As we head towards the end of 2023, our Cultures Connecting team is reflecting on this past year. Kenzie Gandy, our Administrative Specialist, left in spring after seeing us through the pandemic. Judy Lee came on board soon after as Support & Projects Manager. We wish Jerod Grant well as he leaves after five years with us as a Racial Equity Specialist. We recently hired our newest team member whom we look forward to introducting you to in the new year. We've seen lots of changes while our committment to our foundational beliefs remained the same.
As we come to the close of 2023, we are each reflecting on what we've learned, ways we've grown, and what we are looking forward to next year.
Life Lesson: I’ve learned to not just tell others the importance of self-care, but to actually practice it for myself. One way I’ve been practicing it this year is I blocked my calendar every Friday at noon to stop working.
Gratitude: I continue to be grateful to God for how much He has done in my life and for my family.
Looking forward to 2024: Continuing to try new things with the business.
Life Lesson: I recently had to make a hard decision where sticking to our foundational beliefs at Cultures Connecting meant I lost an opportunity for work and an opportunity to collaborate with a respected colleague. I'm sitting with the fact that living with integrity means my motivations may be misunderstood by some, but centering justice means how I'm seen is not central to my decision making.
Gratitude: I am surrounded by a community of amazing, loving, brilliant, witty people. In each relationship, we challenge and support each other in unique ways. I will never again take for granted being able to hug each other and spend time indoors and out together.
Looking forward to 2024: I just applied for a doctorate program and I'm hoping I get in!
Life Lesson: The importance of presence…with my family, with my thoughts and feelings, with what is in front of me, with joy. The last couple years have brought challenges to my family that have me always thinking about what I need to do, where I need to be, what needs to be done, etc. I’ve missed some moments while being physically present, but with my mind elsewhere. The practice of presence and being where my feet are at.
Gratitude: I’m grateful for my wife, Rashanah. I’m not just saying this to sound all sweet. She has so much wisdom, moves with intention, love, ALWAYS centers the community, and a has boldness that I admire and get to witness everyday. I’m grateful that she reminds me of who I am and the beautiful family that we have created in moments I might forget.
Looking forward to 2024: I’m looking forward to creating spaces that center joy, healing, and community; to return to imagination and creativity. I’m looking forward to immersing myself in spaces and places that allow me to pause, breathe, and create. I’m looking forward to capturing memories with my family, intentional time with our kids, learning new things that inspire me, and dates with my boo.
Life Lesson: The importance of connection. Our circle of family and friends experienced the loss of loved ones, health scares, broken relationships, job loss, financial uncertainties, and other challenges this past year. When times are stressful, I tend to take things for granted. I often put my head down going through the day, checking things off my list, often without regard for others. The disruption of unexpected news this past year invited me to realize that I had more capacity than I realized and to check in with people.
Gratitude: This year, I am most grateful for the little things. A moment of laughter, a meal with friends, an unexpected text from an old friend. In the turbulence of the last few years, I am grateful for the moments that remind me of what matters most for me, family and friends.
Looking forward to 2024: Our Cultures Connecting team is changing and I am excited to see how this change will challenge us, add to us and grow us.
Life Lesson: Joy and grief. While this is a lesson I've been learning for a while now, this year in particular felt like a practice in embracing both. There was so much loss and letting go but with that came many new relationships and opportunities.
Gratitude: I am most grateful for the community of artists I've discovered when I closed my portrait studio and decided to focus on social justice art projects. The many authentic and vulnerable connections I've made within the emerging artist community, as well as seeing how they support and uplift each other has been inspiring! I'm also grateful for our dog Isabelle who came to live with us after the unexpected death of my cousin. She is an old dog but I'm grateful we can give her a comfortable home to live out the rest of her life.
Looking forward to 2024: Getting to experience another year of life. While I've planted some seeds with my art projects that I'm hoping will bloom, I'm looking forward to the adventure of not knowing exactly what 2024 will bring.