Friday, April 29, 2016

Closing the Gap

Between the ME and the I/WE

Hey Grandma, Look at ME

Okay boys and girls, put on your hip waders, because we’re going out in the deep.

We all, every one of us, have a lot of growing up to do. Our individualism has gotten out of hand and we have forgotten that we are connected to one another and to everything.

There is no space between us and yet, we’d like to believe that we are our own self-made island in the middle of me and nothing and no one can touch us.

The self is social, we are a product of everyone and everything we’ve ever come in contact with.
The way we interact and evolve has an impact on the happenings and everyday world we see.

If we are to ever live as One, then we must all become one with our own self. 

We have to grow up.

In a model I’ve created for self-evolution, there are several stages of growth. In this space, I will discuss two of them; The Me and the I/WE.

We are all born into the Me stage. Everything is or should be about you. You can’t do for yourself and so you must rely upon the love, care, nurturing and kindness of others. Someone must bathe, feed, clothe and hold you. The last being so important; it enables us to be more human.

The more love you receive when you are a true Me, the easier you evolve into a mature You.

Somewhere around the age of 2; the stage we call Terrible Twos, occurs when a child tries to hold on to the Me. We often think that a child is striving for independence, but they are really trying to hold on.

The child wants to do for their self, and yet they want to be held and carried.

The struggle between being independent and connected begins this early.

Many adults are stuck in the Me stage. They want to be held, carried, told what to do and instructed.

The adult Me is a grown baby with adult-like demands. They throw tantrums and fits when they don’t get their own way and life forbid if they are wealthy or powerful.

The powerful Me uses everyone around them as toys to be played with. Everything is about, for and belongs to this immature adult. Too often, they are in positions of authority, because they are as good at manipulating as a crying baby is at getting you to wake up in the middle of the night.

By now, you may be thinking of a few folks who are adult Me’s.

But this is about and for you, and for me as well.

The I/We is a fully realized adult. They understand the power of I AM. They see their role, purpose and responsibility in life and they understand their connection to the rest of the world.

The dance between the self and the collective is beautiful and balanced and an I/We wouldn’t have it any other way.

The I/We understands that we don't just inhabit the universe; it also inhabits us.

We all have a bit of the Me that needs to grow up.

Look at the areas of your health, education, family, finances, work and community. How can you be more mature? How can you care for yourself and others? 

The world is waiting for you to evolve. We need we.

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Closing the Gap

Between Hearing and Listening

Dancing to the music in my heart

Several years ago, I suffered a rather serious head injury. Every day for two years, I was in constant pain. I was often confused, frustrated, dizzy and incapable of functioning at a level that was my norm.

One of the most difficult aspects of the aftermath of that injury was my inability to hear correctly. 

For 24 hours a day, every day, awake or asleep (which I did very little of) the sound of a wailing siren rang loudly in my left ear.

To make matters even worse, every sound was heard at the same volume level. The sound of a pen scratching across a page or the whish and whirl of a ceiling fan were all as loud as the voice of one of my children.

I went from specialist to specialist looking for some kind of relief because when you speak for a living; you have to be able to hear.

One doctor, a Neurotologist, (Neurologist and Otolaryngologist) told me something that gave me no physical relief, but provided the key to my recovery.

“You listen with your ears, but you hear with your brain,” he said.

I experienced a calm I hadn’t felt since the injury occurred. In one sentence, I knew that there was something I could do.

I began to listen to books on tape (I had a very difficult time reading) and discovered the work of The HeartMath Institute. From their work I came to comprehend the fact that the heart also had a brain and I could use it to do my thinking.

This wonderful wisdom helped me to recover and I believe that I am even better than I was before.

Common sense is not about what we all should know; it’s about using our senses to help us navigate this physical plane.

When I began to truly listen with my heart, I was able to recognize that prior to the head injury; I was not really hearing. Yes, I heard sounds and voices, but now, I hear inflection and breath. I hear pauses and can differentiate between chest breathing and the breathing that comes from the gut.

I can hear the music that jewelry makes and how the person wearing it speaks within the rhythm and tone of their jewelry.

Some days, when I am still and calm and open, my senses all merge and I smell and hear and see, feel and even taste the sunshine.

Listening is so much more than hearing sounds. It is about truly re-connecting to the world around you.

The way back to truly reengaging with the world around you is through your senses, and while it may be called “common,” it is truly miraculous.

Be you, be well, be connected.

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Closing the Gap

Between Existing and Living

All life began with a thought, and then that thought came into existence; it becomes.

Existence is about becoming. Living, is about experiencing the life that you were designed for and the one that you’ve been designing.

Existence is a big deal, but it's not the end deal.

My daughter–in-love was in labor for 12 hours. During that time, she kept saying, “I just want to meet her, I can’t wait to meet her.”

 Alayna was born and her mother finally got to see her and now she is meeting her every single day.

Most folks are not living; they are existing. Now, don’t get me wrong, existence is a beautiful thing.

 When I complete a book and it is edited and published, it comes into existence, but it doesn’t live until someone picks it up and reads it.

People who exist and do what they are supposed to do (go to school, to work, back home to family and hit repeat) are the keepers of order.

But when you begin to live your full purpose, you become the keeper of the flame.

When my ideas come into existence, they Be, but when others grab them and run, they take on a life of their own.

Some folks have been existing so that others may live. Life requires that you see yourself and do something about it.

We are meant to live and live that much more abundantly.

Living is priceless. It requires that you see clearly, love deeply and live your purpose with joy.

Living ignites a flame for others and enables them to see their own potential.

Living frees you from the responsibility of doing everything for someone else. It enables you to help them see their way.

Living goes on beyond this life and into the beyond.

If that last one is a little too esoteric just try to spend a day without hearing or seeing a reference to Prince. He is living and has awakened the Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and David Bowie in all of us.

Live now. See, hear, touch, taste and feel your way to living.

Be you, be well, be living.

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Closing the Gap

Between Living in the Past and Revisiting It

There is a bold and brilliant lesson being enacted by historian Joseph McGill Jr.

McGill has been on a mission to visit and spend the night in the slave quarters of all of the remaining plantations in the United States.

McGill recognized something that most scholars had not; that the history of this country was being written by and told about those who lived in the big houses, but it had forgotten the ones who built it.

Joseph McGill has brazenly forced the history keepers to look at the past through the eyes of those folks who were enslaved to build it by looking closely at how they lived.

McGill sleeps among the snakes, spiders and mold with nothing but his bedroll on the hard pine or dirt floors of the past, because he wants to understand deeply what the past might have been like for those who lived in it.

He is spending the night in antique shackles literally and figuratively to honor, acknowledge and learn more about the past of this great nation.

It is a past that few ever want to face, but in so doing, McGill has enabled us to know much more about the truth we’d like to ignore.

This brings me to you and me. McGill is visiting the past for a reason. He is debunking myths and rediscovering a truth about folks who though they were enslaved and  treated with little or no regard, they were humane.

At the end of his trips, McGill returns to his life and work. He takes off the shackles and gets back in a comfortable bed.

At a Kiva in Utah
He uses the past to inform the future; he doesn’t live there.

Many folks are living in their past. They have taken up residence with the worst of what the past gave them and they refuse to move forward. Because misery doesn’t just want company, it wants miserable company; they bring everyone they know with them.

Stuck in what they think might have happened they drag everyone to the story they heard, was heard from an old aunt who was in the words of that great poet Prince; never satisfied.

Boys and girls, this is what it sounds like when doves cry.

The past must inform us. We need the McGill’s of the world who can respectfully uncover a truth that is much, much closer to the truth. Because an archeologist with no respect for the past should never go digging around in it.

The past comes up for a reason. There’s something you need to learn to move forward. It comes back again and again because we haven’t gotten the lesson and there’s more that we need to learn.

But when you wallow in the past (and let’s be honest; it’s a lopsided version,) you do your own present no service.

You need to revisit your past; but please don’t stay there. The snakes, spiders, mold and weeds have claimed it as their own and you are no longer welcome.

If you want to move forward do something of the following:

Respect the past. Don’t just look at what you were told or what you think you remember, research the period of time and get a bigger picture. What were others doing in the area you are from? How did average folks live? What were their struggles?

What can you learn and bring forward? Determine what artifacts you’d like to bring from the past and use them as a reminder of how far you’ve come.

Look back with love and then look around and see all that you have accomplished.

Whenever I want to complain, I hear my mother who was born in 1918 telling me, “Yes dear, but I grew up next door to the whipping post.”

Be you, be well, be moving.

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Closing The Gap

Between Knowing and Believing in Your Ability to Do

It's good to stop and think, now it's time to climb

Imagine that life is one big test. Now imagine that you’ve learned all of the material and know that you know that you know that you are ready. But when you get to the test, the professor tells you that it’s all essay and you have to apply what you’ve learned, but you can’t because you only memorized the material.

We have memorized all of the answers to our own life, but we are not applying them.
Life is about so much more than knowing it is the application thereof.

We go about collecting words and phrases that sound good with very little understanding of what they mean.

We’ve been nodding our heads through life looking and acting as if we know because we are afraid of looking like we don’t.

Then there are those who study and study but never show up for the test.

This is the life; the one you are living right now.

Fear has paralyzed us into thinking that we can never be good enough. So we sit and collect information about a thing never, ever allowing it to touch our heart.

My journey from growing up on the alley way of Gordon Street to PhD. and beyond required that I believe in something greater than me and that I believe in me.

I had to believe in my ability to learn and grow and do. I had to believe that there was something in me that was unique, wonderful and worth finding and living. I had to believe that there was something outside of me that was great enough to get me through life and beyond.

I chose a belief in God and me.

I can know a thing but if I don’t get into life and do the thing, I’m taking up valuable space.

Move from your desire to know about being to actually Being.

BE you, Be well, BE

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Work as A Gift

 “Whatever you do, work with all your heart, as though you are working for the Lord and not people.” Colossians 3:23

Just for today, for the time that you are reading this, I’d like you to imagine that your work is a gift.  Imagine that the job you have is a way of expressing your purpose and in doing so, you are in communion and connection with all that is.

Imagine that work is the international place of worship and your church is just a way of coming together with folks who believe the way you do.

Now, imagine that when you truly work from your heart as did the Calvinists in Weber’s Protestant Ethic in The Spirit of Capitalism, you begin to see your work, your life and even yourself in the realm of Intentional Creation.

Most folks (according to Gallup, something like 80%) see work as drudgery. They feel disconnected and disengaged from the work that they do. They cannot see themselves as a part of a bigger mission, nor do they feel an alignment with the vision of that company.

Somewhere between our religion and our individualism, we have lost our connection to what Marx called the species-being; the essence of our self.

We need to work, and we need to find joy in it. Not for the money, or for the one-percenters who own it all anyway; we need to work as a means of connection to our own core.

For the thing that makes us human, is our ability to create and produce our own sustenance.

Work is not an entitlement; it is a gift. Be grateful for the gift of work, or it will feel like drudgery all the days of your life.

Be you, be well, be loving whatever you do.

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Gratitude in Action:
Maintenance of Your Relationships with Others

Relating to my beautiful child, with my mom watching over us.

Maintenance is gratitude in action. It is an acknowledgement of what we love and desire more of. How you spend your time, talent, treasures and energy is an indication of where your heart truly lies.

We all say that we want strong, close, loving relationships, but we spend more time with our hand-held devices than we do with the people they are supposed to connect us to.

Research shows that the last thing a person touches at night is not the face of a loved one; it is their smartphone. So how smart are we when we let technology take the place of the real hand and heart of those we say we love.

Relationship is defined as the way in which two or more people, groups and even countries talk, behave and connect to one another.

Relationships are the things that we sociologist wake up thinking about. Because the self is social, and we are a combination of everything and everyone we come in contact with, how you maintain your relationships is crucial to who you become.

We have made work and time our excuse for our lack of attention and commitment; but your time and your work are on your side.

Maintenance is gratitude in action and gratitude is our way of communicating with our consciousness and the Divine. It is a way of saying, “I want more of this.”

How much time does it take to connect to someone, reminding them of what they mean to you? How much time and energy do you give to your past and those who have caused harm? Why would our head be filled with thoughts of people you think don’t like you, when those who do are standing near?

How can you be more intentional towards the care of the relationships you have and desire?

How do you relate to new ideas, languages and even countries?

Remember, what you give attention to expands and positive energy expands exponentially.

Be you, be well, be relating.

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Gratitude in Action:
The Maintenance of You

I have come to believe that true wellness is a balance of the spirit, mind and body. We are spirit, living in a body, possessing the gift of a mind which helps us navigate a physical plane.

When the spirit, mind and body are out of balance, so is our entire universe.

Gratitude is an integral aspect of Intentional Creation. If you want to create anything new or improve upon what you already have; you must enact a spirit of gratitude.

Maintenance is gratitude in action. What we give attention to expands; and positive energy expands exponentially.

We spend far too much time bemoaning the fact that our body doesn’t look like the one we had when we were young. We can spend so much more being grateful for the body we have now; you know the one that is enabling you to sit, stand or lay and read this.

You are those 21 grams of measured difference between a body that is deceased and one that is alive. How do you care and give maintenance to the spirit of you?

 Do you shower yourself with love or unworthiness?

Do you look for evidence and scriptures to support your learned notion of being unworthy or average or do you see that you are enough?

Begin to see ways, books, people and ideas that reflect the truth; that you are amazing.

Begin to show gratitude for your mind. Learn and understand more about it. Each square inch of skin alone has over 1,000 nerve endings, There are 50-11 million (yes that’s a number; I made it up) nerve endings in the body and an unknown number in the brain and spinal column. Your mind is more than your brain. It consists of all of your thoughts, memories and ideas.

Can you grab just one and polish it off?

Your body is crying for you to notice the way your fingers work, how your toes curl or how your shoulders feel tight when you think of something new. Acknowledge it. Tell your body thank you for doing all that it’s done without notice.

Maintenance is gratitude in action. It is a love for all that is, with the understanding that this love brings even more.

Maintain the YOU; the I AM that you have neglected to be grateful for.

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

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Gratitude in Action:

If dreaming and visualization is the development and design of your heart’s desire, then gratitude is the sculpting and creation of that desire.

The Latin root of the word gratitude is “gratus”, which means pleasing or thankful.

Even my 7 month old granddaughter has the capacity to express what is pleasing to her. We all do. We know what pleases us, just as we know what displeases.

So why do we give more attention to that which displeases?

We spend hours complaining and gossiping about all of the ills of the world, with very little on its good.

We wake up with a head full of worry about what we don’t have while failing to see what we do.

I believe and science backs me up on this, that what we give energy to expands and positive energy expands exponentially.

I believe that maintenance; the process of preserving someone or something (Merriam-Webster) is gratitude in action.

At first glance, the idea of preserving something seems to be a statement of the past and at most, the recent present, but maintenance has and will always be about the past, present and the future.

Maintenance is a way of communicating with God/The Cosmos/The Universe. It is a shout from our entire being and it says, “Yes, I want more of this. I am so grateful for it that I will do my best to preserve it for future generations.”

We must show gratitude for who we are, for what we have, for those we connect to, for our careers and abilities to create, and for our love.

Maintenance is not the thought that wakes you up in the morning, but it should be.

By showing gratitude through the maintenance of what you see in the present, you are sculpting your future.

Be you, be well, be maintained.

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Social Self-Defense:
Let’s Be Civil 

“Civility costs nothing and buys everything.”  
                                           Mary Wortley Montagu

The self is social. We are all a product of everything and everyone we come in contact with. The more intentional our interactions; the more we all evolve.

The people of South Africa say it best in the spirit of Ubuntu; “I am because we are.”

The third ring or perimeter in the defense of the self is Manners, Customs and Civility.

Civility is defined as a formal politeness and courtesy in behavior and speech. But for the discussion of Social Self-Defense, the founders of the Institute of Civility in Government, Thomas Spathe and Cassandra Dahnke define it best:

“Civility is claiming and caring for one’s identity, needs and beliefs without degrading someone else’ in the process.”

Behaving and speaking in a civil manner does not take away one’s uniqueness. It does not force you into a cult of compliance. In fact, the opposite is true. When we all come together with civility at the core of our center; both individually and collectively, we get to be who we truly are.

Let’s be civil.

Be you, be beautiful, be civil.

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Social Self-Defense:
Manners and Customs

It is often said that the best defense is a good offense. The same holds true for the defense of one’s self.

I consider myself very fortunate to be the decedent of women who served others. Many times they did so in the homes of the elite. From them, I learned that the children of their employers were taught to have self-control.

“When you can control your own self,” they are told, “No one can control you and you will always be in control of those who cannot control themselves.”

My mother shared the decades of lessons for behavior that she’d witnessed in the homes of those she’d served.

My mother and siblings are all said to have a presence about them. So much so, that others often assume that we’d had a privileged upbringing. (That is until I laugh out loud. Sometimes, I wish I could be daintier but then I think never mind.)

“Good manners will take you all over the word, and kindness will open hearts.”

My mother’s words have been passed down to my children and I hope that they pass them down to theirs.

Our fast paced life and technology have moved us far beyond the 110 Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation, which George Washington hand-copied from his studies with French Jesuits.

We’ve become a bastion of passive aggressiveness hidden behind screen names and a “right” to comment. 

We will ask anyone anything and become “the bullied” victim if the query is returned with the intention with which it is given.

Our abbreviated text messages are a poor substitute for polite conversation and “Was Up” actually has meaning.

Manners and customs are not just the glue for the maintenance of the history and heritage of a society, I believe that when properly adhered to, they really do open doors.

Social Self-Defense is about guarding and protecting one’s own soul/psyche. The way we conduct ourselves around others determines what sticks to our being, who we become and what we can contribute.

Manners are defined as polite or well-bred social behavior, while customs are the usual way of acting in a given circumstance.

Which manners and customs have you learned but abandoned?

How and which would you reincorporate?

Your customs may not be mine and mine are probably not yours. Whenever you travel outside of the county or even your own home, watch and learn the customs of that place. When appropriate, adopt them. And always, guard your own spirit with the manners of one who understands that the world is truly your oyster, but you still should know which knife to use.

Be you, be well, be soul-secure.

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Social Self-Defense:

“You don’t have to be the sharpest tool in the shed; even the dullest bulb can be nice.”

My mother had a way with words, and she was filled with old school wisdom. Raised by her grandparents who were actual abolitionists, my mother’s life was infused with the philosophy of Quakers, the respect for nature and matrilineal ways of The Lenape, and the civility of Old English society.

She was a walking ball of confusion; a hard working alcoholic single mother turned senior advocate/activist and confidence whisperer, my mother was the very definition of transformation. 

Although her life was full of ups and downs, one thing remained constant, she knew how to conduct herself in public.

“Good manners will take you around the globe and kindness will open hearts,” she said.

Our current culture does not fully respect and embrace the kind of heart. We do no build monuments or produce reality shows for those who are simply nice.

In fact, the opposite is true. We speak ill of those we deem as “too nice.” Declaring them unfit for leadership of any kind.

I still believe that kindness is the best path.

While studying Spanish, I learned the word simpatico. I love the sound of it and try to use it as often as possible. There’s only one problem; the English language doesn’t really have a true equivalent for simpatico.

“It means nice, but so much more,” one Spanish teacher said. A person who is described as simpatico, is one who is easy to get along with. They possess a likeability and a keen sense of understanding.

The second perimeter of defense for the self is to be simpatico.

A polite word or smile to a stranger can defuse a dangerous situation. More importantly though, simpatico commands respect and alters the energy.

President Obama possesses simpatico. I’ve been in his presence. He acknowledges dignitaries and gives deference to janitors and cooks. I suspect that even before he was the POTIS, he commanded attention.

Simpatico is defensive and offensive. It puts folks on guard and at ease. It becomes the teacher and the student.

I have a cousin who is mentally challenged. He is one of the kindest people I know. When he enters the room of family gatherings, everyone stops their conversation to acknowledge him. 

This is not because he has special needs, but because he makes all of us feel special.
Simpatico is difficult to define, but easily recognized.

Who would you describe as simpatico?

How can you be, well---nicer?

Today, put up your guard by letting it down.

Be you, be well, be simpatico.
Bertie Berry, PhD.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Social Self-Defense

When my older brother was a teenager, he often found himself in trouble. My mother’s first question to him was always the same, “What were you doing over there?”

I often pondered her query, wondering what his location had to do with it. I have come to understand that location is about much more than real estate.

The protection of your spirit/psyche/self is an offensive one and it lies in where it lies.

Your Self is housed in a body. Therefore, you must first and foremost strive to be healthy.

The body that houses your Self should be as well. (Wellness is the balance of the spirit, mind and body.)

Basics like eating food from the earth and moving your body on a consistent basis, drinking good water often and keeping your skin clean are just the beginning of wellness.

In addition to caring for the house you are located in, you must also strive to be in good company.

I’ve written it before and I’ll write it again; the Self is social. We are a product and bi-product of everything and everyone we encounter. How and who we encounter affects who you become.

Wherever I am, I strive to be whole and healthy. I strive to shine a light of joy and I seek to connect with like-hearted folks.

Today, and every day, ask yourself the following:

Am I in a healthy space?

In my desire to be wanted and accepted, have I placed my Self in danger?

What space and mind-place gives me joy?

Go there and be at peace.
Be you, be well, be the light.

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Social Self-Defense

Social Self-Defense Team

The self is social; it is a product of everything and everyone it ever comes in contact with. So what would happen if you were more deliberate in your interactions and contacts?

How would intentional exposure to books, music, lessons, ideas and people shape and manifest in the self?

This is a question I’ve been pondering since I made the trek to Plains, Georgia to attend Sunday school with President Jimmy Carter.

People had come from all over the world to hear and learn from a man who had deliberately chosen to go back to his boyhood home to ponder and develop a path towards dignity and peace for all.

This great man of great character is living a legacy of intentional practices for his own life. Those practices are having an impact all over the world.

While on our sojourn, my friends Bryn and Tim Grant and I discussed the idea of the self. Tim, a brilliant builder and contractor commented on the billions of dollars spent on home security systems, while very little attention was ever given to the security of the self.

Almost simultaneously, my friend, business developer and marketer, Bryn and I turned to one another and said “Wow.” It was one of those long drawn out “wows,” we often make when an idea provokes us to think outside of our rather unique mental boxes.

We spent the rest of the day outlining a security system for the self.

 I’d love to go into all of the details, but as with any security system, some aspects are off limits. I will however, disclose the basic information for protecting your most prized possession; your own self.

The security system works like most do. There are perimeters that one must breech to get to those 21 grams of you. (In 1901, Dr. Duncan McDougal was among the first to measure the weight of a body before and after death, finding the difference to be 21 grams.)

The six rings of protection provide or deny access to your personality, soul; psyche. These rings of protection enable you to deliberately determine who and what can get to you; both literally and figuratively.

As you protect your self, you can develop it in a manner that aligns with your dreams, goals and aspiration.

While self-reflection is good and always necessary, being self-aware is not enough because the self is social and a product of everything and everyone you ever come in contact with.

Knowing who you are is the beginning of truly living. Learning the “who” and “how” to live with others is the world’s absolute best security system for living your best you.

Stay tuned for more…
Be you, be well, be aware.
Bertice Berry, PhD.

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Man of Great Character, Man of Great Peace