Tuesday, July 30, 2013

When Life Gets in The Way

Smiling at life---without make-up
When Life Gets in the Way

Yesterday I had the opportunity to replay some of the pain that falls onto every life.

For a moment I felt really low, but within seconds, I reminded myself that this pain had been a temporary occurrence and that with each and every downpour there had been a lesson, a lifting and a rainbow.

As I was able to see more clearly, I immediately started making a list of the good. I began to smile and decided to add to my list those not-so-joyous moments. I was counting it all joy and when I did, I could see how the pain had enabled the love to shine brighter.

I don’t want to be in your head all day, but when something happens that is not what you’d like it to be; stop and get in your heart. See the light that shines there and see the good.

Be you, be well, be getting better.

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Wake Up and Dream

Awake and dreaming
Wake Up and Dream

Last night I had a nightmare. In it all of my naysayers stood around me telling me that I was dreaming and that I should stop.

They were all of the folks who have told me to stop dreaming; stop living; stop being.

My entire life is one big dream that keeps getting better when I believe, work, learn and do.

I told the naysayers just that and they laughed at me. Just when I was about to allow my feelings to be hurt, I noticed something; their laughter was not real. It was that uncomfortable laughter folks create when they realize that you know something that they don’t.

One of the naysayers stopped laughing and came and stood by me, then another and another.

Only a few were left shaking their heads, telling me to stop dreaming; to wake up.

So I started laughing because I remembered that I was dreaming and that what is real is what I define as such.

So wake up and dream. Conceptualize the dream and work hard at it.

Surround yourself with people who love and support you and your dreams even if they don’t understand them.

Everyone dreams; some just don’t remember.

Imhotep did, Einstein did, Mother Teresa did, Martin Luther King did.

Dream, learn, work, do and dream again.

Be you, be well, be a dreamer.

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Friday, July 26, 2013

You Know You’re Getting Old When
Yesterday, I had one of those moments, not the hot flash or memory loss; those things happen to lots of folks all of the time.
I had a moment that told me that age was just around the corner; I heard a song from the 90’s and thought of it as current. I was on my way to my dance instructor who went to High School in the 2000’s and had never heard of Loretta Lynn.
I called a music download an album and told someone in their 40’s that they had no idea who young they were.
Although I still run up the high set of steps to my house, beating my 20 year old, I have to search for the house keys when I get to the door.
Life happens in stages or waves, depending on how you flow.
Let getting older come in like a wave and just ride it.
Be you, be well, be wise.
Bertice Berry, PhD.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Taking A Chance

Taking a Chance

When I look back over my life at the moments we call “game changers.” I can see that they only happened when I took a chance at something outside of my zone of comfort.

One of the most significant was when I decided to take my sister’s children for what was supposed to be, at the most, one year; it’s been twenty.

I was standing in my downtown Chicago condo overlooking Lake Michigan when my mother called to say that if I didn’t take these three young kids (the baby was three months old,) then they would end up in the system.

My mother said that as hard as life had been for her and her 7 children, she was still able to keep us together. This was a source of pride for her; something that her mother had not been able to do.

I looked out over the lake and I could not see the future, nor could I see the past; I simply was, so I said yes.

I went from a sports car to a van and found out that this was the way I was meant to be.

Without ever giving birth, I am a mother of 5 and while many days have been down-right implausible, I know that this was the right thing.

Doors have been opened and lessons have been learned that did not occur during the other risk taking moments; like leaving home to be the first in all of my family to go to college.

Life requires that we leap, fly, run head first into opportunities and choices that would not happen if we stuck to our old patterns and ways of thinking.

Not all risks land the way we desire, but when you jump from your heart; the outcome will eventually be in your favor.

Be you, be well, be a wonder.

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

My Audition for the Voice: The Art of Living Week 29

For the love of singing
My Audition for the Voice

Last year, when I was still reeling from the aftermath of a head injury, I promised myself one thing: that I would live more boldly.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had an amazing life but the injury enabled me to see that I had stopped living from the heart and I had forgotten to dream.

I had earned a doctoral degree by 26, had been a stand-up comedian, had my own nationally syndicated TV show, had written and published numerous best sellers, and had lectured to audiences of thousands, but when I became the mother of my sister’s children and then a few more with similar backgrounds, I avoided anything that might seem irrational.

I love my kids and their ability to make me grow beyond my expectations, but those expectations made me stop wishing on shooting stars and riding on wooden roller coasters.

I played my life safely, making sure that whatever I did yielded something that could take care of them.

Then I hit my head and my illogical logic came back. I recognized that everything I had achieved was a result of thinking far away from any box.

After watching Brene Brown again, I thought about my own lack of vulnerability. Yes, I speak to thousands and travel all over the place, but I am really, really prepared. Brene points out that folks who allow themselves to be vulnerable deal with shame, rejection and life more whole-heartedly.

So I signed up for The Voice auditions. I wish I could tell you all about it, but you sign a thing that says you won’t.

I’ll tell you this. I didn’t make it; nor did hundreds of others who could sing the phone book backwards and win a Grammy for it.

I made new friends, had loads of fun and wished that I owned a label and could sign up all of these people who could sing and loved doing it. Then I’d drive them all around the country to sing for folks who loved to dance.

I didn’t care about my outcome; I did what I did to be more wholehearted, more daring more me.

What can you do that enables you to grow outside of your comfort zone? Think of something that gives you fear but would not possibly result in injury or death. What thing do you love but do not do because it does not provide a living?

What limb can you go out on, knowing that you have a way back; a friend to drive you around (thanks Lauralee and Tiph) and a daughter to listen to you over and over again?

Live boldly, lovingly and wholly.

Be you, be well, be BOLD.

Bertice Berry, PhD. www.berticeberry.com


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Truth and Reconciliation

Truth and Reconciliation

Today is the 95th birthday of Nelson Mandela. The journey of this amazing man’s life is beyond belief.

I’ve been to Robbin’s Island and I had a chance to see the cell he spent decades in. I was moved by the fact that on this isolated island in a cell; Mandela was freer than the richest man in South Africa.

What moves me even more than when he caused the earth to tremble by going from an imprisoned brick breaker to the President of South Africa, is the mind boggling idea of Truth and Reconciliation.

I want you to look it up, understand it for yourself. I don’t want to spend time with anyone’s argument; not even my own.

I want to think about someone who has had their life and love taken away and then responding with forgiveness.

I’ve been raised on the idea of winning and being the envy of my neighbors. I’ve been fed from the table of Wall Street and the 1% who tell me that I win by dying with the most toys.

I exist in a land that actually markets the idea that you can’t be too thin or too rich and that beauty always wins.

So I know it’s hard to take this whole truth and reconciliation thing seriously. But what if?

BE you, be well, be free.

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Filling The Space

Filling The Space

Letting go of a negative past is hard, but it’s even harder to keep holding on to it. When you let go of the stuff that’s been weighing you down, replace it with something true; something that reflects your heart’s desires.

When you forgive someone and yourself, replace the anger, hurt and resentment with feelings of gratitude.

When you let go of stereotypes and untruths, fill the void with historical and present day truths.

When you decide that you are no longer going to carry around a life of pain, replace it with a plan for being joyful.

Here’s what you will need:

Start learning, living, reading, seeing, being, singing, dancing, and give yourself a whole lot of love.

Start today.

BE you, be well, be living

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Who Do You Need to Forgive?

Who Do You Need to Forgive?

To forgive means to forgo the need for revenge or restitution. It is not about letting someone off the hook, it’s about getting off of the hook they’ve put you on.

My mother taught me how to forgive. This was an amazing feat because she was the one I needed to forgive.

I grew up in a household of abuse and neglect and I carried the weight of that abuse into my adulthood. Then one day, about twenty years ago, I got a letter from my mother asking me to forgive her. I thought I already had, but then I looked deeply at the way I lived and moved. I saw that I was not living fully because I lived in fear.

I told her that I forgave her and I set out to forgive myself. Then I could see that I was the one I needed to forgive most. I had held on to pain that did not serve me and I had made it my own. I responded to abuse that had not yet happened and I danced around love but could not fall into love or life.

Today, make a list of those you need to forgive and then put yourself at the top. Let go of the need for revenge or restitution and make the decision to set yourself free.

Then do it again and again and again and again.

If you enslave anyone else, you have to enslave yourself to keeping them there.

Be you, be well, be free.

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Monday, July 15, 2013

More than Race

More than Race

I told myself that I would not write or talk about the George Zimmerman case; this is a wellness blog.

Then when I looked more closely at the response and reactions I knew that folks were missing something and I needed to say something about it.
The laws that enable us to stand your ground have plagued me for years. When I was just a girl, my 12 year old friend was shot dead because she picked a peach from a neighbor’s fruit tree. The man did no time for the killing.

Even as a child, I wondered why the man felt the need to shoot a child over a peach. He too said that he felt threatened.
What are we so afraid of? Why are we armed to the hilt and prepared to stand our ground against a neighbor, a child, or someone because we just don’t know them?

What could you possibly possess that requires an alarm system that costs more than health or life insurance?
We are living upside down. We are prepared for a zombie apocalypse and we are the zombies.

Our fear and hatred keep us from living and loving life fully.

Stand your ground, protect your stuff and your fear of fear and you will find that you have enslaved your own self.
When you think about this case and how you feel why you feel that way, think about the prison we keep building around our stuff, our self and our being.

BE you, BE well, BE free.

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Week 28 of The Art of Living: Taking A Leap of Faith

A Leap of Faith

This week, I’m taking a leap. I need your prayers, love and energy because I’m doing something that’s way out of my wheelhouse of comfort.

It’s new, different and crazy and after I’ve done it, I’ll tell you all about it.

For now, just know that I’m doing it for all of us. I’m stepping out in faith and love and the belief that life is for living and living some more.

This week, I’d like you to think of me and this audacious feat. As you wonder what it might be, I’d like you to think about what your leap should be.

Then I want you to make plans to take that leap. Take it without fear or worry of the outcome, because the outcome does not matter.

What matters is that you dared to dream, to hope, to be.

Be you, be well, fly.

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Week 27 of The Art of Living: FInding True Balance by Learning to Play

Learning to Play

On my very first day of school, I cried so much that the teacher had to take me to the principal’s office. It was the only time I would ever have such a trip. When the principal, Mrs. Moses asked why I was crying, I told her that I was supposed to be learning.
She asked what I meant and I said that my sister Chris said that when I got to school, I would learn even more and that I would be able to read from big girl books and I could go places because I could learn. Then I said, “Those baby kids are not learning; all they are doing is playing. I came to learn,” I said. “I don’t want to play.”

Mrs. Moses stared at me and then she laughed. She hugged me and said that I would do very well one day. After giving me a test, she moved me into a class with the first graders. My cousin Robin was in the class. On the way to school that morning, she had been teasing me. I was bragging to her about starting school, but she laughed and said that I would be in the baby class, but she was in real school.
Now, I was in real school and I was going to learn.

I kept on learning and at the age of 12, I started working. I worked with a woman from my church, cleaning banks after school and homes in the morning before school. I helped out my family and even did errands and cleaned the homes of the older church members until I went off to college. I kept working and learning and working and learning.
I have learned to love all work and learning has been my joy.

Social Psychologist, Erik Erikson said the balance in life is between work, love and play. So, now they tell me. But if I hadn’t been learning I would not have known.

We have been seeking balance of work and life, but this balance between what I do, what I love and play for the sake of it, lends itself to something much more powerful.
I am learning to play. I was volunteered into a local dancing competition for charity. I’m dancing for the school my kids went to; a school for kids who are bright, but have learning differences.

I’m working hard to cha cha. My love fuels this drive and I get to play.

In the meanwhile, find your balance and your play.

                                                             Be you, be well, be balanced.

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Whole Paula Deen Thing

Saying nothing does nothing

The Whole Paula Deen Thing

For the past two weeks I’m repeatedly being asked what I think about the whole Paula Deen thing.
 Maybe it’s because I’m black or that I live in Savannah Georgia or maybe it’s because I write books about race and transformation.
Whatever the cause, no one expects my answer; “I think she may be using too much butter.”

I enjoy seeing, hearing or waiting for the response because some folks actually ask about this in a text message.

Here’s the thing and I hope you take me very seriously because it’s high time—Paula Deen is our wake-up call.
For the past 20 years we have been working on what we say in public around the “others;” those we think don’t fit into our own dominant group. For some the group is based on age and some it may be race. Some base the group on education and some do it by the struggle. Sometimes the group allows an “other” to be an honorary member, with all the rights and privileges, but then that member goes too far. But that’s another story for another time; another other.

 It’s time that we all work on what we say when the “other” is not in the room.
We need to work on what we think and feel when we type from an anonymous email account or yell from the inside of car and most of all; we need to work on that thought that comes forth regarding the "other" because we feel insecure about our own abilities.

I’m done preaching, I’ve got to go work on my own nasty cobwebs.

Be you, be well be transforming.

Bertice Berry, PhD.


Monday, July 1, 2013

Week 26 of The Art of Living: 5 Things You Need to Survive Anything

Still here and getting better
5 Things You Need to Survive Life’s Stuff
Gather around boys and girls and pay very close attention. In life, stuff will happen; it will happen to the good and the “trying to be good.”
As with any journey, you have to be prepared. Here is a survival kit for getting over life’s hurdles.
Preparation, information and education-- Before you climb a mountain, get a degree, or grieve for a loved one, you need to be prepared. You would never think of climbing a mountain without learning about it first; and so it goes with life. Your family can’t buy insurance on you after you die. While no amount of money will bring you back, preparation for the loss will ease the burden. The more you know about and are prepared for, the easier the journey.
Belief, inspiration and affirmation--Before you can do anything, you have to believe that you can. We also need inspiration and affirmation from those around us. If we are constantly being told that we cannot, that we are not and that we should not; we have already been set up for failure. Believing is seeing before it appears.
Good Company---Every journey is better in the company of those who love you. Allow yourself to build strong, lasting relationships based on love, support and common desire to grow and evolve.
Happiness and health—when life happens, those who were already happy recover better. In fact, happy people tend to have a lot more happen to them; you just don’t always know it. When you are happy, you tend to have your life in more areas which means that more stuff can happen. But because you have these areas of happiness, you also have the support and constitution to keep on keeping on.
The wisdom of the elders and those who have gone before you---My elders and ancestors are a great source of wisdom but an even greater source of comfort. They reach out to me, guiding me through the stuff they have already endured. Whenever I feel that I can’t make it, one of them reminds me that I already have.
If you are going to do better, feel better, look better, then you must work at it. It will be a hard journey, so pack wisely.
Be you, be well, be equipped.
Bertice Berry,PhD.