Monday, August 26, 2013

Week 34 of The Art of Living: I Can Die Now

I Can Die Now

I have a little secret; one I barely ever say out loud; not even to myself.

Every day, I live my life in search of ways to inspire others, to do what is right and just and to see my life come full circle.

The first two are easy, but the last, seeing my life come full circle, relies upon the forces of nature and the Universe. When it happens, I tell myself; I can die now.

I hope you don’t think me morbid. In fact, I think I’m just being realistic. We may not know when, but we should all know that death is going to happen.

Last week, I had one of those moments. I was in Iowa with the folks who design the ACT tests.

These are the people who are sticklers (they even use the word to describe themselves) for accuracy and fairness. They work tirelessly to design assessment tests for students and employees. Their desire is to ignite a passion for lifelong learning.

Their mission and purpose is real and is being realized.

That morning, I had spoken with my high school English teacher. Karen helped to ignite a passion for learning in me. We chatted about how excited I was to be there and how the ACT essay had been my saving grace. Without it, Jacksonville University would not have accepted me.

When I spoke, I was more nervous than I have ever been, but I could immediately see that I was with my people. They laughed with me and thought deeply about how they could be even better.

Many, many years ago, the folks who designed the test inspired and created a pathway for me.

Last week, I had the chance to return the favor.

I can die now.

Be you, be well, be learning.

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Week 33 of The Art of Living: Help Me Dance

Help Me Dance

I come from a line of proud women. Pride can be a good thing, but it can also come before a fall. My mother did the best she could to take care of us but she often went hungry to make sure we all ate.

Rather than ask anyone for help, she would just “make do.”

I have inherited this trait. While I am far beyond the conditions of my childhood, I still need help. We all do. I need someone to help with everyday life and sometimes, I need a shoulder to lean on.

There is no shame in knowing you need help. There is a problem with not asking.

I’ve asked for help before---to help fund hearing aids for kids who could not afford them.

Today, I’m asking you to help me dance. I’m doing one of those "celebrity" dance things (my teacher Joseh would like you to help me get to my lessons.)

I need you to help by voting with a dollar or two for the school I’m assisting.

Chatham Academy is a school for kids with special needs. Chatham Academy helps to build up the strengths while diminishing the weaknesses. Three of my children went there.

I wish all kids could have the benefit of the school’s art, athletics and camaraderie.

Help me dance. Share this with your friends and tell them to share it with theirs.

If I have done anything that has inspired you, please help me inspire a kid in need.

Our mothers will be so proud.

Be you, be well, be wonderful.

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Be More You

Be More You

I’m currently working on two books, one is a novel about a new form of vampires; they suck the confidence of others. The other is a book about being and living authentically.

As I write I am forced to examine myself even more closely than I normally do.

Am I being me?

Am I living and loving fully?

Do I surround myself with those who refuel my energy or those who suck the life from me?

As you go through this day, ask yourself who you are and how you can be more you.

Go boldly into this day with joy and laughter. Learn new things and share what you know.

Have faith that the work you do will be successful and that those you love will love you back.

Seek truth and work for justice. Breathe and remember that as long as you are true to who you are and your desire to be better, the Universe will conspire to embrace you.

Be well, be defined, be accomplished.

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Art of Living Week 32: What You Won't Do

This was last year...time to get back
What You Won’t Do

A few weeks ago while I sat waiting for a flight, a guy sat near me and began to, as the young folks say, “chat me up.” –Maybe it’s the British who say that, anyway, he wanted to know if I was married and why I wasn’t. He wanted to know what I look for in a man and what I like to do.

My flight was delayed, so I decided to help him with the book he was writing.

I told him that I liked to fish but I hadn’t done it in a long time. I’m pretty sure I had that far off look as I spoke about the peace of fishing, but when my mind came back to my seat at the airport gate, I noticed that the guy was frowning.

“I hate to fish,” he said. “It’s so boring.” He said that he’d gone fishing when he was a kid and could not stand it. The guy was a long way from being a kid, but I was not writing the book he was.

He went on to tell me all about his friend who loved to fish and how his friend could fish all day.

I laughed and he asked why and so I told him. “I think you should introduce me to your friend.”

My flight came and I thanked him for the lesson. He asked me which lesson that was, and I told him that I had learned to no longer lead with a dislike.

This week and every week that follows, check yourself to see how often you lead with what you won’t do.

Are you really representing who you are by divulging what you don’t know or like?

When you write the book about your own life, will it include what you did do or what you did not?

I got on the plane, fell asleep and dreamt about fishing.

Be you, be well be reminded.

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Recipe for Strength

Stand Strong
Recipe for Strength

Everyone I know is either going through something, been through something or is lending support and energy to someone who is.

So here is a recipe for strength. I should tell you though, I’m one of those old school cooks who measures in dashes and pinches and leaves the accurate amounts to you and what you need at the time.

Love and Support—you can’t go through life without the love and support of others. When I am low, my loved ones  (including the furry and feathered kind,) give me the laughter, joy and energy I need.

Wellness--- wellness is a defensive measure against trouble because trouble brings stress and stress goes for the weakest cells in your body. Be well now and when life happens; you will endure.

Laughter—if you can’t laugh, you won’t be able to, “see your way clear.” Laughter is a gift to those who do the real work, because if you are not there for the set-up; you won’t get the punch line.

Prayers of the Elders—Elders are like meteorologist; they are watching the weather when everyone else is at the beach. Keep them close to your life and heart. Visit them in the hospital and take them out for rides. Your small acts of kindness become huge windows into the wisdom of life.

Memories of the ancestors—Say the names of those who have gone on and remember them always. I have found that when I am troubled, their memories, lessons and words come to me when I need them most.

The smile of a child—if you don’t see small children on a daily basis, you are missing a part of heaven on earth.

An understanding of the fact that everything is connected and works together—even when things seem impossible, remember that all things are connected and work together.  

God/Love/Creation/The Cosmos—depending on what part of the understanding of life you come from grab a hold of what you believe and hang in there.

Be you, be well, be strong.

Bertice Berry, PhD.




Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Sunday Surprise

 Getting What You Need by Giving Up What you Don't

On Saturday, I woke up tired, but there were chores to be done and work to complete. I took the dogs out and exercised, made a protein shake and got showered and dressed.
I talked myself into my car and out to do my errands. After a few hours of remembering this and not forgetting that, I was headed back home. As I did, I spotted two women looking through clothing at my neighbor’s garage sale. One was an older woman who reminded me of my mother.
Though tired, I decided to invite them to my home to get some of the things my mother did not take with her as she crossed over to the other side.

The women gave me the once over and then followed me down the road to my house. My daughter served beverages as I bagged up much more than I had expected. They thanked me profusely and told me that they would be praying for me.

There is no greater prize than an elder who thinks and prays for you.

Now I believe that synchronicity is the language of God. Sometimes, the message is so loud that you have to stop and just smile.

Those who know me think of me as a spiritual person. I am. I strive to live the beliefs I’m constantly working out and every day I seek to be better.

Those who know me really well know that I have not been a member of any church for many years. The reasons for not going have far outweighed any reason to go. So I quietly study on my own and gather with others who seek to live their beliefs.

I have a wonderful friend named Celia who, along with many, many others has often invited me to her church. She speaks passionately about the congregation that was left after a division of beliefs; her's being the one that decided on loving, accepting and promoting without prejudice.

So because Celia is so brilliant and wonderful and because she cares about literacy and education, I decided to take her up on her offer to visit Christ Church Episcopal.

I’m going to just jump right to it, because I really can’t explain it myself.; in the quiet beauty and brilliance of this service, I felt right at home. The sermon was all about knowing what you truly treasure and on using your possessions to make the world a better place.
After church we gathered for tea and cookies and I chatted with brilliant, talented folks who gave me the energy I needed.

So I’ll ask you what the rector asked of the congregation: What do you truly value? How can you use what you have to make the world better? What do you possess and don’t use that someone else needs right now?

On Saturday, I gave away something that I did not need; on Sunday, I got back something that I did.

Be you, be well, be balanced.

Bertice Berry, PhD.



Monday, August 5, 2013

Light a Candle; Week 31 of The Art of Living

Light a candle and SHINE
Light a Candle

I’ve always loved a good candle, but then  twenty years ago when my children came to me (three of the five came at once,) I had to let my love for candles go.

My youngest daughter Fatima found one that was lit and put her entire hand in the wax of the candle. She crawled over to me, white hand glowing and smiled as she held up her tiny fingers.

I screamed and Fatima laughed and then kept crawling.

I checked for injury; she had none and so I blew out my candle for almost 20 years.

Last week, I had the opportunity to meet with an incredible group of people who sell candles. Not just any candle, The Gold Canyon candle is said to be the world’s finest. The wax is cool (something I could have used,) the scents are truly unbelievable and ---wait for it, they were invented by a woman. (Read more about Gold Canyon)

This company of purpose-filled people host parties in communities not just to sell candles, but with a mission to light the hearts and minds of others.

Now, if you’ve read any of my posts, then you know that I’m not trying to sell you a candle (they are truly remarkable) what I’m doing is setting you up.

I want to ask you this; what you have given up that you need to go and reclaim?

What joy, what light, and what little thing did you lose along this pathway called life?

Until I met with these folks; mostly women who sell candles to help their families and children in need---really I’m serious—I had  forgotten about why I got rid of the candles.

I shared the story with my daughter and she had a completely different memory.

“That whole wax thing is why I love candles, but every time I light one you get scared, so I blow it out.”

I wondered how many other things I’d done in the name of safety that was interpreted some other way.

I handed her a candle, and I light it there in front of her.

“This is your candle,” I told her, “don’t let anyone snuff it out.”

Be you, be well, be glowing.

Bertice Berry, PhD.