Behind Closed Doors: Dominique Morisseau’s Mud Row Review

Sometimes you never absolutely know what’s happens behind closed doors. What people present is only their representative. We all have things that we hold on that we are fighting. Things that are or have been said, unforgiveness, pain, generational challenges, etc. that has helped to shape and mold us one way or another.

From Mud Row in East End of West Chester is a story of sisters fighting for their place. Elsie is consumed with stature and being in the elite class. It’s in the elite class that she will have redemption and make a way for her future daughter. Her sister Frances is willing to join those on the front line to freedom for Blacks. Her strong will to carve a better way by any means is her saving grace. These sisters bump heads on how they plan on serving the future of their family.

Fast forward and you have Regine who is well educated and some might even say through her education she has followed her Mother’s script to the T on becoming an elitist however don’t call her an elitist because she has worked hard to get where she is today! Enter Toshi who takes after her aunt Frances, she’s a fighter in a sense. She believes in taking things by force-even if that strong motivation has gotten her into a world of personal chaos and turmoil. She appears to be problematic because no one wants to acknowledge she may have areas to work out but instead of seeing past what her actions show she’s ignore and passed over.

Without spoiling what actually happens I will speak on what “Mud Row” spoke to me. In every family especially with siblings is this fight to be the chosen one. The one whom everyone calls on to be a success story. It can make for great sibling rivalry but then there’s also the sibling who doesn’t go down the “correct” path. The looking down on why aren’t you more “like” the other while never dealing with internal issues that may have placed them on the path they are on. No accountability into the pain that is almost birthed down to a child. The quiet fights within a person that they have no way of escaping.

I think about my own childhood home. The stories good and bad are within those walls. Every failure I have ever made is there. Every success is there. All the conversations and fights that built me up and tore me down are there. What happened when I moved? It may have stayed there but like most of us those issues travel to our next home along with us. Homes tell stories not of just how they were built but of the folks that lived within them. Why a person acts or reacts has a lot to do with their upbringing and what took place within the walls they called home. A house is but a home is a recurring theme and it will be challenged!

We are sometimes walking traumas. Even if the home you once knew is no longer there trust me in one way or another they are well alive in your life. How about the fact that at one time blacks couldn’t even own a home. The blood, sweat, and tears that many before us to keep their homes are then passed down to generations. Some think that selling those homes are a great idea. What about our great great grandparents and beyond who knew the value of what they owned due to the work it took to get it? How do we sell or keep these memories alive?

My own grandmother literally has been in her home my entire life. She worked her butt off to make sure my mother and aunt wound have a place of their own so they would never have to have someone control their living arrangements. “Mud Row” is a place of freedom where blacks weren’t able to own before. It’s one of the first developments of home ownership for African Americans. It’s important to have this play as genetrification is becoming more and more prevalent today!

Mud Row is an important story that highlights one family in their home that tells more than just ownership but redemption through turmoil. Both sets of sisters needing one another to be who they are and to heal. Is healing possible when you have been apart for so long? What about hearing and listening! Sometimes we hear or see what we want to believe without really ever hearing or seeing.

I highly recommend this play to be on the top of your go see. It is best suited for teenagers and up. There are briefly scenes of violence, cursing, and some scenes may be triggering for individuals who have any issues of familiar turmoil. I would say even if you are in a family turmoil it may be a great thing to watch to aid towards healing. There are scenes that will make some uncomfortable to watch as scenes of police brutality is touched as well. I watched the gasp from the audience. I felt tears in my eyes during many scenes. I felt the realness of pain when you’re trying you’re best but can’t get family members to see past the you they experienced of you. I felt the fear security of trying to be in a stable environment.

My best friends family is from West Chester. I’ve been several times there and didn’t know the history of East End or Mud Run! I enjoyed seeing this piece and you will too! Thank you People’s Light and Carrie Gorn for the invite. I walked away doing some soul searching of my own in how I can “build” better relationships with family. I walked away so profound I found myself speaking with a group of older women who spoke to me in a way I had only experienced with my great grandparents as a kid. That good conversation where you talk about the “good times” and the elders speak wisdom over you! When an elder speaks and it “stops” you in your tracks because you hear wisdom giving you the only answers that an elder can give!

You can see Mud Row until August 4th by purchasing tickets here! Peoples Light is located at 39 Conestoga Road, Malvern PA 19355!

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Monday Motivation: Open Heart

So happy Monday! First let’s be grateful for waking up! If you can read this you are on the right path. We forget that life is but a vapor. We spend more time upset over small things. Shift the mind! I am grateful for waking up! I am grateful for another opportunity to make an amazing path!

With that being said what if you woke up with a closed heart. A closed heart that doesn’t see good in anyone. An open heart that isn’t open to love and living a full life! That has to be a hard place to live in. I used to live like that. Everyday argumentative and angry. It’s a draining way to live! When your heart is open to the right things you can overcome all kinds of obstacles. You can push through difficult moments even when you feel like no answers are near.

When your heart is open to the right things even in dark times you can hold onto light! I’ve had many times where someone has said something to me that alerted me to what was inside of me all along. My heart was able to receive someone speaking hope into my hopeless situation. It’s a blessing to keeping your heart open! When you have closed off your heart it seems like everything and everyone is against you. You find fault in everything all the time and often times you’re not able to take accountability! Today during your Monday shuffle; find ways to open your heart. It could in how you shift from a complaining spirit to a grateful one. One time I had mere dollars if you could call it that. My want or needs list was higher than the money to take care of them. I wanted to be mad as if it was the moneys fault. I took a deep breath and wrote what I could do to proceed in my day in the right mindset and in a matter of hours, money didn’t appear but provision did. This meant what I needed came in ways I wouldn’t have had room to mentally conceive until I shifted my heart to be open!

I hope that if you feel hopeless that you would understand that it’s a dark moment not a dark life. Your moment isn’t a permanent life choice. Things do and always turn. The worse thing you have gotten into you have always managed to come out on the other side so whatever has your heart closed, release it! Replace it with hope of the future and that doesn’t mean months and years-we talking about your today and now! Take charge to let go and open your heart!

Monday Motivation: Gratefulness

Every now and again I think it’s important to speak our gratefulness and not just around Thanksgiving. Being grateful is something you walk!

When I was in my most depressive moods I would complain about air. That might be a stretch but the reality is ungratefulness was deep in my spirit and therefore it would come out of my mouth. Spending so much time saying what’s wrong comes out in how you walk. How? You can’t even gravitate towards good things looking at the bad things. It’s draining and it’s defeating!

Like for instance I was up at 4am to do my 5 am run. It was dark and by the time I started running I could see the rain coming! I didn’t check the weather before I left so I had only my headband but no hat. Before I could complain I thought about the fact that one I was up and had met my group on time despite finding my running belt and reflectors last minute. I was up with no help of my alarm. I was up in my right mind. I have the ability to run! There was and is no reason to be in negative land.

On my last leg of my run I said my extended prayer. Every run I do, I pray. It allows me communication with God. It allows me to speak my truth and my heart in the quietness of the morning. I needed to be reminded to take it easy and be grateful for the blessings around me. As I transported my twin to work this morning I saw a woman who I noticed last week sleeping outside. She’s been there for about a week! I don’t know her story or why she’s there! What I know is that here I am in a car full of gas, with my coffee and dry while she’s in the elements and outside where any and everything can happen to her. One I pray her situation is better and two may I do all I can do to stay focused on what is to come and not on what is happening!

So as you start this morning, have you started the complain game? Have you started focusing on what you don’t have or want? Have you said thank you for your life? Have you said thank you for your job? Have you been grateful? If not start now! Start changing the conversation of your life. Start walking in gratitude. Start being a testament to others around you of gratefulness. People would love your portion and yet you can’t see it because your focus is not in tune! Make the change towards gratefulness! Be grateful for you, the things around you, and show that to someone else today!

Catch UP

So it’s been a minute. I will be blogging a gambit of Ask Toi questions in the next few days! Also I will be posting week 3 of the kids and I summer adventures! I needed to check in with you all on a person check In and not just a mommy cheek in as it’s been these last few weeks outside of work! So life has been interesting.

As always I have a lot of events coming up. I love being on the go! Outside of a sinus affection that I had that I thought was an allergy fit life has been doing well. For the past few weeks I had been getting seriously sick like the type of sick where I had to say no to a few events. You know how much I love being out and about in the Summer. One thing I will say is Philadelphia has it going on all year long and the Summer is just pure magic. Anyone saying I have nothing to do is legitimately in a mental funk. Trust me I understand that too as I’ve talked openly about my life and anxiety or complaining instead of being proactive. I get it!

Between blog events and being out and about I have to say that I too have been making my mental health a priority! It’s important for me to find moments of slow down. I have had to call a friend a day behind, or say no to an event, pick and choose if I can go to a family member’s house or just say no I need a regroup moment! Why? Cause just because things seem light doesn’t mean that I don’t have moments of insanity!

This year I have set out to find my biological dad and that has brought a set of triggers for me I didn’t know I had! Like for instance because my step dad who I only call for reasons of clarity step has been in my life since around 5 people have said to me why? Why do you need to close or open this chapter? It’s simple, I want to! I’ve a grown woman who still has questions inside of her that may not ever be answered but I have to find them for myself. I have found out more and more about the character of my biological father than any other time in my life!

It’s been rewarding and challenging at the same time. Also let me be clear this is my story to tell. I’m not entertaining anyone telling me how I should feel about the story or a should you write about it speech either! I’m 38 I think I’ve given parties involved a time to create the story they wanted me to accept! Now it’s my time. No sugar coating is going into effect! Plain and simple my biological father has not only failed me but my other siblings! I have quite a few and still gathering information. I think as a kid I’ve had it in my head that things would magically fuse as they do in the movies. It’s what I wanted! However the turns have shown that this will be more like a reality show than a loving movie! The mere fact that I’m seeking him when he’s not seeking me is already trigger enough. There are many like me who still want to know why. I’ve talked to those closest to him I may not never get an answer.

Also with balance of my biological dad its made me look at the way I parent my own kid. What do I want them to do? What do I want to leave for them. Do I plan to be honest and open with them? The answer is absolutely yes! If the stuff I got into is just to be a testimony to them then so be it! You see the Preachers Kid moment there? It’s important for me to be clear in what I can offer my children in support and love!

Also I’ve been noticing that I’m easily angered lately. I don’t know if it’s changes happening around me is making me that way but please believe I got my therapist on hand. I am working through it. I’m calling my stuff to the rug when things happen because I believe whatever is happening has to start with me first. I had someone ask for forgiveness that I wouldn’t have received from years ago! That’s growth! Despite the growth I’m still human dealing with life no matter how pretty the filter, you can’t filter life!

As this journey with my biological father unfolds I will share as I profess. I like to take my time with these steps to be sure I’ve dealt with them offline before I share them online. Other aspects of life are always changing. Many moments Ido well with change and other times I don’t! Sometimes, I would say most times I handle my anxiety extremely well and other times I have blow ups. However even when I feel like I’m having a moment I still feel better equipped now than before to recognize my triggers, handle them alone, and remove myself from them!!

Hoping anyone who is dealing with the ups and downs of life can relate and process!!

Monday Motivation: Freeing up Space

It’s amazing when you feel free. You don’t walk like you have walked before! You are clear to just be. As you continue in the movement you have to free up space in your life for the right things to come in!

It’s like breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend, you make space by getting rid of the things that remind you of them. You declutter your world of the things that no longer bring you happiness or peace. So how about what that looks like when you free your space of the things that no longer serve you daily? For an example, stop scrolling on pages that are meaningless or watch less and less reality television, stopping subscriptions to people and their mess or being more conscientious of how often you are around negative people. Freeing your space to bring in light into your world!

There’s not a single person who doesn’t need to free their space. Freeing your space includes people, places and things. It means that it may be hurtful as the people around you won’t understand but at the end of the day, but it will benefit your mind and life. Freeing up your space forces you to see life as it was meant to be. What could you free yourself of today?! It can be as small as changing the snacks in your cabinet and as drastic as freeing yourself from a job that you are on simply because it doesn’t align with your life goals! It’s up to you to choose. Free your space daily! Make today and everyday count! Have an amazing Monday!

Sunday Message: Do you ever plan?

We know life throws many waves. You can have good and bad times happen at any given moment. However for everything in between you need to plan and work your plan. Plans don’t trauma proof your life but they help you get through it a little bit better!

So how do you plan? It’s the last day of June and tomorrow is the start of a not only a new month but the 3rd quarter of the year. Time waits for no one. It’s all moving fast. What are you doing? What have you done so far? What goals have you reached? For the month of June I’ve already hit all my numbers that I did for last year at this half way point! That’s progress and that comes from being consistent and being meaningful in what I do. I plan accordingly for what I want to see and when bumps come in I adjust and deal with them.

Planning takes the guest work out of things. Planning for good makes sure you aren’t leaving things up to chance or getting the wrong foods you don’t need. Planning for your future will make sure that you don’t have to have a bake sale to bury a loved one. Planning for your week always ensures a great start to what you want to make happen. There are some people who can go by the fly of their pants kind of way and most who need to plan ahead to hit their goals. Whether you want to believe it or not most people benefit from a plan and to work that plan.

We all need to go into our week with more masterful tactics. We all need to work our lives in a more organized way. It will be the very thing that brings success! How bad do you want it?! Is planning something that you just hate but know you need to do? Is this Sunday going to be about fun alone but you lack to plan a better week?! Make that change so everyday you aren’t just simply existing waiting for another weekend to come to simply breath!

Brunchin at Cuba Libre

So can I say sometimes I don’t always put things together when it comes to location. I am the one who needs needs their GPS! So when I was asked to go to Cuba Libre for brunch I had no idea that I had been there already. Last week I blogged about their drinks for Old City Eats Block Party. I had no idea they also have an amazing weekend brunch menu. So why should you stop in….

Well Cuba Libre’s food is absolutely amazing. I mean it taste so fresh and made to order. For my meat eaters, vegetarians, vegans, and pescatarians you are all on this menu. They have something for even the picky eaters as well as for my parent friends too!! Their kid menus have activities and a great selection to keep the Littles entertained while you enjoy a cocktail or two! The two floors of space makes for a great time. So let’s dive in:

Brunch especially for women is like a holiday within itself. It’s better than any other meal of the day. We love a good location, lighting for pictures, space, as well as amazing food so we can chit chat and catch up. It’s just an altogether amazing time. I got all of that and more at Cuba Libre! From the time I stepped in the door every last staff member treated me with love and like family. As always I peep restaurants out before they know who I am or why I’m there. It’s important for me to see how they are before they know I’m on assignment to get the essence of how they might treat followers. Trust me you are in good hands. I watched their interactions with all patrons and they were stellar. They were attentive and by far have a great serving rhythm! Trust me it’s important to know that before you head out!

The food was great. The waitress answered every question. When I brunch I always have at least one person who is picky and she was patient. She explained all of the options. Sometimes I ask questions because some places have people who don’t even know their own menu. She was on point and answered the questions thoroughly! I was impressed.

So they had passed the beginning phase. Let’s step into phase two and that’s food and that includes presentation, taste and temperature. Some restaurants mass make their food and once it gets to your table…it’s room temperature, but not at Cuba Libre. Everything was hot! Oh FYI we took so many pictures before we ate and the food was still hot! I like to make that equivalent to me and my girls talking and still being able to enjoy our food! They have a brunch special that is $22.95 which includes a small plate and large plate choice and an aqua Fresca. Here is an example:

Churros with chocolate sauce

Banana Quinoa waffle

Limonada-part of their aqua Fresca and amazingly fresh option for those who don’t drink alcohol

Above was probably the best combination that I could have picked. I picked this because this reflects what I would order. I couldn’t finish it. I had other items too but trust me it was outstanding. Knowing it was $22.95 was a great price too. I felt like I could keep control of my coins but eat well too.

Here are a few more items:

Pineapple guacamole cubano

Corn meal pancakes served with mango butter and dark rum molasses syrup

Trio sauces that comes with tropical chips-black bean hummus, roasted cauliflower hummus with curried onions, and Cuba Libre salsa

Homemade Latin pastries includes vegetarian options too!

Mango butter is a must ask must have must take home

I didn’t have to do one thing for these pictures either. The lighting is amazing! Also presentation is everything and they hit it on the marker! The taste was mind blowing! Also I are the banana quinoa waffles 2 days later and they heated up perfectly. You can’t say that about most places!

For my alcohol drinkers I love a great drink to taste. No lie just like I had it at the Old City Eats, they are strong! I hate seeing a great drink on a menu that doesn’t come to life when I drink it. Cuba Libre lives up to their rum bar name. Rum is an experience and I tried their Bloody Mary with their Cuban rum-they knocked it out the park!

I also always look for an alcoholic spritz or amazing sangria and Cuba Libre has a red, white or blue in their brunch beverage:

I didn’t have my kids with me this time because often times I go to places and explore before I take them but next time I go I definitely plan to take them and the husband with me. The staff handled other patrons children well. They understood to bring the kids food without even having to ask. Again all things that I look for when I’m out. We know kids can get restless but they have enough space to accommodate large crowds, kids included!

Here are a few extra tips and extras to assist you:

They open on Saturday and Sunday at 1030! If you are going for brunch especially with kids go when they open. Also parking is on the street which is metered. Go early to get parking almost in front of the restaurant. I had absolutely not one issue finding parking. There are at least 2 lots on the block too. Brunch is served until 2pm! Again I would stress going earlier in the brunch hours. You can pick the brunch menu or go alacarte as well. You will get more for your money choosing the brunch $22.95 options and from there choosing what you want from that menu. You won’t be disappointed at all!!

Look at the downstairs seating from my angle coming down she steps. It’s absolutely stunning:

Thank you to my girl, Cherryl of Phillyfoodgal for the invite. Thank you Cuba Libre and all of the staff for an amazing time and hospitality. I will definitely be back and this time bringing my fam bam back with me!

This is a great place to take a first date, day date, family time, time with friends, group brunch, and you can sit by a window and have some me time!! It’s a kid friendly restaurant as well as clean and has an amazing atmosphere!

Trust me you will leave full and smiling!

Make sure when you are in Philly and you’re thinking about brunch, place Cuba Libre at the top of the list!! They have you covered in price, quality, quantity, hospitality, and fun!

Cuba Libre Restaurant And Rum Bar is located 10 S. 2nd Street; Philadelphia PA

To make easy reservations do it here!