Friday, August 31, 2018

Living With Style

Do You Have Style?

Do you have style? Don’t answer too quickly and please don’t try to feign indifference. Style is more than what you think, and much more than the advertisers have indicated. Style is not about the labels you wear; it’s about the only brand you should promote.

Your style should be "brand you." Style is about authenticity and your ability to express who you are by what you wear and how you rock it. 

Like it or not, we all have a style. So maybe the better question is this; is the style you’re wearing your own? Are your expressing what you intend to express? Have you cultivated a style, or fallen in with the masses? Fashion is that amazing medium with which we express our individuality and conformity at the same time.

I recently met a woman who exuded style. She lit up the room and brought joy to everyone in it, and she barely spoke a word.

Aloo Greer walked into the trunk show that I’d been invited to participate in. The space was filled with the creativity of its owners, Steph and Ty. Their colorful, unique hats have been worn by everyone who calls themselves a star and by anyone who emulates them. The space had other artists, including yours truly and it was filled with thoughtful fashionable and joyful folks. They were all  beautiful, artistic, eclectic, intelligent and spiritual. The gathering laughed loudly, looked deeply into one another’s souls and shared easily with their like-minded counterparts.

Everyone was beautiful, but when Allo entered we all stopped.

“Girl give me those shoes.” Someone called. “I want her bag.” Said another. “I need her to give me that hat and while she’s at it, she can slit those pants open, so I can get in them.” We laughed as we jokingly divided Allo’s garments. Each item was unique; nothing went together nor was it brought as a set. Each piece came from a different place and they all told a story. 

              Allo just smiled shyly and allowed her clothes to do the talking. I introduced myself and asked her to try on a garment. I told her that I’d like to see what it looked like on her. Allo bowed her head in reverence, took the garment and disappeared. When she came back, the gathering of the beautiful applauded. They stood around Allo and snapped pictures an made videos of her perfect poses. That same dress had been on my rack all along and no one had tried it, but when Allo put it on, everyone wanted it, or said that they had before.

              The next day, Allo came back and just before packing up to leave, I asked this quiet, yet joyful woman if she’d try on a few others. She did and again, the room was stilled.

As I pondered Allo’s ability to “wear the phone book well,” I realized that when it comes to style, Allo possessed the qualities we all desire.

  • She liked what she liked and gave more credence to her own style than to the style others.
  •  She walked with confidence and enjoyed the objects she'd carefully purchased.
  • Aloo combined pieces more like an art and less like a uniform.
  • She didn’t ascribe to someone else’s idea of what “season” she was, and what colors she should wear, nor did she think about where she could wear something.
  • He quiet presence and bold wardrobe choices make her a woman of style. 

Your style should be as unique as you are. You don’t have to wear what someone else demands, nor should you. Try on colors that you’ve been told to avoid. Add elements that speak to who you are and what you love. Be confident in whatever you wear and spend less money on trying to impress others and more time with impressing and loving yourself.

Be You, be Bold, be Joy.

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Can't Change Your Mind? Move to Your Heart

The 18-Inch Trip That Can Change Your Life

Several years back, I suffered a rather debilitating head injury. I’m fine now, but don’t ask my children. Anyway, in the process of what felt like a never-ending cycle of pain, confusion and misery, I learned several rather important things.

My mother told me, and I was thought it was true, but now I know for sure that thinking is hard work. New thoughts and ideas take more work than anything else.

It turns out that changing your mind takes more energy than heavy lifting. 
But, I’ve also learned something else; once you are open to changing your mind, it is much easier to do so the next time.

 Moreover, once you learn the first thing, the next thing comes much more readily. In other words, learning is not only fundamental, it is exponential; it becomes more and more rapid.

One of the most helpful tools I had during that period of recovery was a book called HeartMath. Researchers at the HeartMath Institute point out that the heart also has a brain and it is often much more intelligent than the one in our head. During that time of confusion and pain, I made a deliberate decision to move my reasoning to my heart.

As I did, a new world opened to me. My thinking was more compassionate and caring, but it was much more. I was open to new ideas and found it almost natural to try things that had previously caused confusion.

In less than a year, I learned to design and make clothes. I take long road trips, and when I do I travel the back roads and talk to locals about local things. Each new encounter is responded with love and compassion.

I still get flustered when my sewing machine “shows off,” and I am known to flip out when I am lost. But when I do, I take a short 18-inch trip from my head to my heart and I can see so much more clearly.
Be you, be well, be traveling.

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Combating Collective Fear and Anxiety

 Collective Fear and Anxiety

I’ve been giving a great deal of thought about collective fear and anxiety. More and more lately, folks are forming tribal alliances based on their fears.

The best defense lies not in keeping the so-called wrong people out, but in building confidence, purpose, love and kindness for the folks who are in whatever office group, family, neighborhood, city and country that you are in.

So, what is fear and what are we afraid of?

Fear is defined as an unpleasant emotion that has been caused by a belief  that someone or something is dangerous and likely to cause pain and harm. Anxiety is a feeling of worry, a nervousness or unease about something we perceive to be imminent, having an uncertain outcome. (Oxford)

What we perceive to be real often becomes real in its consequences.

My first after-college job was at a shelter for victims of domestic violence and rape. My second job was as a researcher with the Victim’s Assistance Agency in Jacksonville, Florida.

We served to assess and find ways to best serve people who were victims of crime. This was difficult and often depressing work. Each day I heard accounts of the horrors that victims had experienced, and I sought pathways and resources for healing.

One of my tasks was to help design a city-wide survey that would get a better perspective of the problems victims faced. To start, I created a high level open-ended city-wide questionnaire that would allow us to know what we should be measuring before we even began to measure it.

Several observations became more and more apparent. When I asked people what they feared in regards to crime, the list was long and intense. When I asked the level of fear, the response was great and again rather intense. But then when I asked about the number of times that thing had actually happened, I found something amazing; people who had not experienced the thing had a great deal of fear around it. 

Moreover, while they feared some of everything, they knew absolutely nothing about the resources and solutions that were available if something ever occurred. 
Folks had been buying smoke alarms but had no plan for getting out of a burning house.

In contrast, many of those who had experienced the crime intentionally sought and found ways to live without the fear of it happening again. They had surrounded themselves with love, determination and purpose. They participated in activities that made them feel secure in their own being and they intentionally sought out a healthy community that was not grounded in fear.
But those who had not experienced a crime were busy collecting data to prove that their fears were well founded. 

We have all been marketed and fed a daily diet of so much fear that we’ve become afraid of things that we have not and for the most part, will not experience. Don’t get me wrong, a healthy does of fear keeps us out of danger. However, when we believe that our locks need a lock for their locks we become prisoners in our own lives.

Our anxiety and more specifically, our collective anxiety is extremely high. We are afraid of our neighbors and the "others"; those folks we do not know. Instead of getting to know our neighbor, we collect data on how dangerous our neighbor is and seek ways to keep them out of our fortress. But I need my neighbors. I need them to expand my own perspective.

Instead of addressing out faulty thinking; our theoretical perspective, we go out and collect opinions, observations and poorly organized data to support our feelings and predetermined outcomes.
This is dangerous on so many levels.

This week try to step out of your fear and anxiety.

·       Take a higher view of the thing that is causing you to worry. What and who are you listening to?

·       Assess your paradigm, your theory, your point of view.

·       Be honest with yourself about your part in the problem you see. If you can’t see that you play a part, you won’t see that you have power to change the present and create a better future.

·       Create a plan for change.

·       Execute the plan.

·       Assess your progress.

We have the power to change the world around us, but first, we have to start with our own self.

Be you, be well, be purposefully fearless.

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

The Thing You Seek

Increasing Your Excellence

When I was younger, I didn’t care much for goal setting. Don’t get me wrong, I was focused, determined and driven. I earned my doctoral degree at the age of 26 and was a bit down, because I had told myself that I’d get there by 25.

Still, I preferred setting standards; believing that if you live by the standards you set, you will get to the place you desire. This is true, but only in part. The other part has everything to do with the people you align yourself with and you can’t set and live the standards of others.

With Wes Bush
Then I heard Wes Bush, the brilliant engineer turned CEO of Northrop Grumman. Wes said, “If you want to increase the excellence, you must increase the performance.”

Within this most parsimonious statement lies a marvelous equation for reaching any goal. But, you can’t reach a goal if you don’t set one.

My life is now filled with graphs and charts marking and measuring my performance towards excellence.  
When setting out to do anything new or new again:
  • Don’t look back in shame or regret.
  • Use what you have learned and apply it to what you are      learning.
  • Be grateful for where you are now.
  • Forge new alliances with those who have the skill sets you need.
  • Follow-through daily.
  • Assess daily, weekly and monthly.

          And always remember, "The thing you seek is seeking you." ~Rumi

                                                                       Bertice Berry, PhD.