Monday, April 30, 2012

Day 121 of Your Year to Wellness; Sons and Daughters of Life

On Children
Raise your hand if you have ever had a son or daughter in trouble. If you have not raised it you either don’t have children, have children who are really young, or they just haven’t told you yet.
Just as we got on our parents nerves, our children will get on ours. The degree and level of trouble or concern may vary but at some point in time, it’s coming.
There is a tendency though for all of us to feel guilty and responsible for the troubles of our children. I have carried pain and guilt as well. There are times when I have allowed others to make me feel even worse. I’ll confide in someone with a worry or concern about my children and they will follow up with a story about the greatness of someone else’s child.
We are judged for our children’s behavior and rightfully so, but only up to a point. If you are wise enough to understand that your mother didn’t make you do the things you’ve done, then be wise enough to see that you didn’t make your children do their things either.
The best advice I’ve ever gotten about guilt and children comes from the Lebanese-American poet, Kahlil Gibran who happens to be the third best-selling poet of all time (you can look up the other two.)

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday On Children
We must love them fiercely even if it is from a distance. For when they are old, they will not depart from what we have taught.
Before you all get to sending me notes, asking about my kids, they are fine; but I have my hand ready to be raised with everyone else’s.

Let go of the extreme guilt, worry and fixation you have about your children because while you can strive to be like them, you cannot make them just like you.

Be you, be well, be an amazing parent.

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Day 120 of Your Year to Wellness;

The Search for Satisfaction

Several years ago, one of my favorite authors, J. California Cooper wrote a book titled, In Search of Satisfaction. I looked at the book for months before I finally read it because I was fixated on the title.
Typically, when I talk about the search for satisfaction, people think I mean settling for less than what you desire. I think that satisfaction is just the opposite; satisfaction is knowing that you have all that you need.
Satisfaction is difficult to achieve in a society that that teaches “more is better.” We compete for the best house, car, spouse, and even children. Our lives are one big competition to be the envy of our neighbors.
I don’t know about you, but I’d like to be the love of my neighbors and friends.
So how do we get to the point of satisfaction? When do we know that enough is enough?
Let’s spend a moment on the lack of satisfaction. When a person is not satisfied, they will find fault in everything they do and everything someone else does as well. You can give them a new car, but they will immediately think about trading it in for something better. If an unsatisfied person says they are hungry and you feed them, they will tell you about someone else’s food and how they wished they had it. (I used to love to see someone do this when my mother was around. She would take their food from them, throw it away and tell the person to go and get the food they preferred. God knows I miss my mother.)
Because I travel a great deal, I have learned to love wherever I am. I can entertain myself with a book or a story and I always find a new person interesting. Satisfaction comes easy to me, but there have been times in my life when I have been harder on myself than I need to be. I have wanted more from me than I deserved. I hope I am making sense to you today because there’s more.
If you do not like who you are, you can’t expect better to show up.
I’d like you to write yourself a letter. I know it’s getting a little “hippy” like but stay with me.
In the letter, tell yourself what you appreciate about you. Write about your accomplishments and none of your shortcomings.
Tell yourself that right now, you are enough.
A person who is not satisfied with their own life will find it hard to be satisfied with anyone else’s. We are all connected to one another.
What I do and how I feel about myself will have an impact on everyone else around me.
Be you, be whole, be satisfied.
Bertice Berry, PhD.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Day 118 of Your Year to Wellness; Unlearning

My grown-up cheese steak

When I was a Child, I Ate Like a Child…

As you erase your mental tape of negative thinking, you must replace it with truth and Love.
In sociology we say that anything that has been learned can be unlearned; you just have to work hard at doing it. Change is not easy, but it is inevitable and I find that if you don’t change the way you need to, life will change you when you are not ready to.
I grew up in the 60s in Wilmington, Delaware. I lived in a neighborhood that was classified as mixed. Back then when you went to look for a house or apartment, the newspapers and real estate listings would indicate if a neighborhood was black, white or mixed. It’s no longer done that way, today we just have comps; but that’s a different conversation for a different blog.
My neighborhood was made up of Blacks, Italians, Jews and Irish people. This made for a rather interesting mix. As I got older, suburban areas were being developed and white flight became all the rage. My diverse neighborhood became less and less diverse and more and more black. By then you couldn’t use the racial listings but everyone knew.
Even when the neighborhood’s make-up changed, many of the old shops and churches remained. The Irish Pubs were still around and the old Jewish man who ran the corner grocery never left. The Swedenborgian church whose members believe in a God whose essence is Divine Love and Wisdom is still on the corner of North Broom Street. While the Swendenborgians are hard to find and have beliefs that are difficult for some folks to grasp (a Christian theology that accepts the tenets of most all other religious beliefs,) they are still located in my hometown, just walking distance from where I grew up.
The one thing that never left our neighborhood is a place that draws me back whenever I go home. The Italian sub shops are still in our neighborhood, although now they tend to be run by people of Vietnamese decent. I’m not kidding, the Italian sandwich shop in the black neighborhood is run by Vietnamese. I’ll have to remember that for my next novel.
Anyway, I was telling you that I loved these shops. I loved the smell of a greasy cheese steak being cooked on a grill. As a kid, I’d stand on the customer side of the counter awaiting my turn to order. On Friday’s when my mother got paid, we were allowed to have a junior sub or cheese steak an order of fries (they put the salt, pepper and ketchup on them and shook them up in a brown paper bag) and a small carton of orange juice.
The man who owned the shop was an Italian immigrant. He’d come up to you and start yelling for the ingredients of your sandwich as he was rolling the previous order in that tan butcher’s paper. “Want you want,” he’d yell. As soon as you got the order out, he’d rush you along by yelling the choices for you to pick, “Pickles, peppers, onions, oil and vinegar, come on hurry up,” He’d yell. I loved the sub guy and the smell of his shop. I watched in amazement as he moved with the grace of a dancer across the huge grill in that tiny kitchen area.
I always told myself that when he got to me, I’d be ready and would get my order out before he could yell it, but he was always faster, “Pickles and peppers, come on I don’t have all day,” he’d say.
 The sandwiches were always seasoned to perfection and cooked just right. I used to say that I wanted to own a sub shop so I could make great sandwiches. I’d practice rolling things in newspaper to see how fast I could get at doing it.
When my kids were young and I’d make them subs or cheese steaks, I’d stand them on the other side of the counter and yell, “What you want” as they tried to get their orders out. When they could not, I’d send them to the back of the line. The next person got the same treatment until the first was back in the front and could get their order in. This made the kids laugh and my mother would laugh until she cried. “These are tears of joy.” She’d say.
I’ve been a vegetarian since I was a kid, but I still love the smell of a cheese steak or a sub made and seasoned just right. I still make them for family and friends and I love seeing their faces when I do. “Wow, this tastes like one I had when I was young,” they tell me.
I hunt for fresh meats, cheeses and breads and even the oil and vinegar must be just right. I use fresh oregano and grind black pepper for each sandwich.
I hope I have made you hungry because now I’m going to make my point.
As much as I loved those childhood memories, I love being healthy even more. I still have a cheese steak at least once a week but I substitute the bread with romaine lettuce wraps and I use a soy patty for the steak. Soy cheese replaces the fresh cheddar and organic ketchup goes on the homemade peppers and pickles.
When I was a child, I ate like a child but now I am an adult and I have put away my childhood foods.
·         What food did you love as a child that you still eat as an adult?

·         How can you make your macaroni and cheese into a healthy meal?

·         What can you get rid of all together?
Take the time to reminisce, recall, recollect and remember. Take what you need and then evolve.
Be you, be well, be Present
Bertice Berry, PhD.

Friday, April 27, 2012

DAy 118 of Your Year to Wellness; Givers and Takers

Life is in the balance

To The Needy Not the Greedy

When I was a kid growing up we always had water with our meals, but there were those rare occasions when we got to have iced tea or juice instead. When we did, we would play the game of needy or greedy.
This was one of the many made-up games my siblings and I played. In this game, someone would ask for a little of your juice and you got to determine if that person was needy or greedy. We would ask a series of questions like, “Did you help me with my homework” or “did you share with anyone last week.” If the person said yes, then they were just in need, but if you knew the answers were no, then they were one of the greedy and would be turned down.
I have been thinking of this game lately; because so many people are truly in need; but then right there next to them are the greedy.
There seems to be an inverse relationship between how demanding a person is and their willingness to give. The more demands they have; the less giving they are. Conversely, the more giving a person is, the fewer demands they make.
We all know someone who only calls you when they want something; the interesting thing is; when you go to help them, they will tell you how you should do it.
So why am I writing about this in a wellness and transformation blog? Hold on, because this is going to get real good; those who are givers are often distracted by takers. It fulfills a giver to give; but when you stray away from your path to attend to the needs of others, you are not taking care of yourself.
This is a difficult lesson for a person who is inclined to give, but it is one that must be learned.
Life is about balance and we must learn to give and receive. Those who are givers will give until they have nothing left and those who are takers will take until you have nothing left. I hope you see the issue here.
Be balanced and aware that you deserve to be loved, cared for and nurtured in return.
Be you, be well, be balanced.
Bertice Berry, PhD.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Day 117 of Your Year to Wellness: Don't GIve Up

The outcome is better than what you go through

When You’re Going through Hell, Keep Moving

Yesterday, I was talking to my brother from another mother, Jerry. We talked about the stresses of life and how more and more they seem to be inevitable. That’s when he gave me the wisdom I needed; “When you are going through hell,” he said, “don’t stop; keep moving.”

There is a tendency to want to give up on a goal, especially when the regular life-stuff becomes challenging. It’s hard to do a daily routine of dancing and exercise when your kid tells you that they need something early in the morning just moments before. And it seems impossible to eat right when your life demands a cookie.

Last night, I read in the book 72 Names of God, by Yehuda Berg that fulfillment often brings complacency. In other words, when things are going perfectly well, we have a tendency to forget the basics; work hard, be grateful and share what you have and have learned.

Last year when I broke my right hand, I learned to use the left. It was a difficult challenge; I dropped and spilled things and marveled at how weak the hand was compared to the right. In time, my left hand became as proficient as its broken counterpart and I was as proud as I had been when I first learned to tie my shoes. Then the inevitable happened; my right hand healed and I went back to using it, forgetting all about the left.

Did I need to break my hand to appreciate it? Do I have to have a problem with my ears to be grateful for them? The answer of course is no, and yet I keep hearing my mother’s words when she said. “You won’t miss the water until the well runs dry.”

Sometimes, life happens. It feels like hell when it does but you must keep on moving.

Today, I’d like you to do something I used to see my mother do. It made me laugh a little at the time, but now I see the value in it.

Walk around your home, job and even your car. As you do, touch the things you see daily but give little attention to. As you do, say “thank you.”

I used to watch my mother say thank you for a chair, the stove, a window. I know now that she was reflecting on the fact that when we were growing up, she barely had time to sit in a chair. When she didn’t have money to pay the gas bill, the stove would not work and if a window needed to be repaired, she had to board it up until she could afford to have it replaced.

Don’t wait to feel like you are going through hell to be grateful; do it now. But when life feels harder than normal keep moving; do it with gratitude, hard work, respect for those who have gone before you and love for those who follow.

Keep on keeping on.
Be you, be well, keep moving.
Bertice Berry, PhD.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Day116 of Your Year to Wellness; Soul Work

My Soul to Keep

Lately, I’ve been writing about the mind and the body, today I’d like to talk about the soul. If you have a difficult time with words like soul or spirit then think in terms of the psycho-social self.
Just as a reminder, you do not have a soul; you are a soul; you have a body. The soul is the life force or energy that we are and the way we connect to others.
We need these connections for our very existence. That all-powerful research shows that if a child does not have the connections they need while developing they will not grow and mature in a healthy way. The detachment syndrome is a result of the lack of touch, holding and affection that every child needs. Without the connections, the child cannot learn to connect.
Your soul/spirit/psycho-social self needs to connect, reflect and shine.
We all have had an experience when we meet someone for the first time that seems very familiar to us. We call these soul mates, or soul connections. A soul connection happens when you meet someone with whom it is easy to share your light and energy. You open up about yourself with no fear or worry. You feel that the person “gets you” and you them.
I experience this quite frequently. I can be sitting in an airport in a section where no one else is. There’s no flight leaving from the gate and I can have the section to myself but within minutes people begin to come and sit very close to me. When I was younger, I would get upset and wonder why these folks could not just go somewhere else. There were plenty seats, but they chose to sit right next to me.
One day, I complained about this to my mother and she just smiled. “There are some spirits that are very attractive to others; you must be one of them,” she said. “Learn to act like you are.”
I had no idea what she meant. Years later when I read the book The Alchemist, I saw in one of the characters what my mother was talking about. The author Paulo Coelho and my mother were talking about the same thing. In the book the young shepherd goes to a store that is empty and then moments later it is filled with people. I have this experience quite often. People will come up to me to ask my opinion or just begin to talk.
On a plane, I like to get some reading in, but people will open up about their entire life. They will laugh and cry on a 38 minute flight and then when the plane lands, they apologize and tell me that they never like to talk on a plane to a stranger, but they just felt that they could.
These connections can happen in an instant with a complete stranger, while people we know can know nothing of us.
Today, I’d like you give deliberate thought to your soul. Why do you open to some and not others? What is it about the person you can connect with that makes your soul sing?
As you go through the day, pay attention to the people who come across your path. What is it that they desire from you? Does your light shine so brightly that others feel attracted to you?
I know, I’m asking a lot of questions. I want you to do the soul work; to look closely at the way you shine your light and how you receive the light you need.
When you are having a conversation, really pay attention. Actually listen to what is being said before you even begin to think about what you are going to say. Reflect your light and energy on the speaker until you feel compelled to share your ideas.
Okay, I know I’m going deep, but how can you talk about the soul without doing so?
Your soul plays a greater role in your total well-being than you can even begin to imagine.
When you begin to tap into your like force, you will begin to experience the reality that all things really are possible.
Be you, be well, be the light.
Bertice Berry, PhD.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Day 115 of Your Year to Wellness; Keep Learning

When I see Halley's Comet again...

Never too Late to Learn

Yesterday, I got an email from my friend Yode. She was moved and empowered by the lesson on Confidence Thieves. Yode wrote that she had been feeling down because of an encounter with one of those thieves of confidence.

At 43, Yode was able to go back to college to complete the degree program she had started years before. When she shared the news with someone she believed to have been a close friend, the woman remarked that she should feel bad for having taken so long. “It must be strange sitting in class with people half your age.” The woman told her. Yode had already punished herself for taking “too” long. Earlier in the year, she wrote to tell me that she was “finally” completing her degree. And I wrote back that this was a tremendous accomplishment at any age.
Without telling you what I wanted to say to the woman who never tried to do what Yode did, let me get to the point of today's lesson; it is never too late to learn. I live in a country that takes pride in its freedoms; the greatest being the ability to think for one’s self. But lately I’ve been wondering about why we still sit in a cage with no lock.
Whenever I scan through the bagillion television channels I am amazed that the experience is a lot like the song Little Red Wagon; “The second verse is the same as the first, a little bit louder and a little bit worse.” There is always someone screaming at someone else calling them names that have to be bleeped out even though you can always tell what had just been said.
I grew up with three channels and PBS. Somehow, we didn’t consider PBS a channel; it was a classroom. For the most part, this was all my family was allowed to watch. We could tune in to any show that had a guest black person for the night; something that was so rare, you knew that everyone in the neighborhood was also watching. The next day at school, everyone would try to mimic the steps of the Jackson Five or talk like Dianann Caroll on Julia. She was so proper.
For the most part though, my family had French lessons and studies in oceanography with Jacques Cousteau. We knew which butterfly pollenated which plant and when the next comet would appear. (By the way, I was 26 when Hallye’s Comet last showed up and will be 99 when she returns.)
“Never too late to learn,” my mother would say as she changed the channel to the PBS station. I wondered why she got to watch Columbo and Bonanza but I knew that I had better not ask.
Yesterday as I thought about Yodi’s email, I contemplated the amount of time and money we are willing to spend on how we look, what we drive and where we live but don’t give much regard for education.  
America is falling way behind the developing nations in terms of education and innovation. Our world ranking in science and math is somewhere at the bottom of the list and everyday it gets worse.
 Why then would someone try to put anyone down for wanting to learn and complete a degree?
The answer is as simple as it is sad; we don’t really value education. We like to think of ourselves as intellectuals, but we don’t want to do the work. We like our information in sound bites from Wikipedia, not from a day’s worth of searching and thinking. Rarely do we commit ourselves to doing what it takes to learn and keep learning.
I am always moved by adult learners who work and raise children while studying for exams and writing papers. The dedication required to go to college or go back after you are already earning a living is great and should be greatly appreciated.
It is never too late to learn, go to school, get a degree or just read a book.
So, I say to Yode and all of you who have joined and stayed with me on this year long quest to become your best self, “Congratulations.” Keep on learning. If you ain’t dead, you ain’t done.
·         Learn something new. Start with the idea and then spend some time researching it.

·         Find a new book on a new topic and actually read it.

·         Share what you learn with someone you love and be open to what they can add.

·         Are you surrounded by learners?

·         If not, find some folks who like to learn and join in.

While there is nothing new under the sun, there are many new things for you to uncover.
Be you, be well, keep learning
Bertice Berry, PhD.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Day 114 of Your Year to Wellness; Confidence

Be strong in who you are and what you believe

Beware the Confidence Thieves

I’m going to get right to this one. There are those who like to take the confidence of others. You know who you are. You are that person who describes someone’s accomplishment as a “little thing,” and even though you could not do the thing yourself you question the other person about why it took them so long.

We’ve all fallen victim to a confidence thief because let’s face it, they’re everywhere. People who feel a need to usurp the power of another are lacking power themselves. So they look for those who are doing their part in the Universe and attempt to take them down.

My mother used to say that if you cut someone else’ legs off, you won’t grow. You may appear to be taller but that appearance won’t last very long and then you are exposed for who you truly are.

So what can be done about a confidence thief? What everyone should do, thief included, is work to build their own house. Self-esteem is for the self but it comes from the people and ideas around you.

Surround yourself with solid folks; people who encourage your work and ideas. If you happen to be in an environment full of people who are negative and you can’t leave just yet; level the field by bringing in your own team of inspiration. Listen to music and audio books on your way to work. Meditate and reflect on all that is good and right in the world.

Read the works and stories of those who are powerful, loving and smart. Seek ways to share what you’ve learned with those who will encourage.

The more time I spend with healthy people, the healthier I become.

Avoid the naysayers and don’t allow for an opportunity to be put down. If you don’t want a negative opinion; don’t ask for an opinion from a negative person.

Those who lack confidence will try to take it from others; that’s what they know.

What you should know is this; there is more than enough love, ideas, wisdom, kindness, beauty and confidence. All we have to do is tap in.

Be you, be well, be confident.

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Day 113 of Your Year to Wellness; Not a Competition

Beauty; the other Athletic Sport

In this country and throughout the world, beauty is becoming a competitive sport. Plastic surgery used to be something for folks who thought they were getting old and less attractive and they wanted to “freshen up.” Now, 20-somethings are getting in on the act.

I recently saw a movie where the star, a young smart actor who has chosen wonderful heart-felt projects (and whose name I will not mention) appeared to have had a rather bad eye procedure. I kept wondering why he looked different and then I noticed it; his eyes has been pulled into that cat look that people often get from plastic surgery.

I think that folks should have the freedom to do what makes them feel better; the problem is our definition of beauty and feeling better have been dictated to us by those who want to sell to us.

The commercials for exercise equipment and diet programs look like boot camp for soldiers and athletes and I see nothing wrong with that for soldiers and athletes.

There is less and less concern with our Being and more and more with how we look.

It’s as if the marketers are saying, “Why be good when you can look good?”

You can have both. When you seek a transformation from within, the spark of the divine becomes a flame and then a torch; lighting a path for others. The more I transform into my true self and purpose; the more beautiful I become. My light is shining brighter than ever and I am even less concerned with the superficial self.

Avoid the race to be the most beautiful; no one ever wins. Join the race to be more humane, compassionate, intelligent, peaceful and loving.

Today, seek ways to be more you, more often.
Bertice Berry, PhD.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Day 112 of Your Year to Wellness; Taking it up a Notch

Kicking it up a Notch

It’s that time of year when the weight loss industry tells us to kick it up a notch by exercising more and eating less.

I’ve always heard that in order to increase my performance, I must increase my intensity but the Year to Wellness is not just about the body it is about the reintegration of the spirit, mind and body.  Healthy habits require habitual behavior, but anything that is done over and over again the same way day in and day out has a tendency to become mundane and routine which will often result in stagnation.

Today, let’s kick it up a notch. How can you rest more, and move better?

Whose life can you touch? Who do you need to thank and who do you need to forgive?

Increase the amount of time you spend in meditation and go to bed a few minutes earlier. Just as little deviations from a program results in great losses, tiny movements in the right direction make for big strides.

Today, look over your commitment to wellness and find ways to kick it up a notch. Don’t just look for more ways to move your body, look for ways to move your spirit and mind as well.

Kick it up a notch by being more loving and understanding. Increase your ability to laugh and to make others laugh as well.

Keep learning new things and passing them on.

By the end of the year you won’t just have a better body; you will be a better you.

Be you, be well, be whole

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Day 111 of Your Year to Wellness; What Can You Do

Jeanine and I hard at work

For Every Need a Purpose and Every Purpose a Need

My sister/manager Jeanine is an amazing woman. She has a very complex and demanding job. She coordinates and conducts the selection and scheduling of my work with finesse and compassion; sending me to places where there is a good fit. Jeanie understands that work is much easier when it’s done in Purpose and Love.
The way she does her job is amazing on its own, but then there is her side job. We often joke about the fact that it takes Jeanine 2 hours complete a 20 minute drive but there is a reason. Whenever she sees a woman with young children, or an elder standing in the heat, cold or rain waiting for a bus or walking with grocery bags, Jeanine pulls over and gives them a ride. Sometimes the surprised traveler will tell her that they have to go very far, but Jeanine says “That’s okay, get in, it’s hot.” The person is always grateful and often they make a comment about how their faith has been restored.
Jeanine never brags or tells you about her underground activity; in fact I found out about it by accident. One day, I happened to be on the road when I saw her picking up these “strangers.”
I called her right then and there and asked her what she was doing. Jeanine laughed and told me that she was grateful for her car; so grateful that she decided to share it with others. She said that the women she picked up reminded her of herself when she had to walk in difficult weather with kids and groceries. I called her Harriet Tubman and told her that she was my hero.
I’m not advocating that we all do what Jeanine does, but today, I am asking a simple yet profound question; “What can you do?”
People say, “If I win the lottery I’m going to give some to those in need.” We all have won the lottery in some way or another.
For every need, there is a person with a purpose and for every purpose there is a person in need. Are you willing to go out of your way to do for someone else what you wished others would have done for you?
I used to take pictures of single moms posed with their kids. The pictures were always beautiful and much better than the ones you buy from Sears. It was my way of doing for others what my mother could not afford to do. I have no childhood photos, no pictures posed on my mother’s knee; we simply could not afford it. So I would take pictures of other single moms and their kids so they would have the memories I wish I could have. Life has gotten more hectic and I don’t take those pictures anymore but I’m wondering why I don’t.
Today, find a way to give to others what you at one time longed for.
Like Jeanine says, no matter how tired, or lacking or frustrated she may think she is, when she gives those families a ride, the mother is always grateful and the child grows up knowing that on that day someone cared.
Find the thing that you can do and do it.
Be you, be well, be the Purpose
Bertice Berry, PhD.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Day 110 of Your Year to Wellness; I'm not playing

The Need to Nap

I used to think that my elementary school teachers were just trying to get a break. “That’s why they make us take naps.” I told all of the other kids.

My sister Chris had told me that when I got to go to school like my older siblings, I would get to learn all of the time. She knew that I loved to learn and had been looking forward to going out each day to this place called school like my brothers and sisters did. I would be able to get my education and I would get to read big books.

My first day of school was a disaster; at least that’s what I thought. I went to the kindergarten section of the building and walked in with the hopes of seeing lots of kids with lots of big books. To my horror everyone was playing. There were toys strewn about and kids were running from one play station (the area not the electronic device) to another. The teacher welcomed me in and told me to join my classmates. I looked at these little baby kids and wondered how they could be called anything but babies.

I walked over to a station where there were books but noticed that they were the thin picture kind like I’d had for as long as I remembered. I wanted books with nothing but words and school was the place where I was supposed to find them.

“Maybe this is just a warm-up.” I thought, we’ll play for a moment and then we have to study hard like my brother Brent said I would do.

After what seemed like forever to my little mind, the teacher told us to go to the cots; it was nap time. What travesty of justice was this? I had to take naps at home; surely I’d be able to stay up like a grown kid in school. I tried to close my eyes but I couldn’t and  I began to cry, silently at first but then the cry turned into the one kids do when they can’t stop themselves. You know that cry where a kid wails and wails, takes a huge silent breath and then cries some more. The teacher came over to me and asked what was wrong.

“I’m not learning nothing---anything,” I bellowed. She looked confused  so I told her that my sister Chris said that when I came to school, I would learn like the big kids and I would get big books and I would have homework and I…” I went on like this for some time. The teacher’s look turned to a smile and she said, “Come with me.”

Her assistant stood watch over the baby kids and I went marching with my teacher to the principles’ office. It was the only time in my entire school career that my behavior landed me there. The teacher told the principle, a stern looking woman named Mrs. Moses that I didn’t like school. I was about to interrupt when Mrs. Moses asked me why. I told her that I wanted to like school but the little baby kids were playing and I wanted to learn. I told her that they had to take naps and that naps were for babies.

Up until this point Mrs. Moses’ look told me that she was, as my mother would say, “not to be played with.” After I told her that I was there to learn she broke into a huge grin. She asked me if I could spell my name and I said yes. She waited for me to do it and I waited for her to hand me paper and pencil. When she didn’t, I took out my own and began to write my name. Her smile grew wider and she asked if I knew my address and so I wrote that too.

Mrs. Moses was impressed. My birthday was not until November and I was not quite 5 years old. This was back in the day when they would let you get into school a few months early if you showed the capacity for it. I had no idea what capacity meant, but I was ready.  

Mrs. Moses administered a small test and when I was done she looked it over and told me that I was going to big kid school. My heart was full of joy as she took my hand and guided me down the hall away from the baby kids and over to the big ones. I was introduced to a class of children sitting at desks like the ones my big brother Kevin had described. There on the second row was my cousin Robin. She smiled at first and then asked what I was doing there? I told her that I didn’t want to play; I wanted to come to school.

It’s still a joke in my family that I got kicked out of kindergarten because I don’t play.

I finished school early and graduated with the older kids but I have learned to do two things that I wouldn’t then; play and take naps.

The older I get, the more I know I need them and as it turns out; they are just what the brain needs to make learning easier.

It seems like that lady in the kindergarten class knew something after all. I got to learn and read the big kid books and now I get to write them too. But I can only be effective when I play and take naps.

Today, try all three, read, rest and play.
Be well, be you, be a big kid
Bertice Berry, PhD.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Day 109 of Your Year to Wellness; You are Not Alone

You don't have to go it alone

Asking for Help

If you are always soliciting the aide of your friends and your life is the result of their work, then sorry today’s post really isn’t for you.

Today, I’m talking to those, “I’ll get it myself” people. You know who you are. You are the ones who get up early and go to bed late trying to do just one more thing all by yourself.

Bill Whithers said it better than I ever could, “Sometimes in our lives, we all have pain, we all have sorrow. But if you are wise you’ll know that there is always tomorrow.” Bill’s wisdom does not stop there; he goes to tell us that we all need somebody to lean on.

Yesterday, I was reminded of how beautiful and wonderful those words are.

I am in Southern California. I’m here for work and folks who know me know that I don’t use a job as a way of hanging out with friends. I’ve got beautiful folks all over the world but when I’m in their home town on an assignment, I slip into town and then off to the next. I love all of my peeps, but I also appreciate that people fly me in to speak to them and their needs and their faith in me deserves my full attention.

I’ve been dealing with tinnitus and trying to find relief. I’ve taken all of the steps to get help, but nothing was working. My friend, Adri the beautiful has been on me to visit her father’s doctor, Dr. Shohet and Cheryl the audiologist on their team. Adri has a full life of family, work and community and I wondered how she had the time to think of me. For some old deep-seated reason, I kept on moving, ignoring the help that had been offered.

Sometimes we have no other choice than to take the hand that is offered. So yesterday, I got over my inability to accept the “hand-out” which by the way was never meant to be a bad term and accepted Adri’s offer to drive a hour and a half to pick me up, take me to the doctor, feed me lunch and allow me to teach her beautiful son how to make and play in water balloons.

Being cared for this way is not my style and now I’m wondering what’s wrong with me. Why do I feel guilty when Jeanine drives my kid all over creation when I’m out of town? Why is it that when I come home to fresh flowers and a room that has been sanitized by the world’s best worker, my sister Chris do I feel that I don’t deserve it?  And why would I feel like I was imposing when Cheryl and Dr. Shohet agreed to fit me into their already crammed schedule?

I’m sure that I am not alone in this. In fact, most of you reading this are the same way. We are fine with doing for others but when it comes to ourselves; we have a hard time accepting the deserved help.

My mother was a very proud woman; so proud that she would actually go hungry before asking for help. I understood her motives for this. The few times she did reach out for assistance, she was laughed at and put down for having “all them kids.”

Once when we literally had no food, my mother asked a relative for assistance. She sent my sister Tanya and I to get lunch assuming that we would not be turned away. The trip to the relative’s house was quite a ways, but we tried to make it into an adventure. When we got there, the relatives asked why we were there and how we had come so far. There was no offer for food or even water; instead, we were told that we and all of my mother’s children would never amount to anything.

I grabbed my baby sister by the hand and went back home. On the way, I made up stories about all of the different kinds of food we’d eat one day and then I told Tanya to tell our mom that we were treated well.

We went home hungry and that day I vowed that I would always make it on my own. “I will be something one day,” I told myself, “and I won’t need anybody’s help.”

Please know that I understand it when you folks have a hard time asking for help, but today, let go of the vows you made out of pain and open your heart and hand to receive the assistance you need and deserve.
Yesterday, I not only got the help I needed, I got the love lesson I deserved.
We all need somebody to lean on.
Be you, be well, be receptive.
Bertice Berry, PhD.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Day 108 of Your Year to Wellness

Sending Out What you Want to Come Back

I’m sitting in a car servicing place waiting for my car to get its necessary check-up and repairs. There is one small table and several straight back chairs. I’ve gotten work done here in the past, so I thought I’d catch up on some editing while I waited. As soon as I made my way for the little table, a young couple made a bee line to get there first.
I sat in one of the chairs, opened my computer and thought, “Well, this is why they call them laptops.”
As I tried to balance and write I noticed the couple whispering and laughing about beating me to the little table.
I closed my eyes and imagined them whole and even happier than they were for beating me to the table. As I did, I felt an overwhelming joy and my balancing act began to feel normal and then just fine.
I wondered why the couple had charged for the table when they saw me on my way there and I remembered what my mother used to say. “Don't you worry about what anyone else does; just do what you know to do.”
There is a passage in the Bible that teaches us to consider ways to stimulate others to acts of kindness and love. I love this passage but it often gets lost because it’s right before a passage about assembling together which is often interpreted as “Get ye to a church; preferably the one I go to.”
What if we moved through life looking for opportunities to do something that would inspire someone to do something for someone else? What if our actions were based on a desire to make the world a better place and not on our selfish need to be right, first or the best?
I’m going to keep this short and simple, because my laptop is sliding off the lap it was designed for.
Today, look for ways to inspire others at work, home and in your community. Try to do something for someone that starts a chain reaction.
Our negative behavior has an impact but so do our positive thoughts.
Part 2: Just one More Thing...
I’m sitting at a table now because I’m back at home. On my way out of the car repair place, my own writing inspired me to look for ways to stimulate others to acts of kindness and love. I overheard that the couple who ran to beat me to the table was on their honeymoon and while on their trip, got a flat tire and needed to have it repaired. As I was paying my bill, I asked the young man who waited on me how much the honeymooner’s bill was and I prayed that it would be no more than $20.00. The young man told me that it was $25. I smiled and whispered that I would take care of it. He stared at me and I watched as the tears filled his eyes and then spilled down on his cheeks.
“I do this kind of thing all of the time but it seems that I just get knocked down.” The young man said. “Today I was hoping to see someone do something nice, just one nice thing was all I needed." Then he told me that he would take off $5.00 and I felt like I had won something.

In that second I understood why the part about stimulating others to acts of kindess and love was right before the part about assembling together; for every purpose there is a need when we come together we see this more clearly.
The young man called the couple up and excitedly told them that they didn’t owe anything. The woman snatched her money back and said, “Well, I ain’t going to argue with you.”
She and her new husband ran out without a word of thanks.
The young employee asked me why I didn’t tell them that I had paid the bill and I smiled and told him that even though I hadn’t known it then, it became obvious to me that I hadn’t done this for the couple; I did it for him.
His heart desired to see an act of kindness. He needed to know that there was good in the world and that he was not alone and so did mine.
I love the way the Universe works. Sometimes the things we do for one person are really for someone else but they always come back to you.
Only send out what you want to see again.
Be you, be well, inspire
Bertice Berry, PhD.