Monday, January 28, 2013

The Art of Living Week 4---Seeing God

Seeing God

Last year, I wrote a blog every single day without ever writing about religion, and this year, I plan to do the same.
While I will not touch your organized religion, I want you to touch the essence of God.
There are many who follow these posts who do not believe in God, and I must say that there are some days when I can totally understand why.
Those of us who call ourselves believers have often reduced God to a man in the sky; one we use like an ATM; going to “him” when we are in need of a “special” blessing.
We use this God to win at everything from a football game to an unnecessary war. (Don’t even get me started on the idea of “necessary.”)
The God that we hold up has hands and legs and walks around like Santa checking on whohas been naughty and who has been nice, all the while dispensing out goodies for those “he” loves.
We are at best hypocrites and at worst unbelievers, because while we claim that God is omnipotent; able to do all things, we do not believe that folks can change, that love is real or that we have to play a part in our own existence.
So this week, I’d like you to expand your horizon and see God. God is all-knowing, all powerful and everywhere---so see “It” that way.
See God in everything; the face of a child, the plant on your desk, the running of water and the bird on a wire.
See God in everything and everyone and recognize that saying that God is neither male nor female, that it is a Spirit is not enough. You Must believe IT.
This week:
·         Get a copy of Seeing God by my friend Thomas A. Williams, PhD.---you will be grateful when you do.

·         Practice the presence of God in you---know that you are more wonderful than you can imagine

·         Take a moment for the arts, music, dance and any artistic expression; see God in it.

·         Each night, write a list of the miracles you witness---hint: the more you open your eyes, the longer your list.

·         Share your insights with someone with love

·         Write a letter to God and please tell her that I’ve been good. (Okay, I’m kidding but if you think I’m in trouble with God, read this post again---or just pray.)

I see God in everything and everyone and I know there is more to be revealed.

Be you, be wonderful, See

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Taking in The Joy---You Need To Be Thankful

So much to be Grateful for---starting with getting up

You NEED to say Thank-You

I have written about gratitude many times before and I will write about it again and again.
Gratitude is one of the most powerful forces in the Universe. I think the only one greater is Love.
Gratitude balances the ego. When you feel that you have received something that you don’t deserve, this is ego. When you feel you should have received more or better; this is also ego.
I love the story of the ten lepers who are healed by Jesus. Only one comes back to say thank-you. Jesus looks down the road and says, “Weren’t there nine more?”
Jesus did not need to hear the thank-you; the lepers needed to say thank-you, because the one who came back was made whole. All ten were healed, but only the one who showed gratitude was made whole and complete.
Gratitude completes the transaction. It makes us whole. Gratitude is the faith that says I’m good and I believe that I always will be.
Our lack of gratitude for the everyday things makes it hard for life to show us the amazing things.
If you are having a hard time taking in the joy, try gratitude.
Look up at the sky and just say thank-you. Talk to a plant or tree and say “Thank-you.”
Smile at a child and be grateful for the cycle of life. Look at the stars and humble yourself in gratitude for things you don’t even comprehend.
The beginning of joy is to be the joy.

Be joyous, be grateful, be whole.
Bertice Berry, PhD.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Taking in the Good ---Getting Older and Loving It

 Taking in the Good—Getting Older and Loving It

This week I took a redeye flight  from Los Angeles back to Savannah. I used to love the redeye; flying late and arriving early allowed me to make the most of a full day.
I thrived on only 4 hours of sleep and the flight allowed me just that. A few days ago, I discovered that a redeye is no longer in my comfort zone. I woke up with a migraine and felt like I couldn’t move.
I laughed to myself as I thought of how quickly things had changed. A few days before, I got into a sports car like the one I had before I got my children. I had ridden the two-seater as long as I could before I had to get a nice roomy van.
When I got in that sports car, I thought back to my life before I took on the responsibility of 5 children. I recalled how unattached I was; how I could pick up  at a moment’s notice and travel the globe when I wanted to.
After a few moments of looking back, I decided to get out of the car but I had a hard time doing so. I laughed so hard that when I finally rolled out of the car, I had the revelation I needed.
My life before children was wonderful, but now it’s better. When I was younger, I was amazing and now I am down-right marvelous.
Getting older can be hard or it can be wonderful. You can resist the change and look ridiculous or you can embrace the joy of knowing that you are still here. If  you ain’t dead you ain’t done.
You still have lessons to learn and wisdom to pass on.
I hear folks who talk about being old before they even get there and I know some who try to ignore the subtle nudges of time acting as if their jeans are not too tight, their heels not too high.
Life has a way of reminding us of who we are and where we need to be. Take care of your temple and it will take care of you.
I’m 52 but I tell folks that I’m 60--- I get more compliments.
Take in the good of your youth, your age, your ability to move and celebrate the fact that you are here, now.
Be well, be wise, be good.
Bertice Berry, PhD.


Monday, January 21, 2013

Taking In Joy---Art of Living Week 3

Taking in Joy

Last week, I wrote about seeing the good, this week I’d like you to begin the practice of taking it in.
You’d be surprised, or maybe not to find that we internalize the negative much more readily than we do the positive.
We tend to gravitate to the news about a fallen star, a lost child, or a politician gone rouge. Rarely do we get excited when we hear about a child who is at home with their family, or a celebrity working to end poverty.
Even when the good news hits home, we are afraid to get “too” happy fearing that we might lose our moment of joy.
Because we have learned to be afraid of being too happy we must unlearn the behavior and replace it with one that is more beneficial and helpful to our well-being.
Every day we have the opportunity to see the joy that life offers us. We are too busy, too tired, or too caught up in our fears to see what is really real.
Yesterday, when I went out to get the newspaper, I noticed something I had not seen before. Tiny purple flowers were growing across my lawn. I smiled as I remembered the line from the book The Color Purple. “If you see the color purple in nature and don’t feel something, God gets pissed,” the writer Alice Walker wrote.
I stopped, noticed and then decided to go even further. I went out across our lawn and picked the flowers. They were beautiful. I wondered why I had never seen them before and realized that they were most likely seasonal but I had not bothered to notice.
I brought in a handful of the flowers and then wrapped them in a ribbon. When I took the newspaper to my sister Christine, I handed her the flowers and was rewarded with the biggest smile.
This week, I’d like you to notice the things you have not seen before and then I want you to go a step further; bring the joy of the newness inside you. It may be collecting flowers or collecting smiles. 

·         Make a mental or written note of the good stories you hear.

·         Look at your own life and think of the good you have done for others.

·         Think of the good you have done for yourself

·         Take notice of the beauty in nature and look more closely.

·         Pay attention to the joy that is around you and take it in.

This week and everyone that follows, pay more attention to the good, the joy, the love, the light than you do to things that are not.

As you begin to see and appreciate the joy that is around you, you will create more in the Universe.

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


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Each Breath---Art of Living Week 2

Each Breath

Today and every day that follows remind yourself of just how wonderful life is.

In the midst of whatever is going on—life is wonderful.

In the midst of pain and hardship---all will be well.

When you are ready to quit---breathe and know that with each breath you are alive and Life is waiting for you to be more aware--

More real
More You
Just wanted to let you know that Life loves you---
And I do too.
Bertice Berry, PhD.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Art of Living: Week 2--Seeing The Good

Seeing The Good

In this weekly post, I hope to share wisdom, tips, ideas and reflection exercises that will enable you to challenge yourself on a daily basis to live more fully.
Read the posts a few times each week and begin to deliberately practice the life you desire rather than experiencing or reacting to what you feel you’ve been given.
Last week, I wrote about awakening to the world around you and today I’d like to share the practice of seeing the good.
Before you get lost in a game of semantics as to what is good and who gets to define it and before you are tempted with that other game of distraction called “Yeah But;” as in “Yeah but, you don’t know my life,” or “Yeah but I’ve had it hard;” try to simply hear the lesson and then work through your barriers afterward.
Last weekend I had a series of events that seemed like the proverbial week from hell but I decided to see it as the week from heaven.
It started when my bank card was compromised. I had no card to use for money on a weekend when family members and friends were visiting. Later that evening, my children were in a bad car accident and so we had no car. Then our oven was broken and we all looked around to see who had the bad luck charm.
A few days later, my sister Chris missed a step and fell backwards down our steps crashing into the railing and dislocated her shoulder.
Surely something was amiss in the Berry household, but we chose to see it another way.
My cards were compromised, but my bank noticed the problem right away and shut them down. It would take another 5 days to get a new card, but the fraud had been stopped immediately.
My kids had a car accident, but they were completely unharmed and while they had been shaken, they called their Aunt Jeanine who not only came to their rescue, but also helped them get the car towed and got them back home safely.
Our oven was broken (by one of the visitors) but I was able to get it replaced in a day. The repairman did not sell ovens, so when he told us replacement was cheaper; we knew that we were fortunate to have called an honest person. More importantly though, we learned that a fuse had been burned out which could have caused a huge fire. What seemed like a loss was actually a blessing.
My sister’s fall caused her a great deal of pain, but it could have been much worse. She received wonderful care from everyone who responded and we were grateful.
There are three things in life that are inevitable, death, suffering and change. If you try to avoid any of them, you will encounter even more. However when you are grateful, you reduce the amount of unnecessary suffering and hardship.
My family and I could have wallowed in the series of events but we chose to see them as a way of rising above and for seeing the good. We were grateful for the help and love of family and strangers who prayed, assisted and gave guidance.
Here’s the thing, we are wired to recognize and remember hardship and danger so we can avoid it. But we have also been given a measure of compassion and grace.
Where trouble abounds, grace does more so. Where there is hatred; there is also love and kindness.
When someone cuts you off in traffic, someone else will let you in.
It’s often difficult to see the good, when the not-so-good has a spot in the front of your brain.
Look left and then right and see that all will be well.
This week, ask yourself the following:
·         Where’s the good?

·         How can I rise beyond what is happening to me and see what is happening for me?

·         What can I learn from my past and the past of my ancestors?

·         How can I be better?

Life happens; we can learn or we can smile and learn.
Be you, be well, be good.
Bertice Berry, PhD.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Horse Kiss: Grateful for Work

The Horse Kiss

Are Your Grateful for Work and Those Who Work With You?

Last night, I heard a most wonderful story. My friend Adri called to share a story I had been waiting to hear. I knew that Adri’s family was from Italy but she had grown up in Brazil. The story of how they got there is most amazing.
At the end of slavery, Adri’s great-grandfather was lured to Brazil with thousands of other immigrants. They were all given then promise of building better lives if they would replace the free laborers who had worked as slaves.
Adri’s maternal grandfather had just been a young boy when he finally escaped the hardships of what turned out to be a trade very similar to today’s trafficking or “white slavery” as it is often called.
He worked hard as a carriage driver, pulling a taxi cart that people rode in.
One day, after working many years and providing for a family, he was able to buy a horse. Every night he would wash, brush and kiss his horse.
Adri’s mother was a little girl then and would wonder why her father was kissing his horse. One day, she asked her gentle and kind father why he did it.
What he told her got me up and out of my bed actually needing to share it;
“This horse did the job that I had to do for many years. I know how hard it was, so I am grateful.”
I hope you are grateful for your job, the people who work with you and for those who pulled the cart before you got there.

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

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Art of Living--Week 1 Waking Up

Taste and see that life is good

Waking Up

I went to bed in anticipation of getting up to write this new blog. Writing every day for one year has given me discipline I didn’t even know I lacked. It also gave me a fresh perspective on life; one that recognizes that I had been walking around looking at every moment as if it had already gone by, or as if I had already seen it before.
Now, I approach life as if everything is a new possibility, a new opportunity for growth, awareness and love; for what else is there.
I hope you will join me once and week to learn and then continue to practice throughout the week.
Here we go.
We have been sleepwalking through our own lives. The sad part is, we don’t know and can’t remember the dream. So when it comes to really living, waking up to life is the first step.
I am often reminded of the character Neo in the movie the Matrix when he asks why his eyes hurt. “Because you’ve never really used them,” he’s told.
Today, as you drive to work or walk around a room I’d like you to look for something that you’ve never seen before. Find something that has been there, but you have not noticed.
Marvel and be amazed that the place you’ve passed a hundred times is suddenly new.
There is a passage of scripture that says God’s mercies are new every morning. I live on the marsh; it is never the same. Each day, colors change, marsh grass grows, matures and falls giving way to new marsh grass.
Birds, I’ve never seen appear and visit our feeders or fly over our home in a new path. I am and will always be amazed.
When you fail to be amazed by life, nature, children---you become boring to your own self.
When I hear people say, “I am not impressed.” I quietly laugh to myself as I think of my mother’s line; “People who need to be impressed haven’t done anything impressive.”
Be moved by life and all that it offers. “LOOK WITH YOUR SPECIAL EYES.” See that life is good.
Wake up to the world around you:
·         Turn off the TV—shut it down at least 2 hours before going to bed. I know you go to bed with TV, the internet and solitaire---I love the spider version. Use your mind as a means of entertainment, especially as you prepare to reboot it.

·         Smile for no reason—As you shine your light on others; others will shine on you. Much of what you have perceived as a bad reception is really a poor offering of yourself. (Sorry, I had to be the one to break it to you, but somebody has to.)

·         Share what you see and learn with those who want to see. This is the hardest lesson. Sharing new thoughts with negative folks will often bring you back to where you started. They will rain on your parade and you as well. Start with folks who have tried to share new ideas with you. Your new ideas and thoughts will be received in the spirit with which they were given.

·         Write, talk, journal this journey as a way of reflection.

As you go through this week make your own observations about how a new perspective brings new behavior.

Be you, be well, be awake.

Bertice Berry, PhD.


Saturday, January 5, 2013

Why Higher Goals Bring Better Results

Set New Goals, But Keep Your Standards

Before we can even talk about staying focused on the goal, we need to have that discussion about how to set the goals. We’ve all been told to set realistic goals and to then to go for them, but that’s basically it. There’s lots of motivational information, great calendar tools and for you young-heads who don’t like to use pencils, there are APPS, but when it comes to defining the goal in the first place, there is not a great deal of good information out there.

For the most part, our goals are set by someone else; the weight loss or insurance industries tell us how we should look, while Drs. Phil and Oz tell us how we must feel. For 25 years, Oprah and before that Wall Street have told us what we should want (I don’t think I need cashmere pajamas, I’m already hot.) While our parents, pastors, priests and imams tell us what to believe.

There is a point in everyone’s life when we must step away from the mainstream to find our own path. We really do need to do some soul searching today to think about what it is we want, for ourselves, our children our family and friends, our work, community our country and our world. Think about this for a moment and when you do you will see that the politics of a Republican are pretty much the same as they are for a Democrat; they vary, no two are alike and they have more in common than they want to believe. Men and women have the same hopes and dreams for their lives and loves and gays and lesbians are just as straight as a heterosexual is queer. By now you are wondering what this has to do with goal setting but stay with me I’m getting there---we all have goals that have been determined for us and they are pretty much the same as they are for everyone else, but I want you to really dig deep.

Today, take a step back and see what you want for you. I’d like you to think higher than you ever have. What is realistic for you is not realistic for me. Go beyond your real-line and let’s see into the beyond.

The reason we have a hard time staying focused on our goals is because too often they are not ours in the first place. When I moved beyond the goal to lose weight and set a goal to be well, I not only lost more weight than I initially thought was possible, I created a wellness plan for others to follow. I reached the goal and then set another to assist and guide those who yearned for more than physical wellness but who sought to be totally well.

So how do we stay focused?

· Shut out the noise---I’ve said it before and I’ll keep on saying it; avoid the negativity that turns your eyes from your prize. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stopped something that works for me because someone walked by and said “Don’t do that it doesn’t work”, or “That’s a myth,” or “That’s crazy.” My life reads like a fairytale. I set out to do things that seem impossible to others but for me they seem like, okay why not. Erase the tape in your head that says you can’t and keep singing. (This little light of mine…)

· Replace the tape—whenever you remove something negative, you must immediately replace it with something positive and true or the old idea will come right back. When I see my children struggling, I am tempted to believe that they will always struggle, I erase the thought and replace it with the truth that they are already doing better than anyone would have expected for them; that we all struggle sometimes and that everyone has their own path. The moment I hear the truth for them, I see it for myself as well.

· Practice your outcomes—Before I started the Year to Wellness program, I imagined what I would look like, then I imagined what I would feel like; I imagined it so much that when it happened it took me by surprise. Take a moment each morning to give your acceptance speech for having won the goals of life. Who would you thank, and who would you encourage?

· Celebrate small milestones—Celebrations are a necessary part of every journey. Too often though, we meet a goal and just keep moving, never stopping to enjoy the moment. Make the time to reward yourself with the joy you need. The first time I was able to go to the movies without eating popcorn was a major hurdle. It may have seemed like a little thing to someone else, but I knew that it was the thing I needed to get over most. That very day before I went home, I stopped to purchase something to mark the occasion. I thought it fitting that I found a pair of earrings with evil eye charms; Nazars are charms worn or hung in a home or work place in cultures around the world for protection from the “evil eye”, or envy of others. I wear mine as a reminder that I need not envy or compare myself to others; that my goals are my own and that I should allow no one to hinder me. (I get to pick my own goals and my own celebrations.)

· Keep your dreams close to your vest—I believe that it’s important to stay quiet about the amazing goals you are setting, however, I also feel that it is important to share your hopes with those who love and adore you, for they will guard and care for your dreams as if they are your own. These people will pray and think of you throughout the course of their lives and will help you to realize them.

About a month ago, a dear friend shared her heart with me. She told me that she had reached the point in her life where she knew she was ready for love. She had raised and loved her children and their friends fiercely. She’d been an example and teacher to many and had lived a life of love and now she told me, it was time for someone to come and love her. Just one day before, I had heard a similar dream from a close brother friend. When my sister shared her dream, I sat straight up and said “I see my purpose.” I introduced them by phone and let life and love take over--and it has.

Set your own goals and stick to them. If you fall off the horse, or out of the car, or bike or pogo stick, or miniature pony or off an emu---okay you get the point; get right back on. Otherwise, fear will take hold and you will not come to the place we all need and desire; the place where we truly love ourselves and all that is around us.

Be well, Be true to you, Stay your focused.

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Don't Be Weary in Doing Well

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Doing the right thing at the right time can be very tiring, but then again doing the wrong thing is also exhausting (which is why you are reading this; you are tired of being tired and want to be well.)

Standing up for what is right can be a rather lonely venture. (Just ask Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcom X, Jesus Christ, William Wilberforce, Mother Teresa, John Brown, Harriett Tubman, The Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela…I can’t stop myself, counting people who do good is---well, good.)

Throughout history, there have always been those individuals who make the decision to do the right thing when others do not. When you read their stories, you can see that while their actions were right by today’s standards, they were not popular at the time. It’s very easy to stand with a crowd; to do what others are doing, but standing alone to do what is right in your heart is a completely different matter. It is lonely and it is tiring.

I have gone on an extended fast for many years. I use the time during the holidays to focus and cleanse my mind and body. Too often though, this has been a burden to those around me. I never make an announcement or proclamation. I have never required or asked anyone to join but somehow, my practice of separation and fasting was causing others to be upset. I asked one friend why she was so bothered by my fasting and she said that it made her feel bad.

I wondered how what I was doing impacted her and she went on to tell me that eating alone was not fun, she needed me to eat with her. I have seen this same reaction when I tell people I don’t drink. I have been asked all kinds of questions, “Is it religious, are you in recovery, does drinking make you act crazy.” No, no and no I just don’t drink, but somehow, my not drinking was affecting friends who did. (Bless ‘em.)

We all have our own journey, and as I have stated previously, “What I eat won’t make you go.” What is good for me may be harmful to you. We must allow for one another’s ways without letting them be a hindrance to us.

Which takes me back to my original thought, your good, may not be the good of Jesus Christ, or Ghandi, it may be as simple as what is good for your body and spirit right now.

 If not having cookies is what is good for you, do good. When you do, it may seem like you are in a corner alone, but as you become your best self, others will see your light and want it as well.

When you do the right thing by standing up for someone who is being bullied, or by not joining in on the laughter of harmful jokes, you may not be popular, but you are right. Right now, no one will applaud you and they may never, but doing what is right is your ovation. It may be tiresome but eventually you will find that it feels good. It will lighten your load and enable you to see in to the realm which the majority has overlooked.

You are here to make a difference on your surroundings. If you want to change the world, work on changing you.

Be Well, Be Authentic, Be Wonderful, Be You

Bertice Berry, PhD

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Coming Soon


I hope you all have enjoyed reading The Year to Wellness

Starting Monday, I will begin a weekly series: The Art of Living; The Process.

Life is for living and living and living to the fullest.

We have a finite amount of time here, I hope to guide you in using it to its fullest.

See you Monday.

Until then, check out the posts you may have missed this year.

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