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!

Summer Love with Joi

ToiTime is in the midst of a Summer take over! I took my adventures to Atlantic City to the Showboat Casino to hear Joilet Harris! Joilet Harris is an amazing singer who serenaded the audience with all of the love.

I grew up around real singing. My family still sings to this day! So to hear someone who could “sang” filled my whole heart with joy! Joi engages with her crowd and makes you feel like you’re the only one there! I absolutely loved her range and ability. Her band “Jays Crew” was odd the chain. Sitting back and listening to their arraignments was pure magic! There timing and ability is clear. They go with the punches and make it easy to come through to the audience!

She even serenaded my husband and I so loved it. So what can you expect when you attend? Engagement. Good sanging-yes it’s spelled correctly. Good music with an amazing live band. Attentiveness. You will experience an all around experience! One thing about cabaret music is the artist can be themselves and you get the pure essence of Joi! This show makes an amazing date night or you can grab your friends who loves good music trust me they will love it! Make it a night there are plenty of things to do on the Boardwalk before or even after the show!

What to expect once there:

  • If you want to order a drink-bring cash
  • You will be served and the servers are amazing so please tip
  • Parking is self parking or valet-valet is about 30 dollars you can pay cash or with your card as well
  • Get there on time-Joi will be ready to start

Joi will be there on Friday on July on the 19th and the 26th with two shows at 730 or 930!

To get tickets click on the link!

Thank you to Juniper Productions for the invite! You can also donate to help them. One thing about productions is that they always attract the most amazing artist but they need to be supported. Let’s not only support artists by attending their shows but let’s also donate so that others who can’t can!

Small Bites and a Big Punch all on The Deck!

I had the honor of attending a mix and mingle that was hosted by Roberta Pipito also known as homemadedelish on social media. You may have seen her doing correspondence on television as a lifestyle and food contributor. The mix and mingle was held at the Moshulu aboard The Deck. Now I have to be honest it was my first time. Out of the 8 years I’ve lived in Philadelphia not one time have I ever been aboard the Moshulu. I know it’s crazy to hear but this is why it’s important for me to see more of the city.

As a lifestyle blogger it’s important to blog life as it happens. One of the major aspects of life and living is eating and dining. When I go to establishments it’s important for me to take note of a few things; ambiance, decor, food, service, and fun and I can assure you that The Deck on the Moshulu has high marks for all.

Ambiance

I took a tour of the Moshulu and was able to see the newly renovated spaces. One word to describe it is: breathtaking! They have several decks to fit your needs. Obviously The Deck which I will be featuring has small bites and amazing drinks, they have several bars and dining spaces and event spaces as well.

When I attend spaces my mind goes to my lifestyle and many others. How can I utilize this space for date nights, time with friends or even if I wanted to bring my children? Let me say the Moshulu has you covered for whatever the occasion including just grabbing drinks after a long day. The Moshulu is the only restaurant aboard a working ship so the mere ability to dine or drink while seeing the city as your backdrop and watching the sunset is truly a beautiful thing to see! This is why it’s important to explore your own city. As much as it’s fun to travel do not miss your opportunity to see amazing jewels in your own backyard!

Decor

Having the water and city as your backdrop you don’t need much but the Moshulu has taken it up a notch with amazing unique pieces that will make your dining experience that much better. The uniqueness is something you will absolutely not see anywhere else. I can attest. Beautiful chairs, and looking up to amazing hand crafted ceiling pieces are just outstanding. At night you can see the glow of the lights and city and it makes it like an oasis of pure happiness!

Food

The Deck is the place to be. This is where you can get your small bites and unique drink offerings. This is great for grabbing a few friends or family and just ordering an assortment of bites to share. The food is incredible. The small bites will fill you and let’s be clear especially in the Summer small bites is perfect enough to pair with a drink but heavy enough not to have that overeaten fill! Light and airy but with good food is the way to go in the Summer.

Thanks to The Deck let me highlight a few must haves:

Red and white sangria pictured above

I love a good sangria. Sangria is like Summer’s special. It’s light and it’s good. The Deck took the Sangria and raised the deliciousness by a thousand. Not only is their sangria good it can be served in the pitcher to your table. For me that is good news. Instead of ordering a few drinks at a time, you can order the Deck Jugs and sip as you please. No waiting on someone to refill your cup the choice is now up to you! It can serve between 2-6 or more! If I had to recommend which sangria I loved I would go for the white!!

Another highlight is the Weekend Warrior! It’s a deep eddy sweet tea vodka, Pallini limoncello, mint, honey, lemon and iced tea. The first thing you’re gonna ask if you’re not a mint person is the mint strong? Nope. It’s the perfect combination and it can be served in the Deck Jug as well!

What if you’re the type that likes your drinks frozen since it is Summer you may want to cool off:

No worries I tried the strawberry margarita slush and it’s amazing from first sip to last!

Also the mango piña colada is delicious as well! It’s smooth and creamy! It’s one of those drinks that’s so airy that it doesn’t hit you right away! So here’s your: PSA don’t drink and drive and maybe catch an Uber Or Lyft!!

Now on to the food!! The Deck has food for every single palette. There is no one in your party whether it’s a party for 2 to 10 that they can’t accommodate! From soft pretzels to sushi to calamari they have you covered!

Warm soft pretzel bites and a cheese sauce

Pita bread and greens over avocado hummus

Truffle fries

Chips and avocado hummus

Cheeseburger slider and chips

Calamari

Not your average corn dog

Veggie Sushi made with mango, cucumbers and avocado a personal favorite of mine

There’s always room for dessert and you are going to want to have some! We were given boozy Rice Krispies and an ice cream sundae that is definitely shareable! The boozy Rice Krispies came in mud slide, pina colada and margarita. The picture below doesn’t even do it justice. It’s worth trying for yourself! These definitely aren’t your kids Rice Krispies. The immediate escape to fun and your childhood was felt by all the smiles!

Service

I always remain low key to see how I am treated at the door before anyone knows why I am there or who I am! There was not one issue! All staff that I saw didn’t do the walk past you bit. Everyone was all smiles and acknowledged me and definitely was accommodating. I had nothing bad to report. How someone treats you before they know you will grade them says more to me about an establishment and The Deck and Moshulu get a definite A+ rating!

Fun

From walking on the ship until I left I had a ball! I had a ball because the ship is beautiful! I had fun because the weather was great and had it not Moshulu has options to still dine outdoors without the rain stopping the show! I had fun because the food was fresh and the drinks were amazing. Overall Moshulu and The Deck is the perfect Summer escape. It’s the best place to feel like you have taken on a long lost trip of adventure without having to leave far from home. It’s a beautiful place to hang out, connect or reconnect, and host your event or even a wedding!

I want to thank all of the staff at Moshulu and The Deck for having us. I would also like to thank Roberta for being an amazing host of this mix and mingle! Thank you to Melissa’s Produce for the great swag bag.

I met some amazing new blogger friends as well as spent time with @Phillyfoodgal!

I definitely will be back and I’m hoping it’s with a few of my girls!

The Moshulu is located 401 S. Christopher Columbus Blvd in Philadelphia PA!

It’s open for lunch from 12pm-2:30pm Monday-Friday and for dinner from 5-10pm Monday-Sunday!

Brunch which I am soooooo excited to try soon is on Saturdays from 11-230pm and on Sundays from 10am-2:30am!

The Deck is open daily starting at 3 for amazing small bites and drinks!

There’s no doubt that Summer fun can be found at The Deck on the Moshulu!!

Week 3 Summer Adventures Break Down

So it’s week 3 or should I say it was week 3 and also 4th of July week so in my mind it was a short week which meant more fun! I enjoyed week 3 as we tried to switch it up a bit! So how much did we spend?! Drum roll please…..68.23!!!!! Oh yes I keep challenging myself and it feels amazing to save and have a ball so let’s break it down:

Monday

So with it being 4th of July this week there were a lot of events in the city for free. We decided to go to a Photo Pop Philly from 9-11 and it was free. I attended Photo Pop Philly in blogger mode before it opened as a preview but to attend it in mom mode was just as fun. It felt great to see some more of the interactive photo extravaganza.

Let me remind you that once there you can take pictures, gifs, and video in over 20 high quality photo spreads. I was able to get shots of them and me individually and collectively because the staff is on point and are there to get your angles. Also should out to Phillyfoodgal for the info and meeting up with us as well!!

The kids absolutely loved it! With that day also being free museum day the parking was tight. I spent $23 dollars in the parking deck. Since I didn’t pack a snack for the kids they of course opted to get ice-cream from Philly Scoopdeville! Shout out to the staff they were so welcoming. I have had their ice-cream before and blogged it but it was the kids first time! I know they will be asking me to take them back. I was able to get 2 medium cups and split it into 4 smalls for the win! I got a vegan blueberry and the kids all got Cookie Monster! The total was $15.81!

Also keep in mind the theme for Photo Pop Philly is Sweet Paradise! Philly Scoopdeville has collaborated with Photo Pop Philly for the Sweet Paradise flavor that you can get at the Bourse!

So super backwards we ended up heading home for lunch but hey everyone has room for ice-cream right?!

Tuesday

Today was jam packed! It was time for a visit to our local library! We went to Eastwick Library. Let me be honest. I’ve gone to many libraries in Philadelphia but I kept bypassing the one close to us. Not sure why but boy once I walked in I was taken back. It’s beautiful in there and the staff is amazing. They have a summer reading program that rewards them for reading and other summer fun with books and prizes! Also we were able to get in addition to their summer book list for book reports but other books as well. We will be adding this into the rotation weekly! Each kid got one free book and a prize as well as 30 books combined. Oh and yes they have read them! When there’s down time it’s reading time!

Also we got free passes to the Philadelphia Museum of Art! I definitely will be utilizing these passes in the coming weeks!

I was going to add in bowling today but we had to go to a birthday party as well as pay our respects to Monsignor Corley and it would have been too much!

Rita’s

You know I love me some Rita’s! It’s always a fun time getting water ice. The kids and I love it! This time I was armed with coupons!! So we spent 12.71 and got 3 large gelati and I got a regular water ice! Insert happy dance. This week, they had unicorn and you know kids love anything unicorn flavored!

Monsignor Corley

He’s been such a jewel to our family. He was our priest/pastor. He called himself both to our family. I personally met him a few years ago. My husband is Catholic and I’ve been raised Baptist and Non-Denominational all my life. I had never heard of any positive thing about Catholics. I know it sounds bad but it’s the truth. It comes from pure ignorance to be honest. I think the miscommunication and misconception was knocked out the park when I met Father Corley.

He knew I wasn’t Catholic and he told me straight up, I don’t care what name is on the religion how someone treats others different from them will tell you what you need to know about a person. He was right. Father Corley took our family and treated us like family. When my mother in law passes he told us not to worry he was grandpa Corley and he kept his word! He was there for my children in ways I can’t ever explain. He encouraged my husband and I to be faithful as well as gave us amazing marital counseling. He was the one that would call our cells and make sure we were okay. Losing him was devastating. However today we made sure to pay our respect to him!

The service I took the kids too was just enough for them. My oldest elected not to view Father Corley because it was too much and reminded her of her Mom Mom! I respected that! I had her wait for me in the back and we were able to see several of her teachers which made her happy! My younger two kids did great! My son was down but I was glad that we were scheduled to attend Sonny’s birthday party afterwards!

Happy Birthday Akira and Sonny

Thank you Akira and Kenny for inviting us to the mother and son joint party! The amount of care that was put into this super hero 1st birthday party was amazing! Sonny turned one and they had a party for for the little king he is!

Sonny and his dad; Kenny

Shout out to @thehandsthatgodmade for the face painting…. She was amazing and patient and so bomb!

Shout out to Impressed by MC! Hands down they did their thing to ensure Sonny’s party was amazing! Check them out by clicking on the link! Look at the detail:

So from the library, to Rita’s, to the funeral and to the party, which was held at Smith Playground the kids ran and ran and when it was bed time…they were out like a light!

And one of the highlights was Iron Man provided by @bouncys1_onwheels!

Malia; Sonny’s big sister!

Tuesday was definitely filled with a lot and I was hoping they would want to relax but….the way they are set up…

Wednesday

So I knew that we would be in Lancaster for the 4th I took them to the pool! Nothing is better than being in the pool for 2 hours. I use it to do water aerobics and swim. Afterwards we play at the park while I walk! It made for a great day! Since we did grocery shopping in the morning I took them to McDonald’s for lunch. I spent 16.71!

4th of July: Thursday

We spent it in Lancaster! It was great! To add we also got a chance to see my grandma; my mother’s mom! Having us all there was amazing. The kids had cousin time and I sibling time as well as a great drive there and back! We also went to the fireworks display in Philly since we got back in enough time! I love my grandma and this makes 2 times I’ve seen her this year! So I am a happy girl!!

Friday

Between the long week and the drive and letting them stay up late; it was a much needed down day! No work or no events we had fun running errands and hanging out!

So let’s add:

Parking: 23

Philly Scoopdeville: 15.81

Rita’s: 12.71

McDonald’s: 16.71

Total: 68.23 for a week of immense fun and outings for one adult and 3 kids!! Let’s see how we do next week!! I plan to rotate some activities and add a new activity as well!!

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!!