Monday, January 27, 2014

The Art of Living Better; When Life Exceeds Your Dreams

Are You Disappointed Because Your Life Exceeded Your Dreams?

            Last week, I received a wonderful package. Inside, was a gift I hadn’t expected and a lesson I didn’t know I needed.

My sister Annette Lee had sent a present to my daughter and me. Annette always takes special care in wrapping her presents so even the act of opening them gives you a great deal of joy.

Annette had heard her husband, my brother, Jerry say that I loved to reuse the pretty boxes they always send presents in, so she’d sent a few of them as well.

What gave my daughter the greatest delight were the two boxes that said “chocolate truffles” on the outside. Annette had even attached a note; “Mmmmmm, good.”

Fatima was even happier when I gave her my box of chocolates and told her she could have mine too.

When she opened them though, the boxes did not hold chocolates; instead Annette had sent us both two beautiful pairs of earrings.

“These are not truffles;” my 21 year old said pouting. “It’s just really nice earrings.”

Her tone was full of dismay and disappointment. I laughed and squealed with delight at the joke Annette had shared. I did not want chocolate, but I always love a good pair of earrings.

At first, Fatima was upset; she had set herself up for truffles and was somewhat disappointed by her beautiful present.

Then she put on a pair and found a mirror. She smiled at herself and has been wearing the earrings each day since then.

As with most new events in my life, I began to wonder about the meaning of this joyous trick.

How often do we get something that was better than we expected, but feel like we were duped, let down or somehow short changed?

Did you get a better love, life, job, home or family and then realize that “better” requires better maintenance and care?

Did you decide that this life was too good to be true; too much to handle and not what you really wanted?

Before you open your box of chocolates and find that you have struck gold, be prepared to be happy, because God, love and life can go beyond your wildest dreams.

Be you, be well, be expecting better

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Art of Being Better:Seeing Clearly

Seeing Clearly

Last week, while in the Sunday School of the Episcopal church I only recently began attending, it occurred to me that we all grow up with the faith and beliefs of our parents who grew up with the ones of their parents.

Rarely do we question this and it’s even rarer for us to truly look at another system of belief with new eyes.

As our pastor spoke about understanding the New Testament he pointed out things that I had never heard. For example, in the Episcopal Church, the ministers take an oath that they believe the scriptures to be holy and solely for the purpose of salvation.

I was amazed. I grew up in a Pentecostal church where scriptures could be used to determine the weather, what you should wear and what college you should attend.

I spent the week wondering how I could really see the world without the filter of upbringing, culture, race, gender, and what I thought I knew; how I could truly understand without bias.

Yesterday, I asked, and so with a boyish smile and the wisdom of the ages, Rev. Michael White said; “It’s almost impossible to do, but it’s a lot easier when you know you have a problem. It’s almost like AA; you begin by admitting it.”

I was overjoyed. This problem gave me the encouragement and ability to see more clearly.

So today I offer you this;

Acknowledge that you may see things the way you do because that’s the way you always have.

Acknowledge that your perspective may not be the best perspective for you.

Acknowledge that there is still so much to learn.

Decide to dedicate your heart and mind to seeing more clearly.

Be you, be well, be clear.

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Art of Being Better: Inspiration

Be Inspired to Inspire

A few years ago, I wrote the book A Year to Wellnesss and Other Weight Loss Secrets
Originally, I wanted to call the book, They Hate Fat People. I had come to see that the 30 billion dollar a year weight loss industry was more interested in keeping us on the weight-loss-weight-gain treadmill than they were in helping us to get well.
I was mad and I wanted everyone to know.
Then I came to see that anger is not nearly as motivating as inspiration, so I changed the title.

We all need inspiration, but we also need to give it. When you inspire others, it will always come back to you.
Last week, as I spent yet another day of post-foot surgery recovery, I yearned to walk to the mailbox, or around my neighborhood. I looked at the pedometer I had tossed on my desk.

Prior to the surgery, I’d worn it every day counting steps I actually enjoyed measuring. Before the surgery I’d park my car far away from whatever building I was going to so I could add as many steps as possible, but now, post-surgery I wait around with a swarm of other anxious folks looking for that close parking space.
Last week, I wanted to rush the process and get out of this boot as soon as possible, but then I remembered that healing takes time. I recalled writing that the body is designed to heal itself, we just have to help it do so.

Life is a wonderful thing; it gives us what we need when we give what’s needed to someone else. As that pedometer stared at me, I opened my email to change my own thoughts. I came upon one that was the magic I needed:

  I saw Dr. Berry about 2 years ago in College Station Texas at a conference I was attending (it was the Southwest Association of College and University Housing Officers conference). I was just beginning my weight loss journey and was still quite overweight, and I felt as I sat in Dr. Berry’s keynote address that she was speaking just to me.
If Dr. Berry ever wonders if she makes an impact with audiences, I wanted her to know that YES! I quickly bought her book and read it cover to cover. It gave me hope and a renewed sense of calmness. I am happy to say that I have lost 145 pounds over these last 2 years, and I frequently re-read chapters to center myself. I am well! (And yes, it took about 2 years for me, definitely not a quick process, but oh, so worth it).
I am really grateful that she accepted the offer to speak to us because I benefitted from her wisdom. If she wants to reach me, I would love to share my before/after pics as well as my gratitude.
Dana Grant

I wrote back to Dana and told her that she was the inspiration I needed. I thanked her for her inspiration and she inspired me again.
Ok, here is my “before” and “after” pic.  Like you, I was a happy person, full of life and loved by my family.  After, however, I am comfortable in my own skin, am healthy, and even more confident (oh, and air travel is no longer a huge burden).  I thank you for everything (your encouragement and especially chapters 8 and 9 of your book)!
You can see for yourself that Dana has done the work to be even better.
I may have inspired her, but she has inspired so many others.
Inspiration is like start-up capital; we all need it when we are doing something big, something new, something wonderful.
Be someone’s inspiration and you will always have the inspiration you need.

Be you, be well, be inspired.

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Art of Being Better: Curiosity vs Comparison

Never thought I'd get to here
Curiosity vs Comparison

I don’t know why so many sayings have something to do with killing or skinning cats, but I don’t think curiosity had anything to do with that poor cat’s demise.

Curiosity had nothing to do with it; comparison did.

When we compare ourselves to someone else’s success, we may be happy for them temporarily, but then that happiness becomes our shame and guilt; it becomes, “why them and not me.”

In striving to be better, don’t compare yourself to anyone else.

Your only competition; your only competitor; your only measure of comparison is you.

As you seek to be better, measure yourself against your former space.

When my older children came to me, they were severely delayed. They worked very hard and I did my best to get what they needed to grow. They did exceptionally well, but were still behind the national average.

One of their teachers said that she felt she had not done a good job at helping my daughter succeed. I looked at the scores and told her that she was not reading them correctly.

She was looking at where she wanted my daughter to be, but she hadn’t seen how far they both had come.

Comparison can get you into a world of “I’m not good enough’s.”
Curiosity can get you to places you never thought you'd be.

This year, as we grow better, start by determining where you are. Look at how far you have already come. Be grateful for all you have endured and the level of success you’ve already had and then look for new ways to get to new places.

Be joyous and confident that if you got here, you will get there.

Be you, be your journey, be better.

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Art of Being Better

The Art of Being Better

When I was a kid, my mother told me to leave everything better than it was when I first encountered it.

I have tried to take this lesson to heart. I have taught it to my children.
Whenever we were at a park, theatre or restaurant, people were often amazed to see us picking up litter we hadn’t put down.

But this goes beyond picking up litter, it’s more than cleaning up the mess you made; it’s about making the world better by being better yourself.

I’m at the age where most folks decide that they are who they are and you get what you see. I don’t feel that way. I’m only 53; you get what you see until I get better.

So this year, I’m dedicating these writings to the Art of Being Better; at life, living, giving, sharing and yes, being better.

We should all strive to leave our body, our home, our community, environment, school, workplace, place of worship, and the world, better than it was when we got here; by improving our own self.

The only person you can change is you.

So this year let’s get better health, better relationships, better at learning new and improved ideas and better at being whole.

When we do, we illuminate a pathway for others to follow.

Happy New Year, Happy New Improved You.

Be you, be well, be better

Bertice Berry, PhD.