Monday, May 27, 2013

Week 21: The Fourth Side of Wellness

We need We
The Fourth Side of Wellness

Last week was the first time I missed writing this weekly blog. I was in Boston at the National Teaching Institute with 7500 people who belong to the American Association for Critical Care Nurses.

My computer had crashed and I had no way of writing. Still, I was so filled by the energy of the folks at that conference that I rarely even thought about my computer.

My cell phone worked and it was filled with text messages and calls from friends who all wondered if I was okay. This takes me to the point of today’s post; the fourth side of wellness.

For years I’ve been thinking of wellness as the realignment of the spirit, mind and body, but after reading William Danforth’s book, I Dare You, I have come to see that we need a fourth side; the social side.

In a book he wrote in 1953, Danforth rightly points out that no one side should diminish the other and that if the individual is well, they must belong to a well collective.

I’m a sociologist; I know that the self is social. I also know that for years, I have created community wherever I have lived.

I must admit that for the last several years, I have been more to myself.  The death of my mother and of one of my children led me to be much more solitary when what I needed was to be more connected.

Don’t get me wrong, I have loads of friends and connections that are strong and highly regarded, but before now, my house was the center of much activity on a regular basis.

We need these social connections to be well. We need a village, and a professional association that allows us to gather with like-minded people who experience what we do.

We need to come together on a regular basis to hug and laugh and sing How I Got Over; my soul looks back and wonders how I got over.

If you are a birder, join up with a group. If you love to sing, find a local group of amateur singers.

Most people feel that their church is their gathering but a gathering where only one person speaks is not a gathering on equal footing. You need a social circle (if your church is your club—well alrighty then.)

Join up, gather, sing, dance, party, cry, laugh, read, teach one another, share, confide, eat, move, learn and laugh some more.

Last week, when folks reached out to check on me, I realized that I had created another community; this one was all over the world and through the internet.

In order to be who I am, I need you.

In the Zulu language when someone says I see you, it means you have come into existence because you have been seen.
The response to being seen is simple, “We are here.”

BE well, be social, be connected.

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Art of Living Week 19: Give It Up and Keep Living

What Would Your Give?

If you were told that you would die in a few days if you didn’t give up something, what would you do?

Would you give that thing up or would you say, “I’m done?”

Well, I know that this seems like hypothetical question but in reality, it is not.
The truth is big things don’t snatch away our lives and its fullness; the little things do. More accurately, it’s the lack thereof.
So today, ask yourself this “What are my little things?”

             Going to bed late
Not resting when you need to
Burning your candle at both ends

           Not drinking water
Not exercising (6 weeks of Insanity does NOT count)

Not getting hugs

Not saying “I love you” at the end of your calls

Not getting at least 10 minutes of fresh air everyday (driving with the windows down does not count.)

Not giving and getting love

Not laughing

Not eating grains, vegetables, proteins, vitamins

Not seeing the doctor and or naturopath

Not getting massage

Not stretching

Not sharing what you know

Not learning new things daily

Not having a real bath regularly

Not being in nature

Not being at peace

If you are not doing these things you are not taking care of yourself. This list could be longer but then I would not be able to go pee. (Yeah, add that to the list.)

Be you, be well, be living

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Purina A Dare and Me

The Art of Living Week 18

Purina, A Dare and Me

I live with my eyes wide open, expecting the unexpected, knowing that around every corner is the  possibility of a lifetime, but nothing could have prepared me for the opportunity that I came crashing into on Monday.

I was in Saint Louis preparing to speak for the Women’s Leadership Forum for Nestle Purina. I had already learned that the company was founded with the purpose of improving the lives of pets and the people who love them.

I had a feeling going into the event that the women there would be very special, because their call and purpose was special, but I had no idea of the impact that this visit would have on my life.

When I checked into my room, I was greeted with a goodie bag filled with bottled water, protein bars and a book.

I assumed the book was about animals or animal rescue so I decided to rest my brain for a while and look at the book later.

Somehow, the book kept calling. So I opened it and a small slip of paper fell out. It was a note from the Women’s Leadership Forum welcoming me to Saint Louis and to Purina. That sweet little note compelled me to read a few pages. I started and didn’t stop.

I Dare You, was written by William Danforth, the founder of the Purina company. He was born in 1870 and lived until 1956.

As a boy, Mr. Danforth was sickly, but a teacher dared him to be the strongest boy in the class and he took up the dare and accomplished the goal of health.

While reading, I learned that the Purina checker board represents the building blocks of Danforth’s philosophy, one that will now be mine. Life, Danforth teaches is made up of four sides, the physical, mental, spiritual and social. These sides are balanced; one does not diminish the other. The real value of life is not in having, but in sharing what you have become.

I could go on, but I want you to find a copy and apply it to your own life.  I will tell you this; when I was in the airport on my way back home, a man saw me re-reading the book. He walked over and smiled and said,” I thought that was my old friend.” The man had a winning smile and an amazing personality. He said that he’d read the book back in the 70’s and that it had changed his life.

He told me that he traveled all over the country lecturing and doing training for an engineering company; the principles were way beyond my comprehension, but I smiled and tried to keep up.

The man told me that he would not have been able to do any of this if it had not been for the book I Dare You. “I didn’t use a computer until I was 55,” he told me. “I keep learning and just don’t stop.”

 The man was talking, but I was trying to figure out what he was saying. If he had been 55 when he started using a computer what was he now, I wondered.

“You look no more than 56,” I said. He told me that he was 70. I looked at his round firm biceps and straight back. I had seen his agile movements and the way he glided over to me. His face was smooth and his smile bright.

“There is no way that you are 70,” I said in amazement. He smiled and again said the book changed his life and way of living.

Okay, so here’s the thing. I went to talk to women in leadership at the place that makes my dogs very happy and I walked away forever changed.

Find the book and get it. You will be so glad you did.

Be you, be well, I dare you.

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Art of Living Week 18: Pace Yourself

Pace Yourself

Last week, I met a woman who told me that she was just tired. I asked her to elaborate and she began to weep. She said she was tired at work and tired at home. She was just tired.

I knew and understood what she meant. My mother used to call it, “being sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

I felt for this woman, but I had to tell her the truth; her choices were making her tired but she could choose something else.

Life is hard, but it can be hard good or hard bad---pick good.

When I clean for an hour, I am exhausted. When I dance for an hour I am exhausted and exhilarated, so I dance while I clean.

My mother died at the young age of 87. No one ever guessed her age, not even when she was extremely ill. She always looked refreshed and renewed.

“That’s cause I know when to rest,” she would say.

People think that getting old gracefully is all about the genes, but I think it’s about the pace with which we live. If you are alive, then you are aging. Learn to pace yourself.

Yesterday, I got up early and got ready to work. I was tired and wanted to rest, but I pushed myself to fill my day off with the things I wanted and needed to complete.

I could hear my mother admonishing me about burning my candle on both ends. I could hear her saying that even iron wares out, and I could she her dancing.

Whenever we had a party, my mother would dance with every person there. She dance up to someone and with fingers popping, she’d ask, “You want some of this?”

Everyone marveled at her ability to dance all night, but I knew her secret; she had prepared all week for this one day of dancing and she paced herself through the dance.

My mother made it look like she was tearing up the floor, but in truth she was barely moving.

She knew how to pace her dance because she had learned to pace her life.

Yesterday, while I was scolding myself for being lazy, I recalled the fact that I had been working since I was 12.

I remembered the woman who cried out loud because she was tired and I recalled my advice to her, and I chose a path of rest.

Today, I am up and ready to work, but my work will be much better because of the rest.

If there were more than 24 hours in a day, many of us would kill ourselves. We don’t need more time, we need to learn to use the time we have more wisely.

Pace yourself and you will go much further.

Be you, be well, be wise.

Bertice Berry, PhD.