My Items

Things I've written. Thoughts. Memories. Musings. Life.

The Gift of Time

The Gift of Time

In my latest podcast, I talk about The Gift of Time, what it means to me and some recommendations for investments in time that can enrich your life and those whose lives you touch during your precious time on the planet. My dear friend and former graduate student Linda McShan allows me to muse for an hour or more from her podcast headquarters in downtown Los Angeles, and keeps us connected as we continue on our journeys, having met in 2017 and insisting on staying in touch--I love her soul. https://www.blogtalkradio.com/lmacknetwork/2022/05/20/waking-up-with-linda-mcshan-cross-country-connect-karen-bergh #timeisagift #timeisyours #livefully #investinexperiences #investinpeople

Something Borrowed, Something Blue

Something Borrowed, Something Blue

I don't often post purely personal items, but to commend a character that has paid a major role in my journey over the past two years—during the pandemic and a move from California to Arkansas—I want to share my tribute to Blue, Jimmy Mack's Jeep Liberty that he recently sold in order to accept his aging father's gift of his later-model Toyota truck. It has been a sad thing, to see his father, 89, no longer able to drive. And, it was sad, too, to say goodbye to the many and great memories Jimmy and I made driving to our adventures together in Blue, or him in Blue and me in my Prius or RV, "Tess." We have had an amazing time together..."all of us," lol. Jimmy and his many characters (he is always entertaining me and making me laugh) have been such a joy. Bye Bye Blue...End of an era. We will miss you.

The art of doing nothing

The art of doing nothing

Having lived 62 years in the ecosystem of our western culture that promotes "busy-ness" and capitalistic pursuits, my quest to learn to slow down has taken judicious and intentional study. The notion of "just being" is foreign. Learning to disrupt the pressure to be productive takes real skill and a conscious effort. My latest podcast chat with LA's Linda McShan produced an exploration of what it takes to "do nothing," and presents models from music and film, Taoist philosophy, and finally, dogs as ready references for learning to be fully present in a restful state. Baloo the Bear taught us that if we understood the "Bare Necessities" of life (from the Disney classic "The Jungle Book"), we could learn to strip back unnecessary complications in life and greatly reduce stress and induce happiness. Sages of the ancient Chinese Taoist tradition implore us to empty ourselves of conventional social values and cultural ideas and to cultivate wúwéi, a concept literally meaning "inexertion," "inaction," or "effortless action." And, I draw upon the magic of dogs, the loveliest of mammalian creatures who have the utter gift of living purely in the present, and reminding us to do so in the way they show up in the world and connect to our lives, and souls... Here is the link. (listening time is 1 hour) *Dedicated to Sophie the Dog

Ukraine torn in two, and into bits...

Ukraine torn in two, and into bits...

“They say that generals are the last ones who want to go to war because, unlike politicians, they know what it leads to.” (Unattributed quote) Ukrainian capital Kyiv is invaded by Russian forces 2-24-2022, move to "decapitate" political leadership About 7 years ago, I worked with a Fulbright researcher at the University of Redlands, who had left Ukraine to pursue her career opportunities. The country had been divided politically and economically for years, and Putin's advances on both fronts have been unrelenting. Dr. C has, along with her husband, continued to have success in her career pursuits, some in Ukraine and the most recent in Germany. Back in those days, she told us about how the western part of the country is more westernized, and the eastern regions more tied to their Russian roots, culture, and politics. West = more cities and population centers, diverse industry and booming economy; East = more agrarian and less dense population centers, not as much economic growth. Dr. C guest lectured in my Marketing Management course for MBA students one day at my invitation. The cohort's challenge that day was to listen to Dr. C's lecture on potential growth sectors in Western Ukraine, do a quick study of the economic profiles she presented, research additionally online using their laptops in class, and report back by the end of the class session their ideas for consumer products within emerging or growth industries that "the people would want" and that would continue to bolster the thriving western economy. It was an excellent exercise to see these Southern California-based students, most of them working adults in the mid-careers, stretching outside their usual purviews to imagine the lives and aspirations of the Ukrainian people. Those 25 or so MBA students based in Redlands, California, were able to make a real, human connection to a young professional from Ukraine. I am sure their hearts, like mine, go out to the people of Ukraine.

Holiday greetings

Holiday greetings

Self-love: it's not a bad thing

Self-love: it's not a bad thing

This is a big topic, especially for those raised in the Christian ethos who have been encouraged to believe that love of self is, in modern terms, a selfish act (not at all what Jesus taught, by the way). I am not prepared to tackle the topic today, but, it was on my mind so I am posting a link to an article in Bustle that I thought offered a nice introduction and a helpful perspective: https://www.bustle.com/articles/172667-11-habits-that-encourage-self-love-because-you-deserve-to-feel-good-about-yourself

I'm ok.

I'm ok.

One of the ideas that I explored via the podcast with my friend and former grad student, Linda McShan, over the past several months is how I have come to appreciate the ability to observe my life while also living in it. Linda is in LA and I am in Arkansas, so we meet via telephone and she tapes our discussions on her podcast platform. I post them here on my website, with the recordings saved as links in my "Blog" tab. Linda and I talked about how the "hamster path" of routines keeps us from flying off into the abyss, but that while the familiarity and comfort of those routines is important to feel grounded, I am also driven by my equal and just-as-important need to explore and learn and grow. These days, I find myself with more time to be "less busy," and to just enjoy my life. No longer on a career path, I still have to work, but I no longer have the pressures or demands of building a career. Now divorced, I can still pursue relationships if I want, but I no longer have the pressures or demands of a marriage. Having just bought my first home by myself, I no longer have the pressures or demands of joint ownership in an asset or binding partnership. Now an empty-nester, I no longer have the daily demands that come with motherhood. What a wonder to wake up one day and realize that I no longer spend my time, energy, and talent in the whirlwind of roles I had constructed for my life. I don't regret any of those chapters, don't get me wrong. I wouldn't have done it any other way. And yet, now that I have flung myself back out into the planet of possibilities, of reshaping the time and energy I have left on the globe, I am enjoying this "brand new kind of me." (Thanks, Alicia Keys.) And yet, with this blank slate...I kinda sorta know something about myself, I kinda sorta have a general direction in life, I kinda sorta have some paths I am on...I still feel clueless most of the time. Having a growth mindset means you are always restless. Always seeking. I find that my lack of knowing not only creates my own unrest, but puts me at odds with others. I can admire those who say they have locked down who they are, and can shut out the world and "just be" who they are and not even need other people. I also can admire the gurus who think they have it all figured out. Their aha moments have led them to heights of fame, being looked up to and sought after, and some have even gotten rich by creating followers of their words. Many conduct their lives in the public sphere. This is my first time doing it. Blogging, claiming a space in the life coaching world, writing, publishing, speaking... In my family of origin, we would call that "navel gazing." My own father is probably watching me from the other side (he died in 2013) with a disdain for this very public exploration of self and sharing my thoughts with the world as I have them. Who cares what you think, KB? No one, really. But that doesn't stop me from being me. And, from having those thoughts. And for expressing them. In summary, the "brand new kind of me" is ok. I don't have a problem with being ok. Ok is good even. And I thank everyone who has ventured into this space with me, also seeking their "ok-ness."

"I just need 15 more minutes"

"I just need 15 more minutes"

I went on retreat this weekend. For solitude. For expanding time. And for giving presence to my thoughts and dreams. I found some of that. And, I experienced life-giving connections to nature and people. But, I still found myself telling myself along the way: "I just need 15 more minutes."

Getting reacquainted with hope

Getting reacquainted with hope

Getting reacquainted with the feeling of hope is strange in the best way. It's been a long, hard road... With the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act signed into law last week, there are a few glimmers. Several of these affect me and members of my family directly. According to the latest news: So, ARP has ensured distribution of $1,400 stimulus checks throughout the U.S. (I received mine last night.) It also provided much-needed relief to small businesses hardest hit by Covid; expanded access to emergency paid leave and unemployment benefits; extended critical financial assistance to help secure housing for people experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, homelessness; and bolsters programs like SNAP (which some of my family members need). The ARP will reduce overall poverty by nearly one-third and cut child poverty nearly in half, largely due to a major expansion of the child tax credit (CTC). As we approach the 11th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act's introduction (which some of my family members still benefit from), the ARP will increase tax credits for health insurance, ensuring that no one pays more than 8.5% of their household income toward the cost of benchmark or less expensive plans. We're now seeing the U.S. step into a leadership role, with increased testing, a national vaccination plan that includes equitable distribution plans (most of my family has now received their doses of the vaccine), and funding to safely reopen schools. I don't know about you and your family. But, I'm grateful, at this time.

A new state (of being)

A new state (of being)

Some people resist change, and spend most of their waking hours buttressing their “same old, same old” or the “familiar.” Their focus and energy goes to creating predictability, running their “hamster paths” of life, staying safe, reducing risks, and protecting their comfort zone. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with this approach. In fact, it is their presumed stability and security that gives them their satisfaction and comfort in life. But what happens when you shake up that very foundation, and challenge yourself by allowing—even creating—quite a bit of personal discomfort for the sake of personal growth and change?

In prior posts, we talked about how cultivating a growth mindset actually conditions you to take on challenges and learn from them, and can, in fact increase your abilities and achievement. Remember, Dweck’s research showed how having a growth mindset allows you to thrive on challenge and see failure “not as evidence of unintelligence but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities.” I often use my trapeze analogy to remind clients that when you reach out for the “other bar” as you are swinging out over the abyss, the open space between MAY be terrifying…but, it also creates the openness and freedom to seize new opportunities, see new vistas, encounter new people, find new perspectives, feel exhilaration…hey, you’re FLYING, right?! You swing out over the abyss, letting go of the familiar. On the “old” trapeze bar, you are letting go: of things and people you don’t need, hangups and toxicity that no longer serve you well. You mourn, you grieve, you hurt, you cry, you may even strike out. You close doors. You say good-bye. You “unfriend.” But, wait, you say, when you move, aren't you just you taking your baggage with you—“you can’t outrun yourself,” you may have heard...? But what if that’s not true? What if a “do over” really can produce a “new and improved” you? When you head out in a new direction, you can’t help but put one foot in front of the other. You may feel unguided, uncertain, lonely, alone, unsure. But if you keep on walking, keep looking, stay open, seek…you will find. In this mindset, the hand you choose (or are dealt) is just the starting point for development. How can you learn to trust the process? The hardest part of truly letting go, starting over, moving to a “new state” (a place, a way of being) is learning to trust the process. Connections will come. People will extend themselves to you. Opportunities will arrive. You will grab onto that bar on the other side of the abyss. We have uncanny abilities as human beings to effectively reproduce the conditions we need for happiness, fulfillment, security, love, friendship, family, spirituality, a home. AND, most importantly, you need to learn to trust your own decisions. Don’t avoid growth and change because fear keeps you from moving forward. “Make a decision, then make the decision right.” So go on...Jump in the river, and swim! If you don’t, you won’t get across. Only you can decide, after all, if the decision is right or wrong. Only you can dwell, and let those anchors drag you down. My friend, Linda McShan calls these hard knocks or lessons “growth notches,” like growing to become a strong, tall redwood tree.

"They create a lot of experience, and strength, and growth," she adds. Just a couple of notes, then, about learning to have confidence in your decisions, and not second-guessing yourself, as you put yourself in new and uncomfortable situations in order to grow. 1. Trust yourself. Making a decision sometimes forces you to grow in areas where you are not comfortable. 2. Choose to think differently. If you THINK you have made a mistake, stop dwelling on the idea of having made a wrong decision. No decision is irreversible, first, and second, you are doing the best the can on any given day, with the information that you have. 3. Don’t catastrophize. Don’t imagine the worst. 4. Reflect on what you are learning. Yep, sometimes you learn from your mistakes. But, sometimes, they aren’t really mistakes…you’re just learning from the decisions you make. Especially the scary ones! 5. Get comfortable with mistakes. No one is perfect. And, even “masters” in their field of endeavor started out NOT being good at what they do! Cut yourself some slack, all learning is good. Maybe you’re not “dumb,” you’re just “new.” Think about it; if you haven’t done it before, you are simply learning or doing something new. And that’s exciting. Here’s a quote to leave you with: “Good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from simply making decisions.” ~Coach Karen Here's the accompanying podcast on this topic: https://www.blogtalkradio.com/lmacknetwork/2020/12/11/waking-up-with-linda-mcshan-karen-bergh-think-thursday

Is it news?

Is it news?

DO I NEED A NEWS RELEASE? Occasionally, my "several professions" overlap, and although today's post isn't about life design, it IS about communicating change...in a way. I work with an organization that needed to know more about when a "news release" is warranted. (By the way, we don't really call them "press releases" anymore, because the meaning of "press" has changed so much.) So, in the spirit of sharing with readers of this blog, or anyone else interested in the run-down...here are my thoughts on the topic: "Do I need a news release?" ------- First, the definition. A news release is a brief document that shares something newsworthy you or your stakeholders have done with the press and other media outlets. You usually send a news release to journalists and editors who may use your timely information to write a news article, or interview the subject or beneficiaries of the news. News releases are important to journalists, bloggers, and influencers because their readers/listeners/followers are interested in YOUR NEWS. Second, what questions do you need to answer in order to construct a usable news release? AUDIENCE & TIMING Who’s it for? What should the timing be? Who is the news intended for? Who is your audience? Is this the best way to share the news with them? What do they read? Watch? Listen to? Who are primary influencers? What other ways could you reach your intended audience with the news? Is the information timely? Are you using the information to inform audiences of a deadline or asking them to take action? Are you allowing your audience enough time to respond? PURPOSE & RESPONSE Why is the news being shared? What do you want your audience to do? Is the topic an achievement to provide recognition? Has any other entity or partner organization already promoted the news? Does the news or topic support a goal of our programs or stakeholders? Do we want the audience to DO something, or TAKE ACTION? Some examples (these happen to be related to school operations): A grant cycle is approaching, and we want to issue a news release to distribute the deadline for applications widely through city and community (or other)
media outlets AND Social Media. In this case you may want to direct your
audience to the web page where the application is posted. An assessment cycle is approaching, and we want to issue a news release to
remind parents and communities that “testing time is coming.” In such a case,
you may want to direct your audience to the assessment calendar web page. Is the news release simply sharing information? If no action is needed or intended, what is the justification or support for the information in the news release? CONTENT & QUOTES News releases are written to be brief, accurate, and readable. They are generally between 400 to 600 words, and follow a specific format that journalists are accustomed to using.

In the old days, journalists would still write a story from your news release. But these days, it is often the case that an editor could post your information as it is! Nonetheless, the typical news release is designed for use by media, such as: Newspapers Magazines Radio and TV stations Local bloggers Online news sites Community organization newsletters Podcast hosts Talk show hosts News releases provide detailed information without the use of superlatives or narratives. A journalist, blogger or influencer wants to be informed, not SOLD. In addition, we must avoid the temptation to use our industry or sector jargon, or insider terminology. Acronyms can only be used after the first reference spells out the title in its complete, long or original form! A news release can provide the base for other communications tools. It’s a good place to start to get the “Who, What, Where, When, How, and Why” in one short document, and then the details can be adapted for other forms of media, such as Social Media outlets, or a script, etc. A news release must have all facts checked, and verified, by the sources of the information. The information must be accurate, approved, and not mislead or misrepresent any information or people mentioned.

Your communications advisor/Public Relations professional can prepare a quote for you. It’s allowed! The quotes are helpful to express the tone, emphasis, and main message that is being attributed to the person for whom the quote is being written. In other words, we DO put words in your mouth, if you are the subject matter expert or program lead, but YOU can edit/approve the quote for accuracy and to make sure it “sounds like you!” A news release is different than a Media Advisory. A Media Advisory is very short, generally is used without narrative or explanation, and includes the Who, What, Where, When (for example a notice or announcement of an upcoming meeting). CONTACT INFORMATION A news release or Media Advisory should always include contact information for the public relations professional who fields inquiries from the media.

Include: CONTACT: First Name Last Name PHONE: (xxx) xxx-xxxx
EMAIL: xxxxxxx@xxxxx.xxx POSSIBLE NEWSWORTHY ITEMS: Program launches: new programs often make for good news pieces
Events: these can offer reporters something timely and interesting to share with their audiences Deadlines: program applicants or participants may need an announcement or Media Advisory to get information on their calendars or remind them of a deadline
Partnerships: if you team up with another noteworthy organization, the media may want to know
Research: unique data and original insights are helpful to people’s lives Awards: these work best if you can tie them back to your work; your organization would not necessarily promote an award, especially if the granting organization has already issued their news release announcing your awardee

The graceful 'no'

The graceful 'no'

Over this past month, I've been busy saying "yes" to life. I have set into motion quite a bit of change, including a move across country to explore new climes and opportunities. After all, what kind of life coach would I be, I quip to my friends and family, if I couldn't go through the processes I encourage and support my clients through?? I always have time to grow, and am keenly interested in making the most of every minute of my life; now more than ever, I feel this pressing need to live life to the fullest (we are not promised tomorrow)! Saying "yes" is sometimes easier than saying "no," isn't it? As we write the chapters of our lives, we often find that we can say "yes" to ourselves, and to others. But, it's also important to learn how to say "no" to others. Especially as we further recalibrate according to the priorities and goals we have set for ourselves. Saying "no" sometimes makes space and time for us to create what we really want for ourselves. Here are some better known and circulated phrases that you may use, or adapt, when you find yourself needing to create more time for your own priorities, or when you want to avoid giving too much or simply giving in... "Thank you for thinking of me! I wish I could, but it's just not possible right now." "I hate saying 'no' to you, but I really must at this time...!" "I'd love to help you, but I just don't have the time." "This isn't a good time for me. I have other commitments. I'll let you know if I can spend time on it later..." "What a wonderful invitation! But I'm sorry I can't accept it, I'm otherwise committed..." "I really wish that I could, but it's just...impossible. (or..."impossible right now.")" "I'll have to say 'no' to that, but might I suggest..." Remember, you don't have to volunteer your priorities: you have a right to them, with NO justification. Also, do not request that someone ask you again later, if it's NOT an opportunity you are interested in, or if it's something you do NOT want to do. If you truly want to help someone out, but can't help them yourself, you can suggest other ideas or connections for them...or, you can offer some other kind of support you might be open to. You might ask: "How else might I support you?" and see if there is a request that is more palatable for you! If you have other ideas for the "graceful no," please feel free to drop me a note via this website.