When on August 3rd, I announced, “Our Celebration of Life Together Continues”, in my thank you message to all our thoughtful friends who had acknowledged our anniversary celebration, I had no preconceived notion of what form the celebration would take. I just knew that my husband and I were committed to celebrating our union on an ongoing basis – come hell or high water. Before I go any further, I want to thank everyone who has since extended sentiments and love to us. We thank you, for placing a smile on our faces as your contribution to our ongoing celebration.
When a delivery from 1-800FLOWERS.com was made a few days later, we were alerted to the reality that we might have to make room for other unexpected contributors to this celebration. As if this mystery package was not enough of a spirit booster, it was the elation that ensued when we set eyes upon the contents that stepped up the experience to the level of a rather successful attempt to minister to us.
This was not just a move to send us flowers to help us celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary. Sarah of Capital One Bank, who according to the accompanying note, I must have connected with recently, had chosen to mark our anniversary with a bouquet of our most favorite flower – purple dendrobium orchid that is symbolic of royalty, admiration, and respect.
As Sarah addressed my banking needs over the phone, it was obvious that she did so with a passion to serve her Capital One clients, and that she had paid attention to my every word and made a decision to reach out to me and my husband in this surprising and exciting way. In case you are wondering, ‘No,’ I did not discuss my love for orchids with her….and ‘Yes’, my husband and I happen to be a couple that does NOT believe in coincidences!
As we extend our gratitude to Sarah (of Capital One Bank), We want to acknowledge the spirit of humanity that Capital One Bank promotes in its workplace. For our suspicion is that in the absence of a culture that significantly touches the lives of their clients, Sarah might have experienced a roadblock when she planned to embrace us in such a sweet way.
As a couple who strives to awaken the spirit of humanity in all areas of our life, we fully appreciate this and say a big Thank You to Sarah and Capital One Bank for touching our lives in this special way.
As can be seen from the pictures below, this special connection which gave us the opportunity to quickly get into gear for an impromptu photo shoot – with selfies and all – was properly savored. A moment we know was initiated by love, compassion and appreciation for humankind that will surely outlast the flowers even as they receive the tender and loving care that they deserve from a place of prominence in our showroom!
On this first day of our 15th year together as husband and wife, and 17th year as friends who built our relationship on a firm foundation of respect, I want to shout out to my husband and to the world at large, my elation for having been given the opportunity to have James A. Lacy as a partner-in-growth.
To my darling husband, I say, “ The Lord above” is at work 14 years after having blessed us with the abundant spirit of mutual love, respect, camaraderie, and satisfaction. Little did I know it would be you, who would personify the Angel that I knew “God had not as yet given birth to” – one that was deserving of, and most capable of reviving a half-way broken spirit, thus causing me to release and share all that was good, kind, gentle, respectful with another; one that would see the importance of dutifully assuming the role of the absolutely exceptional “Dad” you have been to our children who undoubtedly have benefited from interacting with you as an effective male role model.”
Still Smiling and Thankful 2 Years Later
It is an understatement to say that my other half has far exceeded the expectations of my then skeptical self with the manifestation of his understanding of love, legacy and commitment to family. That my parents embraced him as the son they “never birthed”, speaks volumes of this gentle giant who in turn has done nothing short of live up to their expectations.
The Lessons of this Love Affair
What a wonderful thing it is to be able to be so connected that we effortlessly finish each other’s sentences! This closeness, in addition to the exceptional courage my helpmate exudes in the midst of health challenges each and every day, has made our personal trials and tribulations less about us, and more about what we must do when it is our time and our turn to face the challenges of life with full awareness that “it” does not discriminate, and that “it” will stop at everyone’s doorstep sooner or later. This is a fact of life which, once embraced, changes perspectives on how we must conduct business in the Lessons of Life Department.
It is because we both know and appreciate this, that “woe is me” does not exist in our lexicon of life. That we have chosen to use the challenges of our life’s journey to inspire, empower and personify the spirit of gratitude and appreciation, will help keep the “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health” flame burning- not just for us, but for others who care to adopt this mindset.
I also dedicate this to other couples who are experiencing their share of adversity, and, again, here share the following tips that we developed for “When Adversity Strikes”:
THE PERFECT SOLUTION – Madona Cole Originals Dignity Headwear™
When it comes to addressing the fashion and emotional needs of women and girls experiencing hair-loss due to chemotherapy treatment and alopecia, it is without question that there is a lack of user-friendly, functional and stylish head-coverings that are readily available to meet these needs. As this underserved segment of our society deals with their medical challenges, the desire to look and feel intact becomes a matter of necessity. With that in mind, Textile /Fashion Designer and Educator, Madona Cole-Lacy, designed and added the Carolyn Series Turwrap™ and the Rinde´Wrap™ to her Madona Cole Originals Dignity™ Headwear Collection. The Swarovski crystal on each Turwrap™ bought for or by someone who is going through chemotherapy treatment signifies the light that will illuminate the way to victory and the cure for breast cancer.
Madona Cole Originals Dignity™ Headwear are items of wearable art that are designed to bring comfort, flair and dignity to women and girls of all ethnic, social and religious backgrounds. They are also ideal for hat-lovers who simply want to enhance their wardrobe and for those who need help on ‘bad hair days’. Since Madona Cole Originals creations are synonymous with quality lifestyle, there is one to suit everyone’s lifestyle. They range from casual to upscale and from simple elegance to ornate.
“Since every situation is unique, my custom service gives me the opportunity to tailor headpieces to the needs and preferences of my clients. Serious thought goes into each hand-crafted headwear to make it versatile enough to be worn with the ease of a turban/hat or as a head-wrap. My Carolyn Series Turwraps™ and other head-coverings in my collection also come in a wide range of natural fabrics. They are available as one-of-a-kind, custom-made, as well as limited editions. I apply my own original fabric designs so that no two pieces are alike — my way of ensuring that clients never see themselves coming or going as they continue to enjoy their headwear even after treatment”, says the designer.
Through heprograms, Madona Cole-Lacy offers workshops to support groups and community health organizations. These include free workshops that introduce Madona Cole Originals Dignity™ Collection as a viable solution. Other workshops, offered for a fee, serve to: a. boost the self esteem of the participants; b. facilitate hands-on head-wrapping techniques; c. demonstrate practical ways of making a fashion statement with participants’ own accessories.
Currently, a percentage of the sales from Dignity collection™ is donated to Your Time ForCreative Empowerment, Inc. to defray the cost of conducting free workshops for community youth to create original fabric designs on turwraps™ for children and adolescents who are cancer patients. Madona Cole Originals Dignity™ accessories are perfect for gift-giving, and are also ideal items for hospital and hotel gift shops, as well as specialty boutiques. Madona Cole-Lacy is available for cause-related collaborations and fund-raising events.
Creative Director: Madona Cole-Lacy
~ ~ ~
Long Island Teaching Artist and Students Connect the Dots of Multiculturalism and Inclusion with a Coat of Many Cultures™Posted: April 24, 2018
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE The Bellport High School Coat of Many Cultures
Creating Art to Make the World a Better Place
I would like to share a press release and related pictures of an artistic expression which was designed and assembled in collaboration with students of Bellport High School through My Time Has Come Program.
The Coat of Many Cultures™ is a personal development artistic statement that is designed to reflect multicultural pride, self-esteem, respect and appreciation for self and others, and also to, celebrate the common thread that runs through the fabric of mankind – as experienced by all participants.
It is my hope that you will find a way to use the narrative that the Bellport High School Students I worked with have expressed through this Coat of Many Cultures™ to stimulate dialogue around cultural pride/identity and the visual arts through your network.
My Time Has Come Program offers youth and adults The Coat of Many Cultures™ Workshop as one way art and culture can be used as a confidence-building tool that fosters and celebrates multiculturalism, heightens awareness of diversity and promotes inclusion.
While this work of art is scheduled for permanent installation at the Bellport High School in the month of July, 2018, you are welcome to view and or photograph it at my showroom in North Bellmore. I may be reached through e-mail or my cell if you have any questions about the Coat of Many Cultures™ or My Time Has Come Program.
Madona Cole-Lacy, M.A.Ed.
My Time Has Come
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
My Time Has Come
Long Island Teaching Artist and Students Connect the Dots of Multiculturalism and Inclusion with a Coat of Many Cultures™
(Bellmore, New York, March 28, 2018) Madona Cole-Lacy, Long Island Teaching Artist and Creative Director of My Time Has Come Program has collaborated with students of Bellport High School to create a Coat of Many Cultures™ that embraces and celebrates cultural heritage through art. The Bellport Coat of Many Cultures™ – a work of art funded by The South Country Education Foundation – will be on permanent display at the Bellport High School following installation in July 2018.
The giant Coat of Many Cultures™ depicts creative ways students have incorporated various aspects of their cultural identities in a series of theme-based textile designing and print-making workshops at the school. With a focus on heightening the students’ sense of pride, belonging and accomplishment, Mrs. Madona Cole-Lacy, motivated students to connect with their roots to create panels of original art inspired by their cultural heritage and countries of origin. These panels and elements of the artist’s own cultural heritage and her original textile art have formed the foundation of the work of art for students from Mrs. Barbara Gallagher’s art class and Mrs. Monica Tetuan’s ESL class in the residency.
The Coat of Many Cultures™ which is currently at the Artist’s showroom in Bellmore, New York, is scheduled for permanent installation at the Bellport High School in July 2018.
“What is so exciting about designing a Coat of Many Cultures™ is my encounter with participants who have never given thought to the role art and culture play in their lives. To see them delve into the task at hand once they ‘get it’ is simply priceless! Another element of excitement for me is brought on by the anticipation of what each coat will look like. The enthusiasm and resulting work of my workshop participants determine the nature of the end product. It is an ongoing visual, emotional and cultural response to what they offer me that makes the creative expression authentic and satisfying.” -Madona Cole-Lacy-
For further details on the Coat of Many Cultures or how My Time Has Come creatively engages students, parents, teachers and community, visit the website: http://www.mytimehascome.org or contact Madona Cole-Lacy: (516) 965-3242 firstname.lastname@example.org
Bellport High School Contact: Mrs. Barbara Gallagher BGallagher9@southcountry.org
About Madona Cole-Lacy
Mrs. Cole-Lacy is a Teaching Artist registered with Eastern Suffolk and Nassau BOCES. She was born in Sierra Leone, West Africa, to parents who were instrumental in giving her a broad educational experience by making it possible for her to study art and design in both England and the United States. Madona Cole-Lacy takes full advantage of her multi-cultural and professional teaching experiences and skills gained from working with youth and adults in schools, colleges and communities to passionately motivate, educate and inspire her workshop participants as she acquaints them with a variety of art-making techniques.
Through My Time Has Come Program Madona Cole-Lacy uses “art, culture and education as a vehicle with which society can develop and maintain self-esteem, as well as, cultivate racial/ethnic and generational tolerance.”
“Our goal is to foster a sense of belonging, accomplishments and pride for all participants.” – Madona Cole-Lacy-
My Time Has Come is the second “dot” of creativity in Madona Cole-Lacy’s quest to take ART and CREATIVITY beyond the confines of the studio to impact life in a number of positive ways through her concept “I Connect the Dots of Creativity”. Please visit: http://www.iconnectthedotsofcreativity.org for more on this philosophy.
Download press release
# # #
1. Mrs. Cole-Lacy with the Bellport High School Coat of Many Cultures™ in her showroom. Coat is set for permanent display at the school.
2. Mrs. Cole-Lacy at work on Coat of Many Cultures™
3. Mrs. Madona Cole-Lacy, dressed in her cultural attire, the Krio Kabaslot, acquaints students with the Coat of Many Cultures™ Project
4. Mrs. Madona Cole-Lacy demonstrates hand-stamping techniques at My Time Has Come Coat of Many Cultures™ Residency at Bellport High School
5. Art Teacher, Mrs. Gallagher, and Artist, Mrs. Cole-Lacy, entertain questions from students during demonstration of hand-stamping process at Bellport High School
6. MTHC Program Workshop Facilitator works with student on panel for Coat of Many Cultures™ Workshop
7. Bellport HS students preparing stamps for print-making on Irish Linen fabric
Madona Cole-Lacy, M.A.Ed.
As one who has been known to say “Thank You, but not now”, I feel obligated to express my innermost thoughts on the reason why it was so easy to say “yes, we accept” when nominated for the Valens Award by Excellence-in-Success. My initial response was that it will be “a necessary boost to the Spirit!” which we needed in order to take a break from our “new normal” of almost daily doctor’s appointments and seemingly endless paperwork. That, though, would have been too empty and self-serving; so it quickly turned into a mission to advocate for love, camaraderie, and hope for all, including an important component….to give others a reason to show up and be relevant even in the midst of challenges that often force them into hibernation from the public. We believe we serve humanity no purpose when we as a people create this type of scenario that causes those experiencing setbacks in their life to protect themselves from the sometimes unempathetic dissociation that comes about in times like these. Who can blame anyone for protecting themselves from man-made additional stress while they have bigger fish to fry?
The Valens Award presented to me and my husband as a couple who “demonstrate unconditional commitment to each other” is one that we fully and wholeheartedly accepted last Saturday at the Brentwood Country Club; knowing that this gesture would be an opportunity to further our resolve to live a purposeful life to the best of our abilities, and to inspire others to keep this flame burning. We thank Mr. & Mrs. Leslie Lambert for this opportunity.
Our guests whom we regard as our extended family members joined our immediate family members to show their spirit of commitment and support to us at a moment’s notice.
We acknowledge the loving support of Rev. Dr. & Mrs. Edward Corley who were represented by their son and daughter-in-law. Our gratitude goes out in large measure to the following people who were in attendance: Miss Madona Branch, Mr. Hugh Lacy, Dr. Roxane Lacy, Ms. Zellin Lowe, Ms. Letoria Haughton, Mr. & Mrs. James Daniels, Mr. & Mrs. Kevin Taylor, Mr. & Mrs Edward D. Corley, Mr. & Mrs. Clyde James, Dr. & Mrs. Leroy Monroe and Ms. Florence Whitfield.
Along with the excitement of being the recipients of the Valens Award, we at the same time, wondered why we should be honored for doing what we were mandated to do when we took our vows in 2004…to love, honor and fully embrace each other in “good times and in bad”. Once we arrived on the scene, we were able to experience the benefits of being in a room full of like-minded couples who had inspirational stories – each with their own unique twists to their experiences.
We were delighted to be in the same league of a fine group of couples whose devotion to one another indeed deserved the radiant spotlight of the Excellence-in-Success Valens Award.
Some fellow honorees and their guests even took time out to minister to us. How wonderful that was! We thank them for allowing the spirit of love to move them in this way. We are honored to have participated in such an inspiration-filled evening— with stories from all angles of life experiences as proud couples shared their own unique stories about their relationships at the podium, and through their turning point statements read by Alicia Figueras-Lambert as she introduced them.
Below is the turning point statement of our relationship.
How We Do It
James and Madona demonstrate resilience in their relationship through their capacity for weathering adversity and maintaining normalcy in their navigation of James’ serious health challenge over the past three years –demonstrating the true essence of partnership “in sickness and in health”. The couple regards this turning point in their collective lives, as one for strengthening an already tight bond of love, devotion, mutual support, respect and partnership in all arenas of their life; driven by the sentiments reflected in a Valentines tribute composed in February 2016 and recorded by James in 2017 entitled “Be My Valentine” by James Lacy (https://youtu.be/EdG-GFvYAYo)
When Adversity Strikes…Pay the Lessons of Your Experiences Forward with Love!
It is our hope that people will begin to see they are not irrelevant and useless when the sideshows of life strike. On that score, we will now share in love a few tips of what has worked for us as a couple navigating such sideshows. Please click on link for PDF copy.
It was a few weeks ago on October 14th that I was afforded the privilege of marking one more year with my husband and soulmate, James A. Lacy. The celebration and acknowledgement of his birthday took on a new form for me this year!
It was not about how early in the day I could get a social media posting going to alert friends about his birthday. No, that was not on the agenda this year. Besides, I know of at least one portal that generates birthday alerts that gives well-wishers the opportunity to acknowledge birthdays. Some did make good use of that to express birthday sentiments, and I thank them for that. Others celebrated him by sending him text messages, making phone calls, and in the old-fashioned way- – -by being physically present and taking charge of what turned out to be a rather meaningful and unique surprise informal gathering which underscored a variety of themes aimed at celebrating and sincerely acknowledging his sweet spirit from a close vantage point.
It is not surprising that the celebration did not end on the day of his birthday as more extended family members have since stopped by to show him some love!
My heartfelt gratitude goes to all who contributed to making Birthday 2017 ever so exciting for him.
As I mark my own birthday in the hospital waiting room today, with much anticipation of the answers to questions that have cropped up of late, I cannot think of a better way to spend my time than to write this open letter for all to understand what my husband means to me. I hope by doing this, more people would open up and subscribe to a culture that accommodates the celebration of humankind in a grand way – as the default modus operandi – be it in celebration of the spouse, the offspring, the neighbor, the boss or Joe Blow! Here goes!
Love, respect and reciprocity engender credit for the role our partners play in empowering us. I invite you to share your story.
My dearest Darling Jim:
In addition to being grateful for “One More Year”, my position with regards to celebrating you is one which takes the form of daily in-the-moment meaningful interactions that bear as much significance as the birthday milestone itself. Giving credit where credit is due, I thank God for using Rev. Dr. & Mrs. Thomas Lacy to manifest his handiwork in the form of the kind, gentle, courageous and selfless human being that I know you to be. As I celebrate you, I thank God for blessing me with a partner of such courage, resilience, stamina, caliber, and integrity, …and for heeding to my prayer that if there was ever to be a second time around, it was going to have to be with a man (an earthly Angel) who possessed the qualities you possess, my darling.
Even though you have- – – along with me- – -subscribed to a real life demonstration of what happens when we ask for what we want—knowing that once we play our own part, our wishes do stand the chance of coming true—I cannot in good conscience embrace this “ask-do-believe concept”, without doing the same for our resolve to navigate to the best of our abilities, the unwelcome guests that come in the form of serious health challenges we are currently navigating. Your propensity for grace to precede all – – -while under fire- – -is second to none! You have effectively subscribed to a new definition of what it means to gracefully navigate life-altering challenges. I thank you for making it so much easier for me to keep my composure and focus on the important lessons of our journey. I am proud to say that you and I are card-carrying members of a breed that embraces emotional and spiritual growth in the midst of life’s calamities and its resulting side shows as its status quo. How wonderful!
Come Hell or High Water!
You know what is so special about our partnership? It is the unwavering awareness of our role on this earth – our unshakable raison d’être that brings and maintains meaning to our collective lives. Thank you for being the perfect “accomplice” to a mindset which effortlessly dictates that even as we go through our own trials and tribulations, if we could “help somebody along the way”, our “living shall not be in vain”!
You are truly a Class Act…and a Half!
I will continue to smile for you, knowing that you are right for me, and I am right for you, my darling…in sickness and in health! You are the best birthday gift I can wish for today! I suspect Mama, Samuel and Madona understand why they have to play second fiddle at this time. 🙂
What a pleasure it was to be in the company of willing adult learners (plus one child) who did not hesitate for one moment to unleash the textile artist in them as they recently designed their own unique holiday silk scarves! The sole elementary school student participant was just as comfortable. She confirmed my suspicion when she loudly declared something to the effect of, ” I am enjoying myself”.
With the exception of two participants with some art background, these ladies came in ready for the challenge-not knowing what to expect. It is clear to me from the nature of my interaction with each artist, that their anxieties were quickly laid to rest when they began to appreciate the fact that what they initially regarded as “mistakes” during a creative process were now valuable opportunities to expand their reach and embrace their own creative spirit in a manner that they can truly be proud of. This was true for those who thought they had “messed up” their work! After a few demonstrations, they could see for themselves how creativity and the concept of messing up just do not mesh!
If you are by now thinking that I quite enjoyed facilitating this Workshop, you are right. It was yet another pleasant reminder of why I have chosen to utilize my passion for the arts to creatively communicate and interact with others!
Thank You, goes to Jude Schanzer, the Director of Public Relations and Programming, of the East Meadow Public Library for granting me an opportunity to share my creative talent with the library’s patrons. I thank the workshop participants whose enthusiasm reinforced the “why I do, what I do factor” of my artistic journey and my other half, James Lacy – a fine example of one who believes in unconditional love and support!
Madona Cole-Lacy, M.A.Ed., Program Director/Facilitator
Madona Cole-Lacy is a registered Nassau and Eastern Suffolk BOCES Teaching Artist and can be reached at email@example.com
My Time Has Come Program Provides art-related workshops for Schools * Libraries * Faith and Community-Based Organizations.
Promotes and Supports Equality * Inclusion * Diversity.
Fosters a sense of belonging, accomplishment and pride gained from the creation of well executed culturally-inspired works of art.
Develops skills and techniques in the execution of handcrafted contemporary and multicultural textile designs and visual arts.