Thursday, August 25, 2011

Making the Best of It...

"Behind Her Smile"  12x12  Mixed Media  ©Toni Ruppert
The only thing missing from my meeting with Jackie Taylor...was Jackie Taylor.

I had high hopes to meet the theatrical history maker from Chicago.  My friend Kuki had suggested I seek to speak with her several weeks ago. Kuki thought Ms. Taylor would be excited about my creative work and that I could learn from her. 

To prepare for my meeting with Ms. Taylor, I researched to find out her background.  I utilized the  -   a biographical information and audio and video clips about African Americans who have influenced history.  I literally cried as I  found out that Ms. Taylor  and I have these things in common:
  • We both attended Loyola University
  • We both juggled marriage and motherhood as a Loyola student
  • We both have had great mentors and teachers along the way
So after confirming our appointment the day before we were to meet, I was so excited.  The Black Ensemble Theatre headquarters is on the north side of Chicago.  I knew I had to take my six year old to her sitter who would watch her as I  drove across town to reach Ms. Taylor.
I walked in with my bag and my portfolio.  Upon my arrival, I was told that Ms. Taylor was unavailable.  Her previous meeting had run over.  Oooh!  Crushed. Surprised. Disappointed. 

I would instead meet with Gwyn Sea, her assistant of 9 years.

As John Wooden, the famed college basketball coach said: "Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out."

So with Ms. Sea so graciously standing in, I asked my questions--some of which I got from my Facebook friends and fans:

How did Ms. Taylor juggle her craft, motherhood and marriage?
How has Ms. Taylor dealt with failure?
What did her parents and mentors do to instill leadership qualities in her when she was a child - how does one make a history maker?

I learned that:

  • Ms. Taylor did whatever she could to put her craft first.  She does not use the word “failure.”  It’s all feedback for the next growth opportunity. 
  • As for children--Ms. Sea says that as a teacher herself, Ms. Taylor would seek out the child’s strong points and build them up.  One must emphasize the strength and offer encouragement with the weakness.  Offer plenty of lessons and opportunities to grow that strength. 
  • Ms. Sea said that Ms. Taylor’s philosophy is there are “no bad children.”

After meeting Gwen Sea, I was greatly impressed by Ms. Taylor and the Black Ensemble Theatre.  I hope to one day meet Ms. Taylor in person.  For today, I am blessed to know of her.  She is a history maker and someone to admire.

Who do you admire? Who is your history maker? How do you make the best of disappointing circumstances?  I can't wait to read your comments below.

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