spend more time seeing separation than we do connections.

Here’s the thing; life is already connected.

Look and see.
Be you, be well, be why, me, here, now?
Bertice Berry, PhD.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Dealing with Guilt, Shame and the Past

Dreaming and Imagination

New Tools for Dealing with Guilt and Shame

Yesterday, I heard a sermon from the very brilliant Rev. Helen White.

Helen is one of those power-house folks who catches you off guard. She’s small of stature with a beautiful and open kind face. Her voice is soft and soothing and she delivers what appears to some as a small tap but to others the perfect combination of a one-two punch.

Helen weaves story and scripture so well that her listeners are laughing one moment and chastised the next. 

Here’s the thing though, you never ever feel corrected; you only feel loved.

In yesterday’s sermon, Helen crept up on a subject I’ve been dealing with personally and professionally for at least 40 years; how to deal with guilt and shame.

In Power vs. Force: The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior, David R. Hawkins’ wonderful treatise on emotions and their corresponding vibration/energy, Hawkins points out that the lowest emotional vibrations are those of guilt and shame. They not only add nothing to the world around you, they actually suck the energy from the room while diminishing the energy of the guilty and shameful party.

Helping folks move beyond guilt and shame into a purpose-filled life has become my mission but you can’t get to purpose when you are burdened with the guilt of the past.

Helen, offered a beautiful and unique approach; dream your way to a better outcome.

Instead of wallowing in the past; instead of going around and around the same sin/fault over and over and over again, imagine a better outcome. See yourself going down a different path.

 Imagine what you’d like to do and become. Be as specific as an artist painting and sculpting the smallest detail. Don’t just use your mind to turn another corner, use it to see the entire layout of the city.

Dream of all of the wonderful possibilities you can live.

As I pondered Rev. Helen’s sermon yesterday morning and into the night, I began to think about those who never fall into guilt or shame. They do not possess the over-stimulated conscious. They lack what Freud called the super-ego; that thing that serves to remind us of our moral correctness.

These sociopaths and narcissistic individuals have already imagined themselves to be above it all. They are already perfect in God’s and everyone else’s sight. They see no need for forgiveness, because they believe that they have never, ever done anything wrong.
They are entitled to whatever they take and have created a story befitting of their illusion.

We need to feel guilty when we have wronged ourselves and others, but most of us have wallowed in the guilt for so long that it has gone beyond the job of correction and moved us into a space of mournful regret and depression.

Feel the guilt, ask for forgiveness and then imagine yourself going down a different road. Take time and meditate on another possibility. See the road so clearly that it becomes your choice the next time and the next.

Instead of wallowing in guilt and shame, create new outcomes and opportunities for yourself and forothers.
See your way clear.
Be you, be well, be free.
Bertice Berry, PhD.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

A Special Request...

Happy Birthday to Me
Teach Something, Share Something, Do Something

Well I have a big birthday coming up. It’s not big because of my age, but big because of the age and time we are living in.

This is a time of change and transformation and you have a choice; be a part of the change for the better or not. Choose wisely.

Typically, when folks ask what I’d like for my birthday, I tell them world peace.

This year, I'm giving instructions.

For my birthday, I’d like for you to teach something you know, share something you possess or do something that you can for the Greater Good.

But wait, there’s more.

I’d also like you to spread the word. Take a picture, write a post or just tell someone about the good you’ve done. Good news travels fast and I’d like it to move at the speed of light.

Tweet about it, post it, snippy snappy chat with your friends.

Be the good that we need to feel and see.

The opposite of fear is not security; it is love.

Let’s love the world right.

Use the hashtag womeninpurpose and tell me Happy Birthday @DRBERTICEBERRY on Twitter.

That’s it. That’s what I want, need and desire more than anything else; for us do so much good that others feel the need to do the same.

My birthday is Saturday, November the 12th, but I celebrate for a month, so you can do.

Be the change we so desperately need to see in the world.

I love you.

It’s my birthday, it’s my birthday, it’s my Earthday.

BE you, Be well, Be in Purpose

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Energizing Your Spirit

Reenergizing Your Spirit: What’s Missing?

Last weekend, after a long and exhilarating week of travel and work and meeting amazing folks who were doing amazing things I was, in a word-- exhausted.

One would think that the last thing I needed was to do anything, but that’s exactly what I needed.

I needed creativity and young folks who laugh at seemingly nothing only to reveal a meaning deeper than I could have known.

I needed creativity and understanding and I needed hope.

So when I got the call to give a 5 minute talk at my church, another to take care of my granddaughter and one to get together with a group of great young minds, I could only say “yes.”

Because what sounded like more stuff to make me tired, was in truth the stuff that I needed to lift me up.

I needed to wrap my mind and creativity around a parsimonious representation of the heart of my spiritual community. 

I needed the infectious smile of my granddaughter and the squeal she makes as soon as she sees me.

My soul and mind deserved the gathering of young, energetic and wise lights who could hold 5 conversations at once and listen intently to all of them.

Energy begets energy and light begets light.

If you are tired and weary, exhausted from doing the thing to do the thing and then drained from actually doing it, try the following:


Be Creative

Smile at every child you see.

Stop and listen to the laughter of children.

Surround yourself with young folks and actually hear what they are saying.

Read a book.

Watch a documentary.

Listen to a book.

Know that you are loved.

Be you, be well, be ENERGIZED
Bertice Berry, PhD.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Real Issue

The Real Issue:
Can You Be Happy for the Happiness of Others?
Can you genuinely be happy for someone else’s success? Don’t answer too quickly. Take a moment and ponder this question.

When you hear that someone has fallen in love, gotten engaged, is having a baby; when you see that someone has lost weight, gotten a promotion or graduated do you immediately think of all they’ve been through or do you only see the outcome and wonder about their secret advantage?

We have been fed on the notion of competition and comparison. It’s not enough to get exactly what you want, we’ve all been brainwashed into wanting what others have.

Before you know it, we’re all jealous of someone else. This is bad enough, but to make matters even worse, we’ve all come to believe in the theory of the “unfair advantage.”

Now, we think that the folks who’ve been the disadvantaged have somehow become the advantaged.

All attempts to right hundreds of years of wrongs are seen as handouts to an undeserving minority of folks who have never ever worked as hard as you have and therefore did not earn what you so rightly deserve.

When you look at things through the eyes of equality, you can see that privilege is not the issue; entitlement is.

When we argue that we deserve something because it’s always been that way, we are arguing for the right to be entitled.

The whole this is mine because of who I am is the core of entitlement, and entitlement comes from a diet of keeping up with the Joneses, the Kardashians, the Hiltons, and anyone else you think of as having IT.

If this all sounds too simplified, then just sit with it for a day.

Try to go about without thinking about what someone else has and then try hard not to wonder how they got it.

Try your best to be happy for each and every piece of good news and then try even harder to not gloat when someone misses their own mark.

Our stuff runs deep. It lives in a pit of despair and fear about you not being good enough.

Wake up to the fact that you are wonderful as you are; that you deserve what you work for and we all can be and have our just deserts.

There has never been one pie that only feeds a few. There is so much more and even more to be discovered.
Be you, be well, be your own.

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Gratitude: A State of Being

On Gratitude

I just a big lesson on the difference between being grateful and being possessive.

As I walked out of my home for what could have been the last time, I came to a definitive conclusion; I am not my stuff.

Last week, the folks of Coastal Georgia and Haiti and Florida and Haiti, South and North Carolina, Haiti and did I mention Haiti, experienced the devastation of Hurricane Matthew. While the storm has long gone, we are all still dealing with the aftermath (especially the folks in Haiti.)

Streets that were here are now blocked by the huge oaks that once lined them. Power lines and sewage have tainted the drinking water and then there is the mold.

So where is the gratitude in all of this?

Being grateful should not be reduced to clichés and comparisons. If I had a dollar for every, “It could be worse,” or “At least you have your power back,” I could really make a difference in Haiti.

Gratitude is a foresight and possessiveness is hindsight. When we look back on what we had or what we think we might have had, we miss the opportunity to see what can be.

Gratitude is a window of hope. It is not an act, but a state of being. Let me be more direct; either you are grateful, or you are not. Gratitude is not one and done. You are not truly grateful one moment but not the next. Being grateful is a lot like being nice. When you are a nice person, others feel it.

Ask your own self the following:

Do you see possibility for goodness or fear the worse?

Do you live in fear of those who are different or do you seek to (re)connect?

Do you work on the foundation of the future or are you obsessed with the next big or flashy thing?

Can you be happy in the moment or do you your emotions rush to the part where you know the good time must end?

Grateful is a state of being. We have become possessive creatures who can only be happy when our stuff outshines someone else’s.

Know this; we are all connected and we are connected to everything.

The tree that fell yearns for its roots and the fatherless child who was killed by that tree yearns for the root of all beings.

Be Grateful.
Bertice Berry, PhD.