Monday Motivation: Defining your Needs

I was sitting on my couch on Sunday and one super grateful for down time and I asked myself a question: what did I really need?  I have a long list of wants. I couldn’t answer. I didn’t go onto social media or watch television while I sat trying to figure it out.

We don’t really focus on our needs. We focus on what we think others need. We formulate opinions based upon that. However,asking yourself what it is that you truly need takes dedication and some level of sitting within yourself. Its hard to do because we are programmed to live in distraction or to live in a world where its not okay to say that you need something. Little known fact I prep a lot of my Monday motivations early but since I couldn’t finish my thoughts on what I needed I decided to sit on this one a little while. I thought about the things that I need that as much as I make progress towards, I still find myself asking or 5 second leaning on another person when there are a few things that if not a lot of things I can do for myself.

I can tap into myself for a lot. It’s hard to lean into yourself. Beyoncé speaks about me, myself, and it’s a great song about self-preservation.  However, do you know how hard it is to say to yourself I got me and stay there? Let me give you an example, when I first realized I was dealing with depression a few years ago I blamed everyone, and I mean everyone for it. My parents, upbringing, spouse, everyone when everyone could have been a trigger, but I was responsible for myself. I had the answer within me even though I needed the professional assistance of others to bring it out of me. I had to be okay being vulnerable to get to where I am today. I had to say what work am I willing to do and what stops, and peaks of balance can I incorporate towards my healing. 

You are enough

For instance, when I have something going on within me no disrespect to friends or loved ones, but I work it out within me before spewing issues into the world. Do you know how many people are telling people who aren’t qualified to speak into their lives their problems in the name of venting. Venting is great but it can’t be the only way you process things. Its like going online telling everyone your problems but not wanting anyone to give feedback or getting feedback that doesn’t help. Processing inward first makes you accountable. If something in life is going on, doesn’t mean it’s the Devil it could be mismanagement but sitting quietly amongst yourself will allow you time to get there to where you made that mistake. Did you not hear when the person said what they said? Did you miss a red flag? What did you not do? You must be real with yourself.

So how is acknowledging where you are and what you need motivating?

Simple: ownership allows for forgiveness of self and healing promotes growth. At my worse moments in life acknowledging it and accepting my flaws even when others couldn’t allow me to grow. You can’t grow without acknowledging where you have caused others and yourself pain. Be willing to apologize even if you feel the other party involved aren’t deserving. I find it amazing how we  markup others are underserving of love but want it in return. Your life can do that 180 that you seek but it comes from doing an inward  manifestation. It feels like crap if you are the one who is consistently feels that you are at fault. What I learned is that I keep asking for forgiveness from everyone but me. Once you have forgiveness and you hit the first brick wall of even the closest ones to you won’t forgive you will learn a few things:

The person you offended had no intention of forgiving you in the first place-walk and heal on

This is harsh but its like a child that breaks something the parent is so mad that no matter what the child does to win the affection of that parent, they aren’t letting it go. News flash-even if you replace the cup, they aren’t willing to let it go. Heal on. Not to put anyone in my life on blast but the resentment from things that are unforgiven will have to live with the other person. Its freeing when you not only hear it but receive it. You will do emotional back flips trying to get someone to show you that they are accepting of you when if you dance this dance with them, they will use this as a crutch against you. The offended person may never forgive you. What? Yup they have a right to hold on to it for as long as they want you don’t have to sit there like a broken child waiting for them to move past it. Trust me its hard but you can literally free your life of this hope and wait game.

Define your needs

So, I asked in the beginning what did I need? I found and am finding the answers every day from getting quiet and listening to those around me. I need to be loved, to feel love, to feel wanted and admired however all of that is inside of me. And if I am doing this hope dance to get it from someone else if I give them this power as I wait at bay, I will forever be doing this dance even with folks that say that they love me. So is the need of acceptance of others stronger than the need of loving yourself? If you don’t and can’t clear with yourself, you are never going to be able to place appropriate checks and balances in your life and will forever be fueled by what others think. Its like a car needs gas and there are no other alternatives but instead of you getting quality gas you keep buying cheap not because the other options aren’t present but because its familiar to you. Meanwhile the car of your life is literally breaking down but all you can see is that at least you got gas. Park that car and re-evaluate all this stock you are giving out that you haven’t even seen the value you have within yourself. 

Another example because I live by them, if you are losing weight and getting health why does the opinion of someone who isn’t doing for themselves matter more to you? Is that what you call love? 

Could you walk in wholeness with the people in your life?

What do you need? I think if you had more clearly defined goals in life and love no one on the outside could possibly come in and give you leftovers and tell you is top shelf. Read that part again. You been fueling off scraps and telling yourself is top shelf made by a top chef and, all they did was reheated the same garbage that your personal depleted bucket told you was enough. It’s not that’s why you bump heads or why you walk unfulfilled. You have empty pockets and realize there’s parts of you that need healed. Could the people you walk with daily walk with you if you were whole? Could the you that you were meant to be accommodate the jerks in your life?

Yesterday we talked about keeping space and decluttering now today we need to walk in wholeness and define what our needs are. Stop giving the blueprint away to others who never had intention of getting you to greatness. 

 

Sunday Motivation: Keeping Space

Decluttering I find people have zero problem doing on spurts. They declutter before the New Year or Spring Cleaning for examples. However, there are many times that decluttering is something that should be consistently done through the year and in our lives physically, emotionally and as well as mentally.

Decluttering is way to get the things that no longer serve a purpose and remove them from out lives. It’s a great way to clean up and make things new. This is essential to all no matter what stage of life you are in and it doesn’t matter your status. With, why do we wait until we can’t find something, or special times of the year to do it?

It could be that decluttering is only about it being in the time of necessity. Since when is cleaning up around us and trimming excessiveness not a necessity? Think about the purpose of cleaning up our own acts than apply it. I live off principle. With the principle of clearing and cleaning up clutter we must apply it all around. This decluttering is all about eliminating waste. That could be in the form of wasted time, wasted energy, wasted space, wasted expenses. These areas of waste are all things that we can trim from our lives daily. I started decluttering in how I cook and manage my home. Although my husband has his two spaces of clutter everything else is cleaned to the T. I like my living room area livable. I like rooms to be cleaned. I liked for kitchens to be clean clear. All the wasted time I was doing by over cooking or cooking a thousand miles daily I found that meal prepping allowed me to better use my time a bit wisely. I needed to declutter my time so I can have more of it for the things that mattered to me like spending time with the kids or catching a show that I loved for once. 

Decluttering People

It doesn’t work to wipe a counter and to wipe folks out of our lives. Yes, you can do it in spirit or by eliminating them or their access to you which is all good but it doesn’t work to take folks out-the laws of the land frown upon that and I don’t have enough lawyer power. So how you declutter people is to place people into the front seats, the backs seats, as passerby, or simply stop dealing with people.  A few years ago, I found moving on doesn’t need a church announcement.  It doesn’t need a Facebook snub; it simply needs you to move as if they don’t exist and close contact. It could be for a season or lifetime it was my choice. I am finding that I must re do this shift again. Having to give folks a seat in the back or allow them to see me after I have accomplished a goal is what I need to do to eliminate drama in my life than so be it. This is a need not a desire. Sometimes personal self-care is necessary in eliminating folks who will consistently pull on you. 

Decluttering your Social Media 

I do this more often than I shift people. My personal social media is private for the most part and only for those that I either have associates or that I would allow my children to be around in real life. When it comes to other social media and how I declutter I simply do not follow accounts that trigger me. This is a personal mission of mine. In which way they trigger me is none of anyone’s business. I am responsible for the triggers and the management of them. For me I choose to make sure that the accounts that I follow or allow to follow me speak of who I am. I did the same thing with certain “reality television!” its my choice. Also, it’s not my job to make my choices extend to others unless they live in my home. If certain shows are off limits, they are off limits for anyone who is in my home unless the person is my husband. Thankfully we agree on the list of do not watch shows and he and he alone is the only persons interest or input I take. What makes certain social media accounts work or don’t work is a personal journey. 

Decluttering Relationships

This is different than decluttering people. You can move someone to the back of the car without it ruining a relationship but once you scrub a relationship that no longer works, it’s no longer about keeping them on the team and moving their position its about moving them out altogether.  I have had friends mostly that I moved from their positions in my life, but I kept them in my life. However, when I made the decision to remove them it wasn’t about position. It was about making sure that we did an exit interview of some sorts. 

Decluttering your home or space

One of benefits of decluttering your home is cleaner space.  Cleaner space helps to motivate you to clean other areas of your home too. I personally can’t create in a dirty or clutter space. As much as I am on my laptop if I lookout and see clutter I can’t type or write. It’s a personal pet peeve. Decluttering is a way to boost my personal creativity. Decluttering helps to keep the people in the home safe and healthy too. Clutter brings dust and dust and dust mites can lead to sickness. My older two kids have asthma. Seasonal changes and dust are their triggers. Thankfully we haven’t had to go to the hospital for it, but I am a firm believer controlling the clutter is the reason for us not having doctor visits outside of checkups. We go through toys-donating often, clear out corners, whatever it takes to keep a clean space. 

What do you need to clean today? I know that Sunday or at least Saturdays are days where families clean up after a long week but what about clutter?  What about throwing out unnecessary items to make room for the things that mater?  What about clearing out old junk and leaving it out?  Did you know that clearing space physically is a great way to lead your life emotionally and mentally? What about those mental issues you have been dealing with? Sometimes the reel of life keeps going because we won’t clear out the space to bring in real healing. What about emotional baggage? The yelling and anger that you are holding onto is a clear definition of your body telling you to clean house from the inside out!

So, let’s all clean our houses today. Declutter your snacks in your home. You said you were losing weight and eating right, get the bad food out. Declutter your thoughts as they don’t bring in things that increase peace, happiness, or joy.

Tribe of Fools: You shouldn’t be doing what you’re doing on that Ladder

Depression hits us all differently in different ways. Long gone are the days that we think that depression is only in the form of a man or woman crying or sulking. Depression has been known to come in the form of hollering, anger, oversleeping, overeating, etc. its forms are even more hard to find so many think they aren’t depressed. Depression isn’t always something that you simply heal from. It’s something that even with self-care you can find yourself in. With that in mind we enter the production of You shouldn’t be doing what you’re doing on that ladder that showcases a journey. It’s a crazy journey and wo would have thought that a set of ladders could put it into perspective.

Ladders really?

Written by Charlotte Northeast and performed by Peter Smith this nervy performance is amazing. I had to gasp in awe of what Peter was able to do with his talents. However,  beyond the talents of his use with the ladder (by the way no ladders were hurt during the performance) he was able to bring emotion in a way that I hope allowed people to see themselves. This production was about to shine a light and if anything, show hope. Hope that if you too were feeling like your bout of depression was some how secluded that you learned quickly on that it wasn’t.  

Triggers

I have been extremely candid about depression as I personally believe the more, we speak on it and give it life it doesn’t stay it helps us to deal with the moods that are making us feel that we are at our lowest. For instance, I wasn’t sure how I was going to get through the performance when hours before I got a call that someone I loved had passed away. It was heart wrenching and I struggled to get through my activities with my kids let alone get makeup on and get ready to go to a performance that might set my triggers off. However, in all professionalism I did what I needed like we all do. We all who openly deal with depression know of the times when getting out of bed is the worse to do. I felt like bricks when I needed to get from point A to point B before the performance. I hadn’t had that happen in quite some time. The minute I told myself that it was okay to feel this grief and the sudden onset of it I was able to manage myself better.

Pushing through

You shouldn’t be doing what you’re doing on that ladder showed how there are days that you just simply push through. Your days are up. You enjoy small and simple things like walking your dog, going to work or gym but than the days does come when even the repetitious things are hard. I saw Peter’s mood go from happy go lucky to sluggish and slow. That’s how it starts for me. I find even with blogging when it’s time for me to type at times how difficult it is to do, and I absolutely love what I do. This is when I can sense at times that I need to be aware of a depressive mood. However how many times had I done like Peter on that ladder go from slow and sluggish to down right anger and frustration? Many times, before I was able to see myself. How many others seen me and thought man she must have a bad attitude? This is what it looks like.

Peter smith

I saw in Peters performance the ability to be happy and free and then to be debilitating not able to cope. That feeling of why am I here? Why does the world even care? Unfortunately, few people talk about those moments when hope escapes. I hope those who were there grasped that even in despair that we must hold on to a glimpse of hope even when its fleeting. Pushing through is almost a life skill that adulting requires. The show was like funny but with a lot of pins and needles. It was times when we were quiet and times when we attempted to be quiet but couldn’t because Peter’s ability to do these stunts with these ladders is that amazing. 

I felt better than when I came in. you know that is what depression does too. It alters perception. Just because I was grieving didn’t mean that I would be triggered but to protect myself I wanted to be sure that I would be okay, and I was fine. 

Tribe of Fools

Tribe of Fools and the whole production team had this one man show to be one of the best visual performance I’ve seen that showcased depression as it is in real life and with a ladder of all things. That ladder became the teacher for the night and we the students of life on loving ourselves through the darker times. To understand it’s okay to have good and bad days. Hope is never too far. What we think we can’t do might be just an imitation of darkness that we can use even the smallest amount of light until we can see the sun. Better days are always near. 

Thank you to Tribe of Fools and Carrie Gorn for having me. Thank you to Peter Smith for your amazing performance. Thank you to Charlotte Northeast for your talent of writing taking something so dark and shining a light that is going to help others battle with dark days at least one less day or one less moment. 

You have 3 opportunities with limited tickets. The first is tonight Friday February 21 at 8pm and tomorrow Saturday February 22 at 2pm and 8pm. You can get your tickets here. 

Little note the location is at 200 Spring Garden Street, Unit C. It’s within the parking lot of the gym and towards the back you will see this:

 

 

Friday Check-in February 21, 2020

Its been quite some time since we have done a Friday Checkup. A lot of that has to do with me attending Blogher Health 20 in LA. I am sure by now you have caught up. If not hit the link. We are moving full stream ahead with Women’s History month and with that being said we will need a few more women to participate. If you are interested in telling your story to be featured in this blog in the month of march please consider by emailing me at toitimeblog@gmail.com

When women say things like why me? I remind them that we all have something that we need to talk about. As different as we all are, we are more alike than we give credit. We go through things that we all resonate with. I want to showcase that to women so we can learn from one another, grow with one another, and heal with one another. We are all unique and that’s what makes us able to be unified.

So now that we have that in there what has been going on? A lot. I have some serious family issues that will be taking place in March. So, the month is going to be a little crazy. I may have to decrease my events to accommodate but I won’t be decreasing blogs as I am preparing them early as I always do. I do ask that you keep my family in your prayers. I will share as I am able to later.

I am still trying to adjust from Blogher. I know that seems a bit crazy, but I never took a break before or right after and with covering Philly Theatre Week right after, it was a mess as far as my level of tiredness. However, these are the moments I prayed for. Also, I am quite sure I didn’t announce but I am a Kick Sugar Crew Ambassador for Smart Sweets. I am all for balance in life, so this allows me to have my candy and eat it too with less sugar consumption. So, if you are ready to have your sweets and dump a diet and be balance like me give them a try. I am enclosing my link so you can order them and have them delivered to you. Use code “toitimeblog” to get free shipping on orders of $30 or more! The benefits are since they fly off the shelve with ordering them you won’t have to worry about your favorite store not having them. Trust me I tried to find them in bulk in places and they are scarce. Also, each bag is one serving. I feel this is awesome, so you don’t have to count the pieces (I am sure you weren’t anyway) and yet feel happy to have candy that is better for your 2020 health goals. 

I have been doing well and yet find myself having struggles. I am listening more and talking less, and I find that in that I hear people’s true intent. I don’t like it. I don’t like how I missed things that happening around me and it’s not because I am busy. It’s more or less along the lines of giving people passes based upon relationships which I thought I was over. I am moving in the right direction with the help of a therapist to place appropriate checks and balances where its needed. I have always said when you find yourself in constant space of irritation to look within instead of attacking others. Often, it’s an irritation of things not spoken up that you attack others with that need your inner attention.

We also celebrated my youngest 6th birthday. I enjoyed of honoring her life as well as no events no blogging and sleeping in. it was very needful. This weekend I have some limited events and I will be enjoying low-key sweatpants and no-frills Saturday. That is at least what I hope to happen. Shout out to my husband who has been helping me along the way. Doing things like taking things off my plate. Cooking and helping around the house. Together as a team we have been smashing all the goals. I am grateful for seeing him moving in that direction instead of spending time complaining about what I think he should do. Learning to speak up for what I need and not making him play mind games as if either one of us majored in mind reading in college.

I am looking forward to the spring!! So many new opportunities are already on my calendar that I can’t wait to share them all. Summer is looking to be great too. 

I got into The Broad Street Run for my 3rd year. My weekends will be full on run preps with 2 workout days in the week for balance! I’ve already watched and will decrease my alcohol intake as if I’m honest that’s the most that I indulge in at any given time since my food is now disciplined. I’ve only missed one run from January until now but made that run up during the week! That’s a great thing. The run is one week before my birthday and with birthday plans already in the works I look forward to crushing this goal and look even more amazing doing it!

I hope you too have a weekend that you enjoy and remember to do something for yourself that feeds you. It should be something that brings contentment, love, joy, and smiles on your personal face. Something that isn’t contingent on someone else having to do for you. You can make yourself happy that when someone else does something it’s an overflow and not a source-remember that one!

Everything is Wonderful

How can everything be so wonderful when the sons of Jacob (played by William Zielinski) and Esther (played by Blair Sams)was killed in an accident? This production is layered with tragedy, empathy, and loss beyond anything anyone can imagine.  Playwright Chelsea Marcantel and director, Noah Himmelstein made the play to center around an Amish couple who deals with the shell shock of the man, Eric who killed their sons shows up to ask to be turned in and then gets forgiveness. Everything is wonderful….

Let me say that I am from Lancaster Pennsylvania and this play was spot on. The way that the Amish live where they don’t necessarily want outsiders in is real.  Though they go into town now and again for jobs the thought of allowing an outsider to live with them to pay off the debt of this imaginable tragedy is almost unheard of. However, the dynamic that Eric (played by J. Hernandez) provides is hard to watch. Although in the regular world even if you gift forgiveness which is always about you and not the receiver, I’ve yet to see forgiveness be so layered that you would work hand in hand with an individual that took your sons. The emotions of that would be too much. Speak. Forgive. Forget. These three words are the binding. The art of saying what happened, forgive the act, and forget is too much and is almost like its own character within this production.Everything is wonderful…

Bishop Makes the Rules

The Bishop makes the rules. He’s like the judge and jury all wrapped in one. The Amish have their own ways of dealing with tragedy whether it extreme like the deaths of Jacob and Esther’s son where the community comes in and aids to the tragedy rape of their eldest daughter, Miri (played by Katie Kleiger).  The Bishop is the one who sets the tone. That tone is one that I know well of even in Lancaster that if an Amish goes to the police even if the accused is wrong, the community will show up and rally against the one who speaks out. Just last week there was a case in Lancaster where a grandfather had been raping his granddaughters and was found guilty. Yet the ones who had “left” who knew all too well how these tragedies are swept up had to rally behind those who spoke up. The community of Amish who still allow Bishops to dictate and make light of such offenses were far numbered by those who were there in support of the abused. I wasn’t taken back by the portrayal of her rape being one of dismissal. I know it happens. It is still happening.  Everything is wonderful…

Shunned and Alone

This production did a great job highlighting Miri’s loneliness. As she decided to go after being baptized and coming back unwilling to repent of her “sins” kept Miri on the outside. Think about it. They allowed the man who killed their sons to sit at the table but gave their daughter plates on the porch. Amish take their church and the “purity” of it seriously. It didn’t matter if Miri was family if she didn’t want to align with the beliefs she would be excommunicated. This is real and against what people will write about still happens. I know of ex-Amish in my circle who can’t go back to their “home” or families unless they denounce their “worldly” ways! Imagine being Miri and knowing that no matter what you say or do no one in the community will even look at you. Beyond that your own parents are treating you like an animal. Jacob and Esther need to continue in the ways of the community and if that means shutting Miri out then so be it! Everything is wonderful….

 Abram and Ruth

Now I spoke of the rape of Miri and it was by the hands of Abram.  He however stood and made a speech to ask for forgiveness and was granted it. He was able to go on sort of speak. He is back in the community after taking what didn’t belong to him. Why didn’t Miri just go along with all of this? Why didn’t she just speak, forgive, and forget? Who is she that she shouldn’t wear her badge of dishonor quietly? Did Abram really go on? Was he not aware everyday of his sins? Now he has eyes for Miri’s sister, Ruth. Talk about keeping it in the family. Ruth is a pleasant young lady who is content. She has no desires like Miri to see beyond the community. Abram doesn’t deserve such a precious gift that Ruth (played by Stephanie Hodge) is. Although Ruth is sweet, eager, young, and full of expectation I saw Ruth as smart and calculating. She loved life but she saw both sides. She in my opinion was the most alone. Here she sits as the one who is willing to obey and stay in line, but she was smart enough to hear. She heard her sister when she spoke. She saw the ways her parents treated Miri and she knew it was wrong. Her parents so caught up in their grief and in their jolting mannerisms to make sure Miri was kept “out” Ruth knew. Everything is wonderful….

Ending….

Although won’t give the ending away what I will is the way in which the production team allowed for the stories at times to be mirrored was beautiful. it flowed in and out of each other sometimes at the same time and other times separately. It was easy to keep track. The times that the characters like we do in real life have these set back moments was real. The drift from reality to our subconscious was in full display. It was great and I was surprised at how well it went.

Mental Health

I was happy to hear that they touched on mental illness. The lineage of which Esther and her mother and now Miri was finding herself dealing with was real.  It made me wonder did they have the mental illness as something that we all have a touch of from just life or did the confines of this “community” and all the rules and ways they live produce it? As Esther is destroying the eggs I knew. I knew that beneath her composure she was losing it. A mother not able to mourn her son’s death properly is now sitting next to the man who took their lives. Her daughter was feeling like no one protected her when she was raped, and she too had dealt with her own layers and I knew. All of this we are okay facade was just that a sham. There was no way that she was ok. Everything isn’t wonderful although they must wipe their pain away. What I will say is there is a movement in Lancaster where since Amish don’t like outsiders in, they are building their own mental health facilities. It sounds good on the outside but is being met with harsh criticisms. They are being called places where the ones who speak the truth on what is happening are being sent to keep quiet. They are being managed by little Bishops who don’t have the eyes of getting help but are there to keep institutional the ways of quietly sweeping the sins of the community under the rug.

Everything is wonderful

Everything is wonderful if you go along. Everything is wonderful if you don’t desire more. Everything is wonderful if you comply. Everything is wonderful if you the viewer go and see this production for yourself. It is eye opening. Although some saw this story as such a beautiful story of forgiveness its about being eye opening and will challenge you in what true forgiveness is and what it looks like. Do you have the real capacity to forgive? Can you call someone who you have had an issue and make true recompence? This production is jarring, eye opening in, and a wild ride that may make you squirm with uncomfortableness. 

Spot on

I had a conversation with the playwright, Chelsea Marcantel and I let her know that not only did she do a great job on being specific to the ideals of what being Amish is she did a classy job writing it so that it didn’t dishonor the Amish. It wasn’t a way to leave and say I can’t stand them. To be honest although a glimpse into their ways are so different, you won’t fully understand. However, it is a call to action on some of the stories that were being told. It validates the struggles that many who have left have known for years. That peace comes at a price. This peace is a journey. Being able to call a spade a spade may seem natural to an outsider but doing so in their community means that you will never have the love and understanding even from those closest to you. Remember that when you want to speak ill of them unless you speak up on the sins that they do that we all should be apart of that conversation. As warm as they are and as they try to have their own lives, it’s the lives of those who are within that I hope is wonderful. Everything can’t be wonderful when you conceal and don’t heal!

The night was wonderful…

Philadelphia Theatre Company is always a classy place to be. The reception when you walk in is unmatched. Not only was I greeted with a smile, I was also greeted with help. Help to get my coat, to take pictures, it’s a truly hands on experience when you are at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre. All staff are welcoming and light. I will say I was honored to be at the theatre for the opening of Everything is wonderful. They have such great opening parties. From the live music, to greeting the artist and staff, and the food and drinks are always a treat.

You have your own chance to see this production as its slated to be in motion until March 8, 2020. The Suzanne Roberts Theatre is located at 480 S. Broad Street in  Philadelphia  PA. 

The play is about 2 hours and 20 minutes with a 15-minuteintermission. As always, they have an assortment of wines, and drinks and they also now have food by Di Bruno Brothers too. 

Coming Up…

They have “Free Talk Series” coming on Thursday February 20, Tuesday February 25 and Thursday February 27th which is after the shows and a pre-show and post show on February 25th. They will feature some amazing speakers who have studied Anabaptist faith, etc. 

Thank you to Philadelphia Theatre Company, Carrie Gorn, and Aversa PR for having me. I look forward to always supporting the arts in any way I can. Get your tickets here and sound off and let me know when you see it so we can talk exclusively about it in the comments section!

King Lear: Who is it who can tell me who I am?

I was so proud to be at this production of King Lear, who is it Who can tell me who I am? This was a super badass crew of women actresses who owned that stage. My only regret was not seeing it earlier in his early production dates due to my schedule. 

I choose this production as many don’t know I am an avid William Shakespeare fan and I have always loved reading the plays as a teenager. I was in AP and international  Baccalaureate literature and fell in love with Shakespeare because I had an amazing teacher Mr. Irvin Scott who broke it down for me so that we could learn to hear past the early modern English used that traps so many people from truly enjoying the plays written. Let me say that having an amazing teacher will always encourage even the toughest of students to want to learn more so thank you Mr. Scott for that experience. 

King Lear is really about tragedy. It’s a about a king who gives his land and fortune to 2 out of their 3 daughters after they declare their love for them. The last daughter doesn’t do a good enough job declaring her love for her father so be banishes her. It wasn’t that the youngest didn’t love him she did she just wasn’t good at expressing that love. That’s a word right there? Anyway, when the daughters that King Lear gave all he had wouldn’t allow them to their houses he gets mad and roams around during the storm.  The daughters return to find him and all of them die. There is a lot of life lessons in between all this such as forgiveness during misunderstanding. Had King Lear had only not assumed the youngest really did love him they could have been more unified. Had King Lear had put his pride aside and listened a lot of the madness he experienced might not have happened. So that’s your quick catch up of King Lear. How did the ladies pull this off?

One they kept the early English language which I found was refreshing. I was hoping that in their need or desire to modernize it that they kept it true to the language and they did. I know there were some in the audience who were lost. I watched their faces when certain things were said. I will say I found it easy to break down not just because of the training I had in my earlier years but because when early English is spoken you must find a way to listen a little harder. 

Speaking with following I found that I had to dip myself a little harder as the ladies interchanged their roles making it difficult at times to know who who was. That might have lasted for about the first few moments. Once I had it down packed who was who, them ladies performed. Not just in solidarity for women they really brought in intense emotion for their actions. No one woman was over another in their acting skills, but I have to say King Lear, played by Suzanna Szadkowski was so powerful that I wanted to give her a huge hug. To employ that much raw emotion every performance had to be a lot. I mean she gave of herself to portray King Lear is all his nastiness towards his daughters etc. I liked how they went back and forth in the types of responses that would have happened had King Lear been here. 

The artistic director, Keith Baker, must be applauded. The whole production team needs a standing ovation. That whole production a complete success is due to its collaboration and cohesiveness that couldn’t be denied. I know and I don’t know if I have that face that says come and discuss but a lot of the patrons felt compelled to ask me how I felt. Some expressing confusion and I was happily happy to fill in the missing parts. The show was a great solid show of showing this tragedy and spin on love and life. 

A few words that came to mind as I watched it was powerful, eclectic, strong, and beautiful as these strong women came together to play parts that women wouldn’t have been able to openly play back in that time and they did it well. They didn’t just do it great for women they did it great because they were amazing actors. The scene that stands out was when King Lear disrobed, and I was like wait what’s happening? The folks near me was uncomfortable. Plays should challenge what you know or what you see. 

To the cast you did a phenomenal job! To the director, Eric Tucker you did a great job bringing this to life. To the whole team you are amazing and this production along with the class that is Bristol Riverside Theatre remained untouched as this production was one to not have missed.

Thank you Bristol Riverside Theatre, Carrie Gorn and Aversa PR for having me. Also thank you to Theatre Philadelphia for having me end Philly Theatre Week!! I enjoyed myself and will continue my theatre circuit run! Can’t wait to see Bristol Riverside for Cabaret: The Hit Musical in March!!

Quintessence Theatre Presents: Rachel by Angelina Weld Grimké

I brought my tissues for this production because I wasn’t sure how deep they would go into the disparities into Blacks during the Harlem Renaissance. The Harlem Renaissance was a time of changing the way Blacks were perceived however just like with things today, having white people open their eyes to have amazingly educated, and worthy that we are is still an ever-present issue.  Rachel played by Jessica Johnson is one of those productions that is almost predictive of the struggles we would fight. Set in 1915 this film is like the light bulb to our time now. NAACP commissioned Angelina Grimke to write this from the perspective of Blacks to the audience of Whites so that it could open the eyes of them in hopes of change. Grimke and her sister are first generations whose grandfather was a slave. The vision that education would be the key to making a better life was and is now a tool that many thoughts would provide a better life. However, with Rachel we see how we are seen-dirty, ugly, and useless outside of servitude. My review is going to draw on so many parallels that I saw and how I felt. This was directed by Alexandra Espinoza who I knew I had seen before and realized I recognized her from Azuka Theatre’s Boycott Esther which I had written a blog post for. 

Trauma

This all-star studded and all Black cast brought the emotions that was felt from start to finish. One of the first things that touched me was Rachel’s optimism. She made me feel like she was my daughter. My own daughter’s optimism is super affectious. She is happy and go lucky. You see her and Ma Loving going back forth like typical mother and daughters do. I noticed the uneasiness in how Ma Loving showed. Immediately I knew there was some trauma that wasn’t being told. It was in the way that Ma Loving interacted, her word choices, and her body language. I want to take this time to talk about that for a moment. The way we interact with our children matters. Sometimes our own traumas and pain can be transferred to our children. I know for me on a personal level my own trauma was heightened when I had my first child. Something about childbirth that pulled on me and immediately I had the mindset to get into therapy. I saw no way that I could parent without out. How many parents do you know today with their traumas that have been unresolved that is being projected onto their own kids? 

Breaks

Zuhairah McGill plays Ma Loving and I recently saw her in the production of DOT at People’s Light. She plays the heck out of Ma Loving. I saw my mother in her. Pushing through after the lynching of her husband and son 10 years earlier. This is the trauma that comes out that she kept from Rachel and her brother, Tom played by Travoye Joyner. Once this trauma is revealed you see an immediate change in Rachel and Tom but especially Rachel. Rachel whose dream is to have a lot of children and provide a safe space is no longer there in its same glorious light. She still despite her killed dreams pushes through and takes a liking to Lil Jimmy the neighborhood kid who even in his relationship pulls further on the trauma of Ma Loving as well as contributes to the trauma to Rachel. As they all heal or attempt to heal the breaks is still present and you see Rachel unfold.

Birth or not to birth

Now even though the play centers around Rachel who decides to not have children of her own because of the pain that birthing children into the world where they could be called such things as Niggers, killed, or beaten parrells today. I think about my children as evil as it is in general its that much worse because they are black. I must have conversations with my kids that white people don’t have to have. Even my 8-year-old son has been taught what to do when he is approached by a police officer. Keep his hands present, be polite, answer with the upmost respect. Don’t step out of line in word or deed so that he can come home and yet, he’s here. I love him and my daughters and couldn’t imagine life without him but the fear that maybe if I hadn’t had children I wouldn’t have to bear the stress that I have when they aren’t in my sight is real and traumatic and a fear that ALL blacks feel. It doesn’t matter if we are law abiding citizens or college educated, we are in this world where even after all this time are devalued and made to feel less than our counterparts. This is the fear that Rachel has and because of her father and brother being lynched has decided to never have children. One of the things that I loved at seeing Rachel this past Sunday is that they had a after talk and pretalk about the production. I heard some of the audience think that Rachel was fragile when I see her just like most black mothers, she is strong, unraveling but during her unraveling she wakes up and does what she must. 

Cries in the dark

Little Jimmy experiences his first insult to his being. He is called Nigger. He didn’t do anything wrong. He just simply existed. I have blogged this many time, I was a straight A student since the 2nd grade. I had a student call me a Nigger to my face and for what? I had nothing wrong. This was in the early 90s. My own teacher changed my name from LaToi to Denise because my name was too ethnic for him to remember. I also had grades changed because college wasn’t on the horizon for me.  I am personally afraid for my own kids. It hasn’t gotten so much better that the ideal of this becoming their reality is gone. I can’t think that because my husband and I are both college graduates, homeowners, and affluent that they will escape what Jimmy experienced. The media paints racial divide as a choice only given to the Blacks who gang bang and commit crimes but do police or others have a way of choosing just “those Black” folks? Not that I am aware of. 

Come with me

Rachel is fancied by the neighbor John Strong played by newcomer Walter Deshields. He at first comes in and you can see some sparks between the two. We find out that he goes and buys a flat for him and Rachel to raise a family and become one. Rachel’s decree to never have kids is something she tells him and then lets him know that because of this decree she can’t unite with him. She can’t bring herself to be there for Little Jimmy and have children seeing the despair it has brought to know that kids are being attacked for no reason simply because they are black.  I watched the audience clutch their imaginary pears as Jimmy cried out in his nightmares reliving the moment he was devalued repeatedly. How much more for the other children in this world? They don’t understand why the kid who was taught racism at home is piercing at him like he’s a science experience. Why the girl has someone petting her hair as if her hair is some nuance. These things matter. These things hurt. Rachel is complex. There are a lot of things that are seen when you see the breakdown between Camiel Taylor who plays both Ethel and Louise who is broken. Her mother, Nia Colbert who plays Mrs. Lane is in despair but again she is doing what she can to provide a better life for her child even if that means living where she can’t afford. You see this mental break down and I resonated with that. My parents moved us from a nice neighborhood to one that wasn’t as nice just because the nicer neighborhood practically moved us out with the breakdown of how they treated us. Stay in the nice neighborhood and watch your child be called everything but a child of God or go to a lower neighborhood so we can be with likeminded individuals? The choice is hard. I want to give it up to young Jimmy played by Donavan Bazemore.

Unpacking

So much to unpack. So much to take in but Grimke was before her time. She understood and wrote this production from the pain of all Black people who know how real this is. This is everyday being Black. As many people want to act like we have arrived because there is more advancement it won’t be right until no child or adult is broken down simply from being born. Is it better to take the child out or watch them die slowly? Rachel gives us a glimpse into the slow death of our people. I need all of us to see this. Talk about it. Be an ally if you aren’t Black. Don’t just watch and clutch your pearls and say how shameful it is if you have no intentions in speaking up amid your own friends and family about the inherent racism that still exists.

Rachel is showing until February 23rd! Quintessence Theatre is locate at 7136 Germantown Avenue in Philadelphia PA! Thank you to Carrie Gorn, Quintessence Theatre and Aversa PR for having me!