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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
It may not have been obvious to anyone at the Holy Trinity Baptist Church of Amityville that particular Sunday morning, that they were part of a God ordained assignment set to enrich the spirit and soul. When we were alerted to Reverend Dr. Kevin M. Northam’s visit to Long Island from Dinwiddie, VA, my husnand and I knew that would be a great opportunity to worship with, and possibly bond with extended family members from Virginia. This turned out to be a dot-connecting experience for us on October 9, 2016, as Reverend Northam set out to explain the role of love in the lives of believers based on Matthew 15: 21-28 (A mother desperately seeking help for her child).
“Somebody probably told her the Lord is good…but we need to do research for ourselves. You’ve got to get to know him for yourself”
On the mindset of the mother seeking help for her daughter
* “She could not solve or handle her child’s problem, so she went to the problem solver …She followed Jesus.”
* “She went to Jesus out of her love for her child – when we love someone, we will go to all lengths to seek help for them.”
A word for the church
* “The disciples said: ‘Send her away for she cries after us.’ ‘We don’t even know her name…all you need to know is that the Lord knows your name.'”
* “This woman could say to us, ‘You might not think much of me because when Matthew wrote about me, he didn’t even mention my name.’”
* “All you need to know is that the Lord knows who you are. I am glad she is not like some church folk. Some church folk would say; wait a minute Matthew, you need to write this again. Do you want me to spell my name for you…?”
* “There are a lot of folk in the Bible that the Lord blessed…and we don’t even know their names.”
* “The disciples wanted to send her away and reported that, ‘she cried after us.’ They had the audacity to say, ‘she crieth after us.’ The disciples asked Jesus to send her away… everybody does not have to get your approval.”
* “We have to be careful in the church. That’s the problem with the church today. Folks have it mixed up. They did not come there for you. They come there for God…….”
#Serious condition #Secondary character #He was testing her
I want to note that the sacredness of the message Dr. Northam delivered on how love makes a difference was upheld at the post-service dinner. This, my husband and I, received as an experience that the DOCTOR prescribed – particularly as a birthday week treat – a perfect prelude to another birthday for my husband as we celebrate God’s love for us as evidenced by the manifestation of his healing power.
My quest to contribute to the making of the world a smaller place took me to Bellport High School last week. It was a pleasure to meet and interact with a mix of multi-ethnic students with the express purpose of assisting them in identifying and celebrating their respective cultural heritage and family traditions in preparation for the designing and creation of their own unique Coat of Many CulturesTM (This project is funded by a grant from South Country Education Foundation to the school)
There were students who spoke with a great sense of confidence, others who, even though they did not say it, would have preferred to introduce themselves in terms of a subculture they had created or acquired that they were obviously comfortable with. Others appeared to be disconnected from their cultural background because “they were born here” and had not been exposed to “anything” “cultural. Whatever the case may be, I stay committed to my role in the lives of these students as we work diligently toward designing a coat that will not only speak to their identity for years to come, but will take them on a journey of self-empowerment and appreciation for their cultural heritage.
(Madona Cole-Lacy with Art Students at Bellport High School – Easing Into the Creative Process Through Engagement)
As I anticipate an unpredictable yet successful execution of these series of workshops which I facilitate in Long Island and beyond, I want to highlight a few points that I believe society can bear in mind as they nurture and empower their children particularly in times like these when teachers are reporting bully related incidents that are targeted at children who may not necessarily represent the race and cultural background of those who torment them.
1. If we instill a strong sense of belonging in our children, there will be no need to worry about them being victimized by others. There are no “others” in an all-inclusive world where people work together for the common good of humanity.
2. It is important to maintain family traditions that reinforce cultural values.
3. Parents should do an ancestry search, and share information about family heritage with their children.
4. We should research and/or review the history of our cultural/ethnic/racial/religious group, and hold family discussions regarding this background and how it currently impacts each family member.
5. Promote social studies and history education in schools that is fully inclusive of all ethnic, racial, religious and cultural groups. This should emphasize their values and contributions to humanity.
We can’t know where we’re going until we know who we are and where we as people have been or been through.
Learn more about my art-related personal development and social/cultural enrichment workshops tailored to schools and community organizations here.
When was the last time you did something that was work-related and felt so satisfied from that experience that you actually thanked yourself for having made the choice to follow that career path? That high level of satisfaction was all mine as I worked with a group of ladies at the Wyandanch public library who for the first time last week, had a go at textile designing and fabric stamping…on silk fabric, no less !
It was not the resulting designs that each participant executed that caused this level of excitement and satisfaction. It was the way they each looked inwardly to draw strength and determination to get there. It was the intense nature of their interaction with the tools, their determination to master tools they were unfamiliar with, the ease with which they connected with me as their facilitator, the presence of great camaraderie, and last but by no means least, the sense of pride they each exuded as they modeled their final product. Enough said, see for yourself by watching the presentation below.
I invite your comments and the sharing of your latest experience on the Joy of Self-Actualization.
Libraries, schools and community organizations can request this and other social and cultural art-related workshops that can be tailored to their needs or desires.
The Christian Cultural Center’s Cultural Arts Academy Charter School – a charter school of the arts- hosted a homecoming event at their Brooklyn location recently. What was so special about that event was an element that served to raise awareness of the importance of entrepreneurship for those who pursue the arts – especially for children at the primary school level.
The event coordinator, Mrs. Joy Spruill, a Fine Arts graduate herself, who gained first hand experience on how difficult it is for creative people to successfully follow their bliss through entrepreneurship, was right on target with this vision. “Far too many African Americans lack the knowledge or financial soundness to even consider this as an option. It is my intention to surround our students with familiar faces that have accomplished the challenge of owning their own business. It is my hope that through exposure that entrepreneurship will no longer seem so foreign to our scholars.” Mrs. Spruill said of the motivation behind this event.
Worthy of note and a great delight, is the fact that a kindergarten vendor participated as a seller of lemonade – which not surprisingly – sold out before long. “She exemplified one who demonstrated to her peers, that regardless of age, one can acquire an understanding and an interest at all different levels that can lead to a successful experience.” Mrs. Spruill added.
I was quite flattered when asked to participate as the featured vendor of an event that would serve to plant the seeds of entrepreneurship in the minds of our children. Kudos to Principal Laurie Midgette for working with Mrs. Spruill to bring this vision alive! It was a delight to be able to engage in meaningful conversations that were initiated by these young and curious minds. I was told that I had been selected as a featured artist/ entrepreneur, not only because of my “beautiful works of art” but because of my “willingness to give back to causes such as the arts, cancer, children, etc.”
“Character development is one of the main missions of our school. Thank you, Madona Cole Lacy for your example of good character.” -Joy Spruill-
It is fitting for me to end by saying it was indeed a pleasure to execute my duty as a “Good Villager” and join the church, school, home and community as a whole, to creatively empower our future leaders. The Cultural Arts Academy Charter School can count on me to collaborate with their creatively supportive spirit in the future. The warm embrace I received from Principal Midgette, Mrs. Spruill and her husband Ron Spruill, and others I encountered, will forever remain with me, and serve as a catalyst that adds to fueling the connection of the dots of my creativity!
I believe that much encouragement should be given to community-generated initiatives aimed at encouraging self-sufficiency that can be realized by practitioners of the arts. This is a start to acquainting our children with the many elements that make for successful entrepreneurship.
What innovative ways to embrace and steer young minds toward success have you entertained or implemented? Please share.
This lovely display by the Joy Spruill team of an almost life-like photo and bio was as humbling as it was amazing! My husband, James Lacy, and I extend our gratitude to everyone who made this a special experience for us.