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!

Happy Bastille Day: Ardmore Bastille Block Party

One thing that I enjoyed this past spring was my trip to Paris. Seeing up close how the culture and the people mesh is nothing but a once in a lifetime adventure. With first hand knowledge of how the French love and treat others I was more than happy to attend Ardmore Bastille Block Party! It was a mix of everything France with music, food, drinks, entertainment, and even things for the kids to go as well! Also it’s the first in Ardmore and I hope they continue this worthy celebration for years to come! Let me break it down for you! Special thanks to Delice Et Chocolate and The Bercy for joining forces to bring the Best of the Best of France to the Mainline!

Wine Garden

The Bercy made sure those who wanted to rosé all day definitely was able to. Sponsored by Veuve Clicquot drink selections included rosé, champagnes, and sparkling wines. Tickets were $20 in advance and $25 on location. Anytime drink offerings are available my high suggestion is to take it! If you plan on having at least 2-3 drinks they become well worth it and it was drink as you like which meant for each ticket you could continue drinking until last call. Its definitely cost effective to drink!

For non alcoholic drinkers The Bercy had a cucumber limeade that was amazing good and refreshing!!

Thank you Cory you were an amazing server with amazing personality!!

The Bercy also had a brunch that was available from 10-3pm! This was an all you care to eat buffet style brunch and definitely worth it. We elected to eat inside of the Bercy and let me tell you it was well worth it! They have a great selection of food and their kids menus is more than I bargained for-it’s super great! I took my 3 kids and my niece and all of them got different options. From a cheeseburger, chicken tenders, macaroni and cheese to the butter noodles each meal came with fresh fruit, fresh veggies, fries and a chocolate chip cookie. No child left hungry! Special shout out to the staff who went and above taking care of their needs as well as the adults!

I decided to have the Quiche Du Jour which was amazing! My husband had “The Bercy Burger.” He had nothing but raves over this burger. He asked for it to be well done however at some places well down means non juicy and over cooked-not at The Bercy! It was the best he’s ever had!!!! My quiche was outstanding I have zero regrets!

Delice Et Chocolat

If you ever been to Paris you know they are known for some of the most amazing treats! From croissants to macaroon and chocolate-it’s amazing! I took my oldest kids and we had a blast enjoying these French treats! From the first bite to the last I wasn’t disappointed. It took me back to my Paris trip and on Bastille this couldn’t have been any better! I had some amazing croissants when I attended the Ardmore Preview a few weeks ago and I knew if ever I was missing Paris that Delice Et Chocolat is and will always be my go to!

The Parlour

The icecream supplied by Parlour ice cream shop is always a great treat. Mom hack-they have a mini cone that is only $1 that in my opinion is more than enough for little and big hands. Today’s feature was mint chocolate chip and caramel pretzel!

Entertainment

We didn’t just walk around eating and drinking. Even if we had it would have been more than amazing! Shout out to the can can dancers From Philadelphia Academy of Ballet! They were more than amazing-check out my Instagram for their performance! These beautiful ladies were in sync and everyone loved them!

French Cooking

This blues band was so amazing! I loved them. They had the crowds swinging! My kids surprised me when they just stopped what they were doing to start dancing! Trust me as soon as I heard them I came out of the Delice Et Chocolat to hear them. They are from New York and have such a southern sound that I enjoyed!

Face painting!

Who doesn’t love face painting? I do! My kids and I were able to have our face painted by Mudroom! You can stop at Mudroom to do some amazing crafts any time their open!

Between crafts, drinks, food, music, can can dancers, and all around Sunday Funday-Bastille Day was an amazing celebration of love and freedom and I’m glad I was able to join in all the fun! Thank you Aversa PR, Admore Initiatives, The Bercy, The Parlour, Mudroom and Delice Et Chocolat!

So now I know you’re thinking how much you missed. Well don’t be! This is all a great prelude to Ardmore Restaurant week where you can definitely stop in to The Bercy and Delice Et Chocolat or others by clicking on the link and stopping in!

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!

Ask Toi: How can you deal with a stolen best friend?

There is no such thing as a stolen best friend. Your friend could have another relationship that is making you feel like you’re missing out but no one can steal what’s already solid.

This principle applies to romantic relationships as well. Your friend could be growing in ways you aren’t. Whomever she is hanging out with appeals to the new growth. Her going out with other people is called life. No one can be so bound to one person that they can’t branch out and have other interests. You need to deal with your feelings and how it makes you feel. Drake says “no new friends” but the truth is although the new relationship may not ever get to the same status as you and her, the truth of the matter she can and will have other people she will gravitate towards that isn’t you!

Once you deal with your feeling surrounding how you feel you can make the time with your best friend more meaningful. You don’t have to compete with the new friend. You have an established bond like a sisterhood. You are still besties. Your friend has a new friend and it’s okay unless the new friend is a bad influence. If you can’t see a reason outside of she just shouldn’t be, deal with you so you can keep your friendship in tact and not come off as jealous! Nothing is worse than dealing with a friend that is jealous. It turns them into a mean spirited friend and that’s not something you want to be!

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!!