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”:
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 email@example.com
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.
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.
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 following is a social media posting I woke up to on the morning after the 2016 Election Day
“Accurate description of how I feel right now:
In the sixth grade, I found out that the KKK still exists…that it wasn’t an entity that solely existed in my history books like the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation, and outright literal slavery in the US, but that it was an organization that still exists to this day.
My first reaction wasn’t irritation, rage or frustration. It was fear. Deep, bone-chilling fear that produced sobs that wracked my 12 year old body. And I only had one concern in response: will they kill me? Can I be killed for no reason?
If I try to fit in and I don’t talk slang, and I tell everyone I don’t like fried chicken or grape drink, if I cringe along with the white people in my class when slavery is brought up in history class…IF I DO EVERYTHING RIGHT, EVERYTHING TO ERASE MY BLACKNESS, WILL THEY KILL ME ANYWAY BECAUSE OF MY SKIN?
And of course, those sobs were hysterical. I realized that I could not totally protect myself. If someone was out to kill black people, they need not wait until I open my mouth. They need only look at the skin I was born in and can’t change.
It was the moment I remember feeling the most afraid and impotent. That is how I feel now. I can’t move past this question that it’s a shame I have to ask: will they kill me? Will I survive to see the next president elect in 2020?
Way back in middle school, I eventually concluded that I was overreacting and my life wasn’t truly in danger. I was overly emotional and easily frightened.
Over ten years have passed since then and I’m struggling to stay rational, to not give in to fear… But I heard how he spoke at rallies and the debates, I heard his soundbytes, I heard how his supporters spoke and how they behaved…and I can’t tell if I’m overreacting this time.
And that’s what terrifies me the most.”
My dear daughter, Madona Ayorinde,
As the mother of that middle schooler and 10 years later, a young adult who is trying to make sense of life on her own terms, I want you to know that it is at times like these that you work at unleashing qualities of the firm foundation which has been laid in you over the years.
The seeds of sensitivity, high self-esteem, love and appreciation of the humanity of mankind, empathy and much more that have been embedded in you are now yours to use.
I wish I could make you a promise that moments like these will be few and far between as you blossom into full adulthood, but I can’t, as the reality of life as I know it dictates otherwise. The trick is to use the tools that are available to you in a manner that will bring about self-preservation in the physical and mental health sense of the term, with little or no chance of feeling victimized by the shenanigans of this sometimes cruel adult world. I implore you to always operate from the mindset that: it is not the hand that life deals you that defines you, but it is the way you handle what is thrown at you that defines the essence of life for you.
I am sorry that for you there were no satisfactory explantions that could have protected your 6th grade mind set from what you discribe as bone-chilling fear when you learnt that the KKK was not merely a group that once existed, but one that was and is now alive and well.
I am sorry that current events have taken you back to reliving the nightmare that no child should have to experience, as adults around them espouse hatred, racism, bigotry, insensitivity, ignorance, lewdness as the status quo.
I am sorry you once entertained making changes to the essence of your being and or buying into the stereotypes that a cross-section of white America has in place for its black counterparts, in order to fit in and escape the wrath of the KKK.
I am particularly sorry I did not read between the lines at that time to identify the emotional trauma you experienced, for you know my parent-school alliance initiative would have been stepped up to include tools that the school would have had to put in place to address this important issue in a manner that would have been of benefit to not just you, but to the rest of the school. Surely, you recall from experience how important it was to me that the school reinforced the basic universal personal development values I taught you at home.
Having said this, my daughter, I want you to know that one cannot be adequately prepared for the complexities of life. We know not when and in what form societal ugliness may come our way. It is for this reason that I will again stress the importance of readiness through the implementation of self-improvement tools.
I implore you to focus your energies on building yourself up in ways that you can be a blessing, not just to your family and friends, but also to those who do not mean well for you. I ask you to do this bearing in mind that the only competition you have to contend with is YOURSELF. Allow me to draw upon the gift of Grandpa’s wisdom, as I say to you: “Festine Lente.” Hasten slowly, as in act decisively, yet thoughtfully! I ask you to take your time to figure out how you can tap into the academic discipline, life-skills and orientation you have received thus far, to turn around what you perceive as an eminent license for nationwide ugliness, danger, and unsettling behavior. If I know of anyone with the capability to do so, it is you. “Let your light so shine…”. You know Dad and I have your back, and that we are here for you.
A Mommy Disclosure
What you may not fully realize is that, as a United States Citizen and Citizen of the World – with deep community and family values that were instilled in me at an early age in my country of birth- I am automatically a good candidate for some form of discrimination, rejection, and the issue of fitting in – more often than I care to recount. This, my child, is in no way to be confused with the occasional misunderstandings that occur in the normal discord of life! It is the waging of all-out war in the…just because.. department!
The ‘God News’ is that even though the scale may tip more to the side of the undesirable, it is not everyone that I know or encounter that is this lacking or needy in character and spirit. I suspect by now, you are asking how I manage to appear so ‘sane and composed – most of the time.’ I can tell you what I do not consider to be viable options: withdrawing into isolation, cutting ‘these people’ off (this is not possible as they are all over the place), a tit-for-tat stance, a feeling sorry for self response or engaging in self-destructive behaviors. How I deal with this is to position myself to continually search for positive ways to prevent this phenomenon from overshadowing my sense of self. Maintaining a sense of self mindset in each unique encounter helps me emerge from the lion’s den emotionally, socially and culturally intact. Also, please note that if I were to internalize the negative effects of this dynamic and allow said perpetrators to take control of my life, I doubt that those touching sentiments you and your brother, Samuel, recently expressed to me on my birthday would have ever found their way to me in a hurry.
I will now summarize the personal development tools of my response in easy-to- read quotes I have formulated:
Personal Development Madonarisms by Madona Cole-Lacy
1. Since there is no patent on societal ugliness and propensity to minimize humanity, do not assume there is one to prevent you from unleashing the qualities of a firm foundation which has been laid in you over the years.
2. Use fear and anxiety as tools to focus your energies on building yourself up in ways that you can be a blessing, not just to your family and friends, but also to those who do not mean well for you.
3. Those of us who have lived long enough know that bigotry, racism, and many more “isms” that are in place to suppress and diminish others are alive and well in all shapes and sizes.
4. Whenever we consider directing our attention toward the avoidance of stereotypes meted out to us by others, we unwittingly position ourselves to accepting the hate they espouse. Hatred for self is as unlikely to cause the unenlightened, unfeeling and uncaring to love us more, as self-empowerment is as likely to chase these characters away from us -each time! You know which one to go for!
5. I implore you to focus your energies on building yourself up in ways that give you joy and satisfaction in knowing that you can indeed be a blessing, not just to your family and friends, but also to those who do not necessarily mean well for you.
6. We must approach life knowing that the path to being an Agent of Change begins and ends with us. This change is only accomplished when we operate from a place of understanding that the change we desire is the change we want to be …and the first step to this long and sometimes arduous haul begins with us.