Monday, December 30, 2013

The Art of Living: Forget The Resolution; Dream Extreme

Not Cuba, but it's a start
Dream Extreme

            A few weeks ago, I watched a documentary about the life of Diana Nyad and her XTREME DREAM to swim from Cuba to The U.S (Read More about Diana)

            I had heard about the amazing athlete and had seen footage of interviews with her after completing the incredible feat but to be honest with you, I had been like, “So what? Why do adrenalin junkies always have to rope me up in their amazing lives?”

I had no idea what I was talking about. I was misjudging the success of another, simply because it was something that I would not do.

As the documentary unfolded, I learned that as a child, Diana had suffered terrible and repeated sexual abuse. Her 35 year struggle to swim from Cuba to the U.S. was in part, a way to get rid of her shame and guilt about being violated.

Time after time she tried to complete the Xtreme Dream, and time after time she came closer and closer.

As the documentary unfolded, I learned several important things; that to do anything in life, we have to let go of the extreme defeat of our past and hold fast to our extreme dream.

For this you need a partner, a team, discipline, preparation, all of the tools necessary (you may even have to invent them yourself,) and most of all you have to keep believing.

This year, instead of a resolution; why not dream?

Take your heart and mind to the most wonderful place you can imagine. Make a list of the things that are keeping you for getting there and then take the necessary steps to arrive at your destination.

The only person you can change is you, but when you do, you light a pathway for others to follow.

Let go of the guilt and shame of your past, and dream.

I love you.

Be you, be well, be dreaming.

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Art of Living: Christmas Reflections

Reflections: A Story of Christmas

            When I was a kid, I wished and hoped that Santa could be real. By the age of 5, I knew that he wasn’t. In a drunken rage brought on by poverty and hopelessness, my mother proclaimed for all to hear that there was no Santa, that she was the Santa and that Santa didn’t have a damn dime.

As cruel as this all sounds, it was a gift; one in a series of backwards proposals of motivation for the things to come.

Undeterred by the words of a woman who worked 12 hour shifts in a nursing home overcrowded with elderly patients with money but no memories, I somehow understood that my mother’s ability to believe had been stolen from her. Raising seven children on your own with little formal education or support will do that to you.

At night, I’d wish on the star outside my window. I wished that my mother would stop drinking, that I’d one day I’d have a father and that I would be able to leave that place and go to college.

“Star light, star bright, the first star I see tonight,” I’d say the first part out loud but the wishes I kept to myself. My siblings would laugh and mock me, but I kept on wishing and I kept on praying.

Then one year, a man named Mr. John was sweet on my mother. That Christmas, I got my first real present. Before then, I’d get fruit and nuts, pajamas and underwear. There were new socks and if things were a bit better, my mother would be able to get us a sweater from Goodwill and maybe even a coat.

“Be grateful for everything,” my sober mother would say. “You have life and health; we are all together with a roof over our heads.”

The smell of turkey filled our home and I had expected more pajamas and underwear, but I was elated to see that my mom and Mr. John had gotten me the one thing I wrote down in a letter to Santa. I was 12 at the time but I still needed to believe.

There under the tree that had been purchased early that Christmas morning, “Cause they are cheaper that way,” was my red typewriter.

I wrote on it every day and prayed that Mr. John would hit one of the numbers he played, be my daddy and send me to college.

But as my mother would say, “If wishes were horses everybody would ride.”

Mr. John did something my mother didn’t like and she sent him away. The ribbon on my typewriter ran out of ink and I couldn’t get another one.

I stopped wishing and started working but I didn’t give up my dream.

My mother did stop drinking, and then one Christmas as a present, she stopped smoking too. A stranger named Terry Evenson became my benefactor and helped me go to college. I met him at my graduation, and from that day on, he became a father to me, and Pop-Pop Terry to my children.

He and my mother are gone; they died just one year apart. They are in that cloud of witnesses that I talk to each night when I look up at the stars.

This Christmas Eve, gather with your loved ones or call them on the phone. Tell them that you love them, that you are glad that they are well, under a roof, not hungry and healthy.

Give love to someone who wants it and lend a hand to someone who needs help.

Keep wishing, hoping and praying and never stop believing.

Be you, be well, be joy.

Bertice Berry, PhD.


Monday, December 23, 2013

The Art of Living: Influence vs. Power (A Christmas Story)

Influence vs. Power (A Christmas Story)

I recently had a conversation with a one of the wonderful thought leaders from Linkage.(Read More about Linkage) 
We discussed the urgency for real power among women. She pointed out that we needed more women in board rooms and as CEO’s making the decisions that would positively affect other women’s lives.

I agreed, but I also knew that being in a board room or c-suite was not enough so I told her so.

“We need purpose,” I told her. She reminded me that she had done the research and found women tend to be much more purpose driven than men and I agreed, but that’s like saying that Bill Clinton is more black than Hillary Clinton.

She asked what I thought the answer to the power struggle would be and I told her about my graduate school housemate’s research.

Dr. Bernita Berry (seriously, we were both accepted at Kent State, the same year; they thought we were the same person) wrote a dissertation that must be studied by anyone concerned with power for women.

She looked at the triple jeopardy theory which argued that if you are woman, poor and black, then  you have the least amount of power in the US. Bernita added age to the pot and studied old, poor black women.

She was surprised and delighted to find that these women were anything but powerless. They determined the buying habits of 3 and sometimes 4 for generations of folks. They demanded respect in their communities and churches and even when everything around them was rundown, they were held in high regard.

When you look more closely at the research findings, what you have are women with influence.Though invisible to the dominant members of society; these women were the real stake holders and were shaping the future.

They were like the women of Bahia in Brazil; the Irmandade Boa Morte, or Sisterhood of the Good Death, who from the time of slavery until now secretly work to set the captive free.
These women were the folks in the Bill Withers song Grandma’s Hands.
Grandmas hands, soothed a local unwed mother. Grandmas hand played the tambourine so well. Grandmas hands used to issue out a warning; she’d say, baby don’t you run so fast, might fall on a piece of glass, might be snakes out in that grass, grandmas hands.”

The women used whatever they had to make a difference.

So here’s the Christmas part; Jesus Christ was not born into a powerful family with position and wealth and yet thousands of years later, his message of love and kindness has influenced the world. The message is so influential that others have tried to claim it as their own for power.

Today, if you feel that you have less than what you’d like to have; be it wealth, power or prestige, think of what you can do to influence others and make a difference.

Whose heart can you heal? Whose mind can you change? What difference can you make?

Be you, be well, be influential.

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Art of Living: Why Not Start With Love?

Start With Love

As you are preparing your hearts and minds for the holiday season, I’d like you to consider love.

I know, I know, Christ is the reason for the season and you are putting him back into Christmas and all. So while you are decorating your Christ tree and shopping for Jesus’s presents, I’d seriously like you to consider love.

Last night as The Family ate dinner, the subject of love came up. Some thought that you should grow into love, while others said that you can fall into it quickly.

My nephew Robin pulled up a quote from a friend that read, “You only die once; you live every day.”

We pondered the thought and then my other nephew Nick asked, “What are we doing with our everyday? Are we loving enough?”

We thought about someone’s grandmother and decided to simply call her. It was the love she needed to get through the night. My niece talked about her recent break-up and so we assured her that she was beautiful and wonderful, then we told her that we loved her.

One of my nieces (I know I have a lot---I'm so loved) had an online class to go to and so we gave her the love she needed to endure something that she didn’t want to do and continued in love.

“Why wait to fall into love,” someone asked, “Why not start there?”

I love (get it) this radical approach to a life that get to do every day. What if I decided to love my new doctor, before my foot has healed? What if I loved my neighbors and coworkers as Christ (you know the dude that Christmas was named after) told us to.

We start with skepticism, jealousy and fear, but love is none of those things. We walk around demanding that someone earn our respect and admiration even when they have not done anything for us to deny it.
We live a life of “prove to me that you are worthy”, when Jesus said you already are.

Why not start with love?
When I love someone, I am less judgmental.

When I love someone; I am much more forgiving.

When I love someone; I am much more kind.

When I love someone; I am less likely to hate my own self.

Start with love and you will start your new life right.

Be you, be well, be loving

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Art of Living: Seeing Things As Though They Are

Seeing Things As Though They Are

I’m still reveling in the celebration of the life of Nelson Mandela. More than a few folks wrote to tell me that they too were moved by Mandela’s ability to see beyond the possible. Mandela believed that no matter how difficult the task; if it was righteous, than it was inevitable.  

I marvel at the fact that President Mandela began to write his book The Long Walk to Freedom while he was still in prison. He’d been there for more than two decades and yet he knew that he would not only be released, he also realized that he would need a plan for the transition of a country that had been locked in oppression.

We all have things we desired to see happen. What if we approached them as Mandela, Lincoln, King, Wilberforce and Mother Teresa? What if we viewed our condition as a temporary state on our way to completion?

I’ve recently dealt with a great deal of injury and illness. I’ve had to go through the growth of my children and their issues and concerns. I’ve confronted family matters and matters of the heart, but today, I see them as resolved.

I am anxious for nothing and count every trial as joy. I see my desired state as the state that I am already in.

We go through life with the attitude that we will believe it only when we have seen it. Know this; you cannot see until you believe.

Mandela looked beyond the end of Apartheid and began to see Reconciliation. WOW! Even before the oppression had ended, he had already begun to say, “I forgive you.”

Today and every day that follows, I’d like you to go ahead and forgive yourself—then I’d like you to see yourself as forgiven. Walk in the belief that you already are what you desire to be.

The love you need is now.

The life you want is in front of you

The loved ones you crave are with you.

The joy you seek already exists.

See your success now and you will be ready for it when it is made manifest.

Be you, be well, be seeing.

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Thursday, December 5, 2013



On February 11, 1990, my mother called. “Turn on the news,” she yelled, “Wilson Madilla is being released.”

I laughed and told my mother that she was confused. Although I had protested, and taught my students about the inevitable end of apartheid, I had a hard time believing that it could be true.

I did as my mother told me to do and was rewarded with a sight that still thrills me. Nelson Mandela had in fact been released from prison.

Years later, when I went to Robbins Island and stood in the tiny cell that had imprisoned Mandela for 27 years, I was amazed that intellect and compassion could ever grow in that hard place.

Today, when I heard that Mandela had died,  once again, I had a difficult time receiving and believing the news. My mother and Mandela were both born in 1918 and I somehow expected them both to be with us forever.

There is a level of life that very few achieve. This level is only realized when a person dedicates their entire being to being in purpose. They give their all.

This kind of living requires that you believe that your goals are actually possible.

We cannot hope for change; personally or globally without believing that change is not only possible; it is inevitable.

Mandela went beyond the goal of ending oppression and onto the realization of reconciliation.

He gave his all and as a result was able to see that all things are truly possible.

Be you, be well, believe.

Bertice Berry, PhD.  

I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.` Nelson Mandela

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Art of Living: More Than Enough

More Than Enough

Yesterday, I met a woman who reminded me of the things and folks we often forget.

Nick, one of the Sunday Family members, decided to bring his 84 year old grandmother, Mrs. Ruth Divine. Grandma Devine moved at the speed of light and told stories that lit my heart.

She came in baring gifts; hats and potholders she’d crocheted herself. My kids and I knew a good thing when we saw it, so we began to fight over who would wear which hat. When I realized that I had turned into a 10 year old, I turned back to Mrs. Devine and hugged her in gratitude.

What I got back was a connection to a life that had seen more things than most people will ever be open to.

Mrs. Devine had raised and “took in” at least 14 children. She had buried two husbands to two wars and had also lost some of her own children. Still, she was joyous and reminded me that the loves that have left are still with us and we will see them again.

My son softly played his guitar in the background and I could see my mother and daughter smiling from the other side.

“You need to play and sing,” Mrs., Devine said laughing, and I could hear my ancestors laughing too.  
We ate the meal my daughter prepared and no one wanted to leave. We were full of the love around and in us and I was struck wise with the notion that when we come together, we have and are enough.

I’m going to make a special request and I hope for your sake that you take me up on it.

This holiday season invite love into your home. Spend less time running around for things you don’t need and spend that time with the folks you do.

Gather with people of different backgrounds; race and age. Talk to the folks you know and yet don’t really and when you do you will discover that you have and are enough.

As I gathered with all of these wonderful folks, I was not old or young; fat or thin. I was not ugly or beautiful, nor was I lacking. I was and am enough.

Come together in love and you will have everything you need.

Be you, be well, be enough.

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The real Black Berry on Black Friday
What Will It Take For You To Love Yourself?

A few years back I lost a tremendous amount of weight. I did it deliberately with great intention. People are often amazed by the fact that I could lose 150 pounds; I’m more amazed that I had it to lose.

When you understand how you got somewhere, it’s easy to figure out how to get back.

After a great deal of research into what the weight loss industry just doesn’t want us to know, I came to see that for me weight gain was a result of stress gain. Because I am genetically predisposed to being fat; stress takes me there.

If you are predisposed to being thin, then when you are stressed, you will lose weight.

The most amazing thing I discovered during that time of weight loss was how little I wanted to shop. I truly needed to. Each week, the clothes I bought the week before became so big that I would look like and old rapper.

Still, I took them in or wrapped myself in a belt and kept on losing.

The less stressed I got, the more I liked myself. The more I liked myself, the less likely I was to want anything more.

Stay with me, because I’m really going somewhere. I need you to understand that there is no conspiracy to make us buy stuff. There is no hidden agenda to make you fat. There is no secret plan to make you unhealthy.

It’s all right out in the open.

The unhealthier you are, the more likely you are to feel that you are not enough.

Being fat didn’t make me not like myself; not liking myself made me fat.

If you don’t see yourself as wonderful, beautiful and powerful as you are, then you will never be satisfied and you will long for joy outside of you and your own control.

Today, instead of standing in a line, waiting to buy things I don’t need, I’m going to stay at home and love the person I have already become.

I’m wearing a pair of earrings I bought years ago. They sit in a tray waiting for the right occasion. That occasion is right now.

On this special day, decide to be:

Less stressed and more loved.
Less angry and more understanding.
Less of a hoarder and more of a giver.
Less of what someone else wants you to be and more you.

You are beautiful, powerful and wonderful; just as you are.

Be you, be well, be wonderful

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Art of Living: Making Thanksgiving Matter

Making Thanksgiving Matter

I love Thanksgiving. It’s my favorite holiday. This is a day filled with thoughts of gratitude, family and food; what’s not to like? (Okay, maybe the whole stealing of the land from the First Nation folks and all. As the saying goes; “If you look at anything too closely it will break your heart.”)

On this day, folks in the U.S take time out to actually articulate what they are grateful for. For a moment, the nation’s vibration is sky high and even without booze or the turkey’s tryptophan, we feel that everything good is possible.

Then just as quickly as it came, the feeling goes. Someone needs to stand in line for stuff they don’t really need, while grown men argue over a football game that is as predictable as the one from last year or the year to come. Someone will bring up ObamaCare also known as the Affordable HealthCare Act and all hell will break loose.

A kid who’s been watching it all will wonder if she will end up like this, but then will go back to making a list of more stuff that someone needs to stand in a line for.

A woman tired from cooking will wash dishes and wonder if the one who came with her son will offer to help her in the life she both loves and hates and no one’s even talking to grandma.

Still, this day brings us closer to seeing that we already have and are enough.

If we could just spend a little more energy on gratitude and a lot less on stuff, that vibration of endless possibility would linger and we could make the world a much better place.

So let’s you and I do what it takes to really turn the tables. Change only needs a few to get the movement started.

         Tell someone you love them.
Listen to an elder
Laugh with a child
Serve someone in need
Listen for ways to agree
Know that you are wonderful
Be grateful for all that already is
As my mother would say, today is just another (BLEEP) day; it’s you that makes it special.

Be you, be well, be full of thanks.

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Joy, Unspeakable Joy

How To Get More of What you Say You Want

Research and my mother have found that the things that give the most joy tend to be simple and peaceful. Too often though, they go unnoticed and therefore unappreciated.

Last week when I looked more closely I could see that I finally had what I'd been looking for:

A movie that taught me something

 An “I love you” from an almost adult child

Dinner with a “family” of beautiful people

A doctor’s good report for my brother/friend

The sound of my son playing his guitar

 The sight of my daughter making homemade cranberry sauce for 200 homeless folks

 Watching my dogs play

A sermon that turned my old thoughts upside down

A call of appreciation for the work that I have done

Letting go of an old pain

The embrace of a new friend

I didn’t buy, seek, or need anything more. I was filled with joy.

Start making your list of the joy and peace that you have right now. Look at the list and say thank-you, for what you give attention to expands.

Leave trouble alone and grab a handful of joy and peace.

Be you, be well, be peace.

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Need Help? Ask For It

Look out; I've got collards
The Problem With Not Asking

Hi, my name is Bertice and I have a hard time asking for help (Hi, Bertice.) Okay, now we can start the meeting.

Asking for help has not been my forte. I am the daughter of a very proud woman. My mother would go hungry before she would ask for food.

I am not hungry; far from it. But during the last four years of my life, probability has stepped in and I have experienced more illness and injuries than I have all the years before.

I am not bothered by this. I have not asked "why me" because I know the answer; I was due.
Prior to now, my life has been practically free of illness. Recently though, I have had to deal with a head injury, and a bunch of other trying things, but I am still very healthy. I have no chronic disease and everything I’ve had to endure is reversible.

Still, I have a hard time being sick, slow or in need of help. Old injuries re-injure so I have to endure the business of a big boot on a foot that has not healed.

My children don’t understand the concept of me needing to sit down, because well, I have not sat down.

This week, when I went to buy groceries, my daughter insisted that I ride the little hover-round cart that the grocery store provides. (She also insisted that I stay in the car, but let’s just deal with the cart thing.)

I didn’t want to use the cart, but a torn tendon hurts so after a painful limp through produce I complied.

The cart was difficult to drive and I kept backing into things, but I quickly noticed something that I would not have on two feet; when asked, most folks are quick to help.

Now, I know I live in the place where hospitality was born, but still, I was amazed by how folks would run to help even before I asked for it.

People engaged me in conversation and reached for items I had only looked at. Children smiled at me, as if to say, “Hey you have a stroller too.”

The folks who work in my grocery store asked what had happened and then told me that they would be praying for me, while strangers shared stories of their time in the boot and the cart.

My daughter took charge in ways I had not allowed and I laughed at my own ignorance.

More than one person offered to help to carry our groceries to the car and I quickly realized that maybe the problem is not getting help, but asking for it.

So I need your help with something. This week, I’d like you to join me in an experiment in making the world more beautiful. I’d like you to ask for help.

Ask someone to assist on something you need help with. Ask for directions, or for guidance. Ask someone to share a story or to sing you a song. (Okay, make sure that last one is from someone you know.) Ask for a hug or a joke or a designated driver before you start drinking.

Ask for advice, peace, wisdom and joy.

Maybe it’s not that we don’t love each other; but that we don’t ask for, expect, or wait for the love we need.

I’m just a student in this thing called life, asking you for a little help in living it.

Be you, be well, be vulnerable.

I love you,

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Getting Old? There's An App For That

The Older Jazzier Me
Getting Old? There’s An App For That

Tomorrow is my birthday; 11/12/13.

There’ something rather wonderful about making it this far. When I was in the fourth grade, I calculated how old I would be if I made it all the way to the year that would give me these wonderful numbers. When I realized that I would have to be 53, I thought about how ancient I would be.

When you’re a kid, 53 really does seem ancient and so far off that you think it's impossible. Well, I’m almost there and yet somehow, I’m not as ancient as I imagined.

I had planned on taking a wonderful trip and then an old foot injury that had not healed landed me in a boot, unable to take the hiking journey I had hoped to take.

Old injuries must heal, or the slightest thing will open the  wound. This is true for both the body and the soul.

So where was I; oh yeah; getting older, they say that the first thing to go is…

Last night as I gathered with the motley crew known as “The Family,” we laughed about love and life and anything that could make us laugh. I blew out the candle on a red velvet cake my daughter made and said something about being old. That’s when Robin the 29 year old 6 foot something engineer/MBA/motorcycle enthusiast/ my new nephew decided to show me how old I could be.
Using the Old Booth App that all the other young folks knew about Robin showed me how I could look.

We laughed some more and once again I could see down the road to even older.

There’s something about getting older that makes me want to jump for joy. I still hold the memories of that kid in the fourth grade. She was lonely and sad and wondered if she’d ever make it in life.

She did, she does and she will.

Getting older is the gift; enjoy it.

Be you, be well, be older and wiser.

Bertice Berry, PhD.
11/12/not so old

Monday, November 4, 2013

Stop Majoring In The Minor

Do I really need this tiara?
Stop Majoring In The Minor

Leander Morris, my High School music teacher, would often tell his students that they were majoring in the minor. For years, I didn’t understand what he meant.

If we were arguing about integration and bussing, then we were “majoring in the minor.”  (By the way, I grew up in Wilmington, Delaware.  My schools were not integrated until the year after I graduated in 1979.)

If we were discussing whose church choir was the best, then we were “majoring in the minor.”

And if we dared to discuss things like, boys, sports, clothes or stuff we wanted, well then according to Mr. Morris, we were not even in the minor league.

As I have mentioned, Mr. Morris was a music teacher and one would think that a person whose life work had been defined as minor would be more careful about where he put his labels.

Many years after I graduated, I asked Mr. Morris what he meant about the whole major, minor business and he said this:

“Minors are things that enhance the majors, but the major is the thing.” I had already been to undergrad so I understood only slightly better, but I was still not completely sure of what he meant.

My face must have registered this because he went on to say that life was too short to spend worrying about things that didn’t matter in the big picture of life.

That day, I took his words to heart. I began to focus on bigger issues and concerns. I began to look for ways to make the world a better place and I found that when I did, my desires were also met.

A few days ago, when I heard myself tell my daughter the same minor- major thing, I laughed and then took the time to explain.

I told her that she should take an account of her thoughts for one hour. At then end of that hour, she should make an account of where her mind had wandered.

I’d like you to do the same. Do you overcare about things that are just not that important?

Do you think about an enemy you have created?

 Does your mind wander to things that have not happened, but you believe will?

 Do you think about how fat you just keep getting, or how small you were when you were in your 20’s?

Are you fixated on a love life with someone else’s spouse and how much greener the grass is on the other side?

Are you worried about who will be in the playoffs and what the next season of your favorite show will look like?

Take note of the thoughts you wake up with and the ones that take you to bed. Decide where your thoughts should be and your energy will follow.

There is an ancient Arabic proverb that says when a person seeks their purpose, the Universe conspires to answer.

Get out of the minors and into YOUR major.

Be you, be well, be lived.

Bertice Berry, PhD.


Monday, October 28, 2013

Leading The Way

Sunday dinners with The Family
The Art of Living

Leading The Way; Why We Can't Complain About Young Folks

 Alright boys and girls I'm going to get right to this.
I'm really getting tired of hearing folks who are my age, the AARP age, complain about young folks. They say they are lazy, idealistic, unrealistic know-it-alls who know nothing.
Well, I don't see it that way. These young folks, our young folks know a lot. They have the ability to tap into information in ways that never existed before.
Younger folks tend to be compassionate and caring and have a desire to be fully engaged.
They are also missing out on some very important things 
That's where we come in. It is our job to be the guide. 
A few weeks ago, a friend told me about how his parents would take in anyone who needed a place. As long as there was room in their home, there was a place for someone who needed it. He went on to say that when the elders die, it is an end of an era. We then must take up the slack.
Right then, it occurred to me that my generation has been sold a new brand of aspirations; we are being sold a second youth. 50 is no longer 50, it's 35.
We are not older, we are embracing the little child within. Instead of teaching young folks we are out trying to reclaim the youth and beauty we didn't appreciate when we had it.
So where does this leave the 20-somethings? Who do they learn from?  
Recently, I've began hosting dinners on Sunday nights for a group that calls themselves, "The Family."
 It's a group of young folks who come together to laugh, learn and share their week with one another and with me. They are smart, hard working and compassionate. When I am with them, I am encouraged about our future.
Each week, I learn new things that I would not have found on my own and every week, I am able to help these young folks "see their way clear."
 Someone  did it for me, I must do it for them.
I know I'm not old, but I am older than them. They need me and I need them.
What can you do to guide, encourage and uplift a young person. You've had your chance; give them one and you will get another.
Be you, be well, be leading the way.
Bertice Berry, PhD.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Journey Into Your Authentic

The Journey Into Your Authentic
"Know yourself and you will become known."

My name is Bertice Bessie Berry. I never like telling folks my middle name. I don’t care for it, but this is about being authentic, so now you know. I was named after Bessie Smith and Bertice Redding, both singers, both strong and independent women.

            The old folks used to say, “Be careful what you name a child, because that’s just what you will get.” They were right.

             I am a sociologist, author, lecturer and mother. I have worked as a cleaning woman, resident assistant, comedian, educator, researcher and counselor. To earn money I have braided hair, called bingo, picked fruit, done inventories, sang, and performed in community theatres. I have volunteered in my children’s schools at nursing homes, juvenile halls and prisons. I once co-owned an art gallery and used all of the earnings to help families in need. I am a mentor and friend and guide to many. I have suffered abuse, rape, neglect and hunger. I grew up poor but am not now. I have no living parents and have suffered the loss of a child. I am none of this and all of it at the same time and I am me.

            I am my heart and my head; a sentient being on a journey called life and I love this existence.

            I am a straight black woman in her fifties and yet I am not my orientation, race or age.

            I am funny and irreverent and generous to a fault. I am loud when I laugh and quiet when I cry.

            I am spiritual being striving to be human, striving to be Christ-like even though I don’t yet fully understand what that means.

            I am great at making money and lousy at keeping it. I can keep a secret I don’t like and give away things that I love. I’m exceptionally good at getting people to open up and have been known to have strangers tell me their deepest darkest fears. I’m as good a talker as I am a listener, but I know I talk too much. I love to sing to myself and will do so for strangers. I am an introvert forced to be an extrovert. I get along very well with others and enjoy being alone.

            I love to read and have a hard time letting go of a good book. I write daily but not as a routine. I love nice clothes and hate to shop. I am simple and complex; a well hidden open book.

            I like myself. I like my hair or the lack thereof. I like my big butt but hate the cellulite that comes with it. I adore abs and my tiny waste. I love my eyes and my smile and I am a fan of my own arms.

            I am constantly learning, but I know for a fact that the moment I deny myself to myself is the moment that I stop being authentic.

Who are you?

            Describe yourself in one short sentence and then do it in two pages. What are your strengths? What are your challenges? What do you like, love and adore about your physical self? What are you challenged by? What have you done and what do you do? What are your talents and abilities and what makes you smile? If you could have been anything, what would that have been? How do you learn best and what ignites your passion for learning? What do you value and what are your value characteristics? Who and what do you love?

            The more detailed you are with describing yourself, the easier it will be to see who you have left behind.

BE you Be well BE Authentic

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Excerpt from the upcoming book The Journey Back to Authentic