I pride myself on my productivity and for years prided myself on my ability to “multitask.” I live – LIVE I tell you – for the moment when I can drag my pen across an item on my to-do list. Once I reach a goal, I quickly move on to the next.
That’s what society calls for to be successful, right? Hustling, crushing goals, moving at breakneck speed through life in the pursuit of feeling accomplished? I’ve realized recently that approaching life in that way has left me feeling like I haven’t lived much at all.
What about you—when was the was the last time you watched a tv show without picking up your phone to check your email at some point? Or succeeded at something you’ve worked tirelessly toward and actually savored your win before thinking, “what’s next?”
We’re missing all of the moments that are meant to be savored in the pursuit of productivity.
Here are some ways we can start being active participants in our lives and stop living on autopilot.
1. Tune into your body’s needs.
Pause right now. Take a deep breath. What is your body asking for? Productivity calls for getting ish done regardless of our mental or physical state. But what do you actually need right now? Is it some alone time, a glass of water, or a chance to connect with a friend? Getting still once in a while is necessary for understanding what you need to thrive.
2. Schedule time for nothing.
Adding yet another appointment in order to break free from your to-do list may seem counterintuitive. But if you operate best on a set schedule then actively blocking off time will guarantee time to let your guard down. Block off a few hours in your week to step away from busyness. Give yourself what you need in that particular moment.
3. Take a device-free walk.
Leave the earbuds at home and take the time to listen to your surroundings. Soak in your environment: what you’re hearing, what you’re seeing, and what the ground feels like under your feet. Taking a walk is a simple (and free) act that can keep you in the moment.
4. Get out of your comfort zone.
Do you find yourself turning away from new experiences because they get in the way of being productive? It’s probably time to give yourself a new experience. Trying something new can stimulate curiosity and imagination, which are essential to the human experience.
5. Keep your “why” in mind.
Why are you hustling each day? What are you striving for? In going about your day-to-day keeping the “why” front and center in your mind can keep you grounded in your life purpose and what really matters to you.
6. Celebrate you!
You’ve probably been so focused on what’s needs to be done that you haven’t celebrated all that has been done. The end of the year is a great time to celebrate all that you’ve accomplished this year. Whether you bought a home, traveled somewhere new, or survived a tough emotional situation this year, celebrate it!
Julius P. Williams Elected First African American President of the Conductors Guild
Julius P. Williams, professor in the Composition Department at Berklee College of Music, was named the first African American president of the Conductors Guild. His two-year term began on January 3.
In its 34th year, the Conductors Guild is a global membership organization encompassing conductors of symphony, opera, ballet, choral, band, contemporary, and chamber ensembles. The organization trains and mentors conductors of all ages, races, and education levels.
Williams is also the artistic director and conductor of the Berklee Contemporary Symphony Orchestra; music director and conductor of Trilogy: An Opera Company in New Jersey; composer in residence with the Boston Symphony Orchestra; and is cover to maestro Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops Orchestra.
“The appointment of Julius Williams as president of Conductors Guild is both meaningful and newsworthy. Maestro Williams has not only the stellar credentials, but the right vision, breadth, and leadership to set a powerful example for our field,” said Afa S. Dworkin, president and artistic director of the Sphinx Organization. “We applaud the Conductors Guild on this news and look forward to many inspiring programs and ideas that will undoubtedly emerge.”
Williams’s career has taken him from his native New York to musical venues around the globe and has included virtually every musical genre. He has conducted ensembles at Carnegie Hall, and performances with orchestras in Dallas, Savannah, Hartford, Sacramento, Tulsa, and Knoxville, as well as the Harlem Symphony, Armor Artist Chamber Orchestra, Connecticut Opera, and Kalistos Chamber Orchestra in Boston.
“Julius Williams is a talented leader with years of experience as a prominent conductor and composer,” said Jesse Rosen, president and CEO of the League of American Orchestras. “I’m delighted that he will take the helm at the Conductors Guild.”
The year ahead for the Conductors Guild includes plans for additional conductor training workshops, symposia with leading conductors of the day, including Andris Nelsons and Gianandrea Noseda, as well as an international conference set for February 2020, with Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Orchestre Métropolitain, Montréal.
First Black Man Elected President of the American Nurses Association (ANA)
Ernest Grant, PhD, RN, FAAN, President of the American Nurses Association
A distinguished leader, Dr. Grant has more than 30 years of nursing experience and is an internationally recognized burn-care and fire-safety expert. He previously served as the burn outreach coordinator for the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center at University of North Carolina (UNC) Hospitals in Chapel Hill. In this role, Grant oversaw burn education for physicians, nurses, and other allied health care personnel and ran the center’s nationally acclaimed burn prevention program, which promotes safety and works to reduce burn-related injuries through public education and the legislative process. Grant also serves as adjunct faculty for the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Nursing, where he works with undergraduate and graduate nursing students in the classroom and clinical settings.
Grant is frequently sought out for his expertise as a clinician and educator. In addition to being a prolific speaker, he has conducted numerous burn-education courses with various branches of the U.S. military in preparation for troops’ deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2002, President George W. Bush presented Grant with a Nurse of the Year Award
for his work treating burn victims from the World Trade Center site. In 2013, Grant received the B.T. Fowler Lifetime Achievement Award from the North Carolina Fire and Life Safety Education Council for making a difference in preventing the devastating effects of fire and burn injuries and deaths within the state.
An active participant in professional organizations, Grant is a past chair of the National Fire Protection Association board of directors and served as second vice president of the American Burn Association board of trustees. He also holds membership in Sigma Theta Tau and Chi Eta Phi. Grant served as president of the North Carolina Nurses Association from 2009-11. In 2002, ANA honored Grant with the Honorary Nursing Practice Award for his contributions to the advancement of nursing practice through strength of character, commitment, and competence.
Grant holds a BSN degree from North Carolina Central University and MSN and PhD degrees from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He was inducted as a fellow into the American Academy of Nursing in 2014. He is the first man to be elected to the office of president of the American Nurses Association.
Entrepreneurship-Based Show ‘Hustle’ is Coming to Viceland
Viceland is taking a dip into the startup space with its newest show, Hustle. Just wrapping up production in New York City, the series stars John Henry, a Dominican-American business owner and investor who by 26 has already sold his first company and launched a venture capital fund named Harlem Capital.
The premise of the show is surrounding the new entrepreneur and what it takes to successfully launch a company and get it off the ground. Henry seeks out other New Yorkers, like himself, and helps them turn their business into startups with true potential, pinpointing the exact issues holding them back. He gives them guidance, direction, and resources but, not without putting them to the test. His goal is to set them up with opportunities for their businesses that could potentially catapult them, but it really is up to them whether they sink or rise to the challenges.
So why did Henry take on the challenge of mentoring entrepreneurs in a docu-series format? “When Beth Greenwald originally came to me with the essence of this idea, I knew I wanted to be involved,” says Henry, “We were both passionate to produce and deliver an authentic look at the entrepreneurial journey. Silicon Valley’s narrative has been well documented. But what about the entrepreneurial journey of the rest of the country? And particularly, diverse business owners and entrepreneurs whose perspective has often been overlooked. Thus, Hustle was born.
Hustle puts Henry’s mission of empowering diverse young entrepreneurs on its feet and as he states, “gives the world a new perspective.” That mission has attracted two celebrity entrepreneurs and bona fide New York success stories as executive producers: 15-time Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter, musician, producer, actress, best-selling author, and activist Alicia Keys and multiple award-winning chef and restaurateur, TV personality, best-selling author and philanthropist Marcus Samuelsson. The show premieres Feb. 10.
Caribbean Women Reported as First All-Black Women’s Rowing Team to Cross Atlantic Ocean in Grueling Sport Competition
Four women from Antigua have just completed a grueling rowing competition and many are heralding them as the first all-black women’s rowing team to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Their official team name is Team Antigua- The Island Girls.
Competitive rowers Elvira Bell, Christal Clashing, Samara Emmanuel, and Kevinia Francis participated in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. They set course on Dec. 12 from the Canary Islands and landed in Antigua on Jan. 30—a 3,000-mile trip. A fifth member of the team, Junella King did not actively participate in the race, but trained with the others and served as an alternate.
According to the Indy100 website, the rowing race is one of the toughest in the world. Rowers burn an average of 8,000 calories during the competition.
The women competed in name of their chosen charity, Cottage of Hope, which offers short- and long-term residency to girls who are abused, neglected, or orphaned. Their goal was to raise $150,000 for the organization.
The nation of Antigua burst into collective celebration as the women finished the race. As per The Loop, the country’s government officials shortened a budget debate so that politicians could be present when the team arrived in their homeland. Public and private institutions closed early so that more people could meet with and congratulate the team.
The team battled sea sickness and their boat nearly capsized at one point during their journey, reports The Daily Observer. They were presented with a gift by Antigua’s Prime Minister upon their return.
The team’s website has bios of each team member. Christal Clashing is an adventure guide and travel writer. In 2004, she became the first female swimmer to represent Antigua and Barbuda at the Olympics.
Elvira Bell is a swim instructor and a certified health coach. Samara Emmanuel is the first Antiguan woman to become a certified yacht captain and has more than 12 years’ seafarer experience. She is also a certified day skipper, coastal skipper, yacht master, and boat master among a lengthy list of certifications.
Kevinia Francis is a title-winning, all-around athlete who excels in basketball, cycling, martial arts, and track-and-field.
Junella King is just 17-years-old. She juggles school and sailing while working part-time as a sailing instructor.
Free Admission to National Center for Civil and Human Rights all February Thanks to Coca-Cola
Admission to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights will be free during Black History month thanks to a grant from Coca-Cola. The Coca-Cola Foundation awarded a $1 million grant to the center, located in downtown Atlanta (and next door to the World of Coke museum).
The center announced the news on its website: “The grant will allow free admission for anyone visiting the civil rights landmark starting Monday, January 28 through the end of February. Visitors leave inspired and empowered to join the ongoing dialogue about human rights in their communities. In expectation of crowds, The Center will be implementing timed ticketing for admission. Timed tickets will be available on a first come, first served.”
“There is no better way to celebrate this exciting moment in Atlanta’s history than to give back to our hometown,” said Helen Smith Price, president of The Coca-Cola Foundation in a press release. “We are proud of our city’s remarkable civil and human rights history and are pleased to offer residents and visitors alike the opportunity to learn more about how diversity, inclusion, and unity are central to the story of modern Atlanta.”
Additionally, The Coca-Cola Foundation presented three $100,000 grants to Atlanta-area organizations dedicated to promoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy: The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change; The Joseph and Evelyn Lowery Institute for Justice & Human Rights; and New American Pathways.
The National Center for Civil and Human Rights is a museum that opened in 2014. Its multimedia exhibits relay the story of the American Civil Rights movement.
The Coca-Cola Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the Coca-Cola company. Since its launch in 1984, the foundation has awarded over $1 billion in grants “to support sustainable community initiatives around the world,” according to the foundation’s website.
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Disney Celebrates Black History Month: Gives $1.5 Million to United Negro College Fund and Free ‘Black Panther’ Tickets
The Walt Disney Co. announced it is helping to celebrate Black History Month. The legendary studio is giving a $1.5 million grant to the United Negro College Fund. Additionally, the company will offer free screenings of its mega-hit movie Black Panther from Feb. 1–7, at 250 AMC theaters around the country.
“We know that providing aspiring young minority talent with scholarships and professional development opportunities is vital to making their dreams a reality,” said UNCF President and CEO Dr. Michael Lomax via a press release. “UNCF is grateful for Walt Disney Company’s enduring commitment to expanding these types of opportunities, and we’re excited to continue to do so through our Walt Disney Company/UNCF Corporate Scholars Program. I recall the excitement we all had when Black Panther was first released and it’s fantastic that Disney is bringing the record-breaking movie back to the big screen so that we can relive that excitement. Wakanda Forever!”
Black Panther went on to become the 7th highest-grossing movie of all time in the country and the 14th highest globally.
The movie has captured several Oscar nominations, including awards for Best Picture, Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Original Music Score, Best Original Song, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Sound Editing.
“Black Panther is groundbreaking for many reasons, including the rich diversity of voices behind its success,” said Bob Iger, chairman and chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Co., also through a press release. “The story also showcases the power of knowledge to change the world for the better, and the importance of ensuring everyone has access to it. We’re proud to provide thousands of free screenings of Black Panther in hopes it will continue to inspire audiences and to support UNCF with a $1.5 million grant to make the dream of higher education a reality for more students.”
The Black Panther movie has inspired a new wave of Afrocentrism. For instance, the blockbuster sent demand for African fabrics and clothing, skyrocketing. The movie also inspired hip-hop star, Akon, to create a real-life Wakanda, using the latest technologies of blockchain and cryptocurrency.
Disney has made other donations in the wake of Black Panther’s success. Last year, it donated $1 million to expand STEM programs in Oakland, along with 11 other areas, including Harlem, Chicago, New Orleans, Washington, D.C., and others. The company also gave $1 million to the Girls and Boys Club of America.
CEO Iger also hinted last year that a Black Panther-inspired theme park is in the works.
To see where you can catch the free Black Panther showings, check out the list of the participating AMC theaters.