Buckets of Kindness: Remembering Natalie Cole

How a chance encounter with a childhood idol taught Lisa Ascolese the value of sincere kindness and generosity, even in traditionally cutthroat corporate climates

Kindness
Natalie Cole (Source: nataliecole.com)

Everyone has dreams. Everyone has goals. What sets you apart from others is the level of dedication, passion, kindness, and commitment you have toward turning those goals and dreams into accomplishments. Remember, nothing ever worth having comes easy. In short, have faith, believe in the power of YOU, and watch the magic unfold.

Generally speaking, people have many minor and major goals and dreams. Have you ever taken the time to realize the importance of having a bucket list in life? Yes, that’s right, a bucket list! A bucket list is simply a very selective list of the grandest dreams and goals you aspire to accomplish before you leave this side of your journey.

For me, my bucket list isn’t exceptionally long, but its length certainly doesn’t mean my items are any less valuable. A significant amount of love and passion has gone into crafting my list. I try to keep the items I place on my list attainable. Although they will take quite some time and hustle to accomplish, I want to keep my list realistic.

Many of the things on my bucket list are people-related. I love meeting people who are artistic, creative, and kind, because I love to hear the history behind how they became who they are. You see, we are molded by our DNA, as well as our environment, and I find it fascinating to see how much comes from each. Is it equal? Maybe someday I’ll do a study.

Flashback a few years ago, I never realized I even had a bucket list, until I met the person I only dreamt I would meet—the infamous, very beautiful, and extremely kind, Ms. Natalie Cole. The date was Monday, September 17, 2014, when my life was impacted in a remarkably positive way for eternity. I vividly remember this iconic moment in my life, and all of the events leading up to it, as if it was yesterday.

The backstory here is that Caroline Clarke Graves had written and launched a book, called Postcards From Cookie, just a few days prior to me coming to speak at a BLACK ENTERPRISE conference in Chicago. Caroline was the moderator on my panel.

After I got finished speaking, Caroline handed me her book, she said, “Here Lisa—this is a gift for you.” I was so thrilled, grateful for the gift, as well as proud of Caroline for telling her story, as she is is so smart, talented, warm, and kind. You will meet many people in life, kind and unkind, but I promise you this—you will always remember the kind ones most. Why? Because they will touch your heart in such a beautiful, indescribable way that will forever positively influence how you conduct business and navigate through life.

Now, back to the story, Caroline’s book was so riveting, that I literally wanted to sit in the airport and finish the entire book before boarding my flight from Chicago back home. Ironically, the flight I was about to take to fly back to New Jersey was overbooked. At first, I was disappointed, but that feeling didn’t last too long, as an announcement was made quickly after. The announcement explained that if anyone was willing to wait patiently for the next flight out, they would receive a free round-trip flight to compensate for the delay. I immediately seized that opportunity—it was a win-win in my mind. Now, I could stay at the airport and finish Caroline’s book. Yes, the ticket was a bonus, however, finishing the book, my gift, was a blessing in disguise.

The following day, I was compelled to call Caroline to tell her how incredible her book was. I learned so much about her; one of the biggest revelations being that Caroline was adopted, and later found out that she was actually the niece of Natalie Cole, and the granddaughter of Nat King Cole.

This was all simply remarkable to me—it was like I was reading a movie script. When I told Caroline that Natalie Cole was, by far, my favorite singer, she asked me if I wanted to meet her! The truth is, I thought I was going to pass out when she asked me that question, but I stayed as calm and cool as I could. Of course, my response was a resounding yes. She told me to stand by and that she would call me back.

A few minutes later, Caroline called me back and invited me to join her and Natalie Cole to a Spence Chapin benefit dinner, where Caroline would be hosting and speaking on the topic of adoption. It was one of the most incredible evenings of my life. Not only did I meet Natalie Cole, but I sat with her, and we had a fantastic conversation about so many things, including her music and her love of designing clothing. We even talked about me bringing her line to QVC—what a blessing she was.

Natalie was so kind and warm the entire evening, it felt like I was in a dream. I also felt as if I had known her forever. You see, I was about 15-years-old when I first discovered Natalie’s music. I knew every song she sang, and I owned every album that she made; from Inseparable, to “I Got Love on My Mind,” and the list goes on. I sang her songs with my makeshift microphone-hair brush, belting out her tunes like I owned them. By the way, I did get to share that story with Natalie, and she laughed genuinely and thanked me for sharing.

As I sat andlistened to her speak, I reflected back on how many times I thought to myself how I would feel and what I would say, if I ever had the opportunity to meet her. Everything I thought I would say went out the window. How can one prepare for a moment like this? I still pinch myself when I think about how God aligned all of the elements that took place, which lead up to me meeting Natalie; from speaking at the BLACK ENTERPRISE conference, with Caroline as the moderator; to receiving the book from Caroline; then finally, getting stuck at the airport just so that I could finish the book. I call that divine intervention.

Anyway, listening to Natalie speak was so refreshing, she was talented, artistic, creative, smart, and kind beyond words. She spoke about how proud she was of Caroline, and how blessed she was to be a part of her family. Her personality was so warm, so sincere, and all together, she was a delightful person to spend time with. As much as I wanted to ask her to sing to me, I refrained, (though, I almost sang to her).

The point of all my rambing is to share with you the gift of kindness and generosity; the same kindness that Caroline so graciously offered me. The kindness that led me to unexpectedly meet Natalie, a gift I will never forget and will be eternally grateful for. She didn’t have to do that—or anything at all, for that matter—but she did, without hesitation. Caroline’s selflessness is contagious and has surely impacted my life in a very positive way.

That experience reminds me every day to be conscious of how easy it is to change a person’s attitude and outlook on life, just by offering a simple gesture of kindness. And after all, kindness is free. It doesn’t cost a dime! Imagine that.

Sadly, Natalie Cole went home one year ago, passing away on December 31, 2016. She is missed by so many who loved and adored her, and will never be forgotten. She left us with her music, her beautiful smile, and a warm spirit, which will live on forever.

In closing, I ask all of you readers to come and join me at my upcoming conference, where we will be sharing the gift of kindness, love, warmth, and networking. The Association of Women Inventors and Entrepreneurs strives each and every day to bridge the gap between ambition and success, all while lifting each other up—two hands at a time. At our Women’s Business Conference, we will honor many great women who have passed before us, as well as those who grab the torch and continue to be trailblazers for others who will follow. Women who open doors make it possible for us to accomplish anything that we set our sights on, so join me in saying thank you to these great women in history!

 

 

(Image: Natalie Cole and Lisa Ascolese)

 

To learn more about my nonprofit and our upcoming March 18, 2017 Women’s Business Conference, please visit www.aowie.com. You can also email me at info@inventingatoz.com or Asktheinventress@gmail.com.